16 May 2016

Livia's Kitchen Review: Naturally Sweet and Indulgent Treats

I'm the girl who wakes up on Fridays and wonders what she'll be eating at the end of the day. I'm the girl who sends my husband a 'WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM PAT VAL?' message before an emergency dash to Patisserie Valerie. And I *might* be the girl who covers pretty much any pudding in double cream.

Because sweet treats are pretty high up there on my list of weekend indulgences. During the week, however, I try and be a little better behaved. I'll make up a batch of my raw chocolate brownies on a Sunday night, or chop up fresh fruit to munch after midweek suppers. And then I heard about Livia's Kitchen. This lovely lady is all about that gluten and dairy free life, but she also has a seriously sweet tooth, so she's created an entire book full of nourishing goodies to satisfy your cravings in a healthy way.

Basically, I had to get my paws on her book Naturally Sweet and Indulgent Treats. Firstly, let's all take a moment to appreciate how cute the book looks. Or looked, until I accidentally spritzed it with raw cacao powder.

Livia splits her recipes into different categories, from Breakfast and Puddings to Sweet Bites and Cakes. Like a chocolate-covered magpie, I zoned straight in on the Flapjacks, Brownies and Squares section for my first spin around Livia's Kitchen.

I decided to make the Raw Banoffee Pie Slab recipe, because obviously. You start by making a biscuit base with oats, ground almonds and maple, then set about the middle layer of banana caramel using mashed bananas and pulsed dates while the base freezes. After spooning the caramel on top and returning it to the freezer you make the chocolate topping, melting raw cacao, coconut oil, vanilla powder and maple together. One more hour in the freezer and the slab of dreams is ready to slice.

I was sorely tempted to eat the base layer without bothering to make the rest of it, which seemed to be a good sign. But I'm so glad I stuck with it because this is one tasty raw banoffee pie recipe. Really, seriously yum. The sweetness of the bottom two layers off-set the slight sharpness of the raw chocolate layer perfectly. Scoff.

A few notes: Make sure your bananas are very ripe so you get that beautiful banoffee flavour coming through, and when it comes to presentation, I found a couple of slices of banana where all they needed to look super pretty.

Next up, I tried the Blueberry and Banana Oat Pancakes for a breakfast treat. The batter is super simple to make... just pulse oat flour, bananas, oat milk and blueberries in your food processor before adding some whole berries to the mix. Melt coconut oil in a pan, ladle in the mixture and fry these little guys until browned on both sides.

I added sliced banana, more blueberries and a drizzle of maple syrup to decorate, and then scarfed the lot before remembering that I probably should have taken a picture of the finished pancakes. You can definitely tell that these are a healthier version than the traditional batter mix and I found that they took a little longer to cook than a classic pancake. Having said that, ditching plain flour and eggs for mashed banana felt all kinds of virtuous and these are definitely still tasty. I love how the whole blueberries burst as you heat the pancakes, making a kind of blueberry jam.

There are tonnes of ideas in the book which I can't wait to try out and I love that Livia has gone for a mix of complex and easy recipes to suit everyone. Cakes like the Raw Layered Berry 'Cheesecake' look delicious and her Chopped Fresh Fruit Salad, with a pomegranate sauce, sounds so simple and perfect for the summer.

Naturally Sweet and Indulgent Treats by Livia's Kitchen is out now through Ebury Press from all the usual outlets (like here and here). 

Love a healthy cook book? Here are some others I've reviewed...

Madeleine Shaw: Ready, Steady, Glow
Madeleine Shaw: Get The  Glow

I was kindly sent a copy of Livia's Kitchen to review. All opinions are my own.


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