Favourite Foodie Finds October

Wait… I planned to do a Favourite Foodie Finds in September, how is it already halfway through October?! Oh well, at least that means that I get to do some photo styling with autumnal leaves – yay! Here are my Favourite Foodie Finds for October… (and September!)

Snacks

Snack time: an important part of the workday, some might say THE most important part. Recently snack time has been 9.45am because I’ve been nailing finding low calorie snacks that don’t compromise on taste, which means they call to me from my handbag. I’m not usually even hungry!

Hippeas*

Favourite Foodie Finds October

To be honest I couldn’t imagine what the heck an ‘organic chickpea puff’ would be like but for only 90 calories per bag I was willing to try them to find out! They are actually extremely moreish, like a super crunchy more flavoursome version of a Wotsit! My favourite flavour is Sweet & Smokin’ made with paprika spice and smoked sea salt, but I’ve happily been making my way through all of the flavours on a regular basis (sorry colleagues!).

You can pick them up from Superdrug, Waitrose and Boots among other places – just look out for the sunny yellow packets!

Find out more at: Hippeas.com

Emily’s Fuit and Veg Crisps

Favourite Foodie Finds October

Okay, so if you want the healthiest option for a snack then you should probably just eat some raw fruit. Sometimes though I want something a bit more satisfying, or just lighter to make the commute that bit easier. I’m finding these a good compromise as an occassional snack. Each bag counts as one of my 5 a day, they’re vegan, gluten free and although high in natural sugars, are low fat and low calorie.

My favourites to munch on are Crunchy Red Apple, Crunchy Pineapple and Sweet Potato, Carrot and Beetroot.

You can pick them up in Holland and Barratt and Waitrose.

Find out more at: EmilyCrisps.com

Flavoured Pea Snacks with Chilli and Lime

Favourite Foodie Finds October

I went into Aldi looking for a footstool bargain (it was £40 and a dupe of a gorgeous The White Company one I have been lusting after!). Sadly there were none left and I was a bit hangry, so I looked around for an emergency snack. These are what I grabbed. Again, they are ridiculously low cal, cheap as chips but also surprisingly good! I can’t find a link to them but if you’re in Aldi have a look for them and let me know what you think!

Spreads

Pip and Nut – latest releases*

Favourite Foodie Finds October

Pip and Nut very kindly sent me a selection of their latest releases to try including the Limited Edition Chocolate Hazlenut Coconut butter which is a grown up version of chocolate spread.

I LOVE Pip and Nut, not only because all of their nut butters are delicious, but also because they make a point of not using palm oil and I fully support that. (My post here which explains why.)

They’ve also added crunchy versions of some of their spreads, much to my delight. I’m now rather partial to a spoonful of their crunchy peanut butter straight from the jar when I need an energy boost!

You can find Pip and Nut in most supermarkets these days and Holland and Barrett too.

Find out more at: PipandNut.com

The Naughty Ones

Okay so you didn’t think I’d been a saint all month did you? Hahaha nope. I ate ice cream and drank gin too. Eat good to eat bad – that’s my motto!

Ben and Jerry’s Peanut Butter Cup

Favourite Foodie Finds October

This was a case of love at first bite and goddammit they had better stop reducing it to £2.50 soon or I’m going to need chairlifting off my sofa before long. It’s got huge Peanut Butter Cups in it, it’s chocolatey, it’s peanut buttery… it’s divine.

Favourite Foodie Finds October

Find out more at: BenJerry.co.uk

Rock Rose Premium Scottish Gin – Autumn Edition*

Favourite Foodie Finds October

I’m not much of a gin drinker but the fella is a connoiseur so when Rock Rose asked if I’d like to try their Autumn Edition I knew I’d have a willing volunteer to help me taste test it!

This is a really different gin to any that either of us have ever had before. It’s warm, herbaceous and a little bit spicy, distilled using traditional Rock Rose botanicals, blackberries and raspberries. It’s spot on for this time of year – pour a glass of it and enjoy snuggled under a cosy blanket!

Find out more/buy it at: Dunnetbaydistillers.co.uk

…so that’s my round up of Favourite Foodie Finds for October. What delectable goodies have you discovered recently?

LovedByLaura

*Disclaimer: Items marked with an asterisk were kindly gifted as PR samples for my consideration. As always I’ve given you my honest thoughts on each.

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Clean Eating Alice Eat Well Everyday Recipe Book Tried and Tested

Despite owning quite a few healthy eating cookery books (click here for a roundup of past favourites) I’ve made the meals so many times that I felt in need of some new inspiration. My search led me to Alice Liveing, formerly known as Clean Eating Alice. The pint sized personal trainer’s Instagram account has built a massive following on Instagram thanks to her inspiring posts on fitness and healthy eating. That success has led to 3 books published so far sharing her favourite recipes and workouts.

I chose to buy her first cookbook Eat Well Everyday as it sounded like a good all rounder. The recipes are split into Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Snack sections with clear bright photos to give you an idea of how the finished meals should look.

The benefit of buying digital versions of cookery books

Whilst I do love flicking through the pages of a beautifully illustrated cookery book I was such an eager beaver that I decided to purchase the digital version of this one. It meant that I could download the book to my devices straight away using the Kindle App, plus it was cheaper than buying a hard copy.

Clean Eating Alice Eat Well Everyday Recipe Book Tried and Tested

I’m starting to think that digital recipe books are the way forward as I’ve found it super handy for days when I haven’t planned any meals in advance. I can flick through the recipes on my phone during my lunch break, choose one that I fancy cooking and then pop to the supermarket on the way home to pick up the bits I need. I don’t even need to write a shopping list as I can just bookmark the page.

Clean Eating Alice Eat Well Everyday Recipe Book Tried and Tested

Overall I’m really pleased that I bought Eat Well Everyday as it’s exactly what I was looking for. The recipes are simple and don’t require too much skill in the kitchen, in most cases just a bit of chopping and food prep. There are lots of exciting ingredients featured in the book such as tahini and ras el hanout which help to pack flavour into the healthy dishes.

Eat Well Everyday Recipes – Tried and Tested

Rather than just telling you that I love this book though (which I do!) I thought I’d show you some of the things I’ve cooked so far and my thoughts on them so that you can get a closer look at the recipes.

Crispy Courgette Fritters with Smoked Salmon

Clean Eating Alice Eat Well Everyday Recipe Book Tried and Tested

This recipe appealed to me as it takes the humble courgette and gives it an exciting makeover. It’s simple enough to prep and make, just cut the courgette into batons, dip them in egg and oats and then fry them in a little bit of oil in a pan. Nothing else needs any cooking, it’s served with chopped spinach, smoked salmon, wedges of lemon and seasoning, so it’s quick to whip up at any time of day.

I found that the courgette fritters were actually rather filling and it looked really healthy which made me FEEL healthier for eating it!

LovedByLaura? Yes I give this a solid 7.5 out of 10!

Roasted Aubergine with Feta, Tahini, Pomegranate and Yoghurt

Clean Eating Alice Eat Well Everyday Recipe Book Tried and Tested

This one split opinions! I really enjoyed the flavour combinations with a burst of tangy feta offset by sweet pomegranate, complimented by a nutty tahini dressing. When I then cooked it a second time for the fella however he said, I quote: “It’s a bit too healthy for my liking!” The abundance of aubergine wasn’t a winner for him.

It took all of 5 minutes to prepare but does take about 40 minutes to bake in the oven so it’s not as quick to whip up as some of the others, but once it’s cooking you can leave it so that’s 40 minutes that you can use to do something productive. Or you can watch Netflix. Both valid choices.

LovedByLaura? Yes – I give this one a tasty 7 out of 10.

LovedByLaura’s Fella? Not so much.

Creamy Puy Lentils with Peas, Feta and Bacon

You might notice that there’s no picture accompanying this one – that’s because I didn’t want to put you off your dinner! It did not turn out like picture…

The problem was that it required 200g Puy lentils which are cooked with other ingredients in a saucepan for 20 minutes and I couldn’t find them at the supermarket so I used red lentils instead. BIG mistake. Huge.

It turns out that whilst Puy lentils keep their form when cooked, red lentils break down. When I lifted the saucepan lid after the allotted time I found that my lentils had turned to mush and looked like a very dodgy coloured mashed potato. Mmm appetising! When I finally plucked up the courage to try the mess I’d created it tasted really good, but I just couldn’t get over the appearance.

LovedByLaura? Not so much, because the main ingredient wasn’t easily found and I had to use a substitute which didn’t work as well. I’ve given it 4 out of 10 because the flavour was good and it showed promise but I wouldn’t attempt it again in a hurry.

Mushroom and Mozzarella Shakshuka

Clean Eating Alice Eat Well Everyday Recipe Book Tried and Tested

This is like a healthy version of a fry up with gooey bits of cheese in it – sold!

I’ll be honest, it’s definitely not in the same league of deliciousness as an actual fry up, but it’s a good enough substitute if you’re trying to lose or maintain your weight. Smoked paprika and cumin give the tomato base more depth and the eggs are an energy boosting source of protein.

LovedByLaura? Yes – another solid 7 out of 10 for easiness to cook and a full up feeling that lasts until your next meal.

My Overall Verdict on Eat Well Everyday by Clean Eating Alice

Overall the recipes in this book are not going to win awards for being the most flavoursome and complex things you’ll ever eat, but if you’re looking for healthy meal inspiration and want to keep your recipes quick, simple and tasty this book is a great place to start!

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Protein World #30DayChallenge

Up until this year I’d always dismissed the idea of calorie counting. My approach to weight control has always been to just eat well most of the time and then allow myself some naughty cheat days in moderation when needed.

Earlier this year, however, I was going through a bit of a tough time and suddenly all of my resolve went out of the window. I rapidly lost half a stone and when I got my appetite back put it back on just as quickly and not in a good way. I was being lazy, eating takeaways and lots of sugar and carbs and it just left me craving more.

For the first time in my life I decided that I needed some help to put some structure and control around my diet so I accepted an invite from Protein World to take part in their 30 Day Challenge – a lifestyle plan based around their Slender Blend Protein powders.

Here’s how I got on!

The Protein World Slender Blend 30 Day Challenge

Protein World #30DayChallenge

So what is the Protein World 30 Day Challenge? Well, it’s a 30 day weight loss programme based on the following guidelines for women:

  • 2 Slender Blend protein shakes per day
  • 1600 to 1800 calories on training days (six days a week recommended)
  • 1200 to 1400 calories in total on non training days (one day a week)

You can buy the Slender Blend protein powder on it’s own or as part of a package of complimentary Slender Plan products for a reduced price. I received:

  • The Slender Blend* (Chocolate and Vanilla) – a Non-GMO, low calorie protein powder
  • The Slender Blend Porridge* (Chocolate and Vanilla) – a high protein, sugar-free & gluten-free breakfast powder containing chia and flax
  • Hunger Buster capsules* – designed to help suppress your appetite
  • Fat metaboliser capsules* – designed to help kickstart your metabolism to help you burn calories faster
  • Protein World Shaker* – with a mesh insert to help you mix shakes without lumpy bits
  • A booklet with comprehensive meal planner (which links to recipes on their website) and instructions for full body workouts

The Important Question – Does it taste good?!

Protein World #30DayChallenge

The Slender Blend vanilla protein powder surprised me by tasting really good! I mix it with 250ml cold water if I’m out and about but if I’m at home I blend in a handful of frozen strawberries which bulks it out so that it fills a whole jar. Either way the shakes are nice and filling and keep me going until lunchtime which I wasn’t expecting if I’m honest.

The porridge is good too although as this needs to be cooked on the hob I only tend to eat it on weekends when I have a bit more time. My preference is the chocolate flavoured version.

Protein World #30DayChallenge

I’ve also tried the overnight oats peanut butter recipe from Protein World’s online recipe store. It doesn’t look all that appetising but tastes seriously scrumptious! The only downside is that the calories are on the high side for what I’d usually allow myself for my breakfast.

Protein World #30DayChallenge

How I Got On With The Plan

I found it difficult to stick to the plan to the letter but understood the general principle so I adapted it to suit my busy lifestyle. I was supposed to take the capsules every day but they remain unopened in my cupboard as I wanted to achieve any weight loss in a natural way. I also haven’t followed the exercise plans so I haven’t really toned up at all!

To counteract my lack of exercise I aim for the lower 1200 to 1400 calories a day, which I make sure I stick to by logging my food into a diary using MyFitnessPal. This app has been a game changer for me and makes calorie counting a doddle. I even used it when I went to Wagamama which helped me to find the healthy options on the menu.

The shakes are only 150 kcals each so when it’s practical for me to have them twice a day this makes staying within the calorie allowance really easy whereas on days where I can’t do this or can’t have shakes at all I find keeping within 1200 calories a lot harder. I went out for lunch today and had some sweet potato fries. I could have cried when MyFitnessPal informed me that a portion of them alone is 508kcal!

For dinner I try and make fresh low cal dinners if I can but there are of course days where I don’t have time to cook or just want to be lazy and free up some time. On those I’ve found that Weight Watchers frozen meals are a winner as most are below 350kcals but are really quite tasty and hearty.

Weight Loss Results

Protein World #30DayChallenge

For the 30 days on the challenge I faithfully stuck to having a Slender Blend shake or porridge for Breakfast and another for either lunch or diner, along with one other normal, calorie controlled meal and some healthy snacks.

I’m 5 foot and started off weighing 7st 13lb and had dropped to 7st 9lb after a month which far surpassed what I’d expected to achieve.

It’s now been four months and I now drink one shake a day and two regular meals. Realistically with any kind of ‘diet’ you need to stick to it and when I have off weeks and cheat weekends I do tend to put on a pound and then have to be really good the next week to even things out again, but on the whole my weight is much more stable.

Going on a calorie controlled diet won’t be the right solution for everyone, but it has helped me to take control of my diet and feel better about my health, so I’ll never say never again…

…well not about calorie counting anyway! :p

LovedByLaura

Disclaimer: Protein World kindly provided me with the products to take part in the 30 Day Challenge in return for my honest account of my experiences.

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Healthy Gluten Free Energy Boosting Waffles Recipe _ Coco Loco Holland and Barrett

I treated myself to a waffle maker recently but worried about whether it would be a novelty gadget that would sit on my counter gathering dust.

As it transpires, I’ve had the opposite problem! Making waffles at home is incredibly fun and easy and they taste infinitely better than frozen ones so I’ve been making them regularly. However there’s nothing like baking something from scratch to make you realise how much unhealthy stuff goes into it.

Standard waffles contain a big slab of butter and quite a lot sugar too, so I knew that I’d have to come up with a healthier recipe in order to keep enjoying them. In a case of perfect timing, Holland and Barrett invited me to go ‘Coco Loco’ and create a recipe using their coconut range* and I decided that coconut oil would be a perfect ingredient for my healthier batter, so I set about experimenting.

I don’t actually like the taste of coconut, but since discovering that coconut oil doesn’t actually taste of it I’ve become a complete convert. There are so many benefits to using coconut oil that I could write a whole post just on that subject, but in a nutshell it’s:

  • High in natural saturated fats and this good cholesterol helps keep our hearts healthy
  • Easy to digest
  • Boosts the metabolism
  • A great source of energy

What I’ve created is a super quick and easy to make batter. It produces gluten free waffles which are crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside – just as I think waffles should be.

Healthy Gluten Free Energy Boosting Waffles Recipe _ Coco Loco Holland and Barrett

I’ve added in chia seeds and used raw honey to give an extra energy boost to the recipe which makes my waffles a perfect post workout breakfast or lunch.

Healthy Gluten Free Energy Boosting Waffles Recipe _ Coco Loco Holland and Barrett

Gluten Free Energy Boosting Waffles

Ingredients

Makes 2 round waffles (which can be cut into four quarters)

75g rolled oats
30g cornflour
1tsp baking powder (make sure to check that it’s gluten free as some contain wheat)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp chia seeds
90ml low fat vanilla yoghurt (I used this one from Onken)
3.5 tbsps coconut oil (melted and allowed to cool slightly if solid in pot)
1 egg
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

Use a food processor/blender to whizz your rolled oats into a fine flour, then add this to a mixing bowl with the cornflour, baking powder, salt and chia seeds.

Healthy Gluten Free Energy Boosting Waffles Recipe _ Coco Loco Holland and Barrett

Pour the yoghurt, coconut oil, egg, honey and vanilla extract into the food processor/blender and again whizz them together just long enough to combine them all, then make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet mix.

Fold the mix together and give it a good stir until all combined. Don’t use a food processor for this bit, it will only take a minute and the right consistency is when it’s a bit lumpy and resembles porridge.

Healthy Gluten Free Energy Boosting Waffles Recipe _ Coco Loco Holland and Barrett

Preheat your waffle iron and brush on a little extra coconut oil to prevent any sticking. Add half of the mixture and cook your waffle as per your waffle maker’s instructions until golden brown, then repeat with the second waffle.

I like to top mine with a dollop of natural yoghurt, fresh strawberries and a drizzle of maple syrup!

Healthy Gluten Free Energy Boosting Waffles Recipe _ Coco Loco Holland and Barrett

Healthy Gluten Free Energy Boosting Waffles Recipe _ Coco Loco Holland and Barrett

Healthy Gluten Free Energy Boosting Waffles Recipe _ Coco Loco Holland and Barrett Healthy Gluten Free Energy Boosting Waffles Recipe _ Coco Loco Holland and Barrett

Waffle Maker Notes

I used the Sage No Mess Waffle Maker by Heston Blumenthal. It’s expensive at £90 and you can buy much cheaper models, but I was persuaded by the reviews on this one. I’m really happy with it as it has produced perfect waffles every single time and there is very little clean up involved. It’s also got 6 heat settings so I can make N’s how he likes them: light golden brown and then do mine for longer as I prefer them to be extra crispy!

I hope you enjoyed this recipe. If you try it out please send me a picture by tagging me on Twitter or Instagram @lovedbylaurac – I’d love to see what you come up with!

LovedByLaura

*Thanks go to Holland and Barrett who supplied me with the chia seeds, rolled oats, coconut oil and maple syrup from their fabulous food range so that I could experiment until I got my recipe just right!

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Easy Peasy Superfood Porridge 5

I’ve enjoyed some quiet weekends at home recently and it’s been lovely to spend time in the kitchen making healthy breakfasts and brunches. Things are getting busy again now though so I’ll be rushing off to catch early morning trains over the next few weekends, leaving little time for anything other than ‘grab and go’ breakfasts. This means I have to plan ahead if I want to keep up my healthy eating habits.

…which is all a cunning ploy so that I won’t feel quite so guilty when I inevitably give in to the last Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough Ice Cream Sandwich which keeps calling to me from the freezer.

A while ago I picked up a copy of Jamie Oliver’s Everyday Superfoods and a recipe for granola dust particularly appealed to me. It’s basically a dryfood mix that you prep up in a big batch and can then use as a base for smoothies, as a topping on things like natural yoghurt or my favourite: to make porridge. I tried the exact recipe and wasn’t completely won over on the results, so I did a bit of tinkering to come up with an adaptation which worked better for me.

Easy Peasy Superfood Porridge 5

My version makes enough for 16 portions of superfood porridge. You simply store the mix in an airtight container and then spoon out a couple of tablespoons to make up your porridge when you need them.

Within 10 minutes you can have a nice bowl of hot, nutrient rich goodness which will keep you full until lunch and give you a little endorphin boost thanks to the raw cacao hit. (My favourite days as a child were the ones where we got cocoa pops instead of rice krispies!)

The porridge itself comes out lovely and thick, although you can add extra milk or water to thin it out if you like it better that way. The flavour is quite complex and nutty so I like to compliment it with some fresh sharp fruit to give it a bit of zing.

Easy Peasy Superfood Porridge

Ingredients

(makes 16 portions)

500g porridge oats

150g mixed nuts (unsalted)

50g chia seeds

50g linseeds

125g dried fruit (I used mango, pineapple, cranberries and goji berries)

1 tablespoon cacao powder

Directions

Roast the oats, nuts and seeds in the oven at 180 degrees C for 7 minutes, give them a stir and then pop them back in for another 6 minutes.

Easy Peasy Superfood Porridge 5

Add the dried fruit and cacao powder to the tray and then split the mix into 2 or 3 portions.

Easy Peasy Superfood Porridge 5

Blitz each portion to a fine dust using either a food processor or a high powered blender. I found that it’s best to give the mix a bit of a stir every so often because there will be some moisture from the dried fruit (ironically!) which clumps it up a bit.

Easy Peasy Superfood Porridge 5

That’s it!

To make porridge just heat 200ml of milk in a saucepan and stir in 50g of the granola mix until it thickens to your desired consistency.

Topping ideas

Raspberries, strawberries, cranberries and pomegranate seeds give you a lovely fruity burst and brings out the dried fruit flavours from the porridge.

Easy Peasy Superfood Porridge 5

…or play up the chocolate flavour with some fresh kiwi, sliced apple and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Easy Peasy Superfood Porridge 5

Seriously this is one of the most easy peasy super healthy breakfasts I’ve ever made. I’m reaping the benefits in the mornings as these take no time at all to whip up once you’ve got your mix ready and waiting….

…ahem… unless you fiddle about cutting your kiwis in fancy shapes like me of course!

Easy Peasy Superfood Porridge 5

LovedByLaura

If you’re looking for more delicious and healthy breakfast ideas check out these recipes:

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