Raspberry and vanilla heart biscuits 


I thought I’d have a go at some cute valentine’s biscuits this year. These can be gluten free or not depending on what flour you use. They’re dairy free but do contain eggs. They look fab and are a lot simpler to make than they look!


Give them a go this Valentine’s 🙂

You will need:

300g plain flour (or plain gluten free flour)

200g dairy free margarine 

120g golden caster sugar

2 egg yolks

30g freeze-dried raspberries

2 tsp vanilla extract

Put the flour and margarine (chopped or in small bits) in a food processor and pulse until it forms a crumb-like texture. Add the egg yolks and sugar and then pulse again until it forms a dough. 

Take 1/3 of the dough and put in a separate bowl. Add the vanilla extract to the remaining 2/3 and pulse again to combine. Then remove that dough and leave it in the fridge to chill. 

Put freeze dried raspberries into the processor and whizz until a fine dust. Add the 1/3 of the dough you removed to the raspberries. Pulse to combine.  Put the dough in the fridge to chill for at least an hour. 

Once chilled roll out the raspberry dough and cut out small heart shapes (I used a small 3cm heart cutter). It doesn’t matter exactly how thick they are as you will take all the cut out hearts and stack them together. Press them carefully together, ensuring you maintain the heart shape. Wrap in cling film and pop in the freezer for a couple of hours (you can do all this but one day and leave it overnight too).

When you’re ready to make the biscuits take the heart-roll out the freezer and the vanilla dough out of the fridge. Make three cylinders of the vanilla dough that are the length of the heart-roll. Stick them on to the heart-roll and carefully press them around it until you have completely covered the hearts in a circle. 


Wrap and pop in the freezer for 20 mins or so, then remove and cut into 1cm slices. 


Place them on a baking tray and pop them into a preheated oven at 170 C for 20 – 25 mins or until the edges start to turn golden. Allow them to cool on the tray for ten mins and then transfer to a wire rack.


They’re crumbly and yummy! Enjoy with a cup of tea or give them to someone you love!

Guilt Free Goodies – delicious treats! – a review


It’s been nearly 18 months since I first reviewed the lovely treats from Guilt Free Goodies. Since then it’s been such a pleasure to see Natasha’s business thrive and grow. I still regularly buy treats from her and have given them as gifts too. I thought I would repost my review just in case any of you haven’t yet had a chance to check out her goodies.

The best bit is that Natasha has very kindly set up a discount code for all of you lovely lot so if you place an order you will get 5% off! Just enter this code at checkout 🙂  NANCYGFG5%OFF

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Since my review her product range has really expanded with some truly delicious new treats – including delicious cookies, raw chocolates and chocolate truffles (as well as more flavours of her other treats like bites and bars). I’ve tried quite a few and they are all delicious – I particularly like the peanutter white chocolate truffles and raw raspberry ruffle truffle! Oooh and the salted caramel almond slice! Divine!

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There are also hampers available at the moment for christmas – you’ll have to get in wuick though if you want to pre-order them! check them out here.

And most exciting of all, Natasha has released her first ebook! So you can have a go at creating some treats at home! Order yours here. It’s beautifully put together and has a really lovely range of treats. It’s well written and set out and easy to follow so I’d definitely recommend it 🙂

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Here’s my review from last year:

I had the great pleasure this week of being sent a beautiful box of treats from Guilt Free Goodies.

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This UK, home-based business is run by Natasha and her partner, who produce homemade, all natural, healthy goodies – from granolas, nut butters to delicious treats and cakes. They’re perfect for anyone looking for dairy-free treats, diabetics and those wanting refined sugar-free treats (only natural sweeteners are used) or following the “paleo” diet. They’re also great for anyone who’s just health conscious and wants to watch what they eat. They can also make most of their products (granola, bites, energy balls and butters) suitable for vegans (some products do contain egg or honey).

I was sent this delightful selection of:

Peanut butter surprise muffin

Cashew butter, coconut and blueberry energy balls

Honey and peanut granola

Salted caramel almond bites

The first thing I noticed is how lovely the packaging was – all the items are beautifully packaged with lovely little touches like the handwritten notes. They’re also really securely packaged so nothing was damaged in transit.

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As instructed I popped the almond bites in the freezer (top tip – highly recommended!) and the first item I tucked in to was the cashew, coconut and blueberry energy balls. After a busy morning teaching spin and bodypump I was famished and needed something quick to munch on. These really hit the spot – full of goodness and flavour. Really satisfying and tasty too – not too sweet but sweet enough to satisfy 🙂

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Later that afternoon I was in dire need of a boost so thought I’d try the granola next – I served it with some homemade compote from my friend Colette and a big dollop of soya yoghurt.

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It was absolutely divine – crunchy and crisp with a great mix of nut and fruit. The sweetness wasn’t overpowering either which was great. I had to eek it out as otherwise I’d have eaten it all in one go! As it’s full of good fats (from the nuts) it really sustained me for my evening classes which is exactly what I needed. This would be just as good served with a little almond milk or yoghurt for brekkie, or as a decadent treat you could serve it with some coconut yoghurt or ice cream for dessert! Yum!

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I saved the muffin for a mid-morning snack with a cuppa. This was a really nice treat. Now it’s not like a traditional muffin so don’t be surprised. It’s a lot smaller but it’s also much denser. I really like this about it – it’s moist and squishy (in a good way!) and although small it’s exactly the right amount for a snack. I loved the peanut butter in the middle of this one. The nice thing about these muffins is that they really fill you up in a way traditional muffins just don’t.

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I saved the best until last – the almond bites. I was most excited about these – they looked delicious and I’m such a sucker for anything almond-based so I had high hopes.

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I was not disappointed in the slightest. These were so good! They’re definitely best out the freezer – the base goes all crispy and the caramel stays soft. The combination of the caramel, a whole almond in the middle (!), and lovely chocolate on the top is just fab!

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So all in all I was really impressed with all these products. They certainly live up to their reputation and satisfy your cravings without ruining any of your hard work!

I just love that this is a home-run business, run by someone who clearly puts their heart and soul in to their products. I’d definitely recommend them so do go and try them. You can also buy hampers or sample boxes and they’d make great gifts for the health foodlovers in your life. I’m really looking forward to ordering some of Natasha’s other products now – especially the loaf cakes and nut butters! 🙂

You can find out more about the products and place orders from their facebook page – here: Guilt Free Goodies or their new online shop here: Guilt Free Goodies Eshop.

Do check them out! and if you do let me know what you think 🙂

 

A host of Easter Treats


With Easter upon us I thought I’d share a few of my favourite, slightly healthier but equally yummy Easter recipes.

So if chocolate is your thing then why not try some quick, raw chocolates like these chocolate coconut treats, or the raw chocolate filled eggs and fruit eggs, or if you fancy something with a little more kick – why not try the chilli chocs.

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Or how about whipping up some quick, cute, marzipan bunnies!

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What about creating a quick batch of Easter spiced biscuits, or some fresh, light lemon and chia cookies to dunk in your afternoon tea on Easter Sunday.

If you’re feeling adventurous you could try my coffee and amaretto cupcakes (using any instant coffee you have to hand).

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And finally..it wouldn’t be Easter without some hot cross buns right? Try my better bun recipe for some hot cross fun! 🙂

Happy Easter! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Primal Snack Box – A wonderful box of delicious goodies! A review


I am lucky enough to get some pretty awesome things to review and this is definitely right up there with my favourites.

If you haven’t heard of them Primal Snack Box are the UK’s first monthly paleo snack box delivery service. You can sign up for a regular delivery or you can just buy a one off box and they have two types – Forest or Savannah (Savannah contains meat products). Now although I’m not “paleo”  the Forest box is vegan so totally ticks the boxes for me and they were lovely enough to send me one to try. They were even lovelier and also gave me a special code for you guys to get 10% off your first box! Just use the special code PUREANDSIMPLEBAKES on check out – just click through and place your order! (after you’ve read my review of course 😉 )

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Now first off – the presentation is fab! It arrives in a lovely sturdy box, well packaged and really feels like you’re opening up a little gift – it’s so beautifully put together and there’s even a little menu! I think I’m in love already!

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This box arrived at a time when I was about to dog-sit for my friend for 2 weeks so I was constantly on the go and often needed something to grab and eat as I took the dogs out – this box was perfect. That also explains why most of the photos are in the woods!

Primal snack work with small producers which is another thing I really love  and it’s a great way of introducing you to products you may not otherwise have come across.The box contained all these wonderful things!

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Fit bites – these were really good – little balls of fruit and nut – like little power houses of energy. You get two in a pack, they’re generously sized and they tasted delish – great shot of energy for the walk.

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Lifebar – Berry, Maca and Baobab –  now this was a surprise  – never tried one before and wasn’t sure what to expect but it was lovely! Tangy yet creamy, chewy and really filling. Will definitely get these again!

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SAF Raw sweet potato crackers – I had these for my lunch, spread with wasabi hummus and tofu and they were fab! They’re a nice thick cracker, not super crunchy but with some crack and not soggy at all. They held up under the hummus too and didn’t go soft. Loved the flavour and they are super filling. Another one I will definitely get again.

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Roo’bar – inca berry – another delicious tangy bar – a good size for a snack and really tasty. Look how happy I am with it! 🙂

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MadeGood – almond apricot – now to be honest I was expecting an overly sweet, bog standard cereal-type bar here… but no – not at all. This is all nuts and fruit (naturally as it’s Paleo) and was really tasty. Sweet but not overly so and full of good stuff – tasted great!

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Wyldsson Italian Promix – This was probably the most unusual thing in there for me – I’m not used to savoury snacks like this. It was good – I downed half of it – it’s not too tomato-ey or salty but it is tasty. I sprinkled the rest over my salad :). Really nice and I wouldn’t have tried if it hadn’t been in the box as it’s not the sort of thing I’d go for in a store.

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Nothing But – Beetroot and Parsnip – these are exactly that – nothing but.. dehydrated beetroot and parsnip crisps. They’re really yummy – no added salt or flavour and make a perfect vessel to dip in to hummus! As a savoury snack on their own I think I’d want a bit of salt however, but that’s easily done. No nasties in them at all and the beetroot ones weren’t overpowering in flavour.

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Two bags of mixes from Primal themselves – the mulberry mix (almonds, mulberries and pumpkin seeds) and the good fats mix (cashew, macadmia and coconut) – perfect snack sized bags of 40g and both delicious. A great way to control your portion size too. Lovely combinations of flavours.

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Finally – Ombar – cranberry and mandarin. Now anyone who follows this blog knows I have a penchant for orange chocolate so this was bound to be a winner. This raw choc is lovely – and even nicer dunked (quickly!) in a cup of tea! Creamy smooth chocolate, but not too melty to the touch and a lovely hint of flavour – definitely the thumbs up from me!

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So all in all a pretty amazing box of goodies! What I really love is the way you get a great range and selection of snacks for your money – and things you may not otherwise have tried. There’s a good balance of sweet and savoury, slightly naughtier and also healthier treats and all packaged so beautifully. A box would make a fantastic gift for someone, or a great way to introduce someone to healthier snacking. I’m going to order myself another box right now!

Thanks again Primal Snack Box for keeping me going on those dog walks and vastly improving my snacking over the past few weeks!

Now don’t forget – you can get 10% off your first box by using the special discount code PUREANDSIMPLEBAKES – just click through and place your order!

You can order your own here: http://primalsnackbox.co.uk/

And find them on facebook, twitter and instagram!

 

Treating myself – Divaliciously Raw, a review


Every now and then it’s important to look after yourself, so when I stumbled across this site –Divaliciously Raw and all Gail’s amazing goodies I decided I should most definitely take the opportunity to treat myself to some deliciousness! I couldn’t decide what to try so went for the Valentine’s box, which gave me a taste of all her main products. Although that box won’t always be available as a package, all the contents are. They are all raw, gluten, wheat and egg free and vegan!

It arrived so beautifully packed – it really was like receiving a valentine’s gift! There was even a card!

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And then just look at how stunning these cakes look! I couldn’t believe it! Wow – just wow!

IMG_1275So in my box of goodies I got:

Raspberry Rapture Love Bomb

Magical Mint Love Bomb

Oriental Orange (Orange and Ginger) Love Bomb

Two Goji Bites

Ultimate bar

Zinger Bar

Unconditional Love Cake

Now where to start…Firstly they were all beautiful so it was really hard to know what to try first! I ended up going for the love bombs.

The love bombs were just perfect – lovely chocolatey coating, moist cake inside and then a surprise creamy filling. The flavours are really good in these and they really feel like a decadent dessert. They have a great nuttiness to them and a texture that really works. The creamy filling is definitely the best bit and it was hard not to eat them all at once! I’m not sure which my favourite flavour was to be honest – they were all so good!

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Goji bites – these were a lot larger than I expected – which was great! They’re a little harder in texture than the bombs and kinda crumble in to your mouth – which i really liked. Lovely flavours – nutty and with enough goji to really taste it and balance the chocolate.

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Ultimate bar and the zinger bar – these were both delish. The ultimate bar has mulberries, goji berries and buckwheaties in which give it a fantastic crunch and sweetness – this was great dipped in a cup of tea! The Zinger was just bursting with flavour from the Incan (golden) berries which were a great balance to the dark raw chocolate.

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Last and by NO means least – the unconditional love cake! Sharing is caring so I did share this – not only with my very good friend Colette, but also with my husband. And we all agreed this was out of this world. Raw chocolate, filled with raw chocolate cake, chocolate ganache, caramel and a malted cashew cream. Oh my word! This was just amazing! Definitely my favourite!

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So there you go! That was one big, delicious treat for me! I highly recommend you check out Gail’s page on facebook and place an order. The cakes aren’t cheap but the amount of love, care and sheer dedication that’s gone in to them mean they are most definitely worth every penny and they’re not small either so you’re getting a lot of cake for your buck! Do let me know if you try any!

 

 

Nancy’s Mince Pies! gluten and dairy free!


It’s mince pie time again! whoop! It’s so hard to find plant-based, dairy and gluten free mince pies that don’t taste like cardboard so I decided to make my own and boy are they good! I could eat these by the dozen… and in fact I do!

This recipe has been posted here before but has recently been featured over at Pure Form Fitness Kitchen so I thought I’d repost for you 🙂

and here’s a little video of me making them too :

For the Pastry:

4 oz Buckwheat flour
2 oz ground Almonds
5 tbsp Agave nectar
Up to 6 tbsp Water

For the Mincemeat:

3 oz Bramley apples, cored and finely chopped
6 oz Mixed dried fruit (I prefer raisins, currants, cranberries and apricots)
1 oz Vegetable suet
2 oz Raw sugar (coconut palm or dark raw muscovado)
Juice and grated zest of half an Orange
1 level tsp of ground allspice
1 pinch ground Cinnamon
1 pinch ground Cloves
1 pinch grated / ground Nutmeg
1 small handful chopped Almonds
1 tbsp Date syrup

Make the pastry first. Put the buckwheat flour and ground almonds in a processor and add the agave. Pulse and gradually add the water until it forms a dough. You may find you need more or less water. If it is too wet add a little more flour. Once it is forming a firm dough remove, wrap in cling-film and place the mixture in the fridge. You can do this by hand if you prefer – just ensure you mix the flour and almonds thoroughly.

Put all the ingredients for the mincemeat into a saucepan. Cook on a low heat, stirring frequently. Cook until the apple is soft and the mixture is thick – it may take some time. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Preheat the oven to 180 C/ gas mark 6.

Lightly oil a mini muffin tin with almond, coconut or hazelnut oil. Remove pastry from the fridge and roll out on a lightly floured surface. Roll it as thin as you can – a few mm. Use a round biscuit cutter to cut out the bases. Place them in the tin. Place in an oven to blind bake for 5–10 mins. Keep an eye on them – this pastry browns quite fast. Once the edges are brown and the middle is firm remove them. While the cases are in the oven take a smaller star shaped (or any shaped) biscuit cutter to cut out the “lids”.

Roll and cut out the pastry cases and lids

Roll and cut out the pastry cases and lids

 

 

Place a generous helping of mincemeat in each of the cases and place your chosen “lid” on top. Lightly oil and sprinkle with a little cinnamon and raw sugar.

Fill the cases and add the lids

Fill the cases and add the lids

Place the pies back in the oven and bake until golden (5 – 7 mins but check regularly). Keep a careful eye on them. You want the tops to brown but be careful the bases don’t burn. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 mins, then remove and place on a wire cooling rack.

Enjoy!

Enjoy!

Christmas Gingerbread Tree – gluten and dairy free


The gingerbread christmas tree has become a bit of a tradition for me now and my friend’s husband is a big fan so I couldn’t let this year pass without making him one. This is a quick dough to make and is something fun to do on Christmas Eve 🙂

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To make the gingerbread biscuits: (if you’re going for a really big tree then you can always double this)

1/3 cup Olive oil

3/4 cup unrefined raw sugar (golden raw caster sugar, coconut palm sugar, or dark raw cane sugar)

1/4 cup molasses

1/4 cup soya milk

1 cup amaranth flour / quinoa flour

1 cup gluten free flour mix (make your own or you can use an organic pre-mixed one. If you want low gluten not gluten free then go for spelt flour instead of the amaranth and gluten free flours)

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 and 1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp Himalayan rock salt salt

Whisk the oil and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the soya milk and the molasses and whisk all together. Sieve the flours, spices and baking powder, salt and bicarbonate of soda in to the wet ingredients and mix until it forms a dough. The dough may seem quite moist. You want it to be workable but not so sticky that you can’t lift it. Add a bit more flour if it is too wet. Wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge to chill for an hour if you can (the dough can be left in the fridge for several days so you don’t have to use it all at once. It can also be frozen).

Preheat the oven to 175 C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Roll the dough out on a floured surface. It’s worth trying small amounts of dough at a time and be generous with the flour. It will stick a bit but don’t worry. You want it to be rolled out fairly thin but not too thin – maybe 5mm thick or so.

To make the tree you need star cutters of different sizes. If you don’t have them don’t fret. Draw some stars out on a piece of card and use them to draw around 🙂 If you want to make a massive tree then you could use more stars. You want at least 2 or 3 of each sized star. I used two tiny christmas tree shaped cutter for the very top, but you could use another star.

Cut out the biscuits and transfer to the baking tray. Bake for 8 minutes. Then remove from the oven and allow to cool on the tray for 3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. They will seem soft when they come out the oven but as they cool they harden. If you want super crispy biscuits just pop them back in the oven for another few minutes.

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For the icing:

1/2 cup raw icing sugar

1 tsp soya milk (or any non dairy milk)

Mix the icing sugar with the milk until it’s smooth. If the icing is too runny just add more icing sugar until you get the consistency you want. Transfer to a piping bag (if you don’t have one then use a plastic freezer bag and snip the corner off to pipe through).

Assemble the tree!

This is the fun bit 🙂

Start with your biggest star and place it on the plate. Add a glob of icing to the centre and stick the next star on top (arranged so the points don’t overlap).  Then add a glob of icing to the top of the uppermost star and stick the next one one… continue, going down in size until you get to the top! I then added a glob of icing and popped two tree shaped biscuits on the top.

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Now you can decorate each layer. Pipe icing on to the points of the bottom star and decorate with silver balls, gold balls, edible glitter etc.

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Finally dust with icing sugar so it’s all snowy-looking! Then you’re done!

yay! 🙂

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