Friday, 20 June 2014

Raw Goodness and a Tropical Smoothie

Tropical Chocolate Smoothie
Whilst not quite at the forefront of raw food consumption, it does make up a part of my diet and I don't just mean salad leaves. I've been a fan of raw chocolate since long before I started this blog; the concept of raw chocolate and other sweet treats that are actively good for you is one I find most appealing. Unlike cheap chocolate bars, I find these satisfy quite quickly and I'm unable to gorge myself on them.

The UK has a long tradition of coconut use, one of the advantages of a global empire I suppose. However our usage has been somewhat limited to desiccated coconut and whole coconuts, usually found as a target in fairgrounds and often past their best. In recent years the products have become much more diverse and coconut has now gained the status of a superfood. I've always been a fan and use coconut in a number of ways. However, when I was sent a bundle of coconut products from Cocofina to try out, the coconut oil was the only item I was familiar with.

Cocofina

Cocofina, meaning fine coconuts, was conceived with the idea of selling a healthful drink that was naturally sweet and would need no added artificial colours or preservatives. Starting off in 2005 selling 100% pure coconut water, the company has now branched out into other coconut products. There are over 100 varieties of coconut and they have many uses. Harvested young they are best for water and the mature ones are best for oil. I was pleased to see that all Cocofina products are organic and certified by the Soil Association. The company also supports Action Against Hunger, vowing to raise at least £5,000 a year.

Once again, I roped CT in to help out with some of the tasting. As coconut is one of his favourite foods, he was not averse. After tasting all of the products, I set to and baked this coconut chickpea chocolate cake using the nectar and oil.

Coconut Water - 100% filtered coconut water from green coconuts.
A multi award winning drink, this claims to refresh, reenergise and rehydrate; it is full of vitamins and minerals and is naturally isotonic. I was expecting it to taste like the water you get when cracking open a mature coconut, but it was noticeably different. It was sweeter with a slightly smokey taste, pleasant but not quite as nice. I was really rather excited to find you can buy coconut water, as a natural alternative to dairy is hard to find. This came in a 500ml plastic bottle. I know plastic is the modern way, but I would prefer to see a healthy drink put into a glass one. After sipping it to see what I thought, I decided it would make a great base for a tropical breakfast smoothie. It did. See recipe below.

Coconut Nectar
It has the look and feel of runny honey, but the scent and taste of light molasses. We both really liked it and had to restrain ourselves from spooning it directly from the jar into our mouths. It made a really tasty chocolate glaze which I used for the coconut chickpea cake and a subsequent vegan cake I've made. The nectar has a low GI so is a healthier option than sugar and would also make a great vegan substitute for honey. I was pleased that this product did come in a glass jar. It contained 350ml.

Coconut Oil
I'm a big fan of coconut oil and have written a fair bit about it on this blog already. It is a particularly healthy oil and is good spread on toast, used in baking and for frying as it has a high smoking point. This one is cold pressed extra virgin and organic. It smells and tastes deliciously of coconut. Like the nectar, it came in a 350ml glass jar.

Coconut Snack Bars
All of the bars weigh 40g and are organic, dairy free, wheat free and have no added sugar.

Organic Coconut & Cocoa Bar - raisins (containing sunflower oil), dates, coconut, cocoa nibs, cocoa powder.
Described as a pre-workout snack, this is toothsome bar that in my book could be eaten at any time. Coconut and chocolate is one of those combinations that just work: the flavour here is well balanced with the coconut being dominant and the cocoa enriching the flavour and reducing the sweetness. Both chewy and crunchy from the coconut and cocoa nibs, the texture encourages you to savour at length. Hello Cocofina, goodbye Bounty, quipped CT.

Organic Coconut & Date Bar - raisins (containing sunflower oil), coconut, dates, oats.
It's nice and coconutty with shards of dried coconut which make it particularly chewy; in CT's own words "it's fun to carry on chewing and squeeze out every last bit of flavour". It is quite sweet with an almost honey like taste and very enjoyable. CT suggested that a Levantine merchant would stock up on these in preparation for a long camel train trip.

Cocofina Macaroon Bar
I'm guessing this is a recent addition to the range as the wrapper is plain and has no information on it other than the name and best before date. Firmer in texture than the other bars, it tastes of coconut and honey. It's quite sweet, but due to its firm and chewy texture, it gives the jaws a good work out.  It reminds me of the sweets I used to eat and enjoy in Egypt. Sweet is the operative word; it feels more like an item of confectionary than an energy bar, but is nonetheless delicious.

Brownies by Rawness

Based in Richmond, Rawness is a company that started making 100% raw desserts for local consumption. Take a look at their website if you need to be convinced as to the allure of raw cakes and chocolates. They have recently introduced a range of brownies that are more robust and can be sent by post and thus distributed more widely. Despite the name, these didn't really resemble classic brownies which, in my opinion,  should be soft, fudgy and uba-sweet with a crusty top. These were in two layers and whilst the top was indeed fudgy, the bottom was decidedly chewy. Forget the name though and you have one very tasty and satisfying piece of confection which I defy anyone not to enjoy.

As I read the list of ingredients, I got more and more excited; they sounded both exotic and luxurious. I was intrigued by the Medicine Flower mentioned, so went off to investigate. It turns out they are an American company offering a range of concentrated extracts using a cold pressed extraction method. They have some very unusual flavours and are certified organic. The brownies, though small, are quite substantial and weigh 55g each. Sitting in their little wooden trays and encased by protective plastic, they would make ideal picnic fare. I was sent three flavours to try. CT helped me out in the task. We found sharing three between us was more than enough to satisfy us after a long session of gardening.

Hazelnut Caramel Brownie - hazelnuts, hazelnut butter, dates, Peruvian cacao powder, Peruvian cacao butter, heather honey, lucuma powder, extra virgin olive oil, vanilla, Himalayan crystal salt.
Whilst hazelnut is dominant and caramel notes are obvious, other complex flavours weave their way around the palate. We were hard pressed to describe them, but how about this: slightly floral, heathery taste and an elusive whisky tang.

Cherry & Walnut Brownie - walnuts, almonds, walnut butter, dates, Peruvian cacao powder, Peruvian cacao butter, honey, sour cherries, sour cherry powder, lucuma powder, extra virgin olive oil, vanilla, Medicine Flower Cherry Extract, Himalayan crystal salt.
Crikey those cherries are sour. Eat this if you are flagging in front of your computer and you'll soon be woken up. We really liked the contrast between the sweet chocolate, crunchy walnuts and tart cherries. This is less complex in flavour than the previous one, but unusually for a brownie it is quite refreshing.

Banana Pecan Brownie - pecans, almonds, pecan butter, dates, Peruvian cacao powder, Peruvian cacao butter, honey, banana pieces, banana powder, lucuma powder, extra virgin olive oil, vanilla, Medicine Flower Banana Extract, Himalayan crystal salt.
Decorated with a piece of dried banana and a pecan nut, there is no doubt what this brownie contains. The banana is very much the dominant flavour here, but it somehow tastes fresh and quite pleasant. And that is the opinion of two banana sceptics. Like the others, the nuts provide plenty of crunch which encourages you to keep right on chewing.

The brownies can be bought direct from Rawness, but I don't think their site has been updated to reflect this yet.

Creative Nature

Heavenly Cacao with cacao & red berries - sultanas, dates, cranberries, goji berries, oats, vegetable glycerine, cacao powder, cacao nibs, cacao butter, maca powder.
Described as a cold pressed cacao and goji berry flapjack, this is a 38g bar which is packed full of goodness. The cacao is cold pressed making it additionally nutritious. The texture is complex and interesting with crunchy cocoa nibs, oats and chewy dried fruit which makes it virtually impossible to wolf down. It is rich in cocoa and quite filling, but also has a slight tartness which I found particularly refreshing. Not only did it taste nice, but with added goji berries and maca powder I was sure it could only be doing me a power of good. This is just the sort of pick-me-up bar I love to have with me when out walking the Cornish moors and coast paths. The only thing missing for me was the fact it was not organically certified.

Indigo Herbs of Glastonbury

I've recently been sent a raw chocolate kit with a host of other organic goodies from Indigo Herbs of Glastonbury, so my exploration of raw foods will continue for a while longer yet. So far I have used the organic mango and banana they provided to make the smoothie recipe below and some coconut flakes to decorate the coconut cake I made last week.

print recipe
Tropical Chocolate Smoothie
Tropical Smoothie
A sumptuous and refreshing non-dairy smoothie with coconut, bananas mango and raw cocoa powder.
Ingredients
  • 500ml coconut water
  • 1 banana
  • 1 mango
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 scant tsp maca powder
  • 1 heaped tsp raw cocoa powder
Instructions
1. Cut the mango in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Peel the banana.2. Place all ingredients into a liquidiser and process for a few seconds.3. Pour into glasses and serve.
Details
Total time: Yield: 4 x 220ml glasses

30 comments:

  1. I like coconut water. I find it to be a perfect drink for a long walking session or after training.

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    1. This was the first time I'd tried it Agata, but will be looking out for it from now on in.

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  2. I like coconut water, used it in a low fat thai chicken curry recently. The recipe for the smoothie sounds yum.

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    1. It seems everyone is ahead of the coconut water game Melissa but me ;-)

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  3. I am a huge lover of coconut and those cocofina products look rather nice.

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    1. They were rather nice Bintu, but the coconut water and nectar were firsts for me.

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  4. Fabulous products by cocofina, I come from the western coast of India and coconut heavily features in our daily cooking , I can't imagine a fish curry without fresh coconut, and these are all organic too ! ummm

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    1. Gosh what a lovely thought Manjirik - fresh coconuts every day :D

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  5. i'm not a huge fan of coconut water, I always want it to taste more tropical so i'd probably love your smoothies!

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    1. This smoothie most definitely tastes tropical Dom.

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  6. I am totally drooling over this post Choclette. I do love coconut and that smoothie looks amazing. I've yet to try Chia seeds, but I know they are supposed to be s good for you.

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    1. Thanks Jac. Chia seeds are so easy to use and can be added to cakes, cereals, smoothies and any number of other things.

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  7. Smoothies have had such a bad press lately and that is one more reason for my enjoying your post; when constructed with care and consideration, they not only taste fab but offer so much in the way of health. scrumptious post x

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    1. Have smoothies had a bad press recently Deena - I am out of it. In what way? I've only ever had the ones I make myself which, so far, have all been healthy and delicious.

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  8. Nom Nom, brownies and incorporating such healthy ingredients, great post keep up the good work

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    1. Thank you Linzi, the brownies were particularly good.

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  9. Banana pecan brownie looks and sounds divine. I wish I could get them in my grocery shop at Ocado! Or perhaps someplace in London where I don't have to get them shipped so I could try one x

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    1. You could always go to Richmond to get them direct Gina - a good excuse for a nice trip out.

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  10. I'm always on the look out for more snack bars - like to have one or two in my bag for emergencies! :)

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    1. Yes indeed Rachel, good to have emergencies covered :)

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  11. The brownie bars look great - in particular the cherry ones. And I love the cute wooden packaging. Also wouldn't mind those Heavenly Cacao bars in my lunch box- mmmmm!

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    1. The brownies are truly a fabulous product. Like you, I'm rather partial to a few sour cherries mixed in.

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  12. Oh wow! So much goodness in this post, it's hard to know where to begin! I looooove the sons of that

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  13. Sound of that* coconut nectar and your chickpea cake is just genius! I egot my eyes on that brownie, too!

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    1. Thanks Anyonita - thought the chickpea cake might be up your street ;-)

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  14. Those Rawness brownies sound amazing. I wholeheartedly approve of their ingredients lists too - so unusual to find pre-packaged goodies these days that are made from all natural ingredients. I'll definitely be seeking these out! :-)

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    1. Thanks Vohn - all natural ingredients and all raw and healthy ones too. Can't go wrong with that :)

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  15. So many amazing products here! I'm completely into coconut oil now. Once you've fried an egg in it you'll never want regular oil or butter again. I definitely want to try maca powder and raw cacao. Your smoothie looks great!

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    1. Coconut oil is wonderful Kate. I often have it on my morning toast with my homemade chilli sauce - it's a good wake up.

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  16. My mouth started watering when you got to the review the Hazelnut Caramel Brownie, looks and sounds amazing!

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