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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?

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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.

 

Chocolate overnight oats

Who wants to eat fluffy chocolate mousse for breakfast? Ok, so there are some (strange) people out there who don’t like chocolate, my hubby included, but I hope most of you will reply with a deafening ‘YES PLEASE!’

I get sick of having the same things for breakfast, but not being a morning person I find it difficult most mornings to even decide what I want to eat, let alone make it. That’s why I love overnight oats. Prepared the night before, all I have to do the next morning is take them out of the fridge and devour them.

For me, this recipe makes enough for three days and keeps well in the fridge in a covered container. I get my chocolate fix first thing and start the day with a filling breakfast. It’s a win-win!

ChocolateOvernightOats

Chocolate overnight oats

Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 0 mins 🙂
Makes 2-3 servings

50g (1/2 cup) rolled oats
250g (1 cup) plain Greek yogurt
120ml (1/2 cup) your choice of milk
20g (3 tbsp) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp of your choice of sweetener (honey, maple syrup, etc.)
extra yogurt and chocolate sprinkles to serve (optional)

Add all the ingredients to a lidded container or jar and mix until combined. Cover and leave overnight in the fridge.

The next morning, stir and serve with an extra dollop of yogurt and some chocolate sprinkles.

What’s your favourite type of overnight oats?

I’m linking up to Honest Mum‘s Tasty Tuesdays, a weekly list of fabulous recipes.

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

New year, new…

I’m terribly late wishing you a Happy New Year, it’s already February!

I’ve been away from the blogasphere for over two months due to a few things all happening at once which have taken my energy and attention elsewhere, completely draining me at times. Just focusing on the good stuff, something we’ve been trying to make happen for a long time finally did happen – once again we’re homeowners!

Definitely the best thing that’s occupied me for the last few months has been moving into our new home. A wonderfully light and warm house that’s also very English-looking I think, don’t you agree?

And it even has a name - Minstrel Cottage.

And it even has a name – Minstrel Cottage

Before we moved, Nicholas decided on some house rules, all by himself, the main ones being

  • No shouting
  • No anger
  • Everyone be happy

I’m so looking forward to filling our new home with love and laughter as well as gorgeous things. But in the meantime I’m project managing the long list of work we’re getting done, as well as being the designated door opener for the daily deliveries of building supplies!

Thanks, dear readers, for hanging in there, and I really appreciated the messages checking up on me from some of you. My next post will definitely be food-related 🙂

Very happily decorating our outside Christmas tree

Very happily decorating our outside Christmas tree

Our very first attempt at cooking a turkey for our very English Christmas in our new home

Our very first attempt at cooking a turkey for our very English Christmas in our new home

Surrounded by unpacked boxes, Christmas 2014 spent with friends and family couldn't have been more perfect

Surrounded by unpacked boxes, Christmas 2014 spent with friends and family couldn’t have been more perfect

Greek Chicken Tava

Christmas is fast approaching and I’m super excited that family and friends are coming to us this year. I LOVE Christmas, but have never had the chance to organise it myself.

Of course having family to stay means also feeding them before and after Christmas day, so I’ve been researching, making lists and trying out recipes that easily feed a large number of people. There’s going to be 9 of us to feed for two weeks!

Honest Mum

The gorgeous Honest Mum’s Greek Chicken Tava (actually her mum’s recipe) ticks all the boxes. Quick to prepare, everything thrown into one baking dish (less washing up) and roasted in the oven so you can forget about it while it cooks and get on with other things. And on top of that, it’s delicious, warming and filling, and also easily doubled (or tripled!). The perfect easy (and healthy) family meal.

I also love that you can add pretty much any vegetables you have on hand. Vicki’s mum uses onions, potatoes, courgettes/zucchini, carrots and tomatoes. I’ve made this several times now and also tried peppers/capsicum, parsnip and beetroot. Basically any vegetable that’s yummy roasted is fine to add.

Vicki’s mum uses slices of large fresh tomatoes. I tend to throw in small vine tomatoes (still on the vine) as I love their pops of freshness when you eat them. I also tend to leave out the chilli simply because Nicholas can love spice one day and hate it the next, and it’s still really tasty without it. I also use dried oregano instead of fresh.

A brilliant dish whether you have a large family to feed or just deserve some more time to yourself instead of slaving over the stove!

Greek Chicken Tava

Prep time: 10-15 mins
Cook time: 50 mins
Serves 4

750g new or Maris Piper potatoes, unpeeled, chopped into small pieces
8 medium chicken thighs, on the bone and skin on
2 onions, quartered
2 courgettes, sliced
2 carrots, chopped
2 large tomatoes and/or 400g can diced tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small fresh red chilli, chopped
40ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
40ml red wine (optional)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tsp cumin
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano (or dried)
flat-leaf parsley, chopped, to serve

Preheat oven to 200°C

In a large baking dish or tray, add the potatoes, chicken, onion and vegetables, tomatoes, garlic and chilli. Drizzle with the olive oil and add the wine (if using). Season and sprinkle with cumin and oregano.

Bake for 50 minutes, checking on the chicken and turning if necessary.

Serve with a sprinkling of parsley.