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Feel Good Food – for a reason!

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Feel Good Food – Nutritionally Beneficial

Here at Bakes and Balls, our snacks are a ‘feel good food’ for the simple  reason that natural foods taste fantastic. 

Our products are all handmade in Cumbria and the Yorkshire Dales without using gluten, nuts, dairy, soya and added sugars. They are suitable for those following a Paleo or Vegan diet and Free From all 14 allergens!

Feel Good Food – Sustainable and Fairly Traded ingredients – and more

We use organic and fairly traded products wherever we can and are working to source ALL of our ingredients organically. We are proud of the fact that we have a moral compass at the heart of all we do – it extends beyond the ‘headlines’ simply because people and communities matter!

We wanted to introduce you to the story behind some of our ingredients and to the people who produce them. Hopefully this will give you an insight into what makes Bakes and Balls just that little bit different.

Bula Batiki Coconut Oil

Extra Virgin Coconut Oil from Bula Batiki is used to help bind the balls together. There are numerous Coconut Oil companies out there, but no others can claim an aim as simple as this: “to establish a sustainable source of income for the rural island of Batiki in Fiji.” Bula Batiki have recently been awarded organic status and we look forward to ordering their Organic Coconut Oil.

Bula Batiki; Coconut Oil; sustainable development; Fiji; energy; ingredients
Batiki Island – advertising Bakes and Balls!

Buf Cafe Coffee from Rwanda

The Coffee in the Coffee, Mango and Goji Super Balls is sourced by Bruce and Luke’s of Carlisle from Buf Café in Remera, Rwanda. Buf Café was established by Epiphanie Mukashyaka, who lost her husband in the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, but stayed on to rebuild her coffee farm – a truly inspirational woman!

Coffee; sustainable development; fair-trade; Buf Café
Epiphanie Mukashyaka with her son, Samuel Source: https://www.coffeehunter.com

Buf Café  buys coffee cherries from as many as 264 surrounding smallholder farmers, as well as three different local cooperatives! It has very strong links with the local communities that supply it, providing over 200 jobs at their 2 coffee washing stations during the peak harvest in addition to over 20 permanent positions. At the end of each season Buf shares any surplus profits with both the cooperatives that it works with and its washing station managers.

buf cafe, rwanda, coffee, fair trade, sustainable
Remera Coffee Drying Station

The majority of the small farmers in the area have an average of only 300 coffee trees (less than a quarter of a hectare) and use some of their land to cultivate other crops such as maize and beans to feed themselves and their families. Most of their income from the sale of coffee is used to take their children to school, pay for medical care and for investment in livestock such as a cow for milk, both for use in the home and for sale locally.

Chocolat Madagascar

Our Cocoa products come from Chocolat Madagascar who not only produce one of the finest chocolate products in the world, but are also producers of the world’s fairest chocolate!

Unlike most cocoa, this is unalcalised; unlike most cocoa; this is taken from bean to bar in-country; unlike most cocoa you can even eat the 100% cocoa bar. It truly is an exceptional product and makes all the difference to our Chocolate Orange Energy Balls and our Frocolate Spread, which was shortlisted for TWO 2018 Nourish Awards!

Chocolate Madagascar; sustainability; social responsibility; fair-trade; cocoa; cacao; chocolate; chocolate Orange; energy balls
Source: www.chocolatmadagascar.com

This cocoa only grows in the Rainforest, creating a sustainable and growing haven for the endangered animals and fauna of Madagascar. Chocolat Madagascar’s farmers produce some of the finest cocoa in the world in the Sambirano valley in Northwest Madagascar. They’re paid premium prices based on the quality of the rare cocoa beans they harvest. Higher income means a higher standard of living for the farmers and their families. After fermenting and drying, usually cocoa would be exported to Chocolate factories in different parts of the world where it would be turned into chocolate. 

Source: www.chocolatmadagascar.com

However in the case of Chocolat Madagascar,  the fresh cocoa stays in-country where it is crafted into Fine Chocolate at the Chocolaterie Robert factory . This raises the skills of local people, increases the value and ultimately contributes to raising the wealth at origin, rather than overseas: Raisetrade.

Source: www.raisetrade.com

Holy Lama’s

We use Holy Lama’s Spice Drops to help give our energy balls their fresh clean flavours. They contain no preservatives and their philosophy is simple – they create products which are pure, natural, ethical and sustainable.

Holy lama; sustainable; social enterprise; social responsibility; fair-trade
Source: www.holylama.com

The Holy Lama factory in Kerala is recognised as a women’s enterprise, as its workforce is 80% female – predominantly from disadvantaged backgrounds. They source their raw materials locally and pay farmers immediately a fair price. Their workers are paid on an equal pay basis, regardless of gender and they automatically increase their wages annually in line with inflation. The factory itself operates on sustainable principles, producing less than 1% waste during the manufacturing process – and even this goes to provide fuel or cattle feed!

Most impressively, Holy Lama produce Ayurvedic medicine to treat Parkinson’s Disease in the local community, supplying it free of charge as a charitable donation to those who need it.

Mango from Burkina Faso and Baobab from Ghana

We continue to strive for more of our ingredients to come from fairly traded and sustainable sources, so we are excited that we have been able to source Organic mango from Gebana, who work with local farmer co-operatives in Burkina Faso.

Source: www.gebana.ch

Burkina Faso, in West Africa, is one of the world’s poorest countries and ranks 185th out of 188 on the UN Human Development Index. Gebana supports over 3000 farming families, giving them long-term security by training them in organic farming practices which allows them to benefit from higher prices paid for organic fairly-traded goods

Meanwhile, in North-West Ghana, Aduna have been working with over 650 baobab producers in 20 communities as well as supporting an additional 200 women in their processing centre. Similarly to Chocolat Madagascar, this ensures that a greater proportion of the product’s value remains in-country.

Source: www.aduna.com

You will be able to find out more about both of these products in our upcoming ‘Ingredients’ blogs!

Closer to home…

We may only be a young company but we are proud to support projects both locally in Cumbria and further afield. We are directly involved in the Kendal People’s Cafe – an exciting food-waste project that won the award for Community Innovation in the Cumbria Life Food and Drink Awards 2018.

Kendal People’s Café; Food-waste; Social Responsibility; Community;
Kendal People’s Cafe – a ‘pay what you can afford’ food-waste cafe in the Lake District.

We are also proud to have supported the launch of the Matt Campbell 3.16 Resilience Brathay Trust Programme. Masterchef Winner, Matt Campbell was keen to promote healthy eating choices amongst young people and at the launch, we gave out over 600 energy balls to pupils, staff and guests at Matt’s old school, Kirkby Kendal.

Forest Side Chef Martin Frickel, approached us to look at Matts’ Marathon Ball recipe and produce a simplified version that anyone could make at home. We came up with an Apple and Blackberry recipe that was free-from (and could therefore be eaten by anyone); quick and easy to make with the family; could be frozen and taken out for lunchboxes on a daily basis – and most importantly, cheap to produce – £3 for 70 balls!

Dallaglio; rugby; charity; Rugby Works;

We have also started work on a fundraising project with Dallaglio Rugby Works to support mentoring and skills development project with young people who have been excluded from school and are in danger of falling by the wayside. We will be donating 20p from the sale of each pack of Super Balls to the project with a goal of raising £15,000 every year to support a school in the North West..


The Sugar Debate

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Taxing Sugar

Following on from the recent introduction of the sugar levy on soft drinks, the possibility of a sugar tax on foodstuffs has been mooted. I have no qualms about the value of helping the consumer to make healthier choices by using the tax system. However, we already have a tax in place that differentiates between foodstuffs as ‘essential’ and ‘non-essential’. 

Historically, the VAT relief system was established ‘to allow zero-rating for most food and drink which is meant for human consumption, but to tax items of food and drink which might be considered non-essential’. Under this system, biscuits and cakes are considered ‘essential’ but confectionary ‘non-essential’. Ironically this means that  ‘toffee apples are accepted as a zero-rated food’ whether coated in toffee (sugar) or chocolate;

Is it not time to bring  the VAT system up to date so that it reflects our most important health concerns? Rather than introducing a tax that is contradictory – flapjacks are high sugar ‘cakes’ but ‘essential’?? – should we not reform an existing tax which ‘penalises’ ‘non-essential’ products such as protein or energy balls and ‘rewards’ the producers of ‘essential’ cakes and biscuits. 


I don’t dispute the fact that my products contain sugars. However, these sugars are contained within the fruit. At Bakes and Balls, we use high quality, organic fruit – dates, figs and prunes (the only fruit to have a designated health claim for digestion and bone health). The sugars are attached to the fibres in the fruit and so are released more slowly than free sugars helping the consumer to feel fuller for longer; avoiding sugar spikes and the resultant dip and need to snack again.


As discussed at the seminar “Dried Fruit and Public Health” held at The King’s Fund earlier this year, whilst high in sugars, dried fruit also brings other health benefits. Prunes contain Vitamin C – which helps the blood to absorb iron intake Dates and figs are a good source of potassium and magnesium. Currently, a third of the UK population are potassium deficient; significant because low potassium levels are linked to high blood pressure. Figs also contain Vitamins A, E and K; figs and prunes are a source of calcium – essential for good bone health; while dates contain Vitamin B6 and are a source of insoluble fibre which aids digestion. 

Prunes and figs contain soluble fibre, which helps to normalise blood sugar levels. Soluble fibre slows down the rate at which food leaves the stomach and delays the absorption of glucose. Soluble fibre also increases insulin sensitivity and can prove useful in preventing and treating type 2 diabetes. In addition, soluble fibre helps you to feel sated (that satisfied feeling when you sit back and rub your stomach, feeling full after a meal) by slowing the rate at which food leaves the stomach. Therefore you are less inclined to snack. With an impending obesity and diabetes problem, should be not be encouraging people to consume dried fruit rather than ‘let them eat cake’!

Reform VAT

The VAT issue has been the subject of many court cases, predominantly debating the question of whether or not items should be labelled as ‘confectionary’. In 2014, the ‘Snowballs’ tribunal concluded that the chocolate covered marshmallows produced by two Scottish companies were classified as cakes because of ‘the ingredients, the cooking process and the shelf life’. Meanwhile, according to one ruling, flapjacks are cakes because the syrup forms an integral part of the binding process rather than being used as a sweetener; whilst in another it is because “at the inception of VAT, flapjacks were widely accepted as cakes”.

The VAT system has become overly complex and contradictory as it has struggled to keep up with new products coming to the market place and large businesses have fought and won; fought and lost in tribunals seemingly as a result of questioning definitions of cake, biscuit and confectionary. Rather than debate such intricacies, should the focus not be one of refined sugar? Why is it written into law that biscuits and cakes are ‘essential’ foodstuffs when they are invariably items which dieticians (including those on the panel of the recent Sugar Debate in Parliament) accept should be consumed on occasion rather than as the norm. 

What remains unchallenged is the outdated acceptance of cakes and biscuits as ‘essential’ in VAT terms whilst the consumer struggles to make appropriate choices over healthier options. Ultimately, this comes down to price and so when you’re stood at the tills faced with the choices of muffins, cake bars; flapjacks against energy balls or snack bars the latter are automatically 20% more expensive because of the tax system – regardless of the relative costs of the raw ingredients.

Stephen Hall

Founder, Bakes and Balls

Introducing our ingredients…

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All about Baobab – our newest ingredient

Last month, at a food-founders event called ‘Bread and Jam’, held at the Institute of Directors on London’s Pall Mall, I spoke to Andrew Hunt, one of the Founders of Aduna. Andrew sees business as a powerful force for making a positive impact on the world. Having just received our first 20kg bag of this fantastic fruit powder I thought it an apt time to tell you more about it – especially as we have just relaunched our Chocolate Orange Energy Balls as Choc Orange and Baobab!

The Baobab is a tree that grows in Africa, Australia, and the Middle East. In Africa, it is referred to as ‘The Tree of Life’. Traditionally, each and every part of the tree has a part to play – used in food and medicine and to make clothing!

baobab; fruit; antioxidants; vitamin c; potassium; calcium; magnesium

Ethical and sustainable sourcing

We source out Baobab Powder from Aduna because of their ethical and sustainable business model. Aduna source their Baobab Powder from over 650 women producers in a remote area of Ghana. Another 250 are involved in the processing plant. You can find out more about the social impact of the Baobab supply chain by clicking here.

One thing that I didn’t realise is that the baobab fruit dries naturally on the tree! 

baobab fruit; antioxidants; vitamin c; potassium; calcium; magnesium

Nutritional powerhouse

The powder is rich in antioxidants – in fact it contains more than any other fruit, including blueberries! It is especially rich in Vitamin C which helps to strengthen our immune system and fight off diseases and infections. It also helps to release energy at a steady pace, and therefore helps to reduce fatigue.

In addition, Baobab is high in potassium; and is a good source of calcium, magnesium, and protein.

Baobab is approximately 50% fibre, which acts as a prebiotic, helping to maintain healthy bacteria in the gut. Fibre also helps to slow down the release of sugars into the blood stream, which reduces energy spikes and helps to control blood glucose levels.

A 2013 study reported on the high nutrient and polyphenol content of Baobab fruit and their benefit in reducing the glycemic response.

Of course, as with all Bakes and Balls ingredients, it is a totally natural product, without preservatives. As a result, the body is able to absorb the nutrients from the fruit much more readily than supplements.

In addition to all of this, it is a really great tasting product – think sherbet dips taken to the max, but without the sugar!

cacao, orange, energy balls, feel good food, chocolate

Click here to see the products we have available that use Baobab as an ingredient.

Excerpt From: Stephen E Hall. “Bakes and Balls – Our Ingredients and Nutrition.” iBooks.

Addressing nutritional profile concerns of Gluten Free products

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This week Coeliac Society and Innovate UK launched a joint initiative offering grants to joint initiatives between SMEs and Universities to bring about improvements to the lives of those living with Coeliac Disease. One of their three priority areas stood out for me in particular – the quality enhancement of gluten free foods. Coeliac UK state:

“Over the last decade the variety and quality of gluten free products has vastly improved however they continue to be expensive and can have a poorer nutrient profile.”

There is no doubt that the supermarkets and independents have responded to the market, but one of the motivations behind the development of Bakes and Balls products was to offer something with a serious nutritional profile.

Recently, the Howgills Gingerbread Balls were referred to as a “Trendy Vegan Product” by one of the judges of a national awards. This assertion could not be further from the truth. The ingredients of all Bakes and Balls products have been selected because they work to enhance the nutritional intake of whoever is eating them.

howgills' gingerbread. energy balls, feel good food, gluten free, dairy free, vegan, paleoCoeliac UK go on to say:

“There is an ongoing need for further innovation in gluten free staple foods, this could include; novel ingredients, foods with improved nutrient profiles and desired flavour texture characteristics.”

I am delighted to say that Bakes and Balls is ahead of the game here. The likes of Chia Seeds, Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds, Hemp Seeds and Quinoa Flakes are used alongside Tiger Nut Flour and Psyllium Husk. These seeds and flours are packed full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

chocolate, ginger, energy balls, bakes and balls, dairy free, vegan, gluten free, nut free, paleo



Full details can be found on our website, but to give you an idea Linseed  (also known as Flax) is one of the most nutritionally dense foods on the planet. It contains high levels of ALA Omega 3 (different to that in fish oils) which can help to lower the risk of heart disease and hypertension; improve the function of platelets; reduce inflammation and protect the arteries. Linseed is high in soluble fibre traps fat and cholesterol in the gut, so that it cannot be absorbed. It also traps bile, which is made from cholesterol in the gallbladder. The bile is excreted, through the digestive system, forcing the body to make more, which uses up excess cholesterol in the blood. Consequently, cholesterol levels are reduced!

omega 3, flax seeds, linseed, bakes and balls, ingredients,

Linseed also contains high levels of antioxidants, in particular lignans which help to promote hormonal balance and decrease the symptoms of the menopause. Lignans are nutrients that work in a similar way to the oestrogen hormone. The nutrients can alter oestrogen metabolism so that in postmenopausal women, for example, the lignans can cause the body to produce less active forms of oestrogen, and can therefore protect against the growth of tumours.

We use hemp seeds in a number of our products, not because they are a ‘trendy’ headline-grabbing ingredient but because hemp seeds are exceptionally nutritious and rich in healthy fats, protein and various minerals. Although high in fat, they are particularly rich in linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) which may have benefits for skin diseases. It also contains gamma-linolenic acid which is a building block for hormone-like chemicals that help to control inflamation and body temperature and has also helped women suffering from symptoms of PMS.

hemp seeds, nutrition, antioxidants, bakes and balls, ingredients

Studies suggest that because hemp contains fibre, plant-based protein and healthy fats there is a strong chance that it could help reduce the risk of heart disease, The high levels of both soluble and insoluble fibre in hemp seeds help to feed the probiotics in your gut and therefore to support a robust immune system. In addition, because of the perfect fatty acid profile of omega-3 fats and GLA, hemp seed helps naturally balance inflammation levels and strengthen the immune system. A number of reports have shown its ability to fight glioblastoma multiforme (a deadly form of brain cancer); advanced-stage breast cancer and inhibit cancer growth and metastasis, particularly in lung cancer.

It is probably not the right time for Bakes and Balls to apply for one of the Coeliac UK / Innovate UK Grants. I would love, in the future, to work with nutritionalists and academics to further validate our products. In the same way, I look forward, in the future to working with Help for Heroes to develop a range of products to help our Invictus athletes to train harder. In the meantime, I need to focus on the next couple of days – pitching to Sedexo and following up an invitation to supply to Stella Mccartney’s new store on Bond Street. Wish me luck!

All the best,
Stephen Hall
Founder Baker
Bakes and Balls

Happy Treats – you could be in for a surprise treat from Bakes and Balls!

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Yesterday, I left a few people with an unexpected #happy treat. I hope in some way it made a positive difference to their day. It certainly made me stop and think…

So, from now on, every week I aim to send at least one person a #happy treat. There’s no expectation of any response – I just want you to enjoy it…

The treat will depend on what I’m working on during that week. It might be a new product in development; it might be a pack of existing balls!
  jars; fruity; chocolate; spread; curd;Balls, Chocolate, Ginger, Vegan, Gluen-Free
Remember that all of our products are Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free (in production), with no added sugars. However, they are delicious and will help to keep you going through a hectic day or pushing yourself to the limits in the great outdoors!
We are proud to be based in Cumbria – a fantastic foodie-hub. We are also lucky to be based on the edge of the Lake District National Park – a World Heritage Site; but within the Yorkshire Dales National Park! Sedbergh, nestled in the Howgills is a real gem and there are great walks, biking routes and ghyll-scrambling locations in the vicinity as well as some fantastic places to stay – for a coffee and cake; bite to eat or a longer break. Head over to Visit Sedbergh for more details.
Anyway, if you’d like to be a potential recipient, of one of our #happy treats, all I ask is that you like us on the social  media channel(s) of your choice and then head over to our website to sign up and leave your details.
You’ll need to leave your address but we promise not to send you anything in the post other than your #happy treat and won’t pass on your details to anyone else! If you’re happy for us to, we will keep you up to date with developments through an occasional email.
Although we are currently only delivering to the UK through our online store, this offer is open to anyone, anywhere in the world!

I leave you with one last thought: #TreatPeopleWithKindness and they will treat you back!

Love and best wishes,
Stephen Hall
Founder Baker
Bakes and Balls


Local Apples Required for our Blackberries

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No, it’s not a fruity dating service!

The first response to our social media request for local apples in exchange for Bakes and Balls Energy Balls vouchers was that it “…sounds like a slightly dodgy dating service!” Let me explain…

 Apple Day

apple tree. applesFor many years, the family have enjoyed going to the National Trust’s Acorn Bank near Temple Sowerby, Penrith for their annual Apple Day. The best part for me has been having the chance to taste the huge variety of apples grown in the region. There are over 100 varieties grown in Acorn Bank’s orchard alone, with Greenup’s Pippin being one of those with roots dating back to the 1700s . The flavours are tremendous and put to shame the bland and limited range available in the majority of supermarkets.

A Fortuitous Mistakeapple and blackberry

Earlier in the year, when we were testing out drying different fruits I made the mistake that has led to the development of what will become a limited-edition range of energy balls. I was dehydrating some apples (English, of course) and on the tray above decided to dry a puree of blackberries from the freezer. The pulp was spread across the tray, but when the drying process was finished and the lid removed, there was little more than small dark pips stuck to the first tray. On the tray below were some rather interesting (and it turns out, delicious) apple slices speckled with blackberries. I had forgotten to put the solid sheet on before the blackberries and the puree had dripped through to the apples underneath.

The Birth of a New RecipeGrandma, Apple and Blackberry crumble, Apple and blackberry pie

Apple and Blackberry is a classic combination. I remember well the pies that my Grandma used to bake and the hot crumbles that stoked our bodies throughout the winter, courtesy of the stock of fruit in the large chest freezer. It was only natural that I would want to come up with an Apple and Bramble Energy Ball. My love of texture (in case you had not guessed from trying the Howgills’ Gingerbread or Coffee and Mango Balls) meant that it had to be an Apple and Bramble Crumble Ball. I am really excited about working with the different flavours of local heritage apple and combining them with oats (gluten-free, of course) and cinnamon, as well as a few extra surprise ingredients, to create this series of limited-edition balls. In celebrating the variety of apples still available to us this will hopefully inspire a few people to seek out some of the more unusual ones and who knows, maybe even plant their own stock in the garden.

Apples Please…apple peel

If you know of somebody who has surplus apples (in particular any unusual varieties) and lives within an hour’s drive from Sedbergh, please encourage them to get in touch. They will be rewarded with Bakes and Balls Vouchers in exchange. They will also be giving Adam and I the opportunity to compete for the longest Apple Peel!

Hot news

To keep up to date with further news from the Bakes and Balls kitchen and to find out about the launch of our limited edition range of Apple and Bramble Crumble Balls, sign up to the email updates or follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


Sweet potato and ginger bake

Sweet Potato in a Ginger Bake? Why?

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Recently, at the Sedbergh Cycle Festival, a lady approached the Bakes and Balls stand and glanced at the products on offer. Her eyes stopped at the ‘Sweet Potato and Ginger Bakes’. Her hand reached out to the samples and then paused. I encouraged her to try, but she looked up at me and defiantly declared, “I like sweet potato, but no – that’s not right!”

What’s not right, I thought? I am delighted that she likes sweet potato – so do I! I love sweet potato mash and my wife does a marvellous roast sweet potato with our Sunday lunch. Was it the combination of sweet potato and ginger or simply using it in a cake? To me, it makes perfect sense – sweet potato has a natural sweetness and a texture that lends itself perfectly to being used in a bake. The sugars in a sweet potato have a low glycaemic index which is great for diabetics and means they have little impact on the blood sugar levels.

However, the benefits don’t stop there. To start with, one sweet potato contains 35% of your daily dose of Vitamin C and a full dose of Vitamin A. That means that as well as helping to cure your cold, it also helps your immune system and helps prevent heart, lung and kidney problems. Sweet potatoes are high in fibre. We all know that fibre helps to keep you regular, but in addition, it helps to reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Rich in antioxidants (especially polyphenols and Vitamin C) the sweet potato could help your body in the fight against cancer and aging. For someone who has just had a TIA (a mini-stroke) the fact that there is more potassium in sweet potatoes than in bananas came as a surprise. The high potassium levels can also help to reduce muscle cramps and help your guts in digesting food. I would not recommend, however, that the sweet potato and ginger bakes are placed under the eyes before eating! Apparently, sweet potatoes (in particular the purple variety) have anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce the look of puffiness beneath the eyes. I have not tested this out, however, so please do not quote me on this – I would much rather eat them!

Combining sweet potato with ginger makes for a really exciting set of flavours, but then there are the additional benefits of using fresh ginger. The Chinese and Indians have been using ginger to treat a variety of ailments for the last 4,700 years! The key ingredient is gingerol – the oily resin contained in the root. Gingerol acts as a powerful antioxidant and anti- inflammatory. Along with garlic and onions, ginger has the ability to reduce blood-clotting and can therefore help to reduce the chance of strokes and heart disease.

Ginger also contains other antioxidants, including beta-carotene, which the body converts to Vitamin A. I am sure that you will have heard of antioxidants but how many of you understand what they are. In layman’s terms (and having failed O-level Chemistry, I consider myself a layman) antioxidants protect the body by preventing the body from ‘free-radicals’ which cause damage to the cells. Effectively, what they do is stop the free-radicals from causing oxidisation of the cells and therefore reduce the chance of developing chronic illness such as cancer and heart disease.

Considering that these bakes contain no additional sugars; are free from gluten and nuts and contain coconut oil and a range of seeds this really is a healthy alternative worth trying.