I’m a big fan of anything that helps make my life easier in the kitchen and so I was delighted to be asked to do a collaborative post with Panasonic and a bit of a shout out to their new range of bread makers. I have a bread maker of my own and I’m not sure whether I love it more for the ease with which I can whip up a loaf or the fabulous smell that fills the house when I use it…
There’s something about brunch that I rather love. It’s a bit more exciting than breakfast – a spot of Champers in my orange juice? Ooh, why not?
And it’s rather less formal and intimidating than lunch don’t you think? No need for starters and… well, courses in general. It’s perfectly acceptable to just lay out a feast of your favourite foodstuffs and dig in!
So here’s what I’d like you to do (hopefully you’re used to my unreasonable demands by now); I’d like you to invite a few chums over one free Sunday and serve them a sumptuous, luxurious brunch. It’s ok – I’ll tell you exactly what to do to make it perfect 🙂
The whole experience should start the moment your guests come through the door. Imagine being welcomed by the wonderful aromas of freshly baked bread and brewing coffee… If you have a bread maker, get this going in plenty of time before your guests arrive so you can present it triumphantly, still warm and just waiting to be drenched in butter, drizzled with honey or covered with jam.
No bread maker? Take a look at these bread makers by Panasonic and keep your Sunday brunch stress free but croissant-full…
Minimum fuss, maximum impact – that’s what we’re looking for here. A simple table cloth, the papers spread out for people to peruse and plates and cutlery left in piles so that everyone can help themselves. If you want everyone to feel relaxed (which is an absolute MUST for Sunday brunch) then you need to be relaxed too. Keep things easy peasy and you’ll be breezy! (Too much? Sorry…)
I know this is a food blog, but today there will be no recipes. This is just about the enjoyment of good food and great company without any of the stress of preparation. Here then are a few ideas for simple but delicious eats for your brunch guests…
Fresh fruit – slices of melon, bowls of strawberries or just a big fruit salad
Pastries – a few favourites from your local bakery
Assorted breads and preserves – perhaps a crusty loaf, some croissants or some lovely muffins served with jam, honey or perhaps a spot of lemon curd….mmmmm
Eggs & Bacon – I can’t bring myself to leave these weekend breakfast staples out! A big bowl of buttery scrambled eggs and a plate overflowing with crispy bacon. Hard to resist!
As suggested in my opening, the beauty of brunch is that a spot of booze can be added to the mix without too many raised eyebrows 🙂 My brunch faves are bucks fizz (a combination of orange juice and Champagne) and Bloody Mary. The latter can be tricky to get just right but I love this recipe by Felicity Cloake.
As well as this, then a pot of hot tea, coffee or if you’re feeling particularly naughty, creamy hot chocolate.
Now go – bake, brunch and be happy!
This is the time of year when we all look at our waistlines and sigh (if you’re reading this and thinking ‘not me’ – then lucky you!)
It’s the time when we give up all those things we enjoy in the hope that THIS will be the year that we attain our body goals. The last of the Christmas chocolates and booze finally gone, we fill our cupboards with fresh veg, seeds, perhaps some coconut water or low fat yoghurts as a special treat…
I’m a big believer in starting the day right. A healthy breakfast is great motivation to stay strong and stick to the straight and narrow. Let’s face it, if you’ve had a big, greasy full english for brekkie, then it’s very easy to write off the whole day as far as healthy eating goes and to put off the start of the diet until tomorrow.
These breakfasts don’t work miracles but they are quick and easy to make and they’ll give you a spring in your step and a start to the day which sets you in the right direction.
A boiled egg. Such a simple concept but with SO many cooking variations out there. For me, I add my pierced egg to a small pan of boiling water and at the same time put a slice of wholemeal toast in.
4.5 minutes later, out comes the egg, to be eaten with buttered toast soldiers dipped in the still runny yellow yolk and a little salt and pepper. Pretty much perfection as breakfasts go.
Filling up on a few portions of your five a day is pretty satisfying, both in terms of appetite and(perhaps more importantly) the rather smugness-inducing knowledge that you’ve been good to your body.
It’s not just your body that will feel better though, who can help feeling a little bit happy in the presence of the wonderful colours and smells of fresh fruit?
Here are a few ideas to get your started…
There are some great varieties on sale – check out the options at your local supermarket or health food shop. Mixed with some fresh berries and creamy natural yoghurt, this is a great way to fill up on nutrients and to fill up till lunch.
Alternatively, have a go at making your own granola, filled with your favourite things. Here’s an example to get your started 🙂
Talk about unprocessed, right? No kitchen skills required, no cooking or long list of ingredients. Just beautiful, fresh fruit, full of goodness and absolutely delicious.
Grapefruit is one of my favourites. I always used to add sugar but one day decided to try it without and now find it tastier ‘au natural’.
Why not try some beautiful, juicy melon or mango?
Some sliced pineapple, some papaya with a squeeze of lime juice or even just a good old banana?
There is a world of possibility when you start adding things to toast. Marmalade, jam, Marmite – obvs. But here are a few other ideas to keep things interesting…
Banana and peanut butter
Mashed avocado with a squeeze of lemon
Nothing ground breaking – just a few of the healthier breakfasts that I enjoy and hopefully a bit of inspiration to brighten up your morning routine.
Here’s to us all achieving our perfect bodies this year! 🙂
The great thing about flapjacks is that despite the fact that they’re clearly a yummy little treat; sweet and gooey like a slice of cake, they’re made from oats and so they somehow seem really rather healthy. To be clear, I’m not saying that they are (in fact, to do so would be to completely ignore the artery clogging amounts of butter and the tooth rotting levels of sugar and syrup..) – but it’s certainly easier to maintain the illusion with flapjack than with a big slab of chocolate cake.
Apple flapjacks are frankly even more virtuous. They’ve got one of your five a day in them for goodness sakes! They’re practically a health food. So what I’m saying is, in this month of over-indulgence, these flapjacks are a little something which you can enjoy without too much guilt. It’s nearly Christmas after all!
Gotta taste for apples? I’m here for you…
So, Summer is creeping slowly and frankly, rainily (is that a word??) to our doorstep once more and I for one have started the annual ‘oh lord, I’d better start eating a bit better so I can fit in those shorts’ thoughts. Not only that, but I live in endless cycles, of ‘I must eat more healthily’ followed by ‘oh, I’m too tired, I don’t care – I’m getting pizza‘. I actually LOVE fruit and veg so I really have very little excuse not to get my five-a-day, and yet… somehow I very often don’t!
My ‘Five Ways to Five a Day’ series attempts to offer a few friendly tips on how we can all make life a little easier and a little healthier for ourselves. Plus, it’s my opportunity to present to you my FIRST ever vlog – you have no idea what technical hoops I (and my patient hubby) had to jump through, manoeuvre around, upload and reformat…
So, without further ado, I bring to you, Smoothie Packs – and I’m not talking facials here…
Five smoothie packs, so that you have a quick, healthy start to the day from Monday to Friday. No muss, no fuss.
The five smoothies that I’ve chosen were aimed to use the same selection of fruits so that you’re not going out and buying a million fruits and letting loads go to waste. The great thing with smoothie packs though, is you can just chuck in what you fancy!
Top Tip: to get extra goodness in there, why not pop in a handful of green leaves, like spinach or kale?
There’s something about a smoothie that makes me feel pretty saintly – even the ones that are actually filled with ice cream and syrup! I think it’s the coolness and flavours of fresh fruit. You just know it’s doing you good. 🙂
This one is a real taste of Summer. It takes the flavours of a Pina Colada and turns it into something suitable for breakfast (not that I would ever want to discourage you from drinking pina coladas at breakfast too!). I had some this morning, using an old, tired pineapple that was going brown and would otherwise have been headed for the bin. In a smoothie, its ripe, juicy deliciousness was able to shine through. Add in a splash of creamy coconut milk and you’ve got yourself a tasty, refreshing (and pretty healthy!) start to the day.
Want to know more about pineapples, their history AND just how darn good they are for you? Take a look at this great article by Helen Nichols at Well-Being Secrets.
(or ‘Pina Coloothie’ as I like to call it…)
You will need:
300 g pineapple (peeled and chopped)
100 g ice cubes
100 ml coconut milk*
*I use the low fat version – plenty creamy enough for me
If you want to add a splash of rum then it certainly wouldn’t go amiss! Possibly not for breakfast though – unless you’re expecting a really bad day….
There’s something rather smugly satisfying about eating granola. It doesn’t matter what’s actually in it, you just feel like you’re being very good to yourself. Let me tell you, if you’re eating granola that you’ve made with your own fair hands, then this satisfaction is multiplied tenfold! That’s partly because frankly, it tastes way better than the shop bought stuff and partly because you know exactly what’s in it and what good it’s doing you.
This recipe is loosely based on ‘Andy Fairfield’s Granola’ from Nigella’s book Feast. I wanted to make it full of tropical flavours so each mouthful would taste like a Summer holiday. Eat with a splash of milk, or with natural yoghurt and fresh fruit – or just greedily by the handful 🙂
You will need:
450 g rolled oats
100 g sunflower seeds
150 g sesame seeds
175 g peach compote
2 tsp ground ginger
100 g golden syrup
4 tbs runny honey
100 g light brown sugar
100 g macadamia nuts
150 g whole natural almonds
100 g dessicated coconut
1 tsp maldon salt
2 tbs melted coconut oil
100 g dried mango
100 g dried pineapple
100 g chopped dried apricots
This is probably one of the easiest smoothies you could make, so if you’re a smoothie newbie then it’s a good place to start. There are endless combos that you can try, but today we’re keeping it simple and staying classic.
You will need:
1 frozen chopped banana
1/2 pint milk
1 tbs honey
Why not top your smoothie with a handful of granola or maybe some shavings of chocolate. Perhaps a few chopped nuts? Or if you’re feeling really naughty, then a dollop of vanilla ice cream never goes amiss.
If you liked this one, you’re going to LOVE my other smoothie recipes. Go on – check them out!
Please share your fave smoothies in the comments – and if you like this one then share it with your chums!