raw brownies

Raw Spicy Nut Brownies

Chocolate that’s good for you! These brownies hit the spot. And of course you can adjust the heat or totally leave it out if spicy chocolate is not your thing. The nuts I typically use are walnuts, but I think any nut or seed blend would work. If using seeds, almonds or brazil nuts, the liquid and dates may need to be adjusted to hold the less fatty nuts and seeds together.

Raw cacao versus Dutch chocolate has more minerals and phytonutrients, so try to get some and boost up the nutrition in the chocolate you eat. It does still have caffeine, so if you are sensitive or caffeine keeps you up at night, be sure to only eat in small amounts or completely substitute it for carob powder.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Raw Spicy Nut Brownies

Deliciously rich and satisfying, packed with protein, omegas and minerals. Chocolate that's good for you.
Prep Time20 mins
Chill time1 hr
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: brownies, chocolate, raw, walnuts
Servings: 12
Author: Chef Kim

Equipment

  • 8X8 inch pan or springform pan

Ingredients

  • 4 cups walnuts or nut/seed mixture
  • cups dates, pitted
  • 2/3 cup cacao powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1-2 tsp cayenne powder
  • pinch sea salt
  • 2-3 Tbsp water

Ganache frosting

  • 1/2 cup cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup or agave, coconut nectar or honey
  • 1/4 cup coconut butter or oil melted
  • pinch sea salt
  • sprinkle with cinnamon

Instructions

  • Add the nuts or seeds you are using to a food processor and blend into a coarse meal.
  • Add the dates and pulse to break them down and combine with the nuts/seeds.
  • Add the cacao and spices and blend until its crumbly and sticks together when you press it between your fingers.
  • Transfer to a mixing bowl and add water, mixing together after each tablespoon. It should come together into a dough, but should not be wet.
  • Line your pan with parchment paper and press the brownie dough into it evenly, firmly pressing down.
  • Place in the refrigerator to chill while you mix the frosting.
  • In a mixing bowl add the cacao powder, salt and maple syrup
  • melt the coconut butter or oil and whisk into the cacao and sweetener, mixing until completely smooth and shiny.
  • Pour the frosting over the brownie and spread evenly. Chill for an hour.

Notes

You can try different combinations of nuts and seeds, you may just have to add more dates and water to hold it together. Walnuts and pecans have a lot of oil and that works with these amounts. But I think combining the nuts with hemp or pumpkin seeds would be nice and add different nutrients to the mix.
Another variation of this brownie is to make it with mint leaves and peppermint oil or extract. peppermint oil and extract are very potent, so start with a couple drops of oil or 1/2 teaspoon of the extract. Add fresh mint leaves, if you have some, to the nuts when you grind them in the first step.
Have fun with this recipe.
carrot ginger soup

Orange Ginger Carrot Soup (dairy free)

This lovely Orange Ginger Carrot soup is so creamy and comforting, yet dairy free and delicious. The smooth sweetness and spiciness perfectly compliment each other. Carrots from the garden or farmers market have a natural sweetness that is far better than the bagged carrots that have been sitting for awhile. Full fat canned coconut milk makes for the best texture (I like natures forest brand), but light or carton coconut milk will work, too.  I like the flavor of  fresh ginger versus powdered ginger, but again, it will work if that’s what you have on hand. The orange can be substituted with orange juice. Feel free to adjust the amount of ginger and orange to your palate. This recipe can be doubled for a larger batch and freezes well.

This soup works throughout the year; it is tasty at room temp on a hot, muggy evening or is just as satisfying served piping hot on a cold winters night. I hope you’ll give it a try. Writing about it makes me hungry. Enjoy!

Orange ginger Carrot soup

Luscious, creamy comfort in a bowl.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: carrot, dairy free, ginger, gluten free,, orange
Servings: 4
Author: Chef Kim

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
  • 2 lb carrots, peeled, sliced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated or 1 tsp powdered
  • 1 navel orange, peeled or 1/2 cup orange juice

Instructions

  • In a medium soup pan, heat 1 tbsp of coconut or olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and let cook for 2-3 minutes to soften.
  • Add the garlic and stir to combine and keep from browning, cook another minute.
  • Add the sliced carrots, ginger and vegetable broth just enough to cover the carrots. Bring to a simmer and let cook for about 30 minutes, until carrots are tender.
  • When carrots are tender, add the coconut milk. If using full fat, let the solid coconut cream melt. then remove from the heat.
  • Transfer half of the carrots and broth to a blender and add the peeled orange or orange juice. If your blender top has a vent hole or removable center piece, remove it and cover with a kitchen towel to allow steam to release. Blend on low, gradually increase to high for about a minute. Blend remaining soup until smooth and creamy and combine in a serving pot.
  • An immersion or stick blender can be used; however, the texture will not be quite as smooth.
  • Garnish with pumpkin seeds or gluten free croutons if you want a little crunch.
    Enjoy
Fruit

Cucumber-Pineapple-Kiwi Pops

Healthy tastes great with these cool and cleansing popsicles that hit the spot!  It’s hard to find healthy fruit popsicles. Fruit pops in stores have added sugars and artificial flavors. Ingredients you don’t want.

These cucumber fruit pops are so easy to make, there’s no excuses for not having a healthy, fun and delicious treat in your freezer. The ingredients can be tweaked to your liking.  If you’re not a fan of pineapple try mango or watermelon, if you want to ramp up the nutrition even more, add a handful of spinach or kale. Berries make a great add in but you could try sliced banana and orange wedges too.
Another easy way to have popsicles on hand is to make an extra large smoothie when you make one for breakfast or lunch, and freeze some of it to have as a popsicle later.

Who doesn’t like popsicles? They are a wonderful alternative to the sugar laden frozen desserts that temp us in the grocery isle. Go ahead and make your own healthy version.

Cucumber-Pineapple-Kiwi Pops

Cooling and cleansing pops that hit the spot when you crave something cold and sweet, but without the sugar!
Prep Time20 mins
Course: Dessert
Keyword: cucumber, kiwi, pineapple, popsicle
Servings: 10
Author: Chef Kim

Equipment

  • blender

Ingredients

  • 1 Medium cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple chunk
  • 3 kiwi, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Pinch sea salt

Instructions

  • In a blender, combine the chopped cucumber and pineapple, 1 kiwi, lemon juice and salt. Blend to completely purée.
  • Divide between popsicle molds or Dixie cups.
  • Divide kiwi slices among the molds.
  • Insert sticks and freeze until firm, about 4 hours.
    When ready to serve, dip molds in cool water to gently remove molds or if using Dixie cups, tear the cup away from the frozen pop.

Notes

If kiwi is not a favorite fruit, try berries or slices of banana.
Lemon protein balls

Cool Lemon Protein Balls

Need a snack or quick fix that’s high in phytonutrients and good for you? Here you go! These cool lemon protein balls have everything you need for a clean snack packed with whole food nutrition.

These snack balls are made with nuts or seeds, dates, prunes or raisins, protein powder (this is the one I use) nut/seed butter, cinnamon, lemon zest and juice. Pretty simple, you just need a food processor to make it really easy. If you don’t have one, it takes a little more muscle, but it’s doable.

Give them a try and let me know what you think.

Cool Lemon Protein Balls

A whole food snack that's makes for the perfect bite.
Prep Time20 mins
Course: Snack
Keyword: gluten free,, nut free option, protein, vegan
Servings: 14 balls
Author: Chef Kim

Equipment

  • food processor

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dates, prunes, or raisins
  • 1 cup nuts or seeds (brazil, walnuts, cashews, pumpkin, sunflower, hemp)
  • 1 scoop plant based vanilla protein
  • 1 Tbsp nut/seed butter (almond, cashew, sunflower)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice

Instructions

  • Place the dates, prunes or raisins in the food processor and add your choice of nuts/seeds. Process by pulsing until finely ground.
  • Add remaining ingredients except the lemon juice and mix until combined.
  • Add the lemon juice only if needed to make the mixture softer and stickier so that it forms a dough.
  • Shape dough into balls, about 2 tablespoons, and place in the freezer. Taste great and cools you off when eaten right out of the freezer. Keep refrigerated or frozen to extends the shelf life.

If you do not have a food processor:

  • Lay the dates, prunes or raisins on a baking sheet and place in a warm oven, about 300 degrees, for about five minutes. This will soften them.
  • Transfer them to a bowl and using a wooden spoon, mash them into a paste. This will take a little muscle. Once you have a paste, chop the nut or seeds you choose to use very fine and stir those into the paste.
  • Stir in the remaining ingredients, mixing well to evenly combine the ingredients.
  • Form into ball and refrigerat or freeze.

 

Mediterranean salad

Mediterranean Salad

This Mediterranean salad is very filling, especially if you add the chickpeas or make it alongside Walnut Falafels. I think the lemon and garlic dressing ties it all together.

This is a play on a bulgur salad I used to make. Now that I am gluten-free,  I use quinoa, oat groats or brown rice to make it. Making it all veggie by using cauliflower rice is a great tasting option as well.

The dressing is also one you could easily whisk together at the beginning of the week to have on hand for green salads throughout the week.

This recipe makes enough for 5 main dishes, or is a great one to make during your weekly prep time and then portion out for the week. It holds up well and would last covered and sealed for up to 5 days. It’s a wonderful one to portion into jars for the week and then pack in extra greens on top so that you have a salad meal ready to go. Easy grab-n-go, so you’re not tempted by the drive through.

It also makes a great summer dinner for the family. I hope you enjoy it.

 

Mediterranean Salad

Fresh vegetables and grain tied together with a garlic lemon dressing.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: chickpeas, quinoa, vegetables
Servings: 5
Author: Chef Kim

Equipment

  • mixing bowl
  • small saucepan
  • Cutting board
  • sharpened chef's knife

Ingredients

For the Salad:

  • 1 cup quinoa, oat groats, millet or rice
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup zucchini, diced
  • 1 stalk of broccoli
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup parsley, minced
  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed optional

For the Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp water or white wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 tsp salt and ground pepper

Instructions

For the dressing:

  • Whisk together dressing ingredients in a small bowl and let sit so flavors meld while making the salad.

For the salad:

  • Combine grain and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer according to grain directions. usually cooking quinoa for 10-15 minutes, taking off the heat and and letting it steam, covered for 5 minutes. Oat groats and rice will take longer, about 25-30 minutes, just don't cook until its mushy. You want it to be separate grains, not sticky and a little chewy.
    If using cauliflower rice, you can lightly steam it or use it raw.
  • While grain is cooking, prep the vegetables. Dice the onion, pepper and zucchini. Quarter the tomatoes. Cut the florets from the broccoli stem into small bit size pieces. Peel the remaining stem to remove the thick outer fiber and then dice the crunchy inner stem of the broccoli. Remove the leaves from the parsley stems and mince.
  • Combine vegetables and chickpeas, if using, in a mixing bowl, toss to combine.
  • When the grain is tender, drain any remaining water from the pan and add grain to the vegetables and let cool.
  • Add half the dressing and toss to completely coat the salad. Enjoy the salad at room temperature. Add more dressing before serving or pass with the salad.

Notes

I usually make this salad without the chickpeas and pile falafels on top. 
Granola bars

Molasses Granola Bars Conquer the Snack Attack

The snack monster is real, and these molasses granola bars conquer that snack attack by supporting the body’s needs with satisfying taste and healthy nutrients.  Usually when we give in to snacking we can feel like a failure afterwards.  These bars can make you feel awesome because you’re taking care of yourself and the ones you love.

You can customize these bars to suite your needs and tastes by substituting ingredients you want to include to help you reach your health goals.  Think along the lines of different kinds of dried fruits, adding nutritional powders, whether its plant protein or super food powders, adding in spices, or using almond or cashew butter in place of the tahini or maybe try switching up the molasses and using yacon syrup, coconut nectar, brown rice syrup, or honey. There are so many varieties you could make. I hope you give them a try.

Molasses Granola Bars

Crunchy or chewy, you decide. These bars are full of flavor and satisfy those snack cravings.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: almonds, oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower, walnuts
Servings: 24 bars
Author: Chef Kim

Equipment

  • large mixing bowl
  • 9X13 pan,
  • parchment paper,
  • saucepan,
  • Spatula
  • rolling pin, optional

Ingredients

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 cups chopped raw nuts walnuts, pecans, almonds or sunflower/pumpkin seeds (mixture)
  • 2 cup gluten free old fashioned oats
  • 1 ½ cup gluten free crispy rice
  • 1 cup dried fruit raisins, cherries, chopped dates or apricots or mixture
  • ½ cup flax hemp or sesame seeds
  • ½ cup kale chips crushed (optional- add a nice nutritional punch)

Wet Ingredients

  • ¾ cup molasses or maple syrup or mix both
  • 3 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons tahini sesame butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt

For Savory bars;

  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp fresh cut herb: thyme or rosemary

Instructions

  • Prepare a 9x13 baking dish by lining it with parchment paper, extending the paper over the edges. Have that close and ready.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients: nuts/seeds, oats, crispy rice, dried fruit, flax/hemp/sesame and kale chips, if using.
  • In a small saucepan, combine the wet ingredients: coconut oil, tahini, molasses/maple syrup, coconut sugar, vanilla, salt and herbs, if making savory bars.
  • Bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce heat to low and simmer for 3 minutes, while stirring constantly. It should be bubbling as you stir.
  • Being careful not to burn yourself, pour into the oat mixture and stir quickly to coat everything.
  • Transfer mixture to the prepared pan and use another sheet of parchment to cover mixture and press the mixture evenly into the pan. It is also effective to use the flat bottom of a measuring cup or rolling pin to evenly press down the mixture.
  • For chewy bars, place pan in the refrigerator to chill.
  • When completely cooled, cut and store refrigerated for two weeks. Freeze for longer life and individually wrap for a quick snack to grab on the go.
  • For crispy bars, bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool and cut into bars.

Cool Zucchini Soup

Right now, I am harvesting zucchinis everyday and have a lot to use. This is a great recipe that uses about three decent sized zucchinis. Its fresh and cooling for those hot summer nights. And super easy to just blend together.

Zucchini is one of those foods that’s pretty mild, so don’t be afraid to use those herbs and spices to enhance the flavor. It also makes a good replacement for oil in blended dressings because it adds body without the fat. This soup is even good without the oil and avocado if you prefer to lower the fat content, but you will lose some of the creaminess and mouthfeel that fat brings to the recipe. And don’t forget that zucchini makes a great pasta substitute, just spiralize or use a peeler to make noodles and then top it with pesto or marinara.

Zucchini has a variety of beneficial nutrients including: vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. One cup has 40% of the recommended vitamin A, which supports eye health and immune system. It is also rich in fiber and water, both help with gut function and benefit the microflora which in turn benefits our immune response.

So if you have a garden or CSA with zucchini in season, give this recipe a try and let me know how you like it. Another way to make it even more delightful on hot summer days is to dice a mango and add it to each serving bowl. the mango a curry play off each other and the juicy fresh and light flavor of the mango cools and brightens each bite.

Cool Zucchini Soup (Raw, DF, GF, NutFree)

A delicious use of zucchini, this cooling soup is wonderful on a warm day. No need to turn on the stove.
Prep Time15 mins
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Keyword: creamy soup, dairy free, gluten free,, nut free, zucchini
Author: Chef Kim

Equipment

  • Vita-mix or bender

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup water or oat milk Or add 1/4 cup oats to water
  • 2 cups zucchini roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp white miso
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • Dash cayenne
  • 1 avocado
  • extra olive oil for drizzle optional
  • 1 zucchini finely diced or spiralized for texture

Instructions

  • Blend all ingredients except avocado and diced zucchini until smooth. Add avocado and blend again until creamy and emulsified. If you want warm soup, a Vita-mix on high for two minutes will warm it. Or gently warm on the stove over medium low heat. Pour into bowls and top with diced zucchini and optional oil drizzle.
  • Variation: Omit curry and substitute 2 Tbs fresh dill (2 tsp. dry).

Notes

Try these as a topper to add variety and flavor: diced mango, thinly sliced radish, micro greens or sprouts.
Apple berry rhubarb crisp

Apple Berry Rhubarb Crisp for Your Health

I love to welcome summer in with the satisfying flavors of berries and rhubarb.  This Apple berry rhubarb crisp is a quick and easy way to showcase those flavors and enjoy the seasonal harvest. But here’s a side note, when berries ripen and rhubarb matures, I will freeze what I can so I have a stash.  That way, when warm desserts and breakfast options are what I’m craving mid-winter, I have some tucked away and ready so I can enjoy and bake this fruit & berry crisp anytime.

If you grow your own strawberries and rhubarb or have a neighbor who does, this is a great recipe to use when you harvest or as a food gift.  For a special presentation, scoop into glasses and top with a dollop of banana nice cream.

Is this good for you? Absolutely! Berries are on the top of the list when it comes to phytonutrients and along with rhubarb  they posess anthocyanins which are flavonoids that act as antioxidants and show anti-cancer activity. They reduce oxidative stress and help with reducing inflammation which leads to all kinds of disease.

Apples add their own mix of nutrients into the dessert along with iron, protein and fiber found in the oats. I just love the crunch!

The sweetener in the recipe can be substituted with monk fruit or honey. For additional information about swapping sweeteners see this Post.
I do think this is an appropriate breakfast as well as dessert. You could always add a little plant yogurt to it to give it a breakfast feel.  Fruit is beneficial to health so add some to your day to reach the recommended servings, dig in!

Apple Berry Rhubarb Crisp

This tangy sweet dessert with crispy topping is sure to please!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6
Author: Chef Kim

Equipment

  • 8X8 or 7x11 baking pan

Ingredients

Topping

  • 1 ½ cups rolled oats
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter or more coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons gluten free flour
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Filling

  • 2 large apples peeled and sliced
  • 2 stalks rhubarb sliced ¼ in thick
  • 2 cup mixed fresh or frozen berries
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar

Instructions

For the topping:

  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine the oats, flour, walnuts, sugar and cinnamon.
  • Melt the coconut oil and vegan butter and pour over oat mixture stirring to combine.

For the filling:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 9x11 glass baking pan with a bit of coconut oil or spray.
  • Peel and slice apples and add to the pan.
  • Slice the rhubarb and add to the pan
  • Measure and add the mixed berries to the pan.
  • Sprinkle the coconut sugar over the fruit and lightly mix with a spatula.
  • cover the fruit with the oat mixture, pressing down gently to set it in place.
  • Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until fruit is soft and topping is crisp.
  • Serve with banana nice cream and enjoy!

Do We Need To Change the Way We Think About Food?

Food is_______!

How do you fill in the blank? The mantra I hear everywhere is Food is Fuel! Is it just calories and energy? Do you think of it as cultural, personal, shameful, boring, always on your mind, only social, too much work or just necessary for survival?  Everyone has a different relationship with food? And understanding that relationship is necessary if you are not where you want to be and changes are needed for making that relationship a healthy one.

If food is just fuel, it doesn’t matter the quality of food we eat as long as it has the macronutrients: fat, carbs and protein. But I believe food is information or the lack thereof. If you eat whole foods, your food is full of information. However, if you eat processed foods, there is minimal information available.  The information whole foods contain is in the form of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals) and phytonutrients (flavonoids, phenolic acids, stilbenes/lignans) that do so much more than just fuel the body. The more processed the food is however, the fewer of these micronutrients are present. It’s these micronutrients that are so important and enable the body to repair, regenerate, and protect itself. Our bodies were created to protect and heal themselves. The caveat is that certain foods provide specific nutrients that are needed for the body to be able to prevent or reverse disease and protect itself.

I’m reading the book “Eat to Beat Disease”. In it, Dr. Li explains that he has tested food in the same ways drugs are tested for specific actions in the body.  Compounds in certain foods have been tested and found to help specifically with the body’s five defense systems which include: immunity, angiogenesis, the microbiome, regeneration, and DNA protection. Would knowing those foods help you make better decisions about what you choose to eat everyday? I think so. So here’s a couple that Dr. Li has studied and found affective:

  • Immunity: Black tea, Broccoli, Cherries, Arugula, Berries
  • Angiogenesis: Cranberries, Pumpkin seeds, Chia seeds, Bok Choy, Arugula
  • Microbiome: Black beans, Cabbage, Mushrooms, Kiwi, Mangos
  • Regeneration: Apricots, Blueberries, Green tea, Carrots, Kale
  • DNA Protection: Basil, Brazil nuts, Grapefruit, Peaches, Dark chocolate

Many of the foods are beneficial for multiple defenses. In the book, Dr. Li acknowledges that MDs are sorely lacking in nutritional knowledge because they never received courses in nutrition during medical school. If they did it consisted of no more than 19 hours. (Read this book and then pass it on to your family physician.) Many doctors are asked, “What can I eat to help with my condition?” and most don’t know. Many doctors are struggling with their own health because of poor food choices and therefore tell their patients to “eat whatever you want”. That’s what my mother-in-law’s oncologist told her. Worst advice for her. Since then, I have shared what I’ve learned and continue to learn about food and its impact on health. 

My whole purpose of learning about plant-based eating started as a means of prevention for me and my family after losing three family members to cancer within a two year period. Because everyone I know has a story about cancer, whether it’s family or a friend who has had that fight, I knew I needed to share what I found out about the way the body responds to food.

We have so much more power to affect our quality of life than what many people believe. Real food provides our body with the information it needs to defend itself and stay healthy or move in the direction of greater health. We were created with a body that is able to heal itself when given optimal nutrition. So then what is optimal nutrition?

If living a long and healthy life is the goal, then looking at the lifestyle and foods of people who are living long and healthy, upwards of 100 years of age, would be a good place to start. There are five groups of people who have a greater than normal number of centenarians who are healthy and having fun in their old age. These groups are called the Blue Zones and they have been compared to each other and studied to find out what it is they are doing that make such a difference from the norm. The norm being a life expectancy of 79, with multiple medications and health deficiencies including heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The Blue Zones have much reduced incidence of the preventable ‘lifestyle diseases”.

Dan Buettner discovered five places in the world ­– dubbed blue zones – where people live the longest, and are healthiest: Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece, and Loma Linda, California.  He found 9 factors as the lifestyle habits leading to long, healthy life: moderate regular physical activity, life purpose, stress reduction, moderate calorie intake, a plant-based diet, moderate wine intake; engagement in spirituality or religion, engagement in family life, and engagement in social life. To evaluate how you are doing in comparison, check out this test: Live Longer, Better – Blue Zones

The nutritional component we see in the Blue Zones, also backed by clinical research, suggests our mothers were right when they said we should eat our vegetables. In fact, the more vegetables and whole plant foods consumed, the greater your health improves. If fish and meat are consumed, they are eaten as a condiment or used as flavoring in the Blue Zone communities. Very different from how the typical American meal is focused around the meat portion. If we decided to look at food as information and choose forkfuls that would support our body’s defenses and follow mom’s advice, we could change the health landscape of the country. Right now only 1 in 10 get the recommended amount of fruits and veggie servings  day.

As I get older, my health goal is being active and not dealing with chronic disease. It’s empowering to know that I have much influence over whether I age that way or not. My meals are plant based and I add a variety of concentrated whole fruit and vegetable juice powders to ramp up the micronutrient information I’m giving my cells. I think many people believe that we are subject to our genes and family dispositions to certain diseases.  I’ve seen clinical research that tells me otherwise. Look into epigenetics if you want to dive deeper. The Book, “Eat to Beat Disease” is yet another. Choose your health future, don’t wait. 

“If your goal is to extend the number of healthy years you have ahead, your food choices can tip the odds in your favor. “— Dr. William Li, Eat to Beat Disease

Truffles

Valentine Truffles for your Heart

February is Heart Health Month during which Valentine’s Day is celebrated. Too bad Valentine’s Day does not focus on the physical health of your heart. Instead we find the opposite with the rise in blood sugar and inflammation resulting from all the chocolate and candy that is consumed. I don’t want to cancel Valentines, but rather give you a recipe for Valentine Truffles that are good for your heart. These plant based treats are sure to please. However, moderation still applies.

Valentine Truffles are made with:
  • Avocados – a good fat for the body, good source of fiber, vitamin K, C and folate
  • Raw cacao powder – rich in antioxidants and help with inflammation, a good source of iron, protein and magnesium
  • Berries – rich in antioxidants, excellent source of vitamin C, fiber and manganese

The avocado makes a lusciously smooth chocolate filling surrounded by a crispy cacao coating. To add texture stir cacao nibs or chopped nuts into the filling or sprinkle over the coating before it sets.

For another chocolate Valentine treat try these Mocha Energy Love Bites

 

Give these a try and gift your special someone a heart healthy truffle that says you care!

Valentine Truffle

A luscious cacao filling surrounded by a crispy chocolate shell.
Prep Time25 mins
Chill time1 hr
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: avocado, cacao, strawberries
Author: Chef Kim

Equipment

  • blender

Ingredients

For the filling

  • 1/2 cup strawberries or use 1/4 cfreeze dried berry powder
  • 2 avocados
  • 1/4 cup coconut cream solids from a can of full fat coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup raw cacao powder
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 pinches stevia powder or a dropper (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp almond butter, cashew or tahini butter
  • 1/2 tsp coconut aminos or tamari substitute 1/4 tsp sea salt

For the coating

  • 1/3 cup maple syrup, coconut syrup or yacon syrup
  • 1/2 cup cacao powder
  • 1/4 Cup virgin coconut oil
  • 3 Tbsp cacao butter, grated or more coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • berry powder for garnish optional

Instructions

For the filling

  • Add berries to a blender and puree.
  • To the puree, add the avocado, coconut cream and cacao powder and blend well, stopping and scraping down sides when needed.
  • Next, add in the sweeteners, nut butter and aminos or salt. Blend well.
  • Transfer mixture to a small bowl. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Use a small scoop or tablespoon to portion the filling into small dollops on the parchment paper.
  • Place cookie sheet in the freezer while you make the coating.

For the coating

  • Melt the coconut oil and cacao butter in a bowl in a warm oven or over boiling water. Whisk to melt evenly.
  • Add the liquid sweetener you're using along with the cacao powder and vanilla and whisk together until its shiny and smooth.

Assembly

  • Remove filling from the freezer when its firm to the touch.
  • You can dip the filling balls in the cacao coating, and place back on the parchment paper.
  • To garnish each truffle, sprinkle with a pinch of berry powder. This is optional.
  • Or you can drizzle the cacao coating over the filling, chill them to set the coating, turn them over and drizzle again to completely cover them in chocolate.
  • Chill until ready to serve.

Notes

Freeze dried berry powder can be found online at nuts.com or you can crush the freeze dried berries found in packages in the grocery store, usually located by the raisins.