Posts tagged wholeplus
The journey of Wholeplus... (a birthday reflection)

Facebook reminded me of this picture this morning.

This still gives me tingles every time I see it... I can't believe this is five years ago already.

As I reflect this morning I realise how the journey of Wholeplus is such a powerful reflection of my own personal evolution. So I decided to write it down.

WP launch May2013.jpg

It all began as a tiny spark of an idea off the back of a challenge from a trainer at the gym I go to. I was complaining about the junk filled protein bars that so many people eat after a gym work out intended to better their health. It makes me sad. "Oh right, you try and make something better then" he said, ..."Ok, I will", I responded and I remember feeling surprised by the sense of my inner commitment so deep I knew I would follow through.

And just like that Wholeplus was born.

From the naivety of my curious mind, I had absolutely no idea what lay in store.

I began designing everything from scratch. The branding, the website, the promotional materials, the packaging, the social media growth, the recipes developments ... all my own creation and hours of time experimenting, learning and implementing the technicalities.

It has all evolved so much since.

I originally began with four product lines in three flavours each- the first one being a vegan protein-based product and the second product being tiny cubes (bliss ball style). I spent hours and hours pressing mixture into metal trays and cutting up literally thousands of small cubes with a huge double ended knife. (sore hands!)

November 2013

November 2013

First packaging of the protein product. May 2013

First packaging of the protein product. May 2013

First branding (cringe!!)

First branding (cringe!!)

Over the following 18 months I refined my processes and whittled it down to two products lines in a wider range of flavours - the Hotpots and the Toppers. The Hotpots (instant porridge sachets) were the last to be let go at the end of 2016 due to practicalities of production. They were popular and I still hope to bring them back one day when the time is right.

I forged ahead with the Toppers. The creative sweet sprinkle topping.

From 2014-16 I had loads of orders coming through. It was the time when the subscription box model was newborn and the more I was featured, the more other companies found me and wanted to feature me too.

Then, I got a big Wholesale white label order which brought in a consistent income every other month. This was followed by my biggest order to date. 3000 tubs of Toppers shipped to Germany on a pallet. I had no idea what I was doing, seriously winging it and saying yes to life. In the lead up to that delivery, the entire house was taken up with boxes of product lining the hallway almost floor to ceiling. I employed my dad to help me.

Life was in flow...

Then in late 2016 things slowed dramatically, the subscription box model changed and they no longer paid brands for their product but instead pitched it as a 'free marketing opportunity'. That was a massive game changer for me as there was no way it was viable anymore and it was no longer an income source.

Until that point I had done no real networking or marketing off my own back- everyone had come and found me and I was just riding that wave and creating, creating, creating... I didn't know how to do it on my own!

I paid hundreds of pounds for consultations with the best in the food industry. Getting advice from as many sources as I could find, trying my best to network even though I hate small talk and 'businessy' environment. I felt increasingly overwhelmed as it was all so far out of my comfort zone and relied heavily on investment. I had already spent most of my own savings paying thousands of pounds in buying the food processing equipment I needed to get up and running.

In early 2017 I took some time out to reflect.

What did I want from the business? How did I want it to grow? What did it mean to me? How did I want to be involved in it over the long term?

I knew I was passionate about health, about personal empowerment, about inspiring creativity in others... but how could I channel this into a food product?

I came up with a subscription box model of my own. A monthly delivery box that would feature recipe cards, motivational quotes and build a sense of community over time. The concept was beautiful and I put hours into designing the product and testing the process with customers.

Subscriprion box concept

Subscriprion box concept

But the promotion was hard and laborious. The physical production was now also taking its toll after years all on my own. It drained me and things slowed to a halt before it ever really got started.

For a few months I put it all on the back burner, needing a total break. Then out of the blue an acquaintance asked if I'd be willing to sell the business... my reaction suprised me. 'No, it's my baby, it's my passion, how could I ever sell it!'

That realisation kicked me back into action.

I had no idea how I was going to do it, but somehow I would. But I knew it woudn't be on my own. The Wholeplus philosophy is so much greater than me, it's message needs to be shared with the world, but I cannot do that alone. I needed focus on my skillsets and bring on others to fill in the gaps.

So it re-awakened.

But then there was the packaging dilemma. I was using plastic tubs that I had been unhappy about for a long time. I now had so many boxes of packaging options i'd tried, it was taking over half a room in space. I had been designing and printing all my labels at home on my trusty inkjet to save massive costs and minimum order quantities, but that just wasn't good enough for me any more if I wanted to take this bigger and better...

In January this year I opened up a blank Word document and on it I wrote up a list of 'titles' of people I wanted on board, with me as 'Creative Director'. I kept this in the back of mind in every conversation I had, knowing when the opportunity showed up I would just know.

It happened.

Just yesterday I had a long meeting with the owner of a gym and food business. Someone I have come to know well, someone who complements my skill sets, someone who has the resources for production and investment already set up, and most importantly someone who shares my philosophies.

He proposed moving forward as joint venture, to scale and take things as big as they deserve to be. The idea immediately energised me and I felt a rush of relief, "I'm not alone in this anymore".

We have another meeting to talk details next week. 

On the eve of my 35th birthday, the next chapter in the Wholeplus journey is taking shape.

There are so many times I almost quit. There are times when thing slowed to a bare crawl and it would have been easier to have packed it all up and filed it under a 'learning experience' and channeled my energy elsewhere.

But something still tells me to keep going. Something deep down tells me this will be worth it. Something tells me this has been evolving with me in the just the way it needed to, waiting for it's moment, waiting until the world is ready, waiting until I am ready.

Now I am ready.

jo sign off.png
 
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Pear Porridge...with 'super boost' options!

This wasn't a planned post... so I apologise in advance that all the photos are shot on my iphone, not my pro dSLR I usually use for recipe posts!

I enjoyed this breakfast two days running this week with variations on each, so I spontaneously decided to share with you too.

Pear + Courgette + Ginger is always a winner for me! 

How about you- are you a fan of adding veggies to your porridge?

My favourites are courgette, carrot or sweet potato very finely grated and cooked in with the oats. There are loads (56 in total) porridge recipes and spin-offs in this recipe book I created in case you are interested!

On top of the pic below are my Wholeplus Toppers (relaunching with new eco packaging soon!), but you could use any topings you like... nuts, seeds, dried fruits, granola, a drizzle of nut butter... or nothing at all :-)

recipe: Pear Porridge- with 'super boost' options

These photos also give a shout out to the book 'Thresholds' that I was featured in and have just had the hard copy delivered. Holding it in my hands was such a wondrous feeling. I contributed my story which tells of the most significant time of my life to date, I would love you to read it (it's in Kindle for only £1.49)... you can find more info here!

Recipe: Pear Porridge- with 'super boost' options

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup porridge oats (GF if desired)

  • 1/2 cup finely grated courgette

  • up to 1/2 cup boost options listed below* or more oats

  • 1 pear- half cut into tiny chunks and half sliced thinly (for top)

  • Large handful of small dried fruit pieces- such as chopped dates, raisins, cranberries, mulberries or my Wholeplus Toppers (see note above).

  • 1 tbs chia seeds or flax seed

  • 1 scant tsp grated ginger and/or ground turmeric (if using turmeric add a pinch of black pepper too to maximise nutrient absorption)

  • approx 1.5 cups non-dairy milk of choice - more or less for desired thickness as it cooks.

  • 1 tsp maca powder (optional)

  • Handful of sunflower or pumpkin seeds (optional)

*up to 1/2 cup of a mix of the following: vegan protein blend, almond flour, cooked quinoa, quinoa flakes, teff flour, shelled hemp seeds (less of the hemp) 

Method:

Finely grate the courgette and add along with all ingredients (other than toppings) to a medium pan on the stove top. Bring to a simmer and cook for approx 5 minutes, adding extra liquid as required for desired consistency.

Serve, decorate, eat!

Notes:

  1. In the first two photos I added cooked quinoa to the oats and handful of pumpkin seeds, then topped with Wholeplus Toppers (Gingerbread, Super Seedy or Lemon Pie would be fab!)

  2. In the second two photos I added turmeric and black pepper then added 1/4 cup almond flour and 1/4 cup teff flour with a dusting of cinnamon on top.
     

recipe: Pear Porridge- with 'super boost' options
recipe: Pear Porridge- with 'super boost' options
recipe: Pear Porridge- with 'super boost' options
recipe: Pear Porridge- with 'super boost' options

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Rhubarb Crumble Granola (and what is a 'natural flavour'?)

Over the last few month I have been working behind the scenes to develop my Wholeplus flavour range, it is still in the works but I hope to unleash the exciting new products and creative philosophy very soon!

Recipe: Rhubarb Crumble Granola

A huge part of my investigation process was in aligning optimal taste and texture with highest quality ingredients. When I launched Wholeplus I initially only had three flavours in the range- chocolate, cinnamon and vanilla as these were the only real food powders I could get and I was resistant to explore 'natural flavours' because I didn't understand them. It was very limiting.

So, what are 'natural flavourings'? 

Taken from the web: 'Natural flavourings are flavouring substances or flavouring preparations which are extracted from vegetable or animal materials and are not further chemically modified or changed.

Foodie Flavours
Foodie Flavours
Foodie Flavours

So basically, natural flavours come from natural sources — the original ingredient is found in nature and then purified and extracted and added back into the food. This is the only way it is truly possible to have foods in certain flavours, and nearly all companies use them including most of the health brands I know.

This has become sensationalised in various articles online with headlines such as 'is beaver butt used to flavour your food?' (Yes indeed the anal secretions of beavers can be used in foodstuffs and is actually pretty wide spread in the perfume industry as a musky smell- who knew!)  BUT Don't worry this DOES NOT appear in my products!

My biggest takeaway from this process of investigation is to be fully aware, do you own research and ask questions of the manufacturer if you are unsure how ingredients are derived. 

My investigations brought me to Foodie Flavours and after doing some thorough research to understand what natural flavours really are, a face-to-face meeting with the company, and confirmation that all of their products are indeed vegan, gluten free, sugar-free and made in the UK, I was gifted some flavours to take home for my trials.  

As well as Wholeplus Toppers recipes, I decided to put the Foodie Flavours to good use and created a granola recipe in a couple of flavours combinations. Both were great, but I have a real thing for the sweet and sour tang of rhubarb which is amazing.

Of course you can use any other 'flavouring' types you like- any extracts of choice or vanilla bean, cinnamon ginger etc.

Recipe: Rhubarb Crumble Granola

Granola is a perfect snack all on its own, but in a 'smoothie bowl' (top pic) that was almost like custard in its consistency it was a wonderful combo of smooth and crunchy.  This was simple to whip up with water, frozen banana and cashews blended up. Yoghurt gives a similar creamy contrast too.

I also love how the freeze dried beetroot gives a great nutritional boost and lovely pink hue to compliment the rhubarb.  Beetroot powder would also work well I imagine but I think beet juice would make the resulting granola too wet and soft.

You could add any chopped nuts or seeds you like, I used roughly half pumpkin seeds for some flecks of colour and the rest a combo of mixed chopped nuts.

Other flavours that would make great granolas...

  • Chocolate orange with cocoa and orange flavour (or zest)

  • Cinnamon ...because cinnamon with everything works ;-)

  • Bakewell tart- almond flavour with flakes almonds and some dried cherries (stir those in after!)

  • Banana Bread- I have tried this mashed with fresh banana and dried bananas chunks and it's great. These was my first granola recipe experiments that used pureed fruit.

  • Tropical Trip with a tropical flavour and then coconut curls and dried fruit chunks mixed through once cooked.

  • PB&J granola- this recipe made great chunky clusters!

What are your favourite flavour combos? 

Recipe: Rhubarb Crumble Granola

Recipe: Rhubarb Crumble Granola

(with Foodie Flavours)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup oats

  • 1 cup chopped nuts/seeds

  • a pinch of sea salt

  • 3 tbs coconut oil- melted

  • 1/4 cup mild syrup of choice (I used coconut syrup)

  • approx 8 drops Foodie Flavours rhubarb flavour* (they suggest 20 drops per kg of product)

  • 1/4 cup freeze dried beetroot powder* (optional for colour)

*You could omit the beetroot and/or use an alternative flavour type of your choice. I also tried 'dulce du leche' flavour as seen below in the lighter variation. 

Method:

Stir together all ingredients in a medium bowl until well coated.

Spoon onto a lined baking tray in a thin even layer and bake for approx 15-20 mins on a medium heat- roughly 160C until lightly golden and toasted. Allow to cool thoroughly before storing in an airtight container. I found the granola lost it crispness after a couple of days, but it still tasted good!

The dulche du leche version. Great with yoghurt too- this is the new Alpro 'Greek style' version I fancied trying out!

The dulche du leche version. Great with yoghurt too- this is the new Alpro 'Greek style' version I fancied trying out!

Recipe: Caramel Crumble Granola
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Easiest sugar-free date and ginger cookies

I try not to talk too much about Wholeplus on here (otherwise this blog becomes a sales pitch which is exactly the opposite of what I want it to be!), but it's sometimes hard because it's such a huge part of my life and I am passionate about my little flourishing business! I am always experimenting with ways to use my Toppers in recipes (other than porridge sprinkles) and so now I share them over on my new Wholeplus Instagram account... yay! Feel free to follow!

HOWEVER... you don't need my goodies to make these treats... you can make a similar version yourself by blitzing up some dates in a food processor with some spices or cocoa and a healthy sweet sprinkle topping is all yours. It's best to use the softer medjool dates unless you have a super high powered food processor (i've learnt from experience it's very easy to burn out the motors using hard dates!)

I recently designed myself some flyers with lots of recipe ideas for inspiration and I want to show them off here, so I will... here's the reverse :-)

The general philosophy behind my Toppers range is a flavoursome sweet sprinkle to substitute  refined sugar in recipes... such as desserts, porridge, crumbles and cookies.

One of my favourite cookie recipes yet is so simple and I wanted to share it here for you. For this recipe you don't even have to blitz the dates prior... just add all the ingredients in to the processor together! You can bake the cookies but the mixture is also delicious raw so you could simply serve raw cookies or balls and keep them in the fridge.

I simply called these 'ginger cookies' as I used my Gingerbread Topper but just use what ever spices or extracts you prefer for alternative flavours!

Unbaked cookie dough  (photo is from my phone as I didn't plan to present these as a blog post originally)

Unbaked cookie dough  (photo is from my phone as I didn't plan to present these as a blog post originally)

Recipe: Easiest date and ginger cookies

Ingredients:

  • 170g tub gingerbread toppers (or substitute 100g whole soft dates plus flavours of choice)
  • 170g ground oats or ground almonds (both work well)
  • Up to 1/4 cup water (probably not necessary if using stickier medjool dates)

Method:

Add everything to a food processor and blitz well until fine. Add a little water if needed until the mix is sticky. Roll the mixture into a fat log (cookie diameter) then chill until firm.

Slice into 10mm thick rounds and bake for about 10 minutes at 180C or simply roll into balls and eat them raw.

Easy peasy!!

Here are some other 'Toppers' inspirations from my Instagram account... for if you do buy some or make your own version.

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:

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It's National Breakfast Week.... super speedy ideas to kickstart your mornings!

It's breakfast week... did you know?

There seems to be a day or a week or a month for pretty much everything these days... many of them pretty crazy. But breakfast week is something I can get on board with and so here I bring you lots of ideas to kickstart your morning routine.

It may surprise you to know that I actually don't often eat breakfast! WHAT?!

Let me explain, I loosely follow an Intermittent Fasting style approach (eating between 12pm and 8pm) so therefore I have a 'brunch' around midday. Not always, if I get hungry earlier then i'll eat earlier but often I'm not hungry for a few hours once I've drunk my litre of lemon water.  So in my opinion the notion that eating 'breakfast' is the most important part of the day (and even labelling meals) can be misleading, BUT I do think that skipping breakfast if you know you'll be cravings lattes and cookies come mid morning is NOT the way to go.... always have a sustaining breakfast or snacks to hand for when hunger does strike!

When I posted a few breakfast pics on Instagram and Facebook earlier this week I had some requests for easy morning ideas.... I figured that would make a great blog post. 

Healthy breakfast ideas that will sustain you with relying on wheat, dairy or eggs.

My top tips for a super speedy morning:

  1. Shakes and smoothies. blend the night before or the morning of. Make a big batch for a family or just a single serve. Many can be frozen for a few days. Add oats or hemp protein for sustenance. Make them green (adding cucumber and/or spinach is good for beginners) for extra nutrients and lower sugar content.
  2. Prep the night before. Overnight oats (aka bircher muesli), breakfast cookies, granola pots etc can all be assembled and kept in the fridge overnight. Eat in the morning or pack in a tub and take with you to eat when hunger strikes.
  3. Savoury options. Sometimes I'm not in the mood for a sweet treat, particularly if it's more of a lunch for me. Avocado is a great choice- good fats to fill you up. Or simply leftovers from dinner- i've been know to munch on veggie chilli or a raw salad bowl. Who's to say breakfast needs to look like breakfast!!
  4. Cakes for breakfast! I don't mean classic cakes full of sugar... more like muesli loaves or pumpkin slices. Sightly sweet loaves full of good stuff to fill you up. These can be made ahead and simply sliced to go throughout the week. They will easily last for a week or so kept airtight in the fridge.
  5. Freezer options. I freeze my green smoothies as portions in silicone muffin cups but also make healthy pancakes or smaller blinis in a batch and freeze them for a quick breakfast. Just take out the freezer the night before and team up with fruit in the morning.
  6. Yoghurt style options. Going daily free can be tricky, but there are now so many non dairy milks around it's easy. If you want a thicker yoghurt of cream you have a few options... coconut yoghurt (can be expensive), the thick part of the canned coconut milk or even cashew cream works well
  7. Get to know your nuts and seeds! It's not just good old peanut butter... almond butter and sunflower butters are also readily available. Great to slather on oatcakes or pancakes or the 'cakes' i mentioned but also blended with a little hot water to make a creamy drizzle for fruit etc. Or simple make up a pot of trail mix with mixed nuts, seeds and dried fruits for healthy snacks to hand all day... not just breakfast! 

Click on the images to go straight to the recipes!

SHAKES AND SMOOTHIES

OVERNIGHT AND FREEZER OPTIONS

CAKES FOR BREAKFAST

YOGHURT STYLE OPTIONS

GET YOUR NUTS 

There are some many more breakfast ideas HERE on my breakfast menu tab.

A little bonus Tip....

Wholeplus goodies! I couldn't resist this chance to mention my range of products. Sweet healthy sprinkle Toppers and instant porridge stye Hotpots are the ultimate in convenient snacking.

To honour Breakfast Week, until midnight Sunday, I am offering you all 10% off any orders across my entire range (UK purchase only) when you enter BREAKFASTWEEK at the checkout.

Get all the info on my Wholeplus range at the official website here!


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:

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Wholeplus... the 'Subscription box review'

I mentioned my Wholeplus journey in this post, but I wanted to celebrate a little more and a few weeks ago I had an idea. This Christmas period my Wholplus goodies were featured in four different subscription boxes and since I have four other family members I thought it would be a lovely surprise (and a little proud moment for me!) to wrap up a box from each to put under the tree to share with them on Christmas day!

Can you see the labels on the packages under the tree? …I labelled them 'surprise no. 1, 2, 3 and 4 ..ha ha! My family were very confused :-) We left these until the end and unwrapped them together.

I also felt it was ideal opportunity to review the boxes to show my appreciation for them having supported me on my journey and I in theirs. I have big things planned for 2015 and without the support of companies such as these, Wholeplus could never have been what is today. Seeing my goodies tagged on Instagram and around social media has brought such light to my life that I never could've anticipated this time last year!

Thank you,  thank you,  thank you!!

Please note: this is an objective review as I'm proud of all the companies I have worked with and wanted to show my appreciation for those I was involved with specifically over the Christmas period. They have supported me on my journey as I have supported them on theirs. Therefore this is not a 'which box did I like best' style review. Also note that not all box contents may be vegan.

P.s. the photos are not fantastic quality as I literally shot them the moment they had been opened on Christmas morning, before my family began opening packets and tucking into the goodies!!

boxes2a.jpg

I'll review the boxes one by one, in alphabetical order just to make sure there is no hierarchy or favouritism. ;-) You can check out the links below their company name.... go and show the some love!

Life Box

Website, Facebook, Twitter

Prices from £12.95 - £21.95. There are five boxes to choose from and you buy either as a one of on on subscription (ladies, mens, junior, everyday and cleanse) Taken from the website: "Delivering current and wannabe “healthies” with the latest super health foods, clean eats and refreshments, providing a convenient and affordable way of discovering new and delicious wholefoods". There were so many goodies in this box! I was particularly excited to see maple 'Wahta' as i'd seen it on Instagram and was curious to try! (we also had a little sip). There is also a recipe card.

This box (the November edition) featured my Wholeplus Cinnamon Toppers.

Box contains:

  • Raw ecstasy activated chocolate walnuts
  • Rountons coffee sample sachet
  • Aronia berries pukka teas sachets 
  • Maple water
  • Emily fruit crisps
  • Raw bite coconut raw bar
  • Conscious organic chocolate bar
  • Wholeplus cinnamon Toppers
  • Pukka clean greens sachet
  • Apricots kernels 
  • Miso soup sachet
  • Lifebox amaranth trial bag
  • Lifebox digestions spice mix
  • Lifebox Chia seeds trial bag

Primal Snack Box

Website, Facebook, Twitter, 

Prices £19.99 for the meat-free version of £21.99 for the regular (inc. P&P) Taken from the website: "The uk’s first paleo snack box service, all of our snacks are free from grains, gluten, dairy and refined sugars". Lots of festive flavours and there was also lots of other raw style goodies... yummy and also good to check out my competition! :-)

This box featured my Wholeplus Choc-Orange Squares.  

Box contains:

  • Mulled Apple leather
  • Wholeplus Choc Orange slices
  • Cinnamon kale crisps
  • Figberry balls
  • Chocolate mulberries
  • Gingerbread bar
  • Cranberry chocolate
  • Rawbite cinnamon
  • Yummy scrummy
  • Fig and orange pudding bar
  • Apple crisps

The Vegan Kind

Website, Facebook, Twitter

£10 (plus £3.15 P&P) for the lifestyle box. TVK also have a quarterly vegan beauty box for £15 (plus £3.15 P&P).  One of the things I like about this box is that it features home products as well as foodies bits. I nabbed the toothpaste before the rest my family could get there hands on it! :-) There is also a recipe card with binder holes (you get a free binder with your fourth box- I think!)

This box featured my Wholeplus gingerbread Toppers.

Box contains:

  • Harpers bizarre jingle bells Christmas candle
  • Wholeplus gingerbread Toppers
  • Olive branch gluten-free sweet biscuits
  • Teatonics mind awakening yerba and laid-back botanical tea
  • Green people toothpaste

Vegan Tuck Box

Website, Facebook, Twitter

Prices- £8.50 for the mini (5-6 treats) or £19 for the classic (10-12 treats). They also offer a gluten free box option.  This was the special Christmas box and was most festive themed of them all... with lots of indulgent treats in festive shapes- snowman and holly leaves! There was also a recipe booklet with festive vegan alternatives for Christmas classics.

This box featured my Wholeplus gingerbread Squares.

Vegan Tuck Box have also generously offered a discount for my readers for 10% off all boxes during January (as I am to be featured in one of their January boxes also!)  Enter Wholeplus10 at the checkout for 10% off all of box options.

Box contains:

  • Mint chocolate holly leaves
  • Chocolate pralines
  • Wholeplus gingerbread squares
  • Milk chocolate star
  • Gluten-free white chocolate pretzels
  • White chocolate snowman
  • Viva vegan Christmas recipe booklet

 

Now it's over to you... have you tried any of these boxes... or maybe others?  Share with me in the comments your thoughts or where else you might like to see Wholeplus featured this coming year!

 

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:

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Chocolate orange goji bites


One for the chocolate lovers! These little bites pack a punch with nutrient dense super-foods combined with a chocolatey fruity kick. 

Taking the well known 'bliss ball' concept of smooshed up dates, cocoa and other goodies, these bites are a spin off from my Wholeplus classic range of  Squares flavours but here i have used ground almonds instead of coconut.

Every so often whilst I'm playing in the kitchen whipping up another batch of Squares or Toppers for a new order... I get a little side tracked and carried away and start creating new flavours and combinations. This was one such experiment in making a chocolate-orange base and pressing Toppers into the top. This then became a special commission for a friend since they were so good.

If you love chocolate-orange then you must make these!

The orange extract gives a wonderful flavour compliment to the chocolate and super foods but feel free to change it up any way you please…this recipe is calling out for your own inventive ingredient twist- just keep to the same ratios of ingredient types.  I used my own Toppers range for the top along with beautiful bright ground goji berries, but you can just use gojis and maybe cacao nibs or whatever you prefer. This recipe uses very firm dates so if yours are very soft and sticky you may need to increase the dry ingredients slightly to get a firm mixture to press into the pan.

 Recipe: Chocolate orange goji bites… your healthy chocolate kick!

Makes 16-20 squares

Ingredients:

  •  2 cups dried dates (approx. 250g)
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds (or other mild flavoured nuts/seeds ground finely)
  • 1/4 cup raw cacoa powder
  • 2 tbs maca powder (or other superfood powders of choice) omit if preferred
  • 1 tsp orange extract (or other flavour of choice) 
  • 1/4 cup coarsely ground goji berries- for topping
  • 1/4 cup other topping of choice i.e crushed nuts, seeds or cacao nibs (optional).

Method:

Blend all ingredients together in food processor (other than toppings) until you have a slightly sticky well blended mix.

Press mix firmly into a small (approx 8” square) pan lined with parchment for easy removal. Press the toppings into the mix and chill for min. 1 hour to firm up before slicing into squares.  Alternatively you could roll these into balls and roll in goji’s last.

The squares also freeze well… so why not make a big batch and they’ll keep you going for weeks!

I think this recipe has to be one my favourite ways to use goji berries.... what's you favourite way use them?

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:

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Celebration cake.... where health and indulgence collide!

'Where health and indulgence collide' has always been a bit of a mantra for me as I've developed Including cake over the last few years.  

I simply don't believe the two are mutually exclusive. It was the challenge I most embraced as I ventured into the world of a plant based lifestyle around three years ago. If you have read my about page you'll see how this lifestyle first presented itself to me.

As time went on I began to research more and appreciate the incredible benefits of a plant based diet and then more importantly a 'whole food' plant based diet. It was at the time the refined sugars and 'white' products began to find there way out of my cupboards and into the bin. There was no turning back!

Did I ever deprive myself during this time? 

No

Did I ever feel as thought i was missing out?

Sometimes- but only in social situations  with limited options not in terms of what I could create myself

The challenge of creating indulgence in a way that did not compromise my health became my 'thing', and now in my coaching practice this is is something I am passionate to help others appreciate for themselves in their own lives.

Oh.... so you want to know about this cake...yes!

Ok, well I wont keep you waiting any longer. This cake is rich, moist, chocolatey, silky smooth, packed full of veg and other good stuff and topped with my Wholeplus product range (but you could use anything you like!)

It doesn't use loads of crazy specialist ingredients (just a few key ones like stevia) and doesn't take long to whip up. Its virtually foolproof. It's tried and tested with kids too.

Put simply... you have to make this cake!!

The base of the cake is actually my crazy courgette cake topped with a variation of my heathy chocolate frosting on top, (if you want a soy free frosting try this one) but since we're putting everything together i've rewritten it all out below. I then also topped it all off with my vanilla Wholeplus Squares.

I made this cake for a friends birthday a week or so ago (i made a big one plus some small ones- I doubled the recipe). I had advised her that it would keep well for a few days in the fridge...but I was quickly informed that within 24 hours the whole things had been eaten. To quote her she said "this cake is quite literally the nuts".

 

Recipe: Chocolate Celebration Cake

Makes 1 8” round or square cake

Base of the cake:

ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup packed dates (soak in hot water for a few minutes if they are very hard)

  • approx ½ tsp pure stevia

  • 1 heaped cup courgette puree (I approximated this by using 1 ½ cups smallsh chunks)

  • ½ cup water

  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1/3 cup oil of choice (I use coconut oil)

  • ¼ cup flax seed

  • ¾ cup cocoa powder

  • 1 cup oat flour (I ground up some regular oats)

  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips (I used these)

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 1 heaped tsp baking powder

  • 1 heaped tsp baking soda

Method:

Blend the courgette with all the wet ingredients and the flax seed to form a smooth fairly runny paste. Allow to stand for a couple of minutes.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl and then add the wet. Mix lightly but well to form a thick soft batter. Add a little extra water if necessary.

Spoon the batter into a lined/greased muffin pan or round cake tin (you could also make cupcakes?) and smooth the top as best you can.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for approx 25 minutes, after 10-15 minutes it is advisable to lightly cover the top of the pan with foil to prevent the top browning before the centre is cooked through.

Allow to cook before topping with frosting.

 

Frosting:

Note: you can make this in advance and keep in the fridge for a day or so, you'll also want to chill it before to topping the cake anyway.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 carton firm silken tofu (I use Mori nu)

  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder

  • 2 tbs melted coconut oil

  • 3 tbs agave nectar (plus a touch of stevia if needed)

  • 1/4 tsp stevia powder

  • 1 tsp orange extract (or another flavour if you prefer)

Method

So simple!! Put all ingredients into food processor and blend up very thoroughly. Spoon into a bowl and store in the fridge to firm up a little ready for use.

For toppings, I used my vanilla Wholeplus Squares plus some cacoa nibs and ground up goji berries on the big cake for a pretty sprinkle of colours- gojis make the perfect healthy sprinkles right? 

This cake keeps best in the fridge in keeping for more than a day. (yeah right!)

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

Why not sign up for emails 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:

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