Last month, I disappear off with a friend for a few days to visit Auroville, an alternative community nestled in the countryside near to Pondicherry on the Tamil Nadu coast. Auroville is a fascinating experiment in human unity and focuses on sustainable living as well as the environmental, social and spiritual needs of mankind. We spent a lovely few days relaxing under immense banyan trees, participating in yoga, pottery and a lot of chatting! The food was amazing, much of it organic and locally grown, and of course they had a wide choice which included dairy-free and vegan options, so I, and my stomach, were happy!
One evening, we found ourselves at a farm house within the settlement, in a group gathered around a big bonfire singing ‘mindful’ songs – it was a truly hippy experience! We arrived a little late, and the vegan spread provided must have been delicious, as the only thing left were a few small dark balls scattered on a plate, covered in white flecks. Someone said they were pudding; unconvinced, I tried one as I was so hungry and discovered much to my surprise and delight that they were little balls of sweet heaven! Looks were very deceiving! The host told me they were raw date and nut balls – that was it! How can that taste of chocolate though?
I know that many people believe that we should be eating mostly or all of our food raw. There is a great film called Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead about a guy juicing his way to health, which is really worth watching, if only for the people watching experience. Check out http://www.jointhereboot.com to find out more.
But I digress! So I do include lots of raw veggies in my diet, but I’m not a complete raw foodie, so hadn’t come across these raw date balls before. Doing some research on the internet, I found a guideline recipe on Yummly.com, but then changed it a little to suit what we have available here in Bangalore. If you’re a committed calorie counter, then all these nuts and dried fruits might freak you out a little, but do note there is no added sugar. A handful of nuts is the same amount of fat as a teaspoon of refined oil, plus you get all the extra nutritious goodies such as vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and fibre, but that’s a whole posting in itself. My husband and son love these balls and they’re difficult to binge on; they are really filling!
Vegan choco-nutty-fruity balls
1 cup/120g of nuts, raw and unsalted – I used almonds, walnuts and cashews
1/2 cup/120g organic pitted dates, chopped
1/2 cup/ 120g dried cranberries or apricots
1/2 cup raisins
2 tbspns cocoa powder
1 tbspoon fresh orange juice
few drops almond essence
1/2 tspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup/30g fresh or dessicated coconut
Place nuts, dates and rest of dried fruit in a food processor along with cocoa powder and almond essence. Blitz until everything is ground together – add orange juice a few drops at a time until the mixture binds together – you probably won’t need all of it. On a plate, combine the cinnamon and coconut. Roll small portions of the mix into balls, then roll them in the coconut mix until covered. Once all done, place in a container and refrigerate. Then enjoy over a relaxing cup of tea, after a workout or at any time you fancy a sweet nibble!