Friday, 30 April 2010

baking for mencap

there are 1.5million people with a learning disability in the UK. a learning disability is caused by the way the brain develops before, during or shortly after birth. it is always lifelong.

mencap is the voice of learning disability. everything we do is about valuing and supporting people with a learning disability, and their families and carers.

i was contacted by mencap recently to ask if i might give them some delicious healthy baking recipes, and i was more than happy to support the work they do. since then, the booklet has been published and i was asked to do more recipes, but this time i decided to make a recipe just for them.

since i know that everyone loves chocolate, i have created some very delicious chocolate hazelnut cookies, which are absolutely delicious, no sugar, almost flourless biscuits that are so tasty and also good for you!

chocolate hazelnut cookies

 - melt 100g dark chocolate
 - in a separate bowl whisk together 100g butter and 55g agave nectar (or other sweetener)
 - whisk in 1 tsp vanilla and 1 egg
 - add the melted chocolate, 100g ground almonds, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1tbsp spelt flour (or other flour) and 50g chopped hazelnuts
 - whisk until smooth, do a quick taste test to check that it's sweet enough, then put spoonfuls onto a non-sticking baking tray.
 - bake for about 5 minutes at 180c, remove and squish down with a fork, if the mixture comes apart, then put them back in the oven for a minute or so until they firm up.
 - put them back in the oven for another 2 minutes or so, until the top is sealed over but they are still slightly moist. leave to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. enjoy with a delicious cup of tea!

these will keep for a couple of days, but i'm not sure that they'll last that long! these were tested out by a few willing volunteers, who thought that they were incredibly good, and couldn't believe they were so healthy...

a new look

yes, that's right, the blog has had a makeover.

i hope you like it! i've been meaning to sort out my blog for a while now, to make it look more professional, and ultimately to make it more user friendly and beautiful.

so i called in the help of the lovely arian, artist and illustrator extraordinaire! from scratch, she designed my new header, and i couldn't be happier with it...i think it looks rather chic as well as fun. she captured exactly what i asked her for...which is amazing.

arian also has an etsy store, where you can check out more of her amazing designs and purchase some of her artwork. her BeLoved prints are absolutely beautiful (and actually look a little like the swallow tattoo i want to get!)

i've also added an about me section, with a small version of my life with food and some of my philosophy too. there's also a list of the recipes i've created on this blog, and a list of the cookbooks i've reviewed so far. that way you can keep up to date, or get instant inspiration should you need it!

i'm sure that NJA will evolve further with time, but for now, i think it suits me just right.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

sheeps milk yogurt and sprout tomato salad

lots of exciting new things are happening here with not just apples, i can hardly wait to tell you all about them, but it will all become apparent soon i hope!

yes i know these photos are in a little bit of a weird order, but the post was just going a little doolally every time i wanted to edit it! so anyways, here's food from the last week:

sheeps milk yoghurt with fruit compote (super sugary, and is therefore only really intended for mum, but i can't help trying a little bit on some delish yogurt...

baked beans on toast - no added sugar on whole wheat of course! a simple lunch, can you tell we were running out of food in the house?

broad bean hummus is becoming a bit of a staple in our house, there's always a bag of frozen broad beans in the freezer, garlic in the fridge and seasoning in the cupboard. it's so simple to make, and i love shelling the beans - it's very therapeutic!

butternut squash fries with green beans, peas and broccoli, tomatoes, beans and salad

waitrose chicken and spanish chorizo potatoes with olives, served with a sprout and tomato salad - this was really my first sprout experience, and i've been so happy with the flavour and texture of them, that i'm sure we'll be purchasing them again

scrambled eggs on toast with sheep's milk yogurt and fruit compote, and a mug of green tea

spelt tuna pasta salad - packed lunches have never been this families strong point, we'd all rather have a few extra minutes in bed than create something too elaborate. but when it's cooked the night before, we don't mind having something a little unusual or experimental, as i'm convinced anything tastes better with a little rest and refrigeration. spelt pasta with tuna, sprouts, tomato and mayonnaise - not bad, but it could have used some leafy greens!

spelt and whole wheat biscuits from the kind diet, they turned out really nicely, and they were polished off before the sun set

random stir fry dinner with half a breaded lemon sole and half an avocado, something quick but nutritious. made even better by glancing through the new toast catalogue

i'll be letting you in on a little secret tomorrow hopefully, but in the mean time:

have a delicious day!

currently listening to: fall into place by apartment

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

eating for beauty

i finally finished eating for beauty by david wolfe, and i am excited to give you my review on it!

it's a really really interesting book, david wolfe looks at things from a totally different viewpoint, which makes everything he has to say worth reading.

he is a raw foodist, but not so strict that he doesn't include cooked food recipes and ideas in the book. there's also some mention of eating unpasteurized dairy, which came as somewhat of a shock. and he suggests not eating cereal grains, potatoes or beans as he thinks they are un-beautifying - hmm.

i like how he goes through some of his favorite beautifying foods, and really studies the science behind how it could enhance your beauty. and most of his suggestions are really practical and easy foods to incorporate into your diet more often - watercress, figs, papaya, olive oil...mostly things you can find in your supermarket, and just eat more often. i quite like that it's based on common sense, but he doesn't discuss local diets at all, and that there may in fact be differences in the way that some people respond to different types of food - there's a great quantity of evidence that says that some groups of people are better able to absorb vitamins from certain foods, depending on your heritage and ancestry (i'm super interested in this!)

he understand the practicalities of incorporating what he says into regular everyday life, that is, until he comes to his recipe section, which was fairly uninspiring or had far too many unusual ingredients - but it's such a small section anyway that it's not the make-or-break of the book.

the way he talks about the importance of lifestyle is great - hot springs, beauty sleep, yoga, skincare - those sections were all really new information for me, or at least the science part of it was. i think the one part of the whole book that resonated with me the most was when he mentions not touching your face with your hands, as this can lead to bacteria getting into your skin and causing breakouts. it's obvious really, but i've stopped doing this and have noticed a massive improvement to my face, no new blemishes, and if they do show their faces, they're gone within a couple of days because i haven't irritated them!

given that david's skin looks amazing, how could you not want to listen to what he has to say? he is inspiring, and for those of you wanting to find a more lifestyle approach to health and diet, then this would be a great book for you to read.

Friday, 23 April 2010

lemon spelt biscuits and french fish

a really good week so far. i've been up at the allotment digging and planting loads, so i've got a little tan! every time i come back from the allotment i feel so rejuvenated, my skin is glowing and i just want to eat vegetables forever. it's so good for the soul.

plus hours can be spent up there without you even noticing, like you'll look at you watch and be like, 'i've been up here for two hours, seriously? it only felt like half an hour'. it's weird how time flies when you're having fun!

some delicious eats from this week:

♥ buttery leeks - from a neighbouring allotment owner who had too many leeks, with provencal herbed sardines (oh my goodness, how delish) on vogels with pepper salsa

a lonely celeriac

celeriac and carrot soup with herbed oil on toast (leftover from the sardines)

fruit tea infusing in the boiled water, summer berries is strong and you can actually taste the berries, unlike most fruit teas which smell way better than they taste

lemon spelt biscuits with almonds - another work in progress. i will let you know as soon as i come up with the perfect spelt biscuit recipe, i promise!

mustard and lemon mackerel with winter salad and potato spinach pakoras - i challenged mum to cook something from nigel slater's real fast food cookbook, which she loves, so it wasn't too hard for her to pick something yummy or cook it.

buckwheat pancakes with peanut butter, agave nectar and bananas. what a beautiful way to start the day!

organic hummus, organic winter salad, organic celery, organic tomatoes, organic italian olive oil. yes, i did feel amazing after eating it! it was followed with organic medjool dates :)

currently listening to: i'm not your toy by la roux

cheap natural skincare products

skincare should not be expensive.

in fact, i've been trying to stop spending so much money on products lately, instead i've been attempting to buy things only when i need them, and to make sure i really research everything i buy so that my money doesn't go to waste.

it's partly because it's way more environmentally friendly to only buy just what you need, and not have to throw out too many packages in the rubbish. plus, organic products go rancid far quicker than chemical ones, so you don't end up putting horrible smelling things on your face if you only buy what you will actually use.

here's some of the products i have spoken about in my latest video, with a bit more explanation and how tos:

  1. cleanser - i am addicted to expensive cleansers. dr hauschka cleansing milk got me on the path to organic skincare, and really showed me how much better natural products are for your skin. so, i've never really tried any other cleansers. but today i ordered some 100% pure, organic lavender cleansing milk from healing hands aromatherapy on ebay - it came to just under £6 with delivery (not sure if she delivers to the US, or Europe, but it's always worth asking!)
  2. otherwise you could use honey, milk, yoghurt, grapes, cucumber, lemon, oats, olive oil (or other light oils) or make your own cleanser - which is something i hope to do soon! some of the most beautiful women i know use straight honey to cleanse, exfoliate and moisturise, and they have super clear skin.
  3. vaseline makes a great eye makeup remover, it's easy to use and it's made my lashes longer, stronger and fuller too. plus it's also kind of like an eye cream, as it leaves a moisturising residue after you take away your eye makeup. plus it's super duper cheap, and can be bought anywhere.
  4. organic hemp seed face cream is awesome! you can buy it from organic uk ebay store for £3.99 plus postage. it's a huge tube, lasts forever, and would suit loads of different skin types as it's not heavy. i recommend this to everyone i know whenever they ask about my skin (which is quite a lot!)
  5. aloe vera is awesome for the skin, if i had a plant i would use it all the time! but aloe plant extract is great too as a toner.
  6. rose water is the best recommendation for a toner, as it's way better than standard toners you buy in health stores because it's moisturising, perfect for sensitive skin, totally pure and smells divine, plus there's nothing added to it (well, make sure you buy 100% pure, and there won't be!) you shouldn't be paying more than a couple of £'s per bottle...if you are then they've added extra things into it, or put it in a super fancy package with a brand attached to it
  7. washcloths are the only exfoliator you need. when i did my makeup training, the instructor had the best skin, and he said that the reason for it was mineral makeup and no exfoliation apart from towel washcloths. anything harsher than soft washcloths is too abrasive and upsets the balance of your skin, leading to breakouts and uneven skin tone. also, they last for ages; get a couple so that you can keep washing and rotating them.
  8. french green clay - £7 for enough to last a whole year, total bargain! all you need is to mix with a little water so it becomes a paste, and then smooth it all over your face, leave to dry and rinse off (i always accidentally seem to leave a line of clay down the middle of my face!) my face always feel tight, clean and smooth after using it, just like i'd been to an expensive facialist...
  9. lucas papaw ointment - depending on which country you live in, the price will vary, but if you live in the uk check ebay for stockists (you can buy it for £6 inc deliver). my 25g tube has lasted almost a whole year! perfect for lips, but also cuts, dry patches (i think it'd be great on eczema), stings and it's really pure and soothing as well. i am in love with it ♥
  10. grapeseed oil and other carrier oils could be fantastic for both cleansing or intense-post-face-mask moisturising. choose wisely from a range of different types of oils to find one that works well for you
  11.  rio rosa mosqueta oil is such a favorite of mine. it's something i will always repurchase. it should cost you under £10 for a little bottle, but at 1/4 of the price of a facial it's 100% worth it in my opinion. i buy mine from my local health food shop, or you can get it on ebay too (in fact there seem to be loads of stockists) it should last from 6 months to 1 year depending on how often you use it; in the winter i use it very frequently but not so much in the summer months.
  12. sunscreen - bergasol bio is a french brand that i've only recently purchased, but i love - i'm a little confused about sunscreen at the moment, i think i'd rather just be outside for half an hour every day, not in midday sunshine than slather chemicals, super expensive or gloopy organic stuff all over me to roast in the sun. but for those days where it's totally necessary to be outside in the sun for long times, i just find the highest factor, thinnest running, most natural sunscreen - and that's pretty difficult. i'll keep you posted on this one.
i love naturally thinkings range of make your own products, if you hadn't noticed! you can buy things in bulk which makes it a lot cheaper...£10 for 1 whole litre of rose floral water, that is amazing!

you may also have noticed that i love ebay for buying produce, but that's because it's such a convenient way for people to sell to you, that there's lots of stuff available...and at discount, because the sellers seem to buy in bulk so they can reduce prices. but be careful to choose sellers wisely, if they don't have 100% satisfactory reviews, give them a miss.

do you like cheaper, simpler products? or do you prefer to splash out on more expensive branded products?

have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

and it ends with lemon ricotta spelt pancakes

so here's the rest of my culinary adventures of last week:

i think i ate a bowl of apples with peanut butter almost every day - it's like the best combination of salty and sweet that there ever was or will be!

herbed tofu slices on toast with hummus, salad and runner bean chutney

homemade yogurt with maple syrup, almond slices and goji berries

mum's roast dinner - my brother and his wife came over and mum was so looking forward to cooking for them, she doesn't believe in taking ages to cook something (like i do) but her food is always really tasty!

GU brownies with elmlea cream and fresh raspberries - deliciously divine and oh so naughty!

a perfect breakfast of...

bircher muesli! grated apple, yogurt, muesli, cinnamon, lemon juice - mixed together this is soo nice (even though i didn't leave mine to soak overnight)

alissa's banana split - banana, leftover cream, melted dark chocolate and raisins - it was good, and a vaguely healthier way to finish off all that cream from the day before.

when in doubt, roast some root vegetables, they will never disappoint, and serve it with a tofu salad for a little bit of protein

and if you're still hungy at the end of any day, whip up some lemon and ricotta spelt pancakes to satisfy your stomach (especially after a long day at the allotment!)

i'm hoping to get a book review done for you all soon...and perhaps even a recipe or two!

have a great day!

currently listening to: i gotta feeling by the black eyed peas

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

vita organic london

so, when i went to london i tried out vita organic, and i am so in love with the place. it's healthy and (here's the best part) affordable!

i got a plate for £6 which you could then fill up as high as you dare with food from the buffet. though next time i go i might get some of the dishes behind the counter instead (just to try them out!) it's all organic, natural, no processed or refined anything, no meat, and little/no dairy. it's really just rather amazing! i loved how busy it was, and how many people came in to eat there.

there were several guys who came in to eat by themselves, who managed to fit a ridiculous amount on their plates...i wish i was that daring...but i did pretty well anyway! the only problem with the store is that it's pretty squished, like literally 'please can you excuse me whilst i get out' squished - although i didn't mind i think the guy that had to move kinda did. but i guess a small space helps to keep the price down, so i can't complain!

here's what i had:

and then after we had eaten there, we went across to wholefoods and each picked up a conscious bar (serious yum) and an organic sparkling elderflower drink:

how healthy and energetic were we feeling after all of this? super duper hero healthy! we literally walked around london for a good eight hours...without getting tired at all!

next time you are in london make sure you check out:
 - abercrombie and fitch = 3 male models in the entrance, need i say more?
 - anthropologie - for it's amazing quirkiness, and it's ability to make me buy something almost every time i go in
 - green park or hyde park, or actually any london park is a must see, they are quiet and peaceful and a chance to saunter instead of stride
 - harrods food hall - is insanely wonderful! there's food bars as well as counters, and basically the best quality anything you could want to eat, how fantastic (ps. the point is not necessarily to buy anything, it's more about the general visual spendour!)

i'll make sure to bring back more tips when i'm in london next!

have a lovely day!

Monday, 19 April 2010

it starts with chocolate cake

the last week has been amazing! we've started work on our new allotment, and we've already put in potatoes, raspberries, strawberries, rhubarb and buckwheat. i've also potted the courgette, aubergine, beans and tomatoes! i can't wait for their little shoots to start appearing, so we can plant them outside.

plus, i've started my beginner's pilates class, which i love! so i'm really getting a lot of fresh air and exercise in ways that are productive and enjoyable.

it helps that england has been hot and sunny over the last few days...everyone is smiling and happy, and it's meant that i haven't spent so much time on my computer, which is great, as i feel a lot less stressed when i've had some time off it! i'm thinking of implementing a no-computer day on a thursday to force me into 1. being more productive on all other days and 2. getting a little perspective and rest. plus there's loads of stuff i could do on those days, reading, researching, cooking, filming, creating, walking, allotmenting. do you have a specific no-computer day?

on monday i had the most amazing shopping experience - i literally went into Waitrose, my favorite store ever, and picked up whatever i wanted and placed it in my trolley. literally, i didn't count the cost as i was going, i didn't debate whether we could or couldn't afford it, i just added it if i felt like it. yes, i know, a complete luxury extravagance, but we had extra money in our food account because we've been on holiday, and strangely enough it came to just under the amount we had in there!

the week's also been filled with exciting new recipes and different foods (actually it's been pretty decadent):

♥ i made a gluten and (mostly) dairy free chocolate cake using this recipe, for my friend Lizzie's birthday, it went down pretty well actually, even though the consistency was pretty unusual!

♥ carob oiaj - really delicious, and i had been looking forward to this for ages!

lemon and ricotta spelt pancakes from miss dahl's voluptuous delights cookbook - highly, highly recommended for their lightness of texture and perfection of flavour

kale salad (massaged kale with olive oil and organic mayonnaise, added chopped bell peppers and tomatoes) with herbed organic tofu - my first proper tofu experience, and it was really really good! i've never understoof tofu as a meat replacement (like in the shapes of burgers, bacon or hotdogs), but for it's own sake i do get it, just simple chopped block of tofu.

butter bean and vegetable stew with toast - i simple soaked some butter beans overnight, then added most of the vegetables in my fridge with them to a slow cooker, added a little red wine, spices, salt, pepper, and leave it for 24 hours to really infuse all the flavours.

honey flapjack from the sophie dahl book, (done correctly this time - this is a half mix) it was THE BEST part of my culinary week, it reminds me of my grandmother. it was sticky, sweet, crunchy and filling - plus no sugar, wheat or dairy!

mum's been asking for an avocado fan ever since we came back from france - and she received one finally! i also made a very dodgy milk-free dauphinoise with kale - that'll need some practice, even though it tasted pretty good. and we also had some pate in the fridge from the deli counter in waitrose (it was on special)

whole wheat cinnamon french toast spread with whortleberry jam - i love starting the day this way!

there's a thousand more photos to come though from last i went  up to london to catch up with one of my uni friends, and we ate out somewhere pretty amazing, that i think you'll all find pretty awesome!

have a great day! catch up with you soon...

currently listening to: revelry by kings of leon

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

french delicacies

we really did overdose on sweets whilst we were there, i think a last hurrah after easter before settling into a more sensible eating plan for summer! but perhaps it's just that the french desserts are far more interesting and have had a lot more time and energy put into them, and you've a pretty good shot of the baker actually having handmade them too, which makes a massive difference!

anyways, here's more photos from our delicious trip to villefranche:

tarte au citron - a lemon meringue tart in the tearooms at the rothschild villa in st jean cap ferrat

green tea with mint - a new and exciting discovery, they had this at our hotel too, but you could definitely tell the difference between the quality of both, expensive green tea tastes clean not fuzzy

the tearooms are in what was the former dinner hall (i believe) which overlooks the coast and is extremely tall and impressive, and gold.

♥ breakfast in the hotel was fairly standard, lots of sugary things, carbs and proteins. if i ever get a hotel of my own, or a b&b, i will definitely make the best breakfasts ever..! i definitely appreciate a good breakfast... do you remember the sydney french toast with bacon and banana? i pretty much think about it every other day!

♥ lunch from the bakery - goats cheese baguette and some apples (golden delicious for me, russet for mum), they really fill the baguettes in france - ours was wedged full of goats cheese, yum!

profiteroles at a local restaurant, the kind all the locals go to because it serves the food of their grandmothers, is served by their neighbours in everyday clothes and has no fancy decor. they were pretty standard profiteroles - after you've eaten the ones my mum makes, none will ever live up to it! i'm definitely thinking about trying to make some of these little bad boys

so that's all the photos i have of our trip (assuming you saw yesterday's post!), we had a really good time, and next time we go there i think we'll go out for breakfast instead of eating at the hotel...and perhaps go to the market to get paella for lunch on saturday, and probably eat more avocadoes from the local grocers, mmm.

if you've not read eat, pray, love yet, i highly recommend it. mum brought it with her on holiday, and i kept stealing it from her to catch up, it's that good! it's being made into a movie starring julia roberts too, which should be out soon, i can't wait to see it.

currently listening to: just for tonight by one night only