Hey folks. Here I am! How’s things? I know things have been a little quiet around here, I won’t bore you with the details because we’ve all got our own things going on! Things happen, ya know. I read THIS great article over the weekend, and it hit home a lot. So I’ll keep it short and sweet tonight, so we can all have some happy heart time with our loved ones, plus I’ve got an overdue hot date with my sofa this evening. Hold onto those happy hearts. Read more
Let me give you some advice. Do not try to frantically cook 3 recipes for your blog, on a Sunday afternoon, when you may or may not be nursing a sore head from one too many Somerset ciders from the night before, with only an hour of daylight left. It will result in a kitchen resembling something of a war zone, you will stress yourself out and fall over things in your hurried, rushed state. Not unless you have a strong mind and 6 arms.
However, the result is some darn tasty treats, preparing you for the week ahead. Some little bites of love, for your loved ones. I’m not one for a soppy love fest on St Valentine’s day, but hey, this is chocolate, and you’d have to be crazy to say no to that, right?!
Raw Chocolate Hearts (gf) (v)
60g raw cacao butter
50g raw cacao powder
Optional: 1 tablespoon maple syrup / 1 tablespoon raw coconut oil
Bring a pan of water to the bowl, place a bowl over the sauce pan, it should be sitting just above the boiling water, not submerged.
Add your cacao butter to the bowl and melt slowly, turning the heat down so the water is lightly simmering.
Once melted, add in the cacao powder and whisk well to combine.
If using, add coconut oil and maple syrup. You could also add in a drop of peppermint essence, or some rose water, to flavour the chocolates.
Once combined, pour the chocolate into the heart moulds.
Leave to set in the fridge for 1 hour.
The sun is still shining in the West Country. Parks are rammed with passed out sun worshippers. Beer gardens are brimming with smiley cider faces. I’m going to leave it on that note and join those smiley, cider drinking, sun worshippers. Enjoy this weeks recipe friends!
Cookies are always a good idea. A must have lunch box addition. The best rucksack snack. Mid morning bite. Cookies are my favourite.
I’m really into nut flours at the moment. Yes, they are slightly more expensive than regular flour. But they provide much more flavour and protein to a recipe. Plus it means these little gems are gluten free!
Peanut and Chocolate Chunk Cookies (gf) (df)
Makes 6-8 Cookies
100g peanut flour (I used Sukrin)
Handful GF rolled oats
40g unrefined Muscavado sugar (can be light or dark)
100g dairy free 80% dark chocolate (crushed into small chunks)
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon date syrup (sub with maple syrup if you don’t have date)
2 tablespoons almond milk – if needed
Preheat oven to Gas Mark 4 / 180 C
In a bowl, mix flour, oats, baking powder, sugar and chocolate chunks.
Whisk together the eggs and the date syrup, for 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.
Mix wet with dry, add a touch of milk if needed.
Chill cookie mix in fridge for 1 hour
Remove dough from fridge. Mould into balls and place on a lined baking tray, press down on the cookies to form circles about ½ inch thick.
Bake for 10-12 mins. Leave to cool fully before enjoying.
Sukrin kindly donated the flour for this recipe. Opinions are all mine.
Today’s post is sponsored by awe. Awe at my surroundings. Awe at my loved ones. Awe at nature. But mainly awe at the human body. It is such a great and powerful thing, and I think it deserves a round of applause.
I was out running today (something I have unexpectedly become quite attached to) and this wave of emotion came over me. There I was, jogging along, without stopping, for some time. These limbs were rotating and bending a long, without complaint. The human body is an amazing thing, and what it can accomplish is even more inspiring. For possibly the first time ever, I felt proud of my body, and it’s capability. It’s willingness to keep going, keeping my legs moving, arms swinging, heart beating.
I want to do a marathon this year. Something which is pretty ambitious (super ambitious for me!) but I really want to do one. I’m starting to get into running a lot more, and would like to set myself a goal, an aim of achievement! I applied to the NY Marathon, but unfortunately didn’t get a place. My Mum on the other hand, got one. WOOHOOOO, go mumma! I encouraged her to sign up with me, so feel a little bad I won’t be running along side her. I will, however, be cheering my heart out from the sidelines. Plus, I’m not going to complain about a holiday to New York now, am I?
These brownies are a great post-run treat. They’re gluten free, are low in sugar, and have no dairy, just some eggs for protein. Perfect to get some fuel in you after that soul boosting run.
250g organic dark chocolate (dairy free)
150g ground almonds
3 tablespoons coconut oil
3 + 2 tablespoons tahini
2 large eggs
2 heaped tablespoons organic cocoa powder
1 tablespoon date syrup (use maple if you don’t have date)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Pinch of sea salt
Optional: Cacao nibs / dried cranberries / flaked almonds
In a pan, melt the chocolate, tahini and coconut, stirring well to combine. Set aside
In a bowl, beat the eggs for 5 mins, until they start to become fluffy. Add in the vanilla, date syrup, cocoa powder and salt. Beat well.
Fold in melted choc mixture.
Fold in ground almonds, and if using, nibs/almonds/cranberries
Pour into a lined baking tray. Dollop the tahini around the mix, and using a knife, swirl it throughout the tray.
Bake for 20- 25 mins. Bake at 350F or 170C!
Once cooked, leave to cool and, for best results, refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
December always seems to make people reminisce. Look back on the year they’ve had, the highs and lows, proud moments and memories. Nostalgia and the festive season seem to go hand in hand.
I was thinking about a family holiday we had back in April. 10 of us down in Cornwall for a week, in a beautiful house overlooking the sea. Days spent walking the coast, and exploring little seaside villages. This reminded me of some gorgeous organic flour I bought from a local bakery there. They had the most amazing array of breads and buns. All shapes and sizes.
After a quick rummage through our (sadly very disorganised) cupboards, I found this beautiful whole-wheat flour sat at the back. This was not a flour to waste sitting in a dark cupboard.
Oh no, this was a flour to share, to create something everyone would want a piece of.
We knead to talk about these buns.
These buns call for the Chocolate Almond Butter I wrote about a few days ago. They are a great item for the festive season, fun to make and even better to share with loved ones, while swapping memories of the year, over a nice mulled wine.
Chocolate Almond Swirl Buns with Cashew Cream Icing
Makes 8-10 buns
For the buns
500g organic whole-wheat flour (substitute for any gluten-free flour if needed)
1 pack fast action yeast
70g unrefined light brown sugar
200ml almond milk
1 tablespoon coconut oil
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
270g Chocolate Almond Butter
For the icing
200g cashews (soaked for 3-4 hours or overnight)
2 tablespoons agave or maple syrup
2 tablespoons water (add more if necessary)
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5
Slowly heat the milk and coconut oil together in a pan. Remove from heat as soon as you see bubbles forming at the side of the pan.
In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, spices, yeast and salt. Add the egg, and milk/oil mixture and mix well. Start to knead the mixture with your hands until everything has combined.
Tip onto floured work surface and knead for 5-10 mins, until the dough is slightly shiny and smooth. Alternatively mix with a dough hook in a stand alone mixer.
Cover the dough with a warm, damp cloth and leave to rise somewhere warm for 25 mins.
Once the dough has risen, tip out onto a floured work surface.
With a rolling-pin, roll out the dough into a rectangle, about ¾ centimetre thick.
Spread your nut butter all over the dough, right to the edges.
Tightly roll up the dough and pinch the ends to seal. Cut your roll into 9 even pieces.
Place, cut side up, in a lightly greased baking dish.
Cover again and leave to rise for a further 30 mins.
Once risen, bake in the oven for 20 mins.
Cashew Cream Icing
Rinse soaked cashews well.
Add to blender or food processor with the agave and water.
Blitz until smooth, add more water if needed.
Refrigerate for 1 hour. The longer you leave it in the fridge, the thicker it will become.
Drizzle on warm buns and enjoy.
Where did December come from?! This year was plodding along at a seemingly reluctant pace, and now all of a sudden it’s the last month of the year, the final chapter of 2014.
Exactly this time last year, we we’re packing our suncream and insect repellant, ready to embark on 3 months travelling around Sri Lanka and Indonesia. It feels like yesterday but also like forever ago.
Fast forward a year and I’m sat in thermals in front of our fire, with a big mug of coffee, planning recipe ideas and watching the frost melt away.
This delicious spread is the perfect way to break into the Christmas spirit. Use it as a spread, filling in baked goods, or go crazy and eat it straight out of the jar.
Because if Christmas isn’t a good excuse for a little indulgence, then what is?!
Chocolate Almond Butter
70g dark chocolate (use 85% cocoa if possible)
1 tablespoon coconut oil (melted)
1 tablespoon organic cocoa powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt
Add almonds to a food processor and blend for 6-8 mins. Keep stopping to scrape down the sides.
While the almonds are mixing, melt the chocolate and coconut oil together in a pan over a low heat. Add the chocolate mix to the almonds. Add in cinnamon, cocoa and salt.
Keep mixing the almonds until they reach your desired consistency. I like them a little crunchy still, so this took around 10 mins. For a smoother paste, it can take up to 16 mins. Do this is steps so as not to burn out your processor.
Once you have a paste you are happy with, pour into an airtight container and store in fridge. If you want to keep the butter quite runny, keep outside the fridge, and stir before each use.
“There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.”
OK, I love these little things. Like LOVE them. So much so that I contemplated not sharing the recipe, I wanted these little bad boys all to myself. But where’s the fun in that? Plus, sharing is caring, right?
These beauties are so easy to make (especially if you cook the quinoa the day before), and super charge an otherwise dull lunchbox! They are ready after an hour or so, and because you are using a high percentage dark chocolate, you don’t even need to feel guilty about going back for another one, and another, and another…
Chocolate Quinoa Crunch Bars
Makes 6-8 Crunch Bars – For a larger tub / tray, double up all ingredients. (I used a tuppawear 8″ X 6″)
250g Organic Dark Chocolate (I used G&B’s 90% cocoa)
100g Dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)
100g Mixed chopped nuts (I used almonds, pecans and walnuts)
2 ½ tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
Preheat oven to Gas Mark ½ (120 C)
Line a tuppawear or tray with cling film.
Bring a pan of water to the boil, cook the quinoa for 12 minutes (cooking times may vary so double check the instructions on the pack). Once cooked, drain the quinoa and spread in a baking tray. Bake in the oven for 45 mins (or until quinoa has dried out, make sure you stir regularly)
Once quinoa has dried out, heat a teaspoon of coconut oil in a large frying pan. Add the quinoa, and fry until crispy (be careful not to burn). You want the quinoa to turn a nice golden brown colour and be crispy to touch.
Once done, remove from pan and transfer onto kitchen roll. Set aside to cool.
Melt 200g chocolate and 2 tablespoons coconut oil slowly in a saucepan over a low heat. As soon as the chocolate and oil have melted and combined, remove from heat.
Add cooked quinoa, chopped nuts and cranberries to the melted chocolate. Mix well.
Spread the chocolate mixture evenly across the tray, pushing it into all corners, making sure the nuts are evenly distributed.
Cool in fridge for 1 hour.
After an hour, melt the remaining chocolate and coconut oil with the maple syrup, pour over the top of the bars. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.
Refrigerate for 2 more hours, or overnight if possible. Enjoy, guilt free!
OK, So I know I just did a breakfast post, but I felt this little marvel needed sharing straight away, and it’s not technically just for breakfast!
I love avocados, they are packed full with vitamins, fibre and healthy fatty acids! They also contain 35% more potassium than a banana.
I try and combine them into most meals, but with the weather turning colder, it’s becoming harder to find those perfectly ready-to-eat ripe ones that are plentiful in the warmer months. I’ve had a few sat in the veg basket for while now, which just don’t seem to want to ripen, but in this smoothie they blend perfectly.
It is super quick to make, and will keep you going until lunchtime.
This smoothie is pretty thick, and could even be served as a pudding.
Chocolate Avocado Smoothie
1 heaped tablespoon organic cocoa powder
200ml Almond milk (use more for a thinner smoothie)
1tsp Agave or other sweetener (optional)
Handful hazelnuts (optional)
Scoop the flesh out of half the avocado. Peel the banana. Add to blender with the cocoa, almond milk, hazelnuts and Agave if using. Blend for 30 seconds, or until smooth. Serve immediately, over ice if desired.