Recipe Review: Cauli-power Fettuccine “Alfredo”

As I breifly mentioned in my last post, I’ve made some changes to my diet, which include lowering my daily fat intake. So, when I saw Angela’s recipe for alfredo sauce made with cauliflower come through my in-box, I was all about it!

As luck would have it, Whole Foods had organic cauliflower on sale, so I picked up a couple of heads and Cauli-power Fettuccine Alfredo was moved to the top of the dinner menu.

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I’ve been using corn pasta, or a combo of corn and some other gluten-free grains, and I’ve been pretty happy with the outcome. The taste is good; the texture is good, and I don’t feel all vibratey after eating a big ol’ bowl of pasta like I do when I eat regular semolina pasta. So, for this recipe, I used the pasta I had in the pantry, which was a bag of rigatoncini. I figured that shape and style would work fine with this sauce because of the lines – and I was right. Woot!

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I was a little worried the sauce would come out watery because of my previous attempts at using cauliflower in sauces and soups. (Hello. How do people think mashed cauliflower tastes anything like my beloved mashed potatoes?!) But, surprise surprise, the sauce was super thick and creamy and delicious!

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I ended up adding a little extra nutritional yeast (because I always do), and I waited to add any salt until the individual servings. (I’m making a conscious effort to reduce my sodium intake.) I also skipped the sauteed onions (If you keep them in, please try sauteing them with water, not oil.) and just added granulated garlic and onion powder to the mix. And, I had plain soy milk open already, so I used that for the non-dairy milk. I think using a thicker non-dairy milk like soy or hemp is probably a good idea, although Angela used almond milk.

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I also added some broccoli to my dish. I just tossed in w/ the pasta as it cooked, and eight minutes later, they were both done. Yummy add for no extra work! (Well, except for the little bit of chopping required to get the broccoli florettes off their stems.)

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Other than those few tweaks, I followed the recipe exactly. I even  followed the suggested order of boiling the cauliflower first then making the sauce and letting it sit while I boiled the pasta and broccoli. After I drained the pasta/broccoli mix, I added it back to the hot pan on the still warm burner and poured in the sauce, stirred, and ate!

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I will definitely make this recipe again! One thing I will keep in mind, though, is the sauce really soaks into the pasta as it sits, so the next day, the pasta is a bit mushy, and the sauce is even more bland. I ground on a bit more salt and plowed through my next-day plate, but I kept wishing I’d added some fresh tomatoes or onions or something to brighten it up. (My husband thought adding a little bit of non-dairy milk might help revive things a bit, but I’d already eaten all of the left-overs before he suggested it. Ha!)

 

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Oatmeal Raisin Cookies – Overt Fat Free

I need to write a post about the current state of my diet, but long story short, I’ve gotten a handle on my moving + holiday eating frenzy and feel like I’m in a good place right now. Basically, I’m eating within a ration of 80% carbohydrates and 10% each fat and protein. And while my diet is high raw, it is not all raw, so it’s not the 80-10-10 of The 80-10-10 Diet – just the ratio.

Back to why we’re here today…I made cookies!

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Yup. Delicious, nutritious, overt-fat-free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies made with only four ingredients (five if you count the optional cinnamon) and sweetened only with fruit. 80-10-10 for the win!

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Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (Overt Fat Free)

2 c old fashioned oats

1/2 c super thick date paste

1 medium banana, mashed (about 1/4 c)

1/4-1/2 c raisins (soaked if dry)

1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

First, make date paste by blending soaked dates. Try not to use any of the date soaking water, so the paste is extra thick and sticky. Then, mash the banana using a fork (or pulse it in a mini-chopper). Don’t blend it because the liquid banana will add liquid to the dough.

Add oats and cinnamon to a bowl. Stir to combine. (Optional: Add a dash of salt.) Add mashed banana and date paste. Stir to combine. Add raisins. Stir to incorporate. [If  dough is too dry, add more date paste.]

Scoop dough onto a parchment or Paraflexx lined dehydrator tray. [I used an ice cream scooper.] Use the back of a spoon to flatter the cookies into desired thickness. Shape edges for prettier cookies (and so no little bits dry and fall off).

Dehydrate at 145F for about 30 minutes to quick set the cookies. Reduce heat and continue to dry at 110F for about 60 minutes. Flip cookies and continue to dry for 60-90 more minutes.

Makes 10 cookies at about 160 calories and 1.5 grams of fat each.

NOTES:

EFA’s: If your diet is a little low on EFA’s (essential fatty acids 3-6-9), try adding a flax “egg” (1 TBSP flax meal + 1-2 TBSP water). You might need to cut back on the date paste if you.

Baking: If you don’t have a dehydrator or don’t feel like using one, you can try baking the cookies. Try a low oven of around 200F and check on the cookies every 5 minutes. I’m guessing it will take somewhere between 5-10 minutes to dry out the cookies. (Be careful; without fat, these cookies will go from not-quite-done to burnt in the blink of an eye.)

Storage: Completely cool the cookies and store in an air tight container. You can probably store these outside of the frig, but I like to keep all of my goodies in the frig. [Remember, glass will help keep baked goods crispy, and plastic will help keep them soft. So, store according to texture preference.]

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Low Fat Raw Vegan Strawberry Cake

Ok. This isn’t really a cake. But is is low fat. And it is vegan. And it does contain strawberries. Lots of strawberries. Yum!

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Low-Fat Raw Vegan Strawberry Cake

1 c (heaping) dried dates, pitted

1 c (heaping) dried figs, stemmed

1 1/2 quarts (about 3 cups) sliced strawberries

1/2 lemon, juiced

1/4 c coconut/palm sugar (optional)

Prep dates by removing  pits, if needed. Prep figs by removing stems. Roughly chop both and place into a food processor. Add juice of half a lemon. Process until pasty. (Mix may begin to form a ball; that’s ok!) Remove date/fig mix from processor and press into a small cake, brownie or pie pan. (Two mini tart pans would probably work too.)

Prep strawberries by washing and stemming all of them. Slice about half of the strawberries into thin slices and place them in a bowl. Top the sliced berries with coconut sugar (or other sweetener), if using. Set aside and allow to macerate for at least 30 minutes. Place the remaining berries in a food processor and pulse until berries become a chunky paste. 

Place processed berries on top of date/fig mix in pan. Refrigerate while remaining berries are macerating – about 30 minutes. Remove from refrigerator and top with sliced berries. Return to refrigerator overnight for a more ‘cake’ like texture.

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Notes:

  • This dessert is surprisingly cake like after it sits overnight in the fridge. If you want to cut and serve as a cake, consider doubling the amount of dates/figs.
  • If adding fat is an option, process some shredded coconut or almonds/almond meal with the dates/figs. This will also make the base layer more cake like, and it will allow for cutting and removal of cake pieces from the pan.
  • For a more gel-like middle layer, add chia seeds to the processed berries.
  • My strawberries were very sour. (Strawberry season hasn’t hit my part of the country yet.) If yours are too, you may want to add sweetener to the processed berries as well. Remember, however, the sugar from the macerated berries on top will soak through to the processed layer as the cake sits.
  • For a sugar free cake, use a non-nutritive sweetener like stevia to macerate the berries.
  • If strawberries aren’t your thing, try a different berry or fruit. Blueberries naturally have an abundance of fruit pectin and will naturally gel on their own after they’re processed. If you make a blueberry cake, expect the middle layer to be much more gel-like than the strawberry cake. (Cherries would also make a delicious cake!)

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I love this recipe because it’s 80-10-10 friendly, and it fit nicely into my month of raw challenge. If you’re interested in incorporating more raw foods into your diet, join us for the Raw Fusion Challenge on Facebook. Everyone is welcome, regardless of your dietary choices, but the focus of the group is high-raw vegan.

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Spring into Healthier Eating: Peace Salad Party!

First things first…The winner of the Plant Powered 15 by Dreena Burton is Bex of How to Feed a Vegan. Congratulations, Bex!

Now, onto my  next Spring into Healthier Eating review…Peace Salad. Have you heard of this yet? I hadn’t either until I received an email from my only real-life vegan friend (as opposed to my virtual vegan friends – ha!) asking if I wanted to have a Peace Salad party. Um…sure?

Peace Salad is the newest brainchild of raw-food, vegan blogger, Sandy Henson Corso, the owner of  Peaceful Daily and Sandy’s Salad.

In the book, Sandy lists 100 tips for peace. Practiced together, they’re like a salad 🙂

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To celebrate the book, people are hosting Peace Salad parties all over, so we did, too!

Last Saturday night, we gathered a few friends and enjoyed some lively conversation over an abundance of vegan eats and treats. Ok, there were also some vegetarian cupcake there, but they were from a small business down the street, so at least we were supporting local business 😉

Check out this spread!

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Ellen, the hostess of the party, made some of her favorite party foods, including this macaroni salad (from the Forks Over Knives cookbook (I gave her that book as a Christmas gift ;-))) and those crispy apple muffins in the background (from the Everyday Happy Herbivore cookbook).

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Ellen also made her famous bruchetta (with a pesto recipe from The Kind Diet) and this super delicious cheeze dip (made with Teeze, soy cherizo, and spicy tomatoes). We couldn’t stop eating this stuff!

Someone else brought giant vegan cupcakes from a local restaurant, and someone else brought hummus and tabouli from a local artisan.

There was also lots of wine!

I brought a giant pan of raw vegan brownies, using my Brown Batter Bites recipes, and frosted them with chocolate cashew cream (made by blending cashews, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and a little date soaking water – left over from the date paste I used in the Brownie Batter Bites).

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And a bunch of Gabby’s Pizza Bites.

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The mixture was so massive, I had to bust out the beast – my 13 cup Kitchen Aid food processor.

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And I made this giant bowl of Asian Rice Noodle Salad, which got rave reviews!

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Here’s the recipe!

Asian Noodle Salad

1 pkg rice noodles, cooked according to package directions (I used Brown Rice Noodles)

1 sm pkg shelled edamame (about 1 1/2 cups)

1/2 c shredded carrot

1 small bunch scallions, diced on the diagonal (white and green parts)

2-3 TBSP toasted sesame oil (more or less to taste)

1/4  c tamari (more or less to taste)

Cook noodles according to package directions, and allow to cool. Mix noodles, edamame, carrots, and scallions in a bowl. Add sesame oil and tamari and toss to combine. Add more sesame oil and tamari to taste, or after noodle salad sits for a while. (My suggestion is to make this salad ahead, and let it sit in the refrigerator to allow flavors to meld.)

So easy, and soooo good!

I hope you decide to have a Peace Salad party, too. It’s a great excuse to gather your friends and family and share your ideas on peace and happiness while you enjoy some peaceful, vegan goodies. Enjoy!

 

Raw Carrot Cake Cookies

Happy Easter!

I whipped up these tasty little treats earlier this week, and have been enjoying and sharing them for days.

Staying with my theme of using as much left-over almond milk pulp as possible, the base for these cookies is almond pulp. If you don’t have almond pulp, almond meal/flour should work (your dough may require more liquid), and if you can’t have almonds, any nut/seed meal/pulp should work. I don’t know about grain based flours; they’re much denser, so you may have to play with the liquids a bit if you choose to use a base like that. Enjoy!

Raw Carrot Cake Cookies

1 c wet/fresh almond pulp

1 c dry/dehydrated almond pulp

1 large banana

10 regular sized dates, soaked

1/2 c shredded carrot

1/4 c raisins, soaked

1/4 c goji berries, soaked

1/4 c coconut shreds, unsweetened

1/2 c pecan pieces (or other nut)

2 t vanilla powder (or 1 TBSP vanilla extract)

1 t cinnamon

1/4 – 1/2 c water (use the date soak water for more sweetness)

Add almond pulp, banana, dates, cinnamon, vanilla and 1/4 c water to food processor and pulse until combined. (You don’t want to see pieces of banana or date.) Then, either pulse in remaining chunky ingredients or fold in by hand.  Scoop cookie mix onto mesh dehydrator trays, flatten to form a cookie shape, and dehydrate until dry. NOTE: Do not flatten cookies by pressing into the mesh; the dough will squish through to the other side, and your cookies will be stuck on the tray. Lift each cookie and flatten it in your hands or on a solid service.

Dehydrator times will vary: I start the process at 145F for about an hour, then lower to about 110F. My cookies took 4-6 hours at this temp.

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The cookies become much darker as they dry.

If you want to “cook” these cookies in the oven, I’d suggest a lower temperature for a little bit longer time – perhaps 250-300F for 15-20 minutes. You want them dry to the touch and firm in the middle.

Strawberry Banana Muffins

These muffins are grain free, sugar free, soy free, oil free, and they can be nut free if you’d like them to be. But, most importantly, they’re not free of flavor; they’re delicious!

Strawberry Banana Muffins

2 c almond meal*

2 medium bananas (very ripe), blended until liquified

1/2 c strawberries, chopped (frozen/thawed is fine)

2 flax eggs (1 flax egg = 1 heaping tbsp flax meal + 1 tbsp warm water)

1 TBSP chia seeds (optional)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp baking soda (This might not be necessary; I added it to neutralize the acid.)

Optional: Stevia or other sweetener to taste

Thoroughly combine dry ingredients. Add wet. Stir to combine. Fold in strawberries. Spoon into muffin tins (or cupcake holders) and bake 12-15 minutes at 350F.

Notes:

Almond Meal: I use almond meal that I create from left-over almond milk pulp. I freeze it until the bags start sliding out of the freezer when I open the door (ha!); then I thaw and dehydrate it. After that, I process it in the food processor until it’s a fine grind. It stores very well in a glass container forever – as far as I know. I’m guessing you could use fresh almond milk pulp for these, too. You might need less flax if your meal is wetter/heavier. Since mine was so dry, I added the extra flax for it’s gelling power.

Almond Fee/Seed Options: If you can’t or don’t want to use almond meal, I’m sure a different nut or seed meal would work; make your own by grinding your favorite nut or seed until forms a fine powder, or use left-over nut or seed pulp from any nut or seed.

Grain Option: Don’t care if your muffins are grain free? Sub out the almond meal for oat flour. Equal parts should work. I would reduce the flax egg down to one, however. And, you may need to adjust (lessen) the cooking time.

Flax Eggs: If you don’t have flax, or don’t want to use flax, I’m sure a chia egg would work well here (or whatever egg substitute you prefer).

Chia Seeds: I like to add chia seeds to my muffins for extra Omega 3’s, especially if I use something high in Omega 6’s (like peanut butter). I also like that they’re high in protein, calcium, iron, fiber and tons of other stuff. Well, high for their size. They’re little powerhouses!

Sweetener: I didn’t add any sweetener, but if your strawberries aren’t sweet enough (of if your bananas aren’t super ripe and sugary sweet), you might want to add a little stevia or your favorite nutritive sweetener. I think coconut sugar would work great in these!

Cooking Time: Don’t be afraid to bake these for a while. The almond meal is pretty wet, so it might take a while to cook. Our oven runs a little cool, so mine took a full 15 minutes (plus). You don’t want there to be much give in the middle if you push on one while it’s in the oven.

Keepin’ it raw? I think these would be great as muffin tops in the dehydrator. On their own, all of the ingredients are considered raw 🙂 If you choose to try this, place a large scoop of mixture on a paraflexx sheet and dehydrate for one hour at 145F, then lower the temp to 115-110F until the muffin tops are firm to the touch. I don’t know how long this will take, but most things I dehydrate take at least 12 hours. Try leaving them in over night and go from there 🙂

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ABC Marbles

ABC Marbles? What the heck are those? Well, they’re these…

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I couldn’t decided what to call my newest dessert balls, so I asked for suggestions on Facebook. Someone suggested ABC Swirl, and while I loved the idea of ABC, the swirl didn’t quite fit, so I went with marble. My original idea was Almond Butter Carob Marble Balls. Ha! Apparently my kitchen inspiration has been just slightly better than my recipe naming inspiration 😉

ABC Marbles

1/2 c + 2 TBSP almond butter

1/4 c carob

2 TBSP maple syrup

Combine 1/2 c almond butter, carob powder and maple syrup in a ball until thick batter forms. Add  the two tablespoons of almond butter to the mix and smash in to combine. Roll into balls and store in the refrigerator or freezer.

Notes:

Nut butter: You can use any nut or seed butter – almond, peanut, cashew, sunflower, etc.

Carob: You can easily swap the carob out for raw cacao or coco powder. The carob powder I’ve been using is by Bob’s Red Mill, and it’s super sweet. It’s much sweeter than the Chatfield’s brand.

Maple Syrup: You could easily use another liquid sweetener – even date paste.

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Oatmeal Raisin Muffins

I love muffins. They’re great for on-the-go breakfasts  – and second breakfast! (Am I the only person who eats a second breakfast most days??)

Tuesday night, I went to bed thinking about muffins, and when I woke up before the alarm on Wednesday morning, I decided to do it! Doesn’t everyone make muffins at 5 am?! Ha!

In my groggy state, this is what I came up with…

Oatmeal Raisin Muffins

1 1/2 c oat flour (I used certified gluten-free)

1/2 c almond pulp/meal/flour

1/2 tsp baking powder (aluminum free, please!)

2 flax eggs (2 TBSP flax meal + 3 TBSP water)

1/2 c coconut sugar (aka palm sugar)

3/4 c unsweetened applesauce (two individual containers)

1/2 TBSP vanilla extract  (or a pinch of vanilla powder)

1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)

2 TBSP chia seeds (optional)

1/2 c raisins (soaked)

1/4 c goji berries (soaked)

Add dry ingredients to bowl. Whisk to combine. Add wet ingredients. Stir to combine. Fold in drained, soaked raisins and goji berries.

Fill muffin tins/cups and bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes. Remove promptly from baking pan and cool on a wire rack so bottoms don’t get soggy.

Makes 9 nice-sized muffins at about 200 calories each. Freezes well.

Notes:

“Flour”: Is your freezer being overrun by almond pulp too?! Ugh. It’s getting a little crowned in there; time to thaw, dehydrate, and process into more almond meal/flour. But, before I do that, I need to use some of the last batch, so I’ve been sneaking it into anything and everything. If you don’t have any almond pulp/meal/flour lying around, I’m sure you could use all oat flour. (Side note: Make your own oat flour by grinding some old fashioned oats in a blender or food processor until smooth in texture. I use my magic bullet.) Additionally, this might work with all almond pulp/meal/flour. I haven’t tried it; if you do, let me know if it works!

Flax Egg: I find my flax gels up much better with less water. Some people like their eggs a bit runny, but I like mine thick and gooy. I like to use golden flax, too. It has a milder flavor and doesn’t show through the oat flour. I’m sure you could use  chia eggs as well (same amount of ground or whole chia seeds instead of flax meal).

Chia Seeds: These are totally optional, but I like putting them in muffins and quick breads for the added omega’s. Plus, I think they add some binding. Or not. That might be all in my head 😉

Applesauce: I used the applesauce for both the moisture and the oil sub. I’m guessing you could use some kind of oil (coconut oil would be my suggestion) and maybe a little non-dairy milk if you don’t have/don’t want to use applesauce. Additionally, liquified banana would probably work, as would pumpkin puree, prune puree, etc. Keep in mind, however, using a higher sugared fruit might mean an adjustment to your other sweetener.

Coconut/Palm Sugar: I’ve recently started using coconut/palm sugar more often. It’s not very sweet, but I like that. Subtle. Plus, the glycemic index is so low, reports are that it doesn’t spike insulin levels in those who are sensitive. (The carbohydrates in the oat flour could, though, so be careful if this applies to you.)

Dried Fruit: I love oatmeal raisin as a flavor, but if you don’t, try a different dried fruit. Dried cranberries, cherries, apricots, figs, bits of date, currents, etc, would all be great! I added the goji berries for an extra antioxidant kick, but something more exotic like golden berries would be nice too!

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Brownies

I’ve been craving brownies since December.

First, I tried this fat-free black bean recipe. It was OK. I’ve tried other fat-free black bean recipes, and they’ve been OK too. All have been very cake-like. Good when you’re in the mood for that type of brownie, or even a piece of chocolate cake, but not so good when you aren’t sure what you want. Apparently that wasn’t what I wanted.

Then, I tried a fat-free brownie that used sweet potato instead of beans or bananas. It was OK. But, guess what, I can’t find the recipe. Ugh. I guess you’ll have to settle for some a photos.

upside down brownie

I also made this  blondie, which was very interesting. Cooked quinoa. Crazy!

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Sadly, I wasn’t super thrilled with either of these recipes either. The blondie was a different flavor I wasn’t fond of – not bad but not great. And, I ended up having to bake them for almost four times the length of time in the recipe. I don’t know what the difference in moisture could have been, but wowza! They were in the oven forever, and I could have left them in even longer. The regular brownies didn’t do it for me either. I probably didn’t leave them in the long enough (the oven had been on all day), and instead of being fudgy, they were gelatinous. I don’t do anything anything gelatinous. Luckily, after a night in the fridge, they firmed up a bit, and I ate them with the mindset of cold chocolate oatmeal.

Finally, I tried making a batch of raw brownies. Just about every vegan food blog, and maybe non-vegan blogs, have a recipe for raw brownies – and why not?! They’re delicious and super easy to make.

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The recipes are all about the same: dates, cacao and some kind of mix-in. My recipe isn’t anything special in design, but it sure tastes good!

Raw Brownies

20 jumbo medjool dates (40 regular size) – soaked if hard

1/4-1/2 c raw cacao (or carob – to taste)

1/8 – 1/4 c almond meal or flour (I used dehydrated and processed almond pulp left-over from making almond milk.)

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp vanilla powder

2 TBSP (heaping) raw cacao nibs – optional

1/4 c (scant) sliced almonds – optional

Add dates to food processor first. Process until dates have broken down. (You don’t need to process them into a paste, though.) Add cacao powder and almond meal and process again until mixture forms a ball. Add your mix-ins and combine by hand. Press mixture into a small container, silicone molds, or form into balls and store in the refrigerator or freezer. Allow to thaw a bit before eating  if freezing.

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Cherry Date Balls

I accidentally ordered some dehydrated cherries last month, and I finally got around to using them.

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Cherry Date Balls

1 c Dates

1/4 c (scant) Coconut

1/2 c (scant) slivered almonds (or whole, but slivered process better)

1/2 c freeze dried cherries (or other dried/freeze dried fruit of choice)

Add all ingredients to food processor and process until combined. Mixture will be crumbly but should hold together when pressed.  Scoop mixture by the TBSP (or cookie scooper – I used a size 50 scooper), pack tight, and roll into a ball. Store in the refrigerator or freezer. (If you freeze, thaw for a few minutes before eating; they become very, very firm.)

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