Totally Healthy Brownies

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Chocolate comes from the Cocoa Tree which is original from Mexico. Legend has it that Quetzalcoatl gave it as a present to mankind and so its name means God’s Food in greek. It had enormous political, social and religious meaning all across Central America and it first came to Europe in the hands of the Spanish conquerors.

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Initially it was consumed mixed with cane sugar and a pinch of cinnamon, and it was a beverage. It remained a liquid pleasure until 1928 when cocoa butter started to be extracted and at the end of the XIX century the first pralines were born.

There is something warm and cosy in a cup of hot cocoa in a rainy day, this might be because it is sweet and delicious but also because cocoa has a good dose of fibre and micronutrients that produce a feeling of wellbeing.

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Brownies came later. Most people that enjoy a healthy dose of chocolate know that the darker the better and that it’s not the healthiest thing you can eat, so for all of us that love a bit of that nutty, utterly chocolaty flavour, here you have a healthy version.

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Gluten free, refined sugar free, Low GI and very low carb. Win win win win and vegan.

I hope you like it. Best served with a cup of tea.

 

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Ingredients (makes 9 brownies)

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil 
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 60 gr. unsweetened dark chocolate 
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 eggs or flax eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 espresso coffee
  • 10 walnut halves, crushed

How to…

In a pot, melt the oil, and the chocolate and add the cocoa powder. Then add the sugar, salt and the coffee. Let cool down for 5 minutes and then add the eggs and the rest of the ingredients and bake at 180C for 25 minutes.

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Mediterranean Hake

 

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If you live by the sea you will know what I am talking about. It’s a sound every child that grew up with the scent of sea salt in the nostrils can identify. It is a faint, almost fading eerie sound of bells that come from the sea at down. Some days are clear but where I come from, fog is generally the background setting for the fishermen that return to shore. It grows in intensity as the waves rock the small boats and the engines buzz their way into the port. It means fresh fish. It means tired men. Fishing is done at night, is then when hakes are catch. They live fifty meters under the surface of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and they are closely related to cods. They are long, thin, slippery predators that feed on lanternfish on the continental shelf. They eat, and they are eaten, the circle of life.

They have a subtle flavour, soft and flaky that makes is a commercially important species and the star of a myriad of traditional dishes in the old continent. Modern fishing techniques, on those giant boats that carry no bells, have polluted the water with anisakis making a parasite that was seldom found in the fish an everyday problem. You see, I recently discovered why, apparently fish are processed as they are caught and the byproduct of the cleaning of the fish, it’s thrown back to the sea, where other fish feed on it. Sounds as an intrinsically good idea, until you realise that we are spreading a disease that was naturally contained before in the fish and that actually causes severe allergic reactions on human beings, well done us. Again.

If you buy your fish at a decent fishmonger, they will be able to spot the parasite if it’s there and remove it, and it is totally safe to eat. It is a highly nutritious fish, low in fat and very good for children. It doesn’t have too many bones and it’s not too “fishy” (if you know what I mean).

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I have paired my hake today with fresh tomato relish with herbs (and no sugar) and some wholegrain couscous. The fish has been cooked in the microwave (steamed) and has a lemon rind, fresh basil and olive oil dressing. All those flavours are very Mediterranean and pair perfectly with one another. It can be made in advance and just heated up in the oven so it’s great if you have people over, pretty easy and fuss free. This recipe is gluten free and low GI which makes it appropriate for low carb diets and diabetic patients. Should you be vegan and not eat fish, tempeh is a great alternative for this recipe.

Ingredients (serves 2):

2 large ripe tomatoes

2 fillets of hake

60 gr. of gluten free couscous

1 bush fresh basil

Fresh Oregano (or dried if you cannot get hold of it)

1 lemon

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt & Pepper

How to…

Chop the tomatoes in small square pieces and cook them in 1/2 tsp. of olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper and the fresh herbs also chopped. Let the water evaporate until the it acquires the consistency of a sauce, tomatoes are very high in water and it could ruin your dish later on.

Prepare the couscous according to the packaging instructions, usually is twice the volume of water that the one of couscous, pinch of salt and a dollop of butter, you can use olive oil too instead. You can add some sultanas and some toasted pine nuts to the couscous to make it more a more substancial meal (for lunch instead of dinner for example).

Clean the hake fillets and wash them. To cook them in the microwave set them in a tray with 3 tbsp of water per fillet and cover them with transparent film. Cook at 800w for 2 minutes and check if they are ready. Be careful and don’t put them for too long the first time around because it is very easy to overcook fish in the microwave. You can always put more time on them if needed.

For the fish sauce: grate the lemon rind and put it in a mortar, add the fresh basil and mash with pestle. Add a pinch of salt, dash of lemon juice and then carefully mix in 2 tbsp. of good extra virgin olive oil. serve the dish as per the picture if you wish or get creative.

Bon appetit!

Protein Green tea Nice cream with Cacao Nibs

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I come from the best place in the world. It’s not (only) me who says this, we are very privileged, and i like to remind myself of that as often as possible. Being grateful is part of being happy. I was born in a misty coastal region in the most septentrional part of the Iberian peninsula, this place, never conquered, never surrendered is called the Basque Country.

Nested between mountains and green as an emerald, this land goes to die in the winding, rocky cliffs of the Atlantic Ocean. Not a turquoise, sky reflecting sea… a wild, severe and feisty one more like that was claimed the lifes of many fishermen and sailors through the centuries. It’s an ancient land, one were its people speak the oldest, most mysterious language in Europe, of unknown origins. A secret language catalogued by the UN as “the hardest language to learn in the world” followed by Mandarin.

It rains a lot, that is why it’s kept it so clean and beautiful and the reason why the land blesses the inhabitants with flavourful vegetable products. The ample cold waters of the sea provide some of the tastiest fishes in the world, our green pasture feeds excellent cattle and we serve our steaks over coal in pieces that are in excess of 1 kilo of weight.

Maybe that is where my love of food first come. It is difficult not to be a foodie in the Basque Country, and it is difficult not to be disappointed when you travel. From here, I want to invite you all to come and visit my beautiful, peaceful and fantastic part of the world, you wont regret it.

Today, I want to share a small snack recipe that can double up as a breakfast of post workout meal. It is made with green tea, since Japan is one of the few places that I have travelled to and felt that the food culture was equally respectful of the raw material as my own. Different yes, but similar in its perfectionism, and for that, here is my Matcha Nice cream with Vanilla protein. I hope you like it.

Ingredients (serves 2)

1 frozen chopped banana

1 scoop vanilla protein

1 tsp Matcha green tea

Dash of coconut milk

2 mini matcha choc chip cookies

Cacao nibs

Rose petals (dried)

How to…

In a blended, mix the banana, vanilla and matcha with a dash of coconut milk. Adjust the milk to your desired consistency, I wanted mine a bit firm so I put a little less.

Serve and adorne with japanese choc chip cookies, cacao nibs and rose petals.

Your children will love it, since it was cookies and everything is super healthy so win win! Have a lovely week peeps!

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Blue Protein Nice Cream

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I write. I have been writing since I was about 11, when I finished reading The Lord of the Rings. I have always had a thing for fantasy and sci fi and a while ago. I have decided that maybe it would be a good idea to share some tales with you.

So since the aim of this blog is to provide nutritional advice to acquire and maintain a healthy weight, but in a delicious way, sharing tales is not really something you would expect from me. However, I am asking for permission, to all of you. I wonder if you would mind me doing so? And if you don’t, I would like you to challenge me with themes!

Hit me with your best shot and I will do my best to make a short tale with it. Who knows, maybe together we will come up with something good.

For now, let me share with you this protein nice cream recipe, perfect for the coming summer months! Low in fat, slow burning carbs, vegan and high in protein. No added sugar or nasties, great to make for the kids, and for the not so young too 😉

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Ingredients (serves 2)

1 frozen banana

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

100 ml coconut milk

1 tsp. blue matcha

How to…

Mix the blue matcha in the coconut milk and let it sit for 5 minutes. Stir and filter to remove any solid residues. In a blender, mix the frozen banana, the blue milk and the vanilla protein. Mix well and place in a metallic container and back to the freezer for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, check the consistency and if the nice cream is firm, scoop out with an ice cream spoon and serve with frozen berries.

Easy and delicious!

Mango Parfait & Food Pics

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There are very few things that beat the sweetness of a ripe mango. When I was little and globalisation wasn’t yet a thing, we only got local fruit and veg in my region. I am from the north of Spain, so that means a really good assortment of citrus, berries, melons and watermelons, and pretty much anything that grows in my sunny land.

However things like mangoes, passion fruits and avocados where completely unknown, we didn’t even know how they looked like!

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My dad on the other hand had to travel to exotic destinations for work and he brought some of those things for us to try when I was about 6 or 7. I remember that the first time I tried a Mango, I thought it tasted like “pine tree”. I was very creative describing flavours but i didn’t have any other reference. Let’s just say I wasn’t a big fan at the time. Nowadays it’s one of my favourite fruits and I get very protective of a good ripe mango I have been keeping for a special moment.

These pictures are 3 different settings with 3 different light situations for the same parfait. The breakfast is made of a layer of home made granola, greek yogurt, raspberry coulis and Mango.

To make the raspberry coulis you have to boil 1 cup of frozen raspberries with 1/2 cup of water with the juice of 1/2 a lemon and some sweetener, I used sucralose in this case. Let simmer for 10 minutes and then use a ricer to remove the seeds. You can keep it in the fridge for up to 10 days and use as sauce for cheese, yogurts, cakes etc.

Lots of protein in this recipe, good sugars (very good pre or post workout) and fibre from the granola and the fruit.

About the photography, I just wanted to show you how much can a setting and the light change the look of a dish! Which one is your favourite??

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Fab & Healthy Rhubarb Crumble

 

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Crumbles are one of the easiest recipes to adapt to low carb and since they are mainly made of fruit, they respond very well to the change and you can barely tell the difference. In this case I have taken on the traditional rhubarb crumble and it has turned out delicious.

Can you believe that people in Spain have never heard of Rhubarb? A few years ago when I first tried to replicate this recipe, I struggled a lot to find it, I had to order it and it took a week to come. I started then to research why was that and apparently it is due to the fact that Spain has good weather and great soil. Ha!

According to my findings, rhubarb is a vegetable that grows in soils that are not great for other plants and they have enormous amounts of oxalic acid, which makes it potentially poisonous to humans, specially in summer and autumn when the concentration has become higher. Don’t worry though, the poison in the leaves, so as long as you stick to the stems, you should be fine.

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It is used in traditional Chinese medicine as a cure for constipation and it is also good for mouth sores although the acid content attacks the enamel so be careful with consuming it very often. Due to this content, it can block the iron absorption so bear that in mind when composing your menu, it may not be the best dessert for a lentil soup.

Made like this, the Rhubarb Crumble is Vegan, Gluten Free, Paleo friendly, low carb, has no added sugar and it is ok for diabetics. Perfect to have a sweet finish to your meal and super easy to make.

Ingredients (serves 4)

500 gr. rhubarb stems

1 tsp. ground ginger

2 tbsp. xylitol

For the crumble

80 gr. coconut oil or butter (if not vegan)

2 tbsp. coconut flour

1 tbsp. almond meal

1 tbsp. xylitol

How to…

Chop the rhubarb in 2 cm long pieces and heat up in a pan with the xylitol and the ginger until it is soft, about 8 minutes. Try for flavour, the rhubarb’s acidity varies and it could need more sweetener.

In a bowl, mix the oil/butter, coconut flour, almond meal and xylitol and work with your hands until you get a crumbly texture.

Distribute the rhubarb in 4 small ramekins, top with the crumble and place in the oven for 15 minutes at 160 degrees. Check that the tops of the crumble and nice and golden and take out when they look ready. The coconut flour takes longer to change colour so bear that in mind.

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Serve with soy cream or coconut yogurt mixed with cream (to lighten up consistency) on the side, or if not vegan, with normal cream or low fat yogurt mixed with milk. The sauce should be a bit liquid so you can pour it over the crumble while it’s warm, it gives a nice sweet and cold contrast.

Some people eat it with custard or vanilla ice cream so… take your pick!

I decorated mine with flowers from my garden and mint leaves.

Enjoy!