Tag Archives: healthy treat

Valentine chocolates – gifts of love and health!

Winter bloom and chocolate

Winter bloom and chocolate

Valentine day approaching and the shops are tempting us with a cornucopia of very sweet and colourful confectionary – but if you are still sticking to your healthy New Year resolutions, the choice can be quite daunting… So here I give you a more virtuous but deliciously indulgent version.

These delicate chocolate flowers are made with raw chocolate, non dairy ingredients and they are still big in flavour and satisfaction…

Ingredients list:

  • Dates, 250g
  • 100g of 100% cocoa chocolate (Check out Chocolat Rabot in Borough Market)
  • Raisins, 150g
  • Vanilla bean, 1
  • Crystalised ginger, a few pieces, but only optional!

Cut the chocolate in squares, cut up the dates.

Than put all in your best chopper (I use my Thermomix for the smoothest result) and mix at high speed for a few minutes until you get a glossy paste. DO NOT overwork it or the chocolate will melt !

Put in silicone moulds for individual chocolates (as above) or just roll bite size chunks in your palms and present them in a nice box or sachet to your Valentine with his Valentine day coffee. Garantie to score brownie points with any health-conscious foodie!

No need to be vegan either to appreciate the soft and creamy result – But take the best chocolate for the best taste, as always… My writing buddies loved them so much that I dedicate this recipe to our blue-stocking group – and their Valentines!

HAPPY VALENTINE DAY EVERYONE! This year it falls on a sunday so plan to take him to a spa, an art gallery or just a favourite place / corner of the world- like Venice?!!!

Promise Venice and chocolate this year!

One of my handprinted Valentine cards/original print.

 

Pumpkin, ginger and cinnamon bread

Here I indulge my love of all things ginger! Don’t you love this warm colour and spice?! And it goes so well with pumpkin it would be a sin not to pair them… Here is your week-end recipe, just in time!

Libby’s pumpkin purée is a very ubiquitous ingredient in the UK and it is a great product to use when winter makes fresh fruit a bit more scarce… So this is a cupboard or pantry recipe, unashamedly quick and practical.IMG_2049

Ingredients list:

  • Eggs, 3
  • Libby’s pumpkin purée, 3/4 of a jar
  • Brown sugar, 150g
  • Rapeseed oil, 100ml
  • Self-Raising Gluten free flour mix, 150g
  • Bicarbonate of soda, 1 tsp
  • Ground ginger, 1 generous Tbsp
  • Cinnamon, 1 Tbsp
  • Vanilla extract

Blend the eggs with sugar and pumpkin purée.

Add the oil, then the flour mixed with the bicarbonate.

Blend in the spices. I use a robot for that but you can make do with a hand whisk because all the ingredients are very easily blendable.

Pour the mix into a rectangular pan and bake for 30 minutes at 180°.

This is a lovely and light cake with lots of seasonal spices, perfectly suited to the winter and delicious with a cup of chai latte or coffee latte.

Because it is rather low in sugar and has no dairy in it, I will still call it a bread but it is as indulgent as it gets! The pumpkin purée makes it very moist and similar to a gingerbread. Just a nice, healthy twist on it…

NO butter, no dairy, no gluten! No fun?! Actually plenty of taste – As I said I DO love all things ginger…IMG_2007

 

 

 

Darkest Peru magic bullets!

Raw balls of pure energy

Do you feel sometime that you need a break from your daily life? That you are up for a different kind of challenge?! That you are hungry for new views, new flavours, new emotions? Last week, this blog was travelling to Galicia in Northern Spain. You might know that already if you follow me on FB or Instagram… I was walking the millennia old Pilgrim’s Way and feeling way out of my comfort zone…  But loving every minute…

The Way of St James

The Way of St James

Here are some of the items I carry in my backpack :

Energy balls ready to pack!

Energy balls ready to pack!

Lucuma fruity energy balls to sustain my companion and I through the long daily walks! This is a new version of my Energy Balls– this time flavoured with orange , chocolate and Lucuma – a protein packed Aztec powder that a Peruvian friend introduced to me this year. To say my walking companion is addicted is an understatement: I have promised the recipe and here it is.

Lucuma Cocoa and Orange Energy Balls or Darkest Peru magic bullets!
Ingredients list:

  • Cup of almond(soaked)
  • Cup of dates
  • Handful of raisins
  • Zest of one small orange
  • 1 tbsp lucuma powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tbsp linseeds
  • 1 handful sunflower seeds
  • 2 or three squares of very dark chocolate (I use 100% cocoa sans sugar)
  • Cocoa powder and more Lucuma powder to roll in

Mix it all in a grinder /blender until it makes a sticky paste.
Roll each bite into a mix of cocoa and lucuma, as you would for a chocolate truffle! Those healthy chocolatey truffle melt in the mouth and done in the Thermomix, they are smooth and fudgey… Plus super packed with everything you need to walk all day with 8 kg of back-pack!
Store in a metal box. They can keep for weeks but they will not last that long.

We were walking from Santiago de Compostella to Finisterre, the “end of the world” – or at least the extreme western point of Europe!

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 Postscript: You can find Lucuma powder in Peru -but also at your nearest Wholefoods store. It is rich in B vitamins and has a high protein content. It tastes a bit sweet and chocolatey so goes really well with cocoa and orange!

Light buttermilk and vanilla waffles

Today London feels like the gateway to summer! 24 degrees and rising!..
For breakfast, I whipped up those delicious waffles. Maybe it is the sunshine outside or my impending trip to Spain soon but I felt like giving the kids and I a particularly fruity breakfast and here it is.Those are made with skinny buttermilk so they are lighter and more virtuous than ever! plus covered in fresh fruit, they can definitely count towards your 5-a-day… Or is it 7 these days?!

Ingredients list:
This made 8 generous waffles.

  • 4 eggs
  • Self-raising flour 250g (I used light brown flour)
  • Butter 125g (I used English butter – with salt)
  • Buttermilk 280ml
  • Vanilla sugar, 2 large spoonfuls
(I make my own vanilla sugar by putting a split vanilla bean into a jar full of caster sugar.)
Fruity waffle

Fruity waffle

In a large bowl, work the butter and sugar until fluffy and creamy.
Split your egg whites from their yolk. Then, add the yolks one by one to the mix. Use an electric whisk for that and add the cream and flour, bit by bit. It should be creamy not lumpy.
Clean your hand whisk to beat the egg whites to a stiff consistency, adding a pinch of salt to help start it. They must make peaks when you pull out the blades but don’t overdo it! Carefully fold the whites into the mix with a wooden spatula. You now have a gloriously plump batter, soft as a pillow.

Warm the waffle iron or the electric maker and drop a large spoonful of batter in the centre. Bake until crisp and brown.

Those waffles are lighter and just as gorgeous as my previous recipe with full fat cream. This is the perfect version for a bit of spring clean – but with a smack of indulgence!

Try them with a dash of maple syrup in the morning or just with fresh fruit and a dollop of rich yogurt anytime of the day. They taste so delicious they hardly need the extra sugar so pile them high with fresh fruit -or fruit purée- and have them guilt-free.

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Used light whipped cream no sugar

In any case, guilt is a useless negative emotion and probably worse for you than the indulgent food you might be having, so just enjoy and forego the guilt – next time you might balance this out!

Just remember that enjoying a stress-free treat is very good for your mood and therefore good for your health: you will appreciate it better, certainly digest it better and maybe feel contented for longer! No-one can be virtuous all the time… Not even Gwyneth!..

Spring is here!

Spring is here!

 

Granola bars to fuel my winter runs

This again is adapted from the ever so plentiful blog of David Lebovitz “Living the sweet life in Paris”, of which my regular readers will know I am a fan!

At the moment I am running a fair bit and sometimes even in the rain or at dusk, so the promise of a warm drink and one of those energy packed bars is a big bonus at the end of a wet and cold run.

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Ingredients list:

  • 1 1/2 cups (150g) rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup (45g) sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup (60g) whole almonds
  • ½ cup (60g) walnuts bits
  • 1 cup (125g) pitted and diced dates
  • 1/3 cup (50g) dark chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup (35g) dried sour cherries or cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup (35g) sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup (65g) smooth natural peanut butter or any nut butter
  • 1/4 cup (80g) honey
  • pinch of salt

Line the bottom of an 8-inch (20cm) square pan with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).

Spread the oats and sesame seeds on a baking sheet and toast for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring once or twice while baking, until they are slightly browned. Scrape them into a large bowl. Spread the almonds on the baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely break in a pestle and add the almonds to the oats.

Add the dates, chocolate chips and cranberries to the bowl.

Heat the peanut butter, honey, and salt in a small saucepan, stirring until warm, but not boiling. Pour the peanut butter and honey over the mixture in the bowl and stir until it’s completely incorporated; using your hands is the best way to go. DO not use a sweet peanut butter, just a natural one. You do not want a sickly sweet bar!

Transfer the mixture to the pan and pat it down so it’s as flat as possible. I put a sheet of baking paper over and just pushed down with my palm until it was flat! Freeze the granola bars for 30 minutes before eating them. I keep them in a metal box in my fridge and they stay fresh for longer.

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My run along the river at dusk! Beautiful and cold.

My run along the river at dusk! Beautiful and cold.

Same run in morning light.

Same run in morning light.