Instead of taking something out of your life in 2021, hows about adding something in?
Like these energy bomb-bombs?
These mocha balls will happily hibernate in your freezer for up to four months, and your fridge for 1 month. This will help to upgrade those pesky sugar cravings into a nutritional party. We grab a handful running out the door and sink our nashers into them after 4 minutes of defrosting on the car seat beside me. They almost make traffic worthwhile. Almost.
Feel free to drizzle dark chocolate across each one, roll them as large of golf balls or teeny like cherries, or coat them in cacao powder. Of course wholefood divas can offset the coffee by adding some reishi powder or positive affirmations to the dough bowl. Namastasty.
Added pinch of probiotics, chaga, lion’s mane, reishi, brahmi, whatever you fancy (optional)
Start by pulsing your cocoa or cacao with your hazelnuts in a food processor until they resemble bread crumbs (only delishier).
Then de-stone all your fabulous Medjool dates. I recommend proceeding with caution as one in every 100 Medjool dates can have a dry black mould that poofs out upon tearing into the date. You do not want this in your Sunday mocha ball!
Drop each date into the food processor, one by one, while the motor is still running. Trickle in the espresso until a manageable dough ball forms in your processor. Dust with sea salt, optional jazz, and roll into 16 beautiful balls. Chill until set, and coat with melted chocolate if you fancy. But we prefer them as they are. Freeze in bags for another date, or store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
The trillions of microflora that can be found in the gut play an essential role in supporting strong immune and digestive systems. At any one time, your gut can contain 1.5kg of bacteria. Giving them some TLC is pretty darn important in my experience, especially if you’ve had a recent course of antibiotics. I’ve joined forces with Bio Kult, bringing you a fibre-rich recipe to pimp up your pipes (see cookery demo at the bottom of this post) .
Fibre is a good source of fuel to get the party started for your gut’s metropolis of microflora. That, and a good serving of natural yoghurt on top. If you’re interested in learning more about the brilliance of our very own internal ecosystem, then I highly recommend Gut by Giulia Enders from your local book store. It’s so incredibly witty, intelligent and informative. Plus, it might just change your life.
Serves 6-8 as mains or side dish
2 tablespoons butter, ghee or olive oil 2 teaspoons cumin seeds 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds 2 large onions, diced 6 fat cloves garlic, peeled and minced 1 fat thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and minced 1 tin chopped tomatoes 2 teaspoons ground curry powder 2 tins chickpeas 500g rainbow chard, baby spinach or cavolo nero, sliced Natural yoghurt, to serve
Heat the butter over a hot flame and tumble in your cumin and mustard seeds. As soon as they start to pop (30 seconds), turn down the heat and add the onion. Sweat for 10 mins until softened before adding the garlic and ginger. Cook and stir for another 3-5 minutes until the onions have caramelised and before the garlic burns. Pour in the tin of tomatoes and cook down for 5 minutes until thick (see video above).
Parachute in the curry powder, sliced greens, and the drained chickpeas. You can loosen up the dish by adding a little chickpea juice from the tin. The greens need a few minutes to wilt down into the dish. Cook for a further 5 minutes before seasoning, plating up, and serving with poppadoms or rice and natural yoghurt.
This week, I have corrupted Millionaire’s Shortbread with mantras and health foods. Yes mantras (caramel is spiritual, right?) Whistle-inducing excitement, for these extraordinarily knotty times you’ll agree.
The secret, I think, lies with odourless coconut oil which you can find in health food stores for half the cost of organic extra virgin coconut oil (horrah!).
Odourless coconut oil is the snazzlejazzle. After a first pressing (extra virgin), the oil is gently steamed to remove its strong coconutty perfume and taste. It’s no longer a raw product at this point, but is still a superb source of MCTs (the medium chain triglycerides that sporting folk become disproportionately affectionate about). Turns out, that all saturated fats are not equal. Each saturated fat has its own structure, and their individual differences influence the way they work in your body. (Scientists, deep breaths while I mutilate your language). MCTs seem to be metabolized more like carbohydrates than fats, and quickly used for energy. Butter will deliver 1-2g of MCTs per tablespoon, ghee around 4g, and coconut oil a whopping 8g. Store this little nugget for later, to impress that hot tri-athlete in your office or that achingly fit barista. You’re welcome.
But coconut oil’s real deal lies with its reputed immune-loving compounds like lauric and caprylic acid. The predominant MCT in coconut oil is lauric acid, known for some serious Ninjago moves. Much of the research on lauric and caprylic acids (also found in breast milk) have shown that many pathogens do not like these particular MCTs (take that, you pesky firestarters!) But given that this week’s recipe is so damned delicious, I’m happy to horse into it while scientists do more research.
Also, if you cut into squares and store in the freezer, they will taste closer to Snicker’s ice cream bars than caramel squares. Don’t thank me – thank my pal Helen James for coming up with the peanut butter brilliance.
100g ground almonds
50g rolled oats
3 tablespoons (odourless) coconut oil, melted
Pinch of sea salt
2 tablespoons of maple syrup or rice malt syrup or honey
30g peanut butter
2 tablespoons (odourless) coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons maple syrup (no other sweetener works as well for consistency)
110g light tahini
70g dark chocolate, melted
Smattering of flaky sea salt e.g. Maldon
You’ll need to line a large bread tin (25cm) with non-stick
baking parchment. Shoot up the oven to 170 Celsius (150 fan-assisted).
In a food processor, blitz the whole oats with your ground
almonds until uniform. With the motor still running, pour in the oil, salt and
maple syrup. Scoop out into your prelined tin. It will seem tricky to
manipulate the base, so I recommend using clean hands to flatten the mixture
into every corner.
Bake for 12 minutes at 170C before it colours. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
Meanwhile, get partying with your wholefood caramel. Whisk the listed ingredients together with a fork. Cover your cooled base with this gloriously yummy caramel. Chill briefly.
Now is a good time to pour over the melted chocolate. If the caramel is too cold/chilled, the chocolate will set immediately and make it impossible to spread. You can move the tin around, redirecting the melted chocolate to the bits that need covering. Sprinkle the top with flaky sea salt. Chill until set. We eat it straight from the fridge, but it can also be eaten straight from the freezer (a very good hiding place, FYI).