Monday, January 19, 2015

Chocolate: Ready-Made

Finding dairy-free chocolate, suitable for a "no-refined sugar" diet can be somewhat difficult...especially if one is looking for chocolate that is made without artificial sweeteners. However, I've come across a few ready-made chocolate products that can help with those chocolate cravings.

Unsweetened Chocolate:

Firstly, unsweetened Baker's chocolate. This chocolate is relatively inexpensive and can be found in most grocery stores. It contains no sugar at all. It's great for use as an ingredient in desserts, cooking and baking (naturally).

Next comes chocolate made with unrefined cane sugar. Chocolate made with this type of sugar takes on a more complex flavour. Unrefined cane sugar provides some flavour details that are lost when sugar is refined. The earthy flavours of sugarcane mixed with dark chocolate work together beautifully.

Dark Chocolate:

One of my favorite dark chocolates, made with raw cane sugar, is by a company called Vivani. The packaging is horrible, but the chocolate is divine.

Note: You can find this product, as well as the other chocolates featured on this blog entry, in health food stores across Toronto.

This product by Giddy YoYo is made with simple ingredients and has a good, smooth flavour.

Alter Eco makes this product called "Blackout". The chocolate includes vanilla beans in its ingredient list. The chocolate is rich, but lacks the smoothness of the above two products. However, I'll still take it paired with a black coffee.

Flavoured Chocolate:

Alter Eco also makes an amazing product with rice crisps and puffed quinoa in it. It taste like a better version of Nestlé Crunch.

High End:

If you can find this product by Leone, its definitely worth its high price. This particular version is made with hazelnuts. Delicious.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Banana Oatmeal "Everything-Free" Cookies

This all natural cookie recipe will meet mostly everyone's dietary needs. It gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free and contains no refined sugars. Even if you don't have dietary restrictions, you'll probably like these healthy treats.

They are also ridiculously easy to make.

3 ripened bananas (mashed)
2 tbsp natural peanut butter
2 tsp honey
1 container (110 mL) crushed apples
2 cups quick oats
Optional: unsweetened carob chips (my preference), chocolate chips, chopped dates, or raisins.

Combine all of the ingredients together in a mixing bowl and spoon onto a lightly greased baking sheet (greased with olive oil).

Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes. Allow for the cookies to cool before removing them from the baking tray.

It's that simple.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Energy Balls

All-natural energy balls seem to be all the rage these days. I've also noticed that they can be quite expensive to buy at health food stores. Making them is actually quite easy and relatively inexpensive.

You'll need to find yourself some date paste. Date paste is comprised of dates, that have had their pits removed, and packed firmly together. 

Softening the date paste, so that it is in a more usable format, is easy. Simply chop the date paste, using a knife, into small cubes. The more you chop, the more the date paste will soften.

Once the paste is softened, anything can be added to it. Here are two examples:

1) Coconut Maca Energy Balls

In a mixing bowl, combine 1/2 kg of softened dates, 4 tablespoons of blanched almond meal, 4 tablespoons of desiccated unsweetened coconut, and 2 teaspoons of maca powder. Kneed together until the ingredients are mixed well. Form into 1"-1.5" balls.

2) Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Balls 
In a mixing bowl, combine soften 1/2 kg of date paste, 2 tablespoons of blanched almond meal, 4-5 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, 4-5 tablespoons of natural peanut butter (or any other nut butter). Kneed and form into 1"-1.5" balls.

You can keep your homemade energy balls in a sealed container, in the fridge, for up to 2 weeks (if they last that long). Experiment with some ingredients and see what you come up with.