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Isn’t it great to indulge in wonder Christmas treats! Unfortunately most of them are what I would class as super unhealthy, but there is a way to indulge without feeling quite so guilty – plus some of these treats deliver a lot of nutrients that help balance up the ‘bad’ side of indulging.
There is no escape from the fact that even healthier treats contain sugar and fat, or lets face it they just wouldn’t be treats!

The little bit healthier Christmas Cake

Christmas cake 2012In this cake there is less sugar, and no white sugar. Only molasses, Rapa Dura and some dried fruit – all packed with minerals and vitamins. I have use sulphate free and organic dried fruit so less toxins, and spelt and Kamut flower – less gluten and easier to digest grain. I have used the icing for decoration only and not to eat, and no high fat, high sugar marzipan.

Ingredients

Icing

Ready to roll white icing, Silver or pearl balls
Decorations-I bought these in a gift shop but there are so many to choose from

Or you can just make lots of snowballs from the ready-made icing and build a snowman scene on the cake on the cake.

Cake

200grams Spelt whole grain flour
200grams white spelt flour (or you can substitute flour with coconut flour, potato flour and any other gluten free flour – the texture will be slightly different and may be heavier)
320grams soft organic butter, or goat’s butter6 x large eggs whisked
3 x large tablespoons black strap molasses
100grams molasses sugar, raw cane or Rapa Dura sugar
200grams soft (or soaked) de-stoned dates
2 x cups Sultanas
100gram or one pack of glace cherries – optional
Rind of 2 x organic oranges (needs to be organic for the rind)
Juice of the oranges
Rind of 1 x organic lemon
3 x large handfuls of pumpkin seeds, Almonds or Walnuts
Half a standard pack of ground cinnamon
Half a standard pack of mixed spices
2 x teaspoons of baking powder
Optional: Splash of brandy

Directions

Soak the dried fruit in the juice from the lemon and orange. Peel the oranges and lemon right back to the actual fruit inside so you get all the pith – this contains major antioxidants. Put the peel into a blender or food processor and pulse the power carefully until the bits are small but not too small. This can be chopped too.
Take the dates and prunes and blend in a food processor or chop by hand, add two-thirds of the pumpkin seeds semi blend so not too smooth.
Pre-heat the oven to 175 degrees (this lower heat will still cook all of it, but does less damage to the fats – which is vital as damaged fats are detrimental to health.
Cream the butter, sugar and molasses syrup together. Then add the whisked eggs and mix in, add the flour a third at a time along with baking powder and spices.
Add the blended fruit mixture and mix in, you can add the juice of the oranges to create more moisture. Add the orange and lemon peel, along with the glace cherries sultanas and the rest of the pumpkin seeds.
Lastly add the brandy and mix in.

Place in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on your oven being a fan one or conventional. Dip a skewer in the middle to check if cooked, if not uncooked cake mixture will appear on the skewer (or sharp knife) When cooked take out of the tin and turn upside down onto a grill or something where it can breath

When it is completely dry and cooled, you can use ready rolled or roll out the white icing place on the top and cut with a knife all the way around leaving the sides free or you can cover the whole cake – it’s up to you. Decorate as you wish.

Delicious Mince Pies with  a Healthier Bite

Below is a recipe for you to make healthier minces pies (Meaning less sugar and more minerals). They are so easy to make and really delicious, everyone I have tried them on has loved them.Mince pies 2012

You will need a cooking tin with the correct size wholes for mince pies

Ingredients

Pastry

150 grams Whole grain or white spelt wheat flour
150 grams Kamut flour (creates a slightly crisper pastry- plus very low gluten)
2 x tspns of cinnamon
2 x dessert spoons of Rapa Dura, molasses or raw cane sugar

Filling

2 x large handfuls of soft dates
2 x handfuls of apricots or figs
1 x handful organic sultanas
2 x grated rind of un-waxed preferably organic oranges plus the juice of one of the oranges
(use large-holed grater to get the white pith – this contains health promoting antioxidants)
1 x grated rind of un-waxed preferably organic lemon + juice
2 x teaspoonfuls of ground cinnamon
1 x small teaspoon of coconut butter (optional – it is better than the normal suet that is used)

Other options: Dried Cranberries, Almonds. Walnuts, Blueberries.

A little Rapa Dura or raw can sugar to sprinkle over top before serving

Directions

Mixture

Soak all dried fruit in water for approx an hour. Using a blender or food processor (or chop finely) put all ingredients for the filling together and blend in short bursts – don’t blend for too long or it will have no texture

PastryMince pie

Rub the flour together with the butter in a mixing bowl, until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs (or use food processor) add the molasses or Rapa Dura sugar and the cinnamon mix in thoroughly. Add a little water a bit at a time whilst kneading into a dough. When the dough is no longer crumbly spread some flour onto a work surface and place dough in the middle. Kamut flour is good for rolling: Cover a rolling-pin in flour and roll out dough. Roll out until approx 3mm deep. 

Using a larger cutter and a smaller cutter – depending on the size of your cooking tray (or two different sized glasses) cut out the rounds of pastry and place the bigger one in the tray ready for the mixture.

Place these in a preheated oven (160 degrees) to semi cook the base – for 5-8 minutes

Place the mixture is inside each cooked pastry cup and place the smaller one on top and squeeze down at the sides. You can make little festive leaves out of the left over pastry. Moisten the back before sticking on the smaller round as the lid. Place in oven at 160 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Sprinkle with a little Rapa Dura sugar when cooked

These pies contain lots of minerals, fibre and much less processed sugar, carbohydrates and fats than shop bought or some other homemade ones.

But best of all they taste SOOO much nicer!!

Healthier Sausage Rolls – with Christmas flavour Sausage roll turkey

Ingredients for Turkey Sausages

1 x 400gram pack of Turkey thigh mince
2 x red onions or 2 x medium leeks
Freshly chopped sage and / or thyme
Olive oil
Pinch of pink salt and black pepper

Pastry

200 grams of white spelt flour100 grams of kamut flour
Virgin olive oil
1 x tspn of pink salt
2 x dessert spoons of ground or chopped or dried rosemary (option)

Directions

Place flour and oil in a large mixing bowl or food processor, Use fingers or food processor to mix olive oil into flour until it becomes like breadcrumbs (pour a little oil in at a time – you will need approx half a cup, but if it seems dry add more. Add some water ( a small amount at a time) until the mixture becomes a dough. separate the dough into 2 or three sections as it will be easier to roll out.
Sprinkle flour on to a work top and roll out pastry, cut uneven edges off to re-roll later on and cut into strips of pastry according to how big you want you end product to be.

Filling

Place turkey thigh mince into a food processor or blender with the onion, herbs and seasoning, add a little olive oil. (You can add a little flour, ground oats to thicken the mixture – or potato flour -optional) Blend until it becomes quite smooth.Spoon the mixture onto the pastry strips and roll up, you can seal with a little water or egg.

Cook in a preheated oven of 170 degrees

Vegetarian Option – filling

Use Lots of Portobello Mushrooms, blended with onion, egg, sage and seasoning. Thicken with flour.

Turkey and Sage balls

You can easily make these with the same ingredients for the turkey sausage roll filling, take some of the mixture, roll into  medium-sized balls place them on a greased tay and sprinkle with olive oil – cook in oven for 20 – 25 minutes depending on the size. They make delicious finger food at parties.

 

Merry Christmas! & a Happy Healthy New Year

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Date Brownies

These are delicious alternative to high sugar brownies in shops. Dates are the only sweetener in them, They are particularly good because even though they are a fruit sugar they contain a lot of soluble fibre and this helps slow the release of glucose and keep blood sugar stable. Soluble fibre also slows the absorption of cholesterol, and helps make soft healthy stools causing less the irritation that insoluble fibre may cause.

Dates can be used as a snack as they increase the feeling of satiety, which may help to suppress appetite, so help in weight loss if eaten in moderation. These are a great treat for kids as they contain many nutrients and are high in protein.

Dates also contain B Vitamins, Potassium, iron, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus. The high mineral content makes it an ideal food to make treats that can replace the empty sugar products that are given to so many children and the ones that people reach for in the afternoon when they experience a dip in energy.

They are also high in antioxidants and can be disease protective as they protect against damaged fats.

Examples to buy:

http://www.healthysupplies.co.uk/organic-dates-sussex-wholefoods.html

http://www.crazyjack.co.uk/product/id/4#

Many super markets and health stores sell great products – always check ingredients that there is no added sugar or vegetable oil and avoid dates with added sugar.

Recipe

100grams of soft Goat’s butter

100grams of pitted soft organic dates

3 x organic eggs

2-3 x cups of whole grain spelt flour (I use Doves Farm or Sharpham Park)

3 x teaspoons of cinnamon

1 pinch of Baking powder

Place butter and dates in a food processor or use hand blender to make smooth (or you will need to chop finely and mix into the butter by hand)

Add the eggs and blend, add all the flour, cinnamon and baking powder mix in.

Place in a small shallow butter baking tin (about 10” x 6” and approx 1.5-2” deep)

Cook in a pre-heated oven at 160 degrees for 20 minutes, or until browned slightly and firm)

You can replace Spelt flour for gluten-free flour if you are avoiding all gluten.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dates are high in fruit sugar so should be avoided if you have a Candida
overgrowth or are on a sugar-free diet.

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There’s no escaping sweet things at Easter. It’s a time when we all give ourselves permission to eat treats – ‘it’s Easter  – I have to eat chocolate!’, my daughter tells me. Luckily I have trained them to
make their chocolate eggs last until the summer, they don’t have as
sweet a tooth as most children down to my careful
manipulation of their taste buds.

No matter how much the press reports that ‘Chocolate will make you thin’. It cannot – it’s simply untrue in the over processed, fatty, sugary products that most people think of as chocolate. Many products only contain a small amount of cocoa. It’s the high cocoa percentage bars (and I will mention one in particular: Lindt 90% Cocoa – my favourite rationed square) that can be healthy in moderate amounts due to the antioxidants the concentrated chocolate contains. There is far less sugar in them and no dairy. Fair trade dark chocolate is even better because it’s healthier for the environment and the farmers, communities and workers who grow the cocoa bean.

It is hard to appreciate very dark chocolate when you are so used to tasting sickly sweet chocolate. Weaning yourself off is simple, you have to go without chocolate for a while and then only allow yourself dark chocolate for at least 3 months. By the time you try milk chocolate again, you most likely will find it way too sweet.

Using raw cocoa nibs in anything from cereals, biscuits, salads
add a nutty crunchy texture.

I used semi ground cocoa nibs (in coffee grinder) to create the
crunchy shell of these non-dairy chocolates. With the same recipe you can make some really sophisticated chocolate eggs. If you melt the coconut oil
prior to adding it to the cocoa powder it will make the chocolate firmer. Just shape into egg shapes, bigger or smaller, they will work
just as well.

Healthier Chocolates – Recipe

6 Teaspoons of Coconut Butter
3 x teaspoons of Cocoa powder
1 teaspoon of Molasses Syrup
1 teaspoon of Manuka honey (or other set honey)
2/3 heaped tablespoons of puffed quinoa (from health food store) OPTIONAL – this creates more volume and fewer calories

2 x dessert spoons of coarsely ground Cocoa Nibs (from health store)
OPTION: Add Cinnamon to spice them up, or cayenne pepper to give them a ‘bite’.
OPTION: Add ground almond
OPTION: To make even more healthy add: 1 teaspoon of barley grass powder

Directions

Place coconut butter in a bowl and gradually mix in the cocoa powder and barley grass into a paste, add molasses and honey and mix well. Add puffed quinoa to desired consistency, by adding this you are diluting the amount of fats and sugar in each chocolate. Use thin latex gloves when handing the mixture and  dust your fingers with cocoa powder to make the balls easier to roll – don’t use too much as it needs to remain sticky to roll in the ground cocoa nibs. When finished store in an air tight container in the fridge.

Impress your friends! They make great petite fours after dinner.

Note: These contain caffeine, so avoid if you are on a caffeine free diet, or at night if the caffeine can keep you awake.

 

Easter Biscuits a la FoodSpa – Recipe

These Easter Biscuits contain a high nutrient dense sugar which is better than
the white nutrient lacking over sweet, health damaging rubbish that 99% of recipes use.

They are made from organic Spelt wheat flour, this has less heavy metals and pesticides and is easier to digest than normal flour. I have used part white part whole grain, but you can use all whole grain if you wish, it will make the them a bit more crumbly.
Cardamom has similar properties to cinnamon and ginger – it acts to help calm an improve digestion.
I have used goat’s butter, but you can use any butter. even though these are healthier than shop bought highly sugared
and processed biscuits – they still contain sugar  fats and grains. I recommend eating in moderation only.

Healthier Easter Biscuits

Makes approx 24 depending on required size

250g of Goats butter
150g Rapa Dura Raw cane sugar
50g Manuka honey (or normal honey)
Third cup of Oat milk
2 x egg yolks
400g White and whole grain spelt flours

3 x heaped teaspoons mixed spice
3 pinches of ground cardamom (can grind the seeds in a coffee grinder)
2 x pinches of pink Himalayan salt ( can get in health stores)
Options:
Grate an organic lemon or orange and add rind to mixture.
Add raisins or sultanas

Directions

Place butter and sugar in food processor, or mix by hand, Add honey, milk and egg yolks – mix in well. Add flour 100g at a time
and mixing in. Add Spice, Cardamom and salt Prepare 2 large oven trays with grease proof paper. The dough will be soft and slightly buttery,
take a desert spoon full and roll between palms into a ball, lay onto the paper on the tray and flatten with your palm or a small plate.
You can make the fork marks or patterns now. Place in a preheated oven at 165 C for 15 minutes (longer if the biscuits are thick)
Leave to cool and harden.

Happy Easter!

 

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It may surprise you to know that you can warm yourself up without heating, extra clothes or a big cosy fire.

There are some magical foods that really can affect your circulation and warmth both internally and externally – AND at the same time have wonderful health benefits.

As I write I am sitting here in my cold study (I refuse to heat the whole house just for me) with a mug of piping hot water, slices of fresh ginger and a teaspoon of cinnamon. It is delicious and every mouthful I can feel warming my tummy and gradually spreading through my body.
It will take a bit longer to reach my toes, but there’s a remedy for that: powdered ginger in my socks! I tried it a while ago not realizing it is actually quite an old tradition and lots of people around the world do it. You can also put cayenne pepper in your socks and its keep feet toasty warm. The added benefit is that both are antiviral and antibacterial – so guess what – it keeps your feet clean too. Just make sure you wash it off your hands and don’t touch your eyes.

Ginger

An amazing spice, with such an unusual appearance as it is the root of the Ginger plant that is used. It is an ancient spice and has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years.

It is a ‘vasodilator’, which means it dilates blood vessels making more capacity for blood flow; hence it’s ability to improve circulation. As well as this it is a hot aromatic spice, which means it increases digestive fire, or heat in the stomach, which eventually radiates through the body, with increased circulation the heat can flow more freely.

You can use the same sliced ginger for 3 or 4 drinks; just keep filling up with hot water.
Adding ginger to any foods increases the warming effect – even a cold salad can be ‘heated’ up with a dressing made from fresh ginger, apple cider vinegar and olive oil.

Ginger has many other health benefits, which I shall post at a later date.

Cinnamon

This spice has been around and used for so many years; the Ancient Egyptians used to value it more than gold. It has been used as medicine for so long that it is even mentioned the bible. Quite rightly so, it is a wonderful spice that has a beautiful aroma and flavour and has some magical health benefits.

It stimulates metabolism so you burn more calories, which causes more heat.
It also has a warming nature and added to any foods increases the
warmth of the dish.
Add a spoonful to your porridge or cereal, put it in hot chocolate or mix it with honey and make a delicious spread for toast or crackers.
You can also put the honey
mix straight into hot water for
a warming sweet tea.

Cinnamon has a healthy influence on blood sugar and
cholesterol levels too.

 

Cloves

Another ancient spice, which has been used medicinally for 2000 years.
It has pain relief qualities along with anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.
A warming spice too – hence why it’s used in mulled wine for the winter nights.
Drop a few cloves into an herbal tea and it will create more warmth as well as flavour.

Cayenne pepper (now we’re talking warmth)

Cayenne pepper is a fantastic warming spice, the more you can tolerate the warmer you will be, but even just a little can make you glow.
This spice can warm you up in winter and cool you down in summer.
It speeds up metabolism, which burns more calories, which as you know by know creates more heat.
It stimulates digestion – building up the furnace inside.

You can add this to anything, it is so practical.
I love sprinkling it on top of a mug of soup, adding some heat to a hot pot or stir-fry. I eat lots of raw cabbage salads even through the winter – my sesame and kale salad with butterbeans is deliciously warming with a cayenne pepper and ginger dressing.

The added extras of cayenne are its antioxidant properties, Regular consumption increases the resistance of blood lipids to oxidative damage by free radicals- which translates as ‘helps keep blood clean’.

All of the above breathe energy and heat into your circulation which is why they are so warming, they thin the blood and make it easier for nutrients to get to tissues, which is why they can help in disease and sickness too.

Other delicious ‘Heaters’ are:

Horseradish
Yellow mustard
Wasabi
Black pepper

Look out for my next post on Foods and Nutrients to Fight a cold once you’ve caught one.

Please NOTE: If you are taking blood thinning medications, please check with your health care provider before consuming large amounts of the above.

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