I think these Almond Joy knock-offs are down right healthy for you. Granted, it is a high-fat candy, but the fat is from almonds and coconut oil, two things I have no problem eating. Coconut oil is purported to have antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties. The almonds give you a healthy dose of vitamin E. The cocoa powder is a good source of antioxidants. What’s not to love? These do have about 120 calories each … so don’t go overboard!
Keep these treats either in the freezer of refrigerator. Unlike M&M’s, these do melt in your hand!
This recipe is adapted from The Nourishing Gourmet blog. I love this recipe and have been making it weekly.
1/2 cup almonds, plus 24 whole almonds
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup of honey
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
2 tablespoons honey (or more if you want it sweeter)
1/2 cup of coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash of salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
Keep either in the freezer or refrigerator.
Note: If you don’t have a mini-muffin pan, you can use a regular one. Makes 12 large (note large will have 240 calories and 2 grams of added natural sugar).
I’m sitting at my desk eating ground cherries and doing a little research while trying to pinpoint the fruit’s flavor.
Ground cherries look like small tomatillos. They are gumball-sized fruit covered in a papery husk. They grow in the wild and are considered to be weeds in many areas. I just added them to my list of weeds that I like to eat.
They can also be cultivated. The Hudson Valley Seed Library carries a variety called “Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherry.” They describe them as “Irresistible, sweet, and unique—and pre-wrapped by mother nature!”
Many people say the taste is similar to pineapple. It does have a slight tropical flavor, reminiscent of a pawpaw but not as sweet—extra points to anyone who has tasted a pawpaw! It tastes wild to me. Not wild as in crazy, but wild as in untamed. I think it is a lack of cultivation that brings out this flavor.
After I had eaten several unripe, green ones and decided that they taste a bit like a green tomato, I read that the green ones are toxic. Several websites warn not to eat them. My first thought was “Oops.” My second was, “Really?”
Ground cherries are in the genus Physalis in the nightshade family, Solanaceae. In their unripe form, they contain solanine, a toxic alkaloid. This toxin is also found in other nightshades. It’s the green you see on potatoes that have been exposed to light. Guess what else is in that family? Tomatoes. And yes, green tomatoes also carry the toxin (though there is actually a bit of a debate about that). I do tend to peel off the green parts of potatoes but I’m not going to curtail my annual plate of fried green tomatoes.
I couldn’t find anything that says how much solanine is in a green ground cherry but I didn’t feel like I needed to be rushed to the emergency room. Apparently, the amount usually found in food isn’t harmful. Some people are sensitive to it and feel that their arthritis is aggravated by nightshades. If you are worried about the toxin or are particularly sensitive to nightshades, let the cherries ripen first.
You can use ground cherries in both savory and sweet dishes. Use them in place of tomatoes or tomatillos in a salsa, make a spicy chutney or sweet jam. If I don’t eat all of the ones on my desk, I’m going to try a ground-cherry pie next!
Ground Cherry Chutney
1 1/2 cups ground cherries
1 small onion, chopped
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoon honey (more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
salt and pepper to taste
In a saucepan, place all the ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes stirring from time to time until the mixture is syrupy. Let cool. Store in the refrigerator.
6 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 cups yellow coarse ground cornmeal (may be labeled as polenta)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
¼ teaspoon black pepper
olive oil for brushing
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper
-Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a heavy large saucepan. Add 2 teaspoons of salt. Gradually add the cornmeal and stir. Reduce the heat to low. Stir often and cook until the cornmeal is tender and mixture is thick, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat. Stir in butter or olive oil and pepper. Taste and add more salt/pepper if needed.
– Pour the hot polenta into a lightly oiled 11- by 9-inch baking dish and spread evenly to about 1-inch thick. Refrigerate until cold and firm, about 2 hours.
-Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
-Cut the polenta into desired shape. Squares are an efficient use of the polenta, but circles are fun. To cut circles, use a round cookie cutter or a drink glass. Push down into the polenta and gentle remove the circles. Save any leftover polenta to eat later.
-Place the polenta pieces on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Place in oven and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, flip the polenta pieces. Brush with the olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Return to oven and cook for another 10 minutes.
Transfer the polenta pieces to plates. Top with ground cherry chutney and garnish with something green, like parsley.
I love finding recipes for things that I thought you could only buy in a store. I especially love them when they are easy and better than what you can usually find. All you need to make vanilla extract is a few vanilla beans, vodka and a little time to steep.
You can find whole vanilla beans in gourmet or health food stores that have a good spice section. You can also buy them online. I used two Madagascar Vanilla Beans (touted as the world’s best) that our friends Suzanne and Paul gave us.
Here’s how to make it:
-1 vanilla beans; slice it down the middle length-wise (at least 1 bean per cup of vodka)
-Place them in a jar
-Add 1 cups of vodka (enough to cover the beans)
-Cover tightly and store in a dark cabinet (or use a dark colored bottle)
-Shake every couple of days
You will see the color start to change in a day or two. In about three-four weeks, the extract will be ready to use. Strain if desired, but the longer the beans steep, the better the vanilla. I don’t strain mine.
You can keep the same vanilla beans going for years. Just keep topping off with more vodka. Pretty cool.
Start a bottle now and have it in time for your holiday baking. Add a pretty ribbon and you got yourself a dandy homemade gift.