Monday, 19 January 2015

Have your cookie & eat it too!

So another year has passed already, I swear they whizz past quicker each year. Are you starting yours with good intentions? While resolutions can be a little cliché lets not forget about all the benefits of starting your 2015 with a fresh approach and a healthy attitude. When we all feel part of the same club or in the same boat there’s a much larger support network plus less fear of missing out. Lets be honest when you think all your friends are doing the same it makes it a lot easier to stay in with a bowl of healthy soup, than to opt for a night at the local pub followed by a late night Indian! Not only that but the papers, magazines and TV are inundating us with tips, advice, and relatable stories that can give us just the boost we need. Lastly after all the fun and excess of December our bodies really do need it, well mine certainly does anyway.

However in my opinion these things shouldn’t just be for January. There’s no point in signing up for unrealistic, punishing and lets face it unhealthy regimes or diets. These extreme diets just set us up for failure and following that failure can come nasty feelings of guilt. Frankly this isn't my idea of fun at all. The good news is the secret to long-term success is easy. Everything in moderation, it’s all about balance. Eat a varied, balanced diet and offset that bit of what you fancy with a bigger bit of what your body needs and you’ll be golden! We’re incredibly lucky to have such a wealth of recipes, ingredients and information to help us cook and eat more healthily. In fact healthy eating is more accessible than ever, so no more excuses ;-)!

Years ago healthy food was seen as strange and tasteless. Picture hippies in long skirts boiling up big vats of mung beans while waving around incense stick to mask the stench. TV shows with angry women who wanted to poke around our in our poo while the nation watched. No, not for me thanks! Luckily for us now it’s the complete opposite. You can eat healthy food all day long and be totally satisfied. We all have our guilty pleasures, vices and indulgent treats and so we should. For me it’s a glass of Prosecco and a bag of crisps once the working day is done, a really good Naples style pizza, and proper chips with loads of vinegar to name just a few. For this reason I could never follow a diet that cut out entire food groups or enforced eating at strange hours or on certain days only. Instead I find if I exercise a reasonable amount, take small steps to squeeze a little more activity into each day and eat a varied diet with lots of vegetables and lean protein then I can maintain a healthy weight. And still squeeze in a pizza or two week without busting out of my skinny jeans.

So my new years resolution is this: I’ll update my blog a little bit more this year and share with you some of my easy, healthy recipes that you can use in your everyday cooking too. I love cooking healthy meals and think that if more people tried these recipes, without a preconceived idea that they wont taste good or will still be hungry after they'd be converted too. For those that already do you will hopefully find some new ideas to try and adapt. Everything from soups for the freezer to easy weeknight dinners as well as more special meals for entertaining. Starting with these healthier oat & banana cookies. I used to make a similar cookie to this but each one had around 400kcals. When I went back to the drawing board I found with a few small tweaks I could reduce that by over half and they still tasted great. They’re full of goodness; oats, banana, dates, coconut, almonds and pistachios and can be eaten morning, noon or night. So looks like this year you can have your cake, well cookie and eat it too! Happy baking and Happy New Year!

Good Fortune Cookies
Makes 14
Around 179kcals, 10.5g fat & 5g protein per cookie.
Once cooked they will keep for a good 4-5 days in an airtight container, well that is if they last that long.

85g oats (use gluten free if you want to make these gluten free)
25g unsweetened desiccated coconut
25g whey protein (I got mine from Tesco)
75g ground almonds
50g raisins (optional)
40g nuts such as pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts, roughly chopped (whatever you have)
25g banana chips, roughly chopped (use extra nuts instead if you like)
4 tbsp coconut oil, melted
100g dates, stoned
65g really ripe (brown) banana
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp almond butter
1 tsp vanilla
¾ tsp bicarb

1 Heat the oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Line 2 large trays with non-stick parchment paper. In a large bowl combine the oats, coconut, whey protein, ground almonds, chopped nuts, banana chips and raisins (if using) then mix to combine. Boil a kettle and cover the dates in boiling water, leave for a few mins to soften.

2 Once soft transfer to a blender with 2 tbsp of the water, the vanilla, coconut oil, banana, maple syrup and blend until smooth. Tip into a small pan with the almond butter and heat gently. Boil the kettle again and put the bicarb in a small bowl. Pour in 2 tbsp of boiling water then quickly add to the pan. Take off the heat and stir, it should bubble up and go frothy, mix well. Stir into the oaty mix.

3 Use an ice cream scoop to form balls of cookie dough and divide between the lined baking sheets, with a little space to spread. Press down to form cookie shapes. Bake for 14-16 minutes, depending on how chewy you like the cookies. Cool on a wire rack. Perfect with a hot cup of tea or a glass of milk!

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