It's no secret that I love chocolate, especially at this time of year. Easter is a great time to get in the kitchen and experiment with recipes and then give healthy chocolate presents away to all your friends and family. Or if you're like me, just eat it yourself.
Good quality dark chocolate (anything generally over 70% cocoa or cacao) has great health properties, including anti-oxidants and magnesium for muscle replenishment, so really there is no excuse not to indulge!
This recipe is created by cooking extraordinaire and chocolate-enthusiast, Tanya Bartolini. Well, Naturally kindly provided me with an enormous amount of Sugar-free 70% Dark Chocolate Melts which are naturally sweetened with Stevia (a plant sweetener - no chemicals!) to make this amazing, delicious, decadent 'healthy' chocolate. You can play around, add nuts and fruits as you please. I added hazelnuts and cacao nibs to mine.
Ingredients - Serves 4
250g Well Naturally Sugar Free Dark Chocolate Melts
50g pistachio nuts (or nuts of your choice)
50g dried cranberries
50g raw cacao nibs (optional)
Fill a small saucepan with water to 1/2 full.
Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer, not a boil.
Take a glass bowl and rest it over the saucepan, ensuring that the bowl does not touch the water. You have now created a
Place 2/3 of the chocolate into the glass bowl and reserve 1/3 for later use. With a wooden spoon, gently stir the chocolate as it melts. Place a cooking thermometer into the chocolate and melt chocolate to 45° C. Remove the bowl from the heat and place on a bench top.
Add the remaining 1/3 mixture and stir constantly with your wooden spoon until the chocolate’s temperature comes down to 32° C and the chocolate has melted. You should have glossy, melted chocolate ready for decorating.
Line a baking tray with baking paper and pour the chocolate mixture onto the paper. Move the tray from side to side to
ensure that the chocolate covers the base of the tray evenly.
Sprinkle the chocolate with the pistachio nuts, cranberries (or hazelnuts and cacao nibs) and then place in the fridge to set. This should take no more than 30 minutes.
Yay it's Easter! To me this means I get to head to my home town of Yass in NSW where my extended family and cousins all get together for a picnic in the paddock with my almost 90 year old Grandmother.
It's my favourite time of the year for so many reasons - it's cold, so we get to light a fire; there's an abundance of chocolate available (this year Ill be making my own - recipe will be up soon!); Gran makes the world's greatest pork spare ribs (if you're lucky I'll share this recipe one day too) and best of all, there are butter-smothered Hot Cross Buns. Yum.
Because I'm a teensy bit anal about food I will be making my family gluten-free Hot Cross Buns this year and so here is my favourite recipe. Make sure you don't eat too many even though they're healthy - everything in moderation :)
BUT if you do happen to overindulge make sure you join me and my brand new Better Body Project when the Easter holidays are over! Those who sign up during the month of April receive 20% off their plan! So now you can have your chocolate and eat it too! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up today.
GLUTEN FREE HOT CROSS BUNS - Makes 14 (recipe also found at Flamingo Pink)
300 g (3 cups) almond meal
pinch sea salt
1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda (baking soda) + lemon juice to activate it
1/4 cup macadamia nut oil or olive oil
2 good tablespoons raw honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
2 free range / organic eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
80 g dried cranberries or cherries
50 g organic dark chocolate 85% + extra for crosses (optional)
Preheat oven to 160 C. Combine all the ingredients including dried fruit and chocolate and mix well. Scoop or spoon out 14 small portions onto a baking tray. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes or until golden. Remove and cool. Drizzle dark chocolate crosses on top if you like, or use this Lemon Cashew Cream:
Lemon Cashew Cream Cheese for the Crosses, from The Holistic Ingredient
1 cup cashews, soaked overnight
2 tablespoons Greek yoghurt
2 tablespoons rice malt syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Place the cashews, yoghurt, lemon juice and rice malt syrup in a blender or electric mixer and combine until smooth yet still thick enough not to be runny. Using a piping bag (or a snap log bag with a small hole cut in the corner), pipe lines/crosses across the buns.
I just spent my morning procrasti-baking. I should be writing at article but instead my very ripe bananas were calling me so I put aside my work and spent the morning in the kitchen. Here's what I've come up with:
A Cacao Banana Bread Cake-like thing. And it's really delicious! So often I go to a cafe and am disappointed 99% of the time that there is nothing remotely healthy to have with my morning coffee. Nuts and yoghurt gets pretty boring every day, so I decided to raid my pantry and make a gluten free banana bread, that tastes amazing served warm and toasted, topped with ricotta and honey or simply on its own. Hello afternoon tea. And lunch admittedly....
What's good about it?
Good? This bread is great! It contains no nasties - no refined sugar, dairy or gluten. Bananas are a wonderful fruit, full of potassium which is great for a healthy heart and maintaining normal blood pressure. Coconut oil is thermogenic, meaning it will keep the metabolism cranking. Coconut syrup is a great alternative to normal sugars, you dont need much (thanks to the sweetness of the bananas) and it has a lower GI than sugar, honey and maple syrup. Raw cacao is fantastic for its antioxidants and magnesium and almonds are packed full of protein and healthy fats to keep you full and help lower cholesterol. They will also stabilise blood sugars along with the cinnamon. Can't get much better than this!
INGREDIENTS: Makes 1 loaf, serves 12.
300g ripe banana (approx 4 small bananas or 2 large)
3 free range / organic eggs
60 g (2 tablespoons organic coconut syrup (or raw honey or maple syrup)
1 teaspoon vanilla
60 g (1/4 cup) coconut oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda ( bicarb soda) + 1 tbsp lemon juice
200 g ( 2 cups) almond meal
25 g (1/4 cup) chia seed
2 dessert spoons raw cacao (optional)
desiccated coconut for topping
Preheat your oven to 160 C.
Smash your bananas with a fork or potato masher. Combine banana, coconut syrup, oil, cinnamon, vanilla, eggs,cacao, bicarb and lemon ( the lemon activates the bicarb) in a large bowl and stir together.
Add the almond meal and chia seeds
Lightly oil one loaf tin and then coat liberally with extra almond meal or desiccated coconut – this will prevent the cake from sticking.
Pour batter into the tin and bake for 40 minutes ( a skewer inserted into the centre should come out dry).
Cover the top with foil if over-browning.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool before turning out the loaf.
keeps in the fridge covered for up to 1 week.
Ricotta + Honey
Plain yoghurt and honey
Sliced banana + blueberry + raw honey
These recipes come from my Grandmother who is the love and inspiration of my life and hands down, the best cook in the whole world. Some recipes I've tweaked to make into a healthier version, others I've left for you to enjoy as a treat.