Healthy Snacking – ‘Crispy Kale’ (Kale Chips) with Gomasio

One of my first ever blog posts, back in June 2011,  was about ‘crispy kale’ and, to this day, it remains one of my all-time favourite snacks

While a lot of health food bloggers are currently enjoying raw kale salads or kale smoothies, my taste buds aren’t quite there yet. I do, however, LOVE crispy kale and will happily munch my way through handfuls of the stuff.

Crispy kale is also one of the best ways I’ve found to encourage Lil’ L to eat kale. I often put a bowl out as a starter or as a side dish and, before I even get to sit down at the table, the whole lot’s been demolished!

Kale

Over the past three years, I’ve been refining the way I make my crispy kale. In the early days, I had the oven temperature too high, so the kale would quickly burn on the edges. I’ve slowly lowered the temperature from 180C, and found 150C to be spot on – the kale becomes totally crispy with no burned edges or soggy leaf in sight.

Roasting the kale at the lower temperature also makes it stay crispier for longer. In an airtight container, it will stay crispy for days. (I’ve only trialled storing it for test purposes mind you, as there’s never any leftovers in my house!)

Crispy Kale

My favourite way to serve crispy kale is with a touch of salt, sugar and sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds. I tend to grind the sesame seeds first, as it helps them to stick to the kale leaves. As you probably know, ground toasted sesame and salt is a Japanese seasoning called ‘gomasio’. You can buy it ready made in health food stores, but it’s super simple and cheap to make yourself.

Gomasio (Toasted Sesame Seeds & Salt Seasoning)

I use gomasio as a seasoning for lots of our Asian dishes, including stir fries. Since I like to liberally sprinkle it on, I only add a small amount of salt. I find that toasted sesame has a great flavour anyhow. It just needs a touch of salt to make the flavour ‘pop’.

Thanks to the two main ingredients – kale and sesame – this is one super healthy snack! Just one cup of cooked kale provides 354% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin A, 89% of the vitamin C, and 1328% of vitamin K! Kale also provides good amounts of calcium and iron, as well as protein, dietary fibre and omega 3 essential fatty acids. Sesame seeds are also packed with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, rich in minerals including calcium and iron, and a good source of protein, dietary fibre and B vitamins.

Crispy Kale (Kale Chips)

Here’s the recipe for what is, for me, the perfect crispy kale. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Crispy Kale (Kale Chips)

Do you make crispy kale / kale chips? If so, I’d love to hear what your favourite seasoning is. Have you tried Chinese, Mexican or Indian spices yet?

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Stuff I’m Loving – Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Snack Edition

In today’s post, I thought I’d take a break from home cooking and share my latest favourite store-bought snacks. Like most families, we don’t always have the time to create all our food from scratch, so I like to keep a stash of ready-made snacks and treats in the pantry. They come in really handy when we’re heading out for the day or travelling, as well as for serving at impromptu coffee mornings and play dates.

All the goodies I’m featuring have recently been launched, so I’m very excited to be sharing them with you today! In my opinion, they are easily as good (if not better!) than my home-made snacks.  They’re all filled with whole food ingredients, contain no junk, and taste totally scrummy. Oh and they also happen to be both gluten free and dairy free!

9bar Breakfast
I was really excited when I heard that a new range of 9bars were coming out this month, and especially that they were going to be vegan and gluten free! These new bars are designed to be a ‘breakfast on the go’ so perfect for those days when we need to dash out early, or when we’re travelling. I’ve found they also make a great refuelling snack for hikes and bike rides, and after-school snack (Lil’ L and his friends enjoy sharing a bar). They’re packed with nutrition – sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and hemp seeds, nuts, oats, puffed brown rice and soya ‘crispies’ (which give them a lovely crunchy, crispy texture). They come in a range of flavours – Cashew & Cocoa, Apricot & Strawberry, Almond & Raspberry and Peanut & Raisin. They’re all totally scrummy but, if I were pushed to pick a favourite, I would have to say the Cashew & Cocoa. I’m a sucker for anything chocolatey 😉

9Bar Breakfast

Nairn’s Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Biscuit Breaks
I would never have guessed that these choc chips biscuits are gluten-free. They taste just like regular oaty biscuits, well nicer actually… M is the ‘biscuit connoisseur’ of the family and he said he would choose to buy these choc chip biscuits over regular ones! Nairn’s oats are carefully farmed to ensure there’s no cross-contamination with gluten grains, and all their products are made in a gluten free bakery. These yummy biscuits (‘cookies’ to our overseas friends) make a great accompaniment to hot drinks, or as a ‘snack on the go’ (they come in pouches of four, so handy for popping in your bag). I have a number of friends that are coeliac or gluten-intolerant, so I’m going to keep a stash of these biscuits in the pantry ready for coffee mornings. They don’t contain dairy either, so perfect for vegans and the dairy intolerant (that’s me!)

Nairns Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Biscuit Breaks 400

Landgarten Organic Dark Chocolate Soya Snack
The Vegan Kind April Subscription Box arrived the day before our trip to Lanzarote and when I spotted the chocolate-covered roasted soya beans, I knew they’d make the perfect snack for the journey. As soon as I found my seat on the plane, I ripped open the packet and started tucking in. The packet is a pretty substantial size, but I was so absorbed in my holiday read (Chris Hadfield’s An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth) that, before I knew it, I’d scoffed the lot! I’m a bit of a fan of the Landgarten goodies. I featured their chocolate-covered pumpkin seeds in my January ‘Stuff I’m Loving’ post. I think I love the soya nuts even more!

Landgarten Dark Chocolate Soya Snack

Pudology Puddings
I very rarely buy shop-bought desserts as they tend to contain dairy, however as soon as I heard about the new range of Pudology indulgent desserts that are both dairy and gluten-free, I couldn’t wait to try them! They come in a range of flavours and, so far, we’ve tried three – Chocolate (chocolate ganache with Madagascan vanilla), Chocolate Orange (chocolate & orange ganache with Brazilian orange oil) and Banoffee (layers of biscuit, toffee, banana & chocolate). Oh my word they are good! Lil’ L described them as a “luxurious treat” which sums them up perfectly. These desserts make a wonderful weekend treat. They’re also perfect for treating your dairy or gluten intolerant loved ones

Pudology Puds

Rebel Kitchen Choco Mylk
This is another goodie that Lil’ L and I were thrilled to find in the The Vegan Kind April Subscription Box. We love chocolate milk, but find that the shop-bought brands tend to contain dairy or are too sugary for us. The Rebel Kitchen Choco Mylk is 100% spot on! It has a beautiful, rich chocolatey flavour and is definitely sweet enough to suit children’s palates. However, unlike other chocolate milks, this one is full of goodness and contains no nasties. It’s made with just four ingredients – water, coconut milk (11%), date nectar and cacao (2%). And what cool packaging too! I can’t wait to try out the other Rebel Kitchen mylks (they even have an adult range!)

Rebel Kitchen Choco Mylk copy

Have you discovered any tasty dairy- & gluten-free snacks lately? If so, please do share details below. I’m always on the look out for new products to try! 😀

 

N.B. This review contains samples that I was sent to try but, as always, all opinions expressed are my own. In my reviews, I only feature products that are ‘hits’ with my family and that I think would appeal to my readers ♥

Fresh Vegan Magazine & Day Radley’s Banana Notella Pancakes (Vegan and Gluten-Free!)

Fresh Vegan is a digital food magazine for the UK and Europe. Launched in Winter 2013, the magazine will appeal to anyone interested in plant-based eating, whether they be omnivores, vegetarians, vegans or the health conscious.

Fresh Vegan Spring 2014 Magazine Cover 300

The magazine’s 100+ pages are jam-packed with features, interviews and recipes from chefs, restaurant owners, street food vendors, food writers, authors, bloggers and food producers from all over the UK and Europe.

Oz from Sultan's Delight at Street Diner
Here’s the lovely Oz from Sultan’s Delight in Brighton (one of the contributors in the Spring issue)

The magazine also has great features on where to eat, sleep and shop for vegan goodies in locations around Europe and the UK. In the Spring issue, the spotlight was on beautiful Cornwall, Prague and Germany.

Prague
LoVeg vegan restaurant in the stunning old city of Prague

Alongside the features, the contributors share one or more of their favourite recipes. One recipe in the Spring issue that caught my eye was Day Radley’s Banana Notella Pancakes, which happen to be both vegan and gluten-free! I’ve had success with gluten-free American-style pancakes before (my favourite is this Blackstrap Ginger Cookie Pancake), but I’ve never tried a crêpe-style (ie. folding) gluten-free pancake before. Since Lil’ L is such a ‘pancake monster’, I knew this would be a great recipe to share with the family.

The pancake was filled with home-made vegan nutella. While I’ve made lots of versions of dairy-free nutella in the past (using both raw and roasted nuts), I’d never made one the same way at Day. I was intrigued to give it a try!

Healthy Vegan Nutella

And the verdict? Both the pancakes and the ‘notella’ were a big hit with the family! The banana pancake had a nice texture and flavour, and while much thicker than a classic crêpe, I was still able to fold it. I trialled the pancakes using Doves gluten-free plain white and brown bread flours, and both worked.

Vegan & Gluten Free Banana Nutella Pancake

The ‘notella’ was really yummy! Day recommends using a blender but I knew my blender wouldn’t be up to the job, so I used the food processor instead. I did need to add more water to achieve a smooth, spreadable consistency and I also added some vanilla extract, but that was just down to personal taste.

The ‘notella’ is also scrumptious served on warm toast

Here’s Day’s lovely recipes (with my notes and ‘tweaks’ in brackets)

Healthy Vegan Nutella

SPECIAL OFFER: Fresh Vegan is offering Bit of the Good Stuff readers the chance to download the Spring 2014 issue in PDF format for just £1.95 (usual price £3.95). Click here to purchase. Offers end Sunday 25th May 2014.

And keep a look out for the Summer issue of Fresh Vegan. You must just spot a familiar face in there 😉

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! xx

‘Rise and Shine’ Oaty Pineapple Breakfast Smoothie (Dairy-free)

The British winter was more like a monsoon this year. For over two months it rained pretty much continuously, and often accompanied by gail force winds. It’s been yet another crazy weather season, with January recorded as the wettest winter month since 1767! Thousands of homes experienced terrible flooding, especially on the Somerset levels. While our garden has been completely submerged under water three times since Christmas Eve, fortunately our house is elevated and out of harm’s way.

We’re now coming to the end of March and we’re STILL experiencing rain pretty much every day here in the South West. However, there are breaks and when the sun comes out and the clouds disappear, it’s absolutely glorious! I’d forgotten how wonderful it is to feel the warmth of the sun on your skin!

Japonica March 2014

As the sunny spells are so fleeting, I’m grabbing every opportunity to get out there and make the most of them. The garden is starting to come to life and it’s been a joy to see the Spring flowers popping up. Every where I look, there’s a hive of activity in the garden. The bees, butterflies, ladybirds and toads are all out of hibernation, and the birds are busy pairing up and make nests. This truly is a wonderful time of year! Now if the rain could just go away for a while so I can go jogging without getting wet or having to run with an umbrella, then that really would be the icing on the cake 😉

Primroses March 2014

For today’s recipe, I’d love to share one of Lil’ L and I’s favourite ‘power boosting’ breakfast smoothies. This one contains fresh pineapple, which has powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. For slow-release energy, a protein boost and delicious creaminess, we add oats and chia seeds. The chia seeds also give the smoothie an omega-3 boost and have this amazing satiating effect, leaving you feeling full up for hours.

'Rise and Shine' Pinapple Oat Breakfast Smoothie | Bit of the Good Stuff

To ramp up the nutritional factor even more, we add a spoonful of baobab powder. This natural fruit powder boasts some amazing nutritional stats, including 3 times more calcium than milk and 6 times more antioxidants than blueberries!

When the sun peeked out the other day, I grabbed the opportunity to drink my smoothie in the garden. Five minutes of bliss!

Products used in this recipe
So far, I’ve made this smoothie with Alpro Almond milk & Soya milk and Rice Dream Rice Milk
Chia Seeds, available from health food stores and online, including Amazon

Baobab Fruit Powder from the Eden Project (gifted to me)
Mornflake Superfast Oats

'Rise and Shine' Pineapple Oat Breakfast Smoothie

 

 I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend everyone! xx

New Stuff I’m Loving – January 2014

I love trying out new foodie products and, when it comes to anything remotely ‘treat-like’, the boys are more than happy to join in the testing 😉

These past couple of months, we’ve tried lots of ‘new-to-us’ snacks and treats largely thanks to The Vegan Kind (TVK) monthly subscription box. It’s always a delight to see the postman when he knocks on the door with the latest TVK box!

Here’s some of the new stuff we’ve been loving this month

1. Beond Organic Acai Berry Bar
This 100% organic raw fruit and nut bar came in our latest TVK box. It’s packed with flavour and has the most amazing berry smell that hits you as the wrapper’s torn open. It’s made by a small ethical company called Pulsin, based in Gloucestershire. They sell a whole range of snack and protein bars, including the beautifully named ‘Bliss Bar‘ which I definitely need to try 😉

Beond Acai Berry Bar

UPDATE 5/2/14: Pulsin have kindly sent me an online discount code for my readers which gives a whopping 25% discount off all their products. Enter HEALTHY2014 at the checkout. The code is valid until the end of February 2014 and is restricted to one use per customer. Pulsin bars are also available to purchase in independent health food shops, Wholefoods Market, Planet Organic, The NutriCentre, Revital, and Holland and Barrett.

2. Perry Court Farm Air Dried Pear Crisps
Lil’ L isn’t normally a fan of pears, but he absolutely loved these crisps (another treat from our TVK box!) I was amazed to find that they’re made from 100% pear! Despite having no oil or sugar, they’re super sweet and crunchy. The crisps are hand picked from Perry Court Farm in Kent. They would make a great lunchbox treat. They even count as one of your five a day!

Perry Court Farm Pear Crisps 2

3. Landgarten Organic Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Snack
The latest TVK box proved to be a huge hit with the family, as we loved these chocolate-coated pumpkin seeds too! Lil’ L has been really enthusiastic about them, and loves to add a few to his lunchbox as a treat. I love nutrient-rich treats and these are packed with magnesium, iron, zinc and phosphorus. Landgarten snacks are available from independent health food stores and online, from their own website and Amazon.

Landgarten Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Seeds

4. Montezuma’s Christmas Spiced Mandarin Drinking Chocolate
This is one of the best drinking chocolates I’ve ever tasted! It’s made of shards of chocolate (as opposed to powder) and flavoured with vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and mandarin oil. For me, this chocolate has the perfect level of sweetness. It does contain sugar, but it’s not sickly at all. Lil’ L loves it too, and he’s been enjoying a cup every day on his return from school. Sipping one of these is a great way to wind down after a busy day! I’m not sure how long this flavour will be available as it’s seasonal. It’s currently in stock at Amazon, so I’m going to snap some up quick as we’ve nearly run out!

Montezumas Spiced Mandarin drinking chocolate 5. Twinings Ginger Green Tea
M and I first tried this tea at my mum’s, and we’ve been hooked on it ever since! I’m not usually a fan of green tea, but this one is packed with warming, spicy ginger. I literally feel myself warming up from the inside out as I sip this drink! Twinings teas are widely available in supermarkets, but this flavour seems quite hard to come by (I’ll have to find out why!) It’s available at Sainsbury’s, and I occasionally find it in my local Waitrose in Bath. It’s also available online.

Twinings Green Tea with Ginger

Have you tried any new food or drinks lately?  I’d love to hear your recommendations!

 

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