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Rocket Fuel: Healthy Iced Coffee With A Kick!...

A few years ago my husband and I were visiting my sister in Toronto. As a special treat she took us to a wonderful restaurant called Fresh and what a treat it was! This has become one of my all time favourite restaurants. Whenever we are back in Toronto a trip to Fresh is always top of our list.

The first thing I ever had at Fresh was one of their speciality espresso shakes called ‘Rocket Fuel’. This is a healthy (and much tastier) alternative to those incredibly sweet full fat iced coffee drinks you can get now at most coffee shops.

The original recipe calls for vanilla soymilk but as I was unable to find any I used a chocolate oat based drink instead. Although it does have a different taste to the Rocket Fuel I remember the addition of chocolate is never really a bad thing – is it?

So here is my slightly altered version of their recipe. This has been a much needed kick in the pants for my husband and I during these cold dark UK mornings.
(Please keep in mind this for 2 people so I have doubled everything.)

Ingredients

2 dbl. shot espresso or brewed coffee (My favourite is Kicking Horse )

10 oz Oatly Healthy Oat Chocolate Drink

2 bananas, peeled

2 tsp maple syrup (Canadian is best!)

1.5 shakes cinnamon

5 ice cubes

Directions

Brew up the coffee.

Add the oat drink and bananas to the blender.

Start the blender on a low setting and gradually add the coffee, maple syrup, cinnamon and ice cubes.

Put blender on a higher setting for 1-2 minutes to make sure all the ice is blended.

Pour into 2 tall glasses.

Enjoy!

About my first Visit to Fresh:

On that first visit I noticed a cookbook for sale by the main till. It was called Fresh At Home. I loved the variety of healthy recipes it offered and the photos were gorgeous! Unfortunately worries about being able to fit it in my luggage with everything else I had accumulated kept me from buying it. Damn my sensibleness! It was a decision that would haunt me until we returned to Toronto 2 years later. Sadly the book was no where to be found in the restaurant so I enjoyed my meal and put thoughts of the cookbook out of my mind.

Bring on Christmas and Santa had a very special treat for me this year. There, waiting under the tree, was the newest addition to the Fresh library – simply called Refresh. It has some of the old favourites as well as plenty of exciting new recipes to try. I am looking forward to getting stuck into some seriously healthy food!

If you’re interested in the original Rocket Fuel recipe from Fresh follow the Directions above but use the following ingredients instead. (Please note this is for a single serving)

1 dbl. shot espresso or brewed coffee

6 oz vanilla soymilk

1 bananas, peeled

1 tsp maple syrup

1 shake cinnamon

6 ice cubes

And of course – Enjoy!

If you are planning a visit to Toronto or you live in Toronto and haven’t been – then put Fresh on your to do list. You won’t regret it! Check out their site here for more information.

Rocket Fuel: Healthy Iced Coffee

Rocket Fuel: Healthy Iced Coffee

These are a few of my favourite things.

These are a few of my favourite things.

Please Sir, I Want Some More……..Porridge....

This past summer my husband and I had the pleasure of taking my sister on holiday to Edinburgh for a few days. It is a city we have been visiting for many years (usually for the famous fringe festival in August). I adore Scotland and for me, Edinburgh really is one of the most magical and beautiful cities in the world – yes even in the rain, although my sister might disagree with the rain part.

We stayed in a well located hostel and to our delight we noticed a small café just opposite. It looked relatively new and we didn’t remember it from any of our previous trips. For the life of me I can’t remember the name of the café but we could see it through the window of our room. In the mornings we would hover by the window watching eagerly for signs of the café opening its doors.

So what exactly made this café so special? Well aside from a cosy and friendly atmosphere, they served porridge. Now there are many restaurants and cafes serving porridge in Edinburgh but this was by far the best any of us had ever tasted. The consistency was perfectly smooth, rich and creamy. But the real crowning glory of this porridge was the addition of crème fraiche and fruit jam on top. It was absolutely amazing and we couldn’t get enough of it. We ate there everyday and always had the porridge. Not only was it delicious but it prepared us for a full day of drizzly weather conditions and fringe theatre.

I had always loved porridge as a child and I confess to actually eating Quaker Porridge Oats straight out of the little packets my mom used to buy. Maple and brown sugar being my all time favourite flavour! My great grandmother also used to make me porridge and I loved the way she prepared it. She would let it simmer away on the hob and as she served it up she would put some buttered saltine crackers on top with a little splash of milk. It was always a perfect bowl of comforting goodness.

Porridge is a funny thing and people can be very particular about how it’s made. I prefer mine to be made with full fat milk and no water. This makes for a very smooth rich creamy porridge, similar to the café’s. For some though it can be a little too intense so using half milk and half water is better. Of course there is nothing wrong with just using water, but the consistency is much thinner. Personally I feel the addition of milk makes the porridge a real treat and find it help keeps me fuller for longer.

There are all sorts of wonderful ingredients you can add to porridge to make it a healthy but decadent breakfast.

• Buttered and crumbled saltine crackers (my great grandmother’s way).
• Maple syrup with chopped nuts (walnuts and pecans are delicious).
• Brown sugar with cinnamon (you can also add raisins or dried apples and apricots).
• Assorted fresh fruit and berries (bananas, blueberries, strawberries, peach and apple. You can get a little more exotic and add mango or papaya and some desiccated coconut)
• Crème fraiche with a fruit jam (raspberry is especially tasty).

I won’t go on about the many health benefits of oats but they really are one of the best foods you can eat to start your day. They are good for your digestive health, they can help prevent heart disease and lower cholesterol levels, their slow release in the body can help control blood sugar levels and keep you feeling fuller for longer. You can use oats in many different ways but having porridge is one of the most delicious and magical!

Porridge with Creme Fraiche and Raspberry Jam

Late Night Snacking: A Healthy Option...

Sometimes, even after a good dinner, I can feel a bit peckish in the evening. It’s important not to eat anything too heavy or sweet so close to bedtime as it can affect your sleep, but I have found the perfect night time snack for me.

When I get a late night food craving I reach for a piece of whole wheat toast and spread it with some organic all natural peanut butter and a mashed up banana. It has that perfect salty sweet combination that I love and also has the added benefit of promoting a deep and restful sleep!

Bananas are known for being one of the top foods for helping you get a good nights sleep. They are rich in melatonin and serotonin which have soothing qualities. They also contain magnesium, which is a muscle relaxant.

Whole wheat bread is another good late night food choice as its great for balancing your blood sugar and it’s also rich in serotonin.

If you get a late night craving, try this healthy snack!

Fruit Smoothies: A great way to start the day...

One the best ways to start the day is with a healthy fruit smoothie. My husband has a very early start to his day and he struggles with his appetite so early in the morning. For awhile he was going to work without eating anything at all for breakfast. Skipping such an important meal is not good for your health or wellbeing – and he was beginning to suffer. Headaches, unhealthy weight loss, mood swings and tiredness were all results of him not having a good start to his day.

Fortunately we discovered the one thing he can stomach early in the morning: a smoothie.

We use plain organic yoghurt and also add about ½ a cup of semi skimmed organic milk. Then we add some fruit. You can really have fun and experiment with different fruit combinations. The great news is that you can easily get at least 1 portion of your 5 a day. Some fruits that work really well in smoothies are:

  • Bananas
  • Mangoes
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Apricots
  • Melon
  • Kiwi Fruit

If you really want to add an extra special dimension to your smoothie you can also try adding one or more of the following:

  • Peanut Butter
  • Runny Honey
  • Cinnamon
  • Porridge Oats

Here is one of our favourite recipes.

Combine the following in a blender.

¾ cup Organic Plain Yoghurt.

2 Bananas.

1 cup of Strawberries.

3 Tablespoons of Crunchy or Smooth Peanut Butter (depending on your preference)

½ cup of Semi Skimmed Milk

Sprinkling of Cinnamon

Have a go and see what amazing combinations you can up with. I would love to hear what you create so please feel free to share your recipes!

Banana Bread with Unsweetened Cocoa Powder and Gla...

Banana Bread: Old Favourite, New Favourite!...

I know we are already well into the New Year but I am still recovering from all the fuss and general craziness of the holiday season. During the holidays I was able to spend a bit more time in the kitchen trying out different recipes and experimenting with some new kitchen gadgets.  However, I was so caught up in exploring the new and different that I neglected a few things in my kitchen.

The main casualty of my neglect was a bunch of bananas which were almost at the point of no return. Not wanting to waste them, I found myself going back to one of my all time favourite recipes – Banana Bread.

Banana Bread is one of the easiest things to make. What is so wonderful is that you can have it just as it is OR you can jazz it up a bit if you want. Here are just some of the things I love to add to a basic Banana Bread recipe:

  • Chopped Walnuts or Pecans
  • Fresh Blueberries or Raspberries (you can also use frozen)
  • Grated Courgette (Zucchini)
  • Grated Carrot
  • Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

For this particular recipe – which is a low fat version – my husband and I decided to add 2 Heaping Tablespoons of Un-Sweetened Coco Powder and approximately 9 Glace Cherries cut into quarters. We also used a spring form cake tin rather than a loaf tin. The results were simply amazing and ok we confess… not as low fat as it could have been. However it was absolutely divine with a cup of tea and an episode of Columbo.

I found the recipe on the following site; lowfatcooking.about.com, which is brilliant. Have a go with the recipe as it is – or add a little something extra. Then sit back, relax and enjoy!

For low fat banana bread recipe click here

I have also written out the recipe below.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened or 1/4 cup trans-fat free shortening
  • 2 large eggs or 1/2 cup egg substitute
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 small bananas)
  • 1/3 cup plain fat-free yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spoon flour gently into measuring cups and level with a knife. Stir flour, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl. Put aside. Place sugar and butter in a large bowl and beat at low speed with a mixer until well blended. Add one egg at a time and blend well after each one. Add in mashed banana, yogurt and vanilla extract, beat until blended. Add flour mixture and blend until just moist. Do not over-mix. Spray an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. Pour batter into pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes (until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean). Remove from pan after 10 minutes or so and cool on a wire rack.

Yield: one loaf, 14 slices.