Pina Colada super shake

This shake is always a huge hit in my household and whenever I make it the kids and adults demolish the lot in a flash.  I have been asked many times recently to post the recipe but needed to make a few perfecting tweaks before I was happy to share it.

So you will need

A pineapple (peeled and cut into chunks)

1 1/2 cups of coconut rice milk

1 cup of ice

2 bananas

1 tsp of Maca

1 tablespoon of almond butter

Add all the ingredients to your blender and whizz until you get a smooth consistency.  Serve and enjoy immediately!

If you can’t find coconut rice milk you can use vanilla rice milk or plain rice milk (one cup) and half a cup of coconut cream or coconut milk, adjust to your own taste, the pineapple gives a naturally sweet taste but if you need any extra sweetness use a little vanilla extract or a teaspoon of honey.  I always prefer to use fresh pineapple as it is much tastier and nutritious but you could use canned pineapple if fresh is not available.  The maca powder doesn’t really do much to the taste but I love to use it for the super food boost it gives to the shake.

I recently made a big batch for my daughters 9th birthday “Paparazzi Party” and served them in (plastic) champagne flutes to make them really special for her.

pina col cocktail 006

http://www.paparazziparties.com

Little Seeds, Big Benefits!

Whatever I seem to read or hear about at the moment is SEEDS!!!!!  Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseed, chai seeds…. seeds, seeds and more seeds!!

Reason being is that they are not only full of essential fats but they contain heaps of protein and vital vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium and Vitamin E.  So it’s a good idea to try to introduce seeds into your daily routine for the whole family if possible, there are several ways to do this,  for example try adding a tablespoon of flaxseed to juices or smoothies, or chai seeds to cereal, or pumpkins and sunflower seeds to cereal or soups or hidden in pasta sauces.  You can also get cold-pressed oils that you can drizzle over steamed veggies or use in salad dressings.

But like most things that are good for you they can get boring quickly and the good that you try to introduce can easily fade out…. it’s happened to me too many times to count now, I start off with great intentions and before the month is out so is the intention!

I started eating just pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds a good few years ago in prepared bags from the supermarket, not daily but a few times a week and I have gradually started trying new types of seeds and using them in various ways and I am now at the point where I do have a good variety of seeds in my daily diet.  I generally have them in the morning, I always put a spoonful of flaxseed in my greens smoothie, I often have seeds of some kind on my cereal (either hemp, chai or pumpkin and sunflower).  I also always have a few oils to hand (at the moment pumpkin and hemp) for veg and salads.  I sometimes gently toast a few pumpkin and sunflower seeds and add to a simple soup.

The important thing to remember about seeds is that they can go rancid easily so be sure to keep them out of sunlight and in an airtight container.  I always buy a stash that lasts a few weeks but not longer to avoid this, believe me you will smell them if they go bad!!!

But even with all this variety I am always looking for new ways to enjoy these little nutritional gems so was over the moon when I was experimenting yesterday and came up with a fab snack idea.

So preheat your oven to a really low heat, mine was set at 100 degrees, you want to keep the heat low so they don’t loose their nutritional value which happens when foods are cooked at high temperatures.  Line a baking sheet with some greaseproof paper.

Add a generous handful of mixed seeds to a bowl, I used sunflower and pumpkin seeds

Add a tablespoon of Tamari sauce (you can also use liquid aminos or soy sauce) and coat all the seeds

Spread evenly over the greaseproof paper and bake for about 45 minutes, leave to cool then gentle scrape the seeds into a bowl or container and you have yourself a really delicious and nutritious snack to go that is quick and easy to do.

Here is a quick low nutritional lowdown…

Pumpkins Seeds

Rich in zinc for fertility, immune boosting and cancer protecting

Rich in Iron for healthy blood and to fight fatigue

Can help improve blood cholesterol

Good source of healthy heart and anti-inflammatory nutrients

They also contain omega 3 fats, vitamin E, folate and magnesium

Sunflower Seeds

Rich in Omega 6 fats

Very high in antioxidant vitamin E

High in plant sterols which have a cholesterol lowering effect

They are also nutrient mineral rich including iron, magnesium and selenium.

 

 

Nut, Gluten & Diary Free Double Chocolious Cookies

I was recently asked for a nut free variation to my Double Chocolate Chip cookies I posted not so long ago.  Finally I was able to find sometime in the kitchen and create some seriously tasty treats that were nut, gluten and diary free.

I am a big quinoa fan and use it in everything so I usually have a tub of cooked quinoa in my fridge…. and when I say everything, I mean everything as I used to make these cookies at the weekend.  I more or less followed the same recipe as before but used cooked and flaked quinoa instead of the almond meal and egg.  The texture wasn’t quite the same so I changed a few things to get the constancy I wanted and then baked and hoped for the best!

Start by mashing 2 medium organic banana’s in a bowl and adding the following ingredients:

1 tablespoon melted coconut oil

1 1/2 tablespoons of  raw honey

1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

2 teaspoons raw cacao powder (plus extra for dusting)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 tablespoons coconut flour

1/2 cup of flaked quinoa

1 cup of cooked quinoa

1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips

Mix everything together well and test, if it is not sweet enough you can add a little more vanilla or honey until you find the right sweetness to tickle your taste buds!

Then cover with cling film and put in the fridge for at least half an hour

Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees when you are ready to bake and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper, with the mixture make little balls and gently pat down into perfect little cookies, dust with some cacao powder and pop in the oven for 30 minutes.

I usually love warm cookies but these are actually so much tastier once they have cooled down.

Spicy Red Pepper and Tomato Dip

I have just spent nearly 2 weeks in the freezing cold UK and came back a few days ago to beautiful sunshine but the temperature has definitely dropped, so away with the bikini’s and cute little shorts and out come the cosy scarves, winter woolies and fluffy gloves!   

I spent my time in London eating and drinking until I was ready to pop (but it was ok to have 2 puddings a day as I was on holiday!!).  So on top of feeling the need for vital winter vitamin boosts I also need a small sugar detox!  That goes for the kids too, Charlie’s routine was all over the place and already this week he has been a nightmare, I dare not leave the house for fear of public meltdown!

With this in mind when I was in the supermarket yesterday I went crazy buying fresh fruit and veggies stocking up my sad bare fridge, I raided the bio section for immunity boosting foods packed with vital germ busting vitamin C, I got some satsuma’s, red peppers (which amazingly have more vit C than oranges) and kiwi’s for my mini overdose!  

If your immune system is strong and working efficiently then even if you are hanging out with the sickest of people coughing and spluttering germs all over you then your body will fight them off and you won’t get sick.  Getting sick is the last thing that I want for myself or the kids, its awful seeing the little ones looking sad and sorry for themselves all curled up full of germs and its any Mum’s biggest nightmare looking after kids when you feel shocking, its hard enough at the best of times!

So after 10 days out of the kitchen I dragged myself back in there today and it was hard as I feel out of touch with it all, I didn’t know what I wanted to make and my usual enthusiasm was not bursting out of me with wonderful idea’s, but I knew if I didn’t get back into my routine then all the hard work is easily lost.

I got out the following ingredients, threw them all in the vitamix, asked Ella to say a magic spell and she waved the tamper and hoped for the best, I was so hungry I couldn’t bare for another kitchen whoopsie! 

2 red peppers (organic if possible) de-seeded 

2 tomatos (organic if possible)

1/2 a small red onion

a small handful of coriander 

1/2 tsp – 1 tsp of lazy chilli (depending on how spicy you like it – I use just over 1/2 tsp for a nice kick)

juice of 1 lemon

ground pepper to taste

Now the next 2 are optional, I just got them when I was back in London and they add a nutritional boosts and as Charlie still isn’t eating any meat I think it’s important to try to get vital vitamins, minerals and protein in him in anyway I can.

1/2 tsp of Liquid Aminos (I had seen this ingredient in a few recipes recently and bought some as it is a healthier alternative to soy sauce and salt and it also contains healthy important amino acids) – so this just added a salty taste and if you don’t use this then use salt instead

1 tsp of nutritional yeast (another source of vitamins and protein)

 

Put all ingredients into a blender and whizz up to a chunky but not too smooth consistency – best served chilled with crackers or chopped carrots, cucumber and celery sticks.  

It really was delicious, I wasn’t sure if it was my hunger playing games on my brain telling me it was tasty so served it this afternoon when my friends popped round and she confirmed it was a good one – so thought I was worthy of blog! 

For a kiddie friendly version just go easy on the lazy chili. 

Double choc chip cookies

This weekend I have been experimenting with sweet treats!  I followed the same recipe as the cinnamon cookies I posted a few days ago but used cacao instead of cinnamon and was really impressed with how tasty they were.  I made a batch yesterday and more today with Ella, just to be sure that they were worthy of posting!!!

So here is a recap with the chocolate modifications….

Ingredients:
                     -1/4 cup honey
                     -1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
                     -1 egg
                     -1 tsp vanilla
                     -1 & 1/2 cups almond meal
                     -2 tbsp plus 1 tsp 100 % cacao powder
                     -1/2 tsp nutmeg
                     -1 tsp coconut flour
                     -1/2 tsp baking soda
                     -1/4 tsp salt
I bought some cacao liquor the other day and added a small melted amount to the mixture but you could melt 2 small squares of dark chocolate (80% or over), you can also add a handful of dark chocolate chips for triple choc, when I made these with Ella today she insisted that they would taste better with chocolate chips, I must admit she was right!  The kids demolished these today washed down with a yummy shillshake!
It seems like a lot of chocolate but this mixture will make 8-10 cookies.  Taste the mixture to check you are happy with the flavour, for more sweetness you can add a little more honey or vanilla as cacao can be bitter if you use too much.
Preparation: Combine all ingredients (except 2 tbsp of cacao, leave that out for later) and mix well. Cover and refrigerate dough for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350F/175c. Roll dough into small balls and coat in cinnamon (the 2 tbsp you left out earlier). Place cookies on a greased or parchment lined baking sheet and press down slightly to flatten them. Bake for 10 minutes.
Gluten Free & Seriously tasty!

Cinnamon Cookies

I recently made these cookies as we had a friend staying with us who is a celiac and I felt so mean giving everyone else cookies and not having anything for him so with the help of his beautiful little girl one morning we made up a batch of these.  They were really quick and easy to make with minimal mess and I actually stuck to the recipe which is a first for me.  I can’t take credit for these amazing cookies though as I got the recipe from my friend Lacey’s blog.
PALEO CINNAMON COOKIES
Ingredients:
                     -1/4 cup honey
                     -1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
                     -1 egg
                     -1/2 tsp vanilla
                     -1 & 1/2 cups almond meal
                     -2 tbsp plus 1/2 tsp cinnamon
                     -1/2 tsp nutmeg
                     -1 tsp coconut flour
                     -1/2 tsp baking soda
                     -1/4 tsp salt
Preparation: Combine all ingredients (except 2 tbsp of cinnamon, leave that out for later) and mix well. Cover and refrigerate dough for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350F. Roll dough into small balls and coat in cinnamon (the 2 tbsp you left out earlier). Place cookies on a greased or parchment lined baking sheet and press down slightly to flatten them. Bake for 10 minutes.
Gluten & Dairy Free

Go Chia Crazy!

You would not be alone if you had not heard of Chia seeds before, they are the latest of superfoods to hit the market and are slowly creeping their way up to the top of the list.  On a closer inspection into these funny looking little seeds I think and hope they will be more than a super phase.  They are so good in fact that if you were stranded on a desert island all you would need is a good stash of Chia seeds to get all the nutrients you need.

Chai seeds may be new to us Westerner’s but they have actually been around since the Aztec times originating from Central and Southern Mexico and are part of the mint family.  These little seeds are usually a mix of black, grey, white and brown, they don’t have much taste, if anything I would probably say slightly nutty, however if you soak them in liquid they swell to make a kind of gel and they take on the flavour of the liquid you mixed them with.  I love to mix them with pomegranate juice and add to yoghurt with some nuts and seeds for a nutritious breakfast or with almond milk, raw honey and cacao powder for a chocolaty pudding.

So why all the fuss and why am I blogging about them?  Well, I manage to sneak a good helping of these seeds into Charlie’s breakfast smoothie and they are literally bursting with goodness so I can’t help but smile from ear to ear when he is drinking his green monster with added Chia, even if he was a normal eating child I would struggle to get such a vast blast of nutrients into his daily diet.  These little beauties contain more Omega 3 fatty acids than salmon and it can be such a struggle to get kids to eat fish sometimes.  Omega 3′s (DHA) are vital for brain development so it is especially important to make sure that they are part of the kids diet (as well as our own).  Omega’s 3 (EPA) are effective for improving poor attention, hyperactivity, depression and anxiety.  Chia also helps balance the blood sugar levels (another good reason to start the day with them), they energize you, are packed with antioxidants, they are a complete source of protein and are rich in fibre.  And that’s not all, they are rich in calcium and magnesium, so a good way to get some bone building calcium if you avoid dairy, just two ounces of Chia seeds contain 600 mg of Calcium, compared with 120 mg for milk.  They also contain iron, b vitamins and zinc, so you can see that’s a huge amount of goodness in these little gems!

So here is the lowdown….

What’s in 100g of chia?

Protein: 20.7g
Fat: 32.8g
Carbohydrate: 41.8g
(of which fibre is 41.2g)
Calcium: 714mg
Iron: 16.4mg
Niacin (B3): 613mg
Thiamine (B1): 0.18mg
Riboflavin (B2): 0.04mg
Source: Nutritional Science Research Institute

You are probably wondering how on earth to incorporate them into your family diet, well there are a few ways that you can sneak them into food without anyone knowing.  You can mix into cereal or porridge, add to soups, mix up in salads or veggies, add to rice or quinoa, add to homemade muffin’s or bread, yoghurts and smoothies.

Here is another big plus if you are trying to watch your weight (which is probably the majority of peeps reading this) they are a dieters dream as they swell up in water  which makes you feel fuller longer and potentially eat less and as they balance blood sugar levels they should help keep the sugar cravings at bay.  They also help you concentrate and improve your mood (double dose for me this week I think!)

You can pick up a bag of Chia seeds in the health food stores in the UK, France and Monaco prices are around €5/£5 ish for a good size bag, I try to use about a tablespoon a day and the bag lasts me a good few months.

Hopefully you can see the super benefits of these wonderful little seeds that are bursting with nutrition and health benefits.  I will be trying out some more recipes soon and will update you of all the successes!

The Processed Food Trap

We all know that processed food isn’t great for us but still turn to it when we are rushing from one thing to another, out at the weekend or in a hurry to make dinner and get the kids to bed…….

WHY?

Because it is easily accessible and cleverly marketed.

When you go to the supermarket there are cartoon characters plastered all over sugar filled cereals that we end up buying after constant pestering from the kids or because we know that they will eat up quickly when pushed for time in the morning, and then you have the endless aisles of pizza’s, pasta, ready meals that make dinner times easier, quicker and less stressful – personally I need all the help I can get and have fallen into the processed food trap many times, chucking a pizza in the oven or throwing together some pasta and sauce.

Processed foods are empty calories laden with sugar, salt, starch, chemicals and additives!  Food manufacturers also add addictive substances to their foods which make us crave the foods that are bad for us even more.  How many times do you open a tube of pringles with the intention of just having one and then realise you ate the lot??!!

There are lots of health damaging toxins in processed foods too and to name and shame a few…. for starters there is BPA (well this is in the packaging but can still affect the food) and this interferes with hormones – that’s that last thing I need right now!!  Then you have acrylamide which is a toxin that is formed when starchy foods are cooked at high temperatures and is linked cancers as well as various other nasties!  MSG is flavour enhancing chemical which is an excitotoxins, and excitotoxins excite the brain and promote the growth of cancer.  Then there is High Corn Fructose Syrup (HCFS) which is a chemically altered food that is added to processed food as a cheap sweetener, the high fructose content can contribute to many health issues such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, blood sugar issues (and that’s just naming a few)

Foods affected by the above include:  fast food, deep fried food, crisps, cookies, canned soups, pies, cakes, canned foods, foods packaged in plastic, water bottles, cereals, cough syrups, crackers, yoghurt, frozen meals, salad dressings… the list goes on and on….

After reading all that I bet that bag of crisps is not looking so appealing as an evening snack right now!!

It actually scares me to think about all these awful things crammed into a bag of crisps or a cookie and I bet you would shocked if you made a note of all food and drink you have in a day and then look at the ingredients label or think about how it was cooked or stored and like me you would probably find that your healthy diet isn’t as great as you thought!

It’s bad enough thinking about what processed food does to our slightly more matured bodies (to put it as polity as possible!) but what about our children?  Their little bodies need all the help they can get to grow and develop physically, mentally and emotionally.  Giving them a diet that is high in processed foods and lacks essential vitamins and minerals seriously compromises their future health.

The problem with kids is that we loose control when they are at school so even if we get them on a strict no junk diet at home they will still get their hands on the goods at school – I refuse to stress over this as its out of my control so I just try to give them a good balanced diet at home and make them aware of healthy eating.  At the end of the day our children learn from us so if we are eating well then they will follow.  Ella often asks me questions about the food I eat and I love to explain to her about the good and bad effects food have on our body and health and she generally eats what I make her as she sees me eating it.

As I said yesterday the facts are that children are rapidly becoming more obese and there is an ever-increasing rise in reported ADHD cases.  Both the food and pharmaceutical industries are worth billions, so it is not in their interests to give up their big bonus’s, luxury holiday homes, private planes and super yachts!  No way, they will be sitting back thinking up the next money making marketing scheme at the expense of our health!

I avoid processed and junk food, I haven’t cut it out totally but have made lots of positive changes in my house.  For example, I try to buy food in glass jars or bottles rather than plastic, I avoid plastic packaging and tin cans where possible, I buy frozen veggies if I can’t buy fresh, I check the labels of food for HCFS and avoid if I can, and I just don’t keep any junk food or treats in the house, so anyone popping round for a cuppa will get a nothing more than a quinoa cracker with almond butter if they are lucky!!

 

 

Time for Change!

It seems like it has been ages since my last proper post and that’s not because I don’t have anything to say, in fact the chance would be a fine thing and I actually am bursting with things to blog about and recipes to post.  We have had such a manic few weeks with family and friends visiting from the UK which was great to see everyone and it gave me an opportunity to try to out some new recipes, then a few days later we moved house, all in all its been a busy few weeks!

So in a nutshell, mealtimes have been a nightmare as there has been too much going on for Charlie to sit at the table for a meal, we ate out a fair bit and gave into treats and junk food and then the move sent us into the convenience food trap.

I have however become more observant of the children’s eating behaviours, for a start I noticed that Charlie didn’t like it when I gave Ella the food he wasn’t eating, so have been using this to my advantage and offering out his food to other children, seems to be working, he even ate a  few bites of a fish finger the other day – not the most nutritious of foods but on a positive note at least he tried something new!  I also took note of how foods affected them, Ella became a different child after eating processed food such as pizza, I noticed she would slump down in front of the TV with no energy and looked bloated and after an ice-cream or sweets she’d become hyper and annoy Charlie or anyone else in her path and she also looked wired.  Charlie is hyper on air so hard to tell how sugar affects him but he had some chips the night before the move that were coated in salt, that night he was making all kinds of strange noises in his sleep, almost like gagging, I kept checking him as I was worried, he was absolutely fine and I am sure it was the salt.

Generally speaking mealtimes have been a stressful struggle for the past 18 months with many tactics tried and failed that bad habits have easily formed, I have wasted enough time stressing and beating myself up over it.  When me and Charlie are eating alone at home he isn’t too bad but when there are distractions he runs riot, he won’t sit at the table for more than a few bites of food, then is up and down a few more times barely eating a thing (he will always drink his shillshake though!)

So that’s it, enough is enough, new house, new rules and I am determined to crack the bad habits…. let the battle begin!!!

It’s going to be trial and error to see what works so I am starting off with setting a mealtime rule – if he leaves the table at dinner time he gets one warning then dinner is in the bin, I will try this for a few weeks and see if it makes any difference.  Too harsh?  We will see…..

Secondly I am cutting out all the processed and convenience foods, not that we have huge amounts anyway, I rarely buy or cook processed food at home (lets forget about last week – I lost count of the amount of pizza Ella ate) it is mainly when we eat out we give in to chicken nuggets, chips and ice-cream.  With the amount of visitors we have had over the summer when I thought about it we actually ate out quite a bit.  So that means that I have to plan our days out around mealtimes and either take food with me or find a healthy option if we eat out.

I will concentrate on these 2 for now as I don’t want to try too many things and put all my eggs in one basket – I may need a few back up plans too!

I have been reading a lot about processed foods recently and have a few big blogs to cover all I have learnt which will follow later this week.  But for now think about this, by 2020 more than one-third of girls and one-fifth of boys will be obese and there has been a 500 percent increase in the number of prescriptions written for children with ADHD in the last 10 years which is continuing to rise (that means that 1 in 20 children are affected by ADHD) – Processed food that is packed with chemicals and additives are mainly to blame for these problems, it’s scary to think where our children – the next generation are heading…..