Autumn Spice Muffins

Autumn Spice Muffins

Autumn Spice Muffins

With Autumn just around the corner it feels like the right time to spice up our baking with these Autumn Spice Muffins. With the wonderful warming scent of cinnamon and packed full of carrots, courgettes and apples they are a nutritious choice for your lunchbox. Baking a batch of these at the start of the week means that we always have something to pop in our lunchbox or grab when we’re off to classes with the kids in the evenings and weekends. With a host of lovely slow release energy from seeds and oats they’ll keep you going when you need them to.

Autumn Spiced Muffins

Makes 12

Gluten, dairy, nut and flour free.

Pre heat oven to 170C

Ingredients

1 courgette

1 carrot

One apple

½ cup currants

2 tsp cinnamon

2 eggs (or replace with flaxseed eggs)

100gm coconut oil (soft or melted)

180g ground sunflower seeds (equivalent to 1 cup of whole sunflower seeds)

1 cup oats

1 tsp baking powder

1/3 cup coconut sugar

3 Tbsp ground linseed

Method

Preheat the oven to 170C

Grate the carrot, courgette and apple. Place in a large bowl mix together with all the other wet ingredients and cinnamon. Mix well.

Add in the dry ingredients and fold together until mixed and there are no pockets of dry ingredients left.

Scoop equal amounts in paper or silicone cases.

Bake for 30 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.

Makes 12 muffins.

ENJOY your Autumn Spice Muffins! Why not whip up some of our ABC Nut Butter to slather on when you are super hungry.

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Batch cooking basics

Batch cooking basics

Batch cooking basics

This week we’re planning and plotting, to raise our supper game by learning the batch cooking basics with Kate from the Nourish team. Kate’s a keen cook but with little spare time on her hands she sometimes struggles to keep meals well balanced for her family. That’s where batch cooking comes in!

My batch cooking journey began 12yrs ago. Before that I was young, free and scooping up hummus and crackers on my way out in the evening, or occasionally cooking for a dinner party. Things changed slightly when I started commuting and moved in with my other half. Dinner was something we took in turns to create and if we didn’t have time then a takeaway was an easy option. The big change for me was when my first son was born and suddenly getting home from work and either throwing some salad in a bowl or picking up a Thai for supper wasn’t really an option anymore. Mentioning my struggles to my mum, she reminded me of how, when we were little, she spent weekends filling the freezer and jars with simple food that just needed heating up. 

Getting started with batch cooking basics.

Throughout my maternity leave I honed a short list of simple, easy to create batch cooked meals. It wasn’t rocket science but it sure made life easier during a busy week! I’d suggest first making a list of your family favourites. Work back from there to ensure you don’t get too much food waste. 

What I learnt first was to keep it simple and stick to things that I felt confident we would use regularly. I learnt my lesson early on with freezing all manner of complicated meals that never came out the same once they’d been frozen. Far too many times I made batches of salads for lunches that week, only to forget them after the first day and be left with a slimy bowl of leaves!

What can I batch cook? Almost anything, but keep it simple!

My rule of thumb is that on Saturday or Sunday I will make food for the start of the week, and keep them in the fridge for 3 days. For the later part of the week I’ll freeze things on a Sunday and defrost them the day we want to eat them. Eating something while the ingredients are properly fresh is best for you. This is when your food will provide optimum nutrition and goodness. 

Freezing into portions is good practice so that if someone is running late etc you aren’t wasting food unnecessarily. It also gives you options if for some reason, like in my house, someone absolutely doesn’t want to eat what’s on the meal plan for the week! I also love to roast a pile of veggies for the fridge to have for my lunch during the week. These I then pack down into silicone storage bags as a daily portion. 

Meal Planning

It might sound a little dull at first but I find that planning my week’s shop carefully means that I have very little, to no, food waste. It also sets everyone’s expectations at the start of the week, we enjoy doing this together on a Saturday morning as a family. There are definitely nights when we don’t plan, often Saturday night or Sunday lunch for instance. The rest of the time we find when we’re super busy that having planned everything means we eat well balanced, nutritious meals, instead of grabbing something that’s maybe not so good for us.

Storing your batch cooking.

We’ve switched all of our freezer and fridge containers over to sustainable options over the past few years. I love these silicone fridge/freezer storage pouches for storing anything from fruit slices for when the kids get home, to soup or sauces. Or for bigger things, like main meals or muffins, I use our metal lunch/storage boxes. You could try using glass jars and/or storage boxes too, we’re a bit clumsy here so they don’t work for me!

I personally don’t like to store things in the freezer for more than a month or two or the fridge for more than 3 days. Keeping what’s in the freezer on a fairly strict rotation so I don’t end up with lots of bits and pieces leftover and taking up space for ages. I generally jot a date onto my freezer and fridge storage boxes/pouches, just to keep me organised. 

My top 4 tips for keeping on track with batch cooking.

  1. Main meals – regulars on repeat in our house are things like veggie bolognese, refried beans, eggplant and vegetable korma.
  2. Soup – stored in tupperware in the fridge for a few days, or in the freezer. Some of our favourites are creamy brassica  and roast cauliflower. Soups are great as they fill that gap when you don’t know what to have for lunch, or someone is late home from work.
  3. Simple lunches – Easy grab and eat things for lunch boxes like courgette fritters, apple and banana keto muffins, quinoa and roasted veg salad, some yummy, homemade energy bites and of course the epic Nourish Raw Slices!
  4. Keep a few bags of frozen veg and fruit in the freezer. Frozen fruit and veg is frozen within minutes of picking and this ensures that they retain virtually all of their just picked goodness. Try companies like Pak’d for frozen fruit, nothing like a smoothie or some instant banana ice cream on a hot day. Or a bag of peas can instantly warm you up from the inside soup on a cold day.
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Baked courgette fritters

Baked courgette fritters

baked courgette fritters

Our baked courgette fritters with avocado, tomato salsa are one of our favourite lunch/snack time things to grab. Especially at the moment when we are still happily working our way through a glut of courgettes in the garden. The courgette plant has the ability to take over the most organised of veggie beds, however it seriously delivers in volume of crop! Gluten free and made with just a handful of store cupboard ingredients these will keep well in the fridge for a few days, although they many not last that long! Don’t fancy the salsa? These are delicious served up with a dollop of hummus too. We hope you enjoy our baked courgette fritters.

Baked courgette fritters with an avocado tomato salsa

Gluten, dairy, egg and grain free. Suitable for a vegan diet.

Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees Celsius

Ingredients

1 large courgette (or two small/medium ones)

1 cup ground almonds

5 Tbsp ground linseeds

8 Tbsp Water

1tsp ground cumin

1/3 tsp pink salt

Cracked Pepper

Method

in a small bowl mix together the linseed and water and set aside to thicken for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile grate the courgettes and place in a large bowl. Add the ground almond, cumin, salt and cracked pepper (to taste). Mix thoroughly, finish by mixing by hand. You will find it becomes dough like as the ground almond soaks up the moisture from the courgette.

Add in the thickened linseed/water mixture and mix together well. You should have a thick batter that you can shape by hand.

Shape into 8 large fritters and place on a baking stone or lined baking tray. Drizzle avocado oil over each fritter.

Bake at 170 degrees Celsius for 25-30 minutes.

Serve with this avocado and tomato salsa..

1 ripe avocado

1 large tomato (seeds/pulp removed)

½ tsp ground cumin

Salt/Cracked Pepper

1 ½  Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Peel and pip the avocado, then chop the flesh into small cubes. Take the tomato and do the same. Mix together all the ingredients in a small bowl. Serve alongside your fritters.

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Eating for Autumn

Eating for Autumn

eating for autumn

Joining us this week on the blog is Neleta Winter (BSc dipION mBANT) reigstered nutritional practitioner to look at Eating for Autumn. With the change in the seasons comes a definite change in diet, but what should we be eating to help maintain our health and wellbeing? If you’d like to learn more about Neleta and her practice, check out her bio at the foot of the page.

Eating for Autumn

Autumn is upon us which means that the colder days and darker nights will soon creep in and with the change in seasons, does this mean our diets will need to change?

Eating cold salads on a cold day isn’t going to be that appealing, but eating for the season is not only great for the environment but also for our health.

Eat seasonally

You see, seasonal vegetables and fruit contain higher concentrated amounts of nutrients and can actually help to support our health and wellbeing by providing the nutrients our body needs during different times of the year. As the temperature drops and there’s the increase in risk of colds and flus, we need to be eating foods that nourish us from the inside, strengthen our immune system, boost our energy levels to make us feel well and energised. And that is where seasonal foods come in. Nature is very clever in that it provides us with those warming foods, immune supporting foods and foods that will help to support energy levels when the nights draw in and light is low.

Root vegetables such as beetroot, carrots, squash, pumpkin and sweet potato are all wonderful autumn vegetables. They are packed with Vitamin A and C which are potent antioxidants that can help to support our immune system. Pumpkins are rich in Vitamin A, which has been shown to support the immune system. They also contain Vitamin C that can help to increase white blood cell production and help immune cells work more effectively. Sweet potatoes are not only a versatile vegetable but they are also full of Vitamin C which has been shown to support the production of collagen needed for skin health.

Have you ever felt that autumn skin when it starts to get dry and dull?

Eating nourishing vegetables and fruit packed with nutrients such as vitamin C, E, A, zinc, and selenium will help to support your skin health. Studies have shown that eating carrots has been linked to improved antioxidant status. Fruits such as apples and pears are abundant in autumn and did you know that apple skins contain quercetin, a type of plant pigment flavonoid that helps boost your immune system and reduce inflammation and not forgetting the vitamin C found in pears that helps to support our immune function.

Leafy greens such as kale and cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower are also available in September And they both contain high levels of vitamin C, which not only packs a powerful antioxidant punch, it helps fight off infection and regenerate other antioxidants in the body, including vitamin E.

Fibre provider.

All these seasonal vegetables and fruit contain an abundant amount of fibre which can will ultimately support our gut health. You see fibre feeds the good bacteria within our gut which allows them to produce Short Chain Fatty Acids.

Short Chain fatty acids are produced when the friendly gut bacteria ferments fibre in your colon. They are the main source of energy for the cells lining your colon. They are also involved in the metabolism of important nutrients like carbohydrates and fats. Did you know that up to 70% of our immune system is found in our gut? So, feeding our gut with nourishing foods that will support the good bacteria, provide fibre to help produce short chain fatty acids will actually help to support our immune system.

Whole grains

Whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, oats and buckwheat are wonderful additions to help support and stabilise blood sugar levels, especially on the darker and shorter days. Wholegrains are the complex carbohydrates that haven’t been highly processed. They contain wonderful vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins needed for energy production,

Magnesium and iron, antioxidants, protein and are high in fibre. They help to provide us with long term sustainable energy as they are broken down into sugars a lot slower within our body. Therefore not causing a huge rise in insulin levels. The fibre content of wholegrain helps to slow down this breakdown of sugars and also helps to support our good bacteria and increase the feeling of fullness.

Legumes

Beans, chickpeas, lentils, soybeans are not only amazing plant based sources of protein but they also contain high amounts of fibre. We know that fibre can help to support our gut health, as well as being packed with nutrients such as magnesium, potassium and iron. They are a great addition to dishes to help bulk meals out and make for a wonderful hearty addition in the colder days…think warm lentil salads, stews with beans, and Curries with chickpeas.

Nuts & Seeds

Did you know that nuts and seeds were classed as an autumn food but now we are able to get them all year round? Yet they provide us with not only a wonderful source of protein but amazing nutrients. Such as, magnesium which is needed for over 300 chemical reactions within the body. including keeping our immune system strong. It helps to strengthen muscles and bones, and supports many body functions from cardiac functions to brain functions.

Nuts are antioxidant powerhouses. The antioxidants and polyphenols found in nuts, can help to combat oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals.

Almonds are a great source of Vitamin E for skin health. They also support immune function and preventing inflammation. Selenium and zinc found in Brazil nuts and pumpkin seeds are vital for immune health. Zinc is crucial for the development and function of cells mediating the immune system. It helps to breakdown the proteins within viruses and bacteria and increases the activation of the immune response against infections.

Fighting fit

All these amazing foods provide such an array of wonderful nutrients as well as fibre that will only help to support our gut health and in turn support our immune system to help us fight off any autumn colds and flus as well as supporting skin health during these cold and windier days.

Autumn brings not only colour to the trees but also to our food so think colourful, and try and incorporate a wonderful array of colourful vegetables and fruit at each meal time which will help to provide an abundant amount of nutrients, antioxidants and fibre.

Neleta Winter is a BANT registered Nutritional Practitioner and Nutritional Chef. She’s the founder of Nourish & Flourish Nutrition where works one to one with individuals to help to support and optimise their health and wellbeing And find balance with food. She also runs food and nutrition workshops, talks and demos to show people that eating to nourish our body and mind is easy to do and of course delicious. She believes that healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring and tasteless but by using everyday superfoods we can support and optimise our overall health while enjoying the food we eat.

Top up your Macaroon stores this week and use your 20% off discount code for all pouches. Just enter – ORG2020 – at checkout.

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The Nutritious Larder

The Nutritious Larder

The nutritious larder

The Nutritious Larder

With larder cupboards being a massive interiors trend at the moment we’ve been inspired to create our Wishlist for the nutritious larder. For most of us the idea of a huge larder stuffed full of wonderful ingredients is a bit of a pipe dream. Does anyone else incessantly pin pictures from Pinterest of beautifully jarred ingredients with gorgeous labels, all lined up like sentries, onto their boards? Whilst we might not all be able to achieve a beautiful larder we can certainly make sure that it’s full of healthy, nutritious ingredients to sustain us through the Autumn and Winter. 

Sustainability first.

With our own commercial kitchen working towards being zero waste we’re applying the same ideas to home too. Refill/Zero Waste stores are a fantastic resource for cutting down on your food packaging. Reuse jars and other containers from home and fill up with dried goods like chickpeas, oats and more. 

Most refill stores will also have a selection of products like our own Coconut Bites, that will be packaged in Home Compostable or recyclable packaging. We love our local store in Reigate, Inside Out, for it’s Faith in Nature refill station. This is such a simple way to cut down on plastic packaging. We’re refilling into glass bottles with a pump from We Earth London (they have a 5% off discount code for 1st orders on their site when you sign up to their newsletter).

Wholefoods.

What does wholefoods mean? Wholefoods refers to foods that are pure and as unprocessed as possible. This covers legumes, fruit, veg, seeds, nuts, grains and more. Whether you cut them, whizz them, bake them, they remain a wholefood that hasn’t been messed about with, other than to mix it with other naturally sourced ingredients. Eating a whole-food diet is sometimes referred to as “clean eating” because you avoid processed foods and focus on healthy, nutritious whole foods. Processed and refined foods contain preservatives, artificial colors, and other chemicals that may be toxic. Eating whole foods means you avoid these unwanted additives and get the full suite of antioxidants, digestive enzymes, and other nutrients in the foods.

During Organic September we’d urge you to make the change, where possible, to organic ingredients. Wholefoods with no nasties added are the fuel that we all need to get through the change in seasons and keep our health on track. Why not try a veggie box from Riverford or support your own local one? These reflect the wonderful seasonal produce that we have available to us in the UK from our own farms.

All of our own products are based on the principle of eating wholefoods. You won’t find any ingredients that you don’t recognise easily in any of our Macaroons, Bites or Slices.

Why not top up your snack cupboard today and use the code – ORG2020 at checkout – To receive 20% off any Macaroon pouches (includes Apple Crumble)?

So what wholefoods might you find in a nutritious larder?

Nuts and seeds.

A handful of nuts or seeds, to sustain energy and provide healthy fats is an easy snack to take on the move with you.  Both are a great source of protein and help with that feeling of satiety. We love to add a spoon of ground almond to porridge or to help thicken sauces or soups too. They add a lovely creaminess. A favourite, home from school snack, of our IGTV superstar, Inge, is a pot of nut butter to dip in either veggie sticks or slices of apple. Fancy making your own nut butter, try her very own recipe here

Seeds are naturally crammed with real goodies like protein, iron, fibre, vitamins and minerals. Which makes them a super nutritious food for a healthy diet. The rich nutrient content of seeds makes them particularly good for those leading an active lifestyle. A scattering of activated seeds takes a humble salad to new heights, especially if you add a hit of chilli powder to them. We love the many flavours of the Boundless Seeds, they really add a punch to any dish. We also add seeds into our baking too, why not try our quick seed bread recipe?

Fruit bowl and veggie drawer.

We love a fruit and veggie box, a surprise every week and always some stalwart favourites in there too! Try Riverford, Abel & Cole, Eversfield (we love the no potatoes box!), Piktfresh. Or perhaps discover a great local one like our local, Surrey based Greener Greens.

The delight of eating seasonally truly comes to life when you get excited about the start of your favourites coming into season. For some it’s the start of the asparagus season, for others it might be plums. Whatever it is there is nothing better than a gorge on your faves once they are readily available. 

Legumes.

For those able to tolerate legumes they are an incredible way to add bulk, and fuel, to create a healthy, well balanced meal. Think cannellini beans in a stew, black beans in your chilli or that perennial favourite, chickpea packed hummus. We love to make a big batch of Mexican inspired refried kidney beans. Great at keeping us going when the chill sets in.

Frozen peas and broad beans are also great staples to have at hand that cook quickly and have retained all their natural goodness by being quickly frozen at picking. Cooking a piece of fish? Why not knock up one of Ineke’s favourite side dishes, smashed pea and avocado to serve alongside?

Unrefined wholegrains.

With such a wide choice of wholegrains there is something for everyone. Whether you follow a gluten free diet or not. Choose from grains like oats, quinoa, spelt, brown rice, pearl barley to add some serious fibre to your diet. With many wholegrains packing a nutritious punch they are invaluable and have made different uses from sweet to savoury. Play with these grains in your baking by replacing some of the flour with oats for instance. Or why not add a handful of pearl barley to a soup to create a hearty meal?

Few cold mornings are complete in the Nourish kitchen without a bowl of bircher muesli with warm plant milk. A great slow release of energy throughout the morning will keep the busiest of families fuelled up. We love Primrose Kitchen for their delicious, organic, bircher muesli. 

In our lunch boxes you’ll find nutritious wholegrain treats like our fibre packed chocolate puffed cereal slice. Or if you’re after a seriously savoury hit have a go at our lip smacking quinoa and roasted veg salad ?

Spice up your life.

Herbs and spices are the key for taking a bland dish from zero to hero. What would carrot soup be without coriander, or chilli be without paprika? Now is a great time to have a little herb and spice audit. There is nothing worse than thinking you’re adding a fragrant few leaves of tarragon only to find that it’s lost its scent and is out of date.

Fresh herbs can be grown on a windowsill all year long. They provide a welcome spot of colour to some of the more everyday dishes. Tomato soup taken to new heights with a dollop of basil or rocket pesto. Or a jacket potato and hummus can be transformed by a dollop of chimichurri sauce.

We hope we’ve inspired you to audit your cupboards for the new season, and that you’ve enjoyed checking out what’s in the nutritious larder.

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Love your Lunchbox

Love your Lunchbox

Love your Lunchbox

Love your lunchbox

Do you love your lunchbox? I’ll be honest, I’ve always started out with the very best intentions when it comes to the lunchbox. I have a selection of bento and tiffin boxes, insulated bags, thermal flasks and bowls, I’ve got the lot. I’ll make myself healthy, rainbow coloured lunches for about 3 weeks and slowly it will peter off and I’ll only be doing it once a week. Before I know it I’m wondering what on earth I should do with all the boxes, lunch bags etc that I’m not using. Then the cycle starts again, you get the picture?

All change.

This year though, this year it’s all different in our house. We’ve never given the kids lunchboxes, they’ve both always had the hot option at school instead. However, with one on a low carb/keto diet for his health issues (he’s on beta blockers and therefore has diabetic tendencies) and the other a super fast growing teen who can never eat enough, we’ve had a change. From now on we’ll all be eating lunchbox meals, hubby and I at home or on the road and the kids at school.

There are so many reasons that you might choose a lunchbox over a school meal and vice versa. There really are no rights or wrongs here, what suits one family might not suit another. 

Getting Organised.

We’ve bought our boxes from Elephant Box for the kids and Black & Blum for the grown ups, I’ve also invested in a couple of Chilly pots so that as the weather gets cooler we can pack up leftovers of our refried beans or roast cauliflower soup.

Stick to the plan.

Now we just have to make a plan and stick to it! So far we’ve had a massive whiteboard in the kitchen and we’ve all been adding things to it when we think of them. It’s a random selection from traditional sandwiches to frittatas and muffins to fruit kebabs. I can already see that there may be several versions of lunch per day! This is a great way to engage everyone, you could have a blackboard, or just a pad and a pen on the side. The psychology is simple, get everyone involved and they’re more likely to eat what you give them. Keeping everyone enthusiastic seems to be key. I’ve signed up to several lunchbox gurus for inspiration too to keep me going, find the list below.

Love your lunchbox

Good food = good mood

There’s definitely something to be said for knowing exactly what the kids will be eating every day, especially at a time when we want to boost their immune systems any way we can. I have a few friends with fussy eaters who are also making the change this term to packed lunches. To go from maybe nibbling on a few bits of plain pasta for lunch to eating a full meal of what they will eat has seen one friend’s child go from the 4% centile for weight to 45% over lockdown. With stats like that you know you know you have to make a change. 

Working with a bunch of foodies I decided to get the Nourish input on what I might put into my own and the kids lunchboxes. 

Ineke

In Inges, our IGTV star’s Lunch Box there are usually some vege sticks of some description… always cucumber and tomatoes. A piece of fruit, occasionally Oat Cakes and often our Oat Cookies. We make our own nut free energy balls or pop in some Cacao and Strawberry Macaroons! Sometimes blocks of hard cheese. Leftover sweet potato wedges are always a winner for Inge! A treat at the end of every other week might be a packaged item such as some eat real crisps. For myself… I love a large salad, with lots of nuts and seeds, avocado and a large spoon of tahini or nut butter drizzled over with a squeeze of lemon juice. Ryan is similar, he will sometimes add in eggs and often sweet potatoes too.  And we both take a few energy balls and macaroons as our snack during the day too! A huge family favourite is seaweed snacks for all of us, Luca and Inge love them! So at the moment we use them even for outings.

Love your lunchbox

Kate 

I’m a frittata fiend. Sometimes I’ll stick to a vegan one made with chickpeas and other times I’ll use eggs. I’ll generally do a round up of what veggies look a tiny bit tired and either roast or pan fry them with herbs and spices. Our firm family favourite is spinach, courgette, pea, feta and dill, with maybe a little mint too. Pulled together in seconds and kept in the fridge for at least 3 days these are an easy, protein packed option for the teen and I. Never made a frittata before? Just experiment, there are very few things that won’t work. The teen tried sweet potato, edamame and green beans, Violife and lots of indian spices at the weekend, it was delicious with some Coyo on the side! He and his little brother are also cacao crazy and will have a 40g pouch of our Cacao Coconut Bites or the Nourish Breakfast Muffins, on hand too for a little sweet, healthy treat for a fuel up.

Ellerie 

My lunch boxes are normally quite simple. My kids tend to have crackers or pitta with either classic or cauliflower hummus and then pepper, tomato and cucumber on the side. I’ll cut up some fruit and pop in some Nourish oat cookies or a slice of banana bread. I love to feast on leftovers and a macaroon when I’m in a hurry, but if not then I’ll have a boiled egg, avocado and salad, with some rice cakes with a tub of Nush cream cheese to dunk them in. 

Websites with more inspiration,

For little ones – Little Cooks Co

Eating with your eyes – good looking lunches for kids

For sporty teens

Eco friendly, food waste free ideas

Grown up lunchbox heroes

We’d love to know what you would love your lunchbox to contain? Pop us a comment below and inspire us!

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