Monday, October 24, 2016

Healthy Peanut Butter, Cacao, Banana and Granola Toast with 'Chocolate Sauce'

Summer has felt like a pretty long one this time around in Dubai, and if I’m honest a pretty lazy one as well. I'm feeling more than ready to welcome the colder season, and with it more earthy, heart-warming inspired meals too. 

By now you'll know breakfast is one of my favourite parts of the day, and I don't know if it's because of the ensuing change in season, but lately I haven't really been feeling my smoothie bowls as much. Instead I've been enjoying basing my breakfasts around the humble piece of toasted bread - from a simple strawberry jam on warm farm bread, to zaatar fried eggs with a buttered wholemeal slice, and lately this banana-peanut butter-chocolate style combo. 

Of course, I'm always looking to see how I can make my breakfast more nutritious and filling, without labouring over something that takes too much effort. For a long time, one of my favourite ways to eat toast, is with a slather of peanut butter, topped with banana slices and drizzled with a little honey, and so recently I changed it up a notch. To make it a little fun I've added a sprinkle of cacao nibs and homemade granola, and replaced the drizzle of honey with a healthy chocolate sauce made by simply mixing together a little coconut oil with raw cacao powder. You simply can't beat a peanut butter and chocolate style combo, and this good-for-you toast version for breakfast doesn't disappoint either. The coconut oil based chocolate sauce lends a lovely hint of nuttiness but if you aren't a fan you can replace the oil with a few drops of water to mix with the cacao powder instead. All in all, it's so so easy to put together, and can be made with any type of bread you have on hand. If you're looking to try something other than your usual jam/egg on toast then this is the ultimate in a comforting bread-based breakfast that's almost dessert like, and yet made with good, honest ingredients. 

Peanut Butter, Cacao, Banana and Granola Toast with healthy 'Chocolate Sauce'
Serves 1

One slice of bread of your choice (I used a wholemeal slice here)
Peanut butter, smooth and preferably organic
Half a medium banana, sliced
Raw cacao nibs
Granola of your choice (homemade is best)
Half tsp raw cacao powder
Half tsp coconut oil, high quality 

1. Toast the slice of bread in a toaster to your liking. Meanwhile mix together the cacao powder and coconut oil in a small bowl until the powder has dissolved to form a runny sauce.
2. Spread toast with a layer of peanut butter, and carefully arrange banana slices on top.
3. Sprinkle over some raw cacao nibs and granola.
4. Using a teaspoon drizzle the 'chocolate sauce' over.
5. Slice toast in half if preferred and enjoy!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Healthy Peanut Butter & Strawberry 'Jelly' Smoothie

Be honest now, how many of you actually make the recipes you've saved on Pinterest, let alone give them a second look after you've pinned them? Myself included, probably not many, am I right?

I've recently made it a point, a mental resolution if you will, to go through all my saved pins on my Pinterest boards and actually get myself to try out some of the recipes. For the past month or so, when I sit down to prepare my shopping list I set aside a few minutes to go through my boards and pick out a recipe or three, which I can then recreate during the course of the week. Most of the times its in the form of salads for lunch, but whether or not I stick to the recipe exactly, I like that it gets me thinking about why I pinned a certain recipe and that I can then say I've actually tried it. 

That's pretty much how the inspiration for this smoothie came about. I came across the gorgeous image of this Mashed Berries and Peanut Butter Shake on my Breakfast board and knew it was right up my ally for morning breakfast. 

It literally takes two minutes to prepare, and although the original recipe uses sugar, salt and vanilla extract I decided to leave these out to make it more palatable and guilt-free as my morning fuel. I also added chia seeds into the mix to give it a little extra health kick. I have to admit the Brit in me has never been a fan of 'PB and jelly' as a combo so I was a little skeptical at first 'coz I personally think peanut butter and berries shouldn't really go together. And yet the reality is I actually couldn't believe how good this was. Every spoonful was addictive and it really was as good as eating an indulgent and moresome dessert, if not better. Creamy and salty, sweet and juicy all in one, and just so, so good. 

Needless to say I'm definitely glad I went through my pins!

Healthy Peanut Butter & Strawberry 'Jelly' Smoothie
Inspired and adapted from Kiran Tarun
Serves 1

8-10 strawberries
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 banana
1 cup of milk (I used unsweetened coconut milk)
3 tbsp smooth peanut butter
Strawberry and crushed roasted peanuts to garnish

1. Blitz the strawberries together with the chia seeds in a blender for about 3-5 seconds, so that there are still chunks of strawberry left.
2. Empty into a large glass, and give the blender a quick rinse with water.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients into the same blender and blend until smooth.
4. Pour over the strawberry mixture, and garnish with the strawberry and crushed peanuts before serving with a spoon.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Quinoa Stuffed Sweet Potato with Tahini Labneh Dressing

I've been seeing stuffed sweet potatoes around for a while now and immediately fell in love with the idea of them. At times when I'm feeling uninspired and/or lazy come lunchtime, I'll often grab a sweet potato, pierce it, put it in the microwave for 8 minutes (turning it halfway through), and once cooked through, I'll cut it in half length-ways and slather with lots of butter. Eaten with a spoon straight out of the skin its bliss and perfect for a cold day. But stuffed sweet potatoes are on a whole other level and coming across so many variations made me figure I could easily step it up a notch and make my own version. 

On this particular day when I decided to try out a stuffed sweet potato I had some quinoa salad left from the day before, and it was the perfect quick fix I was looking for. I really liked this combo so decided to stick with it and share it with you guys. 
With quinoa, roasted baby asparagus, sweetcorn and pomegranate this is a hearty, nourishing and complete meal in itself, especially if you use a large sweet potato and eat extra salad on the side as well. Pomegranate always adds that crunchy sweetness I love and when I made this a second time I added feta which gives a salty contrast to the sweetness of the potato. A generous drizzle of tahini, labneh, garlic and lemon dressing adds a delicious creamy kick. Dare I mention a trendy diet word or two and say this version here is gluten-free and vegetarian as well.

Don't forget to add a generous drizzle of tahini, labneh, garlic and lemon dressing for a creamy kick as mentioned in the recipe below. You could omit this and use a cashew cream instead if you wanted to make a vegan version. As with most vegetarian recipes I always say to feel free to swap out for different vegetables and make the recipe to your own taste. The quinoa really just forms the base of the 'stuffing' here. Infact you could easily make this a healthy weekday recipe too by adding shredded chicken or minced beef to the mix. 

Even if you don't stick to the recipe here, next time you're stuck on what to eat for lunch or evening meal, try stuffing your sweet potato with a homemade salad. It will fill you up and the options you can fill them with are endless. 

Quinoa Stuffed Sweet Potato with Tahini Labneh Dressing
Serves 1

One large sweet potato, baked or cooked in the microwave
1 cup of quinoa, boiled and seasoned 
A small handful of boiled sweetcorn
5-6 olive oil roasted & seasoned baby asparagus, sliced
Crumbled feta
Handful pomegranate arils
Coriander, pepper and dried chili flakes to garnish
Baby spinach, to serve

1. Prepare the tahini labneh dressing as below.
2. Gently cut the sweet potato in quarters, without slicing all the way through. so that the potato is still in one piece. Use your hands to prise the sweet potato open leaving space in the centre to spoon the quinoa into.
3. Mix together all the rest of ingredients apart from the garnishes.
4. Spoon the quinoa salad into the centre of the sweet potato.
5. Drizzle the tahini labneh dressing over the stuffing, and garnish with the coriander, pepper and chili flakes.
6. Serve with a side of baby spinach if desired. 

For the tahini labneh dressing

1/4 cup tahini,
3 tbsp labneh
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp lemon juice

1. Mix all the ingredients together and add a couple of teaspoons of water to make the dressing slightly runny. Add a little more water if needed. 
2. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for upto a week.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Breakfast Smoothie & Yogurt Bowls 12 ways

If you follow me on Instagram you probably already know how much I like to post pictures of my breakfast. First thing in the morning I have the full day ahead of me, the most energy and all the time to be a little more playful and creative with my food, and of course to photograph it as well! I only really eat either one of two things for breakfast - a loaded smoothie, or a breakfast bowl. As a result, I've come to love trying out different versions of yogurt and smoothie bowls, sometimes planned and sometimes thrown together with whatever fruit I have that at the time, but I still never get tired of coming up with different combinations. I love the textures, flavour and aroma that putting together yogurt, fruit, granola and various toppings gives when you make a parfait. Cool creaminess from the yogurt or smoothie base, sweet juiciness from the fruit and that wonderful crunch which comes with granola, seeds and nuts.

I nearly always use full-fat natural yogurt because I find the texture of Greek yogurt too heavy and filling for me personally, but the great thing is you can substitute as you please - flavoured yogurt works just as well too. I also normally add a little local honey to my bowls - this usually helps to cut out any tartness from sour fruits, but of course you can choose to omit this or use any other sweetener instead such as agave. As you'll see below I use a lot of berries, mostly because they don't require any cutting up; just a quick wash and they can be tossed into the bowl. 
To make things more healthy and nutritious I like to mix chia seeds and ground flax seed into the yogurt or smoothie base, add a few drops of natural coconut oil, plus a dash of cinnamon powder when I can remember!

There are no real rules. Switch out fruit toppings depending on whats in season and what your taste-buds prefer, and experiment with making your own granola mixes or toppings too. The combinations are endless. 
Here are some of the ones I've created in recent months, and I hope they inspire you to create your own too!

1. My go-to and favourite smoothie is a banana base blended with coconut milk, raw cacao powder, ground flax seed and some peanut butter. I've been making this for a few years now and I can't get enough of it. Here I've topped it with some sliced banana, raw cacao nibs and chopped walnuts. See my post on Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Breakfast Smoothie for the base recipe. 

2. Yogurt with strawberries, papaya, and blueberries, topped with a drizzle of honey, slightly toasted almonds, dried goji berries and a sprinkle of cinnamon powder. Adding another fruit to my bowl of berries helps to switch things up slightly to keep me from getting bored. 

3. I love to add figs into my yogurt bowls when they're in season and here I've added it with blueberries and pitted cherries too. The dried rose petals give a lovely floral hint. This is a great combination to enjoy during late summer.

4. The second smoothie I love to make often is a banana and coconut milk base with berries. Here I used mostly blackberries and raspberries, topping the smoothie bowl with homemade matcha granola, sliced strawberries, chia seeds and bee pollen.

5. For those days when you have a little more time on your hands, why not layer your ingredients (granola, yogurt and fruit) into glasses? This is especially nice for when you have guests or family staying around or over for breakfast, or even just as a little weekend treat. I blended some mango puree to compliment the sourness of using passion fruit pulp, and added raspberries to make presentable mini parfaits. 

6. Another one of my favourite's to make when I want to make that extra effort is the Rose, Orange Blossom and Pistachio Breakfast Parfait. This Middle Eastern inspired parfait looks so pretty and the combo is heavenly. 

7. Figs make a lovely addition to breakfast bowls when roasted in the oven for a couple of minutes with honey drizzled over. The caramelized aroma makes a great pairing with pistachios and they taste great added to a warm bowl of porridge too. 

8. I love this combination of strawberries, pomegranate, orange rind and mint with yogurt for a cool and refreshing start to my mornings in the summer.  

9. What I love about layered fruit smoothies is that its likes tasting two different types of smoothies in one. Eventually it all mixes up too so you end up with a mix of two flavour combos. Here I combined a layer of mango and banana with raspberries and banana. Another combo I really love is avocado and milk with strawberry and banana. Yum!

10. A great way to sweeten your breakfast bowl is by making fruit 'jam'. Simply boil together your choice of fruit (berries work best) with a little sugar and water. Once it has thickened slightly to a syrup like texture leave to cool for a few minutes before pouring on top of your smoothie or yogurt. Alternatively you can simply blend some berries to drizzle over. I've been loving 'strawberry chia jam' lately by blending strawberries and mixing in chia seeds. 

11. Here is another example of a more colour-driven smoothie bowl I made recently - blackberry and banana smoothie base, topped with overnight chia coconut milk, berries, blood orange slices and bee pollen. How gorgeous is that orange?!

12. Last but not least, my go-to combination on most days - yogurt and whichever berries I can find in my fridge! I like to switch up the granola, add different nuts and seeds and a dash of cinnamon powder.

Do you enjoy smoothie or yogurt bowls for breakfast, and what is your favourite combination to make?

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