Healthy In Disguise

Karen McLean is a girl after our own hearts as the sneaky chef behind the deceptively healthy blog Secret Squirrel Food – a collection of her own sublimely delicious treats that are refined sugar-free, dairy-free, mostly raw, and gluten-free. 

Daylighting as a qualified chartered accountant in supply chain logistics, by night she is cooking up a storm in the Dubai blogosphere by creating nutritious and healthy food, experimenting with alternatives to your not-so-healthy choices and transforming fresh fruit and veg into something tasty. We caught up with her to get the lo-down on how to snack and stay healthy in Dubai. Honestly, we haven’t stopped eating since… 

Karen says… Healthy food doesn’t have to be boring… let’s make it fun! Secret Squirrel Food celebrates the pleasures of eating simple, natural and wholesome food. I love teaching people that they can be healthy.

The name Secret Squirrel Food came from… “Sneaky Health Foods”. Often, people are extremely intrigued by the recipes and can’t believe that they’re healthy. 

If I was stranded on a desert island and could only have one thing to eat for the rest of my life it would be… Peanut Butter! I am a major peanut butter addict. I love to spread it onto fresh slices of apple or banana and put it on crackers and celery sticks, or make raw chocolate peanut butter cups. The possibilities are endless and I would smother it on everything if I could!


Simple Chia Pudding

Chia puddings are packed with Omega 3 fatty acids and can be served in endless combinations: layered with fresh fruit, granola, nuts, super seeds, berry compotes, fruit smoothies. This is a truly nutritious breakfast which will give you radiant, glowing skin. 

3 tbsp chia seeds
1 cup milk of choice (soy, almond, coconut milk etc.)
1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste 

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
2. Place in the fridge to soak overnight.
3. In the morning, stir the chia pudding until you get a smooth, creamy consistency.
4. That was so EASY! Now that you’ve created a chia pudding, start layering with your favourite fruits and be creative!

Spiced Honey Walnut Banana Ice-Cream

It’s smooth, creamy, slightly crunchy, and tastes and “appears” to be incredibly naughty. But looks can be deceiving because this is healthy in disguise! I’m still amazed by how delicious it is. 

Serves 2 
3 frozen ripe bananas
1/2 tbsp honey
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 cup walnuts (roughly chopped) 

1. Peel ripe bananas, wrap in glad wrap and freeze overnight.
2. Add frozen bananas, honey and cardamom to food processor or blender and process until fluffy, smooth, and creamy.
3. Add walnuts and carefully mix through with wooden spoon.
4. Empty the mixture into a container and put back into the freezer for a few hours to set.
5. When the ice-cream is ready, scoop with an ice-cream scoop, top with fresh fruit (optional) and a drizzle of honey.
6. Enjoy your guilt-free ice-cream!

Cranberry Pistachio Oat Bars

Are you driving? Rushing to work? On the way home from the gym? Are you feeling HANGRY (a state of anger caused by lack of food)? This is the perfect solution and will keep you satisfied until your next meal. 

Makes 8 
21cm x 21cm square tray.
1 very ripe banana
1/3 cup medjool dates
1 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp raw agave syrup
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup buckwheat
1/4 cup pistachios
1/2 tsp cinnamon 

1. Preheat oven at 150 degrees Celsius.
2. Add banana, dates, peanut butter, coconut oil, agave syrup to a food processor and process until mixture is well combined.
3. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until just combined.
4. Line tray with baking paper and pour in mixture.
5. Flatten with a spatula, put into the oven for 30 minutes.
6. Let cool on cooling rack and cut into 8 individual bars.
7. Wrap with paper and ribbons. These will keep for 3-4 days and up to a week if kept in the fridge. 

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