In my teens and twenties I would go weak at the knees for some elaborate dessert like triple chocolate brownie with ice-cream and fudge sauce. Of course I’m still very partial to these sugar, butter and cream loaded goodies. Some evenings I love to make a special dessert just for two – something Joel and I can share together in the peace and quiet of the late evening like these incredible molten chocolate pots.
However, I have more appreciation these days for fresh, wholesome, healthy food. I’m aware of what I’m putting into my body so eating in moderation is important. But more than that, I really do just love and crave a plate full of vegetables and salads full of colour and flavour.
Yesterday for lunch we grilled a side of salmon on the BBQ then served with a big spoonful of herbs, capers, walnuts and lemon zest then a green salad and grilled herbed potatoes. So simple to make but lively, fresh and wholesome. Food fads and superfoods have never really interested me but I have made it our goal for the year to really up our vegetable intake which is not hard to do at all in California. Farmers markets are everywhere and it is a joy to scout out what is fresh and in season. My sister-in-law Rachel put me onto this documentary called ‘Food Fight’ about the food industry in America. It features Alice Waters and other Californian chefs who have forged this movement of eating local, sustainable and fresh food. Inspiring and makes me terribly hungry.
As for snacks, it can be harder to get something that is delicious, nutritious and satisfies that afternoon slump. I just love anything with nuts. A good handful of almonds and sultanas is a staple snack for me. Bliss Balls are a combination of dried fruits, nuts and sometimes coconut, cocoa powder etc. I just love them as they are packed with flavour and texture and you only need one to give you that kick in the afternoon slump between lunch and dinner. There are lots of different, delicious sounding recipes out there but this is the base recipe I use which I found in a copy of Australian Women’s Weekly.
Start with a base recipe and once you feel comfortable you might want to play around with different ingredients. Keep in a container in the fridge and you have a handy energy snack to have with an afternoon cup of tea or pop into the kids lunch box – providing of course the school doesn’t have a ‘nut-free’ policy. Our kids school isn’t ‘nut-free’ but on a rainy day the kids all eat at their desks inside and nuts aren’t allowed in the classroom. Always good to be aware if there are kids with severe allergies that might have contact with your kids.
(slightly adapted from Australian Women’s Weekly, June 2009)
100g dried dates, seeds removed
100g dried figs
40g desiccated coconut plus extra for rolling
60g almond meal
80g coarsely chopped nuts, almonds, pecans or walnuts
In a bowl soak the dried fruits in warm water overnight.
Spread the desiccated coconut over a lined baking tray and toast lightly in a low oven. Let it cool.
Drain the fruit and tip into a food processor along with the coconut, almond meal and nuts and process mixture until it forms a paste. I haven’t got a food processor here so I just used my knife and chopped up everything finely and it worked just as fine.
Roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls and roll in the extra desiccated coconut. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.