The Christmas tree is up, the decorations are hung and my collection of Frank Sinatra Christmas tunes are on repeat. While many begin the frantic two-step of holiday frenzy I try to remind myself that these cooler months call for a slower, more introspective way of life. Even now as I type and my mind flirts with the notion of a hot bath and warm bed, I sigh with relief that the month of December has arrived. May we remember amongst the gifts, traditions and warm cider what this season truly is about.
This will be my first Christmas spent in Ireland and although I am often hit with pangs of homesickness for my family and friends in America, I am thankful to share this special season with my Irish family. For the holiday we are traveling to the countryside to be with my boyfriend’s family and as the trip nears I’m starting to wrack my brain with ideas for festive sweet treats to bring in hand. I’m thinking these Chewy Macaroons will make a lovely addition to the Christmas dessert selection. A bite into one of these sweet tasting treats and one will enjoy the contrast of a crispy exterior to a soft and chewy interior.
I wish you all a wonderful weekend filled with joy and expectancy of all the good things to come! And may you too find your days refined to a slower pace, leisurely changing from one minute to the next.
Makes 12-14 cookies
- 1 cup light coconut milk
- 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
- ¼ cup maple syrup or brown rice syrup
- ¼ tsp. sea salt
- ¼ cup flour (I used spelt)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
- Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C). Boil milk on medium high and add coconut oil, sweetener of choice and sea salt. Whisk in flour. Boil for about 2 minutes and lower the temperature to medium low for another few minutes.
- Add mixture to a small mixing bowl and add vanilla. Stir in the shredded coconut.
- Drop rounded teaspoons onto a cookie sheet. Bake for about 16 minutes or until golden.
You probably eat a lot of raw foods already: fruit, salads, smoothies – but here is a recipe for a raw food snack that will hopefully inspire you to include more raw foods in your diet – it’s simple!
One of the bases for this snack comes from dates. They are filled with nourishing carbohydrates, fiber and naturally occurring sugars, which are quickly assimilated in the body. This makes them an excellent alternative for those wanting to cut back on simple-sugar desserts and confections. They are also an excellent source of potassium. In addition, dates are an excellent source of B-complex vitamins for energy and magnesium to metabolize that energy.
Goji berries are small, red, dried berries that are super-charged with antioxidants. This amazing little superfruit also contains natural anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal compounds. Their powerful antioxidant properties and polysaccharides help to boost the immune system.
I have already tooted this horn (here), but to sum up – raw cacao is one of the best sources of magnesium found in nature, in addition to containing high amounts calcium, zinc, iron, copper, sulfur and potassium.
This snack also contain nuts and seeds, which are excellent sources of healthy fats to satisfy hunger in a hurry, and vegetarian protein for non-meat eaters like me. You can mix and match the nuts and seeds to suit your dietary, nutritional and flavor preferences.
Orange Cacao Goji Balls
- 1 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup almonds
- 1/2 cup Medjool dates, pitted
- 3 Tbsp. goji berries
- 2 tsp. liquid sweetener of choice (I used maple syrup)
- 1 tsp. raw cacao powder
- pinch of sea salt
- zest from one orange
- In a food processor, add sunflower seeds and almonds. Process to a slightly fine consistency.
- Add dates and goji berries to food processor with nuts and seeds. Add your sweetener of choice, raw cacao powder, sea salt and orange zest. Process until well combined.
- Roll into balls and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Thanksgiving has always been a wonderful time for our family, filled with an abundance of delicious food and meaningful memories made together. Every year growing up, Thanksgiving meant going to Grandma and Grandpa’s house to meet all the family. Entering the house, we would smell the turkey cooking in the oven and get a kiss from Grandma. Then we’d be off to play with our cousins till dinner was ready – usually all gathering around the organ to ‘play’ tunes. I remember sneaking into the kitchen later as the hunger and anticipation got unbearable. Grandma would give me a spoon to try the mashed potatoes, she always spoiled us grandkids.
When dinner time finally came, the amount of food on the table was always overwhelming. There was the traditional fare; turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, homemade rolls, cranberry sauce and pies galore. My grandmother was best known for her desserts. My favorite part was the mandarin orange tapioca jello salad. I would sit at the kiddie table with my sister, brother and cousins. We would eat, laugh and joke until our plates were cleared and our tummies were stuffed. To top off this joyous day, we would always have enough games of Bingo so everyone would win a prize. Grandpa would be the caller with his grand, boisterous voice while Grandma surprised us with prizes of toys and sweets.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve held on to these memories and cherish them. Every year since the passing of my Grandmother, I rise to the occasion to recreate my own family traditions, while incorporating new people and an international twist. It is now a way to share my culture and traditions with my new family; proving that home really is where the heart is.
Old-fashioned apple crisp, warm from the oven, is a favorite comfort food dessert. It really is heaven in every bite. The fresh fall apples, cinnamon and coconut sugar oozing with delight. This is just one of the many things I’ll be making for our (vegan) Thanksgiving this year.
Vegan Apple Crisp
- 3 medium apples (I used organic dessert apples)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp. whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup palm sugar (coconut sugar)
- 3 Tbsp. coconut oil, plus more for the pan
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C). Using your fingers, grease a small baking dish with coconut oil to coat pan (I used a bread loaf pan.)
- Slice the apples ~1/4 inch thick. In a mixing bowl, combine the apples with maple syrup, 1 Tbsp. flour, lemon juice cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss thoroughly and then transfer this mixture to the baking dish.
- In another bowl add the oats, 1/4 cup flour, sugar, coconut oil and vanilla. Mix until it forms a crumble. Spoon this on top of the apple mixture.
- Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the top is a bit browned. Serve warm with vegan ice cream.
Whether you plan to frolic or not on Halloween, it’s still fun to enjoy a few sweets. As for us, we’ll be having a Halloween film-fest party. The holiday wouldn’t be complete without an evening of horror films, food and drink. That’s just what I’m in the mood for after the strenuous event earlier in the week.
This year I made my own Halloween treats – Raw Vegan Chocolates. The secret to good candy at home is to start with a spread of high quality, delicious ingredients and use your creativity to dream up some creative confections. You’ll feel like the vegan version of Willy Wonka.
This chocolate is the real deal. It melts in the mouth, it’s rich and satisfying, and has a deep, dark aroma that can only be described as divine. Surprisingly, it only contains three basic ingredients, and is gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan and raw. Enjoy them with your friends and loved ones.
Raw Vegan Chocolates
- 1/2 cup raw cacao butter
- 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
- 4 Tbsp. sweetener of choice – agave nectar, palm sugar, xylitol, stevia, etc.
- 1/2 vanilla pod or a tsp. of vanilla essence (optional)
- In a double boiler (or a glass bowl over water) over low-medium heat, melt the cacao butter slowly until completely smooth. Add the cacao powder, sweetener, vanilla and stir to thoroughly combine. Remove from heat.
- Pour into molds or paper casings.
- Place in the fridge or freezer to firm up. Store chocolate in a cool, dry place away from direct light.
You can also add cacao nibs, goji berries, coconut, almonds, hazelnuts, orange zest or whatever your imagination desires!