A Mini-Session: Teen Portraits in the Park

Two brothers. The end of summer. The fields. Windsor Great park. A setting sun. It doesn’t get much better than this…

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Food on Friday: Orange Coconut Date Truffles

healthy-coconut-date-trufflesThis is my very first gluten-free Christmas. Yes, last year, I made a few gluten-free treats for Phoebe. But MY Christmas had all of the traditional Christmas cookies, turkey stuffing, Christmas pudding and (my favourite) mince pies.

At first I was a bit daunted at the thought of my favourite traditional holiday without all of the traditional food. But I have started to discover a whole world of new food that is absolutely delicious. Here’s to starting new traditions…one recipe at a time.

Orange Coconut Date Truffles

Healthy, great for gift-giving and very simple to make. Enjoy!

20 dates – chopped and soaked in boiling water for 2 minutes

1 cup dried coconut

3/4 cup ground almonds

1Tablespoon melted coconut oil

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

zest of 1 orange

3 Tablespoons chia seeds

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine everything but the dates in a bowl. Mix together well. Briefly process the dates in a blender or food processor until sticky. Add dates to the bowl and mix well. Everything will stick together. Form into small balls. Store in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

recipe-Orange-coconut-date-balls

orange-coconut-date-ballsAnd speaking of traditions….Rudy, our elf is back doing his job…reporting nightly into Santa and cheekily getting himself into all sorts of crazy places during the day. Here are just a few of his recent resting places:

marlow-portrait-photographer windsor-portrait-photographer virginia-water-portrait-photographer sunningdale-portrait-photographer henley-portrait-photographer ascot-portrait-photographer

 

Food on Friday: Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

You may have noticed, it’s been a few Friday’s since I’ve shared something from our kitchen. I’ve been wonderfully (and crazily) busy with lots of photo shoots. I can’t wait to share those with you…but now, it is time for a snack.

pumpkin-cranberry-muffins

Next week is American Thanksgiving and these muffins fit this holiday perfectly. They are so healthy, I would eat them for breakfast. Or they are perfect for snack.

PUMPKIN CRANBERRY MUFFINS

Paleo, very low sugar, gluten & wheat free, dairy free. Yummy and moist too. :)

makes 12

2/3 cup mashed pumpkin (or butternut squash)

1/4 cup grated carrot (I used the carrot remains from my morning juice)

1 banana

6 eggs

2 teaspoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons of chia gel (chia seeds soaked in water)

1/2 cup melted coconut oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup + 2 teaspoons coconut flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1 cup cranberries (fresh or frozen) (and perhaps extra for sprinkling on top)

Blend all the wet ingredients (except for the cranberries) together in your mixer. Whisk all the dry ingredients together to break up any lumps. Mix the wet and the dry ingredients together. Add the cranberries.  Spoon into a muffin tin lined muffin papers. Bake at 170 C / 350 F for 30-35 minutes.

Today was the November fayre at Phoebe’s school. I made these and took one in for her. Kids were everywhere eating chocolate Santas and licking huge colourful lollipops. Phoebe never glanced their way. In fact, I had to stop her from eating the paper casing!

If you try these, let me know what you think.

 

Food on Friday: Getting Sick. Staying Well.

Food on Friday…It’s been one of those days. You know…the kind where all sorts of things happen and it feels like the world is trying to tell you something? Trying to point you at something that you are just not seeing? Where, if only you could shift perspective, everything would appear to be something entirely different? That was my day today. :)

Speaking of shifting things…a friend called me this week to ask to do when she started to feel unwell. She was feeling sniffly but had a big weekend planned.

So here you go. The Top Ten Things I do if I start to feel under the weather…

1. Warm water with lemon. 1/2 a lemon in a large mug of warm water. This has become my morning ritual. I up the frequency when I start to get sick.

2. Fresh Ginger. Juice it. Or add it, sliced thinly, to the warm water with lemon (above). Or make a tea of just thinly sliced ginger. All sorts of health benefits: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=72

3. Raw Garlic. Yep, this has to be raw, I’m afraid. And even worse, it needs to be crushed to release the allicin. But garlic is nature’s antibiotic. And whenever I’m in need, I mince a clove, cover it in manuka honey and swallow the whole thing down as quickly as possible. (Also good to ward off the vampires!)

4. Speaking of…Manuka Honey. Also a natural antibiotic, good quality Manuka honey is expensive, but worth it. Whenever I get sick, I like to add this to my tea or use with garlic as above.

5. Cayenne. Yet another natural antibiotic. Add this to the warm water and lemon, perhaps with a dash of honey. Or make a spicy meal.

6. Stop Dairy. Sadly, dairy causes congestion. Now that I don’t eat dairy regularly, I’m amazed at how congested I feel the morning after I have some. And so if your body is fight a cold and congestion, eating dairy will only make things worse.

7. Cut out sugar. All sugar. Not just the white powder, but fruit and especially fruit juices (i.e.. orange juice!) Sugar suppresses the immune system and makes it harder for your body to do what it must do to make you well.

8. Cut out the caffeine.  Same issue with caffeine and the immune system.

9. No alcohol. And yet the same issue again.  Alcohol also suppresses the immune system.

10. Eat lean. Lean protein, steamed vegetables. Some lemon juice drizzled on top. Homemade chicken soup. All these are great to eat and will support your body in getting better.

and…11. Sleeeepppp.….

Here’s to a healthy weekend!

 

Food on Friday: School Lunch

Before…I always thought school lunches and sandwiches went together like…peas and carrots. After all, that’s what I carried to school every day for all of my childhood life.  I’m sure you did too.

But if you are wheat-free, gluten-free and potato free, sandwiches are no longer an option. (Most gluten-free breads rely on potato to hold things together…) And so what do I make Phoebe for lunch each day? Salads!

Since Phoebe is also on a primarily cooked diet, our salads are a bit different than the norm. But they are amazingly yummy and easy to do. Her teachers always say how delicious her food looks.

I rely on my steamer and a combination of vegetable that changes with each salad.  My method is similar for each:

gluten-free-lunch

 

Squash, Courgette and Broccoli Salad

2-3 slices of pumpkin or squash

1/2 courgette, sliced

1/2 head of broccoli broken into ‘trees’ (For this I actually used Romanesco…a light green cross between cauliflower and broccoli. However, I know this isn’t easy to find in the US. Broccoli or cauliflower would work just as well.)

Olive oil

Coconut yogurt

pinch salt

Steam vege until soft (about 15-20 mins). Chop and toss together with 2-3 good glugs of olive oil. Add 1 tablespoon of coconut yogurt to make things creamy. Stir with the salt. Done!

My Tuna Salad. 

This follows a similiar method.

1 can of your favourite tuna, drained.

1 stick celery chopped fine.

Olive oil

Coconut yogurt

Mix the tuna and celery with a good glug of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of coconut yogurt. Done!

 

Our half-term holiday starts here today. We have one week off school and few adventures planned! See you next week with a Halloween-ish update, I’m sure. :)

 

 

Dinner in a Hurry: Autumn Minced Beef and Vege

Somehow, in September and October, my days never seem long enough. Is it this time of the year as we come away from the holidays of summer into our work-school routines? Or is this just life with a little one, a business and now a yoga teacher training course?  :) I can’t quite decide, but I suspect you all are just as busy.  Yourr busy-ness might come from things with different names, but busy days are busy days.

And so, I thought I would share one of my go-to recipes for days when luxurious cooking is not an option. This recipe is economical and fast. You can make it ahead and warm it up in a few minutes flat. You could even throw all the ingredients into the slow cooker in the morning to enjoy in the evening. If you eat grains and/or gluten you can serve this with pasta or rice. Phoebe and I find this quite filling on its own. Tonight we finished the leftovers with some steamed cabbage.

‘Please Mama, would you make this again?’ she asked. :)

autumn-minced-beef-and-vege

Autumn Minced Beef and Vegetables

1 tsp coconut oil

2 small onions

2 stalks celery

500 grams beef mince

2 sweet potatoes

2 large carrots

1/2 butternut squash

1-3 cloves garlic (how much garlic do you like?)

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp each of turmeric, thyme and oregano

black pepper

chicken stock to moisten & form some juice.

Saute your onion and mince beef together in the coconut oil in a large frying pan (if eating straight away) or stew pot with a lid (if re-warming later). While this is browning, chop up all the other vege into similar size pieces. Throw everything into the pan. Cook down until the vegetables are soft (about 30-40 mins.)

Enjoy with a drizzle of olive oil or parmesan if you eat dairy.

 

 

Food on Friday: Simple Soup

There are times when simpler is better. Actually, probably most of the time, simpler is better. Especially when the weeks get crazy…

This week was one of those weeks for me. I had lots on at work. Phoebe’s school was closed for parent-teacher conferences. The house is still recovering from our fairy birthday party last weekend.  And I’m preparing to be away this weekend for the start of my yoga teacher training course.  (So excited for the start of this journey, but of, course, being away means lots of preparation and planning regarding Phoebe’s care and her meals…)

In midst of all this, Phoebe’s teacher told me that her class would be making vegetable soup in school today. Phoebe won’t be able to eat the soup made at school. Since I didn’t want her to miss out, we made some soup for her to take in.  Strangely enough, making soup together with Phoebe was one of the highlights of my week. She peeled and washed. I chopped and diced.

A note on spices: You’ll see that I chose parsley, turmeric and black pepper to season this soup. I cook with these ALL the time. Parsley is wonderful since it pulls toxins out of the body and is full of anti-oxidents.  Turmeric is an amazing spice with a whole host of health benefits. I use it as much as I can as turmeric reduces inflammation and is an antioxidant. Black pepper increases the efficacy of turmeric immensely!

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Our soup was delicious. And simple. And quick. Here goes:

Phoebe’s Vegetable Soup

1 large courgette, diced

1/2 butternut squash, peeled & diced

2 large carrots, peeled & diced

1 stalk celery, diced

1 small onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

Bone broth or chicken stock

handful fresh parsley, minced (or you can use dried)

turmeric – a couple dashes

black pepper

Place all the vegetables in a pot. Cover with broth. Simmer for about 30 mins. Toss in the herbs & spices. Let simmer another 5 mins to wilt the parsley. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil.

denise-balyoz-soupdenise-balyoz-portrait-photographer

 

Food on Friday: Sweet Treats

apple-cinnamon-cakes-gluten-freeSOMEONE is having a birthday this weekend! I have been planning the party and doing a bit of cake research.  Ahhh…it’s a tough job. But this Mama doesn’t mind making the sacrifice. :)

In honor of the birthday girl, I thought I would share a few recipes that will feature on her special day. Healthy enough for Phoebe…and delicious for everyone else as well.

Apple-cinnamon-cupcakesApple Cinnamon Cupcakes

These are so yummy, and healthy that (shhhh!) we ate these for breakfast. :) Even better, they took me HOURS to make. Not!

Yields: 7 cupcakes
Preparation time: About 5 minutes
Cooking time: About 15-20 minutes

Diet Info: Wheat & Gluten Free, Dairy-Free

Ingredients

5 eggs

1 cup homemade apple sauce

1/2 cup coconut flour

3-4 tablespoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

zest of 1 lemon

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1 diced apple

2 teaspoons maple syrup or raw honey

Instructions 

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Line pan with cupcake papers or grease with coconut oil. Put everything except diced apple and maple syrup in a bowl and whisk or blend with immersion blender. (Takes about 3 minutes. Seriously. That long…)

Let batter sit for 5 minutes, then spoon into cupcake tin. Sprinkle diced apple on top of muffins. Bake 15 minutes until cakes start to brown and not soft when lightly touched on top. Let cool. Drizzle with maple syrup. Eat everything but the paper.

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And since we can’t have a birthday day without chocolate…This recipe is a tad bit more involved, but WELL worth the effort. Mmmmm…

chocolate-almond-torte

Flourless Chocolate Almond Cake

Yields: 1 cake
Preparation time: About 30-40 minutes
Cooking time: About 1.5 hours

Diet Info: Wheat & Gluten Free, Dairy-Free, No added Sugar

Ingredients

6oz. (170g) bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
¼ cup coffee (perhaps left over from your morning brew)
plus, 2 teaspoons instant coffee
6oz. (170g) unsalted butter, softened OR substitute 170g coconut oil
5 tablespoons coconut nectar OR sugar if your diet allows
6 large eggs, separated
¼ teaspoon salt
6oz. (170g) almonds, finely ground
cashew cream to serve
Preheat oven to 375ºF / 190ºC. Butter a 9-inch (24cm) springform pan.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a double boiler. Remove from heat. Mix in the coffee powder and coffee. Reserve.
In a food processor, beat the butter until creamy. Slowly add 4 TB coconut nectar and blend until the mixture is light and very creamy. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
Add the egg yolks, one or two at a time, processing well between each, and blending an extra minute after the last one.
Fold in the almonds and chocolate mixture, using a spatula.
With a mixer, beat the egg whites with the salt until they begin to stand in soft peaks. Add the remaining 1 Tbs coconut nectar and beat until glossy and stiff.
With a spatula, add a small amount of the whites to the chocolate mixture and fold. Fold in the rest of the whites in 2 or 3 additions, mixing carefully and completely. Pour into the prepared pan.
Turn down the oven to 350ºF / 180ºC and bake for 15 minutes.
Turn down the oven to 325ºF / 160ºC and bake for another 45 minutes. Check your cake with a tester. If dry, turn off the oven. If not…Turn the oven down to 300ºF / 150ºC and bake for 15 to 20 more minutes, until a tester in the center comes out dry.
Turn off the oven and leave the cake in the oven, with the door ajar for another 30 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack and cool, in the pan, to room temperature.
When ready to serve, slide a flat knife or spatula around the sides, release the springform and carefully transfer to the serving plate.
Serve with cashew cream, berries or anything else you fancy. :)

Why Food on Friday? 

18 months ago, my daughter was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and uveitis…both auto-immune diseases. By changing her diet and through lots of alternative care, I have been able to significantly minimise my daughter’s use of drugs…and their side effects. And we have started to heal her immune system.

BIG bonus for me: changing my diet has massively improved my health, my energy levels and my overall well-being. All wonderful for me as a photographer! So many people have asked me to share more about what and how we eat that Food on Friday was born. I’d love to hear from you. What would you like more of? What would you like me to cover? 

 

Food on Friday: Breakfast and a Snack…

gluten-free-breakfastBreakfast. We’re breakfast girls in my house. We wake up hungry and we are not afraid to eat heartily to start our day. But what do we eat if we are wheat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free?

Our breakfasts usually happen in two parts. We start with a green juice followed by an un-porridge porridge. Though we used to be completely Paleo, we have started to have quinoa, amaranth or rice at breakfast 4-5 days a week.

lemon-coconut-rice-breakfast

I made this Lemon – Coconut Brown Rice porridge this week. It was wonderful!

Yields: 2 servings
Preparation time: About 10 minutes
Cooking time: About 20-30 minutes

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup brown rice
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • flaked raw almonds
  • pomegranate seeds or blueberries
  • coconut oil
  • lemon zest from 1/2 lemon
  • desiccated coconut
  1. Rinse the rice under cool water. Add to pot & cover with boiling water from the kettle.
  2. Leave the pot uncovered simmer on the lowest setting for 15-20 mins. Once the water starts to absorb, add the coconut milk and cinnamon and continue to cook.
  3. Once most of the liquid is absorbed, cover the pot and turn off the heat. Let the rice sit for 5 minutes more before dishing out.
  4. Sprinkle with berries, almonds, lemon zest and dried coconut. Top with 1 tsp coconut oil. (this will melt into the rice). Add more coconut milk as desired.
  5. I like a lot of cinnamon and usually sprinkle more on top. Mmmm…

 

Once breakfast is out of the way, I will say that we’re all about the snacks.

Here’s one I made today. And bonus…Phoebe (obviously) loved it too….

banana-ginger-avocado-smoothie

My Green Banana Ginger Avocado Smoothie

1 large (or 2 small) frozen bananas

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1 handful raw almonds (soaked if possible)
1/4 avocado
small piece of ginger (Note: since I was making for my daughter, I used less. When I make for me, I use more)
1 dash tumeric
2 dashes cinnamon
water – start with 1 cup and add more to reach desired consistency
Super food Additons:
1/2 tsp bee pollen
1 tsp macca
1/2 tsp chlorella and spirulina greens powder
Toss the chia seeds & almonds in the blender with the water so they can start to soften. Add everything else to  the blender. Blend until smooth. (A note on sweetness: The banana, bee pollen and macca all help to sweeten this smoothie. If you need more sweetness, feel free to add a teaspoon or two of raw honey or real maple syrup…or a drop or two of liquid stevia.)
As you can see, this was well received as a snack! I like to use this as an after dinner treat for me or even for a quick meal when I’m too rushed to cook for myself.
I’d love to hear what you think. Happy eating!

Food on Friday: Our Un-pasta Pasta

Several times a week, I am asked, ‘But…what DO you eat?

You see, last year, my daughter was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. To reduce the inflammation in her body and to heal her immune system without drugs, we eat an unusual and very healthy diet.  No wheat, gluten, dairy, nightshade (tomato, potato, eggplant, peppers), sugar and (until recently) eggs or grains. Though it might sound like there is nothing else left to eat, we seem to always find yummy things on our plates.

Because so many people have asked, I will start to share a bit of our food journey here on The UK Mama. I’m not a nutritionist. I’m also not saying this diet would be right for you. But perhaps some of  what we do might sound good and inspire you to try new things for you…and for your children.

Bottom-line, I’ve never felt healthier or lighter. I also never struggle to get my daughter to eat. Perhaps its because I eat the same meal with her. Or perhaps she just thinks this food tastes good. And rumour has it, her teachers covet her lunches!

Anyway, Food on Friday is born. I hope you sharing this little delicious bit of our lives. Feel free to drop me a line with any questions, comments or your very own alternative recipes. :)

Denise-Balyoz-Carrot-Courgette-pastaPasta! Every child loves it, and I missed it when we gave up grains. But then I found this….Super easy. Great hot or cold. Serve with a sauce for dinner or cold for lunch.

Courgette – Carrot Pasta

You will need 1 courgette & 1 carrot per person. Peel with a peeler to form the pasta strips. Blanche briefly in boiling water (30 secs – 1 minute).

So many ways to serve:  top with a traditional bolognese or pesto sauce. Toss with olive oil, lemon and chopped herbs. Serve hot for dinner. Save the left overs and serve cold with olive oil and hemp seeds for lunch. Feel free to make with just carrot or just courgette. Nothing could be quicker or easier.

Denise-Balyoz-Quinoa-Kale-Salad

While we are on the topic of quick and easy, I love this super easy salad. The original recipe is from Kris Carr, though I’ve changed it slightly to suit me.

Quinoa, Kale, Broccoli Salad

  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups kale chopped
  • 1/2 broccoli head, chopped
  • 3 tbsp flaked raw almonds
  • 3 tbsp raisins
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice + lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • handful chopped coriander
  • sea salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

In a small pot over medium heat, add quinoa and water and bring to a simmer. Toss in chopped broccoli. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Add chopped kale to the quinoa and cover for a few minutes until kale wilts. Toss kale and quinoa with remaining ingredients. Serve warm as a side for dinner. Great cold for lunch or snack.

Have a great weekend. Happy and healthy eating.