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


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
a pinch of salt
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon stevia or 2 pellets stevia


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.


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

Smoked Tomato Soup with fresh broad beans and shredded chicken

tomato soup with broad beans 1.jpg

Smoked Tomato and fresh broad bean soup with shredded chicken.  Photography CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

‘a wholesome soup making the most of local seasonal ingredients and flavours of a Mediterranean Spring.  This is a gluten free, low fat, lactose free and diabetic friendly recipe.  For a vegan option leave out the chicken’

You will need:

1 tablespoon olive oil and extra to drizzle before serving
1 large white onion
2 red bell peppers
1/2 fresh garlic
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
a pinch of cumin powder
a pinch of dried marjoram and a pinch of dried basil
400g can chopped tomatoes
2 large tomatoes
200g cherry tomatoes
12 broad bean pods, peeled
1 natural stock cube
1/2 cooked chicken breast per portion [optional, leave out for vegan dish]
handful chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs [I used fresh marjoram, mint and basil]
juice of half a lime
1/4 teaspoon grated lime zest

Preheat the oven to 220C.

Start by halving the large tomatoes and placing them on an ovenproof dish. Brush some olive oil. Season with salt and scatter some fresh marjoram leaves. On the same dish place one of the red bell peppers. Roast in a hot oven for 25-30 minutes until the edges of the tomatoes become charred. The skin of the red pepper will also become quite charred and caramelized.

Place the roasted red pepper in a plastic bag and tie it up. Allow the red pepper to cool completely then chop up.

Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat and cook the roughly chopped onion and fresh garlic. Stir and do not allow to brown. Chop one of the red peppers and add to the pot. Then add the dried herbs and paprika, stir and then add the stock cube. Stir in the canned tomatoes with the liquid, top up with water just to barely cover the vegetables and bring to a boil. Chop the cherry tomatoes with skin on, add them to the pot and reduce the heat, add the lime juice and simmer for 15 minutes uncovered. Taste and season if necessary.

Remove from the heat and add half the roasted peopper and one of the large roasted tomatoes to the pot.

Use a hand held blender and pulse a few times to retain the texture.

Peel the fresh broad beans and add half of them to the pot and stir. Add the lime zest and stir again.

Cut the chicken up into pieces if you are using it. Chop the parsley and fresh herbs.

Ladle the soup into a large serving bowl and top with fresh herbs, the rest of the broad beans, the remaining roasted tomato and half the roasted pepper and chicken. Drizzle some olive oil and serve immediately.

Trade Enquiries: Costa D’Oro Olive oil is available from J Calleja Ltd

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

I use fresh vegetables and herbs by Big Fresh in Mosta, dried herbs and spices by Good Earth, tableware by Loft and kitchenware by Tescoma.

Bhal fil-Forn with fresh marjoram

Bhal fil forn 3Bhal fil-Forn with fresh marjoram, photo by CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

A simple Maltese weekday meal during today’s tv show based on Jane Bonnici’s ‘Bhal fil-forn’.   Caulflowers are abundant and  inexpensive this month and this is a healthy, light comfort food.  The vegetables are braised with sweet potatoes,  fresh turmeric, fresh marjoram and mint and finished with fresh mint, olives and large juicy tomatoes.

You will need :

1 onion
4 cloves garlic
1 sweet potato
1 large cauliflower, cleaned out and cut into florets
1 large tomato cut into 2, allow half per portion

1 stock cube [natural with no artificial additives]
Olives, allow 4 per person
Fresh mint,  fresh marjoram and parsley, finely chopped
Tuna Fish, allow 150g per portion

50g fresh broad beans and 50g fresh peas

1 poached egg per person
Olive Oil
Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper

Chop the sweet potato and vegetables.  Chop the herbs and parsley. In a large pot, sweat the onion and garlic in a drizzle of olive oil.
Add the sweet potato and cauliflower florets, then add some water, just enough to cover the potatoes and a stock cube.  Add the grated fresh turmeric.
Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, add have the broad beans and fresh peas and simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the chopped mint, marjoram and herbs, keeping some aside for garnish.
Test that the potatoes are cooked and then add the tuna fish, olives and tomatoes. Season.
As soon as it start to boil turn off the heat and leave covered to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Serve in individual plates and top each portion with a poached egg. Drizzle with some olive oil and more fresh herbs before serving,

This recipe is Gluten Free and Egg Free.


And here is Jane with her husband Mario.  This is the view from Jane’s kitchen window !

Trade Enquiries:  Premium Tuna Chunks by 3 Leaves from J Calleja Import Export Ltd