Healthy Smoothies 3 ways

Since I have a big batch of granola to make good use of, I have been making smoothies this week. I post way more on Instagram than I do here, so if you like my pics and posts, I recommend you to follow me on IG to get a daily update and nutritional tip 😀

A smoothie bowl is one of those things that look awesome, tastes great and it is very easy to put together. It is also nutritious and quite low in fat (depending how you make it of course) and  high in protein.

I have made these three options but there are endless possibilities that we will get to explore in other posts!

  1. Acai Bowl: really the amount of acai is one tsp. The rest is made of frozen blueberries, strawberry protein powder and coconut milk. It is vegan (if pea protein is used) and I squeeze half a lemon in it too in order to bring out the flavour. The toppings are fig and dried rose buds.img_7024
  2. Strawberry Bowl: the protein here comes from the fat free greek yogurt. Mix 150gr of it with a cup of frozen strawberries, half a lemon again and a pinch of sweetener (i have used liquid sucralose) I find that liquid sweeteners work better for really cold mixtures. Blend in the food processor until smooth, with a dash of coconut milk. For the toppings, fresh blueberries, home made granola and raspberry sauce (for this I mix 2 cups of raspberries with one cup of water, lemon and sweetener and boil until smooth, I removed the peeps with a shifter)

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  1. Matcha Vanilla Protein Bowl. Mix 1 scoop of vanilla protein with one tsp of matcha green tea and blend. Top with blueberries and kiwi fruit and some more granola.

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Have a happy weekend!

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Mediterranean Summer Vegetables & Herbs

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This is one of those recipes that is classic, easy, delicious and uber healthy. Why is this? it is low in fat, it is made solely of fresh veggies. There is a similar version of it in most mediterranean countries, it is called ratatouille in France, Pisto in Spanish and Kapunata or Ciambotta in Italy, Shakshuka in the Middle East and Menemen in Turkey. Take your pick! The differences in these recipes are less than the similarities. They can incorporate potatoes or aubergines, be more or less spicy and the herbs utilised vary a bit depending on the region.

This is a traditional summer dish for a very simple reason, the ingredients used mature in summer! If you are lucky enough to ever have had a vegetable garden or have friends and family who do, you probably know that there is about a month, in which tomatoes, green beans and zucchinis come out of your ears. You will be stuck with way more zucchinis than you would possibly be able to eat in three months. When your vegetable garden is big and the amount of veggies is well… overwhelming, you have to find creative ways to preserve it and this was one of them in the past.

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The same way you can make fruit preserves, you can make preserves for vegetables, so this recipe was made in bulk and then set in jars to be consumed during winter, when there was scarcity of fresh ingredients.

In this case, since i do not have a vegetable garden, I have just made enough for a few portions that can be kept in the fridge or frozen if needed. The base recipe is just vegetables, but in most cases some protein is added to make the dish complete, so it is served as side dish to meats, fish or my favourite, with an egg. You can just crack the egg on top of it and let it poach in the hot vegetables, or fry it separately and add it later, like I have done in this case.

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It takes some cooking time to make this dish, but it is uncomplicated and pretty much anyone can master it, no problem.

Ingredients (serves 4)

2 zucchinis 

2 large onions

2 cloves of crushed fresh garlic

1 red bell pepper

800 gr. of ripe peeled and chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned)

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt & Pepper

Sucralose sweetener

Herbs & spices: fresh basil, ground coriander, ground cumin, ground ginger and fresh oregano

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Start by washing all the vegetables and peel the onions. Chop the onions in small quarters of less than 1cm. In a large bowl, heat up 1 tbsp of olive oil and cook the onions for a few minutes, while you cut the other vegetables. Straight after the onion, add the red pepper, the crushed garlic and sprinkle with salt. while it cooks, chop the zucchinis in small pieces and add to the pan too. After 3 to 5 more minutes, add the chopped tomatoes and the herbs together with the salt, pepper and sweetener to tamper the acidity of the tomatoes. Now how much of the herbs? only you can answer this, but it is very much a matter of personal taste. As a guidance, I would add a tsp of each one of them, a little more ground of the ground coriander and a little less of cumin, because it is quite overpowering in this dish.

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Let cook for about 1 hour, at low heat so it simmers slowly with a lid on and stirring every 10 minutes.

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Serve with fresh basil and an a fried egg for a low fat, low carb, high protein, super nutritious lunch or dinner. Happy weight loss!

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Figs, Pine Nuts & Goats Cheese salad

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Well.. what is there NOT to like about this combination? In case as me you were not a massive pine nut fan, all you need to do is toast them in a pan, and then try them warm, they are supper nutty and delicious. This is a very summery dish, that can also lead well into autumn due to the cheese and the fact that the best time for sweet juicy figs is actually September.

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Figs are often considered a fruit that is extremely high in sugar,  and they may not be dieting material if you are planning on eating a whole plate of them. On the other hand, they have a lot of fibre and aid digestion, protecting our stomach at the same time. On the back of this, figs are excellent laxatives and they are full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, helping your body slow the ageing process.

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Additionally they have been proven to control the blood sugar levels and figs and their leaves are recommended for people with diabetes for this reason. They are also very effective to help you expectorate when you have a cold or the flu, this is, they help get rid of the mucus in the respiratory track.

Add some protein into the mix and green leaves to increase the fibre and satiating power and you will have an awesome starter or a light dinner.IMG_6528

Ingredients (serves 2)

3 figs

60 gr. of goat’s cheese or vegan alternative

2 tbsp. of pine nuts (toasted)

Mix leaf salad

Olive oil & balsamic vinegar

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How to…

Choose a pretty serving dish. People will be more willing to eat your food if it looks beautiful. It is what it is… we eat with our eyes!

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Lay your mix salad leaves on it forming a bed. Chop your figs in quarters and lay them on top of the lettuce alternating the tops and bottoms like in the picture, it will not alter the flavour, but looks better 😉

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Crumble your goat’s cheese or vegan cheese with your fingers and distribute evenly over the figs, then top it up with the pine nuts. To toast the pine nuts, simple place them in a hot pan with no oil until brown, and move them around every now and then so they don’t burn. If you want the salad to be warm toast put your pine nuts when they are still hot.

Dress with one tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, and one of balsamic vinegar.

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Healthy Black Bean Vegan Burgers

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Recently I went through some documentaries that enforced previous notions of what is healthy eating and how to go about it. What i didn’t know, was the impact that those decisions make in the world we live in.

The vast majority of people turn their heads to the other side, not to see. They KNOW that reality that lies within, but they do not want to acknowledge is there, because if they do, they might feel bad about themselves. They might even want to change something, and changing habits is not easy.

I have spoken about it before in this blog, you can find a long article about veganism scrolling down the page if you are interested.

However it is not really about becoming vegan, it is about gaining awareness. Awareness over the fact that according to the UN, 53% of our CO2 emissions come from the meat industry (I mean all types of meat and dairy), that is way larger than the cars, planes and industries of these world. The impact on the planet of the excessive animal protein consumption is vile. As always, there are two sides to this coin, the economic development  of certain areas depends on cattle and related business so it is not about not eating meat. It is about making the meat you consume count.

Why not start by having a vegetarian/vegan day a week? Just give it a go! It is fun, it is easy and it will spark your cooking creativity. You don’t know where to start?? Here is where. Make note on today’s recipe and try it out next Monday for a good start of the week.

Also, in terms of health benefits, these way of eating tends to be cholesterol free and lower calorie/fat so it may even help you shred a few pounds.

About these burgers, I took the recipe from another blog and I have to say, it would probably benefit from a bit of egg white to hold it together since cooking them can be a bit messy, therefore the uneven shape of mine.

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Ingredients (makes 4 large patties)

250 gr. butternut squash

1 can of black beans washed and rinsed

1/2 an onion finely chopped

1 clove of garlic

1 tbsp of cumin

1 tbsp paprika

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup of oats

Veggies to accompany, I used broccoli stems, lettuce leafs, avocado, hummus.

How to…

In a pan, cook the chopped onion until transparent, then add the butternut squash cut in small cubes.

Let it cook until is soft and then add the beans and spices, rinsed and let the water evaporate as much as possible, this will make the patties drier and easier to work with.

With a food processor or a hand blender, mix all the ingredients and add the oats, this will give your mixture a lot more texture. Add more if required, you want the resulting mixture to be slightly firm.

Form the patties and cool in the freezer for 30 minutes.

You can cook them in the oven for 45 minutes, or in a non sticky pan for about 15. In the oven, they could melt and become a mess, so I would rather the pan, flipping them around a couple of times and bearing in mind they will expand and become bigger so they could invade each other’s personal space. If this is something burgers feel touchy about lol.

Another solution is too cook them with metallic rings around, like the ones that restaurants use to form vertical salads.

You can use these patties to make proper burgers or just eat them with veggies and some avocado as me, because I am a low carb-er. Your choice.

I promise you, no one would be asking for a steak if you serve these.

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Nutella Slim Nice Cream

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I love ice cream. It is my guilty pleasure, it is the one thing I cannot put down, i just cannot. My husband has to take it from my claw like hands and and look at my how-do-dare face when this happens and I have to fight against it, so simply give in every now and then, because let’s be honest, and life without ice cream, is just not worth living, in my opinion.

Recently I came across this vegan idea for making what has been called nice cream. I guess the nice part comes from the fact that is totally cruelty free, no animal products, nothing chemical… just full of goodness and truly delicious! I promise you it is. I couldn’t believe it myself but it is true.

So this is a very good alternative to the traditional gelato that is made with cream and sugar and you can make it in 3 minutes. I am compiling a series of flavours that work. So far I have mastered Peanut Butter and Nutella, but I have the feeling that the coffee caramel will be amazing too.

Sun is shining upon us today so why not give this a go?? Do you have a ripe banana? You have most of the work done then 😉

Ingredients (for one big portion or two smaller ones)

1 large ripe banana

1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1 small handful of hazelnuts

A pinch of sweetener

 

How to?

Peel and chop the banana in edible pieces and freeze for about an hour. Then put the frozen banana in a food processor with the hazelnuts and the cocoa powder and the sweetener and blend until you have a smooth deep chocolate colour paste. Serve with your choice of toppings. I tried no topping and some coconut flakes and sliced almonds, but with more time the sky is the limit.

This recipe is sugar free, unprocessed and raw and if you make sure you cocoa is gluten free, it is also gluten free, vegan very low in fat and fabulous.

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Food & Colours

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We all like to eat pretty. We are more willing to try new foods when those are presented to us in a nice way, we eat with our eyes. Colourful arrangements are more succesful than boring brown bowls of lentils, delicious as those may be!

The key to helping others or ourselves try and love new foods or make our meal times for enjoyable, is to find little tricks to make our food as attractive as possible. Think about eye candy since this works for everything in life, from beautiful people to expensie clothes… everything displayed nicely is desired, and costs more.

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I have been playing around with colours lately and this is my take on green, a colour that wouldnt necessarily make part of desserts until you get familiarized with Matcha, the japanese green tea that is packed with antioxidants and stimulants that is great to burn fat and minimise the effect of the free radicals.

So what about combining the great properties of matcha powdered tea with another superfood, the chia seed?? Well then we have a lovely dessert that is full of protein, fibre, good fats, antioxidants and fat burning properties.

In case you havent heard it before, matcha is not a tea as such, it is a vibrant green powder that is made with the green tea leaf in its entirety, that is why it has such powerful benefits compared to the infusion of the leaves.

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You can find this powder in any asian shop and also in most health food stores now a days, it is quite expensive but very little goes a long way. Just half a teaspoon is enough to make a full cup of it.

The recipe for this dessert, as simple as it gets is as follows:

Ingredients (4 small portions)

4 tbsp. Chia seeds

400 ml coconut milk

1 tsp vanilla essence

Sweetener

1 tsp matcha powder

Cherries or any other fresh berry to decorate

How to?

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients except the fruit, mix well with a whisk and let the chia seeds reach their full size (they absorb the liquid) until they take a loose pudding consistency.

Distribute in your ramekins or serving pots and when you serve, decorate with a cherry or berry. Very sweet, and healthy! Oh, and totally vegan so perfect for Meatless Monday!

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Meatless Monday & Breakfast

There is a subject that keeps coming up in conversation with friends, the decision of some people of going meatless and even further, with no animal products whatsoever in their diet and weather this is a good decision health/planet/happiness wise.

I wrote an extensive post on what i thought about it a while ago so I will go not into it again, I do think that there are many arguments to go both sides and the opinions are so diametrically opposed that it is very hard for one side to convince the other one.

There is a fact of life though that is non disputable and it is the excessive amount of meat and animal flesh that we consume nowadays in the western world, which due to extensive farming and some morally questionable actions has now become affordable for everyone and something that before was a more scarce consumption is now the norm.

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This has lead to some very serious health issues in our society and some even more serious issues for our planet. I know the idea of going vegetarian or vegan is for many an absolute deal breaker for many and i do not advocate for it myself, but i do firmly believe in reducing the consumption of meat to what it was when farming was sustaible, in a conscious effort to reduce the impact on the planet and on our health. That is the reason why i think that meatless Monday is a great idea!

Why??

  1. You start your week making a conscious effort to improve or innovate in the kitchen, making dishes that you would not normally make
  2. Thinking actually makes us aware, and when we are aware of our decisions and they are not the heat of the moment, they are better for us. Nobody actually thinks tomorrow for my Meatless Monday I am going to make myself something really unhealthy full of butter and cream.
  3. Sets you off to a good start! And when someone invests some time in themselves and in their health and wellbeing, they are more likely to stick to it for the rest of the week.
  4. Your diet becomes more varied. You can substitute meat with products that you wouldnt normally eat! Chick peas, quinoa, tofu, tempeh, you can make anything out of vegetable protein sources
  5. These foods are generally high in fibre and lower in fat and have no cholesterol so they are very good for you.
  6. The planet will smile. Hippie as it may sounds, you going one day a week without meat will decrease the demand, if we all did it, the demand would decrease and we would not have the need to destroy forests and crops to feed cows that are being mistreated in a high production farm. Yes my friends, not many cows live happily in the mountains and fields eating grass and then being used for meat, the vast majority of the meat we consume comes from farms that would you very sad if you would see them.

Dont know where to start?? No worries, I am here to help.

Breakfast: Cononut Vanilla Oat Bran with berry compote

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In a pan, bring 250 ml of coconut milk (unsweetened) to a boil and add 3 tablespoons of Oat Bran and a few drops of vanilla essence and sweetener to your taste. Put it in a bowl and sprinkle with raw cocoa powder, matcha tea powder, sliced almonds and some berry compote. I make my own by cooking frozen summer berries in 1/2 cup of water with the juice of half a lemon and adding sucralose at the end.

This is high in fibre and low burning energy and it is very sweet and delicious due to the coconut milk.

Lunch: a big bowl of salad, lettuce, spinach… with 1/2 a ripe avocado, 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa or lentils , spring onions, chopped tomato, and a tbsp of nuts on top (with no sugar or additives) penauts, walnuts, pine nuts… and dress with extra virgin olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice.

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Snack: a piece of toast with peanut butter, or an apple with peanut butter, or a piece of fruit with a glass of coconut or soy milk with unsweetened cocoa.

Dinner: butternut squash soup and salad with chick peas.

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It is actually not that difficult and it can do wonders for your good intentions! Let me know if you try it and how you get on!