The Herb Diaries

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Gooey Chocolate and Caramel Bars

DSC_0356I know, without any doubt, where my sweet tooth comes from. I have a certain family member who just LOVES chocolate. Not only is this an annoying addiction to have inherited, but she makes a brutally honest judge. Nothing sweet that I have made so far has really impressed her. The usual response is that it is ok, but she would rather have a square of chocolate. Until I made this…
DSC_0328DSC_0334It is sweet, sticky and incredibly indulgent. And it is completely sugar-free, gluten-free, raw and vegan, packed full of amazing healthy coconut oil, lots of fibre from the dates, and tons of nutrients and vitamins from the nuts. Words cannot do justice to how good it tastes – something this delicious shouldn’t give you glowing skin, a clearer mind and a natural energy boost! So put down the chocolate and go and make this…

Ingredients:

For the base

1 cup of dates
1 cup of hazelnuts
1 cup of almonds

For the caramel

1 cup of dates
2 tbsp cashew nut butter
Pinch of sea salt

For the chocolate

1/2 cup of coconut oil
1/2 cup of raw cacao powder

DSC_0329 Method:

Blend all the ingredients for the base until a sticky crumb forms. Line a baking tray with grease proof paper, then pour the base mixture in, and press down evenly. Put the tray in the fridge so the base can firm up.
For the middle layer, blend all the ingredients until a completely smooth caramel forms. Spread this over the base, and put the whole thing back in the fridge.
For the chocolate layer, melt the coconut oil over a very low heat and stir in the raw cacao powder. Pour/spread this evenly over the caramel.
This should really all go back in the fridge for an hour to fully firm up and make it easier to cut, but when we make it at home it doesn’t often get that long…

For anyone who is new to The Herb Diaries – thank you for stopping by! You can follow the blog by putting your email address in at the top of the side bar, and you can follow me on Instagram – @theherbdiaries

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Raw Fruity Flapjacks

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I have been wanting to make a healthy flapjack replacement for ages, but flapjacks are my absolute favourite, and I was worried that they could never been as good without masses of golden syrup and butter, but both Rosie and I were seriously over-excited with these. They are so much better than we ever imagined, and are the perfect cross between flapjacks and granola bars – sweet enough to satisfy any craving, but healthy enough to make a guilt-free breakfast on the go! They are amazingly sweet considering they have no added sugar, and can easily be made gluten free if you would rather.

 

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I expected this batch to last us a few days, but when they turned out even better than expected (and then a friend I bumped into invited himself and his friend for dinner) I knew it was never going to happen! Because they are so quick and easy to make, it really doesn’t matter, and they use fairly standard store cupboard ingredients, so they can always be knocked up in a hurry. I very nearly made them with a layer of raw chocolate on top too!

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Not only are they super healthy, raw, nut-free, sugar-free and delicious, they also make such a good snack on the go, as they are so easy to transport and don’t leave any crumbs behind. It can be so difficult trying to find healthy food and snacks that aren’t all prepackaged, with hundreds of ingredients that you can’t even pronouce, so I like to make enough flapjacks for the week, so that they are ready and waiting if I need to eat on the move.

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Ingredients:

1 cup of raisins

1/2 cup of coconut oil

1/2 cup of sunflower seeds

1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup of dried apricots, chopped

2 cups oats

1 tbsp ground flax 

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Method:
Blend raisins and coconut oil until a smooth paste forms. Remove mixture from the blender and mix in a bowl with the oats, dries fruit and seeds. Press into a lined backing tray and put in the fridge for an hour or so to firm up, then slice and serve!

 


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Dark Chocolate and Hazelnut Truffles

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After making my first jug of homemade almond milk at the beginning of last week, this weekend I made hazelnut milk. It was so creamy, and deliciously nutty, and tasted so much purer than all the shop bought versions. Homemade nut milk doesn’t last as long in the fridge, but I think most people love it so much that they use it all pretty quickly anyway! It couldn’t be simpler to make, and is so worth the effort. I made these truffles when I was trying to think of something to do with the left over ground nuts from making the milk, but you could use fresh nuts instead.
 
I think people are almost a bit dubious of raw chocolatey treats, thinking that they will never match up to the real thing, and for a few people maybe they never will, but I am a total convert. I much prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate so I love the rich taste the raw cacao gives these truffles. They are so smooth, and the texture is somewhere between a chocolate truffle and a gooey brownie.
 
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Hazelnuts are super rich in flavonoids which are good for your brain and your circulation, plus they are high in healthy fats and vitamin E which will give you glowing skin, glossy hair and strong nails.

Cacao actually raises seratonin levels and stimulates the release of endorphins so it really is a mood booster – the beauty of raw cacao is that you get all the benefits without the horrible guilt and sugar low that follows eating far too much processed chocolate! 
 
Ingredients:
 
1 cup of ground hazelnuts
 
1 cup of pitted dates
 
2 tbsp raw cacao
 
1 tsp coconut oil
 
Agave syrup to taste (or other liquid sweetener)
 
Coconut flakes (to decorate)
 

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Method:
 
Put all ingredients into your blender and blend until completely smoothy and sticky. Roll into balls and roll in coconut flakes. Keep in the fridge until serving.


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Chocolate Courgette Cake

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My first attempt ever at a vegan cake…. I found the toughest, most skeptical critics I know, and they loved it! Vegan cake does not sound appealing, there is no doubt about that, so even I was a little wary, but it is delicious, and super easy to make.

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It is sweet enough to satisfy your cravings, sticky enough to taste quite naughty, and subtle enough to make you want another piece, but at the same time it is vegan, sugar and gluten free. The beauty of it is that is doesn’t really matter how many pieces you have. Instead of the cake usuals like butter, eggs and heaps of nasty refined sugar, this cake contains four different types of fruit and vegetables. Courgette keeps the cake moist through cooking, and provides you with plenty of dietary fibre, banana binds the mixture and helps the cake hold its shape whilst providing you with a great potassium boost, dates are amazingly sweet, and nature’s way of keeping you away from the biscuit tin! And the avocado in the icing is just incredible. I worried that the taste would come through the chocolate, but it is light, subtle, and completely guilt free!

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Cake Ingredients:

1 big courgette

2 tbsp raw cacao

1 banana

1/3 cup of almond milk

1 1/2 cups of rice flour

1 cup of ground almonds

8 pitted dates

1 tbsp coconut oil

pinch of sea salt

maple syrup (to taste)

Icing Ingredients:

2 avocados

2 tbsp raw cacao

1/2 tbsp coconut oil

6 pitted dates

maple syrup (to taste)

slivered almonds

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Method:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Coarsely grate the courgette, then blend with the cacao, banana, almond milk, dates, coconut oil and maple syrup until a smooth mixture forms. Pour into a mixing bowl with the flour, salt and ground almonds and stir until completely combined.

Pour mixture into two round cake tins, greased with coconut oil to prevent sticking. Bake in the oven for 18 minutes, them remove and allow to cool.

Whilst the cake bakes, blend the avocado, cacao, maple syrup, dates and coconut oil until completely smooth.

Once the cake has cooled, spread a third of the icing on one half of the cake, make a sandwich by placing the other half on top, and spread remaining icing on top and around of the whole cake. Decorate with slivered almonds.

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