Tag Archives: healthy eating

Clean Florentines – the perfect Christmas cookie!

We might not be in December’s Christmas madness yet, but Bonfire Night is over, it’s nearly Thanksgiving across the pond, and I’m being booked for events with kids around healthy eating next year. What does that have to do with Christmas cookies, you might ask! Working with organisations and charities that support children and families is something that I love doing, demystifying healthy eating, and how delicious and achievable real food is. The opportunity to be introduced to them via a Christmas Cookie workshop is ideal!

So, what cookie will last well as a gift, be easy to make, and is a Christmas crowd-pleaser? Florentines are perfect, with their scope for adapting and their healthy ingredient swaps. You can make them as ‘clean’ as you please, depending on your budget and what is in your cupboard already. The jewelled nuggets of apricot, blueberry and cranberry makes the biscuits like beautiful seasonal stained-glass feasts for the eyes as well as the taste buds with the chocolate hiding on the bottom of the biscuits. Lovely!

This is the healthiest version, and what I use most often, but there are plenty of swaps you can make:

  • coconut sugar can be swapped for golden caster,
  • coconut oil can be swapped for butter,
  • buckwheat flour can be swapped for ordinary flour,
  • coconut milk can be swapped for ordinary whole milk,
  • almonds can be swapped for whatever nuts or combo you prefer,
  • the fruit can be whatever you choose.

Here’s the full recipe:

Makes about 20

100g almonds, roughly chopped

100g oats

40g dried apricots, chopped small

40g dried blueberries

40g dried cranberries

30g coconut oil

50g coconut sugar

1 1/2 tbsp honey

20g buckwheat flour

150 ml coconut milk

200g dark chocolate

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees, and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Mix the almonds and oats with the fruit, ensuring there are no clumps of fruit sticking together. Melt the oil with the sugar and honey gently in a saucepan until combined, then add the flour, whisking briskly for a couple of minutes until it thickens up. Quickly add the milk, whisking briskly again for a minute until you have a smooth, thick mixture.

Remove from the heat and stir in the fruit and oat mixture. Measure out spoonfuls of mixture onto the baking tray, leaving a bit of spreading room between spoonfuls. Even out and flatten slightly, then bake for around 15 minutes, turning the tray around half way through to ensure an even bake. Leave to cool, and when ready to decorate, melt the chocolate in a bain marie. Place the cookies on another sheet of baking parchment, face down, then drizzle and spread melted chocolate over the bottom of the cookies, and leave to cool and harden. You can also dip the cookies into the chocolate so that you have half and half versions. the choice is yours!

Enjoy your clean cookies with a cuppa before, during or after the seasonal madness!

 

Seaweed sandwich, anyone?

If your consumption of sea vegetables thus far on your culinary journey has been limited to a bit of sushi from the supermarket, then you’re missing out. Whether it’s for flavour or health, seaweed is a fantastic food to add to your diet, and best of all, it doesn’t have to be from imported sources at the health food shop or oriental market. Our shores are teeming with varieties of seaweed that are not just edible, but absolutely delicious too.

Even more surprisingly, those of you who are currently thinking that seaweed is the last thing that you would want to eat may change your minds when you taste dulse, one of our most commonly found varieties – it tastes like bacon when it’s cooked. Maybe not as convincing as a bacon sandwich, but still, not exactly what you might expect.

So, what is it, and how do we make the most of this natural harvest right on our doorstep? Dulse is part of a large family of edible saltwater plants and algae that also include more readily known varieties like nori and kelp. Like all edible seaweed, dulse provides a wealth of nutrients, fibre and protein, rich in vitamins, trace minerals, healthy fatty acids, and antioxidants.

It’s easy to buy dried dulse, and as its nutritional value doesn’t degrade after it’s converted into powder or flakes, having some on hand to sprinkle into salads, soups and stews is convenient. Store it in a dry and dark place and it’ll last for at least two years, making it truly a go-to health booster to use in all kinds of ways.

The assumption that seaweed will taste a bit too, well, seaweedy, has doubtless put many people off trying it at all, but with the accessibility, sustainability, and variety of uses, surely it’s something that we need to consider as conscious consumers. The big bonus is in the health benefits – while all natural foods have distinct and purposeful nutrient profiles, seaweed is a truly exceptional all rounder. Just some of the health benefits of dulse include its ability to protect vision, boost the immune system, build bone health, optimise the function of the thyroid gland, increase growth and repair, support the gastrointestinal tract, lower blood pressure, strengthen the brain and nervous system, and boost circulation.

A fantastic food, and a great focus for your next beach visit! To achieve that bacon-like effect, pan-fry some dried whole-leaf dulse with oil over medium-high heat until crisp, then make up your dish or sandwich. Delicious!

Another way to use dulse, or any other seaweed that you have chosen, is to cut strips from a sheet, or take some larger flakes, and allow them to float gently in this lovely broth. Health in a bowl!

Miso Broth

miso paste (authentic paste from an oriental market)
pak choi, each leaf sliced in half lengthwise
sliced greens or cabbage
red pepper, thinly sliced
garlic, very thinly slivered
ginger, very thinly slivered
good quality bone broth or stock of your choice
seaweed strips
chicken, fish, beef or tofu pieces

Pour the required amount of bone broth or stock into a pan, bring to a gentle simmer, and add a teaspoon or two of miso paste, stirring to dissolve. Add the garlic, ginger, meat/fish/tofu, and sliced veg and simmer very gently for a few minutes until the veg is just tender and the meat is cooked through. Add the seaweed and turn off the heat, allowing the seaweed to steep for a couple of minutes. Serve up in big bowls and enjoy!

The Walnut has landed!

After a few days of strange, unusual, and if I’m honest, chaotic events (culminating in nearly running over a suicidal seagull focused only on the lollipop clamped jealously in its beak, proving how dangerous junk food is!), I was thrilled to receive the inaugural copy of Walnut magazine – I was approached to write foodie health articles for it a while ago and completely forgot about it, so this is my first view of the finished mag and my mental health nutrition article.

If you’re in the Bristol area, you’ll be lucky enough to be able to grab a copy – beautifully designed and produced, and packed with wonderful information, advice and recipes. If you don’t live in the distribution area, you can purchase a copy of this hefty quarterly gem here: Walnut Magazine

Welcome to Walnut! Great stuff, Dermot!

Boost mood with food for better mental health…..

Great news! I was first switched on to the impact of food on mental health at an international conference nearly 15 years ago, and haven’t stopped studying it since. Evidence of those early pioneering theories has gradually grown as research was commissioned. The more research emerges, the more is commissioned, and so we begin to really join up the dots.

It’s really hard work making progress without a body of major scientific evidence, but it does look like a corner has been turned and the food-mental health link is now accepted enough for a real food for the brain message to be listened to. With mental health statistics and the numbers suffering reaching crisis point, it’s not a moment too soon.

See the full article here.

‘Director of Deakin’s Food and Mood Centre Professor Felice Jacka said the results of her team’s new study offered a possible new treatment approach to depression, one of the world’s most prevalent and costly medical disorders.

“We’ve known for some time that there is a clear association between the quality of people’s diets and their risk for depression,” Professor Jacka said.

“This is the case across countries, cultures and age groups, with healthy diets associated with reduced risk, and unhealthy diets associated with increased risk for depression.

“However, this is the first randomised controlled trial to directly test whether improving diet quality can actually treat clinical depression.” ‘

Eating for Awesome Energy Levels – Take the Challenge!

What an amazing lunar eclipse on Sunday night! It happened at 3 am here in the UK, so I set my alarm, and spent a rather eerie time watching the moon turn red, sitting in my back garden, in total silence. I must admit to being tired on Monday though – extra attention was paid to what I ate to boost my energy levels and enable me to achieve everything I needed to, even after a disturbed night.

Very appropriate then that this week I’m launching a free 5 day challenge to share my secrets, with busy people the prime focus.

How’s your energy? Morning brain fog? Afternoon sleepy slumps? Evening super-snacking? Desperately waiting for wine o’clock?

The energy we need to accomplish everything on our daily to do lists can vary as wildly as our energy levels themselves. The important thing is that we have the necessary resilience to deal with everything that life throws our way, including the things we want to do, not just have to do.

Too exhausted by work and responsibilities to play football with the kids, go on that night out, or have friends over for dinner? Plagued by headaches? Feeling irritable or stressed? Then something is missing, and the first place to look is your diet.

What and how you eat has a huge impact on your energy levels, mood, and all round health. Will that affect your productivity? Absolutely! Does it have to be hard to turn around? Not at all.

The first step is to get a bird’s eye view of what’s going on (and I’m the bird to do it!)

Sign up, receive a booklet to record your food and feelings, and at the end of the 5 days, share your results in either the dedicated challenge Facebook group or by email. Simple.

The best news? You get my professional input on your results and reflections, absolutely free.

Hop on over and sign up for my free 5 day Eating for Energy Challenge here: I’m ready for more energy!

With nearly 20 years experience as a holistic functional nutritionist, and a demanding family life, I can beam in on core issues like a hawk, while understanding the demands of being focused at work, with a life outside business.

Implement my recommendations for small, achievable changes, and you’ll be able to see results quickly and easily.

Do you want to feel better, be better, and do more? Let’s rocket your health, energy and productivity skyward together…..

Life is hectic, but we don’t need to feel frazzled. I’m looking forward to helping you work out how to go from OK to awesome!