RSS Feed

Strawberry and prosecco jam

Here in the UK seeing an abundance of plump strawberries doesn’t just mean summer is here, but that it’s Wimbledon. Did you know they get through more than 23 tonnes of strawberries every year at the tennis tournament?

Strawberries have been know in Europe since Roman times when they were used to help bad breath and labour pains. They have anti-inflammatory properties, are an excellent source of vitamin C and have a good amount of potassium. Do you need any other excuses to eat them?

Strawberries and Jam

Well, when I was sent a selection of recipes to try from Tate & Lyle, the first one that jumped out was strawberry and prosecco jam. How could that combination not be delicious?

I’d never made jam before but knew that some fruits, like strawberries, cherries and grapes, only have small amounts of pectin making it more difficult for the jam to gel. But Tate & Lyle have solved this issue with their Jam Sugar which has added pectin to ensure a perfect set.

I’ve discovered making jam is actually easy! And having a few jars of homemade jam on hand is great not only for lazy Sunday breakfasts but perfect to impress your guests for afternoon tea, either dolloped on scones or in a Victorian sponge.

Strawberry & Prosecco Jam -low

Being a novice jam-maker, I did rather a lot of reading about jam-making. There’s quite a lot of debate about how much sterilising is needed for the jam jars as well as how to seal them properly.

Whatever method you use, you do need to sterilise your jars properly, and it’s also important to put the jam into hot jars while the jam is still piping hot.

I boiled my filled jars of jam. Many people online say this isn’t necessary to properly seal the jars and that it’s enough to turn the jars upside down while they’re still hot and leave them this way until they’re completely cool. I wanted to make sure any bacteria that might have gotten into the jar while filling them was killed as well as ensuring a tight seal on the jars.

To boil your filled jars you just need to put them in a large pot, completely cover them with water, bring to the boil and then boil for 10 mins. Carefully take them out of their water bath and leave to cool. As they cool, you’ll hear pops as the air comes out and the jars completely seal.

Whichever method you use, check the seals on the jars when they’re cool and use any that haven’t sealed well first.

But how does this jam taste? Absolutely delicious! While the added prosecco is subtle, it gives the jam another layer of flavour. And the added bonus is you’re just going to have to drink the leftover alcohol – what a shame!

Strawberry and Prosecco Jam

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15-20 mins
Makes 5 x 450g jars

150ml prosecco
1kg Tate & Lyle Jam Sugar
1kg strawberries, hulled

Put the prosecco, sugar and strawberries into a large heavy-based pot and place over a low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.

Increase the heat and boil steadily for 10 minutes, taking care to keep an eye on the jam to ensure that it doesn’t boil too rapidly.

Meanwhile, sterilize your jars by washing them in hot soapy water, rinsing well, then placing them in a low oven at 150°C/Fan 130°C/Gas Mark 2 for 10 minutes.

Test the jam for setting point. To check, remove the saucepan from the heat, spoon a little jam onto a cold plate and leave for 2 minutes – it should wrinkle softly when your finger is pushed over the surface. If this point has not been reached, return the saucepan to the heat and continue to boil for another 2 minutes. Test as before until setting point is reached. (You may need to test several times, though be patient, as this testing is crucial to achieve the correct consistency).

Pour the hot jam into the warm sterilised jars. Leave to cool, then seal and label.

Store in a cool dark place. Once open, keep in the fridge.

StrawberryandProseccoJam

Tip: Chill a stack of small plates in the fridge, so that you have a few lined up for checking the setting point. You can also use a thermometer; the setting point for jam is 105c (220F).

More yummy Tate & Lyle recipes using their jam sugar can be found here.

Disclosure: I received a packet of Tate & Lyle’s Jam Sugar to try out this recipe. My opinions are honest and my own. 

Spinach frittata

SpinachFrittata_TBCP_2

As you know I’m in the midst of doing The Body Confidence Program. Because it’s a high-protein diet that doesn’t allow dairy and greatly limits fruit, the biggest change to get used to has been at breakfast time.

To be honest, after 6 weeks I’m still struggling having to cook breakfast most mornings instead of throwing together my usual granola with yogurt and fruit, or grabbing overnight oats from the fridge. But, I have to admit, a cooked breakfast full of protein definitely keeps me going, without my tummy wanting a snack, right up to lunchtime.

One of my favourite breakfast options on the program is the spinach frittata. Surprisingly tasty for such few ingredients, after you’ve made it a couple of times it’s very quick and easy to make even first thing in the morning. Before starting the program I would have been tempted to throw in some bacon and possibly some cheese as well. Trust me; it doesn’t need any additions at all.

You can easily halve the recipe to make just one serving, but leftovers can be eaten cold or quickly heated up for another breakfast, an easy lunch or even a snack.

Spinach frittata

Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Serves 2

1 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
50g spinach
4 eggs
60 ml almond milk
pink Himalayan salt and ground black pepper to taste
pinch of paprika (optional)

Preheat your grill to high.

In a medium ovenproof frying pan, melt the coconut oil over a medium heat.

Add the onion and cook until just starting to brown. Add the spinach and toss for a minute or two to wilt, then remove from the heat and set aside.

Beat the eggs in a bowl and whisk in the almond milk. Add salt, pepper and paprika (if using).

Put your pan back on the heat. Evenly spread the onion and spinach in the pan and gently pour in the eggs. Cook until you see the mixture start to set at the bottom of the pan with the top still quite runny. Immediately turn the heat off.

Place the frying pan under the grill for 2 to 3 minutes or until the frittata is golden and cooked through.

Serve either hot or cold.

SpinachFrittata_TBCP_1

What are your favourite breakfast dishes that keep you going till lunchtime?

The Body Confidence Program – halfway update

Woohoo! I’ve completed 4 weeks of The Body Confidence Program!

It’s actually gone really quickly and so far (I have another 4 weeks to go) it’s been a very positive experience.

The Body Confidence Program is all about living a healthier and more confident lifestyle. The aim of the 8-week program is to help you kick-start your way to achieving this while giving you more body confidence.

Ru-tee Block, a former Adidas model, designed The Body Confidence Program and leads you through the 8 weeks. She has combined her knowledge being in the health and fitness industry for 25 years with her experience as a personal trainer and nutrition coach together with years of study of the human body. She’s spent the last few years perfecting her program.

image_3

What initially attracted me to the program was the guarantee of losing 2 jean sizes. As I recently confided, over the last year my weight has steadily increased. Stress has made me turn to food and this comfort eating has not only piled on the kilos but has left me feeling lethargic and not good about myself, which has made me stressed and the cycle continued. I knew I had to do something, but needed an extra external push.

Ru-Tee’s program gives you weekly menus to follow (the recipes are very easy and also usually quick to prepare) which change so you don’t get bored, there’s a weekly support call and a closed Facebook group where you can share how you’re going with others doing the program. There are also regularly updated articles, tips and exercises to keep you motivated while understanding the change you’re making to your lifestyle.

Of course, changing your lifestyle isn’t a walk in the park. It’s common to be very grumpy and irritable the first week as you go without carbs, gluten, dairy, sugar and caffeine. The first few weeks have reminded me of the Dukan diet – loads of protein with some vegetables and very little fruit. It’s a good way to start reducing your body fat but it can also leave your body craving the not so healthy food we often fill it with! The second morning of the program I woke up with a massive headache that felt like the worst hangover I’d had in a long time; thankfully that was the worst I felt for the first week.

image_1

I missed sugar the most during the first few weeks. Surprisingly, being a coffee snob, I can live without it. The only other thing I struggled with (and continue to) is having a protein-heavy breakfast.

I never feel able to eat anything but a light breakfast, so not only having to eat bacon and eggs or spinach frittata but also having to cook them first thing has been a struggle!

The biggest positive for me is being able to have one cheat day a week. Yes, once a week you can eat whatever you want! It’s perfect if you’re going out or have a special occasion and it seems like most people doing the program make the absolute most of their cheat day, especially during the first weeks!

I really like having all my meals planned out for the week. I know what I need to buy and usually the extra cooked protein from a dinner will be made into something else very quickly for the next day’s lunch. Each week more recipes are added so you have more variety. I’ve enjoyed most of the recipes – they’re tasty, definitely not boring and fill you up. There are also many family-friendly recipes so you don’t need to cook different meals for other family members. I’ll definitely keep using many of them in the future.

BUT the biggest positive of the program for me is that it works. Losing 2 jean sizes over the 8 weeks is equivalent to losing a total of 16 inches from your body. After 4 weeks my body has already reduced by 17.5 inches! I’m getting back into my old slimmer clothes and feeling so much more confident about myself. It’s gotten easier every week and I can’t wait to see how good I feel in another 4 weeks!

image_2

Disclosure: I’m very lucky to be doing The Body Confidence Program for free in exchange for documenting my progress. My opinions are honest and my own.

Margaritas – a healthier version

We’ve had a surprising number of sunny days in the UK. Fingers crossed it continues for the rest of summer!

When we’re able, enjoying being outdoors in the garden fills me with happiness and tops up my energy levels, and nothing feels more deserved than relaxing with a lovely cold drink after playing and running around with Nicholas.

Hubby is the cocktail king (I don’t think I’ve ever used any of our cocktail-making gadgets!) and makes the most luscious drinks so there’s no need for me to even contemplate trying. But, when I came across Cookie and Kate’s Skinny Margarita I knew I had to give it a try.

To make their margarita ‘skinny’, Cookie and Kate replace the traditional Cointreau with freshly squeezed orange juice, thereby lowering the amount of alcohol while adding some natural sweetness. They also add some more sweetness with agave nectar, avoiding the refined sugar some people like to add to the mix.

I prefer maple syrup so that’s what I used to add some more sweetness, as well as convert their American measures to English ones.

This margarita is tart, very refreshing and oh so satisfying. I was very tempted to make another one immediately!

healthier_skinny_margarita

Margaritas – a healthier version
(adapted from Cookie and Kate)

Prep time: 10 mins
Serves 1

Sea salt
60 ml blanco or silver tequila
50 ml fresh lime juice (about 1 1/2 limes)
30 ml fresh orange juice (about 1/2 a medium orange)
1 tsp maple syrup (or agave nectar)
1 lime wedge (or wheel) to garnish

Chill your glass by either putting it in the freezer or filling it with ice while you juice your limes and orange.

Pour a little salt onto a small plate just a little bigger than the rim of your glass. Slice off a small piece of lime and run it around the rim of your glass to moisten it. Dip the rim of the glass lightly into the salt (if you don’t like too much salt with your margarita, only dip half of the rim).

Fill your cocktail shaker with ice . Pour in the tequila, lime juice, orange juice and maple syrup.

Put on the lid and shake for 30 seconds.

Double strain the mix into your glass and garnish with the lime wedge.

Sit back, relax and enjoy!

Tip: Use a good quality tequila. In a classic margarita only a blanco (white) tequila, also called silver or plata, is used.

What’s your favourite refreshing drink when the weather is sunny?

Olive oil granola – the lazy way

OliveOilGranola2

I love a good crunchy granola for breakfast, balanced with some tangy yogurt and topped with sweet fruit like strawberries – yum! Making it yourself is not only easy, but means you can tailor  it to perfectly match your taste buds (or adapt it to fit what you have in your cupboard).

There are many recipes out there for olive oil granola and mine is very similar – start with your oats, add a selection of yummy nuts and seeds plus some spice of your choice then top with olive oil and sweetener.

What is different is how I prepare it, in a very lazy way, avoiding extra bowls and jugs to wash as well as keeping my hands clean! I think it’s also a quicker way to get all the granola goodies together and who doesn’t want to save time?

OliveOilGranola1

Of course measuring out ingredients uses bowls, but once you’ve made this once or twice you can be brave and do it by sight without measuring. And this is a recipe where you don’t have to be exact in the quantities.

You can use whatever nuts and seeds you like; stay simple with just a few or add lots of different ones. I prefer almonds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, but also add cashews and golden linseed sometimes. Walnuts and pecans, broken up a little, work well, as do flaked almonds.

You can also easily add some dried fruit, like raisins, sour cherries or goji berries, at the end to the toasted mixture.

Olive oil granola – the lazy way

Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 40-45 mins

300g rolled oats, preferably jumbo
75g skin-on almonds
50g pumpkin seeds
25g sunflower seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
100ml extra-virgin olive oil (or melted coconut oil)
100ml sweetener of your choice (I use 50ml each of maple syrup and honey)
2 tsp vanilla extract

Heat oven to 150C.

Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Spread the oats evenly on the prepared tray. Add the almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and cinnamon, and mix with a large spoon or spatula.

OliveOilGranolaPrep

OliveOilGranolaPrep1

Pour over the olive oil, sweetener and vanilla and mix well.

Spread the mixture evenly over the tray and put in the oven for 20 minutes.

Take the tray out of the oven and mix the granola to keep it toasting evenly.

Put it back in the oven for another 20 minutes or until it’s golden to your liking.

OliveOilGranolaPrep2

Leave to cool. Break up any large chunks if necessary and store in an airtight container.

Eat with milk or a dollop of yogurt and top with your favourite fruit, or simply devour it as is!

Variations:

  • try different spices like ginger or cardamon
  • add dried fruit such as dried sour cherries, goji berries, raisins, etc after the toasted granola has cooled
  • add a pinch of salt when adding the spices

 

What’s your favourite way to eat granola?

Taking better care of myself (The Body Confidence Program)

There are many reasons we don’t take care of ourselves and if you’re a mum, that list of reasons is definitely longer!

I could tell you about my upbringing; being a minister’s daughter, putting other people’s needs and feelings first was drummed into me. I could tell you about struggling with depression after my daughter’s death which led to me not loving myself. I could tell you about our very stressful house renovations that went from a few months to a year making me comfort eat. I could tell you a lot of things that have led me to not putting myself first (or second, or third, or…) and feeling very negative about myself. BUT…

… in the end all of these reasons are irrelevant. What IS important is the realisation that I HAVE to take better care of myself, no excuses!

Not taking care of myself means that the weight has piled on, my energy levels have diminished and, for the first time ever, I’m feeling my age. While making sure my family eat healthily is a priority and I love experimenting with the healthier versions of recipes I post here, I often grab the easiest thing to eat on the run (which usually isn’t the healthiest).

But no more excuses. And to help me put myself first I’ve signed up to The Body Confidence Program. It’s an 8-week program that focuses on following a healthy lifestyle without having to count calories or exercise every day. There’s lots of support and the guarantee you’ll drop two jean sizes if you follow it properly. It sounds like the perfect solution for me!

Day 1 starts tomorrow, so today I’ve been enjoying the foods that aren’t allowed (bread, cheese, salami and also coffee). But the great thing is, especially for someone like me who rebels against restricted diets after a while, is that you’re allowed one cheat day a week when you can eat whatever you like (and thank goodness for that!).

Please wish me luck. I’ll post regular updates of my progress (and, when I’m brave enough, the ‘before’ shots I’ve taken).

Here’s to a healthier and happier life, not just for those I take care of but for the most important person – ME!

Disclosure: I’m very lucky to be doing The Body Confidence Program for free in exchange for documenting my progress. My opinions are honest and my own.

Lego you can eat

Well they look good enough to eat!

nobu_tary_legofood_banana

Japanese master builder Nobu Tary creates the most amazing Lego creations.

nobu_tary_legofood_hamburger

nobu_tary_legofood_broccoli

nobu_tary_legofood_cupcake

nobu_tary_legofood_icecream

nobu_tary_legofood_gingerbreadhouse

And the most fabulous slice of pizza!

nobu_tary_legofood_pizza

Check out some more of his amazing creations here and here.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 131 other followers