Great British Apples: The Unsung Heroes Of Snack Time

It is well known that eating a healthy, balanced diet does wonders for your health. Diets rich in fruit and vegetables have been linked with lower cholesterol, reduced obesity and less risk of developing Type II diabetes and coronary heart disease. The US National Cancer Institute has even estimated that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables could prevent up to 30% of cancers. With the rise of the ‘superfood’ era, its is recognised that some foods may contain nutritional benefits above and beyond those of other ‘less-than-super-foods’. Kale, acai berries, blueberries and green tea are all heralded as being nutritional gods, but this can undermine the benefits we can gain from much more easily accessible foods which can be incorporated into our everyday diets for a fraction of the cost.

Since getting involved with the Great British Apples #GoodnessToGo campaign, I’ve been checking out the benefits of regular british apple consumption and there is so much about these little red and green powerhouses that I didn’t know!

First of all, apples are a significant source of flavonoids. Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits. They have also been shown to inhibit cancer cell proliferation, regulate inflammation and immune responses and protect against cell damage. Consumption of foods high in flavonoids have been linked with reduced mortality and a reduction of the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by 35%. It is the high flavonoid content which has been suggested to be responsible for the protective effects of regular apple consumption against lung cancer[1].


Try topping your smoothies with chunks of apple to get an extra dose of vitamins!

Apples are also a great source of antioxidants and score highly in terms of antioxidant capability in comparison to other commonly consumed fruits such as strawberries, lemons, bananas and grapefruit. It has also been found that apples have a higher proportion of ‘free phenolics’ than other fruits which means the antioxidant molecules they contain are more easily accessible and therefore more likely to be absorbed into the blood stream. Antioxidants inhibit the ‘oxidation’ if other molecules which can cause cell damage and has been linked to a wide range of diseases including Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s, Type II diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis[2] [3].

Interestingly, apple peel has been shown to have even greater nutritional benefits than the fleshy part. Quercetin (a flavonoid found in lots of fruit and vegetables) is present in much higher quantities in the peel than in the flesh and some apple varieties have been sound to have up to 6 times more of the substance in their skin. Because of this, apple peel may have higher antioxidant activity than the flesh and may therefore present a greater protective effect against oxidative stress[4]. So, you might want to think again before getting that peeler out next time!

The UK is home to a range of different apple varieties. From sweet and juicy Jazz to crisp and sweet Braeburn, I am always overwhelmed by the choice on offer. What’s more, they’re just so versatile! Crunched into on the go, lovingly chopped up and packed into a lunchbox or patiently baked for hours under a sweet, heavy crumble, there is no form of apple-based consumption that isn’t enjoyable. Featured below are some of my favourites!

Breakfast Faves:

  1. Apple Pie Oatmeal


For a quick and super nutritious start to the day, I add half a chopped apple and a teaspoon of cinnamon to my standard oatmeal recipe. Topped with more apple and a dollop of cranberry compote for an extra hit of antioxidants, this breakfast never lets me down.

  1. Apple Pie Pancakes

This perfect weekend breakfast takes the humble apple from an on-the-go snack to the star of the show!



–       1 cup buckwheat flour

–       1 tbsp baking powder

–       1 tbsp ground flaxseed

–       2 tsp cinnamon

–       1 tsp ground ginger

–       1 small British apple, finely chopped or grated

–       1.5 tbsp apple cider vinegar

–       1 tbsp maple syrup

–       1 cup almond mylk

–       Pinch salt


  1. Combine ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well
  2. Pour approximately 2 tbsp of the batter for each pancake into a large non-stick frying pan and cook over a medium heat for 1-2 minutes, or until bubbles start to form in the centre of the pancake
  3. Flip and cook for a further 1-2 minutes
  4. Top with chunks of cinnamon-y apple, granola and dairy-free yoghurt

Sweet Treats:

  1. Apple & Cinnamon Muffins (recipe by The Minimalist Baker)

These always go down well. Light, moist and fully of flavour, they’re the perfect autumn (or, lets be honest, spring, summer or winter) treat! Find the recipe over on The Minimalist Baker’s blog.



  1. Nut Butter-Dipped Apples

This works so well. Something about the sweetness of the apples and the saltiness of the nut butter makes this my go-to snack (not to mention that a healthy dose of nut butter in the afternoon does wonders for lifting my mood!). Peanut and pecan butters are my favourites at the moment but almond butter, cashew butter and even hummus works brilliantly too!

  1. The classic, naked apple

No on-the-go snack will satisfy me more than a trusty British apple. Picked up from basically any supermarket, corner shop, train station, friend’s house etc., the apple is ready to give me everything I need with no preparation, unwrapping, peeling or faffing necessary. Plus, there is the added bonus of 0% waste (apart from the core and pips of course, but they’re all biodegradable so there is no need to worry about them clogging up landfill or ending up in the oceans like crisp packets, juice cartons and chocolate bar wrappers do).

To summarise, the Great British Apple is, in my opinion, the unsung hero of snacks. Full of antioxidants and chemicals that can protect us against a whole host of diseases, these convenient and delicious handfuls of joy need to be piled high in our fruit bowls and bouncing along inside our school bags ready to save the day when hunger (inevitably for a greedy food-nut like me) strikes.



[2] Agostinho, P., A Cunha, R., & Oliveira, C. (2010). Neuroinflammation, oxidative stress and the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease. Current pharmaceutical design, 16(25), 2766-2778.

[3] Tak, P. P., Zvaifler, N. J., Green, D. R., & Firestein, G. S. (2000). Rheumatoid arthritis and p53: how oxidative stress might alter the course of inflammatory diseases. Immunology today, 21(2), 78-82.

[4] Denis, M. C., Furtos, A., Dudonne, S., Montoudis, A., Garofalo, C., Desjardins, Y., … & Levy, E. (2013). Apple peel polyphenols and their beneficial actions on oxidative stress and inflammation. PLoS One, 8(1), e53725.


Liver Health and LivOn!



Your liver is important, but keeping it healthy rarely seems to be top of our priority list. I don’t know about you, but up until I started doing a bit of research, as far as I knew the liver was only really responsible for removing toxins (mainly alcohol) from the body. But the liver has many super important functions besides coping with the after-effects of our Friday nights! These include:

–          Processing digested food from the intestine and converting it into energy

–          Controlling levels of fats, amino acids and glucose in the blood

–          Combatting infections and clearing the blood of bacteria

–          Neutralising toxins (including those from alcohol)

–          Storing iron, vitamins and essential chemicals

–          Making enzymes and proteins responsible for important chemical reactions in the body e.g. blood clotting and tissue repair

Certain aspects of our lifestyles can put excess stress on the liver and risk a reduction in its’ function. In extreme cases this can lead to increased risk of developing liver disease – the fifth largest cause of death in the UK.

It is well known that alcohol can cause liver damage ; regularly drinking more than the recommended amount over a long period of time can cause the liver to become overworked and can eventually lead to the build-up of fat in the liver itself, inflammation and the death of liver cells. This type of damage effects the ability of the liver to perform its essential functions and can seriously affect our overall health. It is thought that such damage comes about because excessive alcohol consumption can increase ‘oxidative stress’ in the system. Oxidative stress interferes with the ability of our cells to detoxify and repair damage. Other sources of oxidative stress which have been linked to reductions in liver function are obesity and suboptimal levels of iron in the blood.

This being said, and contrary to common belief, only 38% of the cases of liver disease in the UK are caused by alcohol. 1 in 3 people are affected by Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) – that’s over 15million people just in the UK! NAFLD is usually seen in people who are overweight or obese and although early-stage NAFLD doesn’t usually cause any harm, but it can lead to serious liver damage, including cirrhosis, if it gets worse. You might also be at increased risk of developing NAFLD if you have type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, are over the age of 50 and/or are a smoker.

There are lots of things you can do to help support liver function. Antioxidants are thought to be very important in maintaining liver health, and may be especially important in cases of liver damage. Conversely, having a diet low in antioxidants may increase the likelihood of suffering liver injury. One antioxidant in particular – lycopene – has been found to be especially therapeutic[1]. Lycopene is thought to be one of the most powerful antioxidants and may play a role in preventing cancer and heart disease. Foods high in lycopene include watermelon, tomatoes, papaya, grapefruit, asparagus and carrots.

Some health products are also available which promote antioxidant activity and aid liver function. For example, LivOn! make a salted caramel flavour antioxidant coffee drink (yes you did hear correctly… Salted caramel. Coffee. Could there be a better combination?!) which contains high levels of vitamin C which protects cells from oxidative stress. Better still – 6% of every sale of LivOn! goes towards helping to fund liver research with The Liver Group Charity and Liver4Life! If you’re interested, you can find out more here: . Being able to get a hit of vitamin C in a handy (and, may I say, delicious) bottle of goodness has got to be just about the best way to protect your liver from all the nasty toxins it has to deal with!

I feel as though this happens every time I write a blog post focussing on a particular aspect of our bodies/health, but doing research for this blog post has really made me appreciate to a greater extent the simple things we can do to support our bodies’ vital functions and help them to healthy. Once again, keeping everything in tip-top working condition seems to boil down to eating a rich and varied diet full of fruit and veg, being mindful of the essential vitamins and minerals we may be missing out on and finding ways to supplement our diet with the things we need (in the most delicious ways possible of course).



Book Review: Simply Natural Healthy by Juliet Kelly-Wong

I strongly believe that the fewer artificial substances we put in our bodies, the healthier and happier they will be. This belief is party what has bought me to the diet and lifestyle I follow today which is full of as many fresh fruit and veg as I can get my hands on and devoid of as much processed food as I can get away with. There are limitations of course, I can’t make my own tofu and would struggle to find the time to make my own bread, but I try to choose more natural options wherever possible.

This is true not just of food, but of many areas of my life, including treating illness. A few months ago, I discovered some really interesting articles which had found antibiotics and other chemically produced medicines (including paracetamol) to interfere with the bacteria in the human gut. Basically, when attacking the invading disease/virus/bacteria, some medicines can destroy our healthy gut bacteria too. In efficiency or lack of balance within the gut microbiome has been linked to indigestion and bloating, inflammation within the body, weight gain, autoimmune disease and some forms of mental illness (e.g. depression). With all that in mind, I try not to take paracetamol or other over-the-counter medicines for minor ailments, but I’m often stuck for what to do instead to ease the discomfort. So, I was thrilled when Juilet Kelly-Wong offered to send me her book ‘Simply Natural Health: Harnessing the Healing Power of Nature’ to give me an insight into the kinds of ‘natural remedies’ I could try in times of need.


The book is divided into three main sections. Part1, ‘Our Health’, provides an overview of the potential harmfulness of some health-related aspects of modern life, including processed foods, the over-use of chemical medication (especially antibiotics) and over-sanitisation. This section also explores whether we really need vitamin supplements and provides practical advice for health which explores choosing a good doctor, foods we should try to avoid and the importance of detoxifying the body. Coming from a background in science, I found this section of the book super interesting, especially the premise that ‘what is making us so sick’ is overexposure to chemicals in our environment (through food, medicines, cleaning products etc.) – it prompted a desire to research more about such issues as antibiotic resistance and how processed foods might not be recognised by the body as ‘food’.

Part 2, ‘Mother Nature’s Tool Kit’ details the ingredients Juilet uses in her treatments and the various healing effects of these of these whilst exploring how to create a ‘healing pantry’, using essential oils and a guide to acupressure. The book outlines the health benefits of loads of everyday foods including broccoli (great for counteracting high sugar intake), black pepper (improves digestion), garlic (a natural antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antioxidant) and molasses (super high in nutrients, especially B vitamins). It took me a little while to make my way through all of the information provided in this section, but I was encouraged that a lot of the health promoting foods listed are already part of my diet. Despite this, I have made a few changes/additions in the last few weeks based on what I have learnt:

       Every morning I make sure to drink a pint of water with the juice of half a lemon and 1 tsp apple cider vinegar mixed in to aid digestion and detoxify.

       I’ve started adding psyllium husks to my smoothies and oatmeal, again to help with digestion and intestinal health.

       I’ve hunted down a vegan kimchi brand and have been adding a spoonful or two to my meals whenever I can to boost my ‘good’ gut bacteria.

snh4.jpgSuper Blueberry Smoothie with added psyllium husks to aid digestion

The next section of this part explores healing with essential oils. Using natural oils as a form of herbal medicine dates back centuries and, in some cultures, is the only form of medicine so I was really interested to find out more about it. The book gives detailed descriptions of the benefits of nearly 40 different natural oils which can be applied to various acupressure points to help relieve particular ailments. For example, peppermint oil is said to provide relief from painful stomach issues such as bloating and spasms and ginger oil is thought to effectively soothe strained or tired muscles. Again, there is a lot of information here and I haven’t been able to try any of these remedies as yet, mainly because I was so overwhelmed by the amount of oils that could be potentially beneficial that I didn’t know where to start. I am also unsure as to where to get good quality essential oils from; more things to research I think!

Part 3 is an ‘A-Z of Health Concerns’ which explores some natural remedies for common conditions and illnesses. This section lists illnesses A-Z, each followed by a number of proposed natural remedies. Examples of some of the conditions listed here are: acne, anaemia, bites and stings, colds, depression, eczema, headaches, indigestion, insomnia and nausea. Remedies include things such as herbal tea infusions, essential oil treatments, relevant acupressure points to stimulate, supplements to take and recommended healing foods. I have to say, the advice about remedying a hangover was absolutely amazing (I have never felt so spritely after an evening of slightly too much alcohol!). Though I have not (yet) suffered with many of the other ailments listed in this section, it was fascinating to read about the potential healing power of such basic, natural ingredients and I am definitely planning to implement as many of these as possible the next time I encounter a cold, headache or bout of indigestion.

My overall impression is of a thorough, informative guide for anyone wishing to begin healing themselves with nature. Obviously, it would be impossible to implement everything in the book right away, and Juilet makes clear that for more serious conditions (such as cancer, stroke, serious burns etc.) professional medical advice should be sought alongside the use of natural remedies. Overall, the faith that this book places in nature and its power to heal us is totally inspiring and I feel as though this attitude is vital in shifting our mindset away from the chemical cure and towards more natural health.

To find out more about Juliet and the book itself visit:

Miso-Chocolate Granola

If you’ve followed my Instagram account for a while, you’ll know that I am a HUGE fan of the miso-chocolate combo (miso-chocolate smoothie bowl – HECK YES). There is something about the salty-umami-ness of miso paste that goes so spectacularly with sweet and chocolately flavours and I will never stop looking for new ways to bring these two together.

The lovely people at Tide Ford Organics sent me two flavours of their fresh, unpasteurised miso to try and OMG I have been in miso HEAVEN. Usually I use their standard Brown Rice Miso paste in my cooking (miso ramen yes paaalease) but this time I got to try out their Saiko Sweet Miso for the first time and I am in love. All of u check it OUT pls.

Miso-Chocolate Granola



  • 1 heaped tbsp. Tide Ford Organics Saiko Sweet Miso paste
  • 2 tbsp. agave nectar
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp. smooth, runny peanut butter
  • 2 tbsps. raw cacao powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup almonds, chopped
  • 1.5 cups whole rolled oats


  1. Preheat the oven to 150 celcius (fan)
  2. Add the miso paste, agave, coconut oil and peanut butter and heat gently, stirring regularly,  until combined
  3. Whisk in the cacao powder and salt
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped almonds and oats
  5. Transfer to a lined baking tray and bake for 30 minutes
  6. Remove from the oven and leave in the tin to cool
  7. Once cool, break into smaller chunks and store in a jar or airtight container


Easy Roasted Tomato & Pesto Linguini

Pesto was one of those things that I realised, quite late in my vegan journey, isn’t vegan. It isn’t even vegetarian! I’m not going to lie, this was quite a blow because I LOVE pesto. Happily, SACLA’ have a range of FreeFrom pesto which is everything a vegan pesto-addict could ever wish for. Having a jar of this to add to pasta, sauces and toast (pesto on toast is actual heaven, just sayin’) is honestly my favourite way to make my life more delicious. 100% recommend. SACLA’ FreeFrom is available from the Free From aisle at most supermarkets or on http://www.sacla-shop.

I wanted to share the recipe for one of my go-to dinners with you because it is too easy and delicious to keep to myself. Also, Italian food is the one.


Ingredients (Serves 1)

  • 75g wholewheat spaghetti
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup fresh rocket
  • 2 tbsps. SACLA’ FreeFrom Sundried Tomato Pesto
  • Olive oil for roasting
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 celcius (fan)
  2. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and place on a baking tray
  3. Drizzle tomatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper
  4. Roast for 10 – 12 minutes
  5. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions
  6. Drain the spaghetti and return to the saucepan, add the roasted tomatoes, rocket and pesto and season well
  7. Serve (I highly recommend a side order of vegan garlic bread!)

Peanut Swirl Brownies (Vegan, GF)

Gluten free baking is something I am slowly trying to conquer. I’m not gluten intolerant but I am conscious that I want my recipes to be accessible to as many people as possible because finding an amazing recipe and then realising that you can’t eat half of the ingredients is one of the saddest things ever #veganproblems.

So, when The Groovy Food Company sent me a batch of their finest baking ingredients – including a big ol’ bag of coconut flour – I decided I would take on a gluten free baking challenge. I’ve had a few baking disasters in the past when trying to adapt existing recipes to make them gluten free so I was terrified of how these were going to turn out, but happily, they are delicious!

This recipe uses pumpkin puree which you can buy in the International Foods section of large supermarkets. If you can’t get your hands on a tin of thee stuff, you can make your own! Just steam or boil a batch of sweet potatoes, squash or pumpkins and blend until smooth – you could also add a dash of sweetener if you’d like.



  • 1/4 cup smooth, runny peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup The Groovy Food Company agave nectar
  • 1/2 cup The Groovy Food Company coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup The Groovy Food Company coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup The Groovy Food Company coconut flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp. plant milk
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • Extra peanut butter for peanut swirl (about 2 tbsps.)


  1. Preheat the oven to 150 celcius (fan)
  2. Combine peanut butter, agave nectar and coconut sugar in a large bowl and mix well using an electric whisk
  3. Melt the coconut oil in the microwave (about 30 secs.) and add to the peanut mixture
  4. Add the cacao powder, pumpkin puree, coconut flour, salt, baking powder and plant milk and whisk until combined
  5. Stir in the chocolate chips
  6. Transfer the mixture to a lined baking tin and smooth using the back of a metal spoon
  7. Drizzle the extra peanut butter over the top and use the spoon to swirl into the brownie mixture
  8. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the tin
  10. Cut into 9 equal squares and store in an airtight container



These taste amazing fresh out of the oven but are so gooey – leaving them in the tin until completely cooled allows them to fully bind together.









Basic Vegan Banana Loaf with Coconut-Chocolate Drizzle

Sugar is confusing, right? We’re told constantly that too much sugar is bad and that refined sugars are particularly awful and that maybe the sugar in fruit isn’t all that good for us either. As someone who is pretty health conscious, I’ve run around in circles trying to decide what is the best sweetener to use – agave nectar was the hero for a while but then was demonised by a number of research papers, dates and other dried fruits work well in some recipes and not at all in others, coconut sugar is ridiculously expensive (and how different is it from normal cane sugar anyway?) and there are so many different types of fruit syrup that I normally just panic and buy whatever is on offer.

In terms of the effects on the body, there is no categorical evidence that any one sweetener is ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than another. There are research articles strongly in favour of unrefined options (coconut sugar for example), and others which find their effects on blood glucose to be no different to that of their refined counterparts. It’s an absolute minefield.

One rule I do try to stick to (and this goes to pretty much all of my diet choices) is that I try to choose natural ingredients over chemically produced ones. This means steering clear of products which contain ingredients like aspartame, saccharine and refined glucose syrup and choosing those which sweeten with dates and other naturally occurring sugars.

So I was so excited when the lovely people at Natvia sent me their Natural Baking Sweetener (which is aspartame and saccharine free!) and, naturally, spent the weekend experimenting with it. The finished product is this Basic Vegan Banana Loaf which I topped with a coconut-chocolate drizzle (I’m thinking some kind of peanut-butter infusion might just have to be the next step though…)


Basic Vegan Banana Loaf with Coconut-Chocolate Drizzle



  • 200g wholewheat flour
  • 100g buckwheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 130g Natvia Natural Baking Sweetener
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 120ml plant milk
  • 1tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 50ml carob syrup
  • 80ml olive oil
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup coconut flakes



  1. Preheat the oven to 180 Celsius and line a standard loaf tin with baking paper
  2. Combine flours, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, Natvia and cinnamon in a bowl and mix well
  3. In a separate bowl, mash bananas into a puree using a fork
  4. Add plant milk, apple cider vinegar, carob syrup, olive oil and water to the banana puree and mix well
  5. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the wet mixture
  6. Mix well using a metal spoon
  7. Pour mixture into the lined loaf tin and bake for 45 – 50 minutes
  8. Once cooked, allow to cool in the tin for 20 minutes before removing from the tin and transferring to a wire cooling rack
  9. Melt the coconut oil in a microwave
  10. Stir in the cacao powder
  11. Drizzle chocolate mixture over the top of the loaf and sprinkle with coconut chips


NB. The loaf will keep in an airtight container for around 3 days and is freezer safe.