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!

 

 

Pink Himalayan Salt & Cacao Nib GIVEAWAY & Recipe for Mocha Frappuccinos (Dairy-free, Sugar-free)

Today, I’m very excited to launch a fantastic giveaway! My good friends over at Elements for Life have given me ten of their Pink Himalayan Salt and Cacao Nib Grinders to give away to you, my lovely readers 😀

It makes me so happy when I get to give away products that I love myself. This blogging gig has some seriously great perks! 😀

The Pink Himalayan Salt is sourced from the foothills of the Himalayas, where it was deposited by primal seas millions of years ago. It is totally pure and packed with trace minerals. I use the salt to season savoury meals and to add a touch of saltiness to my raw chocolate barks.

Himalayan Pink Salt

The cacao nibs are sourced from Peruvian cacao beans. Once the beans have been dried, they are crushed and the papery skins removed, leaving the cacao nibs. Since they aren’t roasted, the cacao nibs retain all the goodness found in cacao beans.  They contain a serious amount of nutrients, including lots of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and amino acids.  To find out more about their nutrient content, check out my ‘Wonders of Raw Chocolate‘ post.

Cacao Nibs

I like to sprinkle cacao nibs on my porridge,  banana pancakes, chocolate ‘cashew’ cheese cakes, yoghurts, parfaits, chocolate energy milkshakes, chocolate banana icecream and mocha coffees.  If you like very dark chocolate, you’ll love cacao nibs!

Another great feature of this giveaway is that the two products come packaged in their own glass bottles with plastic grinder tops, which have two settings – coarse and fine. I’ve never had a manual grinder that’s had adjustable settings so I’m loving this feature. It saves me having to get out my electric grinder when I want fine nibs for sprinkling on drinks.

Grinder Lid 500

In addition to my Coffee Frappuccinos, another drink I’m loving at the moment is home-made Mocha Frappuccinos / Frappés.  The coffee shop versions are way too sugary for my liking. They seriously make me nauseous and the feeling lasts for hours 🙁 Instead, I much prefer my home-made version. It’s very simple to make and you can adjust the sweetness to suit your individual tastes. As an added bonus, they’re far cheaper to make yourself. ‘M’ loves them too!

Mocha Frappuccino Dairy Free Sugar Free copy

For a Mocha Frappuccino, I simply use my Coffee Frappuccino recipe and add a tablespoon of cacao powder per person.  While the recipe will work fine with regular cocoa powder, I prefer to use raw cacao powder as I find the taste superior, plus it adds more lovely nutrients 🙂

Just in case you’d like to try it too, here’s how I make it:

Dairy Free Sugar Free Mocha Frappuccino copy

 

GIVEAWAY TIME! NOW CLOSED!

Elements for Life are selling these refillable grinders for £2.75 and £2.95, which I think is a great price considering that they come pre-filled with 100g of the Pink Himalayan salt and cacao nibs, respectively.

However, five of my lucky readers are going to bag themselves one each of the grinders for FREE! 

There are three ways to enter the giveaway:

  1. Leave me a comment below. Anything will do, but I’d love to find out a bit more about you! Are you already a fan of Pink Himalayan salt or cacao nibs, or have you yet to try them? Have you tried any new drinks lately that you’re loving?
  2. Share this giveaway on Facebook by clicking on the ‘Like’ button at the bottom of this post, then leave me a comment below to let me know you have done so.
  3. Share this giveaway on Twitter with something like “I’ve entered the @GoodStuffSharon @MakeRawChoc Pink Himalayan Salt & Cacao Nib Giveaway”, then leave me a comment below to let me know you have done so.

If you enter all three ways, you’ll triple your chances of winning.

Sorry international readers but this giveaway has to be UK only due to the postage costs.

The closing date is Thursday 1st August 2013 at midnight GMT. After this date, 5 lucky winners will be chosen at random.

Good luck everyone! xx

Birthday Celebrations & a Chocolate and Lime Vegan “Cheesecake”

This week it was my birthday.  I never imagined that birthdays would be as much fun at the ripe old age I am now, but how wrong I was.  I actually think this was my best birthday yet! I had a fantastic day, made all the better by the fact that M was able to take the day off work 😀

During the day, we managed to fit in lots of my favourite activities (as you’ll see, eating crops up a lot 😉 )  We started off with one of my favourite bike rides, along the Kennet & Avon Canal to Limpley Stoke where we stopped at the Angel Fish Cafe for a toasted tea bun and cup of coffee.  We then continued through Monkton Coombe, the Two Tunnels, Bear Flat, Widcome and into the centre of Bath.

Me on my Birthday 2013

Along the way, we saw lots of wildlife, including this very cute baby rabbit

Baby Rabbit

For lunch, we went to one of my favourite restaurants in Bath – Thai Basil on Walcot Street – where I had a Thai red vegetable curry.  It was creamy and full of delicious fragrant flavours.  This has got to be one of my favourite curries ever!

Thai Basil - Thai Red Curry

After school, we went to the cinema with Lil’ L to see Epic.  On the way, we stopped off at Hotel Chocolat to buy some vegan chocolate (I can highly recommend the Gianduja Bombe Selector – it’s totally lush!)

Epic the Movie 2013

[Source]

For dinner, we went to another one of my favourite restaurants, the Nepalese Yak Yeti Yak, where we had the delicious Dal Bhat Tarkari (vegetarian/vegan set menu).

Yak Yeti Yak - Vegetarian Platter

Even though I was full up, I couldn’t leave without having the Kir dessert.  This is one of my favourite desserts ever.  It’s a creamed coconut rice pudding lightly spiced with cardamom. I’m going to have to try at make this at home one day. It’s so yummy!

For my birthday cake, I chose to make one of my all-time favourites – Chocolate and Lime Vegan “Cheesecake”.  I much prefer these ‘no bake’ cheese cakes to any kind of baked cake, plus they’re almost impossible to fail at.  You simply throw the ingredients in the food processor, whizz it together then freeze!

Raw / No Bake Chocolate and Lime Cashew "Cheese" Cake

Here’s how I made it…

Note: Almonds and cashews tend to be much cheaper in Asian supermarkets or in the World Aisle of large supermarkets.  For this dessert, I used Aasani almonds and cashews, which are available from the larger UK Tesco stores.

 

We finally got round to eating a slice of birthday cake yesterday and it was absolutely gorgeous!  All three of us loved it and, even though Lil’ L went back for seconds, there’s still plenty in the freezer to share with friends and family (if they’re lucky 😉 )

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! xx

What would be your ultimate birthday cake?

Do you still enjoy your birthdays as much as when you were a kid? (or even enjoy them more, like me!)

 

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

 

Raw Hot Chocolate Review

Those of you that have been reading my blog for a while will know that I’m a HUGE fan of raw chocolate. I adore everything about it… its smell, its taste, not to mention its amazing array of nutritional properties.

It was Dan and Paula from Elements for Life that first introduced me to raw chocolate. After just one little taste of their Yummy Scrummy raw chocolate brownie (pictured above) I was hooked. I came away from their stall at Frome Green Fair with a raw chocolate making kit under my arm and a big smile on my face from having met such a lovely couple. No doubt the smile was also due in part to the kick of serotonin and other ‘feel good’ nutrients found in their raw choc 😉  Honestly, it works that quick. A couple of bites and boom, I’m feeling warm and fuzzy all over.

So when I heard that Dan and Paula had created a range of raw hot chocolate powders, you can imagine how excited I became. I was extremely intrigued to find out what a raw hot chocolate would taste like.

As well as their original hot chocolate, they’ve also created a spiced blend, which contains cinnamon and nutmeg, and a fiery blend which has a smooth chilli bite. Both these new blends have won Taste of the West Awards this year.

All three hot chocolate blends are made with organic ingredients and, unlike most other hot chocolates, they contain no milk (which makes them perfect for those with dairy allergies and intolerances like me) and no refined sugars (which means they’re suitable for diabetics). Instead, they’re gently sweetened with coconut palm sugar (a low GI nutrient-rich natural sweetener).

A stint of heavy hinting on Facebook worked a treat 😉 A few days later, Dan popped round to see me armed with a box of goodies. When I opened the box it felt like Christmas had come early! Inside were six shiny tins of raw hot chocolate as well as one of their newly launched hot chocolate mugs 🙂

For my first taste testing session, I invited my friend Joni to join me. I consider Joni to be a true expert when it comes to hot chocolate. Whenever we go out for coffees, she always orders a hot chocolate. She must have drunk hundreds of different blends in her life, so I was interested to find out what she thought of this raw, sugar free version. Lil’ L also wanted a piece of the action, so I set about making three cups of chocolate. For this session, we chose to try the original blend.

And what did we think? Oh my word it was good! Joni described it as “really smooth, with a great taste”. She mentioned that some hot chocolates leave an aftertaste in your mouth and a coating on your teeth (probably from the refined sugar), but this blend doesn’t have that effect at all. Often, hot chocolates are made way too sweet but, for us, this blend had the perfect level of sweetness.

Lil’ L loved it too and said “I can see why they say it’s so good!” The following morning when we went to a coffee shop Lil’ L ordered a hot chocolate but after a couple of sips he pushed it to one side and refused to drink any more, saying that it was horrible in comparison to the one we’d had at home!  See, even he’s hooked on raw chocolate now 😉  I’m really pleased he prefers it though as it’s way better for him.

The next testing session was for the spiced blend, and the tasters were M and I.  This blend has a deliciously warming cinnamon and nutmeg flavour that makes it the perfect comforting drink for the cold season.  I have to say that, of the three blends, this one is my number one favourite.

And, finally, we tested the fiery chilli. This blend contains Aji Orange Chilli Powder which is grown locally at The Wiltshire Chilli Farm. This raw hot chocolate has a fantastic flavour with a warming spicy kick to it. Perfect for all those chocolate chilli lovers out there!  I served this blend topped with Soyatoo Rice whipped cream and a sprinkling of raw chocolate shavings. Delicious!

So far, I’ve made raw hot chocolates with four different non dairy milksAlpro Almond Milk (sweetened version), Alpro Soya Milk (sweetened version), Kara Coconut Milk and Oat Dream Oat Milk.  All tasted delicious though it’s worth noting that the oat milk did add a hint of oat flavour to the hot chocolate.

On the back of the tin, there are instructions for two different methods for making the drink. I’ve trialled both methods and they both gave great results. Using the first method, I simply used a hand whisk to make the chocolate nice ‘n’ frothy. The second method involves whizzing the hot chocolate with an immersion (stick) blender. This was really effective and created a super frothy chocolate (as seen in the pics above).

During our first tasting session, Joni mentioned that these hot chocolates would make great Christmas gifts for chocolate-loving friends and family and she’s already planning to put an order in to Dan and Paula. I’ll be right behind her!

As well as the individual tins of raw hot chocolate, a new gift set has just been launched which includes a tin of your chosen blend and a mug.

One of my all-time favourite sets from Elements for Life is their raw chocolate making starter kit. This is the perfect gift for foodies and chocolate lovers. I’ve lost count of the amount of kits I’ve bought for friends over the past couple of years. As well as the original kit, they also sell a chilli kit, for those who love a spicy kick to their chocolate.

All the Elements for Life products are available online from www.elementsforlife.co.uk and they have a number of stockists in the Bath/Wiltshire area too. A full list can be found via this link.

GIVEAWAY! NOW CLOSED!

Would you like to try some of the Elements for Life Raw Hot Chocolate yourself? The kind and generous Dan & Paula have given me three tins (one of each of the blends) to give away to my lovely readers. Unfortunately this giveaway is restricted to those living in the UK, but I promise I’ll make it up to my overseas readers next month 😉

There are three ways to enter the giveaway. If you like, you can enter all three ways, tripling your chances of winning. Just remember to leave me a separate comment below this post for each of your entries.

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Leave me a comment below telling me which of the three blends you’d most like to try.
  2. Tweet the giveaway with something like “I’ve entered the @MakeRawChoc Raw Hot Chocolate Giveaway @GoodStuffSharon https://bitofthegoodstuff.com/?p=6487“, then add a comment below to let me know that you have done so.
  3. Promote this giveaway on your Facebook page with something like “I’ve entered the Elements for Life Raw Hot Chocolate Giveaway https://bitofthegoodstuff.com/?p=6487“, then leave me a comment below to let me know you have done so.

The closing date for entries is Thursday 22nd November. After the competition closes, I’ll randomly select 3 winners. The results will be published in my blog post on Friday 23rd November 2012.

Good luck everybody! xx

 

Birthday Celebrations

On Friday, Lil’ L celebrated his 9th birthday. I’m still in shock that he’s 9 already. Where did all that time go???

For the first time in his life, his birthday actually fell on a school day. He wasn’t too impressed about this to begin with, but it turned out to be a really fun day. It was the last day of the term and and they spent the afternoon making Victorian cam toys.  It sounded really cool!

He’d decided to save most of his presents until he got home from school, and he was just so excited and delighted about everything he opened. I loved watching his facial expressions as he ripped the paper off.

Check out his face when he discovered that his Nan had bought him the Nerf Supersoaker Scatter Blast Water Gun!

I couldn’t believe how many presents he’d been given. That boy was seriously spoilt 😉

Reading is still one of his passions and he’s recently got into graphic novels, which are inspiring his imagination and artwork.

He’s also loving the Tom Gates series. From what I can tell, it’s along the lines of The Wimpy Kid but with more graphics.  Here’s the ‘blurb’ (as Lil’ L calls it)….

“Brilliant comedies from a Roald Dahl Funny Prize winning series.  Tom Gates is a master of excuses, expert doodler, comic story writer extraordinaire – and the bane of his grumpy teacher, Mr Fullerman. And in his wacky journals, you’ll find all sorts of comic craziness to make you groan with glee! Tom’s battered homework diaries are crammed with his scribbles, stories and cartoons – as well as comments from the long-suffering Mr Fullerman. What with his awful big sister Delia, his band Dogzombies (rock stars in the making) AND the school disco, Tom’s life isn’t always easy. But it is laugh-out-loud hilarious!”

 

(If anyone’s got a 9-11 year old that would enjoy these books, I’ve spotted a great deal on the Scholastic site, where you can buy 3 Tom Gates books for £10. Here’s the link).

Once the presents were opened, it was time to light the candles on his cake and sing Happy Birthday 🙂

I tried a new vegan chocolate cake recipe for this year’s birthday cake. It was okay, but not outstanding. However, what I did love about the cake was the topping and filling. I could have just eaten a plate of those and skipped the cake 😉  Both were made without any refined sugar and they tasted scrumptious! I will definitely use them again. Here’s how I made them…

In the evening, for a third birthday in a row, Lil’ L chose to go to his favourite Indian restaurant, Rajpoot in Bath. We all had onion bhajis, mango chutney and poppadoms as starters, then Lil’ L and I chose to share three side dishes as our main course…
– Dall Roshun (Mosur Lentils seasoned with garlic)
– Bagun Bhajee (gently spiced aubergines)
– Mushroom Bhajee
… along with some boiled rice. Lil’ L also had a naan.
M chose to have the Navaratan Pulao (a nutty, fruity vegetable pulao).
All the food was absolutely delicious!

And, to top it off, the staff gave Lil’ L an amazing chocolate ice cream dessert as a birthday treat. Check out the huge sparkler that’s stuck in it.  It was awesome!

The birthday celebrations continued all weekend long. On Saturday, he went to the cinema with his best friend to see Madagascar 3. We let them go into the cinema alone (a first for Lil’ L… he was so excited!) while M and I enjoyed some time together in the foyer coffee shop 🙂

The cinema trip was followed by a picnic on the lounge floor, a Lego Star Wars film, then lots of lego building, general larking about, book reading in their sleeping bags and then, at nearly midnight, there was silence as the boys finally fell asleep 😉

Lil’ L had such a fantastic birthday weekend and thank you so much to everyone for all the kind birthday wishes, cards and presents he’s been sent. The ‘thank you’ cards are in production 🙂

Take care everyone!

I hope you’re having a great week so far 🙂 xx