Do you like chocolate? And cake? I’ll answer those questions for you with a resounding yes, yes, very much so. Chances are you also like fudge. If so, I’d say we’re off to a fabulous start. In fact, we’re most certainly well on our way to becoming lifelong buddies; bffs who are fudge connoisseurs together, stick together.
Perhaps you simply don’t have a massive sweet tooth. Or maybe you’re trying to limit your sugar intake, or make healthier (but somehow still tasty) snacks for your kids.
Although these fudge bites may *scream* dessert, they are not like any ordinary sweet treat. Coconut and dates run the show, meaning the taste of sugar will not tyrannize your taste buds.
In other words, these chocolatey bites are proof that you can have your cake fudge and eat it too. Densely packed with coconut flour, cacao powder, and dates, they are chock full of healthy fats and minerals.
Did you know that 1/4 cup of cacao powder delivers a whopping ~16%, ~26%, and ~41% of your daily recommended amounts of iron, magnesium, and manganese, respectively?*
The raw, chocolatey magic powder is also rich in flavanols, an antioxidant which, as recent randomized controlled trials suggest, works to protect the brain and improve cognition.
Despite being demonized by some individuals because of its saturated fat content, coconut actually delivers ~50% of its fat in the form of mcts, or medium chain triglycerides. These shorter fatty acids are more immediately converted into energy compared to long chain fatty acid fats, which compromise 98% of all dietary fat! More simply put, these snack bites offer a source of truly quick-bursting energy.
In addition to providing a readily available source of mitochondrial fuel, these unassuming little guys also feature an extraordinarily high amount of fiber (aka your gut’s best friend), thanks to the coconut flour. Whether you’re celiac or simply happen to lean towards low-carb eating, know that coconut flour is squeaky clean of gluten!
Behold: a healthy, whole-foods-based “treat” that gives the impression of bold indulgence. Shall we say goodbye to post-snacking guilty remorse forever?
These mousse bars feature one whole can of black beans. Yes, you read that right. Beans. In dessert? Oh yes.
If you’ve perused healthy-ish food blogs on Instagram or the web, you’ve likely come across the strange creation that is black bean brownies or cake.
This concoction runs with the same idea of black beans + chocolate (= yum), but instead of calling for eggs and a pre-heated oven, thisno-bake, vegan-friendly dessert comes into fruition in the fridge.
This mousse is certainly not traditional mousse. I mean, by golly, there are beans in it! And yet, it still retains the much-loved qualities that make mousse a timeless dessert.
It’s rich and chocolatey (you can turn up or down the cacao powder dial according to your bitterness threshold).
It’s smooth and creamy (but doesn’t require whipping together an inordinate amount of heavy cream and butter).
Also, it’s 100% sweetened with dates. Dates! Which are a fruit! Which means this mousse contains both fiber and essential nutrients. (Which is saying a lot more than powdered and granulated sugar, the conventional mousse sweeteners.)
Although this mousse may be far lower in fat than traditional mousse, it is by no means a poster dessert for an anti-fat diet movement.
Adding a few tbsps of melted coconut oil to the mix ensures that the mousse hardens up ever so slightly in the fridge and can be enjoyed in bar form.
If you’d rather eat this mousse out of a bowl or glass, replacing the oil with nut butter would be a perfect way to bypass the oil-hardening that occurs in the fridge, without missing out on the essential (tasty) fats.
Behold: a profoundly chocolatey dessert that doesn’t scream “healthy” or “full-of-beans” or “I’m only sweetened with fruit” despite being all of those things (and more)!
1 packed cup pitted dates, softened* (deglet noor or medjool will work!)
1/2 cup cacao or cocoa powder (I used an equal mix of both)
3 tbsps coconut oil, melted
2 tbsps date water* (or maple syrup if you'd prefer more sweetness)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Generous pinch or two salt (~1/8 tsp kosher salt)
Dark chocolate layer:
1/4 cup cacao or cocoa
2 heaping tbsps unsalted almond butter (or other nut butter of choice)
2 tbsps coconut oil, melted
1-2 tbsps maple syrup, or other liquid sweetener (add to taste)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
*I find that store-bought deglet noor dates (and sometimes also medjool) are usually quite dry and tough to blend, so I recommend covering them with hot water for ~10-15 minutes, until noticeably more soft to the touch! Be sure to reserve the date water for blending.
*If your dates are already divinely soft and gooey, simply use water or a liquid sweetener in place of the date water (it won't make any difference!).
*Made with a standard loaf pan (9x5 inch); if using an ~8x8 inch square pan (or larger) the batter will spread a little out more, so you may want to double the recipe if you're after especially thick bars.
As you’ve probably gleaned from the title, this is not a nut butter, nor is it a single-seed butter; it’s a super seedy butter concoction. There are a total of 5 seeds in the mix, and, if you’re more daring than me, that number could definitely be amped up to include more (though I personally will be leaving the concept of poppy seed butter on the burner, at least for now…)
Pumpkin seeds make up the bulk of this butter, but you can definitely switch and swap the amounts of the other seeds to suit your fancy (think sunflower seeds are for birds? No offense taken, you can simply swap them out for more sesame or hemp seeds).
I realize that the thought of “pumpkin seed butter” may seem a little frightening. It’s green and, perhaps for that reason alone, automatically conveys strangeness. The idea of doing anything other than apathetically sprinkling the seeds on top of your bowl of morning oatmeal may sound bizarre (trust me, I’ve been there), but I’d like to convince you why you’re missing out if that’s all you think they’re good for.
To start: why seed butter? And why these seeds, in particular? Well, the odd truth is that I was beginning to feel a little strange about the inordinate amounts of almond butter I was consuming; almonds are a delicious, nutritious, all around amazing nut, but they also require a disproportionate amount of water to grow compared to other nuts and seeds. Also, my daily heaping-spoonfuls-of-almond-butter habit was beginning to wear down on it’s rightful novelty (which is never a good thing when a product is pricey, both in terms of $ and resources).
I tried, and failed, to hop on the tahini-over-oatmeal bandwagon, but I’m not going to lie to you and say it’s a viable nut-butter replacement (but, as you’re probably thinking, why listen to me anyway? Tahini over oatmeal may in fact be your jam). Before re-resorting to my childhood obsession with peanut butter, I realized, in a moment of underwhelming epiphany, how much I like pumpkin seeds, how much I like butter, and how well those two things theoretically go together.
Suffice to say the transition to a seedier life has been smooth; this seed butter ticks all the boxes (creamy, tight-budget-friendly, healthy, not-gross). Having said that, however, there may be one caveat; it’s no new fact that the taste of “sweet” has to pervade nearly everything we Americans eat, but this seed butter will not deliver on that desire (unless, of course, you add a few pinches of sugar to the mix).
The lack of naturally occurring sugars in these seeds (at least compared to almonds/cashews, which are very sweet relatively speaking), may come as a surprise, especially if you’re used to sweetened nut butter. Nonetheless, as murky colored as this butter may be, the resulting flavor is far from lake-water. In fact, it’s rich and delicious, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone looking for a healthy change to their daily breakfast/snack/margarine-on-toast routine. I hope you enjoy this somewhat wacky concoction as much as I do; and let’s say goodbye to palm-oil-laden store-bought butters forever (or at least until we’re in a pinch and really need some).
2-4 tbsps flax oil* (add based on desired consistency)
Pinch or two salt (optional; add to taste)
Granulated sugar to taste* (optional; I prefer to omit this, but if you'd like a bit more sweetness simply add it gradually by the tsp)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Measure out flax seeds and grind in a food processor or spice grinder until they resemble a powdery meal. Set aside.
Spread the pumpkin, sunflower, chia, and sesame seeds out on a baking tray (if using hemp seeds omit them from this step), and bake for ~10 minutes, until a faint toasted smell emanates from your oven and the seeds have taken on a slight golden hue (be very watchful, as over-baking them even slightly will cause them to emit too much of their precious oil, resulting in a dry butter). Allow to cool for ~15 minutes before pouring into your high-powered blender or food processor.
Blend the seeds on low-medium speed for 4-6 minutes, frequently pushing down on the seed butter with the tampering device if you're using a blender; if using a food processor, you will probably have to stop it a few times to scrape down the sides with a spoon. Add 2 tbsps flax oil and continue to blend, adding 1-3 more tbsps as you go in order to achieve your desired consistency. It may feel like eternity, but eventually the fats in the seeds will break down and spin into a creamy, luscious butter.
Finally, add a pinch or two of salt and/or granulated sugar to make things pop a bit more. It's as simple as that~ and now it's time to drizzle/spread it on (nearly) everything! I especially like this butter with sliced apples and pears, and dolloped over granola and oatmeal.
* Flax seeds are difficult to absorb in their whole form, plus they sometimes have trouble breaking down once added to a blender full of other, particularly creamy/liquid, ingredients, so pre-grinding them a bit will help ensure you absorb the most of their rich, omega-3 profile.
* You could also use coconut/macadamia/walnut/etc. oil, but know that the flavor may vary slightly; I definitely wouldn't recommend sesame oil because of it's strong savory flavor.
*Granulated sugars are preferable here because liquid sweeteners have the tendency to make butters seize up and lose their creamy, flowing consistency.
Do you also get more excited walking through the granola aisle of the grocery store compared to the ice-cream and candy aisles?
If so, you’re in the right place. In this tiny corner of the internet, granola is a way of life (and a damn good, delicious one at that).
Unlike most granola’s, however, this one is actually healthy enough to fill to the brim of your breakfast bowl every morning. Simply (and minimally) sweetened with fruit, it won’t induce a knee-jerking sugar crash (a true rarity in this day and age of highly-processed, packaged breakfast foods).
Plus, it calls for zero added oil.
And in answer to the most pressing question of the day, yes, it suffices in crunchiness (i.e. the golden rule of granola). What whaaat? (*Pinch me* it sounds too good to be true??!)
Here’s a basic breakdown of the essential ingredients:
1. Nut butter! Or tahini! (Nut or seed “paste” makes the best oil replacement. Also, “paste” is kind of a gross word?) 2. Ripe, spotty bananas! (Translation: so very ripe and speckled you couldn’t be enticed to eat them whole.) 3. Crunchy edible things! (Toss all of your favorite, or simply on-hand, nuts, seeds, and groats, into the mix. Everything goes.)
If you don’t have a sweet tooth, or would simply rather keep the sugar level to the bare minimum, you can omit the syrup with no adverse effects! The solely banana-sweetened version still contains a pleasant amount of sweetness.
1/3 tsp flaky sea salt (if using fine table salt add slightly less to taste)
1/2-3/4 cup dried fruit(s) of choice, such as chopped dates, raisins, goji berries,... (to stir in post-baking)
Preheat oven to 320 F. In a large bowl, mash the bananas with a fork until there aren't any inordinately large chunks. Stir in the tahini, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Next, add the oats, both seeds, spices, and salt directly to the bowl of wet ingredients (creating a little mound). Lightly mix together the heap of dry ingredients before fully incorporating into the wet mixture.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and use a spatula to spread out the granola into a sheet of relatively even thickness. Bake on a lower rack in the oven (bottom third), carefully flipping once at the ~20 minute mark (at this point you can also break up the sheet of oats into pieces of your desired size). Return to a middle rack in the oven for a further 12-17 minutes; once many of the pieces are noticeably deep golden around the edges, remove the pan and allow to cool, untouched, for a good 3o-ish minutes to ensure optimum crunchiness! Store in a glass container for 1-2 weeks until future noms.
This recipe was inspired by both Nina Montagne's banana-sweetened granola & Caitlin Shoemaker's tahini granola (@Frommybowl)!