Cocoa-Hazelnut & Raspberry Balls

IMG_20170613_181509_507Well, I promised a recipe using the cocoa-hazelnut butter I reviewed a couple of days ago, and here it is!

Today we have a quick and easy recipe for a snack that you can keep in your fridge for times of need. These little snack balls have a rich chocolate-hazelnut, and sweet-tangy raspberry taste. The texture is almost creamy too, due to the oats mashed together with the nut butter. In fact, these remind me of a healthier after-dinner truffle…

Ingredients (for 16 balls)

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup hazelnut butter
  • 1/8  cup maple syrup
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 80g frozen raspberries, defrosted in the microwave and mashed to a puree
  • 1tbsp chia seeds
  • 1tbsp almond milk
  • 2tbsp cacao

 

Method

  • In a large bowl combine the oats, chia seeds, 1tbsp cacao, and cinnamon. To this add the nut butter, and the maple syrup, stirring well to combine. Add in the almond milk and beat together well. Now beat in the raspberry puree, until a soft dough-like mixture forms.
  • Using a tablespoon measurer create 16 balls. Roll them to a smooth texture. Empty the other tbsp. of cacao into a dish, and roll each ball in the cacao.
  • Store in the fridge for 3-5 days in an airtight tub. Enjoy!

 

Meridian Pistachio, Cocoa-PB and Cocoa-Hazelnut Butters…

IMG_20170506_071355_428Several weeks ago now (okay, bordering on months) I was sent three amazing new nut butters from Meridian. I planned to create recipes with all of them- however you’ll only be seeing recipes for the last two any time soon. Because I ate all of the pistachio jar. However, one empty jar and two half-empty jars does mean I feel qualified to give a pretty accurate review, before we get down to the recipes. Keep your eyes peeled for those in the next few days …

 

Pistachio

I was fairly hesitant to open this one, mainly because I felt like it would be my least favourite. Turned out to be my favourite. It’s a greenish hue, finely ground, and with some oil separation before you stir it (all good nut butters do this, due to the absence of stabilisers, and more nuts in place of them- nuts of course containing oil, which separates out etc etc ). How did I use a whole jar so fast? Mainly by eating it straight off of the spoon, but also dolloped onto porridge or shredded wheat, or mixed with thick Greek yoghurt, frozen raspberries, and honey or maple syrup (that last one is phenomenal). Pistachio butter has a slightly sweet, subtly nutty flavour, with a little saltiness- which you wouldn’t expect from the smell (it doesn’t really smell of anything). Its fairly runny in consistency, and so I feel like it would also work well in marinades for meats such as lamb, or made into a dressing for a couscous salad with pomegranate seeds, orange, and dried fruit in it. I plan on buying another jar very very soon, because I had a lot of recipe plans for this one.

 

Cocoa-Peanut Butter

Possibly my least favourite, not because its bad in any way, but simply because the other two are so amazing. If you love your classic peanut butter, and don’t like to veer too far from this, then a chocolate-flavoured peanut butter is right up your alley. It very thick, making it great straight off of the spoon, and on cereal or porridge, but it also makes it ideal spread onto toast, or a bagel, blended into a smoothie, or used in baking. I’d add it to muffins for sure. Think a grown-up-reeces-cup. Not sickly in any way shape or form, but instead a rich cocoa flavour, with a naturally nutty undertone.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Butter

This came a VERY close second to the pistachio butter. It does taste Ferrero roche-esque too (Instagram followers: you really wanted to know that). This nut butter can be used in all of the ways the cocoa-peanut butter can, but is slightly runnier in texture, and tends to separate out a bit more due to the higher oil content of hazelnuts. This also means it drizzles onto ice cream (and nice cream) really well. The texture is of very finely ground hazelnuts, so its closer to smooth than crunchy. Its also slightly thicker than the straight up hazelnut butter Meridian make, which I liked. Again, really rich cocoa flavour to it. Meridian definitely do chocolate and nuts well.

 

There you have it, my review of the three newest Meridian nut butters. I’d recommend each and every one of them, but as I think the cocoa-hazelnut will generally have the most appeal to people (the pistachio one isn’t as sweet, and is probably more of a love/hate flavour), then I’d say try and get your hands on that one first…

 

Cake Stories: Jesmond’s equivalent to Heaven.

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If you live in Newcastle then chances are you have heard of Cake Stories, on Brentwood Avenue. For my final year of uni I have lived literally seconds from this place, and for a good month (I like to change this up regularly) it was probably my favourite creative writing spot. Tea, cake, creative writing. What more do you need?

Cake stories is adorable. Literally, it makes you want to go ‘awwww!’ every time you walk in. It’s not fluffy and pink by any strength of the imagination, just cozy and welcoming. There is a cabinet of cakes laid on trays at the back of the shop, each cake cut into a square and decorated elegantly. They once made unicorn cake, which I am told was very colourful, but I unfortunately didn’t get to try it. The staff are more than happy to recommend you a cake, because trust me: you will struggle to decide. I recommend the Maple-Pecan, the Red Velvet, Zesty Lemon, Cherry Bakewell, or Mocha. That sounds a lot of options, but there are many, many more than that. They make cake sundaes too. And you can get ice cream with anything. Anything. Cake Stories also serve breakfasts and lunches, including avocado on toast or beans on toast, which are two of my personal favourite options when eating out for breakfast or brunch.

Teas. Cake Stories does tea really well. Try the Cherry-Almond Rooibos (I think that’s what it was called, whatever it was, it was delicious). Expect a cute cup and tea pot, and loose leaf tea- and milk in a miniature milk bottle too. Coffees taste great, and I recommend the cappuccino. Before I leave Newcastle I am determined to get myself an iced coffee from here too, as I hear they are extremely good.

If you can then get yourself to Cake Stories on an evening, then this is when you should go. Most evenings they are open until 9:30pm. At this point the fairy-lights and bulbs hanging from the ceiling are on, and everything becomes 100x cosier- from the massive shelf of tea jars, to the mismatched vintage-y furniture, to the smell of cakes and coffee. A lot of students seem to bring work here on an evening for a bit more of a relaxed atmosphere, or dump the work and come to catch up with friends after a long day. But in-case you can’t get a table, they do cake to go, so there’s really no excuse not to try it.

Poetry you need to read. It could convert you…

1496929404558Hello there readers! So, its been a while since I wrote a post here, what with final year hand-ins. More importantly, following hand-ins I made the decision to take nearly two weeks away from IG and blogging, because on Sunday I leave Newcastle forever (only joking, I’ll be back), and move home to Yorkshire to begin life as a working girl (that’s right, I’ve signed my life away starting in September). The weeks I had left, I understandably wanted to spend with my amazing friends, who are also all buggering off home in a few days. What else have I been up to? Well, if you read this blog often you’ll know that my degree was English Literature with Creative Writing, that I specialise in poetry, and that I always have a book on me. For the past few weeks I’ve been living in a bubble of coffee, reading, and poetry writing (lots of book reviews coming soon). And much as I knew I should be getting some recipes up here, I also knew I didn’t have any ingredients for what I wanted to make -I’m winding down my cupboards so won’t be buying anything in until I reach Bradford. All I wanted to do was read and write. And then I realised: this is my bloody blog and I’ll write what I want. And so today we are talking poetry, and recipes are on hold until I get home.

A lot of people hate poetry. But, poetry is one of the most powerful literary forms out there. Poetry is dangerous. Look at the Romantic era radicals and their poetry. Look at poetry of witness now, and political or spoken work poetry. One of my lecturers once said that poetry holds us in a little bubble of the present; it’s more alive than prose because you experience things so much more vividly for being held in one moment. You’re carried along in that little bubble, and things don’t have to be 100% clear in poems- its about a feeling you get from them. You have to leave a good poem or collection changed in some way. I’ll write a whole post on this at some point. Today, I want to introduce you to some collections, and some poets I think you will love. Some are classic, some are modern, some are to be spoken, some are to be read, some are female, some are male. I hope you find at least one you like.

 

 

Rupi Kaur- Milk & Honey

A fellow poetry student recommended this to me, and I fell in love with it. I read it cover to cover in one sitting. I love collections that tell a story, and this definitely does that. Each poem is short and I’m sure you will find at least one that resonates with you. If you’re a feminist, get yourself a copy asap and thank me lat.

 

Andrew McMillan- Physical

This was the first poetry collection that made me want to be a poet. I fell head over heels for this collection. Its about a homosexual relationship and the male body. It is beautiful. It is painful. It is a must-read. I met Macmillan at a reading in Leeds and actually forgot how to speak for a good five minutes. Its also a novelty to hear poetry in a Yorkshire accent, if you fancy listening to his readings online.

 

Staying Alive anthology (numerous poets)

If you want to read a few different poets in one purchase, then I can’t recommend this enough. If you’re new to poetry then you can flick through and find poets you like to follow up on a bit more. This anthology is published by Bloodaxe, and its contemporary poems on the reality of living in unreal times. Continue reading “Poetry you need to read. It could convert you…”

Easy Banana Protein Pancakes

(which actually taste good- because we all know they usually don’t!)

As the weather gets warmer, I sometimes find myself not wanting porridge for breakfast. I feel such a traitor saying that, but it is undeniably true. And so about a week ago I began a search for some breakfast alternatives. Overnight oats are a great option (loads of recipes on this blog), I tried a breakfast trifle using lucuma , omelettes are nice and light, shredded wheat is good- but then came these pancakes, and I am now converted. IMG_20170531_083814_327

I’ve tried egg and banana pancakes before and they were -quite frankly- absolutely shite. In no way can you simply mix banana and egg together and magically have that give birth to a pancake. I also found they didn’t fill me up at all. These pancakes do use a base of banana and egg, but we’re adding in oats to keep you full, protein powder to also up the satiety level and help build those muscles (I need them to carry several 1kg tubs of PB home from Holland & Barratt’s, and according to Spark Nutrition’s recipe calculator, for the recipe as it is above you’ll be getting 24g of protein) , some baking powder for fluffiness, and  “cinnamon” for some more sweet dessert-like taste.

Okay, they aren’t your momma’s pancakes, but I have been making these at least three times a week with different combinations of toppings (see recipe), and I’m sure you’ll be hooked too (they taste way better than the classic egg-and-banana sin of a pancake). They’re quick, can be made ahead and reheated, and are a lovely, less stodgy alternative on a lazy summer’s morning. Be sure to pile on some toppings and tag me in you IG pictures…

 

Ingredients

  • 1 large, ripe banana
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1 heaped tbsp. protein powder (I use the Pulsin Pea Protein, and this is approx. 10g of the product)
  • 1/2tsp baking powder
  • Cinnamon, to taste
  • Cooking spray

Continue reading “Easy Banana Protein Pancakes”

Egg, Asparagus, Broccoli & Pepper Couscous (fast, easy, and healthy!)

IMG_20170516_212211_450The past few weeks have been a bit busy for me, what with my final essays for third year being handed in tomorrow, and completing my poetry portfolio to hand in a couple of weeks ago- something I’ve spent nearly a year working on and had to be pried away from me. I know that this time of year us students tend to just pick up food as we go, and though I am always ready to indulge my love of food, it can become a little bit expensive. It can become a LOT expensive. And since I’ve been spending a lot of time in a local cake shop recently, and I would rather spend my money on cake (its really good cake), this was becoming a bit of a problem. This is the kind of lunch that provides a solution: its fast, its pretty no-brain-power-required, it tastes great, and it will make you feel good. You can also then spend more money on cake.

Swap in whatever veggies you want/have. Here I’ve used broccoli (I always have that in), pepper (I was finishing up a three pack), and asparagus (on offer in the market, and coincidentally one of my favourite vegetables, so I was using up a massive bunch of the stuff). The idea is to keep this cheap, so don’t go buy mega-expensive ingredients. Couscous is something I feel like every student should have in, as are eggs. Both are things you can make multiple meals out of, and so are invaluable.

Continue reading “Egg, Asparagus, Broccoli & Pepper Couscous (fast, easy, and healthy!)”

Healthy Breakfast Trifle (single serve!)

IMG_20170515_071546_420First things first: Hello! Its been a while hasn’t it? This is the first recipe I’ve posted in what seems like forever, but since my final EVER university essays are nearly complete, I can start recipe developing again. Beginning with this recipe for a breakfast trifle/overnight oats hybrid…

About two days ago I was sent some lucuma powder from Seven Hills Wholefoods (I’ve been calling it lumaca for about two years now- I clearly don’t read things properly), and told that it’s apparently popular in ice cream in South America, and it also has a custard-like flavour. I was sold on custard-like. However, I have found that if you just straight-up use lucuma, it tastes nothing like custard. You have to add vanilla. Once I figured that out, a breakfast trifle was inevitable. We have a cheat’s apple and raspberry compote (takes five minutes, literally), a “custard” overnight oats layer, and then a layer of Greek yoghurt mixed with maple syrup, dusted in cocoa powder and topped with raspberries.  Looks like a dessert, but you can eat it for breakfast. Eat real trifle for breakfast if you’re into that kind of thing, but I took the time to type this, and these are more likely to keep you going until lunch, so at least give it a try. This recipe is one of your ‘5 a day’, the Greek yoghurt provides some protein, the oats provide some slow release carbohydrates, and it tastes like something worth getting out of bed for. Continue reading “Healthy Breakfast Trifle (single serve!)”