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!

Cranberry And Pistachio Bark

It can also be called Christmas Bark as I added in some festive spices! I love this recipe as it’s super easy to make and also makes a lovely homemade present for someone!

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You can mess around with lots of toppings: macadamia, ginger pieces, crushed candy whatever suits your mood that day!

Ingredients:

  • 200g 75%-85 dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (optional)
  • 1/3 cup pistachios crushed
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberry
  • 1 tbsp dark choc chips
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • pinch of Himalayan sea salt

Method:

  1. Combine all 200g of the chocolate into a heat proof bowl and melt gently over a pot of simmering water, as it starts to melt down; stir in the coconut oil and maple syrup.
  2. When the chocolate is melted take of the heat, mix in the spices and about 2 tbsp of your toppings into the mix (nuts and fruit only).
  3. Line a square or rectangle baking tray with baking paper.
  4. Pour the melted chocolate over the paper and using a spatula, spread the mixture out evenly (not too thin).
  5. Sprinkle the nuts, fruit and chic chips over the chocolate. (I had some left over, so just use enough to cover)
  6. Place in the fridge until it sets. Break the bark into large pieces, they don’t have to be even-that’s part of the fun!

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If you looking for some more homemade gift ideas, try these recipes too:

 

A Christmas Gift Guide For The Foodies

I love my food which means I love anything food related! If you lose me in a Department Store I can promise you I’ll be in the kitchen section, drooling over some pretty plates, groovy cutlery or a K-Mix (one day I’ll be able to afford one!!) Who’s with me here? Grab your apron and let’s get cooking, I mean looking!

  1. The Big Cheese Making Kit €30

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How cool is this? It’s a win, win really-you give the cheese starter kit to your buddy and you’ll be presented with some gorgeous homemade cheese (just saying!) Each kit makes 10 batches and the kit lasts about 2 years. Choose from Halloumi, Mozzarella & Ricotta, or a Goat’s Cheese kit.

2. Folklore Enamel Tableware €25 for 2

 

There something cool about enamel cups isn’t there? or is that just me?Article (Powerscourt,D2) have stocked a stunning collection that would make the perfect gift! The espresso cups are so kitsch and look at that beautiful tea/coffee pot! You know this is the one for your Brunchtastic Buddy!!

3. Cooking Lessons

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Last year I received a gift of a gluten free cooking course at Cooks Academy, it was brilliant! I was there from 10am-4pm and learned a heap of new tricks! I couldn’t recommend this enough for your foodie friends! They offer so many fantastic courses, there really is something for everyone! I have my eye on the chocolate making one (Obvs!!)

4. Waffle Maker €36

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Waffles are the new pancakes, didn’t you know? It’s kind of a gimicky present but who doesn’t want a waffle maker and like #1 you will be rewarded (cue evil laugh).

5. Recipe Journal €24

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A great present for the budding chefs in your life. Paper chase have a great collection of Recipe journals/organisers. Some are very pretty and whimsical but I thought this compact one from Moleskin (famous for its notepads) was pretty slick! The pages are laid out with different sections for lots of the finer details of a dish, think wine pairings or prep time. I love that they include a set of emoji-style stickers to customise your creations!

6. Delicious Food Tours €45

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Why not eat your way around Dublin! Lead by the Ballymaloe-trained, award winning food blogger Ketty Elisabeth aka French Foodie in Dublin.You can get a taste (sorry) for the real Dublin!! Ketty brings you to local shops, food and drink businesses. where you will sample some delicious Irish food and drinks, as well as learning all about Dublin’s cutting edge food scene.

7. Cookbooks 

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Who doesn’t look a good cookbook? It’s the perfect present for any foodies in your life! You could even pack them up with some of the essential ingredients and make a hamper (see #10). I love that there are so many great Irish chefs out there now, Susan Jane White is amazing! Check her out on YouTube, Nigella who?

8. Humorous Apron €20

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It doesn’t get more Irish than this, I love it!! Perfect colour for the festivities and will give everyone a giggle on Christmas day! Not too expensive so would make a great stocking filler or Kris Kindle gift.

9. Le Creuset Heart Pot €70

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This piece of kit is essential in all chefs kitchen (especially in winter, hello hearty meals!)  The Le Creuset range does come with a price tag so it can be hard to buy for yourself! The lovely heart shaped pot is more affordable and makes a great gift for someone you really want to impress!

10. DIY Foodie Hamper

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Why not put together a food hamper with delicious nibbles and/or ingredients? You could even show off your own skills and make a personal recipe book and include things to make them with! Shops like Fallon & Byrne have a great selection of delightful treats, that will put a smile on any foodies face!


Thank you

I hope you’ve enjoyed my second gift guide of 2015!

If you need more inspiration, my lists from last year are still very popular!

Gift Guide for the foodies

Gift Guide for the (Fit) men

Gift Guide for the gym bunnies

Foodie Fun in California

My sister, her husband and friends all had foodie plans for me upon landing in San Francisco. I love to try new foods and experience places that are not available here in Dublin, so I was game for anything (even the non-healthy choices) So below are some of the great foods I got to try on my trip to California.

Champa Garden-Oakland:

Situated in a neighbourhood in Oakland, this is a place that you could easily walk by and not take notice, well except for the fact that there is always a que outside! We love this restaurant not only because it’s super close to my sisters house but the food is pretty damn good! Traditional food from Laos and lots of healthy/gluten free options available too (they even do gluten free beer) We got a few different options to share and I loved the fresh spring rolls below; they were shrimp, beansprouts and avocado rolled in some rice paper and served with a delicious garlic dip, such delicate flavours! My other favourite dish was the pork wraps, a mixture of pork, chilli, asian vegetables and spices served with lettuce, coriander and mint leaves, the fresh favours just exploded from this dish and the texture was pretty crunchy, this one I kept going back to, very moreish!

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In N Out Burger-Alameda:

I couldn’t visit the USA without trying “In N Out” Burger and I missed my chance when I was in Vegas! Yes, this is fast food but it’s good fun and it’s also incredibly cheap! Behind the counter I could see one of the staff members peeling and using a machine to cut the potatoes into fries, I thought this was pretty cool to see as we all know of other fast food joints who make fries out of god knows what! I went for the protein style (wrapped in lettuce) and fries, I was really impressed, it was a well made burger and the fries were ok, nothing to rave about but I was glad to try it out!

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Doughnut Dolly-Berkley: 

My sister’s good friend Evan knows me very well! We did a foodie trail, mainly around the Berkeley area and this was one of our stops! This is no regular bakery and these are no regular doughnuts! There is a selection of four types of doughnuts to choose from (granulated sugar, chocolate frosting, lemon frosting and icing sugar) you are also presented with four fillings (see pic) and when you choose which filling you like, they fill the doughnut on the spot! I went for the icing sugar option filled with dark chocolate cream. I’m not sure if it was the fact I haven’t eaten a doughnut in a number of years, but this was by far the best one I’ve ever eaten!! This wasn’t your typical greasy donut from the Supermarket, the pastry was light and fluffy, the perfect blanket for the delightful chocolatey cream beneath it, let’s just say it got messy and I loved it!! They come in at $3 a piece but I can see how they sell out daily! Great concept with a very delicious product!

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11204014_902646873139230_1956557110839940153_nThe Cheeseboard Collective- Berkley:

The cheeseboard collective started their Pizza business as a bit of fun in the 1980s (they were already an established cheese and bakery shop) but it has flourished ever since! Walking up to the building the first thing you will notice is the very long que and people sitting all out on the sidewalk enjoy their freshly cooked pizza, the second things you’ll be met with is the amazing smell of freshly baked dough, garlic and herbs (this is when the hunger will kick in) TCC cook one vegetarian pizza everyday, so the menu changes daily but that will be the only option! We order half a pizza between us and while you get half a pizza, they also give you an extra slice on top! The pizza is perfectly thin and while the flavours look like a tongue twister on the board, they compliment each other perfectly-This is amazing pizza!! There is a live jazz band playing in the corner and I am delighted with life as I sit there munching on my pizza and listening to some beautiful music, with great company (It’s the little things eh?)

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Napa Valley-Napa:

I couldn’t talk about foodie fun with out mentioning Napa! Napa has been on my Bucket list for a long time, I was there when I was 20 but because I wasn’t legal to consume alcohol, I couldn’t do the Wine Tasting. So, nine years later I got to tick this one off the list. Napa was heaven to me, I don’t think I spoke a word as we drove in, I was consumed by the beauty of the scenery around me, dusty road lined with vineyards, green hills created a collage against the perfect blue sky… It was so picturesque, the backdrop to a movie! We started at the Silver Oak Winery and to be honest, I could have stayed there all day. Sipping on wine that would normally be way outside my budget ($80-$120 a bottle) my taste buds were tingling, I was feeling merry and I had such a laugh pretending to be a wine connoisseur-“Oh yes, this definitely has tints of blackberry and oak” You know how it goes!! We got to taste 3 amazing wines at Silver Oak (and a refill of our favourite selection) As you can see in the last picture below, we got a bit silly jumping around and taking pictures in the vineyard, great memories that I’ll never forget! IMG_5366 IMG_5378

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Foodie Fun in Vegas

Sorry I went a little AWOL there for a few weeks! I was on holiday for 10 days in the US of A and could only find time to keep my social media covered, it was all go between Vegas and then seeing my sister in San Francisco! I flew solo to Vegas as Mr. PP was on business there, but we also got tickets to the UFC 189 card. The whole experience was insane and one I’ll never forget. I’ve shared all these experiences over on my Facebook/Instagram pages but I wanted to share some of the great food experiences I had in Vegas. It got so hot at times I lost my appetite but I certainly made up for it in San Francisco, I will do a post on that also!

Cold Brew Coffee:

With the temperature well over 40 degrees most days, the last thing on your mind is a hot coffee! But, you still need a caffeine fix, so the best option is a cold brew coffee, poured over ice with some organic milk. We picked up a couple of different brands but Stumptown was by far my favourite. Blended with only 2 ingredients; coffee & water; it kept all of it’s natural flavours and was so refreshing with breakfast. (We were staying in a hotel with self-service features, so could make our own breakfast each morning!)

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Epic Bites:

I love the Epic bars which can be found in Bodyfirst here. They’re pretty pricey but I always pick up a couple when I’m there. Mr. PP had picked up a selection of the Epic Bites packs in Wholefoods the day before I arrived. OMG, they were so good, serious flavour bombs! My favourite was the beef steak, it was nice and spicy without blowing your head off and the cranberries gave it a subtle sweetness. I found the bacon option a little too salty; bacon is already a salty meat so I feel they should have used something else beside sea salt as an additional flavour. The best thing about this snack was the fact that it could withstand the heat, meaning you could carry them anywhere for emergencies (we even brought some to the UFC fight for when we got hungry.)

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Blueberry Cheesecake Ice-Lolly:

I love trying new and unique foods when I’m away and SASA SWEETS CHILLSPOT in downtown vegas was a super find! Tucked away in the very cool Downtown Container Park– An Offbeat shopping center built from shipping containers! SasaSweets are the creators of award winning SasaPops brand artisan frozen pops, which come in an array of quirky flavours. It was so hard to choose amongst all the options (they even do Liquid nitrogen ice creams and sorbets made fresh while you wait) but in the end I went for the cheesecake option. It was so good & tasted exactly like a creamy cheesecake, it even had the biscuit base hidden inside!

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Big Erns BBQ:

Award winning “Big Erns bbq” is also located in the Downtown Container Park as above and is a must for all the bbq fans out there! While I admit the staff weren’t the friendliest, the food certainly diminished any hard feelings-This was probably the best slow cooked meat I’ve ever eaten! Super tender, fall off the bone meat, they slow smoke the meat over hickory and oak wood giving it a very unique flavour and all sides are made from scratch. Mr PP went a bit crazy on the order, but we got to try lots of options and take away what we couldn’t finish. I’m still dreaming about this place!

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Easy Holiday Breakfast:

No it’s not fully clean but I am custom to a delicious croissant when I’m away! We purchased a box of them from Whole Foods and filled with some parma ham and organic cheese for a quick breakfast. The fruit came prepared in a huge pack for about $17 but there was 20% off that and it lasted the full 5 days I was there and more. This was another cold-brew I tried and it was good, a darker roast but slightly chalky in taste. Water is essential in vegas as the heat is insane, I drank at least 4 of these litre bottles everyday.

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Kombucha: 

With long distance travelling it’s important to keep your immune system and gut in good order to avoid any colds or illnesses. Packed full of proprietary probiotics and powerful antioxidants, drinking kombucha is a great way to boost the immune system naturally! I tried the Synergy brand and drank it over a couple of days, the bottles are pretty big so will last. Packed with antioxidants because of the Blueberry and ginger juice flavour combo, it was a great choice to go for after landing!

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Whole Foods:

I had to save the best for last!! This magical shop is like Narnia for all the health and fitness enthusiasts out there! Most people go to vegas to party or gamble but I was so thrilled to be running around Whole Foods looking at the amazing selection of food on offer. With all the beautiful fresh fruit and veg, nut butter dispensers, paleo fast food, the cold brew, kombucha & jerky listed about- (the list is never ending really) I was in health foodie heaven! If you are staying in a hotel in with self-service options then hit the nearest whole-foods and kit out your fridge!! It’s gonna cost a lot but everyone should experience it.. (even just once!!)

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Crazed Health Foodie in Whole Foods.

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Fit-fam Weekly Specials

With so many options and the Fitness market more competitive than ever, there are some decent budget products to be found. I am going to make a regular list of some of the things I have found that may be of interest to all you Health and Fitness addicts. If you see anything you think is amazing and great value be sure to share and I will add them in.

Debenhams-Crepe Maker €26

Hands up who loves crepes/pancakes? Silly questions but how amazing is this crepe maker? Perfect crepes every time! You will become the brunch king or queen with this in your home! (Lidl will have one in from the 12th Feb for €24.99, Click here)

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DEALZ- Mens/Womans Weightlifting Gloves- €1.49

I don’t know about you but my hands are pretty bad these days. In fact Mr PP told be recently my hands are like knuckles lol It maybe time to book in for a manicure!  If you want to save your hands, try out some lifting gloves. These ones are ridicously cheap so even if the quality is terrible and they only last for one day, you have still gotten your monies worth!

424579795LIDL-Kettlebells €4.99-€14.99 (12th February)

When I started weight training it was with a sandbag that weighed 3kg (and that was tough) It amazed me still to this day how the body adapts and you get stronger by the day. Don’t make excuses about why you can’t lift weights or that you have no strength, start somewhere! It could be with the 2.5kg kettlebell here and that could be the best €5 you ever spent. Fast forward a year and you could be hitting workouts with a hell of lot more! Lidl will have a whole range of fitness clothing/equipment from this date.

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That’s all for now, will get searching to bring you more amazing deals!!

Thanks for reading x