Chocolate Peppermint Cream Bars. Raw. Dairy-Free. Gluten-Free. Vegan.

Chocolate Peppermint Cream Bar

If you’re a long-time reader of my blog, you may remember my sad attempt to grow veggies a few years back. Everything I planted quickly got devoured by the gazillion veggie-loving critters that live in our garden. Some plants literally disappeared overnight :/

I’ve long since abandoned the veggie patch dream and my latest strategy is to leave the patch in a semi wild state and observe what will happily grow there with no intervention on my part. So far, amongst the multitude of wild flowers and “weeds”, I have three edible crops that are flourishing – Golden Raspberries, Lemon Balm and Chocolate Mint!

Chocolate Peppermint Plant

Continue reading “Chocolate Peppermint Cream Bars. Raw. Dairy-Free. Gluten-Free. Vegan.”

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

[Source]

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! 😀

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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Celebrating my 3 Year Blogiversary with a Yummy Scrummy Giveaway :o)

This week, it’s my blog’s three year anniversary so I think we deserve a little celebration 😉 And what better way to kickstart the celebrations than with a slice or two of my all-time favourite Yummy Scrummy raw chocolate brownie

Not only does it taste utterly scrumptious (the brownie is very aptly named) but it also makes me feel so good!

Yummy Scrummy Raw Chocolate Brownie

No it’s not one of those kinds of brownies! The ‘feel good’ factor comes from the cacao (raw cocoa) which is packed with mood enhancing nutrients, including magnesium, B vitamins, phenylethamine (PEA) (the ‘love’ chemical) and anandamide (the ‘bliss chemical’). For more details on the health properties of cacao, check out this post I wrote back in 2011. This post also included my first ever giveaway, which just so happened to be Yummy Scrummy!

As well as being raw, the Yummy Scrummy bars are free from dairy, gluten, wheat, refined sugar and anything artificial. Instead, they’re gently sweetened with natural fruit extracts (apples, grapes & carob) and filled with wonderful health-enriching ingredients including Ecuadorian Arriba cacao powder, dates, raisins, walnuts, brazil nuts and goji berries. Most of the ingredients are certified organic.

Yummy Scrummy

With all these amazing health and mood boosting nutrients, it’s no wonder that I was hooked after one bite! The combination of ingredients also makes the brownies have a wonderful satiating effect, which means that even a small piece will leave you feeling full up and satisfied. The brownies come in 60g bars, but I tend to slice them in half or thirds so I can savour them over a couple of days.

Yummy Scrummy bars

Over the past few years, I’ve tried other raw chocolate brownies (and made quite a few myself) but Yummy Scrummy is still the best I’ve ever tasted. The bars are lovingly hand made in Wiltshire by Paula Knowlson and I guess it’s her ‘magic touch’ which makes these bars so special

I’ve recently been in touch with Paula & Dan from Elements for Life and they have generously offered four prizes for our giveaway. The first prize winner will receive a whole uncut tray of Yummy Scrummy, and three runners up will win a trio of Yummy Scrummy bars. Yummy Scrummy - Uncut Tray

To be in with a chance of winning, simply fill in the contact form below. Add ‘Yummy Scrummy’ as the subject, then answer the following question…

Where does the vanilla used in Yummy Scrummy come from?

(Hint: the answer can be found on this page of the Elements for Life website).

The giveaway is open to anyone aged 18 or over, living in the European Union.

The closing date is Friday 27th June 2014 at midnight GMT.

Four winners will be selected at random (using Random.org) and notified by email.

GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED!

In addition to Yummy Scrummy, Elements for Life sell a fantastic array of high quality chocolate-making ingredients and super foods. They’ve kindly given me an offer code for my readers. Enter scrummyinmytummy at the checkout to save 10% off any products on their website during June and July 2014.

 

N.B. I received 3 Yummy Scrummy bars to photograph/test but, as always, all opinions are my own.

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! 😀