Banana Berry Smoothie

Forgive my ignorance here, but what’s the deal with all these absurdly calorific recipe videos flying around at the moment? They appear to have taken over my newsfeed and it sparks a reaction in me I can’t quite comprehend. I’m not sure if it’s anger or disbelief. With conditions such a diabetes and obesity at an all time high I’m not convinced this is in anyone’s interest. Above all, most of them actually look disgusting. Who wants to eat Pizzagne? That I assume needs no further explanation.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a bit of indulgence here and there, everything in moderation, but come on guys… let’s actually apply some common sense. Surely fueling your body with all that sugar and saturated fat isn’t a good thing. It’s gluttony in its purest form, is it not?

I’ve seen all sorts of ridiculously bazaar recipes floating about on social media being shared to high heaven. Has anyone ever attempted to make any of these gruesome looking dishes I wonder? Okay, I’ve seen some video recipes that look nice and dare I say healthy, but they are few and far between. I’ve seen meatballs stuffed with whole blocks of cheese, covered in sauce with added sugar and topped with more cheese. Fajita pasta, cooked in five cups of milk no less, and, you guessed it, smothered with cheese. To top things off, today I witnessed Pizzagne – made using three whole pizzas, and yes more cheese!

Peanut butter “protein” balls – pah, this one makes me laugh… butter, peanut butter, rice crispies and three cups of icing sugar. Oh and then, just because that’s not quite enough sugar and fat, they were then dipped in chocolate. Is it any wonder people have a problem keeping their weight down these days? What on earth happened to clean eating and treating your body to the raw, natural foods that it so desperately needs?

I’m cross with the idiocy of the creators of these gluttonous recipes… yes there is a time and a place for it, but i fear social media isn’t the place. Let’s get sharing some healthy recipes people!

I’ve been eating clean for the past couple of weeks and I’m feeling great for it. When I say clean, I mean cutting out all processed foods, fats and sugars. I’ve allowed myself some essential fats such as nuts and omega 3 rich salmon, but refined sugar is off the menu. For now at least.

I’ve been making smoothies for breakfast every morning. Now I appreciate that fruit has sugar in it, but it’s no comparison to refined sugars given that it’s packed with vitamins, antioxidants and is generally very high in fiber. I’m even sneaking in chia seeds and spinach for antioxidants, protein and more fiber. Don’t be put off by the spinach or the alarming look of a green smoothie, they can be surprising delicious. One of my Facebook friends commented “spinach and bananas, yuck!” – there was a time when I would have agreed that this sounds odd, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it Helen. ? I’ve found these smoothies very filling, so I’m less inclined to  snack before lunchtime.

I’ve lost 10lbs in 2 weeks and I’m feeling great. There seems to be a whole lot of truth in the fact that if you cut sugar from your diet the less you crave it. I’m actually realising that if I plan correctly, eat less carbs and sugar and have smoothies for breakfast I don’t need that packet of crisps or digestive biscuit at 11am. I can sail straight through to lunchtime without giving sugary snacks a thought. Honest!

I’ve also been drinking lots of water, which has inevitably meant more trips to the loo. But, that’s a small price to pay for the obvious benefits it has. My skin is looking great!

So next time you’re tempted to share that creamy, cheesy, indulgent recipe video. Stop. Hit up your Pinterest app and type in ‘clean eats’, ‘healthy snacks’ or ‘energy rich foods’ – you might surprise yourself at how “Tasty” some of these recipes look.

Here’s one of the delicious smoothies I’ve been having – banana, berries and spinach… yummy!

Berrynana Smoothie (1)


Egg in the Hole

You’ve heard of Toad in the Hole right? Well this is ‘Egg in the Hole’ same concept different ingredients! You know how sometimes you never hear about something and then one person mentions it and all of a sudden it’s everywhere? Well this happened to me with ‘Egg in the Hole’ recently. I’d been listening to Radio 2 and heard that they were having a lengthy debate about why it was called Egg in the Hole and how nice it was – then whilst browsing my Facebook news feed the other day my friend Ciaran had posted a video featuring something very similar. All this reminded me how much I love Egg in the Hole – perhaps it’s the novelty of it, or the fact that it rings out nostalgia and reminds me of my childhood.

If you’ve never had Egg in the Hole you’ve not lived. What could be better than bread fried in butter with an egg in the middle? Seriously, it’s SO good! The best bit for me is the little hole you cut out, because this is the really soft piece of the bread it soaks up all the fat in the pan and it tastes delicious! Not all together very healthy I admit, but it’s so tasty it makes a great little treat every now and again, and considering the last time I had it was probably 1996 or something like that I guess that’s okay!

Where it comes from is a mystery, but the American’s seem to be all over it. I’m going to make this with the kids at the weekend – they’ll love it!

Simply plonk a knob of butter into the pan and whack in your bread (with a cookie-cuttered hole in the middle), don’t forget to add the ‘hole’ that’s the best bit, fry it both sides for a minute or two then add your egg. For me it’s best served with a couple of sausages.



English Muffins with Hot Oak Smoked Salmon and Poached Egg

Breakfast is always a carnival in my house, at weekends anyway. There’s always plenty choice, from bacon and eggs, to tea and toast – we start the day the right way – with full bellies. From the moment I open my eyes in the morning I’m ready to eat and love creating a bustle in the kitchen at this time of day.

When Richard’s kids are here for the weekend they love soft boiled eggs with soldiers and bacon sandwiches. Max likes Rich to make him pizza toast, with basil – yes, he is quite particular about it. If there is no basil he doesn’t want it. I love that they enjoy their food so it’s no fuss to get different pots and pans out for everyone.

If we are not having breakfast in our kitchen we pop across the road to the local cafe – they serve up huge breakfasts, the kind you need with a fuzzy head. The liver and bacon breakfast is my fav with a huge mug of tea.

I found some hot oak smoked salmon lurking about in the fridge the other morning so I decided to have it for breakfast. This one couldn’t be simpler. Toast and butter an English muffin, top with the salmon and a poached egg, sprinkle with chopped parsley and tuck in.

It’s the simple things in life that make me happiest, sitting down at the kitchen counter on a sunny morning with a delicious treat for breakfast and a deadly silence in the house because everyone else is sleeping, utter bliss.

I’d love to hear your favourite breakfast recipes, am I missing out on the best breakfast?

Eggs Benedict (Hollandaise Sauce)

How do you like your eggs in the morning?

I call myself a foodie, yet it struck me that I’d never attempted to make hollandaise, which quite frankly is absurd. I remember watching a series of MasterChef where one of the initial challenges was for the chefs to make a hollandaise sauce, many of them failed miserably, yet they were able to create stunning dishes that I wouldn’t even dream of being able to recreate. So, it seems that however much of a culinary expert you are the basics can sometimes get lost in the hype of creating new recipes and being all too innovative with food. Let’s face it; the basics are as important as the fancy stuff.

In all honesty, I’m slightly embarrassed to say that the technique of making hollandaise (the thought of it splitting) has always put me off, but I decided it was about time I stopped shying away from such thoughts and had a go. I’m amazed at how easy it was – and it didn’t split (pats self on back in congratulatory manner). Harrah me!
Whisking together the eggs yolks, vinegar and water is certainly the easy part, whisking only until light and frothy, it’s when you add heat to the equation that you seem to think it’s going to explode before your very eyes. Okay, that is a slight exaggeration, but my point is the thought is scarier than actually getting stuck in and having a go. You slowly whisk in the butter until you have a thick pale yellow sauce – et voila hollandaise! It really is that simple.
Ordinarily, when Saturday morning comes around I think of one thing only – eggs, normally boiled with soldiers, sometimes scrambled or poached, but never with hollandaise. From now on though, I’ll be found in the kitchen lording it up with my eggs Benedict – well, every now and then anyway. It’s the perfect breakfast in so many ways, not least because it really sets you up for the day, all that protein keeps you going for hours before feeling hungry again – perfect if you’ve a busy day lined up. Granted, it’s not exactly a healthy breakfast with all the butter, but let’s be honest, weekends were invented for indulgence, especially around the breakfast table.
I didn’t make Rich breakfast as he was sleeping off a hangover and I didn’t imagine hollandaise would sit well in his stomach. But, having seen the photos I took, he was in fact quite jealous of my delicious breakfast and has requested I have another bash at making it again soon. I guess this one is going to become a weekend staple in my household. This recipe serves two.
What have you shied away from making before, only to find it was so much simpler than you’d imagined?
2 eggs
Small packet of smoked ham
1 English muffin, halved
Salt and ground black pepper
1 tbsp freshly snipped chives
For the Hollandaise:
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp water
125g softened butter, cubed
Lemon juice, to taste
Salt and ground black pepper
To make the hollandaise sauce, add the egg yolks to a heat proof glass bowl and whisk until light and frothy. Place the white wine vinegar and water into a small saucepan and reduce by half, allow to cool slightly.
Place the glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering eater and add the reduced vinegar. Ensure that the simmering water does not touch the bottom of the glass bowl. Whisk vigorously until the mixture is light and airy. Gradually add the butter a cube at a time, whisking the whole time. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice and keep warm.
Poach the eggs for 3-4 minutes and toast the muffin halves.

To serve, butter the muffins, place a couple of slices of ham on each, followed by the poached egg. Season with salt and pepper then pour over the sauce and garnish with the snipped chives. 

Perfect scrambled eggs on toast

The humble egg. Such a versatile ingredient, and perhaps one of my favourites, alongside the potato for that very reason. 
And, who can resist eggs in the morning? I know, now you have that song in your head right?
In my house, its eggs for breakfast every weekend without fail, soft boiled being Kieren’s preferred choice. But for me, scrambled eggs are the perfect breakfast treat and seem to encourage me to get out of bed.
Inspired by the Hairy Bikers, this recipe is great as you don’t need to add cream to create that lovely, rich thick texture that makes scrambled eggs so special, which essentially means it’s less calorific. Instead you’ll need 1 tbsp of butter and good arm for stirring.

6 medium eggs
1 tbsp Butter
2 tbsp freshly chopped chives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 slices bread (your preference)
Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium-low heat. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in a bowl with the chives and salt and pepper. Once the butter has melted tip in the eggs and begin stirring slowly. Stir almost continuously until the eggs have thickened but are still moist.
The eggs will continue to cook for a minute or so once you have removed them from the heat, so if in doubt take them off the heat a little earlier. They should only take about 3 minutes in total.  
Serve with toasted bread, a sprinkling of chives, ground black pepper and a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.
Serves:                                  2
Preparation Time:                5 minutes
Cooking Time:                      5 minutes