hazelnut cocoa banana smoothie

hazelnut, cocoa + banana smoothie // raw cacao vs. cocoa

Don’t you just love those on-a-whim recipes? Even more so when they’re healthy? They’re the best. I’m a sucker for anything chocolate, there’s no denying. And there are plenty of ways to work a beautiful, healthful and delicious ingredient into everyday life, minus the sugar and nasty additives that can often accompany cocoa. I’m a bit on the fence as of late with regards to whether raw cacao trumps regular ol’ cocoa, re the whole phytic acid business. Lost me? I’ll give you the run down:

  • We love cacao for its flavonoids, which are essentially antioxidants and we know they’re good for us
  • It’s magnesium rich, perfect for aching muscles as well as being vital for energy production within the body
  • It’s a powerful heart stimulant due to its theobromine, which has properties similar to caffeine, so it’s a great pick-me-up (just consume in moderate amounts)

However (you knew it was coming), raw cacao, that’s the unprocessed, expensive stuff, is high in phytates, substances that bind to important minerals like iron before they are absorbed in the gut. They can cause other problems within the gut, altering the gut enzymes and making it much harder for your body to digest. The process of fermenting and roasting the cacao bean, to make cocoa, reduces a lot of the phytic acid present, rendering the final product a little gentler on the gut. Many of the antioxidants will have been destroyed though, so that’s unfortunate.

That being said, generally raw cacao isn’t consumed in such large amounts that it causes a major problem, but it’s something to keep in mind when purchasing your next bag of chocolate goodness. I think gut health is first and foremost essential for vitality, so don’t stress if you can only afford the regular stuff. It’ll still do you a world of good, both physically and in your soul.

Now, to that recipe. This is super easy to whip up. It’s vegan, gluten-free (if you omit the wheatgerm) and rich in potassium, healthy fats and fibre. The hazelnut milk is deliciously creamy and pairs superbly with the chocolate. Just like healthy nutella, which I thought only existed in my dreams.

hazelnut cocoa banana smoothie

hazelnut, cocoa + banana smoothie – serves 1 – vegan and gluten free

you’ll need…

  • 1 large frozen banana
  • half an avocado
  • 1 tblsp cocoa/raw cacao
  • half tsp vanilla powder OR 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/vanilla extract
  • 1 cup hazelnut milk (to make, blend 1 cup of soaked hazelnuts with 3 cups of water, then strain)
  • optional: 1 tblsp wheatgerm for B-vitamins and folate (omit if gluten free)
  • optional: only if needed, a dash of maple syrup (this really depends on the sweetness of your bananas – first time I made this it was a tad under-sweet so I simply added more bananas but of course it thickens it up, which I don’t mind! your choice)

here’s what you do…

  1. Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Pour into pretty glass and drink with love!
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lemon raspberry sour cream cake

lemon, raspberry + sour cream cake

Today was a triumph for two reasons: I found a way to use up some of the 20-odd lemons sitting in my fruit bowl, and its results were spectacular. A stunning oh-so-lemony, tart, moist cake that married perfectly with the ooey-gooey double cream I bought. You see, today is my mummas birthday, and she is a lover of all things double and cream. Perfect! I was planning on having the cake with greek yoghurt, but as today is all about her…you gotta do what you do gotta do right? Anyway, I’d be a liar if I said I was averse to a big dollop of fat next to my cake. Big. Fat. Liar.

lemon raspberry sour cream cake

I trawled the net for recipes last night. I knew I wanted berries. I knew I wanted lemons, like really wanted lemons in the recipe. These things have been hanging round my fruit bowl for way too long, and while I would normally have turned them in shiny, sweet lemon curd or even preserved lemons, this whole moving-house process has, well as you can imagine, displaced a lot of my time, equipment and patience. So, this week, things are getting real in the lemon department. And this was a good start, of epic proportions.

I snagged this beauty off the lovely inked in colour blog, who I believe modified it from a recipe of Emma Dean’s, former Masterchef 2013 winner. Hers was originally a rhubarb cake, which would totally rock, so you can go both ways on this one. I reduced the sugar by a quarter, but I’m going to say…go even less, because it can handle it, I promise. I also doubled the lemon juice and zest, and patted myself on the back. I had no more sugar to do the thyme + sugar topping, but I must say I’m intrigued and will certainly give it a crack next time I make it (which I dare say will be very, very soon). Oh, and then there was cream. There had to be. Moderation is key, right?

lemon raspberry sour cream cake

lemon, raspberry + sour cream cake – recipe from inked in colour

you’ll need…

  • 50g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1.5 cups raw or rapadura sugar (I would go even less – say easily 1 cup. UPDATE: I’ve made it with 1 cup of raw caster sugar and it was, I feel, the perfect sweetness)
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder/vanilla bean paste
  • 250g sour cream/yogurt
  • zest and juice of 2 big, juicy lemons
  • 2 cups/300g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 300g raspberries, frozen or fresh (I used frozen – do not thaw beforehand)
  • 4 lemon slices, for decoration
  • optional but recommended: 1/4 cup thyme sugar (2-3 sprigs fresh thyme + rapadura sugar)

here’s what you do…

  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line a 9in/22cm round springform tin with paper and butter the sides.
  2. Beat butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and a pinch of salt in a large mixing bowl until thick and creamy.
  3. Beat in the sour cream, lemon juice and rind. Sift over the dry ingredients and fold in gently. Slowly fold in the raspberries, careful not too break them up too much. If this happens, the batter turns a lovely pink colour, which won’t affect the taste but simply the appearance.
  4. Pour batter into tin and layer 4 lemon slices in a circular fashion in the middle, sprinkle a little more lemon juice and some raw sugar on top for crunch. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, checking after the 1 hour mark. It’s cooked when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  5. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a tray to cool. Or not, if you want to eat it right away (I don’t blame you). Serve with fresh double cream or tangy greek yoghurt, or even some lemon curd.

cocoa + hazelnut oats with banana

So this happened. There was no way around it this morning, especially not with the way my eyes were bulging from my head after a long, restless night. Sick kidlets = tired mama. But I guess from such a situation arose this delicious breakfast, so it wasn’t a complete loss.ย  When hubby asked what I’d had for breakfast, he was intrigued as to how I’d worked my all time favourite ingredient into my breakfast meal. He was excited enough when I made these must-make pancakes, so it’s not like I’m above incorporating chocolate and breakfast. Oh no, not at all.

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These oats were thrown together in such haste that I was surprised they were as comforting and soul-nourishing as they were. I’ve run out of cacao, hence the use of cocoa, but do as you please and use whichever you prefer. I quickly blended up some hazelnut milk as I was out of almonds, but feel free to use whatever nut-free milk you prefer. Or even cows milk. But beware, you’ll remove the hazelnutty-ness, so just remember to add it back maybe with some crushed hazelnuts on top. Or don’t, who am I to tell you how to eat your oats?

cocoa + hazelnut oats with banana – serves 1 – dairy free, wheat free and refined sugar free

you’ll need…

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 cup hazelnut milk (blend up 1 cup hazelnut milk with 3-5 cups water, depending on your preference for thickness – I love it thick!)
  • 1/2 tsp coconut sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract/vanilla bean paste
  • 1 heaping tablespoon cocoa/cacao
  • 1 banana, sliced on the diagonal
  • flaked/sliced almonds, chia seeds + extra nut milk, to serve
  • maple syrup, to serve (optional)

here’s what you do…

  1. Add oats, hazelnut milk, coconut sugar, salt, vanilla and cocoa to a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer, stirring frequently, until oats are tender and liquid has reduced/gone creamy. If you prefer more sweetness in your oats, add some more coconut sugar or maple syrup.
  2. Serve topped with extra milk, banana, chia and almonds, and if you prefer, a drizzle of maple. Enjoy!
dark choc + date spelt cake

dark chocolate + date spelt cake

It’s been a while. Between uni, kids, birthdays and life in general, it’s been hard finding a moment to breathe. Although, I recently immersed myself in the practice of Ashtanga yoga – and I love it! So thankfully, that’s helping to me breathe, whilst this chocolate cake is helping me get through the upcoming weekend’s packing mission. We are moving house, you see. For only the 11th time. Alas, new beginnings calls for a new recipe, and this one rocks!

dark choc + date spelt cake

Now, I often gawk at the sugar amount in recipes, opting to reduce it as not only is it less liable to spike your blood sugar, but its also eliminating that ’empty’ energy you could easily go without. Plus I’m more of a dark-and-dreamy, bitter chocolate kinda gal. In saying that, this little number is still on the indulgent side even with less sugar, so it’s always best to exercise a little restraint when it comes to cakes in general, whether they be your raw, fruit-and-nut style or your 3-tiered buttercream-layered goddess.

If you haven’t already got theย Supergrains cookbook by Chrissy Freer, do it! It’s laden with beautiful recipes that step outside the box in terms of your everyday, commonly used grains plus gluten-free alternatives and even things like chia seeds and quinoa. This cake is, as my husband would put it, a ‘delicious, round-shaped brownie’, but just that bit lighter. The whipped egg whites lend to its fluffiness as opposed to the extreme denseness you might expect from a traditional brownie. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got cake to eat.

dark chocolate + date spelt cake – rich, dense chocolate cake studded with chewy date pieces (adapted fromย Supergrains by Chrissy Freer)

you’ll need…

  • 150g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract/vanilla bean paste
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup wholemeal spelt flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup greek yoghurt (or sour cream)
  • 2/3 cup 70% dark chocolate chips, melted and cooled
  • 90g fresh, pitted dates, chopped

here’s what you do…

  1. Preheat oven to 175C (fan-forced). Grease and line a 9.5inch springform tin.
  2. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and creamy. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift in dry ingredients over the top of the mixture, then add yoghurt and fold through (or mix on lowest speed in electric mixer).
  3. Stir through the melted chocolate and dates until just combined.
  4. In a clean bowl, whip egg whites until stiff peaks form. Whisk in one third of the egg white mix into chocolate mixture to loosen, then fold through remaining egg white, mixing until it just comes together.
  5. Pour into prepared tin, baking for 45 minutes or until it no longer wobbles and skewer comes out clean (its ok if there are a few crumbs sticking to the skewer, you just dont want runny cake mix). Let it cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool. This cake is absolutely perfect slightly underdone as it’ll add to its fudginess!
  6. Serve dusted with cocoa and runny vanilla cream on the side (simply stir vanilla bean paste through your favourite cream and voila!)