Toffee Caramel Popcorn

When it comes to making healthy snack decisions, popcorn is such a fantastic choice! One of the most amazing things about popcorn is that you can choose from so many different healthy toppings that it never has to get boring!

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Popcorn Nutrition

Popcorn generally only has around 30 calories per cup, making it a great snack for maintaining a healthy weight. As a wholegrain, popcorn also contains a beneficial amount of fibre as well as a dose of protein!

The problem with most ready made popcorn products is that they are usually covered in salt, butter or other unhealthy (but certainly tasty) ingredients.

My recipe for Toffee Caramel Popcorn is excitingly healthy AND a little bit sticky – perfect for those of you who enjoy a messy treat! With this recipe you will cook up a whole batch that you can either enjoy right away or store to eat on the go another time.

Ingredients:

1/2 a cup of popcorn kernels
1/2 a cup of maple syrup
1 tsp of almond extract
1/3 of a cup of almond butter (or any nut butter)
A dash of cinnamon
1 & 1/2 tbsp of coconut oil

Method:

First of all preheat your oven to 180C / 375F. Next, take a large pot and place it on the hob at a medium to high heat. Melt the coconut oil in the pan and then add your popcorn kernels. You can then put the lid on your pan and leave the kernels to do their thing! This will usually take around ten minutes but will vary so watch your pot closely. Once you start to hear more than five seconds between each pop then you will know that your popcorn is almost ready. As soon as it is ready you should remove the pan from the heat.

The next step is to make the caramel toffee sauce. To do this, take a mixing bowl and pour in the maple syrup, the almond butter, almond extract, and the cinnamon. Whisk the contents of your bowl until it becomes a smooth paste.

Next, pour your prepared popcorn onto a baking tray and pour the contents of the bowl over the popcorn. Try to drizzle it evenly but don’t worry too much as it will spread in the oven. Place the baking tray in the oven for seven minutes and your treat is then ready to enjoy!

Want to learn more about how eating more plant-based foods can enhance your health? Click here now to check out my starter guide!

White Bean Dip

If you haven’t discovered my YouTube channel yet then don’t worry! I am going to be bringing the videos from my channel straight to you here on my blog!

Today I want to share my recent White Bean Dip Recipe video! This dish takes less than ten minutes to create and is great for serving as a side during a dinner party, or also just as a snack for one!

Several of the ingredients in my White Bean Dip, such as the garlic and olive oil, are fantastic for providing your body with the energy that it needs, as well as being helpful for protecting the immune system. Additionally, the cannellini beans are an amazing source of fibre, making them great for weight loss and optimum digestion.

Turmeric is one of my star ingredients and is something that I try to include in my diet every single day. One of the best things about turmeric is that it is super anti-inflammatory, meaning it can keep levels of inflammation in the body at a positive level. It also helps to protect against the onset of certain health conditions, such as some types of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and liver damage.

Ingredients:

400g cannellini beans
1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp of turmeric
1 inch of fresh ginger, chopped
Pumpkin Seeds
Pistachios

Method:

Take the canned cannellini beans and drain the water before adding them to your food processor with a quarter cup of olive oil. You can then add in the tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, the teaspoon of turmeric, the minced garlic and the chopped ginger.

Blitz the contents of your food processor until your dip has the consistency of hummus. You can then scoop it out and place it into a bowl to serve. Top with pistachios and pumpkin seeds and you are good to go!

My YouTube channel is packed full of recipes, yoga, lifestyle advice, self-care tips and more! Click here to head there now and subscribe to be the first to know when new videos are released!

Exercise and Weight Loss

Losing weight is a common health and fitness goal for many people for a variety of reasons. There are many ways to go about achieving this fitness goal, but there is also a lot of misleading information that can actually sabotage weight loss efforts!

If you are trying to lose weight then it is likely that you have adjusted your diet and that you are also regularly engaging in some kind of exercise. The following points are things that you should bear in mind when you are exercising and try to incorporate into your existing efforts!

Cardio

Cardio is known to be a great way to lose weight, but it has to be approached in a sensible way. If you overdo it with your cardio workouts then you are going to be causing harm to your body, and this can have an impact on your weight loss. This is because excessive amounts of cardio can cause inflammation.

Overdoing it when it comes to cardio can also mean that you end up eating more as you have used up a great deal of your energy stores! When you do too much cardio you will also be allowing your body to release excess levels of stress hormones into your body. These hormones can not only disrupt your sleep pattern, but can also cause your body to store more fat.

Mixing up the types of cardio that you engage in, and the amount that you do, is key to success here. Team sports and dancing are exciting alternatives to a 5km on the treadmill!

Ab Exercises

Exercising your abs is a great way to tone these muscles for definition. Also, the strength of your core is an important component of your overall optimum health. However, when you over-do it with the ab exercises when you are trying to lose weight, you could hinder your efforts. This is because exercises that develop the abs will help to build a layer of muscle in this area, and this can go against the slimming down of your waistline!

During the first few months of your weight loss attempt, I would advise that you mostly utilise short periods of cardio – around 20 minutes max – and then engage in weight training exercises that work the larger muscle groups. As you move towards your desired weight, you can then begin to include exercises that target the smaller muscles in order to improve overall muscle tone.

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we keep moving through 2017!

My New Favourite Non-Alcoholic Beer

As with anything else, alcohol is something that should be enjoyed in moderation. And, the negative health effects of not heeding this advice can soon become apparent!

The number of people choosing to drink less, or not drink at all, is on the rise – which is of course great for the health of the nation! And for those of us who don’t necessarily want to drink alcohol, but still enjoy the pleasure of having a beer, there is an ever-impressive range of alcohol-free beers available!

Heineken Zero Alcohol Beer JulieMontagu

Stats show that drinking habits in the UK have experienced a change in the last 15 years, with alcohol consumption dropping by a massive 26% between 2002 and 2012! (Source).

Heineken have recently released their very own alcohol free beer, Heineken 0.0 and it is rapidly becoming a favourite amongst those abstaining. Made with the same high quality brewing process as their regular creations, the alcohol is then gently removed afterwards, leaving a slightly fruity taste with the usual malty flavour. I was able to attend the launch of Heineken 0.0 in Barcelona during the Grand Prix and it was heaven to sit on the beach and drink this delicious beer!

Spanish F1 Grand Prix - Heineken

So what are the health benefits of choosing the alcohol-free version of your drink of choice?

Well first of all, of course, there’s the calorie count. Non-alcoholic beers contain roughly half the calories of their alcoholic counterparts, making them a better option for those watching their weight. The new alcohol free Heineken 0.0, for example, has just 69 calories per bottle.

Secondly, drinking alcohol dehydrates your body, and your skin will be the most noticeable thing that pays the price for this! When you drink regularly, you will be depriving your skin of the vitamins and minerals it needs to look its best. You will probably have noticed that your face in particular looks puffy and dry after a night out!

Your body will benefit in many ways from sobriety, but your mind will also be much clearer and free of brain fuzz! What’s more is your memory will of course not be affected on a night out when you opt for a zero alcohol drink!

Is Your Sleep Cycle Causing You Harm?

Getting a full eight hours of undisturbed sleep every night is something that many of us are aware that we need to do, but the reality is that it is not always achievable!

There are many reasons why you might not get enough sleep – or enough good quality sleep. This could be because of a busy schedule that keeps you up late, a young child that wakes during the night, or perhaps disturbances from other sources, such as noisy neighbours!

Whatever the reason for a poor sleep cycle, it is important to address and work to resolve the problem in order to preserve and boost your health. The following issues can quickly appear when you are sleep deprived, and can lead to further health issues.

Fatigue

Fatigue can often be accompanied by a short temper and a lack of focus, which can quickly cause problems during your day! Being fatigued can also become a safety issue as your ability to drive and complete other tasks will become impaired.

Obesity

Studies have shown that those who sleep less tend to be at a higher risk of obesity. It has been suggested that this is because there is a higher presence of leptin when a person is sleep deprived. Leptin is the chemical that makes you feel full. Sleep deprivation also causes increased levels of ghrelin, which is the hormone responsible for stimulating hunger.

Illness

If a poor sleep cycle is a consistent problem then your immune system will soon become compromised and your overall health will suffer. This can contribute to the onset of relatively small health problems, such as a cough or cold, but can also lead to much more significant issues over time, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

The risk of developing diabetes appears to be particularly prevalent in those who regularly sleep for less than five hours each night.  This is thought to be because a lack of sleep changes the way that the body processes glucose.

If you are aware that your sleep cycle is becoming damaging to your health, and your life in general, then it is important to take steps to improve the length and quality of the sleep that you enjoy. This is something that I will be discussing in a blog post next week, so check back soon!

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we keep moving through 2017!

How to Handle Your Hormones

Mood swings can strike at any time and although there are certain common likely causes, it is something that can’t always be managed in the same way.

What Are Mood Swings

Your mood swings may be characterised by a variety of things, such as unexplained crying or unjustified irritability. It is important to remember that although your emotions may seem out of proportion, your feelings in each moment are still valid and true, and there is no need to beat yourself up about this!

Diet & Gut Health

A hormonal imbalance is a likely cause when it comes to mood swings, and this can be handled by addressing your lifestyle and making positive changes where necessary. This will largely be in relation to your diet. Your diet can impact your emotions in several ways, and it will also have an impact on the health of your gut. Your gut health is linked to your mood, and it is important to play close attention to this aspect of your overall health. The bacteria in your intestines will influence your hormones, and this of course will then impact your mood. So, a large presence of good bacteria will go a long way to helping!

Blood Sugar Levels

Keeping your blood sugar levels consistent is one of the best ways to keep your mood from fluctuating. You may think that skipping a meal will help you to lose weight, or save you time if you have a busy schedule. But doing so can actually wreak havoc with your hormones and leave you feeling annoyed, fatigued and generally unhappy. Fortunately, you can keep your blood sugar levels up by regularly eating nutritious foods, and avoiding processed foods and sugary snacks!

Sleep & Stress

In addition to your diet, certain lifestyle factors such as sleep will also influence your hormones and therefore your mood. When you do not get enough sleep your body will produce excess levels of cortisol – the stress hormone. This will put unnecessary stress on your adrenal glands, and can cause your serotonin levels to drop. Serotonin is super important for keeping your mood up, and you should always try to get between seven and eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. If you have trouble getting to sleep, or find that you are often waking in the night, then you may find some relief by drinking soothing herbal teas before you go to bed.

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we keep moving through 2017!

Chickpea and Avocado Salad

This salad is so incredibly simple to make that even with the busiest of schedules you could still whip it up for lunch for yourself every day! Gathering and preparing the ingredients will take less than five minutes and then you will be enjoying it in no time! This salad contains a delicious range of ingredients that are all bursting with nutrients. Choosing this recipe for lunch is a great way to boost your energy levels and your mood as you head into the afternoon, especially if you have begun to feel your energy drop mid-morning.

Cumin is a super nutritious spice and, in my opinion, isn’t used nearly enough in cooking! It is most popular in cuisines from the Middle East and India, but it brings such a great punch of flavour that it can really improve a wide range of dishes, both in terms of taste and nutrition. Studies have been conducted into the possible anti-diabetic properties of this healthy little seed. The results of these studies demonstrate that cumin can help to reduce low blood sugar. Cumin has been used throughout history to aid the digestive process and ease indigestion. It is also rich in magnesium which you must obtain through dietary sources as the body does not produce it.

Chickpea and Avocado Salad2.pngTo make this salad for two people you will need the following ingredients:

1 ripe avocado, diced
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, chopped
1 cup of black olives
2 cups of pre-cooked quinoa
400g of canned chickpeas, drained
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
A handful of fresh coriander, chopped
1/2 a cup of raw cashew nuts
1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
A dash of salt and pepper

Chickpea and Avocado SaladSimply add all of the ingredients into a big salad bowl and mix together well before serving onto two plates. It’s that simple! 

This is a recipe from an upcoming course on my e-learning portal, The Flexi Foodie Academy – head there now to check out what’s already on offer!

Broccoli and Cauliflower Pilaf

Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower have unique nutritional properties compared to other vegetables. This is because they are packed with phytonutrients—potent anti-cancer agents.

Broccoli is great for fighting disease in the body and can really help to keep you healthy when you consume it regularly. As with many foods, it is best for your body if you eat it raw, but there are still health benefits to be gained when you cook it first. Broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin C as well as vitamins A, E and K! Cauliflower is also fantastic for your health and can be very beneficail when consumed often. Cauliflower is particularly good for the immune system because of the folates and vitamin C found within. Your heart also stands to benefit when you eat cauliflower because it helps to lower your cholesterol levels.

To make this dish for two to three people, you will need the following ingredients:

1 tbsp of coconut oil
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 /2 a cup / 3oz / 100g of broccoli
1/2 a cup / 3oz / 100g of cauliflower
1 inch (2.5cm) of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 cups / 14oz / 400g of brown rice, cooked to packet instructions
1 tsp of ground turmeric
1 tsp of ground curry powder
1 tsp of ground chilli powder
1 tbsp of ground cilantro (coriander)
1⁄2 cup / 2 3 ⁄ 4oz / 75g of cashew nuts, chopped

Broccoli and Cauliflower Pilaf2To get started you will need to place the coconut oil in a large saucepan on a high heat to warm for a couple of minutes. You can then add the garlic and then gently sauté for two to three minutes.

The next step is to add the cauliflower and broccoli and continue to cook for 10 minutes, or until it becomes slightly crisp. You can then add the ginger and brown rice to the pan before stirring in the turmeric, curry powder, chilli, and cilantro. You must then reduce the heat and cook on a low setting for a further 10 minutes, adding a splash of water if the mixture becomes dry. Finally, divide between plates, garnish with cashew nuts, and serve immediately.

This is one of the recipes from my book – Eat Real Foods – which was released this week!!! You can order your copy in the UK by clicking here and order your copy in the U.S by clicking here!

French Green and White Bean Salad

Salads are among my favourite meals as they are so simple and quick to make whilst also being incredibly good for the body! By using a variety of ingredients in a salad you can quickly provide your body with the nutrients it needs to get through the day. This salad is perfect for lunch or dinner and will leave you feeling satisfied and nourished.

The crushed, toasted walnuts give this salad an interesting twist, both in terms of flavour and nutrition. As you may know, eating walnuts every day will help to protect your heart as well as work to lower your risk of developing certain cancers. This amazing nuts contain the plant-based omega-3 fat which is great for battling inflammation in the body. Omega-3 has also been linked with helping to prevent blood clots from forming. Studies have also shown that walnuts can aid weight loss efforts as well as boost the reproductive health of men.

Ready to make this healthy salad? It will serve two people as a main or four as a side! You will need the following ingredients:

250g of french white beans, rinsed and drained
150g of french green beans
2 large handfuls of spinach
2 large handfuls of rocket (arugula)
1 large handful of coriander
1 large handful of flat-leaf parsley
4 medium tomatoes, quartered
A large handful of walnuts, toasted and then crushed
1 avocado, cut into small chunks
2 spring onions, thinly sliced

For the dressing:

The juice of 1 lemon
The zest of 1/2 a lemon
2 Tbsp. of apple cider vinegar
1 shallot, finely diced
1 tsp. of dijon mustard

French Green and White Bean Salad2The first thing you will need to do is cook the french green beans for five minutes in a pot with boiling water. After this time you must remove them from the pan and drain and rinse with cold water. Next, in a large bowl, combine all of the salad ingredients together and toss well. Finally, in a small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients together and pour over the salad.

It is simply a stunning, green and ‘French’ salad that tastes fantastic! For more recipes like this one that will fill you with goodness, head over to The Flexi Foodie Academy!

8 Essential Books for Health and Wellbeing

With such a wealth of information available when it comes to health and nutrition, it can be hard to know who to trust and what to believe. There are so many varying diets that claim to help you lose weight whilst also improving health and wellbeing that settling on just one can be complicated! I find the best way to avoid this is to devote the time to reading a good book on the topic. Consuming an entire book is a fantastic way to truly understand a topic and can inspire and motivate you to stick to your fitness and dietary aims!

The following books are some of my absolute favourites when it comes to discovering new and interesting things about health and wellbeing. These books have shaped my understanding of eating for optimum health and I absolutely can’t recommend them enough.

Plenish

plenish_bookThis book by Kara M.L Rosen teaches the reader all about juices that boost, cleanse and heal. Kara’s book teaches us all about how consuming fresh, raw juices will boost your nutrient count whilst also helping your system to detox. The book continues to explain how your health will benefit immensely, keeping sickness at bay. There’s more than 40 recipes in this book for various juice blends which will rapidly leave you feeling rejuvenated!

Honestly Healthy Cleansehonestly_healthy_cleanse_book

This book is written by Natasha Corrett and is a fantastic and creative introduction to healthy cooking. Natasha is a gourmet vegetarian chef and she has created a series of recipe plans that hep to guide the reader towards a healthier lifestyle. Her plans incorporate a number of different food types to make up a well-rounded approach to good foods. There’s over 100 recipes in this book which promote optimum nutrition and natural weight loss.

healing_with_whole_foods_bookHealing with Whole Foods

Paul Pitchford has put together this fantastic book which is not only used as a reference by students of acupuncture but also by those looking to find out more about Chinese medicine. There are over 300 recipes in this book, the majority of which are vegetarian, and focus on regeneration through diet. Pitchford has written this book with the intention of educating his readers in the areas of healing, awareness and peace.

Eating for Beautyeating_for_beauty_book

David Wolfe is one of America’s leading experts on nutrition and this book explains how a diet full of fresh produce is the best choice for everyone. Not only does the book teach how these foods can promote natural beauty but also how they can cleanse the system and nourish the body. Although this book is easy to follow, it does delve into some scientific explanations as to why the chemical processes from certain foods affect us in such a negative way.

healthy_at_100_bookHealthy at 100

This book by John Robbins shows us how our life span and our general health can be improved vastly through healthy eating. Within the book, Robbins explores several different cultures and how people within those cultures have reached old age through eating well. Countless people have already been inspired by this book which also encourages people to live life to the full and be as happy as possible while their health improves.

The Healing Path of Yogathe_healing_path_of_yoga_book

Nischala Joy Devi is the writer of this amazing book and is a known pioneer of yoga and natural healing. The book explains how yoga can reduce stress and the importance of doing so due to the dangerous effects it has on our lives. Devi uses the book as a platform to share her years of wisdom in yoga practice and teaches people how to take greater control of their lives.

big_book_of_yoga_bookThe Women’s Health Big Book of Yoga

This book is full of fantastic yoga poses which will stretch and tone your body while also building muscle and improving your stamina. This book not only demonstrates many of these poses to us but also explains why they can improve our health, boost our sex drives, help us to lose weight and also to cleanse our bodies and minds!

Loving Yourself to Great Healthloving_yourself_to_good_health_book

Louise Hay, Ahlea Khadro and Heather Dane have come together with this book to transform lives by encouraging people to create their dreams. The book combines several theories of letting go of the things that limit us whilst also focusing on nutrition and health.

These books are all available on my e-store so click the title link to buy them for yourself!