Cookie Balls

Cookie Balls

Cookie ball? That’s right. In other words, the infamous chocolatey snacks that was creatively named by my son. Ha! And the name stuck. And now that’s what everybody around here calls them. It’s like they’re part of our family, and they are the epitome of the word “treat” to our kids. So its time to share the crazy cookie ball love, people.
Cookie Balls

The good news is that this recipe is one of the simplest ever. And it’s so so good!! Featuring just a few natural ingredients, they are a healthier alternative to many other sweets and taste just as good as your regular chocolate bar if you ask me. Made from three basic ingredients; dates, nuts and coconut, they are free from refined sugars but packed with health boosting natural fibre and healthy fats. Though dates are naturally sweet and rich in sugars, they also have a nutrient profile that is far superior to most other natural sweeteners and are packed with fibre, which helps slow the absorption of sugar and therefore has minimal impact on your blood sugar levels.

I love making these for people who assume that eating healthy and kicking fake sugars to the curb is boring and hard. These are hard not to love, and they are great to have on hand for when you need a little something sweet.

cookie balls

Before and after picture of blended ingredients… Simply process ingredients in a food processor and roll into little balls. 

Cookie Balls
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Recipe type: Snack
Author:
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: about 15 cookie balls
Ingredients
  • 100 gm (3½ oz) soft dates (it is very important they are soft - Medjool dates or Deglet Noir are best)
  • 100 gm (3½ oz) nuts (I prefer a mix of hazelnuts and almonds)
  • 50 gm (1½ oz) coconut (flakes or shredded coconut)
  • pinch sea salt
  • 3 tbsp cacao or cocoa powder
Instructions
  1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and process until the mixture is thick and sticky and sticks together as you process (see picture above).
  2. Scoop up a bit of mixture and form into a round ball using your hands.
  3. Place on a plate or bowl and store in the fridge or freezer where they will keep well for 3-4 weeks.

cookie balls

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Herb + Hemp Seed Falafels

Herb + Hemp Seed Falafels

I love friday nights. It’s our “date night in” most weeks, and the night we spend catching up over a glass of wine with some easy food. Sometimes this means take-out from our favourite Lebanese restaurant down the road, but this week it’ll be my homemade version of our favourite take-out in the form of these mini falafels wrapped up in lettuce leaves and topped with cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, hummus & tahini dressing.

If you’re looking for some easy homemade take-out food, here’s an idea to add to your list. These are easy to make, keep well in the fridge for a few days and are baked instead of fried, and full of fresh ingredients, making them a healthier alternative to the deep fried version! They are great for kids too, but be warned that they can get a little messy. Baked instead of deep fried also means they are a more crumbly than your typical falafel… there’s always a price, right?! Hah! 

I love serving these with my homemade creamy hummus or my bean free hummus. The bean free hummus recipe was posted when I first started blogging and while the pic is pretty awful, the recipe is awesome. I really promise! Ha. I love looking through some of my early recipes and laughing (slash cringing) at the photos. It reminds me of how great humble beginnings are (and still are!).

As always, I love seeing all your recreations. Please share them with me via InstagramFacebook and Twitter using #nyoutritious.

Also, please let me know your favourite homemade take-out foods if you have any!??

Herb + Hemp Seed Falafels
Herb + Hemp Seed Falafels

Herb + Hemp Seed Falafels
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Recipe type: Main
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 20 small falafels
Ingredients
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • pinch black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ red onion, finely chopped
  • small handful fresh parsley
  • small handful fresh coriander
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp hemp seeds (optional - they will work just fine without)
  • 2 tbsp buckwheat flour (or spelt/oat flour)
  • 2 tbsp water (or more if mixture is too dry)
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 160°C (320 F).
  2. Place chickpeas, onion, garlic, parsley, coriander, hemp seeds and tahini in a food processor with an S-blade and process for about 10 seconds until all the ingredients are well combined and the chickpeas are broken up. (this may take longer or shorter depending on the kitchen equipment you use. You can also do this by hand and make sure your onion, garlic and herbs are really finely chopped beforehand).
  3. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add flour, seasonings, oil and water. Combine well using a spoon until you get a mixture that will easily stick together. (if the mixture is too dry, add 1 tbsp extra water).
  4. Scoop a tbsp of the falafel mixture into your hand (wet hands make it easier!) and form a small ball. Place each falafel on a non-stick baking paper (parchment paper) and repeat with the rest of the mixture.
  5. Bake the falafels in the preheated oven for 15-20 mins (baking time will depend on your oven so keep an eye out during the last 5 mins) until browned and firm on the outside.
  6. Remove from oven and leave to cool for a few minutes before serving.
  7. Serve with fresh vegetables, hummus, tahini dressing or wraps

Herb + Hemp Seed Falafels

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Healthy Ways To Beat Stress

Being busy and feeling “stressed out” has become the new normal for many. Sometimes we don’t even notice, which is kind of scary, right?! But ongoing stress has a dark side and is more than just a by-product of a so called productive lifestyle. Although stress starts in the brain, it affects the entire body and can over time cause some serious disruptions to our body’s natural balance by messing with our hormones, skin health, sleep, digestion, mood, weight and appetite!5 Compared to just a decade ago, I feel like there’s an endless amount of stimulation going on. And it can be so hard to disconnect from it all… From work emails coming in all hours of the day, to cell phones and social media – stress can be hard to avoid and can impact our health and wellbeing in so many ways.

I recently felt she sting of stress in a way I have never felt it before, and after it started to impact my sleep I realised something had to change. So today I’m sharing my favourite ways to fight off stress. Being healthy is not just about what we eat – its about the whole body and having that overall balance that in turn makes us feel and look awesome. I hope this helps you!

stress

1. Eat plenty of stress fighting foods

Research suggests that chronic stress often results in “stress eating”, which involves a greater intake of high energy and sugar rich foods4. Unfortunately these foods do not helps the body in any way but instead often worsen the burden of stress by depressing out immune system even more and causing further hormone imbalances (yes, sugar can absolutely mess with our hormones!). So focusing on stress fighting foods is essential and will help your body on many levels. These foods include, leafy greens (think; spinach, kale, arugula, and chard), omega 3 rich foods (fish, chia seeds, walnut, flax and fish oil supplements), brightly coloured foods full of antioxidants (including; berries, bell pepper, sweet potato, butternut squash, pomegranate) and easy to digest foods, such as avocado, smoothies, stews and soups, are helpful because they don’t require much digestion but contains plenty of readily available nutrients to energise your body. In short, any plant foods are amazing for combating stress as they are full of nutrients that support and protect the body against the damaging effects of stress.

2. Chew your food well

My stomach is one of the first things to play up when I’m feeling stressed. Feeling stressed makes me feel rushed and not very mindful when I’m eating, so reminding myself to chew my food properly is absolutely key and one of the best things I can do! No matter how healthy your food is, if you’re not chewing well your body likely won’t absorb all the nutrients as effectively. Meanwhile, any undigested food particles will only worsen your digestive stress more. As an easy rule to remember, try and chew until your food till its liquid. And never eat when stressed or while multitasking… in other words, try to avoid eating in front of the TV, your phone and computer. Research actually shows that when eating distracted in front of the TV or our phone, we not only impair our digestion but also end up eating more1.

3. Watch your caffeine intake

…and out crowd your coffee and black teas with herbal varieties instead. Herbal teas are caffeine free and soothing to the entire body. Many of them aid digestion as well, and while caffeine from coffee and black teas are irritating to the gut, many herbal teas have calming and healing effects on the stomach. Ginger, peppermint, liquorice and chamomile tea are among my favourites.

4. Go for a walk and prioritise time outside

Sometimes taking a brisk walk outside will is better for reducing stress than a run on a treadmill in a busy and stinking gym. In my experience, simply being outside have such an calming and de-stressing effect on my body, so if even its just for a short time, prioritise getting outdoors.

5. Turn on some music

Listening to your favourite music can be a very helpful tool for managing stress. Research shows that listening to music helps lower the body’s response to stress, making it an easy way to help yourself de-stress2. Another study researched the benefit of relaxing music as compared to silence. Interestingly, results showed that listening to relaxing music was able to stop cortisol (stress hormone) levels from rising, while silence had the opposite effect3.

 

Referenced articles:

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4077693/
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3734071/
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14681158/
  4. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0899900707002493 
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2474765/
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Divine Chocolate Covered Cashew Caramels

Divine Chocolate Cashew Caramels

The word ‘divine’ pretty much sums up exactly how I feel about these chocolate covered raw cashew caramels. After making them dozens of times over the past few weeks, I still can’t believe that they are made from just a few simple ingredients and yet taste like real deal chocolate caramels this much!? I dunno, but they do… and they are ridiculously good. And chances are you probably already have the ingredients needed in your kitchen cupboard! All you need are some raw cashew, soft dates, coconut oil and some dark chocolate. And an S-blade food processor to blend it all up.

Divine Chocolate Cashew Caramels

I always have small treats like these or my raw brownies or energy balls in the freezer to substitute other common sweets. They’re especially great for kids, and have none of the nasty additives (colourings, preservatives, fake sugars, etc.) found in common candies and chocolate bars. While dates do contain natural sugars they also contain fibre, which help balance the release of energy and insulin response. And in combination with the healthy fats from the cashews and coconut oil, you’re not getting hit with a rush of pure fake sugar the same way you do when diving into a common commercial chocolate bar.

There are so many easy and healthier options out there and on this site, so go and check out the Nyoutritious Index under the ‘Healthy Sweets’ section for more inspiration.

Divine Chocolate Cashew Caramels

My son, August, on his 3rd birthday scored some of the offcuts. 

Divine Chocolate Cashew Caramels

Divine Chocolate Covered Cashew Caramels
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Recipe type: Dessert
Author:
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: about 30 caramels (depending on size)
Ingredients
  • 75g raw cashew nuts
  • 75g (approx. 10) soft dates (I recommend soft deglet noir or medjool dates) Dry dates will likely not work for this recipe!
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean or extract (optional)
  • 30g (1 oz) 70% or 85% dark chocolate
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
Instructions
  1. In an S-blade food processor, combine dates, cashews, coconut oil, sea salt and vanilla extract. Process until the mixture starts sticking together and the oils from the nuts are starting to release (you can usually see the mixture becomes shiny and "wet" looking).
  2. Remove the sticky date and cashew mixture from the food processor and place on a piece of non stick parchment paper. Fold the parchment paper over so one end covers the mixture and flatten the mixture using your hands. Shape the mixture to a flat square and place it in the fridge/freezer while you melt the chocolate.
  3. While the date and cashew mixture is cooling down, melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a water bath. The coconut oil helps avoid the chocolate stick to the caramel layer, but is not necessary if you prefer to avoid it.
  4. Once melted, pour over the cooled caramel square and put it back in the freezer to set for minimum 30 mins. Cut the caramels into small squares and store them in the freezer to keep them chewy.

Divine Chocolate Cashew Caramels

I absolutely love seeing all your recreations. Please share them with me via InstagramFacebook and Twitter using #nyoutritious.

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