Spring Sweets: Coconut Cream Eggs

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My husband's dear grandmother Ellen passed away this week, just a few days before Easter. She and I first connected over our shared love for my husband— she loved to tell me stories from his childhood, and I loved to hear them. But over the years we had a chance to bond on a more personal level— often over food— and she became a grandmother to me long after my own grandmothers had passed. She was a willing tester for my recipes and would often send me a single sentence email that made my day when a food photo I posted to social media caught her eye. And it was always the sweet recipes that got her attention. She had a love of sweets that I share, and I loved indulging her with treats, as many of her family members did.

It was no secret that I looked forward to one of Ellen's own recipes too— I know that I wasn't the only one— coconut eggs that she would handmake and deliver to each of her grandkids (and their lucky partners) on Easter. This year we won't have that recipe and its (super-sweet but seriously addictive) flavor to look forward to, so this week I found myself dreaming up a way to recreate it, as I thought of her and processed our family's great loss. I never knew what was in Ellen's recipe (and maybe, in a way, didn't exactly want to know– sometimes it's better to just enjoy). So instead of trying to match hers, I created an Eat Pretty-style coconut cream egg that I hope pays homage. I like to think she would approve.

As a longtime coconut cream egg lover (I'm talking since childhood), I'm quite pleased with the results. Conventional coconut cream eggs are packed with refined sugar, but these get their sweetness from maple syrup and dates, plus creaminess from cashews and coconut butter. Don't skimp on the big pinch of unrefined salt that balances their flavors. Dipped in dark chocolate, they're my new Easter tradition, one that I'll make each year while I think of Ellen.

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Coconut Cream Eggs

Makes about 16 eggs

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water at least 4 hours, rinsed, and drained
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp coconut butter
  • 3-4 soft dates (depending on their size and your preferred level of sweetness)
  • unrefined salt
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened finely shredded coconut flakes, divided
  • 6 oz high-quality dark chocolate (at least 70% dark)
  • 2 tsp coconut oil

DIRECTIONS

In a high-powered blender, puree soaked cashews, maple syrup, dates, and a generous pinch of salt. Using the tamper, or frequently scraping down the sides of the container, ensure that there are no lumps and that the blend is relatively smooth. Add 1/4 cup of the coconut flakes and blend again for a few seconds, to break them down slightly. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the rest of the coconut flakes, adding slightly more if you find that the mixture is not quite thick enough to form into shapes.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Using wet fingers, form 1 Tbsp scoops of the coconut mixture into flattened egg shapes and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Chill them in the freezer while you prepare the chocolate.

In a small saucepan, melt the chocolate and coconut oil over low heat. Remove chilled coconut eggs from the freezer and coat each one with melted chocolate. I like use one hand to balance each egg on a fork above the saucepan while I use the other hand to spoon melted chocolate over top. Let the excess chocolate drip back into the pan, and carefully slide each chocolate-coated egg back onto the parchment. After you've coated all of the eggs, transfer to the freezer for 10 minutes to harden. Store in the fridge until serving.

Warm Pear Bake with Cocoa-Plum Crust

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This winter, eat more cranberries and pears! These two naturally sweet beauty foods are ideal for cool weather, as they reduce inflammation and detoxify naturally. Eat them raw, or use as little added sugar as possible when you cook with them, to preserve their benefits. 

Here's a perfect way to use them in a naturally sweet dish that you can cozy up to all winter long:

Warm Pear Bake with Cocoa-Plum Crust

This quick-to-make dessert is packed with skin benefits from fresh pear, cranberries, cinnamon, cocoa, and walnuts. Dried plums, also called prunes (which just never sounds as appealing) are packed with iron, antioxidants, and natural sweetness, and fabulous for digestion and elimination in small amounts. Enjoy this simple treat when you have a sweet craving this season.

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Makes 3 individual servings

INGREDIENTS

3 ripe pears, cored and chopped

½ cup fresh or frozen cranberries

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

unrefined salt

Heaping 1 cup raw walnut halves

12 dried plums/prunes

4 tsp cocoa powder or raw cacao powder

Equipment: 3 ramekins

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Toss pears and cranberries with ¼ tsp cinnamon and a dash of salt. Divide pear/berry mixture among three ramekins. In a food processor, combine walnuts, plums, and cocoa powder, and add in a generous sprinkling of salt. Divide and roll mixture into three even-sized balls and flatten each to create a top crust for your ramekin. Carefully (use a spatula if needed) transfer one crust to the top of each ramekin.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Cool slightly and serve.


Beauty Food Focus:

Cranberries. You’ll only find these berries readily available in stores from about October through January, so don’t miss your chance to take in their powerful skin and body benefits. The skins of cranberries contain anthocyanin pigments that protect our cells and collagen. These anthocyanins also lower inflammation, reducing redness, blemishes, and slowing the wrinkling process. Other phytochemicals in cranberries increase your skin’s UV tolerance and blood flow, giving you a radiant complexion. Cranberries support healthy digestion and lymph flow, making them perfect for the cold weather months when we’re eating larger meals. Be sure you don't just eat cranberries sweetened with refined sugars; try the Warm Pear Bake for a sweet way to eat them without added sugar.

Pears. Pears are beauty foods with so much natural sweetness, making them ideal choices for desserts or sweet snacks. Their pectin fiber helps detoxify the body, as well as support good digestion and elimination—keys for radiant skin. Phytochemicals in pear skins reduce inflammation in the body, which supports a gorgeous complexion, good moods, and a healthy weight. All varieties of pears have beauty benefits, but red-skinned pears are especially high in anthocyanins that protect your skin’s natural elasticity.

Creamy Cashew Banana Mango Pudding

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Creamy Cashew Banana Mango Pudding

This dairy-free pudding may be the most delicious thing to pass your lips this week! It’s sweetened only with fruit (banana + mango, for tropical flavor), and incredibly creamy, thanks to beauty mineral-rich cashews that nourish your hair and skin. If you don’t have mango on hand, double the amount of ripe banana and add a bit more non-dairy milk to blend up an equally sweet and skin-friendly treat.

Serves 2 to 3

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews or cashew pieces, soaked in water for at least 4 hours, drained and rinsed
  • 1 small ripe banana (or 1/2 large banana)
  • 1 cup ripe mango chunks, plus more for serving
  • 1 to 3 Tbsp unsweetened non-dairy milk, as needed
  • unrefined salt

Directions

In a high-powered blender, combine cashews, banana, and mango until smooth and creamy, pausing frequently to scrape down the sides of the blender. Add a pinch of salt to taste, and (if needed) non-dairy milk, one Tbsp at a time, to thin the pudding. Blend once more to incorporate. If desired, top with fruit or dust with an antioxidant-rich topping like raw cacao, maca root, or cinnamon. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

For more beautifying recipes, see Eat Pretty: Nutrition for Beauty Inside & Out.

Beautiful Bites: Transforming Graham Crackers

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Introducing Beautiful Bites, a new column featuring beautifying, anti-aging versions of the not-so-healthy foods we eat everyday. A few ingredient tweaks to a meal you eat regularly could translate to serious beauty benefits (and less guilt)! If you can suggest a meal that could use a beauty tune-up, email me at jolene@beautyiswellness.com

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The Food: Graham Crackers

The Beauty Betrayers: wheat flour, refined sugar (in large amounts), loads of butter or shortening

 

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