Super boosted White Chocolate

Super boosted White Chocolate

A (good) few week’s ago I got sent a lovely box of goodies to try from the superfood company Iswari. The company has it’s head quarters in Kinsale, Co. Cork, not a million miles away from where I live. Teaming up with a company that offers great quality products, sustainable ethos and is based locally kinda feels like a no-brainer. So I’m happy to give you all a delicious recipe made with their raw cacao butter.

If you have never come across cacao butter before, you may be unsure how to use it. Cacao butter is the fat from the cacao bean. It is separated from the cacao liquor and drained away, only to be added back in at a later stage of chocolate-making. What’s left after this process is then grounded into the cacao powder we know

Cacao butter is a fat which is solid at room temperature but melts quiet easily at body temperature, around 34°C. In fact it’s often used in skin and beauty products and with a few simple moderations to this recipe you can make a nice skin moisturiser! Cacao butter, even without the cacao powder has a lovely chocolate aroma.

Even though most of the health boosting properties from chocolate is found in the cacao powder the white solid fat is always added back in later in the chocolate-making process and whether you are making your own chocolate or buying it you want to use cacao butter (or make sure whatever you’r buying has a high cacao butter content) It’s the cacao butter which help make the chocolate creamy and gives it that snappy consistency.

 

white dairy free chocolate

I went for a different kind of chocolate treat here though. For some people the caffeine content of chocolate can make them feel all jittery and not all that awesome. (Luckily I’m not one of them) So a white variety without the cacao powder, may be better suited. Commercial white chocolate is made by adding milk solids, soy lecithin, refined sugar and vanilla and is usually not all that great for you.

Here I’ve paired the raw cacao butter from Iswari with some pure creamed coconut. You can buy creamed coconut in most Asian store for a reasonable price. It comes in a solid block (at room temperature) and is basically pressed coconut meat and nothing else. The beauty of using creamed coconut instead of coconut oil is that the creamed coconut still contains all the fibre from the coconut meat + all the lovely health benefits from the coconut oil.

So what you end up with here is a naturally dairy free white chocolate, not overly sweet and boosted with some super foods.

I added some bee pollen, freeze dried berries and some black sesame seeds, both to boost the nutritional value and to increase the aesthetic appeal. Because I feel we eat as much with out eyes as we do with our other senses.

A short note of Bee Pollen. It comes from the male germ cell of flowering plants. After the bee has pollinated the female flowers, the remainder of the male pollen is collected and brought back to the hive. Back at the hive the bees add enzymes and nectar to the pollen. These lovely tiny golden nuggets are often referred to as “nature’s most perfect food” as they contain all of the 8 essential amino acids we need for survival. Bee pollen also provides B-vitamins, vitamin C, carotenes and mineral. (Source: The Encyclopaedia of Healing Foods)

Add some of these little gems on top of your smoothie or as here in your wholefood’s treat for a true super food boost. And bring out your inner artist!

 

superboosted white chocolate

This white chocolate recipe is really easy to make and takes literally no time at all.

Super boosted White Chocolate (dairy free)

Makes about 30 generous pieces

50g raw Iswari cacao butter

200g creamed coconut 

1-2 tbsp pure maple syrup

1/2 tsp pure vanilla powder

Toppings:

1 tbsp bee pollen

1 tbsp freeze dried raspberries or blackberries – optional

1 tbsp black sesame seeds – optional

 

Roughly chop the creamed coconut. Place the coconut and the cacao butter in a bowl over a sauce pan with simmering water. Gently melt the coconut and cacao butter while stirring until you have smooth paste. 

Remove from heat. Add the maple syrup and vanilla powder. Continue to stir until the maple syrup and vanilla is fully integrated with the chocolate mix.

Pour the mix out on a small tray lined with parchment paper. Let it cool a little before you add the toppings but don’t allow it to fully set. You want your toppings to sink into the chocolate. Finally allow the chocolate to completely set in the fridge before cutting it into squares. 

Store your chocolate in the fridge as it melt in warmer temperatures. Enjoy 🙂 

 

dairyfree homemade white chocolate

 

A big thank you to Iswari for allowing me to play with some lovely ingredients! I also tried out this lovely breakfast option and if you are looking for something to take with you on your summer travels / festivals / sporting adventures this is a nice one for sure.

Find out more about Iswari on FB and on Twitter

 

*This is a sponsored post. No money was received and all opinions are completely my own.

Salt n´Pepper Oat Biscuits

Salt n´Pepper Oat Biscuits

If you have been hanging out here for awhile, then you know by know how much I like sweet things. Sometimes I even consider changing this site to one for desserts, biscuits, cakes and stuff… Yes seriously. But I suppose, as great as that may be, I mean I would get to eat ALL those cookies/cakes/treats (!), it isn’t what I really want Straightforward Nutrition to be all about.

Of course having something sweet, once in awhile, is a sure-fire way to feel amazing, yet have too much and it loses its appeal. Back to that elusive balance again…

A few weeks ago my pre ordered copy of My New Root’s  AMAZING book. Seriously some people are just geniuses when it comes to food! I love Sarah B’s approach to food and health. Keep it simple, seasonal and delicious. And it’s all about using the best ingredients available. Because when you do, everything will taste delicious.

I’ve already eyed up a couple of things to try. Next, just to find the time to cook through it. Because the book is laid out in seasons rather than breakfast /lunch / dinner / snacks etc. you have to read it from cover to cover to be able fully absorb it all. Once you have that done, then she makes it seriously easy to get into the swing of cooking by season. Which is what we all should be doing really.

Seasonal cooking may seem like a challenge at first but as soon as you step out of your comfort zone and begin to think outside the box, it isn’t that difficult really. And what you find is that seasonal food just taste a million times better! You know this already. Strawberries in December anyone? (Unless you’re in the Southern Hemisphere of course…)

 

oat biscuits

 

I don’t know if these Salt n’ Pepper Oat Biscuits (cookies for you U.S. peeps) qualifies as seasonal cooking. I like biscuits all year round… However this was the recipe from the book that spoke to me first.

I’ve been wanting to make a “healthy” biscuit for a very long time now. A biscuit, with superior ingredients and one with a spectacular crunch! Not the chewy kind… I particularly love crunchy, crumbly biscuits. However most of my own healthy cookie creating attempts, until now, have been futile. Chewy, yes. Crunchy, no.

This biscuit hits the spot. Sarah B’s genial combination of sea salt, coconut sugar and the addition of black pepper gives you an incredible taste experience. Best of all, they are made from straight up ground oats.

To be honest, I haven’t actually tried the original recipe yet… My version is heavily inspired by the recipe in the book but I decided to try it with ghee rather than coconut oil. So these guys are a little different. If you don’t have ghee, you can use normal unsalted butter. Or try the original coconut oil version. The original recipe also calls for chocolate chunks, but since I didn’t have any and they turned out delicious anyway, I’ve left it out.

I’m sure you can find other ways to enjoy that chocolate… 😉

Salt’n Pepper Oat Biscuits

Makes about 15 biscuits / cookies

80 ml melted ghee – or butter or coconut oil

2 heaped tbsp rice syrup

2 tbsp water

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 1/2 cup rolled oats, ground into flour

1/3 cup coconut sugar – alternative would be rapadura sugar or light muscovado sugar

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

Set the oven to 170 C. Grind the rolled oats in to flour using a decent blender. ( I use my Nutri-bullet) Mix the dry ingredient in a large bowl.

In a small sauce pan, melt the ghee. Then add the brown rice syrup and the vanilla extract. Stir until you have an even mixture. Add your ghee / syrup / vanilla mix to the dry ingredients and mix with a large wooden spoon until you have a wet dough. ( Try to refrain yourself from eating too much of this…)

Spoon out blobs of dough onto a lined baking tray. Aim for one heaped spoon of mixture for each cookie. Gently shape the mix into small patties. Bake in the pre heated oven for about 20 min, or until golden around the edges.

Allow the cookies to cool slightly on a the tray before moving to a wire rack to allow to cool completely.

Store your cookies in an airtight container. I really have no idea how long they will keep as mine where gone in three days… A qualified guess? A week.

(Recipe inspired by My New Roots Cookbook – Inspired plant based recipes for every season)

 

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Sunny Buckwheat & Orange Smoothie – by Cashew Kitchen

Sunny Buckwheat & Orange Smoothie – by Cashew Kitchen

I’m so delighted to have the opportunity to share this beautiful immune boosting and vibrant smoothie recipe. Just what is needed as we slowly transition into the next season. I’m sure we can all do with a little more colour and sunshine in our lives. And if the Sun prevails, you just have to get a little more inventive in the kitchen instead.

This week I have invited the beautifully talented lady Agnes who blogs about food and stuff over on Cashew-Kitchen. If you are not following Agnes on Instagram or reading her blog, you should. It’s worth it for the photos alone 🙂

But I’ll let you Agnes tell you all a little more about herself.

Hi Agnes! Can you tell us something about yourself and your work? Cashew-Kitchen

Sure! My name is Agnes and I live in a small apartment in central Stockholm (Sweden) which is also my hometown. I recently moved back here after spending a couple of years on the west coast studying. Since september last year I’m running the food & photography blog Cashew Kitchen, although I’ve been food blogging since the spring of 2013. I also do some photography and recipe development on a freelancing basis. But my main occupation is my studies in Human Ecology in which I’m currently writing my bachelor thesis. I started my studies in Human Ecology and my food blogging about the same time, so initially it was an interest in sustainable food and lifestyles that pushed me. I’ve been hanging out in the kitchen experimenting since I first became a vegetarian  when I was 14, so the interest in wholesome, nourshing food has always been there I guess, I just never thought about blogging about it before 🙂

I have a background in Fine Arts, so when starting blogging about food I quickly noticed that working with the aesthetic aspects came pretty natural to me. Using colorful ingredients and spending a lot of effort on the styling and photography is very important to me, so when I launched Cashew Kitchen I simply decided to call it ”a foodie photography blog”. Although the sustainable aspects are still there: I only post vegetarian recipes and I mostly use seasonal, whole and organic ingredients.

No wonder you can great the most magical of images!

I’m curious about that education of your: what is Human Ecology? And how do you wish to use that education in the future?

Well, you could say it is environmental science from a social sciences’ perspective. In Human Ecology we study the relationship between social, ecological and economic factors and how those interact with for example issues of power, resource management, poverty, urban development, climate change, population growth and social dynamics. It’s everything from city planning and food production to eco philosophy or complex adaptive systems.

In my thesis I study possibilities and limitations for citizen participation and co-management in city planning to help build social resilience in society. When I decided on the topic I think I was a bit tired of food haha. It was in the aftermath of the Swedish election and the increased social unstability we see here in Sweden (and out in the world too) worried me. In the future I want to work with sustainable food in some way. It could be inspiring people to make sustainable food choices, which I kind of already do through my blog (I hope!) hehe. It could also be working for a food or agriculture company with sustainable development issues. The possibilities are endless, really! I just know my passion is food, happy people and a healthy planet 🙂

How would you describe your food philosophy?

I want it to be simple! My aim is to inspire as many people as I can to incorporate more vegetarian or vegan food into their diets and cook more from scratch using seasonal ingredients, and thereby bringing us one step closer to living environmentally friendly lifestyles. Therefore I don’t believe in using too many obscure and expensive ingredients, or create difficult or fancy recipes. My recipes often consist of just a few, simple ingredients and are usually quick to assemble. I want to show that it can be both wholesome, fun and easy to eat seasonal and vegetarian. Also fresh produce or a lovingly cooked meal can really make my heart melt! It’s everything I need to be happy. That simplicity and appreciation of food is something I want to share with others.

Couldn’t agree with you more.

How did you come up with the name Cashew Kitchen?

Um, I was just playing around with different names that sounded ”catchy” haha. I always have cashew nuts at home and love to use them in raw desserts, granola, smoothies etc. so it felt suitable with a name steaming from one of my favorite ingredients 🙂

How does your process from idea to finished recipe and blog post look like?

Sometimes a get an idea from surfing around the food blogosphere or pinterest that I write down on my little list. It can be anything really that triggers the idea to a recipe – a combination of colors, a long forgotten ingredient, a memory. But more often I find myself standing in front of an half empty fridge trying to think of something I can make out of the little I have. Honestly that’s where the best recipes come from! If I just happened to create something utterly delicious I try to photograph it right away if I have the time, but mostly I plan to cook/prepare the night before and then style & shoot the next day. Quite often I have tried the recipe a couple of times by then. Editing photos I do on my spare time in the evenings. I never plan what I’m gonna write about on the blog, I just write what pops up in my head that particular day.

I love your creativity!!

Which 5 ingredients will one find in your pantry? 

Hehe my pantry is smacked with stuff… In the back you’ll probably find some rarely used superfood powders, but what I always need to have at home (besides cashews) are almonds, rolled oats, coconut milk, tahini and bananas. And a thousand more things. Gosh I’m so spoiled with having good food around.

Do you have an all time favorite recipe you keep coming back to? 🙂

I have different favorite recipes in different periods of my life. Right now the only thing I wanna have for breakfast is my Coconut & Vanilla Oatmeal. During weekdays I eat similar salads every day, at the moment with a millet base, random veggies and a honey & dijon mustard dressing I’ve made countless times!

Tell us something about the recipe you are sharing today! Why this particular recipe?

This recipe is a perfect example of how I roll 😉 It happened the day before pay day and contains literally everything I had left in my fridge that day. I can tell you my expectations for this smoothie wasn’t that high, but oh how surprised I was when I tasted it!

I love the creativity that comes from restrictions. You don’t really need to have a perfectly stocked pantry to make delicious food. I hate to throw away food and always save the little bits and pieces left to use for something else. Smoothies is a great way to use up that last squeeze in the yoghurt package or half a frozen banana from the freezer.

I make smoothies almost every day to drink in between meals, and I especially like to add some seeds or grains and something fat like coconut milk or yoghurt to make it more filling and long lasting.

Despite citruses typically are winter ingredients, to me this is a recipe flirting with spring 🙂 I even added birch straws, see! As if the weather gods heard my plea when photographing this recipe, the sun came out from the clouds just long enough for me to catch it.

For this recipe I used yoghurt, but you can easily make a vegan version using coconut milk + a little extra lemon juice.

orange buckwheat smoothie

Sunny Buckwheat Smoothie

Serves one

Preparations:

2 tbsp raw buckwheat groats

water to cover

***soak for minimum 1 hour***

To mix:

1 large orange or 2 small

1 small banana

1/4 lemon

1 inch piece of fresh ginger

1/2 cup natural yoghurt

2 small pitted dates or 1 medjool date

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

water until desired consistency

+ the soaked and rinsed buckwheat

Prepare by soaking the buckwheat in lukewarm water for minimum one hour. This can be done the night before or in the morning. You soak the groats to get rid of harmful enzymes and start a sprouting process for optimal digestion and nutritional content.

Rinse buckwheat thoroughly. Drain and set aside.

Peel orange and lemon with a knife. Try to get rid of as much of the white parts as possible (it’s bitter). Remove any seeds. Peel ginger and coarsely chop.

Put orange, a quarter of the lemon, banana, ginger, buckwheat, yoghurt, dates and turmeric powder in a high speed blender and mix until completely smooth. Add water if nessecary. If you have a not so strong mixer or an immersion blender you might wanna squeeze out the juice of the orange and lemon beforehand, grate the ginger and perhaps soak the dates if they’re dried.

Serve right away with seeds, berries, granola or simply with a (birch) straw!

Thank you so much Agnes for sharing this beautiful recipe with us here at Straightforward Nutrition! I sure know what I’ll have for breakfast next week 🙂

If you want to check out the Millet & Linseeds Porridge which I shared on Cashew-Kitchen click here

straightforward nutritionstraightforward nutrition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*All photographs on this post is by Cashew-Kitchen.

Rose infused marzipan – for Valentine’s

Rose infused marzipan – for Valentine’s

Valentine’s is upon us again. I never got a chance to write a Valentine’s post last year due to some incredibly stormy weather and subsequent power cuts, which lasted for days,  so I’m going to have a stab at it this year instead.

I have to admit, I have mixed feelings about this whole conundrum… On the one hand I think it’s a nice idea with a day prompting you to do something extra nice for that one special person in your life. On the other hand I feel it has become such a big commercial hype, it has lost any appeal or value. And shouldn’t we take time daily to show our love and appreciation for those in our lives that matters anyway? On any given day? Oh and the whole thing (i.e commercial hype around this ONE day) can easily make anyone who happens to be single feel totally inadequate, sad and even like there’s something wrong with them because they happen to NOT be in a relati0nship at this time. To ME that sends out an entirely wrong message.

A good few years ago (five to be precise), I was dating an absolutely gorgeous guy, beautiful to the core. He wasn’t a great guy for presents or cards or anything at Valentine’s, yet  during the short time we had together he gave me one of the greatest gifts of all. He gave me the amazing gift of allowing me to be completely and utterly myself. Even though, I would considered of myself to show up as me and to go my own way (most of the time at least), he allowed me to do that in our relationship too.

I was able to be true and authentic to who I am because I felt safe, loved and trusted that it was going to be Ok to be vulnerable and show sides of myself which I might have been reluctant to show for fear of being rejected or judged. (Like we all tend to do, especially when we don’t know someone all that well) It was a blessed gift to get and I’m grateful to now hold that experience in my heart.

It’s made me think though, that in today’s world, with all the talk of Authenticity and being true to ourselves so we can live our lives fully, yet the never ending snap shots we see of other peoples’ lives through social media and the “compariso-nitis it brings; we need to do two things:

 

1. Love ourselves with compassion and unconditional whole-heartedness. And if we don’t already do so we need to keep working at it. For if we can’t love ourselves for all that we are (and are not) then how can we let someone else in? Creating a space for self-love and a feeling of self-worth hold the key to opening so many doors.

2. Allow or hold a space for others to be authentic to who THEY are. Allow them to feel loved and safe enough to be vulnerable without being judged. Perhaps this is what’s called unconditional love…?

Maybe Brené Brown puts it better in her TED Talk. I don’t know, but I do think she’s on to something, after a decade of research into it.

It’s all to easy to try to change others, whether they are partners, friends, work mates or family members. If we DO care about them, then giving them the gift of allowing them to BE who they truly are (as opposed to who we would like them to be) is probably the most amazing gift we can ever give. And you know, this is actually easy enough to do. Being present and truly listen to someone is so rare these days, so by giving your full attention to a conversation with someone dear, you can simply make that person shine in their own right. Somehow we are often aware of those people who are naturally good listeners because they tend to make us feel good when we are around them. Thing is, we may not be aware that it’s their listening skill which is what sets them apart. Beauty is though, we can all learn or improve this skill. We simply need to practice active listening a little more.

I’m just going to throw in a caveat here; if you discover that you are trying to change someone because you don’t like who they truly are… Then set them AND yourself free. No need to be hanging around people who doesn’t bring out the best in you. And if cutting ties is not an option, then at least limit the time you spend with them…

rose infused vegan marzipan

 

Self-love. Something so incredibly important but so incredibly hard. The definition of the word is: care and regards for ones own happiness and well being. Can someone wise out there tell me WHY we don’t see attending to this very need, as important as it actually is? And please don’t get self-love mixed up with arrogance and self importance. Often (in my experience) people who show up with those kinds of traits have the least amount of self-love. Because when you care for and value yourself the need to make others feel inferior is simply not necessary.

Being comfortable in our own skin, being happy and content in our own company and making choices based on self compassion seems to come easier to some than others. I came across this little list of 10 things you can start doing to bring more self-love into your life. Worth a look.

In the name of LOVE I challenge you do so something to this weekend to show yourself how much you care about you. Then share the love far and wide! But start showing yourself some love first.

OK enough of ramblings, I better share this recipe with you too. I went for a floral theme of roses (of course!) as to many of us they are the symbol of love. I happen to like the taste of rose too. But if you don’t, feel free to leave it out. Or substitute with some orange zest and a little freshly squeezed orange juice instead. These little sweet treats may look complicated but they really aren’t. All you need are a couple of ingredients and food processor. So whether you decide to do something nice for yourself this Valentine’s or if you want to treat your lover, you can do it Straightforward Nutrition style! <3

Rose Infused Marzipan Bites

Makes about 15 bites

200g whole almonds

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp dried rose petals – optional

1 tbsp rose water – you can substitute for equal amounts of lemon or orange juice

2-3 tbsp maple syrup, depending on desired sweetness

50g 70 % dark chocolate

some dried rose petals for decoration – optional

a sprinkle of bee pollen, for decoration – optional

Start with grinding the almonds into flour. I usually use a blender for this but you can use your food processor too. Half ways through grinding the nuts add the dried flowers.

Add your ground almonds + flowers, maple syrup, vanilla extract and rose water to a food processor and blend until you have a sticky dough.

Make small balls from the dough and then chill them in the fridge to harden up a little, for an hour or so.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over warm water. Roll each ball in the melted chocolate until well coated. Let them set a little on a lined tray before you sprinkle some rose petals and bee pollen on top to make your treats look extra pretty!

Store in an airtight container in the fridge. The marzipan will last, I mean keep… for a few days in the fridge. These treats are vegan (without bee pollen) and gluten and dairy free.

rose infused marzipan

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Gluten Free Banana Bread

Gluten Free Banana Bread

The start of a new month! Spring is almost palpable. How are those New Year’s resolutions coming along? I hope you haven’t given up already… One of my resolutions is to start using my (rather large) collection of cookbooks a little more. So I’m going to kick off this year with a delicious gluten free banana bread from one of my favourite books I bought last year.

I have a thing for books. It goes back years. I used to be a library junkie as a child taking bags of them home to read with each visit. Most of the time the stories would have contained horses in some for or another. These days what entices me the most is cookbooks. Thing is, getting a cookbook from the library just doesn’t cut it as you have to return it sooner or later. I want have my cookbooks to hand at all times so I can pull one out when ever I need a little inspiration.

A good sign of a well treasured cookbook is one with a few crinkled pages, some stains and a couple of rough edges. I mean it’s not there to be sat on a shelf gathering dust, it’s there to be used and help you whip up delicious meals in your kitchen, when ever you need a helping hand.

To be honest I’m not sure how many cookbooks I actually own. I’m afraid to count and there’s always yet another one added to the Amazon wish list… When I first started buying cookbooks the purpose was just for general use, and I used to pick books with a variety of recipes.

I’ve always been drawn to ones with short listings of wholefood ingredients and pictures. In recent times the quality of the photography has taken even more center stage. I just love the book as a whole to be esthetic and pleasing to the eye. In a sense this is a little ridiculous as you may end up missing out on some amazing books with fantastic recipes, which just doesn’t have a lot of images. Though  I have found that the more experience I get using a variety of ingredients, the better I have become at reading a recipe and can often get an idea if I’m going to like a dish or not, based on reading the ingredients list. What kind of cookbooks do you prefer? Would you care to share one of your favourites?

 

gluten free banan bread

 

This lovely and moist gluten free banana bread is from the lovely Emma Galloway’s first book My Darling Lemon Thyme 

I’ve been a fan of her blog for sometime but I absolutely LOVE her book. I love every thing about it. The broad variation of recipes, the useful cooking hints & tips, the layout and most of all Emma’s beautiful writing and and photographs. I have cooked lots of things from her book but this banana bread is by far one of my favourites and I have made it many times. It’s an easy recipe with not too many ingredients and it is one that make for (almost) guaranteed gluten free baking success!

I often just read the list of ingredients and look at the image when I try to re-create a recipe from a book but with baking you’ll never get away with that. And even less so with gluten free baking. I love baking and for me it’s one of my preferred ways of de-stressing. But I’m far from an expert at it. Particularly when it comes to recipe creating. That’s why I prefer relying on someone elses successful recipes.

I have only made two tiny tweaks to Emma’s original recipe. I tried and tested it with dried figs, rather than dates and I usually put sesame seeds on top of my loaf instead of the seed she is using. But other than that, I’ve pretty much stuck to how it is in the book. Make sure you also use a nice fruity olive oil. I tried with cold pressed rapeseed oils, but the bread didn’t turn out half as tasty.

I also love that the sweetness in this bread comes entirely from sources which are naturally found in nature without the need for processing.

Gluten Free Banana Bread – From My Darling Lemon Thyme

Makes one standard loaf

1 cup of dried figs, stems removed & roughly chopped

1 tsp of baking soda

3 large over ripe bananas, peeled and mashed

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tbsp pure maple syrup

2 eggs, preferably organic, lightly beaten

1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla powder

grated zest of one lemon

1 1/2 cups (21g) fine brown rice flour – I usually weigh it out

1/2 cup (80g) potato starch – I usually weigh it out

2 tsp gluten free baking powder

a pinch of sea salt

a few tbsp sesame seeds, to sprinkle

Preheat your oven to 180C. Line your loaf tin with parchment paper.

Start by placing chopped figs and baking soda in a small bowl. Add 2 tbsp boiling water and stir well. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine mashed bananas, olive oil, beaten eggs, maple syrup, vanilla and lemon zest. Whisk the mix until smooth. Then carefully sift in rice flour, potato starch, baking powder and a pinch pf salt into the wet mix.

Stir until the flour and the wet mix is combined and then add in the figs and any remaining liquid from them. Stir the batter to disperse the figs evenly. Pour the batter into you lined loaf tin. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

Bake for an hour or until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 min before taking it out of the tin. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before cutting in (the hard part). If you try to short cut this final step your banana bread will just crumble up. So refrain from the temptation and exercise patience.

Enjoy a slice, or two with your favourite beverage. The loaf will keep for a few days, stores in an airtight container. Apparently it will freeze well if cut in thick slices, too. However I can’t vouch for this as none of mine ever made it that far…

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Candied Almonds

Candied Almonds

It’s the day before the day, or the eve before the day before Christmas day. I’ve been hanging out in the kitchen all day. Trying to get into some festive spirit by enjoying the kitchen all to myself, (well my dogs kept me company) with endless Christmas songs on Spotify. I had actually decided NOT to make any treats this year as it is a lot of work when it’s something you HAVE to do. I’ve been away the past few weekends so there has been little time to do fit it in anyhow. Yet today I found myself in the kitchen all day making stuff. You know what? It was so much fun! I’ve missed the creativity of cooking just for the fun of it and not just because of the necessity to eat.

A couple of random things were created today. This “alternative” Rocky Road for example. I also experimented with some homemade vegan marzipan, made some date truffles for a hamper for some friends to enjoy on Christmas Day and then of course these addictive little buggers!

Making sweet treats for Christmas was a tradition we used to do at home as children. A few of our friends + their mums from the village used to meet up a Saturday in Dec and make lots of traditional holiday treats. Well it was our mums that did most of the baking and cooking while we had fun playing and then got to eat the treats afterwards… Fond memories.

Five years ago, one of the years I spent Christmas in Ireland, we enured the coldest winter here in forty years! I was suppose to be working but the roads had turned into a sheet of ice and traveling anywhere was out of the question. So what does one do with an unexpected day off? Cook of course! Off I went to the shop (on foot) to get a couple of basic ingredients to enjoy my day off and to make some treats which I hadn’t made since childhood. Things I made that year was a little more sugar laden than what I made this year but the pleasure of creating edible things while enjoying festive songs at full blast is still the same. Little did I know back then, that this would be a new festive tradition to get myself into the perfect holiday mood.

Candid Almonds

Straightforward Nutrition

 

If you are still stuck for an edible gift this close to the big day, then I suggest you give these sugar coated almonds ago. They (almost) cook themselves and all you need is some demera sugar, almonds, water and some cinnamon. Store-cupboard ingredients really. Don’t be fooled though, this classic treat is more addictive than your average tin of chocolate. As I reach for “just one more”, I try to convince myself that they are somehow a little healthier as it’s unrefined sugar and whole nuts… But perhaps I’m just kidding myself. Regardless, I’m done with food + guilt, so I keep enjoying each bite mindfully and so should you 🙂

 

Candied Almonds

Serves 10

150 g whole almonds – organic if possible

150 g unrefined Demera sugar

50 ml water

1 tsp ground cinnamon

Place all ingredients in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir to mix the sugar, water, cinnamon and almonds together.

Bring to the boil and cook on medium heat until all the water has evaporated and the sugar begins to crystallise around the almonds. Stir on occasion. This part will take about 10 min or so. You want all the water to slowly evaporate.

Once the sugar has crystallised keep the pan hot until the sugar begins to melt. Stir to make sure all the almonds are well coated. Be careful not to burn the sugar. Remove the almonds from the pan on to a plate or tray. Separate them with a fork and allow to cool completely before eating.

The almonds will keep for up to two weeks. Wrap them in greaseproof paper and store in an airtight container, in a dry cupboard.

N.B I tried using raw cane sugar but since it’s very finely crystallised, the end result was not as good as when using Demera sugar which has bigger crystals.

 

This is my last post of 2014 and I would like to take this opportunity to say a huge THANK YOU for visiting my blog / website through out the year, for following along here and on various social media (Instagram & Facebook) and thanks to all of you who have used my nutritional therapy services this year too. Having each and every one of you being a part of my life and my business means so much. So thank you again.

Wishing you a week filled with love, family, friends, health, blessings and most important of all Good Food! See you in the New Year.

xxx

Linn

P.S Some new exciting things coming up next year, like our new online programme! If you would like more details about this please shoot me a mail on linn@straightforwardnutrition.com  I love helping people getting back to the healthiest version of themselves. 🙂 So why not work together in 2015?