Pistachio + Almond Stuffed Dates

Pistachio + Almond Stuffed Dates

For as long as I can remember, homemade confectionary has been a Christmas tradition in our family. I remember loving the tradition of sitting down and fiddling with small parts of marzipan, nougat and different kinds of nuts + chocolates and creating little candies that would later be devoured.

This year, I’m continuing that same tradition and making these pistachio stuffed dates my special contribution to the Christmas confectionary table. The salted pistachio + almond mixture paired with the sweet medjool dates is simply divine. Add to that a hint of orange and a little dark chocolate, and you have a truly amazing and all natural Christmas candy that is ridiculously delicious and cosy to make. For smaller bites, you can halve the dates completely and stuff them like little boats.

As much as I still love marzipan, I love that these are completely free of any refined sugars and other additives and preservatives. Even though dates are high in natural sugars, they also have a nutrient profile that is far superior to most other sweeteners. The nutrients in dates are easily digested and readily absorbed, and are naturally rich in minerals, such as potassium, magnesium and calcium, as well as fibre, which makes them extra satisfying.

stuffed dates

Pistachio + Almond Stuffed Dates
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Recipe type: Dessert
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Serves: 8 dates
Ingredients
  • 8 medjool dates, pitted
  • ¼ cup pistachio nuts
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • 1-2 tsp honey
  • ¼ tsp orange zest (OPTIONAL)
  • sea salt to taste (I used around ¼ tsp)
  • 30 gm (1 oz) dark chocolate (I used a 70% dark)
  • extra coconut to decorate
Instructions
  1. Place the pistachio nuts and desiccated coconut in a small food processor and process until chopped finely, but not quite as fine as a nut flour.
  2. Transfer the pistachio mixture to a small bowl and add almond flour, honey, orange zest (if using) and salt. Combine well using a spoon or your hands.
  3. Use a hand to press the mixture together in small clumps. If they mixture is too crumbly and does not stick together, add a little more honey or almond butter.
  4. Slice open the top of the dates in a lengthways cut and stuff them with the pistachio mixture, using as much or as little as you like.
  5. Next melt the chocolate in a double boiler (or microwave).
  6. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the dates, followed by a sprinkle of coconut.
  7. Place the dates in the fridge, allowing the chocolate to harden.
  8. Serve and enjoy.
Notes
For smaller bites, halve the dates completely and stuff them like little boats.

Pistachio + Almond Stuffed Dates

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Healthy Travel Foods

Staying healthy while traveling can be a challenge to say the least. Especially during long distance flights where you’re left relying on flight food. Unless, of course, you’re organised and intentional and ready to embrace some of the BYO flight snacks I’m about to introduce you to.
Since relocating from Australia to the US, followed by a move to the UK over the span of 5 years, we have taken the long journey back to Sydney every year to visit family and friends. A trip involving close to 30 long hours of travel, which has given me plenty of practice when it comes finding my mojo with healthy travel foods.
In just a few days we will once again embark on the journey from London to Sydney. This time with two young kids, lots of extra snacks, a super charged iPad and a positive resolve to have many lighthearted laughs in moments of chaos (…let’s be real, those moments are gonna happen).

Nyoutritious travel snacks

Nyoutritious Travel Foods

Having healthy options while traveling is key to feeling your best and beating many common travel complaints. Bringing your own snacks during long flights not only saves you eating flight food (which is usually void of any nutritional value whatsoever), but also allows you to eat healthier and eat when you’re actually hungry, both of which will help you adjust better to the new time zone. Other than eating well, the best thing to remember to drink plenty of water. Even when you don’t feel thirsty  (…thirst is not the first sign of dehydration). Drinking plenty during the flight and in the first 12 hours after landing is important and helpful for your digestive system, your skin and for easing the jetlag. Because the air inside the flight is so incredibly dry it will dehydrate you much faster than usual, and often without you noticing. For this same reason, it is equally as important to avoid dehydrating foods and drinks, such as caffeine, alcohol and salty foods.

Here are some of my favourite healthy travel foods…

Chia Seed Crackers (gluten free, dairy free, vegan)
These make an amazing snack full stop and are perfect for traveling! Packed with nutrients, nourishing omega 3 fats and healthy fibre, they are not only filling but also super tasty and easy to bring along.

Mango Hazelnut Granola Clusters (dairy free, gluten free option)
These healthy granola clusters make a great snack for you and your littles. They are very low in sugar compared to commercial granola varieties and cluster together beautifully, making them perfect for a finger snack. They are full of healthy fats and fibre and you can add whatever dried fruits you want, or leave them out altogether. For a gluten free version, try my Nutty Paleo Granola instead, which is equally as delicious.

Chia Seed Sandwich Thins (gluten free, grain free, dairy free, vegan)
These sandwich thins are nutritious and super high in fibre and healthy fats. They are incredibly filling and excellent for promoting healthy digestion, and can be used as you would any other sandwich bread or eaten plain or dipped in some hummus.

Raw Energy Power Balls (dairy free, gluten free, grain free, vegan, raw)
Made with dates and heart healthy nuts, these power balls are a great treat to help satisfy your sweet tooth during long hours of travel. I prefer these over chocolate any day and my son loves them too! For a less messy affair, skip the last step of rolling them in coconut, sesame and cacao as the coconut will go everywhere.

Healthy Breakfast Cookies (dairy free, gluten free option, vegan)
These are great if you’re traveling with young children. I was appalled when I saw that the main meal for my 2 year old old toddler was a pouch of sweet custard, a banana and a small tub of apple sauce. So bringing kids snacks is a must for us and these cookies are not only filling, but also nutritious while completely refined sugar free. And they’re so easy your toddler can probably make them (ok maybe not, but they can help).

Homemade Trail Mix 
Making your own trail mix is not only easy but also healthier than most commercial types, which are often loaded with extra and completely unnecessary sugars and syrups. This post by Teresa Cutter has a great recipe as well as some good details about the nutritional benefits of the different types of nuts, seeds + dried fruits. My son recently took a liking to macadamia nuts and almonds, so I will definitely be making my own for this trip.

Hummus (gluten free, grain free, vegan, dairy free)
I know its a boring classic. But I am a big fan of veggie sticks with hummus and love bringing a small tub (under 100 ml) of my homemade creamy hummus, which is so delicious. For a grain free hummus try my vegetable hummus or my immune boosting zucchini walnut hummus, which are quite similar in taste but completely bean free. To go with the hummus I pack sticks of carrot, bell pepper, cucumber and celery in little zip lock bags, all of which are super rehydrating and rich in immune boosting nutrients.

Herbal Teas
Bring your own herbal tea bags. Licorice tea is a current favourite of mine, especially this liquorice peppermint tea from Pukka Teas. Not only is this tea delicious and sweet but it is also great for promoting healthy digestion, which is a bonus during long flights. I always opt for caffeine free herbals teas as caffeine is dehydrating and can worsen jetlag + dehydrate the skin (more on that later).

Large water bottle
I drink a lot of water, especially when traveling. Keeping hydrated is the best way to beat travel hangovers and minimise jetlag. It also prevents you from getting dehydrated, which will make you feel extra sluggish, compromise your digestive system and have you craving sweet and junky foods. Bring an empty large bottle in your carry on and have the staff fill it up during the flight (note that during short distance flights the airline staff may not be allowed to fill bottles with water unless you’re pregnant or nursing).

Nyoutritious Skin Food

Long flights can also be incredibly taxing on your skin. Other than eating well and drinking plenty of water, nourishing your skin with the right skincare products is essential if you want keep your skin looking its best while traveling.

Below are my top 3 skincare products I always bring with me during long distance flights…

Nourishing shea butter moisturizer
I love using my nourishing body butter when flying. Made from a combination of raw unrefined shea butter and other oils, this moisturiser is rich and full of nourishing fatty acids that penetrate and absorb deeply into the skin, leaving it feeling soft and healthy. I use it on my body, my hands and in my face when flying to prevent my skin from becoming too dry. It is absolutely amazing!

Rose water facial mist
This rose water mist is a perfect way to freshen up your face while flying and doubles as a skin tonic as well. Best of all, it smells great and is perfect for taking to the beach too if you’re headed somewhere warm.

Mini sized castile soap
Castile soaps are made from saponified oils and are gentle, all natural and non-drying on the skin. I love using this as a facial cleanser during flights. Off flights I use this soap as a body wash for myself and the kids and it is in fact so natural that it can be used as a toothpaste as well… I have tried this with the peppermint flavoured soap and found it a tad too weird. But hey, it is possible, and good to know if you’re really stuck and don’t have any toothpaste. Ha!

 

While we’re off to Australia, I wish you all a great weekend! I’ll be looking forward to posting another great Healthy Holiday christmas recipe again next week, from the other side of the world.

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad

Roasted Brussels Sprout Salad

It’s been a little quiet here on Nyoutritious this past week as my husband and I ventured over to New York City for a week with both kids. It was our first trip traveling as a family of four and it was great. We had an incredible time in the city we called home for over 3 years, and best of all, got to spend time with some of our amazing friends. The only downside is we all caught a bad cold and ended up back in London with the sniffles and jetlag in tow. But hey, sometimes a few days of snuggling on the couch with the kids aint so bad after all.

Continuing our Healthy Holidays theme, I’m celebrating the return of my smell and taste (finally!) with this warm roasted winter dish. Featuring deliciously roasted brussels sprouts, peas and maple glazed pecans and cranberries, this warm salad makes a perfect side dish for your christmas or thanksgiving table.

Roasted Brussels Sprout Salad

Nutritional + Health Benefits…

Brussels sprouts offer some fantastic health benefits and are rich in many vitamins, minerals and powerful antioxidants. They are particularly rich in vitamins C with just 1 cup providing more than 100% of our daily need of this important nutrient. Like most other green vegetables, brussels sprouts are also an amazing source of vitamin K – a potent anti-inflammatory nutrient that helps prevent and counteract inflammation that can result from excessive stress and other environmental and lifestyle related factors, including over the counter medication, poor diet and lack of exercise. Including brussels sprouts into your holiday menu will also benefit your body’s ability to effectively detoxify itself and cope with the extra indulgences that often follow the holiday season. Healthy detoxification is vital to our overall health, and a side dish like this is a great and delicious way to savour the holidays while being mindful of nourishing our overall health the best way possible in the midst of all the festivities.

Roasted Pea + Brussels Sprouts Salad
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Recipe type: salad
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Serves: serves 2
Ingredients
  • 450 gm (1 lbs) fresh brussels sprouts
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • few sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 60 gm (2 oz) fresh peas
  • 45 gm (1½ oz) pecans roughly chopped
  • 30 gm (1 oz) dried cranberries
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F).
  2. Rinse, peel and halve the brussels sprouts and set aside.
  3. In a medium sized glass bowl, combine 1 tbsp olive oil, minced garlic, a few sprigs rosemary and salt + pepper. Add the halved brussels sprouts and toss to coat until all the sprouts are covered in the oil + herb mixture.
  4. Place the brussels sprouts on a piece of non-stick parchment paper and place in a pre heated oven. Roast for 15 mins until golden brown.
  5. While the sprouts are in the oven, combine fresh peas, cranberries and pecans in the same bowl used to coat the sprouts. Add maple syrup, olive oil and salt + pepper and mix well using your hands or a spoon.
  6. After the sprouts have cooked for 15 mins, remove the tray from the oven and add the pea mixture to the sprouts.
  7. Place the tray in the oven again and cook for another 5-10 minutes, until brussels sprouts are cooked but not mushy.
  8. Remove tray from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes.
  9. Serve warm and enjoy.

Roasted Brussels Sprout Salad

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Carrot Cake With Vegan Lemon Cream Frosting

carrot cake with lemon cream frosting

We were walking our neighbourhood the other afternoon, in the dark at around 5pm, when we passed the newly opened ice rink next to the Natural History Museum. We stopped to admire the perfect scene of the ice rink surrounded by trees covered in fairy lights and with a beautiful old school carousel next to it. It set the perfect scene and reminded me of how much I love this city during this season. And every other season, but this one in particular. And it gave me a great excuse to share my first healthy holiday recipe. Carrot cake.

So, about this carrot cake. I mean, I don’t even know where to start with this one. It is rare that I’ve been this proud of a cake creation, and after introducing it to several friends (as well as a good handful of toddlers) who all loved it – I’m pretty sure you guys will love it too! And with all the upcoming festivities surrounding thanksgiving & Christmas, what better season to introduce you to this wonder of a cake! And one that, despite being healthy, doesn’t taste like it.

What’s good about it…

This cake is bursting with freshness, rich flavour and incredible nutrition. Packed with fresh carrots, it is full of antioxidants, vitamin A and fibre that will leave you perfectly satisfied – minus a nasty sugar high! In fact, 1 cup of carrot provides four times of your daily need for vitamin A. Made with a mix of coconut and almond flour, this cake is gluten free, refined sugar free, dairy free and suitable for those following a grain-free or paleo diet.
The lemon cream frosting is raw and very simply made from a mix of soaked cashews + macadamia nuts with a touch of vanilla and lemon. It has an amazing and fresh lemony flavour that compliments the cake so well and adds a great lightness that is just irresistible.

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In the recipe you’ll see that the frosting calls for pre-soaking the nuts. Not only does pre-soaking the nuts soften them and make them easier to blend in order to get a smooth and creamy frosting, it also enhances their digestibility. Cashews are very high in phytic acids, also known as anti-nutrients. These phytic acids are problematic since they are non-digestible to the human body and tend to bind to other minerals in the body when consumed, causing serious deficiencies of important minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc, all of which are essential for our health. The simple step of soaking nuts and grains reduces the amount of phytic acid significantly, making them far easier to digest without stealing away other minerals. That said, if you have a good high speed blender (such as a vitamix) the cream will still work without the soaking, but I highly recommend soaking for the above mentioned reasons.

carrot cake with lemon cream frosting

Carrot Cake With Vegan Lemon Cream Frosting
5.0 from 1 reviews
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Recipe type: Cake
Author:
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Serves: 1 x 8" cake form
Ingredients
Cake
  • 250 gm (2 cups) grated carrots
  • 5 organic free-range eggs (medium sized)
  • 2 tbsp coconut or macadamia nut oil
  • ⅓ cup + 1 tbsp coconut flour
  • ¼ cup (120 ml) almond flour
  • ¼ cup natural sweetener (maple syrup, honey, coconut sugar)
  • 1½ tsp bicarb soda
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp lemon zest
  • ¼ cup hazelnuts, chopped
  • ¼ cup raisins (OPTIONAL)
Frosting
  • 60 gm (2 oz) cashew nuts, soaked
  • 30 gm (1 oz) macadamia nuts, soaked
  • 120 ml (1/4 cup) lemon juice
  • zest from ½ lemon (or more if desired)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1-2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp water
Instructions
Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F)
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and grated carrots.
  3. Add in oil, maple syrup, lemon juice & lemon zest and mix well.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine coconut and almond flour, bicarb soda, hazelnuts, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg & raisins (if using).
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the carrot mix and combine well.
  6. Grease a round cake form with a little coconut oil and pour the cake mixture into the form, smoothing out the top with the back of a spoon.
  7. Place in the oven and bake for 20-30 mins (I used fan force) until a knife comes out clean. (note that if you don't use fan force the cake will need to bake around 5-10 minutes longer in the oven)
  8. Leave to cool in the cake form for around 20 minutes.
  9. Remove from the cake for and add the frosting. Serve warm or cool and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Frosting
  1. Soak cashews and macadamia nuts in water for minimum 3 hours. Rinse, drain and transfer the nuts to a food processor or high speed blender.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to the food processor and blend on high until the frosting is completely smooth and creamy in texture. Adjust honey and lemon to taste if you prefer it sweeter or less tart.
  3. Scoop out of the food processor and pour on top of the carrot cake. Spread in an even layer using the back of a spoon and decorate with a sprinkle of chopped hazelnuts, macadamia nuts or coconut flakes.

Needless to say, this carrot cake will definitely feature at our thanksgiving table this year. And christmas too… which we’ll be spending soaking up the sun in Australia (sorry, I just had to sneak that in there). And for all of you wondering if this will be too heavy for a hot christmas, the answer is no. What I would suggest, for those of you wanting to emphasise the freshness of it, is making a double batch of the lemon cream frosting and then serve it on the side as well. It is so delicious that you can easily eat it by the spoonful.

carrot cake

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