Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Cupcake Kit Giveaway

Cupcake Kit Giveaway | The Road to Less Cake

Cupcakes are possibly my favourite dessert, and fellow baking lovers, you're going to love today's giveaway. The lovely people at Cake Decorating Store are giving one lucky reader a cupcake making kit.

One reader will win:
  • 1 x Cupcake Mixture Scoop
  • 1 x Wilton 8" Featherweight Piping Bag
  • 1 x Wilton 1M Piping Tip
  • 1 x Wilton 2D Piping Tip
  • 1 x Pack of Rose Cupcake Cases
  • 1 x PME Plum Pink Rose Paste Colour (for colouring frosting or sugar paste)
  • 1 x 500g Tub of Vanilla Frosting
The giveaway is open to UK residents only and will be open for the rest of the month. Good luck!

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Letting My Health Flourish

Sometimes we need a boost to our health and recently I've been feeling like I needed a little health kick. A few years ago I was an all or nothing kind of girl when it came to clean eating. I was either dieting or I wasn't. Fast forward to the present day and that doesn't work for me anymore. It is not a healthy approach for me (nor do I think it is for anyone) as it leads to me becoming obsessed with what I am eating and wanting to restrict my calories.

For the last few weeks I have been taking part in the six week Flourish eCourse created by my blogger friend and health coach Kezia from Super Naturally Healthy (who shared her delicious raw chocolate brownie fudge recipe a few weeks ago).

The course is all about small changes you can make to your diet, and I've found this is the healthiest approach to eating for me. The focus of the six weeks is more on what you can add to your diet rather than what you can't have, what you can replace and what you can make space for. There is no deprivation on this course, I've still been able to go out for the occasional meal and even have the odd glass of wine.

The first week of the course was a four to five day detox. The majority of the detox was focusing on wholefoods, cutting out refined sugar and caffeine. There was an optional juice and soup cleanse day, I'd never done anything like this before and wanted to challenge myself, so I gave it a go. It wasn't easy, I won't lie, I missed solid food by the end of the day, but I was really proud of myself for making it through the whole day, despite being at work.

I didn't give up caffeine completely during the detox, I replaced my coffee with green tea. Going five days without coffee was an achievement for me.

Every week Kezia has been sending out information, recipes and meal plans. The course is not strict and you don't have to stick to the meal plans. I've tried some of Kezia's recipes - my favourites so far have been the sweet green smoothie, the almond berry smoothie and the butternut squash, coconut and cayenne soup - but I have been using the meal plans as a guide and have been getting experimental in the kitchen again.

When I was part of a dieting club a few years ago, one of the aspects that I felt helped me to lose weight and get healthier was the support of the leader and the group. One of the things I have really loved about the course is the Facebook group where not only I can ask Kezia questions, I can chat to to the other fabulous ladies on the course. I have found that it helps me to be able to share things with like-minded people on a similar journey.

The benefits I have seen while taking part in the course are...
  • On the whole, I'm drinking less coffee
  • I'm drinking more water
  • I'm eating more healthy fats like avocado
  • Courgette (zucchini) noodles are part of my diet again
  • I'm drinking more smoothies
  • I'm eating less processed wheat and gluten-free products  - I had gotten into the habit of having them in the house
  • Focusing more on wholefoods again
  • I have been preparing my lunches for work more regularly
  • Feeling less bloated
  • I don't feel the need to eat something sweet after my dinner every day
What small changes have you made to your health?

What small changes do you feel you could make? 

Tell me in the comments.

This is not a sponsored post, Kezia asked me to try her eCourse for free but all opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Peanut Butter Sweet Potato Brownies

Fudgy double chocolate sweet potato brownies with peanut butter | The Road to Less Cake

Today's tasty, chocolatey treat is sponsored by Hale Naturals.

When it comes to brownies you're either in the fudgy camp or the cakey camp. And I'm definitely pitching my tent in the fudgy campsite. 

Come to the fudgy side of life with me, we can have a party....or we could curl up on the sofa, chat, watch a movie and eat delicious brownies loaded with peanut butter and sweet potato with a cup of tea, or coffee if you'd prefer.  

Fudgy double chocolate sweet potato brownies with peanut butter | The Road to Less Cake

I'd seen sweet potato brownies popping up all over blogs, Pinterest and Instagram, so I thought it was about time I tried them. I didn't want to just be a copy cat and make the same brownies as everyone else, so in true food blogger style I experimented and went ahead and added some creamy peanut butter because peanut butter and chocolate makes everything better.

I'm a total convert to sweet potato brownies. Mashed sweet potatoes not only helps to sweeten them in a delicious, healthy fashion, it makes them super fudgy. Just like way I like them.

When I know I'm going to whip a batch of yummy brownies, I pop extra sweet potatoes in the oven when I'm roasting a bunch for lunch or dinner, usually on a weekend for the week ahead (#foodprep!). You could steam the sweet potatoes or even boil them instead.

Fudgy double chocolate sweet potato brownies with peanut butter | The Road to Less Cake

For these brownies I used Hale Natural's PPB, which is a powdered peanut butter. It is a super handy thing to have in the house for baking, adding smoothies for a delicious peanut buttery protein shake and dolloping on porridge with a ripe banana.

There are three varieties of PPB - original, stevia sweetened and chocolate. I'm partial to PPB with stevia, which I used for these brownies, as I try not to have too much added sugar in my diet.

To turn the powder into creamy peanut butter, all you have to do is portion out your PPB, pour in some water and stir it. You can make it as thick or runny as you like.

It adds a smooth, creaminess to the brownies. And it's not an overpowering PB taste. Just a tasty hint.

Fudgy double chocolate sweet potato brownies with peanut butter | The Road to Less Cake
Fudgy double chocolate sweet potato brownies with peanut butter | The Road to Less Cake

As if these brownies weren't good enough, I went the extra mile and made them double chocolate brownies by stirring in some chocolate chunks. Oh yeah.

Every other bite you get an extra blast of chocolatey goodness. How can that not be a good thing?

Fudgy double chocolate sweet potato brownies with peanut butter | The Road to Less Cake

To keep the brownies fresh I store them in the fridge. If you don't want them to be cold when you eat them, I'd recommend taking them out of the fridge at least 15 to 20 minutes (up to 30 and longer if you can) before eating them to let the brownies warm up to room temperature.

You could also zap them up in the microwave so they go ooey, gooey and top with a some creamy yogurt or maybe even an extra dollop of PPB or peanut butter.

The brownies should stay fresh for around 3 to 4 days in the fridge. If you can keep your hands off them for that long.

Fudgy double chocolate sweet potato brownies with peanut butter | The Road to Less Cake

Peanut Butter Sweet Potato Brownies
Fudgy double chocolate sweet potato brownies with peanut butter | The Road to Less Cake
by Nikki Mitchell
Prep Time: 10 - 15 mins (plus cooking tim
Cook Time: 20-25 mins
Keywords: bake dessert diary-free gluten-free vegan vegetarian wheat-free soy-free oil-free chocolate sweet potato peanut butter brownies
Ingredients (9 Brownies)
  • 2 cups (600g) mashed or pureed sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup (60g) PPB original or stevia + 1/3 cup (85 ml) water
  • 1 cup (120g) wholegrain flour of choice (wholemeal/wholewheat/spelt/buckwheat [use buckwheat to keep recipe gluten-free])
  • 1/3 cup (40g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup (100g) plain or dark chocolate chips or chunks
  • 1/3 cup (85 ml) maple syrup
  • Pinch sea salt (optional)
  • If you haven't already bake the sweet potatoes for around 30 minutes until soft or peel them and steam for about 20 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
  • When the sweet potatoes are cool enough to touch or completely cooled, peel the skin off if you have roasted them, and mash them in a bowl with a fork or puree in a blender.
  • In another small bowl mix the PPB powdered peanut butter together with the water.
  • In a large mixing bowl combine the sweet potato, PPB powdered peanut butter, cocao powder, flour, maple syrup and salt (if using).
  • Fold in the chocolate chips/chunks.
  • Pour the mixture into a 12x12 inch square baking tin lined with baking parchment. Evenly spread the mixture out with a cake spatula.
  • Bake the brownies in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
  • When they're cooked leave the brownies in the tin for 10 to 20 minutes. They may break if you try and cut them straight away.
  • Then remove them from the baking tray, peel off the baking parchment and place the brownies on a wire cake rack to cool. Ideally, leave them to cool completely.
  • Using a sieve, sprinkle some cocoa powder on top of the brownies.
  • Cut them into 9 slices.
  • Store in the fridge for three to four days.
  • If you don't want the brownies to be cold when you eat them, take them out of the fridge at least 15 to 20 minutes before eating to let them warm up to room temperature.
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Thursday, 16 April 2015

My Top 10 Smoothie Add Ins

Top 10 Smoothie Add Ins | The Road to Less Cake

Spring has well and truly sprung and I for one am absolutely loving it! Hello, sunshiney days, good bye cold winter days! My bowls of porridge for breakfast have been turning into jars of smoothies.

I'm so happy the warmer weather is here. I've even been hitting the gym before work on a morning with a friend and whipping myself up a smoothie the night before to drink after my workout. I've had a few strange looks and comments from my colleagues about my breakfast. Just wait until I take a green one into work!

In light of my new found love for smoothies again I thought I would share my top 10 smoothie add ins. I've included a few Amazon Associates affiliate links to some of the products and brands I like to use in case you want to check them out.

1. Ground/milled Flaxseed - Flaxseed was the first 'superfood' that I tried and I picked it because of its omega-3s to help my eczema. I also love its yummy nutty taste. Linwoods is my favourite brand. They have plain milled flaxseed, as well as a few flavoured flax blends.

2. Nut Butters - I try to add protein to my smoothies to keep me fuller for longer, which I try to keep natural like in the creamy, dreamy Date Oat and Almond Smoothie and the fruity Cherry Bakewell Protein Smoothie. I love how creamy nut butters make smoothies. My favourite is almond butter, which I often buy in bulk or a big tub, but I also love peanut butter.

3. Chia Seeds - Like flaxseed, I love chia seeds for their omega-3s, but one of my main reasons for adding them to my smoothies is that they thicken them. I'm a big fan of smoothies I have to eat with a spoon. I'm not so keen on thin smoothies, I'd rather have a fresh juice

4. Hemp Protein Powder - My go to protein powder is hemp, which I also bake with and make banana bread as well as smoothies. I have a unflavoured bag from My Protein and recently I have been loving the GOOD Hemp Nutrition Strawberry Flavour

5. Maca Powder - Made from a Peruvian root vegetable, I find maca helps to clear my eczema, making it less inflamed and dry once I started taking it. I think is is because maca decreases sensitivity, and my skin is very sensitive, and is is said to reduce stress, which is a trigger for my eczema. My two favourite brands of maca are Naturya and Organic Burst.

6. Raw Cocao Powder - Sometimes I want a chocolatey smoothie because who doesn't? Usually I blend it up with some peanut butter not only for the protein kick but because it is super yummy. I use raw cocao powder over cocoa powder because it contains magnesium, which has an anti-inflammatory property. As some who suffers from both eczema where my skin gets inflamed and hyper-mobility where my joints are too flexible and things can get inflamed, I try to get enough magnesium in m diet. And if that comes in a delicious chocolatey powder then that is good by me. This is my favourite brand of cocao powder.

7. Spirulina - This is the latest add in that I have been trying on the recommendation of my nutritional therapist. You'll probably have gathered a theme by now but most of the smoothie add ins I choose are to help my dry skin and eczema and research has shown that spirulina can help with itching (source) and as you can probably gather, having eczema means I can get itchy and I will happily try things that will reduce my need to scratch.

8. Goji Berries - So this more of a topper than an add in. Besides making the top of my smoothies look pretty, I like the bittersweet taste of goji berries and it doesn't go a miss that they are full of those lovely little antioxidants.

8. Cocao Nibs - I love sprinkling cocao nibs on top of my smoothies because they add crunch. And like the raw cocao powder them full of magnesium. As well as sprinkling them on top, you could stir or quickly blend the nibs into a smoothie so they are more like chocolate chips. 

10. Avocado - As I've already said, I love thick smoothies and avocados are a super easy way to thicken a smoothie, plus they're full of lots of healthy fats to help keep me full and give my skin and body the monounsaturated fats it needs.

What are you favourite smoothie add ins? 
Tell me below.
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