Put your hand up if you have a secret chocolate stash. Desk drawer? Highest kitchen cupboard? Bedside table? On the rare occasion that my kids would find my hidden chocolate, I’d usually shamelessly look them in the eye and say something like, “oh, you wouldn’t like that chocolate. It’s too strong/spicy/fruity.”
Thank goodness they were so naïve and trusting when little. Today, I am little more generous when it comes to sharing my treats, and these delicious truffles are a favourite in our house. With loads of flavour and natural sweetness, they are rich and satisfying. Vegan, gluten-free and packed with protein, fibre and potassium, they’re not only nutritious, they’re also a great nut-free goodie to tuck into a lunchbox. What better way to say ‘I love you’ (including to yourself) than with a healthy, homemade treat that tastes decadent but is actually good for you?
1 thin slice raw beet (peeled)
1 tbsp warm water
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, divided
1 tsp water
1 1/2 cups pitted dates
3 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tbsp quinoa flakes
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
1 tbsp maple syrup
Pinch of sea salt
2 – 3 tbsp water or strong brewed coffee
Cut beet slice in half and place in a small bowl; add 1 tablespoon warm. Let sit 15 minutes until the water turns vibrant pink. Discard beet and set water aside for tinting coconut garnish.
While beet juice is steeping, look at your initial quantity (1 cup) of coconut. If it is in large strands, as mine was, dump it on a cutting board and chop it a bit so the pieces are finer.
Divide the 1 cup coconut into two shallow bowls.
To one bowl, add the beet juice, 1 teaspoon at a time, stirring well after each addition. The coconut will take on a lovely pink hue; keep adding juice till you like the colour. Spread the coconut out in the bowl and let it dry a bit while you make the truffles.
To the white coconut bowl, add 1 teaspoon of water and stir well to blend. The coconut will stick better to the truffles if it is a bit damp.
Purée dates, cocoa powder, coconut, quinoa flakes, orange zest, maple syrup, salt and 2 tablespoons of water or coffee in a food processor until quite smooth.
You want a moist dough that will stick together without being too wet to form a ball (pinch a bit together with your fingers to check).
If dough is too dry, add more liquid (water or coffee), ½ teaspoon at a time. If you overdo it on the liquid, add more coconut or quinoa flakes, ½ teaspoon at a time, until mixture reaches desired consistency.
Shape dough into approximately twenty balls, about ¾ inch in size, and roll in white or pink coconut.
For gifting package them in some of those little boxes you’ve been saving for ever, knowing you’d need them one day, with mini muffin pan liners to separate the truffles.
Store the ones you’re planning to devour yourself in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Makes about 20 guilt-free truffles.
RELATED: Butterfinger Truffles Recipe
Pesto is one of my favourite things to make because it’s so versatile and delicious. I’m a big fan of traditional basil pesto, but I also love it made with sun dried tomatoes, garlic scapes, or roasted red peppers. I love making big batches of various kinds of pesto then freezing them in small containers. It thaws quickly and I use it to stuff mushroom caps, add creaminess to salad dressings and even to give a soups a big flavour perk-up.
The idea of using beets to make pesto occurred to me as I was contemplating this year’s Valentine’s Day menu, which at my house always has to include vibrant pink or red food. When my husband, who is truly a guinea pig/taste tester extraordinaire, took his first bite yesterday of pasta with beet pesto, he immediately declared it one of the most delicious things he’s eaten in years. I didn’t bother telling him how simple it was to prepare, nor how nutritious it is.
Makes approximately 1.5 cups of pesto.
If you’ve ever been to a resort in the Caribbean, you’ve probably experienced the delicious awesomeness that is flambéed bananas. Halved bananas cooked in a buttery, sugary sauce with a generous splash of rum – it’s one of my favourite desserts ever. Sometimes called Bananas Foster, I was thinking about ways to present the same flavours in a new dish and realized that they would be fantastic in egg roll form. These sweet egg rolls are ridiculously delicious and surprisingly simple to prepare, yet they look so fancy on the plate that they’d be perfect for a special dinner for two. As you lick up the last of the sauce (off your plate or your partner … no judging here), you can both think about that romantic Caribbean holiday you can't afford this year thanks to the sorry state of the Canadian dollar. While the quantities below are enough for two servings, if your kids insist on crashing your ‘date night at home’ dinner, you can easily double or triple the recipe.
4 egg roll wrappers (available in the produce section of most grocery stores)
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp hot water
1 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp dark rum
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Peel the banana and slice lengthwise, then cut each half in half crosswise to make four pieces.
In a very small bowl, combine the cornstarch and hot water.
Lay out the egg roll wrappers on a clean work surface.
Place one piece of banana in the middle of each egg roll wrapper.
Fold the top and bottom points of the wrapper over the banana, then roll up one side, tucking the point under the banana.
With a fingertip, paint the remaining point of the egg roll wrapper with the cornstarch and water mixture, then roll it over the wrapped banana, pressing to seal. Try to tuck in all the edges so that the banana is completely encased in the wrapper. That way the juices that accumulate during baking will stay inside the egg roll.
At this point, the egg rolls can be covered in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 8 hours before baking.
To cook, place the rolls on a wire rack and place the wire rack on a foil-lined cookie sheet. The rack helps ensure even baking.
Brush all sides of each roll with the melted butter.
Bake for 20 minutes, until golden and crispy, turning once during baking.
While egg rolls bake, make sauce by melting butter over medium heat in a small, heavy-bottomed pan. Add brown sugar and stir constantly until the mixture is bubbling. Add the rum and let it bubble for 2 minutes to allow the alcohol to burn off, stirring constantly. Add lemon juice, stir, and reduce heat to low to keep warm.
Serve egg rolls with ice cream, lightly drizzled with sauce.
Makes 2 servings.