Paul’s ‘Too Much Cacao’ Banana Baobab Smoothie!

img_3076When my brother came for a visit recently, he asked if we could make a smoothie. It was his birthday yesterday, so I thought I would post ‘his’ smoothie recipe.

I let him loose in the kitchen and he chose the ingredients, some at my suggestion as he hadn’t tried them before. I wanted to include peanut butter but he doesn’t like it so I suggested tahini (sesame seed paste, a good source of calcium).  He was sceptical, but in it went before he could object! He hadn’t had cacao powder before (high in minerals and antioxidants), but was keen to try and I suggested he put a tablespoon in. This proved a bit too much for him, and I realised I should have eased him in more gently. I sneaked in some baobab powder,* too, (Vitamin C, minerals, antioxidants) but again I probably should have just used a teaspoon but probably went a little overboard as I like it. He wasn’t sure about the medjool date either (potassium, B6, magnesium, fibre), but was probably influenced by the sticky dried dates we used to have at Christmas when we were children.

There was a bit too much for him to drink – he’s a smoothie novice – so I gave the rest to my sister-in-law. Paul asked if I was going to put the recipe on my blog. Initially, I said no, as I wasn’t sure it had been a resounding success, but I thought about it and decided to put it to the jury.

My sister-in-law loved it, my brother said it was very nice but for him the cacao dominated a little too much. For me, the kiwi was a little unripe! (High in Vitamin C, good source of potassium, Vitamin K – necessary for bone health). I couldn’t judge properly as I was on the final day of a juice plan and didn’t want to have such a rich smoothie just yet, so I only had a taste.

Anyway, I recreated it for this post though I’ve reduced the baobab powder* for the recipe, just in case you’re a newbie too (it has a light, citrusy sherbet taste), but for the sake of authenticity I even used an unripe kiwi!  You can reduce the cacao powder too if you’re not sure. I loved it, what do you think?

This smoothie has protein, fibre, antioxidants, healthy omega oils, potassium, calcium, iron, B vitamins, and will provide you with lots of energy!

All measurements are approximate.

 Vegan, Gluten-free, Nutfree and Organic where possible.


1 Small Ripe Banana

1 Kiwi, peeled

1 Heaped Tbsp Hemp Seeds*

1 Tbsp Raw Cacao Powder*

1 Tbsp Tahini

1 Tsp Aduna Baobab Powder

1 Medjool Date, pitted

Coconut Water, according to how thick or thin you like it.

Blend all the ingredients and serve with ice if you prefer your smoothies chilled.

img_6173Unfortunately, we didn’t take a photo at the time, so I photographed my recreation and sprinkled on some hemp seeds and raw chocolate raisins.* Yum!

Cheers, Paul!

Ps This stool is 44 years old and has a wonky leg, but I love it!

*See my review post The Benefits of Baobab, a Fruity Protein Smoothie + Review of Aduna Bars.


Copyright: Chris McGowan

Raw Chocolate Orange Christmas Pudding Bites

img_2454I put a picture of these on Instagram as soon they were ready so as to have a record of the ingredients until I had time to write them down – it was a very busy day in terms of administration, phonecalls etc – and I very swiftly received a message saying ‘early!’ So I’m holding back this post for a couple of weeks, I don’t want to spook the horses (but as I write, we are only 5 weeks away and preparation is everything!)

We’ve used leftover almond nut pulp, but you can use alternative milk pulp or if you have a nut allergy, use ground sunflower seeds or similar, it will alter the flavour slightly . (See How To Make Almond Milk for the nutritional benefits of almonds).

These are healthy raw treats, full of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, fibre and protein and contain no refined sugar.

Some people may find the golden berries a little tart, you can substitute for more gojis or dried apricots. See also Choco Almond Truffles for a sweeter version with coconut and maple syrup.


1 Cup Almond Milk Pulp, squeezed dry (or any other nut/tiger nut pulp or ground sunflower seeds)

1/2 Cup Raisins

1/4 Cup Goji Berries, soaked in a few drops of the orange juice*

1/4 Cup Golden Berries*

1/4 Cup Dried Mulberries*

Juice and zest 1 1/2 small Mandarin Oranges

1 Tbsp Cacao Powder*

1 Tbsp Melted Raw Cacao Butter (4 Pulsin’ Cacao Butter Buttons)

Blend all of the above in a food processor until it will come together and roll into balls.

Roll into balls and place in the fridge to firm up while you prepare the topping.

For the raw chocolate topping:

Melt approx. 1/3 bar of Pitch Dark or Orange Raw Chocolate*

with 2 Pulsin’ Cacao Butter Buttons (about 1 Tsp melted)

and a squeeze of the remaining mandarin orange

(do this in a bowl over a pan of hot but not boiling water)

Dip the balls in the melted chocolate and top with a goji berry moistened with a drop of orange juice.

Leave to set and keep in an airtight container in the fridge.


Copyright: Chris McGowan

3 Vegan Meals with Chilli, Quinoa, Tacos & Steamed Veg (but no Quorn!)

As many of you will know, during a recent and rare visit to a local café, I was innocently duped into having vegetarian chilli by a young woman who believed it was vegan. In fact it contained Quorn mince, which is gluten-free and vegetarian, but not vegan. I was really upset when I later realised; it’s taken me decades of being vegetarian to finally make the leap to veganism. It hasn’t been easy, but I was proud of myself and now I felt I’d failed. It took the shine off what had been lovely afternoon out in a beautiful setting. (See Chillin’ on a Chilly Afternoon with Chilli).

The only thing I felt I could do to make amends (in my way of thinking) was to create a vegan chilli at home and in having it for dinner that following day – and publishing it on social media as well as my blog – somehow I would go some way to erasing my blip and to providing regular meat-eaters and vegetarians with an alternative for their menus.

Quinoa was cooked separately, then added to the cooked sauce to give some added texture in place of ‘mince’. This recipe made enough for a bowl of chilli and quinoa one evening, chilli with 3 tacos and green salad the next, and the leftover quinoa I had with corn on the cob and vegetables the third day.

imageI’ve used chilli flakes because we don’t normally eat fresh chillies, I try to keep nightshade foods to a minimum as they can exacerbate skin and joint inflammation, which is also why I’ve used tomato paste rather than tomatoes. But don’t be put off, it still has a kick and is very tasty. The onion and crushed garlic are missing from the chopping board – they’d already gone in the pot before I remembered to take a photo!

You might be surprised at a couple of the items, or if you’re my son, then probably not!

All measurements are approximate, all ingredients used were organic where possible, vegan and gluten-free. 

Ingredients for the Chilli Sauce

Approx. 1 Tsp Solid Coconut Oil

1 Onion

2 Garlic Cloves, crushed

1 Tsp Chilli Flakes

 French Beans, washed and chopped

Broad Beans

1 Carrot, washed and chopped small

2 Large Chestnut Mushrooms, washed and chopped

1/2 Courgette (small zucchini)

Half a tin of Kidney Beans, rinsed


1/2-1 Tsp Raw Cacao Powder*

2 Cacao Buttons (or just under 1/4 Cup melted cacao butter)#

Big Squeeze Tomato Paste

1-2 Tsps Bouillon Powder

dissolved in

Approx. 300-400 mls Hot water (enough to almost cover the veg)

A Good Splash of Tamari

Black Pepper


Melt coconut oil until hot but not smoking.

Stir fry onions and crushed garlic for a couple of minutes.

Add chilli flakes.

Add rest of vegetables and heat through, stirring regularly, place lid on and sweat for a few minutes.

Add kidney beans and sweetcorn, bouillon powder in hot water, tomato paste, tamari and black pepper.

Mix the cacao powder with literally a few drops of water (an egg cup is easiest to use) and add to sauce with broken cacao buttons.

Stir well, replace lid and cook on low heat about 45 -50 minutes, until all veg cooked through. Keep an eye on the liquid.

Meanwhile, gently cook 1 Cup Quinoa in approximately 1 Cup of stock to give it some flavour, but be careful not to add salt as the quinoa will absorb it all and there will be salt in the sauce via the bouillon powder, tomato paste and tamari.

Slightly undercook the quinoa so it still has a little bite, at about 10 minutes, but keep an eye on the liquid. Remove it from the heat. Don’t stir it about, it needs to keep its shape and not break up or be soft and mushy. It will soak up some of the sauce when it’s added.

To serve:

Add a few large spoons of quinoa to the chilli sauce, folding it into the sauce but not stirring. Leave about half of the quinoa for  the third evening.

Ladle the sauce into a warm bowl, with plenty of liquid, you want the remainder of the sauce to be thick for next evening.

I sprinkled on some nutritional yeast before eating, but that’s optional. You can have tortillas or crisp homemade bread to accompany the chilli.

When the leftover chilli and quinoa are cool, place in separate containers in the fridge for the next 2 meals.

Day Two

Next evening, the chilli sauce will have been absorbed by the quinoa and will be thick enough to have in tacos with green salad and I added some chilled cashew cheese sauce but you could have plain yogurt (See Easy-Peasy Cheesy Cashew Sauce or Dip).

I made three, but it would easily have made four and was so filling. Two was enough. Be sure to eat this with someone who loves you for who you are because it is the messiest thing to eat!

Day Three

Not the prettiest or most photogenic meal, but everything needed using up. It was tasty and filling and you can’t ask for much more in a meal! It also only took about 15 minutes. 

The corn, broccoli and broad beans were lightly steamed while the chestnut mushrooms were stir-fried with crushed garlic and tamari. They were then set aside in the frying pan while the quinoa was warmed through with some chopped spring onion, keeping it on the move so it doesn’t stick to the pan.


So what’s the verdict? Do you think I’ve made up for my vegan/vegetarian mis-step?



Copyright: Chris McGowan

Nana Rhys Cream with Mango, Cacao & Peanut Butter

imageThis dessert is named after our 13 year old friend, Rhys, who has been visiting while his military dad is away ‘on manouevres’ (we all think he’s having a whale of a time in the sun, really).

Rhys is at that age when boys just sprout every other day and every time you look in the fridge, the contents have not-so-mysteriously evaporated!

So having restocked since he was here the other day, we decided on chilli, rice and salad for dinner, making extra of course (sorry, didn’t think to take a photo before it was hoovered up!) Rhys had too big platefuls, reneging on a third because I had promised home-made dairy-free nice-cream if he still had room. Foolishly, I was convinced this time we would fill him up! He looked up from his empty plate, smiling with the face of a choir boy and asked if he could still have dessert.

We played it by ear as always, guessing as to quantities amd allowing Rhys to ok the ingredients. At first, it came out a bit like a smoothie, then we added frozen mango, whizzed it up again and put it in the freezer for an hour, which thickened it up but didn’t freeze it solid. It was perfect.


(All organic except for the maple syrup)

3-4 Frozen Ripe Bananas, sliced, depending on size

1 1/2 Cups Frozen Mango Pieces

2 Cups Coconut Milk

3 Tbsps Raw Chocolate Company Cacao Powder

1 Tbsp Maple Syrup

1 Dsp Meridian Palm Oil-free, sugar-free Peanut Butter

Pinch of Pink Himalayan Salt

 Blend on high until smooth, but don’t overdo it. Pour into a freezer-proof box and freeze about an hour. If it’s half and half after that time, pour into a bowl and stir a couple of times.

Serve with toppings of your choice.

We used:

Coarsely chopped Almonds, Grated Raw Chocolate Company Mint Chocolate bar, Organic Desiccated Coconut

There was too much to all fit in the freezer box, so each of the three of us had a small glass dish of the smoothie left over in the blender as a taster while we waited for the real McCoy! Rhys had 3 servings altogether.

I think it passed muster.

(Ps There are more Raw Chocolate Recipes here).

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Raw Tiger Nut, Walnut & Chocolate Orange Cookies


This is my version of The Tiger Nut Company’s Coffee and Walnut Cookies (see website for original recipe*). They are a great way to use up the pulp left over from making Tiger Nut Milk or Horchata. I have also adapted my original post to include the use of their new Naked Organic Peeled Tiger Nuts, which produce a much finer pulp.


I don’t drink coffee but these looked so good, we decided to adapt them by substituting orange zest and a tiny squeeze of orange juice.

They are so easy to make.

To make Tiger Nut milk:

100g of pre-soaked Naked Organic Raw Tiger Nuts from The Tiger Nut Company* (almost a Cup) (these peeled tiger nuts give a finer pulp).

Soak overnight in 3x as much filtered water 

Blend with 1 Pitted Medjool Date and Half a tsp Vanilla Extract

Pinch of Pink Hamalayan Salt

Strain through nut bag and save pulp

Keep milk in airtight bottle in fridge.

Ingredients for Cookies

(All ingredients are organic, vegan and gluten-free. All measurements are approximate and may need adjusting, but that means you get to keep tasting and testing!)

Leftover Tiger Nut Pulp

3 Pitted Medjool Dates

Handful of Walnuts + some for decoration

2 Tsps Ground Organic Linseeds/Flaxseeds

2 Tsps Raw Chocolate Company Cacao Powder*

2-3 Tbsps Raw Virgin Organic Coconut Oil

1 Generous Tsp Orange Zest

Tiny squeeze of Orange Juice, be careful, it doesn’t want to be wet.

Splash of Organic Maple Syrup


Process all ingredients until it starts coming together.

Press together and roll into a ball

Dust a very little Tiger Nut Flour or Cacao Powder onto surface and rolling pin to stop the dough sticking

Roll out and cut into shapes

Freeze for about 15 minutes

(Eat any leftover scraps that won’t form another cookie and lick your fingers – cook’s prerogative!)



Gently melt some coconut oil with a splash of maple syrup, a couple of teaspoons of raw cacao powder and a squeeze of orange juice


Gently melt some Raw Chocolate Company Pitch Dark or Orange raw chocolate in a bowl over some hot water (but not boiling). You might like to add a drop of coconut oil or cacao butter to make it go a little further and drizzle.

Decorate cookies and top with broken walnuts. 

Freeze and Keep or Eat at leisure!

Ps At the request of Rachel @healthy&psyched, here is today’s video – don’t blame me, it was her suggestion! (I’m not quite sure this is what she meant 😂 Sorry, (not sorry).



Copyright: Chris McGowan

Dipped Naked Tiger Nut, Mango & Orange Treats

I recently reviewed the new Naked Organic Peeled Tiger Nuts from The Tiger Nut Company (see here) and wrote that I’d post a recipe using the resulting finer, smoother Tiger Nut Milk pulp. I know you’ve been waiting with bated breath, so here it is!

These fruit balls are packed with energy, protein, essential healthy fats, vitamins and minerals and are moist and tasty with a distinct chocolatey orange flavour.

All ingredients are organic, vegan and gluten-free. All measurements are approximate.


1 Cup Naked Tiger Nut Milk Pulp

1 Cup Dried Mango Pieces + 1/4 Cup Goji Berries*

Both soaked in the juice of 1 small orange

1/4 Cup Golden Linseeds/Flaxseeds, partially ground

1/2 Tbsp Chia Seeds,* very lightly moistened

2 Tbsps Melted Raw Cacao Butter*

2-3 Squares Mini Orange & Goji Raw Chocolate,* grated


Pulse and process all the above for a few seconds until it comes together.

Take pieces of the mix and roll them into balls.


Melt the rest of the mini bar of Raw Orange & Goji Chocolate in a bowl over hot but not boiling water, with 1 Tsp of solid Raw Cacao Butter

Dip the fruit balls in the melted chocolate and place in the fridge to set.


The pulp from the Naked Tiger Nuts makes a much finer, smoother texture than the original Organic Unpeeled Tiger Nuts when making energy balls.

Ps See also my Page of Tiger Nut Recipes


Copyright: Chris McGowan

Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie, Anyone?


This was an indulgent smoothie when I was feeling a bit down, you know those days when you feel a bit emotionally overwhelmed by life, when you want to move things along but everything seems to conspire to hold you up? I needed to step back and let it all go for a while. This was my time-out.

It was also the morning the shopping was to be delivered but the fridge on the van had broken down and all our chilled items had to be removed from the order, so no coconut water and there was no nut milk left. I had to have some of my husband’s rice milk. This was very much an improvised smoothie, but it turned out really well! I felt comforted and like I’d had a loving hug from the inside. Even better that it was served in a peanut butter jar!

It might seem a little indulgent, but it is still full of healthy ingredients including protein, healthy fats, potassium, B vitamins, magnesium and fibre.

 It’s a thin smoothie, in fact it would make a very good chocolate sauce!

Measurements are approximate.

Vegan, Gluten-free and Organic where Possible.


1 small ripe Banana (use frozen if you want a thicker smoothie)

1 Tbsp Peanut Butter (or any other nut butter)

1 Heaped Tbsp Gluten-free Oats 

2 Tbsps Raw Hemp Seeds*

2 Dried Apricots

Small Glass Organic Rice Milk – but I would have preferred to use Almond Milk

1 Tbsp Raw Cacao Powder*

Blend and pour into a glass jar.

Top with 1 Tbsp Raw Chocolate Mulberry Chips* &/or Grated Raw Chocolate 

and 1 Tsp Finely Ground Raw Almonds Or Peanuts

Only one musc video for this: it reminds me of all those evenings I laid with my tranny under my pillow trying to stay awake long enough to see if Radio Caroline DJ Johnnie Walker would pick me to say goodnight to at midnight with this Percy Sledge track. (He never did, but I never stopped hoping and listening).

(If you’re reading this via email you’ll need to visit the blog to play the video).


Copyright: Chris McGowan

Oh-So-Chocolatey Hemp Seed Coins


Chocolatey Hemp Coins with Spicy Raw Hot Chocolate and The Raw Chocolate Company Chocolate Mulberries*

This recipe is for all of you chocolate fiends who don’t have a particularly sweet tooth but crave a chocolatey something mid-afternoon. They do have a small amount of raw coconut palm sugar in them but as it is low GI and unrefined it doesn’t produce the same sugar rush or have that tooth-rotting sweetness of refined white sugar. They are easy to make, involve no cooking and are full of raw energy, but be warned, less is definitely more! I can only manage 2!

These are a good protein pick-me-up containing hemp seeds and sweet apricot kernels (like mini almonds).

The only possible track to jig along to while making these is Choco Choco Latte, so you can sing your heart out and expend some of that Raw Chocolate energy!

Here goes:


1/4 Cup Shelled Hemp Seeds*

1/4 Cup Sweet Apricot Kernels*

1/4 Cup Cacao Powder*

1/4 Cup Raisins

3 Tsps Coconut Palm Sugar*

1/4 Tsp Cinnamon

Approx 2 Tbsps Apple Juice

Raw Chocolate Mulberries Snack Pack*


Put the Hemp Seeds and Sweet Apricot Kernels in the food processor and grind them finely.

Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix well, adding a little apple juice at a time until the mixture is just moist enough to come together but not too wet.

Take small amounts of the mixture and form into little balls then flatten out into coins on some greaseproof paper.

Press a Raw Chocolate Mulberry into the centre of each coin and place in the fridge for a short time to firm up.

What you do with the leftover Raw Chocolate Mulberries is entirely up to you – but I won’t tell if you don’t.


Copyright: Chris McGowan

Walnut & Banana Smoothie with Raw Chocolate Mulberry Chips

This is a really thick smoothie – you will definitely need a spoon! – so feel free to adjust the amount of liquid if you prefer it thinner. It is intended as a meal replacement.


Walnuts are a powerhouse of nutrients: protein, Vitamin E, B vitamins, healthy oils, fibre – good for the brain, good for the heart. Apricots contain iron and Vitamin A while Romaine, Quinoa, Sunflower and Hemp Seeds are also good sources of protein, Banana has potassium – also good for your heart – and Cacao, well, what doesn’t it have and what’s not to like?!

All ingredients are organic where possible.


Small Banana

4-5 Organic Dried Apricots, rinsed

1 Tbsp Quinoa Flakes

3 Large Romaine Leaves, washed and chopped

1 Tbsp Sunflower Seeds

1 Tbsp Raw Hemp Seeds*

1 Tbsp Raw Cacao Powder *

Handful Walnut Pieces or Halves

1 Tbsp Dried Mulberries*

1 Tbsp Raw Chocolate Mulberry Chips* to sprinkle on top

1 Small Glass Fresh Apple Juice + some filtered water if you want it a little thinner

Blend all except the extra Raw Chocolate Mulberry Chips, then sprinkle them on top. Sit back, relax and savour this raw chocolate smooth sensation!

This is for you, K! 😉

*from The Raw Chocolate Company

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Simple Make-Your-Own Raw Chocolate: 3 Recipes for the Weekend


Raw Dark Vanutte Hearts, Flowers and Stars

A busy day today! Belatedly inspired to make some raw chocolate for Valentine’s Day, I devised not 1, not 2, but 3 recipes for different palates. They are very simple to make: once you’ve got the cacao butter melted and measured, it takes seconds to mix together and then all you need to do is pour and freeze.

For the first batch, we used the basic recipe on the back of The Raw Chocolate Company Cacao Powder & Coconut Palm Sugar then added a twist.

(We use their products because they are Organic, Raw, Fair Trade and Excellent Quality. Apart from the bars and cacao butter, most of their products come in Resealable Bags and the new packaging is Recyclable too!)

This version is very dark, coconut palm sugar is not like refined sugar, it is much more subtle. You may also want to grind it a little finer so that it blends more easily.

Remember, Raw Chocolate is very rich and you won’t eat as much at once as you would if it were commercial chocolate.

Note: As always, we tend to do things by eye and taste, so measurements are inevitably approximate.

First, cover a baking tray with greaseproof paper and have some small cookie shapes ready. Heat up some water to melt the cacao butter in a small bowl in order to measure it if it’s in a block or if it’s broken up into small pieces you can put it straight into the bowl with the cacao powder and coconut palm sugar.


90g Raw Cacao Butter

60g Raw Cacao Powder

60g Coconut Palm Sugar

1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Approx 3 Tbsp Finely Chopped Raw Almonds (We actually forgot to measure. Just sprinkled them on!)


Melt Cacao Butter and add to Cacao Powder and Coconut Palm Sugar in a bowl over a pan of hot but not boiling water.

Stir until sugar is dissolved and everything is thoroughly mixed and smooth. Add Vanilla Extract and stir in well.

Pour into moulds on parchment-lined tray or directly onto parchment. If the latter, roll the tray around to make the chocolate spread.

Sprinkle with chopped almonds and lightly press into mixture.

Freeze until hard.

Carefully press out of moulds or break up the flat chocolate into pieces. It is best left in the freezer until required. We portion them up so we can just take out the amount we need and the chocolate doesn’t start melting while you break it up or sort out how much you want.

Vanutte Chunks



Sweet Mulberry Raw Chocolate 

This second recipe is sweeter as it has raw maple syrup in, children might prefer it, although it is still dark.

As before, have some moulds ready on a parchment covered tray.


25mls Melted Raw Cacao Butter

15g Raw Cacao Powder

25mls Raw Maple Syrup

10g Cashew Pieces

10g Dried Mulberries, de-stalked and broken up


Mix together Cacao Butter, Maple Syrup and Cacao Powder in a bowl over a pan of hot but not boiling water until well blended.

Mix in Cashews and Mulberries and pour or spoon mixture into moulds, or pour mix into moulds and add nuts and mulberries on top – this will probably give you more shapes, we did it the first way and it made the mixture very thick.

It only made about 6 small shapes that were quite thick, so adjust amounts accordingly if you have a lot of chocolatey mouths to fill!

Freeze and store as before. (They are on the right of the photo below – we tried one first!)


Sweet ‘n’ Sour Raw Chocolate Chunks

Recipe Number 3 is also sweet and as there are so many different tastes in our family we thought we would cover all bases and add some sweet and sour dried fruit as well as the nuts to this one!

My husband loves raisins but the younger family members won’t eat them so he can have that row all to himself! I love dried Golden Berries, they have a sweetly tart flavour that I can’t resist, so there’s a row of those for me. In the middle are cashew pieces and dried mulberries.



30mls Melted Cacao Butter

30mls Raw Maple Syrup

20g Raw Cacao Powder

Handful of Raisins

Handful Golden Berries

 Handful of Cashew Pieces

 Method as before, but pour onto parchment in a tray and roll around to spread it out, then sprinkle the other ingredients in rows to cover the whole area and press in lightly.

Freeze and store as before. (We were able to keep the rows separate once solid by gently using a knife in a sawing motion and then breaking them up).

With all these recipes you can add different flavours. Some like mint, orange – even chilli!

Ps Here’s a whimsical music video By Death By Chocolate. Enjoy!

Copyright: Chris McGowan