Small Achievement and Smoothie Recipe!

Dear Reader,
Hello! It has been a while since my last blog post, but now that I am settled back in England and my MA is behind me, I have a lot more time on my hands!
Recently I have been attending yoga lessons at Yoga Dave in Rokt Brighouse: http://yogadave.uk/
Dave teaches Ashtanga yoga which is the form of yoga I most enjoy. I find Dave’s classes calming and challenging.

A small personal achievement: Even though I am very flexible I struggle to ‘fold over’ flat when in these positions:

stock-photo-yoga-runner-girl-stretching-back-over-legs-doing-seated-forward-bend-fold-named-paschimottanasana-700229395 (1)

stock-photo-young-women-stretching-their-leg-muscles-touching-their-knees-with-noses-257889899 (2)

I can go flat to my leg when I have only one of them out and the other leg is tucked in, but not with both outstretched in front of me. This is something that has frustrated me hugely throughout my life as a dancer and to try and get this flat fold I would distort my back, hunch over, grab my feet as hard as possible, ANYTHING to get flat…
In my yoga class yesterday we were in the position demonstrated in image 1 for around 3 minutes; we did a variety of footholds with breathing exercises. Instead of focusing on getting flat I focused on the breath (for once)!
Guess what happened… my forehead knocked against my knees, I WAS FLAT! Obviously my body dipped in and out of this position due to it not being used to it and I didn’t push, I just focused on breathing and relaxing and enjoying the moments when I felt my forehead knock against my knees just as much as the pleasure of feeling my back stretch.
Moral of the story: it’s time to stop focusing on the ‘position’ and ‘perfection’, I feel much better and calmer when I focus on the breath.

I just wanted to share this little achievement and I would be very interested to hear your personal small achievements in your life (don’t need to be sport related)!
I made a weird but yummy smoothie yesterday and since my cake recipe went down so well (which I will link at the end) I thought it would be good to branch out and try some healthy and weird smoothies. Let me know your thoughts, this won’t be to everyone’s tastes but give it a go!
Ingredients:
Handful of blueberries
Stick of celery
1 pink lady apple
Chunk of fresh ginger
Apple juice (fill your container generously so that the smoothie won’t be too thick)
Tablespoon of honey

Method:
1) Prepare all fruit and veg by washing, chopping, peeling etc
2) Put all ingredients in your blender/smoothie machine
3) BLEND
4) Enjoy!

Thank you all for reading, you can always email me on ericamulkern1414@gmail.com if you have any questions or comments and let me know if you tried the smoothie!

Link to my cake recipe:

https://ericamulkern.wordpress.com/2017/12/12/healthy-gf-df-dark-chocolate-orange-loaf/

Healthy GF, DF Dark Chocolate Orange Loaf!

Dear Reader,
Today I have decided to share with you my own recipe for a healthy, gluten and dairy free dark chocolate loaf!

This is a very rich dessert especially as I use 98% cocoa, so if you want it to be a bit sweeter I suggest using a lesser percentage of cocoa powder and adding a little bit more coconut sugar.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup of coconut oil
  • ½ cup of coconut sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of mashed bananas
  • 1/3 cup of coconut milk (or almond or soya)
  • ½ cup of dark cocoa (I use Green&Blacks 98% cocoa)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Orange juice of 1 and ½ oranges
  • 1 ¾ cup of gluten free plain flour
  • Zest of 1 orange

DSC_0002.JPG

Utensils needed:

  • Large plastic bowl
  • Tablespoon and tea spoon measurers
  • Loaf tin (small/medium size)
  • Cup measurers
  • Whisk
  • Non-stick baking paper
  • Wooden spoon
  • Fine grater/zester

pic 2

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees celcius.

2.  Melt coconut oil and then pour into bowl, add coconut sugar and whisk together.

pic 3arrow.jpgpic 4

  1. Whisk in eggs, bananas and milk.

 

pic 5arrow.jpgpic 6.jpg

 

  1. Add in cocoa, baking powder, vanilla extract and orange juice and whisk.
  2. Switch to the wooden spoon and stir in the flour and orange zest.
  3. Line loaf tin with non-stick baking paper and pour the mixture in.

pic 8

  1. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Check if it is done by sticking a fork or wooden cocktail stick and if it comes out dry and clean then it is done (if a few crumbs are on the fork or stick that’s fine as long as they are dry the cake is done)
  2. Transfer the cake onto a wire rack to allow it to cool completely and TA-DAH! You have a glorious healthy chocolate loaf!

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You don’t have to use gluten free flour or alternative milks if you don’t wish to, I wanted to make the recipe gluten and dairy free so that more people can enjoy it! This is a healthy cake as coconut sugar is the same as honey- in moderation it is healthier than normal sugar but don’t go overboard! I hope you enjoy this recipe and please feel free to comment on this post or email me any questions or pictures on ericamulkern1414@gmail.com

 

Super Healthy Gluten Free Banana Bread!

Dear Reader,

I love to bake, but I do not like baking when it includes heaps of sugar, butter and other things that aren’t that good for us! So I have been perfecting a recipe that is very healthy and also gluten free; I looked at lots of other recipes so I guess mine is a big jumble of all of them with my own twists and ideas, I hope you enjoy!

INGREDIENTS
  • ⅓ cup melted coconut oil
  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 large bananas
  • ¼ cup milk (can also use soya/almond milk)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more to add on top of the banana bread
  • 1¾ cups gluten free self raising flour (you can also use white whole wheat flour if you are not gluten free)
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 165 degrees Celsius and add baking paper to a 9×5-inch loaf tin (or whatever size loaf you have)!
  2. In a big bowl, beat the oil and honey together with a whisk. Add the eggs and beat well, mash the bananas and then whisk in the bananas and milk.
  3. Add the baking soda, vanilla, salt and cinnamon, and whisk to blend. Finally, swap to a big wooden spoon and stir in the flour, until just combined- we don’t want to over mix!
  4. Pour the batter into the loaf tin and sprinkle lightly with the extra cinnamon.
  5. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  6. Let the bread cool in the loaf tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes before slicing.

So there we go! Super healthy gluten free banana bread (and potentially dairy free if you wish!) This recipe works in a loaf tin as well as a cake tin- as you can see in the pictures. Happy baking x

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Healthy banana and oat cookies!

Dear Reader,

As I have a sweet tooth finding things to eat within my no processed food diet can be quite hard, however I stumbled across this recipe and made these yummy cookies! Here’s a link to the recipe and I’ve typed it out in case you want to quick scan: (I have also slightly changed the recipe for a different taste, try out both versions and let me know which you like best!)

http://www.food.com/recipe/ridiculously-healthy-banana-oatmeal-cookies-206246

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 2 cups oats (not instant, the proper scotts type)
  • 12cup whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 12teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon low-fat peanut butter (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c.
  2. Mash the bananas and mix with the oats, milk and egg before adding the remaining ingredients (it just mixes a bit easier and more evenly this way). These measurements make the mixture just the right consistency for my liking, but if it looks a bit runny to you at this point, throw in another handful of oats to thicken it up.
  3. Grease a cookie tray with 1 cal spray and spoon the mixture on to make around 9 large cookies.
  4. Bake for around 20mins until golden brown.

Makes 9 cookies.

Jamie Oliver’s Sweet Potato Muffins

Dear Reader,

I am always on the lookout for healthy snacks to help fuel my long days of dancing and I found this recipe by Jamie Oliver. I made them today, they are super easy to make and delicious! Here is a link to the recipe but I have copied it out in case you want to quick scan:

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/vegetables-recipes/sweet-potato-muffins/

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 600 g sweet potatoes or ½ a butternut squash
  • 4 spring onions
  • 1-2 fresh red chillies
  • 6 large free-range eggs
  • 3 tablespoons cottage cheese
  • 250 g wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 50 g Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases or 15cm folded squares of greaseproof paper, then lightly wipe each one with oiled kitchen paper. Peel the sweet potatoes or squash and coarsely grate into a large bowl. Trim the spring onions, then finely slice with the chilli and add to the bowl, reserving half the chilli to one side. Crack in the eggs, add the cottage cheese and flour, then finely grate in most of the Parmesan and season with sea salt and black pepper. Mix until nicely combined.

Evenly divide the muffin mixture between the cases. Sprinkle over the sunflower and poppy seeds, then dot over the reserved slices of chilli. Use the remaining Parmesan to give a light dusting of cheese over each one, then bake at the bottom of the oven for 45 to 50 minutes (if using squash, it’ll be a bit quicker – check after 35 minutes), or until golden and set.

These are amazing served warm 5 minutes after taking them out of the oven, and good kept in the fridge for a couple of days. Enjoy 2 muffins per portion.

Healthy Jam

Dear Reader,

Since I was a little girl I have adored jam, but due to my no processed food diet I could not eat jam… until now!

I found a recipe for jam that does not contain heaps of sugar (like all shop bought jam does) and it is very easy and cheap to make. I found it on: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-easy-chia-jam-with-any-fruit-222310

I have written the recipe out for you to quick scan, there is a lot of information about chia seeds in the website link so I do recommend reading it as well.

How To Make Easy Chia Jam

Makes 1 1/2 to 2 cups

What You Need

Ingredients
2 cups chopped fruit
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice, to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons honey, agave, maple syrup, or sugar, to taste
2 tablespoons chia seeds, plus more if needed

Equipment
Measuring cups and spoons
Spatula
Saucepan
Potato masher, optional
Glass jars or other storage containers, for the finished jam

Instructions

  1. Prepare the fruit as needed: Remove stems, pits, seeds, and skin, as needed. Chop large fruits into small pieces. Berries can be left whole.
  2. Cook the fruit until it starts to break down: Transfer the fruit to a saucepan and set over medium heat. Cook until the fruit breaks down and becomes syrupy, 5 to 10 minutes. Mash the fruit with the back of a spatula or a potato masher, leaving it as smooth or as lumpy as you like.
  3. Stir in the honey and lemon juice: Off the heat, stir in 1 tablespoon of the honey and lemon juice. Taste and add more honey or lemon juice to taste.
  4. Stir in the chia seeds.
  5. Let stand 5 minutes, until thickened: This won’t quite reach the firm consistency of regular jam, but it will noticeably thicken. If you’d like a thicker consistency, especially with very juicy fruits, stir in more chia seeds 1 teaspoon at a time.
  6. Transfer to a jar or other storage container: Once the jam has cooled to room temperature, transfer it to a jar or other storage container. Store in the fridge for about 2 weeks. The jam will thicken further and become more set once completely chilled. The jam can also be frozen for up to 3 months; thaw in the fridge before using.

Recipe Notes

  • No-cook chia jam: Mash the fruit with a fork until pulpy and juicy, then stir in the rest of the ingredients. You can also combine all the ingredients in a blender, or use an immersion blender, and blend until the jam is completely smooth. Uncooked chia jam tends to be a bit looser and more sauce-like than the stovetop version; add extra chia seeds if you’d like a thicker consistency.
  • Getting rid of visible chia seeds: If you’d prefer not to have visible chia seeds in your finished jam, puree the jam in a blender or with an immersion blender. If you’d like to keep a somewhat chunky texture, blend just a portion of the jam with the chia seeds, then stir it back in with the rest of the jam.

 

Image: http://ohmyveggies.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/how-to-make-chia-seed-jam-7.jpg

How to have clear and healthy skin without breaking the bank!

Dear Reader,

I’m not sure about you guys but I have often struggled to find great and natural products that would be good for my skin as well as being affordable.

I looked online at:

http://www.top10homeremedies.com/how-to/get-clear-skin-home.html     I have written out the remedies from the website and will also write my opinion next to them.

1. Lemon

Lemon is one of the best ingredients that you can use to promote clear skin. The citric acid present in lemon helps keep the skin clear by removing dead cells, and its vitamin C content helps reduce dark spots by increasing the cell renewal process. Lemon also has bleaching properties that will help improve your overall skin complexion.

  • Apply fresh-squeezed lemon juice to your entire face and neck. Leave it on for 10 minutes and then wash it off with lukewarm water. After this, rub cucumber slices on your skin to soften and moisturize it. Do this daily or every other day.
  • Another option is squeeze the juice of one-half lemon and mix one to two tablespoons of raw honey in it. Apply it on your face, leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes and then rinse it off.
  • To exfoliate your skin, mix two teaspoons each of lemon juice and sugar. Apply the mixture on your face, neck and hands. Scrub in a circular motion and leave it on for 10 minutes. Then rinse it off with lukewarm water. Follow this remedy once a week to enjoy glowing skin.

This remedy is always great in my opinion, it has greatly reduced spot scarring, be careful not to apply on an open wound!

2. Turmeric

Turmeric is an excellent antiseptic and skin-lightening agent that helps minimise scars and other marks. Plus, turmeric can alleviate allergic, inflammatory and infectious skin disorders that make your skin look dull and lifeless.

  • Mix one tablespoon of turmeric powder with enough pineapple juice to make a paste. Apply the paste to your face and neck. Leave it on until the paste dries completely. Then wash it off with lukewarm water. Follow this remedy two or three times a week to reduce the appearance of spots on skin.
  • Make a paste by mixing equal amounts of turmeric powder and gram flour with a little water or milk. Apply it evenly on your skin and leave it on until it dries. Wash it off with lukewarm water, scrubbing your skin gently in a circular motion. Follow this remedy once a week to lighten your skin tone and remove scars.

This wasn’t as effective in my opinion but I encourage you to try everything- everyone’s skin is different!

3. Honey

To enjoy clear skin, your need to keep your skin well moisturised. Honey is a great moisturiser and also has antibacterial properties that help ward off infection.

  • Apply raw honey directly on your skin. Let it dry naturally and then rinse it off with lukewarm water. The water content in honey will deeply moisturise the skin, making it soft and supple. Do this simple remedy once daily or every other day.
  • Alternatively, mix two teaspoons of milk and one teaspoon of honey. Then add one teaspoon of gram flour and mix it in well. Apply it all over your face. Leave it on for 20 minutes and then rinse it off with warm water. Use this face mask once a week to enjoy radiant and clear skin.

I tried the milk and honey version and not only did it smell delicious my skin was glowing afterwards!

4. Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera has many benefits for the skin. It has antibacterial properties that help kill bacteria that cause acne, anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe irritated skin, and astringent properties that help heal scars. Plus, Aloe Vera moisturises the skin and stimulates new skin cell growth.

  1. Extract the gel from an Aloe Vera leaf.
  2. Apply the gel on your face using a cotton ball.
  3. Allow it to dry on its own for about half an hour, and then rinse it off with lukewarm water.
  4. Follow this remedy daily or several times per week.

I have not yet needed to try this remedy but I have heard it is very good!

5. Baking Soda

Baking soda balances pH levels of the skin, which is very important to maintain clear skin. Plus, its mild antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties help deal with problems like acne, pimples and spots. It also works as an excellent exfoliating agent to keep the skin free from dirt, impurities and dead skin cells.

  • Mix one teaspoon of baking soda with one teaspoon of water or lemon juice to make a paste. Cleanse your face and use the paste to gently exfoliate the skin. Finally rinse your face with lukewarm water and pat it dry with a towel. Follow this remedy two or three times a week.
  • Alternatively, mix one teaspoon each of baking soda and raw honey. Apply this mixture onto damp skin and massage gently for just one minute. Then wash with lukewarm water. Finally, splash some cold water on your face to close the pores. Follow this remedy once a week.

Baking soda is great (not just for cakes!) I found this remedy fairly useful but I think I’ll stick to Sudocrem when it comes to my spot cream…

6. Cucumber

Cucumbers contain hydrating, nourishing and astringent properties that are very good for skin. They can improve the overall appearance of your skin by repairing damaged skin cells, removing dead skin cells and adding a fresh glow.

  • Cut a fresh cucumber into thick slices, and rub them thoroughly all over your face. Leave it on overnight and rinse with warm water in the morning. Do this daily before going to bed.
  • Alternatively, make a mixture with equal amounts of cucumber juice and lemon juice. Apply this mixture to your skin, allow it to dry completely, and then wash it off with warm water. Do this daily.

I love cucumber, it leaves my face feeling so fresh!

7. Papaya

Papaya can be used to improve your skin’s texture and maintain clear skin. It has natural bleaching properties that help reduce the appearance of scars. Plus, the enzyme papain present in papaya has antibacterial and wound healing abilities and also aids in removing dead, damaged skin.

  1. Chop a ripe papaya into small pieces.
  2. Combine the papaya with one teaspoon each of sandalwood powder and honey. Grind these ingredients into a paste.
  3. Apply the paste all over your face and neck.
  4. Leave it on for half an hour. Then rinse it off with cool water and pat dry your skin.
  5. Finally apply some rose water on your face.
  6. Follow this remedy once a week to notice a visible change in your skin tone.

I did not find Papaya that effective, but it left my skin feeling smoother.

8. Walnut

Walnuts can bring a beautiful glow to dull, dry and lifeless skin. Walnuts have antioxidants that help repair skin cells and promote radiant skin. Walnut in powder form can be used to exfoliate your skin and remove impurities and dirt that an ordinary cleansing product cannot do.

  • Mix two teaspoons of walnut powder with two tablespoons of plain yogurt to make a paste. Apply this paste on your face and neck. When the paste dries, scrub the mixture around your face and then rinse it off with lukewarm water. Use this face mask once a week.
  • Soak three walnuts in water overnight. In the morning, mix in one teaspoon of rose water to make a paste. Apply the paste on your face. Leave it on for an hour and then rinse it off with lukewarm water. Follow this remedy once a week.
  • You can also eat two or three walnuts with a glass of milk every morning.

I try and incorporate walnuts into my diet as I really like the taste! My skin has been glowing a little more recently but that is perhaps either my imagination or a combination of the walnuts with the other treatments.

9. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is very rich in antioxidants that prevent free radical activity, which is one of the reasons behind dull and lifeless skin. Also, its antibacterial and antifungal properties help maintain clear skin. Plus, it will keep your skin soft and moisturized as this oil can penetrate deep into underlying tissues of the skin.

  1. Gently warm up some coconut oil in a microwave.
  2. Apply the warm oil to your face, neck, hands and legs. Gently massage it into the skin for 10 minutes.
  3. Finally rinse it off with lukewarm water.
  4. Use this treatment once daily.

My only problem with coconut oil is I have not been able to find good quality oil at a good price…

10. Mint

The main ingredient in mint is menthol, which has cooling and soothing properties that help keep the skin healthy and glowing. Also, it has wonderful healing properties that help fight off skin infections.

  1. Put one teaspoon of mint powder and one tablespoon each of plain yogurt and fuller’s earth in a bowl.
  2. Set it aside for half an hour so that all ingredients get soaked properly. Then stir it to get a smooth paste.
  3. Apply this homemade face pack on your face and neck.
  4. Leave it on until it dries naturally, and then rinse it off with lukewarm water.
  5. Use this face mask once a week to enjoy clear skin.

I need to try this remedy, weekly face masks are very easy to maintain in busy lifestyles.

 

I hope you found this blog useful, just give things a try and if you prefer sticking to products bought from shops then keep on doing that! Everyone is different and once you find what works for you stick with it!

Image: https://helpiamastudent.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/diy-face-mask-1.jpg

Mary Berry’s Holiday Banana Cake

Dear Reader,

It feels like forever since I last blogged! But I found a gorgeous recipe by none other than the Queen of baking; Mary Berry! I’ve just made this for my boyfriend and housemates using gluten free flour and coconut oil instead of sunflower oil! Taken from her book ‘Foolproof Cooking’

INGREDIENTS:

125ml sunflower oil

200g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

175g plain flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Half tsp ground cinnamon

2 eggs beaten

3 small ripe bananas, peeled and mashed

METHOD:

  1. You will need a 900g loaf tin. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, then grease the tin with oil and line the base with a strip of baking paper.
  2. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together for 1 minute. Spoon into the prepared tin and level the top.
  3. Bake in the oven for about an hour until lightly golden brown on top, springy to the touch and coming away from the sides of the tin.
  4. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove and leave to cool on a wire rack. Cut into slices and serve plain or with butter.

Image source:        http://i1.coventrytelegraph.net/incoming/article8729097.ece/ALTERNATES/s615b/banana-bread5.jpg

Jamie Oliver’s Smoothie Pancakes

Dear Reader,

On Saturday morning I made this recipe by Jamie Oliver and I thought that I needed to share it with you all! I could not find a website link so I have typed it out and the book it is from is called ‘Everyday Superfood’

They are yummy and make breakfast even more interesting!

Ingredients:

320g blueberries or raspberries

1 ripe banana

170ml semi-skimmed milk

1 large egg

250g wholemeal self-raising flour

4 tablespoons natural yoghurt

ground cinnamon

30g mixed unsalted chopped nuts, such as walnuts, pecans and hazelnuts

manuka honey

Method:

Blitz half the berries, the peeled banana, milk, egg and flour in a blender to make a smoothie pancake batter. Tip into a bowl and fold in the remaining berries. Place a large non-stick frying pan on a medium-high heat. Once hot, put your batter into the pan to make large pancakes or little ones, whichever you fancy. Either way cook for a couple of minutes on each side, or until crisp or golden. Sometimes I flip them for an additional 30 seconds on each brown side to ensure they get super-crispy. Serve as and when they’re ready, while you get on with more.

To serve, I like to slice my pancakes in half so you can see all that lovely fruit. Top with a dollop of yoghurt, a sprinkling of cinnamon and scattering of toasted nuts, then finish with a little drizzle of honey.

Side note: once you’ve made the pancake batter, you can cook it right away or pop it into the fridge to keep for up to 3 days, to use each morning. Takes 20 minutes to cook.

Nutritional facts:

357kcal

10g fat

2.2g sat fat

13.3g protein

54.9g carbs

17g sugar

8.9g fibre