Walnut Brownies

I use only four ingredients – walnuts, cacao, dates and vanilla. Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fats which may improve brain health and prevent heart disease. I’ve spoken about the benefits of eating good quality dark chocolate before, and raw cacao powder is just as nutritious. Cacao is loaded with antioxidants (one of the highest sources along with blueberries and walnuts), as well as iron, copper and magnesium which are essential for energy metabolism (the process of generating energy). Feel free to substitute some of the walnuts for ground almonds, or you could use a combination of your favourite nuts. Replacing the vanilla powder with a tablespoon of good  quality espresso powder is another very popular option!

Makes: 15 | Prep Time: 15 minutes | Rating: Simple

Nutrition: approx.193 calories per serving. Source of omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, iron, magnesium

Ingredients:

  • 150g pitted dates (try to use preservative-free dates)
  • 300g raw walnuts (plus 15g extra for topping – optional)
  • 70g raw cacao powder (plus a little extra for dusting – optional)
  • 15g dark chocolate drops (optional, replace with 15g walnuts if not using)
  • 1 heaped teaspoon vanilla powder

Method:

  1. Tip the dates into a heatproof bowl, cover with hot water and leave to soak for ten minutes to soften.
  2. Meanwhile pulse the walnuts, cacao powder and vanilla in a food processor until they resemble coarse breadcrumbs.
  3. Once the dates have softened drain off the water and add them to the food processor. Pulse the mixture again a few times until a dough forms.
  4. Tip the mixture onto the lined baking tray and press out into the corners. To even out the top place a sheet of parchment on top of the mixture and use a rolling pin or the palm of your hand to smooth out the mixture.
  5. Refrigerate for about an hour to set before slicing into squares. Press some chopped walnuts on top of each brownie and dust lightly with a little cacao powder or some cinnamon.

Created by: Pamela Ryan Qualified Nutritionist*

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

* Pamela Ryan (Dip.NT, NTOI) is a Qualified Nutritional Therapist recognised by the Nutritional Therapists of Ireland (NTOI), the professional association supporting qualified nutritional therapists. All NTOI members study biomedicine and nutrition for a minimum of 3 years at a recognised college, are trained in clinical practice and must comply with NTOI requirements for Continuous Professional Development (CPD). Nutritional Therapy is an evidence-based approach to maximising health through individually formulated nutrition and lifestyle strategies. Pamela continues to attend training and lectures on a regular basis through various bodies including The Institute of Functional Medicine and The Institute of Health Sciences. These trainings help her to gain increased expertise in the ever advancing field of nutrition.

Advertisements

We’re here to help you Change Your Health Direction

Laura Dowling by City Headshots Dublin

Laura – Pharmacist, Stillorgan

May is here, bringing with it the official beginning of summer (and the launch of our FREE 8 Week Change Your Health Direction Programme). May is the month when we traditionally start to plan our summer holidays and mentally prepare for the ‘bikini body big reveal’. We naturally consume less calories as the weather warms up and many people take up some form of outdoor exercise because it is just EASIER to do so with the brighter, longer days.

It is so important to take a proactive approach to our health but it is also very easy to jump on the fad diet band wagon to lose weight. I always tell my clients that losing the pounds steadily over several weeks is preferable and much healthier than dropping half a stone in a week only to pile it all back on once the holidays come. Nowadays there is so much information out there and so many different people (some of whom are entirely under qualified to be giving advice) that one can feel overwhelmed when it comes to deciding which plan to follow.

I was raised, and am raising my own children with the mindset ‘everything in moderation’. It is impossible to stick to many of the current popular diets for prolonged periods of time and enjoy a decent work-life balance. People then have an overwhelming sense of guilt when they ‘fall off the wagon’ and this only reinforces their bad relationship with food.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying a 99 on a hot sunny day- just ask for a children’s size! Even ‘healthy’ foods, if eaten in copious amounts can pile on the pounds. A teaspoon of Meridian cashew nut butter for example in porridge, natural yoghurt or spread on wholemeal bread is a delicious, nutrient dense snack and a staple snack in my house.  However, if you are shoveling tablespoons of the stuff into your mouth you WILL put on weight!

I am a big fan of taking high quality nutritional supplements to give yourself that extra boost that you might need energy-wise, especially if you are exercising more. Nutritional supplements, as well as helping you to achieve a healthy heart, bones, skin, hair and nails can also help to sustain energy levels and contribute to a restful night’s sleep. Revive Active is an Irish supplement, produced in Galway, that I recommend regularly in my practice. Quinton Cell Nutrition is another high-quality product that gives your body’s cells all the trace elements that they need to keep your body working optimally. People can really benefit from taking vitamin and mineral supplements when taken as part of a balanced diet.

The NUA Naturals range is another Irish brand with many organic superfood products that are nutrient dense and easy to add to baking, smoothies and cooking. I love their organic cacao which makes a much healthier  alternative to traditional hot chocolate. My kids love it too! Ashwagandha powder, known as ‘the Indian ginseng’ has been used for centuries in India where it is thought to relieve anxiety and periods of stress and fatigue. The NUA naturals version can be added to warm milk and honey as a night cap.

If you are unsure about which products to take to help you to achieve your health goals or if you need any dietary or exercise advice, your local LloydsPharmacy is a wealth of knowledge. There are Pharmacists and health coaches on hand seven days a week to answer your questions and give you the professional advice that will help to guide you on your Change Your Health Direction journey. Come on in, we are waiting for you!

5 HEALTHY + PORTABLE SNACK IDEAS

Because this is my last week of recipes I’m a little spoilt for choice as regards what to share next. I couldn’t, and didn’t want to choose, so I’m sharing a medley of my favourite snacks, from simplest to some more interesting options.  There are five in total which I hope will provide something for everyone’s tastes. All are dairy, grain and gluten-free, some are entirely ‘plant-based’. The common denominator is that they are all made from very simple whole-foods.  If you’re having guests you could make a ‘snack platter’…..otherwise just prepare them all as you wish and squirrel them away in your car / handbag / desk drawer / goodie-drawer for those afternoons when you just need a little nibble!

CRUNCHY APPLE WITH CREAMY PB + CINNAMON  (serves 1)

  • 1 apple
  • 1-2 tbsp Meridian peanut or almond butter*
  • A good pinch of ground cinnamon

Instructions: I hardly need to provide instruction but here goes! Slice the apple, dip or spread with peanut butter and sprinkle over the cinnamon. Simple.

Good For: Peanut butter provides protein. Apple provides pectin (fibre) for gut health and cinnamon can help to balance blood sugar.

HARD BOILED EGGS, SUMAC + AVOCADO (serves 1)

  • 2 eggs, hard boiled
  • 1/3 tsp sumac (a citrus spice made from red berries of the sumac shrub)
  • 1 small (or 1/2 medium) avocado
  • Pinch of sea salt

Instructions: Boil eggs in a pan of water for 5-7 minutes. Allow to cool before peeling off the shell. Store in a small lunch box or lunch bag. To serve slice open, sprinkle with sumac. Half the avocado, sprinkle with sea salt and pile scoops onto your egg.

Good For: Low carbohydrate (sugar) option. High protein + fat keeps you full. Egg provides essential minerals and amino acids. Avocado is rich in fibre, folate, potassium and vitamin E.

TAMARI ROAST NUTS + SEEDS (makes 10-12 1oz servings)

  • 5 cups of mixed raw nuts (brazil, pecan, almond, walnut, macadamia)
  • 1/4 cup of seeds (sunflower / pumpkin)
  • 1 tbsp Optima raw virgin coconut oil*
  • 1 tbsp tamari (gluten free, GMO-free soy sauce)

Instructions: Preheat oven to 180C. Melt the coconut oil with the tamari in a saucepan over a medium heat. Dump in the nuts and seeds and combine well. Spread onto a roasting tray and place in the oven for 10 minutes. Leave to cool and crisp before decanting into a glass airtight jar.

Good For: Nuts and seeds are some of the most nutrient dense foods in existence. Low carbohydrate but high in essential fats, protein and antioxidant nutrients Vitamin E, selenium and zinc. Consuming a handful of nuts daily is associated with lower body fat and BMI.

DARK CHOCOLATE + CHILLI MANGO (makes 4-6 servings)

  • 50g 85% cacao dark chocolate, melted
  • 100g organic dried mango (no added sugars, sulphites, preservatives)
  • 1 tsp dried red chilli flakes
  • A pinch of sea salt flakes

Instructions: Dip the mango into the melted dark chocolate (half-way) and set each piece onto a tray lined with greaseproof paper. Sprinkle the chocolate end with chilli flakes and sea salt and allow to set. Transfer to a jar.

Good For:  A quick energy boost. Mango (especially dried variety) is higher in simple sugars that your body can absorb and utilise quickly. Good for athletes pre- and post-training (if post training, add a hard boiled egg or a protein shake to optimise tissue repair and muscle growth).

CHOCOLATE NUT + GOJI BERRY BRITTLE (makes about 10-12 cupped handfuls)

  • 100g mixed nuts
  • 1 heaping handful of Nua naturals goji berries*
  • 1 handful Nua naturals cacao nibs* (optional)
  • 80g dark chocolate (85% cacao content or above)
  • Pinch of sea salt flakes
  • 1 Tbsp Nua naturals raw cacao powder*

Instructions: Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, reduce the heat and place a pyrex bowl on top. Break the dark chocolate into chunks and melt. When the chocolate is melted tip the nuts, gogi berries, cacao nibs and sea salt into the bowl with the chocolate and mix well to combine. Spread onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes until almost set. Remove from the fridge and dust with cacao powder. Place back in the fridge for 10 minutes. Break up the chunks of brittle and transfer to a large glass container. Store in the fridge.

Good For: Premenstrual symptoms such as low mood, anxiety and sugar or chocolate cravings. Cacao is a natural mood elevator and is an excellent source of iron, magnesium, zinc and B vitamins which are all particularly important for menstrual health. Nuts provide satiating essential fats, antioxidant vitamin E and selenium and zinc which are essential for male and female reproductive health.

PAMELA RYAN | NUTRITIONIST | CORPORATE NUTRITION + YOGA

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

*Available in LloydsPharmacy Stores

MY BIG FAT GREEK YOGURT BOWLS – BREAKFAST

Greek yogurt or ‘the yogurt of the Gods’ is a superfood in itself with more than double the amount of protein and gut-friendly probiotics than regular yogurt.  It makes an ideal breakfast as the protein and fat content keep you fuller for longer.  I recommend using an authentic full-fat Greek yogurt such as ‘Fage Total’ which is simply milk and live active bacteria – no preservatives, no powdered milk or powdered anything!

For breakfast I like to customise my yogurt with a variety of toppings. Try fresh orange chunks with chopped 85% dark chocolate and chopped almonds, strawberries with pistachio nuts or walnut, fig and cinnamon.

Superfood Add-Ons: I don’t use the word ‘superfood’ lightly. Any food listed here has pretty hard evidence to suggest its particularly beneficial to our health. Here’s a line up of some evidence-based options….

  • Spirulina powder: a powdered blue-green algae that contains 55% to 70% protein. There is firm evidence that spirulina can improve fat (lipid) and sugar (glucose) metabolism, whilst reducing liver fat and protecting the heart! Spirulina has also been shown to reducing sneezing and stuffy nose. It can taste like pond water on its own but its great in smoothies or stirred into yogurt with a little honey and dried fruit.
  • Hulled Hemp Seeds: contain all the essential fatty acids (omega 3, 6 and 9), are high in fibre and contain about 33% protein. Because of their rich nutrient profile, hemp seeds may reduce the risk of heart disease, improve skin health and reduce symptoms of PMS or Menopause, making them a great little all-rounder.
  • Raw Cacao: I love when science justifies my love of a particular food! Cacao is rich in fibre, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, phosphorous and zinc. It is listed amongst the Top 10 most nutrient dense foods on the planet and is a powerful source of antioxidants. Dig in!
  • Blueberries: Dark berries are rich in anthocyanins that have antioxidant properties found to reduce damage to our cells. They have been shown to improve memory in older people and are rich in fibre whilst having low levels of natural fruit sugars.
  • Raw Honey: A tablespoon of honey contains about 17 grams of sugar but it hands-down beats refined table sugars when it comes to its antioxidant content and plant compounds found in high quality honey such as Manuka honey or unpasteurised raw honey that hasn’t been exposed to heat. Go easy on serving sizes, a teaspoon should suffice!

YOU WILL NEED: Full fat plain Greek yogurt (about 125g per person) or 100g dairy-free alternative such as CoYo; a selection of nuts, seeds, nut butters, berries and ‘superfood’ add-ons.  Featured bowls…..

MANGO + SPIRULINA:

  • 125g Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tbsp spirulina powder or Superlife Superfood Mix*
  • 1 tsp raw honey or Manuka honey
  • 1 ounce dried mango (I like ‘Crazy Jacks’ with no added sugar or preservatives such as sulphites)
  • 1/2 tbsp Nua Naturals hulled hemp seeds*

Instructions: Combine the yogurt, spirulina powder and honey to create a creamy-green consistency. Add toppings.

COCONUT YOGURT, MACA + BLUEBERRY (V)

  • 100g vanilla coconut yogurt (I use Coyo)
  • 1 teaspoon nua naturals maca powder*
  • 1 ounce coconut chips*
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries

Instructions: Combine the coconut yogurt and maca powder. Add toppings.

BANANA, CACAO + COCONUT BUTTER: 

  • 125g plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp Nua Naturals raw cacao powder*
  • 1 tsp Nua Naturals raw cacao nibs*
  • 1/2 sliced banana
  • 1/2 – 1 tbsp melted coconut butter (or peanut / almond butter)*

Instructions: Combine the yogurt and cacao powder.  Add toppings.

CACAO-QUINOA-CHIA CRUNCH (more preparation required!)

To make the Cacao-Quinoa-Chia Crunch topping: in a bowl combine 40g quinoa pops, 20g chia seeds*, 35g cacao powder*, 2tbsp cacao nibs*, 40g coconut chips*. Melt 6 tbsp coconut oil* with 4 tbsp maple syrup and add to the dry ingredients. Mix well. Spread onto a baking tray and let set in the fridge until hard and crumbly. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 10x 40g servings.  Serve sprinkled over your Greek yogurt or as a cereal with your favourite nut milk (I like hazelnut milk for this).

NUTRITION INFORMATION
Option Calories Fat Protein Carbs Sugars Fibre
Mango + Spirulina 275 7g 15g 43g 21g 1g
Vanilla Coyo, Blueberry + Maca 367 30g 5g 19g 11g 5g
Banana, Cacao + Coconut Butter 318 19.4g 13g 24.1g 14g 4.1g
Cacao Quinoa Crunch 278 18g 14g 17g 10g 3g

PAMELA RYAN | NUTRITIONIST | CORPORATE NUTRITION + YOGA

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

*Available in LloydsPharmacy Stores

 

HAZELNUT MOCHA SMOOTHIE – BREAKFAST

I always recommend starting the day with some protein and fat to fuel your body and brain through a busy morning.  But you needn’t limit yourself to eggs.

Protein powders are versatile and provide all the essential amino acids required by the body. It’s important to choose your brand wisely though, as some have added sugar, poor quality preservatives and inflammatory sources of protein such as genetically modified soy proteins. Plantforce Synergy Vegan Protein available in Lloyds Pharmacies nationwide is a perfect blend of rice, pea and hemp protein suitable for those following dairy- and gluten-free diets.

Whether you’re off to work, the gym, an exam or on the go all day this smoothie will help to sustain you right up to lunch time, and the cheeky caffeine hit will help to boost performance. Coffee is often targeted as an unhealthy beverage as it is a stimulant that increases cortisol release (the stress hormone) in the body.  But its effect is relatively mild. Used strategically, and not to artificially prop your energy levels throughout the day, caffeine can increase physical performance, concentration and focus. When it comes to caffeine, the dose really does make the poison!

(makes 1 serving)

  • 1/2 or 1 banana, peeled (use 1/2 banana to reduce sugar content)
  • 1 scoop of chocolate Plantforce Synergy Protein Powder (if you already purchased the vanilla flavour,  then add a heaped tablespoon of Nua Natural Cacao Powder)*
  • 1 heaped teaspoon Meridian Hazelnut butter (or almond butter)*
  • 150ml almond milk
  • 100ml water
  • 4 ice cubes
  • 1 tsp medium roast coffee granules

Superfood Boost (Optional): add a heaped teaspoon of Nua Naturals Energy Smoothie Booster*

*Available in LloydsPharmacy Stores.

Equipment: blender

Instructions: put all the ingredients into a blender cup and blend until smooth. For a quick breakfast you can fill the blender the night before, pop a few ice cubes the next morning and quickly blend so its ready in less than a minute.

NUTRITION INFORMATION PER SERVING
Calories Fat Protein Carbs Sugar Fibre
333 13g 21g 35g 14g 7.4g

PAMELA RYAN | NUTRITIONIST | CORPORATE NUTRITION + YOGA

‘The Healthonist’ Recipes by Pamela Ryan – Cacao Tahini Protein Balls

This weeks recipe by nutritional therapist Pamela, is Cacao Tahini Protein Balls. Perfect for gym goers and athletic folk, pre or post training.

I’ve been getting lots of requests from my athlete friends for some decent protein/energy balls.  Tired of spending a small fortune on processed protein bars, and not so much fans of sugar-laden chocolate milk drinks, I have been tasked with the job of creating some tasty protein balls with enough carbohydrate for replacing post-training muscle glycogen. To make things more difficult, there was a specific request for a nut-free recipe!

These Cacao Tahini Protein Balls are just sweet enough without being sickly-sweet. In place of nut butter I use light tahini (a calcium rich sesame seed butter) and coconut oil (coconut is not a true nut…botanically its a ‘drupe’ or fruit, nut & seed!). Nua Naturals raw organic cacao powder and cacao nibs provide a gorgeous rich chocolatey flavour. Cacao provides a natural (and less potent) caffeine hit which can be useful pre-training, but is also rich in blood oxygenating iron and chromium, which regulates blood sugar.

Dried dates lend their sweet caramel stickiness into the mix, whilst scoring additional points for being particularly rich in potassium, magnesium, selenium and zinc…all of which are vital co-factors involved in cellular energy production. Chomp these pre- or post-training. The recipe makes about 16.

INGREDIENTS

To make the balls:

  • 10 dates
  • 2 scoops (50g) of vanilla pea / hemp protein powder
  • 1 cup Nua Naturals raw cacao powder
  • 1 heaped Tbsp Nua Naturals cacao nibs
  • 1/2 cup light tahini
  • 1 heaped Tbsp coconut oil (room temperature/unmelted)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Coating options:

  • Chia Bia whole chia seeds
  • Poppy seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Desiccated coconut
  • Cacao Powder
  • Ground almonds

Step-by-Step:

  1. Put the dates in a glass bowl and pour over a half-cup of hot water. Allow to soften for about 10 minutes.
  2. In a food processor briefly blend all of the remaining ingredients.
  3. Drain the dates and add them to the food processor. Blend the mixture until it resembles a slightly moist gravel or clay that when pressed together, will hold.
  4. Roll into individual balls (should make about 16 balls).
  5. To coat the protein balls, spoon out your chosen coatings onto individual saucers and get rolling.
  6. Chill the balls in the fridge for an hour before eating.
  7. Store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

PAMELA RYAN | NUTRITIONIST | CORPORATE NUTRITION + YOGA

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist