My delicious homemade dairy free banana flapjack recipe

It's 5pm today and I fancy a snack...just a little something to nibble on. Now what can I have that won't ruin my waistline but that is sweet and yummy?  A little chocolate bar sounds rather tempting I think!  But I want to make it clean eating and really good for me...how about a flapjack instead?  

There has been lots of hype about how unhealthy flapjacks can be - full of oil, sugar and therefore calories.  Just because they contain oats and dried fruit doesn't necessarily make them the best health food option.  Some typical flapjacks found in almost any UK newsagents or supermarket have alarmingly high levels of calories and fat - more so than just a simple chocolate bar.
 

For example, Frusli "raisin and hazelnut chewy cereal bar" contains 120 calories, 3.7g fat; Jordan's Crunchy Bar "honey and almond" holds 134 calories, 5.0g fat and the Tracker Bar "Chocolate Chip Cereal Bar" is 126 calories, 6.2g fat!!  Can you believe that?! No wonder they are so sweet and delicious...they are full of sugar and fat!! ;)


But my own recipe is nicer and healthier!
One of the reasons these bars are so calorific compared to your average chocolate bar is because flapjacks often come in 100g bars, and other chocolate bars are smaller at 60g.  So, anyway, can you guess where this story's leading?! Haha! Yes - I've invented my own delicious, low calorie and low fat alternative to these fatty flapjacks.



Basically there are two secret ingredients - the main ingredient is using ripe or overripe bananas.  These are great to mush up with a fork and form as the basis of the flapjack.  The other secret (or magical than rather than secret) ingredient is almonds and almond milk.  I use a lighter, unsweetened almond milk option to cut down on the calories.

Almonds are full of monounsaturated fat - one of the healthiest fats, and their composition is 25% protein, containing plenty of vitamin E and no cholesterol. This means they are a great health food, not forgetting how deliciously moreish they are.  They also have a low glycaemic index value, (this means their energy boost they give lasts longer).

So here is my flapjack recipe video recipe:


Ingredients
2 bananas (as ripe as you can possibly get them), 2 cups (170g) of porridge oats (or normal oats), 2 tbsps dessicated coconut, 2 tbsps chopped almonds, 1 cup (240 ml) of unsweetened  almond milk, 3 tablespoons of honey, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds, 2-3 tablespoons of dried fruit chopped up (including raisins, dried apricot, dates, dried cranberries, prunes etc).

Method
Preheat your oven to 150 degrees centigrade.
In a recipient, add the 2 tablespoons of dried chopped up fruit.  Mash up the two bananas on a chopping board.  Add them to the dried fruit.  Add the dessicated coconut, honey, oats, chopped up almonds, almond milk, cinnamon, vanilla extract, sesame seeds.  Whisk up the mixture:-


Place some grease proof paper onto a medium sized baking tray.  Spread the mixture around the baking tray, making sure it is smooth and reaches the edges in order to obtain a square form, and place in the oven:-


Leave for around 55 minutes or until golden brown and toasted.  Take out of the oven.  Mark out with a sharp knife the form and size of the individual flapjacks.  This will make it easier to cut them later:-


Leave them to wait until they have cooled down. Slice and serve!  


They are so delicious and great for your health! They are also really handy to pop in a tupperware box, or wrap in tin foil, and keep them in the fridge.  You can take them to work, pop them in the kids' lunchbox, or take them on a picnic. Or, in my case, just snack on them whenever!!

So I hope you've enjoyed learning about this healthy yet delicious clean eating snack idea.  Let me know what you think, and feel free to subscribe to my youtube channel here and also please visit my Instagram page, my facebook page, my pinterest page and my twitter account.

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How to Make Vegan Iced Coffee and its Health Benefits

Coffee, after water, is my favourite drink. It's unique and delightful taste is so calming I find.  In the summer months, after sparkling water, I believe iced coffee is one of the most refreshing and cooling beverages around. And it is so simple to make - much simpler than lemonade (!)


Iced coffee is supposed to be a healthier option than hot coffee.  This is because it is less acidic than the hotter version.  Our bodies require a balance of acidity and alkalinity to work properly and to heal. Our bodies thrive with more alkalinity than acidity, and what we consume determines our pH levels. So keeping a check on the quantities of acidity we consume is a great healthy lifestyle choice. 

Coffee contains plenty of nutrients including antioxidants and phytochemicals. With caffeine, these elements can help us feel more awake and increase our energy levels.  Caffeine is a stimulant, which improves certain aspects of cognitive function, including energy levels, alertness, mood, our menories and our reflex reactions.
Another reason to drink iced coffee is because its caffeine is also used in weight loss supplements for its fat burning quality. The caffeine found in coffee can increase our metabolic rate by up to 10%. And yet with all these great health benefits, it is so, so simple to make!
Here is a very short (1 minute and 17 second) video showing how it's done:-
Ingredients
Any type of instant coffee, the sweetener or sugar you ususally use for your coffee, quarter of a cup of cold water, ice cubes, cold almond or coconut milk (or any milk) and a cinnamon stick if you so desire.
Method
Add a teasppon of instant coffee to a large glass (or the amount you would usually use), add your usual sweetener, add a quarter of a cup of cold water.  Using a mixer, or just a folk, stir the coffee into the water until it is disintegrated.  Add plenty of ice, then add the almond milk (or whatever milk you prefer) to the top.  If you like cinnamon, add a cinnamon stick.
I hope you've enjoyed this small article on vegan iced coffee.  I also do a fantastic vegan chocolate milk recipe here.  Feel free to subscribe to my youtube channel here and also please visit my Instagram page, my facebook page, my pinterest page and my twitter account.

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How to Make the Perfect Grilled Cheese on the Barbecue Grill By Richard Wachtel

Hello everyone!

Today I have a guest writer on my blog talking all about grilling cheese on the barbecue.  This is not clean eating and is certainly not a healthy option, but considering I do so many barbecue recipes, I thought some of you may like this. This article has got loads of great barbecuing advice.  Also, don't forget to have SOME time off from clean eating (like about 20% of your time), and ENJOY food!! ;)


Variations of the grilled cheese have existed for centuries. But it wasn’t until the 1920s – when inexpensive processed bread and cheese became available – that the sandwich gained popularity in America. Today we consider the cheesy novelty an American classic.

A perfect grilled cheese sandwich – with a slightly crunchy, toasted outside and ooey-gooey inside – is a great companion to a bowl of tomato soup during the winter. But the storied sandwich isn’t limited to cold weather. Why not whip up a grilled cheese on the grill?

With “grill” right in the sandwich’s name, you’d think this cooking technique would be foolproof. But making a grilled cheese on the grill can be tricky at first. Without a few key guidelines, you may have a charred, burned sandwich instead.


Ready to move your grilled cheese making to the great outdoors? We’ve compiled a list of grilling tips specifically for grilled cheese plus some innovative variations to take your sandwich to the next level. 

Tips to Make the Perfect Grilled Cheese

There are three crucial tips for to make the perfect grilled cheese on your outdoor grill: diverse heating zones, the right ingredients, and shredded and spreaded cheese.

Diverse Heating Zones

For charcoal grills:
Set up your charcoal or gas grill for different cook zones. You should have three zones, each with a different amount of heat. One zone should be low heat, another zone should be medium heat, and the last zone should be high heat. The three-zone setup allows you to move the grilled cheese to appropriate heat levels at different stages of the cooking process. To achieve the zones follow these instructions:

·         Low Heat: There should be no charcoal. This zone is the furthest away from the high-heat zone.
·         Medium Heat: There should be no charcoal. This zone is between the low-heat and high-heat zones.
·         High Heat: This zone houses all of the charcoal. Coals should be ash white when you transfer them from the charcoal chimney to the grill.

For Gas Grills:

·         Low Heat: Use the rack as your low-heat warming space.
·         Medium Heat: Set one burner to medium-low heat.
·         High Heat: Set one burner to medium heat.


The Right Ingredients

No matter what grilled cheese recipe you make, use the following ingredients:

·         Thick bread:
Thickly sliced bread is essential for a grilled sandwich. Normal, pre-sliced sandwich bread may crumble on the grill grates. Since the bread is thicker than the slices used for a conventional grilled cheese, remember it will take longer for the cheese to melt. That’s why it’s important to utilize three grilling zones.

·         Plenty of oil or butter:
This is essential to keep the bread from sticking to the grill grates. Plus, fat helps the grilled cheese to stay moist. Though a quick spray of cooking oil will suffice for a stovetop grilled cheese, it won’t be enough on the grill. Use approximately ¼ tablespoon per slice of bread.

Shredded and Spreaded Cheese

The best way to achieve the perfect bite of cheese and bread every time is to make sure the cheese extends all the way to the corners of the sandwich. Shred the cheese and evenly coat the bottom of each slice of bread. 





The Perfect Grilled Cheese on the Grill

What you need:
Grill
Fuel charcoal or propane
Tongs
Metal spatula
Sauce brush
Panini press (optional)

Ingredients:
2 thick slices of bread
1 small block of cheese
Butter
Olive oil
Sauce brush
Panini press (optional)

Directions:

1)     Prepare your grill: Fill the charcoal chimney half way. Leave it until all of the coals are ash white.

Pro tip: Do not use lighter fluid. Crumple up newspaper into a ball and place in the charcoal chimney. You can find charcoal chimneys in the grill section of the hardware store.

2)     Once the coals have turned ash white, dump all the coals on one side of the grill and close your grill lid.

Pro tip: Make sure that you have some additional charcoal just in case you need more. 

3)     Once the internal temperature reaches 250 degrees, brush your grates with olive oil to prevent sticking.

Pro tip: Make sure your grill dome thermometer is accurate: Place a thermometer probe as close to the food as possible and about 1 inch above the grill surface. Some probes may have a clip to grasp to a grate rod. Other probes can be clamped in place with metal office clips or clips from the local hardware store.  I
f the thermometer is off, place an additional thermometer right on the grill grates for an accurate read.

4)     While the grill heats up, grate the cheese. About 1 cup of shredded cheese should be perfect for one sandwich. Brush the bread with melted butter or olive oil.

5)     Place the bread in the medium zone of your grill for approximately 2 to 3 minutes or until the bread is lightly toasted.

6)     Evenly distribute the shredded cheese on top of one slice of bread. Add the second slice of bread on top of the cheese.  Place the sandwich on the grill over the medium to high heat section for approximately 2 to 3 minutes or until the cheese starts to bubble inside the sandwich.

7)     With a metal spatula, move the sandwich to the low heat zone for an additional 3 minutes.

8)     Remove the grilled cheese from the low heat zone using a metal spatula. Cut the bread diagonally with a sharp knife and serve hot.

Grilled Cheese Combos

While a few squares of American cheese and a couple slices of white bread can constitute a grilled cheese, there are endless combinations you can try. With different types of oils, bread, proteins, fruits, and vegetables you can make a grilled cheese to suit your food personality. Here are some out-of-the-box ideas to spice up your next grilled cheese sandwich.



The grilled cheese sandwich is simple and straightforward. Consider taking your sandwich out to the grill for a new take on the classic lunch staple. And instead of a typical cookout, host a grilled cheese party. Have a variety of cheeses, spreads, fillings, and breads, and allow guests to choose which ingredients they would like on their grilled cheese. Remember to use three heating zones, thick bread, and plenty of butter or oil for the perfect sandwich. Enjoy!

Original article is found here:  http://www.fix.com/blog/grilled-cheese-on-the-bbq/

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How to Make Lemonade and the Health Benefits of Lemons

Lemons are quite a curious fruit; they're not really a fruit you can pick off the tree and bite into; they're too bitter and unpleasant.  They are intriguing because they are sort of demoted as a fruit to one only used for juicing, for dressing salads and in marmalade and jams. 
I'm blessed enough to have my own lemon tree in my garden.  It produces HUGE juicy lemons.  The skins are very thick, but they still hold a great flavour, and oddly they produce no pips.  Anyway, I needed to find a way to start consuming all these free lemons I suddenly found myself with!  As it is a lovely hot summer here in Portugal, I thought I would find a low calorie lemonade recipe to try out, and naturally I'm happy to share it with you ;)
Me and my lemon tree with organic homemade lemonade
Fresh organic lemonade/lemon juice is well known as a treatment for kidney stones, and in line with this, it is considered a blood purifier and stomach cleanser, as well as an immune system booster.  Lemons help flush the toxins from our body, enhancing enzyme function, which stimulates our liver.
Of course, we all know lemons as being the flavour of sore throat sweets and lemsip for when you have a cold or the flu.  This is because it is a great treater of sore throats and fevers because they increase perspiration, breaking a fever. And of course, due to lemons' antibacterial properties, they are great to fight mouth and throat infections.  Of course, they are also a natural antiseptic.

Lemons are rich in potassium; a very important mineral for general all-round health, and essential for proper heart function.  With such a refreshing and tasty flavour, lemons keep us cool and hydrated in the summer - because they also help lower body temperature and lower high blood pressure.


All of these great attributes of lemons are down to its richness in vitamins such as vitamin C, A, E, B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, copper, calcium, iron and magnesium, so to help you get some more of those delicious lemons into your diet, here is a video of my fresh organic homemade lemonade recipe:-

Ingredients
8 organic lemons, 6 cups of mineral or filtered water, 2 cups of sweetener plus a handful of ice.
Method to the madness:
Pick the lemons (or buy them!!)  Wash them thoroughly, then extract the zest/peel of two or three lemons using a grater.  Set aside. In a saucepan, add two cups of water and 1.5 to 2 cups of sweetener (splenda or stevia, or maple syrup or honey). Add the zest.  Heat up slowly for 5 minutes and turn off. With a strainer, add this mixture to a large recipient. Extract the lemon juice of the 8 lemons.  Mix both mixtures together in the large recipient you chose.  Add 4 cups of cold filtered water to the mixture. Add ice and serve.
Don't forget to fill up your popsicle moulds for delicious lemon lolly pops!  Feel free to subscribe to my youtube channel here and also please visit my Instagram page, my facebook page, my pinterest page and my twitter account.

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The Health Benefits of Aloe Vera plus How to Extract and Use it

Aloe vera is an incredible plant full of medicinal benefits. I love to extract the gel from inside of the leaves and use it on my skin, or store it as ice to add to a smoothie or juice. Although, I must admit, I don't consume it everyday.  It is a fantastic health busting superfood, but consuming a small quantity each week is enough, so you don't have to overdo it.  


It is succulent and is bursting with minerals including iron, manganese, potassium, copper, magnesium, zinc, calcium, chromium, selenium and sodium. It also contains plenty of vitamins, including A, C, E, choline, folic acid, vitamins B1, B2, B6, niacin and vitamin B12.  
I live in Portugal, and as it is a wild cactus plant, it just grows everywhere here.  On the roadsides you always see it, especially where people have cut its branches to gain its benefits, mainly for treating sunburn. In fact, it is so commonplace that they barely even sell it at garden centres and in plant shops.  You just help yourself!


Wild Aloe Growing in Portugal
I had a little personalised adventure just recently with the aloe vera plant - my husband burnt himself on the barbecue and I had to spring into action and apply its inner gel to his burn.  But guess what? In true vlogger style, I whipped out my phone so I could share with you guys how to apply it.  See...I always think of my readers ;)


Health Benefits of Aloe Vera

1. Aloe is a fabulous all-round skin cleanser
This is where my own personal experience comes into it; aloe has fantastic healing properties, meaning it is a top notch remedy to lay onto the skin topically.  It can be used for burns, wounds, bites and cuts.  It's an analgesic too, meaning it relieves pain from skin burns and wounds.

Take a look at my video here which demonstrates how to apply aloe vera to a first degree skin burn:-

I basically just slice the aloe vera leaf into two with a sharp knife.  With a spoon, I extract the gel inside and collect it into a small bowl.  It then apply it to the burn and wrap a bandage around to keep it in place.  The excess aloe I freeze into an ice cube mould and either add it to a juice or smoothie, or I just use it for the wound or burn again if needed.  
The gel has such a soothing effect because it really moisturises, hydrates and refreshes the skin.  It is also anti-putritic; meaning that it relieves itching, as well as it giving a light, natural collagen injection into the skin, improving the skin's elasticity and rejuvenating the skin.  It increases the oxygen supply to the skin cells, vastly improving blood flow.

2. Aloe disinfects, killing germs, bacteria, viruses and fungi
Aloe vera's active ingredients include salicylic acid, sulphur, phenol and urea nitrogen which all prevent the cultivation of bad microorganisms in our body which encourage diseases. These agents work to eliminate infections and harmful bacteria in the body.  They also treat fungal and viral infections.
Aloe Vera in Ice Cube Format
3. Aloe vera is an anti-inflammatory
Aloe vera contains an element called B-sisterole, which can slow down and inhibit inflammation.  This means where I have premature osteoarthritis in my hips, I can use just a small weekly dosage to ease my painful hip joints, improving flexibility and stiffness.

4. Aloe Vera aids digestion
Aloe vera is basically an internal cleanser which cleans and soothes our digestive tract, improving the flow of digestion.  It can also relieve constipation (although be careful not to have too much as it could have a mild laxative effect). It is also a natural remedy of treating irritable bowel syndrome.
This is me extracting the aloe gel
5. Aloe is a detoxifier
Following on from the last point made, when aloe vera enters our digestive system, it cleanses and detoxifies waste and harmful bacteria, eliminating toxins.  Great for a detox then, using aloe Vera juice or smoothie along with a fast!

6. Aloe vera boosts the immune system.
The polysaccharides in the aloe vera gel stimulate our macrophages, (they are the white blood cells of our immune system that fight infections). Aloe is also full of anti-oxidants, which fight against free-radicals, which contribute to the ageing process.

So, as you can see, there are some really fantastic health benefits to aloe vera; using it topically, and also in your diet.  However, it can have a strong bitter taste, which is why I only add a small ice cube sized portion into my smoothies, with a strong flavoured fruit to hide its taste.  Also, do not overdo the aloe vera usage; it can have a laxative effect!! 


But one great aspect of the aloe vera plant is the fact that it is just so flexible; it can grow anywhere in the world indoors, but of course only outdoors in hot climates.  So go on!  Give it a try!  If you regularly use aloe vera in your skin regime, your diet or as a healer to treat burns and wounds, let me know about your experience.  
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Homemade Vegan Nutella Recipe - Naturally Gluten Free

I absolutely adore this fantastic Nutella recipe.  The idea was given to me by two of my Australian friends - Haylee Dennis and Natalie Kate.  They are both (esp Haylee!) absolutely nuts about Nutella (sorry for the poor pun) and they indicated this great recipe to me.  This is a fully vegan recipe and is only 35 calories per tablespoon.  Bonus!


I was dubious at first, because I could not imagine how I would manage a smooth consistency, and also I couldn't imagine how all the ingredients would just magically turn into a paste in my food processor, but they certainly did!

Hazelnuts are unusually high in folate, which is a fantastic B complex vitamin which is great for the bloodstream and brain, and is important for expectant mothers to stock up on, because it prevents neural tube defects in unborn babies.

Of course, like almonds, hazelnuts are gluten free, so for celiacs and people with wheat allegies, this recipe stands tall.  Of course I wanted to keep this recipe dairy free too, so as to make it available for my vegan friends, hence the almond milk instead of regular milk.

Here is the video I made of the recipe:-




Ingredients
One cup of skinless hazelnuts (equivalent to just over 100g), half a cup of cacao or cocoa powder, half a cup of almond milk, one quarter cup of sweetener or maple syrup, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.


Method
Firstly bake the hazelnuts for 10 minutes in an oven at 180 degrees. This gives them a lovely roasted flavour.  Place them in a food processor.  Add all the other ingredients, and process until the mixture is completely smooth. This could take up to 10 minutes, depending on your food processor.

However, I decided to leave my ingredients in the processor for less time so as to have a bumpier, nuttier and crunchier texture, just to try it out.  I actually prefer the recipe this way and I am BIG on food textures at the moment.  It is just so delicious to have to crunch down on this chocolate spread, but that is just my own opinion.

Please let me know your opinion on this healthy vegan recipe idea.  Feel free to subscribe to my youtube channel here and also please visit my Instagram page, my facebook page, my pinterest page and my twitter account.


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