Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian, High in ProteinGluten Free, Vegan, High protein Quinoa Porridge siennalula sienna somers

It was recently my 21st birthday, resulting in an indulgent few weeks involving lots of sugary and fatty foods. A few weeks and a few too many cakes later, I need to get back on track.

My key tip to a maintaining a healthy lifestyle is always a good breakfast. Having a good wholesome breakfast full of protein, carbs and healthy fats, not only keeps you fuller for longer but sets you up for a great start to the day, providing you with energy to get up and make the day your own.

My go-to get back on track breakfast is Quinoa Porridge.

Quinoa, pronounced KEEN-wah, is gluten-free, high in fibre and high protein grain. During the Incan Empire, it was referred to it as the “mother of all grains” and believed it to be sacred.

Nowadays, it’s hailed as a “Superfood”. Quinoa is a great choice (especially for Vegans and Veggies) as its high in protein and unlike other grains, contains all the essential amino acids, so is a “complete” protein. Quinoa also contains antioxidants which help to reduce inflammation and a portion contains 30% of your RDA for magnesium and 15% of Iron (both essential during your time of the month).

What I love about this recipe is the ability to mix and match and adjust the recipe to your preferences. Today, I had a chai spiced quinoa breakfast with raspberries, chia seeds, yoghurt and a bid drizzle of almond butter. Other times I love the indulgence of adding a teaspoon of cacao powder and having a chocolatey treat. Another favourite of mine is lemon and coconut quinoa porridge.

Feel free to experiment with any combinations and let me know how you get on.

Gluten Free, Vegan, High protein Quinoa Porridge siennalula sienna somers
Quinoa Porridge
Gluten Free, Vegan, High protein Quinoa Porridge

Serves 1

30g-45g  Quinoa or Flaked Quinoa
150ml Milk of Choice (I use almond milk)
150ml Water
½ tsp Desired Spices (Usually, Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg and occasionally turmeric or vanilla)
40g+ Fruit of Choice (Raspberries, Strawberries, Blueberries, Banana, Lemon and apples all work well)
Pinch of salt

Optional add-ins

10g Nuts (I usually use pecans or Almonds)

If you’re feeling adventurous, grate half a courgette in. Adds double the volume for an extra 10 calories.

Cacao powder if you want an indulgent chocolatey feast

20g of Protein Powder for an added protein kick (I usually use Pea protein but Whey works well too)

 

Optional Toppings- Mix and Match to your heart’s content

Nut butter (I always choose almond butter!)

Dollop of yoghurt

Mixed Seeds

Drizzle of Agave syrup, Honey, Date Syrup, Choc Shot or another sweetener

More fruit

Desiccated coconut

Chocolate buttons or pure cacao melts luxuriously on top

 

How to:

Place the milk, water, spices, quinoa and pinch of salt in a saucepan on a medium heat.

Pop the lid on and let it simmer, stirring occasionally.

Cook until a preferred porridge consistency (I like mine thick). With standard quinoa, this will take about 25 mins but flaked quinoa will take less than 10 mins.

Transfer to a bowl and go wild with toppings

Enjoy

Gluten Free, Vegan, High protein Quinoa Porridge siennalula sienna somers

 

Here’s a student twist on the classic, and delicious, Easter biscuit.

Most recipes use currants, but students are far more likely to have raisins in their cupboard than currants. What do you do with currants anyway, apart from making Christmas Cake? I’ve also added a bit of an alcoholic twist to the recipe.  The fact that the kilner jar was already half-empty by the time I took the photo says something about how delicious these biscuits were!

Easter biscuits with boozy raisins_2

 

Ingredients:

100 g butter
100 g caster sugar plus a further tablespoon for sprinkling on top
Half juice and rind of a lemon
½ tsp mixed spice (if you don’t have mixed spice, use cinnamon and nutmeg)
200 g plain white flour, or try 1/3 tapioca flour and 2/3 plain flour.
1 egg (separated)
50 g raisins
Tbsp alcohol (ideally limoncello, vodka or brandy, but most alcohol will work)

Recipe

  1. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 6, 200°C, 400°F
  2. Cut your raisins up – you want them to be about the size of a currant. Put them in a bowl and cover with the alcohol of your choice.
  3. Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and light. This is easiest with an electric whisk.
  4. Cut your lemon in half.  But…if you don’t have a juicer (who does as a student) and want to get more juice out of your lemon, you should cut it in half lengthways instead of widthways.  Stir in the  juice and rind of half lemon. mixed spice and the egg yolk.
  5. Take the raisins out of the alcohol and add to the mixture. Add the flour and mix it all together into a stiff dough.
  6. Roll out the dough on a floured surface until about 1/2cm thick. If you don’t have a rolling pin, use a wine bottle with the label soaked off. You can even shape them with your hands by rolling into small circles and flattening.
  7. Cut into circles if you have a biscuit cutter. Or be creative and cut into shapes like easter eggs and hearts. Place on a greased baking tray.
  8. Bake  for about 12 minutes. If they don’t look as if they have started to colour and the dough still looks uncooked, pop them back in for another 2 or 3 minutes.
  9. Take the biscuits out of the oven and brush the top with a little of the egg white. You won’t use much of the egg white, so you could always make a few macaroons with the rest – they take minutes to make. Sprinkle a little sugar over the top. I use coconut sugar for most recipes, but white caster sugar looks prettier here.
  10. Put the biscuits back in the oven for about 3 minutes, until they are a beautiful golden colour.

Enjoy with a cup of tea. And remember, an Easter biscuit is not just for Easter….

seasalt fudge

For me, fudge is a great indulgent treat to have with a cup of tea. I use coconut sugar to replace normal sugar, as not only is it a healthier option but also gives a great roundness to the flavour of your fudge.

Not only does the rosemary add a great taste, sniffing or ingesting rosemary has been scientifically proven to to enhance your memory. Rosemary has been associated with memory retention for centuries.

rosemary

 

I recommend making this fudge around exam periods, to increase your retention of information for an exam. Also try drinking Rosemary tea, which is a great tasting and refreshing drink – add a little honey to taste. Rosemary can be found frequently overhanging walls, I even found a massive bush right outside my lecture theatre!

canada goose In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Ophelia says, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.” (Hamlet, iv. 5.)

 

 

celine bags Sienna making fudge
Ingredients

1 can condensed milk
500g coconut sugar (you can granulated sugar)
4tbls unsalted butter
120ml water
two large sprigs of rosemary (you could replace with any other herb such as Lavender or fennel if preferred)
few drops vanilla essence
1/2 tsp sea salt

1. Strip the leaves from two sprigs of rosemary and bruise in a pestle and mortar to release the oils.  Put the leaves in a tea ball, or muslin.

2. Choose a large pan with a heavy base.  Dangle the tea ball or muslin bag filled with rosemary into the saucepan. I attached mine to the handle with an elastic band.

ingredients fudge in pan

3. Mix together the condensed milk, coconut sugar, butter and water and stir with a wooden spoon as you bring it to the boil.  Once the fudge starts to boil, stir it for around half an hour, ensuring you get into the bottom of the pan so the mixture doesn’t stick.  After half an hour the fudge should be noticeably stickier. If you have used coconut sugar you won’t be able to see the difference in colour, but with normal granulated sugar you will notice the mixture darken.

boiling fudge

4. Once the mixture has thickened and reduced in size, remove from the heat, add a few drops of vanilla essence, and beat for a minute.  Pour the mixture quickly into a pre-greased baking tray – if you leave it too long it will start to stick to the sides of the pan.

fudge after stirring

5. Flatten the top of the mixture and sprinkle the sea salt over the top, pushing it in slightly to the mixture.

6. Leave for several hours to cool until it feels firm (although we were picking at it from the moment it left the pan!)

 Eat and enjoy.  Make some more….

cleavers, sticky weed savvy student sienna somers

Cleavers, sticky weed, goose grass, Galium aparine grows abundantly in towns, parks, roadsides has many names and is easily identifiable as the weed which made long childhood walks bearable by seeing how long the weed could stick to a family members back without them noticing, or rolling into a ball and pelting it at each other. Apart from these recreational uses, it’s also drinkable. From the same family as coffee, G. Aparine can be used to produce drinks and ointments.

To create a substitute coffee, you can gather the small seeds from inside the small burrs and roast them. However, due to the quantity needed for this coffee, it takes a significant amount of time in order to get a decent batch of coffee.

However, you can dry the leaves (so you can store the plant for longer amounts of time) and you can pour boiling water over the leaves, creating a herbal tea. I usually add teaspoonful of  honey which makes it an enjoyable drink.

cleavers, sticky weed savvy student sienna somers

Consumption of cleavers has been linked to weight loss. It has been associated with cleansing and detoxing of the body for may years, even being used as a slimming regime in the sixteenth century!

It is also edible, it can be used in a similar way that you would cook spinach, for example by steaming it.

I’ve started adding cleavers to my Green Smoothies to pack a lot nutritional value into my smoothie but without breaking my bank.

cleavers, sticky weed savvy student sienna somers

 

You can create a toner by soaking the plants in cold water overnight. This has many uses, from clearing the complexion, helping eczema, removing dandruff and soothing burns. I apply some with an organic cotton pad to my face in the evenings.


For me, Cinnamon is the holy grail of spices, not only is it utterly delicious, it has an plethora of health benefits. From aiding weight loss by increasing circulation to having great anti-microbial and anti-oxidant properties. From a day to day basis, I enjoy cinnamon in my life, from cinnamon tea, you can either just pour boiling water over a cinnamon stick or I enjoy Pukka tea’s Liquorice and Cinnamon Tea, I also add a sprinkle of cinnamon over yogurt or mixed with oats and fruit for breakfast.

Home baked cinnamon buns are a good way to get cinnamon into your diet as they’re irresistibly moreish, and by making them yourself, you can monitor the amount of sugar and adjust the recipe to suit you. Sometimes I change the flour to be 50/50 plain flour to rice or Tapioca flour and I often change caster sugar to coconut sugar or honey which is a healthier alternative. I also add Cardamon which creates another dimension of flavour but you can remove this if you prefer.

Cinnamon and Cardamon coconut sugar buns – a twist on the classic Swedish cinnamon buns

Great for breakfast or afternoon tea.

Cooked buns

Makes 8 buns – double the recipe for 16

Dough
50g unsalted butter (room temperature)
65g coconut sugar
350g plain flour
Half a sachet of dried instant yeast (9g)
150ml milk
Half a beaten egg (you will use the other half for the glaze)
Small pinch salt

Filling
45g coconut sugar
75g unsalted butter (room temperature)
Half to One Tablespoon of Cardamom according to taste
2 Tablespoons of cinnamon

Glaze
Half a beaten egg
Syrup to glaze (this can be a sugar syrup with a little hot water or, if you have it, golden syrup or agave syrup.
Dusting of sugar – I used granulated as the white sugar looked pretty against the crisp top of the buns, but you could use coconut sugar again.

Method

1. Cream butter and sugar together.  Add the egg to the creamed mixture and beat for a minute or two.

2.Sift the flour if you want to, I didn’t bother, and stir in the yeast and salt.  Alternately add a few spoons of flour and a splash of milk until all added.  If you have a mixer with a dough attachment, or a bread maker, you can use this, or knead by hand for 15 minutes until the dough is elastic.  Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel or cling film and put somewhere warm to rise. If your house is cold, you could heat the oven to a low temperature, put the bowl in and turn off the heat.

3. While the dough is rising, cream together the butter and sugar for the filling, crush the cardamom pods to remove seeds and give them a quick squash in a pestle and mortar if you have one.

4. After about an hour, take the dough out of the bowl and shape into a rectangle. Roll it out (a wine bottle with the label removed will do if you don’t have a rolling pin) to about 2cm thick.   Spread the sugar/butter filling over the central part of your dough rectangle. If you get too near the edges it all squidges out.  Sprinkle your cinnamon over the top and then add a few pinches of cardamon.

Dough with filling

5. Fold in half one way and then in half again the other way.  Roll out the dough again until it is about 2cm thick.  It doesn’t matter if some of the filling gets on the outside of the dough.download full movie Baywatch

6. Cut into 8 strips.  Take one strip in your hand, wrap it around two fingers of your other hand, take it off and tuck the outer end through the centre of the bun so it looks a bit like a knot.

Dough rolls

7. Put the buns onto a tray lined with baking paper, or just grease a tray with butter if you don’t have baking paper to hand.

8. Put the dough knots back somewhere warm for a further 45 minutes.

9. Put the tray in the oven Gas Mark 5, 200C, 400F for 10-15 minutes. You want the buns just slightly brown on top.

10. Remove from the oven, brush with the syrup and dust with sugar.

Try not to eat them all at once.

 

Bun on plate with tea