Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’

Nutrient-Dense Chocolate For Valentine’s Day!

Red HeartThis Valentine’s Day, indulge in a bit of nutrient-dense chocolate. Hailed as a super food as scientists begin to identify all the benefits of the cacao bean, it’s loaded with minerals, vitamins and antioxidants that can help ward off many common lifestyle diseases. The key is consuming the right chocolate – raw, unprocessed cacoa beans or nibs, or at least 70% cocoa dark chocolate. Not your typical candy bar loaded with fat, sugar and other fillers!

Some of the potential benefits of eating chocolate are:

  • Lowering cholesterol levels and relaxing blood pressure
  • Preventing cognitive decline – Scientists at Harvard Medical School suggest that drinking two cups of hot chocolate “can help preserve blood flow in working areas of the brain”. Compounds in chocolate may reduce or block damage to nerve pathways in the brain.
  • Reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems
  • Protecting against type-2 diabetes – due to the high levels of flavonoids in chocolate (also found in tea, berries and wine)
  • Preventing obesity – certain antioxidants in chocolate are said to lower blood sugar levels and possibly prevent weight gain

As most people instinctively realize, chocolate also releases certain feel good chemicals, or endorphins naturally produced by the brain “that generate feelings of pleasure and promote a sense of well being.”

On Valentine’s Day, promote well-being and buy your loved ones some healthy chocolates! And, when you next crave a cup of steaming hot chocolate on a snowy day or a piece of chocolate to boost your mood, go for it. Your body knows what it needs. Just make sure it’s a moderate amount of the right kind. Moderate amount?  That’s not always easy for chocoholics like me!

Watch this short video on the amazing benefits of eating a little chocolate everyday!

Information compiled from: http://www.medicalwellnessassociation.com/, http://www.organicauthority.com/, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Healthier Holiday Baking

 

What’s the holiday season without cookies, cakes, candies and other unhealthy treats!  Baking holiday goodies is part of the tradition, and a perfect family activity. While I totally believe in a little splurging, there are healthy baking substitutes where no one will know the difference.  I’ll skip the tip about substituting black beans and dates in place of chocolate when making brownies!  (However, if it sounds appealing, email me and I’ll send you the recipe – my husband loves them!)

 

Supermoist banana and almond cake.

  • Use coconut oil in all recipes calling for butter, shortening or vegetable oil.   It’s an ideal all-purpose cooking oil and has 100% less cholesterol than butter.   It contains the same medium-chain fatty acids found in mother’s milk essential to optimum health and disease prevention.
  • Olive oil is a good cooking oil too and makes a delicious, guilt-free dessert.
  • Substitute flours made from nuts and healthy whole grains, like almond meal walnut meal or quinoa, considered one of the world’s healthiest foods due to its high nutritive value, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  Nuts are super high in Omega 3’s, the right fats your body and brain needs.
  • For recipes calling for peanut butter, try healthier almond butter instead.
  • For a more nutritious sweetener, use honey, agave, maple syrup, molasses or organic cane sugar instead of refined white sugar.
  • Use almond milk instead of cow’s milk.
  • When baking with chocolate, try chocolate with at least 60% cocoa powder– it’s healthier and rich in cancer-fighting anti-oxidants.  Organic is preferable too!  (Cocoa powder is chocolate pressed free of the fat of cocoa butter.)
  • Moisten cakes and cookies with applesauce, mashed bananas or pureed pumpkin for extra nutrition.  Add nuts, dates, and other dried fruits to your baked goods.
  • Nutrient-rich chia seeds are a good thickener and make a yummy pudding!

Feel a little better indulging this holiday season with some of these baking tips.  Email me your healthy ideas too!  Have fun!

 

Listed below are three simple recipes for healthier holiday treats.

 

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

INGREDIENTS:

2/3 cup regular olive oil, plus more for greasing (don’t use extra virgin)

6 tablespoons good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

1/2 cup boiling water

2 teaspoons best vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups almond meal (flour) or 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

pinch salt

1 cup superfine sugar (or organic can sugar)

eggs

1 X 9-inch springform cake pan

 

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease the pan with a little oil and line the base with parchment paper.

Measure and sift the cocoa powder into a bowl or pitcher and whisk in the boiling water until you have a smooth, chocolaty, just runny, paste. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then set aside to cool a little.

In another smallish bowl, combine the almond meal (or all-purpose flour) with the baking soda and pinch of salt.

Put the sugar, olive oil, and eggs into the bowl of a freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment and beat together vigorously for about 3 minutes, until you have a pale-primrose, aerated, and thickened cream.

Turn the speed down a little and pour in the cocoa mixture, beating as you go, and when all is scraped in, you can slowly tip in the almond meal (or all-purpose flour) mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the sides are set and the very center, on top, still looks slightly damp. A cake tester should come up mainly clean but with a few sticky chocolate crumbs clinging to it.

Let it cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, still in its pan, and then ease the sides of the cake with a small metal spatula and spring it out of the pan. Leave to cool completely or eat while still warm. Delicious with ice cream too!

 

Coconut Cookies

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups grated or shredded coconut, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 1/4 cups coconut oil, 3 eggs, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix together flour, coconut, baking powder, and salt and set aside.  Blend coconut oil, eggs, sugar, and almond extract.  Mix wet and dry ingredients together.  Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.  Flatten balls to about 1/2 inch thickness.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until pale tan. Transfer to wire racks to cool.  Each cookie contains 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil.

 

Date Balls

Simple to make and just as satisfying as a usual holiday cookie, date balls are perfect to bring to a party.  They are a great energizing snack too!

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups raw almonds
6  dates
1 – 3 teaspoons vanilla extract (add 1 tsp at a time until there is a light vanilla flavor)
1/4 cup shredded coconut (optional to roll balls in after; sesame seeds are good too)

DIRECTIONS:

In a food processor outfitted with an “S” blade, or a heavy-duty blender, process almonds until coarsely ground. Add the dates and extract and process until mixture sticks together. Form the mixture into tablespoon size balls and roll in coconut or sesame seeds.

From deliciouslivingnutrition.com.

For more green living tips, go to greenwithbetsy.com.

 

 

 

A QUOTE ABOUT EATING

“To lengthen thy Life, lessen thy Meals.”

Benjamin Franklin

The holiday season doesn’t have to be a time of overindulging on fattening, processed, nutrient-poor foods.  You can serve healthy, organic, delicious and satisfying holiday treats instead.  Here are a few recipes for foods that are actually good for you.

Spicy Carmelized Pecans

From Jane Brody’s Good Food Gourmet

Use this healthful and easy to prepare treat in a salad, as an hors d’oeuvres, for a snack, or a homemade holiday gift.

  • 2 cups pecan halves
  • Water to cover
  • 2 tablespoons butter (or coconut oil)
  • 3 tablespoons organic sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon or more cayenne, to taste

1.  Place the pecans in a large skillet or saucepan with water to cover.  Bring the ingredients just to a simmer over high heat.  Drain the nuts immediately, and set them aside.

2.  Melt the butter in a large skillet.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sugar, salt and cayenne.  Then add the nuts.

3.  Return the pan to medium-high heat and cook the nuts, tossing them constantly with a spatula, until they are a caramel color.  Remove from the pan to a platter, and let them cool in a single layer.  Store the nuts in layers separated  by wax paper.


Swiss Chard, Hummus and Avocado Hors d’oeuvre

I sampled this creative and oh so healthy hors d’oeuvre at Whole Foods the other day, and was pleasantly surprised at how tasty it was.

Smear fresh swiss chard with hummus and add slices of ripe avocado.  Roll us and slice into bite-sized pieces. Simple!

 

Cranberry-Banana Bread

From The Wilson Farm Country Cookbook

Quick breads are just that, as well as nutritious, and make a perfect holiday gift or a delightful addition to a holiday brunch, luncheon or dinner.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.

  • ¼ cup butter or coconut oil, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 1 ¾ cups flour
  • 2 eggs
  •  1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ cup mashed banana (one)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped organic cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup water
  •  ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  •   ½ cup chopped nuts

Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl.  Beat in the eggs with an electric mixer.  Stir in the banana, cranberries, water and vanilla.  Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together and stir them into the batter.  Add the chopped nuts.  Pour into the prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 55 minutes.

Dark Chocolate

Fill your  Christmas stockings or your bon bon dish with dark chocolates – the health benefits  are becoming well known.  Click here to read more.

You can indulge this season with the right foods!  Enjoy!!!