These yummy Christmas Balls are flavoured with tangy, sweet dried cranberries and a hint of festive spices. They deliver a big healthy dose of antioxidants. Dried organic cranberries contain the same nutrients as fresh, however commercially dried cranberries with sugar added reduces the vitamins.
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Add the cashews, coconut, cinnamon, mixed spice and salt to a food processor. Process for 10 - 15 seconds while the cashews break down.
Add 3 tablespoons of coconut oil, the maple syrup and almond extract. Process for 25 - 30 seconds or until the mixture becomes moist and starts gathering together (add the extra tablespoon of coconut oil if you find the mixture is too dry).
Add the cranberries and roughly distribute them through the mixture by hand so they don't clump together. Process for approximately 15 - 20 seconds to roughly chop the cranberries. You still want little bits of cranberries visible in the mixture. (I like to stop once during this time to mix again by hand).
Use your hands to squeeze a small amount of mixture together, roll into walnut size balls.
Place the balls onto a lined tray and transfer to the fridge or freezer to firm up and chill before decorating with the chocolate.
Break the chocolate into small pieces and gently melt over very low heat. Use a teaspoon to scoop up a little of the melted chocolate and drizzle ribbons of chocolate over the balls. Place in the fridge to set.
Serve chilled. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Suitable to freeze (allow to thaw before serving).
Cashews work well in a paleo lifestyle, as they are so versatile. They can be used to make dairy free milk, cashew butter, cashew cream or sour cream, dips and many more. Where possible, it is best to soak nuts before using to assist with digestion. Eat them raw but in moderation as they are quite high in omega 6. Stay away from store bought roasted nuts that have been cooked in canola, sunflower or similar vegetable oils.
In the majority of my recipes where I use dried coconut, I use finely-shredded desiccated coconut (unless I have stated otherwise). Make sure you are purchasing unsweetened and organic - many regular brands contain preservatives (sulphur dioxide).
I am sure you will notice as you read my recipes that cinnamon appears quite frequently. It lends itself to savoury and sweet dishes. I have used ground cinnamon in my recipes if not stated otherwise. The best cinnamon to use is Ceylon (Verum). It has huge health benefits in regulating blood sugar levels. Cinnamon has antifungal properties and candida (yeast overgrowth) cannot live in a cinnamon environment. Added to food it inhibits bacterial growth, making it a natural food preservative and these are just a few of the benefits.
Mixed spice is a blend of sweet spices. Cinnamon is the dominant flavour, with nutmeg and allspice, some brands may also contain cardamom. It is called pumpkin spice in the USA. It is often used in the baking of sweet foods and fruits.
Raw pink Himalayan salt crystals is unlike common table salt which can be a highly refined industrial byproduct, otherwise know as sodium chloride. Himalayan salt is completely pure and may naturally balance the body's alkaline/acidity and regulate water content. In addition Himalayan salt helps in the absorption of nutrients from food and contains many trace minerals for healthy cell structure. I purchase fine pink Himalayan crystal salt so I can use it in my shaker and for cooking.
Coconut oil is one of the most nutritious fats to cook and bake with. Use organic extra-virgin coconut oil which is unrefined and unbleached from non GMO coconuts. Coconut oil has a high smoking point and it is slow to oxidize due to its high saturated fat content, thus, resistant to going rancid. Some studies suggest coconut oil helps with digestion, including irritable bowel, tummy bugs, candida and parasites due to this oil containing short term medium-chain saturated fatty acids (MCFAs), which is a healthy form of saturated fat.
Maple syrup is an earthy, sweet tasting amber liquid that is produced by boiling down the sap of maple trees. Use organic 100% maple syrup which is a natural food sweetener, not a flavoured maple syrup. Pure maple syrup contains a decent amount of some minerals, especially manganese and zinc, some traces of potassium and calcium but it does contain a whole bunch of sugar. I try to reduced the amount of sweetness in each recipe to the lowest possible without compromising taste. Feel free to adjust to your liking. I use maple syrup in place of raw honey when I don't want the strong honey flavour coming through in a recipe. I have paleo cookies and desserts in my cookbook made from whole food ingredients with natural sugars but please don’t overindulge. Use as a treat only for special occasions.
Organic almond extract manufactured by ‘Frontier Natural Flavors’ has the best flavour, and price I've found. I purchase it online from iherb.
Choose organic dried cranberries that contain no preservatives (sulphur). Cranberries have a tangy sweet flavour and deliver a big healthy dose of antioxidants. My favourite organic brands are Edan or Dr Superfoods, which can be purchase from health foods stores or online.
In some of my recipes I have used Paleo approved dark chocolate drops/chips, they are dairy, soy, and gluten-free (my favourite brands are, 'Absolute Organic' or 'Chef's Choice' certified organic 70% cacao, purchase online or from health food stores). I also used 70 - 85% organic dark chocolate blocks, they can be broken into pieces or melted for recipe. I also make my own chocolate from: cacao butter or coconut oil, raw cacao powder and sweetened with 100% maple syrup, pinch of sea salt and vanilla extract.