Courgette Noodles With Kale Avocado Pesto

Courgette Noodles With Kale Avocado Pesto
I was thinking the other day that I share all these recipes, insight about nutrition and how to take care or your body and make healthy choices… but I haven’t talked much about the struggles, and those days that can sometimes cause us to feel a little stuck in a rut. 

Blogs and all the social media filling up our daily spaces, so easily creates a perception of perfection. Intentional or not. Being a nutritionist and doing what I do, I am often met with the expectation that I eat perfectly all the time.
Well, let me tell ya… that’s not true. (And I love that)
I absolutely go through times of finding it challenging to be as healthy and balanced as I’d like to be. There are times when my weekly glass of red wine turns into a nightly thing, or when an occasional piece of dark chocolate is all of a sudden not so occasional anymore, and those times when all my cooking experiments results in too many unnecessary snacks in the name of “taste testing”. And then there are the nights I don’t sleep much because I have children, which leaves me really keen on a morning caffeine rush to pick me up. 
The point? There is no such thing as a perfect diet and more often than not, thinking that way only brings discouragement and feeds an unbalanced relationship with food, and yourself. Different seasons have different challenges, but the game changer is to not allow circumstances to become an excuse for unhealthy choices. (And on the note of balance, being too restrictive and afraid of having a bad day can be just as unhealthy and unbalanced as being too careless)
We all have the power to change, and it all starts with a choice of priority. 
Make it a slow, steady progress if that’s what it takes. But make progress the goal, not perfection (!!) And remember that nobody has it all together. The journey is continual, and its never to late to start. 

Courgette Noodles With Kale Avocado Pesto

On a different note, I shared a photo of this delicious and fresh plate of courgette noodles with kale avocado pesto a few weeks back on Instagram. I have since acquired a wild addiction for this kale avocado pesto. It is seriously delicious – and it is healthy and versatile and something you can use in many different ways. I have used it as a spread on crackers (these chia crackers are amazing), in sandwiches, as a dip for veggie sticks and as a dressing/garnish for fresh salads (you can thin it out with extra water or lemon juice if you prefer). This whole thing about one food wearing many hats is totally up my alley, as I’m all about making something once and then reinventing it in a new way at the next meal or the day after. This kale avocado pesto is creamy and so full of flavour and is perfect when combined with the courgette noodles for a light and fresh summer meal. Or even better, as an accompaniment to an outdoor summer BBQ – my fave! And its something you can easily serve to those people who hate kale, because you can’t taste its really kale. 

Courgette noodles with kale avocado pesto
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Recipe type: main
Author:
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: serves 2
Ingredients
Noodle Salad
  • 2 medium zucchini, spiralised
  • ½ cup fresh green peas
  • small handful toasted pine nuts to top
Kale Avocado Pesto
  • ½ avocado
  • handful kale (I used nero kale, but any type of kale or rocket/spinach will work too)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 6 (15 gm/1/2 oz) brazil nuts
  • small handful (15 gm/1/2 oz) pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼-1/2 tsp salt
  • pinch pepper
Instructions
  1. Place all pesto ingredients in an S-blade food processor, or mini chopper and process until semi smooth. Add salt + pepper to taste and stir again using a spoon.
  2. Combine the pesto and courgette noodles and stir with a spoon. Transfer to a bowl.
  3. Sprinkle fresh peas and pine nuts on top and finish off with a extra drizzle of lemon juice and cracked pepper before serving.

You do not need a fancy spiraliser to make your own courgette (or zucchini) noodlesA simple handheld julienne peeler will do the trick. I have this one and love it. But if you make it often and like thicker veg noodles, this one is amazing! I often spirals a few zucchini’s at a time and store them in an airtight container in the fridge, where they stay fresh for a few days.

Hope you enjoy this!

Courgette Noodles With Kale Avocado Pesto

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10 Healthy Pantry Must Haves

I often get asked about what staple pantry items I keep in my own kitchen and what condiments I use and recommend. So, here I’ve put together a list with my top 10 favourite healthy pantry items, many of which I use daily! I’ll go into what’s good about them, why I love them and how I like to use them.

Here goes…

1. Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar

ACV is one of my favourite kitchen essentials and one I often recommend. I use it all the time for homemade dressings and vinaigrettes and also take it as a supplement mixed with water, as it is bursting with health promoting benefits. Apple cider vinegar contains beneficial acids (namely malic and acetic acid) that not only help improve our intestinal flora (good gut bacteria), but also support our immune system, and have anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties that can help keep excess candida yeast at bay. Apple cider vinegar is also known to help break down mucus throughout the body and has a cleansing effect – hence why it is commonly taken during a detox. This too makes apple cider vinegar your new best friend whenever you’re fighting a blocked nose or sinus infection and you want to beat naturally! I like to take 1-2 tbsp diluted in a bit of water first thing in the morning or throughout the day. If you struggle with the taste (which isn’t one I would call pleasant, sorry) try mixing it with sparkling water instead as this somehow makes it a tad easier to drink. For a sore throat, simply garge a tablespoon or two for a minute or so a 2-3 times a day.

2. Raw Garlic

Garlic is one of the most amazing superfood around and has antiviral, anti fungal and antibacterial properties. It is perfect for beating the common cold and has been a trusty side kick of mine during flu season for years now! It is especially great during pregnancy when you have limited options. It is a cornerstone in many cuisines, is versatile and full of health benefits – especially when eaten raw. I’m not a big fan of chewing raw garlic but cut it into smaller bits and swallow to minimise odour and taste. I also love adding raw garlic to my salad vinaigrettes, hummus and raw nut pates and highly recommend this fab garlic press.

3. Dulse Flakes

Dulse is a sea vegetable and the flakes are an amazing source of iodine and other minerals that adds great flavour to salads that isn’t too overpowering in taste. Dulse helps support a healthy thyroid function and therefore a healthy metabolism, and is great for the digestive system as well as gut, brain and liver function – making a sprinkle of dulse an amazing and easy way to enrich the nutritional value of a meal.

4. Mustard

Wholegrain and dijon mustard are my two favourite types of mustard and I love how small amounts add so much flavour. I use them mostly to make up my own dressings, marinades and vinaigrettes. I recently found out that mustard seeds are actually part of the brassica family – and therefore related to vegetables like broccoli, cabbages and sprouts. Mustard seeds are like most other brassica’s rich in a variety of powerful antioxidants that help protect and promote healthy cells all round. And best of all, they’re free from the overload of sugar and sodium found in most commercial dressings and marinades.

5. 100% Pure Liquid Stevia

Stevia is a super sweet herb and it is the best and healthiest sugar substitute around. It does not have any effects on our blood sugar levels, but I do, however, find that it has a slightly funky aftertaste (some people don’t notice this), which means I tend to use it in very limited amounts and often in combination with other natural sweeteners, such as maple syrup, raw honey and dates. That said, you’ll always find this gem in my kitchen pantry. My favourite use? To add a drop or two to one of my vegetable green smoothies if they need an extra touch of sweetness. I don’t tend to add much fruit to my smoothies so a drop or two of stevia and a lemon does the trick!

6. Liquid Chlorophyll

Chlorophyll is the green pigment in green vegetables. It is great for alkalising the body and also works as an internal deodoriser. It comes in liquid and powder form and I tend to go for the liquid (with a delicious mint flavour) as I quite like the taste and find it easy to add a few tablespoons to a large bottle of water to sip. I don’t always take this but it is a great way to get an extra health boosting food into your day, though this is in no way a substitute for eating green vegetables. Actual foods are always best!

7. Raw Organic Coconut Oil

Coconut is all the rage right now, and has been for quite a while! I love how heat stable and versatile it is, making it perfect for cooking, frying and baking as well as being an essential ingredient in most raw desserts. Best of all, it is super nutritious and also something I like adding to my smoothies and porridge for extra creaminess. Coconut oil is said to help reduce cravings, aid a healthy metabolism and is also amazing for the skin. I tend to keep a tub in the kitchen as well as a tub in my bathroom that I use as a moisturiser. Its that good!

8. Activated Nuts

Almonds & brazil nuts are among my personal favourites when it comes to nuts. They are satisfying, healthy and full of nutrients and fibre. Brazil nuts are especially high in the mineral selenium. In fact,  just three brazil nuts a day provides your daily requirement of selenium, which is essential for a healthy metabolism and energy production. Almonds are versatile and full of beauty nutrients, such as biotin and vitamin E, and taste especially great when activated (or sprouted), which makes them easier to digest. They are also a great source of plant based calcium, great for making nut milk and gluten/grain free baking when ground into a flour. Activating you nuts is so easy and so worth it. For all the details on how to activate your nuts and why its good – read this post.

9. Nutritional Yeast

Nutrient rich, full of readily available protein… 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. And it has a naturally cheesy taste, which is the secret behind any vegan mac ‘n cheese sauce. It is easy to get creative with this ingredient and if you haven’t yet tried, go hunt down a tub asap. Its cheap, and so tasty.

10. Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Forget croutons. Toasted pumpkin seeds make the best salad topping ever! Toast them yourself on a hot pan or in the oven with a sprinkle of salt (optional). Then store them in a mason jar, ready to sprinkle on your next salad.

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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). Making a smooth nut or seed butter usually takes me less than 10 minutes using my Vitamix. I cannot recommend this blender enough. I use it several times a day, everyday!

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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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