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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Chia Rhubarb Ginger Muffin Tops

Rhubarb is one of my favorite fruits  vegetables. Yes, it is officially a vegetable, but  I still think of it as a fruit.  I've been looking for it for the past month, but it seems later than I remember this year. Anyhow - I found some this week and so had to make something with it!


I made some chia rhubarb and ginger muffin tops.  Gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free.  The chia seeds add some great omega-3 fats to the muffin too.  You'll be seeing more chia, flax and hemp recipes and posts here, as my Food as Medicine classes next week are all about essential fatty acids.



I made these gluten free, using a GF oat flour, but you could easily substitute for a whole grain flour with gluten, such as spelt or wheat or.....  They will probably rise a little more with a flour with gluten too, so if you try them, send me a photo.

Here is the recipe: Chia Rhubarb Ginger Muffin Tops

Ingredients:
3 tbsp chia seeds
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups GF oat flour (or whole grain flour)
1/2 cup GF rolled oats
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup coconut nectar
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup finely chopped rhubarb (approx 2 - 3 stalks)
1/3 cup raisins (or other dried fruit)
Optional - seeds or nuts or oats to sprinkle for topping



  1. Mix the chia seeds with the water in a jug and set aside while you prepare all the other ingredients
  2. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a muffin tin with liners or spray with coconut oil spray
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and spices and mix.
  4. In a smaller separate bowl, combine the oil, coconut nectar, orange juice and vanilla extract.  Add the thickened chia seed mix and whisk until smooth.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Add the rhubarb and raisins and stir thoroughly.
  6. Spoon the batter into 12 muffin cups. If using, sprinkle the topping on each muffin. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes until springy to the touch.  Cool.



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Good things come in lemon packages

So here is the dessert I have made for this evening's dinner with friends.  I've called it "Good things come in lemon packages".


It is individual lemon sparkle cheesecakes - dairy free, gluten free, refined sugar free along with a couple of pieces of homemade raw lemon chocolate - also dairy free, gluten free and refined sugar free.

Both are small in size, but that's all desserts need to be - a little taste.



The raw lemon chocolate is the one I showed in my blog post yesterday - with dehydrated lemon rind.  It is like a bark but I added a little bird motif to the other side - especially suitable this time of year as the birds are all getting busy and thinking about nest building.



Making the cheesecake was an interesting lesson in portion size. I have made it before as a large cheesecake but this time, as I was making it in little pots I made only a 1/3 of the recipe.  One third of the recipe yielded 10 little pots!  That means the full cheesecake would make 30 servings.  At most, we tend to cut a full cheesecake into 12 pieces - not 30.

I tied on little spoons for the pots of lemon sparkle as I am taking these to a friend's house for dinner and didn't want to be stuck with only large spoons that won't fit inside!  And yes, the 'sparkle' in the lemon sparkle cheesecake? There's a little surprise in the cheesecake that gives it a "sparkle"!  Can't tell you what it is as it will ruin the surprise for this evening!



Next time you make a dessert, think about how much we really need. It's great to have a little something sweet at the end of the meal with friends, but we only need a taste.
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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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Melted Snowman Dessert

I made some little melted snowmen in honor of it not snowing here!

I really like surprises...so this recipe appeals to me in that you serve up a little jar.....


....... and then open it up to find the melted snowman inside




Get it? The two raisins are his eyes, his carrot nose and currants as his buttons....!

Of course you can be elegant and serve this in a shot glass instead



The dessert is a hazelnut cream.  It's rich and full of flavor - which is why you only need a small amount.

Here's the recipe:

1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/8 cup coconut palm sugar
2 teaspoons of grated lemon zest
1 cup non dairy milk ( I used homemade hazelnut milk)
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1 cinnamon stick
(Optional for snowman - 2 raisins, 3 currants, orange sprinkle or carrot triangle)

  1. Toast the hazelnuts in a 350F oven for approx 5 minutes until golden and fragrance.  Transfer them onto to a kitchen towel and rub them in the towel to remove most of their skin.  Let them cool.  (If serving in  a glass, finely chop 1/2 tablespoon for garnish).
  2. Place the remaining skinned hazelnuts, sugar, and lemon zest in a food processor until finely ground into a paste.
  3. Combine the hazelnut mixture with the milk, vanilla seeds, cinnamon stick in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil the reduce the temperature and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it begins to thicken.  Remove the cinnamon stick.
  4. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth.
  5. Pour into small jars and decorate or into shot glasses and sprinkle on chopped hazelnuts.  
  6. Can be served warm, room temperature or chilled.
Don't feel bad eating the snowman...he had melted anyhow ;-D
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Starry, starry delights....

Santa has been busy preparing a few healthy edible gifts for the holiday season.


But I hope you'll be nice Santa, and won't make us wait to see what is inside.  Go on Santa, open up the tin.....

Look at his delight!  Inside are starry, starry delights!


They are healthy squares, decorated with edible gold stars ******


Here's the simple recipe - Oat, walnut, and raisin starry delights:

1/3 cup GF oat flour (or use GF rolled oats and process in a food processor until a flour consistency)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sprinkles - eg edible gold stars

If using rolled oats, make them into flour first in the food processor.

Add all the ingredients into a food processor and process thoroughly. To begin with, it won't look like it will ever come together, but keep processing and eventually it'll form a ball in the processor.  Timing will very depending on the power of your processor will be at least 2 minutes.
Remove from the processor and flatten on parchment paper. Use a rolling pin and roll into a square or rectangle.  Cut into squares with a sharp knife.  This will yield approximately 16 x 1 inch squares.  Decorate or leave plain. Store in the refrigerator.

Arrange in a small tin or box for gifting or enjoy for yourself.


They can last 2 weeks in the fridge or can be frozen.

Gluten free, refined sugar free and dairy free.  You can cut them into bars for larger snacks/cookies or roll them into balls if you prefer.
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Anniversary cake for two - chocolate and ginger

It's our wedding anniversary today so I made a cake for two (it could even be for one, but not today!). Seventeen wonderful years together.

It's only 2 inches diameter by 2 inches high.  A perfect little celebratory cake.



So often one of the issues with eating desserts is that they feed a few and then you still have left overs.  Thus you don't just eat dessert one night as a treat, but you keep eating it to finish it off.  I'm quite taken with the idea of creating desserts for 1 or 2 people so you eat it in one sitting, for an occasion, and then that's your treat done.  Making desserts without eggs means its much easier to make smaller versions as you don't have to try to halve eggs etc.

This cake is chocolate and ginger.  I was inspired by the small cake idea from this German Chocolate Cake for One.   I used Katie's recipe, using a gluten free flour blend, coconut palm sugar instead of sugar and ginger extract instead of vanilla extract.  I baked it in the microwave but I think next time I'll use the oven. I'm not a keen microwave user.  I made a different icing/frosting using coconut cream and walnut butter.


The whole cake is gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free. The sweetener I used throughout was coconut palm sugar, including grinding up the sugar to make a powdered version for the frosting.

It's yummy and cute!  And the icing/frosting is something I will definitely be using frequently.  It's delicious and thick and creamy and fluffy and just wonderful.  I'll be trying some different flavorings in it too - thinking it would go well in my cream puffs.....  I'll definitely be using it in my "food as medicine" classes next week.  It lasts a while in the fridge too and doesn't deflate.  A great dairy free whipped topping.

So this cake is for you, hubby dear. Happy anniversary xxxxxx.  Nearly as cute as you :-D
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Travel Snacks - Ginger cashews

Following on from yesterday's Sweetsalt crunch recipe for my airplane snack - today I finished dehydrating some ginger cashews.


Here is the recipe:

2 cups of whole cashews - soaked in water for 1 hour then rinsed and drained
1/4 cup powdered and ground coconut palm sugar
1 tablespoon grated ginger root
1/2 tablespoon vanilla essence/extract
1 teaspoon salt

Mix the ingredients together then dehydrate at 118 degrees F for 6-8 hours.

I actually soaked my cashew for about 4 hours and then it took ages to dehydrate them to a crunchy texture again, so I'd recommend a brief soak and then the dehydrating doesn't take so long. The idea of the soak is so that the moisture in the nuts enables the other ingredients to stick to the cashew.

I love everything ginger, so couldn't help but enjoy these.  But it is interesting to have the vanilla flavor along with the ginger and like the sweetsalt crunch - a combination of sweet and savory.  The vanilla is actually a more predominant flavor than the ginger, so I may add more ginger next time.


You can picture me on the plane, flying for hours, nibbling away at my snacks!!!!  I won't be able to sleep for my perky taste buds!
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Hazlenut truffles

I've been making truffles, as I mentioned in my triple bean truffle post.   By the way, the answer to what three beans were used in the triple bean truffle is coffee bean, cocao bean and black beans!......(but I don't tell anyone about the black beans as it puts them off)!  This time, I was thinking about Ferrero Rocher chocolates and decided to make a hazelnut truffle without dairy, refined sugar or gluten/wheat.


The truffles were (yes, they are no longer!) basically a whole hazelnut surrounded by a creamy delight (ground hazelnuts, coconut milk, raw cocao powder) and the rolled in more ground hazelnuts.


I found them to be very satisfying  - which is why they weren't around for long. I omitted the crispy crunchy outer layer that a Ferrero Rocher has but otherwise, they were pretty similar.

A good occasional treat that hit the spot!
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Triple bean truffle

I've been working on a recipe for a truffle that is healthy.  This one is gluten free, dairy free, and refined sugar free.

It's called "triple bean truffle" and your job is to guess the three beans that I use in the recipe!




I will be demonstrating a bite size morsel, probably not this one but something else at an event this month at Ceres Community Project in Sebastopol.

The event is the Second Annual Cancer Journey: Nuturing ourselves, Loving ourselves.  The keynote speaker is Michael Lerner, the President and Cofounder of Commonweal, who will present on "Intentional Healing with Cancer".


I heard Michael a couple of weeks ago at the Annie Appleseed conference and cannot recommend him highly enough.  His talk there was wonderful, so whether you have cancer or not, I urge you to come and hear him talk at this event.  There is lots more going on at the event too so check out the info page and sign up.  Hope to see you there.
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The language of flowers - Part II

Following from yesterday's blog post about my book club gathering to discuss "The language of flowers" by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, you may have guessed it, but the other flower themed dessert I made was  a  roulade. Yes, it's been nearly two weeks since I've made a roulade!!! Had to get one in sometime!  This one was a rose and strawberry roulade.



As usual the dessert is refined sugar free, gluten free and dairy free. The rose flavoring comes from rose water added to the cream (whipped coconut cream).  Also in the cream are some strawberries and some chewy freeze dried strawberries from my sister.  They add a lovely texture to it.

Of course, it had to be decorated with edible rose petals.


The meaning of roses in the language of flowers varies depending on the color of the rose.

Burgundy rose - unconscious beauty
Moss rose - confession of love
Orange rose - fascination
Pale peach rose - modesty
Pink rose - grace
Purple rose - enchantment
Red rose - love
White rose - a heart unaquainted with love
Yellow rose - infidelity.

I chose a pink rose - for grace.



We had a great discussion about the book and flowers and foster care and many other things.  I made each of them a tied little bunch of flowers to take home with them.  The flowers I chose from the garden were:
sedum - for tranquility
sage - for good health and long life
marjoram - for blushes - with the hope that they feel young enough to still blush!

Click here for a printer friendly recipe for Rose Roulade
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Walnut Roulade

Yes, I'm definitely in a roulade phase! This is the third type of roulade I've made in the last few weeks. This was for an event we held on Sunday.  It is refined-sugar free, gluten free and dairy free.


I was really pleased with how it came out.  It is made with just eggs, lemon juice, xylitol* and walnuts.  Of course, I then decorated it with fresh raspberries and then drizzled a little fruit-sweetened, sugar free raw chocolate and grated lemon zest on top.

It was eaten up very quickly, but I did manage a little slice, only to check how it tasted, of course!


*Xylitol is a natural sweetener, a sugar alcohol used as a substitute for sugar.  I like it and it seems to work well.  It is a cup for cup replacement for table sugar, so it's easy to substitute in recipes.  It is also granulated like sugar but you can grind it up finer, as necessary.

Xylitol is found in the fibers of many fruits and vegetables and can be extracted from various berries, oats, mushrooms, as well as fibrous materials such as corn husks and birch.  Unlike other sweeteners, xylitol is actively beneficial for dental health, reducing caries to a third in regular use and it has also been shown to reduce the incidence of ear infections.


It has a much lower glycemic index than sugar - GI 7 for xylitol vs GI 80 for sugar, so it a great low calorie sugar substitute for diabetics  that doesn't cause a spike in blood glucose levels.

I don't notice any difference in taste at all between it and sugar, but I find it takes a little long to dissolve when I am cooking with it, for example if beating it with eggs, it stays granular longer so I just whisk it a little longer.

Have you ever used it? What are your thoughts?  If not, give it a go. I think you'll like it.
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