Category Archives for feel good food

Pancake power!

pancake-power

Pancakes have long been a favourite breakfast in our house. Once the preserve of lazy weekends and holidays, they’re now a more regular feature.

I have one of these pancake makers and it is without doubt my favourite gadget (although my new found love of pressure washing means it’s no longer a one horse race!) and I don’t even bother putting it back in the cupboard anymore.

The types of pancakes I make these days has changed along with my eating habits. Gone are the french crepes (mine always slightly rubbery!) and the fluffy Scottish pancakes I ate bucketloads of as a child courtesy of my gran, and in are these healthier alternatives. I think they are pretty delicious and they are really easy to make. Once you have the basics you can try any combination of ingredients and flavours. The amounts given are approximate – I usually just chuck it all in, adjusting the amount of milk to get the right consistency.

Of course, the toppings you choose can influence how ‘healthy’ these pancakes are. My staple is berries and yoghurt, but you can add maple syrup or honey, bacon, peanut butter if you like. I almost always add a sprinkling of cinnamon t00 – it makes them taste sweeter I think without adding any sugar and cinnamon has been shown to possibly have some health benefits.

1.Family pancakes

These are the ones that the rest of the family are most likely to eat happily. They’re a good transition from white flour/sugar etc to a healthier alternative. The ‘jam’ in this picture is made from frozen raspberries heated with a teaspoon of water and honey.

family-pancakes

Why they are good for your brain (and body!)
Oats are full of great stuff, as I mentioned in the last ‘overnight oats’ post. Their magnesium in particular is great for your brain and has been shown to have a positive impact on symptoms of depression. They also contain plenty of fibre to prevent any peaks and troughs in your blood sugar levels, calcium, iron, phosphorus, folic acid.

Eggs are great for protein, so I usually add another egg than you might otherwise need. Combined with the oats above, they really will help to keep your blood sugar (and your mood) stable throughout the morning. Eggs are a ‘complete’ source of protein as they contain all eight essential amino acids that we need to get from our diet. They also contain B vitamins which can slow cognitive decline (especially when combined with Omega 3s – see the protein power pancakes below!) and selenium, low levels of which studies suggest may be associated with reduced cognitive function. They also pack in vitamins A, D, E and K and a host of minerals like zinc, iron and copper. So, eggs really are a great food to eat anytime!

Ingredients:
About a cup’s worth of porridge oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
A glug of your choice of milk (if needed – I usually use almond, but whatever I have in the fridge)
coconut oil (if needed)

Directions: 

  • Whizz the oats and baking powder on high in a food processor until it resembled a flour.
  • Add the eggs and whizz again.
  • Add enough milk to make a thick dropping batter.
  • Heat up your pan and brush with coconut oil (unless it’s non-stick or you pancake pan then you probably don’t need it).
  • Dollop or pour out the batter into rough circles.
  • Wait until you see some bubbles on the surface and flip it over then cook for another minute or so.
  • Stack them up and serve with whatever you like (cinnamon, maple syrup/honey, bacon, berries, bananas, yoghurt etc). Nom!

2. Protein power pancakes

So these are a bit more hardcore, but still delicious I think! These are the pancakes I eat most often and they’re particularly great after I’ve been to the gym as they contain extra protein to help build my muscles! They are denser than the previous pancakes but so good for you!

protein-pancakes

Why they are good for your brain (and body!)
The base is the same as the pancakes above, so all the goodness still applies, but you get even more with these ones!

  • Flax seeds are a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids – great for your heart and brain. They are also a great source of fibre, protein and iron, so all in all they make a great addition.
  • Bananas are good source of potassium, which has been shown to be important for brain function. They also contain tryptophan, an essential amino acid from which serotonin (the happy hormone!) is made and which some argue helps promote sleep. Bananas also contain vitamin c, beta carotene, vitamin K and vitamin B6, so they’re definitely worth adding and they add a little sweetness too. I often leave the banana out though and they still are lovely.
  • Hemp protein is a high fibre, plant-based alternative to whey (milk) based protein base powders extolled by fitness buffs. It adds an extra protein to the pancakes and is easily digestible.
  • Maca powder is a Peruvian root (like an Andes radish) and is thought to have energy giving properties similar to ginseng. Although as with many such roots and ‘superfoods’, there is not a huge amount of scientific evidence, so make your own decisions about whether you want to bother! I add it to pancakes and smoothies and protein balls (another post!) as it tastes a bit malted and does seem to give me a little bit more energy. It’s supposed to be good for your libido too apparently 😉

Ingredients:
A mugful of oats
a tablespoon of ground flax seeds
1/2 scoop of hemp protein powder
1/2 scoop maca powder (optional)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1 banana (optional)
A swig of milk (if needed)
coconut oil (if needed)

Directions: 

  • Whizz the oats, flax seeds and powders on high in a food processor until it resembled a flour.
  • Add the eggs and banana (if using) and whizz again.
  • Add enough milk to make a thick dropping batter (if needed)
  • Heat up your pan and brush with coconut oil (unless it’s non-stick or you pancake pan then you probably don’t need it).
  • Dollop or pour out the batter into rough circles.
  • Wait until you see some bubbles on the surface and flip it over then cook for another minute or so.
  • Stack them up, add your toppings and enjoy!

3. Chocolatey(ish) pancakes

So these are pancakes use the basic mix but with a chocolatey twist. The cacao is not as sweet as cocoa powder and don’t expect them to taste of sugar-filled chocolate, but the raw form of cacao is bursting with health benefits. I love them with a load of berries, a drizzle of honey and yoghurt sprinkled with cinnamon.

chocolate-pancakes

Why they are good for your brain (and body!)
Cacao is the star of the show here (you get all the other benefits of the ingredients listed above plus this superpower!). It is a fantastic source of magnesium which promotes a healthy brain and nervous system. It also contains iron, potassium, copper, zinc, manganese and selenium. B1, 2, 3, 5, 9, C, E to name but a few! 
The famed flavonoids that cacao contains have shown promise in some studies of reducing the risk of alzheimer’s disease.  Cacao also contains Phenylethylamine (PEA), though to be responsible for why we reach for chocolate to boost our mood (and possibly it’s association with love!). Studies have linked PEA to a decrease in depression and ADHD, so it’s no wonder these pancakes put me in a good mood in the morning! Even I find them a little bitter, so you may need to get out the maple syrup or honey for these ones !

1 mug of flour (you can use oats as above, or coconut or buckwheat or a combination)
1-2 tablespoons of cacao depending on how chocolatey you like them
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1 banana (optional)
A swig of milk (you’ll need more if you use coconut flour)
coconut oil (maybe)

Directions: 

  • If using, whizz the oats on high in a food processor until it resembled a flour, or add the flour(s) you’re using into the food processor.
  • Add the cacao, baking powder, eggs and banana (if using) and whizz again.
  • Add enough milk to make a thick dropping batter.
  • Heat up your pan and brush with coconut oil (unless it’s non-stick or you pancake pan then you probably don’t need it).
  • Dollop or pour out the batter into rough circles.
  • Wait until you see some bubbles on the surface and flip it over then cook for another minute or so.
  • Stack them up and serve with whatever you (and maybe your gang) fancy (cinnamon, maple syrup/honey, bacon, berries, bananas, yoghurt etc). Nom!

If you want to have extra fluff, you can separate the eggs, whisk up the egg whites and then fold them in at the end. I can rarely be bothered though!

So there you go, pancakes 3 different ways to get you going with pancake power! Do let me know if you try them and meanwhile I’m off to try to perfect my own matcha pancakes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Feel Good Food Breakfasts: Overnight Berry & Seed Oats

feel-good-breakfasts-oats-

A few people have asked me to write some posts about food, so I thought I’d share a series of ideas for breakfasts as a start. I’ve been posting my breakfasts on Instagram too recently if you’re interested – I’m doing a little experiment to see if this makes me eat more mindfully as a recent study suggests!

I love having a good breakfast – it’s a great start to the day. The breakfasts I’ll share are all pretty quick and easy to prepare and, most importantly, are good for your brain (and body!). Good mood food at it’s best! First up today is one of my favourites for this time of the year; a super-quick summery delight that’s great on the go…

Overnight Seed, Berry and Coconut oats

This is a lovely start to the day and particularly good if you know you’ll be in a rush in the morning but want something decent to fill you up, or take with you to work.

good-mood-food-overnight-coconut-seed-berry-oats

Why this breakfast is good for your brain (and body!)

Getting your oats is very good for you! Oats are a slow-release carb and their soluble fibre helps prevent any peaks and troughs in blood sugar which can play havoc with your concentration, mood and energy levels.  They also contain magnesium which has been shown to have a positive impact on symptoms of depression.

Chia seeds are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids which play a vital role in brain function. They also contain protein, slow-release carbs and many vitamins and minerals (magnesium, zinc, iron to name 3) which are good for your brain. Flax seeds are also a rich source of those Omega-3s and some studies suggest may help to alleviate the symptoms of depression, so sprinkling some of these on is a good choice.

Sunflower and pumpkin seeds contain loads of vitamins and minerals that your brain and body love. Both are great sources of magnesium and sunflower seeds also contain vitamin E and selenium which studies suggest may help to prevent cognitive decline. Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc which is important for memory function and contain plenty of B vitamins and tryptophan, which is the precurser to the ‘happy hormone’ serotonin.

Coconut is very high in fibre, vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6 and multiple minerals including iron, selenium, calcium and  magnesium. Adding some flesh (dessicated coconut in this case) and also the milk gives some really good health benefits and also makes these taste creamy and pretty darn delicious. If you don’t like it, just leave it out and use almond milk, or another milk of your choice instead.

Berries
Berries are great for adding sweetness and they are filled with antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals. Some studies suggest there are specific cognitive benefits of berries too, possibly preventing cognitive and motor decline related to age and this study found eating blueberries may reverse memory loss.

So, here’s how to make this great breakfast – it takes about 5 minutes in the evening.

1. Take a cereal bowl (or a jar if you need them on the move) and add some oats to the bottom of the bowl.

2. Then a mixture of seeds on top. I usually use some combination of chia seeds, desiccated coconut, ground flax seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds – whatever I have in my jars.

3. Add some cinnamon, whatever berries you have (I usually use a mix of blueberries, raspberries and strawberries), a good lug of coconut milk (or your choice). If you like, you could add a drizzle of honey or maple syrup too.

4. Give it all a stir, cover and leave in the fridge overnight.

5. In the morning all you need to do it take them out, put them in a posh glass dish if you like, add some more berries on the top if you like and a spoonful of bio yoghurt (I usually use homemade coconut) if you like. Seriously yum!

feel-good-breakfasts-oats-from-above

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tip: I often use frozen berries as they tend to be cheaper and last longer. Just stir them in and by morning they’ve defrosted to a delicious mush in your oats.

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