10 Ingredients You Should Always Have In Your Kitchen

Eating healthy shouldn’t be a chore and it certainly doesn’t have to be expensive. I believe it only get’s expensive when you start buying all the Gucci stuff. I remember buying all the ingredients in the world just to make some paleo treats but it’s not necessary. We don’t have to over-complicate recipes, less is more sometimes! It’s taken me quite a while to register that and to be honest I follow a simpler way of eating now. There’s no secret we know what’s good for us and what’s not, if you’re hungry, eat and if you’re not, Don’t!

With some basic ingredients, you will always have the framework for healthy meals or snacks reducing the cravings for any junk food. It’s not a definitive list but I always keep these 10 ingredients fully stocked, everything else can chop and change but these are staple foods.

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#1 Avocado

Because it literally goes with EVERYTHING! Mashed on toast, soulmate of eggs, smashed with squeezed lime, salt, pepper and chili flakes for a super speedy guac and did I say everything?

#2 Eggs

NEVER allow yourself to run out of eggs they’re a life saver for all meals and are a great natural source of protein (and they wonderful of course). Without eggs there would be no pancakes, breakfast would be unsatisfying and avocado toast would be very sad.

#3 Sweet potato

Mashed, grated, baked, fried so many great ways to add to any meal for a healthy source of carbs. The great thing is they cook pretty quick so perfect for post training fuel. If you fancy something sweet you can even try sweet potato brownies!

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#4 Spinach 

If it’s good enough for Popeye? Adding something green to every meal ensures you get all the great nutrients that come with it! The base for your salad, work well with eggs and add to smoothies for those extra gains!

#5 Oats

Fuelling beefcakes since the 1900’s! The ultimate pre/post training food, you only have to scroll through your Instagram feed and you’ll see a zillion bowls of the stuff. An essential ingredient for energy balls, protein pancakes, healthy bread and makes a great coating for breaded fish/chicken.

#6 Almond milk

Even though I do take dairy milk occasionally, I always buy almond milk. I prefer it in my porridge or in my smoothies.There’s no saturated fat in almond milk, It’s low in sodium and high in healthy fats. Get all the great benefits by making your own, as some shop bought versions only have about 7% almonds in it!

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#7 Greek yogurt

I actually don’t think I could function without my daily injection of Greek yogurt. It’s the perfect food and works in sweet and savory meals. My go to snack is yogurt mixed with protein, usually before bed. I always add it to my smoothies, overnight oats, a replacement for cream and even in hot curries! My favourite brands include Fage, Glenisk and SKYR. (not an #ad)

#8 Bananas

It’s very rare that I ever run out of bananas, they are a life saver when you need something sweet or as a handy snack. Bananas are made to be eaten with peanut butter, my go-to snack is simply bananas cut into coins and spread with peanut butter. Freeze them, and you have ice cream, I mean anything that you can turn into ice cream is good with me!

#9 Peanut/Almond butter

Do I really need to explain this? Nut butter is food from the gods. I actually had to wean myself off eating tubs of the stuff! I add nut butter to all my energy balls, gorge with greek yogurt, on toast with banana or as we know straight from the jar.

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#10 Raspberries/Blueberries

Not just because they’re full of antioxidants but they are so bloody tasty. As you can see with this list of ingredients most work great together. Oats are no longer boring when topped with fresh berries, greek yogurt turns into a dashing dessert with berries and what are pancakes without berries?

Some miscellaneous items I always have too: Protein, coconut oil, maple syrup, Kerrygold butter, pink Himalayan salt.

Let me know what ingredients you can’t live without in the comments below!

One For The Weekend: Healthy Waffles

Did you hear? Waffles are the new pancakes…NOT! They’re both great in different ways.   I was so excited when my waffle iron arrived in the post, especially after watching an episode of Chef Steps where they go on a waffle frenzy (things like mac and cheese and gyoza). If you have not checked them out on YouTube then I recommend you do so immediately, it’s my fave show at the minute. I got the waffle iron to change things up and I know you’re thinking that it’s a bit of a gimmick (and it probably is) but after watching Chef Steps, they prove there’s a multitude of ways to use this appliance. It brought me happiness anyway and sure that’s all that matters, right?

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Of course the first recipe I had to try was a clean waffle recipe (even though Christy always tells me to practice the normal way first, I’m not very good at listening in that way!) I used a recipe similar to the 3 ingredient pancake recipe as I know it works. Just a little tip-waffle batter should be similar to pancake batter but thicker.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (or water)
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (optional)
  • 1 egg and 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Preheat your waffle iron.
  2. In a nutribullet blend the oats until you get a flour-like consistency.
  3. Add in all the other ingredients and blend for 1 min. Leave aside for 5 minutes to thicken.
  4. Spray the waffle iron with oil (You can buy spray coconut oil in Tesco)
  5. Pour the mixture over the segments, leaving the edges bare as they do expand.
  6. Close the lid for 2 minutes, no peeping let it cook through.
  7. Carefully remove and plate up with any toppings of your choice, I chose Nobo ice cream and frozen berries and it was perfect!

Brownie Cake With Quest Bar Chunks

This was a fun recipe to make, I wasn’t sure how it would turn out but it was bloody gorgeous!! I kept the brownie texture nice and gooey on the inside just to make this a really indulgent treat and the quest bar pieces actually turned out like biscuit pieces which was even nicer than I imagined! I used the oreo quest bars but you could use any one you like, the cookie dough or smores would work quite well too I’d imagine!

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond/coconut flour
  • 3 tbs plain gluten free flour (or any GF flour)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 Quest Bars chopped
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao
  • 1 tsp vanilla (optional)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup melted butter/coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

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Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F.
  2. Line a round baking tin with greaseproof paper and put aside.
  3. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl (except quest bars) and in a second smaller bowl mix the wet ingredients until combined.
  4. Mix the wet into the dry, this can be done in a food processor or by hand. When you get an even consistency, mix in the quest bar pieces.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
  6. Bake the brownies for 25 to 30 minutes, or until they’re just barely beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. Don’t overcook them, unlike cakes, you don’t want a skewer to come out clean. Brownies should be slightly springy on the outside but still gooey in the middle.
  7. Leave aside to cool before removing from the tin.
  8. Serve up with some greek yogurt mixed with the protein of your choice!

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The perfect cake for any beefcakes in your life, maybe they have a birthday coming up? You could always swap out some of the flour for extra protein too, to ensure the extra gains are there!

Macros:

Calories: 340 per slice
Carbs: 26g
Fat: 23g
Protein: 13g

High Energy Bars

This is a super easy bar that is packed with protein, good carbs and no refined sugar! Prep a batch on a Sunday and you’ll have the perfect pre/post workout snack with you at all times! Say goodbye to “hanger” moments forever….

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups gluten free oats
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 1-2 scoops of protein
  • 2 tbsp almond butter
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • ¼ cup chia seeds
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ¼ cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • pinch of Himalayan salt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C
  2. In a food processor add in all of the wet ingredients, and mix until you get an even consistency.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients except the seeds and chocolate chips, and add into the wet mixture. Process again until it’s all mixed well but still with lots of texture
  4. Stir in the seeds and chocolate chips in by hand.
  5. Turn out onto a parchment lined baking dish. Press and flatten with a spatula until even.
  6. Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.
  7. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.
  8. Store in an airtight container -these bars can also be frozen (but they won’t last that long!)

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Review: Mash Direct Foods

Some days there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day! Working, training, cooking, cleaning and some of you have kids to add to the mix aswell! If we cut corners every so often, it can give us some time to relax and thanks to brands like Mash Direct, lunch and dinner time can be prepped super quick, with minimal cleaning too!

I was delighted to receive a package of their veggie delights to review in January. It was perfect timing after the madness of Christmas and definitely helped kickstart my healthy habits again!

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What I tested:  Carrot and parsnip, carrot, parsnip and turnip, red cabbage and beetroot, and the new gluten free veggie burgers.

I absolutely loved the carrot and parsnip option, made with only butter and seasoning, there’s no hidden nasties. It’s so creamy and delicious, I served it with slow cooked brisket and it was a perfect match. But there’s nothing it won’t go with; chicken, steak etc you can’t go wrong with it!

The carrot, parsnip and turnip has more of an earthy flavour. I’m not a huge fan of turnip usually but it was more palatable mixed with the carrot and parsnip. It’s a great way to get more veggies in and just like the other option it’s only blended with butter and seasoning, making is super clean and tasty!

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It was great to try something different like the beetroot and red cabbage, a side dish packed full of antioxidants! It made a yummy addition to the Sunday dinner and if I’m honest I wasn’t sure at first but then I couldn’t stop eating it, it definitely doesn’t lack flavour! I will definitely pick this up again!

As most of you know I was a veggie for 10 years so I’ve eaten my fair share of veggie burgers! The mash direct version are made with freshly steam cooked potato, broccoli, carrot, cauliflower, spring cabbage & parsnip coated in a golden gluten free coating. They were absolutely delicious, so full of natural flavours and one burger was really filling. I cooked them for lunch and it made a nice change to what I usually have!

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When I used to eat a paleo diet, I would always try to only make EVERYTHING myself! This would lead to stressful moments of staying up late just to make food for the following day, or finding myself stuck in situations where I need to fuel up before I head to training! Most of the time I over consumed food like nuts or nut butters as that was all I had available!

I don’t eat a paleo diet anymore but thanks to companies like Mash Direct who make clean food with no crap added. It’s a convenient food that you can grab on the way home from the gym/work etc and be comfortable knowing you are getting clean whole foods into the diet!

All the products are available in most supermarkets, so pick some up on your next shopping trip and save yourself time in the kitchen!

Linseed And Chia Seed Porridge Bread

My dad told me about porridge bread ages ago and I forgot all about it until I found the recipe over the weekend. It should actually be called “Lazy Bread” as it’s so easy to make. As someone who rarely eats bread, this lovely bread has been disappearing very quickly in my presence. It reminds me of the soda bread my dad used to make when we were younger, you couldn’t wait for it to cool down and the butter would go all melty-HEAVEN!

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For this recipe I’ve used gluten free oats but you can use regular oats too and like I always say in my recipes, don’t feel tied to what I put in. You can add any nuts or seeds or even dried fruit!

Ingredients:

Make 2 small loaves or one large!

  • 2 yogurt tubs of porridge oats
  • 500 ml tub of greek yogurt
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 tbsp of bread soda
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/4 cup of chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup whole flaxseed
  • ½ tsp salt

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C  Grease a standard loaf tin
  2. In a large bowl; add the yogurt, milk and egg and give it a little mix.
  3. Using the same yogurt tub measure out 2 tubs of oats, add to the bowl along with the bread soda, salt and seeds.
  4. Stir thoroughly.
  5. Pour the mixture into your loaf tin.
  6. Cut a line down the centre, not too deep-just along the top.
  7. Sprinkle some oats (or seeds) on top.
  8. Bake for about 30 mins-35 mins.
  9. Leave to cool before removing from the tin, but you can transfer to a wire rack after 15 mins.

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Slow Cooked Turkey

Just incase you didn’t have enough turkey at Christmas, here I am with a super easy and incredibly delicious slow cooker recipe! I had this 1kg slab of turkey breast and I wasn’t really sure what to do with it, I didn’t want it to go dry in the oven!

Eureka!! The slow cooker, the amazing kitchen tool that I always forget about! I’ve been using it a lot more this month, they are wonderful for low budget meals (perfect for January)!

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This particular recipe is really simple, but you can add extra veg in or mess around with the spice blend for different flavours! I have also added in a brunch/lunch type recipe using the  turkey.

Ingredients:

  • 1kg pure turkey breast
  • 1 bottle tomato passata
  • 1 pot Knorr chicken Stock Pot (28g Pot-no water)
  • 2 gloves garlic crushed
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
  • 1 tsp chipotle powder or chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • salt/pepper

Method:

  1. Place the turkey in the slow cooker.
  2. Pour the passata in and add add the spices and chicken stock (remember no water)
  3. Stir it all up or you can use your hands to mix in the spices.
  4. Turn the slow cooker on low.
  5. Cook for 8-10 hours. (I cooked mine from 9pm until 7am.)

Recipe

Slow cooked turkey, smashed avocado and vine tomato/coriander dressing with a super clean wrap!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp slow cooked turkey
  • half an avocado
  • 6 ripe vine tomatos chopped
  • bunch of coriander chopped
  • splash of extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Wrap

  • 1 egg + 2 egg whites
  • 1 tbsp tapioca flour
  • 1/2-1 tbsp almond flour
  • salt/pepper

Method

  1. Scoop the avocado into a bowl and mash with a fork, squeeze in a bit of lemon or lime just and season, you can add chilli flakes for a little kick.
  2. Add the tomato and coriander to a bowl with the olive oil and season.
  3. To make the wrap, whisk the egg, flours and seasoning in a bowl.
  4. Melt oil or good quality butter (I used coconut oil) in a pan over a medium heat.
  5. Pour in the egg mix and cook on both sides.
  6. Transfer to a plate and top with the turkey, smashed avocado and dressing.

Hope you enjoy!