Healthy Homemade Dark Chocolate

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I have to thank my friend Lissa Rankin for inspiring this one. We had dinner at her house and she served us the most amazing chocolate for dessert. She is an amazing cook that doesn’t really follow recipes so I asked her for the ingredients and went to town discovering how to make it on my own. The important thing in this recipe is the cacao butter as it allows the chocolate to be solid at room temperature. I like to make a batch and just keep it in the freezer and nibble on it if and when I want a piece because while it is better than recipes that only use coconut oils (for texture), it will still get your hands a little dirty :)… 

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Raw Cacao Truffles

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Who doesn’t love a little dark chocolate indulgence??? A group of coworkers and I were getting together after the completion of the Conscious Cleanse (thanks CC for the recipe!), so I brought these as a celebratory treat. The recipe makes quite a few truffles so I ended up freezing the leftovers and I pull one out when I want a little chocolate fix. They are oh-so decadent and delicious!

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Best Vegan Cookies EVER!

Best Vegan Cookies

Our friends Alissa and Drew had us over for dinner not too long ago and sent us home with some cookies. My ears perked up when Alissa told me that they were gluten free, dairy free and free of any added sugar. And then my taste buds certainly perked up when I bit into one! Not only are these the best vegan/gluten free cookies I have ever tasted, they are some of the best cookies I’ve ever tasted, period! I don’t see any reason to ever make another chocolate chip cookie… this one is healthier than most and is oh-so good. I’ve made them about 4 times since she had us over a month ago :)…. 

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The Best of 2012

I think these best of post’s are such a good reminder of all the goodness we have enjoyed over the year. It’s been a wonderful and healthy 2012 and I look forward to the many delicious bites we will take in 2013! Happy New Year 🙂

January: Spanakopita with Cucumber and Yogurt Sauce

February: Homemade Heart Shaped Granola Bars

March: Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad

April: Easter Deviled Eggs

May: Dilled Green Beans

June: Baked Sweet Potato Fries

July: Corn, Cherry Tomato and Asparagus Salad

August: Vegan Lettuce Wraps

September: Apple, Walnut, and Endive Salad

October: Mushroom Risotto

November: Tofu, Peanut Butter and Roasted Tomato Panzanella

December: Strawberry Santas

Strawberry Santas

Strawberry SantasA big thank you to my friend Amy for passing this one along to me. She loves my Straw-boo-ries as much as I do so she knew I would go crazy over Strawberry Santas.  I made these for my holiday party last weekend and they were such a hit they were gone before all of my guests even arrived. Given the fact that strawberries are not in season, do your best to find some good quality strawberries and just work with what you can find. These little crowd pleasers are also quite yummy.

Strawberry Santas
 
Cook time
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Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 lb large strawberries
  • 1 (8oz) package of cream cheese
  • 3-4 Tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Black Sesame seeds, to decorate
Instructions
  1. Rinse strawberries and cut around the top of the strawberry. Remove the top, (enough for a hat). Prep all of the strawberries and set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla until creamy. Add cream cheese mix to a piping bag or Ziploc with the corner snipped off. Top the strawberries with cheese mixture.
  3. Once strawberries have cheese mixture on top, add the hats and decorate according to photo.
  4. If not serving immediately, refrigerate until serving.

Photo Credit: Savvy Housekeeping

Oatmeal Raisin Muffins with Cinnamon Crumble

Oatmeal Raisin Muffins

I have a really hard time showing up somewhere without bringing something. Generally, I like to bring something consumable and my go-to is some fun olive oil. When I went to bed Saturday night, my go-to sounded like a fine idea. But when I woke up Sunday morning my mind changed. Some good friends had offered to take us up to Napa for a day of wine tasting at their friend’s winery…. Mondays can be hard in general but the only thing harder than a normal Monday is a Monday after a day of wine tasting! So on Sunday morning my inner voice was screaming “You MUST bake something!” Luckily, I came across this great and super easy recipe and had all the ingredients on hand so I baked the muffins in no time and I think everyone was a little happier Monday morning as a result of it :). This recipe is easily made vegan as it calls for olive oil in place of butter and I don’t even have regular milk in the house so just used almond milk instead! By the way, if you are ever in the Napa Valley you have got to check out Fontanella Family Winery – they are such kind and generous people with amazing wines!

Oatmeal Raisin Muffins with Cinnamon Crumble
 
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Serves: 12 muffins
Ingredients
  • Muffins
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (or sub for any variation of gluten free flour)
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Egg replacer (or 1 egg, beaten)
  • 1 cup almond milk (or regular milk)
  • Cinnamon Topping
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 425°F. Grease a muffin pan, or line the wells with paper muffin cups.
  2. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Stir in the oats and raisins.
  3. In a large measuring cup, whisk the olive oil with the egg replacer/egg and milk. Stir the liquid into the dry ingredients just until combined. Fill the prepared muffin cups ⅔ full with the batter.
  4. Mix all the ingredients for the cinnamon topping together in a small bowl until crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over the muffin batter.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan on a rack until they are cool enough to be handled. Remove from the pan and eat while warm, or let cool completely and then store in an airtight container.

Serving Suggestion: Serve with preserves of your choice. You can also use cranberries in place of raisins.

Watermelon with Feta and Mint

Watermelon with Feta and MintI am just returning from Turkey and there is no real way to describe how amazing the food was! I will be attempting some recipes in the future… But for now, one of the things that really caught my attention is that they often serve melon with cheese before and/or after a meal. It is incredibly simple and very refreshing, especially in the summer months.Also, I have always loved eating fruit with a fork and knife! I added my own touch by putting mint into the equation, so I hope you enjoy this refreshing summer treat.  You’ll definitely be seeing some other renditions of the fruit + cheese combination in the future.

Watermelon with Feta and Mint
 
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Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 3 cups chilled watermelon, sliced
  • 3 oz feta cheese, sliced
  • Mint leaves
  • Lime (optional)
Instructions
  1. Layer watermelon and cheese on a plate.
  2. Top with mint leaves and top with a squeeze of lime juice if using.

Photo Credit: Prevention.com

The Best of 2011

It’s hard to believe FLB has been going strong for a year. Below is a year in review of the best recipes of 2011! It’s been a great year and here’s looking forward to an even better and healthier 2012! Happy New Year to you all.

January: Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

February: Cilantro and Lemon Flax Vinaigrette

March: Warm Garbanzo and Quinoa Salad

April: Vegetable and White Bean Stew

May: Sesame Crusted Tofu Stir Fry

June: The Cookie-less Cookie

July: Raw Zucchini Pasta

August: The Ultimate Veggie Burger

September: Pea and Mint Dip

October: Baked Kale Chips

November: Harvest Bread

December: Brussels Sprout Salad

Harvest Bread

Harvest BreadA big congrats to my friend Stephanie for starting a blog! Check it out here. And a big thanks to her for sharing this yummy fall recipe! It is loaded with extra goodness like chia and flax seeds. Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Harvest Bread
 
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Serves: 10-12
Ingredients
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter or vegan substitute, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs or egg substitute
  • 1½ cup flour (I used ¾ Pamela’s multi-purpose gluten-free flour and ¾ buckwheat)
  • ¼ cup ground flax seeds
  • 3 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • ¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In one bowl cream together butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time and beat well.
  3. In a separate bowl mix together all dry ingredients well. Add pumpkin and flour mixture alternatively to creamed butter mixture. Fold in chocolate chips.
  4. Pour into a greased 9 by 5 inch pan. Bake for 55-75 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.