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

 

Chocolate Valentines Treats

I can’t believe it’s February already!  This  means that in just two weeks’ time it’s Valentine’s Day .  I love this day because it gives us a great excuse to indulge our loved ones with some delicious chocolatey treats.  This year, I thought I would make my Valentines treats in advance so that I could share the recipes with you and demonstrate how easy they are to make 🙂

The chocolate goodies I have for you today are dairy free, gluten free and refined sugar free.  They taste decadent yet they’re healthy. What better way to treat those we love?

Home-made desserts and treats tend to taste way nicer than the shop bought, mass manufactured varieties, and all that thought and effort that you put into making a home-made Valentines gift is bound to win you some brownie points with your loved ones.  And talking of brownies…

How about making some Chocolate Pecan Brownie Hearts?

Raw No Bake Chocolate Pecan Brownie Heart - 500

These raw / no bake brownies have a beautiful, sophisticated taste, which makes them perfect for our grown up loved ones.

And making them could not be easier!

Another of my favourite raw / no bake chocolate treats is the Chocolate Cashew “Cheese” Cake.  This is a delicious, dairy-free alternative to the traditional cheese cake.  It also happens to be one of Lil’ L’s favourite desserts so I’ve made two hearts this year…

One topped with red currants and raspberries glazed in natural syrup for M…

Raw No Bake Chocolate Cashew Cream Cake with Berries - 500 1

And a heart topped with grated chocolate for Lil’ L 🙂

Raw No Bake Chocolate Cashew Cream Cake - 500 2

These treats are incredibly simple to make, yet look very professional indeed.  I’m sure they’ll be a huge hit with your loved ones, whatever their age!

Here’s how to make them:

I always buy the Asian branded raw cashews and almonds from the World Food aisles as they tend to be way cheaper than the nuts you find in the home baking section. If you click on the ingredient links above you’ll be able to compare the prices.

I know that some of you are going to be way too busy to make home-made treats so, if you find you’re struggling for time, you can always cheat and buy online instead! You can check out this valentine’s offers shelf for inspiration on chocolates, candles, wine and champagne gifts.

I’ve got some more easy home-made Valentines treats coming up next week, including a scrumptious chocolate giveaway 😉  I’ll meet you back here very soon! xx

[These recipes have been submitted to Ricki Heller’s #Wellness Weekend]

I’ve been a long-standing registered user of mySupermarket and would like to express my gratitude to them for sponsoring this post.

 

#WIAW – I’ll Bring the Chickpea & Vegetable Balti (& recipe!)

Upon my return from the school run this morning, I spotted the first signs of new life in our (otherwise dead looking) garden. The snowdrops seem to have appeared overnight!

Snowdrops

And what a joy they are to behold 🙂

For this week’s WIAW party, I’m sharing our eats from Sunday, which included some of our all-time favourite breakfasts, lunches and dinners. I’ve even written up another one-pot recipe to share. I’ve got such a backlog of recipes to write up… but I’m getting there… slowly!

Thanks, as always, to our most gracious host, Jenn over at Peas and Crayons.

Breakfast

As it was Sunday, Lil’ L was very keen to have a ‘special breakfast’. He’d spotted some very ripe bananas sitting in the fruit bowl and suggested we make some banana pancakes. I halved our usual recipe, used two frying pans, and speedily made 6 pancakes, which we shared 🙂

Banana Pancake with nut and choc chip topping - 500

We’ve been playing around with new toppings for pancakes. This week we had pecans, walnuts, dessicated coconut, choc chips and a drizzle of maple syrup. This combo went perfectly with the banana pancakes.  It was very yummy indeed 🙂

Lunch

Ready for when M got back from his Sunday morning marathon mountain bike ride, I made a large pot of watercress, leek and potato soup, which we served with chunks of wholegrain, seeded bread.

Watercress & Leek Soup - 500

You might be surprised to hear that this is one of Lil’ L’s favourite soups. He’s been eating eat since he was about 2. While raw watercress can be quite peppery, when combined with potato and leek in a soup, it takes on a wonderful, mild taste.

For lunch time dessert, we had a slice (or two!) of raw chocolate and lime cashew cream cake. I actually made this cake for M’s birthday back in December but we never got round to eating it!

Raw Chocolate Lime Cashew Cream Cake - 500

This dessert is really good. Lil’ L described it as ‘scrumdiddlyumptious’! I scribbled notes of how I made it on a scrap of paper and as soon as I locate it (!), I’ll write up the recipe and post it.

Dinner

Our Sunday dinner wasn’t particularly traditional… we had a Chickpea and Vegetable Balti served with home-made naans.  Mind you, maybe curry has become the traditional English Sunday dinner. It wouldn’t surprise me. I can happily eat curry any day of the week 🙂

Chickpea & Vegetable Balti

This balti was designed to be mild enough for children, but if no kiddies are going near the balti bowls, feel free to crank up the heat!

Here’s how I made it:

Lil’ L loved this dish so much that he ‘bagsied’ the fourth portion and took it to school the next day for his lunch, rolled in a seeded tortilla wrap!

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

Dessert

To boost our calcium, fruit and omega-3 intake, for dessert we had a berry milkshake smoothie. Since Lil’ L doesn’t like the pips from raspberries and blackberries (I’m not that keen either!), I blended the berries and almond milk first, then sieved it before returning it to the blender and adding banana and chia seeds.  It was creamy, refreshing and ‘special’ enough to be considered a ‘real dessert’ by Lil’ L 😉

Berry Milkshake Smoothie

So that’s me done for another WIAW.  It’s time to hook up with all the lovely bloggers over at Jenn’s. Hopefully see you there!

Are you a fan of curry? If so, what’s your favourite type?
I adore Indian kormas and baltis as well as creamy Thai curries.  I’m such a wimp though when it comes to heat. Anything beyond ‘mild’ and I feel like a pressure cooker about to explode!

Breakfast Hot Chocolate

On dark, chilly mornings, my preference is for a breakfast that’s going to be warming and filling.  One of my current breakfast obsessions is this….

Spiced Hot Chocolate with Protein & Omega 3 - 500

Hot chocolate!

However, this is no ordinary hot chocolate.  I add some secret ingredients into the blend to transform it into a full breakfast in a glass 😉

Here’s a sneaky peek…

Spiced Hot Chocolate with Protein & Omega 3 - Ingredients 500

I add three ‘super foods’ to this hot chocolate, which are packed with nutrients: chia seeds, shelled hemp seeds and ground almonds.   Here’s a quick run down of their great properties:

Chia Seeds

  • Good source of protein, and contains all 9 essential amino acids.
  • Very rich source of omega 3 essential fatty acid.
  • Good source of minerals, notably phosphorus, manganese, calcium and zinc.
  • High in dietary fibre.
  • Easily digested and absorbs more than 9 times its weight in liquid when soaked, helping to regular blood sugar and hydration.

Hemp Seeds

  • High protein content and contains all the essential amino acids, making it a ‘complete’ protein.
  • Has the perfect ratio of omega-3 to omega-6.
  • Contains phytosterols, which have been shown to reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol.
  • High content of antioxidants (all part of the Vitamin E family).
  • The globulin edestin in hemp seed closely resembles that found in human blood plasma and is completely compatible with the human digestive system, making it easily digested, absorbed and utilised.

Almonds

  • Good source of protein.
  • High in minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc,  manganese and copper.
  • Great source of antioxidants, including vitamin E
  • Contain lots of compounds called phytochemicals which help protect against cardiovascular disease and fight free radical damage.
  • Good source of dietary fibre.
  • Low in saturated fat and a good source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.

While you can use regular cocoa powder in this drink, I use raw cacao powder, which has a huge range of health benefits (check out this post for more info).

After reading about all these wonderful nutritional benefits, you’re going to feel so good when you drink a glass of this hot chocolate 😉

As well as adding lots of great nutrients, I find that the addition of the seeds and ground almonds actually enhances the texture of the hot chocolate, making it lovely ‘n’ creamy. Also, thanks to the seeds and almonds (especially the chia seeds), just one glass of this hot chocolate will leave you feeling full up.

As well as making the perfect ‘breakfast in a glass’ for chilly mornings, it also makes a great post-school or work snack.  I hope you love it as much as we do!

Here’s how I make it:

Delicious!

[This recipe has been submitted to Ricki Heller’s #Wellness Weekend 20-24 December 2012]

Spiced Hot Chocolate with Protein & Omega 3 - drunk 500

Suppliers

Shelled hemp seeds, chia seeds and raw cacao powder are available from health food stores.  If you live in the Bath area, they can be bought from Harvest, on Walcot Street.

Shelled hemp seeds and chia seeds are also available from Holland & Barrett stores, as well as from their online shop.

Good Hemp supply a great range of hemp products.  I contacted them today, and they’ve kindly given me a discount voucher for their online shop to share with my lovely readers 🙂  Just enter goodstuff20 at the checkout to receive 20% off all their products! The voucher expires on 30th December 2012.

In addition to their seeds I highly recommend the Good Hemp oils and milks.  I haven’t tried my hot chocolate using hemp milk yet, but Good Hemp have assured me that it’s delicious. I’ll definitely give it a try and report back!

Raw cacao powder, shelled hemp seeds and chia seeds are available from Elements for Life, both online and from stockists in the South West of England (see their website for details).  In replacement of the raw cacao powder, vanilla and sweetener in my hot chocolate drink, you could use some of the delicious Elements for Life raw hot chocolate powders.

Healthy Supplies offer a huge array of super foods from their online store, including chia seeds and shelled hemp seeds. They have a structured discounting system that is available to everyone all year round.

Magic Mayan Raw Chocolate Giveaway Results

And just before I go, I must share the results of my December giveaway.  The entries were places in chronological order, and three winners selected at random.

Magic Mayan Chocolate Giveaway 400

The lucky winners are…

  • Laura Agar Wilson
  • Karin
  • Althaf

Congratulations guys!  Please email me your postal addresses (sharon at bitofthegoodstuff dot com) and I’ll arrange for the chocolates to be sent to you asap x

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