Author Archives: Frances

Bloom in the Park

I was thrilled and excited to be contacted by Imagine Marketing asking me if I would be interested in partaking in some cookery demonstrations this year in Bloom in the Park. This is such a prestigious annual flower and culinary show that I was more than delighted to participate. 

I was asked to send in a short demo video of me preparing some food. This I happily did with my husband acting as camera man and director! Not having any professional equipment or previous experience of vlogging we had to rely on his iPhone, cartoons in the sitting room for the children with me conducting the demo as efficiently as possible to try to get an idea of my style of food across on camera. 

Smoothies, being a regular part of my diet, was an obvious choice to prepare, given the limitating factors. 

Having sent in the demo, Imagine Marketing had me narrowed down as a finalist! I was asked to meet the team in their offices in Dublin. With two young children under the ages of four years, it is amazing how much planning was needed regarding childcare arrangements or the possibility of them accompanying me. I decided a phone conversation was probably more practical. 

Shortly into the phone call I felt I was not a suitable candidate as four full days, 6 hrs per day and having to use eggs as a main ingredient unfortunately brought this exciting venture to a close. Being vegetarian but rarely cooking or eating eggs I didn’t feel I suited the brief. Next year perhaps!! 😀

Tickled Pink 💗

Smoothies are all the rage these days. There are few homes that don’t boast of the benefits of a Nutribullet or if you’re lucky enough a Vitamix. These machines might seem like a passing trend in terms of culinary equipment, however I’m converted. 

Green smoothies loaded with spinach have been my staple breakfast for years. The energy gained, compared to ingesting a standard westernised breakfast is incomparable. 

I’ve decided to deviate from my standard smoothie a few weeks ago in favour of a lighter fruitier version. This smoothie is absolutely delicious and more like a dessert! Packed with whole grains, seeds, nut butter, fruits and plant based milk it is a powerhouse of energy to supply you with numerous essential nutrients for your day. 

 • 1 banana

80g frozen mixed berries 

1tsp almond butter

30g oats

2 heaped tbsp milled mixed seeds 

 250mls hemp milk 


Pop all ingredients into a blender ( I use the Nutribullet) and blend until smooth. 

Serve in your favourite glass 😀💗
Here’s the juicy bit. . . 


We’ve all read of the importance of chewing our food correctly. It’s a simple rule but greatly benefits digestion and aids in the release of macro and micronutrients. 

Digestion starts in the mouth and signals the release of digestive enzymes, acid production in the stomach and bile to be released from the gall bladder. A cascade of  activity as you innocently chew your breakfast over the morning paper. 

If meal times are rushed, food may not be chewed sufficiently leaving  a lot of work for the stomach and intestines. These organs have to try and digest the food into their absorbable form so that we can utilise the fats, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals enabling us to carry out our numerous functions.

The benefit of blending food, as in smoothies, aids better digestion and the release of micronutrients from their bonds. 

If undigested food particles pass into your bloodstream, the immune system views these allergens as a potential threat which can lead to inflammation in the body and various ailments associated with inflammation. 

The simple rule  is — take time over each meal and chew your food well. 🍽


Trying to come up with varied evening meals everyday for the kids can be a bit of a challenge. Sometimes the meal choices can feel a bit repetitive and trying to eat healthy whole foods is not always convenient even with best intentions and weekly meal planning. 

It’s important to me that children are educated about food and the impact ones meals choices have on ones health, the environment and of course on animal welfare. I like to get our children involved in the food shop, cooking, baking and juicing. They seem to enjoy it too! 

After collecting my son from school one day he asked for pizza for dinner. Bingo, that took that decision out of my hands! I hadn’t got the kids to help me make pizza previously so I thought this could be an interesting meal to prepare together. It turned out to be a successful mini adventure with the kids and a tasty meal! 

I had wholemeal tortillas which I used as the pizza base. I got my son to spread tomato purée on the base. Together we grated some cheddar and he sprinkled this on top. I chopped some peppers and courgettes into bite size pieces and gently fried them on the pan in coconut oil until soft. I diced some fresh pineapple in bite size pieces too. Ciarán loved trying to evenly spread the various topping on the pizza. Finally I put a small amount of frozen corn on last. Into the oven for 8 minutes and voilà, a homemade pizza by a 4 year old!!

A great convenience about baking homemade pizza is that you can really choose any topping that you have in your fridge/freezer and cupboards. Red onion, pesto, olives, tomatoes, artichokes, mushrooms etc. It makes a reasonably nutritious meal and easy to include the little ones and get everyone involved. 


• Tortilla wrap or Pizza base. (If its convenient to make a cauliflower base this would be even better!!)

• Tomato purée 1-2 tbsp. Less is more here. ( again if it’s convenient puréed fresh tomatoes would be a fresher choice)

• grated cheddar enough to spread over your pizza base of choice. If avoiding dairy dots of pesto works well as a more nutritious option. 

• Half courgette diced into bite size pieces

• Half red pepper diced into bite size pieces

• Handful of pineapple diced into bite sized pieced

• Small handful of frozen corn


Turn oven to pizza setting or set to 200C

Put a tsp of coconut oil in a frying pan and gently fry the courgettes and pepper until soft, usually 10-12 minutes. 

Assemble the pizza starting with the tomato purée by using the back of a spoon to spread it across the pizza evenly. 

Next sprinkle the cheese on top. 

Follow with your veggie toppings.

Place in the oven or 8-10 minutes until the cheese melted and bubbling. 

Here’s the juicy bit. . . 


Cheese is quite often the last food most give up when trying to go on a fully plant based diet. This is understandable. Cheese has a high fat content food so gives a feeling a satiety. It is not unusual for most to eat cheese daily, increasing our taste for cheese. 

However one of the greatest reasons that most find cheese so hard to stop completely is due the protein casein found in it. 

Casein has an opioid-like effect on the body. This drug-like effect increases our desire and cravings thereby making it difficult to stop eating.

As casein is digested, it breaks down into peptides called casomorphines. These have an opioid effect ( and release histamines which in turn produces mucus. Ever advised to give up dairy if you have a productive cold?) Opioids are highly addictive and give a feeling of euphoria . Now I’m guessing you’ve never eaten cheese and got a ‘high’ however overtime and with regular eating, one eventually  craves cheese regularly. 

The casein in cheese is more concentrated than in milk. It takes 10lbs of milk to make one l lb of cheese. In this process a lot of the water is removed and remaining is concentrated volumes of fat and casein. This probably explains why cheese and not milk is the more difficult dairy product to give up. 

I haven’t tried any non-dairy cheese alternatives. However if I order pizza out I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find a growing number of restaurants offering cheese free pizzas. At home I’ll either use cheddar sparingly or substitute with a few small dollops of pesto. 

Otherwise as an alternative on sandwiches I try to opt for avocado, nut butters & banana, or hummus. 

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Stuffed Tomatoes.


I’ve been trying to come up with alternatives to feast day dinners and Sunday roasts so that I don’t feel left out on these celebratory meals. This dish is very satisfying and definitely ticks all the boxes for me. The goats cheese gives the filling a creamy, risotto like taste. The beef tomato easily boosts your veg intake for the day and is inexpensive. I usually have green salad on the side but homemade coleslaw or potato wedges are also good options.  


Portions  – 2 people 

 Prep – 10 minutes. 

Cooking – 30 minutes.


  •  4 beef tomatoes
  • 160g brown rice, rinsed. Cooked according to instructions
  • 8 cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée 
  • 2 tsp fennel 
  • 6 tsp goats cheese 
  • 40g of walnuts
  • Salt and pepper to taste


 Preheat fan oven to 180C

Wash the Tomatoes and run a sharp knife around the top of each one. Pull the tops off and slice off any seeds attached to it. Scoop out the flesh on the inside of the tomatoes and place into a pot. 

Add the cherry tomatoes, tomato purée and salt & pepper to the pot with the tomato flesh and simmer on a low to medium heat. Allow the tomatoes to reduce and their flavour to intensify. This simmering reduces the acidity of tomatoes and enables their natural sweetness to come through. 

In a dry pan fry the fennel seeds for 30 seconds approx and add to the tomato mixture.

Put the brown rice into a pot and cook as instructed. 

Place the beef tomatoes and walnuts on separate baking trays and pop into the oven. 

After approx 5 minutes remove the walnuts from the oven and set aside.

The tomatoes should only need 10-15 minutes approx to soften slightly depending on their size. Once they are beginning to soften remove from the oven and set aside.

If there is a lot of juice in the tomatoes after baking you could add this liquid to the tomato and fennel mixture. 

Once the rice is cooked and the tomato and fennel mixture has reduced and tasting delicious add the rice to the tomato pot and combine. 

Next add the goats cheese and walnuts. It will become very creamy risotto like. 

Finally fill the beef tomatoes with the ‘ risotto’ mixture and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes until bubbling and delicious.

Remove from the oven and enjoy with coleslaw and green salad. Yummy! 

Here’s the juicy bit. . . 


 Its generally accepted that the health of your digestive system is paramount for your overall health. What you feed yourself can determine the effeciency of your gut and overtime may determine your ability to effectively digest and assimilate nutrients from your food and excrete waste products and toxins from what you’ve ingested.

Excess stress, alcohol, tobacco smoke, anti-nutrients, low fibre, excess sugar and processed foods all play a role in reducing gut health. Conditions like leaky gut, candida, IBS, chrons, constipation, diarrhoea, bloating, diverticulitis, can either be; linked to diet solely,  greatly improved by or exasperated by what you eat. If our digestive system can’t work at its optimum and be able to extract the nourishing foods from our diet and excrete toxins efficiently this can have a knock-on effect on all our other systems. It is said that 80% of our immune system is in our gut! 

Gluten is a buzz word in health diets nowadays. Gluten is a sticky protein found in many grains. Wheat, barley and rye being the biggest offenders. Many people find this protein difficult to digest and can upset the digestive systems efficiency.

Brown rice is a gluten free grain. This is good news for your digestion. You won’t feel bloated or sluggish after eating brown rice. Quinoa, gluten free oats, lentils, buckwheat, millet and amaranth are great alternatives, without the gluten. 

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Nutty Chocolate Frozen Squares.


It’s summertime and these little beauties will go down a treat while relaxing in the sun or at the end of a long day. My kids love these ( well it helps that I tell them it’s chocolate ice cream!!) There are so many different variations to these squares. I’ve experimented with a lot of various takes on this basic vegan recipe but this version is soo moreish and definitely my personal favourite. Like the majority of the recipes I post it’s easy to make, doesn’t take much time, tastes great and is very nutritious. The tahini and almond butter alone give about 6.5% of the RDA of calcium per square, great for vegans or people who avoid dairy. The raw cacao is abundant with antioxidants and coconut oil is a fantastic source of good fat. The key I’ve found when serving vegan food to unsuspecting friends & family is to remain silent. Some can be quite sceptical about eating vegan food and can make an ill pre judgement. Once they taste these squares they’ll definitely ask for more. 

Makes 16 delicious squares

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil 
  • 2 tbsp raw cacao powder 
  • 60mls maple syrup 
  • 90g light tahini 
  • 90g crunchy almond butter


My son grabbing a cheeky taste!

Line a square tin ( I used my sons lunchbox)  with cling film and leave generous amounts hanging over the edges so that you can cover the chocolate mixture completely in cling film. 

Melt the oil and maple syrup in a pot over a low heat. Once melted, add the tahinni and almond butter and stir quickly until combined. Next add the raw cacao and stir well until combined.  

Promptly transfer the chocolate mixture into your prepared lined container and cover with the extra cling film. 

Pop into the freezer for 4 hours approx until hard. 

Remove from the freezer and carefully take off the cling film. 

Cut the slab into 16 squares and its best enjoyed after being allowed to rest out of the freezer for a couple of minutes.

Store in the freezer.


Here’s the juicy bit. . . 

Coconut oil is definitely a cupboard stable in our home. It’s so versatile. Fantastic for sautéing vegetables, great alternative to butter for most baking and my essential beauty cream for body and face! 

Coconut oil has a high smoke point which means it remains stable when exposed to heat of a certain temperature. This is a great oil to use when sautéing vegetables. Other oils can go rancid easily when exposed to light, oxygen and high heat can create toxic compounds which can lead to internal inflammation and various conditions. There is a slight coconut flavour of the oil which I really like but if you’ve a sensitive palate there is a ‘mild’ version available. 

Coconut oil is very high in saturated fats however they are not like the saturated fats found in meat and animal products. The majority of the saturated fat is made up of lauric acid. Lauric acid is the fatty acid that is found in breast milk. It is metabolised differently. The fats are transported directly to the liver where they are broken down as though they were carbohydrates, for energy. Coconut oil is mainly made up of medium chain fatty acids (MCT). These fatty acids don’t get stored in the body as fat, as easily as other fats. 

I love to use coconut oil as a body moisturiser once a week. It’s incredibly moisturising and makes your skin feel amazingly soft. A couple of nights per week I use coconut oil as a face and eye moisteriser. I think you’ll find it hard to get a more effective cream. In my opinion it beats the high price beauty brands hands down and is so inexpensive!