Chocolate Coconut Date Balls

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With New Year’s resolution time in full force during the month of January, many of us have committed to a new year of healthy eating, or at least a period of detox as we strive to work off all of the extra indulgences we enjoyed during the holiday season. Or maybe it’s to stop buying clothes at Lululemon or new boots…..but I digress. I definitely fit into the latter category in terms of needing a “detox” of some sort; while I regularly try to make healthy choices, I also balance that with a treat or two. However, I think I enjoyed at least a few more treats than usual during this particular holiday season, and have actually not been in the mood for an indulgent dessert lately, which is highly unusual for me!

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Accordingly, these chocolate coconut date balls-or “bites” as I sometimes like to call them instead since I am secretly a 5th grade boy- are perfect. They taste rich and have almost a fudge like consistency, yet they are very healthy, consisting only of dates, cocoa powder, almonds, shredded coconut, and coconut oil. They also come together in minutes and make an effortless dessert for any occasion or are a good healthy snack to have on hand to curb chocolate cravings in a healthier way.  I recently made them for a dinner party and everybody loved them, and could not believe that they only have a few ingredients. Dates are awesome. These keep in the fridge for up to a month so feel free to double or even triple the batch. I do this often.

Chocolate Coconut Date Balls

  • 25 dates
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • ¼ cup almonds
  • 2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • dash of sea salt

Place all ingredients in a food processor and “pulse” until well blended, about 2-3 minutes. The mixture should still look chunky and should just barely come together. If mixture is still too crumbly add more dates and/or coconut oil.

Roll into balls and place into fridge until ready to serve.

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New Year’s resolutions seem much more manageable with treats like this.

Grains and Mains

So, thanks to the arrival of this new cookbook from my lovely sister for my birthday present:

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I decided to delve right in cooking more recipes featuring grains as the main element of the meal. Though we have a tendency to eat this way at least a few times a week, we generally stick with rice, quinoa, pasta, and oats. I’ve always been intimidated by the overwhelming amount of other options there are. However, after flipping through the recipes in this book, I decided to give it a shot and placed an order on IHerb:

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From left to right, that would be Kamut, rye berries, buckwheat groats, and millet. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was a little intimidated!

So MOST of those purchases are related to a recipe in this book.I know peanut butter isn’t a “grain” but whatever it’s one of my favorite foods. So there.

Last night I made the first recipe from the book (I did loosely base a stir fry from this recipe last week but it was more thrown together and too bland) and it turned out pretty well:Image

Lots of veggies. I loosely followed the recipe here and just added what I had in the fridge.

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Finished product!

I really like buckwheat. It has a somewhat crunchy, almost nutty consistency and flavor and I’m excited to cook with it more. I can’t wait to use it as a substitute for other grains, such as rice, pasta, or quinoa, in some of our favorite recipes.

On another note, this week has been a particularly frustrating one at work, as I mentioned last week. The technology issues remain and we are very limited to what we can actually get done. This essentially resulted in feelings of stir craziness by the end of the day, the antsy feelings of sitting in front of a computer at a desk for 8ish hours. So in addition to the stir fry, I made this Chilled Dark Chocolate Pie with Toasted Almond Crust (subbing strawberries for whipped cream): 

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Because, you know, we had heavy whipping that was going to expire soon, so it obviously makes perfect sense to find something to bake to go with the whipped cream that I had decided to make. Not backwards thinking at all? This pie certainly worked for this purpose. It’s actually somewhat healthy, as the crust is made from basically ground almonds, oat flour, and a bit of brown rice syrup (another newly purchased ingredient) and the filling is full-fat coconut milk and chocolate chips. Make the crust, pour in the filling, put in the freezer for 2 hours, serve and enjoy with that whipped cream. My husband, who “doesn’t like coconut milk” loved it-and still doesn’t know that there was actually coconut milk in it. Ha! Success. The only thing I would change is the crust….while it was good, it wasn’t quite crispy enough? There was definitely something missing there. I think it just tasted too “healthy”. But healthy is good because then you’re allowed to have just a little over a (giant) piece because also you have to even out the edges and all of that. Anyway, this recipe was too delicious not to share:

Chilled Dark Chocolate Pie with Toasted Almond Crust

Adapted from Oh She Glows

For the crust:

  • 3/4 cup raw almonds
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons brown rice syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats

For the filling:

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 (15-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk, chilled in fridge overnight
  • 2 tablespoons brown rice syrup
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the crust: Preheat oven to 350⁰F and lightly grease a 9-inch pie dish with coconut oil. Add almonds into a food processor and process until a fine crumb forms, the size of sand. Now add the coconut oil, brown rice syrup, salt, and oat flour and process again until the dough comes together. Finally, pulse  in the rolled oats until the oats are finely chopped, but still have some texture to them. The dough should stick together when pressed between your fingers. With your fingers, crumble the dough evenly over the base of the pie dish.  Starting from the middle, press the mixture firmly and evenly into the dish,  moving outward and upward along the side of the pie dish. The harder you press  the crumbs into the dish, the more it will hold together. Side note: I am horrible at creating perfect, beautiful pie crusts. It doesn’t have to be perfect and will still taste the same, regardless. Bake pie crust, uncovered, at 350⁰F for 10-13 minutes, until lightly golden and  fragrant. Remove from oven and set aside to cool on a rack for about 20 minutes.

For the filling: Chill can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight so the  cream can solidify. When ready, open the can and carefully scoop out the solid  white coconut cream into a pot, discarding the water. Add chocolate chips and stir until combined. Heat over low-medium heat until most of the chocolate is  melted. Remove from heat and stir in the brown rice syrup, salt, and vanilla until smooth.

For the whipped cream: Pour 1 pint heavy whipping cream into the bowl of an electric mixer. Whisk on medium-high speed for 3-4 minutes, until cream thickens and “fluffs.” Add 3 tablespoons sweetener of choice (I usually use granulated sugar or maple syrup) and 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract to taste.

Pour chocolate filling into pie crust and smooth out. Place in the freezer, on  an even surface, for a minimum of 2 hours, or until firm throughout. Allow pie  to sit on the counter for 15-30 minutes before attempting to slice. Serve the pie chilled with whipped cream on top. Wrap leftover pieces of pie and store in the freezer or fridge for up to one week. We stored ours in the fridge and it kept firm without any issues.

Read more: http://ohsheglows.com/2013/07/06/chilled-dark-chocolate-pie-with-toasted-almond-crust-and-strawberry-vanilla-compote/#ixzz2fjjFaG6T

Next attempt at cooking with those grains was the following night: Quinoa Crepes. Jose was a bit more on the fence with this one, and, turns out, rightfully so.

I had never made crepes before and am also the type of person who cannot make one of those perfectly round pancakes. My pancakes may taste good, but why can’t they also look pretty? Yes, I whine just like that when I’m frustrated, too. So, crepes always intimidated me, because they are so pleasantly thin, larger than pancakes but still require a flipping in the pan. I read through the recipe, then went to read some blogger success stories about how “I was so scared to make crepes but then I did and WOW it was like, so easy!”

Those are lies.

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Do those look like crepes to you? Fortunately, they tasted good. However, these were stressful to make. Spreading the batter in the pan, but it’s too thick-and then it’s too thin, and then, we try to flip it and it crumbles. With all of that difficulty in the execution, I did not have high hopes for the taste. But, thankfully, my Mexican husband had a pretty decent idea: pretend like they are tortillas! (When in doubt…).

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The crepes were made of quinoa, whole wheat pastry flour, egg, almond milk, olive oil, and sea salt.

The filling was a simple combination of grilled corn, avocado, chopped cherry tomatoes, olive oil, oregano, cumin, and sea salt.

Though they were somewhat thin like crepes, they were hearty and reminiscent of a cross between corn and flour tortillas.

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And they were sooo good. Though we may not be racing to make these again anytime soon, they were surprisingly delicious and filling!

Quinoa Crepes with Corn and Avocado Salsa

Adapted from Grain Mains

For the crepes:

  • 1/2 cup quinoa, cooked (follow instructions on package)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (we used almond milk and it worked well!)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for the skillet
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (do not use whole wheat flour)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the salsa:

  • 2 ears of corn, husked, grilled, and kernels sliced off cob.
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (or 2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano leaves)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

To make the crepes:

Whisk quinoa in a large bowl with milk, 1/4 cup olive oil, honey, and egg. Whisk in whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, and salt until a batter comes together.

Lightly grease a 12-inch nonstick skillet with some olive oil. Heat over medium heat. Pour in about 1/2 cup batter all around the skillet; quickly shake and swirl the skillet to thin the batter out into an even coating (*this is where we had issues! If this does not work for you, they may be more like tortillas or pancakes, which still taste good!). Cook until the bottom is set and the batter has bubbles throughout, about 2-4 minutes. The top should already look dry. Loosen the crepe with a large spatula (or have your husband help you because you are panicking that you are going to break them!). Cook about 1 minute longer, until set and lightly browned. Transfer to a large plate, oil the skillet again, and continue until the batter is used up.

To make the salsa filling:

Mix corn and other filling ingredients in a medium bowl: avocados, tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Assembly: Set crepe on a serving plate and spoon about 1/2-2/3 cup of the salsa into center. Fold the edges over the filling) and enjoy! I can imagine a variety of additional toppings with this; the recipe called for Mexican crema, but i also think you could add tomato salsa, Greek yogurt, creme freche…..

I don’t think I’ve completely convinced Jose on this whole idea of cooking with more grains. He’s already started to snicker and ask if this is one of “those recipes from that new book you got” pretty much anytime he hears a food he doesn’t recognize listed as one of our dinner ingredients. I think that means I just need to keep trying more of these recipes….