How to dry a coconut (and why it is a good idea!)

So many healthy recipes call for an addition of coconut one way or another, and for good reason too! Amongst some of the benefits (post coming soon!), adding coconut to your diet can improve heart health, weight loss, skin disorders, brain disorders, cholesterol levels and bug protection due to the anti-bacterial qualities.

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Coconut can be added to savoury dishes as well as sweet dishes, it is a staple ingredient in a lot of curries for example. Whilst I have not always been keen on the overpowering taste of coconut, I have learned to adapt it to various meals in order to enhance it, without affecting flavour too much.

The main issue I always had with coconuts is that I never knew what on earth to do with it. There are so many different ways to consume, crack into, preserve and prepare coconut. So today I will write about how to open and dry out a coconut to preserve as flakes for addition to meals and snacks!

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First things first, to open the coconut you need to bring in the big guns. A hammer, a (clean!) screwdriver and some muscle. I am aware there are lots of different ways to open a coconut, but this seems to work best!

You will see three dimples at the top of the coconut, and these are the points to aim for when piercing the coconut with your screwdriver, after piercing three holes into the fruit, you want to empty out the coconut milk from the middle.

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Some people like to drink this, so if anyone in your house likes it, let it pour into a small glass and refrigerate for later. I am not keen on drinking coconut water, but lots of people love it, so check before you pour it out.

With the coconut milk, you are looking for a clear fluid rather than a white milk, as this can show that the coconut is out of date.

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The next bit is the fun bit! Wrap up your empty coconut in a dishtowel and bash it with the hammer. Do not not underestimate the strength of the shell either, it takes a few tries and a lot of noise…

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You want to get clean pieces of coconut meat. So after extracting the meat from the shell, it is a good idea to peel away the brown skin on the outside, this wont take long. I also rinsed my coconut meat under water to get rid of pieces of shell etc.

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When you are left with clean pieces of coconut. Grate each piece, to make a pile of light, fluffy coco-peels! Be careful not to grate into your hand (like I did), coconut is really oily and it can get pretty frustrating trying to control it with the grater.

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Place all coconut flakes onto a baking tray, I lined mine with baking paper, but any heat proof mat will do.

Preheat the oven to 200°C, and when it reaches this temperature. TURN THE OVEN OFF! You then pop your tray in to bathe in the heat of the oven for 30 minutes. You do this twice, taking out the flakes whilst you reheat the oven, then again, turning off the oven, let the flakes dry out in the heat.

(NOTE: This is to make white, dried coconut flakes, you can repeat this process if you prefer your coconut flakes brown and toasted .)

When they have cooled off, pop them in a jar to preserve, and use on your next few meals!

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Enjoy!

AO x

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Easy-Peasy Quinoa Tabbouleh Mix

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I tried this dish recently as I wanted to make something that wasn’t too heavy in the hot weather yet still filled me up to the brim! The great thing about this recipe is that it is so easily made (think a nutrition packed eton mess…everything is just mixed together!) It is important to get the right dressing for the tabbouleh or it might be to your taste, however there are a million different ways to make dressing and if you’re opting for convenience, there are loads of dressings in the supermarkets that are worth trying!

As I opt for a pesca-vegetarian diet , I have chosen to use salmon with this dish, however for those who do not eat seafood, you may prefer meat or various pulses to plump up your tabbouleh! However, this dish is just as good on its own, it is light refreshing and full of essential daily nutrients. Lets begin!

Ingredients

For the Tabbouleh

Quinoa (2 handfuls will make 2 meals!)

Cucumber

Spring Onion/ Scallions

Green Pepper

(Any other veg you wish to add)

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For the Dressing

1 lime

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Lemon Juice (not essential)

A touch of garlic

Balsamic vinegar

A touch of salt

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Method

  • Turn on the oven to around 190ºC, you will need this to pre-heat before cooking the salmon
  • Pop the quinoa on to boil in water, you will know when the quinoa is cooked as there will be small tail-like sprouts coming from each grain!

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  • Put salmon in the oven, for this particular dish I put my salmon in tinfoil with some lemon, I do not like a strong seafood taste and lemon is brilliant for complementing the flavour of seafood whilst keeping it quite mild.

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  • Whilst the quinoa is boiling and the salmon is baking , chop and prepare all vegetables and use the time to make your salad dressing.

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  • For the dressing, add all of the ingredients together and mix and experiment with tastes until you are happy with the consistency, I like quite a lot of garlic so I go a bit overboard with it, others may find this a bit potent!

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  • When the quinoa is cooked, drain and add to a large bowl and mix in with all of the prepared raw vegetables.
  • Add the salad dressing and mix with the tabbouleh, give everything a good stir so all of the wonderful flavours are mixed around 🙂
  • After the salmon has finished cooking, you are ready to serve the dish. Have fun with presentation!

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AO x

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We need to talk about Kale… (10 reasons we should all be eating this super-food!)

It will come of no shock to anyone in the blogosphere or foodie world that Kale is somewhat of a holy grail when it comes to nutritional food. I am an absolute geek for this leafy green and try to add it to whatever I can. In fact I went full-circle ‘kale nerd’ recently and treated myself to this tee dedicated to the fabulous food…

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So I have done a lot of research on the benefits of kale and have highlighted some of the best reasons to get this into your daily diet. This is by no means all of the benefits of kale but probably the ones I find most important…

1. Kale has way more calcium than milk per calorie. This is so important for bone health and the prevention of developing osteoporosis. Calcium is also an important part of speeding up metabolism.

2. Kale is jam packed full of iron. In fact, you will find more iron in kale than you will in red meats such as beef. Iron is so important for our health, it aids oxygen transportation in red blood cells, cell growth and liver function. Deficiencies in iron can also lead to debilitating conditions such as anaemia.

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3. Kale is also rich in vitamin C. In fact, just a cup of kale will provide you with 134% of your daily recommended vitamin C intake. Vitamin C is an all round great vitamin, it helps the immune system, speeding up of metabolism and keeping the body hydrated. I try to pump myself full of vitamin C whenever I feel a cold coming on and it is gone within hours!

4. Vitamin K. Lots of it. In a cup of kale you will gain a whopping 684% of your RDA (recommended daily allowance). Vitamin K is helpful in fighting liver and colon cancer, it is often used alongside chemotherapy for these cancers as an extra bit of fight! This vitamin is also a necessity for bone health and blood clotting.

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5. Kale is really really good for your eyes. It contains lutein (which is the yellow carotene which is found in the retinas of the eyes at concentrated levels). Macular Degeneration, which is an age related condition involving the loss of sight due to damaged retinas, has been proven less for those eating lutein rich foods. (Source here)

6. Kale aids cardiovascular support. Due to the nutrient dense leafy green having so many minerals and vitamins, this aids health in cardiovascular functioning which thus aids lowering cholesterol making it a popular choice for those on a diet!

7. Anti-inflammatory benefits. Kale is extremely rich in omega-3 fatty acids, making it a popular choice for those who do not eat a lot of seafood. Omega-3’s fight against lots of different things including arthritis, asthma and auto-immune disorders.

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8. High fibre content. Everyone knows that a diet rich in fibre is essential for the functioning of the digestive system. This means that absorption and elimination of what comes from your meals will be fast and efficient!

9. Kale is rich in anti-oxidants. Here is some jargon for you… it took me a while to get my head around the work of anti-oxidants and all the different things they do! The carotenoids and flavenoids (types of anti-oxidant) have been proven in cases to help fight against certain cancers in the past. (Source here– including some more on anti-oxidant behaviours!)

10. 0% saturated fat. Meaning this is a really really good addition to any dinner menu, breakfast or smoothie recipe without the worry of it adding to the belly pouch!

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I hope that you enjoy kale as much as I do. If you have any recipes or anything do let me know! I recently tried Kale chips, they were interesting and delicious, probably valid as a blog post subject at some point in the future!

AO x

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Simple Carrot & Sweet Potato soup

Yes yes, this is probably more of a winter dish. But I made this for the first time tonight so had to share the joy! I was a bit nervous about how this was going to turn out as I got a little over excited with the paprika and pepper, but luckily it had a nice kick that wasn’t too explosive! The great thing about this dish is that again, it uses simple ingredients and it is very filling. You can make it as thick or chunky as you like though I put mine through the blender to avoid any unexpected lumps and bumps!

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Ingredients:

2x white onion

1x sweet potato

2 handfuls of carrots

garlic (3 cloves at least)

spices for seasoning

Roughly 1000ml vegetable stock

Olive oil

Method:

1. Chop all vegetables, in preparation. Crush garlic, chops potato and carrots into chunky pieces and dice onion.

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2. Sauté the garlic and onions in about 3-4 tablespoons of oil, do this until the onions become translucent and  you get that good garlicky smell taking over your kitchen!

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3. After this is prepared add all the rest of the veg and sauté this for a few extra minutes to soften the vegetables a little before adding the vegetable stock.

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4. Add the stock, ensuring that the vegetables are pretty much covered, you don’t want to risk it being too dry and sticking to your pan!

5. Add your seasoning when you are ready. I like to add peppers, chilli flakes, and paprika, but just taste to your liking.

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6. After this has simmered for 45 minutes or so and the vegetables are soft. Pop it through the blender and this should be now prepared for eating.

7. And we’re done!

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Ramen Noodle Soup (Japanese cuisine #1)

The thing I love about most Japanese dishes is the absolute simplicity of them. There is a technique and minimalist style to Japanese cuisine which can make delicious food with only the most basic of ingredients. In this post I’m going to highlight one of my favourites for convenience and flavour, Ramen Noodle soup. This quick dish is unbelievably simple to make and so nutritious. You can get away with putting lots of different things in it but I kept it quite minimal.

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I must apologise for the quality of some of these pictures, I was in a mad rush when I made this so didn’t have time to sit down and make sure my camera was on the best settings possible, but I have made use of what I captured!

Ingredients:

Ramen Noodles (These can be found in most supermarkets)

Spinach

Beansprouts

Carrots

Garlic

Spring Onions

Vegetable Stock

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Method:

You can add as much or as little veg to this as you like, this is why I tend to avoid writing exact numbers of ingredients. You know what you will like so I am not here to decide that for you!

The method is simple, first chop your veg. I like to grate the carrot, and I cut my spinach into small strips, therefore I am sure that it will all cook pretty evenly.

The only thing to do is add your stock and veg together then wait until it smells good enough to eat!

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When adding your noodles, make sure to add them just 5 minutes before you plan on serving it, I will admit that I added my noodles too early this time and they had a very strange jelly-like consistency. I prefer the noodles a little firmer, so don’t allow them to soak in the heat for too long.

And enjoy! (お楽しみください!)

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Arrival of the Nutri-Bullet! (First Impressions)

I have been very lucky for my birthday this year and one of the most amazing gifts I received was the nutri-bullet which I have been desperate for since I laid eyes on it (thanks mum!). I have heard amazing reviews from both my uncle and other bloggers who have been raving about it so I really wanted to get my hands on one!

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I have had a few puzzled looks when talking about my excitement about the nutri-bullet arriving. And here’s the info; a nutri-bullet is not technically a juicer or a blender…but something kind of in between. This is a super powerful appliance which can pulverise stems, seeds, skins and ice making it into a smooth liquid substance for a delicious drink!

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I got the limited edition cherry red one, there is no difference between this one and the others except that I thought the colour was pretty… In the package I chose, included was the nutri-bullet, all of the complementary accessories, a healing nutrition book and a superfood green powder pack which comes with a whole host of benefits to give your nutriblast a kick!

This is more of a first impressions post as I haven’t had the chance to use it much yet, but what struck me most about it was how EASY it is to use, clean and store (and no, unfortunately I’m not being paid by the marketers). Everything just kind of fits together which is great for me as there’s nothing I hate more than faffing about with things like this trying to piece it together like a jigsaw.

The first nutriblast I made was just thrown together rather than using too much reference to the recipes. I used spinach, blueberries, carrot, strawberries and water…. I don’t know why I put all of these together as they are not all that complementary to one another, but I enjoyed it all the same! It makes the liquid so fast and isn’t as noisy as I expected it would be.

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My main reason for this purchase was that I am always in the rush in the morning and I’d love a quick, easy way to get some nutrients in before I start my day. I have some grapefruit, lemon and mango for tomorrow morning to give me a citrus blast. I need anything that will help me wake up!

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My overall impression of the nutri-bullet after a first use is a good one. It’s exciting as a health blogger to have a fancy new kitchen appliance to play around with. Where many of my friends are excited about new gadgets and computer games…I get excited about the nutri-bullet! I will make sure to do a further update in due course when I find my feet with it highlighting some of the more nutritious benefits but at the moment I am still in excitement mode! Yay!

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AO x

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Quinoa & Spinach Stuffed Peppers

So I will admit that in the last couple of years I have completely jumped on the ‘superfood’ bandwagon…and I think everybody else should too! Avocados, spinach, kale, almonds, salmon…you name it. This post however, focuses on the wheat-free, holy grail substitute for starchy carbs, quinoa (pronounced ‘keen-wah’).

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So why should you be eating it? Well, it is absolutely jam-packed with protein containing all 9 ‘essential’ amino acids (I will do a post on essential aminos in the near future) and it also contains around double the amount of fibre of most other grains. This means quinoa is great for lowering cholesterol and balancing glucose levels, an ideal substitute to things like rice for those with diabetes or heart conditions.On top of this, quinoa is also rich in riboflavin (vitamin B2), iron, magnesium, manganese and lysin, which contribute to the health of your red blood cells, tissue growth and repair, healthy bones and teeth, nerve impulse reactions, energy metabolism, temperature regulation and antioxidants. So there’s not a lot missed out! This recipe takes around 40 minutes to make and one pepper is filling enough for one person…trust me!

Ingredients:

large bell pepper

1x handful of quinoa (your preference)

1 x handful of spinach

2 x spring onions

extra virgin olive oil

seasoning

(There is a picture of a white onion here…but I decided not to use it…)

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Method:

1. Put the quinoa on to boil, this shouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes, though you will know it is cooked as if you look closely, you will see small tail-like sprouts coming from each grain.

2. Heat the oven at around 180°C (fan-assisted oven)…No idea what this is for other ovens, sorry!

3. Prepare your vegetables, cutting finely the spinach and spring onions.

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4. Cut the top from your bell pepper, almost like a ‘lid’, and keep this aside whilst you empty the insides of the pepper ready to stuff.

5. After the quinoa is boiled, drain and return to the pan.

6. Add the spinach and spring onion, and stir this around to get it evenly mixed. At this point you may wish to season with a little salt and pepper, or whatever you fancy!

7. Using a large spoon, stuff the pepper with the quinoa/spinach mix and make sure it is absolutely jam packed before popping the bell pepper ‘lid’ on top and pushing down.

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8. Lightly glaze over with oil

9. Wrap up in tin foil and pop in the oven, this will take a while to cook but you can occasionally check on it by prodding with a knife. When the pepper feels soft to the touch, it is most likely ready.

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10. When it is ready, take the pepper from the oven and put on the plate. NOTE: BE CAREFUL! There will be a burst of steam when you unwrap the tinfoil and you can get a nasty burn…I speak from experience!

11. Garnish as desired…and voila! 😉

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AO x

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