As a child it would be fair to say I had a few food related issues. I liked to eat and was an adventurous eater compared to some children, but the seed of healthful eating had been planted early on. I remember asking my mother before I tried something new like an avocado or a zucchini, “Is it good for me?” I would probably have eaten anything had I believed it was good for me. I don’t think I was motivated by a desire to be thinner – body consciousness had not yet become a catch phrase at the tender age of 7 or 8 or 9 – rather I was aware of having healthy insides. The body is a temple, as my father says.
Fast food very rarely tempted me as a child, in fact I was known to pale and dry retch at the thought of McDonald’s or Burger King. I couldn’t go to the movies for a while due to the hideous smell of butter popcorn and the thought of sitting in a movie theatre with chocolate and greasy hands. After birthday or sleep over parties, days and nights spent gorging on cake, lollies, chips and fizzy drinks, I would come home feeling like I needed a cold shower, to go for a 100 kilometre run and to eat nothing but raw carrot sticks for a week. I felt I needed to redeem myself in some way, to take care of my body. Instead, possibly trying to instill a sense of rationality and moderation in her children, my mother would feed us a bowl of mashed vegetables – potato, carrot, pumpkin, cauliflower, broccoli, sometimes blanched spinach streaked throughout. We felt better instantly.
These days, this need for cleansing food comes around less often mostly because I have a natural inclination towards salads and lean proteins. I enjoy eating well. But working in the hospitality sector can be challenging in trying to have some sense of control over what and when I eat. Sometimes the food is just so damn good I really do need two helpings of chocolate mousse cake for dinner. And other times I find myself nibbling on bread crusts and that’s that.
Working at Big Bad Wolf Charcuterie is wonderful. The sausages, terrines, dried and cured meats, pork pies and spit roast pork sandwiches are the best around, and when people say gosh, it must be great to work here, it really, really is. But I’m exhausting myself living on a diet of meat, meat and more meat. Sausages for breakfast – I want to try them all – tomato, beef and bacon; pork and fennel; pork, watercress, anchovy and potato; beef, cheddar and caper. The day I had the Big Bad Blood sausage for breakfast (kidney, heart and liver) was a wild day indeed. But now is the time to bring a little greenery and, that all important word, moderation into my diet.
This blog is not motivated by a specific diet, vegetarianism, veganism, a carb free diet, or low fat. This is not a space to extol the virtues of healthy eating, for while they are numerous and important, this blog and my food is dictated by taste. This space is for the appreciation of all good food – the fruit and vegetables, the fish and seafood, the nuts and grains, yoghurt and ice cream, the cakes and sweet treats, the dinner meals; light soups or salads alongside the heavier stews or highly spiced curries or pastas. Moderation is the name of the game.
So today, I made these fruit and nut truffles – vegan, dairy and gluten free. These baby truffles are sweet with dried fruit, with the slight crunch of sesame seeds and blitzed almonds, the faint creaminess of coconut milk and all wrapped up with the bitterness of cocoa. These baby truffles are my re-aquaintance with a different way of cooking and a different way of eating. It helps that they are bite sized, perfect for a little sweet treat.
There is something so festive about truffles coated in cocoa, chopped nuts or dessicated coconut. The truffles sit beside me as I type and I can smell their nutty, bitter aroma. We always make several types of truffles for Christmas. This year I’m adding these to the list for moderation applies at Christmas, too.
Fruit and Nut Truffles
A quick note on the dried fruit: Soak in hot water for 10 or so minutes, then drain but reserve a tablespoon of the soaking liquid. Also, I used one third of a cup of raw almonds as that is all I had. A half cup would be fine, possibly even better. On that note, feel free to play with the fruit and nut varieties and quantities.
1 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/3 cup raw almonds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
4 tablespoons ground almonds
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut cream – the thick layer from the top of the can
zest of half a lemon
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
Blitz the almonds in a food processor until finely chopped. Pour into a mixing bowl with the sesame seeds, ground almonds and cinnamon. Mix well.
Place the soaked fruit in the processor with the tablespoon of reserved soaking liquid and the vanilla extract. Pulse until the fruit is nearly a paste. Spoon into the bowl with the almonds and seeds. Add the coconut cream and grated lemon zest and mix until thoroughly combined.
Place the cocoa powder on a plate and roll each truffle into a tiny bite sized ball – they are quite sweet so you don’t need a lot. Roll the truffle through the cocoa powder. Once all the truffles are coated keep truffles refrigerated.
Serve as an after dinner sweet treat with tea, or during the day as a little pick-up.