Apricot Chocolate (date free!) Bliss Balls

Apricot Chocolate Date free Bliss Balls

Bliss balls are one of my favourite sweet treats.  These apricot chocolate date free bliss balls are perfect if you’re not a fan of dates.   This weekend I wanted to make date free bliss balls, and I came up with this yummy recipe with a base of dried apricots instead of dates. I’ve been enjoying them with a cuppa for morning tea this week and they’re delicious (especially the ones I dipped in dark chocolate!).

Here’s how to make them:

Apricot chocolate date free bliss balls

1/2 cup dried apricots, soaked in boiling water for 1 hour
70g ground almonds
1/4 cup cashew nut pieces
1/4 cup crushed almond pieces
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 tablespoons almond butter or peanut butter
3 tablespoons of currants (optional)

To coat you can use:

Dark chocolate
Chia seeds


Soak the dried apricots in boiling water for an hour so they soften.  Drain the water and pat dry with a paper towel.  Place in a blender along with the ground almonds, cocoa and peanut butter/almond butter.   Blend until the mixture comes together and the nuts are crushed into small pieces.  Mix in the crushed almonds.   Roll the mixture into balls.

I dipped some of  my apricot chocolate bliss balls in melted dark chocolate, rolled some in coconut and the rest in chia seeds.  Choose the coating of your choice 🙂

Store in the fridge until ready to eat.

Enjoy your date free bliss balls!


Spinach and Feta Filo Tart

While there’s not a lot going on in my vegetable garden at the moment, one consistent performer that you can rely on in whatever the weather is spinach.  I’ve got 6 plants I planted before winter hit that are producing plenty of spinach that I’ve been putting to good use.

One of those good uses was this spinach and feta filo tart.  It’s actually really easy to make.  Some people think filo is hard to work with, but it’s pretty easy really as long as you don’t leave it lying out for ages as it does dry out quickly.

This tart combines spinach, eggs, feta cheese plus a little lemon rind to give you a filling and satisfying dish that’s perfect for dinner – plus the left overs are great for lunch the next day.

Recipe for Spinach and Feta Filo Tart

400g spinach, washed, hard stalks removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large eggs
250g cottage cheese
300g feta cheese

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper
7 sheets filo pastry

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.  Grease a flan/quiche dish and set aside.

Cut the spinach down the middle, then into slices. Add to a large fry pan along with a splash of water.  Drizzle with half the olive oil.  Cook over a medium heat until the spinach is wilted.  Drain any fluid from pan, and squish any extra liquid from the spinach with a wooden spoon

While the spinach is cooking, beat the eggs in a bowl. Add the cottage cheese and the feta cheese, as well as the lemon zest, oregano and salt and pepper.  Next, add the spinach. Mix until well combined.

Get your filo pastry from the fridge.  Place the remaining olive oil in a small rammekin.  Lay your filo sheets down on a clean bench.  Brush one sheet with olive oil, and lay place in the greased quiche dish, olive oil side up. Fold in the corners, or trim so it fits nicely. Repeat with 4 sheets.  Add another dry sheet of filo.  There will be 5 layers of filo on the bottom.

Place the spinach and feta mixture in the filo pastry base.  Brush the last two sheets of filo with olive oil and lay over the top, folding over the corners.

Place in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the filo is golden brown and the middle is cooked.

Enjoy with steamed vegetables or a big garden salad. Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition Information

1019Kj / 243 calories
15.4g protein
16.6g fat
8.1g saturated fat
8.4g carbohydrates


Lemon Yoghurt Mousse

Lemon Yoghurt Mousse

I went to see my granddad in the weekend and we got chatting dessert.  Granddad is a great cook, and always makes a yummy dessert for Sunday dinner. This put the idea in my head that I really wanted to try out a new dessert on Sunday.   So I decided to treat myself and have a go at making mousse.  One of my favourite flavours is lemon so I whipped up this lemon yoghurt mousse. The good thing about this recipe is there is no refined flour or sugars, so even though it’s a treat and a little indulgent, it’s not going to send your blood sugars through the roof.  I sweetened this with stevia and coconut sugar, but it would be fine with all stevia to keep the sugar low.   I wanted it to be quite yoghurty so I used more yoghurt than cream.

This dessert is a source of calcium and vitamin C.  It’s quite high in fat since it uses cream and it tastes smooth, creamy and delicious.  Highly recommended as a bit of a weekend indulgence.


Lemon Yoghurt Mousse Ingredients:

Serves 4

3/4 cup of thick natural, unsweetened yoghurt
2 tablespoons stevia
1 tablespoon of other sweetener (I used coconut sugar)
Rind of one lemon
1/2 cup cream (I used zany zeus organic)
Juice of two large lemons
10g of gellatine


Place yoghurt, stevia and lemon rind in a medium sized bowl and fold together.  In another bowl, beat the cream until light and fluffy.

Place the juice from the lemons in a small pot and heat over a medium heat until it boils.  Add the sugar, stir till dissolved. Add the gelatine, stirring well with a fork until it has all dissolved.  Mix the gelatine mix into the yoghurt.  Next, gently fold the cream into the yoghurt/gelatine mix.  When it’s combined, spoon the mixture into small glasses or ramekins.  Refrigerate until set.  I takes a couple of hours in the fridge, but you could speed things up in the freezer.

I served mine with some passionfruit pulp and it was delicious.  Also nice would be some raspberries – defrost some frozen ones and sprinkle on top.

Eat slowly and enjoy!

Nutrition information (made with mix coconut sugar + stevia):

5.6g protein
14.7g fat
– 9.4g saturated fat
11.7g carbs



Chana Masala + why you should eat beans

This recipe was supposed to be the Indian dish Chana Masala, made with lovely fragrant spices and chickpeas.  Only I had already started and realised I had no chickpeas!  Don’t you hate it when that happens…. Instead of throwing everything out and eating toast, I decided to substitute a can of red kidney beans and the good news is it turned out very tasty.  Apologies for the photo. It does look better in real life and tastes much better than it looks.  Winter mornings before work are not good times for taking photos.

This dish is great for a quick, easy dinner.  It’s also really cheap to make – a can of beans + a can of tomatoes and an onion will set you back less than $5 – I had all the other ingredients at home, so it was very easy on the pocket.  It’s also low in calories and high in protein and fibre to help keep you feeling fuller for longer.

While paleo peeps aren’t a fan of beans, I am!  Paleo diets avoid them because of their so called “antinutrients” but these claims are unfounded. Lots of traditional diets contain legumes and suffer no ill consequences.   They’re high in soluble fibre, and a source of folate, magnesium, potassium, and protein. Plus they’re super cheap. Kidney beans are also a source of Vitamin C and the B vitamin niacin.

Recipe for Chana Masala with beans:

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely sliced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 thimble sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon turmeric
3 cardamom pods, lightly crushed.
1 can of chopped tomatoes in juice
1 tablespoon of fresh chopped coriander
1 can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed (or feel free to use chickpeas!)
5 large spinach leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon sour cream or Greek yoghurt, to serve
lemon wedge, to serve


Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a fry pan and heat over a medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook, stirring frequently until it is caramalised.  This will take a wee while, but gives the dish a yummy flavour.  The more colour, the more flavour.  Don’t burn though – black colour = bad colour!  We’re wanting a caramalised brown colour.

Reduce the heat to low and add the garlic, cumin, ground coriander, ginger, garam masala and the turmeric.   Add a little more oil if it looks a bit dry.  Stir the spices for around 30 seconds until fragrant.  Add 1/4 cup of water and stir the onion and spice mix.  Cook until all water has evaporated.  Add the can of tomatoes.

Increase the heat to medium and bring to the boil.  Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and let the sauce simmer.  Add a pinch of cayenne pepper and the coriander, stirring on occasion.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add the beans and the chopped spinach, stirring well.  Add another 1/4 cup of water, and  cook over a low heat, stirring regularly for about 5 minutes.

Serve with the Greek yoghurt or sour cream stirred through and a squeeze of lemon, and a side of steamed vegetables.

Makes about 2 servings for dinner.

Recipe adapted from Orangette


Pesto Portabello Mushrooms with Egg

We live about 15-20 minutes away from a big mushroom factory (is it a factory? farm? the place that grows them anyway!) that sells big boxes of delicious portabello mushrooms.  My sister in law was going past last week and picked up a box and shared some with me. Yah!  I’ve been eating lots of mushroom dishes  over the week but this one was really quite simple and yummy so I thought I’d share it with you.  Plus I just love how the egg sits perfectly in the mushroom!

I made my own pesto as I had lots of macadamia nuts at home plus heaps of Italian parsley.  But you could just buy store bought pesto to save time.

Macadamia Pesto

1/3 cup macadamia nuts
1 cup Italian parsley
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
juice from 1/2 a lemon


Grind nuts in a blender.  If you don’t have a good blender (like me at the moment!) bash the nuts in a mortar and pestle and then use a stick blender.  Place the rest of ingredients in to blend, and blend until everything is mixed well and the pesto is reasonably smooth.  I like mine a little chunky so I avoid over blending it.

Mushroom + Egg

Take one portabello mushroom and wipe clean.  Place in a pan with 1 tsp oil on a medium heat.  Add a sprinkle of worchester sauce on the mushroom. Spread with the pesto and crack the egg on top of the mushroom.  Cover with a lid and cook over a slow heat.  To stop the mushroom from burning on the bottom, add a tablespoon or two of water to the bottom of the pan during cooking – this helps create steam which cooks the egg.

Serve with some tomato and extra pesto.  Yum!

Raw Chocolate Beetroot Cake

Raw chocolate beetroot cake is delicious! I never thought I’d say that as when I looked at the recipe I had reservations.  In fact, it was a friend that made it first and bought it to work for me to sample.  I was sold pretty quick.  The base is not overly sweet, but packed full of nutrient rich, delicious ingredients.  And the chocolate icing is AMAZING! Better than any regular icing.  No kidding.

The two main ingredients of the cake are beetroot and brazil nuts – both incredibly nutrient rich foods.  Beetroot is high vitamin C – great at scavenging free radicals and helping keep your immune system in top shape.   Beetroot is also high in nitrates which can help reduce blood pressure. It also contains the compound betalain which gives beetroot it’s beautiful red colour and functions as a powerful antioxidant.

Brazil nuts are one of the best sources of selenium – a mineral lacking in many NZ diets. An adequate selenium intake is important for thyroid health as well as helping to prevent coronary artery disease and some cancers as it helps protect against oxidative damage in the body. Brazil nuts are also packed full of essential fatty acids which are great for heart health and your skin.

The recipe is also a good source of dietary fibre which will help keep the digestive system working well.

I altered my recipe slightly and used dried cherries instead of currants, but feel free to switch the cherries out for currants.  You can find the original recipe over at Dr Libby’s website.  I also made half the recipe and did a slice rather than a cake as it’s a large serve!  Cut into small slices as it’s quite rich.

Raw Chocolate Beetroot Cake

1 cup Brazil nuts
2 medjool dates
1/2 cup dried cherries or currants
1/4 cup organic maple syrup
1 large beetroots, grated
2 cup desiccated coconut
1/4 cup cacao powder
1.5 tablespoons of ground psyllium husk

In a food processor, blend the Brazil nuts until they are crumbly flour. Add the dates, dried cherries and maple syrup and process until smooth. Next, add the grated beetroot and process for another minute or two. Lastly add the coconut, cacao powder and psyllium husks and blend for a good couple of minutes until everything is well mixed and has a fine texture.You don’t want big bits of grated beetroot in there – it should be quite fine and an even texture.

Press into a small slice tin and place in the freezer while you make the icing. It needs about 20-30 minutes to set hard enough to put the icing on top.


50g cacao butter or coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup raw cashew nuts
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp tamari

Melt the cacao butter or coconut oil over a low heat and leave to cool slightly. In a food processor, blend the cashews, cacao powder, maple syrup, lemon juice and tamari for a minute or so until the nuts start to grind up. As the blade is still running pour in the melted cacao butter and process into the mix is smooth and the nuts are ground.

Spoon the icing over the cake and refrigerate until the icing is set, about 15 minutes.  You can sprinkle some coconut flakes on top too if you like.

Eat and enjoy!  Store in the fridge.

Healthier Chocolate Crackles

Healthy chocolate crackles

One thing that I loved when I was a kid was chocolate crackles.  Crispy, chocolatey goodness that melted in your mouth mmmmm.  However those little delights unfortunately are terribly bad for you with their sugary/refined grain/trans fat combo.  Yup, little heart attack bombs.  Well that’s probably an exaggeration, but they’re definitely not good for you and I haven’t eaten one for a very long time.  I saw a recipe for them in a kids cookbook I was flicking through which inspired me to recreate  healthy chocolate crackles – well healthier ones anyway.  I have to say, I was pretty happy with this version.  They’re still a treat, so don’t be tempted to go overboard, but a better for you treat.

I use cocoa butter in the recipe – the same fat that’s used in chocolate. Not only does it taste great, it has a minimal effect on cholesterol levels.  Cocoa butter is made up mainly of the fatty acids of palmitic, stearic, and oleic acids. Palmitic acid is a saturated fat which increases cholesterol whilst Stearic acid, another saturated fat, appears to have a neutral effect. Oleic acid, meanwhile, is a liquid, monounsaturated fat that decreases the risk of heart disease. So all in all cocoa butter has a neutral effect on cholesterol levels. You can buy it here


30g cocoa butter

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 tablespoon of almond butter

3 tablespoons of honey

2 – 3 tablespoons cocoa

1 1/2 cup puffed brown rice or puffed quinoa

2/3 cup chopped nuts (I used hazlenuts, almonds and cashews)

2/3 cup buckwheat

1/3 cup coconut

2-3 tablespoons sunflower seeds



Melt the cocoa butter, coconut oil and almond butter in a pot over a medium heat.  Once melted, remove from the heat and stir the honey until combined.  If the honey doesn’t melt in pop the pot back on the heat for a few minutes.  Next add in the cocoa and stir until well combined.  Add the rest of the dry ingredients and fold through the wet mixture.   Line a small baking tray with baking paper.  Press in the mixture so it’s packed in.  You can also put the recipe into cupcake wrappers so they’re like the real old school crackles.  Refrigerate until set!  Best to store these babies in the fridge otherwise they’ll melt in a warm room.  Store in an air tight container and eat within a week, or they’ll go a little soggy (still delicious though…)

Enjoy your healthy chocolate crackles!


Natural sugar free sparkling drinks

When it’s a hot summer’s day, there’s nothing like a cool, refreshing drink with a hint of sweetness.  The problem is, most drinks that satisfy this bill are packed with sugar and colours.   If you’re avoiding sugary drinks and want a yummy, refreshing summer drink then read on!  These are some of my summer favourites to enjoy on a hot day – minus the sugar.

Using sparkling water, fresh fruit and a few herbs, you can make yummy, fruity flavoured drinks that are a refreshing change from water. It’s a simple way to add a bit of flavour to your drink but without the sugar or calories.

Mixed Berry and Mint:

Squish about 4 blackberries and raspberries and place them in a cup with sparkling water. Also add a few whole berries. Add a couple of mint leaves. The longer you leave these in the cup before drinking, the stronger the flavour. If you want something a little sweeter, then add a couple of drops of stevia.

Squeeze the juice from 1/2 a small lemon into a glass, along with the juice from 1/4 of an orange. Top up with sparkling water and add some lemon and grapefruit slices.

Pink Strawberry lemonade

Finely chop 4-5 strawberries and slightly crush with the back of a knife. This helps release the juices.  Add to a cup of sparkling water with 3 drops of stevia.  Add a squeeze of lemon and lime.


Raspberry, Banana and Coconut Raw Cheesecake

A healthy, raw cheesecake made with cashews, banana and raspberries

To celebrate National Nut Day I made this delicious cheesecake. I’m actually lying when I say it’s a cheesecake – this dessert contains no cream cheese at all.  This dessert really embraces the power of nuts.  The filling is actually made with cashew nuts, making it a source of zinc, iron, potassium and magnesium, and not to mention super tasty.   The base is made with almonds, walnuts and dates – again making it a great source of nutrients.    It’s not a recipe you can make in a day as you need to soak the nuts and leave to set overnight, but it’s well worth the waiting time.

While this cheesecake is nutrient packed, it’s also super rich and pretty dense in calories – so don’t go overboard!  One slice is delicious and amazingly satisfying.

It’s gluten free and dairy free too.  I was inspired by this recipe.

Here’s what you’ll need:


1 cup walnuts
1 cup almonds
1/2 cup dates (soak in hot water for 10 minutes before using)
2 tablespoons cocoa
1/4 cup coconut
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted


2 cups cashews, soaked for at least 3 hours, or preferably overnight in water
2 bananas
2/3 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup coconut cream
1 tbsp melted cacao butter (helps it set hard – but if you don’t have any, just leave it out)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
2 cups raspberries

 For the base:
Blend the nuts in a food processor until fine.  It doesn’t matter if there are some chunky bits as these make the base have a yummy crunchy texture.  Add the remaining ingredients and blend until the mixture sticks together well when squished.

Press into a 9 inch spring form tin.  (If you want a higher cake, use a smaller tin)

For the filling:

Pop all ingredients  except the raspberries in the food processor and blend until you get a silky smooth mixture.  You’ll need to stop the food processor and scrape the mixture down from the sides a few times to get the mixture just right.  Set aside half the mixture from the food processor into a separate bowl, then add the berries to the food processor and blend again.

Now for the fun part!

To make the pretty colour swirl, add one big spoonful of the banana/cashew mixture in to the base, then a scoop of the raspberry mixture on top.  Keep doing this until all the mixture is used up and in the tin.

Pop in the fridge to set overnight (or if you’re impatient like me – the freezer!)  It should be ready in about 5-6 hours in the freezer.



Make your own nut butter

One of my favourite foods is nut butters – almond butter and peanut butter in particular.  Almond butter is pretty expensive to buy, and if you want the peanut butter with nothing added, well that’s a bit more pricey than your average peanut butter too.

But the good news is it’s so easy to make your own.  I don’t know why I didn’t do it earlier.  The past few weeks I’ve made almond butter, and peanut butter – both with excellent results.  All you need is nuts, a decent food processor and some clean, sterilised jars.

For the almond butter I made, I used about $5 worth of almonds and filled a jam jar.  This compares to paying around $11 for a jar at the supermarket.  The peanuts I bought were $3 and it filled a fairly large jar – as pictured.

NOTE: I accidentally bought blanched peanuts so my peanut butter looks very white! Buy the raw peanuts with skin on so you get more fibre and the more traditional peanut butter colour!

Here’s how I made mine.

1.  Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.  Spread your nuts in a single layer on a roasting dish and place in the oven for 20 minutes, turning them over at ten minutes.  Leave to cool for 15 minutes so they are still slightly warm (makes them easier to blend up)

2.  Place nuts in a food processor and blend on high.  You’ll need to stop the food processor occasionally and push down the nuts that have moved up the side of the processor.  Continue blending.  You’ll see the nuts go through several stages – firstly they’ll get chopped into chunks, then into an nut meal consistency, then it will come together like a dough.  Keep blending a little bit past this stage and you’ll get a soft nut butter.

Crunchy nut butter version – take out some of the finely chopped nuts at the start of the blending process and set aside.  Stir through the butter at the end.

Smother on some grainy toast or use as a dip for carrots/celery/apple.  I also like a dollop of almond butter on my porridge – it’s so good, it adds some healthy fats and a yummy flavour.