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)
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!
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.
As a German living in the UK I’ve found the only way to have decent bread in my life is to make my own. I tried using a breadmaker for a while, but whatever recipe I used (from the book that came with it), I always ended up with light-as-air, soft-crusted, doesn’t-really-feed-you kind of loaves that I could as well have bought in the supermarket and that have become the terror of my British breakfasts.
My live saver arrived on my 30th birthday in the shape of a Thermomix and it has changed – well, if not my life then certainly my kitchen, my eating and most of all my bread-making. Because I’m finally equipped with the kit and the recipes to make German bread just like the ones I grew up with – and all without having to spend a fortune at posh delis or markets.
Here’s the recipe for one of my favourite breads, using a combination of wheat, rye and spelt for a more interesting flavour and texture, and a wonderfully firm and crusty crust. You can vary the amounts – half/half spelt and white works very well – but don’t use more than one quarter rye as you’ll end up with a very collapsed, dense bread.
MIXED WHOLE GRAIN BREAD WITH SUNFLOWER AND PUMPKIN SEEDS
I’m giving you the recipe for ready ground flours as they’re easier to come by in the UK, but you can also buy whole grains and grind them in the Thermomix, in batches of up to 250g, 1 minute / speed 10.
Weigh the white flour and banana into the mixing bowl and chop the banana for 5 seconds / speed 4.
Add the whole grain flours, yogurt, seeds, salt, sugar, yeast and water and work into a dough for 3 minutes / kneading (interval) mode. Shake the dough out into the loaf tin, gently smooth it in to fill the tin evenly, and leave to rise in a warm place for around 30 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 200°C.
Bake the bread for 40-45 minutes at 200°C. Remove from the tin immediately, peel off the greaseproof paper and leave to cool on a wire rack.
Eat a cheeky slice while it’s still warm for 100% bread happiness.
* You can buy bread spice in German shops or make your own: Finely grind up 2 tsp caraway seeds, 2 tsp fennel seeds, 1 tsp anise and 1 tsp coriander seeds in a pestle and mortar and store in a clean jar.
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
I love tarka dal but if you’re doing it properly it just takes forever to cook. I usually make a huge bowl when I’m cooking curry anyway and freeze it in small portions for an occasional treat. Here’s a quick and tasty red lentil dip that reminds me of the flavours of a nice, comforting bowl of dal but is a lot quicker to make. It’s also a bit lighter and tastes great with veggie sticks or spread on crunchy lettuce hearts. A perfect addition to the lunchbox!
This is a recipe for Thermomix, but you could also make it with a blender or food processor – see alternative instructions below.
CURRIED RED LENTIL DIP WITH DILL
(Makes 3-4 portions – depending on how hungry you are!)
100g celery, in pieces
A small red chilly (fresh or dried)
125g split red lentils, rinsed and drained
2 tsp vegetable stock
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp medium curry powder
freshly ground black pepper
5 spring onions, in chunks
a handful fresh dill, with stalks
Recipe for Thermomix:
Chop the celery and chili for 5 seconds / speed 5.
Add the lentils, water, stock and spices. Simmer for 25 minutes / 100°C / speed 2 – keep an eye on it as the lentils can rise up a bit when the water starts boiling.
Add the spring onions and dill and puree gradually on 2-4-6-8 until you have a smooth paste.
Without a Thermomix:
Chop the celery roughly, chop the chili finely and fry both in a little olive oil until soft.
Add the lentils, water, stock and spices, bring to the boil and simmer for 25.
Put everything into a food processor, add the spring onions and dill and blitz until smooth.
This is it – the treat to end all treats. The dessert no other dessert can live up to. The ultimate bowl of chocolatey indulgence.
And best of all: it’s raw, vegan, dairy-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, and full of beautiful ingredients that are good for you. All it takes is an avocado, a handful of dates and raspberries, some cocoa and a dash of almond milk. And it takes about two minutes to make. See, it’s the all-round perfect treat!
THE ULTIMATE AVOCADO CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
1 ripe avocado, flesh scooped out (about 150g)
a handful of raspberries (about 40g, can be frozen)
2 heaped tsp cacao powder
50ml almond milk
Put all the ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth and creamy. Eat and be happy.
Raw cacao is the secret to the wonderful chocolatey-ness of this dessert
You can adjust the lightness and creaminess by the amount of almond milk – use less for dark chocolate style, and a bit more for a lighter chocolate flavour. You can also adjust the sweetness by adding a few more dates or a squeeze of agave nectar. I like this dessert when it’s not too sweet so the flavour of the cacao and raspberries comes through better.
And if you want to enjoy this as a drink rather than a dessert, just up the almond milk to around 250ml and you’ve got the best-ever healthy chocolate shake!