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

Quail and Quinoa

quails by marconia.jpg

‘I cooked quails during our show yesterday. Simply roasted with no stuffing, and served them on a bed of warm quinoa salad.  This recipe is gluten free, diabetic friendly, nut free and dairy free.’

You will need:

6 quails

6 slices of parma ham

1/2 teaspoon butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

Season the quailswith salt and peper and wrap them with one slice of parma ham and meltthe butter in a pan. Add the olive oil. Saute the quails on both sides lightly for around 3-4 minutes on each side.

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Place the quails on an ovenproof dish covered with baking paper.  Roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Baste halfway through with its own juices.  Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving with a warm quinoa salad.

For the warm quinoa salad you will need:

a mix of chopped cherry tomatoes, grated raw sweet potatoes, cooked mushrooms, fresh parsley, fresh mint, and a mix of the following vegetables all sauteed together in the same pan used to cook the quail:  onion, garlic, pumpkin, butternut squash, cauliflower, zucchini, green marrow.

2 cups quinoa

Prepare the vegetables of your choice.  Place the quinoa in a saucepan and immerse in cold water.  Season with salt and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes until some of the outer quinoa casings pop. Remove from heat and drain any excess water. Season with salt and pepper and gently mix in the vegetables.

quails #goodfoodeveryday.jpg

Quails by Ta Ciancu Butcher, Zejtun  Photo during a live tv show by C J Baldacchino]

This is a gluten free, lactose free, egg free recipe.

I use Quinoa by Peak’s Free From, Butter by Merci Chef, Herbs and Spices by Schwartz, fresh fruit and vegetables by Big Fresh, tableware Loft, kitchenware Tescoma

Fresh Herb Amaranth

amaranth 3

Fresh Herb Amaranth instead of polenta or mashed potato [Photography Felix Cesare, the food in this photo was cooked during a live tv programme]

‘Everyone loved this fresh herb Amaranth.  It has a consistency of polenta when cooked and the uncooked grains are similar to quinoa.  I  use water as a base instead of cream or milk as the consistency is so creamy.  It is gluten free and protein rich.  I served it with chick peas and fresh broad beans’.

You will need:

1 cup amaranth
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1 natural stock cube
1/2 clove garlic
1/2 onion, finely chopped
6 tablespoons mixed fresh herbs and I use a mix of mint, basil and tarragon
pinch of dried provence herbs
1/2 cup red cabbage, finely shredded and chopped
Black pepper to taste
4 tablespoons olive oil

Prepare the herbs by finely chopping them and the red cabbage by shredding and chopping then immersing completely in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and leave aside.

Saute the onion on low heat in one tablespoon of olive oil.  When it becomes translucent add the garlic but do not cook for more than one minute to avoid burning and retain a gentle flavor. Remove from heat.  It will carry on cooking once it is added to the amaranth.

Bring the water with the stock cube to boil and add the amaranth. Add the dried herbs. Reduce the heat and cook using a wooden spoon to stir constantly. After 5 minutes, add the cooked onion and garlic.  Keep cooking and the mixture will get thick and bubbly. Keep a jug of water near you and add water a little at a time as it gets absorbed. Taste to check if the amaranth is cooked enough then add the herbs, finely shredded herbs and olive oil. Lightly stir in and serve as an accompaniment to your main dish.

‘Tip: Add a couple of spoons of amaranth to thicken a soup’

My ingredients for this recipe are by Good Earth with fresh vegetables and herbs by Big Fresh.

Cooking with stevia

Blueberry Traybake [Photo: Felix Cesare]

Stevia is the answer if you want your sweet treats with less calories.

For the past few years I have focused on creating recipes that eliminate the use of processed sugar and unnecessary fats.

Although there are a number of alternative natural sweeteners available, such as agave, maple syrup, coconut sugar and honey, stevia is the natural plant-derived sweetener that contains no calories. It is an ingredient that can be used to satisfy sweet cravings without adding the extra calories and is, therefore, ideal for diabetics or anyone wishing to watch their weight.

Some classic dishes still need the bulk that sugar provides to achieve the right consistency of what we are traditionally used to.

In Japan, stevia has been the number one sugar substitute for a very long time. Stevia is a high-density sweetener that is about 200 to 400 times sweeter than sugar. It has been around for hundreds of years and was originally cultivated in the mountains of Paraguay. The plant is easily cultivated and uses less water than sugar cane (about one seventh).

Some time ago I spoke at length with internationally- known nutritionist Keith Ayoob, associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. He believes that stevia is quite safe for children and also acceptable for pregnant women.

Check the label on your jar of stevia to convert the equivalent weight of sugar you require, as the conversion depends on the brand you are using.

Blueberry Tray Cake

250g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 vanilla pod
A pinch of freshly-grated nutmeg
A pinch of salt
Stevia equivalent of 150g sugar
4 eggs
2 tbsp olive oil
1 apple, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp apple organic vinegar
300g blueberries

Preheat oven to 160°C.

Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl. I like to sift my flour twice. Add the salt, vanilla, nutmeg and stevia. Mix well.

In a separate bowl, use a hand- held blender to beat the eggs, olive oil, apple and apple organic vinegar. Blend until the mixture is smooth.

Prepare a square ovenproof dish with baking spray. Use a large metal spoon to quickly and gently fold in the liquids into the dry ingredients. Do not overmix. Dust half the blueberries with flour and then add them to the mixture.

Pour the batter into the cake tray. Do not fill it to the top to allow room to rise. Put into a hot oven to bake, immediately after topping the cake with some more blueberries.

Bake at 170°C for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and before it cools down brush lightly with some organic maple syrup.

Rhubarb and Apple Jam

500g apples
500g rhubarb
Juice of 2 lemons
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1 vanilla pod
Stevia (you will need the eqivalent of 100g sugar for this recipe)

rhubarb apple jam with stevia

Rhubarb and apple jam with stevia

Rhubarb is now easily available in Malta and I love the taste and colour of this jam.

As it has a low pectin content, I add the same quantity of apples to produce not only a sugar-free jam but one that is also free from artificial pectin.

Peel the apples. Mix together with the chopped rhubarb and lemon juice.

Cook over moderate heat until the fruit starts to soften. Add the lemon zest and vanilla. Stir frequently. When the fruit has softened, add the stevia.

Continue to cook until the jam has reached a thick consistency. The elimination of processed sugar produces a different consistency. Once this is achieved, pour the hot jam into sterilised jars while still warm.

Because of the absence of processed sugar, I like to store this jam in the refrigerator. I also love this jam puréed with a hand blender, leaving a bit of texture.

I use ingredients by Good Earth Distributors and fresh fruit and vegetables by Big Fresh Mosta

Oat Soup

broad bean and pea soup with poached egg

Fresh pea and broadbean minty yoghurt soup with poached egg [Tableware by C&H Bartoli, photo Yan Schembri]

‘I use fresh seasonal ingredients for my soup today and in its simplicity this makes a wonderful meal.  The freshness of the peas and broad beans laced with mint leaves reflects the genuine and honest produce of this island blessed with so much.
For the creamy consistency I use oats, not too much, just enough that when cooked and pureed  result in a creamy consistency without the richness. And to finish off a crimson fruit salad of pomegranate, blueberries, strawberries and more, vibrant and so refreshing’

You will need:
1 tablespoon olive oil and extra for drizzling
1 onion, roughly chopped and sauteed in the olive oil
2 handfuls of  very fresh mint leaves
2 handfuls of very fresh flat leaf parsley
some other fresh herbs if desired and I used a sprig of fresh basil too
1 bay leaf
500ml water with one all natural vegetable stock cube
300g fresh broadbeans, peeled
200g fresh peas, peeled
50g oats
125ml yoghurt or if lactose free use unsweetened almond milk
1 lime, juice and zest
1 poached egg per person poached in water and 1 tablespoon of apple organic vinegar
salt and pepper
Place the water in a large pot with the stock cube and bring to boil.  Add the sauteed onion (do not allow it to brown when you are cooking it in the olive oil, cooked slowly on low heat to soften it up and bring out the sweetness).

Cook for 5 minutes on a low boil, then add the oats.  Lower the temperature.  Stir constantly and cook for 10 minutes.  Add half the broad beans, half the peas, and a quarter of the fresh mint leaves, parsley and other fresh herbs if you are using.
Cook for 5 minutes.  Season with salt and white pepper, add the dried mint and cook for another 2 minutes.  Turn off the heat and allow to slightly cool down.  Add the remaining herbs keeping some back to garnish and blend to a smooth puree using a hand blender.  Add half of the remaining broad beans and peas and reheat.
Place a poached egg in each soup bowl.  Pour over the hot soup and scatter some more broad beans and peas on top.  Garnish with fresh mint leaves.


And to finish off a fruit salad.  We will be celebrating Strawberry Festival in the Northern village of Mgarr very soon and to celebrate the 10th anniversary of this feast and from today you can follow my daily series of new strawberry recipes.

big fresh logo

Hummus bi Tahini using chickpea flour

hummus made with chick pea flour

Hummus made with chickpea flour #goodfoodeveryday as seen on TV

‘from Turkey to Israel, this Middle Eastern dip originates from Egypt and has become the most popular dip in the world today.  

So many versions around but I always follow the Lebanese recipe from my childhood.  The difference in my recipe today is that instead of using chickpeas I use gram flour [chickpea flour or besan] which gives a creamier texture and is so economical and easy to make’

You will need:

  • 1 cup gram flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • a pinch of paprika and another pinch for garnish
  • 50ml yoghurt
  • salt and pepper

Add the water to the sifted chickpea flour and use a hand whisk to mix.  Place in a saucepan over very low heat and keep whisking so that you have a smooth texture with no lumps.  Keep adding water if necessary.  There is no magic formula for this recipe and I found that absorption of liquids depends on the freshness of the flour and the humidity in the environment.  Keep stirring and bring it to a boil.  It will thicken but you do not want a very stiff texture.  Add more water and stir.

Remove from heat and completely cool down.  It will set to a jelly-like texture.

Once completely cool, and you can store this in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week, place the mixture in a food processor or use a hand held blender.  Add all the remaining ingredient.  Blend until you get a very smooth puree and if necessary add more water.  There is no need to add more oil or more tahini.  The texture should be thick and creamy.

Transfer to a container and refrigerate for an hour.  Add a few drops of olive oil just before serving with pitta bread, water biscuits and vegetable crudites.

‘It is also delicious with grilled meats.’

Lea’s Good Food Everyday airs on Smash TV everyday and you can follow on facebook

Trade EnquiriesGood Earth

Vegan curry with coconut milk

black eyed bean coconut curry

Black eyed bean curry finished off with coconut milk and roasted veggie balls  Photography: Illumina Media Services

‘I like using when possible dried beans.  The flavor and texture of cooked dried legumes is far superior to canned ones and you can control the amount of added salt.  This coconut flavored curry makes an ideal weekday winter meal’

You will need:

  • 200g black eyed beans, soaked and cooked
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • a pinch of chili flakes
  • 2 tablespoons cold pressed coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon mild curry powder
  • 3 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 500ml water
  • 2 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves
  • juice of one lemon
  • 150ml

Melt the coconut oil on very low gentle heat and add all the spices and stir continuously for a few minutes so that they flavours are released. The mustard seeds will start to pop and then add the onion, garlic and fresh ginger. Stir and add the black eyed beans. Add the water, bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes again on very low heat. Add the lemon juice and the coconut milk. Heat through and leave to rest covered for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and some more coconut milk.

We served ours with some roasted veggie balls and perfect basmati rice.

perfect coconut basmati

Perfect Coconut Basmati, as seen on TV.  Photography: Illumina Media Services

Vegan Baci, italian hazelnut kisses x

As seen on tv gluten free Baci with reduced sugar and reduced fat

As seen on tv gluten free home made italian chocolate kisses x Baci x with reduced sugar and reduced fat

Nearly every celebration finishes with Baci here, either the delicious ready bought ones all the way from Perugia or home made ones made with condensed milk.  This recipe still produces Baci with a marvelous taste but they contain no added sugar, no fats, no lactose or dairy products and they are vegan ‘

You will need:

2 packets gluten free plain biscuits
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
100g crushed hazelnuts
2 tablespoons ground hazelnuts
3 tablespoons agave
4 tablespoons coconut
2 tablespoons brandy/rum OR Aronia liquid concentrate
100ml coconut milk
200g chocolate with no added sugar [Valor]
50g whole hazelnuts

baci 2

Hazelnut italian kisses are a must at Christmas x Baci x As seen on TV
Photo: Roger Azzopardi

Crush the biscuits very finely.
In a bowl mix together the biscuits, cocoa powder, crushed hazelnuts, coconut, honey, rum and skimmed milk. Mix well.
Bind the mixture into very small balls. On top of every ball put a hazelnut.
Leave to set for 4 hours or overnight in the fridge before you cover using the melting chocolate.  Leave to set overnight in the fridge before serving.

The baci you see in the photos are from our live tv show which runs for 2 1/2 hours every afternoon.  Nothing is staged and all the food is prepared from scratch, everything you see is made in real time with the participation of a live audience.    If you make these baci allowing the time required for the filling and then the chocolate to set, your hand chocolates will be even more beautiful 🙂

St Martin’s Loaf

Our larger than usual version of St Martin's loaf TVM2 Lifestyle & Co Lea's styling by Rodianne Borg, Lea's clothes by Punt Roma, Hair by Inglot

Our larger than usual version of St Martin’s loaf
TVM2 Lifestyle & Co
Lea’s styling by Rodianne Borg, Lea’s clothes by Punt Roma, Hair by Inglot
Photography Stefan Stafrace

This coming Sunday the feast of St Martin is celebrated and sweet yeast loaves together with nuts, clementines, figs and more are given to children in bags brimming at the seams to signify the abundance and bounty of this glorious land.

St Martin's extra large loaf as seen on TV #Malta

St Martin’s extra large loaf as seen on TV #Malta

Rather than the small loaves, we made one big one and Brian decorated it with liqorish sweets.

You will need:

400g plain flour
a pinch of salt
1 sachet dry yeast (11g)
50ml olive oil
35g sugar
35g stevia
half a pod vanilla
250ml lukewarm milk
a sprinkle of sesame seeds for the top pre-baking
1 tablespooon warm honey to glaze after baking
a handful of multi-colored liqorish sweets

Sift the flour and add the salt. Add the olive oil, dry yeast, sugar, stevia, vanilla and mix. Then add the luke warm milk and combine using a wooden spoon to make a sticky dough. Cover and leave to rise for 2 hours or leave overnight and you will find you will not need to knead the dough at all.

Then turn the dough out on to clean work surface (you shouldn’t need any flour) and punch out the air.

Now divide the mixture into the number of loaves that you would like. We made one large one instead of small ones.

Take each piece of dough and shape it into a round then roll it to form a smoothish round ball.

Arrange the loaf or loaves on a greased baking sheet. Leave to rise once more for an hour. The loaf should double in size again.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 20 minutes.
You can glaze the surface with some warm honey by using a brush.
When the loaf cools slightly, place the liquorish sweets neatly on the surface by poking them into the surface of the loaf.

You can watch us on demand via streaming online from anywhere in the world !

You can watch us on demand via streaming online from anywhere in the world !#TVM2

Rock Cakes with no butter and no sugar

rock cakes goodfoodeveryday july

Rock cakes as seen on tv, photo taken by George during a live show

Reducing butter is one of the principals of the Mediterranean Diet. Rock Cakes were the first home economics lesson for most of us. Their simplicity makes them a bake that anyone can make very easily. There is nothing better than home made; fresh, quick and delicious.

For my rock cakes with no butter and no sugar you will need:

350g self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Stevia, the equivalent of 100g in sugar of stevia
3 tablespoons honey for mixture plus one spoon for glazing the surface after baking
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
200g ricotta
150g mixed fruit of your choice (on tv I used glace cherries and pistachios for a change)
3 eggs

Enough water to achieve a dropping consistency

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Rub the ricotta into the sifted flour, bicarbonate and baking powder as you would with butter. Add a pinch of salt.
Add the spices and stevia.
Mix the honey with the eggs and fold it into the flour mixture. Add a few spoons of water if needed to achieve dropping consistency.
Use a baking spray lightly on a baking dish. Use 2 forks to form irregular heaps on the baking sheet.

Bake near the centre of the oven for 18 minutes or until golden. Before they cool coat the surface with some warmed up honey using a baking brush.

rock cakes goodfoodeveryday july 2

Quick rock cakes as seen on tv, photos taken during a live show by George Aquilina

I use flour and glace cherries by St Georges Brand, nutmeg and spices by Schwartz, baking spray by Pam, eggs by Big Fresh Mosta, stevia by Tate and Lyle, disposable kitchenware by AMC, ricotta by Zappala, kitchenware by Tescoma, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda by Doves Farm at Good Earth