Sunday, 28 September 2008

Duckeys Chilled Chocolate Biscuit Cake...

This is the ultimate comfort food and it isn't even that bad for you... yes only 150 calories per slice or less the smaller you make the slice!

As last week my mum came to visit and she is a major chocoholic I wanted to make her a little treat to great her with once she had completed her long journey down.

So heres how to make my biscuit cake!

RECIPE: Chilled dark chocolate biscuit cake with cherries, sultanas and nuts.

You will need:

100g butter
150g 70% dark chocolate
100g light digestive biscuits
1-2 teaspoons sherry
A few chopped cherries, sultanas and nuts

To Make:

So simple... No cooking!

1. Grease a square baking tin

2. Line with baking parchment

3. Melt the butter and chocolate together

4. Add to another bowl some crushed biscuits mixed with cherries, nuts and sultanas

5. Add the sherry

6. Mix in the chocolate and butter

7. Pour into the tin

8. Let the cake set in the fridge for 1-2 hours

Yes it really is that simple and I can tell you these chocolatie little treats didnt last long at all!

Let me know how you get on with yours.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Duckeys Homemade Bread...

There is nothing like homemade bread... the smell... the taste... the texture and the great feeling of succeeding in making bread!

I prefer wholemeal bread to white, I think white bread is a bloater! Well too much of it anyway!

I have had a little play with making bread before and you can refer to my post "how to make the perfect loaf" featuring my dad.

This recipe is near enough identical but with the pics to go with it!

I always find you make bread in two stages, there is the preparation and the cooking...


A deliciously light, wholemeal loaf, speckled with pumpkin seeds, thinly flaked almonds and healthy sunflower seeds...

You will need:

* 500g of wholemeal flour
* 2 tspns salt
* 1 tsp of light brown sugar
* 1 packet of Yeast
* 25g of pumpkin seeds
* 25g almond flakes
* 25g of sunflower seeds
* 400ml warm water


1. First of all mix the flour salt and sugar in a bowl and add the Yeast powder to the dry ingredients.

2. Then add the seeds and nuts

3. Mix up some yeast in a jug of luke warm water

4. Make a dough mixing the yeast into the dry ingredients, when a slight dough is formed finish off with your hands and kneed the dough until smooth

5.Take the dough and stretch it on a flat surface and fold in the corners

6. Grease a tin and add the dough

7. To allow the dough to rise cover it with a damp tea cloth and leave for 30-40 minutes


1. Cook for 30-40 minutes in the oven at 200 degrees

2. The bread will be cooked when you tap on the load and it makes a hollow noise

This bread can also be frozen!


Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Healthy Muffin Medley

Before you go on holiday what do you do with your left over ingredients?

Well as a treat for my friends at work I thought I would use them up to make some super duper healthy muffins.

I decided to make two flavours:

  • Cherry Coconut Muffins
  • Chocolate and oat Muffins
Like all my recipes I wanted to Duckey-fy these and make them healthy so here is my recipe!

RECIPE: Healthy Cherry Coconut Muffins and Chocolate and Oat Muffins.

You will need:

60g unsalted butter
1 egg yolk, 2 egg whites
100g brown sugar
110g wholemeal flour
6 Ripe Cherries
1 spoonful of cocoa powder
20g raisins
Handful of oats
50g dessicated coconut

To make the cake:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees

2. Remove the unsalted butter and eggs from the refrigerator to allow them to warm to the room temperature, in a bowl add the butter and sugar

3. Add the butter and sugar into a bowl and whisk then add the egg yolk

4. Mix the 2 egg whites in another bowl

5. Add the egg whites to the mixture and divide this into two bowls

6. To make chocolate oat muffins add raisins and cocoa powder into one bowl then sprinkle in some oats, to make the cherry muffins add the coconut and stir in then once in the cake mold de-seed a cherry and push into the batter leaving the stalk.

7. Cook in the oven for 15 mins

8. Remove and then cool.

These make great little treats for all to share.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Duckeys Holiday!

Following my post on staying healthy on holiday I thought it might be good for me to share with you my food outings whilst I was away.

I was lucky enough to stay in a Villa, which gave me the flexibility to pick and choose my own food and cook my own meals, however I know that when you are staying in a resort or hotels it can be really hard to determine exactly what kind of food you are going to get before you get it.

My top tips would be:

* Determine how busy a food establishment is the busier the better
* Always read the menu before you go in so you can choose what you want and see if there are healthy options
* If you have a naughty treat, no need to worry your on holiday but perhaps take a walk or do a few extra laps of the pool!

So I hear you cry how did Duckey do?

Well considering I am incredibly picky with food and deprive myself from the good things in life sometimes, this time I didn’t!

I usually started the morning off by my usual half hour of yoga but this time with a difference I had the warm sun! There was no better way to start the day than with a stretch in the sunlight to start your energy flow.

I then popped in for a quick change into my swimmers and hit the pool. Usually I would try and do 50 laps in the morning splash about during the day and 50 laps before I finished my day by the pool.

This was the only exercise I let myself do, it was very relaxing easy exercise which is what I needed! I would usually enjoy a run around the block in the sun or some more intense workouts but not this time.

As for food after my swim thanks to the delights of the supermarket I was able to obtain some Dorset Cereal which was more like muesli. This would usually start my day on a real natural note I had this every morning.

For lunch I would usually get hungry around 2pm so I headed into the kitchen where my dad would make me a cheese and tomato sandwich on brown bread.

The bread in Spain is so light even the white bread would not have bloated you. As for the tomatoes and fruit well they were as delicious as you could imagine in flavour and very natural as were the Olives and Almonds I usually snacked on.

If I didn’t fancy a sandwich I would have a few rice cakes with some watermelon.

Drink wise I took my green tea for the daytime along with some water and in the evenings I would treat myself to some vino at dinner and on a few occasions a cheeky Gin and Light tonic (which is one of the healthiest alcoholic drinks!)

For the evenings we visited on most occasions the most fantastic Italian Restaurant, my word to describe it would be rustic! The owner was a huge Italian with the attitude of Godzilla, he would tell you to “sit” and at first I thought how can your Italian be so busy?

In the end he warmed but it was his personality that attracted us back. It was covering 80 people a night and there were four staff the Italian, his two daughters and his wife in the kitchen.

The food was as fresh as it came, we always started with some bread and Olive oil – I felt like I was on the Mediterranean diet!

Although eating out can be unhealthy because the ingredients were so natural and fresh it didn’t feel like it. The pizzas were light and not cheesy, the pasta light and not too creamy and my dad has Spag Bol five nights in a row so I am guessing that was pretty good!

One night I decided to eat alone so went to a contemporary English establishment called Stan and Ollies where I had a fresh prawn cocktail, BBQ’d chicken and vegetables and a treat for dessert which I will come onto!

My naughtiest treat of the holiday was probably the Amaretto Ice Cream, or the Chocolate Brownie I had at Stan and Ollies... but my gosh it was worth it!

On the nights we decided to eat in we had one BBQ as we wanted to make use of the cute little villa grill, and I created a Duckey Spanish Supper for the family to enjoy.

The thing I learnt about this holiday was that I ate like a normal person, three good meals a day, a few treats in the evening and it didn’t harm me. I look healthy feel healthy and sometimes it’s the stress of worrying about what you eat that is much worse.

So my advice is to eat healthy but one week of not being so strict on yourself won’t kill you, however using my little tips may save a few calories along the way!

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Where I buy my food...

I usually like to buy fresh ingredients but at the end of the day I think it comes down to time an convenience when you are holding down a busy lifestyle.

So that unfortunately means that sometimes we have to make do with the supermarkets, this is also the more cost effective option (or can be!)

So I thought it would be interesting to rate my local supermarkets and let you know some of the place I like to shop for food.

I think it also depends on the occasion - if you have guests coming round you may like to go a bit upmarket.


Fresh healthy produce usually lasts well. They have a range of specialist and unique items and their own branded items taste great, downside is you pay more for the quality.

Duckeys Rating 9/10


Quite a broad range and moderately priced. Fresh produce doesn’t last too long and sometimes they don’t have want you want in stock.

Duckeys Rating 7/10


Cheap and wide range of products again like Sainsbury’s fresh produce is sometimes lacking in appearance and quality, but not bad.

Duckeys Rating 6/10

M & S

Very pricy but extremely good quality with great offers every now and then. Good branded items but they don’t sell anything except M & S brand. You would definately do you "occasion" shopping here.

Duckeys Rating 8/10


I tend not to shop at ASDA as there is not one local to me.

Duckeys Rating 4/10


Would be scared to walk in here with all the frozen ready meals they sell!

Duckeys Rating 1/10


Again, not one local to me, but well priced I used to shop in one when I lived in Suffolk. I would say generally on par with Tesco.

Duckeys Rating 6/10


Again I cant say I have ever shopped here

Duckeys Rating 3/10


Great if you need to pop in and get a few odds and ends like milk!

Duckeys Rating 4/10


Great for a quick shop but very basic and rubbish fresh food!

Duckeys Rating 5/10

Well that covers the supermarket and Waitrose wins on the shopping front.

Now specialist places to shop would include:

• Tulleys Farm

A great little organic farm near us they sell anything from organic breads to olives and cakes!

• Taj

A shop opposite me at work, they specialise in selling different foods from other nationalities perfect if I feel a bit of oriental cooking coming on!

• Infinity Foods

In the lanes of Brighton great organic food but sooo over priced!

Anyway this is where I shop right now! What are your favourite places to shop?

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Nutrition Advice... Keeping fit on holiday!

I am off on holiday this week!

Some of us book a holiday to relax, switch off and unwind leaving all your worries behind.

However how many of us are guilty and binge eating and drinking during this period?

Holidays should not by any means be a time to be strict with yourself after all that would destroy your relaxed mentality but it doesn’t mean you have to completely let yourself go!

So I have conjured up some tips from my own experience to help you along the way…

Keep your goals in mind

Before your holiday in most cases you have dieted to look good, perhaps lost 1-2 pounds a week however on holiday why not try to maintain this which means no weight loss or weight gain. In thinking healthy this is the secret.

Prepare yourself!

If you have a long journey ahead arrange healthy snacks to take in your bag with you this will stop the cravings for bad food when you get too hungry… airports can be filled with fast food joints! Resist!

Snacks keep your hunger at bay so pack a bottle of water, fruit, vegetable sticks, rice cakes or a health bar.

Hotel food!

Your in a new country so make the most of the different types of fruit on offer. Avoid the fattening croissants and Danishes at breakfast.

At dinner why not try the salads of course avoiding fattening cheeses or dressing. Some countries don’t offer low fat varieties however in my experience if you look around you will find skim milk for your hot drinks and cereal and low fat jams, rice cakes and yogurts.

A favourite breakfast of mine was cereal grains with fresh fruit and yogurt. You don’t want to get into bad habits on holiday as it will only make you struggle once your home!

I usually have a good breakfast and skip lunch then have a medium sized evening meal, I find I don’t get hungry in the sun but make sure I drink lots of water.

Think smart...

If your all inclusive its natural that you will want to make the most of the food and drink on offer.

You must remember how hard you worked to get into shape in the first place, I could think of nothing more depressing than to put on weight and not get into your favourite dress to show off your tan.

Look for healthy choices at the bar, try wine instead of creamy cocktails and easy on the bar nuts!

The dreaded appetisers

Bread, fattening dips, all nice but bad for the hips!

They add extra calories to your meal try something like olives that can be found in most good hotels.

They only contain around 12 calories where as bread a huge 170 calories. Vegetable soups are also a good option but again easy on the bread eat wholemeal if available.

Meat Feast!

Make sure if you chose meat to eat lean meats such as turkey or chicken, or even fish with plenty of veggies on the side.

Make the most of the traditional cuisine most hotels have theme nights where they show off their local dishes. Italy have tomato based pasta dishes, and fish in Portugal.

Don’t have to ditch the dessert!

Desserts don’t have to be unhealthy, its always good to ease that sweet craving!

Most hotels have a variety of yummy exotic fruit and maybe to make it more of a treat allow yourself one scoop of ice cream or yogurt. If you fancy something more try sharing it with your partner this means only half the calories! Clever!

You could even make sure you take a long walk after dinner to make you feel a little better!

Its all about being active!

This is a great time to get involved make friends and try new activities, try making a routine and taking a few laps in the pool before sunbathing or to cool off jump in the pool for another few!

Most hotels have activities such as stretching, water polo I love to take part as it also makes your day a bit more exciting than looking at the sky!

10. Have fun!

With all the above basic knowledge to follow you can’t go wrong!

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

How much do YOU spend on food each week?

Now this is something that I try and budget for the food bills (and my kitten Ralphie) and at first we made an allowance of £50 per week for food which equals to £200 per month.

Though we notice it fluctuates depending on if we eat out, make food last or shop smartly.

I aim now to spend £30 a week but I think its items such as cleaning products and other household items like dishwasher tablets which are costly.

It is so easy with all these tasty products on the market to think oh well, as a treat I’ll have that.

I usually do these with Organic Yogurt or fruit such as fresh figs. I have some top tips below to help you keep to a budget.

* Stock up on canned goods they will last a while and can accompany many foods

* Always check the bargain sections usually on the end of the isle

* Get 2 for 1 offers

* Buy freezable items you can freeze your meat, bread and frozen products

* Don’t go food shopping when your hungry you’ll be too tempted to purchase based on what your stomach tells you!

* Buy the shop brand usually you pay for the advertising of the flashy brands and basics taste no different!

On the news recently it has been reported that our food spend has increased, we spend 13% of our household income on food.

It is like to rise more in the future however there is good news... with the rise the supermarkets will compete with each other to keep our custom.

What do you think about the situation?

Thursday, 4 September 2008

My top 5 ingredients...

When I cook I tend to use lots of the same ingredients... this is due to a few different factors:

1) I like the way they taste

2) I like the health benefits

3) The look of the food

So here they are in order of importance...

  • Strawberries - Great to sweeten up a dessert they are healthy and look beautiful

  • Wholegrain mustard - Great to add as a sauce to a dish, put in a sandwich and add flavour to any meal

  • Wholemeal Pita bread - Can accompany a meal or be a meal, the health substitute to a sandwich or wrap

  • Yogurt - Again can be used with stawberries to creat a dessert, or can be used in savory dishes to create a crust on meat or sauce in pasta dishes

  • Chilli Flakes - Always a great ingredient to hand to spice up my dishes, you can sprinkle on main meals, add to soups and even mix with chocolate. Using spices is a healthy alternative to sauces.
Let me know your top 5!

Monday, 1 September 2008

Duckeys Meringue Cakes

These are wonderous little cakes... but surprisingly healthy of course! Its a simple case of getting out that whisk and making your yummy little meringues and creating almost a sandwich with organic yogurt and fruit... sounds tempting? Well here's how to make them!

Recipe: Golden Merringue nests sandwiched with fresh organic yogurt layered on top of fresh fruit topped with dates.

You will need:

• 100g flaked almonds
• 100g golden caster sugar
• 4 egg whites
• 175g strawberries

To make:

1. Heat oven to 140 degrees

2. Then line a flat baking sheet with baking parchment

3. Beat the egg whites together in a large bowl I am using my electric whisk!

4. Gradually add the sugar allowing the mixture to become stiff

5. Keep whisking until the mixture is glossy and soft

6. Fold in the flaked almonds and divide the mixture between the two baking sheets and spread in 20cm circles

7. Scatter remaining nuts over the top

8. Bake for 1 hour in the oven then turn the oven off to allow the meringues to cool for 1 hour

9. To serve remove one of the meringues off its baking tray onto a serving plate
Spread over half the yogurt (to spice up my yogurt I added to some plain some honey and coconut for extra flavour)

10. Place the second meringue on top then pile over the fruit and top with the remaining yogurt and strawberries.

11. Serve with some date and fresh figs to accompany.

These were really tasty and great to have as a dessert with a bit of a difference.

Try them yourself at home like I say not all desserts have to be unhealthy!