Category Archives: Nuts

Medjool Date And Cranberry Balls With Chia And Macadamia

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Truth be known – I adore Medjool dates, and think they are fabulous simply eaten as is. Their soft, sweet, distinct caramel flavour, can’t be beat.

But you take that flavour and add it with other goodies like chia seeds, spices, coconut, and nuts and you get date balls. They are my latest obsession, and they might become yours too.

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The dried cranberries can be left out entirely. But I quite like the tart flavour they add. Instead of cinnamon you might use mixed spice, ground ginger, or even a pinch of nutmeg. As an alternative to rolling them in coconut you might roll them in sesame seeds, or raw cacao. But I love anything rolled in coconut…

As long as the Medjool dates you buy are fresh, these balls will last for up to a month in an airtight container in the fridge. That is if they aren’t eaten well before then.

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Medjool date and cranberry balls with chia seed and macadamia nuts 

Ingredients

1 tbsp black chia seeds

150g macadamia nuts

450g Medjool dates 

80g dried cranberries

1 tsp cinnamon 

1 cup shredded coconut 

Place the chia seeds in a small bowl with 1/4 cup cold water. Whisk till combined and stand for 10 minutes. The chia seeds will swell up and turn to a gel consistency.

Meanwhile, roast the macadamia nuts in a moderate oven (180C) for about 8 minutes. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, place in a food processor and blitz to a rough crumb. Set aside.

Break open the dates and remove the pip. Roughly chop the dates and place in a food processor with the cranberries. Add the soaked chia seeds and cinnamon. Blitz the mix till the dates are well combined. In the final 30 seconds add the chopped macadamia nuts, the mix should come together in a ball.

Divide the mix into about 20 balls, rolling them between your finger tips and the palm of your hand. Place them on a tray. On a second tray, lay the shredded coconut. Roll each ball in the coconut till covered all over.

Store them in an air tight container out of the fridge. Eat within one month.

Coconut Pepita and Chia Biscuits with Dark Chocolate

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I have to admit, I’m more of a cake-kind-of-girl then a biscuit one. It’s not that I don’t appreciate a good biscuit. I do. Actually, I’m sharing this recipe with you now because this IS a good biscuit. It’s a great biscuit. It’s crunchy…not too sweet…and can actually be debated that’s it’s kind of healthy.

And what makes it so? Wholemeal flour is a good start – sure beats processed white.

Then there’s the pepita seeds – the pretty green seed taken from inside a pumpkin seed – which by the way are full of iron, magnesium and zinc.

LSA mix – ground linseed, sunflower, almond meal – is in here too. That adds some healthy omega-3 fats.

Chia seeds are full of calcium and high in antioxidants – apparently they have higher levels than blueberries! – and they replace the need for egg – remember this recipe?.

And coconut, well, I just love coconut…

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These biscuits have a similar method to an Anzac biscuit, only they’re healthier.  The melted chocolate on top is totally optional and not altogether necessary. If I’m short on time I skip the melted chocolate part and leave them as is.

My kids love it when I bake these biscuits. Actually, my husband probably loves it just as much they do, maybe more. He’s a biscuit-kind-of-guy. He’s been known in the past to buy horrible supermarket biscuits. He practically has to sneak them in the door so I don’t give him a lecture on how foul they are, how full of processed rubbish they are, and how overly sugared they are – poor guy, must be tough being married to me.

He does love these though and if I’m trying to get him on board for some favour I need doing then a batch of these oh-so-good-biscuits are a great place to start.

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If you want to make these for the kids to take to school, yet your having to follow strict school guidelines about no food with nuts (this is seriously out of control this whole allergy thing) then leave out the LSA mix and add an extra 2 tbsp wholemeal self raising flour. That keeps them nut free and school lunch-box-friendly.

Coconut pepita and chia seed biscuits with dark chocolate

Ingredients

100g butter

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2tbsp hot water

160g wholemeal self raising flour

2 tbsp LSA mix (ground linseed, sunflower and almonds)

80g brown sugar

60g shredded coconut

70g pepita seeds

80g dark chocolate bits, plus extra for melting if desired

Pre heat oven to 175C OR 155C fan forced. Place the butter, honey, chia seeds, bi carb and hot water in a small saucepan. Stir over a medium heat till butter melts. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

Place the wholemeal flour, LSA mix, brown sugar, shredded coconut, pepita seeds and chocolate bits in a medium size bowl, stir till well combined. Make a well in the center of the flour.  When the butter mixture has cooled add to the flour mixture and stir till dough comes together.

Line two trays with baking paper. Take a spoon of biscuit mix and roll it into a ball, place it on the lined tray then use your finger tips and palm of hand to flatten to a circular shape. Continue with remaining mix till all biscuits are rolled and flattened.

Bake in the oven for 18 – 20 minutes, or till golden and cooked through. Cool biscuits on a wire rack. If you are drizzling with the extra chocolate – this is optional and feel free to skip this step – place melted chocolate in a snap lock bag, snip off the end, and drizzle biscuits in a zig zag manner. Allow chocolate to set. Store the cold biscuits in an airtight container for 5-6 days.

Dukkah – The King of Spice Blends

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There are days where the craving for freshly made dukkah is so strong that I find no satisfaction till a batch is roasted, pounded, and then eaten whilst still warm. 

It has to be said, possibly the best way to enjoy duukah is with bread and extra virgin olive oil. It certainly is the way I most often consume it. But I also value dukkah for its versatility. Once I have a batch made the remainder stores well and can be sprinkled on vegetables before roasting, used as a seasoning to salads, dusted on to meat or fish before cooking, it can be used in dressings, added to yoghurt… I find it such a useful flavouring for so many things that is a staple in my kitchen.

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I prefer my dukkah made with hazelnuts. Added to the roasted spices of coriander, cumin, sesame, and black pepper, I add dry roasted hazelnuts (this saves roasting and peeling them). You can swap the hazelnuts for pistachios, or for a less authentic offering, macadamia nuts also makes a nice blend.

I’ve used a mix of black sesame and white sesame seeds because I like the contrast. Plus, I had them in the cupboard – they needed using up. But generally white sesame seeds are the go. The remaining, and just as important ingredient, is sea salt. And it should be sea salt, don’t swap this for any thing else.

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The recipe has deliberately been kept to a smallish amount so you use the dukkah up while it’s fresh. It’s so simple to make and really takes no time at all, and can and should be made regularly.

Egyptian dukkah 

Ingredients 

1/4 cup dry roasted hazelnuts

1 tbsp white sesame seeds

1tbsp black sesame seeds

1 tbsp cumin seeds

2 tbsp coriander seeds

1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns

1/2 tsp sea salt

Place the sesame seeds, spices and peppercorns into a fry pan. Roast them on a medium heat till the spices begin to sizzle and pop – don’t walk away at this stage as it won’t take long.

Roughly chop the dry roasted hazelnuts and place in a mortar and pestle with the roasted spices and sea salt; alternatively use a spice grinder. Pound or grind to a coarse consistency – remember to keep it chunky. Check seasoning.

Serve with fresh Lebanese bread and extra virgin olive oil. Store remaining dukkah in an air tight container in the pantry for 2 weeks.

(C) Copy right: Food From Michelle’s Kitchen 2016 Egyptian dukkah

How To Activate nuts

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I’m excited about activated nuts. Not just because their goodness can be more easily absorbed by the body after activation, but because they taste so good!

I’ll tell you a bit about the health side in a minute, but activated nuts have a depth of flavour I’m not sure any other roasted nut can deliver. Have you tried them?

Basically, activated nuts become ‘activated’ after being soaked in salted water for 12 – 24 hours, then drained and slow dried in a low oven, or dehydrator.

Put simply, soaking the nuts increases the nutrient content by breaking down the enzymes that inhibit the bodies potential to absorb the good stuff from the nuts. These same enzymes also build up and can make digestion sluggish. See, there’s good reason to this time consuming method. After the soaking, and slow drying, the nuts are’activated’. The body can draw more nutrients from them and digest them easier too – sounds good to me!

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This method will work with all types of nuts. Almonds are incredibly popular to activate and so are macadamia nuts, and brazil nuts. Some of the drying times will vary though with the different nuts so it’s best to soak and dry them separately.

Plan ahead. Get your nuts soaking for 12 – 24 hours, and then be home on a day where they can slowly dry out on the lowest heat your oven can muster (about 65C) That’s it! Work done! They’re worth the wait.

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 Activated pecans and walnuts

Ingredients 

300g organic walnuts

300g organic pecans

2 tsp salt

Water to cover

To serve 

1 cup organic sultanas or organic raisins – optional

Place walnuts in a large bowl, cover with water, add 1 tsp of salt and stir till dissolved.  Repeat the same process with the pecans, soak them in a large separate bowl with the remaining salt. Set both bowls aside on the kitchen bench and soak for 12 – 24 hours ( I soaked mine for 12 hours, but have also been told, up to 24 hours is better for releasing more nutrients).

Once soaking is done, set oven to the lowest setting – 65C. Drain nuts well. Line two trays with baking paper and spread nuts onto separate trays, dry for 6 – 8 hours (mine dried for 6.5 hours and were perfect). Remove from oven and set aside to cool completely before storing in air tight containers.

For a sweet healthy snack – take 1 cup of cooled walnuts, 1 cup of cooled pecans and mix with 1 cup of organic raisins or sultanas.