Whatever your reasons for celebration this past Sunday, we can all attest to the fact that holidays are challenging. Not just allergen-free families face these challenges, but vegans, vegetarians, paleos, dieters, just about everyone who has taken a step toward a healthier lifestyle has their own obstacles to overcome each month. Perhaps the most challenging part of these highly anticipated days, is what American culture has done to them. October begins and with it, the countdown to the most sugar-filled day of the year, which is only the beginning of four more months laced with gluten and dairy, sugar and chocolate, heartburn and weight gain. It’s hard enough as adults trying to side step the bowl of halloween candy that sits in the kitchen until Thanksgiving rounds the corner and we toss the bowl, only to fill it with cupcakes that look like turkeys and taste like cavities. We finish off the treats just in time for the annual Christmas cookie contest at Aunt Nora’s. By the time Christmas actually comes around, we’ve all entered sugar-induced comas, force-feeding ourselves for next few days at mom’s, then Grandma’s and finally at home for our own personal leftover party that lasts well into the new year. All the while telling our children to step away from the treats and have a carrot.
We somehow survive until February, and now we’re proclaiming love for everyone around us just for an excuse to give and receive more chocolate. We’re physically addicted to anything that comes wrapped in foils of pink and purple and gold and we remind ourselves that it’s winter, it’s okay, bathing suit season is far away, I’ll just eat this bag of caramel hearts and start my diet on Monday.
And here we are, almost through April, almost rid of the winter insulation we packed on, and the Easter bunny knocks on our door asking us to give in just one more time. To wear comfortable pants, shovel four times our average calorie intake onto our plate and create diabetes-baskets for our children. It’s a twisted chain of events and we’re almost all guilty of it. What’s worse, our children have begun to not only expect a treat-filled holiday, but demand it. I’ll admit I woke up yesterday morning with a pang of disappointment that my mother no longer put together a basket of sugar for me. And I’m 23.
The balance of health and holidays is probably the most difficult one to find and maintain because it is constant and concrete. As soon as one ends, the countdown to the next begins. If we’re lucky, we spend two months in a year not planning for, celebrating or cleaning up after a holiday that has been designed for the taste-buds.
This year, I anticipated Easter with new anxieties. I wanted to enjoy dessert, but I wanted it to fit my new needs. As luck would have it, I stumbled upon a pie that looked beautiful, tasted light, left my stomach happy and the ingredients would please every paleo while the taste would please any non-paleo crowd. I hope this recipe can do something wonderful for you.
Raw Chocolate Cashew Dreamcake
~Adapted from My New Roots *Contains no dairy, gluten, grains, refined sugar or soy **Contains tree nuts
- 1/2 cup raw almonds (pecan or walnuts will also work)
- 1/2 cup soft Medjool dates
- ¼ tsp. sea salt
- 1 ½ cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 5 hours, overnight is best
- juice of 2 lemons
- the seeds of 1 whole vanilla bean (or 1 tsp. alcohol-free vanilla extract)
- 1/3 cup raw coconut oil, melted
- 1/3 cup raw honey (solid or liquid.)(Vegans use agave nectar.)
- 1 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips (dairy, soy & nut free)
- Place almonds and dates in a food processor with sea salt and pulse to chop until they are to your desired fineness (process a finer crust longer than a chunky one). Test the crust by spooning out a small amount of mixture and rolling it in your hands. If the ingredients hold together, your crust is perfect. Scoop out crust mixture in a 9” spring-form pan (if you don’t have a spring-form pan, use a pie plate lined with saran wrap), and press firmly, making sure that the edges are well packed and that the base is relatively even throughout. Rinse food processor well.
- Warm coconut oil and honey in a small saucepan on low heat until liquid. Whisk to combine.
- In the most powerful food processor / blender you own (you decide which one has the most torque) place all filling ingredients (except chocolate chips) and blend on high until very smooth (this make take a couple minutes so be patient). If you have a Vita-Mix, absolutely use it.
- Pour about 2/3 of the mixture out onto the crust and smooth with a spatula. Melt chocolate chips and pour them into the remaining filling and blend on high until smooth. Pour this mixture onto the first layer of filling. Place in freezer until solid.
- To serve, remove from freezer 30 minutes prior to eating. Run a smooth, sharp knife under hot water and cut into slices. Serve on its own, or with fresh fruit. Freeze leftovers.
Sadly, my niece is allergic to nuts and her mother was unable to enjoy this treat as she is still breast feeding. It’s true, not every recipe I provide will adhere to every allergy, but eventually, my hope is to feed every family with my assortment of recipe findings and creations. I’m off to begin Memorial Day cookout plans!
Download the .pdf version of this recipe: Raw Chocolate Cashew Dreamcake
Jenna comes to the Frugal Flambe with delicious allergen-free recipes for the busy family. A writer (see her blog: The Paleo Project) and experimental photographer, after several years of food sensitivity and skin problems, Jenna decided to begin a paleolithic lifestyle. Paleo eaters tend to stick to the pre-agriculture food groups: meat and fish, vegetables and fruits, healthy fats, nuts and herbs. No sugar, no dairy, no grains, no legumes, no peanuts, nothing processed. Just whole, organic, healthy foods that work well with the human body, eliminate auto-immune diseases and improve food related ailments. This allergen-free diet is Jenna’s new way of life and she is constantly teaching herself new ways to cook and feed her body what it needs. Every Wednesday, she’ll share her her dishes with families who suffer from allergies, or people who are looking to change their eating habits. No sugar? No dairy? No grain? No problem!