Banana & Nutella Pancakes (healthy, cheap & easy!)

wp-1488111400372.jpgIt’s nearly Pancake Day!! Even if I don’t go out for pancakes (a LOT of cafés and restaurants seem to do Pancake Day up here in Newcastle), or even if I don’t actually get around to making Pancakes on Shrove Tuesday (Tuesdays are busy days for me), I always HAVE to have pancakes at some point on the run up to this day. However, I find pancakes don’t usually fill me up for long, and so I wanted to create a recipe that was healthy, filling, simple, inexpensive, and delicious. Because lets face it, those “pancakes” that are just egg and banana are pretty damn gross. These though, are fluffy, soft, and definitely pancakes.

We’ve added in another few ingredients than banana and egg here- including some blended up oats for low GI energy release and “fluffiness”, vanilla for sweetness, almond milk for creaminess, cinnamon to balance blood sugar and add some warmth, and – of course- some “Nutella”. Though I’m actually using Jim Jam’s healthier alternative, of a hazelnut- chocolate spread. Seriously, I prefer this to Nutella. It’s still got a rich cocoa – hazelnut flavour, but it isn’t as sickly. However, I wouldn’t say no to a bit of the original either if it was kicking around in my flat, so don’t feel you have to go out of your way to get hold of this.

Let’s get cracking…


Ingredients (makes 6 small pancakes, or 3 large, which is one serving):

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 banana (a RIPE one- which is when they begin to get a few brown spots on them at the very least)
  • Cinnamon, to taste
  • 1/2tsp vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1 heaped tbsp Jim Jam’s Hazelnut Chocolate spread , or Nutella (or, you know, abandon measuring this- it is Pancake Day…)



  1. Into a blender or food processor place all but the Nutella and half of the banana. Blend until a batter forms
  2. Bring a pan sprayed with cooking oil up to a medium-high heat, and then dollop the mixture in to create your pancakes, flipping each pancake over and cooking the other side once small bubbles appear on the surface facing you.
  3. Repeat until all of the mixture has been used.
  4. Take the remaining banana and slice into chunks. Stack your pancakes with Nutella and banana slices while they’re still hot, and then dig in…

Shakshuka (Eggs in Hell)

I’ve only made sashuka a few times, but this week just gone by I developed a massive craving for it- owing to seeing it on a food diary video on YouTube. Until that point I had always known it as “Eggs in Hell”, due to the spicy tomato sauce. You can eat it for breakfast, brunch, and lunch- and although its great in summer, its even better when the weather turns cold in winter.

This dish takes a little longer than my recipes usually do (around 45 minutes start to finish), but it looks after itself; the time is taken up by the sauce cooking down to a tomato and chilli flavoured goodness. And if the time it takes to cook is off-putting, then just remember: you have less washing up to do, as this is eaten from the pan. See? Perfect student food.

I like to keep my sauce fairly chunky, but if that isn’t for you then simply chop your vegetables into smaller chunks, and add in some more canned tomatoes- this will take longer to reduce though, and you will need to play around with how much chilli you add.

Ingredients (serves one)

  • 1/2 can chopped tomatoes (roughly 200g)
  • 1/2  bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 -1 medium red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed and finely chopped
  • 1 handful of kale
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • Pinch of each: cayenne, cumin, turmeric, smoked paprika (this is a recipe you can really tailor to your own tastes, but make sure that you have more smoked paprika here proportionately)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • TO SERVE: Toast, if desired

  • Into a frying pan place your garlic and chilli. Cook for around 1 minute, on a medium heat, until softened. Now throw in the onion; sauté over the same heat until golden.
  • Throw in the pepper, the kale, and the chopped tomatoes, along with all of your spices, salt, and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, add 1/4 cup of the boiling water, and allow to simmer gently for 15 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes, return to your pan and give it a stir, adding in the final 1/4 cup of water, and allowing to simmer for 15 minutes more.
  • Once you return to the pan the sauce will have thickened, and cooked down nicely. Make two small wells in the mixture, crack in the eggs, and turn the heat up to medium. Allow the eggs to fry, keeping an eye on them to prevent burning. If the bottoms of the eggs have cooked, but the tops are still too raw, then place a baking tray or a lid over the pan (my pan has no lid, hence the baking tray), to direct the heat rising from the pan, back down to the eggs.
  • After 5- 10 minutes- depending how runny you like your yolks- remove the pan from the heat, and add some more black pepper. If you have fresh basil hanging around then tear some up to top your sashuka with.
  • No need for a plate- dig in straight from the pan.

One Person Feta, Asparagus, Mushroom & Spinach Frittata

When I occasionally become bored of overnight oats for a quick pre-prepped breakfast, I often turn to something making use of eggs. And recently, frittatas have been what I opt for.

Although they take a while in the oven, I usually have the oven on at some point in the evening- and so I just pop it in whilst I’m making and eating my tea, allow it to cool, and package it up for the next day.

This recipe incorporates what I think are some the best ingredients to include in a frittata: asparagus, mushrooms, and feta cheese. You can pretty much add in any vegetables you like, but I do recommend you try this at least once.

If you’re a student, then these ingredients are versatile ones: grill the rest of the asparagus and serve in a salad, or with sweet potato, regular potato, or rice. and one of fish/chicken/quorn/tofu. You can also toss it into pasta, or scrambled eggs. Cook the remaining mushrooms with garlic and some of the spinach, and throw onto toast. Crumble the feta into salads, onto sweet potatoes, or make a fancier tuna melt. Boil your eggs and add to sandwiches, salads, crack onto a pitta pizza, scramble with veggies for a good breakfast, or take to uni as a snack. You have plenty of options…


  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 30g feta cheese, crumbled
  • 4-5 asparagus spears
  • 1 small handful of spinach
  • 3-4 mushrooms
  • Black pepper, salt, and dried Italian herbs to taste (you can also add in a dash of chilli)


  • Preheat the oven to 190*c, and grease an ovenproof dish.
  • In a large bowl whisk together the three eggs, pepper, dried herbs, and salt. Then move on to preparing the vegetables…
  • Snap the tough ends off of the asparagus, and chop into pieces- about the length of your little finger. Slice the mushrooms up too.
  • Add your asparagus, mushrooms, and spinach into the egg mixture, followed by the feta. Stir to incorporate.
  • Pour this into your oven proof dish, and then loosely cover with foil to prevent the top of the frittata from burning. Don’t let the foil touch the top of the uncooked frittata- we don’t want it to stick as it rises.
  • Place into the oven for 50 minutes, uncovering for the last 10 minutes, so that the frittata can turn golden on top.
  • Once cooked, either dig in straight away- or allow to cool, chop up, and place into a lunch box for later…

‘Ernest’ – My Favourite Geordie Brunch Spot

‘Ernest is an independent cafe bar situated in the top end of the Ouseburn; we do our very best to serve up honest food, drink, music and art. We are open everyday 10am until late for breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinking and dancing.’
Even people in Newcastle, native Geordies, haven’t heard of this place. And that needs to change, because it is simply one of my favourite places to eat. One of my best friends lives literally next door to this place, I can see it from her bedroom window, and it’s a firm fixture that we head here for brunch post girls night. I chose this café-bar for my breakfast brunch last week. This place will be 10 minutes from me next year, and so it’s a good thing they do student discount…


Ernest serve good, honest food. They do all day breakfasts, vegan and vegetarian suitable food, pescetarian options, and some stunning meaty options too. The food is homemade, fresh, and local and seasonal where possible. I recommend the natural smoked haddock on sourdough with spinach and two poached eggs, the eggs eclipso (two poached eggs on slow cooked tomatoes and peppers with flatbread on the side), and most definitely the sweet potato fries. Their eggs are always perfectly cooked, with runny golden centres, and their fries are never greasy, the presentation in on point every single time. I have eaten a lot of sweet potato fries in my time, and these are THE BEST. Better than Pitcher and Piano, better Fat Hippo, and better than Giraffe. They’re the best I can get without making them myself (because I am slightly bias and love my smoked paprika and chilli on them)- they’re also one of the most liked pictures on my IG feed. The staff are happy to accommodate tastes: I hate hollandaise and so they always leave it off for me, and I prefer wholemeal or sourdough to white bread- of which you get a choice depending what they have in. If you take a look at the specials board you may be lucky enough to get your hands on a super food saturated salad, or the kippers on sourdough toast. I’m always tempted by the salads, but the kippers are huge, tender, and juicy. It’s an internal battle every bloody time. Another tempting topic is that of cakes. There are always cakes on the counter: coffee and walnut, carrot cake, scones, the most amazing looking brownies loaded with nuts, and gorgeously gooey blondies- they change every time I’m in. Unfortunately I’ve always been too stuffed to try even a bite, although believe me I have seriously considered buying one of everything. Coffees and teas. We must talk coffee and tea. There is a selection of teas written above the bar area, and there are some I’ve never tried before: pineapple and coconut being one. I’m stuck on the stinging mint one for now. If it’s not tea, then I’ll be ordering a cappuccino- again one of the loveliest cappuccinos I’ve ever tried. Ernest are also licenced, and serve a variety of different beverages to choose from later in the day. They do music nights, something my friend and I are definitely trying in the near future (she doesn’t know this yet).

Now, to the staff and the café itself. The staff are friendly- and not in that really annoying over-every-two-minutes way. They’re over to check your food is okay and magically alert to when you need them to appear, but aren’t going to ruin your meal by hovering. One time I visited there was a mistake made on my friends order, and they didn’t charge us for her meal at all. Which was brilliant considering it was virtually the same thing as the dish she’d originally chosen, but more expensive. The outside of Ernest is painted with a picture if Darth Vader holding (I believe) a tray with wine on it. Next to some buckets of colourful flowers. That should indicate what a quirky-cool place this is. If it doesn’t then get this: inside there is an eclectic mix of comfy squashy sofas, chairs, board games, bare light bulbs, disco balls, mirrors, a lime green wall or two, a cabinet of star wars figures, and a blow up kangaroo.

Overall this is a place to bring friends for a slap up meal, or a drink on an evening- I definitely feel it’s more of student and adult place due to the chilled out vibe. More so than somewhere to park a pram with a screaming kid inside. Although if your child is well behaved then maybe it could be perfect for you too. My point is that Ernest is most definitely student friendly. This student is making her way there on Friday to bid Newcastle farewell for the summer- with some of the finest food this city has to offer.

Peppered Salmon & Poached Egg on Toast

I am not a brunch fan. I love food too much to combine two meals into one. Or so I thought. This is now my ultimate brunch: it’s delicious, nutritious, easy, ready in under 15 minutes, and filled me up until late afternoon.
Salmon and poached eggs make for a luxurious meal in my opinion, and this recipe was only attempted because I found a salmon fillet in the bottom of the freezer. Combined with some other leftovers discovered during a fridge raid this delightful way to begin the day was born- lie in beforehand optional…


  • 1/4 yellow courgette
  • 1/2 salmon fillet (I’m giving you the quantities for one; cook the whole fillet and either save the rest for later, or if you’re feeling generous double all the other quantities and make someone else their brunch too)
  • 1 large handful spinach
  • 1 slice wholemeal bread (we had seeded in at the time, and I would definitely recommend this)
  • 1 large egg
  • Lemon juice (from a bottle is fine)
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Oil (to grease a baking tray)
  • Water


  • Preheat a grill to medium.
  • Grease a baking tray with a small amount of olive oil, to prevent the salmon sticking. Place the salmon fillet onto the baking tray, and sprinkle with lemon juice and plenty of black pepper. Place the salmon under the grill for 10-12 minutes. When it looks as though its almost done (it will be pale pink in colour), with just a minute or so remaining, turn the grill up high to crisp the top of the fillet.
  • Whilst the salmon is cooking slice the courgette into rings and place into the microwave for 2-3 minutes on a microwavable plate, until tender.
  • Toast the bread and place onto a plate, ready to pile on top all the ingredients. You can spread a little butter or margarine onto your toast, or use some hot salsa- the latter was my personal choice. Lay the courgette onto the toast.
  • Place the spinach into the microwave until it is just wilted, and then add this to the toast. Boil some water in a kettle- you’ll see why in minute.
  • Remove the salmon from the oven and separate half the fillet into flakes, add this to the toast as well.
  • Pour the boiled water into a microwavable dish and add 1tsp lemon juice. Crack the egg into the dish, cover with a plate, and microwave for 40seconds-1 minute to poach your egg (this may take more or less time depending on microwave wattage- mine is 700w). Remove the egg from the water using a slotted spoon and place on top of the salmon.
  • Garnish with more black pepper and a sprig of fresh basil if desired.