Chocolate-Coated ‘Strawberry Coconut Ice’ (Vegan / Dairy-free)

When I was young, I used to love the tins of Quality Street that we shared as a ‘treat’ at Christmas. My eyes lit up every time I opened the lid and saw all those shiny, bright wrappings. Usually people have a Quality Street ‘favourite’ but not me… I loved all of them bar one… and that was the hard toffee penny in the gold wrapper. In fact, I’m wondering whether anyone actually likes those toffees. In my house, they were always the last ones left in the tin.

Quality Street

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My taste buds have changed a lot since I was a kid and now, even the thought of eating a Quality Street chocolate makes me feel queasy. I just don’t like the taste of cane sugar anymore, nor the nauseating feeling it leaves me with for hours after I’ve eaten it. However, as you’ll have seen on my blog, I do still love chocolates A LOT. It’s just that these days, I prefer to make my own and fill them with ingredients that make me (and everyone else) feel great.

Strawberry Coconut Ice Chocs

This week I’ve been having fun creating a new chocolate to share with friends and family this weekend. I daren’t admit how many I’ve eaten this week but it’s well into double figures. Good thing I’m running a lot at the moment!

This new chocolate is a healthy hybrid of two of my favourite Quality Street chocs – the Strawberry Delight and Coconut Eclair.  Its flavour and texture is not dissimilar to ‘coconut ice’ (or a strawberry flavoured bounty!) but it tastes fresh and ‘real’ rather than sugary and processed. It’s really yummy!

Strawberry Coconut Ice

It’s super easy to make too! It’s simply a case of whizzing coconut and strawberries together in a food processor, popping them in the freezer to firm up, then coating in dark chocolate. I like to make my own raw chocolate, but you could easily melt down a bar of chocolate or some choc chips if you prefer.

Strawberry Coconut Ice Chocs

At Christmas time, I was really lucky to win a Twitter giveaway hosted by Sevenhills Organics. The prize was £250 worth of superfoods! In my amazing haul, was some beautiful cacao powder and cacao butter, which I used to make these chocs.

Cacao Powder & Butter

I’ve never seen cacao butter in buttons before. As well as being super cute, they’re much easier to use than the solid blocks that I normally buy. You simply pop them straight in the double boiler – no messing about with chopping or grating. I’ll definitely be buying these again!

The sweetener I used for these chocolates was Clarks Carob Fruit Syrup. If you’ve read my other raw choc posts, you’ll know that I love the subtle flavour of carob fruit syrups in my chocs. I’ve used Sweet Freedom before and the Clarks Carob Fruit Syrup is similar in taste, though much lighter and thinner in texture. It’s a fairly new product and currently only available from Ocado (I was sent some samples to trial). If you can’t get hold of carob fruit syrup, or you wish to make the chocolates raw, then organic agave nectar is a good substitute.

Strawberry Coconut Ice Chocs

Products used in this recipe (UK stockists)
East End Desiccated Coconut
Essential Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
Clarks Carob Fruit Syrup (Sweet Freedom and Organic Agave Nectar will work too)
Steenburgs Organic Fairtrade Vanilla Extract
Sevenhills Organic Cacao Powder
Sevenhills Organic Cacao Butter
Magimix Food Processor

Did you have a favourite Quality Street as a kid? If so, let me know as I’d love to try my hand at recreating it at home! 😀

Coconut Chocolate Bark with Goji Berries and Pecans

My love affair with the little goji berry is still going strong I adore their sweet/salty flavour and vibrant colour. I eat gojis every day, sprinkled on my porridge, muesli, yoghurts and chocolate chia puddings. And, as you may have seen already, they’re my favourite ingredient to add to home-made chocolates.

Goji Berries

And did you know, goji berries are one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet? They are a complete protein, contain 11 essential vitamins, 22 trace minerals, and are packed with antioxidants, including flavonoids, polyphenols, carotenoids and vitamins C, E and A. They contain more vitamin C than oranges, more betacarotene than carrots and more iron than spinach. No wonder the goji berry is referred to as the ‘fruit of longevity and well-being‘!

Of course, in the East, they’ve known about the health benefits of goji berries for thousands of years. We’ve been a bit slower to catch on in the West, but we’re finally getting there 😉

Recently, nu3 invited me to take part in blogger challenge to create a recipe using their goji berries. Of course, I was more than happy to accept! I started to think of all kinds of weird and wonderful creations, but M suggested that I should keep it simple and rather than creating something new, I should share one of our family favourites.

And heeding his advice, this is what I’ve chosen to do. My entry for the Nu3 challenge is a simple home-made chocolate bark. M and Lil’ L mentioned to me the other day that this could actually be their favourite chocolate ever! Now that is a statement!

Coconut Chocolate Bark with Goji Berries and Pecans

I make this chocolate using virgin coconut oil (instead of cocoa butter), which gives it a gentle hint of coconut flavour and a glorious ‘melt-in-your-mouth’ sensation. It also features two of my favourite ingredients – goji berries and pecans – which add extra dimensions of flavour, texture and nutrients.

Pecans

This chocolate is incredibly easy to make. No expertise required! You simply melt the coconut oil, stir in the remaining ingredients, and pour them into a container. I line the container with cling film, which makes it really easy to lift out. Sometimes I toast the pecans prior to chopping them but this isn’t an essential step.

Coconut Chocolate Bar Making

The chocolate is then placed in the freezer until set and voila, you have your own scrumptious chocolate bark And you can feel very proud that you made it yourself, from scratch 😀

Coconut Chocolate Bark with Goji Berries and Pecans

It is up to you how you choose to break up the chocolate. You can either go for the rustic look and chop it into shards, or go for more uniform squares.

Store and serve the chocolates straight from the fridge and freezer, as coconut oil goes soft and melty at room temperature. In an airtight container, they will keep for weeks, but I somehow doubt they’ll last that long 😉

Products used in this recipe
nu3 goji berries
– Essential Organic Virgin Coconut Oil – I bought this from Harvest in Bath, but it’s also available in other health food shops and online stores, including Amazon
Sweet Freedom Original, available from Asda, Waitrose, Morrisons, Ocado and online stores, including Amazon
Kenwood Mini Chopper, purchased from Amazon 

[This recipe has been entered into Ricki Heller’s Wellness Weekend]

Coconut Chocolate Bark with Goji Berries and Pecans

Good luck to all the bloggers entering the nu3 challenge. I’m sure there will be many beautiful and inspiring entries

I think nu3 are planning to invite the public to vote on the entries and a prize will be awarded to the entry with the most votes. As soon as I have the details, I’ll post a link.

Have a great weekend everyone!  xx

UPDATE: Thank you so much to everyone that voted for me in the nu3 Blogger Challenge I am so thrilled to have won! 😀

 

Chocolate Goji Almond Hearts & A Raw Chocolate Making Kit GIVEAWAY!

With just four weeks until Christmas, I’m starting to think of gift ideas for friends and family. One gift that’s always popular is a box of home-made raw chocolates.  Dark chocolate lovers go crazy for them (and that includes a few kids I know 😉 )

What I love about these chocolates is that they not only taste amazing, but they’re incredibly healthy! They’re brimming with ‘feel good’ nutrients and antioxidants (see this post for more details). They’re also dairy-free, gluten-free and sugar-free, making them suitable for those with allergies/intolerances as well as diabetics.

I love giving gifts that people are going to enjoy AND that will nourish them

Raw Chocolate Goji Almond Hearts

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be making lots of batches of raw chocolates, some for gifts and some to replenish our home stash. These are the chocolates that we’ll be savouring whilst we gorge ourselves on festive films during the holidays 😉

As I make them, I’d love to share a few recipes with you.  If you haven’t tried making chocolates before, you should give it a go! I promise it’s very easy!

First up, I’d like to share my Raw Chocolate Goji Almonds Hearts. Whilst you can make these hearts 100% chocolate, I like to fill mine with fragments of goji berry and almonds, for added texture, flavour and nutrients.

Raw Chocolate Goji Almond Heart

I’ve updated my original recipe and measured out the ingredients in cups to make the recipe more accessible to my overseas friends

If you’d like to see some step-by-step pics of how to make these hearts, check out this post. It’s very old, and the pics are poor quality, but you’ll get the idea.

[This recipe has been submitted to Ricki Heller’s Wellness Weekend)

GIVEAWAY TIME!

It was Elements for Life that first ignited my passion for raw chocolate. This month marks their 3rd anniversary and, as part of their celebrations, they have very generously offered to give away three of their new-look Raw Chocolate Making Kits to my lovely blog readers

Raw Chocolate Making Kit

They’ve recently re-vamped their chocolate making kit and it’s looking very smart indeed! It’s smaller in size, with all the goodies neatly arranged in two tiers. All the packaging is environmentally friendly too, including the cellophane bags which are made from wood pulp!

If you’re interested in trying raw chocolate-making, then these kits are perfect for you. They contain everything needed to get you started including:

100g Ecuadorian Raw Cacao Powder
120g Ecuadorian Raw Cacao Butter
100ml Sweet Freedom, Natural Fruit Syrup
Reusable Silicone Chocolate Mould
Product info and recipes

Elements for Life Raw Chocolate Making Kit

To be in with a chance of winning one of the kits, leave me a comment answering the question featured in the Rafflecopter below. Do make sure you tick the box in the Rafflecopter to register that you have done so!  If you’re new to Rafflecopter, it’s pretty easy! You simply ‘log in’ by clicking the ‘Use Your Email’ button and entering a name and email address (which won’t be published anywhere) or you can log in via the Facebook button. A quick demo of how to use Rafflecopter can be accessed via this link.

There are a number of additional ways you can enter in order to increase your chances of winning. You will find these listed in the Rafflecopter. All entries will be verified prior to the winner being selected.

The giveaway is open to all UK residents, aged 18 and over (so sorry international readers but we’re restricted by postage costs!)

The closing date is Monday 9th December 2013 at midnight GMT.

Good luck everyone! xx

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please note: This post contains an Amazon affiliate link – if you click on the link and purchase something I will receive a small percentage which will go towards the development of Bit of the Good Stuff. Thanks in advance!

 

 

Valentines Raw Chocolate Giveaway!

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and all the desserts and treats in my house have gone heart shaped ♥  

Last week I was making Raw Chocolate Pecan Brownie Hearts and Raw Chocolate Cream Hearts (now safely hidden away in the freezer)…

… and today I made a batch of Heart-shaped Raw Chocolates 🙂

Chocolate Goji Almond Hearts 2 - 500

I LOVE making my own chocolates.  They’re something extremely therapeutic about the whole chocolate making process. These chocolate hearts really are filled with love

They’re also filled with goji berries and almond pieces 😉

Chocolate Heart Cut Open - 500

Yes friends, we have another delicious, nutrient-packed, delicious treat for our loved ones this Valentines 🙂

As an added bonus, they’re gluten-free, dairy-free and free from refined sugar, which means that they’re suitable for any loved ones with intolerances to wheat, gluten, dairy or sugar.

Do you fancy having a try at making some yourself?  I promise you it’s really easy!  If I can do it, you certainly can!  You can find the step-by-step instructions of how I make the chocolates here.

But, guess what?  I didn’t make the batch of chocolates today for me or my boys.  No, my lovely readers, I made these chocolates to give away to YOU!

Chocolate Hearts with Heart Box - 500

To be in with a chance of winning them, all you need to do is leave me a comment below (any comment will do!)

The giveaway is international, but only suitable for readers living in cooler climates (the chocolates won’t be able to cope with heat… if you live in a tropical country, the postman would likely end up with a package of liquid chocolate in his bag and that could prove messy!)

The giveaway will be open until midnight GMT on Valentine’s Day (Thursday 14th February 2013).

Chocolate Goji Almond Hearts 1 - 500

Good luck everyone! xx

 

London, Whole Foods, Saf & Raw Chocolate Pecan Bark

Hi everyone!  I hope you all had a great weekend!

I was lucky enough to start my weekend a day early, with a trip to London on Friday to spend the day with my gorgeous friends Helen and Naomi, and Naomi’s beautiful 9-month old daughter.  It was really good to see them, and I had such a great time! 🙂

I met them in Kensington and we headed to Whole Foods which is located in the historic Barkers Building on Kensington High Street.

I’ve heard so much in blogging world about Whole Foods and I never thought that I would actually get to go there myself.  It was health food heaven!!!  It was so beautifully laid out.  Just visiting the store was an incredible experience in itself!

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But just as I thought the day couldn’t get any better, we hopped in the glass elevator and went upstairs to the Saf Restaurant.  ‘Saf’ stands for ‘Simply Authentic Food’ and also means ‘Pure’ in Turkish. You can find out more about their mission and philosophy on their website.

I just couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the menu.  It was 100% plant-based!  That means I could eat anything on the menu!  That is seriously a first for me!

Everything sounded so delicious that I wish I could have tried it all.  To be fair, I did manage to get through quite a lot of the menu 😉  Between the three of us, we ordered a range of dishes to sample, which included the following…

Curried Kale Crisps – Raw marinated and dehydrated Kale crisps flavored with curried coconut flakes

Saf Cheese Trio – A selection of their signature, olive, herb and smoked paprika ‘cheeses’, served with flax crackers, raw quince jam and drizzled with herb oil

Spinach and Date Gyoza – Organic madjol date, spinach, caramelized onion and chive dumplings, served with black vinaigrette

Saf Banh Mi – Kentish flute baguette with their trademark vegan mayonnaise, kimchee, roasted aubergine, maple glazed tofu and torn fresh mint and coriander

Vietnamese Wrap – Rice paper wrap with pickled daikon radish, maple glazed tofu, mixed salad leaves and their own miso-sambal sauce

Saf Burger – Seasonal vegetable patty, grilled onion, gherkin, tomato, gem lettuce with homemade tomato fig jam and special tarragon aioli served on a wholegrain bun

… plus 3 different salads!

I was totally blown away by the food!  I don’t think I’ve tasted anything like it before.  So, so tasty!

After a breather to let our meal go down, I couldn’t leave the restaurant without trying one of their desserts.  Well, two actually 😉

Chocolate & Orange Torte – Raw cocoa & cashew cream ganache with cocoa nib & cashew crust served with orange bubbles

Butternut Cheesecake – Butternut & cashew cheese with a coconut & lemon zest base served with champagne sabayon

I nearly didn’t try the latter because the name put me off.  Butternut cheesecake?  Mmm, didn’t sound very appetising but I was intrigued.  It turned out that the cheesecake was absolutely stunning.  Probably the best cheesecake I’ve tasted in my life!  I would so love to try and re-create it at home.

Saf has an Iphone app which provides the recipes for a selection of their dishes.  Unfortunately, I haven’t got an Iphone myself but hopefully I’ll be able to borrow a friend’s or ask a friend to download the recipes for me.

In summary, Saf is a fantastic plant-based dining experience in a beautiful environment.  If you’re ever in London, you must check it out!

After a wonderful day in London with my friends, I returned to Bath fired up with enthusiasm for plant-based cooking and experimenting with new recipes.  Not least because I was armed with a brand new cook book that Naomi had bought me for my birthday called ‘Veggiestan’. Thank you Naomi!

The author writes a blog under the same name, which is really worth checking out.

My family loves middle-eastern food, so I can’t wait to start trying out Sally’s recipes.  The book is beautifully designed and makes a great read.  I actually started reading it in bed on Saturday morning with a cup of coffee.  Is that sad or what?  Please tell me I’m not the only one that sits in bed reading cook books!!

So, all fired up, I spent this morning in the kichen creating a variety of baked goods for this week’s lunchboxes and some raw chocolate goodies.  As well as making some goji hearts to send to Becca (the winner of my giveaway 🙂 ), I also made some raw chocolate pecan bark. Using raw ingredients allows the chocolate to retain all its wonderful antioxidants and other nutritional qualities.  I also opted to use Sweet Freedom Fruit Sweetener instead of sugar.  The result? A home-made chocolate bark that’s packed with nutrients, low GI and suitable for diabetics.  Happy days! 🙂

It also tastes scrumptious!

And it’s super quick and easy to make!

Fancy having a go?

Here’s the recipe:

So where can you buy raw chocolate making ingredients?  Some local health food shops stock them.  In Bath, you can buy them from Harvest, on Walcot Street.  I also buy my ingredients from Elements for Life, which has on online shop.  For those interested in trying out raw chocolate making, the Elements for Life Raw Chocolate Making Starter Kits are great.  They include raw cacao butter, raw cacao powder, Sweet Freedom fruit sweetener and a heart silicone mould, all for just £14.99.  These also make great gifts for dark chocolate lovers.

Lil’ L absolutely loves raw chocolate and, given its fantastic nutritional profile, I’m happy for him to eat it on a regular basis.  In fact, I would even encourage it.  As well as the raw chocs, I also add raw cacao powder to his smoothies and use it in desserts.

Since visiting Saf, I’m fired up to try making more raw desserts and treats.  I’ve already got a few ideas for new recipes, so I’ll test them soon and let you know how I get on.  Are you a fan of raw desserts?  If so, what’s your favourite?  Please send me links to your favourite recipes so I can check them out.

Have a great week everyone!  The Olympic Torch arrives in Bath tomorrow, so you can imagine how buzzing the city is at the moment!

 

 

A Weekend of Treats, Rounded off with a Raw Chocolate Orange Chia Dessert!

Hi everyone!  I hope you are having a great week so far! 🙂

Sorry for the lack of post yesterday but I was busy all day taking photographs for “the book”!  My aim is to get all the photos finished by Easter, which isn’t far off considering how quickly the weeks are flying by!

So how was your weekend?  For us, it was a weekend of “treats”!  Lil’ L had the treat of going to stay for a night with his lovely nanny in Dorset, while M and I went for our belated Valentine’s night away at Carey’s Manor in Brockenhurst, Hampshire.

This place is pretty special…

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and has the most beautiful Thai-style spa with hydrotherapy facilities.

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Okay, I’ll stop the photos now 😉

This was our first ‘date night’ in months and it was nice to go somewhere special and spend some quality time together.  We reduced the costs as much as possible by staying on the Friday night (thus avoiding the Saturday night supplements), and we also took advantage of the hotel’s special free evening meal offer.

We were booked into the hotel’s Manor Restaurant for our evening meal, and I can happily report that the chef rose to the challenge of meeting my dietary requirements 😉  I didn’t take any photos as it wasn’t the type of restaurant where you can whip out your camera and start snapping the food , but here’s a quick run down of what they served me:

Entree – strawberry sorbet (M was given a white onion cappuccino which sounds bizarre to me, but apparently it was really nice!)

Starter – beetroot carpaccio with mushrooms, rocket and a balsamic dressing.

Main course – wild mushroom risotto…which they made with soya milk for me!

Dessert – pineapple carpaccio with shredded basil and coconut sorbet.

All courses were totally delicious!  I really want to have a try at making both the beetroot and pineapple carpaccios as they were stunning!

After our meal, M and I stayed in the lounge until 1 in the morning chatting.  We haven’t had an opportunity to do that in a long time.  It was really nice! 🙂

The next day, we met my mum and Lil’ L in Burley.  Every time I visit this village, I have to stop at the Old Farmhouse Tearooms for a soy cappuccino and slice of their ginger cake.  That cake is dairy free and gluten free… and totally scrumptious!

We then took a circular walk on the common to walk off our cake.  The sun was shining, the sky was blue, it was warm enough to not wear a coat.  Is this really February?  The crazy weather continues!

Along the walk, we saw lots of this beautiful yellow gorse…

We warned Lil’ L that it’s really prickly but you know kids.. they have to find out for themselves 😉

We also came across lots of these beautiful little New Forest ponies.  So cute!

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend.  Lil’ L loved his time with nanny and, since M and I rarely go on dates these days (perhaps 2-3 times a year?), we really cherished our night away.  M has suggested that we do it again later this year and I’m totally up for that!

As you can imagine, I did very little cooking this weekend …. but I did make a raw chocolate orange chia pudding!  I’ve only recently started to buy chia seeds as they have been hard to come by in this country.  Local to me, they’re now available from the Harvest Health Food shop in Bath.  I also purchase them from online stores including Healthy SuppliesElements for Life, and Earthfare.  I find that the cost of chia seeds can really vary from one store to another, and at different times of year, so I always make sure I shop around.

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These seeds come from the beautiful chia plant, which belongs to the mint family (salvia hispanica).

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I’ve read so much good stuff about them on the Internet.  Here’s a quick rundown of its nutritional profile:

  • Chia is a very rich source of omega 3 essential fatty acid
  • It is a good source of protein, and contains all 9 essential amino acids.
  • It is high in dietary fibre.
  • It’s easily digested and absorbs more than 9 times its weight in liquid when soaked, helping to regulate blood sugar and hydration.
  • Chia is a good source of minerals, notably phosphorus, manganese, calcium and zinc.

They sound like another “super food” to me!

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The seeds have been eaten throughout Central and Southern America for thousands of years, and were part of the staple diet of the Aztecs and Indians.  The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that chia seeds have a history of safe use as a food.  However, for some reason (which I’m yet to fathom out) these little seeds have been classed as a “novel food” under the EU Novel Food Act 1997.  This means that when you buy chia seeds in Europe, they have a big label on the packet that they can only be consumed as an ingredient for baked goods comprising a maximum 5% of the content!

Since I haven’t read anything on the Internet about chia seeds being harmful and, on the contrary, have read time and again about the health benefits of this little seed, I’ve joined my fellow American and Canadian health foodie friends in eating chia seeds raw 🙂  If you bake them, you lose the omega 3 content which, to me, defeats the object of eating them in the first place.

And in their raw form, chia seeds make the most AMAZING chocolate desserts!  Chocolate orange is my current favourite flavour, but I’m looking forward to trying mocha and hazelnut versions.  The possibilities are endless!

It’s so simple to make.  Here’s how I do it:

Do you eat chia seeds?  If so, what is your favourite way of serving them? Please add links to your favourite recipes in the comment section below as I’d love to try them out!

What do you think of the EU law on chia?  Do you think it’s right to class chia as a ‘novel’ food when it’s been around for thousands of years? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Have a great week everyone! xx