Heart-Healthy Carob, Walnut & Lucuma Smoothie

29934304_UnknownI can’t describe how heavenly this is! I surprised myself, even though I love carob. This is one of those thick smoothies that can be served for breakfast or dessert. It’s very filling so maybe split between two if having it after a meal.

I used buckwheat flakes* because I had no oats left and lucuma powder as I’d run out of baobab. Lucuma is a Peruvian fruit grown at high altitudes, the powder has a subtle malty flavour. It is nutritionally healthy, containing protein, calcium, iron, B3 as well as a host of other vitamins and minerals.

Carob is also from South America and is a tasty alternative for anyone who can’t eat chocolate or cacao. I discovered it in the 1980’s when I was trying to find a healthier alternative to commercial chocolate bars and hadn’t yet come across raw cacao. It’s caffeine-free, low in sodium, contains calcium and is high in fibre. Carob contains gallic acid which is antiviral, antiseptic, antibacterial, acts as an analgesic and antioxidant.

Ingredients

(Vegan, Gluten-Free, Organic)

1 Heaped Tbsp Carob Powder

1 Banana, chopped

3 Dried Figs, chopped

Good Handful Walnut Pieces (and a few to serve)

1 Dsp Peanut Butter

1 Tbsp Buckwheat Flakes or Oats

1 Tbsp Chia Seeds

Coconut Water

1 rounded Tsp Lucuma Powder or Baobab Powder

***

Blend, chill (if you can wait!), add a sprinkling of chopped walnuts, and serve. Bliss.

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*See also:

Vegan Chilli with Aduki Beans & Buckwheat

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

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

Copyright: Chris McGowan

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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.

Ingredients

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

GoGo Berry Fudge: So Decadent, It Should Be Illegal!

imagePlease Note: Since I wrote this recipe, The Raw Chocolate Company have stopped selling Goldenberries, if you can’t get them elsewhere or want a less tart fruit in the fudge, try apple juice-infused dried cranberries or dried apricots. Also, the sweet apricot kernel butter can be replaced with almond nut butter.

Grab a bag of Raw Chocolate Company Golden Berries* – or 2, you may find you want to snack a little as you work – and find some Belinda Carlisle and The GoGos (http://youtu.be/KjNZcGP-jAkto give your vocal chords a workout while you try out this simple recipe.

It is so decadent it should be illegal but it has protein, antioxidants, essential fatty acids and minerals. It’s so moreish I was advised by one family member not to leave it out!

This fudge makes a lovely gift if placed in an airtight tin – I used a tartan shortbread tin: line the base, cut 2 paper doillies in half and stick the straight edge of each half inside the top edges of the sides so they fold over the fudge. Keep the fudge chilled before placing in the tin at the last minute and seal around the edges before gift-wrapping.

This recipe also uses Sweet Apricot Kernel Butter – see earlier recipe Gettin’ Jiggy in the Kitchen – you could use any nut butter, but this will slightly alter the flavour.

(The Raw Chocolate Company products are specified because it was originally developed for their blog, you can of course use other brands, these are the ones we use as they are organic, fairtrade and excellent quality).

WARNING: I strongly advise you do this alone in the privacy of your own kitchen with no family members around or there could be an unseemly scrimmage to scrape out blender, bowl and utensils before you’ve even finished – and that should be your privilege!

Ingredients

1 Cup melted Raw Chocolate Company Cacao ButterTip: place the tub in a bowl of hot water while you get everything else together 
1 Cup Maple Syrup
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
pinch of Himalayan Pink Salt
2 Tsp Raw Chocolate Company Lucuma Fruit Powder
1 Cup Raw Chocolate Company Cacao Powder
1 Cup Raw Sweet Apricot Kernel Butter (see above, or substitute with almond butter
1/2 Cup Raw Chocolate Company Golden Berries
1/2 Cup Raw Chocolate Company Goji Berries
Few Squares Raw Chocolate Company Pitch Dark Raw Chocolate

Method

(N.B. You need to work quickly before it starts setting).

Blend all ingredients except the Berries and Pitch Dark. I tried this in a small flask blender, but it didn’t work and I ended up transferring to a food processor, but a high speed blender is probably best.

Transfer to a bowl and stir in the Berries and some grated Pitch Dark.

Spread in a lined 8×8 tin

Grate some more Pitch Dark on top and refrigerate for half an hour – if you can wait that long!

Break into bite-size chunks – it is quite rich so a little goes a long way.

Tip: clean up as you go along, the cacao butter and fudge batter set quickly so wipe up any drips straightaway and put blender, bowl and utensils to soak as soon as you’re done with them, saves elbow grease later and gives you more time to indulge before you have to let in the hungry hordes.

*http://www.therawchocolatecompany.com

This recipe first appeared on The Raw Chocolate Company Blog in an edited form.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Taste-Testing The New Tiger Nut Company Raw Chocolate Bar: Does It Roaarrr! or Does It Whimper?

As many of you will know from previous posts, I love homemade horchata or tiger nut milk. It is a sweet and creamy plantbased alternative to dairy milk and so very good for you. Tiger nuts are also a good nutfree alternative for all those allergic to nuts as they are in fact small tubers. (You can also buy tiger nut flour).

As you will also know, we are big fans of raw chocolate in our family: we use cacao in our smoothies, in our porridge, in our raw baking and of course we eat raw chocolate bars.

So, how happy am I that The Tiger Nut Company* has just brought out their first raw chocolate bar made with tiger nuts and cacao?! When I placed my order for tiger nuts the other day – calamities, I didn’t know we’d run out so no horchata this week! – the lovely Ani sent me a bar to try and as I write she is anxiously awaiting my review, knowing how much we love raw chocolate!

 I won’t keep her waiting any longer, I hope this will put her out of her misery and I’ll post as quickly as I can.

img_6316When I received the bar, our daughter’s family were visiting and there was no way I could have shared it between us all so I had to be disciplined and refrain from trying it until today. I had almost forgotten about it and then when I was nigh on knee-deep in Christmas (yes, it’s for overseas) and birthday wrapping paper, I felt I needed a break and the lightbulb went on! HB was doing a bike repair, so the coast was clear! (He’s a chocolate fiend).

The first thing you notice is the presentation: the crushed tiger nuts are pressed into the top of the chocolate rather than mixed in which is usually the case with nutty chocolate. It sets the bar apart, makes it visually arresting. The second is how dark the chocolate is and how lovely and chunky. It’s a good size, 55g, and sectioned into 5 pieces which makes it easy to break up (and share if you’re so inclined).

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This bar has a lovely crisp snap when you break it and a satisfying bite to it that doesn’t threaten to break your teeth but makes you feel it is substantial.

There are all sorts of tastes and textures going on in this bar! Ani tells me the bars are sweetened with dates and lucuma (a South American fruit powder that has a malted taste). So no refined sugar.

The chocolate is very dark, it is 80% raw cacao, a little bitter like good quality dark chocolate (no milk, dairy or otherwise) and this is offset by the lightly malted taste of the lucuma powder. I used to love Maltesers many moons ago and the use of lucuma reminded me of them, though it is more subtle here. The chewy texture of crushed tiger nuts also contrasts with the smooth creaminess of the chocolate.

My husband came in while I was on my second piece and I offered him a piece to try. To my surprise, he hesitated, saying he was just about to make his lunch! Then he quickly changed his mind. His first reaction was that the tiger nuts tasted a little like sesame seeds but he’s not known for his sensitive palate and I don’t think I would agree with him. They don’t have such a distinctive taste and have a mild sweetness. Then he said the chocolate was very dark, which I do agree with. He decided he liked it.

After the second piece, I felt satisfied, I didn’t want to gobble up the whole 55g bar as so often with commercial chocolate where you tend to eat mindlessly. I enjoyed what I had and wanted to save the remainder.

Overall, we liked this new take on raw cacao chocolate bars. We also like that it is a healthy raw snack.

Foods that are described as ‘raw’ have not been heated over 42C and this means they retain their nutrients. Cacao is full of vitamins, minerals, omega fats, micronutrients and is regarded as a mood enhancer and good for the memory. Dates are naturally sweet and contain minerals and fibre. Lucuma is labelled a superfood by the health industry, while tiger nuts are prebiotic (good for gut health), and contain vitamins, minerals, fibre and healthy omega fats.

These bars are organic, which is something I wasn’t aware of until I asked, it isn’t mentioned in the main part of the packaging or in the title on the Shop page of the website (you have to read the full description), so I would suggest the company advertise this a little better as I for one positively seek out organic treats and reject those that aren’t.

Would I recommend them? Yes, they are a little different, healthy, satiating, smooth and tasty. They are handmade, vegan, glutenfree, paleo, nutfree, organic and contain no refined sugar. And the customer service is always excellent! Well done!

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Ps Theobromine in good quality dark chocolate is an effective treatment for dry coughs! If that isn’t a good enough reason to eat chocolate, I don’t know what is! 50-100g of dark chocolate is the recommended dose.

*https://www.thetigernutcompany.co.uk/

Copyrght: Chris McGowan

Christmas Truffles

img_2880These are similar to the mix for the Spiced Fruity Raw Vegan Gluten-Free Christmas Pudding  The method is a little different, however. You may want to make individual treats for a gift or if you don’t need a whole pudding. They keep well in the fridge or freezer.

As always, measurements are approximate, substitutions are encouraged so long as they are like for like. If you don’t have enough dates, use some raisins or figs to make it up. The recipe contains no refined sugar.

The mix is vegan, gluten-free and all done in the food processor, so it’s easy-peasy lemon squeezy!

Different combinations of tart or sweet berries will give you a different balance of sweetness.

The fun bit is that if you really want, you can scoop out small amounts of the mixture and try them with a different combination of spices, or dust with a different powder eg cacao, lucuma powder, fine tiger nut flour,** finely ground sweet apricot kernels or almonds, and you can test as you go along: add a bit of this or that, see what you prefer and then next time do it all for real with your preferred combination!

Good for getting the kids involved rolling them in different ingredients and trying them out.

They also make a great gift.

So put on some Seasonal music – my antidote to all the shopping centre Christmas muzak: Miley Cyrus, Permanent December – and off we go!

Ingredients

Half Cup Sweet Apricot Kernels (or almonds, roughly chopped) pre-soak them while you get everything else ready
Half Cup Walnuts
Half Cup Dates
Half Cup Goji Berries
Half Cup Dried Mulberries
Zest and Juice of Half an Orange (or apple juice if you prefer a sweeter flavour)
Zest of Half a Lemon
1/4 Tsp Cinnamon
1/4 Tsp Nutmeg
Or whichever spices you prefer, adjust amount according to taste

Method

Pre-soak the Sweet Apricot Kernels
Soak Berries in the Orange Juice (or apple juice if you want it less citrusy)

Drain Kernels and process
Add remainder of ingredients
Process & Stir, Process & Stir, it will take a while, until you arrive at your preferred consistency.

Scoop spoons of the mixture and roll into balls in your hands.
Refrigerate to firm up.
Lightly dust with Raw Lucuma Fruit Powder or whatever else you fancy. It has a slightly malted flavour and is rich in healthy nutrients.

You could also dip them in melted raw chocolate, add a little raw cacao butter to make it dip easier and prevent it being too brittle when it sets.
Place in truffle cases, decorate with holly and gracefully accept all the compliments!

*https://www.therawchocolatecompany.com

https://www.thetigernutcompany.co.uk

Copyright: Chris McGowan