Whether you are a raw foodist, part of the popular Paleo brigade, going au naturel with your food or are on a sugar-free crusade, you don't have to miss out on the foodie festivities over Easter.
In fact, healthful eating can be a treat.
"At Easter, most people opt for the popular chocolate brands on the shelves that have been refined and processed to the point that anything remotely healthy has been removed," says nutritionist and author of Changing Habits Changing Lives Cyndi O'Meara. "Instead, why not make your own chocolate treats so you can ensure that you know exactly what you're eating."
We asked Cyndi and a handful of other healthful foodies to share their favourite Easter recipes. Warning: these taste naughty even though they're nice for our bodies.
*Sugar-free Ferrero Rochers
"Most store-bought chocolates also contain bad oils and additives, and retain less nutritional value than hand-crafted or homemade chocolate as the cacao has been heated and refined," says Sarah Wilson on I Quit Sugar. "The upshot: it's best to make your own chocolate."
If using bought chocolate for cooking, however, she suggests using the darkest chocolate you can find as it has the least amount of nasties and the highest cacao/cocoa content, which means added antioxidants.
Photography by Jane Costin
2 x 200g packet of hazelnuts
2 x 100g 85% dark chocolate
1 cup hazelnuts
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup rice malt syrup
1-2 tablespoons coconut milk
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
1 teaspoon vanilla powder
1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Place all hazelnuts (including ones for filling) on an oven tray. Cook for 8-10 minutes until roasted and skins are beginning to fall off. Cool slightly. Rub skins off using a tea towel.
2. Place 1 cup of hazelnuts and remaining filling ingredients in a food processor. Process until smooth.
3. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile place half of the remaining hazelnuts in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Place on a plate.
4. Roll filling mixture into balls and insert a whole hazelnut inside each ball working quickly so they don't melt. Place back in refrigerator for 1 hour.
5. Simmer some water in a saucepan on the stove top. Place a heatproof bowl on top and gently melt the chocolate (or melt chocolate in the microwave).
6. Dip refrigerated balls into melted chocolate to coat, then sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts and place back in refrigerator on a tray lined with baking paper. Allow to set for at least 2 hours.
*Paleo-inspired coconut choc fudge
"We love this recipe," say Scott Gooding and Luke Hines, authors of the Clean Living Cookbook. "You'd never guess it was healthy, it just tastes so good. It's clear proof that a healthy dessert really doesn't have to be bland or tasteless."
1 cup coconut oil, plus a little
extra to grease the tin
1 cup almond butter
1/2 cup shredded coconut, plus a little extra to sprinkle
1/2 cup rice malt syrup
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1/3 cup raw cacao powder
1/4 cup cacao nibs
Makes 16 pieces
1. Line the sides and base of a 20 cm square cake tin with baking paper or grease it with coconut oil.
2. Put your coconut oil, almond butter, shredded coconut, rice malt syrup and vanilla seeds in a food processor and combine really well.
3. Scoop half of the mixture into the tin and smooth it out with a knife or spatula so it's even all over. Place the tin in the freezer for 20 minutes until the fudge has firmed up slightly.
4. Now it's time to make your second layer. Turn the food processor on again and add the raw cacao powder. Blend until chocolatey and lovely, then spoon this mixture onto the already prepared layer in the tin.
5. Put the fudge back in the freezer for about 20-30 minutes, then take it out and cut it into squares.
6. Serve topped with the cacao nibs and extra shredded coconut.
Tip: We recommend that you use vanilla seeds scraped from the bean. If you don't have a vanilla bean, just replace the seeds with 1-2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
Variation: Putting a layer of smashed raspberries between the two layers of fudge adds colour and a great tart flavour - try it out sometime.
*Raw Cross Buns
"These treats are a cool raw vegan take on the traditional Easter favourite," says Sadhana Kitchen's Maz Valcorza. "The psyllium husk powder is the real key here, it draws the liquid into the dry ingredients, binding them nicely creating as spongy a texture as you can get with raw unbaked goods.
"When you pop them into the dehydrator [or oven], the smell will waft through your house just like the 'real thing'. They're awesome served warm and fresh out of the dehydrator.
"Enjoy some with an organic chai made on your favourite cold pressed nut mylk. This recipe makes at least a dozen hot cross buns depending on the size."
Photography by James Watkins.
1/2 cup psyllium husk powder (if you can't find any, just mill psyllium husk in a spice grinder or high speed blender)
2 ½ cups almonds ground into a flour
1 cup cashews ground into a flour
1 cup flax meal
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tbs cardamom
2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp vanilla powder
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1 tsp Himalayan pink salt or Celtic sea salt
2 cups of organic cold-pressed orange juice (juiced with skins on - must be organic)
Sweet Orange Glaze
1 cup of organic cold-pressed orange juice (juiced with skins on)
3/4 cup medjool dates
2 tbs coconut nectar
1/2 tsp all spice
1 cup cashews
1/2 cup finely desiccated coconut
3/4 cup filtered water
1 tsp vanilla powder
2 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs lemon rind
2 heaped tbs coconut oil
1 tbs psyllium husk powder
1 tbs lecithin
pinch of Himalayan pink salt or Celtic sea salt
stevia to taste (add little by little, it's potent stuff!)
Sweet Orange Glaze
Blend all glaze ingredients in high-speed blender until super smooth and place into a bowl ready for basting.
1. In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly combine all ingredients except for the orange juice.
Make a well in the middle, add orange juice and knead into a dough.
2. Press into a rectangle about 1 inch high and cut into buns using a knife or cookie cutter. Your buns can be whatever shape you like, but we moulded ours so that it resembles buns that have stuck to each other whilst baking :)
3. Place onto mesh dehydrator tray and baste with orange glaze.
4. Dehydrate at 38°C for 10-12 hours basting every few hours until the buns are ready Note: If you don't have a dehydrator, you can set your oven to the lowest setting (if you have a fan-forced even better!) and leave the door cracked open.
1. Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth. It's a good time to use the blender's tamper as the mixture will be quite thick.
2. Pour the mixture into a piping with a small round attachment or a plastic zip-lock back with one of the bottom corners snipped off.
3. Pipe crosses onto your buns and add a good dose of good vibes. Your raw vegan hot cross buns are now ready to nom! Enjoy.
*Easter treat truffles
200g fresh dates
210g organic canned coconut cream
2 tbsp seeds or nut meal (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds or hazelnuts)
70g raw cacao
1/8 tsp seaweed salt
1 Vanilla Pod
Topping flavour for rolling in: Coconut, sesame seeds, nuts, hemp seeds, cinnamon or blend an equal amount of rapadura sugar to cacao until fine, with a dash of cinnamon and use this to role the balls in.
1. Chop the dates finely and set aside
2. Warm the cacao, seaweed salt and coconut cream in a pan until the cacao is melted
(do not boil, best done in a double boiler).
3. Add dates, chosen seed or nut meal, melted cacao and coconut mixture into a
blender and blend until smooth.
4. Transfer mixture to freezer for 20 to 30 mins (don't leave any longer or they will be too
firm to roll)
5. Roll in balls using wet fingertips so the mixture doesn't stick to your hands
6. Place in refrigerator to chill
- Sydney Morning Herald