Healthy fats

It is sometimes assumed that if a food is high in fat then it’s no good for us… Well I’m here to tell you that that’s not always the case. Depending on their chemical structure, different fats are classified as either saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated.

Monounsaturated fats

These fats can help reduce bad levels of cholesterol in the body’s blood, which can also help lower the risk of heart disease. They also contain nutrients that help maintain the body’s cells. You can find these fats in plant-based oils such as: olive oil. There are also monounsaturated fats in avocados, peanut butter and most other nuts and seeds.

Polyunsaturated fats

These fats have similar health benefits to monounsaturated fats. However, these fats also provide essential fatty acids: omega-3 and omega-6. These are extremely valuable. As well as lowering the risk of heart disease, these fatty acids also help regulate blood pressure. They can be found in oily fish such as: salmon, mackerel and trout. They can also be found in flaxseed, sunflower seeds, soya beans and tofu.

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated are the good fats that we need to help maintain a healthy functioning body… The saturated fat is the fat you want to limit yourself to. A diet high in saturated fat can increase levels of bad cholesterol. Foods high in saturated fat are: fatty meats, milk, cheese and cream.

The good news is the foods that contain the good fats, are more tasty anyway!

SHK x

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Lemon & coconut vegan loaf

Lemon cake is one my favourite cakes, and if it hasn’t become apparent at this point- I also love coconut! So I started playing around with ingredients, combing these two delicious flavours, to whip up this vegan lemon and coconut loaf. It’s a very easy recipe and lovely light snack with a sweet zesty taste.

I used two lemons for this recipe as it provides quite a few health benefits…

  • Lemons are rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants
  • They support a healthy functioning immune system
  • They are great for skin health
  • They’re also a source of potassium and can help lower blood pressure levels

 Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup of dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 of coconut oil
  • 1 1/4 cups of coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • Juice of 1 lemon

 

 Lemon and coconut frosting

  • 1/4 cup of coconut oil
  • 2 1/2 cups of icing sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon and grated zest

Tip- for a larger loaf, double up on ingredients.
 Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius and grease a 1lb loaf tin.
  • Combine the whole wheat flour with the sugar and baking powder.
  • Add the coconut oil, coconut milk and lemon juice to the dry mixture and mix until blended.
  • Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes.
  • Once baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing the loaf from the tin.
  • Allow loaf to cool completely before icing.

 

For lemon and coconut icing

  • Beat together the coconut oil, lemon juice and grated zest.
  • Start adding the icing sugar until you reach desired consistency.
  • Spread the icing over the completely cooled loaf.

Enjoy!

SHK x

Vegan Vanilla and Coconut Sponge

Light, fluffy and just as satisfying as a traditional cake! Try this vegan vanilla sponge with coconut and strawberries for a more nutritious recipe.

Ingredients 

  • 3 1/2 cups of wholemeal flour
  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar (I used dark brown)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup of unsweetened plain soya milk
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup of coconut oil
  • 1 cup of coconut shavings
  • 3 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon white or apple cider vinegar
  • 250g of strawberries


For the Vanilla Frosting

  • 1/2 cup nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1-3 tablespoons unsweetened plain soy milk

Method 

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line 2 cake tins with coconut oil.
  • In a bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together soya milk, oil, vanilla, and vinegar. Pour the mixture into the dry mixture and whisk until just combined. Do not over mix.
  • Mix in coconut shavings.
  • Split the mixture between the two cake tins and cook in the oven for approximately 20-25 minutes. Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting.

For the Vanilla Frosting

  1. Using a handheld or stand mixer, beat the vegetable shortening until smooth.
  2. With the mixer running on low, add powdered sugar, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon soy milk at a time, as needed, until frosting reaches a spreadable consistency.
  3. Beat on high for another 2 minutes until light and fluffy.
  • When cakes are cool, spread the frosting on top of one of the cakes and add a layer of sliced strawberries. Place the other cake on top.


Enjoy!

Coconut balls

Soo I’m pretty excited about these! It’s coming up to Christmas and I’ve been thinking of some Christmassy recipes to try out. If you like coconut, you’ll love these little festive snowballs, they are absolutely delicious!

They don’t need to be baked, are gluten-free and vegan, so everyone can enjoy these little treats!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of shredded coconut, divided
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil (melted)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut milk (unsweetened)
  • 1/2- 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon (depending on how much you like cinnamon!)
Method
  • Mix together 1 cup of the shredded coconut with the melted coconut oil. Whisk together until you achieve a past-like consistency.
  • Add the coconut milk, vanilla extract, maple syrup and cinnamon. Add 3/4 of a cup of the remaining coconut until mixture is combined.
  • Shape the mixture into ball form. You should make 9-12. Leave in the fridge for an hour.

Once your coconut balls have been refrigerated, you can melt some dark chocolate (I used 90% as it is extremely high in antioxidants- check more health benefits of dark chocolate here) and cover the balls in the dark chocolate (or just half of them as to have some plain ones). Then, whilst the chocolate is still melted, sprinkle the leftover coconut onto the balls. You will need to refrigerate them again so the chocolate can harden on top. However, you can always enjoy them as they are 🙂

SHK x

Coffee please!

So, if you’re anything like me you may be a little bit of a coffee addict… But the good news is there are some pretty awesome health benefits to drinking coffee…
It contains antioxidants 
As well as giving us that all important ‘kick’ we need in the morning (or sometimes in the middle of the day), coffee also provides us with a load of antioxidants; studies have shown that coffee contains more antioxidants than both fruits and vegetables! Here are some more health benefits that this delicious fix provides…
 
It improves energy levels
This, you probably already knew! After the coffee is absorbed into the bloodstream, the coffee makes its way to the brain, firing up and increasing the amount of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, as a result, making us feel happier and more alert
It prevents risk of diseases
Studies have shown that by drinking coffee on a regular basis, we may actually be able to keep away the worlds most neurodegenerative disease: Alzheimers. Although there is no known cause or cure, research suggests that coffee may be significantly effective in stopping this disease which also leads to dementia. Studies show that regular coffee drinkers have unto 65% lower risk of getting the disease.
It helps protect your liver
Like most organs in your body, your liver is a pretty important one. It is responsible for many functions in the body, however may be at risk by being affected by diseases such as, hepatitis, fatty liver disease and cirrhosisResearch suggests, that individuals that drink 4 cups of coffee a day, have up to 80% less risk of suffering with these diseases.
It may lower risk of a stroke
Despite some rumours that coffee can increase risk of a heart attack (there are no studies supporting this), it can actually lower your chances of suffering a stroke. Studies have indicated that coffee drinkers have up to a 20% lower risk of suffering a stroke.
So there you have it! 5 fabulous reasons to carry on drinking that coffee fix we all crave in the morning!

6 reasons to drink coconut water

Coconut crazy! We’ve recently been told that coconut is extremely good for us. We can eat it, drink it, moisturise with it; we can even condition our hair with it. But what are the real health benefits behind this craze? We normally go along with these things because people tell us to, and we don’t even think to research them. So here are 6 important reasons to remember why you should be drinking coconut water…

 

It is FULL of potassium…

Potassium is an essential ingredient to our diet, and is one of the seven essential macrominerals. It is key for controlling the electrical activity of heart and helps maintain a health PH balance in our bodies. Coconut water provides us with more potassium than 4 bananas do! So drink a bottle of coconut water to keep your heart happy and healthy!

 

Say hello to beautiful skin…

Coconut water does a great job at neutralising the toxins in your body. By doing this it also works wonders for your skin, helping build up your skins natural immune system. The cytokinins present in coconut water promote cell division, giving this miracle drink anti-ageing properties; so drink this drink to keep your skin looking fresh and youthful for longer!

It keeps you hydrated…

Coconut water is packed with natural elecrolytes! Its properties aid replacement of any minerals or fluids that are lost during any physical activity. So if you are one to work out on a regular basis, or maybe you’re just a ‘busy body’, keep a bottle of coconut water in your bag to make sure your body can successfully restore any minerals it may have lost throughout the day. It also works wonders if you’ve been drinking alcohol the night before!

 

It contains antioxidant properties…

Antioxidants are great at reducing what are called ‘free radicals’ in the body. These are unwanted toxins that can lead to cell death and aid in the risk of a variety of diseases. Coconut water can help minimise these bad toxins, fighting infections and leaving your insides healthy!

 

It makes you FEEL great…

Coconut contains significant amounts of magnesium… A key mineral to maintaining healthy brain function, as well as a healthy state of mind! Studies have found that the high amount of magnesium found in coconut water can help alleviate symptoms of depression and assist in uplifting your mood. Drink yourself happy with coconut water!

 

It TASTES great…

Along with all the health benefits coconut water provides, it also tastes absolutely delicious! Coconut water should never be from concentrate and always in its purest form. Its naturally sweet tastes requires no further ingredients and leaves a gorgeous coconut taste in your mouth!

Dark Chocolate & Raspberry, Vegan Ganache Cake

Chocolate cake doesn’t usually do it for me, but this cake is different… I’m afraid you’re going to have to try it to see what I’m talking about! Make this delicious alternative to a traditional chocolate cake for a healthy sweet treat.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup of dark chocolate cocoa powder (I used Green&Blacks)
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups of unsweetened coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup of coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cups of dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of raspberries (mashed)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of fresh raspberries

For the dark chocolate ganache

  • 1 cup of unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 of a cup of coconut oil
  • 40g of dark chocolate chocolate (I used Green&Blacks 85% cocoa)

To decorate

  • 1 1/2 cups of fresh raspberries
Tip- If you want two tiers to sandwich together then double up on the ingredients.
Method
  • Preheat oven to 180 degree celcius and grease cake tin (I used coconut oil).
  • In a bowl, blend together the coconut milk, coconut oil, vanilla extract and raspberry mash until combined.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the whole wheat flour, dark chocolate cocoa powder and baking powder. Add this gradually to the raspberry mash bowl until blended.
  • Stir in some more raspberries (optional)
  • Pour into prepared cake tin and bake for 25 minutes.
For the dark chocolate ganache-
On a low boil, heat the coconut milk until hot, then remove from heat. Mix in the coconut oil and the chocolate until completely smooth. Leave to cool for at least an hour.
Once both the cake and the ganache are completely cool, spread the ganache evenly across the cake. Decorate the cake with the extra raspberries.
Once you have garnished the cake with fresh raspberries, leave in the fridge for an hour before serving.
Then enjoy this beautifully raspberry chocolate flavoured cake!
SHK x

Vegan Vanilla Beet Cupcakes

So, if I do say so myself, I’m rather happy with how these little cupcakes turned out! I used only wholegrain, plant-based ingredients, replacing white flour for whole wheat, sugar for coconut sugar and milk for coconut milk. These vanilla beetroot cupcakes will even provide you with 1 of your 5-a-day. Being that I love coconut, I whipped up some vegan coconut icing to compliment the flavours in the cupcakes and they went down a treat!

Health benefits of beetroot:

  • Beets contain nutrients that protect cells and enzymes from environmental stress.
  • They are high in vitamin C, helping to boost your immune system.
  • They also provide essential vitamins such as, fibre, potassium and B vitamin folate.

Ingredients (makes 6. Double up on ingredients to make 12)

  • 3 cooked beets
  • 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup of unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/2 a cup of coconut sugar
  • 1/4 of a cup of melted coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla essence
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
For the icing:
  • 3 cups of icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 3 tablespoons of unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup of coconut oil
Method
  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius and line a cupcake tin with cupcake holders.
  • In a bowl, combine the whole wheat flour with the coconut sugar and baking powder.
  • Using a blender, combine the beets, coconut oil, coconut milk and vanilla. Once blended, add to the bowl of dry ingredients.
  • Pour the mixture into the cases, ready to put in the oven.
  • Bake for 25 minutes and allow to cool completely before icing them.
Method for icing
  • Beat all the ingredients until you achieve a smooth consistency. Keep refrigerated until the cupcakes are ready to be iced.
  • Dust with cocoa powder (optional).
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did!
SHK x

Food for thought

Our brains are amazing!! They send and receive messages, allowing us to plan, reason, problem-solve and memorise. Different parts of the brain are associated with different functions such as perception, recognition of auditory stimuli and our emotions. But what is it that helps us keep this amazing organ functioning to the best of its ability? What helps is food! Good nutritious food providing a variety of benefits to keep our cognitive function going! Here are some of the best foods to eat to keep our brain functioning healthily!
Salmon

Salmon is one of the best sources of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). This is a fatty acid that plays an essential role regarding brain health, reportedly boosting memory function by around 15 percent. Eating salmon regularly (1-2 times a week) can assist in preventing cognitive decline, particularly beneficial for the elderly. To read more not the benefits of DHA, check out this link to an article published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/97/5/1134.short

Found on thekitchn.com



Bananas

Bananas are one of the most underrated fruits. Not only are they high in potassium, contain no cholesterol, and a good source of fibre; they contain minerals, vitamins and amino acids that are suggested to enhance the function of the brain. Amino acids encourage the body to produce dopamine, which can increase the regulation and positivity of your mood, as well as lessening feelings of stress and anxiety.

Found on hidastaelamaa.fi


Avocados

Avocados contain the healthy unsaturated fats that our body needs. These monounsaturated acids protect the nerve cells in our brain, providing support to the nerves that deliver information to our brains. Dr. Daniel G., clinical neuroscientist and brain-imaging expert, claims avocados are also one of the top ‘brain-foods’ that can aid in preventing Alzheimer’s disease.

Found on userealbutter.com


Broccoli

All green vegetables are notoriously good for our health, but broccoli in particular can have some very positive effects when it comes to the function of our brain. Broccoli is high in lignans, a chemical compound found in plants that has shown to be beneficial to our cognitive skills. Eat broccoli to improve and maintain brain functions such as thinking, reasoning and memory.

Found on mindbodygreen.com


Peanuts/peanut butter


Research published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, suggests that regular consumption of niacin-rich foods such as peanuts, provide protection against age-related cognitive decline like Alzheimer’s disease. Peanut butter is also a source of protein. Protein plays an important role in nourishing the brain, helping us to concentrate and perform mental tasks more successfully on a day to day basis.

Found on www.sheknows.com

Blueberries


Blueberries! As well as being an antioxidant for the body, they help protect our brains from oxidative stress. They have also been suggested to help reduce the effects of memory loss as we get older. Follow the link below for more information regarding the benefits blueberries can have on our brains:

http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf9029332 

Found on mylusciouslife.com


Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds are a good source of Omega 3 and Omega 6. These fatty acids are important for our mental health, improving our memory and encouraging healthy brain development. Research at Duke University Medical Centre, found that zinc played an essential role in regulating communication between the brain, significantly improving memory and cognition. Just a handful of pumpkin seeds a day provides us with our recommended daily intake of 4-7mg of zinc, helping to increase our brain power.

Found on fitsugar.com


Dark chocolate

Saved the best until last! Not only is dark chocolate absolutely delicious, but it may also do our brains a lot of good! This yummy snack contains endorphins which, when exposed to the brain, make us feel happy and euphoric. Endorphins can also reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. Other compounds in dark chocolate increase blood flow to the brain, improving our memory, attention span and problem solving skills. Dark chocolate can also be more satisfying than milk chocolate, so aim for a couple of squares of chocolate that contains at least 70% cocoa.

Found on luckyvitamin.com