Nut Job

A few weeks ago I helped cater an event for a healthy school lunch program in New York City. I was there putting my best face—and food—forward for the Natural Kitchen Cooking School (www.naturalkitchenschool.com). I like to volunteer my chef skills because no one at home eats my food (blame it on work-in-progress palettes) and I have a strong need to feed. And I’m so glad I did because I have never gotten such great feedback. Even among such healthy heavy hitters as Candle Café, the V-Spot in Brooklyn, Sacred Chow, Stogo Organic Dairy-free ice cream (just like the real thing, I swear), and Henry’s landmark restaurant on 105th street (do try their kale salad), to name a few, we held our own hawking…wait for it…nut balls! The chowhounds at the party came back for seconds, even thirds. And one very enthusiastic young woman said we had the best food, but I think she may have eaten one too many because she was starting to act a little, um…nutty. Anyway, we’ll take it. I had leftovers the next day and brought them to yoga class. Needless to say they flew out of there faster than you can say, “crow.” So I am happy to pass along this ridiculously easy to make, no-bake snack from the Natural Kitchen Cooking School, complete with the tastiest green drink you will ever try. Pinky swear.

Date-Nut balls

We used pecans but you can use whatever nuts you like.

 

Ingredients:

 

10 pitted dates

 

1 cup raw pecans

 

1 heaping teaspoon of cocoa powder

 

To start, count out about 10 dates and place them in a bowl. Soak the dates in water. The idea is to soften the dates so that they are easily blended into a soft paste.

 

  1. Measure out a cup of raw pecans and put them in a food processor. A strong blender might also work, but for this recipe, a food processor works best. If you have trouble digesting nuts, soak them in water overnight, strain, and dry with a towel before proceeding.
  2. Process pecans on low or using a pulse setting until they’re nicely ground. You don’t want to make pecan butter- you’re looking for nicely ground pecans.
  3. Add a heaping teaspoon of quality cocoa powder. If you don’t enjoy chocolate, it’s fine to skip this step. Blend or pulse for another few seconds to bring ground nuts and cocoa powder together.
  4. Add soaked and mildly crushed dates to the mix. It’s best to add a little water to this recipe to create proper texture. You can lightly shake the dates as you get them out of the bowl of water, give them a gentle mush with your fingers, and add them slightly wet to the ground pecans.
  5. Process on low or using the pulse setting until the dates and pecans come together. You want the texture to be such that you can pinch off teaspoon-size chunks and roll them up with your palms into bite-size balls. If need be, add another mushed-up date or two, but always be conservative in adding extra dates, as once the mixture gets too moist, it’s very difficult to fix by adding more nuts.

 

  • For variety, roll in some dried coconut, cocoa powder, toasted sesame seeds, cinnamon or add another type of raw nut or dried fruit.

 

Dandelion-Apple Smoothie

 

Ingredients:

 

2 cups fresh apple juice

 

½ cup chopped dandelion greens

 

Procedure:

 

Liquefy apple juice and dandelion greens together in a blender.

 

*From The Natural Gourmet Institute, Annie Kunjappy

 

COMING SOON… GUEST EDITOR. Get ready to BE INSPIRED!

 

Here I am offering the aforementioned nut balls with my food partner-in-crime Momo Kajiwara, a graduate of the Natural Kitchen Cooking School who now works as a private chef. It's unfortunate that fashion and food prep are mutually exclusive. At least that's my excuse.


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