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

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.

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 digestion process to release enzymes which assist to digest our food. Drinking smoothies does not set off the chain of digestion.

To make a smoothie bowl with the right consistency, it is necessary to add frozen fruit and reduce the liquid content. Freeze ripe fruit in zip lock bags and store in the freezer to use in smoothie bowls. Select fruit that is ripe to add natural sweetness. You can also freeze a plant-based milk in an ice cube tray and blend the frozen milk cubes with your other ingredients.

Choose a deep bowl and chill it overnight. Enhance the colours by adding purple carrots and beetroot for a purple smoothie bowl and kale and baby spinach to make a more vibrant green result. Pureed pumpkin and butternut squash can be blended with mango and pineapple and garnished with a choice of colourful toppings that are nutrient dense such as nuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, shredded coconut, dried fruit, no-added sugar granola and toasted oats.

Prepare all the ingredients and topping before you start the blending process.

Black Forest Smoothie Bowl

Photos: CJ Baldacchino

You will need:
½ purple raw carrot
½ cooked beetroot
4 dates
2 kale leaves
¼ peeled apple
2 frozen bananas
2 cups mixed frozen cherries and cranberries
1 tsp agave
2 tbsp aronia concentrate
2 cups cashew milk
3 tbsp oats

For the topping: 100g fresh cherries, 50g dry roasted flaked almonds and 50g melted dark sugar free chocolate, baby chard.

Chill clean smoothie bowls in the fridge overnight. Add all the ingredients to the blender and combine until it is a smooth consistency. While you are doing this melt the dark chocolate in a bain marie.

Pour into a bowl. Arrange the fresh cherries on top of the smoothie mix. Add some dry roasted flaked almonds.

Pour melted chocolate on the surface of the smoothie mix. It will solidify to form a delicious chocolate topping. Garnish with baby chard.

This is a gluten-free, lactose-free, vegan recipe.

Kiwi and Kale Smoothie Bowl

You will need:
1 ripe frozen banana
½ avocado
3 kale leaves
3 ripe kiwi fruits
½ cucumber, peeled
½ tsp spirulina
½ tsp chia seed
1 tbsp oats
½ cup frozen cashew milk

For the topping: 1 dragon fruit cut into star shapes, a mix of raspberries and blackberries, ½ tbsp chia seeds.

Place two bowls in the fridge overnight. Peel the fruit and vegetables. Roughly chop them together with the frozen banana. Add all the other ingredients. Blend on high speed until the mixture is smooth and consistent.

Pour the thick puree into chilled bowls and garnish with a mix of berries. Peel a dragon fruit and slice it. Use a cutter to cut out star shapes. Sprinkle some more chia seeds and serve immediately.

This  is a gluten-free, lactose-free, vegan recipe.

Passion and Pomegranate Smoothie Bowl

You will need:
1 ripe frozen banana
½ cup cooked pumpkin
1 cooked carrot
50g cooked sweet potato
½ cup frozen cashew milk
⅛ tsp fresh turmeric
¼ tsp maca powder
Vanilla
Pinch of cinnamon

For the topping: Seeds from one passion fruit, 3 tbsp pomegranate seeds, ¼ tsp linseed, 1 physalis.

Place two empty bowls in the fridge overnight. Peel the fruit and vegetables. Roughly chop the frozen banana and the vegetables and place together with the other ingredients in a high speed blender. Blend until the mixture is smooth and well combined. Remove the bowls from the freezer and pour the smoothie mixture into them. Top with passion fruit, pomegranate seeds, linseed and physalis and serve immediately.

This is a gluten-free, lactose-free, vegan recipe.

Chocolate Berry Smoothie Bowl

You will need:
½ cup oats
1 tbsp raw cacao powder
1 cup grated zucchini
1 cup frozen cashew milk
1 ripe frozen banana
1 tbsp agave or stevia
150g dark sugar-free chocolate
75g frozen cranberries

For the topping: 75g mixed blueberries, raspberries and strawberries, fresh mint leaves.

Place a smoothie bowl in the fridge overnight. Place the oats, raw cacao powder, cashew milk and grated zucchini in the blender with the frozen cashew milk, frozen banana and cranberries, agave and sugar-free dark chocolate. Blend on high speed until the mixture is smooth and consistent.

Serve in individual bowls and top with strawberries, blueberries and raspberries.

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

Photography by CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

Trade Enquiries:

Seeds and nuts by Good Earth Distributors

Fruit and vegetables come from Big Fresh in Mosta, Oscar’s Fruit and Vegetables in Paola and Barbuto for Organic.  

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