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Chocolate & butternut squash brownies

By February 12, 2015 Recipes
Chocolate & butternut squash brownies

Forget butternut squash risotto, and bring on butternut squash brownies with cacao! Super healthy, full of antioxidants, rich and chocolatey and deliciously moist. A tasty way to get butternut squash into your diet and a great one for kids who don’t eat enough veg. These healthy dairy free chocolate brownies have shocked many of my personal tasters (friends) who otherwise really dislike butternut squash.

Butternut squash choc brownies 2

An anti-ageing brownie anyone? These chocolate brownies provide a super high dose of vitamin C and beta carotene (which gives butternut squash its distinctive yellow / orange colour), providing your cells with healthy antioxidants. Cacao also contains powerful antioxidants called flavanoids. Combine all these antioxidants with the protein and healthy fats in the almond flour and eggs, and you have a very healthy chocolate brownie.

Ingredients (serves 9):

  • 400g butternut squash
  • 100g cacao powder
  • 50g (5 tbsp.) wholegrain spelt flour
  • 50g (5 tbsp.) ground almonds
  • 100g coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100g (4 tbsp.) coconut oil
  • 4 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 160 deg C. I recommend using this temperature, as almonds are not heat stable above 180 deg C, so the healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fats can be ruined if heated too high.

2. Line a square or rectangle cake tin (approx 21cm / 8 inch length and width) with baking paper, (or 1 tsp. coconut oil alternatively)

3. Chop the butternut squash into approx. 2cm cubes. Steam for 25 minutes, or until soft. If you do not have a steaming pan, you can boil, however more nutrients are kept with steaming. The skins can be left on, or removed if you wish.

4. In a large bowl, mix together the cacao powder, spelt flour, ground almonds, coconut sugar and baking powder, making sure the baking powder is evenly spread. Sieve the baking powder before mixing if it has clumped.

5. Melt the coconut oil in a pan on a low heat for a few minutes, until liquid.

6. While the coconut oil is melting, add the butternut squash and eggs to a food processor.

7. Pour the melted coconut oil into the food processor (with the butternut squash and eggs) and blend until you have a smooth consistency.

8. Add the blended wet mixture to the bowl containing the dry ingredients, and stir until fully mixed together.

9. Pour the cake mixture into the baking tray and bake at 160 deg C for 30 minutes.

10. Leave the brownies to set in the cake tin for at least 15 minutes before removing. These brownies are delicate and can break when warm, so only take them out to leave on a wire rack after this time.

10. Once the brownies are completely cooled, use a sharp knife to cut into 9 sections.

Enjoy your antioxidant filled healthy chocolate brownies. A real treat for anyone who likes indulgent rich moist chocolate treats!

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Banana and chocolate pancakes

By January 15, 2015 Recipes
Banana & chocolate pancakes

These healthy banana and chocolate pancakes are a perfect option for a lazy Sunday morning. They are also one of my favourites for a pre workout breakfast, giving you plenty of energy from the slow release wholegrain oats and protein from the eggs and nuts.

The combination of banana, wholegrain oats, eggs and almonds seems to good to be true when it comes to making a pancake. Very different to the usual white flour and milk versions, and much much tastier in my opinion! Bananas are often underestimated when it comes to healthy foods, not only do they contain high levels of potassium, they are also a rich source of vitamin B6 and magnesium required for energy metabolism and brain function! Oats are a great addition to this pancake due to their immune boosting properties, and almonds give you a good dose of your healthy omega-3 fatty acids. The addition of cacao, the raw form of cacao, is bursting with antioxidants called flavonoids, and as a bonus is also a very rich source of iron.

Ingredients (makes 8 small pancakes – serves 2): 

For the pancakes:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 6 tbsp. almond flour (100% ground almonds)
  • 4 tbsp. oats
  • 1 tbsp. cacao powder
  • 1/2 tsp. coconut oil

For the topping:

  • 1 tbsp. cacao powder
  • 6 tbsp. oat milk
  • 1 tbsp. manuka honey
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tbsp. chopped hazelnuts

1. Blend the eggs, 2 bananas, almond flour and oats in a food processor for a thick yet runny consistency.

2. Pour out half of the blended mixture into a bowl, for the banana pancakes.

3. Add the 1 tbsp, cacao powder to the remaining mixture in the blended, and blend for the chocolate pancakes.

4. Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan on a medium heat. Coconut oil is heat stable and also full of powerful immune-boosting fatty acids such as lauric acid, therefore is great to use when frying foods.

5. Split each of the pancake mixtures into 4 equal parts and pour onto the pan to make 4 small pancakes for each flavour. You may want to use 2 pans, or cook each flavour seperately. Fry the pancakes on a medium heat for approx 3-5 minutes until they are holding together, and then turn them over gently to cook the other side for a further 3 minutes. I recommend frying on a medium heat, as almonds are not heat stable above 180 deg C, so the healthy omega-3 fats can be ruined if heated too high. Frying on a high heat would reach temperatures over 200 deg C.

6. While the pancakes are cooking, in a bowl, stir together the cacao powder, oat milk and manuka honey to make a chocolate sauce.

7. Serve the pancakes with 1/2 sliced banana over each portion, with the chocolate sauce poured over the top, and the chopped hazelnuts for crunchy healthy topping.

Treat your loved ones to these pancakes for breakfast at the weekend and I am sure you will get a big smile on their face while they bite into these nutritious healthy pancakes. 

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Apricot & chocolate tart

By December 5, 2014 Recipes
Apricot & chocolate tart

Rich and chocolatey, sweet and fruity, and with a crunchy wholesome base. This tart is extremely satisfying, filling and very nutrient dense, full of antioxidants, protein and fibre. If you like sweet ripe apricots and you like chocolate, you can’t go wrong with this healthy apricot tart.

apricot tart 3This apricot and chocolate tart is surprisingly sweet with very little natural coconut sugar added (only 4 tbsp. for the whole tart to serve 12!) The rest of the sweetness comes naturally from the apricots, which when cooked in the oven have a soft delicate texture. The beta carotene antioxidants in apricots that give them their bright orange appearance are great for skin health and general anti-ageing, so you will feel good eating this tart knowing that you are only putting goodness into your body. The oats in the base also contain a special type of fibre called beta glucans which do wonders for your immune system.  With plenty of eggs, almonds and chia seeds added, this tart provides a good source of protein and healthy fats, so consider this tart a healthy balanced meal. You don’t have to add extra calories by having dessert on top of your dinner, you can have it instead!

apricot tart 2

Ingredients (serves 12):

The base

  • 170g oats
  • 25g (3 tbsp.) cacao
  • 25g (2 tbsp.) chia seeds
  • 80g coconut oil
  • 25g (2 tbsp.) coconut sugar
  • 100ml warm water (warm water is best to prevent the coconut oil from solidifying when you are mixing ingredients)

The filling

  • 4 eggs at room temperature
  • 25g coconut sugar
  • 140g almond flour (100% ground almonds)
  • 25 dried apricots (140g)
  • 6 fresh apricots at room temperature
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 140g coconut oil

1. Preheat the oven to 160 deg C, and grease a circular tart tray / glass dish with 1 tsp. coconut oil. I recommend using this temperature, as almonds are not heat stable above 180 deg C, so the healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fats can be ruined if heated too high.

2. Melt the coconut oil in a pan on a medium heat. Coconut oil is heat stable and also full of powerful immune-boosting fatty acids such as lauric acid.

3. While the coconut oil is melting, blend the oats in a food processor until you have a finer almost flour like consistency (it is ok to have a few larger pieces of oats)

4.Take the coconut off the heat as soon as it has melted to a liquid, and set aside.

5. Grind the chia seeds in a coffee / spice grinder.

6. Add the ground chia seeds, cacao powder and coconut sugar to the oats in the food processor and blend well.

7. In the food processor with the mixed dry ingredients, add the melted coconut oil, and warm water and blend until you have a thick dough like consistency.

8. Spread the mixture around the bottom and sides of the greased baking tray using the back of a metal spoon. Try to ensure the base is evenly spread.

9. Now to make the filling…. melt the coconut oil in a pan on a medium heat.

10. While the coconut oil is melting, in a bowl, mix together the almond flour, cocoa powder and coconut sugar.

11. Blend the eggs, dried apricots, 4 of the fresh apricots and melted coconut oil in the food processor. When you have a smooth consistency, then add the dry ingredient mix and blend.

12. Add the wet mixture into the tray over the pressed oat base, and decorate the top with 2 sliced apricots.

13. Bake in the oven for 55 minutes at 150 deg C. When cooked, you can serve immediately for a soft warm tart, or leave to cool for at least an hour for a crunchy firm tart.

If you are hosting a dinner party, this is the perfect after dinner treat to spoil your guests with. A thin slice is enough as it is so rich. It also goes well after a small goats cheese and fig salad for lunch! 

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Chia seeds as a vegan egg replacement

By November 17, 2014 Blog
Chia Seeds

You may have heard of the wonderful ‘superfood’ chia seeds. Seeds seem to come in and out of fashion, with chia being hot on topic these days. It is not that they have suddenly been discovered, they have been around for a while, but only recently have they been shouted about in glossy magazines to catch your eye.

So what is so special about chia seeds then? Well, in terms of their nutrition content, they are high in protein and vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, very similar to all other seeds. Something that does make this seed stand out from others is that almost all of the fat contained in chia seeds is omega-3. Most seeds have a combination of omega-3 and omega-6, however as we get far too much omega-6 in our diets generally (from grains and meat etc), it is great to have a seed which balances out our omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. Another seed containing high levels of omega-3 is linseed. Linseeds are very similar to chia seeds when comparing their nutritional content, and they both have the ability to absorb lots of water, therefore making foods thicker.

The gloopy water absorbing effects of chia seeds makes it look a bit like frog spawn when soaked, which looks pretty cool, but perhaps a bit too unusual for some people. If you blend 200ml oat milk / almond milk, and 50g berries and then soak 30g chia seeds in the mix overnight in the fridge, it tastes amazing. If you have a sweet tooth, you can stir in 1 tbsp. agave nectar before soaking. Serve with stewed mixed berries on top for a delicious breakfast or dessert.

One of the best uses of chia seeds has to be its ability to act like egg when cooking. Egg usually helps other ingredients to stick together when baking, but if you are vegan, or if you avoid eggs for any other reason, you don’t want to be left with a crumbling dry cake. If you add 1 tbsp. of ground chia seeds (use a coffee / spice grinder) with approx 6 tbsp. water, this gives the same effect as an egg in a cake, keeping it moist and holding together nicely.

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Chocolate, banana and chlorella cake

By October 8, 2014 Recipes
Chocolate, banana and chlorella cake

The unusual green addition to this chocolate delight may seem almost too healthy at first glance, however the healthy cake mix somehow blends really well! The combination of ingredients may confuse your taste buds at first, but then the smooth chocolate and banana combination in a delicate yet rich textured cake kick in, making the taste experience quite unique!

These chocolate cakes are ridiculously rich in antioxidants. Not only do the usual healthy ingredients of cocoa and banana contain so much goodness, the addition of chlorella really gives them a healthy boost. Chlorella is a single cell green algae. Yes, you heard it right, I have invented an algae chocolate cake! So, if you aren’t keen on downing a glass of green juice or algae powder, having the nutritional benefits wrapped up in a chocolate cake is certainly the best way to sneak the goodness into your diet if you are brave enough to deviate from the norm. Chlorella is particularly rich in vitamin B12 and iron, therefore a perfect nutritional hit for a vegetarian or vegan who may be lacking in these important vitamins and minerals which are essential for blood health and energy levels.

Chlorella and choc 2

Ingredients (makes 6 small cakes): 

  • 60g coconut oil
  • 50g almond flour (100% ground almonds)
  • 50g spelt flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 medium ripe bananas (approx 200g)
  • 30g agave nectar
  • 30g cacao (or cocoa) powder
  • 3g dried chlorella granules (I use ‘Organic burst chlorella powder‘. 
  • 1 tbsp almond flakes

1. Preheat the oven to 160 deg C, and grease a cake tray with 1 tsp. coconut oil. I recommend using this temperature, as almonds are not heat stable above 180 deg C, so the healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fats can be ruined if heated too high.

2. Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan on a medium heat. Coconut oil is heat stable and also full of powerful immune-boosting fatty acids such as lauric acid, therefore is great to use when frying foods.

3.While the coconut oil is melting, in a large bowl, sieve and mix the almond flour, spelt flour and baking powder, and put this to one side. It is especially important to sieve the baking powder, as this can otherwise form lumps. Sieving gives a more even and lighter texture to the chocolate cake.

4. In a blender, add the eggs, bananas, agave nectar, melted coconut oil, and blend well.

5. Pour approximately 1/3 of the mixture out of the blender and into a bowl (leaving the remaining 2/3 of the mixture in the blender.

6. Add the chlorella granules to the mixture in the bowl, and stir through until the green chlorella colour is consistent throughout.

7. In the blender, add the cocoa to the mix and blend.

8. Pour the cocoa mix from the blender evenly into 6 of the muffin tray sections. Next, pour the green chlorella mix over the top (should be approximately 1 tbsp. per cake) ensuring that it covers any chocolate showing.

9. Sprinkle a few almond flakes over the top of the cakes for a moist and crunchy healthy topping.

10. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 160 deg C. When cooked, leave the cakes to cool for 10 minutes before taking out of the muffin baking tray to allow them to set.

Surprise your guests at a dinner party with this daring alternative chocolate cake, and tell them after their first bite that they are eating algae the tasty way! 

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