Posts tagged dates
Chocolate Avocado Pudding (with medicinal mushrooms!)

I have been adding medicinal mushroom powder to everything recently- well mainly anything chocolatey as the colour and flavours are perfect masked!

I bought a selection of organic medicinal mushroom powders from here and mixed them together into one blend tub which I keep in the fridge. I like to have a teaspoon a day in a chocolatey dessert or as hot drink with some cocoa and/or vanilla bean.

medicinal mushroom powder ready to mix into chocolatey porridge

medicinal mushroom powder ready to mix into chocolatey porridge

There are many reported benefits of medicinal mushrooms... I was first intrigued by the articles I read up on how mushrooms could help with focus (something I really struggle with as my creative brain fires off on all tangents!) I had also been aware of them at many health food shows but hadn't really explored them at that point. 

There are estimated to be over 5 million different species of mushrooms, yet only 270 are currently classified as ‘medicinal’ with their potent anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety and immune-enhancing qualities. Some of the most popular are reishi, chaga and cordyceps- which are the three types I have.

This pudding recipe is a spin on a classic avocado chocolate pudding, and in putting this post together I realised I didn't actually have any other form of avocado pudding on this blog - every vegan food blogger has an avocado pudding!! ;-) (Now I do too!)

This recipe serves one (or two smaller servings), but I have also tried it with great success by multiplying and making a huge batch of pudding mix then freezing in muffin cups- perfect pudding portions at the ready!

You could mix other mild favoured superfood powders in if your preferred- such as maca or baobab or leave them out all together.

Bonus- this recipe only takes two minutes to blend up!

Recipe: Chocolate Avocado Pudding With Medicinal Mushrooms

Recipe: Chocolate Avocado Pudding with medicinal mushrooms

Serves 1-2

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium ripe avocado

  • 1/2 cup medjool dates (approx 3-4)

  • 3 tbs raw cacao (or cocoa powder)

  • 1 heaped tsp cashew or macadamia butter*

  • 1/2 cup water*

  • 1/2 - 1 tsp medicinal mushroom powder (optional)

  • Tiny pinch of sea salt

  • Approx. 1 tsp maple syrup - only if needed

* You could also substitute the nut butter and water with 1/2 cup coconut milk.

Method:

Blitz all together in a small food processor/blender until super smooth. Taste and add a tiny drop of maple syrup if extra sweetness is desired. Spoon into a serving bowl and allow to chill a little to set if desired. 

I served mine with crushed frozen raspberry pieces and desiccated coconut. You could also add an extra layer of fruit at the bottom of the serving bowl.

Recipe: Chocolate Avocado Pudding With Medicinal Mushrooms

 

 

 

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Dates... ideal food or sugar overload?

I happened to spot this article below in the Mail On Sunday yesterday. It caught my attention in large part because I eat these types of bars and make my own, and I have no problem with them. In addition, my healthy whole food business Wholeplus relies heavily on dates as a source of sweetness and main ingredient in the 'Toppers' product.

Therefore I felt the need to address the issue and provide balance.

The nutritionalist commenting in the article makes largely the same criticism against every single product shown. It's all comes down to the dates.

Her comments such as: "this is massively high in sugar, not even toffee has that much" frustrate me as it shows no distinction between TYPES of sugar.

She does however have some valid points in relation to refined sugars sneakily covered up under different names such as 'organic raw cane sugar' and also pointing out that isolated proteins are not as beneficial as a whole food source. These points I totally agree with but here i'm focussing more specifically on the dates.

Something that is not highlighted at all in this article yet I think it very important is the psychological aspect of these bars. For me a wholefood date based 'chocolate bar' is leaps and bounds ahead of your regular chocolate bar. Yes I agree they're not low in calories and shouldn't be eaten in large quantities, but as a treat in place of refined chocolate or candy… To me they are the perfect solution.

So many people are becoming so much more aware of the major health issues surrounding refined sugary products and are looking for better yet tasty alternatives, so how is an article like this helping? People are so confused already when it comes to food choices, and I can almost hear people throwing there arms up in despair and thinking:

'Well now I haven't a clue what I'm supposed to do, I may as well just carry on eating chocolate bars after all'.

One downside I do sometimes see and one I help clients get a clearer persecutive on when they transition to wholefood treats is that there is the risk of having have the misguided conception that 'they are healthy so I can eat as many as I want!' Whilst they are indeed a much healthier alternative to refined chocolate or sweets, they still shouldn't eaten in excess. They should be the equivalent treat. Treat them as such as you will not go far wrong. In my experience bars like this are often more satiating anyway- win win!

Focus on the whole foods. Dates ARE whole foods!

This is a great 90 second video from Nutrition Facts to have a little listen to...

As One green Planet also cites this interesting study:

"One cup of dates has around 29 mg of fructose and a high glycemic index, which can increase blood sugar levels significantly. So, why do many people who choose to eliminate excess sugars from their lifestyle still consume dates? Well, it seems that dates are naturally rich in nutrition despite being rich in fructose, so there’s a trade-off. Some even consider dates the most ideal food.

Dates are whole foods, but, by weight, they are 80 percent pure sugar. To understand date sugar from the whole food, Israeli scientists took a bunch of people, stuffed them full of dates for a month and measured what happened: they determined that their subjects have no adverse effects on blood sugar or weight, and they had beneficial improvements in triglycerides and antioxidant stress levels."

So in summary, whilst not sugar-free, in my opinion dates can provide the optimum choice in assisting your efforts to reduce your sugar intake. What you really want to focus on is reducing (or omitting) artificial and refined sugars from your diet, and not worry about the natural sugars in whole dates.

I'd love to hear your own thoughts. Do you buy these bars? Do you make your own? How do you feel about the sugar in these types of products in relation to refined sweet treats?


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Date and walnut butters... seriously addictive!!

I have made both versions of this addictive 'butter' twice now... the second time was supposed to be given as a gift to friend. Ummmm.... that didn't quite happen. A spoon and my mouth happened ;-/

walnut butter 3a.jpg

Oh well... there is always another time (my friend got another gift instead- in case you were wondering!)

So, these 'butters' are seriously addictive.

Seriously.

And they take barely any tip to whip up. 

Winner!

They tickle the 'sweet' tastebuds without being overly so, the delicate rich flavours of the toasted walnuts are beautifully complimented with the dates. The chocolate version gives you your chocolate hit, again without taking you to sugar overload. Being so dense in nuts, a spoonful will be enough to hit the spot. I guess in many ways you have a kind of 'trail mix in a pot'.

I originally got the idea for semi-sweet nut butter spreads here on Ricki Heller's site, she uses purely stevia as a sweetener as dates are a no go for her, but I loved the ideas and options she suggested, so I went to have a play and a tweak myself.

I spread these butters on crackers, sandwiched between cookies, stirred through ice cream, blitzed into a milkshake. The list is pretty much endless- though I will admit I mostly ate it straight from the spoon. I may need to learn a little self control.

Nut butter... sweet or savoury? How do you eat yours?

I have loads more 'nut butter' recipes currently under creation... I am in the midst of creating yet another free book for the Real Food Source, and this one is dedicated to nut butters! We hope to release in in the next month... I will keep you posted!

walnut butter 5a.jpg

Recipe: Date and walnut butters

Each makes 2 smallish jars

Ingredients- The 'Regular'

  • 2 cups heaped walnuts- lightly toasted
  • Pinch sea salt
  • ½ cup dates
  • 1 tbs coconut oil

Ingredients- The 'Chocolate'

  • 2 cups heaped walnuts- lightly toasted
  • Pinch salt
  • ½ cup dates
  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • 2 tbs raw cocoa powder
  • 2 tbs raw cacao nibs
  • few drops stevia if extra sweetness desired

Method:

Roast the walnuts for about 5 minutes- you want them to be lightly toasted, make sure there are no burnt bits as it will impair the favour.

Blend all the ingredients together until smooth and easily spreadable, stirring cacao nibs through last (if using)

These will store in a jar on the counter for a few weeks- mine didn't last longer than a week (and that's pushing it!)

walnut butter 1a.jpg
walnut butter 2a.jpg

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Goji coconut balls

I've never been particularly big on goji's. Of course I was aware of their 'superfood' acclaim but I was always a bit 'meh about including them in my diet .  However I've been superfooding it up much more of late, with the introduction of pretty much daily green smoothies, my course lectures at IIN and also the fact the the Real Food Source have added them to their shop gave me the obvious means to begin adding them more frequently in to my meals and snacks.

goji balls 1.jpg

A few key findings about goji's:

  • They are high in antioxidants, specifically the carotenoids (like beta-carotene) and zeaxanthin (compound that absorbs blue light and helps protect the eyes).
  • The antioxidants in the berries are thought to help fight off free radicals in the body.
  • Goji Berries have about 20 different vitamins and minerals, making it one of the most nutritionally beneficial foods available.
  • They have 18 different amino acids.
  • They have been used for many years in teas, juices and tinctures to treat ailments naturally.

My Wholeplus food range features 'Toppers' created as a natural sweet sprinkle topping for breakfasts, desserts and snacks of all sorts. One of the flavours is Vanilla Goji Spice, and when blending up a big batch one day, I had the urge to smoosh some of the sprinkles together into a ball as a little afternoon treat, and voila... a gorgeous goji berry ball. I rolled in a few extra whole goji's for good measure. You could also roll in some extra coconut if you fancy too.

goji 1.jpg

 

Recipe: Goji coconut balls

  • 250g dates
  • 2 tsp vanilla powder
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tbs maca
  • 80-100g coconut
  • 50g goji berries (plus extra to roll in if desired)

Method:

Grind dates with spices and half coconut until sticky and coarse. Add remaining coconut and gojis and pulse until coasre and chunky.  

The mixture should still be sticky enough to roll into balls (stickiness will depend onto moisture content of the dates to start with). Roll the balls in extra coconut or gojis if desired. 

goji balls 2a.jpg
goji balls 3a.jpg
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CADA...zing!

This recipe is not my own discovery. In the world of Thermomix users it’s a well known concoction, with each of the initials corresponding to each of the ingredients. I decided to add some ‘zing’ with orange, cinnamon and cacao nibs and turned it into a creamy breakfast yoghurt bowl!

This is a super simple recipe. Great for breakfast or as a refreshing but filling snack. Like most of my favourite recipes this one is endlessly versatile...change up the nuts and fruits to suit your taste or what you have to hand. The fresh coconut is a must, and this is one of the only recipes I keep fresh coconut to hand for. I also use dates for their versatility and subtle sweetness but other dried fruits could be used.

I think what I actually love most about this recipe is it’s ‘what you see is what you get’ philosohy. All the ingredients are still visible in their original form, blitzed a little and mixed. Keep it nice and chunky for great texture.

Recipe: CADA...zing!

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • Approx. ¼ cup chunks of fresh coconut

  • 1 small apple- quartered and cored*

  • 4-5 small dates (I used deglet nor)

  • ¼ cup whole almonds

Optional extras…

  • 1 small orange

  • ½ cup vegan yoghurt

  • 1 tsp orange zest

  • Cacao nibs

  • Cinnamon

Method

Prepare the CADA ingredients and add to the Thermomix bowl, or other high power food processor and pulse together until chunky.

To serve, layer up the orange segments into the bottom of a small bowl, top with yoghurt, add the CADA mix and then garnish with zest, cacao nibs and cinnamon as desired.

*add a splash of fresh lemon if not serving immediately to prevent from browning. CADA mix will store in the fridge for a few days.

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Spiced Apple Pancakes With Date & Walnut

Sometimes (usually at weekends) I wake up in pancake mode!

Today was one of those days.

My typical weekday breakfast oats consist of a grated apple mixed into milky oats with raisins, cinnamon and seeds or nuts sprinkled over a dollop of soy yoghurt on the top.

Well, this is simply my breakfast in pancake form with dates instead of raisins and walnuts as the perfect compliment. On their own I am not a huge walnut fan…but teamed with dates or maple syrup then I’m sold. You could use either date syrup or maple syrup in this recipe, I used maple syrup and then added the chopped dates to the batter.

These are thick moist pancakes and make for a pretty filing brunch. Believe me you really won’t need to be snacking again before lunch…particularly if like me these form part of a lazy morning, with brunch!

Saturday tends to be my chill-out catch up day, anything goes and I have no particular timetable or commitments. However, that said I do like to have felt that I ‘fitted a lot in’ to my day. I’ve said before that I’m not really very good at lazy days however hard I try! But the concept of lazy day pancakes sets me in the weekend mood, they take the healthy vibe and tweak it into a little indulgence. Perfect!

If you are a fan of pancake brunch (or indeed pancake dessert!) have a peek at my blueberry banana or my winter cranberry chestnut combos or the thumbnails below....

Recipe: Spiced apple pancakes with date and walnut

Makes approx. 6 medium thick pancakes. (serves two for brunch or desert)

Ingedients

  • ½ cup mix of wholemeal and white spelt flour
  • 4 tbs rolled oats
  • 1 grated apple
  • 3 finely chopped dates (optional or you can add more if omitting the maple syrup)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbs maple syrup or 2 tbs date syrup) (omit if want a more savoury pancake)
  • 1/3-1/2 cup soy milk (or any milk alternative)
  • 1 tbs melted coconut butter/oil (or omit for fat free)
  • Topping- soy yoghurt, a sprinkling of chopped walnuts and a drizzle of maple or date syrup

Method

Mix coconut butter/oil, syrup of choice and soy milk in a bowl and heat in microwave to melt the butter into the mixture. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl then add the wet and mix. Add chopped apple/dates last and lightly mix through. Spoon dollops on a lightly oiled hot frying pan and fry till golden for a minute or so each side. Serve with soy yoghurt and walnuts as desired.


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Date syrup and paste

This is a little quickie recipe…if you can even call it a recipe! My toffee granola bars posted last week and also my sticky toffee pudding called for using date syrup, and since it is so easy to make your own I thought I’d share a post dedicated to it.

Dates also have many nutritional benefits, particularly when compared with many other sweeteners and are also very popular with raw foodists. Without going into great detail here; dates are a rich source of dietary fibre, iron and a number of minerals, and are also very rich in antioxidant flavonoids offering protection to the cells in the body. For me the biggest reason to use them- they are a wholefood form of sweetener.

I use a lot of dates, particular in their raw form in my smoosh bar varieties, so I have bought a large box in bulk making for an economical syrup. I use organic deglet noor dates, but either deglet noor or medjoul dates (which are larger and slightly more juicy) should work fine. Medjoul may even be preferable but since I haven’t yet tried using these dates I cannot confirm this.

You can either make a date paste or a syrup simply depending on how much water you add. Paste like syrups work better at binding things together whereas a looser syrup works best to spoon over or mix through- i.e spooning over the sticky toffee pudding…Mmmmm!

Since dates naturally have a caramelly, toffee like flavour they make the perfect sweetener for a toffee or caramel flavoured dessert, this can be enhanced with other sweeteners such as brown rice syrup when a very sweet caramelly flavour is required in a desert, but on their own they provide a lovely subtle sweetness. I also add a touch of vanilla extract to the syrup to subtly enhance the flavour, but other flavours or spices could be used too.

The date syrup pictured used 1 cup of water.

Recipe: date paste/syrup

Ingredients

  • 1 heaped cup of dates (I used 1 heaped cup to compensate for the fact the dates were whole and not packed in- so you want to visually aim for a fairly packed cup)
  • ½ cup hot water-
  • for a thick paste
  • 1 cup hot water-
  • for a thick syrup ( used this for my granola bars)
  • 1.5 cups hot water
  • - for a smoother easily spoon-able syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract- optional

Method

Place the dates in a small/medium bowl. Pour the required amount of boiling water over the dates and leave to soften for approx. 30 minutes. Once softened pour the contents of the bowl, along with a little vanilla extract, in to a blender (I used my thermomix) and blend until smooth.

Pour the syrup into a jar and store in the fridge if not using straight away.  This keeps for at least two weeks in sealed container.

Note: the more water used the more 'dilute' the dates become and therefore less sweet the syrup. If you are afer a sweet syrup you may like to add a little stevia or brown rice syrup also.


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Sticky toffee pudding

Happy New Year to you all!

It has been a crazy few days and I have barely had the chance to sit down with my laptop and write my notes up. Now the holidays are over and I’m back at work, I realise so many of my Christmas plans to relax and read books fell by the wayside.

The holidays always feel like such a long stretch of time ‘off’, but once you have factored in catching up with friends and family…along with the fact I gave myself the big task of totally redecorating my bedroom, does time ‘off’ actually exist?  Not that I’m complaining, I love to be busy…but maybe I should just be a little more realistic about much I can actually fit in!

Any way back to food….

I (probably like everyone else) have succumbed to the sugar and naughtiness overload this holiday, despite my best intentions of self- control! I’m now craving healthy food so these next few weeks are most likely to feature more savoury snacks, I also fancy getting back into soup mode. But more on all that another time.

For now…one last indulgence I just couldn’t resist!  The great British classic- sticky toffee pudding!

I love this dessert and have been waiting to explore my own healthy vegan version for a few weeks now- but have only just found the time to do so in amongst the madness of Christmas and New Year.

The recipe is very closely based on my amazing blondie recipe, just a bit more datey, syrupy and gooey!  Since my blondies were super healthy, this pudding is also super healthy by default. Ok, the syrup topping maybe isn’t so much…but there certain limits in creating a healthy syrup and this is still healthy in comparison. The pudding itself is still very sticky and moist without the extra syrup, so it could be served straight with a little soy yoghurt if you are feeling a little more virtuous- it’s your call!

For those of you who’ve never had sticky toffee pudding, the so called ‘pudding’ is more like a dense moist cake. It is typically formed and served using a miniture singular dome shaped pudding mould, but here I have used the more practical blondie slice format and simply stacked two squares on top of one another.  The typical sauce would also be thinner and more ‘caramelly’ and although it is quite possible to make a vegan version this way, they typically involve lots and lots of refined sugar which I really wanted to avoid. Therefore my syrup is a thicker date syrup that I think really works well with the pudding. Also, I went down the route of using the GF subs optionally noted in the original blondie recipe.

Having just read this back to myself and uploaded the photos…I really want another piece right now!

Recipe: Sticky toffee pudding

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked mashed sweet potato
  • ¼ cup soy yoghurt
  • 1/3 cup coconut butter- melted
  • 1/3 cup dates- softened
  • ½ cup mashed chickpeas
  • 3 tbs brown rice syrup (or maple syrup) plus ¼ tsp stevia
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup white spelt flour (or GF subs below)
  • 2 tbs cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • A pinch salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • NB: GF flour substitute- 1/3 cup each of almond meal, buckwheat flour, tapioca flour

(makes one 8” pan or approx. 8 servings of two squares)

For ‘toffee’sauce:

  • 1 cup softened dates
  • 1/3 cup brown rice syrup and a pinch of stevia to taste
  • ½ cup soy yoghurt
  • ¼ cup water
  • (makes just over 1 cup)

Method

Blend the wet ingredients in food processor until very smooth. Pour into a bowl, add dry ingredients and blend together until well mixed. Spoon mixture into a parchment lined 8x8 baking tin and smooth the  top. Bake in oven at 180C for approx. 10 minutes. Note- GF timings may be slightly shorter.

Whilst the pudding is in the oven blitz together the sauce ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a small sauce pan and heat for approx. 5 mins stirring continuously until bubbling. The mixture should form a thick sauce. If you would prefer a runnier syrup add a little more water.

Remove the pudding from the oven after 10 minutes and use a toothpick to make holes all over the top of the cake- approx. 100 holes. Spoon/pour approx. 1/3 of the sauce over the top and smooth over allowing to seep into the holes (much of the sauce will remain on top as a sticky layer).

Return to the oven for a final 5 minutes cooking time. Once cooked, allow to cool for a couple of minutes before slicing into squares. Serve whilst still hot with some of the extra sauce poured over the top as desired. Serve with soy yoghurt or ice cream.

The pudding and sauce will store well in the fridge for a couple of days. Best served hot.


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