Archives for category: Recipe

These chewy fruit biscuits are brilliant when you want a little something sweet, but not too naughty. They make excellent finger food for babies too.

A couple of months ago I left my daughter Freya in the sports centre crèche whilst I went into the gym. When I went to collect her, I was told she had been given a biscuit. I tried not to react too strongly, but I think they could tell I was a little put out. They quickly assured me the biscuits were gluten-free and dairy-free and were perfectly fine to give to any 6 month old baby. They didn’t mention whether or not the biscuits were sugar-free or even salt-free, so I asked to see the packet.

I can’t remember the exact make of biscuit, but the list of ingredients looked something like this:

Maize Starch, Sugar, Soya Flour, Water, Palm Oil, Sugar Syrup, Salt, Flavourings, Raising Agent: Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate. 

Hmm. There are so many things that bother me about this list of ingredients and I’ll talk about them in future posts, but for now let’s just say I wouldn’t be happy putting these ingredients into my own body, let alone feeding them to a baby.

Freya was booked into the crèche again the very next day so I quickly raced home to come up with an alternative biscuit-type snack to send with her the next day.

I found this recipe. Freya loves them and I quite like them too! No processed food, flour or sugar: just good clean banana and oats. I shared the recipe with a friend who added a couple of chopped prunes to the mix, which made them even tastier. Since then, I’ve tried replacing the banana with mango. The biscuits come out a little bit soggier, but they still hold together and I absolutely love them. Oh, and so does Freya, of course…when I remember to leave any for her!

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It was my Mum’s birthday last week and she came to stay yesterday so I took the opportunity to try out a new birthday cake recipe. It’s a sugar-free carrot cake with mascarpone icing and it’s amazing.

I wasn’t sure how it would turn out or whether Mum would be happy with a sugar-free cake but I have to say it was a hit. Phew!

The cake is sweetened using dates rather than refined sugar. This means that whilst you should still eat it in moderation if you’re trying to watch your weight, it is a lot healthier and richer in nutrients than normal cake. Dates are packed with vitamins and minerals and are high in fibre so help with digestion. For more information on the health benefits of dates, have a look here.

Ingredients:

For the cake:

200g (7 oz) organic wholemeal spelt flour

3 tsp baking powder

110g (4 oz) finely chopped dates

75g (3 oz) unsweetened, desiccated coconut

50g (2 oz) finely chopped walnuts

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp mixed spice

110g (4 oz) melted coconut oil or sunflower oil

140g (5 oz) sultanas

2–3 large grated carrots

Zest of 1 orange and 2 tbsp orange juice

2 eggs, beaten

For the mascarpone icing:

225g (8oz) mascarpone

Zest and juice of 1 orange

Honey to drizzle

Walnuts to decorate

 

How to make it:

Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas Mark 2.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Add the coconut, dates, nuts and spices to the flour and mix them all together. In another bowl, mix the oil, sultanas, grated carrot, orange juice and zest. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well. Then add the eggs and mix thoroughly.

Spoon the mixture into a greased cake tin and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Check to see if it is cooked by inserting a knife into the middle. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. Allow the cake to rest in the tin for 10 minutes before turning it onto a wire rack to cool.

Whilst the cake is cooling, make the icing by mixing together the mascarpone, orange juice and zest. Spread over the cake and then drizzle honey over the top and decorate with walnuts if you wish.

We treated ourselves to a slice of this with a freshly ground coffee and it was delicious. A real treat without eating loads of refined sugar and white flour…although, we did devour over half the cake between 2 of us. Ah well, it was a birthday celebration after all.

Happy Birthday, Mum!

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Breakfast today was a lovely pear, blueberry, clove and ginger smoothie. Yep, I’m using cloves and ginger again!

Here’s how I made it:

1 pear

Around 125g of blueberries

4 cloves, ground

Root ginger, finely chopped

Put it all in the food processor and whizz it up. I added a handful of porridge oats and flaked almonds after I’d whizzed it up to add some texture and to slow down the absorption of the sugar from the fruit into my bloodstream.

A great start to the day and perfect for a pre-Pilates breakfast.

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I started my day off today with a lovely, cleansing ginger and clove drink. My mum swears by it and it’s actually this drink that inspired the title of my blog.

How to make it:

Boil the kettle. Chop up some ginger and pop it into a mug. Add 6-8 cloves. Pour in the boiled water. Top it up with boiled water throughout the day. Easy!

I added a squeeze of fresh lime this morning. Lemon works well too, and if you add a spoonful of honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon you’ve got yourself a delicious ‘hot toddy’, as my mum likes to call it.

Why it’s good for you?

Aside from tasting good, there are many health benefits to eating ginger and cloves regularly.

You only have to google ‘health benefits’ of either of these amazing spices and you’ll find loads of blogs and websites explaining just how healthy they are, so I won’t go into too many details here. But briefly:

Ginger is great for minor ailments like sickness and heartburn, and coughs and colds. It is also known to be an anti-inflammatory so it could help people with osteoarthritis, and it is even thought to provide protection against cancer. The article here on www.naturalsociety.com is very informative and interesting, especially the bit about ginger’s cancer fighting abilities:

“The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center found out through their research that ginger can also destroy ovarian cancer cells. What’s more, they found that ginger triggered two types of cell death – apoptosis and autophagy. “Apoptosis…results from cancer cells essentially committing suicide.”

Read more: http://naturalsociety.com/benefits-of-ginger/#ixzz2JfUZe53J

Cloves are rich in antioxidants and like ginger they help fight infections, and relieve digestive problems and arthritis pain. They also have antiseptic qualities that are great for the immune system and for maintaining dental health. Have a look at this article on www.antioxidants-for-health-and-longevity.com for more information.

I’ll be testing out some recipes using these ‘super spices’ and sharing them if they’re good. If you have any good recipes, please share. x

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Here’s one of my new favourite recipes to get us started. It’s a guilt-free cake fix. Give it a go, adapt it a little if you want and let me know what you think.

These sugar free muffins are great for when I need a bit of cake without the guilt or the post-cake sugar crash. They are moist and delicious with a subtle sweetness. I make them for my 8 month old daughter so I don’t add any sugar to the mixture, but sometimes I treat myself by spreading them with a bit of butter or honey. Yum!

Ingredients:

150g (5 ½ oz) wholemeal spelt flour

1 ½ tsp gluten free baking powder

½ tsp cinnamon

A couple of handfuls of sultanas

60g (2 oz) coconut oil or butter

2 large eggs, beaten

3 medium apples, grated

3-4 tbsp milk

How to make them:

Preheat oven 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5.

Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Gently melt the butter or coconut oil. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, grated apple and melted butter and mix well. Then pour the apple mixture into the flour and fold together. Add enough milk to give a soft dropping consistency. Spoon the mixture into greased muffin tins and cook for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

I use whatever apples I have lying around, usually the ones that are going a bit wrinkly in the fruit bowl! However, if you want to get more flavour, you could experiment by using a stronger tasting apple like a cooking apple.

To add a bit of natural sweetness, you could try adding honey to the mixture or a bit of freshly squeezed fruit juice, some orange zest or even some chopped dates. If you try these any of these, please let me know how it goes.

Also, try them with 2 medium carrots instead of apples for a slightly different taste.