Afternoon tea

This is an afternoon tea with a difference because it’s deliberately lighter and healthier. There are no jam and cream laden scones as you’d normally expect from a traditional British tea. This is because I was making a healthy tea for a friend who was recovery from heart surgery.

Sweet treats

I made chocolate beetroot brownies using the recipe from the Fast 800 Recipe Book by Dr Claire Bailey and Justine Pattison (and copied here for convenience). These are sooo delicious – easily as good as the recipe for brownies I normally use. I love that there’s no refined sugar here or saturated fat and you would never know the main ingredient is beetroot. I made a big batch and they froze really well (and tasted just as good once defrosted). For the tea I cut them into small square pieces, trying to make everything look as dainty as possible

In a nod to the creaminess of a traditional tea I made passion fruit pots, also a Fast 800 recipe. This should have included mango but the mango I bought was not ripe enough, so I left it out (but I think it really needed the mango).

As a third sweet item I included lemon drizzle cup cakes (but a lighter version than my normal recipe) using sunflower oil instead of butter. I used Gina D’Acampo’s super light lemon sponge cake recipe but halved the ingredients which made seven cupcakes.


I made prawn and dill sandwiches on wholemeal bread, with Marie Rose sauce (equal quantities of mayonnaise and tomato ketchup, a few dashes of Worcestershire and Tabasco sauce and a squeeze of lemon juice).

Also on wholemeal bread I made salmon and cucumber sandwiches – just flaked salmon with cucumber, no mayonnaise. I cut the crusts off all the sandwiches.

Finally I made chicken and avocado wraps – laying well seasoned chopped chicken and avocado (mashed with a few drops of lemon juice) into tortilla wraps, rolling the wraps carefully before slicing into canapé-sized sections.

I need to work on making my sandwiches neater!

Best china

You need a bit of finesse for an afternoon tea – it’s just not right to drink out of clunky mugs so I dug out some nice china – including a teapot which belonged to my grandmother, and some bone china cups and saucers I inherited from my mum. We drank Earl Grey tea but I also had a choice of Assam and Darjeeling.

Chocolate beetroot brownies

Serves 20


  • 100g coconut oil, plus extra for greasing 
  • 275g cooked beetroot, drained and cut into small chunks 
  • 3 large eggs 
  • 60g cocoa powder 
  • 100g soft pitted dates 
  • 100g wholemeal self-raising flour 
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon 
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda 
  • 75g plain dark chocolate, (around 85% cocoa solids), roughly chopped 


  1. Preheat the oven to 200 deg C/fan 180 deg C/Gas 6. Grease and line the base and sides of a 20cm loose-based square cake tin with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Place the beetroot, eggs, cocoa powder, dates and coconut oil in a food processor and blend until thoroughly combined.You can also blend the ingredients together in a bowl using a stick blender.
  3. Add the flour, cinnamon, a pinch of sea salt and the bicarbonate of soda and blend until well combined. Add an extra tablespoon water to loosen the mixture, if needed. Stir in the chocolate, then spoon into the prepared tin, spreading to the sides. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until risen and just firm to the touch. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out and cut into squares to serve. 
Just out of the oven

Passion fruit pots

  • 10g unsweetened desiccated coconut (I didn’t have this, so used an almond to decorate each pot)
  • 2 passion fruit, halved
  • 1 small ripe mango, peeled, stoned and diced (I didn’t use this I used )
  • Finely grated zest of half a lime
  • 300g coconut milk yoghourt, well chilled


  1. Place the coconut in a small saucepan and toast over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes , stirring regularly. Leave too cool.
  2. Use a teaspoon to scoop the passion fruit out of the shells and place in a bowl. Add the mango (if using) and lime zest and stir well.
  3. Divide this mixture between four tumblers (I used glass containers I saved from buying desserts (I knew they’d come in handy one day). Save some mango for decoration.
  4. Top with the yoghourt, then finish with the toasted coconut and reserved mango (I topped them with a toasted almond).

A light but creamy sweet treat

Lemon cupcakes

  • Zest and juice of half an unwaxed lemon
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 80ml low fat natural yoghourt
  • 75ml sunflower oil
  • 135g self-raising flour
  • 1 large egg


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160C
  2. Place paper cupcake cases in a cupcake or muffin tin.
  3. Pour the lemon juice into a small bowl and mix in 1 tablespoon of sugar. Set aside.
  4. Place the lemon zest in a large bowl and add the remaining sugar with the yogurt, oil, flour and eggs. Use a wooden spoon to mix everything together for 1 minute. Pour the mixture into the cupcake cases.
  5. Transfer to the middle of the oven to bake for 55 minutes or until risen and springy when touched.

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