12 Balls of Christmas: Nature’s Fudge Truffles

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Amy

For the third ball of Christmas I would like to offer you….Nature’s Fudge Truffles!

Mother Nature never ceases to amaze me….check out these bad boys and I’m sure you’ll agree!  The ingredient list includes….cashews, dates and cocoa.  That’s it.  Believe me they don’t disappoint!  They taste fudgy and delightful without all the guilt, refined sugar and butter!

Ingredients:

1 cup medjool dates, pitts removed (if using other dried dates, soak in water for 10 minutes to soften and hydrate)

1 cup soaked, drained cashews (3 hours to overnight)

1/4 cup cocoa or cacao powder

Directions:

1. Process cashew in the food processor until smooth.  Add pitted dates and cocoa powder.  Blend until smooth and mixed well.

2. Using wet hands, roll into 1 inch balls. If desired, roll in cocoa powder (you can add some cayenne or cinnamon for some pizzazz if desired!).

Makes about 1 dozen.  Store in the fridge or freezer.

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12 Balls of Christmas: Sunflower Truffles

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Amy:

For the second ball of Christmas, I’d like to offer you….these delicious sunflower seed butter truffles!  These are a non-nut alternative for those with sensitivities or allergies to nuts.  But believe me….peanut butter balls are dang tasty too!  Feel free to swap out for whatever nut or seed butter you have on hand.  The earthy sunflower taste, balanced with honey and chocolate is madly addictive!  The beauty of it all?  Simple ingredients.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup sunflower seed butter or other nut/seed butter

2-3 tbsp honey

3-4 tbsp oat bran or finely processed oats or ground flaxseed

1/2 cup chocolate chips or good quality chocolate

1 tsp coconut oil

Directions:

1. Mix together sunflower butter, honey and oat bran until well combined and dough-like.  Roll dough into 1 inch balls, set aside on parchment paper. Wet hands if too sticky.

2. Melt chocolate chips and coconut oil on the stove or in the microwave.  Using a fork, coat each ball in chocolate and allow excess to drip off.  Place on parchment paper.  Freeze for about 10 minutes until chocolate is hardened.

3. Store in the fridge or freezer.

 

 

12 Balls of Christmas: Pumpkin Spice Balls

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Amy:

I’ve decided to make a series of recipes entitled the 12 Balls of Christmas….which will feature irresistible balls of raw ingredients with a holiday flare!  I got the inspiration while looking for fun recipes to give to my co-workers for Christmas this year.  I hope they’ll be as stoked as I am 🙂

For the first ball of Christmas I’d like to offer you….the pumpkin spice ball!  Who doesn’t like pumpkin, cinnamon, raisins and oats?!?  Whip these little babies up and they will be gone before you can blink an eye!  They didn’t last two days in my house….especially after I drizzled melted chocolate over them.  I guess I’ll have to start freezing them immediately if I’m going to have any left for presents….

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup oats (wheat free if needed)

1/2 cup pecans, raw or toasted (or more oats if not using nuts)

1/3 cup pumpkin

1/2 cup raisins, soaked for 5 minutes in warm water

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp ginger

Pinch of salt

Chocolate drizzle (optional):

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or high quality chocolate

1 tsp coconut oil (optional to make it thinner)

Directions:

1. Pulse the oats, nuts (if using) in the food processor until ground into a fine powder.

2. Add remaining ingredients to food processor and pulse for a minutes or until well encorporated.

3. Using wet hands roll dough into 1 inch sized balls.

4. For chocolate drizzle, met chocolate chips in the microwave for about 1 minute or on the stove until soft.  Mix in coconut oil and stir well until totally smooth.  Drizzle over balls.  Harden in the freezer for about 10 minutes.  Alternative garnishes can be a sprinkle of cinnamon or some crushed nuts.

Makes about a dozen.  Store in fridge for about a week or freezer.

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Pfeffernesse (Tiny Mennonite Christmas Cookies)

 Pfeffernesse

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Amy:

Growing up at Christmas time we had quite a number of traditional Mennonite cookies and Pfeffernesse was one of them!  These “pepper nuts” (which is the direct translation) are just that – hard little nut sized cookies which pepper as one of the flavours!  These spice cookies go very well when you eat them with tea but be warned….they are quite addictive.

There are many different recipes out there for pfeffernesse.  This particular one I adapted from Mennonite Girls Can Cook recipe book and used a gluten free flour blend instead of wheat flour.  They taste just as great 🙂 Make sure that you have all the spices on hand as they really contribute the characteristic taste to the cookies, especially the ground anise seed.  I’ve increased the amount of the spices from the original recipe as I like them to pack a punch.

The gluten free flour that I used was equal parts brown rice flour, white rice flour, sorghum flour and tapioca starch with some xanthan gum added.  I made a giant batch (make sure to mix it really well with a whisk and store in a 5 L jar or container)

  • 1 Bag (24 oz or 4.25 Cups) Brown Rice Flour
  • 1 Bag (24 oz or 4.25 Cups) White Rice Flour
  • 1 Bag (24 oz or 4.25 Cups) Sorghum Flour
  • 1 Bag (20 oz or 4.5 Cups) Tapioca Flour (aka Tapioca Starch)
  • 2½ TBSP (0.8 oz) Xanthan gum

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Ingredients: Can easily be halved but be warned, they do disappear quickly!

1 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 cup golden corn syrup

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2-1 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon ground anise

6 cups of flour, divided (gluten free or regular)

Directions:

1. Cream butter and brown sugar; add eggs and mix well.

2. Add syrup and buttermilk to which the baking soda has been added.

3. Mix together 4 1/2 cups of flour and all the spices; add to butter mixture. Mix well.

4. Continue adding flour to form a soft, pliable dough.

5. Refrigerate dough.  (*GF dough may need to be placed in the freezer for an hour) When the dough is chilled, roll it into 1/2 inch thick ropes. (*Wet hands with water when working with the gluten free dough as it will be sticky)  Place ropes on parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Freeze until ready to bake.

6. With a sharp knife, cut ropes into 1 cm slices and place on cookie sheets that are well greased or parchment paper-lined. They should be about the size of a hazelnut.

7. Bake at 350F for about 8-9 minutes. Let cool for about 1 minute and then transfer each batch onto a clean cool baking sheet.

Makes a lovely Christmas gift!  Serve with hot tea or just snack on them out of a bowl!

Butternut Squash and Red Pepper Soup

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Photo credit: http://www.meanmissmustard.com/
Amy:

Mmmmmh squash.  Not only highly nutritious but highly satisfying on a cool autumn evening!

My co-worker gave me this wonderful butternut squash soup recipe!  I love it for a number of reasons, but especially because  it’s dairy free and relies on good ol’ squash to make it smooth and rich.  It’s also coincidentally completely vegan and gluten free making it fit for almost any guest that you may be feeding.  I decided to roast the squash before adding it into the soup pot.  Another dietitian friend of mine taught me this trick a few years ago as it caramelizes the squash and gives it a wonderful rich flavour!butternut-squash

Ingredients:

1 L vegetable broth (gluten free if necessary like Kitchen Basics)

1 large butternut squash (or about 4-5 cups of squash cubes)

2 red peppers, seeded and chopped

1 onion, chopped

1-2 tbsp curry powder (based on taste preference)

2 tsp olive oil

Directions:

1. Peel and remove seeds and strings from the squash.  Dice squash and place on well oiled or parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Roast at 425F for about 20-30 minutes, stirring halfway through and until nicely caramelized/browned.

2. Heat olive oil in a large pot.  Add curry powder and stir for 1 minutes until fragrant.

3. Add the remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

4. Puree with immersion blend until smooth.

 

Raw Thumbprint Breakfast Cookies (GF, vegan)

IMG_0241 Amy:

You know those shortbread cookies that have the indent in the middle that’s usually filled with jam?  Well these are not them…but inspired by them!  But they are delicious, nutrition and quite easy to make!  Plus they only have 5 ingredients, huzzah!  They can even be eaten for breakfast because it is what you’d be eating anyway…oats, nut butter, berries, seeds….. I decided to make them with sunflower seed butter to change it up a bit and since my nut-allergic-mother was up to visit.  Quite tasty!

They taste just a great with any other nut or seed butter, I even made them with 1/2 cup pecans and it was fabulous!

Ingredients:

1 cup of oats (wheat free if necessary)

1/3 cup sunflower butter, pumpkin seed butter, peanut/almond butter OR 1/2 cup nuts like pecans or walnuts

2 tbsp honey/water (or less depending on taste preference and how dry the dough is)

Jam:

1/2 cup berries (I used a thawed frozen berry blend)

1 1/2 tbsp chia seeds

Directions:

1. Process the oats in a food processor until a fine powder or flour.

2. Add seed or nut butter and honey. Mix in food processor until well incorporated.

3. Take about 2 tbsp worth of “dough” and form into a round flat shape, pressing to make an indent in the middle of the cookie.  Place on parchment paper lined container and continue with remaining dough.  I made about a dozen.

4. Process thawed berries and chia seeds until well blended.  Allow to thicken for about 5 minutes.  It should start to look like jam.

5. Spoon jam mixture into the indents of each cookie.  Refrigerate and jam will firm up even more.  Enjoy your healthy treat!

Baby it’s Cold Outside Cake in a Mug! (GF or regular)

IMG_0203Amy:

You know those days when you just want a piece of delicious chocolate cake?  Especially with the winter weather blowing through and hybernation mode setting in.  Sometimes you need chocolate and you need it now!  Fortunately I do have a recipe for you!  You likely have all of the ingredients in your pantry at this moment and it whips up in about 5 minutes!  Does it get any better than that?

And don’t kid yourself…this recipe definitely isn’t “healthy” but I like it because it definitely has the bonus of built-in-portion-control.  Once you get to the end of your mug….there’s no more!  And it’s sure to satify your sweet tooth.

So rummage through your pantry and get baking!

Ingredients:

3 tbsp gluten free or regular flour (I used brown rice flour)

1/8 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp white sugar

1 tbsp oil

1 tbsp cocoa powder

4-5 tbsp milk of your choice (I’ve used almond, coconut and cow’s milk with good results)

Directions:

1. Mix ingredients together well in a mug.

2. Microwave batter on high for 90-120 seconds or until cooked through.  Allow to cool for a minute and enjoy!!!  I added some mini chocolate chips for a garnish 🙂

Stuffed Acorn Squash

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Amy:

Do you have an acorn squash on your counter but don’t know what to do with it?  I’ve been there too.  Flipping through my Simply in Season cookbook it gave me an inspiration to try out this Stuffed Squash recipe!  It was quite a hit with my Mom who was visiting!  There’s nothing that says autumn quite like baked squash and apples.  Not to mention it’s loaded with vitamin A for your eyes 🙂

You can use an acorn squash or a kabocha (which I used) squash for good results.  Try it out for your next Sunday dinner!

Ingredients:

1 large kabocha or acorn squash (use two if they are small)

3 tart apples

2 tbsp melted butter or margarine

1/4 cup brown sugar or maple syrup

Salt and pepper (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Cut squash vertically in half and scoop out the seeds and stringy parts.  *If this is really hard to do, pierce whole squash several times with a fork and microwave for 3-4 minutes to help soften it up.

2. Place squash cut side down in a casserole dish or baking sheet with about 1/2 inch of water.  Bake in the oven for about 30-40 minutes or until just tender.

3. Fill squash is cooking, peel and cube apples.  Mix with brown sugar and melted margarine.

4. Remove squash from the oven and flip over.  Fill the hollow part with the apple mixture.  Bake for another 20-30 minutes or until apples have softened.

Makes for a lovely presentation on the table.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired before serving.

Pumpkin Spice French Toast! (GF or regular)

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Amy:

I hadn’t made french toast in a while and I was happy that I was re-inspired to try it out again after leafing through a cookbook.  Traditionally french toast is made with slightly stale bread….the eggs and heat help fluff it back up and make it palatable again.  This method lends itself well to gluten free bread which tends to taste stale or dry without toasting or heating it up….so it’s a perfect combination!  After it was cooked you could hardly tell the difference…especially with some yummy maple syrup 🙂

I decided to make a twist on the regular french toast and use of some of the leftover pumpkin puree that I had lurking in my fridge.  With some cinnamon and maple syrup it make a delightful topping to my french toast!

Ingredients:

2 slices of bread (gluten free or regular)

1 egg, scrambled

Dash of vanilla

Pumpkin spread:

1/4 cup pumpkin puree

1 tsp maple syrup or brown sugar

Dash of cinnamon to taste

Directions:

1. Scramble egg in a wide dish like casserole dish or pasta bowl.  Add a dash of vanilla.

2. Place slices of bread in the egg, turn to coat until all the egg is absorbed.

3. Heat a little oil or margarine in a pan.  Add bread and cook on each side until browned.

4. Mix together pumpkin, syrup and cinnamon.  Spread over top of french toast.

Serve with a little maple syrup and fresh sliced fruit for a delicious breakfast or brunch!