Recipes

Banana Ice Cream

20150528_114415It’s that time of year again where ice cream is everywhere. There’s nothing better than enjoying a cooling ice cream after a long day in a hot office, and now you can do it without the calories and the added sugars!

This recipe is SUPER SIMPLE! It has just one essential ingredient.

I’ve known about this idea for a while, but never tried it. I tried it last week and now I’ll permanently have bananas in my freezer, and when you taste this you’ll find out why! It actually tastes like creamy, ice cream. Suitable for just about anybody; those watching their weight, those with lactose intolerance, vegans, children, even babies! Plus you can vary it and make it “more gourmet” by adding in different things.

Healthy, cheap, tasty and sooo easy to make!

You’ll need a banana and a food processor.

(This recipe works best with ripe, sweet and soft bananas…the ones that are starting to go a little black in your fruit bowl!)

METHOD
1. Peel the banana, slice into coins and freeze in an airtight container or freezer bag (a couple of hours should be enough but overnight is best).
20150528_113850

 

2. Pop the banana slices into a food processor and blend.

 

20150528_1140133. First, they’ll appear crumb-like (see picture >>). Use a soft spatula to scrape the bits off that are stuck to the sides and keep going!

4. Once your bananas are becoming smoother, you can add in other ingredients if you want (see below for ideas).

5. Keep blending until your bananas (and extras) resemble a smooth, creamy texture…like ice cream!

6. You can enjoy it immediately, or you can put it into an airtight container and put it back in the freezer until it becomes more solid.

Additional flavourings (some not suitable for babies <12 months age):
– Walnuts (or other nuts)
– Peanut butter
– Frozen berries
– Honey
– Chocolate chips
– Nutella
– Crumbed biscuits (speculoos or ginger nuts!)
– 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon or ginger

Do let me know what you think and if you try adding in different things!

Healthy Living, Nutrition

How to gain weight

I saw a post on Facebook yesterday which reminded me of my initial idea I had months ago for this post. Dietitians don’t just work with people who want to lose weight or in health promotion. Actually, before I came to Belgium, a lot of my work was helping people gain weight. Especially for dietitians who work within hospital settings, a lot of the time we help build up those who are struggling, for whatever reason, to maintain weight.

Of course this doesn’t just go for ill people in hospital, some people find it difficult to maintain weight generally. For some, maintaining or gaining weight is as difficult as it is for others to keep it off.

Energy-dense foods such as chocolate, cake and pastries may help us gain weight, but they’re not going to be providing us with many other nutritional benefits. So, how does one go about gaining weight in a healthy way?

Little and often
Small frequent meals (or SFM, for those of us dietitians who like our acronyms!). This technique is particularly helpful if you don’t have a very big appetite, or aren’t able to manage a large meal. Some people naturally prefer to graze all day rather than concentrate calories into three meals, and that’s fine, whatever suits you and your stomach!
If you are already managing three meals per day, you should try and incorporate snacks between each meal to up your calorie intake (see below for some healthy snack ideas).

Snacking
Nuts, seeds and dried fruits are all healthy snacks that are easy to pick at and convenient to have at your desk. A handful of nuts will provide you with micronutrients, good fats, protein and those much needed calories, so get snacking! You can also add seeds or nuts to your meals, they taste great on porridge and in salads. Try having peanut butter on toast as a snack or, if you haven’t already seen, check out my healthy flapjack recipes.
Of course fruit is a healthy component of any diet, but dried fruit especially is useful when trying to increase your calorie intake. Not just because it’s easy to store in your desk drawer, but compare eating 5 plums to 5 prunes…I know which I’d find more manageable!

Think full fat dairy
Sweets, cakes and goodies aren’t the only foods that are fairly energy dense. Dairy products are convenient snacks and a good source of protein and calcium. A 30g portion of cheese contains around 100 calories. Sprinkle on top of your meal, snack on some cheese and crackers, add it to your salads…the choices are endless!
If you currently use skimmed or semi-skimmed milk switching to full cream could make a difference to your total calories. Half a pint of full cream milk contains around 100 calories more than skimmed. Incorporate into your diet through making fruit and vegetable smoothies or hot, milky drinks. You can also try adding full cream milk to soups, curries or other sauces (a little cream and coconut milk may also work well here, depending on the dish!)

Good fats
You may know that there are ‘good’ fats and ‘bad’ fats, but do you know that calorie wise, all fats are the same? Fats are the most calorie-dense nutrient, containing 9 kcals per gram. Naturally, it would seem more healthful that rather than upping your calorie intake using bad fats, you increase your intake of good fats, right? Well I’ve already mentioned some sources of good fats (nuts above) but the fats found in avocado, oily fish and olive or rapeseed oils will provide you with the calories and a dose of other good things too. Try making a guacamole dip or adding avocado to your lunch, aim to have oily fish 1-2 times per week and add an olive oil dressing to your vegetables.

Cooking methods
When I’m talking health promotion, there are certain cooking methods that I recommend to reduce fat and calorie intake. For people who are struggling to maintain or gain weight, certain cooking methods will increase the calories found in that meal. Using ‘good’ fat oils, such as olive or rapeseed, and adding them in when cooking will increase the amount of calories in that meal. For example, consider frying fish or roasting vegetables, rather than baking or boiling them.

Adding in
Think about your current routine, and reflect on where it may be possible for you to add something extra in. Think about your meals, snacks and drinks. Even making those 3 coffees milky ones could make a difference. You may be able to try something relatively simple such as increasing the portion sizes of the food you eat, topping it in cheese or serving it with a side of avocado, having a snack of cheese and biscuits or even introducing something for dessert.

 

Not all of these tips will be suitable for everyone, and if you’re really struggling to maintain your weight I’d recommend that you seek out personalised help from a dietitian.

Recipes

Chickpea & raisin cookies

Here’s another chickpea recipe for you to try out! If you missed my chickpea chocolate brownie recipe, click here to take a look.

I’m having lots of fun trying out chickpea recipes! These cookies are nutty, sweet and more filling than your standard cookie. They’re also flour-less so suitable for those intolerant to gluten. When they’ve cooled they’re more of a cake texture than crunchy, but still, the perfect accompaniment to your afternoon cup of tea. Crunch from the nuts and sweet raisins, plus the protein will make you feel fuller so one will hit the spot!

20150329_165331Ingredients:
240g chickpeas
40g powdered almonds
100g raisins
80g chopped almonds
1 egg
80g sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 220’c and line a flat baking tray with greaseproof paper.
2. Add all of the ingredients except the raisins and chopped almonds to a food processor and blend for a couple of minutes, until you have a smooth mixture.
3. Add the almonds and raisins to the mixture and ‘pulse’ the food processor a couple of times to mix them in.
4. Dollop a small ball of the dough onto the greaseproof paper and press flat into a cookie shape. Repeat until you have used up all the mixture (I made 18 from the above ingredients).
5. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the edges are starting to get crispy. Let cool and enjoy 🙂

Store in an airtight container!20150329_165525

The nutritional information below is per cookie:
CALORIES: 100kcal
TOTAL FAT: 4.4g
SATURATED FAT: 0.3g
PROTEIN: 3.2g

Recipes

Chickpea Brownies

20150329_180015These gooey, delicious mouthfuls of chocolate indulgence are the perfect bake for the Easter holidays! Chuck all the ingredients into a food processor, throw in the oven and…voila!!

Honestly…don’t let the chickpeas put you off. They taste fantastic! Plus, they’re suitable for those with coeliac disease as they are gluten free!

The fact that they contain more protein than your standard chocolate brownie should help with satiety and prevent you going back for more! The perfect sweet treat for a little bit of what you fancy!

Ingredients:
300g chickpeas
2 eggs
40g cocoa powder
80g sugar*
1 tsp coconut oil (melted)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
20mls espresso coffee (optional)**
100g dark chocolate chips

*You can replace with sweetener if desired
**Another suggestion from a blog reader is to include marmalade in the mixture to give it an orangey taste…yum!

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 180’c and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
2.  I used a bar of dark chocolate (at least 70%) and put it through the food processor to make chocolate chips. It’s a good idea to leave some bigger chunks as this adds to the gooey texture of the brownies. Tip this into a bowl for the moment.
3. Place the chickpeas, coconut oil, coffee and eggs into the food processor. Blend for a minute or so.
4. Mix together the dry ingredients (cocoa, sugar, baking powder and salt). Add this to the chickpea mixture in the food processor and continue to blend….well!
5. Once you have a smooth mixture, stir in your chocolate chips.
6. Now pour the mixture into the lined tray. You’ll need to flatten it a little as the bake won’t change shape much, so ensure it looks how you want it to.
7. Place in the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes, until the top is firm to the touch and the surface has begun to crack. A toothpick should also come out (relatively) clean.
8. Let the bake cool completely before cutting into 12 pieces. Dust with icing sugar, and serve 🙂

The nutritional information below is per brownie:20150329_175956
CALORIES: 134kcal
TOTAL FAT: 4.8g
SATURATED FAT: 2.5g
PROTEIN: 4.25g

I love receiving pictures of you making my recipes:

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rachel brownies

Recipes

Roasted Chickpeas

I’ve been making these for a while, but not got round to posting a recipe. These are great for those people who like to nibble, they have the crunch of crisps, but less saturated fat. Chickpeas are also a great source of protein and soluble fibre, which helps keep you fuller for longer.
They’re super easy to make and you can change the flavour so you don’t get bored. They are slightly addictive though, and (unless you’re okay putting up with the repercussions of bean-overload)…I’d recommend only having a handful at a time!

Ingredients:roasted chickpeas
1 tin of chickpeas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon paprika
Salt & pepper to season

  • Alternatives:
    – S
    wap the paprika for pretty much any spice you like (curry, chili powder, you could even try mustard!)
    – Swap the olive oil for coconut oil and have with cinnamon and honey for a sweeter alternative (omit the pepper).

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 200’c.
2. Drain the chickpeas and rinse under cold water.
3. Tip the chickpeas onto some kitchen roll and rub dry. This will remove some of the husks (that’s okay!)
4. Add the chickpeas into a bowl along with the oil and your choice of spices. Season as desired and mix well, ensuring every chickpea is coated.
5. Place onto a baking tray and into the oven.
6. Roast for about 30-40 minutes until the chickpeas are crispy. The longer you leave them, the crispier they’ll get – just don’t let them burn!
7. Allow to cool, and serve. Store in an airtight container and they keep well.

The nutritional information below is per 45g portion:
CALORIES: 90kcal
TOTAL FAT: 3.5g
SATURATED FAT: 0.5g
PROTEIN: 4g

Recipes

Apple & Walnut Flapjacks

I love walnuts! They taste great in salads, yoghurts, cakes and on their own! They are a rich source of many minerals, while also providing protein, healthy fats and vitamin E. It’s very easy to add them into your diet, either as a snack or as an extra ingredient.

These flapjacks are lovely, and the apple/walnut combo is a match made in heaven!

20150205_182603Ingredients:
200g oats
40g dried apple
130g pureed apple
90g sultanas
40g chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons honey
50g low fat natural yoghurt

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 220’c and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
2. Using a pair of kitchen scissors, chop up the dried apple into small chunks.
3. Mix together the oats, chopped dried apple, sultanas and chopped walnuts in a large bowl.
4. Stir in the pureed apple.
5. In a separate bowl, mix together the yoghurt and the honey, and then add that to the oats.
6. Make 20150204_102412sure all of the ingredients are well-combined, add them into the pre-lined tray and press them down slightly.
7. Pop in the oven for around an hour, or until the edges begin to crisp.
8. Slice into 12 pieces and store in an airtight container.

The nutritional information below is per portion:
CALORIES: 130kcal
TOTAL FAT: 3g
SATURATED FAT: 0.3g
PROTEIN: 4g

Recipes

Apple & Cinnamon Flapjacks

These flapjacks are a little bit naughty, but so nice! I’ve added golden syrup which makes them chewy and sweet. However, they use yoghurt in place of butter so they’re lower in saturated fat than conventional flapjack recipes. They are a filling, healthier option for when you need a little sweet treat.
I just love how you know exactly what’s in them, if you’d prefer them less sweet, then add less syrup! Although I must say, the gooey, chewy sweetness combined with the cinnamon flavour makes this recipe one of my personal favourites.

Ingredients20150127_145014
200g oats (use gluten-free oats if required)
130g sultanas
40g seeds (I used pumpkin)
5 tablespooons pureed apple
70g low fat natural yoghurt (should be gluten free, but double check!)
1 1/2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 220’c and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
2. Mix together the oats, sultanas, seeds and cinnamon in a large bowl.
3. In another bowl, mix together the golden syrup, yoghurt and apple.
4. Add the liquids to the oats mix and stir the mixture until all the oats are covered and sticky.
5. Tip the mixture into the lined baking tray and flatten it down slightly.
6.  Pop into the oven and cook for around 30 minutes until the top appears golden.
7. Slice into 12 pieces and store in an airtight container.

The nutritional data below is per portion based on the above yielding 12 flapjacks.
CALORIES: 130kcal
TOTAL FAT: 2.8g
SATURATED FAT: 0.5g
PROTEIN: 4g

If you like these, try my Apricot and Pistachio Flapjacks.

Recipes

Almond & cranberry rock cakes

Sometimes you just need SOMETHING to go with that cup of tea, and SOMETIMES a piece of fruit just isn’t going to cut it 😉

These cute little rock cakes are perfect for those moment. They’re made with ground almonds which makes them high in protein and they don’t contain any butter which means they’re lower in saturated fat than your standard rock cake recipe.

If you fancy doing some baking today, give these a go!

Ingredients20150122_200353

100g ground almonds
80g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground ginger
50g dried cranberries
30g sugar
2 eggs
Honey (optional)

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 220’c.
2. Sieve the flour, and add it into a bowl containing the ground almonds, baking powder and ginger.
3. Add in the cranberries and the sugar and give it a good ol’ mix!
4. In a separate bowl, whisk the 2 eggs.
5. Add the eggs to the other ingredients and stir well until you have a sticky consistency.
6. Plop little dollops of the mixture onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper (mixture should make 12).
7. If desired, you can add a little drizzle of honey to the top of each cake. It adds a little sweetness and helps the cake crisp up a bit.
8.  Pop into the oven and cook for around 30 minutes until the cakes are golden in colour.

The nutritional data below is per portion based on the above yielding 12 rock cakes.
CALORIES: 100kcal
TOTAL FAT: 5g
SATURATED FAT: 0.5g
PROTEIN: 3.5g

Recipes

Hummus

Hummus is a healthy and handy food that’s packed with protein, high in soluble fibre and a good source of healthy fats. It’s so versatile too, it can accompany a meal, works great as a dressing or sauce, in sandwiches or even on its own.

Problem is, shop-bought hummus can vary hugely in terms of calorie and fat content. If you’re watching your weight, you can often be left wondering if it’s a healthy or less healthy choice (particularly in Belgium where the shop-bought hummus I’ve tried actually doesn’t have a calorie information on the label!).

Making your own means you know exactly what’s in it and saves you money too!

Like a lot of my recipes, I make use of my freezer and make this in large batches and freeze it. Hummus freezes well, just ensure you use an airtight container and leave a little room at the top to allow it to expand. When you come to defrost it, leave it in the fridge overnight and give it a good stir before serving.

I’ve made my own hummus for a while, and I adapt the recipe to create different flavours, but this recipe produces a good base for you to use and add your own flavours to.

Ingredients20150122_131113
400g chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
200g low fat natural yoghurt
Salt & pepper to season
Paprika (optional)

Method
1. Crush the garlic and put into the food processor with the tahini and lemon juice. Blend.
2. Add the chickpeas and the yoghurt (I like to leave a handful of chickpeas out to have whole in the hummus, but you can add them all if you prefer).
3. Blend until you have a relatively smooth consistency (if it’s not runny enough you can add more natural yoghurt or a little water). Taste it and season it to your taste at this point too, you can also add paprika or other spices if desired.
4. Blend again, until desired consistency is reached.
5. Pop into an airtight container, remembering to add your whole chickpeas back in if you left some out earlier! It can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

The nutritional data below is based on the above ingredients yielding 8 portions.
CALORIES: 120kcal
TOTAL FAT: 3.5g
SATURATED FAT: 0.5g
PROTEIN: 6g

Recipes

Apricot and Pistachio Flapjacks

January…our cupboards contain the remnants of the naughty leftovers from Christmas, and we find ourselves ‘eating up’ the chocolate goodies. Well, it’s time to gain control again and make some healthy, much more filling snacks that we can treat ourselves to!

Oats are the perfect food to fill us up as they release their energy slowly, team that with the protein from the nuts/seeds and some fruit for good measure, and you’re onto a winner. This recipe contains no added sugar and much less butter than conventional flapjack recipes, using honey and apricot to sweeten and yoghurt to add the moisture.

Ingredients20150120_210902
200g oats
1 banana
100g sultanas
60g apricots
30g pistachios
30g pumpkin seeds
50g butter
70g low fat plain yoghurt
1 tablespoon honey

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 200’c and line a baking tray with grease-proof paper.
2. Melt the butter (30 seconds in the microwave) and add in the honey, yoghurt and banana. Mash all this up.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together the oats, sultanas, pistachios and seeds.
4. Pour the butter mixture into the oats and mix well.
6. Tip the flapjack mixture into the lined tin, sprinkle on the chopped apricots and press them slightly into the mixture.
7. Pop in the oven for 30-40 minutes. You may wish to cover it if you don’t want the apricots/sultanas to crisp up.
8. Chop into 18 square pieces and store in an airtight container.

The nutritional data below is based on the above ingredients yielding 18 portions.
CALORIES: 110kcal
TOTAL FAT: 4.5g
SATURATED FAT: 4g
PROTEIN: 3g

I love receiving photos of you trying out my recipe suggestions!

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