Chocolate Coconut Sweet Potato Muffins {Paleo, Gluten-Free}

Sorry for the lull in posting, everyone. We recently moved and, as I’m sure you can all appreciate, it sucked up a lot of my time. Now that we’re more settled, you can look forward to many delicious recipes and informative blog posts to come. And the coming recipes will have a theme…

SWEET POTATOES!

After getting 10 pounds (no joke) of sweet potatoes from my CSA, I have been dreaming up many different sweet potato recipes — both savory and sweet.

As an inaugural recipe, I thought some sweet potato muffins would do the trick (and set the bar high for a series of delicious sweet potato dishes).

These sweet potato muffins are amped-up with coconut and chocolate chips. In case you didn’t know, chocolate chips make any baked good better. This is especially true when you’re trying to lighten up a recipe. A little pinch of chocolate chips goes a long way, my friends.

coconut_chocolate_sweet_potato_muffins

These muffins are inspired by this month’s Recipe ReDux theme:

Creative Quick Breads: The holiday baking season is upon us. And this month we’re going way beyond grandma’s banana bread. From sweet to savory and whole-grain to gluten-free, show us your new quick bread creation fresh from the oven.

For those that are paleo, gluten-free, grain-free or trying to cut down on sugar, these muffins are for you. They are made mostly from a variety of coconut products (oil, flour and shredded coconut), plus sweet potatoes, eggs, maple syrup and seasoning. Literally — that’s it. Oh, and chocolate obviously.

So with the colder/snowy weather (at least in Chicago) here, it’s time to get your baking on!

chocolate_sweet_potato_muffins

Chocolate Coconut Sweet Potato Muffins

These muffins are perfect as a better-for-you-dessert, or for a breakfast treat, pair one of these with a protein shake. They are grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo and contain very little sugar. Enjoy!

Yields 12 muffins.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato, cooked (baked or microwaved) and peeled
  • 3/4 cup coconut flour
  • 3/4 cup virgin coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mash cooked and peeled sweet potato in a large bowl.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients EXCEPT for chocolate chips and mix well.
  4. Add paper liners to muffin tin (or grease). Then, add 1/3 cup scoop to each muffin tin. Top each muffin with 1 Tbsp. chocolate chips. Then press chocolate chips into tops of muffins.
  5. Bake for 25-50 minutes, or until tops of muffins bounce back.

paleo_sweet_potato_muffins

Quick breads make a great gift — who doesn’t love a delicious, “Baked With Love” present? To see more delicious quick breads, whether you want them all to yourself or you’re willing to share with loved ones, check out the link below.

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Fall Flavors Series: Kale and Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

Happy Fall, y’all! With fall comes brisker weather — which as someone who is always warm, I quite enjoy — along with delicious foods. Pumpkin, anyone? See also: Brussels sprouts, squash in all shapes and sizes, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, etc.

I recently prepared a multi-course vegan meal for a group of wonderful women. A couple of friends came up with the idea for an event, GATHER: Your Mat, Our Table. The event included an hour-long rooftop yoga class and then a delicious vegan meal prepared by yours truly using almost completely local ingredients. Here’s the menu lineup (and credit to the farms that supplied the goods, AKA the veggies):

Lacinato kale,  cinnamon-roasted butternut squash and pomegranate salad with candied pecans and a fig-balsamic dressing

Roasted Brussels sprouts with orange zest and toasted hazelnuts

Purple and sweet potato fritters with spiced apple sauce

Butternut squash and lentil curry over coconut-lime cauliflower “rice”

Caramel apple bar

*Lacinato kale, purple and sweet potatoes from Green Acres Indiana Farm; Butternut squash, red onions, red peppers, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts from Geneva Lakes Produce; Apples from K & K Farms*

This was my farmer’s market haul for the event:

fall_vegetabls_in_season

Many of the awesome ladies at the event were asking for recipes, so I figured I would do a series of posts. I want to first highlight my personal favorite dish of the night (and one of the easiest to make!): a roasted butternut squash and kale salad.

I’m all about color and texture in my recipes, and this one really offers it all. Crispy kale, the “pop” of pomegranate, the smooth, creamy texture of roasted butternut squash plus candied pecans on the side to add sweetness and crunch.

Drizzle it with a super-simple Mission fig balsamic vinaigrette and you’ve got a major crowd favorite.

fall_salad

Fall Kale, Butternut Squash and Pomegranate Salad

This salad is vegan but to add a little more protein, try topping with grilled chicken, salmon or to keep it vegan/vegetarian and up the protein, add some lentils or chick peas to the mix.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 bunches lacinato (AKA dinosaur) kale, preferably organic, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil plus 3 Tbsp. olive oil, preferably cold-pressed
  • 1 large pomegranate
  • 8 oz. pecan halves
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp. fig balsamic (you can find at specialty grocery stores or olive oil/vinegar shops) Substitute balsamic vinegar if you can’t find fig balsamic 
  • 1 tsp. maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cut the ends off of the butternut squash then cut in quarters. Scoop out the seeds. Using a sharp knife, cut the peel off, then dice into 1/2″ cubes.
  3. Toss diced butternut squash and red onion with coconut oil, cinnamon and sea salt. Spread on a baking sheet and roast for 25-30 minutes, or until desired level of char (I like mine really charred).
  4. While squash and onions are roasting, add kale to a large bowl and drizzle with 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Using hands, massage oil into the kale. This will take out some of the bitterness and make the kale a better texture. Put the massaged kale in the fridge to marinate while you prep everything else.
  5. To remove the seeds from the pomegranate, roll the pomegranate gently around on the table (before cutting into it). You will hear and feel the seeds loosening. Then, cut the pomegranate in quarters and scoop out the seeds. Keep seeds refrigerated.
  6. Add 2 tsp. coconut oil to a pan and heat for 1 minute, then add pecans, 1 Tbsp. maple syrup and 1/2 tsp cinnamon to pan and toast, stirring frequently, for about 5-7 minutes.
  7. Using a whisk, mix vinegar, 3 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 tsp. maple syrup.
  8. On top of “massaged” kale, add pomegranate seeds, roasted butternut squash/onions and candied pecans. Drizzle with dressing.

Stay tuned for more fall recipes coming your way. And while I’m not generally a “vegan” cook, these recipes have mass appeal and include REAL foods that anyone can get behind. Hope you enjoy!

Spiced Beef Stew {Recipe ReDux}

When the weather cools down, there’s nothing I love more than stew. Okay, maybe I love pumpkin more, but I digress.

Not only is stew fool-proof, but it allows for creativity. Have carrots? Peppers? Onions? Eggplant? Great! Now throw in some meat and seasoning and you’re good. You can change up the protein or vegetables or spices and create a completely new and delicious stew.

The true beauty of stew, though, is the leftovers! Make a big batch and freeze the leftovers in individual containers for a quick meal when you get home late from work or just don’t feel like cooking.

The whole make-extra-and-freeze-for-later principle was the theme for this month’s Recipe ReDux:

Fantastic Freezer Meals:

Share your tips and tricks for making one – or more freezer meals. It’s the end of the gardening season for some of us; let’s store away that produce in heat-and-eat-from-the-freezer-meals. Show how convenient healthy freezer breakfast, lunches or dinners can be!

My freezer meal is the aforementioned stew, but with a spiced Moroccan twist.

The key ingredient here is grass-fed beef, which provides a rich, slightly gamey taste that I absolutely adore. Look for 100% grass-fed beef because it, along with all 100% grass-fed meats, contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is the plant form of omega-3 fatty acids. In other words, grass-fed meat has a healthier fat source, not to mention it means the animal had a happier, freer life.

lamb chili

Spiced Beef Stew

Top this stew with a little quinoa or some sauteed potatoes and you’ve got a hearty, filling meal. Make a big batch of the quinoa/potatoes and you’ve got another side ready to go for later eating. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil (virgin)
  • 1.5 lb. grass-fed beef cubes (such as sirloin)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 10 carrots, sliced
  • 1 small eggplant, cubed
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes, preferably no salt added
  • 2 tsp. curry powder
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. cardamom

Directions:

  1. Heat coconut oil in a large pot. Add onions and saute for 2-3 minutes, then add beef. Saute beef for 5 minutes, making sure to sear all sides of the beef cubes.
  2. Add remaining ingredients, and bring to a boil, then simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until carrots and eggplant are tender.

For more amazing freezer meals, check out the link below! 

Zesty Heirloom Tomato Taco Salad {Sponsored Recipe ReDux}

One of the best parts of summer is the amazing produce that’s available in Chicago — especially fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes (or fresh-from-the-CSA in my case).

Top those tomatoes with deliciousness in the form of taco-seasoned lean ground beef (plus some other goodies), and you’ve got a light summer meal.

heirloom_tomato_taco_salad

By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by The Beef Checkoff and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Now, I am not a chicken breast all day, every day kind of girl. I love beef, whether it’s a perfectly-grilled steak, juicy burger, tacos, meatballs or meatloaf, beef frequents my table.

Beyond the delicious flavor of beef, it’s got loads of nutrition. First off, let’s talk protein. A 3-ounce serving of lean beef provides 25 grams of protein and 10 essential nutrients.

Emerging research indicates that evenly distributing daily protein intake at meals and snacks throughout the day (~20 to 30g/eating occasion) may potentially contribute to benefits for body weight management and appetite control.

On a related note, protein-packed foods — like beef — promote satiety which can help cut down on mindless eating. I’ve found that my clients who eat more high-quality protein and fats are better able to cut down on sweets and snacking throughout the day.

I especially love grass-fed beef, as it contains a better fat ratio (more conjugated linoleic acids, which function similar to omega-3s). You can find great grass-fed options at most grocery stores and your local farmers market.

To find out more about grass-fed and grain-fed beef, check out the Beef Checkoff’s infographic.

zesty_heirloom_tomato_taco_salad

The Beef Checkoff program also offers a great interactive Butcher Counter where you can learn all about the cuts of beef, including which options are considered lean.

Zesty Heirloom Tomato Taco Salad

Salads don’t have to be made with greens! Top fresh tomatoes with all the toppings for a nice, light dinner. Heirloom tomatoes are super-delicious here, but cherry or regular tomatoes would also work great.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef (90% or better), preferably grass-fed
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 4 tomatoes, preferably locally-grown (because they taste soooo much better)
  • 1 avocado, washed, peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 1 green onion, sliced (white and green parts)
  • 1 Tbsp. each lemon and lime zest
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • Plain Greek yogurt (optional)

Directions:

  1. Add lean beef to medium skillet and sprinkle with cumin, ground pepper and chili powder. Saute until cooked through.
  2. While beef is cooking, wash and core tomatoes, then cut into 8 wedges. Prepare avocado, green onions, lemon and lime zest and cut lime into 4 wedges.
  3. Lay tomatoes onto four separate plates, then sprinkle cooked ground beef over tomatoes, and garnish with avocados, green onions and zest. Sprinkle with sea salt and squeeze a lime over each serving. Add a few dollops of optional plain Greek yogurt if desired.

zesty_tomato_taco_salad

For more awesome lean beef recipes, check out the link below! 

Mediterranean Shepherd’s Pie {Recipe ReDux}

When I say PIE, you say…

Shepherd’s Pie (??)

To be honest, I’ve never actually had Shepherd’s Pie until today, but when the ladies of Recipe ReDux tasked us with showing our “Pie Love,” I wanted to go savory. And that’s where Shepherd’s Pie comes in.

I have been taking more of a paleo approach to my eating as of late, and eating more healthy fats and less carbohydrates. Most importantly, though, I’ve been trying to cut sugary foods out of my diet. At one point in my life, I was very addicted to sugar, and felt that I had to have dessert after every meal, with my snacks and really any time I could get my hands on sweets. While I still like sweeter foods, I’ve been working to cut junk out of my diet and eat real foods — e.g. fruit instead of cookies and donuts. I found that when I stopped eating a low fat/high carb diet and learned to embrace healthy fats, my sugar cravings naturally improved.

Thus, this is less of a traditional “pie” and more of a meal that you can eat time and time again, switching up the protein, seasoning, or mash (in this case, an amazing sweet potato-parsnip mash that is delicious in its own right).

mediterranean_shepherds_pie

Mediterranean Shepherd’s Pie (Gluten-Free, Paleo)

Grass-fed lamb adds a delicious flavor, and is pure perfection when combined with the natural sweetness of raisins and the freshness of mint, then topped with a delicious sweet potato-parsnip mash. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 3 parsnips
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, preferably cold-pressed, unfiltered
  • 2 Tbsp. grass-fed butter, such as Kerrygold
  • 3/4 cup beef stock
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil, preferably cold-pressed, unfiltered
  • 2 lbs. grass-fed lamb
  • 1 white or yellow onion, diced
  • 3/4 cup canned tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash sweet potato and parsnips well and cut into ~1/2″ cubes. Toss with 1/4 cup olive oil, and roast (I roasted mine in a cast iron skillet) for 35-40 minutes, or until tender.
  2. Add roasted sweet potato and parsnips to a food processor, add butter (it should melt from the heat of the roasted vegetables) and process 2-3 minutes. Add beef stock and seasoning (cumin, rosemary, sea salt and black pepper) and process until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Turn oven down to 350 degrees.
  4. In an oven-safe skillet, such as a cast iron skillet, add 1 Tbsp. olive oil and heat for 1 minute. Add diced onion and saute for 3-5 minutes. Add the lamb and saute until the cooked through. Add in the canned tomatoes and raisins and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture begins to thicken.
  5. Turn the heat off, and stir in the mint. Level out the lamb mixture.
  6. Spread the sweet potato-parsnip mash in a thin layer over the lamb, making sure the mash reaches the sides of the skillet. If desired, use a fork to make a design or write a message in the mash. Sprinkle the green onions around the outside of the skillet and press them into the mash slightly.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top starts to brown.

paleo_shepherds_pie

This is a great dish to make when you’re having company (a set and forget kind of thing) or as a part of meal prep, for a satisfying dish that will last you the whole week! Serve with green veggies, such as sauteed green beans or spinach, and you have yourself a complete meal!

For more PIE LOVE, click the link below!

Toasted Coconut Cashew Butter {Recipe ReDux}

Wow! I can’t believe it’s already May 21. That means t-minus one week until yours truly’s birthday AND it’s Recipe ReDux time! This month we were tasked with showcasing kitchen staples that we now make from scratch – but in the past purchased.

For me, that’s got to be nut butters. Ever since discovering how easy it was to make nut butter thanks to my Homemade Nutella recipe from a previous Recipe ReDux, I’ve been making a new type of nut butter weekly.

And I literally have to make a new jar weekly. The boyfriend likes to eat massive spoonfuls straight out of the jar, so we go through nut butters pretty quickly in our household. [I also eat it straight from the jar but in much smaller, daintier bites.]

coconut_cashew_butter

After making some bomb almond butter (#nerd) and delicious peanut butter, it was time for the big dog: CASHEW BUTTER.

This started out as one-ingredient cashew butter, but as the butter was “churning” in my food processor, the evil genius in me came out and I felt compelled to elevate the butta’ with, what else but unsweetened shredded coconut. Because coconut is delicious and full of healthy fat (yes, saturated fats can be healthy too). And because I’ve been wanting coconut in everything lately.

Whatever you do, please, pleeaasseee don’t be intimidated by “homemade nut butter” — it’s super-easy and while it takes about 10 minutes to get all dreamy and creamy, it only takes about 2 minutes of hands-on time and the flavor combinations are endless. Add some cinnamon, smoked sea salt, ginger or go savory with paprika, curry or rosemary. This is your nut butter party and you’ll add what you want to.

Toasted Coconut Cashew Butter

This really is amazing straight out of the jar, but is also fantastic drizzled over Greek yogurt, as a dip for fruit (pears are especially delicious) or as part of the most insane-good cashew butter and jelly sandwich known to man.

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz. raw, unsalted cashews
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp. sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lay cashews on a baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes, or until fragrant. toasted_coconut_cashew_butter
  2. Let cashews cool for about 15 minutes (or longer) — they get hot in the food processor so the cooler they are, the better.
  3. Add to food processor and process for about 10 minutes, or until it forms a creamy butter. See stages of nut butter chart below.
  4. Once cashews form a creamy butter, add coconut and sea salt and process another 2-3 minutes.

stages_nut_butter

STAGES OF NUT BUTTER

  1. Intact Nuts
  2. Nut Meal/Flour
  3. Giant blob of nut butter (it helps to smash this apart a couple times)
  4. Creamy, dreamy nut butter

Check out more amazing homemade creations from the talented Recipe ReDuxers by clicking the icon below. Enjoy!

Goat Cheese, Dried Plum and Rosemary-Stuffed Chicken Thighs with Sautéed Hazelnut Vegetables

By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by California Dried Plum Board and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Happy May, everyone! May is a beautiful month — flowers blooming, temperatures heating up, my birthday…(#justsayin).

Before the weather gets too warm to use the oven, I have been trying to cram in all the delicious roasted meats and vegetables I can. And delicious they are.

Stuffed chicken is always tasty, but for whatever reason, I find myself making my stand-by of baked chicken with BBQ or teriyaki sauce most of the time. Maybe stuffed chicken, meat, etc. just seems more complicated (even though it’s not), which also makes it look all-the-more impressive when you do break out a recipe like this one.

goat cheese_dried plum_rosemary_chicken

I owe the inspiration for this recipe to the California Dried Plum Board, who tasked us Recipe ReDuxers with developing creative ways to use dried plums — formerly known as prunes — in everyday cooking.

Besides May being my birth month, it’s also National Osteoporosis Month, something that we all should care about. I think so many times, we forget about bone health, but it is so crucial to health, especially as we age. Strength training and other weight-bearing activities can have a huge positive impact on bone health, not to mention overall health. Food is also important — and not just dairy! Enter, dried plums.

Emerging research shows that eating dried plums may have positive effects on bone health. Previous studies discovered that eating 100 grams (two servings; about 8- 10 dried plums) of dried plums for one year was associated with increased bone mineral density (BMD) and improved indices of bone turnover in postmenopausal women. Another study indicated that one serving of dried plums may be as effective in preventing bone loss in older, osteopenic postmenopausal women. You can read more about dried plums and bone health here.

BUT, as well all know, if we don’t enjoy the food being recommended, then we probably won’t eat it.

Fortunately, this is not a concern with dried plums, because they are DELICIOUS and super-verstile in the kitchen. I prefer to use mine in a savory way, as seen here.

I’ve also been trying to cut down on and eventually eliminate added sugars from my diet, so I was thrilled to know that dried plums can be pureed and used as a replacement for refined sugar in recipes. Dried plums are naturally sweet but not as cloyingly sweet as straight sugar, which is a major win in my book. No need for uber-sweet desserts here, folks.

goat cheese_dried plum_chicken

Goat Cheese, Dried Plum and Rosemary-Stuffed Chicken Thighs with Sautéed Hazelnut Vegetables

You can choose to make just the chicken and pair it with another side, but the combination of the vegetables with hazelnuts and this chicken is scrumptious. Feel free to change up the vegetables used if you’d like — sautéed kale and other greens would pair also pair nicely.

Ingredients:

Stuffed Chicken

  • 1.5 lb. boneless, skinless, chicken thighs, pounded
  • 3/4 cup California Dried Plums, puréed or finely mashed
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. dried rosemary
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt

Vegetable/Hazelnut Sauté

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil, preferably cold-pressed
  • 2 cups spinach or other leafy green
  • 1/2 white onion, sliced
  • 2 cups carrots, thinly sliced into ribbons (you can also use a peeler to get this effect)
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lay hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes, until fragrant. Set aside to cool.
  2. Using a fork, mash California Dried Plums, goat cheese and rosemary together. Lay pounded chicken thighs on a baking sheet and evenly distribute goat cheese and dried plum mixture onto half of chicken thigh. Fold the other half of the chicken thigh over the mixture. If this sounds confusing, imagine the filling as a hot dog and the chicken as the bun.
  3. Brush the stuffed chicken with 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. sea salt. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the chicken reaches a temperature of 165 degrees. About 30 minutes in, brush with remaining balsamic vinegar.
  4. Meanwhile, while the chicken is baking, heat olive oil in a large skillet for 1-2 minutes, then add onions and saute for 2-3 minutes. Next, add the carrots and saute about 10 minutes, or until desired doneness. Add in the spinach and cook for 1-2 minutes, until just wilted. Turn stove off then add balsamic vinegar and sea salt and toss.
  5. Chop cooled toasted hazelnuts. Sprinkle over vegetables.

To see more ways in which Recipe ReDuxers use naturally sweet, convenient and nutrient-dense California Dried Plums, check out the link below.

Homemade Nutella {Recipe ReDux}

It doesn’t have to be Valentine’s Day for me to want chocolate.

In fact, every day is a chocolate day. Just like I need coffee every morning, I enjoy a square of dark chocolate every night. It goes really well with the red wine that I drink every night, but that’s a different blog post. [insert red wine emoji here]

clean nutella

Even though Valentine’s Day has passed, that doesn’t mean I can’t be smitten with the ladies behind Recipe ReDux. They clearly know the way to my heart with this month’s theme — CHOCOLATE!

Favorite Chocolate Matches
Does your chocolate need a friend? This month’s posting will be after Valentine’s Day, so you may have a bit of extra chocolate around. What’s your favorite chocolate match? Be it traditional peanut butter or something more exotic like cayenne + chocolate. Show us your favorite healthy chocolate combo recipe.

I do love cinnamon + chocolate + cayenne à la Mexican Hot Chocolate and will gobble up pretty much anything with chocolate and peanut butter.

homemade nutella

But once Nutella comes into the picture, ALL BETS ARE OFF.

Nutella is like candy, though. In fact, the first — AKA main — ingredient in brand-name Nutella is sugar, then palm oil.

nutella_ingredients

No thanks.

I’ve been wanting to make my own Nutella using REAL ingredients, and this seemed like a sign from the gods that now was the time.

This Chocolate Hazelnut spread’s number one ingredient is………..

DSCN0707

HAZELNUTS! Then comes chocolate. Who would guess that the first two ingredients in a chocolate-hazelnut spread are hazelnuts and chocolate?

Well, now you can feel a little better about smothering this stuff on everything — or just eating straight, which is my preferred method of ingestion. This “Nutella” contains only 7 ingredients, is a clean recipe, contains only 2 Tbsp. of maple syrup as a sweetener and is super-chocolately thanks to 72% dark chocolate.

Homemade Nutella {paleo, gluten-free}

You’ll think that the hazelnut “powder” will never turn into a smooth, dreamy hazelnut butter, but have patience young grasshopper and stand and watch as it slowly becomes smoother and creamier.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups hazelnuts
  • 3.5 oz. dark chocolate (70% or higher is best)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (the one in the carton, not the can)
  • 1/4 cup dutch cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup (or more if you want it a little sweeter)
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Toast hazelnuts for 10-15 minutes, until they are fragrant and start to look toasty.
  2. Wet a large cloth and pour toasted hazelnuts on top of the cloth. Fold the cloth over and keep rubbing until most of the hazelnut skins have come off (don’t worry if you feel like there’s still a lot on — I did too and my Nutella still turned out super smooth and creamy)
  3. Add toasted, skinned hazelnuts to food processer and process for about 10 minutes, until “butter” forms.DSCN0709
  4. While hazelnut butter is forming, melt dark chocolate in the microwave.
  5. Add melted dark chocolate and remaining ingredients and process until well-blended.

DSCN0710

Enjoy with bananas, apple slices or straight out of the jar. I’m not a big bread-eater, but if that’s your thing, this would be delicious spread on toasted bread.

paleo nutella

For more chocolatey deliciousness, follow the link below.

Five-Minute Cilantro Lime Pesto {Vegan}

My memories of pesto go back to being a kid, when my mom grew basil in the herb garden and would make big batches of amazing pesto throughout the summer. Have you ever frozen extra pesto (or any sauce for that matter) in ice cube trays? My mom would do this and it’s brilliant — you can just pop out a cube anytime you need some pesto in your life.

Which is often.

vegan_cilantro_lime_pesto

Since getting the best gift ever — AKA my food processor — I have been known to make pesto out of any and everything. So, when I had some leftover cilantro from these Southwestern Sweet Potato Romaine Wraps with Cabot Pepper Jack Cheese, I made the obvious decision.

The only problem was that I didn’t have enough left to make full-blown cilantro pesto. Then I realized I had baby spinach in the fridge, and I could use it to extend the cilantro. And life was good again.

SIDE NOTE: I always have a giant box of organic spinach (I use Earthbound Organic) in my fridge and I recommend you do the same. I add it to eggs, use it as a salad base, add it to smoothies, soups and stir-fries, and more. It’s a great way to amp up the nutrition of your food and I find that the spinach in the plastic “boxes” stays fresh much longer than the kind packaged in bags.

Admittedly, this pesto was made to be a topper to a Coconut Curry Butternut Squash & Beet Soup that I’ll be posting later this week — I know, such a tease — but it is seriously delicious and can stand completely on it’s own. As in, I’ve been eating pesto by the spoonful. I’m not ashamed, though. You totally would do it too.

Vegan Cilantro Lime Pesto

Mix this in with eggs, add vinegar and serve as a dressing, use as a dip for veggies, eat it plain OR drizzle it over the Coconut Curry Butternut Squash & Beet Soup recipe I’ll be posting in a few days.

cilanro_lime_pesto_vegan

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 3 cups fresh spinach (such as Earthbound Organic)
  • 3/4 cup walnuts (raw or roasted, whatever you fancy)
  • 1/3 cup grapeseed or olive oil
  • Juice of 1 1/2 limes
  • 2 tsp. lime zest (about 1/2 a lime worth)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. lemon peper (or ground black pepper)

vegan_cilantro_pesto_lime

Directions:

  1. Wash cilantro and remove last 2″ of the stems (you can keep some of the stems on — they’ll all get ground up anyway)
  2. Add cilantro and remaining ingredients to a food processor. Process until smooth.

vegan_cilantro_lime_pesto

This Thursday, I’ll be posting the most perfect, six-ingredient vegan soup recipe that is even better when topped with Cilantro Lime Pesto. Get ready, kids.

Avocado, Apple and Cabbage “Green” Slaw

Happy Labor Day, y’all! (I am not from the south and really should never use the term, “y’all” but it seemed necessary here).

If your Labor Day is going to see some BBQ action, make sure there are some healthy options available. This slaw is both creamy from the avocado and tart from the sour apple. It’s the perfect complement to meat or other grilled proteins. 

If you can’t find sour apples — mine were from my local farmers market — you can most definitely use tart green apples.

apple_avocado_slaw

Avocado, Apple and Cabbage Slaw

This recipe is perfect with meat, chicken or fish. The apples add a nice tartness that cuts through any fattiness of meat.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 head green or red cabbage
  • 1 fresh, ripe avocado
  • 1 sour apple, julienne-style (or use a green apple)
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar, such as Bragg’s
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Directions:

  1. Peel, seed and mash avocado
  2. Roughly chop cabbage (should be thin strands)
  3. Mix cabbage with mashed avocado, julienned apple, vinegar, lemon juice and salt. 

Happy grilling!

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