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It’s been an interesting time for us here in California this winter.  Our little pre-schooler has caught honestly every flu bug that has been out there and of course, I have also been down with a flu twice already this season, yuch! I finally took him to the doctor this past week.

The good news, however, is that he is recovering.  The additional good news is that all these events have prompted me more than ever to cook really simple, whole foods at home to help with the healing process.  Most of that has been seasonal soups, stews and khichadis (an ayurvedic rice and lentil dish that is slowly simmered with spices and any other vegetables you may want to add).  (Recipes to come this week on Yogue).

It has been both an interesting and a really good time to eat simply.  I am savouring food that is both light yet nourishing and realising how eating like this makes more sense than ever during the holidays, when we are typically surrounded by so much rich food and flavours.

Have you ever asked yourself why the holidays are all about excess and the new year is all about detoxing from that excess?

How about moderation as a new habit over these holidays.  How about moderation so that you can actually enjoy and savour all the delicious treats – in small amounts – and feel good after?

One suggestion, eat simple foods at home so that you can savour a cookie or dessert at a holiday dinner; and remember that you will feel so much better if you save another helping for another night!

I’ve decided that holiday baking is not going to serve us this christmas, unless you count home made granola.  Instead, what I am whipping up are these super simple, healthy, superfood infused, not too sweet and might I say delicious Bliss Balls.  Here is the recipe.  They are as delicious as truffles and so good for you and I have to say, they definitely satiate my chocolate sweet tooth.

I hope that you enjoy them.

Happy Holidays and much warmth to you and yours.

Here is the recipe:

Holiday Bliss Balls

Basic Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup raw cacao
  • 1 cup raw organic walnuts, almonds or cashews (or a mixture)
  • 1/2 cup shredded organic coconut
  • 1/4 cup raw organic coconut oil (softened)
  • zest from 1 organic lemon
  • healthy pinch of sea salt
  • handful of mejdool dates (3 – 4) (or other soft dates) de-seeded and soaked for 15 minutes at least
  • 1 Raw Vanilla Bean scraped
  • 1 – 2 tbsp Almond Butter (raw is great)
  • 1 tbsp Chia Seeds (ground)
  • 1 – 2 tbsp Maca Powder

Optional Ingredients

  • pinch of Cinnamon Powder
  • pinch of Cardamom Powder
  • pinch of Cayenne Powder
  • pinch of Ginger Powder
  • Goji Berries
  • Lavender Seeds
  • Raw Cacao Nibs
  • Raw Honey

Chop the dates coarsely. Blend all the basic ingredients in a food processor until the mass reaches a smooth yet somewhat granular consistency – it is up to you to decide how much texture or bite you would like in the bliss balls, I prefer them with a bit of crunch! You may add some almond milk if the dough has become too thick and clumpy.  Scrape it out into a bowl or a plate – you will need a good spatula for this. Place a small amount of the bliss ball dough in the palm of your hand.  Roll it into a little ball.  Set aside a plate with a sprinkling of shredded coconut and roll the bliss ball in the flakes which will cover it to look like a snow dusted holiday treat.  Place on a plate and repeat.

Try a few different variations e.g. You could do Vanilla and Orange Zest, or you could do Lavender and Lemon, You could also do Ginger and Cinnamon, or Ginger and Cardamom, or just Lavender, the possibilities are endless.  You can also make these without the Cacao powder for non-cocoa Bliss Balls.  In that case, you might up the amount of vanilla that I suggest here and use only cashew nuts in the balls as they have a lovely delicate flavour that partners beautifully with vanilla.

For nutritional information on all the awesome superfood ingredients, here are some great insights from Navitas Naturals Superfoods. I love their raw cacao btw.

Raw Cacao Powder: Cacao is a great source of antioxidants, and it contains an abundance of magnesium and iron, as well as high amounts of calcium, zinc, copper, sulfur, and potassium.

Raw Cashew Nuts: provide an impressive profile of beneficial oils, including an ideal ratio of healthy saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats. They’re also a good source of plant-based protein, iron, and trace minerals.

Cardamom:  What’s not to love about this beautifully aromatic spice that is widely used in Ayurvedic cuisine.  It aids digestion, soothes the nervous system and has recently also been touted for it’s anti-cancer benefits.  I love this spice and it somehow finds its way into so much of my cooking!

Cayenne: minimizes inflammation, relieves pain, reduces blood cholesterol, acts as a decongestant, boosts the immune system, prevents stomach ulcers, lowers risk of Type 2 Diabetes.

Chia Powder: Enjoyed for centuries by ancient cultures throughout Central America as a food and medicine, the chia seed is an abundant source of omega fats, protein, antioxidants and dietary fiber.

Cinnamon: Another warming spice according to Ayurveda, Cinnamon aids digestion, relieves nausea, vomiting, diarrhea; has antiseptic properties; beneficial for the heart, lungs, and kidneys; aids insulin’s ability to metabolize blood sugar.

Dates: Rich in natural fibres, this superfood from the desert contains several vitamins and minerals including calcium, sulphur, ironpotassium,phosphorousmanganesecopper and magnesium. Dates help in balancing digesting, preventing intestinal disorders, provide stamina and sustenance.  Dates are not super low on the glycemic index but when combined with nuts or another protein do not provide a fast sugar rush.  I love using them as an alternative to sugar as they have such a rich and nourishing sweetness.

Goji Berries: A staple of Traditional Chinese Medicine for hundreds of years, Goji Berries are a surprisingly strong source of protein and contain a wealth of antioxidants and over 20 vitamins and minerals.

Ginger: aids digestion; decreases arthritic swelling; destroys bacteria and viruses; lowers blood pressure; aids circulation.

Maca: Maca is a root that has been grown for over 2,500 years high in the Peruvian Andes – it is in fact the highest-altitude crop on earth. The conditions in which maca grows are extremely harsh, and the plant needs to be incredibly resilient to survive and thrive. Although it resembles a large radish, maca is a member of the cruciferous family of plants (just like broccoli, cabbage, kale etc).

Maca is an “adaptogen” meaning it has the ability to balance and stabilize the body’s hormonal, nervous and cardiovascular systems. For this reason it is particularly effective for improving libido. Maca also has the ability to help us cope with stress, and stabilize our moods and energy.  Boasting 31 minerals and trace elements, maca is a nutritional powerhouse and a stress-relieving, healthy addition to many foods.

The flavour of maca is kind of malty and sweet. Some people taste vanilla and butterscotch as well, but most would agree that it is quite strong and can be overpowering if used frivolously. Start with small quantities, like one teaspoon, and work your way up to more. Remember that taking a little maca every day is better than taking a lot at one time once in a while.

Look for maca at health food stores and gourmet grocers, sold as the dried, powdered root. Make sure that the product you are purchasing is 100% root – not other parts of the plant. Store in a cool dry place. (This is a great description that really gets at the benefits of Maca and I took it from one of my favourite holistic cooking blogs: My New Roots).  

Vanilla Bean: Soothing and aromatic, the scent of vanilla alone can have a stress relieving response.  I love vanilla.

Do let me know how they turn out and if you have some pictures, i’d love to post them on the Yogue Facebook Page.  Namaste.