Sunday, February 13, 2011

Dark Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

A fourth dark chocolate post in the same month!?  Other than heart health month and Valentine’s Day what excuse do I have?  None.  I am simply a chocoholic.

This romantic and refreshing dessert makes for a special treat for that special someone.

Ingredients
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips
  • 10 long stem strawberries, rinsed
  • 1/8 cup vanilla almond milk

Preparation
    video
  1. Create your own double broiler using a pot, water and glass bowl.  Simply fill a pot with water and bring to bowl.  Then, place glass bowl on top and fill with the chocolate and almond milk
  2. Stir until melted
  3. Dip each strawberry while holding the stem.  Evenly coat.
  4. Place dipped strawberries on a drying rack on top of a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper
  5. Place in refrigerator for 20-30 minutes until chocolate hardens
  6. Open the bubbly and serve immediately! ;)

Nutty Dark Bark

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching I keep finding excuses to experiment with dark chocolate!  This recipe drenches raw, unsalted heart-healthy nuts in dark, “creamy” chocolate…

Ingredients
  • ¼ cup walnuts (raw, unsalted)
  • ¼ cup cashews (raw, unsalted)
  • ¼ cup almonds (raw, unsalted)
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/8 cup vanilla flavored almond milk (helps make it creamy and adds to the flavor)
Making it happen…

  1. Fill a medium sized pot with water and bring to boil
  2. Place a glass bowl on top of the pot and stir the chocolate and almond milk until creamy and smooth 
  3. Remove glass bowl from pot and stir in nuts until evenly coated
  4. Place mixture in a thin layer on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper 
  5. Chill in fridge for 30-60 minutes until chocolate hardens
  6. Break the bark into pieces naturally and serve
Health Benefits
February is American Heart Month and what better way to celebrate than incorporating a moderate amount of heart healthy raw nuts into your dessert?


Nuts contain heart healthy fats that can help reduce bad cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.  What better way to keep you and your Valentine’s heart pumping? ;)

So lets break it down, nut by nut…

Walnuts…
Contain omega-3 fatty acids which provide cardiovascular protection.  This recipe includes ¼ cup walnuts which contains 90% of your recommended dietary need.  Walnuts actually contain the most amout of heart-healthy fats as compared to all other nuts.

Cashews…
Contain a lower fat content than most other nuts and contain heart-protective monounsaturated fats.

Almonds…
Help you maintain healthy cholesterol levels and an overall healthy heart.  Just one ounce has 13 grams of unsaturated fat and only one gram of saturated fat.  They are of course naturally salt-free and cholesterol free.

Go nuts! ... Meaning go for a variety of nuts. Hazelnuts and pistachios are also heart-healthy and can be substituted or added to this recipe.  Just remember, enjoy nuts in moderation to avoid excess calories.

Special thanks to my mother-in-law, Elise, for the inspiration for this recipe. xoxo

Crock Pot Turkey Chili

Raise your hand if you own a crock-pot… Now I do too!  Took me a while to get on the bandwagon, but thanks to a generous gift from a friend I now am the proud owner of the greatest cooking invention out there!

In this fast-paced world, I’m happy to now take it slow.  It just takes some planning ahead to have an easy dinner ready for you at the end of the day.  Who wouldn’t want to come home to a house that smells like delicious homemade chili?

This lean turkey chili recipe is loaded with vegetables.  And, the slow cooking process makes all the ingredients blend together and maintains a perfect chili texture. 

Serves: 6-8 (make it once and have leftovers for lunch and/or dinner)

Chili Ingredients
1 14 oz can of cannellini beans, rinsed
1.5 lbs ground extra lean turkey, white meat (vegans: can be left out and substituted with 1 14 oz can pinto beans)
2 14 oz cans diced tomatoes (unsalted)
6 oz tomato paste
1 cup yellow bell pepper, diced
1 cup red bell pepper, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 cup Vidalia onion
1 cup chicken stock, unsalted, fat free (optional, for those who like a thinner chili consistency)
½ cup canned pumpkin puree (unsweetened)
1 shallot, diced
3 cloves garlic
2-3 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tsp black pepper

Garnish Ingredients
½ avocado
¼ cup diced red onion
¼ cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese (optional)

How to Cook Slow
  1. Place chili ingredients in the slow cooker in the order they are listed
  2. Stir gently and place on high heat for 4-6 hours or low heat for 10-12 hours (depending on your slow cooker, you may need to adjust the recommended cooking time)
  3. Serve with garnish
Health Benefits
  • Chili is a great vehicle for sneaking in tons of vegetables.  Load it up with the vegetables in your fridge to maximize the veg content.
  • The use of beans and lean turkey ups the protein content of this dish and makes for a hearty meal. 
  • Tip: Stick with unsalted canned ingredients to control the sodium in this dish

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Oatmeal-Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is a healthy spin on the standard homemade cookie.  By substituting butter and oil with applesauce and pumpkin puree these cookies remain moist and decadent.  I have also left off eggs and it somehow does not impact the consistency of the final product. 

Dry Ingredients
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup mini dark chocolate chips
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • ½ cup walnuts (optional)
  • 2 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1 tsp Stevia extract (optional)
Wet Ingredients
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree, unsweetened
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh raspberries
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl
  3. Add wet ingredients and stir
  4. Drop spoonfuls of batter onto sprayed baking sheet (I use canola oil spray)
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes
  6. Let cool on drying rack
  7. Store in airtight container in fridge
Healthy Notes
Using whole grains (like oats and whole wheat flour) ups the fiber content.  And, the cookies are naturally sweetened by the applesauce, raspberries and of course the dark chocolate chips!  The cinnamon and pumpkin spice really brings out the flavor of all these ingredients and ties it all together well!  You can enjoy indulging in these soft cookies knowing that you are eating whole grains, a bit of fruit and 100% nutritional ingredients.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Grilled Dark Chocolate Hearts


Have fun with this decadent Valentine’s dessert! The main ingredient, extra dark chocolate, is good for your health in moderation.

Ingredients
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread
  • 1 tsp dairy free butter (such as Smart Balance)
  • 1 tbsp creamy peanut butter (natural, unsalted)
  • 2, 1oz pieces of thin extra dark chocolate (70% cocoa or more)
  • ¼ cup berries and banana slices for garnish (or for the inside)

Directions
  1. Spread peanut butter inside the sliced bread and place one layer of chocolate on top
  2. Close sandwich and lightly butter the outside
  3. Place on heated, sprayed pan for 3 minutes, flip and heat for another 3 minutes
  4. Once both sides are golden, remove from pan and cut into a heart shape
  5. Serve with berries, bananas and extra chocolate on the side
  6. Serve immediately

Antioxidants… Flavonols…Phytochemicals… Oh, my!
Chocolate boasts all of the above!
Chocolate with high cocoa percentage has been found to have health benefits (the darker the better) including a reduced risk of blood clots and heart disease from the flavonols and phytochemicals…and the antioxidants lower your risk of certain diseases.

Have fun serving this up to your Valentine <3