Belfast & Northern Ireland

Over the New Year’s weekend we took a trip to Belfast for two nights, stopping en route in Kildare Village for a coffee and some energy balls at Joe’s.

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And later at Banbridge Outlet, where we shopped and then ate at Linen Hill. I had the green Thai chicken curry with rice and a side of sweet potato fries  (gluten free bread came with the dish). Fresh, tasty, lively restaurant with good meal deals for the cinema next door.

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After checking into our hotel, Ibis Hotel Queens Quarter, we freshened up and made our way to the SSE Arena for our first ever ice hockey game! It felt like we had been transported to the States when we got inside – there were cheerleaders, flame machines, you name it! The entertainment before and during the game really contributed to the atmosphere as 3 periods of 20 minutes made for a pretty long game for newbies to the sport! Nonetheless – GO GIANTS!

By the time we got out of the parking and traffic (be warned – patience is essential here!) I was extremely hangry and it was now just after 10pm which meant most decent outlets were closed. By chance we took a drive and stumbled across Camile Thai on the Lisburn Road. After having one Thai curry already that day I looked for another option and the only gluten free one available was the Thai beef salad – which if I’m honest, I wasn’t that keen about. But I ate my words (and the salad!) when it arrived because it was really tasty! I also had a side of edamame and E had some noodles.

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Next morning, I snuck out of the room early to indluge in my healthy-café-visiting addicion at Raw Food Rebellionalso on the Lisburn Road. A small, relaxed café with friendly and helpful staff (101 questions Emma!). I chose the Classic RFR Porridge made with gluten free oats cooked in coconut milk with swirls of peanut butter, topped with roasted peanuts, maple syrup, cinnamon and chopped banana. In other words – to die for! I also had a really good turmeric latte and I brought back a hazelnut milk latte to the sleeping beauty 🙂

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Fueled up we headed off on our Black Cab Tour. This is a must-do! We learned a lot about our own history and the current day situation visiting various areas around the city and signing the Peace Wall.

After our cab tour we visited St. George’s Market later that day which was really nice for a short wander around. Live music and the natter from all the stands gave a fun, lively vibe to the big, open space. We shared some Indian vegan and gluten-free pakoras and I bought some Suki dark cocoa tea.

We ventured around the city for the rest of the day and drove out to see the Titanic museum, which is very costly to visit so we just took a stroll nearby.

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We stopped by Bullitt Belfast for some tapas style snacks around 4pm and it was buzzing! (Taking into account it was New Year’s Eve). I liked it’s tucked away courtyard setting, their cocktail menu sounded delicious but we just stuck to food. I had the Cauliflower steaks with harissa and sunflower tahini while E had Beef short rib fritters also with sunflower tahini and a side of chips. Definitely just snack size and pricey snacks but I like the ingredients and imagination used for their dishes. Bar staff were unfortunately though a bit rude.

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To cap off the night and to ring in the New Year we made a booking at Home Restaurant. They have a vast menu selection and cater really well to those eating with dietary requirements, be it gluten free, vegan, vegetarian or else wise. Service was seemless and the staff were superb. However it was a very expensive meal for the quantity and quality of food we got – £84 sterling for 2 starters, 2 mains and 1 dessert, no drinks? It was nice, they had some fabulous-sounding options but I definitely wasn’t leaving raving about it or dying to go back.I did very much so enjoy the vegan dessert though but even my partner commented how I must still be hungry after my main course as portion size was small.

Pictured below is a starter of tofu, another mango and beef salad starter, a curry and quinoa main (not pictured steak main) and a vegan panna cotta. (Dishes from a special New Year’s menu so I don’t have exact menu descriptions – must have been the free bubbly that had me distracted!) 😉

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Finishing off a great trip to the North was a noteworthy brunch at Established Coffee  followed by a coastal road trip to Carrick-a-rede rope bridge and the Giant’s Causeway. Definitely a few bucket lists ticked that day!

If you haven’t been Belfast and the North of Ireland should definitely be put on your 2017 travel list. 

For more pics and to keep up with my travels, follow me on Instagram @thecinnamonfiend !

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The Cinnamon Fiend Goodies Are Now On Sale!

For those that don’t know I am now selling my healthy snacks, desserts and goodies! 🙂

All products are wheat, gluten, dairy and refined sugar free and packed with superfoods. You can order by direct messaging me on one of my social media channels, email or telephone (link here) or you can now place orders in Le Studio gym Bohernanaeve, Thurles, every Tuesday/Thursday for delivery at your following week’s class.

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A full list of products available along with prices will be available here soon but for now you can find all the details over on my Facebook page:

http://www.facebook.com/TheCinnamonFiend/ 

Cakes, squares, slices, energy balls, cookies – you name it, I’ve got it! 😉

Mexican Chili Burritos

My love affair with Mexican food started whilst working as a waitress in New York in the summer of 2013. The all-male Mexican kitchen staff where I worked would arrive every Sunday armed with their wives secret sauces and fresh ingredients to make the most delicious family meals for us.

This mightn’t quite live up to their cooking but it sure brings back some fond memories!

Ingredients:

1 large onion, chopped

1 red chili, diced

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp paprika

1 tbsp cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

500g minced beef

500ml tomato passata

200g tinned kidney beans, drained

 

For the guacamole:

2-3 avocados, mashed

1 red onion, fine chopped

2 tomatoes, diced

Salt & pepper

Squeeze of lemon/lime juice

 

For the burrito wraps I love to use a packet of BFree Gluten & Wheat Free wraps or alternatively, make your own green protein wraps using my recipe here.

 

Begin by heating some olive oil in a pot or large pan over a medium heat. Sauté the onion, chili, garlic and all spices for 5-8 minutes until the onions are soft and starting to lightly brown.

Add the minced meat, breaking it up so no large chunks remain and cooking until all meat is browned.

Add the passata and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, add the kidney beans and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.

While the chili is simmering prepare the guacamole by mixing all ingredients and lightly warm the wraps.

Season to taste and serve in wraps with fresh guacamole and mixed leaves (grated cheese optional).

**This recipe also works really well in taco shells!

Image courtesy of: http://www.recipeshubs.com/mexican-beef-chilli/9061

Peanut Butter Squares

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Well these guys didn’t last long! Whipped up Saturday and devoured by Sunday. They’re light but filling and the perfect pre or post exercise pick-me-up snack.

Ingredients:

Base:

50g melted dark chocolate

150g dates

200g almonds

Top layer:

150g coconut oil

200g smooth peanut butter

150g maple syrup

40g roasted and chopped unsalted peanuts

Begin by making the base. Pop all ingredients into a blender and mix until fully incorporated and resembling breadcrumbs.

Press the base layer evenly into a small lined baking tray then transfer to the fridge while you make the peanut layer.

First, pop the peanuts on a small tray and roast at 180-200’C for approx 8-10 minutes until starting to golden.

Melt the coconut oil in a small pan over medium-low heat, then stir in the peanut butter and maple syrup.

Remove the peanuts from the oven and using the flat-side of a large knife, press to crush and roughly chop the nuts before adding them to your melted peanut butter mixture.

Take the base layer from the fridge and pour the peanut butter top layer all over.

(Tip: If the brownie tin you are using is too big and you have only spread the base over a portion of the tin, make sure it is touching one end of the tin and fold the baking paper up to the edge of the other end to trap the melted peanut butter layer from over-flowing!)

Place your tray back in the fridge for another 2-3 hours until set, then slice into chunks and watch them disappear!

Nutella Pancakes

I’ve been playing around with coconut flour a lot lately and it’s definitely one of my favourites with it’s subtle but tantalising taste. Made from ground and dried coconut meat it is gluten and wheat free, high in fibre, protein and healthy fats and low in sugar, making it a delicious weekend brunch treat!

A little goes a long way with coconut flour and you can substitute it for white flour in any recipe with 1/4 to 1/3 cup of coconut flour for every 1 cup of white flour, but you will need to increase the number of eggs used.

In this recipe I used a vegan hazelnut and chocolate spread from Teo & Bia, from Organik in the U.A.E, who kindly sent me some free samples but any Nutella-style, chocolate hazelnut spread from your local health food store or a homemade  version will substitute perfectly.

Ingredients:

4 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsps Teo&Bia vegan chocolate spread (or Cleantella/pick up a healthier Nutella alternative in your local health food store)
1 cup milk (I used Oatly oat milk)
1/2 cup coconut flour
Pinch of sea salt
Coconut oil for frying
2 bananas
1 punnet of blueberries
Maple syrup (optional)

Place the eggs, baking powder, cinnamon, chocolate spread, milk, coconut flour and salt in a food processor and blend to make a wet but thick brown batter.

Heat 1 tsp of coconut oil on a medium-high heat. (You will probably need to add a little more oil after the first 1-2 pancakes)

Using a large spoon or jug, pour your desired pancake size amount of batter onto the pan – bearing in mind that it does spread. I made mine smaller and thicker.

Place a few blueberries on top of the cooking pancake and once you can see bubbles forming on the surface (as seen below), then flip.

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Remove the pancake from the pan once cooked on both sides to a plate and add another layer of chocolate spread and slices of banana .

Repeat with the next pancake until all the batter is used and you have your dreamy stack!

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I decorated mine with a drizzle of maple syrup and some toasted coconut flakes to finish but you can add anything you like.

And there you go – Saturday morning breakfast sorted! ❤

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Healthy ‘Twix’ Bars

These bars are really easy to whip together and absolutely scrumptious with a cuppa. The only thing really required is a bit of patience waiting for them to set in the fridge but they taste delicious when eaten with the chocolate still melting on top too!

Cacao is one of my favourite superfoods, packed full of feel-good hormones – Yep, chocolate that’s good for you, now who’s to complain about that? 🙂

Ingredients

Base:

100g coconut flour

100g oat flour

60ml maple syrup

50g coconut oil

Pinch of salt

Caramel centre:

2 tbsp almond butter

200g soaked dates

75ml water

Pinch of salt

Chocolate coating:

150g cacao butter

35g cacao powder

8 tbsps maple syrup

Pinch of salt

Method:

If you don’t have oat flour, begin by processing some oats in your food processor until they are fine milled. Melt the coconut oil, then mix all of the base ingredients together in a bowl to form a dough.

Press the dough firmly into a lined baking tray – I made my biscuit layer quite thick but this will depend on your own preference. Transfer the dough to the fridge or freezer while you prepare the caramel.

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For the caramel, blend the dates (pre-soaked so they are softened and pits removed), almond butter, salt and water in a food processor then pour onto the biscuit base. I didn’t use all the caramel I made but again how much you use depends how much caramel you want to have in the centre of your bars! I believe recipes should always be adapted to suit what you as an individual like! Place the baking tray in the freezer for a minimum of one hour to allow the caramel to set before making the chocolate coating.

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For the chocolate coating, melt the cacao butter, cacao powder, salt and maple syrup over a low heat – this is important as at too high a temperature it tends to seperate. Once all ingredients are melted and mixed together, remove the baking tray from the freezer and slice into bars (I sliced mine into 10 bars but this will depend on how thick/thin you made your base). Dip each bar into the melted chocolate then place on a rack to set. I dipped each of my bars twice to make sure they were fully coated and then spooned any excess over the top.

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Once set, transfer to the fridge for a couple of minutes and then bon appetito!

Choco-Coffee Breakfast Shake

Recently I received some samples of Organo Gold coffees and teas to sample. Thing is – I’m not a coffee drinker. Yes I love the smell of it and yes I have previously worked in a coffee shop but I have just never taken to ordering a big mug of the stuff.

Yet what intrigued me about this brand was that they add Ganoderma Lucidum to all their drinks. I first came across Ganoderma in Kuala Lumpar last year when I was in contact with a doctor specialising in Chinese medicine. Ganoderma is a type of mushroom that has been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine and is known as the “King of the Herbs”, it is used to treat a variety of health conditions. Some benefits include the high level of antioxidants it contains, how it is an anti-inflammatory and it boosts the immune system.

 

So, determined now to try the drinks for myself I decided to brew one of the coffee sachets then once cool I placed in a sealed container in the fridge. Next morning, I added some of the cold coffee to my breakfast smoothie and it was amazing! I had also received a sample of Teo&Bia vegan chocolate spread this week too so I added that into the mix and the result was an amazing coffee nutella flavour sensation! To replicate, please see below.

Ingredients:

50-100ml coffee (brewed and cooled over night; adjust the amount depending on how much coffee you like/caffeine you need in order to function!)
1 heaped tbsp teo&bia
1 cup oats
1 frozen banana
1/3 tsp cinnamon
1/3 tsp cardamom
200-300ml approx. oat milk
3 ice cubes

Blend all in a smoothie maker & enjoy!

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Here is a selection of some of the other samples of Organo Gold I have yet to try!

 

*Featured image courtesy of: https://pixabay.com/en/photos/coffee%20time/

Chili Chocolate Granola

This recipe actually happened by complete accident. While in glorious Bali I had picked up some fresh grated and toasted coconut made by a local lady at the Ubud market.

Upon returning I started to whip up a batch of granola and freely dumped the entire bag of grated coconut into the mix. Needless to say I was somewhat alarmed when I saw little red flecks staring back at me which I hadn’t noticed when it was in it’s packaging! Panic ceased when I realised they were chili flakes but I was now left with the dlemna of what to do with chili in my morning granola?!

*Ding* – light bulb moment – make like the Mayans and add chocolate! Chili & chocolate make delicious amigos. So there we have it, the recipe was born. Plus the great thing about granola is you can throw in just about anything that tickles your fancy or that you have in the fridge.

Ingredients:

400g Oats

200g Desiccated Coconut

1 tsp Red chili flakes

50g Walnuts

200g Flaked almonds

2 heaped tbsp Cacao powder

1 heaped tbsp Maca powder

1 tsp Cinnamon

2-3 tbsps Coconut oil

Chili chocolate granola

 

Mix all ingredients except the chili flakes, cinnamon, maca and cacao powders and place on a baking tray.

Bake until golden brown – approximately 10-15 minutes depending on your oven.

Allow to cool then transfer the baked mixture to a large mixing bowl and all the remaining ingredients. Mix well. Dig in!

Absolutely delicious with nut, oat or coconut milk, pineapple and banana.

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Overnight oats & chia seeds soaked in Oat milk with banana, blueberries & Granola (this time with whole almonds)

Tresind

Located on the second floor of the Nassima Royal Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road, Tresind is a self-called “modernist Indian fine dining restaurant” that I have been eager to visit for some time now. My family and I are big Indian food fans, so with my folks and my sister in town it was the perfect opportunity and boy was it worth the wait!

Arriving for our reservation at 7 p.m. to an empty restaurant was a little worrying yet these worries were soon dismissed as by 8 p.m. almost every table in the house was full and remained that way for the entirety  of our meal. A few tables even had turn-overs during that time and most of the diners during our visit were Indian themselves which is always a good sign.

Upon making our reservation I had advised the restaurant about my food intolerances (no wheat or dairy) and they were most accommodating. Once seated, the head chef came to speak with me about what options he could offer me from the á la carte menu while my parents and sister chose the eight course tasting menu which consisted of 13 mini dishes.

I have to say that even though I wasn’t eating all of the dishes on the tasting menu the theatrical side of their preparations (especially those done at the table) and presentation was so enjoyable even as a spectator. Foodie or not, I would highly recommend choosing the tasting menu option which at 375 AED I think is fantastic value for the quality and quantity of food provided.

To kick off we were served an amuse bouche of a pani puri – a traditional Indian street food, but deconstructed and reinvented, prepared “science lab” style at our table. Designed to be ate in one bite, the spoonful was a burst of sweet and spicy flavours with textural interest thanks to the nuggets of crunchy chickpeas.

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Although I will feature some photos of the tasting menu I won’t comment on them seeing as I did not taste them. What I did taste first however was a beautifully presented tamarind dressed melon salad, sent compliments of the chef, before my  chosen starter of scallops arrived. I adore scallops but often they are a small dish for a big price. This was not the case here though with four plump scallops served alongside a rich peanut and chili sauce.

For main course I ordered the coconut fish curry – the fish was cooked perfectly so that when touched with my fork it fell away easily. The thick sauce and accompanying appam (a rice flour pancake with a steamed egg in the centre -something I was thrilled to see on the menu, bringing back sweet memories from my Sri Lanka trip last year!); soon had me realising that my eyes are bigger than my belly!

Some pictures of the dishes offered on the tasting menu are shown below.

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Overall Tresind proved utterly delightful in every way – from their food to the staff who were warm, friendly and well informed that I cannot wait for my next visit and try their new summer menu & you should too! 😉

http://www.tresind.com

 

Curried Okra & Roast Tomato Frittata

I love it when what begins as a random throw-together of ingredients becomes something delicious! I usually make a curry when cooking with okra, or ‘lady’s fingers’, but this time I tried my hand at something a little different.

Truth be told I’m not a big tomato fan but I had some big organic tomatoes from the farmer’s market that needed to be used up so I halved them and popped them into the oven with some olive oil to roast – which for me makes them instantly more appetizing! How long they take depends on their size but after approximately 20 mins at 200.C flip them so they roast evenly on both sides then return for another 15 mins.

Then I set about frying 2 cloves of garlic in 1 tsp coconut oil with some sea salt over medium heat. After 1-2 minutes I added a chopped fresh red chili (seeds and all!). Once the garlic had started to turn golden I added 1 tsp of curry powder for 1 min, to release the flavour, then I added 1kg of chopped okra and 1 tbsp coconut oil. These veggies really soak up the oil and in order to get them soft and tender more oil than I would usually use is needed.

Leave the okra to cook over medium-low heat, tossing continuously for 25-30 mins.

Once the tomatoes are roasted, make space to fit them, flat side down on pan and continue to cook over a low heat for a further 10-15 mins. **Note: Don’t turn the oven off – you’ll need it again soon!

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Also, throughout this recipe, while the veggies are cooking you don’t need to stay tied to the stove – leave them to cook while you go about your business in the house and just toss occasionally to ensure they are cooking evenly and that the temperature is not too high.

Finally, crack 6 eggs into a bowl and whisk then pour over the okra and tomatoes so that all are covered and transfer the pan from the stove top to the oven to bake until set (approx. 6-8 mins).

Allow to cool slightly then slice and enjoy! Or this recipe also tastes great re-heated the next day so bring leftovers for lunch 🙂