What do you get when you cross a coconut macaroon cookie with a truffle? A bliss ball! These are my favourite little treats. They are easy to make, contain no refined sugar/oil and even look festive.
I make a variation of these all year around. After you create your base of dates and nuts, the sky is the limit. You can create all sorts of combinations using cranberries, cocoa, raisins, nut butters, coconut, etc.
These particular bliss balls combine orange and chocolate for a lovely holiday flavour. We all know what comes out this time of year that is also orange and chocolatey -
Among the ingredients we have some delicious rancid milk products, artificial flavours and of course tonnes of sugar. Vanillin is also an ingredient, not to be confused with actual vanilla extract. Vanillin is a synthetic compound used in a lot of sweet foods to give a vanilla taste. You may be surprised to learn the starting material can come from many peculiar sources. “There is even a small market in vanillin that comes from the glands of beavers.”
So let's make some thing more appetizing shall we?
Orange & Chocolate Bliss Balls
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup cashews
1/4 cup raw cocoa nibs
1 cup dates (soaked and soft)
1 teaspoon of REAL vanilla extract
1/4 cup cacao powder (or carob powder)
Zest and juice of one orange
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut (to roll)
1. Add the nuts and cocoa nibs to a food processor and pulse to chop, making sure not to grind them into a powder...unless you would like a smoother more truffle like treat. I prefer to have a crunch to mine.
2. Add the dates, vanilla, cocoa powder, orange juice and zest and process until a sticky mass forms.
3. Shape small balls and roll in coconut. Or for a more truffle-like finish, roll in extra cocoa or carob powder. Shake off excess.
I sincerely wish everyone a happy holiday! Merry Christmas and all the best for 2015.
Not only can you make a healthier version of hot chocolate, you can make a difference in the lives of the farmers who produce the cocoa. Especially around this time of year, helping those less fortunate should be on our minds. That's why I purchase fair trade cocoa.
90 per cent of the world's cocoa comes from small producers in third-world countries such as Ghana. Fair trade insures farmers receive a reliable and living wage for their work. They also get a social premium to invest back into their communities for much-needed projects.
Sometimes we forget the power behind our purchases. Next time you're shopping notice why do you choose the products you do. Is it based on price? Nutritional value? Social/environmental impact?
Camino is one of my favourite brands. They're a Canadian fair trasde company that supports over 36,000 family farmers in 9 different countries. I also buy their muscovado sugar. If you're going to use cane sugar, you may as well use the least unrefined sugar you can get.
Hot Chocolate Recipe:
2 Cups Almond Milk
1/4 Cup Cocoa Powder
2-3 Tablespoons of Muscovado Sugar
2 Teaspoons of Cinnamon and.or Cayenne Pepper (optional)
Heat almond milk in a pot on medium heat. Whisk in all ingredients until blended and warm.
Let's talk marshmallows, probably the best hot chocolate accompaniment. Take a look at the ingredients in store bought marshmallows: sugar, sugar, more sugar plus artificial flavours and preservatives. I've seen homemade marshmallow recipes, but haven't tried them. The "fluff" to me seems easier to make, it has less ingredients and above all, tastes like marshmallows!
2 Eggs Whites
1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
1 Teaspoon REAL Vanilla Extract
1 Pinch Sea/Himalayan Salt
Using a mixer, beat egg whites on high until stiff peaks form (about 5 minutes). Slowly add in the other ingredients and keep beating until fully incorporated. Use immediately since I find after sitting for a while, the maple syrup seems to settle on the bottom. If that happens, just give it another quick stir. it still tastes delicious.
Add a dollop to each mug of hot chocolate. Sprinkle with cocoa or cinnamon (optional). Serves 2.
I know it's not always easy eating well over the holidays. That's why I'm here to offer some healthier versions of those treats that are hard to resist. In today's episode: Eggnog
Let's first talk about store-bought eggnog. Ew. As you can see by the list of ingredients, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavours and food colouring (especially the yellow #5) are things we want to avoid.
This healthier recipe uses raw eggs. I know some people may not feel comfortable with that. I suggest going to the farmer's market and purchasing some fresh local eggs. I have been making this for some time now and have never had an issue.
By the way, the egg component to the eggnog is definitely NOT what makes this product unhealthy. Eggs have gotten a bad rap over the years. Eggs are nutritionally dense. And guess where most of the vitamins and minerals come from? The yolk.
This recipe is also good for those who have a dairy allergy or intolerance. Store-bought milk products any way are pasteurized and homogenized, which makes them basically hard to consume by anyone since the natural enzymes are destroyed. But that milk rant is a whole other blog.
A Healthier Eggnog
2 cups full fat coconut milk (looks for some without added preservatives)
2 cups vanilla almond milk
4 egg yolks (farm-fresh eggs preferred)
4 egg whites
1/2 cup maple syrup (the darker the better #3 is best)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
Next time...Hot Chocolate with Marshmallow Fluff!
Director of Teacher Training for the Maritime Yoga College and Registered Holistic Nutritionist.