Saturday, 19 December 2015

Christmas Pud Porridge

I absolutely love Christmas. It's such a chill time of the year (once exams are done, oh yeahhh) as it means catching up with family/friends, eating lots of yummy food and a generally enjoying a well-deserved break. However, I can often feel a bit groggy from indulging the night before, that I crave something yummy yet nourishing for breakfast - that still obviously has a load of festive cheer! This is when the Christmas Pud Porridge comes into play. It ticks all the boxes providing the body with exactly what it needs, restoring much-needed energy levels, all powered by oats and naturally sweet goodness. I adore the smells which Christmas brings, and the way the entire house fills up with the incredible scent of cinnamon. Cooking up a bowl of this on a crisp, cold morning does just that, and makes everywhere smell amazing. Why can't it be Christmas everyday?!

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you all enjoy the holidays. May they be filled with lotsa joy, fun and deliciousness. I can not wait and I hope you're feeling the same too!
Lots of Love xx

200ml Water
50g Porridge Oats
50ml Milk (whatever you prefer; cow/almond/oat etc.)
2 Medjool Dates
1 tablespoon of Lemon or Orange Juice
1 teaspoon of Maple Syrup
1 teaspoon of Almond Butter
1 teaspoon of Coconut Oil
1/2 teaspoon of Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
Optional: 1/8 teaspoon of Ginger powder
Pinch of Salt

  1. Bring to boil water, milk, oats and pinch of salt, in a saucepan. Simmer for 3-5 minutes, stirring the mixture to ensure none gets stuck on the bottom of the pan.
  2. Reduce heat, then add in almond butter and coconut oil, stirring to make sure they are well melted.
  3. Pit and chop the dates, adding them to the porridge, along with the other ingredients.
  4. Stir altogether and transfer into a bowl. Top with dried cranberries if you'd like.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Chilli con Carne (with all the trimmings)

An absolute student classic. This chilli really doesn't need a fancy intro. The dish speaks for itself and is oh-so-good. Packed with good-quality beef mince, veggies and a few deliciously surprising store-cupboard seasonings, piled high with extras, this makes for the ultimate winter warmer. P.S. the trimmings are a must! 

Chilli con Carne

Serves 4

500g of Beef Mince
400g of Chopped Tomatoes
400g of Kidney Beans
300ml of Beef Stock
2 Carrots, grated
2 Garlic Cloves
2 tablespoons of Tomato Puree
1 Brown Onion, chopped
1 Red, Yellow or Green Pepper, chopped
1 cm of Dark Chocolate
1 tablespoon of Butter
1 tablespoon of Paprika
1 tablespoon of Chili Powder
1 teaspoon of Instant Coffee
1 teaspoon of Cumin
1 teaspoon of Oregano

  1. Heat a large saucepan, ensuring it’s hot, add in butter and allow it to melt.
  2. Once melted, add in chopped onions and fry on a high-heat for 3 minutes, until slightly translucent.
  3. Stir in chopped pepper and garlic. Fry for 2 more minutes.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium, adding in paprika, chili powder and cumin. Fry for 30 seconds.
  5. Add the mince and return the heat to high. Ensure that it is evenly cooked and browned for at least 5 minutes.
  6. Next, add in beef stock, oregano, tomato puree, chopped tomatoes, dark chocolate and coffee. Stir and allow it to boil.
  7. Reduce heat to medium, placing on the lid of the saucepan, and allowing the mixture to simmer for 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it, giving the contents a stir every now and then. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Drain and rinse the beans. Remove the lid and add them to the chilli. Cook for a further 10 minutes.
  9. Remove saucepan from the heat once cooked and leave to stand for 5 minutes before serving. This will allow flavours to mingle. Better still, reheated leftovers the next day, will guarantee the ultimate taste-bud party.
  10. Serve with brown rice, sour cream, guacamole, squeeze of lime juice, sprinkle of cheddar cheese and chopped coriander. 

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Apple and Blackberry Crumble

Apple and Blackberry Crumble

4 ramekin dishes (or a small casserole dish)

100g of Blackberries
2 Red Apples
4 tablespoons of Maple Syrup
1 tablespoon of Vanilla Extract
60ml of Water
1/4 teaspoon of Cinnamon
2 tablespoons of Lemon Jucie
Pinch of Salt

60g of Pecans
120g of Rolled Oats
4 tablespoons of milled Linseed or Flaxseed
60g of Salted Butter
2 tablespoons of Honey

  1. Preheat oven to 180oC and remove butter from the fridge, allowing it to reach room temperature.
  2. For the filling, peel and core apples. Cut into chunks and toss into a bowl with the lemon juice.
  3. Wash and add blackberries in with the apples, along with all the other filling ingredients.
  4. Mix together then place into a saucepan, allowing to simmer on low-medium heat, for 10 minutes.
  5. For the topping, in a food processor, roughly blend pecans and oats. Ensure not to mill them into a flour-like consistency. Think more small chunks, which will allow a lovely crunchy finish, once baked.
  6. Then add in butter, linseed/flaxseed and honey. Whiz together in the food processor for a few second intervals until until blended together with the oats and pecans.
  7. Once the fruit has cooked and softened in the saucepan, transfer into ramekin pots, topping them with the oat crumble mixture.
  8. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes until golden on top. 
  9. Serve with greek yoghurt or, believe me, they're flavoursome enough to eat just on they're own.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Thai Curry Squash Soup

Autumn equals soup. Soup equals Autumn. You get the idea; soup is a staple during the colder months. This warming bowl of loveliness is perfect because it's silky smooth, but yet has quite the spicy edge. Perfect if you have the sniffles and want a big hit of flavour. It's also pretty great if you're perfectly healthy and well. Either way, everyone knows that wholesome soup is good for the body, as well as the soul. 

Thai Curry Squash Soup

Serves 4

1/2 Large Squash
250g of Carrots
1 Brown Onion
1 tablespoon of Butter
1.2 litres of Vegetable Stock
1 teaspoon of Ground Coriander
2-3 tablespoons of Thai Red Curry Paste (depending on heat level preferred) 
Salt and pepper to season

  1. Boil kettle to have hot water for the stock.
  2. Chop onions and fry with butter, in a large saucepan for 5 minutes.
  3. Peel and chop, both squash and carrots, into bite-size chunks.
  4. Add coriander to sauce pan and fry for 30 seconds.
  5. Reduce to medium heat, add chopped vegetables and stock.
  6. Allow mixture to cook for 20 minutes.
  7. Once the vegetables have cooked and softened, stir in curry paste and ensure it's well mixed through.
  8. Blend the soup together until the entire mixture is smooth.
  9. Heat up the soup so that it is hot enough for serving.
Optional: Top with cooked quinoa, chopped spinach, natural yoghurt and pumpkin seeds (as pictured below) for a well-balanced dose of protein, as well as vitamin and minerals. 

Monday, 2 November 2015

Apple and Plum Compote

Nothing beats sweet autumnal fruit; pears, figs, blackberries, plums and apples, especially when stewed. With a little heat, the fruit's natural sugars break apart and soften, to become a deliciously sticky compote. Perfectly teamed with Greek yoghurt and granola, or spooned unto a bowl of creamy oats. For this recipe, apples and plums do the trick for brightening up cold, dull mornings. Although, feel free to experiment with other seasonal fruits. 

Apple and Plum Compote

1 Red Eating Apple
2 Plums
1 teaspoon of Vanilla Essence
1 teaspoon of Honey 
120ml of Boiling Water
  1. Peel and core apple. Chop into bite size chunks, as well as the plums.
  2. Place the fruit pieces in a saucepan. Add boiling water and simmer over medium-heat for 15 minutes until softened.
  3. Stir in vanilla and honey once cooked.
  4. Eat straight away, or can be stored in an airtight container, and stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Moroccan Spiced Lamb Meatballs with Lemon Couscous

Now that the weather's turning that little bit chiller, warm and comforting meals are most definitely on the menu. Autumnal foods to me are typically a delicious mixture of ingredients, sautéed or stewed together, which are also seasoned and delicately spiced to perfection. As well as a possible dash of nostalgia. This time of year the term "comfort food" is coined. We look forward to meals that will give our tummies a massive hug; the perfect antidote to a long day of university/work.

Lamb sadly isn't the most popular choice of meat to cook within the UK. Especially amongst students. I personally feel it's because we don't really know what to do with it! However I hope this recipe helps solve our lamb confusion, as it truly is such a tasty choice of meat, and we should aim to cook with it a little more. Red meats are great eaten once a week, as they are a good source of protein, iron and vitamin B12. So why not try substituting lamb for your usual beef or pork in a meal? I believe the secret to cooking the ultimate lamb dish is: seasonings. Lamb needs a little help from either spices or herbs to really transform it into an absolute winner. I personally love harissa paste for an exotic twist, however the classics such as rosemary or mint, also match lamb sensationally. 

Moroccan Spiced Lamb Meatballs with Lemon Couscous

Makes 16 meatballs / Serves 4

500g of Lamb Mince
1 Egg
1 heaped teaspoon of Ground Cumin
1/2 teaspoon of Salt 
1/4 teaspoon of Pepper
Plain flour, for rolling meatballs in

(Harissa Tomato Sauce)
1 tin of Canned Tomatoes
1 Brown Onion
500ml of Stock
1 tablespoon of Harissa Paste
1 tablespoon of Butter
1 clove of Garlic, crushed
(Optional:1/2 teaspoon of Chilli Powder, if you'd like extra heat) 

300g of Couscous
350ml Boiling Water
2 tablespoons of Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to season
 1/2 Lemon, juiced

Serve: As well as with a dollop of natural yoghurt or sour cream, toasted flaked almonds and dried fruit such as chopped dried apricots or sultanas, if desired. 

1.   Preheat the oven to 220oC.
2.   Mix mince, beaten egg, cumin, salt and pepper in a bowl.
3.   Form meatballs, using a tablespoon to help with portioning, and then roll them in flour. 
4.   Place meatballs on a baking tray and cook for 10 minutes.
5.  Next, make the harissa spiced tomato sauce. Chop the onion into fine pieces and fry in a saucepan, along with the butter and garlic for 3 minutes on high-heat, or until onions have turned golden brown.
6.  Turn down heat to medium, and then stir in the harissa paste, as well as the chilli powder. Cook alongside onion mixture for 30 seconds to allow the spices to infuse. 
7.   Add in chopped tomatoes and stock. Simmer on medium-heat for 15 minutes.
8.  Lift the meatballs out of the oven and turn to ensure that they are evenly cooked. Place back in the oven for another 5 minutes. (Be careful of hot fat which will have leaked from the meat!)
9.  Take the meatballs back out of the oven once cooked. Place some kitchen roll on a dinner plate and transfer meatballs unto it, using tongs. The kitchen roll will absorb any of the excess fat.
10. Place couscous in a bowl with salt and pepper to season. Cover completely with boiling water. Cover tightly with cling film and allow the couscous to sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed. 
11. Remove the cling film and fluff the grains with a fork. Squeeze over lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. 
12. Place meatballs in the simmering sauce and cook for another 5 minutes to heat. This will also make sure that all the flavours are well combined, and that the meat absorbs the harissa spices. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
13. Remove from the heat. Serve with any of the following accompaniments suggested above.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Raw Caramel Sqaures

I AM PROUD TO ANNOUNCE AND PROVIDE THE RECIPE FOR THE MOST DELICIOUS, GOOD FOR YOU, SWEET TREAT EVER! Ok, I can't prove if it is the best in the history of ever....but they are pretty amazing. I'm actually so happy how these little bad boys turned out. I think they're the best naturally sweetened dessert/snack I've made yet. 

My sister and I are massive fans of caramel squares. For example, we know where does the best when we're both back home in Northern Ireland, and if we are in that area, there is no excuse for us not to get a caramel square from there. We also could discuss for a considerable amount of time the ideal ratio or caramel to biscuit to chocolate. Crazy?...we'd like to think we're just big fans. However a normal caramel square is usually pretty high on the old sugar and saturated fat levels. It definitely is reserved for a "treat yo self" day. However, I personally would like to enjoy caramel squares nearly everyday, thank you very much. So I came up with the idea of making a healthier, raw alternative, so my caramel-laden dreams could come true. After a while of experimenting in the kitchen and creating this recipe...I've got to say, I personally think these taste even better than the original version! 

There are three perfect layers, all naturally sweetened and made with coconut oil. The original recipe has quite a lot of butter to create the shortbread layer, however in this recipe, only a little fat is actually needed. Coconut oil is still a saturated fat but it definitely tastes better in raw desserts than butter. So coconut oil it is then! However, these caramel squares don't need that much saturated fat to bind the "shortbread" layer together, as there are chia seeds added. These swell and act as a binding agent when water is added to them. Yay!

Then unto the caramel layer...made out of pitted medjool dates, simmered and blended together to form a sticky paste. It is my favourite part! I could eat the mixture with a spoon, no problemo. You won't find any refined sugar here. Only the sweetness of the dates, maple syrup and vanilla extract.

Finally, the chocolatey layer is made from raw cacao powder, which is a powerful anti-oxidant. You know when you hear studies prove that chocolate is good for you? Scientists aren't talking about a bar of Dairy Milk, but this stuff right here. Pure chocolate in it's raw form. So not only is this the yummiest sweet treat but it is also good for you. Yessss!

Raw Caramel Squares

Makes 12 pieces

(Shortbread Layer)
120g Rolled Oats
120g Ground Almonds
4 tablespoons of Maple Syrup
4 tablespoons of Warm Water
2 tablespoons of Coconut Oil
2 tablespoons of Chia Seeds
Pinch of Salt

(Caramel Layer)
250g of Pitted Medjool Dates
100ml of Warm Water (+ 2 tablespoons for during blending)
2 tablespoons of Maple Syrup
1 tablespoon of Vanilla Extract
1 tablespoon of Coconut Oil
Pinch of Salt

(Chocolate Layer)
6 tablespoons of Coconut Oil
5 tablespoons of Maple Syrup
5 tablespoons of Cacao Powder
Pinch of Salt

  1. Firstly, make the shortbread layer. Add all the shortbread ingredients into a food processor, and blend together, until a flour-like consistency forms. 
  2. Line a rectangular or square baking tin with greaseproof paper.
  3. Fold in shortbread mixture and pat down using a fork until a sturdy layer forms. Place in freezer whilst you make the other layers so the shortbread firms up.
  4. Then make the caramel layer by simmering the dates, over medium-heat, in a saucepan with boiling water for 5 minutes.
  5. Remove the dates from the heat and allow to cool.
  6. Then add in the other caramel ingredients into the food processor, along with the cooled dates and 2 tablespoons of water. Whiz together the ingredients until a thick caramel-like paste forms. 
  7. Remove shortbread base from the freezer and smooth the caramel paste on top. Place the baking tin back into the freezer.
  8. To make the chocolate layer, gently heat coconut oil and maple syrup in a saucepan for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and add in cacao powder and salt. Stir together until smooth consistency.
  9. Take the shortbread and caramel layers out of the freezer. Pour on chocolate mix and smooth out on top of the caramel layer. 
  10. Finish by sprinkling over a little salt on top of the chocolate layer, and place back into the freezer for 4 hours, or overnight. 
  11. Remove from the freezer and slice into squares. Allow to defrost before eating, and enjoy!

Monday, 7 September 2015

Spicy Paprika and Cumin Hummus

I'm going to keep this short and sweet. Hummus is amazing. It needs no bigging up or gimmicky intro. A creamy blend of chickpeas and spices, make this the ultimate (and cost-effectice) protein source out there. Hummus also takes hardly any time to make. Once you've rustled up a jar, and refrigerated the delicious goodness, you'll most likely find yourself being tempted to eat it straight with a spoon. 

Spicy Paprika and Cumin Hummus

Makes 1 medium sized jar

400g Chickpeas, canned
5 tbsp of Olive Oil
5 tbsp of Water
1 Lemon, juiced
1 tbsp of Tahini
1 clove of Garlic, crushed
1 tsp of Cumin
1 tsp of Paprika
1/2 tsp of Chilli powder
Salt and Pepper to season

  1. Wash and drain the canned chickpeas.
  2. Place in food processor, along with all of the other ingredients.
  3. Whiz together until blended and creamy.
  4. Place in a jar and store in a fridge for up to a week.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

"Snickers" Milkshake

No Snicker bars were harmed during the making, or ...are actually in this delicious milkshake. But who needs them when you can have a glass of completely natural sugar-powered nutty goodness?! A salty/sweet combo is my ultimate favourite and since discovering this tasty treat, I've got to admit I'm kinda nuts about it!

"Snickers" Milkshake

Serves 1 Big Glass

1 frozen Banana
1 tablespoon of Cacao Powder
1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 tablespoons of Peanut Butter
200ml of Almond Milk

  1. Chop up a ripe banana (the riper. the sweeter, the better) and freeze over night or for 4 hours.
  2. Pop all the ingredients in a blender and whiz until combined.
  3. Pour into a glass and slurp with a straw.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Pork Egg Fried Rice

I'm so sorry that I sort of neglected the blogging recently! The past few weeks have been a bit busy but the best weeks of my life. I married the man of my dreams, went on an incredible honeymoon to Crete and have moved to Glasgow! So you can't really be too miffed with me for leaving the blog for a few weeks, right? 

Before coming to university I never used to cook with pork. In my family, we opted for sausages and bacon rashers, rather than tucking into a proper pork steak. However I have now discovered the joy of cooking with pork! It is both delicious and nutrient-packed (B Vitamins, Zinc and Selenium), as well as being incredibly versatile. 

I don't eat it often, maybe once a week, as it's a red meat. This type of meat can contain quite a lot of saturated fat, which I've written before on previous blog posts. A diet rich in saturated fat is not good for the body. But it's all about having a healthy balance though, isn't it?! Choosing a leaner cut of pork is key and can reduce the amount of saturated fat you consume. Pork is a healthy alternative to other meats, such as beef and lamb, with lean cuts being almost 96% fat free. Less room for saturated fats mean that leaner cuts of pork are more dense in nourishing protein!

It's best to go for fresh or frozen pork which is farmed local to wherever you are. Also it is helpful for both the farmer, the animals and yourself, if you look out for a 'Quality Assurance' label on the packaging. This ensures and provides you with a peace of mind knowing that the pigs welfare were cared for when being reared, that they were feed properly, given appropriate veterinary care, as well as other factors required for the production of top quality meat. 

Pork Egg Fried Rice

Serves 2

100g Brown Rice
2 Lean Pork Steaks (280g total)
2 Free Range Eggs
80g of Broccoli
80g of Frozen or Fresh Peas
1 Carrot
1/2 White Onion
2 teaspoon of Butter
1 teaspoon of Chilli Powder
2 cloves of Garlic
2 inches of Ginger
3 tablespoon of Dark Soy Sauce
2 tablespoon of Toasted Sesame Seed Oil
Pepper for seasoning

Optional for serving: Cashew Nuts

1. Fill and boil the kettle.
2. Rinse and place rice into a saucepan of boiling water with a pinch of salt. Cook for 20 minutes, or until rice is cooked.
3. Cut pork steak into chunks.
4.  Heat a frying pan with 1 teaspoon of butter and add steak. Fry on a high heat for 2 minutes and sprinkle with chilli powder. Season with salt and pepper. (Be careful not to stir the meat too much or it will become tough. You want the meat to be tender, so just stir chunks every minute of cooking time.) 
5. Turn the pork over and keep cooking for a further 2 minutes, or until meat has darkened in colour. Remove the meat from the frying pan and set aside in a dish to rest.
6. On a chopping board, chop onion, grate carrot and cut broccoli into bite-size pieces.
7.  Grate ginger and crush the garlic cloves. 
8.  Whisk the eggs in another bowl.
9.  Heat remaining butter in the frying pan over medium-high heat and add chopped onion. Cook for 4 minutes until browned. 
10.  Add in garlic and ginger, giving the mixture a stir for 30 seconds to allow flavours to infuse. 
11. Drain and allow the cooked rice to rest. 
12.  Add the eggs to the fried onions and allow them to scramble for another 30 seconds. 
13. Once eggs have become solid, stir in vegetables and cook for 1 minute. Then add the cooked rice. Stir mixture every now and then for a further 2 minutes. Season with soy sauce.
14.  Add the pork and stir for a further 5 minutes. Ensure that the food is piping hot. 
15. Remove the frying pan from the heat, seasoning the fried rice with a sprinkle of pepper and drizzle of sesame seed oil. Make sure that all ingredients are mixed together to allow for a glorious selection of meat and vegetables.
16. Serve in bowls with a sprinkle of cashew nuts if you'd like. Enjoy!