Have you heard about chia seeds?

Have you managed to get your hands on any chia seed yet? The first time I tried some I could actually feel the grains expanding in my stomach!

There are numerous health claims about chia seeds (the latin name is Salvia Hispanica), most specifically that it is very high in Omega 3 and fibre, is a good source of complete protein, antioxidants and phytonutrients (they’re also gluten free).

Apparently, an ounce of chia seeds provides eight times more Omega 3 than an ounce of salmon! It has five times as much calcium as milk, twice as much potassium as bananas, three times the antioxidant strength of blueberries and three times more iron than spinach.

I think it was the high fibre effect I could feel volumising inside of me. Notably, chia seeds are believed to helpful in losing weight, because they help fill you up, reduce your appetite and help control your blood sugar levels.

The problem is that chia is only allowed to be used in foods as 5% of the finished product. This is because they are a relatively new food in Europe, having originated in South America where Aztecs would eat it before going on a long journey.

A bread mix with chia seed
A bread mix with chia seed

Chia Bia now sell the chia seed as part of an organic Whole Wheat Yeast Bread Mix and Soda Bread Mix. The Raw Chocolate Company also sell Chia Seeds unprocessed.

There’s a lot more research to be done into chia seeds, particularly their health benefits and whether they are safe to be consumed in large quantities, but they are very popular in the Americas.

There again, you could always grow your own…

A homemade raspberry ripple ice cream recipe – with no added sugar too!

Here’s a fab recipe for Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream made with yoghurt and no table sugar!

It’s sweetened with Sweet Freedom natural sweetener which has 25% fewer calories than sugar. The low GL means there’s no sugary highs and lows as with sugar or honey and this makes it a good choice for diabetics.

Raspberry Ripple made with Sweet Freedom natural sweetener
Raspberry Ripple made with Sweet Freedom natural sweetener

(Makes approx 850g)

Ingredients
300ml Milk
1 Vanilla Pod
4 Medium Free Range Egg Yolks
100g Sweet Freedom Natural Sweetener
300ml Natural Yoghurt
  also
150g Raspberries
50g Sweet Freedom Natural Sweetener

Method
1. Pour the milk into a pan, split the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape the seeds into the milk.  Add the pods and heat the milk until it is hot but not boiling.  Take off the heat and leave to infuse for 30 minutes.
2. Whisk together the Sweet Freedom and egg yolks.  Bring the milk up to the boil and pour onto the egg yolks, whisking continuously.  Return to the pan and cook, stirring continuously, until the custard thickens slightly.  Don’t allow the custard to boil as it will curdle.  Sieve into a clean jug and stir in the yoghurt.  Cover the surface with baking parchment and leave to cool then chill until required, preferably overnight.
3. Blend together the raspberries and Sweet Freedom then sieve to remove the seeds.
4. Pour the chilled custard into an ice cream maker and churn until it is thick and creamy.  Spoon a layer of the ice cream into a freeze proof container then drizzle with some raspberry puree.  Repeat with the remaining ice cream and raspberry puree then freeze until required.
5. Don’t forget to transfer the ice cream to the fridge a little while before serving to allow it to soften slightly.

SWEET FREEDOM INFORMATION
The recipe is sweetened only with Sweet Freedom, the Great Taste award winning sweet syrup made 100% from fruit. As well as being a delicious ‘foodie’ syrup that boasts customers such as Raymond Blanc it also has 25% fewer calories than sugar and the low GL means no sugary highs and lows as with sugar or honey. For this reason it’s also a good choice for diabetics.

For more healthier sweet treat recipes visit www.sweetfreedom.co.uk. Recipe courtesy of Suzie Banks www.aestheticsandgastronomy.co.uk.

Nairn’s use the purest oats possible for their Gluten-Free Instant Porridge

What better guarantee can you get of gluten free oats than farmers who walk the fields to remove any foreign grains which might contaminate the produce?

As coeliac farmers themselves, the family that supplies Nairn’s oats understand how vital pure oats are. They clean down the machinery and test every truckload of oats coming in or out of their farm.

100% wholegrain oats are great for a healthy start, they are high in fibre and full of sustained energy, to keep you going for longer.

And, now that Nairn’s have made them instant, it’s an immediate start as well. The easy-cook sachets are ready in a few short minutes, which leaves you ready to face the day.

You eat 75% of your chewing gum. What’s in it?

Did you know that when you finish with your chewing gum it is one 1/4 of the size you started with?

That means you eat 75% of it… but what are you eating?

The same stuff that gets made into the tyres on your car: synthetic polymers. A lot of gum uses unnatural ingredients for its base.

Peppersmith doesn’t. This intriguing little company have taken gum back to before the dirty days of putting plastic in your food. Instead, they use chicle, a natural and sustainable rainforest gum, which all gum used to be made from.

A chewing gum with no artificial ingredients
A chewing gum with no artificial ingredients

They also use high quality Black Mitcham Peppermint grown in Hampshire, and wood sugar taken from beech trees. There’s no artificial flavours, colours, preservatives or anything, and especially not aspartame. (The gum is also vegetarian, gluten-free, and good for diabetics and it’s made in a nut-free environment.)

The result? The dentists like it because wood sugar (xylitol) actively fights plaque and the public love it because of the quality of the peppermint.

Plus, each box comes with these dainty little papers so that you can wrap your chewing gum up once you’ve finished with it, leaving you to conscientiously dispose of the other 25%.

Alternatives to milk

Possibly 75% of people around the world are lactose intolerant – which might go some way to explaining why there are so many alternatives to milk.

But there are numerous other reasons too, it might be simply be beneficial to health, or autism related, or asthma, or galactosaemia, or a sensitivity to casein or one of many other problems with drinking milk.

Whatever your reason it’s important to make sure you’re still getting the calcium, iodine and vitamins that you need.

Here are some of the alternatives…

Goat’s milk
Rich in nutrients and easier to digest (even though it still contains lactose). It has less casein but almost as much fat and calories as cow’s milk. However, it can cause a vitamin B12 deficiency in children.

Sheep’s milk
Sheep’s milk has twice as many minerals, eg. calcium, phosphorus and zinc and the vitamin B-complex, as cow’s milk. But it is also higher in calories and fat. Like goat’s milk, it is easily digested. And it’s also a good source of iodine, which helps if you suffer with thyroid problems.

Camel’s milk
Five times as much Vitamin C as cow’s milk. Helps with diabetes. Contains some lactose. Not easy to source.

Buffalo’s milk
Higher in calcium, protein and iron and contains more vitamins and minerals (including calcium and iron) and 43% less cholesterol than cow’s milk. But it also has twice as much fat and still contains lactose. Not easy to source.

Hemp milk
Half the amount of protein of cow’s milk, and calcium is often added. Rich in Omega 3, minerals and vitamins, hemp milk also has a creamy consistency. No lactose.

Quinoa milk
Quinoa is a very digestive food and nutritionally well balanced. It’s protein contains all essential amino acids and it is rich in unsaturated fatty acids. No lactose.

Spelt milk
A good source of fibre and B-complex vitamins. Cholesterol free. No lactose.

Oat milk
Rich in fibre, lowers cholesterol and low-GI. It’s actually the preferred energy drink of many athletes. A pleasant milky taste. No lactose.

Barley milk
Has a higher phosphorus and potassium content than regular milk. Helpful in repairing the body, though it doesn’t contain calcium. No lactose.

Kamut-wheat milk
Highly recommended for its milk-like taste. No lactose.

Millet milk
Lower in fat, higher in fibre and less calories than cow’s milk. Rich in protein and minerals. No lactose.

Rice milk
Compared to soya, rice milk is considered closer to cow’s milk in taste and texture. It is naturally sweet, low in fat and high in fibre. But it’s also low in calcium and protein. No lactose.

Soya milk
Soya milk is high in protein so it’s useful for cooking with. It is also comparatively cheaper than other milk alternatives due to its ubiquity. However, some avoid it because it can raise estrogen levels. No lactose.

Almond milk
Tastes great, and has some of the lowest calorie counts of all milk alternatives. No lactose.

Hazelnut milk
A thicker consistency. It also provides calcium and sulphur. No lactose.

Coconut milk
Lots of phosphorus, iron, magnesium and fibre makes coconut milk a superfood. It’s low in calories, boosts immunity and has a distinctive creamy taste.

Cashew nut milk
Delicious but not easy to find. Just as well it’s easy to make… Cashew’s are a good source of copper and magnesium.

Raw milk
The argument is that pasteurisation destroys some of the goodness in milk which would actually make it digestible for people with gut problems. It remains to be seen whether ‘green top milk’ is actually helpful for people with psoriasis and high blood pressure.

UV milk
Possibly the milk of the future: milk that is treated by UV instead of pasteurisation?

Lactose-Free milk
Or, of course, you could take the lactose out of the milk

You can also make milk from peas, peanuts, or seeds!

Competition: Drizzle your pancakes with Sweet Freedom Syrup… and feel virtuous

Some pancake facts…
■ Did you know that in Medieval times it was believed that the first three pancakes were sacred (Is that because you didn’t want to eat the first ones that always go wrong?)
■ In France they make a wish while the pancake is turned (I always make a wish that the pancake won’t stick to the ceiling…)
■ In Brazil they celebrate their Shrove Tuesday with a massive street party called Mardi Gras. In Great Britain we have… pancake races.

But at least we get to eat pancakes!!! Pancake Day is next week Tuesday (8/2/11). Even if you have a problem with wheat you can use buckwheat flour. Orgran do a good vegan version.

'I love Sweet Freedom with my pancakes'
'I love Sweet Freedom with my pancakes'

However, when it comes to toppings there’s one thing I love to recommend: Sweet Freedom syrup – the award winning, natural, healthier sugar substitute; perfect for drizzling over your pancakes especially if you are watching your waistline! Even Raymond Blanc uses it.

It’s made 100% from fruit and has 25% fewer calories than sugar (and it’s sweeter too so you can use 25% less). It’s low GL (Glycaemic Load) means no blood sugar spikes making it suitable for diabetics.

And Sweet Freedom have given us 20 bottles to give away! So if you’d like to be in with a chance to win simply email me with your name and address and we’ll pick the winners from a hat at the end of the week (UK addresses only, competition closes 4/3/11).

Oat bran drop scone recipe – Savoury or sweet

Not many people know how to use oat bran, but it is a great thickener for sauces, smoothies or hot chocolate. You can also make breads and cakes with it, or just sprinkle it on your yoghurt.

The advantage of oat bran is that it lowers cholesterol and blood sugar levels, it also helps dieters feel fuller for longer and raises the metabolism. Not to mention that it’s high in calcium, vitamin B and iron.

Here’s the recipe…

100g (4 oz) oatbran
A pinch of salt
1 egg
300 ml (½ pint) milk
25g (1 oz) butter, melted
For sweet scones add 2 level tbspsns caster sugar or sweet freedom
Mix the oatbran and salt (plus sugar or sweetener for sweet scones) in a bowl and make a well in the centre.

Break the egg into the well and add the milk gradually, as for making a batter. Stir in melted butter and allow to stand for 1 hour.

Cook spoonfuls of the batter in a preheated lightly greased non-stick pan for about 3 minutes each side or until golden.

Serve hot alongside a traditional English Breakfast or with warm syrup or jam.

Chocolate muffin recipe – dairy-free with no added sugar

I just found this great video on making Birch Syrup, which is a bit like Maple Syrup but is also a natural source for Xylobrit Xylitol which is much healthier than sugar.

Xylitol is found naturally in many plants, it is just as sweet but has nearly half the calories as normal sugar (40% less) with a low GI of 7. This means it is good for diabetics and hypoglycemics. And becasue Xylobrit Xylitol is made from birch rather than corn it can be used as a safe alternative for people with candida. Plus it actually lessens tooth decay and fights bacteria!

We all know that sugar is bad for you, so it makes sense to use Xylitol for baking your cakes, biscuits, crumbles and muffins*.

Chocolate muffins – dairy-free with no added sugar

2 eggs
1 1/2 cups xylitol
3/4 cup sifted cocoa
1/2 cup oil
1 cup apple juice
1 3/4 cup wholewheat spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 cup boiling water

1. Beat eggs (with a whisk) for 10 minutes, add xylitol and reduce whisking speed. Add cocoa and mix well.
2. Add oil to the mix, then apple juice and dry ingredients including salt.
3. Add boiling water to the mixture.
4. Line muffins tins with muffin cups. Fill each cup to ¾ full. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes at 180 C. Cool on rack.

*Xylitol inhibits yeast so cannot be used in dough that requires yeast.

Raymond Blanc ‘approves’ Sweet Freedom

Sweet Freedom
Sweetener made from just apples, grapes and carob

Are you familiar with Sweet Freedom? It’s the low GI (glycaemic index) sweetener that you can use instead of sugar or honey and it is made just from apples, grapes and carob. Excellent for Vegans and those wanting to avoid animal products, excellent for those who don’t want a sugar rush from sucrose. Excellent all round really…and now it’s been discovered by Raymond Blanc.

Deborah from Diet Freedom explains:
“Here we were busily working away on all things Diet Freedom when the phone rings and a lovely lady from Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons (Raymond Blanc’s famous restaurant in Oxfordshire) asked if she could set up an account and order Sweet Freedom as Raymond would like to serve at Le Manoir with coffee, teas etc!!! Well … we didn’t have to think about that one too long as you can imagine. They do not want to offer anything artificial to their customers apparently and rather than decant they are going to offer in our ‘very practical’ bottles too!

And then two weeks later, low and behold more excitement at DF HQ when Raymond’s amazing head chef GaryJones, ordered more to use in the kitchen as well … we are very flattered that they seem to love it as much as we do!”

 

Sweet freedom can be used exactly as you would sugar or honey: use to sweeten all hot and cold drinks, bake ‘no added sugar’ muffins, cakes, flapjacks, brownies and puddings plus make desserts such as ice cream, cheesecake, mousses, drizzle over porridge and cereal and tastes great on toast instead of honey or jam.

Low Glycaemic Index

As Sweet Freedom is made from fruit it is absorbed slowly into your system and doesn’t peak your blood sugar levels in the same way as sucrose would.  The rate at which a sweetener is absorebed into our blood can be measured and this indexed and called the GI (Glycaemic Index)  or  GL (Glycaemic Load).  Sweet Freedom has a low Glycaemix Index and load.  (More on Glycaemic values) Because of this Sweet Freedom would be the preferred sweetener for  for weight management.  It has  25% less calories than sugar plus you can use 25% less. It is also suitable for diabetics and vegans. Top down squeezy bottle with drip free cap means really easy to use and no mess.

Sweet Freedom is available in two varieties,  Mild and Rich. Both are multi-purpose syrups but the Mild is best for tea as it’s the most neutral and sugar like, the Rich has a lovely toffee like taste.

Suitable for Vegans

Sweet Freedom sweetener is suitable for the following dietary types:

Diabetics, vegans, those avoiding sugar and on a ‘no added sugar’ diet, gluten free, gluten and casein free diet, dairy free, egg free, low fat , lactose free, wheat free, yeast free, and soya free diets.

As well as Raymond Blanc, Sweet Freedom has also been discovered and recommended by the  ‘queen of natural products’ Janey Lee Grace, co-presenter Radio 2 with Steve Wright and The Wright Stuff, Channel 5. Janey says: “This is a Godsend, the kids love it on porridge and we use it for making bread – a wonder product!”

Nutritional Information

For those of us who read the labels, the nutritional breakdown is:

Per 100g:
Energy 1252kJ/299kcal, Carbohydrate 77g (of which sugars 77g), Fat 0 (of which saturates 0g), Protein 0g, Fibre 0g, Sodium less than 0.05g

 

Sweet Freedom, we are proud of you.

Tasty biscuits with virtually no calories – not impossible

I’ve been on a diet these last few months. It’s going fairly well, I’ve lost a stone and a half. But I can say with full conviction that the worst experience in dieting is feeling hungry with a taste for something savoury but opening the cupboard to shelves of rice-cakes.

I’ve munched my way through packs of rice cakes in my time and it’s only raging hunger that means I can enjoy them. Wouldn’t anyone rather be eating anything else?

Well, I haven’t got the perfect solution but I think I’ve found something close, and it fits into my new found fascination with raw food.

Biscru are best described as savoury crackers with about only 5 calories per wafer but they are not cooked at all. They’re made out of fresh fruit or vegetables with herbs, spices, grains and seeds and dehydrated so that none of the nutrition is lost, but, most importantly, they taste amazing.

Too amazing in fact. So far I’ve tried the olive and onion and tomato and paprika, and both are good. But the real trouble is they are so more-ish and so endanger my diet in an entirely different way.

The other thing to say is that they are not made with wheat, dairy products or sugar so they’re useful to people on special diets. They’re also organic. The one claim I find difficult to understand about them is how they can contribute to a person’s five-a-day intake. It seems to me like you’d have to eat a lot to make that work, so it’s probably best not to give up on other fruit. though apparently they do provide a good balance of protein, omega oils and slow release carbs too.