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

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Carb hangover? Nevermore.

What is your biggest food temptation; the food that you know you shouldn’t eat, but it tastes so heavenly you could just forget yourself and enjoy one moment of pure tastebud pleasure?  My greatest love is dark chocolate, but since cacao is a superfood full of wonderful and incredible nutrients, I don’t bother about feeling guilty about consuming it.  So, if I’m not talking about chocolate, what could possible be such a big food temptation for me?  (Little hint: I want to visit this country, not for the gondolas, for the food).

Okay, that was a big hint, but you’re right, I’m talking about Italian food.  Do you love pasta as much as I do?  Oh my goodness, I can honestly say that I have never eaten an Italian dish I didn’t adore.  Fettucine alfredo, bowtie pasta, eggplant parmesan, the bread, gelato, do I really need to go on?  Unfortunately, Italian food can also be extremely fattening with loads of cream, cheese, and white flour.  Have you ever experienced a carb hangover from eating too much pasta?  I know I have.  You know, that bloated, heavy, uncomfortable feeling?  Now, I’m a huge believer in everything in moderation and the last thing I believe in is deprivation, but it’s so hard for me to restrain myself when it comes to pasta, so I have to be careful.

Now if I hadn’t had the skinnyfat mind makeover, I probably wouldn’t believe that it was possible to make Italian food delicious and healthy,  but now I’ve learned that whole, real nutrient-dense food can actually be way more delicious than the alternative.  Prime example? The best lasagna I’ve ever eaten.

To begin with…

These whole wheat lasagna noodles from Target have one ingredient.  ONE!  Whole wheat seminola.  That’s it and it’s looking like a pretty good start. 

Next you have fresh mushrooms (I’ve used shiitake mushrooms, which I like the best).

Grind or chop these up and moving on.  Next chop up fresh oregano, fresh basil, fresh spinach, fresh kale… Do you notice a theme here? 

Of course, you’ll also need cheese and tomato sauce.  I used half Daiya non-dairy cheese (If you haven’t tried Daiya, it’s the best non-dairy cheese out there and Target has it!) and half Italian blend cheese.  For my tomato sauce I used an organic garden vegetable marinera sauce, also from Target.

With all these delicious and wholesome ingredients, all that’s left to do is layer your lasagna! 

I always layer the bottom of an oiled casserole dish with the sauce first then the noodles.  On top of the first layer of noodles I put more sauce, then I put a thick layer of kale and spinach.

Then add your ground mushrooms, cheese, and sprinkle your fresh oregano and basil on top of the cheese.  Now layer and layer until you cannot fit anymore in!  On the very top layer I only put the layer of sauce, cheese, oregano, and basil.

Bake the lasagna at 375 for about 30 minutes until the noodles are soft and the cheese is melted.

Here is the whole recipe:

  • Whole wheat lasagna noodles
  • Tomato sauce
  • Cheese
  • Fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • Fresh oregano, chopped
  • Fresh basil, chopped
  • Fresh kale, chopped
  • Fresh spinach, chopped

I have been eating this all week and every day at work someone has commented on how good it smells.  Don’t tell anyone, but it tastes even better.

~Elesha, a skinnyfat girl

Kookoo for Coconut

Because the days of being kookoo for Cocoa Puffs are long gone.  In fact, most breakfast cereals offer the body a whole lotta nothin’ to be crazy about. Enriched flour? Check. Multiple forms of corn? Check. Giant list of chemicals, preservatives, and additives? Check, check, check. Oh yeah, don’t forget sugar – lots of it. Obviously going kookoo for coconut makes a whole lot more sense (it being a superfood and all). Clearly it’s not a cereal substitute, but it IS a marvelous milk substitute.

I will do my best to contain my over-the-top enthusiasm for homemade coconut milk and spare you an abundance of capital letters and exclamation points  going on in my brain when I think about it. Besides, any attempt at a description is futile because it is quite simply TOO DELICIOUS FOR WORDS. I could tell you all kinds of good ways to use it, but who am I kidding? The best thing to do with coconut milk is drink it in it’s pure and perfect form. In my humble opinion, pouring it over cereal or adding it to a recipe would be a waste of the most delectable nectar known to mankind. I have never been one to drink a glass of milk by itself, but now I’m a complete addict. I’m hooked on the stuff. My name is Becky and I’m a milkaholic. Cocoholic?

Apparently my over-the-top enthusiam cannot be silenced.

The recipe is simple, as you only need 2 – 3 ingredients: coconut, water, and sweetener, if desired. But simple does not mean easy, and this simple recipe takes me over an hour to make, but it’s totally worth it. I realize there are plenty of coconut milk options out there. I tried the So Delicious brand and it straight up tasted like water. Silk coconut milk is tasty, but also contains many foreign, hard-to-pronounce ingredients. As you know, I really try to avoid those.

So, if you’re willing to put in the effort, you’ll be rewarded with the most incredible coconut milk you’ve ever tasted.

Homemade Coconut Milk (of the gods)

Ingredients:
2 coconuts
Water
Sweetener of choice (optional)

Tools:
Hole-poking device
Hammer
Sharp Spoon
Blender
Mesh Strainer
Pitchers/Containers/Bowls (to strain the milk into)
Cheesecloth or Paper Towel (optional)

Step 1 (and quite possibly the most important step): Choose two of the heaviest and lightest-colored coconuts you can find. Shake them; the more juice you hear sploshing about, the better. Coconut selection is a tricky business because it can look perfectly fine on the outside and be completely rotten on the inside. Coconuts are not a commonly purchased grocery item, meaning they can easily sit on the shelf for months without anyone realizing they’re bad. Case in point:

They just LOOK innocent. Upon cracking them, I found one to be orange and gooey, another black and moldy, and the last one was pure white...and pure alcohol.

Step 2: Drain the coconut water into a container. There are three little spots at the top of the coconut; one of them is softer than the others and you can easily poke a hole through it. Cool, right? I never knew this until my Colombian husband informed me of it. Americans need to get more familiar with coconuts. The hole-poking may take some creativity on your part. I’ve been using a kabob skewer! Oh, and it’s okay if the water has little bits and pieces of stuff in it because you’re going to strain it later.

Step 3: Break open the coconuts. This is the most fun part of the milk-making process. I like to tie each of them in a plastic bag and throw it at the sidewalk with all the strength I can muster. After it’s broken, go at the pieces with a hammer until they’re all smaller and more manageable.

Step 4: Remove the meat from the shell. This is harder than it sounds. I take a sharp spoon, dig, and pry. I’ve read online that you can steam the coconut and it will separate from the shell, but I’ve yet to try it out. I used to peel off the light brown skin but found that it lengthened the process and didn’t make a difference in the flavor.

Step 5: Put half of the coconut pieces in the blender and cover with the reserved coconut water. Blend very, VERY thoroughly. Be patient, your ultimate goal here is a liquid. And remember that the longer you blend, the more flavor will be extracted from the coconut meat. Then, strain the coconut mixture into a bowl. Press with a spoon to get all of the liquid out, leaving the coconut fluffy and dry.

Step 6: Put the fluffy meat back in the blender and cover with drinking water. Add sweetener, to taste, if you like. I use a little bit of Stevia. Blend thoroughly a second time and repeat the straining process. Repeat the blend, strain, blend, strain process with the other half of your coconut pieces.

Step 7 (optional): Transfer the dry coconut meat to a cheesecloth or strong paper towel, wrap tightly, and squeeze out every last drop of milk. This is not necessary, but I like to get the most milk that I possibly can.


You can use the leftover coconut in pancakes, muffins, or other baked goods, but it usually ends up sitting in my fridge unused, so I’ve stopped saving it.



I made a little over half a gallon with two coconuts. Remember that because this milk contains no strange additives or preservatives, it will separate and small clumps will form. Stir before drinking and enjoy the clumps – they’re smooth, buttery, and my very favorite part. Chill before serving and sip to your heart’s content. Or guzzle. Either way, embrace your new addiction.

Enjoy!

~Becky, a coconutty skinnyfat girl

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