Goji Cacao Bites

I know you’ve missed me. I’m sorry I’ve been spending very little time with you lately, it’s just I’ve gotten so busy with work and other obligations…I know, a pathetic excuse. The only way left to show you how sorry I am is with chocolate.

All is forgiven? Fantastic! I knew you couldn’t stay mad at me for long.

I’ll get the cons of this recipe out of the way, if you want to call them that. The first thing you should know is that these little guys need to stored in the fridge or freezer, or this happens:

Granted, these were sitting outside in 95 degree temperatures for several minutes while I took pictures. They won’t melt like that in your house (unless your house is 95 degrees, and I’ve been there…), but they will definitely soften. Coconut oil is not to be trusted and will melt at just above room temperature, so these must be cold. The great part is that they don’t taste or feel very cold, even if stored in the freezer. Even when “frozen” they’re still soft quite an enjoyably edible texture, almost just like a cool, firm but melty inside of Lindt chocolate truffle, only…different. Apparently it’s all very hard for me to describe accurately, so it’s probably best if you try it out for yourself.

Second “con” of this recipe: ingredients. If you want these to be superfood chocolate bites, you need to have actual superfoods on hand. And they’re not cheap, either. Organic raw cacao powder, organic dried goji berries, and raw, unfiltered, local honey are all classified as superfoods, meaning they’re chock-full of crazy nutritional power! However, their inexpensive, processed alternatives (baking cocoa powder, dried cranberries, processed honey) are on the opposite end of the superfood spectrum and contain little or no nutritional benefits. I don’t know about you, but I want the power! That’s the whole point of these babies! Coconut oil is irreplaceable, too (and full of health benefits). If you don’t believe me, try using olive oil and you’ll see what I mean.

It’s all pros after that. These will satisfy any chocolate craving and are just bursting with all kinds of amazing nutrients. If you’ve already invested in some of these superfoods and were wondering what to do with them, well, it’s Becky to the rescue! And did I mention that these are super simple to whip up? I think you’ll agree that it feels great to feed your sweet tooth (or chocoholism) with something so wonderfully healthy!

Don’t believe that chocolate can be so incredibly good for you? Check out some the health benefits of raw honey, raw cacao, and goji berries. And though not technically a superfood, cashews are mighty good for you, too!

Let the chocolate-eating commence.

 Goji Cacao Bites

1/3 cup virgin coconut oil
1/3 cup raw cacao powder
2 T raw, local honey
3 T chopped raw cashews (I love them salted for this recipe)
3 T chopped dried goji berries
1/4 t pure vanilla extract
1/8 t pure stevia powder (or more, for added sweetness. If you don’t have stevia, add more honey if it’s not sweet enough for you)
1 T raw coconut butter (optional, keeps it from getting melty longer)
A few cranks of sea salt (optional – a must for me!)

Heat the coconut oil and coconut butter (if using) in the microwave until just melted. Stir in the cacao powder, honey, vanilla, stevia and sea salt until smooth. Pour into some sort of mold – I used an ice cube tray for the first batch and mini cupcake liners for the second (you may notice a lack of cashews in the second batch because, unfortunately, I ran out). I also poured some into a plastic dish shaped like a candy bar and now have a big ol’ chocolate bar in the fridge. Awesome. Sprinkle on the goji berries and cashews, put them in the freezer, and let harden for at least an hour. You now have a week’s worth of healthy chocolate for whenever the craving hits! JOY!

The plan is the get back to our regularly scheduled programming around here. As I mentioned, both Elesha and I have been insanely busy lately, and something very exciting has happened: I got a new job! What’s even more exciting about it is that Elesha is the one who informed me about the job opening and we now both work at the same law firm! It’s awesome to work for the same company, even if we are in different cities. We talk and email constantly and see each other at least once a week – it’s great! We’ll keep you posted on what’s going on behind the scenes. We’re apologize for our absence and hope you’ll stick around – there’s more to come! In the meantime, be healthy and eat your chocolate. 🙂

~ Becky, a skinnyfat girl

Advertisements

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

It’s finally that time of year! The time of year when you decorate your home with dead leaves. The time of year for hot tea, acorns, sweaters, and pumpkins. The time of year when you can throw everything that’s been sitting in your fridge all summer into the crock pot before bed and have a magical soup ready in the morning. Yep, that time of year: soup season!

For the record, I encourage you not to put three-month-old ingredients into your next soup. Or any soup, ever. What I meant was that a good soup can be made from almost any vegetable known to man – except for  brussel sprouts. Those things just shouldn’t even be eaten in the first place. Yes, you heard me, I don’t like brussel sprouts. Hey, it’s not written somewhere that I have to like every single vegetable, okay?!?

Lots of recent blog browsing has led me to the conclusion that I’m not the only one who appreciates this season of hot, liquid food. In fact, I blame other bloggers for my current soup obsession. I found a wonderfully simple and delicious-looking tomato soup recipe that I plan on testing out over the weekend. But it was Elle’s post that gave me the idea of concocting a butternut squash soup recipe, and Lauren’s post sealed the deal – it was butternut squash soup or bust!

The thing I love most about butternut squash is that it doesn’t taste like butter or nuts but tastes delicious with both of those flavors. It’s almost as if the guy who named the squash was suggesting that it be combined with nuts and butter, so I followed his advice. I wish he could taste my soup and I could thank him for his brilliant suggestion, because I am confident that this soup will make it into the Soup Hall of Fame. Oh, it’s a real place – or at least it will be after I build it to ensure that this soup is remembered for eternity. You’re witnessing history, people!

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped
1/2 large sweet onion, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 large celery stalks, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, pressed
Olive oil
4 – 6 cups vegetable broth
1.5 cups cashew cream
3 T butter substitute (I used Smart Balance)
Seasonings to taste (I used salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper)

Step 1: Roughly chop all veggies. This is a creamy soup, so nothing needs to be neat or bite-size – it’s all going in the blender. Saute the onion, carrot, celery,  and garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat.

Step 2: While the veggies are getting soft, prepare your cashew cream. You will need to plan ahead and cover 2 – 3 cups of cashews with water and let them soak overnight in the fridge. After soaking for at least 12 hours, rinse the cashews and cover with fresh water in the blender. The less water you use, the thicker the cream will be. Blend for at least 2 minutes until smooth.

I ended up adding more water to this because it was too thick.


Step 3: Don’t get so preoccupied with your cream that you forget your veggies are on the stove. Then you’ll have to start all over. 😦


Step 4: When veggies are soft (but NOT burnt), add the squash and the butter alternative. Remember to stir frequently so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot or burns. You can add more olive oil if necessary.

Step 5: Let everything cook until the squash is soft and falling apart. When all the veggies are very tender, scoop them into the blender. Add a portion of the vegetable broth and a portion of the cashew cream to the blender with the veggies and blend until smooth. Pour into a bowl and set aside. Repeat this process until all the veggies have been blended with all of the cream and broth.

Step 6: Wash your pot and put it back on the burner on low. Pour all of your smooth, creamy soup back into the pot and bring to a simmer (do not boil). Add salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. You can add other seasonings if you want to make it interesting, but the squash is so simple and flavorful that you probably won’t want to add much more to it. I actually added a teeny dash of pumpkin pie spice, mostly just to see if my husband would notice (he didn’t). Let simmer for 5 to 10 minutes and serve.

I added a dash of cayenne pepper for a little kick and an extra swirl of cashew cream. Parsley would be a nice garnish as well, but I didn't have any

My husband went absolutely crazy over this and ate two enormous bowlfuls. When my dad handed me his empty bowl he declared, “This soup is restaurant-worthy!”, but it was really hard to take him seriously with big orange globs dribbled all over his beard.

Pull on a sweater and enjoy a hot bowl of delicious, creamy butternut squash goodness. Then enjoy a second bowl, because it’s all vegetables and cashews, and it can’t get much healthier than that! This is what soup season’s all about.

EDIT: I made this again with Silk creamer and it was equally as tasty!

~Becky, a skinnyfat girl

%d bloggers like this: