Vegan banana oat pancakes & spiced maple

 

Over-ripe bananas mean one of two things for me: banana bread or pancakes. The latter is one of my absolute favourite breakfast or brunch items, especially when made fluffy and thick with just enough chewiness. One of my go-to places for American pancakes is The Breakfast Club (faultless 99.9% of the time!) but they’re not the healthiest, admittedly. So in those moments when I fancy something similar, these homemade vegan-friendly pancakes are a winner and the perfect way to use up those extra sweet fruit.

For this recipe, the main flavours are bananas and oats, with a few spices and nuts thrown in making them more nutritious. Big win! While I can’t imagine anyone subbing maple syrup from this recipe, warm runny honey or agave syrup will work just as well drizzled at the end. Likewise, fresh blueberries and peaches, or a spoonful of coconut yoghurt elevate these even more. The most important meal of the day is about get tastier!

Serves 2-4. Makes 6-8 pancakes | Prep: 5 mins  Cooking: 12-16 mins

For the pancakes: 

  • 2 medium ripe bananas
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk: soya, almond or oat work well
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or fresh vanilla bean paste
  • 100g plain flour
  • 2 tbsp rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp Linwoods flaxseed, almond, brazil nut and walnut mix (ground almonds will also work)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • Vegetable or sunflower oil

To serve:

  • Good quality maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice

Step one: In a blender, nutribullet or by hand, mix the chopped bananas, milk and vanilla until completely smooth in texture.

Step two: In a large dry bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, oats, nut mix, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Add the liquid banana puree and mix well. Set aside in the fridge for 10 minutes to activate the raising agent.

Step three: Heat up a non-stick pan with a little vegetable or sunflower oil. 3 tablespoons of mixture should be enough for each pancake. Cook for a minute on each side or until well coloured, adding more oil when needed.

Step four: Heat up the maple syrup in small saucepan (as much as desired) with the mixed spice until warm. Drizzle over the pancakes and serve.

Mediterranean tray bake

I’ve found myself making this tray bake a few times over the summer months. There are some days when a meal you can make with just a few minutes prep and under 30 minutes cooking time is essential. I call this a tray bake because it literally uses one baking tray and a selection of seasonal veg in golden tones that once roasted, look like jewels. Here, I’ve opted for a few favourites; butternut squash, sweet potatoes, peppers, sun-dried tomatoes and tangy feta cheese for a balance against the sweetness of the veg. A few alternatives could be courgettes, red onions or pumpkin for a similar finish.

I like to serve this one simply on it’s own, but for meat or fish eaters, herb baked salmon or garlic chicken would be an ideal accompaniment. I’ve also enjoyed this with a cous cous salad, my spicy bean burgers (recipe coming soon!) and condiments like hummus. It really is a versatile side dish or substantial main meal that is light on calories, full on flavour!

Serves 3-4 | Method: 10 mins | Cooking: 25 mins

For the mixed veg:

  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 large white or red onion
  • 1 medium red bell pepper
  • 3 orange sweet potatoes
  • 10 – 12 sun-dried tomatoes soaked in olive oil
  • 2 tbsp runny honey
  • Olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs (thyme, basil, oregano)
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 lemon
  • Salt and black pepper

To serve:

  • Feta cheese

Step one: Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees for 10 minutes while you prepare the veg.

Step two: Wash and chop the squash and sweet potatoes into even chunks. Slice the onion and pepper in wedges. Lay them all on a the baking tray.

Step three: Drizzle over enough oil to coat the veg. Crush over the garlic and dot the tray with the tomatoes. Season evenly with the honey, herbs, spices, salt and pepper.

Step four: Bake for approx 25 minutes, turning after 15 to ensure an even bake.

Step five: To serve, garnish with the cubed feta cheese and a squeeze of lemon juice. Et voila!

 

Coconut, almond & honey granola

Autumnal Sundays… bliss! Like most people, the weekends are my excuse for a bit of a treat come breakfast time, and this nifty recipe gets things started on a high. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love a good granola. Whilst trying to stay mindful and start the day off on a positive note, I always reach for granola, yogurt, and fruit/seeds. It’s a satisfying combo and if you’re on the go, you can always take it with you. I’ll have those lazy days where a Pret granola or bircher pot is a damn good substitute, though, but there’s nothing better than making your own. I feel like granola has joined the health craze just like green smoothies, matcha tea and almond milk, but before this breakfast item became all the rave, I’d always experiment with ways make my own. There’s only pot involved and one oven tray, meaning minimal fuss and washing up. On an evening or weekend, you can whip a batch up in under 30 minutes and store the remainder in an airtight kilner jar for the next few days. Winner for those who like to meal prep!

You’d be surprised how many variations of this recipe you can make, from adding dried fruits and raw nuts, to things like nutmeg, flax seeds and even dark chocolate! I’ve gone for a classic combo here with dried coconut, flaked almonds and runny honey. I like a good chunky texture, which is the only main difference between this and a shop bought version as I find those way too crumbly, plus there’s a hint of vanilla extract which makes the whole thing smell incredible. Why not switch up your weekend routine and try this super quick granola? I best enjoy mine with chopped apple, cinnamon, and my favourite greek yogurt, but a natural or soya yogurt will work just as well.

Makes 1 large kilner jar | Method: 10 mins | Cooking: 20 mins

For the granola mix:

  • 100g softened unsalted butter
  • 250g rolled oats
  • 60g flaked almonds
  • 75g unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • 25g raisins or sultanas
  • 25g demerara sugar
  • 3 tbsp runny honey
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or essence
  • Pinch of salt

To serve:

  • 1 small apple (preferred variety)
  • 1 small pot or three tbsp thick Greek yogurt (preferred variety)

Step one: Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and pre-heat your oven to 220 degrees for 10 minutes while you prepare the granola mix.

Step two: Add the butter, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon to a large pot. Melt on a medium heat until evenly mixed.

Step three: Add the almonds, coconut and saltanas then slowly add the oats and finish with the salt. Mix until everything is well coated with the butter mixture.

Step four: You’ll want to turn off the heat at this stage and add the honey. Adding it at the end will stop it from melting too much and will allow the mixture to become sticky and pliable.

Step five: Whilst the mixture is still warm, take handfuls and begin to mould with your fingers. The idea is to take small chunks and scatter onto the baking tray. The bigger the chunks, the more texture you’ll have once baked.

Step six: Bake for 20 minutes in the centre of the oven. Once baked, cool for 10 minutes before eating and decanting into a jar. This will keep for 3 days.

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The Wonder of Wanderlust

“Travel and change of place impart new vigour to the mind.”

Travelling is one of those things most of us aspire to do, but in reality we don’t do enough. For anyone like me, you’ll have a revolving wish list that grows month after month. One minute you’re soul searching for Yoga retreats in Bali and the next you’re certain a friends’ holiday to Miami will be the best experience of your life. The world is a colossal place after all, and in 2016 finding travel inspiration is almost too easy.  I usually flick through Stylist’s ‘Escape Routes’ on a Wednesday and find myself lured into the charm of coastline views and thermal spas across the Med. This is swiftly followed by the realisation that £2,000 is probably a little extreme for some sunshine. So, feet firmly back on the ground I look at more realistic ways to travel and find that I’m never disappointed.
Luckily, I’ve been able to visit a substantial amount of destinations across the globe (24 and counting) and that has shaped my outlook on what it means to really enjoy holidays, big or small. Even a little breath of good ol country air on UK soil is enough to recharge those batteries and appreciate the freedom of travel. When it comes to planning, packing, spending and those exciting bits in between, I’ve managed to adopt a list of essential tips to guide me through – especially on a budget! This year, if a 5 star holiday to desolate sandy shores isn’t feasible but a 3 day city break is, there’s no reason not to make the best memories!

 

“IN 2016, FINDING TRAVEL INSPIRATION IS ALMOST TOO EASY.”

Where to start?
  • Write down what kind of holiday you want – what are your interests? Are you a huge foodie or culture enthusiast? Let this be the basis of your search in terms of location
  • Assess your budget and mentally stick to it
  • Weekend or week-long blowout?
  • Who are you travelling with – solo or group? If it’s a group, who is the lead organiser? You’d be surprised how essential this is
  • Do your research! Get online, read magazines and blogs, speak to travel agents, friends and family
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Six travel hacks:
  • Price compare: Flights can drastically increase/decrease just days apart so it’s worth checking out a few different sites and being flexible with departure dates. Flying off-peak can save you £! Shop around for currency conversion rates too. Post Office Currency is a good start but avoid currency bureaus in busy stations and airports that will charge a premium.
  • airbnb : If you’ve never tried this innovative way to travel, you need to. Take your pick of local people’s homes in near 200 destinations based on style, size, location and price. Let them host you or rent the entire property for your stay. It’s a revelation.
  • easyJet Euro currency cardA simple and secure way to take money abroad. It’s free and uses chip and pin security. Oh, and there’s no transaction fees!
  • Cash over card: I’d always advise taking cash (converted) and keeping a credit card as back up. You can monitor what you spend much easier avoid unnecessary charges.
  • Avoid the excess: Pack with interchangeable outfits and accessories in mind rather than too many single items. You’ll save suitcase space, potential airport fees and time stressing in the mornings!
  • Going solo: More and more of us are travelling alone and it’s a liberating experience. If a hotel isn’t on the cards, airbnb is perfect if you want a little home comfort. I’d always recommend learning just the basics of the language so you can talk to locals. Be sure to try new food, find new ways to relax and take in everything you see around you. It’s a completely different experience to having company 24/7 and you can plan your time (and expenditures) freely.

City escapes:
For some reason the word ‘holiday’ prompts conversations about countries far and wide, like the Caribbean, Asia and the US. We want the skylines, the shopping malls, the palm trees and the 40-degree heat; but sometimes we forget that European cities and those closer to home can offer a pleasurable holiday too! For the free spirits on a shoestring budget and tight timescale, here’s my top 4 recommendations!

WE WANT THE SKYLINES, THE SHOPPING MALLS, THE PALM TREES AND THE 40 DEGREE HEAT.”

  • Copenhagen and Stockholm ooze Nordic charm and are aesthetically pleasing, within easy reach of major UK cities like London, and are a perfect mix of great food and culture. You’ll find cheap last minute flights on easyJet and Sky Scanner, two of my recommended travel websites, and once there you can travel mostly by foot or bike. Explore lush green spaces, island hop by boat, explore attractive shopping districts, eat your way through local delicacies and capture the candy coloured buildings through the lens. The streets are clean, the people are friendly and the pace is laid-back.
  • Berlin is another incredible city full of vibrancy and adventure year-round! Whether you hit the stylish streets to people watch during Fashion Week, mingle with the locals at karneval der kulturen, or explore the energetic nightlife and music scene, there’s something to keep you occupied from dusk till dawn. Make the most of free galleries, markets, lakes and parks. At its cheapest, you can get to Berlin for around £20 each way – a bargain if there ever was one! Most people speak fluent English there, so getting around is a breeze on public transport.
  • Prague in the Czech Republic is a mere two-hour flight away from London, and it’s beautifully well preserved. Again, flights are a snip with airlines like easyJet and Ryan Air. Explore the Old and New Towns, National Galleries and historic Prague Castle, or enjoy live music through the cobbled streets before a dreamy sunset over Charles Bridge. Amongst bespoke jewellers, bakeries, bars and cultural hotspots, Prague will have you lusting over its picture perfect postcard streets.

In The Kitchen: 5 Essential Reads

For some people, cookbooks can seem like a little bit of a hassle. You buy them with good intention and then you look at the lists of ingredients and hours of preparation time required, and things go downhill from there. Instead, they sit gathering dust on the shelf and those wonderful recipes you envisioned never get made (except that one time… remember?). My mum springs to mind here, because growing up she always had a treasure chest full of books and magazines that lay dormant for “next weekend”. She is a brilliant cook might I add, so I guess she had no immediate need for those books but she would whip them out now and again have a quick read then they would go back to their nest, untouched. I’d read them in my spare time and I think visually, I started to appreciate food and food photography from there.

Fast forward 15+ years and I’ll spend hours rummaging through book shops, charity shops and online looking for inspiration from my favourite chefs and influencers. Things have taken a huge shift since the 90s and earlier 00s in terms of what’s available out there on the market. Authors know people want speedy, fresh, flavourful food that can adapt to working family lifestyles and those on both a budget and timescale. More bloggers and influencers are creating recipes for their online following. More of us are opting for alternative diets; plant-based, vegetarianism, gluten-free, dairy-free. Recipe books are offering up recipes as diverse as those who buy into them and I personally am so excited by this.

So, I’ve taken my time and sifted through my collection and here’s five of the best. I champion the vegetarian diet, so there’s a mix of books aimed to keep our health and wellbeing in balance. I hope you’re inspired to go out and try some of these!

Amanda Brocket | The Raw Food Kitchen

My latest addition to the bookshelf is The Raw Food Kitchen which I picked up in one of my favourite homeware stores, Oliver Bonas. Amanda’s philosophy on food and health is really refreshing and she aims to make raw diets accessible and appealing. She manages to break down the meaning of eating ‘raw’ beyond fruits and vegetables and talks about the benefits to the body, changes you’ll expect, ingredient lists and shares personal stories about her struggle with Candida and gut health. I can relate to this so I have enjoyed learning as I’ve flicked through the many beautifully photographed pages.

She also goes into lengthy detail about variations on everyday foods we enjoy (as not to alienate readers) as well as adding a nifty little meal planner before delving into recipes. If you’re on a new raw food journey and need some realistic inspiration, give this a try. Expect colourful salads, juices, snacks, stir-frys, ice-cream, breakfast foods and more.

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Plenty More | Ottolenghi

Plenty More is the book I return to most often. It’s just one of a series of cookbooks by Yotam Ottolenghi and offers superb recipes and photography that focus on the humble vegetable with strong Mediterranean influence. In his introduction (so well written), he explains his journey to appreciating the vegetarian diet and his influences. Dishes are vibrant, daring and visually inviting, yet with minimal fuss. I think the pictures really speak for themselves! What’s nice is that every recipe introduction is a personal account referencing friends, colleagues and family.

If you get the chance, visit one of his restaurants and deli’s across London. Nopi is next on my hit list!

LEON – Ingredients & Recipes

An oldie but goodie. Londoners know the well-know chain that is LEON – offering naturally fast food and getting us through the hectic working week, but where did it all begin? This book focuses on the founders; Henry, John and Allegra who opened up the first branch in Carnaby Street mid 2004. This book is split into two halves essentially: the first touches on the A-Z of ingredients (this book includes meat and dairy) and the second is the recipe book. So for anyone wanting a thorough lesson in seasonality, sourcing, understanding ingredients, eating habits and local produce then this book will get you an A* grade.

As well as the retro visuals, smooth matte pages and colourful content, LEON does a wonderful job of sharing recipes from the LEON family and is not short on ideas or creative content. From hearty soups and stews, to superfood salads and puddings all in line with the LEON philosophy, there are recipes to see you through the seasons. Wholly worth the read.

Neal’s Yard Remedies – Healing Foods

I have a lot of love for this book. It is simply a fantastic curation of ingredients, recipes and knowledge on the power of foods to heal the body of ailments. It talks about dietary patterns, the western diet, seasonality and healthy supplements before going into an A-Z of ingredients and properties. Now, I thought I knew about food but this will educate even the most seasoned traveller and foodie out there!

Expect recipes from breakfast to dinner, snacks, condiments and a pretty clever recipe chooser which offers up a list of recipes from the book for specific problems like heart health or detoxing. All in all, a handy book that leaves no stone unturned. You’ll definitely reevaluate your next weekly shop!

Natasha Corrett | Honestly Healthy Cleanse

Alkaline, alkaline, alkaline. It’s the motto of this neat and tidy book from Natasha Corrett. It’s split into four sections: feel good, slim down, high energy and life changing – all designed to cleanse the body over a set amount of days – menu planner included. Natasha gently guides you though the rules of the cleanse, why our bodies should be more alkaline than acidic and answers common questions too. A quick ingredient list sets you up for the next few pages of simple, honest food that looks (and tastes) fab. I enjoy making recipes from this book and it’s one I pick up when I want a quick one week detox.

Summer Style: In Focus

It’s May and I’m so ready for summer! I’m wondering if I’ll get to pull out my stash of floaty fabrics gathering dust under the bed anytime soon? I guess during the warmer months, we tend to experiment a little more with our personal style. We stray away from monochrome and inject a pop of colour and personality into our attire. For me, I like to freshen up my mostly high street and vintage aesthetic with understated jewellery, bold lip colours and varied textures. I also love to accessorise with a great pair of sunglasses!

For some reason, most styles I try on suit me which is a great confidence boost but not so great for the purse strings, you know? They really elevate a look into something effortlessly stylish and individual. Like a vintage bag or great pair of shoes, they instantly become the centre piece of the outfit and meaning you can essentially ‘build your look’ around this single item. Good news for those fashion conscious folk who are rushed for time!

Buying glasses online can be a challenge because you can’t always determine how they might look in person, but buying online is a smart and savvy way to find special offers and exclusive styles! It’s also a great place to find new online retailers, share with your friends and read genuine customer reviews. These super sleek Wayfarer frames from Glasses Shop are my new favourite accessory this spring/summer! The two-tone detail and shape really frame my face and the muted browns go with so many outfits without being OTT. Whether you like an eccentric Cat Eye or a squared oversized frame, there is a style to suit every taste. Their range of high quality, light and durable frames extend to prescription sunglasses too which are amazingly affordable, so you can get holiday ready in no time!

Glasses Shop offer customised lenses and coatings, and ship internationally so you don’t have to miss out on a stunning pair of cheap glasses this season! Get 50% off your order using the discount code GSHOT50. Excludes sale items.

This post is in collaboration with Glasses Shop. Check out the full range online.

Asian noodle soup

As soon as winter swings around, the British tradition is always to enjoy a few more warming home cooked meals that can be knocked up quickly without spending hours in the kitchen. For me, by the time January comes around I want to consciously eat cleaner, but still keep that element of comfort food for those cold nights! This recipe is one I created based on my appreciation of Asian flavours and the humble coconut and it also happens to be a brilliant way to use up the remainder of fresh veggies in the fridge come Sunday.

So, all you really need is 20 minutes spare in the evening and you’re good to go. The noodles really bulk out this soup, so it can easily serve 3-4 or if you’re cooking for one then divide out for the week. As with most of the recipes on here, adapt the heat/spice to your liking so if you want a milder flavour just use one chilli.

Serves 4 | Prep: 5 mins  Cooking: 15 mins

Ingredients: 

• 1 large carrot
• 1 small red bell pepper
• 2 spring onions
• 1 small white onion
• 2 green chillies
• 1 garlic clove
• 1 oxo vegetable stock cube or 1 tbsp bouillon powder
• 2 handfuls fresh or frozen green beans
• 200ml good quality coconut cream
• 300ml hot water
• 2 dried wheels of dried wholewheat noodles or rice noodles
• 1/2 tsp curry powder
• 1/2 tsp turmeric
• 1/2 tsp ground ginger
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 1 tsp sesame oil
• Sea salt and black pepper

Step one: Prep the veggies. You’ll need to peel and cut the carrot into four even quarters and then slice finely length ways. Finely slice the onion, bell pepper and spring onions to even sizes. Crush the garlic clove.

Step two: Heat a large, deep saucepan on a medium heat with the olive oil. Add the garlic, chillies and onion and sweat for 2 minutes until softened.

Step three: Add the coconut cream and water, stir and simmer for 2 minutes before adding the spices, seasoning and stock cube.

Step four: Add the remaining veggies except the green beans. These cook the quickest and should be added last to retain the crunch and colour. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Step five: For the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the noodles and green beans and cook until soft. Serve hot and garnish a few spring onions and a drizzle of sesame oil.