When a Pomegranate meets the Brussel Sprouts…..

Initially I wanted to talk only about Brussels sprouts in this post, those cute mini cabbages from the impressive list of Brassicacaea, which are all so very good for us.
My first exposure to these little, emerald spheres was at an early age, probably through a Green Giant commercial on television. Did you know Brussels sprouts are one of the most disliked vegetable amongst children? Our mother, Mary, did not care for them either. In fact, she so disliked two members of this family of veggies, Brussel sprouts & (surprise, surprise… )parsnips, as children we never had either of them on our table. Unlike other kids, I did not have to worry about finding places to stash mine in order to avoid eating them. While Mary disliked parsnips and Brussels, she loved their other relatives; cabbages, rutabagas, turnips, radishes, broccoli and cauliflower, yep, all relatives or cultivars of cruciferous vegetables. I don’t think she was aware that collards & kale are also related. Alternatively, she may not have even known that they existed, as we lived in New Jersey and her family was from Ireland, so there was no exposure to such “greens”.  It seems she instinctually knew for some reason these were healthy foods, but I’m just not sure why.
Brussels sprouts are available in time for our holiday tables and actually taste better if harvested after a good, hard frost. They are packed with the same powerful antioxidants which cruciferous veggies are known for. They are tiny globes of Vitamin A, C, K, folate and fiber, although they are most known for their bitterness, especially if overcooked. 
One question which comes up, is whether it is this bitterness which indicates the health benefits of such vegetables?  Cruciferous vegetables contain Glucosinolates and one in particular known as Sinigrin, present in Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, is thought to be the cause of the bitterness . Glucosinolates are the chemical starting points for certain cancer-protective phytonutrients.  Another question concerning these compounds is the possibility of interfering with thyroid function. This may be a concern for some when consuming vast quantities of (especially raw) cruciferous vegetables, however evidence suggests this is not a problem for Brussels sprouts in particular. Roasting the sprouts seems to help eliminate some of the bitterness, as does pairing with fruit.

I can’t remember when I developed my taste for Brussels sprouts, but regardless, I married a man who did not share my love for them, until I prepared them with walnuts and orange zest. We know that adding a little sweetness can counter act the bitter taste and the healthy fat from the walnuts aids in absorption of nutrients. Now I can’t stop his cravings for them! He seeks them out and prepares them himself which is how this post came to fruition. While contemplating the possibilities for a December submission, I was torn over several ideas until David brought home some Brussels sprouts after he had been away on a long business trip devoid of vegetables. He was having a craving. He was away over Thanksgiving when I prepared the (in)famous dish and could not wait until Christmas so he will be making some roasted sprouts with orange and walnuts tonight. But alas, I have a brand new and different idea for the Holiday sprouts! 
I believe they are talking to each other! Does anyone know of a story about a pomegranate and a frog????

In our kitchen we have a stained glass window, dated 1875, which features pomegranates (and a frog). I love pomegranates for their exotic appearance, the flavor, the color and the nutritional content. Originally from Persia, they have been used in culinary applications since ancient times. The source for Grenadine- a reduced concentration of pomegranate juice and the inspiration for the name of a weapon, the grenade! They are in season from September through February which overlaps with Brussels sprouts season. I like to keep a few in a bowl on the windowsill of the stained glass panel which is where David’s stash of Brussels had been placed.  We use the seeds from these “love apples” in salads, and smoothies, etc.

Getting seeded the old way - in a water bath!!

The pomegranate has long been identified as a symbol of health, fertility and eternal life however recent studies show the phytonutrients found only in pomegranates called punicalagins benefit our hearts and blood vessels. Punicalagins are responsible for the pomegranate's antioxidant and health benefits, plus may make them responsible for lowering cholesterol and protecting arteries. After falling asleep with all these thoughts bouncing around in my head, I woke in the middle of the night with this tremendous drive to pair the Brussels and Pomegranate together! It was as though the two conspired on the counter and spoke to me subliminally, encouraging me to connect them! WOW! Two super-foods in a never-before seen (at least in my kitchen) combination! SO here we have it; two powerful ‘superfoods’  together in a delicious Holiday dish.

BTW, I now prefer my sprouts RAW after having a shaved-sprout-slaw salad at two of our area’s great restaurants. Both The Gothic in Belfast and Comida Latin Kitchen in Camden have served fabulous shaved Brussels sprout salads! It had never occurred to me to eat these guys uncooked and boy are they delicious this way!  Feel free to try pairing the sprouts and pomegranate seeds uncooked in a salad! Just slice the sprouts very thinly and toss with a honey-vinaigrette or just lemon juice, rice vinegar and pomegranate molasses (another of my must have condiments!)
Be careful not to confuse drinking vast quantities of pomegranate juice with eating the healthy seeds, especially paired with the sprouts in this dish. Pomegranate juice has a high sugar content and the health risks could outweigh benefits when it comes to the sugar without the fiber!  Sláinte!

Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate and Pumpkin Seeds
Serves 4 as a side dish. We had it with roasted multi colored potatoes as our main course for 2.
Oven 425 degrees
1 lb. Brussels Sprouts – cleaned and halved
2 Shallots – 1/4 inch dice (sub ¼ c. diced red onion)
1 c. Pomegranate Seeds (you can buy them already out of the skin) or seeds from about ½ pom*
½ c. pumpkin seeds (feel free to substitute walnuts or any other chopped nut you may enjoy)
Juice and zest of one orange (citrus zests are a great way to trick the palate away from SOS – salt, oil and sugar! Feel free to try lemon and lime zests too! Try to purchase organic citrus if you will be using the peel or wash in a vinegar/water solution)
Pan spray (I use a Misto filled with organic Canola oil which is more stable at high temps. You then also do not have to worry about all those other nasty ingredients sometimes found in pan sprays).
Salt and pepper (optional)

Sprouts on a silpat!

1.       Place shallots and sprouts cut side down onto a Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Lightly spray with pan spray and place in hot oven. Roast for 15 – 20 minutes.
2.       While sprouts are roasting, toast pumpkin seeds or nuts be careful not to burn. Zest orange and juice after zesting.
3.       When sprouts and shallots begin to brown, remove from oven and toss with ½ of the orange juice, most of the pomegranate seeds and optional salt/pepper. Return to oven for another 5 -10 minutes. Ovens vary so keep an eye on the sprouts. You do not want them to brown too much.
4.       When sprouts are nicely browned, remove from oven. Toss with orange zest, pumpkin seeds and remaining pom seeds. If you are serving this on your holiday table, be sure to reserve some of all seeds and zest for garnishing the final dish after you have placed in the serving bowl.
Zest is Best!

*Seeding a Pomegranate you will need a bowl, wooden spoon and a paring knife
Gently score the pomegranate skin around the circumference.
Separate the two halves of the fruit to expose the seeds inside.
Hold ½ of fruit in the palm of your hand, cut half down, over the bowl
Using the other hand, beat the outside of the pomegranate with the back of the wooden spoon several times and allow the seeds to drop into the bowl.
Discard skin and membranes. There you have it!
Watch the video demonstration of this right HERE! 

Vegan Pumpkin Macaroons Recipe aka confessions of a Vegan Cookie Monster!

Almost Gone Pumpkin Macaroons

I can't help myself! Although I dine predominately on greens, beans, colorful veggies, sweet potatoes and the occasional whole grains, I love sweets! Especially during the Holidays.  Giving up meat and eggs was easy for me. Cheese, not so easy but now after many years, I do not miss dairy cheeses and had fun dabbling in making the non-dairy kind.

Potato chips call my name quite often and sometimes I have given in to the Kettle Brand Bakes. With only 2 ingredients and 120 calories for a 20 chip serving, (about 125 mg of sodium  & 25 cal from fat per serving) I justified even Jeff Novick would approve of these tasty tidbits and perhaps even consider them "healthy". Then I fine tuned my chip eating when I discovered, thanks to Pam and Gordon, the Top Chips microwave chip maker. Now, chips are us, including beet, sweet potato, apple, etc. Even better news about these is microwaving potatoes does not produce the acrylamides you find in potatoes cooked at high temps such as McD's french fries or most commercial potato chips.
Assorted chips made in my Top Chips maker!

I really do not choose pie at all, I prefer cake but hardly ever, ever crave it,  BUT...sugar baked into almost any kind of cookie is my Achilles heel. Give me a cookie; crunchy like biscotti or moist and chewy like these macaroons and I am in heaven!

I have an extreme weakness and what's worse is I inflict the results of my sweet tooth on everyone around me in the form of cookies, brownies and candies. I have given up coffee, even though I never really consumed more than one cup daily, because I identified it is the primary reason I crave a little something sweet to dunk into it! I find I do not have the same craving  when I drink tea.   In the last few years I have tried to lower or eliminate the fat in my baked goods and reduce the amount of added sugar, or not add any refined sugar instead using dates or other fruit to sweeten. Adding black or white beans anywhere I can get away with it is another of my tricks and some results have been successful while others met with the garbage disposal as fast as I could get them there. Making RAW chocolates and brownies too, you name it, I'm trying it!

I really did not want this blog to be about sweets but over the last 3 or so years, if you look at my recipes, I think you will see a trend. Its because the food I eat for life doesn't really need  recipes, its usually just whole veggies and starches with some quinoa and brown rice thrown in here and there. If I am trying to create a recipe, its usually for a goodie that would be considered almost healthy. Well, these macaroons almost fall in to the "healthy" category. I would call them 'healthier'. For sure the better option over Paula Deen's recipe for macaroons! The ingredients in the Baker's brand sweetened coconut AND the fat and sugar in both the coconut and sweetened condensed milk are enough to send me into a tail-spin, never mind the eggs! I would never touch those toxic-nasties!

So, here I've done it again. Another sweet recipe for my friends, family, and readers. I hope you enjoy these as much as we here at 1008 have. They are almost GONE!! Here's the recipe:

(for more pumpkin recipes, check out this post in the PenBay Pilot where I will be penning a regular monthly column - YAY!)
Pumpkin Macaroons dipped in Chocolate

Pumpkin Macaroons Dipped in Chocolate 

makes 18 1-2" macaroons 

1 1/2 c. shredded unsweetened coconut
1/4 c. flour ( I used a combo of coconut and almond flour for Gluten Free)
1 1/4 t. Pumpkin Pie Spice (or a combo or cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg & cloves)
1/3 t. baking powder
1/8 t. salt

splash non-dairy milk (I used about 2T. almond milk)

1/4 c. canned or fresh cooked pie pumpkin
3 - 4 T. maple syrup
1 t. vanilla extract
3/4  T. apple cider vinegar
1/2 c. Vegan Bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

Oven 325
1. Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. (except choc. chips)
2. Mix all of the wet ingredients in a separate cup or small bowl (except choc. chips)
3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet into it.
5. Fold in until all are moistened. Adjust moistness by adding more milk or syrup and more cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice.
6. Using a small cookie scoop or tablespoon, drop onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper of silpats and bake for 15 - 20 minutes. Cool on racks and gently remove macaroons to cool.
7. Melt chocolate in a small Pyrex bowl in the microwave according to package instructions.
8.. Dip bottoms of macaroons into chocolate and place on parchment paper to dry. (you can use the same paper used to bake!)
9. Refrigerate for a few minutes to facilitate chocolate drying.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Pumpkin Oatmeal Pancakes

This morning I needed a fantastic 'Welcome Home Honey!' Kind of breakfast without too much fuss. I managed to pull it off with these scrum-dilly pancakes made mostly from odds & ends leftovers I had in the fridge.
I am the Queen of reinventing leftover food (along other things) and as we are heading out of town, I would not be going to the grocery store for any ingredients. I took a look in the fridge and found the following items:
1/2 apple
1/3 can organic pumpkin
1/3 small bottle Maine Maple Syrup
1 cup cooked steel cut oats with coconut
These were items left from my demo at the 10th Annual Victorian Tea and Breast Health Fair. I immediately knew what to make !

Gluten-free Pumpkin Oatmeal Pancakes for  my sweetie & me!

Wait, out of non dairy milk! Not to worry, have Almond Butter, dates, vanilla & h2o, into the blender with that.
I also found a partial bag of gluten-free flour blend left from a birthday cake order so into the bowl it all went. These were the most delicious pancakes I've ever made, and I do not love pancakes! Here's the recipe, as best I can estimate because I really did throw it altogether .
Gluten-free Pumpkin Oatmeal Pancakes with Apple & Cinnamon
11/2 c.GF Flour blend 
1/4 c. Pumpkin
1/2 Apple, diced small
Egg Replacer for 2 eggs (flax or Ener-G)
1 c. Non dairy milk
1/3 c. Leftover, cooked steel-cut oats
1/2 T. Cinnamon

Mix it all together but do not over mix.
Thin or thicken with oats or more nd milk to you desired consistency. 
Drop onto heated non-stick pan using a 1/4c . Measure. Flip when bubbling & edges are brown.
Enjoy with maple syrup and pumpkin, apple, oatmeal garnishes!!

It's what keeps him coming home I'm sure!! Tomorrow we'll have a Mexican-style burrito breakfast with tofu, ok honey??


The Garden Never Ceases to AMAZE Me!

Okra and Cayenne Peppers

First year for peaches!

Cranberry Beans!! Trying to make tempeh from these babies!

Its time to put our garden to bed. I am becoming an official "snow bird" this year, enjoying the last of the autumn in Maine and heading south for Georgia later this month. D will come and go but I will stay in GA all the way through the winter this year, which is a first for me. Our weather in Maine has been so spectacular its made for a difficult decision where the garden is concerned. Many plants are still producing and we have yet to experience a frost. When a frost comes, it makes pulling out annuals and mulching down perennials much easier because most things are dead! This year I'm pulling up living vibrant plants which are trying their best to put a last ditch effort into reproduction.

We have eaten so well from this years garden, despite all of the pests and difficulties getting enough water on everything. I am so grateful for these plants which have kept us fed and produced enough to  keep me busy freezing and canning and 'value adding' for weeks.

I thought I would just make a little collage of photos, some better than others, to remember the year in produce. The last photos are the poor nasturtiums, tomatoes and eggplants getting taken to the compost pile, still vibrant. I feel so badly about it! The images are in no particular order and really don't tell any particular story except they represent of the joy of gardening and the benefit of reaping what you sow!
Carrots all wrapped up in an embrace!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 I failed to find any images of all the berries we've enjoyed. Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, along with endless rhubarb. The rhubarb still seems to be growing too! And we did have our share of weeds, bugs and beetles, worms, moths and drought but all in all it was a very good year.
Now that I will be leaving my job at the Inn and not tending to and cooking from the garden OR selling food at any Farmer's Markets, I will have time to care for this blog, posting and organizing more recipes! Yippee!  Here's to the end of the gardening season for Rosie and me (unless we plant some greens down in GA!!) Its time to enjoy the Fall colors which are just about peaking.       SLAINTE!
The tomatoes are a big as the pumpkins!
Broccolini flowers
I just like these two together!

cute little lettuce flower

cosmos, zinnias and nasturtiums were crazy this year

colorful kale, chard and carrots are still going!
Rosie loves gardening!
The forest of Kale still stands!
Kale Ents

Goodbye Garden! Thanks so much for the good times!

Happy Birthday to ME!

The Universe works in strange and wonderful ways! A few weeks ago I discovered I share the same birthday with Lindsay Nixon aka The Happy Herbivore. I offered to send her one of our JUST EAT
PLANTS tee shirts as a gift.

Lindsay preferred to accept the shirt for a "giveaway" on her blog, (she is soo generous). This was a fabulous boost for me and the tees! If you read my blog regularly, or if you read the HH post, you know we designed this slogan and t shirts as a means to generate money we could give to some worthy causes. We had no money of our own to give so the JUST EAT PLANTS product line was going to be the ticket! It has not been the money raising endeavor we had hoped, until maybe now!! Since the giveaway, JEP tees and other items have started to sell from our  Cafe Press store. As both David and I are challenged when it comes to navigating Cafe Press, we have a limited selection hence the grey tee you see me wearing in the photo above AND on the HH blog post are only available by emailing me directly. Also keep in mind, when you purchase a t shirt or other item through Cafe Press only a very little moola goes to the charity, most of the money you spend goes to Cafe Press. When you purchase from me, all of the profits go to the charities; WILDAID, GORILLA DOCTORS and PCRM. I split it up 3 ways at the end of the year. Thus far, it has not amounted to much money, but I see all of this changing! You can read more about this process here, here and here. We are happy and full of gratitude to Lindsay and her staff and to Mary and the Shirttales gang for printing our shirts.

Yippee! Silly, Happy David and MiMi
On another plane, the universe was conspiring to give back to me! As many of you Food for Lifers know, Hannaford Supermarkets has supported the FFL classes here in midcoast Maine for the last 2 years. This really helps keep the class costs down and makes the classes more affordable. Our last series, which ended in August, was the last supported by Hannaford. My contact and advocate no longer worked for the company. There were remodels going on at many of the local stores making it more difficult to find the "healthy" options in the store. I inquired about renewed funding with one of the new store managers and was basically turned down. Well, with another series starting on Oct. 2, and participation low this time, I decided to take a deep breath and inquire with Hannaford Corporate. I pulled out the old email trail which Mark, my former contact had printed out the last time he gave me the donation. These were printouts of emails which I had not been cc'd on during the donation negotiation. I was never sure if Mark meant to give them to me but I kept them anyway. They were filed in last years filing box. I looked on the email thread for an address to the person who actually granted the donation. It was the Community Relations Coordinator, Lori Hamilton. I wrote an email to her on Sunday and  yesterday she returned my email with the news she was sending us gift cards to cover food costs for the 2014 classes! This was the best birthday present ever! With this type of  synchronicity, I know teaching the Food for Life classes and encouraging a JUST EAT PLANTS diet is the right thing for me to do!!! Thank you Hannaford Supermarkets and SPECIAL THANKS to Lori Hamilton and Mark Castonguay!! Universe... keep it coming! :-)

Hannaford even featured a VEGAN FEAST in their Spring Fresh Magazine!!

Here's to the Best Birthday ever for all September 24 babies everywhere, every year!

Cecina, Socca, Pakoras Farinata, Pizza, Omelette!

You can make the tastiest things from versatile Garbanzo Bean aka Chickpea aka Besan aka Gram flour. This morning we made an "omelette" filled with tons of veggies from our garden.
Omelette style

Crepe style

Delicious Mediterranean Flatbreads; socca, cecina and farinata are all a variation of an unleavened pizza or crepe-like staple you will find anywhere from Genoa to Nice to Pisa, all made from ground ci-ci beans (garbanzos). It is quick, easy, and HEALTHY!

Chickpea flour is used in the cuisine of many countries, even as far east as India where they make delicious (but not so healthy) Pakoras. Here is a link to a healthier version of this tasty Indian treat.

I've posted this simple recipe for a pizza we make in the Leafy Cafe Cooking School classes. I was sure I had posted the recipe before but  always get requests whenever I post a photo. Today I looked for the Leafy post featuring this particular recipe and could not find it so here goes!

Last Spring, I was a guest on Melissa Lee's blog, The Permanent Tourist, where Melissa and I share her kitchen and made Socca along with a few other delicious vegan recipes. Here is a link to that post with photos and recipes. Here is another. Keep in mind the recipes I shared with Melissa are not the low-fat version and we were a little more free with the cashews, coconut milk and olive oil (but they are still vegan :-).
Socca, Farinata, Pizza style flatbread

The Socca Batter can be used as a crepe, flatbread, omelette, etc. Just skip the olives and flavor it however you like. Thin the batter with more water to the desired consistency. Thinner for crepes, thicker for flatbreads/pizzas. Top the batter and finish in the oven for the pizza variety. Slide the cooked crepe or omelette onto a plate and fill with your choice of sauteed veggies/fillings then fold over like an egg omelette.

Socca Pizza

Mediterranean “street” food at its best!
1 c. Chickpea (Garbanzo Bean) Flour
½ t. salt
¼ t. fresh black pepper
2 t. fresh rosemary or basil, chopped
1 ¼ c. water
3 T. Olive Oil, divided (optional)
¼ c. red onion, minced
¼ c. kalamata olives, pitted
Your choice of toppings: arugula, artichokes, mushrooms, tomatoes, etc. Just be sure it is not too wet! Try a yummy, garlicky white bean puree. Just mix a drained can of cannellini beans in food processor or blender with lemon juice, garlic, salt, and some chopped fresh herbs of your choice.
  1. Mix flour, salt & pepper and herbs in a bowl with 2T of oil and water.
  2. Cover and let set at room temp for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 425.
  3. Stir in onion and olives.
  4. Heat remaining oil in a cast iron skillet over high heat. Pour batter into skillet and cook for 1 – 2 minutes or until edges are lightly browning.
  5. Add toppings and transfer to oven. Bake for about 12 – 15 minutes on convection, a bit longer if not convection. Serve and Enjoy!


Spicy Tomato Chutney!

I have all of the ingredients for this recipe from the Australian Women's Weekly. Looks like I'll be putting up a batch straight from the garden!! 

I added grated ginger and used fresh chilies. It's really easy! Here's the Method:
1. Combine all ingredients in large saucepan over med. heat and stir until sugar is dissolved, without boiling.
2. Bring to a boil, simmer uncovered stirring occasionally until thick, about 1 hr. 
3. Pour into hot, sterilized jars; seal when cold. 
Makes about 6 cups

How does your Garden Grow?

Peas in a Pod
It has been a busy Summer. We've had four weddings and a baby in our family in the past 12 months, growing our already large tribe into an even bigger, better bunch thanks to all of the new additions.

Patricia married Ronnie (aka the Gypsy Biker), baby Ellis was born to Caitlin and Jeff (who's wedding was really the first in a long succession of weddings but over a year ago!) then Anna married Ryan, Caley married Chris and most recently, Tiernan and Rachel were wed.  Yes, very exciting times indeed!
A BUNCH of peas in pods!

It has also been a busy year for me, with my businesses and garden all growing by leaps and bounds. The garden is bursting with Garden Beans, Kale, Broccoli Rabe, Eggplants, Tomatoes, melons and pumpkins, well, you get the picture. I have been teaching the Food for Life classes funded by a mini-grant from the Maine Cancer Consortium all over the county this Summer and have only 2 left to teach.

We ran a FULL, 4-class series on Cancer Prevention at The Picker Family Resource Center from July - August and I have given several lectures/presentations including a presentation at the Jackson Lab in Bar Harbor for accepting the MCC grant and some work with personal trainers Betsy Kingsley and Steph Williams  at the MRC. I started to make and sell some of prepared foods at the Union Farmers Market and the Washington Farmers and Friends Markets on Friday's and Saturdays. This experience has been a real pleasure for me. I have been catering to customers who wish to eat differently for reasons of food allergies, intolerance, or health concerns making vegan, raw, and other specialty plant-based foods. A midst all of these endeavors, I have maintained my blog and tapes several "Nutri-mercials" ... until a few weeks ago.
peddling my wares at the State of Maine Cheese Company Farmers Market!

I have always loved working at Inns and started an "Innsitting" business a few years back. A few weeks ago, I was hired as an "interim" Innkeeper at a beautiful, Select Registry property in Lincolnville Beach, Maine - The Inn at Sunrise Point. Well, when I saw the ad for this particular inn, I knew I was the right person for the job and hoped they would have me, and they did!! Unfortunately what this means is something's gotta give (before I do).
Coastal Maine Bed and Breakfast
The Inn at Sunrise Point has a rocking chair porch which reminds me of 1008 Union in GA, but look at the VIEW!!
In order to keep up with all of the other things on my plate and the work demands of the Inn,  I will no longer be present at any of the Farmer's Markets.  I do still have my licences and can still provide individuals with product on a private basis so please call or email me if you would like any of those delicious Leafy Cafe to Go-Go items you cannot live without!! The following items will still be available on a regular basis:

Sprouted "I am Grateful" Granola
Veggie Burgers
Non-dairy Cheeze
Dairy-free Pestos
Kale Krunchers
Custom items, private cooking lessons, cooking class parties, private chef services, health and nutritional consulting are all still available too.

A new Food for Life class series for Cancer Prevention has been posted. The price will be going up as Hannafords will no longer be funding the grocery bill. You can sign up early for a 20% discount HERE. I will remain in Maine until late October, after the Victorian Tea for Breast Cancer, then make the trek down to Georgia for the Winter. The Leafy Cafe Cooking School will have a re-boot with new and exciting classes and recipes and I will again teach the Food for Life series at the St. Simons Health and Fitness Club.

Thats all for now Folks!

Energy Bites - Healthy Chocolate Treats

Chocolate and Coconut Energy Bites

Its always fun making the Nutri-mercial videos however I often forget to include everything I would like to or say all that there is to say about the subject. Today's video is no different, I wanted to list the quantities of ingredients and talk more about the nutrients so I will do this in the blog post!

In this particular Nutrimercial, I was responding to a recent video posted by Dr. Mercola. He was making a little chocolate treat which he describes as "healthy" and the ingredients where butter, cacao butter, coconut oil, etc. You get the picture. I don't really think a treat with such high fat/calorie dense is so healthy so I am suggesting an alternative.

My version is what I call an ENERGY BITE. I developed this recipe for a demo I did at a Bootcamp Fitness Class few months ago. It really simple and delicious and you can customize these with all sorts of flavors. Basically they are a pureed date snack much like a Larabar. In this case I added Cacao & walnuts and vanilla. You could add other dried fruits such as dried cherries or cranberries, chocolate chips, peanuts, coconut. You can leave out the cacao for a more caramel flavor. The sky is the limit!

Cacoa is the raw form of cocoa. The nutrients from the cocoa bean are left intact because the beans haven't been roasted which helps to maintain the magnesium, iron, and of course anti oxidants contained in the pod. Its flavor is very similar to cocoa and you can feel free to switch these out. Cacao is much pricier than even the best organic cocoa! Both cacao and cocoa have all of the benefits of dark chocolate without the sugar and the fat!
Walnuts are a tree nut and a powerhouse of healthy fats containg 2.5 grams of ALA (Alpha-Linolenic Acid- think Omega 3s) per ounce.
Dates are the fruit from a particular family of palm trees. There are many varieties but Medjool are the best for dessert making. Yes, dates are sweet, full of fructose and dextrose (80% sugar) but that comes packaged with iron, potassium, fiber, calcium, manganese, copper and many anti-oxidants including tannins and flavonoids. You can watch a great video by Dr. Greger about dates HERE. Dr. Greger reviews some studies which prove the benefits of date.s While the Hellawi wins out over the Medjool for "best" it is not the best for certain dessert or raw food applications. You can try those or the dromedary dates in this recipe but I recommend adding a bit of water (tiny bit) and processing before adding nuts. Here's the recipe:


RAWSOME Chocolate Energy Bites

1 cup firmly packed pitted Medjool Dates
3/4 c. Raw unsalted Walnuts (can use soaked, sprouted and dried)
3 - 4 T. Raw Cacao
1/16 t. vanilla or bourbon vanilla extract

  1. Place everything in the food processor and process. If your dates are really dry, you might want to process them first with a tiny amount of water and the vanilla. If you process the nuts too long trying to pulverize the dates, the oil from the nuts will come out and the end result will be oily and not as desirable, although still really good!
  2. Scoop up small amounts in a melon-ball tool or a small cookie scoop to make little energy bites. The amount you wind up with will depend on the size.
  3. Remember you can get creative with these goodies as long as you achieve a paste which can be rolled into a small ball or pressed into a small pan or plastic bag to form and then cut as bars.

Storing Chipotle Pepper Clues

I would have called this post Chipotle Pepper Blues up until a few minutes ago that is. How many of you find that you hesitate to open a can of those spicy beauties packed in Adobo because you know you only need one & then you are not sure when you will ever use the other 6 or 7?? Well, thanks to Susan V. Over at Fat Free Vegan, my all time favorite healthy vegan blog, I have been saved! 
As many of you know, I freeze the excess of all types of things in ice cube trays for later use. Veggie pulp, smoothie stuff, herbs & most especially veggie broth. Never did it ever occur to me to use this same strategy for dealing with leftover chipotle peppers in adobo! Duh!!! Just purée the leftovers in food processor & freeze! I just had to share it with y'all this instant cause I was so excited!! Look:
Tah Dah!!! Into the freezer then once frozen, pop them out & place in a Baggie or small airtight container. Use one per pepper required in future recipes!!