x Skin Food x

Honey & Almond Facial Scrub: skin food part 2

It’s hard to feel in top form when we are horsing into junk food several times a day. Like a two-faced friend, junk food lures you in and then stabs you in the back. Dammit!

It’s also hard to look healthy when our skin’s diet is largely made up of synthetic, lab-created shite. You don’t need to be an evangelist to appreciate that skincare ‘junk’ trips us up equally as fast as its cousin – junk food.

Beauty is not trout pout. It is not flawless glowing skin. It is not 4-inch lashes. Beauty is feeling and looking good for your age. Real beauty is rude health. When you nail health, it undeniably radiates from your eyes. Sophia Lauren believes that sex appeal is fifty per cent of what you have, and fifty per cent of what you think you have. I like that. (Ironically in Ireland, most women think they have big arses and double chins so it may not quite translate, but I do admire her original sentiment).

The secret to a sexy sheen is to (a) have industrial amounts of nookie (b) in the absence of A, exfoliate twice a week. This recipe is designed to be used just before a bath or shower as it’s deliciously messy. Exfoliating will help lift dull skin and reveal the fresh, tighter underlayer. Magic.

Double bonus? Your newly acquired ‘fresh’ skin will absorb serums and botanicals much quicker, where dead skin cells simply block it. Awesome-sauce.




Face Exfoliator
For 1


2 tablespoons raw honey
1 tablespoon ground almonds


Mash the ground almonds into the honey with a fork. Lie down on your bed with a book or a podcast. Apply this honeyed lovebomb to clean skin as a mask for anything between 1 to 8 minutes.

Then gently rub in circular motions to increase blood flow to the skin, helping cellular renewal. Your derriere may need some buffing during the winter months too, when it’s locked up until Spring. Just saying. This is best done standing in the shower with the tap turned off.

Rinse with warm water and a muslin cloth. Repeat every week.




In other news, my final cookery demo for A Very Long Time is scheduled for Tuesday November 22 at the fabulous Avoca my friends. Will I see you there?



Breakfast, Lunchbox, Sides, Vegan &/or Raw, x For Freezer x

Umami Grenade – nori paste

Ocean vegetables are the Biggest Thing since Ron Burgundy’s sideburns.

Calling them ocean veg is, of course, diplomatic speak for seaweed. We Irish seem to think seaweed is only useful for deflecting annoying children on the beach. In fact, seaweed is full of anti-aging love bombs and disease-fighting lignans. But you already knew that, right?

So why don’t you eat more of it? I understand. It’s hard to get your head around those slimy straps of ominous weed. But I bet you horse into it at your local sushi bar, eh?! Yes – that shiny green wrapper cavorting on your sushi roll is called nori; the most popular form of seaweed in the West.



Nori is ace. One serving of this Japanese nori paste will give you just under half the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of iron. No iron, no mojo. Women in particular need more of this blood building mineral. Not saying why.

Both nori, and its brothers and sisters in the ocean veg world, deliver a cargo of calcium for strong bones. Not worried about your bones? You should be, especially if you’re female. One in four Irish women will suffer an osteoporotic fracture in their lifetime. That number jumps to one in every two women, over fifty. it’s a serious problem, one that, admittedly, ocean veg ain’t gonna solve. But think of it as artillery, along with weight bearing exercise like pilates which bones love.

At a recent Irish Osteoporosis Society annual meeting, speakers addressed Ireland’s unique problem. We have one of the highest fracture rates in the world. So eating dairy is definitely not curing the calcium conundrum. Clearly it’s more complex than scarfing into cheese. Our levels of vitamin D are intimately linked to calcium’s absorption, so I vote serving this calcium-rich nori paste with mackerel, high in vitamin D.



Nori Paste

This nori paste is a game changer, and will have your synapses doing somersaults. I now bestow this recipe upon you, with deference to my food crush Katie Sanderson. Hallowed be the paste. I hope it has you frolicking on the dance floor well into your nineties, and lepping after lovers.


10 sheets of nori
2 tablespoons coconut sugar or palm sugar
1-2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soya sauce
100ml (3.5 floz) water


Using a scissors, roughly chomp the nori sheets into bite sized pieces. Migrate to a saucepan, and add your choice of natural sugar, some brown rice vinegar and the soya sauce. If you are coeliac, you can find wheat-free soya sauce called tamari which will work beautifully. Leave everything to chillax for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, cook on a gentle heat with 100ml (3.5 floz) water. Remove from heat after 10 minutes, or when the nori collapses into a paste. Store in an air tight jar once cooled, and keep for up to 7 days in the fridge. Indecently tasty stuff.




Events, Treats & Snacks, Vegan &/or Raw, x For Freezer x

Probiotic Peppermint Creams

Cacao (pronounced ka-kow) sounds like something a superhero would do to a villain. Which isn’t far from the truth.

These Probiotic Peppermint Creams will help jumpstart your evening, once your little vandals are sound asleep. It’s miraculous I’m still breathing after an entire day minding a team of toddlers. If my freezer didn’t have these Peppermint Creams waiting patiently for me, I’d be hitting the gin with a soup ladle.

One tiny sliver will deliver a dose of omega-3 to your hormone’s HQ. Yep. Thank you walnuts.

We make the peppermint cream filling from avocados and maple syrup. No one will know, except of course for your cholesterol levels which should benefit nicely too. Avocados have a jolly fine fat called monounsaturated oleic fat. This is the one your doc wants you to date. Monounsaturated fat has shown to help lower LDL “bad” cholesterol, while simultaneously raising your HDL “good” cholesterol. Fist. Bump.


The Virtuous Tart cookbook

The Virtuous Tart cookbook


Cacao is basically the untreated cocoa chocolate bean. We’re told cacao has much fancier antioxidants than regular cocoa, by virtue of being raw and unprocessed. More antioxidants means more ninja moves on pathogens and free radicals in our system. I do like the idea of boosting my immune defence with chocolate.

But let’s not stop there. Let’s add some probiotics to the mix, and give our pipes a party. My eldest son can’t stand natural yoghurt, so I like to sneak probiotic powder into this Peppermint Cream filling instead. MacGyver would be proud. This stuff should be nominated for a Nobel Prize in chemistry. It’s lordly.

We use Udo’s Probiotic Powder, because it’s available nationwide in pharmacies as well as health stores. (And because I’ve been chosen as their goodwill ambassador, hurrah! Udo’s products are The Snazz).





Probiotic Peppermint Creams

Biscuit base:

2 cups walnuts
8 medjools, stones removed
3 tablespoons cocoa or raw cacao powder
Pinch of sea salt


Peppermint cream filling:

2 ripe avocados
50ml-80ml maple syrup (depends on your sweet tooth)
½ teaspoon real peppermint extract or 4 drops of culinary grade peppermint oil
80ml coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon probiotic powder


Raw chocolate frosting:

4 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
4 tablespoons cacao or cocoa powder
½ teaspoon real vanilla or peppermint extract


In a food processor pulse the base ingredients together until it fraternises into a chocolatey lump. You might need a teaspoon of water to help it along. (A blender really won’t work here, as it’s too powerful). Scrape into a regular loaf tin, lined with cling or non-stick paper. Press and smooth down.

Using the same food processor bowl, now blitz the ingredients as listed for the peppermint cream filling. You’re looking for a sumptuous, glossy cream. Pour on top of the base, and freeze for at least 30 minutes before slicing little pieces of Narnia from it.

If you want a topping, gently melt the coconut oil with your maple syrup. Whisk in the cacao or cocoa, and a drop of peppermint extract. Pour across the peppermint cream layer. Return to freezer, and hide it behind the fish fingers.




! Giveaway !

If you got this far down the post, then you deserve to win a couple of my cookbooks!


Savour Kilkenny food festival are giving away front row tickets and two copies of The Virtuous Tart this weekend. Deadline is Monday, to tag a pal on their Instagram post right here.


Good luck! And see you at my cookery demo in Kilkenny’s Savour foodie fest – I’d really love to meet you all. 

x SJ