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Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Sweetcorn & Spinach Soup

This is a great recipe for those with busy lives as you can create a huge batch and freeze for another day. It’s easy to make too as you can throw all of the ingredients into a pan or a slow-cooker and leave it to cook while you get on with other things. The spinach and sweetcorn off-set each other beautiful and will fill your bowl with vibrant, mouther-watering colours.

Ingredients:

  • 500g Fresh finely chopped spinach
  • 400g Sweetcorn
  • 1 Sweet potato (finely chopped)
  • 2 Finely chopped onions
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 3 Cloves of garlic
  • 400ml gluten-free vegetable stock
  • ½ Tbsp rosemary
  • ½ Tbsp thyme
  • ½ Tbsp coriander
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Deseeded Birdseye chilies (optional)

Method:

Heat a large pan and add the onions and celery, and fry until golden brown.

In a separate pan add bay leaves to the stock and bring to the boil. Prepare all of your ingredients and place into a pan with the vegetable stock. Season and leave the ingredients to cook for 45 minutes on a low heat. Over the next 45 minutes, stir every 5 minutes or so to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom. You want to give it long enough for all of the ingredients to blend and infuse. I like to throw it all into a food-warmer and leave it on high for 3 hours while I get on with other things.

You’re ready to serve. I often make up a big batch and freeze a lot of it down as it’s great for taking to work as a simply soup. I also keep some in the freezer for those times when I have no time and need good food fast. On occasion I’ll cook a chicken breast and have this with it to give it a bit of protein if I’ve just had a session in the gym.

 

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Gluten-Free Lentil and Rosemary Soup

This is one of my favourite winter recipes. It has a warming taste and at least two of your portions of veg! It is the easiest thing in the world to make and it’s perfect for freezing or taking to work for lunch. The sautéed garlic, onions and celery blends perfectly with the lentils too…delicious!

Ingredients:

  • Spinach
  • 400g of green lentils
  • 2 Onions
  • 3 Cloves of garlic
  • 300ml gluten-free vegetable stock
  • Fresh Rosemary
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 Bay Leaves

Method:
Allow the vegetable stock to start warming on the stove. While this is  warming up hallow fry the garlic, onions and celery and then transfer this into the vegetable stock. Add in the spinach, green lentils, fresh rosemary and bay leaves and season. Leave for 45 minutes to cook on a low heat and allow the flavours to infuse.

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Beetroot Chicken

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A delicious winter-warmer that blends sweet and sour flavours together perfectly…

If you’re looking for a scrumptious and relatively healthy option for dinner then this is exactly what you need! The mix of beetroot, cranberries and purple grape gives it a wonderful sweet and sour taste and the spinach gives you a great portion of leafy greens. So eat up and enjoy!

  • Purple grape juice
  • Whole chicken or 12 Chicken thighs
  • 80g dried cranberries
  • 4 beetroot
  • 1 tin of kidney beans
  • 500g spinach

Wet ingredients

  • 2 heaped teaspoons of green seasoning
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp of honey
  • 1/4 tsp almond butter (or regular butter if you eat diary)
  • 2 tbsp dark soy
  • Olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Lea & Perrins
  • 2 Bird’s eye chillis
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Spices:

  • 1/4 dried ginger
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp white pepper
  • 2 tsp provincial herbs
  • 1/2 tsp five spice
  • 2 tsp of sea salt
  • 1 tsp of turmeric

Green seasoning (a Trinidian must-have):

  • 2 heaped teaspoons of chopped spring onion
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 garlic bulb
  • 1 onion
  • 1 Birdseye chilli
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Chives
  • Coriander

Method:

Combine all the wet ingredients and spices in a blender so they all begin to infuse. Then pour this mixture over the chicken thighs and leave it to marinate for one hour.

Heat a dash of oil in a pan and add the thinly sliced beetroot and the chicken with all the marinade. Allow the chicken to cook until it’s golden brown.

Add the kidney beans, spinach and cranberries to the above and stir in 300ml of purple grape juice. Leave to simmer for 30 minutes with the lid on.

Then serve with brown rice, sweet potato or quinoa.

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Great British Bread

GBBO 2015 is now over, the cakes have been eaten and the winner announced (Go Nadiya!). Rather than feel empty this Autumn as I search for something to replace my Wednesday night treat I’ve been inspired to bake!

I am following a low sugar diet at the moment so Paul Hollywood’s crusty loaf recipe is ideal… I thought I’d share it below so you can try it too (dip it in Olive Oil with a sprinkle of salt – heaven)…

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g/1lb 1oz strong white bread flour, plus a little extra flour for finishing
  • 40g/1½oz soft butter
  • 12g/2 sachets fast action dried yeast
  • 10g/2tsp salt
  • About 300ml tepid water
  • A little olive or sunflower oil
  • Additional cold water, for creating steam in the oven

METHOD:

  • Weigh out the ingredients.
  • Put the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the butter. Add the yeast to one side of the bowl and add the salt to the other – the salt will kill the yeast if they come into direct contact. Stir all the ingredients with a spoon to combine.
  • Add half of the water and turn the mixture round with your fingers. Continue to add water a little at a time, combining well, until you’ve picked up all of the flour from the sides of the bowl. You may not need to add all of the water, or you may need to add a little more – you want a dough that is well combined and soft, but not sticky or soggy. Mix with your fingers to make sure all of the ingredients are combined and use the mixture to clean the inside of the bowl. Keep going until the mixture forms a rough dough.
  • Use about a teaspoon of oil to lightly grease a clean work surface (using oil instead of flour will keep the texture of the dough consistent). Put your dough onto the greased work surface. Make sure you have plenty of space.
  • Fold the far edge of the dough into the middle, then turn the dough by a quarter turn and repeat. Do this several times until the dough is very lightly coated in olive oil.
  • Now use your hands to knead the dough. Push the dough out in one direction with the heel of your hand, then fold it back on itself, turn the dough a quarter turn and repeat. Kneading in this way stretches the gluten and makes the dough elastic. Do this for about 4 or 5 mins until the dough is smooth and stretchy. Work quickly so that the mixture doesn’t stick to your hands. If it does get too sticky you can add a little flour to your hands.
  • Clean and lightly oil your mixing bowl and put the dough back into it. Cover with a damp tea towel or lightly oiled cling film and leave it on one side to prove. This gives the yeast time to work and the dough will double in size. This should take about an hour, but will vary depending on the temperature of your room.
  • Stage two: Line a baking tray with baking parchment or silicone paper.
  • Once the dough has doubled in size you can scrape it out of the bowl to shape it. The texture should be bouncy and shiny. Put it onto a lightly floured surface and knock it back – use your hand to roll the dough up, then turn by a quarter turn and roll it up again. Repeat several times. Then use your hands to gently turn and smooth it into a round loaf shape.
  • Place onto the lined baking tray, cover with a tea towel or lightly oiled cling film and leave to prove again until it’s doubled in size. This will take about an hour, but may be quicker or slower depending on how warm your kitchen is.
  • Preheat the oven to 220°C (200°C fan assisted)/425°F/gas mark 7. Put an old, empty roasting tin into the bottom of the oven.
  • Stage three: After an hour the loaf should have risen again. Sprinkle some flour on top and very gently rub it in. Use a large, sharp knife to make shallow cuts about 1cm deep across the top of the loaf to create a diamond pattern.
  • Put the loaf on the baking tray into the middle of the oven. Pour cold water into the empty roasting tray at the bottom of the oven just before you shut the door – this creates steam which helps the loaf develop a crisp and shiny crust.
  • Bake the loaf for about 30 mins.
  • The loaf is cooked when it’s risen and golden. To check, take it out of the oven and tap it gently underneath – it should sound hollow. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.

I Quit Sugar

I did it! I quit sugar…the 31st August was the last time I ate it and I have to say I haven’t missed it greatly. I have always been a huge sugar fan and my excuse for eating so much of it was that I run regularly. It turns out that running will not prevent my teeth from rotting or my body from getting diabetes, so I thought before this happens it is time to make a change, put down the Percy Pigs, and take healthy living to a whole new level.
  
I started the first week organised and ready to go. I watched plenty of healthy eating programmes, to motivate myself, started following I Quit Sugar on Instagram and even made Sarah Wilson’s Banana Bread as my sugar substitute (I can’t say I liked this recipe and probably won’t make it again – but there are plenty of other sugar free alternatives that I am trying).

This new way of living means that I am avoiding naturally reoccurring sugars as well as refined sugar. No more bread, fruit or tomato based sauce and lots more cave-woman styled cooking. My days now look a lot like this:

Breakfast: Porridge Oats

Lunch: Avocado and chicken

Dinner: Chicken/Quorn and vegetables

As I move into my fourth week of living sugar free I am beginning to see the benefits of this new diet. My skin, which is normally spot prone and blotchy, has cleared up and I am finding that I have a lot more energy throughout the day. I will admit that I want to give up every time people offer biscuits and cakes around the office but I’ve stuck to it. I don’t know how I am going to cope as Christmas gets closer and stores start to bring out delicious chocolaty treats for the holiday, but hopefully a weekly post here will help me to stay motivated.

Have you changed your diet recently? Are you keen to go sugar free?

 

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The fashion bubble

I’ve been awful at posting recently because I’ve been so wrapped up in work. I work for a fashion brand and the summer was a really busy time with work events and launches. Excuses, excuses!  


The new season calls for me to be more organised and get back to posting. 

Here are a few updates since I last posted which explain my silence: 

  1. I moved house – my weekends have centered on me running around DIY stores rather than the park
  2. I got engaged – So I really need to start running around the park again!
  3. I went to NYC – it was a work trip (I love my job) but it has meant playing catch up and lots of extra work

I’m back now though with a new gym training regime and a wedding body to work on. Help! 

How to boost your energy…

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Do you feel like you are constantly running low on energy? It’s no great surprise that 60% of women claim to feel tired all the time. Unfortunately jobs, family and social lives often cannot be put on hold. Here are a few ways to give those energy slumps the boot:

  • Just a spoonful of…honey?

Porridge with berries and honey is a great way to give you sustained energy, as the honey delivers a quick lift just 5 minutes after consumption

  • Find your inner peace…

A short mediation session can help you to feel more with it. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing for as long as you can. A five minute session everyday with help you to feel more relaxed and energetic

  • Have a brew…

Switch your normal tea or coffee for a uplifting red ginseng the nutrients in ginseng help to increase your body`s ability to adapt to stress which can help you feel more motivated in even the most pressured situations

  • Indulge in chocolate (yes, chocolate!)

A little chocolate will help you to reboot your brain if you’re tired – but the darker the better. So take five and have a bite!

  • Time for a cherry shot…

I’m not suggesting that you indulge in a shot of cherry that is laced with vodka every time you have a night out. Research suggests that 30mls of (pure) cherry juice twice a week can help you to sleep better and for longer, so you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and ready to start the day. (You may not feel so fresh if you decide to opt for the vodka version).

  • And so to bath…

After a long, hard day unwind with a relaxing bath to bank plenty of energy for tomorrow. Add uplifting essential oils like lavender or May Chang with full-fat milk to your bath water for extra indulgence, and relax…

How to make the perfect smoothie

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Anyone who follows me on Instagram will know that I am a huge fan of smoothies and I try to have one a day. My favourite is a blend of raspberries, banana and blueberries as it acts as my sugar fix, but all of that sugar (even if it is natural) is not good every day. Here are the ingredients you need to create the perfect smoothie:

Cinnamon – this natural sweetener regulates blood-sugar levels and you only need ½ tsp.

Cucumber – a great source of potassium water that helps to lower blood pressure and reduce fluid retention. Add ½ a cucumber to your smoothie to refresh your drink.

Maca Powder – an immune boosting powder that is energising and also acts as a good hangover cure (just ½ tsp will do the job).

Raw Oats – a modern take on porridge. The oats help lower excess cholesterol and also prevent constipation. Add 1-2 tbsp to taste.

Lemon – add a dash of lemon to help preserve your smoothie and all of the good nutrients that you have added to it.

Coconut Water – a stress-relieving juice that is perfect for combating bloating and indigestion. Add 200ml to your smoothie mix.

Mixed Berries – In my opinion a cup full of mixed berries are a must-have for any smoothie. Opt for raspberries, blackberries or blueberries and your drink will be packed with antioxidants, beta-carotene and Vitamin C.

Healthy Snack Food

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Eight healthy snacks to get you through the day…

1. Popcorn with cayenne pepper. Cayenne pepper is great for
kick-starting your metabolism and digestion to help cleanse the body
so add a dash to your popcorn with cayenne pepper for a healthy snack.

2. Green smoothie. Blend a ripe banana, blueberries and one handful
each of spinach and kale for an antioxidant-rich smoothie that
cleanses your body and helps reduce inflammation.

3. Apples with almond butter. Apples are full of phytochemicals and
soluble fiber that aid digestion and detox the body. Pair them with
creamy almond butter for a dose of healthy fats to stabilize your
blood sugar.

4. Avocado with lemon and olive oil. Slice an avocado in half and
drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice, and chili pepper for a powerhouse
of cleansing ingredients. Avocados are rich in fiber and antioxidants,
while lemon and olive oil help with digestion.

5. Greek yogurt with berries. Add antioxidant-rich blueberries to
yogurt and top with cinnamon for a healthy protein and fiber-packed
detox snack.

6. Vegetarian Sushi. Create your own veggie sushi with your own
fillings (crunchy veggies, tofu, or slices of omelet) for a healthy
snack that has more than one of your 5 a day.

7. Salt and Vinegar Kale Chips. The perfect solution for when you want
to eat junk food but also feel good about your dietary choices.
They’re super easy to make at home—just toss chip-sized pieces of kale
with a bit of olive oil, and let them crisp up in the oven for 10 to
15 minutes.

8. Cinnamon Fruit that is cut into bite-size chunks, put them on
skewers, and cook them on the grill, basting with a mixture of
cinnamon and honey, until they’re golden brown. The results are
natural sugar highs instead of the highs and lows that you get from
sweets and chocolate.

Keep Track: The search for wearable tech

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More than 70 million wearable technology devices are expected to be in use by 2018. Wearable tech has come a long way with everything from sleep trackers to stress tracking!   The majority of wearing tech also has a supporting app to go with it so you can interpret your data.
Weight watchers and Fitbit have recently partnered to help you convert your ProPoints and a new app called Kiqplan will track your fitness and calorie intake to produce a 12 week plan that’s specific to you. Not bad for an app!
This could be my year for investing in wearable technology. I want something that will track all of my runs and also monitor my sleep patterns. If it could make me a balanced but delicious meal as well that would be perfect.
What’s the best activity tracker out there? Send me your suggestions so I can make the right investment this year…Garmin, Fitbug Org, Jawbone Up…which one does the best job?