You can't pick up a fork these days without being told that your food contains one toxic ingredient or another! I believe we can produce food that hasn't been processed to within an inch of its life by getting back to using more natural ingredients - simple! Here's some info about some of the ingredients I use to make your treats.
Cacao v Chocolate
Cacao and cocoa powder may sound similar, but there are some key differences between them when it comes to taste, nutrition, and cost.
Cacao is the purest form of chocolate you can consume, which means it is raw and and goes through much less processing than cocoa powder. Cacao is thought to be the highest source of antioxidants of all foods and the highest source of magnesium of all foods. It might seem like one of the newest "superfoods" at the minute, but It has been used throughout many cultures for centuries for health purposes.
The cacao fruit tree, also known as theobroma cacao, produces cacao pods which are cracked open to release cacao beans. From there, cacao beans can be processed a few different ways. Cacao butter, cacao paste cacao nibs are just some of foods created from cacao beans, and I love to use them in my products. Commonly, producers and users of cacao are well educated about it's health benefits, and will keep it's processing (especially heat processing) to a minimum, in order to retain as many of it's health properties as possible. They're also less likely to pump it full of other additional things that are not great for your health.
Cacao powder contains more fibre and calories than cocoa powder as more of the nutrients from the whole bean is still intact. However, it's also an excellent source of the "good fats", monounsaturated and cholesterol-free saturated fat. If that wasn't enough, it's also full of vitamins, minerals, fibre, natural carbohydrates, and protein, which makes it an excellent source of nutrients.
Cocoa on the other hand, is the heated form of cacao that you most likely eat in the form of chocolate powder and your favourite chocolate bar. Cocoa powder is produced similarly to cacao, except cocoa undergoes a higher temperature of heat during processing. While this processing destroys a lot of the goodness of the bean, cocoa does still retain some health benefits, and it is much cheaper. This is one of the reasons you can buy four chocolate bars for £1, but you will never be able to do that with cacao-based products!
Sadly, as cocoa is so cheap, manufacturers and users will often use add dairy milk or cream, sugars, hydrogenated fats, palm oil, artificial preservatives, soy and all manner of unnecessary food stuffs to it to make your chocolate powder and bars. I hope you can see why I will only ever use cacao in it's rawest form to make your treats!
There can’t be a week that goes by in which we either read or are told that we eat too much sugar! Boring though it is to keep hearing, the sad truth is that many of us do eat way too much sugar, and too much of the wrong kind is making us fatter and sicker!
Although for some, the jury is still out on this subject, I truly believe that sugars such as white processed sugar and glucose syrup are much more detrimental to your health than say for example fruit sugars. Because of the refining processes used to create many white and heavily processed sugars, they contain very little nutritional value, along with other kinds of additives your body doesn't need, and doesn't know how to process. They hit your bloodstream very quickly. This means they contribute to a quick burst of energy and an equally quick crash, which leads to sluggishness and increased appetite and cravings. Too much of these types of sugars trigger inflammation in your body.
Fruit sugars, and those that are less processed (unrefined) on the other hand, can be easier for your body to process because they're less concentrated and at least contain some vitamins and minerals. They're also less likely to cause your energy levels to crash quickly and wreak havoc with your blood sugars..
I only ever use unrefined* sugars and naturally occurring sweetness from raw fruit in all my products. So, you can be confident that you're treating your craving, but not treating your body badly at the same time! All the sweeteners listed below are plant-based and lower on the glycaemic index than processed sugar. Where regular table sugar scores 100, many of these sweeteners score closer to a 50.
Stevia is a no-calorie, all-natural sweetener that comes from the leaf of a flowering plant, and this is especially good if you have blood sugar issues, if you’re overweight or if you have diabetes.
Coconut palm sugar is another great substitute for white refined sugar, especially if it’s organic. It’s made from sap that is extracted from the coconut tree, and is full of potassium, electrolytes and nutrients. So, for an equal comparison to sugar that’s nontoxic, non-GM, that your body’s going to be able to digest better, organic coconut palm sugar is a better option.
Derived from the sap of the agave plant (a type of cactus native to Mexico), agave nectar is a sweet brown liquid. It’s about 30% sweeter than sugar, which means you can achieve the same sweetness by using less. It’s also very versatile and easy to use, great for sweetening hot drinks, porridge or yogurt, and in baking.
All these white sugar alternatives are available in all the major supermarkets, and in organic versions too. So next time you’re out shopping you know what to pick up instead of the white stuff! *What do I mean by unrefined sugar
Unrefined sugars lock in rather than refine out the natural molasses of the sugar cane. They sugar go through the minimal amount of processing, leaving in more of the naturally occurring things like minerals, anti-oxidants, iron etc. This often gives unrefined sugars their richness depth of flavour and natural colour that refined sugars do not possess.
In truth, sugar is sugar! So, just because a sugar is unrefined, it doesn't mean you can knock yourself out on it either. Enjoy it as part of a balanced diet, and your body will be able to deal with it in a way that shouldn't harm your health.
Note - If you are concerned about the amount of sugar you're consuming, speak to your GP or a Nutritionist for guidance on how you can reduce and manage your intake.
One of the main reasons I set up Abundance Foods was out of frustration at the amount of chemicals, unnatural ingredients and downright doo doo in much of our food! I get that we need our food to taste good and have a good shelf life, but the way this is achieved in many of our most popular foods isn't very healthy in my opinion. So what is lecithin?
Lecithin comes from the Greek lekithos, meaning egg yolk, and is a term used to describe yellow-brownish fatty substances that occur naturally in animal and plant tissues. It is used in food to provide a smooth, moist texture and to keep ingredients from separating. It also helps to enhance the shelf life of foods, by preventing the separation of different ingredients. Most of the lecithin used in modern foods is derived from either soybean oil or egg yolks. You can tell the type of lecithin that's in your food in the ingredients list. It will be listed as either "lecithin" for egg yolk lecithin or "soy lecithin" for soybean oil lecithin.
Sunflower lecithin is made by dehydrating a sunflower and separating it into three parts: oil, gum, and solids. The lecithin comes from the gum. It is processed through a cold press system like the one used to make olive oil. Most companies use soy lecithin in their products. But there are three big issues with using soy lecithin:
Many people are allergic to soy.
Most soy is genetically modified.
Soy lecithin is often processed with chemicals.
Sunflower is the opposite. Most sunflower is organic, not genetically-modified, and is not processed with chemicals. It is also not considered a top allergen, unlike soy. Because soy lecithin is cheaper, you will find it in the majority of mas produced, and even some more artisan products. In keeping with my promise to never use any soy or soya in your treats, I've chosen to only ever use sunflower lecithin, despite the added cost, as the integrity of my ingredients are my main priority.
For centuries the coconut tree has been called "the tree of life". Virtually every part of it can be used or consumed. In Sanskrit, it is called Kalpavriksha or "tree of heaven". So it's very fitting, and no coincidence that it features so high on my list of ingredients to use in my products. After all, my logo is of a tree of life, and my tag line is "from the tree to my kitchen"!
I insist that the coconut oil I use is cold pressed and never chemically treated during production. Because it's processed in a gentle and low heat manner, all the natural flavour, aroma, nutrients and benefits are kept intact, which means more of it gets inside your tummy, ready for your body to do it's bit and distribute it wherever it's needed most.*
I genuinely believe that Coconut oil is high in healthy saturated fats that have different effects than most other fats in your diet. These fats can boost fat burning and provide your body and brain with quick energy. But when it comes to health claims, there's much debate about what's true and what isn't. So, I always say you should do your own reading. Find out what you think your body's lacking or needs a boost of, and get more of what you believe to be good for you into your diet.
Hemp seeds are the seeds of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. They are from the same species as cannabis (marijuana) but a different variety. They do contain only trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana, so sadly you won't get stoned eating my treats!
Technically a nut, hemp seeds are very nutritious. They have a mild, nutty flavour and are often referred to as hemp hearts. They contain over 30% fat, and are exceptionally rich in two essential fatty acids, linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3). They're a great protein source as well, as more than 25% of their total calories are from high-quality protein. Hemp seeds are also a great source of vitamin E and minerals, such as phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulphur, calcium, iron and zinc (1, 2Trusted Source).
I only use them raw in my recipes, but you can also cook or roast them.
For your peace of mind, Abundance Foods is:
Fully insured, including Public Liability Insurance
Registered with the local council, (Leeds, West Yorkshire)
Covered to Food Level II standard in Food Safety in Catering
Been inspected and given a food hygiene rating of 5 - Very Good (Click the certificate to see confirmation from the Foods Standards Agency website).
Thank you Marcia, your cheesecake was absolutely delicious! As predicted, it didn't last long. Thanks again Abi
Just wanted to say the cheesecakes were boooom!! Enjoyed by all and turned our wet and chilly birthday gathering in the woods into a flavour rave! Shinghai, Leeds
I must say it's great to have healthy chocolate and cake that quench my craving, I don't feel hungry after, it's amazing really, it takes away unhealthy cravings and works well for me. 😁 Nakita, Leeds
Thank you so much for the truffles and cheesecake. I've been looking for natural raw desserts in the area for ages and then I came across your site. The strawberry cheesecake was amazing and all the truffles tasted Devine especially the caramel one-gorgeous. So glad i found you. Brilliant personal service as well. Emma, Leeds
Let's talk AMAZING vegan salted caramel sauce from @abundancefoodsleeds! It's amazing, it tastes better than 'regular' caramel, and it has a richer and deeper flavour made from coconut sugar. Preye, Manchester
Well, Well, Well Abundance Foods - you have done it again! The raw luscious lime cheesecake is absolutely divine! It's rich, smooth and just enough sweetness to balance the tartness of the lime. Gorgeous, thank you Tracey, Leeds
I started [eating your salted caramel] with a spoon out of the jar then I had the rest with cheese and crackers. It’s so delicious that you have to put a warning on the label! May cause you to hide and eat it all by yourself! Carmen, Nottingham
I was lucky enough to come across Marcia at a vegan & yoga event I was working at. Immediately she was so welcoming and helpful, I bought a number of her delicious homemade goodies as at the time I was following a strict dairy free diet but craved something sweet! Both myself and my husband enjoyed her desserts so much, that I ordered more. Marcia the very next day, delivered them to my house! Fantastic service and delicious and nutritious treats. I can't wait to sample the whole range on offer!! Ruth, Leeds
"Marcia's chocolate truffles are simply the best. Perfect taste and texture and beautifully presented. Showing that healthy treats can not only be greater but better than the rest." Dean, Leeds
"I'm so grateful that you went out of your way to make a cake and put icing on it for me. It is honestly the best vegan cake I have ever tasted." Lucy, Wakefield