Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Addiction

I'm not gonna write much about this. I'm just gonna let you try it for yourselves. I don't think that many people have to be convinced to make something chocolatey. Especially Nutella. You usually just see it and run to the kitchen and start jumping up and down in anticipation yelling oh my god while the ingredients are whizzing away in the blender.



Or at least that's what I do...



A word of warning... First of all. This is ridiculously addictive. Like insanely so. I think we should have a competition to see how long we can make our batch last. This makes a lot. Like 3 jars. Mine are pretty small though. 



Second of all. Keep this in the fridge. It will spoil if you don't. You should consume it within 3 days or so. Though I doubt that's going to be a problem.


Try and use tofu with a very neutral flavour. Some tofu is kind of tangy. It makes the nutella taste like its got alcohol. Not that that's a bad thing. But if you want a classic sweet and creamy nutella try and get silken tofu or tofu that is ages away from it's best before date.

Liquid Crack Nutella


Ingredients:

  • 200g hazelnut butter.
  • 250g tofu
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 10 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup soya milk

1. Put all the ingredients in the blender except the soya milk. Blend and add the soya milk slowly until it reaches desired consistency.

Paradise

More things I love about summer....

1. Ice cold showers. Better for the enviorment and so much more refreshing. Plus they're a lot easier to get out of. I don't have to count to 60 like I do in winter before I brace myself for the icy air. Just ten more seconds please!

2. My fit flops. (A definite tie between these babies and my aasics in terms of life changing footwear.) Seriously folks. Best investment you'll ever make. You'll never turn back. Sometimes I even wear them in December. I could definitely see myself buying some of their winter footwear.

3. Smoothies for breakfast. Like this bad boy...

4. Hearing radios play everywhere. Paradise by coldplay definitely up there as one of my fav tunes on the radio at the moment.



So anyway... Shall we get down to the good stuff? This summer I want to step out of my comfort zone. In everything. Sometimes it'll be big things. Sometimes it'll be little things. They say that every day you should do something that you're afraid of.



So today it was a little thing. Almost without fail I will put a banana in my smoothie. Every single time. It just adds a creamy texture and sweetness that I crave in a smoothie. However it's also a very dominant flavour and doesn't really give much room for the other ingredients to shine.



So today it was beautiful and sunny and the birds were singing and I decided to whip myself up a big bag smoothie to start the day. A nice shiny pink lady was sitting in my fruit bowl along with a so-ripe-its-almost-creamy red pear. And a big container of frozen blueberries in my fridge. Hmmm....



I thought it sounded almost like an apple pie smoothie. With very autumnal kinda fruits... I went to the fridge in search of natural yogurt for added tang and creaminess... Only to discover that my ''black hole'' of a teenaged brother had eaten the whole carton. Yeah that tends to happen to all the chocolate, bread, cereal and yogurt in the house. It lasts maybe... a day... I'd love to see my brothers lifetime muesli consumption poured into a skip. Like that thing Jamie Oliver did on the food revolution when he poured all the sugar that kids consumed from their chocolate milk into the schoolbus. Oh Jamie...



Anyway. I had soya yogurt so I used that instead. Just added a bit of lemon juice for that tang. And of course Sun Warrior. This stuff is a must. I still think its disgusting on its own but it adds a useful sweetness and thickness to smoothies not to mention a whooping 17g protein per scoop. Win!



I always make so much damn smoothie! Not that I'm complaining. It just doesn't fit in one glass. Unless I use a pint glass... But thats a bit too weird. But I've come up with a solution that satisfies my hunger while I photography the smoothie. ;)



And of course stir ins are a must. It really turns the whole thing into a meal. I had to take a big old shlurp off the side of the glass before I could stir the toppings through because the whole thing was so fully loaded... 

Fully Loaded Apple, Pear and Blueberry Smoothie


Ingredients:

  • 1 big apple
  • 125g frozen blueberries
  • 1 juicy pear
  • 100g soya yogurt
  • 150ml soya milk
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 scoop sunwarrior vanilla protein powder
  • 4 chopped dates, handful of walnuts and some chopped apple to stir through.

Whizz the lot in your blender until silky smooth and top with dates, walnuts and apple :)

Monday, 28 May 2012

Scenes of Summer

The sun is burning all the pale freckly Irish people as she shines high in the sky. I'm getting cocky about not having to wear suncream because of my sallow skin and then burning anyway. It's now become acceptable to strip off to just your sports bra during training. It doesn't get dark until after 10 and I can stay up late because I don't even have to worry about school in the morning. Fresh produce is abundant and the birds are tweeting away cheerfully. Ladies and gentlemen today my summer holidays began for real but I feel like they started a week ago when the sun came out. Here are some scenes from my life, shots of the stuff I've really been loving :)

1. Chilling on the pier with the girls. One of my favourite places to walk and my go-to running route when I'm staying in my dads. Whether you're sitting or strolling it's a great place to people watch.



2. High intensity interval training and track races. Ok so I've always hated cross country races even though I do them anyway. I guess I like to be part of a team. But to be honest I never thought I'd wake up on a Saturday morning knowing that I would be doing 4x400m and 4x300m sprints in a few hours and actually not mind... It's great because no matter how far behind you are during the sprint everyone still chats and runs together during recovery. And don't even get me started on what a difference it makes for your running.


3. Whupping my brothers butt at chess. Because I'm competitive and nerdy. And it's funny because he gets really cocky. I must admit, however, that he is a worthy opponent. It's 2-2 so far folks. Keep an eye on that number ;)
Aaww... look at how timid he is. Bless him.


4. Taking photos of trees while lying on the ground. I guess it just makes me feel artsy. Everyone needs a little bit of nourishment of the soul as my mother might say. If upside down trees is how you get your kicks why not?


5. Chilling in the garden reading my book, drawing nature and getting an amazing tan. Just personal time for me myself and I :)


6. A big bad salad at least once a day. Absolutely drenched in organic balsamic vinegar from the farmers market. And fresh crusty bread dipped in homemade chunky basil pesto.



7. Stealing peoples hats so I can pose while wearing them. Perhaps I should invest in one?


8. Goofing around with my boiled eggs. They're my new lunching obsession.


9. When my dad bakes. Because I forget that I can. And it's a nice surprise when he does. He also resists the temptation to tweak the recipe. But only with baking. These muffins are from How Sweet It Is. All I have to say is nom nom nom nom. We swapped the glaze for flaked almonds.

  
10. My homemade nutella. Photographing it feels like food porn. This stuff is literally liquid crack. I horsed it through a whole jar in 2 days. Smothering some on my dads banana muffins when I am Hank Marvin post training... Oh my god. I was very brave and parted with my other two jars to share this ecstacy with friends. Recipe to come soon! :)






Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Culture

So we have a pretty good culture here in Ireland in terms of music, language, dance and literature. It may not be practiced by the majority of the country but coming from someone who attends an Irish speaking school, trust me, it's there! 


The one thing that we seriously lack however is good traditional food. In fact half of the food that we consider our traditional food is actually English! Pfft... that's what we get for being colonized for so many years.



As far as I'm concerned for the most part Irish food can only be described as an epic fail (excuse my teen lingo). I dunno about you guys but overcooked vegetables, boiled potatoes and the like just don't float my boat. I prefer to give my veggies a little bit more TLC ;)


OK so I feel kinda bad bitching about the food in my homeland! I guess we have improved a lot recently thanks to importation. Sure 50 years ago most people had never seen a banana before. We've really opened up to different cuisines and started getting busy in our kitchens thanks to young and inspiring Irish Chefs like Donal Skehan who have recently showed up on the scene.



I must confess, however, that I have a few Irish favourites. Brown bread just happens to be one of them. There is nothing like a good wedge of Irish brown bread dunked in steaming soup or slathered with peanut butter and rasberry jam. I'm aware that the later isn't exactly traditional! But I'm really picky about my brown bread, it has to be perfect! A deep dark colour, an intense morishness, a chewy crust and a fluffy, tight crumbed centre. Not many breads live up to this criteria. 



About 40% of the bread I make isn't really up to scratch. I can count of one hand the loaves of bread I have made that made me think ''wow this is great'' and I swear this is one of them. I'm a total bread snob so you can take my word for it. I actually have an ethos. If the bread isn't good enough to eat plain the bread isn't good enough to eat at all.



So without further ado I present you with the recipe for my new baby.

Spelt Treacle Brown Bread

Prep Time- 10 minutes

Cook Time- 1 hour

Ingredients:
  • 500g spelt flour
  • tablespoon baking powder
  • heaped teaspoon salt
  • tablespoon molasses 
  • 5 tablespoons of oats
  • 600ml soya milk
  • Seeds and oats to top
1. Put all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

2. Add the molasses and slowly stir the milk in until you've created a smooth batter.

3. Pour the mixture into a greased loaf tin and top with seeds and oats.

4. Bake in the middle of the oven at 200 degrees for 20 minutes and then lower the heat to 150 degrees and cook for another 40 minutes.

5. Remove from the oven and stick a knife in. If it comes clean the bread is ready. Allow to cool before removing from the tin.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Late Night Baking Bug

Because of the way my day goes school, training, chores I tend to be surfing blogs later in the day rather than earlier. It could be 10 o'clock when I spot something I absolutely have to make!



 When I doze off in class my mind usually drifts to what needs to be used up in the fridge. Once I start brainstorming theres no stopping me. It doesn't matter how interesting the class is, the teacher hasn't got a chance. By the time I get home I've usually got two or three recipes on my mind that I plan to make. I'm not saying they all get made and I usually make them in order of priority (dinner, lunch, treats) so I usually end up making the sweet stuff later on.



 It was my neighbour's birthday recently and I figured she was well due her cake (about a week late). I had cheesecake on the brain and a big block of firm cottage cheese in the fridge so I knew what it had to be.



Unfortunately I didn't have the pleasure of tasting the final product as I handed it over untouched. It was just too pretty to cut and I figured it's pretty rude to give someone a birthday cake with a piece missing!
Don't worry though, I did a good bit of taste testing as I assembled it!



In terms of health and speedy preparation conventional cheesecakes don't have a patch on this fellow. Cottage cheese is usually sold as a low fat product but please try and hunt down the full fat variety otherwise your filling will be too watery :( For a vegan option replace the honey with agave and the cottage cheese with firm tofu. I used manuka honey because I think its distinctive taste adds a little extra something to this cake but if you don't like it just use regular honey.


Manuka Honey, Lemon and Ginger Cheesecake


Prep Time- 15 minutes


Chill Time- 1 hour 30 minutes


Ingredients:

  • 225g full fat cottage cheese
  • 75g xylitol
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2 packs of oatcakes (12)
  • 5 tablespoons manuka honey
  • heaped teaspoon ginger

1. Pulse the oatcakes, honey and ginger in a food processor until it forms a 'biscuit base'. It should be coarse and crumbly but hold together if you press it together. Add more honey if you feel its not holding together enough.

2. Press the base into a small tin (preferably springform or flan, about 6 inches). 

3. Puree the cheese, xylitol and lemon zest in the blender. Add a little cornstarch if it needs thickening. Pour onto the base and put in the fridge to chill for 1-2 hours or until set.


Wednesday, 2 May 2012

One Pot Wonder

I am basically allergic to slow cook meals. They are my Mums favourite thing to cook seeing as they're so damn easy so lets just say I eat more than my fair share of slow cookers. They also, without fail, involve the same vegetables everytime. Sweet Potatoe. Pepper. Celery. And carrot. Without fail.



Don't get me wrong... One pot wonders that you can pop on the stove and go do your errands while waiting for them to cook are great. But not... every... single.... night. Which is why I tend to make dinners with a little more shape. Think burgers, wraps, etc. Something solid.
Well my mum has gone to India for five weeks to train to be a yoga teachers so as of today there's gonna be a big gap in my life that I must fill with stews and soups.



So in honour of her trip to India I whipped up this tasty curry for myself and Rosemary (My mums friend and trusted beautician who's looking after my brother tonight). It was the perfect comforting and nutritious dinner and all I had to do was chop everything up, chuck it in a pot and go about my business while it boiled away on the stove.



Bit of a change of subject but I had a great day at East Lenster track and field races today. Took 90 great photos and bagged myself a second place medal in the Intermediate 2000m walk. It was my first time doing the walk on track. I've always wanted to do it because I love power walking and I'm so glad I finally tried it because I really enjoyed it and it was nice to have an event that I managed to do well in on my first try! Tomorrow I'm running the 1500m and hoping to do it in under 6 minutes... :S



Back to the food! I loved the curry but I to be honest the socca that I made alongside didn't exactly knock my socks off. :( So I won't post that recipe until I perfect it. It was ok. But it could have been much better.


Fennel, Leek and Lentil Curry with Pak Choi

Makes 3-4 big helpings

Prep time: 5 minutes in the morning to prep veg and leave it to cook on the stove for the day. You could cook it on the hob for an hour instead. Add water as need.

Ingredients:
  • 400g diced tomatoes (I used fresh but tinned is ok)
  • 2 leeks diced
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 2 pak choi, cut to bitesided chunks
  • 2 stock cubes
  • 1/2 tablespoon cardamon pods
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon coriander
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • cashew nuts
  • fresh coriander or parsley
  • natural yogurt

1. Put the tomatoes, leek, lentils, stock cubes and spices in a pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Simmer at medium heat for 1 hour. The long cook time helps the flavours mingle and the lentils become saucy. Add water as needed.

2. Stir through pak choi and cook for 5 minutes.

3. Serve in bowls and garnish with fresh parsley or coriander, cashews and natural yogurt.



Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Protein Packed

Personally, I'm sick of being tired and sore after running. I mean exercise is meant to make you vibrant, healthy and energetic right? Not zombielike with bags under your eyes like a corpse and legs that drag like lead. I don't even consider myself to be someone who does an awful lot of exercise. I do a good bit but nowhere near the criteria that qualifies as overtraining. I run 4 days a week, usually logging about 20-26 miles. I also do some basic strength work. 



So If the problem wasn't overtraining then it could only be one thing... The dreaded phrase for all vegetarians....



.....Protein deficiency.
Dun dun dun.



I must have really been in denial about this. Otherwise I would have purchased my new Sunwarrior Vanilla Protein Powder much sooner! I swear to god guys... This stuff is a miracle in a tub. I went for a 4 mile medium-hard run yesterday evening and whipped myself up a big protein shake made of this and a good bit of soya milk. It wasn't exactly a gourmet experience. A bit chalky. Good whack of stevia aftertaste. But in comparison to my hemp protein powder it might as well have been fresh Italian ice cream. I woke up the following morning without the slightest bit of pain. I didn't even stretch! (Naughty me). Usually when I walk up the steps of the bridge on my way to school the day after a run I can literally hear my muscles creaking painfully. But today they were 100% pain free. Also the ache in my abdomen was completely gone (I've discovered these killer sit ups that I actually look forward to doing-Thank you Bodyrock.tv). 



So I decided to do this miracle powder some justice the next time I used it. I figured something of its nutritional stature deserved a better fate than being lumped in a protein shake that I chug back while holding my nose. Thankfully the stevia in Sunwarrior makes it absolutely perfect for sweet treats seeing as you need to use barely any extra sweetner. Raw chocolate brownies came to mind immediately.



I learned how to make raw chocolate brownies with the great Susan Jane White at the RDS Rude Health Show a year ago. They become one of my go-to quick desserts ever since. Here is her absolutely lush original recipe.




My version is perhaps slightly more practical than the original seeing as its intended to be workout fuel/ recovery grub rather than dessert. But that said... who doesn't want to use exercise as an excuse to eat chocolate brownies? :D

Chocolate Protein Brownie Balls


Makes 4-5 balls


Prep time: 5 minutes


Ingredients:

  • 50g raw almonds (extra to garnish if you want)
  • 5 sticky dates
  • 3 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 scoops sunwarrior vanilla protein powder
  • 3 teaspoons plain soya yogurt

1. Put everthing in the blender and pulse til it forms a thick paste.

2. Roll the mixture into balls. Dust with cocoa powder and garnish with almonds.