Sweet and salty peanut butter ice cream shell

Hands up if you love ice cream!

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If like me you love the stuff then I think you will also love this sweet and salty peanut butter sauce. It goes really well with my current favourite – Alpro Hazelnut and Chocolate “ice cream” – which is dairy free, low in sugar and it does not disappoint. Anyone out there who can’t have dairy or chooses not to then you’ve gotta try it…it’s so creamy, I don’t know how they do it but it’s delicious.

I’ve got to admit… when I first made the recipe I hadn’t planned on it going solid when it cooled, I just wanted a little something extra that was as satisfying as toffee sauce but a healthier version! I’m really chuffed that it does though, it reminds me of when we were little getting ice cream from the lakes that was dipped in hot chocolate sauce which were always so good!

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Anyway whether you have it drizzled over porridge or a stack of pancakes it’s equally as nice but I just love how when you pour this sauce over ice cream, it hardens and forms a shell, ready to be cracked open!

This recipe can be whipped up in less than 5 minutes, so whilst you are waiting for your ice cream to soften a little you can make a quick batch of sauce. Its so good you’ll end up eating it out of the pan before it even makes it near your dessert bowl, did I mention that it’s completely vegan too…

Give it a try next time you have a cosy night in and let me know what you think!

Ingredients

Serves 2

Method

You can make this in a little saucepan or in a bowl in the microwave.

Heat the coconut oil over a medium heat until melted, add in the rest of the ingredients, stir well and serve!

The sauce is ideal for freezing too, just reheat in the microwave when you are ready to eat!

3 Ingredient Hazelnut Truffles

If you’ve never roasted hazelnuts at home, it’s something you need to put on your to do list this weekend because they taste so damn good and smell divine!

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I’ve made these a couple of times now and each time I have planned on them lasting all week so that I can have a little something sweet either at work or after dinner but so far they have lasted 2 days tops. And it’s not just me that loves them, everyone who has tried them (children too) have given two sticky, chocolatey thumbs up and can’t believe that they are good for you!

They are really easy to do and super fun to make, so if you have kids they are a winner!

Like I said, you can have them for a snack any time of day but I think they go really well with coffee at the end of a meal as they are rich and satisfying so you don’t need many.

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Hazelnuts are high in good fats, both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated and these can help to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

Fats are needed by the body for many reasons, one of which being that certain vitamins and minerals (such as A, K, D and E) are fat -soluble, so can only be absorbed and then used or stored through these types of fats. The raw cacao powder is a really high source of magnesium that is fantastic for your muscles and nervous system. It also raises serotonin levels in the body, making you feel calmer and happier…do you need anymore excuses to eat raw chocolate than that?!

The third ingredient is 100% natural maple syrup. Although is does contain sugar, it is a natural source so there are no additives or preservatives and it has been far less processed than white table sugar.
Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1 cup (150 g) hazelnuts
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup

Makes approximately 20 truffles

  1. Heat the oven to 180°c and roast the hazelnuts for 10 minutes on a baking tray, then remove from oven and allow to cool completely
  2. Put 20 Hazelnuts to one side and put the remaining nuts into a food processor
  3. If you want a really smooth paste you can rub the hazelnuts with some paper towel which will remove the dark skins before you blend them. Its a little time consuming but worth it.
  4. Blend until a fine crumb, then remove 2 tablespoons worth and place in a bowl (this will be used to coat the truffles at the end)
  5. Add the maple syrup and cacao powder to the processor and blend again for a few minutes until a smooth and creamy paste. If it’s sticking too much you can add water but do so a little at a time to prevent it becoming too runny
  6. Using a teaspoon take a small amount of the paste and encase a whole hazelnut and roll into a ball. If you don’t want to get messy you can use two teaspoons and roll the ball between them to round the truffle into a ball. Then place the truffle into the bowl with the crushed hazelnuts and roll around until evenly coated.
  7. Once all are done place into the freezer for half an hour to set. They can be kept in the freezer or in a airtight container in the fridge

 

 

Salted Caramel Easter Eggs

Happy Easter everyone! I hope you are all having a lovely long weekend 😊

I  couldn’t resist doing a healthy option for those that want to enjoy a little chocolate over the holiday but without all of the refined sugars, additives and preservatives that your typical easter egg contains. When you are trying to follow a healthier lifestyle it can be difficult to avoid days like today when unhealthy food is all around you but it you are able to, I’m sure you will take great pleasure in taking naughty treats and turning them into healthy alternatives! This way you don’t feel deprived and you can feel good about what you are eating too!

eggs

I’ve taken my original recipe for my  chocolate freezer treats and adapted it slightly and now these eggs won’t melt if left out at room temperature plus I’ve filled them with yummy salted caramel!

For the Chocolate:

  1. Cacao powder 80g
  2. Cacao butter 100g
  3. Maple syrup 4 tbsp
  4. Coconut oil 1 tbsp
  5. Ground cinnamon 1 tsp
  6. Vanilla extract 1 tsp

For the Salted Caramel:

  1. Tahini 1 tbsp
  2. Vanilla extract 1 tsp
  3. Maple Syrup 3tbsp or date syrup works really well too
  4. A good pinch of himalayan rock salt
  • Melt the cacao butter, coconut oil and maple syrup in a glass bowl over a pan a quarter full with water over a medium heat- make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the glass bowl.
  • Once melted, add the cinnamon and vanilla extract and then slowly add the cacao powder a bit at a time whilst whisking so that it ends up nice and glossy.
  • Fill the moulds you have half way, if you don’t have any chocolate moulds you can use an ice cube tray…but it might not give the same effect for easter!
  • Pop these into the freezer for 20 minutes until they have hardened. Whilst you are waiting, mix together the caramel ingredients and sweeten to taste with extra maple syrup if necessary.
  • After 20 minutes take out the chocolate’s which should now be firm to touch and using a teaspoon put a little blob of caramel into the middle of each one. Then put back into the freezer for another 20 minutes.
  • Finally once this has set, cover the caramel in the remaining chocolate and leave to set in the freezer.

Tahini isn’t for everyone and if you don’t have it in or aren’t a fan, not to worry, I’ve provided another way to make the caramel using dates instead. If you are trying to reduce your sugar intake then I would go for the tahini option but either way they are both completely natural!

Follow the above steps but when it comes to making the caramel use this method:

  1. Cover a handful of dates in some warm water and soak for 5 minutes.
  2. Once soft, drain as much of the water as you can and place into a food processor with the 1tsp vanilla extract and the salt.
  3. Blend until smooth, you may need to get a spatula and scrape the sides down a few times and if it still isn’t to your desired consistency strain the caramel through a sieve to make it nice and smooth.

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Go on, give them a try and make the easter bunny jealous! 🐰

Maple, Pecan & Almond Granola

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For some strange reason, despite loving all things breakfast I have waited until now to make homemade granola. I literally have no idea why as every time I’ve looked up recipe ideas people always say how easy it is and that it makes you never want to get shop bought granola again… they weren’t lying!

This granola makes your home smell incredible and it tastes delicious… you could have this plain and simple with milk or layered between yoghurt and fresh fruit for a breakfast parfait.

Granola doesn’t necessarily shout ‘healthy’ to some, as those who usually get the shop bought kind know it contains very  high levels of sugar, sometimes even chocolate chips! However this granola  contains all of the main food components and only natural sugars…

Carbohydrates  Carbohydrates are one of food groups our body produces energy from but complex carbohydrates such as oats take a while for your body to breakdown meaning you stay fuller for a lot longer and you don’t have a sudden spike of insulin in your blood.
Protein You can use any nuts you like for this recipe but as almonds and pecans are some of my favourites I decided to use them. They are a great form of plant-based protein that fuels your body throughout the day, helping your muscles to grow and repair.
Fibre Granola as a whole is full of fibre and this makes it the ideal thing to eat for breakfast as it kick-starts your digestive system ready for the day, ensuring that everything is running smoothly. It reduces the amount of time food is travelling through your colon too which can help prevent harmful bacteria growing and leading to more serious health issues.
Vitamins/Minerals Seeds of all varieties are such an easy way of getting essential vitamins and minerals into your body. Pumpkin seeds are especially good for you as they contain Zinc, which is a real immune booster, helping to prevent disease.
Fat Coconut oil is high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and is made up of medium-chain fatty acids. This makes it easier for the body to absorb and convert into energy rather than storing as fat! Great for your heart, lowering your bad cholesterol levels and also your skin, hair and teeth too!

In spite of all the goodness these cripsy little clusters give you, I would make them just for the smell alone! I spent most of yesterday opening the jar and just smelling the comforting cinnamon and maple! Honestly its so easy to make and the taste is so amazing, much more flavoursome and with homemade you know exactly whats gone into it.

5 minutes to make and 30 minutes in the oven.

Fills a 2 litre jar!

  • Coconut oil – 2 tbsp
  • Natural Maple Syrup -150ml
  • Natural Vanilla Extract – 1tsp
  • Oats – 250g
  • Cinnamon – 2tsp
  • Desiccated Coconut – 50g
  • Mixture of Almonds/Pecans – 150g 
  • Mixed seeds – 100g (I used pumpkin and sunflower)
  1. Heat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
  3. Melt the coconut oil using a microwave and then mix this with the maple syrup and vanilla extract in a small bowl.
  4. Chop the nuts to your desired consistency, I put some into the food processor and pulsed a few times so that some were halved and others were more crumbly – this is optional though.
  5. Combine all the dry ingredients (oats, nuts, seeds, desiccated coconut, cinnamon) in a large bowl.
  6. Pour the wet ingredients into the large bowl with the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly until all the oats, nuts and seeds are completely coated.
  7. Half the mixture between the two baking sheets, spreading evenly and then pop into the oven.
  8. After 15 minutes take out and give them a good stir and switch the trays round so that they have the same amount of time on the higher shelf.
  9. Pop back in for another 15 minutes or until they are a nice golden brown.
  10. Once done leave out to cool, (enjoy that amazing smell!) then put into an airtight jar.

This recipe is dairy free, suitable for vegans and is completely natural. If you are celiac you could use gluten free oats for this and you can alter the above with your favourite nuts/seeds. You could also add dried fruit after it’s cooled too for a sweeter spoonful… enjoy!

My Top 3 Natural Sweeteners

Following on from last weeks post I thought I would dedicate some time to my favourite natural sweeteners as it’s one of the areas of nutrition that I find most interesting and I love creating sweet treats in a healthy natural way! I also wanted to give a few home truths on a popular sweetener which is very trendy but isn’t all that good for you.

 
Honey

It may seem like an obvious choice but honey is just so good for you. It’s been used as a medicinal treatment for thousands of years  and is said to be beneficial for those who have allergies such as hay-fever as it contains traces of local pollen that helps you to build up a natural immunity. Taking a spoonful of honey with a piece of honeycomb in every day for two weeks can massively reduce the symptoms of hay-fever – I will definitely be trying this out next spring!

I love to use honey as a sweetener in hot drinks and its great in a stir-fry or drizzled over vegetables such as butternut squash or parsnips before roasting in the oven.

  • Antibacterial – Honey is my absolute go-to when I’m feeling under the weather and is brilliant for sore throats and colds. Drizzle a teaspoon into some hot water with a slice of lemon and fresh ginger and it will help draw out the moisture and reduce inflammation in your throat. It’s very soothing on an upset stomach too, fighting against harmful bacteria in the gut.
  • Antiseptic – Not only is it good for your insides, honey can be applied topically as an antiseptic on wounds and sores and has even been used on burns to speed up the healing process.
  • Antioxidant – we need antioxidants from our food to keep our whole bodies healthy and honey is an excellent source! Preventing damage to our cells helps our immune system and reduces the risk of many cancers.
Maple Syrup

This is probably my favourite natural sweetener as it’s great to bake with and gives a wonderful flavour without being overpowering. I love mixing it into raw cacao and melted coconut oil to make healthy chocolates and it’s delicious in porridge too!

Maple syrup has a low GI (Glycaemic Index) which means it takes longer  to have an affect on your blood sugar levels than other sugars. Meaning that you won’t crash shortly after consuming it, which can lead to mood swings, feeling lethargic, headaches and worst of all…craving even more sugar! It’s such an easy and negative cycle to get into, so it’s best to stick to natural unrefined sugars, in doing so there are no additives/preservatives or nasty chemicals in there which can lead to obesity, heart disease and diabetes to name a few!

Among many health benefits, maple syrup contains Phytochemicals which are compounds that are found in plants that fight against disease such as inflammation to ensure your cells can regenerate and stay healthy.

Date Syrup

Date syrup is extremely popular in the middle east and is used for sweet and savoury dishes. So far I have only used it in sweet dishes such as overnight oats or when I’m baking but I hope to try it out in a tagine soon!

Dates are a staple part of my day to day diet and I always have them available as a snack or if I want to satisfy my sweet tooth, I use them as a sticky sweet base for my wellness bars! They are full of fibre which is important for your digestive system by keeping things regular and they increase the growth of healthy bacteria in your stomach. Dates contain high levels of potassium which is needed for a healthy heart and is particularly beneficial for to those who have high blood pressure and they can help reduce the risk of stroke. Being high in Iron and antioxidants known as Tannins helps the clotting of blood and contributes towards a generally healthy cardiovascular system.

I’ve only recently discovered date syrup in my local health food shop and you can buy it online too but If you are struggling to find it, it’s super easy to make your own! I like to soak some dates in warm water until they soften and then blitz in the food processor until it forms a smooth runny sauce.

Now for the not so good stuff…

Agave Syrup has been promoted as a healthy alternative to chemical laden, artificial table sugar as it derives from the agave plant or cacti, the same one used for making tequila!

When you look a little closer, it appears that the sap is so heavily refined that it’s just as bad for you as high fructose corn syrup and any nutrients and anti-oxidant’s that could be beneficial to your health will be potentially lost completely within the refining process! Agave is considered a low GI sweetener due to the low levels of glucose which is why it’s often advertised as suitable for diabetics, however it’s extremely high in fructose (even higher than regular sugar!) which can only be broken down in the liver. Consuming high levels of this will result in your body storing it as fat around the liver and stomach which can develop over time into fatty-liver disease, weight gain and high cholesterol.

Sugar is a tricky thing as too much of any kind can be harmful but by switching to natural sugars you can reduce those risks and nourish your body with nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants whilst enjoying sweet treats in moderation.

 

 

 

 

 

chocolate freezer treats

Healthy eating and chocolate rarely find themselves within the same sentence but I’m telling you it can be done! I would say the thing that most people struggle with when they change their eating habits is cutting out the sweet stuff and having a sweet tooth myself I know your pain. But depriving yourself is never the right answer and knowing you can’t have something makes you suddenly want it so much more!

Despite there being so many “low fat” and “99 calorie” sweet treats available on the shelves they are pumped full of sugar to make them taste good so I wanted to be able to make sweet treats that contain natural ingredients that I can read and understand without scrimping on quality.

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And then I found cacao ️❤

I can cut out crisps, cakes, sweets and biscuits  no problem but chocolate is my real downfall and is something I always crave so by using raw cacao powder I realised you can make amazing desserts, chocolates and sauces that are completely natural and guilt free and the best bit is that it’s actually so so good for you!

Cacao is highly potent in magnesium which enables the body to absorb energy from foods and is a key component in our metabolism, in particular keeping our bones strong and reducing inflammation. Due to it’s affects on energy, not having enough magnesium in your diet can leave you feeling achy and fatigued.

Being full of antioxidants, cacao is amazing for your skin and your body as a whole as it neutralises harmful “free radicals” that can damage cells and cause many forms of disease and ageing.

Free Radicals – sound’s like crazy little men with spiky hair do’s running around your body kicking things and generally being up to no good. In reality that’s kinda true! They are groups of atoms that can arise naturally or can be absorbed through food, sun exposure, smoking etc and when they react to oxygen this can lead to a disruption in their growth causing them to become out of control and have a negative impact on healthy cells.

It also helps regulate blood sugar levels which really helps combat that 3pm slump when you feel like you need a chocolate biccy with your brew.

Raw cacao powder can go into smoothies, porridge, overnight oats, deserts, chocolate sauces, brownies, you name it. Unlike cocoa powder, cacao has not had any refined sugars added to it and is unprocessed – tasting like very dark chocolate. So when using this you will most likely need to add a natural sweetener such as maple syrup, honey, agave etc.

To make my healthy homemade freezer chocolates you will need:

  • natural maple syrup 1-2 tbsp
  • coconut oil – 2 TBSP
  • raw cacao powder -2-3 TBSP

(all of the above ingredients can be found in health food stores, online and in some supermarkets, you don’t have to spend a lot but it’s worth spending the extra on cacao as it will last you, and is very versatile)

Melt coconut oil in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl.

Once melted, remove from heat, add cacao powder and maple syrup to taste until mixed thoroughly and forms a runny sauce.

Pour the sauce into ice cube trays (or if you are super fancy like me, a pretty chocolate mould from the pound shop!) put into the freezer for an hour until set.

If you are a lover of nut butters, you can fill the moulds half way and put into the freezer..once set put a small dollop of nut butter in the middle and then top with the remaining melted cacao. As you can see sometimes it will ooze out of the sides but it just adds to the delicious gooeyness…it’s a definite winner!

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You can keep them in the freezer for easily a month and they are a perfect go to if you want a little something sweet at night. You could add some dried fruit or nuts to these to change the texture or add different flavours such as vanilla or cinnamon too.

The above could also be used as a chocolate sauce over some healthy pancakes, frozen yoghurt or fresh strawberries 🍓

Guilt free, homemade chocolate that is good for you, need I say more?!