Posts Tagged With: chocolate

Jungle Kopi Culture – Sampling Indonesia’s coffee revolution

Traditional village - Tana Toraja, Sulawesi

Traditional village – Tana Toraja, Sulawesi

There are so many striking things about Indonesia; the people are so friendly, warm and welcoming, the incredibly diverse cultures are ancient and fascinating, the landscape varied, and jaw dropping and somewhere steaming away in this heady mix is the coffee, something of a superstar in the waiting.

Of all the coffee giants in the world; Latin America, Africa, India etc, I feel Indonesia is slightly overlooked. Especially Sulawesi. You may see some packs of Java beans out there, but nothing much else. The variety of Indonesia’s coffee cornucopia is poorly represented and we’re missing out big time.

Indonesia has the perfect conditions for coffee (and cacao) growing.  Coffee and chocolate, what a combo!  There is a youthful espresso fuelled movement swinging into existence bringing quality coffee back to it’s roots and cherries, so to speak. Led by the sprawling megalopolis that is Jakarta, there is a growing trendy cafe culture over here, hip and buzzing, Indonesians are getting to enjoy their coffee and not just export it away.  We have been lucky to sample a bewildering array of brews and take in some plantations, each island produces very different styles of beans, within those islands are various regions, each with their own character and the tumbling coffee kaleidescope continues.

Perfect cremas are not always the case though. Many Indonesians don’t drink coffee as we Euro coffee snobs like it. The local brew is something like a long Greek/ Turkish coffee. Needing a few minutes to settle into a dark cuppa with some funky sludge greeting you towards the latter stages. It is normally pretty decent, better than packet instant, but this new roasted and toasted trend is very exciting.  Young guys with hipster quiffs and girls wearing brightly coloured hijabs let loose on Italian-made coffee machines to extract the maximum wow and yum. Jakarta is filling up with bespoke cafes and the big chains are lumbering in; Starclucks are making their insidious presence felt and bizarrely use beans from Guatemala!! Speaks volumes.

Jack fruit burger with sweet potato fries- It's not just the coffee that awesome in Indonesia

Jack fruit burger with sweet potato fries- It’s not just the coffee that awesome in Indonesia

TANA TORAJA – A COFFEE AFICIONADO”S PARADISE

So Toraja is a remote region in Central Sulawesi, one of the largest islands in Indonesia, roughly the same size as France and basically, one big jungle. Toraja is reached by spectacularly rutted and windy roads, a mountainous region famous over here for producing some of the best Arabica in the country and is also home to an incredible tribal culture (see here).

Coffee is not a big deal in Toraja, they may drink it occasionally and most of the traditional houses in villages (see the top photo) had a little ornate wooden pot full of ground coffee. The beans are normally roasted in a steel pan over an open fire, which leads to inconsistent heat and inevitably a mixture of burnt and raw beans. I have tried roasting beans using this method in Luzon, Philippines and is seems that no matter how much care you take, there is little chance of avoiding charred bits with pale interiors. This could be why the Torajan’s didn’t generally cherish their beans.  The same could be said of cacao (chocolate beans) which also grows everywhere, their brilliantly red and yellow pods poking out of the canopy.

A friend told me about a Belgian couple who brought some local people a selection of fine European chocolates. The village Torajan’s were amazed that these bitter little beans had been fashioned into something so delicious. A chocolate revolution is surely the next step for Indonesia’s foodie folk, probably with some cacao smoothies along the way.

Some many Indonesia varieties to choose from, freshly ground to order

Some many Indonesia varieties to choose from, freshly ground to order

One of the largest towns in Toraja is Rantepao and this is were we met two of our coffee superheroes, Mika and Eli. Eli runs a tiny coffee roasting business and cafe with his wife, Kaana Toraya Coffee, using a perfectly eclectic range of machinery that he built himself and techniques he learnt from a Hawaiian tourist in the early 90’s. Eli has made two roasters, the largest one powered by a large water wheel. A stroke of engineering genius. It is very peaceful to sit and watch it in action. The sound of flowing water and the tantalising aromas of coffee beans roasting. The equipment may look a little basic and battered in places, but the outcome is sensational and very high quality. We tried the traditional style of beans, dried leaving the husks on and also the standard washed style bean that we are familiar with, but then the bombshell came calling, Hani! Hani is a technique that I feel would be huge in the coffee shops and nooks of Europe and beyond.

Elli's water wheel powered coffee roaster. Ingenius!

Elli’s water wheel powered coffee roaster. Ingenius!

HANI – A NEW STYLE OF COFFEE

The word sounds like honey and the flavour is like honey, much sweeter and fragrant than a washed bean. It is achieved by leaving the natural juices, released by the coffee berries when being picked and processed, on the coffee bean when drying (over here this is generally done on huge racks under the sun or in small quantities by the side of the road). This means that the berry is darker in colour. Dried pre-roast coffee beans are actually a yellowy green colour. These hani beans smell strongly of honey! It’s magic!! Especially for a vegan!!!

Eli and his wife kindly sold us a small bag of Hani for our backpacks, we are travelling with a little cafetiere contraption that means when we get a bit remote mountain cave or deserted island hammock we can still enjoy a top cup of joe. Eli loves exporting his families organic, hand picked coffee all around the world, if you’re in the business, you’ve got to try some Hani beans! Something truly unique. Also, you will never find a man who smiles more than Eli. Its highly infectious:)

Eli's extra special 'hani' coffee - tastes like honey

Eli’s extra special ‘hani’ coffee – tastes like honey

After being immersed in the full coffee story, from bush to mug, we felt like a little sunset stroll around town. Rantepao is a dusty little place, clustered around a busy main thoroughfare. Tourism has made it’s presence felt and there are a couple of biggish hotels, normally catering for large tour groups. There is an impressive protestant church beside a slightly larger bright green mosque, there is a bustling bazaar selling everything from knocked off Rip Curl t-shirts to locally grown spices and finely carved machetes. On each street corner you’ll find the ubiquitous fried snack vendour, giant pans of oil bubbling away inches from frantic swathes of traffic. Pisang Goreng (Fried Bananas wrapped in a light pastry) are famous here and served in a number of ways, all sweet and tantalising. You’ve also got the usual piles of battered tempeh, tofu, corn fritters and sometimes chicken.

We were enjoying the energy and smiles encountered, many children and teenagers were practicing for their Independence day parades, something like a mass cheerleader-athon mixed with an army cadet march. All mini well pressed uniforms, papier machete tanks and tiara clad back flips. Many proud parents watching on beside Denis’s Massage Parlour, Jane and I causing minor waves of excitement, everyone shouting “Mr, Mr, hey Mr”.  This is a normal reaction to tourists in Indonesia.  Jane is also a Mr it seems! We have now posed for hundreds of selfies which, most of the time, is a real laugh.

From bush to cup, you get the whole coffee experience in Indonesia

From bush to cup, you get the whole coffee experience in Indonesia

JAK KOFFIE – JIMI HENDRIX & AMERICANO

It was by pure chance that we found Jak coffee, not much more than a doorway on a side street. The brilliant graffiti caught our attention. We instantly realised that it was a special little place, the decor was really cool and Mika (the main man) had the biggest, warmest smile on his face. It is not uncommon in Indonesia to find cafes with rows of jars, filled with freshly roasted beans to choose. A rare treat for sure! Mika was playing some great tunes and had painted a large picture of Jimi Hendrix on the wall. Never a bad interior design idea!  The walls are lined with Mika’s work, he’s really a photographer moonlighting as a barista, plus the occasional antique lampshade or red phone.

Mika is very knowledgeable about most things it seems and spoke passionately about local history and culture, bringing life to it all, we learnt more in 1 hour than we did in 1 month of travel. This was the real story of Indonesia, right now, from the people creating the new waves and shapes.  My Americano was mindblowing; rich and deep, made with organic beans from the East of Toraja. Maybe you think a cup of coffee cannot border on or even tickle the mindblowing.  This was a coffee bomb!!  The flavours and aromas were intense.  Having said that, it was my fourth coffee of the afternoon and most things were a little intense.  Mika picks and chooses who he buys from, keeping things fresh, organic and interesting.  I have never seen someone take so much care over making a coffee.  The process elevated to an art form.

Jimi

Jimi

‘NO COFFEE MAFIA PLEASE!’

You have probably not heard about Torajan coffee, primarily because large corporations from Japan and China buy it all up and make it into generic rubbish. This obviously means that prices are low and farmers suffer. There is no fair trade in these parts. Mika is fighting the good fight himself and attempting to showcase what Toraja can really do, saying “NO coffee mafia please!”  We loved his passion which sparked off in all kinds of directions.  He even had signs (see below).

Mika and his friends also bake some amazing cakes; stout brownies, chocolate croissants. The local crowd are loving to experiment with new styles of cooking. Anyone fancy a croissant sandwich?  This is anti-Starclucks world, local people taking control of their produce and making something bespoke and high quality (and a few bucks) with bags of good ethics and integrity.

No mafia coffee please

No mafia coffee please

Jak Koffie is a slightly surreal experience really (in a good way), it’s like steeping through a hip portal, you feel like you’ve been transported to Soho, London or Gothica, Barcelona.   That is until you step outside and are nearly taken out by a twelve year old on a motorbike eating a fried banana. Mika is like Indonesia’s answer to a fully caffeinated, cheery Che Guevara and I wish him my wholehearted best and hope we’ll soon see the amazing coffee’s of Toraja in more Western shops and cafes.

If you’re in Toraja, Jak cafe is a must. An a urban chic oasis in the endless steaming jungles of Sulawesi. You’ve also got to try Hani coffee, a totally new coffee drinking experience.  Rantepao is a great place to sample the old and new faces of Indonesia as they mingle and take flight.  The only negative that we’ve encountered in Indonesia is a short visa and it’s now leave.  Selamat Tinggal!

Jak coffee - one of the best cafes we visited in Indonesia

Jak Koffie – one of the best cafes we visited in Indonesia

 

Jak has no website yet but you can find more info and contact details here.

Categories: photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Decadent Double Chocolate Cake

Decadent Double Chocolate Cake

Decadent Double Chocolate Cake

A really decadent vegan chocolate cake!  This is one we find any excuse to make.  Its a lovely light and rich cake smothered in a very silky, chocolaty icing.  I think you’re going to love it!!

Nigella Lawson certainly knows her way around a cake and this recipe is based on one from her new book. Thanks Nigella! Jane found it somewhere and is such a fan of sweet things, knew it would be a wonder.  It’s one of those recipes that any non-vegan would be amazed to find out had no eggs or dairy in. The texture is wonderful and the icing is a knockout.  I don’t always tell people things are vegan anyway.  It’s just shining, delicious food.  ‘Nuff said!

THE UK COOKING CREW

People like Nigella, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, Jamie Oliver and Rick Stein really kept me interested in cooking in my mid 20’s.  Mum normally had Rick and Nigella’s knocking around the house and Hugh was one of my favs. I remember him cooking things on open fires with antique looking pots dangling off his land rover and belting out ‘Baba O Riley’ by The Who with some proper chops. He seemed to be having a great time and it was infectious.  I loved the idea of grabbing a bunch of tomatoes from the green house and popping them straight into a pot.  That definitely sounded like the good life.

SIR JAMIE

A lady bought me Jamie’s first book in a hotel I used to work at, she knew I liked cooking and felt that a cheeky chap on a scooter would appeal.  I loved Jamie’s energy, skill and passion.  He didn’t go down stairs, he slid down bannister’s.  He tore stuff up, threw things, chopped things with his bare hands….  His carefree approach triggered something in me, I’d worked in a kitchen that was classically French, with big hats and all.  Simple, fresh and tasty food was where it was at and Jamie made it all accessible and fun.  That was one of the main things, it was FUN!  You didn’t have to take yourself or food seriously and this was surprisingly quite revolutionary.  Well done Sir Jamie (it can’t be long now lets face it with the sugar thing and all!!!)  Just one little question mate. When are you going fully vegan again????!  Jamie recently talked to Tim Shieff and came straight out and said that the future of food is plant-based.  Which was a really bold thing to say for a celeb chef but unfortunately, in his new book, there is not one vegan recipe.  Maybe the next one will be charged with plant power.  Fingers crossed.   I know that he loves vegan food and there are loads of vegan recipes over on Jamie’s site.

I used to try out loads of this crews recipes whenever I wasn’t working, which was quite a bit back then as I was a restaurant manager.  Cooking has always been a way for me to unwind and be creative.  I remember baking loads of Nigella cakes, there was one chocolate orange cake, oh! and who could forget the chocolate and guiness one.  I used to have it routinely for birthdays.  I just made some chocolate and stout cupcakes that I think you’ll like….coming soon.

Being a vegan chef now, I get the same feeling of inspiration that I did back in my early 20’s when I discovered the real joy of playing with pots and pans.  I can now check out these guy’s recipes and take them in a whole new direction.  The world of vegan cooking seems so vibrant and creative at the minute, I feel so lucky to be part of it.  It’s also great to see Nigella taking a step into the world of vegan baking.  There is an almost unlimited scope for brilliant baking without all that other, unnecessary stuff.  All you need is plants!!

THE MAIN EVENT

I make this Decadent Double Chocolate Cake recipe at least once a week in the kitchen and sometimes opt for a slightly less luxurious icing, a standard chocolate butter cream icing made using plant-based spread goes down very well (see below) and is a reasonable economy style option.  The team I work with in the retreat centre get quite excited when they see this on the menu, which cannot be a bad thing (as long as there’s leftovers that is!)

If you try this recipe out, please let us know.  We’ll be over the moon to hear that you’re in a happy chocolate place.

Recipe Notes

The batter is wet here, don’t fret.  Use a tight fitting tin and line it well.  This will mean that the batter doesn’t sneak through.

Please, please (please), please…..do not open the oven door, no matter how curious you get, when baking.  Leave it for 45 minutes before peaking.  This cake is a good sinker, the bicarb makes it shoot up, but until its almost baked, will quite happily sag back down making it a bit on the heavy side.

Ovens vary and this batter takes a long time to bake but thats what gives the lovely crust and gooey middle.  A winner of a cake combo!  It may need another 10 minutes.

Unless its a special occasion, we normally substitute the coconut oil in the cake and icing for vegan sunflower or olive spread.  This works well, but lacks the ultimate richness and shine that coco oil gives.  We’d recommend treating yourself to a nice big jar of coconut oil.  Early Christmas present.

You can see that I also make a version of the cake in a rectangular tin, whatever you’ve got really.  A rectangular cake is easier to portion, but in this instance, is much wider than a circular cake tin.  This means less time in the oven as the mix is thinner.  Go with your cake instincts!

The economy version with a more everyday icing

The economy version with a more everyday icing

Have some fun with this one!!!!!

Decadent Double Chocolate Cake

The Bits – 1 large cake (10-12 slices)

225g white flour

2 tbs chickpea flour

1½ teaspoons instant coffee powder

80g cocoa

300g soft light brown sugar

1½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

½ teaspoon sea salt

375ml hot water

75g non-dairy spread or solid coconut oil

1½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar

Chocolate Icing

150g dark chocolate (finely chopped)

75g coconut oil

50g light brown sugar

60ml cold water

1½ tablespoons cocoa

Decoration (optional)

1 tbs edible rose petals or flowers

2 tbs chopped pistachios or almonds

1 tbs orange zest

Do It

Preheat oven 180oC and pop in a baking tray.

For the icing – Put all of the icing ingredients except the chopped chocolate into a heavy-based saucepan and bring to a gentle boil.  Stirring and ensuring all is dissolve. Then turn off the heat and add the chocolate, stir until melted and the icing is glossy. Leave to cool, stirring occasionally.

Line the bottom of a 20cm round springform/ loose bottomed cake tin (you will need a leak proof one, this is a wet batter) with baking parchment.

Place the flour, bicarb, salt, instant coffee, chickpea flour and cocoa in a bowl and mix together.

In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, hot (not warm) water, non-dairy spread/ coconut oil and vinegar until all has melted and is combined. Stir gradually into the dry ingredients, adding a little liquid at a time, then pour into the prepared tin and bake for 45-55 minutes.

Check after 45 minutes. When done, the cake will be coming away from the edges of the tin and a cake tester will come out clean, apart from a few crumbs. This is a fudgey style cake and you don’t want to overdo it.

Transfer the tin to a wire rack and let the cake cool in its tin.

Give the icing a good stir and check it is nice and thick, yet runny enough to spread on the cake. Pour over the cake and use a spatula to ease the icing to the edges.

A lovely light cake

A lovely light cake

Decorate the cake with scattering of pistachios, orange zest and edible flowers if you have them. Leave to stand for 30 minutes for the icing to set before slicing into the cake.

Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

This cake freezes well, without the icing. Wrap the fully cooled cake in a double layer of cling film and a layer of foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. To defrost, unwrap and place on a serving plate at room temperature for 3-4 hours. 

Pop some flowers on your cake - you won't regret it

Pop some flowers on your cake – you won’t regret it

Foodie Fact

For loads of information and nutritional facts about chocolate, or more specifically, cacao, head over to our previous post.  We had an almighty chocolate tasting recently and sampled all the wonders of cacao.

 

Categories: Baking, Cakes, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Desserts, photography, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , | 16 Comments

The big chocolate tasting and the thrills of real cacao

Mid chocolate scoff/ tasting

In the library at Trigonos – Mid chocolate tasting

Come join our chocolate feast!!!!  A group of dedicated chocolate enthusiasts (and keen amateurs) gathered together and tasted some of the best chocolate around.  We tried the finest single estate cacao, raw chocolate and some delicious milk chocolate and I’d like to share our findings and the thrills and joys of real cacao!  Definitely not your average chocolate.

There is a huge difference between a quality chocolate and what we normally find in the shops and we had the rare privilege of trying them all back-to-back and finding out what kind of chocoholic we were!  Some like chocolate with caramel notes, some prefer cacao with a hint of summer berries and we pretty much all loved the wild orange flavour.  Here are the results of an intensive tasting session involving some of Jane and I’s favourite chocolate producers.

One of the cooking demos at the vegan cooking retreat

One of the cooking demos at the vegan cooking retreat – Photo by Ashley Duckerin

We were lucky enough to host this chocolate tasting at our recent vegan cooking retreat.  Having assembled some of the most brilliant chocolate around we all tried to eat a small breakfast in preparation for the chocolate onslaught that lay ahead.  How could we fit it all in!?  There is no spitting chocolate out a la wine tasting (that would be way too gruesome and messy).  This was a stamina event for serious chocolate fanatics and aficionados only.

So much glorious chocolate on one table!!!

So much glorious chocolate on one table!!!

In reality, it wasn’t quite that dramatic.  There was a lot of nibbling going on and plenty of uuuuuuuuming and aaaaaaaaahhhing (in a good way).  A variety of ecstatic yelps and the occasional ooooooooh (thats normally a very good sign).  One thing is for sure, we had some clear winners that shone through and brought much smiles and happiness.

This choc-a-thon saw us taste a variety of chocolate from Willie’s Cacao, Ethicoco, Pana Chocolate and Choco Mama.  These guys are making some of the very best chocolate available in the UK.  I’d also like to mention Essy & Bella’s chocolate, who were definitely going to feature (we love em!) but time caught up on us.

Willie's Cacao specialise in sourcing amazing cacao beans and allowing their individual characters to shine through.

Willie’s Cacao specialise in sourcing amazing cacao beans and allowing their individual characters to shine through.

So let the tasting begin…..

DARK CHOCOLATE WINNER – WILLIE’S CACAO PERUVIAN GOLD ‘CHULUCANAS 70’

We started with unflavoured, unadulterated dark chocolate.  Pure, simple and potentially, absolutely sublime.  For me, as a slight chocolate snob (I am a cook after all) this is where chocolate begins and ends.  I love all chocolate, but this is its purest expression.  All the flavour of the cacao is there (hopefully) and we were lucky enough to be in contact with the wonderful Willie’s Cacao who supplied some sensational, single estate, chocolate bars especially for the purpose of sampling a range of cacao from different regions and countries.  We could really taste how the specific location of the cacao estate affected the flavour of the final bar.

It was clear that Willie’s had the dark chocolate comp covered with bars from Peru, Venezuela, Madagascar, Columbia and Indonesia.  Willie compares good cacao beans to fine wines, each estate capable of producing beans with unique, stunning and individual flavours.  Willie’s Cacao uses just raw sugar cane and natural cacao butter, no soya lecithin that can impair flavour.  Willie even owns a cacao estate in Venezuela and visits all the farms that supply his beans.  I love his approach and passion for chocolate.

It is a rare privilege to taste high quality products back to back, you can really appreciate the difference in flavours and textures.  Willie’s range of dark chocolate it stunning and it was difficult to pick a winner.  Eventually the Peruvian Gold ‘Chulucanas 70‘ came out on top with its distinct raisin-like flavour and deep, dark cacao taste.  A tiny piece is like a taste explosion in the mouth!

Really, all of Willie’s chocolate is a delight, with the pure taste of exceptional cacao in each bar.  He really does make chocolate from ‘bean to bar’ which many producers talk about, but few are scouring the jungles of Latin America and the world seeking new and interesting cacao beans.  Picking a favourite, well it really just depends of how you feel that day, there are flavours like caramel, nut, berries, fruits in each bar.  You’ll just have to have your own chocolate tasting to try the all!

(I have to say that my favourite Willie’s chocolate is the Indonesian Gold ‘Javan Dark Breaking 69’ which didn’t even make it to the tasting.  Very irresponsible of me, it just disappeared somewhere on route. In the car. YUM.)

The intrepid group of chocolate tasters and ace vegan cooks! Photo by Ashley Duckerin

The intrepid group of chocolate tasters and ace vegan cooks! Photo by Ashley Duckerin 

RAW AND FLAVOURED CHOCOLATES – WINNER PANA CHOCOLATE FIG AND WILD ORANGE

We then dove straight into the raw and flavoured chocolates and this was an equally difficult and exhaustive process, with repeat tastings needed to decided a winner (nobody seemed to mind this at all!)  Extra tea was drafted in….  We liked Choco Mama’s Mulberry Crunch flavour an interesting texture and dried mulberries are rarely seen in the UK.  Choco Mama is a small company based in glorious North Wales and we love trying their range of chocolate from our local health food store.  Their chocolate is hand made in small batches with fair trade cacao form co-ops in Bali and Peru.

choco mama

An interesting range of raw and fair trade chocolate made in Wales

However the clear winner in this section was Pana Chocolate’s Fig and Wild Orange.  They already produce a wonderful selection of chocolates with creative and surprising flavours and it seems that there are even more coming soon (I just checked out their website, Hemp and Nib is looking good).  The Fig and Wild Orange flavour received the the most votes by a long way and like all Pana Chocolate is so rich and silky.  We all loved the fragrant orange flavour coming from the orange essential oils.

Pana Chocolate make 'Chocolate that loves what’s within, as well as the earth it came from.'

Pana Chocolate make ‘Chocolate that loves what’s within, as well as the earth it came from.’

Ethicoco’s rich and creamy bar did gather quite a few votes but the majority of people were part of the dark chocolate persuasion and it was always up against it.  As a change, we will definitely be buying a few bars for a rainy day.  I also love the sound of their Chai Latte Flavour and at VegFest this year in London, I tried their range of dark chocolate which was also delicious.  We found that the oat milk makes this bar so creamy and it is not overly sweet, something I cannot forgive in a chocolate bar.  I like to taste the cacao not the sugar!  Ethicoco know their way around a top bar of chocolate for sure.

An aerial view of Trigonos taken from a drone (piloted by one of the course attendees), the retreat centre where the cooking workshop was held - North Wales

An aerial view of Trigonos taken from a drone (piloted by one of the course attendees), the retreat centre where the cooking workshop was held – North Wales – Photo by Ashley Duckerin

HOT CHOCOLATE HEAVEN

To top everything off with yet another dollop of chocolaty happiness, during our story telling evening with Claire, we made a massive bubbling pot of hot chocolate using a block of Willie’s 100% Venezuelan Black Cacao.  You basically grate the entire block (if you’re making for fifteen) over a pan of water and bring to a simmer.  The cacao does need cooking through for a while to allow it to melt and become silky smooth.  You can add some almond milk, but it’s creamy and rich as it is and is packed with pure cacao goodness.  As Willie says “Coffee is a poor mans hot chocolate” and when you try this hot chocolate, you can really see why.  The flavour is intense and the aroma, totally sensational.

I love using cacao in savoury cooking like stews and pies.  There is a ‘Smoked Chocolate and Beetroot Beans’ recipe in Peace & Parsnips which contains very dark chocolate.  You can try adding a few teaspoons of cocoa to a Mexican-style stew, it brings a new and interesting flavour to a bowlful of your favourite beans and goes especially well with smoked paprika or chipotle chillies.

cyl-venezuelan-carenero--e1427891943355

There is a rumour going round that bottles of rum where planted around the library at strategic points and this somehow made it into the hot chocolate.  I have no idea how that happened?!  So the scene is…..an open fire, a group of new friends, a wonderful story unfolding and a mug of rum laced hot chocolate from Venezuela…….it was a very special evening and the best possible way to spend the last night of our retreat.  We all had rosy cheeks and slept like babies.

So tasting chocolate is a hit (we thought it might be!) We couldn’t think of a better way to round off our vegan cooking retreat, with all those whoops and occasional sounds of sheer delight!  Great chocolate does that!!  Highlighting the power that brilliant, plant-based food can have on us.  It can bring so much joy and I’d like to thank all the chocolate suppliers for packing so much flavour, care, love and happiness into each little bar of chocolate.  It was all very much appreciated.

A cacao pod

A cacao pod – where every chocolate bar begins…

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF REAL CACAO

Cacao has been known as the ‘Food of the Gods’ for centuries in the Americas and it’s easy to see why.  The cacao tree produces big pods, where the cacao beans hide and grow.  Inside each cacao bean there is a cacao nib (for chocolate) and cacao butter (for chocolate, cosmetics etc).  Most chocolates are made with extra cacao butter, or things like soya lecithin, added to make the bar smooth.

Cacao is very high in anti-oxidants and essential nutrients although many of these can be lost when processed into chocolate or cocoa.  Some of the apparent health benefits of eating cacao are lowering high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, asthma, diarrhea, preventing wrinkles, liver, bladder and kidney disorders and many more.

The cacao bean is packed full of antioxidants, good fats, carbohydrates, protein, minerals like calcium, magnesium, sulfur, copper, iron, zinc and potassium.  They also contain oleic acid which is a heart-healthy essential mono unsaturated fat, fiber and vitamins E, B2, B1, B5, B3 and B9 as well as small quantities of vitamin A and C.  We think it’s incredible that something as decadent as chocolate, especially raw chocolate, is so wonderfully healthy.

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FULL CHOCOLATE TASTING RESULTS – TRIGONOS 4/3/16

Pana Chocolate – Fig and Wild Orange – 15 points

Willie’s – Peruvian Gold ‘Chulucanas 70’ – 5 points

Willie’s – Venezuelan Gold ‘Rio Carabe 72’ – 2 points

Choco Mama’s – Mulberry Crunch – 2 points

Ethicoco – Ugandan Oat Milk and Raisin – 2 points

Pana Chocolate – Nut – 2 points

Willie’s – Venezulean Gold ‘Las Trincheras 72’ – 2 points

Willie’s – Madagascan Gold ‘Sambirano 71’ – 1 point

Willie’s – Columbian Gold ‘Los Llanos 88’ – 1 point

——-

Willie’s – 100% Venezuelan Black Carenero Cacao (as hot chocolate) – Many, many points…….(plus extras with a glug of rum)

Thanks again to Willie’s Cacao, Ethicoco and Pana Chocolate for sending chocolate across to the BHK.  It is always wonderful to sample on the blog the products that we enjoy so much.

PS – Although Willie’s is not certified as vegan, I have spoken to them and they assure me that their dark chocolate it totally vegan.  

Categories: Cooking Retreats, Dairy/ Lactose Free, healthy, Nutrition, Organic, photography, Raw Food, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Ginger & Chocolate Treats (Simple festive fun)

Ginger & Chocolate Treats

Ginger & Chocolate Treats

This is a relatively inexpensive and super delicious festive treat or gift. These sweet thangs are warming and dangerously moreish. Add to that the fact that they only take a few minutes to get together and we have ourselves a Christmas classic! At least in the Beach House anyway. If you’re the kind of person who loves licking chocolate off things (who doesn’t!!!) then this is the one for you.

This recipe basically an assembly job, dipping crystallised ginger into dark vegan chocolate. The sweet ginger combined with the bitter chocolate is an utter sensation!

I find crystallised ginger way too sweet to eat as it is, so dipping it in chocolate is the perfect way to make it appealing to all. The process, like most festive cooking shenanigans, is loads of FUN! The ginger is also very warming we find, especially helpful up here in wild and wonderful Wales.

One part of Christmas that we love is the way that it focuses our minds on how we eat and how we can feed our loved ones. We tend to get more creative and throw ourselves into crafts, arts, baking, all sorts of activities that we maybe overlook in the year.

Pop these into little bags with fancy bows and you’ve got a gorgeous little crimbo pressie for loved ones, neighbours, work colleagues, the postie…….. With any leftover chocolate, why not pop a few nuts into the mix, or dried fruits. Walnuts are particularly satisfying as the chocolate sticks in the nobbles and bobbles of these funky nuts.

Recipe Notes

You may like to dust these treats with cocoa/ cacao or even cinnamon.

Ginger & Chocolate Treats - still a little soft to scoff

Ginger & Chocolate Treats – still a little soft to scoff

If you are short of time and still want to create some homemade magic, here we are:

The Bits

250g crystallised ginger
150g very dark chocolate (70-80% cocoa content is best)

Do It
Boil a kettle. Add boiling water to a small saucepan. Pop a glass bowl over the saucepan and gently warm the water. Break up the chocolate and pop in the bowl.

Stir and melt the chocolate until it has mostly melted. Keep stirring, the rest of the choc will melt.

Using a skewer (cocktail sticks are best) dip your ginger pieces into the just melted chocolate and place on a chopping board/ tray covered with greaseproof paper. Be sure to allow excess chocolate to drip off, shake it a little, so there is just enough to cover the ginger. Otherwise you’re left with a puddle of chocolate that sets in a funny shape (this however can look very cool!)

Leave to cool at room temperature and once the chocolate has solidified, eat one to test it. At least one……..Then bag up, pop in a sealable container, gift wrap………enjoy!!!!

Any spare chocolate?  Grab some nuts/ dried fruit and coat them for extra treats.

Nutty Chocolate Delights!

Nutty Chocolate Delights!

Foodie Fact

Although this recipe is by no means the healthiest one we’ll post, ginger is still ginger and has some shining bonuses to make our bodies smile.

Ginger is especially good for the digestive system, both soothing and inflammatory.  Ginger is also packed with anti-oxidant properties and is generally immune boosting and can help with nausea.  All of this sounds like a perfect reason to incorporate more ginger into our diets (these treats being the sweetest by a mile!)

Our little 'naff' tree sparkling away - our corner of chintz in the BHK

Our little ‘naff’ tree sparkling away

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gertrude’s Chocolate Cake filled with Dark Cherry Jam

Gertrude's Chocolate Cake filled with Dark Cherry Jam

Gertrude’s Chocolate Cake filled with Dark Cherry Jam

A quick one here that goes out to the Tasmania crew, Fran and Steve of The Road to Serendipity fame.  Fran has requested Gertrude’s (Jane’s Nan) recipe ever since seeing it on a previous post.  Well Fran, here it is, better late than later.  Soz…….

Just to rave about Fran and Steve for a moment, their blog is a massive slice of living off grid (with two cool dogs Bezial and the mighty Earl and bags of awesome looking food, nature, ideas, good livin’, love and plenty of peaceful vibrations).  They really are shining examples of living close to nature and Tasmania looks incredibly beautiful judging by their photos.  There can be few more dedicated and prolific bloggers than our Fran and we always appreciate her enthused feedback.  It is people like Fran who keep this little old blog rocking!  Cheers guys for your constant stream of inspiration and kindness.  You make the blog world a brighter place to be.

This recipe is taken from a scrap of paper written by Gertrude, who is no longer with us.  Gertrude lived to the ripe old age of 96 and dictated this recipe as Jane made it and Keith (Jane’s Dad) scribbled it all down word for word, quaint little sayings and all.  Goodness knows how many times this cake was made, Jane was brought up on it.  All of this means that this is a recipe we hold very dear and even closer to our hearts.  It also makes a lovely light chocolate cake and is ever so easy to make.

This will make one small sandwich cake, double the mix for a big ‘un.

The Bits

4oz margarine (good stuff), 4oz caster sugar, 1/2 teas vanilla essence, 2 eggs (beaten), 4 oz self raising flour (sieved), 1 heaped tbs cocoa (sieved), pinch salt, 1 teas milk (if needed)

Do It

Preheat oven to 190oC (360F)

In a mixing bowl, paste the margarine and caster sugar together with a wooden spoon.

Slowly add the eggs to the paste, stirring nicely.

Gently add the the flour and cocoa, fold into mix.

Add salt and milk if mixture is too dry, should be thick batter texture (that plops off a spoon).

Pour into two small round baking tins (6 inch) with marg rubbed on sides and bottom.  Use baking parchment if you don’t trust the non-stickness of your tin.

Clean out bowl with finger, give to Jane.

Get Nan to smooth it over.

Slam tins on table twice each.

Place in oven, 2/3 the way up.

Check in 1/4 hour with a wooden chopstick or skewer.  It should be clean when retracted.

Serve

We filled our with a fine dark cherry jam and grated dark chocolate on top. Although I hear Gertrude was quite partial to a little butter icing.

We Love It!

‘Cause Gertrude made it.

Foodie Fact

Eating cake makes you happy.

 

Categories: Baking, Budget, Cakes, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Dark Chocolate Masala Chai

Dark Chocolate Chai

Dark Chocolate Masala Chai

This is luxury chai (tea in English).  Packed with chocolate and spice, I can assure you they don’t drink it like this Chandhni Chowk (Delhi)!  But it’s a luxury take on the classic Indian masala chai recipe.

I have been playing around with my masala chai recipe for years and this is the best.  We normally drink it without the chocolate, this is just something for a very special treat.  The recipe works very well by itself.

Masala chai is more a potion, an elixir, than a mere hot beverage.  Add fresh chocolate shavings to the mix and you have something rather special indeed.  I have heard rumours about adventurous folk even adding a glug of brandy or whisky to it, I can imagine that to be quite a thing!

Masala chai basically means mixed spice tea and is normally brewed in the milk, rather than adding milk later.  It normally contains black tea, but we also love it with rooibos (for those not sipping caffeine).  Tea from Assam is best due to its dark orange colour and robust flavour.  Darjeeling tea is best reserved for drinking black or with a touch of milk, after all it is the champagne of teas don’t you know (normally meaning more expensive and well marketed!)

The best masala chai in India, between Ram and Laxman Jhula, Rishikesh, India.

The best masala chai in India, between Ram and Laxman Jhula, Rishikesh, India.

Indians now drink the most amount of tea in the word, chai (tea) is part of Indian everyday life and chai wallah’s (like Starbucks but more low-key and infinitely better) dot every street side around the country.  Thats over 1 billion people hooked on the spicy sweet goodness of chai and its really all down to the Brits.  Tea has always been grown up near Darjeeling and Assam in the wet and wonderful northeast of India, but it was the Brits who began to plant it on an industrial scale and ship it back.  What a meddling lot we were!

Darjeeling Tea in Darjeeling at tea time.  Fabulous!

Darjeeling Tea in Darjeeling at tea time. Fabulous!

Sweetening chai is a must and we like to use jaggery if we can get it or dark sugar.  Honey is also lovely and as usual, we avoid that white powdery stuff like the plague.

Star anise, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg……this is truly a magic potion and it tastes pretty darn magic too.  I love this combination of spices and if you can get them all fresh and whole, the chai will be much better for it.  Powders are decent, but a proper chai should be simmering for hours and all of those massive flavours infused.

We have used soya milk here because we like the taste, but any of your favourite milks will be fine.

Chai should be taken from small tea cups or even glasses, definitely not mugs.  Chai is to be slurped and enjoyed, made a fuss of and very much savoured.  The smaller the tea cup the better (almost espresso size), this also has the advantage of prolonging chai time.

If you enjoy a chai latte every now and again, its probably made from a syrup and therefore bogus.  This is the real deal, with chocolate on top!

Bring on the potion!

The Bits

Makes one large sauce pan full, enough for 8 small cups.

Beach House Chai contains:

1 stick of cinnamon, 4 star anise, 6 green cardamom pods, 4 cloves, 2 heaped teas grated ginger, 1/2 teas ground nutmeg, 1 teas all spice, 3/4 litre of milk, 1/3 litre water, 3 good black tea bags (assam preferable, loose leaf tea is alot better and more traditional), 2 heaped tbs jaggery/ dark brown sugar or sweetener of choice (chai should be served nice and sweet)

Many other spices can be added including fennel seeds, cumin seeds (very warming), peppercorns, saffron, liquorice or even rose….the list goes on and each area of India has a particular favourite.

Do It

This masala chai recipe can be made well in advance, sometimes we’ll make it in the afternoon in preparation for after dinner chai time.

Get the water boiling in a large saucepan, add all the spices and turn down to a rolling simmer, leave for at least 20 minutes for the flavours to infuse (longer is better).

Now add milk, bring to a boil and then add your tea leaves/ tea bags.  Stir in and help the tea infuse.  Leave until you are happy with your chai shade, deeper is better.  Remove tea bags and stir in your sweetener and chocolate.

Taste and adjust sweetness, you may add a little more all spice at this stage if its lacking in potency.   Chai should be a perfect balance of spicy, sweet and tea-y.

Leave to simmer all day if you like, but when the sugar and chocolate are added, best served soon.

Serve

In little cups with plenty of slurps and great conversation.  A biscuit would be nice!

We Love It!

This chocolate masala chai adds a whole new level to the chai experience, its a dessert in a cup and with that amazing mix of spices is the perfect antidote to a grey March day.  Indulge!

Foodie Fact

Black tea is the oxidised leaf of the tea bush, if it wasn’t oxidised it would be green tea (which makes sense!)  Black tea has many health benefits and considerably less caffeine than coffee.  It has a high level of anti-oxidants, it boosts the immune system, helps the heart and even lowers the level of stress hormones.  What a grand cuppa!

Tunes

Making chai in your home, you need some real India rajas to get the spices flowing.  Here is the late and and sorely missed Ravi Shankar playing with his daughter Anoushka:

 

 

Categories: Recipes, Tea | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vegan Chocolate and Almond Ice Cream

One big pile of Vegan Chocolate Nut Ice Cream

The Beach House Kitchen is definitely rustic.  Not in the manufactured ‘rustic’ sense of the word, I mean we have sheep invading our front garden and no coffee shop within a half hour drive.  The wind howls and we regularly have horses looking into our bathroom window (which can be quite a shock when you’re getting out of the shower!).  We live out here and it’s beautiful!

I try and convey this country feel in our pictures, I just don’t have the gadgets (and time) to make our food look so polished.  I am in awe of many blogs that manage to make any dish look like food of the Gods.  When it’s so grey outside, taking photographs of food just doesn’t do the dish justice.  One blog who constantly dazzles with its photographs and gorgeous food is 84th&3rd.  This recipe is inspired by their Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream recipe.   This is one of those food blogs that is so delicious and sexy, you just want to try out all of the recipes.

This is an amazing recipe that will blow anybody away.  Vegan or otherwise.  Even the hardest of hardcore Ben and Jerry lovers will be impressed with this ice cream.  It is a wonder, with purely natural and healthy ingredients.  Good fats and sugars ahoy!

The Beach House additions to this recipe were mainly nutty.  Almonds to be exact, although pecan and cashews would be lovely also.  We used soaked almonds here, the soaking brings out the nutrients and also makes them nice and plump and soft, ready for blending.  Soak your nuts!  It helps.

Cacao powder is a great investment, a little costly, but a small spoonful goes a long way.  It is surprisingly chocolaty and opens a doorway into much sweet experimentation.  Contrary to popular misconception, vegan ice cream can be rich and we’ve turned to the old favourite, avocado, to give things that creamy richness that diary normally would.

Cacao Beans

Cacao or Cocoa?

Cacao is not cocoa, cocoa is not cacao. They are very similar in every way, which can be confusing, but one way they differ greatly is nutritionally. Cacao is raw, meaning not heated to an extent that fragile enzymes and nutrients are destroyed, cocoa is heated (although still very tasty).  Raw chocolate is brilliant for the body (in moderation) and big slab of Cadbury’s just ain’t so great.

Try to buy organic with your cacao, they use a load of pesticides and bad things in cacao growing.  There’s no point going healthy and opting for a chemical cocktail, it will probably be the matter of a few pennies more.

Bananas (not ripe yet)

Bananas

The bananas here, and in general, should be getting towards brown.  Some brown spots and a nice soft banana is important.  They will be alot sweeter and better for you (I won’t bore you with the science of it this time, see the ‘Foodie Fact’ for that).  Most places sell bananas way to early, meaning we eat them far too early.  We try and buy bananas a week in advance so they are nicely ripened when we get around to them.  Bananas are an essential part of any healthy foodies diet.  They are so packed with sugar and can add super sweetness to all kinds of things.  No added sugar required when a banana is in town.  It  is a nice idea to keep some bananas (and fruit in general) chopped and ready in the freezer.  It keeps them fresh and is perfect for making smoothies etc.

This recipe is so easy to prepare, no need for an ice cream blender (which is surely a dust trap/ counter clutterer waiting to happen).  It just needs a little stirring and a freezer and you have a gorgeous, very chocolaty ice cream.

You may like to add even more chocolate to this recipe, just bash up a bar of your favourite dark chocolate or add cacao nibs for the healthier touch.  This adds some nice crunchy bits, as does the almonds.  If you like a smoother ice cream, just blend for longer.

Jane sneaks in

The Bits

1 cup soaked almonds (overnight), 1 ripe avocado, 2 large frozen bananas (chopped up), 1/4 cup cacao powder, pinch good sea salt (we use halen mon tahitian vanilla sea salt), 1 tsp maple syrup/ honey, 3 tbsp bashed up dark chocolate or cacao nibs (for serious chocolate fiends only)

Do It

Blend up the almonds first for a minute then add your banana, avocado and salt using a food processor until smooth.  Chop up the rest of the almonds into rough looking pieces and stir them through with cacao powder until well combined.  Add maple syrup/ honey. Stir through chocolate chunks/ cacao chips if using.

Pour into an old ice cream container, or something of those dimensions. Stir every 30 minutes or so, breaking up frozen bits and mixing until smooth. Do this approximately four times if you can.  You may also like to dust off and put into use your ice cream maker here.

Set out for 15 or 20 minutes to soften slightly before using, it is easier to scoop this way. Sharing is optional.

Serve

We had ours with blueberries and chopped banana, with a little more chopped almonds on top.

We Love It!

The texture of this ice cream is so rich and has a lovely smooth nuttiness.  We cannot believe how healthy and delicious it is, we will be making more of this.  Alot more.

Foodie Fact

When bananas ripen proto-pectin is converted into digestible, soluble pectin and starch is also converted into sugars of which 20% is glucose, 14% is fructose and the remaining 66% is sucrose.

Bananas give off a large amount of ethylene, which helps fruits ripen.  If you have any fruits  that need ripening, pop them in a bowl with the bananas and wait a day.  They use this ethylene to turn green oranges orange.  Many people don’t like the look of a green orange, even though they are ripe.  We do funny things with our food!

Bananas also contain our happy friend trytophan, that converts to serotonin and makes us shine.  See our ‘Mood Foods….’ post for more info on happy veggie foods.

Categories: Desserts, Recipes, Summer, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Willie’s Cacao Roasted Pepper and Chilli Harrisa with Caramelised Roots

Willie’s Cacao

I loved the sound of this recipe, it really fired my inspiration.  I was excited to give it a try, the combination of bitter cacao with sweet roasted peppers sounded like a wonderful thing.  

I have just come to realise that I have the wrong cacao, I have the chocolate cacao and not the cacao cacao that is needed (that’s the 100% variety).  With no new cacao (I love that word!) on the horizon I have decided to share this with you all, without even tasting it.  I am so confident it will be amazing, I just want to pass it on and hopefully you may give it a go.

Over to Willie…………… 

“I love chillies, but I don’t like them so hot that I cannot taste anything else. So I’ve added roasted sweet red pepper to this sauce to balance the heat of the chillies. However, it is always hard to judge how hot chillies will be as they vary so much. You can reduce the heat of the chillies in this recipe by deseeding about a third of them before using or, if you want the sauce quite mild, halve the amount used. This is a great accompaniment to oily fish, lamb and pork, including sausages. You could also serve it with a Moroccan tagine.”  (Or lovely roasted roots a la Beach House.)

Makes 600ml

16 long red chillies
4 large red peppers
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
150ml extra virgin olive oil
10g Madagascan Sambirano Superior 100% cacao
1 tbsp Cacao Nib Balsamic Vinegar, or good quality balsamic vinegar
Salt

Preheat the oven to 250°C.

Roasted Peppers (theshiksa.com)

Wrap the chillies in a double layer of foil and place on a baking tray. Put the unwrapped red peppers alongside them on the same tray. Roast in the hot oven for about 25 minutes, or until the peppers are slightly blackened and soft. Allow to cool slightly, then peel and deseed the red peppers. Remove the chillies from the foil, but leave whole, just removing any stalks. Put both the chillies and peppers in a blender or food processor and whizz to make a rough purée (don’t overwork; leave a little texture). Set on one side.

Toast the cumin seeds in a dry frying pan until they smell fragrant. Tip them into a mortar and crush with a pestle to a coarse powder.

Place the puréed peppers and the chillies in a large saucepan, add the powdered cumin and the olive oil. Bring the mixture to the boil over a medium heat, then simmer gently until the sauce has reduced by about a half. You will find the oil separates out. Remove from the heat, add the cacao, balsamic vinegar and salt to taste and stir until well combined. Spoon the hot harissa into warm sterilized jars, allow to cool slightly, then seal. This sauce should keep for at least 3 months in a cool place.

I would serve this beautiful harissa with some oven roasted roots; sweet potato, carrots and swede would perfect.  Imagine the colours!

Original post can be found here.

We will be trying this one soon, just need to get some of that lovely cacao and we’re off into the wonderful world of savoury chocolate cooking.  

Categories: Dinner, Recipes, Sauces, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Willie’s Cacao Chocolate Tasting Challenge

Our stash of Willie’s Chocolates

Ladies and Gentleman, we have arrived in chocolate heaven………

Willie’s World Class Cacao chocolate is the best we have ever tasted.  No mincing our words here, its the best.  Hands down.  The champagne of the chocosphere, you know it’s the best by its ‘bite’.  One crisp, crack and you instinctively know that good things are going to happen in your mouth.

No cheese, ho booze, no coffee, no sweat.  No chocolate, well that’s an existence you can count me out on.  As Willie says “Coffee is a poor mans cacao” and I tend to agree.

Yes, we are eating chocolate again, with great relish and delight.  We have thrown ourselves back into the world of those fabulous brown chunks with gusto and started right at the top with a Willie’s chocolate tasting session.  We lined up some lumps of quite amazing cacao and gave our taste buds a real treat.  For moments, we had died and gone to chocolate heaven.

Passion is infectious and Willie has it in giant spades.  I remember seeing him in Selfridges (big posh shop in London) being animated and charming about all things chocolate and the very finest cacao.  Willie has a mission in this life and its very chocolaty.  I liked him straight away, its rare to see anybody so consumed and charged by something, the fact that this something was chocolate, only made me warm to him more.

I then watched the documentary style TV programme that followed him to his hacienda and cacao farm in Venezuela where he seemed to be a one man army, defending us all against the abomination of substandard cacao.  Willie was so driven to succeed against all odds and many wild and wonderful set backs.  The story of this chocolate is to follow your dreams, no matter what gets in your way or what they may be.  Don’t waver and have faith.  In chocolate!  This definitely adds to the flavour!

Willie has scoured Latin America looking for the finest cacao trees to re-plant and discovered a small plantation, surrounded by coffee trees, that had not cross pollinated with the newer types of cacao trees (some of those high yield, low quality varieties that modern farming is dominated by).  He took them back to his hacienda and ended up planting 10,000 of them (told you he is driven!).

Cacao is great for us and Willie uses only the finest cacao and a little sugar and thats it.  No hidden nasties in there or chemicals at all.  He also sells the cacao pure, 100%, that is best used in cooking or hot chocolate (it is a little on the bitter side).

Willie

He brings all of these beans back to this little grey island and feeds them into his collection of old chocolate making machinery (slower than the modern machines, but better for taste).

Willie’s chocolate is not the cheapest, you wouldn’t expect it to be, but if you are looking for the best, I think its probably worth splashing out the extra .50p on something truly amazing!

If you don’t believe any of these claims, check out Willie’s brilliant website.  You’ll find a real feast for the eyes, it a stunner, you’ll also find many recipes for cooking with chocolate and not just desserts either.  Savoury dishes with the 100% cacao.  We’ll be giving some a go soon, so keep your eyes peeled.

My first taste of chocolate in a savoury dish was in Mexico, up a mountain somewhere south, lost and hungry.  It was actually raining as well.  A kind hearted lady opened her front room for us and begin to whip up something that looked like a chocolate and banana sauce, mixed with a casserole.  My first Mole Poblano and I will never forget it.  Dark and rich, with the bitterness of the chocolate, sweetness of banana and the potent chilli punch, it was a rare taste explosion.  A combination and sensation that cannot be repeated in any dish.

One of Willies farmers

Back to chocolate as we know and love it, here are Jane and I’s tasting notes for the chocolate frenzy/tasting:

Indonesian (Javan Light Breaking)

Lee – Love that crack and crunch, gorgeous (this was repeated many times during this tasting), light flavour, lighter than most chocolates with a lovely caramel-ness to it.  

Jane – Tastes like caramelised treacle, so, so smooootthhh.

YYYYYYYYuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm….

Venezuelan Gold (Hacienda las Trincheras)

Lee – Rich, really rich, wow,  a real full flavour that goes on and on…..more intense than the Indonesian and super velvety.  Gorgeous (again!)

Jane – More chocolaty, more flavour and complexity, super luxury chocolate, super rich.  

MMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm  (eyes closed and slightly erotic noise).

Madagascar (Sambriano Superior)

Lee – Really, wow, very, very nice.  Thats amazing.  Very nice.  Fruity, a little blackcurranty and was that a raspberry!

Jane – Fruit, yes fruit, delicate flavour, no words (just noise of delight)

DELECTABLE……moving on….

Ginger Lime (Sierra Leone)

Lee – Reminds me of Christmas, I prefer the other, unadulterated stuff.  Still very, very fine and zesty.

Jane – A bit like ginger nuts!  Heavenly.

Peruvian (San Martin)

Both –  AMAZING CHOCOLATE!!!! (dumbstruck looks and lost for words……)   

(Due to intense chocolate overload, at this stage the tasting turned into a giant scoff/ farce and we lost track of which was chocolate went with which wrapper.  Meaning the other bars tasted all get a 9.96 out of 10 and a big thumbs up from us.)

Best Overall

Lee  – Has to be the Indonesian, maybe because it was first to be tasted.  I loved the sweet caramel flavours and the general lightness of the chocolate, something really different and not achieved completely naturally.  I would also like to visit Indonesia one day soon.

Jane – Venezuelan.  The richness, so, so dark and packed full of flavour.  The loveliest and purest flavour.  REAL chocolate.

This was only a small taster of the full range which you’ll find a doorway to here.

Enjoying Willie’s chocolate makes you part of a very special adventure; one mans dream, now boxed up by old clanking machines and available on supermarket shelves.  This is our kind of food success story.  Chocolate is important and Willie’s is chocolate at its most inspiring and delicious best.

Categories: B.H.K Reviews, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Raw Chocolate and Black Olive Torte

Raw Chocolate and Black Olive Torte

Now this one really blew us away.  An unusual sounding combo that works out in the most fantastic way.  The dark and rich cacao blends perfectly with the fruity flavour of the olive; which of course adds a beautiful, pureed texture.  This torte is moist and decadent and will convince any raw food sceptic, that raw food is not just about carrot sticks!  You can most definitely indulge.

One of the most surprising aspects of raw food has been the desserts.  They are a real knockout!  So full of goodness, you need to eat them in moderation.  The usual base ingredients of nuts and dried fruits means that  they are high in fats and sugars, but remember, they are all good fats and sugars.  Non of that processed and refined rubbish that is alien to our bodies.  These desserts are very, very good sources of energy.

The preparation of this torte is simple, but does take a little time.  We love using fresh coconut, but it can be a job getting into one (see the recent ‘How to dispatch a coconut’ post).  Once the coconut is sorted out, the rest is just an easy exercise in blending and enjoyment.

Psyllium husks are not your average larder stock, you may need to visit your local health food store.  They do make the whole mix set well.  I am sure it will be delicious without them, just a little soft around the edges.

This torte keeps well, even the banana in the crust seems to keep its colour and flavour.  We took it down to Pembrokeshire on tour and enjoyed slices of it whilst sheltering from the wind in our little orange tent.  These raw desserts are hardy.

This recipe comes from the brilliant ‘Eat Smart, Eat Raw‘ book by Kate Wood.   The recipe makes around 12 servings.

The Bits

Base – 200g fresh coconut, 125g ground cashews, 1 banana

Filling – 300g plain black olives (drained and pitted), 450g dates, 30g carob powder (or cacao powder), 1 tbsp grain coffee, 1 tbsp ground cinnamon, 1 tbsp vanilla extract, 180ml water, 2 tbsp powdered psyllium husks.

 

Our well used blender

Do It

Base – chop coconut in a food processor, add the ground cashews and process both until well mixed, put the banana in a chunk at a time until it binds together nicely (you may not need the whole banana).  Line the mix in a cake tin (around 9in).

Filling –  break down the olives in the food processor, add the dates and process until a paste is formed.  Then add the carob, grain coffee, cinnamon and vanilla and blend again.  Keep it running and add the water gradually, finally add the psyllium and after a minute turn off and immediately spoon onto the base before the psyllium starts to set.  Spread out evenly and leave in the fridge to firm for a few hours.

We Love It!

Yet another gourmet raw dessert.  At this rate we will be gaining weight on this raw diet (with big chocolaty grins on our faces).

Foodie Fact

Psyllium husks are portions of the seed of a plant.  They are mucilaginous, which basically means that  they thicken things up.  They are great for the colon and better blood circulation.  They can be used in vegan baking and help to bind mixtures together.   These husks are also used in a popular detox drink that involves clay, Bentonite clay that is volcanic and has many detoxing properties.

Raw Chocolate and Black Olive Torte

Categories: Cakes, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Detox, gluten-free, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Raw Chocolate Brownie with Rich Chocolate Icing

Raw Chocolate Brownie with Chocolate Sauce

This rich slice of brownie goodness just made my DAY!! Thank you to The Rawtarian for the idea!  After seemingly forever without any chocolate (it feels like a very long time ago since we did the Willies Cacao and Chocolate tastings – our favourite chocolate in the world!) Lee treated me to this yummy dessert. After all we couldn’t go on a raw diet without experimenting with a broad range of food including LUXURY puddings could we? J Hehehe!

Whilst munching our way through half a slab last night we concluded the only bad thing is the amount of sugar it contains (from the dates) and fats (from the coconut oil and the nuts…) It is unbelievable to think there is no butter, cream or chocolate in this recipe; it tastes just so rich.

But because it’s all healthy ingredients; it is still no crime to while the evening away with a delicious huge slab and a tasty cup of sweet vanilla rooibush tea to accompany it! And that’s exactly why I love this recipe – it’s naughty tasting healthy food!! Woo-hoo!

In the bits, we used soaked almonds instead of pecans and it worked out very nicely.  We were lucky to have a few coconuts hanging around, so we were privileged to used fresh coconut and shredded it in our coffee grinder.  The star of this recipe though is the salt (it is not often you say that!), Halen Mon Tahitian Sea Salt.  We’ve been waiting to use this since we tried it in a ‘Dark Chocolate Ricotta’ recipe a few months ago.  It really brings out the flavour of the chocolate and adds subtle hint of vanilla.

This recipe makes a great base for other desserts and can also be easily rolled up into dark chocolate truffles.

This is so packed full of energy, with the dates and nuts alone, if you planing on  running any marathons in the near future, we highly recommend this for dessert the night before.  You will break records!

The Bits

Brownie – 1 cup pecans (you can use walnuts in a pinch, but pecans are much better!), 1 cup dates, 5 tablespoons raw cacao (cocoa) powder, 4 tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1/2 teas Halen Mon Tahitian vanilla sea salt (normal sea salt is fine)

Chocolate Icing- 1 cup dates, 1/4 cup raw cacao (cocoa) powder, 1/4 cup cold-pressed coconut oil (also known as coconut butter), 3/4 cup water (or a tiny bit more if needed)

Do It

Brownie – Add the nuts to your blender and whizz until broken down, then add dates and blend for a minute, add all other ingredients and continue to whizz away until the mixture turns a lovely shiny dark brown, not too buttery (you should still be able to see bits of nuts).  You may need scrape the mixture from the side of the blender to ensure that all is blended nicely.

Press down into a suitably rectangular container (cake tin will do) and press down evenly so the mixture evenly covers the base.  Cover and refrigerate, this mix keeps its shape well and even looks like a brownie!

Chocolate Icing –  Could not be easier, soften your dates in the water for an hour before blending.  This makes them softer and easier going.  Then add all ingredients to the blender and whizz up. Start slowly and build up the speed, blend for a while, until the icing begins the shine and no dates can be seen (roughly 5 minutes).   If needed, turn off the blender and scrape the icing down from the sides.  Viola, a rich icing that would grace any dessert!

Raw Chocolate Brownie

Serve

We keep the chocolate sauce separate, in a sealed container, and spread onto the chunks of brownie when cut.  Both the brownie and the sauce keep well in the fridge for a while.   Otherwise, this needs no additions, just a few sweet teeth and a nice cuppa!

We Love It!

Deep, rich and velvety.  This is a stunning recipe that keeps well and only gets better with age.  It is incredibly dense and a little goes a long way, meaning more days of decadent brownie time, which is never a bad thing.  The icing is also very versatile and has an almost mousse-like texture that melts in the mouth.

Foodie Fact

To the Aztecs, the cacao bean was the food of the Gods.  Raw cacao is bitter ad is normally sweetened, it is the main ingredient of chocolate and boasts many health benefits.

Cacao produces much the same effect as caffeine, yet milder and non-addictive.  It stimulates the brain to produce a gentle euphoria via a release of endorphins.  It also contains very high levels of antioxidants.

Like much of the research on foods, the science is ever changing and the cacao bean seems to be a contentious topic.  The general opinion though is that it’s a superfood and dark chocolate, even when processed, contains many health benefits.

Categories: Desserts, Raw Food, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Why are we raw this June!

Raw June is here for the Beach House.  Jane and I are going cold veggie (and fruit) for the entire month and we both cannot wait to get going.

It really has come around quickly this 100% raw/vegan June adventure.  We have both been working quite a bit lately and have had less time to plan for the big plunge than we would have liked, hence the lack of any ‘build-up’ posts.  As with most things, we’re going straight in there!

I have a strange excitement in the pit of my stomach and I don’t know why.  I know that I will feel alot better and have bags more energy, focus and vitality, but there is the feeling that this could be something very big in my life.  It could be a huge lifestyle change for the better, no matter how unconventional it is and no matter how many people call me a ‘weirdo’  (there have been quite a few already) I going for this new diet and looking forward to experimenting with my body and mind in a good way.  We are what we eat, well, we shall see.

The main reason for eating raw is that cooking kills nutrients in food.  Vitamin C and B are heat sensitive, enzymes are also destroyed when food is cooked, which are essential to the function of the body.  If enzymes are not replenished in the body, we can age quickly and loss health.  Raw foods have been used for years to treat ailments and illness, most famously by Dr Ann Wigmore,who set up the Hippocrates Health Institute.  The truth is that we are exposed to more pollutants than previous generations and our food has less nutrients, even organic food is grown on soil that is less rich than is was in previous times (normally due to bad farming techniques).

Ecologically, if we all ate more raw foods there would be a relief on the planets resources.  No cooking conserves energy, there is less packaging (hopefully non) with raw foods, there are no emissions created no processing, the waste is compostable and biodegradable, meaning no rubbish.

Below is the Raw Food Pyramid (thanks to the Almost Raw Vegan for this), this replaces the average diet with meat, dairy etc and will give you an idea of what we will be munching on in June.  We are eating no dairy, refined foods, wheat etc and no alcohol or caffeine.   Our diet will consist of many different types of salads, smoothies and juices and another host of interesting raw foods that you will seldom find, especially in the UK where raw food is still a relatively new thing.  In the States and Australia for example, raw food seems to be very popular.  Many people say that raw food will become the new vegetarianism for this generation, I have already seen restaurants with raw options on the menu.

We have always eaten alot of raw food, we just didn’t necessarily call it ‘raw’, just a salad or a smoothie. We will try and be as close to 100% raw as possible, but aren’t really too fussy about things.  We’ll still be drinking herbal teas and if our new lovely looking olive oil is not certified raw, we’ll still use it.  The same goes for nuts, seeds, dried fruits, pastes etc which are all borderline raw foods.  We love these items too much and deem their nutritional values to be too important to eliminate from our diet.

We hope to open a few people’s eyes, minds and palates to the joys of raw food.  Raw food is nutrient rich, meaning you don’t need to eat or digest as much.  When you are eating a bag of crisps, or packet of biscuits, the reason you are not getting full is because they are devoid of nutrients.  Your body needs the right fuel!  A raw diet puts that fuel in and makes it readily available.  We have had a few days almost raw already and the we have been buzzing!  I went for my normal jog and needed to extend it a little, up the mountain.  I couldn’t stop!  With raw food, your body needs less energy for digestion, which can be utilised in other beneficial ways.

The body has clearly define cycles or natural rhythms:

12pm-8pm  Digestion cycle

8pm-4am  Absorption cycle

4am – 12pm  Elimination cycle

The raw diet will help to cleanse our system of toxins and bring us into balance.  After gradually eating healthier for a number of years (we are not just diving in here, we have been eating well for a while now)  my body is quite sensitive to toxins and rich foods.  I sometimes get what is called a food ‘hangover’ after a cheese or chocolate binge, I will be glad to be free of them.  Raw food is devoid of toxins and packed with nutrients.  There is a popular raw slogan, ‘stop counting calories and start counting nutrients’.  It makes perfect sense to me that what we eat has a profound effect on our bodies and minds.  What we consume affects us on ways that we cannot see or know.  Raw food seems like a stepping stone for me to a greater understanding of my body and what makes me tick, what makes me truly happy.

Raw food will also free up so much time, as I mentioned we are both busy this summer with work, so not cooking will allow us to do other things.  The garden is definitely looking like it needs some TLC.

We will be taking alot of inspiration from our fellow bloggers of the cyber world and also have some good books.  ‘Eat Smart, Eat Raw’ by Kate Wood being one of the main ones.  Written by a Brit for British folk, mainly important because we don’t have the plethora of fruits and veggies that many countries enjoy.  We also have the long cold, dark winters, where soup is our best friend and a chilled smoothie seems like a difficult proposition.

We will be supplementing our diets with a few superfood-type bits.   Jane picked up some Barley Grass at the health food shop and that is supposed to be super charged stuff.  We will also be drinking propolis daily, which is a bee resin with amazing properties.  We’ll be writing about it soon.  We will also be sure to drink plenty of water, as this seems to be important no matter what foods you are eating.  Become more fluid!  It is worth noting that many mineral waters are not organic and the best water you can drink is water that has been treated by reverse osmosis, this is pure H2O.  You should also not drink water, or any liquid with meals, as it affects digestion and absorption (diluting stomach acids).

So we are going out in a blaze of intoxication tonight.  We said we wouldn’t, but we are.  It is a relatively decadent evening with some smoked stilton with sparkling wine planned, followed by some of the finest chocolate I have ever tasted (post coming soon..).

Raw June, a time when we in the Beach House gain a greater awareness and respect for the foods we eat and the bodies we inhabit;  a time when we gain a new insight into the world of nutrition and the impact it has on us.

Jane and I are both very positive about all of this, which we feel is crucial, as our mental state has a more profound effect on our health than anything else.

Happy Days!

Categories: Blogs, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Organic, Raw Food, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The B.H.K Awards – Top 15 Seasonal Superfoods (Winter)

Beat those dark winter nights. Blow away those frosty morning blues. Hah! These foods give your body a super kick and are packed full of a feel good vibes. Spring is getting closer, but these beauties will help you across the dark season finish line.

Everybody seems to love a ‘Top 10’.  So surely a ‘Top 15’ is better?!  I was looking into healthy eating and came across several sites claiming to have the definitive selection of ‘Top 10 Superfoods’. I don’t know who or when the term ‘Superfood’ was created, but I like it. It simply suggests food that is super packed full of goodness.

Superfoods come into their own in the busy modern world, when we don’t always have time to prepare meals. They can be grabbed and munched, giving a nutritious boost.  This is especially important during winter when the sun retreats early and the cold can chill you to the bone. It’s a strenuous time for body and mind.

I’ve compiled my own Winter ‘Top 15’ (better than 10) below. The criteria are simple. Is it tasty? Is it also super healthy? Do we eat it regularly? Is it local(ish) and seasonal? I haven’t added things like spirulina, goji berries, wheatgrass etc, although they are very healthy they don’t have the delicious-ness. They are just not your everyday hero.

Our selection will inevitably change towards summer, expect another instalment.

All of these contenders are packed with goodness and if eaten with other healthy bits and some regular exercise, will keep you shining all winter.

15) Red Wine – Dodgy start you may say.  Well yes and no.  I’ve managed to stem the tide of wine in recent years.  Everything in moderation.  Grapes provide vitamin C, vitamin  B1 and vitamin B6–red grapes also contain powerful phytochemicals (especially  phenolics) that may help decrease risk of cardiovascular disease. These compounds are housed mostly in the skin of the red grapes, which gives red wine its colour. Resveratrol, found in the skins of red fruits has been shown to have anti-oxidant, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory activity.

14) Green tea – Not exactly a local crop, but this brew has a serious ‘feel good’ effect in the mornings.  Green tea contains polyphenols, which may reduce heart disease, cancer and stroke risk. Green tea also supports brain health and memory, likely due a key compound in green tea called EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), a flavonoid. EGCG is thought to boost the immune system and prevent tumors. Aim for at least two cups daily.

12)  Whole grains (whole wheat, barley) – Bread and beer, not healthy really, but ever so British.  Two of the myriad of uses for the humble, yet essential whole grain.  Whole grains help stabilize blood sugar and insulin and may protect against heart disease. They include all three parts of a grain kernel: the bran, germ and endosperm. Whole wheat flour, brown rice and barley are all whole grain foods. Look for the words “whole grain” on the label, and the word “whole” immediately before the name of the grain in the list of ingredients.  Contrary to popular perception, the benefits of whole grains go well beyond fiber and fiber’s role in digestive health. Whole grains contain vitamins B and E; the minerals magnesium, selenium and zinc; phytonutrients; that appear to work together in powerful ways.

Panamanian Bean Mix (Good name for a band)

11) Beans –  A staple.  Anybody who knows me, understands my passion for these little beauties.  A fabulous source of vegetarian protein and fibre, two nutrients that help you stay full and satisfied.  Important to feel fully sustained in winter.  The protein and fibre in beans also tempers the rise in blood sugar that occurs after a meal, which can help stabilize mood. The fibre in beans helps keep you regular. Beans are low in fat and a good source of magnesium and potassium, nutrients that work together to lower blood pressure and keep your heart and blood vessels healthy. Added bean bonus: They’re cheap and when growing add vital nitrogen back to the soil.

10) Pumpkin – Orange veggies are all loaded with Vitamin A, vital in the winter when the sun is so shy. We are lucky to have two different varieties growing locally to give us some variety.  Pumpkin is loaded with nutrients that will help your heart, bones, eyes, and skin shining.  Beta-carotene and potassium are the two standouts here: Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that helps rejuvenate skin, protect your vision, and may even reduce risk of arthritis. Potassium is a mineral involved in lowering blood pressure and maintaining healthy bones.  There is nothing sweeter than a well roasted pumpkin?

9) Oats – Are technically whole grains, but get their own section in these parts.  Britain, this windswept little island, has been fuelled on the stuff since early man first landed here.  I don’t think any food better sums up our predicament and history.  The oats in porridge acts as central heating for your body, one bowl in the morning and you’ll be simmering all day.  Eating oats is good for those with high cholesterol.  Whole grain oats are one of the best sources of soluble fibre, which, in addition to lowering cholesterol, helps keep blood sugar levels under control.  No peaks and troughs, just plain sailing.

8) Olive oil – Reminds me of my other home in Spain.  My heart generally resides there, as my body does the rounds.  The freshly pressed oils of Murcia are hard to come by here, but with our uber consumerist ways, good olive oil is easy to find.  One of the best types of fat you can opt for in your diet.  Olive oil helps to protect against heart disease and cancer. Recent research shows that heart-attack survivors on a Mediterranean diet had half the death rates of those on an ordinary low-fat diet.  Nice to know.  Spaniards do eat a lot of fish, which keeps them healthy, but normally drink like one too.  However olive oil is also high in antioxidant activity.  Is there nothing this golden amritar is not capable of?!

7)  Crucifers (broccoli, kale, cabbage) – This family thrives around here.  They are so tasty and versatile.  Trigonos (our organic veg farm) grows the finest red cabbage and kale imaginable.  In fact, all of their vegetables are rather special.  Cruciferous vegetables contain indole alkaloids that may help prevent the big C.  They are high in fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.  Foods from the cruciferous and cabbage family (including broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, collards and turnips) may help bolster memory as you age.  Something I need help with right now!

6) Tomatoes – Grown in a local poly-tunnel.  We are so blessed to be surrounded by die hard green fingers.  These wonderful orbs contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant shown to help stimulate the immune system and protect from certain cancers, especially prostate. Lycopene is more highly concentrated in cooked tomato products including tomato paste, passata or tomato sauce.

5) NUTS (Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, macadamia nuts, cashews etcetc)Generally, limit yourself to a handful of nuts per day.  But what a handful!  Nuts are so precious.  They are not local, but are one of our favourite treats.  Adding a dose of almonds daily helps the intake of key nutrients, lowering the intake of dietary detractors like trans fats, excessive sodium, sugars and cholesterol. Eating nuts may help protect against heart disease and inflammation, enjoying 11 walnuts daily reduces total cholesterol by up to 4 percent.  Walnuts also look like a brain, so are good for your brain (Ayuvedic wisdom).  They are a rich source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, as well as a compound called ellagic acid that has been shown to reduce artery-forming plaque.  Love NUTS!

4) Leeks – It goes without saying that this gorgeous Allium would crop up.  We are in Wales after all.  Regardless of that fact, leeks are one of my favourite vegetables.  Packed with flavour, vitamins, minerals and flavanoid anti-oxidants.  They are low in calories and contain both soluble and in-soluble fibre.  They contain lots of folic acid, essential in DNA synthesis and cell division.   Vitamin wise the are packed with A (hooray) and C, which not only protects against infections, but also harmful free radicals.  Wear your leeks with pride!  So much tastier than a rose (not to mention a thistle).

3) The Cuppa (Tea) – Another tea?  Why not!  The elixir of the B.H.K.  Without it, we’d be lost and flaccid. The caffeine content in tea is useful for stimulating alertness, mood and motivation, but is also a rich source of the antioxidant called catechins. Studies suggest that catechins protect the artery walls against the damage that causes heart disease and prevents the formation of blood clots. It also does wonders for the spirit on a dark winters day.  Avoid drinking too much milk, try a slice of lemon or drink good quality tea black.  It’s one of those things that will grow on you.

2) Dark Chocolate – The finest of news.  Believe it or not, chocolate is a healthy treat, as long as you choose wisely. Dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids, antioxidants that have been shown to lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, and boost overall heart health. Choose chocolate that is at least 70 percent cacao or cocoa to optimize the antioxidant power and health benefits. Dark chocolate may even boost your mood. The rich taste and sensuous mouth-feel of a decadent piece of dark chocolate may be to thank (remember the Flae advert Brits).  Just don’t eat a whole bar. Our favourite is Green and Blacks.

1) Beetroot (or beta vulgaris) – King Crimson!  The dark purple avenger!  Anything that comes out of the dark soil this colour, is bound to be packed full of good.  The pigment that gives beets their super-beautiful fuschia depth (betacyanin) is a powerful cancer-fighting agent. Beets’ potential effectiveness against colon cancer, in particular, has been demonstrated in several studies. Beets are also particularly rich in the B vitamin folate (see above) and the mighty vitamin C.  If you’re lucky enough, use the leaves.  They are higher in vitamin A and anitoxidants than the root.  We roast them up, put them in cakes, pickles, pies…..They add amazing hues of purples and pinks to anything they touch (including your chopping board) and generally brighten up any day.  Truly our winter king.

So Beetroot is the winner.  What drama!  I wonder who it will be in the summer (strawberries).

Heart of the 'root

Categories: Ayurveda, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Nutrition, photography, Superfoods, Tea, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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