Speculaas Spread (gluten, dairy + refined sugar free)

Speculaas Spread_blog

This delicious and decadent tasting spread recreates the taste of Speculaas cookies, a Dutch spice cookie I loved as a child. Spread it over bread, healthier pancakes, vegetable or fruit pieces for a taste of Christmas without all the sugar!

Start by making the Speculaas Spice Blend and keep leftovers in a jar to add to preparations like smoothies, yoghurt, muesli etc.

Speculaas Spice Blend

4 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp white pepper

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp cardamom

Once your spice blend is ready, combine the below ingredients until the mixture is smooth.

Speculaas Spread

4 tbsp almond butter (made only of ground almonds)

1 tbsp honey (or to taste)

2 tsp Speculaas Spice Blend (recipe above)

Store in a sealed container at room temperature.

Want more recipes like this?

Download my Healthy Sweet Christmas eBook with recipes for cookies, granola, chocolate and spreads that are all gluten, dairy and refined sugar-free.
cover 2014


Make Your Own Pumpkin Spice Mix

One of the things I love most about autumn is the taste of spices associated with pumpkins or Pumpkin Spice Mix. I think that is also what makes Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte so popular (that and all the sugar).

To recreate this taste of autumn easily, you can make a Pumpkin Spice mix by combining all the spices, then using the mix on anything from smoothies to coffee to porridge to overnight oats to cookies or cakes. You can even use it with roasted vegetables or pumpkin soup.

Pumpkin Spice Mix

2 tablespoon ground cinnamon

4 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon allspice (optional)

Combine all of the spices in a bowl, mix, then store in a jar for up to a year.

You can find more pumpkin recipes that use this spice mix on my Pinterest board, Pumpkin Love Affair.

Have you tried making your own spice mix?

pumpkin spice mix

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Red Pesto

Sweet potato gnocchi with red pesto

Un bon livre, Marcus, est un livre que l’on regret d’avoir terminé / A good book, Marcus, is a book you are sorry to have finished.

– Joel Dicker in La vérité sur l’affaire Harry Quebert

I love reading and in a novel I read recently, The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani, one of the characters, an Italian immigrant to New York, makes gnocchi. This potato and flour dish is loaded with nostalgia for her, bringing her back to her childhood village in the Italian Alps. It made me want to give her a hug…and also to taste the gnocchi she was making.

So I decided I needed to create a healthier version of gnocchi. Traditionally, gnocchi is made with white potatoes, white flour and eggs, then rolled into a dough and boiled in water for about a minute.

Instead of using normal potatoes, I wanted to use sweet potatoes as they are significantly higher in vitamin C and beta-carotene which is converted into vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is key for eye health and the immune system and just 1 medium-sized sweet potato covers more than 200% of your daily needs in vitamin A and 50% of your daily needs of vitamin C. (source). In order to improve the absorption of beta-carotene in the body (found mostly in orange fruits and vegetables like carrots and pumpkins/squash, melon) it is best to combine these foods with a source of fat. In this recipe, the pine nuts and olive oil from the pesto add healthy fats to the dish.

Start by cooking 2 medium sweet potatoes

Wash the sweet potatoes, then roast them in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for about 45 minutes or until you can poke them with a fork. Take out and leave to cool. You can make these up to 2 days in advance and simply wrap them in the baking sheet and put in the fridge. It is essential that the sweet potatoes be cold for this recipe.

Roasted sweet potatoes

Red Pesto (inspired by this recipe)

1 red bell pepper (red peppers are the ripest peppers – making them easier to digest + more nutrient dense than green or yellow peppers)

2 ripe tomatoes

3/4 cup pine nuts

12 dried tomatoes (buy them without oil)

2 garlic cloves

olive oil amount depends on desired consistency

salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste

Cut the red bell pepper and remove the seeds. Place it on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius.

Meanwhile, combine the rest of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until the mixture is smooth. Add the bell pepper and more olive oil or a little water if you prefer a more liquid consistency.

Set aside while you prepare the gnocchi. You can use any leftovers as a spread on bread, crackers or vegetables.


Sweet Potato Gnocchi (serves 4)

medium sweet potatoes, cooked and cooled (see above)

1 egg

About 200g of buckwheat flour, chestnut flour or other flour

A dash of salt, pepper and ground nutmeg

Peel and mash the sweet potatoes in a bowl, then add the egg, salt, pepper and ground nutmeg.

Sweet potato + egg mix

Add the flour and mix with your hands until a dough that isn’t too sticky is formed. You may need to add a little more flour.

Roll out your dough into a snake-like shape and cut it into small pieces with a knife. Do this for all your dough mix.

Cutting dough

gnocchi dough

Bring a pan of water to a boil and drop in a handful of gnocchi. Leave them for about 1 minute, until they float to the surface, then take them out with a slotted spoon and place them in a dish. Do not overcook the gnocchi or they become hard! Keep doing this until you have finished your gnocchi reserve.

Gnocchi boiling water

Once your gnocchi is cooked, combine it with the red pesto and serve on a bed of greens. I find that the sweet potatoes and buckwheat have quite an earthy, grounding energy and adding some greens like arugula adds a more uplifting, light energy to the meal. You can read more about the energetics of food here.

Sweet potato gnocchi with red pesto2

Confessions of an Ex-Sugar Addict + Healthy Nutella Recipe

Confessions of a sugar addictI used to be a sugar addict. I needed something sweet after almost every meal and often in the middle of the afternoon.When I was eating alone in the evening, I would have what I called a dessert meal: a big bowl of ice-cream, a pack of M&M’s or Nutella straight out of the jar instead of a real meal.

M&M’s were my favourites- as shown in this photomontage taken at the advertising agency I was working at back then. We had to pose with our favorite brand and sadly, this was mine!

The worst part is, I thought this was OK because I was ‘saving’ the calories from a normal dinner and replacing them with the sweet food of choice that evening.

When I discovered I had a genetic kidney disease and decided to change my diet, I went through phases where I completely banned sugar.

And I realised by doing this how addicted I was and how addictive sugar is.

But I couldn’t keep it up for more than a few weeks.

I realized that radically banning any form of sugar from my life wasn’t the answer for me.

It was about understanding and accepting my relationship to sugar in order to change it instead of trying to fight against it.

I realized how complex our relationship to sugar is because:

♥ Sugar is addictive – 8 times more addictive than cocaine according to Dr Mark Hyman…yet the sweet taste is an integral part of our diet and trying to deny this is like banging your head against a wall.

♥ Sugar cravings are often a sign that something is out of balance with what and how we are eating the rest of the day…yet they also have nothing to do with food and have a very strong emotional component as well.


Healthy Nutella

Healthy Nutella

This recipe is for anyone who loves Nutella and is looking to replace the store-bought kind with a much healthier version that uses only whole foods like hazelnuts and cacao powder and sweetened with a little maple syrup – an unrefined sweetener.

Hazelnuts are supposedly the main ingredient in the real Nutella but they actually account for only about 13% of the ingredients – the number 1 ingredient being sugar, followed by palm oil. I won’t go into how unhealthy store-bought Nutella is – suffice it to say that they have been sued for falsely advertising health claims when in fact, Nutella is more like a candy bar than a nutritious spread.

Meet Healthtella!

The main ingredient in Healthtella is hazelnuts. Hazelnuts are a good source of Vitamin E as well as iron, zinc, calcium and potassium. And because they are made up of 60 – 70% oil, when you whizz them in a food processor for just a minute or two, they quickly turn into a beautiful, creamy spread. To this, we add the cacao powder, melted cacao butter or coconut oil plus a little maple syrup – and voilà – you have Healthtella!


Heat your oven to 135 degrees Celsius.

Measure 1 cup or 200g hazelnuts and place on a tray in the oven for about 20 minutes or until they are evenly roasted.
Remove from the oven and rub the hazelnuts between your hands to remove any loose skin.

Once they are completely cool, place them in food processor and grind them until they are liquid. This should take about 1-2 minutes and you may need to stop and scrape down the sides a few times.

Once your hazelnut spread is ready, add the following:

25g melted cacao butter read more about cacao butter and where to buy it here OR melted extra virgin coconut oil

2-3 tbsp maple syrup + 3-4 tbsp water


4 tbsp coconut sugar

2-3 tbsp cacao

Mix everything until it is well combined and you have achieved the right taste and consistency. Store in the fridge but take it out a little before you eat it so it becomes less solid.

Healthy Nutella - collga

I would love to hear from you – what’s your relationship to sugar like? Are you a fan of Nutella?

Zucchini Crust Pizza + Raw Tomato Sauce

Zucchini Crust Pizza3It’s the season of zucchini and what better way to eat them than snuck into a pizza crust? Zucchini Crust Pizza is easier to make than traditional pizza, and it is also a great way of eating more vegetables while avoiding white flour. Oh, and did I mention it is absolutely delicious? Trust me, you won’t miss the ‘real’ thing!

Zucchini Crust Pizza is simply a crust of made of grated zucchini mixed with eggs. The pizza taste really comes from the toppings – you can add whatever you like.

Through sheer laziness, I recently experimented with a tomato sauce that doesn’t actually need to be cooked to taste amazing and I share the recipe for this below. Besides using it for this pizza, you can also combine this tomato sauce with zucchini noodles for a completely raw meal or with normal pasta which heats up the sauce and tastes wonderful.

I was inspired by these recipes to create my own recipe below- there are vegan options there if you want to avoid eggs.

How to Make the Zucchini Crust

Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius.

Grate 2 small, 1 1/2 medium or 1 really big zucchini in a bowl.

Place the zucchini in a clean dish towel, cheese cloth or nut milk bag and squeeze until all the liquid has come out. This is really important – otherwise your pizza will be soggy!

Add 2 small eggs or 1 large egg and mix.

Add about 1 tsp dried oregano and a pinch of salt.

Mix everything together and transfer to a pie dish. Press down the mixture with your hands so that it is well packed.

Place the crust in the oven for about 15 minutes or until it is golden brown and solid. Once it is ready, take it out of the oven and lower the heat to 200 degrees Celsius.

Zucchini Crust Pizza

Raw Tomato Sauce

While your crust is cooking, prepare the raw tomato sauce.

Place 4 medium tomatoes, roughly cut in a blender or food processor.

Add 2 cloves garlic, salt + pepper to taste.

Add 4 dried tomatoes for a more intense, umami taste.

Do not add any water or olive oil if you are making this for pizza so that it does not become too watery.

If you are making it for pasta, you can add a little olive oil and a small onion and 1/2 bell pepper as well as a little fresh basil. Add to the blended tomato mix and pulse once to combine so that there are still some chunky bits.


Use the tomato sauce above as a base and add whatever you want. Here I used Mozzarella di Bufola, a chopped red onion, red bell pepper and some fresh basil at the end.

Place all the toppings on the crust and put back in the oven for a few more minutes, until the cheese is melted and it looks ready.

This can keep for a few days in the fridge and is delicious served cold as well!

Zucchini Crust Pizza2

Grow Your Own Sprouts

How to grow sproutsSprouting is a fun and easy way to add more nutrients and taste to your meals. They are one of the most concentrated sources of vitamins, minerals, enzymes – true superfoods whose power you can liberate very easily in your kitchen!


Here are a few reasons to try sprouting:

♥ Easier for the body to absurd nutrients such as iron, zinc and various vitamins

♥ Easier on the digestion as sprouting means less work for the digestive system

♥ Protein content can be increased by up to 35%

♥ Alkalizing for the body, which balances the effect of more acidic foods such as meat, sugar and dairy.

And did I mention it is actually fun to see your regular lentils start sprouting on your kitchen counter in just a few days?

According to Dr Mercola, sprouts are:

A powerhouse of nutrition, sprouts can contain up to 30 times the nutrition of organic vegetables grown in your own garden, and allow your body to extract more vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fats from the foods you eat. During sprouting, minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, bind to protein, making them more bioavailable. Furthermore, both the quality of the protein and the fiber content of beans, nuts, seeds and grains improves when sprouted. The content of vitamins and essential fatty acids also increase dramatically during the sprouting process. (source)

Basically, sprouts are an easy an extremely cost-effective and easy superfood to add to your diet!


Buy a jar like the one below – you can order it here or find it in any organic store. I personally have the A. Vogel Biosnacky basic jar which I really like.  You could even try making your own with a normal jar and cover that lets water out while keeping the seeds inside. A stocking or cheese cloth and rubber band should do the trick.

Choose any organic seed, grain or legume you have at home except chia, arugula,  mustard or linseeds which have a gel-like consistency with water. Also avoiding sprouting soy and kidney beans which are said to be toxic.

You could try sprouting lentils, quinoa, chickpeas or sunflower seeds for example or buy seeds to germinate in organic stores like alfalfa or radish seeds.

Pour seeds in a jar until the bottom is just covered. It may look empty, but they will need room to grow!


1. SOAK seeds in water until they are completely covered and leave the jar upright for 4-12 hours. Bigger legumes like chickpeas will need to soak for longer than small seeds like quinoa.

Sprouting - soak

2. RINSE with water morning and evening, emptying the jar of water and propping it on the side between rinses.

Sprouting - step 2

3. WAIT 2-6 days until sprouts are ready – the white bit should be about 3 cm long. Once they are ready, empty the jar, rinse and wash the sprouts and store them in an air-tight container in the fridge for a few days.

Sprouting - step 3


Use them in sandwiches, as part of salads or to top any dish.

Some people claim that it is better to lightly cook sprouts from legumes and cereals – try them raw or add them to stir-frys to cook them lightly and see what works best for you!


Make sure you use clean jars and never eat sprouts that smell bad or look dodgy. Use your common sense!

I would love to hear from you – have you tried sprouting before? 

Crustless Spinach Feta Pie

Crustless Spinach Feta Pie3It’s picnic season! And in my world, that almost always includes this pie.

It used to have a crust – one of those store-bought white flour puff pastry type crusts when I first started making it as a student. It didn’t add much though by way of taste or nutrition so I thought I would make it healthier by removing the need for a crust. By adding in more eggs, the filling becomes solid enough to stand on its own two feet.

I always use frozen spinach in this recipe. Research shows that frozen spinach and other frozen vegetables (without anything added) are a convenient and healthy alternative to fresh vegetables as they are flash frozen just hours after being picked, ensuring the greatest amount of nutrient is retained.

The beauty of this recipe is that you can have all the ingredients handy and whip it together last minute. I always make sure I have frozen vegetables like spinach in the freezer and Feta is one of my staples as it lasts for months in the fridge. I also always have eggs, as they make the perfect healthy fast food (read more about how wonderful eggs are here) and often keep my garlic peeled in a jar in the fridge.

Quick, simple, tasty and with no extra grocery planning needed – what more to ask for from a recipe?


500g frozen spinach leaves (with nothing added)

2 medium-large eggs or 3 small eggs

2-3 cloves garlic (depending on their size and your love of garlic)

1 block Feta cheese, chopped into small pieces

Salt, pepper & ground nutmeg to taste


Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Take frozen spinach from the freezer and place in a pot with 2 tablespoons water. Cover pot and leave on medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the spinach is cooking, chop the Feta and peel the garlic.

Once the spinach is cooked, crack the eggs in a bowl and whisk to mix, adding the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add the mixture to the spinach and stir, then add the chopped Feta and pressed garlic and stir well again.

Transfer to a pie dish and press down the mixture with a spatula so that it is well packed. Try to include as little liquid as possible when you transfer the mixture to the pie dish.

Place in the oven for 30 minutes then take it out and leave to cool before serving.

Crustless Spinach Feta Pie1

Creamy Avocado Pesto (raw & vegan)

Avocado pesto

This is my go to pesto recipe – using avocado makes for a creamy, very satisfying pesto that goes well with zucchini pasta (read more about how to make them here) but could also be combined with a baked sweet potato, regular pasta or even as a topping to steamed vegetables.

This recipe is extremely versatile as you can use any green vegetables or herbs you have on hand or feel like using. It’s a great way to sneak them in without anyone really noticing!


1 large avocado

2 handfuls of green leafy vegetables or herbs – either spinach, kale, arugula or basil

4 tbsp raw pine nuts or cashew nuts + a little more as toppings

1 clove garlic

juice of 1 lemon

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

sea salt + pepper to taste

a dash of cayenne pepper or paprika flakes (optional)

Cherry tomatoes as topping


Place all the ingredients in a food processor or powerful blender. Blend until smooth then serve on top of zucchini noodles topped with chopped cherry tomatoes and a few pine nuts or cashew nuts.

Keeps in the fridge so you can always make more and eat it over several days.

Ground Nut & Seed Porridge

Ground nut & seed porridge.jpgI have written about breakfast before because I feel very passionately about this first meal of the day. I find that making sure I have a healthy breakfast sets me up for better eating patterns the rest of the day. Also, breakfast accounts for about 30% of the day’s nutrients – doesn’t that make it the ideal place to start making healthy change?

Most mornings of the week, I have a mostly vegetable smoothie which I keep exciting by playing around with the vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and taste I use. Some days I will have a more gingery smoothie, others a more chocolatey or chai-inspired one.

There are days when I feel like having something different to a smoothie though and this recipe is what I often have. I personally am not a fan of oats – I find I don’t digest them very well and they don’t keep me full, so I wanted an alternative to typical mueslis and porridges.

Here is my answer to a more traditional porridge – a ground nut and seed porridge that will keep you going until lunch time thanks to the healthy fats and protein you get from the nuts and seeds. Try it out and see if it works for you, too!

Ground Nut & Seed Porridge

The mix below is actually called LSA (Linseed, Sunflower and Almond) and was created by Australian doctor, Dr Sandra Cabot, also known as Liver Doctor. It is very simple to prepare and provides essential fatty acids Omega-3, 6 and 9 in the ‘right’ ratios, while also being rich vitamins and minerals. I also find the nutty taste really delicious when it is prepared as described below.

You can make a bigger quantity of the mix and keep it in the fridge for a few days, making it a breakfast that is ready to eat in just a few minutes!


3 tbsp linseeds

2 tbsp sunflower, pumpkin or sesame seeds

1 tbsp almonds or hazelnuts

A splash of milk of your choice – I use almond milk which I make myself. This video shows how you can make your own nut or seed milk in just a few minutes. You can warm the milk a little if you want.


Full-fat, natural yoghurt (without any added sugar)

Fresh or dried fruit


Grind seeds and nuts in a coffee grinder or spice mill.

Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the ground mix into a bowl and add a little natural yoghurt or milk – enough to create a thick paste.

Add spices of your choice such as cinnamon, vanilla or cardamon. Spices add a naturally sweet taste while also providing taste benefits – for example, cinnamon has been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels.

Top with raisins/other dried fruit or fresh fruit.

Couldn’t Be Easier Lemon Poppy Seed Cake (Gluten & Dairy Free)

lemon poppy seed cake 2.jpg

Baking a cake does not get any simpler, quicker or healthier than this.

All you need is a bowl, a scale and a whisk – no measuring cup or mixer needed.

And the result? Absolutely delicious. The tart taste of the lemon contrasts nicely with the subtle sweetness of the maple syrup and the crunch of the poppy seeds.

Poppy seeds seem to have fallen out of fashion recently, replaced by the more sexy and almost identical-looking chia seeds whose praise I sung here. Poppy seeds are super healthy as well, containing phosphorous, calcium, fiber, iron, potassium and zinc and are a good source of healthy fats. They are grown in Europe, making them more local to us here than chia seeds and they compliment baked goods like cakes or breads extremely well. They can also be added to salad dressings or sprinkled over porridge or muesli.

This is a great breakfast on the go cake and is also lovely with a cup of tea. It keeps well for several days and you can even freeze it.


100g maple syrup

40g olive oil

2 tbsp almond butter or other nut or seed butter

50g poppy seeds

3 small or medium eggs or 2 large ones

juice + zest of 1 large organic lemon

a pinch of sea salt

150g gluten-free flour of your choice – I used half buckwheat flour and half chestnut flour

2 tsp baking powder


Put a bowl on top of a scale and measure the ingredients one by one, starting from the top and whisking as you go along.

Pour the mixture in a baking loaf, greased if it is not silicone.

Bake in the middle of a preheated oven for about 25-35 minutes at 170 degrees. You will know it is ready when a knife comes out clean.

Take it out of the baking loaf and put it on a rack to cool down.

Inspired by this recipe.

Lemon poppy seed cake1.jpg

Lamb’s Lettuce & Egg Salad + Egg Love

Lamb's Lettuce & Egg Salad.jpg

If you have a few extra hard-boiled eggs lying around this Easter period, fear not – I have the perfect recipe for you!

This recipe is based on the Swiss-German Nüsslisalat and uses a type of leafy green called lamb’s lettuce or mâche (doucette or rampon in French). Lamb’s lettuce has its humble origins as a weed which was found growing among cereal crops in Europe. It became an important source of nutrients during winter as one of the few types of salads that grows during this period, and is traditionally eaten in early Spring as well. It is a good source of vitamin C, iron and beta-carotene and has a delicate, nutty taste that is quite distinctive.

This Easter salad is very high in good fats found in the walnuts, avocado and olive oil as well as protein from the eggs. Because healthy fats and protein are actually more filling than most carbohydrates (especially refined ones like white bread), you can eat this alone as a meal in itself without needing bread or anything else to make it more filling. I always find it ironic that people trying to be healthy have a really light salad without much protein or fat and then fill up on bread. Add healthy fats and protein instead and notice how filling a salad becomes! It is enough for two people as a main dish or 4 as a starter.

A word on eggs

Research is increasingly showing that even though eggs contain cholesterol, they do not increase cholesterol in the body. Eggs are actually one of the healthiest foods you can eat, containing high-quality protein, healthy fats, vitamins, A, D, E, K and B12, folate and iron.

The most important thing is to make sure you buy organic, free-range eggs – meaning that the hens lived outside and where fed a natural diet.


1-2 pressed garlic cloves

2 tsp Dijon mustard

6 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar

1-2 tablespoons honey

8 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste


200g lamb’s lettuce

4 hard-boiled eggs

1 avocado

Handful of walnuts

Make Your Own Chocolate!

Happy Easter!.jpg..jpg

If there’s one thing we all associate with Easter, it must be chocolate.

This Easter, why not try making your own? It is actually really simple to do – and a much healthier option to most chocolate you can buy, especially Easter bunnies.

Both cacao butter and coconut oil are great sources of healthy fats and I find they work very well together in this recipe. If you do not have cacao butter, you can also just use coconut oil, although the cacao butter is what gives this chocolate that irresistible, melts in your mouth taste.

Dark chocolate is increasingly being touted as a healthy options due to the high cacao content. When cacao is used raw, unsweetened and unprocessed, it has one of the highest antioxidant levels of any food and is also a good source of magnesium, iron, zinc and more. Cacao is can help prevent depression as it contains tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin, the happiness neurotransmitter, and it also has positive effects on cardiovascular health.

And of course, it is delicious, especially when you make it yourself. Since I started making my own chocolate, I no longer want to eat store-bought chocolate – this takes the taste experience to a new new level!


60g extra virgin coconut oil

25g cacao butter

2-3 tbsp honey, maple syrup or brown rice syrup

4-5 tbsp cacao powder (full fat)

a pinch of sea salt

Any taste you would like to add to your chocolate. I am hooked on mint essential oil at the moment but have also tried lemon zest, rose water and just plain chocolate – all with great results.


Melt the coconut oil and cacao butter in a double boiler until they melt.

Add the honey and stir until everything is incorporated.

Sift the cacao powder if it is lumpy into the mixture.

Add the salt and any extra taste you may be using and stir until the mixture is smooth.

Pour the mix into silicone molds or anything made of paper – you can use cupcake papers as well. If you have a silicone cake pan, you can also use that to create a chocolate bar.

Place the chocolate in the freezer for at least 10 minutes until it is set. The chocolates can then be removed from the forms and stored in the fridge or simply kept in the freezer.

If you have difficulty finding cacao butter, you can order it online from iherb – use code WIV403 to get $5-10 off your first order – they ship anywhere in the world.

If you are around the Geneva area, you can now find cacao butter in Biofrais.

I would love to hear from you – have you already tried making your own chocolate? Are you tempted to try?


Chocolate Breakfast Cookies

Chocolate Breakfast Cookies.jpg

Cookies for breakfast? Why not, as long as they are a good source of protein, healthy fats and sustainable energy. Not something that can be said of most cookies that come in a package! So here is a recipe for making your own breakfast cookies which take just 5 minutes, one bowl and no mixer or blender to prepare.

These Chocolate Breakfast Cookies are a great choice when you are on the go – on a business trip, needing to catch an early flight or just want a snack to take with you that nourishes both your body and soul.

Instead of the traditional flour, sugar and butter, these cookies use mashed white beans to add consistency and sweetness. You have to try them to believe they can actually taste this good! The combination of whole grain oats and white beans means they are a complete protein while the tahini, coconut oil and cacao add healthy fats. Both protein and healthy fats are essential to balance blood sugar levels, so you have stable energy all morning.

I used very little maple syrup in this recipe, but feel free to add a little more if you need a sweeter taste!


Makes about 16 medium cookies

1.5 cups whole grain oats

1.5 cups white beans (1 can rinsed)

2-3 tbsp pure maple syrup

2 big tbsp cacao or 4-5 tbsp sugar-free Ovomaltine

2 tbsp tahini

2 tbsp coconut oil, melted

a pinch of salt


Preheat the oven to 18o degrees Celsius.

Mash beans in a bowl until the consistency is smooth. Add the oats, salt, cacao, tahini and mix. You can use a food processor or just mix by hand.

Melt the coconut oil if solid on medium heat until it is liquid. Add to the bowl and mix everything with your hands until the batter is uniform.

Form cookies on a lined baking tray and put in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

Take them out and leave them to cool on a rack.

Chocolate Breakfast Cookies2

Black Magic Beans + Rice

Black magic beans & rice.jpg

I was inspired by the Red Blanket Sauce from one of my favorite food blogs, My New Roots to create a meal that is nothing short of magic. The star of the meal is a savory cacao and tomato-based sauce with a smooth, velvety texture to which I added black beans. In keeping with the color theme, I served it with black rice and pine nuts.

As I have already written here, combining plant proteins such as beans and rice is a great way of making sure you are getting enough protein. I topped the rice with roasted pine nuts to add a healthy fat and crunch to the dish. You could also try topping the dish with coconut flakes or diced avocado or even just some chopped coriander.

Both black beans and black rice are among the healthiest types of beans and rice since they are rich in phytonutrients called anthocyanins. This is what gives them the distinct dark color which can also be found in purple cabbage, blueberries or grapes. These powerful nutrients have a protective effect on the body, helping prevent disease as different as diabetes, allergic reactions, heart disease and cancer. Be careful when you are soaking and cooking them though as the color can stain kitchen counters…

You can use canned red beans and red or brown rice if you prefer – I suppose it would then be called Red Magic Beans + Rice?

Soak the beans and rice overnight to reduce cooking time and make them more digestible.


A bit of coconut oil or ghee

1  onion or scallion

3 cloves garlic

1 can tomatoes (unseasoned)

1 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp dried thyme or oregano

pinch of cayenne, if desired

4 regular dates or 2 Medjool dates

2 tbsp cacao powder

2-3 dried tomatoes

1 tbsp tahini

2-4 tbsp water

1½ tbsp lemon or lime juice


Heat the oil or ghee in a saucepan over medium heat.

Add the spices and stir until you can smell them.

Add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the minced garlic and cook for a few more minutes.

Add the canned tomatoes and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Adjust the seasoning if you need.

In a blender or food processor, combine the rest of the ingredients, then add the tomato sauce when it is ready. Add more water if needed and blend until the consistency is smooth.

Meanwhile, cook the beans and rice separately, according to the instructions on the pack. You can also use canned beans if you prefer.

Heat a little coconut oil, olive oil or ghee in a frying pan on medium heat and fry some pine nuts until they are golden.

Once the beans are cooked, mix in with the sauce.  Serve with the rice topped with pine nuts.


Upgrade Your Guilty Pleasures

Guilty Pleasures

Last week on the Healthwise Facebook page (like it if you don’t already – it’s where all the action is!) I asked what ‘guilty pleasure’ people would like to see upgraded.

Here are the 5 foods that got the most votes with a blog round-up of  links to recipes that are healthier upgrades to the original food.

As I have written before, I don’t believe in eating perfectly all the time – 80% is already perfection. This leaves space for ‘guilty pleasures’ in every diet – which can work even better if we ‘upgrade’ them in one or more of these ways so that we can have only ‘pleasures’ with food instead of ‘guilty pleasures':

1. Upgrade on quality: Buy the best quality of the food you can find and afford – the quality of the ingredients used makes a huge difference in how healthy something is.

2. Upgrade your attitude: Make it a moment that you really, fully enjoy. Savor every bite of your food and get rid of the notion of ‘guilty’ in pleasure. Make it just pure pleasure. When you are fully present for what you eat, you are satisfied with less.

3. Upgrade by making it yourself: When you make something yourself, you know exactly what goes into it and you can use healthier alternatives to common ingredients.


This recipe is vegan, bringing the creaminess from blended cashews. You have to try it to believe it – and you can leave out the spicy ingredient to make a regular mayo.

This recipe shows you how to make your own mayo the traditional way – a much healthier alternative to the mayo that comes in tubes.


This gluten and dairy-free recipe is a healthier alternative of the pancakes my father used to make for us on weekends and was one of the first recipes I upgraded when I started changing my diet.

Chocolate Cake

This recipe is for more of a fondant au chocolat style cake.

This recipe is more of a chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream.

This recipe is a chocolate orange cake with a sweet potato ganache – and it is all vegan.

Butter and eggs both play an essential role in our diet but make sure you buy good quality, preferably organic butter and eggs from animals who lived outside and ate their natural diet.

These recipes all use healthier sugar sources like honey, maple syrup, date syrup or coconut sugar.

Pasta with Warm Creamy Cheesy Sauce

This recipe is just incredible – it uses cauliflower to provide creaminess -but nobody would realize it wasn’t cream if you didn’t tell them. Tried and tested on guests!

Reeses Pieces Peanut Butter Cups

This recipe is a simple healthier alternative: The secret is to use dark chocolate (at least 70%) instead of milk chocolate and peanut butter without anything added – no oils, salt or sugar – and then add your own high quality salt.

What is your ‘guilty pleasure’?

  Take the guilty out of guilty pleasure!  Click to Tweet!

How often should you eat? 

How often should we eatHave you ever wondered how often you should eat? Should you eat 5 smaller meals, nibble consistently throughout the day or have 3 solid meals?

As is the case very often in nutrition, different experts have different opinions. This is probably due to bio-individuality: No one diet or way of eating works for everyone and the key is to experiment to find what works for YOU.

This is my opinon only, based on my own experience.

I used to graze constantly. 

I would have breakfast (usually cereal like Special K which I thought was healthy), then a snack like a banana or apple mid-morning, then lunch which I tried to keep ‘healthy‘ by having a very light salad, but filling up on bread. In the afternoon, I would start having sugar cravings and I would go for a Coke and whatever chocolate or cookies were lying around the office where I was working. Dinner was usually more bread with cheese (what I called a picnic dinner) or pasta or sometimes when I was alone and feeling indulgent I would have a ‘dessert meal’ – eating steamed brocolli followed by half a tub of ice-cream instead of a proper meal.

Not surprisingly, my digestion wasn’t great and I often had energy dips – which only led to eating more sugar.

When I began changing my diet, I started by adding in fats and protein to replace my carbohydrate rich meals. For example, at breakfast I would have oatmeal with nuts and seeds or a green smoothie with nuts and seeds (which provide both fats and protein) or eggs (again, a great source of both). I started noticing that my energy levels were more stable and I no longer needed my mid-morning banana when I asked myself whether I was really hungry. I then started making sure my lunches included a source of healthy fats and protein, even if I was having a salad or soup. I also started eating more filling lunches, often by bringing leftovers from dinner to work.

After a while, I noticed that I no longer needed to snack in the afternoon and I could wait for dinner to eat again. I also found that my digestion improved because I was giving it a proper break between meals to do its work more efficiently. And I lost a few kilos as well without going on a diet, but simply by eating more healthy, proper meals and snacking only when I was really, truly hungry between meals.

Why is that? A very simplified explanation is that after you eat, your body burns sugar from your meal as energy. Once it has burned the sugar, it starts burning fat, and this is when weight loss happens. If you think about it, even if you just eat a cucumber, your body gets busy digesting the cucumber instead of burning fat and if you are constantly grazing and eating late at night, you never really give it the break it needs to switch to fat-burning mode.

But hold on! Don’t switch to 3 meals immediately…

If you tend to have energy crashes, especially mid-morning and mid-afternoon when you start hearing the siren calls of sugar, stabilize your blood sugar levels first before trying to cut out grazing. In the beginning, aim for 5 smaller meals, with a snack mid-morning and mid-afternoon, and even before going to bed if you are hungry.

This isn’t permission to load up on unhealthy snacks though! Make sure you have meals and snacks that are high in healthy fats and protein which fill you up and keep your energy stable. Possible snacks that are high in healthy fats and protein can include nuts or seeds, a hard-boiled egg, a little meat, fish or chicken, a piece of cheese, fresh or dried fruit with nut butter, 1/2 an avocado, humus with raw veggies, a small pot of plain, organic yoghurt, dates with sunflower seeds or these date and nut balls.

It is also important to reduce the following as much as possible to avoid energy crashes: Caffeine, alcohol, sugar, refined starches such as white rice and white bread as well as processed foods, sodas and even fruit juice.

Once you find your energy levels start stablizing, eat a little more at meals and start asking yourself whether you are really hungry for a snack. You will find that if you eat proper meals, you won’t actually need to snack, or you will need to snack less.

Experiment with how you feel when you don‘t snack between meals.

Notice how it feels to eat your next meal when you are really hungry. 

Of course, it is not just what you eat or how often that counts – HOW you eat is just as important. Properly chewing your meals and being relaxed enables you to fully leverage your digestive fire and assimilate more of the nutrients from your meals. Also, when you slow down and take pleasure in your meals, your mind registers that it has eaten and you feel satisfied for longer after a meal.

What about you – how many times a day do you eat? Do you feel it works well for you?


Raw Spice Balls

Raw Spice Balls

When you are craving something sweet, dates are a great option. As a dried fruit, the sugar in dates is completely natural and also contains minerals and vitamins such as iron, potassium, calcium, manganese, copper and dietary fiber.

But did you know that dates are perfect for making healthier sweet treats? They add both sweetness and consistency and are very versatile. Make sure you have a good food processor (S-blade) to grind dates into a paste though as they can get stuck in blenders.

Always buy the best quality you can find, preferably the Medjool variety. They are bigger and softer than other dates and work very well as a paste.

These Raw Spice Balls are a great snack or dessert or for when you need a quick energy boost. They are extremely versatile, allowing you to use any spice or spice mix you want. They are also very simple to make, taking only a few minutes to blend and a few more to shape.


1 cup whole hazelnuts or almonds OR 2 cups ground hazelnuts or almonds

1 cup pitted Medjool dates

1-3 tsp spices (to taste): Cinnamon only, gingerbread spice mix, chai spice mix, cacao powder or any other spice you want

a dash of sea salt


Grind the hazelnuts or almonds in a food processor. You can also buy them already ground but I find doing it myself adds more flavor.

With the food processor running on medium, drop in the dates one by one through the feed tube.

Add the spices and sea salt and process until the consistency is uniform and crumbly. You should be able to easily form a ball between your hands. If this is not the case, add more dates

Roll into balls and store in the fridge until you serve/eat them.

For a more sophisticated twist, you can roll the balls in shredded coconut or toasted sesame seeds and serve them truffle style (as in the photo below).

Raw Spice Balls

Fruity Fermented Drink – Kvass

Fruity Fermented drink with text

I have always had a sensitive digestion and if there is one thing that I feel has made the most difference, it has been regularly consuming fermented foods and drinks. Before I started making my own fermented foods and drinks, I would take probiotics, which are also an option – but getting your good bacteria from food is more natural, much cheaper and more fun!

So why all this fuss about growing bacteria in my food and drink? Well, about 80% of our immune system is actually located in our gut, making it the best place to start improving general health, immunity and even psychological health.

In addition to this, good bacteria in the body are also needed for:

♥ Regular bowel movements and improving digestion
♥ Producing antioxidants,
♥ Improving skin conditions
♥ Reducing cholesterol
♥ Bone health
♥ Blood sugar levels
♥ Detoxifying the body

(sources here and here)

What’s fascinating about fermented foods is that most cultures have traditionally prepared foods in this way for conservation reasons. Traditional cultured or fermented foods include: Plain yogurt, miso, tempeh, sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, sour cream, chutneys, pickles, olives, cheese.

Unfortunately, when these foods are bought in most stores, they have usually been pasteurized or had a lot of sugar or salt added to them, leaving little probiotic benefit – unless they are raw or unpasteurized. So in order to really get the benefit of probiotic foods, the ideal solution is to make them yourself.

While I understand that not everyone has the courage to try making sauerkraut or kimchi or kombucha, I was really excited when I came across recipes for fermented fruit drinks because they are so simple. Plus, the end result actually tastes delicious and is a great replacement for less healthy drinks and something even children would like!

(Inspiration for recipe here and here)

What you need:

1 liter jar with lid (you can buy them from any department store or just use an old jar you have)

1 tablespoon raw or unheated honey – it should say this on the jar

Pure water – I use bottled water as the chlorine in tap water could kill off some of the beneficial bacteria

Mix of fruit and/or vegetables and spices like ginger, cinnamon sticks (optional) – you can use whatever you want, but try to make sure it is organic and in ripe – frozen berries work too.

Step by Step Method:

Put 1 tablespoon raw (unheated) honey in a 1 liter jar.

1. Honey

Chop any fruit only or fruit and vegetable combination you want and place in the jar so that it is about 1/3 full.

2.fruits only

Add spices if you want – cinnamon sticks, slices of ginger or cardamon pods work well.

3. spice

Pour pure water (I use bottled) in the jar, leaving some space at the top.

Tightly close the jar and leave it on your kitchen counter to ferment, about 2-4 days.

Shake the jar about 2x every day to prevent bacteria from forming on the surface.

4. jars straight after

You should start having bubbles after about 24 hours, and it will probably be ready in 2-3 days, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.

The fruit will start looked ‘cooked’ when it is ready.

Taste the brew every day until you find it has the right taste – slightly tangy and acidic, almost like natural yoghurt – then strain it of the fruit and throw them out.

5. glass and lid

Put the strained liquid in a bottle with a cap in the fridge.

Your Fruity Fermented Drink can keep for up to 1 week – you can serve it diluted with water or with some fresh lemon juice. Enjoy!

6. fridge

Lazy Lentil Stew (vegan & gluten-free)

Lazy Lentil Stew

Who said fast food had to be unhealthy?

This Lazy Lentil Stew is one of my go-to meals in winter when I don’t really feel like cooking (yes, it happens even to me) or I want to have leftovers for a few days.

It is basically just lentils, your choice of vegetables, tomato sauce and a mix of herbs such as rosemary, thyme and oregano. I also add in some more umami taste to enhance the flavor with some blended dried tomatoes  (you can buy them without the oil) as well as a dash of red wine vinegar just before serving. In many traditional lentil recipes you will see lemon or vinegar added at the end of the preparation because it really ‘lifts’ the flavor while making the lentils easier to digest. Also, make sure you never salt lentils until they are cooked.

I usually use green or brown lentils as they don’t become mushy, which I prefer for this stew. If you want to learn about the different types of lentils, watch this video. As mentioned previously, lentils are a great source of protein, fiber, folate, potassium and magnesium while being quite easy and quick to prepare since they don’t need soaking like beans.


(for 4 people)

1 tsp ghee or coconut oil

1 yellow onion

1 clove garlic, pressed

1 cup lentils – brown or green

2 cups water

About 2 cups vegetables – I used cauliflower, frozen peas and a parsnip but feel free to use whatever you have at hand, either fresh or frozen. If you are using green leafy vegetables, add them only at the end of cooking.

1 can tomatoes

4-5 dried tomatoes, blended or finely chopped

1/2 tsp unrefined salt

1 tbsp herbes de Provence or herbs of your choice


Rinse lentils under cold water.

Melt ghee or coconut oil in a pot under medium-high heat, then add the onions and pressed garlic. Stir for a few minutes, then add the drained lentils and 2 cups of water. Cover the pot.

Increase heat to high and bring to a boil then leave to simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes.

Add the vegetables and leave for another 5 minutes or until the vegetables are almost cooked.

Add the tomato sauce and dried tomatoes and simmer for a few more minutes.

Add salt, pepper and herbs to taste.

Just before serving, add a dash of red wine or apple cider vinegar. You can also top each bowl with some crumbled Feta cheese.

If you have leftovers, store them in the fridge and eat over several days – simply reheat the stew in a pan with a little water.

Dukkah: Magical Spice & Nut Mix

Dukkah ingredients
In spite of my Arab roots, I have to admit I discovered dukkah while traveling in Australia last October.

This Egyptian spice mix was served over eggs or salads, providing a taste I immediately fell in love with. It was nutty, spicy, fragrant with just a hint of the exotic all at the same time. I was sold.

As soon as I got back, I tried recreating it. As with any spice mix, there are several recipes so I experimented until I found one I liked fell in love with!

Adding a sprinkle of dukkah to food makes the taste more exciting for our tastebuds. This is important because when taste is interesting and satisfying, we tend to have less cravings.

In our household, dukkah has made an appearance with roasted or steamed vegetables, salads, eggs, and also just with bread dipped in olive oil, then in dukkah (the traditional way). You could also try encrusting fish or meat with dukkah instead of bread crumbs.

You can find all of the ingredients in normal supermarkets except the coriander seeds – I found them in Manor (Geneva) and I am sure you can also find it in ethnic stores (Indian or Middle Eastern). As you will notice in this recipe, toasting nuts, seeds and spices really makes their taste pop.


Inspired by this recipe – takes about 15 minutes to make 

1 cup unsalted nuts or a mix of nuts such as pistachio, hazelnuts or almonds

3/4 cup sesame seeds

1/4 cup coriander seeds

1/4 cup cumin seeds

1 teaspoon sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Start by toasting the nuts – put them on a tray in the oven at 190 degrees Celsius for about 5-10 minutes – keep an eye on them and stir constantly so they don’t burn. You can tell when they are ready from the wonderful smell, and they also become a little darker.

Take them out and leave them to cool completely.

Toast the sesame seeds in the same way – they should take only a few minutes. Once again, the smell and slightly toasted appearance will let you know when they are ready.

Take them out and leave them to cool completely.

Dry roast the coriander and cumin seeds in a pan over low to medium heat. Keep tossing them so they don’t burn. They should be ready in a few minutes – once again the smell will let you know!

Once all the ingredients have cooled, combine them in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is crumbly and as fine or coarse as you would like it to be. Be careful not to overdo the food processing as the Dukkah can easily turn into a paste!

Keep the mixture in a jar in the fridge – it should stay fresh for several weeks (although I don’t think it will last so long!).

Dukkah mix