Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Celebrating Apple Season (Guest Post)

I'm still on holiday in sunny Rhodes, and you can keep up to date with my holiday action on Instagram, so I have another lovely blogger taking over the reins of TRTLC today.

Please welcome Sharon from Bit of the Good Stuff, who is here to celebrate the beautiful apple season with a new smoothie recipe for you, which I am going to have to try when I get back because it looks delish!

Hi! I’m Sharon, and I’m delighted to be guest posting for Nikki today ♥.

For the past three years, I’ve been writing a blog called Bit of the Good Stuff, where I share my love for plant-based cooking. My mission is to create simple, tasty, family-friendly recipes that have wide appeal. Most of my recipes are healthy and whole-food based, but you’ll find the occasional naughty treat thrown in for good measure.

Sharon from Bit of The Good Stuff

It’s apple season here in the UK, and I cannot wait to tuck into the bounty from my little apple tree. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be trying out lots of new recipes (my top picks are listed at the end of this post), as well as enjoying old favourites.

Did you know that October 21 has officially been designated as Apple Day?

To celebrate our apple heritage, hundreds of events will be taking place across the UK. Check out your community website and magazines to see what’s on in your local area.

We’ll be kick-starting the celebrations with a stack of maple-drizzled apple cinnamon pancakes. Sweet, warming and filling, these pancakes are perfect for this season.

Maple-Drizzled Apple Cinnamon Pancake Stack from Bit of The Good Stuff

They’re one of my family’s favourite weekend breakfasts, and they’ve been a big hit with my readers too. They’re super easy to make and seem pretty fail-proof - even the first pancake comes out perfectly! The recipe works with both wheat flour and gluten-free flour, so no one need miss out.

Maple-Drizzled Apple Cinnamon Pancakes from Bit of The Good Stuff

And if you don’t have time for pancakes, how about starting the day with this Autumn-inspired apple, almond and cinnamon smoothie instead?

Creamy Autumn-inspired apple, almond and cinnamon smoothie from Bit of The Good Stuff

Almond butter and chia seeds make the smoothie extra creamy, as well as adding protein, minerals, vitamin E and heart-healthy fats. My family loves this smoothie, and it always gets a big thumbs up from my 10-year-old son Lil’ L . I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Apple, Almond and Cinnamon Smoothie
Creamy Autumn-inspired apple, almond and cinnamon smoothie from Bit of The Good Stuff
by Sharon @ Bit of The Good Stuff
Prep Time: 2 mins
Cook Time: 2 - 3 mins in blender
Keywords: blender raw diary-free vegan vegetarian wheat-free gluten-free almond butter almonds apple chia seeds
Ingredients (Serves 1)
  • 1 organic apple, cored and chopped (no need to peel if you have a powerful blender)
  • ½ cup (125 ml) almond milk (or other non dairy milk)
  • ½ cup (125 ml) non dairy natural yogurt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup, or to taste
  • Place all the ingredients in a blender.
  • Pulse a few times to break up the apple, then blend on high speed until smooth.
  • Taste test, and add more sweetener, if desired.

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And here are the recipes topping my ‘to try’ list for Autumn/Fall:

Happy Apple Season, everyone!

Sharon x

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Healthy Weekday Breakfast Ideas (Guest Post)

James and I are taking a well-needed trip to Rhodes for a week. I'll be back on British soil next Thursday, and while we're away a few lovely bloggers will be kindly taking over TRTLC. I'll be posting photos on Instagram while I'm on holiday, so check in with me there. When I get back I will be doing a round up of what we did, how I strike a balance between healthy living and enjoying myself on vacation, and of course what I ate.

Taking over the blog today is one of my favourite fellow UK bloggers, healthy living and lifestyle blogger Jemma from Celery and Cupcakes, who is talking about healthy weekday breakfasts. I'm a big lover of breakfasts, it's probably my favourite meal of the day. Without further ado, take it away, Jemma!

Without a doubt, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It’s a means to get you off to a
great start of a day full of healthy and nutritious food.

On busier mornings, long gone are any ideas about a leisurely pancake stack for breakfast with the weekend newspapers for entertainment. Instead, this idyllic image is replaced by hitting the snooze button on the alarm for the third time and running around the house in a rush with no time for a decent breakfast.

Breakfast definitely isn’t a meal that should be neglected. Skipping breakfast can lower your
concentration levels, decrease your metabolism and even put you in a bad mood.

On busy mornings, try not to reach for that box of doughnuts or sugary cereal bar as there are plenty of quick and healthier alternatives that will help you kick-start your day.

How about some of these healthy breakfast ideas?

1. A healthy and delicious smoothie that can be whipped up in minutes and consumed on the go.

Smoothie in a jar

2. Homemade granola without the additives and refined sugar.

Salted Peanut Butter Granola from Celery and Cupcakes

3. Protein energy bars that are full of nutrient dense ingredients are great as portable breakfasts.

Triple Chocolate Blueberry Protein Bars from Celery and Cupcakes

4. A tasty bowl of mixed fruit, yoghurt with nuts and seeds is an easy throw together breakfast that can be made and eaten in a flash.

Yoghurt with fruit and nuts

5. Try baking a cake. Cake for breakfast? Yes, why not when it’s actually good for you, grain- and refined-sugar free.

Polenta Cake by Celery and Cupcakes

6. You can’t beat a hearty bowl of porridge in the mornings that you can make in the microwave rather than on the hob. 

Porridge with blueberries and banana

A couple of these ideas require some planning, but you can have a bake up session with your
family or partner at the weekend so you’re ready to hit the ground running come Monday morning.

Seriously, you will never regret having a nutrient dense breakfast and you will be left wondering
what life was like before.

Do find it hard to squeeze in breakfast on a busy weekday morning? 

What are your favourite go-to speedy breakfasts? 

Friday, 5 September 2014

4-Ingredient Sticky Chicken Thighs

When I was dieting eating chicken skin was a treat, usually reserved for special occasions like Christmas, my mum's Sunday lunch or if we visited my nan, who made the best roast chicken dinner ever. My ma makes a good roast, don't get me wrong, but I think we would both agree that my nana was the queen of roast chicken dinners.

Any other time I ate chicken thighs or drumsticks while I was trying to lose weight they would either be bought skinless or the skin would be snipped off pre-cooking or peeled off with a glum face after cooking when it has gone all crunchy and yummy because chicken skin contained fat and fat was bad and eating fat would make me fat. But let's face it, crispy chicken skin tastes darn good.

But now, along with a lot of ex-low fat dieters, I've learned that fat doesn't make you fat. Fat is good for you. I eat more fat in my diet than I ever have and I'm actually slimmer and leaner, my hair is shinier on on the whole (except for during flare ups like the recent one I've had) my eczema and skin is better.

Flavourful chicken thighs with a sticky honey, mustard and ginger glaze | from The Road to Less Cake | #chicken #paleo #glutenfree #wheatfree #honey

Funny thing is there is ONLY about a 50 calorie difference between skinless chicken and chicken with the skin on [source]. You what? Only 50 calories? I denied myself delicious chicken skin when I was calorie counting for the sake of 50 calories. Also, 55% of the fat in chicken skin is monounsaturated (the good heart healthy kind) [source], so it isn't actually as bad for you as I thought.

As you know, I quit dieting last year, letting go of the scary cray cray voice in my head that said 'If you don't have complete control over everything you eat all the pounds you've lost will pile back on'. She still rears her ugly head every now and again, but I just tell her to shush as I shove tasty chicken skin in my mouth because I HAVE kept the weight off.

Ok, so I'm not saying eat fried skin-on yummy chicken every day, but baked in the oven chicken thighs with their skin on and minimal ingredients have become a part of my everyday (mostly) healthy diet. I don't eat chicken skin every day, I still predominately eat skinless chicken breast, but about once a month, sometimes less, I eat a little chicken with is skin on, AND the most important thing, I ENJOY it.

When I was dieting I had too many rules. If I ate carbs, like oats, for breakfast I couldn't have carbs for lunch. Salad was the best (and usually only) lunch option. If I was going out for a meal it had to somewhere that I could count the calories. I could only have one treat or cheat meal a week. If I had more than one treat I had to exercise my but off. That. Is. No. Way. To. Live.

Now I'm more about picking the better choices. I'm happier without all the restrictions and most of the time I make the healthy choice. But I'm still going to have cake on my birthday and eat what I want on Christmas Day.

Not everything I did on my weight loss journey was bad. I did learn some good things from dieting - how to use herbs to really add flavour to food; loading my plate with veggies; cooking from scratch and not using jarred sauces or salad dressing; listening to my body and knowing when I'm full.

Flavourful chicken thighs with a sticky honey, mustard and ginger glaze | from The Road to Less Cake | #chicken #paleo #glutenfree #wheatfree

I buy organic or free range meat where I can afford it because I know not only does it contain less chemicals and hormones, it is also ethically better for the animals. Organic chicken is really expensive though, especially the breast meat, so I've found myself buying chicken thighs more often.

The thigh meat has a lot of flavour and baked in the oven with some honey, mustard and ginger smothered all over it is delish-ous!

Flavourful chicken thighs with a sticky honey, mustard and ginger glaze | from The Road to Less Cake | #chicken #paleo #glutenfree #wheatfree #honey

I've actually cooked this dish with both skinless and skin-on chicken, and it is your choice which one you pick, it is tasty with both. Having said that, I have found that using skin-on thighs gives the dish more flavour. 

I love simple meals that are big on taste. And these sticky chicken thighs are the epitome of that. They use four basic ingredients, three of which (honey, mustard and ginger) you probably already have in your kitchen cupboards. But once cooked in the oven they make a flavourful dish with gnarly and nommy glaze that sticks to the chicken and the bottom of the tray. Don't waste that sticky sauce goodness in the tray. Spoon it over your chicken when you're plating up. 

I've served this dish with a heap of things - veggies, salad, sweet potato fries and rice. You can pretty much serve them with whatever you fancy.

The thighs are actually really flavourful served cold the next day with a salad. Living as a twosome I often make extra portions of food so that J and I either have meals for another day that I can freeze or refrigerate or that we can take to work for lunch. I've taken these sticky thighs for lunch at my desk the next day, and giving them a day to rest intensifies the flavour a little. 

I've tried to be dignified and eat the chicken with a knife and fork, but who am I kidding? Hands work best. A little messier, but better. 

It's maybe not a good idea to make them on a first date to try and impress. But if you've been dating for a while, are married, are single and free to mingle or just want to get your chicken on, go on and make these succulent sticky thighs. Just make sure you have a paper towel or five handy to wipe your hands. And face. 

4-Ingredient Sticky Chicken Thighs

by Nikki Mitchell
Prep Time: 5 mins (+30 mins marinating)
Cook Time: 30 - 40 mins
Keywords: bake dinner diary-free gluten-free low-carb low-sodium nut-free oil-free paleo soy-free wheat-free chicken honey mustard ginger
(4 Chicken Thighs)
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 3 - 4 tablespoons raw/local/organic honey
  • 1.5 tablespoons wholegrain mustard
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground ginger
  • In a small mixing bowl combine the honey, mustard and ground ginger.
  • Place the chicken thighs into a small roasting tray and pour on the sauce.
  • Cover the chicken in the sauce - I find using your hands are best for this.
  • Cover the tray with clingfilm and leave to marinade in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. The longer you leave the more the flavours will intensify. If you can, leave it over night.
  • Pre-heat your oven to 350F/180C.
  • Take the chicken out of the fridge, remove the clingfilm and make in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Serve with vegetables, salad or sweet potato fries.

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Have you dieted or lost weight? Did you have any rules?

Have you stopped dieting? How do your eating habits differ now? 

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Cherry Bakewell Protein Smoothie

Last week I got sick. Not a little sick, but real sick. The kind where you can't move out of bed sick. I was feverish, my whole body ached and it hurt every time I moved.

I spent most of the week squirreled under my duvet while James popped on DVDs for me to watch. He was spot on with his choices. You know you're marrying the right man when he can figure out what movies you want to watch when you feel like you're at death's door.

I'm starting to feel better and my temperature has gone down, but I'm easily exhausted. I had to have a lie down after nipping to the supermarket the other day. So I'm going to the doctors tomorrow for a blood test to make sure its nothing serious.

A smoothie that tastes just like a cherry Bakewell tart in a glass. It has a natural protein kick from almond butter, chia seeds and flaxseed. It is paleo and vegan friendly, gluten, wheat and dairy free. | from the Road to Less Cake | #paleo #vegan #vegetarian #smoothie #glutenfree #breakfast #dairyfree

My appetite has been a bit off since I got ill, which is no good for a foodie I know.

My belly rumbles when I wake up and if I've been feeling cold I make a bowl of oatmeal and if I've been feeling on the warm my-face-feels-like-it-was-on-fire side then I whip up a smoothie.

But I've not really been that hungry at lunch time, so I've either had a small snack, a piece of fruit or just waited until later in the afternoon when I do feel hungry.

I've been loving smoothies in the afternoon and it has been a chance for me to get in some good fats, supplements, fruit and even veggies into my body.

Come the evening I'm hungry again for a proper meal. It's just lunch time that I'm not getting on with at the moment.

A smoothie that tastes just like a cherry Bakewell tart in a glass. It has a natural protein kick from almond butter, chia seeds and flaxseed. It is paleo and vegan friendly, gluten, wheat and dairy free. | from the Road to Less Cake | #paleo #vegan #vegetarian #smoothie #glutenfree #breakfast #dairyfree

James popped to the supermarket get a few things while I was in my sick bed and came back with some 'goodies' - obligatory feel better grapes (everyone who is ill needs grapes), raspberries, oatcakes and some frozen cherries.

I put them straight to good use the next morning and made up a smoothie with a banana, some almond butter, flaxseed, chia seeds, maca powder and almond milk. It tasted like a cherry Bakewell tart in a glass.

To be even more virtuous you could throw in a handful of greens like kale or spinach into your blender with everything else.

A smoothie that tastes just like a cherry Bakewell tart in a glass. It has a natural protein kick from almond butter, chia seeds and flaxseed. It is paleo and vegan friendly, gluten, wheat and dairy free. | from the Road to Less Cake | #paleo #vegan #vegetarian #smoothie #glutenfree #breakfast #dairyfree

I know that summer is coming to a close, that autumn is looming and food bloggers will be going pumpkin, soups and stews crazy soon. But I'm clutching on to it like a baby clutches on to it's rattle when someone tries to take it. Or if you were like me as a kid and clutched on to an ice cream so tightly that no one could get it off you but you just stared at it, letting it melt and drip all down you. True story. It's one of my mum's favourite baby stories to tell me. That wouldn't happen these days though, the ice cream wouldn't get the chance to drip. Nom!

My summer holiday isn't until next week when J and I jet off to Rhodes for seven days. Hello, sun, sea, sand and lots of books. So I'm squeezing in a smoothie recipe before the season is truly over. When I get back I'll be happy to say goodbye to summer for another year and welcome all the pumpkin into my life, and belly.

Cherry Bakewell protein smoothie
A smoothie that tastes just like a cherry Bakewell tart in a glass. It has a natural protein kick from almond butter, chia seeds and flaxseed. It is paleo and vegan friendly, gluten, wheat and dairy free. | from the Road to Less Cake | #paleo #vegan #vegetarian #smoothie #glutenfree #breakfast #dairyfree
by Nikki Mitchell
Prep Time: 2 mins
Cook Time: 2 - 3 mins in blender
Keywords: blender beverage breakfast snack diary-free gluten-free low-carb paleo sugar-free vegan vegetarian wheat-free almond butter almonds cherries banana
Ingredients (Serves 1)
  • 1 cup frozen cherries
  • 1 banana, fresh or frozen
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp milled/ground flaxseed
Optional add ins
  • 1.5 tsps maca powder
  • Handful of greens (spinach/kale etc)
  • Add all the ingredients to a blender or smoothie maker and blend until smooth.
  • Serve immediately.
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What do you like to eat when you feel sick?

Do you drink smoothies all year round or just in the summer?
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