Posts tagged vanilla
Raw chocolate vanilla balls

`i have a super simple treat for you today!

Simple, sweet.... and quick to knock together in your kitchen in just 5 minutes.

It's a totally versatile recipe too and so I have purposely added lots of options in the ingredients... the main thing is that is smooshed up well in your food processor and contains the right amount of dates to make it sticky (add a teensy bit of water if you struggle to get it sticky enough!)

These could be made into a slab, sliced into squares and then dusted with cocoa but there is something fun and childlike about rolling small balls. You can just pop a couple on your mouth when sweet cravings arises, because they are dusted in cocoa they won't stick together either so are great in a little food bag to take on the road, or mix them up with nuts for a indulgent trail mix. 

These balls are chocolate vanilla but just add other extracts if you want to change them up. The cocoa creates a great bitter sweet hit as well since the coating is not sweetened but gives a hint of rich chocolatelyness (yes that is a word ok!)

You know what i'm going to say now don't you... just be experimental and get creative in the kitchen!  You can't go wrong with these little balls.

Recipe: Raw chocolate vanilla balls


  • 2 cups chopped dates 
  • 1 cup chopped nuts/seeds- try ground almonds, desiccated coconut, seeds, chopped nuts
  • approx. 3tbs cup cocoa or (raw cacao for extra nutrients)
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or powder (other spices or extracts such as ginger, almond or lemon would be great too)


Blend dates until soft and sticky- if your dates are very hard or you have a less powerful processor, you may need to soak and drain them first (this may also mean you need a little more dried ingredients). Add the nuts/seeds plus spice/extract blend until well mixed and sticky.

Roll into tiny balls with you hands and then dust in cocoa or are cacao. Chill in the fridge until firm.  Tis will last a png time in the fridge (multiple weeks- not that they'll last that long) or you can freeze them too and eat straight from the freezer if you like a hard chewy candy!

Why not sign up for my newsletter in my sidebar where I feature roundups and special offers plus my FREE ebook. If you are new round here check out my 'About' and 'Getting Started' tabs up top. To buy nibbles you can also find me over at Wholeplus.  

Day to day you can always find me hanging out in these places:

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF
I can't stop eating nut butter! (a recipe and other news)

Seriously, I can't stop eating nut butter!! 

Okay, let's backtrack a little. You may remember this post where I talked about digestion and different ways in which foods can help us, I also briefly mentioned I've been having a few issues myself. Well the issues have persisted and two weeks ago I finally decide to do something about it since my own attempts weren't coming to much. I saw a kinesiologist who, after performing an array of muscle testing, advised that amongst a few other mineral imbalances I had candida issues. The dreaded sugarfree diet ensued…

So for the last two weeks I have been on a strict anti-candida diet. No sugar of any kind. No fruit of any kind. No sweet vegetables of any kind.

So what have I actually been eating? Lots of greens, beans and pulses, some porridge (minus the fruit)… AND a ridiculous amount of nut butter!!

I never truly appreciated the idea that fat helps crowd out sugar cravings, but that's exactly what seems to have taken place. I made the 'mistake' of making a couple of sweet nut butter concoctions… they were so good I literally consumed a whole jar last weekend ;-/

I'm hoping this is just an adjustment phase and that once I've got my head around things a little bit more and have come up with other recipes to snack on and substitute the foods I miss then it will become easier.

I had two main concerns in beginning this diet:

1- In running Wholeplus I always test the recipe batches as I produce them and not being able to test any of the mixture for 4+ weeks is going to be extremely tricky indeed. But i'll find a way.

2- I didn't want to have a boring recipe blog for the next month as sweet and fruity things are always up there on the agenda from me and a month of savouries wasn't necessarily my idea of fun for you lot.

So I have an idea...

Starting from April I will be hosting a guest-post slot once a week to bring you recipes from others in the healthy nutrition field. I will update you more about this in a few days time so keep your eyes peeled.  I also have a few extra recipes up my sleeve that i haven't yet blogged.

In other news, I have been loaned a juicer to test and review for the blog… much excitement here as I've been in talks with Tribest UK for a number of weeks since I was very keen to get involved with the whole juicing game. I will be posting a full review and recipes shortly, you may have already seen a few pics crop up on my Instagram if you follow me there.

Lastly, I didn't want to leave without giving you a little recipe or two…

These are both candida friendly AND entire-human-population-friendly recipes as they are so simple and so good! One lesson I've learned so far on the candida diet is that when stevia is your only option for sweetness, use cinnamon and vanilla spices very liberally as they help to balance the taste of the stevia and also naturally give the impression of sweetness themselves so make for the perfect option when creating lightly sweet treats. Cashews also have a subtle creamy sweetness so made the perfect base for these butters. 

Make these and you'll appreciate exactly why I can't stop eating nut-butter. You have been warned :-)

P.s If anyone has been on the candida diet or has any tips for me… be sure to throw them my way!!  

vanilla spread 1a.jpg

Recipe: Vanilla and cinnamon cashew butter

Makes 1 jar


  • 2 tbs coconut oil
  • 3 cups cashews (soak the cashews unless you have a high powered processor)*
  • 2 tsp vanilla powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 5 drops stevia*


Melt the coconut oil and then blend with the remaining ingredints in a food processor until the cashews are ground very finely and you have a silky smooth spread.

Recipe: Chocolate cashew spread

Makes 1 jar


  • ½ cup cacao liquor chips
  • 2 tbs coconut oil
  • 3 cups cashews*
  • 1 heaped tbs vanilla powder
  • 10 drops stevia*


Melt cacao and coconut oil and then blend with the remining ingredints in a food processor until the cashews are ground as finely as possible and you have a smooth spread. 


* This would probably work well and be even smoother with 1-2 tbs syrup instead of the stevia for those not on a candida diet (not tested).

* I have a very powerful food processor that blitzed the cashews as they were, but you may have more success and a creamier result by soaking the cashews for a few hours first and discarding the soaking water before proceeding with the recipe. Note- the resulting butter may be a little less thick and would be advisable to keep in the fridge due to the slight water content potentially affecting the shelf life.


I'd love you to join me in other places too!  

Why not sign up foemails in my sidebar where I feature roundups and special offers. If you are new round here check out my 'About' and 'Getting Started' tabs up top. To buy nibbles you can also find me over at Wholeplus.  Day to day you can also find me in these places:

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF
No-bake vanilla pie bites

Last week I took part in the World's biggest Coffee Morning,  this particular one was hosted by Barefoot Therapies.

cake for blog.jpg

There was soooo much cake of all varieties, of course I took some of my on treats along (front of photo) and they went down a storm and the kids loved them too. The bites I took was the mint choc and vanilla versions of my Wholeplus range presented in larger squares, plus some of the worlds healthiest truffles. It reminded me that i had made a batch of 'vanilla pie bites' a while back but had never got round to posting is the perfect opportunity!

I've been making lots of smoosh bars in recent weeks and months, experimenting with lots of different flavour combinations. Another simple is often the best.

These mini vanilla pies are the simplest combination of ingredients and by squashing them into flattened balls instead of forming them into bars they become even more pie-like especially when dusted with a little extra coconut.

You really need to recipe but i'll give you one anyway, all you need is a decent food processor and not a particular powerful one at that. A pinch of salt will help the flavours pop but isn't necessary if you prefer to omit. 

For free to make bars or any shape you wish, you could also keep it loose and crumbly for breakfast sprinkle topping if that's more your thing, perfect sprinkled over a plain nondairy yoghurt or over a bowl of morning oatmeal. The great thing about these bites is that they are nut free and so suitable for lunch boxes too!

coconut pie 2.jpg

Recipe: No-bake vanilla pie bites

Makes approx. 20


  • 250g dates
  • 100g shredded coconut
  • 50g oatmeal or ground buckwheat (or extra coconut)
  • 2 tsp vanilla powder
  • pinch salt


Blend dates to form a chunky paste and then add all remaining ingredients and blend until sticky enough to form 'pies' press extra coconut onto the top if desired.  

coconut pie 4.jpg
coconut pie 1.jpg
Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF
Battenberg Cake…with a difference

So this month’s Daring Bakers challenge is….Battenberg cake.

Mandy of What The Fruitcake?! came to our rescue last minute to present us with the Battenberg Cake challenge! She highlighted Mary Berry’s techniques and recipes to allow us to create this unique little cake with ease.

Battenburg- the classic chequered sponge cake, sandwiched together with jam and all wrapped up in a marzipan jacket!

Marzipan is a tricky one, the traditional version is full of powdered sugar and although it's generally vegan I still have difficulty in endorsing such a sugary treat here on my blog! I have been trying to suss out a sugar free marzipan for quite some time now, with some degree of success here in my Christmas Stollen and my the toppings for the super-cute Christmas puds.

But when it comes to a rollable marzipan I have not yet had a breakthrough!

However this challenge allowed us to push the boundaries beyond a traditional Battenberg as long as we held true to the chequered sponge concept with a sweet covering whether it be marzipan, fondant or chocolate. So, one idea came to my mind straight away….

….the ‘world’s healthiest chocolate fudge’!

I had tried rolling the fudge dough previously to make these hearts and it worked really well, so I figured it could also work really well as the Battenberg covering.  That then just left the sponge and the flavours to choose. I opted for a plain vanilla sponge alongside a raspberry sponge (although it has taken on more of a brown tinge in the photos), that allowed me to use sugar-free raspberry jam as the sole sweetener in the raspberry sponge.  I opted to try my ‘easiest ever gluten free sponge’ recipe as the basis for this cake as i really wanted to go gluten free for this recipe.

In hindsight I wish I’d gone for a different sponge recipe, as whilst that simple sponge works well as a small super-simple mug cake, it just didn’t really do it for me as larger oven baked sponge. There was nothing drastically wrong with it, I just felt it could have been a lot more delicate with a lighter crumb. I also wish now that I’d rolled the fudge wrap a little thinner before wrapping the sponge slices.

The overall concept was a great success and the chocolate fudge coating worked a treat (particularly if I’d rolled it more finely), however after eating a slice with the sponge, I got the feeling that the sponge was not doing the cake justice. So what did I decide to do?  Peel the fudge off and reform it into fudge balls of course. Mmmm…much better!

Try this frosting…go on give it a go! It is so easy to form and model that you can cut it into rounds, bars, roll it out as an icing layer or even turn it into a soft piped healthy frosting as I did here with thes cupcakes.

I will give the Battenberg another go with an alternative sponge recipe at some point soon. This fudge frosting is so versatile that I want to give it a proper chance to do my Battenberg proud!

This link takes you to the original Daring Bakers Challenge notes with  plenty of alternate recipes for battenberg to try.

Recipe: Healthy Battenberg Cake

Makes 1 approx. 7” long cake

Ingredients: chocolate fudge frosting

  • ½  can black beans- rinsed and drained
  • 1 mashed banana
  • ½ cup cocoa powder (or raw cacoa powder)
  • 1/3 cup dates
  • ¼ cup cranberries
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½  tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp stevia
  • ½ cup ground oats
  • 2 tbs ground flax
  • 2 tbs chia seeds


Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until a smooth pliable dough is formed. The dough should be fairly tacky but not sticky and should easy to handle.

Roll out the dough on a sheet of parchment or similar for easily handling. Roll to achieve desired thickness and then, using thr parchment to assist, carefully drape across the jam coated sponge to create the finish Battenberg.

Ingredients: simple vanilla sponge

  • ½ cup buckwheat flour (or other GF grain)
  • 3 tbs ground almonds
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ cup plain soy yoghurt (or regular)
  • 2 tbs agave (for vanilla version)
  • 2 tbs sugar free raspberry jam (for raspberry version)


Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl and then add wet ingredients (other than agave and jam) and mix together well.  

Divide the mixture between two bowls and then add the agave and jam to a bowl each.  Note: to achieve a deeper red/pink colour you may need to add a few drops of food colouring.

You will now have two different coloured/flavoured mixtures. Spoon each into a 7” square  baking tin divided down the centre with parchment paper and foil to prevent the batters mixing (foil helps make a more ridged central partition).

Bake in  pre-heated oven  at 180C for approx. 15 mins until very lightly golden.

Assembling the Battenberg: 

Cut the slices of sponge into neat squares and arrange in a larger square with each flavour on the diagonal. Paint each edge with slightly runny sugar-free raspberry jam and then firmly wrap the chocolate fudge frosting around the entire cake, ensuring an overlap to seal.

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF
Celebrations all round……easiest ever fat-free vanilla sponge!

Today it is the official day of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Street parties and bunting have dominated the country this (cold and rainy) weekend. All the packaging in the shops has also gone mad for the jubilee…take this for example:

image   source

image source

Well, it made me smile!

Myself, well I have another small reason to celebrate, well two in fact!

On Saturday I won a prize with a photo I’d submitted to a competition for nature photography , the image I submitted was this one. It meant a lot to me as I’m hoping to push my photography to the next level over the coming months and not just in the area of food photography, so this small element of recognition inspired my confidence!

Secondly, drum roll please…..

…..This post is my 200th post on this blog!

Wow, that seems crazy to me and to think less than nine months ago none of this existed.   

To celebrate all of these things I wanted to make a jubilee inspired cake. For this occasion I have created my easiest ever fat free GF vanilla sponge.  It takes the form of a mug cake in its simplicity but here I have dolloped the sponge in the same way I did with this birthday cake to create a pretty stack! 

You could use other GF or spelt flours in place of the buckwheat as I have used.  Then let your imagination run wild with layering combinations…. Berries and cashew cream (or yoghurt for a lighter version) make the perfect summer pudding centrepiece with minimal effort!

If you have no celebration coming up…simply celebrate being alive, that in itself it pretty amazing after all!

Recipe: fat free vanilla sponge

Serves one as 3 dollops or 1 mug cake


  • 3tbs buckwheat flour (or other mild flavoured GF flour)
  • 1 tbs ground almonds
  • 1 tsp agave
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • Scant ½ tsp baking powder
  • 3tbs plain soy yoghurt (or regular yoghurt for non-vegan)


Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl and then add wet ingredients and mix together well.

Either spoon into a microwavable bowl/mug for a mug cake or spoon in little round dollops on a microwavable plate to serve as flat sponges that can be layered up with fruit and cream in between.

Cook in the microwave  on full powder for 1 minute for flat dollops or slightly longer for a mug cake. Alternatively cook in the oven for approx.. 10-15 mins depending on size until ever so lightly golden.

Add-ins: substitute 1tbs flour for cocoa powder. Add a tablespoon of nuts/dried fruits /fresh fruit/choc chunks…..

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF
Easter Bunny’s

My Easter Bunny’s were supposed to look cute….but instead they look more like scary robo-bunny’s with crazy gnashy teeth…Oops!  Oh well, I think they still look kinda goofy cute in their own little way.

I’m getting in my Easter themed recipes in good time, organisation-love it! I have a couple more up my sleeve in coming days so keep your eyes peeled. Easter is typically a time for chocolate I know….don’t worry I have that sussed too!

It’s the principle that is the main thing here, little Easter themed cupcakes that are simple to dress up however you like with your favourite cupcake and frosting combo, or feel free to use  recipes below. I bet yours will look better than mine!  These cupcakes are made using spelt flour, but you could use a GF cupcake recipe instead. In this recipe I trialled both spelt and GF to good effect, but I cant testify this for a larger batch of cupcakes.

So back to the robo-bunny’s...

It’s all pretty simply really. Bake your cupcake in the usual way and then using a very sharp knife (to get as clean edges as possible) cut an oval out of the top of the cupcake- I say oval instead of circle so that the ears are a little longer than they are wide. Fill the ‘hole’ with frosting of your choice (mine was lemony although now I wish I’d added a drop of food colouring too), you could go crazy and go for the chocolate frosting. Once filled, press the ears in and add a couple of dried blueberries or currants for the eyes…and, er maybe avoid coconut flakes for the teeth unless you can do a better job than me!

Simple…and cute (ish)

My cupcakes were basic vanilla cupcakes with a lemony frosting. The frosting will be firmer if it is fresh from the fridge, mine was a slightly runnier than I would have liked but I think that was due to the cupcakes still being ever so slightly warm- note to self: allow cupcakes to cool fully.

I’d love to see your Easter themed successes (or disasters!) whether they be bunny’s or not, feel free to link in the comments below.

Recipe: Lemon frosting

Makes approx. ¾ cup


  • ½ cup silken tofu
  • 1/3 cup cashew butter
  • 5 tbs agave syrup (or part stevia)
  • Zest of one lemon plus ½ tsp lemon extract

(note: if you use stevia to sweeten you could use a little real lemon juice to help flavour as this will replace the liquid that the agave would have provided and still not make it too runny)


Blend everything together well and chill before use.

Recipe: vanilla cupcake

Makes approx. 12 cupcakes. (based on this recipe)


  • 200g white spelt flour
  • 75g potato starch
  • 1tsp flax seed mixed with 1tbs hot water
  • 3tsp baking powder 
  • 1tbs bicarbonate of soda
  • 50g agave
  • 70g granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp stevia
  • 100ml melted coconut butter
  • 50ml apple puree
  • 50ml soy yoghurt
  • 150ml orange juice
  • 150ml soy milk
  • 2tsp vanilla extract


Blend all liquids in food processor and melt coconut oil separately then mix in. Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl then pour into the wet ingredients and beat well to get a smooth mixture. Pour into cupcake cased and bake at 180C  for 10-15 mins. I found these needed turning round every 5 minutes to ensure an even rise.

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF
Vanilla extract (prepare it now for xmas!)

When it comes to the flavours and spices in my baking, I have a few favourites (other than chocolate!!) cinnamon, ginger and vanilla are my top three, they also happen to team up well with chocolate…..

It occurred to me a few weeks back that I get through a lot of vanilla, and for good quality (I use Nielsen-Massey) it gets pretty expensive.  Hmmm, I wonder if I could make my own?

Subsequent investigations revealed that yes indeed I could, and actually it’s pretty cheap and simple to do.  The instructions I have listed below are quite paired back and are the summary of my findings as a quick-fire user friendly set of instructions to follow as you go.  I did however review a variety of sources in putting these together. This is the best resource I found giving much more in depth background information, and also here is another recipe resource you may also find as a useful guide.

All the reviews indicated that the extract would be ready to use after about 8 weeks, and that it would continue to infuse for the months to follow. Quick… make some up now and you’ll have fab little Christmas gifts for the foodies in your life!!  

Recipe: Home-made vanilla extract


  • 35-40% rum or vodka
  • Vanilla beans

That is it!

I am making a few bottles each of rum and vodka for a taste comparison. I purchased six empty 250ml bottles or the vanilla and one 70CL bottle each of rum and vodka- thus three small bottles of each type of extract. (perfect pressie options… unless I keep them all to myself!) I used approx. 50 vanilla beans all together- Ebay have some great deals in organic beans. I used cheap alcohol varieties as my consensus (and the consensus of my integrate searches) was that once fully infused the extract will dominate any of the original alcohol flavouring.


Sterilise all equipment prior to use with boiling water.

Use approx. 8 vanilla beans for each 250ml bottle of extract. Cut each of the beans in half exposing the 'caviar' in the middle. Some guides suggested scraping out the caviar to get a greater surface area when it is all added to the bottle, however I felt that this wasn’t necessary as there was still a lot of exposed surface area once the bean was slit and it seemed like unnecessary mess (I usually love a good bit of mess but had wastage!) Fill the bottle(s) evenly with the split beans and then add the alcohol of choice. Secure the lid (I used a screw top with a pourer) then give a good shake, keep shaking… shaking…. Shaking!!

Shake once a day for about a week and then a few times a week thereafter for 8-12 weeks until ready. 

I can’t wait to take a good sniff of the stuff once its begun to deeply infuse… oooh the anticipation.

Why not sign up for my newsletter in my sidebar where you get blog post round ups plus other goodies (such as special offers, challenges and collaborations) right there in your inbox!

Day to day you can always find me hanging out in these places:

Instagram   -   Facebook   -   Twitter   -   Pinterest

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF