Archives for posts with tag: Baking

We’re 10 days into February already. Where has that time gone?

How has your ‘Love Yourself’ month been going so far? For me, last week was all about getting back into my writing. This went brilliantly but I was still struggling with my other goal, which was to get back into my normal healthy eating habits. We’d had a flood at my house and ended up living with my parents-in-law for two weeks. It’s incredible how not having my own space to cook, exercise and relax in can have such a massive impact on my mood and eating habits. I love my parents-in-law and they couldn’t have made me feel more welcome, but I’ve never been good in other people’s environments. I’m a home-bird and for some reason, the moment I’m in someone else’s space I start to feel out of control and anxious, which leads to comfort eating. Sigh!

But, good news, we moved back into our house on Friday and I instantly began to feel better. As part of ‘Love Yourself’ February, I’ve decided to promise myself a treat each week. Last week I’d promised I would buy a brand new clean-eating cook book and set aside a couple of hours at the weekend to sit down and read through it. So I did.

I bought the new Deliciously Ella book and made a point of starting right from the beginning and reading through the introduction instead of skipping straight to the recipes. Ella is a beautiful writer and has an inspiring story and the recipes all seem to be very simple and relatively quick to make, which is always a bonus for me. I enjoy cooking, but I don’t have a lot of time in the week so I’m always looking for healthy, but convenient meal ideas. You can find out more about Ella at her website: www.deliciouslyella.com.

I took a few recipes from Ella’s book and also decided on a few of my old favourites that I hadn’t made for a few weeks. Then I got cooking. On Sunday morning, I did the fun baking stuff with my 2-year-old. We made raw chocolate energy balls (known in my household as ‘power balls’) to go in the freezer for when we want something lovely and sweet; we made blueberry muffins from the Deliciously Ella cook book and put those in the freezer too. Then I made a new batch of sweet potato gnocchi. I usually have this in the freezer at all times as a quick meal to give to my daughter. She loves it and once the gnocchi is made it’s even quicker than pasta to cook.

That was a pretty good start, but it got even better. Yesterday morning, I made my favourite homemade baked beans (just chop up and fry onion and garlic, then add tomato puree, passata, a bit of vegetable stock and some beans. I went with cannellini beans and butter beans this time. Yum!). I also made the the quinoa tabbouleh from Deliciously Ella’s cookbook, coconut chicken nuggets from I Quit Sugar and then I made a delicious frittata in the evening. OK, I know that’s a lot of cooking but it only took a couple of hours in the morning and about 30 minutes in the evening and now I have loads of delicious food waiting for me in the fridge. Just knowing I’ve put in all the hard work and have so much good food waiting for me when I need a quick meal makes me feel calmer and more positive about being able to eat healthily throughout the week. It may seem like a chore, but I definitely think it’s worth taking a little time each week to prioritise your health because if you can get that right, then you’ll have so much more energy and motivation in other areas of your life.

x

Ps. I’m sure I’m not alone in finding stories about people who have healed themselves through food intriguing and inspiring. As well as the Deliciouly Ella blog, I have found Against All Grain and I Quit Sugar so helpful and I go back to them time and time again for inspiration. I’d love to get some recommendations from readers if you know of any other good blogs.

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This has to be one of my favourite recipes yet. It uses ground almonds instead of flour so it’s gluten-free, really moist, and tastes amazing.

You might have noticed by now that I’m a bit of a lazy baker so, as always with my recipes, this has relatively few ingredients and takes hardly any time to make. It doesn’t contain much sugar so you could use normal sugar and not feel too bad about it. I used coconut sugar, which tastes just as sweet and is rich in nutrients.

Ingredients:

200g ground almonds
125g gluten-free flour (make sure it doesn’t contain soya)
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1-2 tbsp organic brown sugar or coconut sugar (depending on taste)
40g butter
½ tsp vanilla extract
50-100g organic raisins (depending on taste)
3-6 tbsp milk

How to make it:

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

Add together the almonds, flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar. Rub in the butter until the mixture looks like bread crumbs. Stir in the sultanas and vanilla extra. Add the milk and use a knife to cut it into the mixture until you have a sticky dough. Do not add all of the milk straight away just in case you don’t need it: this mixture is wetter than normal scone mixture and sticks together very easily.

Place it on a greased baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown on top. Leave it to cool on the tray and then move onto a wire rack once it has firmed up a bit.

Pour yourself a lovely cup of tea, coffee, lemon water, herbal tea…cut a slice of scone and then sit back and relax.

Happy Easter, everyone.

x

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This one’s for my little sister, Ruth. For weeks we’ve been trying to come up with a sugar-free, syrup-free flapjack recipe that actually holds together and doesn’t just crumble the minute you pick it up.

We’ve tried out a few recipes using honey and whilst some of them have been very successful – like this delicious version by my friend, Sarah – I’ve wanted to go that little bit further and find a recipe that’s honey-free as well. Honey can be really good for you in so many ways, but it’s still a form of sugar and once I get a taste of it I want more and more and more….

So, I’ve come up with a very simple flapjack recipe that is lovely as a snack or as a quick breakfast when you’re pushed for time and, like many of my recipes, it makes a perfect snack for baby Freya too.

You may remember the cheesy flapjack recipe I posted a week or so ago. This recipe is a sweet version of that.

Ingredients:

100g (4 oz) oats

2 large cooking apple, grated

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 tbsp melted butter or coconut oil

About 10 prunes, chopped (the softer the prunes, the better)

How to make it:

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl until well mixed. Press into a greased tin so the mixture is about 1″ thick. Bake for around 20 mins until golden on top, remove from oven. Cool slightly before cutting into pieces (makes 14-16 fingers).

You could also experiment by adding other dried fruit and nuts of your choice. It doesn’t matter how much you add as long as you make sure the mixture is moist and sticky when it goes into the oven. I’d suggest adding more apple if you’re using loads of nuts because you don’t want the flapjack becoming too dry once baked.

Let me know how you get on.

x

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Good morning, everyone. I have so many food- and exercise-related things I want to share with you, but I’ve set myself a goal of finishing the synopsis for my children’s novel this week so I’m trying not to get too distracted by other writing, i.e. this blog!

For now, here’s a very quick, very easy sugar-free biscuit recipe.

Ingredients:

175g wholemeal spelt flour or gluten-free flour (make sure it doesn’t have soya in it)

1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp mixed spice

100g honey

100g coconut oil or sunflower oil

3 handfuls of chopped walnuts

3 handfuls of cocoa nibs

How to make them:

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5.

If you’re using coconut oil, melt it in a pan and then leave it to cool slightly. Sift the flour, baking powder and mixed spice into a bowl. Add the nuts and cocoa nibs. Pour in the sunflower oil or coconut oil and add the honey. Mix it all together with a wooden spoon until well mixed.

Place balls of the mixture onto a greased baking tray and flatten slightly. Bake for 8-12 minutes.

Easy!

x

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Here’s a delicious recipe to brighten your weekend, courtesy of my friend Jemma Parker. Be warned, it’s a bit too nice!

Ingredients:

100g (4 oz) oats
100g (4 oz) cheese, grated
1 carrot, grated
1 apple, grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp melted butter or coconut oil
Pinch of black pepper

How to make it:

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl until well mixed. Press into a greased tin so the mixture is about 1″ thick. Bake for around 20 mins until golden on top, remove from oven. Cool slightly before cutting into pieces (makes 14-16 fingers).

x

 

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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!

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.

Here’s my confession: I love food…especially cake. It makes me happy!

Perhaps you’re thinking that’s not much of a confession but as a dancer and fitness fanatic, it’s sometimes difficult to admit something like that. Well, I’m not going to deny it any longer. I love sweet treats and cakes and breads and yummy, comforting fatty foods. I love to bake; I love to eat; I love reading recipe books and watching The Great British Bake Off and overindulging when I meet up with my friends. I also love being fit and healthy and being in control of my body; I love knowing that what goes into my body is natural and nutritious.

This blog is about all of these things. I will be discovering and sharing healthy but indulgent recipes, talking about my favourite foods, and trying out new ways of exercising and staying healthy.

Please get in touch with your own recipes, healthy eating tips and fitness news. x