Anti-Inflammatory, Anti-Ageing Cherry, Chia and Lucuma Smoothie (no bananas necessary!)

img_3062Cherries are considered another of Mother Nature’s superfoods, reputedly containing a wondrous variety of nutrients which are both anti-inflammatory, anti-againg, pain-relieving and help prevent certain cancers.

They have been found to help relieve the pain of gout, arthritis, fybromyalgia, headaches, sports injuries and also help improve sleep patterns.

That’s a world of responsibility for one little seed!

Combined with the multitude of health benefits from the similarly super-endowed blueberries, you have a super smoothie in the making.

We also have the prebiotics and probiotics, omega fats, Vitamin E, protein and calcium of the homemade Tiger Nut milk (also known as horchata, recipe here) added to the B Vitamins, protein and healthy fats of the almond butter. (NB Tiger Nuts are not nuts but tubers and so should be suitable for people with nut allergies, you can substitute tahini for the almond butter).

And that’s not all!

Did you know Romaine lettuce is a good source of protein? Well, that’s in there too.

Have you tried Lucuma fruit powder from Peru? It is well-known in South America where it is added to desserts and has a slightly malty flavour. It is a source of beta-carotene, iron, zinc, protein, calcium and many other vitamins and minerals.

Chia seeds are a frequent visitor in my smoothies and in porridge and desserts. They are so packed full of goodness and so versatile. Did you know you can use them as egg replacers in baking when mixed with water? See Three Cheers for Chias! What Are Chia Seeds & How Do I Use Them? Recipes included for more information on the benefits and how to use them.

Finally, we have the medjool date, a mineral-rich natural sweetener that even contains Vitamin K, necessary for good bone health.

All of these ingredients are good sources of dietary fibre, which aids digestion.

Vegan, Gluten-Free, Organic where possible.

As there were no fresh cherries available, frozen cherries were used for this recipe.

All measurements are very approximate. Adjust to suit your own tastes.


2 Tbsps Chia Seeds* soaked for 10-15 minutes in some of the Tiger Nut Milk to form a gel, this will thicken the smoothie in the absence of banana or flakes

Large handful of Frozen Cherries

Large handful of Blueberries

A handful of chopped Romaine leaves

1 Tbsp Lucuma Powder*

About 350-400mls homemade Tiger Nut Milk, depending how thick or thin you want the smoothie

Blend in high speed blender for about 40 seconds.

*The Raw Chocolate Company

*Tiger Nuts from The Tiger Nut Company

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Raw Chocolate-Covered Orange & Vine-Fruit Slices

img_3091I realised we still had a large bag of mixed vine fruit and an open bag of Sweet Apricot Kernels left over from Christmas and as we were making almond milk and would have the pulp to use up, I decided to combine the two. My husband kindly donated the Raw Chocolate Company Goji and Orange bar from his Selection Box* for the topping and we made it extra orangey with some fresh orange juice and zest.

You could substitute the almond milk pulp for any other nut milk pulp or even use finely ground nuts and/or seeds, it will alter the flavour a little and you may have to adjust the amount of liquid.

The vine fruits can be substituted with any mix of chopped dried fruit, I would have liked apricots but we didn’t have any. Again, it will slightly alter the taste.

The Sweet Apricot Kernels can be substituted with chopped almonds or other nuts.

 Vegan, Gluten-Free and Organic where possible.

All quantities very approximate.


1 Cup Almond Nut Milk Pulp

1/2 C Sweet Apricot Kernels, roughly chopped

2 Cups Mixed Vine Fruits

1 Tbsp Chia Seeds

2 Tbsps Shelled Hemp Seeds

Juice and Zest of 1 Small Orange, washed, reserve a little for the topping

1 Tbsp Maple Syrup

1 Tbsp Melted Cacao Butter (about 5-6 cacao butter buttons)

22g bar of The Raw Chocolate Company Goji and Orange Raw Chocolate melted with 2 cacao butter buttons (about a tsp) + a tsp of Orange Juice

A Square of a 22g bar of The Raw Chocolate Company Orange Raw Chocolate, grated (it’s up to you what you do with the remainder, I won’t tell if you don’t;-))

More Orange Zest for topping


Add all the main ingredients to the food processor up to the melted cacao butter and process until it comes together, scraping down and restarting a few times.

img_3088Press firmly into a baking tin which has been lightly oiled with a little melted cacao butter.

Place in the fridge to firm up a little.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate and cacao butter over a pan of hot but not boiling water. Add a little orange juice.

Remove the tray from the fridge and drizzle or cover the fruit img_3090mixture with the chocolate and grate a little orange zest and orange raw chocolate all over. Put back in the fridge for a few minutes.

When firm and the chocolate set, slice carefully and enjoy.

Will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.


Relaxing with James Arthur, my favourite green tea with jasmine in my new oversized cup and a raw slice treat or two. The chocolate bar is just for the photo, honest!


See Raw Treats – Recipes and Raw Chocolate Recipes in the menu for more raw treats.

The Raw Chocolate Company

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Selenium Smoothie: A Light Energy Boost or Recovery Drink

Some time ago, I wrote a post about the importance of selenium in the diet, but somehow I didn’t get around to posting this recipe to accompany it. (See Love Brazils? Beware Potential Selenium Overload!) I think I was concerned I was posting too many smoothie recipes and not enough juicing ones!

This is a simple, light smoothie, but as always bear in mind my smoothie recipes are mostly meant to be meal replacements, energy boosts or recovery shakes. They contain protein, electrolytes, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals and are healthier alternatives to sugary, chemical-laden snacks and so-called energy bars and drinks.

The Brazils in this smoothie contain selenium, healthy fats and B vitamins, while the wheatgrass powder also contains selenium, B Vitamins including B6 and B12, Vitamins A, C, E and K (essential for bood clotting and bone health). Banana contains potassium for a healthy heart and B vitamins, the chia seeds are full of healthy nutrients including protein and omega fats, oats have magnesium to prevent cramping muscles and keep us calm. Dates are good sources of fibre, minerals including iron, calcium, copper and zinc, and Vitamins A, B, C and K.


1 Ripe Banana

2 Tbsps Gluten-Free Oats

1 Tbsp Chia Seeds*

3 Brazil Nuts

1 Medjool Date, pitted

1 Glass Coconut Water

1 Tsp Wheatgrass Powder

Soak the oats and chia seeds in the coconut water in the blender for 20 minutes for improved digestion and absorption, then blend with all the other ingredients.


Copyright: Chris McGowan

Apricot Chia Smoothie

It’s summer fruit season at last! I had my first apricots of the season last week and am salivating whilst awaiting the peaches in my organic fruit and veg box. Sorry, not a nice image, but there you go. I’m often loth to put them in smoothies, preferring to savour them whole, but one of the apricots looked like it needed using up so in it went.

Here’s the result:


The smoothie has lots of vitamins and minerals, protein, fibre and healthy fats. To find out the health benefits of chia seeds and other chia, recipes see Three Cheers for Chias!

(Tip: Put the oats and chia seeds to soak in the milk in the blender and leave for about 15 minutes, it will thicken the smoothie, make it easier to digest and keep you feeling fuller for longer)

Vegan and gluten-free.


1 Small Banana

1-2 Fresh Apricots depending on size

2 Tbsps Gluten-free Oats

1 Tbsp Chia Seeds*

1 Tbsp Peanut Butter

1 Medium Glass Almond Milk (see recipe here)

Blend and serve with a few chia seeds sprinkled on top for a bit of crunch.

Today’s video is an oldie but a goodie and will have you boppin’ away the cobwebs. The Summer of ’69… Ah, I remember it well… A Levels, Neil Armstrong, Woodstock, Crosby, Stills and Nash… Nuff sed 😎


Copyright: Chris McGowan

Three Cheers for Chias! What Are Chia Seeds & How Do I Use Them? Recipes included

(Sorry, my husband came up with that!)


I was recently asked by Scribbleartie to write a post about Chia Seeds as I use them a lot in my smoothies and breakfast bowls, so here is the latest in my mini series of informative posts on essential vitamins and minerals. I’ve included some recipes at the bottom of the post.


These little seeds are amazing nutritional powerhouses and I hope by the end you feel inspired to make them a part of your eating regimen.

(Ours are from The Raw Chocolate Company. They are Organic and Fair Trade and come in a resealable bag that actually works!) 

‘Mum, you have to try these!’ 

The first time I tried chia seeds, I took my son’s advice and soaked a tablespoon in a glass of cold water for half an hour, stirring like there was no tomorrow, adding a slice of lime, then sipping it as a ‘refreshing’ drink. Ugh!!! Like drinking tadpoles! Not that I’ve ever drunk tadpoles, but you know what I mean. The seeds swell and form a gel. It was like a tasteless jelly, even with the lime. A lot of people like this Chia Fresca, but I swore it would never pass my lips again!

However, I don’t like giving up that easily when I know something is really good for me and I found that I liked adding the seeds to smoothies or soaking them with oats, nuts and berries for breakfast. (Recipe ideas later).


 I’m not doing a great job of selling them to you, am I?!

Let’s begin again…

First, a little history:

Chia seeds are tiny black seeds from a plant belonging to the mint family. Originally grown in Mexico and South America, they were used by the Aztec and Mayan warriors and runners as a source of energy. Reportedly, a spoonful could sustain them for a whole day (Chia means strength in Mayan).

More recently, health enthusiasts have taken to using them as a superfood having discovered their nutritional density and healthy fats and fibre.

Here’s the lowdown on the science:

Chia seeds are 14% protein with 1 oz (28g or about 2 Tbsps) providing 4g Protein and also 18% of your daily Calcium requirement.

Boron is also found in Chia seeds which helps to metabolise the Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese, Potassium and Vitamin D in the seeds for healthy, strong bones. Add to these Sulphur, Iron, Zinc, Phosphorous, Vitamins B1, B2, B3, and E and you can see where I’m going with the powerhouse metaphor.

But that’s not all…

Chia seeds contain more heart-healthy Omega-3 fats than salmon.

These essential healthy fats are protected from going rancid by a proliferation of antioxidants, which also protect our bodies from free radical damage that can lead to premature aging and even cancer through inflammation, and they help repair already damaged skin.

Being 40% fibre, Chia seeds aid good digestion: soaked seeds promote bowel regularity and waste elimination. Because they can absorb up to 12 times their weight in water, they form a gel which supports the growth of probiotics for a healthy gut. (Be sure to keep well-hydrated).

(Chia seeds are so easily digested that in Mexico, babies are given chia porridge when being weaned in the same way we might give ours baby rice).

And there’s more…

Chia seeds are GMO-Free and naturally Gluten-Free, they help fill you up as they swell in your stomach so you are less likely to snack and interestingly, they are currently being investigated for their potential ability to help control diabetes.

These seeds are not only healthy but versatile:

1 Tbsp of Chia Seeds soaked in 3 Tbsps of water can act as egg replacement in vegan recipes – see Vegan Leek, Carrot & Ginger SausagesVegan ‘Cheesy’ Almond, Leek & Herb SausagesSpicy Chickpea & Coriander Veggie Burgers (vegan & gluten-free).

When combined with other ingredients, Chia Seeds make a tasty, satisfying, wholesome meal, snack or dessert. Promise.

So, are you ready to try them yet?


Vegan Gluten-Free Breakfast 1: Soak 1 Tbsp Oats + 1 Tbsp each of Chia Seeds*, Hemp Seeds* & Goji Berries* with a Glass of Almond Milk for 30-60 minutes. (Stir occasionally). Serve with Sliced Banana, Blueberries, Dessicated Coconut. Yum!



Vegan Gluten-Free Breakfast 2: Blend 1 Cup Dried Mango, 1 Tbsp Chia Seeds,* 1 Tbsp Quinoa Flakes, Small Glass Coconut Water, 3 Brazil Nuts, and 1/2 Chopped Apple. Pour into a bowl and serve  with sliced apple and dessicated coconut.



Vegan Gluten-Free Breakfast/Dessert 3: Blend 1/2 a ripe Banana, 1/2 a ripe Pear, 1 Tbsp Oats, 1 Tbsp Chia Seeds,* 1 Tbsp Peanut Butter, 1 Tbsp Golden Linseeds, 1 Tsp Wheatgrass Powder with a Glass of Almond or Tiger Nut Milk (see below). Serve in a bowl with sliced Pear & Banana, Blueberries and a sprinkling of Cinnamon.


This morning’s Tiger Berry Breakfast: 1 Tbsp Chia Seeds,* 2 Tbsps Oats, 1 Tbsp of Goji Berries* soaked in 1 Glass Tiger Nut Milk (see below) for 30-60 minutes (stir occasionally), served in a glass dish on a pretty blue plate (optional) with blueberries, more goji berries and hemp seeds or chopped nuts.


 You can also simply soak (for up to an hour) a tablespoon of seeds and a couple of tablespoons of oats in a bowl with some chopped medjool dates or dried apricots for sweetness, using a glass of nut or tiger nut milk (or freshly made apple juice) and serve with your favourite fruit and/or nuts.

There are also recipes in the Menu for smoothies using Chia Seeds.

Are you convinced, yet?


Copyright: Chris McGowan

Chia Cashew Smoothie


After seemingly endless cycles of wind, rain, sleet, hail and snow on repeat, the sun came out of hibernation the morning I was having this for breakfast and I was able to sit out in the garden amongst the forget-me-nots, bluebells and tulips. I was joined by variously coloured butterflies and serenaded by a blackbird from the apple tree. So peaceful and so welcome.


But on to the recipe.

I love cashews. They are delicately sweet, creamy and versatile. And they are good for you! Little parcels of protein, fibre, B vitamins, magnesium, manganese, copper, calcium, zinc, iron, selenium, potassium and healthy fats. (They contain the least amount of fat of all the nuts). They can be used in sweet or savoury dishes, whole or blended, or on their own toasted, salted or plain. A couple of handfuls of these tiny titans are also reputed to be as effective as 1 dose of prozac for its calming effects, they contain tryptophan, the precursor to seratonin, a feel-good chemical produced in our brains.

Chia seeds, too, have become a favourite: also versatile, they are a healthy addition to smoothies, breakfast porridge and desserts; mixed with water they can act as egg replacement in recipes and punch far beyond their size in nutrients. These tiny seeds provide high quality protein, fibre, antioxidants, healthy omega fats, manganese, magnesium, potassium, calcium and zinc.

They are usually best used pre-soaked to make them swell, however blended in a smoothie helps with this – they keep you fuller longer and help keep your digestive system moving. Some people like a spoonful of chia seeds soaked in a glass of water for 20-30 minutes with a squeeze of lime juice as a refreshing drink.

All ingredients are organic except the yogurt.


1 Small Ripe Banana

1 Small Handful Cashew Pieces

2 Tbsps Raw Hemp Seeds*

1 Tbsp Pumpkin Seeds

1 Tbsp Chia Seeds*

1 Tbsp Millet Flakes

Small Handful Blueberries

2 Medjool Dates, pitted

1 Small Glass Unsweetened Coconut Water

1 Tbsp CoYo Plain Yogurt


 Blend and serve.



I was very tempted to add George Harrison’s ‘Here Comes the Sun’ but this You Tube video of Paul McCartney’s ‘Blackbird’ has stunning pictures of a garden blackbird accompanying it, it’s such a gentle song to accompany my peaceful breakfast, I couldn’t resist…


Copyright: Chris McGowan

Grab Yourself a Slice of Energy: Raw Sweet Apricot Kernel Slices!

Raw Sweet Apricot Kernel Slices


These Sweet Apricot Kernel Slices are protein-packed and bursting with so much energy you could be bouncing off the walls! Simple and quick to make, they are excellent for a.m. and p.m pick-me-ups, lunch-boxes and activity snacks. They keep well in a sealed container in the fridge and even keep for a long time in the freezer – if you can resist them that is.  Even the sceptical children in the family love these! They also make a lovely gift.

They are an excellent way to use home-made Sweet Apricot Kernel Butter – see earlier post Gettin’ Jiggy in the Kitchen 

All measurements are approximate. Substitutions are ok on a like for like basis. I use organic where possible. They are vegan and gluten-free and very yummy!

(If you want a slightly less chewy bar, briefly soak the goji berries in a little apple juice or water).

1 Cup Raw Chocolate Company* Organic Sweet Apricot Kernels, ground coarsely
1 1/2 Cups Gluten-Free Oats
12 Soft Organic Dried Apricots
2 and a bit Tbsps Water
1 Heaped Tbsp Raw Chocolate Company Chia Seeds
1/2 Cup Raw Chocolate Company Goji Berries
A Generous 1/3 Cup Raw Sweet Apricot Kernel Butter (see earlier recipe)
A Generous 1/4 Cup Organic Maple Syrup
Pinch of Pink Himalayan Salt
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract


Place ground kernels in a large mixing bowl
Process oats, apricots and water until the apricots are coarsely chopped
Add to mixing bowl along with Goji Berries and Chia Seeds
In a small saucepan, warm the Sweet Apricot Kernel Butter, Maple Syrup, Sea Salt and Vanilla Extract until smooth and pouring consistency
Add to mixing bowl and mix thoroughly until it starts to come together, clean hands are the best tool for this!
Press into an 8″x 8″ tin lined with greaseproof paper

Refrigerate for several hours to set.
Slice and savour!

PS my husband reckons they taste like Christmas cake and was convinced they were made with almonds.


Copyright: Chris McGowan