Here are some of my favourite inspirational reads….

Mind Over Medicine : Lissa Rankin

An alternative approach to health written by a Doctor on the healing power the mind has the body. Lissa’s book is backed by scientific proof that you can heal yourself with a mind, body, spirit self healing prescription she encourages you to write for yourself. She shares her own personal experience where western medicine failed her and lead her to holistically heal herself. A truly inspiring read that makes you reflect on any health issues and if there are other underlying factors.

One Small Change : Winnie Abramson

A simple fact filled book that is broken down into bite size pieces on how to make simple changes in an easy to manage way by encouraging you to change one small thing at a time rather than too many things in one go. An empowering jumpstart to becoming healthy and happy.

The Honest Life : Jessica Alba

Written by actress, activist and entrepreneur Jessica Alba on natural living. She shares ideas on natural skin care, recipes and natural cleaning alternatives. She also has a section on preparing for parenthood and inspirations where she gets creative. A great dip in book by a naturally beautiful and inspiring lady who lets you into her life as a working mum and wife who remains passionate about her contribution to making the world a better place for future generations.

Superfoods : David Wolfe

A superfood bible written by the king of superfoods! His book gives insight into some of this planets most nutrient dense superfoods, he features goji berries, cacao, hemp, maca, spriulina and bee products and a host of others. A detailed explanation into superfoods and their benefits.

Crazy Sexy Diet : Kris Carr

An inspiring book from the heart. Kris shares her own battle with cancer and how she has transformed her life through diet and lifestyle changes. Great advice, recipes and guidance on how to transform your life to become healthier.

The Beauty Detox solution : Kimberly Snyder

Kimberly is a celebrity nutritionist and beauty expert to many A list stars. She shares her expertise on eating a plant based diet to promote natural beauty that starts from within. Her book is easy to read with great suggestions and delicious recipes. She is famous for her super tasty Glowing Green Smoothie.

 

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My kitchen pantry…

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Here are some of my pantry staples and simple swap outs:

This is where you take charge and ditch the nutella and are inspired to fill your cupboards with superfoods and wholesome nutritional foods, herbs, spices and other alternatives.

It is tough to make such drastic changes and we realise that the ketchup has to stay as it’s the only way the kids will eat their greens so be clever about how you detox and restock your kitchen, for everything that you throw away think of what healthy alternative you are replacing it with and don’t do it all in one go otherwise you will feel like you are depriving yourself, take it slow. Perhaps you could make a list of your bin/replacement swaps and try just one thing on a weekly basis testing out alternatives until you find something you and your family like. The same rule applies for the treat cupboard you can replace the biscuits and chocolate with good quality dark chocolate or be adventurous and make your own chocolate gluten and sugar free cookies there are plenty of inspiring recipes that I will be sharing.

Flours

If you are avoiding gluten try:

Buckwheat Flour*

Almond Meal*

Oat Flour

Spelt Flour (not entirely gluten free)

Coconut Flour*

If you aren’t avoiding gluten try replacing white processed flour with unbleached all purpose flour or whole-wheat flour

Sweeteners

Raw Agave nectar*

Brown Rice Syrup

Raw Honey*

Pure Maple Syrup*

Stevia

Xlyitol

Medjool Dates*

Pure Vanilla essence* or vanilla bean powder

Lucama*

Oil

Extra virgin cold pressed coconut oil*

Canola Oil

Extra virgin olive oil*

Nut oils: hazelnut, walnut

Flax oil

Hemp oil

Sesame oil

Where possible try to find cold pressed oils (heat processing destroys all the beneficial enzymes). Keep your oils in a cool dark place to avoid them going rancid, avoid cooking with nut oils, hemp, sesame, flax and olive oils and enjoy them drizzled over cooked foods or salads in moderation.

Coconut oil is one of favourite oils and I use in our baking, smoothies, cooking and even coffee as a delicate creamier flavour. There are 100’s of beneficial uses for Coconut oil and eventually your pantry jar will find it’s way to your bathroom too!

Superfoods

Extra virgin cold pressed Coconut oil*

Maca*

Chia seeds*

Cold milled flaxseeds*

Raw hemp protein powder/seeds*

Raw cacoa*

Raw carob

Spirulina*

Chlorella

Raw Cacoa nibs

Raw Cacoa butter

Camu Camu

Lucama*

Nuts & Seeds

Pine nuts*

Almonds*

Cashews*

Brazil nuts

Chia seeds

Flaxseed

Hazelnuts

Hemp seeds

Pecans

Pumpkin seeds

Seasame seeds

Walnuts

When buying nuts and seeds opt for the natural, raw, unsalted variety! Not so exciting on their own at first….. but you will soon discover lots of wonderful, tasty uses in lots of my recipes

Soak your nuts and seeds in water before eating them deactivate the enzyme inhibitors known as phytic acid. This makes them more nutritious and easier to digest.

Grains

Quinoa*

Buckwheat

Rice – black, red, wild*

Millet

Spelt

Oats

For pasta lovers try swapping out the refined nutritionally empty white pasta with whole-wheat or a gluten free option, there are many varieties available on the market that include pasta made from corn, quinoa and rice. For Asian inspired dishes try soba noodles that are made from buckwheat and are gluten free (just check that a wheat flour hasn’t been used). Or you can use a spirilizer and get adventurous by making some coloured pasta with raw veggies – yum!

Same rule applies with wholegrains as with nuts as they are protected from the environment with phytic acid too so you need to think ahead of your meal and soak the night before or in the morning, many grains will start to sprout (little shoots will start to appear) this is fine and in fact makes them more nutrtitious!

I personally love quinoa and soak a big batch over night, then cook and store in the fridge for days. Quinoa is a complete protien and is such an adapable grain making it the perfect accompliment to any meal, add to soups, salads, stirs fries, make some special fried quinoa, cookies, cakes, cereal you can even add to your smoothies….

Beans & Legumes

Adzuki beans

Black beans

Black eyed peas

Chickpeas*

Kidney beans

Lentils*

Mung beans

Pinto beans

To be cost effective and get the most bounce out of your beans soak overnight to release the phytic acid before cooking try cooking and freezing a batch to save time!

Otherwise try to avoid canned beans and use jarred beans and legumes wherever possible

Again you should soak and sprout your beans and legumes all except Kidney Beans for maximum health boost benefits

Butter & similar

Organic unsalted butter

Raw Almond butter*

Raw Tahini*

Sheeps or goats yoghurt & cheese

Non dairy milk

Coconut milk*

Unsweetened Almond milk*

Oat milk*

Rice milk* (variations include with vanilla, hazelnut and chocolate)

Soya milk* (in moderation)

Quinoa milk

Hazelnut milk

Many of these milks come with sweeteners such a vanilla or added sugar, if you are transitioning from cows milk it can be more palatable to try the vanilla varieties first and gradually move over to unsweetened options once your taste buds adjust.  You can make your own nut milks easily, look out for one of my recipes.

Herbs & Spices – Fresh & Dried

Basil

Black pepper*

Cardamom*

Cayenne pepper*

Cinnamon*

Coriander*

Cumin*

Curry powder

Dill

Fennel seeds

Ginger*

Himaylan pink salt*

Mint

Mustard seeds

Nutmeg*

Onion powder

Parsley

Paprika/Smoked paprika

Red chili flakes*

Rosemary

Tarragon

Thyme

Turmeric*

Vanilla*

Fresh is best when it comes to herbs but keep your favourite flavours to hand in a dried variety for when stocks are low!

Many recipes include more spices than are needed so if you don’t have something, skip it or replace it with a similar flavour that you like.

Spices are a great condiment to keep close to hand, what’s your favourite? Bring your grains and veg to life with a sprinkling of smoked paprika, turmeric or cumin

Condiments

Tamari sauce (Gluten Free soy sauce option)*

Dijon Mustard*

Capers

Miso*

Tomato paste (organic)

Tomato pulp (carton not canned)

Vegetable stock*

Nutritional yeast*

Red wine vinegar

Apple cider vinegar*

Coconut Milk (carton not canned)

Seasonings are the perfect way to liven up any meal in a flash!

Dried fruit

Cranberries (organic without sulphur)

Medjool dates*

Figs

Raisins

Apricots

Prunes

Goji Berries*

Mulberries*

Incan Berries

Mango

Pinapple

Handy to keep in the cupboard for snacking or adding to homemade granola and other breakfast recipes

Go easy on the dried fruit as it still contains sugar but makes a healthier snack for kids wanting a sweeter treat than a few cookies or bag of jelly sweets!

* indicates some of my kitchen favourites that you will come across in some of my recipes

Here are some Clever upgrades:

Don’t be too tough or try to change too many things in one go, take your time, gradually making simple smart upgrades to your daily lifestyle and enjoy the health boosting benefits along the way.

Bottled juices – make your own delicious juices with fresh vegetables and fruit

Fizzy drinks/soda – Sparkling mineral water with juice of half a lime and ice

Bottled smoothies – make your own with your favourite nutritional boosting superfoods

Boxed granola – Make your own granola with healthy sweetening alternatives

Canned Soup – make your own with seasonal fresh vegetables

Cows milk – almond milk, rice milk, oat milk, soya milk and coconut milk

Cows yoghurts – sheep or goats yoghurt

Ready made salad dressing – make your own and if you double the quantities you can store in the fridge for a few days

Tea and Coffee – swap that first caffeine fix of the day with hot water with the juice of half a lemon and dash of cayenne pepper. Throughout the day try herbal teas and infusions

Processed white bread and crackers – gluten free breads and crackers, you can find some great flax and quinoa crackers in the bio stores.

 

 

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.

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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!