Sweet Indulgences

Coconut Moons

PREP TIME: 20 MINUTES    SERVES: 8

I love serving these 'moons' for a simple dessert at a dinner party or at a picnic. Kids and teens love them too and you can breathe easily knowing they are a healthy sweet fix; the fibre from the dates and unsweetened coconut plus the protein from the nuts will slow down the absorption of the fructose = less mood swings and naughty kid behaviour! 

NUTRITIONAL BITES

Brazil nuts are a rich source of selenium and according to Harvard Health publications, this mineral plays a role in the prevention of prostate cancer. 

Medjool dates are high in dietary fibre which helps to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol - especially important for heart health

INGREDIENTS

1 cup of Brazil nuts  
1 1/4 cups of unsweetened shredded coconut plus extra for the topping
8 Medjool dates
Zest and juice of one lemon 
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Pinch of Celtic sea salt

LET'S COOK!

  1. Put all the ingredients into a food processor (not a blender) and grind up until a rough ball of dough has formed
  2. Pinch the dough making sure it sticks together in your fingers and If it is too dry and falls apart, simply water a teaspoon at a time until it sticks together. If it is too wet, just add more shredded coconut, a teaspoon at a time
  3. Scrap the dough out of the blender onto a clean surface and tear off about a tablespoon amount and roll into a moon shape
  4. Finally, roll each moon around in the extra shredded coconut and then find a pretty bowl to display your lovely coconut moons on 

 

One-Bite Wonders! Chocolate Orange Truffles

PREP TIME: 25 MINUTES     SERVES: 6 (2/3 truffles each) 

These decadent chocolate truffles are a quick treat to whip up for your family, friends and 'pop'-in guests over the holiday season. I always make a double batch because the first batch doesn’t make it out of the kitchen…!

NUTRITIONAL BITES

Cacao, a prized food of the early Mayan empire, is an unprocessed form of chocolate and one of the richest sources of antioxidant foods in the world. Happily for us it is an excellent source of magnesium, helping relax sore muscles and frayed nerves over the hectic holiday season!

INGREDIENTS

15 Medjool dates
1½ cups raw walnut pieces
¾ cup cacao powder
1½ tablespoons honey
Rind of orange
1 -3 teaspoons orange juice, depending on moisture level and for a festive treat, add a splash of brandy but cut back on the orange juice! 
Pinch of sea salt

LET'S Mix!

  1. Take the pits out of the dates making sure you have removed one pit for each date - sounds  silly I know, but it can really wreck one's food processor blade! 
  2. Toss the pits in the bin
  3. Place walnuts in a food processor and grind for several seconds until it has formed a coarse powder
  4. Add the pitted dates, cacao powder, honey, orange rind and salt to the processor and process until the mixture comes together into a moist dough
  5. Add the orange juice, one teaspoon at a time, until you can ‘pinch’ the dough in your fingers and it sticks together
  6. Fill a small bowl with warm water and put on one the side
  7. With clean hands, use your fingers to take about a small walnut size piece out of the processor and put in the palm of your hand.
  8. Now roll your palms together to form a ball, continuing to wet your palms as they become sticky 
  9. Place each ball on a tray and chill before serving (Warning: They may not make it past the fridge)

Smashing Pumpkin Pie with Ginger Pecan Crumble and Maple Cream

PREP TIME: 1.5 hour     COOK TIME: 50/55 minutes     SERVES: 6-8 people 


Once a year, I lower my nutritional 'bridge' and bake a traditional pumpkin pie - yes it has gluten, diary and sugar because sometimes, even I can agree that only the original will do. However, I have given gluten & dairy-free alternatives for those of you who prefer it this way. 

It takes love and just a little patience to make this (5 sections) Thanksgiving treat but it truly is worth it. It happens to be my son's most requested dish (outside of Thanksgiving) and that's highly relevant since he's my most picky eater!  

Nutritional Bites

  • When you look at pumpkins, you already know from their vibrant color that they are full of beta carotene (aka vitamin A), helping to improve our eyesight and fight off free-radical damage.

  • Cooked pumpkin also contains a hefty amount of fiber to keep our waistlines trim, a great source of potassium for a happy heart and vitamin C for keeping away unwanted colds and flu.

Ingredients for the 4 Sections

Short Crust Pastry
1 ¼ cups of all purpose preferably unbleached, organic wheat flour OR organic Kamut flour (For gluten-free version: 3/4 cups of buckwheat flour and ½ cup of brown rice flour OR 1¼ cups of a gluten-free flour mix) 
½ teaspoon of Celtic sea salt
½ cup/115g COLD unsalted butter. cut into 1/2" pieces (or approximately 1/2 cup olive oil) 
¼ cup + 1 teaspoon of iced water (for the diary-free version, you may need more water) 
1 tablespoon of coconut sugar

Pumpkin Flesh
2/3 lbs of sugar or pie pumpkins (specifically Baby Pam, Baby Bear, Autumn Gold or New England pie - they contain less string, water and are more 'sugary')

Pumpkin Filling
3 large eggs
3 heaped cups of fresh pumpkin puree  
½ cup of heavy whipping cream (double cream/35% fat) OR ½ cup organic rice milk mixed with one egg OR ½ cup of my Sweet Maple Cashew Cream  
¾ cup coconut sugar OR ½ cup of coconut sugar plus 6 drops of liquid stevia
2 heaped teaspoons of ground cinnamon
2 heaped teaspoons of freshly ground ginger
1 teaspoon of ground cloves  
¾ teaspoon of sea salt

Ginger Pecan Crumble
1/2 cup (50 grams) of pecans
1/2 cup (50 grams) of crushed gingersnap cookies

Maple Cream

1 cup of whipping cream (35% fat) OR Sweet Maple Cashew Cream 
1-2 tablespoons of organic maple syrup (medium or dark flavour) 
Orange zest or cinnamon - optional 

Let's prep!

We're starting off with the pastry as it needs time to chill!

  1. In a food processor, place flour, salt and sugar and process until combined. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs

  2. Add 2 - 3 tablespoons of cold water and use the pulse setting to mix only until the dough holds together when pinched, adding more cold water a little at a time until it holds

  3. Turn the dough onto a work surface and roll into a ball. Flatten into a disk and then cover with unbleached parchment paper and then cover the parchment paper with plastic wrap as this prevents the BPA’s (carcinogenic toxins) in the plastic wrap from touching the pastry

  4. Refrigerate the pastry for 20/30 minutes allowing the gluten to relax and the butter to chill down

  5. Whilst the pastry is chilling out in the fridge, let's steam the pumpkins and make the filling! You are welcome to roast your pumpkin however I prefer steaming it as it keeps more nutrients intact, doesn’t take away from the finished taste and is so quick

Pumpkin Filling

  1. Wash and scrub the exterior of the pumpkin(s) and cut into halves. Remove all the seeds and string (if any), then cut into quarters and place in a steamer basket

  2. Steam for 15/20 mins or until the flesh is soft. Scoop out the flesh (leaving behind the skin) and place into a high-speed blender, pureeing until smooth

  3. In a large bowl lightly whisk the eggs. Add the remaining pumpkin filling ingredients and stir to combine. Put to one side

  4. Meanwhile, grease your pie dish thoroughly and set the oven temperature to 350F making sure you have an oven rack set on the bottom third of the oven for the pie to sit on

  5. By now your pastry dough will be well chilled, so place it on a lightly floured surface and roll it out to cover your 9" pie dish to about a 13" circle

  6. Keep lifting and quarter-turning the pastry to prevent it from sticking, making sure to roll from the centre to the outside. Once you have the right size, fold the dough carefully over your rolling pin and transfer to the centre of your greased pie dish. Unfold and press the pastry into the base of the pie dish and up the edges, tucking the overhanging pastry under itself

  7. Press down the edges of the pastry with the tines of a fork to make a decorative border then refrigerate the shell pie whilst you make the easy Ginger Pecan Crumble

Ginger Pecan Crumble

  1. Toast the pecans in 350F oven for 8 minutes or until lightly browned; alternatively roast them in a dry pan until fragrant and lightly toasted

  2. Place the pecans and gingersnaps in a food processor; pulse until you have a crumble texture

  3. Take the pie shell out of the fridge and using your fingers, gently press the crumble into the base and up the sides of pie dish

Maple Cream

  1. Whip together the whipping cream and maple syrup until firm peaks are formed. For a dairy-free option, whip up a batch of my sweet maple cashew cream. If you want to experiment, try adding some orange zest or a dusting of cinnamon.

Let's Bake!

  1. Increase the oven temperature to 375F.

  2. Pour the pumpkin pie filling into the pie shell and place on a large baking pan to catch any spills and place in the bottom third of the oven - this helps bake the crust more effectively.

  3. Bake the pie for 50/55 minutes or until the filling is set and the crust has a golden brown hue and the centre of the pie looks moist. (A knife inserted 1 inch in the side of the pie will come out almost clean if it is properly cooked.)

  4. Place the baked pie on a wire rack to cool whilst you step back and admire your glorious creation. Congratulations - a culinary star is born!

 

Cherry Plum Ice Cream (dairy, gluten, soy and refined-sugar FREE!)

PREP TIME:  30 minutes     BLEND & FREEZER TIME: 3+hours

Nutritional Bites

I love using cashews in raw desserts; Since they are a plant protein source they provide amino acids, essential for our daily energy needs. They also help slow down sugar absorption which means we can happily indulge without the possibility of sugar crash on the horizon. Parents - you especially have to love this outcome! 

Ingredients

1.5 cups of cashews (soaked for 2 hours, then drained and rinse with fresh water)
3 cups of fresh cherries, pitted and coarsely chopped OR 1 cup of dried cherries marinated in 1 tablespoon of orange juice for 2 hours
3 red plums, skins left on and chopped coarsely
1 can of full cream coconut milk (look for BPA-free lined cans to cut down on heavy metal toxicity)
1/2 cup of coconut palm sugar
1/4 cup of maple syrup
2 teaspoons of almond extract (this really sets off the taste so don't be tempted to leave it out)
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (helps make it creamy and thick)

Let's Blend!

  1. In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup of coconut milk with the xanthan gum, until smooth.
  2. Using a blender, combine the cashews, remaining coconut milk, maple syrup, palm sugar, almond extract and the coconut milk/xanthan gum mixture then blend until smooth and creamy.
  3. Add the fruit using the pulse button - you want to keep some small pieces intact for some bit-size fruit texture.
  4. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and mix for 30 - 45 minutes, depending on the manufacture's instructions.
  5. Ladle into a glass dish with a lid and freeze. Allow at least 10 minutes to soften, before serving yourself a big scoop! (or two ...!)   


 

Sweet Maple Cashew Cream

PREP TIME: 10 MINUTES   BLEND TIME: 3 MINUTES   SERVES 6 as a side 

Nutritional Bites

Cashews are a wonderful choice for our heart health as they are low in unsaturated fat.

Although maple syrup is a natural sweetener and should only be eaten sparingly, it is high in the minerals zinc and manganese that support our immune system, so there are minor health benefits to cheer about!

Ingredients

I cup soaked organic raw cashews (soak for about 4 hrs or overnight, drain and rinse before using)
1 - 2 tablespoons of water or almond milk
2 teaspoons maple syrup or to taste
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon Celtic grey sea salt
Cinnamon to sprinkle like fairy dust on top!

Let's Blend

  1. Drain and rinse the cashews and pop them into a blender or food processor. 
  2. Add just 1 tablespoon of water (or almond milk), plus all the other ingredients and blend together.
  3. If you find the mixture is too stiff, add more water (or almond milk) - a tiny bit at a time until you reach the right consistency - you don't want to end up with a soup.  It should be like double cream – sorry, that’s English cream – I mean, Canadian whipped cream! Taste it and see if it is sweet enough for you - maybe a tad more maple syrup?  If not, you have just created your own sweet cashew cream!  Sprinkle a little cinnamon on the top and then you’d better give yourself a helping before you hand it around, as there won’t be any left.