Chocolate cornflake cakes

An Easter classic, these can be made in no time at all and are great to made with kids! They’re also vegan and gluten free, if need be, so perfect little treats even for family dietary requirements! They can be made with most breakfast cereals, but work best with cornflakes, rice crispies or bran flakes. I use mesa sunrise, a gluten free cereal that I love. Top with mini eggs to make them super Easter-y.

Ingredients:

  • 50g coconut oil
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 1tbsp syrup (I use coconut nectar)
  • 1tbsp cacao powder
  • 100g cornflakes (or other cereal)

Method:

  • Place the cupcake moulds in a cupcake tray, or another dish if you don’t have one.
  • Put the coconut oil, broken up dark chocolate and syrup in a bowl. Heat in the microwave, stirring every 30s until it is all melted.
  • Once melted, pour in the cereal and mix until all the cereal is coated.
  • Spoon into the cupcake cases and pour over any remaining melted chocolate mixture when done, then top with whatever you’d like (I went for silver and chocolate balls).
  • Place in the fridge to set.

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Wheat – friend or foe?

This post is a guest blog by Nutritionist and Registered Dietitian Dr Megan Rossi. Follow her instagram here or visit her website

 

Confused by all the anti-wheat hype? Here’s the low down on the evidence behind whether or not wheat is for you. Grain-based foods, including wheat, are an important source of nutrients, such as B vitamins needed for cell metabolism and dietary fibre for gut health. In addition, any diet that unnecessarily restricts food groups can create nutritional imbalances. In fact, many foods advertised as wheat-free have added sugar and fats to compensate for the functional qualities of wheat.  What’s more, recent studies including over 300 000 people (without coeliac disease) have suggested those with low intakes of wholegrains compared to those with high intakes have an increased risk of type two diabetes1 and having a heart attack2.  So typically my answer to the common question “Is wheat bad?” is no! Whole-grain wheat (which is the minimally processed type of wheat) is healthy for the majority of people.

HOWEVER, there is a subset of the population who don’t tolerate wheat, which is typically related to one of three wheat components:
1) Gluten (type of protein in certain grains including wheat, rye and barley) main conditions: Coeliac disease– requires strict avoidance (effects 1% of the population3);  & Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS)- newly defined condition with mechanism poorly understood (effects 1-6% of the population4)
2) Wheat proteins (proteins in wheat, other than gluten) main conditions: Wheat allergy– requires strict avoidance (>0.2% prevalence in adults1); & Non-coeliac wheat sensitivity (NCWS)- suspected crossover with NCGS.4
3) Fructans (fermentable carbohydrates found in many foods not exclusive to wheat) condition: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) (15% prevalence5)- does not require strict avoidance of wheat nor is it known to carry any long-term health risk, although the associated gastrointestinal symptoms can be debilitating.
Non-coeliac gluten/ wheat sensitivity is a newly defined condition that recognises a wide spectrum of gastrointestinal and extra-intestinal symptoms including brain fog and fatigue. Given the co-existence of gluten and other wheat proteins in many foods identifying the culprit component ie. gluten vs. other wheat protein such as amylase-trypsin inhibitor (ATI) can be difficult which is why the terms NCGS and NCWS are often used interchangeably. The gold standard method to diagnose NCGS and NCWS is a placebo-controlled food challenge using isolated gluten and wheat protein.

If you suspect you react to wheat your first step should be to rule out coeliac disease and wheat allergy with your General Practitioner. It’s important you take this step so that you can determine how strict you need to be with your gluten/wheat exclusion, for instance, even traces of gluten from cross-contamination using a chopping board or toaster can have serious consequences for people with coeliac disease and wheat allergies. Once these have been ruled out the next step is to see a registered dietitian who can help identify whether you have NCGS/NCWS or instead are reacting to fructans (which may form part of a larger group of food exclusions known as FODMAPs). Unfortunately, there is no blood/breath/stool test that can accurately determine food intolerances, other than lactose intolerance (so please don’t waste your time or money!).

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Dr Megan Rossi is a Nutritionist and Registered Dietitian with a PhD in the area of Gut Health. Megan works as a Research Associate at King’s College London and Consultant Dietitian across industry, media and has just opened up a Gut Health clinic on Harley Street in London. To keep updated on the latest gut health news connect with Megan on social media @TheGutHealthDoctor
Web: www.drmeganrossi.com

References:

  1. Zong G, Lebwohl B, Hu F, et al. Abstract 11: Associations of Gluten Intake With Type 2 Diabetes Risk and Weight Gain in Three Large Prospective Cohort Studies of US Men and Women. Circulation. 2017;135:A11-A11.
  2. Lebwohl B, Cao Y, Zong G, et al. Long term gluten consumption in adults without celiac disease and risk of coronary heart disease: prospective cohort study. Bmj. 2017;357:j1892.
  3. British Allergy Foundation. 2016. allergyuk.org.
  4. Canavan et al. The epidemiology of irritable bowel syndrome. Clin Epidemiol 2014; 6:71-80.
  5. Giorgio et al. Sensitivity to wheat, gluten and FODMPAs in IBS: facts or fiction? Gut 2016; 65:169-178.

 

 

Healthy Banana Bread

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Banana bread is a superfood. Not in the instagram yoga-mum sense of the word, but in the way that everyone loves a good banana loaf (unless you dislike bananas) and it makes you feel amazing. I can promise you that I have made friends solely through the production and sharing of this banana bread. Its warmth and soft texture makes it perfect for autumn and winter, but this lighter version makes sure it’s not too stodgy and unhealthy. The wholemeal flour increases the fibre and nutrient content, and the date syrup (or alternative) ensures no refined sugars are used.

It’s not totally good for you as such, and doesn’t taste at all like it is (like all the best desserts), but it’s a huge improvement on the traditional recipe (which uses butter, white flour and sugar) and is so delicious it’s suitable for everyone! When I asked my friends, they said it didn’t taste like a healthy dessert, and didn’t have that weird texture too many sugar-free desserts have.

Macros: 244 calories, 13.7g fat, 26.5g carbs, 4.1g protein.

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For a marbled effect, add cocoa powder to half the mixture

This isn’t vegan or gluten free, but can be made both! See *notes at the bottom for ingredient substitutions.

Ingredients (serves 10):

  • 25g coconut oil
  • 100ml vegetable oil
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 150g light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs (or 1tbsp almond butter)
  • 2 large bananas (or three small ones)
  • 75ml milk of choice (I use soya)
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 200g flour of choice (I use 100g wholewheat and 100g self-raising)
  • Optional: nuts, dark chocolate

Method:

  • Pre-heat the over to 180 degrees Celsius and line a loaf tin with baking parchment
  • Heat up the coconut oil if it is solid
  • Add the coconut and vegetable oils with the vanilla essence to a bowl and mix until combined
  • Beat in the eggs and sugar
  • Mash the bananas and add to the mix
  • Add the milk, baking soda, cinnamon and salt to the bowl and mix everything together
  • Add the flour slowly and fold in to the liquid mixture using a large wooden spoon
  • Add any extras you want at this point and fold in
  • Pour into the loaf tin, and top with cinnamon, or, if you’re feeling decadent, with brown sugar (this creates a crunchy top)
  • Bake in the oven for 1h (insert a toothpick/knife into the centre after one hour – if the cake is done, it should come out clean)
  • Leave to cool in the tin until the tin is cool. Remove from the tin and leave to col completely on a wire rack before cutting.

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*Notes:

Oils: It is possible to use 125ml coconut oil here. However, my aim to is make this affordable for everyone, and coconut oil is not known for being super cheap 😉 But do feel free to switch up ingredients as you like! Just don’t use olive oil!

Bananas: Try to use ripe to over-ripe bananas. I always have a stash in my freezer that I freeze as soon as they become over-ripe. They are perfect for this recipe (and a million other things, such as my carrot cake smoothie bowl recipe).

Vegan? Use flax eggs or 1tbsp almond butter, and make sure to use dairy-free milk. My favourites are hazelnut milk and coconut milk.

Gluten free? This recipe works fine with all-purpose gluten free flour, although liquid levels may have to be increased. Play around and let me know what works for you!

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Let me know what you think in the comments below, or if you made any ingredients substitutions that you think work well! 🙂

Energy bites!

Energy bites are one of the simplest and most useful snacks to keep in your fridge or freezer. When frozen they keep for months and are perfect for a quick snack or energy boost on the go. There is an easy base to all energy bites, to which you can add different flavours and coverings depending on how you feel.

This recipe makes 25-30 balls

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Cacao-sesame energy bites

Base:

  • 200g prunes
  • 300g dates
  • 150g oats/oat flour
  • 2 scoops protein of choice (I use hemp)
  • 50g almond flour/ground almonds

Flavours:

Coconut and maca

  • + 1 tsp coconut oil
  • + 2 tsp maca
  • + 2 tbsp desiccated coconut, plus extra for covering

Choco-caramel

  • + 1 tbsp cacao/coco powder
  • + 2 tsp lucuma powder
  • + 1 tbsp cacao nibs, plus extra for covering

Matcha pistachio

  • + 2 tsp culinary grade matcha powder
  • + 1 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • + 1 tbsp chopped pistachios, plus extra for covering
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Matcha pistachio energy bites

Cacao-tahini

  • + 2 heaped tsp tahini
  • + 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • + 1 tbsp cacao/coco powder
  • + sesame seeds for covering
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Cacao – sesame energy bites

  • Blend all the base ingredients in a food processor (don’t try to use a blender unless you want everything to be smoked!).
  • Pour into a mixing bowl.
  • Add the extra ingredients to the bowl and mix using a strong spoon (this is a good arm workout).
  • On a chopping board, pour on the covering (e.g. pistachio/sesame seeds/desiccated coconut/cacao nibs).
  • With your fingers, tear off small walnut-sized chunks of the mix and roll it in the covering to make a ball (you may find this easiest with wet hands).

Ta da! Eat up and let me know what you think! 🙂