Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ginger Spiked Chocolate Bark

The holidays are here! Many of us spend the week before Christmas in the kitchen creating deliciously unhealthy candies and holiday treats loaded with refined white sugar and butter. This year I decided to skip out on some of the traditional goodies and focus on “healthier” alternatives. As promised, here is another great gift-giving idea for this holiday season – dark chocolate bark with nuts, dried fruit, and infused with spicy ginger. This tasty treat is delicious! In fact, it was such a hit at my house that we made it twice!

Wrap this delicious chocolate in parchment paper and twine or reuse a tin and fill it with this homemade bark. This recipe makes a great gift for your child’s teacher, a secret Santa, a host/hostess gift, etc. Don’t feel guilty giving the gift of chocolate bark this Christmas!

1 lb. organic 70% dark cacao (chocolate) chips
2 cups of chopped nuts (I used cashews and almonds)
1 cup of dried apricots chopped (dried cranberries would also work)
1 tablespoon of fresh grated ginger root
Sea salt 

Using a double boiler, or microwave, melt the cacao chips. While the chips are melting add the fresh grated ginger. Be sure to stir the chocolate often to prevent burning.

Once the chocolate has melted completely transfer it to a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Use a rubber scrapper to evenly distribute the melted chocolate and sprinkle with nuts, dried fruit, and sprinkle with course sea salt. Place the pan in the refrigerator (or outside if you live somewhere cold J) to cool.

When the bark has cooled completely, break it into small pieces and transfer it to a tin or sealable container. Give this delicious bark as a gift or treat yourself. Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Vanilla Coconut Almond Granola

A few weeks ago I passed along a great DIY Shake ‘n Sniff idea from YogaBabes. I also encouraged you to get “crafty & creative” this holiday season. It is only acceptable that one follows his/her own advice, right? I am proud to say that I have actually had a wonderful time creating homemade gifts this year and plan to share a few of these ideas with you over the next week and a half.

Today’s idea encompasses a few of my favorite things: coconut, vanilla, almonds, oats and cute jars J Vanilla Coconut Almond Granola is one of my favorite things! Granola is delicious with almond milk (or your favorite milk choice or alternative), sprinkled over yogurt or an acai bowl. It also makes a delicious oatmeal-topping, can be used as a crumble for apple crisp, and of course is a wonderful treat all by itself.

Granola is extremely quick and easy to make and is so much better than any option available at your local market. Why? Because you know where it came from, what ingredients are used, and well of course because it’s homemade! You will not find butter or sugar in this recipe, so that in and of itself is AWESOME! Package your finished product in a cute vintage jar; add a ribbon and a gift tag. Voila! A wonderful, edible gift!

4 cups of organic old-fashioned oats (not quick oats or instant)
2 cups unsweetened shaved coconut (or shredded)
2 cups of sliced almonds (of your favorite nut)
2 cups of unsalted sunflower seeds (pumpkin would also work)
½ cup of raw organic honey (add more or less based on your liking)
4-5 tablespoons of coconut oil
1 vanilla bean

Preheat over to 350°F. Add the coconut oil to a small pan and slowly melt over low heat. Slice the vanilla bean, from end to end, and place the bean and the seeds in the pan with the coconut oil. Add the honey and slowly heat the three ingredients over low heat until no separation occurs and vanilla has infused the liquid (approximately three minutes).

Place the oats, coconut, nuts, and seeds into a large bowl and mix to combine. Pour the liquid mixture over the oats and stir until everything looks “wet.” 

Left: before wet mixture; Right: after wet mixture

Spray olive oil on two large jellyroll pans and spoon the raw granola mixture evenly across the pan. Put both pans into the oven; bake granola for five to eight minutes, and then stir. Continue to bake and stir until the granola turns a nice shade of golden. Remove from the oven and let the granola cool on the pan.

Top: before baking; Bottom: after baking

When the granola has cooled completely, transfer to sealable jars or containers, add your finishing decorative touches, and gift away!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Stuffed Squash Bowls

I LOVE squash and I love the variety! These little guys come in many different colors, shapes, flavors, and textures. Squash can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It can be prepared sweet or savory, roasted, baked, steamed, mashed, or boiled. The best part though, (drumroll please); it serves as its own little bowl! For this particular recipe I chose acorn squash, because of its size and nutty flavor, and then I stuffed it with a delicious quinoa stuffing.

This is not the first time I have posted a recipe that uses winter squash and it probably won’t be the last. For this reason, I will keep the nutritional benefits of acorn squash to a minimum and direct you to “this” post for more detail. Overall, winter squash promotes optimal health. Due to its tremendous health benefits, we realize that this is not just another starchy vegetable. Winter squash contains anti-inflammatory benefits, antioxidants, and may even have the potential to regulate blood sugar.

Not only is winter squash a versatile veggie, and packed full of beneficial nutrients, but it can also keep for an incredible length of time – if stored properly. If you keep winter squash out of direct sunlight, and stored in a room or pantry that stays between 50-60°F, this vegetable can last up to six months. What this means to you? Get to your local farmers market, co-op, or whole-foods market and stock up!

1 acorn squash, halved and seeds removed
1 cup of quinoa, I chose to mix red and white but any color will work
1 bunch of kale, thick stem removed and julienned
1 can of black-eyed peas
2 ½ cups of vegetable stock/broth
2 tablespoons of EVOO
½ cup of dried cranberries
½ cup of chopped walnuts *optional
Sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the squash halves on a pan, drizzle with EVOO and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast the squash in the oven for approximately 35-40 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork.

While the squash is roasting, bring two cups of vegetable stock to a boil. Add the (rinsed) quinoa to the pot and bring back to a boil. Cover and simmer for approximately 20 minutes (or until no liquid remains).

Pour the remaining ½ cup of vegetable stock to a deep skillet and bring to a simmer. Add the kale, black-eyed peas, and a sprinkle of sea salt; continue to simmer until the kale is wilted and all the liquid has evaporated.

Combine the quinoa, kale mixture, dried cranberries, and walnuts in a large bowl and mix evenly. Scoop the “stuffing” into the squash halves and serve!

Peace, love, and veggies!


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Guilt Free - Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

I cannot believe that Thanksgiving has already come and gone and that today marks December 1. Wow! Where does the time go? As I child, I remember hearing the adults in my life say that time moves at a more rapid pace the older you get. By-golly I think they were right! Okay, well that’s enough, we don’t have time to waste…there is decorating to be done and holiday baking to be started! You heard me – baking! Of course you can expect that this recipe will be sugar, dairy, and gluten free! But I promise, it will still be delicious!

Now there may be a few ingredients that you don’t have at home, but they are ingredients that belong in every kitchen, and ingredients that you will find over and over again in my recipes (i.e. raw cacao). Raw cacao is a SUPERFOOD and contains more antioxidants than blueberries, red wine, and green tea. In fact, raw cacao contains four times the antioxidant flavonoids found in green tea!

Many of us feel that indulging on chocolate is a “guilty pleasure.” I am going to rock your world today when I tell you to eat up! The reason chocolate gets a bad reputation is due to the large amount of processed ingredients that are added, like white sugar. If you consume chocolate in its original natural state, your body will actually be nourished with an abundance of nutrients.

Unprocessed chocolate contains antioxidants, which are great for promoting cardiovascular health and protecting our skin and body from free radicals found in the environment. This superfood also contains minerals such as magnesium and sulfur. Magnesium builds strong bones, balances brain chemistry, and regulates blood pressure and heart rate. This is also a mineral deficiency in 80% of Americans. Sulfur is a great beauty mineral and helps to build strong nails and hair and detoxifies the liver – no wonder we eat dark chocolate with red wine. Saving the best for last, chocolate is an aphrodisiac and the love drug! Chocolate increases neurotransmitters in the brain, like serotonin and phenylethylamine. Phenylethylamine is released in the body when we’re “in love” and serotonin acts as a natural anti-depressant and gives us a sense of wholeness. Whoah! If this doesn’t give us reason to eat chocolate, I don’t know what will J

Happy shopping and happy baking!

1 jar (16 oz.) of organic, natural peanut butter (Jiff and Skippy do not count J)
¼ cup of raw cacao powder
½ cup of coconut milk (put the can in the refrigerator a couple hours prior to baking and use the thick cream layer that forms at the top)
½ cup of organic maple syrup
2 tablespoons of coconut oil (do not melt)
1 teaspoon of organic pure vanilla
½ teaspoon of sea salt

Add all ingredients to a large bowl and use an electric mixer to combine the ingredients. The mixture should be slightly oily and somewhat sticky. Spoon the fudge into an 8x8 pan and place in the freezer. Indulge after 30 minutes of waiting patiently. *This fudge must be kept in the freezer or the refrigerator to maintain it’s chewy, delicious texture!

**This recipe could also be made using any of your favorite nut butters: almond, cashew, macadamia, etc. Also, feel free to add orange zest, maybe ginger, cacao nibs, or nuts for added flavor and texture. Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Shake 'n Sniff

I am so excited to share today’s post because it comes from an amazing friend of mine, Jessica Mulvey. I met Jessica while we were both studying and practicing to become Certified Yoga Instructors and we shared an amazing journey together. Jessica has now moved on to become the Founder and Owner of YogaBabes and has an incredible blog where she writes about yoga, nutrition, and lifestyle tips. Not only does Jessica “write” about these topics but also “demonstrates” some of her favorite yoga postures in video!

One lifestyle tip or trick that she posted was this super cute DIY Shake ‘n Sniff. Now the reason I am sharing this with you today is because the biggest shopping day of the year is just around the corner. I absolutely love the holidays and this includes buying gifts for my loved ones – but nothing says you care like a homemade gift. So this year I challenge you to find some creative ways to make homemade gifts. Jessica says, “This DIY craft is super easy, very ‘green’, and a great gift idea." Try it out and let us know what you think!

You will need:

A mason jar  *YB Tip: to be extra green, don’t go buy a mason jar, rather save a pasta sauce jar
Baking soda
Your favorite essential oil
*Nourish Tip: a piece of cute fabric to place over the top of the jar to spruce it up! Trim the fabric based on the size of your jar and to your liking.

I recommend eucalyptus and/or tea tree oil for the bathroom, lavender or ylang-ylang oil for the bedroom, and grapefruit or orange for the office. *Nourish suggests pine or cinnamon during the holidays and likes AuraCacia Essential Oils. 

Thoroughly clean out your mason jar and dry it. Fill it half way or so with baking soda then add 10 drops of your favorite essential oil (you can always add more later). Put the lid on then SHAKE to mix it all up. If you’re using fabric, place that over the top of the jar and twist the lid back on. Next you will need to use your nail and hammer to puncture the top of the lid to let the wonderful smell out. You can get creative here, I made a heart design on my lid, but you can do it however you’d like! For those artistic folks out there, also feel free to decorate your jar if it makes you happy.

Visit for more great ideas, recipes, and yoga tips or “like” YogaBabes on Facebook.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Roasted Tomatoes with Scrambled Eggs and Goat Cheese

A little over one month ago my boyfriend, Kevin, and I boarded a plane and headed to the bay area. Berkeley would be our final destination. The purpose of this quick trip was to see Bon Iver, an amazing band from my hometown of Eau Claire, WI, play at the Greek Theater. We were both excited for so many reasons: the concert, Kevin reliving his college days at Cal, and for me – the food! When we travel there is one thing that I am always in charge of…the food! Yes, I have a deep love for all things food related. Trying unfamiliar restaurants in a new city is so fun and exciting! However, we only had one day to explore new places so I knew that I would have to be prepared. Breakfast would be at this cute French Café, La Note.

There was a short wait and then we were seated. The hustle and bustle of the restaurant, along with the French décor, definitely made me feel as though we were dining in the French Countryside. It was so cute! The coffee was delicious and the menu – oh yes, I was certainly glad La Note made the list. I settled on a dish that contained roasted tomatoes, scrambled eggs with goat cheese, and of course bread! I will almost always order any option on the menu that contains goat cheese – love it! Our food arrived and in just one bite I was in heaven. The creaminess and tartness of the cheese paired with the fluffy eggs and sweet roasted tomatoes were amazing! We left the restaurant that morning feeling happy and satisfied.

Fast-forward six weeks and of course you find me reliving that morning and wanting more. Roasted tomatoes, fluffy eggs with goat cheese – how hard could it be to recreate this dish? Try this recipe and you’ll see for yourself! 

2 large organic free-range eggs, cracked and whisked
4 small vine ripened tomatoes, sliced into quarters
1 tablespoon EVOO
1 tablespoon of goat cheese
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped finely
Sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle them with olive oil. Sprinkle the basil and sea salt over the tomatoes and roast them in the oven for approximately 10 minutes, or until they start to break down slightly.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add a small amount of EVOO to prevent the eggs from sticking. Pour the whisked eggs into the skillet and begin to scramble. Once the eggs are fully cooked, transfer to a plate and top with the goat cheese. Add the roasted tomatoes to the same plate and enjoy this easy and delicious French breakfast at home.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Collards and Aduki Beans

A few weeks back I had the house to myself for the weekend…well kind of. Sage, our puppy, was keeping me company. It was raining and cold, and with no one around to entertain, I couldn’t come up with a better idea than to cook a delicious meal and curl up on the couch with a good book. Not feeling completely motivated to create a new recipe, I began searching the web and paging through my favorite cookbooks. This recipe was adapted from Whole Foods, is so delicious, and contains collard greens – a favorite!

Collard Greens are a cruciferous vegetable and resemble big green fans. They are best known for the cancer prevention and cholesterol-lowering properties they provide but do contain an abundance of vitamins and minerals that should not be overlooked. Like Kale, Collards are full of Vitamins K, A, and C and contain 25% of your daily calcium and fiber needs in just one cup. Collard Greens also contain oxalates, which are naturally occurring substances found in the body. When oxalates become highly concentrated in bodily fluids they can form crystals. If you have a kidney or gallbladder condition that has not been treated, you may wish to avoid collards and substitute with kale in this recipe. If this doesn’t apply to you – eat up!

1 bunch of organic collard greens, stem removed and leaves sliced 1” wide
3 small sweet potatoes
4 green onions, thinly sliced and dark green part reserved for garnish
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
1 can of Aduki beans
1 cup of organic vegetable broth
1 lime
¼ cup of sunflower seeds


Preheat oven to 400°F. Place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet or stone and roast for approximately 35 minutes, or until tender when poked with a fork. Remove the potatoes and let cool. Once the potatoes have cooled enough for handling, peel and cut them into 1” cubes.

Pour ½ cup of vegetable stock into a deep skillet and bring to a simmer. Add the red pepper and green onions (light green and white parts) to the pan and let cook for five minutes. Add the remaining ½ cup of vegetable broth along with the collard greens and Aduki beans. Continue to cook for 10-12 minutes or until collards are wilted, stirring occasionally.

Divide the greens between two bowls. Top with sweet potatoes, dark green onion slices, sunflower seeds and a squeeze of lime. Enjoy!