Ellen’s Latex-free Super Berry Smoothie (Just Look at the Colour!)

img_2355Ellen is a writer, she is funny, talented, a new follower and she also happens to have an allergy which causes anaphylaxis. When she told me this, it was in the context of being unable to try most of my recipes and I assumed she meant she was allergic to nuts. I then proceeded to give her a list of potential substitutions. However, I got it very wrong, it seems that Ellen is fine with nuts but allergic to latex.

Now, I assumed that being allergic to latex meant you just had to avoid wearing rubber gloves, but no, it means avoiding a long list of fruits and vegetables too. I decided to set myself the challenge of coming up with a tasty, nutritious smoothie that Ellen could enjoy with complete peace of mind. She warned me how difficult she was to ‘cook’ for, but I pointed out that as I was a vegan, juicing, gluten-free raw foodie, I know how that is!

I had a couple of days to ponder this conundrum while Hurricane Fremily (aka my 2 toddler grandchildren) hit landfall, and I did a bit of research to make sure I understood the issues.

Latex allergy is caused by a reaction to the protein in latex and can range from wheezing, itchy skin, hives to full-on anaphylaxic shock. Some people who have latex allergy may also have an allergic response to certain fruits including banana, cherries, plums, papaya, grapes, pineapple, avocado, chestnut, kiwi fruit, mango, passionfruit, fig, strawberry and soy.

Ellen seems ok with berries, oranges, lemons, melon (but not watermelon) and apples but she also can’t have squash, turnip, swede or broad beans due to a lifelong phobia! (Which I can totally understand as I have my parsnip phobia – shudders at the very word! See Pears But No More Parsnips: In Which I Confront My Parsnip Phobia! )

So there you have it, my challenge.

This is my first attempt. It’s an amazing colour! It’s a little tart, so if you want to add a little sweetness, add a medjool date, or reduce the amount of blackberries and add another apple. To ring the changes, you can substitute different berries, use coconut water or other nut milk, add oats to make it more substantial and alternate the superfood powders. I read that açaí is ok, but please do your own research. I understand lucuma has a latex sap when immature so I’m guessing that would best be avoided.

Purple berries contain powerful antioxidants which aid healthy ageing, memory, help prevent cancer and other diseases caused by inflammation. Hemp seeds have protein and healthy omega fats and are smooth and creamy to taste (see Shelled Hemp Seeds: Superfood or Psychogenic?!) Cashews are a good source of magnesium, which helps keep us calm, is essential for good mental health and prevents muscle cramps (see Magnesium: Are You Getting Enough?). Apples are all-round good for us! They contain soluble fibre and are good for the lungs.

All ingredients are organic where possible, vegan and can be made gluten-free by substituting seeds or Horchata (aka Tiger Nut Milk) if you’re sure you’re not allergic.  Measurements approximate.


Large handful of Blackberries (I used frozen)

Handful of Blueberries

1 Sweet Apple, washed & chopped (peel on)

Heaped Tbsp Hemp Seeds*

Handful of Cashews

1 Tbsp Açaí Powder*

Generous glass of Homemade Almond Milk (click link to see how to make your own, it’s really easy).

 Blend until smooth, and may this gorgeous vibrant smoothie give you a bright start to your day!

(When I was looking for a video to accompany this smoothie recipe, I started typing ‘berry’ and it started coming up with Berry White songs which I found highly amusing and since his outfit matches the colour of the smoothie, I decided to go with it!)


Allergic To Latex? Foods And Products To Avoid


Copyright: Chris McGowan

Açaí, Blackberry & Coconut Gelato

imageAçaí, Blackberry and Coconut Gelato
ABC Gelato because it’s easy as! (Can you guess today’s musical clue?)

The hedgerows are covered in blackberries and as I write, the sun has been poking out from behind lowering clouds after a weekend storm, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to repost an easypeasy lemonsqueezy blackberry gelato recipe.

The recipe has 5 ingredients and takes 5 minutes in a food processor. In fact it’s so quick that by the end of today’s music of choice – it can only be ABC by The Jackson Five – you will be serving up a deliciously creamy, fruity gelato and hopefully enjoying it in a sunny garden. (I was going to go for ‘Blackberry Way’ by The Move, but it’s a bit mournful as she’s just left him and it’s raining!)

Açaí Powder is a great source of antioxidants and has a chocolatey/blackberry flavour which works well with the blackberries in this gelato and the Pitch Dark raw chocolate shavings to serve.

 Açaí berries are high in nutrients, and a source of Omega 9 and 6 fatty acids which help reduce bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. They have been a staple fruit for Amazonian tribes for centuries and are reputed to be anti-inflammatory and anti-aging. The Raw Chocolate Company Açaí powder we use is organic and Fairtrade.

Coconut Palm Sugar is guilt-free (no trees are harmed in its production), it is reputed to have a low-glycaemic index (which means it doesn’t cause spikes in blood sugar) and looks and tastes similar to brown sugar. It is not overly sweet like refined sugar and maintains a good mineral content.

*NB the blackberries need to be frozen overnight first*
If you are going to serve straightaway, chill the glasses before you start.

As always, all measurements are approximate, especially in this recipe.

Makes enough for a couple of scoops each for about 4 people, depending how much you ‘sampled’ along the way!

You need to work quickly, so have everything measured out and ready before you begin, removing the blackberries from the freezer last of all.


About 30g Blackberries, washed and frozen, reserve a few for decoration
About 120 mls or 1/2 Cup Coconut Milk
1 rounded Tbsp Açaí Powder*
2 rounded Tbsps Coconut Palm Sugar* depending how sweet or tart you like your blackberries/gelato (you may want to grind it a little finer first)
The Raw Company Pitch Dark Raw Chocolate* shavings to decorate


Put the Blackberries, Açaí Powder, Coconut Palm Sugar and 60mls or 1/4 of a Cup of Coconut Milk into the food processor and pulse a few times to break down the blackberries.

Scrape down and add a little more Coconut Milk and process on a low setting for a few seconds. Scrape down. Repeat.
How much more Coconut Milk you use depends on the amount of blackberries etc, but don’t overdo it as the gelato will become thinner as the blackberries defrost.

Don’t overdo the processing, work quickly.
Scoop into chilled glasses, decorate with fresh blackberries and Pitch Dark shavings.


Don sunglasses, sit in peaceful sunny garden and savour the flavour! (Ok, I can’t promise sun or a peaceful garden, but the sunglasses will hopefully make you look Cool 😎


Copyright: Chris McGowan

Blackberry, Açaí & Chia Smoothie

imageIt was just warm enough to have my breakfast smoothie outdoors this morning, but there is a definite autumnal feel in the air first thing. Nevertheless, reluctant to give in just yet, I donned my shorts and sunnies and made the most of it.

This smoothie had some gorgeous large organic blackberries in it. Blackberries are SO good for you.

Nutritionally dense, blackberries are rich in antioxidants, including Vitamin C, minerals and fibre. They are everywhere at the moment, so why not go back to your roots and spend a couple of hours in the fresh air blackberrying – be sure to wash them well and inspect them for insects before eating. Of course, if you’re 3 years old like my grand-daughter, completely disregard this advice, eat them all before you get home and just beam your purple smile!

Açaí is a South-American super-fruit with a mild chocolatey/blackberry flavour which complements the blackberries well while adding lots of healthy nutrients to the smoothie. Açaí is extremely high in antioxidants and has been found to boost immune cell function.

Pumpkin seeds are a good source of Omega 3 essential fatty acids and a good plant-based source of zinc, good for prostate health, a strong immune system, cell growth, wound healing and the breakdown of carbohydrates.

Vegan and Gluten-Free if you use Gluten-Free Oats.


1 Small Banana

Handful Blackberries, washed

1 Tbsp Açaí Powder*

2 Heaped Tbsps Oats

Glass Unsweetened Chi Coconut Water (depending how thick or thin you like it)

1 Tbsp Chia Seeds*

1 Small Handful Pumpkin Seeds

Blend and sip at leisure!


Copyright: Chris McGowan