Chocolatey cashew cream

Chocolatey cashew cream

This super-simple dessert used carob powder to give a lovely, chocolatey flavour.  Carob is a tropical pod that contains a sweet, edible pulp and inedible seeds.  After drying, the pulp is roasted and ground into a powder.  It has a flavour a bit similar to chocolate.  The sugars in cashew nuts, bananas and carob make this dessert very sweet.  You will get the smoothest texture if you grind the cashew nuts very finely on their own in a coffee/spice grinder before adding to the other ingredients but its still lovely if you don’t bother.  I never do.  the recipe is from “Cooking without” by Barbara Cousins.

For 4
115g/1 cup raw cashew nuts
15ml/1 tbsp carob powder (health stores and gourmet shops), sifted
140ml filtered water or unsweetened additive-free non-dairy milk (e.g. almond, hemp milk, coconut)
2 large bananas
1 tbsp flaked almonds

1. Blitz everything in a small food processor for 2 minutes until smooth and creamy.
2. Spoon into 4 ramekins/glasses and refrigerate minimum 20 mins or overnight.
3.Toast flaked almonds  lightly on a dry frying pan until very slightly coloured.  Just before serving, sprinkle on top of the carob cream.

If you are feeling fancy, add a sprig of fresh mint and serve with a side of fresh raspberries.

Why this is better for you:
This dessert is a good, easy to make “treat”.  Its not intended to be eaten every day as it has far more natural sugars than you need in a healthy diet.  Carob is a great substitute for chocolate.  Chocolate contains at least 2 stimulants – caffeine and theobromine.  These stimulate your nervous system, which, in turn, increases heart rate and contracts muscles. It’s a lot like the fight-or-flight response.   The better quality chocolate (over 70% cocoa and ideally organic) contains some good antioxidants but eating more than a couple of small squares once or twice a week would be loading you up with stimulants – just like drinking coffee does. 

Cashew nuts contain some protein and beneficial fats help keep your blood sugar levels (and energy and mood) even.  Although bananas are high in sugars and not much else, they do contain fructo-oligosaccharides which can help feed beneficial bacteria in your gut.  Beneficial bacteria are needed for mood, clear skin, healthy digestion.  They are also important for your immune system to protect against infections, colds and abnormal growths.   

Green tea macaroons

Green tea macaroons

These are a simple-to-make confection from Sarah Jane White, whose book, The Extra Virgin Kitchen, is a favourite of mine.  I made them today and they turned out a totally delicious treat that’s bright green.  As the author says, they are idiot-proof.  Although you are supposed to freeze them I didn’t bother and just chilled them down to harden them a bit.  Yum!

If you are gluten-free, remember that vanilla “essence” can contain gluten while vanilla extract (made from actual vanilla) is gluten-free.

Buy matcha green tea powder in Asian shops or health stores.

Makes 16

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or a generous pinch of vanilla powder)
3 level teaspoons matcha green tea powder
125g desiccated coconut
2 tbs coconut flour
Pinch sea salt/Himalayan salt
3 rounded tbs coconut oil
2-4 level tbs honey
Pinch dried ground turmeric
Quick squeeze fresh lemon juice (2 dessertspoons, give or take)
Food processor

Line a flat plate or baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
Add the ingredients to the food processor and blitz for 30 seconds, or until the mix starts to form a ball.
The next thing you want to do is shape the dough using 2 dessertspoons or small soup spoons.  Scoop out a small spoonful of dough and form it into a mini macaroon or madeleine shape using both spoons.  As Sarah Jane suggests, you could also use one of those special metric tablespoon you can buy from kitchen suppliers, to give a professional looking shape.
Freeze the macaroons until they are solid, then transfer to your fridge.

Why these are good for you:
Green tea has health benefits as they are laden with antioxidant catechins.  Green tea promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut which are helpful for clear skin, super-efficient digestion and absorption of nutrients.  Good bacteria are also responsible for helping remove toxic chemicals and used-up hormones from your body quickly and safely.  Green tea also contains L-theanine, an amino acid that can be super-helpful for reducing stress or anxiety.  Coconut oil is a great source of medium chain triglycerides.  These help feed your brain and also supply ready energy to your body without being converted to fat!  Lemon juice has antioxidant properties and helps boost liver function, to help rid you of all those natural and man-made toxins your body works to get rid of every minute of every hour.  

Coriander pesto

Coriander pesto

This unctious, tangy pesto is one I’d call a real crowd-pleaser and people will think you spent hours making it!   Today we grilled some salmon darnes and had a huge dollop of this on the side with some steamed veg for a quick weekday dinner.  The pesto keeps for about a week in a clean airtight glass jar in the fridge.  It is fantastic served with some steamed carrots/pak choi/spinach/courgettes and a grilled or steamed piece of fish or chicken.  For a snack or decadent breakfast spread it thickly on some wholemeal gluten-free or (if you eat gluten) 100% rye 100% sourdough toast with perhaps some sliced tomato (and a little crumbled goat/sheeps feta chees if you eat dairy) on top.

For a generous jar with 6 servings

4 small green chillies, stalks removed (optional)
100g fresh coriander, stalks and leaves, washed and cut up in 2-3cm lengths
25-30g organic raw pumpkin seeds or half pumpkin half sunflower seeds (you could also use almonds or walnuts if you don’t have any seeds)
2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly cut up
Extra virgin olive oil (about 150ml)
Pinch of Himalayan/Atlantic sea salt
Juice of 2 limes (or use juice of a lemon if you cant get limes)

1. Combine all the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor, grind until smooth.
2. Add the olive oil as you go until you achieve a thick, consistency.  If you want a pouring consistency, add more oil.

Why this is good for you:
Fresh coriander  binds to toxic metals in your gut and gets them safely out of your body.  So if you have mercury dental fillings, for example, this is a great thing for you to eat.  Coriander and lemon juice  have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties to keep your skin clear, younger and fresher longer.  Lime or lemon juice also aids digestion at mealtimes.  As many people struggle to make enough digestive juice to fully break down their food, it can be a helpful addition to a meal.   Garlic helps kill gut infections such as candida overgrowth and parasites, which are REALLY common, even in Ireland! But garlic also encourages growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut.  Harmful candida and parasites  cause many digestive problems, skin disorders and even mood problems that I make dealing with them a priority in nutrition clinic. Extra virgin raw olive oil is also packed with antioxidant vitamin E, which helps reduce your tendancy to allergy as well as moisturising your skin from within.  Eating this pesto helps balance your gut bacteria in favour of the good, helpful ones. 

Apricot & Brazil nut protein bars

Apricot & Brazil nut protein bars

I made these raw protein bars for snacks a few weeks ago, adapted from Christine Bailey’s recipe.  I meant to bring the leftovers in to my nutrition clinic to share with colleagues but somehow we just couldn’t bear to part with them.  We ate the lot over the following week.  These are quite like the Nakd bars you find in health stores.  This bar is perfect when you are short of time and need something to support your blood sugar levels and you want something sweet.  These are a good emergency breakfast option, post-gym snack or lunchbox treat.  These can be frozen in batches for up to a month.

Makes 12 large bars
For unusual ingredients, don’t forget to check out “larder & shopping”

200g/1½ cups raw Brazil nuts
60g gluten-free organic porridge oats or buckwheat flakes
30g ground chia seeds (buy ready-ground or use a coffee/spice grinder)
250g dried unsulphured apricots, soaked overnight in filtered water/250g dried apricots plus 6 tbs water/freshly squeezed orange juice
3 heaped tbs unsweetened or vanilla protein powder (Nua Naturals rice protein, Nuzest Clean Lean Protein or Sunwarrior Classic/Warrior blend are all great.  Solgar Whey-to-go vanilla is another option if eat dairy and are using this snack for sports nutrition/muscle recovery.
Zest of 1 orange, organic if possible
Pinch of Himalayan or Atlantic Sea Salt
Essential equipment: food processor

1. Chop the apricots roughly.  If you have not already done so, grind the chia seeds and set aside.
2. Place the nuts and oats in a food processor and process until fine.  Add the chia, apricots, protein powder and orange zest and process till well mixed.  If you have used soaked apricots this will usually form a dough.  If your apricots are unsoaked then you will need to start adding the orange juice or water about 2 tbs at a time, pulsing in between, until the mixture forms a dough.  The amount of liquid needed will vary depending how dry the apricots are.
3. Press the mixture into a 20cm square tin lined with baking parchment and freeze for at least 1 hour so it firms up enough to cut neatly.
4. When frozen, cut into 12 bars.  Store in the fridge or freezer until needed.

Note: It’s  important that the chia seeds be ground.   This helps the bars stick together really well.


  • For a gingerbread version, add 1 level tsp each of ground ginger and cinnamon along with the protein powder.
  • For a chocolatey version, add 2 heaped teaspoons pure cocoa powder along with the protein powder.

Why these bars are better for you:  
Because these bars contain protein from the nuts, seeds and protein powder, they help keep you feeling fuller much longer. The fact that they are raw means more nutrients such as essential omega 3 and 6 oils.  Brazil nuts are a rich source of magnesium which helps relax the bowel to prevent constipation.  The bars are rich in crucial minerals such as selenium and iron which are important for the thyroid gland, brain function and energy production.  Buying unsulphured (brown) apricots in the health store avoids the sulphur dioxide that causes unpleasant digestive symptoms for so many people.  Sulphur dioxide is added to many dried fruits as a preservative and is always listed on the packet so its easy to avoid by paying attention to labels.

Christine Bailey is a successful nutritional therapist who published The Functional Nutrition Cookbook in 2012.  It contains over 130 tasty recipes that are super-healthy but also delicious.  

Chocolate & avocado smoothie

Chocolate & avocado smoothie

This is a gorgeous, thick smoothie and really creamy.  It’s my favourite breakfast at the moment.   I like to make it so thick I can eat it with a spoon but that’s just me.  To thin, add more non-dairy milk.  Or more avocado to make it even thicker.  The stevia drops are important here because otherwise there will not be the slightest hint of sweetness.  I love this smoothie because it fits in well with a paleo way of eating, which makes me feel SO much more energetic.   This smoothie will keep you going for hours because the good fats keep you fuller longer.

For 1 big eater

200 ml unsweetened additive-free coconut milk (or use 3 tbs full fat coconut milk from can and top up with water)
1 heaped tsp raw cocoa powder, organic if possible
1 tbs whole flax seeds, soaked overnight in half a cup of water (or use 1 dsp cold-milled flax seeds)
1/2 a ripe avocado
2 dsp protein powder (hemp protein or dairy-based Solgar Whey to Go from health stores or Sun Warrior protein powder which is already sweetened with stevia – you might not need more sweetening)
20 drops pure stevia (a non-toxic sweetener)
1/2 tsp Ceylon cinnamon for sprinkling

Throw everything in the liquidiser and blitz till well smooth.  The flax seeds will give you some “bits” and texture.  If you don’t like this, use finely ground flaxseeds instead.  For an extra health boost and flavour, sprinkle with ground Ceylon cinnamon.

For a change from chocolate, use 50g raspberries instead.   If you are not on a ketogenic diet, you can add even more raspberries if liked.  50g raspberries contain 2.3g of carbohydrate.
You could use erythritol or xylitol to sweeten (not suitable for a very low carb/ketogenic diet)

Why this is good for you
Avocados are a great source of vitamin E and monounsaturated oils.  These help dampen inflammation, keep you fuller longer with their healthy fats, and keep your skin young and smooth.  Raw organic cocoa is free of chemical contaminants and like, cinnamon, has powerful antioxidant properties.  Antioxidants help keep your digestive system well and reduce inflammation.  A bit like long-acting paracetamol but without the dangerous side effects.  cinnamon also has antioxidant action and also helps balance blood sugar.  This is good news if you are diabetic, pre-diabetic, or struggle with energy peaks and slumps throughout the day.  Flax seeds, especially when soaked, emit soluble fibre, a type of mucilage that feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut.  These bacteria manufacture vitamin K (for healthy bones and wrinkle-free skin), and butyric acid which keeps the lining of your bowel healthy and free of tumours.  High quality protein is important at breakfast because it keeps you satisfied and helps weight management.  Having enough protein helps you be more resilient to stress, maintain muscle mass, and detoxify chemicals, hormones and waste products we make or take in all the time.  Did you know that pure cocoa posder is classified as a spice – it’s packed with antioxidants, as is Ceylon cinnamon.  If the packet says “cinnamon” then it’s not the useful Ceylon cinnamon, but cassia cinnamon, which does not have the health benefits and in large amounts over a long period of time, can have negative effects.

Avoca carrot salad

Avoca carrot salad

I was looking for something nice to do with carrots yesterday, found this recipe and adapted it slightly.  We didn’t have the coarse-grain mustard or the honey so we left both out and thought it was still nice.   I like to make up large bowls of salady things like this in the summer, to keep in the fridge for dipping into at mealtimes.  Who wants to spend all evening in the kitchen when the weather’s so nice…

For 2 people (with plenty of leftover dressing):

4 medium carrots
2 tbs sesame seeds
For the dressing:
1 large clove garlic, crushed
Large pinch freshly ground black pepper
1-3 teaspoons of raw honey (optional)
3 heaped dsp coarsegrain mustard (optional) – if you are gluten-intolerant, make sure you check the label!!
400ml virgin cold-pressed sunflower or sesame oil.  Dont be temped to use toasted sesame oil, the burnt flavour will be far too strong.
200ml red or white wine vinegar (or you could use apple cider vinegar).
200ml extra virgin olive oil

  1. First toast the seeds on a dry pan over a medium heat, shaking every so often, until slightly golden.  Remove from the heat.
  2. Put the dressing ingredients in a large screwtop jar and shake well to mix.
  3. Grate the carrots, add the seeds and enough of the dressing to moisten the whole lot.  Stir and serve. 

Why this is good for you:
Carrots are a brilliant source of carotenes which help protect your eyesight and also give your skin a golden glow, making you look more suntanned.  They also help your skin protect itself against UV rays, like a sort of edible sunblock.  Raw, unheated (virgin) sesame and sunflower oil are high in omega 6, which helps balance your hormones for increased energy, better mood and even smoother, more moisturised skin.  It’s even helpful in reducing PMS.  Extra virgin olive oil, while not high in omega 6, is packed full of vitamin E which moisturises your skin from within.  Vitamin E helps your body conserve and reuse the vitamin C you get in your diet – increasing its benefitial effects.  Vitamin E from olive oil also has an anti-allergy effect.  This means it can help reduce symptoms of hayfever, asthma and skin allergies.  Mustard is a spice andlike most spices has antioxidant properties linked to slowing ageing, soothing inflammatory conditions and balancing your immune system.   

Gluten-free Bazargan/Middle Eastern grain salad

Gluten-free Bazargan/Middle Eastern grain salad

This is my gluten-free take on a delicious Middle Eastern bulgar wheat salad by Claudia Roden.   Instead of wheat, I use millet (naturally gluten-free).  Everyone takes seconds when I serve it at a buffet or barbeque.  I love having it for leftovers too and it keeps for several days. Serve it with some protein such as roast chicken, a bean salad or some felafels, and a large green salad or some wilted spinach leaves dressed with lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil.

For 6:

330g/1½ mugs whole millet grains (from wholefood stores)
800ml/3 mugs boiling water, filtered if possible
1 large onion, red if possible
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
110g tomato puree
Juice of 1 lemon
A bunch of fresh mint, or 1 tbs dried
1 rounded tsp ground cumin
1 rounded tsp ground coriander
1 level tsp ground allspice
110g raw walnuts and/or hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

1. Add boiling water and millet to a large saucepan, cover with a lid and simmer on a medium heat until the water has been absorbed completely.  Fork it up a little to break up the grains.
2. While the millet is cooking, peel and chop the onion and add to a large bowl with the olive oil, tomato puree, lemon juice, cumin, coriander, allspice, nuts and mint.
3. When the millet is cooked, allow it cool down so its tepid or cold.  Then add to the rest of the ingredients and mix gently with a fork, avoiding mashing the grains, which should remain distinct from each other.
4. If you have time, leave this sit for an hour, or even overnight, for the flavours to develop.

Why this is good for you:
Herbs and spices are packed with beneficial antioxidants which prevent food from spoiling.  A high intake of spices helps delay aging and is linked to lower incidence of skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.  Cumin and coriander help soothe and repair the digestive system while mint is anti-spasmodic, helping prevent cramps, gas and spasms in the bowel.  

White bean, tapenade & aubergine salad

White bean, tapenade & aubergine salad

This is a lovely, earthy and filling summer main course, perfect with a large green salad and maybe something stodgey like a baked sweet potato or some squash wedges.  Best eaten warm or at room temperature, rather than straight from the fridge.

For 2:

400g cooked, drained white haricot, cannellini or butter beans – rinsed and drained from a tin, or home-cooked (200g raw weight will give you 400g after overnight soaking and cooking)
1 medium aubergine, cut in 1cm slices and grilled till golden (about 5 minutes each side, I find)
1 dsp chopped red onion (use
1 dsp black olive tapenade from a jar
Large pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tbsp chopped parsley, chives or basil (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil to drizzle

1. In a medium bowl mix the onion, tapenade, chopped herbs and cayenne with a small drizzle of olive oil.
2. Cut the aubergine into bite size pieces and add, with the white beans, to the tapenade mix.
3. Mix well and serve.

Tip: Buy parsley fresh, chop and store in a box or bag in the freezer.  That way it’s instantly available all the time.

Why this is good for you:
Olives and olive oil are rich in vitamin E which helps moisturise your skin from within and also aids weight management.  Yes, adding extra virgin olive oil to your diet has been proven to aid weight loss!  Red onion is rich in quercitin, which helps alleviate allergies.  White beans are rich in protein at around 8%, and soluble fibre, all of this keeps you fuller longer.  Soluble fibre also feeds beneficial bacteria which you need for your digestive wellness, mental health and perfect skin.  White haricot beans are a fantastic source of molybdenum, which can help support liver function.  Poor skin, low energy, or who has chemical sensitivities can be signs that your liver is under pressure, struggling to meet the detoxification demands of your everyday life and might need more nutrients.   Fresh or frozen parsley helps your kidneys to flush out toxins.  It’s also rich in iron.



If life gives you lemons…make lemonade

This is SUCH an easy recipe and just the thing for a day like today, in the garden, after work…I’ve adapted it from Patrick Holford’s recipe in Food Glorious Food.  I served this lemonade recently at a dinner and people just couldn’t get enough.  If you or whoever is to drink the lemonade doesn’t like “bits”, strain the lemon juice before adding to the syrup.  The lemon/xylitol syrup base will stay fresh in the fridge for 3-4 days.

For 4 servings:

Juice of 2 lemons
2 heaped tbs xylitol/erythritol or (for zero calorie or ketogenic diet) 20 drops of pure stevia or to taste
50ml clean water (filtered if possible)
750 ml mineral water, fizzy or still, whatever you prefer
A sprig of mint, lemon balm or a slice of lemon to decorate
Ice cubes, if liked

  1. If you are using stevia instead, you don’t need to make xylitol syrup at all.  Otherwise, place the xylitol and 50ml water in a small pan and warm till the xylitol is dissolved fully.  This prevents the sweetener sitting uselessly at the bottom of the jug or glass.
  2. While the xylitol/erythritol is dissolving, squeeze the lemons, discarding any pips.
  3. Allow the xylitol/erythritol syrup to cool slightly before mixing with the lemon juice.
  4. Put the lemon juicesyrup mix in a jug in the fridge until ready to use.
  5. Top up with 750ml mineral water and enjoy, preferably in the sun…

Why this is good for you
Natural, freshly squeezed lemon juice gives fantastic support to your liver to help cleanse toxins.  Provided the lemon juice isn’t heated, its also high in vitamin C.   So if you want clear, glowing skin or to boost immunity or stay younger longer, this is a pretty good “treat” drink.   Lemon juice is very low in natural sugars and xylitol doesn’t raise blood sugar.  And stevia drops which a natural calorie-free are even better.  This means this lemonade is fine for anyone who has diabetes or other blood sugar regulation problems (like energy or mood peaks and dips through the day).  It also won’t send your kids hyperactive like normal fruit juices or added-sugar drinks. 

Lemon juice aids detoxification because it is (when raw) packed with antioxidants (ever stop a cut apple from browning or oxidising  by smearing it with lemon juice?).  It is also alkalising (once metabolised, it promotes alkaline pH in your body tissues – this is important if you want to be well.  Most vegetables and fruits promote alkaline (healthful) pH balance in you!!  Milk, cheese, meat, fish and most grains are acid-promoting in your body.  You need lots of fruit and veg to balance them. 

Aubergine antipasto with pine nuts & herbs

Aubergine antipasto with pine nuts & herbs

This is a superb but simple recipe I cut out of a magazine years ago.  No idea who wrote it.   I made a large plate of it recently for a family birthday and we grazed on it for the rest of the weekend.   The aubergines cook quite quickly, especially with sliced and grilled or fried.  Cook right through: aubergines don’t taste good if undercooked so make sure they are translucent, with no trace of white.  If you can’t get pine nuts, you could use flaked almonds instead.

For 4-6 people as a starter, or grazing platter

2-3 medium, aubergines, about 700g
2 tbs sea salt (flakes or finely ground, it doesn’t matter)
About 125ml extra virgin olive oil
50g pine nuts
Small bunch fresh mint, half chopped, half in sprigs
Small bunch fresh flat leaf parsley, half chopped, half in sprigs
Few drops balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper

  1. Cut the aubergines lengthways into 1cm slices.  Score both sides of each with a fork.  Sprinkle with salt.  Drain on a rack for 10-20 minutes, then pat dry with kitchen paper.  The salting of the aubergine draws out the bitter juices and makes the end product much sweeter.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a ridged stove-top grill pan until very hot.  Wipe with olive oil, using a wad of crumpled kitchen paper or heatproof brush.   Paint each slice with oil.  Arrange on hot pan, pressing down firmly.  cook for 3-5 minutes on each side until grill-marked, tender and aromatic.
  3. Heat a separate frying pan, add pine nuts and toast gently until golden. Set aside.
  4. Scatter cooked aubergine with chopped mint, parsley, black pepper and balsamic vinegar.  Loop slices on serving plates, add pine nuts and sprigs of mint and parsley and serve.Why this is good for you:
    Raw herbs like parsley and mint are a powerhouse of antioxidant, anti-ageing nutrients that help soothe your digestive system.  Mint is anti-spasmodic and so can reduce wind.  Parsley is rich in iron and is great for your kidneys too.  Aubergines are rich in fibre, which is good news for the beneficial bacteria in your gut – they use the indigestible fibre in your food to make healing substances to repair and maintain the health of your small and large intestine.  People who eat more vegetables have a lower incidence of ALL digestive disorders, including gallstones, colitis and gastritis.  Like most vegetables, aubergines are also high in potassium which helps your body respond well to your natural thyroid hormone (T3).  This results in more energy, thicker hair and better bowel regularity.