April 5, 2012

Macaroons, Raw Brownies & Easter Basket Ideas

Hooray!  This 60 Minutes segment, "Is Sugar Toxic?," came out just in time for Easter!

I watched it last night and while the data and studies are alarming, they are certainly not surprising.

Let me give you the run-down - Sugar is a drug.  We crave it because it used to make us naturally attracted to fruits - which are great for us!  Fruit is sweet, yet also contains fiber to help us slowly break down the fructose.  Plus, with fruit, we're limited to how much sugar we can consume - I mean, who can eat 10 oranges!?

So we took this natural craving for fruit and *&%^ed it all up.  Processing the crap out of sugar cane and putting it in everything.  And I mean everything - not just the usual suspects like soda, candy, cakes - you can find sugar in milks, breads, marinara sauces, and most things processed.

So you may be asking - okay, so what?  We're addicted to it - what harm can it do?  Well as you'll see in the segment, the data and studies show that sugar can promote and lead to cancer, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, etc.  And just like drugs, the more we consume, the more we crave, and the more we need to satisfy the craving.

It's a vicious cycle, just like begin addicted to heroin.  But at least with heroin, it's a quicker death.

So anyway, moral of the story is to try to wean yourself off of sugar.  I've been doing it slowly since January and it's NOT easy.  However, even in the past couple of months, I have noticed that my taste buds have changed - now, when I have something with sugar in it, it tastes WAY too sweet for me and I get a horrible headache!!

I opt to use honey or maple syrup, both of which still contain fructose, and should be used sparingly.  Or, I've used dates, bananas, or unsweetened applesauce, depending on the recipe.  Slowly but surely, you're taste buds will change and you can wean yourself off of sugar.

I know that holidays are special, and kids should be allowed to have fun - that's what childhood is all about, right!?  However, instead of loading your kids with sugary "treats," why not guide them into healthy habits and give them treats that aren't so centered on sugar?

So return all that sugary junk you got for their Easter baskets (except for the Peeps! For, you know, exploding in the microwave).  Here are some ideas for an Easter Basket that isn't completely loaded with sugar, but still loaded with fun!

  • Easter egg-shaped sidewalk chalk
  • Mini carrots (eat like the Easter bunny!)
  • Plastic Easter eggs filled with Raw Brownie Bites or Macaroons (recipes below)!
  • Plastic eggs filled with Fast No-Bake Cookies!
  • Silly Putty
  • Travel-size games
  • Plastic eggs with money (I'll take that basket too!)
  • Fun Easter cr*p from Michael's (they have a ton of little basket stuffers!)
  • Just a few fruit and vegetable juice colored jelly beans (I found some great ones at Trader Joe's!)

So all this talk about how bad sugar was for you, made me crave something sweet!  So I found this awesome recipe for easy Macaroon cookies!  No sugar - just a little maple syrup.

Easter and spring always make me crave coconut - and seriously, I could eat that stuff right out of the bag!  I know coconut is one of those you-either-love-it-or-you-hate-it foods, but I happen to LOVE IT.  I think it's genetic because my mom could probably eat a cardboard box if it was covered in coconut....

This recipe was ridiculously easy, and so delicious.  The hardest part was waiting for them to cool!

I also included my Raw Brownie recipe - with no sugar and 4 ingredients, this recipe is equally as easy and so, so yummy!  Like I mentioned above, these would be great stuffed into plastic eggs as a healthy and yummy treat!

Now go make these, and explode some Peeps in the microwave (you know you want to).....

Love & Kale,
Ali


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Macaroons
Makes: About 20-25 cookies
Original recipe from Oh She Glows.

Ingredients:
  • 2 2/3 cups shredded unsweetened coconut (to make coconut butter)
  • 2 additional cups shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup (I didn't use quite this much)
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp pure almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Instructions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 300F and line a baking sheet with a non-stick mat or parchment.
     
  2. In a food processor, process the 2 2/3 cups of coconut for about 5-8 minutes until coconut butter forms. You will have to keep scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Once you have made the coconut butter, mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
  4. Scoop about 1-2 tbsp of dough onto a baking sheet (you don’t have to leave much room in between as they do not spread out).  Bake for about 20 minutes, watching closely, until they bottoms are golden brown.
  5. Allow the macaroons to sit for 20 minutes so they can firm up.  If you do not do this, the macaroons will crumble, so this step is crucial - and tortuous!!  Store in the fridge for up to 5 days in a sealed container.
Ingredients - that's it!

Make your coconut butter

It should look smooth and creamy

Meanwhile, combine all the other ingredients

Add the coconut butter to make your dough

Form into small cookies - you may have to squeeze them to get them to stay together!

Finished macaroons - so delicious!  The hardest part of this recipe was waiting for them to cool!

Pretty Easter macaroon!

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Raw Brownie Bites
Makes:  A couple dozen or so
I make these brownies often - because they're moist, chewy, and you can actually eat the batter without getting salmonella.  Plus, with only 4 ingredients, this recipe couldn't get easier.  You can either make them into brownie squares, or roll into bite-sized balls!  Plus, you could add in some mini chocolate chips for fun, like I did :)

Print here.

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 2 cups pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Optional:  A handful of dark chocolate chips
Instructions:
  1. Throw everything in the food processor and let it go!  If using chocolate chips, mix them in at the end.
  2. When the dough has been formed, either roll into bite-sized balls, or press the dough into a square baking pan.  Freeze for about 20 min, then slice into brownie shapes.
  3. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  ENJOY!
Ingredients - that's it!

Put it all in the food processor and let her rip!

Yummy brownie dough that you can feel good about eating :)

Form into little cute balls and I dare you not to eat the whole batch!!

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