Breakfast, Make-ahead

Bircher Muesli

Bircher muesli is one of my favourite breakfasts. Especially at the minute, when there are luscious, fresh, locally-grown berries for sale everywhere, just ready to become the topping for my creamy, oaty breakfast. My favourite has to be strawberries and blueberries/raspberries (which anyone will know if they happen to quickly glance at my Instagram account). I’m a berry addict! Although, I am also partial to a topping of banana or dried figs.

I’ve not had much time to experiment with my breakfasts lately as I’ve been bogged down with preparation for my mid-PhD report/presentation/viva, but this trusty muesli has had my back. It is always there to put a smile on my face and a spring in my step. All I have to do is make sure I remember to prepare the muesli on a Sunday evening (which is super easy) and I am then provided with a quick and nutritious breakfast for the next five days – perfect for the working week, when I don’t really have to the time in the morning to be slaving away over breakfast.

Thankfully, I successfully completed my PhD upgrade, and I’m now looking down the bleak and frightening road that leads me to the end. At least for now my time has freed up a little, and I can concentrate on cooking up some good food to keep me healthy through the tough times ahead! Sometimes it is hard to stay on track, especially after a bad day (or bad week!) in the lab, but I find that lots of pre-made meals, such as this Bircher muesli, makes it a lot easier to shun the foods commonly associated with ’emotional eating’.

I tend to stick with breakfasts that are ‘pre-made’ (maybe I should change that phrase to ‘pre-homemade’?) because they mostly involve a lot of oats. I have a thing for oats, if you hadn’t noticed. The fibre in them is really great for digestive health and cholesterol levels, and they have loads of great minerals, such as manganese, selenium and phosphorus, that we require for numerous different cellular functions.

There’s nothing better that starting your day with this!

This is what you need:

180g whole rolled oats

350ml water

1 tsp cinnamon

50g raisins/mixed dried fruit

40g almonds, chopped

25g coconut flakes

1 apple

1/2 cup Greek yoghurt (not pictured – oops!)

(You can play around with the amounts and types of nuts and dried fruit you use – the ones here I guess are guidelines.)

This is how you make it:

Add the oats, cinnamon, dried fruit and nuts to a large bowl. Add the water, cover in cling film (or put into a tub and seal the lid).

Leave to soak overnight.

In the morning, grate the apple. Mix the grated apple and Greek yoghurt into the oats.

Keep it in the fridge in a covered bowl for the next 5 days! If it separates a little, just give it a stir before you scoop some out into your bowl.

Stay happy,

Alice x

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Breakfast, Smoothies & Shakes

Glorious Green Smoothie

Everyone loves a smoothie, right? Well, we do in this house (flat)! My favourites are the green smoothies, whereas Liam loves the more indulgent ones – frozen banana, milk, chocolate and peanut butter, for example.
I love green smoothies. Why? For starters, they helped me kick my caffeine habit. It wasn’t a bad one, but I was always conscious that my intake was slowly increasing. I went from one instant coffee a couple of times a week, to 1 instant with breakfast, 1 americano when I got to work, and then another americano in the afternoon, all in about 3 years. This was too much for me! I still enjoy a cup at home at the weekend, but now I really enjoy it without feeling like a slave to it.

My motivation to get rid of the coffee came when I bought the Honestly Healthy recipe book. It is really informative on which foods are acid-forming in the body (which is bad). Coffee is apparently one of the worst. I was also more than aware that coffee can actually cause more tiredness – anyone who saw me around 3pm would have known this too.
I needed something to substitute for the coffee, but also give me a bit of a boost in energy. Enter the green smoothie!
I won’t lie… the headaches and tiredness were pretty bad – I decided to (pretty much) go cold turkey. But, it passed, and I felt really good.
Now, all this liquid veg and lack of coffee does my energy levels wonders!
I also love the fact that before, I would never eat a stick of celery, or a kiwi, or a handful of kale in any regular day. I would never eat a stick of celery in any day to be honest – I think it tastes quite vile. But whizz it up in a concoction of nutritious green yummy-ness and I’ll drink one straight down, no problem.

All of these vegetables and fruits that would have never made it into my meals or snacks, are now giving me all this extra nutrition that I wasn’t getting before. Bonus! I have recovered from the coffee-induced slump and gained an extra boost from the veg.  
This green smoothie is one of my favourites. It is from the Honestly Healthy book, with a little extra addition of a banana (or mango if you don’t like banana). I still drink one every morning ‘in replace of my coffee’ even though my coffee habit is long gone. If this is my new habit, well, I don’t think I will be trying to kick it just yet!

You will need:

A large handful of spinach

1 kiwi, skin and white centre removed

2 celery stalks, ends removed

1/4 avocado

1 banana (or about 6 x 1 inch chunks frozen/fresh mango)

10cm piece of cucumber (approx. 1/4 – 1/3 cucumber)

1/2 lemon, juiced

250ml cold, filtered water

8-12 ice cubes, depending on size

This is what you do:

1. Wash the celery, spinach and cucumber.

2. Put the spinach in the blender first. Chop the rest of the solid ingredients and add to the blender.

3. Juice the lemon into a small bowl. Really go for it! Then remove any seeds that popped out. Pour the juice into the blender.

4. Add the water and ice cubes.

5. Blend until smooth!

Stay Happy,

Alice x

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Breakfast, Make-ahead

Almond & Pumpkin Seed Granola

Oats are such a traditional breakfast staple, but until recently I rarely ate them. I had to have a breakfast rethink though, because I just didn’t have time to make poached eggs on wholegrain toast anymore! I kept running out of time before having to leave to catch the train to London, and I never failed to forget something. My favourite item to forget was my keys. Liam has even given me a nickname for when I forget things! To save myself from running around in a panic, trying to remember everything I need for every step of the day, I needed to claw back some time.

When searching for a quick and easy, but healthy breakfast, I remembered the modest oat. I didn’t want to be cooking anything, so porridge was out the window – I wanted something slightly more exciting anyway! I found many delicious-sounding recipes for granola, and I was sold. The thought of waking up to a breakfast of granola, Greek yoghurt and fresh fruit was a mouth-watering one. I love how I can now crawl out of bed and into the kitchen, and about 1 minute later I have a really nutritious and filling breakfast.

Not only is this granola pretty darn tasty, but it is filled with nutritious goodies too; Adding seeds and nuts to the granola ensures a great range of vitamins and minerals in your granola bowl. The oats themselves are the stars of the show, though. Oats are really high in a type of dietary fibre called beta-glucan, which we don’t naturally produce in our bodies. This fibre helps regulate our immune system, helping us fight off natsy pathogens, and is also strongly linked to preventing weight gain and increasing insulin resistance, which helps reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. 

Play around with combinations of nuts, seeds and dried fruit to find a combination you love.

It all depends on whether you gorge yourself with granola for breakfast, brunch, afternoon snack and supper or not, but this recipe fed me for over a week. Obviously it is easy to double up, too.

This is what you need:

Dry ingredients:

2 cups whole rolled oats
1/4 cup / 50g pumpkin seeds (you can use no/different seeds if you wish)
1/3 cup / 65g almonds, roughly chopped (you can use no/different nuts if you wish)
1 1/2 Tbsp Ground flax seed
1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/4 Tsp vanilla extract
a pinch of sea salt

Wet ingredients:

2 Tbsp coconut oil
2 Tbsp maple syrup (or honey)
1 very ripe banana, roughly mashed

Extras:

1/3 cup / 50g raisins/dried fruit

To serve:

2-3 Tbsp Greek yoghurt
Strawberries/pomegranate/blueberries/banana/other fruit of your choice

This is what you do:

1. Preheat your oven to 190°C (170°C Fan)

2. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl

3. Combine the wet ingredients in a bowl and smush it all together with your (clean) hands. You want to make sure it is all combined. Don’t worry if it is a little lumpy, but try to make it as smooth as possible.

4. Tip the wet ingredients on top of the dry ingredients, and mix away! Make sure it is really well mixed. Use your hands for this too.

5. Pour it all out on a baking tray, making sure it is evenly spread.

6. Bake for 10 minutes, stir it around a bit, then bake for another 10 minutes. Depending on your oven, you may need a few minutes longer. Keep a keen eye on it though… You don’t want burnt granola!

7. Let cool before stirring in the raisins/dried fruit. Store in an airtight container in the cupboard/kitchen side.

8. Enjoy with yoghurt and fresh fruit!

Stay happy,

Alice x

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