Sweet Potato Brownies

I love brownies. It’s one of my favourite desserts! Sadly, the ones that you can usually find at the supermarkets are hyper caloric and contain lots of sugar, preservatives and colourants.

I recently found a recipe from Ella Woodward on the BBC food website that looked so yummy but I modified it a bit to my liking. They are delicious!

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Ingredients:

2 medium-large sweet potatoes (600 grams)

14 Medjool dates, pitted

40 grams of milled flax, sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds & goji berries mixture (you can get this from Holland & Barrett in the UK. I have seen it in supermarkets too!)

40 grams of shelled hemp

1/2 mug buckwheat flour (100 grams)

4 tablespoons raw cacao powder

3 tablespoons agave syrup

pinch of salt

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Peel and wash the sweet potatoes. Cut them into chunks and steam them until they become really soft.

Once they are soft and beginning to fall apart, remove them and add them to a food processor with the pitted dates. Blend until a smooth, creamy mix forms.

Put the remaining ingredients into a bowl, before mixing in the sweet potato and date combination. Stir well.

Place the mix into a lined baking dish and cook for about 20 or 30 minutes, until you can pierce the brownie cake with a fork.

Remove the tray and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes. This is really important, as the brownies need this time to stick together!

That’s it! As you can see, these brownies are incredibly easy to make, they won’t take you long and are a real healthy treat.

R x

 

 

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Nut-free Granola Cookies

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Wow! I can’t believe it’s been so long since the last time that I posted something. I have been so immersed in writing my dissertation that I had kind of forgotten that I have a life!

Whenever I am feeling very stressed, I tend to follow a “ritual” to keep myself sane. In the mornings I like to drink a warm cup of water with natural lemon juice just after waking up. You need to think that you have been sleeping for at least 8 hours so your body is feeling pretty dehydrated at this point. Lemon also contains vitamin C so it’s a great way to start your day!

After this, I try to do at least an hour of exercise in the morning before I start doing any kind of work. It helps me to clear my mind, relaxes my muscles, gets rid of any tensions that I might have and makes me feel so much better for the rest of the day.

At the moment, I am really enjoying doing some workout videos by Keaira Lashae, The Fitness Marshall and Rebecca-Louise. If you haven’t heard of them, I recommend that you go and check them out. They are so much fun, they will get you fit and you’ll sweat like nothing else! Another alternative is to go for a walk, do Pilates, running or swimming. They are some of my favourite sports anyway!

When you have so much work to do, it is also important to eat a balance and healthy diet. If you tend to nibble a lot when you get stressed, try to have healthy snacks nearby. I made these cookies for breakfast the other day and they were a huge success! You can have one accompanied by a glass of soya milk for breakfast. They are so yummy! These cookies are also nut free so if anyone in your family is allergic to nuts, then this is a great option. Here is the recipe:

Ingredients: 

  • 50 grams of low-fat margarine or butter
  • 50 grams of caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp of Manuka honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 50 grams of wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • 80 grams of porridge oats
  • 25 grams of dried cranberries
  • 25 grams of raisins
  • 20 grams of sesame seeds
  • 20 grams of pumpkin seeds

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Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160 C (fan assisted – if not make it 180 C) / gas mark 4.
  2. Grab a bowl and use it to mix the margarine, sugar and honey together. I used an electric whisk but if you don’t own one, a big wooden spoon will work too. It’ll just take a bit longer!
  3. Add the egg and ground cinnamon. Mix everything together thoroughly.
  4. Grab another bowl and mix together the flour, baking powder, oats, raisins, cranberries, sesame & pumpkin seeds. Once you are done, add this mix to the margarine and sugar mixture and stir to form the cookie dough.
  5. Grease a large baking tray. Drop heaped dessertspoonfuls of the cookie dough onto the baking tray. They will approximately doubly in size, so leave enough space between them. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the cookies are lightly golden.  Don’t overcook or the cookies will become dark brown and very tough.
  6. Remove the cookies from the oven. They should still be a tiny bit soft to the touch. Leave them on the tray for a minute to settle, then transfer them to a wire cooling tray until completely cooled down.
  7. Enjoy!  But remember to keep any left over in an air-tight container so they stay fresh.

I would like to find a substitute for the sugar in this recipe to make it even healthier so if you have any suggestions, please leave a comment on this post. I’d love to hear from you!

R x

Salmorejo cordobés garnished with egg and Ibérico ham

This is a traditional Spanish dish from Córdoba (Andalucía). It’s similar to gazpacho and so is normally served in the summer as a refreshing way to keep cool. I like to serve it with egg and Ibérico ham – that’s a cured ham typical of Spain. The difference between gazpacho and salmorejo is that gazpacho normally has sweet peppers and vinegar, plus the additional bread in salmorejo makes it a thicker mixture. Both are normally served as a starter; you could try serving in shot glasses as part of series of little tapas! Traditionally it was made using a pestle and mortar – but modern technology makes it much easier!

The tomatoes mean that this soup is rich in vitamin C and also has lots of antioxidants, including lycopene. Fresh tomatoes have been shown to help lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Garlic is also beneficial for our health. You can read about it here.

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Salmorejo cordobés
Ingredients (for 4 people):

1 kilo of tomatoes
200 gr. of breadcrumbs (best if it’s one or two days old)
1 garlic clove (you can add more, depending how strong you like it!)
100ml extra virgin olive oil
100 gr. of Ibérico ham
2 eggs
375 ml of still water
salt
parsley

Instructions:

  1. Boil the eggs in a saucepan for 10 minutes, afterwards run under cold water and leave to cool.
  2. Wash the tomatoes, chop and put into a bowl or food processor.
  3. Blend the tomatoes until fully chopped.
  4. Sieve the tomatoes (I use something called a pasapurés) to remove the skin.
  5. Return to the bowl and add the breadcrumbs, water, chopped garlic and oil.
  6. Blend the mixture until a smooth cream.  Add salt to taste.
  7. Place in the fridge to cool.
  8. Peel and dice the eggs, along with the ham.
  9. Serve in a bowl, with the egg and ham sprinkled over the top and decorated with a sprig of parsley.

That’s it! Simple and tasty. ¡Buen provecho! 🙂

R x

 

Kiwi, coconut and chia popsicles

IMG_20160701_211306Wow, I can’t believe it’s been so long since the last time I posted an article on my blog. I have been feeling very demotivated with this horrible weather. I mean, seriously… IT’S JULY!!! When on earth is it going to stop raining!?!?

Fortunately I will be going on some very well deserved holidays soon so in order to get me into the summer mood I decided to make some popsicles. The recipe is not mine (I found it in “The Little Epicurean blog” which, by the way, is AWESOME!) but I thought that it was so delicious that it deserved being shared with everyone else! I will be making some more in the next few weeks so keep an eye on my food section 🙂

The reason why I like this recipe so much is that it contains ingredients that I love. I introduced kiwis into my diet about a year ago or so and it’s been a great discovery for me as it helps with my digestion. It also has coconut milk, soya milk, chia seeds (a great source of Omega 3) and agave syrup. The recipe is pretty simple, it makes about 10 popsicles and it will only take you about 15 minutes to prepare so this is the perfect alternative to those cheeky hyper caloric ice-creams!

I modified the amounts a bit so these are the ingredients that I used:

  • 240 ml of canned coconut milk. I used the brand Blue Dragon but you can get any that you like.
  • 240 ml of soya milk. I love ALPRO soya milk. This brand is simply amazing! You can check their products by clicking here.
  • 5 tsp of chia seeds. On this occasion I used milled ones but, if you prefer, you can use whole ones. I bought them in Holland and Barrett.
  • 3 tsp of agave syrup. Add more if you want your popsicles to taste sweeter.
  • 4 kiwis, peeled and sliced.

Instructions:

  1. Stir together the coconut milk, soya milk, chia seeds and agave syrup.
  2. Place the sliced kiwis into the popsicle moulds. Use chopsticks or the back of a spoon to press the kiwis to the sides of the mould.
  3. Gently pour the liquid mixture into the popsicle moulds. Insert the popsicle sticks. Freeze for at least 4 hours until the popsicles are solid.
  4. Enjoy!

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I can’t tell you how delicious these little gems are! I hope you like them too and I look forward to hearing about the ones that you have made.

Have a lovely evening!

R x

Matcha, Nectar of the Gods

20160517_143433I love drinking tea and trying different and exciting flavours. I’d heard that lately there was a tendency for drinking and baking anything with matcha tea in it, so I thought I’d give it a go and see what all the fuss was about.

Matcha tea has been a very important ingredient in traditional Chinese and Japanese tea ceremonies since the 12th century and it is also related to Zen Buddhism.

A lot of people talk about the health benefits of drinking this tea. It is rich in vitamins A, B-complex, C, E and K, packed with antioxidant properties and helps to decrease high blood pressure and boost your energy levels. All these benefits seem like a winner to me!

A few months ago when I was on my way to work, I found a new store in Regent Street called T2 Tea. From what I read on their website, they started in Australia and have been running for 20 years but it was only recently that they have started to open up in foreign markets such as London.

T2 Tea sells all sort of lovely items: flasks, mugs, tumblers, bowls, jugs, teapots, etc. Their range of tea is actually quite impressive. If you go into one of their stores, you will find yourself surrounded by loads of little tea boxes. Seriously… they are everywhere!

I bought my first matcha pot here. A tin of 30 grams will cost you £20.00. It is not cheap but the quality is pretty noticeable so I think it is worth it. I am a big fan of Darjeeling, white organic, green, gunpowder and Jasmine tea but trying this was something else!

The first impression you receive will probably not be pleasant… or at least that is what happened to me! The smell and the taste are quite strong so when you make your tea, it is very important to follow the preparation steps properly and in particular using much less tea than you might normally.

If the water temperature is not quite right, your tea won’t taste nice. It is recommended to use water that is not quite boiling. It is equally important to measure the amount of tea powder that you will be using carefully so you don´t end up adding too much. You don´t want to end up having a chlorophyll overdose… just kidding! Finally, you also need to get yourself a bamboo whisk to mix it properly – this website has some good tips for making matcha tea.

There are loads of places today where you can buy this tea; one alternative that I spotted was Bloom Absolutely Matcha Green Tea Powder. I found this one in Holland & Barrett. Here a pot containing 30 grams will cost you around £16.99 and it tastes just as good as the other brands that I have tried.

My last suggestion for you is the Pukka supreme matcha green. If you feel like you just want to give this a try to see whether you like it or not, this is your best choice. You can find these teabags in supermarkets like Sainsbury’s or Waitrose. Each box contains 20 sachets and sells for £2.39. I think they are luscious and it is a great way to step into the fascinating world of the matcha tea.  You don’t get to use the bamboo whisk though!

Cheers!

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New cooking books

I am a big fan of Waterstones. I could get lost in that store for hours! I recently visited one of their biggest shops in Piccadilly Circus and purchased two cooking books that I now A-B-S-O-L-U-T-E-L-Y adore!

Let’s start with the famous blogger Madeleine Shaw. I have been following her website and using her recipes for a while. She has always been a source of inspiration for me as I had issues with my body weight and eating habits pretty much since I was in high school. I love her ideas on healthy eating!

The blog is full of amazing tips where you can learn how to improve your lifestyle and change your nutrition habits. Her most recent book Ready, Steady, Glow is very affordable. I found it in Waterstones for £14.00 but you can purchase it on Amazon for £8.99. It is full of nourishing recipes and includes a meal plan for those who, like me, struggle to get themselves organised in the kitchen during the week.

I love the fact that this book holds a healthy fast food section. Sometimes I get so busy that I don´t even have time to think about what I am going to eat when I get home in the evening. That is where the danger resides… when you get home without an eating plan and you start nibbling anything you find like a voracious rat.

Naughty!

This is one of the reasons why this book comes in so handy for me. In the 30-minute mains section you will find a wide range of delightful healthy recipes. They are very easy to prepare and the variety of ingredients is wonderful: couscous, quinoa, prawns, beetroot, salmon, coconut oil, kale, you name it! And all in 30 minutes… or there about. It sometimes takes me a bit longer (I’m not going on Masterchef any time soon), but they are quick and easy recipes that always turn out delicious.

There is also a yoga section towards the end with exercises that you can attempt to do at home. I was scared to try these by myself as I am not a yogi and my knowledge of this discipline is very limited. I am more of a Pilates fan. But hey, I decided to give these a go and found out that they were quite approachable!

A few years ago I started to suffer from lower back pains so stretching has become a crucial part in my daily routine workouts. These exercises are very simple and will leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. I usually practise them in the garden after I have woken up so I can hear the sound of the birds and feel the morning dew. It is a great way to start your day.

The other book that I have recently found was designed by the wonderful Lorraine Pascale. This costs £20.00 in Waterstones but can be found on Amazon for £7.00. It is a fantastic alternative for those indulgent and extra cheeky recipes which I love but are not allowed in my weekly diet…. basically because I would turn into a big walking balloon…!

Anyway, here you will find a wide range of breads, cakes, puddings and some savoury recipes. One thing that I like a lot about this book is that she shows the comparisons of both the original recipe and her own version with the amount of calories, fat, salt, protein and sugar.

When I was reading her introduction, I remember how she mentioned that she struggled to reduce the amount of sugar and fat. I am not a nutrition expert (so your comments here are more than welcome!), but one product that I have recently included in my diet to avoid using sugar and still maintain the sweet touch is the Agave nectar syrup. I usually get this from Holland & Barrett but it can also be found at Sainsbury´s for £2.50. You only need a tiny amount so, if you are sensible, it will last you for a long time 🙂

I was very sad when I noticed back in 2014 that Lorraine had closed down her bakery the Cupcake Bakehouse in Covent Garden. Her career is truly impressive. She did modelling for Versace and Donna Karan, met celebrities like Kate Moss or Naomi Campbell and had her own cooking show at the BBC. I think her most recent book is called Eating Well Made Easy: Deliciously Healthy Recipes for Everyone, Every day and can be found in Amazon for  £9.00. I will let you know what I think of it once I have finished reading it.

Have a lovely weekend!

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