Dessert, Snacks

Chocolate coconut squares

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These chocolate coconut squares are free from gluten, dairy and refined sugar, but are nonetheless one of the most intensely chocolate flavoured desserts I have ever eaten. I had intended the recipe to be for chocolate coconut bars, but they came out so rich I had to downgrade the size to squares. These are lovely with a cup of coffee or as an after-school treat for hungry children.

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Chocolate Coconut Squares

360 g pitted medjool dates

100 g organic cacao powder (I use Creative Nature)

60 g dessicated coconut + extra to sprinkle

50 g chopped almonds

2 tablespoons honey

4 tablespoons water

pinch of salt

Makes about 30 squares.

Line a 20 x 20 cm baking tin with parchment paper.

Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blitz until smooth.

Tip the mixture into the tin and spread out evenly. Press down and smooth the surface with the back of a large spoon. Sprinkle a bit more coconut over the top and press into the surface.

Refrigerate for at least one hour, then cut into squares. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Breakfast, Dips and spreads

Pear Butter

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I love the magic quality of this recipe, in which just one ingredient – pears – cook in a bit of water until they are completely transformed.  The result is a naturally sweet spread perfect for toast or pancakes, or stirred into some natural yogurt.  It is also a great way to use up any pears that are less than perfect or slightly past their prime.

This is good fun to make with children. They can chop the pears and stir the pot, and will be amazed at how cooking can completely change an ingredient.

Pear Butter

4 large pears or 6 medium (about 1.2 kg total)

200 ml water

Core and chop the pears, but do not peel them, and put in a pan with the water. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until pears are tender, about 1 hour.

Once the pears have softened, remove the lid and continue cooking for another 2-3 hours, stirring from time to time, until the mixture is smooth and brown and there is no visible liquid. You will need to stir more frequently towards the end of cooking, to avoid scorching.

Cool to room temperature and blend in a food processor or blender until smooth. Transfer to a jar and refrigerate.

 

Breakfast, Dips and spreads

Blueberry Chia Jam

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Happy new year! I hope you all enjoyed the holidays and had a good break. To get started cooking in 2016, I am sharing a recipe that we will be making in my GAPS For Breakfast workshop next week. This workshop is now sold out – sorry! – but I will be holding it again in April 2016. Details of other upcoming workshops are in the sidebar or on my Events page.

Chia seeds are not only loaded with nutrients, but also very versatile in cooking. For those with an egg allergy, chia seeds can be used as an egg substitute. Chia seeds can be used to make a delicious gluten-free porridge. And here they are used to make a pan of runny fruit set into a jam, without the added sugar of traditional jam. Instead I have just added a touch of honey for sweetness. Chia jam is also incredibly quick to make compared to traditional jam, which is more of a “project”. I hope you enjoy it!

Blueberry Chia Jam

300 g fresh blueberries

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons chia seeds

½ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Yield – one small jam jar

Put the blueberries and honey in a pan and heat on the hob stirring frequently, until the blueberries have burst and the liquid is boiling. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the chia seeds and cook for another 10 minutes, continuing to stir.

When the jam has thickened, take off the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Taste and add more honey if necessary. Cool to room temperature, then transfer to a jar and refrigerate. Keeps for up to one week.

 

Breakfast

Overnight chia seed porridge

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As I mentioned last month, I’ve been experimenting with some new breakfast ideas lately. This week, I decided to try eating chia seeds for breakfast. I’m sure you’ve heard of the superfood properties of chia seeds: they are loaded with omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants and a range of minerals including calcium. Chia seeds are also gluten-free and GAPS-legal, making them a great grain-free breakfast option.

To make the chia seed porridge, the chia seeds are simply mixed with coconut milk (or almond if you prefer) and a vanilla bean, and left to plump up in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, just remove the vanilla bean and give the porridge a good stir.

The porridge heats up in just a couple of minutes on the stovetop. I enjoyed mine with some sliced banana, honey, and chopped roasted hazelnuts.

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I also enjoyed eating it cold with some sliced mango.

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It has more of a pudding-like texture when eaten cold. I think it will make a fantastic breakfast in the summer months topped with some sweet and juicy fresh berries.

I am also testing a “to go” version, perfect for office workers or teens with early morning sports training. I made a quarter recipe of the porridge in a jam jar, then added bananas, honey, nuts and mango.

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I am also planning to use chia seeds in some muffins I am working on, so watch this space.

Overnight chia seed porridge

1 400 ml can of coconut milk (or same quantity almond milk)

50 g chia seeds (I used white but black is fine too)

1 whole vanilla bean

optional toppings – any fruit, nut, seed, honey, maple syrup, etc

Serves 4 – portions may look small but the porridge is very filling

Combine the coconut milk and chia seeds in a jar with a lid or other closed container.

Slice the vanilla bean in half length-wise. Scrape out the seeds and add to the mixture, then add the pods as well.

Stir, or better yet close the jar and give it a good shake. Refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, remove the vanilla bean and stir well. Heat up in a pan on the hob or eat cold as is, with whatever toppings you fancy.

 

Breads and crackers

Cashew Nut Bread

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One of the most common questions that I get asked by my GAPS patients is … “what about bread?”

I have been trying for months to develop a GAPS-friendly bread recipe. Finally, I remembered a delicious cashew nut bread that I made at a Gluten-Free baking workshop I took a few years ago at Leiths School of Food and Wine, taught by the delightful Adriana Rabinovich of glutenfree4kids. With a few adjustments and a bit of trial and error, I came up with this grain-free version. It is lovely with a bit of sliced avocado, or smeared with honey, or dipped in olive oil, or just eaten plain right out of the oven.

Cashew Nut Bread (adapted with permission from a recipe by Adriana Rabinovich)

200 g cashew butter

6 eggs

50 g ground almonds

50 g coconut flour

35 g milled seed mix (such as Linwoods milled flaxseed, sunflower and pumpkin seed mix)

1/2 teaspoon salt (a bit more if your cashew butter is unsalted)

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Makes 10-12 slices

Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

Combine eggs and cashew butter in a large bowl and mix well.

In another bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Fold into the egg and cashew butter mixture, then transfer to a lined, greased loaf pan. I use a 25 cm silicone loaf pan greased with ghee (which is casein free), but you could also use a bit of sunflower oil to grease the pan. Smooth the top of the batter with a fork for an even surface.

Bake for approximately 35 minutes, then cool on a rack before removing from the loaf pan. This bread is best eaten within 24 hours.

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