Tag Archives: Healthy

A Healthy Hot Chocolate

26 Jan
© Jess Bruce 2016

© Jess Bruce 2016

Winter has finally hit in the UK. Last week was absolutely freezing. Okay so perhaps not cold compared to Alaska or the Antarctic (or most of North America at present for that matter) but temperatures close to freezing are incredibly chilly, and came as quite the shock, compared to the balmy December we enjoyed (and moaned about at the time, daffodils blooming by the roadside in December? What has the world come to!).

What’s all this weather talk about? Well cold weather means only one thing in my mind…..hot chocolate baby!

I spent most of last week with the heating on max but still cold, wearing a scarf, quilt over my lap and fingerless gloves encasing my hands in order to sit and type. Yes really. It was VERY cold!

There are only so many cups of green tea one girl can drink in a day (and I definitely push it to the limit) in order to keep warm. And so enters hot chocolate.

Sometimes you need a sweet hit and you don’t have any cake or biscuits to hand – damn that January resolution of no cake for a month….(definitely not stuck to that one). Hello hot chocolate.

And sometimes you want a sweet treat without totally blowing your blood sugar; craving a hint of sweetness without endangering your health kick. Is this you? Well say hello to this little miss healthy hot chocolate.

She will satisfy your sweet tooth, warm you up and sate your appetite. All without blowing off your new years resolution to be more healthy.

The recipe below is for an au natural version. Simple, clean, pure hot chocolate. However, you could take things to the next level and pimp your delicious hot drink. Though I think if you go for the ‘enhanced’ version using some of the following suggestions (brandy, chocolate and marshmallows I’m looking at you…), we should perhaps tack the qualifier ‘ish‘ onto the title healthy – healthy-ish hot chocolate. But why not. It’s the last week of January, you deserve it.

So if you want to ‘enhance’ your drink, you could try:

  • Melting a handful – this isn’t an exact science, so much the better if you have big hands 🙂 – of 70% cocoa chocolate chips into the saucepan.
  • Top your drink with some coconut whip (I use this method to make whipped cream from coconut milk) and marshmallows and some chocolate shavings….oh boy that sounds good!
  • Toss a chai tea bag into the saucepan and allow to infuse with the milk for a hit of aromatics. Maybe throw in a cinnamon stick for extra measure.
  • Add some finely grated orange zest (that’s healthy… vitamin C anyone?) for a drink reminiscent of the ubiquitous orange shaped and flavoured chocolate.
  • Add a few drops of mint extract for an after dinner digestive aid (see healthy…maybe a stretch?)
  • If you like things chilli hot, then a sprinkling of cayenne pepper would spice things up nicely.
  • For an adult version, you could add some brandy or whiskey to taste (and blow dry January out of the water).
  • For a ‘Snickers’ inspired drink, sub the almond butter for peanut butter, adjusting the quantity to taste.

That said, simple is satisfying to me. I enjoyed the natural beauty of the hot chocolate recipe as set out below greatly and didn’t need any additions (though perhaps that’s because I hadn’t thought of them yet and didn’t have any marshmallows in the house….)

Here’s the recipe, hope it warms you up. Let me know if and how you enhance it, healthy or otherwise!

A Healthy Hot Chocolate

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Gluten and dairy free, Vegan

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of gluten free oat milk (or other plant based milk of choice)
  • 2 rounded tsps of cacao powder
  • 2 scant tbsp brown rice syrup
  • 1 tsp almond butter
  • 1 tbsp coconut milk yoghurt

Steps

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over a low heat.
  2. Whisk well to dissolve the almond butter and yoghurt.
  3. Allow to simmer until just boiling (about 5 minutes) whisking every so often.
  4. Pour into a mug and enjoy.

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A Crunchy Nutty Gorgeous Granola

20 Jul
My perfect breakfast granola. Photo by Jess B.

My perfect breakfast granola. Photo by Jess B.

As a teenager I hated breakfast. I didn’t think it was ‘cool’ to eat it and so didn’t want to. But my Mum, thankfully, refused to give in to my teenage grump and wouldn’t let me leave the house without something in my tummy.

How times change. Now I LOVE breakfast!

And one reason I love breakfast so much is that you get to eat delicious oaty nutty healthy things like this homemade granola. This recipe is quick and easy to throw together and tastes amazing. Using the ingredients I list below, this granola  is free from gluten, dairy, egg, almond & brazil, coconut, wheat, and soya so complies with my recently acquired long list of food intolerances! With sweetness coming from the dates and honey, this granola is also refined sugar free. The oats form the perfect high soluble fibre base for any unhappy IBS tummies.

Serve your cunchy nutty wholesome granola with milk and fruit of choice. My preference is rice milk with bananas (added soluble fibre) and strawberries which brighten up the bowl beautifully. Doesn’t that just sound like the perfect way to start the day?

Ingredients (makes 8 – 10 servings) 

  • 100g dried dates
  • 200g gluten free oats
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 80g cashews
  • 80g walnuts
  • 30g pumpkin seeds
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
Blended dates. Photo by Jess B.

Blended dates. Photo by Jess B.

Cashews and walnuts. Photo by Jess B.

Cashews and walnuts. Photo by Jess B.

The 'too small' sauce pan full of raw granola! Photo by Jess B.

The ‘too small’ sauce pan full of raw granola! Photo by Jess B.

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 160ºC / 325ºF / Gas Mark 3 (if fan assisted reduce by 20 degrees)
  2. Spread baking parchment on two baking sheets
  3. Place the dates in a large saucepan (not a small one like I used in the pics unless you want oats all over the place in step 5!) in about 1 inch of boiling water until they are nice and soft (about 20 – 25 mins but depends on size & softness of your dates to start with)
  4. Once the dates are nice and soft, blend them until smooth.
  5. Add all the remaining ingredients to the saucepan along with the dates and mix thoroughly (if you’re an ME/CFSer like me, you may need to borrow someone’s arms for this bit).
  6. Once well combined spread the mixture onto your baking sheets and bake in the oven for 15 minutes until golden.
  7. After 15 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 110ºC / 225ºF / Gas Mark 1/4 (again 20 degrees less for fan assisted) and bake for a further 30 minutes until the granola is dry and crisp.
  8. Leave to cool completely on the baking sheets and then store in an airtight container. It will keep for a good few weeks, if you don’t eat it all way before then!

Recipe adapted from Honestly Healthy.

Raisin and Seed Energy Balls

23 Mar
Raisin and Seed Energy Balls. Photo by Jess B.

Raisin and Seed Energy Balls. Photo by Jess B.

So as to keep to my New Year’s Resolution to eat healthily I’ve been on the look out for different healthy snack ideas. I recently stumbled upon a gem of a recipe for a seed and raisin bite. It gives enough sweetness, with the hit of raisins, to satisfy my sugar craving, whilst being healthy, nutritious and rich with protein from all the seeds. The flavour of fresh orange shines through adding a touch of freshness and making these balls a very tasty snack indeed.

These little balls are quick and easy to make and ideal for a lower energy ME / CFS day as the food processor does all the hard work for you. All that is left for you to do yourself is to roll the mixture into little balls and this can be done sitting down at your kitchen table. If your arms start to ache you can always take a break and come back to it later, the mixture won’t spoil. Once rolled into bitesized balls (and I guess the mixture in it’s ‘unrolled’ form too) will happily keep covered in the fridge for at least a week – if you can stop from eating them all much sooner than that! They are both satisfying and moreish.

So all in all both in terms of the making and the eating these little balls make an ideal snack for everyone, including those with ME / CFS.

Photo by Jess B.

Photo by Jess B.

To make Seed and Raisin Energy Balls you will need:

  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 sesame seeds
  • 1/4 dessicated coconut + 1 tbsp
  • 4 tsp poppy seeds
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • zest of half an orange
  • 3 tbsp of juice of an orange

This quantity of ingredients will make approx. 26 small energy balls to keep you snack happy all week!

Blitz seeds in food processor. Photo by Jess B.

Blitz seeds in food processor. Photo by Jess B.

Add raisins and orange to blitzed seeds. Photo by Jess B.

Add raisins and orange to blitzed seeds. Photo by Jess B.

You're aiming for a well combined fairly sticky texture once all blitzed. Photo by Jess B.

You’re aiming for a well combined fairly sticky texture once all blitzed. Photo by Jess B.

Roll each ball in the coconut and seed mix that you set aside at step (2). Photo by Jess B.

Roll each ball in the coconut and seed mix that you set aside at step (2). Photo by Jess B.

  1. Place all the seeds, the 1/4 cup of coconut and cinnamon in a food processor and blitz until the seeds are thoroughly ground and all is well mixed.
  2. On a small plate set aside 2 tbsp of the blitzed mixture along with the remaining 1 tbsp of coconut. Mix to combine.
  3. Add the raisins, orange zest and juice to the seed mix in the processor and blitz until all is well combined, the raisins have broken into small pieces and the mixture starts to bind together. It should be fairly sticky and moist to touch.
  4. Roll the mixture into small balls in the palm of your hand.
  5. Coat each ball with the seed and coconut mix you set aside in step (2).
  6. Place in an airtight container and chill in the fridge.
  7. Snack away!

Recipe adapted from The Copycat Cook.

The original recipe used lemon juice and zest instead of orange. I have made the balls using lemon but prefer the orange flavour. I’ve also made the balls with a drop of almond essence (in addition to the lemon juice) which makes them taste like marzipan, delicious! The flavour options are endless, the seeds make a good versatile base for you to experiment. You could add rosewater or elderflower if you wanted a light summer flavour. Or if you wanted a sweeter hit you could add a little maple syrup, agave syrup or honey. Also don’t feel you have to use raisins, any dried fruit could work. I’m thinking of using dried figs next time, I’ll dice them up fairly small before putting them in the food processor but then I think they’ll work just the same as the raisins.

How will you make yours? Do let me know how you find the recipe and what flavour combo you use. I look forward to hearing from you 🙂 

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