Sweet Cashew Stuffed Dates

This recipe is one of my favourites- as it is sweet & filling, but has no added sugar or anything unhealthy in it. The homemade cashew butter is so easy, much tastier than anything shop bought, and because it’s made at home you know it doesn’t contain heaps of sugar. I’ve noticed an influx of different types of butters (I feel the name ‘nut butters’ may not be appropriate!) in the shops (Hazelnut, 3 nut, cashew etc.) but it’s very easy and much cheaper to make your own at home.

My Granny used to make stuffed dates for us on numerous occasions- hers would always be stuffed with homemade marzipan and some kind of nuts for topping- similar to this one, but this one is without the marzipan, and with some tasty cashew butter instead- which is sugar free & full of protein.

There aren’t many ingredients required for this recipe, as it’s such a simple one. It is worth stating that the amount of cashews I’ve suggested will make a small jar of cashew butter- so you will have enough to make this recipe multiple times. You will also therefore need an empty jar (with lid) for storing your cashew butter. This jar should be extremely clean & sterilised, as any residue in the jar will encourage the growth of bacteria- which is obviously not desirable!

So you will need:

4-5 Medjool Dates (Morrisons are my favourite)

200g Cashew Nuts (Makes more than needed)

Handful of hazelnuts

Ingredients.2E

*Optional- Walnut Oil if Cashew butter is difficult to blend.

The first step is to toast your cashews. I set the oven to 180°c, as although it’s very hot, you spend less time waiting around for them to toast! Once your oven is hot, pop in the cashews for about 1 minute- watching them like a hawk! These things burn extremely fast, so keep an eye on them at all times. After a minute, depending on your oven, take them out and shuffle them about with a spoon, so all all the sides get equal cooking. Then keep toasting them for 1 minute intervals until their done. They won’t turn brown but may look very slightly darker. The best way to find out is of course to taste one. If it tastes creamy and rich without the raw taste then it’s done. Repeat the process with the hazelnuts- which should have a distinct toasted hazelnut flavour when their cooked.

Hazelnuts.1E

My favourite part is next- making the cashew butter! Load your cashews into the blender of your choice. I used a ‘bullet’ type blender, (one I got for Christmas, and am so far loving- thanks guys!) and it worked well. I would say the optimum blender would be a solid food processor. You must have a blender that is quite sturdy for this- one way of telling is if it  can blend ice easily. Hand blenders are not recommended for this as they generally can’t cope (from my own experience using them).

When blending you will have to scrape down the sides of your blender a lot, and keep mixing it when scraping to ensure there are no stray cashews trying to escape being blended. The first step is this cashew ‘dust’ and then eventually it starts to come together as it blends further.

Blender.2EA shot of the blended cashews before they form the cashew butter:

 

Blended.1E.I have made cashew butter a number of times, and sometimes it will blend into a smooth paste no problem, but other times it needs help to blend. If your cashews aren’t blending into a paste you can add a small amount of walnut oil- or any oil you prefer (eg. Coconut) just not olive oil (for taste reasons).

I added approx. 1.5 teaspoons of walnut oil to my cashew butter to help the blending process.

Once the cashew butter is made, it is simply a case of chopping the roasted hazelnuts (or leave some whole if preferred) and slicing the dates to be stuffed.

Chopping.1E

Then fill the dates with your cashew butter, top with the hazelnuts and eat!

Fin.Ed.1

Miso Soup – The Winter Edition

As it’s now well into winter, I’ve been wanting my meals to warm me up as well as being filling & healthy. Sort of like a type of healthy comfort food. I thought Miso would be perfect for this, as it’s something I’ve always enjoyed eating- but also it’s very quick to prepare. Traditional miso soup usually consists of having simply the soup itself, with some tofu and spring onions. However I needed something more substantial- so I used shredded chicken (in place of traditional tofu) along with langoustines as I had a heavy day in the gym planned (Muay Thai night!) so was requiring a solid dose of protein. Also the langoustines were reduced and I was too tempted.

I actually think this is brilliant for using up veg in your fridge, or using up reduced price veg- as really it’s totally customisable depending on your preferences. I didn’t use Dashi to make this, even though it’s traditional, as I wanted this to be something that was really easy to make. In Scotland Dashi isn’t something that you can pop down to the shops to pick up, unless of course you’re lucky enough to have a stockist nearby.
The ingredients needed are:

Ingredients.Miso.Ed

1 x Nest of Whole-wheat noodles (any thickness is fine)
1 x Chicken Breast- of medium size (or bigger if you’re particularly hungry!)
2 x Spring Onions
½ Long Slim Red Pepper
2 Baby Leeks (Or roughly ¼ of a regular leek)
Serving of chickpeas (I used this as I had some leftover, you can substitute with whatever you have)
5 x Langoustines
2.5 Heaped/Generous teaspoons of Miso paste.
Pepper to taste. (Miso provides the saltiness, but extra salt can be added if you prefer)

The first part of the recipe is to cook the chicken breast (grilled or steamed) so it’s just done. Then taking two forks, shred it into rough pieces. It’s important not to shred the chicken too finely, otherwise it tends to “get lost” in the soup. This should be set aside for now. The spring onions and red pepper should be chopped into the size you prefer at this point, so they are ready to be added later.

Next, cook through the raw ingredients. At this point, the quantity of water needed should be the amount needed to cook- not the amount for the quantity of soup needed. Boil the water in a pan, and add in the noodles first. After they are part cooked, add in the Langoustines, leeks, and chickpeas. Boil these for a minute or two- not long at all- as they will continue cooking when you turn off the heat.

Leeks.Ed.

Once nearly cooked, turn off the heat so you’re ready to add the miso. The heat is turned off, as you shouldn’t add miso to boiling water, but also you don’t want anything to be overcooked & rubbery. I like to add the pre- cooked shredded chicken here, as it heats it up nicely.

The Miso paste is next, however the excess water in the pan should be drained out to reach the volume of water required for your serving of soup. Make sure your langoustines are still covered by the water, so the residual heat cooks them through perfectly.

Miso.Ed

I stirred the miso paste into the water until it dissolved, but the traditional Japanese way works better- using a sieve to dissolve it into the hot water to ensure there are no lumps. At this point I like to add some coarse ground black pepper too, but this is optional. You could also add a sliced chilli if you wanted something a little hotter.

Lastly, add the spring onion and red pepper, and serve immediately!

Finshed.Shot2.Ed

Note: Click on the images for larger version in more detail.

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