Banana Split

So last week Ireland was blessed with some glorious weather and everyone from office workers to college students seemed to be soaking it up. I love when the weather is so nice in Ireland, there always seems to be a much more relaxed, happier vibe about the place. It also made me realise that summer is right around the corner (woohoo!) and I am now dying for a holiday so I decided to create this recipe as it is probably the closest thing I will get to a holiday right now!

Banana splits are my all time favourite holiday dessert but they are typically laden with sugar and very thick, heavy, processed ingredients, well not this one! This banana split has no refined sugar, no cream just simple, natural, wholesome ingredients. What I love most about this recipe is how the different flavours and textures complement each other so well.

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Serving Size: 2 people (WARNING: It tastes so good you may end up eating it all yourself!)

There are three simple steps to this recipe; the whipped cream, the chocolate sauce and then the actual banana split. This does not take long to make but it does involve waiting overnight in order to get a really light and fluffy whipped coconut cream.

 

Step 1: Whipped Coconut Cream

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of Full Fat Coconut Milk – you will need the solid parts of the milk not the liquid. I find that Thai Gold’s organic full fat coconut milk is really good for this.

Method:

The night before you plan on making the split put the can of coconut milk upside down in the fridge. Leave it in the fridge for at least 8 hours.

About half an hour before you actually make the cream put your whisk into the fridge along with the bowl that you plan on whisking the milk in. If you’re using an electrical whisk just put the metal beaters in – I’d recommend using an electrical whisk for this.

Once the half hour is up take out the coconut milk, whisk and bowl out of the fridge and pour the coconut milk into the bowl (making sure you only get the solid part of the milk). Whisk the milk until forms a thick, fluffy cream.

 

Step 2: Hazelnut Chocolate Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 100g Hazelnuts – preferably skinless
  • 3 tbsps Coconut Oil, melted
  • 4 tbsps Raw Cacao Powder

Method:

Blitz all of the ingredients in a high power food processor/blender until all of the ingredients have combined to form a liquid. The flavour is quite rich on its own but works perfectly with the rest of the banana split. However, if you want that extra sweetness just add around 2-4 tbsps of coconut sugar, depending on how sweet you want it.

Step 3: Creating the split

 

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Ingredients:

  • 2 Bananas
  • 3 Nobó flavours – 1 scoop of each (I used Vanilla and Coconut, Irish Salted Caramel, and Chocolate and Toasted Almond)

Method:

Cut down the centre of each banana and place them on the edge and/or centre of a dish or bowl then add a scoop of each of your chosen Nobó flavours. Put a dollop of the coconut cream on top of each of the scoops of frozen goodness and then drizzle the chocolate sauce over.

Finally, add toppings of your choice. I broke about 5 squares of 92% Dark Chocolate into small pieces to add a bit of a crunch and then added 5 strawberries, cut in half, for that extra freshness.

And voilà! A dairy free banana split with absolutely no refined sugar. The perfect treat that will put you in the holiday mood!

 

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Don’t forget to share your recreations with me on Instagram by following and tagging me on your post (@neutralsandnutrition).

 

Tara

 

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Health is the Greatest Wealth: Raw Millionaires’ Shortbread

So for the second Clean Candy post I shall be telling you how to make Raw Millionaires’ Shortbread AKA Caramel Squares. This recipe is special to me in a weird way because it’s really the first recipe that I created that introduced me to the world of healthy treats. This recipe is a healthy alternative to caramel squares (one of my personal favourite treats from my childhood). I am obsessed with these and it has gotten the stamp of approval from my friends and family! 

 

This recipe was actually created on a whim and is now my go-to when I want to have a healthy treat! It is so easy and doesn’t take too long to make. I was pleasantly surprised at how much my family and friends loved these so if you are trying to encourage and show your friends and family how healthy eating can be fun definitely make them these.

You will need a blender for this, Nutribullets are great and worth buying. I got mine in Argos just over €100 which may sound expensive but I promise you it is money well spent. I guarantee you will become addicted to it! It’s so handy to use and wash, I use mine every single day…no joke.

I have tried and tested this recipe tons of times and I do prefer the cacao and hazelnut butter topping but it melts and hazelnut butter is very expensive and like gold dust these days so I will give you the cacao and coconut sugar topping recipe.

So without further ado here is the recipe.

Makes around 16 squares.

BISCUIT BASE:

100g Pecans
50g Hazelnuts
50g Walnuts
6 Medjool dates, pitted
3 tbsp Coconut oil, melted

Blitz all of these in a food processor/blender until everything is well blended together, forming a base. Place in a tray lined with parchment paper and use a glass or rolling pin to make sure it is spread evenly then put into the freezer for half an hour.

CARAMEL LAYER: 

2 tbsps Cashew butter
4 tbsps Water
1 tbsp Chia seeds
1 ½ cups Medjool dates, destined
4 tbsps Ground almonds
2 tbsps Coconut milk (the solid part only, “Thai Gold’s” organic thai coconut milk is good for this)
2 tbsps Coconut oil, melted
A dash of Vanilla extract (optional)

Whilst the base is in the freezer, blitz all of these ingredients together in your blender until it forms a really gooey, brown caramel like texture. This will blend pretty fast but just make sure it is well blended, if you can see some ingredients still in the mixture after blending it (I find the dates take longer than the rest to be mixed in) continue to blend until you no longer see them.

Take the base out of the freezer and place the caramel on top. Again, use a glass or rolling pin to ensure it is evenly spread and covers the entire base. Put it into the freezer and make the chocolate topping while you wait.

CHOCOLATE TOPPING:

4 tbsps Raw Cacao powder (I use Nua Naturals brand)
4 tbsps Coconut oil, melted
2-4 tbsps Coconut palm sugar (depending on the texture and sweetness you want)

Get a blender (I use a hand blender) and whisk all of the ingredients together until a liquid is formed (it looks like melted chocolate). Take the tray with your base and caramel layer out and pour the chocolate on top, making sure you leave no area uncovered.

 

Put into the freezer and you can take them out and devour anytime after 90 minutes. Personally I prefer to leave them overnight to get a really indulgent taste but it is entirely up to you.

 

So there you go! Delicious dairy, gluten, refined sugar, and syrup free caramel squares suitable for all types of diets including vegan and paleo.

Don’t forget to share your recreations using #HealthIsWealth and tag me in your pics!

INSTAGRAM: @neutralsandnutrition

 

Enjoy your weekend!

 

Tara

London Calling: 5 healthy restaurants to check out

I love to travel, it is so amazing to explore new cities and to experience new cultures. Last summer I went to London for a few days with my Mum and my sister and I fell in love with the health food scene over there, it’s like the L.A of Europe! With summer nearly back again (hallelujah) I am reminiscing about my trip to London so I decided to post my top 5 favourite healthy restaurants that you should definitely try to go to if you are there.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much people seem to embrace a healthy lifestyle over there and could not believe this health food mecca was less than an hours plane journey from Dublin. Also, I have a slight obsession with hazelnut butter so when I saw that Whole Foods made their own nut butters and that you could choose your serving size (mine was probably big enough to feed a family of 5 for a week) I could barely contain my excitement.

London really is the capital of clean candy, so prepare to be exposed to some pretty sexy, guilt free desserts.

Tanya’s Cafe

This is a raw food restaurant with two locations in Chelsea. Tanya’s is a celebrity hotspot and it is understandable why it’s so popular. The setting is gorgeous, so relaxed and calm and the staff are so friendly. I went there for dinner but do feel it would be more of a place to try for brunch. If you do go for dinner I would definitely recommend trying one of their desserts, the cheesecakes were yummy and light. Their hot “chocolate” was without a doubt the best one of my entire trip. You will come out of Tanya’s feeling revitalised and clean, even after having dessert!
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Wild Food Café

Wild Food Café is located in Neal’s Yard in Covent Garden. I loved this place it has such cool healthy alternatives and their ethos shines through everything from the menu to the staff’s uniforms. It gets very busy so try get in before the crowds (before half 1).  If you get there and it is busy put your name down with the host and explore Covent Garden while you wait for your table, Covent Garden is gorgeous to walk around, this place is must try (it got my mum and sisters approval so it is definitely a winner). Getting a dessert here is mandatory, I got the white chocolate and pecan cheesecake and just did not want it to end! Here and Tanya’s were the most expensive of the places I went and the waiters do already put a service charge with the bill so just be aware of that.

 

Raw Press

I loved the whole vibe around this place plus it is not far from New Bond St so it is nice to go for a stroll after and pretend you can afford to shop there! No but seriously, Raw Press was probably my favourite in terms of interior design it just felt really warm and friendly, not pretentious at all. The staff were so nice too. They sell Hardihood cakes here, which is how I came across it, so promise me you will not leave London without trying one of these cakes!

 

The Good Life Eatery

The Good Life Eatery has a brilliant selection for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The meals are simple, delicious alternatives and it is brilliant if you are with your friends or family who may be not be too enthusiastic about healthy eating. They aren’t stingy with their portion sizes either, the goodness bowl is great for having a bit of everything.

Inspiralled

The people here are just so cool, relaxed and chilled. You may have seen their products being sold in other health food cafes and stores, they do a wide range of products that are extremely popular! Inspiralled is out in Camden so not as close the centre as the rest of the places I have mentioned but the atmosphere was amazing and Camden is really cool to see. The menu offers a wide range of choices so you will not be stuck Inspiralled is open from the morning to late night everyday, I really enjoyed the buzz about the place in the evening, like a healthy lounge bar! They also make their own ice cream, yes please! Definitely pop in when you’re in London.

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I was impressed with the healthy cafés, restaurants and even bars London has to offer. It is a paradise for clean candy lovers like me but it can be expensive. In my opinion, the health food scene is better than New York (I still love you though New York) I cannot wait to go back and check out some of the places I did not get to like Eathos and Maple & Fitz.

What are your go-to healthy restaurants when you are in London? Let me know in the comments section or on Instagram! @neutralsandnutrition

 

Tara

5 Tips for Reading Food Labels

I have come across a lot of documentaries and books about the rise in global obesity but recently a common theme has emerged, our education about the food we eat. Scientists and nutritionists argue that we should be educated more about food and learn the ability to differentiate between fake healthy foods and real, nutrient dense foods.

Quite often you may think you are eating healthy foods when in fact you are not. Before I became really passionate about healthy eating and started researching more about it I thought having a Caesar salad or a salad covered in dressing was healthier than having a burger and chips. In reality it was not that much better for my body. Do not feel embarrassed if this is you, we are all drawn to meals that promise health and weight loss benefits when in fact they are riddled with sugar and processed ingredients. We are tricked by food companies and their smart choice of words.

Picture/ Pinterest/ Paulina Arcklin.

There are a lot of mixed messages out there about healthy eating so I decided to show you the 5 simple rules you should follow when doing your grocery shop.

1. READ THE INGREDIENTS
Unless its quinoa or cacao, if you can’t pronounce the ingredients don’t buy it. Many supermarket products are full of stabilisers and waxing agents to allow for longer product shelf life. For example, I used to always purchase unsweetened almond milk thinking I was fuelling my body with a healthier alternative and one day I decided to look at the ingredients and realised that I did not recognise half of them.

2. INGREDIENT RANKING
Ingredients are listed in terms of their amount in the product. For example, almond butter should have Almonds listed as its first ingredient because it is the main ingredient. If sugar is anywhere near the top I would avoid it.

3. THE SUGAR RULE
Our recommended sugar intake is around 20g (for women) which is about 5 teaspoons. Look at the 100g/100ml nutritional information at the back of products..if it is more than 4g or 5g per 100g/ml avoid the product.

4. MISLEADING LABELS
Beware of misleading labels such as low fat, gluten free or low calorie. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. In low fat products the fat is often replaced with sugar and it is surprising how much sugar can be found in gluten free foods, some gluten free biscuits have even more sugar than normal biscuits! Gluten free breads can also be full of random, processed ingredients so always make sure you read the ingredients!

5. MORE THAN 5..
Often if there are more than 5 ingredients the product is not the healthiest. Think about it..broccoli only has one ingredient, nut butter only has 1-2 ingredients, nuts only have one ingredient. The more ingredients the further away the product is from its natural state.

I know these are only brief guidelines but they are staple guidelines that I live by when doing my grocery shop. You do not have to bombard yourself with tons and tons of DOs and DONTs, keep it simple. Notice how your trolley will be packed with healthy, wholesome, nutritious foods from just following these 5 simple rules! Don’t forget life is all about balance so don’t beat yourself up if you sometimes find yourself straying from these guidelines.

 

Tara

Nobó Chocolate ‘Mylk’ Shake

 

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As my final year in college is winding down (finally!) I have started to get more creative again with my healthy dessert recipes – I find it very therapeutic and it’s a nice break from college work (plus it’s an excuse to eat my favourite sweet foods) .

For my most recent recipe I have decided to experiment with Nobó’s products. I have been obsessed with Nobó since their products arrived in SuperValu a couple of years ago, there is nothing else out there quite like it. For those of you who have never heard of Nobó, it is an amazing Irish brand that sells dairy free ice cream or “frozen goodness.” All of the products are packed with natural ingredients and they do not use any stabilizers whatsoever in their products so it is the perfect healthy treat that satisfies your sweet tooth whilst nourishing your body a lot more than normal ice cream would.

 

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The other day I was looking out the window at the particularly wet and miserable weather we have been having in Ireland over the past week or two and I was fantasying about being away in a exotic, warm country sitting outside in the 30 degree heat instead of being on a freezing bus, suddenly I found myself craving a milkshake. I HAD to have one immediately. So being the determined and sometimes not so patient person that I am I decided to create a healthier alternative then and there.

This recipe is dairy free but not vegan – if you are a vegan you can simply replace Nobó Chocolate and Toasted Almond flavour with either their Mint Humbug or Irish Salted Caramel flavour (the Mint Humbug was a limited edition product so it may be hard to find but last time I checked SuperValu in the Pavilions in Swords had some).

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Serving Size: 170ml

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp 100% Pure Maple Syrup
  • 2-3 large scoops of Nobó Chocolate and Toasted Almond
  • 2 tbsps Almond Butter
  • 80ml Coconut Milk – add more or less depending on the consistency you want. I find that 80ml is the best to start off with and if you want it to be thinner just add more milk.

To decorate:

  • 2-4 squares 92% Dark Chocolate, melted
  • A sprinkle of Cacao Nibs (optional)

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your toppings I just added these particular toppings because I was really craving chocolate!

Method:

  • Place a tall glass in the fridge while you prep the ‘mylk’shake, this will really give it a refreshing taste.
  • Place all the ingredients in a blender until it forms the consistency that you want.
  • Melt 2-4 squares of Dark Chocolate (70% or more) and pour on top then sprinkle some Cacao Nibs on top if you wish.

 

There you have it, a dairy free milk shake alternative with no refined sugar and packed with lots of superfoods. This recipe is so quick and simple to make and I hope you enjoy it, it really reminds me of summer. Also, don’t forget to share your recreations with me on Instagram using #nobomylkshake or by following and tagging me on your post (@neutralsandnutrition).

 

Tara