Spiced Christmas Cookies


These cookies are the perfect sweet treat to munch on while putting up your tree this weekend. I bought the star cookie cutters from the Helen James line in Dunnes Stores for €3 to give these biscuits an extra festive feel. All of the ingredients can also be found in Dunnes so no need to head off on a wild goose chase. Enjoy! 


2/3 cup of coconut oil (warm is slightly so it's liquid consistency) 

1 1/2cups of raw cane sugar  

1 large egg

4 tbsp of molasses  

2 cups of plain flour (gluten free if you wish)

2 tsps baking powder  

1 1/4 tsps ground cinnamon 

1 1/4 tsps ground ginger

1/4 tsp salt


1. Preheat the oven to 180'C. 

2. Set aside 1/2 a cup of the sugar in a separate bowl. Mix the remainder with the coconut oil until combined and then beat in the egg. 

3. Add the rest of the dry ingredients sifting in the flour and stir until combined. 

4. Roll your dough into 1inch balls and then roll each ball in the remaining sugar you set aside earlier.  Place 2 inches apart on an untreated baking tray, do not flatten.

5. Bake the cookies for 10-12 mins until set but still soft to touch. Its at this stage I use the cutters as you'll get a clean shape. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. 

My Favourite Super Boosters!

Natural powdered supplements are my go to pick me ups when I'm feeling a little sluggish, unwell or malnourished and today I want to let you in on my top 3 favourites. 

Hemp Protein Powder

I consider this more of a total nutritional supplement and started adding this into meals about 2 months ago as I began cutting meat out from my diet. There are countless different protein supplements on the market from soy, to whey (derived from the process of cheese production), to hemp. The reason I chose hemp protein is because of the added benefits that come with it. Hemp protein is derived from hemp seeds meaning it's all natural and plant based. It is a complete protein so it contains all of the essential amino acids we require for growth and muscle repair. Equally important for such processes are vitamins, minerals, fibre, enzymes, probiotics, antioxidants and a host of other nutritional components – all of which are also found in hemp seeds.  Hemp is the only protein source that contains Omega-3, it also contains Omega-6 making it a unique source of long chain fatty acids. It's high in potassium and iron too so another great option for vegetarians. When compared to whey protein it contains slightly less protein per gram but with all the added benefits that whey protein lacks it's definitely my choice. 

Hints for use; sprinkle over cereals, yoghurts, granola or salads. Blend into juices or smoothies and bake into healthy treats! 

Wheatgrass Powder

Although the use of wheatgrass for health and healing can be traced to ancient Egypt, you may have heard of this little guy if you watched The Hills or the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Health and gym bunnies from L.A have sworn by these shots for years! 

Wheatgrass is prepared from the common wheat plant. Importantly, however, the plant is harvested at the early stages of growth before jointing occurs, after which, its nutritional value declines sharply. At this early stage wheatgrass is abundant in chlorophyll, which gives the plant its vibrant green colour.  It is truly one of natures super foods, packed with digestive enzymes, vitamins, minerals, chlorophyll and essential amino acids. It also has cholesterol reducing, anti ageing and anti-inflammatory properties making a teaspoon worth its weight in gold. Wheatgrass is linked to improved digestive system function and constipation prevention and is often used as a natural treatment for irritable bowel syndrome and acid reflux. I like to take it because of it's antioxidant and immune boosting properties, especially at this time of year with flu season approaching. Wheatgrass is a living, anti-bacterial food that helps to alkalise and detox your lymph glands and blood cells, thus allowing your body to remove toxins more quickly and efficiently. You can grow wheatgrass at home and juice it if you have a machine, if not taking it in powder form is just as powerful and is far more convenient. 

Hints for use; Dilute a teaspoon of wheatgrass powder in some warm water and take like a shot (this powder does taste very "green" so most people will struggle with sipping it). Blend into smoothies or juices. 

Maca Powder

Maca, a root that originated over 2000 years ago in Peru, grown in the high plateaus of the Andes mountains is my go to for energy. It's taken as a nutritional supplement in powder form and traditionally has been used as medicine to treat people with various diseases, ailments and medical conditions.

A nutritionally dense super-food that contains high amounts of minerals, vitamins, enzymes and all of the essential amino acids, if I was to add one supplement to my diet this would be it. Maca root is rich in B-vitamins, which are the energy vitamins, and is a vegetarian source of B-12, with high levels of bioavailable calcium and magnesium meaning it's great for re mineralization. The super powder has been demonstrated in several studies to boost energy levels, stamina and even enhance athletic performance. In addition it is a natural mood lifter and in that sense my help alleviate the symptoms of depression. It is considered an "adaptogen" which means that it helps the body adapt naturally to stress. It is also well renowned for its effectiveness in hormone regulation helping to reduce menopausal hot flashes, enhance fertility, regulate menstruation and treat menstrual cramps. In addition it is considered a natural fertility enhancer and is best known for improving libido and sexual function, especially in men. For this reason, it's earned the nickname "nature's Viagra".

Hints for use; Add 1tsp to muesli, salads, baked goods or smoothies. A caffeine free energiser that helps maintain optimal stamina and endurance this is my favourite thing to add into a shake before I go workout!

In the case of each of these supplements although they are all natural if you are currently pregnant, breastfeeding or on medication please consult your doctor before introducing them to your diet to avoid any negative drug/nutrient interactions. 



A Day on My Plate

As a nutritionist for Avoca I regularly get asked in store what I personally eat and it often surprises people to hear that it's not as strict as you might imagine. For me it's all about balance, I try to eat similar food groups at similar times of the day every day. Doing this keeps my body in sync and my metabolism happy. I usually start each day with a smoothie of some sort, I try to have fresh fruit that's in season when possible, mix in a bit of natural yoghurt and either orange juice or coconut water and then to that I'll add in whatever supplements I feel I should have that day. 

Along with the smoothie I'll also have a bowl of porridge or some eggs on rye or spelt toast. Including a low-GI carb at each meal is important to me. Eating low-GI foods leads to a steady rise in the level of glucose in the blood, which in turn leads to a slower release of insulin from the pancreas. Smaller increases in insulin keep you feeling full and energised for hours after eating and also encourage the body to burn fat. Foods that have a high-GI are generally refined, processed, white and sugary, that's what I try to avoid and limit!

Breakfast of raw porridge oats soaked overnight in hemp milk and then stirred into raspberries and topped with berries, chia seeds and nuts. Mango, pineapple and banana smoothie!

Breakfast of raw porridge oats soaked overnight in hemp milk and then stirred into raspberries and topped with berries, chia seeds and nuts. Mango, pineapple and banana smoothie!

I will generally have my lunch early enough, between 12 and 1pm so I don't usually snack between the two meals. Lunches I mix up everyday. One day I could have a salad with grilled chicken, another day it could be soup and a wrap-I'm obsessed with the turkey superfood wraps from Avoca! Often for lunch I go vegetarian as I'm not a huge meat eater. Beetroot Falafel are my favourite thing to have warm with some hummus and roasted veg, they are incredibly filling but light at the same time! I've also started drinking Synerchi live Kombucha. Kombucha is an ancient Chinese brew made by fermenting organic teas with a live culture of yeast and bacteria producing a naturally carbonated drink. Live cultures support the natural balance of organisms in the intestines, helping improve digestion and immune function. A great alternative to fizzy drinks laden with sugar.

Lunch of beetroot falafel salad with some yoghurt dressing and roasted veg, Synerchi orange and Lemon drink-super refreshing!

Lunch of beetroot falafel salad with some yoghurt dressing and roasted veg, Synerchi orange and Lemon drink-super refreshing!

I'll usually snack in between lunch and dinner. I am big into nut butters, I sometimes make my own at home or else I like the Keen ones, they're an Irish brand which is another bonus. I'll have some almond butter on apple slices or buckwheat crackers. If I'm craving something sweet I love the range of raw bars we have at Avoca, the raw carrot cake is my favourite! They're free from gluten, dairy, wheat and refined sugar and taste incredible!

Avoca's raw carrot cake topped with pistachios...insanely good!

Avoca's raw carrot cake topped with pistachios...insanely good!

Dinners are varied, my other half eats like a horse so I'm constantly trying to cook meals that are filling for him but still healthy. Instead of mounds of pasta and rice I'll generally do a meat or fish dish accompanied by low GI, high protein grains like quinoa or bulgur wheat. We eat a lot of stir frys as I love Asian foods and their intense flavours. Adding spices and fresh herbs like lemon grass or fresh chilli gives a kick to meat and veg that may otherwise become mundane. If I want noodles with my stir fry that's not a problem, I'll just use whole grain or buckwheat noodles. If I want rice I'll just use brown instead of white! For me it's all about simple swaps that make the difference. 

Dinner of grilled lime and chilli chicken with beetroot quinoa and a green baby leaf salad

Dinner of grilled lime and chilli chicken with beetroot quinoa and a green baby leaf salad

Supplement wise I try to keep it natural, I believe in trying to get your nutrients from food where possible. I do oil pull with organic coconut oil in the mornings when I remember to! Oil pulling is when you swirl a good quality raw oil in your mouth for up to 20 minutes swishing it between your teeth. It's best done in the morning on an empty stomach and is great for detoxing the body and whitening teeth naturally. I've also started taking apple cider vinegar, 1tsp diluted in some warm water. It's fantastic for the lymphatic system, for joint health and is naturally antibacterial, great for the skin. Also for my skin and hair I sometimes will take flax oil tablets, packed full of omegas 3, 6 and 9 and great for reducing inflammation and aiding weight loss. Finally if I'm ever feeling a little run down or lethargic I'll pop a teaspoon of Maca powder into my morning smoothie. It's a root from South America that has fantastic mood enhancing properties while providing sustained energy and also supporting the immune system.

Coconut oil, apple cider vinegar and flax oil

Coconut oil, apple cider vinegar and flax oil

Finally I try to drink as much water as I can, I honestly notice a huge difference when I'm staying hydrated in both my general feeling of wellbeing and also in my skin! Add fruit, mint or cucumber to big jugs of water to give it a little flavour if you get bored of it on its own.

Water with mint, lemon and cucumber

Water with mint, lemon and cucumber

It's important we remember that food is something that should be enjoyable and never a chore. If you feel like a take away every now and then have one, I know I do. If I'm really craving something I'll have it and I won't punish myself after, everything in moderation is the key to success.