Salted Chocolate Turtle Candy (vegan, SRC)

Chocolate turtle candies take me back to my childhood, and they remind me of my parents and most definitely my Papa. These chocolate caramel goodies are packed with buttery pecans and they transport me to family memories and holidays. They are our family go-to for Christmas stockings and are often included in gifts…and when turtles are in a variety chocolate box, they are the first to be picked.

Vegan turtlesThis version of our family favorite is not only free of refined sugars, it’s dairy-free, vegan, paleo-friendly and dare I say even better than the classic? Gasp! My grandpa would roll over in his grave if he heard me say that. Maybe it’s due to the fact that these candies are packed with healthy ingredients (and a short list at that!), but these homemade treats are the perfect ending to a meal or a fabulous afternoon pick-me-up, and they will make my tummy happy as well!

Vegan turtles pecans

I found this recipe at Anne’s delightful blog, Simple and Savory while browsing her site for this month’s Secret Recipe Club assignment. Anne is “my type of people”, she’s a holistic health coach, and is a huge advocate for making your own food as a key to health. You can find vegan, dairy free, gluten-free, and Paleo and all sorts of recipes on her site! I had a blast searching through her recipes and though I ultimately  chose her Chocolate Turtle Candy, I have tagged many for future experimentation including Anne’s Roasted Vegetables with Cashew Cheese Dip, Hasselback Pork Tenderloin and her Gluten-free Irish Soda Bread.

Vegan turtles no chocFor the turtles, I swapped out Sunbutter (sunflower seed butter) for the peanut butter since that’s what I had on hand, and opted for pecans as my nut choice. I prefer a contrast of bitter and sweet when it comes to chocolate so I used a 90% chocolate bar chopped up and it contrasted beautifully with the sweet dates. Lastly, I sprinkled a little sea salt flakes over the chocolate coating for that extra pow, and goodness these are scrumptious! No doubt that this recipe is a keeper, thanks Anne for the inspiration!

Vegan turtles1Salted Chocolate Turtle Candy (lightly adapted from Simple and Savory)
Gluten-free, Grain-free, Vegan, Dairy-free, Peanut-free, Paleo-friendly, Egg-free, Refined sugar-free, Soy-free, No-bake

Ingredients

3/4 cup walnut or pecan halves
12 medjool dates
1/2 Tbsp nut or seed butter (I used sunflower seed butter)
8 oz dark chocolate, chopped (homemade, or your favorite chocolate bar, or can use unsweetened if you really like the contrast of bitter and sweet with dates)
1/2 Tbsp coconut oil
sea salt flakes

Directions

  1. Place dates in the food processor and process for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes; until they form a ball (you may have to stop and scrap the sides down).
  2. Add the nut/seed butter to dates and process for 30 seconds until combined.
  3.  Remove date mixture from food processor and refrigerate atleast 30 minutes.
  4. Place pecan of walnut halves in a circle (about 3 pieces) on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  5. Remove date mixture from the fridge and roll into balls about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch in diameter and slightly flatten (see photo above). Flatten on top of the nut halves and refrigerate while chocolate is melting.
  6. In a double broiler, heat chocolate and coconut oil over low, stirring until melted.
  7. Remove chocolate from heat and spoon over the date and nut clusters. Sprinkle with sea salt and place back in fridge to harden. Enjoy and devour!!🙂

Vegan turtles biteFor other recipes from this month’s reveal, please click the link below!

August 14, 2016 at 10:00 pm 7 comments

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake for One (SRC)

Peanut butter is hands-down one of my comfort foods, but you add chocolate to the mix and it’s a soul-soother through and through. There’s no denying that sweets are the first thing I will reach for when I am stressed, tired, or sad so portion control is a huge win while whipping up something quick to satisfy my craving.

Enter this chocolate chip cookie cake..it was incredibly quick with melty dark chocolate chips and a hearty peanut butter punch, and I was transported to my foodie world where I found a little peace amongst the current chaos. While my world is changing in my personal life, job and my environment, I returned to the kitchen to find a little solace and peace. Chocolate and cookies have some magical healing powers🙂

For this month’s reveal for the Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned Rachel’s blog The Avid Appetite. She describes herself as “an avid food lover, pop culture fanatic, & jersey city enthusiast” while rockin’ a job and being a full-time mom and wife. I was set on making her Greek Layer Dip but couldn’t resist this Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookie Cake for One when dessert was on my brain. I’ll soon be trying this layered dip along with her drool-worthy Caramelized Potato and Parsnip Tart when cooler weather arrives and Gooey Chocolate Marshmallow Oat Bars that are reminiscent of indoor s’mores. Delish!

This cookie is very filling from the nut butter and oats and can be adjusted to suit your dietary preferences if needed, so there’s bonus points for adaptability! I made a few swaps to suit my allergies by using oat flour instead of wheat, coconut palm sugar for the Splenda and vanilla powder in lieu of extract. I threw in a pinch of sea salt and reduced the baking powder to 1/8 tsp as well. What a treat, I loved this cookie cake, thanks Rachel!

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookie for One (lightly adapted from the Avid Appetite)
Gluten-free, Grain-free option, Dairy-free, Refined-sugar free, Quick, Vegetarian, Vegan Option, Nut-free Option

Ingredients
1/2 Tbsp oat flour (or your favorite gluten-free blend or for grain-free/paleo substitute nut or seed flour)
1 Tbsp coconut palm sugar (or your favorite granulated sweetener)
2 Tbsp nut or seed butter* (I used crunchy peanut butter)
1 tbsp liquid egg whites or 3/4 tsp Ener-G egg replacer + 1 Tbsp water for egg-free (I have yet to try a chia or flax egg)
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp vanilla extract or 1/8 tsp vanilla powder
Tiny pinch of sea salt
1 Tbsp non-dairy dark chocolate chips or chocolate chunks
coconut oil for greasing

Directions
1. In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients except for chocolate chips/chunks.
2. Mix with a rubber spatula or spoon until well combined.
3. Gently stir in the chocolate chips and form a little mound with the dough.
4. On a microwave-safe dish, grease with coconut oil. Transfer the dough ball onto the dish and flatten into a patty. Microwave for 40-45 seconds depending on your microwave. Enjoy!

*I used crunchy peanut butter for the nut butter but you can use almond butter, cashew butter or hazelnut butter for paleo or substitute sunflower seed butter if you have a nut-allergy.

For other recipes from this month’s reveal, click the link below!

July 17, 2016 at 10:00 pm 10 comments

Baked Duck Eggs in Portobello Caps (SRC)

Have you ever eaten duck eggs? Wow, they have quickly become my new food love. I stumbled across some at our farmer’s markets as well as a local health food store and it’s been a game changer for me. After some allergy testing and an elimination diet, I discovered that I react to chicken egg whites and despite being briefly bummed, I sought out alternatives and experimented with egg-free versions of my favorite recipes. After duck eggs were discovered, my foodie world expanded once again.

Here are a few highlights of the beloved duck egg and why you might want to get your hands (and forks) on some if possible:

1. The yolk of a duck egg is much larger than one of a chicken egg – yum!
2. Duck egg shells are harder to get a clean crack and are much tougher than chicken eggs, creating a longer shelf life.
2. Nutritionally speaking, they have a higher fat content (good fat!), higher in protein than chicken eggs and contain more vitamins and minerals (such as iron, B12, folate) and Omega-3 fatty acids
4. Just take care not to overcook the whites of duck eggs, they contain more protein and therefore can become more rubbery if cooked too long.
5. The yolks have a richer, almost buttery flavor, most likely attributed to the higher fat content.
6. Duck eggs contain more albumen, which gives them more structure, thus creating a very light, fluffy, and rich baked good with a higher lift than those made with chicken eggs.
poached egg close2I’ve been searching for more breakfast options and was itching to try out my new duck eggs in a recipe…so when I spotted Amy’s recipe for Baked Eggs in Portobello Mushroom Caps, I was sold. This recipe was lightly adapted from Amy’s Savory Moments blog that I was assigned to this month for the Secret Recipe Club reveal! I swapped out the chicken eggs for ducks eggs, used green bell pepper instead of the grilled piquillo and served the dish with sliced avocado and fresh basil for a bit of freshness. I left out the cheese for allergy purposes but but I sure that would a lovely addition if you can eat it. In short, I loved this recipe! Not only does it provide a hearty serving of veggies to start the day, it’s flavorful, simple ingredient and adaptable!
I was excited to learn more about Amy, and her passion really resonates with me. She started blogging to document her “…growth and progress over time to better cooking and healthier eating …and encourage others to eat local, eat healthy, eat seasonally when possible, but also to enjoy food, cooking, and food culture.” YES! This speaks to my heart 100% so Amy and I share the same enthusiasm around food. Her Rhubarb BarsBrazilian Shrimp Stew, and Currant and Lemon Cornmeal Pancakes also had me drooling as I bookmarked these beauties for future experimentation🙂 Thanks for the delicious recipes! poached egg

Baked Eggs in Portobello Caps (adapted from Savory Moments recipe)
2 large portobello mushroom caps
2 duck eggs or 2 large chicken eggs
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp small diced onion
large handful of mixed greens or baby spinach (roughly 1 cup)
1/2 green bell pepper, small diced
about 1/3 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese or favorite non-dairy cheese (optional, I omitted)
pink Himalayan sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
paprika for garnishing
fresh avocado slices or guacamole for serving, optional
chopped fresh basil (or cilantro or parsley) for serving, optional
favorite fat or oil for cooking (coconut oil, olive oil or avocado oil)

Directions

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees and drizzle a bit of olive oil/fat in small baking dish. Wipe the dirt off your mushroom caps with a damp towel. Gently scrape the gills out from the underside of the mushrooms with a spoon. Place in the baking pan and drizzle a small amount of fat/oil on the mushrooms and a bit of black pepper. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the begin to get soft and shrink up a little.
  2. While mushrooms are baking, heat some fat/oil in a small pan and saute the garlic, green pepper and onions for about 2-3 minutes. Then add the spinach and cook until it’s wilted. Add some salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Remove mushrooms from the oven and lower oven temp to 325F.
  4.  Discard all juice inside mushroom caps and wipe out all juice out of the baking dish. Take a towel and gently press the inside of the mushrooms to get out any excess juice. Place the mushrooms (bottom/cup facing up) back into the baking dish. Put half of the spinach mixture into each mushroom, and sprinkle with cheese if using. Try to leave a “hole” in the center so there is room for the egg yolk.
  5. Carefully crack an egg on top of each mushroom. Sprinkle with some salt, pepper, paprika, and some extra cheese. Carefully place the baking dish back into the oven and bake for another 8-10 minutes, until the whites of the eggs are cooked and the yolk is set. Garnish with paprika and serve with avocado slices and fresh basil or favorite herbs (optional).

poached egg close1

For more recipes from this month’s reveal, click the link below!

June 19, 2016 at 10:00 pm 10 comments

Sunflower Seed and Chia Focaccia (Grain-free, Nut-free)

No matter what style of eating I’d adhere to, some form of bread will be made. I have a soft spot in my heart for all sorts of bread – from a soft, fluffy loaf or a nice crusty dinner roll to a pliable flatbread or pizza crust. Now that my allergy testing revealed that 99% of grains are an issue, it was time to try a grain-free bread recipe that was yeast-free and easy. This grain-free “faux-caccia”  hits the spot. It has a tender but chewy crumb with a bread-like  middle, and I love how you can taste the infusion of coconut oil…so pick the fat/oil that you enjoy the taste of and go with that.

sunflower seed chia focaccia 1

Instead of almond flour, coconut flour or another nut flour, I opted for this sunflower seed meal that I found online so it’s nut-free AND free of flax if that’s something you like to avoid. This sunflower seed meal isn’t overly fine yet I find that added a nice texture; I’m sure you could grind this meal even finer to a “flour” if that’s something you’d like to experiment with. If you don’t have sunflower meal, don’t fret – substitute your favorite nut flour and it’s should work perfectly.

This bread works with a savory flair but I think the addition of your favorite sweetener or dried fruits and sweet spices would complement the nutty flavor of the sunflower seed and chia as well. This bread is keto, paleo and candida-friendly, and it’s packed with healthy fats and fiber making it both satiating and flavorful. You can slice it in half, toast it and add your favorite sandwich fillings, slather it with your favorite spread, or use it to mop-up your favorite sauce in a main-dish. I’ve enjoyed this bread smothered with cashew cheese (recipe to come), fresh basil and smoky slow roasted tomatoes for a spin on a caprese appetizer, mmm. Enjoy! :) 
sunflower seed chia focaccia biteSunflower Seed and Chia Focaccia Bread (inspired by this recipe)
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Keto and Paleo Friendly, Nut-free, Dairy-free, Soy-free, Vegetarian, Candida-friendly, Sugar-free, Low-carb

3 cage-free, organic eggs*
1 tbsp unfiltered raw apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted (can use avocado oil or melted butter if you can tolerate dairy)
2 cups sunflower seed meal/flour (your favorite nut or seed meal can be substituted)
1/4 cup ground chia seed meal (can substitute flaxseed meal or more seed/nut flour) 
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

Optional Add-ins/Topping Ideas
fresh or dried rosemary, chopped
caramelized onions
sprinkle of coarse sea salt
ground cinnamon
chopped dried fruits (cranberries, apricots, etc)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 8×8 pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs well with vinegar. Add butter or coconut oil and whisk together until well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine sunflower seed meal/ flour, chia seed meal, salt and baking soda. whisk until well combined.
  4. Add flour mixture to egg mixture and mix until smooth (the batter will be really thick).
  5. Spread/press into a prepared baking pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown or toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes. Cut into 9 squares.

*You could add another egg if you want a lighter, more springy result but I enjoyed this as a hearty square

Note: This bread might have a green hue after baking but don’t worry it has not gone bad! Sunflower seeds contain chlorogenic acid, an antioxidant that gives the seeds the ability of turning green under certain conditions. When chlorogenic acid mixes with alkaline baking ingredients such as baking soda, it turns green. Chlorogenic acid may also slow the release of glucose into the bloodstream after a meal. This baked focaccia had a slight green hue since I didn’t use cream of tartar to neutralise the effect of the baking soda. To avoid the green effect in recipes that use baking soda and sunflower seeds or butter, add and ingredient to counteract the alkalinity of the dough. For this recipe, add a teaspoon of cream of tartar if you want to avoid the green color. 

sunflower seed chia focaccia

April 29, 2016 at 6:00 am Leave a comment

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