Toasted Seed and Almond Bars with Salted Date Caramel

Toasted Seed and Almond Bars with Salted Date Caramel :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

Happy new year everyone! I’m back in the kitchen again, and have been preparing lots of healthy snacks and nibbles for the week to come. Among many other things I have made a batch of my Vanilla and Cardamom Almond Butter, a batch of GF Seed Crackers and I also made these super yummy Toasted Seed and Almond bars with Salted Date Caramel.

I often make these for snacks on the go, or to go with a cup of coffee or tea in the afternoon – so good! I’ve previously posted the recipe in Swedish here (with apricots instead of dates), but never had time to publish it in English. So here we go!

It’s a no-bake recipe with only a few simple steps to follow (my favorite kind of recipe!). Perfect to start off this new year’s snacking in a healthy way!


Toasted Seed and Almond Bars with Salted Date Caramel

makes about 10 bars

40 g (1/3 cup) raw almonds
80 g (1/2 cup) melon seeds
80 g (1/2 cup) sunflower seeds
3 tbsp unhulled sesame seeds

8 medjool dates (or 12 unsulphured soft dried apricots)
3 tbsp coconut oil, unscented
1 tbsp water
1/2 tsp powdered vanilla
1/4 tsp sea salt

1) In a dry skillet on medium heat, lightly toast the almonds. Add melon and sunflower seeds and toast 1-2 more minutes, until they start to “pop”. Watch carefully not to burn them. Add sesame seeds and toast very quickly until they turn golden and fragrant. Remove from the heat. Once the seeds/almonds are cool enough to handle, tumble them into the bowl of a food processor and pulse one or two times just to chop them up slightly. Transfer to a big bowl.
2) To make the date caramel: add dates, coconut oil, water, vanilla and salt to the bowl of your food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. You may have to stop, remove the lid and scrape the mixture down the sides and off the bottom of the processor bowl a few times.
3) Line a small baking tin with parchment paper. Add the date caramel mixture to the bowl with the toasted seeds/almonds and use a spoon or your hands to mix until all seeds/almonds are covered with the caramel. Transfer to the lined baking tin and, using the palm of your hand or the back of a spoon, press the mixture down very firmly to create an even and compact bar (roughly 1-1,5 cm high). Let set in the fridge for about 1 hour before cutting into 10 bars.
4) Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. I haven’t tried freezing these babies yet (obviously because they never last long :-O), but do let me know how it worked if you try!

TIP! You can make the bars with dried unsulphured apricots instead of medjool dates – the result will be a little fruitier and less caramel-like, but still super delicious! And with dried apricots you get a bar with a slightly lower GI (glycemic index) than with medjool dates.

Toasted Seed and Almond Bars with Salted Date Caramel :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

A Holiday Cheese Board with Homemade Fig and Orange Marmalade + Spicy Nuts

This post is sponsored by Saint Agur and as always, photos and words by me.

A Holiday Cheese Board with Homemade Fig and Orange Marmalade + Spicy Nuts :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

I have worked with Saint Agur blue cheese to create this cheese board with a few really simple homemade snacks to go with it. I really love Christmas, but I am totally not into stressing over food, decorations, gifts or anything really.

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely think that good food, gifts, flowers and a beautifully decorated home are all important for a cozy Christmas. And they all contribute to getting us into that lovely holiday spirit. But not if it takes over and makes you feel more stressed out than happy. And not if it takes over the most important thing – to be with your loved ones and to take care of each other!

So. With only a few days left until Christmas Eve, take a deep breath, toast some nuts, go buy that piece of cheese, some oranges and dried figs. Just add wine and a few friends and take an evening to just chill and get into the spirit of Christmas.

The nuts are ready in less than an hour (with almost no work on your part) and while they’re roasting you can cook the marmalade, which is so delicious you won’t believe that it’s made of dried figs and is done in less than 20 minutes.

Wishing you a wonderful start to the Christmas week!

Mixed spiced nuts

2 cups mixed raw nuts (e.g. almonds, cashews and walnuts)

6 tbsp coarse sea salt
2 cups water

1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp olive oil
fleur de sel to sprinkle

1) Rinse and drain the nuts in cold water. Bring water and coarse sea salt to a boil and remove from heat. Add the nuts to the salt water and soak for 30-45 minutes. Drain well and wipe off any excess water.
2) Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F). Place the drained nuts on a parchment paper on a rimmed baking sheet. In a small bowl mix (using a fork) all the spices with the maple syrup and olive oil. Then, with your hands, make sure the nuts are covered with the spice mixture. Sprinkle with a few pinches fleur de sel.
3) Roast on the middle rack for 15 minutes, stir and continue roasting for 8-10 minutes or until fragrant and the nuts are light brown on the inside.
3) Remove from oven and let cool completely before you place them in an airtight jar.

A Holiday Cheese Board with Homemade Fig and Orange Marmalade + Spicy Nuts :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

Fig and Orange Marmalade

200 g (about 1 cup) soft dried figs (soaked 20 mins in water if they’re not very soft)
6 tbsp maple syrup
6 tbsp filtered water
1/2 tsp crushed cardamom seeds
1 organic orange, juice and zest

1) Cut the figs in smaller pieces. In a small to medium sized pot bring maple syrup and water to the boil then add figs, cardamom and orange juice + zest.
2) Cook on medium to high heat for 10-15 minutes until the marmalade has thickened, and watch carefully so it won’t burn. The marmalade will thicken more once cooled. Add more water if you like it more runny.
3) Take the pot off the heat and store in an airtight jar for up to a month.

TIP! The marmalade also makes a lovely last minute gift.

A Holiday Cheese Board with Homemade Fig and Orange Marmalade + Spicy Nuts :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

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A sweet and spicy Kale and Brussels sprout salad for Christmas

This post is sponsored by Kung Markatta and as always, photos and words by me.

A sweet and spicy Kale and Brussels sprout salad for Christmas :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

According to a survey made recently by Kung Markatta, the Swedes want more green dishes and more vegetarian options to choose from during the holidays. The survey also shows that Christmas food is very important to the Swedes, in fact even more important than the Christmas tree and the gifts, and that two out of three Swedes believe in a greener future when it comes to food traditions around Christmas. Yay – so do I!

With the campaign #framtidensjulbord Kung Markatta wants to inspire people to choose greener and more sustainable food during the holidays. So let’s create some new classics for the Christmas table! I hope that you’ll consider trying my super delicious kale and brussels sprout salad and do check out all the new recipes created by chef Paul Svensson for Kung Markatta for more inspiration and new ideas!

A sweet and spicy Kale and Brussels sprout salad for Christmas :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

I created this recipe with simplicity and great flavor in mind. I believe that many of us (at least if you’re anything like me) want more time to sit down and chat with grandma, play with the kids or take a long walk on Christmas day rather than spending all the time in the kitchen. Don’t misunderstand me – I love to cook and I love to cook up a great Christmas “smörgåsbord” – but it doesn’t hurt if one or two of the dishes are really easy to throw together and at the same time super nutritious and delicious!

This salad features both kale, brussels sprouts and apples which are all seasonal and locally grown produce here in Sweden (thus more sustainable). I’ve paired it with a slightly sweet and spicy dressing, sweet juicy raisins, yummy beluga lentils, salty and chewy halloumi cheese and crunchy toasted almonds. Most of the ingredients are from Kung Markatta, which is always organic – do I have to tell you how much I love that?

Sweet and spicy. Chewy and crunchy. Nutritious and delicious. This is more than just another salad. It can serve as a vegetarian main dish along with a good bread and some olive oil. It can be a side on a Christmas buffé table and it can serve as a healthy “detox” salad the days after the holidays ;-). And you can, of course, swap the halloumi cheese for e.g. tofu for a completely vegan dish.

I hope you’ll like it! And – remember to always eat mindfully and in moderation. But that doesn’t count if you’re only eating salad anyway… Be back soon!

Find the recipe in Swedish here.

A sweet and spicy Kale and Brussels sprout salad for Christmas

serves 8 as a side or 4 as a main

8-10 Medium to large Curly Kale leaves, rinsed de-stemmed and rougly chopped
1/2 cup Brussels sprouts, leaves only (rinsed)
1/2 cup Kung Markatta Beluga lentils (rinsed) + 1 cup water + 1/2 Kung Markatta Umami stock cube
1-2 Red apples (preferably a firm and tart variety), sliced
200 g Halloumi cheese, torn or cut into smaller pieces
1/3 cup Kung Markatta Sultana raisins
1/2 cup Kung Markatta Almonds
Fresh Rosemary to finish

1 tsp Powdered ginger
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
2 tbsp Kung Markatta Apple Cider Vinegar (unfiltered)
1 tbsp Kung Markatta Maple Syrup
4 tbsp Kung Markatta Extra Virgin Olive Oil
pinch of sea salt

1) For the dressing whisk together the spices, apple cider vinegar and maple syrup. Add the olive oil and a pinch of salt and whisk until well blended. Set aside.
2) Combine the beluga lentils with the water and 1/2 Umami stock cube in a small pot. Bring to the boil and cook for 18-20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender but not falling apart. Remove from the heat and let the lentils cool in their own liquid. Then drain.
3) Toast the almonds in a dry frying pan over medium heat until fragrant and slightly browned. Set aside, let cool and then chop roughly.
4) Toss the chopped kale with the brussels sprouts leaves in a large bowl. Add half of the dressing and toss/lightly massage the leaves to absorb the flavors. This will also make them easier to digest. Add the raisins and toss again.
5) On a large salad plate or wooden board combine the kale, brussels sprouts, beluga lentils and apples.
6) Fry the halloumi cheese over medium heat until golden. Add it to the salad along with the chopped almonds and some fresh rosemary. Drizzle over some more dressing to finish it off and serve immediately.

TIP! Swap the halloumi cheese for Kung Markatta Tofu to make the dish vegan. And do keep in mind that halloumi cheese tastes best when served immediately. If you’re planning on making this for a buffé (and you won’t eat all of it immediately) you could use goat’s cheese or feta cheese instead.

A sweet and spicy Kale and Brussels sprout salad for Christmas :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

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Gingerbread spiced bliss balls for Christmas

Gingerbread spiced bliss balls for Christmas :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

I have made these healthy little gingerbread bliss balls around Christmas time a few years in a row now. And every time (before I make them) I think to myself; Are they really that good? Are they worth making again?

And, after making them, I realize every time that the answer is definitely YES! These are SO easy to make and SO good! And it’s a sweet that make you feel good afterwards too, since they are packed with nutrition and good energy.

Many bliss ball recipes call for dates, but for this recipe I like apricots better. They aren’t as sweet as dates and they have one of the lowest glycemic index of all dried fruit – only 31 in fact. So they won’t make your blood sugar rush as fast! Just make sure you go for sulfite free apricots (they are dark brown in color) and preferably organic.

I’ll be back again next week with a super delicious kale salad recipe for Christmas! Until then – I hope you try these. Please let me know what you think in the comments if you do!

Gingerbread bliss balls

makes about 20

1 cup + 1/4 cup (200 g) raw almonds
1 cup (200 g) dried apricots (sulfite free)
50 g raw cocoa nibs (can be omitted but they do add a nice crunch)
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cardamom
2 tsp ground cinnamon
0,5 tsp sea salt
juice from 2 small clementines (or 1 orange)

finely chopped almonds, lingonberry powder, chia seeds or cinnamon to roll in

1) Place the almonds in a high speed blender or in a food processor and process until you have a grainy consistency. Add spices and cacao nibs and pulse a few times until well mixed. Add apricots and clementine (or orange) juice and process until everything is well mixed and a dough forms. You might need to stop and scrape the mix down the sides a few times during the process if your blender/food processor isn’t powerful enough.
2) When all ingredients are well mixed, use your hands to form 20 round balls. Roll them in chopped almonds, lingonberry powder, chia seeds or cinnamon and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving. Keeps for at least a week in an airtight container.

Gingerbread spiced bliss balls for Christmas :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

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Okonomiyaki (Japanese savory cabbage pancakes) – where have you been all my life?

Okonomiyaki with scallions and black sesame seeds :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

Yes – where have this genius Japanese dish been all my life? I have always loved Japanese food and flavours. But I had never heard of Okonomiyaki until only a few months back, when I stumbled upon a recipe on the Internet while searching for other stuff. It instantly sparked my interest and it wasn’t long until I tried, and quickly adjusted the recipe to fit my own cooking style.

My take on this genious dish is gluten free, using buckwheat flour which is known to be a blood-building food that can help clean and strengthen intestines and lower blood pressure. Seems like a great idea instead of regular wheat flour right? My recipe has quite few ingredients involved (but you can always add more according to mood and current taste) and can be thrown together in less than 15 minutes.

To sum it up – this charming dish is almost too good to be true! At least if you love cabbage as much as I do. It is both fast, simple, healthy and delicious at the same time. Perfect everyday food when you crave something warm and comforting and you have very little time!

Please let me know in the comments if perhaps you have tried genuine Okonomiyaki in Japan, or if you have made other versions yourself!

Okonomiyaki with scallions and black sesame seeds

8 smaller pancakes (serves 2 hungry people as a main or 4 as a side)

400 g (about 4 cups) white cabbage, finely shredded (a mandolin is a great tool here)
a bunch of scallions (6-8 stalks), finely chopped
2 tbsp black sesame seeds

6 tbsp buckwheat flour
6 tbsp water
2 eggs
1/2 tsp sea salt
pinch of black pepper
pinch of chili flakes (optional)

sesame oil and coconut oil for frying
tamari or teriyaki sauce, coriander leaves + pickled red ginger to serve

1) In a medium to large bowl combine buckwheat flour and water and whisk until smooth. Add the eggs, salt, pepper and chili flakes (if using) and beat until you have a smooth batter.
2) Add the shredded cabbage, scallions and sesame seeds and mix throughly using a fork until everything is covered in the pancake batter.
3) Heat 1 tbsp each of sesame oil and coconut oil in a large frying pan. Using a spoon and a fork (I find this the easiest way) place four little heaps of the batter in the middle of the pan. I like mine a little “messy”. Fry 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden and crispy. Repeat until you have used up all of the batter.
4) Serve immediately with tamari or teriyaki sauce, coriander leaves + pickled red ginger.

Filling add-ons suggestions:
• Arame, soaked 10-20 minutes and drained (absolutely delicious and adds valuable minerals and proteins)
• Cooked noodles, rice, quinoa etc. (a great way to use up leftovers and make the pancakes more filling)
• Grated potatoes, sweet potatoes or other roots
• Grated cheese
• Seafood

Please note: I do not claim to have a genuine Japanese recipe for you here. It is inspired by several basic recipes that I found during my research, but it is totally my personal take on the dish and it is probably a lot “simpler” than the original. This applies to the toppings as well. But like I said – I have adjusted the recipe to fit my personal cooking style and tastes. I hope you like it too!

Okonomiyaki with scallions and black sesame seeds :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

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