Frozen Hot Chocolate

Makes 4 C

Frozen hot chocolate, like fried ice cream, really does a number on us left brainers.  We analyze and over-analyze to make sense of this apparent contradiction.  Not until we let our tastebuds take over do we then realize such analyses are unnecessary.  It’s decadent, it’s rich, it’s delicious.  Who cares if it’s an anomaly.

Chocolate is a gift from the gods.  No, really, it is a gift from Central and South America and was regarded by the great Maya and Aztec as a favored bitter drink valuable enough to be their currency.  It was the Swedes who coined it “theobroma”, food of the gods, in Greek.¹  There are many wonderful things about cacao or cocoa.  It is anti-inflammatory and it’s got delicious flavonoids that  seem to have chemo-protective effects.²  It’s also high on the anti-oxidant list, boasting around 3-4 more times than green tea.  (The darker the chocolate, the better!)  As for minerals, chocolate grants us copper (important for heart health and iron absorption), magnesium, potassium, and iron.³ All these goodies contribute to cardiovascular health, lowered hypertension, and increased blood flow (read, lowered risk of plaque build-up).  Oh, it was also widely considered an aphrodisiac and overall makes us feel good, happy, giddy even.  Good thing chocolate got around!

The caveat is, don’t OD on it!  Quantity destroys quality in anything!  There is still theobromine (caffeine relative) in chocolate which can be irritating to the GI tract, cause anxiety or insomnia and hyperactivity in kiddies.

One last note; spontaneous acts of love have been known to occur after consumption of this elixir.  Have fun with that!

You’ll need:

1 can organic coconut milk (whole fat)

1 cinnamon stick

2 T organic (fair trade preferable) cacao powder

2 T agave nectar

1 bar (approx 3 oz.) organic, fair trade dark chocolate (I had 73%), roughly broken

5-6 ice cubes

Ground cinnamon, for garnish

To make:

1. Heat coconut milk and cinnamon stick in a saucepan over low heat until the edges start to bubble.  Stir in cacao powder and agave nectar and let the edges begin to bubble again.  Remove cinnamon stick.

2. Place dark chocolate bar in a separate bowl and pour hot coconut/cacao mix over chocolate to melt.  Stir well.  Let cool.  (Or if you have time, you can let it cool and then refrigerate for up to 1 day.)*

3. In a blender, add hot chocolate and ice cubes and blend until frothy.  Serve with coconut cream and some ground cinnamon.

4. Enjoy!

*If you put hot chocolate in the fridge, it will thicken quite a bit.  It’s like a ganache.  Simply scrape into the blender and add water (coconut water would be ideal) to the consistency you want.  Go slow so that it doesn’t become too thin.

¹ Rebecca Wood, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia

² Rebecca Katz, The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen

³ http://www.allchocolate.com/health/basics/

GF Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yields 24 cookies

 

As much as I love to cook, I love to bake.  I particularly enjoy experimenting with healthy versions of all the goodies out there.  I favor organic flours and natural sweeteners just because they are healthier.  Of course, binging on these isn’t a good idea either…trust me!  But when you’re in the mood for something sweet, there’s no need to head to the refined alleys of dessert-ville.  There are a myriad of choices out there (some better than others) especially if your diet is somehow restricted.  I have had better luck with my GF baking experiments than I’ve had with vegan ones, though I just made a delicious vegan and GF tart that just may have to make its way to these pages!

This version of the cookie uses very little sweetener because I relied on the sweetness of the dried cherries.  Dried fruit goes a long way.  Cherries are very low in sodium and high in vitamin A and dietary fiber. They support joint health and are helpful for those with arthritis, rheumatism and gout.  The one catch is that this dried fruit is a bit higher on the sugar content than other fruits.  If you don’t love this idea, any dried fruit would work wonderfully!  If you do experiment, please leave me a comment and let me know how they came out!

You’ll need:

1/2C organic butter (1 stick), softened

1/4C coconut or date sugar

2 large organic eggs

1 t vanilla extract

1C almond meal or hazelnut meal

1C Brown Rice Flour

1/3C oat flour

1 t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

1/2 t sea salt

1/2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips (or more if you want them chocolatey)

1/2 dried cherries, roughly chopped

a handful of pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

To make:

Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

1. In a food processor, add butter and coconut sugar and process until creamy (about 30 seconds should do it).  Add the eggs and vanilla and process to blend.

2. Add the almond meal, rice flour, oat flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and process until dough forms.

3. 2 options: 1. You can add the rest of the ingredients and pulse to blend.  This will break up the chocolate chips and make chocolatey ‘streaks’ in your cookies.  Or 2. Place dough into a bowl and using a rubber spatula, incorporate the chocolate chips, cherries and pepitas.  (I go with the first option because it’s easier and there’s less to clean…every little bit helps when you’ve got a 5 month old to look after!)

4. Make walnut size balls (I use a heaping tablespoon as my measure) and press down lightly on each one.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool completely before digging in!

5. Enjoy!

Energy Bars (from March 6, 2012)


I’ve received so many requests for these energy bars that I figured it was high time I post the recipe!  This recipe is adapted from Rebecca Katz’s in “The Cancer Fighting Kitchen”.  I started making them for a client because they really are the perfect snack for waiting around and during chemo treatments.  But, it turns out that they’re a perfect snack for everyone!  My husband, a marathoner, swears by them and has me make a batch before every race.  I snacked on these throughout my pregnancy (awesome to stave off that 1st trimester nausea) and they even made it into the delivery room with me.  These are also great for kids…they love them!
These pack a nutritional punch.  Dates are natural energy boosters with loads of potassium and dietary fiber.  Dried apricots are rich in beta-carotene, an anti-oxidant vital for the healthy growth of bones, skin, hair, teeth and eyes.  They are also high in calcium and magnesium. Almonds and walnuts (nuts in general, really) are a great source of protein and are high in essential fatty acids and vitamin E.
Now, let’s get to that recipe!
You’ll need:

1 cup raw walnuts
1 cup whole almonds
2T Oat flour
2T Quinoa flour
2T finely ground flax seeds
¼ t sea salt
1/8t baking powder
1/8t baking soda
½ C rolled oats*
½ C pitted Medjool dates, quartered
½ C dried cherries
1C unsulfured dried apricots, quartered
¼ C semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 large organic egg
¼ C maple syrup
1t vanilla extract
To make:

(Prep bakeware:  In an 8” or 9” square pan, place two sheets of parchment paper perpendicular to each other and long enough to make “handles”.)
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees and spread nuts on a baking sheet with lined with parchment paper.  Toast in oven for 7-10 minutes until they smell nutty and are slightly browned.  Take good care in this step since nuts are notorious for burning easily!
2. Combine the flours, flax seeds, salt, baking powder, baking soda and oats and process in a food processor for 5 seconds. Add the nuts and process for another 5-10 seconds until they are coarsely chopped.  Add the oats and dried fruit and process until all is well mixed together.  Transfer mixture to a bowl.
3.In another bowl, beat egg and whisk in maple syrup and vanilla extract.  Add to nut mixture and combine well, breaking up any really solid parts.  Using your hands is the best way to do this!  Then add chocolate chips.
4. Spread and press mixture evenly in baking pan.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Try not to over bake or the bars will come out dry.  Let cool completely and cut into desired shape.  (I usually cut them into chunky, chewy squaresJ)
5. Enjoy!
*If you use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Oats, this recipe is completely Gluten-Free.  If gluten is not an issue then any rolled oats are OK and you can even substitute the flours for ¼ C spelt flour.