It’s finally spring! Although, we had a pretty amazing winter, didn’t we? There wasn’t much too complain about, other than that freak snow storm in March that left Montreal with over 45cm of snow on the ground. But with the snow almost fully melted and the days hitting 10C+, I’d say we’re in the clear, folks. Running outside has become a joy again. Toronto’s winter is a little more forgiving, cold wise, and you’re able to run year-long, but once I got back to Montreal on March 1st, I was reminded how winter here is very different compared to our southern neighbour. Unless you’re hardcore and you buy those spiky attachments to clip onto the bottom of your shoes to help protect against the ice, you’re forced to seek out indoor fitness activities.
This time of year is my favourite time to run. The air is crisp and super refreshing. Wearing a light sweater, plus the ever-nearing sun, I find these runs to be extra energizing. Come summer, the heat can sometimes be too much and you find yourself waiting until the late evening to get out for your run. Not into running? Don’t sweat it! I’ve seem to have met quite a few people lately whom are out there stressing themselves doing an activity that they really don’t enjoy. If running isn’t your thing, there are tons of other cardiovascular activities you can try; walking, dance classes, tennis, etc. That being said, I get that signing up to new classes solo can be daunting, which leads me to my next point. For the past few weeks now, a friend and I have became our own personal training coaches. Every night, we design a mini workout for the other person and we send it to them to complete the following day. The only rule is that we need to complete the given workout sometime the next day and check in with each other via text.At first we started slow, as you do after waking from a deep slumber of a hibernation, and we sent each other one workout and completed 3 sets; 20 bicycle crunches x 3 or 20 jump squats x 3, etc. We weren’t sure how enthused the other person was going to be about our new agreement. Fortunately, it only too a couple days and we agreed to up the ante. We said we’d up our workout to 3 or 4 strength training exercises followed by a cardio, which we also completed 3 sets of. Once we finish our workouts, we check in with each other and say what we liked, where we struggled and anything else that comes to mind.It’s quickly become my favourite thing. Why? It takes out all the guess work from your day! When you wake up you have a detailed workout (arm day, leg day, abs, etc.) and you have the day to complete it whenever suits you best. Plus, the whole ‘checking in’ thing keeps you totally accountable. It’s super easy to fall off the wagon and give yourself an excuse as to why today isn’t a great day to workout, but it’s a whole other story when you have to tell your friend. Especially when you know he’s on the other side crushing your workout. You struggle together and you see progress together. And seeing progress is what catapults your motivation to new heights.
So, if running outdoors or playing a sport isn’t your jam, but you want to incorporate fitness into your daily life, I highly recommend reaching out to a friend and starting up this buddy system. Activities are always more fun when it’s with a friend, especially when it comes to staying in shape. Now, you might be sitting there thinking, ‘How are you talking about fitness AND posting these creamy, orange chocolate cashew tarts?’ Well, good news, folks. This, what looks like a dangerous-weight-gaining-evil-tart, couldn’t be further from the truth. These guys are made with heart healthy fats from the coconut, avocado and nuts, loaded with vitamin-C from the freshly pressed oranges, and magnesium-rich cacao. Best of all, there’s not a grain of refined white sugar in this recipe. Instead, the tarts are lightly sweetened with pure maple syrup. I’ll say this for good measure though, like all things in life, indulging in moderation is key. Eggs are great for you, but should you eat 15 of them in a sitting? Nope. Same goes for this recipe. It’s packed full of nutrients, yes, but if you lead a sedentary lifestyle, loafing around eating tarts all day wouldn’t be the best choice. We have to keep some balance 😉 These tarts are great as a dessert, heck, even breakfast, or as an afternoon pick-me-up. I like to have one after a workout session. The small amount of insulin released from the pure maple syrup and orange juice helps shuttle nutrients from the other ingredients into the cell for energy and cell repair.
Speaking of oranges, the folks over at The Feed Feed, a beautiful website that connects chefs / home cooks / food bloggers around the world, featured this recipe on their site. They created a feed showcasing oranges and were gracious enough to include my recipe on their feed! Come check out what other food bloggers are whipping up in the kitchen with this versatile fruit. 🙂
- 2 cups walnuts
- 1 cup dates, soaked in warm water for 15 minutes
- pinch sea salt
- 2 cups cashews, soaked overnight or at least 4 hours
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 avocado
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/2 cup freshly pressed orange juice
- 1/4 cup virgin coconut oil
- 1.5 tbsp fresh orange zest
- 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 3 tbsp raw cacao powder
- 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
- orange zest (optional garnish)
- Optional - but it helps - I chose to cut out 6 inch long strips of parchment paper to line the base of each muffin tart. (see pics) They act as handles at the final stage. They make pulling the tarts out a little easier. Again, totally optional.
- In a food processor, blend all base ingredients until smooth. Using your fingers, press into the muffin tarts. This will be your tarts base layer. They should be around 1 cm thick. Place in freezer.
- In a rinsed food processor, blend all filling ingredients until smooth. Taste test. Does it need more chocolate, maple, orange? You be the judge!
- Pour chocolate filling into muffin tins. Place a tea towel on the counter. Holding on to either end of the muffin pan, gentle tap the muffin pan repeatedly on the tea towel. This well help level out each tart's contents. Place in freezer for 30 minutes.
- In a small double boiler, melt coconut oil. Add cacao and maple and stir well.
- Remove pan from freezer and pour chocolate layer overtop each tart. When finished, place pan back into the freezer.
- Remove the tarts 5 minutes before serving. Holding onto the parchment handles, gently remove the tarts from their casing. You may want to poke around the edges with a knife beforehand to help loosen it up.
- Serve & Enjoy!
- Store tarts in fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for 2 months.