Unrefined Living

maintaining a healthy balance of the mind, body, and plate


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Hot Chocolate with Super Powers

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It’s a cold winter’s night.  As I sit here in my plush cozy robe cuddled by the warm snuggly fireplace, I suddenly crave something….chocolatey.  Trying to stay off dark chocolate for at least a week (good luck), I decided tonight I will make my favorite slightly healthier treat.  HOT COCOA!  And whats hotter than a tall dark and toasty drink by the fire?  A tall dark toasty cocoa drink with super powers of course!  By super powers I mean superfoods 🙂 But fear not people: this hot cocoa is very versatile, meaning you don’t need to fancy it up with the super stuff unless you happen to have some and are in the mood for something different.  It’s still cocoa under all that jazz.  So go light up  your fire place, or turn on your space heater and drink up.

What you will need:

Essentials:

  • 2 cups of almond milk (or sub any milk of choice)
  • 2 Tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1 Tbsp coconut sugar (or raw honey, maple, agave, etc..)

Superfood stuff (optional):

  • 1-2 tsp maca powder
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla (or scraped vanilla bean)
  • 1 tsp lucuma powder
  • pinch of ginger
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of cayenne (for added spice)
  • dash of sea salt
  • 1 tsp unrefined coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp soaked chia seeds (if using chia then be sure to blend prior to heating)

Heat milk in saucepan over medium heat.  Be careful not to boil milk, the result will not be fun… Remove from heat and whisk in cacao and coconut sugar, along with desired ingredients.  Feel free to toss in a blender for some added foam.

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Sauce

Peanut Butter and Chocolate…together….in a sauce?  Yes please!  This makes for a rich and simple topping for dessert, or in my case breakfast.  My favorite is on top of a big fat bowl (jar) of banana ice cream.  I think I’ve died and gone to heaven!  And it’s healty—er, I swear!
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Heat the following ingredients either in the microwave for 30 seconds, or over medium heat until completely melted:

  • 1 Tbsp all natural creamy peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp unrefined coconut oil

Then add the following to heated mixture and stir until smooth and well combined:

  • 1 Tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup (or raw honey/agave)
  • optional: a drop of vanilla extract

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Chocolately Cranberry and Ginger Spiced Granola

So, you might say I have a slight infatuation with granola.  I do.  I admit it.  But, it’s so yummy and fun to make I can’t help myself.  It also gives me a valid excuse to make a smoothie or nana ice cream so I can top it with my granola.  Not that I ever needed an excuse before…

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Anyway, I made this batch for the holidays and I am just now getting around to talking about it.  It’s been such a busy holiday season.  I am not even sure where the holidays went, or 2014 for that matter.  Oh, before I forget, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

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Ok, ok, back to baking.  If you haven’t tried making your own granola yet, then put this on your 2015 to do list.  You probably won’t buy store brands after learning how easy and tasty (and healthy) making your own can be.  Unfortunate for Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s 😉

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I adapted my recipe from Cookie and Kate, hope you enjoy as much as I do.  And quick side note, feel free to increase the chocolate sauce measurements…if you are a chocoholic!

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 What you will need:
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup buckwheat groats
  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 3/4 cup pecans
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 molasses
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder (plus 1 tbsp more for thicker sauce)
  • 1/3 maple syrup
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 chopped dried cranberries
  • 1 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
  • (Optional) carob or chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat.  In a large bowl combine oats, nuts, salt, cinnamon, and ginger, and mix well.  Add in molasses.

Heat coconut oil in double boiler or microwave until melted (microwave is about 30 seconds on high).  Add raw cacao (or cocoa) powder, maple syrup, and vanilla to create a chocolatey sauce.  Pour chocolate sauce into bowl with other ingredients and mix well.

Spread granola mix evenly onto baking sheet and bake for about 10-15 minutes checking once to make sure edges aren’t burning.  The granola may need a nudge.  Then add the coconut and cranberries and bake for another 7-10 minutes, again keeping an eye on it to prevent from burning.  Remove from oven and let cool completely.  If the center seems slightly wet it’s ok, it will continue to cook as it cools, and it should get crunchier.  You might also like to add some carob or chocolate chips to your granola.  Chocolate makes everything better!

Store in an air tight container (mason jars work well), and will last for a few weeks.

Enjoy granola as a yogurt topping, or add to banana ice creamsmoothies, or smoothie bowls.  You might also enjoy adding granola to a bowl of warm milk as a warm cereal alternative.  Or just eat straight from the jar!


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Cashew Truffles

Do you ever have a severe snack craving?  I am sure you do.  Maybe salty, maybe sweet, but you don’t want to waste your energy eating something processed or store bought and unsatisfying?   Well thats what I love so much about making these little energizing treats.  First of all, despite the title “cashew” truffles, the truth is you can make these with any nut you have on hand.  I chose cashews because I prefer their smooth sweet taste, but I’ve made these with other raw nuts and they are just as tasty!  Not to mention, you can eat a bunch and instead of guilt, feel like you are snacking with a purpose (assuming you don’t eat them all in 5 minutes).  And, its fun to experiment. So, let’s get to it….
What you will need:

  • 1/3 c unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/3 c raw cashews (also tossed in a tablespoon of mixed raw nuts because I wanted to use them up)
  • 6-7 pitted medjool dates
  • 1 tsp vanilla protein powder (I used SpiruTein)
  • 3 Tbsp cacao powder (raw unsweetened)
  • 2 Tbsp water  (more if too dry)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of pink himalayan sea salt (regular sea salt will do)
  • hemp seeds )option for sprinkling on top)

 

Combine coconut, cashews (and/or any other nuts you have), and dates in food processor or Vitamix and blend until it becomes a fine mix, a few nutty chunks are ok.  Add in protein and cacao powder and blend again. Add the water one tbsp at a time using your judgement to decide if it’s too moist or dry. Adjust as necessary.  Add the vanilla extract and sea salt.  Layer the bottom of a small bowl with shredded coconut. Make small quarter sized balls and roll into shredded coconut and set on a plate or tray. Refrigerate until ready to serve. If you are in a hurry like I was, freeze for about 20 minutes then stuff your face and enjoy 🙂

 

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Mocha Iced Frappucinno (healthier version)

 

IMG_0956Have you ever had an iced frappucinno at Starbucks or any coffee shop?  Well, as tasty as it might be, it is most likely loaded with GMO’s, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavoring and sweeteners, and antibiotic injected milk. Not to mention extremely high in calories!  Actually, incase you haven’t heard, Starbucks is a big supporter of Monsanto.  If you are a Starbucks addict, you might be interested in learning more about this issue before you make your next purchase.

Even though I have always opted for a plain old basic coffee shop cup of joe, I have enjoyed the occassional fancy high calorie drinks from time to time.  And I won’t lie, they are so good, and often leave me feeling so bad!  And although I successfully gave up coffee last year, I do still crave the flavor some days. Which is what led me to find an easy healthier version I can make at home, and it’s way cheaper!  I even think this version tastes better.  But who knows, maybe thats my healthier taste buds talking!  Anyway….if you like fancy coffee then you should try this.  I swear it’s not hard and you probably have most of the ingredients needed.  I add a frozen banana to mine to create a smooth creamy ice cream like texture, but you can omit that if you don’t love bananas like I do.  You know how I feel about ba-nana ice cream.  Enough chit chat, let’s get started!

What you will need:

  • 1 1/2 c almond/coconut milk (or your choice of healthy milk)
  • 2 tsp instant coffee (I use decaf, organic when possible)
  • 1 Tbsp. raw cacao powder (omit if you don’t like “mocha” and just want it plain)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut sugar (can substitute with agave, pure maple, honey, stevia, etc)
  • 1/5 frozen banana (not necessary but gives ice cream-like creaminess)
  • Dash of sea salt
  • 5-7 ice cubes

Blend everything together in high speed blender until smooth.  I find that this comes out better when I heat a few tablespoons of water and mix the instant coffee/espresso first then add that to the blender with the rest of the ingredients.  Either way, the result is still delicious!  Sprinkle with cinnamon and guzzle.  Be careful of the brain freeze!

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Chocolate Cherry Smoothie

 

 

IMG_1005I am loving smoothies lately.  I used be a juicer, and I still am.  But recently my needs have changed and I crave thicker denser beverages.  Not to say this won’t change again soon, but for now I am addicted to chocolate smoothies.  Who wouldn’t be?  It’s chocolate for crying out loud!  And I love that I have the liberty of adding whatever the heck I want.  I always make sure to add veggies and protein so I can justify replacing a meal or snack with something chocolatey.  It’s a win win!!!

 

What you will need:

  • 6 frozen cherries
  • 2 frozen bananas
  • Handful spinach or kale
  • 1 C water/coconut water/milk
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. cacao powder
  • 1 scoop protein powder (optional)
  • 4-5 ice cubes (optional)

Add everything to high speed blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!


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Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

This summer is our first summer having a garden.  I am definitely not the one who maintains it, I tend to inadvertently kill all living things that aren’t people (i.e. plants and bugs).  Anyway, our zucchinis are insanely huge.  If I didn’t know better, I would think they are fed steroids.  But I can assure you that’s not the case, they are totally organic!!!

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So what to do with a bunch of overgrown greens?  Make healthy desserts…duh!  I am addicted to zucchini bread, zucchini pasta, zucchini muffins, zucchini tots, zucchini fritters (tonight’s experiment)…..pretty much zucchini everything!  I follow a recipe for zucchini bread that I love, and will post soon.  However, this go ’round I tried something different.  I thought muffins would be easier to transport and maybe, just maybe, I will stop at one muffin as opposed to eating half-a-loaf!  I must say, these muffins are pretty darn good, and pretty darn simple.

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What you will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini (remove excess water)*
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup nut butter (I mixed sunflower seed, almond, and peanut butters)
  • 1/3 cup sweetener such as [raw] honey, maple, agave, coconut sugar (I used honey)
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup walnuts (or any other nut, or omit)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • dash of salt

Preheat oven 375 degrees. In a large bowl mix ingredients, adding the chocolate chips and walnuts last.  Line muffin pan with cupcake liners (or spray pan, but I don’t enjoy fighting to get my muffins out!)  Fill 2/3 of each liner with mixture.  I overfilled mine and got 11 muffins.  Bake for 18-25 minutes using toothpick to test when they are ready.  It really depends on your oven, I tend to under bake because I like mine moist 🙂  Cool for a few minutes and either enjoy plain, or top with homemade chocolate sauce.

I don’t usually do this, but this time I removed the excess water from the zucchini by wrapping in a clean towel and ringing it out well.*

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Homemade Chocolate Ganache

If you are a chocolate lover (like me) and have unpredictable….well, ok maybe totally predictable….cravings and don’t want to eat the bad stuff, then you must have a few essentials on hand at all times.  Coconut oil (unrefined, preferably organic), raw cacao powder (unsweetened dutch processed will do but not as healthy), high quality dark chocolate chips (so no Hersheys!!), pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean, raw honey/pure maple/agave (agave being the least healthy of the three), and sea salt (so trash the regular table salt and ONLY ever use sea salt).

For this particular recipe, I didn’t actually use my cacao powder, just the dark chocolate chips.  However, you can use the powder, you will have to slightly modify the rest of the ingredients.

What you need:

  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of sea salt

Melt the chips and coconut oil by either using a double boiler or microwave (30 second intervals stirring in between).  Stir well until mixture is creamy.  Then add in vanilla and sea salt.  Mix again and let sit for about 10 minutes to cool.  Try not to frost your treats (whatever they my be) until everything is cooled, otherwise you will have a drippy sloppy (yummy) mess!!!

Last time I made this I used it on zucchini muffins (notice the drippy drip!!).

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Coconut Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal

Hello, my name is Michelle, and I am an oatmeal addict.  My addiction started about 5 years ago after I was ‘diagnosed’ with high cholesterol (eek!).  It was the very first major change I made to my daily routine. And since then oatmeal has been my breakfast of choice, with the exception of vacation badness and some healthier experimental pancake trials.  It wasn’t until recently (thank you Instagram) that I’ve begun to venture off into the world of unknown healthier breakfast creations.   But that being said, I still love and crave oatmeal every morning.  And while my oatmeal used to consist of the basics (plain oats, cinnamon, water, fruit, and nuts), I have gotten more creative with it over the past year or so, and I have to credit Chocolate Covered Katie for most of my inspired combos.  Sometimes it takes for someone else to demonstrate that it’s ok to live on the edge, venture outside of your comfort zone.  And let me tell you….chocolate in my breakfast was definitely living on the edge!   Did I mention I am also a chocolate addict?  So you see, this is a danger zone for me.  But it’s ok, I have it under control now.  I swear…..ish….!

So getting back to the reason for this post.  Three things I love: chocolate, coconut, and oatmeal. Baked so it’s like one big cookie.  Soft and gooey on the inside, brown and crispy on the outside.  Oh my!  If you have 20 minutes to spare (perhaps on your day off) and you love these three things too, then this is a must try.  Katie calls it coconut cookie dough oatmeal.  Indeed it is.  I made a few modifications and this breakfast bake is a WIN in our house.  Thanks Katie!

What you will need:

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (less if you are not used to large bowls of oatmeal)Made with Repix (http://repix.it)
  • 1/2 mashed ripe banana
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 nut milk (or water, coconut water, regular milk…organic of course)
  • 1 tbsp coconut butter (melted or room temp if your house is warm)
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (I can assure you I used more than this amount)
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut (and a few to sprinkle on top)
  • 1-2 tsp coconut sugar (or natural sweetener of choice)

More options

  • 1 tsp ground flax (to mix in or sprinkle on top…or both)
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp sliced almonds for topping
  • 1/4 tsp coconut extract
  • dash of sea salt

Preheat oven to 380 degrees.  {I use my toasted oven and bake it closer to 400 degrees, watching it to make sure it won’t burn}  Combine ingredients well using a fork (I swear it mixes better).  Pour into small glass oven-proof bowl or pan.  I like to lightly grease the bottom of my bowl with oil so it’s not a pain to clean later.  Add a few extra chips on top and bake for about 20 minutes or more depending on preference.  Turn your oven to broil for about 5 more minutes to get a crispier top layer.  Top with almonds, milk, and whatever else your little heart desires.  Enjoy!

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)


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Easy Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie

Pressed for time and want something sweet, healthy, and satisfying?  This smoothie is so delightful and takes minutes to make.  And chances are you have most of these ingredients already!

For this blend I like to use strawberries as my sweetener, besides being juicy and sweet, they are packed with nutritional benefits.  Strawberries are known to promote cardiovascular health, help to lower blood sugar levels, contain antioxidants, fiber (great for constipation), aid in decreasing inflammation (which can also fight against certain types of cancer), and also help to keep you hydrated.  (To list a few).   If you are a fan of strawberries, my suggestion is to freeze your fresh strawberries after cutting the stems off.  You can also chop them and freeze them.  They have a fresher flavor than store bought frozen berries because there aren’t any preservatives or additives.

What you will need:

  • 2 cups unsweetened almond/coconut milkphoto_3-12
  • 1 frozen banana (peeled before freezing)
  • 3 large frozen organic strawberries (or 1/4 cup sliced)
  • 1 large tablespoon all natural peanut butter
  • 1-2 tbs raw cacao powder (depending on how chocolatey you are feeling)

Optional:

  • handful of fresh organic baby spinach
  • 1 tsp ground flax
  • 1 tsp maca powder
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • fresh/frozen berries for garnish

Add ingredients to blender and blend until smooth.  Garnish with raspberries or cacao nibs.  Smile and enjoy!