Quick Coconut and Lemon Muffins [diabetic friendly, gluten free, lactose free, no added refined sugar

COCONUT MUFFINS 1

Quick healthier coconut muffins, photography CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

‘these muffins have a deep and  intense coconut flavour from coconut oil, coconut paste, shredded coconut and coconut flour.  They are gluten free and perfect for lunch boxes or a healthy snack to take to work and eat at your desk.  The taste of these muffins improves the next day’

You will need:

50ml coconut oil
50g coconut paste
4 eggs
100g self raising flour [I used gluten free flour on tv but you can use regular self raising flour]
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
100g coconut
50g coconut flour
vanilla
a pinch of salt
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon stevia or 2 pellets stevia

COCONUT MUFFINS 1A

Preheat the oven to 190C.

Sieve the self raising flour, baking powder and coconut flour twice into a mixing bowl.  Add all the other ingredients and combine them with an electric mixer for one minute and not any more.  This is quite a thick batter.  Use two spoons to place the batter in the muffin cases.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Allow to cool before serving.  These muffins taste better the day after they are made.  They remain moist and dense, very much like coconut macaroons.


 

Quick Chocolate Muffins with no refined sugar and no added fats

chocolate muffins 3.jpg

Quick Chocolate Muffins with no added sugar and no added fats.  Photography CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

‘quick and easy chocolate muffins sweetened with dates.  They contain no added fats and are moist and delicious’

You will need:

250g dates
200ml warm water
250g self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vinegar
4 eggs
a pinch of cinnamon
a pinch of coffee powder
a pinch of salt
vanilla
4 tablespoons chocolate powder
3 tablespoons cocoa nibs [optional]

Soak the dates in the warm water. Prepare a muffin tin with paper cases.
Use a hand blender to bind the dates with the water until they form a smooth paste.
Sieve the self raising flour,chocolate powder and baking powder twice. Add the vanilla, salt, cinnamon and coffee powder. Mix the ingredients together until the mixture is consistent. Beat the eggs and add them to the blended dates. Add the vinegar and mix well to get a consistent mixture. Add the liquid ingredients to the flour mixture and use a large metal spoon to fold in without over mixing. If you are using the cocoa nibs add them. Pour the batter into the Pour the batter into the muffin cases and bake for 25 minutes.
Allow to cool slightly before taking the muffins out of the tin.

I topped my muffins with a mix of fresh berries.

I use ingredients by Good Earth

Healthier Salted Caramel Bars

caramel biscuits 3

Healthier Salted Caramel Bars, photo by CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

‘these biscuits are gluten free, lactose free with no added refined sugar.  They can be stored in the fridge for a week and in the freezer for 3 months.  Today the feast of St Gregory is celebrated and I enjoyed the phone ins from our viewers in this morning’s show as they narrated their memories and shared the history of this feast day.  thank you x’

caramel biscuits 1

For the base layer you will need:

100g oatmeal or ground oats
25g ground almonds
50ml agave  [if not vegan you can use honey]
4 tablespoons coconut paste

Heat the oven to 180C.  Prepare a baking tray by lining it with baking paper. Place the ingredients in a large bowl and mix until it is consistent.  Bring the dough together with your hands and place on a clean surface.  Press and use a rolling pin to roll out then cut into rectangles [either 12 pieces or 18 smaller ones].  Place on the baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool completely.

For the salted caramel layer you will need:

200g chopped dates
1 tablespoon nut butter [I used hazelnut butter]
2 tablespoons coconut paste
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Place all the ingredients in a saucepan with 50 ml of water.  Use gentle heat and stir until the dates are broken down.  If necessary add some more water.

Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.  Roll the mixture into small balls then press them down on to the cooled down biscuits.  Use a teaspoon to smooth it down.

And you will also need to coat the biscuits with :

250g melted chocolate to coat.  [I used lactose free, sugar free]
1 tablespoon olive oil

Melt the chocolate in a bain marie or in the microwave.  Mix in a tablespoon of olive oil and stir until the mixture is smooth and shiny.

Gently dip the biscuits into the melted chocolate until they are fully covered.  Place on a dish covered with baking paper and allow the biscuits to set in the fridge for an hour.

Trade Enquiries: Coconut Paste by Govinda and Chocolate Valor both from J Calleja Import Export Ltd

Soft and Chewy Granola Bars with Sweet Potato

healthy granola bars.jpg

Healthy chewy oatbran granola bars.  Photography by CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

healthy granola bars 4.jpg

‘These dense, moist and chewy granola bars can be made using your favourite cereal and putting in them exactly what you like.  They are loaded with seeds and I bind them by using a mix of dates and sweet potato.  The chocolate and nut topping is optional.  If you prefer a crunchier texture, cut the granola bake into bars when it cools down and bake them in a hot oven for 12 minutes on each side in the same way you would do with biscotti’

healthy granola bars 3

You will need:

300g dates
150g sweet potato
400g oatbran granola
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 vanilla pod
50g gogi berries
50g sunflower seeds
50g cocoa powder
100g pumpkin seeds
100g linseed [flaxseed]
30g Chia Seeds

Preheat the oven to 170C.

Spray a baking tin [20cm square or similar] with cooking spray and line it with baking paper.

Remove the stone from the dates and roughly chop them up.

Peel the sweet potato and roughly chop it.

Place the dates and sweet potato in a saucepan and cover with cold water.

Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for about 7-10 minutes until the potato is soft and the dates are mushy.  Make sure that there is enough water during this process.

Remove from the heat, puree by using a hand held blender and allow to cool.

In a large mixing bowl mix the granola with the gogi berries, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, linseeds and chia seeds.  Add the mixed spice, vanilla and cinnamon.

Mix well so that the mixture is consistent.

Add the date and sweet potato mixture to the granola and seed mix and combine by mixing well.

Place the mixture in the prepared baking tin and use a spatula to press the mixture down.  Then use your clean hands to press down tightly.  Bake in a preheated oven for 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Optional topping:

300g dark sugar free chocolate
1 tablespoon olive oil
250g mixed nuts

Chop the nuts roughly and use a very hot pan to dry roast them.

Melt the chocolate in a bain marie or in the microwave.  Add the olive oil and stir until it is smooth and glossy.

Pour the chocolate on to the granola bake and scatted the nuts on top.

Allow to cool and then cut into bars or squares.

You can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks and in the freezer for up to 3 months.

        I use Oat Bran Granola by Mornflake at Rimus Group, nuts, spices and seeds by Good Earth, olive oil by Costa D’Oro and sugar-free, lactose-free chocolate by Valor

Vegemince Loaf with Sweet Potato and Oatbran

vegemince loaf

Vegemince Loaf with Sweet Potato, a great wholesome weekday meal.  Photo by CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

‘This vegemince loaf is healthy comfort food and proved to be a crowd pleaser satisfying many dietary requirements.  It is an very quick recipe to prepare and looks amazing when brought to the table.  It is also delicious served cold the next day’

Linda McCarthney's Vegemince

I use vegemince by Linda McCartney Foods to make my Vegemince Loaf with Sweet Potato and Oatbran

You will need:

400g vegemince
1 onion
1 clove garlic
250g tinned chopped tomatoes
150g fine oatbran
4 eggs
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon dried herbs of your choice
1 sweet potato
Butter Flavour Cooking Spray
some fresh mint leaves for garnish
Salt and Pepper to season
Large Loaf tin [900g]
baking paper

Use a spray oil to coat a large frying pan.  Chop finely the onion and garlic and cook in the pan over low heat, stirring frequently until the onion becomes translucent.

Add the vegemince and cook for a few minutes then add the tinned chopped tomatoes, and dried herbs.  Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.

In the meantime beat the eggs in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Prepare the loaf tin by covering with baking paper.

Add the oatbran to the vegemince mix and then the eggs. Combine and add the lemon zest. Pour the batter into the lined loaf tin and press down with a wooden spoon.

Wash the sweet potato and chop into thin slices with skin on. Arrange over the top of the loaf tin and press down again. Spray with butter flavoured cooking spray and use a brush to spread all over. Bake in a preheated oven for 35 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before removing from the loaf tin by easing it out of the tin by pulling the baking paper. Place on a serving dish and garnish with fresh mint leaves.

 

Trade Enquiries:

Rimus Group for Linda MacCartney Food, X-Tra Polpa and Tomato Products, Fry Light Cooking Spray and Mornflake Stoneground Oat Bran

Good Earth  for dried herbs and spices

Big Fresh in Mosta for fresh fruit, eggs and vegetables

Deyma Shop Gzira: Table

Loft Naxxar: Tableware

Tescoma: Kitchenware

AMC: Baking paper and disposables

Lea’s Good Food Everyday is available in most bookshops and via Midsea Books

Cooking with millet in today’s Sunday Times

escape superfood millet beef and millet stirfry

Warm Millet Salad with Beef, Photo by CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

I made a few recipes last week on TV with millet, which is one of my favourite gluten-free foods. The grain-like seeds originated in Africa and have been eaten since prehistoric times. They are a pale yellow colour and have an earthy taste. You can eat millet simply plain with a bit of olive oil…

Source: Sunday Times Cooking with millet

I use Millet by Good Earth Distributors Ltd

Nutrient-dense smoothie bowls

Escape Kiwi and dragron fruit smoothie bowls.jpg

Kiwi and Kale Smoothie Bowl with dragon fruit stars and chia seeds

Smoothie bowls are a big craze that started on Instagram with photos of the prettiest recipes that can possibly be created. They are eaten with a spoon to replace a light meal and provide a healthy food source that is quick to prepare. As there is some chewing involved, this triggers the…

Source: Sunday Times Nutrient-dense smoothie bowls

My fruit and vegetables come from Big Fresh in Mosta, Oscar’s Fruit and Vegetables in Paola and Barbuto for Organic.  I used seeds and nuts by Good Earth 

What to eat in February

nettle-soup-escape

Nettle Soup fortified with spirulina and served with fresh burrata in today’s Sunday Times. Photo CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show.

 

February is the time when winter starts to become spring. These recipes feature in-season ingre­dients and some carnival treats. Nettle leaves are young and tender this month, and as we approach the summer the leaves toughen up, so now is the time to make use of them. Use gloves and scissors to…

Source Sunday Times: What to eat in February

I use fresh vegetables by Big Fresh, spirulina by Good Earth and olive oil by Costa d’Oro at J Calleja Import Export Ltd

Eating in: Easy TexMex

escape-tex-mex-eating-in

Easy TexMex in today’s Sunday Times  Photo taken by George Aquilina during a live tv show

We associate Mexican diner food with restaurant food, but creating these dishes at home could not be easier as most of the food can be prepared the day before, making it excellent for entertaining a crowd. It is quick and inexpensive, and an ideal choice for non-confident or starter cooks and for…

Source Sunday Times: A taste of Mexico

Mushroom Almond Pilaf Pie

Mushroom and almond pilaf in Cavolo Vecchio leaves.jpg

Mushroom Almond Pilaf Pie, photo by CJ during a live tv show

‘The mushroom and pilaf pie I made on tv this morning really appeals to me.  The organic leaves of cavolo vecchio encase an aromatic mushroom and almond pilaf fortified with fresh turmeric and with those spices that bring back memories of the Middle East – cardamon, cloves and cinnamon.  The leaves crisp up and the rice remains so moist’

You will need:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon butter
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
200g mushrooms, sliced
100g beetroot stems
100g swede [nevew in maltese], peeled and chopped
100g toasted flaked almonds
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon fresh turmeric, grated
1 teaspoon chopped fresh herbs
200g brown rice
1 all natural stock cube
1 tablespoon grated citrus zest
1 cinnamon stick
4 whole cloves
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2 cardamon pods
salt and pepper to season

To make the pie:  10 large steamed leaves [kale or nettle or cavolo vecchio or chard]
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 egg, beaten
4 tablespoons hard grated goats cheese
springform cake tin of 18cm

Heat the oil and butter in a large pan, then fry the onion over low heat until it softens and becomes translucent. Add the spices and grated fresh turmeric. Then add the rice and stock cube and enough water according to the instructions of the pack you are using. Add the chopped swede. Bring to boil and reduce heat. Simmer uncovered until all the water is absorbed. In the meantime add the chopped beetroot stems and fresh herbs. Cook for 10 mins, then add the grated citrus zest, salt and pepper. Add the toasted almonds. Give it a good stir and remove from heat.

The rice can be served as it is and you can go on to make the pie.

pilaf rice.jpg

Aromatic mushroom almond pilaf with fresh turmeric, photo by CJ during a live tv show

Preheat the oven to 200C. Brush a springform tin with olive oil. Line it with the steamed leaves. Fill the cavity with the rice pilaf. Press down and fill it to the top. Cover the top with a layer of leaves and tuck the ends in. Bake for 25 minutes in a hot oven. Remove from the oven and allow to rest of 20 minutes before serving. This dish can also be served cold.

pilaff rice pie in cavolo nero.jpg

Baked mushroom almond pilaf baked in cavolo vecchio leaves, photo by CJ during a live tv show

This recipe is gluten free.

My vegetables come from Big Fresh and Barbuto [organic], Brown Rice by Flora and spices by Schwartz at PJ Sutters, natural stock cubes by Kallo and flaked almonds by Good Earth, olive oil by Costa d’Oro  Kitchenware by Tescoma, Tableware by Loft

Lea’s Good Food Everyday is available via Midsea Books</p