Fudge Squares

Ooooooohhhhhmmmgosh. Creamy. Rich. Melt in your mouth goodness. This has got to be one of my most favorite chocolate recipes I have created so far. And I make ALOT of chocolate creations. It is no secret I love chocolate, and I absolutely LOVE fudge. It is actually because of my utter love for chocolate and most things sweet that I started making my own desserts and treats. There is no way I would be able to maintain the level of health I believe to be necessary to live the life I want, if I were to indulge in the commercial sugar laden, often dairy filled, sometimes chemically induced sweets I find at the store, every time a craving hit me. Instead I use all natural, organic, mostly raw ingredients to provide not only the highest level of nutrients to my body but also to provide the most flavorful indulgences. The only bad thing about using such wholesome ingredients in my recipes is that I don’t usually feel too bad if I eat way too many. And let’s face it, too much of a good thing, well eventually does become too much. Anyways, right now is not the time to talk about how to slow down eating such amazing delicious goodness, right now is the time to share one of the fastest ways to get your sweet fix while still loving your body. Given you don’t eat the whole batch at once, and every day. But you might have to try doing that at least once. Just to try. IMG_2260

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 soft medjool dates
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup coconut butter
  • 1 large ripe banana (if you are not a fan of banana you could omit this, but the texture will be somewhat affected)
  • dash of salt

Steps:

  • melt the coconut butter and oil together, either in a double boiler, or in a pot on the stove. If doing this last method, heat the pot first, put your coconut products in it and leave the flame on low for maybe a minute and turn off and stir to get the oils melted. You do not want to cook them, just melts them and having them in a hot pot will be enough.
  • put everything in a food processor and blend until nice and smooth and rich
  • poor in a 8X8 dish, lined with parchment paper
  • set in the fridge for 30 minutes or in the freezer for 10
  • cut in small squares and keep in the fridge

Baked Polenta Fries

Who ever created polenta fries is a genius. These things are so ridiculously tasty. We eat them occasionally at a restaurant nearby and I never even thought of making them myself. Until my daughter came around. This girl always offers me suggestions of things to make. So to mostly satisfy her desire of having these fries at home, and also for the curiosity of trying to make them myself, I gave it a go.

First off let me tell you, this took much longer than I thought it would. Because these are baked and not fried, it adds quite some minutes on the timer. Minutes that I had not taken into consideration while planning on making these. While they were totally worth it and I will be making them again, these won’t be a part of my dinner and a movie night at home with the kids again. Unless I plan better.

In case you remember, I had mentioned receiving beautiful dried chanterelles mushrooms from my parents back yard in the French Pyrenees. And I didn’t know what I was going to use them in, but I promised I would shrea the recipe if what I came up with was delicious. So here you go :)

While I loved these fries the way they were, I won’t be putting the mushrooms in them next time I make them for the kids. Even though they ate a good amount, they weren’t big fans the way I had hoped they would be. And I know it had to do with the dried mushrooms.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup polenta
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese (I used organic local cheddar)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup thinly chopped dried mushrooms (optional)
  • 2 TBS thinly sliced fresh sage (optional)
  • 3 TBS olive oil

Steps:

  • bring water to a boil, add the salt
  • poor the polenta in the water and whisk for a couple minutes until it has thickened
  • cook for 30-40 minutes covered, stirring vigorously every 10 minutes or so.
  • once the polenta is done, poor it in a shallow greased pan. The larger the pan, the thinner the fries, so use your own judgement here. I used an 9 x 12 inch pan.
  • set in the fridge to cool for at leaf 30-40 minutes
  • preheat oven to 400*F
  • once cooled, flip it on a flat surface, so the oily side of the polenta is then facing up and cut into fries
  • grease the bottom of a baking sheet and place fries on it, like that you have oil on both side of the fries
  • pop in the oven and bake until crispy to your liking, Since we wanted ours nice and crispy, it took about 45 minutes and I had to flip them every now and then so that all the sides got nice and toasty.

We dipped them in some tomato sauce which was so delicious, but you can use anything here obviously.

This took twice as long as I thought it would, but I am already planning on making them again they were so good.

Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

It’s spring break for my daughter this week, so we get to sleep in, stay in our PJ’s late and take our time with breakfast! I love these kinds of days as the pressure of getting somewhere on time is taken away and we can all just relax and enjoy each other’s company. And what better way to do that than a kitchen activity! I had been wanting to make these cookies since I saw Peanut Butter and Ellie post them. Hers look divine and I wish I would’ve checked out her recipe one more time before making my own as I would have added more PB, but they cam out great and chewy and delicious nonetheless. Her cookies looked soooo easy and delicious and filled with awesome breakfast fuel that I just had to get my hands dirty with the kids and have fun in the kitchen making them!

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So I did. The kids and I made these this morning and it was really quick as well as super kid friendly to make. I wouldn’t make these with them on a school day but it’s perfect to kick start our week off :)

As you can see they all had a great time mashing all the ingredients together. This is the most fun for kids! They get to squish and mash and play with food and then end up with cookies that mom says it’s okay to eat for breakfast!? Win!!

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Ingredients (per bowl, which means I doubled the recipe so that each of my two oldest had their own bowl):

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 cup small oats, regular oats will do fine, i just prefer the small oats for texture
  • roughly 1 TBS peanut butter (could’ve used more)
  • roughly 1/4 cup raisins (my daughter preferred to use my homemade chocolate chunks)

Steps:

  • preheat oven to 350*F
  • put all ingredients in a bowl and mash them real good!!
  • shape them in which ever form you wish
  • bake for about 15 minutes
  • devour with a nice cold cup of homemade almond milk

Each bowl made about 8 cookies.

Lentil and Butternut Squash Chili

This chili is so much lighter than most chili’s I’ve tasted and definitely lighter than my usual go to the Sweet Potato Chili. Cutting down on the beans by adding lentils instead makes it that it is still rich in protein without the heaviness of too many beans. And switching out the sweet potato for some butternut squash really sealed the deal for me. In my husbands words “this one’s a winner”.

One pot meals like these make me so happy. I make a huge batch, either freeze some for later use, or just have leftovers for a few days. And this method guarantees my kids will get a good dose nutritious delicious vegetables in one meal. As with most one pot meals, I find that it tastes better the next day, although my family had no problem eating more than half of it as soon as it came off the stove.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 TBS cacao powder
  • 1 TBS cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 TBS chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups butternut squash, chopped
  • 1 cup dry french lentils
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large zucchini, chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeño, seeds removed
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 28 oz can of diced organic tomatoes
  • 2 cups cooked beans (I mixed white and black)
  • 1 tsp salt

Steps:

  • In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat, add onions and sautee until they become slightly transluscent
  • add all the spices and keep cooking until the aroma has come out, 2 minutes about
  • add butternut squash, lentils, and water and bring to a boil (this is usually when I chop the rest of my veggies)
  • reduce heat, add all other ingredients except for beans
  • simmer on low for about 30-40 minutes or until lentils are fully cooked
  • add the beans 10 minutes before done
  • taste and adjust spices and salt according to preference.

I ate mine with cilantro and avocado, because avocado makes everything taste better :)

Garden Love and Gomassio

I finally started up my garden again this year after a couple year sabbatical. It feel so great to be playing in the dirt again, planting little seeds watching them grow, feeding our bodies directly from the earth and bringing awareness to my children of the importance of where our food comes from.

Growing up on an organic farm, we ate mostly from what my parents grew. And as a kid I took it for granted. That’s just the way it was! Food grows outside, we pick it, we eat it. During the summer time and school was out, we had to participate in the upkeep of the garden. It was a chore. All my friends were out playing and I had to stay back and put in my two hours before I could do anything. I didn’t like doing it. I complained often. But boy am I happy my parents did that! It is definitely one of those moments where my parents said “You will thank me later”, and I did :)

Having ma parents show me what real food was at such a young age, got me to grow into a food conscious adult, as well as bring awareness to the planet and living things. Now with my kids when we are out in our little city back yard, they observe bugs and ask questions about why I grow certain things and not others and talk about edible flowers. When having children, gardening becomes so much more than just eating from the source. And while I do not have the capacity to grow enough food to feed my family all the vegetables we require, it is still enough to have fresh greens daily and to involve my kids in something I find so important: Health and our Earth, and how the two are connected.

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We have been eating a variety of greens and herbs from the garden for several weeks now, but this is our first batch of radishes, and the kids were so excited to pick them!! Radishes are such a great vegetable for kids to grow because they are so easy, grow fast, are easy for them to pick,  and are cute and pink! Although they have a little spice to them, my kids didn’t seem to mind. I think the excitement of eating from the garden took over the slight spiciness :) I remember loving radishes as a kid. When we ate them at my grandmas house we would put some fresh organic butter on them and then dip them in gomassio, this powder thing that my grandma would buy. For many years I reminisced about how tasty that was, thinking it was a childhood memory or that i had to be at my grandmas house to eat radishes that way. Until I found out that Gomassio was essentially just sesame seeds and salt. So I recreated this childhood memory with my own kids and it was perfect :) We had some leftover gomassio and my daughter being the awesome little creative chef she is decided to use it to make a vegetable stir fry :) I unfortunately have no pictures of that dish. IMG_2495

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup raw sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp himalayan sea salt, or real salt

Steps:

  • smash them together until fine enough to dip radishes in it!
  • A mortar and pestle would be ideal here, but I broke mine a while ago and never bought a new one, so we used my daughters mini food processor

Vegan Cherry Ice Cream with Pistachio Chocolate Chunks

I wasn’t always an ice cream lover. There was actually a time in my life where I just didn’t eat ice cream. Weird, I know. Thank goodness those days are over. And now that I have my own ice cream maker, I get to have fun creating all kinds of flavors!!

Here is one that I made a while ago and just never got around to sharing with you.

You do not need an ice ream maker to make this. It’s just more convenient and faster with one.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dairy free milk (I used almond)
  • 1 cup cashews soaked in warm water for at least 30 minutes
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • 2 cups frozen cherries
  • 1 banana
  • 2 TBS lucuma powder
  • 3 TBS honey
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chunks. I added 1oz or 20 g of pistachios to the chocolate before freezing it for this recipe.

Steps:

  • put everything but chocolate in the blender and blend until smooth
  • if using an ice cream maker, follow those directions, adding chocolate towards the end

If not,

  • then either freeze in ice cube trays and run them through a champion juicer with the blank attachment, fold in chocolate before serving, or put them in the blender with a little bit of milk to get it going, add chocolate before serving
  • or in a shallow dish that you will then have to take out at least 30 minutes before eating to let if get somewhat soft. Add chocolate before freezing
  • Top with pistachios and extra chocolate chunks

Food for Fuel

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photo source: Internet

Why do you eat? Why do you eat what you eat? Do you have a thought process before eating certain foods? Do you feel like your relationship with food could improve?

Food is essential for life. Without food or some form of it, we would not be able to live. Yet in these modern times, food is the cause of so much illness, poor health, sometimes even death. Why is that? Why is it that something that is designed to keep us alive, kills so many?

I think the reason why is because too many have lost contact with food’s primary purpose: FUEL. Then, nutrition.

Food is fuel for our bodies. Just like we need to put gas in our cars regularly, we need to put food in our bodies regularly. The highest quality gas will allow your car to run optimally. The right amount of radiator fluid and good oil, have the same purpose: to help your car to function properly. Too much or too little of these things will make it that your car will either overflow and not know what to do with all the extra liquid, or won’t be able to get you to where you want to go because of insufficient energy. While our bodies are much more amazing and intricate and complicated than a car, the basics are very similar. We need the proper kind of fuel to move optimally. The wrong kind of gas will break your car just like the wrong foods can create illness and poor health. Treat your body as you would your car, fill the tank with the right kind of fuel when it is empty, stop filling when it is full, give it the right kind of oil and at the right time.

Isn’t that great news? I think it is, because it really is THAT simple.

Too many people have lost touch with the simplicity of feeding one’s body and that is where eating disorders, obesity, poor health, etc…. arises. I don’t believe many foods to be truly evil. As a matter of fact, other than being a strict vegetarian, there is nothing I absolutely won’t eat. (Don’t quote me on this I might change my mind later). What I do believe in though, is eating the right foods at the right time. How do you do that? Well just think about what you are trying to accomplish. If all you are interested in is the pleasure of awakening your senses with delicious foods, then by all means, go for it, because, let’s not be hypocrites here, eating food for pleasure can be quite delightful. (Have you seen some of the recipes on my blog??) Even then though, I would suggest to be mindful about this. Do you eat for pleasure every time you eat? If that’s the case, I would suggest you make sure that what you find pleasurable also has a double purpose of properly fueling your body with nutritious ingredients. If it doesn’t, then maybe it’s time to revisit your relationship with food. If you are interested in being healthy and having your body work properly, then I suggest you start thinking about your meals and what you are going to be eating according to what your activities following that meal are. Are you going to be exercising? Are you going to be sitting at your desk for several hours? Are you going out dancing? Are you going to the park to play with your kids? Are you sitting on the couch watching a movie? Depending on what you will be doing, your body will require different forms of fuel. The foods I choose before an afternoon at the park running around, often are different than the foods I choose once the kids are in bed and I am reading a book or watching a movie. With this mindset I rarely feel deprived. If I MUST have a cupcake or ice cream or pizza or croissant, or which ever other foods that are not optimal for my body’s wellbeing, then at least I can make sure to eat those things at a time where my body can use those foods as energy instead of storing them as fat.

Subsequently, choosing the proper nutrition for your fuel will have an even greater positive impact on your health. I mentioned pizza, cupcake and such, and while I believe it is fine to let myself eat those things at times, it is rarely what I will choose to FUEL or FEED my body with when I have health in mind. Using the proper fuel will ensure optimal body function. While eating pizza at lunch when I will be going for a run later is much better than pizza at dinner when I will just be sitting and watching a movie, no pizza is best. So do not let yourself get trapped in the “FUEL” mindset, meaning you are using the fact that you will be using what you just ate as fuel for exercise as a reason to feed your body junk regularly. Combining proper fuel with proper nutrition is where it’s at if you are looking for optimal health. While a cookie might be lower in calories than some dried fruit and nuts, the benefits you will get from the latter outweigh the benefits you would be getting from a cookie. Wether you are burning off the calories or not.

I believe that the quality of your calories are far more important than the quantity of those calories, I will also argue that at which time you choose to consume those calories are almost equally as important than the calories you are choosing to consume.

It might take some practice at first but eventually this will be second nature. Reaching for a cookie at bedtime, or going to the gym on an empty stomach won’t make any sense to you. Having a big carb loaded lunch will sound awful if you know you are returning to the office to sit at your desk for several hours. By thinking of food this way you are bringing back your intuition to what feels best. Because in the end, isn’t that what we all want? To feel good? And I can guarantee you that the momentary “good” feeling you get from eating a “treat” is nothing compared the long lasting bliss that comes with eating a clean, nutrient rich diet.

So next time you reach for something to eat, ask yourself, “What am I trying to accomplish for my body with this food?”

Blueberry Corn Oatmeal Bites

While snuggling in bed this morning, the kids were putting in their breakfast requests. My daughter said she wanted corn muffins. I responded I don’t have corn flour. She says: “But we have the frozen corn! My son:”I don’t want corn muffins Tika! I want oatmeal wif boobewies!” In order to make them  both happy, we came up with these as a solution. They were so easy to make, my daughter did most of the work. As they were baking i thought “Great, here’s school snack for the next few days!”.

Well as I’m typing this, there are barely a quarter of them left. I doubt there will be any left by the end of the morning. I guess the kids love them!!

You can get as creative as you want with the flavors here. Raisins? Cranberries? Shredded coconut? The possibilities are endless. And these are super quick to make I actually could make these before school one morning.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups small oats
  • 1 large ripe banana
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn

I would have added 2 TBS of honey but we are out. The kids don’t seem to mind but if you are used to having a sweetener breakfast, i would suggest you add a couple TBS of sweetener as these are just slightly sweet.

Steps:

  • preheat oven to 350*F
  • put all ingredients but frozen fruit in a bowl and have your kids mash it all together with their hands!
  • add the frozen fruit and continue mashing until well combined
  • grease mini muffin tins with coconut oil
  • fill them up pressing them down so they keep there shape
  • bake for 10 minutes
  • cool and enjoy!

Creamy Sesame Peanut Sauce

Thick and creamy this sauce can go well with most dishes and is so quick to make. I poured mine over zucchini noodles while the kids had theirs over somen noodles and veggies.

We eat pretty simply most of the time. Where I put most of my energy into is making delicious nutritious sweet treats and raw foods. But as far as meals go, I keep it pretty simple. That’s where sauces come in handy. The right sauce can enhance the simplest of vegetable medley and make it exciting.

My daughter really wanted noodles from the asian market by our house so I decided to spruce up the meal with this tasty simple sauce.

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Ingredients:

  • 14 oz organic soft tofu
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 2 TBS soy sauce
  • 1 TBS grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup water or more for a thinner sauce

Steps:

  • Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth
  • taste and adjust flavors accordingly

If i weren’t sharing this with the kids I probably wold have added some chili flakes to add some spice to it

Home made Chocolate Chunks (or chips)

I like to use chocolate in a lot of things. And although I do buy dark chocolate chips, sometimes grain sweetened chocolate chips, for baking, I prefer to use my own if I have some. I try to keep some of my home made stuff handy for ice creams, raw desserts, granola bars, smoothies, etc… I like doing this, not only because it is cheaper, but also because it is refined sugar free and I can choose how dark or fruity or nutty, i want the chocolate to be. Here is a very simple recipe that I tweak every now and then depending on what I am going for. IMG_2383

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz or 85 gr of raw cacao butter
  • 2 1/2 oz or 70 gr of raw cacao powder
  • 2 1/2 TBS agave nectar

Steps:

  • In a double boiler melt the cacao butter
  • turn off the heat and add the cacao powder and agave and whisk well
  • pour in a shallow dish with some parchment paper and set in the freezer for about20-30 minutes
  • pull out and cut into desired pieces
  • store in a container in the fridge until ready to use
  • easy right?!