Well the excitement following my recent visit to the hospital has waned considerable, its not as plain sailing as I had hoped and the reality is that I still have the air cast boot, my crutches and now because I am trying to walk again, a hugely swollen, painful and bruised foot! One step forward, god knows how many back, please excuse the pun. Returning to work on Monday is not going to be fun. On brighter news, I am still losing weight and have reached my first goal of 8st 7lb, body fat is going down fast the more walking I do and hopefully I will soon have two legs the same size with calf and thigh muscles and no cankle !!!
To cheer myself up I thought I would attempt returning to the kitchen again and decided to keep it simple with some delicious and nutritious Quinoa and Cashew Bark.
Now I can already hear your say, “healthy and nutritious, but its chocolate”, and I know that we can all feel guilty when we over indulge in sweet treats, however according to recent studies, the flavanols found in chocolate are antioxidant, antihypertensive and anti-inflammatory. They also work to help prevent plaque buildup in the arteries and blood clot blockages and insulin sensitivity. The study found those who consumed the most cacao had a 37% reduction in cardiovascular disease. They also had a 31% reduction in diabetes and a 29% reduction in stroke as compared to those who ate the least. As long as you buy really good quality, pure chocolate, a little now and then can only do you good. It may be that you have to re-educate your taste buds, but once you do I promise you will not go back. I found that I eat far less good quality chocolate as it is richer and so fills that craving for something sweet far quicker, and when recently I pinched a bit of Hubby’s Cadburys Easter Egg it just tasted far to sweet and sickly, I actually can say I didn’t like it.Words I never thought that I would say.
This recipe is so simple, one that you could get the children to help with, the results are a fab treat that if dressed up with a few dried rose petals or lavender would even be great served with espresso’s at the end of a meal.
I did make a bit of a boo-boo and started off by using chia seeds, a case of not reading the recipe properly, however I think it was rather a good Freudian slip as it turned out just fine and the chia will only add more fabulous nutrients to the chocolate. This was also a first for me of cooking quinoa in this way, it actually makes it taste like popcorn and gives a wonderful flavour, the cashews give crunch and as the recipe suggest using salted I decided not to add any further salt just for health reasons, but I do think that it would add another dimension. Also I didn’t add the cayenne pepper, I am not a fan of spicy chocolate and decided to decorate with delicate dried rose petals instead. As I always say, make the recipe your own and to your taste, but I have posted the recipe as I found it and will leave it up to you to decide what to add or take away.
I better go now, for the first time in 8 weeks I am off out, I am both excited and nervous, using my crutches in public is not something I enjoy, but if I am returning to work I need to get back out there.
So enjoy your weekend and buon appetito
1 tablespoon coconut oil
½ cup quinoa, rinsed
½ cup salted cashews, chopped (I would usually use organic, but I am reliant on others shopping for me at the moment!!!)
1 teaspoon sea salt
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
100g Dark Chocolate Bar (anything over 70%, organic is good and if you want to be totally purist use cacao)
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Heat a pan to a medium heat. Add the coconut oil and allow to melt. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring often, for about 5 to 8 minute, until the seeds are golden brown. They should expand slightly and a few seeds will start popping out of your pan, its not as bad as pop corn, so don’t panic. The change will be to their texture.
Transfer to a medium bowl and add in cashews, sea salt and cayenne pepper.
Place the chocolate in the top of a double broiler/bain-marie. (You can also use a metal bowl over a pot of boiling water) Heat until melted, stirring often to prevent burning. Be careful not to get any water into the chocolate!
When the chocolate is melted, add it to quinoa and cashew mixture and stir well until combined. Drop by spoonfuls on to the prepared parchment paper.
Place in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes, until hardened.
Note: The recipe suggests that you drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto the parchment, I prefer to make my into bark, I just spread an even layer and popped it into the fridge, then just lifted it from the paper and cut into a portion size that I wanted.
Storage Note : I put mine into an airtight jar and kept them in the fridge.
Suggestion: Why not try other nuts and play around with flavoured chocolates, there is such a good range out there now. Companies such as Chocolate and Love, Green and Blacks, Divine and Montezuma’s do some amazing flavours. For example Lime and Sea Salt !!!