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Healthy Treats - refined sugar free

Homemade Easter eggs refined sugar free

Kale Chips

Using an oven or dehydrator you can make these quite simply with oil and salt. We love the cold pressed virgin olive oil from Olive Tree HK, and used coconut oil on another batch. For salts, pick your finest unrefined varieties, the flavoured ones rendering the most exciting results. We loved the Fleur de Sel "with grilled spices" available online at Les Halles Bordeaux. Also try truffled salts for a more decadent outcome. Kale is on sale sometimes at Jason's,  the HK Football Club shop as well as online at Green Vitamin and Eat FRESH.
What you need:
500g (normally one bunch) of kale
50-100ml oil - try different ones on different batches
Handful of salt - as above - experiment!
Oven: Preheat the oven to 180c.Wash and dry your kale leaves.​Using scissors, cut out the bitter rib/stem of the kale and tear into pieces the size of your palm. Pour a little oil into a bowl and massage the leaves with it. Dust the leaves with your salt of choice. Lay on a baking tray and bake until the desired level of crispiness, around 15 minutes.
Dehydrator: As above but dehydrate at 60C for around 3 hours.
Store in an airtight jar
Makes 1 largish bowl of kale chips

Before the kale fest

Dehydrated chips in coconut oil dusted with rock salt

Date, Prune & Coconut Loaf - vegan, refined sugar free.


I have a secret crush on Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. Apparently my taste is somewhat unconventional... Google him if you don't know this eccentric English chef, whose TV programme, River Cottage, I could watch on repeat all day, and I even dragged my (then) fiancé to the set in Devon one summer, where you can have dinner. I love all his cookbooks and have used the River Cottage Baby & Toddler Cookbook a lot in the last few years. I intended to make his orange & apricot loaf this week but forgot to buy 90% of the ingredients, so in fact made a date, prune and dedicated (I prefer to dessicated) coconut loaf which actually turned out pretty well. Dairy-free, nut-free and refined-sugar free so perfect for kids and full of natural sweetness from the generous quantities of dried fruit and orange juice. A resounding success at a tai tai coffee morning.


What you need:

100g stoned dates, chopped roughly

100g stoned prunes, chopped roughly

350g raisens/sultanas

Juice of 2 oranges + the zest

2 teaspoons of baking powder

1 teaspoon of cinnamon or allspice

100g of spelt/wholemeal flour

120g plain flour

50g dessicated coconut



Heat the oven to 170C and grease or line a loaf tray with baking parchment. 

Juice the oranges into a measuring jug and top up to 350ml with water. Pour this all into a saucepan with the dates and prunes (chopped roughly) and the zest of one orange. Bring to the boil then remove from the heat.

Pour the above into a mixing bowl with the flours, baking powder, allspice, raisins, coconut and combine well. 

Spoon into the loaf tray and bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.


Makes one loaf. The photo opposite was taken post coffee morning when half had been eaten.

Date, Cacao, Coconut & Goji Balls

Cacao, Coconut, Date and Goji Balls (gluten-free, vegan and refined sugar free)


​My husband was on a cricket tour in Bangkok this weekend (yeah, whatever...) giving me carte blanche to experiment with "weird healthy stuff", as he would put it. Well, these were an unmitigated and very moreish success. I couldn't think of a good name for them, hence why the title literally lists the ingredients, although I m sure if my husband were present, his feedback would have included the words "animal droppings". They are chocolatey & fruity so ideal for packed lunch boxes. I tucked into a few late afternoon, nicely accompanied by this lightly spiced tea, Magic Masala, that I have been reviewing for Seema Bhatia's Africa 2 Asia Kitchen. It can be drunk black or with honey, lemon or milk of your choice. Order via email at


What you need


1/2 cup dessicated coconut

1/4 cup pitted dates

1/4 cup goji berries

1/4 cup sesame seeds

1 tablespoon of raw cacao or cocoa







Place the pitted dates, coconut, goji berries and cacao in the food processor and blend. Once it is like putty, roll it into balls.


Scatter the sesame seeds onto a plate then roll each ball in them so they stick. Or, you could do this with more raw cacao powder or cocoa powder. Refrigerate until needed. 


Makes what you can see in the picture plus a few more (that I ate).


This post was sponsored.



Pumpkin Agave Muffins (Vegan, Mummy & Kid friendly)


This is a great way to use up  any whole pumpkins that might be still loitering in your house after Hallowe'en, and the ingredient list deserves a prize for virtue alone. How could you possibly feel guilty about eating one of these? And my 1 year old just devoured one, so they definitely pass the kids' test. 




Preheat oven to 175C and grease a muffin tray. Mix the pumpkin purée, coconut oil, water and agave syrup together. Sieve together the wholewheat flour, plain flour, baking powder, baking soda and spices. Mix together until just  combined then add the walnuts if you desire (perhaps not for young children that might choke - or chop them finely). Spoon into muffin cases and bake for 15-20 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.


What you need:


1 3/4 cups of pumpkin pureé. Slice open your pumpkin, remove the seeds and roast slices of pumpkin for 50 mins at 180 C. Remove skin and blend the flesh until it become a smooth pureéOr buy a can if you are feeling lazy.

1/3 cup of coconut oil

1/2 cup of agave syrup

1/4 cup water

3/4 cup wholewheat flour

3/4 cup plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp of nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp of ground cloves

1/2 cup of walnuts (optional)


Makes 12 muffins

Chocolate Coconut Tapioca Pudding


While my car was being treated to a new horn due to some apparent "overhonking" (what in HK? never....), I dived into the adjacent Indonesian store for a quick rummage and came home with my very first tapioca pearls. This was their debut dish, which is dairy-free, gluten-free and refined sugar-free YET incredibly tasty. Tapioca and sago are two different things, in case you didn't know. Tapioca is made from the starchy root of the cassava tree, whereas sago is made from the stem of the sago palm tree.


What you need


3 cups coconut milk

1/2 cup tapioca pearls

1 vanilla pod

1/8 cup coconut sugar

1 tablespoon of raw cacao or cocoa






Soak your tapioca pearls in the coconut milk in a saucepan for 30 minutes.


Prepare your other ingredients including scraping out the inside of the vanilla pod. Combine them with the tapioca and milk in the pan and turn up the heat until it boils . Then turn it down immediately and let it bubble very gently for around 15 minutes until the balls are tender (!).

Serve immediately, or allow to cool then refrigerate until required. 


Serves 3 children

Homemade Raw Chocolate (refined sugar free)


​If you don't think the photo is up to much, why don't you try shooting a bunch of melting chocolate in high humidity with 2 toddlers next to you trying to get their mits on everything!!! You can buy most of these ingredients on iherb but also in i-detox on Wellington St.


What you need


1 cup of raw cacao powder (or cocoa)

1 cup of raw cacao butter or coconut oil or a mixture

If either of these are solid, melt them over a bain-marie (put a small pyrex bowl over a saucepan of boiling water and stir until it melts). 

1/4 cup of maple syrup

1 heaped teaspoon of orange zest or you could use a pinch of ground cardamom/cinnmon or omit entirely any flavouring.








Combine the cacao powder, butter, maple syrup and any flavourings in a food processor then pour into moulds. I used some solid Easter egg moulds and also an ice cube tray that had heart & moon shapes. Place in the freezer to harden for about an hour, then pop the chocolates out of their moulds and refrigerate.


For the most solid chocolate that will not melt at room temperature, use 100% cacao butter. If you use a mix of coconut oil and cacao butter, it will melt more. 



Makes what you can see in the picture plus a few more (that I ate).

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Cherry Chia Conserve


This is a basic method of making a refined-sugar-free black cherry jam.


What you need:


1 cup pitted fresh cherries

1/2 cup water

2 tbls chia seeds

1 teaspoon coconut sugar (optional)




Put cherries (pitted and halved) and water in a pan then simmer them for 7 mins. If you are really lazy, you can buy a cherry pitter from City 'Super!


Take the pan off the heat then stir in 2 tbls chia seeds and allow to cool.


Refrigerate overnight and wake up to homemade jam! 


Add coconut sugar to taste if you so desire. I used 1 teaspoon. Pile onto hot buttered toast. 


This was homemade (ish) bread using a 10 grain mix from Bob's Red Mill. 


Makes one small pot.

Healthy Substitutions


Being British I am slightly partial to the odd bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk Fruit & Nut, especially when mid afternoon slump occurs. However, in my lifelong quest to eliminate the white stuff (which may contribute to this daily low....), here is one of my current healthy substitutions for a Fruit & Nut bar - a handful of almonds (bought raw then activated* if I am feeling especially geekie), raisins and cacao nibs, which you can buy on iherb via this link:

*Activating the nuts means soaking them water overnight then drying them out, which increases their nutrients and makes them more digestible. I soak mine in this sprouting jar.


Tamari/Soy Pumpkin Seeds


What you need:

100g pumpkin seeds

1-2 tbl of soy or tamari sauce.




Chuck 100g pumpkin seeds in a skillet with 1-2 tbls of tamari (if gluten-free) or soy sauce. Heat until the sauce first goes gloopy then is absorbed. This takes a couple of minutes.


Serves 2 children as a snack and ideal for nut-free schools


I don't exclude much from my diet (gluten indifferent, like dairy, love wine), however white sugar is one I try to avoid, along with anything else whose ingredients I can't pronounce. 


Personally, I find it difficult to put down a bar of chocolate once I start, after which I am more likely to snack on rubbish, lack energy and sometimes even wake up with a sugar hangover. I swear gin is preferable (and more fun). 


Aside from anecdotal, there is more and more medical research emerging on the detrimental effects of refined white sugar on our physical and mental health from inhibiting our immune system, messing with fertility, speeding up ageing as well as connections with cancers.


There's even a new film about it... It's no surprise therefore that my most recent girl crush is on Sarah Wilson, the Aussie authoress of "I quit Sugar" whose book I read for recipe inspiration from time to time. I'm certainly not as hardcore as her (she types, reaching for a cube of Dairy Milk), but I like to experiment with healthy snacks and natural sweeteners, so here are a few ideas below.

Curried Chickpeas

Above are some organic Australian chickpeas, available at Green Vitamin which I sprouted (oh yeah) to make one of Sarah Wilson's recipes where she bakes them at 190C for 45 minutes in garam masala and olive oil. My husband was typically dubious, but in fact he and my two year old admitted to enjoying them over a beer. If you don't have garam masala, try another spice blend e.g. tandoori.

Apple & Raisin Cupcakes with Maple Cinnamon Frosting

Being the responsible (mean) mother that I am, I opted to make these sugar-free cupcakes for my daughter's class party. While void of refined sugar, I used a substitute called SugaVida, which is harvested from the blossom of the Palmyra tree and has a deep, rich flavour with hints of treacle. It's also organic, unrefined and low GI with one teaspoon providing your RDA of B12. I then applied a frosting made of cream cheese, butter and maple syrup. SugaVida is available from Berrytime in HK. Find the recipe here.

Fruit Free Cleanse

If you're looking to ban all fructose from your diet, that means fruit too, and HK does in fact have one fruit-free juice detox, with coconut water in a few of the drinks to sweeten things up. Check it out at Genie Juicery.

Cheesy Chipotle Kale Chips

A while back I posted by favourite kale chip recipe combining nutritional yeast, chipotle, cashew and wasabi for a cheesy chipotle (yet vegan) effect. While that still stands, it you can't be bothered with the flaff, there is a damn good substitute on iherb.


Healthy Nutella


In my previous corporate job, my erstwhile colleague, Fella, would often do a cake run when we hit our sugar lows, at about 4pm most days. However, for the times when we couldn't leave our desks, we had no option other than to hit the secret stash in her bottom drawer: a packet of digestive biscuits, a jar of Nutella and a knife. It certainly hit the spot. This is my slightly healthier version containing just 4 ingredients. Like Nutella, it is chocolatey and hazelnutty, but also a little coconutty, which I quite like, and is fabulous smeared on hot toast...


What you need:


1/2 cup of hazelnut meal (or finely ground hazelnuts)

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup cacao or cocoa




Blend in the food processor until smooth then refrigerate until required, during which time it will solidify somewhat, but rest assured, it will melt and ooze nicely over hot toast.


Apple Oat Muffins


As I previously mentioned, baking is not my forte, so when I find a winning combination, I am most pleased! These are super easy and highly addictive plus can be frozen for packed lunches.


What you need:


Butter for greasing

1 cup applesauce

1 egg

2 tbs coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla essence

3/4 cup coconut sugar

1 cup oats

1 tsp ground cinnamon

3/4 cup wholewheat flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 cup raisins

Pinch of salt




Preheat the oven to 190C.


Grease with butter a muffin tray for 12.


Combine your apple sauce, egg, vanilla extract and coconut oil in one bowl.


In another bowl, sieve your flour into it then add the oats, baking powder & soda, cinnamon, sugar, raisins and salt.


Combine both bowls and stir until all is well combined, but do not overstir.


Pour into a muffin tray and bake for 20 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.  


Cool then freeze any you don't wish to eat immediately in a ziplock bag or container.


Makes 12.

Bananas with Homemade Chocolate Sauce


This is a super quick family pudding using fresh bananas and a homemade chocolate sauce which contains just three ingredients: cacao powder, coconut oil and maple syrup. Is it therefore dairy-free and refined sugar free. You could sprinkle some dessicated coconut on top or shavings of frozen coconut cream, for a dairy-free ice-cream effect. Simply pop a carton of coconut cream in the freezer... If you do apply this chocolate sauce to ice-cream or anything frozen, it will harden like the old Ice Magic sauce, except this is FAR healthier!

What you need:


1/4 cup cacao or cocoa powder

1/4 cup coconut oil

1 tablespoon of maple syrup


Buy chocolate sauce ingredients in one click via iherb


Fresh bananas and/or icecream to serve




Simply stir together the cacao, coconut oil and maple syrup. Warm through if required but it's not necessary. Pour over your banana, icecream or whatever you choose.


Warning: there may be some chocolatey faces after they have licked out their bowls...


Serves 4 

Salt & Vinegar Almonds


These are simple to prepare, nutritious and incredibly moreish. I soaked my almonds first but you could just use roasted almonds and bake for a shorter time. The balsamic vinegar gives them a nice sweetness, but for a lower sugar or gluten-free alternative, use apple cider vinegar.


What you need:


1 cup soaked raw almonds

1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon high mineral salt




Soak your almonds overnight in drinking water. Read why we soak nuts and seedshere. Drain in the morning and pat dry. The almonds in the picture were bought blanched, but you can use those with the skin on.


Mix 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and 1/2  teaspoon salt with the almonds and dehydrate for 12-24 hours, or until dry.


In the absence of a dehydrator, place on a baking tray in the oven on the lowest heat possible and check them every 30 minutes until they appear dry. If there are still moist, they cannot be stored since they will go mouldy. Store in an airtight jar.


Makes 3-4 snack servings.

Watermelon Pizza


This is a clever way to present fruit in creative ways, which hopefully means you and your kids will eat more of it! There are endless possibilities here from savoury appetizers involving feta, mint and lime juice, to fruit salad ideas like this one. Here we have slices of watermelon with shredded coconut masquerading as grated cheese, and toppings of blueberries and kiwi fruit. You can also try slices of peach, banana (soaking it in lemon juice first to prevent oxidisation) or cherries and grapes.


Do check that your watermelon is red inside, as many are yellow in Hong Kong. And do try to buy whole ones rather than cut segments, as there is less chance of bacteria getting in before you do…


What you need:


One watermelon

2 kiwi fruit

100g shredded coconut

200g blueberries



Take time to cut perfect whole slices of watermelon, shaving bits off to make them the right height.


Scatter with the shredded coconut, blueberries and slices of fruit.


You might like to use interesting shaped cutters for the fruit.

Makes 2 watermelon pizzas with watermelon left over for juicing or freezing in chunks for margueritas!

Back to School Cereal Bars


Here is a chewy, fruity bar with hints of chocolate from the cacao nibs. However, the key to a really successful is granola bar is to use the grains, seeds, fruits and nuts that you like, so do feel free to vary them. For example, you can substitute the dates for raisins, opt for almond rather peanut butter, or use agave rather than maple syrup. You don’t need to cook them if you like them really gooey, alternatively bake them for ten minutes for a more sturdy cereal bar.


What you need:


1 cup of oats

½ cup shredded coconut

½ cup dried cherries

¼ cup pitted dates

1/3 cup maple syrup/honey or a combination

¼ cup peanut butter

Handful cacao nibs

Butter to grease the tray



Blend your dates in the food processor until they form a paste.


Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl: dates, cherries, oats, coconut and cacao nibs.


Combine the honey/maple syrup and peanut butter in a small saucepan and warm it on the hob until it’s runny.


Fold the dry ingredients into the pan of honey/maple syrup and peanut butter, and mix well.


Spoon the whole mixture onto the baking tray and flatten it down with a spoon. It should be about 1cm high.


Refrigerate for an hour then cut into bars. They are soft and gooey so best kept in the fridge. If you like a crunchier cereal bar, bake them at 190c for 10-15 minutes, then cut into bars and store in an airtight container.


Makes around 10 bars.


Mint Choc Chip Nice Cream


This is the only way you can get away withi ice-cream for breakfast, and this one is dairy-free and refined sugar free.


What you need:


2 frozen bananas (peel and freeze your bananas in small chunks for ease... )

Few fresh mint leaves

1 dessert spoon cacao nibs




Blend the banana chunks first until it resembles ice-cream. Add the mint leaves and pulse a few times until they are chopped and distributed. Lastly, add the cacao nibs for a couple of pulses. Eat immediately!

Serves 1 hungry mummy.

Cheesy Vegan Popcorn


This morning we made a healthy cheesy popcorn to pack for school, using nutritional yeast rather than cheese that quite honestly TASTES EXACTLY LIKE CHEESY DORITOS! We used a popcorn maker (because our aim in life is to stuff as many kitchen gadgets as possible into a small HK kitchen) then flavoured it in a pan over a low heat, but you could pop and flavour it all in the same pan too...

What you need:
3 cups popped corn
1 tbls melted butter/olive oil
1 tbls nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons tamari/soy sauce

It's gluten-free (if you use tamari, refined sugar free,  and vegan (if you use olive oil rather than butter!)




Pop your corn.


Melt your butter (or warm your olive oil) with the nutritional yeast and add the popcorn to the pan, stirring it well to coat it properly.




In the unlikely event you have leftovers, they may go a little soft over time, so just warm them in the oven to crisp them up.

Tamari/Soy Sunflower Seeds


What you need:


1 cup sunflower seeds

Splash of soy or tamari sauce.




Chuck the seeds in a frying pan with a splash of tamari (if gluten-free) or soy sauce. Heat until the sauce first goes gloopy then is absorbed. This takes a couple of minutes.


Serves 2-4 children as a snack and ideal for nut-free schools


The Clix Mealtime Kits pictured are made by Skip Hop and available at Bumps 2 Babes, Baby & ME and Little Whale in Hong Kong. They are BPA-free, PVC-free and Phthalate-free

Cinnamon Sugar Popcorn


What you need:


1/2 cup unpopped corn

1-2 tbls cinnamon coconut sugar




Pop your corn then shake the cinnamon sugar over it.


Serves 3-4 children as a snack


The Clix Mealtime Kits pictured are made by Skip Hop and available at Bumps 2 Babes, Baby & ME and Little Whale in Hong Kong. They are BPA-free, PVC-free and Phthalate-free




Ice N Lean


Possibly the healthiest kids' ice-creams I have served... This chocolate ice-cream is the very first grass-fed and organic protein ice-cream, made by Ice 'N' Lean. It's totally void of refined sugar and while it does contain coconut sugar, this is just 5g per 100ml so extremely low. Most importantly, it's delicious! Then I had to take it one step further and roll it in healthy sprinkles, namely chia and sesame seeds. Let's see how this is received... You can buy Ice N Lean at various health food outlets in HK or have it delivered to your door via

Chocolate Beetroot Brownies


We have been continuing the theme of hiding veggies in cakes, ostensibly to diversify the consumption of my daughter, although really if I am honest, it's just another excuse to bake cakes! Today's endeavour is beetroot brownies and quite a success, partly due to the 100% cacao chocolate that went into them and lots of it. 


Find the recipe here.



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