October 9, 2010

Chocolate Cherry Nut Truffles and a Month of Unprocessed Foods

So maybe I’m a little ahead of myself here. Nut truffles are something I usually think of when the holidays are nearing. But they’ll be here all too soon, won’t they? This year, I’ll be more than prepared. (And now, perhaps, so will you.)

Truffles aren’t a new treat. They’ve been around for a long time; given as gifts during the holidays, gracing a dessert table, or made as a decadent treat. What’s so great about these nut truffles? They’re not sugar-laden, diabetic coma-inducing, nutritionally-deficient treats. These truffles are a good source of protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and fiber. But don’t tell that to your taste buds – because as far as they’re concerned, these are chocolate. And chocolate is an indulgence. Something to be savored. So savor these truffles. You deserve it, and your body will thank you.

Chocolate Cherry Nut Truffles

1/2 c raw cashews

1/2 c raw almonds

1/2 c pitted dates

1/4 c all-natural almond butter (I make my own)

2 T unsweetened cocoa powder

pinch of salt

1 T agave nectar

1/2 T vanilla extract

3/4 c dried cherries

1/4 c dairy-free chocolate chips

Additional cocoa powder for dusting 

Place the cashews and almonds in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the “S” blade. Process until nuts are finely ground. Add dates and process until no large chunks remain. Add almond butter, cocoa powder, agave and vanilla and process to combine. Add dried cherries and chocolate chips and process until no large chunks remain.

Spread out a bit of cocoa powder on a plate. Using a teaspoon, scoop out some of the truffle mixture and form into a ball by rolling gently in your hands. Roll the truffle in the cocoa powder and shake off any excess. Set aside and repeat with remaining truffle mixture. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours or until ready to serve. Can be made several days ahead.

Makes about 35-40 truffles.

 

Can you imagine going for an entire month without eating processed foods? For most average Americans, eating processed foods is a standard way of life. We all know that the added preservatives, artificial colors, flavors, and refined sugars and flours aren’t good for our bodies. But it’s become so common, so everyday, so normal to eat these foods, that for most, going without eating processed foods for a month is a real challenge. But it’s a challenge worth taking. Over at Eating Rules, you can sign up to take the challenge, and forgo eating processed foods for the entire month of October. I’ve signed up. Don’t worry that October has already started – you can still join in. But you won’t be left in the cold, wondering how to go about this process. There are daily posts sharing recipes and ideas on how to eat without resorting to those plastic-wrapped, boxed, or fast food meals. I encourage you to check it out. Even if you can’t wrap your head around the idea of going totally unprocessed, then make a goal of going unprocessed for one meal a day. Or one day a week. Whatever works for you. The idea is to make an effort to become more aware of what you eat.

I began eating less and less processed foods around the time I went gluten-free. When you eat a gluten-free diet, you already have to scrutinize labels of every packaged food in order to ensure you are eating safely. Consequentially, it increases awareness. I suddenly started becoming really aware of all the crap I was eating. Yes, crap. I couldn’t tell you what a lot of those ingredients listed on the packages were, or what they did. Most labels sound more like a science experiment than actual food. I began learning more and more in the kitchen, and realized that with a little planning, I could simply do without the junk, and instead focus on whole, natural, unprocessed foods. I would make my own (healthier) version if I had a craving.

So, what do I eat? I get this question a lot from people when they find out that I eat gluten-free and dairy-free. Well, I eat a wide variety of foods, and I promise you, I don’t feel deprived. (With chocolate cherry truffles lying around, it’s actually quite the opposite!) Here are a few typical meals that I eat fairly regularly:

Breakfast: cup of black coffee (maybe two)

 2 eggs scrambled with spinach and shiitake mushrooms (made the night before and reheated)

OR

2 hard-boiled eggs with a green smoothie (something like this or this)

Morning snack, if I’m hungry: handful of almonds, pumpkin seeds, or other nuts, gRAWnola, or sometimes, homemade beef jerky (yes, recipe coming soon!)

Lunch: leftovers from the night before

OR a sardine and avocado salad (my new favorite lunch!)

OR any other variety of salad consisting of greens, fresh veggies, a bit of chicken, and possibly some olives or pickled peppers, dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Afternoon snack, if I’m hungry: a piece of fruit, carrot and celery sticks, a handful of nuts, or beef jerky

Dinner: Lamb chops, a baked sweet potato, and steamed broccoli

OR Italian-style spaghetti squash

OR some type of chicken curry, like this recipe

What do I drink? Water. Lots of water. I also drink herbal teas, coffee, and black and green teas on occasion. And once in a while, a glass of wine or a gluten-free beer.

Most of the time, I cook in bulk for meals other than dinner. Sunday nights are usually my prepare-for-the-week nights. I make hard-boiled eggs. I cut up vegetables and place them in baggies. I cook chicken for salads. And then every night, as I’m making dinner, I organize our lunches (I pack lunches for my husband and myself) at the same time or afterwards. This makes it easy in the morning, and ensures we have enough nutritious, tasty food for the day.

Sure, it takes planning to eat unprocessed foods. It takes a bit of time, and it takes getting used to, if this isn’t your normal routine. But once you get in the habit, it becomes second nature. But if you make a commitment, you just could start a new habit worth keeping!

19 Responses to “Chocolate Cherry Nut Truffles and a Month of Unprocessed Foods”

  1. Those truffles sound heavenly! I love the combination of dried cherries and chocolate. And the non-processed challenge sounds like fun–like you, I basically eat that way every day, anyway! Thanks for the info–I’m off to check it out! :)

  2. Nom!

  3. The truffles look wonderful! I love dates and nut and nut butter all rolled up. Never thought of adding vanilla and cherries. Bookmarked!

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  5. I think the challenge to eat less processed foods is one that we should all embrace. This is hard for many, especially those pressed for time. I think the key is to just start.

    This chocolate cherry nut truffle looks sensational and would be a wonderful item to serve over the holidays.

  6. I do try to stay away from processed foods. I just feel better. What a great challange.

    Your recipe here is going into my save box, it looks and sounds wonderful and perfect as you say for holiday fare.

  7. Mmmm. These look great! I love truffles – bite size bits o’ goodness.

  8. i love these even more knowing that you make your own almond butter!! thats fantastic!! :)

  9. Truffles are an any-time-of-year treat in my book! These sound like an almost healthy option.

  10. I’m all about the healthy and delicious chocolate truffle! These look divine, Alta. Why not enjoy them now?

    Kudos to you and others on doing the unprocessed month. Not sure I’ll sign up, but I’ll definitely do my best to abide. A quick read of the products usually reminds me why I don’t want to buy an item … just like you said.

    Thanks so much for the link love, too. I’m restocking on my greens today so I can make some great green smoothies the next few days. They totally energize me! :-)

    Shirley

  11. that looks delicious! I love dried cherries.

  12. WHOA! These truffles are out of control…and healthy for me too?!? Is it a dream??? They are stunning. But what is more impressive is your unprocessed food challenge….I have steadily been headed in that direction (eliminating the processed food), but can’t quite give up the potato chips…..I know I can make my own, but I’ve been slow on that boat. But I HAVE reduced the amount of potato chips I buy and have replaced a significant amount with oven fries. So! I am getting there – thanks for the inspiration!

  13. Oh yum! My daughter happened to be looking over my shoulder when I clicked on here this morning and announced “We are so making those for Christmas”. I’m not sure I can wait that long =)

  14. I love these truffles. This post is so helpful. I am supposed to add eggs back in my diet starting next week, as an experiment to see if I can tolerate them after avoiding them for 18 months. I hope that opens up more gluten-free dairy-free recipes to me that rely on a few eggs for heft. I made salmon cakes last night and tried a mixture of chickpea flour and Vegenaise as the binder, but honestly, I can’t wait for Sunday’s market so I can buy some local eggs and use those. I only use Vegenaise once in a great while (like every 2 or 3 months) but always wish I could just make a good basic egg mayo (a once in a blue moon craving) or use eggs as binder.

  15. still waiting on my sample…….

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