Zel's Vegan NutGourmet

Zel Allen Goes Nuts for Good Health

Posts Tagged ‘dates’

A PEACH OF A SUMMER DESSERT!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on June 22, 2016

Stuffed Peaches

CHOCOLATE AND WALNUT STUFFED PEACHES

Delicious ripe peaches, one of the summer’s sweetest and juiciest treats of the season, become the perfect perch for plopping an irresistible, walnut-studded chocolate orb into the cavity of a peach half. Can anyone resist chocolate sweetened with nothing more than dates and flavored with almond extract? I sure can’t!

Fresh, sun-ripened peaches play a key role in making this easy and naturally sweet dessert a top choice for a summertime treat. They look so tantalizing, chocolate fans will snap up these gorgeous stuffed peaches in a flash.

The best part is that you won’t need to use the oven or stove-top to prepare this hot-weather dessert–it’s deliciously raw and can be assembled within minutes. And it doesn’t hurt that they look so inviting.

Chocolate Stuffed PeachesI prefer the yellow peaches for this dessert for two reasons. First, they’re firmer and retain their shape and pleasing texture better than the white peaches. The second reason is they can be cut in half and separated without becoming mushy. They’re often called freestone peaches.

Buy the peaches when quite firm and leave them on the kitchen counter at room temperature for only a day or two. That gives them just enough time to be ripe and ready for stuffing.

Generally, white peaches have a higher water content and are not freestone. A day or two on the counter topChocolate Stuffed Peaches and white peaches might turn into a mushy mess when you try to separate the two halves. I confess, though, that white peaches are mighty delicious and my family enjoys them thoroughly.

The secret to separating the halves of white peaches is to cut them when quite firm and use a pairing knife to cut them off the pit. It’s a little tricky, but patience pays off. Overall, though, the yellow peaches are my first choice.

After cutting the peaches in half, I prepare the chocolate stuffing by softening the pitted dates with a little water in the food processor. As I measure the dates, I snip each one in half with a kitchen scissors. That way I can find the one or two pits that were overlooked during the commercial processing–and it saves my processor blades from damage.

Chocolate Stuffed PeachesThen I add the raw cacao or cocoa powder and almond extract and process to distribute the flavors thoroughly.

The next step is to transfer the chocolate mixture to a bowl and add the coarsely chopped walnuts. For coarsely grinding the walnuts I use my inexpensive hand-crank nut mill that can be purchased in a well-stocked kitchen shop.

Be sure to set aside some of the coarsely ground nuts for the topping. Now comes the fun part–rolling the chocolate mixture by hand into 1-inch balls and plunking them down into the peach cavity that’s ready and waiting for its sweet treat!

Chocolate Stuffed Peaches

CHOCOLATE AND WALNUT STUFFED PEACHES

 Yield: 12 stuffed peach halves

6 fresh yellow peaches

 

1 cup firmly packed dates, snipped in half with kitchen scissors

2 to 3 tablespoons waterChocolate Stuffed Peaches

 

2 tablespoons raw cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon almond extract

 

1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely ground in a hand-crank nut mill

12 golden raisins, for garnish

3 to 5 fresh mint leaves, for garnish

 

  1. Cut the peaches in half, discard the pits, and set aside.
  1. Stuffed PeachesPut the dates in a food processor and pulse chop a few times. With the machine running, slowly add 2 tablespoons of the water and process until well mixed but still very slightly chunky, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. Add all or part of the remaining tablespoon of water only if needed to moisten the date mixture.

 

  1. Add the cacao and almond extract to the processor and process briefly until completely incorporated. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and stir in 3 to 4 tablespoons of the ground walnuts and mix well. Put the remaining ground walnuts into a separate small bowl.
  1. Using your hands, form the cacao mixture into twelve 1-inch balls. Press a ball into each of the peach halves. Holding the peach carefully, invert it and dip the top of each cacao ball into the ground walnuts to coat the top of the ball. Arrange the peach halves on an attractive serving platter.
  1. For the finishing touch, poke a golden raisin into the center of each cacao ball. Sprinkle any remaining nuts around the platter and garnish with the mint leaves.

Stuffed PeachesChocolate Stuffed Peaches

Posted in Desserts, Vegan Desserts, walnuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

THESE MUFFINS ARE BORN FREE!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on August 29, 2009

My friend, AJ, bakes up a storm, yet she uses not a single drop of cooking oil or margarine. She also uses no sugar to sweeten her desserts—only dates. And that’s not all—she doesn’t even use flour! Think about that! Muffins that are born free of oil, sugar, and flour—and her desserts are damn delicious.

I began to give that some thought. I had a craving for muffins so I pondered the oil thing and realized others have done fat-free baking using mashed fruits—so that was doable.

The sugar issue was also not too daunting. There are other sweeteners like maple syrup, agave nectar, and brown rice syrup, but could I turn out a muffin that was sweet enough with only dates? Well, I figured if AJ could do it, I could probably make it work, too.

Giving the flour a bit of thought, I realized that old-fashioned rolled oats could probably give a muffin some great body as well as a few health benefits, as well.

For this old nut, you can guess the recipe had to be good and nutty—so hazelnuts became my nut of choice for this recipe that was beginning to take shape in my head.

Well, it came together beautifully—actually, it almost seemed the ingredients propelled themselves into the four bowls it took to mix up the batter. The muffins took just a little longer to bake than most, but only a few minutes longer.

The thing most people find unusual about my kitchen tools is that I keep a hammer in the drawer. That’s for the nuts, I tell them. It works perfectly for coarsely crushing tough nuts like hazelnuts and almonds.

Well, here it is– the oil-free, sugar-free, and flour-free gems. We loved them and think you will, too.

Richly flavored with spices and extracts and sweetened only with dates, these delicious muffins provide a scrumptious breakfast treat that has a guilt-free feature built in. They contain no added fats like margarine or oil and rely on old-fashioned oats in place of flour. So you can enjoy a high-fiber, low-fat treat and give your body the health benefit of soluble fiber to keep the cholesterol in check and low fat to keep the calories down.

bananhazelmuffin

BANANA HAZELNUT OAT MUFFINS

Yield: 1 dozen muffins

Date Puree
1 1/2 cups pitted dates, snipped in half
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water

Muffins
3/4 cup whole hazelnuts

1 1/4 cups vanilla soymilk
1 tablespoon rice vinegar or other mild vinegar

2 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup mashed bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon caramel extract

1 tablespoon Ener-G Egg Replacer
1/4 cup water

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 2 six-section muffin tins with baking cups or have ready a 12-section silicone muffin pan.
2. To prepare the Date Puree, combine the dates and water in the food processor and pulse and process to a coarse puree. Set aside.
3. To prepare the muffins, place the hazelnuts into a heavy-duty plastic bag, seal it, and place it on a hard surface. Pound the nuts with a hammer to coarsely crush them and set aside.
4. Combine the soymilk and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside.
5. In a large mixing bowl, combine the rolled oats, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda, and salt and mix well. Add the crushed hazelnuts and stir in.
6. In a medium bowl, combine the bananas, vanilla extract, caramel extract, the reserved date puree, and the soymilk/vinegar mixture. Stir well. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
7. In a small bowl, combine the egg replacer and water and beat with a fork until foamy. Add to the muffin batter and mix until thoroughly incorporated.
8. Fill the muffin pans to the brim and bake for 26 to 28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Cool completely before removing.

Note:
The amounts used to prepare the date puree makes 1 cup of puree.

Posted in hazelnuts, Nut Nutrition, Nut Recipes, Nuts and Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

THE DAZZLING NUTTY BALL-OFF SAGA!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on June 27, 2009

Chef AJ has done it again! An innovative instructor, ablaze with the desire to inspire, she motivated the students of her healthy cooking classes to challenge their deepest, most inventive skills to create an innovative, truly healthy fruit and nut ball. By holding a contest to inspire them, Chef AJ lit the spark that set the students on a whirlwind kitchen adventure to dazzle the judges.

The unique Ball-off Contest, held Sunday, June 7, 2009, proved to be an exciting, one-of-a-kind event that had all the contest participants, the onlookers, cheering section, and the judges on edge. There was to be only one winner who would receive a copy of my cookbook, The Nut Gourmet, in addition to private lessons with Chef AJ.

The distinguished judging panel
The judging panel of three included me, Zel Allen, my husband Reuben, who is co-publisher of Vegetarians in Paradise, an online vegetarian magazine, and Kimberly Horowitz. Chef AJ chose Kimberly as part of the panel of judges because Kimberly has the reputation of being a very fussy eater. Chef AJ says, “Kimberly hates everything! If she likes something at all, it must really be good.” We felt like celebrities with the power to change lives—well, almost.

Since there were six entries in the contest, there were six platters lined up at the judging table. Each platter, heaping with stunning fruit and nut-ball creations, had a number that corresponded to the participant. Only Chef AJ knew which balls belonged to which participant.

The balls were to be judged on three categories: appearance, creativity, and taste. Because each of the entries was amazing, flavorful, visually appealing, and downright delicious, each deserved special recognition. Choosing only one winner was tough—actually it was painfully agonizing and the judging panel deliberated with great seriousness to arrive at a true winner.

Let the tasting begin!
We tasted each of the balls, one at a time, and were captivated by each one. Yet we kept returning to platter #3, then platter #1, and again to platter #4, and #2. And on and on, savoring each of the distinctive entries. The creativity was commendable and refreshing.

Finally, we reached an exhilarating conclusion. The winner was Platter #2 that belonged to Nataly Carranza’s Almond Dream Balls. Quite often simple ingredients, assembled in just the ideal quantities, can become enchanting creations. That was what kept bringing our judging panel back to Platter #2. It was the combination of raw almonds, almond butter, and almond extract that earned the top award.

Below are the recipes for each of the delicious entries. Any one you choose to make will bring pleasure and taste delight to all who partake of these original taste treats made from all natural ingredients—nothing refined or processed here.

Nataly

Almond Dream Balls
By Nataly Carranza, the top prize winner

Yield: 15 to 20 balls

1/2 cup raw almonds
1/4 cup raw walnuts

1/2 cup pitted dates
1/4 cup raw almond butter
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Shredded coconut

1. Place the almonds and walnuts into the food processor and process until coarsely chopped.
2. Add the dates, almond butter, and almond extract and process until the mixture holds together.
3. Place the shredded coconut into a small bowl. Remove 1 tablespoon of the date/nut mixture from the processor at a time and roll into 1-inch balls.
4. Roll the balls in the shredded coconut to coat completely.

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Linda

Heavenly Balls
By Linda Zimmerling

Yield: 15 to 18 balls

1 cup raw pecans
1 handful dates soaked in water
5 unsoaked dates
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup dried cherries
1 tablespoon Vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon caramel extract

1. Combine all the ingredients in the food processor and process until they are well moistened and thoroughly combined to desired consistency.
2. Form the mixture into 1-inch balls by rolling between the palms of the hands.

****************************

YiFan2

Mint Chocolate Chip Balls
By YiFan Rao

Yield: Twenty 3/4-inch balls

10 to 15 dates to taste
1/2 cup hemp seeds
2 tablespoons cacao powder
1 small bunch fresh mint leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup of almonds
1 cup of cashews (or any combination of nuts)

Cacao nibs for coating the balls

1. Place the dates, hemp seeds, cacao powder, mint leaves, and vanilla extract into the food processor and process to a mushy consistency. Remove the date mixture and set side.
2. Place the nuts into the processor and process to a flour consistency. Add the date mixture and process until well combined.
3. Form the fruit-nut mixture into small balls about 1-inch in diameter. Place the cacao nibs into a small bowl and roll the balls into the nibs to coat them.

**********************************

Paula2

Coconut Delights
By Paula Shields

Yield: about 18 balls

2 cups raw pecans
1 cup raw almonds
12 to 15 dates, soaked overnight in just enough water to cover
1 handful black and golden raisins combined
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, or more to taste

3 to 4 ounces coconut powder

1. Combine the almonds, dates, raisins, vanilla extract, sunflower seeds, and cinnamon in the food processor and process, adding the date water as needed to wet and bind the mixture.
2. Place the coconut powder into a small bowl. Form the date-nut mixture into 1-inch balls and roll them in the coconut powder to coat them completely.

****************************

Blanca

Mama’s Balls
By Blanca Carranza

Yield: 15 to 20 balls

3 plantains

1/2 pitted dates
1/4 cacao powder
1/4 orange juice

Cacao nibs
1/4 raw chopped walnuts

1. Boil the plantains until soft. Cut them in half and remove the fibrous strings from the center
2. Place the plantains into the food processor along with the dates, cacao powder, and orange juice and process until smooth.
3. Remove about 1 tablespoon of the mixture at a time and roll into 1-inch balls.
4. Combine the cacao nibs and chopped walnuts in a small bowl and roll the balls in cacao nibs and chopped walnuts in the mixture to coat completely.

Posted in almonds, cashews, coconut, Nut Desserts, Nut Recipes, pecans, sunflower seeds, Vegan Desserts, walnuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

TASTE THE LOVE ON VALENTINE’S DAY

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on February 14, 2009

Warm the heart of that someone special with a blushing red, homey dessert you can prepare a day ahead and serve chilled. For a romantic touch, garnish the old-fashioned tapioca pudding with homemade chocolate hearts so irresistibly infused with love Cupid is sure to hit the mark. Valentine’s Day planning is the perfect opportunity to get out those heart-shaped cookie cutters that wait a full year to help love blossom. The Chocolate Hearts can be made several days ahead and either baked in the oven or dried in the dehydrator. Seal the Chocolate Hearts in a zipper-lock plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator.
rastapioca

RASPBERRY TAPIOCA PUDDING WITH CHOCOLATE HEARTS

Yield: 6 servings

2 cups frozen raspberries
1/2 cup organic sugar
3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
1/8 teaspoon salt

2 3/4 cups soymilk
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 to 1 teaspoon almond extract

1. Combine the raspberries, organic sugar, tapioca, and salt in a 2-quart saucepan and mix together. Gradually stir in the soymilk and lemon juice until the mixture is well blended.
2. Bring to a boil, uncovered, over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, and boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the almond extract.
3. Cool 5 minutes, then spoon into serving bowls and chill 2 to 4 hours or until firm. Serve with Chocolate Hearts.

Chocolate Hearts

1 cup walnuts
1 cup pitted dates
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons golden raisins

To make the Chocolate Hearts in the oven

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a jellyroll pan with parchment. Have ready various sizes of heart-shaped cookie cutters.
2. Combine the walnuts, dates, water, cocoa, and golden raisins in the food processor and process to a lightly textured puree. You will have to stop the machine several times to redistribute the ingredients until everything is well incorporated and the nuts are broken down to a fine, slightly textured meal. The mixture will be very thick.
3. Spoon the chocolate mixture onto the prepared baking pan and use the back of the spoon to press the mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan to form a rectangle approximately 8 x 9 inches by 1/4-inch thick.
4. Place the baking pan in the oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until the chocolate sheet is set but still soft. Remove the pan from the oven and cool about 30 minutes. Then use the cookie cutters to create several hearts. The hearts will firm as they cool.

To make the Chocolate Hearts in the dehydrator

1. Prepare the mixture as for baking. Then, simply spread the chocolate-date mixture on a teflex-lined dehydrator tray and place it in the dehydrator. Set the dial at 115 degrees and dehydrate for 9 to 12 hours.
2. Invert the chocolate-date sheet onto an unlined rack, remove the teflex sheet, and use the cookie cutters to press in several hearts, leaving the chocolate sheet intact. Return the tray to the dehydrator and dehydrate 8 to 12 hours longer to create a soft, but solid sheet. Allow the chocolate sheet to cool completely before removing the hearts.

Posted in Celebrations, Nut Desserts, Nut Recipes, Vegan Desserts, walnuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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