Vegan Salted Chocolate Cashews – Going, Going …

FB963C8C-1363-40DC-A04A-3BC4D64FE136A quick post to tell all you raw chocolate lovers that my favourite Raw Chocolate Company has just brought out these raw chocolate smiles which they’ve called Vanoffee Salted Smoochies! All I can say is yum, yum, yum!! They are so smooth, lightly salted and still have a bite (often cashews go soft when used commercially).

If you like the idea, you have to hurry: these are a special edition, produced to gauge customer reaction and as of this afternoon only 20 bags left!

If enough of us give positive feedback and tell them how gorgeous they are (and the cashews ;-:) they may just bring them back permanently and in a swish new pouch to replace their basic temporary one. They really deserve some new clothes.

A note of caution, these are just as addictive as their Vanoffee Mulberries!

Raw Vanoffee Chocolate has a lightly malted flavour and is so smooth and ‘creamy’ on the tongue.

It was described by one of the Dragons on Dragon’s Den as the best chocolate he’d ever tasted.

All The Raw Chocolate Company products are Vegan, Organic, Gluten-free, Kosher and Sustainably Sourced. They use coconut blossom sugar, not refined sugar, and unlike with palm oil, no trees are felled. They are dairy-free, additive-free and unlike commercial dairy chocolate, raw chocolate contains lots of nutrients.

Full disclosure: Although my family has had a long association with the company and its founder, since before its inception, I always buy the products and am not requested or paid to review them. I buy them because I love them, it’s the only chocolate I eat.

This review is purely selfish: I want more Vanoffee Salted Smoochies!

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Ps There’s also New Vegan Chocky Cherries waiting to be tested. It’s a hard job, but someone has to do it!

Copyright: Chris McGowan

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The Mood Booster: Raw Chocolate Mulberry, Banana & Walnut Smoothie

29666928_UnknownI was feeling a bit sorry for myself when I came downstairs, suffering horrible back pain, no sleep, gloomy sky, prospect of rain, drop in temperatures. I was also very hungry, having gone to bed early evening and not getting up until 14 hours later. That did it, I needed chocolate and I needed it fast. Chocolate? For breakfast? Absolutely!

Let me emphasise, we’re talking raw chocolate, not commercial sugar-laden, highly-processed chocolate.

Raw cacao is naturally mood-enhancing, anti-inflammatory, contains 40 times more antioxidants than blueberries, more absorbable calcium than cow’s milk, iron, zinc and heart-healthy magnesium, needed to prevent muscle cramps and depression, and for gut health – see link below.

I had recently bought a whole kilo, yes a KILO! of The Raw Chocolate Company raw chocolate mulberry chips and this was a good excuse to use some. These are tiny bits of dried mulberries covered in raw chocolate, great for sprinkling on desserts, making raw treats or in this case smoothies. They are vegan, gluten-free, dairyfree, organic.

The rest of the ingredients are also nutrient-dense: mineral-rich, B vitamins, omega oils, protein, Vitamin E, fibre, anti-inflammatory. The cinnamon helps control blood sugar spikes. All in all, a healthy, tasty breakfast or dessert.

Ingredients

(All amounts very approximate, I just chucked in a few of this and a handful of that, so I’m basically guessing!)

1 Banana

Small handful Walnut Pieces

2 Dried Figs, stem removed, chopped

2 Tbsps Raw Chocolate Mulberry Chips + A sprinkling for serving

2 Tbsps freshly ground Golden Linseeds

1 Heaped Tbsp Hemp Protein Powder

A good shake of ground Cinnamon.

Glass of homemade and chilled Almond Milk* or other nut milk/ Tiger Nut Milk**

*

Blend on fast for 40-60 seconds. Add more milk if you want it a little thinner.

Serve chilled. With a spoon!

Gorgeous.

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*Nut & Seed Milks & Smoothie Recipes

How to Make Cashew Nut Milk & Why You Should!

Horchata (aka Tiger Nut Milk)

Magnesium: Are You Getting Enough?

Copyright: Chris McGowan

 

Taking a Break to Rest My Broken Body + Tips to Cope with Chronic Pain

IMG_9015As many of you know, I recently injured my back again being much too optimistic about how far I could walk. This is an ongoing problem I have had all my adult life since lifting an overloaded case of albums (as in LPs), along with subsequent whiplash injuries, surgery and medieval torture!

Periodically, I need to have osteopathy and rest up for some time. I’ve been struggling this last few weeks, so I am taking some time off to have some treatment and give my body a break. It’s been a physically demanding few months with all the house refurbishment and family birthdays, not to mention 7 weeks of watching sweaty men in lycra, cycling Les Tours de France, Spain and Britain! I need to take better care of myself.

Pain Awareness Month – a personal reflection on Chronic Pain (but don’t worry, this isn’t a moanfest and I suggest tips to help cope!)

This is Pain Awareness Month and boy, have I been aware of pain 😉 Chronic pain is a widespread but often invisible disorder, it interferes with every part of your life and affects those around you as well as those in pain. It affects mood, mobility, the ability to work or create, family relations – I have missed so many important family events, often having to let people down at the last minute – and you can lose friends very quickly.

img_6480It is difficult for people, especially the medical profession and often some family members, to understand why one day, or even hour, you can do something, but the next day it is completely impossible; why – even though you’re smiling – you are still in deep, often agonising pain. In this photo, I had had no sleep for a couple of nights due to deep persistent pain, but I was up on Christmas morning ready to join in the family gift-swap.

You are often damned if you do and damned if you don’t: over the years, I have been regularly taken to task for not trying hard enough, then berated for trying too hard and making things worse! It can be impossible to find the right balance.

I have had to spend long periods of time in bed – I’m talking months and even years at a time – unable to look after my children, but I have had people say to me: ‘you’re in the right place’, when it’s cold or wet, or ‘I wish I could lie in bed all day and not have to go to work!’ Don’t say it!

Natural Therapies

Doctors can only offer me prescriptions for pills that don’t work and make things worse with their side effects. So I choose natural therapies like craniosacral osteopathy for realignment (a gentle form, not the bone-crunching type!), music and aromatherapy oils for relaxation and meditation, herbal remedies for inflammation, homeopathic gel for bruised muscles, audiobooks for stimulation, heat pads for spasms and poor circulation, Rescue Remedy for shock and stress – and my diet helps. It includes copious amounts of raw chocolate! And laughter really is the best medicine.

(Raw cacao is a mood booster and anti-inflammatory and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise;-) It contains 40 times more antioxidants than blueberries, is a rich source of magnesium which is heart-healthy, helps relax muscles and prevent depression; it contains more calcium than cow’s milk, iron, zinc, B vitamins, omega oils and protein. And it tastes amazing).*

Gratitude

The regular giving of thanks helps prevent and reduce the onset of depression when dealing with chronic pain. Starting a gratitude journal when severely depressed saved my life. Knowing you have to write something down at the end of the day makes you look for the positive and helps to change your mindset. Nowadays, I don’t need to write it out but I express my appreciation every day, even for the little things, especially for the little things. And even when at my worst physically, I still try to perform random acts of kindness.

Thinking of others, looking outwards instead of always looking inwards at my pain, helps me cope. It is partly why I began this blog, to pass on what I have learned and researched in the realm of diet, health and wellbeing, in the hope that someone reading it might be helped just a little bit to improve their lifestyle, their health and their outlook and enjoy a happier, healthier life.

Juicing for Health

IMG_8106Juicing and adopting a vegan diet eased my aches and pains by reducing inflammation, removing extra weight from my joints, resetting my hormones, calming and relaxing me, providing energy and a positive outlook – you can read about my first juice fast and the positive effects on my health here: Juicing: How to Begin or Do As I Say, Not As I Did!

Keep Calm, Plants Have Protein!

Altering my diet has improved so many health issues: since changing to a plant-based diet I no longer use an inhaler or have asthma attacks; losing the extra weight reduced the pressure in my spine, improved my mobility, brought my cholesterol levels to normal and improved my digestion. Pain causes tension, which impedes digestion. In addition, years of pain medication has damaged my stomach lining. Dietary changes also helped cure a sudden-onset itchy scaly rash that almost drove me mad. (see How I Juiced My Skin Clear).

(There are several posts in the menu about the nutritional and environmental benefits of adopting a vegan diet).**

IMG_3797Looking and feeling better does have its drawbacks however! People sometimes think that because I look healthy, smile, study, make cards and write a health and wellness blog, everything is hunky dory in the pain department. Sometimes it is hard not to feel a bit of a fraud when I see myself through other people’s eyes. The more I do the more I am expected to do, my health improvements tend to be taken somewhat for granted. I, however, appreciate every little thing I can do, but I do have a tendency to get over-confident and my body will soon let me know how it feels about that!

I’ll be signing off on Tuesday, 12th September but I have scheduled some posts for while I’m away to keep you on the straight and narrow, so don’t be off bingeing on doughnuts and chips just because I have my back turned!

A Bientôt!

See also Brigid’s excellent and positive post on coping with Fibromyalgia & Chronic Illness, also using natural methods.

*My favourite raw chocolate is from the award-winning The Raw Chocolate Company It’s vegan, gluten-free, organic and Fairtrade.

**Some posts about changing to a plantbased diet:

Veganuary

Veganuary – results

Where Do I Get My Protein on a Vegan Diet?

Where Do I Get My Calcium On A Vegan Diet?

Environmental Benefits of Adopting a Vegan/Vegetarian Diet

Where Do I Get Iron on a Vegan Diet?

Plant Powered New Year

Please Note: these are my personal thoughts based on experience and research. Please see a doctor before reducing or stopping medication or beginning a juice-cleanse for the first time.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Ginger & Lemon Bliss Balls with a Bite!

29398032_UnknownIt’s been some time since I posted a recipe for raw treats, even longer since we made energy balls, so when we were in the midst of an horrendous thunderstorm and planting had to stop for the day, the food processor was put through its paces and these are what we came up with.

Using lightly ground rather than finely ground Sweet Apricot Kernels and Sunflower Seeds, together with Raw Cacao Nibs, gives them a satisfying nutty bite rather than the fudge texture of most energy/bliss balls. Cacao nibs are dried pieces of raw cacao. If you can’t get Sweet Apricot Kernels, Almonds are a good substitute.

I’ve had a bar of The Raw Chocolate Company Ginger & Lemon raw chocolate for some time, waiting patiently for me to come up with a recipe. It contains tiny pieces of Fijian crystallised ginger which are really spicy! These were set aside when the chocolate was melted and used to decorate the treats.

These treats are packed with healthy ingredients including protein, iron, B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, healthy oils, and raw chocolate is mood-enhancing, so go on spoil yourself!

As always, these are vegan and gluten-free and they can be made nut-free if you substitute with other seeds, though the taste and texture will be a little different.

(All ingredients used were organic where possible).

Ingredients for basic energy balls:

1 Cup Organic Raw Mulberries*

1/2 Cup Sweet Apricot Kernels (ground)*

1/2 Cup Sunflower Seeds (ground)

1/3 Cup chopped Medjool Dates

Juice & Zest of 1/2 Lemon (washed)

1/2 Tsp Ground Ginger

1 Tbsp Cacao Nibs*

Pinch of Pink Himalayan Salt

2 Tbsp Melted Cacao Butter*

Process all ingredients together until the mixture will stick together when pressed into a ball.

Make approximately 15/16 balls and place in tiny truffle cases.

****

Chocolate Dip:

1 x 44g The Raw Chocolate Company Ginger & Lemon Bar for melting + 1Tbsp Melted Cacao Butter 

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Break up the bar into squares and gently melt with the cacao butter in a bowl over a pan of hot, but not boiling, water, stirring until smooth. Set aside the pieces of ginger for decorating.

Dip the energy balls in the melted chocolate and cacao butter.

29397888_UnknownAllow the dipped energy balls to set a little before gently placing a small piece of crystallised ginger from the melted chocolate on top of each ball –  it is quite strong so if you prefer, use a raw mulberry instead.

It’s also been some time since we got jiggy in the kitchen! RecentlyI was sorting through old cd’s and rediscovered The Lemonheads, so here’s a video of them – not very good reproduction, but worth a revisit.

*The Raw Chocolate Company

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Carrot, Apple & Spice Cakes with Cashew Frosting

28330000_UnknownMade these when we discovered we were about to be invaded by littles for their first Easter egg hunt with us, and then later by strapping, ever-ravenous teenagers always on the prowl for something ‘tasty’ (which is code for sweet!) Giant-sized pan of pasta sauce was on the go at the same time. Chocolate nests were in the freezer, marzipan eggs still to be made.

I’ve never really been a cake fan, but I always loved carrot cake with cream cheese frosting on special occasions. Since becoming vegan, I’ve been on the lookout for a suitable replacement. I found and adapted a recipe for Raw Carrot Cake Bites with CoYo Frosting – So Moreish!  but although I don’t do much baking in the oven, I wanted a recipe we could present to visitors who were less familiar with my raw food lifestyle. I discovered the recipe that inspired these cakes on Sarah Bakes Gluten Free and they worked out so well I made a second batch for another upcoming family visit this week and put them in the freezer.

I altered some of the ingredients, swapping canola oil with coconut oil, coconut palm sugar for the brown and cane sugar and reduced the amount of maple syrup. I used a combination of the flours we had in the cupboards and had no idea if they would work, but they did. I think in the second batch, the chestnut flour was in the majority, but any combination would work. We replaced the vinegar with lemon juice.

I also made my own version of the frosting – I even gave up my precious bar of Raw Chocolate Company Vanoffe Dark Raw Chocolate to grate and sprinkle on top.

Everyone loved them, from the 2 year old via the über-critical teenagers, to the adults.

There are no eggs, butter or gluten in them.

All measurements are approximate, ingredients are organic where possible, the first batch made 12, the second made 14!

Ingredients

1 Cup SR Gluten-free Flour

 1/2 Cup Chestnut Flour

1/2 Cup Cornflour

1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon

1/2 Ground Ginger

1 Tsp Baking Powder

1/2 Tsp Baking Soda

Pinch of Salt

1/2 Cup Unsweetened Coconut Milk  (in the second batch we used rice milk and it worked fine)

1 Tbsp Lemon Juice

3/4 Cup Coconut Palm Sugar

1 Cup Finely Grated Carrots

1/3 Cup Coconut Oil

1/4 Cup Carrot Juice or Apple Juice

1/4 Cup Unsweetened Applesauce

1 Tbsp Pure Maple Syrup

1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Method

Prepare apple sauce and apple/carrot juice if making fresh. I got halfway through the recipe the first time before realising I needed apple sauce! I cooked a dessert apple in a little water or apple juice until soft and allowed it to cool.

Sift all flours, spices and salt together in a bowl.

In a separate large mixing bowl, add the lemon juice to the milk and stir well.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir before slowly mixing in the flours.

The mixture should pour like a batter.

Pour into cases.

Cook at 170C in a fan oven until a fine skewer/wooden toothpick comes out clean, about 15 – 17 minutes in our oven.

28329952_UnknownAllow to cool.

(These cases were a little big,  I used smaller ones for the second batch and the cakes filled them better, they also rose better.

I also decided to try silicone cases next time as the paper ones had a tendency to stick).

Prepare the frosting.

The measurements are very inexact as I just kept adding until the consistency was right.

I began with 4 very heaped tbsps of Coyo Live Plain Coconut Yogurt, 4 Tbsps finely ground Cashews (you could use ground almonds), 1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract and 1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup.

(You could use a little lemon or orange zest in place of the vanilla if you wanted a different flavouring).

Mix well until it’s firm but spreadable, you don’t want it to pour. Add more nuts if it’s too thin.

Spread onto the cooled cakes.

Grate some raw chocolate and sprinkle on top.

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The second batch looked better, they filled the smaller cases and had more frosting on them, but I forgot to take photos. Nevertheless, the Fairy Cake Queen in the family (my daughter-in-law) gave them the thumbs up, eating three just to be sure!

These kept well in an airtight container in the fridge and will also keep in the freezer – how long, I can’t say, ravenous teenagers and all that!

Copyright: Chris McGowan

 

 

Raw Vegan Fruit & Nut (or seed) Chocolate – not just for Easter!

28328736_UnknownIn my opinion, one can never have too many recipes for raw chocolate, so here is another easy version of the do-it-yourself kind. It is quite rich, you only need a small amount, so bear this in mind when giving it to young children. It contains minerals, protein, antioxidants and is dairy-free.

Probably best to do this alone: if young children are involved there will likely be none left to go in the freezer!

Homemade raw chocolate melts quicker than commercial chocolate so either make in advance, freeze, break into pieces and store in the freezer until a short while before you need it, then transfer to the fridge; or make it, freeze it, break it up, eat it and keep any leftovers (haha) in the fridge for later.

In this version, we used almond butter and sweet apricot kernels, but you can swap for tahini or other seed butter and either leave out the nuts and use seeds or cacao nibs for texture.

And remember, raw chocolate is not just for Easter 😉

INGREDIENTS

(organic where possible)

1/2 Cup Raw Cacao Butter*, melted in a bowl over hot (but not boiling water)

1/2 Cup Raw Cacao Powder*

1/4 Cup Maple Syrup

1/4 Cup Raw Unsweetened Almond, Cashew or Sweet Apricot Kernel Butter (no palm oil) (or seed butter if nutfree)

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/2 Cup Raw Chocolate Company Goldenberries or Goji Berries* (chopped) or other preferred berries (dried mulberries, apple juice-infused cranberries, raisins)

2 Tbsps chopped Almonds, Cashews, or Sweet Apricot Kernels (or seeds or cacao nibs*) (plus a little for sprinkling on top)

METHOD
Whisk together raw cacao powder, maple syrup, melted cacao butter, vanilla extract and nut butter. Stir in the berries and nuts.

Spread chocolate mixture onto lined, freezerproof tray, sprinkle with chopped nuts or seeds.

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Place in freezer for 30 minutes, then break up into bite-size pieces.

Best bit? Licking the spoon!

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See also

Fill Your Easter Basket with Home Made Vegan Raw Chocolate Eggs

Food Matters’ ‘One Minute Slice’ Raw Chocolate Protein Bars

Vegan Gluten-Free Raw Chocolate Love Hearts

+

Raw Treats – Recipes

for more homemade chocolate recipes

*The Raw Chocolate Company sell a Make Your Own Chocolate box which contains 2 each of Organic, Raw Cacao Powder, Cacao Butter and Coconut Palm Sugar.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

How to Make Vegan Raw Chocolate Love Hearts & Mini Eggs

img_3122A bit late in the day, but better late than never, I hope! These were made with ingredients I won in a recent Raw Chocolate Company giveaway. We’re looking forward to having another go and substituting some of the ingredients, meanwhile these happily passed the taste test: husband and gardener friend (here to prune trees and replace broken flags) demolished them and gave them their seal of approval. (Gardener took some home for his wife!)

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My prize:

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We began with a basic recipe by Eighty20Nutrition but halved the amount, changed the nuts and greatly reduced the amount since they were chopped – we didn’t need as many as the whole pistachios in the original recipe – we also added vanilla. I would have used almond butter instead of tahini but didn’t have enough. Next time.

We also thought we might use Goldenberries next time, they are a bit tart and very fruity. You could also try dried sour cherries or cranberries (I like them infused with apple juice).

For those of you who like to spice it up, you could add a little chilli powder.

So here’s how we did it – all organic where possible, measurements very approximate, substitute like for like where you wish.

Vegan & Gluten-Free.

Ingredients

120g Cacao Butter*

About 50g Sweet Apricot Kernels,* finely chopped but not ground (you could use almonds or any other nuts)

 1/4 Cup Cacao Powder*

75g Dried Mulberries*, lightly broken up if using small moulds (reserve 1/4 Cup whole ones for the end)

150g Tahini or Almond Butter

1/4 Tsp Organic Vanilla Extract

3/4 (three-quarters) Tbsp Maple Syrup

 Method

Place the tub of cacao butter in hot water until it starts melting (you can also use cacao butter buttons). Slide it out and break up until you have the amount you need, in this case, half a tub.

Place a Pyrex bowl over a pan of hot, but not boiling, water and slowly melt the cacao butter.

When completely melted, add the remaining ingredients except the reserved mulberries, stirring until mixed in.

Blend until smooth with a stick blender.

Fold in the remaining mulberries and if setting flat in a tray some larger pieces of nuts – pistachios work well.

img_3126Spoon into silicone moulds or into a baking tray and refrigerate for a couple of hours until set. Cut into slices if set in a tray.

(The moulds are inexpensive, we found ours on Amazon).

Best eaten from the fridge as home-made chocolate melts quicker than commercial chocolate.

They also keep in the freezer.

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We made 15 hearts and 20 mini egg halves, which have gone into the freezer for Easter.

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See also further raw chocolate recipes in these posts:

 Food Matters’ ‘One Minute Slice’ Raw Chocolate Protein Bars

This Valentine’s Day Scrooge is Spreading the Love!

Fill Your Easter Basket with Home Made Vegan Raw Chocolate Eggs

Raw Treats – Recipes

*The Raw Chocolate 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.

Ingredients

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

Method

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.

img_3095

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!

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

The Raw Chocolate 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

Spiced Fruity Raw Vegan Gluten-Free Christmas Pudding & Christmas Truffles

imageThis raw vegan Christmas pudding was inspired by a recipe on The Raw Chocolate Company blog, but it doesn’t seem to be there anymore so I can’t credit the original (though there is a more luxurious – cooked – recipe).

We made the raw one the previous Christmas, which turned out a little bit tart as we’d used golden berries and orange juice (they also made it orange!), so this time I have swapped them for raisins, apple-infused cranberries and fresh apple juice.

So long as you keep to the overrall amounts, you can use whatever dried fruit you like, depending how sweet or citrusy you prefer it.

This pudding is rich and contains no refined sugar.

Amounts are approximate and you can play around with the different spices, dried fruit and nuts.

It will keep in the fridge for a few days, but we made ours in advance and put it in the freezer. It turned out really well.

This time, we made two small ones with this mixture, a large one is too much if there’s only two of you. You only need a small slice.

You can eat it as it is or with some whipped coconut cream (add whatever ‘flavouring’ you like ;-)), cashew nut cream or coconut yogurt.

You might also like my recipe for Christmas Truffles which are great as a gift or if you want to img_2880freeze small treats rather than make a whole pudding.

For the mould, you can use a pudding bowl, a cereal bowl or in our case, a Tupperware bowl! I’m not fond of plastic, but sometimes there is no other option and as we wanted to freeze the pud, that’s what we used, 2 small plastic bowls with lids. You could line the bowl(s) with parchment to make them easier to remove, although we found they it came out of the plastic bowl quite easily.

*

Ingredients

1 Cup chopped Medjool Dates, pitted & chopped

1/2 Cup Goji Berries

1/2 Cup Dried Mulberries

1/2 Cup Apple juice-infused Cranberries

1/2 Cup Raisins

1 Cup Sweet Apricot Kernels /Almonds, or a mixture of them and Walnuts, all lightly chopped (we forgot to chop ours this time!)

1 Cup Raw Shelled Hemp Seeds

 2/3 Cup fresh Apple Juice

Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Allspice, Lemon and Orange Zest to taste

Method

 Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl and pour over the apple juice.

Stir well, cover and leave to soak. Give it a stir occasionally. We left ours an hour, if you want the nuts softer, leave it a bit longer.

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Turn the mix out into the food processor, add the spices and zest.

Pulse and stir until you get the consistency you want, depending on whether you want a smooth or coarse texture.

Taste-test to see if the balance of spices/zest is right.

When you’re satisfied, spoon the mix into the bowl(s), pressing down with the back of the spoon.

Place in the fridge to set.

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And Bob’s your uncle!

(I can’t show you a slice with all the trimmings as this was going straight back in the freezer).

Enjoy the video!

Copyright: Chris McGowan