Charcoal

 Delicious activated charcoal croissants are ideal for vegans

Delicious activated charcoal croissants are ideal for vegans

In the vegan world, activated charcoal has become the latest addition to the growing list of foods made with the unusual ingredient. If you've been online recently, you'll have seen the growing trend in activated charcoal croissants but don't be put off by their appearance, they really do taste much better than they look.

The blackened, plant-based pastry provide a unique yet delicious taste. But what are the so-called health benefits to these croissants? Let us explain a little more...

Firstly, the vegan croissants helps flush out toxins thanks to the alkaline properties of charcoal in the croissant. This helps to detoxify any poisons in the body by neutralising excess stomach acids. As such, this makes charcoal croissants a great breakfast choice for anyone, especially if you've had a heavy night the night before. What's more, the active ingredient can even reduce bloating. So, if you are trying to slim down for the summer and get your beach ready body, activated charcoal croissants could be just the ticket! Who thought that could happen after eating a croissant!? 

Fancy trying them for yourself? As an experimental food developer, private chef and personal chef, I've made these beauties myself and found a gorgeous recipe for you to try. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Activated Charcoal Croissants

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Recipe (inspired by The Rose & Bean recipe)

  • 260ml water
  • 14g fast-action yeast (2 sachets)
  • 500g plain flour
  • 10g salt
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 360g vegan butter 
  • Splash of non-dairy milk
  • Activated charcoal

Directions

  • In a large bowl, put your water, sugar and yeast and stir together
  • Add your flour, salt and 100g of vegan butter, the activated charcoal and knead until it all comes together (mix it in the bowl first before tipping out and kneading). If you have an electric whisk with a dough hook, you can use this
  • Cover the dough with cling film, place in the fridge, and leave for 8 hours or overnight
  • Once you’ve placed your dough in the fridge, take the remaining 260g of vegan butter and place between two pieces of parchment paper or into a sandwich bag
  • With a rolling pin, flatten the butter until it becomes a square shape that is roughly 7×7 inch (ideally, measure it with a tape measure to be sure). Wrap in cling film and place back in the fridge and leave until your dough is ready (you need to be working with the butter cold but not rock solid, so ensure it stays in the fridge until needed, and then work quickly)
  • Once your dough has been left for at least 8 hours, remove from the fridge and place on a lightly floured worktop
  • With a rolling pin, roll into a rectangle that is 14×7 inches in size
  • Take your slab of butter and place it in the middle of your dough
  • Fold the two ends of the dough to meet in the middle over the butter slab, and make sure the butter is sealed by pushing the dough together all around the edges
  • Turn the dough so that the join is now straight in front of you, not lengthways. Starting from the middle, roll your pastry out into a long rectangle, till it’s roughly 22×7 inches in size (do not roll back on yourself, always come back to the middle and roll out towards the edges)
  • Now it’s time for your first fold. Take one end of your dough and fold about two thirds of the way down, then take the other end, and fold it on top, so that you’ve folded the dough into thirds and you’re left with a rough square shape
  • Wrap your dough into cling film (make sure it’s well wrapped as this stops it from drying out) and put in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour
  • Remove from the fridge and place it so that the folded end of your dough (the part like the binding of a book) is on your left
  • Roll your dough again until it’s 22×7 inches (step 10), then repeat step 11 (the fold), wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. Repeat this again (make sure fold is on left, roll and fold), wrap in cling film, but this time place in the fridge for 60 minutes
  • After your dough has been in the fridge for its third and final time, remove from the fridge and on a lightly floured surface, roll out to about 24×8 inches
  • Next, create yourself a template. Cut a piece of card or paper into a triangle shape. The base should be 4 inches wide and it should be 8 inches high
  • Place your template onto your dough and cut around it (use something sharp like a pizza cutter) to create 9 triangle shapes
  • Take a piece of dough and make a small slit in the middle of the base of your triangle with a knife
  • Roll your dough from the base to the end using your finger and thumb, turning by the corners so as to not crush the layers
  • Repeat for all pieces of dough
  • Place on a baking sheet with the pointed end at the bottom, then brush each croissant lightly with some non-dairy milk
  • Cover lightly with parchment paper and leave to rise for 1 hour. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees fan. Once heated, place in the oven for 20 minutes. If they look like they’re browning too quickly, cover with tin foil
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool
  • Serve and enjoy!

Monk Fruit Sweeteners

  Monk Fruit Sweetened Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Almond Flour Cookies (see recipe below)  

Monk Fruit Sweetened Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Almond Flour Cookies (see recipe below) 

Monk Fruit Sweeteners as a sugar replacement

Maybe you are diabetic? Or maybe you just want to follow a no refined sugar diet? Monk Fruit Sweeteners could well the answer to all of your prayers! A new trend on the market for sugar replacement, Monk Fruit is a natural, no calorie sweetener which is becoming more and more widely available. And it’s set to make a big impact in the coming months!

What is Monk Fruit?

While some may think of it as another trendy sugar alternative, Monk Fruit is a great new replacement for sugar which is here to stay for a long while yet. As you’ve no doubt read and heard over and over again in recent times, refined and processed sugar is bad for us. Linked to obesity, heart disease, poor functioning liver and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance, amongst other traits such as some types of cancer, mood swings, and anxiety, sugar really is a vice for many but something that needs reigning in.

With no nutritional benefits and empty calories, sugar is also seriously addictive and like a drug to many. While honey, maple syrup and coconut sugar taste delicious they are still sugar. With this in mind, it’s now time for Monk Fruit to take a stand as it steps up to the challenge of a delicious sugar replacement.

Monk Fruit is otherwise known as Buddha fruit or longevity fruit, this delicious sugar replacement is a natural sweetener that has 100-250 times the sweetness of white sugar, but with no calories, carbohydrates, and no negative effects on blood sugar. Sound too good to be true? No, it really is the truth.

So you believe it, I’ve found out a gorgeous Monk Fruit Sweetened Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Almond Flour Cookies recipe for you to try! (Courtesy of www.goodforyouglutenfree.com)

If you’re looking for a monk fruit cookie recipe – or even an almond flour cookie recipe, you’re in the luck. Not only are these chocolate chip cookies gluten-free, 100% grain-free but they are also sugar-free (except for the chocolate chips). The heavenly combination of Monk Fruit sweetener and Almond Flour ticks all the boxes when it comes to soft baked cookies that taste incredible.

Before I go on to describe the recipe, a little about the almond flour. Low sugar, low carbohydrates but high in protein and fat, almond flour has a low GI (glycemic index) ranking so it’s great for diabetics or others who need or want to watch their sugar intake.

What’s more, with Monk Fruit Sweetener there’s no gritty sugar taste like some other imitation sugars and in this recipe it helps to create sweet, moist and soft chocolate chip cookies.

Chocolate Chip Cookies Sweetened with Monk Fruit

These cookies contain no gluten, no grains and no sugar (except in the chocolate chips). It's the perfect way to enjoy a sweet, soft cookie without all the guilt!

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Makes: 12-14 cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of Honeyville Blanched Almond Flour
  • 1/3 cup ZenSweet Monk Fruit Sweetener
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup softened (not melted) butter (equivalent to 1 stick)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
  • Blend almond flour, Monk Fruit sweetener, salt and baking soda in a large bowl.
  • Add to dry ingredients stick of butter.  Using your hands (I recommend gloves), combine the butter and dry ingredients.
  • Add egg and vanilla to mixture and continue to blend by hands. The mixture will be wet. Add chocolate chips.
  • Roll 1 inch dough balls by hand and place on baking sheet. Do not flatten the cookie - they will bake up really soft in the middle if you leave them in the rounded shape. You'll have enough dough to make about 14-16 cookies.
  • Cook in oven for about 12-13 minutes until top of cookies start to brown. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before removing from the tray and diving in!
  • Store cookies in an airtight bag for up to 3-4 days.

Enjoy!

AIP Diet Recipes

                AIP friendly recipes*

               AIP friendly recipes*

Happy New Year to you all! Here's hoping 2018 is a brilliant one. As we know, the new year can be an exciting time, brimming with the promise of fresh starts and new beginnings. It’s also an opportunity to recommit to your health and well-being. So, whether the new year has you feeling totally inspired or a tad overwhelmed, we've found some delicious recipes which are AIP friendly, ideal for anyone following an Autoimmune (Paleo) Protocol diet.

As an experienced food consultant and food development expert operating across Leicester and the whole of the UK, I'm here to help you on your journey to a happier, healthier you.

So what is an AIP diet?

In a nutshell, the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) is a diet that helps heal the immune system and gut. As such, it makes it a fantastic choice for anyone with an inflammatory disease. In essence, all autoimmune diseases have one main thing in common- tissue self-attacking in places like the thyroid gland, brain tissue or salivary glands, to name a few. For months and maybe even years, this self-tissue attack can occur silently until full blown autoimmune disease develops. 

This is where the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet works so well. It works to reduce inflammation in the intestines. Many elimination diets are not complete enough and often do not remove immune triggers that promote inflammation in the gut. AIP works to calm inflammation in the gut and also calm inflammation in the body overall. Here we explore just a couple of delicious recipes which we think are delicious and also great for anyone suffering from an autoimmune disease or inflammatory disease.

First up is: Loaded Baked Sweet Potato with Bacon Guac and Lime-Coconut Cream.  Not only does it look fantastic, it tastes fantastic too!

Try this Mexican-inspired take on a loaded baked potato for a yummy AIP friendly recipe! Tantalize your taste buds and kick your hunger pangs for good with this hearty, nutritious dish.

 *Credits to Autoimmune Wellness for images and recipes (they're delicious!)

*Credits to Autoimmune Wellness for images and recipes (they're delicious!)

Recipe and Instructions

AIP Taco Meat

PREP TIME: 5 MINS
COOK TIME: 15 MINS
TOTAL TIME: 20 MINS

Serves: 3-4 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place the beef in the bottom of a skillet, break up into large clumps, and turn on the heat to medium. Cook the meat for 10-15 minutes, stirring and breaking up clumps occasionally, until all the liquid is absorbed, the meat is fully cooked, and slightly browned.
  2. Add the water and spices to the meat, and stir to combine. Cook until liquid is absorbed, about a minute or two, turn off heat, and set aside to cool.

Lime-Coconut Cream

PREP TIME: 5 MINS
COOK TIME: 5 MINS
TOTAL TIME: 10 MINS

INGREDIENTS

  • 65g coconut concentrate
  • 120ml cup water, warm
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • ½ teaspoon honey, optional
  • Sea salt to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Add the coconut concentrate, warm water, lime juice, honey, and sea salt to a blender and blend until fully mixed.
  2. Set aside at room temperature until using (mixture will thicken as it cools).

NOTES

Coconut concentrate is also known as coconut butter, coconut manna, or coconut cream. It is usually sold in a glass jar and is solid at room temperature. It is not the top of a can of coconut milk!

Bacon Guac

PREP TIME: 5 MINS
COOK TIME: 15 MINS
TOTAL TIME: 20 MINS

Serves: 3-4 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 slices uncured bacon
  • 2 avocados
  • ½ bunch cilantro/ Chinese parsley, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • ¼ red onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • sea salt, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place the bacon in the bottom of a skillet and turn on the heat to medium. Cook, turning occasionally, until crispy, about 10 minutes. Place the bacon on a plate and the leftover grease in a small container to cool.
  2. Add the avocados, cilantro/Chinese parsley, lime juice, onion, and garlic to a medium bowl and stir to combine. When the bacon grease is no longer hot, add it to the avocado mixture. Taste and salt if needed.
  3. When the bacon is cool, crumble or chop with a knife and add to the guacamole. Set aside.

 

Loaded Baked Sweet Potato with Bacon Guac and Lime-Coconut Cream

PREP TIME: 5 MINS
COOK TIME: 1 HOUR 15 MINS
TOTAL TIME: 1 HOUR 20 MINS

Serves: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 large or 4 small sweet potatoes
  • 1 lb AIP Beef Taco Meat (see recipe above)
  • 2 cups Bacon Guac (see recipe above)
  • 1 cup Lime-Coconut Cream (see recipe above)
  • Green onions and additional cilantro/Chinese Parsley, for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Wrap the sweet potatoes individually in aluminum foil, place in a large baking dish, and cook for at least 1 hour, possibly up to 1 hour 15 minutes depending on the size of your sweet potatoes. They are finished when a fork is easily inserted into the flesh of the sweet potato.
  3. Place each sweet potato on a plate, and cut one slice into them longwise. Add a serving of taco meat, a serving of guac, and lastly drizzle with lime-coconut cream and sprinkle with green onions and cilantro.

And now for dessert....a real treat!
Spiced English Pear Trifle!
 

Now it's true- this trifle does takes a little longer than most of my recipes but the end result is totally worth it. With so many different textures and flavours, we think this recipe will be a firm favourite once you've tried and tested it for yourself!

 *Credits to Autoimmune Wellness for images and recipes (once again, a winning recipe!)

*Credits to Autoimmune Wellness for images and recipes (once again, a winning recipe!)

Recipe and Instructions

PREP TIME: 20 MINS
COOK TIME: 1 HOUR 15 MINS
TOTAL TIME: 1 HOUR 35 MINS

Serves: 6

INGREDIENTS

Pear and jelly

  • 700ml filtered water
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 3 fairly firm red pears, peeled, cored and quartered
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Peeled rind and juice of a medium orange
  • 1 tsp orange blossom water
  • 1 tsp gelatin

    Crumble
     
  • 125g shredded coconut
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 6 large dates, chopped
  • ½ tsp cinnamon powder
  • Pinch sea salt

    Cream
     
  • 2 cans coconut milk, refrigerated overnight

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Put the water and honey into a large low sauté pan and heat until the honey has melted. Add the pears and cinnamon stick, together with the orange rind and juice. Bring up to a very gentle simmer. Add a cartouche (watch this informative video instruction) and cook gently for around 20 minutes until the pears are tender. You will end up with around 1 pint of liquid.
  2. Remove the pears and allow to cool down on a large plate. Bring the liquid up to the boil and reduce until you have ½ pint (this may take around 6-8 minutes. Don't worry if you have a bit less than ½ pint, just add some water to bring it up to the mark. Now discard the cinnamon stick and orange rind. Pour the liquid into bowl, add the orange blossom water and gelatin, and stir until dissolved. Set aside and allow it to cool. Now place in the fridge and give it a stir once in a while.
  3. Meanwhile put all the crumble ingredients into a food processor and process for 2 minutes until the mixture is well combined. Spread the mixture out onto a parchment lined tray and bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees F until lightly browned, moving around every once in a while to prevent it from burning. The crumbs will still be soft, they will harden on cooling.
  4. For the cream: Drain the water from the cream and transfer the cream to a mixing bowl. Whisk on high for 2-3 minutes until it forms soft peaks.
  5. Assemble the trifle: Cut the quartered pears into two or three slices lengthwise, depending on their size. Put a couple of heaped tablespoons of the crumble onto a separate plate and set aside. Give the jelly a good stir. Now divide half the quantity of pear slices between your serving bowl(s). Top with half the quantity of crumble, then half the jelly and half the cream. Repeat the process with the remaining ingredients and finish by sprinkling over the reserved crumble.