Chocolate Hazelnut Squares

Chocolate Hazelnut SquaresThis week has been a funny week for me. The new company I work for offers extended health & dental benefits as well as critical illness benefits as an additional coverage. When I started I thought “What the hell? Might as well apply for the it – I know how shit can happen”. Well, I received a letter from the benefit company stating that I was denied all critical illness coverage because – you guessed it – I had cancer.   Chocolate Hazelnut SquaresDoesn’t matter that it has been 11 years since I had it, or that I practice a healthy life style, eat all my vegetables, drink several litres of water a day, exercise daily. Nope. None of that shit matters. Because all they see in bright red lights as they read my application was ” CANCER, CANCER, CANCER” screaming at them (my hands and arms are of course flay-ling right now to describe this).

At first I was annoyed that I was denied all critical illness coverage (this includes about 40 different types of illnesses other than cancer like heart conditions). But then, I thought about it. Instead of getting mad that I was never going to get this coverage, I thought  – what if I invest that monthly fee differently? Either I invest the money into more organic, healing produce OR I invest it into my retirement plan when I will be living even longer then the people who denied me  my application? I decided to go with the later. Because let’s be honest, only 10% of all cancers are genetic – the rest happen due to life style choices, environmental pollutions or toxins that people have been exposed to. If I am making a daily effort to live an honest, clean eating, balanced lifestyle then I am already making more of an effort to sustain my life. And the truth is, none of us know what’s to come. Maybe my conscious efforts will work, maybe they won’t. But at least I can say I tried. At least I took the time to invest in my health, my mental well-being and my future of living to 100. And that, makes me smile. :)

Chocolate Hazelnut Squares

Chocolate Hazelnut Squares
 
Chocolate pudding layered on top of a hazelnut chocolate crust.
Ingredients
  • CRUST
  • 20 pitted dates, soaked in water for 15mins
  • 1¾ cups raw hazelnuts
  • ⅔ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ cup gluten free flour blend (I used TJ's brand)
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, softened
  • PUDDING
  • 2 tbsp arrowroot powder
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9.5 x 13.5 glass pan with a little coconut oil. Set aside.
  2. In a food processor on an 'S' blade, grind up nuts until a grain-like consistency. Place in bowl and set aside.
  3. Next, place soaked dates into food processor and blend until a paste-like texture. Dump in bowl with nuts.
  4. Add all other ingredients to bowl and mix until mixture takes on a dough-like shape. Spread into glass baking pan and spread evenly. Press the dough firmly into the pan, using the bottom of a glass if necessary to make it level. Bake for 10 - 15mins. When baked, set aside to cool.
  5. In the meantime, start your pudding. Place your arrowroot powder and a couple tablespoons of almond milk in a bowl and mix together until there are no lumps. Set aside.
  6. Take remaining ingredients and place in a small sauce pan. Heat on medium low heat and continue to stir until well blended/melted.
  7. Add the arrowroot mixture and continue to stir continuously. Once mixture begins to thicken quickly transfer to spread on top of the hazelnut crust. Smooth out fast before pudding begins to set. Place in fridge to cool for several hours or overnight.
  8. When ready to serve, add chopped hazelnuts & grated dark chocolate. Cut into squares and devour!

 

Pistachio Nanaimo Bars: A St. Patty’s Day Surprise (Vegan & Gluten-Free)

Ok friends, in my last post I mentioned I was going to share with you a few new ways to make your food more nutrient dense and kid friendly so you can feel good about eating it and serving it to your family. Now, don’t be scared. No, seriously, don’t because this recipe may have vegetables in it but you would never know. SERIOUSLY! YOU WOULD NEVER KNOW! Sorry, don’t mean to yell at you but I’m so excited! This is one tasty Nanaimo bar treat! And there are two cups of raw spinach in it.

Pistachio Nanaimo Bars with Spinach

Yup, you heard me right. Two cups of raw spinach. Now, I don’t normally “hide” vegetables in our every day meals because I want my kids to know what they are eating. My kids eat a lot of veggies but for some reason I cannot get  Little Q to eat dark leafy greens unless pulverized in my Kale Smoothie or baked into a Kale Chip. I think it is a texture thing and I know I am not the only mom who has this problem. Now, I have one more recipe up my sleeve that gets a little more greens into the diet! MUAHAHAHAHA

Pistachio Nanaimo Bars with Spinach

Enter from stage right these divine Pistachio Nanaimo Bars! These bars are based off my first vegan, gluten-free Nanaimo bar recipe which I make a Christmas time.  The original version is mint flavour, which you can certainly do here in place of the vanilla for the middle layer, I just wanted to make something different then what I had done before. What I like about this version is I decided not to bake the bottom layer (mainly because I have become more lazy now that I am a mother of two) and they turned out just as good if not better than the original! Seriously, you need to make these and use St. Patty’s Day as an excuse – that’s what I did! Who knows, I may just start throwing spinach into random things just to see how it turns out!

Pistachio Nanaimo Bars with Spinach

Pistachio Nanaimo Bars (Vegan & Gluten-Free)

Lightly adapted from my original Vegan Gluten-Free Nanaimo Bar recipe.

BOTTOM LAYER

1/2 cup raw pistachios, shells taken off and roughly chopped

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup brown rice flour

3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

2 tbsp tapioca starch

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1/3 cup coconut oil

2 tbsp chia seeds soaked in 1/2 cup water for 5mins

Line an 8″ x 8″ pan with parchment paper. Mix above ingredients in one bowl until well blended. Press the mixture into the bottom of the lined pan into an even layer using the back of a spoon to ensure that the mixture is well compressed. Set aside while you make the remaining layers.

MIDDLE FILLING

1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for a minimum 3 hrs

2 cups loosely packed raw spinach (I used organic baby spinach)

2 tsp vanilla (if choosing mint flavour instead, omit vanilla & substitute 1/2 tsp pure peppermint extract)

2 tbsp coconut sugar

1/2 cup water (approx.)

Place filling ingredients in food processor with the ‘S’ blade and blend until smooth and creamy adding more water if necessary to attain this texture. Pour evenly over bottom layer and set aside.

TOP LAYER

For best results use Cara’s Raw Chocolate Bars recipe from Fork and Beans

1/2 cup coconut oil

6 heaping tbsp cocoa powder

4 tbsp maple syrup

pinch of sea salt

Heat in small saucepan over low heat and pour over middle filling once all ingredients have melted together. Set aside and let cool in fridge slightly before scoring the bars then put back into fridge to fully set. When set, cut bars into squares and serve. Keep in fridge for 1 week. Enjoy this healthy treat!