Protein-Packed Walnut-Date Squares
Now that you know how to make your own chocolate, and see how simple and delicious home made healthy versions of your favourite sweets can be, why not move onto the next level and also create homemade desserts? The following recipe combines the idea of cakes, pie crusts, and homemade chocolate all together in one easy to make a healthy treat with many additional benefits. This walnut-date squares recipe is suitable for vegans as well, and depending on what type of cacao powder you end up using, it can also be considered raw. Packed with protein, anti-oxidants, calcium, Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs), and fibre, this is a perfect dessert to enjoy anytime, and as a result of its incredible taste, no one will be able to suspect it is actually good for you!
All you need for this recipe are walnuts (can also use almonds instead), dates, sea salt, cacao powder (if you can find a raw one you can use that), sesame seeds, and as always, there can be a few additional add-ons you can pick and choose from to customize and personalize this dessert, and also have options for variety! The appliance that would be ideal in this case would be a food processor.
The benefit of making your own dessert is of course knowing what is going into it, with ingredients you can actually pronounce as well as trust, and being able to add healthy components so that having a sweet tooth craving doesn’t have to always equate to having a guilt trip or automatically equal some notion of “cheating”. The idea is not so much to remove things that are sweet from your daily intake, but rather, to offer options that are not full of processed ingredients, and actually offer some sort of health benefits.
To begin, you simply start with your walnuts and food processor. If you buy your walnuts with their shells intact, just put on some music and begin cracking! If you buy your walnuts with the shell removed, always make sure they have not gone rancid, since they do contain Essential Fatty Acids, which are sensitive to both heat and light, and you can usually tell simply by tasting them. If the walnuts have a bitter taste and that taste lingers, they are most likely already rancid. They should have a light, pleasant, and nutty flavour to them, rather than bitter. You can keep walnuts that have been removed from their shells in a bag in your freezer so they last longer and remain fresh. Once you have your walnuts ready, take about one cup (can adjust these portions to make more or less), and put them into your food processor. Begin processing them until they become a coarse flour type consistency, but they do not need to be too fine.
Next you can add some sea salt to the mix. You can adjust to your taste bud preference, but usually about 1/8th of a teaspoon does the job! Do a quick grind with the salt to distribute it and then you can move on to the next part. Dates are excellent for sugar or sweet replacements. When they are good quality and fresh, they can melt in your mouth and are extremely sweet, so they are able to satisfy even the strongest sugar cravings. They also contain fibre, which helps to regulate our blood sugar levels and will prevent any symptoms of sugar spikes and crashes—most notably headaches, fatigue, irritability, moodiness, and so on. You simply need to pit the dates and make sure you discard all of the seeds as they can damage your food processor, and you can either add them in their halves or as a whole to your walnut and salt mix. The amount needed will depend on how fresh they are, as we are aiming to have the dates serve not only as a sweetener, but also as the “glue” that will hold all the dry ingredients together. Process all these ingredients together and add more until there is a slightly sticky consistency being created.
Next you can add cacao powder to the mix. It is always best to start with small amounts, process it, try the mixture, and then you can add more if needed or wanted, rather than beginning with a large amount and not being able to remove any. Add the sesame seeds next, and you can add one or two heaping tablespoons. Among their other nutritional benefits, one you may not realize is that sesame seeds are actually great sources of calcium! The only problem is that people tend to chew their food so quickly and not very thoroughly, and since sesame seeds are so small, they simply are not being broken down and digested properly when not chewed well enough initially. So this dessert also serves as a good reminder to chew your food thoroughly!
Before this recipe is complete, there are of course some optional add-ons you can add to either this mixture as flavour enhancers, or on top simply as a decoration. You can add cinnamon powder or coconut flakes for the taste, flax seed powder for the additional fibre and EFAs, and any other spice you prefer, or fresh berries such as raspberry or blackberry. If you opt for berries, just make sure to add them gradually to make sure the liquid released does not completely change the consistency, as we need it to remain sticky enough to mold it!
Once you have processed all of these ingredients together, simply put the contents into a pan of any shape, and in terms of size you can use either kind and make this dessert thin or thick. Flatten it out into the pan. Add any additional decorative add-ons now, cut your squares into the mold while it is very soft, and simply keep it (with a lid) in the fridge or freezer. You can enjoy a square with your morning tea, as an afternoon snack, or as an evening treat!
This dessert contains protein, EFAs, calcium, anti-oxidants, and fibre, is both vegan and potentially raw, and nothing you can buy pre-made or packaged can compete with that!
Photo couretsy of thetravelingchamelian.blogspot.com