Posts Tagged ‘dates’

I’ve just eaten all the pies

Oh.My.Pies! I had an inkling that Alfredo would need an amazing sweet treat free from sugar, and OH was I right, and Oh, these pies are just so…..RIGHT.

I was unsure whether to post this, as I like to post things which people can try if they so wish, and these are done in a dehydrator (You will see why) and I know most people don’t have such an appliance. But post I must, if only to showcase how you can create different things free from white flour, sugar and butter that still taste A-MAZING. I generally never liked pies that much, like I said, it was mainly for my husband, but it turns out that I ate quite a few aswell……. I even had one for breakfast this morning with impunity.

For the precise recipe I will refer you to Russell James website, because it is his recipe, so, out of courtesy. And I will say, that at Westfalia website you can buy dehydrators for about £30 which are useful for many things (kale chips,  drying out your glut of garden produce for future use, drying out foraged edible mushrooms for future use and intensifying flavour, making your own dried mango/pineapple/any fruit, free from sulphates, beetroot chips (YUM!), fruit leathers for kids or hiking,  and so on and so on.)

The crust is made from a mixture of ground oats and ground cashew nuts, a little water, lemon juice, and a little honey or maple syrup. If you are wondering why it has cashew nuts in, it provides sweetness and the fat, without using butter. You simply blitz the “flours” with the liquid, and press the gooey mixture into seperate silicone cases using a floured finger to make a little case. Dehydrate, first in the silicone case, and once quite dry, flip them out upside down to dry the bottom for a short while longer.

The filling is made by blitzing dates and orange juice, with allspice, finely diced apple and raisins. Oh my word, it tasted so good, especially with freshly squeezed orange juice. Aaaaah the cloves, the cinnamon, and nutmeg!

It is topped with a cashew cream icing, made with unroasted cashews, lemon juice, liquid sweetener (honey or maple) a pinch of salt etc Below you will find Russell James photo (with permission) but actually, mine looked just as amazing. Seriously, they did. And oh my word! This was the best mince pie I have ever eaten, in my humble opinion.

Let there be pies

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Whoever said eating plants is all about salads? Deck the halls with boughs of holly, quite frankly.
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Autumnal Breakfast Bowl-sweet wholewheat couscous with pear compote

It’s all quite perplexing. My friends pears have been sitting here for weeks now with no sign of ripening. They seem to be going from iron-hard to…wrinkled,old-looking and iron-hard. So I gave in and decided to poach some. Seven in fact. Thankfully I have about 30 more (also bordering on wrinkled/ iron-hard) because this recipe was so delicious!! 

What a splendid way to start an autumn day, and what a “shame” that this autumn day was so warm and balmy, as this is kind of cosy-cold-morning food. A pear and mint smoothie would have been more appropriate. Or even a mango sorbet. Still……. it was a great way to begin October, on a scale of one to breakfasts. No excessively precise measurements here, as none are required.

Pear Compote    Chopping time- 2 minutes. Stewing time, 15 minutes.

  • 7 pears, roughly chopped.
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • pinch of salt
  • about 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon of honey (or sweeten as desired)

Stew the pears until soft, adding a little water as required.

Sweet Couscous    Chopping time- 5 minutes. Soaking time- 15 minutes. Cooking time- 5-7 minutes. You could have your fruit and nuts ready chopped/soaked for a super-quick breakfast.

  • A variety of dried fruits that have been roughly chopped and left to soak in very warm water for 15 minutes.

            I used: 10 small dates, 2 prunes, a handful of raisins, 4 dried apricots (unsulphured variety) Others- cranberries,sultanas,chopped dried figs etc

  • A small handful of chopped nuts. I used: 5 almonds, and 10-12 pistachios. Others-pecans/walnuts, hazelnuts, pumpkin or sunflower seeds.
  • A generous cup of water (use the soak water from your dried fruits)
  • 1 cup of wholewheat couscous
  • The other half of your lemon, juiced
  • a pinch or two of orange zest (I always keep some in the freezer- so handy!)
  • A generous teaspoon or two of honey
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon (if you are not making the pear compote)
  • Bring to the boil 1 generous cup of the soak water from your dried fruits, with the honey, lemon juice, salt, and orange zest.
  • Add your couscous, stir, remove from heat, and leave covered for 5 minutes.
  • Finally, fluff with a fork, stir in your splendid array of fruit and nuts, sweeten again to taste, and top with your pear compote.

 

The recipe made 3 big bowls like this. Doesn't the orange zest and the pistachios just cheer your heart??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, they say the weather is going to break on Sunday.

I have loved this gorgeous week of sun…but if it gets as cold as they say it is going to get, have no fear;  I, and our 30 pears are ready for it!!

3-ingredient “Caramel” Bites (free from sugar/dairy)

Hello heavenly morsel!  I won’t go on about how it’s free from harmful saturated fats and processed sugars. I shall barely touch upon the fact that this only has THREE ingredients and all of them are whole plant foods. The fibre? I shall not even mention it. The potassium, and other vitamins and trace minerals? My lips are sealed. And that it takes a question of seconds to whip up- I won’t even go there.  Let me just tell you one thing though- these are SO GOOD!

You need………(fill in the gap…okay I will….) a mini chopper or small food processor. This recipe may make about 20, or less if you go for bigger sized truffles.  Here are the magic three ingredients for your amazing, sweet and chewey caramel bites.

  • 1 cup of unroasted cashews
  • 1/4 cup date paste (follow this link for instructions) …..or 1/2 cup chopped dates
  • The seeds of half a vanilla bean
  • pinch of sea salt (optional)

Process your cashews until they form a fine crumb, which should only take about 30 seconds. Add your date paste and vanilla seeds (and salt if desired) and pulse until it forms a sticky dough, with everything well incorporated.  Refridgerate until firm (about an hour) and then form into little balls. Goodness, I had forgotten how great cashews are for so many things.  

Notes:

  •  If possible, splurge on real vanilla beans over extract (Madagascan Vanilla sells them on ebay in the UK, but I cannot open Ebay for some reason, to post the link; they are affordable!)
  • Dates vs date paste  Truthfully, dates are probably better as date paste has a little more moisture in, and the ickle truffles will not end up quite as firm as when you use whole dates.  I had date paste made, and it does give a “neater” looking dough, but let’s face it, who cares if you have a little chunk of date in there, right? I assume if you make this recipe, it’s because you like dates. If they are fresh (Halawi, Medjool etc) they will incorporate in more easily. If your dried dates are very tough, soak them in warm water., but only very briefly- say, about 20 minutes.

Behold the flecks! Vanilla aroma packaged in sweet chewy goodness!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

And here, with the blessed component parts...

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
PS. Using a food processor, you can try all sorts of energy-dense bites using an approximate ratio of 2 part ground nuts/seeds to 1 part dried fruits, (dates, raisins, dried apricots etc) and extra flavourings as desired (cinnamon, vanilla, cardamon, orange zest/extract, almond essence, lemon zest, carob/cocoa etc) Please feel free to inform me if you find a great combination!

Apple and Cinnamon Breakfast Bowl

Man, it must be the freezing English “summer”, I just don’t want smoothies much at the moment. I have discovered the most gorgeous ever breakfast bowl, which has a whopping (estimated) 22 grams of fibre in!

22 grams of fibre before 9am is not too shabby an effort, and must surely win you some points with your digestion department. Not only digestion, however!  Soluble fibre in particular (found, among other things, in oats, and flax seeds, both in this recipe) forms a kind of “gel” in your digestive tract. It slows down the absorption of glucose, preventing blood sugar peaks and troughs, and “soaks up” harmful cholesterol. (Sorry about the unscientific terminology) And, guess what: insoluble fibre, which speeds up transit time and prevents constipation, is also abundant in oats.

On to breakfast. This only takes a few minutes to assemble. It is truly delicious, and really filling. I know it contains date paste, but once you have made that, (details on this page)  it keeps (with a squeeze of lemon juice) for 2-4 weeks in the fridge. Go and make some! (……or…add 4 small dates)

It also contains ground golden linseeds  (or “flax seeds”) which are a total super food in my book; I buy them whole (they are very affordable in any health food store, and many supermarkets) Keep them in the fridge (important!) and grind when ready to use. They have more Omega 3 than fish, mild-tasting, packed with soluble fibre, and also happen to work as great egg replacers (see my post on Vegan Sugar Free Banana Bread). But I digress. Apple and Cinnamon Breakfast Bowl:

  • 1 cup jumbo organic oats
  • 2 medium apples.
  • 1/8 cup date paste.  (or about 4 Halawi dates)
  • 1/2 T honey. (or more, to taste)
  •  1/4 t cinnamon  
  •  1T ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 T raisins (just a pinch)

Simply whizz up your apples in the mini chopper with the honey, date paste, flax seeds, cinnamon and 1-2 teaspoons of water if needbe, until it forms a paste.

Then, mix with the oats and raisins and enjoy. Now…..the vital statistics!

Approximate FIBRE CONTENT

  • 100 grams or 1 cup pf rolled oats:  10 grams.  (half is insoluble fibre, half is  a soluble type, called beta-glucan)
  • 1T ground flax =3 grams
  • 1/2T raisins = 0.5 grams
  • 2 medium apples=6grams    
  •  1/8 cup date paste = (3 small dates?) =  2.5 grams

TOTAL: 22 Grams!! !  I totally believe that totally merits bold font type, and 3 exclamation marks because the UK RDA for fibre is 25-35 grams. I think you see what I am saying.

It is very filling, and a low fat food, and as such, I think it is a fabulous dieters breakfast. You don’t add milk, you just eat it like that. It is so delicious.

Finally, for further reading about the amazing AMAZING oat grain, follow this link . I love this website because it discusses the studies done in detail, while still being understandable. They don’t just say “studies show it helps reduce blood pressure ” rather, they explain simply how the different compounds of the food interact with your body, and why it helps your blood pressure, or whatever. All studies are referenced at the end of each article.

There is no photo here. Unless you are a talented food photographer, oatmeal bowls fall into the category of delicious but aesthetically unappealing  in my opinion, as shown in my Overnight Oats photo. And anyway, my husband took the camera away with him.

I’ll finish now so you can go and make some date paste, and put golden linseeds on your shopping list  🙂

Date Paste? Anyone, anyone?

Ick. But delicious!

Well , with this dodgy sounding title, and even dodgier looking photo, I doubt many people will read this. But if it so be that you are interested in a natural alternative sweeener that  grows on a tree, as opposed to being processed in a factory, read on! Try to look past the (brown) outer cover. Always a good lesson for life anyway.

I always imagined dates to taste like enormous raisins, and only discovered how much I love them a year or two ago.  I love it as a sweetener because all the natural sugars are packaged up in fibre, and did you know, they have more potassium than bananas??

The best raw material for date paste, ever , would be FRESH Medjool dates, that have not cultivated or sprayed with chemicals. However, if your budget does not allow such delights, and sometimes it doesn’t, you can do this with dried dates, soaked in plenty of water overnight. (Look for dried dates with nothing else added)

All you do is soak your dates overnight, and then drain the soak water, but do not discard it! Food process the soft dates witha little soak water to get it going, but not too much; just a bit at a time. Keep blitzing until it’s all homogenised. In other words, well smushed up. 500 grams of dates in their dried state, made about 3 1/2 cups of date paste. You may not want to make that much, but you can freeze it in portions in the freezer. It keeps in the fridge for a good week, at least.

What to do with your date paste

  • Use on your “Overnight Oats” as a caramelly sweetener. Or never mind overnight, I love just stirring it straight into Jumbo Oats,  adding a handful of nuts or seeds, a chopped banana and some almond or soy milk.
  • It works as a great sweetener for Apple Compotes instead of sugar.
  • Spread on wholewheat pancakes with chopped banana.
  • Pay a visit to Addicted to Veggies website, she uses it in almost everything, and she is fun to read.  Follow this link for her Date Paste search results recipe list.
  • Blend with some home-made nut butter, and some almond milk (for example) for a fantastic caramel. I made a banoffee pie with dates and nut butter once and if perchance you are interested, the recipe is here.
  • It also works well in less obvious contexts like dressings, if you want a bit of sweetness, but not too overpowering a flavour, like honey.
  • The perfect base for an Apple and Cinnamon Granola. Blitz up some apples until they are completely mushy, stir in date paste, and some honey or maple syrup for extra sweetness (if you like) cinnamon, walnuts and a pinch of salt. Stir in your oats, bake (or dehydrate) until crunchy and toasty.

And by the way, I am almost 35, and I have never (I don’t think) eaten a prune. I still look at them sometimes and wonder if they taste as bad as they look? Can anyone shed any light on this?

Meanwhile, thank you Mother Earth, for the date!

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