Let’s continue with the theme of sweetness. And summer.
After about 10 days spent with my family in Sweden, where it wasn’t up the usual July temperatures, I subsequently returned to an Ireland which kind of is.
So that inspired me to share this recipe I created a few years ago for a guest posting on someone else’s site, and since I’ve been a little short on time, plus the fact that there are some internal work currently being done to the house I live in (think dust, shambles and loud drilling noises) then coming up with something totally fresh and new felt too challenging.
Here we are with an oldie, but a goodie. Perfect for summer.
In these days of everyone going gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, vegan or paleo it can become a minefield to find something to eat, or serve, which is still tasty, nourishing and made from simple wholefood ingredients.
Personally I don’t believe that adhering to any of the dietary requirements above should mean restrictive and boring. (Nor does it mean that we should attach any other emotional connotations to it either, but that’s a different conversation.)
Rather the opposite in fact. If you have to adhere to any food restrictions for health reasons they can in fact serve as a gateway into a more simplistic, holistic and diverse way of eating.
The question I constantly ask myself is “When did it become so complicated to choose what to eat?”
In the end of the day no matter what latest nutritional trend you follow, doesn’t it just come down to the quality of the food in the end? How it has been grown and produced – with care. How it’s been prepared – with love. And how it’s being served and eaten- with joy!
I don’t follow any particular dietary trend and eat most things which will make me feel good and do something good for my health. And if you’re going to cut something out of your diet for good, cut out the guilt.
Michael Pollan, author of several books on food and the history of cooking, eating, agriculture etc. have the best advice I know, which is really straightforward.
Eat (REAL) food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.
You simply can’t go wrong with that…
Now let’s move on to the recipe.
This is a simple, yet decadent summer dessert which should please the majority of your guests regardless of what they call themselves. what they can or cannot eat.
Coconut Panacotta with Raw Raspberry Chia Jam
Serves 2-4 depending on the sizes of the serving glasses you use
1 can of coconut milk – Preferably organic and additive free
1 ½ tbsp. raw honey – use maple syrup if vegan
1 tsp vanilla bean paste, or vanilla powder
Zest of one organic lemon
2g agar-agar powder – available in healthfood shops
Raspberry Chia Jam:
125 g fresh raspberries, washed & drained
Juice of ½ lemon – optional. Lime would be lovely too
1 tbsp of chia seeds
Place coconut milk, vanilla bean paste, honey, lemon zest and agar-agar powder in a small sauce pan. Bring it to a boil while constantly stirring to make sure the honey dissolves and prevent the agar-agar flakes from sticking to the bottom. Once the coconut milk mix reaches boiling point boil for one min, then remove from to heat and allow to cool. Once the coconut milk has cooled to finger temperature pour it into small serving glasses and allow to set in the fridge.
To make the chia jam; place your berries in a food processor / blender. Squeeze the lemon juice straight into the bowl of your food processor / blender. Blend until smooth. Transfer the blended berries to a container. Add in the chia seeds and stir until well combined. Let the chia jam sit for an hour or two to allow the seeds to gel. Stir a few times.
Add the jam on top of your set coconut panacotta to be served straight out of the glasses it’s set in. Garnish with a sprig of mint or some shaved dark chocolate.
Note* I did not add any sweetener to the chia jam. You can of course do so if you want it less tart.
This week I’m really excited about introducing you all to another Irish Food Blogger, Frances Walsh from The Honest Project! We are doing a blog and recipe swap and you will be able to read my contribution to Frances’s blog over here.
But now let’s get going with the interview! I will let Frances tell you a little bit more about herself now 🙂
Hi Frances! Can you tell us something about yourself and your work?
Sure! My name is Frances and I live in Kilkenny in the south east of Ireland. Kilkenny is my home town, but I lived in Dublin for years where I worked as a lawyer. I moved home about four years ago when I was diagnosed with cancer to focus on my recovery. I started my blog, The Honest Project two years ago as something for me to focus on when I was getting better. I found cooking food very therapeutic, especially when it was healthy foods. I began to experiment with my cooking and document it on the blog. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was a child but never really experimented with vegetarian cooking until I started my road to recovery. I also love writing and photography so the blog is a great way for me to spend time doing some of my favourite things.
How would you describe your food philosophy?
I won’t really call it a philosophy. I just cook and eat what I want to at a particular time. I guess my focus is on eating more vegetables and I find vegetarian cooking exciting. I’m always looking for new ways to add vegetables to my diet. I think everyone has to decide for themselves how they wish to eat and I’d hate to come across as preachy; but I guess the blog is for anyone who wants to eat more vegetables and more food that is cooked from scratch. Sometimes the simplest of ingredients and cooking techniques can make the most delicious dishes and sometimes you want to make things a little more complex. Both ways of cooking have their place in my kitchen.
How did you come up with the name The Honest Project?
When I started the blog, it was so that I would have a project that I could focus on when I was recovering from being sick. I needed something to structure my day and I was so fatigued after chemotherapy I really saw the blog as a project to help get me back on my feet. I also wanted to write about things that were authentic and honest to me. I didn’t want to limit the blog to food related content so I thought The Honest Project was a good choice. Plus the URL was available, so didn’t have to think twice.
What does your process from idea to finished recipe and blog post look like?
It varies. I usually don’t put a whole lot of planning into my recipes. Rather I might have a beautiful seasonal ingredient in my kitchen and I decide to build a recipe around it. Sometimes I get ideas from café or restaurant menus from half way across the globe (thanks to Internet snopping) and I make an Honest Project version. Some of my favourite recipes have just come from me having very little ingredients in the kitchen and having to be creative with what I do have. I usually make the recipe a couple of times before it makes it to the blog. Also in the Winter time as day light hours are minimal, I have to make sure to make it early in the day so I have time to photograph it in natural light.
Which 5 ingredients will one find in your pantry?
I have so many ingredients in my pantry, it’s hard to narrow it down to five essentials. I always have olive oil (both extra virgin and olive oil). I love oats, they are so versatile and I use them all the time. I love avocados and literally have to stop myself eating them on repeat all day long. I eat a lot of nuts, especially almonds and cashew nuts and always have a supply in my handbag in case the dreaded hunger strikes. Lastly, I always have leafy greens for juicing, smoothies, salads and adding to stews and curries.
Do you have an all time favorite recipe you keep coming back to?
I have many. I adore chia seed puddings as I think they are the perfect blank canvas on which to experiment with flavour. They are also so handy to make in advance and just grab out of the fridge each morning. I also love chocolate brownies and I’m currently making a dark chocolate version with an almond butter swirl. It’s so good with a cup of tea or coffee. (Ed note* I can’t wait to read and cook that recipe as I’m always looking for the best brownie recipe!)
Tell us something about the recipe you are sharing today! Why this particular recipe?
Today’s recipe is for Coconut Chia Pudding with Berries & Passion Fruit. Most of the time when I eat chia pudding for breakfast I skip adding any sweetener bar fruit. But for this recipe I add coconut sugar, so it’s really more suitable for dessert than breakfast. Let’s be honest, chia seeds don’t really taste like anything at all. But paired with a delicious sweet nut milk and fresh berries, there are transformed into a delicious breakfast or in this case dessert. For this recipe I combine the coconut flavour of the chia pudding with passion fruit and berries. The great thing about this recipe is that it can be prepped in advance.
Coconut Chia Pudding with Berries & Passion Fruit
5 cups of coconut milk
3-5 tbsp of coconut sugar (depending on your sweet tooth).
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole chia seeds
1 cup frozen berries
3 passion fruit
A few sprigs fresh mint
1 tbsp coconut flakes
Heat the coconut milk in a saucepan over a low heat. Add the vanilla extract and coconut sugar and stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat.
Add the chia seeds to the milk mixture and stir well. Pour the mixture into a large container and place in the fridge for 4 hours to set.
Just before serving, heat the berries in a saucepan over a low heat until they soften.
To serve, divide the chia pudding between six serving glasses. Spoon a tablespoon of berries and their syrup over each. Spoon the flesh of half a passion fruit into each glass. Top with fresh mint and coconut flakes.
Head over to The Honest Project for more great recipes! And if you want to stay in touch and follow her blog on Social Media, you will find her on Facebook Here and on Instagram Here.
It’s that time of the year again, when you get to indulge in making and giving, without anyone questioning it. Actually it seems much expected that you do so.
In this time of “shoulds”, “musts” and “have-tos”, a midst overwhelm and busyness perhaps a desire to slow down and take time, doing what really matters instead, is what we are truly looking for?
OK… So I do realise that it’s not everyone sees the kitchen as their creative playground (though this is surely all about perspective?!) but for those of us who do like to play in the kitchen, making sweet or savoury treats, bakes or dishes that can double up as gifts is a win-win!
And why not make a play date, not just for you and the kitchen, but invite a friend or two to come along too. The experience of cooking and eating is often elevated (in my experience) by sharing, so have fun.
These raw chocolates are really quick and easy to make and only require five ingredients. You’ll have them whipped up in no time.
Mint, chocolate and coconut is a classic combination, so if you know that you already like this combo, you will not be disappointed!
Raw Mint-Coconut Chocolate
Makes 14 hearts
100g creamed coconut ( ½ packaged)
6-8 drops of mint extract
40g cacao butter
4 tbsp raw cacao powder
2 tbsp maple syrup
Roughly chop the creamed coconut and melt it on low heat in a small saucepan. Creamed coconut is available in most healthfood shops and also in Asian grocery stores. It is dehydrated fresh meat of mature coconuts and solid at room temperature.
Once the coconut is melted add the mint extract and then give it a good stir to make sure it is dispensed evenly. Add the melted coconut mix to the molds. Try to fill each mold to about ½. Place in the fridge to set, while you proceed to make the raw chocolate.
Melt the cacao butter in a heat proof bowl on top of a saucepan with simmering water. Once the cacao butter has fully melted, add the cacao powder and then mix until you have a smooth blend. And the maple syrup and mix again until your chocolate mix is again lovely and smooth.
Remove your mold tray from the fridge and spoon the chocolate mix on top of the coconut mix. Place the tray back in the fridge and let the chocolate set. This will take a few hours.
Once your chocolate has hardened, pop them out of the moulds and place in an airtight container in the fridge until you want to serve them. Or gift them!
***I use silicone ice cube molds to make these and it makes the process very easy. You can use any shapes you like of course and if you don’t have a mold, then you can try simply pouring the coconut layer out first on a lined tray and once set, add the raw chocolate layer. I haven’t actually tried that technique with this particular recipe, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.
If you want some more ideas of edible sweet gifts here are a few ideas from the archives:
Date Truffles Three Ways
Fruit and Nut Truffle Cake
And here are a few other ones that I really would like to try out myself, from some of my favourite bloggers:
Maple Butter Roasted Nuts
Cardamom & Rosewater Caramels
Raw Apricot, Dark Chocolate Coconut Bites
I’ve been wanting to share this recipe for the longest time ever! And I’ve also wanted to share a red cabbage recipe here forever… The funny thing is when you do food blogging though is that there’s so much timing involved. At least if you are trying to keep things somewhat seasonal. This means that sometimes I don’t get to act on the ideas I get, or end up trying things, even shooting the recipe and then never getting around to publish it, because life gets in the way or perhaps I’m not organised enough. Or maybe it is a combination of both??!!
I don’t know when my love affair with red cabbage started, but somewhere along the way it did. Now, for me it is a seasonal vegetable and one I tend to mostly enjoy Autumn – Winter – early Spring time. I’ve never tried growing it myself for I think three reasons. One, I don’t have much space and each head takes up a lot of space. Two, they take ages to grow (and that’s hard if you are low on patience). And three, every year around this time we seem to get an infestation of little butterfly larveas that eat anything that belongs to the cabbage family. At the moment it’s particularly bad and they’ve eaten a lot of my precious kale. So if you happen to have some tips on how I can kindly ask them to go and snack else where, please share!
This recipe may sound like an unlikely combination but it actually covers all the different taste elements in one bowl and it’s also a visual delight! Apparently most people don’t eat enough of blue / purple foods and in this bowl you get two different types straight up.
Blueberries are tasty little nutritional power-houses. Their blue plant power comes from the phytonutrient anthocyanins which have been shown to improve both memory and eyesight. They are of course delicious on their own as a simple snack, perhaps paired with a few walnuts for extra brain power potential, or on top of the morning smoothie / porridge / granola. Or you can be a little bit more “out there” and add them in a salad like I’ve done here.
Red Cabbage is one of my favourite winter vegetables. (Ok, ok, I hear you it’s still summer!) It reminds me of Christmas in Sweden and having cooked red cabbage with the Christmas ham. One of the first natural healing remedies a learnt about in college was the healing power of cabbage juice for stomach ulcers as it is rich in the amino acid glutamine as well as the cancer protective phytonutrient indole-3-carbinole. Cabbage is also rich in vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6 (important for a well functioning nervous system), calcium, magnesium and manganese.
Savoy cabbage, the beautiful green leafy head one, is very popular here in Ireland and a staple part of the national dish “Bacon & Cabbage”. I will admit that it has taken me some time to really get into the swing of cabbage love, but just as with beetroot, I’m a total convert these days. If not just for the great health benefits it brings, but for the beauty if the colour alone!
If I’m cooking green cabbage I like to steam or blanche it quickly so that the colour just pops and turn out to be a really bright green. With red cabbage my preferred way of eating it is slowly cooked with spices, red onion, apple and a little bit of red wine vinegar. But that’s a little bit too wintery for now…
You can keep this salad entirely raw if you like, but personally I prefer red cabbage cooked hence I am doing it here. However with this salad the finely shredded cabbage is cooked in the oven for just 15 min so it is more heated through than “cooked”. It does soften in and takes away that “rawness” that I’m not super fond of. But do as you please, this recipe is flexible enough to make sure this seemingly odd combination will still work for you!
Red Cabbage Salad with Blueberries & Coconut
Serves 2 generously
1/2 a head red cabbage, outer leaves removed and finely shredded
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 cup dried coconut flakes – if you buy untoasted ones you can choose yourself if you want to toast them or not
1 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
4 tbsp olive oil
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 tbsp fresh lemon thyme – optional
Heat the oven to 180°C. Remove any damaged outer leaves of the head of cabbage. The shred it finely. I prefer using a cheese slicer, but if you don’t have one of those you can use a mandolin. If using a mandolin you may need to cut the cabbage into wedges. The trick is to get it as shredded as finely as possible as it makes for a much nicer texture, in my opinion at least!
Place the shredded cabbage in a bowl and add the olive oil. Gently massage the oil into the cabbage with your hands with some kind squeezes.
Then place the cabbage on a baking tray. Scatter it out evenly and then add the rosemary and lemon thyme (if using). Bake in the oven for about 15 min until warmed through and soft. Make sure you toss it about a few times in between to ensure even roasting.
*Note* If you want to make this salad entirely raw, then skip the oven step.
Once cooked, place the warm cabbage in a serving dish, drizzle some balsamic vinegar over it, add the blueberries and the coconut flakes.
Serve, enjoy, and give your brain a boost at the same time!
Want to add more colour to your life and plate? Download the Rainbow Bowl Ebook and get creative!
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.
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!
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
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 🙂
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.