So I was recently approached by Schwartz to review their ingredient ChatBot. The idea is you type in your ingredients and it generates recipes for you based on what you have in the fridge. I work a lot and sometimes am too exhausted to think about what I want for dinner and was up for giving it a go. At least I’ll learn some new recipes right?
I have to say; I was quite sceptical at first. I have previously used ingredient search websites and they have often given me extremely complicated recipes containing a number of ingredients I don’t have in the cupboard. However, I went into the trial with an open mind and as soon as I typed my first ingredients into the ChatBot on Facebook, I quickly had more faith in the tool; the responses were extremely quick. Here’s my week cooking with the ChatBot…
Monday: So the ingredients I typed in for my first evening cooking with the Schwartz ChatBot were salmon, broccoli, pepper and courgette. I entered the paprika for the spice and it generated over 400 recipes for me! The function to flick through them within Facebook was really effective and I selected the third recipe in the list – salmon skewers with spicy tomato sauce. The ChatBot offered the option to send it to my email, which worked really well and meant I could bookmark the recipe in my emails for later in the evening when I was ready to cook. Recipe I used is here.
The first thing that struck me was that there were obviously other ingredients needed in the recipe aside from those entered. Luckily on the way back from work I went via the supermarket, so could scoop up the extra bits I needed. The recipe was extremely simple and easy to prepare – but did also rely on you having a food processor to make the sauce, which could be problematic. This particular recipe also skipped a fairly important step regarding how you actually cook the skewers (bake/fry/BBQ). As someone who regularly cooks, I made the call to pop them in the oven for 16 minutes and they came out beautifully succulent and tasty. However, if you didn’t have basic culinary knowledge, that would have thrown you a little.

Schwartz Recipe 1.2

The finished product!

I served the salmon skewers with the spicy sauce and they were delicious. I had never created or consumed salmon on skewers before and I really liked the olive oil and parsley coating.  Although I definitely wouldn’t have the tomato sauce again – it came out really warm and liquidy.  However, I did eat the leftover salmon skewers on a bed of spinach for lunch the next day and the salmon was still really tasty cold. The whole process, including prep, took me around 30 minutes. I would definitely cook this again and adapt the recipe for future consumption.
 Wednesday: On this occasion I didn’t have time to go to the supermarket to pick up anything extra for the recipe, so I was purely relying on the recipe and what I had in the cupboards! The ingredients I entered were sausage, peppers, tomatoes and paprika for the spice. Again, it gave me over 100 recipes and this time I had to flick through a few more, to ensure I had the majority of the ingredients. I chose Chorizo and Tomato pasta, after scanning the recipe and my cupboards. I replaced the chorizo with the sausages and luckily, I had the tomato sauce ingredients to hand too. See the recipe I used here.
The recipe was very simple and clear. I added a little garlic to the homemade tomato pasta sauce and I cooked up gluten free pasta to accompany it. Dinner was ready in less than 15 minutes and was very tasty. To be honest, this is the kind of simple dinner I have quite regularly, so I didn’t feel any new dinner inspiration.

Schwartz Recipe 2

Simple sausage pasta with tomato sauce and peppers

Friday: I was particularly tired after this day at work, so I was really looking for something tasty, comforting and quick! I really adore prawns but often cook them in the same way. So to stimulate some new recipe ideas, I kept it simple for the ChatBot and entered prawns, chilli and tomatoes. It gave me over 300 recipes and I went for the third – Thai Prawn Curry. The recipe is here.
I did go to the supermarket to pick up extra ingredients – mainly the Schwartz 7 Thai Spice for the dish. This recipe was extremely simple and took about twenty minutes altogether. I served with fresh lime wedges and coriander on a bed of coconut rice, and thoroughly enjoyed the dish. I put the curry I didn’t eat in the freezer, meaning I now have a delicious meal to defrost when I’m short on time. This was a delicious and quick thai curry – but obviously didn’t beat a recipe created with fresh paste.
Essentially, The Bot is perfect for people on the go and needing recipe inspiration. Sometimes I stare blankly at my fridge ingredients, willing them to do something interesting and different with minimal effort from me when I’m exhausted. The Bot did take all thinking out of the equation, but does require a cupboard full of basic ingredients and some culinary experience.

Schwartz Recipe 3.3

Thai red prawn curry

If you want to check it out, visit Schwartz FB page and type in your ingredients in a Facebook message. The rest is easy!

*This is not a sponsored post. It was a genuine culinary experiment!*

BRYONY HOPKINS, A BELLY FULL OF BRYONY

bryonyhopkins

Working, whilst keeping up with life admin and juggling other life demands in general makes it extremely hard to eat healthy on the go. Never fear – I have you covered! Below are some extremely simple and healthy on the go lunches that will keep you full. The key idea here is preparation – and mass preparation at that! You can make up at least two or three batches of the good stuff below, and keep in a Tupperware in the fridge. (I told you organisation is key… as is actually remembering to take it out of the fridge in the morning!!)
On the go salads
I love a filling salad, and if I’m organised can make two or three at a time for my weekday lunches at work. I’ve formulated my go to salad combination – some kind of carb, a veggie filled salad, an animal protein (optional) and a sprinkle for crunch! Dressings also optional!
For the carb: New potatoes with a little olive oil and chives. Try rice mixed with spinach until it wilts, cold pasta with pesto or a little cheese or blanched noodles. Cold roasted sweet potato or other root vegetable also works well – butternut squash, parsnip etc. And not forgetting super grains! Quinoa, buckwheat, couscous and bulgur-wheat can all pad out your salad.
For the salad: lettuce, cucumber, avocado, beetroot, green beans (blanched and served cold), cold peas, sundried tomatoes olives, tomato peeled and a little fresh herb. Basil is my favourite.
FullSizeRender
Protein: Optional. I like to butterfly my chicken breast and fry until crispy, then slice onto my salad. Or find yourself some juicy king prawns. Crayfish is also a yummy addition. Also try bacon cut it into bits, or some lovely honey roasted ham. Tofu is another favourite – which I’ve used in this snap!
Sprinkle:I like a bit of crunch to top my salad. Go for pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, croutons or if you’re feeling really naughty, I sometimes sprinkle on crunched up tortilla chips!
Dressing:I would advise you to pop this into a separate container to avoid the salad getting soggy. One my favourite dressings is simple – teaspoon of tahini, olive oil and lemon juice. If you don’t have time to prepare a dressing, you can always pop a lime wedge in with your salad and squeeze over before you eat!
Rice cakes can be jazzy 
Rice cakes & corn cakes currently make up a large chunk of my diet. ricecakesbhThey are so versatile, cheap and easily digestible. They are also LOFFLEX – hurrah! Here are a few of my favourite rice cake combinations – easy to stick in a Tupperware for a light lunch or snacks.

  • Smashed avocado and basil – Mash avocado and basil with a touch of olive oil in a bowl and top your rice cake. By far my favourite topping.
  • Hummus & roasted jarred peppers – Either dip the rice cake straight into the hummus, or spread on top with some roasted jarred peppers.
  • Tomato and basil – Get yourself a big plum tomato and pit of all seeds. Chop into small pieces and pile on your rice cake with basil. So simple but yummy.

Frittata
Frittata is so easy to make and lasts for 2-3 days, so is perfect to prep, stick in a Tupperware and eat for quick and easy lunches! The best part of cooking a frittata is you can literally fill it with whatever you have in the fridge – so it’s perfect for using up leftovers and old veg! Here is a super simple way to cook up a frittata.
IMG_8004
Ingredients

  • 8 – 10 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk (or milk alternative, almond milk works well)
  • Cooked vegetables (literally anything goes here – peas, green beans, onion, peppers, asparagus)
  • If you’re a meat eater, try some bacon, chorizo or even ham
  • Salt & pepper and some dried herbs (whatever your preference is – chives, oregano, thyme)
  • Fresh herbs if you fancy – I like a little bit of basil

Beat together the eggs with the milk, dried herbs and salt and pepper. Whisk until fully combined in a large bowl and then add your cooked veggies. Meanwhile, get a shallow medium sized saucepan on the heat with some butter/coconut oil/olive oil on a medium heat. Add the egg and vegetable mixture so it fully covers the pan.
Meanwhile, heat the grill to 180C. Let the frittata cook on the hob for around 4-5 minutes, or until the edges go golden and cook. Now transfer to the grill for 5 minutes to cook the top.
Slice up and serve hot with salad or separate into Tupperware’s and enjoy for a quick and filling lunch!
BRYONY HOPKINS, A BELLY FULL OF BRYONY

bryonyhopkins

Long gone are the days where we all have time to sit down and properly enjoy breakfast on a weekday. I am finding that my breakfasts are becoming increasingly flighty and I know I am not the only one! Sometimes I find myself eating a nut bar for breakfast and I’m ALWAYS so dissatisfied and hungry after about an hour!
IMG_7987
These are a few of my favourite and easy on the go breakfasts. Prepped in advance, these can be eaten at your desk, in the car, on the train – well; they can be eaten pretty much anywhere! make sure you scroll to the bottom for the most versatile and delicious recipe of them all!
 Chia Seed Pudding
Chia seeds are an absolute powerhouse of goodness and so its no surprise they are classified a superfood. High in zinc, calcium, iron and many other vitamins, this breakfast is an excellent way to kick start the day. Prep this the night before and store in the fridge for the morning!
3 tablespoons chia seeds
250ml almond milk (although any other nut milk would work!)
1 tbspn date syrup or honey
1 tspn cinnamon
Suggestions for the topping: nut butter, desiccated coconut, fresh fruit, pumpkin seeds, dried nuts and fruit

This couldn’t be simpler. Mix the chia seeds with the milk in a jar or airtight container. Add the date syrup or honey and the cinnamon. Mix together and then leave in the fridge overnight (or for 8 hours until it’s set). Top with whatever you fancy in the morning – I like fruit and desiccated coconut!

IMG_7989

Overnight oats to the left and chia seed pudding on the right

Overnight Oats
Another super easy breakfast that can be prepped and stored in the fridge overnight for grab and go in the morning. Try this super simple base recipe and adapt the toppings!
100g of coconut yogurt
150g rolled oats
150ml of coconut milk
1 tbspn chia seeds (optional)
2 tbspn of sweetener (maple syrup, honey, date syrup)
1 tspn of cinnamon or ginger

Combine all the ingredients together and put in an airtight container in the fridge. Leave for 4 hours or preferably overnight!
Top with: granola, fresh fruit, dried fruits and nuts, nut butter, coconut or jam!
Granola
IMG_7921
Granola will take a little longer to prep but it is so worth it to have this in the fridge. Once baked and cooled, granola can pretty much go with anything. Can be served with yogurt in a Tupperware to take to work or even on top of your chia seed pudding or overnight oats! Here is a super simple granola recipe to get you going.
IMG_7922
2 tspn coconut oil
125ml maple syrup
2 tbspn honey
1 tspn vanilla extract                                                                            
100g macadamia nuts
200g rolled oats
50g pumpkin seeds

100g pecans

100g cashew nuts
100g dried fruit
50g flaked coconut

Heat the oven to about 180C.
Mix the coconut oil, maple syrup, honey and vanilla in a large bowl. Tip in all the ingredients, apart from the coconut and dried fruit and mix.
Tip the granola across a baking tray (use two if need be).Bake for 20 minutes and then add the coconut and dried fruit. Bake for another 5-10 minutes until beautifully golden brown (and your kitchen smells divine!)DON’T LET THEM BURN! Keep checking and turning in the oven whilst cooking. Let cool and store in an airtight container. Serve with fresh fruit or yogurt!
BRYONY HOPKINS, A BELLY FULL OF BRYONY

bryonyhopkins

With easter round the corner, I’m sharing a super simple recipe for vegan and gluten free chocolate truffles. They are sooooo delicious and decadent and the best part is, you can customise them to your taste! This recipe makes around 20-25 truffles and they keep in an airtight container for weeks! Make ahead and it makes a perfect easter treat <3

IMG_4986

INGREDIENTS

For the truffles:

  • 300g dairy-free dark chocolate
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 240ml light coconut milk
  • Teaspoon of peppermint/orange/vanilla/almond/coffee extract (I personally love peppermint flavour!)

For the topping:

  • Cacao or carob powder
  • Desiccated coconut
  • Chopped up nuts

 METHOD
1. Break the chocolate up into little pieces in a large bowl. Add the coconut oil and coconut milk to the bowl. Mix together and transfer to a saucepan. Heat the mixture on a low heat, until the chocolate is fully melted and combined with the coconut oil and coconut milk.
2. Remove the warm mixture of coconut milk, coconut oil and chocolate from the stove and transfer back into the bowl.  Add your desired extract and gently mix together.

IMG_4985

It doesn’t matter if they are random shapes and sizes – adds character!

3. Leave the mixture to stand and cool down for at least 30 minutes to an hour – until it is completely cool.
4. Cover the bowl in cling wrap and transfer to the fridge. Leave to cool for four hours – or even overnight.
5. When the mixture is nearly set, remove from the fridge. If it’s been in overnight, you may have to allow the mixture to warm for 15-20 minutes.
6. Now the fun part! Get yourself a few bowls and fill with your desired toppings. Use a teaspoon to scoop small amounts of the chocolate truffle mixture and roll them into balls in your hands. Now roll them in your favourite toppings! I personally love cacao powder, chopped nuts and desiccated coconut.
7. Repeat until your mixture is finished! Store the truffles in an airtight container in the fridge and enjoy after a dinner… or even with a cup of tea! 🙂
Really would love to hear what you think of these! Get in touch 🙂 I’m on Twitter @BryonyEHopkins or Instagram @abellyfullofbryony.
img_1729

bryonyhopkins

This Friday 7th April is World Health Day – but what does it actually mean to be healthy? For me, being healthy is having a handle on practical things you can do to make your life easier and make you feel better about yourself. If you feel better about yourself, your body and your emotions, then surely that is a one way ticket to feeling healthier.  So where should you be looking to feel healthier? You should be looking at YOU!
Perhaps you could start by asking yourself some of the following questions…
How is your health?IMG_4859
Okay maybe this is an alarmingly obvious question, but often we neglect to ask ourselves. How is your health? Are you on an even keel, or are you particularly tired? Are you in any pain or rundown? Are you feeling in good shape? Are you feeling happy with your body? There is often no easy ways to answer these if you have a chronic condition. Like me, suffering from Crohn’s Disease, I’m never quite sure how my health is! But I can recognise when I am over worked, over tired and stressed and I know that these are vital keys which can unlock a whole host of problems for me! It might be worth also giving my Listening to Your Body article a read, to help you get more in tune with your body! Answering all of these honestly will get you straight on the path of figuring out what tweaks you need to make to your lifestyle to start feeling healthier.
What are you eating? Is it making you feel good?
This can be a hard question to answer but I think it’s vital to start working out where you’re at with happy and healthy eating habits. Essentially – it’s not just about what you eat, it’s also about how you feel about eating. Our emotions are strongly linked to our eating habits – I think we’ve all reached for chocolate or ice cream when we’re feeling low.

IMG_5010

I switch to really easy foods when my stomach is playing up – like this simple turkey noodle soup

So really this question is about honestly asking yourself if your food choices are making you PHYSICALLY happy. Sure, chocolate may feed an emotion, but how do you physically feel after? For me, I love cheese (like, really love cheese), but it was making me so bloated and giving me terrible stomach pains. Despite the fact I loved it, I knew I had to cut it out and it turned out that it was dairy entirely which was causing me problems. Sure it takes willpower to cut out something you love, but if you feel better afterwards it’s a no brainer! I discovered this by writing a food diary and documenting all the things I had eaten that day and how I felt afterwards/later at the day. I think this is a fabulous way to get in sync with how your body is reacting to what you put in your mouth. Evaluating and understanding what you’re eating and how it’s making you feel is the first stop to feeling better and healthier about your diet.
Are you exercising?
We are absolutely barraged with advice on how we should be exercising these days. Running, weights, HITT, yoga, Pilates… but really you need to find w

IMG_4429

Me pre yoga at The Life Centre, in Notting Hill, London

hat works for you. I find it completely overwhelming sometimes, and that’s even before people have started telling you what they do to stay fit! You have to go with what feels right for you and not what everyone is telling you. I have friends who do PT sessions – but I sure as hell couldn’t think of anything worse! Instead, I signed up for a beginners yoga class and learnt the basics. It’s good for all of us to exercise – but there’s no point doing a fitness regime you hate.
Are the people around you making you happy?
Another hard question to answer, but it’s worth considering what your support network is like around you and do they actually make you happy?! This could be a colleague you always talk to or a friend who drains the life out of you… if you’re not getting anything out of a relationship, is it a relationship worth having?
How do you relax?
Arguably, I think this is the most important question of them all! How do you get your ‘me time’? It might well be exercising – or it could be reading a book, watching your favourite TV programme, meditating or practicing mindfulness.  Whatever it is, make sure you’re making time to actually do it! A relaxed soul is a happy soul – and a happy soul is a healthy soul!
Happy World Health Day 🙂
img_1729

bryonyhopkins