Peanut butter, fruit & nut balls

I confess – I’m not the most organised person in the world, but when it comes to meals I plan them down to the last mouthful. Sunday evening consists of planning the following weeks meals, factoring in training sessions and of course starting that all important meal prep.

Main meals are usually the easiest to plan and with Sunday night meal prep, lunches are easy as well. I find that snacks are my downfall though. Once the afternoon slump hits I’m ready for a boost and I’ve been looking for a way to switch up my snack options.

This is when I decided to get creative. For those who don’t know me, I love peanut butter – on apples, in cookies and more often than not I am guilty of eating it straight out of the tub.
Instead of grabbing a couple of spoonfuls pre-gym, I thought why not incorporate my love of it in with my afternoon snack to give myself a healthy protein hit to keep me going all afternoon.
With that in mind, I created these peanut butter fruit and nut balls.

You will need:
– 1 cup sugar free coconut shavings
– 1 cup flaked almonds
– 2/3 cup sultanas
– ½ cup chopped dried apricots (or any other dried fruit you fancy, I just happened to have apricots)
-Sprinkling of cinnamon
-couple of heaped tablespoons of smooth peanut butter (organic preferably, I love Meridian smooth!) – You can also use chunky if you want a different texture although I found that smooth enables it to set better.

What to do:

-Combine the coconut, almonds, sultanas and apricots into a bowl and blend with a hand blender – this isn’t the easiest of tasks but it doesn’t take long and it helps the mixture to combine.
– Add the cinnamon and then start to add in the peanut butter a spoonful at a time. Add enough so that the mixture is sticking together but not too much that there is more peanut butter than mixture!
– Tip the mixture on to some Clingfilm and flatten out before putting in the freezer for about 20 minutes.
– Once set,  mould the mixture in to balls, sprinkle with an extra bit of coconut if desired and keep in the fridge.

And there you have it – a healthy, high protein and tasty snack for the rest of the week! Now there’s no excuse for me to eat peanut butter straight from the tub – well, at least for the next week anyway.

Peanut butter, fruit and nut balls - my latest creation!

Peanut butter, fruit and nut balls – my latest creation!

Healthy peanut butter cookies

Yes, you did read that title correctly – these flourless peanut butter and choc chip cookies really are a guilt free treat.

These cookies are soft, gooey and packed full of energy – not to mention so tasty they may well become your new go-to treat.

I am a massive peanut butter addict and I’ve wanted to try cooking some guilt free treats with smooth peanut butter for ages and this seemed like the perfect recipe.

Not only that, but these cookies are gluten free as well.

You will need:
-8oz smooth organic peanut butter (preferably organic)
-3oz of organic natural honey (you can add more or less depending on how much of a sweet tooth you have)
-1 egg (flax egg if you like)
-1/2tsp baking powder
-pinch salt
-dairy free choc chips


To make:
These really are so easy to make which is yet another reason to love them.
-Mix the peanut butter, honey, baking powder and egg in a bowl.
-Stir in the choc chips then put cookie sized dollops on to a baking tray lined with grease proof paper.

Place in the oven at gas mark 4 for about 12 mins/until the cookies start to turn brown.

The cookies may still look gooey but as soon as they start to brown take them out and leave them to cool. They will firm up but still retain that amazing soft gooey texture inside.


Experimenting with vegan

Since Beyoncé published pictures of her and her hubby Jay Z’s 22 day vegan challenge just before Christmas veganism has seen a rise in popularity. 

Apparently she enjoyed it so much that she has started it again. It would appear she isn’t alone either, with more and more people wanting to try either going vegan or vegetarian for a couple of days a week.

Campaigns such as Meat Free Monday have taken off after research showed that having a vegetarian diet at least one day a week comes with health benefits.

Eager to feel these health benefits after a pretty extravagant weekend in London (which put significant stress on my back balance as well!) I decided to try out some vegan recipes.

I could never be vegetarian – I love meat too much – so for me it wasn’t an ethical change, it was purely to see if the health benefits the expert’s claim you feel are true.

It was a lot easier to avoid meat than I thought, especially at tea time. Dinner time was when I struggled though as I usually have salads so at first it was quite tricky to give up my favourite salmon salads and Nando’s chicken. But I stocked up on tofu and made a really tasty broad bean, bean sprout, cucumber and spring onion salad which was very tasty.

After a week I did start to feel the benefits which I was surprised at. I felt full of energy and generally less sluggish on a morning which was great and I found that I hadn’t really missed red meat all that much. Plus, I saved money from not buying chicken as well which was an added bonus.

Here are two examples of vegan dishes I made for tea:

The first is Mediterranean veg and bean mash.
I used:
– aubergine
– courgette
– pepper
– mushrooms
– artichoke
– haricot beans
– vegetable stock
– garlic

Whilst the vegetables are roasting, boil a tin of haricot beans in some vegetable stock with the garlic and simmer for about 10 minutes. When it starts to thicken, take the beans off the heat and mash until you’ve got a consistency you like and voila – a simple, really tasty and surprisingly filling tea.

Vegan Mediterranean veg and bean mash

Vegan Mediterranean veg and bean mash

The second was my favourite of the week – apricot and orange baked quinoa with roasted vegetables.

See above for the roasted veggies recipe, but you can add whatever you want to roast and whatever flavouring you fancy.
I’m a big fan of quinoa (or keen-wa as my flatmate recently told me it was pronounced) but I had never baked it before.
Add the quinoa to a casserole dish with the juice of one orange, fresh apricots and vegetable stock. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes, stirring once in between.

Baked quinoa with apricot and roasted veg

Baked quinoa with apricot and roasted veg

And there you have it – two really simple, tasty and healthy meals made in less than 30 minutes.
I liked the results and the new tasty dishes I had tried so much that I’m trying out more this week. I’ll post my new recipes as the week goes on.

If you’ve got any vegan/vegetarian recipes you think I should try let me know.

Feeling perky!

I was nicknamed perky pony during university so you can imagine my excitement when I discovered there was a whole range of healthy breakfasts and treats with the name PERK!ER.
The bright packaging is what first caught my eye followed quickly by the fact that they are gluten free, full of goodness and offer tasty snack options as well.
The healthy snack option sold it to me, plus the fact that I am a porridge fiend in the mornings and the porridge range looked really tasty.
I’m not gluten free but my sister is supposed to be for health reasons, so I know she would appreciate that side of PERK!ER products.
I went for the fruit berry porridge pot and the apple, cinnamon and raisin pot, but PERK!ER offer plenty of other breakfast options including PERK!ER fruity flakes and more interesting flavours of porridge such as gingerbread and raisin.
The pots were so quick to make – simply boil the kettle, fill up the pot with boiling water to the marker point, pop the lid back on and wait two minutes for the perfect porridge.

PERK!ER porridge pots are really easy to make.

PERK!ER porridge pots are really easy to make.

I tried the berry one this morning and it was filling and full of flavour but not over powered with artificial sweeteners as many porridges with flavourings are – this is all natural.
The pots  are also ideal for a post gym breakfast sat at my desk at work. Rather than having to carry a sachet around and find a bowl at work, all you need is a kettle and you’re good to go. That will definitely help with my morning motivation to get to the gym- I can’t wait to try the rest of the flavours now.
As well as breakfast though, they offer a range of “gloriously gluten free, fabulous and delicious treats” including Tiffin, rocky road and multi-grain bread.
The best thing as well – they can be easily found at Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s as well as to buy online. The products are also wheat free and do not use artificial colours, flavours or hydrogenated fats.
Follow PERK!ER on Twitter @perkierfoods

I can't wait to try the apple, cinnamon & raisin PERK!ER porridge pot.

I can’t wait to try the apple, cinnamon & raisin PERK!ER porridge pot.

Homemade hummus

You’ll never need to buy hummus again with this recipe. It’s so easy and so quick to make and just as tasty.

What you will need:
– one 200g can of chickpeas in water (drained) – keep a couple back for decoration
– 2 tbsp lemon juice
– 1 garlic clove
-1 tsp cumin
-100ml tahini (optional)
-4tbsp water
-2tbsp olive oil (or sesame oil if you don’t have tahini)
-1 tsp paprika

How to make it:

-Put the chickpeas, lemon juice, cumin, tahini (if you have it), garlic and water in to a food processor and blend until smooth – or if you’re a fan of chunky hummus just blend until your desired texture.
-Smooth out with a back of a spoon and drizzle with oil and finish by decorating with the remaining chickpeas and a sprinkle of paprika.



Spicy black bean soup

I’ve been waiting all week to try  this spicy black bean soup I found on the meat free Monday website.

It didn’t disappoint that’s for sure.


I did slightly adapt the recipe on the website though, substituting some ingredients which I didn’t have for others.

Here is what I used for my slightly adapted version of the recipe:
– dash of olive oil
– 1 red onion, chopped
– 2 cloves garlic, chopped
– 1 tablespoon cumin
– 1 teaspoon oregano
– black pepper to season
– 1 tin chopped toms
– 300g black beans
– 2 veg stock cubes
– 1 green chilli, finely chopped

What I did:
– Start by heating the oil and adding the onions, garlic and cumin until soft.
– Once softened add the rest of the ingredients and simmer gradually for 30mins.
– Depending on whether you like a smooth or chunky soup, use a hand blender to finish off the soup and voila, it’s done!

I topped mine with some rocket but the recipe on the website has loads of tasty suggestions.

The only down side was that the beans needed to be soaked in water for eight to 12 hours before you could cook them – but in my opinion it was definitely worth it.

Happy meat free Monday! If you have any vegetarian recipes you think I should try comment below and I’ll give them a go.



My new favourite dish: Teriyaki salmon

It’s official, teriyaki salmon is my new favourite dish.

I love salmon and probably eat it twice a week but usually it’s just marinated in sweet chilli sauce so I decided to try something new and different to make this evenings dinner that little bit more exciting.

Both salty and sweet, it really was delicious and I was also very surprised at how quick and easy it was to make such a tasty meal.

I will definitely be adding this one to my meal plans.

Here’s the recipe I followed:

You will need:

-Salmon fillet
-1 small piece of fresh ginger, sliced
– 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
– 3tbsp soy sauce
– 2tbsp maple syrup
-salt and pepper to season
-Slash of olive oil
– Dash of rice wine


How to do it:

-Add the garlic, ginger, syrup olive oil, rice wine and soy sauce in to a bowl and mix. Season the salmon fillet and then cover it with the marinade.

-Leave the salmon to marinade for at least thirty minutes to allow it to soak up all of those strong flavours. Leaving it for a couple of hours is better but if you don’t have that much time, half an hour is fine.

-Heat a frying pan and add a dash of oil before placing the salmon, skin side down, in to the pan. Fry on each side for about three to four minutes until the salmon is thoroughly cooked. Keep adding more sauce to the pan if it looks as though it is drying out.

-When cooked use the rest of the teriyaki sauce left in the pan as a dressing.


I served mine with parsnip chips and stir-fry vegetables. I think it would work really well with savoury brown rice as well.



Meat free Monday

Every Monday morning when I get in to work my Twitter feed is scattered with #meatfreeMonday Tweets.
Intrigued, I decided to check it out.

As a devoted meat eater I personally think I would struggle to be vegetarian but this initiative, of going meat free for one day a week, seemed like it could be doable and with added health benefits I decided to give it a go.

Not only that, but the campaign is dedicated to helping the planet by reducing carbon emissions of meat production.

I’ve often heard that too much red meat is bad for you yet too little can leave your iron stores depleted meaning you are left feeling tired with little energy. It’s a tough balancing act but according to Oxford University’s department of public health eating meat a maximum of three times a week could prevent an astounding 31,000 people dying from heart disease.

Added incentives to join Meat Free Monday include the cost. By skipping your daily meat one day a week you could save some pennies as meat free alternatives are noticeably cheaper – an ideal time to save money with the festive season ahead.
And of course there are the animals to consider as well.

With all that in mind, I checked out the McCartney’s website and my meat free Monday began.

My meals today were far from inventive but were more quick and easy due to being back at work after a week off and a training session to cram in – but I’m looking forward to trying out some new and exciting recipes, many of which can be found on the website, next week.

So today, I had:
Breakfast: Porridge with blueberries
Morning snack: banana and raisins
Lunch: Cottage cheese salad
Afternoon snack: carrot sticks and rice pudding
Dinner: Spinach, mushroom and tomato omelette with vegetables

The recipe I’m going to be trying next week is Deep Dark Black Bean Soup. Check it out here and I’ll post how I got on with making it next week.

Have you tried meat free Monday? Have you felt any health/bank balance benefits? Comment below and let me know 🙂

Turkey and apricot burgers

If you’re caving a burger but looking for a healthier alternative then this tasty creation is perfect.  

Lean turkey mince is lower in saturated fat than beef mince but still makes a proper burger and teamed with these ingredients it’s packed full of flavour.

You will need:

–          500g lean turkey mince

–          2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

–          1 red onion, finely chopped

–          1 pepper, finely chopped

–          Ginger

–          Coriander

–          250g pack of soft apricots, finely chopped

–          Black pepper to season

–          Oil for brushing

Ingredients for turkey and apricot burgers

Ingredients for turkey and apricot burgers

To make:

–          These burgers could not be easier to make – you basically put all of the ingredients, except for the oil, in to a big bowl before mixing together.

–          It’s easiest to mix it all together with your hands to really make sure it’s combined.

–          Make six burgers before brushing with oil and putting under the grill.

–          Cook for 6-8 minutes on each side until they are thoroughly cooked and the meat is no longer pink.

Ready to go under the grill

Ready to go under the grill

They really are that simple. I served mine with roasted vegetables but they would be great served in a toasted wholemeal pitta with salad for lunch as well.


Tastier then they look - I promise!

Tastier then they look – I promise!

Sweet potato and chorizo soup

Sweet potato and chorizo are two of my favourite things so I was excited to try out a recipe with the two combined.

If you’re looking for a quick, nutritious tea then this dish is perfect. I know chorizo is not the healthiest of meats to add to a soup but it gives the dish an abudance of flavour and also makes it a perfect treat meal without being too guilty.

Here’s the recipe for sweet potato and chorizo soup which I made earlier this week and it was truly delicious and very simple to make.

What you need:
– Vegetable oil
– 2 large sweet potato
– four garlic cloves
– seasoning
– 1 large red onion
– 500g uncooked chorizo
– 750ml chicken stock

What to do:

– Start by chopping the sweet potato and red onion in to large chunks.
– In a pre-heated oven of about 200C put the potato, onion and unpeeled garlic cloves in to a roasting tin, sprinkle the oil over and roast for about 25 minutes until soft.
– Whilst the veg is cooking, cut the chorizo in to chunks and fry off, keeping the juices in the pan to add to the soup later.
– When the veg is cooked, peel the garlic and add it all to a pan.
– Add the chicken stock and bring to the boil before simmering for a couple of minutes.
– Blend (depending on how chunky or smooth you like your soup.
– Add the chorizo and the juices and simmer for a further five minutes.
– Season with pepper and you’re good to go.
Enjoy 🙂