Cider Poached pears with spices and toasted almonds

At the July residential yoga weekend, I wanted a dessert that would be light, yet full of flavour and would round off a fairly substantial meal without leaving guests with that “heavy” feeling. This was a huge hit, and I’m delighted that this recipe will be featured in the December issue of Bee Green Magazine, but just for subscribers. In the meantime, here’s a sneaky peek:

This is such an easy recipe to make. It would be a lovely way to end a meal with friends and it doubles (or triples!) up easily too. The orchard on the farm is full of pears, plums and apples right now, and I can’t wait to make the most of the season’s bounty at our next Yoga weekend in October. There are still places left, so if a weekend of yoga and delicious food in the depths of the Dorset countryside sound good, do get in touch.

Ingredients (serves 4)
4 firm ripe pears (Conference pears work well)
500ml bottle cider (medium/dry)
50g demerara OR golden granulated/caster sugar OR Honey/Maple Syrup/Agave
1 cinnamon stick or 1tsp ground cinnamon
6 cardamom pods (swap for cloves, all spice or ground nutmeg for a more “festive” vibe)
1-2 tsp pink peppercorns
60g toasted, flaked almonds
Extra thick cream, greek yogurt or coconut yogurt, to serve.

Method
Peel the pears, leaving the stalks on and set aside. Place the cider, sugar and spices into a large saucepan with a lid, give it a good stir, then place the pears in and put the lid on. Simmer over a medium heat for around 20-30 minutes, or until a round bladed knife passes easily through the thickest part of the pear. Carefully, remove the pears from the poaching liquid using a slotted spoon, set aside and keep warm. Turn the heat up under the poaching liquid, and with the lid off, reduce until thickened and syrupy. Remove the cardamom pods and the cinnamon stick but keep the peppercorns in. Put the pears into individual serving dishes, spoon over the syrup and sprinkle with toasted almonds then serve with a dollop of cream or your favourite yogurt or dairy-free alternative on the side.

 

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5 things to make your New Year’s resolutions easier to keep… Pre-solutions!

Pre-solutions? Things you do before Christmas to make your New Year resolutions easier to keep.

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GET A GRIP – Everywhere you turn, piles of pointless calories: tubs of sweets, mini
chocolate bars, bowls of crisps and peanuts, mince pies, and (my favourite) cheese footballs. You’re going to need a steely resolve to avoid these so rather than feeling sorry for yourself, recognise that the instant gratification you get for saying, ‘No thanks’, is worth ten times the long-term misery of succumbing.

 

lowres-0178TONE UP YOUR LIVER – Use your exercise routine to stimulate liver circulation by adding some deep stretches and working your arms more. We tend to think that twists will help, and they do, but using the strength of your arms, and stretching them over your head allows access to the liver. (Look out for the New Year Yoga Routine coming soon!) Foods to eat include sprouted grains/seeds/legumes, micro-algae, spices and herbs – cumin and turmeric – and lightly cooked brassicas like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and (guess what?) brussel sprouts! Avoid sugar, and carbs generally – you really only need 130g per day, a few small potatoes and the odd slice of bread, but more about that in the New Year blog.

 

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3:2:2 – Alcohol, and managing your intake needs careful planning. Divide your weekdaysinto blocks of days 3:2:2. Look at your diary and map out the points during the festive season when drink will be the theme. Then, depending on your natural habits, order your blocks of days into non-alcohol, low-alcohol and party time. This is a much better system than all or nothing. You can use one of the goal setting apps to keep track – I like HabitHub.

 

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PLAN AHEAD – Forewarned is forearmed: if you’re going to make a success of this, and above all enjoy yourself, you need to plan ahead so you can have the kind of Christmas season you won’t regret afterwards. Take each day as it comes and think through how you’ll avoid the trip wires: exercise first thing, don’t skip proper meals, carry healthy snacks with you, and if you’re eating out, make sure there’s water on your table, not just wine!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! We’re all human and we won’t get it right every day of the holiday season. So put yesterday behind you and concentrate on getting today right and you will be moving in the right direction. Give your body and mind a merry Christmas and a happy New Year too!

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Vegan Stuffing Balls – a cool yule canapé!

Got vegan guests coming and don’t know what to serve as a snack? Try these stuffing balls – no one will be complaining, even the carnivores! My recipe is inspired by Green Goddess Mel Wells’ stuffing, and I have cooked it for the past few years for my boyfriend’s nieces, one of whom is veggie and the other has serious allergies to gluten, eggs and dairy.
Ingredients:sous-vide-quiona-finishing-steps-image-0
750ml good quality vegetable stock
3 sticks of celery, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, puréed
1 large white onion, diced
1 red onion, diced
fresh herbs – oregano, thyme, sage
good quality sea salt
225g chopped mushrooms
About half a loaf of gluten-free bread, crumbed
1 cup Quinoa
Some nuts or seeds
1/2 cup dried cranberries or prunes
2 finely chopped apples
NOTE – for a lower-carb option you could replace some of the breadcrumbs with oat bran.
Method:
Rinse the quinoa and cook it to the instructions on the packet. This usually takes about 15-20 mins.
Whilst the quinoa is cooking, using a large frying pan, gently fry the onions and celery in a little oil until they are soft and starting to colour, but don’t let them catch in the pan. Once they have softened, add the garlic for a few minutes and then the mushrooms and herbs, and continue to cook all the veggies for another 10 minutes on a low heat.
Once all the veg has softened, take a big mixing bowl and mix together the veg, quinoa, breadcrumbs, and the rest of the ingredients, adding the stock a little at a time. It should form a thick, sticky mixture that you can roll into bite-sized balls. Don’t worry if the mix is a bit loose – as long as they will form a roundish shape, it’s totally fine.
Place the stuffing balls onto a baking sheet and cook in a hot oven (around 200*c) for 10-12 mins. You don’t want them to be too dry, but slightly crips on the outside. The other option is to pop into a ceramic baking dish and then slice it up after its baked.

DSC_0060They can be served hot with mushroom gravy (for the vegan guests) or go against the grain (sorry – couldn’t help myself!) and wrap them in bacon and serve with a meaty gravy. They’re also really tasty with a cranberry jelly dip 🙂

 Merry Christmas – Love Hayley x

Detox your skin… Before January!

d3b177_a38b24c6323f40fcb0658d45f1c440b7~mv2It’s all very well waiting until the new year to start taking better care of yourself, and indeed it is the season to indulge. Remembering to take care of yourself in between all the parties doesn’t have to take up too much of your time, and will make all the difference in how you view yourself come January.

In summer we take extra care in protecting our skin with SPF and aftersun, but very often similar precautions are not taken during winter, unless you have very dry skin. The combination of cold weather (particularly cold at the moment!) and a few too many boozy nights out can have a drastic effect on your skin’s balance and lustre, leaving it a rather limp combination of dehydrated but still quite oily, with accentuated lines and wrinkles and the odd spot or blemish. Add to this the week long bender that is Christmas and New Year (enter goose fat roasties and daily cheeseboard) and by the time January comes around, you are ready for a three week juice cleanse and a week-long stint in a Harley Street Clinic.

All this got me thinking about which products I would recommend for this busy time, and so I decided to launch our newest addition to the Lovegrove Essentials range before Christmas. May I present the Clean & Natural Kit – a travel sized companion that will keep all skin types clean, balanced and hydrated throughout the party season. It contains one of my favourite things in the world. A clay mask. But not your average clay mask, as many can be very drying, particularly if dryness is already an issue for you.

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The Aromatic Face Mask from Lovegrove Essentials (previously only available in the professional range) contains coconut oil, which is blended into the Kaolin and Bentonite Clay base by hand, helping to stop the dry, cracking feeling that clay can often cause. The essential oils are Geranium (nature’s balancer, will detox even the most congested skin), Sweet Orange (deeply cleansing and brightening, lots of Vitamin C) and Neroli (great for regeneration at cellular level, antioxidant and reduces inflammation). As well as the powerful skincare benefits of this blend, the heavenly fragrance will soothe and relax you in the evening, promoting restful sleep. If you used this once a week during December, taking one night off just for yourself, you’d wake feeling refreshed and energised, and totally ready for the next Christmas drinks party. We’ve included a mask brush (cruelty-free, of course) for super-easy application, and a soft cloth to remove it.

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The other product in the kit is the ever popular, multi award-winning Cleansing Balm – a hydrating and luxurious blend of rice bran wax (vegan), Shea butter, Sweet Almond and Apricot Kernel Oils. It melts to a liquid at body temperature, allowing you to perform a little massage when cleansing. This will boost the circulation in your face, reducing puffiness and softening lines and wrinkles. It removes all forms of make-up, and comes off easily with the muslin cloth that’s also included with the kit.

 

So if you, like me, have not much self control (and several birthdays in the run up to Christmas, including my own), combat hangover skin with the Clean & Natural Kit. Take at least one night off each week, catch up on sleep and look after yourself. Your skin and your body will thank you! Read Hannah’s PRE-SOLUTIONS too, and make January that little bit easier…

The Clean & Natural Kit is available on the Lovegrove Essentials website at £34.95 plus postage.