Winter breakfast: vegan cacao-hazelnut and banana-coconut super porridge

There’s nothing as comforting as a big bowl of hot porridge when I roll out of bed on a cold, dark winter morning – but it has to be of the clean variety, with some extra flavour and goodness.

I use Koko Dairy Free for my porridge; it’s a light and delicately flavoured coconut milk that doesn’t dominate the flavours and creates a creamy porridge. Throw in the banana with your oats at the start (a trick I learned from Deliciously Ella) – it breaks down during the cooking, adding more flavour and making the porridge wonderfully puffy. Plus, cooking brings out all the natural sweetness of the banana, meaning you don’t need to add sweetener.

Here are two of my favourite porridge recipes based on banana.


cacao-hazelnut-porridge

CACAO AND HAZELNUT SUPER PORRIDGE
Serves 1

Around 5 tbsp whole rolled oats
250ml Koko Dairy Free coconut milk
1 banana, sliced
1-2 tsp cacao or cocoa powder
A handful of hazelnuts, halved

Optional: A squeeze of agave nectar (if you like it sweet)
Optional: 1/2 tsp of maca and baobab for a little energy and Vitamin C boost

Put the oats, banana slices and coconut milk into a pan, cook to the desired consistency (add a splash of hot water if the porridge gets too dry). Add the cacao and optional ingredients, stir thoroughly, and serve sprinkled with a little extra cacao and the hazelnuts.


banana-cocout-porridge

BANANA AND COCONUT SUPER PORRIDGE
Serves 1

Around 5 tbsp whole rolled oats
250ml Koko Dairy Free coconut milk
1 banana, sliced
A handful of coconut flakes
A little cinnamon, to serve

Optional: 1/2 tsp of maca and baobab for a little energy and Vitamin C boost

Put the oats, banana slices, coconut flakes and coconut milk into a pan, cook to the desired consistency (add a splash of hot water if the porridge gets too dry). Add the optional ingredients and stir in well. To serve, sprinkle with a little cinnamon and add some extra coconut flakes for texture.

Healthy Christmas treat: orange and cacao energy balls

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.

cacao-orange-nut-balls

ORANGE AND CACAO ENERGY BALLS
(Makes around 20 balls)

60g oats
150g mixed nuts (I used the Brazil, cashew and walnut mix form H&B)
5 dates
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 😉 )

Raw banana bread nutballs: a delicious and healthy energy boost

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.

banana-bread-nutballs

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)
4 dates
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. 
Nom.

Quick cheat: Healthy hazelnut butter nutella

Bu now I’m largely living without chocolate, sweets and processed sugar (aside from the occasional cake and emegency KitKat), but one thing I found really hard to give up is Nutella. Nutella is basically my crack. I can’t have a jar of the stuff in the house because I will eat the lot, with a spoon, in a day (or less).

In my search for alternatives I tried Deliciously Ella’s healhty nutella recipe and it was m delicious, but the joy didn’t last long because it went mouldy within a few days. I think that was due to the water being added to the nuts in her recipe. (I have since learned that water is the death of all nut butters.) 

So this time I tried a simpler approach, grabbed a jar or Meridian’s crunchy hazelnut butter, stirred in 2 tsp of raw cacao powder and some maple syrup (just adjust to taste depending on how sweet you like it) AND IT IS AMAZING. 

So there, I’m saved. I don’t have to give up Nutella and I’ve found a better, healthier version. With crunch. 

  
And I just happen to have some fresh, homemade German rye and hazelnut bread in the house…so that’s my meals sorted for the weekend!

Clean almond and cherry cereal bars: crunchy, sweet and dangerously addictive

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.

almond-cherry-cereal-bars-1

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.


ALMOND AND CHERRY CEREAL BARS

150g whole rolled oats
100g almonds
50g cashews
80g salted almond butter (or add a pinch of salt)
40g honey
100g dates
75g dried cherries
1/2 banana

 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Line a brownie tin with greaseproof paper; make sure paper covers the sides as well so you can lift it out easily later.
  5. 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.
  6. 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…

Almond and cherry cereal bars

No-bake nut, cherry and white chocolate cookie dough balls

I’ve been blissing out on healthy / raw / vegan alternative sweet treats for the last few months and these are my absolute favourites. They taste just like cookie dough, but with all the naughty bits removed.

After experimenting with nuts and dates for low-guilt, high-energy treats to have as snacks before my workouts, I tried something new with these, adding rolled oats for a more dough-y texture and dried cherries because, well, mmmmh cherries! And if you don’t roll them in white choc drops they’re probably healthier, but cherry and white chocolate is too good a combination and should not be sacrificed for the sake of calorie counting.

So, get ready for blissballs!

almond-white-chocolate-cherry-cookie-dough-balls


INGREDIENTS

Makes about 20 bite-sized balls

90g rolled oats
100g almonds
50g cashews
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
75g dried cherries
40g maple syrup
20g agave nectar (or skip the agave and use 80g maple syrup altogether)
50g white chocolate drops (optional…but oh so good)


TO MAKE THE BALLS

  1. Blitz the oats, almonds and cashews in a food processor until they are a fine, floury consistency.
  2. Add the cherries, salt, vanilla and sweeteners and blitz again until the mixture starts to form a dough.
  3. Form into bite-sized balls and roll in the chocolate drops. Or, for the perfectionists, if you stick the choc drops in with the point side and keep rolling gently until they’re fully submerged you get the polka dot effect.

Keep in the fridge (if you manage to not eat the whole batch at once.)

Quick and easy almond, cashew and pistachio energy balls

It’s Saturday and I’m stuck at home with a cold when I was meant to be out for a long run around sunny Regent’s Park. FML etc. So to cheer myself up I made another batch of energy balls.

After last week’s mixed nut balls rolled in coconut flakes, I tried for a more minimal flavour this time, using only almonds and cashews, less of the dates and cacao, and rolled the balls in ground pistachios. The result was a beautifully nutty, lighter and less sweet type of blissball.

almond cashew energy balls


ALMOND, CASHEW AND PISTACHIO ENERGY BALLS
(Makes around 15 balls)

80g almonds (soaked in water overnight and drained)
80g cashewS (soaked in water overnight and drained)
6 dates
4tbsp almond milk
1 tbsp cacao
1/2 tsp good-quality vanilla extract
100g pistachios, ground or chopped, to roll

  1. Put everything except the pistachios in a food processor and blitz until you get a slightly crunchy paste.
  2. Shape into little balls and roll in the pistachios.
  3. Awesomeballs!

Vegan nut chocolate energy balls: the perfect pre-workout snack

Time for another clean food recipe because I’m enjoying this stuff so much at the moment. I’ve mostly given up chocolate, biscuits & co, without even making a conscious effort to do it. But a handful of nuts or a quick smoothie for a snack just make me feel so much better – especially on workout days. And even more so if cacao is involved. Cacao makes everything better…

So here’s my new favourite snack format: blissballs!

vegan nut chocolate energy balls


NUT CHOCOLATE ENERGY BALLS

100g almonds (soaked in water overnight and rinsed)
150g mixed nuts (soaked in water overnight and rinsed)
10 dates
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp cacao
4 tbsp almond milk (or any other nut milk)
1 tbsp coconut oil (optional)
Coconut flakes, to roll

  1. Put everything in the food processor and blend until you have a smooth paste. (Or, if you prefer a bit of crunch, stop blending before it gets too smooth.)
  2. Refrigerate for half an hour or so; this will make the mixture easier to roll.
  3. Shape into balls and roll them in coconut flakes.
  4. Bliss out on blissballs!

Stay tuned for more blissballs – I’m on a roll with these babies 😉

Skinny courgette, cocoa and pistachio cupcakes

Well, I’m not sure how skinny they actually are, but un-iced, these cupcakes contain no fats other than those that naturally occur in the other ingredients. So that makes them pretty skinny in my book. They’re also largely courgette based so they must count as at least one of your five a day. See, they’re practically healthy!

Light, chocolatey, delicious, and probably one of your five a day.
Light, chocolatey, delicious, and probably one of your five a day.


INGREDIENTS

Makes 15 cupcakes
100g shelled pistachios
3 eggs
180 light brown muscovado sugar
300g courgettes
120g self-raising flour
60g cocoa powder
½ tsp salt

For the icing
100g unsalted butter
100g icing sugar
50g cocoa powder
50g shelled pistachios


TO MAKE THE CUPCAKES

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and line two muffin tins with 15 paper cases.
  2. Peel the courgettes and grate them finely.
  3. Grind the pistachios in a food processor or mill until they are are powdery. The finer they are ground, the better the cake.
  4. Whisk the eggs and sugar until they are pale and fluffy. Beat in the courgettes and ground pistachios, then beat in the flour and salt until well combined. The mixture will be quite drippy.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the cases, filling them no more than two thirds. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of a cupcake comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

TO DECORATE

  1. For the icing, beat the cubed butter until fluffy, then gradually beat in the icing sugar. Beat in the sifted cocoa and keep beating until everything is creamy and well combined. Spread the icing evenly on the cupcakes.
  2. Crush half the pistachios and leave the other half whole. Sprinkle them over the cupcakes and leave to set for a bit.

This delicious recipe is adapted from Harry Eastwood‘s chocolate and courgette cake as published in Waitrose Kitchen.