In the kitchen

Two treats to get you through January

So you’re trying to healthy and you’re doing dry January? How’s that going for you one week in? Don’t worry if you’re struggling because I’ve got two things that might help you out:

seedlipI am not doing dry-January (I don’t drink that much anyway) but I was introduced to it at Christmas and if you have given up alcohol I think this might save you! My first reaction when this was pulled out was ‘Eh?’, ‘No really, eh?’. It’s fair to say it took me a while to get my head around the concept and quite frankly the point – why not just have gin? (is also the question I propose in most situations). After the initial shock, I actually realised what a great idea it is. Rather like raw brownies, it’s not the same as gin but it is similar enough and tasty enough for it not to matter. And actually, if you have it with some tonic and the recommended ribbon of cucumber it’s really not far off. If you cannot or do not want an alcoholic drink this a pretty good replacement.

So what actually is it?: There are two types of these distilled non-alcoholic spirits. The one I have is Garden 108 which is a ‘bright, layered blend of individually distilled homegrown hay, hand-picked sweet peas and garden herb distillates: A celebration of  the English countryside.’ Check out their website to find out where you can get yourself a bottle, but seriously this is going to be a big this year.

I may not be doing dry-January but I am trying to get my diet back in shape. I started to get lazy at the end of last year opting for a bowl of pasta instead of something a bit more nutritious. I’m not cutting out anything just trying to eat a bit less of the bad things (pasta and chocolate are my major downfalls) and eat a bit more of the good things (salads and veg etc.). I’m also trying to plan my meals in advance so that I’m not trying to go to the shops and cook a big meal when I’m tired after work and so that I’m saving money and not wasting food. So far, week 1 has gone well. The problem I have is trying not to eat chocolate, especially as there is still some left over from Christmas! When you’re craving something sweet and there is a big tub of quality streets next to you, it shows immense will-power not to eat the whole box. The other day I was frantically trying to find something sweet to eat that wasn’t filled with sugar. I searched the internet and came across lots of recipes that required effort or worse still a trip to the shops. With the alternative being unwrapping a toffee finger I knew that effort or a trip to the shops filled with more exciting sweet snacks was not going to help me.

choc-spreadI came across a couple of recipes for hazelnut spread and I thought that I might be able to simplify the recipe and use ingredients that I already had. The recipe was essentially making a hazelnut butter and mixing in maple syrup and cacao powder. I didn’t have any hazelnuts or hazelnut butter but I did have some meridian peanut butter, maple syrup and cacao powder and I hoped that if I just mixed those together I’d be pretty close. It worked! I’ll admit it might have been better with my smooth almond butter but actually I quite like having some texture in it. Better still, it stopped me craving chocolate or sugar – result! Here’s the ratios that you need to make your own.


  • 1/2 part cacao (or cocoa) powder
  • 1 part maple syrup
  • 2 parts nut butter


Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Then place in a container and store in the fridge. It’s that quick and simple!

I’ve been eating mine straight from the jar but I’m hoping to make some oat cookies and I think this would be perfect to spread on top of them.


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