Mantra for Monday…A New Year Awaits



So this is it…another year ticked off.

How does that make you feel? Think about that for a moment.

Did you set goals, write lists, challenge yourself? No doubt many of you did (myself included). But did you achieve them or are you now reflecting back on this year and instead of seeing all those positive moments where you did indeed flourish and grow, you focus on the unfinished, the failures and the negative in a given situation.

I know from my own experience, I can be very negative if I allow myself to be. I am naturally very self-critical and over the past year I have been working hard to reorientate that mindset in a productive way…it’s still a work in progress! More on all that another time, but sitting quietly now as I write this post, I can hear my thoughts more clearly, and appreciate just how much I have achieved both physically and mentally, that is regardless of just how much I have actually ‘completed’. Sometimes the process of learning and growth is more important than the outcome as seen by others.

‘What others think’ is still an area of my life than needs much focus. I still care too much and I still stop myself short in order to ‘fit in’ or not ‘disappoint’ based on others expectations. Why do I do that and why should I feel the need for justification? Maybe you are asking yourself a similar question?  Your life is your own and you only get one shot. By all means make sure those around you that you care about will not be negatively impacted, but beyond that you should have no need for justification….

…Live the life you want to lead. Yes, you’ll raise questions and raise eyebrows, and yes there is a chance that those around you will get defensive and rebellious since you may be doing exactly what they also want to do deep down. That can be a hard one, but roll with it, embrace it and ultimately help those around you to do it to by showing them the way.
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Silent Sunday no. 52: Inspired in 2012

I know this is a ‘Silent’ Sunday…but I’m breaking the rules. Sometimes rules are there to be broken!

I was running out of days in the run up to the New Year…so I decided to combine my usual singular Silent Sunday photo with my monthly ‘Inspired’ Instagram roundup post….so now you have a brief visual summary of the year in photos, photos of the largely non-food kind, photos that have inspired me with a feeling of wellness and brought a smile to me life!

What has inspired you most this year?  I’d love you to share...

Holiday in Cornwall... chilly Easter winds!

My first trip to Wholefoods Kensington

Charity balloon release

My favourite tree

First potatoes of the year

My first cake sale

Homegrown strawberries

Camping trip to Mount Snowdon

Apples from the tree

Summer skies

Ducks on a sunset walk

Birthday cheesecake!

Roasting plantain on the bbq

Pretty peas in their pods



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Chocolate coated hazelnuts
I promised more chocolate...and I wont disappoint. These little nibbly morsels are the perfect last minute snack and perfect for guests at New Years...a bowl of these on the table wont last long!


5 minutes of work plus chill time...leaves you plenty of time to prep them for New Year's and then enjoy the evening with your friends and family.

These roasted hazelnut balls are reminiscent in taste of ferrero rocher truffles but 10 times healthier and simpler to whip up. You could make a big batch and freeze some, vary the favourings and coatings just like the chocolate candy slices, I left mine plain for the photos and because sometimes simple is the best, but finely chopped nuts or coconut could also be amazing!

You could also go for macadamia's or brazil nuts, any nut with a uniform surface would work....versatility is the key, most of my Christmas recipes (and many of my recipes in general) are all about versatility, working with whatever ingredients you have to hand...as long as they are healthy!

This will be the last candy recipe of the year....for more last minute inspiration check out the chocolate and candy collection.

What are your plans for New Year's...food or otherwise?



Recipe: Chocolate coated hazelnuts

Ingredients:

1/2 cup raw cacao chip/chunks
4 tbs agave
1 tsp almond vanilla, hazelnut or vanilla extract (almond is my favourite)
pinch stevia
approx. 1/2 cup hazelnuts (with skins or blanched)

Method:

Melt the raw cacoa on the stove or in the microwave until melted BUT before it begins to go hard and 'grainy'.

Transfer to a small bowl and mix in all remaining ingredients except hazelnuts. Mix well until the mixture begins to stiffen.

Chill the mixture for a short while in the fridge (or about 10 mins in the freezer) until it stiffens considerable but can still be moulded.

Meanwhile roast the hazelnuts for 10 minutes at approx. 170C and allow to cool. Rub off most of the skins (if necessary).

Take a 1/2 tsp sized blob of mixture and mould with fingers to coat each hazelnut. Place on a baking sheet (or similar) so that they are not touching and chill until fully firm. Store in the fridge.





For further guidance on making gluten free choices please see this post.

For tips and info on recipe measurement conversions, ingredients, substitutions and the methods behind how I do things.... check out my 'baking tips' tab at the top of the page.
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Hot holiday salad bowl
I need some down time after all the chocolate and candy!


There still some more chocolatey posts to come just in time for your New Years celebrations, but I feel a little break is in order, otherwise I wont appreciate it. All the sweet food can get pretty overwhelming...healthy or not!  I'm actually looking forward to 'de-cluttering' the fridge and my baking supplies and stripping back to basics for a few weeks come January, though I wonder how long it will be before cake kicks back in :-)

On boxing day, my whole family went out for a walk, I did take my camera with me but to be honest is was cloudy and overcast so the resulting photos left much to be desired.  When we arrived home mid afternoon...a little cold and wet...a big lunch was in order to keep us going until supper time snacks and games.

A bowl of pan-fried christmas leftover salad made the perfect offering. My dad and I topped ours with leftover chestnut roast crumbles (pictured) whilst my mum, brother and sister topped there's with leftover chicken and bacons strips, this salad makes the perfect based for veggies and meaties alike.

The simple dressing and festive clementines gave a lovely sweet touch.  The dressing and the basis for this salad was originally inspired by this recipe and then I added some extras of my own not so dissimilar to my favourite sprouts recipe.


Recipe: Christmas salad

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 cups chopped/shredded sprouts
3 medium white potatoes- cubed
1 onion or 4 small shallots- sliced
1 medium courgette- grated
2 packed cups lettuce leaves/spinach (I used a mix of both)
2 clementines segmented
handful of toasted walnuts/pecans
optional toppings of choice (see notes above)
dressing: 2 tbs each olive oil, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, 1 tsp dijon mustard and the clementine zest.

Method:

Panfry the sprouts, potato and shallots in a little oil for approx.10 minutes (depending on size of chunks) until almost cooked. Add the grated courgette and continue to cook for a couple of minutes.

Meanwhile mix the dressing ingredients together well and decant into a small bowl or jug.

Assemble the salad bowls, dividing the lettuce/spinach between the bowls. When cooked through, add the hot salad mixture to the centre of each bowl.

In the same pan add a handful of nuts and toast them for a couple of minutes whilst you finish assembling the salads. Add the topping of choice i.e nit roast crumbles (these can be hot or cold) and then the clementine and toasted nuts.

Drizzle a little dressing to serve.



For further guidance on making gluten free choices please see this post.

For tips and info on recipe measurement conversions, ingredients, substitutions and the methods behind how I do things.... check out my 'baking tips' tab at the top of the page.
jo hodsonComment
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Healthy chocolate candy
I still have so many Christmassy and chocolately recies to share...lets see how many I can pack in before New Year hits, and then there may even be a few more then too since my healthy recipes will tick the box for a 'healthy' new year too. 

Today's recipe is a perfect gifting recipe for all the relatives and friends still to be visited this holiday season!

This chocolate candy was an accident, as many of my recipes are ;-)  I like accidents like this, a little bit of spontaneity and surprise....just when you think something has gone totally wrong it morphs into something totally new. This began life as an idea for a drippy chocolate sauce, but as I stirred the agave in it began to thicken...oh no....oh yes! You note in the method that I have stated 'melt the cacao until it has melted but not overheated' since one batch I made compromised the texture when it went beyond its optimum, I still used it, it was just harder to handle.

I have now experimented with this idea a few more times, its so simple and you can make small batches so it is the perfect base for experiments and flavour combos....go ahead and throw you own ideas into the comments section! If you have an idea for me to try let me know.

almond and roasted hazelnut and peppermint with sprinkles!

Recipe: Chocolate Slices

Ingredients:

1/2 cup raw cacao chip/chunks
4 tbs agave
1 tsp almond, peppermint or orange extract
pinch stevia
2 tbs topping/mix ins e.g toasted hazelnuts or almonds, desiccated coconut sprinkles, chopped dried fruit

Method:

Melt the raw cacoa on the stove or in the microwave until melted BUT before it begins to go hard and 'grainy'.

Mix in all ingredients other than topping. Mix well until the mixture begins to stiffen.

Spoon onto a layer of non-stick parchment and place another layer over the top. Using a rolling pin, roll out to a even rectangle approx. 3mm thick. Slice into squares (or use a cutter for other shapes), and sprinkle with toppings pressed lightly into the surface.

Chill until solid.


raw cacao chunks




For further guidance on making gluten free choices please see this post.

For tips and info on recipe measurement conversions, ingredients, substitutions and the methods behind how I do things.... check out my 'baking tips' tab at the top of the page.
jo hodsonComment
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Merry Christmas!
And so Christmas Day draws to a close... I hope your day has been filled with family, friends, fun, food and all the other words the of the alphabet that don't begin with an 'f'!!

Mine went something along these lines...

Early hours of the morning once everyone had gone to bed...creep downstairs with bags of foodie gifts and build hamper complete with cellophane and ribbons to add to the collection of presents under the tree!


3am...go to sleep.....8:15am get up! (no idea why I went to bed quite that late!)

9:30am all my family (mum, dad, brother and sister) have made it downstairs and I make everyone breakfast.....a larger version of the Christmas cranberry baked oatmeal.

10:30am onwards...presents, chocolate, music, wrapping paper, peeling veggies (I was in charge of sprouts), food, pudding, films, chill out, evening snacks, dips, nuts, more chocolate, singing songs around the guitar.....zzzzzzzz.



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Oh Christmas tree oh Christmas tree....
Final pre-Christmas post!!! I got there in the end....

I know by now some of you will be buried under wrapping paper in full flow of Christmas spirit (but hopefully not quite yet Christmas spirits!)


For me it's now 9:40pm on Christmas eve so I'm putting together the finishing touches...final blog post, bread sauce, the first bake of the nut roast (I go for the double bake strategy), wrapping up the gifts (I wont elaborate for now in case of prying eyes)...and finally if I have time, a few games with the family.

So, here you have it, a super simple but super cute christmas buffet recipe...perfect for the times throughout the holidays when you put out a display of 'picky bits' for people to nibble on.

I can't take credit for the 'visual' idea since I saw this version linked through Facebook, the original uses a dairy based guacamole for the 'green' but my version opts for a simple white bean and pea dip layered up on my gluten free flatbread, topped with corn and peppers and white chia seeds for fairy lights...a spontaneous moment of genius ;-) For an even quicker non GF option you could use regular pitta breads as the triangular bases.

On that note, I will be off to get busy in the kitchen. I hope you have a magical day wherever in the world you may be!


Recipe: White bean and pea dip 

Ingredients:

1 cup frozen peas (thawed)
1/2 cup white beans
1 garlic clove- crushed
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1 shallot (or 1/4 white onion)
1 tbs fresh herbs (I used parsley)
salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Whizz everything up together until smooth!

Spread onto the flatbread triangles and decorate with corn, pepper pieces and chia seeds (or sesame seeds) and some carrot wedges for the trunks.

Store any remaining dip in the fridge and use within 2 days.

Notes: I only used half the amount of dip to cover the trees, you can use the rest as a dip for veg sticks served hot or cold.  For the flatbreads use half of this recipe to make six trees.




For further guidance on making gluten free choices please see this post.

For tips and info on recipe measurement conversions, ingredients, substitutions and the methods behind how I do things.... check out my 'baking tips' tab at the top of the page.
jo hodsonComment
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Christmas Collection 2012
Sorry if you've received this in your RSS twice... I had issues with the formatting and the only choice I had was to repost it! 

I know I promised you a Christmas round up, lots more new recipes and all sorts of other glorious things in the last few days before Christmas....it will happen! (just a little later than hoped!) I still have so many festive recipes I want to share, Christmas will have to just carry right on this year.

Please bear with me, I am slowly getting back on track after the incident, sorry to keep on about that but it really set me back and I feel bad that my posts have been so erratic of late. However good news...my new Macbook has been delivered and I have spent pretty much all day tearing my hair out whilst getting it set up and running. Normality will once again resume and I will shut up! :-)


I do have a round up for you, and I do have so many more recipes I want to post... at least one will come along tomorrow...but for those of you who may have spotted this on my Instagram feed, here is a little teaser! Festive spirit ahoy....

So my roundup of Christmas recipes, my all time festive favourites from my blog, and some more from the blogosphere that I've spied in recent weeks, and to finish off a little Pinspiration for you too!


Feel free to chime in with comments or links to your own favourites!


This baked oatmeal is most definitely what I will be making on Christms morning! I have saved the last of my homemade mincemeat especially!


I haven't yet had a chance to make gingerbread...maybe tomorrow!


These truffles simply had to be in there....I've lost count how many i've made these last two weeks!


I've not made a yule log this year, but this amazing 'skinny' version from last year is a must!



Other 'Loves' from around the web:

I love Ashley@The Edible Perspective's idea for spice blends

Amazing homemade twix bars by Leanne@Healthful Pursuit

Great granola gift ideas by Kathy@Heathy Happy Life....this is another one on my Christmas Eve 'to do list'.

For a savoury option, how about this simple endamame dip by Amgela@Oh She Glows


Finally a few 'Pinteresting' Christmassy crafty offerings...

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