Comfort Eating, Uni Stress and Joe Wicks’ Blueberry Oat Muffins Recipe

Gluten Free, Sweet Treats

During exam season I find it really hard to watch what I eat. With the lack of sleep, constantly whirring mind, and a room covered in cue cards and revision notes, comfort eating really seems to be a common coping mechanism for myself, and no doubt, others in the same position. When trying to remember module upon module, key words, diagrams and theories, the last thing I want to be doing is taking time to make salads, vegetables and balanced meals. I need carbs, and bread (gf of course), and sweets and energy and salty snacks.

As much as I crave these naughty treats and “cheat meals”, that inevitably turn into cheats days, and even weeks, eating healthily is so important for our brains, especially when we are under exam/uni stress. With this in mind, I thought I would share some of my eating tips, before giving you a yummy, and mostly healthy, recipe.

  • Plan, plan, plan…Having a meal plan for the week is so useful. Not only does it help when doing a food shop, but I always feel so guilty if I waste food, so sticking to the plan prevents this. You also know that you are getting the right nutrients for your body, and, more importantly, your brain.
  • Eat at appropriate timesWith late nights, and sometimes even all-nighters, it can be so easy to lose track of meal times. Ensuring you eat to a reasonable schedule will mean you shouldn’t get super hungry and start craving naughty treats. Having meal times also gives you revision structure, set goals for completion before lunch and dinner, keeping you on track.
  • Stay hydratedWater is so important for your body, brain, skin and countless other things, but it also acts as a way to help stay full. Boredom strikes so often, and it is really hard to determine whether you are hungry… or whether your textbook is just sending your mind wandering to other things (food!). Mixing fruit into your water makes it a bit more exciting too.
  • Reward yourselfEating well, focussing on good grades and keeping up with housework, work or friends is so hard to balance. It really is ok to have a treat now and then, as long as you don’t do it excessively. A chocolate bar here or there, a sugary coffee, some tangy sweets, whatever your body is wanting, the chances are it wants it for a reason. If you are really, really tempted to get a pizza, pick a set day and have that as pizza day, something to help break up your work.
  • SnacksIt can be all too easy to grab a packet of crisps to munch on whilst you work, or a brownie from the coffee shop at uni. However, if you pre-prepare snacks then you will never need to spend that extra money. Unsalted nuts, like almonds and cashews are a really good source of energy, as is fruit with its natural sugars. However, if overeaten, both of these can end up being naughty treats too. Everything in moderation!
  • Find things that make you happy (Not a food tip, but a life tip)I find that I get so bogged down by grades, test scores and essay answers, that a lot of the time, I forget to have fun. I forget I am the other side of the world, in a completely new place, with so many opportunities around me. Getting fresh air is so important to clear your mind, de-stress and it also brings you firmly back to earth. Take time to do things YOU enjoy!

I hope some of these might be slightly useful, but if not, I have a delicious recipe to share too.

I have chosen this Joe Wicks recipe because it is so simple, tasty and low cost. I must admit, I didn’t come across this recipe msyelf, it was actually made for me by Soph earlier in the year, and ever since, it keeps popping back into my mind- I just had to make it for myself.

The ingredients are:

Ingredients

Ingredients!

  • 2 Bananas (mashed)
  • 125g Blueberries
  • 2 Eggs (Whisked)
  • 180g Porridge oats
  • 2tsp Vanilla extract
  • 2tsp Baking soda
  • Dark chocolate chunks (Ok, so this isn’t in the original recipe, but… who doesn’t like chocolate?!)

This is a recipe for muffins, however, I do not have a muffin tray, so I used a roasting tin, and built a little barrier with foil so it only filled half.

There is only one step to this recipe once all your ingredients are prepped, and it is to mix everything together in one big bowl. Simple as that!

The oven was heated to 190 degrees, and once I had transferred it into the baking tin, it took 19 minutes to cook. I thought 19 minutes was a bit pedantic when I first saw the recipe, but it really does cook perfectly in this time, however, one minute extra can’t hurt either I’m sure.

Once cooled- if you can wait that long- the muffins/tray bake will be ready to eat. The fruit is part of your 5 a day, and the oats have slow release energy, making this a perfect morning snack. Or, for that matter, afternoon snack, midnight snack, breakfast snack, or any time of the day! They are also really easy to reheat in the microwave, which makes the chocolate go gooey again.

Enjoy, and good luck! x

Raspberry and White Chocolate Gluten Free Cheesecake

Gluten Free, Sweet Treats

I have taken a little break from cooking and blogging over the past couple of months, mainly because of exams, but also because I have recently become gluten free, due to my IBS. As someone who loves bread, cake, pasta and basically all things gluten, this has been hard, and I have found it challenging to get inspired and cook new things. Before I move to Australia I have been working my way through meals and dishes I must eat before I go. I have already been treated to sausage, rice and peas and a lovely GF orange polenta cake courtesy of Mum- now it is my turn to treat myself.

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Ingredients

Today, in the midst of packing, I chose to take some time to make a white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake. As usual, I partially followed a recipe which I will link below, my ingredients were:

  • 200g GF biscuits (I chose hobnobs and Tesco finest dark chocolate and ginger)
  • 50g Unsalted butter
  • 200g White chocolate
  • 200ml Double cream
  • 200g Soft cheese (full fat)
  • 150g Mascarpone
  • 1 Handful raspberries

(I didn’t end up using the icing sugar, see how it is used as a topping in the link below. Also non gluten free biscuits can be used too)

I started off by preparing the biscuits. Sealing the biscuits in a freezer bag I used a big rolling pin to crush them into crumbs. I kept some of the pieces slightly chunkier just to add another texture when its ready to be eaten, rather than a really fine base. The use of dark chocolate biscuits works well as a bitter touch to the sweet white chocolate and cream cheese filling. Once the biscuits were crumbled I added them, along with 50g of melted butter, into a bowl and gave it a good mix. The butter acts as a binding agent so it needs to be mixed in really well.

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Crumbled GF biscuits

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Base!

I pressed the biscuit mix into a non-stick springform tin, using a spoon and my hands. It’s useful to get your hands a bit messy just to ensure there’s an even layer pressed firmly down into the bottom of the tin. It was then time to work on the creamy filling, so I put the tin in the fridge to chill.

I started off by melting the white chocolate in the microwave. I was very lucky as my lovely Mum bought me the ingredients yesterday, so I was able to use Green and Blacks chocolate. It is so creamy and rich and perfect as a sweet touch in the sour cream cheese. I gave it bursts in the microwave for about 5 minutes, keeping a careful eye on it. Melting choc in a microwave can be a bit risky; if it catches, or burns, the chocolate will be bitter and ruined. An alternative method is placing the bowl of chocolate over a saucepan of boiling water.

Whilst the white choc was melting I began making the cheese mixture. This was really easy, like the rest of the recipe actually. With a wooden spoon I mixed the cream cheese, mascarpone and double cream. It is important not to beat the mixture too much as it will become too stiff and mixing in the chocolate will be a challenge. Once the chocolate was melted it was combined into the cream cheese mixture. At this point the cheese did become slightly lumpy but I used the wooden spoon to smooth it out- easy.

I removed the tin from the fridge and began spooning in the chocolate cream cheese mixture, slowly, ensuring it was even. In between spoonful’s I dropped in a few raspberries and ensured that the mixture was once again smooth. Once I had used all of the mixture I halved a few more raspberries to decorate the cheesecake.

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Not perfect- but tasty!

Finally, the cheesecake was ready to be chilled again. The only issue I had is that I couldn’t eat it straight away! It is supposed to take between 3-4 hours in total to chill the mixture, however the recipe does recommend leaving it overnight- I knew I wouldn’t be able to wait this long! I waited around 4 hours, and as the pic shows, my slice was a little messy, just because it needed a bit more chilling. So, once again, it is back in the fridge. The slither I had was delicious! I really recommend GF Hobnobs too for people who can’t eat gluten/wheat!

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mmmmmm!

Unlike my normal cooking this wasn’t something I tried to make on a student budget, 1) because I am treating myself 2) my mum bought me the ingredients. On the website I used it states you can buy all of the ingredients from around £1 per serving (10 portions). I have added the link below give it a go…

https://www.olivemagazine.com/recipes/baking-and-desserts/eton-mess-cheesecake/

Hot Cross Bun Bread and Butter Pudding!

Sweet Treats

Does anything scream Easter more than hot cross buns, and, in this weather, what’s more needed than a big warm wintery pudding? With this in mind, this morning, I made hot cross bun bread and butter pudding for our belated family Easter lunch.

I would love to claim that this was completely my idea, however it was actually an Asda Living recipe that I received via email the other day, and instantly I was excited to make it (I will add the link at the bottom).

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Ingredients!

The recipe itself was really simple, and you know I love a simple recipe. The ingredients were:

  • Unsalted butter
  • Granulated sugar
  • 320ml Milk
  • 1tsp Vanilla extract
  • Ground nutmeg (I didn’t measure it… oops)
  • Custard for serving

As I usually end up doing, I didn’t really measure my ingredients, aside from the milk, and chucked things in by eye. It all turned out great so there must be method to my madness.

I started off by greasing my dish with unsalted butter and then began to slice the buns ready for layering. I sliced the buns horizontally into three separate pieces and used the remaining butter to spread on each slice. The recipe didn’t specify whether you were supposed to butter one or both sides, I chose to just cover the one side.

Once covered with a healthy portion of butter, I began to assemble the pudding. After finishing the first layer I sprinkled over a light covering of granulated sugar and repeated. I only got three layers from my hot cross buns, and even though this didn’t look like enough, it really expanded during cooking!

Now it was time to make the milky sweet topping. I lightly beat the eggs, milk, vanilla and grated nutmeg. I only opted for grated because it is all we had in the cupboard, but obviously if you have pre-ground you can use that too. I love nutmeg, but you can add as much or as little as you desire.

I think using cinnamon or even ginger would also be a tasty variation. I have also heard about people using chocolate croissants instead of bread/hot cross buns, but that will have to wait for another occasion!

Once the mixture was combined in a jug I carefully poured it into the casserole dish, ensuring I covered every slice of hot cross bun. Lightly I pressed down the layers to absorb all of the custard-like liquid. This will act as a binding agent, as well as making the bread puff up.

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Ready for the oven!

The last step was another sprinkle of sugar, and after this was complete, I set the dish aside for 20 minutes to ensure the liquid had soaked up and the sugar had melted into the buns. The sugar on top will give the pudding a lovely crust once cooked.

After the sitting time was up I placed the dish in the oven, which was preheated to 180 degrees and left it to cook for 35-40 mins. The hot cross buns really puffed up and filled the whole dish, forming a lovely crispy top, I wanted to eat it right then and there!!

As I prepped this before lunch I then left it on the side to keep cooking in its own heat until our Easter pork had finished cooking in the oven. After this I covered the pudding with foil and placed it back into the oven to re-heat ready for serving!

As I am at home the ingredients used were mainly from Waitrose, which is a HUGE treat for me, however this could be done with ingredients from any other supermarket and I am sure would taste just as good.

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Baked to perfection!

The recipes states it serves 10, however I am sure this depends on everyone’s appetites after a big Sunday roast or, in our case, and easter feast. As I was quite stuffed with pork, cauliflower cheese and veggies I did manage a little portion, and it meant we could send our guests home with some sweet leftovers!

Although when it came to eating the pudding it had sunk a bit, the flavours were still great. The nutmeg added a slight spice to the sweet creamy mixture. Maybe if you eat it straight away it would stay fluffy and light. Even so, with a big dollop of cold custard it tasted amazing!

Happy Easter!

LINK: https://www.asdagoodliving.co.uk/food/recipes/hot-cross-bun-bread-and-butter-pudding

 

Chocolate Easter Nests!

Sweet Treats, Uncategorized

This is such a simple, but tasty, recipe that can be done by anyone, of any age, at a really low cost!

There are so many variations of this recipe online, but I followed a BBC GoodFood recipe that I will link at the bottom. I used double the ingredients as I had lots of hungry colleagues and friends to feed.

After heading to the shops to buy my ingredients, I had managed to pick up everything from either Aldi or Co-op… or so I thought. It wasn’t until I got back home that I realised I had forgotten the most important ingredient of all. THE CEREAL?! I really need to practice what I preach and ALWAYS have a shopping list, but even without one, how did I manage to forget cereal, the main ingredient?? Anyway, I had to improvise a bit, and made my Easter nests with Weetabix I had at home.

276aD4msQhO2tphkbKmG2wThe great thing about this recipe is that it can be done with basically every cereal you can think of, as long as it is combined by the chocolate and golden syrup it will taste delicious.

My ingredients and measurements were:

  • 100g Unsalted butter
  • 100g Milk chocolate
  • 100g Dark chocolate
  • 6tbsp Golden syrup
  • 8 Full size Weetabix (150g if you are using other cereal)

Extras:

  • 16/18 Bun cases (depending on size)
  • Mini eggs (optional)

So, to start off the cakes I roughly broke up the milk and dark chocolate into a microwaveable bowl. I like to use both types of chocolate to get a rich flavour, and the golden syrup adds a lot of sweetness too, so the dark chocolate balances it out.

Q4OJMaPsRY6q2dl22WeJKwTo the chocolate I then added the butter and golden syrup. I melted the ingredients in the microwave, heating for about 30 seconds, removing and stirring, and then returning to the microwave until melted. It is very important that the chocolate doesn’t burn, which can be done very easily in the microwave- I know from experience.

After a couple of minutes my chocolate mix was glossy and runny. I then left this to cool for a few minutes.

In another large bowl I crushed my Weetabix ensuring all the large pieces had broken up, ready to combine with the chocolate, golden syrup and butter.

I poured the chocolate onto my cereal and began to mix together. The golden syrup acts as a binding agent so the mixture becomes quite sticky and a bit tricky to stir, so if you are making this with little ones, they might need a hand.

In my baking trays I placed my easter bun cases. I managed to get these from Poundland and they were perfect. The cases were yellow and pink and covered in eggs and bunnies, and also came with some little bunny cake toppers that I will use another time.

Carefully I spooned the sticky, chocolatey cereal into the bun cases, sharing the mixture out equally.

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Ready for the fridge!

Finally to turn these cereal cakes into Easter nests I needed to add some eggs! I chose mini eggs, however any chocolates would work well. I placed these on before putting them into the fridge as to let them set into the cereal cakes.

dy0jszchrogn9mjunc2sjg.jpgNow it was time to put them into the fridge. The only problem with this recipe is that you can’t eat them straight away… although if there’s some left in the bowl it is very yummy.

I left them in the fridge for about 3/4 hours, however they can also be left over night. I like mine a bit gooey when I eat them, so by the time I got to work they had softened nicely. They were great for sharing, and some of my work pals had never tried them before, so I was excited to share this easter treat!

Recipe: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2451649/cooking-with-kids-chocolate-cornflake-cakes-