Happy Birthday to us! Kale & Cocoa is a year old today and we’d like to thank our 1000 followers for all their support. You’ve made all the hard work worthwhile! But our first birthday has got me thinking. During the last twelve months, we’ve immersed ourselves in hundreds of research reports, medical studies, blogs, books and websites on longevity, nutrition and ageing. But which were the standout reports? The ones that changed the way we feed our families on a daily basis? On our anniversary I thought I’d summarise what I do differently now…
- Coconut oil – I now use this wherever I can (it doesn’t always work so it’s been a bit of trial and error but it’s great for baking, pancakes and curries).
- Sugar – going, going, almost gone from my kitchen. Replaced with honey (dark and raw where possible) or maple syrup and, occasionally, xylitol (we’ve thrown out the Stevia – its horrible taste was too much for my kids).
- Vitamin D supplements (400mg for six months of the year). I don’t like supplements, I don’t do supplements – but the evidence for Vitamin D was compelling.
- Fish, fish and more fish (mainly oily) – we’ve cut right back on meat and, particularly, red meat. Meat is now a weekend thing in our house (mostly). Bacon, salami and ham are special treats!
- Green tea and coffee have replaced regular tea. And yes, my memory is better!
- Green, leafy vegetables – more, more and more again. I’m aiming for two portions a day. My garden is full of chard and I buy watercress whenever I see it.
- Veggies – you can never have enough. I’m trying to get 3 portions in at supper, 2 at lunch and 1 at breakfast. It’s getting easier … but it’s still a Work in Progress.
- Nuts and seeds wherever possible – in soups, salads, cakes, cookies, puddings, smoothies…Grind a handful and chuck ‘em in. Milled chia seeds are my Number One.
- Wholegrains, wholegrains, wholegrains – I don’t buy white pasta, rice or flour now (although I still like proper white sourdough – which I buy for the probiotics (ahem!). Oh – and my cupboard is full of freekah these days!
- Feed your gut – probiotics and prebiotics – I’m buying and eating many more leeks, Jerusalem artichokes and bananas and eating full-fat yogurt whenever possible. And speaking of full-fat, anything fat-free has been expurgated from my larder.
- Exercise – the more I read, the more I know exercise is essential. It doesn’t have to be hardcore. Just dump the car and walk briskly for 20 minutes. A recent report from Cambridge University showed that 20 minutes of fast walking a day reduced the risk of death by 16-30% … Yes please to that!
We’re still eating plenty of berries and pulses but we’re eating fewer potatoes (and trying to keep them organic in their skins). And Husband and I still enjoy guilt-free red wine and very dark chocolate. You can scroll back through the blog to find our posts on all the above.
The upside of all this has been good – I only had one teeny-weeny cold this year (my kids had none!), my hair is thicker and I have more energy. But there have been some downsides. My dishwasher is going permanently – all this chopping of veggies and smoothing of smoothies makes for a lot of washing up! And my weekly food bill has gone up.
It’s exam time in our house. And with two hungry daughters on study leave, I’m up to my eyes in healthy snacks. So this week’s recipe is a cookie recipe with endless flavour options to stop teen boredom setting in… So play around, use whatever you have – and make it your own!
FRUIT AND OAT COOKIES
- 110g softened salted butter (we still prefer butter to coconut oil in these cookies)
- 100g runny honey (or brown sugar if you must). Increase this if you prefer sweeter.
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 100 g wholemeal self-raising flour
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 150 g rolled oats
- 100g raisins/chopped dried apricots/dried cherries/dates
OPTIONAL: 80g chopped walnuts/sunflower seeds/chopped almonds (nut/seed of your choice)
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C.
Cream the butter, honey, egg and vanilla. Mix in the flour, cinnamon, oats, dried fruit and, if using, nuts, and stir well to combine. This is a sticky mix but don’t be afraid to get your hands in to ensure everything is well mixed.
Put in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Using your hands (or an ice cream scoop), make small balls and flatten them slightly to get a cookie shape. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets.
Cook for 12-15 minutes, or until golden at the edges but still a little soft inside. Leave them for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.