Nut Butter Bliss Balls

Ooooh boy these are some good little cookie like thangs!  There is no baking involved and lots of goo on the fingers to lick off when you are done.  What could be better than that?

Did you think I wasn’t going to tell you what was better than that?  Well!…. These lovely little sweets were consumed, enjoyed and complimented by folks from all ranges of the baked goods and sugar consumption spectrum.  In other words, as my son would say, both the health whacks like his dear old Mom and the normal people liked these cookies.  This is not always the case with the sweets that come out of my kitchen.  In fact, both of my sweet offerings were appreciated.  One of them, Healthy Pumpkin Cookies, was shared earlier in the blog and now, because I am so nice and generous and love to toot my own stolen horn, I will share the Nut Butter Bliss Balls recipe with you!  I hope these recipes (along with the list of healthier holiday foods from our blog that Little Sis is working on) will help you party with folks from all over the spectrum this holiday season.  ‘Tis the time of year for sharing, right?

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So back to tooting my own stolen horn…. I didn’t steal a horn, I adapted a horn, er…  recipe, from the wonderful Diana Herrington at Real Food for Life.  She calls them Peanut Butter Bliss Balls.   Mr. Bigg Sis doesn’t do peanuts, so I made them both with almond butter and the original way because my son and I LOVE peanut butter.   They are heavenly either way.

Nut Butter Bliss Balls
1 cup toasted sunflower seeds
1 cup nut butter (I have tried almond and peanut – you can cheaply make your own almond butter – with or without chocolate!)
1/2 cup honey (original is 3/4 cup – I found 1/2 to be awesomely sweet but chickened out and added another Tbsp tothe1/2 cup for my guests batch)
1/4 cup coconut (unsweetened, flaked)
1/4 – 1/2 cup almond flour (original coconut flour which is costly) but you could also use oat flour
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds

First off – if you don’t have toasted nuts and seeds, I toasted the sunflower seeds at 350 for about 8 minutes – just keep an eye on them so they don’t burn, and the sesame seeds for about 5 minutes, again, watch them as ovens are different, pans are different, it’s a beautiful variable world!

Secondly – the reason for the wishy-washiness of the flour amount.  Peanut butter and almond butter (beautiful variable world consideration again) have varying consistencies, and honey is hard to measure accurately, so the stickiness of your final product is affected by these variables.  I use almond flour which is the dried out leftovers from making almond milk, so it may be a bit lighter than store bought almond flour.  Basically you want a dough consistency that is sticky enough to hold together and pick up a coating of sesame seeds but not too sticky to eat.  Start with the lowest amount of flour and add more until you like the consistency.  Taste tests are totally appropriate and recommended.

After you’ve toasted the sunflower seeds, place them in a bowl with all of the other ingredients except the sesame seeds and smush it all together, preferably with a purple spatula ;-)

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Pour your toasted sesame seeds onto a plate, form edible size balls (this of course will be affected by the wonderful variety of mouth sizes…. I make mine large) and roll them in the sesame seeds.  For more variety you can roll them in unsweetened coconut.

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I am singing a happy song of variety….. and one must try all of the varieties to be equitable (after eating your pre-emptive veggies of course!)

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Breathe, enjoy the season, and as Little Sis says when I worry over pleasing guests that are coming…. “It’ll be fine.  They’re your friends!  They love you.”

Peace and love to you and yours in this world of infinite variety and possibility.

Prune Cardamom Sauce and Crazy Combo Contest

Prune and cardamom?  Spaghetti squash and pesto?  Nectarines and Walnut crust?  Peas and Kale?  Where does it all end?  Where does this crazy pairing of things end?  Shouldn’t there be some maintenance of categorical boundaries?  Doesn’t the world run more smoothly  when everything and everyone is in their rightful place?  Shouldn’t we stick with peanut butter and jelly?

strange table fellows

My answer.  No and sometimes.  A spatula and a baseball.  Variety is the spice of life.  Start with 6 things and you have 6 things. Combine the 6 things in varying groups of 2, 3, 4, and 5 and you have many more things than the number of minutes it would take me to do that particular math.  And there is always common ground…. even between a spatula and a baseball.

What’s the point?  Politically speaking we are not handling diversity of viewpoints or approaches very well here in the US these days… and while politics may make for strange bedfellows, creative cooking can make for strange table-fellows. Continue reading

Almond Lemon Jots

As Little Sis told you in her post of some fabulous cookies that include garam masala, that intriguing Indian spice blend, we, like so many of you have a strong Christmas Cookie tradition in our family.  I particularly loved making cookie press cookies with my Mom and Little Sis and sprinkling red and green sugar on top of the various shapes.  So what’s a sugar-busting, gluten free baker to do?  Apparently lots of GF bakers are using almond flour.  Well, almond flour is a bit over the top price -wise, but why not make your own?  Especially in the interest of making a healthier iced lemon cookie!

I placed a handful of raw almonds in the Vita-Mix at a time and ground them until a few chunks were still flying.  You don’t want to go too long or you will create gooey, pre-almond butter.  Then I poured it through a colander to remove the big pieces which I threw back in with some more almonds until I had enough almond flour.  (I used whole almonds, Detoxinista suggests using blanched, slivered almonds, but again… I’m cheap!)

This lot of almond pieces got dumped into a container with sweet potato, rice, raisins and cinnamon for the next morning’s breakfast!

sifting almonds

Now I was ready to adapt Detoxinista’s frosted almond sugar cookie recipe into Almond Lemon Jots.

Ingredients
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, softened (or use butter instead)
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 – 2 tsp. lemon zest (I say the more the better!)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Frosting: 2 tablespoons coconut oil, softened
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • pinch of salt
 Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together cookie ingredients

    lemon cookie dough - zest

    I doubled the recipe, so I used a LOT of zest.

  3. Drop by Tablespoon-ful onto a baking sheet, lined with a Silpat or parchment paper.
  4. Bake for about 8 minutes at 350F, or until the edges turn golden brown.
  5. Allow to cool on the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. For the frosting, cream together the coconut oil, honey, lemon zest and salt, until well combined. If the coconut oil starts to melt (it melts at temperatures above 76 degrees), briefly place the mixture in the fridge to help it set.
  7. Frost the cooled cookies, and let them set in the fridge for a more solid-frosting.lemon cookies lemon cookies - done
  I really like these cookies, and both my boys young and young at heart love these cookies.  The original recipe states you can also chill the dough and then cut out shapes by smushing out a bit on the silpat/ parchment and using a cookie cutter.  I’m afraid I don’t have time for pretty this year… I’m so glad to have time for yummy!
We hope you are enjoying this phase of the holidays.  It can be so overwhelming and so hard to stick with dietary goals.  Just remember, every meal and every snack offers another chance to make healthy choices.  Don’t beat yourself up over the slips.  Remember the Baby Steps and which we’ll be getting back to very soon.  Happy Holidays!

Not-So-Sweets for the Sweeties

I have a confession.  I love cake and chocolate and ice cream and whipped cream and and and and….  While there are people who have more insatiable sweet cravings than I, I really can do a great job in the dessert eating department.  And truth to tell, there have been moments of pure joy in my life that included something like a pain au chocolat with friends in Montreal or red velvet cake with my husband, the first taste of cream cheese icing with my stepmom.  I would not trade those moments; I do not wish to stop having them.   They are SPECIAL times, and that’s part of the point, isn’t it?  They are special times, with foods we don’t have all the time.  At least, this is the sad reality I have come to understand… this is an understanding my husband and I reluctantly came to after he took the pastry class at a pretty swank cooking school. While my cravings have diminished since we cut back on sugar and processed foods, I can still respond to that siren call as evidenced by some VERY fine chocolate covered pretzels the Easter bunny brought (Thanks, Mom).

The thing about sugar is that it tastes good.  It tastes REALLY good.  These are flavors that are supposed to taste good to us, and if you are accustomed to a lot of it on a regular basis, you may find it very difficult to suddenly cut back considerably.  You might also simply find such a choice a little, well, draconian and no fun.  I have found that keeping our house on a low sugar path depends to some degree on my ability and willingness to occasionally provide something that is sweet enough, that is yummy and feels a little like something you don’t get to eat all the time.  Fruit, while we serve it often as snack or desert or whatever, does not always cut it in this department, particularly for my two young children who live in a world with other young children who get to have Ho-Ho’s at snack time.  We are constantly on the lookout for the middle ground on sweet snacks.  A treat sort of taste with much less sugar and none of the additives (food colorings, stabilizers, solvents that are present in those crinkly little packages of waxy chocolate covered pillow stuffing).   After a great deal of experimentation based on the Lemon-Kissed Cashew Hemp Bars, my children and I met in the middle with these lovely bits…

Pre-Freezer, Pre-Cut, Still Delish!

AWESOME OATIE BARS

  • 1/2 c cashews
  • 1/2 c almonds
  • 1 c dried dates
  • 1/3 c pumpkin seeds
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 c peanut butter (or other nut butter)
  • 1 c raw oatmeal (approximately to taste)
  • 2 T chocolate chips (just enough to make it a treat)

Put nuts in food processor and run until fine.  Add pumpkin seeds, dates, lemon juice and peanut butter.  Process until dough forms a large sticky ball (if ball isn’t forming, add another splash of lemon or a tiny bit more nut butter).

Ball of Yummy

Remove ball and place in large bowl.  Add oats a little at a time (I did 1/3 c scoops) and mix into dough.  I found bare hands to be the easiest (albeit messiest) way to do this.  I used a cup of oats, but you may prefer a little more for less stickiness or less for more fruitiness.  Mix in chocolate chips.   Place plastic wrap in the bottom of a small baking dish (mine was square) and pat down until evenly distributed.  Place in freezer for at least 1/2 hour.  Cut into squares or bars depending on the size of snack you prefer to have available.  We cut our square baking pan full into 16 pieces.  Not too big for the kids, small enough to be negligible for the adults.  The name of the dish comes from my son.  “What do you think we should call them, buddy?”  “Awesome Bars.”  I added the “oatie” to be marginally descriptive.  Delish!

Pssst….. if you missed it earlier today, be sure to pop by our earlier post to read about our Sunshine Award. :-)