Peanut butter bliss balls

peanut-butter-bliss-ballsI’ve been craving peanut butter lately so decided to experiment with peanut butter bliss balls.

I’ve tried lots of recipes but most contained shredded coconut which i didn’t find worked particularly well with peanut butter.

I’ve landed on this recipe which tastes AMAZING and is super simple – containing just four key ingredients and optionally some good quality dark chocolate.

Health benefits

Dates are rich in a range of minerals and vitamins including iron which is lacked by so many women, especially pregnant women. They’re a good source of magnesium which is known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties and has been linked to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, assisting with arthritis and is also beneficial for those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.  

Dates contain high levels of soluble fibre which helps food pass through the digestive tract and as such they’re often prescribed for those suffering from constipation.

Cashews are rich in monounsaturated fats which are said to be good for the cardiovascular system and may be particularly beneficial for diabetics. They are extremely high in copper which plays an important role in many physiological processes within the body including iron utilisation, production of melanin and development of bone and connective tissues. They’re

a good source of phosphorous, manganese and magnesium which balances calcium and is essential for healthy bones, nerves and muscles.

Peanuts are actually a legume rather than a nut and are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and oleic acid, a healthy fat also found in olive oil. Peanuts are a good source of antioxidants, minerals copper, manganese, niacin and folate as well as vitamin E and protein.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 3 tablespoons good quality peanut butter (or even 4 if you love peanut butter)
  • 8 medjool dates, stones removed
  • Half a teaspoon good quality salt
  • Optional (if you like chocolate chips): 20g high cocoa content dark chocolate (i choose 70 or 85%).

Method

  1. Place the cashews, dates, peanut butter and salt in a food processor and blend until the ingredients are well mixed but there are still small course chunks of nuts
  2. If you’d like chocolate chips, chop the chocolate into small chunks to make chocolate chips
  3. Add the peanut butter mixture and chocolate to a bowl
  4. Roll into 8-10 bliss balls

Makes 8-10 bliss balls that will keep in the fridge for several weeks.

Healthy chocolate orange truffles

img_8948These truffles are my favourite sweet treat of the moment. Dipped in dark chocolate they have a bitter-sweet taste that satisfies my sweet cravings without wanting me to go back for second and third helpings.

Health benefits

Almonds are rich in monounsaturated fats which when consumed in their natural form have been associated with lowering the risk of heart disease. They are a good source of vitamin E, magnesium and potassium and antioxidants and their consumption has been credited for helping the body lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and protect against diabetes.

Dates are a high in fibre and are a good source of a variety of minerals. They are often recommended for those suffering from constipation and their nicotine content is thought to help alleviate a variety of intestinal disorders. While naturally high in sugar, consuming together with almonds and chia seeds (as in this recipe) means that their effect on raising blood sugar after consumption is mitigated.

Chia seeds are considered by many as a superfood thanks to their high Omega-3 fatty acid content which is important for heart health and brain function. They are extremely high in fibre, calcium, antioxidants and trace minerals are a great non-animal source of protein. In fact their high antioxidant content is thought to help the body absorb the antioxidants from chia seeds.

Cacao is one of the most nutrient dense natural foods on the planet with 40 times more antioxidants than blueberries. Cacao is one of highest sources of iron in the plant world and is rich in magnesium and calcium and many other trace minerals. Regular consumption of cacao is thought to help reduce insulin resistance and blood pressure as well as reduce the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease.

Oranges are famously high in vitamin C and a study by US and Canadian researchers published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found evidence to suggest that the consumption of orange peel was as effective at helping lower bad cholesterol as many cholesterol lowering drugs.

Ingredients

  • 200g/7oz medjool dates, pitted
  • 100g/3.5oz almonds (I use activated almonds, dry roasted are good too but if not you can use raw almonds)
  • 100g/3.5oz dark chocolate with a high cocoa content (I choose 85% but 70% works too)
  • 45g/1.6oz shredded coconut
  • 4 tbs orange juice (freshly juiced)
  • 3 tbs finely grated orange peel
  • 3 tbs chia seeds
  • 2 tbs cacao powder

Method

  1. Combine the chia seeds and orange juice and allow to stand for 10 minutes
  2. Place a glass bowl over a pot of hot water (but not boiling) and break the dark chocolate into it and leave until it has melted
  3. Add the almonds to a food processor and blend until coarse. Remove 1.5 tablespoons and set aside
  4. Add the dates, cacao, shredded coconut, orange peel and chia mixture to the food processor (along with the almonds) and blend until smooth
  5. Roll the mixture into ~20 balls
  6. Using a fork, roll and coat the balls in the dark chocolate
  7. Place the balls on a sheet of grease-proof paper and sprinkle with the coarsely ground almonds that you’ve set aside
  8. Cool in the fridge for at least 30 minutes

Makes ~20 truffles. Will keep in the fridge for several weeks.

Pea and Broccoli Soup

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I’m loving this green soup recipe at the moment. It’s tasty, nutritious and thanks to the potato leaves you feeling nicely satiated.

I like to make it with my own homemade chicken broth but if you’re vegan you can easily substitute with vegetable stock.

Health benefits

Peas are little powerhouses of nutrition packed with vitamins and minerals and because they’re actually part of the legume family they’re a good source of dietary fibre, contain protein, lots of B vitamins and even omega 3 essential fatty acids. Research has linked the consumption of peas to lowering the risk of stomach cancer and type 2 diabetes. They also have high levels of antioxidants and strong anti-inflammatory properties.

Broccoli is considered to be a superfood by many. Just a single cup serve provides 245% RDI of vitamin K which plays an important role in blood clotting and bone health and 135% RDI of vitamin C (a concentrated antioxidant source) which helps boost the immune system, supports cardiovascular and eye health and helps protect the body against cancer and strokes. Broccoli has a strong positive impact on the body’s detoxification process and helps lower levels of bad cholesterol.

If using real chicken broth, you’ll get an extra dose of minerals, gelatin and overall immune boosting properties.

Ingredients

  • 2 good sized broccoli heads (around 450g or 1 lb)
  • 2 cups good quality frozen peas (around 250g or ½ lb)
  • 1 litre / 2.1 pints good quality chicken stock/broth or vegetable stock
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 good sized potato, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Method

  1. Bring a large saucepan to a medium-high heat and fry the onions and garlic for a couple of minutes until they start to turn translucent
  2. Add the stock and potato and bring to the boil then allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are nice and soft
  3. Add the broccoli and peas and cook for a further 5 minutes
  4. Remove from heat and allow to cool then blend until smooth
  5. Season with salt and pepper

Serve topped with your favourite chopped herbs and some natural yoghurt if you feel like something a little creamy

Serves 4

Banana berry smoothie bowl

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This is such a delicious breakfast, it’s hard to believe it’s good for you. With only two serves of fruit, it’s not overloaded with sugar so is suitable for many on a detox who are limiting processed sugar and dairy.

Linseeds, also know as flaxseeds are an excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, in fact they’re often claimed to be nature’s most valuable source. They are rich in lignans, a type of soluble and insoluble fibre that’s high in antioxidants, may help regulate hormone levels, boost the immune system and lower levels of bad cholesterol. It’s important to note that when consumed whole your body will often pass the seed so grinding them (ideally fresh) makes their high nutrient profile more readily available for the body. Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E, magnesium and selenium. Almonds provide the body with plenty of good fats, minerals and are also good source of vitamin E.

Incorporating a variety of nuts and seeds into your diet is widely considered to provide cardiovascular support and boost heart health. They provide the body with a good source of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals  and plenty of antioxidants which play an important role in helping the body protect against cancer. Nuts and seeds are also a relatively good source of protein for vegetarians.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium to large banana
  • 70g / 2.5 oz frozen berries (any type will work)
  • 190ml /6.5 fl oz liquid – choose coconut water/almond milk/drinking coconut milk (I use two thirds coconut water and a third almond milk but you can vary or use a single liquid depending on what you like and what you have available)
  • 2 tablespoons LSA (I like to make this myself, to do so grind 1 tablespoon of almonds with half a tablespoon each of linseeds and sunflower seeds)

Method

  • Add two thirds of the banana, and the remaining ingredients to a high powered blender and blend until smooth
  • Transfer to a bowl (or glass if you prefer)
  • Slice the remaining third of the banana and top the smoothie with it. You may wish to add a few extra berries, some more nuts or chia seeds

Serves 1

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Activated Pepitas/Pumpkin Seeds

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I’ve been experimenting with activating pepitas (also known as pumpkin seeds) recently. According to Weston Price Foundation the process of soaking nuts, seeds and grains and legumes neutralises phytic acid which can be hard for the body to digest and makes the nutrients more readily available to the body.

Health Benefits of Pepitas

Pepitas/pumpkin seeds are rich in minerals including manganese, phosphorous, magnesium, copper and zinc and have long been valued as a good source of dietary zinc. They are a good source of a diverse range of antioxidants, the combination of which is not commonly found in other food sources. Similarly, they contain vitamin E in a variety of forms which is thought to increase its bioavailability.

Pepitas are also rich in omega 3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids and contain the amino acid tryptophan which is sometimes used to treat chronic insomnia.

It’s great to rely on a variety of food sources to meet your daily vitamin and mineral requirements. Try out my paleo honey nut bar recipe which is a great way to get kids to eat pepitas with other nuts and seeds. They also make great additions to salads.

Ingredients

  • As many pepitas as you would like to activate
  • Plenty of filtered water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar

Method

  1. Cover the pepitas in plenty of filtered water (allowing for the fact that they will expand) and add the lemon juice/apple cider vinegar
  2. Soak for 6 hours
  3. Drain and pat dry
  4. Place in a food dehydrator according to instructions for 12 hour or roast in the oven in the lowest temperature for the same amount of time

Once complete, allow to cool and store in an airtight container. If you don’t eat them very often or have made a large batch, it’s a good idea to store them in the fridge.

Activated walnuts

activated-walnuts-portraitIf there’s a nut worth activating, it’s most certainly the walnut. The process of soaking walnuts then slowly dehydrating them renders a beautiful, crunchy texture to the nuts and in my opinion improves their flavour by reducing the bitterness of the skin.

The process of “activating” nuts has become popular in recent times as an increasing number of people embrace eating whole foods. However soaking grains, legumes, nuts and seeds is an ancient art of food preparation that helps improve digestibility by neutralising harmful phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors that bind to minerals in the digestive tract including (including calcium, iron, zinc and magnesium) – limiting their absorption within the body.

Walnuts are often labeled as superfood for good reason. They are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids and are a good source of vitamin E. Studies have credited walnuts for supporting heart health, lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes and for their ability to help the body fight cancer, particularly prostate and breast cancer.. The world’s healthiest foods website has a great overview of the health benefits of walnuts.

Ingredients

  • 1 kg walnuts (more or less, depending on how many you have available)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Plenty of filtered water at room temperature (or slightly warmer)

Method

  • Place the walnuts in a large bowl (preferably glass or ceramic)
  • Cover with plenty of filtered water so that there’s ample when the nuts swell (make sure it’s at least room temperature, or just a little warmer)
  • Add the apple cider vinegar and mix through well
  • Soak for 6 hours
  • Drain well and pat dry
  • Place in a food dehydrator on the lowest temperature for 19 hours or place in your oven on the lowest temperature and roast for 14 hours. Check a couple, allow to cool and if not crunchy allow to dehydrate for another 5 hours
  • Once ready allow to cool and enjoy

Notes

  • Store in an airtight container or in the fridge or freezer

Sauteed brussel sprouts, green beans, cauliflower and pine nuts

Sauteed-brussel-sprouts-cauliflower-green-beans2
It wasn’t until recently that I fell in love with brussel sprouts. The bland vegetable that I loathed as a child has been revolutionised, appearing in delicious forms in modern cuisine.

A member of the cruciferous vegetable family (think broccoli, cauliflower, kale etc), brussel sprouts are extremely high in vitamins K and C and are a good source of minerals and antioxidants. Brussel sprouts have been credited for their ability to lower bad cholesterol and protect white blood cells within the body against DNA damage.

Cauliflower is nutrient dense vegetable and like brussel sprouts contains a compound called sulforaphane which has been linked to helping promote digestive health and is also used for the prevention of prostate cancer.

Green beans are high in antioxidants and support cardiovascular health. Like brussel sprouts and cauliflower, green beans have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body that helps fight against cancer.

I like to make this recipe with ghee which has a high smoke point and is revered in ayurvedic medicine for aiding digestion and detoxifying, however it’s just as tasty made with butter. It can also be made with olive oil for those who prefer to avoid dairy.

Ingredients

  • 400g/14oz brussel sprouts
  • 300g/10.5oz cauliflower
  • 300g/10.5oz green beans
  • 3 schallots/baby spring onions
  • 50g/1.75oz pine nuts
  • 50g/1.75oz ghee/butter or 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (juice of around half a small lemon)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Bring a frying pan to a medium high heat and toast the pinenuts for a couple of minutes, tossing regularly until browned. Remove from heat and set aside
  2. Steam the green beans for a couple of minutes, ensuring they remain crunchy. Set aside
  3. Grate the brussel sprouts in a food processor, or by hand or alternatively they can be finely chopped
  4. Cut the cauliflower into small florets, not more than an inch in size
  5. Finely chop the shallots
  6. Bring a frying pan to a medium heat and add the ghee/butter or olive oil then fry the cauliflower for around a minute, then add the brussel sprouts and shallots and fry for another 2 minutes until the vegetables are starting to turn golden brown then add the beans and stir through until warm
  7. Stir through the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper
  8. Remove from heat, sprinkle with the pine nuts and serve immediately

Serves 4 as a side

Pear, parsley, lime and ginger green smoothie

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This smoothie is one of my favourite hangover tonics. The ginger helps alleviate nausea and is wonderful for the digestive system, stimulating saliva and digestive enzymes.

Green leafy vegetables (including parsley) are rich in vitamins and minerals. Kale is claimed to be one of healthiest foods on the planet and is extremely high in vitamin K (a one cup serving of raw kale gives more than 600% RDI of vitamin K!). It’s also extremely high in beta carotene which the body turns into vitamin A. Green leafy vegetables are high in antioxidants and have an anti inflammatory on the body. There has been a great deal of research in modern times into the cancer fighting effects these types of foods have on the body.

Cucumber has an extremely high water content so is great for hydration, and is wonderfully alkalising so perfect on a hangover when your body will likely be acidic. Much modern literature points to the benefits of consuming a diet of ~60% alkalising foods (or more) from the reduction of yeast and fungus in the body to helping fight cancer.

Lemons and limes are also alkalising, rich in vitamin C and contain folate which plays a role in the body helping repair DNA damage.

My partner and I enjoy this smoothie on regular basis but it’s a real winner on a hangover!

Ingredients

  • Approx 170g/6 oz dark green leafy vegetables (I use a mixture of kale, baby spinach, asian greens. Basically whatever I have on hand.)
  • 15g or ½ oz ginger
  • Generous handful parsley (around 15g or ½ oz)
  • 1 x medium sized lebanese cucumber or around a third of a telegraph cucumber (around 150g or 5.25 oz)
  • 1 x small lime or half a lemon
  • 300ml coconut water
  • 250ml water
  • half a cup of ice (or more if you like it really cold)

Method

Add all the ingredients to a high powered blender and blend until smooth.

Serves 2

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Quinoa and chia seed breakfast bowl

quinoa-chia-breakfast-bowl

This recipe makes a delicious, versatile breakfast that can be enjoyed chilled in summer or warm in winter. It’s wonderfully portable so can be made in advance and will keep in the fridge for several days. Top with your favourite nuts, fruit and seeds and mix with coconut or almond milk.

I’ve included oats in this recipe but if you’re gluten free you can simply substitute with more quinoa and chia seeds. If using oats I suggest you soak them separately over night (this helps neutralise the phytic acid which can be hard for the body to digest), however if you’re short on time just mix everything together an hour in advance and you’ll be ready to go.

Health Benefits

A staple food in Central and South America, quinoa is a gluten-free grain revered for its health benefits. It’s rich in minerals and antioxidants and has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body which is thought to lower the risk of cancer. Quinoa contains all eight essential amino acids and is therefore considered a whole protein, making it an excellent choice for vegetarians.

Considered a superfood by many, chia seeds are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, high in fibre, minerals and antioxidants and make an excellent inclusion in the diet.

Oats are high in beta-glucan fibre which is said to lower the risk of bad cholesterol in the body. They also contain unique antioxidants which have been linked to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Throw in some nuts and berries and this breakfast bowl is teaming with a range of nutrients that will help you power through the morning.

Ingredients

  • 50g/1.75oz cooked quinoa (I like to soak my quinoa before cooking and then freeze in batches – you can use pre-cooked quinoa straight from the freezer in this recipe)
  • 20g / 0.7oz / 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
  • 20g oats / 0.7oz (optional – you can substitute with an extra 10g of chia seeds and 10g of quinoa)
  • 250ml /8.5 fl oz drinking coconut milk (I like Coco Quench) or almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or natural vanilla essence
  • half a teaspoon of cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 large ripe banana

Toppings of your choice

  • 30g chopped mixed nuts (I like almonds and hazelnuts)
  • Mixed berries or other fruit in season

Method

As noted above, steps 1 and 2 below are optional. If short on time simply add all the ingredients listed in steps 1 and 2 together and chill for an hour then move to step 4.

  1. If using oats, cover them in filtered water (room temperature) and allow to soak overnight, ideally for 12 hours
  2. Place the quinoa, chia seeds, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg in a bowl and cover with the coconut or almond milk – leave to soak overnight in the fridge
  3. Drain the oats, rinse and add to the quinoa mix
  4. Mash two thirds of the banana into the quinoa mixture (leave the rest to garnish) – your breakfast bowl is ready
  5. If you prefer a warm breakfast, place the mixture in a saucepan over a low heat and allow to cook for 10 minutes until warmed through (you may wish to add a little extra milk)
  6. Serve topped with the reserved banana, nuts and berries or other fruit in season

Serves 2

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Radish salad with avocado, mango & walnuts

radish-mango-avocado-salad2
This is a lovely salad to make in late summer, when mangoes, radishes and avocado are all in season.

Ingredients

  • 6 small round red radishes (or use any type of good eating radish that is available locally and in season)
  • Half a medium to large sized mango (or a whole small mango)
  • Half a medium to large sized avocado
  • 110g/3.5oz mixed leaves/ 4 tightly cupped packs
  • 30g/1oz walnuts, chopped into small pieces
  • Dressing

    • Fresh juice of one lemon – should equate to roughly 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
    • Equal parts olive oil (I choose cold pressed) – again, should equate to roughly 3 tablespoons depending on how juicy your lemon is
    • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard

    Method

    • Make the dressing by adding the ingredients to a small glass jar with a lid. Shake well and set aside
    • Place the washed lettuce leaves in a large salad bowl
    • Wash the radish and slice using a vegetable peeler so that you get lovely thin slices
    • Cut the mango and avocado into small chunks and add to the salad bowl
    • Pour roughly 2 tablespoons of dressing over the salad – this should be plenty but if not add a little extra (the rest will keep in the fridge for several days – I keep mine for a week and it’s always fine)
    • Serve sprinkled with the chopped walnuts

    Enjoy with your favourite protein (poached chicken works well).

    Serves 2 – 4

    Makes 2 large salads or 4 smaller side salads

    Health benefits

    Revered by the Chinese for their health promoting properties, radishes are great for the stomach and liver and have wonderful detoxification properties. They’re rich in vitamin C and contain the flavonoid anthocyanins, which has been credited for its anti-inflammatory and cancer fighting properties. Some research studies suggest that radishes are also good for cardiovascular health.

    Avocados are extremely rich in monounsaturated fats including oleic acid  which is said to enhance memory and brain activity and improve healthy cholesterol levels. Healthy fats play a vital role in helping the body absorb vitamin D.

    Mangoes are loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and their delicious sweet flavour provides a pefect compliment to the radish in this salad.

    Walnuts are rich are extremely rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids which promotes heart health and good cholesterol, they’re rich in antioxidants, minerals and vitamin E.

      radish-mango-avocado-salad