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Spelt flour is high in fibre. Mix it with ground almonds, eggs and milk of your choice for a divinely fulfilling treat. I’m already thinking of breakfast tomorrow too!!

These are super easy (makes 4 medium sized delights)…

  • 50g spelt flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 2 eggs
  • 150 ml milk (oat or almond milk work well)
  • Pinch Himalayan/sea salt
  • Coconut oil for frying

Method

  • Blitz all of the ingredients together in a blender, electric or hand whisk (madly) until it forms a batter.
  • Heat 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil in a frying pan until sizzling.
  • Add quarter of the mixture and allow to cook for a couple of minutes, using a spatula to lift the edges.
  • Once the pancake sets…toss! Cook the other side for another few minutes until golden brown.
  • Serve with your favourite topping – try honey/agave nectar, a squeeze of fresh lemon and some blueberries.

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Oxygen is our life force. The blood is vital for delivering oxygen to our cells and removing carbon dioxide, along with other toxic waste. Eating a poor diet, which is high in saturated fat, salt and sugar can have catastrophic effects on the body by causing a build up of fatty deposits in the inner lining of the arteries and narrowing them. This means that blood flows less efficiently around the body and we don’t get as much oxygen as we could.

The good news is, a nutrient rich diet can help keep our heart and circulation healthy and the oxygen flowing in abundance. Here are some fabulous additions to your diet which are scientifically proven to have a positive impact.

Extra virgin olive oil

There are two main reasons for eating this delicious tasting fat on a daily basis. Firstly, replacing saturated fat with plant based unsaturated fat decreases the chance of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol damaging the arteries. Secondly, olive oil is rich in polyphenols which helps reduce inflammation caused by free radicals.

Tea

This delightful beverage is well known for its health benefits. Tea contains a powerful group of polyphenols called catechins which have a protective effect against cardiovascular disease. Drinking green tea may help to reduce the amount of fat and cholesterol absorbed into the blood, thereby aiding weight loss.

Fruit and veggies

Eating around 800g (roughly 10 portions) of fruits and vegetables per day greatly reduces the risk of heart disease. Packed with nutrients, antioxidants and fibre, a diet full of fruit and vegetables can cut the chance of heart attack, stroke, cancers and premature death by up to a third. Research published in the International Journal of Epidemiology shows that apples, pears, citrus fruits, spinach, lettuce and chicory offer the greatest heart health benefits. Where possible, opt for whole, fresh fruit and veg as opposed to smoothies and juices. The Make It Healthy Raw Carrot Cake is packed with raw, organic carrots and dates, which are perfect fodder for increasing your 5-a-day! Come and grab a slice from our stall at Rode Hall Farmers Market in Cheshire on the first Saturday of every month.

Hydration

Water is vital for transporting nutrients and oxygen around the body and getting rid of waste products. Staying hydrated is a fantastic way to improve your performance as it helps to regulate body temperature and blood pressure. Not sure how much to drink? Although official advice on fluids is to drink 6-8 glasses per day, checking your thirst is the body’s best tool. Start by drinking one extra glass of water per day.

Inulin

Inulin is a prebiotic fibre found in certain plant based foods, such as chicory and artichokes. When digested, inulin is fermented by bacteria in the gut to produce short chain fatty acids – which are a very good thing! Short chain fatty acids help to clear fat from the liver, muscles and pancreas, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Clinical trials on humans also show that inulin can promote weight loss by increasing the anti-hunger hormone, glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1). Inulin can be bought as a supplement.

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Adding a touch (or a heap) of spice to food is a great way to keep warm over the winter months and add an extra depth to recipes. Black pepper and chilli pepper are my favourite additions and have a range of health benefits too.

Black pepper contains piperine which can act as an anti inflammatory, improve digestion and boost nutrient absorption.

Chilli pepper contains the active ingredient capsaicin, which is linked with weight loss. This may be due to its ability to boost metabolism (so you burn more calories) or by stimulating more of the anti hunger hormone leptin after eating it. Scientists are still figuring this one out.

Why not try these quick and healthy vegan recipes to get a kick out of your food? International Spicy Food Day is on Tuesday 16th January. Make it a hot celebration!

Veggie chilli

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp olive/sunflower/coconut oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 150g mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 400g tinned cooked black/green/puy lentils
  • 410g tinned red kidney beans
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1-2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 150ml reduced salt vegetable stock (or bouillon powder)
  • 300g brown rice

Method

  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onion and garlic. Lightly fry until golden.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, spices, red pepper, mushrooms, kidney beans, lentils and stock. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes. Season with extra black pepper, more chilli pepper and a little Himalayan pink salt or sea salt and if needed.
  • Meanwhile cook the rice according to pack instructions. For fragrant rice, add 1 cinnamon stick, 4 whole pepper corns, 4 whole cloves, 2 crushed green cardamom pods and a bayleaf to the water at the beginning. Remove once the rice is cooked.

Raw Chocolate Chilli Brownies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of walnuts
  • 2 cups pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • Pinch of pink Himalayan salt or sea salt

Method

  • Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend into a sticky dough. It may take 3-4 minutes for the ingredients to bind. Add a splash of water or maple syrup if more moisture is required.
  • Shape the dough into balls or place the mixture in a tray, pat down firmly and slice into bars.
  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes and store in an airtight container. They will last for 7 days. Suitable for freezing too!

I’ll be doing two Raw Chocolate Workshops over the next few months. Check events for more info! We will be back at Rode Hall Farmers Market on Saturday 3rd February too with Raw Chocolate goodies and other healthy, raw treats. 

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Hemp seeds are a rich source of plant based protein and contain a complete range of essential amino acids. Why is this important? If you’re vegan or avoiding dairy, hemp seeds can provide some of the vital protein that you need for growth and repair. Hemp seeds are also rich in Alpha Linoleic Acid (ALA) which is one of the Omega 3 fatty acids – good for brain and heart health.

This creamy hemp milk recipe is perfect for smoothies, cereal and porridge. Serves 2.

Ingredients

  • 400ml cold water
  • 3-5 tablespoons of shelled (hulled) hemp seeds
  • 2 dates

Method

  1. Place the water into a blender followed by the other ingredients.
  2. Blend at high speed for 2-3 minutes until a milk is formed.
  3. Add a teaspoon of raw cacao powder or ground cinnamon for extra flavour.
  4. Serve immediately.

We will be back at Rode Hall Farmers Market on Saturday 3rd February with Raw Chocolate goodies and other healthy, raw treats. We have perfect gift ideas for Valentines Day too! 

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New Year. A fresh start, a blank canvas and a time to get going! Here are 5 top things to do today (or this week if you have time);

1. Give your kitchen a good clean and make it sparkle. Wipe down the sides, disinfect the fridge and take a look at what’s in your cupboards. Throw away any (seriously) out of date food and bring the healthy ingredients to the front of cupboards. What about unopened packets, tins and cartons that you’ll definitely never use? And boxes of chocs and biscuits that you will only eat because they are there? Donate them to the food bank at your local supermarket. Most of us want to start the new year with better eating habits. Give your kitchen some TLC and see the difference it makes to your motivation.

2. Write down your health and fitness goals for the next few months. Remember, small and realistic goals are more likely to be achieved. My list includes drinking more water and doing the Parkrun at least once in January. These are really simple but will benefit my health and that’s all I’m after. Think of things you want ‘more of’ instead of ‘less of’. That way you’re less likely to feel deprived which can be really demotivating.

3. Family time. Whether you have a big family gathering planned or you’re spending it quietly on your own, connect with those that you love with a hug or a conversation – face to face, on the phone, by FaceTime, by writing a letter etc. Make the first move and start the New Year with love. Oh, and be willing to receive it to!

4. Get some fresh air. Come rain or shine, get yourself outside. Even for five minutes! Breathe in the New Year fresh air and get your circulation going. Check out the supermoon on 2nd January. It’ll blow your mind.

5. Keep checking in with yourself. There really is something special about the first few days of the New Year. It feels clean and positive for me. If you have specific resolutions, or an affirmation that resonates with you write it/them somewhere you can see them. It may be one or a collection of words that come to mind. Again, write them down and use them as a point of reference over the next 12 months. Use colour and pictures if you desire.

Happy New Year. May 2018 be the best year yet. We will be back at Rode Hall Farmers Market on Saturday 3rd February with Raw Chocolate goodies and other healthy, raw treats. We have perfect gift ideas for Valentines Day too! 

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Eating well, staying active and working on mindset are guaranteed to make you feel, look and perform better. Follow these top 10 tips for making 2018 your healthiest and most fabulous year yet.

1. Hydrate

A hydrated body helps to burn more fat, increase mental clarity and keeps skin looking fresh. This is because water is essential for every process in our body. Dehydration can negatively effect our mood, productivity and hunger levels. Drinking more water will stave away headaches and improve digestion. Drink at least 6-8 glasses (tumbler sized) of water a day. Why not try drinking 1 extra glass of water per day over the next week and see the difference it makes?

2. Eat more fibre

Fibre is awesome. It keeps our digestion healthy and makes us feel satisfied for longer. It also feeds the good bacteria in our gut so we can absorb nutrients better. Eat around 30g of fibre per day. To achieve this, swap white carbs (rice, pasta, bread) for brown and wholegrain varieties and eat 5 portions of fruit and veg per day. About 50% of our food intake should be from carbohydrate as it fuels the body and contains vital micronutrients and fibre. This advice has been circulating for years but it works. Read more about how fibre keeps us feeling fab here.

3. Reduce added sugar 

Added sugar includes white and brown sugar, honey, syrups and fruit juice concentrates. It doesn’t include sugar from whole foods such as fruit, vegetables, unsweetened dairy and plant based milks. Too much added sugar leads to weight gain and tooth decay. It messes up blood glucose levels making us tired, grumpy and hungry more often. Eat less than 30g of added sugar per day, which is the equivalent to 7 sugar cubes. Kids should eat even less (no more than 5-6 sugar cubes). Ditch sugary fizzy drinks for sparkling water or water with slices of lemon, orange, strawberries or cucumber. If you have it, try and halve the amount of sugar in your tea or coffee. Go for very dark chocolate instead of milk and white. Swap the shop bought cakes, sweet and biscuits for fruit, nuts, natural yogurt, energy balls and flapjacks sweetened with dates, figs and other dried fruit. These kinds of foods are not only low in sugar they are packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals.

4. The five minute workout

A five minute run around the block is maybe all you’ll manage today but it’s something. This is my motto. Just do 5 minutes, if nothing else. My exercise goals have changed over recent years. I’m much less concerned about staying skinny (yes I admit that was a goal for many years). These days I am far more concerned about circulation, staying flexible and alert. A five minute burst of activity may inspire you to carry on and do more, or it may be just enough to shift your mind set and get your blood flowing to everywhere that needs it. Here are some great suggestions of what to do for 5 minutes;

  • Use a skipping rope and do as many 100 reps as possible.
  • Sprint on the spot whilst counting to 50. Rest for 20 seconds and repeat.
  • Run round the block. Even if it’s up the street and back.
  • At work, climb as many stairs as you can find.

5. Quit the comparison with others

There are 7.6 billion people on the planet. It’s hard to not notice what others are doing! But this is YOUR life, no one else’s. They are not YOU. Stop comparing yourself with other people. Just stop it.

6. Use herbs and spices more

Flavours keep foods interesting. Herbs and spices are cheap to buy, easy to grow (if you’re up for it) and can transform a dish into restaurant quality food. Some of my favourite spices are smoked paprika, cumin, chilli flakes, Chinese 5 spice, turmeric powder and ground cinnamon. Adding some or all of these spices (around a teaspoon each) to a stew, soup or sauce adds an extra dimension. Be brave and start experimenting more with flavours over the next few months. Why not sprinkle some chilli flakes over a batch of raw chocolate too? MMM.

7. Be patient

A good friend once said, “When you’re climbing a mountain, it’s sometimes good to take a look behind you to see how far you’ve come”. Change takes time. And you have your whole life for changes to occur. Do little things consistently and you WILL notice a difference.

8. Become a qualitarian

You get out what you put in. Give yourself the best quality food. Dump the junk as much as possible.

9. Sort out your cupboards 

Chuck out anything that is out of date and hasn’t been used for years. Clean the shelves and take stock of what you have. Being clean and organised brings about clarity and may give you an incentive to try new things. I place all oats, dried fruit, nibs, powders, nuts and seeds in glass jars and dedicate a set of shelves only to these ingredients. It is easier to use them when they are at arms reach and no awkward packaging is involved.

10. Feed your brain with vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for serotonin (happy hormone) production, mental clarity and for strong bones and muscle. Take a vitamin D3 (10mcg) supplement between October and April to protect against the Winter blues. We get vitamin D mainly from the sun through our skin. Animals are out in the sunshine more than humans (especially in the UK!). This is why we can get some vitamin D through meat and dairy, as it is passed down the food chain. Mushrooms which have been out in the sun are also a good source of vitamin D.

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Tight hamstrings? Stiff hips? Check out these top tips for increasing flexibility.

Do yoga. If you think you need to be flexible before you give yoga a go then think again. You do yoga to gain more flexibility. Yoga has gained huge popularity over the last decade and it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the different styles on offer. Try one that is local to where you live or work so you’re not stressed trying to get there. A community based class can be just as beneficial as city yoga. Yoga should make you feel positively different afterwards which is a good indictor that it’s the right class for you. Baffled about the different styles? If you’re really stiff, try hot Bikram Yoga which is designed to warm you up whilst you work and protect you from overstretching. Iyengar Yoga is based on precise body alignment to slowly and deeply get into your joints. Vinyasa flow and Jivamukti yoga are usually performed to music where you flow from posture to posture.

Keep moving. Move as much as you can! Prolonged sitting not only increases risk of cardiovascular disease and weight gain – it also decreases muscle flexibility. It’s easy to get into a habit of sitting down for hours, especially if you work at a computer. Do a few minutes of stretching at your desk and set your alarm at intervals throughout the day to remind you to get up and walk about. The World Health Organisation recommend at least 150 minutes of physical activity (that raises your pulse) per week.

Eat oily fish. Mackerel, tuna, salmon and other oily fish can help to reduce inflammation in joints. Fish is an excellent source of an omega 3 fatty acid known as DHA which has anti-inflammatory properties. It is found in large quantities of the human brain and is used to strengthen synapses which enhances learning and memory too. Try and eat 1-2 portions of oily fish per week. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, try a daily tablespoon of chia seeds or spirulina powder which contains other fatty acids that can be converted into DHA. However, DHA from fish, eggs and meat contains 10-100 times more than plant based alternatives. Taking fish oil supplement may not have the same benefits.

Be a copy cat. A cat stretching after a nap or children rolling around on the floor can be great role models for the things we can do to keep supple. The ability to move, stretch, rock and roll is a blessing.

Always stretch after your cardio workout. Whether you’re a keen runner, fanatical about spinning or mad for the cross trainer, make sure you stretch your hamstrings. Consistent cardio workouts keep you fit but can shorten the muscles in the backs of your legs. To compensate, the lumbar (lower) spine tilts forwards. Virtually all long term back pain is accompanied by tight hamstrings. What’s the remedy? A seated stretch could hold the key. After your workout, sit down with both legs in front of you, feet together. Bend the knees and stretch your arms forward to touch your toes. Hold for 20 seconds whilst keeping your spine straight and eyes forward. Feel the stretch down the backs of your legs. Eventually try and straighten your legs whilst continuing to stretch forward.

Take note of these top five tips over the next few weeks and give them a whirl. You will find that even getting out of bed will feel physically easier.

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Make your own raw goodies! These crunchy, chewy bars are SO easy. No need to bake or dehydrate. They are nut free and packed with nutrition. All of the ingredients are available in supermarkets / health food stores.

Flaxseeds are a big deal amongst the nutrition community. They contain a potent mix of omega 3 fatty acids, lignans and fibre. A daily dose (30g over 6 months) can help reduce blood pressure to a point where it significantly reduces the risk of stroke and heart disease. This was proven in a randomised, double blinded, placebo controlled trial (basically the gold standard in human dietary studies).

Ingredients (use any cup!)

2 cups of sesame seeds
1/2 cup light tahini (sesame seed paste)
1 cup of raisins
1/2 cup milled flaxseeds/linseeds
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1/4 cup of melted coconut oil
1/3 cup honey, agave nectar or (my favourite) coconut nectar
1tsp good quality vanilla extract
Pinch of Himalayan or good quality sea salt

Method

  • Place all ingredients together in bowl and mix well.
  • Spoon the mixture into a tray and pat down firmly.
  • Freeze for at least 2 hours. Remove from freezer and cut into granola size slices.
  • Keep in the freezer until ready to munch and remove 15 minutes before serving.
  • Add extra ingredients to the mixture if desired – a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, some chopped, dried apricots, nuts or cacao nibs etc. For an extra nutritional boost add a couple of teaspoons of maca or raw cacao powder.

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Sweet Sultana & Seed Raw Chocolate (50g) – Decadent, silky raw chocolate with sumptuous sultanas and the crunch of sunflower seeds. Punchy and delightfully delicious. Cocoa solids 71%.

Ingredients Cacao Butter*, Raw Cacao Powder*, Coconut Sugar*, Sultanas*, Sunflower Seeds*.

* Organic

This bar is available as part of the Make It Healthy Selection Pack. Wholesale orders can also be arranged. Individual bars are on sale at Rode Hall Farmers Market and other events.

What the heck is raw chocolate? Is chocolate really that healthy? Here are some FAQ’s whilst deciding on your favourite flavour…

What do you mean by ‘raw’? The word ‘raw’ within health food has evolved and means different things to different people. Make It Healthy’s definition of raw are foods which ingredients are;

  • whole, natural and plant based
  • kept away from high temperatures (above 45 degrees C)
  • kept away from chemicals
  • handled with care and processed/blended minimally

How can chocolate be healthy? In 2012, chocolate officially got a healthy stamp from scientists. This is because cocoa is rich in flavanols which helps keep the heart healthy. But not all chocolate is created equally. Dark and minimally processed is best. Make It Healthy Raw Chocolate is both of these things.

What is ‘raw chocolate’? Raw chocolate is made from unroasted cocoa beans and usually sweetened with coconut sugar (the crystallised sap from coconut flowers found on coconut trees). This is different to most commercial dark chocolate whereby the cocoa beans are roasted at high temperatures and sometimes chemically treated, which can significantly decrease the flavanol content.

What is Make It Healthy Raw Chocolate? Make It Healthy Raw Chocolate is made from organic unroasted cocoa powder, cocoa butter and coconut sugar. Cacao nibs, natural flavours, nuts and seeds are added to give each bar its definitive taste. Commercial chocolate can contain vegetable fat, refined sugars, sweeteners and artificial flavourings and preservatives. As a nutritionist, I only make products that offer maximum nutritional benefits.

What is the difference between the words cocoa and cacao? Cocoa is an anglicised word for cacao, so technically they are the same thing.

What about the fat content of chocolate? Much of chocolates smoothness comes from cocoa butter which consists of 3 types of fat; palmitic, stearic and oleic acids. There is little evidence that cocoa butter increases the risk of heart disease. However, fat is caloric which means that chocolate should definitely be eaten in moderation. Around 10g (of flavanol rich chocolate) per day is recommended for heart health.

What about the sugar content? Make It Healthy Raw Chocolate is sweetened with coconut sugar. Coconut sugar contains a fibre called inulin which gives a slow release of energy and helps maintain healthy digestion. It has a rich, caramel flavour and is a perfect, lower GI addition to the Make It Healthy Raw Chocolate recipe.

Is Make It Healthy Raw Chocolate organic and Fairtrade? Make It Healthy Raw Chocolate ingredients are certified organic by The Organic Food Federation. The cacao is from a Fairtrade supplier in Peru.

What about intolerances, allergens and animal products? Make It Healthy Raw Chocolate is vegan, free from dairy, soya, gluten and nuts. Seeds and cacao nibs are used to create a crunchy texture in some of the bars.

Can I make my own chocolate? Absolutely! The Make It Healthy Raw Chocolate Kit contains all the ingredients you need to make your own raw chocolate and a recipe sheet. You make it in the box too!

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Divine Dark & Pink Salt Raw Chocolate (50g) – Rich, bold raw chocolate perfectly balanced with a touch of Himalayan pink salt. Why is the salt pink? Because it contains trace minerals magnesium, potassium and calcium. Cocoa solids 71%.

Ingredients: Cacao Butter*, Raw Cacao Powder*, Coconut Sugar*, Himalayan Pink Salt, Raw Cacao Nibs*.

* Organic

This bar is available as part of the Make It Healthy Selection Pack. Wholesale orders can also be arranged. Individual bars are on sale at Rode Hall Farmers Market and other events.

What the heck is raw chocolate? Is chocolate really that healthy? Here are some FAQ’s whilst deciding on your favourite flavour…

What do you mean by ‘raw’? The word ‘raw’ within health food has evolved and means different things to different people. Make It Healthy’s definition of raw are foods which ingredients are;

  • whole, natural and plant based
  • kept away from high temperatures (above 45 degrees C)
  • kept away from chemicals
  • handled with care and processed/blended minimally

How can chocolate be healthy? In 2012, chocolate officially got a healthy stamp from scientists. This is because cocoa is rich in flavanols which helps keep the heart healthy. But not all chocolate is created equally. Dark and minimally processed is best. Make It Healthy Raw Chocolate is both of these things.

What is ‘raw chocolate’? Raw chocolate is made from unroasted cocoa beans and usually sweetened with coconut sugar (the crystallised sap from coconut flowers found on coconut trees). This is different to most commercial dark chocolate whereby the cocoa beans are roasted at high temperatures and sometimes chemically treated, which can significantly decrease the flavanol content.

What is Make It Healthy Raw Chocolate? Make It Healthy Raw Chocolate is made from organic unroasted cocoa powder, cocoa butter and coconut sugar. Cacao nibs, natural flavours, nuts and seeds are added to give each bar its definitive taste. Commercial chocolate can contain vegetable fat, refined sugars, sweeteners and artificial flavourings and preservatives. As a nutritionist, I only make products that offer maximum nutritional benefits.

What is the difference between the words cocoa and cacao? Cocoa is an anglicised word for cacao, so technically they are the same thing.

What about the fat content of chocolate? Much of chocolates smoothness comes from cocoa butter which consists of 3 types of fat; palmitic, stearic and oleic acids. There is little evidence that cocoa butter increases the risk of heart disease. However, fat is caloric which means that chocolate should definitely be eaten in moderation. Around 10g (of flavanol rich chocolate) per day is recommended for heart health.

What about the sugar content? Make It Healthy Raw Chocolate is sweetened with coconut sugar. Coconut sugar contains a fibre called inulin which gives a slow release of energy and helps maintain healthy digestion. It has a rich, caramel flavour and is a perfect, lower GI addition to the Make It Healthy Raw Chocolate recipe.

Is Make It Healthy Raw Chocolate organic and Fairtrade? Make It Healthy Raw Chocolate ingredients are certified organic by The Organic Food Federation. The cacao is from a Fairtrade supplier in Peru.

What about intolerances, allergens and animal products? Make It Healthy Raw Chocolate is vegan, free from dairy, soya, gluten and nuts. Seeds and cacao nibs are used to create a crunchy texture in some of the bars.

Can I make my own chocolate? Absolutely! The Make It Healthy Raw Chocolate Kit contains all the ingredients you need to make your own raw chocolate and a recipe sheet. You make it in the box too!

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