Chocolate Cherry Coconut Slice

Chocolate Cherry Coconut Slice   24-30 small pieces

Paleo and vegan; no gluten, grain, dairy, cane sugar or soy

A dense, moist, coconut and cherry filling is sandwiched between thin layers of chocolate. A bit like a Bounty Bar in looks, taste and texture – with the pretty red dotting of dried cherries. Keeps well refrigerated.

There are 3 options for the chocolate base and topping: melt vegan chocolate (no dairy and usually sweetened with coconut sugar); melt dark chocolate (such as Whittaker’s Dark Ghana – dairy-free, but it has cane sugar and a little soy lecithin); or make ½ my easy Chocolate Ganache from another recipe.

175 grams vegan or dark, dairy-free chocolate*, or make ½ my Chocolate Ganache
1 Tbsp coconut oil*
   ***
2 cups desiccated coconut
¾ cup dried cherries (from specialty and health stores and some supermarkets), finely chopped
½ cup almond meal*
¼ cup coconut oil
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract*

Chop the chocolate. Place in a small metal or heat-resistant bowl. Then place the bowl in the top of a steamer or double boiler. Place 5 – 10 centimetres of water in the bottom saucepan and bring to a boil then turn to a brisk simmer. DO NOT cover with a lid and DO NOT allow water to touch the base of the top saucepan (any water that gets into any melting chocolate will make it seize and stiffen). Remove from the heat when soft. With a fork stir the 1 Tbsp of coconut oil into the melted chocolate until smooth. Or make ½ recipe of Chocolate Ganache. Keep either option warm.

Line a square 20 cm pan with baking paper. Pour half the chocolate (or half the ganache) onto the base. Mixture will be very thin. Use a spatula to spread it evenly. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes or more to harden. Keep the remaining chocolate over the hot water, so it stays warm and melted while you prepare the filling.

Melt the coconut oil in a small to medium saucepan. Turn off the heat. Stir in the maple syrup and vanilla. Next stir in the coconut, cherries and almond meal. Mixture will be thick and moist.

Place the coconut mixture over the chocolate base and press firmly. Cover with the remaining chocolate. Use the spatula to spread it evenly. Chill in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours to firm completely. Use a sharp knife and slice into 5 rows by 5 or 6 rows to create about 3 cm squares. Keep chilled, especially in hot weather. Stores well in fridge or freezer.

 Shopping and Preparation Tips*

  • Almond flour: very finely ground from dried, blanched, skinless almonds will give the best result. This makes it act and bind more like flour than just ground nuts or almond meal (which gives a crumbly texture). Purchase from health stores, some supermarkets or online, such as www.naturalgrocer.co.nz 

  • Chocolate: that is dairy/gluten-free is available in supermarkets, but does contain cane sugar (eg Whittaker’s Dark Ghana). Also at supermarkets is vegan and cane sugar-free, artificial sweetener- and additive-free chocolate (eg Panna, Wellington, Zimt); usually sweetened with coconut sugar.

  • Coconut oil: white, solid and available in jars from health stores and most supermarkets. Best quality is virgin or cold-pressed and organic, such as Ceres brand. Flavour and aroma should be mild. Less prone to oxidation and damage by heat than most other cooking oils. High in medium-chain fatty acids such as lauric acid, which can enhance immunity through antiviral and antibacterial benefits. Most oils and fats contain long chain fatty acids that are harder to break down and more readily stored as fat. Use to replace oil or butter in recipes.

  • Vanilla and other Extracts: use top quality vanilla without artificial additives. It and other real flavours such as almond are termed “extract” (as opposed to fake essence, often labelled “vanillin”). Good brands available locally and overseas are: Heilala Vanilla and Equagold. These are in most supermarkets and health stores.

Paleo Spice Cookies

Makes 2 ½ dozen

Paleo; no gluten, grain, dairy, cane sugar or soy; with option for peanuts

Dark, moist and chewy. Rich with spicy flavours – and spices are high antioxidant achievers. Low starch and high protein helps regulate blood sugar levels.

Lovely as a snack, for lunch boxes, or as a morsel of dessert on a platter with fresh fruit. Or for sharp colour contrast, sprinkle a platter of Paleo Spice Cookies with whole freeze-dried raspberries. They and the coconut products listed are all in most supermarkets. Or serve a cookie beside a small parfait glass of Chia Pudding (see my 4 recipe options), or my Vegan Caramel Nut Ice Cream. Read more

Beetroot and Dill Dip

Beetroot and Dill Dip/Topping/Spread   makes 1 ¼ cups

Paleo; no gluten, dairy, legumes, onion, garlic or nightshades; with option for vegan

Fabulous colour that shouts nutritious good looks.

Excellent dip with sliced carrot, kumara chips or corn chips. Or for a hearty Chef Salad, you can toss pasta, quinoa or rice, cubed tofu  or back beans, or steamed veg – or a mixture – with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on a platter. Make a depression in the middle and fill with the beetroot topping. Sprinkle with fresh dill or parsley. Surround with leafy greens. Read more

Vege Nachos

Serves 4

No gluten, dairy, cane sugar; with options for tomato, potato, legumes, vegan and Paleo

A fiesta of bright colours and flavours. Serve as a big Mexican-style platter. This can be an easy, popular dinner served with a salad or mixed steamed veg such as carrot, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts or broccoli. Add rice or bread for heartier appetites. Small amounts of plant protein from different sources, or mixed with a small amount of animal protein can upgrade satiety and nutrients. Learn more about your protein needs here.

Colours can indicate a specific range of antioxidants and other supportive micronutrients. Eat 5 helpings from the 5 colours of fruit and veg daily to get the best array of health helpers.
Here crisply coated vege slices are used as a base instead of corn chips. These are topped with tomato or pumpkin sauce and protein options; a flutter of leafy greens then creamy aioli or guacamole. Ole! Read more

Vegan Caramel Nut Ice Cream

Makes about 3 cups

Paleo, vegan; no gluten, dairy, soy or cane sugar

Keep frozen fruit on hand and this can be made in 5 minutes. Cool, creamy, crunchy and naturally sweet. Thanks to the combination of fruit, nuts and legume (peanut) it is also a good source of fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals. Unlike most frozen banana mixtures, this one stays creamy when frozen and stored, rather than becoming rock-like. Read more

Simple Succulent Eggplant

Simple Succulent Eggplant in 2 Ways

Vegan, Paleo; no gluten, dairy, eggs, cane sugar, citrus; one has no soy or other legumes

Big, small, deep purple to pale green. Low-cal, high-fibre eggplant readily absorbs colours and flavours. It is a favourite in the diverse cuisines of the Mediterranean, Middle East, Africa, India, East Asia and ever since the Spanish took it to South America. Kiwis should likewise learn to bake, fry, grill, BBQ, fritter, casserole, simmer and stew it. An easy preparation-style is to cut it into slices or in half – as I’ve done below – top it (eg olive oil, salt, pepper, hummus, red onion) and bake. Read more

Roast Pumpkin with Cashew Crumble

Serves 6

Paleo, vegan; no gluten, dairy, egg, legumes, nightshades

Reduce the crumble recipe if you must. But I love having extra to sprinkle over salads, soup or steamed veg. Lots of nutty flavour to enjoy in so many ways. And it stores well.

Try this over other roast vegetables such as kumara and eggplant. Serve over steamed green beans or cauliflower. Add pizazz and protein to a salad of greens and beetroot. Just grab a spoon and snack on it. Read more