Friday, July 15, 2011

Vegan week day 3: Raw vegan date squares

Breakfast: Raw vegan (gluten-free and sugar-free) date squares with a glass of almond milk

Lunch: Lentil chili

Dinner: The vegetarian combination (which was also vegan) from an Ethiopian restaurant

If you're not heard of raw foodism before, it basically holds to the belief that food cooked above 40 degrees Celcius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) has lost all or most of its nutritional value, and so followers only eat food cooked under this temperature or not cooked at all - hence the name 'raw'.

I am not a raw foodie by any stretch of the imagination, but when I was trying to think of a great vegan treat to make I realised that date squares need not be cooked, and the resulting snack is raw, vegan, gluten-free and sugar-free - and who could knock that?

You wouldn't believe that something vegan and raw could be so moist and decadent. I am somewhat addicted already.

You'll need:
(Makes 16 small ones)
1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1 1/2 cups ground almonds (I ground some in the blender)
4 tbsp almond milk, unsweetened
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
1 cup (175 grams) pitted dates
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 cup water

Blend the dates, vanilla essence and water together and set aside
Combine all the other ingredients in a bowl, adding more milk if you feel it necessary
Press half the mixture into an 8 inch x 8 inch tin
Spread the date mixture on top
Top with the rest of the mixture
Put in the fridge for 1 hr or overnight
Cut into squares and serve

These are great for breakfast, especially before or after (or before AND after) the bike ride to work! They're so full of natural energy and insanely tasty, plus they're so good for you that it's hard to keep your hands off them. Dates are full of antioxidants and fibre (which means they're great if you're struggling to be 'regular'), almonds are thought to improve your complexion and reduce your risk of cancer, and flax are full of omega-3s and lower your cholesterol. Basically, you'd be a fool not to eat at least a few of these.

Dates are also great to use instead of sugar as a natural sweetener in desserts and baking - so next time you're trying to avoid bouncing off the walls after eating too much cake, think of the humble date!

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