Dessert of the Month: Gluten-Free, Vegan Cranberry Almond Tartlets

If you’re cooking for vegan and gluten-free friends or family this Thanksgiving, these tartlets are the perfect way to please everyone at the table. Unlike most desserts served on this holiday, this one is made without butter, sugar, cream and eggs. Instead the recipe calls for toasted nuts, whole grains, coconut oil, maple syrup and agar. Agar is a neutral-flavored seaweed that is used as a vegetarian gelatin; here, along with arrowroot, it gives great texture to the toasted almond filling.
As with most vegan and gluten-free tarts, these are best served the day they’re made. You can press the crusts and freeze them ahead of time to give yourself a head start. The toasted almond milk for the filling and the cranberry topping can also be made up to three days in advance; just bake the tart shells and cook the filling the day you’re serving them.
Although rolled oats do not contain gluten, they are rolled in facilities that also process grains with gluten. So if you’re making these for someone with a severe gluten allergy, be sure to use certified gluten-free oats and oat flour. If you have a nut milk bag, you can use it to strain the toasted almond milk for the filling. When removing tart shells from pans, it helps to gently squeeze the sides of the pans to help release them. Using tartlet pans with removable bottoms is a safe way to avoid breakages.
Cranberry and Toasted Almond TartletsYield: 10 3-inch tartlets
Crust:3/4 cup rolled oats3/4 cup whole toasted almonds, see note1/4 teaspoon sea salt3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons oat flour6 tablespoons brown rice flour1/4 cup melted extra virgin coconut oil, plus more for tartlet pans6 tablespoons maple syrup2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Filling:2 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon water, divided3/4 cup whole toasted almonds, see note1 tablespoon agar flakes1/3 cup maple syrupPinch sea salt2 teaspoons arrowroot1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Topping:2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries1/4 cup fresh orange juicePinch cinnamon3 tablespoons maple syrup1 teaspoon arrowroot2 teaspoons water
Make the Crust:Add oats, toasted almonds and sea salt to a food processor and blend until finely ground. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in oat flour and brown rice flour. Drizzle in coconut oil and mix well. Add maple syrup and vanilla, then stir to combine. Dough will be quite wet. Cover bowl and set aside for 30 to 60 minutes, or until dough is moist but no longer sticky.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Thoroughly oil tartlet pans and press dough evenly into each pan, trimming excess dough from the edges. Prick bottom with a fork several times, place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until golden and fragrant. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
Make the Filling:Line a medium strainer with a thin kitchen towel or several layers of cheesecloth, place it over a medium pot and set aside. Combine 2 1/2 cups water and toasted almonds in an upright blender and blend until smooth. Pour almond milk through the lined strainer into pot. Gather edges of cloth and gently squeeze out milk, discard the dry pulp that remains. Add agar flakes, maple syrup and salt to almond milk, and whisk to combine. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, whisking every minute or so. Cover pot, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, or until all the agar is dissolved.
Combine arrowroot with remaining tablespoon of water and slowly drizzle into simmering liquid. Once mixture returns to a simmer, remove from heat and whisk in vanilla.
Carefully remove crusts from tartlet pans. Pour 1/4 cup of the warm filling into each tart shell. Place on a flat tray and set aside; once the filling has stopped steaming, place the tartlets in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or until ready to serve.
Make the Topping:Add cranberries, orange juice, cinnamon and maple syrup to small pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, stir, cover pot, reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, or until cranberries are soft. Dissolve arrowroot in water and slowly drizzle into cranberries, remove from heat once mixture has returned to a simmer. Set aside to cool. Top each tartlet with a spoon of cranberry mixture and serve.
Note: Using freshly toasted almonds in these tartlets gives the best flavor. It’s also easy to do: Spread whole, raw almonds over a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Place in a 300 degree oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the inside is a shade darker. Set aside to cool.
Amy Chaplin is a chef and recipe developer in New York City. Her cookbook At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen is available this fall. She blogs at

Financial health with debt review and debt counselling

A lot of emphasis is put on our health these days but “health” is such a generic term and there are so many different aspects to true holistic health. Physical and mental health are important but to a large degree these can also be affected by our financial health. It costs a lot of money these days to eat well and to get good medical attention. Going to gym to exercise takes a lot of effort but after you’ve paid you membership fees and trainer you realise that even this comes at a financial cost. When it comes to being in a good mental space there’s nothing quite like being in debt to put you into a bad mood. If you find yourself in a lot of debt it would be worth your while to get some help by approaching a financial expert to get some debt counselling to get you out of the red.

Debt review and counselling

The debt review process in South Africa has been around for a few years now and many people have found themselves come from a financially sick place to being back in the financial state where they can begin to live a little more carefree again. If you have more than one credit card, clothing accounts, a car you’re paying off and a bond then you are probably a likely candidate for this kind of financial help. Being in debt can have a significant effect on your mental health and this in turn can have a material effect on your physical health. This is why there is no point to working out, eating right and neglecting your finances.

The NCA, or National Credit Act, contains a section that outlines what is required when a consumer has more debts than they are able to pay with the amount of money they have and the amount of income they have. The act makes provision for the consumer to undergo debt counselling. This process would involve getting advice from a qualified debt counsellor as to how to handle this financial probelm. These counsellors would have to be registered with body that has oversight of this industry called, the National Credit Regulator. If you live in South Africa and you find yourself having to deal with a lot of debt make use of this program and get back to a financially healthy position.

My Vote For Best Diet Goes To Venus Factor

I love reading about new diets and weight loss programs. I enjoy learning about our bodies and reading the new research that doctors are doing regarding how our bodies work and why certain weight loss strategies work and why others don’t. There are so many new diets being promoted online and on television that it can sometimes be difficult to choose the right one. Every woman wants to look better or be in better shape. Society has promoted the idea of being super skinny as the ideal but we we would probably be better off aiming for the body shape of the Venus de Milo which is a sculpture depicting Aphrodite the Roman goddess of beauty and love. She wasn’t exactly skinny but had a healthy body shape which we could aspire to.

Venus Factor

One of the latest diets that does just this is actually called the venus factor . It is a diet that was designed by a man called John Barban. He became interested in the effect that the hormone Leptin has on women’s bodies. It turns out that Leptin regulates whether we feel hungry or satisfied. It has a big effect on the cravings we get when we go on a diet as well. Often it’s these cravings that sabotage our dieting efforts and cause us to cave in and eat a Snickers bar when we really can’t afford to.


I enjoyed reading the venus factor diet reviews and found myself convinced that this program really could work. There are a lot of women who claim to have had dramatic weight loss results by following the system and there are some pretty impressive before and after pictures. If you’re going to choose a new diet this one would be a good choice. Make sure that before you choose any fat loss system that you do proper research. Make sure that the proposed diet is backed by good science and isn’t just a new way for people to get your money while leaving you looking as you always did. You don’t want to be fat but you definitely don’t want to be fat and out of pocket. Rather have the experience that the woman in the video below had.

Natural antibiotics, colloidal silver and your body

It seems that staying healthy is often only a concern once people become ill. When nothings wrong with us then we tend not to pay much attention to our health. When we get ill there’s a mad scramble for info on our symptoms and we try and find out what we can do to get well again as soon as possible. One of the go-to solutions for many of our ailments has been the miracle of antibiotics. The benefit that antibiotics has brought to mankind in general cannot be overstated but through overuse and careless prescriptions by doctors has turned the cure into a potential enemy of our health.

Long before these tablets ended up in our dispensaries indigenous people were using natural remedies that they found in the plants that surrounded them. Natural antibiotics are all around us and for the most part we don’t even know it. You may be spending a fortune at the pharmacy when you could probably get more benefit from what’s growing in your garden.

Granted not all natural remedies are easy to come by. A lot of the substances we could benefit from are pretty exotic and don’t necessarily grow like weeds in your garden. As more and more people are learning the benefits of natural remedies it’s becoming easier to find suppliers who are bottling the stuff and willing to send it straight to your door. A good example of this is the folks over at a company called SevenPointFive which focuses on balancing the body’s pH and using natural elements to promote health. They perform live blood analysis and based on the results recommend some of the natural products they produce.

One of their great products is colloidal silver. For the longest time people have known about the benefits of silver as a natural anti-bacterial. Medical uses of Silver include wound dressings, antibacterial creams and many others. Colloidal silver is microscopic particles of silver suspended in liquid and apparently in this form can provide a myriad of health benefits for all sorts of ailments.

One of their other products is focused on Liver detox . Your liver is responsible for keeping your body clean and in tip top condition. If your liver isn’t working optimally then your body can experience a buildup of toxins. If your liver has been hammered by a few nights out or by poor eating then this may be why you’re experiencing headaches and nausea. Using this liver detox product apparently cleanses the body of toxins as well as protects the liver from toxin ingress.

Besides colloidal silver they also provide a number of other natural products that they promote as healthy natural alternatives to conventional medicines. Even folks looking for a Lupus treatment may find what they’re looking for here. Lupus, or its full name, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is a condition caused by the body’s immune system causes inflammation in the joints, skin, kidneys and other organs. SevenPointFive claim to be able to treat this condition as well as others by cleansing, nourishing and balancing the pH of your body.