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Guilt-Free Recipe for Easter

Looking for something different and guilt-free for Easter? Look no further than these Chocolate Cupcakes with Avocado Frosting.

Perfectly light and moist – a great alternative to the heavier Easter treats around. Using avocado in icing might sound strange, and I suppose it is a little strange, but surprisingly it works! And they’re egg and dairy free so even your vegan friends can enjoy a treat at Easter!

Have a look at our Publicity Assistant, Gemma, making up her batch at home:

The Recipe, in black and white

Makes 24 mini cupcakes (12 servings)

Per serving:
Fat: 4.5g (of which saturates: 0.8g)
Calories: 111kcal
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 12 minutes

For the chocolate cakes:
240ml/8fl oz/scant 1 cup almond milk, plus extra for the frosting
1 tsp cider vinegar
185g/6½oz/heaped ¾ cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp almond extract (optional)
250g/9oz/2 cups self-raising flour
30g/1oz/ ⅓ cup cocoa powder, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the avocado frosting:
2 ripe avocados
4 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted
2 tbsp clear honey
a little almond milk, to loosen

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 and line two 12-hole mini-muffin tins with paper cases.
  • Mix together the almond milk and vinegar in a large bowl and stir well, then leave to one side for a few
    minutes to curdle.
  • Beat in the sugar, oil, vanilla extract and almond extract, if using, and whisk until frothy.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix together well.
  • Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin tins, filling the sections three-quarters full. Bake for 10–12 minutes until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  • To make the frosting, scoop out the avocado flesh into a small blender or food processor (or bowl and
    work with a hand-held blender).
  • Add the cocoa powder and honey and process until smooth, then gradually add a little almond milk, a drop at a time, until the mixture just begins to hold its shape.
  • Spoon the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm star nozzle and pipe the frosting onto the centre of the cakes in a nice high peak. (You don’t need to cover the entire surface as this would add too much icing and therefore too many calories.)
  • Peel back the paper and enjoy – the great thing is they are so mini you can eat two!

 

GuiltfreeBaking

Gee Charman

Guilt-Free Baking

£16.99 | available from Nourish Books

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5 Tips to Help You Choose The Right Bite at the Movies

Jackie Lynch shares some tips from her new book, The Right Bite to help you choose your cinema snacks.

There’s something about a trip to the movies that just seems to send caution to the winds when it comes to snacking. The usual suspects, such as popcorn, ice-cream and hot dogs, are high in sugar, refined carbohydrate and even trans fats which can make movie night a bit of a health minefield. Here are 5 quick tips to help you mitigate the damage.

  1. Start Sharing
    You may not be a natural sharer and hate the idea of someone else picking at your food, but the cinema is one place where you might want to bend the rules, as it can make a big difference to just how much you consume in one sitting. You might run the risk of annoying your neighbours with all the rustling, but it can be a clever way of halving the potential calories and sugar intake, as long as you play fair and stick to your share.
  2. Avoid Sugary Toppings and Glazes
    Sweet or salted, popcorn is a starchy snack that adds up to about 500 calories per small portion, so if it’s your preferred movie snack you need to tread carefully. It’s a smart move to steer clear of extra caramel or toffee toppings, as this ups the sugar content significantly and adds around 150 extra empty calories. Sharing is a very smart move here – a large popcorn (sweet or savoury) averages at around 1,000 calories, which is half the recommended daily amount for women. Splitting it between 2, 3 or ideally 4 of you could make a huge difference, especially if you’re a regular moviegoer.
  3. Opt for Frozen Yogurt
    Ice cream is the ultimate comfort food and the combination of sugar and fat is highly addictive to our taste buds, which is bad news if you’re trying to watch your weight, as the excess sugar will go straight to your waistline. The Right Bite here would be natural frozen yogurt, and it’s easily available in most outlets. At 150 calories per 100g tub it contains less than half the calories of vanilla or chocolate chip cookie ice cream which range from 330-400 calories per 2 scoops. Beware of some of the fruit frozen yogurts – they may be lower in fat and calories than ice cream but they still contain the equivalent of around 7 teaspoons of sugar which won’t help your cause.
  4. Nachos Beat Hotdogs Every Time
    If you’re wavering between the two, then opt for nachos. Hot dogs are highly processed and there’s really no room for manoeuvre to make it a healthier choice. Nachos may not be a perfect solution, as the combination of fat, sugar and salt in the tortilla chips is something we instinctively crave, which means that the more you eat, the more you’ll want to eat, but there is far more mileage in health terms if you’re smart about the topping. Avoiding cheese and sour cream and focusing on guacamole and tomato salsa could make all the difference. The avocado in guacamole is a rich source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and contains some protein too which will help to keep you going for longer, so that you’re less likely to get the munchies later on. The spicy tomato salsa is another smart choice, as it’s low in fat and full of antioxidants.
  5. Choose Your Drink Wisely
    If you know there’s no way that you’ll walk past the food and drink concessions without treating yourself to something to eat and drink, try to limit the damage by being smart about your choice of drink. Indulging in a medium soda means you’ll be adding the equivalent of roughly 13 teaspoons of sugar to your snack, which is a huge amount by anyone’s standards. Beware diet sodas, as these may not contain sugar, but the long list of ingredients means that they’re highly processed and the artificial sweeteners they contain can trigger a similar addictive response in the body as sugar, leading to cravings and a possible sugar binge further down the line. There’s no doubt that the Right Bite here would be water – it would help your body cells recover from all the sugar you’ve consumed in your chosen snack, keep you alert during the movie and add no calories at all!

Jackie Lynch is a Registered Nutritional Therapist and runs the WellWellWell clinics in West London. Passionate about the importance of good nutrition for optimum health, she creates practical nutrition programmes suitable for a busy 21st century lifestyle. Jackie also Jackie Lynchprovides advice and support for a range of blue chip companies, in the form of individual consultations for staff, nutrition workshops and menu analysis and has acted as a food consultant for brands such as Tetley. She is a regular contributor to the Mail on Sunday and the Net Doctor website and her advice features in a wide range of other national media. Visit her website.

RightBite_cover

Jackie Lynch
The Right Bite
£6.99, available from Nourish Books.
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Sticky Toffee Tray Bake in Our Office

EmmaOur Export and UK Sales Executive Emma loves baking from Gee Charman’s Guilt-Free Baking, and sharing her cakes with us in the office. We can’t wait to try her sweets, that normally don’t last more than five minutes, and also become a good opportunity to have a little chat during a busy day. And all guilt-free! This time Emma surprised us with a Sticky Toffee Tray Bake, and it was truly delicious. You can follow Emma on Instagram.

My favourite baking book at the moment is Guilt Free Baking and that’s not because I’m slightly biased, but because everything I’ve baked from it so far has been delicious! I’m no baking whizz but I do love the exactness of baking – follow the recipe, how can you possibly go wrong? So I saw the sticky toffee tray bake recipe whilst browsing this book (for maybe the hundredth time) and had to give it a go. It’s particularly great for sharing in the office (maybe), and easy to transport. Perfect!

guilt-free baking

Firstly pre-heat your oven. I always forget and have to wait… 180/350/Gas mark 4. Also prepare your tray. I used a 12 x 8 inch tray, but you could easily use a couple of smaller ones and be creative with your portion sizes.

The thing I liked about the recipe is that there are not hundreds of complicated or expensive ingredients to buy. They’re all ingredients that you would have in your kitchen, with very little buying needed. If you have a food processor, the next part is easy. I realised a little late on that our hand blender at home wasn’t going to make this a simple step. But in the face of this challenge, I persevered and managed to blend the dates to within an inch of their datey life. With the dates, add the vanilla coffee essence and the bicarbonate of soda. I found adding the warm water helped with my lack of food processor as I pulverised them into a smooth puree.

Guilt Free baking

Next the butter and sugar is beaten together in a separate bowl until it’s light and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time so as not to curdle your mix. Once these are in, it’s time to add the date mixture. Now, this next bit is a delicate affair so please be patient with this otherwise you will end up with scrambled egg. I’ve not tried egg and toffee pudding before, maybe it’s the next thing, but I didn’t feel it was appropriate to share this with the team. Add the mixture in little by little folding gently, and finally fold in the flour.

Guit free baking 2

Now you have everything combined, add this to your tin(s) and bake for 30 minutes until a skewer or kitchen knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave this to cool in the tin for now, or if you’re particularly brave (impatient) you could take it out and leave to cool on a rack so it cools quicker.

Whilst waiting patiently for the bake to cool, you can make the sauce. It is both easy to make and delicious. Pour the condensed milk, sugar and butter into a saucepan and gently melt it together for a few minutes until it starts to turn darker brown and thickens up.

This isn’t in the directions, but I cut the bake before pouring over the sticky toffee mixture. There’s guidance for portions per recipe, which gives you an idea of your calorie intake if you stick to it. Though to be honest when you’ve made many of these recipes, calories fly out the window! I found that having pre-sliced the bake, the toffee went everywhere. In my opinion, this is a GOOD thing!

FullSizeRender_14

The photos are courtesy of my glamorous assistant, and partner Maria who had first choice on which square to have first. Again, the recipe doesn’t say this but we had a (small) spoon of cream on the side. I’ve had several sticky toffee puddings but this definitely went down as one of the more delicious versions. You’ll be pleased to know that this will keep for up to five days if you have an air tight container to store it in. Though to be honest if you work in an office like ours, any sweet treat won’t last more than five minutes!

Ingredients:
350g/12oz/2 cups pitted dates
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp coffee essence
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
75g/2½oz butter, softened
200g/7oz/heaped ¾ cup caster sugar
4 eggs
400g/14oz/3¼ cups self-raising flour

For the sauce:
150ml/5fl oz/scant ⅔ cup light condensed milk
100g/3½oz/heaped ½ cup dark soft brown sugar
50g/1¾oz butter

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Gee Charman
Guilt-Free Baking
Available from Nourish in August 2015

 

 

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Meet Jackie Lynch

Jackie Lynch is the author of The Right Bite, a practical guide perfect for urban life, to help people make healthy choices on the go, when Jackie Lynchnutritious food is not easily available. Last week Jackie visited Nourish offices in Angel, and we took this opportunity to have a chat with her about her work, and to know the behind the scenes of writing The Right Bite. You can listen to Jackie Lynch podcast, or download it from iTunes.

Jackie is a Registered Nutritional Therapist and runs the WellWellWell clinics in West London. Passionate about the importance of good nutrition for optimum health, she creates practical nutrition programmes suitable for a busy 21st century lifestyle. Jackie also provides advice and support for a range of blue chip companies, in the form of individual consultations for staff, nutrition workshops and menu analysis and has acted as a food consultant for brands such as Tetley. She is a regular contributor to the Mail on Sunday and the Net Doctor website and her advice features in a wide range of other national media. Visit her website at www.well-well-well.co.uk.

https://soundcloud.com/watkins-media/jackie-lynch-on-the-right-bite

The book is practical and friendly. Each chapter has a Right Bite box, so if you are in real hurry, what you have to do is flick through the book and find the right option for you. – Jackie Lynch

 

JAckie 2

 

RightBite_cover

Jackie Lynch
The Right Bite
£6.99, available from Nourish Books.

 
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4 Simple Strategies to Slash the Sugar in Your Diet

Jackie Lynch shares some helpful tips from her book The Right Bite to help you effortlessly limit the sugar in your diet.

If you’ve been following the headlines recently, you’ll have seen that sugar has been firmly cast as the villain of the piece in health terms which makes it a smart move to keep it to a minimum. Unfortunately, that can be easier said than done as sugar is highly addictive and seems to be added to everything, from bread to soups and pasta sauces. Here are 4 simple strategies which will help you significantly reduce sugar without too much effort.

1. Read the label carefully
Sugar comes in many different guises, and can often feature two or three times on a label in a form that you might not recognise, which means high levels of sugar can slip under the radar, if you’re not careful. Anything that ends in –ose is a sugar, for example sucrose, fructose, dextrose or maltose. Corn syrup, maple syrup (or any other syrup, for that matter), treacle, molasses, maltodextrin and hydrolysed starch are all commonly used terms to look out for, as they are just sugar under another name. Don’t be fooled into thinking that honey is a healthier form of sugar, as it’s just sugar in a liquid form (and that doesn’t change if it’s raw, organic or Manuka honey – it’s all sugar). Avoiding products that contain high levels of these hidden sugars could help you cut sugar consumption quite dramatically. If you want to do the maths when you check the label, a teaspoon of sugar adds up to about 4g.

2. Ensure protein features in every meal or snack
It’s incredibly difficult to limit your sugar intake if you’ve allowed your blood sugar to drop. Low blood sugar leads to increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol which creates powerful cravings for sugar, carbs or caffeine to restore blood sugar balance. When your hormones start to determine your food choices, it’s almost impossible not to give into the temptation of the nearest sugary snack. Protein is hard to digest and helps to slow down the release of sugars and carbohydrate in the body, keeping your blood sugar balanced. A protein-rich lunch will make it much easier to say no to a sugary snack mid-afternoon and including protein in all your meals or snacks will go a long way to helping you stay on the straight and narrow.

3. Avoid the low-fat trap
A common misconception is to opt for low-fat foods as a means of losing weight. This is likely to be extremely counter-productive, as sugar not fat is the principal culprit when it comes to gaining abdominal fat. When fat is stripped out of a product, there is a significant loss of flavour and manufacturers will often add sugar (or salt) to enhance the flavour. A typical example of this would be the so-called skinny muffin in coffee shops. This often contains more sugar than the classic version which means it isn’t the healthy treat you might imagine. Make sure you do a label comparison next time you grab your favourite low-fat product at the supermarket so that you don’t fall into the low-fat trap.

4. Steer clear of dried fruit, fruit juices and smoothies
Swapping dried fruit for fresh fruit can make huge inroads into your sugar intake. The dehydration process considerably intensifies the sugar content of the fruit – for example raisins contain about four times as much sugar as grapes. It’s also important to be wary of fruit juices and smoothies – a glass of orange juice with your breakfast may seem like a healthy option, but it contains the equivalent of 6 teaspoons of sugar and a 250ml smoothie bottle contains even more, with sugar content averaging at the equivalent of 7-8 teaspoons. Opting for vegetable juices will help to keep the sugar content down, as long as you make sure there isn’t too much fruit hidden in there. Or you could just drink water!Jackie Lynch

Jackie Lynch is a Registered Nutritional Therapist and runs the WellWellWell clinics in West London. Passionate about the importance of good nutrition for optimum health, she creates practical nutrition programmes suitable for a busy 21st century lifestyle. Jackie also provides advice and support for a range of blue chip companies, in the form of individual consultations for staff, nutrition workshops and menu analysis and has acted as a food consultant for brands such as Tetley. She is a regular contributor to the Mail on Sunday and the Net Doctor website and her advice features in a wide range of other national media. Visit her website.

 

RightBite_cover

Jackie Lynch
The Right Bite
£6.99, available from Nourish Books.
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Recipe of the Week / Lime and Coriander Crusted Tuna with Bean Salsa

Healthy Speedy Suppers, by food writer and Leith’s trained chef Katriona MacGregor, is a collection of fresh and vibrant recipes that don’t take long to rustle up. With nutritious veggie, seafood and meat offerings throughout the book, most recipes take less than 30 minutes with some 15 minute gems in there too.

The philosophy is ‘healthy eating for the time poor’, so as a young professional couple who start cooking after 6pm this sounded perfect. We’re a foodie couple too and love to cook everything from scratch, so that ticked yet another box.

I was drawn to the Lime and Coriander Crusted Tuna with Bean Salsa, which promised a zesty lime crust, refreshing bean salsa and fresh but spicy seasoning in under 15 minutes. Yes please! With tuna steaks in the freezer, avocado ripening at home and a stock cupboard of tinned beans, garlic and onions, I just had to grab some fresh tomatoes and coriander to make this dish.

You begin by simply seasoning the tuna with crushed peppercorns and coriander seeds and then throwing together the chopped salsa ingredients. Lastly you sear the tuna steaks (I did 3-4 minutes a side rather than the suggested 1) and bring together with the colourful salsa. With the tuna, black eyed beans and avocado having the most calories (all good fats of course) I estimated this dish at just under 500. So it would be great for the 5:2 or low GI diets too. Suffice to say, we ate it up just as fast as it was made.

Next up we want to try the Moroccan Fish Tagine, Spicy Prawn & Tomato Spaghetti and Mushroom and Wild Rice Pilaf.

 

Seared Tuna Steak - Emily CoatesEmily Coates

 

Emily Coates is a food blogger at recipesandreviews.co.uk. Emily is a food writer and online copywriter from the East Midlands. She loves nothing more than creating new recipes, making macarons and trying her hand at homemade pasta. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @emily_etc.
 

HealthySpeedySuppers_WEL_Cover

Katriona MacGregor
Healthy Speedy Suppers
£16.99, available from May 2016

SPECIAL OFFER! Celebrate the World Book Day With Us Today and WIN a Book of Your Choice

World Book Day The World Book Day was designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and is marked in over 100 countries around the globe. The origins of the day we now celebrate in the UK and Ireland come from Catalonia, where roses and books were given as gifts to loved ones on St. George’s Day – a tradition started over 90 years ago.

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