I love baking and trying out new ingredients so I was very excited to receive a package of products from Protein UK. They sent through some healthy swaps for common baking ingredients and asked us to give them a try in the Madhouse kitchen. We received : Buff Bake Coffee Bean Almond Butter, Sweet Freedom Choc Shot, Walden Farms Calorie Free Fruit Spread and Copura Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. I'm all for healthier alternatives but they have to taste good, so I was keen to see how they would compare.
Choc Shot is something that I'd heard lots of positive things about - I know it is particularly popular with Slimming World fans. It is 100% natural, only 14 calories per teaspoon, 95% fat free, vegan and low GI so it's a good choice if you have diabetes (as part of a healthy diet). Straight from the spoon, it's an acquired taste and the Madhouse kids weren't keen, but once added to cakes, cookies and other chocolatey desserts, it got a big thumbs up. (£3.95 for 320g)
I'll be honest, I was slightly more unsure of the Buff Bake Protein Almond Butter when I investigated the label. We love peanut butter so I liked the idea of a nut butter, but we got the Coffee Bean variety and I'm not a coffee fan. Buff Bake Almond Butter is made with Roasted Almonds, Whey Protein, Coconut Palm Sugar, Coconut Oil, Chia Seed, Flax Seed and in our coffee version, the bit that made me wrinkle up my nose, Coffee Grounds. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised - it doesn't have the strong coffee flavour or gritty texture that I was expecting and it works perfectly in recipes in place of peanut butter. If you're on a high protein diet, it's ideal because each 2tbsp serving contains 11g of Protein with no added sugar, as well as calcium, Vitamin E, fibre, Omega-3 and antioxidants. It is also gluten-free. (Available in Snickerdoodle, Coffee Bean and Cookie varieties, £9.99 for 340g)
Walden Farms Calorie Free Fruit Spread comes in a range of fruity flavours and is an alternative to jam without the sugar, fat, carbs and calories. It has a slightly strange, gloopy texture, more like lemon curd than normal jam, but it tastes lovely and is surprisingly sweet. We decided to use some in jam tarts and they flew off the plate quicker than I could make them !
I made a few with lemon curd too and as you can see, the raspberry spread behaved itself much better than the lemon curd, which splurged out everywhere in the oven. The ingredients list did cause a few raised eyebrows : the main ingredient is Triple Filtered Purified Water, which explains why it is calorie-free. The gloopy texture comes from the Cellulose Gel (Thickener) and the sweetness from Sucralose. The colour comes from purple sweet potato, which sounds nice and natural, so it's a shame that lower down the list are a bunch of artificial additives : Sodium Citrate (Acidity Regulator), Preservative: Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Beta Carotine, Caramel Color, E129. Overall, it's a good alternative if you want a calorie free and sugar free option. (£3.99 for 340g)
Coconut Oil is an ingredient that I had already been experimenting with and it can be used in place of butter in sweet and savoury recipes, such as cookies, cakes and curries, where it imparts a subtle coconut flavour, or even as a beauty product, for skin, lips and hair. In fact, I've recently discovered that it can also be applied to burns, insect bites or nappy rash to help soothe them. It comes out of the jar solid and melts to create a clear liquid. Copura Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil is a cold pressed 100% raw coconut oïl which has the added benefit of being naturally cholesterol-free. (£14.99 for 1 litre)
I have lots of recipes to share with you over the coming weeks that use these ingredients, but to start you off, here's a very simple one adapted from one that I spotted on the Choc Shot newsletter, which really shows off how good they can taste.
Healthy Chocolate Drops
3tbsp Copura Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
3tbsb Buff Bake Coffee Bean Almond Butter
1tbsp Sweet Freedom Choc Shot
2 drops of vanilla essence
Melt the coconut oil in a bowl in the microwave and mix in all the remaining ingredients. Pour into a silicon ice cube tray and freeze for 2 hours until set. Press out and store in a bowl in the fridge.
Disclosure : We received the products in order to write an honest review.