Arts
4:14 pm
Tue March 5, 2013

Healthy Sweet Treats

I'm Maria Filosa from WDIY and you are listening to Tasty Seasonal Recipes for the Everyday Chef. Lately I've been trying to add more healthy treats to our household and I've come up with a few that would be perfect for a tea party, a birthday gift or even Easter. Now don't panic, I still use chocolate in my recipes but I've added a healthy flair to the mix.

I've recently discovered that I can purchase freeze dried fruit in bulk on the internet. Now don't confuse freeze dried with dehydrated. Both are great for preserving fruits and vegetables but the freeze dried process produces a crunchy texture that's just perfect for snacking. I've tried blueberries, strawberries, cherries, apricots, bananas, raspberries and apples. They all taste great and can be added to ice cream, yogurt or just eaten by the handful but my favorite way of using them is with dark chocolate. I have taken a variety of freeze dried fruit and just dipped them in melted dark chocolate then I place them on some parchment paper to dry. You can decorate them with colored chocolate melted and squeezed from a bag or even some sprinkles. A few grains of Himalayan or Hawaiian rock salt on top will further enhance the taste of the chocolate. Gather them up and put them into a box tied with a pretty ribbon and you have a healthy, delicious gift perfect for your favorite person. Any of the freeze dried fruits will work with this process. You could also take that same fruit and put it into a grinder making it into a fruit powder then mix this with melted chocolate. Drop by teaspoons onto parchment paper to dry and top with another piece of fruit for decoration. How pretty!

For that gooey confection that you are longing for, I have a recipe for a chocolate cake that is actually good for you! There is no flour in this recipe, instead it uses a 15 ounce can of chick peas or garbanzo beans. This cake has both fiber and protein so there's no need for guilt when enjoying a chocolaty slice. You will need some type of high speed blender or food processor for this recipe. Drain and rinse your beans a few times then place them into the processor. Add four eggs, 1 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/2 cup of sugar. Blend until very smooth. Then add one and a half cups of melted dark chocolate to the mix. Blend again until everything is mixed well. Pour the batter into a greased pie pan or 8" x 8" square pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. This cake will rise slightly but then drop back down when cooled. At this point you could top it with whipped cream, frosting or just a sprinkle of powdered sugar. I know it sounds crazy but believe me it really works!

If you have an athlete in your life, my nut and seed bars will be a definite hit. In a large bowl, place 1/2 cup of EACH chopped almonds, walnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and shredded unsweetened coconut. To this add 2 cups of oatmeal. Mix these dry ingredients together. Then add 1/2 cup of honey and one egg. Make sure that all the dry ingredients are coated with the honey and egg mixture. Place a piece of parchment paper in the bottom of a 9" by 13" cookie sheet and pour the ingredients into the bottom of the pan. Use wet hands to push everything flat and spread it in the pan. Bake at 300 degrees for about 30 minutes. Check to make sure it doesn't burn after about 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes then cut it into squares. For an extra treat, dip each square into melted dark chocolate and let them dry on clean parchment paper. These are amazing and really good for you, too.

Don't have time to bake? Grab a box of store bought rice crackers and dip them into melted chocolate, lift each out with a fork and place on parchment paper to dry. Add a few squiggles of melted white or colored chocolate to the tops. You could even write an initial or draw a heart on each for a bit of fun. To do this, melt some chocolate wafers or pieces of candy bar in a bowl and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute until melted. Place the melted chocolate into a plastic bag then snip off one corner from the bag and squeeze the chocolate out. Don't make the hole too big or you won't be able to control how much comes out. This is an almost instant decorating tool.

Look around and I am sure you can find all kinds of healthy snacks that would benefit from a bit of chocolate coating like raisins, nuts, seeds, popcorn, fresh strawberries, dried cranberries and apricots. Any of them will be a hit.  I'm Maria Filosa, thanks for listening to Tasty Seasonal Recipes for the Everyday Chef, have a bountiful day!