Chia Cookies

I don't know about you but I always need (alright, want!) a little sweet sumthin' in the afternoon. It doesn't really matter what it is - it could be a medjool date, a piece of fruit, rice cake with a skim of nut butter and no added sugar jam or a raw bar/ball. We've been trying really hard to eliminate cane sugar from our diet and that means no shop bought treats like biscuits or cake but that hole has to be filled somehow and I've chosen to go down the raw route. I discovered raw balls about a year ago now and immediately fell in love. Sometimes called fudge babies due to their fantastically chewy texture, these little beauties are great for a mid afternoon pick me up. There are endless flavours and combos and I am slowly working my way through them.

Recently I discovered chocolate peppermint balls, which my Husband exclaimed tasted just like an after eight - winner! In that particular recipe I combo'd soaked cashews, dates, cocoa powder and peppermint essence. So ridiculously easy and so incredibly delicious - you just have to be careful not to scoff the lot in one sitting. In fact, because they are really satisfying, your sweet tooth should be satiated after one or two.

Like I said there are a thousand variations and I could be here all day recounting the different ones I've tried so I'll skip on to the chia cookies. Chia seeds are magnificent. Full of omega 3's, protein, calcium and other essential minerals they are blackish grey in colour and resemble a poppy seed. You can soak them in water, juice or plant milk to form a gel, add them to porridge (I use them in overnight oats frequently) or eat them raw like in this recipe. They have a wicked crunch but I must admit the blighters do have a tendency to get stuck between your teeth - a small price to pay methinks.

I used a cookie cutter to shape these because I'm a bit of a neat freak and I knew if I cut them into bars they wouldn't be even. Did I just say that out loud? It also makes them easier to transport - I packed my Husband off with a couple in his bag this morning, they should go perfectly with his mid-morning tea.

chia cookies

slightly adapted from this vegetarian times recipe

1 cup dates (without stone!)

1/8 cup chia seeds

2 tbsp cacao powder

1/4 cup whole raw almonds

1/2 cup raw slivered almonds

1/4 tsp vanilla essence

dash of almond essence (go easy as it's very powerful)

Put the dates in a hand blender or food processor and blitz until a paste is formed.

Add the whole almonds, cacao powder, chia seeds, vanilla and almond essence. Blitz until everything is combined.

Finally add the slivered almonds and pulse in until they are incorporated into the mix.

Transfer to some baking parchment/waxed paper, place another sheet on top and roll out either using a rolling pin or flatten using your hands (this is what I did)- you want the cookies about 1/2 inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out medium sized cookie pieces. Wrap each cookie in baking parchment and refrigerate (preferably for a few hours but they can be eaten immediately too).

dessert, veganAine Carlin