Here’s some quick inspiration for a healthy summer breakfast: homemade spelt and sunflower seed bread, topped with vanilla protein soya yogurt*, nectarine and raspberries.
* For the protein soya yogurt I use 5 tsp of plain Alpro mixed with a 3/4 scoop of PHD Diet Whey vanilla protein powder. It’s my go-to breakfast protein boost that I rely on pretty much daily for my toast topping. The vanilla flavour works well with peaches, nectarines, raspberries, blueberries and grapes. And chocolate flavour protein powder is great paired with bananas and strawberries.
I’m on a mission to prove that healthy cake can be just as delicious as traditional cake, and this recipe definitely is a case in point.
Imagine all the goodness of sweet, moist apple cake with the warmth of cinnamon and a hint of chocolate, but without any butter, flour or refined sugar. This recipe uses chickpeas instead of flour, which makes it gluten-free and has the added benefit of swapping out some of the carbs for protein. You won’t be able to taste the chickpeas, promise. As my friend said after she tried these, “I can’t believe it’s chickpeas!”
I rely on these cakes for my mid-morning snacks, for a light energy boost before workouts…and basically for all my cake needs.
The basic recipe also works in all sorts of other flavour combinations, and over the next few weeks I’ll be posting a brownie version, a vanilla protein blondie version, and carrot cake variation on the apple recipe. So stay tuned for more gorgeous cake!
VEGAN, GLUTEN-FREE APPLE AND CINNAMON CAKE Makes one 24cm square tin
1 can (240g) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
30g agave nectar
50g peanut butter
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder*
250ml milk alternative (I use Oatly or Koko, but almond milk works too)
2 apples, chopped, half put aside
1 tsp coconut oil for the tin
Preheat the oven to 175°C. Brush a 24cm square (or equivalent size) brownie tin with coconut oil.
Put the oats in a food processor and blitz until they are finely ground.
Add all the other ingredients (reserving half of the chopped apples) and process everything into a smooth mixture. Stir in the remaining apples with a wooden spoon.
Fill the mixture in to the brownie tin, spread evenly, and bake at 175°C for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the middle of the cake comes out clean. It’s ok if you still get a slight wobble in the middle; that will give the cake a brownie-like consistency.
Leave to cool in the tin, then cut into squares or slices.
Keeps in the fridge up to one week. (They might keep longer but I haven’t tested that as they never survive more than a week in my fridge!)
* To ensure the cake is gluten-free us GF-certified oats and baking powder.
Aaah autumn. The season of tea, soups and warming breakfast porridge. For tonight’s Saturday dinner I made baked apple porridge (because why the hell not) and it’s the ultimate winter warmer!
The combination of apple, cinnamon and a crunchy topping gives this porridge all the goodness of a baked apple dessert. And by cooking half the apple in the porridge until it breaks down and using the rest for the topping, and adding some roasted rye flakes and seeds as a topping, you get a wonderful mixture of textures. It’s seriously so, so good. I could eat this for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
For this one make sure you use whole (chunky) porridge oats and not the fine ones, because the porridge needs to cook a bit longer for the apple to break down.
TWO GRAIN BAKED APPLE PORRIDGE WITH CINNAMON Makes one portion
For the porridge:
3 tbsp whole (chunky) porridge oats
1 tbsp rye flakes (for example from Holland & Barrett)
1/2 apple, peeled and chopped finely
200ml oat milk
1 tsp honey (or to taste)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
For the topping:
1 tbsp rye flakes
1 tsp brown linseed
1/2 apple, sliced
Put all the porridge ingredients in a small pan and cook until the apple chunks start to break down. If the consistency gets too thick just add a splash more hot water as you go along.
While the porridge is cooking, roast the remaining rye flakes in a pan until golden and crispy. (This only takes about half a minute once the pan is hot so keep an eye on them!)
To serve, put the porridge in a bowl, sprinkle the linseed and crispy rye flakes over it, top with the apple slices and give the whole thing a dusting of cinnamon.
As the selection of fruit on offer in the shops starts to look a bit bleak, I’m going back to my winter staple: oranges. So, of course, it wasn’t long until they found their way into energy balls. This combination of mixed nuts, orange peel, cacao and a hint of cinnamon works perfectly as a little warming winter snack in the run-up to the festive season – think chocolate orange or jaffa cakes without all the sugar and with added goodness.
ORANGE AND CACAO ENERGY BALLS
(Makes around 20 balls)
150g mixed nuts (I used the Brazil, cashew and walnut mix form H&B)
10g cacao (or cocoa)
Grated peel from one orange
20g maple syrup
Blitz everything in a strong food processor or Thermomix until it forms a sticky dough. Roll into bite-sized balls and enjoy. If you’re feeling fancy you can roll the balls in cocoa powder or chopped nuts.
They keep for at least five days in an airtight container in the fridge. (Beyond that I can’t tell, they don’t last that long in my house 😉 )
I love banana bread. I could eat it for three meals a day – but that doesn’t exactly fit with my healthy lifestyle. So I’ve tweaked my recipe for nut energy balls – which have pretty much become my daily go-to snack for sweet cravings and pre-workout energy boosts – to add the flavour and goodness of banana and cacao to this clean and healthy treat.
RAW BANANA BREAD NUTBALLS
(Makes around 30 balls)
125g whole rolled oats
200g mixed nuts (I use the broken cashew, brazil and walnut mix from H&B)
1 medium banana (100-120g)
1 tbsp cacao or cocoa
Throw everything into a food processor or Thermomix and blitz until it forms a sticky dough. Roll into bite sized balls and store in an airtight container.
They keep for up to a week in the fridge, but take them out of the fridge a while before you eat them as they’ll taste nicer when they’re not cold.
Here’s a simple, light and refreshing smoothie for a healthy start to the weekend – stuffed full of bright orange things to add a bit of colour to this pathetic, grey London summer.
I don’t often have melon in the house because I’m intolerant to some of them (courtesy of IBS ruining certain foods for me) so I don’t get this kind of flavour combination very often. But it just works, and it has given my morning a happy boost.
MELON, CARROT AND TANGERINE SMOOTHIE
2 medium carrots
1/4 cantaloupe melon
1 small pear
150-200ml cold water, or a handful of ice cubes
1 tsp honey (optional)
As a frequent snacker I NEED cereal bars to get me through the day, but most of the bought ones are stuffed full of sugar and artificial flavourings and leave you hungry again after ten minutes.
Here’s an alternative to all that: super easy, homemade cereal bars with all the goodness of nuts, fruits and natural sweeteners that actually fill you up and also satisfy all your cravings for sweetness and crunch. Totally clean and oh so good.
Be warned, though: These are very addictive and it’s all too easy to munch your way through quite a lot in one go – but the ingredients pack a serious amount of energy.
Spread the oats and almonds thinly on a baking tray and toast at 180°C for about 10 minutes. Give them a shake halfway through so they don’t burn on one side. Leave to cool.
Meanwhile blitz the dates and banana in a food processor. Stir in the honey and almond butter until you have a smooth and very sticky paste.
Chop the cherries and cashews roughly. Add to the toasted almonds and oats in a bowl, pour over the sweet paste and mix everything with a wooden spoon until evenly distributed.
Line a brownie tin with greaseproof paper; make sure paper covers the sides as well so you can lift it out easily later.
Pour the mixture into the tin and spread as evenly as you can with the wooden spoon, then press down with wet hands until the mixture is packed tightly. Leave to set in the freezer for about ten minutes.
Once the mixture has set, use a sharp knife to cut into bars, squares or bites – whichever size you like. Wrap each bar in greaseproof paper and store them in an airtight container in the freezer.
They keep for at least two weeks – beyond that I can’t tell as a batch rarely lasts that long in my house…
Apologies for the lack of recipes in recent weeks! Life’s been a bit crazy. In happy news we adopted a tiny stray cat who is very pregnant and also a little whirlwind, so I’ve spent the past two weeks chasing after this new troublemaker and helping her settle into her new home. Then I caught some mystery virus that put me to bed for days with a fever and no appetite, and the resulting lack of exercise and healthy eating triggered my IBS pretty badly…
Anyhow I’m back on my feet and the first thing I made was a summery smoothie to recharge myself with vitamins and happy feels. This one’s all sweet and creamy and generally wonderful.
Sweet summer smoothie
150g white grapes
3 tbsp oats
200ml coconut milk (I use Koko Dairy Free)
Blitz everything, sit in the sun and enjoy.
For quick and easy portioning of mangoes and pineapples, I freeze them in bite-sized chunks to chuck into smoothies as and when needed.
Summer has finally arrived, and with it punnets of gorgeous berries everywhere you look. I love berry season – from the moment you bit into the first strawberry of the year to the harvest of juicy, sharp blackberries later in the summer. And there are endless ways to enjoy them. Think fresh berries to top your breakfast toast for a healhty alternative to jam. Think smoothies – sweet strawberries and peaches, for example, or refreshing blueberry and mint. Or mid-afternoon snacks – all I need in summer is a punnet of blueberries to get me through those hours in the office. And, of course, cake! Cupcakes in particular – the combination of tiny cakes and berries is a guaranteed winner for any occasion.
Gooseberries are often overlooked when it comes to baking but they are gorgeous in cake. Their fresh, tart flavour balances out the sweetness beautifully, adding a bit of zing to your bake.
For these cupcakes I’ve used dark brown sugar instead of white because it gives you a subtler, richer sweetness. And by replacing half the white flour with wholegrain spelt, you can deepen the flavour even more and get a more interesting texture while keeping your cakes perfectly light and fluffy.
Crumble toppings work well with berries and they’re a great way to make your cupcakes look pretty without having to muck about with frosting – for example when it’s so hot that your buttercream would just melt off, or you don’t want to go all out on the calories – and throwing in a handful of granola adds a lovely bit of extra crunch.
INGREDIENTS Makes 12 cupcakes
90g self-raising flour
85g wholemeal spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
115g unsalted butter, softened
115g dark brown sugar
2 large free-range eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp milk
FOR THE TOPPING
50g unsalted butter
50g plain flour
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
icing sugar, to dust
TO MAKE THE CUPCAKES
First prepare the topping: Cut the butter into small pieces and rub it into the flour until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the granola and the sugar.
Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.
Wash the gooseberries and pat them dry. Top and tail them, cut them into half and dust with a little flour – this is to keep them from sinking to the bottom of the cakes during the baking.
Beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy, then beat in the vanilla essence and egg until fully incorporated.
Mix the two flours and baking powder and sift over the mixture. Gently fold in along with the milk, then fold in the gooseberries.
Spoon the mixture into the cases, filling them no more than two thirds. Spoon the crumble mixture over the top and press down slightly.
Bake in the middle of the oven at 180°C (fan) for about 20 minutes, or until a skewer or toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Once the cupcakes are cooled completely, dust them lightly with icing sugar.
If you can’t get hold of gooseberries, these cupcakes also work beautifully with other slightly sharp berries, such as raspberries or blackberries.
For some more baking ideas with summer berries, check out these recipes:
Peaches and strawberries are two of my summer favourites, so of course I had to throw them into a smoothie together. And guess what – yep, liquid heaven. Made with a handful of oats and some coconut milk for a full breakfast, this is an incredibly creamy smoothie full of gently sweet flavours, almost crossing over into milkshake territory. In short, totally yum.
STRAWBERRIES AND PEACHES SMOOTHIE
2 small peaches
1 small pear
a handful of red grapes
100ml coconut milk
Throw everything into a blender (I use a Thermomix) and blitz until smooth.
Optional: To make the smoothie more filling (for example to have it for breakfast), add 3 tbsp oats and an additional 100ml coconut milk