Chocolate Orange Chia Pudding

I first shared a recipe for chocolate orange chia pudding back in February 2012 and, to this day, it remains one of my family’s favourite desserts It’s such a simple pudding to make and, since I originally posted the recipe, I’ve refined the method so that it’s even quicker. Honestly, this recipe could not be more easy! The original photo I took doesn’t do this pudding justice, so I thought it was time for a re-post with the updated recipe and some shiny new photos.

Chocolate Orange Chia Pudding

Since that original post, chia seeds have become much more popular here in the UK. You can buy them in most health food shops, and even supermarkets have started stocking them. They’re also widely available (and often much cheaper) from online stores. I find they can vary a lot in price, so I always shop around for the best deal.

Since I use them daily in smoothies and puddings, lately I’ve been buying the Sevenhills 1kg bags as they work out much better value. You can buy them in a range of quantities though, so it’s probably a good idea to start with a smaller bag if you’re trying them for the first time (Holland & Barrett are currently selling a 100g bag for £2.49).

Chia Seeds

So why do I love chia seeds so much?

Well, there are two main reasons. The first is their amazing nutritional profile. Chia seeds are very high in dietary fibre, a good source of ‘complete’ protein, and rich in omega 3 essential fatty acids. They’re also hydrophilic and can absorb around 10 times their weight in water, thus helping to keep us nicely hydrated. Their fibre, fat and protein content, along with these hydrophilic abilities, means that the seeds are a great source of slow release energy, they help to balance blood sugar levels, and they keep us feeling full up for hours. Adding a spoonful to smoothies is a great way to keep hunger pangs at bay.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds contain a range of trace minerals, and are especially rich in manganese, phosphorus and calcium, which are all important for good bone health. A 28g / 1 oz serving provides 30% of the manganese RDA, 27% of phosphorus, and 18% of the calcium RDA. The seeds also contain a multitude of antioxidants, including the flavonoid quercetin, which has anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties.

The second reason I love chia so much is that they make the most incredible chocolate puddings! Once blended with some cacao or cocoa powder and a little liquid, they transform into a delicious, silky smooth pudding that will easily rival any shop-bought chocolate dessert. And unlike the shop-bought varieties that tend to be laden with sugar and little nutritional value, these chia puddings are refined sugar free and packed with nutrition.

Chia Seeds

I used to soak the chia seeds in liquid for an hour or so until they’d transformed into a gel-like substance before blending them up, but these days I literally throw all the ingredients straight in the blender. High speed blenders are best for this job as they’ll blend the seeds smooth in a matter of seconds. Since I’ve had the Froothie, making chia puddings has been a breeze.

Lil’ L absolutely loves these puddings and sees them as a real treat. It’s great to be able to treat him to something that’s so nutritionally packed and full of healthy goodness.

Chocolate Orange Chia Pudding

Have you tried chia puddings before? If so, what’s your favourite flavour combo? If you’ve posted any recipes or pics, please do share the links below x

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Crunchy Nut Apple Crumble (Vegan / Dairy-free) for Suma Blogger’s Network

This year we had a bumper crop of fruit on our apple tree. Thanks to the late September sunshine, within the space of two weeks the apples transformed from green and small to red and huge! We must have picked at least a hundred apples so far. And with this amazing bounty, we’ve been able to indulge in lots of delicious apple treats.

Orchard Apples

For this month’s Suma entry, I thought I’d share one of our all-time favourite Autumnal desserts – Apple Crumble I’ve lost count of the number of crumbles I’ve made this past month, but it could be getting on for ten!

Crunchy Nut Apple Crumble

As well as oats and wholegrain flour, I love to add some pecans and almonds into the crumble, which gives it a delicious crunch. Traditionally, this dessert has a fair amount of cane sugar and dairy butter in it. However, instead of cane sugar, I prefer to use coconut sugar and maple syrup as they add a delicious, caramel-like sweetness and beautiful golden hue to the crumble.

Crunchy Nut Apple Crumble

Instead of dairy butter, I use coconut butter (the aroma-free kind) or a non dairy spread. Through Suma, I discovered the Tiana Organic Coconut Cooking Butter and I’m loving it! It’s really versatile and you can use it for all kinds of cooking and baking. I made some scrumptious pasties with it last week. Unfortunately they were devoured before I could take any pics, so I’ll re-create them soon and post the recipe.

Crunchy Nut Apple Crumble

BTW, those lidded Pyrex glass dishes are really handy for cooking, storing and transporting the crumbles. I took a couple with me to Essex recently to share with our relatives. Stored in a thermal bag, six hours after I’d baked them they were still warm!

Crunchy Nut Apple Crumble

Products used in this recipe (UK stockists)
Pyrex Rectangular Lidded Dish, available from Amazon (currently discounted to £3.50)
Magimix Food Processor
Tiana Coconut Cooking Butter, available from Suma, health food shops and online
Biona Organic Coconut Sugar, available from Suma, health food shops and online
Suma Organic Sultanas, available direct from Suma, via Amazon, and independent health food shops (love that they come in recyclable packaging!)
Clarks Original Maple Syrup, available from Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons

Apple Crumble & Oatly Cream

What’s your favourite fruit crumble? For me, it’s a close call between apple and plum 🙂

Have you made any crumbles this Autumn/Fall? If you’ve posted any recipes, please do share below xx

Chocolate Granola Clusters with Hazelnuts, Pecans and Cranberries

Today, I’d like to share another of my family’s favourite granola recipes. Filled with hazelnuts, pecans, cranberries and chocolatey goodness, this granola is perfect for this season.

Chocolate Granola Clusters with Hazelnuts, Pecans & Cranberries

My garden is bordered by cob nut trees, and this year they produced the most amazing crop. I made a deal with the squirrels whereby I would collect nuts from the low hanging branches, and they could have the rest. They then got to work, burying nuts all over my lawn and flower beds, and in my plant pots. Invariably they forget where they’ve buried them and we end up with nut trees growing literally everywhere!

Cob Nuts

I’m not going to complain though. Nut trees are awesome!

And once they’ve matured, cob nuts are very similar in taste and texture to hazelnuts, so I put them to good use in yummy recipes, like this granola.

Hazelnuts

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Lil’ L loves home-made granola, especially when it’s formed into clusters. It’s so easy to make. You simple press down the mixture as if you’re making a thin granola bar then, once completely cooled, you break it into clusters.

Granola Cluster Making

Our favourite sweetener for granola is maple syrup. This adds a delicious caramel-like sweetness, rather than a ‘sugary’ flavour. I use Clarks Original Maple Syrup, which is a blend of maple and carob syrups. It’s widely available in the UK, and a fair bit cheaper than pure maple syrup. I really like its flavour and consistency, which is slightly thicker than the pure grade syrup.

Granola Clusters

These granola clusters are wonderful for breakfasts, snacks and desserts. For breakfast, we like to serve them with natural non dairy yogurt (such as Alpro) or milk. For an omega-3 boost, I often add a light sprinkling of ground linseed and finely chopped walnuts before serving. I also sprinkle in a few extra cranberries to brighten up the bowl.

Chocolate Granola Clusters with Hazelnuts, Pecans and Cranberries

Layered with yogurt and fresh or frozen fruits, the clusters also make a delicious dessert or after-school snack. They look really fancy yet take literally seconds to throw together!

Chocolate Granola Parfait

Products used in this recipe (UK stockists)
Mornflake Superfast Oats, available in Asda, Morrisons, Tesco and The co-operative (Gluten-free oats are available from the ‘Free From’ aisle in major UK supermarkets and health food stores)
Tesco Buckwheat (found in the wholefoods section) (Buckwheat is also available in health food stores and online)
Biona Coconut Sugar, available from health food stores and online
Dried Cranberries (sweetened with pineapple juice), available from the wholefoods sections in Tesco and Waitrose
Clarks Original Maple Syrup available in Tesco, Asda, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s
Essential Organic Virgin Coconut Oil (available in health food stores and online)

Enjoy! xx

Postscript
Sirilipons … ‘Secret’ nibbling eh? I wondered where the bottom right hand corner had gone. It looks like a giant mouse has been at it. You are so busted!

Granola Cluster Making

Pina Colada ‘Cheesecake’ (Dairy-free / Gluten-free / Vegan)

We’ve had a glorious summer here in the UK

This week, there’s been a change in the air. It’s cooling off, the rain’s returned and the evenings are drawing in.

But before we officially say goodbye to summer, I’m going to enjoy one last weekend of summer dishes, rounded off with a slice or two of this sunshine-filled Pina Colada ‘Cheesecake’. Cheesecake was my favourite childhood dessert, but I love this dairy-free version even more!

Pina Colada Dairy Free Cheese Cake #Vegan #Glutenfree

In this version, the dairy’s been replaced with delicious pineapple and coconut-flavoured cashew cream, gently sweetened with maple syrup. Instead of a biscuit base, we use crushed almonds and pecans for crunch, and dates for sweetness. The cake is then dressed with a layer of crushed pineapple and finished with a sprinkling of coconut flakes.

Pina Colada 'Cheese' Cake #Dairyfree #Glutenfree #Vegan

While cheesecakes aren’t usually considered to be a healthy option, this version is packed with goodness, including lots of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and heart-healthy fats. Like regular cheesecake, it is pretty calorie-intensive, but you’ll find that even the thinnest of slices will leave you feel satiated. Once the cake has firmed up, I slice it then pop it back in the freezer. That way, we can pull out a slice whenever we fancy one.

Pina Colada 'Cheese' Cake #Dairyfree #Glutenfree #Vegan

This recipe first appeared in Issue 3 of the fab e-magazine Fresh Vegan. One of my lovely readers has already made the cheesecake and I was thrilled to hear how much her family enjoyed it. It’s one of my family’s all-time favourite desserts and I hope you enjoy it as much as we do

Note: Recipe updated 9th July 2017 – this is the new and improved version that features in the Bit of the Good Stuff cookbook.

 

Pina Colada 'Cheese' cake #Dairyfree #Glutenfree #Vegan

Do you have anything special planned for this last weekend of August? I’ve got lots of jobs to tackle this weekend… like my jungle of a garden & school uniform buying (as usual I’ve left the latter to the last minute!) Once the jobs are out the way, I’m looking forward to heading out on my bike in the beautiful English countryside.

Whatever you’re up to, have a great weekend everyone! xx

Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free Book Review & Raw Frosted Lemon Poppy Seed Squares Recipe

September saw the launch of Ricki Heller’s much anticipated Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free, featuring the most incredible array of scrumptious desserts that just so happen to be vegan and allergy-friendly!

Naturally Sweet and Gluten Free_3D 400

Ricki’s blog was one of the first food blogs that I came across when I set up Bit of the Good Stuff back in 2011, and she has been a constant source of inspiration to me. Through her blog, ebooks and magazine articles, she’s demonstrated time and again how dietary restrictions, allergies, or the desire to eat healthily, doesn’t mean that we have to miss out on dessert, or settle for one that tastes second rate. Ricki’s desserts are visually beautiful, taste amazing, plus they’re packed with nutrients and healthy goodness! Ricki is certainly one of the most creative recipe developers I’ve ever come across.  

In Naturally Sweet and Gluten Free, Ricki shares with us her vast knowledge of healthy ingredients and baking techniques, as well as tips on how to substitute ingredients. The book’s opening chapter is a great introduction to the world of gluten and allergy-free cooking, and provides lots of useful information including:

Tips on working with gluten free flours
Unrefined sweeteners and the subtle differences between them
Natural egg substitutes
Healthy fats and oils
 
Non dairy milk alternatives

Naturally Sweet & Gluten Free Contents

The following chapters feature one hundred fabulous recipes (most of which are accompanied by beautiful photographs, courtesy of Celine Saki), split into:

Breakfast Bakes (and toppings for pancakes & waffles)
Cookies, Squares & Bars
Cakes, Cupcakes, Toppings & Frostings
Cheesecakes, Pies, Tarts & Puddings
Raw & No Bake Treats

All the recipes contain whole foods and are free of gluten, eggs, dairy and cane sugar. Many are also corn-free, soy-free and nut-free (or provide substitute options).

Recipe Testing!
This week, I’ve had the opportunity to try two of Ricki’s recipes, and both were amazing!  First up, I made her Easiest Almond Cookies. This is the perfect title for these cookies as they couldn’t be easier to make!

Ricki Heller Easiest Almond Cookies 500

My family absolutely loved the flavour and texture of these cookies, and since they’re almost entirely made of almonds, they were super filling too.These cookies proved to be the perfect snack to sustain us during our half-term holiday road trips. If you’d like to try them for yourselves, you’ll find the recipe in Angela Liddon’s review post here (along with some absolutely stunning photographs of Angela’s home baking!)

The second recipe I tried was Ricki’s Raw Frosted Lemon-Poppy Seed Squares. When I first opened Ricki’s book, this is the recipe that immediately jumped out of me. I adore raw desserts and lemony flavoured sweets, so this sounded like my ultimate treat! Raw desserts are so easy to make – it’s just a case of whizzing the ingredients in a food processor then chilling or freezing them. You don’t have to worry about oven temperatures and cooking times. With raw desserts, pretty much nothing can go wrong!

Ricki Heller Raw Frosted Lemon Poppy Seed Squares

I absolutely adored these lemony treats, as did the rest of my family. I followed Ricki’s recipes pretty closely, making only a couple of minor substitutions – using coconut sugar in the base and frosting, instead of stevia (I really liked the flecks of caramel colour that the sugar left in the frosting!)

Ricki Heller Raw Lemon Poppy Seed Squares 500

While I usually make my frostings with cashew cream, I was pleasantly surprised how well this coconut oil-based frosting turned out. Lil’ L commented on how much he loved it too!  For those of you that are new to using coconut oil, or have read mixed reviews concerning its health benefits, check out Kathy Hester’s review of Naturally Sweet and Gluten-Free, in which Ricki shares her views on coconut oil, as well as her delicious Grain Free Autumn Fruit Crumble recipe.

I’ve stashed some of my Raw Frosted Lemon-Poppy Seed Squares in the freezer, so that we can dip into them as and when we fancy a treat. I’m sure it won’t be long though until they’re all gone and I’ll be making a second batch. I have no problems with my family tucking into these treats though as they’re packed with goodness 🙂

Here’s Ricki’s recipe, which I’ve reproduced with kind permission from Sellers Publishing.

I’m on a mission to work my way through all 100 of Ricki’s recipes (it could take me a while!) Next up it’s going to be her Chocolate Pecan Pie. It looks so good!

Ricki Heller Choc-Pecan-Pie 500 copy

If you’d like to try more of Ricki’s recipes, her book is now available to purchase in the UK. The Book Depository is currently selling her book for £9.37, which is a great price for this very substantial, 224-page full colour book.

Baking Gluten and Sugar Free
If you already bake gluten-free, you’ll know that recipes often call for a mix of gluten-free flours and a binder. Many of these ingredients are now available in larger supermarkets and health food stores in the UK, though they’re often easier (and cheaper) to purchase online. My favourite online UK stockists for these products can be found below.

Ricki avoids the use of cane sugar and other high GI sweeteners in her recipes, so all her desserts are suitable for those following a low sugar or anticandida diet. One of her favourite natural sweeteners is pure stevia, which is available in powder form or as a liquid suspension. UK supermarkets sell ‘stevia sweeteners’, but these are combined with fillers such as maltodextrin and aren’t equivalent to pure stevia. Below, I’ve listed stockists of pure stevia that are available to UK residents.

UK Stockists for Ricki’s Gluten-Free and Sugar-Free Recipes

Healthy Supplies has a great range of gluten-free flours, coconut palm sugar, coconut nectar syrup and virgin coconut oils

– The Glastonbury-based Earthfare Natural & Organic Store has an online delivery service that’s great for bulk buying items such as chia seeds, psyllium husks and pure stevia leaf powder.

– I buy Essential Virgin Coconut Oil from Harvest in Bath, but it’s also available from Amazon UK and other online stores.

– Xanthan Gum and agave nectar are available from Asda, Sainsburys, Waitrose, Ocado

– NuNaturals Pure Stevia liquid is available to purchase from Amazon UK, but it’s a bit pricey (£13). I’ve ordered mine from the US store IHerb, where it costs $9.91 (£6.61). If you’re a first time customer to IHerb, you can get $5 off your first order with the code RTM144. To avoid paying customs charges, make sure that your order comes to less than £15, weighs less than 4lbs and you choose Global Priority Mail by DHL. The average delivery time is 10 days (mine arrived within 14 days). I’ve combined 2 bottles in the same order, which should last me a very long time!

 

To connect with the lovely Ricki Heller, you can visit her website and follow her on Twitter or Facebook

 

 

Our Wildlife Garden & Summer Fruits Energy Shake (‘Breakfast in a Glass’)

What a glorious summer we’ve had this year! After a spell of wet, overcast summers, it was such a refreshing change to have blue skies and sunshine for pretty much the whole of July and August.  I absolutely loved it and took every opportunity I could to be outside, making the most of it

The plants and insects clearly loved the weather too!  This year, I decided to let the failed ‘veggie’ patch grow wild and turn it into a little haven for wildlife.

'Veggie' Patch Aug 2013 1 500

The whole summer it’s been a hive of activity, filled with all manner of bee, butterfly and beetle. We’ve also had baby toads and slow worms living in there too!

'Veggie' Patch Aug 2013 3 500

Does anyone know the name of the yellow plant below? I think it’s beautiful and it doesn’t get munched at all. As soon as I know its name, I’ll add it to my list of slug and snail resistant plants 🙂

'Veggie' Patch Aug 2013 4 500

We’ve also had success growing raspberries in the patch 🙂 A generous friend gave me six plants earlier this summer, and by late August they were already producing fruit. This raspberry is golden yellow in colour, which seems to make it less appealing to the birds. While the leaves of the plant have been munched, the fruits haven’t been touched at all!

Raspberries September 2013

Normally at this time of year, I would be out on my bike foraging for blackberries, but this year there was no need. By leaving the garden wild, we ended up with our own bumper crop!

Blackberries 4

In the mornings, I’ve been enjoying energy shakes for breakfast, made with a cup of freshly picked blackberries. By adding in some oats, ground almonds and chia seeds, the shake becomes a very satisfying ‘breakfast in a glass’. The additions make the shake so filling that I don’t get hungry all morning!

Blackberries 3

This shake also makes a fantastic post-exercise recovery drink and after-school ‘snack’ to revive energy levels.  I find they’re especially useful as a filling, energy booster on weekday nights when Lil’ L has after-school activities and dinner is going to be served late.

Blackberry Shake 1 500 copy

These smoothies have been a great way to encourage Lil’ L to eat berries. He still won’t go anywhere near whole berries (it’s a ‘texture thing’) but he’ll happily gulp them down in a shake. When he was little, I used to blend the berries and milk first, then strain it to make it completely smooth before blending in the remaining ingredients. These days, he’s happy to drink the smoothies straight up, pips and all!

Here’s how we make them:

And to make to even more scrumptious, I like to top off my shake with some ground cacao nibs 🙂

Berry Shake with Cacao Nibs 1 500 copy

The Good Stuff ♥
Blackberries – Fantastic immunity boosters, packed with antioxidants, including vitamin C. Also a great source of dietary fibre, vitamin K, and manganese
Fortified soya milk & yoghurt – Good source of protein, calcium, vitamins B12 and D, yoghurt cultures
Oats – Provides slow-release energy

Almonds – Provides protein. Rich source of antioxidant Vitamin E, riboflavin, manganese and magnesium

Chia seeds – Good source of protein and dietary fibre. Rich in calcium, manganese, phosphorous and omega 3 fat
Cacao Nibs – Packed with nutrients, including lots of antioxidants. Check out my raw chocolate post to find out more.

Products used in this recipe
Alpro soya milk and plain soya yoghurt (available in all major UK supermarkets)
Mornflake Superfast Oats (available from Tesco and Asda)
Chia seeds (available from health food stores and online. I purchased mine from Earthfare)
Duronic 1200 1.8 litre Jug Blender, available from Amazon

Cacao nibs – available from health food stores and online. I use the Elements for Life Cacao Nib Grinder

 

Have you had any success growing fruits or veggies this year? Do you ever go foraging?