Tag Archives: nuts

Darkest Peru magic bullets!

Raw balls of pure energy

Do you feel sometime that you need a break from your daily life? That you are up for a different kind of challenge?! That you are hungry for new views, new flavours, new emotions? Last week, this blog was travelling to Galicia in Northern Spain. You might know that already if you follow me on FB or Instagram… I was walking the millennia old Pilgrim’s Way and feeling way out of my comfort zone…  But loving every minute…

The Way of St James

The Way of St James

Here are some of the items I carry in my backpack :

Energy balls ready to pack!

Energy balls ready to pack!

Lucuma fruity energy balls to sustain my companion and I through the long daily walks! This is a new version of my Energy Balls– this time flavoured with orange , chocolate and Lucuma – a protein packed Aztec powder that a Peruvian friend introduced to me this year. To say my walking companion is addicted is an understatement: I have promised the recipe and here it is.

Lucuma Cocoa and Orange Energy Balls or Darkest Peru magic bullets!
Ingredients list:

  • Cup of almond(soaked)
  • Cup of dates
  • Handful of raisins
  • Zest of one small orange
  • 1 tbsp lucuma powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tbsp linseeds
  • 1 handful sunflower seeds
  • 2 or three squares of very dark chocolate (I use 100% cocoa sans sugar)
  • Cocoa powder and more Lucuma powder to roll in

Mix it all in a grinder /blender until it makes a sticky paste.
Roll each bite into a mix of cocoa and lucuma, as you would for a chocolate truffle! Those healthy chocolatey truffle melt in the mouth and done in the Thermomix, they are smooth and fudgey… Plus super packed with everything you need to walk all day with 8 kg of back-pack!
Store in a metal box. They can keep for weeks but they will not last that long.

We were walking from Santiago de Compostella to Finisterre, the “end of the world” – or at least the extreme western point of Europe!

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 Postscript: You can find Lucuma powder in Peru -but also at your nearest Wholefoods store. It is rich in B vitamins and has a high protein content. It tastes a bit sweet and chocolatey so goes really well with cocoa and orange!

Granola bars to fuel my winter runs

This again is adapted from the ever so plentiful blog of David Lebovitz “Living the sweet life in Paris”, of which my regular readers will know I am a fan!

At the moment I am running a fair bit and sometimes even in the rain or at dusk, so the promise of a warm drink and one of those energy packed bars is a big bonus at the end of a wet and cold run.

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Ingredients list:

  • 1 1/2 cups (150g) rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup (45g) sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup (60g) whole almonds
  • ½ cup (60g) walnuts bits
  • 1 cup (125g) pitted and diced dates
  • 1/3 cup (50g) dark chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup (35g) dried sour cherries or cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup (35g) sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup (65g) smooth natural peanut butter or any nut butter
  • 1/4 cup (80g) honey
  • pinch of salt

Line the bottom of an 8-inch (20cm) square pan with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).

Spread the oats and sesame seeds on a baking sheet and toast for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring once or twice while baking, until they are slightly browned. Scrape them into a large bowl. Spread the almonds on the baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely break in a pestle and add the almonds to the oats.

Add the dates, chocolate chips and cranberries to the bowl.

Heat the peanut butter, honey, and salt in a small saucepan, stirring until warm, but not boiling. Pour the peanut butter and honey over the mixture in the bowl and stir until it’s completely incorporated; using your hands is the best way to go. DO not use a sweet peanut butter, just a natural one. You do not want a sickly sweet bar!

Transfer the mixture to the pan and pat it down so it’s as flat as possible. I put a sheet of baking paper over and just pushed down with my palm until it was flat! Freeze the granola bars for 30 minutes before eating them. I keep them in a metal box in my fridge and they stay fresh for longer.

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My run along the river at dusk! Beautiful and cold.

My run along the river at dusk! Beautiful and cold.

Same run in morning light.

Same run in morning light.

Healthy bites for lunch box – raw and vegan!

  1. WE ARE WHAT WE EAT and that is why it is so important to only put the very best fuel into our bodies.
  2. Over two thirds of our plate (or our daily intake) should come exclusively from plant based food. Namely fruit, veg, carbohydrates and staple food like rice, grains, flours.
  3. We only need sugar in very small quantities and we should avoid added sugar in food such as sauces, bread, bought biscuits.

This is in three points the essence of the message I try to pass onto my children and family. They mostly take it in,  sometimes ignore it and rarely but otherwise expectedly rebel against it! So it was with glee on my part and relief on theirs that I recently was able to drill a slightly larger audience of fresh, open and eager minds!

Last wednesday, for the last session of the Healthy Cooking Club, I had a lot of fun designing a menu along those lines and as I was looking at including a sweet/pudding, I came across these fruit and nut balls. They are not only deliciously healthy but also very easy to make and gratifying for the children to roll . They can easily fit into a lunch box or can be used as snack on the go. They can be customised with an endless variety of dry fruit, nuts and even fresh fruits or seeds but here is the mix that I used for the photo:

Raw fruit balls

Ingredient list:

  • raisin, 1 cup
  • rolled oats, 1 cup
  • pecan nuts, 1/2 cup
  • ground almond, 1/2 cup
  • handful of pine nuts
  • dates, 1 cup
  • grated zest of one lime
  • Prune juice, 50 ml to bind
Process to a pulp, adding the juice along so that it helps binding the mix but do keep it touch dry. It must not get too sticky in your hands or rolling will not be such fun…
Now prepare three bowls : Fill one with raw unsweetened cacao, one with cinnamon and Allspice mixed with a little rice flour or cornflour and lastly one more with grated coconut.
Give latex gloves to the kids or oil your hands and take a marble size chunck of the mixture. Roll it lightly then dip into the covering you choose and roll into a ball. Remember your playdoh days! Modelling is so therapeutic it should be compulsory until A level… Dress on a pretty plate and enjoy – or reserve in clingfilm in the fridge.

For a real teatime treat, you could make yourself this amazing drink I discovered at TOMBO, japanese bistrot in South kensington: A frothy Macha latte with soya.
Recipe to come next!

>My homemade bread

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RECIPE FOR THE BAKERS BREAD

500gr of strong flour

15gr of baker’s yeast or 1 packet of dry yeast

350ml of water with a pinch of salt

Pour the flour in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and put in the yeast diluted in a cup of warm water.

Pour the lukewarm water slowly in while mixing with a wooden spoon. Mix well to get a soft but not sticky ball of dough.

Knead the dough on a worktop by rolling it on itself with some tempo! Add flour if it sticks. Put the dough back into the bowl and cover with cling-film or a wet cloth. Leave to rise for one hour in a warm place, or just leave it out for the night.

Knead again for as long as you enjoy it! Let it rise for another half hour, this time snugly fitted into a greased cake tin or a lined baking tray. When it has risen nicely, you can decorate by slashing the surface with scissors or powdering with extra flour. Meanwhile, start the oven at its highest temperature.

Put to bake in a very hot oven for half hour, on the bottom shelf. It is ready when the crust is a deep golden and solid to the touch.

Yesterday evening, I made this into small balls of dough and rolled them in various seeds :linseeds, sesame or oats taste nice- Or you can stuff them with raisins or nuts for breakfast.

>Rich Cocoa Christmas cake

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Ingredients list:

  • 480g mix of dried fruit (currants, sultanas, raisins, anything you enjoy or use those half-empty packets in your cupboard…)
  • 1 handful of prunes, apricots or dates
  • 120g mix of nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans…)
  • 200ml of rhum or whisky
  • butter 160g
  • brown muscovado 160g
  • 3 eggs
  • plain wholemeal flour 160g
  • 1 spoonful of raising powder
  • almond powder 50g
  • 1 tablespoonful of treacle
  • 2 tablespoonful of mixed spices (cinnamon, clove, ginger)
  • 2 tablespoonful of unsweetened cocoa
  • 4 squares of dark chocolate
  • Rum or whisky for soaking the fruit

For decorating:

One roll of marzipan paste

One icing roll (I prefer using pre-rolled out ones as they are so easy and quick and you can then concentrate on the decor itself instead of fiddling with icing slabs…)

Any food colouring, chocolate shavings or sweets to personalise the top.

Large ribbon to hide the sides – often useful to disguise any sins…

Now we’re ready to put our pinny on and start mixing:

Soak the fruit in the rhum or brandy the night before. On the day, put in a saucepan the butter in chunks and the brown sugar. Strain the soaked fruit in, reserving the juice of course! Warm the lot up on the stove. Heat and stir for about 10 mn, until the fruit is plumper and the juices are thicker. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate then the cocoa and spices. Don’t forget to melt in a big spoonful of treacle for the liquorice hints go wonderfully with the richness of the cacao.

The mix needs to be rich and silky and should smell like Christmas morning already!

Pre-heat the oven at 140 degrees Celsius.

Add the beaten eggs to the fruit mixture, then stir in the nuts and flours until it is all well combined. If the mix is too heavy, add a few drops of water or the remaining spirit.

Pour into a tin lined with grease-proof paper and bake for 2 hours.

Keep for a few weeks wrapped in cling film and feed it with more alcohol once or twice a week. You will then get the marzipan and the icing sugar to decorate it a week or so before eating it.

This cake will keep for one or two months. So if you start baking now, your cake will be at its best for eating when Christmas comes around. My significant other’s grandmother used to start soaking the fruit on boxing day for the following christmas cake and was religiously feeding it alcohol for the remaining 12 months… This jars a little bit with my idea of fresh homemade food but you can give it a try!

Two years ago, I took one heavy fruit and cocoa cake brimming with whisky to friends in the mountains and at “apres-ski” we had slices of it with hot cups of tea by the fireplace… The combination of alcohol, fruit, spices and chocolate was exactly what you wanted after a cold day on the slopes; and with the amount of calories, exactly what you needed to face the next day’s downhill challenge!