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.

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.

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

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

Cooking with millet

millet salad

I cooked a few meals recently during the tv show using millet, which is one of my favorite gluten-free foods. The grain-like seeds originated in Africa and have been eaten since prehistoric times. They are a pale yellow color and have an earthy taste. You can eat millet simply plain with a bit of olive oil or butter and it can also be added to soups, salads and stir-fried meals.

Millet is packed with nutrients and also makes an excellent breakfast in place of oats. It is rich in B Vitamins, magnesium and insoluble fibre, which promotes a good digestion and prevents gall stones.

Millet was rare to find some time ago but as quinoa has become so popular, other grains and seeds are more readily available in most supermarkets and grocery stores today.

To cook a cup of millet, add two cups of water or stock, ¼ teaspoon salt and either one teaspoon butter or a tablespoon olive oil. If you have time, lightly dry roast the millet seeds in a hot pan until they start to turn golden then add the rest of the ingredients.

Bring to boil, then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Allow to rest for 10 minutes in a covered pot before serving.

Three Bean Eggplants with Chicken and Millet

You will need:
200g cooked millet
2 eggplants
1 tbsp olive oil
200g diced cooked chicken breast
½ onion
1 clove garlic
¼ tsp smoked paprika
200g mixed cooked beans of your choice [I used a mix of pinto, haricot and lima beans]
a handful of baby spinch leaves
salt
2 tbsp grated Parmegiano Reggiano

Preheat the oven to 200℃. Brush an ovenproof dish with olive oil. Cut the eggplants in half and place skin side down on the baking sheet.

Bake for 25 minutes until the flesh softens up.

Allow to cool and scoop out the flesh and chop it.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan. Cook the onion and garlic on low heat and add the chopped eggplant flesh. Add the paprika and a pinch of salt.

Cook until the onion becomes translucent. Remove from the heat and add the chopped cooked chicken breast and mixed beans.

Use a large bowl to mix together the cooked milled and chicken and bean mixture. Add half the spinach leaves and mix gently. Season with salt.

Spoon the mixture into the cavity of the eggplants and top with grated Parmegiano Reggiano. Bake for 10 to15 minutes until the cheese melts. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with more spinach leaves.

This is a gluten-free, diabetic-friendly recipe.

Baked Breakfast Millet with Forest Fruits and Pistachio Nuts

You will need:
150g cooked millet
1 cup frozen berries of your choice
½ cup cashew milk
vanilla
¼ tsp cinnamon
½ cup stevia
2 tbsp honey
To garnish:  ¼ cup pistachio nuts.

Preheat the oven to 180℃.

In an ovenproof dish mix all the ingredients together. Stir and bake in the oven for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Top with pistachio nuts and serve.

For a vegan recipe use agave instead of honey. This is a gluten-free recipe.

Warm Salad of Millet and Beef

You will need:
200g cooked millet
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small white onion
250g sirloin steak
1 grated garlic clove
1 bay leaf
½ tsp coriander seeds
4 leaves kale or cavolo vecchio or kohlrabi leaves
1 large tomato
1 all-natural stock cube
1 cup water
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
¼ tsp freshly grated lemon zest
2 tbsp freshly grated Parmegiano Reggiano
2 tbsp olive oil
a pinch of salt

Chop the sirloin steak into strips and keep aside.

Peel the onion and finely slice. Chop the tomato and keep aside.

Prepare the leaves by removing the tough centre stem and chop the leaves. Keep aside.

Place a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan or wok. Cook the beef strips and remove from pan. Keep aside and in the meantime cook the onion on low heat. Add the garlic and crushed coriander seeds. Stir, then add the cooked beef strips. Add the stock cube dissolved in water and the bay leaf. Cook until the liquid reduces. Turn up the heat and add the chopped leaves and grated ginger. Stir for a few minutes until the leaves start to wilt then assemble the warm salad. Place the cooked millet in a large mixing bowl. Add the beef stir fry, the chopped tomato and the chopped parsley and gently mix the ingredients into the millet. Finish off by adding the freshly grated lemon zest and Parmegiano Reggiano. Serve while still warm.

This is a gluten-free, lactose-free and diabetic-friendly recipe.

Butternut Squash Soup with Millet

You will need:
1 medium butternut squash
2 medium carrots
1 onion
1 clove garlic
1 natural stock cube
5 cups water
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly grated ginger
Some fresh thyme
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups cooked millet

Roughly chop the butternut squash with skin on. Peel and roughly chop the onion, garlic and carrots. Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onion, garlic, carrots and freshly grated ginger and cook for five minutes on low heat. Stir and add the stock cube dissolved in the water. Add the thyme and bring to boil and simmer for 35 minutes. Use a hand held immersion blender to puree the soup until it is very smooth. Serve and add a few tablespoons of cooked millet to garnish.

This recipe is a gluten-free, vegan and diabetic-friendly recipe.

Trade Enquiries:

Millet, dried herbs and spices, Kallo natural stock cubes by Good Earth Distributors Ltd

Olive oil by Costa D’Oro at J Calleja

Fry Light Cooking Spray and President Butter by Rimus Trading Agency

Fresh fruit, herbs and vegetables by Big Fresh Mosta, Oscar’s Fruit and Vegetables Paola and Barbuto for Organic produce

Fresh Meat and Poultry by Ta’ Cancu Butcher Zejtun and Majjal ta’ Malta

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

Quick no yeast hot cross buns

hot cross buns basket 2

‘based on Irish Soda bread recipe, I use yoghurt to bind these hot cross style buns with no yeast, no butter, no processed sugar and no eggs.   They are delicious fresh served as they are, buttered up or with a favorite jam.  You can make them in 5 minutes with a cooking time of 20 minutes.  Fresh bakes in half an hour and I cannot think of anything more welcoming on a Sunday…’

hot cross buns 2

Egg free, yeast free, sugar free,  butter and oil free hot cross style buns

You will need:

400g self raising flour
1 tablespoon honey or agave
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
a pinch of salt
300ml yoghurt
100g dried mixed fruit
zest of half a lemon, grated
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
the seeds from 1/2 pod vanilla

Simply sieve the flour into a large bowl. Add the bicarbonate of soda and the other ingredients. Mix. Use a spoon and stir while you mix in the yoghurt. Bind together with your hands into a dough. There is no need to knead the dough and I find that the less you do, the better as the buns will be light and airy. Form buns and place on a flat oven dish covered baking paper.  Use a knife and cut a cross on the surface of each bu.  Bake in a preheated oven at 190C for 15 to 20 minutes.

Use a brush to coat very lightly with honey if you wish.

hot cross buns 4

Quick no yeast hot cross style buns

Lea’s Good Food Everyday is available via Midsea Books

Trade Enquiries:  Doves Farm Range of Gluten Free Products is available via Good Earth