Sunday, May 18, 2014

Date balls with nuts, fruits and chocolate

This is something that I have been wanting to make and share for a few months now. These date balls have everything that I love:

Chocolate. Who doesn't like chocolate?

Roasted Nuts. Nuts about Nuts.


Dried fruits. My favorite- Cranberries. Sweet and tart. Perfect balance with the sweet dates.

The best thing about this is that this can be made differently every time.

You may use : White chocolate instead of semi-sweet chocolate.

Any combination of nuts or one kind only.

Any dried fruits- craisins, raisins, prunes.

Also, you may add seeds such as sunflower seeds or chia seeds

And, you may coat them with:

Powdered sugar, cocoa powder, almond meal, roasted coconut flakes.

These are the many reasons I love these date balls.

Oh, another thing, I eat these with my morning breakfast, after lunch as something sweet, as afternoon snacks and anytime in between.

So, for the no-recipe date balls (about 18 1inch balls), you need:

1 cup of pitted dates (tightly packed, about 16-18 dates)
¼ cup honey or maple syrup or agave syrup
⅓ cup roasted pistachios
⅓ cup roasted walnuts
⅓ cup craisins
¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks
pinch of salt

For coating, I used powdered sugar, an equal mix of powdered sugar and cocoa powder, roasted coconut flakes.

This is how I did it:

Add the dates, honey or maple syrup, salt in the food processor and make a chunky paste of the dates. Add all the other ingredients and pulse just a few times to incorporate the nuts, the fruits and the chocolate chunks evenly in the date paste. This will be very sticky. Put this mixture in the refrigerator for a 2-3 hours. Put a little bit of oil in your palms before you role the mixture into balls. The oil will prevent it from sticking to your hands and will also help in the rolling process. Roll the date balls in your choice of coating and enjoy.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Cucumber Lime Mint Agua Fresca

Letter # 4

Dear Blog,

  When I was living in Massachusetts, every morning on my phone I would first check my email. Right after that would be the weather channel. How is it outside? Is it windy and raining or is it sunny, beautiful weather? After coming to San Diego, I would do the same out of habit. Check the weather on my phone. I would see seven bright suns shining for the next seven days with comfortable temperatures every day. Few days later, I stopped looking at the weather forecast. San Diego is always bright and sunny with beautiful weather. It was, until this week. Hot desert winds have started blowing which is making the temperatures rise above the comfortable level. I never thought I'll say 32C as above the comfort level, since I have grown up in India where the temperatures in my hometown reaches 45C. Interesting, how easily our human body gets used to the environment. Adaptation.
   Since I have come to US, I have traveled to India thrice by now. The first morning back home, I have always awaken to sounds that I don't hear here. Crows and sparrows, honking cars, neighbor's radio or TV or music player, stray dog barking, vendors selling fresh caught fish and freshly picked vegetables and my mom saying "Get up, it's 7 o' clock." Surprisingly, the first thought is 'Why is there so much noise? Let me sleep!' It takes only a few days to adapt to that. Next I find myself waking up to a very quiet neighborhood in US and I feel like I am the only living person on this planet. Not a single sound anywhere. Then, I used to live alone, and I always looked outside my window hoping to see another human. Without realizing, within a few days I would get used to the quietness. Interesting thing, 'adaptation'.

    Now, as we adapt to the slowing rising temperatures, we are cooling ourselves down with Agua Fresca. Cucumber juice makes it cool and refreshing. And very easy to make. Enjoy.

Summer lover,

Cucumber Lime Mint Agua Fresca

2 cucumbers (about 1 lb)(I peeled the cucumbers. You may choose not to.)
Juice from 4 limes
1 cup packed mint leaves (Remove the hardy stems)
½ cup sugar
pinch of salt
1½ cup water

How I did it:

Put everything in a blender and puree till smooth. Pass the puree through a sieve. Press with the back of a spoon or a rubber spatula to extract as much liquid as possible. Makes about 4 cups.

Serve with ice cubes.