Garlic & Parmesan Cauli Bites

You may have picked up on it by now from some of my previous posts but I am a big fan of Cauliflower as a healthy alternative to many of our beloved Complex and Simple Carbohydrates. It is an extremely versatile vegetable that is packed with goodness and healthy stuff for our lovely tummies to feast on.

You will also know by now if you follow this blog that two of my favourite things in this world are Garlic and Parmesan. So whilst brainstorming for my Spring/Summer recipes, I landed on the idea of making Cauliflower Bites – something crispy and tasty that you can dip into your favourite sauce (I mixed ketchup with Franks Hot Sauce OMG) and snack on while watching some TV at the weekend or whatever. I also think they would make a lovely side dish alternative to the Sunday dinner instead of roast potatoes. I know the roasties are sacred but it’s just an idea 🙂

They were pretty easy to make seeing as I was making it up as I went along and I must say I was delighted with the result. They lasted a few days in the fridge and also reheated well in the microwave. If I were to give any tips, I would say to leave them baking in the oven for as long as possible – you really want to reach the core of the florette and also crisp up the coating as much as possible to maximise the flavours and the overall eating experience.
Any other tips I could offer is just to enjoy making them and of course, eating and sharing them!

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 medium-large Cauliflower head
2 Eggs, whisked
¼ cup Plain Flour
1 cup Bread Crumbs of choice
¾ cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
1 Tsp. Garlic Powder
¼ Tsp. Cayenne Pepper
Salt & Pepper to taste
Dash Olive Oil

Method

Preheat the oven to 190 Degrees Celsius.
Chop the Cauliflower head up into small florets and add them to some boiling water in a pot on the hob. Cook until they are just about tender (approx 4-5 minutes).
In a bowl, mix flour, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and seasoning.
In another bowl, mix the breadcrumbs or breadcrumb alternative and grated Parmesan Cheese.
In a third bowl, have your eggs whisked and ready.
When the Cauliflower has been cooked, pat dry and leave to cool for about ten minutes. You can run it under some cold water before drying to speed up the cooling process.
Firstly dip your Cauliflower floret into the bowl of flour and seasoning.
Then dip it into the egg and then onto the cheese and crumb bowl.
Ensure your floret is fully coated.
Place the coated floret on a lined baking tray and continue this process until all the cauliflower has been used up.
Drizzle the florets with olive oil and pop in the oven to bake.
Mine took about 15 minutes and then I let them stay in for another 5 just to crisp up that little bit more.
I mixed some Franks Hot Sauce and Ketchup together and the combination went great.

And there you have it, another simple, cheap and delicious healthy snack to keep you on the right track! Enjoy xXx

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Almond and Red Pepper Sauce

No matter how healthy I eat, there is nothing that can stop my hankering for pasta when I’m feeling the effects of an alcohol-filled Saturday night with my girls. This weekend we celebrated the first girl of our group’s Hen Weekend, it’s hard to believe one of us will be walking down the aisle in a few weeks and oh did we celebrate!

So pasta was on the brain for most of today and as usual, I caved and fired up that fusilli. To ease the guilt somewhat, I decided to team it up with a healthy, homemade pasta sauce and I must say, I was pretty impressed with the end result. Adding almonds to the mix gave this sauce a really creamy finish and gave me the feeling I was seriously indulging in a cream-based pasta sauce when really it was nothing of the sort.

I’m really chuffed with this one actually and I’m sure you will be too if you give it a try. Very simple and really yum – here is my Almond and Red Pepper Sauce.

Ingredients

2 Red Peppers, deseeded and chopped
1 clove Garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
60 grams Almonds
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on a frying pan.
Once hot, add garlic and peppers to the pan and coo for about 2-3 minutes.
Remove from the heat and let the peppers cool for about 10 minutes.
Add all of your ingredients including the garlic and peppers to a food blender, Nutribullet or you can use a hand blender and puree the entire mix until smooth and creamy.
Cook your pasta according to the packet instructions and drain.
Put cooked pasta back into the pot it was cooked in and pour in your pepper sauce.
Heat the sauce through until piping hot and serve.

This sauce can also be served as a dip too. I chopped up some carrots and had a dip and it was pretty delish!

Innocent Ice Cream

I know this post is a bit late to the party as the weather has already begun to change on us but ice cream is nice no matter what time of year, let’s be honest!
I am a big ice cream fan, it’s one of the only deserts I actually considering ordering if I’m out for dinner and have any room left.
I have also been trying to brainstorm fun ways to get my 5 a day and to also adhere to my restricted food allowance.
As most dairy is now off limits for me, I thought I would use almond milk and banana as an alternative to yoghurt and regular ice cream and I was pretty chuffed with the results.
I am presently obsessed with pineapple and find myself buying a fresh one almost every week to snack on.

Pineapple is virtually fat free with 1mg of fat per 100 grams of pineapple and only 50 calories.
It is also high in fibre and Vitamin C which makes it an all-round good fruit to have.
When you combine it with banana and almond milk, you’re creating a pretty healthy and guilt free treat that tastes like it should be far naughtier.

So if you have 5 minutes to spare, why not give it a crack?

Ingredients

½ Sliced Banana, frozen
2 cups chopped Pineapple, frozen
½ cup Unsweetened Almond Milk

Method

Take banana and pineapple out of the freezer and let it soften slightly for about 20 – 30 minutes
Pop all 3 ingredients into the food blender, Nutribullet or use your hand blender (a recent phenomenon for me).
Combine all the ingredients until smooth and creamy – or until it resembles ice cream.
Scoop into a desert bowl and enjoy.

Image result for pineapple ice cream

Simple, quick and tastes amazing!!

Fabulous Falafel

 Even before the allergists told me I can barely eat anything I love anymore, I have had a bit of an obsession with Middle Eastern food of late.
Luckily for me, most of the staple ingredients used in creating Middle Eastern dishes are on the list of foods I can have so keep an eye out for some Lebanese or Moroccan style flavours coming through the Countertop over the next while.
Hummus is one of my favourite foods ever and I eat it by the tub-full. A great accompaniment to hummus is of course Falafel and it just so happens to be quick, cheap and healthy to make.
A hummus and falafel dish with some side salad or grilled veg is such a winner of a meal and will keep you full and energised for hours.
I had it as my lunch last week and I was the envy of the office.
All you really need for this creation is a decent food processor and the oven so give it a lash and let me know how you get on.

Ingredients

400 gram tin of Chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 clove Garlic
1 sprig Fresh Parsley
1 Tsp. Ground Coriander
1 Tsp. Ground Cumin
½ Tsp. Salt
2 Tbsp. Regular Flour or Flour alternative
Dash Olive Oil

Method

If you want to bake your Falafels, add all the ingredients above to a food processor, Nutribullet or whatever appliance you use and whizz.
Preheat the oven to 200 Degrees Celcuis and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Take a small chunk of the falafel mix and squish it into a small patty or ball depending on your preference.
If it is not sticking together, add a bit more oil and give it another whizz but be careful not to add too much either.
When the oven is hot, add the tray to the middle shelf and let your falafels bake away for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and heated through.

If you want to fry your Falafels, add all the ingredients as above.
Heat some more oil on the pan.
Falafels cook better on the pan if they are in more of a patty shape than a ball shape so my advice would be to create a little Falafel ball and then press it down slightly to create a patty.
Pop your falafels on the pan and fry each side until golden brown and you’re happy the patty has been heated through.

As I mentioned earlier, Falafel goes great with hummus so why not try whizz up some homemade hummus too?!
You can find my recipe for this right here!

https://clodaghscountertopblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/09/homemade-hummus/

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Roast Garlic & Parmesan Quinoa

So you’re probably catching on to my obsession with quinoa but it’s just soooo versatile and ridiculously yum!
It’s such a good grain to use and is so filling so it’s a great substitute to other white foods you might be used to using like pasta and white rice.

This recipe is a good one as you can use it as a side to your protein for a main dish, have it as a snack or add some more ingredients to it to make it a main meal of its own.
Like I said, quinoa is a very versatile ingredient so don’t be afraid to get imaginative and see what you can come up with.

Ingredients

4 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
100 grams Quinoa, uncooked
300 ml Vegetable Stock
1/3 cup Grated Parmesan
1 Cup Baby Spinach, chopped (optional)
1 Tsp. Olive Oil

Method

Bring the vegetable stock to the boil in a pot.
Add uncooked quinoa and stir through.
Once bubbling, cover the pot and reduce the heat to simmer the quinoa for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the quinoa is cooking, heat the olive oil on a pan and add the chopped garlic.
Cook the garlic until brown and aromatic.
After the twenty minutes, remove the lid from the quinoa pot and leave it to stand for 10 minutes to absorb the remaining stock.
Use a fork to fluff the quinoa and then transfer from the pot to the pan with the garlic.
Heat up the pan again and add the spinach and parmesan and stir thoroughly until the mix has been cooked through.
Quinoa can be eaten hot or cold but this particular dish is best served hot.
You could maybe enjoy it with a grilled chicken breast or salmon darn and some steamed greens.
It’s all about personal preference for your serving suggestion!

Cheat Treat – MYO Bounty Bites

A healthy lifestyle and diet is all about balance. Unless you have military discipline, it can be almost impossible to have a golden week of healthy meals and let’s be honest, you shouldn’t have to. Life is all about enjoying it and I think that if you really want that last slice of cake then just go for it. Why deny yourself these delectable pleasures in life?
Now, in saying that I’m not encouraging you to go and eat the whole packet of biscuits or anything like that but just to be mindful that there is nothing wrong with treating yourself.
This post is a recipe for a super sweet treat that will satisfy your sugar cravings but also help you stay on track if you are keeping up a healthy diet.
As with all my recipes, they are quick and easy to make and taste really nice. There is little effort involved with this one so try them out and see what you think. They are a nice Saturday or Sunday afternoon activity that you can enjoy when they’re done with a nice brew.
They store well so you can make up a batch and have them on-hand in the snack drawer for when those cheeky cravings creep up on you during the week too.
It’s hard to go wrong with these little guys 🙂

Ingredients

4 Tbsp. Honey
110 grams Dark Chocolate
1 Tsp. Vanilla Essence
5 Tbsp. Coconut Oil
2 cups Desiccated Coconut

Method

In a mixing bowl, add the coconut, honey, vanilla and coconut oil.
Mix it all together evenly to make a big white, coconuty paste.
Using your hands, take a chunk of the paste and start to roll into a ball, squeezing out any air to make it nice and compact.
Continue to do this until all the mix has been used up.
Lay the coconut bites out on a tray, cover with cling film and leave to set in the fridge for about an hour or until they have solidified.
When you’re happy with them, start to melt your chocolate in a bowl until it runs nice and thin.
Pop each coconut ball into the chocolate and cover evenly. Transfer to the tray you used earlier.
Continue to do this until all the bites have been chocolified.
When they’re all done, pop the tray back in the fridge for another while until the chocolate has cooled and set.
Admire your creation and enjoy their yummy goodness.

Homemade Fit Food – Granola

Granola is a really good contributor to a healthy diet – but only if its not loaded with sugar like so many brands available on the market now.
I remember thinking I was only brilliant having granola with my yogurt instead of cereal but it can pretty scary when you read the packet and see what’s actually in there.
So to save myself the bother, I experimented around in the kitchen instead and have started to make my own so I know exactly whats gone into it and I’m not loading up on hidden sugars.
Granola is one of those foods that you can keep versatile, there’s no set list of ingredients you have to abide by.
Nuts and seeds would be my main additions but that’s not to say you can’t use dried fruits among other ingredients, that’s just my personal preference.
Anyway, here is a quick breakdown of how I make my own granola. Hopefully it will inspire you to throw some of your own together for an energy filled breakfast.

Ingredients

1 cup Porridge Oats
1/4 cup Chopped Almonds
1/4 cup Pumpkin Seeds
1/4 cup mix of Chia, Flax and Sesame Seeds
1/2 cup Dried Goji Berries
1/4 cup Raisins/Sultanas
1/2 cup Honey

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 Degrees C.
Pour the porridge oats, almonds and all your seeds into a bowl and mix around.
On some greased parchment paper on an oven tray, pour out the oast and seed mix to make one layer.
Place the oven tray into the middle shelf of the oven and toast your mix for about 10-15 minutes or until the mix becomes golden brown.
Transfer your oat and seed mix back into a bowl and add the berries, raisins and honey.
Evenly coat the mix with the honey and spread back out onto a flat dish.
Leave to cool and set in the fridge for a couple of hours and then move your granola into an aitight container.

This will keep for a good few days and can be used to mix through some yogurt for a really yummy breakfast.

Homemade Fit Food – Peanut Butter Dip

This little winner is so simple to make and will help you keep on track with all the healthy changes you’ve been making.
Packed with protein and energy, this dip will fill you nicely before or after a workout or will wait quietly for you in the fridge for when you have a burst of craves.
Give it a lash and let me know what you reckon?!

Ingredients

½ cup (Low Fat) Greek Yogurt
¼ cup good quality Peanut Butter (crunchy is better in my opinion for this but up to you!)
½ Tbsp. Lemon Juice

Method

Not even a recipe guys, throw all 3 ingredients into the blender or Nutribullet or even use a bit of elbow grease and mix until even.
Chop up some fruit or veg or whatever you want to dip in and enjoy the yummy goodness 🙂

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Homemade Fit Food- Blueberry Power Muffins

The next instalment of my Fit Food Series are the little beauties I like to call Blueberry Power Muffins.
This Fit Food has a similar recipe to my Porridge Bread so if you’ve tried that you’ll know they’re cheap and cheerful to whack together.
My Power Muffins are packed with energy, protein and anti-oxidants so they’re well worth giving a go.
Have Fun!

Ingredients

1 x 500  ml cup Greek Style Yogurt
2 cup Porridge Oats (rinse out yogurt tub and fill twice with oats)
1 Tsp. Baking Soda
1 Tbsp. Stevia Sweetener
1 small punnet Fresh Blueberries
1 Tbsp. Chia Seeds
1 egg, beaten
Olive Oil Cooking Spray

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 Degrees C.
Spray a muffin tray with olive oil spray and set to one side.
In a large mixing bowl, add yogurt, baking soda and stevia sweetener and stir briskly until the mix starts to rise.
Pour oats in gradually and stir until fully covered by yogurt.
Add blueberries and beaten egg and continue to mix until you’ve created an even dough-like mixture.
Scoop out the mix bit by bit into the muffin cases until all the mix has been used up.
Sprinkle the chia seeds and some porridge oats over each muffin and push down with the back of a spoon so they’ll stick.
Pop the muffin tray in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes.’
They may need a little longer so judge this by how moist the dough in the middle of one muffin is until you’re happy they’re cooked though.
Once cooked, leave the muffins to cool on a wire rack for a few minutes.

These Power Muffins are great to throw in your lunch box or gym bag and have as a mid-morning or pre workout snack.
Leave a comment and let me know what you think 😉

Homemade Hummus

When making small changes to your diet to become healthier, another ideal food to add to the menu is Hummus. Hummus is mainly made from Chick Peas that are packed with protein, fibre and omega 3.
You can use it as a trusty condiment for snacks or as an alternative dip or side sauce for more substantial meals. One of the most well known ways to have hummus is with carrot batons but I also like to use it as an alternative to mayonnaise or butter on (porridge) bread, crackers, wraps. My favourite way to have it is with Falafel as a side sauce. The two are a match made in heaven.

You can also vary the flavours of hummus you have if you want to keep it interesting and enticing.
Flavours such as garlic & lemon, roast carrot, red pepper and my favourite, beetroot, are just some examples of how you can spice it up.

Here are the basic instructions to make it and I’ll include some tips on how to add the extra flavours further down.

Ingredients

1 tin Chick Peas, rinsed
2 cloves Garlic, peeled
Juice of 1 Lemon
2 Tbsp. Tahini
Pinch of Ground Cumin
1.5 Tbsp. Olive Oil
3 Tbsp. Water
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

Simply combine all these ingredients into a food processor, blender or Nutribullet
and whizz until you reach the consistency you want.
You may need to add a tipple more of water or olive oil so keep going until you’re happy with how it looks.
Do a taste test and see if you want to add a bit more seasoning, its totes up to you how you want it to taste!

If you want to mix it up and make some beautifully coloured and flavoured hummus to show off, the recipe is easy to add to.

For roast carrot, pepper or beetroot hummus, simply chop up your chosen vegetable into small chunks, spread out on a baking tray and cook for 10-15 minutes.
After you have made your base hummus, add the roast veg to the mixer and whizz it through.

For lemon & garlic hummus or sundried tomato and basil, again just chop up your desired ingredients and add them to the base hummus to combine.

Once you’ve made the base recipe, its hard to go wrong with adding different flavours so have some fun with it and enjoy the end result!

The Salad Bar – Tomato & Chick Pea Salad

This is such a good On-The-Go salad to have made up or it can be used as a side dish to a main meal.It takes 5 minutes to put together and tastes fab. Its super filling and packed with fibre too.

Ingredients

1 tin Chick Peas
6 small – medium Tomatoes
1 Tbsp. Turmeric
1 Tbsp. Cracked Black Pepper
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Sprig of Fresh Parsley

Method

Empty the tin of chick peas into a colander and rinse thoroughly.
Leave to one side and let the excess water dry off.
Chop the tomatoes into quarters and add to a large mixing bowl.
Finely chop the fresh parsley and add to the bowl along with the pepper and turmeric.
Add the chick peas and the olive oil to the bowl now and then mix it all up so that your seasoning and oil covers the
tomatoes and chick peas evenly.
Easy Peasy!

Homemade Fit Food – Granola Bites

Another bangin’ treat bursting with energy and flavour, these granola bites are as quick to make as they will
be to eat. As usual, the optional extras can be whatever you fancy or whatever you have handy in the pantry.
They are also a no-bake recipe so they’re ideal for those who are time poor. I actually put them together in the time it took to boil the kettle and make a cuppa.

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Ingredients

1 1/2 cups (toasted) porridge oats
1 cup raisins or sultanas or 50/50
1/2 cup Almonds, chopped
1/2 cup Hazelnuts
1/2 cup Mixed Seeds
1/4 cup Peanut Butter
1/4 cup Honey
(any optional extras e.g. chocolate chips, walnuts, goji berries, dried cranberries, peanuts etc)

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Method

If you are toasting your oats, preheat the oven to 180 Degrees C and pour the oats onto some greased parchment paper.
Put the paper on an oven tray and pop in the oven once preheated for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
If you are not toasting the oats, skip to the following step:
Pour oats, hazelnuts, almonds, raisins/sultanas and mixed seeds into a large mixing bowl.
On a low heat, warm both the honey and peanut butter together in a pot and mix together.
Once combined, pour the mixture into the mixing bowl and mix all of the ingredients evenly.
Add the chocolate chips at the end and mix through (the warm honey and peanut butter will start to melt the choc-chips if you add them too early).
Once you’re happy with the mixture, line an appropriate sized baking dish with parchment paper and transfer the mix onto the paper in the dish.
Press firmly down on the mix to fill up any cracks and gaps and smooth out evenly.
Keep pressing until it’s fully compressed.
Cover the dish with cling film and pop in the fridge to chill for a couple of hours.
*After about an hour, I melted some dark chocolate in a pot and poured it over the top of the bar for extra yumminess.
Once fully chilled and set, remove from the dish and cut up your bites into whatever size you like.
I did about 1 inch X 1 inch so I could make loads and share them out.
These guys will be good to store for a few days as there is very little to them.
Keep stored in the fridge in a lunchbox to make them last.

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