I’ve been itching to revisit this blog, and now that I’m on Christmas holidays I have the perfect festive recipe for you all. I love cooking with a bit of a challenge, such as trying to find healthier alternatives to all the not-so healthy Christmas foods. Let’s face it, this time of year can be treacherous for those with a sweet tooth… Mince pies, gingerbread men, chocolates, panettonne, to name just a few of the goods on offer. So I like to make lighter versions of the Christmas treats that won’t make you feel heavy and will allow you to truly enjoy Christmas for what it should be about: joyful time with family and friends.
You can already get gluten/dairy free mince pies, christmas pudding, chocolate, cookies etc. quite easily, but these can be pretty processed, high in sugar and expensive. Why not have some fun baking your own goodies and saving money in the process.
You know those health bars and raw ‘power balls’ you can buy made with dates/dried fruits and nuts smooshed together? These are basically that. But a little less sweet (most have way too many dates I find) and with added Christmas flavours such as cloves and orange. These are also really quick (no baking!) and easy to make (great to get kids involved), and you can either roll them into balls (better for transportation) or roll out the mixture like cookie dough and cut out using festive cookie cutters. I recommend mini cookie cutters and rolling out quite thick (no less than 0.5cm) as the mixture is quite soft. Do remember that dried fruits are high in sugar but with all the nuts inside, they are quite satisfying and will slow down the sugar hit.
No-bake Christmas Bites – Gluten & Grain free, Vegan, Refined Sugar free.
Makes a large batch = about 30 balls weighing 26g each or lots of little cookie shapes.
- 150g medjool dates, stones removed (the fat soft ones)
- 150g soft ‘ready-to-eat’ dried figs
- 130g (1/2 cup) plain almond butter (raw or roasted it’s up to you)
- 300g raw almonds
- 4 tbsp ground flaxseed
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 tsp pure ground vanilla (try steenbergs or use a vanilla pod)
- 1 tsp orange essence (or to taste deepening on concentration of orange, I use the steenbergs one)
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
optional: goji berries to decorate
- Place the dates, figs and almond butter into the food processor (the small bowl) and whizz to a thick sticky paste. Set aside.
- Place the almonds into the food processor (the large bowl, or use one bowl for the whole job), and blend until the almonds are finely chopped/coarsely ground. Add the vanilla, orange essence and cloves and pulse once to combine.
- Add the sticky paste to the almonds along with the flaxseed and 2 tbsp of water to help it stick together. Pulse until fully combined.
- Shaping the mixture:
- To form balls: Take small chunks of the mixture and roll in your palms to form balls. I like to weigh each one out at 26g (I’m a bit of a perfectionist…)
- To make little shapes: Chill the dough in the fridge until cool and firm (I had mine for hours, but 1/2 hour might do the trick?). Shape the mixture into a large bowl and place on a smooth clean surface. Cover with a layer of cling film and roll out 0.5-1mm thick. Cut out shapes using miniature cookie cutters and carefully set aside. Leave plain or decorate with goji berries.
- Store in the fridge to stay firm. Enjoy!