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

Ingredients:
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


Method:
  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.
Sláinte!

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!!

Green Cookies! Sunny Oatmeal Cookies



And NO, its not for St. Patrick's Day! As you know I have been preparing and selling plant-based goodies at the local Farmer's Markets. This week I tried a new Gluten-free cookie recipe. The recipe is not new, it is off the back of the Trader Joe's Gluten Free Oats package however I did put my own vegan, lower fat spin on it. The batter tasted delicious and the first cookies out of the oven trial where delish. I often scoop and freeze cookie dough so I can have "fresh-baked" cookies on Market days. I baked off another dozen of these little yumbos on Saturday morning so they would be fresh for the Washington Grange Farmers and Friends Market. I noticed a slight change in color, the cookies were yellow, almost like they had turmeric as an ingredient. I figured it must  be the Sunbutter I used to replace the peanut butter called for in the recipe. I have never used sunflower seed butter but I have been reading about it and saw it for sale at TJs. Because many of my clientele have food allergies, I decided to try it as a replacement for peanut butter in these cookies. Little did I know that Sunbutter reacts with Baking Soda and Baking Powder to produce a color change in the baked goods.



I sold dozens of these Sunny Oatmeal Cookies on Saturday and this morning decided to enjoy one with my morning tea. Much to my horror, the inside of the cookie was BRIGHT GREEN! I immediately "googled" cookies turned green inside to find the Sunbutter explanation of this phenomenon. I thought it best to post something immediately for anyone who purchased the cookies. They are completely safe and still delicious!


I apologize for the green, its actually really pretty, and green is the most pleasing color to the eye. Most of us have developed an appreciation for green smoothies, how about green cookies? Just pretend you are in a cafe in Amsterdam and they have served you these little delights warm from the oven. Hmmm, maybe instead of Maui Wowie burgers, I should call these cookies "maui-wowie"??


I think I will stick to Sunny Oatmeal Cookies!! Here is the recipe. I have cut back on the baking soda in this recipe to minimize the reaction.

Sunny Oatmeal Cookies

Based on Trader Joes' Gluten Free Oatmeal Cookies
makes 48 cookies

Ingredients:
1/4 c. Coconut Butter
scant 1 t. baking soda
1 c. Succanat or evaporated cane juice
3 c. Gluten Free Oats
6 oz. vegan chocolate chips
2 T. Flax meal mixed with 6 T. h2o for replacing 2 eggs. Can use Egg Replacer as well.
1/2 c. sunflower seeds or chopped walnuts
1 t. vanilla
1 c. Sunbutter or Peanut butter 
  
Method: 
Oven: 350
1. Mix sugar and softened coconut butter together until creamy.
2. Add flax eggs, vanilla and baking soda, mix well.
3. Add Sunbutter and mix.
4. Stir in oats, chocolate chips and nuts.
5. Place teaspoon sized dollops of dough onto parchment lined cookie sheets spaced about 2" apart.
6. Smush balls of dough with moist hands to flatten.
7. Bake for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Tomayto, Tomahto? Ketchup or Catsup??

Heirloom tomato on to vine from last year's crop.
"Raw, unsulphered dried, or prepared into homemade sauces or soups – the health benefits of tomatoes are well-documented. Once tomatoes have been cooked, they provide far more absorbable lycopene than raw tomatoes; one cup of tomato sauce contains about ten times the lycopene as a cup of raw, chopped tomatoes. A variety of raw and cooked tomatoes is wise, and cooked tomato products, like tomato sauce and ketchup, are rich sources of lycopene."

The quote above is an excerpt from Dr. Joel Fuhrman's recent newsletter.

No matter how you pronounce it, these tasty members of the solanaceae family (think eggplant, capsicum, potatoes) are good for you heart and more!! Here's more from the good Doc:


Previous tomato harvest from the garden. Fingers crossed for a bumper crop this year!!

Tomatoes protect against heart attack and stroke

Carotenoids are a family of over six hundred phytochemicals (including alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin) that help to defend the body’s tissues against oxidative damage, which is a natural byproduct of our metabolic processes. Oxidative damage from free radicals contributes to chronic diseases and aging. 

Lycopene is an extremely potent antioxidant. Health benefits of lycopene include:

  • Lycopene is found circulating in the blood and also concentrates in the male reproductive system and has protective effects against prostate cancer.
  • In the skin, lycopene helps to prevent UV damage from the sun, protecting against skin cancer.
  • A 2004 analysis from the Physicians' Health Study data found a 39% decrease in stroke risk in men with the highest blood levels of lycopene.
  • A study in men found that low serum lycopene was associated with increased plaque in the carotid artery and triple the risk of cardiovascular events compared to higher levels.
  • In a separate study, women were split into four groups (quartiles) according to their blood lycopene levels; women in the top three quartiles were 50% less likely to have cardiovascular disease compared to the lowest quartile.
  • Lower total carotenoids, alpha-carotene, and lycopene in the blood were all linked to increased risk of death from all causes; of all the carotenoids, very low blood lycopene was the strongest predictor of mortality.
Lycopene is the signature carotenoid of the tomato.  85 percent of the lycopene in the American diet is derived from tomatoes.

But beware!! The salt and sugar contained in commercially prepared tomato products render them little more than junk food. In fact, over one-quarter of a typical bottle of ketchup is actually corn syrup or sugar."   
Which is why Dr. Fuhrman developed and added a "Ketchup" product to his lineup of "ready-to-eat".
Dr. Fuhrman's Ketchup 
We were fortunate to have the doc send us a trial jar of this product to sample, along with some AWESOME!! vinegar. BUT it just so happens I have my own recipe for ketchup which I actually gave to Dr. JF and sometimes wonder if this is my recipe in the bottle, hmmmm...
Anyway, the doc's email prompted me to share not only his words about the health benefits of tomato products  my recipe for homemade ketchup to boot! Give it a try or order some ketchup for your veggie burgers from drfuhrman.com. If you do order, don't forget to try the vinegar!! My favorite is the spicy pecan, but they are all delicious!

Ketchup

Ingredients:
·         6 oz. tomato paste (no salt added)
·         ¼ cup water
·         1/3 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
·         5 Dates
·         1 tsp. Garlic powder
·         1 tsp. Onion powder
·         1/8 tsp. Allspice
·         1/8 tsp. Cloves
·         1/8 tsp. Cinnamon

Method:
Blend all ingredients together in a high-speed blender until smooth. Ketchup will last for 5 – 7 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Sláinte!