Bliss Balls – The “Safe” Christmas Goodie

Christmas is called the “silly season” for a reason – many people overindulge in gift giving and in food eating, and in beverage drinking. We can find ourselves in so many situations to overindulge during the holiday season, so the little bits that we can do to make our choices healthier, the better. Of course, some people might think that this is the time “have a treat” or “forget the diet” – it’s only once a year! I’ve been so good! However, this thinking is likely to get us into trouble, as so many people websites blogs articles and discussions like to remind us.

If you haven’t heard of bliss balls before, then their name gives them away – they are bliss! Little bites of heavenly bliss! These bliss balls are very quick and easy to make – the preparation time is less than 15 minutes (depending on how quickly you can roll the balls) and there is no cooking time. If you have a surprise visitor, these can be made on the spot and can be eaten immediately – no refrigeration necessary! If there are some left over, though, they should be refrigerated.

On that note, let me introduce this post’s recipe: easy-peasy bliss balls. Really. They are easy and they are pure bliss! You can use this recipe as a base and adjust the ingredients to what you feel like eating – but try this one first. It really is amazingly easy and simple to make – and delicious – and relatively good for you!

Easy-peasy Bliss Balls

Easy-peasy Bliss Balls

Makes approximately 20 large balls.

Ingredients
1 cup almonds
1 cup chopped dried dates, soaked (or medjool dates)
1 cup desiccated coconut
cinnamon {optional}
a little extra coconut to coat the balls {optional}

Method

  1. Blend almonds until smooth.
  2. Add coconut and dates to the mixture and blend until combined and the mixture reaches the desired texture. {My texture is rather smooth and almost creamy – they melt in my mouth!}
  3. Roll into balls. {Hint: Wear food preparation gloves to make this easier and less sticky.}
  4. Coat with desiccated coconut for a gentle look. {optional}
  5. Refrigerate if not eaten immediately. Technically, they will last for a few days (4~7 days), but I’ve never been able to test this – they disappear too quickly!

Options

  • Roll in shredded coconut to finish.
  • Substitute other nuts and/or seeds for the almonds.
  • Choose a different dried fruit for a sweeter flavour (e.g. apricots or figs) or a sharper taste (e.g. apple or papaya).
  • Add some more flavour with spices (e.g. nutmeg and cinnamon) or carob powder (although this will dry the mixture, so you may need to add the date water) or vanilla essence or other flavours to your taste.

Warning: They are good – you may need to practice restraint! 🙂

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Asparagus Frittata

Sometimes I just don’t want to cook – I get lazy, I get tired, I get busy. But as long as I have a few staple ingredients around, then I can whip up a simple frittata. This is one of my basic recipes for those nights when I’m just too tired to think of anything else. All it takes is about 30 minutes (or less) and six or seven simple ingredients, depending on how adventurous I get. After the recipe, I’ll share some easy variations and considerations so that every frittata will be a different one!

slice of asparagus frittata (close up)

Asparagus Frittata

Ingredients
1 bunch of fresh asparagus
1 medium onion
6~8 eggs (depending on the size of the frying pan)
1/2 can coconut cream
salt & pepper to taste
herbs (optional; fresh or dried)
goat’s cheese (goat fetta is okay; I prefer firm goat cheese)
oil/butter for sautéing

Method

  1. Wash and cut asparagus into 1~2 cm lengths; remember to remove the bottoms as they won’t cook well and don’t taste as great. Dice the onion into 0.5 cm squares (roughly!). Place the asparagus and onion into a non-stick frying pan and gently sauté in oil or butter until onion is clear and asparagus is soft (approx. 10 mins).
  2. While the asparagus and onion are sautéing, beat the eggs in a large bowl, then add the coconut cream and mix well. Also add in the salt, pepper, and herbs. You should have a nice egg mixture that looks a little creamy, but is not too eggy or too watery. If it is too watery, add another egg (otherwise it won’t set when cooked).
  3. Once the asparagus and onion are sautéd, add the egg mixture to the frying pan and mix gently so that the asparagus and onion are mixed through the egg mixture and not just sitting at the bottom of the frying pan. Let it cook on a low heat until the mixture is about 3/4 solid.
  4. When about 1 cm of liquid mixture remains on the top, add a little cheese if you like. (This will help give the top a nice crispy finish, as well as allowing the top to brown more evenly.) Remove frying pan from stovetop and place it under a hot grill with the surface about 8 cm from the heat source. Cook it here for about 5 mins until the frittata is cooked on top, but keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn. It will also brown at during this stage, so just watch and rotate the frying pan as needed in order to have a consistent color.
  5. Once cooked, remove and serve. Be warned: the frying pan handle may be hot, so use a kitchen glove or wet towel to remove from under the grill.

Serving suggestion: A quick fresh garden salad with lettuce, tomato, and cucumber can be prepared while frittata is on the stovetop.

Variations & Notes

  • Add goat cheese to the egg mixture to give it a smoother texture when cooked.
  • Use fresh parsley and coriander for a nice herb flavor.
  • Use this recipe as a base, and experiment with different vegetables or more vegetables, if you like (and then adjust the amount of eggs accordingly so that it still fits in the frying pan). I have used a combination of zucchini and roasted sweet potato in another incarnation of this recipe; I’ve also used simply roasted pumpkin and goat’s fetta.
  • Adjust the amount of eggs depending on the size of your frying pan; smaller frying pans need fewer eggs. Don’t just use more coconut cream to make more egg mixture as it may not set as easily. For example, if you are using a ⌀30 cm frying pan, you’ll need about 10 eggs and a little more coconut cream.
  • Use coconut cream, not coconut milk. Coconut cream will result in a creamy texture and flavour, whereas coconut milk will not set as well and will be too watery.

Pumpkin & feta frittata

Falafel: Egyptian Style

I have a small addiction to falafel. Seriously. Wherever I go, I want to try falafel. It doesn’t matter how dodgy they look – as long as they are called falafel or tammeya, I’m going to try it. I’ve had some amazing falafel, and some terrible falafel. I’ve had falafel in Australia, Nepal, Egypt, Jordan, the UAE, Turkey, Canada, and numerous other countries – so many that I can’t think of them all. I’ve been so desperate that I’ve even attempted to make falafel – packet mixes, Lebanese style, Egyptian style, “Middle Eastern” style… You name it, I’ve tried it.

Then, one day, I was introduced to the “family recipe” by my Prince‘s mother. Oh, boy! How simply delightful they were! The recipe was basic enough for me to attempt and although we had a language barrier, I could smell the ingredients and spices so I knew what to use. It looked easy; it looked like something I could achieve at home. Ha! Little did I know…

I wrote down the recipe; I watched it being made; I made it, even. If my Prince’s father can make them, then surely I could, too. I was wrong. So very wrong. I tried and I tried and I tried. I called and asked for help; I got the ingredients “just right”; I even visited my Prince’s mother again to check that I was getting it right! (Note: She lives halfway around the world; of course, this was not the only reason I visited her, but it was high up there on my list!) No matter what I did, I couldn’t do it “right”. So, I put it down to just having different ingredients. Yep, it wasn’t me – it was the ingredients that were available to me. That sounded like just the right excuse.

Until. Until my Prince made them for me here. It’s taken three or four attempts, but tonight he perfected the Falafel: Egyptian Style. Oh my, they are so good~ My dinner was completely falafel – nothing more, nothing less. I could eat them endlessly! Yes, I burnt my mouth eating them too quickly! The taste was partly amazing because my Prince used herbs fresh from the garden, but it was just so amazing! The falafel tonight were honestly the best I’ve had so far – and I’ve eaten a lot of falafel!

So, the recipe – should you care to try it. It looks “simple” and “easy”, but it takes time, patience, and some more patience to get it “just right”. Here goes…

Falafel - Egyptian Style

Falafel: Egyptian Style

Ingredients

  • 1 kg crushed broad beans, soaked
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 bunch each fresh mint, coriander, and leeks
  • 1/2 head garlic
  • 1 large onion
  • salt
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons dried coriander
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper (optional)
  • 1 egg
  • Pinch of bi-carb soda (optional: will make them rise more)
  • Sesame seeds
  • Oil for deep frying

Method

  1. Soak crushed broad beans for 12 hours, then strain.
  2. Chop greens, garlic, and onion. Grind all ingredients well using an electric grinder.
  3. Season mix with salt, cumin, dried coriander, and red pepper. Refrigerate.
  4. Beat egg and add to mixture immediately before frying. Add bi-carb soda if using.
  5. Shape into patties and lightly dip each side in sesame seeds. Alternatively, add the sesame seeds to the mixture when you add the egg.
  6. Deep fry in hot oil (about 5 cm deep). You will need to turn them over halfway through frying.

Note: You can keep the mixture in several small bags in the freezer and use them as needed. Do not add the egg before freezing.