Better Bites

My experiments in healthy eating, cooking, and living

Archive for the category “Chocolate”

Almond Joy Granola

Almond joy granola 1

I’ll keep this post as short and sweet as the granola recipe that follows. Lately, it’s been like my life (outside of work) has been sucked up by a vacuum. Before, I had the entire summer to enjoy each of my hobbies. Recently, I’ve been trying to be better about making sure I take time for myself.

On the bright side, my kids have actually been using a math strategy I taught them to do multiplication. I noticed them using it one morning when they were doing the problems of the day, which are posted on the morning meeting white board. It was like a light bulb went off in my head. Something stuck with them. Even the little things that are taught, stick with them. I taught them something that was useful (for the moment until they’re repertoire of strategies and number sense increases). The feeling of seeing them use what they learned independently is nearly indescribable. Until the next light bulb moment happens, there is always almond joy granola, which is possibly my new favorite granola recipe (and when I say possibly I mean definitely because anything almond joy flavored is amazing – unless you hate coconut and then it’s less than amazing, but I’m not one of those coconut haters and therefore it’s amazing).

almond joy granola 2

Almond Joy Granola:

*Makes about 4 cups of granola

Ingredients:

2 cups of rolled oats

1/3 cup of walnuts, chopped

1/3 cup of almonds, chopped

2/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

4 tbsp maple syrup

2 tbsp coconut oil

2 tbsp of cocoa powder

1 tsp of vanilla

1/4 tsp of almond extract

Method:

1- To make the almond-flavored granola:

  • Mix together: 1 cup of rolled oats, the chopped almonds, and the coconut flakes. Then, in a separate bowl mix these liquid ingredients: 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, 1 tablespoon of melted coconut oil, and the almond extract. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry and mix until the oats are well coated.

2- To make the chocolate-flavored granola:

  • Mix together: 1 cup of rolled oats, the chopped walnuts, the coconut flakes, and cocoa powder. Then, in a separate bowl mix these liquid ingredients: 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, 1 tablespoon of melted coconut oil, and the vanilla extract. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry and mix until the oats are well coated.

3- Add each mixture of granola to a baking sheet – keeping the two variations separate during baking (I put both on one baking pan, but kept the chocolate on one half and the almond granola on the other half). Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the almond granola begins to turn golden brown around the edges of the pan.

4- Let the granola cool for about 25-30 minutes before serving with your favorite type of milk. Store in an airtight container. When I made this granola it lasted for about 4-5 days in an airtight container. Enjoy!

Almond joy granola 3

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Chocolate-Flavored Creamy Avocado and Raspberry Pudding

Avocado pudding 1

Avocados just keep getting better. This fruit can be used in appetizers, dinners, salads, and soups. I wasn’t sure I could believe it until I tried it, but avocados can even be used in desserts.

This pudding is simple to make, tastes richer than it is, and is technically a dessert made almost entirely of fruit. Can you go wrong? I don’t think so! There shouldn’t be anything stopping you from making this recipe, as it really only has a few ingredients. My roommate even raved about the pudding  (if you needed another reason to be convinced to try it). So get your kitchen gadgets ready and rush to the kitchen in three-two-one. Go! You won’t regret it, unless you are one of those people who isn’t really fond of desserts (though I haven’t met many people that don’t enjoy dessert).

Avocado pudding 2

Chocolate-Flavored Creamy Avocado and Raspberry Pudding:

*Recipe inspired by an avocado pudding recipe found on This Chick Cooks

*Serves two

Ingredients: 

1 cup of raspberries, frozen or fresh, rinsed and patted dry

2 tbsp of water

2 tsp of agave nectar

1 avocado, halved and diced

3 tbsp of cocoa powder

3 tbsp of maple syrup

1 tsp of vanilla extract

3 tbsp of nut milk or the milk of your choice (or more if you’d like the pudding to be thinner)

Method:

Add the raspberries, water, and agave nectar to a pot set over medium low heat. Heat the raspberries until they easily break apart. Mash them until they become smooth, as they would if you’d pureed them. Set the raspberry spread aside and allow it to cool.

While you’re waiting for the raspberries to cool, add the rest of the ingredients to a food processor or high speed blender. Set it to high and let the ingredients combine. After a minute or so, scrape the sides of the food processor and then put the lid on and put it back on high. Do this until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

Chill both the raspberry puree and the avocado pudding before serving. To serve, layer the avocado pudding and the raspberry puree in the serving dish or glass of your choice (I found it easiest to scoop the mixture into a glass using a small spoon). Top with a fresh raspberry and enjoy!

Chocolate Goji Berry Crunch Granola

Goji berry crunch

Okay, I admit it. I broke down and bought a couple of different superfoods. After watching Food Matters, I became curious about why people were running out and buying foods like goji berries and raw maca. I didn’t know the first thing about superfoods, aside from the idea that they were supposed to be very good for you.

Not too long after watching that documentary, I gave in and bought both goji berries and cacao nibs. Almost immediately, I found myself adding the cacao nibs to different foods I normally made like oatmeal and in trail mix.

The goji berries, however, were a different story. At first bite, I didn’t really like them. They were fairly tough on the outside and had a fruit flavor that I didn’t like the taste of (which is odd because I’d loved every fruit I’d tasted prior to this experience assuming goji berries are a fruit?). I knew they were supposed to be good for me and I’d paid a pretty penny for a small bag of the pretty, coral-colored berries, so I tried to eat a small handful with other dried fruits I enjoyed, like apricots. I tried hard to like them, but efforts were to no avail. They sat in my cabinet for a couple of months with little or no use.

One day, I was talking with the guy who lives upstairs from me and he was telling me how he and his girlfriend were on this superfood kick. They’d bought all different powders, berries, and seeds in hopes of adding them to their diet. I admitted how I’d tried goji berries, but wasn’t too fond of them. He then told me how he loved eating them with chocolate.

Ding, ding, ding. It was like the light bulb went off in my head. I’d never tried the berries with chocolate. What a genius idea. Almost immediately, the idea for chocolate goji berry granola was born.  The combination was a success and now I have a new use for all those unused berries I bought. Whether eating them with granola defeats the purpose or not, is not something I’d like to consider. It was too delicious to contemplate the idea of how healthy it was.

Goji berry crunch 2

Chocolate Goji Berry Crunch Granola: 

*Yields about 3-4 cups of granola

Ingredients:

1 1/3  cup of rolled oats (I used GF rolled oats)

1/3 cup of dried, unsweetened coconut flakes

2/3 cup of chopped nuts (I used a mix of walnuts and cashews – both tasted delicious with the chocolate flavor of the granola)

2 tbsp of cocoa powder

1/3 cup of raisins

1 tbsp virgin coconut oil, melted

3 tbsp of light agave nectar

(possible substitution: maple syrup)

1 tsp of vanilla extract

1/3 cup of goji berries

1 tbsp of cacao nibs (*optional)

Method: 

1- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Then add your rolled oats, coconut, chopped nuts, raisins, and cocoa powder to a mixing bowl. Mix the dry ingredients together.

2- Melt the virgin coconut oil either in a small pan or in the microwave. Add the Coconut oil, agave nectar, and vanilla  into a glass measuring cup. Stir once before pouring over the rolled oat mixture. Mix the oats with the wet ingredients, making sure all of the oats are coated.

3- Spread a thin layer of granola onto the parchment paper. Bake for 12-15 minutes. The granola is finished when the raisins on the edges of the pan begin to turn puff up. After the granola has cooled for about five minutes add the goji berries and cacao nibs (I thought cooking them would make them lose their many nutritional benefits such as the antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that they provide). Let the granola cool before using it (it will become crisper as it cools, it will still be slightly soft when it comes out of the oven).

*Store in an airtight container. Other possible additions: substitute goji berries for dried cherries, dried cranberries, dried apricots, or banana chips

In case you missed my two other posts on granola, I’ve also made a banana walnut version, as well as maple pecan granola. Enjoy!

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Scones

Raspberry chocolate chip scones

Lately, I’ve undergone some major life changes, which have made writing seem difficult. It’s almost like these changes have created writer’s block. I almost wasn’t going to write this post, but then I watched a video of Neil Gaiman giving a speech at a commencement ceremony, which was posted on Change For a Year. It was then that I knew I couldn’t just stop writing even though the writing wasn’t coming and it wasn’t going to be the best writing. Sometimes you just have to keep going or as Neil Gaiman said “Make good art. Make it on the bays days. Make it on the good days too. And fifthly while you’re at it, make your art…The urge starting out is to copy and that’s not a bad thing. Most of us only find our own voices after we’ve sounded like a lot of other people. The one thing you have that nobody else has is you, your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.”

While this scone recipe is not completely my own, we all have to start somewhere. Someday I aspire to create my own scone recipes, but for now I’ll adapt the recipes of others until I get to that point.

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Scones: 

*Adapted from Shannon’s recipe for delicious blueberry scones found on her blog Move Eat Create (mine are also nearly identical to a Babycakes recipe – I think the only difference from mine and the Babycakes’ recipe is the chocolate chips)

Ingredients: 

*Makes 11 scones

2 cups whole spelt flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp of fine grain sea salt

1/3 cup of coconut oil, melted OR use Earth Balance’s Buttery Spread, melted (UPDATE: using the buttery spread produces a lighter and more flavorful scone than using coconut oil, as I recently found when making them again)

1/3 cup of light agave nectar

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup hot water

3/4 cup frozen or fresh raspberries

1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips

Method:

1- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2- Meanwhile, mix the dry ingredients and stir with a whisk to ensure they are well combined.

3- Then, after melting the 1/3 cup of coconut oil, combine the coconut oil, agave nectar, and vanilla extract. Stir once and then pour over the spelt mixture. Gently mix together.

4- Add the hot water and again gently mix until it’s combined (try not to over mix spelt flour).

5- Fold the chocolate chips and the raspberries into the batter. Use a 1/4 cup measure to spoon batter onto a parchment-lined baking sheet (to ensure that the scones will be the same size). Bake the scones for 15-20 minutes or until they are golden brown on top. These kept well in an air tight container for 3-4 days. I stored mine in the fridge and heated them in the microwave before eating. They taste great with fresh raspberry jam, if you have any on hand.

*If you missed my version of ginger peach scones, find the recipe here.

Vegan Coconut Macaroons In Four Flavors and the Thanksgiving of Ten Desserts

 Coconut macaroons 2 Coconut macaroons 3 Coconut macaroons 1

 About two Thanksgivings ago I ate ten desserts in that one day. Yes, I admit it. It happened and I certainly didn’t feel good afterwards, but the eating part was so wonderful I just couldn’t stop myself. I shoved my mouth full of my grandma’s ricotta cheesecake, pumpkin and apple pies, as well as many different types of cookies and cake. Now, I know that ten sounds like a lot, but I’m a grazer by nature. I like to nibble on lots of different types of foods. It wasn’t like I just plowed through ten full size desserts, though I must admit, that would be impressive. Really, what led me to eating my plateful(s) of mini-sized desserts and what also let me to bake four versions of coconut macaroons is my indecisiveness.

Who could make just one version? Certainly not me. Nope, I needed to make four and I’m sure I ate nearly half of them myself. I mean when you bring these things to a function (and they’re the only dessert there you can eat), you’re going to devour a bunch of them just because of how delicious they are. These macaroons hit the spot (all four versions). They were lightly crunchy on the outside and oh so moist on the inside. The citrus macaroons were refreshing, while on the other hand, the chocolate and chocolate chip ones were decadent. You choose or don’t and make multiple types of macaroons like I did (I certainly didn’t regret it, especially since these aren’t all that bad for you).

Coconut macaroons 4

Coconut macaroons:

*Adapted from the Coconut Macaroon Thumbprint Recipe found on Oh She Glows

*Makes 16-18 macaroons

Ingredients for citrus macaroons:

1 1/2 cups unsweetened finely shredded coconut

1 cup of almond flour/meal

1/4- 1/2 tsp of fine sea salt

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup of coconut butter, melted (I used Earth Balance Coconut Spread) *this is not the same as coconut oil

1/2 lemon juiced or 1 lime juiced (depending on the flavor you want)

zest of 1 lemon or lime, depending on the flavor you choose

Ingredients for chocolate and chocolate chip macaroons: 

1 1/2 cups unsweetened finely shredded coconut

1 cup of almond flour/meal

1/4- 1/2 tsp of fine sea salt

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup of coconut butter, melted (I used Earth Balance Coconut Spread) *this is not the same as coconut oil

1 tsp of vanilla extract

2 tbsp of mini chocolate chips or regular chocolate chips, chopped

*for the chocolate version add 4 tbsp of cocoa powder and 1 tbsp extra of maple syrup and top with cacao nibs (optional)

Method (same for all recipes): 

1- Preheat the oven to 275 degrees and cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Then combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Whisk them together. Then add in the syrup, the melted coconut oil, and any citrus juice or vanilla extract. Mix well. *If you are creating the chocolate version – add the extra maple syrup and the cocoa powder now.

2- Fold in the chocolate chips if creating the chocolate or chocolate chip macaroons. Then use a medium sized-melon baller to create even sized macaroons. Space them evenly apart on the cookie sheet (they don’t need too much room in between because they don’t spread at all).

3- Bake them for 20-22 minutes. They should be slightly crisp on the outside when you pull them out. Let them cool completely before serving (though I’m sure they would taste good warm too). Top the citrus macaroons each with a pinch of fresh zest.

These were delicious. I wouldn’t have made them if there wasn’t a special occasion because otherwise I would have eaten them all on my own. They were that good.

The Ultimate Comfort Food: Whole Grain Spelt Pancakes

Spelt pancakes

Is there ever a bad time for pancakes? Growing up, I remember my mom cooking them for breakfast for dinner. It always felt like such a treat having the fluffy white cakes for dinner. I would squeeze as much imitation maple syrup as I could on top of my short stack and immediately begin mopping up the syrup with small bites of pancake. After all of that eating, I would just sit, feeling the heaviness of the food-induced coma I’d put myself in.

So many delicious pancake based memories. These are one food that brings a wave of nostalgia over me, as I stand in front of my glass top stove cooking them. For me, this is one reason I consider these comfort food.

I also find comfort in their ability to provide choices. Are they a dinner food or a breakfast food? Or are they a late night snack? I can add blueberries, bananas, apple slices, or chocolate chips and each version is delicious. I could stuff myself full or store the rest in the refrigerator until tomorrow. So many simple decisions that all lead to a wonderful tasting breakfast treat.

For this batch of pancakes, I chose to make half as blueberry pancakes and the other half as banana-chocolate chip pancakes. Neither was a disappointment to the taste buds. My personal favorite was the banana cakes, but I’m a sucker for anything with chocolate. The fiancee preferred blueberry.

This was the first time I’d made pancakes using spelt flour. I noticed they were a bit more delicate than normal wheat pancakes (note: be gentle when flipping) and denser than pancakes made from white flour (but also so much more nutritious). Personally, these were the best pancakes I’ve tried in a while. This recipe will be bookmarked and made often. Another recipe I’d like to try is Somer’s recipe for the fluffiest maple buttermilk pancakes she posted on her blog Vedged Out.

Whole Grain Spelt Pancakes:

*Recipe adapted from the Whole Grains Council  recipe for simple spelt pancakes

*Serves 2-3

Ingredients:

2 cups whole spelt flour

2 tbsp sucanat (or another sweetener of your choice)

1 tbsp baking powder

3/4 tsp of fine grain sea salt

1 3/4 cups of nut milk

2 tbsp of coconut oil, melted

2 tsp of vanilla

*for blueberry pancakes add 1/2 cup of blueberries and 1/2 tsp of cinnamon

*for banana-chocolate chip pancakes add 1/4 cup of vegan chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of diced bananas to the batter – then place banana slices on the uncooked side of the pancakes when they are cooking and begin to bubble (they don’t bubble as much as normal pancakes do)

Spelt pancakes 2

Method:

1- Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt to a bowl. Whisk the ingredients together. Then add the nut milk, the melted coconut oil, and the vanilla. Let the batter sit for about 15 minutes (this allows it to thicken up and creates a fluffier pancake). After they rest for about 15 minutes, add in the other ingredients if you’re making blueberry or banana-chocolate chip pancakes.

2- Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add a tiny bit of coconut oil so the pancakes won’t stick. Use a 1/4 cup measure to spoon the pancake batter into the pan (this will create even sized pancakes). Don’t flip the pancakes until they begin to bubble around the edges or it seems like the cake is beginning to set. This took about five minutes of cooking that first side before flipping, but the recipe I used said it could also be 2-3 minutes (probably depending on the pan and heat setting used). Add banana slices before flipping (optional).

3- The second side should only take 1-2 minutes to cook. Serve immediately with your favorite condiments.

I’m convinced that if you make these pancakes, soon after your plate will look like this…

Spelt pancakes 3

You Pick: Almond Joy or Apricot-Chocolate Overnight Oats

Overnight oats 1

Since I’ve given up eating almond joys (and all foods that aren’t plant-based), it seems like  those little chocolate covered coconut bars have hijacked my thoughts. So far, I’ve made my own raw version of the candy bar (from a delicious recipe I found on Rawmazing) and almond joy flavored popcorn. Now I’m adding almond joy overnight oats to the list. Where will my pursuit of almond and coconut flavored foods end? I’m not quite sure, but I don’t think I’ve reached my recipe limit yet using both of those flavors. They are a timeless combination.

Aside from a recipe for almond joy flavored oatmeal, you’ll also find a recipe for apricot-chocolate overnight oats. It was inspired by one of my other favorite chocolate treats, which are dark chocolate covered apricots. My mouth is watering just thinking of them. If you’re anything like me, then you take no shame in having your dessert for breakfast. These recipes remind me of some of my favorite chocolate treats, but with a healthy (guilt-free) twist.

Overnight oats 2

Almond Joy and Apricot-Chocolate Overnight Oats: 

*Both recipes serve 1

Almond Joy Oatmeal Ingredients:

1/2 cup of rolled oats (GF or regular)

1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk

1 tbsp of ground flax seed

1 1/2 tsp of coconut sugar (or some other sweetener) *add more if needed

1/2 tsp of vanilla extract

2 tbsp of unsweetened finely shreded coconut

1 tbsp of cacao nibs

1 tbsp of slivered almonds

Apricot Chocolate Oatmeal Ingredients:

1/2 cup of rolled oats (GF or regular)

1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk

1 tbsp of ground flax seed

1 1/2 tsp of coconut sugar (or some other sweetener) *add more if needed

1/2 tsp of vanilla extract

1 tbsp of unsweetened finely shreded coconut

1 tbsp of cacao nibs

4 apricots, diced

Method: 

1- Mix the rolled oats, almond milk, flax seed, sugar, and vanilla extract together the night before you want to eat the oatmeal. Then put it into the fridge in an airtight container or covered with plastic wrap.

2- The morning of, add the rest of the ingredients and enjoy! You can eat it cold or warm it up (I ate mine cold).

I am happy I’ve found a way to enjoy oatmeal even in the summer months. The consistency is not quite the same as hot oatmeal, but it was still delicious!

Quick Pomegranite and Cacao Nib Oatmeal

cacao nib oatmeal

Forgive me if you disagree, but food is not just about flavor. It is about so much more than just taste. It’s also about aroma, texture, and presentation. This week, I popped my pomegranate arils cherry, so to speak. The arils were slightly sweet tasting, with a tart edge. What I enjoyed most, was how beautiful these cranberry-colored pomegranate pieces stood out visually. They provided a burst of both color and flavor.

I first tried them in a curly kale salad. I based my salad ingredients on both veghotpot‘s recent purple kale salad recipe and one by Running With Tweezers, which veghotpot linked to in her post. They added a crunchy texture to the salad, along with a tarte flavor, which was balanced out by the mildness of pine nuts I added.

After my first experience with eating pomegranate arils, I started to wonder what else could I use these little fruit covered seeds for. Not soon after I searched google hungrily looking for new recipes, did I find a blog post about overnight oatmeal with cacao nibs and pomegranate. I couldn’t resist making something else with my new cranberry-colored food obsession. Below, you’ll find my interpretation of Oh My Veggies original recipe for cacao nib and pomegranate overnight oats.

Ingredients for quick pomegranate and cacao nib oatmeal:

* Adapted from Oh My Veggies original recipe for cacao nib and pomegranate overnight oats

*Serves 1

1/2 cup of quick cooking oats

a pinch of salt (1/8 of a tsp or less)

1 tsp of maple syrup

1/4 tsp of vanilla extract

1 1/2 tsp of almond milk

1 tbsp of unsweetened coconut flakes (you can easily omit this ingredient if you don’t have coconut)

1 tsp of vegan chocolate chips or vegan chocolate, chopped

2 tbsp pomegranate arils

1 tsp of cacao nibs (I used Navitas Naturals brand)

Method: 

Heat 1 cup of water over medium-high heat in a covered pot. When the water begins to boil, add the quick cooking oats. Turn the heat down to medium-low as you continuously stir the oats for 3-5 minutes.

When the oats have thickened to the consistency of your preference, turn off the heat and stir in the maple syrup, vanilla extract, almond milk, and unsweetened coconut flakes. Then, gently fold in the chocolate bits (not the cacao nibs). Top with the pomegranate arils and cacao nibs.

As I’ve been on an oatmeal kick, as of recently, this version satisfied my oatmeal craving and included a balance of enticing flavors and textures. I’ll leave you with the words, more please.

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