Cinnamon Fruit & Nut Granola

Have you often walked around the supermarket and stood in the breakfast isle a little too long trying to decide what to buy? If you’re health conscious and understand food labels, you’ll be staying away from the artificial cereals that contain sugar and salt. You’ll be trying to look for something satisfying that won’t hinder either weight loss or a healthy lifestyle. This can be difficult! Especially when there are so many tempting alternatives trying to draw you in.

My problem was sticking to the same breakfast each morning. I got bored with what I was eating. It’s good to constantly change the flavours you are consuming and to keep your tastebuds interested. Have a smoothie one morning, a bagel the next, delicious granola the day after that. The best thing about this… you can make them all at home! You know exactly what is going in to the food you are eating; nothing artificial. If you’re brave enough, you can even make your own bagels! (If you saw my post a couple of months ago, you will know that this is not something I am very good at…)

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Granola… Now this is something I can make! And I believe it tastes 100% better homemade than the shop bought variety! Each time you make it, it will taste different and that’s the beauty of it! No bowl is ever the same 🙂

Once you’ve given it a whirl, you’ll be making many variations and storing them ready for the breakfast on the go pots, the lazy weekend mornings in bed, the early morning office meetings… you get the picture.

Here’s a simple recipe to get you started if you’re a newbie, and if you’re already a pro, this granola is particularly good (if I do say so myself).

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Makes 1 large jar

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups of oats
  • 1 cup of chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup flaked almonds (or whole, chopped)
  • 1/2 cup flax seed (optional)
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup of chopped dried dates
  • 1 cup of chopped dried figs
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 tbsp agave or maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Method:

  • Add all dry ingredients to a large bowl. Mix well.
  • Melt coconut oil, syrup, cinnamon and ginger. Add to dry ingredients. Mix well.
  • Spread evenly on a baking sheet and place in a pre-heated oven for 30-40 minutes at 180C.
  • Keep turning the granola so it toasts evenly and does burn!
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  • Stir in dried dates and figs.
  • Store in an air-tight container to keep fresh.

SERVING SUGGESTION (My favourite way to eat Granola) – Yoghurt of choice in a bowl, fresh fruit chopped up, a sprinkling of chia seeds and a big tablespoon or 2 of granola on top. Delicious! And keeps you going until lunch! (Most of the time…)

You can try many different variations depending on what dried fruit and nuts you have in at the time.

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There is so much goodness to be soaked up when eating homemade granola. You can add ingredients depending on what your desired outcome is. Need an energy boost in the morning? Post-Workout granola? Feeling fruity? In need of an injection of iron? Or vitamins? Or protein? You can tailor your granola to serve a particular purpose as well as leave your tastebuds tingling and your tummy satisfied.

If you have a requirement but aren’t sure what ingredients fulfil this, please get in touch. I would be happy to help. Would love to help in-fact 🙂

With my next batch of granola, I will post my variation. At the moment, I am swaying towards dried apricots, pistachios, and vanilla. My mouth is already watering at the thought! I haven’t even tucked into this jar yet! You’ll never be able to call breakfast dull again!

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Love and Lemons xxx

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Homegrown Produce & A Weekend of Jam Making

Sitting in the garden on a summer’s evening, the sun glistens on the cherry tree’s dew from the recent downpour. You can count on the beautiful UK weather to keep the plants refreshed. It’s almost possible hear the small berries soaking up the water and turning into a beautiful red ball of deliciousness ready to be picked. These are to the left of me, and to the right, green bean stalks are slowly crawling up bamboo shoots. If you look closely enough, you can see the first signs of bean life. One of my favourite things is to pick the pods straight out of the garden and eat the peas inside raw. The crunch and flavour they hold is delicious.

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Amongst these in my garden there is a mixture of delights being nurtured; including strawberries, blueberries, broccoli, tomatoes, pak choi, salad, asparagus, spinach, onions, basil, lemon balm, oregano, thyme, chives, mint, rosemary, parsley, sage, and fennel. Some of these are growing wonderfully, ad others not so much. Have you ever tried to grow asparagus? We definitely haven’t had an edible crop yet, but this is the fun of homemade produce! Sometimes it works, and sometimes it’s a disaster!

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Growing your own fruit and vegetables is wonderful. You don’t have to have a big garden with lots of space to do it either! You don’t even have to have a garden! Think of how lovely a box full of scented herbs would look in your kitchen window. I’m lucky enough to have a ‘gardener’ i.e. The boyfriend, to sow seeds and tend to the produce living in our back garden. And… just a short walk down a path, leads to open land behind our house, and that leads to rows of bushes full of juicy blackberries screaming to be picked. It is this little walk that leads me to this blog post. What do you do with a basket full of the sweet berries… you make jam of course! That is exactly what I did.

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The rhubarb season has already been and gone so only the remains of this can be seen poking out through the freshly turned soil. It was a good crop this year, so I saved each stalk, cut it into bite size pieces and froze it for a rainy day. Today has been half rainy, half sunny, so I’ve used that as an excuse to defrost and turn the beautiful fruit into jam just like the freshly picked berries. If I’m doing one type of jam, I may as well go for it and do two. Seeing the finished product in jars and cooling on dining room table puts a big smile on my face. I can say that the jam has been lovingly created from homemade and handpicked fruit. It feels wonderful and I can’t wait to share it with friends and family.

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I have taken two traditional flavours and given them a little modern twist. That additional touch, I believe makes all the difference and sets the jams apart from any of the others currently half eaten in my kitchen cupboard.


Jar 1 – Blackberry & Vanilla

Jar 2 – Rhubarb and Ginger


There’s something quite therapeutic about watching berries burst when exposed to heat and the smell of rhubarb as it fills every room in the house with a wonderful scent.

Usually I would decorate the jar with a hessian cover and ribbon, which will happen at a later date… But I just couldn’t wait to share these with you, so you are seeing the bare product, fresh from the stove. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t nearly drop the jars a few times due to the heat of the glass whilst trying to take photos! If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see the decorated finished product soon enough! So keep your eyes peeled 🙂

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Recipe 1 – Blackberry & Vanilla Jam (Made x2 medium jars)

Adapted from ‘Grandma’s Special Recipes; Jams, Jellies & Preserves’

Ingredients:

– 450g Blackberries

– 450g granulated sugar (I used white)

– 2 tbsps lemon juice

– 1 tbsp vanilla extract (Needs to be good quality)

Method:

– Sterilise a couple of jars and leave to dry or place in oven on a very low heat.

– Put the berries into a pan (not aluminium) and place over a low heat until soft. Press fruit lightly with a wooden spoon during this stage so the juices are released.

– Add the sugar, lemon and vanilla and stir until all ingredients have dissolved.

– Turn up the heat and boil until setting point is reached. (It’s easy for the jam to burn if left so keep stirring regularly.)

(Note: the temperature at which jam sets is 104C/219F, so if you have a sugar thermometer, hook it to the side of the pan. If not, place a small plate in the fridge to cool whilst the jam boils. Drop a blob of jam on cold plate and place back in fridge for a minute. If jam wrinkles or doesn’t close back up when a finger is run through it, it’s done.)

– Spoon into jars and seal tightly. Leave in a safe place to cool before storing.


Recipe 2 – Rhubarb & Ginger Jam (Made x3 medium jars)

Adapted from Ruby Tandoh’s column in ‘The Guardian’

Ingredients:

– 600g rhubarb, chopped into 3-4cm chunks

– 600g granulated sugar (I used a mixture of white & golden)

– Juice of 2 small lemons

– Chunk of grated ginger (Amount depends on your preference. I used 2 tbsps.)

Method:

– Sterilise jars and leave to dry or put in a warmed oven.

– Mix rhubarb, sugar and lemon juice in a large pan (not aluminium) and put over a low heat.

– Mix in grated ginger and heat until mixture starts to soften.

– Let jam boil for roughly 10-15 minutes (stir regularly).

(Note: the temperature at which jam sets is 104C/219F, so if you have a sugar thermometer, hook it to the side of the pan. If not, place a small plate in the fridge to cool whilst the jam boils)

– After about 10 minutes, check the temperature or place a small blob of jam on the cool plate and put back in the fridge for a minute. Run your finger through the jam and if it wrinkles or doesn’t close the gap again, it’s ready to be jarred.

– Leave to cool for 15 minutes, the pour into sterilised jars. Leave to cool in a safe place before storing.


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In no time at all, you have a collection of jars cooling, ready to spread on the eagerly awaiting Monday morning toast, or stirred into creamy porridge. Brilliant pick-me-ups for a long day in the office.

Already started planting those seeds and walking the paths finding berries? Thought you might have 🙂

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Until next time…

Love and Lemons xxx

Green Veg Soba Noodle Bowl

I’ve had a few weeks away from blogging, from work (sitting behind a desk), and from the rain (well mostly!). It was just what I needed. Mountain air, active days, food lovingly prepared by somebody else, and best of all… stuffing my face with no washing up to do afterwards! That’s definitely a lifestyle I could get used to. Living a slow-paced life in the Italian Dolomites with not a care in the world. Cooking and baking all day for the villagers and exploring every corner of the mountains *floats of into a dream*

I came back feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world. Slightly achy legs from all the climbs and hikes, but being able to see the views I witnessed is well worth the burning muscles! And of course, a great excuse to eat lots of food… You need the energy when being so active all day!

I ate a lot on holiday, but I ate sensibly and watched the kind of foods I was consuming. My intake was high but that was because I was very active and needed the volume in order to sustain my energy levels. Fruit, yoghurt and eggs for breakfast. A great way to start the day!

This doesn’t mean I didn’t indulge and treat myself! Of course I did! But I made sure this wasn’t excessive. I work too hard to throw all my hard work away, but I also know a little of what you love doesn’t hurt you. And I do not believe in denying yourself; but I do believe in keeping everything balanced.

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We all need to come back down to earth though… and this is how I kick started my healthy daily routine again; A big bowl of Green Veg Soba Noodles. Absolutely delicious and thoroughly nutritious!

Ultimate clean eating comfort food. You can feel as though you’re being naughty whilst giving your body a squeeze of pure goodness. Get in the kitchen and rustle this up in 15 minutes (great for lazy evenings after work), then wrap yourself in that blanket and curl up on the sofa watching your favourite TV programme. That’s exactly what I did! Night in on my own, warming noodles, and Penny Dreadful on TV. Perfection!

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This time… I can’t tempt you in with a glamorous Pinterest image because the recipe is my own straight from the Lemon’s Kitchen Gourmet 15 minute meals journal. Step aside Jamie Oliver!

The great thing about this recipe is that you can add any veg you like to the noodles. I love green veg because it makes the dish so vibrant and earthy. Grab whatever you can find and chuck it in! Perfect recipe for that lonely veg lying at the back fridge crying out to be eaten. There is no need to be precious about quantities or weighing anything out either! There’s no excuse no to make this!

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Serves 2

15 minutes

2 big bowls and 2 sets of chopsticks (or forks)

2 hungry mouths and the latest box set on record

Ingredients:

x2 ties of soba noodles (they usually come in serving portions)

Glug of rapeseed oil or garlic oil

x8 asparagus spears

x8 chestnut mushrooms, roughly chopped

x2 generous handfuls of spinach

x2 large eggs, hard boiled and sliced

Low Sodium Soy Sauce

Truffle Oil/Honey (Optional)

Pistachio Nuts to sprinkle (Optional)

Sunflower Seeds to sprinkle (Optional)

To Make:

Boil the kettle, and add water to pan with noodles. Cook until nearly soft and drain (about 5 minutes)

Whilst the kettle is boiling and the noodles are cooking, heat the rapeseed/garlic oil in a large pan and add the asparagus and mushrooms. Once slightly softened, add the spinach and soy sauce. Toss together and continue cooking for another few minutes until spinach has wilted. At this point, add the drained noodles and stir ingredients together until noodles are heated through again.

Grab your bowl and spoon the noodles in, lay the sliced egg on top (one each), sprinkle on the nuts and seeds and then drizzle over the wonderful truffle oil to finish!

You’ll be eating it before you’ve even sat down!

Delicious, quick and so easy to make!

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To give an example of how you can swap the ingredients around… If I was to make this dish today… After looking in the fridge, my vegetables of choice would be kale lightly stir-fried in garlic oil before adding to the noodles and freshly shelled peas. Mmmmm!

Until next time foodie lovers!

Love and Lemons xxx