Protein Courgette Chocolate Bread

I have been literally obsessed with this recipe! It’s by far one of my favourite baking recipe as it has got the perfect moist cake consistency with just the right amount of sweetness and chocolate. You will never EVER guess that it has courgette in it! I have used the courgette in this recipe as when mixed with flaxseeds it helps to bind the cake together plus is a clever way to add extra veggies even into your sweet recipes! For extra protein I have used Fit Delis Chocolate vegan protein powder works perfectly well in any baking recipes as it doesn’t add too much sweetness. This cake is utterly delicious by itself but if you want to take it to the next level add a generous dollop of peanut butter and you will be in heaven! 🙂

Ingredients:

Liquid ingredients:

1/4 cup of apple puree
1/4 cup of melted coconut oil + extra for greasing
1/2 cup of agave nectar or maple syrup
1/4 cup of almond milk
2 tablespoons of milled flaxseeds + 4 tablespoons of water
1 cup of grated courgette squeezed out all the liquid
a dash of vanilla extract

Dry Ingredients:

3/4 cup of gluten free flour (I have used Dove’s Farm)
1/2 cup of oat flour (oats flakes ground into flour by using a blender)
4 tablespoons of raw cacao powder or cocoa powder
1 tablespoon of Fit Delis Chocolate Powder
2 teaspoon of baking powder
a pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup of dairy free chocolate chips + extra to sprinkle on top

Start by preheating the oven at 180 degrees Celsius.

Generously grease of loaf tin with some coconut oil.

In a large bowl mix together the flaxseeds with the water and leave it onto one side unfit it becomes gloppy.

In a separate bowl mix together all the dry ingredients apart from the chocolate chips. To the flaxseeds mixture add the melted coconut oil, agave nectar, almond milk, vanilla extract and grated courgette. Mix everything together and pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Stir everything together but don’t overtax it. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.

Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and gently shake it so it’s evenly spread. Sprinkle some extra chocolate chips on top. Place the loaf in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when pierced in the middle.

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Bali, Gili Islands & Lombok Travel Guide

Oh Bali, Bali where do I even start with you? Ok so let’s start saying that I went to Bali last Christmas for a total of 17 day. We flew from London to Denpasaar and our first stop was 2 nights at the Temple Lodge on Bingin Beach, south of Bali: https://www.thetemplelodge.com

We made the conscious decision to avoid the very famous but also very touristy areas of Kuta and Seminyak for essentially 2 reasons:

I live in London and I feel like I see enough humanity when I am at home, when I am on holiday the less people/traffic/chaos I see the better 🙂 And yes you can probably call me a total antisocial.
Apart from being antisocial I am also boring as hell, lots of bars, loud restaurants and clubs are definitely not my thing. Give me a palm tree and and an iced coconut and I am a happy girl.

The area around Bingin Beach is probably perfect if you want to avoid the mad crowds but still don’t want be completely isolated. There are a lots of different beaches to see and Uluwatu Temple is a definitely a must see if nothing but for the stunning views. But please be wary of really cheeky monkeys! One of them stole my sunglasses from my head and I almost died of heart attack 🙂

The temple lodge was by far the best hotel I ever stayed in. I am not a fan of big resort (something which i try to avoid as much as i can when travelling), I much rather stay either in an Airbnb or in small boutique hotels. Well, the Temple Lodge was simply my dream hotel. It’s tucked away in a quiet and calm corner of tropical paradise and overlooks the dramatic cliff of binging beach. It has different kind of bungalows and accommodations, all very distant from each other. The first 2 nights we stayed in Temple Suite which will make you instantly feel like a jungle princess. It has a private pool (never had that before in my life), a huge bedroom and an open air bathroom/shower. For 2 days it has literally been our corner of paradise. The small restaurant overlooking the beach serves daily dishes with lots of vegetarian and vegan options. Everything I tried was super delicious and fresh and they also have a huge selection of smoothies, juices and fresh coconut AKA heaven 🙂 I love that they are trying to be as eco friendly as possible so they only use bamboo straws (hurray) which you can buy as well, there is a water station where you can refill your bottles and all the toiletries and products used in the spa are very minimal and 100% natural and cruelty free.

It really sounds like I am sponsored by this hotel ( I wish I was) but I can’t honestly recommend this place more.
After Bingin we headed to what is considered the cultural centre of Bali, Ubud. Yes, I watched “Eat, Pray, Love” and I totally wanted to be like Julia Roberts and cycle through luscious green rice fields. Well, Ubud has definitely taken a special place in my heart as it has a very magical vibe which I haven’t found anywhere else. Although it can get quite busy and the traffic can go a bit crazy it still has a very Balinese languor and sense of peace and tranquillity. Although is inland there is sooo much to see! Neither of us can drive a scooter so we hired a taxi driver/ guide for 1 day and we went to visit rice terraces, waterfall and the Instagram famous Bali swing. I would definitely recommend to visit the rice terraces and the waterfall, the Bali swing although I have to admit it’s pretty cool to swing over jungle (and you get awesome pictures) it’s also pretty expensive (£25 per person)and very very touristy.

The other 2 days we just spent them lazying around Ubud, eating tons of vegan food ( at least I did!), buying fruit at the market and just enjoying the atmosphere. My favourite places to eat are definitely Seeds of Life which is a completely raw and vegan cafe with an insane cake selection and Acai Queen for mind blowing acai bowls.

The last day we joined a medicinal herbal walk (Bali Nature Herbal Walks) which I loved and I would definitely recommend it if you are like me are a natural remedies fan. It’s roughly a 2 hours walk and get to see the gorgeous balinese country side with endless rice fields plus you get the chance to learn about the medicinal and health properties of some of herbs/fruits/roots grown in Bali.

By the way in Ubud we stayed at the Villa Blessing which we found on AirBnb.https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/13036641

It’s a super well curated independent villa with a private infinite pool nestled in endless rice fields. The only downside is that it’s 6-7 km from Ubud so you will need either a scooter or a taxi to get into town.

I would have loved to explore more the inlands of Bali as I totally fell in love with the luscious green jungle, the less touristy vibes and the cultural aspects but if you are visiting during the rainy season (December to March) things can get pretty wet. We were lucky in Ubud as we managed to do all our excursions when it wasn’t raining but we did have few very heavy storm. So we decided to head to Gili Islands where they always have better weather conditions even during the rainy season. We took a fast boat from Sanur and in roughly 1 hour and 1/2 we arrived at Gili Trawangan, the largest and I would say the busiest of the 3 Gili Islands.

OK, in all honesty I didn’t love Gili Trawangan. I am really sad to say to say this as I did have really high expectations for the The Gili, dreaming of a tropical paradise. Let me explain why:

1- Because the island is so small there are no cars or scooter (i guess there is no petrol access either) so for taxis and to transport supplies from the boats to hotels etc they use horse carriages. You guys know I am a huge animal lover (that’s why I don’t eat them) so for me seeing horses used in that way made me sad every time I walked next to one.
2- Long strip of tacky bars– again, call me boring as hell but the last thing I want to see on holiday is a karaoke, burger/ tacos/ all day breakfast bars everywhere. That’s why we always prefer to go to rather quieter and less busy places, I guess with Gili Trawangan we didn’t research into it enough.
3- Rubbish – this is probably going to be a constant theme from now on but Gili Trawangan was probably the worst. We stayed at the Villas Ottalia which in itself it’s a lovely hotel complex with independent bungalows with private pools. Unfortunately it was situated right next to the island’s dump which was constantly burning. Because of that all I could smell when I was in our room was burnt plastic. We actually went for a bike ride around the island and we found the dump and it was literally one the saddest thing I have ever seen, piles and piles of all sort of rubbish in the middle of palm trees with lot cows peacefully rummaging around.

For all these reason we decide to leave earlier than we planned (we stayed 2 nights instead of 4) and to head to Gili Meno (the smallest of the 3 islands).

Gili Meno was definitely much more my cup of tea. It’s a tiny island, you can literally walk around it in 30 minutes plus it only has only a handful of ticky ticky bars, few restaurant and that’s pretty much it. The locals call it the Honeymoon Island and I can definitely see why, if you want to escape it all and have your castaway bliss this is the place for you. We decide to spend Christmas here so in total we stayed 4 nights and we stayed at the Gili Ottalia again since they offered us a discount because of the bad experience in Gili Trawangan https://www.lesvillasottaliagili.com

In Gili Meno the hotel is situated directly on the beach and our bungalow was right on it so it was absolutely amazing waking up every day and just go straight into the ocean.


There is no much to do on the island apart from chilling, sunbathing and snorkelling which was totally fine by me. The snorkel is absolutely amazing (the best I ever did) and you don’t need to do a boar tour, just get a mask and you will see amazing fish.

Overall the food on the Gili Islands was definitely not as good as Bali especially when it comes to vegan options. Although the Indonesian cuisine is very veggie friendly ( you can always easily order some veggies with tofu and rice) lots of restaurants were serving mostly seafood and fish and lots of touristy dishes, like burgers and pizzas which I am definitely not a fan of.

After 4 blissful days of doing pretty much nothing we headed to Lombok. We took a boat to Bangsal and from there a bus ride all the way down south to Kuta. Similar to Bali north of Lombok gets the worst weather during the rainy season ( when we arrived it was pouring down) wether the south seems to always be relatively dry and sunny.

In Kuta we stayed at the Bombara Bungalows which is such a cute little spot away from the hustle and bustle of the town. It’s a small hotel with only few bungalows and a communal pool in the middle surrounded by lots of plants and palm trees. The hotel is 5 minutes away from Kuta beach which the Lonely Planet describes as quiet and hardly developed beach, well let me tell that is not the case anymore! Kuta beach really sadly is undergoing a huge development, 2 massive resorts are in the process of being built and its everything apart form quiet.
Kuta town itself is quite lovely and it has a nice buzz but is not overly busy, there are lots of places to eat, my favourite has to be Kenza Cafe has it has a huge selection of smoothies, juices, smoothie bowls (yesss) and lots of vegan options. As sad it might sound I think we ate there pretty much the whole time we were in Kuta. There is another cute spot for breakfast or smoothie bowls called the Yoga bar which similar to Kenza has a good selection of vegan options.


The highlight for me of Lombok was when we visited the Benang Stokel Waterfalls which are about 1 hour and 1/2 away from Kuta. If you are visiting I would suggest to choose the options to see all of them, it’s a fairly easy walk of about 2-3 hours in total (including stopping and dipping in the water) and the luscious jungle is just breathtaking. I really felt I was completely away from everything, it was just the jungle, the water and us (+ the guide as you can’t do the route by yourself).

As simliar to Bali I felt that real beauty of Lombok was probably inland, in its luscious jungle and rice field, away from the busy touristy spots. Again if we were not visiting during the rainy season I probably would have loved to see more of the north of the island.
The thing which I didn’t like the most about Lombok were young kids selling bracelets pretty much everywhere in Kuta and on the beach. Some of them were literally not older than 5-6 years old and it really broke my heart to see them trying to sell stuffs on the streets, in bars and restaurants. Apparently they told us they do it during the holiday season when they are not at school but nevertheless it didn’t feel right. Will these children being on the streets selling bracelets if they were no tourists?
We stayed in Lombok a total of 3 nights and we decide to head back to Bali to the Temple Lodge (i told you it’s pretty special) to spend our last 2 days relaxing and doing pretty much nothing before heading back to London,

I left Bali with a heart of full of gratitude, wonder and mixed emotions. To sum it up these are the things I loved the most:

People – Balinese people are by far the friendliest and kindest people I ever met, they definitely made our stay extra special.
Nature/Jungle/Rice fields– If you are a natural lover like me you will be in your element, especially if visiting the inland of Bali.
Food – Glorious delicious food (not so much on the Gili Islands) lots of vegan options, incredibly abundant tropical fruits, everything was so delicious and extremely affordable.

Things I didn’t like:

Bali dogs– sadly stray dogs are everywhere in Bali, some of them you can tell they had a pretty rough ride and again being an animal lover it really sadden me that nobody seem to care about them.
Rubbish – especially on the Gili island rubbish is pretty much everywhere. Gorgeous white beaches which should be protected and cared are just left to get crammed with rubbished washed ashore from the sea. The locals don’t seem to care too much maybe because they don’t quite know what to do with it as the islands are so small and there isn’t any kind of rubbish collection in place.
Kuta kids – As selfish as it might sound I just couldn’t relax properly while having a meal or walking in Kuta as lots of really young children were always out and about try to sell bracelets to tourists. And most importantly it made me so sad seeing kids on the streets instead of at home playing.

I believe travelling sometimes also means facing things which we might necessarily don’t like or approve and in order to fully immerse ourself in the experience we should let go of all our judgements. By accepting what surround us as it is we can fully feel part of the country we are visiting. Every new country I visited has opened my heart and my mind a bit more helping me to become a more tolerant and compassionate human.

Thank you for reading this post, I really hope it can useful or inspiring if you are planning to visit Bali. I am off to Colombia in a couple of days so stay tuned for another travel blog post coming hopefully very soon!

Lots of Love

X

Elisa

 

 

 

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Chocolate & Jam Sandwich Cookies

These cookies apart from being super pretty, they are just the best edible gift to your special one or to just anyone you want to show some love, because Valentine’s day should be about love and not just in the romantic way! 😉 These cookies are also super easy to make and they are so incredible delicious! I love the contrast between the crunchy biscuit, the gooey jam and the rich dark chocolate. I have to warn you though, they are highly addictive so they might not last very long at all 😉

Makes about 6-8 sandwich cookies

Ingredients:
1/2 cup of plain gluten free flour – I have used Dove’s farm
1/4 cup of ground almond
2 tablespoons of coconut sugar
1 tablespoon of brown rice syrup or honey
2 tablespoons of coconut oil – melted
2 tablespoons of almond milk
A pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
A dash of vanilla extract

For the filling:

Strawberry or Raspberry Jam

For the chocolate coating:
80gr of good quality dark chocolate – I have used 2 bars of Goodio Chocolate
About 1 tablespoon of dried goji berries finely chopped (optional but makes the cookies prettier)

Start by preheating the oven at 180 degrees Celsius. Lay a baking tray with some parchment paper.
In a bowl mix together the flour, ground almond, coconut sugar, salt and baking powder. Pour in the coconut oil, almond milk, brown rice syrup and vanilla extract. Mix everything together, first with a spoon and the your hands until you have a solid dough.
Dust your working surface with some flour and with a rolling gently roll out the dough. The dough can be a bit fragile so I found it easier to do only a couple of cookies at the time. Cut out the cookies with a cookie cutter and place them on the tray. Repeat the process until you have used all the dough. Bake the cookies in the oven for 10-12 minutes. Be careful not to bake them for too long as they burn very easily.

Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool down completely. Spread about 1/2 of teaspoon of the jam onto one cookies and cover with another.
On a double boiler melt the chocolate. Place the cookies on a cooling rack with the parchment paper underneath and the chocolate will drip everywhere. Cover the half of the cookies with the melted chocolate and sprinkle with the chopped goji berries.
Let the chocolate solidify for at least 40-50 minutes. Enjoy!

 

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I absolutely love baking with pumpkin, it’s such an easy and versatile ingredient and it works so well in baking recipes. I also like the fact that it adds natural sweetness so you don’t need to use as much sweetener. Pairing pumpkin with chocolate is just a match made in heaven, in this recipe I have MIA Cranberry & Hazelnut Chocolate which works so well with all the warm spices.

Makes about 10-12 cookies

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup of oats
1/2 cup of ground almonds
1/2 cup of pumpkin puree
2 tablespoon of coconut oil – melted
3 tablespoons of runny almond butter
5 tablespoons of maple syrup or agave nectar
1 tablespoon of milled flaxseeds + 3 tablespoons of water
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon powder
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
a pinch of sea salt
50gr of Mia Cranberry Chocolate chopped into small pieces
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds (optional)
2 tablespoons pecans, chopped
2 tablespoons dried cranberries, chopped

Start by preheating the oven at 180 degrees Celsius. In a small bowl mix together the flaxseeds with the water and let it sit for 10 minutes until it becomes gloopy, kind of like a jelly.
Place the oats in a blender and blend until they turn into a flour.
Add the oat flour together with the ground almond, baking powder, bicarbonate, salt and all the spices. Give it a good mix. In a separate bowl mix together the pumpkin puree, coconut oil, almond butter, maples syrup and the fkaxseeds mixture. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix everything together. Stir in the chopped up chocolate, pecans, pumpkin seeds and cranberry. Scoop out about 1 tablespoon of the cookie mixture and place it on a baking tray covered with parchment paper. With your hands roughly shape it into a cookie, don’t worry if they don’t look perfect, they will still be delicious!

Bake the cookies in the oven for 12-15 minutes. They will still be soft on the touch when they come out but they will harden top during the cooling process. Let them cool for 20-30 minutes and enjoy!

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Balance Me Skincare Range Review

I am so excited to write the first ever blog post about beauty!! You guys know that my main passion will always be foo but natural and cruelty free beauty and skincare is definitely another passion of mine.
Let me start saying that there is no miracle product out there that will give you the skin that a healthy, centred on whole foods, diet will. But I still believe is really important to have a gentle and as a natural skincare as possible that will help your skin to glow.

I also firmly believe that in 2017 there is no need to test cosmetics on animals so cruelty free skincare for me is the only way to go.

For the past 4 weeks i have been using Balance Me which is a 99% natural, cruelty free skincare range. I have used Balance Me in the past so I kind of knew I was going to like it although the products i tried this time were completely new to me.

So these are the products I have been using:

1 – Balance Me Cleansing balm – I think this is probably one of my favourite products from their range and one of the best cleanser I have ever used. When my skin started to break out I remember one of the first thing I went out and bought was a “acne prone” face wash, do you know one of those super foamy, super harsh and drying cleanser? Yep, one of those. Everytime I washed my face with it I literally felt my skin was going to crack! Sadly you are lead to believe (by multimillion marketing campaigns) that when your skin break out you need to dry out every single bit of oil from your skin. After years of trial and error I can honestly say that’s not really the case. Especially when your skin breaks out you need to be extra gentle with it and definitely not try to make it even more inflamed by using harsh cleansers. Even more so if you only breakout in a confined area (i used to have hormonal sports only on my chin and jaw area) you really don’t want to reduce your whole face to sandpaper! 🙂 That’s why I now use only balm/ cream kind of cleansers. They are super delicate on your skin and they removed perfectly any make up or dirt. Just please make sure to use a wet face towel/muslim cloth to wipe off the cleanser.

2- Balance Me Face Mist – After the cleanser this is definitely my favourite product. I actually always though that toners or face mist were a bit of a waste of money. Might sounds really silly but I used to think “ surely they are just water?!” Well this face mist really made me change my mind. I spritz it on my face after I washed it before I go to the bed and I also use it in the morning before I apply my moisturiser. It really makes my skin feel really plumped and hydrated. So yeah maybe is not just water 🙂

3 – Balance Me Restore and Replenish Face Cream – I normally would have chosen a moisturiser for combination/oily skin but my skin has been consistently clear for the past 7 months so I decided to try a slitghly richer moisturiser this time. My skin also tend to get quite dry during the winter months, especially on my forehead (hello fine lines) so I actually think a thicker moisturiser is probably better for me in winter. What I love about this moisturiser is that is very hydrating but not greasy at all so I think it’s actually suitable for different skin types. If you are struggling with spots in just one specific area of your face I would actually recommend to use 2 different type of moisturisers ( i know, twice expensive) a lighter consistency one for the spot prone area and another for the rest of your face.

4- Balance Me Wonder eye cream – Well hello life after 30s! 🙂 I never used an eye cream before but being 32 years old I kind of felt it was about time I started to use one, if you know what I mean 😉 I don’t really have any other products to compare it but I really loved the light and silky consistency which get absorbed straight away into your skin. It’s definitely a product that I will keep using in the future. Also because I am not getting any younger..

All in all I have been really loving using Balance Me and I genuily think that it’s the perfect brand to go to if you are trying to switch to a more natural skincare regime. They have really affordable prices so it’s perfect if you have a limited budget but you still don’t want to compromise on quality.

FYI: this post is not sponsored in any way by Balance Me 🙂

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Protein Chocolate & Peanut Butter Waffles

This is just the perfect indulgent weekend breakfast. I love making these waffles on a Sunday as they feel like a real treat. They are super chocolately and I love the peanut butter flavour. To add plant based protein and make them a bit more filling I have used Fit Delis Chocolate protein powders which also contains other incredible superfoods, no artificial sweeteners, flavours and thickeners. I love topping them with caramelised banana which they just take this breakfast to the next level of deliciousness!

Makes about 3-4 waffles depending on the size of your waffle iron

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cup of spelt flour
1 1/2 cup of almond or soy milk ( I wouldn’t recommend using rice/oat or coconut milk for this recipe as they are too watery)
1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
1 scoop of Fit Delis Chocolate Protein powder
2 tablespoon of raw cacao powder
1 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1 tablespoon of runny and smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup of melted coconut oil
1/4 cup of maple syrup
A pinch of sea salt

For the caramelised banana:

1 banana cut into slices
2 tablespoons of coconut sugar
a splash of water

Extra toppings:

Peanut butter
maple syrup
Coconut chips
Cacao nibs

Place the milk in large bowl and add the apple cider vinegar. let it sit for few minutes until it starts to curd and become a bit like butter milk. In a separate bowl mix together the flour, cacao powder, protein powder, salt and baking powder. Into the milk add the maple syrup, coconut oil, peanut butter. Give it a really good whisk then pour the liquid into the flour. Mix everything very well unit is all smooth and let it sit for 5 minutes while the waffle iron is heating up. Pour the batter into the waffle iron and cook them accordingly to the manufacturer instructions.

While the waffles are cooking make the caramelised banana. Simply place the coconut sugar and the splash of water into a pan and when it starts to bubble add in the sliced banana and let it cook for 5-7 minutes until most of the liquid has been absorbed and you are left with a sticky caramel.

Remove the waffles from the iron and repeat the process with the remaining batter. Serve the waffles straight away with the caramelised banana, drizzle of peanut butter, maple syrup and other toppings of your choice.

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Walnut & Kale Pesto

This is by far one of my favourite go to go quick and speedy recipe when I am starving and I want a delicious and filling meal in 10-15 minutes. I love this recipe as it’s super flavoursome and still packed with gorgeous greens. If you have any fresh basil please feel free to add it to the pesto, it will be even more fresh and it will certainly remind you of summer! 🙂 During winter I try not to buy veggies or herbs which are not in season so I like to keep it simple with some good old British kale 😉
If you have any vegan cheese on hand please go ahead and sprinkle on top or just go crazy with nutritional yeast!

Ingredients:

1/3 cup of walnuts
2 cups or raw kale destemmed
2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast + extra to sprinkle on top
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 clove of garlic- crushed
a generous glug of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of white miso paste (optional but adds a bang of flavour)
salt to season

pasta of your choice – I have used green peas and quinoa pasta but any pasta will work

Place the destemmed kale in a large bowl and cover it with some boiling water. Let it sit for less than a minute until it starts to wilt. You still want to keep a bright green so don’t let out sit in the boiling water for too long. Place the blanched kale in a food processor with all the remaining ingredients. Blitz and scrape the sides from time to time until you have a creamy kind of consistency. Depending on the thickness desired add more olive oil or splash of water.

Cook the pasta according the cooking instructions. Drain it and place it back in the pan with a drizzle of olive oil (prevent from sticking). Add in the pesto and mix it all together.

I like to serve mine with some extra nutritional yeast and some rocket on the side.

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Love your Gut – The Importance of Probiotics

If you have been following for a while you know how much I love my fermented food like sauerkraut, kombucha or miso paste. Not only I think they all taste delicious but they contains live bacteria (probiotics) which have been proven to help support our gut health.
We all have heard how important our gut health is for our overall wellbeing but why is that exactly?

To remain healthy our bodies rely on trillion of microbes, altogether called Microbiome. These friendly bacteria are key to our good health as they support healthy digestion and immune health. They help protect our gut lining and keep it healthy so that we can absorb the nutrients from our food and keep toxins out of the bloodstream. In addition to supporting healthy digestion and regular bowels, friendly live bacteria produce beneficial compounds such a short chain fatty acids, certain vitamins and amino acids. They also play important role in bolstering immunity as 70% of the immunity system is found in the gut.

They are many potential reasons why people might not get enough friendly bacteria, from birth all the way through adulthood. Babies born by C-section do not get their first dose from their mother during birth, and formula-fed babies miss out on the live bacteria in breast milk. The modern diet is also not kind to our micro biome with chlorinated water, alcohol, antibiotics, prescription drugs, stress and chemicals all killing off these bacteria in our gut. If the friendly gut bacteria dies off unfriendly bacteria can take over and cause gas, bloating and irregular bowels as well as compromising overall health.

When my skin started to break out 6 years ago after coming off the contraceptive pill I went to see various dermatologists and they all prescribed me different type of antibiotics which unfortunately they failed miserably and probably made my skin flares up even worse. They also probably weakened my gut flora which is the last thing you want for clear skin!
As well as changing my diet and lifestyle I also started to research on how could I have helped even further my skin to finally regain its balance. One thing that kept popping up in all my online researches was that a healthy gut is also very important for a healthy and clear skin. Few searches more down the line and I put on my brave face and tried my first bite of sauerkraut (i promise you, its gets better) and sip of kombucha pretending it was like drinking prosecco. As well as introducing fermented food a regular basis into my diet I also started taking probiotics and I can honestly say that the effects had been remarkable.

Let me just explain you quickly what’s the connection between your gut and your skin:

The GI tract and skin are both organs of detoxification. We need a healthy microbiome in the gut to break down food, absorb nutrients, and eliminate toxins. When our gut flora is not healthy, and there are more bad bacteria than good bacteria, a lot of problems can arise — including chronic inflammation, which is a cause of acne and other skin problems. Some bad bacteria, fungus, and yeast can even cause inflammation in and of themselves. So, if you are looking to clear up your skin, you might have to start with your gut.

When it comes to buying probiotics they are obviously tons of options out there, I would suggest ti invest in probiotics with a very high number of live bacteria, 40 billion or more. I have recently started using Garden of Life Microbiome Formula Mood + which contains 50 billion live bacteria. Garden of Life rather than using commonly used probiotics, inulin, they use USDA organic and non GMO project Verified acacia as it comprises 90% soluble fibre. This means that it has a better digestive tolerance and therefore supports the growth of bacteria and helps reinforce the gut lining. Microbiome Formula Mood + also contains organic ashwagandha and organic Alaskan blueberries which also help to support emotional health and manage chronic stress.

One of my favourite gut friendly breakfast recipe is this Sweet Potato Salted Caramel Smoothie. Sweet potato are a good source of prebiotics which
are a type of fiber. They are un-digestible plant fibers that already live inside the large intestine. The more food, or prebiotics that probiotics have to eat, the more efficiently these live bacteria work and the healthier your gut will be. Other probiotics food are avocado, onion, garlic, jerusalem artichoke and liquorice root.
This super creamy smoothie bowl is not just super good for you and your gut but it’s also ridiculously delicious! Super creamy and fluffy with a decadent salted caramel taste. You can also add 1 capsule of Garden of Life Mood + but just gently opening the capsule and pouring the powder into the smoothie.

Ingredients:

Serves 1

1 cup of steamed and frozen sweet potatoes
1/2 cup of almond milk
1/2 avocado
1 tablespoon of carob powder
1 teaspoon of maca powder
1/2 tablespoon of vanilla protein powder ( you can leave this out or just add a dash of vanilla powder)
1 tablespoon of hazelnut butter (almond butter will work as well)
a pinch of sea salt
1 capsule of Garden of Life Mood +

Toppings:

Sliced banana
coconut chips
Granola
cacao nibs
or whatever you fancy!

Simply place all the ingredients into a blender and blend until you have a creamy and thick ice cream kind of consistency. You might need to add a bit more almond milk if your blender is struggling. I like to keep my smoothie as thick as possible so I try not to add too much liquid.

Top with your favourite toppings and enjoy straight away!

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Turmeric & Apple Porridge

I am so excited to announce that this year I will be taking part in Provamel’s Pro campaign! The campaign is all about encouraging people to make positive choices when it comes to food and drink – which means being Pro 100% plant-based, Pro organic and Pro ethically sourced products that respect our environment.

That’s why I‘m thrilled to have teamed up with them to create two delicious recipes which will see you through any busy day – with Provamel’s delicious range of plant-based alternatives to yogurt and drinks the breakfast possibilities really are endless!

I’m kicking off by showing you how easy it can be to be a Pro at breakfast, using Provamel’s Almond Unsweetened drink to whip up this warming winter bowl. We all know Mondays are never easy, especially cold, dark winter mornings when we just want to stay in bed as long as possible. I have to admit that I am not exactly a morning person but what always gets me out of bed is a warming and delicious breakfast. Who knows, my tasty Tumeric and Apple Porridge might even make you Pro Mondays?!

Provamel offers a 100% plant-based range of organic and GMO free drinks and alternatives to yogurt. They have a wide range of different products, from soya to almond, from oats to coconut, so it’s super easy to find a plant-based option that you like. All their ingredients are sourced as close to home as possible (for example they use almonds from Europe and not California) making their products even greener and more sustainable.

It might sound like a cliché but breakfast is definitely the most important meal of the day, and it’s easier than you think to make it a healthy one. Porridge is always my number one choice when it comes to an easy and quick winter breakfast as it takes no time to make, plus it will keep me full for longer. I find when I don’t have breakfast in the morning by midday I am already starving and I feel peckish all throughout the day. A nutritious and balanced breakfast will not only give you the energy to face the day ahead but it will also prevent you from mindless snacking. I have been loving using Provamel Almond Unsweetened drink in my porridge as it’s completely sugars free and makes the porridge super creamy! Another favourite of mine for hot drinks, like a matcha latte or turmeric latte, is Provamel Soya Unsweetened drink as it has a very subtle flavour and I actually find that it froths really well when heated up.

If you are not a breakfast person I really hope you will at least give the below recipe a try as it’s by far one of my favourite winter breakfasts, which makes me feel so satisfied every time I make it – you’ll be Pro breakfast before you know it!

This porridge is such a warming and comforting breakfast, especially if you are feeling a bit run down. I love the earthy turmeric flavour combined with the spicy ginger and the sweetness of the apple. I have used Provamel Almond Unsweetened drink which makes it super creamy, without adding any sugar. To make it even more delicious top with peanut butter, maple syrup and some crunchy coconut chips.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 cup of porridge oats
1 apple, skin on – grated
About 1 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder or freshly grated turmeric
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon powder
500ml of Provamel Almond Unsweetened drink

For the toppings:

A handful of berries of your choice
1 apple, sliced
A drizzle of maple syrup
A handful of coconut chips
A drizzle of maple syrup

Place the oats into a pan with the Provamel Almond Unsweetened drink. Add the grated apple, turmeric and ginger. Let the porridge cook over a medium/low heat for about 8-10 minutes, stirring from time to time and adding a little water if needed. The porridge is ready when it’s thick and gloopy, and the oats are soft.

Serve the porridge immediately with berries, sliced apple, maple syrup, coconut chips and some peanut butter.

 

This recipe is sponsored by Provamel.

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Double Chocolate Pretzel Cookies

These cookies are dangerously too delicious. I say this because I made them in the morning and by 5pm they were all gone. Yep, I ashamedly eat the whole tray because they were sooo incredibly good! You know that anything with chocolate gets my vote, especially when it’s double but these cookies are even more special thanks to the pretzel addition.That salty, crunchy texture really take this cookies to a next level of deliciousness! Plus they are ridiculously easy to make! Enough said, please go and make them! You will thank me later 😉

 

Makes about 10-12 cookies depending on the size

Ingredients:

1 cup of oat flour ( just blend some oats in a blender and then measure 1 cup)
1 cup of ground almond
3 tablespoons of raw cacao powder or cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
a pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup of melted coconut oil
5 tablespoons of maple syrup or honey
1 tablespoon of flaxseeds + 2 tablespoons of water
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract or powder
80gr of good quality dark chocolate- I have used Goodio Pure Nacional
About 10-12 vegan pretzel ( i bought mine in sainsbury’s and they were accidentally vegan)

Start by preheating the oven at 180 degrees celsius. Mix the flaxseeds with the water and let it sit onto one side for 5-8 minutes until it becomes kind of jelly and gloopy.

In a large bowl mix together the oat flour, ground almonds, baking powder, salt and raw cacao powder. In a separate bowl whisk together the coconut oil, maple syrup, the flaxseeds mixture and vanilla extract. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry and give its good stir until everything is combined.
Line a baking tray with some parchment paper. Scoop out about 1 tablespoon of the cookie dough for each cookie, If you have an icrecream scooper it will make the job even easier. With your hands press it down slightly and top each cookie with a pretzel. Bake the cookies in the oven for 12-15 minutes until they start to be slightly golden brown around the edges. Don’t worry if they are very soft when you remove them from the oven, they will harden up in the cooling process.
Let the cookies cool down for 1/2 hour and then enjoy!

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