No time for breakfast…

smoothie with blueberries, banana and cereal

Are mornings a stress filled rush hour for you ??? Getting ready for work, school or uni, making lunches, feeding children, finding sports uniforms, feeding pets, hanging out washing … Things can feel pretty frantic. Not the best way to start the day.Your cortisol levels are naturally at their highest in the mornings so adding in a frantic schedule can cause a skyrocket of stress hormones.

You have two choices – streamline what you need to do or get up earlier. Either way you need to make time for breakfast. When you skip breakfast your body is literally running on empty and the effects can be hard and wide reaching.

As I said, cortisol levels are highest around 7am. When you eat breakfast your levels decrease and you can avoid that jittery, anxious, nervous feeling that often comes mid morning when you’ve not eaten.

You also need to eat to restore glycogen and level out blood sugars. This has a positive effect on your mood, hunger and helps avoid that ‘hangry’ feeling where your body is crying out for sustenance and making you irritable and cranky.

Regularly missing breakfast is also associated with increased risks of heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol and blood pressure and increases your risk of weight gain/obesity.

When you skip meals, especially breakfast, your body can go into famine mode and start trying to store energy. Eating breakfast helps you to avoid this and increases your metabolism throughout the day making weight management easier.

The best breakfasts include some protein, healthy carb and  fats e.g. eggs, avocado, oats, nut butters. If that all sounds like an impossible dream why not give a smoothie a go. Its ready in minutes, you can take it with you, it suits those people who don’t really feel all that hungry in the morning and, when made well, has all the things you need to power you through till lunch.

My current obsession is with Prana protein powders which are plant based and taste fantastic. For a super smoothie which provides you with fibre, carbs, good fats, hormone balancing effects, blood sugar modulation, antioxidant rich berries and is completely delicious give this one a go ….I sometimes can’t wait till morning so will have it for dinner too but that’s another story….

Ripe organic blueberry. prana

My favourite breakfast smoothie

1/2 frozen banana
lots of ice
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup water, add more as necessary to get the consistency you like
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 heaped tablespoon of vanilla creme or coconut Prana protein powder
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon maca and cacao powder

Place all of this in your blender, whiz it up and you’re good to go.

You can play around with the fruits and milks to find what you like best.

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The weather is warming up ….. Smoothie Time

smoothie with blueberries, banana and cereal. the toning. selective focus

Whether you are trying to get some extra nutrients into your diet, lose some weight or change up your breakfast routine you need to make smoothies your new best friend.

Quick to pull together, nutrient dense and so many variations that you’ll never be bored.
I swear by smoothies and have one almost every day. Lately I have been adding in some Just Greens or Just Reds powder for an extra boost and I am really noticing the difference. ( I don’t get paid to endorse these products – I just really like them )

MPVJR200G vital-just-greens-200gm-vpjg

For even more oomph try adding some omega 3 sources like a teaspoon of flax, walnut or chia oil. Spirulina is a great source of amino acids and iodine. Probiotics found in live yoghurts or available in powder form is great for gut health. Protein powders can also be a huge help, especially when recovering from exercise. Use a clean powder like rice, pea or pure whey powder.

Whenever I speak to people who tell me they are too busy to eat well I steer them towards smoothies. If you have some frozen fruit and a blender you are off and racing. You can easily adjust the calorie level to suit your health goals and its easy to add in ingredients that you may be needing at specific times. 

To make things even easier and more time efficient you could try making up some freezer smoothie bags. Put the ingredients in the blender with some water or milk and you have breakfast ready in under a minute.

smoothiefreezerbags

Here’s a few of my favourites …. Use frozen fruit where you can or add lots of ice. Add enough water and ice to these recipes to get the consistency you like. Mix it up – there’s no hard and fast rules here. Add what you like and get blending.

My favourite smoothie
1/3 cup each of frozen mango and berries
1/2 small frozen banana
1/4 cup unsweetened apple juice
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons Just Reds powder
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 big handfuls of greens – spinach, celery, parsley, kale

Chocolate almond smoothie – for when you feel like something a bit sweet
1 cup almond milk
2 tablespoons chocolate protein powder
3 medjool dates
Lots of ice

Creaky joints smoothie – great for arthritis or any type of joint pain
1 stick celery with leaves
Small handful of parsley
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 peeled orange
1 cup cubed pineapple ( frozen is good)
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

Liver Boosting Smoothie – great of you have been exercising a lot, taking medications, using alcohol, eating processed foods or too much fat
1 small beetroot
juice of a lemon
big handful of kale
1/2 cucumber
1 orange

Digestive Help Smoothie – for IBS type symptoms
1 cup honeydew melon
1/2 cucumber
1/2 cup plain yoghurt with live cultures
1 teaspoon psyllium husks
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 teaspoons honey

Stomach Settler – for an upset tummy
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 avocado
1 teaspoon chia seed
2 teaspoons honey
fresh mint

Lean muscle building smoothie – great for after the gym
1 orange
1 frozen banana
1 teaspoon chia seeds
2 teaspoons spiralling or Just Greens powder
1 cup water or coconut water
2 tablespoons clean protein powder

Recovery smoothie – replenishes after exercising and promotes recovery and muscle repair
1 banana
1 cup almond or rice milk
1/2 coconut water or water
2 tablespoons clean protein powder
1 teaspoon each of flax seeds, chia seeds and LSA
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon nut butter

Mega Green smoothie – so many minerals, anti-oxidants, immune boosters and liver supporters to keep you feeling great
1½ cups water
10 spinach leaves
5 kale leaves, stalk removed
3 celery stalks with leaves
1  apple, cored and chopped
1  pear, cored and chopped
1  banana frozen
Juice of ½  lemon
1/2 avocado
big handful of parsley

Blended green smoothie with ingredients on wooden table

Spanish Omelette – dinner in under 30 minutes

spanish-omlette-4-800x535

Need a quick go-to dish that will have dinner on the table in under half an hour ? Maybe looking for a Sunday morning breakfast recipe or a lunch box alternative to sandwiches ?

Here it is – Spanish Omelette – full of crispy potatoes, sweet onions, garlic and fresh eggs – YUM.
Traditionally, the potato would be cut into slices and roasted with the onion and garlic before being added to the eggs. In order to speed things up I have altered the recipe but the results are still just as yummy.

Spanish Omelette 

3 large potatoes or sweet potato
1 large Spanish (red) onion
2 cloves garlic
olive oil
6 eggs
1/4 cup milk
salt and pepper
a good handful of parsley
a few sprigs of thyme (optional)

Method :
Heat a heavy based frypan and add a good splash of olive oil.
Cut potato into small cubes of about 1cm. Slice onions and garlic thinly.
Place potato in hot oil and fry for a few minutes until they start to soften. Add onion and keep cooking over medium heat until soft. When onions are soft and potato is crispy add garlic and cook for a minute or two. You don’t want to add the garlic too soon or it will burn and become bitter.
In a bowl whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper and herbs. Pour into frypan over potato and onions. Cook over a gentle heat for about 5-10 minutes checking regularly to make sure its not burning on the bottom. Once most of the egg has set you can either flip the omelette or, if you have an ovenproof pan, you can place in oven or under the grill to finish cooking the top.

Serve with a good grating of sharp cheese, a big salad and some avocado. This also goes well with a dollop of chutney or relish.

Jam that you can eat to your hearts content …

jam

I love this stuff ! I love it on toast, in a smoothie or straight off the spoon.

Forget about supermarket jam whose first ingredient is usually sugar. Most commercial, and even home made jams, have a ratio of one or two parts sugar to one part fruit – YUCK.  That equates to as much as 7 teaspoons of sugar per serve.

This clever jam has very little sweetener and relies on the fruit for its flavour. It has the added benefit of healthy omega 3’s from the chia and antioxidants from the berries. It takes about 15 minutes to make so give it a try.

Super Chia Jam 

3 cups berries – blueberries, strawberries, raspberries or a mix. You can use fresh or frozen.
3-4 tablespoons of maple syrup or honey
2-3 tablespoons of chia seeds – Use 3 tablespoons if you like a firmer set to your jam
1 teaspoon vanilla

Place berries and sweetener in a saucepan and allow to simmer gently for about 5 minutes. Lightly crush with a spoon. Stir in chia and keep cooking gently for 10 – 15 minutes. You will need to stir it regularly during this time. Take off heat and stir in vanilla.

Pour into clean, sterilised jar and keep in fridge.

Sunday Brunch Hippy Pancakes

pancake sunday

No need to feel guilty about Sunday splurges when you try these. So yummy, so good for you. Full of chia, almonds, cinnamon and flax seed meal these pancakes tick all the boxes for essential fatty acids, blood sugar control, fibre and taste.

Team them up with some fresh or poached fruit and coconut yogurt for Sunday morning heaven.

Sunday Brunch Hippy Pancakes

3/4 cup plain flour
3/4 cup wholemeal plain flour
3 heaped teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons raw sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 heaped tablespoons linseed (flax seed) meal
2 heaped tablespoons of almond meal or crushed almonds
1 heaped tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon (yes tablespoon) cinnamon
1 cup milk – I like soy or almond for this recipe
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons rice bran oil
i teaspoon vanilla

In a bowl mix together milk, water, vanilla, oil and apple cider vinegar and whisk like crazy for a minute or so until fluffy.

In a separate large bowl mix together flours, baking powder, sugar, salt, chia, almonds, linseed meal and cinnamon. Whisk to combine well and make sure there are no lumps.

Add wet mixture to dry and stir till well mixed. leave to stand for 10 minutes.
I use coconut oil to grease frypan for health and because it tastes great but you can use butter if you prefer.
Fry in batches turning when bubbles appear on top of pancakes.

Makes about 20 good sized pancakes.

Make your own nut butters for a quarter of the price ….

a butter

 

If you are like us and love nut butters but don’t like the price tag read on ….

I just checked a supermarket website and found that nut butters (almond, cashew, brazil etc) are now selling for about $8.00 for 250grams. Crazy and unaffordable for most people.

We love to use nut butters. We spread them on toast, use them as toppings for muffins, spread them on slices of apple for a snack  but at $8.00 a jar I sometimes cringe at the cost despite how good they are for you.

So what’s the answer ???? Make your own of course !

I made an experimental batch yesterday and it tastes so much better than the shop version and it cost about a quarter of the price.

I bought a kilo bag of raw almonds for $9.00 and this was enough for four jars. You can, of course, mix up any kind of nuts you like. It’s a great way to use up all those leftover little bits of nuts in your fridge/pantry.

HOW TO …

Spread the almonds ( or whatever nuts you are using ) in a single layer on a baking tray and roast in a moderate oven for about 10-15 minutes.

Keep an eye on them because nuts are high in oils so quick to burn.

Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Place in a food processor and whiz until smoothish (or your desired consistency)

While the food processor is running add a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil to get the spreadability you like.

If you are feeling adventurous you can add other flavourings like maple syrup, cinnamon or vanilla.

Decant into clean glass jars.

THAT”S IT !

Four jars of almond butter for under $10.

Feel like something sweet ? Don’t want to eat biscuits ? …. read on

blue dish

 

Since losing a bit of weight and running a wellness/weight loss course I have found I am asked time and again about ways to top up between meals that aren’t going to take you off track from your goals – it may be weight loss or just finding a healthier way to eat.  If weight loss is your aim then snacking is not going to help you but some days you are using more energy or are simply more hungry than others and you might just need something to get you through. That’s ok, just go with it. I can honestly say that I have had this for every meal at some stage … it keeps you full and feels like you are eating pudding at any time of the day !

This recipe for apple and oat slice ticks all the boxes. You can have it for breakfast with some fruit or yoghurt, on it’s own for a mid morning or afternoon snack or for a little bit of something sweet after dinner. Kids will love it in lunch boxes and it is the perfect thing to grab to eat on the go when time is at a premium and you don’t want to fall prey to the temptations of nasty fast food.

Filled with oats, fruit and spices you are going to want to have this time and again. This recipe is vegan, gluten free (if you are coeliac or gluten intolerant make sure your oats are gluten free), contains no oil but has lots of good fatty acids from the nuts and flax seeds, very little sugar and lots of fibre and flavour.

This recipe is very adaptable so use what you like – try different nuts or fruits. Add some cranberries or other spices. Use what’s in season and what tastes good to you.  If you don’t have flax seeds in your fridge ( and you should !) you can substitute in an egg.

Baked Apple Walnut Oatmeal

 

Oat and Apple Slice

3 tablespoons of flax seeds
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
2 teaspoons each of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 apples, diced – you can also use pear, I like a mix of both – I have used a grated carrot with good results too
2 cups of almond milk (or any other milk you like)
1/2 cup of apple sauce
1-2 tablespoons of maple syrup or honey to taste – if your fruit is sweet you won’t even need this
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup nuts – almonds, walnuts or pecans work best

Method

Place flax seeds in a small bowl with 1/3 cup of warm water and allow to stand for a few minutes.

In a large bowl mix together oats, spices, baking powder and sugar. Make a well and  pour in the milk, apple sauce, flax seeds, maple syrup and vanilla. Stir to combine.

Fold in your diced fruit and pour into a baking tray. The mixture should be quite wet. Smooth the mixture in the pan and sprinkle over the nuts.

Bake in a moderate oven (180 degrees) for about an hour until the middle is cooked.

Voila !

 

 

Home made baked beans …One recipe … Lots of options

 

 

 

Last weekend I went to a friendly little cafe in Dulwich Hill for breakfast with a couple of my favourite people. On the menu were some house made baked beans and I got to try them – yummo. Nothing like those nasty radioactive looking things from a tin, these beans were soft and tasty – a little bit sweet and a little bit spicy. Don’t get me started on the dirty chai – a mix of soy milk, decaf coffee and chai spices which sounds awful but tasted like heaven….. 

I got to thinking about what an underrated meal this is. Have them for breakfast with toast, lunch in a sandwich or with some salad, dinner gets easy with burrito filling, baked potato topping, with some brown rice and herbs or just a warm bowl full with melty cheese or sour cream/cashew cream and some fresh greens. Kids love them and they are a great way to get some extra fibre and nutrients into your diet in a really easy way. 

This version has a nice spicy kick thanks to the paprika so you may want to omit this for little ones… 

NaturoCath Baked Beans 

Olive oil
1 large spanish onion
1-2 cloves garlic
2 x 400g cans kidney or cannelini beans
1 x 400g can brown lentils
800g can of diced tomatoes or bottled passata 
1 heaped tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
I x 10cm sprig rosemary
juice of 1/2 lime or lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Finely slice the onion and cook in olive oil till soft and transparent. Add mined garlic and cook for a further minute. 
Add all other ingredients and let simmer for about 30-40 minutes till it’s a lovely sticky mess of tastiness. 

Yep, that’s it. Easy peasy !

 

Getting it right for breakfast – homemade muesli recipe

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There are lots of reasons why you shouldn’t skip breakfast. Not least of which is because it’s yummy and really is the easiest meal of the day to prepare. If you think you don’t have time for breakfast then get up 10 minutes earlier. This may be one of the simplest and most health inducing things you can do for yourself today.

Breakfast is important, especially for kids who need adequate energy to fuel brain function and growth. Having said that, us big people need to be looking after ourselves too.

Eating breakfast :

* helps brain function, memory and cognition.

* helps you avoid the 10am sugar low when you get so hungry that you fill up on coffee and biscuits or anything you can find while battling a cranky mood and headache,

* You are more likely to maintain a healthy weight when you are a regular breakfast eater – you are less likely to snack and it also increases your metabolism.

Avoid like the plague anything which calls itself a breakfast cereal but is primary coloured ! Fruit Loops, Coco Pops etc are the scourge of the world and will do you no good. Please don’t give them to your children – it’s like having lollies for breakfast.  Things like pastries which are high in fat and low in anything of much good to you are to be avoided. Meats, particularly processed ones like bacon, are a no-no offering little in the way of nutrition and giving you lots of nasties like saturated fats and nitrites which are known carcinogens – and I’m sure the animals aren’t too happy about it either.  I am constantly dismayed by the queue at the McDonald’s drive through – McDonalds for breakfast ?- you may as well just sign up your funeral plan now.

Look for cereals which are wholegrain, low in saturated fat, salt, sugar and calories. Aim for fibre, and protein with things like dairy or soy products, nut butters, eggs, wholegrain cereals and breads, fruit and veges.

Breakfast ideas can be simple and wholesome and prepared in minutes – eggs on toast, juice smoothies with yoghurt, yoghurt and fruit, toast or fruit loaf with ricotta and fruit, porridge with grated apple and some nuts or try my MAGIC HOMEMADE MUESLI.

I made a big batch of this muesli today. It took me 2 minutes to throw it all together and 10 minutes or so in the oven. Voila ! Muesli for weeks to come which is yummy and has all the things you need and nothing that you don’t. Try it with some yummy vanilla yoghurt and fruit – poached strawberries or rhubarb is about as fabulous as it gets. Treat yourself to something great …this wheat and dairy free version is bound to become a favourite and who doesn’t feel virtuous eating homemade muesli ???

MAGIC HOMEMADE MUESLI

500g shredded coconut
300g pepitas
200g sunflower seeds
130g pecan pieces
125g walnut pieces
125g flaked almonds
500g rice bran cereal
170g dried cranberries or other dried fruit of your choice
40g melted butter or dairy free spread
3 tablespoons honey

Melt butter and honey together.
Mix all other ingredients except cranberries in a big bowl and add honey/butter mix. Stir well to combine and place on baking trays. Bake in oven till golden, stirring a few times to make sure everything gets evenly toasted.

Add cranberries and allow to cool before storing in airtight containers.

This does make lots so feel free to halve or quarter quantities according to your needs.

Pancakes for everyone – great for vegans, egg or dairy allergy or if you have run out of eggs !

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I recently stumbled upon a website called The Post Punk Kitchen. Any recipes from a site with a moniker like that has to be good in my books.. http://www.theppk.com…

It’s mostly vegan recipes and I found it because I was looking for an egg and dairy free pancake recipe for my Zoe. Now before you think ‘Yuck” I emplore you to keep an open mind. I have modified it just a bit but it’s basically the same.

I’m not much of pancake girl but these little beauties have turned me. They are light, fluffy and way yummy so if you are thinking of using less or no animal products, have allergies or intolerances or if you have just run out of eggs why not give them a go.

1 1/2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons of sugar or stevia
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup of milk of your choice – soy, rice, almond
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

In a separate bowl mix together milk and cider vinegar and whisk for a minute or so until fluffy. Add water, oil and vanilla to the milk mix and quickly and gently mix through the dry ingredients.

Leave to stand for 10 minutes. Fry big spoonfuls of mix for about 3 minutes then flip when bubbles appear.

Makes about 10 pancakes.