Avo-Yoyo – Yogurt plant-style

Yogurt. That creamy, thick, comforting goodness is one of the chief building blocks to a healthy breakfast. Dairy yogurt (full fat and unsweetened) is full of protein, key vitamins and in particular gut healthy probiotics. Not only is it a fundamental breakfast component, but it is a key ingredient for many exotic cuisines and is a staple in the sauce/dipping world!

So whether you are lactose free, vegan, intolerant, Fodmap friendly, suffer from fructose malabsorption or just dislike dairy yogurts and its cousin substitutes (soy and coconut) then you are pretty screwed over on other choices.

Tahini is a great one for padding out dips and there are a number of brands that offer great dipping thickeners and replacements such as Vegenaise. Chucking in a few blended nuts is an instant thickener and is used commonly in vegan cooking.

But the real problem curdles down to this: what to replace that morning bowl of yogurt with! If you aren’t a fan of coconut or soy alternatives then buying something in the local supermarket is not an option. There are a number of great recipes out there (check out Sarah Britton’s recipe in her latest book My New Roots) that offer recipes for cashew/almond yogurt and in the US there are a few brands that offer almond based yogurt substitutes (however a note; most of these are loaded with stabilisers and added refined sugars!).

This is not an anti-soya, anti-coconut rant at all. I am in fact a fan of them both, however sometimes it’s nice to switch it up! Coconut yogurt tends to be quite rich, and being Fodmap sensitive I can only stomach a little of the stuff. Soya yogurt has definitely flourished in the past few years, and there are a number of great flavoured brands with no added stabilisers and sugars. However, there is significant research to suggest that having too much soya in your diet can be detrimental. Living off tofu and edamame beans, I do worry sometimes that I might turn into a soya bean myself!

Creating your own nut based yogurt is a real commitment! It is not only costly, but time constraining (soaking, stewing, blending and sieving) and not for those who are anything but masters in the kitchen. Additionally we mustn’t forget that nuts are loaded with fats, and albeit it they are healthy fats, winter is coming and the pounds are easy to pile on. A bowl full of blended nuts every morning isn’t going to help with anyone trying to slim down!

So what are the alternatives out there? In the search for something delicious, nutritious, easy and cheap, the famed Green Smoothie Bowl came to mind! However, many of the recipes I have experimented with tend to come out sloppy and I sadly watch my granola clusters sink into the pond of green goodness. Soggy granola at the bottom of the bowl is not what I wanted to achieve! It needed to be thicker!IMG_20150811_103619

This is not a substitute for the white coloured, plain flavoured, wobbly yogurt we are used to. This is in fact quite the opposite – but somehow it works! Sweet, velvety, wholesome and GREEN, this plant based “yogurt” is our new obsession and we hope you will adopt it too! Similar to a smoothie bowl, but thicker and less sweet, this wonderful substitute can be made in minutes!

Why our Avo-Yoyo is a winner:

  • Full of Probiotics – By emptying in your probiotic tablet to the mix or using live probiotic that can be stored in your refrigerator, Avo-Yoyo can have billions of healthy probiotics that are incredibly important for overall stomach sanity.
  • Vitamin Powerhouse – A medium banana offers 25% of your recommended daily amount of vitamin B12 (essential for healthy skin, hair, nails and regulation of the nervous system), and a medium avocado and banana combined provide the body with 30% of its RDA of Potassium (important for brain health and muscular contractions)! Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C and folic acid as well as Iron! This doesn’t even cover the goodness that will come from all those toppings!
  • Healthy Fats – The avocado is the superfood of the moment and this isn’t just some fad! This green pear is high in monounsaturated oleic acid, a heart healthy fatty acid that is renowned for heart health and anti inflammatory benefits.  Some studies have suggested that eating avocados with other plant based superfoods can help with the absorption of antioxidants and minerals! The fat from the avocado will help keep you full all morning!
  • Adjustable – Avo-Yoyo is totally adjustable according to taste and can be PILED full of goodies. If you are trying to restrict your sugar or just don’t agree with banana then using avocado and spinach is enough to gain the right consistency (adding a little carrot can sweeten things up). If you are trying to cut down on your daily intake of fat, reducing the avocado and increasing the other ingredients results in the same outcome!
  • Tell Me What’s Your Flavour – You can pretty much throw anything into the mix here – some days I use Maca powder, some days Baobab, some days Spirulina and some days NADA! If you fancy replacing spinach with kale, its the same outcome, and if you fancy replacing the banana with another fruit or veg you just need to increase the avocado! This is simple healthy eating.

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Avo-Yoyo Recipe

 I have listed the quantities for two servings of Avo-Yoyo. This can easily be doubled, but I use a Nutribullet and the capsule I have isn’t big enough to make larger helpings. If you do make a  larger portion, make sure to only keep it for 3 days and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

A note on toppings you can literally add anything you like to your Avo-Yoyo: Granola, muesli, fruits, nuts and seeds, bee pollen, nut butters, sweeteners etc. We are fans of adding bee pollen for a touch of sweetness and proteinhit as well as mixed nuts and cereals for a little crunch!

Makes 2 servings

  • 1/5 of an avocado
  • 1/2  a banana (can be frozen)
  • 2 Tbsp. of chia seeds (soaked until thickened)
  • 6 large handfuls of spinach
  • 1 Probiotic supplement (emptied out)
  • 3 Tbsp. of filtered water/coconut water/birch water
  • Additions: 1 Tbsp. of aloe vera juice,  2 Tbsp. of any superfood powder, a few carrots (peeled and chopped), a few berries, 1 Tbsp of Nut butter or tahini (for extra creaminess)

Method:

  1. Soak your chia seeds in 4 Tbsps of water until thickened. This should take around 30mins, but can be less.
  2. Throw all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and whiz! Make sure that you allow the blender to completely blitz the veggies and chia gel until completely smooth.
  3. Place in the fridge in an air tight container until ready to serve.
  4. Top with anything you would add to your yogurt and enjoy!

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Trufflin’ Kale Krisps

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I have a weakness. Okay I have many weakness’, but my love of truffles is an expensive weakness.

Black, white, shaved, whole, on pizza, in pasta, on salads and now in KALE! Truffle mania.

To make these little bad boys I have used white truffle infused oil, from the Italian maestro himself, Antonio Carluccio.

It is important to source a good quality truffle oil, and make sure that they contain real extracts of truffle within the oil. Many of the less expensive, commercial infused truffle oils actually have no elements of real truffle and instead contain synthetic potions that are made to resemble the flavour and particularly the distinct smell of truffle. You can trust Carluccio!

The health benefits of truffle oil tends not to be anything to oh-my-gosh about. It is basically just olive oil with flavouring. We all know the wonderful goodness of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (the good quality kind). Full of essential fatty acids, antioxidants, inflammation fighters and additionally consumption of the oil can reduce risks of cardiovascular disease and lower blood pressure. All heart healthy stuff.

A little horticulture lesson…

Did you know that Truffles aren’t a mushroom?! They are a type of fungi but not a type of mushroom as they grow under the ground. You learn something new every day. Found either white or black, they tend to live and grow from the roots of trees, in particular under oak, pine, beech, and pecan trees and mostly in Europe including various parts of Italy, France, Slovenia and Croatia. Those truffles that grow under the roots of oak trees are the most pungent, while those that grow in the roots of lime trees are the most aromatic

Truffles in their raw, hard, full and delicious form are full of nutritional points! Per serving they are 30% protein, so can offer a good source of protein for vegetarians. They are also practically fat and cholesterol free.

Truffles are of course an aphrodisiac, so if you are willing to foot a big bill to impress and induce lust on that special someone, truffles could be your best friend!

And as for Kale, We have over kale’d it on the “benefits of kale” recently… the media has gone Kale wild. So I won’t kale on about kale… see I am doing it already. KALE.

Okay, so we know Kale is one of the most nutrient vegetables on the planet. The benefits are not limited to, but include:

  • High in Vitamin A (key for good vision, a healthy immune system, and cell growth) Vitamin C (A single cup of kale contains more vit C than an orange) and Vitamin K (important for blood clotting).
  • Loaded with powerful antioxidants like Quercetin and Kaempfero that have powerful cardio protective, blood pressure lowering, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-depressant and anti-cancer effects.
  • Helps to lower cholesterol.
  • Very low in calories and fat.

Trufflin’ Kale Krisps

It is important that to reap the benefits of kale, you don’t overcook or burn the kale at any point, as this converts its benefits to detriments. Therefore cooking at a low temperature is key to the nutrient value of this lovely snack.

Ingredients:

  • 300g of Kale, destalked
  • 3 Tbsp. of Coconut Oil
  • 3 Tbsp. of Tamari/Soya Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. of Marmite/Vegemite
  • 2 Tbsp. of Lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. of Truffle Oil, Pure with real extract

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to 100C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  • Spread the de-stalked kale on the baking paper and pop the kale into the oven for 15 minutes. Stir the kale and make sure to flip over half way through.
  • Whilst the kale is cooking, make the sauce. Start by heating the coconut oil in a large thick bottom saucepan for about 1 minute on a medium heat until warm (if in solid form heat to melt and warm).
  • Take off the heat and add the marmite, lemon juice, 2 Tbsp. of the tamari/soya sauce and the truffle oil. Combine until thoroughly mixed.
  • When the kale has cooked for 15 minutes take out and throw hot into the saucepan of sauce. Mix all the kale until it is all coated.
  • Re spread the covered kale across the baking tray and place back in the oven. Cook for ten minutes and then flip. Sprinkle over the additional 1Tbsp of soya/tamari sauce. Cook for another 10 minutes.
  • The kale will be cooked when it has started to slightly brown and is completely dry. Cook for longer until this result is achieved.
  • Once finished, turn off the oven but leave the kale chips inside. Leave the oven a-jar by placing a wooden spoon in the gap and let the kale chips cool down.
  • After 15 minute take out and these should be ready to eat – enjoy!

 

These kale krisps should last up to a week if kept in a sealed container, although I challenge you to leave them in a full household (or house of 1) for longer than a day! They are ADDICTIVE!

 

 

 

Faking it versus tea-bagging…

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I’m sure I am not the only one who is somewhat disappointed by our summer weather? Continual promises of heat waves and incessant photos on our Instagram feed of people in hot countries with toasted legs has not helped my “Sun-ger” (definition= anger due to luck of sun).

So instead of rushing to open the curtains each morning in the hope for sunshine, I decided to take my own state of bronze into my own hands and jump on the fake tanning band wagon.

Many of us avoid large amounts of sun exposure due to the aging and skin associated risks and slap on high SPF. Although tanning with SPF still gives your skin enough melatonin to convert to a darker shade of pale, to achieve the goddess look, us Brits need more help!

However, trailing through the rows of fake tans in my local chemist, I couldn’t find one that was free from parabens, alcohols, artificial perfumes and god knows what all the other additives were – anything with the word petrol in isn’t going NEAR my skin!

I also found there were many other fake tans that stated they were natural as they use “natural tanning agents”. However, this is quite a clever marketing trick. These fake tans may use naturally derived DHA (the component that colours the dead skin cells) in their lotions but the other ingredients may be toxic and synthetic.

DHA (dihydroxyacetone) is a chemical that reacts with the dead skin cells to produce that sun kissed look. Science has proven that DHA can lead to DNA damage and in a synthetic form is toxic. In its natural form, DHA is derived from sugars such as sugar beets and glycerol. Try to opt for a tanner that is free from DHA or one where every ingredient is natural.

After a frustrating and empty handed trip (well nearly, I caved in on the shampoo aisle), I researched online to try and find some fake bakes that are completely natural, toxic and an all with that added benefit – they actually work!

My Favourite Finds:

melvita

 

Melvita Prosun Self Tanner

The Prosun self-tanner is a natural, DHA-free formula that moisturises the skin and gives it a beautiful bronzed glow. The active ingredient in this fake bake is plant based Erythrulose which is derived from sugar cane. 99% of the ingredients are natural – this works for us! £22 and available in John Lewis.

 

Lavera Self Tanning Lotion lavera-self-tan-lotion-150ml

Winning many awards, Lavera self tan is the go to on the market. Although it does contain DHA, it is from a vegetable source and is it the organic soy extracts that provide the active ingredient in the lotions. We also love the fact that they have infused their cream with organic macadamia nut, organic jojoba oil and organic sunflower oil – leaving only a natural scent with no added perfumes! At £13.50 from www.soorganic.com – what’s stopping you?

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Green People

We love all the products from The Green People, and their self-tan is no exception. Their lotion is naturally scented with essential oils of geranium, sandalwood and rosehip and uses a DHA that is naturally sourced from sugar extracts. On their website they even offer information on all the skin benefits of their chosen flower essences and this product is even suitable for those with skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis. They also have a wonderful gradual tanner for those of us scared to take the leap. Recommended by the Beauty Editor of Harpers Bizarre, this product is a steal at £16.96 with free delivery when purchased from http://www.naturisimo.com/.

 

 

Folk remedies for sunburn

You could always opt for a completely natural and home-made fake tan if you fancy it – a whole new perspective on tea bagging:

  • Take 10 black tea bags and boil in hot water. Opt for a less pungent odour tea type – otherwise you are going to walk around smelling like Miss. Lapsang Souchong.
  • Let the tea bags sit in the water for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove the tea bags and then let the tea cool to room temperature or less. It may be refreshing to put it in the fridge for a bit, especially in the hot summer months.
  • Pour into a spray bottle and spray your skin. Air dry and reapply if you want a deeper, darker colour.
  • Remember this is just a temporary colour and will come off as soon as you shower or come in contact with water!

As for me, as much as I love a good cup of tea, I will be sticking with my tan in a can!

Happy spraying ladies and gents.

X

Maca-dame-yah Cookies

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Smooth, crunchy yet fleshy and slightly sweet, I love these little buttery babies. So when I had a pantry full of them (I tend to overstock nuts, always a good excuse to have to use them up!) I decided it was time to macadamia it up!

Like most nuts, Macadamia nuts are full of wonderful nutrients, minerals and vitamins…

Here are just some of the reasons to get munching:

Good Fats Baby – Macadamia nuts have a very high quality level of unsaturated fat , they have one of the lowest065retail-1 levels of Omega 6 fats and highest Omega 3 fat levels out of all the common nuts in  our diets.

Curbing the Urge – Macadamia nuts are rich in palmitoleic acid and omega 7 fatty oils that provide building blocks for enzymes and control the burning of fat, therefore helping to curb the appetite! But be careful, they are high in fat and one or two handfuls is plenty goodness!

Cholesterol Lowering – one of the most important health benefits of the macadamia nut is that  being low in saturated fats and cholesterol, they reduce the risks of heart and anti-inflammatory diseases. They help suppress LDL (NASTY cholesterol) and support production of HDL (NICE cholesterol).

Antioxidants – Being high in phytonutrients and flavanoids, these nuts help remove free radicals which damage the health of your cells.

Fibre – 10 macadamia nuts equates to 10% of your daily fiber intake, so they are great for anyone needing to get a bit of roughage.

Nutrients & Vitamins Macadamias are a rich source of Vitamin A, Iron, Protein, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin and Folates.

So as if the above credentials weren’t enough to inspire you, then perhaps the idea of a cookie that incorporates the above benefits does? Whoever said that cookies can’t be be good for you, hadn’t discovered these babies!

Maca-dame-yah Cookies

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These oval, fluffy, sweet and charming cookies with their little bonnets on top, are truly the Madame of health cookies – we added a little “yah” on the end, as we like to think our little Madame’s are perfectly paired with a cup of brew and a good English “yah”.

These cookies are gluten, dairy and refined sugar free. We have used coconut blossom nectar because of the low levels of glycaemic index, and coconut flour because of the gluten and wheat free benefits of the flour, the high protein levels and the natural sweetness it has when baked. The added maca powder gives these gems a nutritional boost, offering an energy bump and caramel flavoured tones.

Ingredients:

• 130g coconut flour
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda20150528_182331_1
• A pinch of pink Himalayan salt• 2 tsp of cinnamon
• 5 tbsp of coconut oil ( or 5 tbsp of coconut butter melted)
• 1 tsp of pure vanilla extract
• 60g of coconut blossom nectar or any other liquid sweetener
• 80g of macadamia nut butter (see notes below) or any other nut butter
• 12 macadamia nut halves
• 5 tsp of maca powder (optional)

Method:

• Preheat your oven to 180C/ gas mark 4 and line a baking tray with baking paper.

• In a large bowl add the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, Himalayan salt, cinnamon and maca. Stir until evenly distributed.

• In a separate bowl, stir together the coconut blossom nectar, nut butter of choice (lazy bones here used almond butter!) and coconut oil until thoroughly combined.

• Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until the mixture will start to form a ball.

• Take a small handful of the dough and roll into a small cookie sized ball and place on the baking paper. Repeat, making sure the cookies are evenly spaced, until the entire dough has been used. This should make around ten cookies. Make sure that the cookies are holding together. If they are crumbling, place the mixture in the fridge for 20 minutes and repeat this step. 20150528_183554_1
• Once you have your cookies evenly placed out, lightly flatten them with the back of a spoon until they are about 1cm thick. Place a half macadamia nut, round size up in the middle of each ball.

• Place in the oven for 10 minutes, or until the edges begin to slightly brown.

• Remove from the oven and let them cool before trying to remove them from the baking paper.

• Once they have cooled and are ready to eat, serve with your favourite cup of brew. Enjoy!
*These cookies will store for around a week in a seal-able container.

Macadamia Nut Butter Recipe

If you fancy taking a whack at making your own nut butter, macadamia is one of the most rewarding. A beautiful white paste, it is like sweet butter.

Ingredients:

• 500g of macadamia nuts
• 7 Tbsp of coconut oil
• Pinch of Himalayan salt

Method:

• Soak the macadamia nuts the night before in salt water then leave to dry in a warm place or low temperature (30C) oven for a couple of hours – this reduces the phytic acid in the nuts and makes them far easier to blend. However this is not an essential step.

• Place the nuts into a food processor and blend until they resemble a white thick paste. If you have not soaked the nuts this will take a fair bit longer to blend to reach a smooth consistency – persevere!

• Once you have the creamy consistency add the salt and coconut oil and blend, blend, blenddddddddddd.

• Empty into an old mason jar or a large tumbler that you can cover and store in the refrigerator.

• Go ahead and demolish with a spoon!

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