Category Archives: Recipes

Preparing butternut (for beginners)

Don’t let the tough-looking exterior of butternut put you off cooking with this fabulous squash.

Butternut is delicious, versatile and packed with nutrients.

Choosing your butternut….

In order to get the most out of your butternut, you need to pick the right one. The rule of thumb when choosing a butternut is to go for one that has a long slender neck and a smaller round base. The neck has a solid core of butternut and the base houses the seeds – the more neck you get, the more butternut you get.

You want your butternut to be fairly heavy and firm to the touch. If it’s light and feels a bit spongy, it’s not worth investing in.

Slice and dice

For most recipes, I keep the skin on (to increase the fibre content), so please make sure to use a sturdy sharp knife and a board that won’t slide (place it on a tea towel for grip). If you do peel the squash (to make a mash for example), simply use a potato peeler.

Here are my tips to prepare butternut for cooking:

  • Give the squash a good scrub and dry. Keep the skin on.
  • Cut a thin slice off each end to remove the top and bottom.
  • Next, cut in half at the point where the top slender part starts to bulge. You’ll now have a narrow cylindrical top half and the rounded bottom half.IMG_3001
  • Cut each half vertically down the middle to be left with four quarters.Butternut 3
  • Use a spoon to remove the seeds from the rounded quarters and cut into equal sized chunks.Butternut 4

Now cook your butternut – roast, steam, boil or barbeque whole (double-wrap in tinfoil and place in hot coals, turning regularly).

Butternut is versatile and matches well with most herbs (especially mint, sage, rosemary and thyme) and spices (coriander, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, chilli) and can also be used for sweet baking.

Try this Autumn Spiced Butternut Soup for an easy, delicious butternut dish.

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3 ingredients, one great treat

Healthy Dark Chocolate Truffles (dairy free)

There are plenty of healthy truffle recipes out there, but this is one of my favourites. The dairy element of the traditional truffle (i.e. cream) is replaced by avocado, elevating this delicious treat to a healthy snack!Dark chocolate truffle ingredients

Besides the heart-healthy oils in the avocado, this recipe uses ground nuts to add texture and more nutrients to the mix. I use toasted hazelnuts as they add a lovely depth of flavour and allow these nutrient-dense balls to give Nutella or Ferrero Rocher a run for their money!

What is fabulous about these truffles is that there are only three main ingredients, but they pack a significant nutritional punch:

Avocados are rich in vitamins C, E and B5, folate, choline, magnesium and potassium. Half an avocado can also give you up to 13g of dietary fibre.

Hazelnuts are great sources of vegetable protein and vitamin E. Using almonds will up the magnesium and walnuts will add an omega 3 boost.

Dark chocolate is a good source of iron and magnesium, as well as copper and manganese. Most brands do include sugar, so while there is no need to add any sweetener to this recipe, do bear in mind the sweetness if you need to watch your sugar intake. On the positive side, the good fats, fibre and protein provided by the avocados and nuts will ensure that the sugar is slowly released into your blood stream, making these truffles a better bet for an afternoon snack or after dinner treat.

These truffles are very quick and easy to make and all the mashing and rolling is brilliant fun for any little helpers you may have.

Dairy free chocolate truffles


Makes 15 truffles


  • 160g good quality dark chocolate
  • ½ medium avo (ripe)
  • 1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts (or almonds, or walnuts)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional flavourings: ground ginger, ground cinnamon, chai spices, ground cardamom, rose water


  1. Break the chocolate into pieces and melt in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water
  2. Pulse the nuts in a food processor until they are gritty (you can make them finer for a smoother textured truffle)
  3. Mash the avocado into a smooth paste
  4. Once the chocolate has melted, remove it from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes before adding the avocado, nuts and vanilla extract
  5. At this point, you can add any flavourings if you like. I tend to divide the mix in two.  Add about 1 teaspoon of ground ginger or cinnamon to half the mix and stir mix through. You can add more to taste, but the texture will change slightly based on the amount of dry ingredient you add, so work carefully
  6. Allow the mixture(s) to firm up in the fridge for 15-20 minutes
  7. Take about a tablespoon of mixture and roll into truffles with the palms of your hands. If you have spilt the batch you can make alternative shapes to differentiate between your flavours (small round or triangulated logs work with this recipe)
  8. Roll in cocoa powder or desiccated coconut to finish (another way to differentiate between flavours)
  9. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for a week (if they last that long)



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Best of Both Worlds Chocolate Shake

This chocolate ‘milkshake’ is one of those perfect creations that feels like a treat, but is actually a super nutrition boost (aka a guilt-free chocolate shake, hooray!).

Healthy chocolate shake.

Healthy chocolate shake.

Loaded with magnesium, potassium, antioxidants and protein, it is a powerhouse of essential nutrients. This gem is a perfect post-workout smoothie or even a delicious breakfast-on-the-move. It is also a secret weapon in the war on picky eaters – I defy any child (or adult) opposed to spinach to turn down this indulgent shake!

Cocoa powder makes this smoothie. Not just for the chocolately flavour, or because it provides a ‘cover’ for the raw spinach, but because cocoa is absolutely loaded with magnesium and zinc – critical minerals for good health.

Baby spinach brings a little more magnesium to the party, along with a fibre, B vitamins and the antioxidants vitamins C, A and E. These lovely little leaves get blended into a chocolatey swirl, leaving no trace of their green goodness to the naked eye.

The frozen banana in this recipe provides the sweet and cold ice cream consistency (alongside a potassium boost) that allows this shake stand proudly alongside it’s dairy-based comrades.

For a final flourish, the tablespoon of almond butter provides a protein hit which will keep your blood sugar balanced (and provide yet more magnesium and vitamin E). Cashew or peanut butter would also work as substitutes.

Ingredients (makes one large shake)

  • 1 frozen banana*
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach
  • 1-2 tablespoons cocoa powder (I prefer Green & Black’s)
  • 2 cups filtered water (or nut milk)
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • pinch of cinnamon (optional)

Place all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. You  may want to adjust the liquid to your desired consistency. Enjoy!

Choc Spin 1

* I keep a stash of sliced, frozen bananas in the freezer. Make sure to use bananas that are quite ripe.




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Chia 1

Something to Chia about?

The word ‘superfood’ gets bandied about fairly easily and usually heralds the entrance of an obscure food substance from a remote part of the world that we now must eat to be healthy! I have always been a bit adverse to this way of approaching healthy eating.

For starters, I firmly believe that a healthy diet is one that includes a variety of fresh products, ideally as close to locally sourced as possible. The fact of the matter is, a lot of the in-vogue ‘superfoods’ touted by the media  don’t actually offer anything superior to the foods we have access to on a daily basis.

Chia 1

Whole organic chia seeds

So, given the above, why am I writing about chia seeds? Well, my initial reluctance to use them stemmed from the fact that they are grown and shipped in from South America. That’s a lot of food miles and I wasn’t sure that more local products couldn’t provide the same nutritional benefits that these little black seeds could. However, over the last 6 months, I’ve looking into chia a little more closely.  Yes, the seeds are flown a long way and yes, for the most part you can get the same balance of nutrients from other food sources. But what chia provides is a super-boost of nutrients that very few foods contain in one package. Here are the facts about chia seeds:

  1. Chia seeds offer a complete source of protein. That means they have all essential amino acids – very few plant sources can boast the full amino acid spectrum. This makes chia a very good source of protein for vegans, vegetarians and those looking to lower their reliance on meat and dairy products.
  2. They are an amazing source of calcium. Just 28g of chia seeds will give you 18% of your RDA. They are also excellent source of zinc, phosphorus and manganese.
  3. Chia seeds are full of fibre. Again, just 28g will give you 42% of your daily fibre needs! Fibre is brilliant for regulating blood sugar levels, detoxifying the system and keeping your heart healthy.
  4. They provide over five times more omega 3 fatty acids than salmon. Another win for vegetarians and vegans! These tiny little seeds are an omega 3 powerhouse. Omega 3 is a vital nutrient often missing from modern diets, but is essential for good hormone regulation, brain development and is highly anti-inflammatory.
  5. Chia seeds are versatile. I have used them in a number of recipes to great success – breads, smoothies, porridge, muesli and cookies. For vegans or those allergic to eggs, ground chia seeds can also be soaked with water and used as an egg substitute for baking.

So, you can see why I’ve been converted to a chia champion! I find that chia seeds are a wonderful addition to a healthy diet. If you haven’t tried chia seeds before, here is something I whipped up this morning that can get you started.

Refreshing Chia Berry Boost Smoothie (makes 2 large smoothies)Chia Berry Smoothie Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon organic oat flakes
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1 cup nut milk (or coconut water or filtered water)
  • 1.5 cups frozen berries
  • 6-7 mint leaves, roughly torn
  • 2 big handfuls baby spinach



  1. Mix the chia seeds and oats in a bowl with the cup of water. Allow to sit for 15 minutes.
  2. Once the chia seeds and oats are soaked (and the chia seeds have swollen), add all the ingredients into the blender (spinach leaves first) and blend until smooth.

This smoothie provides an awesome nutrient boost – a great way to start the day or a recovery smoothie after exercising. The mix of ingredients gives a vitamin, mineral, fibre and antioxidant boost that is delicious and refreshing. Enjoy!

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