(Paleo) pumpkin seed and cranberry bircher

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I’ve been a fan of traditional (oatie) bircher for many years, so initially only developed this lighter, crunchier paleo version for the sake a visiting friend. Given I sometimes find the classic recipe a little heavy and, dare I say it, potentially gloopy, I was keen to experiment. As it turns out, the fresh, tangy apple against nutty, popping seeds is pretty damn fine. And as a bi-product, we have another paleo breakfast.

Paleo pumpkin seed & cranberry bircher

Paleo pumpkin seed & cranberry bircher

INGREDIENTS

1 apple, grated
1 tbsp ground almonds
1 tbsp toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds
1/2 dsp linseed / flax (much cheaper than chia!)
1 tbsp desiccated coconut
2 tbsp natural bio yoghurt
1 dsp dried cranberries

For Non Paleo / Oatie bircher, add:

2 tbsp porridge oats
1 tbsp yoghurt (additional to above)
2 tbsp cow’s, almond, coconut or rice milk

METHOD

Add ingredients in order listed above to a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Set aside for an hour for the flavours to develop fully. Stir and serve as is. Delicious and nut

Making-bircher

This recipe keeps well in the fridge so I do a bigger batch, setting me up with Breakfasts-to-Go for a busy week.

Raw cacao & almond pralines

Posted in: DF, N, S, SF, Uncategorized, V, WF

Woo your Valentine with chocolates which aren’t only devoid of bad stuff, they’re packed with goodness, and The LOVE Drug. As an added bonus, these insanely tasty little morsels take all of 6 minutes to make (I’ve timed it); freeing you up for some extra loving.

Praline-centre

In it’s raw, unprocessed state cacao’s loaded with antioxidants, iron, zinc (said to increase testosterone, stamina and libido..!), calcium and potassium. Cacao also helps produce the body’s happy hormone, seratonin and there’s the Love Drug: Phenylethylamine is said to mimic the feeling of being in love. Minus the drama. And if that doesn’t float your boat, there are always the almonds. Apparently the aroma induces passionate thoughts in women – Samson’s strategy with Delilah…

Makes 25 chocolates (depending on your mould)

Ingredients

1/2 cup cacao butter or coconut oil
2 1/2 tbsp raw cacao
2 tbsp maple syrup or agave
1 tbsp almond butter
1 tbsp macadamia butter. Optional but makes the chocolates sweeter and creamier.

Cacao-pralines

raw-cacao-pralines,-lace

Method

In a bain-marie (bowl placed with a pan of simmering water) very gently melt the cacao butter. Stir in the cacao powder, removing any lumps, followed by the maple syrup. Take care not to boil or over heat or you’ll obliterate the fantastic health benefits of raw cacao.

Check for sweetness and consistency, adding more maple syrup for a sweeter tooth (remember the nut butter will also sweeten). As you’d expect, cacao thickens, butter  adds gloss and thins out.

Pour into moulds or ice cube trays and freeze for 30 mins. Transfer to a fridge to store. Eat. See, quicker than a desperate dash to the garage for Dairy Milk.

For any of you balking at the price of cacao (it isn’t cheap): It packs such a punch, that very little goes a very long way. I’ve had my bag for at least 6 months and I make a LOT of energy bites and chocolates. So, it’s quite possible that gram for gram, it’s cheaper than Cadbury’s.

 

Porridge of fairytales

Posted in: DF, S, SF, Uncategorized, V, WF

Being a Scot (albeit a half Spanish one), I should probably apologise that this post is only now appearing on Wholesome Seduction; I was weaned on porridge. Literally. Although vocally apathetic as a child (what’s wrong with Frosties and Coco Pops?!), I grew to crave the creamy coziness of this breakfast… and / or supper (see aforementioned craving). Here are my simple steps, and added tricks, for creating porridge Goldilocks would be proud of. Englishers, take note: a pinch of salt is compulsory. As a rule, I prefer to err away from dogmatic recipes, but on this I stand firm.

Porridge

Feeds: 1

INGREDIENTS

1 cup / part porridge oats (jumbo if poss)
2 cups / parts water
Good dash of cow’s milk, or sub for mylk or your choice
1 dsp ground almonds – optional but it makes for a thicker, creamier porridge
Pinch Himalayan pink or sea salt – non negotiable!

Toppings:

1 dsp dried cranberries
Knob of butter or coconut oil

METHOD

Soak the oats in the water and salt overnight if possible, or for 1/2 hr.  Not a deal breaker but it helps in the creamy porridge stakes, and it’s quicker to cook on a cold winter morning.

Cook on a low heat (again = creamier), stirring intermittently until it starts to bubble and thicken. Stir through the milk and ground almonds until you reach the consistency you prefer – I like my porridge pretty thick.

Fold through cranberries if using, remove from the heat, cover and set aside for a couple of mins. Again, adding the creamy thickness.

Transfer to bowls and eat as is, or topped with your favourites: milk, banana, seeds, berries, tahini, yoghurt etc. My personal Go To: dried cranberries and knob of butter (kinda’ wish I hadn’t discovered this) or coconut oil.

Wooden spoon optional but it really does seem to taste better…

For the real deal, with a ridiculous Highland view, I’m yet to find better porridge than that of Mumma Garcia-Macintyre of Netherton Farm. She claims it’s the water / Aga / overconvoluted mix of oatmeal and porridge oats (I kept things simple!); either way, it rests on the stove every morning. If you’re ever in the Scottish Highlands…

 

Cacao nut energy bites

Posted in: DF, Featured, N, S, SF, Uncategorized, V, WF

Another relentlessly popular snack worthy of a re-post. Packed with nothing but (seriously) good stuff, these were a crowd pleaser at a recent Lululemon event and an energy staple on my Tarifa Yoga Holidays. They’re even a winner at parties, in fact, energy bites are fast becoming the new chocolate brownie of cafes. Nutritionist colleague, Kate’s added her recipe to our Gather & Gather meetings and snack range. So much more productive than a sugar or crisp crash and burn ‘pick me up’. This is my version.

Energy-balls

I’m not a huge fan of overly ‘datey’ flavours so have given options for (wholesomely seductive) maple syrup and added a pinch of sea salt for a healthy take on salted caramels. Think: protein, fibre, antioxidants, no refined sugar, raw, coconut oil, dairy and gluten free etc etc. I’ve used cup measures to save scale faffing; they really are very easy.

Makes 15 balls or 20+ bites

INGREDIENTS

1 cup (6 tbsp) pumpkin & sunflower seeds
1 dsp linseed and / or chia, split 50/50
1.5 tbsp cacao powder
1 tbsp almonds or almond butter
2 tbsp maple syrup or 3/4 cup pitted dates, I find most people prefer maple syrup
2 tbsp dried cranberries – adds a tart sweetness… that’s not datey :)
1.5 tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp maca (for added energy) – optional
Pinch Himalayan or sea salt
1 dsp desiccated coconut for coating – if making into balls

METHOD

Blitz seeds (including linseed / chia) and almonds until they resemble chunky breadcrumbs – around 30 secs. If using almond butter, add this with other ingredients after whizzing seeds. Sorry Vitamix, but I find Magimix infinitely more efficient on drier recipes.

Making-energy-balls

Add remaining ingredients and mix for a couple of mins until you have a sticky dough. Roll into pieces smaller than a golf ball and coat in the desiccated coconut set aside earlier.

Or for ease, you can press into a tray and slice into squares after chilling. Either way, put straight to the fridge to retain the shape.

They keep for a while so I make double quantities and store for pudding or as a snack to tide me through exercise. Indulgence doesn’t get more virtuous.

 

Almond, orange & cranberry granola

Posted in: DF, N, S, SF, Uncategorized, V, WF

You can’t go wrong with granola, loved by all and packed with nutty goodness, this is wholesome seduction at it’s best. The ideal start to your day, oats famously provide slow release energy and fibre, while the nuts and seeds are packed with protein, vitamin E, Omega-3 and minerals, magnesium and phosphorus. Even the coconut oil not only adds creamy deliciousness, but does wonders for your skin, hair and digestion (more info on why I fell in love here). As if that’s not enough, this recipe contains no refined sugar and, I think, tastes even better for it. Crunchy nut, creamy coconut and juicy cranberries; the perfect boxing day breakfast?

Granola

INGREDIENTS

3 cups oats – I like 2 of rolled oats and 1 of rye or buckwheat flakes
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup linseed
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup pecans
1 tbsp almond or sunflower oil
1 tbsp coconut oil – you can also sub for sunflower oil
2 tbsp agave, honey or maple syrup
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 orange, juice and zest
1 cup flaked or desiccated coconut
1 cup dried cranberries (or raisins)

METHOD

Pre-heat oven to 180C. Warm coconut oil in a small pan until it becomes runny, then add in all wet ingredients: honey, agave, oils, cinnamon and orange juice plus zest.

In a bowl, mix remaining ingredients except for the coconut and cranberries. Stir in the syrupy oil and transfer to two baking trays, flattening out your mix to a 1 inch flapjack approx.

Cook for 25 – 30 mins, stirring a couple of times so the top doesn’t burn. Add in the coconut flakes around 10 mins before the end.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 mins before breaking up. You should have chunks of crispy, flapjack granola. Store in an airtight jar or container.

In winter I love this with Coyo yoghurt or Rude Health almond milk and a green shake. You can’t beat the tangy berry, crunchy granola and creamy yoghurt combo in summer, when fruit’s at it’s best.

Follow with my Mushrooms with poached egg & spicy sesame for a long, lazy brunch.

DIY Christmas gifts

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In the wake of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, here are some DIY foodie gifts you can do from the kitchen, mostly. From homemade Almond, orange & cranberry granola in a super stylish Skandi jar to spicy nuts in a kitsch sugar shaker. Show your love with design led DIY that lasts beyond the Quality Street bucket. And with treats that won’t have you sweating out all of January in the gym.Noel-bull

 

Cranberry & lemon amoretti are a great Christmas failsafe: Festive fare, deliciously indulgent, yet healthy (high protein, low carb, no refined sugar) and so easy an ape could be trusted to make them. You can’t go wrong with Spicy nuts for a New Year’s eve boozy or juicy pairing and Cacao nut energy balls are great for those determined to avoid sugar overload.

Christmas-Gather-&-Gather-bags

Cox-&-Cox

I recently designed the above sweetie bags for Gather & Gather’s extensive cafes and restaurants, but Cox & Cox do an exhaustive supply of ribbons and wrapping to inspire the least creative and most time pressed among us. Something as simple as a ribbon tied jam jar, cellophane or greaseproof looks great and is super easy.

If wrapping paper wrestling’s not your thing, however, or if you need something that really tap dances, here’s my pick of the best buys to house and gift your wholesomely seductive recipes:

 

Sugar-shaker-&-storage-jar

Two containers to fill the fussiest of friends or hosts with glee. Ideal for Spicy nuts or Almond, orange & cranberry granola – the perfect boxing day breakfast.

Airtight and stackable stoneware jars, available in various colours from £32, Skandium.
Rocket St George sugar shaker, £7.50.

 

Skandium-salt-&-spice-grinder

Dr-Pepper

These have to be hands down the most covetable salt and spice grinders I’ve set eyes on. Made for my famous Sesame & rosemary spice.

2 pack grinder £45, Skandium. Sergeant Pepper grinder (£15) and oven gloves (£22), Rocket St George.

 

The recipes I’ve picked are my cupboard staples, tested and reviewed by friends, cafes and yogis to the point I deem them worthy of festive feasting and giving. In fact, I’m spending Christmas in the sun (sorry, no gloating or smugness intended) and have been primed that all of the above are to form part of our Cape Town kitchen menu. I’ll share more tips for Christmas indulgence that won’t bust a bikini here, including next week’s, Spiced orange & cranberry granola.

Recipes from this post

Cranberry & lemon amoretti
Spicy nuts
Choco nut energy balls
Sesame & rosemary spice
Almond, orange & cranberry granola

For more ideas my past posts still stand: The gift guide top 5 and Please santa…

 

The Anti-diet: Carbs v. protein

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I once paid exorbitant amounts of cash to see a fit guru who promptly rigged me up to a mask attached to lots of wires, while making me stretch my poor little heart to breaking point on various apparatus. I only learned calories the year before (goodbye family size trifle) and have zero comprehension of my weight, so this was a little out of character. It was surprisingly useful however: I learned that eating nothing but kumquats can make you fat.

Fat

Apparently, the body likes a little protein with carbs. If eaten in isolation, carbohydrate may as well be a lump of lard, it would seem. OK, maybe this is a slight exaggeration but I find the visual helps me focus.

It’s all down to our blood sugar levels. In the interests of keeping you awake, I’ll abstain from the over convoluted workings of the Glycaemic Index, just heed this: High GI foods (the white stuff: tatties, pasta etc) turn almost instantaneously to sugar in the body, producing insulin (= sugar rush, then slump), which tells your body to store fat. So you see, starving yourself on Snack A Jacks and blueberries will not only make you miserable, devoid of dinner party invites and probably unwell, you’ll gain weight.

Before you frantically renounce all ingredients bar celery, however, we need carbohydrates for energy, and to prevent us being likened to an irritable Devil Wears Prada Diva. All our shrewd bodies crave is a mix of protein, fat, fibre and carbs.

World-Flours-3

Mother nature (and the supermarket World Foods aisle) has fortuitously provided us with a cornucopia of options, not to mention wheat alternatives, if we’re ever so slightly open minded.

As our Seducers explain, pulses and quinoa, with their mix of carbs, fibre and protein, are a veritable gift from the Gods to be coveted. They’re also super easy to incorporate into soups, stews, salads and fritters: Quinoa, lentil & feta salad, Courgette & prawn fritters (made with chickpea flour).

Avocado, cottage cheese & vegemite on sourdough

Eggs, olive oil, nuts, lean meats and avocado are not to be avoided on pain of death; they are our friends. In moderation (blah blahhh). Now, I don’t know about you, but I think this is pretty good news.

Some other protein hit recipes: HummusGaram masala & tamarind chickenBramble Bircher or Almond butter.

For more Anti-diet tips click on the Tags on the right, or type Anti-diet into the Search box at the top of the page.

 

 

Clare’s spicy nuts

Posted in: DF, N, S, V, WF

I’ve been a bit of a scrooge with this recipe – it took a lot (!!) of amends to get the sticky, chilli clusters just right. However, I shared with a colleague, then another, and now Clare’s Spicy Nuts feature in the Gather & Gather marketing pack with said secret recipe launching across 250 restaurants. Humph.

spicy-nuts

Filling and packed with protein and goodness, nuts are an ideal snack. Snack being the operative word; mini portions are key! Don’t be put off by the biblically proportioned ingredients; they’re largely spices and prep takes all of 10 mins.

Ingredients

200g almonds
100g cashews
100g pecans
200g sunflower seeds
150g pumpkin seeds
2 egg whites
4 tsp caraway seeds
2 tsp crushed chillies
1 tsp chipotle / smoked paprika
2 tsp cumin seeds
4 tsp sea salt
3 tbsp honey
1 tbsp brown sugar

Method

Pre-heat oven to 200°C / 390°F. Whisk egg whites to form soft peaks.

Stir through spices and nuts, followed by honey and brown sugar.

Transfer to a baking tray, or two (keeping to one layer of nuts for even toasting) and cook for 20 mins, or till the nuts have browned. Stir  half way through for even toasting.

I like to keep in a kilner jar to dip into mid-morning or as a pre dinner party snack.

Check out Storehouse Seducer Almonds for more reasons to snack on Spicy nuts – think anti-oxidants, vitamins, fibre, magnesium, cholesterol & GI lowering; the benefits are endless.

Almond butter

Posted in: DF, Featured, N, S, SF, V, WF

I’m a big Peanut Butter fan. I was practically weaned on Sun-pat and Marmite sandwiches; I dollop Wholenut Crunchy into smoothies and even cram it into Lindt Teddies. Don’t knock it. Apart from the nagging feeling of gluttony, I’m painfully aware that peanuts aren’t great for me – there are better fats out there and I’m cursed with instant bloating on consumption. Almonds on the other hand, are a veritable powerhouse of goodness. And in my opinion, taste even better when roasted, blitzed and topped on toast or oatcakes. Protein and nutrient packed instantness.

Makes: 200ml jar Takes: 15 mins.

Almond Butter it transpires, is Sun-pat on Crack: Keens cheddar over Pilgrims Choice; Chloe over Primark. You get the idea. Inevitably then, shop bought Almond butters don’t come cheap. Hence my super quick and easy DIY version that costs half the price. Try the supermarket World Food aisles for better value sacks of almonds. Get the full health benefits of almonds on our Seducers page.

Ingredients

200g almonds, skins on
¼ tsp sea salt

Method

Pre-heat oven to 200C / 400F / Gas 6

Scatter almonds in a baking tray and roast for 8-10 mins, until nuts start to brown around the edges inside – bite one of the darker nuts in half to test.

Transfer to a food processor, add the salt and blitz for 1 min.

Scrape down the sides and blitz for a further 2 mins, scraping the sides every 30 seconds to a minute.

almond-butter

The nuts will release more oil the longer you blend. You can add groundnut oil to bulk out your mix but there’s no need.

I like a crunchier butter so I remove 1 tbsp of the ground nuts after 1 min and mix back through at the end.

Tip: Be careful not to burn the almonds when roasting or you’ll taint the end result. If when you bite in half, the flesh has turned fully from white to brown, you’ve gone too far.

P/25g (serving): Kcal: 160, Pr: 5.2g, Carb: 1.7g, OWS: 1g, Fat: 14.2g, Sat Fat: 1.3, Salt: 0.3g

P/100g Kcal: 620, Pr: 20.6g, Carb: 6.8g, OWS: 4.2g, Fat: 57g, Sat Fat: 5.0g, Salt: 1g

 

Storehouse Seducer: Almonds

Posted in: Uncategorized

Most attractive features

A natural anti-oxidant, storehouse staple, almonds are also richer in six key nutrients than any other nut: magnesium, Vitamin E, potassium, protein, fibre and copper.

Why we fell in love

Nuts in general get a bad rap in terms of our girths. However, a handful (approx. 23 almonds) of this super hero contains only 163 calories and will do a lot more to sustain you than half a bagel or a couple of slices of toast. Both are about the same in calories. Miraculously, almonds also help reduce our insulin and blood sugar levels after eating.

So, reduced risk of heart disease; cholesterol and GI lowering; anti-oxidant rich and skin nourishing. Need you ask why we’re in love?  Spread some Almond butter on your toast this instant!