Start the day the right way – another healthy breakfast option

breakfast_bars_20_09760_16x9On ‘let’s talk!’ we have previously offered ideas for healthy meals and snacks.  Becky’s overnight oats went down really well, as did Jane’s Tabbouleh salad and when we shared a ‘healthy’ chocolate cake (well it is relatively healthy, as long as you don’t eat the lot in one go…..) we were greeted with disbelief. But we like to show you can eat delicious things, and still be certain you are packing your body full of good things that give you the energy to make the most of your day and can boost your mood.

We are pleased to see that more and more ‘celebrity’ or mainstream chefs and cooks are focusing on lighter options, and ingredients that just a few years ago would be only be available in a local wholefood shop – Goji berries and flaxseed, coconut oil and buckwheat for example – which are now readily available in supermarkets.

Today we wanted to share a recipe we love that was developed by TV cook Nigella Lawson, who, let’s be honest’ is best known for her voluptuous desserts and carbohydrate rich pasta dishes. Here she is offering an option for those of us who find it hard to take in a good breakfast as we rush around organising our mornings.For those of us concerned about our intake, the sugar in them comes only from the dates and the recipe makes enough to last the working week.

Nigella’s Breakfast Bars (version 2 – she has apparently made them even better than the original version)

250g/9oz medjool dates
2 tsp ground cinnamon
75g/2½oz goji berries
75g/2½oz pumpkin seeds
150g/5½oz brown flaxseeds
50g/1¾oz cocoa nibs
25g/1oz chia seeds
25g/1oz cornflakes (gluten-free if required)
100g/3½oz organic porridge oats (not instant)

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4, and line the bottom and sides of a 20cm/8in square tin with baking parchment.
Pit the dates and tear them with your fingers into a small saucepan, add the cinnamon, cover with 325ml/11fl oz cold water, bring to the boil and let bubble for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, and beat with a fork until you have a rough purée.
Put all the remaining ingredients into a large bowl, add the date mixture and mix until everything is combined. I wear a pair of disposable vinyl gloves for this.
Squodge into your prepared tin and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until firm and set, and golden on top and darker around the edges. Leave to cool in the tin before cutting into pieces.

How brilliant is the word ‘squodge’?! just what one has to do to make sure the mixture filled every nook and cranny of the tin. Nigella makes suggestions for alternative ingredients if you find any hard to get hold of, or a bit too expensive – we have used ordinary dates and just simmered them for longer before mashing, and sunflower seeds instead of the flax. They came out really well, and are full of all those things that can give you a boost without causing your blood sugars to rocket.

You can watch Nigella make the bars in the video on the BBC Website.

So give them a try, and let us know what you think. or you could share your own favourite recipes with us. We would love to include more on this site.

5 Recipes for well-being – Healthy eating on our Pinterest board…

Have you tried Pinterest? It is like a digital scrapbook come corkboard, particularly useful for saving your favourite images or links in any number of categories. It can be incredibly addictive, as you have access to thousands (millions!) of pictures and links saved by other users and there is the inevitable temptation to spend hours browsing and ‘repinning’ their links onto your boards for future reference.

Many businesses are now using Pinterest for marketing purposes, so here at The Terrace we thought we would give it a go. However, rather than just being another way to chat to people about our work, it has proved a fabulous way to save some favourite recipes. It is well-known that Pinterest is perfect for finding irresistable photos of fabulous food, and of course most people will never have time to produce a tenth of the recipes they save. So we thought we would pick our favourite five from our board to share on here.

salad1. Warm Winter Salads by Sophia Breene at Greatist. Delicious recipes full of rices, pulses and squash as well as fruit and a huge variety of leaves. Really highlights the value of salad in the colder months – you don’t have to hit the comfort food just because the central heating has come on….

2.The Best Creamy Roasted Tomato Soup by Ceara’s Kitchen. Having just mentioned comfort food, what could actually be better on a cold evening than a wonderful bowl of soup. This is a fabulous recipe, packed with good things and gluten free.

3. Another one from Ceara’s Kitchen – Oatmeal Banana Bread. This is a great option for people who alsways feel too rushed to eat a proper breakfast. Sweet, delicious and still good for you!

4. 30 minute Chicken Chow Mein by Healthy Nibbles & Bits. Take-aways can become redundant when you learn to cook this simple and healthy dish

5. Our very own Overnight Oats! – Prompted by Becky, who works with us here at The Terrace, we have tried this brilliant breakfast option. Give it a try and boost your energy at the start of the day.

So why not give our boards a look, and if you have your own Pinterest page, follow us for new ideas, thoughts about therapy and inspiration for health and well being – both physical and emotional. We even have cake…… (Flourless Chocolate Cake courtesy of The Vibrant Family).

Courtesy of The Vibrant Family

Courtesy of The Vibrant Family

Don’t waste it: Healthy Halloween pumpkin soup!

images (8)We are coming up to Halloween (the 31st is on Saturday this year, so more parties and trick or treating than usual we think!) and love it or loathe it (and many do hate it, especially those living alone who dread the knock on the door…) the one thing that is certain is that there will be lots of gorgeous pumpkin flesh thrown on the compost. All those fabulous Jack O’Lanterns that sit on the window ledge for one night produce enough to feed us all till Guy Fawkes night five days later.

Many people think pumpkin is bland, and even unpleasant. In the US they have it sussed, using it in any number of sweet and savoury recipes, but we are slower to pick up on the opportunity to avoid wasting what we scoop out.

So here at The Terrace we thought we would offer one of our healthy recipes which finds a way to use the pumpkin and pack it full of flavour.

So you will need:

1½ kg pumpkin, scooped out and chopped roughly

An onion, chopped (or a couple of leeks works too)

Rapeseed oil

A 400ml can of light coconut milk

Thai red curry paste (about 3 tablespoons depending on how much of a kick you want!)

Salt and black pepper

A sprinkle of ground ginger

850ml of low salt vegetable (or chicken) stock)

First of all, roast the pumpkin  for 30 mins in a hottish oven  (200C or gas 6), tossing it in two tablespoons of the oil seasoned with the salt and pepper.
Whilst that is cooking, put another 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan and cook the onion and ginger together over a low heat for about 10 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin and curry paste and then the coconut milk and the stock.

download (7)You only have to simmer this for a few minutes (check the pumpkin is tender) then leave to cool before whizzing it in a blender (not all at once!) until smooth. Then all you have to do is reheat as much as you need and taste to check whether it requires more seasoning. Serve with a swirl of the coconut milk and a chunk of crusty wholemeal bread. Delicious – and there will be enough left to freeze for later.

So as you prepare for Saturday night, why not get the cauldron out and stir up a real treat?!

Do you have any favourite pumpkin recipes? We would love to hear from you….

Overnight Oats – a healthy breakfast for porridge haters!

strawberry-almond-oatsWe have all heard about the benefits of porridge. The oats are high in fibre, which fills you up, and the complex carbohydrates they contain are digested slowly, releasing energy in a way that keeps your blood sugar levels steady (unlike the simple carbs in sugary cereals for example, which give you a quick energy boost that dissipates swiftly, making you more hungry). They can help you lose weight as part of a healthy diet and there is really nothing about them not to like. Or is there?

Porridge is, frankly, not to everyone’s taste. It doesn’t matter how good they are for us, or how it is served up – with honey, fresh fruit, water instead of hot milk for example – some of us will always find a bowl of porridge unpalatable first thing in the morning. Hot milk can remind us of childhood breakfasts that are supposed to send us off to school ‘glowing’, or milky puddings, and we certainly aren’t recommending the proprietary brands of oat breakfasts which are often packed with sugar.

Here at The Terrace our own lovely Becky has experimented with a new way to enjoy the benefits of a bowl of oats in the morning. Recipes for ‘Overnight Oats’ are now all over the internet, accompanied by fabulous pictures and serving suggestions. Presented in jam jars, surrounded by flowers and fruit, they are miles away from what some see as a stodgy breakfast. For example, the ‘Eat this!’ site offers 14 recipes, including chocolate peanut butter oats, carrot cake oats and strawberry chia, that look almost too good to dip a spoon into. All it takes is a few minutes the night before you want to eat them to mix together the oats, the toppings and the liquid you want to use and pop them in the fridge. You don’t even need to cook them the next morning as all the flavours have soaked into the oats, although you can add more liquid, or natural yoghurt for example.

oatsBecky has her own favourites. She suggests you soak porridge oats overnight in the fridge in something like milk, water, coconut milk or yoghurt.  In the morning she mixes in full fat Greek yoghurt (which she finds works better than low fat options), blueberries, raspberries and a linseed mix with chia seeds and goji berries. She has taken her own photos for us – not prettied up but looking delicious nonetheless!

So give them a try, especially if you are not a fan of porridge recipes, and if you have any ideas of your own you would like to share we would love to hear from you!

Diet, health and well-being – it isn’t all about the nanny state….

3d61aa7a6c15e14210176777221f0045It is so easy to feel confused by all the health information in the press. Have you become almost blind to all the warnings or recommendations about what we should or shouldn’t eat, and the effect certain foods have on our health? Why, despite all the advice, and the threats, does Britain continue growing ever more overweight? Is it because we don’t like being ‘told’ to limit our intake by the government or NHS? Is it the pressure of advertising and the availability of so much choice?

We aren’t pious or sanctimonious about food here at The Terrace, but we do like to promote a healthy lifestyle that considers both mind and body – what we eat can affect our mood as well as our weight. To deprive ourselves of certain nutrients is as bad as over indulging in others (for example, there is some evidence that the B vitamins and magnesium have been shown to support our mental health) and we know that getting the balance between diet and exercise can seem like a nightmare. But it is so important to our overall well-being to find something that suits us, and ensures we don’t carry on until our physical health deteriorates and our lives are shortened.

b8422f4b-e7ef-4646-965c-25417b36ae87-620x372Sadly, the news today highlighted what can happen when we take things to extremes. Britain’s heaviest man, Carl Thompson, has died aged just 33. He weighed 65 stone and had been housebound for more than a year. It took a small crane and all the emergency services to remove his body from his flat, where he was cared for by visiting NHS carers. He has already had five heart attacks, and had been told he needed to lose 45 stone or die. He had cut down on his 10,000 calorie a day intake but was still existing on takeaways to the last. Reports told of how he had developed a difficult relationship with food from the age of three, when he used to raid kitchen cupboards, but no one had been able to find the root cause of what was, of course, a serious eating disorder.

Now we would not suggest our favourite recipe for delicious nettle soup or tabbouleh salad, or any other healthy eating plan should have been forced upon Carl. At some point he lost control of his eating and despite being increasingly disabled by his weight he could not stop. It is desperately sad, and we have to hope he got all the support available.  However, for most of us it is not too late to gradually change the way we think about food. Therapy can help, as can the support of peers who experience the same issues. A major breakthrough can take place when someone notices how their diet can affect their mood. The mental health charity Mind has a wonderful page that goes into diet and mood in a very accessible way, as does the Mental Health Foundation. They offer recipes, talk about  about eating the right fats (not no fat), drinking plenty of water and ensuring you take in protein as well as your five a day. Do take a look and see what we mean. No fuss, no ticking off and no draconian measures required.

If you do want to see  the sort of recipes we enjoy eating, with the ingredients we know can lift mood and aid digestion, take a look at our Pinterest page devoted to healthy foods. You don’t have to go all out for vegetarian foods, or drop things you enjoy completely but there is a world of delicious stuff out there many of us know little about. It may feel annoying to be told what to eat by the government, or doctors; but seeing Carl, and the horrors of his weight gain, isn’t it worth biting your lip and just taking those first few steps to get out of a cycle that can affect both mind and body?