chocolate

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CUPS


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CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CUPS

Peanut butter cup and chocolate is a match made in heaven. Dark chocolate peanut butter cups could nearly be called a healthy snack. These little beauties are fabulous for today’s Valentine’s Day but they are perfect just about anytime. I will be bringing these to a relaunch of our local business networking group to sweeten up new members :)

Three ingredients is all you need. Nothing can be easier. Ten minutes prep, half an hour chilling in the freezer and the perfect treat is on the table. I prefer to use chocolate that is 70% cocoa content anything higher will be too bitter. But if you like higher cocoa content go ahead with 85%-90%….

I have used small size mini muffin cup cases that fit into a 24 mini muffin pan but we have also made larger size cups (think large Reeses size) in a 12 muffin pan, just use the smaller muffin paper cases. I prefer the smaller ones as I seem to get better ration of peanut butter to chocolate without making them too big to eat. Now a friend of mine pointed out my cups looked uneven… I am not very good at this fiddly stuff. Even or not they are delicious :) By the way my daughter was helping with making the peanut butter cups in these pictures so I can blame the unevenness on her ...

Enjoy. And Happy Valentines!


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CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CUPS

Makes 24 mini or 12 larger cups

350 g non dairy 70% dark chocolate
1/2 cup smooth, sugar free peanut butter
1-2 tbs maple syrup (depending on your taste buds)

Place the peanut butter in the middle she said :)
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  • Place a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water. Break the chocolate into pieces (there is something satisfying about hitting the wrapped bar of chocolate against the chopping board… ). Let the chocolate slowly melt.
  • While the chocolate is melting in a small bowl (cereal bowl will do) mix the peanut butter and maple syrup together till well combined.
  • Place the muffin cups into the muffin pans. If using mini muffins pour about half tablespoon of the melted chocolate. Place a half a teaspoon of the peanut butter mix in the middle of the chocolate puddle and cover with another half tablespoon of chocolate. Use more chocolate and peanut butter if making larger peanut butter cups.
  • Set in the freezer for half an hour.
  • Enjoy. (or wrap in a heart shaped box and gift to someone you love, preferably someone who will share…)

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BANANA COCONUT FLAPJACKS

BANANA COCONUT FLAPJACKS

Sugar has been getting a lot of bad press lately. And I will say rightly so. We do eat far too much and many of us don’t realize all the hidden sugars in processed foods. However I hate when a banana is being compared with coca cola or fruit smoothie with a glazed doughnut for sugar content.

Unlike cola banana has fibre, potassium, protein, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium,manganeses, folate and it even has a small amount omega fats in the right proportion. And yes a medium banana has 27.5g sugar. One can of cola has 33g of sugar and that’s pretty much it.... I know which one I would choose to eat.

Breast milk tastes sweet and maybe that’s why, from a very young age, we have an affinity for sweet taste. I notice my craving for sweet treats goes up when I am doing intense studying. Around 3pm every college weekend, there are serious calls for chocolate and if you happen to have a bar in your bag you score a lot of points with fellow students.

Last week I spend revising for an exam and even it involved a lot of sitting my need for food went way up. Brain needed fuel. Three overripe bananas in the fruit bowl and half an hour later I had these rather yummy banana coconut flapjacks. Yummy squidgy energy giving bars.

My daughter hates raisins or indeed any dried fruit apart from mango, so I opted for chocolate chips (not that I had to convince myself too much). If you are feeling more virtuous swap them for whatever dried fruit you fancy or just double the amount of nuts.

bananacoconutflapjack2

BANANA COCONUT FLAPJACKS
Makes 12 bars

ingredients
3 very ripe medium bananas
3 Tbs coconut oil, melted
135g (1 1/2cups) porridge oats (gluten free for a gluten free version)
90g (1cup ) coconut flour
45g (1/2 cups) plain chocolate chips
45g (1/2 cups ) walnut pieces

method
  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. First line a 10x6 inch (15x25cm) baking form with baking paper.
  3. In a large bowl mash the bananas. Add in the melted coconut oil, porridge oats and coconut flour. Mix well
  4. Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts.
  5. Tip the mixture into your prepared baking form, press down with a spoon and bake for 30min or until golden brown.


bananacoconut-flapjack
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ENERGY BARS

ENERGY BARS

“Let food by thy medicine and medicine be thy food” Hippocrates

Medical doctors are amazing, the knowledge they have to learn and retain (!), the responsibility they carry on their shoulders is immense. There is however a room for improvement. Dr Dean Ornish emphasised in one of his TED talks that you can’t only mop the floor, you also have to fix the tap. Don’t only treat symptoms, treat the cause.

Recently I watched my friend L struggling with her baby’s eczema, her son (born last September) was waking at night trying to scratch the itchy red skin, clearly suffering. She was at a breaking point, no mother wants to see their child in discomfort. Naturally she visited her GP and a dermatologist. Unfortunately their approach was using topical creams (not even emollient) and if those would not bring much relief, he was to be put on glucocorticoids. Rather scary prospect for a baby.

My friend decided to contact a naturopathic eczema specialist. Since she is breastfeeding her son, she was prescribed an exclusion diet. It is a big change, she isn’t even allowed her beloved green tea at the moment, but her baby boy’s skin is clearing up. Next step will be reintroducing foods to find the triggers. What a fantastic news! I wish her doctor was able to recommend a similar approach, it has no side effects! Actually it does, my friend feels great! she told me this way of eating is making her feel “light”. And of course there is not better feeling than seeing her beautiful son’s eczema on the retreat.

ENERGY BARS

This is perfect for “grab and go” breakfast or just a quick energy boosting snack. If you want to make this completely refined sugar free, skip the chocolate chips.
Makes 10 bars


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Ingredients
1 Tbs ground flax seeds
150g (1 and 3/4 cups) oats
50g (1/2 cup) pecans, chopped
80g (1/2 cup) dried apricots, chopped roughly into quarters
30g (1/4 cup) sunflower seeds
35g (1/4 cup) raisins
2 small bananas mashed, makes about 125ml (1/2cup)
1 Tbs date syrup
1/2 dairy-free chocolate chips (optional)

method
  1. Preheat your oven to 180C.
  2. First in a small bowl add 60ml (1/4 cup) of water to the flax seeds, let stand while preparing the rest of ingredients. The mixture will become viscous somewhat reminiscent of an egg.
  3. Mix together the oats, pecans, apricots, sunflower seeds and raisins.
  4. Add the mashed bananas, date syrup and flax seed mixture. Mix thoroughly.
  5. Line a 10x6 inch (15x25cm) baking dish with a greaseproof paper. I used a drop of water under each corner to keep it in place.
  6. Put all the mixture into your baking dish, press down firmly.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 min or until the top starts to turn golden brown.
  8. Let cool and cut into bars.



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CHOCOLATE PRUNE CAKE

CHOCOLATE PRUNE CAKE

Sometimes I wake up with a recipe idea in my head that I quickly need to act on. Today was one of those days and after coming back from the school run and a dog walk I got stuck into creating a plant based brownie cake.

I admit I find this new way of baking a bit daunting. I went from baking with eggs and butter to dairy and egg free baking and now I am determined to crack even healthier baking without oils and as little refined sugar as possible. You can make a fabulous vegan muffins or cakes but that doesn’t mean these are healthy if you still use white flour and sugar, and replacing butter with oil or margarine. Plant based eating goes another step further.

Hence my challenge. An experiment. When the cake was in the oven I was anxious. To be honest I was expecting to pull out a flat dry mess of a cake. To my surprise I had a moist light chocolate cake thing...

There is a secret ingredient that made all this possible. Wait for it.....
prunes.They are soaked, pureed and serve as an astonishingly great replacement for fat. Believe me you won’t even know that this iron and fibre rich fruit is in the cake. Kids were certainly surprised!

Here is the family verdict:
My son: 7/10 ( he is not keen on chocolate cakes)
My daughter: 10/10; 20/20; 100/100 ( she got a bit carried away)
My husband: 8/10 (9/10 if it was sweeter)
I thought it went fabulously with a cup of tea!

Not bad for an experiment!
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CHOCOLATE PRUNE CAKE
The prunes I used were organic as these have no added preservatives. I also used 3 Tbs of maple syrup, use 4 if you want a sweeter cake.
I flavoured mine with orange zest but next time I will try vanilla extract. I am also thinking dairy-free chocolate chips, walnuts, almonds.... treat this as a base recipe.

ingredients
1 (140g) cup organic prunes (not the soft ones)
1 cup (250ml) almond milk (or other dairy free milk)
zest of 1 orange or 1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbs cider or rice vinegar
3 - 4 Tbs maple syrup
1 1/4cup (160g) whole wheat self-raising flour
pinch of salt (optional)
1/4 cup (30g) cocoa
1/2 tsp bicarb soda (baking soda)

prune puree
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method
  1. First soak the prunes in boiling water for about 20min or until they soften.
  2. Preheat the oven to 170C (I had my fan oven on 160).
  3. Put the prunes and about 80ml-90ml (1/3cup plus 1 Tbs) of the soaking liquid into your blender or food processor. Start with less liquid, process into a thick smooth puree (see photograph), if too thick add more water. Set aside.
  4. For the wet ingredients, in a medium bowl, mix the almond milk, zest (or vanilla extract), the vinegar and maple syrup. Stir in the prune puree.
  5. For the dry ingredients, in a large bowl, mix the flour, cocoa and bicarb soda.
  6. Add the wet ingredients into the dry. Stir together. You will get moose like cake batter.
  7. Line a 10 x 6 inch baking tin with greaseproof paper. Pour in the batter, spread evenly.
  8. Bake for 20 min or till cake springs back when pressed with your finger.
  9. Let cool, cut into squares and enjoy.
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THREE BEAN CHILLI WITH ANCHO AND CHOCOLATE


THREE BEAN CHILLI WITH ANCHO AND CHOCOLATE

A nice bowl of chili has been on my mind for a few days now. Steaming hot, spicy, comforting bowl of chili. So after a gorgeous lunch with friends at Cafe Ronak (a fantastic falafel wrap) and a walk around the shops (stops to 4 health food shops included) I got onto my chili.

Chocolate is the secret ingredient in a proper chili. It makes it rich, dark, velvety and sumptuous. It leaves you thinking what is in that chili? That is if you use dark chocolate of course, a bar of Dairy Milk would leave you thinking what the .... was she thinking?! The other secret ingredient in this chili is a Mexican dried chili, you can use Ancho or Chipotle. I used Ancho, which is a dried Mexican Poblano chili and can vary in flavour from surprisingly mild to rather spicy. These chillies have a smokey flavour that works so well with all the other spices.

The best thing about a bowl of chili is that it is incredibly versatile, eat it just as it is with some homemade tortilla chips, serve it with rice or quinoa, wrapped in a tortilla, on top of a baked potato (regular or sweet), it will even go with pasta. Go crazy with toppings of your choice; jalapenos, avocados, thin slices of red onion or chopped spring onions, sweetcorn, salsa... the possibilities are endless.

THREE BEAN CHILLI WITH ANCHO AND CHOCOLATE

If you like your chili spicy leave the seeds and membranes in your jalapeno, or use two. You can also use hot paprika or even add 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper.
To make the homemade
tortilla chips, cut tortillas (wheat or corn) into strips or triangles, place on a baking tray in one layer (you may have to do in in batches), and bakes at 200C oven for about 2-3 minutes on each side, till they are golden brown.

Serves 6

3beanchili

ingredients
1 Tbs rapeseed oil (or 1/4 cup of water)
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1 jalapeno chili, finely chopped (or any other chili), deseeded if you want milder flavour
1 Ancho chili
1 large red pepper, chopped (about 1cm or 1/2inch pieces)
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp paprika (hot or sweet)
1 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbs tomato paste
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
1 Tbs liquid aminos (optional)
1 tin black beans
1 tin red kidney beans
1 tin of pinto (or borlotti beans)
500ml (2cups) of stock (make it out of ancho soaking liquid see in method)
30g (1 oz) of dark good quality chocolate (75%)
Toppings: I used chopped fresh coriander, slices of avocado, thinly sliced red onions and homemade tortilla chips

method
  1. First soak the Ancho chili in boiling water for about 10min. Remove it and reserve the liquid. Chop the Ancho chili quite finely.
  2. In a large wide saute pan heat the oil (or 1/4 cup of water). Add the onion and saute till softened.
  3. Next add the garlic, jalapeno chili, bell pepper and cook for 2 min.
  4. Add the spices and Ancho chili. Cook about half a minute taking care not to burn the spices.
  5. Next add the tomato paste, cook it for about a minute.
  6. Add the tinned tomatoes, liquid aminos, if using. Make up 500 ml (2 cups) of liquid out of the strained Ancho soaking liquid and vegetable stock. Add it to the chile.
  7. Next put in the beans, bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer gently for about an hour. The sauce should be thick with a deep colour.
  8. To finish the chili add the chocolate, let it melt into the sauce. Stir.
  9. Serve with your favourite sides or toppings.
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VALENTINE DAY CHOCOLATE POTS

VALENTINE DAY CHOCOLATE POTS

I will admit I am not big on Valentine’s Day. It is like baked beans on toast, you have to grow up with it to really appreciate it and in my case Valentine’s Day was not something that was ever celebrated when I was growing up. On the other hand I really love my orchid and the massage my husband bought for me. Kids were really excited and loved helping me with decorating the table. They also made a special red smoothie that they enjoyed drinking from wine glasses.

Admittedly today was the perfect opportunity for me to play with chocolate. Out of 70% dark dairy free bar I made everybody’s initial to put on their plate (we ate it for our starters!) and a heart to decorate my chocolate pots with. Perfect day spent with the people I love the most in the world.

VALENTINE DAY CHOCOLATE POTS
This is such an easy recipe, takes minutes to make and taste great. You don’t need Valentine’s Day as an excuse to make these. They are nearly guilt free, cashews, dark chocolate and no added sugar, just dates for sweetness. They are much lighter than traditional chocolate pots made with double cream.

Soaking the cashews overnight (or at least for 2 hours) this will ensure smoother cream and less work for your blender.

Serves 4

chocpots

ingredients
1/2 cup (125ml) cashew nuts soaked in 1/2 cup (125ml) water
2 Medjool dates, stones removed
100g (3.5 oz) 70% dark chocolate
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
to decorate:
50g (2oz) of 70% dark chocolate

method
  1. In a blender whizz up the cashew nuts, dates and water until smooth. Strain the mixture to ensure a smooth texture, the dates can leave few gritty bits behind.
  2. Place a bowl with broken up chocolate over a pot of simmering water (makes sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water and the water doesn’t boil rapidly). Melt the chocolate.
  3. Stir the chocolate and vanilla. Make sure the ingredients are well combined leaving no streaks in the mixture.
  4. Carefully pour (or spoon) into expresso cups and let set in the fridge for at least an hour.
  5. To make decorations, melt chocolate as above and pipe heart shapes onto greaseproof (parchment) paper. Let them set in the fridge. Be careful handling them as they melt readily when touched.
  6. Serve the pots decorated with the chocolate hearts or raspberries.
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