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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Healthy Cooking for children

After posting Jamie Oliver's TED talk on the blog last week, I had a comment back from Jennifer that said:

"This video clip is so moving. Thank you for it, Ruth. What would be the 10 meals that you would teach children to cook that would save their lives?" 


I felt the answer deserved more than just a comment back and so here are some of my suggestions. Remember, children naturally love healthful foods. Their genetic makeup is designed to consume nature's bounty without any coaxing or effort; they naturally like fruit and vegetables.  The following aren't full meals necessarily as salads can be added for appetizers and fruit for dessert etc, but they give you some ideas.

Breakfasts: I would definitely teach the children about healthy green smoothies, especially as it's an easy way to get green vegetables in us at breakfast time.  To begin with, it's important to not go too heavy on the strong flavored green leafy vegetables until they get used to the green taste, so adding more fruit for the first week or so helps, for example a banana or a couple of dates. I make my smoothies with only fruit and vegetables - no milk or yoghurt or anything else.

Photo by jules:stonesoup

1.Mango spinach smoothie.  A bag of frozen mango and a few handfuls of spinach blended up together, with a little water to get the consistency that you want.
2. Applesauce smoothie - 3 apples, a banana, a bunch of parsley and some root ginger and water.
3.Lettuce smoothie - 3 cups of lettuce, 2 pears,half a pint of blueberries and water.

Lunches:  Often school lunches include processed meats and cheese, but there are many other healthy meals like soups and salads or cold left overs that kids can take in attractive containers to school.


4. Raw almond nut butter sandwich on whole grain bread, plus orange or apple slices.
5. Whole wheat pita bread pocket filled with hummus, salad and nut/fruit dressing and some pineapple or seasonal fruit.
6. Carrot cream soup made with carrots, zucchini, onions etc and raw cashews for the creaminess. Kids often like soups cold so they can take it as is or warmed and in a thermos.

Dinners: Dinners a typically a good meal to start with a salad with some beans, mushrooms, onions, seeds, nuts and berries.  The following are suggestions after the salad or to accompany the salad.


7. California Creamed Kale.  Kale is such a high-nutrient green vegetable that you can add to soups or serve chopped.  In this recipe, the kale is lightly steamed and then served with a soy milk and cashew cream
8. Healthy potato fries.  Potatoes, cut into fries,  are mixed in apple juice and left for 5 minutes, then the juice drained and they are baked in the oven for about 20 minutes.
9. Pita-bread pizza.  Using whole wheat pita, no salt tomato sauce, mushrooms, broccoli, onions and soy cheese.
10. Squash Fantasia - Baked dish made with apricots, raisins, orange juice, butternut squash, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

Small portions of organic, white meat or eggs can be added to any of these - using meat more as a condiment or flavoring rather than the focus of the meal.

And not forgetting Dessert - how about non-dairy ice cream - made by freezing bananas and then when frozen, blending them in a high powered blender. Yummy on it's own, but even better when other fruit is added to the blender too, like strawberries or raspberries or blueberries or else almond butter, or cocoa or......  Tastes like soft scoop ice cream.



Gosh, this could go on for ever, but I hope this gives some ideas.  What would you suggest? What are your kids favorites?

If you are looking for more information on how healthy eating for kids can protect  them  from diseases, check out Dr Fuhrman's book "Disease-proof your child - Feeding kids right".
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Harvard's Meat and Mortality Study

Last week, the Harvard Health Professionals Follow-up Study  (22 year study of 37,698 men) and the Harvard Nurses' Health Study (28 year study of 83,644 women) concluded that meat consumption is associated with living a significantly shorter life, through increased cancer mortality, increased heart disease mortality and increased overall mortality.

Photo by www.WATTAgNet.com

A combined 23,926 deaths were documented in the two studies, of which, 5,910 were from cardiovascular disease and 9,464 were from cancer.  Regular consumption of red meat, particularly processed red meat, was associated with increased mortality risk.  One daily serving of unprocessed red meat was associated with a 13% increased risk of mortality, and one daily service of processed meat (i.e. one hot dog or two slices of bacon) was associated with a 20% increased risk.

Replacing one serving of total red meat with one serving of a healthy protein source was associated with the following lower mortality risks: 7% for fish, 14% for poultry, 19% for nuts, 10% for legumes, 10% for low-fat dairy products, and 14% for whole grains.

Photo by steffenz

For more on this study, check out Dr Michael Greger's video and Dr Fuhrman's blog post, which also brings up the environmental issues related to eating meat, from Dean Ornish's commentary on the study.
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