French Macarons

on Monday, April 8, 2013. Filed under: , , , , , , , , , ,

Photos by : katelig

Category: Macarons
Yield: makes 35 macarons

For the Macarons:
  • 2 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup superfine sugar
Suggested Fillings for Macarons:
  • Chocolate: Chocolate Ganache
  • Coconut: 1 cup Swiss Meringue Buttercream, mixed with 1/3 cup angel-flake coconut.
  • Peanut: Chocolate Ganache, or store-bought dulce de leche, jam, or peanut butter.
  • Pistachio: 1 cup Swiss Meringue Buttercream, mixed with 1/3 cup finely chopped pistachios.
  • Raspberry: 3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam
  • Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  1. Pulse confectioners' sugar and almond flour in a food processor until combined. Sift mixture 2 times.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk whites with a mixer on medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and whisk until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low, then add superfine sugar. Increase speed to high, and whisk until stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes. Sift flour mixture over whites, and fold until mixture is smooth and shiny.
  3. Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip, and pipe 3/4-inch rounds 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets, dragging pastry tip to the side of rounds rather than forming peaks. Tap bottom of each sheet on work surface to release trapped air. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake 1 sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until macarons are crisp and firm, about 10 minutes. After each batch, increase oven temperature to 375 degrees, heat for 5 minutes, then reduce to 325 degrees.
  4. Let macarons cool on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. (If macarons stick, spray water underneath parchment on hot sheet. The steam will help release macarons.)
  5. Sandwich 2 same-size macarons with 1 teaspoon filling. Serve immediately, or stack between layers of parchment, wrap in plastic, and freeze for up to 3 months.

Cook's Note:

Piping the perfect macaroon takes a little practice. Treat it as you would a rosette, bringing the pastry tip to the side of the circle, rather than forming a peak, to finish.


Chocolate: Substitute 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder for 1/4 cup of the almond flour.

Les Petits Macarons: Colorful French Confections to Make at Home

I thought I had to go to Paris to find these luscious confections, but now I have them in my own kitchen. Thank you Kathryn and Anne for sharing the technique and demystifying the method! With these detailed recipes and clear explanations, we can all create dazzling French macarons in every imaginable  flavor. A must for serious bakers.

Book Description:

Publication Date: October 4, 2011

Macarons, the stuff of bakers' candy-coated dreams, have taken the world by storm and are demystified here for the home baker, With dozens of flavor combinations, recipes are structured with three basic shell methods—French, Swiss, and Italian—plus one never-before-seen Easiest French Macaron Method. Pick one that works for you, and go on to create French-inspired pastry magic with nothing more than a mixer, an oven, and a piping bag.

Try shells flavored with pistachio, blackberry, coconut, and red velvet, filled with the likes of sesame buttercream, strawberry guava pâte de fruit, crunchy dark chocolate ganache, and lemon curd. Or go savory with shells like saffron, parsley, and ancho chile paired with fillings like hummus, foie gras with black currant, and duck confit with port and fig. The options for customization are endless, and the careful, detailed instruction is like a private baking class in your very own kitchen! All recipes have been tested by students and teachers alike and are guaranteed to bring the flavors of France right to your door.

Buy New:

12 Delicious Chocolate Fudge Recipes!

on Friday, April 5, 2013. Filed under: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Chocolate always wins. It really isn’t fair to everything else – the noodle soups, the sides, the dips, the salads – always take second at best. Poor fried rice, you can come to my house any day.

Ok, so what am I on about? You see, I have an enormous backlog of posts… While I do enjoy the picture editing and post writing, I’d rather create and cook and photograph over anything else, and as I’m at home during the day most of my meals get styled and propped before being eaten.

So over the weekend I posted this pic with a comment that in honour of reaching 350 Facebook likes, 1200 Twitter followers and 400 Instagram followers everyone else got to choose what I would post next.



#1 won, so per usual dessert is being served first and I must admit, I’m not complaining.

Second place was taken out by #9 – Sweet Potato Fries and third by #8 – Asian Mushroom Soup, so among others not even included in the collage, these will be coming soon too. You are more than welcome to put in your vote down in the comments – it’s a moveable feast round these parts, quite literally.

The old saying goes, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade – or curd, or cake or tea for that matter – but what about when life serves up a big’ol seized, split mess intended for an Australian twist on Nutella?

First, you start again, twice, to figure out how on earth to make the spread work, then you stick the double batch of messy yet delicious mass into the fridge and think about it later.



The first thought was a twist on Vegan Cheesecake, but a combination of being out of macadamias and having both raw truffles made with chickpeas and brownies made with black beans floating around in my brain, sent me to the cupboard in search of legumes.

Into a food processor everything went and before I knew it this fudge was born. In the meantime I discovered that when the seized mess is re-blended once cold it turns smooth and creamy – I’ve updated the Choc Macadamia Spread recipe as this means rice syrup will work every time!

Ironically the bowl of kitchen fail was turned into a wonderful creation however I’m not remotely happy with the photos, figures. But they’ll do for now… sometimes you just have to roll with it!

For the recipe: Vegan Chocolate Fudge, PLUS 11 flavour twists


Chocolate Cherry Cake

on Thursday, April 4, 2013. Filed under: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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A month ago, I was unprepared to take on vegan baking. As a traditional baker (and purveyor of butter and cream), it was a sincere challenge for me to alter everything I thought I knew about baking. I complained about it loudly to anyone who would listen, as I scraped attempt after attempt into the trash. It wasn't that I didn't do enough research before creating recipes; I simply didn't have the experience with vegan baking to make the recipes my own.

I was unreasonable and, as a few of you pointed out, unfair to take my frustration with my own inadequacy at vegan baking out on a lifestyle choice. For this, I apologize.



After two weeks of struggled baking, a switch finally clicked. The cakes and cookies that came out of the oven no longer went into the garbage can, but were proudly shared with family and friends. My goal to create vegan recipes that did not use hard-to-find or unusual ingredients was becoming a reality and I couldn't be happier. The recipes were not only dairy-free and egg-free, but absolutely delicious in their own right. It was an inspiration.

Even though my vegan challenge is over, I confess I haven't gone to the store to buy butter or eggs just yet (gasp!). When I find myself faced with a warm oven, I don't feel like I'm done creating and experimenting with vegan recipes. Over the next couple weeks, you might spot a few more popping up (and I think you'll fall in love with them as much as I did).



Recently, I had several pounds of cherries resting in the refrigerator. They were an impulse buy at the market when I saw the price tag had considerably dropped. I ate my way through half the sweet fruit before I realized they were going to go bad before the rest would get eaten. One of the downsides to living alone is that when you buy pounds of several varieties of fruit at once, there is no conceivable way you'll be able to eat them all by yourself (note to self: lesson learned). With a chocolate craving in the back of my mind, and a love for cherries and chocolate, a cake seemed to be in order.

I honestly could have eaten half of this cake in a single sitting. It seems only fair to advise you, this cake should come with a warning label.

For the recipe: Chocolate Cherry Cake


Soft and Spicy Ginger Cookies

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Let’s talk comfort food, shall we? Sometimes you just need a little nibble to get you through some stressful situations, and sometimes that little nibble needs to contain all the things that make your soul feel a little warmer, a little more coddled, if you will. When I think of warming and comforting, my mind immediately wanders to the lovely rhizome ginger. It helps colds, settles tummy aches and nausea, and sometimes it makes for the perfect addition to a simple cookie. Yesterday evening,  my husband and I had quite a scare as out littlest one tumbled down our steep flight of city steps (hard hard wood that’s not the most gentle on teeny tiny noggins), thankfully only leaving a few loose teeth, a bunch of bruises and a little blood, but it left every single person in our house shaken up.



We snuggled for hours, thanked our lucky stars, and then we all fell hard and fast to sleep. When my little girl awoke, all bleary eyed, bumped, bruised and broken, she only had one request: cookies.

So, I went to work.  Since her little front toofers were aching, I knew they had to be super soft cookies.

These cookies are one of my favorites, and of course the little ones adore them too. They are a favorite around the Kramer household because they smell very fragrant while they cook (which lingers in your kitchen well after they are done baking), and once they cool, the cookies have an irresistibly soft texture that almost dissolves on the tongue with a crispy crunchy sugary coated outside. In other words, these are perfect comfort food for sad little tumblers.

For the recipe: Soft and Spicy Ginger Cookies


Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls with Coconut Cream Drizzle

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Thinly sliced apples combined with one of my favorite healthy secret ingredients make these Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls not only delicious, but tipping the scale on the healthy side too!



Sometimes it’s good to be thankful for the little things. Like neighbors with apple trees.

Of course, neighbors with apple trees who like to share is even better.

The thing about a neighbor’s apple tree is that it gives you a much better idea of what organic really means. Yes, these apples don’t look like the glossy ones you find in supermarkets. But you know what they say? Looks can be deceiving. That is absolutely the case with these apples.

“They’re somewhere between a Gala and a Jonathan.”

“What?” I replied with my typical slightly raised eyebrow which I hope makes me look inquisitive. It’s my favorite cover for the standard, underlying condition that I usually feel – confused.

“When I moved here, the guy told me the apples from this tree taste like something between a Gala and a Jonathan apple.”

“Oh,” I said, a big smile spreading across my face. I don’t really care if they taste like a muttly mix of this or that, I’m just glad to have some fresh, organic apples. I decide not to tell her that. “Thank you so much!”

“Well, help yourself if you’d like more. There’s more than we can eat.” She must have sensed the hesitancy ebbing from my being because she continued, “Seriously, help yourself to more anytime you like!”

I envision her looking out the kitchen window and seeing me shimmying up her tree to grab an apple at six in the morning. I suffer from a serious case of bad timing so I could definitely see a scenario like this one playing out. I cringe.

I give her a big smile and say “Thanks!” I walk away with my big bag of backyard apples like I must have just won the lottery.

Life can be so good sometimes!

And I vowed to make some tasty sweets with those apples, and the first item on my list? Cinnamon Rolls! Yes, I know they don’t traditionally have apples in them, but that was something I intended to change.

For the recipe: Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls with Coconut Cream Drizzle


Cookies n’Cream Peanut Butter Bark

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I can’t even.

I’m currently writing to you knee deep in chocolate covered creamy peanut butter Oreo mania right now. Do NOT send help. I’ll find my way out.

Reese’s Peanut Butter White Chocolate Bark’s darker twin sister is ready to be shared with the world. Warning: this stuff is messy, addicting, and decadent – in every wonderful way.

I adore making bark.  It’s a mindless, no-bake way to literally add anything you want to chocolate.  All the little do-dads hiding in your pantry.  Chocolate bark is a cry from heaven when you have some holiday treats to make without all the time in the world.

Or when you just need a chocolate break – and you need it fast.

The same idea goes with fudge too.  The fudge world is your oyster – a wonderful chocolate base to add in anything your heart desires. Like cookie dough, cake batter (oh yeah), and candy canes.

 I personally love (read: loooove) peanut butter and Oreos together.  I know I’m not the only one who spreads peanut butter on top of Oreos. The combination of peanut butter and Oreos is what dreams are made of and you’re getting a whole lot of both in today’s recipe.

The bark was inspired by FOUR of my recipes.  A delightful plethora of my finest work, if you will. The whole bark-layering ordeal came from my Reese’s Peanut Butter White Chocolate Bark – I made it for absolutely no rhyme or reason, literally threw white chocolate, peanut butter, and Reese’s Pieces together. 10 minutes later? Amazing.

For the recipe: Cookies n’Cream Peanut Butter Bark


Sprouted Spelt Pancakes with Coconut Creme

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When I posted about my experiments with Tartine's sourdough bread, I recieved a lot of questions about discarding the starter, since that technique calls for so much of the starter to be tossed every day. I found a way to utilize it in these simple, fluffy pancakes - it's absolutely perfect for them. I make them vegan, but you can certainly add eggs to your batter if you prefer it that way. These pancakes are best when cooked on a cast iron pan - I own a tiny 5-inch one and it works wonderfully here. The coconut creme is easy and delicious as well, but I invite you to experiment with your own favorite pancake toppings.

For the recipe: Sprouted Spelt Pancakes with Coconut Creme


Double Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

on Tuesday, April 2, 2013. Filed under: , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Tis the season for abundant giving, sharing, and showing love. And, I’m showing you lovely readers how much I adore you by offering an over-the-top candy covered cookie recipe and a chance to win a gadget that will help you whip up some healthier treats!

In addition to the cookie recipe, today I’m giving away a handy appliance that I think every cook needs: an immersion blender. These terribly convenient little blenders are perfect for pureeing soups, making dips and salsas, smoothing out sauces… and so much more. They truly do make great gifts, so I’m giving one away to one lucky reader who’s name will be drawn randomly and announced January 3rd.

For the recipe: Double Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies


Orange Spice Bûche de Noël with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting & Chocolate Ganache

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The very happiest of holidays to all of you. The past two weeks have been an absolute whirlwind due to an insanely busy work schedule and all of the holiday planning and preparations, so I haven't been able to post much. It wasn't until yesterday that I finally had a chance to start some holiday baking. And by holiday baking, I mean my annual attempt at creating a beautiful Bûche de Noël cake. My past attempts have been less than successful - the cake was too dry, it cracked/fell apart, the frosting looked ugly, etc. But finally, finally, this year I managed to make one that I am proud to share with you.



The Bûche de Noël, or Yule Log, is a big tradition in France and when living in Paris I always loved gazing upon the gorgeously-decorated creations in all the bakeries at Christmastime. I've adopted this tradition as my own, and once you taste this cake, you might too.

For the recipe: Orange Spice Bûche de Noël with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting & Chocolate Ganache


Buckwheat and Hemp Bark + Raw Chocolate Bar with Goji Berries, Raisins and Nuts

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In the raw foods community many people believe in raw cacao, or raw chocolate (not the roasted, processed cousin known as cocoa) as a superfood for health and vitality. Nobody is claiming that the sugar and various other ingredients that usually accompany chocolate are also good for you, but what about the raw cacao, raw chocolate bean itself?



Recent research studies have shown a link between cocoa and cardiovascular health, with reduced risk of blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks.
Cornell University food scientists discovered that cocoa powder has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine, and up to three times the antioxidants found in green tea.
Raw cocoa has the highest antioxidant value of all the natural foods in the world!

Cocoa also appears to have anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties. And cocoa is a good source of the minerals magnesium, sulphur, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium, and manganese; plus some of the B Vitamins. When heart problems occur, magnesium is the most likely mineral to be missing in the person’s diet.
Cocoa has a high content of the “beauty” mineral, sulfur. Sulfur helps build strong nails and hair, promotes healthy and beautiful skin, helps detoxify the liver, and supports healthy functioning of the pancreas.

For the recipe: Buckwheat and Hemp Bark + Raw Chocolate Bar with Goji Berries, Raisins and Nuts


Apple Protein Donuts

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I made use of my donut pan again! Yay! This time, the batter came out to be more than just the 6 that the pan has room for so I might have made them very full when putting the batter in… in turn, the outcome was a donut on one end but a muffin top, kind of, on the other end. Haha, who cares, it’s fun. The flavor was delicious and my dad loved these! He asked me why I didn’t bring more home when I went to visit them on Sunday. He said he could have eaten a whole bunch and more.. as long as he had milk (I don’t know what his obsession is with eating pastries or baked goods with milk. It’s like, he must have milk with it. Strange man haha).



My mom loved that these were’t overly sweet and that they had a subtle cinnamon flavor. I kind of expected them to turn out even more cinnamony, but my parents ensured that the cinnamon flavor was perfect – not overbearing with just the right amount of pow. I guess it’s just me, I am known for dumping a whole bunch of cinnamon into everything I eat though… that’s my obsession I guess. I just love the flavor though. Plus I love the fact that cinnamon helps balance out blood sugar, so I don’t feel as bad eating more sweeter foods. You already know how big of a yogurt obsessed freak I am. Sadly, there is quite a bit of natural occurring sugars in yogurt. Sigh.

For the recipe: Apple Protein Donuts


Banana Cream Tartlets

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I don't know how I got here. To banana cream tartlets. What started out as chocolate stout cupcakes somehow turned into maple whiskey muffins, then roasted banana whiskey muffins, then raw banana cream pie, and now: banana cream tartlets. Quite an unusual (and downright frustrating) transition, but I'm thankful for it. Because it made me realize how much I enjoy making pies. No, seriously. If I had to pick one thing to bake for the rest of eternity, it'd be pie.

You're confused; pie making is the bane of your existence. How could anyone enjoy it? For me, the entire process is theraputic. From pulverizing everything into tiny bits and rolling it out with a big, wooden pin, to vigorously whisking the shit out of some cream and carefully spooning it into each tartlet shell. This process, it calms the waves in my ocean and reminds me that sometimes I just need to get the countertops and space under my fingernails and hair and every saucepan in my kitchen completely filthy, just so I can have a reason to clean and make everything feel new again. And then, when the newness sets in, I'll sink to the kitchen floor with a piece of pie in my lap - a pie that I crafted, from scratch, with my own two hands - and I'll dig in and I'll have never felt more happy or proud to be able to call this my thing. So proud that I want to open the windows and scream to the wanderers below HEY GUYS! I made banana cream tartlets! Without eggs! Or dairy! I WIN!!! But I was too busy shoveling pie into my face to bother with informing anyone of anything.

For the recipe: Banana Cream Tartlets


Fig-Mint Brownies

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Time has a way of wearing down the rough edges, if not healing all wounds. No longer quite as embittered about all the artifice and commercial underpinnings of Valentine's Day, even without a significant other for another year, it doesn't rile me up in quite the same way any more. Gone is the angst-filled teenager adorning black t-shirts with glittery beads spelling out the words "LOVE BITES" or handing out anti-love letters to friends and frenemies alike. Truthfully, it's not all so terrible as it once appeared. Having an annual reminder to appreciate the people in your life, romantically or not, certainly doesn't hurt. Above all else though, it's an excellent excuse to splurge on dessert once more, pulling out all the stops under the guise of treating someone else. It's okay, we all know the baker wants to indulge their own tastes, too.

Chocolate is the taste du jour, so popular that no mere box of truffles could contain it. Brownies, thick, fudgy squares far more versatile than the classic little black dress, are easy to glam up for the occasion. Unintentionally adding a supposed aphrodisiac to the mix, a few dried black figs simply struck me as a perfect pairing to all cacao decadence, light and fruity with a bit of toothsome pull. Likewise, the inclusion of fresh mint seemed like the ideal way to brighten the whole treat, lest the density of these brownies overwhelm the palate.

No, it’s not a figment of your imagination, but they are indeed fig-mint brownies. Stranger things could happen- Just take my gradual acceptance of V-Day as proof.

For the recipe: Fig-Mint Brownies


Chocolate Yogurt Bundt Cake

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Does chocolate cake ever need an introduction, or is this pretty self-explanatory? Fine, I will spell it out for you: I was craving chocolate cake! And I wanted something supermoist, you know, the kind of cake that melts in your mouth and melts your heart and makes you forget about the snow outside that might not ever melt!

I’ve been on a Bundt kick lately, because they’re so casually fancy, and I’ve just been too busy for anything more than one bowl and one baking pan. I threw in some chocolate chips and dusted with powdered sugar to at least give the appearance of effort. And if you’ve got a bushel of strawberries burning a hole in your produce pocket then now is a good time to use ‘em.

So there you have it! A deeply delicious and chocolatey cake that you never need a special occasion to bake. Tonight I’m going to share it with my writing group because another bonus? You can eat it with one hand!

For the recipe: Chocolate Yogurt Bundt Cake


Chocolate Cupcakes & Avocado Frosting {vegan}

on Monday, April 1, 2013. Filed under: , , , , , , , , , , ,
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It's my birthday and I baked myself a cake. Actually, cupcakes… and technically I baked them last night so I could make this little b-day post today. I'm thirty-four today (ouch, that hurts to type). It's the age that you start to forget what age you are… the age when you realize how silly you were when you felt old at 28. And it's the age that you have to start taking really good notes because you just can't keep "it all" in your head anymore.

They say avocados and chocolate are brain foods right? (I don’t know who says, but it seems like something I might have read somewhere). I know it sounds weird and maybe a little gross to put them together but it actually works to make really thick and rich chocolatey frosting.

But here’s a tip – don’t let your husband watch you put the green stuff into the blender. Of any recipe I’ve made, this was perhaps the one he was doubting the most. But, of course, he loved it in the end.

For the recipe: Chocolate Cupcakes with Avocado Frosting


Low Fat Vegan Chocolate Pie

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A simple, no bake vegan chocolate pie filling recipe. The pie firms up nicely and is silky and chocolatey. Top with soy whip or toasted almonds.

For the recipe: Low Fat Chocolate Pie


Vegan Dessert Nachos with Coffee Ice Cream

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Rarely does a dessert get me so giddy that I can’t stop blurting out “epic!” while taking photos. Well, somewhat rare. Desserts do get me all sorts of excited.

So you remember how I made coconut coffee ice cream a while back? Well I had just a few scoops leftover, but I knew I wanted to do something awesome with them. Then, a recent Food Network show I’d seen a while back flashed across my mind and I thought “Dessert Nachos!” My plan was set. Now I just needed to gather my materials and execute, hard.d.

For the recipe: Dessert Nachos


Chocolate Chia Pudding and Other Sugar-Free, Flour-Free Desserts

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I come from a long line of dessert lovers. When I was growing up, my family ate dessert every night after dinner, and my parents still end each day with a bowl of ice cream (though my mother opts for an artificially sweetened one now). It’s a hard habit to break and one I’m afraid I’ve passed down to my daughter. But our typical dessert isn’t ice cream or even Soy Dream but fruit, plain and simple. Of course, if sugary vegan goodies are around, we’ll jump on them like a pack of starving dogs, which is why I try to keep them out of the house entirely.

Keeping the sugary stuff out of the house has been even more important since I resolved at the beginning of the year to cut out sugar and flour and increase the amount of vegetables I eat. If you’ve been following my KISSS plan, you know that I outlawed not just refined sugar but also dried fruit, such as dates. I’m going to say something that may be heresy to most proponents of unprocessed vegan diets, but I believe that dates, date sugar, and date syrup, especially in the large amounts that some recipes use, are only slightly less unhealthy than white sugar. Sure, dates contain vitamins and minerals and some fiber, but they are still a very concentrated form of sugar. If you’re like me and trying to eliminate your sweet tooth, moving from white sugar to date sugar isn’t going to stop your cravings.

For the recipe: Chocolate Chia Pudding


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