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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Purple Vegetables: So Hot Right Now

Hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgivings! Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays, but it’s not so kind to our waistlines. In fact, according the Calorie Control Council, the average turkey dinner (plus appetizers) clocks in around 4,500 calories — yowza!

Well, the good news is that you can have your fall-themed foods and eat them too. With greens like kale and Swiss chard in season, along with other Cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage, to name a few) and potatoes galore, fall vegetables can pack a major nutrition punch and can help you get back on track. Who says the holidays have to be entirely gluttonous? Enter, purple vegetables.

purple_potato

Seriously — look at these purple sweet potatoes! Such a gorgeous color!

I’ve been reading Jo Robinson’s book, Eating on the Wild Side: the Missing Link to Optimum Health, wherein she discusses the history of our favorite fruits and vegetables along with the most nutritious varieties found in stores/farmers markets and the best nutrient-sparing ways to prepare them. Through her book, I’ve learned that many of our favorite vegetables started out purple — corn, potatoes, carrots and many others. Most purple vegetables get their color from anthocyanins, a type of polyphenol (antioxidant), that may aid in cancer prevention and improve heart health, among other benefits. Thus, the original [purple] varieties of vegetables were often more nutritious.

It’s safe to say that since reading the book, I’ve been searching for purple or other “odd”- colored vegetables — orange cauliflower, purple kale and of course, purple potatoes. So you can imagine my excitement when I came across purple sweet potatoes at Whole Foods (seriously, it was embarrassing — people were staring). But check these things out (!):

purple_sweet_potato

Purple potatoes are the most gorgeous, jewel-tone shade of purple. While the USDA does not provide nutrition information for this variety, according to Stokes Foods, purple sweet potatoes contain 4 grams fiber per 4 oz (medium-size potato), along with 2 g protein and 20 percent daily value of vitamin C (making them an excellent source of the vitamin). They are so delicious, with a creamy, dense texture, that all you really need to do with them is bake them, add a little grass-fed butter or coconut oil and sprinkle with cinnamon. They would also be wonderful roasted with other vegetables such as cauliflower and carrots, with fresh rosemary.

Another, more common purple vegetable to which I’ve taken a fancy is purple (technically red, but it looks purple to me) cabbage. Purple cabbage is — you guessed it — a source of anthocyanins. It also provides vitamins A, C and K, fiber and potassium, all for minimal calories (less than 25 calories for a cup of shredded red cabbage). Nutritionally, it’s a star. However, many people are turned off by it’s bitterness. So, when preparing cabbage, you may need to give it a little extra lovin.

While raw purple cabbage is delicious when shredded and used in an Asian-style slaw recipe, I prefer cooked cabbage during the colder months. I have a Portuguese friend, Joana, who makes the most delicious purple cabbage by sauteeing it in olive oil with salt, pepper and onions (until it’s soft). While I love this method and use it all the time, I wanted to try something new. Since my answer for how to make vegetables crave-worthy is generally, “roast them,” this seemed like the perfect fit for cabbage.

roasted_cabbage

I washed the purple cabbage and cut it into wedges, drizzled with olive oil and roasted it at 375 for about one hour. Then I cracked fresh pepper over the top, along with Himalayan sea salt. It was ridiculously good. Nicely charred on top and bottom, but warm and soft on the inside. The best part was the bottom leaves, which had essentially been oven-fried in the olive oil that had coated the bottom of the pan. Naturally, I ate them all immediately. Look at that crunchy goodness!

cabbage_leaf

Have you discovered any purple vegetables? Let me know your favorite varieties and preparations in the comment section.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken Stuffed with Dates and Goat Cheese

Yes, prosciutto and chicken on Good Friday…I never claimed to be a good Catholic. This recipe was inspired by a recent dinner at State in Chicago. On Fridays, every menu item is $5.99! Plus they have 100 beers on tap (or close to it). Naturally, my boyfriend Dan and I are pretty obsessed (even though it’s a total DePaul/college bar). He ordered their Stuffed Chicken
(marinated chicken breast, applewood smoked bacon, Medjool dates, goat cheese, organic grain rice, seasonal vegetables, spicy plum sauce). It was [obviously] delicious – I mean bacon and goat cheese! How could it not be delicious?

I am eternally searching for new chicken recipes, so the idea of stuffing a chicken breast got me thinking. And this entree included many of my favorite flavors. So, here’s my take on State’s entree. It’s lower in fat and calories because I used WAY less oil than State uses. Plus, thinly sliced prosciutto is lighter (and fancier) than bacon. Enjoy!

Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken Stuffed with Dates and Goat Cheese

Goat_Cheese_Date_Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 thin slices prosciutto (about 4 oz)
  • 1 (6 oz) log goat cheese
  • 6 dates, finely chopped
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat olive oil for one minute in medium-sized pan. Add minced shallots and saute for 3-5 minutes, until shallots are trasnparent. In bowl, combine shallots, goat cheese and chopped dates.

Using a sharp knife, cut a one inch slit (horizontally) into the thick side of each chicken breast. Use your fingers to loosen the slit. Stuff 1/4 of the cheese/date/shallot mixture into each chicken breast. Wrap each chicken breast with one slice of prosciutto (be careful handling the prosciutto…it’s very delicate). Sprinkle with pepper and bake in preheated oven about 40 minutes, or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees.

 

I served mine with sweet potato “hash” (cubed sweet potato sauteed with olive oil, garlic and smoked paprika) and kale chips (a favorite).