Chocolate and Hazelnut Muffins

Chocolate and Hazelnut Muffins

I created these muffins as a means of providing my kids with something sweet which has a bit more goodness in them than your average chocolate muffin.  I would love them to eat “healthier” snacks (and sometimes they will) but teenagers have a mind of their own and would apparently rather starve if something isn’t to their tastes.

My approach is to try and sneak in extra goodness, which in this case is in the form of hazelnuts (protein and healthy fats), oats (fibre) and really good quality organic cocoa powder (magnesium, copper and zinc).

This recipe is both gluten and dairy free so suitable for anyone wishing to avoid these foods.

This makes 12 large muffins.

You will need:

  • 100g gluten free oats
  • 100g hazelnuts
  • 125g gluten free self raising flour (I used Doves Farm)
  • 2 tsp gluten free baking powder (I used Doves farm)
  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • 200g dark chocolate chips (if you avoid dairy, make sure you purchase dairy free).  You could use less for a less indulgent treat.
  • 65g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 100ml light olive oil
  • 365ml dairy free milk (I used almond)
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C (160 fan)

Put the oats and hazelnuts in a food processor and blitz until fine.

Combine the oats and hazelnuts with the flour, baking powder, cocoa and chocolate chips.

In another bowl, combine the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla essence and mix well.

Pour the wet mix into the dry mix and combine well.  This is best done by hand so as not to break up the chocolate chips.

Divide the batter between 12 muffin cases.  I used silicone muffin cases as they are non stick and reusable.

Bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.  Test if they are cooked by inserting a skewer into the middle of the muffin.

Allow to cool (if you can!) and serve.

No Such Thing as One-Size-Fits All

No Such Thing as One-Size-Fits All

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A “ONE SIZE FITS ALL” APPROACH WHEN IT COMES TO HEALTH

People are often confused by the all conflicting information about what constitutes a healthy diet, where one news report will sing the praises and health benefits of a certain food or nutrient, and seemingly moments later another reports a risk.

Sometimes this is just down to the media sensationalising the findings of a study, but the truth is we are all individual and what might work or be beneficial for one person may be quite the opposite for another.

A lot of this comes down to your individual genes. Some people may be genetically predisposed to certain health conditions and could therefore be more affected by certain dietary choices. For example, if Type 2 diabetes runs in your family you may be more prone to becoming diabetic on a high carb diet, or if high cholesterol is a concern you may be more affected by diets and are higher in saturated fats. The same applies to numerous health conditions and different types of foods to a greater or lesser extent.

When looking into what will work best for you it is important to recognise that this will depend on a wide range of factors, such as:

– Your individual genes
– Your personal health goals
– Personal preferences
– Your current health status, including diagnosed medical conditions and symptoms
– Any medications you might be taking
– Your personality type and general relationship to food 
– And of course your resources, such as time and energy

Don’t be disheartened if what worked for someone else isn’t working for you. The solution will be out there, you just haven’t found it yet.

Low Carb English Breakfast Muffins

Low Carb English Breakfast Muffins

Wow! These were AMAZING if I do say so myself. 
As anyone who is following this group will know I am in the process of putting together some low carb recipes for our B Healthy group weight loss programme (see website for details). One of the things that needs cutting out if you do decide to reduce carbohydrates is bread, and whilst I don’t generally mind skipping this, sometimes its nice to have something bread-like, particularly for breakfast.

This morning I made some really quick and simple low carb English muffins and they really hit the spot, plus they kept me going quite happily for six hours before I felt I needed lunch.

This recipe makes one single muffin and whilst I don’t usually cook in a microwave, this is one of those recipes which works really well using this cooking method.

You will need:
3 tbsp ground almonds
1/2 tbsp coconut flour
1 heaped tsp ground flax seeds
1 large free range egg
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp butter (you could also use ghee or coconut oil)

Method:
Melt the butter in a small ramekin or bowl in the microwave.
Allow to cool (if its hot to touch) then beat in the egg.
Add the rest of the dry ingredients and combine well.
Return to the microwave and cook for about 2 minutes, checking occasionally. You want it well risen and firm to the touch, but if you cook it for too long it could dry out or go rubbery.
Once cooked, gently remove from the ramekin and leave to cool for a few minutes.
Slice in half and toast until golden.
Serve with a topping of your choice. Today I had coconut cream and a few berries, but this would also go really well with avocado and smoked salmon, or poached eggs.

Sex hormone imbalances

Sex hormone imbalances

Hormones are chemical messengers which help control a wide range of functions in the body, including growth, metabolism, mood and sexual function.

Our hormone levels should naturally be well controlled by the body, but sometimes external factors such as diet and lifestyle, and even the environment in which we live can throw these carefully regulated systems out of balance. 

Unfortunately, imbalances in sex hormones are not uncommon and these can be associated with a wide range of unwanted symptoms:

  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Depression, anxiety, mood swings
  • Brain fog, poor memory
  • Hirsutism (excessive hair growth in women)
  • Acne
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Heavy, painful or irregular periods
  • Breast tenderness
  • Low libido
  • Hot flushes, night sweats

If you identify with any of the above, consider making some changes:

Changes in diet

  • Eat a low GL (glycaemic load) diet: low in sugars and refined carbohydrates
  • Eat high quality protein every day (from wholefood animal and/or plant sources)
  • Eat your greens (including cruciferous veg), onions and garlic
  • Ensure you are eating plenty of fibre (and opening your bowels daily)
  • Don’t overcook meat and if budget allows, switch to organic meat and dairy
  • Avoid fats found in processed foods
  • Reduce or avoid stimulants such as cigarettes, caffeine and alcohol

Changes in lifestyle

  • Focus on managing stress
  • Take regular exercise

Reduce environmental toxins

  • Don’t put plastics in the microwave
  • Choose BPA free
  • Use greaseproof paper instead of cling film
  • Switch to more natural brands of household cleaners and personal care products

Try and maintain a healthy weight

If you are continuing to struggle with any of these symptoms you may benefit from more personalised nutrition and lifestyle advice.