Bake yourself warm: fruity soda bread recipe

There are two things I’m dreaming of right now to keep me warm this chilly, snowy Friday afternoon.

First a steaming bowl of soup for lunch to keep those chills at bay and then some homemade bread. Baking bread always ensures a warm, cosy hug permeates my kitchen. This recipe for fruity soda bread is a teatime treat delicious with a steaming mug of tea.  As much as I enjoy making yeasted bread, soda-bread is much more instantly gratifying, as you can have warm bread on the table within an hour or so and it’s perfect to whip up on the fly if you have friends over for brunch on the weekend.

Although Christmas and all its spicy fruity glamour is a distant memory, a simple fruit loaf with a sprinkling of spice is always spot on comfort food, whatever the season.  For a gluten-free version just switch the flour for gluten-free flour and gluten-free oats. Traditionally soda bread calls for buttermilk or yogurt, which I don’t have in generally as I usually stick with dairy free products. I find the soya milk or Kara Coconut milk works a treat and ideal if you are dairy intolerant.  I don’t give exact amounts of fruit and nuts this can be up to you and depend what you have in the cupboard. I made a really nice spelt loaf earlier in the week with walnuts and apricots (about 50gs of each).

 FRUITY SODA BREAD

300g Wholemeal flour

150g fine milled Oats or oat flour (grind oats in a blender to a fine texture)

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp salt

Small handful of walnuts

Small handful of raisins

Small handful of prunes, chopped

Small handful of linseeds and sesame seeds

1 tsp cinnamon

350mls dairy free milk (or buttermilk)

Turn the oven on to preheat to 220 degrees.

Line your chosen baking tin (either a regular loaf tin or an 18cm round cake tin works well).

Mix the flour, baking powder, oats, cinnamon and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Mix in the nuts and dried fruit. Next pour the milk into the dry ingredients, then mix together well, but don’t overwork. You should have a wet dough.

Transfer dough into the lined tin, it can be nice to sprinkle some extra oats or small seeds on top. Score the loaf along the length (or make a cross on a round loaf). This makes for a professional appearance and it also aids in the cooking process.

Place in the oven at 220 degrees, after 15mins reduce the oven to 200 degrees and cook for a further 30mins. The loaf is ready when it is nicely colored and risen and should sound hollow when you tap it underneath.

 

 

 

Ways to beat ‘the munchies’!

We are all taken over by an attack of ‘the munchies’ from time to time; don’t let cravings take over and ruin all your good intentions, learn how to take action and gain back control:

Eating meals that work to stabilise your blood sugar will ensure you are satisfied for longer and less likely to grab snacks to boost your energy or mood. Choose wholegrain carbohydrates over refined ‘white’ versions and make sure each meal has some protein and a small amount of fat to keep you satisfied and stable. A leafy salad alone doesn’t cut it for long, you may think you are being ‘good’ but make it a bit more substantial. Try adding quinoa, brown rice, beans and lentils or some clean lean protein such as oily fish. Adding avocado, nuts and seeds also adds vital nutrients and satiating essential fats and makes for a more exciting salad.

Eating a high fibre diet keeps us fuller for longer and helps to turn off those hunger hormones in the stomach that can fuel cravings. Staying fully hydrated is also important as dehydration can often manifest as hunger. Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables which provide fibre and also some hydration, particularly high water content vegetables such as cucumbers.

Learn the art of mindful eating: make sure your brain is fully engaged with what you are putting into your mouth. It might sound obvious but how often do you eat while doing other things? So eat slowly, chew well and be happy!

Cravings can be the body’s way of trying to tell us something is missing. You may be eating a lot of food, but are you really nourished or does your diet contain a lot of calorie dense, but nutrient deficient choices? If you are struggling to know where to make changes to improve your diet, why not get in touch with me and learn how to get Supernourished?

Have a deliciously healthy weekend!

My shopping basket top 20

Planning a shopping trip this weekend and wondering what you might need to see you through the working week? My tip is to keep a permanent list of the weekly staples that form the core of your regular recipes and snacks. This helps to take the guesswork out of what you need to stock up on when you are shopping and ensures you always have something in the pantry or fridge to create a healthy meal.

I also recommend honing 2-3 ‘signature’ dishes that can be built from your core list (such as my quinoa super salad in last weeks’ post) to take the stress out what to have for dinner. Most simple supper recipes are flexible and can be tweaked according to what you have in the fridge; I don’t think I ever make the same dhal twice, but they all start out from the same core ratios of a cup of lentils + water and a chopped onion.

Wondering what my list looks like? Here are my top 20 regular shopping basket items that I always keep stocked up on:

1. Lemons: morning lemon juice and water. Also for making salad dressings

2. Onions: to form the base of soups and stews

3. Garlic: to add to salad dressings, soups and stews

4. Chilli: peps up soups, stews and dressings and also good in a spicy smoothie

5. Ginger: juice it or use it to add a gentle aromatic heat to curries and soups

6. Herbs: parsley, mint and basil: for packing a flavour punch to every meal

7. Avocados: this nutritious fruit makes a perfect snack and a delicious dip. You can also make an amazing chocolate mousse!

8. Organic cucumbers and carrots: great for juicing, salads and snacking

9. Seasonal fruits: for snacking and easy desserts

10. Brown rice: the perfect wholefood carbohydrate staple

11. Quinoa: a great protein rich seed for making super-salads

12. Tinned chick peas: for making homemade hummus, quick salads and throwing in stews

13. Lentils: the key ingredient to a comforting bowl of dhal

14. Almonds: great for snacking on and also for making homemade almond milk

15. Walnuts: great snack food, rich in omega 3, delicious salad topping toasted or raw

16. Pumpkin Seeds: for snacking and sprinkling on salads

17. Flax Seeds: aim for 3 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds per day, sprinkle on porridge or salads or add to smoothies

18. Olive oil: for heart healthy salad dressings

19. Herbal tea and green tea: for harmonious hydration

20. Dark chocolate: minimum 70% for a square or two of indulgence!

What’s in your basket?

 

5 Keys To Achieving Optimal Energy

One extremely common issue that I hear from clients and friends is that they are lacking energy. For many of us this is all too familiar as we lead busy lives juggling work, social and family commitments. Maybe you are dragging yourself out of bed in the morning; or you wake up feeling good but at some point during the day, you suddenly crash and lack any get up and go?

The question you might ask is, is it possible to wake up feeling energised and sustain that energy to allow you to get the most out of life? The answer is yes, it is possible if we invest some time in our wellbeing and think about nourishing and supporting our bodies on a holistic level. For me there are 5 keys areas to think about when trying to increase your energy levels and achieve the vitality you desire:

  1. Is your diet detrimental to your energy levels? Are you eating too many refined carbohydrates and relying on sugar and caffeine to get you through the day? Switching to a wholefood diet rich in complex carbohydrates, good sources of protein and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables is the best way to achieve sustained energy. Adequate hydration is also vital for combating fatigue, so keep an eye on your water intake, especially in the summer months.
  2. Taking control of stress is crucial otherwise low energy can turn into a chronic case of fatigue. From a nutritional point of view, stress will put a halt on digestion meaning that you may not be gaining the optimal amount of nutrients from the foods you are eating which will impact energy levels.
  3. Getting regular consistent exercise is also important to increase vitality. Something as simple as taking a 10 minute walk around the block after lunch can be extremely beneficial.
  4. It might sound obvious but ask yourself if you are getting enough quality sleep. Most of us get much less that the optimal 8 hours a night. Try for one early night at least one night a week and make it a relaxing evening, whatever that means for you.
  5. A sluggish digestive system in general can seriously affect energy levels; if you feel this could be something that affects you, it could be useful to work with a nutritional therapist to help improve your digestive health.

I wanted to share one of my top energy sustaining recipes with you for the weekend, my Quinoa Supersalad. I always keep quinoa in the cupboard and with the addition of a few fresh herbs and some seasonings this is a quick nourishing meal to have in your repertoire. It keeps brilliantly in the fridge for a day or two, makes a great packed lunch and is fantastic made in bigger quantities to feed a crowd. To this base recipe I can recommend complementing it with some crumbled feta cheese to really ramp up the Mediterranean summer vibe.

If you enjoy this recipe and want to know more, you might be interested in my culinary nutrition workshop ‘Summer Radiance’ which is happening on Saturday the 18th of August in London. I’ll be talking in more depth about achieving optimal energy and demonstrating a whole range of vitality inducing foods. Find out more here.

Quinoa Supersalad

1 cup quinoa

1 450 tin of chick peas, rinsed and drained

1 large bunch of parsley, chopped

1 small bunch of mint, chopped

2 spring onions, chopped

3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds

Dressing: mix 2 tablespoons of olive oil with the juice of one lemon, one crushed garlic clove and a pinch of salt

Cook the quinoa as per the packet instructions and allow to cool. Once the quinoa is cool mix in the rest of the ingredients and the dressing and season to taste.

 

Natural approaches to ageing

What we take in on the inside, how well our body is functioning and lifestyle factors are all crucial to maintaining youthfulness and vibrancy as we age.

I gave a talk on this at The Little Escape on Saturday and here are three of the diet and lifestyle actions I shared for staying naturally youthful and vibrant:

  • Eat a diet high in antioxidant rich fruit and vegetables: combating the effects of oxidation in the body helps to fight damage. Make sure you get at least 1-2 portions of chlorophyll rich green leafy vegetables per day to really give you that youthful glow. Green up your fruit smoothies by adding a large handful of baby spinach or other leafy greens and eat a large green salad each day.
  • Reduce stress: stress leads to premature ageing. Consider what you can do to reduce stress in your life, make sure you are exercising regularly and finding a way to relax that works for you.
  • Balance your blood sugar with a low glycaemic diet: uncontrolled blood sugar causes damage to protein in the skin which can lead to wrinkles.

If you would like to find out more about how to achieve natural radiance, sign up for my newsletter and be the first to hear about classes, workshops and events focused on natural health, beauty and wellness.