Saturday, 31 January 2015

Blueberry Muffin Smoothie

blueberry muffin smoothie

This is an ultra-quick post today as I’m puppy-sitting for Jac from Tinned Tomatoes. The wee man is sleeping, so I am grabbing the chance to write this before he wakes up. Shhhhh!

This smoothie, for healthy January, kind of tastes like a blueberry muffin – hence the name. As you know, I love to make smoothies, which are reminiscent of cakes and desserts and this one is no exception.

blueberry muffin smoothie


Aside from blueberries, I added a banana for sweetness, plus white grapes too. I used almond milk and added a splash of vanilla extract and almond extract. The almond extract is not everyones cup of tea, but does add a cakeyness to the drink.



I whizzed up the ingredients in my Optimum 9400 from Froothie and the drink was ready in no time. Here’s the recipe…

Yield: 2 glasses
Ingredients:
250 grams fresh blueberries
1 large ripe banana
200 grams white grapes
250 ml almond milk (or any milk you prefer)
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract

Method:
Whizz all the ingredeints together in a blender until smooth. Pour into glasses, over ice if preferred, and enjoy!


Disclosure Statement: I received the blender free to review. Any opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Apple & Sour Cherry Oatie Protein Bars

Apple and Sour Cherry Oatie Protein Bars

My healthier recipe January is nearing an end, but I am going to carry on with the occasional healthy bake, much as I did last year.

My penultimate post for January is for Apple and Sour Cherry Oatie Protein Bars. These were a complete experiment after visiting my local health food store. I picked up a few ingredients I liked the sound of and wound up with these bars.

Apple and Sour Cherry Oatie Protein Bars

They are perfect to get a hit of protein without eating too much. They include a vanilla protein powder and are full of oats. I love oats and decided to grind some up in my Optimum 9400 from Froothie to get oat flour. It only took about 30 seconds and I had fine flour. I’d seen it used in other posts and loved the colour it gave to bars.


The other ingredients I picked up were dried apple rings, which were squidgy – not hard. Plus some dried sour cherries packed with flavour.  I also added some ground cinnamon and used almond milk to loosen the mix up a bit.

The bars chilled in the fridge for a couple of hours to set up. And they cut up into little oblongs, making a satisfyingly squidgy bar. They hold their shape well, but are quite soft and chewy.

You could top with a little chocolate, if you like. I added the remainder of the pack of protein powder mixed with a little almond milk, almost like an icing.

  • Apple and Sour Cherry Oatie Protein Bars


    Apple Sour Cherry Oatie Protein Bars Protein bars full of apple and cherry flavour

    Cuisine: Healthy Category: Bars Yields: 12 bars approx.
    Prep Time: Chill Time: Total Time:
     



    Ingredients
    • 80 grams of porridge oats
    • 60 grams of dried apple rings
    • 30 grams vanilla flavoured protein powder
    • 3 tablespoon almond milk
    • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
    • 50 grams of dried sour cherries
     
    Instructions
    1. Place the oats in a blender and whizz until they are a fine flour. Next add the apple rings, protein powder and cinnamon. Blend until the mixture breaks down and begins to form a ‘dough’. Add milk, one tablespoon at a time to loosen the mix up as needed. Lastly add the sour cherries and blend them in. If little pieces show through – that’s fine.
    2. Take a plastic tub, about 6”x4” and line with greaseproof paper. Place the mix into the tub and press down firmly into an even layer. Place into the fridge for at least two hours, or preferably overnight.
    3. Cut the bars into 12 pieces and there you have bars ready to snack on whenever you need a protein boost.
    4. Happy healthy snacking!


Disclosure Statement: I received the Optimum 9400 free to review. Any opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Treat Petite Round Up January 2015


My goodness! We are one month into 2015 already – where does time go?! January is a bit of a naff month don’t you think? It’s cold, we are all trying to be a bit heathier post-Christmas festivities. It’s still dark in the mornings when you leave for work and dark by the time you get back (well, for me anyway).

Anyway, enough of my grumbles! Treat Petite for this January was all about being a bit healthier like I said above. And you guys did not disappoint – who needs to be bad when being good can be so good?!


 To kick things off we have Luck, the Baking Queen, who gave us these delightful, swirly mini strawberry meringues. They only have 50 calories each and no fat! Great entry Lucy!



Secondly, it was me! I made cookies with no dairy-fats, no eggs, no sugar and lots of flavour. They contained low-fat peanut butter, cacao powder and a banana. They were very light and crisp and perfect for a nibble with a cuppa.


Laura at I’d Much Rather Bake Than made very tempting White Chocolate and Green Tea Shortbread Cookies. She ground up some tea leaves she was reviewing, and added them to her shortbread mix. They turned out a lovely subtle green hue and sounded delicious.


Elizabeth at Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary has been getting all fit, and as part of her new routine she made these extremely healthy chocolate covered peanut protein bars, made with peanut flour. The chocolate on top is healthy too – cocoa powder with some coconut oil and maple syrup. They sound scrummy and virtuous at the same time.


Our antipodean pal Johanna, from the Green Gourmet Giraffe, who lives in Melbourne (where my in-laws are at the moment!) decided to make cashew cheese stuffed into dates. I have never heard of cashew cheese before and was intrigued. The cheese contains cashews, obviously, but I won’t spoil the surprise of the rest of the ingredients. Pop over and have a look yourself!


Claire at ‘What Claire Baked’ is getting all healthy for 2015 too and made healthy flapjacks with fruit and seeds. She said they aren’t as sweet as regular flapjacks, but you could always adjust the amount of honey used to sweeten things up. They look great.


Helen at ‘Family Food Friend’ made muesli cookies. She was recently given a couple of big bags of muesli and decided to incorporate some into these fab looking cookies. She did forget to add spices she says, but was quite happy without them!


My co-host Kat at The Baking Explorer made chocolate and peanut butter granola bars. I love chocolate and peanut butter together so these are right up my street! The no-bake bars contain lots of seeds and oats, organic peanut butter, and way less chocolate than you would find in a ‘candy bar’ so plenty of goodness packed in there!


It is amazing how many of us are now using coconut oil in our bakes – it really is very popular as well as being healthier. Kerry at ‘Kerry Cooks’ made healthier blueberry bran muffins. These contain, aside from the coconut oil, Greek yoghurt and oat bran. I would love these any day of the week for breakfast!


Corina at Searching for Spice made these Coconut, Apricot and Sultana Snack Balls, also with coconut oil. She used some leftover fruits from Christmas and voila – her balls were born. They look like they would provide tons of energy.


Camilla at ‘Fab Food 4 All’ made something akin to a crème brulee, but much healthier. It was a Fat Free Greek Yoghurt Fruit Brulee. Her son, who doesn’t like yoghurt, was surprised how much he loved it. Full of oranges and grapes, plus the yoghurt, it is a quick and tasty healthy treat to knock up.


Ness at Jibber Jabber UK was making me feel all festive with her Treat Petite entry. Her mincemeat and cranberry flapjacks were made using some leftover ingredients, plus mincemeat which the supermarket were selling at a bargain price. With oats and fruit, they provide lots of energy (and a touch of Christmas for those of us that are still missing it!).



Sarah Jane from ‘Takes from the Kitchen Shed’ made healthy digestive biscuits. With only maple syrup acting as the sweetener, plus spelt flour and oatmeal, these are really quite a heathy option, perfect with a cuppa.

There we have it - some healthier inspiration for us all. Thanks to everyone for taking part and stay tuned for February's Treat Petite over at The Baking Explorer.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

(healthier) Chocolate and Peanut Butter Popcorn

Chocolate Peanut Butter Popcorn

I love popcorn, it can be a great snack to eat when trying to be healthy as I’m sure you know. I have a popcorn maker which pops the kernels just with heat, which is the healthiest way to enjoy it, rather than tossing it in a pan with oil.

What can also make it not so healthy are the additional toppings ladled over it. Butter and caramel and other goodies can outdo the nutritious value of eating popcorn.

I decided to invent this recipe for Chocolate and Peanut Butter Popcorn, which contains no diary-fat and no refined sugars, as part of my healthier January drive.

But it turned out to use quite a bit of coconut butter, which is better for you than regular butter, but is still fat nonetheless. So I ended up halving the quantities for the topping of this popcorn and it didn’t take away from the deliciousness at all.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Popcorn

For lovers of chocolate and peanut butter together, this one is for you! The chocolate is made from raw cacao powder (unsweetened cocoa, if you can’t get hold if it), a bit of agave nectar for sweetness and coconut butter. The butter mixes with the cacao when molten, making a kind of choccy sauce. When cooled it sets a little, so your fingers don’t get all messy.

The peanut part came from raw peanuts, blended in my Optimum 9400, to make a natural peanut butter, with some added salt, agave nectar for sweetness and coconut butter which again helps it set a bit.

After popping the corn, I let it cool before adding the toppings. You could eat them straight away, or leave it a while and bag up to take to the cinema with you!

You will love this and it really isn’t too bad a way of getting your chocolate and peanut butter fix…

Yield: Several cups of popcorn

Ingredients:
70 grams popcorn kernels, popped

Chocolate sauce:
35 grams coconut butter
2 tablespoon raw cacao powder
2 teaspoon agave nectar

Peanut Butter coating:
20 grams coconut butter
100 grams raw peanuts
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon agave nectar

Method:
Pop the popcorn kernels and leave the popcorn aside in a large bowl.

For the chocolate sauce melt the coconut butter in the microwave, in a small bowl. Add the cacao powder and agave nectar and stir until a sauce forms.


For the peanut butter coating, melt the coconut butter in  a microwave. Place the peanuts in a food blender, add the melt coconut butter, salt and agave nectar. Blitz until a smooth (ish) paste is formed.


Pour the chocolate sauce over the popcorn and toss it about so it’s all covered. Spoon the peanut butter coating all over and mix that through.



If you leave this to sit in a cool place, the chocolate and peanut butter sets a little and can be enjoyed on the go.


Happy Popping!

Monday, 19 January 2015

Red Velvet Smoothie

red velvet smoothie

Well, my fitness regime has started again – and so my healthier recipes continue!

I started back at the gym this weekend. I haven’t been for a good few weeks. My calves were killing me when running, so I splurged on a new pair of trainers from a shop the other day, which analyses your running style. Apparently I run like a gazelle?!

red velvet smoothie

To get the energy for my first run in a while I made another in my line of dessert flavoured smoothies, whipped up in my Optimum 9400 from Froothie.

red velvet smoothie

After trying some beetroot in a drink recently, I realised that it’s earthy flavour would go well with a bit of cacao powder in a smoothie and voila a red velvet smoothie was born in my head!

I gave it a whirl and was impressed with the tasty result. Also tucked in there is an apple, a very ripe banana, vanilla extract and almond milk. Okay, it’s not identical to a red velvet cake, but with the subtle chocolaty flavour, the vanilla and almond, plus the fruity sweetness, it tasted good and did the job before my run!

Give it a try – have your cake and drink it too!

Yield: Just under a litre!

Ingredients:
2 small beets, cooked – NOT PICKLED!
1 medium ripe banana
1 medium red apple, cored (keep the skin on)
1 tablespoon cacao powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
500 ml almond milk

Method:


Place all of the ingredients into a blender and blitz until completely smooth. The Optimum 9400 pulverises the apple skin, so no need to peel. Serve over ice if preferred.

Disclosure Statement: I was sent the Optimum 9400 free to review and have not been paid to promote it. Any opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Cakeyboi visits the Cereal Killer Cafe

courtesy of Cereal Killer Cafe
 If you follow me on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, you may have seen that we were recently on a visit to London. We try and do different things each time we are there – which is quite often for a couple of bois from north of the border.

After recently reading about a new cafe which had opened up in Brick Lane, I knew it was a place I had to visit! The Cereal Killer Cafe is the concept of twins Alan and Gary Keery who hail from Belfast. It’s the world’s first cereal themed cafe, which offers 120 types of cereal from all over the world. You can try various varieties of milk to have with your chosen cereal and if you like, different toppings such as marshmallows or M&M’s to try on top of that!

courtesy of Cereal Killer Cafe
 I am obsessed with cereal and have been since being a wee lad. In the 70’s the first cereal I remember having was Ready Brek, before I moved on to Coco Pops in the 80’s. But I was usually swayed by the brill free gifts you used to get hidden in boxes back then, so was a bit of a cereal whore really! Then I discovered American cereals and all that changed. Froot Loops became my number one favourite (but NOT the yucky UK variety you get now!).



Anyway, back to the cafe! Disneyboi and I located the cafe early on Friday morning. It is quite unassuming from the exterior, but once inside, that all changed. Smaller than I was expecting, the ground level comprises the counter and some seating. The wall behind the counter is festooned with all the boxes of cereal, and there is some cereal themed merchandise to peruse too.


We ventured downstairs to the lower level of seating as the upstairs was full. We were given menus to try from, I wish I could remember everything that was on it. It was crammed full of cereals from all over the world, cereal-infused cakes and some ‘cocktails’ of cereal to try. We both went for these. Disneyboi chose an apple and cinnamon combo, which contained Apple Jacks, plus other types to make his cereal taste like a warm apple pie.


 I had to go for something containing Froot Loops of course. I was immediately drawn to the ‘Double Rainbow’. This contained, Froot Loops as I said, plus Fruity Pebbles and marshmallow pieces, served with strawberry milk. It sounded like a riot of colour, hence the name.


 Whilst we waited for our order there was plenty cereal based memorabilia to feast our eyes upon. I loved it! Everything from the Weetabix gang, to a Rice Krispies themed toy was on display. Every table had a light in the centre, which was a cereal bowl adorned with characters from our youth. At our table was a Star Wars bowl - perfect! And the sounds coming out of the speakers was the music of the Wombles. It was as if they knew I was coming…


Our cereals arrived with our freshly brewed cappuccinos and wholemeal toast. I was tempted to have a schmear of Marshmallow Fluff on mine but Disneyboi held me back! The food was as tasty as we expected and we certainly felt relaxed in the quirky, vibrant surroundings.

courtesy of Cereal Killer Cafe
Soon we had to leave and move on to our next stop (The Shard, great views) but when we came above ground, the cafe was heaving! It certainly is a popular place.


There has been negative press about the cafe sadly. People saying that ‘overpriced’ cereal (you are paying for imported cereal and an experience) in a deprived area of the city goes against the ‘grain’. For me personally, these guys are trying to set up a new business, yes in a part of the city which isn’t affluent. We saw plenty of other shops and bars near the cafe which could be accused of the same thing. But the media hasn’t criticised them. And if it brings in new visitors to the surrounding area, that can only be a good thing?

I posted a picture of my cereal on Twitter, and received quite a nasty tweet, saying that it was full of sugar and nothing natural, and who could possibly eat or sell something like that? To that woman, I say – they didn’t force me to eat it. The cafe is full of healthy cereals to eat too, but this was a treat for me. The whole experience was a trip back to my childhood.

courtesy of Cereal Killer Cafe
In this world, where so many horrible things are happening, to be able to escape for a wee while into a sugary land of yesteryear, celebrating happy memories is a positive experience. If you are so against it – don’t visit!

I applaud the brothers on their venture. I hear they are already planning on opening up a second cafe in London and have received interest from all over the world. Plus a recipe book may even be in the pipeline (jealous!), which I will definitely purchase.

So, in summary, if you like cereal, are a bit of a grown-up kid like me and want to try a new experience, visit the Cereal Killer Cafe at 139 Brick Lane, London. 'It’s grrrrrreat', as a certain tiger would say.

Disclosure Statement: I haven't been endorsed to write this post. I visited the cafe of my own volition. I did contact the cafe by email to ask for some images which they kindly provided. Some are used here, along with some of my own. Any opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Healthier Blender Brownies

healthier blender brownies

Yes, these brownies were made (started off anyway) in a blender and they are on the healthy side of things. As I am starting to cut back, my recipes are becoming a bit healthier this month.

I love brownies, but in moderation. With these Healthy Blender Brownies, you can perhaps have a little more of them and not feel too guilty at all.

healthier blender brownies

They contain no refined sugar or dairy-fat. The sweetness comes from dates and some agave nectar. And to replace butter, I used some coconut butter (good fat!) instead (which I quickly melted first in the microwave).

Brownies wouldn’t be brownies without chocolate of course, so I used raw cacao powder for the batter.

But I did add some 72% plain chocolate on top before baking. This is optional and obviously makes them not quite so virtuous. But, the higher the cocoa solids, the better plain chocolate can be for you. It is full of antioxidants after all.

I blended all of the ingredients in my Optimum 9400 blender from Froothie. The brownie batter was thick and had to be spread quite firmly in the baking pan. The result was a chewy, dense brownie.

I tried them both cold and hot, and I would recommend heating them before serving as they soften up a bit that way. I zapped them in the microwave for 10 seconds and they were gorgeous.

Here’s how I made them…

Yield: 24 brownies approx.

Ingredients:
150 grams, dates, stoned
30 grams coconut butter, melted
3 tablespoons agave nectar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
60 ml water
75 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
50 grams raw cacao powder
Pinch of salt
50 grams 72% cocoa solid chocolate, roughly chopped (optional)

Method:
Place the dates in a blender and cover with water from a recently boiled kettle. Let them soften for 5 minutes.


In the meantime, line an 8”x8” baking pan with greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 180C.

After the 5 minutes, drain the water from the dates, keeping them in the blender. Add the melted coconut butter, agave nectar, vanilla and 60 ml of water. Blend until smooth. Add the flour, baking powder, cacao powder and salt. Blend until a thick paste forms. You may need to scrape down the sides of the blender a couple of times. If the mix is too thick add a couple more teaspoons of water.


Transfer to the baking pan and with a spatula, spread to the corners of the pan as much as you can. Sprinkle the chopped chocolate over the top, if using. Place into the oven for 20 minutes. They will have risen and the chocolate on top melted.


Allow them to cool slightly before cutting into squares.  Enjoy them best when warm!

healthier blender brownies

Disclosure Statement: I was sent the blender free to review. I have not been paid for this post. Any opinions expressed are my own.