Have a good Friday everyone! My morning is to try to fix the havoc the boys have wrecked on our Christmas Tree. Oh yay. It is apparently a “fun tree”.
Complied from posts on my TrailCooking blog, these are some of the treats I take hiking with me when Alistaire isn’t along – on those occasions when I can enjoy the foods he is allergic to!
- 2 cups Medjool dates, pitted (measured packed)
- 1 cup Shredded Coconut Unsweetened
- 1 cup slivered almonds
- 6 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp pure almond extract
- ¼ cup unsweetened coconut
- ¼ cup slivered almonds
Add the dates and almonds in a food processor, process until fine crumbs. Add in cocoa powder, work in. Pulse in almond extract. Add water in, as needed, running on high, until the mixture comes together as a solid ball, this will depend on your dates. Medjool from Costco, in the produce section, are usually quite moist. I needed about 2 Tablespoons water, yours may need more.
Run the coconut and almonds for rolling in a mini food chopper, or break up in the food processor before making the balls. Spread on a large rimmed plate.
Make 1 Tablespoon balls, roll smooth in your hands and set on a piece of parchment paper until all are done (a 1 Tablespoon Disher helps). Roll the balls in the nut mixture, pressing in gently. Set on a large plate, chill for an hour before packing away. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until eating time.
Makes about 24 balls.
You can use juice instead of the water, or even alcohol, for an adult take.
Cherry Almond Bars
- 1 cup Dried Cherries, plus more for topping
- ½ cup Medjool dates, pitted (about 8)
- 1 cup slivered almonds, plus more for rolling
- 1 tsp pure almond extract
- Pinch fine sea salt
Grind the cherries and dates together till smooth in a food processor. Add in almonds, process until chunky, add almond extract and salt, process until smooth (it will ball up).
Flatten between sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap, cut into desired shapes, or make balls instead.
Crumble up some more slivered almonds, roll bars or balls in them. Press additional cherries on top.
To make the “cookie” shapes, roll balls in the almonds, place a cherry on top and gently flatten with thumb.
Store tightly covered in refrigerator till trail time. Carry wrapped or in a small container.
The cherries I use do not have sulfites, look for naturally dried cherries. Medjool dates are sold in the produce section. Costco carries them at a good price. Same with the slivered almonds, look at Costco or Trader Joe’s for best prices.
Halva (Halwa) is often a very sugary treat that can be made many ways but is often based on sesame/honey and a boiled syrup (think candy making). Which while delicious isn’t something I can justify in our current way of eating. But I got inspired that maybe I could make a bar treat that was inspired by it but remain less processed.
I played with it and made a mostly raw batch, cut into bars. I also opted in for brown sesame seeds rather than the more common white hulled seeds. It gives a deep robust flavor, especially when paired with maple syrup. Use what you prefer, if you are not used to whole sesame seeds I recommend going with white (also sold as ‘raw’). And should you love really robust, try finding black sesame seeds. They have an amazing flavor (black sesame oil is a real treat!)
And feel free to play with the sweetener, use what you like as well. Raw honey is the traditional choice.
Pistachio Halva Bars
- 2 cups brown sesame seeds or hulled white sesame seeds
- ½ cup pure maple syrup or raw honey
- ¼ cup shelled pistachio nuts, finely chopped (roasted or not, salted or plain)
- ¼ tsp fine sea salt
- ¼ tsp or to taste ground cinnamon
Grind the sesame seeds to a flour-like texture in a spice or coffee grinder.
You need your grinder to be clean. Grind through it a handful of raw rice and dump out, the rice removes the scent left behind from spices.
Why a spice or coffee grinder and not a high-powered device such as a Vitamix blender? Simply put, sesame seeds are over 50% oil. They will turn to a butter before you know it. And more so, the more powerful the device, the higher the heat output. And that means the seeds will warm up.
Grind a small amount, dump into a large mixing bowl, then grind a bit more, and repeat. A couple of tablespoons is plenty.
If your grinder gets heated up , stop and let it cool. You want flour, not sesame butter.
Once done, stir in half the maple syrup, salt and cinnamon. For ease put on a pair of food grade gloves and mix with fingers. Keep adding teh maple syrup, until the mixture sticks together, and is as sweet as you desire.
Line a bread pan with plastic wrap, pack the mixture in, smooth out and wrap the excess plastic over. Press down firmly to pack.
Refrigerate for a couple of hours, unwrap and cut into bars. Wrap each bar tightly, store in the refrigerator until trail time.
Due to the high fat content, these bars carry best in the cooler months. They can also be rolled into balls and flattened into “cookies” and wrapped.