Whole30 – Raw Coconut-Date Squares

It’s Day 22 of my Whole30 journey. Cravings are definitely down, it’s the home stretch. A wee sweet treat is a much welcome  pick-me up to make it to home base.

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After making these I realized they might qualify for what they call SWPO (Sex With Your Pants On) desserts. But then I figured, they are allowing Larabars (which I made a version of on Day 6), and they are essentially the same ingredients, with a bit of coconut oil (also on the approved list). The key difference* is the visual presentation — these look way better! They’re still in the fridge so I will have to wait till tomorrow to post the finished product, but I know from having made them last week that they are beauties.

*Portion control  (my personal nemesis) is also important, as always.

Dates

Raw Coconut Date Squares

Makes 10 big squares or 20 little ones:)

[For Miss Drew and Miss LP]

Modified from this recipe

Ingredients:

Crust/crumble:

1 cup raw walnuts
1 cup raw pecans
6 soft Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
2-3 TBSP coconut oil, melted
1 tsp dried ginger
pinch of salt

2-3 tsp coconut, shredded

Date filling:

1-1/2 cups soft Medjool pitted dates
1/2 cup hot water
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt

Directions:

Prep the dates for the filling by softening them first. I boiled some water, and soaked the dates in a bowl with the water for about 30 minutes.

Line an ~8″x8″ baking dish with parchment paper. In a food processor fitted with an “S” blade, pulse the walnuts and pecans until they are finely ground. Add in the chopped dates, coconut oil and salt, and process again until the “dough” is formed – basically it clumps together.  Save 1 cup of this dough for the crumble topping, then transfer the rest of the dough to the lined baking dish,  using your fingers to press it evenly into the bottom of the pan. (Being a germophobe, I did not press this with my fingers but used the spatula.)

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor, and blend until  it has a purée like feeling, with a few little chunks of date left for texture. Add more water if necessary.

Spread the filling over the crust evenly ( I used a silicone spatula) , then crumble the reserved cup of dough over the top. Sprinkle the topping over the filling and garnish with the shredded coconut.

Important> Chill in fridge for at least 2 hours to set. I found they were even firmer and more delicious the next day, after being chilled overnight.

Serve chilled for best presentation. Store in fridge for up to a week.

Raw, Vegan, Paleo, Delicious and Nutritious!

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Whole30 – Days 8 & 9 – the accidental dose

For about a year I’ve been drinking my coffee with (unsweetened) coconut milk. This makes it easy to differentiate between my cup and Mr. OP’s cup, as he takes it black with sugar.

This morning our coffee was in identical cups and I accidentally swigged a sip.

How many sips are in a cup of coffee? It was smallish sip. I realized as it was already being swallowed what I’d done.

There was about 3/4 of a teaspoon of organic brown sugar in there. If there are 10 sips in a cup (stabbing in the dark here), I consumed a statistically insignificant amount. Not that you would have noticed by my shouts of “Oh No, What Have I Done – Aaaargh!”

Onwards.

These last two days have brought improved energy and a sense that I will persevere. My Day 7 glibness towards not missing wine was, of course, overturned on Saturday evening, when the thought of a delicious glass of ice cold chardonnay (ABCers piss off) haunted me for at least an hour. I made delicious tea and enjoyed the zero side-effects the next morning by going for a run.

Sunday I faced a family dinner and managed aok. There was enough food to eat, and although the mashed potatoes with loads of butter looked fantastic, they did not cross my lips. And although I carefully inspected the salad dressing for sugar (none), a small, yet bigger than miniscule dose of sugar passed my lips via the BBQ sauce that was on the salmon. I scraped most of it off, and having scoured the forums for information found out that a wee bit of sugar does not require a restart to Day 1. Passing on the chocolate decadence cake for dessert was slightly more daunting, but I clenched my teeth and smiled.

Pureeing tomatoes for the lentil soup

Cooking.

It being a long weekend (which of course thinking about Remembrance Day puts this modest challenge into perspective) I cooked. A lot.

More chia/flax seed crackers, more vegetable lentil soup, and coconut date squares were the top of the list.

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Coconut Date Bars

(Culled from here and here w/ miniscule modifications – these are raw and Vegan)

  • 1 cup of pitted dates
  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cinammon

I have a mini cuisinart, so had to make this in two batches. Otherwise, if you have a regular one, I’m sure you could blend it all at once.  I chopped the walnuts first, then added the dates and coconut.

Blend until it starts forming into a ball.

Roll out between two sheets of parchement paper to desired thickness and slice and serve.
Mine made about 10, plus some little bits that didn’t make the cut. Myfitness pal tells me they are about 100 calories each. A perfect snack, and Whole30 approved. I estimated the cost at 55 cents a bar (all organic ingredients) versus those Larabar ones at $1.99 a pop.

And Mr. OP likes them too.

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Today is Day 10, it being a holiday I  had grandiose plans to cook even more, but chores and dealing with stuff got in the way, so  my new half-baked plan to add a full recipe section  to this fledging blog will have to wait another day.

I am stoked I am 1/3 of the way through this regime!

Whole 30 Day 5 – Heavy head and Chocolate

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Last night’s dinner: Lentil Burgers** (legumes are ok when following the veggie version of the Whole 30), spaghetti squash (my first time making) and kale. Quite delicious, but I missed the butter. Butter is allowed, but only clarified butter. Not owning a cheesecloth, and already feeling like this whole venture involves a lot of channeling of Julia Child, I haven’t yet made the clarified butter. But I will.

Day 5: Headache continues and 3pm fatigue is ridiculous. My head drops and feels like it weighs 50lbs.

Other than that there is a pleasant feeling of virtuousness knowing that no sugar has passed my lips in 5 days. Not as sweet as chocolate (why does Mr OP have to leave an open bar of chocolate in the dining room!) but at least metaphorically sugar coated.

The key thing about following this plan is preparation. I thought I had purchased everything I needed. But I’m out of ideas of what to eat for dinner tonight – and opening a jar of tomato sauce and smothering it over pasta (rice) topped with a soupcon of parmesan is off the table. Sigh.

I haven’t purchased enough veggies or fruit or fish. And keep forgetting about the bloody cheesecloth!

Fish. I still toy with going back to being a full on vegetarian, but then I remember my heritage (many fisherman on my maternal side of the family) and I concede the genetic tie overrides the guilt I have over the degree of their sentience. How sentient are salmon anyhow? Don’t tell me.

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RECIPE: Curried Lentil Almond Burgers

  • 3 cups green lentils (cooked)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup almonds (depending on how much water is in your cooked lentils)
  • 1 egg
  • 1-2 TBS coconut flour* (again dependent on water)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • turmeric and madras powder to taste

Blend together above ingredients. Shape into patties.

I tried both baking and frying them. The fried ones were much more delicious:)  I used 1/2 olive oil and 1/2 coconut oil (~1tbs or so) seeing as I haven’t gotten the whole clarified butter thing together yet.

Bake at 350 till solid. Depending on “wet” the mixture was to start takes anywhere from 25 to 40 min.

Frying > Almost like making pancakes. Turn over when solid enough to flip.

* A note about coconut flour, if you’ve never cooked/baked with it before. It is super absorbent. They should make paper towels out of it. Don’t treat it like regular flour.

Holy chills & headache – Day 3/4 Whole 30

I went to bed at 9:30pm last night. Prior to that I was walking around the house with the hoodie of my sweatshirt pulled up over my head and thick wool socks on. Mr. OP commented that it looked like I was camping.

This was Day 3 of my Whole 30 semi-pescatarian adventure.

I also had a headache. It’s still there slightly, but I don’t think my symptoms are a cold, or flu. It’s just that detox thing they mention in their timeline.

The crankiness they say will appear on Days 4-5 was there right away however:) It’s the cheese in the fridge taunting me, the blue one I crumble in my salad. Plus I haven’t clarified my butter yet, so no butter so far for 4 days. Clarifying butter is a lot of work. I’m already overwhelmed. Towards the goals of this quest I have so far:

  • Made vegetable lentil soup from scratch.
  • Made chia-flax crackers from scratch. That gooey gelatinous substance was challenging, but they’re decent enough. The seeds stick to your teeth.
  • Cleaned Whole Foods out of nuts and seeds. Luckily for me there was  a 25% sale on them. You’re only supposed to eat them in moderation. Unsalted, unroasted cashews are surprisingly delicious.
  • Bought more vegetables than I usually do in the summer at the Farmer’s Market.

What I’ve noticed, as with other 30 day challenges from the past (giving up wine for 30 days, giving up wheat for 30 days, this last one has become more or less permanent) is that you always think “I don’t eat that much ______ (bread, pasta…), I only have 1 (ok 2) glasses of wine a couple (ok 4) days a week” and then when you go off the substances you realize you actually do consume a lot more than you think.

BOOZE – So far, giving up the wine has been quite easy. I think my brain has adapted to the previous 30, 60 and 30 days booze-free challenges of the past year and a half, so it’s not sulking.

SUGAR – however, which I was like “I hardly eat any sugar”, pshaw – this will be a cinch. Around 3pm and ~ 8pm I could climb a mountain for a piece of milk chocolate. It’s hard to stay focused for a few minutes, I feel slightly dizzy. Then I make a cup of herbal tea (sans honey) and all is well.

CHEESE – I knew this one was going to be tough. I used to be a vegan, so I remember being cheese free, but it’s a distant memory, something vague and surreal, like being 11.

I await with pleasure Days 16 – 27: TIger Blood. Although without any meat perhaps it will be more like Winnie The Pooh Blood.

crackers

Chia and Flaxseed crackers.

Basically 1 cup of flaxseed and 1/4 cup chia seeds, water and spices. Adapted from 2 different recipes: Lauren Conrad’s Chia Flaxseed Crackers and one from Just a Bit of Salt (minus the maple syrup of course!). The key difference is the first recipe is more or less a dehydration process – low oven heat for many hours and the other one is baked at 350. I tried both.

Personally I prefer the baked, but like the idea of being “raw”.

I used:

  • 1 cup of whole flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup of chia seeds (organic natch)
  • bunch of water (probably too much)
  • 1/2 veggie bouillon cube (no sugar)
  • bit of sea salt
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ground rosemary

Notes – They both say to soak the flaxseed and chia seeds in water. Never having done this before, I was imagining it like soaking chickpea seeds. Wrong. It turns into a gelatinous goop. Slightly disconcerting, but I got over it.

I soaked them for about 4 hours. Then spread with a spoon on parchment paper covered baking sheets and baked at 350 for 25 minutes (the one recipe said 15 – but it was way too soft after 15 – prob too much H20) and then scored them, returned them back for another 25. Turning it over meant getting another sheet of parchement paper and flopping it. 1/4 of it stuck to the parchement sheet.

2nd batch – I let it cook a little longer and used a cake server to flatten it out. Bit like making mud cakes.  Brushed the parchement with olive oil. Turned over beautifully.

3rd batch – Tried the 190 degree method. Took way too long. I don’t have the patience. They end up not as crisp, which is what I like in that type of cracker.

Spices: Thinking it was going to be a rinse situation inside of making mud pies, I didn’t add the spices before hand to the water. I would do this next time. I would also add some pepper.

It was my first time eating chia seeds. They have a superfood reputation. DId I mention they stick to your teeth and you shouldn’t eat too much or you could get a stomach ache. I really hope making this isn’t the whole “sex with your pants on” thing they go on about (Paleo-ification of desserts and “junk food.”)  It’s bird food for pete’s sake! I’m not going back to Day 1.

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4pm: Slight headache continues and some crankiness. But I got good news today and had a great work day with my friend and colleague. Onwards.