Review: Ombar Raw Chocolate

Ombar Raw Chocolate

If you know me in real life, you’ll know that I’m a chocolate fiend. Chocolate to me is how coffee is to many people. A daily necessity. Religiously I have a little piece of dark chocolate after lunch,  and I need that cacao boost to the extent that I’ll carry a bar of the dark stuff with me when travelling, for fear I won’t be able to get my fix!

I’ve talked about the Nutribox on here before, and my first taste of Ombar Raw chocolate was via my monthly snack box. It was love at first taste and since I’ve been trialing a new option with the Nutribox to have more say in which products you receive, I’ve been requesting Ombars! I’d only tried the Coconut 60% and the Cranberry & Mandarin so jumped at the opportunity to try the whole range of flavours.

Ombar Raw Chocolate review

Before I tell you what I thought of the individual flavours I thought I’d talk a little about raw chocolate for those of you unfamiliar with it. You might be wondering “What’s the difference between raw chocolate and ‘normal’ chocolate?” or “What’s better about raw chocolate?”

Well, there are 2 main aspects: the first is low temperature. To make standard chocolate the ingredients are heated to high temperatures, 2, 3 or more times in the bean to bar process, destroying nutrients. Raw chocolate, on the other hand, is made from unroasted cacao beans and any heating that takes place is done at low temperatures preserving the flavanols responsible for its antioxidant properties. The 2nd aspect is that there’s no added junk. Raw chocolate doesn’t contain any of the junk generally added to conventional chocolate- no dairy, refined sugars, added fats or fillers.

Ombar Raw Chocolate review

Ombar raw chocolate bars only use high quality ingredients: raw cacao, coconut sugar, fruit and bio live cultures (probiotics!), all of which are organic and sustainably sourced. You’ve probably heard about the darker side of chocolate production, with workers on huge plantations around the world being poorly treated and receiving far below acceptable wages, but Ombar explicitly state that they work with independent farmers and pay them a significant premium over market price to ensure that they are fairly compensated for their hard work. This does mean that Ombar raw chocolate is a bit more expensive than the chocolate you might be used to buying, but, in my opinion, it’s worth it!

Ombar Raw Chocolate review

Coconut 60% – This bar was what first got me excited about Ombar. It’s very creamy and has a really smooth texture due to the coconut cream in the ingredients. The coconut flavour is quite pronounced, which I love, but it isn’t overpowering.

Açai & Blueberry – This one is darker in colour with a fruity fragrance. The fruit flavour didn’t come through as much as I would have liked though.

Dark 72% -  I’m typically a fan of dark, dark chocolate, 90% being my favourite, so that might be affecting my judgment on this one. It just wasn’t chocolatey enough for a plain bar for my tastes. You could tell it had a higher cacao percentage than the others though, with its darker colour and firmer texture.

Strawberries & Cream – YUM! I really loved this one. Like the coconut bar it has coconut cream in the mix so it has the same super smooth, melt-in-the-mouth texture. The strawberry flavour is pleasant too. Perfect for this “Coconut and Berries” girl Smile

Coco Mylk – If I thought the previous bars I tried were creamy, this one was even more so. It’s very reminiscent of milk chocolate from what I can remember- sweet and milky. I’m sure if you’re a milk chocolate fan but are avoiding dairy then you’ll love this one. it was just a little too sweet for me.

Cranberry & Mandarin – This was another of my favourites. It has a darker chocolate base (no coconut cream) and a lovely zinginess from the fruit which balances out the sweetness nicely. The cranberry and mandarin is a great flavour pairing too.

Green Tea & Lemon – I liked this one, but didn’t love it. It’s a unique taste certainly and I was surprised that the lemon complemented the chocolate so well. I couldn’t really taste the green tea in this chocolate, but it is rich in antioxidants so at least I was getting a health boost!

Goji Berry – I was surprised that this was another one of my top picks. Goji berries are not something I eat by the handful, although I do like them occasionally mixed with other fruits and nuts in trail mix. Unlike the açai berry & blueberry bar this one had whole pieces of berry in, as well as fruit powder, which added a nice texture and infused the whole bar with fruity fragrance.


I’m really impressed with Ombar raw chocolate. I’ve tried a few other raw chocolate brands and none of them have compared. The texture has either been a little grainy, or they’ve been too “buttery” with not enough chocolatey flavour for me. I’m really pleased to see that Ombars are certified Vegan too. This is chocolate you can feel good about eating!

Ombar raw chocolate is available in various independent health food stores and larger stores such as Wholefoods, as well as online retailers including The Raw Chocolate Company and Planet Organic. (EUROPE only at the moment)

Have you tried Ombar or other raw chocolate before? What did you think? 

Note: These products were sent to me for review purposes, but the opinions expressed are my own.

Broad Bean + Roasted Garlic Dip


Broad Bean (Fava Bean) + Roasted Garlic Dip

As much as I love to be in the kitchen, for almost everyone, myself included, it’s just not feasible to spend a huge amount of time preparing meals on a day-to-day basis. I almost always carve out some precious time in the evenings to prepare a nice dinner, and at weekends might make a special breakfast, but lunch tends to be variations on a theme- quick, light meals I can eat for a few days in a row. I’ve shared a few recipes for satisfying bean/grain salads on the blog already- a typical lunch for me. But besides salads, and leftovers, you’ll almost always find some sort of dip in my fridge.

Hummus is probably a staple in most vegans’ diets! It’s certainly one of those foods which deserves the tittle “nutritious and delicious”. I frequently whip up a batch of the traditional stuff but, if you know me you’ll realize It’s rare that I repeat the same dish too many times as I have to much fun making and inventing new ones! This broad bean and roasted garlic dip is a lovely alternative to the usual hummus and just as easy to prepare.

Roasted Garlic

For some depth I added roasted garlic to my dip. If you’ve never tried garlic this way I urge you to do so asap. It’s a different flavour altogether to raw or even sautéed garlic. The sharp, pungent taste mellows completely and it turns caramel-like, sweet and spreadable, and, even better, no garlic breath! When making roasted vegetables I often toss a few whole cloves to the mix, still in their skins, and then squeeze out the sticky garlic when cooked and mix it with the other vegetables.

Fresh Fava Beans

Broad beans are another vegetable we tend to think of here as a classic summer ingredient. I love how creamy and perfect they look popped out of their thick pods. They always remind me of a song we sang at school when I was little “..the apples are ripe, the plums are red…the broad beans are sleeping in their blankety bed” and while I was shelling them I noticed that the pods were indeed lined with a kind of velvety “blanket”!

Anyway, we went to a local pick-your-own-farm recently to get a load of berries and I couldn’t resist filling a basket with fresh broad beans at the same time. I’ve never really cooked with them before so this was my easy, but delicious solution. If you’ve got any other ideas for using the fresh beans please do share in the comments!

Broad Bean + Roasted Garlic Dip:

Bear in mind when buying fresh broad beans that after shelling them you’re left with a fairly small amount. I recommend buying more than you think you’ll need!

200g/1/2lb Shelled Broad Beans
1 Small bulb of garlic
2T Extra-virgin olive oil
Zest of 1 small lemon
2T Lemon juice
5 Medium basil leaves
Salt + pepper

Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Slice whole bulb of garlic in half width-wise across its centre and place, exposed side up on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and cook for 20-30 minutes. It should be soft throughout and slightly brown. Be careful not to let it burn though- you want caramel not char. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile you can be getting on with shelling your beans. When they’re podded steam them for 3-5 minutes and plunge into cold water. Remove the thick skins from the beans. Just pinch the skin with your fingers and they should pop out easily.

Squeeze as much of the garlic as you can out of the skins and blend together with all the other ingredients In a food processor. Season to taste.
Serve at room temperature with raw vegetable sticks, wholegrain bread, pita or crackers.

I’m submitting this recipe to the weekly blog hop Wellness Weekends

What are your favourite easy lunches?

Summer Rolls (+ Sprouting)

Summer Rolls

(If you follow me on Instagram (@coconutandberries) or on Facebook, you might have had a little sneak preview of these beauties. If not, let’s connect! )

I associate “spring rolls” with the appetizer you find in Chinese restaurants. A greasy, fried pastry of sorts with some indistinguishable vegetable filling. Not something I want to be eating anyway. I know the uncooked, cold rolls are sometimes called “spring rolls” too, but I’m sticking with “summer rolls” for mine so they have none of those connotations.  Besides, they’re so colourful that they’re perfectly summery!

Summer Rolls (Packed with good stuff) + Sprouting

I’m a huge fan of beans and legumes and another way to enjoy them is sprouted! You can sprout almost any seed, legume or grain and eat them raw. They’re incredibly healthy- packed with fibre, protein, vitamins, minerals and beneficial enzymes, not to mention they taste delicious. You might be a little intimidated by the process but I promise it’s so easy and you don’t need any fancy equipment. Here’s a great guide, including a video.

It’s pretty fun watching the little tails grow and the sprouts come alive! If you don’t have a garden or are too impatient to grow vegetables, sprouting is perfect for you, as within a couple of days your sprouts will be ready to eat.

You can eat them any way you like- add them to salads, make raw hummus from sprouted chickpeas. Sprouted grains like buckwheat and quinoa are delicious for breakfast too, eaten like cereal with non-dairy milk and fruit.

Lentil Sprouts (Sprouting)

I opted for lentil sprouts this time as I had a nearly-finished bag of green lentils I wanted to use up. They added the perfect crunch and boost of nutrients to my summer rolls.

Fruit, Veggies + Sprouts for Summer Rolls

Mise-en-place is important when making your rolls. It makes life much easier if all your ingredients are ready before you get going. Let your imagination be your guide with your choice of fillings. Fresh herbs are not optional in my opinion though as they really bring these to life. As you can see from the picture below, I changed my mind at the last minute and added some sliced avocado for a nice texture contrast.

Summer Rolls (Packed with good stuff) + Sprouting

The Best Summer Rolls:

3/4C Shredded carrot
3/4 Shredded beetroot
1/4C Fresh coriander (leaves only)
1/2C Lentil sprouts
1/2 Medium mango, thinly sliced
1/2 Small avocado
Rice Paper Wrappers (I got mine from a local Asian store but you should be able to find them in health-food stores and supermarkets too)

Peanut-Ginger Sauce

This is a variation on the sauce I used for my 10-minute Raw Peanut Noodles, but a mini batch, just enough for these rolls.

1T Peanut Butter
1T Non-dairy milk
1/2t Tamari
1/2t Lemon/lime juice
1/2t Agave nectar
1/2t Grated fresh ginger
Dash of cayenne

As mentioned, have all your filling ingredients chopped and prepped.

Fill a large shallow dish with warm water (bath temperature). Dip one rice paper wrapper in the water and leave a few seconds to soften it. Rice paper rolls vary hugely in size and thickness but don’t leave it in there too long. It should still be slightly firm because when you lay it out it will continue to absorb the water on its surface. Lay wrapper carefully on a flat surface, being careful not to get it stuck to itself (It might take a couple of tries before you get the hang of it- they are very delicate).

Layer your fillings down the centre of the rice paper circle, make sure you’ve got a bit of everything in there. Add a little sriracha and a squeeze of lime if you like. Fold the ends over the filling and then tightly roll the sides around to create a parcel.

Repeat until all your fillings are used up.

Whisk together ingredients for sauce and serve alongside rolls for dipping.

(Makes 4 large Rolls/Serves 1)

It’s like a salad in held-held form! These make a great packed lunch as they travel well but don’t keep them in the fridge for more than a few hours as the wrappers tend to harden up.

Summer Rolls (Packed with good stuff) + Sprouting

Have you tried sprouting or making spring/summer rolls before?

What are your favourite sprouts?

Spanish Romesco/Pesto Pizza with Grilled Vegetables

Spanish Romesco Pizza with Grilled Vegetables

Vegan Spanish Romesco/Pesto Pizza with Grilled Vegetables

I promised to share more recipes using pesto after my Pesto-Ricotta Tofu Omelettes post so here I am with another. Hopefully by now you’ve got a nice batch of pesto in the fridge, but if not, or (heaven forbid!) you’re not a fan of the green stuff, I’ve also got a delicious alternative for you today.

Cheese-less pizza to the uninitiated might sound boring, but it leaves room for so much more creativity, since you haven’t got all that cheese smothering any other flavours you add. And after all, the original Italian pizza  “pizza marinara”, is cheese-less- just a good thin crust topped with a rich tomato sauce, spiked with garlic and oregano (Fun fact: the name “marinara” doesn’t, as one might think, refer to fish or seafood, but “marinai” or sailors for whom it was first baked in the C18).

Vegan Spanish Romesco Pizza with Grilled Vegetables

Here I’m mixing up cultures a little as Romesco is Spanish not Italian. I first came across it with the delicious “Chickpea Romesco” from Veganomicon: A tasty bean dish in a tangy roasted red pepper, tomato and paprika sauce thickened with ground almonds.

Then, when living in Barcelona I encountered this tasty sauce again. Every year when the calçots, a vegetable similar in taste and appearance to green onions or leeks, are in season, the Catalans hold the Calçotada. This festival which celebrates the harvest of the vegetable with a feast of char-grilled calçots which are then dipped in Romesco sauce before eating.

I haven’t yet tried to recreate a Calçotada back in England (!) but I wanted to enjoy that delicious sauce again in a different way. It made a great topping for pizza, rich and flavourful, especially with some grilled vegetables on top, as the slightly smoky flavour reminded me of those blackened calçots in Spain.

Vegan Pesto Pizza with Grilled Vegetables

It’s not difficult to make, but the flavour is so complex it tastes like you must have put in a lot more effort than is actually needed.

Spanish Romesco Sauce:

1 Medium red pepper (Or use the equivalent amount from a jar of roasted red peppers)
1 Large clove garlic, chopped
2/3 C Slivered almonds
2 Tbp Red wine vinegar/Sherry vinegar
1 Tbsp Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 Tbsp Sweet paprika
1/2 tsp Salt
Black pepper
2 Tbsp Chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F and place the red pepper on a baking sheet. Cook the red pepper for 25-30 minutes until skin is blackened and blistered and the pepper has collapsed. Remove from the oven and immediately place in a heat-proof bowl and cover with a plate or cling film. Leave to sit for 10 minutes. The steam helps you remove the skin.

Spread out the almonds on the same baking sheet and toast for a few minutes in the oven until golden. Be careful as they burn easily.

When the pepper is cool enough to handle, rub of skin with your fingers, deseed and dice into 1” pieces.

In a food processor or high-power blender combine the chopped red pepper, toasted almonds, garlic, vinegar, oil, paprika and seasoning. Process to a thick, smooth consistency. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl or blender jug a few times to get everything incorporated. Taste for seasoning and pulse in the parsley.

You won’t need all this for the pizza so why not try the leftovers with some grilled vegetables, Calçotada-style! It’s also yummy as a dip for carrot sticks or spread onto wholewheat pitta for a quickie lunch.

For the pizzas:

1 Ball wholegrain pizza dough (I use the pizza dough recipe from Vegan With a Vengeance, available online here, using half wholegrain flour. To make 2 small pizzas, as pictured, I halved the recipe. )
1/4C Pesto
1/4C Romesco Sauce (See above)
Grilled/Fresh Vegetables ( I grillled some courgettes, roasted a second pepper, and added some slices of fresh tomato)

Preheat oven to 250C/500F (preheat your pizza stone if you’re lucky enough to have one). Divide dough into two and roll out thin to two round (ish!) pizza bases. Spread each with the pesto and romesco sauce respectively, scatter on vegetables of choice. Slide onto a baking tray and cook for approx 10 minutes or until the crust is brown and crispy.

Serve hot, alongside a big green salad.

Serves 3

What are your favourite pizza toppings?

Vegan Spanish Romesco Pizza with Grilled VegetablesVegan Pesto Pizza with Grilled Vegetables


Vegan on Tour: Bath

Bath Demuths

I’m just back from a couple of days in the beautiful city of Bath! I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned on here but in September I’m moving from Oxford to Bath to do a masters at the university there. I’ve visited the city twice before but only for assessments and both times I’ve hardly had time to see the city. This trip was planned specifically for exploring the city, flat-hunting, and having a little Mummy/daughter time.

Royal Crescent and Circus

We had a really lovely time getting to know the city and I was so pleased to find a flat I love. What’s also made me even more excited to move was the great veg dining options we discovered! As before any trip to an unfamiliar place I’d had a browse on Happy Cow at home to find out what was on offer and was pleasantly surprised to find a few entirely vegetarian restaurants. As part of getting to know the city we of course had to do the rounds of all the veg eateries Smile

We arrived at lunchtime and so after checking into our bed & breakfast walked into town to find the first place on my list!

Chapel Arts Café is an all-vegetarian café connected to an Arts Centre with all sorts of interesting sounding events. I’m afraid snapping a photo slipped my mind as we were pretty hungry. We shared 2 dishes and just about managed to finish them between us as they were so tasty- the portions were huge! Flatbreads make up most of the menu (in your choice of spelt or wheat) and there are a range of toppings. We went for the “Moroccan” which had a thick layer of hummus, tabboulleh, salsa + harissa, and the chef kindly subbed avocado for the tzatziki.   We also had the “salad combo” plate which changes daily and had a lentil salad, a carrot + caper salad (my favourite), more tabboulleh and green leafies.

The afternoon we walked (in the pouring rain) around the city and had a flat-viewing. This was in fact my first and only flat-viewing as it was too perfect and I decided it was pointless to see any others! All the arrangements were made and after a little more exploring and a relax back at the hotel it was time for dinner.

I’d heard about Demuths before and how it was a must-visit but I didn’t realize it was going to be a vegetarian fine-dining experience. A quick glance at the menu and I was swooning. There weren’t too many vegan options but in this case it was a good thing as otherwise I’d never have been able to decide what to have! Here’s the menu so you can see what I mean:

Demuths Menu, Bath

I love eating out with my Mum as she’s always willing to share dishes with me, which means I can try more without getting too stuffed! So that we had room for 3 courses we shared a starter and a pudding and had our own main courses.

Charred Leeks starter, Demuths

Charred Leeks with hickory smoked potato, hazelnuts, apple + pickled yellow mustard

This probably isn’t something I’d usually go for but it sounded intriguing and I thought the other vegan option, carrot cashew paté, was something more like what I might make myself. I was pleased I pushed myself to try something different as this was really tasty, especially the smoky potatoes. Fennel + Apricot Tagine, main course, Demuths

Fennel + Apricot Tagine with roast courgette, chickpeas, citrus purée, pistachios and spiced panisses

Another very good dish. I was a little hesitant before this came as tagine is usually a homey, rustic sort of dish, but this was unlike any tagine I’d ever made, not simple, hearty food but far more special. Every flavour was allowed to shine individually as well as blending so well together. Panisses are fried chickpea flour cakes, and although I’ve used chickpea flour a lot in my kitchen, I’ve never made these. That will soon be changing though!Chocolate Ganache with Port Cherries, dessert, Demuths

Chocolate Ganache with Port Cherries + Frozen Coconut Mousse

I think I’m incapable of leaving a restaurant with vegan dessert options without having one! I was pretty excited that there was more than just sorbet available for vegans. This was so so delicious. I’m glad we shared again though as it was very rich. The crunchy cacao nibs, toasted coconut and salt sprinkled on top really made the creamy ganache sing. Cherries are always fantastic with chocolate. I only wished the coconut mousse pieces were a little bigger as I thought their flavour got a little lost.

It was a great meal in a very cozy setting, and although Demuths is definitely not an everyday restaurant I’m sure I’ll be back for special occasions.

The next day it was raining again, and having already chosen a flat  decided to go to Ikea in nearby Bristol to see if we could find anything useful and hope it brightened up for an afternoon back in Bath. The hotel put on a lovely breakfast- we had fruit compote, cereal and soy milk from the buffet and I had grilled tomatoes and mushrooms on toast as well! The hotel staff were very helpful and even offered non-dairy spread for toast.

After a successful Ikea trip we made it back to Bath in time for a late lunch. Next on my list was The Green Rocket. I gather this place is fairly new but it already seems to be doing well and had a steady flow of diners in while we were there. I wasn’t surprised when I tasted the food. Almost everything on the menu was vegan and all the cakes were too! We weren’t particularly hungry after a big breakfast and knew we’d be eating out again later so didn’t go crazy and shared 2 starters and 2 cakes.

Courgette "Spaghetti" Salad, The Green Rocket Café

Courgette “Spaghetti” Salad

If you saw my last post you’ll know I’m already a courgette spaghetti eater! With just a few ingredients this was one of the best courgette noodle dishes I’ve eaten, if not the best, and one I’ll definitely be recreating at home. It had olives, sundried tomatoes, dates, torn basil and just a touch of olive oil.

Fennel + Chard Pakoras, The Green Rocket Café

Fennel + Chard Pakoras

Light and flavourful and not greasy at all. The perfect size to leave a little space in our tummies for a piece of the lemon-lime polenta cake and a piece of coffee-walnut cake between us.

Lemon-Lime Polenta Cake, The Green Rocket Café

The sun came out for us in the afternoon which was ideal for a good walk. It’s nice to see how much green space the city has and we walked up through Royal Victoria park and the gorgeous Botanical Gardens (highly recommend a visit if you’re ever in the city), and I had to see the iconic Royal crescent and “The Circus”. We rested our weary legs for a while back at the hotel again and got cleaned up for our final meal out.

We tried a Nepalese restaurant with a great name “Yak Yeti Yak”. I’ve had Nepalese once before and enjoyed it so I was keen to try it again.  What made our evening even more fun for me was eating, sitting on the floor! We had little cushions and sat cross-legged at our low table. The guys running the place were Nepali and all the classic dishes were there. We had the vegetable momos to start, steamed vegetable dumplings served with a delicately-spiced hemp seed chutney.

Nepalese feast, Yak Yeti Yak

For our main we again shared a selection of dishes: Cauli Keraw, cauliflower and green peas stir-fried with freshly ground spices, Chamsur Sag, stir-fried spinach and watercress, Bhuteko Bhat, fried rice Nepalese style with turmeric, mustard seeds and mixed vegetables, and finally Musurko Dal, split orange lentil sauce cooked with traditional spices and finished with garlic fried in vegan butter.

We got chatting to two girls my age at the table next to us who were planning a 3 month trip to India and Nepal. It turned out that one of them had been vegan for life and her Mum was Amanda Sweet, author of the classic vegan guide,  The Vegan Health Plan! I’m always pleased to meet vegans when out and about as we are still few and far between in the “real world”.

We said our goodbyes to Bath the following morning and drove back to Oxford but I’m now really looking forward to starting my course in September having got such great vibes from the city.

Have you been to Bath before?

Do you live in a veg-friendly area?

N.B. This restaurant is now called the “Acorn Vegetarian Kitchen”. The owner has changed but the head chef is still the same and the food is as good as ever.