For a long time, we have collectively been aware of the fact the fad diets do not work, however so many of us continually appear to get caught up in the cycle of eating less, losing weight fast, to then only go and put it back on again soon after. As the Summer Season is in full swing, it’s essential to ensure that we are aware of this common Summer Diet, and aim to eat as mindfully as possible as the indulgence is taken up a gear! Occasionally, phrases similar to “if I’m good” or “I deserve it” can float around, allowing us to feel as though food can be used as either a punishment or a reward, however it’s much more productive to gain some balance and perspective on the food we eat at this time of year.
EAT A HEALTHY BREKKIE
It’s the old fave that we all know but don’t always abide by, yes you guessed it (well, it is in the sub heading…), eat breakfast! Ensuring you eat a healthy first meal of the day will of course set you up for the day ahead, but will more importantly allow you to worry less about what you eat for the rest of the day (within reason, of course!). If you are to have a smoothie bowl packed with goodness and topped with seeds, fruit or cacao nibs, with a glass of fresh juice, a herbal tea or another healthy alternative, you will automatically feel as though you are on course for a healthier day and subconsciously want to remain feeling super healthy, but will equally not be as worried about having what you really want for dinner!
DON’T BE FOOLED
A word of guidance now, don’t be fooled by the false promises of fad diets, as let’s face it, they make you feel well and truly miserable! Remember when the sun is out, it’s a lot easier to thrive off raw fruit and veg, with a naturally lower calorie content than other foods and undoubtedly bursting with goodness! Try keep up your healthy eating with exciting recipes and delicious seasonal fruit and veg.
Many people fear the phrase “portion control” as it can come with negative connotations, however the premise of it really is to ensure you don’t overload your plate with an unnecessary amount of food. If fad-ing is a familiar thing for you, aim to exercise portion control (or whichever way you wish to phrase it) when having the more indulgent foods, as the misery from under eating can swing the other way once the 10th profiterole has been consumed, meaning you end up feeling equally as bad, and resulting in the lead up to a fad diet being on the cards! Portion properly throughout the day and you one, won’t be as ravenous when meal time hits, and two, will be able to enjoy your choice of meal without any of the ‘guilty’ repercussions.
SNACK YOUR HEART OUT
Snacking sometimes has a bad rep, however if you want to avoid feeling the need to fad in the future, snacking is a consistent and reliable way of ensuring that you aren’t going to reach for the choccy biscuits or family bag of crisps later on in the evening. Preparing small, sandwich - style bags with nuts, seeds, dried fruit or fresh fruit is a brilliant way of knowing that you have food on you for emergency hunger situations, in turn encouraging you to snack healthily, resulting in there being no need for over-indulging, and you feeling extremely satisfied in the long run.
It’s easy to fall into the all-or-nothing trap of eating, presuming that, if you eat really heathily for a week, you are then granted permission to eat whatever you want (binge style) a day following this; As soon as this is over, you end up feeling somewhat guilty about the quantity and quality of food you have consumed, and there begins the fad diet once again. By ensuring that you have a relaxed approach to your eating schedule, your decisions regarding the food you eat will be much easier as you will inevitably act more instinctively and if you wish to eat something healthy or alternatively unhealthily, it will be a more conscious, less impulsive decision.
Whilst bearing these points in mind, it’s important to acknowledge that different things work for different people, and so to only commit to eating brekkie or consuming healthy snacks is absolutely fine, just as long as it works for you and your daily routine, as let’s face it, we can’t always do everything we know we should do all the time! So steer away from those age old fads if you’re looking for long term health and happiness, just make sure you enjoy the journey while you’re doing it!
National Vegetarian Week is upon us, so why not try one of these delicious meat-free meals?
These dishes are full of flavour, texture and colour so you won't feel like you're missing out on anything at all.
For the Pasta and Cheese lovers..
Mac and three cheeses recipe
1 x 410g tin of evaporated milk
200g cream cheese
2 tsp English mustard
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
3 tbsp chi coconut oil
1 small garlic clove, crushed
175g Comté or cheddar, grated
75g stilton, crumbled
500g green beans
1 tbsp chopped chives
45g sourdough breadcrumbs
150g sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
Whisk the evaporated milk, cream cheese and mustard well. Add the nutmeg and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
Bring 3.5 litres of salted water to a boil, and add the macaroni, slowly, making sure the water is always boiling. Stir for a minute to stop the macaroni sticking together. Test after about eight minutes – the macaroni should be very al dente. Drain well and add to the cream-cheese mixture.
Mix a tablespoon of coconut oil and garlic and use this to grease a deep 20 x 20cm (8 x8 in) baking-dish. Spread half of the macaroni on the bottom of the dish. Scatter on half of the Comté and all of the stilton, cover with another layer of macaroni and finish with the rest of the Comté. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until bubbly and golden.
Boil or steam the green beans until tender with a slight crunch – about five minutes. Drain, place in a bowl and sprinkle with the chives.
Heat the coconut oil in a frying-pan. When hot, add the breadcrumbs and pecans and cook for two to three minutes, until crisp and golden. Add the beans and toss to coat them well.
Serve the macaroni with green beans and, if you wish, a few tomatoes on the side.
Mushroom, spinach, and blue-cheese lasagne
This creamy vegetarian lasagne full of chesnut mushrooms is perfect served with a big salad and some fresh crusty bread
3 tbsp olive oil
2 x 250g packs chestnut mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large clove of garlic, crushed
2 x 240g packs pre-washed fresh spinach
1 large jar ready-made white sauce (710g)
12 sheets ready-to-bake lasagne
125g blue cheese, crumbled
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan, add half the mushrooms and fry until golden, about five minutes. Transfer them to kitchen paper, add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and fry the remaining mushrooms, also transferring them to kitchen paper after five minutes.
Add the final tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and cook the onion and garlic for about four minutes, until soft. Add the spinach to the pan, cover with a lid and allow it to wilt for one to two minutes. Return the mushrooms to the pan, mix together and season.
Use a rectangular dish about 24 x 18cm and spread a layer of white sauce on the base. Place three lasagne sheets on the sauce followed by a third of the mushroom mixture, another layer of white sauce and some crumbled cheese.
Add another three sheets of lasagne and continue layering, finishing with the final three sheets of lasagne, a good covering of white sauce and a sprinkling of crumbled cheese.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until it is cooked through and the topping is bubbling and golden. Serve with a side salad or garlic bread.
Aubergine, pepper and yogurt stacks with coriander pesto
3 red peppers
chi coconut oil for brushing
2 large aubergines
8 heaped tbsp Greek yogurt
sprigs of coriander to serve
For the pesto:
60g (2oz) coriander leaves
40g (1½oz) blanched almonds, lightly toasted
2 garlic cloves, chopped
juice of ½ lemon
125ml (4fl oz) extra-virgin olive oil (not too grassy)
60g (2oz) feta cheese, finely crumbled
1 red chilli, halved, deseeded and finely chopped
1 green chilli, halved, deseeded and finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5. Halve the peppers and remove the seeds and stalk. Put into a small roasting-tin and brush with olive oil. Season. Roast for 35 minutes, or until the peppers are tender and the edges of the flesh are slightly scorched.
Meanwhile make the pesto by putting everything, except the feta and chilli, into a food processor. Whizz to a purée. Season to taste, then scrape into a bowl and add the feta cheese and chilli.
Bean chilli with chocolate and walnuts
2 tbsp chi coconut oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp cumin seeds or 1 tsp ground cumin
1 fresh chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (more if you like it hot)
1 tsp ground paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
1 red and 1 yellow pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 sweetcorn cobs (kernels cut off) or 150g thawed frozen sweetcorn
2 large celery sticks (use leaves too), finely sliced
150g walnuts, very finely chopped
300g dried mixed beans, such as kidney, black-eye or borlotti, soaked and cooked (or 3 x 400g cans cooked mixed pulses, drained)
2 x 400g cans whole plum tomatoes
2 tsp sea salt
60g dark chocolate (minimum 80 per cent cocoa solids), broken into pieces
Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan or casserole over a medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, spices and oregano and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally, until the spices smell fragrant and the onions are soft but not browned.
Add the peppers, carrot, sweetcorn and celery and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the walnuts, beans, tomatoes, 250ml (9fl oz) water and salt, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Stir in the chocolate and cook for a couple of minutes. Taste and season.
Serve in bowls, garnished with a dollop of yogurt and chopped coriander with toasted corn tortillas on the side. Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge for three to five days.
It's official. Summer is well and truly on its way, so it's time to dust off the barbecue and prepare to hot-foot it to the supermarket meat aisle.The sun is out and so thoughts naturally turn to eating - and cooking - al fresco.
Don't just throw a few boring bangers on the barbecue though: a simple marinade can transform even the cheapest cuts of meat, while vegetables like asparagus and peppers are also delicious when grilled.
British summers may be a bit of a running joke in terms of the weather, but we Brits certainly know how to make the most of whatever sunny days we are blessed with, and our love of a good barbecue is a prime example.
CLEAN AND OIL THE BBQ
Before and after every session, you should clean and oil your grill. Get it nice and hot to burn off any crud, then, using tongs, rub over with a kitchen towel dipped in a light cooking oil. This keeps your grill hygienic as well as helping prevent food from sticking to the bars.
GET IN THE ZONE
Set up your BBQ so you have two cooking zones, one directly over the flames for searing, the other cooler to allow the meat to cook through indirectly. You can cook anything from sausages and burgers through to whole joints of meat this way. With a charcoal grill, just pile your coals to one side. With a gas grill, keep the burners medium-high on one side and low-off on the other.
True BBQ takes time and patience. The meat is done when it's done – don't try to rush things. When grilling, learn to control your fire and keep the heat consistent. Keep a spritz bottle full of water handy and douse flames that start getting out of hand.
And definitely don't squeeze. Once you've put the meat on the grill, just leave it. You should only turn once or twice through cooking. Squashing burgers and steaks down on the grill just squeezes out all the lovely the juice and causes flare-ups.
LEAVE SAUCES 'TIL THE END
BBQ sauces and glazes have a high sugar content that will burn very quickly and go bitter. Cook your meat through and then glaze/sauce towards the end and allow to go sticky over indirect heat.
BUY A THERMOMETER
Overcooking is as sinful as undercooking. Invest in a good instant read thermometer – so you know the exact temperature of the meat – and take away the guesswork. You'll always know the chicken is cooked through and you'll be able to serve up the perfect medium-rare steak.
SMOKE IT OUT
Smoke is a seasoning so learn to add subtle smoke flavour to your food. Wrap woodchips up in a couple of layers of thick foil and pierce a few times before throwing onto the grill over the gas burners. With a charcoal BBQ, just throw the chips straight onto the coals and close the lid. Our favourite woods to smoke with are cherry, pecan and hickory.
GIVE IT A RUB
Meat, and meat alternatives benefit from a generous seasoning prior to cooking. This base rub will work well particularly on pork, quorn or chicken. Use this is a starting point to develop your own, according to the flavours you enjoy.
1tbsp celery salt or garlic powder
2tbsp white sugar
22 tbsp brown sugar
2tbsp chilli powder
2tbsp black pepper
1tbsp cayenne pepper or chipotle
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and store in an air tight container.
Finally what better to serve BBQ food than a delicious salad, see this recipe below..
1 kg Jersey Royals
2 bunches of fresh mint
1 red onion
200 g cornichon
250 ml red wine vinegar
Scrub the potatoes, pick and finely chop the mint, reserving the stalks, then peel and thinly slice the onion. Slice the cornichons into strips.
Cook the Jersey Royals and mint stalks in a saucepan of salted boiling water for about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Drain and leave to cool in the colander (for the best flavour, avoid cooling the potatoes by rinsing in cold water).
While potatoes are cooling, place the onion in a bowl, pour over the red wine vinegar and leave to marinate.
Once potatoes are cool enough to handle, crush them slightly with your hands into a large salad bowl, drain and add the onions along with the cornichons and mint. Season, add a splash of oil and serve.
The cooking clouds have started to lift, the blossom is out and so surely, now it is most definitely time to leave roasting behind for a bit, along with woolly hats and winter coats. But something in us doesn’t feel JUST ready for salads and steamers only yet ...Sunday roasts are here to stay!
Try these two types of roasting: one fast and full-on, the other slow and sweet. For the fast roast, peppers, broad beans (pod-and-all) and radishes were sent to a searing hot oven, bringing smokiness lots of flavour. The slow roast is sweeter from the baby vegetables.
Both roasts are simply spiced while they cook to allow the character of all the vegetables to shine bright. They are then carefully coated in herby spring dressings which make the roast so delicious too!
Roast spring roots with turnip and carrot-top pesto
200g new potatoes (jersey royals), scrubbed clean
200g baby beetroots, tops saved, scrubbed clean
200g baby turnips, tops saved, scrubbed clean
200g baby carrots, tops saved, scrubbed clean
6 baby onions, peeled and halved
Juice of 2 lemons
Juice of 1 orange
1 head of garlic, cloves separated, but unpeeled
For the pesto
A bunch of mint, leaves picked from the stalks
A bunch of thyme
Saved turnip tops or a big bunch of watercress
Saved carrot tops or a big bunch of parsley
4 cornichons or little gherkins
100g hazelnuts or almonds, roasted
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp baby capers
Salt and black pepper
A small bunch of radishes
1 Preheat your oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Take all your scrubbed vegetables, keeping the tops for later, and cut any larger vegetables in half – you want everything to roast in about the same length of time. Divide the vegetables between two baking trays. Squeeze the juice of the lemon and the orange over the veg, then put the squeezed halves on the tray. Scatter the unpeeled garlic cloves over the top and put both trays in to roast for 45 minutes, or until everything is soft throughout and brown round the edges.
2 Meanwhile, wash, dry and finely chop your herbs and vegetable tops, keeping the beetroot tops for later. Finely chop the cornichons too.
3 Put the nuts in a pestle and mortar, then bash well until you have a rough, crumby texture. Mix with the chopped herbs and tops, the olive oil, cornichons, capers and a good pinch each of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
4 Once the vegetables are ready, scatter over the beetroot tops for the last few minutes. Once everything is ready, the vegetables are nicely golden and the beetroot tops have wilted and begun to crisp a little at the edges, take the tray out of the oven. Carefully squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins into a little bowl, then mash them well and add to the herb mixture.
5 Use tongs to squeeze the juice out of the (still hot) roasted citrus – even the ones you originally squeezed will have become juicy again after roasting.
6 Serve the veg on a big platter with the garlic, herb and almond dressing for spooning over.
7 Serve with some bread or brown rice if you are particularly hungry; a spoonful of tart yoghurt is also delicious too!
Flash-roast green veg
8 green peppers
4 red onions, peeled and cut into thin wedges
8 broad beans in their pods
4 little gem lettuces, washed and cut into wedges
A bunch of long radishes, washed
A bunch of spring onions
Salt and black pepper
2 good pinches of Turkish chilli powder (pul biber)
Extra virgin olive oil
A small bunch of thyme
1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, or 300g jarred chickpeas, drained (optional)
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
For the dressing
A splash of white wine vinegar
A small bunch of mint
A small bunch of dill
A small bunch of parsley
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 First, preheat your oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Put all the vegetables on to a tray, season with salt, pepper and chilli, then drizzle with olive oil and put into the oven to roast for 25 minutes. You want the oven to be very hot, so that everything will catch and char.
2 On another tray, lay the whole block of feta on one side and the chickpeas on the other. Top the feta with a little more chilli, half the lemon zest and the thyme tips. Sprinkle the chickpeas with about 2 tbsp vinegar. Put this into the oven underneath the veg for the final 20 minutes.
3 Meanwhile, make the dressing. Chop all the herbs and put them into a bowl with the remaining lemon zest and half the juice, plus 4 tbsp of olive oil.
4 When the veg is nearly done, squeeze the last of the lemon juice over the top, scatter with garlic and return the tray to the oven for a couple of minutes.
5 Pull both trays out of the oven. Pile each plate with greens, then top with chickpeas, chunks of feta and a good amount of the herb dressing. Serve with Turkish bread, if you like.
Enjoy these delicious roasts this Bank Holiday Weekend - they won't disappoint!
Negative free times. It can be so easy to get caught up in negativity and be negative free from all different angles in your life. From paying bills to unhealthy friendships, and work - related problems, to trouble at home, and we all know that a build up of negativity is never a good feeling. It’s also a gateway into a downward spiral of creating a bigger problem out of something which could be more easily solvable. Here is a small breakdown of how to have a negative free lifestyle!
GET RID OF TOXIC RELATIONSHIPS
At the time it may feel difficult to remove people from your life that you have grown to cherish, however subconsciously, someone who is in your immediate circle may be having a profound affect on your happiness.
When people feel bad about themselves they occasionally tend to put other people down without knowing it, which is in no way good for your overall happiness. If a relationship with a family member for example is reflecting something of this nature then it may be difficult to completely get out of, but the best approach is to explain how this person is making you feel as this could be resolved. If this doesn't work, distancing yourself for your own benefit may be the best option.
Occasionally it can be easy to dwell over things in your life which aren’t going so well, however it’s not going to stand you in good stead for when you want to remove any negativity within your life. Sometimes, taking a moment each day to focus on the positive parts of your life, whether it be loving your job, having a wonderful family, or even the sun shining outside, appreciating these brilliant things around you will do wonders for subconsciously removing negativity from your life and enjoying the things that really matter in your life. Surround yourself with positive people and you’ll always be negative free!
DO MORE OF WHAT YOU LOVE
It’s easy to forget that life is so short sometimes, and we subsequently forget to enjoy doing more of what we love. Let’s face it, what’s the point in doing things all the time that we don’t enjoy? We spend far too long focusing our energy on parts of our lives which we don’t love that we often forget to embrace the things we do love. If painting takes your fancy or you’ve always loved going to the theatre, why do you not do them anymore? When we take away the complicated side of adult life and make it actually rather simple, as long as we are doing the fundamental things in our lives we need to do to function normally, using as much time as possible doing things we enjoy should be a priority, and is most definitely essential to be negative free!
CHANGE YOUR MINDSET
It’s surprising how just a simple shift in mindset can improve your positivity so dramatically. Without dipping too much into the idea of the law of attraction, unless something extremely traumatic happens in your life which undoubtedly requires down time, a swift shift in the way you view a situation can be really valuable when wanting to remove negativity from your life. Instead of thinking for example, that an interview didn’t go very well because you didn’t say everything you planned to say, shift that thought and allow yourself to accept that at the time of the interview, you did your absolute best and could not have done any more, another way to be negative free!
EAT FOODS WHICH YOUR BODY WILL THANK YOU FOR
It goes without saying that including foods in your diet that your body will thank you for is essential. Removing some more processed foods from your diet, and replacing them with fresh fruits and vegetables will inevitably allow you to feel more positive and negative free. Ingredients like sugar and sweeteners, along with saturated fats and too much salt, will leave you feeling lethargic and therefore more susceptible to drawing upon the negatives as opposed to the positives. Make sure you stock up on your fruit and veggie crisps with Giving Tree for a happy and healthy snacking delight!
Removing negativity from your life really can be easier than you think, with a few simple changes, your entire view can change and therefore make you happier in the long run! Here's to a negative free outlook!