So this past weekend I decided to try my hand at baking some yummy cranberry and chocolate protein brownies because I do have a bit of a sweet tooth that I really need to keep in check, and what better way than to do so with these healthier brownies?

Here’s the recipe (it’s super easy):

Ingredients:

  • 150g cranberries
  • 150mls water
  • 3-4 tablespoons of Sugar free syrup (I used the Myprotein maple syrup flavour)
  • 25g rolled oats (I blended them into oat flour but whole works too)
  • 60g Whey protein (I used chocolate for extra chocolateyness, but vanilla also works)
  • 60g cocoa powder
  • 100g apple sauce (unsweetened)
  • 1 egg
  • 40g dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 160mls unsweetened almond milk (I used Blue Diamond)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

Pre-heat your oven to 180°C and prepare an 8×8 pan by greasing it all over with coconut oil and adding a sheet of baking paper to the bottom.

Add the cranberries, water and syrup to a frying pan and simmer over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes (whilst you prepare the batter), or until your cranberries have popped and become soft.

Combine your wet (egg, apple sauce, milk, and vanilla extract) and you dry (oats, protein, cocoa powder) ingredients in separate bowls, and mix together slowly to form your batter (I used a mixer for a couple of minutes here, but you can just mix it with a whisk or spoon as well).

In another pan, melt the coconut oil and chocolate together, and once melted add to your batter mixture. Stir in well.

Next, strain your cranberries (feel free to keep the syrup as a smoothie base for another day, or just throw it out). Ensure you have strained them as much as possible to avoid making the batter too wet. Now add your cranberries to your batter and slowly.

Add your mixture to your pan and bake for 20-30 minutes (or until you can stick a skewer in it and it comes out clean).

Take out your brownies and leave them to cool before cutting up. The last step is to put them in the fridge to set for a couple of hours, before you go in for the taste!

The finished protein brownies (prior to being cut up) look like this:

Protein Brownies: Cranberry & Chocolate

When I was growing up, my mother often made these gorgeously fruity salsa dips to have alongside barbecues, so the other day I decided I would try to replicate one of her recipes, and the result was an amazing, fresh mango, lime & coriander salsa.

The Ingredients:

  • 1 Ripe Mango
  • 1/2 of a Cucumber
  • 2 Medium-sized Tomatoes (slightly sour in taste)
  • 4 Springs of Coriander
  • 1 Thai Chili
  • 1 Lime

The method:

Chop up your mango, cucumber and tomatoes, and combine them in a bowl.

Next, de-seed your Thai chilies, cutting a slit, lengthwise, into your chili and using a spoon to scrape out the insides. Next, finely (very finely) chop your chili and add it to the bowl.

Then take your coriander springs and finely chop them up, adding these into your bowl as well. Once you are done chopping, take your lime and squeeze all of the juice from it over your chopped ingredients.

Now mix everything together and you should be left with a nice, citrus and mango flavoured salsa, which you can use to top off salads, or to enjoy alongside a nice and hefty steak.

The end product:

My version of this delicious salsa looks like this:

Fresh Mango, Lime & Coriander Salsa

For a more saucy, salsa type texture, I would suggest adding everything into a chopper, as this will get a better result in terms of chopping your ingredients much more finely. You’ll also get everything mixed up more, and your chili will be perfectly combined into the juices of the salsa.

If you do use a chopper though, I would still suggest chopping the chili and coriander separately and by hand. This is simply because you will need to chop these much more finely than the rest of your ingredients.

Do you have any deliciously fruity (or less fruity) salsa recipes to share?  Let me know by leaving a comment below!

In an effort to continue with expanding my culinary skills I attempted to make a winter carrot, butternut squash and pumpkin soup for dinner on Wednesday evening. I thought it would be a good idea to get a whole butternut squash and cut it up myself. Be warned, if you attempt this, either buy pre-cut butternut squash or make sure you have the best possible set of knives – it took me an hour to get it all cut up.

The ingredients for the soup are:

  • A tin of pumpkin pure
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1 whole butternut squash
  • 2 Thai chilies
  • 2 Tbsp of salt
  • 500ml boiling water
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil (to garnish)
  • To make sure you are able to puree the soup, you will need some form of blender (I used a hand blender for this but a counter-top blender works even better).

The method:

Cut up the carrots and butternut squash, adding 500ml of boiling water to them in a large pot. Once soft, add the tin of pumpkin puree and remove the pot from the heat.

Grab your chilies and de-seed them (I like to cut a little strip into them and use a spoon to scrape out the insides). Now chop your chilies as finely as possible because they are so small, your handblender may not puree them enough.

Next  you will need to use your blender to get those carrot and butternut squash pieces nice and pureed, mixing these in with the pumpkin puree along the way.

Once complete, return to a low heat and continuously stir to ensure your soup doesn’t burn at the bottom of the pot. Add salt and taste; you may need to add more salt because you have combined a lot of sweet tasting foods in one pot.

The end result:

Voila, the end result should look like this:

Carrot, Butternut Squash and Pumpkin Soup

I felt full for hours after having this delicious soup, and have even made enough for another 2-3 servings, which is great because it is a fairly light dinner (calorie wise), yet will fill you up immensely so you won’t be hungry after a short while. This is a really good dinner to have after you have gone to the gym in the evening.

I’ve been having a little think as to what I could possibly do to make my food more exciting, and to help me stick to my healthy diet. I’ve therefore decided, to expand my culinary skills and try out new things. Now what are the best tools to help me along the way? Well Instagram and Pinterest of course, because how can you start a journey without a little inspiration?

So today I’ve opted for a very simple yet different recipe, as this is not something I would usually think of making. I’ve chosen to make haloumi and asparagus parcels wrapped in parma ham. To make the dish a little more exciting, I’ve decided to serve these on a bed of chicken soaked quinoa.

Ingredients needed (serves 2):

125g of Goats cheese
A pack of Asparagus ( 110g)
A Pack of parma Ham (100g)
100-150g of uncooked quinoa
A cube of Knorr Chicken Stock

The method:
First, bring a pot of water to boil and add your stock cube by crumbling it into the water, along with the quinoa. Decrease the heat for the quinoa to simmer for 20 minutes.

Next, chop the asparagus in half and remove all the bits you don’t want/need. Next, slice the haloumi into around 10 slices.

Now take two pieces of asparagus to one piece of haloumi and wrap these in a slice of parma ham. Place this onto an aluminium covered baking tray (trust me – this minimises the mess and clean-up after).

Once complete, set your oven to grill at 180 C and place the baking tray underneath for 4-5 minutes. Then turn the parcels and let them grill for another 4-5 minutes on the other side.

Check you have cooked your parcels thoroughly before turning off the grill and leaving your parcels in the oven with the door ajar, to ensure they stay warm.

Now remove the quinoa from the heat and drain it, putting it onto your plate to serve as a bed for your parcels. Next, place your parcels onto the quinoa bed one by one and enjoy!

I made a variation of the above, by making a Fig, Parma Ham & Asparagus salad. For this I used Haloumi instead of Goats Cheese. I would not recommend this as it ended up being far too salty (and that means a large amount of sodium was consumed, which is definitely not ideal). I also added some figs roasted in maple syrup, which did taste pretty good, and instead of quinoa, I had everything with iceberg lettuce, rocket, cucumber and tomatoes. All in all it was quite a large, meal, but the finished product looked like this:

Fig, parma ham & asparagus salad

I like to be real with you all, so note for the future: this can definitely serve two people, so don’t do what I did and over eat!

Yesterday I decided to do something for my boyfriend’s birthday next week: bake a chocolate cake! The only problem with this is of course that I’ve not baked anything in years, so I had to bake a practice cake today to make sure my skills are on point for next week. (What a shame, I had to eat some too!)

So here’s the process from start to finish, along with the recipe and method, after all, a nice chocolate mousse cake is always the ideal way to go for cheat day, right? You can always freeze it before icing as well.

As a guide, this recipe serves 10, so amend as needed of course!

Ingredients needed for the cake are:

  • 200g Brown Muscovado Sugar
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 100g Natural Yoghurt (I used my favourite – Fage)
  • 30g Cocoa Powder
  • 100g Unsalted Butter (softened)
  • 1/4 tsp Salt (you could use salted butter instead)
  • 1 tsp Bicarbonate Soda
  • 3/4 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 125ml Boiling Strong Coffee (instead of vanilla extract, I used my vanilla infused coffee here)
  • 175g Self Raising Flower

Ingredients for the Chocolate Mousse Icing are:

  • 45g Unsalted Butter
  • 150g Dark Chocolate (I used 90% chocolate but it may be a bit bitter for some of you)
  • 62.5ml Double Cream

Finally for the cake baking method:

Combine all ingredients for the cake itself in a large bowl, in the order written. Once Combined, beat the mixture for 30 minutes to ensure no lumps are left:

Miking cake batter

Once complete, pour your batter into a cake tin and put it in the oven at 160 C for 50-60 minutes (keep checking back though, some ovens are stronger than others):

Chocolate cake oven baking

While your cake is busy baking in the oven, combine all of the ingredients for your chocolate mousse icing in a saucepan, over low heat. Once complete, put your mixture in the fridge to cool:

Making chocolate mousse icing

Once cool, beat the mousse mixture for 4 minutes, to turn it into a nice, moussey form. Put the mixture back in the fridge to ensure it becomes firm enough to spread on your cake. Make sure you check on it, this is where I went a bit wrong and my mixture went a bit too firm, so I had to leave it out for a little while to soften it up again.

Once your cake is finished baking, take it out and put it on a cake rack to cool down:

Chocolate cake post baking

Once cool, you can begin icing and decorating. Voila, the finished Chocolate Mousse Cake will look something like this (excuse the dirty plate):

Finished chocolate cake