Chocolate Chickpea Truffles

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Chickpeas. Who doesn’t love a good chickpea? They’re the perfect addition to your next soup, salad, casserole, dessert…

“Whoa – wait! Hold the phone!” you rudely interrupt. “Dessert? What is wrong with you, woman? Have you gone quite mad?”

But hear me out. Chickpeas are actually a surprisingly useful ingredient in crafting tasty, yet unbelievably healthy, sweets. I’ve made Chickpea Brownies before, which were quite delicious, and my most recent creation was these yummy Chickpea Truffles! Just like chocolate truffles, minus the guilt.

Here’s the story. I was in the kitchen with my very first loaf of bread rising in the oven – yes, my very first loaf of bread! Hate to go off topic, but I kneaded to brag about that one because I’m super proud of myself – but I was very much in a “cook/bake all the things” kind of mood. I wanted to make something healthy, though, to counteract the carb-fest that was coming together in the over at the time.

I basically made this up as I went along. I knew it would include chickpeas, almond butter, cocoa powder, and honey for sweetness. I threw in some quick-cooking oats as well, to give it texture and hold it together. I chucked it all in the blender ‘til it was smooth, then I chopped up some chunks of dark chocolate for extra chocolately goodness and antioxidants and stirred them in.

After rolling them into balls, I decided to coat them in a blend of chia seeds and cocoa powder. This made them ridiculously chocolatey, which is great because everyone loves chocolate. The only downside is that anything rolled in cocoa powder tends to get a little bit messy… so maybe don’t eat these whilst all dolled up in your Sunday best.

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Chocolate Chickpea Truffles

170g canned chickpeas, drained weight (I used two x 125g cans)
6 tbsp quick-cooking oats
2 tbsp almond butter
2 tbsp. cocoa powder or hot chocolate mix
2-3 squares of chopped dark chocolate (or 2-3 tbsp of dark chocolate chips)
1 tbsp honey
2-3 tbsp cocoa powder, extra (for coating)
2-3 tbsp chia seeds

Combine all ingredients except for chia seeds, choc chips, and the extra cocoa powder in the blender, and blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the chocolate chips/chunks.

In another bowl, combine the chia seeds and extra cocoa powder. With dampened hands, roll the chickpea mixture into balls and coat in the cocoa/chia mix. Place balls on a plate or tray, and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight, until firm.

Enjoy without guilt! :)

No-Bake Peanut Butter Oat Bars

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Muesli bars: the go-to snack when you’re on the go. They’re pretty healthy, right? Packed with oats and dried fruit? Well, kind of. I guess. But, I mean, have you ever looked at the ingredients list? I guess it depends on the brand, but most muesli bars I’ve seen are full of sugar and all manner of other things that make it seem less and less like a healthy snack.

Added to that, I find that muesli bars don’t really make me any less hungry. If anything, chowing down on a muesli bar will just make me even more peckish and have me demanding the nearest passer-by to whip up a three-course feast for me. So, in my case at least, they are not worth the sugar and calories.

This is what spurred me to try and concoct my own, homemade muesli bar in the comfort of my very own kitchen!

I threw in some rolled oats (because what’s a muesli bar without oats), some peanut butter and some manuka honey, to make it hold together. Then for extra nutrients and flavor I added some raisins, chia seeds and a dash of cinnamon. After mixing it all together I pressed it into the bottom of a square casserole dish and popped it in the fridge overnight.

So, um, a word of warning if you ever decide to make these. They are highly addictive. Every time I happened to walk past the kitchen, I’d see them just chillaxin’ in that plastic container on the table. I think the fact that they weren’t particularly solid, but actually rather crumbly, made it easier for me to just keep grabbing tiny little pieces without the guilt of “Oh, I just ate a whole slice!” Which certainly isn’t a good thing, because even though they’re healthier than something like a cookie or muffin, too much of a good thing can’t be good. So I think I’ll need to address that by making the bars less crumbly. Or maybe just work on my self-control. :P

The flavour of them, however, was delicious; so peanut-buttery! I am a huge fan of peanut butter so maybe this is why they were so irresistible. The cool thing about these is that you can pretty much just throw in anything; next time I make them, I plan to throw in some extra seeds and some dried blueberries… and perhaps adjust the balance of the ingredients so they hold together a bit better. More honey, perhaps? Or less oats? I guess it’s back to the kitchen for me; time for some experimentation! Here’s the recipe ; maybe you guys can do some experimenting of your own as well.

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Peanut Butter Oat Bars

1 cup Rolled Oats
1 tbsp Manuka Honey
2 tbsp Chia Seeds
½ cup Peanut Butter
¼ cup Raisins
½ tsp Cinnamon

Melt the peanut butter in a Microwave (I had mine on Medium and melted it in 30-second intervals until quite runny) and combine it with the honey, chia, oats, raisins and cinnamon in a mixing bowl, and mix until well-combined.

Line a square dish with baking paper. Pour the mixture in and press it down very firmly. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight, then slice into squares or bars with a knife and enjoy!

Ricotta, Pear & Walnut Ice Cream

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Ice cream. Doesn’t that conjure up sweet, nostalgic summertime memories? Sitting on the hot sand at the beach, after a delightful seaside romp, your hair dripping with salty seawater as you slurp up your Cornetto ice cream cone, without a care in the world except perhaps trying to finish it before it melts. Or perhaps you’re reminiscing about heading to the gelato bar with your sweetheart and ordering a cup to share with one scoop of your favourite flavor, 1 scoop of theirs because that’s just so darn adorable, you guys! Awww! :3

Anyway. The point is, ice cream is one of the things that makes summer awesome (or, for me, one of the things that makes it bearable).
Recently (by which I mean, the other week when I wrote this post), the weather hasn’t been particularly summery – which I’m actually incredibly pleased about! The skies are grey with clouds, it’s chilly enough to wear pants, and it even rained yesterday! It’s all nice and cozy inside and cold out there and I love it!

The thing is, though, I have a perfectly good ice cream maker just sitting around waiting to be of use, and I was planning to fire it up on a hot summery day. But then I thought, “Who cares? Let’s make ice cream anyway.” Ice cream doesn’t wait for anyone.

This ice cream is a bit special. Want to know why? Because it’s healthy (sort of)! There’s no heavy cream in it. No sugar. None of those things. It’s made with yummy, calcium-packed Ricotta cheese, and sweetened only with honey and pureed roasted pears. So it’s a dessert you can feel good about!<p)
The original recipe called for low-fat Ricotta and skim milk, but I used full-fat because I wanted it to be a little bit richer (I was making it as dessert for my family, and I wanted them to actually like it). Also, fun fact: I’m not really a fan of low-fat dairy products, except low-fat milk. But with things like cheese or yoghurt, I prefer to experience the full flavor of it and only have a little bit, rather than eating a larger amount of the low-fat stuff which I find doesn’t taste that good and isn’t satisfying, leaving me prone to further snackage later on when I get hungry again.

This ice-cream is really great, though. The combination of the Ricotta and the orange rind/juice gives it a delicious tart, tangy flavor, almost like a frozen cheesecake, and the honey and roasted pears sweeten it perfectly. Enjoy!

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Ricotta, Pear & Walnut Ice Cream
(adapted from 500 ice creams)

3 ripe pears
2 teaspoons cinnamon
5 tablespoons honey
250g ricotta cheese
120 mL full cream milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
zest and juice of 1 orange

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Peel and core the pears, and chop them into quarters. Arrange the pears in an ovenproof dish, drizzle with the honey and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake for about 10 minutes, until softer and slightly brown. Remove from the oven, and chill in the fridge.

When cold, remove the pears and juice from the fridge, and mash with a potato masher until fairly smooth (if you wish, you may place it in a blender to get it even smoother). Combine this mixture with the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.
Pour the mixture into an ice-cream maker and churn until thicker and more frozen. Once churned, transfer the ice cream to a freezer container and place in the freezer for a couple of hours to firm up.

Healthy Banana Pancakes

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If you’re searching for the perfect non-existent word to describe me, I think “breakfastaholic” is what you’re looking for. Breakfast is by far my favourite meal of the day, and I can never understand those people who “just don’t feel like breakfast in the morning”.

Of course, when say I’m a breakfastaholic, I don’t mean that I like to chow down on a big, greasy plate of bacon and eggs and butter-laden toast every morning. I prefer not to inhale a whole day’s worth of calories before 10am. But I’m a huge fan of things like oatmeal, fruit or yoghurt.

Oh, and pancakes.

Pancakes and I don’t really cross paths all that often, since I like my breakfasts to be quite healthy, as well as quick to prepare since I don’t have loads of time in the morning. But lately I’ve really been craving pancakes! So the other morning I whipped up some tasty, “healthy” banana pancakes! They’re mostly banana, with some rolled oats to add a bit of texture. No white flour or sugar in these little guys!

The recipe for these is pretty loose in the sense that you could probably vary the amounts of certain things ever so slightly and it wouldn’t make a huge difference – I was pretty much just experimenting, so why not try doing the same? You could even add blueberries, sultanas, nuts or choc-chips to the batter itself if you’re into that sort of thing!

Sadly, due to my non-existent pancake-flipping skills, they’re weren’t all neat and round and lovely like pancakes should be. But they tasted nice so that’s a plus!

These can serve maybe 1-2 people, depending on how hungry you are. :)

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Healthy Banana Pancakes

1 large banana, mashed
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
2 tablespoons rolled oats
½ teaspoon cinnamon
a pinch of salt
Greek yoghurt, fresh berries and honey, to serve

 Combine the beaten egg, mashed banana, rolled oats, cinnamon and salt in a bowl and mix until combined.

Heat the sunflower oil in a frypan over medium heat. Pour the batter onto the pan in neat circles and allow to fry for about 5 minutes, or until bubbles start to appear on the surface of each pancake and they appear to be cooked underneath, then (carefully!) flip over and cook on the other side for another 2-3 minutes, until cooked through. Repeat with any batter you may have left over.
Slide onto a plate and serve with greek yoghurt, fresh berries and a drizzle of honey (or whatever your favourite pancake toppings are) and enjoy!