Gluten Free Carrot and Date Cake

Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free
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Today I was going to go to uni and finish three assignments, but instead I skipped class and made a carrot cake.

I’m worried by how often this has been happening lately. Very worried. But it’s such a nice day today! If you live in Sydney you’ll agree this last week has been awesome. Goodbye winter and having to sit on my heater every five minutes while I’m getting dressed.

I am kind of sad it’s too hot to drink hot chocolate now though. I developed the perfect recipe this winter involving lots of cinnamon and homemade almond milk. Sooo good.

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I’ve been getting weirdly stressed about making blog posts lately, I don’t know if anyone noticed how late each post is going up. I just can’t decide what to make! And when I do decide, I can’t find the time to make it and photograph it and edit it in time. So stressful!

This morning though the urge to make carrot cake was stronger than the voice saying “but you already made a banana carrot layer cake” and a carrot loaf for this blog. Not to mention the best carrot cupcakes of all time.

But you can never have too many carrot cake recipes! Right? Right guys?! And besides, this one is gluten free. It’s also absolutely delicious. Super moist and fluffy and yogurty from the icing (if you go the non-vegan way). it’s the kind of cake where you cut yourself a second slice before you’ve even finished the first piece, not that I would know anything about that…
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My sister and I demolished half the cake this morning, in-between listening to all the new music I downloaded and dancing with my dog. I’m somehow not feeling too regretful about missing my morning lecture about client/lawyer retainers.

You can either top this cake like I have, with a cup of strained yogurt mixed with 2 tbsp of maple syrup, or you can use coconut yogurt or cashew cream for a vegan option. Any will be delicious! Enjoy 🙂

One Year Ago: Carrot, Pear and Quinoa Crumble Muffins

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Gluten Free Carrot Cake: Inspired by this recipe

3 eggs OR 3 tbsp chia seeds mixed with almond milk
2 very ripe bananas
15 fresh dates, seeded
6 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup potato flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon

3 medium carrots, grated finely (skin on ok)

300g yogurt, drained in a cheesecloth for at least an hour
4 tbsp maple syrup

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Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) and line a 20cm round cake tin.

Either mix the chia seeds with the almond milk and set aside, or whisk up the 3 eggs. In a blender, blitz the banana, dates and oil. In a medium bowl sift together all the dry ingredients.

Fold the eggs into the dry ingredients, then fold in the banana date mix. Stir in the grated carrots and pour into the tin. Bake for about 30 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.

Mix together the yogurt and maple syrup or honey, or 300g cashew cream with maple syrup. Top the cake once it is cool and keep in the fridge.
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Apple and Date Cupcakes with Coconut Yogurt Icing

Gluten Free, Vegan, Sugar Free

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Yesterday my beautiful friend Maddie had her twentieth birthday party. Last year I made her this lemon sponge birthday cake and covered it in sugar flowers and told you all how much I love Maddie, if you want to read that. This year I wanted to make the MOST EPIC CAKE OF ALL TIME.

Maddie loves banoffee pie so I decided to make a four-layer caramel mud cake with banana and cream filling and chocolate ganache covering the entire thing. So I got up early, went and bought all the ingredients, whipped up my cake feeling like a casual Masterchef, and as I was cleaning up I found the pound of sugar sitting on the counter. Not in the cake, like it was supposed to be, just relaxing on my counter.

Uuugh. Life’s struggles. I tried to fix it by covering every single layer in a thick layer of more caramel as well as the chocolate and bananas and cream, and it ended up pretty awesome. But I think it would probably have tasted better with you know, sugar in it.

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Lots of people tell me they’re too scared to bake or try my recipes because they might stuff up or they’re not “good enough.” To them I say, I stuff up all the time. Like literally every time I make something there’s a stage that goes wrong somewhere in there. But it doesn’t matter! Try it anyway, and if you have to go out and buy a jar of Dulce de Leche to smother on your sugar-free cake, that’s ok too.

You can never get any better if you don’t try in the first place. Which brings me to these cupcakes. Ever since I made these apple and cinnamon cream cheese cupcakes, I’ve been wanting to make a gluten free AND vegan version that’s just as good as the original.

I was waay too scared for ages because my memory of them was so perfect, I didn’t want a mediocre cupcake to replace it. But finally thought, geez Lil. Just go make the cupcakes already. With the help of My Darling Lemon Thyme‘s gluten free muffin recipe I finally cracked the apple cinnamon cupcake challenge.

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I’m going to go as far to say that these are better than the original muffins. And they happen to be way better for you too! There’s no eggs, dairy, gluten or refined sugar in them at all and they also happen to be super easy to make.

I’m always worried when I make gluten free cupcakes that the texture will be either super powdery, or gluggy, or dense. These weren’t any of these. My sister ate one not knowing they were gluten free and said they were crumbly but moist (mooooooist), like the perfect cupcake. So there you go, the Cake Kahuna has spoken. You can replace the apple with carrot or pear if you want! You could add chopped almonds or walnuts, sultanas instead of the dates, and you can even leave out the icing.

By the way, I am calling these cupcakes but they are technically muffins…But in my mind once it has icing it is a cupcake, so…yeah. They’re cupcake muffins. Have a great week guys!

One Year Ago: Lemon Berry Butter Cake

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Apple and Date Cupcakes with Coconut Icing
Recipe inspired from this book
1/2 cup almond meal
3/4 cup fine brown rice flour
1/2 cup potato flour
2 tsp gluten free baking powder
1 heaped tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 eggs, lightly beaten OR 2 tbsp chia seeds mixed with 4 tbsp water for vegan
3 apples, washed and grated
1/2 cup dates, chopped into chunks

1.5 cups (370g) coconut yogurt (or normal yogurt)
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp brown sugar (optional but awesome)
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Preheat the oven to 180C (356F) and line 10 muffin moulds with muffin cups. Whisk together in a bowl the dry ingredients well. In a separate bowl mix together the wet ingredients. Gently fold the wet into the dry and fill the muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake for 17-22 minutes, until golden on top and cooked through. Leave to cool.

Drain the coconut or normal yogurt in a sieve lined with a teatowel for a few hours, to make Labneh. Mix with the maple syrup and brown sugar and pipe over the cupcakes. Once iced, keep the cupcakes in the fridge.
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Rhubarb and Cinnamon Cashew Cream Cake (raw and vegan!)

Raw, Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free

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Guys, it’s happened. I finally got around to making a raw cashew cream cake! Too long have I ogled at this beautiful creation and this one and tried to eat my screen with little to no success. I finally made the splurge and bought the cashews and coconut butter, and gave my blender a serious pep-talk. Don’t worry, dumpling month is charging on, we’re just having a minor cake break so that I can eat my way through the dumplings in the freezer.

I wanted fancy layers for my cheesecake because layers people. Layers are so much more exciting than non-layers. So the bottom layer is infused with cinnamon (because everything should be infused with cinnamon) and the top layer is mixed with poached rhubarb and vanilla compote. Holy to the yum. The compote itself was so amazing! I deliberately made way more than I needed so that I could eat it all week on my weetbix. I highly recommend this as you don’t need much at all in the actual recipe, but if fruit compote isn’t your thing, make a quarter of the recipe.
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The reason this post took so long to put up was because this whole week I’ve been super sick and just horrendous feeling basically. I went away for a week with my friends to a music festival and while that week was one of the best ever and I wouldn’t change a single thing about it, the following week has been rough. It’s been very rough. It started on the day we packed up and left the camping grounds and I’d completely, 100% lost my voice. I could not make a sound.

That transformed into a bad case of the flu, which today transformed into a stomach bug. I feel so nauseous I haven’t actually been able to try the cake yet….I KNOW! But my whole family and a number of friends have tried and raved, so I am going out on a limb and hoping it tastes as good assembled as it did on the back of a spoon when I was making it 🙂
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My blender honestly did die a bit in the making of this cake, but I have lamented here often that raw desserts can be tricky in my kitchen. Every time I decide it’s finally time to make an upgrade and start researching, there are so many conflicting accounts and opinions I give up and give my blender a hug.

If you don’t have a powerful blender like me, make sure you soak your cashews all night long. It really made the difference! Also give the blender lots of time to rest in between small batches, instead of trying to power through the whole thing in one go. This is definitely a cake to make, regardless of whether your crowd is vegan or raw! It feels so special with the pink layers and it tastes so light and wholesome. So I’ve officially joined the cashew cream cake bandwagon. Look to the future for more!

One Year Ago: Berry and Lychee Vanilla Yogurt Cake
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Recipe inspired by My New Roots and This Rawsome Vegan Life
Raw Cashew Cream Cake with Rhubarb and Cinnamon:

3 cups of cashews, covered in cold filtered water and left to soak overnight

1.5 cups walnuts
1.5 cups dates, chopped roughly
1 tbsp coconut oil

6 long stalks of rhubarb, cut into chunks
100g raw sugar
1/2 a vanilla bean
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup (185ml) coconut oil, melted if hard
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup (170g) raw honey or maple syrup for pure vegan
pinch of sea salt
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Line a 23cm baking tin with baking paper. Blend the walnuts, dates and tablespoon of coconut oil into a dough and press in to the bottom of the tin with your hands. Chill whilst you make the filling.

In a medium saucepan, very gently stew the rhubarb, sugar and vanilla bean (cut and seeds added to the pot) with a few tablespoons of water until completely soft but not straggly.

Drain the cashews well and put in the blender. Add the lemon juice, honey, coconut oil, salt and cinnamon. Blend until mix is as smooth as possible. Pour half into the cake tin and smooth around. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Blend the remaining half with about 1/3 – 1/2 cup of the rhubarb mix, to the desired colour and consistency (don’t add too much liquid – just the rhubarb pieces!) pour this on top of the cake and refrigerate the whole thing overnight. Serve cold, serves 10 – 12!
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Vegan Chocolate Cream Tarts (gluten and sugar free)

Vegan, Raw, Gluten free and Sugar free

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 So, apparently all the photo files on my blog are enormous. Enormous as in instead of being around 500k to 1 megabite at the absolute largest! They are like, 6 or 7 megabites each. That’s proobably why they took ages to load on most people’s computers and proobably the reason for lots of people, no photos would ever come up at all…

I’m sorry! I never promised to be a computer genius! In fact I’ve often lamented my complete lack of technical skills in many a post. Don’t worry, I’ve started the arduous and horrific process of going back through each post that I deem important and re-uploading smaller sized photos. So hopefully things will start to come up a little faster around here. I was wondering why I’d already used up 10% of my available space in 6 months! 

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 I’m super scared of technological challenges, which is kind of annoying seeing as this blog here is one large technological…thing. For example, coding. What is it? I don’t know. How do you use it? I don’t know. All I know is that </p<p> means paragraph. People always talk about the CSS coding of their blog and how they’ve re-coded stuff to personalise it to their personal style…I’m just  like wuuuut. 

I never realised how much cray cray effort went in to even the simplest food blogs. Seriously, even for someone like me who loves to take the easy root, I spend a minimum of an hour cooking the thing, another hour styling/serving/arranging it and then, to be honest, only about twenty minutes to half an hour photographing it.

But then I edit the photos for at least half an hour, and write the post. That takes another half an hour, usually an hour. Then I check the whole draft and the coding and everything else that I could have stuffed up. Then I spend twenty minutes uploading the photos to pinterest and other foodie photo sites. That’s a minimum of three hours a post, and I usually do one or two posts a week. And that’s a lazy food blog! My lightroom editing program isn’t even working at the moment! I can’t even imagine what a professional website must be like to maintain. 

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I’ve never thought of giving it up though. I know as soon as I did, I’d make something like these vegan chocolate cream tarts and kick myself for not being able to share them! They’re absolutely delicious, and they’re gluten and sugar free as well. And completely raw! Talk about impressive. It took me quite a long time to perfect this recipe, and a lot of inspiration from some of my favourite blogs. But in the end, this here is what I consider the perfect chocolate tart. 

The crust is the same recipe as these coconut chocolate truffles minus the coconut. The filling is this chocolate mousse minus the chia seeds. I was completely inspired by this delicious chocolate tart from GI 365 and couldn’t stop thinking about it. The first time I tried the mousse the avocado I used wasn’t perfectly ripe, and it came out all stringy and disgusting. A little bit of tweaking later, and I had the smoothest and creamiest chocolate cream I could have wanted. I wrote the recipe in cups even though I’m a grams girl at heart, because with walnuts and dates and bananas etc I find it a bit too fiddly to get out the scales and a bit unnecessary when it’s raw. 

I used the same cute little tart cases that I did for my lavender and lemon tarts, lining the shells with plastic wrap so I could pull them out easily. I was really worried they would stick! These tarts last really well in the fridge and make a great dessert for a BBQ or picnic. You can adapt the recipe to make one big tart if you like as well. The benefits from the avocado, cocoa powder and walnuts are great for your body and there is nothing processed or derived from animals to be seen. The perfect chocolate dessert!

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 Chocolate Cream Tarts: Adapted from GI 365

Makes 6 small tarts, can easily be doubled

For the Crust:

1 cup walnuts

1 packed cup medjool dates (if dry and hard, soaked in water for 20 minutes)

1/4 cup cocoa powder

Splash of soy or almond milk

Combine all crust ingredients in a powerful blender and whizz into a smooth paste. If your blender isn’t that strong, grind your nuts in a mortar and pestle first and cut up your dates into small pieces. Take your tart moulds and grease with a little oil or water so that the plastic wrap will stick. Line with plastic wrap. Use your fingers to press in the crust evenly, filling in all the cracks. Store in the freezer until ready to make the crust. This freezing makes them easier to remove and helps them keep their shape. Don’t worry, they won’t freeze completely solid. 

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For the filling:

1 medium avocado (it’s ok if the measurements aren’t exact)

1 medium banana

2 heaped tablespoons of raw honey, or more if you want it sweeter

3 tablespoons soy or almond milk

4 tablespoons cocoa powder

Whizz all your mousse ingredients in a blender until completely smooth and combined. Remove your tart moulds from the freezer and carefully pull out from the tins using the plastic as handles. Fill the crust with the chocolate cream and keep stored in the fridge. Not the freezer. Lasts well for 2-4 days. 

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Healthy Chocolate Fudge Brownies (gluten, dairy, sugar free)

Gluten Free, Sugar Free and optional Vegan
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 The first thing I ever baked by myself was a pan of chocolate brownies. I was nine. I dusted them with icing sugar and ate them with my friends. They were very complimentary and wowed by my baking attempts. We were at that age where it was normal to sit with three friends and each eat five or six brownies in a row, so we had time to really think about them. In the end we decided they were too flat, so I said next time I’d try another recipe until I got it right. And did I ever! At least twice a month since then I have made a pan of brownies, experimenting, tweaking, trying to find the best brownie recipe in the world . My quest to find the perfect brownie continued for many years. 

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 I have learnt a very profound thing from my brownie journey, and I’m going to share it with you now: There is no single perfect recipe. Rather there are many, and it is based on individual preferences. I did ultimately write my own recipe that created what I deem brownie perfection, but it is not this one today. Those are the fudgiest, chewiest, richest, gooiest brownies ever. I honestly believe everything I know about baking came from the years of perfecting that recipe. It was there I learnt about flour and thickening gluten, about chocolate percentages, butter vs oil, brown vs white sugar, chips vs nuts vs raspberries and the list goes on. 

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The problem with those brownies though is that my mum can’t eat them (being gluten, dairy, and sugar free) and seeing as I was making these brownies for her, it wouldn’t be ideal to make something she couldn’t eat. My perfect recipe (I will put it up here one day, maybe for my 100th post) contains almost a pound of chocolate and sugar not to mention half a pound of butter. It is the polar opposite of what we have here today: Black bean, avocado and date brownies! Completely butter, sugar and flour free! And guess what, they taste amazing! Like a deep, dark chocolate fudge.

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Black bean brownies are in no way a new concept, but I’d never tried them before this week. I first saw a recipe on the blog Ambitious Kitchen. I just couldn’t believe they wouldn’t taste like…a burrito! Especially with the avocado instead of butter? Is anybody else thinking guacamole? I decided to give them a go just as a starting point for something less, um…gross sounding? And when I ate one straight of the pan I thought, hmm. These don’t taste like great brownies, they taste like good brownies. But then I chilled them, and ate another one. It was a very big transformation! The beans really are tasteless. So is the avocado.

The texture is thick and fudgy, and because there is no flour they don’t dry out like a normal brownie can. These are healthy brownies, there’s no getting around it, but for people who can never touch real brownies they are really really good. You don’t need a huge blender either to make them. Mine is tiny so I just blend up one wet component with one dry and add it to mixing bowl, then another, etc until every thing is the same consistency, then stir it all together. So I blended the cocoa with the avocados and the almond meal with the eggs, for example. Also I tried these with kidney beans to see if this would work too, and it did, but the black beans seemed to create a slightly better texture. 

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Black Bean Avocado Brownies:Barely adapted from Ambitious Kitchen

1 tin (425 grams, 1 pound, 15 ounces) black beans, washed and cooked if raw

50 grams (half a cup) each cocoa powder and almond meal

1 tsp baking powder

120 grams (4 ounces) dark chocolate (sugar free optional), melted or cut into chunks (for non-melt)

3 tablespoons ripe, green avocado (about half 1 large)

2 tablespoons olive oil

300 grams (1 cup) medjool dates, cut up

3 eggs (for vegan, replace each egg with one tablespoon chia seeds stirred with two tablespoons of water and left to thicken. So 3 tablespoons chia mixed into 6 of water, stirred)

Handful of chopped nuts or cocoa nibs

Preheat oven to 170C (375F). Grease and line a 20cm tin with baking paper. Melt over a low heat in a bowl over simmering water your chocolate until smooth. If it is sugar free don’t try to melt it, just cut it into chunks. Blend all your ingredients together well and mix into a paste. Mix in chocolate chunks and extras, if you are using them. Spoon into your prepared tin and smooth down with a large spoon or knife. Bake for 15-25 minutes, until the top is no longer wet and there is no jiggle (don’t overbake!) Chill until cold before cutting and eating, dusting with cocoa powder. IMG_5220

Healthy Carrot Muffins with Bush Honey Icing

Low Fat, Sugar Free
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 Today I did exercise for the first time in five months. You heard me, five. I wish I was exaggerating! But this is the truth, I haven’t even gone on a medium to fast paced walk in weeks! (unless you count running awkwardly for the bus and falling over in front of your class acquaintance that always dresses like they’re going to a trendy art gallery). 

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 What can I say, I felt motivated by these muffins. You wont believe me when I say this, and you definitely won’t believe me if you actually go and try them! But these muffins have no sugar, no butter or oil, no honey or agave business, and they are made with wholemeal flour. And they taste amazing. Of course they are much healthier without the generous dollop of cream cheese icing but I usually only ice half of them, and keep the rest for breakfast. The measurements are in cups because this isn’t the kind of recipe that you have to worry about being exact. 

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 It took me two years to get this recipe right. I started with a relatively healthy but still sugary carrot cake recipe and tweaked it, tweaked it, tweaked it, TOO FAR! You know the drill, and this is the finished result. There is no road further my healthy friends, believe me. Do not substitute skim milk for light. Do not reduce the dates, or the flour. These muffins are moist and dense and packed with flavour, but they will take no more compromising without tasting, well, like health muffins. Instead of delicious happy gently spiced carrot muffins. Like I said the icing is up to you, but it helps to get kids to eat them (kids love them- that is a good sign for a healthy muffin).IMG_4761Carrot Muffins with Honey Icing: First adapted from Jamie Oliver

3 1/2 bananas, (1 large cup) mashed or blended until smooth

2-3 medium carrots (to equal 1.5 cups) skinned and grated

60g (1/2 cup) dates blended until smooth with 110ml (1/2 cup) light milk (this will help them blend)

325g (2 cups) wholemeal flour, sifted with 2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp each cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cardamon and salt

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons pepitas or sunflower seeds

Icing: (double if you want to ice the whole 10 muffins

250 grams (1/2 pound, 8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

100 ml (1/2 cup) slightly warmed honey (I used lavender bush honey but any will work)

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 Preheat your oven to 170C (340F) and line 10 large muffin holes with muffin cases. Sift your flour, spices, salt and baking powder into a bowl and set aside. Mix your milk and dates, carrot, banana, eggs, walnuts and seeds in a bowl until well combined. Sift over the dry ingredients and stir together with a spoon until everything is just combined. Spoon into muffin holes and bake for about 22-25 minutes, until golden on top and dry when pierced with a skewer. Leave to cool completely. 

Icing: Blend or whisk your cream cheese with the honey until completely combined and fluffy. Spread over the cooled muffins and either eat within 24 hours or store in the fridge once iced. 

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Healthy Date and Walnut Chocolate Balls

Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Sugar Free and Vegan

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This week I tried to make chocolate truffles for the first time. How hard could it be? Innocent me thought. For anyone out there considering making up some chocolate truffles? READ the line that says chill the chocolate for at least three hours. 

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Trying to roll warm chocolate and cream into balls is messy and humiliating! Especially once you add the hand filled with hot melted chocolate and the coconut flakes and the cocoa powder…my truffle attempt was what you might call a failure 😦

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These here are my second attempt at chocolate balls this week. They are the polar opposite to those dreaded truffles. As promised some of the recipes on this blog will be ‘healthy’, although I’m reluctant to use that word because so many times it conjures up the familiar words “dry”, “green” and “boring.” These are anything but that. They are sweet, dense, chocolatey and good for you. My cousin, who is a whiz with healthy ingredients and super foods, gave me the recipe and until I read it I hadn’t even realised they weren’t filled with cream and melted chocolate like any other truffle out there!

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 There are a lot of similar recipes out there but I felt I should share it with you guys regardless because it’s so easy and so good. Feel free to get creative. I added cinnamon but you can go down the ginger root, cardamon, maybe some orange zest or juice, just add a pinch of the spice you fancy and get experimenting! I want to try using different fruit and nuts next time, although this combination here is pretty good. 

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Date and Walnut Chocolate Balls:

3 cups pitted dates

2 cups walnuts

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1 splash soy, almond or substitute milk of choice to bring together

Dessicated coconut for coating

Blend all your ingredients together until a thick paste forms. If you also don’t have a powerful blender like me, cut up the dates and crush the nuts beforehand to avoid the risk of an engine meltdown. Roll into balls, roll in coconut and eat them! They taste good either at room temperature or cold from the fridge as well, whichever you prefer. 
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