Cherry Walnut squares with chocolate drizzle

In the cooking park of my classes last week, I wanted to make a nice treat that included some omega 3 fatty acids....so I adapted a recipe I got from Dr Fuhrman's latest cookbook " Eat to Live Cookbook".   I definitely recommend the book.  I often use his recipes.



He used equal amounts of walnuts and almonds in his recipe (1 cup of each) , but I tried it just with walnuts.   You get a much higher ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fats if you use all walnuts, but choose for yourself.  Also, I love Montmorency dried cherries, so included those instead of goji berries.

What I love about these squares is that they live in the freezer and you just pull them out as you want one. They don't get too hard so you can eat them straight out of the freezer - or else you could warm them or let them defrost - but I doubt if you can resist it that long!


Its a tasty treat with omega 3 fats, good soluble fiber from oats, anthocyanins and antioxidants from the cherries, along with melatonin to help sleep/circadian rhythm, dates and banana for sweetness instead of refined sugar and just a little drizzle of  good quality chocolate - that makes it feel quite decadent.

Here's my recipe:

1 1/2 cups old fashioned/rolled oats (I used gluten free)
2 cups walnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup dates, pitted
1/2 cup water
1 banana
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cherries (I used Eden's Montmorency cherries but any dried fruit/berry will work)
1 ounce >75% cocoa dark chocolate (I used Equal Exchange Panama Extra Dark 80% chocolate)

  • In a blender or processor, blend the oats until they look like flour.  Empty into a mixing bowl.  
  • Repeat with the walnuts, but don't over-process or they will start to release their oils and turn into nut butter.  Add to the bowl with the oat flour.
  • Put the dates and water into a high speed blender and process until it forms a slurry.  Add the banana and continue to blend until smooth and not large pieces of dates are evident.
  • Add the date mixture to the oats and walnuts and mix well.  Stir in the vanilla and cherries.

  • Line a 8 inch square cake pan with foil or parchment - with overhang so you can easily pull the whole thing out.  Put the dough into the pan and spread evenly.  Smooth the top by using a knife or back of a spoon, dipped in water.
  • Place in the freezer for approx 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, place the chocolate, broken into pieces, in a small bowl, and set over a larger bowl of hot water to melt the chocolate. Take care not to get water into the chocolate.
  • When the chocolate has fully melted, remove the dough from the freezer and lift it out whole on the parchment paper.  Cut the block into 36 small squares ( you can do larger if you like, but you'll find just one small square quite satisfying).  Don't lift them off the parchment - keep them in place.
  • Using the small spoon, drizzle the melted chocolate over the whole block of the dough in diagonal lines.
  • Return to the freezer, wrapped in the parchment or place in a container and store in the freezer, for a guilt free snack.  

The recipe is gluten free (if you use gluten free rolled oats), oil free, refined sugar free, vegan and tastes like a nice treat.   Health benefits come from the omega 3 fatty acids, the fiber, anthocyanins, cinnamon,  cocoa.......  
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Overnight oat berry breakfast parfait



While yesterday's OOO-breakfast is yummy - it is quite sweet, even though it has no added sugar - but the sweetness comes from the bananas and mango.  So I made this version of a 'pretty parfait' - OOBBP, using berries instead and changing the oats a little. If you have a sweeter tooth - you can still use this recipe but go for all strawberries - but I like a bit of tartness so added cranberries as well.


Here's the recipe: 3 servings

1/2 cup strawberries
1/2 cup cranberries (can be frozen)
1 cup gluten free oats
1 cup dairy free milk
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened organic apple sauce

Puree the strawberries and cranberries together until smooth in a food processor.

Place the oats, chia seeds, milk, vanilla and cinnamon in a bowl and stir together.  Add the apple sauce and mix thoroughly.

To assemble the parfait, divide approx. half of the oat mixture between three serving glasses/bowls.  Add a layer of strawberry/cranberry puree using approx. half of the puree.  Add the remainder of the oat mixture to make a third layer, and finally top with the remainder of the strawberry/cranberry mixture.  Top with a sprinkle of oats and chia seeds. I also added a dehydrated apple ring.



Put in the fridge overnight, during which time the oats will soften and thicken.  This will last for 3 days....if you can stop yourself eating them for lunch as well - which is what I did!

Again, this breakfast is giving you a good dose of omega 3 fatty acids from the chia seeds - and I used flax milk as well. I have found a flax milk I really like, called Good Karma Flax milk - only 25 calories  and 1200 mg omega 3 per cup serving.


You can use fresh or frozen fruit for this - and any berries that you like. I think it would be lovely with blackberries and raspberries together.  Or strawberries with cooked rhubarb - yum!

Which do you think is prettier? The mango/banana or the berry parfait?  I'd go with the berry - love that bright red coloring with the neutral colored oats.  
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Spicing things up

I held two spice classes this week for my food as medicine groups, looking at what benefits certain spices have to our health and how we can incorporate them into our daily lives.

Photo From Wikimedia commons

As well as tasting individual spices, we created a variety of blends from different countries and then tasted them in either applesauce, butternut squash or sweet potato - as vehicles for the spice, so you could get the true flavors.

Tasting stations at the ready!

The key spices we focused on were

  • cinnamon - great for diabetes
  • turmeric - anti-cancer and anti- inflammatory activity
  • black cumin - immune system boosting
  • cloves - toothache, mosquito repellent, anti-infection
  • cocoa - great source of flavonols which increase nitric oxide production, and help heart health
  • Plus we looked at those spices that can affect the Cancer "Master Switch" - NFkB
The blends we made we:
  • Chai tea - India - we actually made a tea-less version
  • La Kama from North Africa
  • Garam Masala - India
  • Golden Milk -India
  • Panch Phoron - India
  • Chinese five spice - China
  • Colombo Powder - Latin America
  • Quatre Epices - France
  • Hot Chocolate - Mexican
We then ended up with a chocolate tasting of 6 chocolates with cocoa contents of >75%.  I'll tell you more about that another day!


It was a great class.  People really started to focus on tasting carefully and identifying different flavor and whether spices predominated or harmonized. 
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Spice Cake

For Christmas Day, I made myself a spice cake instead of having a rich Christmas pudding or cake.  I've made it since too - as I really like the recipe.  It's only small so you don't end up eating it every day for a week as desserts are meant to be treats!

It's gluten free (using GF oat flour), has no refined sugar (using low glycemic load coconut nectar instead), fat free (using applesauce instead), dairy free (using homemade almond milk instead) and full of lovely anti-oxidant spices.

I made it in a small half dome cake tin - so it looked a little like an English Christmas pudding.  You can, of course, add frosting/icing - but I like the spices so don't add anything.

If you don't have a half dome tin, bake it in muffin tins or a small square tin.

It was adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie's recipe for Egg Nog Spice cake.


Here's the recipe:

1/2 cup GF oat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tablespoon coconut nectar
2 tablespoons almond milk or other nut milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened organic applesauce
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1/4 cup organic raisins

Combine all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Mix well.
In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients, then pour the dry into the wet.
Stir until just combined, then pour in your selected baking tin.
Cook at 350 F for 20 - 25 minutes, depending on the tin.
Remove, let cool if you can - and enjoy.

You'll also enjoy the lovely smell it gives to your home.
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Tastiest food of the week - Chai fudge

I've never had anything "chai" before.....mainly because Chai normally has something to do with  tea and dairy milk - neither of which I like!!! But when I read a recipe for chai fudge it sounded so good with all those spices in it, that I had to give it a try.  It was a friend's birthday so it seemed like a good reason to make a treat for her.


The fudge is gluten free, refined sugar free and dairy free - and raw, so keeps those wonderful nutrients of the raw cacao bean.  There is homemade almond milk in it, plus cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.  It really is the spices that make it, oh, and the chocolate!!!

It was a little bit squishier than you would normally think of for fudge and in fact it turned out to be a lovely thick dipping fudge for some dried apples I had...but for my friend's birthday, I rolled it in crushed pecans so you could eat it without getting your fingers dirty!


The texture is divine!  So smooth and creamy yet light and kind of fluffy in a way.... I wish you could try some!

Then when I had a friend over for dinner this week, I used the same fudge inside some gluten free profiteroles I made!

I will have to experiment more with this combination of chocolate and spices.  Definitely my tastiest food of the week!...maybe month.....maybe.....
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Quince spice balls

With my vast quantity of quince sauce (see yesterday's post!), I thought I'd make some yummy quince balls today, with autumnal spices.


Here's the recipe.  Instead of quince, you can use any pureed fruit, such as apple sauce, or pumpkin puree or pear puree...but when you have a tree full of quince, you use quince puree!

Quince spice balls
Ingredients: - makes 20 balls

8 dates, pitted
3/4 cup raw walnuts
1/4 cup unsweetened fruit puree
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash ground cloves
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Add the pitted dates to a processor and process for a minute or two.  Add the walnuts and process again.  Add the fruit and spices and mix again.  Finally add the coconut and mix thoroughly. At this stage you could also add one of the following optional extras, stirring in by hand, rather than processing. I didn't - and just used the above ingredients.

Optional extras:
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 goji berries

Use a small cookie scoop to scoop the mixture into approximately 20 balls. If it is too sticky, add some more nuts or coconut. If it's too crumbly, add a little more puree.

The balls can be rolled in additional coconut or crushed walnuts.

Place in the refrigerator until chilled and a little firmer.  They will keep for a week, chilled.


The spicy flavors are what make these balls.  Spices are powerful foods and too often neglected in cooking.  When using spices, a combination tends to work better than an individual spice.



The health benefits of cinnamon include:

  • 1/2 teaspoon a day can lower LDL cholesterol
  • cinnamon lowers blood sugar levels and increases insulin production in the body
  • it has anti-fungal properties
  • it has anti-clotting effects on the blood
  • cinnamon added to food is a natural food preservative
  • just smelling cinnamon boosts cognitive function and memory
  • cinnamon is a natural remedy for headaches and migraines


The health benefits of cloves include:

  • cloves contain eugenol which has been seen to be effective in dentistry as a mild anesthetic as well as an anti-bacterial agent
  • eugenol is also anti-inflammatory and a great addition to an anti-inflammatory diet
  • cloves are an excellent source of manganese, omega-3 fatty acids, and very high levels of anti-oxidants


The health benefits of nutmeg include:
  • can have a blood pressure lowering effect
  • can soothe an upset stomach and stop diarrhea
  • can be stimulating to the brain and improve mental function
Culinary spices are also important with cancer as they can inhibit the "master switch" for cancer genes. They do this by blocking a signaling molecule called NF-kappa beta. NF-kB makes cancer cells resistant to treatment or prompts them to behave in a more aggressive manner, so using spices to turn off this molecule can be powerful in cancer treatment.  

Pharmaceutical companies are in the process of developing drugs that are effective NFkB inhibitors, but nature has supplied us with spices that do the same thing.  So look in your spice cupboard and spice up your life.

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Food Facts

Add some cinnamon to your foods!


As little as 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon powder added to your morning oatmeal or cereal not only seems to reduce blood sugar levels, but appears to lower blood cholesterol levels too.  Some of cinnamon's helpful effects are due to polyphenol polymers in the spice that have an insulin like action.

Cinnamon is a warming spice and can also ease digestive problems.  Before you go to bed, try making a warm cinnamon almond milk drink to calm you down and help you sleep. And remember, cinnamon doesn't only have to be used for sweet dishes, try it on starchy foods too, like pumpkin, squash, and brown rice and in stews.

A. Khan et al., "Cinnamon Improves Glucose and Lipids of People with Type 2 Diabetes", Diabetes Care 26 (2003): 3215-8

R.A Anderson et al. "Isolation and Characterization of Polyphenol Type-A Polymers from Cinnamon with Insulin-Like Biological Activity", Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 52 (2004): 65- 70
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