When it comes to indulgence, for me it’s about what choices you make. With this rhubarb and apple crumble recipe you can feel a lot better about your choice as it has minimal sugar. Also, it is jam packed with fruit.
This is an amazing recipe that takes little time to prepare and then you can sort of forget about it in the oven (for about 40-50 min depending on your oven). It caters for adults and children alike and with copious amounts of fruit and rather than a refined flour and full of butter topping this has a more interesting version: oats and nuts which get a delicious roasted flavour in the oven.
Late spring and early summer in Britain is the season of rhubarb, a vegetable with reddish edible stalks. Most recipes I found say to use fair amounts of sugar as the stalks a fairly sharp in taste but what I found with this recipe is that you actually you don’t really need to go overboard. By gently roasting it and adding the apple you will get enough sugar. When choosing rhubarb make sure you choose the most reddish stalks as the unripe ones contain high levels of antinutrients which interfere with the absorption of nutrients in our gut. From a vitamins and minerals perspective rhubarb contain few amounts which mainly will be lost through cooking, however, it also contains anthraquinones which have laxative properties.
The apple I used for this recipe is Royal Gala as this is still in season in the UK. When cooked Royal Gala holds its shape nicely and give a nice peachy flavour. Apples contain more fructose than glucose which make them the perfect choice in terms of desserts as it doesn’t shoot your blood sugar up.
500g apples (use British season – I used the last of Royal Gala season)
1 ½ tbps coconut oil
2 tsp vanilla paste
2 tsp cinnamon powder
300g oat flakes or rolled oats blitzed a couple of seconds in a food processor
120 g pistachios
1 ½ tbsp honey
200g coconut yogurt
1 tbsp elderflower cordial
Preheat the oven at 180 degrees. Wash the rhubarb and cut in 4cm strips. Wash the apples, don’t peel them as most of the good stuff is underneath (although some of it will be lost with cooking so be mindful of that) but it also saves times and gives a nice almost peach like texture. Royal Gala variety still holds its shape nicely once cooked. Cut them in 2cm chunks and discard the core.
In a pan put ½ tbsp of coconut oil (the oil will be hard but you will be melting it in the pan), 1 ½ tbsp honey, 2 tsp vanilla paste and 2 tsp of cinnamon powder and gently melt over a low heat. Pour the liquid on top of the apples and rhubarb and mix together well. Place in an oven proof dish.
Take the rest of 1tbsp coconut oil (again the hard one) place it in a pan and gently melt. Take of the heat and add the oats and mix well. Don’t worry if you think there isn’t enough oil. You don’t want the oats to be very heavy, but it’s more to help the oats achieve flavour in the oven. Add the pistachios and mix well again. Take the mixture and sprinkle over the fruits until well covered.
Bake in the oven at 160 degrees for a good 40-45 min or until you see the mixture bubbling and fruit breaking down (if you have a transparent oven dish) or you see the fruit juices bubbling in the corners of the mixture and the top is nicely browned but not burnt.
These no bake granola bars are the most indulgent snack and definitely more like a dessert. This is because they contain a high level of dates and raisins which have a high level of glucose available for the body. If this glucose is not used then it will be stored by your body in the form of fat.
So these should definitely be enjoyed in moderation, although I must admit it will be hard because they just so amazing:).
There are few health benefits vs a normal highly refined dessert.
Oats – Contain gramine, a natural sedative, treating depression, anxiety and insomnia. They are also easy to digest (contain the most soluble fibre than any other grain);
Buckwheat – Gluten free, contains mucilaginous fibres which lubricates the digestive tract;
Hemp seeds – contain a perfect balance of omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids which help in brain function and heart health. They contain fibre but also essential amino acids.
Whenever I made these chocolate and orange energy balls people absolutely loved them! The texture of these are slightly more crumbly and that is because I don’t use as many dates as shop bought ones. While dates contain dietary fibre which helps relieve constipation, Wathey are also very high in glucose, which means your blood sugar will sore high and whatever it’s not used by your body for energy it is stored by your body for later in the form of fat. So these energy balls a lot kinder to your waistline:).
However, nuts are in incredible source of good fats which are essential for our health.
Almonds – High in monounsaturated fats, have a high content of fibre which regulates blood sugars as well as vitamins and minerals;
Walnuts – Rich in omega 3 and antioxidants and serotonin which lifts depression;
Hazelnuts – High in monounsaturated fats, vitamin E (a powerful antioxidant), manganese essential for development and metabolism;
Sunflower seeds – good source of polyunsaturated fats, magnesium, vitamin B6 and some iron.
When at home: soak the nuts and seeds over night to remove the phytic acid (found within the hulls of nuts, seeds and grains). This is indigestible for humans so the best way to reduce is by soaking. Another way is via lightly toasting the seeds and nuts. Place the almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts on a baking tray and put in a heated oven (at 180 degrees) for 4 min. In the last min of toasting add the pumpkin seeds. These will quickly toast.
Pit the dates and place with all other ingredients in a food processor. Blitz for around 4-5 min or until fine crumbs and hold together when pressed.
I might be a bit late for Valentine’s Day but I am sure you’ve heard that everyday should be Valentine’s day…and I agree. But I do like to celebrate Valentine’s day just because it offers a bit of an excuse or forces you to do something special. Not to say that I do something special for my loved one only once a year.
So, what could be more special than chocolate…I would say red velvet chocolate truffles. This recipe is something you can enjoy not just with the loved one but also for special occasions with friends and family. It is dairy free, no added refined sugar but definitely not indulgent free. I love desserts, but as I previously wrote in one of my blog post, sugar is not the best friend of your body. I have a balanced view on diet but for me balance means 80% good and 20% indulgent and if I choose indulgence I tend to go for the high quality ingredients and it needs to be something I really really love. So rather than having a processed cake bought from the supermarket lathered in artificial preservatives and loaded with sugar I prefer to choose a home made (including restaurant made) favourite dessert (I love home made sticky toffee pudding or chocolate puddings) or I come up with recipes which are not as bad for you. Red velvet chocolate truffles is one of these recipes.
I recommend using min 70% dark chocolate which means you are limiting the amount of sugar and it also feels a lot more chocolaty (desired for truffles). This recipe doesn’t have dairy (which means you are limiting the oestrogen that comes with it) however it does contain coconut oil and coconut milk which contain saturated fat in high proportion. There is a lot of debate around the health benefits of coconut vs dairy and the debate is not really settled. As a short summary coconut contains high proportion of lauric acid (a medium chain fatty acid) which can also be found in breast milk, palm kernel oil, certain nuts and in small amounts in cow’s and goat’s milk. It was believed that lauric acid mainly increases the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) (or the “good” cholesterol) (source: Mensink RP, Zock PL, Kester AD, Katan MB, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2oo3) . The same study also concluded that the effects of the lauric acid on heart disease are uncertain. The reason behind this is there are multiple factors affecting heart disease which cannot be studied in isolation. I still consider any dessert a treat and I believe these should be consumed in moderation. One potential added benefit of these red velvet chocolate truffles is the addition of the raspberry powder. Not only you get the bright colour but because the raspberries have been freeze dried means that in theory if the raspberries are of good quality (organically grown) it should have preserved most of the benefits of raspberries.
Break the chocolate into smaller pieces by bashing the chocolate to the kitchen worktop (the chocolate still needs to be in the packaging). Place the chocolate pieces into a bowl and add 3 tsp of coconut oil.
Open the can of light coconut milk and carefully scrape the harden paste and place in a pan. Add 4/5 tpsb of the liquid and this in total should be around 250ml. The rest of the liquid you can use it for a smoothie so do not throw it away. Gently heat the mixture until all dissolved into a liquid, but do not bring to boil. Pour the coconut milk on to chocolate and carefully mix together. Be careful not to stir too quickly as the mixture could split. So take your time…this will take a couple of good minutes. If the mixture is loosing heat and you find the chocolate hasn’t melted completely pop it onto a pan with simmering water for a minute, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Mix together until the entire chocolate has melted and you have a smooth mixture, very much like a chocolate cream (the consistency of custard).
Add the vanilla paste, pinch of salt and the amaretto and mix.
The mixture is too runny to create truffles so leave the mixture to harden in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight. If you are too impatient (which I can completely understand when you have a bowl full of chocolate sauce:) ) then you can dip strawberries in….just as nice!
When the mixture has set, you can either presented at the table and let everyone scoop their own truffles and then dunk them into the raspberry powder or if you have waiting overnight or for quite a while you will find the mixture might have set quite hard so then you can just scoop out and mould truffles with your hands and then roll them in the raspberry powder. Don't worry if you feel the mixture is too hard to mould. With the heat from your hands it will become more malleable. I have to worn you though that your hands will be properly chocolately, and of course...at the end I will not blame you if you start licking your hands :).
The inspiration for this week’s post comes from the fact that I will be celebrating my birthday this weekend…whop whop! And birthday means birthday cake and what I cake I have for you. It’s a beetroot cake! This birthday it’s a bit of a milestone for both me and my one and only but at least I am not moving age bracket…you know…the one you need to tick when you declare your age in surveys for example..muhahaha.
So what better way to celebrate than bake a cake! I must confess…I am not just a foodie…but I also LOVE bakes and sweets. Now, you will turn around and possibly tell me off for saying this. But, knowing how toxic refined sugar is (if you still don’t know check my older post S stands for Sugar to find out why), the challenge I am always giving myself is what recipes can I come up with that are not completely nutritionally deprived. Also, in the same time…even though the recipes I come up with are much better than your conventional high fat, high sugar, white flour desserts I still treat them as a…treat:). So please do indulge in these amazing dessert recipes but in moderation.
Energy protein balls is one of my favourite snacks which you can even have as a dessert…full of protein and good fats minus the refined sugar!
The beauty of this recipe is that you can be creative. You can do whatever mixture you would like for your energy protein balls. So you can use less dates and add instead cranberries, raisins, goji berries, sultanas. The same with nuts and seeds; there are so many choices you can have: macademia, sesame, lindseeds, hemp seeds. Just make sure you soak them first. You can even add some wheatgrass powder or chlorella if you feel brave!