Sunday 20 July 2014

Raw Brownie Recipe

I've been meaning to try these for ages, since reading queen of clean eating (in my opinion) Deliciously Ella's recipe back in April.

The reason it took me so long was that I didn't think my budget blender would be able to handle the volume of nuts and sticky dates. So I made a few tweaks and hey presto: my take on a raw brownie recipe without an industrial food processor!

You'll need:

  • 1 small bowl of medjool dates 
  • 1 small bowl of walnut halves
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of organic raw cacao powder
  • A splash of organic agave syrup.
Pour your walnut halves on a chopping board. Grab a fork and mash, crush and squash the nuts as finely as you can. 

Then blend. I added a few dashes of water to help the nuts mix.

Next, de-pip your dates and chop very, very finely (this is sticky. Very sticky). Add to the blender along with your whipped walnuts, adding more water if needed. 

Then add in the cacao powder and agave syrup before giving it one final blitz. If your blender struggles a bit (mine did), mix it round with a spoon.

Place in a baking tray and pop it in the freezer for an hour. 

After one hour, check how your chocolate mix is getting on. Mine was still not set, so I gave it another two hours. I took them out, cut one slice for myself and put the rest in the fridge to cool.

This is how it turned out:

Ok, ok, so not quite the brownie texture (or look!) I was expecting, but I think that's largely down to the water I added. But, for the sake of not wanting to break my blender, I'm pretty happy with what I ended up with.. imagine a dense, creamy frozen pudding - chocolately and gooey - it tastes like that. It tastes so good I can't actually believe there's no nasty processed ingredients in it!

If you think your blender can handle it without water, give it a go and let me know...


Monday 14 July 2014

Courgette Noodles

There's been so much hype about these recently. Intrigued, I bought a Julienne peeler from Amazon (for a bargainous £3.29) to see what all the fuss was about.

Obviously, these carb-free noodles are packed with nutrients but I've always been a little sceptical about the taste when reading other 'zucchini' noodle recipes, but I can assure you, these really don't feel like a cheap swap. They go all squishy and soft and taste really, really good. Here's how to make them:

These ingredients are for one, so just multiply as needed.

For the noodles:
  • 2 courgettes, spiralized (I used one courgette for myself here but I'd definitely use two next time - the noodles shrink quite a bit when they're cooking.)
  • Tomato puree
  • 1/4 avocado
I like my 'pasta' really tomatoey so added double the amount of puree to avocado.

For the veg:
  • Half a red onion
  • Half a pepper
  • Handful of plum tomatoes
  • 1 portobello mushroom
  • Paprika
  • Black pepper
  • Wedge of lime
Obviously, you can swap around your accompanying veg, I was just chopping and cooking whatever I had in the fridge, and luckily it tasted alright!

Peel your courgettes and pop them in a pan with some olive oil. Sprinkle with paprika and black pepper. Cook for five minutes. 

In a separate pan toss in all your remaining vegetables and cook for ten minutes. 

Mash the avocado and spoon into the courgette mix. Add a generous dollop of tomato puree and stir in.

Pop your noodles on a warm plate, arrange your veg medley around it, and give the lime a tough squeeze... and that's it!

Genuinely one of the easiest, tastiest healthy dishes I've tried.

*** UPDATE! ***

Ok, ok, I think I'm officially in love with these; I can't stop making them - currently my favourite variation is with paprika prawns. It's so easy.

1) Cook your noodles. You can either saute them as above, or steam them (I steamed them for this dish and think I prefer it this way). After they've been steamed for ten minutes, add your mashed avocado and tomato puree.

2) In a separate pan, fry off half a red onion and a clove of garlic. Add your prawns and douse in paprika. Cook for five minutes.

3) Mix the prawns and noodles together, and serve.


Sunday 6 July 2014

Walking in the Peak District

I love getting out of the city on the weekend. On Saturday James and I got up early and headed over to Curbar Gap and the surrounding area in the Peak District for a big ass walk.

We waded through fern bushes (NB I am no horticulturist - there's a good chance this isn't fern. But, potato, potato).

Clambered on rocks...

Tried to tame some little lambs;

And breathed in a whole load of fresh, country air.

The walk's got everything.. a dense forest, rolling hills, kissing gates, quarrys, muddy paths and clear stream water. One of those 'country' places where you say hi to everyone you pass - which I do, but it always makes me laugh. If they were walking down a city street you wouldn't even acknowledge them.

 The photo below is my favourite from the day:

We walked for a few hours before driving to a lush country pub, The Fox House, for a much deserved lunch and pint of cider (or two).

On Sunday, we had a picnic in Buxton Pavillion Garden and watched a swing brass band - not exactly rock and roll but such a nice way to spend the weekend!

It's just over an hour away from Manchester in the car, so if you're reading this from the North West, put this on your weekend to do list.... and if anyone knows of any other good country routes up this way, please let me know..

Thursday 3 July 2014

Quinoa and Chickpea Salad

This recipe is delicious and is perfect either as a main course or a side dish at a summer BBQ. 

 For four servings, you'll need;

1/2 cup quinoa
1 can cooked chickpeas
1 lime
1 cucumber
4 handfuls of plum tomatoes
1 red onion
1 handful basil leaves
Black pepper & paprika to season

Boil 1 cup water and add your quinoa. It expands at an unholy rate so don't be tempted to add more (I've learnt that the hard way numerous times when cooking hungry..). It'll take about 20 minutes, and will be ready once the water has absorbed. I also added herbs and spices (paprika and fresh basil leaves) to the pot to let the flavours infuse.

Chop up all your veg. Add your chickpeas to the bubbling quinoa to warm them through.

Once your quinoa is cooked, take a large mixing bowl and throw everything in together. You might need to strain your quinoa if it's particularly soggy (yum).

Grab your lime and squeeze liberally all over the salad. It gives it a really zesty, fresh taste, which makes the dish in my opinion.

Twist some cracked black pepper over the dish and you're go to go.

It's also really easy to swap in and out different ingredients. I added feta to mine this evening:

... it also tastes great with baked salmon, as well as with roasted chicken breast (spread some tomato purée and paprika over the chicken whilst it's cooking for a really fresh flavour).

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