sugar

Sea Salt Date Caramels

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Dear Dillan,

I see you used dates for this recipe. That seems weird. Why would I want to use dates instead of sugar? Can't I just make caramels the old-fashioned way?

Love, Someone who really wants to know

Dear Someone,

I used dates because there are a whole-food source of natural sugar. It makes way more sense to me, as a health coach and sugar-attracted person, to eat real food that tastes sweet than just pure sugar because sugar does nothing GOOD for my body and only makes me feel tired, angry and achy.

How does it make you feel?

Love, Dillan

PS you can do whatever you want, really. Isn't it nice to have choices, though?

Sea Salt Date Caramels*

*these are a tad bit labor-intensive. Block off some time and put on some high-vibe music to make these babies.

(makes about 15 medium caramels)

Ingredients 1 cup pitted medjool dates. To measure, take the pit out of your dates and then pack them into the measuring cup before soaking them in the hot water. I used about 14 smallish dates. 1/4 cup coconut milk (full fat or light), warmed 1/4 cup melted coconut oil 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, optional 1/4 - 1/2 tsp. unrefined salt Coconut flour, for dusting

Chocolate coating 1/4 cup cocoa powder (I use Navitas) 1/4 cup organic coconut oil 2 Tbs. raw honey or pure maple syrup OR use melted dairy-free chocolate chips (about 1/3 cup chocolate chips, use more if needed)

Instructions

1) In a pot of very hot water, soak the dates and then drain them. In a blender, combine the dates, coconut milk, coconut oil and vanilla extract to make a paste. Add salt, blend, taste and add a bit more salt if desired.  Set in the freezer until firm.

2) The original recipe said 3 hours but I left this for a day or two until I was ready to make them. The mixture was firm but melted in my hands so I highly recommend you use two spoons to form the date mixture into balls. Dust lightly with coconut flour, place on a cookie sheet and store in the freezer to stay firm.

photo 1
photo 1

3) To make the chocolate coating: melt and stir together the cocoa powder, coconut oil and raw honey over very low heat until combined. If it's too runny, place in the fridge for a few minutes to harden. Remove from fridge and stir until desired consistency.

  • If you are using the chocolate chips instead of the homemade chocolate coating, melt the chocolate chips over low heat until smooth and add a bit of coconut oil, if needed. Do not overheat.

4) Take one caramel at a time and dunk into the chocolate. Roll it around until covered. You will know your chocolate coating is too hot if the date ball melts between your fingers. I learned this lesson the hard way. Place the dripping, delicious mess on a baking sheet lined with unbleached parchment. Sprinkle a few grains of salt on top and put the sheet in the fridge to firm up the chocolate coating.

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photo 2

5) Store these suckers in the fridge to keep their shape. If you somehow manage to not eat them all in a day or two, they should keep for about two weeks.

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photo 3
Thanks to Empowered Sustenance for the recipe idea!

Super Simple Slaw

I have no idea how to make cole slaw but I want to eat it. I like the kind they serve in diners but I often wonder, "what's in this? what am I eating?"

A quick Google search brings up recipes, and I take a look at a few. Same basic idea, some changes here and there. A lot of mayo. A lot of sugar. Too much for something that's made with carrots and cabbage--there's so much potential for it to be a really healthy side dish and a fun way to get some greens in (cabbage counts as a green), why ruin it with all that sugar? No need. I can do better.

Some wonderful friends recently brought over a bunch of food when I returned home from surgery, and it included some slaw-and I'm pretty sure it was some of the tastiest I've had.

I wanted to do it myself. I have no idea why I'm craving cole slaw---could be that my body is desperately craving greens to help detox the anesthesia from my system. Surgery was rough but I'm feeling better each day. I can't cook much yet (don't have much mobility of my arms and torso) but I CAN shred some carrots and stir (a little).

Here's what I made last night and it was awesome. The recipes I found online called for almost twice to three times the portions I used for the mayo and sugar. Always start with less and you can add more, but see how tasty things are with far less salt and sugar. The apple cider vinegar also gives a great tang.

As always, I try to use as many organic ingredients as possible. 

Super Simple Slaw*

Ingredients

2 mega large carrots

1/3 of a medium cabbage--about 3 cups chopped/shredded

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 tsp sugar

1/4 cup sunflower seeds, roasted or raw

Instructions

1) Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir. Eat!

See? Super simple.

*had fun with this one? Awesome. Flex your cooking muscles with this Cool Thai Slaw recipe.

Coconut-Cherry-Chocolate Breakfast

When I recommend eating oats for breakfast, a lot of people/clients tell me they hate oatmeal.

For a while, I didn't understand this. The instant oatmeal packets of my childhood never bothered me at all.

When I became a heath coach, I began to understand the problem. See, instant oatmeal packets contain a lot of sugar. Well, the ones I ate did. Up to 13 grams of sugar! That's about 3 teaspoons. That is a lot of sugar and I don't see myself putting 3 teaspoons of sugar into a bowl of oatmeal these days. If I tried eating my oatmeal plain, that wouldn't taste so good, so I can see why my clients are struggling to find a good balance.

Here's what I made the other day and it was not only tasty, it had no refined sugar AND was jam-packed full of nutrients. I think the key to enjoying oatmeal is to change it up a bit, add things to it and always remember how awesome it is for you. If you consider that eating it is doing GOOD THINGS for your bod, as opposed to how delicious but nutritionally-void other things can be---it helps the oats go down easier.

That's my opinion, anyway.

Here are two recipes for this tasty mixture---try both and leave your comments!

Chocolate-Cherry-Coconut Oats (or Quinoa)

Ingredients

1/2 cup instant oats or leftover cooked quinoa

1 Tbs dried cherries

1 tsp raw cacao powder (don't be scared--it's cocoa that hasn't been processed or combined with sugar)

2 Tbs coconut milk (the real thing, out of the jar/can. The one in the container will do, too.)

1 tsp raw shredded coconut dash of cinnamon

1 tsp maple syrup or raw, local honey (these are sources of sugar, yes. But they are natural and come from the earth with little to no processing.)

Instructions

1) Combine the oats, cherries, coconut and coconut milk in a small pan over very low heat. Warm, mix into a bowl with raw cacao powder and maple syrup. Enjoy!

Chocolate-Cherry-PB-Coconut Oats

Ingredients

1/2 cup rolled oats soaked overnight in water

1 Tbs of fresh-ground peanut butter in place of coconut milk (same ingredients as above)

Instructions

1) Strain the soaked oats and rinse them with clean, fresh water. Return to bowl, add peanut butter and the other ingredients listed above. The peanut butter will replace the coconut milk for your fat source and add some additional protein.

2) Eat this cold or only slightly warmed. Experience the texture of soaked oats without warming them before you eat them. What do you think?!

Now you have some inventive ways to enjoy your oats.

I would have added a picture of the finished product but, quite frankly, the end result isn't exactly photogenic. When you mix raw cacao powder into anything, it turns very brown. That's all I'll say about that. ;)

Each of the ingredients above adds some essential, awesome nutrients to your day. Do some research and see what you discover. Can you believe you'd get that much nutrition in ONE BOWL of food?

ENJOY!