Banana and Coconut Muffins

I had one of those days. You know the kind of days that you loose everything goes wrong. It all started with me skipping my dinner the night before, I then woke up in the middle of the night starving so at 2 am I went to and had a mini feast. I then was too full to sleep so I lay in bed for ages.  After much tossing and turning I decided to open the window. This made set off the house alarm waking the whole family and causing a lot of shouting generally in my direction. I then woke up with a slight sinus infection which meant I couldn’t put my contacts in so I spent the whole day going around blind, as I hate my glasses. None of  my formulas  would work out in physics class and I had to sit alone in English at the top of the class.  My head heart the whole day and  piano after school I just couldn’t concentrate. The loud banging of the notes only made my head hurt even more. At home I couldn’t wrap my head around Pascals Triangle  for maths homework. After 12 attempts I finally finished my physics question. I popped two Panadol and continued on. I began quoting Dido “wondering why got out of bed at all”. I noticed the black banana in the fruit bowl and my spirit began to perk up, coconut and banana muffins I thought. What I love about these is the mixture tastes just as good raw plus bananas contain tryptophan that the body converts into serotonin. Bananas can make you relax, feel happier and improve your mood and the potassium improves brain power and makes you more alert which I am going to need to be in class if I want to master Pascals Triangle.

Banana and Coconut Muffins adapted from Rachel Allens fruity muffins

  • 2 eggs
  • 100ml of milk
  • 100ml of natural yogurt
  • 75ml of sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 225g of plain flour
  • 3 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp of baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 100g of wholemeal flour
  • 70g of brown sugar
  • 1 banana mashed
  • 50g of dessicated coconut

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line muffin tray with 12 cases.  Mix all the wet ingredients together including the banana. In another bowl sift the plain flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add the wholemeal flour, coconut and sugar. Fold into the wet ingredients. Be careful not to over mix. Divide the  mixture between the muffin cases. Cook for 20-25 minutes. The tops should spring back gently when cooked. Allow to stand in the tin for 102 minutes than transfer to a wire tray to cool. 

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“I’ll go tomorrow” Porridge

How do you start your mornings? In Spain I started my morning with this, a big bowl of cherries from the fruit shop next door to the apartment, and a crusty roll from the bakery two doors down. Then I went for a dip in the Sea in 20C water. I think it wold be a lot easier to get up everyday if I lived in Spain.

Back home in Ireland I usually start my day with a bowl of cereal or toast and whatever fruit is left in the bowl never very exciting.

Sometimes I go for a run ( only sometimes)

Other days I role over in bed and come up with some excuse and not even these will work. On the ” I’ll go for a long run tomorrow” mornings, I make myself this porridge so I feel good about myself. I find porridge is so wholesome it almost compensates for the run, or lack of it.

Porridge My Way 

I make porridge with pinhead oatmeal a.k.a  steel-cut oats a.k.a Irish oats. They take longer to cut but I prefer the texture. You could over course use rolled oats just follow the instructions on the packet. I cook it with all water but again thats just a preference use all milk or half and half for a creamier porridge. I make a big batch of pinhead oatmeal refrigerate it and then heat it up through out the week with a little water. 

Ingredients

One cup of steel cut oats

Four cups of water

Put the oats and water in a saucepan over the heat. Bring to the boil then simmer on a lower heat for 20-25 minutes. When the oats are creamy and tender, remove from heat . Serve immediately or allow to cool before transferring into air tight containers in the fridge. In the morning, add a splash of milk or water and reheat in the microwave or on the stove-top.

Toppings

For a little variety I like to serve my porrige with toppings here are some suggestions.

Nuts for Bananas porridge

1/2 a banana sliced.

4-5 almonds and hazelnuts (toasted)

3 tablespoons of toasted dessicated coconut

drizzle of maple syrup.

Arrange the slices of bananas on the porridge. Scatter over the nuts and coconut. Then drizzle with the syrup.

Blueberry Bliss porridge

1/2 cup of blueberries (frozen is okay)

1/2 cup of flaked almonds (toatsted)

drizzle of honey

Gently heat the blueberries over a low heat or microwave them for about 45-60 seconds. They should be soft but still hold their shape. Place on top of the porridge and scater over the flaked almonds. Drizzle with honey for sweetness.

Peach Melba Porridge

One peach sliced into wedges.

3-4 tablespoons of natural yogurt

4-5 raspberries

drizzle of honey

Place the yogurt in the center of the porridge. Then top with peaches and raspberries. Drizzle with honey

Apple Crumble Porridge

One apple chopped up

2-3 tablespoons of coconut

2 tablespoons of flaked almonds

1 table spoon of sunflower seeds

Fry the apple slices over a low heat with a little butter or oil to soften them. Toast the coconut, almonds and seeds until just golden. Arrange the softened apple on top of the porridge and scatter with nut topping.

Feel Good Chocolate Cake

I am leaving this rainy country for sunnier climate, I am off to Spain tomorrow. One week of Sunshine and beach… hopefully. Beach and sunshine also means bikini and my body hasn’t been so forgiving to the scones, cookies and cakes I have been filling it with. Before I go I would like to share this feel good chocolate cake. I spent a while coming up for a name for this cake, I didn’t want the word healthy in the title as that suggests some tasteless, dry chocolate cake, which this is not. It is decadent and fudgy cake almost like a brownie. The wholemeal flour adds a nutty flavour and the honey creates a light sticky sweetness. It is not a low fat, weightloss cake but more of a whole food cake you eat to feel good. Its decadent but you feel happy after eating it plus their is no sugar or white flour. Enjoy and adios por ahora!!

Feel Good Chocolate Cake

I created a new way for adding chocolate to the chocolate cake. I finely ground the chocolate in a food processor until it resembled powder almost like cocoa powder. It adds to the fudgyness of the cake. I also use wholemeal flour but feel free to subsitute it with all purpose flour,

45og of wholemeal flour

1 tablespoon of baking powder

3/4 tsp of salt

1/2 cup of oil

2 eggs

1 cup of honey

1 cup of yogurt/buttermilk

200g of chocolate powder (see above) or cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 170C degrees with a rack in the middle. Butter and flour an 20×20 square cake pan (I used a le crueset square stone dish 23cmx23).

Put the flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Mix the egg, honey and oil in a jug. Add the yogurt and mix. Then pour the wet ingredients into the flour. Then add the chocolate powder and mix well. Pour the batter into the prepared dish and place in the oven for 40-50 minutes. The cake will be fudgy and slightly sticky so the skewer test wont work .Leave to cool and make the chocolate cream to frost.

Chocolate Cream

1 cup of cream

150g of dark chocolate

80g of icing sugar (omit if not using very dark chocolate)

Melt the chocolate. Whip the cream to stiff peaks (but be careful you want it thick and creamy but you don’t want butter) Pour the chocolate over the cream and stir it in until all the chocolate is incorporated. Then fold in the sugar.Top the cooled cake with the chocolate frosting and spread evenly over top. Use a n offset spatula to create little swirls on the top.

Daddy’s Day Coffee Cake

Today is the day dedicated to Daddies all around the country, it’s a small way of saying thanks for all the wonderful things they do for us. Th

e first word of most children is Da Da or some variation of the paternal name. As we grow up we begin to use this title to help us deal wit

h our little daily distresses.

When the computer just shuts down I scream “Dad”

When the lawn has to be mowed “Dad”

When we need money to go out “Dad”

When a mouse can be heard scratching
in the walls “Dad”When somebody wakes up at four in the morning and gets sick all over the bed “Dad”

When helps is needed with maths “Dad”

When the rooms need repainting “Dad”

When a lift to match/training/rehearsals is needed “Dad”

Despite all the abuse my daddy receives living in a house with four girls he was perfectly happy to paint the bathroom when it needed painting and didn’t object to the chosen colour….. pink whisper. I think Daddy has accepted the fact he is outnumbered and will just set back and watch desperate housewives or rent the newest chick flick to watch. He is quiet conte

nt at the table as we discuss shoes, clothes, hair ect. He understands that hair clips/bands/bobbins can hurt when you are wearing a helmet playing camogie. Daddy has gotten used to the feminine life that surrounds himbut sometimes he needs a break when we go away he has a shoot ‘m up movie marathon and every day he sneaks away down to the local coffee shop for his daily intake of cappuccino. Daddy loves his coffee and that is why I am dedicating this recipe for Coffee Cake to my daddy who has driven me all over the country for matches, has sat threw my less than pleasant school concerts and will protect me from any harm in the future.

Coffee Cake adapted from BBC GoodFood 

1 tbsp coffee granules, plus 1 tsp

225g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

50g ground almonds

85g light muscovado sugar

50g golden caster sugar

eggs , beaten

250g natural yogurt

75ml walnut oil/canola oil/ sunflower oil

Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Oil and bottom-line a 25cm round (6cm deep) loose-bottom tin. For the cake, mix the coffee with 2 tsp warm water and set aside. Tip the flour into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the

baking powder, ground almonds, both sugars (use fingers to rub out any lumps from the muscovado)  then make a dip in the center. Put the eggs, yogurt, oil and coffee mix into the dip and stir the mixture with a wooden spoon so everything is evenly mixed. Spoon the mixture into the tin, smooth the top to level it, then bake for 40-45 mins, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the tin briefly, then turn it out and peel off the lining paper. Leave to cool completely before serving.

I like to serve this cake plain with a cuppa as a mid morning snack but if you want to serve it as as dessert it would be nice iced with a chocolate ganache or coffee butter cream. The original recipe uses a cream cheese filling which sounds really nice and a coffee fondant to top..

Bircher Muesli


Anybody who knows me knows I love breakfast. It is my favourite meal of the day. It is the only meal where it is acceptable to eat anything from Cake to sausages. Given my attatchment to the morning meal you can only imagine my excitement when I recently breakfasted at McNean house I had heard a lot about the breakfast and it didn’t fall short. One thing that I truly enjoyed was the Bircher Muesli. I am not a huge Muesli fan as I have voiced before but the Bircher muesli is a whole different ball game. I had heard about this type of muesli where the oats are soaked in milk and yogurt the night before but dared not make it for fear it would be soggy. Infact it wasn’t soggy at all it was extremly tasty and with just under 200 calories per serving it’s the perfect kick start to my detox weekend. Bircher muesli was first created by a 20th century physician to feed patients, althought it has been adapted to suite our modern taste, the idea remains the same.

Bircher-Style Muesli

adapted from the Jamie Magazine issue 26 February 12

This recipe is made the night before you wish to serve it. You can chop and change this recipe to suite your own personal change. I added fresh berries before eating it, instead of the dried fruit. Bananas, Kiwis, peaches and cubes of mango would aslo be rally nice in it.

makes 5 small servings

1 apple

1/2 a pear

1/2 a lemon

40ml of orange or apple juice

1/2 a small handful of dried fruit (optional)

1/2 a small handfull of nuts and seeds (optional) I used pumpkin, sunflower, almonds and pine nuts

250g of plain yogurt

50g of dessicated coconut

1 tbsp of honey

100ml of milk

Prepare the muesli a night in advance. Grate the apple and pear skin and all. Transfer to a bowl squeeze in the lemon juice add the orange juice. Roughly chop the dried fruit and nuts, add to the bowl. Add the yogurt and oats. Mix well to coat all the oats in the juice and yogurt. Stir in the honey. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge overnight. The next morning loosen with the milk . Serve in bowls with your cchoice of topping – honey, fresh or dried fruit, toasted nuts ect.  It will last 2 days covered in cling film in the fridge

The Best FroYo Sundae

Summer approaches and the weather is getting nicer… Who am I kidding I live in Ireland we already had our week of summer last March but the evenings are getting longer and their is a nicer summer breeze in the air.The sound of ice-cream vans ring around the town in the afternoons.  I was never a huge ’99 fan but their is something about them in the heat. The whipped ice-cream is filled with calories and saturated fat and their is always questions about the cleanliness of the machine it comes from. The above makes a lot of parents reluctant to give it to their kids. One cunning mother told her little boy that when the van plays music it means their is no ice-cream left. The poor innocent boy fell for his mothers  plan and evertime he heard the van he would say “Oh no, it has no ice-cream left”. Something relativly new to this side of the Atlantic is Frozen Yogurt. The ever so popular treat in America has just reached Irish shores within the last year with outlets such as Froberry opening up. Frozen Yogurt is simular to whipped ice-cream with less fat and caloires and hopefully more hygienic. I could eat it all day only problem is I can’t afford it. The healthy alternitive to ice-cream turns out also to be the expencive alternitive. After binge eating on not so healthy foods last week and with plans to do it again next week I deceided to begin my detox weekend with this Frozen Yogurt.

Mixed Berry Frozen Yogurt Sundae

This recipe is easy to make and a lot cheaper than the bought. The Yogurt can be frozen after making it but best eaten straight away. Don’t be afraid to experiment with whatever berries or frozen fruit you have. If you add more juice to the Fro Yo you it can be served as a berry smoothie mmmm….

makes two sundaes

for the yogurt

100ml of orange juice

one banana

3/4 cup of frozen raspberries

1/2 cup of frozen strawberries (slightly softened depending on the strength of your blender)

1/2 cup of frozen bluebererries

150ml of natural yogurt ( I always use Glenisk I don’t think any other natural yogurt compares to it but use the best you can afford)

for the sundae

200ml of  natural yogurt yogurt100

100ml of melted frozen berries

berries to top it

To make the yogurt put the juice, then yogurt, then banana then berries in the blender and blend to form a smooth creamy consistency.

Get your serving glass and put 100ml of natural yogurt in the bottem. Next layer the melted berries and finish with tree scoops of the Fro Yo. Top with the berries and whatevery garnishes take your fancy.

Enjoy