Homemade Chocolate Almond Butter Cups

I’m officially well into my new life of “funemployment,” and the first recipe I’m going to share is nothing short of a celebration. That’s right folks, it’s chocolate time. You may have noticed an increase in references to #sibo on the old IG account lately, but in case you haven’t, I’ve had a recent, unfortunate diagnosis of SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth), which has rendered my food choices quite limited as of late. (I could use this space to rant about the medical insurance racket and how insanely long it’s taking me to get the antibiotic I need, but I’ll spare you the details.) One of the interesting things about the SIBO diet is that you can have raw honey and certain fruits, but no other sugar whatsoever. I’ll get more into SIBO in a separate post, but I just couldn’t wait to share this recipe.

Because I am absolutely addicted to chocolate, and because most store-bought chocolates are not sweetened with honey, I’ve taken matters into my own hands. Join me for the next few minutes on my chocolate making adventure, and then venture out on your own chocolate journey and let me know how it goes!

I’ve tried a few different things so far, but the one I’m most excited to share is the Almond Butter Cups. Like most things on CWB, this is simply a chocolate roadmap with one example of how it could end. You have the power to make your chocolate dreams come true — I’m just here to help. 🙂 

chocolate almond butter cups

Recipe Lab: Refrigerator Chocolate

You might recall that I experimented with some freezer chocolate back at Christmastime. (Side note, I just realized this was TWO Christmases ago — 2016 was the fastest year of my life, by FAR. Anyone else feel me on this?) Anyway, in the spirit of homemade holiday gifts and attempting to include some healthy sweets in our holiday celebrations, I made Paleo-ish Peppermint Bark. The main ingredients were coconut oil, raw cacao powder, and maple syrup. It turned out great, but it absolutely HAD to stay in the freezer or it would become a big melty mess. And since I can’t include my favorite sweetener for the time being (maple syrup), I’m moving forward from here with raw honey. 

To avoid the melty mess this time, I decided to experiment with raw cacao butter to achieve a more stable finished product. And guess what … it was the right choice. I have successfully upgraded my chocolate-making skills from freezer chocolate to refrigerator chocolate!

Is this chocolate raw?

The ingredients in my refrigerator chocolate are raw, but I did melt everything on the stove. I read a bit about raw chocolate and learned that the hottest temps allowable for raw chocolate to remain raw are between 118 and 120F. I didn’t use a double boiler or check the temperature, but I’d imagine that if you did those things and kept the temps in range, you could make exactly what I made and be able to call it raw chocolate.

The Chocolate Journey

Since my main chocolate-making experience was in making the peppermint bark for the holidays, I decided to stick to that in round one of my chocolatey adventure. More bark. But instead of going for the peppermint variety, I kept it simple, sprinkling raw cacao nibs and pumpkin seeds on top and calling it a day. It turned out pretty great actually.

homemade chocolate barkRound 2: Almond Butter Cups

In round 2, I decided to get more creative. I’d bought a few silicone molds a while back, and most of them had just been collecting dust in my cabinet. The only ones I’d used were these adorable little hearts when I experimented with homemade lotion bars (I think it was also that crafty Christmas back in 2015). So I pulled out the mold that looked like peanut butter cups and went to work on my version of almond butter cups. This was a delicious decision and turned out to be the inspiration for today’s post.

chocolate almond butter cups

The Almond Butter Cup Filling

The filling consists of equal parts raw almond butter to raw honey, stirred aggressively with a fork. Very simple and delicious. In my first attempt at almond butter cups, I used about a dime-sized ball of filling, which made for a high chocolate-to-filling ratio. They were delicious, but I knew I wanted more almond butter in every bite. I went to work again, this time using these really cute flower molds that were much deeper (so they could fit more filling). 

chocolate almond butter cups

chocolate almond butter cups

I love how these turned out, but as you might see from the pictures, some of the filling snuck out of the sides, so they aren’t quite perfect to look at. Considering that they taste amazing, and that I’m a novice at this whole chocolate-making endeavor, I’m still giving myself an A for effort and believe that I’ve earned bragging rights as a wannabe chocolatier. (I’m sure real chocolatiers are rolling their eyes at this simpleton, but I do what I want.)

What will I come up with next?

Also featured in one of these pictures are my first attempts at a “peppermint patty.” I didn’t love how they turned out, so I’m going to go back to the drawing board before I share that recipe with you. I already have an idea of how I’ll improve these for the next round. I’m also going to try my hand at an “Almond Joy”-style bite-size morsel. So stay tuned for both of those. And if you decide that you want to beat me to the punch in figuring those two out, please be my guest and let me know about it! I’d be happy to share your version with everyone!

Chocolate Almond Butter Cups (Sweetened with Honey)
Chocolate prepared with all raw ingredients, sweetened with raw honey for those with food restrictions (especially those related to SIBO)
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup coconut oil
  2. 1/3 cup raw cacao butter (or 5 cubes of the Big Tree Farms brand)
  3. 3/4 cup raw raw cacao powder
  4. 2 tbs raw honey
  5. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  6. pinch of salt
  7. OPTIONAL: raw maca powder
  8. OPTIONAL: raw cacao nibs and coarse sea salt for topping
  9. FOR THE FILLING: If using shallow, buttercup-like molds, 2 tbs raw honey + 2 tbs raw almond butter. If using deeper molds, 3 tbs raw honey + 3 tbs raw almond butter (I used creamy)
Instructions
  1. in a small saucepan, melt the raw cacao butter on very low heat (optional to use a double boiler to avoid scorching)
  2. once it starts to become liquid, add in the coconut oil
  3. turn off the fire when both oils are fully liquified
  4. whisk in raw cacao powder, raw honey, vanilla, salt, and maca until the chocolate liquid is completely uniform
  5. place your mold onto a rigid surface (like a cutting board or cookie sheet) for easy transport
  6. pour a thin layer of chocolate into the bottom of each mold
  7. freeze for 10 minutes
  8. immediately thoroughly mix the honey and almond butter in a small mixing bowl and freeze for the remaining few minutes until it's time to take out the chocolate
  9. remove the molds and filling from the freezer
  10. using a small spoon and clean fingers, form a ball of filling to place inside each mold (for shallower molds, you want a dime-size ball. For the deeper molds, about a silver dollar-size ball.)
  11. once you've distributed the filling, give the remaining chocolate a good stir with the whisk before spooning out the rest of it to fill the molds
  12. If your filling is visible, use a spoon to gently press it down and hide it under the chocolate
  13. (Optional to sprinkle the nib and sea salt toppings at this time)
  14. freeze for another 20 minutes (or overnight)
  15. pop your chocolates out of their molds and store in a non-porous covered container in the refrigerator
Notes
  1. You can use this same chocolate recipe without the filling to make chocolate bark, chocolate bars, or even dipping chocolate.
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

FTC DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. All opinions are my own.

Homemade Gift Ideas: Paleo(ish) Peppermint Bark

And, as promised, I’m sharing this absolutely delicious, rich, Paleo(ish) Peppermint Bark today. I say “ish” because there are candy canes in it. And candy canes, as far as I can tell, do not fall into the paleo diet. This recipe, however, is worth the minor cheat (if you’re a strict paleo eater, which I’m not), as the vast majority of what you’ll be biting into is pure, healthy, whole food decadence. I think you’ll love it. Everyone I’ve shared it with so far loves it, and I’ll be giving away 5 more boxes of it this afternoon. Crossing my fingers that it will be as big a hit today as it has been this last week.

As for packaging and decorating, I found these cute little glass boxes at a Japanese store called DAISO (it’s kind of like a dollar store) for $1.50 each. They’re microwave safe glass containers, and of course I busted out the paint pens again to make them festive for the season. You really can make awesome gifts on the cheap if you know where to look! And the contents inside are far from skimpy — believe me, this is a sweet, rich treat!

homemade paleo peppermint bark

For more ideas on homemade gifts for the holidays, check out my homemade flourless rum balls, my homemade garlic herb salt, my homemade foot scrub, and my homemade lotion bars and hand salve. You’ll love them all! And just in time — one weekend left to get it all done guys!

Special Chocolate Care

I’ll be honest, this chocolate is somewhat high-maintenance. It needs to stay in the fridge or freezer, because coconut oil, while mostly solid at room temperature, is in no way hard like chocolate should be at room temperature. And coconut oil is the main ingredient. In chocolate you buy at the store, cacao butter is the main ingredient, and while using cacao butter was originally part of my plan (I have a big block if it at home and everything!), I chickened out on using it when I read that the temperature had to be monitored more closely during the heating and cooling process than it did with the coconut oil (read: SHORT CUT) chocolate that I ended up making. I’m fine with the special needs of this chocolate. It forces me to pick a piece and walk away from the refrigerator, which is a good thing for me when it comes to peppermint bark (it’s one of my favorite holiday things!).

But I do plan to experiment with the cacao butter after the holidays when I have more time for trial and error. This way, I can figure it out and perfect it in time to make a shelf-stable version next year. Then again, Christmas isn’t the only time for chocolate eating, so maybe chocolate-making will become a regular thing for me. After all, I am stocking up on silicone molds. My next chocolate project to tackle will be some sort of nut butter chocolate. I haven’t quite worked out how I want to do it, but the wheels are turning, so I’ll keep you posted!

Paleo(ish) Peppermint Bark

homemade paleo peppermint bark homemade gift idea

Paleo(ish) Peppermint Bark
This is my take on the traditional peppermint bark. There's no white chocolate in this one, but that's ok. It's an almost-paleo treat that you can feel good about indulging in!
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Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup organic unsweetened cocoa powder or raw cacao powder (CWB Favorite Pick)
  2. 1 cup organic extra virgin coconut oil (CWB Favorite Pick)
  3. 8 tbs pure maple syrup
  4. 2 tsp vanilla extract
  5. 3 tsp peppermint oil (CWB Favorite Pick)
  6. 4 standard candy canes
Instructions
  1. Melt coconut oil on the stove in a saucepan until completely melted
  2. Add in the cocoa/cacao and stir or whisk until it's fully mixed into a homogeneous liquid
  3. Turn off the heat and add the other three ingredients
  4. Pour about 1/4 inch thick into a cookie sheet or a silicone tray like this one
  5. On a non-breakable surface, unwrap the candy canes and crush them. (I used the bottom of a thick glass cup and crushed them on a cutting board) You can decide how big you want the pieces to be
  6. Place the tray in the refrigerator for at least one hour
  7. When the bark is completely solid, remove tray from the refrigerator
  8. If using a hard, non-pliable cookie sheet, turn the tray upside down on a cutting board and bang on the back of it to release the bark. You might need to use a thin spatula to get underneath it to release it
  9. If using a silicone tray, simply peel it back and either break or cut the pieces as desired
  10. Store in the fridge or freezer
Adapted from AllRecipes
Adapted from AllRecipes
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

FTC DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links (CWB Favorite Picks), which means I may receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. All opinions are my own.

 

Pecan Pie Two Ways: Maple Bourbon and Chocolate [RECIPE]

This Thanksgiving, we’re heading out to Smith Rock in Oregon for a Friendsgiving. We’ll be staying in a house in Bend and enjoying our turkey dinner with some of our closest climbing compadres. I love this time of year — in case I haven’t said it 100 times before, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love the tradition, the food, the family, the friends.

A Tradition of Gratitude

Last year, after we enjoyed our potluck Thanksgiving meal, we started what I’m hoping will become a new tradition among friends. We picked one person at a time and each of us said what we were grateful for about that person — our favorite thing about them and why. And then we all jumped in the hot tub on a cold desert night. It was beautiful. Unfortunately this year’s destination doesn’t include the hot tub, but I’m crossing my fingers we’ll share our gratitude together again. 

A Tradition of Pecan Pie

One thing’s for sure. I’ll be bringing not one but TWO pecan pies this year. One maple bourbon pecan pie, and one chocolate pecan pie. Pecan pie is my absolute favorite holiday dessert. It reminds me of home, and especially of my grandmother who passed away a couple of years back. She used to make the best pecan pie ever. My pecan pies are all grain- and gluten-free, and they work great for those with lactose or casein allergies, because I use ghee instead of butter. The crusts are made with almond flour.

gluten free grain free maple bourbon pecan pie

In the course of doing this blog, I’ve learned that as I improve and perfect recipes over time, it never hurts to share the improvements, even if I’ve already posted a recipe here at CWB. If you’re a CWB veteran who’s been with me since the beginning, you know that I posted a chocolate pecan pie recipe waaaaaay back in the first month of this blog’s existence. But I’ve improved upon that recipe — I’m sharing both versions of my favorite holiday dessert with you today. Get excited. They’re delicious.

Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie

Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie
Yields 1
pecan pie is my absolute favorite fall/winter/holiday dessert. add bourbon, and you've stolen my heart.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
For the crust
  1. 2.5 cups almond flour
  2. 1 egg
  3. 2 tbs palm shortening (CWB Favorite Pick)
  4. 1 tbs bourbon (I used Bullet)
  5. pinch of salt
For the filling
  1. 3 large eggs
  2. 1 cup maple syrup (I use grade B)
  3. 4 tbs ghee (CWB Favorite Pick)
  4. 1 tbs bourbon
  5. 2 tsp vanilla
  6. 1/4 tsp salt
  7. 1 1/4 cups pecans
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350
For the crust
  1. Place all ingredients into a food processor and process until a ball of dough forms and all ingredients are incorporated
  2. Shape in a pie dish by hand and place pie crust in the freezer while you prepare the filling
For the filling
  1. Using a hand mixer or immersion blender, combine the first 7 ingredients, mixing until all ingredients are completely incorporated and you have a uniform liquid (you want all the sugar to dissolve into the liquid and the ghee to be mixed in completely)
  2. Stir in pecans
  3. Remove crust from the freezer and pour in the filling
  4. Cut a pie-sized circle out of a piece of foil or use one of these and place on the exposed crust to protect it from burning
  5. Bake for 30 minutes
  6. Allow to cool before slicing and serving
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/
glutenfree grain free maple bourbon pecan pie and chocolate pecan pie

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Chocolate Pecan Pie
This recipe is an improvement upon an old favorite from way back at the birth of this blog. It takes the traditional (albiet gluten- and grain-free) pecan pie and adds dark chocolate chips for a rich, delicious experience.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
For the crust
  1. 2 cups almond flour
  2. 1 egg
  3. 2 tbs palm shortening (CWB Favorite Pick)
  4. pinch of salt
For the filling
  1. 3 large eggs
  2. 1 cup maple syrup (I use grade B)
  3. 4 tbs ghee (CWB Favorite Pick)
  4. 2 tsp vanilla
  5. 1/4 tsp salt
  6. 1 1/4 cup pecan halves
  7. 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (CWB Favorite Pick)
For the crust
  1. Place all ingredients into a food processor and process until a ball of dough forms and all ingredients are incorporated
  2. Shape in a pie dish by hand and place pie crust in the freezer while you prepare the filling
For the filling
  1. Using a hand mixer or immersion blender, combine the first 6 ingredients, mixing until all ingredients are completely incorporated and you have a uniform liquid (you want all the sugar to dissolve into the liquid and the ghee to be mixed in completely)
  2. Stir in pecans
  3. Remove crust from the freezer and pour in the filling
  4. Evenly sprinkle chocolate chips into the filling
  5. Cut a pie-sized circle out of a piece of foil or use one of these and place on the exposed crust to protect it from burning
  6. Bake for 30 minutes
  7. Allow to cool before slicing and serving
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/
 gluten free grain free maple bourbon pecan pie


FTC DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links (CWB Favorite Picks), which means I may receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. All opinions are my own.

Flashback: Love Muffins (Almond Flour Muffins [RECIPE])

It’s been a couple of months since I did a “flashback” post, so for those of you who haven’t read the previous ones, I’ll quickly explain. Flashback posts are blasts from the pasts — recipes, experiences, time travel from before my blogging days. I post these stories from time to time, usually because they hold some sort of juicy morsel worth sharing with the world. They often involve a special experience in my life, and today’s flashback recipe is no exception — it’s a love story in fact!

Today, we’re transported back in time to spring of 2011, when these little yummies were introduced to me for the very first time…

Loren had just proposed marriage atop Indian Rock in Berkeley. The following morning, my lovely friend Colleen called to ask if we’d planned to go to the farmers’ market (which took place halfway between our respective homes). I said yes (to both questions!), and she asked if she could meet us there.

Upon seeing Loren and me, she held out a plastic freezer bag filled with beautiful home-baked almond flour muffins and yelled, “CONGRATULATIONS, LOVE MUFFINS!!” A huge fan of cheesiness with a healthy appreciation for pun, I laughed and gave her a big hug, just before sampling a muffin on the spot. Pure gloriousness! I couldn’t wait to get the recipe.

And then the truth was revealed. Once the excitement subsided, Colleen said, “I don’t really need much from the farmers’ market. I just wanted to see your ring, so I brought you these muffins as an excuse. Let’s see it!” 

almond flour muffins love muffins

We got married the following summer. Here are a couple of pictures (sans muffins).

almond flour muffins love muffins

A Muffin Was Born

So that’s how the name of these beautiful almond flour muffins came to be — I got engaged, and since they were kind of an engagement gift, they were dubbed “Love Muffins.” And boy oh boy will you love them! My recommendation is to get as creative with these babies as your little heart desires. But first, try them exactly as the recipe suggests. This way you’ll get an idea of just how delicious they are before you start tweaking things.

Then, the next time you make them, play with the details as much as you like without losing the main ingredients that make them a nice, solid muffin (that’s the ingredients with asterisks* next to them in the recipe below, for those of you who were wondering).almond flour muffins love muffins

Some variations could include:

  • skipping the chocolate and adding fresh blueberries
  • doubling the cocoa powder and skipping the dried cherries for a chocolate/chocolate experience
  • switching out the dried cherries for fresh cranberries and adding in some orange extract
  • swapping the cocoa for cinnamon and switching to white chocolate chips, or even skipping them altogether 
  • adding additional nuts and seeds of your choosing for a heartier, more calorie-dense snack

On the Health Front

This muffin works great for breakfast or a snack, but it does have some extra sugar in it. If you’re tracking your sugar, choose the darkest possible chocolate chips for your muffins or skip the chocolate chips altogether. (These chocolate chips from Enjoy Life are my favorite because they’re dark chocolate and soy-free.) (affiliate link) You can also reduce the amount of maple syrup to 1/4 cup to further cut back the sugar.

These muffins are gluten-free and grain-free, decently high-fiber, full of healthy fats and proteins (from the eggs, almonds, and walnuts), and are sweetened with an unrefined, natural sugar source. They’re a perfectly wholesome addition to nearly any diet — plus they’re called Love Muffins, which makes them great for the mind, body, and spirit. 🙂 

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Love Muffins
This recipe yields 8 large muffins or 10 medium-sized muffins
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
18 min
Total Time
25 min
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
18 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 eggs*
  2. ½ cup real maple syrup
  3. 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  4. ½ cup unsweetened dried cherries
  5. ½ cup chopped walnuts
  6. ½ cup dark chocolate chips
  7. 1 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
  8. 3 cups of almond flour*
  9. ½ tsp baking soda*
  10. ¼ tsp salt*
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees
  2. Line a muffin tin with baking cups
  3. Combine the almond flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa in a bowl
  4. Combine the cherries, walnuts, chocolate chips, vanilla, maple syrup, and eggs in another bowl
  5. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well
  6. Evenly fill each baking cup with the batter
  7. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes
Notes
  1. *ingredients with asterisks should remain the same no matter how you modify the recipe with new or substituted ingredients I suggested in the post.
Adapted from a recipe in the book Grain-Free Gourmet by Jodi Bager and Jenny Lass
Adapted from a recipe in the book Grain-Free Gourmet by Jodi Bager and Jenny Lass
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

FTC DISCLOSURE: This post contains an affiliate link, which means I may receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. I only link to products that I USE and LOVE. All opinions are my own.

Maple Pear Skillet Dessert with Homemade Whipped Cream [RECIPE]

By now you probably know how much I love maple syrup. I use it to sweeten most things that need sweetening — coffee, the occasional homemade cocktail, baked goods, and most definitely skillet desserts. This recipe might be simple, but rest assured, it’s absolutely delicious — perfect for a night in with the hubby or doubled (even tripled) for a friendly gathering. I’ll actually go as far as to say that this post features a bonus recipe — I’m about to share my secret ingredient for my famous homemade whipped cream. I wasn’t initially going to do it, but I’m feeling generous so here goes!

pear skillet dessert recipe

Both parts of this delectable dessert use maple syrup as the sweetener. The maple pear skillet portion features the “Single Guy” strategy of making just enough dessert for the moment (no need to have leftovers to think about while you’re at work the next day — or is that just me?). And the whipped cream portion is — well, let’s be honest, you will probably eat whatever amount of whipped cream you make, so don’t go crazy with it.

Pears and your health

Before we get to the secret ingredient, I want to point out that pears are awesome. I actually didn’t grow up eating pears. I was a brat of massive proportion when it came to food as a kid (definitely not a brat in any other ways, right Mom and Dad?), and pears were not on the approved list of beige food items I would allow past my lips. They were mealy and weird, and the skin didn’t do it for me. So I didn’t start eating them — or even know what a good pear tasted like — until a few years ago. Now I’m in love. My in-laws have a tree and share their spoils with us when they can, and it’s times like these that inspire impromptu desserts like the one I’m about to share. 

pear skillet dessert recipe

But back to pears being awesome — not only is a perfect pear delicious, it’s also a pretty great source of fiber and micronutrients too. In fact, pears have even more pectin (a soluble fiber) than apples (which are known for it). Foods high in soluble fiber aid in digestion by bulking the stool and absorbing toxins in the bowel. Pectin has also been shown to lower cholesterol and aid in mild constipation. Soluble fiber is also beneficial in regulating sugar absorption — something I’m being super conscious of right now since my big decision

Pears are also a great source of vitamins C, K, and E, and minerals copper and potassium. They have a rich phytonutrient profile, which includes antioxidants like quercetin (a natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory) and glutathione which helps prevent high blood pressure and stroke. (source

So you can feel good about this little healthy indulgence — just be realistic with the whipped cream!

Now, on with the recipe and the big reveal! (I may or may not be making a much bigger deal about the secret ingredient than I really need to…)

 

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Maple Pear Skillet Dessert with Homemade Whipped Cream
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Ingredients
  1. 2 ripe pears, sliced thin
  2. 1 tbs butter
  3. 1 tbs almond flour
  4. 1 tbs crushed pecans
  5. 1 tbs maple syrup
Instructions
  1. Melt 1 tbs butter in a hot skillet
  2. Add sliced pears, stirring/flipping to coat in butter
  3. Cook about 2 minutes until softened but not mushy
  4. Add pecans and almond flour
  5. Stir/flip to make sure all ingredients are coated and cooking evenly (another 30 to 45 seconds)
  6. Stir in 1 tbs maple syrup
  7. Cook for another 45 seconds to a minute, taking care not to burn the syrup but allowing it to thicken a bit
  8. Serve hot with a dollop of fresh whopped cream
Notes
  1. For the whipped cream, you want at least a cup of organic heavy cream (you know I'm not much for measuring) and at least 2 tbs of maple syrup. Add those two items to your blender along with 1 tsp vanilla extract or the inside of one whole vanilla bean and ... drumroll please! ... a generous pinch of sea salt. I know it doesn't sound like much, but I'm telling you, the sea salt takes it to the next level.
  2. I've also been known to make this whipped cream using a little Van Gogh Espresso Vodka. You. will. die. Soooo goood! Enjoy!
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

Flashback: Fancy Dessert Made Easy – Sweet Plantain Custard [RECIPE]

Today’s plantain custard recipe is more of an amalgam than a flashback, although it’s most definitely inspired by a Panamanian adventure. About 4 years ago, Loren and I went on a vacation to Panama. We landed in Panama City and drove across the whole country, stopping along the way in a beach town, a mountain town, and the scariest place I’ve ever been before launching out to the islands of Bocas del Toro — Caribbean paradise. The trip, which we called our “Engage-moon,” lasted two glorious weeks. It was our post-engagement vacation designed and timed to escape as soon as we were engaged in order to curtail the answering of wedding planning questions the second we got engaged. (Believe me, questions were asked that very night until my dad intervened and told me to hang up the phone!) Anyway, I digress.

coconut sweet plantain custard recipe

The view from our first lunch stop in Bocas del Toro

Plantains and Coconuts

Our trip to Panama was fabulous and filled with two things: plantains and coconuts. When we arrived in Bocas Del Toro, the groundskeeper of our BnB brought us freshly shucked coconut. He had skinned and sliced the top off of two coconuts with his machete, and we drank the coconut water before biting right in. It was heaven — and extremely impressive that he didn’t lose a hand in the process.

coconut sweet plantain custard recipe

So good! We were in Coconut Heaven!

coconut sweet plantain custard recipe

Not a soul in site. We had this whole beach to ourselves!

Like most people with functioning taste buds, I love sweet plantains, but what really got me on this trip were the patacones — unripe (green) plantains smashed and fried and heavenly. While today isn’t the day to share that recipe, that day will eventually come — you can count on it (possibly sooner than later because now I’m craving them). Today, however, is a sweet treat featuring very ripe plantains, coconut milk, and (you guessed it) maple syrup. 

>>>Want to read other “Flashback” posts? You can find them HERE.<<<

Second Chances!

To be perfectly honest, this recipe is the result of me buying green plantains with the intention of making patacones, waiting too long, and having to go the sweet route instead. The beauty of the plantain is that you get a second chance! coconut sweet plantain custard recipe

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Sweet Plantain Custard
Serves 4
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Prep Time
2 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
12 min
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Prep Time
2 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
12 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 egg yolks
  2. 2 very ripe plantains
  3. 1 cup coconut milk + 1 tbs
  4. 2 tbs maple syrup
  5. 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  6. 1/4 tsp REAL salt
Instructions
  1. Start with the two peeled plantains and 1 tbs coconut milk in the blender
  2. Once the plantains start to loosen up and get mushy, add in the egg yolks
  3. Pulse enough to incorporate all ingredients
  4. In a double boiler, heat 1 cup coconut milk and maple syrup until you achieve a low simmer
  5. Once the coconut milk is warmed, slowly pour it into the blender pitcher, stirring/ whisking, or running the blender on its lowest setting until all ingredients are well-mixed
  6. Pour the whole mixture back into the double boiler and simmer until it thickens, about 10 minutes
Notes
  1. Be careful not to overcook this one. The plantains are pretty thick, so if you allow it all to spend too much time on the stove top, you'll end up with something thick and baby-food like, and no one wants that.
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

Fruit Too Ripe to Eat? Make a Simple Skillet Dessert! [RECIPE]

Ever since I moved to the Bay Area and discovered the joys of a super fresh nectarine right off the tree, a sweetness I’d never tasted in a nectarine before, I became obsessed with stone fruit fresh from the local growers. I love summer in general, but the fact that it’s also stone fruit season takes it to a whole new level. The road to our most traveled climbing destination (Yosemite) is lined with local growers selling their fresh produce, so I always insist we stop and stock up on the way home. We even have a few neighbors growing apricots, plumbs, and nectarines, and sometimes on a walk with Dexter, I snag a few from the trees. Fresh, delicious, sweet nectarines might be the best thing on earth.

nectarine skillet dessert

The First Fruit of the Season

When I saw the first beautiful white and yellow nectarines of the season at our local grocery store a few weeks ago, I bought a few. I usually like to sample before I buy (hence my preference for the little stands and farmers’ markets), so I didn’t go crazy and just got a few to kick off the season. I couldn’t wait to get home and sink my teeth into the first nectarines of the season. Unfortunately, I got distracted and promptly packed them into the fruit drawer in our refrigerator and forgot about them.

Oops.

A couple of weeks later, I remembered that I hadn’t eaten them and pulled out slightly wrinkly nectarines. They weren’t moldy, and they did still have a nice sweet flavor, but I didn’t want to eat them plain like that all sad and wrinkly. And so another version of the “Single Guy” dessert was born. 

I chopped up those wrinkly nectarines, grabbed some blueberries, and tossed them into a heated skillet with a little coconut oil and started cooking. A little bit of this and a little bit of that, and suddenly I had two desserts ready to go for my husband and me! Easy as pie (or a two-person mini pie without the crust). 

nectarine skillet dessert

The Kitchen Hack of the day is this: Don’t waste the forgotten fruit!

Breathe some life back into it by turning it into a skillet dessert! As I’ve mentioned before, you can really do a lot for dessert with a skillet and some fresh (or not so fresh) fruit. Get creative and don’t waste that fruit just because it’s a little past its prime. (Just make sure there’s no mold or rot.)

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Nectarine and Blueberry Skillet Dessert
Serves 2
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Prep Time
2 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
7 min
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Prep Time
2 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
7 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 ripe nectarines or peaches, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  2. Handful of blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  3. 2 tsp coconut oil (CWB Favorite Pick)
  4. Zest from 1/2 a lemon
  5. 8 crushed macadamia nuts
  6. 1 tsp maple syrup
  7. Refrigerated coconut milk (cold so that it's thick and scoop-able) (CWB Favorite Pick)
  8. Pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Heat a sauce pan and add coconut oil and fruit
  2. Cook the fruit on medium heat until it softens and the blueberries start releasing color, stirring to ensure that nothing sticks or burns
  3. Add crushed nuts, maple syrup, and a pinch of salt
  4. Stir everything to incorporate well
  5. Once you plate the fruit (I use small ramekins), add a scoop of cold coconut milk for topping (if your coconut milk isn't solid, just stir it in -- it will still be delicious!)
  6. Serve warm
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

FTC DISCLOSURE: This post contains an affiliate link (CWB Favorite Picks), which means I may receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. I only link to products that I USE and LOVE. All opinions are my own.

 

Balsamic Banana Berry Skillet [RECIPE]

If there’s one thing that can send me down the path of too-much-of-a-good-thing, it’s sweets. Cookies, ice cream, chocolate covered things — nuts, coffee beans, fruit, you name it — I love it. I work on reserving sugary treats for special occasions, but I’ll admit I’ve been known to overindulge from time to time. This weekend we had family in town, and ice cream, cookies, budin, and cake were had by all. It was a deliciously fun weekend, but admittedly I went a little overboard, so today I wanted to share a dessert that fits into a healthy lifestyle while still feeling decadent and delicious. 

Balsamic

No Sugar Added Dessert 

“No Sugar Added” doesn’t mean there’s no sugar at all. Fruits contain naturally occurring sugar, as do starches  and even some vegetables (like carrots and peas). The idea behind creating a “No Sugar Added” dessert without the addition of artificial sweeteners is to avoid refined sugars and additives while allowing the natural sweetness of the whole food (fruit, sweet potato, etc) to shine through. 

Maple Balsamicno sugar added dessert

There’s an adorable little shop on the main drag in Murphys, CA called Marisolio that sells artisan olive oil and balsamic vinegar. You can go in and taste as many flavors as you’d like, either in a tiny plastic cup or on a bite of bread. They recommend amazing combinations that can be used far beyond your average salad dressing — on popcorn, as marinade, on pancakes, on ice cream.

One of the ones I adored was the maple balsamic vinegar. They paired it with a buttery olive oil for me to try, and I felt like I had a bite of pancakes in my mouth! I used this special vinegar to add just a touch of maple flavor to this recipe, but it’s just as delicious to add the standard balsamic if you aren’t privy to this artisan flavor (you might consider ordering some though! It’s delicious!) or leave out the vinegar entirely.

Balsamic Vinegar and Health

Balsamic vinegar does have a slight amount of residual sugar from grapes in it after fermentation, however it actively stabilizes blood sugar, so the effects of the residual (naturally occurring) sugar are mitigated. (Read more about how balsamic vinegar can positively affect cholesterol and blood pressure.)

I chose to use balsamic vinegar in this recipe instead of maple syrup to keep the glycemic load down but still add some flavor. Admittedly, we’re still talking about a dessert — bananas do contain sugar. But the glycemic load (GL) of a banana is still considered low, and the GL of blueberries is lower still. 

A side note about maple syrup. It’s my absolute favorite way to sweeten things, and while it IS a natural sweetener, it’s still sugar and calorie-dense. I’m not generally one to count calories or worry too much about a little maple syrup here and there, but this recipe is specifically a “no sugar added” dessert, so I’ve chosen to use this vinegar instead and feature the sweetness of the fruit rather than the sweetness of the syrup.

no sugar added dessert

 

The “Single Guy Recipe”

I referenced this style of dessert-making before when I shared another small batch recipe for persimmon pudding.  The Single Guy Recipe is an homage to comedian Bill Burr, who lamented on his podcast the fact that cookbooks always give you recipes that make too much of everything, especially desserts, for the single guy. I love the idea of the Single Guy Recipe, because in my house, if dessert is just lying around, it can be a problem. I like to make desserts on the stove top so that I can just make exactly what we’re going to eat right then and there with zero leftovers. It helps to have some fresh fruit at home to cook up, but frozen works well too. The one I’m sharing with you today has both. 

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Balsamic Banana Berry Skillet
This "Single Guy Recipe" is the perfect no sugar added dessert for when you want something sweet, but want to stick to a whole foods diet.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 banana
  2. 1/2 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen - I had frozen at home)
  3. 12 pecan halves, chopped
  4. 1 tbs coconut oil
  5. 2 tsp maple balsamic vinegar
  6. 2 tbs coconut milk
Instructions
  1. Melt coconut oil on a warm skillet
  2. Add frozen blueberries and cook until thawed before adding sliced banana
  3. Once the fruit has softened, stir in pecans, coconut milk and balsamic
  4. Stir to incorporate all ingredients and coat the fruit with the sauce
  5. Allow to reduce slightly (another minute or so)
  6. Turn off heat and serve warm in two ramekins
Notes
  1. Adding whipped cream would be phenomenal. It would add a bit of sugar (I use maple syrup in my whipped cream).
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

Sweet Potato Pound Cake [Gluten-free]

sweet potato pound cake

The first version of this recipe I tried was in the form of a pumpkin pound cake (rather than sweet potato). It was part of a group potluck, and I loved it so much I took the leftovers home to Loren to share it with him. I’ve since made my own version using my homemade roasted sweet potato puree, and it was every bit as delicious as the original pumpkin one. Both versions are absolutely fabulous, so interchange the ingredients as you wish. I brought what was left of our sweet potato loaf home to Texas a few weeks back, and my mom loved it so much she asked me to make another one before I left. She even made sure to copy down the recipe before the trip was over (and she’s not generally a baker).

What makes this recipe shine is that it’s so SIMPLE. With only a handful of whole-food ingredients, none of which requires any special baking chemistry, it’s almost impossible to get this one wrong. And the final product is nothing short of decadent.

 

Delicious AND Nutritious

Not only would you never know that this pound cake is gluten-free, you’d never know that it’s actively good for you, filled with nutrient-dense ingredients that will nourish your body and make your taste buds sing. I’ll just give you a quick nutrition rundown so you can feel awesome about eating this pound cake for breakfast, a snack, or even dessert — add a dollop of coconut whipped cream to this creation and you have yourself a guilt-free, paleo dessert.

  1. It uses only whole food ingredients
  2. It is entirely gluten-, grain-, and dairy-free
  3. It uses only healthy fats from coconut oil, pastured eggs, and almonds – CLICK HERE for your free 15 oz jar of coconut oil
  4. It’s rich in beta carotene and other healthy phytonutrients (this is true whether you use sweet potatoes or pumpkin)
  5. It’s high in fiber and low in glycemic load (even lower GL with pumpkin but true for both)
  6. It includes warming spices, including cinnamon (which helps regulate blood sugar) and ginger (which aids in digestion)
  7. It uses a small amount of natural, unrefined maple syrup (1/4 cup for 8-10 servings), a natural sweetener rich in minerals and minimally processed

sweet potato pound cake

I have to give credit to my friend and colleague, holistic Chef Christine Cully for sharing her amazing recipe with me and allowing me to post it on CWB for you all to enjoy. Lucky for me (and for you as you’ll soon find out once you try this), Christine’s generous attitude is to share the wealth of her great recipes and get people eating better — just get the information out there, no credit requested! Well I’m giving her credit anyway. So here it is, my amazing sweet potato pound cake, adapted from a recipe by Chef Christine Cully. 

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Sweet Potato Pound Cake
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Ingredients
  1. 3/4 cup roasted sweet potato puree (recipe linked at the top of the post)
  2. 1/4 cup maple syrup
  3. 1/4 cup coconut oil
  4. 4 eggs
  5. 1 cup almond flour
  6. 1/4 cup coconut flour
  7. 1/4 tsp sea salt
  8. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  9. 1 tsp cinnamon
  10. 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325
  2. Melt coconut oil
  3. Combine wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl
  4. Combine dry ingredients in a small mixing bowl
  5. Add dry ingredients to wet, and mix until smooth
  6. Bake in a greased loaf pan for 35-40 minutes
Notes
  1. Let sit for about 10 minutes before removing from loaf pan or cutting to serve.
  2. This recipe works great for muffins as well, and yields about 10 muffins
Adapted from Holistic Chef Christine Cully
Adapted from Holistic Chef Christine Cully
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

Dairy-Free Persimmon Pudding [Recipe]

-Editor’s note added 1/18/15

This simple persimmon pudding recipe is the result of a desire not to waste one totally overripe persimmon a friend gave me from her tree. I’m not a huge fan of persimmons, but Loren loves them, so I took a few home for him. He ate a couple and then left one lonely fruit sitting on the counter until the skin became dark orange and translucent and the fruit was soft to the touch.

(As a side note, this could be fodder for some other blog post one day: How to get your husband or housemate to stop leaving small amounts of food in the fridge to be forgotten forever. I think I’ve successfully shamed Loren out of leaving 3 green beans in the bag and cooking the rest, but we both have a problem with eating fruit before it goes. It can sometimes make for interesting science experiments in the fridge …)

ANYWAY, there was this one persimmon. I had used a mushy persimmon before in a couple of other sweet syrupy recipes, but they weren’t good enough to share with you. This time however, I think I might have outdone myself. This is by far my very favorite way to consume a persimmon, and my persimmon-loving husband agreed — he said he liked it even better than the pumpkin custard recipe in my latest eBook.

Both recipes use coconut milk instead of regular cow’s milk, which some might think would pose a thickening problem. It doesn’t. It thickens right up; you just need a little time and patience (barely even any patience in the case of this small batch!). And at the end of the day, you have a dessert that doesn’t bother a lactose-intolerant belly and is full of the healthy fats from the coconut milk and the pastured egg yolks. What more could you ask of a dessert that already includes a bright orange fruit full of carotenoids? 

The “Single Guy Recipe”

I considered sharing a larger version of this recipe — perhaps one that serves 4 to 6 people — but after listening to an old episode of Bill Burr’s Monday Morning Podcast where he laments the absence of “single guy” recipes in cookbooks after making 24 cupcakes and only wanting to eat 1, I decided to leave this recipe exactly as it was on my first try. This recipe serves two, and honestly, with just the two of us at home, it’s nice to be able to make a dessert that doesn’t linger in the fridge calling my name every night until it’s devoured.

Two is good.

As with other pudding/custard recipes, the more you make, the longer it takes to thicken, so anticipate some time adjustments if you decide to make a double or triple batch* of this scrumptious silky persimmon pudding.

*Editor’s note: I’ve since made a larger batch of this and didn’t simply double everything — which would have possibly yielded more but taken FOREVER. To make six 4-ounce servings like the ones pictured below, I used 4 persimmons, 6 egg yolks, 1/2 cup of maple syrup, and 3 cups coconut milk. The directions remain the same.

dairy-free persimmon pudding

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Dairy-free Persimmon Pudding
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Ingredients
  1. 1 overly ripe, pulpy fuyu persimmon, skin removed (scrape the pulp off with a spoon if necessary)
  2. 2 egg yolks
  3. 1/4 cup maple syrup
  4. 1 cup coconut milk
Instructions
  1. In a double boiler, heat coconut milk and maple syrup until you achieve a low simmer
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks and persimmon pulp
  3. Very slowly pour the warm coconut mixture to the persimmon and egg yolks, whisking thoroughly until completely incorporated
  4. Pour everything back into the double boiler and simmer until it thickens, about 15 minutes
  5. Whisk throughout to ensure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan or clump up
  6. Pour into 2 ramekins and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving
Notes
  1. See editor's note above in this post for how to triple this recipe.
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

Flourless Rum Balls – A Healthy Holiday Treat [Recipe]

Holiday  Rumballs (1)Can you tell based on recent posts that I love the holiday season? 

I don’t mean the over-commercialized, Black Friday (and now starting to be Thursday too!), tree-up-after-Halloween holiday season, I just mean the joy and cheer of this time of year. I love that people feel more motivated to do charity around the holidays; I love that food drives get ramped up, that people volunteer to wrap donated gifts for those in need, and I love the general feelings of nostalgia for the magic of Christmas.

I used to hate holiday music, and now I have my own playlist for it on Spotify and have saved an album that my mom plays on repeat this time of year. I have tortured Loren into loving it, and we listen to it while we decorate the house each year. I love the ritual of going to get the tree; I love making and putting up decorations; I love thinking of creative holiday gifts, and I LOVE hosting a fancy holiday party. I don’t know why I love getting dressed up this time of year, but it’s just fun, and it makes me happy so I’m telling you about it! 

Tradition + Healthy = Happy

This recipe is a healthy take on an old holiday favorite, at least it’s a favorite in my family. At every family party, you will find a plate with rum balls, Italian fig cookies, pignoli (a naturally gluten-free DELICIOUS cookie!), sesame cookies, and some with colorful sprinkles on them. I used to devour the rum balls as a kid, thinking I was doing something sneaky because they had rum in them. Tsk tsk…

flourless rum balls holiday

For these little nuggets of joy, I’ve combined the taste of home with a popular vegan energy ball recipe to create a gluten-free, no-bake, flourless rum ball. And I forgot to mention, they’re absolutely decadent. This year, I’ve dressed them up in cute little packages to give to friends and coworkers, but they’re also perfect for your big holiday bash. Might as well have a few healthy things on the finger food table. (Check out my Holiday Chicken Salad-stuffed Cucumber Cups for another healthy finger food!) 

 

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Healthy Holiday Rum Balls
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Ingredients
  1. 3 cups pecans
  2. 3 cups dates
  3. 1/4 cup raw cacao nibs
  4. 1/3 cup rum
  5. 5 tsp raw cacao powder
  6. brown sugar
  7. extra raw cacao powder
  8. powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, process pecans into small pieces before adding the dates and cacao nibs
  2. Add in the cacao powder and the rum
  3. Process until all ingredients are incorporated and you have a mostly homogenous consistency
  4. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to firm up for rolling
  5. Roll into 1.5 inch balls
  6. Combine equal parts powdered sugar and cacao into a small bowl
  7. Pour a few tbs brown sugar into another bowl
  8. Roll 1/2 the balls through the brown sugar and the other 1/2 through the powdered sugar/cacao combo
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

Healthy Chocolate Pudding – What’s the Secret Ingredient?

healthy chocolate pudding

Happy almost Mothers’ Day! I’m not a mother, but I do have a good one and am at the age where I know a lot of them, so happy day to you all!

This mother’s day treat is my homage to mothers everywhere who used to make (or still make) chocolate pudding for their kids. It’s a nostalgic treat for my generation, when Jello pudding was new and exciting – mom used to make us Jello chocolate pudding from the box right on the stove top. Remember? Or maybe you got yours pre-made from the refrigerated section at the grocery store? Or maybe you were a Kozy Shack kid who balked at Jello pudding…

Either way, we all agree that chocolate pudding is delicious.

Those of us avoiding dairy or the refined sugar bomb that accompanies the store-bought stuff shouldn’t be left out in the cold, should we? Is there such a thing as healthy chocolate pudding? These days, most moms are interested in longevity so they can be around for their kids and grandkids, so I’ve created something that’s healthy, delicious, nostalgic, loving, and CHOCOLATE. 🙂 That’s right. Healthy chocolate pudding.

This is a sweet, rich, delicious dessert that mothers with young kids can make alongside them. Together, they can personalize their toppings as you would with an ice cream sundae.

Mothers with older kids can sit on the couch and be waited on hand and foot for their special day – I’d say a nice tray of chocolate pudding and the assorted toppings would be a lovely Mothers’ Day surprise!

You won’t believe what the secret ingredient is to keep this pudding rich and creamy while remaining totally dairy-free  totally vegan actually! Read on to learn about why this delicious treat is actively good for you – and for mom!

Actively Healthy Chocolate Pudding

Secret ingredient big reveal! Avocados!

Avocados are rich in fiber, healthy monounsaturated fats (oleic acid), and they aid in absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and other micronutrients like beta carotene and lycopene. The fats in avocados aid in mitigating inflammation in the body (phytosterols and polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols (PFAs)). Both raw cacao and avocado are instrumental in cardiovascular and digestive health due to the fiber content and positive effect they both have on blood pressure and blood glucose. The polyphenol content in cacao also supports cardiovascular health. Maple syrup is a natural, minimally processed sweetener, perfect for a healthy dessert.

With ingredients like this, there’s no need to count calories or macros, but this is considered a low-carb food.

Another A+ gift for mom!

healthy chocolate pudding

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Healthy Chocolate Pudding
Serves 4
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Prep Time
4 min
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Prep Time
4 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 large ripe avocados
  2. 1/4 cup full-fat coconut milk
  3. 1/4 cup raw unsweetened cocoa (cacao)
  4. 2 tbs real maple syrup
  5. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  6. pinch of sea salt
Toppings
  1. mini chocolate chips, chopped nuts, fruit, or any combination of these
Instructions
  1. Process all ingredients in a food processor until completely smooth (adjust amount of coconut milk based on the power of your processor)
Notes
  1. Keeps in the fridge for 3 days if you don't serve right away. Works well to double or triple this recipe.
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

 

The Guilt-Free Adult Brownie [RECIPE]

adult brownie

For the past month or so, I’ve been on a mission to build the best black bean brownie on earth. My goal has been simple: create a gluten-free, dairy-free, flour-free dessert rich in fiber, protein, and antioxidants that anyone — even those just looking for a decadent treat — can genuinely enjoy without an asterisk. As in, “it’s really good.*”

*for a healthy dessert

I just want it to be good, period.

Great even.

FANTASTIC even!

After all, the tagline of this blog is “sowing the seeds of a sweet, rich life.” What better way to do that than with a delicious, fudgy brownie you can feel good about eating?

adult brownie

Before I share this brownie recipe with you, I need to illustrate my standard of comparison for greatness. This is important.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, there’s a small chain of grocery stores called Andronico’s, and inside those grocery stores there lives the best brownie on earth.

It’s called The Adult Brownie.

If you were to google “Andronico’s Adult Brownie,” you’d see things like “Best Brownie in SF” and multiple recipe bloggers attempting to recreate this masterpiece using every strategy short of selling their souls to the devil.

adult brownie

pulled this picture from a Yelp review

Context is Everything

A few years back, my roommate Nicole discovered this gem through a coworker, and we went hunting for it. Nicole and I are in lock-step when it comes to our reverence for the role chocolate plays in our emotional wellbeing. We started our hunt at the bakery case, not quite knowing what we were looking for. When it wasn’t there, we split up, figuring we’d cover more ground that way.

Minutes later we reconvened empty-handed in front of the open refrigerated troughs that carry specialty foods like olives and spreads, and Nicole’s usually cheerful face was fraught with panic. What if we couldn’t find it? She looked down trying to keep her composure and glanced inside that open trough. “THAT’S IT!” she pointed and screamed. The woman pushing a shopping cart next to her must have jumped a good six inches into the air, scurrying away, terrified of the brownie-crazed women who nearly knocked her over to get to the goods. We bought two and rushed home.

This remains the funniest story involving brownies I’ve ever been a part of.

Replicating the Adult Brownie

Sadly, the Adult Brownie isn’t gluten-free, so I haven’t enjoyed its mind-altering, pleasure-center short-circuiting glory for quite a few years now — and I miss it. I’ve been working on a replacement recipe on and off for about a year with varying levels of success, and last night I NAILED it.

Full disclosure: when my husband tasted the final product I asked him if it was as good as the Adult Brownie, and he said “no.” But only after a long pause, which was followed up by, “But it’s a damn good brownie and a very close second. It’s good for a brownie, not just good for a ‘healthy’ brownie.”

He’s not one to fluff up my ego on such things, so I’ll take it! A very close second to a famous brownie that features white sugar, white flour, and possibly the soul of some poor baker’s first-born child? Yeah, I’ll take that.

adult brownie

 

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The Guilt-Free Adult Brownie
Yields 9
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Untitled-design-17-150x150.png)">
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups cooked or canned black beans, drained
  2. 2 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (CWB Favorite Pick), separated (1 cup, 1 cup, 1/2 cup)
  3. 1/4 cup coconut milk (CWB Favorite Pick)
  4. 2 tbs organic coconut oil (CWB Favorite Pick)
  5. 2 pasture eggs
  6. 1 tbs vanilla
  7. 1/4 cup maple syrup
  8. 2 tbs unsweetened organic cocoa powder
  9. 1/2 tsp sea salt
  10. 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  11. 2 to 3 tbs shredded coconut or coconut flakes (CWB Favorite Pick)
  12. 1 tbs coconut sugar (CWB Favorite Pick)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. In a food processor, process the black beans and 1 cup chocolate chips until integrated
  3. Add in the next seven ingredients (up to and including the salt), and keep processing until a smooth batter forms
  4. Stir in the second cup of chocolate chips
  5. Line an 8X8 pan with parchment paper leaving enough paper to stick out the sides
  6. Spoon batter into the pan
  7. Sprinkle the top of the batter with the remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips and pecans, then add the shredded coconut and coconut sugar (the sugar and shredded bits will create a nice little crunch once it bakes)
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes (a fork pushed through the center of the pan should come out without any batter on it)
  9. Let sit for about 10 minutes before lifting the brownies out of the pan using the parchment paper
  10. Let cool to room temperature on the counter and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before slicing/serving (otherwise it could break apart) ***
  11. Prepare for greatness
Notes
  1. *** If you prefer a warm brownie, that's great. Still allow those first 10 minutes, then use a warm knife to cut the part you want to eat and leave the rest in tact. Don't cut the whole pan hot unless you're serving all of it. If you are, wipe off the knife between slices.
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The Great Pumpkin!

Thanksgiving is TOMORROW, and since my facebook feed has been chalk-full of Top 10 (or Top 100) Healthy Thanksgiving Recipe lists collected from all over the blogosphere, I won’t confuse things by adding another one. Those lists are already awesome.

Welllll, maybe just one more list.

This is also a list of recipes, but it’s not what you think. This is a very short list of recipes featuring PUMPKIN in celebration of the season! I follow quite a few whole food-focused blogs, so I’ve collected some of my favorite ones, given them a little twist, and featured them here. The first one is inspired by a combo of recipes turned into something all my own, and admittedly, the last one is mine from another blog I write. 🙂 I never said shameless self-promotion wasn’t going to be part of this blogging endeavor… Here goes! (Want an even better list of pumpkin favorites? Check out my eBook dedicated strictly to pumpkin-ry. 10 Delicious Pumpkin Recipes for the Vegan and Vegetarian Foodie)

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Coconut Pumpkin Creme Bars

This recipe has three parts: crust, filling, creme. All delicious, all with some legitimate nutritional value (albeit lots of maple syrup). Both the crust and the filling are inspired by the pumpkin pie recipe from Oh She Glows, but I’m not vegan so ghee and eggs are included in this version. I chose to add an egg to make the filling firmer, and I prefer not to use Earth Balance because I think it’s a fake food. Warning, the crust is not grain-free. You could try substituting a combo of garbanzo and almond or almond and coconut if you’re looking for a grain-free option, but I’ve never tried it so couldn’t tell you proportions.

Crust

  • 1/2 cup GF certified rolled oats, processed into a fine flour OR 1 cup GF oat flour
  • 1 cup raw pecans
  • 1 tbs coconut sugar
  • 1.5 tbs ground flax
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbs maple syrup
  • 3 tsp pasture ghee, melted

Instructions: preheat oven to 350, generously grease an 8×8 square baking dish with ghee. Process oats in a food processor or blender until finely ground and pour into bowl with all other dry ingredients except pecans. Grind pecans in food processor until oils release, but not so long that it turns to pecan butter. Add ghee and maple syrup and process until well-mixed. Pour wet contents into dry and hand mix until all ingredients are incorporated into the dough. Spread dough out onto baking dish and prebake for 4 minutes.

Filling

  • 2 cups BPA-free organic canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 3 tbsp arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cloves

Instructions: mix arrowroot and maple syrup first, ensuring that there are no clumps, then add rest of ingredients and whisk until well-blended. Pour over cooled prebaked crust.

Creme

  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • 2 tbs pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions: Refrigerate coconut creme either over night or for at least 6 hours. Add all 3 ingredients to a food processor and blend until whipped. A hand mixer works great too.

 

Pumpkin Cookies (Inspired by the recipe shared at The Paleo Mama)
pumpkincookies

The biggest difference between what I did and what she did: instead of allspice, I used nutmeg, clove, and ginger. They turned out great!

These next two recipes are both from one of my favorite go-to recipe blogs, Primally Inspired. I had a brunch party recently, and this deliciously creative dish received rave reviews. If you would have told me making souffle could be this easy, I’d have tried it a long time ago. 

Pumpkin Breakfast Souffle

I’ve made this recipe twice, the first time following the recipe exactly. The second time, the only tweaks I made were 1) adding an additional teaspoon pumpkin spice and 2) adding a pinch of sea salt. My husband ate it both times and thinks the salt took it to the next level.

 Grain-Free Pumpkin Bread

I made this bread as a quick breakfast item, so I skipped the caramel glaze. I was also out of pumpkin seeds, so I used sunflower seeds instead. I can’t wait to try it again and include the caramel sauce!

 

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie (recipe pulled from Passport to a Healthy Me!)

I love this smoothie — it’s a cold drink but it has warm pumpkin spices in it. Perfect for a breakfast on the go or post-workout recovery drink.

What’s your favorite pumpkin recipe? Please share in a comment below so I can check it out!


 

Want an even better list of pumpkin favorites? Check out my eBook dedicated strictly to pumpkin-ry. 10 Delicious Pumpkin Recipes for the Vegan and Vegetarian Foodie

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