Tag Archives: Plant Based

A Healthy Hot Chocolate

26 Jan
© Jess Bruce 2016

© Jess Bruce 2016

Winter has finally hit in the UK. Last week was absolutely freezing. Okay so perhaps not cold compared to Alaska or the Antarctic (or most of North America at present for that matter) but temperatures close to freezing are incredibly chilly, and came as quite the shock, compared to the balmy December we enjoyed (and moaned about at the time, daffodils blooming by the roadside in December? What has the world come to!).

What’s all this weather talk about? Well cold weather means only one thing in my mind…..hot chocolate baby!

I spent most of last week with the heating on max but still cold, wearing a scarf, quilt over my lap and fingerless gloves encasing my hands in order to sit and type. Yes really. It was VERY cold!

There are only so many cups of green tea one girl can drink in a day (and I definitely push it to the limit) in order to keep warm. And so enters hot chocolate.

Sometimes you need a sweet hit and you don’t have any cake or biscuits to hand – damn that January resolution of no cake for a month….(definitely not stuck to that one). Hello hot chocolate.

And sometimes you want a sweet treat without totally blowing your blood sugar; craving a hint of sweetness without endangering your health kick. Is this you? Well say hello to this little miss healthy hot chocolate.

She will satisfy your sweet tooth, warm you up and sate your appetite. All without blowing off your new years resolution to be more healthy.

The recipe below is for an au natural version. Simple, clean, pure hot chocolate. However, you could take things to the next level and pimp your delicious hot drink. Though I think if you go for the ‘enhanced’ version using some of the following suggestions (brandy, chocolate and marshmallows I’m looking at you…), we should perhaps tack the qualifier ‘ish‘ onto the title healthy – healthy-ish hot chocolate. But why not. It’s the last week of January, you deserve it.

So if you want to ‘enhance’ your drink, you could try:

  • Melting a handful – this isn’t an exact science, so much the better if you have big hands 🙂 – of 70% cocoa chocolate chips into the saucepan.
  • Top your drink with some coconut whip (I use this method to make whipped cream from coconut milk) and marshmallows and some chocolate shavings….oh boy that sounds good!
  • Toss a chai tea bag into the saucepan and allow to infuse with the milk for a hit of aromatics. Maybe throw in a cinnamon stick for extra measure.
  • Add some finely grated orange zest (that’s healthy… vitamin C anyone?) for a drink reminiscent of the ubiquitous orange shaped and flavoured chocolate.
  • Add a few drops of mint extract for an after dinner digestive aid (see healthy…maybe a stretch?)
  • If you like things chilli hot, then a sprinkling of cayenne pepper would spice things up nicely.
  • For an adult version, you could add some brandy or whiskey to taste (and blow dry January out of the water).
  • For a ‘Snickers’ inspired drink, sub the almond butter for peanut butter, adjusting the quantity to taste.

That said, simple is satisfying to me. I enjoyed the natural beauty of the hot chocolate recipe as set out below greatly and didn’t need any additions (though perhaps that’s because I hadn’t thought of them yet and didn’t have any marshmallows in the house….)

Here’s the recipe, hope it warms you up. Let me know if and how you enhance it, healthy or otherwise!

A Healthy Hot Chocolate

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Gluten and dairy free, Vegan

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of gluten free oat milk (or other plant based milk of choice)
  • 2 rounded tsps of cacao powder
  • 2 scant tbsp brown rice syrup
  • 1 tsp almond butter
  • 1 tbsp coconut milk yoghurt

Steps

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over a low heat.
  2. Whisk well to dissolve the almond butter and yoghurt.
  3. Allow to simmer until just boiling (about 5 minutes) whisking every so often.
  4. Pour into a mug and enjoy.

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Cookbook Joy

11 Mar
 © Jess Bruce 2015. All Rights Reserved.

A few of new recruits! © Jess Bruce 2015. All Rights Reserved.

We’ve exchanged! At long last we have finally exchanged on our new house! I am so happy! And more than that I am incredibly relieved. It got very touch and go towards the end and looked many times like the whole deal was going to fall through. Thankfully that did not happen and now we have exchanged. Yippee!

For anyone not used to the idiosyncrasies of the British house buying system, exchanged means we have exchanged contracts, paid our deposit and are now legally bound to the transaction. Most importantly, our buyer is, at long last, legally bound to buy our flat. Hurrahhh!!! Completion is set for 27th March so we have a few weeks to get everything organised and packed.

The last few months have been very stressful and my health has taken a bit of hit as a result (things are improving again now thankfully). One of my coping mechanisms was to surround myself with interesting books to keep me occupied and distracted. This for me means one thing….cookbooks. I have a confession to make. I have a pretty large huge GIGANTIC cookbook collection. It is my pride and joy. I read them like novels, even taking them to bed to read before lights out. I dread to think how many boxes it’s going to take to pack them all up to move!

 © Jess Bruce 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Bed time reading © Jess Bruce 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Despite already having more than enough cookbooks to be able to cook something new every night of the week for the next year decade, the last couple of months I have purchased a few more…. all in the name of keeping me calm, sane and distracted through the house buying nonsense you understand 🙂 I thought I would share some of my new finds with you today.

Deliciously Ella Granola  © Jess Bruce 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Deliciously Ella Granola © Jess Bruce 2015. All Rights Reserved.

The first I have to mention is Deliciously Ella, the debut book by food blogger Ella Woodward. Ella had POTs and when conventional medicine didn’t work she changed her diet, cutting out gluten, dairy, sugar, eggs and meat. She has been a huge source of inspiration and her blog a great resource for me in navigating my own recovery from chronic illness. I was very excited for the release of her book – so excited that when I discovered my Amazon pre-order wasn’t going to arrive until a week after the launch date, I cancelled the hard copy order and got the Kindle e-book instead! Instant gratification! Dangerous… As I said, I may have a small problem where cookbooks are concerned…. Ella’s book lived up to expectations and I have already made numerous things from it – coconut thai chickpea curry with miso was delicious, as was the pea and mint cannellini soup (cannellini beans are used to thicken the soup and provide a good solid dose of plant protein) and the giant hash brown was a big hit with my dad and Mr B. Her cinnamon granola has been my go-to breakfast in recent weeks. I am keen to make the scones and carrot cake with creamy frosting next.

Chocolate – Covered Katie, the first book by Katie Higgins, the healthy dessert queen, is another new favourite. Again I have been a fan of Katie’s blog for a long time and love her healthified version of cakes, sweets and desserts. Whilst not all of Katie’s recipes are gluten and dairy free, the majority are, and when they are not, Katie is good at suggesting substitutions to adapt the recipe for particular dietary needs. I am head over heals in love with her deep dish cookie pie (secret ingredient chickpeas!) and her chocolate banana bread cupcakes were a big hit with my friend and her toddler! Whenever I bake something for friends and family they always ask, what’s the hidden vegetable or ingredient, so used are they to me making sweet goods with hidden healthy ingredients. Chocolate Covered Katie is my inspiration! Next up I want to make her Lemon Meltaway Pie – secret ingredient…frozen cauliflower! I have several cauliflower hating friends so I may have to keep very quiet about what’s in that pie until they’ve taken a bite and fallen in love!

© Jess Bruce 2015. All Rights Reserved.

© Jess Bruce 2015. All Rights Reserved.

I know my body works better when I eat minimal meat and as I can’t tolerate dairy, several of my new books are mainstream vegan. Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Mokowitz is a vegan bible jam packed with easy vegan meals from around the world. The photography is stunning and it is a beautiful book. I haven’t yet made anything from it but I’m very excited about trying out some of Isa’s recipes in my new kitchen in a few weeks, Dragoon Noodle Salad with its spicy peanut butter sauce and Red Lentil Thai Chilli  are vying for first spot on my to make list.

But I could never go vegan! Debut book by Keepin It Kind blogger Kristy Turner  © Jess Bruce 2015. All Rights Reserved

But I could never go vegan! Debut book by Keepin It Kind blogger Kristy Turner © Jess Bruce 2015. All Rights Reserved

As you’ve probably guessed, I love food and everything to do with it. Discovering a new food blog is to me what Christmas morning is like to a young child. I love it as it means I can spend hours losing myself perusing the recipe back catalogs. One such blog that I discovered recently was Keepin It Kind by Kristy Turner. I have to say I have no idea how I hadn’t come across it sooner! Once I’d perused the archive I obviously then had to buy myself the book (in Kindle format to save trees and reduce the packing load!)

My love of food and cookbooks also extends to recipe apps. Green Kitchen Stories have two apps, one healthy desserts and the other full of savoury goodness. Mr B and I had a delicious brunch using their shakshuka baked egg recipe and their banana granola is so good. The photography is literally stunning and makes you want to make everything immediately!

I could go on and on talking about this topic! But I’ll restrain myself and leave you with a final few loves of mine: Oh She Glows blog and book by Angela Liddon (literally AMAZING, have made hundreds of things from these and they always work perfectly), Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi (shows you new and inventive, yet simple, ways of making vegetables the star of the meal) and Yum Universe (another recent food blog discovery that had me lost for hours!).

Do you love cookbooks too? What are your favourites?

As a final note, it seems very fitting that I am writing this post today, 11th March, as it would have been my dearly beloved Nan’s birthday today. Nan, my maternal grandmother, passed away nearly 8 years ago. She was a wonderful cook and inspired a love of food in my Mum which has been passed onto both myself and my sister. So lots of love goes out to my Nan (who was also called Jess and who I’m named after), thank you for inspiring me. I love and miss you everyday.

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