Plum and Ginger Porridge

Porridge is my favourite breakfast almost all year round, and I am constantly trying to find ways to reinvent it. I love porridge because it is warming and filling as well as being cheap and nutritious. This recipe came about as I needed a way to use up over-ripe plums, and found that ginger adds a real warmth that is perfect for chilly autumn mornings. 

The Good Stuff:

Porridge is a good source of low glycemic index carbohydrate - this means that it doesn't increase your blood sugar very quickly, and therefore avoids that mid-morning slump. Oats also contain a certain type of sugar called beta-glucans which have been shown to reduce bad cholesterol, making porridge a heart healthy breakfast. Plain porridge made with just milk or water is also reasonably low in calories - around 150-200 kcal per serving. This recipe uses plums and apple juice, and so counts as 2 portions of your 5 a day per serving - not bad for before 9am! 

Ingredients: (serves 2)

For the compote

4-6 plums (dependant on size)

1 cup apple juice 

tsp ginger paste

tsp ground ginger

For the porridge

1 cup oats

2 cups milk (I use almond milk, but dairy milk or water works just as well)

Chopped plums.png

Method:

Chop and the plums and remove the stone, leaving the skins on. Add the chopped plums, apple juice, ginger paste and ground ginger to a saucepan on a low-medium heat. Stirring occasionally, wait for the plums to cook down to a soft, jam-like consistency - this usually takes about 15-20 minutes for me. 

Whilst the plums are cooking, add the porridge oats and milk/water to another pan and heat gently. The more you stir the creamier the consistency of the porridge becomes so I like to stir it as much as possible. Depending on how thick you like it, you may need to add more liquid.  To serve, spoon the porridge mixture into 2 bowls and top with the compote. The apple juice should be sweet enough, but you can still add any sweetener to taste. 

I like to make extra compote which I keep in the fridge and use as a snack on its own or as a topping for pancakes

Spicy Chickpeas

Many of you will be heading back to school or university soon and the quest for a healthy mid-morning snack begins once again. These roasted chickpeas are ideal alternative to a bag of crisps or salted nuts, and are super cheap to make too. 

the good stuff:

Chickpeas are a good source of protein - at around 9g per serving here, setting them apart from the usual carbohydrate heavy offerings such as crisps and cereal bars, perfect for getting some plant-based protein instead of or alongside animal products. They are also quite low in calories, aside from the drizzle of oil they are cooked in, making them around 150kcals per serving. Chickpeas are also high in fibre, with each serving coming out around 7g - nearly a fifth of your daily goal, this means they will keep your digestive system ticking over nicely, and keep you fuller for longer. 

 

ingredients (2 generous servings)

1 tin of chickpeas in water

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp paprika

Splash of oil (I use rapeseed)

salt and pepper to taste

method:

Preheat the oven to 180C (fan). Drain the chickpeas - if you keep the 'chickpea water' check out the many uses for it here! Rinse them in a colander ad then place on kitchen paper to remove excess water. 

Add the chickpeas to a non-stick baking tray along with the spices and oil and then toss the tray making sure the oil and spices coat them all. Pop them into the oven for 15-20 minutes, keeping an eye on them to make sure they don't burn. I like to take mine out of the oven when they are still soft in the middle, but if you cook them for longer they will become crunchy instead. Once they are out and cool enough to try I add salt and pepper to taste. I will also sometimes add a splash more oil if I think they need it  - this does increase the calorie and fat content of them but can be a nice touch if they are being offered as a party snack or replacing crisps, for example. 

Pea and Leek Risotto

I love risotto but was always put off by how long it took to make and the effort required. I came up with this recipe as quick and easy way to a tasty risotto that doesn't require hours of slaving over the stove. 

the good stuff:

Packed full of veggies, each serving contains 2 of your 5 a day! 

ingredients: (serves 4)

1 tbsp oil

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 large leek, chopped

1 cup of risotto rice

3 cups hot stock

1 cup frozen peas

 

method:

Heat the oil in a medium non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add the chopped leek and garlic and cook until soft. Add the rice and coat in the oil until it starts turning translucent. Add the hot stock - all at once - and leave the pan on a low heat to simmer for 20-30 minutes. Once all the stock has been absorbed, test the rice to see if it is tender. If not, add a little more water (around a tablespoon) and wait until that has absorbed too, repeat this until the rice is tender. Stir the peas through until they are cooked and then served. 

Easy Homemade Granola

I developed this recipe so it can be easily adjusted to whatever you have in the cupboard! The below recipe is for a 4-serving portion, but it can be easily scaled up or down as long as the ratios are the same. 

the good stuff:

Oats are a good source of low glycemic index carbohydrate - this means that they doesn't increase your blood sugar very quickly, and therefore avoids that mid-morning slump. Oats also contain a certain type of sugar called beta-glucans which have been shown to reduce bad cholesterol, making porridge a heart healthy breakfast. Dried fruit counts towards your 5 a day, and nuts provide healthy fats. Making your own granola also means you can control how much sugar is added. 

ingredients: (serves 4)

1 cup oats

1 cup dried fruit and nuts (I use cranberries, macadamias, sesame and pumpkin seeds)

1/4 cup oil

1/4 cup agave nectar

method:

Preheat the oven to 110C fan. Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper. 

Add the oil and agave nectar to a small saucepan and warm on a low heat for 5 minutes. In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Once heated, add the oil and agave to the dry ingredients and mix well. Spread this mixture out in the lined baking tray and cook in the oven for 20-30 minutes. Check regularly to ensure it doesn't burn. Once cooked, the mixture will be brown but still soft, it will crisp as it cools. Store in an airtight container. 

Sweetcorn Fritters

Brunch is my favourite meal of the day and these make a nice addition or as a substitute for toast. 

the good stuff:

Sweetcorn counts as part of your five a day, as does half an avocado which I often have on the side. 

ingredients: (makes 4 fritters)

1 tbsp oil

1 cup of sweetcorn

1 cup plain flour

2 tsp of chilli powder

method:

Heat the oil in a non-stick pan - I use a mini pan perfect for frying one fritter at a time. In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients. Add a tablespoon at a time of the mixture to the pan. Cook until brown and crispy.

Tofu Ramen

A quick and easy lunch or dinner packed full of protein and veggies. 

the good stuff:

Tofu is a source of plant-based protein - it often gets slammed as bland and tasteless but the recipe sees it spiced up and with a crispy texture to convert the most avid tofu-hater. Any veggies can be used here, but baby sweetcorn and broccoli work particularly well - this recipe provides one of your five a day. 

ingredients: (serves 4)

3 tbsp oil

1 pack of firm tofu (around 350g)

1 red chilli, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

900ml stock 

2 cups thinly sliced vegetables

3 nests of rice noodles

method:

Heat the oil in a wok over a medium heat and then add the tofu. Fry the tofu until it is crisp and brown on both sides. Reduce the heat and the chilli and garlic, then add the vegetables. Add the stock and rice noodles and wait for the noodles to soften. Once the noodles are cooked, s

Chickpea Curry

This is a really quick warming curry that is perfect for a midweek meal.

the good stuff:

The chickpeas used here provide plant protein and fibre to keep you fuller for longer - if you opt for brown rice then you can add even more fibre to your meal too. 

ingredients: (serves 2)

1 tbsp oil

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 tbsp curry powder

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained

1/2 can coconut milk 

method:

Heat the oil over a medium heat in a non-stick frying pan. Add the onion and garlic until the onion has softened, but not browned. Add the curry powder and cumin seeds, you can also add  chopped fresh chilli here if you prefer a spicer taste. Once the spices have been cooking for around 2-3 minutes, add the drained can of chickpeas (find out what you can do with the leftover chickpea water here). Make sure the chickpeas are coated in the spices and then add the coconut milk, reduce the heat so that the curry is simmering gently and leave it to reduce. I like my curry sauce white thick so tend to leave it for 20-30 minutes.Serve with rice and vegetables to make sure you get a delicious balanced dinner. 

Banana & Peanut Milkshake

I love this as a quick breakfast or mid-afternoon snack, just put all the ingredients in a blender and blitz it up. Using a frozen banana makes it even creamier and thicker. 

ingredients

1 banana, sliced

1 x tbsp peanut butter

1/2 x tbsp agave nectar

300ml almond milk

Vegan Pancakes

I make no secret of my love for pancakes, I could eat them all day everyday, savoury or sweet. My favourites, though, are American-style blueberry pancakes for Sunday brunch, even with a cheeky bit of ice-cream occasionally. 

The good stuff:

Ok so it contains one of your 5 a day, but I am not going to lie to you, this is not a particularly saintly breakfast. I use white flour instead of brown because I think it works best here, and I fry them in a lot of oil or margarine because I find it works best.That being said, your choice of toppings is the main deciding factor in just how naughty this breakfast is - if you can control yourself (I 100% cannot) then this can be super-healthy. My recipe, however is not for that version.... 

Mixing pancakes.png

ingredients (makes 6, serves 2)

1 cup white, self-raising flour

pinch of baking powder

1 cup milk (I use almond)

1 cup blueberries

tbsp or more of oil/margarine/butter for frying

toppings of your choice

method

Heat up a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat (I use one the size of single pancake which make life a lot easier!).

Whilst the pan heats, mix together the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl before slowly adding the milk. Using a silicone spatula really beat the mixture until it is smooth and slightly sticky. Tip the blueberries into the mixture and gently mix them in.

Heat up a tsp of the oil/margarine/butter in the pan and then pour in around 2 tbsp of the mixture. You don't want the pancakes to be too thick, as their centres won't cook. Flip them once they are cooked on one side and remove them from the heat once both sides are brown. Repeat this until all 6 pancakes are cooked - you can keep the first few warm in the oven on a low setting. 

Top the pancakes with whatever you like - I usually go for agave nectar, almond butter, some extra fruit and spoonful of yoghurt. 

Blueberry Peanut Butter Bars

If you are in need of a sweet treat then look no further! There is no 'good stuff' section for these because they are 100% indulgent!

Ingredients: (makes 5-6)

2 tablespoons of margarine (recipe is vegan if you use dairy-free margarine here)

2 tablespoons of peanut butter - without sugar

2 tablespoons honey

1 cup oat flour

1 cup whole oats

1 cup blueberries

Method:

Preheat the oven to 175C and grease a tin - I used a standard loaf tin.

In a saucepan over a medium heat, melt the butter and peanut butter together, then add the honey. Mix together to form a smooth, sticky mixture. Once combined, add the cup of oat flour. I use a children's oat-based smooth porridge cereal (Oh the things we say to avoid product placement!). I use this because it is fortified with all the vitamins and minerals that are present in normal wheat flour, but it has a nice oaty taste perfect for these bars. Stir until you have a thick paste. 

Finally stir in the whole oats and blueberries. Press firmly into the tin using the back of a spoon and pop into the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the mixture starts to turn a golden brown colour. Remove from the oven and score into portions whilst still warm, then leave to cool completely before eating. 

Energy Bites

I have attempted to make these little date filled treats lots of times, but failed, so here is a recipe that worked for me, and will hopefully work for you too! 

Good stuff:

Nuts, including the pistachios used here, are a source of protein and fibre as well healthy fats.

Dates are a source of fibre, but they are a source of sugar so don't eat them all at once! 

Ingredients: (makes 10) 

250g dates

75g chopped nuts 

100g pistachios

Pistachio

method: 

Place the dates and chopped nuts into a blender and blitz until a paste is formed.

Roll into balls.

Place the pistachios in a blender and blitz them into a powder. Roll the balls in the ground pistachios and enjoy!

I like to keep them in the fridge to give them some extra bite.

Jar

Salted Caramel Porridge

Salted caramel is one of my favourite things, and it seems a bit indulgent to have it for breakfast - then again, autumn really lends itself to caramel and apples. 

Good stuff:

Porridge is a good source of low glycemic index carbohydrate - this means that it doesn't increase your blood sugar very quickly, and therefore avoids that mid-morning slump. Oats also contain a certain type of sugar called beta-glucans which have been shown to reduce bad cholesterol, making porridge a heart healthy breakfast. Plain porridge made with just milk or water is also reasonably low in calories - around 150-200 kcal per serving. This recipe uses a whole chopped apple per serving and so it counts as 1 portion of your 5 a day. As a word of warning, this recipe uses added sugars and salt, which makes is very delicious but also not ideal for eating everyday - think of it more as an occasional treat! 

ingredients: (serves 2)

for the porridge

1 cup oats

1 cup milk (I use almond)

2 apples, cubed

Tbsp pecans

for the sauce

1 x tbsp tahini

1 x tbsp honey

Pinch of sea salt

Method:

To make the porridge, add the oats and milk/water to another pan and heat gently. The more you stir the creamier the consistency of the porridge becomes so I like to stir it as much as possible. Depending on how thick you like it, you may need to add more liquid. Whilst the porridge cooks, toast the pecans and apple cubes in a dry pan on a low heat, watching them carefully as they can burn quickly. Mix the tahini and honey in a separate bowl and add salt to taste - remember you can always add more but you can't take it away, so don't add loads at once! Mix until a caramel consistency is formed. When cooked, put the cooked porridge into 2 bowls, top with the fruit and nuts and then drizzle some of the caramel sauce on top.

 

Vegan Shepherd's Pie

For years I hated shepherd's pie and would dread it being served up for dinner. Since perfecting my veggie version, however it has become a staple of my midweek menu. 

Good stuff

This recipe uses lentils instead of meat for plant-based protein as well as fibre. In addition to the lentils, using tomatoes, sweet potato, carrots, courgettes all count towards your 5 a day (about 3 per portion). 

Ingredients (serves 6):

2 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 red onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, sliced

1 vegetable stock cube

1 whole courgette, grated

1 whole carrot, grated

240g dry lentils

1 white potato

3 sweet potatoes

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large pan over a medium heat and add the red onion and garlic. Cook until they start to soften and then add the stock cube. Add the grated vegetables and fry all together for 5 minutes on a low heat. Add in the lentils and tomatoes, making sure they are mixed in well and cover, continue to cook over a low heat.

Whilst the lentil mixture is softening in the pan, chop all the potatoes into equally sized pieces and boil or steam until soft (I tend to boil them for around 15 minutes). Once they are soft, drain the potatoes and mash with the remaining oil, long with salt and pepper to taste. Once the potatoes are mashed, the lentil mixture should be cooked through. Check that the lentils are soft, and that the mixture is not too runny - it shouldn't have any loose water sitting on top.

Spoon the lentil mixture into an ovenproof dish and then top with the mashed potato. Use a fork to create ridges on the top - these bits should go nice a crispy! Bake in the oven for around 20 minutes, or until the top is crispy. I serve this with peas and broccoli for a lovely comforting midweek meal. 

Breakfast Rice Pudding

I have always loved rice pudding, and this week I got thinking about what a delicious breakfast it would make. The rice pudding of my childhood was a winter treat that usually came out of a tin and was sickly sweet and stodgy, but I decided to make a healthier version that could double up as a breakfast. 

Good stuff:

This recipe uses brown rice which had more fibre than white rice, keeping you fuller for longer and helping your digestive system. It also has a lower glycaemic index which helps to keep your blood sugar more stable and may help you to lose weight. The serving of mango counts as one of your five a day.

Ingredients: (serves 4) 

1 cup brown long grain rice 

3 cups water

1 x 400g can of coconut milk

1 tbsp desiccated coconut (optional) 

2 tbsp honey

1 mango

Methods:

Start by boiling the brown long grain rice in the water until it is al dente (cooked, but firm to bite). Drain the rice, if necessary, and set aside. Transfer the coconut milk into the saucepan you used for the rice. Bring it up to the boil and then reduce the heat until it is simmering gently. Add in the cooked rice, stirring occasionally, until the coconut milk is almost all absorbed. Remove from the heat (at this point I like to stir in the desiccated coconut). 

For the topping, peel and slice the mango and it into a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat. There is no need to add oil. As it starts to soften, add a splash of water into the pan along with the honey. Stir the fruit so it becomes coated in the honey sauce. 

Pudding 1

If you plan to make a batch of the rice pudding and reheat it each morning, be sure to cool it quickly after cooking initially (within an hour), and make sure it is throughly reheated before you eat it. You shouldn't keep cooked rice in the fridge for more than one day. More info here. 

Vegan Chilli-non-carne

A bowl of spicy bean chilli is one of my favourite comfort foods. I like to serve it with some smashed avocado and brown rice for a filling and tasty dinner that is quick and easy to prepare. I tend to make a huge batch of it so that there is always some in the freezer ready for those days when I don't have time to cook. 

Good stuff

This recipe uses pulses and beans instead of meat for a hit of plant-based protein. This also adds in plenty of fibre to help your digestive system and ward off hunger for longer. There is even more fibre to be found if you eat it with brown rice. In addition, the tomatoes plus the beans and pulses mean the recipe counts towards your 5 a day (about 2 portions per serving).

Ingredients (serves 4):

1 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 red onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, sliced

1 red chilli, sliced

1 tsp ground paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp hot chilli powder (add more or less depending on your love of spice!)

2 x 400g tins of beans or pulses (I use "mixed beans")

2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes

Method:

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat and add the red onion, garlic and chilli. Cook until they start to soften but don't let them brown. Add in the spices and stir - you may need to add a splash more oil if it becomes dry and hard to mix - and fry for 5 minutes on a low heat. Add in the beans and tomatoes, making sure they are mixed in well with the spices, onions and garlic. Leave to bubble away on a gentle simmer, uncovered, until the chilli is a thick, spoonable consistency with no loose liquid on the top. I like to leave mine on the hob on the lowest heat possible for around 1.5 hours to make sure the spices really soak into the beans. 

Serve with brown rice and avocado, in fajitas or on it's own for a comforting bowl of goodness.