Thursday, February 20, 2014

better butter tart

Who says that eating a delicious treat has to be unhealthy? If you have had a butter tart you know how unbelievably tasty and addicting they are; melt in your mouth buttery crust with a sweet gooey mouth-watering center with plump raisins. The problem is that they are not even remotely healthy (well, except for the raisins). These better for you butter tarts are made with naturally processed sweeteners, oats, and brown rice flour instead of white flour and sugar/corn syrup. Recipe adapted from

I think that what we put in our bodies should be wholesome fuel. What are we giving our bodies when we fill it with highly processed, artificial "junk"? Not to say that we can never indulge in an occasional unhealthy treat but those times should be balanced with a majority of wise, health conscious choices. When we are aware of what is in our food and how it affects our bodies it will be easier to choose foods that give instead of take. That being said, despite the challenge, eating well can be so fun. What could be better than something being delicious and nutritious? OK, there is my little spiel :) Now for a little explanation:

Sweeteners like white sugar and corn syrup aren't that great, nor is white flour. Why is that? God created food the way it is for a reason. Our bodies thrive on "whole" foods. When foods are processed they are stripped of important minerals and other nutrients. Obviously they aren't adding anything beneficial. Also, when we eat these things they draw out the necessary minerals for digestion from our cells and bones. Kind of not so good. 
For those that are trying to maintain or loose weight empty carbs and sugars are enemies. Our bodies are made to handle only so much blood glucose so the insulin secreted to store everything in our cells is overworked and deposits excess blood glucose in our fat cells (which are never picky and always hungry for leftovers).

What is different about whole grains and unprocessed sweeteners? Obviously our bodies aren't made to fill up on only grains and sweets, even if they are the natural and unprocessed kinds. As a special treat these are great (not as an overindulgence...sigh). Brown rice syrup and barley malt are grain-based sweeteners which are naturally made from fermented grains. They are made of 50% maltose which is 1/3 as sweet as sugar and at least half of their content are the nutrients found in the original whole grains. These are complex sugars which take longer to digest than processed sweeteners so blood sugar levels don't dip and soar but maintain a healthy balance.

Now, finally on to making these treats...

makes 12 large or 24 small tarts


2 cups rolled oats
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 tsp. sea salt
6 Tbsp brown rice syrup
5 Tbsp. coconut oil

1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup barley malt
2 Tbsp. arrowroot powder (this thickens without making the filling cloudy)
2 Tbsp. baking powder
2-3 Tbsp unsalted butter or ghee, melted (coconut oil works too, but you loose the buttery taste)
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped (plus 1 tsp. vanilla extract)
1/4 tsp. baking powder
sea salt, couple pinches
1/3 cup raisins (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 325ยบ.
2. Make the crust: in blender or food processor process rolled oats until you have a rough flour. In a large mixing bowl combine the oat flour with brown rice flour and salt. In a small saucepan melt the coconut oil and brown rice syrup together. Pour over dry ingredients and mix/kneed with your hands.
3. In a standard size (or mini) muffin pan, press golf ball sized amount of dough firmly into each cup, pressing up the sides as well until you have a thin even crust. 
4. Bake for 10 minutes until just turning a light golden color on the edges. Remove from oven.
5. While shells are baking, make the filling: melt the butter (or ghee or coconut oil) in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the vanilla seeds and vanilla.
6. In a medium bowl, pour in brown rice syrup and barley malt. Pour in the melted butter and whisk to combine. Sift in arrowroot and baking powder, add salt and whisk until smooth. Fold in raisins.
7. Divide filling between all shells, keeping filling below rim of crust. Place in oven for about 20 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and browning around the edges. Remove from oven and cool, then place in refrigerator until completely chilled. This will crystallize the sugars and will make it easy to pop them out.
8. Using a small sharp knife, insert the tip down the side of each tart to break the sugar seal. You can keep them at room temperature in a tightly sealed container. Warm them up before serving if you like them nice and gooey.

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