Apricot & Coconut Buckwheat Granola

apricot-coconut-buckwheat-granola

I’m obsessed with granola and have been making yummy granola with oats for years (check out the recipe here) but I’ve never made it with Buckwheat before and I’m not sure why. It’s much lower GI and more easily digestible and despite having ‘wheat’ in its name, it’s not wheat at all, it is in fact a plant! I saw buckwheat groats in Planet Organic and decided to buy them and give this a go.

This turned out really delicious and you can really add anything you like to it.

Serve with chilled almond milk and it’s just divine!

Ingredients

300g buckwheat groats
50g coconut chips or desiccated coconut
50g sunflower seeds
50g pumpkin seeds
Pinch Himalayan salt
4 tbsp coconut oil
3 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
4 tbsp maple
Good handful coconut chips or desiccated coconut
About 10 dried apricots cut into small pieces

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Melt the coconut oil in a saucepan. Put the buckwheat in a large bowl and pour over the melted coconut oil along with all the other ingredients except for the apricots and mix well.

Spread out evenly on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes then stir it well, and bake for another 10 minutes.

Take it out the oven and mix in the dried apricot slices and leave to cool before putting it in a glass jar or plastic container. It will keep for a good while!

Serve with chilled almond milk.

Love & health,

Lauren

 

Apple & Cinnamon Granola Bars

apple-cinnamon-granola-bars

 

These are the best things for on-the-go breakfasts for those busy mornings. You can freeze them and defrost in batches as and when you need them which also helps. They are full of slow-releasing energy and great nutrients with no refined sugar, dairy, gluten, wheat or eggs so are the perfect healthy breakfast or snack for you and the kids.

Ingredients

2 tbsp chia seeds
230g oats
140g medjool dates
3 tbsp coconut oil
5 tbsp applesauce (homemade or store-bought apple puree)
4 tbsp almond butter
2 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of Himalayan salt

Method

Put the chia seeds in a small bowl with 8 tsp purified water, mix until incorporated and leave for about 15 minutes until it turns into a gel. (this will be an egg replacement)

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees and line a 26x26cm square silicone baking tin with baking paper and grease with coconut oil.

Put the dates and coconut oil in the blender and blend until nearly smooth but there can be a few lumpy date bits.

In a bowl, mix the oats, applesauce, almond butter, cinnamon and salt then mix in the date and coconut oil mix.

Add the chia gel once it’s ready and mix well.

Spread into the prepared baking tin and press down so it’s evenly distributed and put in the oven for 20 minutes.

Leave to cool fully before removing and cutting into slices or squares.

Love & health,
Lauren

Gluten Free Seed Crackers (Suitable For Kids)

seed-crackers-for-kids

A friend of mine shared this recipe after I ate these at her house. The reason they’re so great for children is that they’re a little bit soft on the inside which makes them less of a choking hazaard. Crackers that are too hard are not so great for babies – Braxton always gets bits stuck in his throat then gags!

I altered this recipe slightly to make it vegan (egg free).

For some reason I always think crackers will be really time-consuming to make but they’re not at all. This was so easy and went down really well with my lot.

Ingredients

120g buckwheat flour
120g oats
50g sunflower seeds
50g pumpkin seeds
50g groud flax seeds
2 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp chia seeds
½ tsp Himalayan salt
Sprinkling of mixed herbs
2 tbsp melted coconut oil
600ml water

Method

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees and line a baking tray with baking paper and grease with coconut oil.

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, making sure to mix well and get all the flour from the bottom.

It should be fairly thin and spreadable on the tray. If it seems too thick, add a little more water.

Pour onto the prepared tray and smooth out.

Bake for 15 minutes then remove and cut into squares with a pizza cutter or thin blade knife.

Put back in the oven for another 35-40 minutes.

Leave to cool before cutting fully again with the knife.

Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Love & health,
Lauren

Easy Blueberry Breakfast Muffins

muffin-1

Looking for on-the-go snacks for those mornings when you wake up late and don’t want to feel guilty about sending the kids off without a good breakfast ? This is what you need! These muffins are a great way to start the morning as they are gluten free, wheat free, grain free, refined sugar free, dairy free and egg free. They are full of yummy plant-based goodness and slow-releasing energy, and they’re also great for baby-led weaning. Oh, and they’re super easy to make!

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Ingredients: (makes around 7 muffins – if you need more, just double the mixture)

3 small ripe bananas (2 if large)
¼ cup maple syrup
3 tbsp coco palm sugar
2 generous tbsp. peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup almond milk
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch Himalayan salt
Big handful of blueberries

muffin-3

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line a muffin tin with about 7/8 muffin cases.

Mix all the wet ingredients in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well.

Once mixed, add the blueberries and mix, distributing them evently.

Spoon mixture into the prepared muffin cases, about 2/3 of the way up.

Bake in the oven for around 18 minutes or until the tops are golden and a fork comes out clean.

Love & health,
Lauren

Roasted Cauliflower & Garlic Soup with Homemade GF Croutons

cauliflower-garlic-soup

I can’t take the credit for this one, I got the inspiration from Waitrose recipes! It looked so delicious that I thought I’d try it and put my own spin on it. Honestly guys, it’s so delicious and so moreish, you must give this one a go for these cold winter days.

Ingredients

1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
4 large garlic cloves
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1.5L organic vegetable stock
1 onion, chopped in half
4 fresh bay leaves

For the croutons:
3 slices gluten free bread or sourdough, cut into cubes or strips
1 tbsp thyme leaves
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Place the cauliflower and garlic on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and mix well. Place in the oven for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring the stock to the boil in a large pan.

Add the onion and bay leaves, cover and turn down to a gentle simmer.

Now make the croutons by using a handheld blender or small blending jug to blend up the thyme leaves, garlic and olive oil.

Add this to a bowl and add the bread and mix it all in with your hands to cover the bread pieces with the mix.

Line another baking tray with parchment paper and put the croutons on the baking tray and put in the oven for 15 minutes or until browned.

When the garlic and cauliflower are cooked, remove from the oven and add to the stock. Cook for 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and take out the bay leaves. Using the handheld blender again, (or a normal blender if you don’t have one) blend until smooth and season to taste.

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, some thyme leaves and the croutons.

Love & health,
Lauren

Why Do We Choose To Have Children? My First Huffington Post-Featured Article

 

Family cuddling

Super excited to let you all now that I am now a regular contributor for the Huffington Post in their lifestyle and parenting section. This is a massive deal for my writing and I’d love you to follow me there and keep an eye on all my articles. My first one, posted below, is up there now and you can see it here 

 

 

Why Do We Choose To Have Children?

During one of my son’s infamous sleep strikes, I posed the question to my husband, ‘Why do people have children?’ It wasn’t a sarcastic, rhetorical question in the midst of a third consecutive all-nighter. I genuinely started wondering why people inflict such stress on their lives when they have the option not to. Children do, after all, hinder our lives in a way we never understood before having them.

My husband’s answer was a typically male pragmatic one: ‘Because we have an innate need to procreate.’

Although I don’t disagree with my husband that there probably is within us a subconscious, animalistic desire to procreate, I think there is much more to it than that, and only after having a baby myself and going through that first tumultuous year of parenthood can I understand the real driving force behind why we choose to have children.

Quite simply, it must come down to love. But why is that different to anything you’ve heard before? Well, because what I don’t think we’ve realised is that it’s not our need to be loved, but our need to love.

If we look at parenthood without love and simply gather all the other facets of it, this is what a typical day looks like: you are awoken around 5am, after having three to four hours broken sleep, and you have no choice but to muster the strength to smile and coo at your kids, get them dressed, get yourself washed and dressed and make them breakfast and packed lunches. They get impatient while you’re preparing everything so you distract them with TV, iPads and anything else that before becoming a parent you swore you’d never do. Then, if your children are like mine, the breakfast will probably end up on the floor being eaten by the dog.

You attempt to clean the kitchen as best you can before heading off to the school run then taking the younger one to playgroup, where all you want to do is talk to other human beings over the age of 18 but when you do, finally, sink into the comfort of a good old chat with another mum, your child has wondered off to hug another child whose mother ‘doesn’t like it’, so you have to release yourself from the only conversation you’ll be having that day that doesn’t involve singing your words, to tear your child away from the child whose mum doesn’t like him being touched.

Lunchtime no doubt ends up the same way as breakfast but… the hour of salvation has arrived: lunchtime nap time. But no, he decides that four hours broken sleep through the night, are, in fact, quite sufficient and you most certainly do not deserve any time to yourself so he thinks he’ll stay up, actually. You attempt to do the chores with him fluttering around, pulling pans out of cupboards and moaning because he is tired (!) then you get him in the car to pick up the older ones from school. Lo and behold, he falls asleep in the car. You curse to yourself but you let him sleep, because it won’t be worth your while later if he doesn’t, and you arrive at school… late.

Help the kids with homework, drink cold tea, and once again, mealtime. They might eat a bit, they might moan that they want something else, they might throw it on the floor. After a bit of play time (for them, not you – you are cleaning the kitchen for the fifty-third time that day), it’s bath time. They drench you in bath water then take every set of pyjamas out the cupboard until they decide that the very last one is the winner, and you have to refold the rest.

By the time husband walks through the door, kids are in bed reading, baby is fresh as a daisy, house is clean as a whistle but you look like Keith Richards on a bad day and you know you have to go through the whole rigmarole the following day, and the one after that, and so on…

Sound fun?

Now let’s take ‘love’ off the bench and put her back in the picture.

With love, he may have been screaming in your face for three hours before falling asleep but when he does finally fall asleep, you ‘waste’ precious minutes you could be sleeping just staring at the perfect form that you still cannot believe came from you.

With love, you may be exhausted beyond belief when she wakes at 5am but the minute you see her smiling face and smell the top of her head as she nestles into the crook of your neck, you forget you are tired and want to bottle that hug forever.

With love, you may crave the adult interaction but you know how utterly fortunate you are to be able to call yourself a mother, and how you’d give up adult conversation forever to hold onto these precious early days.

With love, you may look like Keith Richards after a two week bender, but you know that you have spent the day raising children, sustaining the lives of other human beings who love you and trust you and fall asleep in your arms because they know it’s the safest place in the world and that thought fills you with a warmth that will return to your heart every time you think about it.

The rewards of parenthood are not too dissimilar from the act of giving and receiving presents; we like to receive gifts but giving a gift stirs up a totally different sort of happiness in us.

Being able to love a person to the point where your fragile heart breaks into a million tiny shards if they so much as graze their knee, changes us as humans. It completes us, even more so than being loved. Being loved back by them is just the super sweet icing on the cake.

Love & health,
Lauren ❤

 

 

Classic (But Healthy) Banana Bread

 

banana-bread

Happy new year everyone! Kicking off the very cold new year with a hearty banana bread – the best comfort food for cold days. This is my classic banana bread recipe but I had loads of bananas leftover that I needed to use up so I decided to stick on in the middle (coated in chocolate of course) and see how it comes out! It was yummy 🙂

Wishing all my followers a very happy and healthy new year. Let this be the year that we respect our bodies for all that they do. We need to stop putting pressure on ourselves to look a certain way and just eat and live healthily to give our bodies the best chance. Lots of love ❤

Ingredients

3 large very ripe bananas, mashed (if they are small, use 4)
1 whole banana for the middle (optional)
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 heaped tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp flax seeds
4 tbsp filtered water
1 cup buckwheat flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼ tsp ground cinnamon

Chocolate sauce to coat the banana in (optional):
2 tbsp cacao powder
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp tsp cashew butter

Method

(Quick note: if you want this to  be quick and simple, just leave out the optional chocolate-covered banana in the middle, the cake will be just as nice!)

Preheat the oven to 180° and line a loaf tin with baking paper and grease with coconut oil.

Make the chocolate sauce by melting all the sauce ingredients on a gentle heat in a saucepan. Coat the whole banana in the chocolate sauce and leave in the fridge to set.

Mix the flax seeds in a small bowl with the water and set aside so it can set. (this is a flax ‘egg’ and used instead of eggs.)

Mash the other 3 bananas in a large bowl and add the coconut oil and maple, then add the flax mix and mix well.

Now add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.

Move just under half the batter into the loaf tin then put the chocolate-covered banana on top. Now add the rest of the mix on top of the banana.

Put it in the oven for around 25–30 minutes, or until a fork comes out clean. My oven tends to cook things much quicker than most so it’s been a bit of a learning curve, your oven may need more time.

Leave on a wire rack to cool then turn out of the loaf tin onto a plate.

Delicious served with peanut or almond butter!

Enjoy!

Love and health,
Lauren

The Power of Amber And Where To Buy

iris-bluebird

I’ve always been a big believer in the power of crystals. It’s not too different to food, really. Anything that the Earth provides naturally must be there for a certain reason and if we utilise them correctly, we can reap the masses of benefits they provide.

Long before having Braxton, I found Iris Bluebird (real name Hannah), who made amber jewellery. I’d heard quite often about necklaces and anklets for teething babies and looked into it a lot as I always thought it was a lovely gift for friends with teething babies, and I wanted to know that I was buying top quality amber.

Hannah stocks only top quality, raw natural Baltic amber and threads them with knots in between each one to make it safer for babies, and with safe clasp options. There is also the option of adding other stones to give extra benefits. We added turquoise for Braxton for added ‘cooling’ when teething seemed hot and burning.

Everyone comments on how lovely his necklace is and although it is advised that you remove necklaces on babies for nap times, we personally leave his on. As his neck got thinner and the necklace stretched a little over time, he started being able to put it in his mouth – which was funny because for the first year of his life he never even noticed it was there – so we sent it back to Hannah and she adjusted the size for us.

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Here he is during his 1st birthday cake smash wearing nothing but a nappy and the necklace! Aside from how beautiful it looks, we really do notice the difference in his behaviour and how bad his teething is when he doesn’t have it on, so we truly believe in the power of amber. Of course that is anecdotal and who knows for sure, but it’s a belief of ours so we decide to go with it!

My dad decided to jump on the bandwagon after after eyeing up Braxton’s necklace for a while, and decided he wanted a bracelet for himself to help his aching joints, so I ordered one from Hannah and we designed it to look a little more masculine! My dad loves it and doesn’t take it off.

Recently, I ordered an anklet for myself with amber alongside my favourite stones: blue lace agate, amazonite, rose quartz and some howlite, which helps with calmness, concentration and creativity. It looks so pretty and I just love having my favourite stones so close to me all the time. Here it is:

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If you’re thinking about buying amber for yourself or your children, I highly recommend Hannah. Her website is irisbluebird.uk.

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If you want to understand more about the benefits of amber, read on…

In the meantime, love & health,
Lauren

Amber is an organic material made up of fossilised resin – Baltic Amber (considered to be the finest) was formed from the resin of coniferous trees 30-60 million years ago. It has long been honoured by humans for it’s energetic and healing properties.

There are various theories about how Amber actually works: the first is that the warmth of the skin releases tiny amounts of healing oils (succinic) from the Amber, these are absorbed through the skin into the body. The healing effects of succinic are said to be calming, analgesic, anti-pyretic (temperature reducing) amongst others. A second theory is that Amber is electronegative and wearing it against the skin produces negative ionisation, which leads to a positive effect on the body.

What succinic acid is and how it benefits you.

Succinic Acid (also called Amber Acid) has been used in Europe as a natural antibiotic and general curative for centuries. Succinic acid makes up a large part of natural baltic amber. Succinic Acid is also a natural constituent of plant and animal tissues.

polished amber
Polished Raw Amber

Natural Baltic Amber contains as much as 8 percent succinic acid by weight.

It is very important to your body. It is used in the Krebs Cycle which is involved in the intermediary metabolic process. Another name for the Krebs Cycle is the Citric Acid Cycle.

A powerful anti oxidant that helps fight toxic free radicals and disruptions of the cardiac rhythm, succinic acid has been shown to stimulate neural system recovery and bolster the immune system, and helps compensate for energy drain in the body and brain, boosting awareness, concentration and reflexes, and reducing stress.

Even before mankind knew that there were things called acids and antibiotics, the people of Europe recognized that amber had magical curative powers. They used it when we today would use an antibiotic.

Now that modern science has discovered what succinic acid can do, it has confirmed what the people of Europe have known for centuries.

The ancients wore natural Baltic amber necklaces and bracelets, made from amber stones and chips that washed up on the shores of the Baltic Sea, that were thought to have magical curative powers. They surely had no idea that they were high in succinic acid, but they knew they worked magic on their ills.

They used amber in other forms, as well. They made medicines from powder, chips, and stones. They applied amber oils to their bodies to cure ills and slow aging. Amber chips and oils were burned to improve the air in their living quarters and repel flies, mosquitoes and other insects. .

A Dominican Monk, Albert The Great, born in 1193, called Natural Baltic Amber Succinium and stated that it was the most effective of the leading medicines of the time. In order of effectiveness he listed them as Succinium, ocastoreum, mors, camphor, tartarus, and aurum. Amber tinctures were made from beer, wine and water. People found them effective against everything from stomach aches to rheumatism.

When the plagues devastated Europe during the middle ages, amber was used for fumigation. Burning amber is both aromatic and irritating. And that is due to the high content of succinic acid in the smoke.

The Prussian Priest Matthaus Praetorius recorded that in 1680, “During the plague not a single amberman from Gdansk, Klaipeda, Konigsberg or Liepaja died of the disease”

Even today aroma therapists use Amber smoke to cure people of a wide range of ills and to revive energy.

More modern Europeans used the curative properties of amber in many ways. Recognizing its properties as an antibiotic, they have used, and continue to use it, for amber baby teethers, baby teething necklaces, spoons and pipe mouthpieces. Aristocrats of the 17 th Century brewed tea in special amber containers.

In the 20th Century, European scientists and military doctors led the way in following up on the ancient knowledge. They found that it would help improve the bodies immune system after exposure to radiation from industrial accidents.

It has also been found to help the immune system combat infections, help cure hangovers and work against other toxins.

Research at the University of Hamburg, Germany confirms the safe and positive effects of succinic and fumaric acids in cellular metabolism.

Dr. Veniamin Khazanov of the RAS’ Institute of Pharmacology at the Tomsk Scientific Center says “For aged people, succinic acid has proved to be indispensable. It is capable of restoring the energy balance at the cellular level, which is often upset as the years go by, and helps the patient regain his youthful energy.” He says also that it has proven the equal or better of many commercial drugs and is significantly less expensive.

You can see clinical test information at Clinical studies on succinic acid (succinates) antixodant effects.

And once again following up on what the Europeans have known from their use of amber for centuries, science has found that it helps cure a hangover by helping the body rid itself of the toxins that cause the hangover. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2007/4/prweb517372.htm Deadly Hangover: Beyond the ‘Morning After’ .

Succinic acid is now produced commercially. And it is approved for use by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

Amber cures are now widely available and can be purchased online. You can see what is available at Amber Cures.

Source: http://www.chamberofcommerce.pl/amber-succinic-acid/

Coconut Superfood Porridge

coconut-superfood-porridge

My poor bubba isn’t feeling too well today and has gone off his food. We do a superfood smoothie every morning but thought I’d try and give him something warmer to see if he liked it and although porridge is a funny old texture, especially if you’re not feeling well, he really enjoyed it.

I just shoved a load of superfoods in there to help his immune system (and mine), and I also heated the blueberries a bit so they were warm and squidgy, and for someone who isn’t the biggest porridge fan, I was pleasantly surprised!

Ingredients

1/3 cup organic rolled oats
2/3 cup purified water
5-6 tbsp almond milk
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 banana, sliced
1 tbsp almond or hazelnut butter
Desiccated coconut
Hemp powder
Maca powder
Handful blueberries
Pumpkin seeds
Acacia honey or maple (optional)

Method

Add the oats, water, almond milk, coconut oil and half the sliced banana to a saucepan and heat gently, until it goes creamy.

At the same time, put the blueberries in a small saucepan with a tablespoon or two of water and heat gently.

Back to the oats; add the nut butter and stir until it is incorporated.

Once ready, after around 5-7 mins, transfer to a bowl.

Top with the rest of the banana, spoonful of maca, spoonful of hemp, sprinkling of pumpkin seeds, sprinkling of desiccated coconut and the blueberries and if you like it sweet, drizzle some maple or honey over the top.

Love & health,
Lauren

 

Beetroot Mash

beetroot-mash

How gorgeous and bright does this look for a dull winter’s day? I just love the colours of nature and colours are a great way to entice children to eat vegetables. Beetroots are full of nutrients and are such an important vegetable.

Beetroots are an excellent source of folte so a great food to eat when pregnant or trying to conceive. They are also high in iron, potassium and fibre and are great for the heart. Generally an all-round wonderful vegetable.

I had a bunch of fresh beets in the fridge and juiced a few but wanted something warm so I decided to make this beetroot mash. It’s more like a beetroot puree really as I blended it. So creamy and soft and moreish.

I made something very similar a while back and added horseradish, so if you like a kick to your mash, try that one out!

Ingredients

2 beetroot
5 white potatoes
Quarter cup almond milk
Quarter cup vegetable stock
Himalayan salt & black pepper to taste

Method

Peel and chop the beetroots and potatoes.

Put the potatoes in a saucepan with boiling water and boil. If you have a steamer saucepan, put this over the top of the potatoes and put the lid on so they can steam and boil together. If you don’t, boil or steam the beets separately.

When they are both soft, mash the potatoes with a masher.

Add the beets to the blender and blend until smooth, then add the potatoes, stock, almond milk, salt and pepper and blend until puree-like.

Add more stock or almond milk if you need.

Love & health,
Lauren