Attack of the Giant Raisins

So, after being told several times by different people that I really should watch the movie “Julie and Julia” with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, I finally got the chance to.  It was very cute and it kind of planted a seed in my head…..I’m actually considering doing something similar – finding a really amazing dessert cookbook (recommendations are more than welcome – feel free to leave your ideas in a comment!) and making all the recipes in it!   The only 2 things I need is to find the cookbook and find someone (or multiple someones) that would volunteer as guinea pigs to try the end results of my efforts!  The other thing in the movie that came up was in one of the blogs that Julie Powell was writing, she asks if there is even anyone that reads her blog and I got to thinking the same thing!  Does anyone read this?  Do I inspire anyone to try making a new dessert or try to improve on a classic?  Is there anyone out there?  Or is it just me, writing my overspilling brain’s thoughts on to my computer screen?      On to today’s blog…………….

Growing up, I thought dates were “yicky” and this was probably because I thought they were like a prune or just giant raisins – which I also wasn’t a fan of.  In all honesty, up until about a year ago, I still wasn’t sold on them.  Then I tried my first date square and was kicking myself for not giving them more of a chance.  I realized that they are sweet and tasted like a brilliant mix of caramel, cinnamon and honey.  Plus, there are so many wonderful health benefits to them.  Aside from being filled with nutrients your body needs, like protein, anti-oxidants, B-Complex vitamins, potassium and magnesium (which both aid in the regulation of blood pressure and give you a big boost of energy), they are also a great source of fiber, and we all know how beneficial that is, especially for our digestive system!  Did you also know that they help combat arteriosclerosis, which is the thickening and hardening of the walls of your arteries.

  • “The anti-oxidants in Medjool dates play an important role in ridding from the body bad fats as well as reducing the risk cancers. Their high fiber content also plays an important role in fighting deposition of plaque, mostly associated with development of arteriosclerosis.”   ~  www.healthbenefitsofeating.com

datesEnough from the side of my brain that is obsessed with the health factors that certain foods bring to us and over to the other side, the side that is obsessed with creating deliciousness and transforming these sweet, plump and luscious fruits into a gooey, thick mixture to cover a crumbly, soft crust.

pouring mixtureDate squares are actually quite effortless to make.  Chopping the 3 cups of dates is perhaps the most time consuming task of the whole process.  Nevertheless, chopping them by hand is the best approach, as you can decide how big or how small you want the pieces of dates to be.  I cut mine into medium sized chunks (about 8 little nuggets per date).  I found keeping them a good size helps keep the mixture a bit thicker, so when the final masterpiece is baked, the filling doesn’t ooze out the sides when you grab a square to sink your teeth into!  Add a bit of water, lemon juice and some brown sugar and pop the concoction on the stove to simmer it all together into a thickened, blended filling.  The crust and the crumble for the topping is a basic recipe – flour, butter, brown sugar, oats and a bit of baking soda.  You can get fancy if you want and add a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg, or some chopped nuts, whatever your taste buds are in the mood for that day.  Bake it for about a half hour and let the enticing aroma take over your kitchen.

fresh from the oven 
I guarantee these mouth watering squares will not last in your house!  But just remember that dates have a healthy dose of fiber and amino acids that will help “move things along” your digestive track, so it would be a wise decision NOT to eat half the pan of squares in one day!!

ready to eat

 

 

This amazing recipe was found on www.robinhood.ca

 

 

Banananaaaaas

I love using bananas when I’m baking, mostly because they are good for you and when you mush them up, they make such a great substitution for other not-so-healthy ingredients (like oils, butter, shortening or even eggs if you are wanting a vegan recipe).  The riper the banana, the sweeter the taste too, so with simple cookies where you only have a few ingredients (like this one), a riper banana will boost the taste a little. Don’t forget – cookies can be both delicious and healthy……you just need to use the right ingredients and ones that are whole and not processed.  These tasty little morsels are just that – with a base of bananas and oats, add in a bit of cinnamon and chocolate chips and voila, you have a cookie that will settle that craving and they take less than a hour to make!  I found this really easy recipe on simple-veganista.com.  So, yes, not only are they easy & deee-lish, but they are also gluten free and vegan!

  • 2 mashed bananas
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • a handful of chocolate chips (about 1/2 cup)

Bake in the oven at 350 for about 15-20 minutes.

ready to bakeIf you wanted to change them up a bit, you can always add in things like a splash of vanilla, dried fruit, a couple spoonfuls of nut butter, nuts or even a bit of coconut.  Anything that you might be craving that day!  This time, I decided to change my chocolate chips for butterscotch chips and they were a big hit!

Gluten Free Banana Oat Bites

Kid Approved

With all the baking I do, most of the recipes are full on desserts, meaning they’re made with things like flour, butter, eggs, milk, a lot of the traditional ingredients you’d use when you think of desserts.  So when my beautiful and dear friend, Victoria, asked me if I could write a blog with some gluten free and vegan recipes, I happily went through my recipe books in search of a few good ones.

So, yes, most kids love ooey, gooey, sugary cookies and cupcakes, but in all honesty, how many do you know that would actually eat not just a ‘protein energy ball’, but a gluten free and healthy one?  HA!  Well, I found a crazy delicious recipe on thewhoot.com that is all of the above AND it’s kid approved!  These cutie patooties are Ryland and Jaks, 2 of the 4 sweet little munchkins that I have the pleasure of spending my days with and they are, without a doubt, typical kids that love their cookies!  So, I was very happy when they both devoured a couple of these little morsels!

                                  Ryland approved    Jaks approved

These seriously take about 5 minutes to toss these 8 simple, healthy ingredients together in a bowl – 1 cup oats, 2/3 cup coconut, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 1/2 cup ground flaxseed, 1/3 cup honey (or maple syrup), 1/2 cup cacao nibs, 1/2 cup peanut butter and 1 tsp vanilla. Chill in the fridge for about a 1/2 hour, roll into balls and voila…..you have a tasty treat!  Just keep in mind – with the flaxseed and chia seeds in them, if you eat more than a few of them in one day, they will certainly give your digestion a big boost!!

                                  Ingredients Mixed    Protein Balls

As I’ve done a 30 day healthy detox program with my USANA business a few times, there are a lot of gluten free and vegan recipes, but most are meals, not desserts.  However, one of the desserts in the program, which is both gluten free and vegan, is so delicious, that the pan of them literally does not last more than a couple days any time I’ve made them.  The No Bake Protein Bars recipe was created by Gorete Almeida, who is one of the brilliant nutritionists that helped create the program and some of the recipes.

                                   Ready for the freezer   Plated

Typically, dessert recipes that are gluten free and/or vegan have ingredients that some people really don’t care for too much (like tofu) or that you may need to do a little hunting around for, such as amaranth, buckwheat or coconut flour or even flaxseed meal.  Luckily, these sensational squares are made with simple ingredients and most are probably in your pantry or cupboards right now!  Coconut, oats, cinnamon, vanilla, maple syrup, natural peanut butter……and they’re all healthy too!  And on a side note – these are out-of-this-world delish when you store them in the freezer!