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…

[Source]

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

 [Source]

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.

[Source]

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

[Source]

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!

[Source]

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

 

Schools out!

The school holidays are here!  Hurray!  🙂   

To mark the end of their time in the Infants, Class 3 performed a rendition of ‘Wonderwall’ by Oasis for the parents.  It was very sweet. 😉  

Lil’ L decided that he’d like give his teachers some gingerbread cookies as a ‘thank you’ gift.  We made gingerbread houses for Jon, and gingerbread hearts for Jackie.

 

For our first trip of the holidays, we travelled by train to visit family in Dorset.  As soon as we arrived, we headed to Burley (Hampshire) for lunch in one of my favourite tearooms.  They bake the most delicious vegan ginger cake I’ve ever tasted! 

I forgot to take my camera so I've borrowed some photos from the wonderful website www.geograph.org.uk. This image is (c) Derek Harper

For me, Burley is a place filled with wonderful energy.  This might be, in part, explained by its historical association with white witches.  Back in the late 1950s, Britain’s most famous white witch, Sybil Leek, lived in Burley.  She later emigrated to America and her son lives in Melbourne Beach, Florida.

There’s a number of shops in Burley that sell witch and wizard-related items, such as the ‘Coven of Witches’…

Coven of Witches Shop in Burley (c) Richard C

 and the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

(c) Graham Horn

One of my favourite past times is walking through the ancient woods that can be accessed from Burley.  There’s something very magical about these woods…

Another beautiful experience we had during our visit was seeing all the New Forest ponies and their foals grazing on the Common. 

(c) Trish Steel

 These ponies have roamed free in the New Forest for over 1000 years.  It’s funny to see them in places that you would never expect.  During our last visit, we saw ponies and baby donkeys outside the newsagents and pub, and two highland cattle sitting on someone’s front lawn!

(c) Chris McAuley
 
We had two bonus viewings of the ponies on the way to the train station, as I left my handbag at mum’s house and we had to drive back again.  Sorry mum!
 
 What a wonderful start to the school holidays!  Just need to plan special activities for the next 44 days 😉