CHOCOLATE FRUIT & NUT SQUARES – SNACK

Combining nuts and dates to create tasty raw treats is nothing new, a very well known chocolate confectionery brand has been doing a fruit & nut bar since 1926 and we all remember the ad campaign slogan sung to the tune of The Nutcracker!  I understand that the point to snack foods is that they are convenient. That being said putting an hour’s effort into making your own treats means you have a ready supply in the fridge for weeks, but more importantly you are avoiding ingredients such as artificial flavourings, emulsifiers and inflammatory vegetable fats, as well excessive sugar and trans fats.

A standard shop-bought fruit & nut bar will serve up 270 calories and 30g of sugar, which is  listed as the second ingredient after milk. In comparison this recipe provides 182 calories per serving and only 8g of sugars. There is no added vegetable oils with the only fats coming from the natural fats found in whole nuts and seeds that are linked to improved cognitive function, lower body fat, better blood lipid profile and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

Using whole, natural foods provides fibre and a range of nutrients including antioxidant vitamin E, biotin for healthy skin, hair and nails, magnesium, manganese and copper. Even chocolate has its benefits but you must choose the darker kind. The darker the chocolate, the less likely there is to be added ingredients such as soya lecithin and other emulsifiers. I like either Green & Blacks Organic 85% or Lindt as ingredients are simply cocoa, cocoa butter, sugar and vanilla.

Given the sheer variety of nuts, seeds and superfood powders available these days there are endless options to cater for everyone’s tastes. Chocolate and hazelnuts are an age-old match made in heaven but you can use equivalent quantities of other nuts and seeds depending on your preferences or whatever you have available. You can also leave out the chocolate (but why would you want to do that?!).

(makes 16 bars)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (140g) whole almonds
  • 1 cup (135g) whole hazelnuts
  • 1/4 cup (40g) hulled hemp seeds (NUA NATURALS)*
  • 10 dates (sulphur-free, pitted)
  • 1/4 cup (3-4 tbsp) maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup (50g) jumbo oats
  • 2 Tbsp coconut flour(NUA NATURALS)*
  • 100g 85% dark chocolate
  • Coconut oil for lining the baking tray (OPTIMA)*

Topping Options: toasted coconut flakes, cacao nibs, chopped hazelnuts

Instructions

  1. Line a bakingtray with parchment and spread with a little melted coconut oil.
  2. In a blenderpulse the almonds and hazelnuts until they look like a coarse sand.
  3. Add the hemp seeds, dates, maple syrup, salt, oats andcoconut flour. Blitz again until well combined. The mixture should ‘stick’ a little when pressed.
  4. Dump the mixture onto the lined baking tray and use your hands to press down until its about an inch thick. If the tray is larger than normal, fold the parchment in over the free edge of the mixture.
  5. Refrigerate for an hour to set.
  6. In the meantime break the chocolate into small pieces and place into aPyrex dish over a pan of hot water. Make sure the water doesn’t touch the base of the bowl. Allow the chocolate to melt completely and then remove from the stove.
  7. Remove the nut mixture from the fridge and pourthe chocolate over the top, tilting the baking tray around until the chocolate is evenly spread.
  8. Sprinkle with your chosen topping and place back into the fridge to set.
  9. Once set use a sharp knife to cut into squares. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks or in the freezer for 8 weeks.
NUTRITION INFORMATION
Calories Fat Protein Carbs Sugars Fibre
182 13g 5g 13.3g 8g 3g
An excellent source of vitamin E, biotin, manganese, copper, magnesium & antioxidants

PAMELA RYAN | NUTRITIONIST | CORPORATE NUTRITION + YOGA

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

*Available in LloydsPharmacy Stores

SUPERFOOD SCRAMBLE – BREAKFAST

Whilst plain scrambled eggs are delicious on their own, adding turmeric, chia seeds and greens is a great way to increase the nutritional density of your breakfast with higher fibre, omega-3 fats, essential minerals, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds.

Truth be told these scrambled eggs are just as good for a quick lunch, brunch or dinner but I find them particularly great for breakfast as they are high in protein and omega-3 fats which sustain energy throughout the day and reduce cravings for sweet, sugary foods.

There is mounting evidence that eating a lower carbohydrate breakfast is an effective way to control blood sugar levels, particularly for people with Type 2 Diabetes. A 2016 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eliminating carbohydrates in the first meal of the day after an overnight fast significantly lowered blood-sugar levels after the low-carb breakfast1.

As elevated blood sugar and blood sugar imbalances may also be responsible for a range of other symptoms and diseases such as inflammation, PCOS, endometriosis and obesity, a low carbohydrate breakfast might also be an effective way to manage symptoms and reduce body fat.

(serves 1)

Ingredients:

  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Chia Bia Whole Chia Seed*
  • 1-2 tablespoons almond cream or almond milk (unsweetened)
  • A good pinch of sea salt flakes
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric*
  • 2 teaspoons Optima Raw Virgin Organic Coconut Oil*
  • 2 large handfuls spinach leaves

Instructions:

  1. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, chia seed, almond cream, salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. Heat a teaspoon of coconut oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the spinach. Cook gently until wilted and remove the spinach from the pan.
  3. Heat a second teaspoon of coconut oil in the same pan and add the turmeric. Stir with a wooden spoon for a minute (be careful not to burn the turmeric).
  4. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and as the eggs start to “catch” the sides, gently pull them across the pan to form soft folds. Add the wilted spinach back into the pan and continue to fold gently for a minute. When the eggs are almost set but still soft, remove the pan from the stove. The residual heat will finish the cooking.
  5. Serve with freshly chopped herbs if you have some available.
NUTRITION INFORMATION
Calories Fat Protein Carbs Sugars Fibre
364 28g 21g 9g 0.3g 4g
An excellent source of protein, omega-3 ALA, magnesium, choline, iron.

Reference:

  1. 1. Pedersen, E., Lange, K. and Clifton, P. (2016) ‘Effect of carbohydrate restriction in the first meal after an overnight fast on glycemic control in people with type 2 diabetes: A randomised trial’, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 104(5), pp. 1285–1291. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.116.135343.

PAMELA RYAN | NUTRITIONIST | CORPORATE NUTRITION + YOGA

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

*Ingredients available in LloydsPharmacy Stores

CHILLI STUFFED SWEET POTATOES – MAIN

I love chilli any time of year! In summer enjoy it spooned into large cooling iceberg lettuce leaves with natural yogurt and cucumber on top.  In winter however, there is no better way to serve chilli than the way my Mam did when we were kids – piled high on top of baked potatoes.

I’m using sweet potatoes but you can substitute with white potatoes if you prefer them – they are no less nutritious, but they don’t have the impressively high antioxidant content of sweet potatoes. Either way, potatoes are a fantastic source of natural, unadulterated complex carbohydrates that provide energy and leave us satiated for a long time.

This chilli is meatless. Instead of meat I use two kinds of beans – black and aduki (good-quality canned, pre-cooked beans are fine and save time). Unglamorous as they may seam, beans are one of the best, most affordable sources of plant-based protein and dietary fiber. Consumption of fibre is associated with reduced risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes as well as colon cancer. It’s no coincidence therefore that research into the diets of the longest living populations in the world confirms a regular dietary consumption of beans.

This recipe serves 4. If you are male, not trying to lose weight, and / or training at a high intensity you might consider adding a second sweet potato. Otherwise I recommend serving with some leafy greens. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium-sized sweet potatoes
  • Sea salt flakes
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil*
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 can of Black Beans, drained (I use Biona canned beans)
  • 1 can of Aduki Beans, drained (I use Biona canned beans)
  • 350g of tomato pasata (pureed tomatoes, unsweetened, no preservatives)
  • 1 heaped teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of chipotle chilli flakes

To Serve:

  • 1 whole avocado, medium
  • 1 whole lime
  • 4 spring onions finely sliced
  • Sea salt flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large handfuls coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • 4 Tbsp plain natural yogurt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat an oven to 200C and line a baking tray with parchment.
  1. Pierce the sweet potatoes with a fork and place them onto the banking tray. Sprinkle with sea salt. Put the sweet potatoes into the oven. They will need between 40 and 50 minutes to cook.
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Sweat for 5-10 minutes.
  1. When the onions are soft, add the chilli, chipotle, cumin a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Stir and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, black beans and adzuki beans. Bring to a soft boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  1. In the meantime slice the avocado in half, remove the stone and scoop the flesh out into a small bowl. Slice the lime in half and squeeze the juice into the bowl (discard the halves). Season, add half the spring onion and mash with a fork until mixed well but still chunky.
  1. When the sweet potatoes are cooked (they should be soft), remove them from the oven. Transfer them to individual plates and carefully (steam can burn!) slit them lengthwise down the middle.
  1. Spoon the chilli into the sweet potatoes allowing the mixture to pile and run down the sides.
  1. Top with guacamole, a tablespoon of natural yogurt, fresh coriander and spring onion. Enjoy!
NUTRITION INFORMATION
  Calories Fat Protein Carbs Sugars Fibre
Chilli Stuffed Sweet Potatoes per serv. 360 4g 15g 66g 11g 12g
Toppings per serv. 82 6g 2g 6g 3g 2.6g
  An excellent source of protein, fiber, folic acid, vitamin A, vitamin C, antioxidants, magnesium, zinc, iron. 


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PAMELA RYAN | NUTRITIONIST | CORPORATE NUTRITION + YOGA

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

*Ingredients available in LloydsPharmacy Stores

ENERGISING GREEN SMOOTHIE – BREAKFAST

This smoothie will “give you wings”. So grab your halo and prepare to fly through your day!

For a nourishing boost I used one of my favourite supplements, Superlife Smoothie Mix (Energy Boost), available from your local Lloyds Pharmacy. It is packed with exotic-sounding organic superfoods such as maca, hemp, cacao, spirulina and chlorella. This unique blend offers an abundance of antioxidant nutrients, iron, calcium, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, fibre and protein.

Combined with fibre- and vitamin C rich greens, over 11g protein per serving and essential fats from creamy avocado, this smoothie is an ideal breakfast and it takes less than 5 minutes to prepare.

Ingredients

  • 50g cucumber, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 medium celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 2 handfuls leafy greens e.g. baby spinach or rocket leaves
  • 1 small handful fresh parsley
  • 1 banana, peeled and chopped (or 1/2 for less sugar)
  • 1/2 avocado, stone removed and flesh scooped out
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of Superlife Smoothie Mix Energy Boost*
  • 1 cup water or coconut water
  • 2-3 cubes of ice

Instructions

Put all the ingredients into a high-speed blender and whizz until silky smooth. Enjoy!

Tips:

  • Prepare your vegetables the night before and pack them into the smoothie cup. Store in the fridge. The next morning just add water and ice cubes and blend.
  • Divide the mixture into 3 or 4 small glasses and serve to your kids as a snack or as a nourishing accompaniment their normal breakfast.
  • If you don’t have fresh parsley to hand, just add an extra handful of greens. Choose from spinach, rocket, chard, lambs lettuce or chicory leaves.
  • Instead of ice cubes, peel and dice a few bananas and store in a sealed container in the freezer. Use these in place of ice cubes (but as part of your fruit portion).
Nutrition Information per Serving.
Calories Fat Protein Carbs Sugar Fibre
326 11.9g 11.4g 48g 25g 16
A source of vitamin C, vitamin A, Iron, magnesium, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids.

PAMELA RYAN | NUTRITIONIST | CORPORATE NUTRITION + YOGA

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

*Ingredients available in LloydsPharmacy Stores

QUINOA & CHORIZO STUFFED ROASTED PEPPERS WITH FETA, AVOCADO & GREEN SALAD – MAIN

When it comes to making healthier food choices, flavour can make a huge difference to your success. Enjoying and feeling satisfied by your meals means you’re less likely to feel deprived.

This recipe is inspired by Spain and South America. Whilst I don’t recommend overdoing cured meats, a little does go a long way. Just be sure to choose a really good quality chorizo sausage with no sulphites (preservatives) or E numbers (the alternative is to leave it out and add a teaspoon of smoked paprika and extra diced vegetables such as tomatoes instead).

Bell peppers have high concentrations of antioxidants.  Just one will provide more than twice the daily recommended amount of vitamin C and almost 75% of recommended daily vitamin A. When it comes to weight loss, its important to get the most nutritionally dense food possible and at only 37 calories per serving, bell peppers provide a wide range of essential nutrients.

Black quinoa is a protein-rich seed originally cultivated in Colorado (the original quinoa hails from the Andes in South America). It is especially abundant in essential minerals, and is grain and gluten-free which is good news for people with celiac.

I’m serving these delicious stuffed peppers with a little crumbled cool Greek feta cheese, unctuous avocado and a light green salad of just rocket leaves and diced cucumber.  Feta is traditionally made from a combination of sheeps and goats milk and is often less inflammatory and allergenic than cheese made with cow’s milk.

Enjoy this dish as a light lunch for 4, or if you’re extra hungry, as a main meal for 2-3 people.

(serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp melted coconut oil*
  • Half a medium white onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 100g good quality chorizo sausage
  • 80g uncooked black quinoa (makes approx. 1.5 cups cooked volume)
  • 1 tsp chipotle chilli flakes
  • 2 whole red bell peppers, sliced in half (lengthwise), seeds & white pith removed
  • 50g greek feta cheese
  • 1 medium-sized avocado
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 4 large handfuls of rocket leaves
  • 100g cucumber, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp Basil pesto (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 200C and line a baking tray with parchment. Put the pepper halves onto the parchment and drizzle with a little melted coconut or olive oil.
  1. Fill a saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Add the quinoa, reduce the heat, cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes.
  1. In the meantime melt a teaspoon of coconut oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the onions reduce the heat slightly and sweat for 5 minutes.
  1. Dice the chorizo sausage and add to the frying pan with the onions. Continue to cook on a low heat so the onions take on the colour of the chorizo.
  1. Once the quinoa is cooked, drain any excess water and add to the onions and chorizo. Add the chipotle chilli flakes and lightly season with a pinch of sea salt. Sauté over a medium heat for about 5 minutes.
  1. Remove the quinoa from the heat. Pile the mixture into each of the pepper halves. Cover lightly with foil and put into the oven for 35 minutes (remove the foil after 20 minutes).
  1. Prepare the toppings and salad: peel, de-stone and slice the avocado (squeeze juice of half a lemon onto the avocado to stop it from going brown). Set aside. Crumble the feta cheese into a small dish and set aside.
  1. In a salad bowl add 4 large handfuls of rocket leaves and diced cucumber.
  1. After 35 minutes remove the peppers from the oven and carefully transfer them to a serving plate. Sprinkle the crumbled feta and the avocado slices over the peppers. Season with a little sea salt. Serve  with a teaspoon of basil pesto and a pile of green salad.
NUTRITION INFORMATION PER ONE QUARTER SERVING (including toppings & side salad)
Calories Fat Protein Carbs Sugar Fibre
320 19g 12g 18g 6.5g 7g
A source of protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, calcium, phosphorous and Iron. Gluten Free, Vegetarian, Grain free.

PAMELA RYAN | NUTRITIONIST | CORPORATE NUTRITION + YOGA

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

*Ingredients available in LloydsPharmacy Stores