Dark Chocolate, Coconut and Almond Granola

Dark Chocolate, Coconut and Almond Granola

This dark chocolate, coconut and almond granola is the BEST granola for snacking! Or, enjoy it with milk or yogurt for a satisfying breakfast. Made with mashed bananas and maple syrup, it’s lower in sugar but still plenty sweet. With chunks of dark chocolate, roughly chopped almonds, quinoa and big clusters, it’s got tons of crunch too!

Read More

Browned Butter, Pear and Dark Chocolate Baked Oatmeal Recipe

Browned Butter, Pear and Dark Chocolate Baked Oatmeal Recipe

My favorite cake was the inspiration behind this recipe for this baked oatmeal. My banana and berry baked oatmeal is a regular in our house, so I decided to switch it up with this more fall-appropriate version. I love to make this dish to use up pears that are a little past their prime. Perfect for a make ahead breakfast!

Read More

Iced Spiced Stone Ground Chocolate Drink

Iced Spiced Stone Ground Chocolate Drink

Last year I had this iced stone ground chocolate drink from Taza Chocolate Bar in Boston, and I knew I had to recreate it! It was so refreshing! This iced spiced stone ground chocolate drink is made with a blend of ground dark chocolate, honey and almond milk spiced with cinnamon, cayenne, vanilla and almond extracts!

Read More

Chocolate Silk Pie with Strawberry Rhubarb Topping

Chocolate Silk Pie with Strawberry Rhubarb Topping

Hi guys! Another week, another round of guest posts from some of my favorite RD bloggers as I'm off exploring Japan! Today, Rebecca Clyde of  Nourish Nutrition Co. is sharing this crazy delicious looking recipe for silken chocolate pie. Her photography is just stunning, so definitely check out her blog, and if you're in the food blogging game yourself, her and another dietitian have recently launched a food photography course

Read More

The Best Hot Chocolate Float Recipe

The Best Hot Chocolate Float Recipe

If you’ve never added ice cream to your hot chocolate you are missing out! This is the best hot chocolate float recipe because it’s not your average hot chocolate. The flavors from the vanilla extract, the pinch of salt, and the combination of cocoa and dark chocolate chunks will have you throwing away the powdered hot chocolate packs in your pantry. Try this recipe for your next family Christmas movie night.

Read More

The Ultimate Recovery Smoothie

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #KashiPlantPower #GOTOGETHER #CollectiveBias

The ultimate recovery smoothie is packed with ingredients to boost recovery after a hard workout, along with Kashi's new plant powered shake! 

Remember when I ran a half marathon earlier this year and was all like, "it's one and done! I just want to prove that I can do it!" Well, perhaps unsurprisingly, I've signed up for another half marathon this fall.

This time I'm running the Greenville Spinx Run Fest in October along with a group of girlfriends. My husband, who is the kinda guy who can just run 13.1 miles with no training whatsoever (ugh, I hate him) may or may not be joining. It's Halloween weekend so he really wants to dress as a T-Rex and have me dress as Laura Dern from Jurassic Park. I am all over this idea.

So my official training started this week and with that means paying a little bit more attention to how I'm feeding myself. That was one of the big lessons for me last time I trained. Even though I knew all about sports nutrition, experiencing for myself what running felt like after not fueling myself adequately drove the point home!

This time I'm training during these insanely hot South Carolina days, so I know ice cold smoothies are going to play a vital role! When I got the opportunity to partner with Kashi to highlight their new Kashi® GOLEAN™ Plant Powered Shakes, I knew I wanted to show you how to make my ultimate recovery smoothie.

So what makes this smoothie special?

Kashi GOLEAN Plant Powered Shake in Dark Cocoa // After a strenuous run, it's important to get a nice dose of protein to switch the catabolic hormones (break down muscle) to anabolic hormones (build muscle). Kashi's brand new shake contains 21 grams of plant powered protein from dried peas, sprouted beans, flax and hemp - all natural and good for you ingredients. It's gluten free, vegan and contains 1 billion CFU of probiotics to support gut health. Like Kashi Organic Breakfast Superblends (another one of their new products) both are convenient for an on-the-go lifestyle - both can be simply mixed with water or your choice of dairy to make an easy protein shake, or blend into your favorite smoothie recipe. It's available at Target.com.

I chose dark cocoa because not only does it taste like a chocolate milkshake, but chocolate also contains antioxidants that help reduce post workout soreness! Chocolate is also great for preworkout snacking as it contains antioxidants called epicatechins that improve blood flow to muscles, improving endurance. 

Tart Cherry Juice // The sour taste of tart cherry juice is an indication of high levels of anthocyanins, an antioxidant that helps reduce post workout pain and soreness. Look for pure tart cherry juice in the drink aisle along with the other juices bottled in glass jars.

Medjool Dates // With their sweet, caramel like taste, dates are one of my favorite ways to sweeten foods.Dates are mineral rich which helps replace what was lost in sweat. They also provide a concentrated source of natural sugars, which your body needs after a workout to restore glycogen stores.

Banana // Potassium!! A ton of it is lost in sweat when you're running outside. Bananas are a concentrated source of potassium, as well as natural sugars to boost glycogen stores.

Spirulina // I call spirulina nature's multi-vitamin. Spirulina is an algae that's commonly used as a supplement because of it's nutrient density. It contains more nutrients, and a wider variety of nutrients than just about any food out there. If you use a small amount, you won't taste it, so start with 1/4 of a teaspoon.

Coconut Water // Often called "nature's sports drink" because of the sodium and potassium it contains, I love the light and refreshing flavor it adds to this smoothie.

If you'd like to try Kashi's new GOLEAN Plant Powered Shake or their Organic Breakfast Superblends, enjoy $10 off using the discount code: TGTKASHI.

Connect with Kashi:

Ultimate Recovery Smoothie

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1 frozen banana, cut into chunks

  • 1 scoop Kashi GOLEAN Plant Powered Shake in Chocolate Vinyasa

  • 2 dates, pitted

  • 2/3 cup coconut water

  • 1/3 cup tart cherry juice

  • 1/4 teaspoon spirulina

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients together in a blender and blend until pureed. Serve immediately.

Coconut Almond Macaroons, Three Ways

Easter is less than a week away so I’m excited to be partnering with one of my favorite brands, Bob’s Red Mill, for a sweet treat that’s perfect for sharing this Sunday!

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Easter. It all started off great because, you know, being a kid...candy…what could go wrong? Oh, only MY MOST TRAUMATIC CHILDHOOD MEMORY. Okay, so that’s a bit of an exaggeration, and considering I did wear big purple glasses through elementary school, you know I had many traumatic memories.

The Great Easter Outfit Fail of 1991 began when my grandpa and his lady friend came to visit for the holiday and decided to gift me a new Easter outfit. By early 90s nostalgia standards, it was glorious. Matching floral print pants and shirt, but instead of normal pants, it was a pair of long stretchy shorts with a thick floral ruffle at the end, and instead of a normal shirt, it was a crop top, off the shoulder three-quarter sleeve top with, obviously, more floral ruffle on the sleeves. Being a gift, I was forced to wear it. Although in my parent’s defense, I had zero sense of style and there’s a strong possibility I thought I looked fabulous.

It was until I arrived at our neighborhood clubhouse for their annual Easter egg hunt and saw my friends, in their cute and very normal Easter dresses I realized I looked like a huge dork. The other clue was when they burst into laughter at the sight of me. My memories after that are pretty fuzzy, probably buried in my subconscious, but I’m pretty sure there were tears involved. And I know there’s at least one picture of me holding my Easter basket with a huge pout, which is probably floating somewhere around the internet in meme form.

Now that I know how to dress myself as an adult (#winning!), I haven’t had any outfit related disasters. But being born on April 4th and getting married on March 31st, Easter always has a way of interfering with birthday or anniversary celebrations. And when it comes to birthday/anniversary vs. Easter, Jesus wins.

Hopefully I don’t sound like too much of a Debbie Downer on Easter, because we really do have wonderful celebrations every year at my mother-in-law’s house. We still get Easter baskets because we are 30 going on 9. Except mine is always full of dark chocolate and cooking gadgets, as it should be. That Easter bunny knows me well! Then we all sit down to a delicious Southern meal, followed by a dessert we are way too stuffed to eat more than a few bites of!

I made these Easter macaroons for that exact reason. After a day of candy and Easter ham and biscuits, no one is in the mood for a heavy dessert, but Easter without a cute spring inspired dessert would be a crime! These pastel macaroons will look so pretty as part of your Easter spread, and they have just a hint of sweet that’s perfect after a heavy meal. The whole batch has only ¼ cup sugar, relying on the natural sweetness of coconut.

So here’s a macaroon question for you all. Why are there two very different types of cookies, both called macaroons? There’s the pure shredded coconut cookies then those very pretty and dainty filled macaroon cookies (which always disappoint me because they look much better than they taste). These obviously are a take on the former.

I made these with a mixture of shredded coconut and Bob’s Red Mill almond flour to make them a bit lighter and more cookie-like. Bob’s Red Mill almond flour is my favorite brand of my favorite gluten free flour to bake with. It’s made with blanched, whole almonds so there’s no dark bits of skin then extra finely milled so it’s super soft. You can use it for lighter baked goods like cakes, pancakes and biscuits and it won’t have that grainy consistency you get with other almond flours/meals. Plus, being made with almonds, it's a rich source of vitamin E, manganese and monounsaturated fats. Grab a coupon for Bob's Red Mill here so you can try it yourself!

Feel free to experiment with different types of zest and freeze dried fruit to create a rainbow of colors. I think it would be cute to make a batch of all pastel macaroons with freeze dried blueberries, strawberries and mango! Just be careful not to let them overbrown or they’ll lose that pretty color – keep a close eye on them in the oven and you may want to check on them a few minutes before the end of baking.

Coconut Almond Macaroons, Three Ways

Makes about 40

Ingredients

Lemon Macaroons:

  • Zest of 2 lemons

Chocolate:

  • 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk

Strawberry:

  • 2 cups freeze-dried strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with a little coconut oil.
  2. In a large bowl, mix coconut, almond flour and sugar. Add eggs and stir to combine. Divide dough evenly between four bowls.
  3. To make the lemon macaroons, stir in the lemon zest.
  4. To make the chocolate macaroons, stir in the dark chocolate, cocoa powder and almond milk. Add a little more almond milk if needed to combine.
  5. To make strawberry macaroons, place freeze fried fruit in a plastic bag. Crush with something heavy (I used a meat mallet) until it's a flour consistency. Add to dough with almond milk, adding more almond milk if needed.
  6. Scoop tablespoon sized dollops of dough evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake 20 minutes, checking a few minutes before it's supposed to be done to make sure it's not browning too much. Let cool on the baking sheet a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling. Store covered at room temperature a few days, then transfer to the refrigerator.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Triple Chocolate Banana Ice Cream with Vegan Shell Topping

Make this triple chocolate dairy free banana ice cream topped with an easy two ingredient vegan shell topping! 

I should probably go ahead and give you my address cause you're gonna want to send me flowers for this one.

Surely, at this point you've heard of (and hopefully have tried) one ingredient banana ice cream, or banana nice cream as it's so often called. No dairy. No sugar. No ice cream maker. Just a frozen banana a food processor. Whip it up until it forms a cool, creamy mass. Being the ice cream snob that I am, I held off on trying it for years - well after it made the rounds on pinterest. Until finally I tried it and life was never the same. Err ok, it was the same but with lots more banana ice cream.

Sometimes though, you want something just a little more decadent and that's where this triple chocolate banana ice cream comes in. Blended in with the ice cream is a scoop of chocolate peanut butter (I used Peanut Butter + Co), cocoa powder and a little coconut cream for extra yumminess. The kicker is this easy vegan chocolate magic shell, made with the magic of dark chocolate and coconut oil. I got the idea from my pal Alex at Delish Knowledge. You'll be seeing a lot more of her around these parts as we're working together along with Anne from fANNEtastic Food to launch an online wellness program.

Do y'all remember Magic Shell, the chocolate syrup that hardens when drizzled on ice cream to make a crunchy, chocolatey shell? Do they still make it? (<--- Just googled it. They do. Phew). It's pretty much the worlds greatest ice cream topping with crumbled up double stuff oreos in a distant second. When I was a kid, my favorite treat was a scoop of Breyer's vanilla ice cream (always Breyers. I was an ice cream snob even back then) in a glass of milk with a hefty drizzle of magic shell. You swirl it with a spoon right after pouring the magic shell in and it make these swirls of hardened chocolate. Pure heaven. The best was when you got a spoonful of melty ice cream with some of the chocolatey swirls that had settled on the bottom. Heaven.

...And now I'm dreaming of creating an epic version of it with macadamia nut milk, coconut ice cream and this homemade magic shell. Since my brain is going to be fixated on that, I should probably go ahead and sign off with the recipe, because how do you form words when that's on your mind?

Triple Chocolate Dairy Free Banana Ice Cream

1 large or 2 small servings

Regular peanut butter works too if you don't have chocolate on hand. This makes extra magic shell, which you can store in the fridge. You'll have to remelt before each use by heating it in the microwave about 60 seconds, stopping halfway to stir.

Ingredients

Ice Cream:

  • 1 frozen banana

  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

  • 1 tablespoon chocolate peanut butter

  • 1 tablespoon coconut cream (taken from the top of a can of full fat coconut milk)

  • Coconut whipped cream, optional, for serving

  • Shredded coconut, optional for serving

  • Vegan magic shell, optional, for serving

Vegan Magic Shell:

  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil

Instructions

  1. First, make the shell topping. Microwave chocolate and coconut oil in a microwave safe bowl about 30 seconds. Stir and put back in the microwave 20-30 seconds more. Stir until chocolate is melted and combined.

  2. Next, place banana, cocoa powder, peanut butter and coconut cream in a food processor. Blend, scraping down sides as needed, until a creamy mass of 'ice cream' forms.

  3. Scoop ice cream in a bowl or cup. Garnish with whipped cream, shredded coconut (if using) and magic shell.

More banana-chocolate love children:

One Ingredient Caramelized Banana Ice Cream

One Ingredient Caramelized Banana Ice Cream

Low Sugar Dark Chocolate Almond Granola

Low Sugar Dark Chocolate Almond Granola

Roasted Bananas with Salted Coconut Cream, Dark Chocolate and Pistachios

Roasted Bananas with Salted Coconut Cream, Dark Chocolate and Pistachios

Dark Chocolate Dipped Chai Almond Cookies

Lightly sweetened and made with whole grains, these dark chocolate dipped chai almond cookies are the perfect addition to your holiday baking! 

It's the most wonderful time of the year - Christmas cookie time!

Ever since I was a kid and would count down the days until snow covered oreos were available, Christmas cookies have made me crazy happy. Although who are we kidding, cookies make me crazy happy year round! Candy and cakes do nothing for me, but cookies are everything.

When it comes to holiday baking, I tend to get delusions of grandeur. I think I've read too many issues of Southern Living, because I dream of making all my friends pretty little boxes filled with homemade and healthy holiday cookies. I pulled it off one year for my coworkers and it quickly turned into an all night affair! Maybe I'll attempt again when I retire :)

This year I wanted to whip up a batch of cookies to bring to a holiday lunch with my officemates. These were very loosely inspired by my memories of an Italian bakery we used to go to growing up in New York. I would stare into the glass case filled with dozens of kinds of cookies and basically turn into Veruca Salt, begging my parents 'I want them ALL!'

(Timeout. Just as I was writing this, Scott walked in the door with a box of Christmas cookies from a coworker. Universe, sometimes you are awesome).

Anyway, I remember this one buttery, crumbly, barely sweet almond cookie that was dusted with powdered sugar. Another one I loved was this sweet butter cookie dunked in chocolate. This is kind of a hybrid of the two. I don't remember anything with chai tea, but I like chai tea, so lets just throw it in there for giggles. 

What are your favorite Christmas cookies? Leave a comment or a link below! 

Dark Chocolate Dipped Chai Almond Cookies

makes about 30

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup turbinado or brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk (or dairy of choice)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • The contents of 2 chai tea bags, finely ground (you could use a coffee grinder)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup toasted almonds, finely chopped
  • 1 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In the bowl of a large standing mixer, mix coconut oil and sugar on high speed until fluffy and fully combined, about 1-2 minutes. Add egg, almond milk, vanilla extract and blend until combined, scraping down sides if needed. Slowly mix in whole wheat flour, almond meal, chai tea powder and salt while mixer is running on medium-high speed, stopping to scrape down sides as needed. Add chopped almonds, mix on medium-high speed until combined, then set aside.
  3. Using a tablespoon measure, form balls of dough. Place evenly on a large, greased cookie sheet (they won't spread much) and press down lightly to flatten. Bake 20 minutes until lightly browned.
  4. Remove cookies from oven and let cool. Once cool, heat chocolate chips and oil in the microwave in 15 second intervals, stopping to stir between each interval, until smooth. Dip cookies in chocolate, then place on a sheet of parchment paper over. Carefully place cookies and parchment paper in the refrigerator to harden. When chocolate is firm, store cookies in a container with a lid in the refrigerator or at room temperature.

More holiday baking inspiration: 

Gluten Free Everything But The Kitchen Sink Cookies
Gluten Free Everything But The Kitchen Sink Cookies
Gluten Free Nutella Blondies
Gluten Free Nutella Blondies
No Added Sugar Cinnamon Raisin Spice Cookies
No Added Sugar Cinnamon Raisin Spice Cookies

Gluten Free Nutella Blondies

You'll never guess the secret ingredient in these moist and dense gluten free nutella blondies!

Clemson football is a fall tradition in our house. The hubs and I both graduated from Clemson, and Scott's actually a third generation grad. We used to get season tickets, right up on the 40 yard line, but we stopped a couple years ago because with travel, we were missing all the big games. Still, whenever we can, which is most home games, we make it back to our 'happy place' to see friends, family, and cheer on our Tigers.

This year is a little sad because the way our schedule has worked out, I'm not going to make it to a game until November. We missed a couple games for weddings, a couple more when we go to Vietnam, and FNCE (our national dietitians conference) is scheduled when we play Notre Dame for the first time since the 70s. Seriously Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, why didn't you consult me?

While watching the game on TV with friends this past week, I realized how much I missed Clemson tailgating. I miss having all my friends together in one place. I miss driving through downtown Clemson. I miss post game beers at the Esso. I miss having happy college memories flood back to me as we walk around campus. And I miss these incredible gluten free blondies my friend makes for tailgates (hi Tara!).

It's been a couple years since I had them, but I do remember two things. One, they were gluten free. Two, they were the best blondies I've ever had. Ever. And I've been around the block a time or two with blondies.

When I decided to create my own version, I remembered how my absolute favorite brownies are made with black beans. If you haven't done much gluten free baking, it probably sounds absolutely nuts, but trust me, it does not taste like you're biting into a bean burrito. You barely get the flavor at all and the pureed beans provides a moist and dense texture. For blondies, it seemed natural to try with garbanzo beans.

The nutella spin was a happy accident when I realized I was out of almond meal and didn't feel like running to the store. Since I had a bag of hazelnuts on hand, I pulsed them in the food processor to create a flour. Really, you could use any type of nut flour and you wouldn't go wrong!

After baking, store these brownies in the refrigerator, since the beans will cause them to spoil at room temperature. The hubs learned that one the hard way.

Gluten Free Nutella Blondies

Makes 12.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup hazelnuts, toasted

  • 1 14 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar (or other unrefined sugar, like turbinado)

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Place toasted hazelnuts in a clean dish towel and rub together to loosen the skins. Place 1/2 cup of the hazelnuts (leaving the skins behind) in a food processor and blend until they are a flour consistency.

  3. Add chickpeas, coconut sugar, eggs, coconut oil, and salt to the food processor. Process until blended together. Roughly chop the remaining half cup of toasted hazelnuts and stir that in along with the chocolate chips.

  4. Line a large loaf pan with parchment paper or grease generously with coconut oil. Scrape batter inside and spread the top even with a spatula. Bake for 35-40 minutes until edges are golden and the middle is firm. Remove from oven and set aside to cool room temperature before cutting into 12 squares.

More gluten free baked goods:

Everything But The Kitchen Sink Cookies

Everything But The Kitchen Sink Cookies

Almond Trail Mix Cookies

Almond Trail Mix Cookies

Banana Oat Bites with Peanut Butter and Chocolate

Banana Oat Bites with Peanut Butter and Chocolate

Good Mood Food: Coconut Steel Cut Oatmeal With Almonds and Dark Chocolate

Start your day on the right side of the bed with a bowl of coconut steel cut oatmeal with almonds and dark chocolate. Packed with healthy, mood boosting carbohydrates, this meal is the start to a great day! 

When I was in high school, the Atkins diet was all the rage. My friends did it. My parents did it. And because I was under their roof, I did it. Or, at least dinner was low carb. The rest of my diet consisted of frappucinos, chocolate chip cookies from the school cafeteria and turkey sandwiches on white bread. Still, the low carb mentality was firmly engrained in my mind and I thought all these foods were "bad." Not because they were packed with sugar, heavily processed or unhumane, but because they were high in carbs.

The anti-carb mindset might still be in the back of my mind if it wasn't for one day at the mall with a friend of mine. She was in the initial phase of Atkins when you're supposed to eat less than 20 grams of carbs in a day. FYI, the minimum amount of carbs recommended per day is 100-150 grams and the RDA comes out to between 225-325 for someone eating 2,000 calories/day. So yeah, not a whole lot.

After making plans to go shopping, she asked me to pick her up because she felt so horrible she didn't feel comfortable driving. She was so exhausted, we had to stop between each store to sit. When we stopped for lunch at my favorite Italian restaurant (in hindsight, that kind of evil and selfish. I swear this was my friend) she could only order plain chicken with a garlic sauce on the side. She almost cried at the lack of options. My friend was and still is outgoing and hilarious, one of the biggest personalities I've ever met. To give you an idea, the last time we hung out, she convinced our James Franco look-alike server she was a 47-year-old pediatric neurosurgeon and that I once dated Sisqo. Like I said, big personality. On Atkins, she was a shell of her usual self - depressed, quiet, lethargic and generally unwell.

At the end of the day, I came home with some cute new clothes and an unshakeable belief that carbs are a need.

When it comes to brain health, carbohydrate containing foods probably have the biggest impact. As my friend's example clearly demonstrates, your brain needs carbs. Glucose, the breakdown product of carbs, is usually the only source of fuel the brain can use. The wrong type of carbs however, is one of the least healthy foods for the brain. Too many added sugars and refined grains cause chronic inflammation in the brain, affect stress hormones, and cause fluctuations in blood sugar that affect mood and energy levels. High blood sugar levels, even if not at diabetic levels, can cause damage to the small blood vessels in the brain which contributes to depression, anxiety and even dementia.

When it comes to carbs and brain health, quality trumps quantity in terms of importance. The highest quality carbs boost serotonin (aka happy hormone) levels without causing them to crash. Quality carbs are a source of sustainable energy. Anyone who has had a rough night of sleep or forgot their morning cup of coffee knows how low energy can affect mood.

The highest quality carbs? Fresh fruit, beans and lentils, vegetables (including starchy veg), and intact grains.

Oats are one of my favorite grains. I love a fiber and carbohydrate rich breakfast to energize my day. Compared to other grains, oats are an especially rich source of beta-glucan, a special type of fiber that helps lower cholesterol and keep blood vessels healthy. Oats also contain lignans and phenols, two phytochemicals with heart healthy benefits.

I always appreciate the ease and portability of overnight oats. Plus, they're a great make-ahead breakfast, because we know every minute of sleep is precious! Steel cut oats are fantastic, although convenient they are not. Who has 30 spare minutes in the morning? Not I! When I found quick cook steel cut oats at Trader Joe's, I knew I hit the jackpot. Soak these overnight in coconut milk (or the milk of your choice) and they'll "cook" in the fridge. If you don't have a Trader Joe's near you, feel free to sub regular rolled oats.

Coconut Steel Cut Oats With Almonds and Dark Chocolate

Serves 4

I used coconut milk from the carton, not canned. But if you want a richer coconut flavor, swap some of the cartoned coconut milk for canned. To make it more chocolatey and sneak in extra antioxidants, stir in a couple tablespoons of dark cocoa powder.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups quick cook steel cut oats or rolled oats
  • 4 cups unsweetened coconut milk
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
  • Honey or pure maple syrup for serving

Instructions

  1. In a large lidded container, mix oats, coconut milk and sea salt. Let sit in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. In the morning, warm the oats on the stove or in the microwave for a minute or two, or enjoy cold. Top with coconut, almonds and dark chocolate. Drizzle with a teaspoon of honey to sweeten.

Start your day with these oatmeal recipes: 

Low Sugar Dark Chocolate Granola with Almonds and Coconut
Low Sugar Dark Chocolate Granola with Almonds and Coconut
Vegan Multigrain Breakfast Bake with Blueberries
Vegan Multigrain Breakfast Bake with Blueberries
Chai Oatmeal with Sauteed Pears
Chai Oatmeal with Sauteed Pears

Gluten Free Chocolate Pumpkin Seed Cupcakes

Made with pumpkin seed meal, these gluten free chocolate pumpkin seed cupcakes with ganache are worth creating something to celebrate. 

Happy National Cupcake Day!

Kidding! I just wanted an excuse to share these rich, chocolatey, gluten free cupcakes with you all. But then I realized you never need an excuse to do that!

Plus, National Cupcake Day is December 15th. Mark your calendars now :)

I had a little happy moment while making these. I woke up, had a great run followed by (well, a shower first) an initial client meeting which went incredibly well. After our meeting, I checked my inbox to find a super sweet email from an old client sharing his progress and another email booking a corporate event. After responding, I went to the kitchen, turned on Parts Unknown, and pulled out the ingredients to spend the rest of my morning making these cupcakes.

Like a ton of bricks (or a pound of dark chocolate), it hit me. Life is pretty good :)

Last week, I had a conversation with this guy (not a client) who was, well, frankly a little cray cray. He made a lot of comments that were more than a little off the wall, but he did say something that when I thought about it later, was actually quite profound. He said "I believe if you can envision it, you can manifest it."

For years, I was stuck in a job that I liked, but it was difficult to help people reach their true potential (or reach my professional potential) because of the bureaucracy of the system. I dreamt of starting a private practice, but I didn't identify as someone with the skills to run a business. Because that was my identity, I stayed stuck.

Even after making the crazy leap into starting my private practice, I still held on to that identity. When I struggled, it was proof of my identity (a failure, supposedly), not the normal trials and tribulations that come with doing something new for the first time.

Then a funny thing happened. I started to change my perspective and view myself as success. The more I viewed myself as a success, the more success came my way. I envisioned it, therefore I manifested it.

I see the same thing with many of my clients. Those who struggle the most to change their identity also struggle the most to change their behaviors. If you think of yourself as someone who doesn’t have any control around food, why wouldn't you give in to an emotional craving or order pizza instead of cooking dinner? On the other hand, those who are able to imagine themselves as the person they want to be, or even identify as a work in progress, are those ones who constantly surprise themselves by achieving new goals.

Wow, so that was a major tangent from pretend cupcake day! Let's take this full circle. Since now you will start viewing yourself as a healthy and successful person, you should probably go ahead and make these cupcakes to celebrate!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Seed Cupcakes With Chocolate Ganache

Makes 12

Adapted from The Homemade Flour Cookbook.

Ingredients

Cupcake:

  • 2 cups pumpkin seeds

  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey

  • 1/4 cup walnut oil, melted coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil

Ganache: 

  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk or coconut cream

  • 1/2 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.

  2. Place pumpkin seeds in a food processor. Blend into a meal/flour, about 4-6 minutes. Be careful not to overblend or it will form a butter.

  3. Scrape pumpkin seed meal into a large bowl. Whisk in cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In another large bowl, whisk together eggs, honey, and oil. Mix wet ingredients into dry.

  4. Divide batter evenly between the wells, filling about 2/3s of the way full. Place in the oven and bake 16-18 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aisde to a wire rack to cool.

  5. While cupcakes are cooling, mix chocolate and coconut milk/cream in a microwave safe bowl. Heat 30 seconds, stir, then in 10 second intervals until chocolate is melted and smooth.

  6. When cupcakes are cool, spoon ganache over the top. Serve warm or refrigerate until ready to eat.

Try these other gluten free baked goods: 

Almond Trail Mix Cookies

Almond Trail Mix Cookies

Mini Chocolate Quinoa Cupcakes

Mini Chocolate Quinoa Cupcakes

No Added Sugar Cinnamon Raisin Spice Cookies

No Added Sugar Cinnamon Raisin Spice Cookies

Roasted Bananas with Salted Coconut Cream, Dark Chocolate and Pistachios

Sweet roasted bananas with salted coconut cream, dark chocolate and pistachios is the perfect gluten free and vegan dessert for summer entertaining. 

Fresh fruit as dessert has never been my style. Great for snacking, but as dessert? Nope, not gonna cut it. Whenever I read a nutrition article encouraging people to swap dessert for fruit, I literally want to jump through the screen and kick them in the kneecap. No. Just no.

But when you roast aforementioned fresh fruit in honey, serve it over a lightly sweetened and sea salted coconut cream and garnish it with a crunchy mixture of dark chocolate chunks, toasted coconut and pistachios, then that is a fruit dessert I can get behind.

If you're gonna do fruit as dessert, you probably want to take my advice and roast it first. Concentrating the natural sugar and adding a hint of caramelized flavor takes fruit from tasty snack to droolworthy. Sweet and creamy bananas are a perfect candidate.

Bananas are a great way to enjoy a sweet and creamy dessert with less added sugar. Dense in natural sugars with a creamy consistency, I use bananas to sweeten and replace fats and dairy in all sorts of desserts from cookies to ice cream to bars to milkshakes.

In the nutrient department, they're adding a lot more than just potassium. Bananas contain sterols, a plant compound that's structurally similar to cholesterol, but actually blocks the absorption of cholesterol. They also pack a hefty dose of soluble fiber, a cholesterol lowering type of fiber. Bananas are great for digestion as well as they contain pectin, a type of prebiotic fiber that promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria. In one study, eating two bananas a day led to a significant increase of bifidobacterium, a friendly-type of bacteria often used in probiotics. Pectin content increases as bananas ripen, so enjoy those bananas when they're super spotty and sweet!

Roasted Bananas with Salted Coconut Cream, Dark Chocolate and Pistachios

Serves 6

Ingredients

Roasted Bananas:

  • 6 bananas, peeled and halved lengthwise

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted

  • 2 teaspoons honey

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Coconut Cream: 

  • 1 14-ounce can full fat coconut milk

  • 1 tablespoon honey

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • Sea salt

Other Ingredients: 

  • Chopped pistachios

  • Chopped dark chocolate

  • Toasted shredded unsweetened coconut

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  2. In a small bowl, stir together coconut oil, honey and vanilla. Arrange bananas cut side up on a baking sheet. Brush with the coconut honey mixture. Place in the oven and roast 20 minutes until lightly golden and tender.

  3. While bananas are roasting, combine coconut milk, honey and vanilla in a small pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes until thickened. Once slightly thickened, stir in sea salt to taste. I used about 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

  4. Spoon some of the salted coconut sauce into the middle of a dessert plate. Top with two roasted banana halves. Garnish decoratively with pistachios, dark chocolate and coconut.