Sunday, 24 June 2012

Raw cacao, fruit & nut treat balls

These Raw Cacao bean & goji berry treat balls are the first recipe that I ever developed in my Thermomix and posted to the Thermomix Australia Recipe Community. Since then, I have had some lovely positive feedback on the forum. Being as life is a little busy at the moment and is unfortunately holding me back from 'playing' with my Thermomix (other than making my regular recipes of course)  . . .  I thought I'd post this recipe as a quick and easy one this week.

Since making these tasty and nutritious raw 'superfood' cacao morsels, I have tried a number of variations . . I now find myself adding fresh coconut and dates which I always have in my fridge to make my CADA+Pear breakfast. These ingredients really help to make the balls moist and fudgy without needing to add honey to help the ingredients glue. 

Not only is this the healthiest way to get your chocolate fix, it is also the healthiest way to eat nuts and seeds, especially if you are able to source certified organic. For even more nutrition, use activated nuts or soak and dry your own at the lowest temp in your oven or in a dehydrator. 

There a three basic recipes below with variation ideas summed up at the bottom. I have to tell you that they are child-friendly too, my girls love these as an after school snack . . . I love them as a healthy pick-me-up anytime of day :)

Raw Cacao bean & goji berry treat balls 
These balls are a healthy way to satisfy a chocolate craving with considerably less guilt! They are packed full of antioxidants, dietary fibre, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. Enjoy!

Original recipe - still a favourite!
70 g raw almonds (or cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts etc. OR 50g nuts + 20g chia / flaxseeds)
70 g raw cacao beans or nibs
45 g organic goji berries (Chinese wolfberry)
45 g dates (or use half dates & half dried apricots)
2 tsp extra virgin coconut oil
1 tbsp raw honey or your choice of syrup
1 tsp vanilla bean paste 

  1. Add raw cacao beans and raw almonds (+ seeds) to the TM bowl and grind into a fine powder on speed 9 for about 10 seconds.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients and mix on speed 8 for about 30 seconds until the mixture is finely ground, comes together well and is able to be shaped into balls.
  3. Shape into approximately 15 balls. Store in the refrigerator.

Fudgy version (using fresh coconut & medjool dates)

'fudgy' treat balls with fresh coconut & fresh date 

40g raw almonds
30g raw cashews
80 g raw cacao beans or nibs
50g fresh coconut
75g (or 7) fresh medjool dates
40g goji berries
10-20g raw cacao powder (optional) - for a richer chocolate flavour
1 tsp vanilla bean paste 

  1. Add raw almonds, cashews and cacao beans to the TM bowl and grind into a fine powder on speed 9 for 10-20 seconds. Decant.
  2. Add fresh coconut to the TM bowl and grind on speed 9 for 20 seconds. 
  3. Add all remaining ingredients to the bowl with the ground nuts and cacao beans and mix on speed 8 for about 30 seconds or until the mixture is finely chopped and comes together well. Roll into small bowls. Makes about 16. Keep in the refrigerator.
For a richer, darker, chocolate flavour, add the 10-20g raw cacao powder which has a more concentrated chocolate flavour than the whole cacao beans. 

Quick choc-mint fix treat balls 
August 2012 - My girls requested these non-stop over the July school holidays on our recent trip home to Australia. Great if you don't have raw cacao beans or nibs on hand. Stick to the basic recipe or mix up to your preference. If you don't have the seeds add more nuts. 

20g flaxseeds (linseeds) or chia
80g raw walnuts (or a mix of your fave nuts)
100g fresh dates, pitted
100g mixed dried fruit (e.g. blueberries, sultanas, cherry, goji or more dates)
4 tbsp raw cacao
5 drops peppermint oil
1 tsp vanilla paste (optional)

  1. Add seeds and nuts to the TM bowl and grind into a fine powder on speed 9 for about 30 seconds.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients and mix on speed 8 for about 30 seconds until the mixture comes together well and is able to be shaped into balls.
  3. Shape into approximately 15 balls. Store in the refrigerator.

variations ideas for all treat balls
  • You can use any mix of raw nuts and seeds. Try all seeds for nut-free treat balls.
  • I am a big fan of dates and goji berries, but you can use any mix of dried fruit, e.g. apricots, sultanas, raisins, blueberries, cranberries . . . . sometimes I just use fresh dates.
  • Add peppermint oil or fresh orange zest for a little more interest. 
  • Make them into raw energy bars!
  • Roll in coconut . . . .!

no thermomix?
Try using your food processor! 

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Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Healthy-ish cacao cupcakes

June is always a crazy month here in Hong Kong. School breaks up for the year at the end of this month . . . so being a teacher I'm busy writing reports, marking assessments etc. Plus every weekend in June (and most weeknights too) seem to be booked up with something social in an effort to cram things in before everyone takes off for our Summer holidays over July-August. . . .just over two weeks to go yay! What I'm secretly looking forward to is more Thermomix 'play' time, as well as quality family time of course! :)

Last weekend . . the first weekend I have neglected to post a recipe on my blog so far :( . . . both our girls were involved in performing for their end of year dance shows over two days! Lucky for mummy (not) they were in two different shows, so I was busy getting them to their rehearsal (1hr away by bus, ferry & taxi - such is HK life without a car) and then hanging out til they performed hours later two days in a row! . . . So needless to say it was a long weekend and they needed something nutritious (and fun to eat) to help them (& mummy) last the distance. . . that's where my chocolate cupcakes (or muffins) come in!  My girls adore cupcakes, as does any child really, so I thought I'd use this as an excuse to have a play and develop a healthy-ish version of their chocolate favourite! BTW my girls delighted us with their performances as we knew they would, so all the effort was well worth it. I just have to share this photo of Miss 8 with you . . my elegant ballerina performing to Swan Lake :)
I must say that I am no stranger to formulating healthier versions of this chocolate treat! I have cleverly disguised spinach & carrot inside a chocolate cupcake/muffin in the past, but this time I thought I'd not go quite as far and settle for making them something which is healthier than the standard recipe, but not quite as adventurous as earlier versions :)

The 'Baci' inspired healthy 'buttercream' (or nut-buttercream) or frosting . . call it what you like! . . actually started out as my experiment for a raw ice-cream which is reminiscent of a soft-serve in texture. . . velvety and smooth. . I fell in love instantly! Frozen banana is a very common ingredient in raw ice-cream, but blend it with raw cacao and ground hazelnuts and it is divine! I'm not a huge fan of the banana flavour, so the addition of these flavourings effectively camouflages this taste for me :) You have to try it!  Of course, the frosting doesn't travel well, especially sitting around all day in 36 degree heat! So I did save it for the leftover cupcakes we finished off at home.

And here is the recipe . .
Healthy-ish cacao cupcakes
These cupcakes are rich, dark, moist and fluffy and considerably healthier than most conventional chocolate cupcakes or muffins with about half the fat and sugar. The topping is so healthy it doesn't count :) . . . it's made from banana, hazelnuts and antioxidant-loaded raw cacao . . . 

2 small apples, peeled & quartered
3 fresh meijool dates
1 tbsp water
1 large egg
50g organic extra virgin macadamia or avocado oil 
70g natural yoghurt
80g coconut milk 
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or liquid extract)
150g organic white spelt flour
20g organic brown basmati rice flour (mill first in your Thermomix)
50g organic raw cacao powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarb soda
70-80g organic sucanat (rapadura) sugar (+ 1 tsp stevia powder - optional)
optional: add choc chips to the batter

'Baci' inspired choc-hazelnut frosting:
50g hazelnuts
120g frozen banana pieces
4 fresh meijool dates
1 tbsp raw cacao powder
1 tsp vanilla paste

  1. Preheat oven to 170°C. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with cupcake liners.
  2. First cook (stew) the apples & dates to make your own apple sauce which works well as a fat replacer, plus the dates add some natural sweetness. Add the apple and dates to the TM bowl. Chop finely on speed 4 for 10 seconds and scrape the sides. Add 1 tbsp water and cook at 100°C for 10 minutes on reverse, speed soft. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Add egg, oil, yoghurt, vanilla and coconut milk to the TM bowl. Mix on speed 3 for 10 seconds or until well combined.
  4. Add cacao powder, spelt flour, baking powder, bicarb soda, rice flour and sucanat and mix until just combined on speed 5 (it is important that you do not over-mix).
  5. Spoon the batter evenly into cupcake liners and bake for about 12-14 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes in the pan before transferring to a wire rack. Now wash your TM bowl ready to make the frosting / healthy 'buttercream' !
For the healthy frosting: place the hazelnuts in the TM bowl and grind on speed 9 for 1 minute. Add the frozen banana and dates and chop on speed 4 for 30 seconds. Add the raw cacao and vanilla and blend for 5-10 seconds or until smooth and light on speed 6. 

Spoon the frosting into a disposable piping bag and attach your tip of choice! This frosting keeps well in the fridge for up to 5 days. It is a good idea to store the frosting in the bag and pipe it onto the cupcakes just prior to serving. Enjoy!

  • If you have a sweet tooth, you might like to add stevia or use extra sucanat. Personally, I love the rich, dark chocolate flavour, but your children are likely to prefer a little more sweetness.
  • Add 1/2 cup chocolate chips for a little more fun! Combine on reverse or using the spatula at the last step.
  • You could use coconut oil instead of macadamia oil, but it does tend to give the cupcake a coconut flavour because the recipe also includes coconut milk. If you want to use coconut oil, perhaps swap the coconut milk for another plant-based milk or more yoghurt.

no thermomix?
make recipe as per your usual method for muffins/ cupcakes. . . mix all the dry ingredients first in a large bowl, then in a separate bowl or jug whisk the liquid ingredients together, and then add to the dry ingredients. This is the two-bowl method. Mix only briefly by hand or using an electric mixer until just combined. If you over-mix your cupcakes/ muffins they will be tough and heavy. Of course, you will have to stew up the apples and dates in a saucepan or in the microwave and blend to a puree first. 

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Friday, 1 June 2012

Thermomix does breakfast

As I've mentioned before on this blog . . .I have always been one of those unusual people who really enjoys a good, healthy start to the day and have never understood how anyone could skip this important meal. My motto is that regardless of how busy you are, you should always make time for a nutritious breakfast. If you're a busy person, you are probably most in need of this healthy start to your day!

I love to 'mix it up' for brekky . . . which has a double-meaning in my case, because I have a growing repertoire of breakfast ideas to choose from, and of course love to employ my Thermo'mix' to make them :-)  I go through phases of enjoying either my homemade, nutrient-packed, carrot, seed, nut & fruit loaf smothered in ripe avocado, CADA+P (fresh coconut, almonds, dates, apple + pear) turbo pulsed a couple of times in the Thermomix and served with a dollop of yoghurt, or my healthy version of traditional Swiss breakfast. 

We also enjoy our favourite dairy-free 'Good morning' Thermomix smoothie (pictured left), which contains all the usual suspects . . . a combination of frozen berries and any fresh fruit I can get my hands on, with the addition of freshly ground flaxseeds and coconut water, (never let this go to waste when you cut open a fresh coconut for your CADA breakfast). Coconut water is a potent source of electrolytes, calcium, potassium and magnesium plus a variety of vitamins and antioxidants, especially the water from a young coconut . . the perfect sports drink really! I freeze it in ice cube trays and always add it to our smoothies. 

On weekends we often enjoy my banana, oat & spelt pancakes, and when I have the time to fuss a little, I like to whip up a batch of spelt crumpets . . . both recipes my girls adore.

Always looking out for, or thinking up my own healthy breakfast ideas, I recently developed these nutritious good-sized biscuits with brekky in mind. They are not only a healthy start to the day but also perfect for a brekky on the run or if you prefer, a mid-morning snack! So if you're one of those busy people I mentioned above who can't quite make the time for a nutritious breakfast, make these on the weekend and then there's no excuse not to start the day off well :-) 

Thank you Thermomix for your continued inspiration at breakfast time and for making it so easy to opt out of sugar-laden commercial cereals :)

Breakfast biscuits
makes 5 (serve 1 for breakfast)
These brekky biscuits are packed full of dietary fibre and sweetened with natural sugars contributed by the fruits and a little honey. They are also dairy-free and wheat-free.

20g brown basmati rice 
25g walnuts
40g dried apricots
20g dried goji berries (wolf berries)
3 fresh medjool dates
20g coconut oil
20-30g raw honey
1 large egg
25g shredded or desiccated coconut
90g wholegrain oats

  1. Preheat oven to 160 C (fan-forced). Line a baking tray with baking paper or silicon sheet.
  2. Place the brown rice into the TM bowl and grind for 40 seconds on speed 9. Decant into a bowl.
  3. Add the walnuts and chop using turbo pulse x 2. Set aside in the bowl with the rice flour.
  4. Add dried fruit and turbo pulse 2-3 times to your desired texture and set aside with the other ingredients. 
  5. Add coconut oil and melt for 1-2 minutes at 50 C on speed 1 until melted. Add the egg and honey and whisk for 10 seconds on speed 4. 
  6. Return all ingredients plus coconut and oats to the TM bowl. Mix on reverse speed 2 for 20 seconds or until the mixture begins comes together.
  7. Shape 3 tablespoons of the mixture into a ball. Place on the tray and press down until 7-8cm in diameter. Repeat with the remaining mixture.
mixture rolled into balls
press to 7-8cm diameter
    8. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool on the baking tray for 15 minutes,      
        then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

These biscuits will keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or wrap individually in plastic and place in a ziplock bag to freeze for up to 3 months. Incase you're wondering, the 5th biscuit was my test subject that's why it's missing from the photos ;-)


  • Use any combination of dried fruit of choice (I like to use dates & goji for their natural sweetness and health benefits)
  • Omit the walnuts and add a little extra flour to make these nut-free
  • Substitute a flax or chia-egg for the chicken egg to make these vegan 

no thermomix?
Use brown rice flour in place of the rice. Chop your fruit in a food processor (or by hand) and combine with all other ingredients using an electric mixer or wooden spoon :-)

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