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

Crunchy Pecan Granola

Happy New Year! I hope you all enjoyed the holidays as much as I did. I’ve definitely got a bad case of the after-Christmas blues, especially after taking down my tree today. Well, technically I just moved it, fully lit and decorated, out of the living room and into the second bathroom that we never EVER use. Why spend hours taking a tree apart and putting it back together? When Christmas rolls around again, decorating will be a cinch! I think it’s a brilliant plan. Plus, if ever I’m in a bad mood I can simply draw up a hot bath in the old bathroom, plug in the tree, and listen to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”. It’ll be Christmas all year round in there!

Has everyone made their resolutions? I have quite a few, so I’ll just share a couple of them. More than anything, I want to continue to live a healthy lifestyle and be more committed to nutrition and daily exercise. Some others: Learn to drive stick. Develop lots of new recipes. Learn how to use my camera. Practice calligraphy. Learn to sew. Figure out what I’m going to do with the rest of my life. Blog more. Buy a bicycle. Oh yes, and stop hanging every darn thing on the refrigerator! It’s getting ridiculous.

Oh, and lastly, eat more waffles. My mom got me a Belgian waffle maker for Christmas, so look out; I’ve already named 2012 ‘The Year of the Waffle’. We’ve had them for breakfast twice already this year and it’s only January 2. I would hate for the world to end and have the regret of not eating enough waffles. I promise to post my recipe once I perfect it. Yesterday’s waffles weren’t so great, but today’s….mmm boy! They’re whole wheat, vegan, and use soy milk curdled with apple cider vinegar! Doesn’t that sound tasty? 😉

Now, about this granola: it’s without a doubt the best granola I’ve ever tasted. I gave it to some friends for Christmas and they all loved it, too. My husband says we could sell the stuff. I got the recipe from one of my dearest friends, who got it from her sister, who adapted it from a recipe she found…somewhere. The only trouble I see with it is that some of the ingredients, namely the coconut oil, pecans, and coconut palm sugar, are rather expensive and may not be something you have on hand or want to splurge on. While I do suggest sticking to the recipe if possible (because it’s perfection), you can make substitutions if necessary: other nuts of your choice for the pecans, butter, a butter alternative, or canola oil for the coconut oil, and a darker sweetener (such as brown sugar or sucanat) for the coconut palm sugar. Also note that the wheat germ can be omitted if you don’t have any, and oat bran is easily made by blending rolled oats into a coarse flour in a coffee grinder or food processor.

Crunchy Pecan Granola

Ingredients:
6 cups rolled oats
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/3 cup coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup oat bran
1/4 cup ground flax meal
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (optional, I love them!)
1 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup molasses, honey, or agave

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients together.

 2. Whisk the oil and molasses together and add to the oat mixture. Mix well.

3. Divide the oat mixture onto two baking sheets and spread evenly. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, stirring all the way down to the bottom of the pan every 10 minutes or so. Bake longer if you prefer darker, crunchier granola. Let cool and serve.

Granola is one of my favorite things to eat for breakfast (besides waffles). I especially love it with Greek yogurt and chopped fruit for a delicious and healthy breakfast parfait. If eating healthy is one of your resolutions this year, make sure to eat breakfast; it’s the most important meal of the day!

I topped this parfait with banana, shredded coconut, and homemade blackberry sauce. What tasty additions do you put on your parfait?

~ Becky, a skinnyfat girl

A Skinnyfat Halloween: Pumpkins, Monsters, and Homemade Candy

Happy Halloween! We’ve already had a partially Halloween themed post already, but now it’s time for the full-fledged version.

Earlier this week, Becky and I had one of our weekly Beckesha fun fests.  I drove out to her neck of the woods and we had basil mozzarella avocado paninis and pumpkin spice gelato at Pinocchio’s, a cute little cafe we’ve grown to love. After that, we decided to stop by the store to buy supplies to make our very own homemade peanut butter cups and peppermint patties.  It just so happened that located at the front of the store were the cutest pumpkins ever.  We couldn’t resist.

Once we got back to Becky’s place we began to set in motion what turned out to be quite an adventurous, and at times terrifying, evening.

First, we mixed together the ingredients for the chocolate layers (cocoa powder, coconut oil, vanilla, honey, and agave nectar).  Then we poured the first thin layer of chocolate in the the mini muffin cups.

We put them in the freezer to harden and decorated our pumpkins. They’re probably the cutest couple I’ve ever seen.

I was amazed at how fast the chocolate solidified; it seemed like barely 10 minutes and they were ready for the next layer. The peanut butter layer consists of peanut butter (hello, obvious) and agave nectar.  The mint layer is coconut oil (solid, not melted), stevia, and mint extract.  It sounds too simple doesn’t it?  Use your fingers or a spoon to spread the mint layer onto your mint chocolate cups and the peanut butter layer to your peanut butter cups.

As you can see, we used melted coconut oil, which turned out to be a big hassle. Trust me, use solid coconut oil and save yourself some trouble. We put them back into the freezer and Becky made us each a cup of chai tea.  While I was enjoying the first sips of my tea, I heard a blood curdling scream from behind me.

Becky had her hands over her mouth in horror.  When I went to see what she was looking at, I saw the most terrifying sight.  There, waving his evil claws, was the scariest scorpion I have ever seen!

Of course, at this point I, too, began jumping up and down and shrieking in horror.  Chai tea, peanut butter cups, and mint chocolate cups forgotten, Becky and I attempted to calm ourselves down enough to formulate a plan to destroy the evil in our midst.  I have had great success in the past in killing evil insects by throwing phone books at them (seriously), but we didn’t have a phone book.  The next idea was to try to scare him from out of the oven burner and smash him with a shoe.  This idea was quickly vetoed as neither Becky or I had the nerve to try to chase him down.  Then I had the brilliant idea to cover the burner with a pot to prevent his escape and to fry him.  Maybe we were not in our right minds, but frying seemed like the best option at this point.

Pot in place, we cranked the burner up as high as it would go on until we smelled burning. We turned the oven off and each of us tried to build up the nerve to lift the pot, expecting to see a black, crispy scorpion.  We were still terrified and persuaded Becky’s hubby to lift the pot.

Our nemesis was nowhere to be found.

He’d disappeared. Vanished into thin air.  Becky and I stood frozen in shock and fear for a few minutes until we regained some of our composure. We reasoned that he must have fled into the stovetop the moment things got uncomfortably warm and there was nothing else we could do. We agreed to try and forget about the monster for the time being and got back to our chocolates.

We took them out of the freezer, poured the last layer of chocolate on top, and put them back in the freezer to harden the final layer. We finished our chai while discussing the very real possibility of the giant scorpion taking up permanent residence in Becky’s stovetop. After about 10 minutes, the last chocolate layer had solidified and we bit into the most decadent and wonderful chocolate candies ever! Any fear or unhappiness caused by demon scorpion was forgotten and replaced with blissful chocolate pleasure.

They even have creepy spikey edges.  If this isn’t the perfect Halloween treat, I don’t know what is.

Here is the recipe so that you can make these treats too.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups and Peppermint Patties
Adapted from this recipe
Note: we doubled this recipe and ended up with about 25 cups

Chocolate Layer:
1/3 c  coconut oil
1/4 c cocoa powder (we used dark)
2 T agave (or honey, we used a combo)
1/2 t vanilla (do NOT omit)
Pinch sea salt

Peanut Butter Layer:
Combine peanut butter and agave (or honey) until you like how it tastes. Really, it’s that easy.

Mint Layer:
1/3 cup solid coconut oil
1 T stevia blend (or sweeten to taste)
1/4 t mint extract (or more, if you really like  mint!)

Instructions: To make the chocolate, melt the coconut oil in the microwave and mix thoroughly with all other ingredients. Stir frequently, as the agave tends to settle to the bottom. Pour a thin chocolate layer into the bottoms of mini muffin cups. Freeze for about 10 minutes, until solid. Remove and cover with a peanut butter or mint layer. Freeze for about 20 – 40 minutes, until solid. Remove and cover with a final layer of chocolate and freeze until solid, about 10 more minutes. Remove and enjoy! Store in the freezer.

(NOTE: Although these are technically “frozen”, they do not taste like a frozen treat. You’ll be able to eat them like regular peanut butter cups or peppermint patties, but remember that if you leave them out for too long they’ll get melty).

In case you were wondering, the monster did not reappear before I left. He’s still out there, biding his time, plotting his revenge.  I know I’ll be watching my back, and Becky sleeps with one eye open.  He’s sly, this one.

~Elesha, a skinnyfat girl

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