Granny’s Fruit Loaf with Chia Seeds [no refined sugar and no butter, lactose free]

Granny's fruit loaf slices

 ‘I wake up very early every morning to the smell of freshly baked bread from the small village bakery across the road. The aroma gives a sense of belonging, just what you may associate with being in a cosy home and it is a good start to the day.

Malta is well known for its crusty sour dough bread which is a staple in the local diet. Customers start to arrive before 6am to pick their own loaf and from across the road I watch as the village starts to awaken. I love the buzz and sense of community that comes with being in the heart of an old village and hope that the process of modernization can be avoided and village life on the island is preserved.maltese bread felix.jpg

My bake today is a traditional old-fashioned fruit cake adjusted to suit modern day preferences. I use stevia and pureed fresh apples to sweeten the fruit loaf and it is butter-free. When I made it on tv this week, I used tofu but if you prefer you can swap the same amount with ricotta instead. I add Chia Seeds which are high in antioxdidants and Omega3 to boost the fruit loaf with extra nutritional value and fibre but these are optional and if you do not like the idea, leave them out. The oven temperature needs to be reduced to 160C to retain their nutritional value. ‘

Granny's fruit loaf 2

You will need:

250g self-raising flour
100g tofu [you can use ricotta instead of tofu]
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 large apple, peeled and roughly chopped
Juice of half a lemon
3 large eggs separated [if eggs are small use 4]
8 tablespoons stevia [OR use 150g golden raisins soaked in water overnight and pureed]
250g dried fruit of your choice (raisins, sultanas, candid peel, cherries, currants)
vanilla
1 tablespoon vinegar [I prefer Apple Cider vinegar but you can use any vinegar]
A pinch of salt
Grated zest of a lemon
Grated zest of an orange
A pinch of mixed spice

[Optional:  4 tablespoons chia seeds]

Granny's Fruit Loaf

Preheat the oven to 160C. Prepare a loaf tin by spraying it with Cooking Spray.

Sift the flour twice into a large bowl.

Add the tofu [OR ricotta] crumbled into pieces and olive oil and use your finger tips to rub in the olive oil and tofu into the flour in the same way as you are rubbing in butter.

granny's fruit loaf slices 2Add the vanilla, salt, citrus zest and mixed spice. Then add the dried fruit and mix well until all the pieces of fruit . In a separate bowl, use a hand blender to puree the apple with the egg yolks, the lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. Beat the egg whites until they are stiff. Add the bicarbonate of soda and the cornflour to the tofu and flour mix. If you are using Chia Seeds, add them now. Use a metal spoon to mix.

granny's fruit loaf slices 3

Then add the apple and egg yolk mix and finally fold in the egg whites using a large metal spoon.

Pour the batter into a cake loaf tin. Bake for 40 minutes at 160ºC.’

Lea’s Good Food Everyday airs on Smash TV everyday and you can follow on facebook . Photography by CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show.

Trade Enquiries:

Baking goods, chia seeds, dried fruit, vanilla and other spices by Good Earth

Olive oil by Costa D’Oro at J Calleja Ltd

Fry Light Cooking Spray Butter Flavour by Rimus Group

Kitchenware by Tescoma

Apricot Crumble Slice [gluten free, vegan]

apricot crumble slices squares

‘Another glorious Maltese summer is here to stay and with it comes an abundance of succulent and sweet summer fruits, slowly and naturally ripened by the Mediterranean sun making them so juicy and moist like no other greenhouse varieties.  They may appear imperfect, uneven in shape and size, sometimes slightly bruised but bursting with flavor.   After all beauty is not meant to be perfect and cloned.  

For this recipe I use a mix of fresh, ripe apricots and dried apricots. This is one of the easiest things to bake with a soft flapjack base made with poached fresh and dried apricots.  These are topped with fresh apricots and a crumble topping of ground almonds and coconut pulp.  

You can use any berries or stone fruit for this recipe.  Wash the apricots thoroughly and leave the skin on ‘

You will need:

250g ground almonds
250g oatmeal
120g soft dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons coconut oil
4 tablespoons coconut pulp
500g fresh ripe apricots
a pinch of salt
1 vanilla pod
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons stevia
150g dried apricots
To brush the top:  1 tablespoon of coconut oil mixed with 1 tablespoon of agave plus 75g nuts [I used cashew flakes]

apricot crumble slice dried apricots

Prepare an ovenproof dish by lining it with baking paper.  Spray it with cooking spray.

Remove the stone from the fresh apricots and cut into quarters with skin on.  Place half of them together with the vanilla pod in a saucepan.  Chop the dried apricots and add them to the saucepan.  Immerse in just enough cold water and bring to boil on low to moderate heat.  As soon as the mixture starts to boil, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes for all the fruits to soften up.  Remove from the heat.  Add the grated lemon zest.

Use a large bowl to place the ground almonds.  Mix the oat meal with it and then pour the melted coconut oil and softened coconut pulp.  Use your fingertips to rub in the coconut oil and pulp into the ground almond and oatmeal mixture.  Add the soft brown sugar and mixed spice and vanilla seeds.  Mix with a metal spoon so that the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.

Add two thirds of this mixture to the poached apricot mix and stir until it is has a smooth consistency.  Pour the mixture into the prepared ovenproof dish and use a plastic spatula dipped in water to smooth the surface.  If you have time cover the dish with cling film and place in the fridge for an hour.  [At this stage, you can also leave the dish in the fridge overnight and carry on preparing the rest of the recipe the following day.]

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Assemble the remainder of the chopped fresh apricots on top of the base.  Brush the surface of the fruit with the mix of agave and coconut oil.  Scatter the rest of the crumble mix on the top.  Do not press it down.

Bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes then take out of the oven, brush again with the agave and coconut oil mixture and scatter the chopped nuts on top.  Return to the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes.

Allow to cool and cut up into squares.

apricot crumble baked

Serve warm with ice cream or cut up into squares for lunchboxes and picnics or simply instead of a cereal bar for breakfast or a snack

Store in the fridge for up to 3 days in the summer and 5 days in the winter.  Freeze for up to a month although I do not like the thawed texture which becomes slightly soggy from freezing.

Trade Enquiries:

Fry Light  Butter Flavour Cooking Spray and Mornflake Oatmeal via Rimus Group

Ground almonds, naturally dried apricots, dried fruit, spices and baking goods via Good Earth Distributors Ltd

Coconut Oil and coconut pulp via J Calleja Ltd

My fresh succulent apricots come from Big Fresh in Mosta

Lea’s Good Food Everyday is aired on Smash TV every day and you can also follow on facebook 🙂  Photography by CJ Baldacchino during an unedited live tv show cooking in real time.

Rigatoni with fresh broad beans and seasonal vegetables

rigatoni

‘a fresh pasta dish using broad beans, asparagus and seasonal vegetables.  It also makes an excellent pasta salad’

You willl need:

300g rigatoni
1 onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh mixed herbs
a pinch of dried mixed herbs
1 tablespoon lemon zest
150g fresh broad beans
12 asparagus
75g mushrooms
75g fresh spinach leaves
2 kale leaves, steamed and roughly chopped
1/2 cup mascarpone
1/2 cup yoghurt
Salt and pepper
a pinch of stevia
Pecorino cheese to serve

Prepare the vegetables by peeling the broad beans and keep aside.

Steam the asparagus and roughly tear up the spinach leaves.

Chop the fresh herbs finely and keep aside.

In a large pan saute the onion on low heat in a tablespoon of olive oil

Cook on gentle heat and add the dried herbs.  Slice the mushrooms and cook with the onions on gentle heat.

Use a hand blender to mix the yoghurt, mascarpone.  Season with salt and pepper and add a pinch of stevia. Blend to a smooth paste.

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet.  Drain the pasta and keep aside a cup of pasta water.

Add the pasta to the pan with the onions and mushrooms.  Stir and add 4 tablespoons of the pasta water.  After 2 minutes add the blended mix of yoghurt and mascarpone.  Stir into the pasta on gentle heat and if the mixture is too thick, add some more pasta water, a little at a time.  Add the spinach leaves, half the asparagus, half the broad beans and half the fresh herbs.  Cook for another few minutes then remove from the heat.  Mix in the rest of the raw spinach and gently mix in.  Place the pasta on a serving dish and then arrange the remaining vegetables and steamed kale leaves on top of the pasta and garnish with the rest of the fresh herbs and spinach.  Season with salt and pepper again and serve with grated pecorino cheese.

Trade Enquiries:
Olio Costa D’Oro Olive OIl by J Calleja Ltd

I use fresh vegetables and herbs by Big Fresh Mosta

Vegan Chocolate Muffins

vegan chocolate muffins

‘I use linseed as an egg replacement for these very chocolaty and moist muffins.  If you are looking for a diabetic friendly alternative use stevia instead of sugar. What I like about these muffins is that they really rise’

For the muffins you will need:

250g self raising flour [for a gluten free recipe use gluten free self raising flour]
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
75g cocoa powder
a pinch of coffee powder
a pinch of cinnamon
a pinch of salt
250g soft brown sugar
300ml hot water [not boiling]
3 tablespoons linseed
1 tablespoon vinegar
50g coconut oil
30g coconut pulp

Preheat oven to 160C.
Prepare a muffin tin by lining it with muffin cases. [Optional: On tv, I sprayed the muffin cases with Butter Flavour Fry Light Cooking Spray which is vegan for those who miss a buttery taste!]
Sieve twice the self raising flour, bicarbonate, cinnamon.
Add the salt and mix.
Place the water, linseed, coconut pulp, coconut oil, vinegar, brown sugar and coffee in a liquidizer and turn on until the linseeds are broken up and the mixture appears consistent.
Use a large metal spoon to fold in the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients.
Use a spoon to fill the muffin cases and place in the oven to bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Allow to cool and top with the icing or serve as they are.

vegan chocolate muffins 3.jpg During the tv programme today I used a bar of lactose free milk chocolate but if you want vegan icing use dark chocolate.

For the icing [optional], you will need:
75ml water
50g coconut pulp
50g soft brown sugar
a pinch of coffee powder
a pinch of cinnamon powder
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
150g chocolate

12 fresh cherries [optional]
Cocoa Nibs to sprinkle on top [optional]

Place all the ingredients in a saucepan on low heat. As soon as it start to boil, remove from the heat. Keep stirring until you have a smooth, glossy consistency. Allow the muffins to cool completely before pouring the icing on top of them.
Sprinkle some cocoa nibs and decorate with a fresh cherry.
Chocolate vegan muffins.jpg

Trade Enquiries:
Cocoa nibs, cocoa powder, spices, brown sugar, linseed, bicarbonate of soda, self raising flour by Good Earth
Valor Chocolates, Govinda Stevia, Govinda Coconut Oil, Govinda Coconut Pulp by J Calleja
Fry Light Cooking Spray Butter Flavour by Rimus Trading
Fresh Fruit by Big Fres Mosta

Photography by CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show.

Strawberry and Coffee Biscuit Trifle

strawberry coffee gateau

Stawberry and Coffee Biscuit Trifle, photo by CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

You will need:

2 packets Nice Biscuits
4 tablespoons instant coffee
2 cups boiling water
1 vanilla pod
100g butter
80g sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 punnets strawberries
500ml whipping cream

strawberry coffee gateau 2

Use an electric mixer to beat the cream.  Remove from the bowl and mix in the seeds from a vanilla pod.  Keep aside.

Place the water in a saucepan with the remaining vanilla pod and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and add the coffee powder, mix with a large spoon, then add the cocoa powder and brandy.

Place the softened butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream together until the mixture is white and fluffy.

Fold in the whipped cream and vanilla.  Place the cream mixture in a piping bag and keep aside.

Slice the strawberries.

Assemble the trifle by dipping the ‘Nice’ Biscuits into the coffee mixture and line the bottom of the container.

Work neatly and pipe a layer of the cream mixture.  Flatten with a spoon, then top with a layer of sliced strawberries.

Repeat with a layer of coffee-soaked ‘Nice’ biscuits, a layer of the cream mixture and strawberries until you have used all your ingredients.

I usually fill up the whole bowl with these layers, but due to time constraints of live tv, I finished off with a layer of strawberries before we reached the top and had lots of left overs to make more trifles !

Cover with cling film and Refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving.

Trade Enquiries

Rimus Trading Agency  for Nice Biscuits by Regal, President Butter and Cream

Good Earth Distributors for pure vanilla pods and raw cocoa powder

Big Fresh  Mosta for all my fresh fruit and vegetables

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