Nutrition & Recipes

Chocolate Orange Date Balls

I created these chocolate orange balls a number of years ago to help me to increase my protein intake. I also wanted something to help clients who were snacking on chocolate to have an alternative snack to eat in the evenings. Whilst these date balls are high in sugar from the dates they are packed full of nutrients so that you are getting more goodness than from a bar of chocolate.

That said I would like to reassure you that there is nothing wrong with eating chocolate. I am a big fan of having a balanced diet and yes that does include crisps and chocolate in moderation.

My 3 year old daughter loves these chocolate orange date balls and calls them chocolate balls. It makes me really happy to know that she is having a snack that fills her up a bit not just consuming lots of sugar. I just make sure she doesn’t have too many and she drinks water with them to try and limit the impact of the dates on her teeth.

I really love lime and chocolate together and for a long time I have been trying to think of a healthier recipe I could make with both of these ingredients in. Recently it came to me that these date balls are perfect, I simply swapped the orange for the juice of 2 limes and they were delicious. If you don’t want them as tangy then use less lime. I think the lime version have been an even bigger hit with my daughter than the orange ones!

Date Balls Ingredients:

  • 250g Medjool dates
  • Rind and juice of one large orange (or 2 limes)
  • 1 tablespoon cacao powder
  • 55g ground almonds
  • 2 tablespoon chia seeds
  • To coat either cacao powder, chopped nuts or coconut

Method:

  1. Put the dates and orange juice and peel into a food processor and blitz till mixed
  2. Add other ingredients and blitz some more until it forms a soft ball of paste
  3. Roll into small balls and coat in either of the above coating ingredients
  4. Leave to dry overnight on a baking tray or plate
  5. Store in the fridge or freezer

The date balls can be stored in the fridge or freezer. My top tip for clients who find it difficult to resist eating a whole batch at once is to store them in the freezer and take a few out to defrost a few hours before you want them.

If you’d like to try more of my health snacks then check out more of my recipes.

No Bake Flapjack

This no bake flapjack is super quick and easy to make. I’ve found it a great way to get some nutrition and calories into my toddler. She isn’t very good at eating breakfast and then gets hangry mid morning, so these flapjacks hit the spot for her. She prefers pumpkin seeds to sunflower so I use those but any mix of seeds would work, obviously chop them up if you are using them for younger children.

They are high in fat and have protein from the seeds and peanut butter. They are very low sugar, I have made these without adding any sugar but I think they taste a bit better with 1 tbsp honey in, however you could put more in to taste. The honey also helps them to stick together a bit better.

These flapjacks would work well as a post workout snack too, however they don’t travel very well as they need to be kept cool so I wouldn’t advise taking them out on a day trip.

They can be made vegan my swapping the honey for maple syrup and gluten-free by using gluten-free oats.

Ingredients for no bake flapjack:

  • 175g oats
  • 30g raisins
  • 25g seeds
  • 100g smooth peanut butter (use natural 100% nuts)
  • 60g coconut oil
  • 1tbsp honey

Method:

  1. Line an 8”x8” tin with parchment paper
  2. Melt the coconut oil and peanut butter in a pan
  3. Mix the oats, raisins and seeds together in a large bowl
  4. Pour over the peanut butter mixture, stir well
  5. Place the mixture into the tin and press down firmly
  6. Place in the freezer for about 1 hour to set
  7. Remove, slice and store in the fridge

What are your favourite recipes for a hangry toddler? If you enjoy this recipe, pop a comment below and check out my other snack recipes here

Relaxation for Children

Relaxation for Children is so important. There is no doubt that the current situation we find ourselves in is having an impact on our children. Whether it be that they are just missing their friends or are showing signs of stress and anxiety; our children’s lives have changed massively over the past year. Whilst this has been challenging for children there is also an argument that they will be more resilient as a result.

This week is #ChildrensMentalHealthWeek and I want to do something a bit different to help. So here is a free guided relaxation that is suitable for children aged 9-13 years old.

I am passionate about teaching children skills from a young age to help them to manage stress and anxiety so I hope this relaxation helps. I wish that I had these skills and tools whilst I was growing up to help me manage my anger.

This rainbow relaxation comes from my Dru Yoga Kids and Teens training. Using the image of a rainbow it creates an opportunity for children to replace worries and negative thoughts with positive affirmations. I would recommend doing this relaxation daily if possible to help your child to manage stress and anxiety.

I’m not currently teaching any yoga classes for children, however, if you enjoy this let me know and I will look at putting together a prerecorded package of relaxations together and maybe even some movement ones too.

Let me know in the comments how your children get on or if you have any questions.

Jenny x

Flapjack Made with Only Fruit for Sweetness!

This delicious no added sugar flapjack came about whilst I was trying to find snacks to feed my toddler. I wanted something that could also be eaten at breakfast. As she is going through a phase of only wanting to eat fruit for breakfast and then having a meltdown because she is so hungry!

These flapjacks are vegan and can be made with gluten-free oats if required.

I use dates to add sweetness, fibre and a number of different vitamins and minerals to these flapjacks. Dates have a low glycemic Index (GI), so some studies suggest that they can help to stabilise blood sugar levels.

Whilst coconut oil is high in saturated fat it is solid at room temperature. This helps to bind the flapjack ingredients together instead of using syrup. It also adds a bit of extra sweetness and flavour. I consciously didn’t want these to be low fat as I want them to help fill my daughter up.

I have used rhubarb and orange compote as they go together really well and rhubarb is currently in season. As we come into apple season you can simply replace the rhubarb compote with stewed apples.

Flapjack Ingredients:

  • 100g coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 12 dates
  • 280g oats
  • 200g rhubarb and orange compote

Method:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 180°C
  2. Make a rhubarb and orange compote, here is a recipe if you need it
  3. Chop the dates in a blender until they are finely chopped
  4. Gently melt the heat the coconut oil until it is just melted
  5. In a bowl combine the coconut oil, dates, vanilla essence and oats until well mixed
  6. Place half of the mixture into a small baking tray, pressing it down firmly
  7. Put the rhubarb compote on top and spread evenly
  8. Cover the rhubarb with the remaining oat mixture and press down firmly
  9. Bake for 25 minutes. Leave to cool and then slice

If you enjoyed this recipe then why not check out my other healthy snack recipes here

Roasted Cashew Nuts

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve found myself reaching for chocolate and crisps in an evening as I’ve been so tired from looking after a toddler 24/7. I’m doing a lot more yoga and walking than I have for a long time so I don’t feel guilty for eating these things. However, I do feel like I’m now ready for some healthier options so this week I’ve made home roasted cashew nuts.

They hit the salty and the sweet craving whilst the cashew nuts are packed full of iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, phosphorus, and manganese, you just need to make sure you don’t eat all of them in one go as they do contain 2tbsp of maple syrup!

I have made these with a mixture of cashew nuts and peanuts before which worked well, so I imagine they would work well with most combinations of nuts if you wanted to mix it up a bit. You can also play around with the flavour combinations too, I find that cinnamon works well.

Ingredients for Roasted Cashew Nuts:

  • 250g raw cashew nuts
  • 2tbsp maple syrup
  • 2tbsp low salt soya sauce or tamari
  • 1/2tsp Chinese 5 spice

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4
  2. Mix the maple syrup, soya sauce and Chinese 5 spice together in a bowl
  3. Add to cashew nuts and stir until coated
  4. Place the cashews in a single layer on a lined baking tray and cook for 20 minutes, stir half way through
  5. Remove them when they start to turn brown, the nuts will be soft but will harden when they cool
  6. Allow the nuts to cool, and then break up and store in an airtight container

I’d love to hear how you get on with this recipe, so pop a comment below. If you’d like more healthy snack ideas the check out my other snack recipes

Pumpkin and Apple Slices

These pumpkin and apple slices are a great way to get extra veg in to your child’s (and your own) diet.

Since becoming a mum I’ve been exploring ways to get more veg into children without them realising it’s there! I’m fortunate that my little girl is very good at eating healthily, however I’m very conscious that this might not last forever. So whilst I’m making the most of it, I’m also including hidden veg so when the day comes when she gets more fussy I hopefully have a head start. So far these pumpkin and apple slices have been going down a treat, she loves them!

I’m also a big advocate for not giving children unnecessary sugar and whilst I’ve gone as far as keeping my daughter completely added sugar-free for 2 years, I don’t expect everyone else to. Whilst keeping her diet sugar-free I don’t want her to feel like she is missing out, so I often make her sugar-free cakes.

Now that she is getting older, I am starting to relax my take on sugar because I don’t want her to grow up thinking that she needs to restrict certain foods and in turn create a child who secretly binges. So, these pumpkin and apple slices are a great next step as they only have 2 tablespoons of maple syrup in the whole cake.

Recipe adaptations

These pumpkin and apple slices are dairy-free and made without any added fat and can easily be made vegan by replacing the egg with 1 small mashed banana. If you don’t have access to pumpkin, then they work equally well with butternut squash instead.

Nutrients

Pumpkins are good to keep your heart healthy, keep your cholesterol down and keep your vision tiptop. They are packed full of vitamins and minerals including Vitamin A and C, antioxidants and potassium.

Ingredients:

  • 170g grated raw pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • 120g apple sauce (I leave the skin on, remove the core, chop and stew apples with a bit of water)
  • 2tbsp maple syrup
  • 115g self raising flour
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • 60g coconut
  • 60g raisins

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to Gas mark 5/190degrees
  2. Grease a 7” square tin, I use a silicone one so it doesn’t need greasing
  3. Whisk the apple and honey together in a food mixer.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well
  5. Spoon into the tin and bake for 40mins

If you liked this recipe why not check out more of my healthy toddler snacks

ME and my journey to fitness

My journey into nutrition and yoga started following after I was diagnosed in 2006 with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) which is also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). I have worked hard to get myself into a good place where my health is stable, and my symptoms are at a very manageable level. You can read more on my journey into nutrition and yoga here.

However, there have been a couple of incidents recently that have really triggered me into feeling frustrated about my health condition. Generally, I manage it really well and have managed to turn my thoughts around so that I don’t get as frustrated with not being able to do things I used to. However, as a natural sporty person I still find it really hard that I can’t go out running, swimming, canoeing and doing other things that I love to do. I’ve seen a number of social media posts about people doing crazy exercise routines and/or weight loss journeys and for me it’s a real trigger that makes me feel that I’m not doing enough.

Over the summer I have been on a couple of family holidays during which I have been able to do things I haven’t been able to do for years. The highlight was going on a 4 hour sea kayaking trip in Scotland. I was so proud of myself for being able to do it and for how quickly I recovered afterwards especially as I have no choice but to keep going whilst running after a toddler!

Whilst these adventures were great it has left me feeling that I want to get fit again, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to tone up and lose a few pounds in the process but my overall aim is to increase my fitness so I can go on more adventures and so that I can join in when my little girl wants to do them. Whilst I teach yoga and do yoga most days to help keep me well, I feel like I’m not cardiovascular fit and it feels like I’m not practising what I preach about looking after my body!

I accept that I need to start small and work my way up to ensure that I don’t burn out, but this is blooming hard for someone who is naturally competitive. So, I started looking for YouTube videos that were 10 minutes long that I could do every other day. I have found it hard to find videos that fit my needs, everything I found was a 10 minute HIIT style class designed to get you burning calories and toning up fast but leaving me crumpled in a heap! When I searched for videos for people with health conditions even those were too hard for me.

For those of you that don’t know much about M.E./CFS it is basically constant extreme fatigue, the only thing I can liken it to is like having jet lag and flu at the same time!! I get 2 types of pain; muscle and bone pain, the muscle pain is like having really bad lactic acid after a gym session only not having done the exercise first.

So I decided to recruit some help, I approach Emma from Seal Fitness (http://www.seal-fitness.co.uk/) to see if she would be interested in helping me. Most PT clients need their trainer to push them to their limits whilst I need Emma to reign me in and hold me back. I needed someone who knew about injuries (I have a lot, from my former sporting days) and about pacing. Emma has lots of experience in both of these areas, her journey into becoming a personal trainer started when her husband broke and dislocated his neck (fortunately he made an amazing recovery). As a sports person, he was frustrated with the advice to rest and wait for a year so between them they gently strengthened his body again. Emma has also had her own journey through recovering from injuries, so she was the ideal choice for me.

I met up with Emma and we agreed a plan that we would start very slowly and do 10-15 minute sessions to help me build my strength and fitness up. I’ve decided to document this journey to help other people like me who are frustrated with not having access to videos and workouts that start right at the beginning of a fitness journey. I’m hoping the workouts will help people with health issues, postnatal and other issues to see that you don’t have to go all out to make a difference to your body. This isn’t going to be about the stats, how much I weigh or how many inches I’ve lost but a journey about getting my fitness back and the barriers along the way. Recently someone said something to me along the lines of “it’s ok for people like you, you look like a yoga teacher and it’s not hard for you to do yoga like it is for the rest of us”. My first instinct to this comment was to be really hurt, I felt like I was being unfairly judged that because I look healthy and well that I must be. My second was to feel incredibly proud of myself as I have got to a place where I look healthy and well and that my yoga looks good (as I am prone to being hard on myself my ego liked this). My third thought was that I want to show people how yoga can help by just doing a little bit at a time, that 15 minutes a day can make a massive difference and that I know what it’s like to live with a health condition and to have to manage it on a daily basis.  So I will also share some of my personal practice with you all to, to give you an idea of what you can do each day to improve your health and to show that the style of yoga I do is suitable for everyone.

Session 1 – Getting started with ME

I was super excited and nervous about my first session with Emma. I tend to overdo things and then pay the price later; I can generally do quite a lot and then the pain and fatigue kicks in a few hours later. I was nervous as having a toddler means I don’t have the luxury of taking a couple of days off to rest if I overdo it.

Emma was fantastic we talked through issues and plans and decided on a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) session, each activity would last 20 seconds and there would be 3 activities in the circuit. I would then have a rest and repeat the circuit 2 more times. I did 2 different circuits altogether. There is a video of the first circuit I did, I was finding it really challenging to walk not run between each ball throw and please don’t judge me on my cheating shoulders on the ropes, I couldn’t get them to stay down at all!

In total I did 6 minutes of circuits plus warm up and cool down stretches on top. I had a mixture of emotions all the way through. I think if I called myself a wimp one more time Emma may have wacked me over the head with the punching pads!! On one side I loved it, being back doing exercise felt great, I was super proud of myself for doing it and for not going out all guns blazing. However, I also really struggled mentally with how little I could do and physically my legs were wobbly by the time I finished. Covering a friend’s yoga class that evening was possibly not my cleverest plan and so the following morning I could feel my legs had worked, for anyone that saw me walking up or downstairs or squatting during class that was the reason I was wincing.

Lessons learnt after my first session:

  1. The level of intensity was enough for me and I need to do it more often to gradually build up. So, Emma is creating a routine for me that I can do at home
  2. Mentally I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, however, I need to increase my meditation to help me be kind to myself
  3. In the next session I am only going to use positive language when I speak to myself

Delicious Dhal Recipe

Some days you can’t beat a delicious Dhal for lunch! I love Dhal as it is so easy to prepare and it’s a great Ayurveda recipe for reducing pitta, which is something I’m usually in need of. Pitta dosha is known as your inner fire, it controls your digestion, metabolism and energy production. Therefore, during the summer months pitta dosha can be high due to a number of things including the warmer weather.

So getting back to the dhal recipe I’m loving my new Instant Pot (for those of you’ve who have never heard of it, it’s a 7-in-1 cooking gadget that does slow cooking as well as pressure cooking, as well as lots of other things) and playing around with recipes. This Dhal took just 30 minutes to cook. This dhal recipe will work equally well in a normal pan or a slow cooker it will just take longer for the lentils to soften.

Not only is this Dhal vegan and gluten-free it is packed full of protein so will keep you full for hours.

Ingredients for the Dhal:

Serves 4

  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2tbsp coconut oil
  • 2tsp turmeric
  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • 2tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1tsp ground coriander 
  • 2tsp curry powder
  • 160g Moong Dhal
  • 700ml water
  • 2 large handfuls spinach
  • 1 small handful fresh coriander

Method:

  1. Chop the garlic and onions and grate the ginger
  2. If using an Instant Pot set it to the sauté function and add the coconut oil. If using a pan heat the coconut oil in the pan
  3. Add the onions, garlic and ginger and fry until softened
  4. Add the cumin seeds, ginger, cumin, coriander and curry powder and stir for a few minutes until the flavour of the spices is released
  5. Add the moong dhal and water, stir well. If using the Instant Pot set to manual pressure cooking for 10 minutes and left it to release for 10 minutes. If using a pan, reduce the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes (check with the cooking instructions on the Moong Dhal packet)
  6. Stir in the spinach, lemon and coriander and left it for a few minutes on keep warm setting (instant pot) or on a low heat (pan) to cook the spinach
  7. Serve with rice or chapati

If you’ve enjoyed this recipe why not check out my other lunch ideas and add a comment below.

Vegan Fruit Scones

These vegan fruit scones are super quick and easy to make. Until recently I’d never made scones, and then inspired by a holiday in Scotland I decided to make cheese scones for my toddler. When they came out of the oven they looked and smelled delicious, however, I was unable to eat them due to being lactose intolerant so I decided to play around and came up with these vegan fruit scones.

I tested them on my baby yoga class and at my mini retreat and they went down a treat! I served them with my heathy chia jam and some coconut cream. To make the coconut cream I simply got a can of coconut milk, placed it in the fridge for a couple of hours and then scooped the thick cream off the top of the milk.

These vegan fruit scones have no added sugar they are simply sweetened by the dried fruit and you can use whatever dried fruit you have, raisins, sultanas and apricots work well. This makes them a great snack for toddlers too.

Ingredients for Vegan Fruit Scones:

Makes 14 mini scones

  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 40g melted coconut oil
  • 140ml almond milk
  • 50g dried fruit

Method:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7
  2. Line 2 baking trays with grease proof paper
  3. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl
  4. Melt the coconut oil and add to the flour
  5. Use a spoon to mix the coconut oil into the flour until it has the consistency of fine breadcrumbs
  6. Add the dried fruit and stir well
  7. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in a little bit of the milk
  8. Using your hands fold in the milk, keep adding the milk and folding until you have a dough, the dough will be slightly wet
  9. Place the dough on a chopping board or clean surface that has been dusted with flour
  10. Knead the dough for a couple of minutes
  11. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin until it is about 2cm thick
  12. Using a biscuit cutter cut the dough into scones
  13. Place the cut dough onto the baking trays, leaving enough space between the scones for them to expand
  14. If you have any dough edges left you can knead them again, roll them out and cut more scones
  15. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes
  16. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy

If you’ve enjoyed this recipe why not check out my other vegan recipes?

Cheese Scones

Until recently I’d never made cheese scones, or any scones for that matter. However, after a holiday in Scotland where cheese scones seemed to be sold in every café I thought I’d give them a go as they make a great snack for toddlers.

I was surprised by how easy they are to make and how little time they take to cook! I’m really looking forward to my daughter helping me make them when she is a tiny bit older.

I took the cheese scones to my baby yoga class and the mums and babies loved them! The texture is great for little ones to be able to hold without them breaking apart too much.

This recipe works best if you use butter at room temperature so that it is easier to mix into the flour

Ingredients for Cheese Scones:

Makes 14 mini scones

  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 150ml milk
  • 75g grated cheese

Method:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7
  2. Line 2 baking trays with grease proof paper
  3. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl
  4. Cut the butter into small cubes and add to the flour
  5. Use your hands to rub the butter into the flour until it has the consistency of fine breadcrumbs
  6. Grate the cheese and add it to the flour and butter, stirring well
  7. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in a little bit of the milk
  8. Using your hands fold in the milk, keep adding the milk and folding until you have a dough
  9. Place the dough on a chopping board or clean surface that has been dusted with flour
  10. Knead the dough for a couple of minutes
  11. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin until it is about 2cm thick
  12. Using a biscuit cutter cut the dough into scones
  13. Place the cut dough onto the baking trays, leaving enough space between the scones for them to expand
  14. If you have any dough edges left you can knead them again, roll them out and cut more scones
  15. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes
  16. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy

The cheese scones looked so good that I couldn’t resit playing around with the recipe to come up with a sugar-free fruit scone that was also dairy-free so that I could eat them! You can find the recipe here