Maple Pumpkin Seed Butter

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I adore nut butters. And I have at least a few different types in my fridge at all times. I eat a but/seed based butter every day and seem to find new random ways to use it all the time. In fact, their ultimate versatility is one of the main reasons I love them as much as I do.

I have been making my own nut butters for a couple of years now and am at a point where I experiment with a new combination every time I make another batch, throwing in pretty much any odd nut hiding in my pantry.

But my latest crush?  Seed butters.

Seed butters are similar to nut butters and a super good alternative for those who don’t eat nuts, are allergic or have children who can’t bring nut products to school. And since seeds are typically much cheaper than nuts, it’s a great way to quickly whip up a nutritious spread at a very low cost.

In my experience, pumpkin and sunflower seeds make the best bases for seed butter and are great for making sweeter spread like this one. And add a touch of maple syrup + vanilla and you’ve got yourself one amazing and healthy spread, packed with good nutrition, nourishing fats and plant based protein. If you’re not ready for a full blown seed butter just yet, you can start slowly by incorporating seeds into your homemade nut butters. Simply add 1/2-1 cup of sunflower seeds to your nut butter, as they won’t alter the taste. They will, however, add bulk + some great health benefits.

And when I’m really good and have the time, I like to activate my seeds first by soaking them overnight and then dehydrating them in my oven for 10-12 hours at low heat (read about the benefits of activating your nuts + seeds here).

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Health benefits of pumpkin + sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds are best known for their magnitude of healthy fats, which include essential fatty acids (omega 3 + 6 fats). But they are also a great source of B vitamins – particularly B1, B6 and folate, which are important nutrients for energy and beautiful skin. Similarly, they are also high in selenium, fibre, and a fantastic source of vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant and what I often refer to as the beauty nutrient, as it promotes healthy and youthful skin. Not only does vitamin E protect our skin from free radical damage, it also helps prevent wrinkles by increasing the elasticity of our skin. Other than helping our skin, it is also great for healthy nails and hair.

Pumpkin seeds compliment sunflower seeds really well as they are higher in a different set of minerals – packing a good dose of zinc, magnesium, manganese and iron, all of which are essential for healthy energy levels, healthy skin as well as a healthy immune system. Pumpkin seeds are also known to be a great source of antioxidants, a good source of plant protein with (12 gm per cup) and nourishing mono + polyunsaturated fats.

One of the things I love most about nut & seed butters is how versatile they are. As I mentioned earlier, I use them for a lot, every day. I spread it on bread and top with banana slices and cinnamon, stuff it into a date for a satisfying dessert, use it as a dip for a square of 85% dark chocolate, mix a tablespoon or two into my smoothie, and add it to oatmeal (this is my favourite recipe). The options are endless and you can make them either sweet or savoury to suit your own preferences. I like to add maple syrup + cinnamon to my sweet varieties and turmeric, garlic powder and salt to savoury ones.

Maple Pumpkin Seed Butter
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Recipe type: Spread
Author:
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 1 jar
Ingredients
  • 1½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup (or stevia for sugar free alternative)
  • pinch salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla powder
  • 2-3 tbsp coconut oil
  • cinnamon (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place all the ingredients in a high speed food processor or powerful blender, such as a vitamix.
  2. Blend on high, scraping down the sides as needed, until you get a completely smooth butter-like spread (this took me 15 mins using a vitamix, but may take longer with another piece of equipment)
  3. Add extra maple syrup, vanilla + cinnamon (if using) to taste.
  4. Pour into a glass jar and store in the fridge where it keeps for up to 2 months.

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Moisturising Hand + Foot Scrub

Moisturising Hand + Foot Scrub

I love a good make-it-yourself natural skin care product and this moisturising hand + foot scrub is an essential for when the sun comes out to play. The weather in London has been absolutely glorious this week and my feet are currently loving this super moisturising and conditioning scrub. As are my hands, who suffers under a lot of washing with two young kids.

Investing in your skin with just a few minutes of love using this natural scrub and your skin will look fresh and gorgeous for days. And you can use it on the rest of your body too, but I don’t recommend using it on your face as the brown sugar granules are too coarse for the sensitive skin and can end up doing more harm than good (I will share a recipe for a great facial scrub soon).

Combining avocado oil and brown sugar as the two main ingredients, this scrub is full of nourishing qualities that will moisturise while getting rid of old and dead skin cells. I prefer avocado oil over other oils as the scent is less intense compared to that of olive oil and coconut oil. It also stays liquid at room temperature and is amazingly rich in moisturising fatty acids that works wonders on dry skin.

Brown sugar is great for exfoliation as it is coarse enough to scrub off dead skin cells and make way for the healthier, more glowing skin to show through. Brown sugar also contains glycolic acid, which is an alpha-hydroxyl acid that fights bacteria and helps your skin retain and preserve more moisture, leaving it looking hydrated, conditioned and glowing.

As noted in the recipe below I add essential oils to my product. I do this as they add a great fresh scent, but also because they act as natural preservatives. My favourite essential oils for this scrub include peppermint, tea tree and lemon oil. All these oils posess potent anti-microbial qualities that helps keep your skin product fresh – just make sure you use a good quality essential oil! I recommend storing the scrub in a sealed glass container (an old jam jar or mason jar) in a cool bathroom cupboard where it will keep for up to 2 months.

Moisturising Hand + Foot Scrub

So easy and such a great all-natural way for you to spoil your skin in preparation for summer. Hope you love this as much as we do!

Hand + Foot Scrub
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Recipe type: Skincare
Author:
Prep time:
Total time:
Ingredients
  • ½ cup coarse brown sugar
  • ¼ cup avocado oil (alternatively you can use olive oil)
  • 1 tsp vitamin E oil
  • 10 drops essential oil (I used a mix of lemon and yang lang essential oil)
Instructions
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir well using a spoon.
  2. Transfer to a sealed jar and store at room temperature.
  3. Keeps up to 2 months.

Moisturising Hand + Foot Scrub

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Broccoli + Leek Green Soup

Broccoli + Leek Green Soup

As I’m about to write this, I realise my easter post isn’t very easter-like at all. While many of you are probably planning your easter menu and chocolate egg hunts right about now, here I am, about to share a recipe for a green broccoli soup. Huh? (Yea, sorry about that).. But chances are, you’ll thank me after the weekend. That moment when the mere thought of another chocolate egg makes you gag. So I’ll take my chances and hope you love me later.

Our Easter holiday kicked off early this morning at 4 am when we left our London flat and headed to the airport. I am now writing this from Denmark where we have dropped the kids off with my parents before my hubs and I fly to Switzerland tomorrow morning (a 6 am flight again – what were we thinking?). But hey, early or not… it’s gonna be just the two of us! And to the alps of all places.

I’ve been wanting to see the alps for as long as I can remember. People travel with different highlights in mind… the food scene, historic landmarks, weather, shopping… and me? I’m all about the scenery… especially when there are mountains involved. They just totally blow me away.

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Anyhow, about this green soup. This recipe is a perfect spring soup… delicious and satisfying, not to mention amazing for your digestive system, liver and your skin.

Spring time is a season where many of us give it an extra nudge in efforts to boost our health and lighten the toxic load after a long winter. While I’m no believer in strict detoxes, juice fasts and the like, I do find myself craving lighter foods as the days get longer and the temperatures warm up. There’s something very uplifting and therapeutic about preparing fresh and colourful spring meals this time of year as the season change. And for me, that means plenty of salads, fresh fish and light soups, which where this recipe fits in perfectly.

It is simple yet tasty. Fresh yet hearty and light while still being filling. Vegetable soups are a great way to boost your overall health and support natural detoxification as they are rich in nutrients that are incredible easy for the body to digest. Efficient digestion means that the body can focus more on repairing and rejuvenating cells, which is crucial for optimal health. Broccoli is particularly great for the liver – the major organ responsible for ridding the body of all sorts of toxins we ingest through the air we breathe, foods we eat and toxins we absorb through our skin. Amazing right?! Whenever boosting detoxification is on our radar, supporting the liver is an absolute must given the fact that the liver is the organ doing most of the work! As they say, “as our liver goes, so goes our overall health”.

In simple terms, being good to your liver looks a lot like this…

  • Eating fresh greens and lots of them. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, arugula, sprouts & cabbage) are especially good as they are rich in sulphur and boosts your body’s natural detoxification systems.
  • Avoiding alcohol, caffeine and all types of drugs, as all these burden the liver and its ability to clean up on the inside. Alcohol also impair nutrient absorption and digestion.
  • Drinking lots of pure filtered water. Adding fresh lemon slices and a squeeze of lemon juice is even better as lemon helps boost and activate enzymes that enhance detoxification and flushing of toxins. Much of the research on lemon water’s ability to detoxify the liver is centered around the antioxidant D-Limonene, which is more concentrated in the peel of the lemon. So add a few slices of lemon to get the benefits of the peel as well.
  • Drinking herbal teas that aid liver function. These include liquorice root, dandelion root, fennel & milk thistle. Herbs can be very helpful in aiding digestion, promoting liver function and supporting overall health, and they are a great alternative to caffeinated tea and coffee.
  • Avoiding all refined sugars, processed foods and artificial sweeteners (except 100% pure stevia, which is a natural herb). Basically, anything that takes a lab to produce, takes a lab to digest. Stick to natural wholefoods and eat them in their most natural state. These are foods your body were created to eat, digest and utilise.

As highlighted above, broccoli is an amazing vegetable for supporting liver health. It is incredibly rich in sulphur rich compounds that boost specific liver detox enzymes that help our liver rid the body of toxins more efficiently. Maybe its just me, but knowing these things makes anything made with broccoli taste even better. Ha! And a broccoli soup is such a great way to pack a large amount of broccoli into a single bowl.

Broccoli + Leek Green Soup

Broccoli + Leek Green Soup
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Recipe type: Soup
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: serves 2-3
Ingredients
  • 1 tsp coconut oil (or butter)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or chopped
  • ½ tsp dried marjoram
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 1 head broccoli + stem, chopped into large florets
  • 750 ml (3 cups) vegetable stock (or even better, bone broth)
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • chilli flakes to top (OPTIONAL)
Instructions
  1. Melt coconut oil in a large pot and add garlic, onion + chopped leek. Sauté for a few minutes until they soften and become translucent.
  2. Add vegetable stock and marjoram and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer and add broccoli pieces. Leave to simmer for 5-10 minutes until the broccoli is semi soft. It is important to not overcook the broccoli here so check it regularly.
  3. Transfer the soup mix to a high speed blender and blend on high until the soup reaches a smooth consistency. Add salt + pepper to taste.
  4. Serve immediately and top with chill flakes.
  5. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Hope you all have a great Easter holiday!

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Spring Pea Salad With Dulse Dressing

spring pea salad

It’s officially Spring and I’m celebrating with a fresh and deliciously green kale spring pea salad. I love seeing all the emerging fresh bright produce at the markets this time a year and am a major fan of eating like its summer before it actually is.

I was so pleased when I woke up to an email from Julie, asking if I’d like to contribute a recipe to her blog. Julie and I go back a few years and first got to know each other when we used to meet for 7am saturday morning spin classes at Soulcycle in TriBeCa, NYC. Followed by coffee and green juice in a nearby cafe, obviously. Then we both moved to London and ended up living just minutes from each other, which meant countless mornings working together, exploring London and hanging out with my, at the time, 1 year old son. Julie was that treasured friend who was there to give me sanity on the days where motherhood was tough, and she was was the most faithful guinea pig for the countless times I made her try new recipes – good and bad. Knowing Julie and her love for greens and fresh colour, I thought this salad was perfect and hope you all love it!

Nutritionally green peas are a great source of vitamin K, B vitamins, fibre and protein. In fact just one cup contains 44% of your daily need for vitamin K, which is essential for healthy bones as it helps anchor the calcium inside the bones. B vitamins are essential for healthy energy levels as well as healthy skin, hair & nails, and peas also embody a unique set of phytonutrients that provide some amazing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits! One of these phytonutrients are called coumestrol. A recent study based in Mexico showed that just 2 milligrams of coumestrol had protective effects against stomach cancer. To put this into a perspective… a single cup of peas contains around 10 mg of this powerful compound, giving us a small glimpse into the nutrient rich and health promoting nature of these small green wonders. Remember, the fresher the peas – the greater nutritional value. So go raid your local green market and choose fresh over frozen whenever possible (that said,  frozen peas are better than no peas at all).

Peas are also a fantastic source of plant based protein with a surprising 7.5 gm of protein for every cup (137 gm). That is the same as a large egg! Note that down for next time someone tells you that plants don’t have protein. Ha!

spring pea salad

This dressing is inspired from my love for nutritional yeast and dulse flakes. I love adding a few teaspoons (or tablespoons – who am I kidding) on my salads and love all the health benefits I get from both. Nutritional yeast is full of B vitamins (some brands includes B12 as well), trace minerals and is a bioavailable source of complete protein, which contains all 18 amino acids. It is naturally free of dairy, soy, gluten and sugar, and contains no animal products. B vitamins help balance the myriad systems of the body, support healthy energy production, and can help decrease PMS, mood changes and irritability. B vitamins can also improve skin, nails and hair and is great for memory and brain function. Dulse flakes, on the other hand, is a sea vegetable and an amazing source of iodine. It adds great flavour to salads and is rich in many minerals and helps support a healthy thyroid function as well as a healthy metabolism. It is also great for the digestive system and supports healthy gut, brain and liver function, making a sprinkle of dulse an amazing and easy way to enrich your meal. And if you’re not a fan of seaweed at all, try it anyway as the flavour is dry subtle and barely noticeable atop a salad. The dressing also packs a pinch of cayenne, which adds a great spice and somehow works really well with the rest. I’ll admit I was sceptical when first trying this dressing, but I was instantly a fan… and hope you will be too.

Head over to Julie’s blog, Julieann Gregory, to get the full recipe…

spring pea salad

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