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Events, Treats & Snacks, Vegan &/or Raw, x For Freezer x

Probiotic Peppermint Creams

Cacao (pronounced ka-kow) sounds like something a superhero would do to a villain. Which isn’t far from the truth.

These Probiotic Peppermint Creams will help jumpstart your evening, once your little vandals are sound asleep. It’s miraculous I’m still breathing after an entire day minding a team of toddlers. If my freezer didn’t have these Peppermint Creams waiting patiently for me, I’d be hitting the gin with a soup ladle.

One tiny sliver will deliver a dose of omega-3 to your hormone’s HQ. Yep. Thank you walnuts.

We make the peppermint cream filling from avocados and maple syrup. No one will know, except of course for your cholesterol levels which should benefit nicely too. Avocados have a jolly fine fat called monounsaturated oleic fat. This is the one your doc wants you to date. Monounsaturated fat has shown to help lower LDL “bad” cholesterol, while simultaneously raising your HDL “good” cholesterol. Fist. Bump.

 

The Virtuous Tart cookbook

The Virtuous Tart cookbook

 

Cacao is basically the untreated cocoa chocolate bean. We’re told cacao has much fancier antioxidants than regular cocoa, by virtue of being raw and unprocessed. More antioxidants means more ninja moves on pathogens and free radicals in our system. I do like the idea of boosting my immune defence with chocolate.

But let’s not stop there. Let’s add some probiotics to the mix, and give our pipes a party. My eldest son can’t stand natural yoghurt, so I like to sneak probiotic powder into this Peppermint Cream filling instead. MacGyver would be proud. This stuff should be nominated for a Nobel Prize in chemistry. It’s lordly.

We use Udo’s Probiotic Powder, because it’s available nationwide in pharmacies as well as health stores. (And because I’ve been chosen as their goodwill ambassador, hurrah! Udo’s products are The Snazz).

 

probiotic

 

 

Probiotic Peppermint Creams

Biscuit base:

2 cups walnuts
8 medjools, stones removed
3 tablespoons cocoa or raw cacao powder
Pinch of sea salt

 

Peppermint cream filling:

2 ripe avocados
50ml-80ml maple syrup (depends on your sweet tooth)
½ teaspoon real peppermint extract or 4 drops of culinary grade peppermint oil
80ml coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon probiotic powder

 

Raw chocolate frosting:

4 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
4 tablespoons cacao or cocoa powder
½ teaspoon real vanilla or peppermint extract

 

In a food processor pulse the base ingredients together until it fraternises into a chocolatey lump. You might need a teaspoon of water to help it along. (A blender really won’t work here, as it’s too powerful). Scrape into a regular loaf tin, lined with cling or non-stick paper. Press and smooth down.

Using the same food processor bowl, now blitz the ingredients as listed for the peppermint cream filling. You’re looking for a sumptuous, glossy cream. Pour on top of the base, and freeze for at least 30 minutes before slicing little pieces of Narnia from it.

If you want a topping, gently melt the coconut oil with your maple syrup. Whisk in the cacao or cocoa, and a drop of peppermint extract. Pour across the peppermint cream layer. Return to freezer, and hide it behind the fish fingers.

 

probiotics-udos-infants

 

! Giveaway !

If you got this far down the post, then you deserve to win a couple of my cookbooks!

 

Savour Kilkenny food festival are giving away front row tickets and two copies of The Virtuous Tart this weekend. Deadline is Monday, to tag a pal on their Instagram post right here.

 

Good luck! And see you at my cookery demo in Kilkenny’s Savour foodie fest – I’d really love to meet you all. 

x SJ

 

 

Events

A Reading list that will change your life

Y’all, it’s a serious one. Let’s talk about food piracy – it’s not just our burgers.

We all know that a can of cola contains an obnoxious amount of sugar. So slimmers changed to diet cola in pursuit of a trimmer waistline and a cleaner conscience. But “sugar free” confectionery often contains as many preservatives or additives as a bottle of shampoo. Urgh.

Perhaps it makes better sense to switch to a probiotic yoghurt drink with promises of “boosting immunity with live healthy bacteria?” Think again. These little pots of expert-marketing can contain up to one third of our recommended daily allowance of sugar. And dead bacteria.

Frustrated and confused yet? I hear you!

handcuffed-to-sugar-jo-murphy-credit

Photography Jo Murphy, from The Virtuous Tart

Foods once contained high quality natural ingredients. Ask gran. Nowadays they are often saccharine artificial lab creations, full of grim delights such as hydrolyzed palm oil and high fructose corn syrup. And foods that are ostensibly “healthy” or “fortified” – such as breakfast cereals and jarred sauces – can be equally synthetic. Don’t be fooled into thinking food companies care about you or your health. They only care about your wallet.

Food is now largely conceived by laboratories and biotech firms, and marketed to appeal to a misguided sense of “good health.” In our honest yet futile attempt to watch our dress size, we have delegated accountability for our health and wellbeing to industrial food manufacturers. Why? Their aim is to make money. And lots of it.

If food manufacturers want to create the impression that there are blueberries in that ‘fruit’ yoghurt you had for breakfast, they can do so. Upwards of 4,500 flavouring compounds have been approved. In other words, fake flavours trying to mimic the real thing. Manufacturers have free-reign to alchemize muck into profit and pawn it off as food. What incentive does this leave them to offer us healthier – if admittedly more expensive – ingredients?

Big Food producers encourage us to consume a kaleidoscope of harmful or, at best, under-evaluated chemicals. Most worryingly of all, additives are not screened for their cumulative effect when combined with other chemicals and toxins in our bodies. I imagine this cocktail effect must have a negative impact on our over-burdened livers – don’t you? This is of little or no importance to food manufacturers. Why would it be?

sugarjunkie-jo-murphy-photo

Jo Murphy Photography, The Virtuous Tart

We are not eating real food anymore. Michael Pollan, food activist and professor of journalism at Berkeley, warns we are eating “edible, food-like substances no longer the products of nature but of food science.”

We each consume a noxious 13-15lbs (6-7kg) of food additives a year (see Felicity Lawrence’s Not on the Label). The danger they pose is well documented. A growing number of health experts attribute the distressing rise of obesity, cancer, depression, diabetes and heart disease to the unprecedented onslaught of additives and crap food. Fresh organic wholefoods, which provide crucial nutrients, minerals, omega oils and amino acids, are being replaced with preservatives, cosmetic enhancers and chemically enhanced fat. Legally.

In the meantime the global food additives industry is annually worth in the region of $20 billion. Indeed the use of cheap ingredients enables Big Food manufacturers to squeeze out high-cost rivals such as organic farmers, ethical co-operatives and small family businesses.

In short, we are being fed cosmetic junk, and it is making us ill. So ill, in fact, that we are digging our way to the grave with our teeth.

Our health insurance will rocket to unaffordable levels, our government will struggle to meet the demands of an already over-burdened medical system, and Irish industry will lose competitiveness as our workforce becomes increasingly unwell.

So what can we do?

Convenience foods aren’t likely to disappear from our shelves – and it’s equally unlikely that government will intervene on our behalf; such is the power of the Big Food lobby. That’s why it’s so important that we arm ourselves with information about the very real dangers that over-processed food poses. So the next time you find yourself reaching for that ‘diet’ cola, ask yourself whether it’s really such a smart choice. Vote with your wallet.

 

reading-list

 

 

 

Here are 5 books that will change the way you shop. Forever.

My “Life-Changing Reading List” (you won’t find Joyce on this list. Relieved?) These are real life thrillers that involve YOU. Yes. That’s right. You. Investigative journalists go under cover and research what you are scarfing when we open that jar of pasta sauce, or “artisan” ravioli. There’s some brilliant stuff in here, that would make Inspector Morse look like a precocious toddler.

Promise yourself you’ll buy one today. It’s possibly the best tenner you will spend all year.

 

  1. Not on the Label: What Really Goes into the Food on Your Plate” by Felicity Lawrence
  2. “Food Rules” by Michael Pollan
  3. The Food Our Children Eat” by Joanna Blythman
  4. “Swindled – From Poison Sweets to Counterfeit Coffee” by Bee Wilson
  5. “Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us” by Michael Moss

 

Also hugely informative, to earmark on your wish list:

  • “Eat Your Heart Out” by Felicity Lawrence
  • “Fat Chance: The Hidden Truth About Sugar” by Robert Lustig
  • “The End of Overeating” by David A. Kessler, M.D.
  • “Pure, White and Deadly” by John Yudkin
  • “Swallow This” by Joanna Blythman
  • “Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat” by Philip Lymbery
  • “Bad Food Britain” and “Swallow This” by Joanna Blythman
  • “Anti-Biotics” by John McKenna

 

Twitter accounts to follow:

@KitchenBee

@JoannaBlythman

@DrBriffa

@marionnestle

@LawrenceFelic

@FoodAwakenings

@MichaelPollan

@BBCfoodprog

@ResponsibleFood

@MichaelMossC

 

 

Have anything to add? I’d love to hear your recommendations …

 

 

 

Events, Treats & Snacks, x For Freezer x

Kickass 5-Ingredient Cookies

I’m greedy and desperate enough to have alchemised my favourite junk food snack into a nutritional fox trot.

So here it is … an unreasonably tasty cookie that has been shamelessly flirting with me everyday for the past 3 months.

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

 

Check out this recipe – no hydrogenated fat, white sugar, artificial shite or additives. Just pure, unadulterated goodness with added omega 3 and calcium from some swanky chia.

The best part?

It doesn’t taste “pure” my friends. These cookies are not just for geezers (me) who fetishise loose leaf tea. It’s full on nasty. I’m not interested in sacrificing my taste buds just to put something healthy in my mouth. No thanks. Misery ain’t no ingredient in my pantry.

 

susan jane peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

 

These are a version of the American Peanut Butter Cookies I have in my second cookbook. #plug . Adding chocolate chips, extra baking powder and chia seed turn them into a very different sonata. Think opera.

Scientists, look away while I mutilate your language: one teaspoon of baking powder will produce a rounder, firmer cookie (see above). Pretty groovy. But then! Two teaspoons of baking powder will significantly inflate the cookies in the oven, making them flatter and significantly chewier once settled (see picture below). It’s science, innit?!

Have a good summer y’all! Let me know how you get along with this recipe – just tag them in your Instagram account and I’ll hunt you down.

 

Makes 20

3/4 cup good quality peanut butter (200g)
3/4 cup coconut sugar or rapadura sugar (100g)
1-2 teaspoons baking powder (see note above)
2 tablespoons milled chia seed
1 egg
Handful of dark chocolate chunks

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.

Blend all the ingredients together in a large bowl with a fork and tenacity. Roll into little ping pong-sized balls, and flatten with the back of a fork or your palm. Not too skinny though – you’re looking for uniformity so each cookie bakes at a similar rate. You can cook one tray, and freeze the remaining dough no problem.

Cook in your preheated oven for 10–12 minutes, before they turn brown or crisp. Don’t panic if they appear soft – you’re on the right track, as they harden and deflate once cooled.

Resist the temptation to wolf them hot from the oven. I’m still nursing my sore tongue.

 

peanut butter cookies