These brilliant little bites are made with good stuff and packed with flavour. Fruity crushes feature cranberries, orange juice and orange zest, making them a refreshing alternative to some of the previous raw food bars and balls I’ve posted.
Let’s be honest, if you are in the mood for a four-finger Kit Kat or a bag of M&M’s, these are not going to do it for you.
However if you’re on a roll with healthy eating and want a brighter, more interesting snack, they are perfect. They’re quick to make and because they use store cupboard ingredients, you can make them as and when you fancy.
To make 10 balls (each containing around 110 calories) you will need:
- 100 grams of cashew nuts
- 50 grams of brazil nuts
- 80 grams of dried cranberries
- 40 grams of dates
- A squeeze of orange
- Zest from half a medium orange
- Cinnamon for dusting at the end
- Blitz up all the dry ingredients.
- Then blitz up the fruity ingredients.
- Work the two sets of ingredients together by hand before adding a squeeze of orange and the zest. The amount of orange juice will probably depend on the consistency of the mixture. It needs to be firm and hold together. If crumbly add a little more juice, but not so much that the mixture becomes wet.
- Divide and roll in to 10 balls.
- At the end dust lightly with cinnamon before putting in the fridge for an hour or so to firm up.
- Store in a jar in the fridge and enjoy as and when you fancy a little something sweet.
If at first you don’t succeed…
…Then get obsessed. Give up a kilogram of oats, 8 eggs and 4 hours. Bake 43 muffins and force feed your loved ones. Over and over. Until you strike the jackpot.
I saw a great recipe on the Glitter and Grey blog for spinach and chocolate chip muffins. The recipe really grabbed me, so I thought I’d have a bash. I decided to tweak it though, making it into a carrot equivalent. The result was ok, but it certainly wasn’t a crowd pleaser. My five year old squeezed honey all over his first one and said that was pretty good though.
I wanted to create something as tasty as carrot cake, but without the flour, sugar and frosted icing. Slightly ambitious I know.
However, with some patience and practice I have created a beautifully sweet, slightly spiced and moist fruity muffin. These saintly bakes also now feature extra honey, thank you Tobias.
You will need:
- 100 grams of greek yoghurt
- 2 bananas
- 2 eggs
- 2 grated carrots
- Grated peel from 1 medium orange
- 3 tablespoons of honey
- 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
- 200 grams of oats (I used gluten free)
- 100 grams of raisins
Thank fully the process is simple:
- Put everything except the oats and raisins into the blender for a few seconds
- Then mix in the oats and raisins in a separate bowl
- Spoon into muffin cases (Use silicone cases to avoid sticking, there’s not a lot of grease in these)
- Put into pre-heated oven (180C fan or 350 F) for 15 – 20 minutes until a rich brown
- Leave on wire racks to cool
You will get 12 muffins from this recipe, each containing around 130 calories.
I also made a batch of buttercream. A reward to my husband and son. They were truly impressed with the less saintly alternative muffin served with a generous topping of buttercream.
The end result here is ultimately just a really tasty plate of cakes. Somehow, the thought, love and attention to get them spot on has made them something more special to me this week. For me this is how you take good ingredients, then carefully find the best way to serve them up with masses of affection.
I really like this one. It’s a super healthy plate of crunchy raw vegetables topped with a simple piece of fish.
I’ve playing around with various yoghurt dressings for the coleslaw. With the final version featuring freshly squeezed orange and lime, I can happily now call this a Sunshine Slaw. It’s bright colours and zesty taste, make it a perfect clean spring salad.
For around 500g of coleslaw you will need:
- 400/450g crunchy vegetables – made up of grated carrot, grated beetroot, finely chopped red onion and plenty of shredded red cabbage
- 100ml natural yoghurt – you may choose to add a little extra once you’ve tasted at the end
- 1 tablespoon of oil – try safflower or olive oil
- 1.5 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
- juice from half a lime – just squeezed by hand
- juice from half an orange – just squeezed by hand
- Seasoning (be fairly generous – but taste to make sure it works for you)
The full batch contains around 300 calories – not a fraction of a regular mayonnaise coleslaw.
To make the coleslaw:
- Simply mix it all together and taste.
- The seasoning and various elements of the dressing may need a little tweak at this stage because the vegetables, oil, yoghurt, vinegar we use are not all uniform. Just be guided by your palette and what tastes good to you.
For the final plate:
For a small lunchtime salad serve around 100g of the coleslaw with around 80g mackerel per person. Simply pan fry fresh mackerel or serve cold mackerel. I tried and loved both but the cold mackerel option is definitely a quicker prep. If you buy pre-cooked fish just check the packet for any added extras. Most will contain some salt, but there’s no need for extra preservatives. You can easily buy this fish without.
The sustainability debate
Mackerel has been both on and off the recommended ‘fish to avoid’ list due to concerns about over fishing in the North East Atlantic. However since 2013 this fish has been on the ‘fish to eat’ list managed by the Marine Conservation Society. Line caught mackerel is by far the best way to source mackerel. Read more about the eco information.
The positive virtues of mackerel
As for the health benefits, mackerel is a widely recommended oily fish. It is rich in essential vitamins and minerals with both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. It also contains protein and the antioxidant Coenzyme Q10, which is associated to the elimination of cancerous elements from cells. Read more on the health benefits.
I hope you get time to try this sunny salad.
Here’s a simple yet wonderfully well balanced mid-weeker. Garlic, mushrooms, spinach and lentils make for such a warming bowl, but it’s the addition of tarragon that wakes up the flavour and makes this a complete dish.
Be brave with the garlic but be careful you get the right amount of tarragon. Just enough gives a hint of bittersweet, too much gives an aniseed flavour that overpowers the softer ingredients. The suggested measures below gives you leeway to add some more at the end if you want a bit more punch.
Things you might not know about tarragon…
- Most tarragon we eat is French, the alternative being Russian tarragon which is less flavoursome.
- Tarragon has a mild anesthetic property when used medicinally. It also has sedative properties and can be used in tea as an aid for insomnia.
- Herbalists sometimes use the herb as an digestive aid because of its ability to breakdown meat fats and proteins.
- Fresh tarragon is one of the highest antioxidant value food sources among the common herbs. It is packed with vitamins including vitamin C, vitamin A as well as B complex vitamins such as folates, pyridoxine, niacin and riboflavin.
- Tarragon is an excellent source of minerals like calcium, manganese, iron, magnesium, copper, potassium, and zinc.
I’ve served this one with red carmargue rice. It’s got a good nutty flavour that works well with the mushrooms. It’s also adds a bit of crunch to the dish.
To make enough for a hearty bowl for one or two small portions with rice you will need:
- 2 tsp coconut oil
- 1/2 red onion
- 2 fat garlic cloves or 3 regular – it’s good to go BIG on garlic with mushrooms
- 100g mushroom
- 100g spinach
- 100g cooked lentils
- 150ml veg stock (if using shop bought try the low salt Bouillon such as Marigold)
- Tablespoon tarragon – but potentially more at the end of the cooking, see below
Serve it with:
- 25g – 40g red rice – which doesn’t sound a lot, but the dish doesn’t need anymore or the rice will become the main event
- Generous spoonful of natural yoghurt
It’s a doddle to make, here’s how:
- Wash the rice thoroughly in cold water then cover with water. Bring to the boil and then reduce heat slightly for around 20 – 30 minutes till the grains are squeezable in your finger tips.
- While the rice is cooking, add your oil to a pan on a moderately high hob, add the onions and garlic. Give them a good five minutes to soften right down.
- Add the mushrooms and lentils and keep on a medium heat for around 5 minutes until the mushrooms start to soften.
- Add the stock and turn the heat down, allow the ingredients to cook for up to ten minutes.
- Put the spinach and tarragon on top and wait for it to wilt into the other ingredients, stirring gently once or twice to help the process.
- Make a final check on flavours and season, maybe adding some more chopped tarragon either now or to the end plate.
- Things should come together around the same time. Drain your rice and give yourself half with a generous measure of the mushrooms and sauce.
- Finish with a big spoonful of natural yoghurt.
(A serving with 25g rice and yoghurt contains approximately 220 calories)
Once made you can cover and keep this one overnight to reheat on the second day.
I hope you enjoy this simple and nourishing bowl of goodness.
If you have time, read more about clean eating or take a look at my lifestyle principles to see how clean eating can be part of your daily world.
I have procrastinated about making mango chutney for some time. I’m a massive fan, but when I look at recipes out there and see ‘1 kg of sugar’, I shudder a bit and shelve the thought for another time.
It was the mangos that led the way though. I found a greengrocer selling ripe mangos and felt I had to face up to it. So with a little experimentation, I have made my first, very lovely, honey sweetened mango chutney.
I like mango chutney with curry dishes, but I’m also partial to a generous helping on salads or with some pan fried fish. On this basis I’ve developed a mildly spiced but softly sweet chutney, one that compliments rather than over powers.
To make the chutney jar shown I used:
- 2 ripe mangoes
- 2 teaspoons of coconut oil (or your preferred oil)
- ½ teaspoon of coriander seeds
- ½ teaspoon of mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon of cumin
- 1 medium onion
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 250 ml white wine vinegar
- 100 ml honey
How to do it:
- First peel the mango and chop as much flesh from the fruit as you can. Put in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and cover in cling film overnight.
- The next day sauté the onions in oil. Take your time over this, you want the onion really soft.
- Pop the garlic into the oven whole to roast for 15 minutes. You can then just squeeze out what you need as a soft pulp. It’s perfect in this form for a chutney.
- Add the garlic and spices, keep on the heat. If the onions and spices start to stick to the pan at the bottom just add a little water. You want to take up to ten minutes on steps 3 and 4 together.
- Add the mango, honey and white wine vinegar, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat right down to a gentle simmer. Don’t put a lid on the pan. Also don’t be put off by the smell of vinegar.
- You have to be patient now and over the course of an hour to an hour and a half keep visiting the pan and stirring gently. You want to reduce the liquid till it’s sticky and soft.
- Once it has reduced down, leave to cool, then check seasoning and add to a jar. (I didn’t add any more salt to this than the original sprinkle to the mango).
The taste really develops as this cools and then again intensifies once added to the jar.
Try it with…
The salad shown works amazingly well with the chutney. It’s just a simple lambs lettuce salad with white balsamic, feta, chickpeas, pine nuts and chia seeds.
I hope you get time to try and enjoy.
I’m hot on the heels of the Ginger nutters I posted last week. I’m not sure these surpass, but they’re certainly in the running. These ones are really crunchy and nutty, a completely different flavour impact to the previous.
I like the whole ball concept – they’re more of a little nibble than an actual snack. They’re also a bit more guest friendly and look pretty cool in a glass jar or bowl.
I’ve increased the nut ratio and combined with both prunes and flaxseed (linseed), making them a good digestive aid if that’s in order.
Prunes are really high in fibre and a great source of vitamin k and beta carotene. I’m not sure these small little balls of loveliness alone can help u-turn our ageing, but a diet high in beta carotene can only be a good thing. It protects and fixes the damage of free radicals on our cells.
Linseed is renowned for its wondrous ways. It too has anti-oxidant qualities, it is rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids (the ‘good’ fats) and is packed with fibre.
At the end of the day these balls offer a better type of snacking. They are good for you and keep you fuller longer than an equivalent empty calorie option.
To make 9 20g balls will need:
- 40g prunes
- 30g dried unsulphered apricots
- 30g raisins
- 20g almonds
- 20g brazil nuts
- 40g cashews
- 10g linseeds
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
What to do:
- This time I just whizzed everything up at once rather than the dry ingredients first. The balls are far more textured this time. I think it’s down to personal preference.
- Once blitzed you can weigh out (or guesstimate) 20g balls and shape.
- Then pop in the fridge for a couple of hours. I keep these in a jar in the fridge.
Each 20g ball contains around 90 calories.
Hope you enjoy