Tag Archives: chocolate

Gluten Free Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

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Forgetting that we were going to have more company this week ( this means going out more and eating less meals at home), I bought too many groceries. Between our CSA and my excitement about all the fresh, cheap produce available at the grocery store, I found myself with an excess of perishables. Yesterday I noticed my zucchinis were looking… well wrinkled. I had hoped to put them on a pizza or stir fry, but decided to take immediate action and turn them into muffins. Chocolate muffins, because I can’t seem to shake the desire for chocolate lately!

I came across a recipe on Elana’s site that used coconut flour- a gluten free flour that I bought on impulse and have been trying to become acquainted with.

I tweaked the recipe only slightly, and they turned out so good. They are moist (sorry to use the m word, Erica, but they are!) and yet fluffy and not too sweet. The texture is more cake like than muffin like, and I think for a more indulgent treat they would be amazing with frosting or icing, but I haven’t been wanting overly sweet things lately so I left them as is. They taste way better when cooled. I had one warm and it didn’t compare to the cooled ones.

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins:

Dry:

1/4 cup coconut flour

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Wet:

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup agave nectar

2 eggs

1 1/2 cup grated zucchini, not packed

Mix ins:

1/2 cup chocolate chips or chunks

1 tablespoon cacao nibs (optional)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350F and grease two mini muffin tins or fill with paper muffin cups.

Combine dry ingredients in medium bowl, set aside. Combine wet ingredients in large bowl, slowly beat in dry ingredients, then fold in chocolate chips. Ladle into muffin tins, using a tablespoon for each. Bake 18-22 minutes. Makes about 20.

Enjoy!

xoxo/Nikita

Super Smoothies for Women

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Chocolate Cherry Goodness

Usually I try to eat in a way that nourishes my body, choosing foods which are high in vitamins and minerals and striving for a healthy ratio of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. However, sometimes those chocolate cravings come knocking and there is nothing I can do but satiate them! This morning and yesterday morning were some of those mornings which I found myself with a desire for nothing else but chocolate… Blame it on PMS if you will. But knowing this was probably the cause of my craving also inspired me to create a meal that not only satisfied my craving, but provided the nutrients my body needs most at this time. I have put together two great tasting a phytonutrient packed smoothies that are healthy and delicious for anyone, but specifically formulated to give women’s bodies both what they want and what they need.

The above photo is of my favorite variation: Chocolate-Cherry. I used to think I hated that combination because all I had tried were those terrible cherry cordial candies… but I have since discovered Chocolate- Cherry is quite delicious!

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie:

*1 cup fresh leafy greens (I used beet greens because I have a bunch on hand from my CSA, but  would recommend baby spinach for a mild flavor and great nutritional profile)

*1/2 frozen banana, sliced

*1/2 cup frozen pitted cherries

*1 tablespoon ground flaxseed or 1 teaspoon chia seeds.

*1 tablespoon cocoa powder or raw cacoa powder

*1 teaspoon maca powder

*1 cup nondairy milk (calcium fortified is best. I use soy, but I am aware some of you may avoid soy.)

* Stevia, agave, or your favorite sweetener to taste.

* Optional but good: 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Directions: Layer ingredients in high speed blender in the order given (at least make sure you add the greens first) and blend away! Taste before you pour to determine how much sweetener you want. I topped mine with cacao nibs and granola.

Yesterday, however, I was out of frozen cherries, so I turned to the classic standby: Peanut Butter Chocolate. One of the best combos ever, no question!

Decadent Peanut Butter Bliss...

Peanut Butter Chocolate Bliss Smoothie:

*1 cup greens

*1 frozen banana, sliced

*1-2 tablespoons natural peanut butter (I like Trader Joe’s because it is all natural, super peanutty tasting, and cheap!)

* 1 teaspoon chia seeds (or 1 tablespoon ground flax)

* 1 tablespoon cocoa or cacao powder

* 1 teaspoon maca powder

* 1 teaspoon cinnamon

* 1 cup nondairy (calcium fortified) milk

* sweetener of preference to taste (I like stevia.)

Directions: Put all ingredients in blender, beginning with the greens and ending with the milk. Test for sweetness before pouring into a glass to enjoy! I topped mine with cacao nibs and a crumbled chocolate peanut butter rice crispie treat. Delish!

So what makes these smoothies special?

Chocolate: Kind of a no-brainer in terms of satisfying those cravings… Of course we now know that there is a physiological reason chocolate makes us feel good. Is releases feel good chemicals in our brains such as serotonin and dopamine, even mimicking the feeling of being in love. The small amounts of caffeine also help perk us up and get us ready to tackle the day.

But did you know chocolate is also a great source of magnesium, copper, and even iron? Magnesium helps prevent cramping and copper and iron both help prevent anemia that can often occur in women of child bearing age due to blood loss.

By using cocoa powder to satisfy your chocolate cravings, you can get all the health benefits of chocolate for much less fat than eating a chocolate bar. (Not that I’m saying chocolate bars shouldn’t also be enjoyed in moderation!)

Greens: A great source of vegetarian iron, as well as calcium, vitamin c, vitamin a, and vitamin k. Depending on the greens, the nutrients will vary a little, but most dark leafy greens are high in these vitmins and minerals. I struggled with anemia for years, so I am always trying to eat lots of spinach! Although vegetarian iron is not as easily absorbed by the body as the iron found in meat, vitamin c aids in the absorption, so vegetarians should consume foods rich in iron with foods rich in vitamin c when possible.

Cherries:  A few weeks ago my mother sent me an article on the benefits of cherries in fighting breast cancer. Unfortunately, breast cancer tends to run in my mother’s side of the family. My mother was diagnosed when she was only 42 and her mother and aunt also had it. I try not to worry about whether I will get it. Instead I aim to for a healthy lifestyle that will ward off all kinds of cancers. Anyhow, apparently research has shown that women who get more melatonin have a lower risk of breast cancer. Cherries are one the the best natural sources of melatonin, as well as full of other antioxidants.

Maca: I recently have fallen in love with maca… I bought it because it has been touted as one of those great new “super foods” and I’m a sucker for that kind of thing, but I keep eating it because it’s delicious! It has a malty, buttery sort of taste that is terrific in smoothies, banana ice cream, yogurt, and oatmeal. Here is an excerpt on some of the health benefits from this site:

[Maca] increases energy levels, helps balance hormones and is said to balance the endocrine system and hormones It also helps with estrogen dominance and osteoporosis due to it’s high mineral content with approximately 300mg calcium per 100 grams making it the perfect natural calcium supplement. It also contains magnesium, potassium, iron, silica and traces of iodine, manganese, zinc, copper and sodium, plant sterols which account for it’s hormone balancing effect and 19 valuable amino acids. It also contains vitamins B2, B6, C and niacin. No wonder it is called a Superfood.

It contains considerably more calcium than cows’ milk, and also contains vitamin B12. Maca contains around 15% protein, and all of the essential amino acids. It is not just a basic supplement, but an entire spectrum of nutrients.”

Other Ingredients:

The milk provides calcium, which helps with cramping. If you use soy, it is also a good source of protein.

Chia seeds and ground flax seeds are both excellent sources of omega 3s, and fiber. Chia is especially high in calcium also.

Peanut butter provides a rich taste and long lasting fuel for the body as well as a good dose of protein.

I hope you enjoy these smoothies as much as I do!

xoxo/Nikita

Rawlicious indulgence

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As the weather finally begins to warm up around here, my body naturally starts to crave more fresh and raw foods. While looking online for some raw inspiration last week, I came across Ani Phyo‘s site and saw that she was coming to Portland for a talk and book signing Thursday! The timing couldn’t have been better. Ani was great! I think her gorgeous looks alone sell a lot of people on eating raw foods- I can’t believe she’s 42! She talked about the benefits of raw foods, and answered questions about eating raw on-the-go or while traveling, eating raw in colder climates, and more. She was promoting her new book, Ani’s Raw Food Asia, but I purchased her Ani’s Raw Food Essentials book because I wanted a more basic book to start. I try to eat a lot of big salads and smoothies (especially smoothies with spinach or kale- my husband thinks I’m disgusting, but it’s such a yummy way to get your greens!) but as far as the more complex raw foods preparation, I really have little experience. I also don’t have a dehydrator yet, which many raw recipes call for.

Raw food, which Ani considers food that is not heated above 104F,  is great because it is unprocessed and retains all the beneficial nutrients and enzymes that nature intended it to have. I personally don’t believe that it’s healthy for me to eat too much raw foods during the colder months because when I do I get very chilled. I have a rather cold constitution. When I did my yoga training we had a class on Ayurveda and I am predominantly Vata with a bit of Kapha.  I try to consume warming spices such as cinnamon, ginger, and cayenne, but even that isn’t enough to warm me! So it’s hard for me to imagine living a completely raw lifestyle while living in Portland, but once it warms up I like to a much higher ratio of raw to cooked foods in my diet.

While raw food diets should be based mostly on vegetables, they also lend themselves well to some amazing desserts! Raw food desserts are generally not low calorie, but they are packed with nutrients and satisfying. Yesterday was my last day of clinicals this semester (!) and so we brought in some treats. I wanted to bring something gluten-free, because a friend of mine in the group is allergic to gluten and I also wanted to bring something raw so I adapted a recipe from Angela‘s no bake date bars to make some amazing chocolate coconut date bars. These were a big hit! I always worry when I bring my “healthy treats” that people will turn up their noses at them, but my class mates gobbled them up!

Raw Coconut Chocolate Date Bars:

Crust:

1.5 cups almonds

1.5 cups dried unsweetened coconut (Angela uses oats and I have used these too with yummy results, but I didn’t have any gluten free oats)

10 pitted and chopped dates

2-4 tablespoons coconut oil (you can use another kind of oil, but the flavor of coconut oil is worth seeking out!)

1/2 teaspoon salt

Filling:

2.5 cups pitted dates

2 tablespoons raw cacao or regular cocoa powder

2 tablespoon cacao nibs (optional)

1 teaspoon maca powder (optional but gives a delicious malty flavor)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup pure water as needed

Directions:

Line a 9×9 in square baking pan with parchment paper. Pulse ingredients for crust in food processor until a crumbly and slightly sticky mixture forms. Start with 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and add more if your mixture is still too dry. Press 3/4 of this mixture into your prepared pan. Reserve the rest for topping.

Now wipe out the food processor (it doesn’t need to be washed) and add your filling ingredients, starting with 1/4 cup water and adding more as needed to form a thick, spreadable paste. Spread the filling over the first layer and top with the reserved crust, pressing down lightly. Top with a few more cacao nibs if desired. Freeze for at least 30 minutes or refrigerate for a few hours to set up before slicing into 16 squares. Store in the fridge or freezer for longest shelf life.

Have a beautiful day! I get to take it easy today because tomorrow I’m running my first 10k! :D

xo/Nikita

The search for a delicious and nutritious cookie wages on…

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Just another pretty chocolate cookie?

I could call these cookies “Double Chocolate Cookies” or something equally unoriginal… but the truth is, these babies are Chocolate-Chocolate chip-almond butter- chickpea flour- quinoa cookies. Vegan and gluten free. When put like that, they sound terrible don’t they? I promise they are not. They are soft and fudgey, definitely not a “crisp” cookie. They are sweet enough for dessert, but nutritious enough to be a stand alone snack or even part of a breakfast. I may have eaten 6 total today.

The fact is, I am a shameless chocolate addict and compulsive baker. This can be problematic… and by problematic I mean it can cause my pants to get too tight. My mother’s words of wisdom on staying thin : “Never buy bigger pants.”  Since walking around in public with your pants unbuttoned is seen as uncouth, I guess it’s time to explore other options. ..

Deprivation is for suckers. I want to have my cake and eat it… well 6 times. So I head to the kitchen to work some magic…

I adapted this recipe from Marla‘s Almond Chickpea Cookies but changed several things. I was really pleased with these but I think next time I will tweak them again in my quest for perfection. If it turns out better, I will post the new recipe, but these were great, too!

Chocolate-Chick(pea) Almond Cookies

1 cup chickpea flour

3/4 cup quinoa or other gluten free flour (or regular flour if you are not avoiding gluten)

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

stevia to taste if desired

1/2 cup almond butter

1 ripe banana

1/4 cup agave (or more to taste)

1/2 cup vanilla soymilk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

1/2- 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

ground almonds, shredded coconut, or coarse sugar for rolling

Method: Preheat over to 350F. Combine almond butter, banana, agave, and extracts and beat with electric mixer. Slowly beat in the soymilk. Combine dry ingredients separately and slowly beat in. Fold in the chocolate chips. Roll in balls (about 1.5- 2 Tablespoons worth of dough) and dust with almonds, coconut, or sugar if using. Place on a baking sheet and flatten slightly. Bake 10-12 minutes.

I haven’t run the nutritional info, but these are clearly loaded with protein and fiber and low in sugar. More importantly, they’re chocolate.

Enjoy!

Nikita