Rose Pistachio Chocolate Bark

There is nothing more satisfying than taking a bite out of a chunk of chocolate, and indeed nothing more satisfying at all than knowing that that chocolate is made of only pure, natural, healthy ingredients than not only are not detrimental to your health, but are in fact beneficial to your health.

I usually make my chocolate truffle hearts when I want good old plain chocolate instead of brownies or cakes or cookies, but this time I thought, You know what, just shove the entire mixture into a silicone baking tray and let it set like that instead of putting it into individual moulds.

I love the combination of rose and pistachio, I think it must be something to do with my Moroccanness! so I decided to put a touch of rose water, just enough to taste it faintly on the tongue, but not enough to take away from the exquisiteness of the chocolate, and the pistachios give it a bit of crunch and a touch of savoury to mix in with the sweetness.

As you take a bite out of it, you will honestly feel like that girl in the Magnum adverts, how she looks when she takes a sensuous bite out of the (rubbish-filled) ice cream; it’s heavenly! And so easy to make my son could probably do it…

So I invite you all to join in the raw chocolate revolution! 🙂

Ingredients

5 tbsp coconut oil
5 tbsp raw cacao powder
2-3 tbsp maple syrup (depending on your preference of sweetness)
2 tbsp cashew butter

Optional fillings:
1/2 tsp rose water
Small handful pistachios, crushed roughly
Small handful coconut chips

Method

Simply put all the chocolate ingredients (not the fillings) into a saucepan and melt gently over a low heat, stirring often. Add the rose water if desired.

Once it’s melted, pour it into a baking paper-lined silicone baking tray and sprinkle the fillings into it.

Put it in the fridge to set for a couple of hours then cut or break into chunks.

Devour!

Love & health,
Lauren

Puffed Rice Rocky Road Brownies

I wanted to make some yummy treats for my friend who has just had a baby, because breastfeeding mamas need fuel (and chocolate!) and I decided to try and make a healthier version of Rocky Roads.

Daniel used to make the yummiest Rocky Roads whenever we had people over back in the days when we were young and child-free and still ate refined sugar. He’d melt together every chocolate bar you can imagine, with nuts and marshmallows and freeze it and it was amazing.

But this is more amazing. Really, I’m not just saying that. It’s more amazing because your body is going to thank you after eating them, not hate you. You can give them to your children and not feel bad, and the ingredients are all natural, plant-based and high in protein and nutrients.

Give them a go – you just make and freeze!

Ingredients

1/2 cup cacao butter
1 cup organic rolled oats
1/2 cup pecans
About 18 medjool dates
2 generous tbsp. cashew butter (or any nut butter but cashew is creamier)
5 tbsp. maple syrup
5 tbsp. raw cacao powder
Half cup puffed brown rice (I use Rude Health)
Pinch of Himalayan salt

Method

Melt the cacao butter in a saucepan gently over a low heat.

Put the oats and pecans into a food processor and blitz until they make a meal. Add the dates, nut butter, maple, cacao and melted cacao butter and add a pinch of salt. Blitz to form a sticky mix.

Pour into a bowl and stir in the puffed rice.

Line a square silicone baking tray with baking paper and smooth the mixture into in and smooth down with your hands or a spatula. Make sure it’s in tight.

Leave in the freezer for an hour then cut into cubes and store in the freezer or fridge in a container.

Love & health,
Lauren

Mung Daal (Moong Dahl)

I got tips for this recipe from a few Indian friends (everyone seems to make it slightly differently), then put my own stance on it, but only a little bit because why change something that works? So thanks to Deepa, Roshni and Abigail!

Mung beans have been part of traditional Ayurvedic diets for thousands of years and are used for their amazing nutritional values.

Not only are they absolutely packed full of nutrients (manganese, potassium, magnesium, folate, copper, zinc and various B vitamins), they are also very high in protein (a great option for a vegetarian diet) and fibre, and are a great anti-inflammatory food. When cooked with turmeric it is the perfect anti-inflammatory meal. They’re also great anti-oxidants.

One of the main reasons I made it this week is because more than anything, mung beans help digestion and after coming back from holiday and eating way too much, I needed something nutritious that aided digestion and was also filling and wholesome enough as a meal for Braxton.

It sounds like a lot of ingredients but just get all the spices out in front of you and add one by one. Just gives it the best flavour to have all the spices.

It’s such a delicious, wholesome, comforting meal and easy to make, which helps!

Ingredients – (NB: make sure to soak the beans at least overnight. You can soak them for days, changing the water each day.)

3/4 cup mung beans / moong beans
1 tsp turmeric
Choice of vegetables. I used: okra, baby corn, carrots, onion, courgette, sweet potato (could also add beetroot, pumpkin, peas, broccoli, green beans)
1 tbsp coconut oil (you can also use Ghee if not dairy free)
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 garlic cloves, crushed (optional)
1 inch ginger, crushed
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp saffron
1/2 tsp cumin
Black pepper and Himalayan salt to taste
Handful fresh coriander

Optional spices – use what you fancy:
Cardamom, chilli, hing, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, bay leaf

Method

Once the beans have soaked for long enough, cook them. If you have a pressure cooker use this, if not, cover with boiling water, turn down the heat and put on a lid, stirring often and adding more water if needed.

Add the turmeric to the beans as they cook.

Once 3/4 cooked, add all the vegetables and continue to cook.

Once nearly ready, get a small frying pan and heat the coconut oil (and add ghee if using). Turn down the heat and add the cumin seeds and stir continuously. Once cooked, turn off the heat and immediately add the garlic, ginger and the rest of the spices except for the salt and pepper and stir. If the heat disappears too much, turn it back on to a low heat then turn off again. You don’t want the spices to burn or the garlic to brown too much.

Once cooked, add this mix to the bean mix and stir, and add salt to taste, then stir in the coriander and serve with fresh coriander and brown rice..

Love & health,
Lauren

Blueberry Banana Bread

I had a heap of blueberries in my fridge and some ripe bananas so I thought I’d use my classic banana bread recipe and add blueberries. If you want a more chocolatey version, see here. This one is so light and fluffy and yummy and of course gluten, dairy, sugar and egg free ❤

Ingredients

3 large very ripe bananas, mashed (if they are small, use 4)
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 heaped tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp flax seeds
3 tbsp filtered water
1 cup buckwheat flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
Handful blueberries

Method

Preheat the oven to 180° and line a loaf tin with baking paper and grease with coconut oil.

Mix the flax seeds in a small bowl with the water and set aside so it can set. (this is a flax ‘egg’ and used instead of eggs.)

Mash the bananas in a large bowl and add the coconut oil and maple, then add the flax mix and mix well.

Now add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.

Mix in the blueberries gently and spoon into the prepared cake tin.

Put it in the oven for around 25–30 minutes, or until a fork comes out clean. My oven tends to cook things much quicker than most so it’s been a bit of a learning curve, your oven may need more time.

Leave on a wire rack to cool then turn out of the loaf tin onto a plate.

Delicious served with peanut or almond butter!

Love and health,
Lauren

By Removing Sugary Drinks From Hospital Shops We Are Simply Masking A Bigger Problem

Here they are again, this government of ours, rambling on about increasing tax on sugary drinks and removing them from hospital shops. Don’t they realise they’ve missed the point?

When Jamie Oliver set about to change our diets for the better, he started in schools. Why? Because quite frankly, it’s no good aiming this information at sixty-year-olds who have created lifetime habits and most likely won’t want to change them.

If there are parents out there still giving their children Fruit Shoots and other (for lack of a better word) ‘drinks’ filled with sugar and artificial rubbish, despite the panoply of information so readily available, it is them we need to be targeting. Why are these parents still under the impression that these drinks are okay to give their children, even if it is just as a rare ‘treat’? Why are parents not waking up to the fact that if you give your child nothing but water from the offset, they will not want anything but water because we wouldn’t have created within them an unyielding addiction that leads to ‘cravings’ for sweet drinks to quench their thirst instead of water which they may then describe as ‘boring’? The human body can last up to three weeks without food, but water is a different story. Every living cell in the body needs it to function. It is essentially our life-source, so I’d say it’s anything but boring, and this is what we need to be teaching our children.

We can remove these drinks from hospital shops but the person in question can simply go and find the nearest shop or petrol station and buy their drink of choice there.

What we need to be doing is educating, on a mass level, the population of Britain about nutrition, by giving them a comprehensive understanding of nutrition and how the body responds to it, and not just by telling them to eat their five a day and cut out sugar. Because what happens when people become obsessed with one diet fad, such as removing sugar from the diet, is that they look for substitutes because they have not learnt about nutrition or the body; they have simply learnt what helps them lose weight, and at what price are we losing weight?

Weekly meet-up diet-plan groups that started popping up in the ‘80s and ‘90s are perhaps the worst thing that has happened to our collective health since cigarettes; most of them recommend substituting anything sugary with artificial sweeteners, chemicals that are (if we had to choose) worse for our health than refined sugar. The advice from these organisations to cut out fat and sugar is, in my opinion, one of the reasons that we are seeing a huge increase in early onset dementia. The brain needs fat. It cannot function or grow without it and many adults who began following this fat-free craze thirty-odd years ago are now in their middle ages being diagnosed with early onset dementia, among other things.

The ironic thing is that most of these ‘fat-free’ foods have increased amounts of sugar, which is a lot worse for the heart than healthy fats. A fruit flavoured yogurt, for example, contains about 12 grams of added sugar. This equates to eating a small cup of yogurt with a bowl of frosted corn flakes. We need to forget about all these fads, stop buying convenience food and eat fresh, whole foods that we (heaven forbid) prepare ourselves.

Studies on Aspartame (the sweetener used in Diet Coke) have shown a range of adverse effects, from nausea and dizziness to birth defects and multiple sclerosis. People substituting Coke with Diet Coke should not be under any illusion that this is better for anything other than their waistlines. MS is essentially nerve damage on the brain and the spinal cord, most likely caused by the immune system attacking the fatty myelin sheath around the brain. If we are reducing the one thing that the brain needs to function, and substituting it with a magnitude of toxins known to harm the immune system and the nervous system, we are essentially begging for multiple sclerosis.

What the government should actually be doing is making these drinks illegal, because they have a responsibility to us, the people, not to the pockets of the manufacturers and these drinks are in fact poisonous. These items need to be removed from our country altogether, and money needs to be put into education, at a grassroots level.

If midwives, ante-natal instructors and even general practitioners, most of whom have not had sufficient training in nutrition, were provided with the proper education, and this information was filtered down to new parents, we would see an entire new generation more healthy and health-conscious than ever before, and not just a generation obsessed with weight loss.

Nutrition classes could also be held in schools. Imagine the changes we would see in our society if all aspects of diet were taught to children, including reducing intake of refined sugars and not replacing them with artificial sweeteners or fat-free products, and encouraging people to understand that natural sugar like that found in fruit, in moderation—like everything—is healthy.

Despite the government’s miseducation, we are fortunate enough to live in an age where information is available wherever we are on the planet, at the touch of a button. We are hearing about the dangers of increased sugar consumption everywhere, so why are people choosing to give refined sugar to their children, especially when there are so many alternatives? There really is no excuse anymore to be shovelling this rubbish into our children.

However, the mass population will, as a general rule, do what they are told, therefore it is up to the government to take control when it comes to the health of our children and do a hell of a lot more than just removing sugary drinks from hospital shops.

 

To view this article on Huffington Post, click here

Guilt-Free Chocolate Digestive Biscuits

If you’re British, there is probably nothing more satisfying and comforting to you than a cup of tea and a chocolate digestive of an afternoon (had to say ‘of an afternoon’ instead of ‘in the afternoon’ because that’s how my nanny would have said it in that endearing East End way when talking about tea and biccies). 🍪 ☕️ So of course I wanted to make the healthy version so I can indulge my ultimate guilty pleasure. these are gluten, dairy, sugar and egg free.

I actually got this recipe from my lovely friend @mrshollingsworths. Her picture looks way better than mine because she’s more of an artist than I am with food but I’m happy to say they taste just as good! 😃 i also bake them for less time than she does – just a difference in ovens i guess.

I know food blogs and Instagram are all about the styling and the perfect pictures but guys, I have an 18 month old, a husband, a dog, arthritis to keep at bay with heaps of hard work, deadlines, and a novel to write! I can only spend so long re-arranging biscuits in the right light surrounded by random ribbons and hessian fabric before I have to give up and hope they’re good enough! So there you have it, my excuse for not having Instagram’s best pictures.

The truth is, I love making the food and feeding those I love. I love writing the recipes and the captions, but photography is not my passion so (in the voice of the dad from My Big Fat Greek Wedding) there you go! Hope you all enjoy this recipe anyway Happy baking, lovers!

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup oats
3/4 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup cashew butter (or any other nut or seed butter)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 tsp salt

Chocolate topping:
1/2 cup cacao butter
3 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp cacao powder
1 tbsp cashew butter

Method

Preheat the oven to 180c and line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.

Put all the ingredients for the biscuits In a bowl and mix really well.

Shape them into biscuits and flatten down on the trays and bake for 8-10 minutes. If they look a little soft it’s ok, they’ll continue to harden once they come out the oven so don’t leave them in for too long.

Take them out the oven and leave to cool.

Make the chocolate by melting all the ingredients in a saucepan over a low light.

Once the biscuits are cool, spoon the chocolate over the top of each one and put on a plate in the fridge to cool.

Love & health,
Lauren 💜

Bounty Bars – The Healthy Way

My mum always makes coconut pyramids for Passover which are yummy but of course they use sugar so I thought I’d whip these beauties up as an alternative Passover (and any other time) treat.

They are gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, egg free and vegan.

Ingredients

2 cups desiccated coconut
¼ cup ground almonds
½ cup coconut oil
The cream from the top of a can of full-fat coconut milk
¼ cup maple
1/4 tsp vanilla powder

Chocolate coating:
1/2 cup cacao powder
1/2 cup maple syrup
4 tbsp almond or cashew butter
1/2 cup coconut oil

Method

Melt the coconut oil then mix all the coconut ingredients in a bowl.

Line a baking tray (I use a square silicone one) with cling film, leaving enough hanging over the edges, then press the mixture into it. Remember, they need to be cut into fairly substantial bar sizes once set so keep the thickness and don’t fill the whole tray if it’s too big. Put this in the freezer for half an hour.

Make the chocolate coating while it’s in the freezer by melting all the ingredients in a saucepan over a gentle heat.

Take the coconut mix out the freezer and cut into bars, then dip them into the chocolate and place on a plate and put in the fridge to set for 30-60 minutes.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Love & health,
Lauren