Quick-Fix Chocolate Almond Cake
Recipe Redux, March, 2016: 7 or less ingredient recipe
Some days, you just really need that quick-fix of chocolate, but you don’t want all that extra sugar. This Quick-Fix Chocolate Almond Cake recipe is sure to please, and even when you are in a real hurry. It takes only 6 ingredients to prepare, and cooks in less than 2 minutes in your microwave. Since it makes only 2 servings, you are not stuck wondering what to do a bunch of leftover cake pieces once your craving has been satiated. Sweetened with ripe banana and apple sauce, and not with processed sugar, you will feel good about what you are eating too.
You could make this whole recipe in one mug (all the rage these days). The up side to mugging it is you can mix and “bake” all in the same container. The down side to that method is that you will be tempted to eat it all yourself! (remember this recipe feeds two people).
Instead, I recommend using 2 silicone muffin cups for cooking. This way each serving size is obvious. Do lightly spray cups with olive oil before adding the batter so the cakes remove easily after baking.
The riper the banana, the sweeter the cake. I recommend using a banana that is very ripe for this recipe. Also, make sure to serve this cake alongside fresh fruit like berries. The tartness of raspberries pairs especially nicely with the chocolate.
To make your own easy sauce: add 1 cup fresh berries to a blender with a little squeeze of fresh lime juice and a tablespoon of honey or maple syrup.
Quick-Fix Chocolate Almond Cake
1/4 cup Almond flour
2 tablespoons Cocoa powder
1 medium Banana, ripe, mashed
3 tablespoons Apple sauce
2 teaspoons Coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon Vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, add the almond flour and cocoa powder and stir to mix. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine.
Lightly spray to silicone muffin cups with olive oil. Divide batter between the two cups. Microwave cakes together for 1 minute and 45 seconds on high heat. Allow cakes to rest 1-2 minutes before gently removing them from cups.
Serve with fresh berries, mint and/or berry sauce.
March is National Nutrition Month. One powerful, yet simple, way for many people to improve their diet is to include more veggies. The recommend goal is to consume 3 cups of veggies daily, yet the average American does not reach even half that amount.
Need to get in more veggies? This dish can deliciously help up your veggie intake throughout the week. It stores well in the refrigerator, and reheats easily in the microwave. With so many veggie varieties included, it’s a festival of color and flavor. Serve it as an entree or as a side to your favorite protein. Add a side of greens for an even better, balanced plate.
In this recipe I used fresh turmeric. While it is very delicious (with flavor kind of like a spicy carrot when eaten raw), working with fresh turmeric is messy, as it can stain things yellow. Wear gloves and use a cutting board that does not have much sentimental value to you when preparing it (unless you find the color yellow on everything appealing). If you cannot get fresh ginger and/or turmeric, then substitute with a teaspoon each of the dried spice versions. Add the spice(s) when you add the onions to the coconut oil at the start of cooking.
I prefer using fresh turmeric and ginger over their dried spice versions for several reasons. The depth of flavor is definitely greater in fresh turmeric and ginger than in the dried. Using the fresh root versions are also a safer bet when it comes to food allergies and intolerances. Depending on where and how processing is done, there is often risk of cross-contamination with possible allergens during manufacturing. Always read spice labels and/or check with manufacturers first before using spices in dishes prepared for someone with a food allergy or intolerance.
I love using coconut oil with lentils because lentil + coconut flavors are so amazing together. If you don’t have coconut oil, you can substitute it with olive oil instead.
The Garlic Chili Paste can be found in most grocery and specialty stores. Don’t have any on hand? Then use 1/2 teaspoon of chili pepper flakes and 1/4 teaspoon of salt as a replacement. Add the chili pepper flakes when you add the onions to the coconut oil, and add the salt the same time you add the lemon juice.
Try to cut the veggies into very small pieces, especially the sweet potato. The larger the dice, the longer you will have to cook the veggies to bring them to an al dente consistency.
1 pound Lentils, dried (about 2 cups)*
4 cups Vegetable stock, low-sodium*
1/4 cup Sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup Water
2 tablespoons Coconut oil
2 cups White onion, peeled, diced small
2 cups Sweet potato, peeled, diced small
1 1/2 cups Carrot, peeled, diced small
1 cup Celery, diced small
2 tablespoons Turmeric, fresh, peeled, minced
2 tablespoons Ginger, fresh, peeled, minced
3-4 cloves Garlic, peeled, minced
1 cup Scallion, minced
2 medium Lemons, zested and juiced
2 tablespoons Rice vinegar
2 tablespoons Tamari, low-sodium*
1 teaspoon Chili Garlic Sauce
3/4 cup Parsley, fresh, chopped
Add lentils and vegetable stock to a medium saucepan on high heat. Bring to boil, then simmer until lentils are softened, about 20-30 minutes. Set aside.
In a small bowl, add the dried tomato and water. Soak tomato for at least 15 minutes.
To a large wok over high heat add the coconut oil. Add the onions and saute 3 minutes.
Add the sweet potato, dried tomatoes and soak water to wok and saute another 5-6 minutes, or until sweet potato is softened.
Add carrots, celery, ginger, turmeric and garlic to wok and saute another 5 minutes, or until veggies are al dente.
To wok add the cooked lentils, scallions, lemon juice and zest, vinegar, Tamari, and Chili Garlic Sauce and saute another 3-4 minutes, making sure to stir well.
Remove wok from heat. Toss in the chopped parsley. Serve warm.
*Note: These food items may contain gluten; check label before using if preparing gluten-free.
Some days we simply want nothing more than to satisfy our sweet tooth. These Walnut Date Candies are a delicious, and healthier, solution to those occasions. The dates provide a such a great amount of sweetness that it really does feel like you are eating a sugary candy. The flavors from the walnuts and coconut compliment the fruit nicely too. And as long as you have a refrigerator, these candies are easy to both prepare and store.
I find that when I use fresh Medjool dates in this recipe I usually need to use a little less of the soak water during the food processing than when I use other varieties. Also, the older the dates, the drier they will become and the more soak water you will need to utilize during the food processing. Remember you are aiming for a pasty, not crumbly, consistency from the processed dates.
This recipe is fun to make with kids, especially when rolling and shaping the candies in the wax paper. For this post I shaped the candies into squares, but creating round, cylinder shapes works well too.
Do make sure to coat the outside of the candies with the coconut instead of mixing the coconut into the candies. As dates can be sticky, the shredded coconut on the outside makes these healthy treats easier to hold with your fingers.
I like wrap the candy pieces into individual portion sizes with plastic wrap for freezer storage. That way I can quickly grab a single serving out of the freezer when I need it and go. Serve the candies for breakfast, with boxed lunches, or anytime you crave a sweet treat.
2 cups Dates, fresh
1/2 cup Water
1/2 cup Walnuts
1/4 cup Coconut, shredded
Add dates and water to a medium bowl. Soak the dates in the water for an hour.
Add dates and about 1/2 the remaining soak water into a food processor. Process the dates until they are a smooth paste, adding additional soak water if needed to get the fruit to the right consistency.
Add the walnuts to dates and process until walnuts are finely chopped.
Scoop 1/2 of the walnut date mix onto a 14-16 inch long piece of wax paper. Gently roll the wax paper around the mix and massage the paper to smooth, lengthen and shape the candy roll. Once at desired length and shape, gently peel back the wax paper. Sprinkle 1/2 of the coconut all over the outside of the candy roll. Carefully slice the roll evenly into 8 pieces, then roll candy back up in the wax paper, place into a large ziplock bag and freeze for at least 2-3 hours to set candy. Repeat with remaining 1/2 of walnut date mix.
Candies are ready for eating once they are set (hard). Candies can be served frozen or thawed. After candies are set, they can also be individually wrapped with plastic wrap and stored in the freezer for future use.
Pear Chocolate Chip Pie with Almond Buckwheat Crust
Recipe Redux – June, 2015: Pie Love
Break out your sweet tooth, because it’s about to get indulged… and without all the saturated fat that usually also comes along with pie-eating.
Here, fresh dates, olive oil and almonds take the place of the butter and lard usually stuffed into a pie crust. So your heart will be as happy as your taste buds. This crust recipe also calls buckwheat flour. Now, don’t let the name fool you – buckwheat does sound like it has wheat, but they are not even related. It is gluten-free, whole grain goodness (OK, technically buckwheat’s a seed, but it’s so nutrient dense and versatile I keep it in the grain category for posterity), and it’s totally delicious, especially when combined with pear. Use any leftover buckwheat flour to make crepes.
Normally I reserve pears for tarts and apples for pies. I won’t make that mistake again! This pear pie was so devine; to call eating it “love” is absolutely appropriate. I used d’Anjou pears, but other varieties could work too.
To lightly toast the sliced almonds, pour almonds into a medium fry pan over medium heat. Cook for about 2 minutes, tossing almonds often. Cool before using.
Do note that several ingredients will be used in both the pie filling and crust.
Tip #1: Before you fold the chocolate into the pears, do make sure to cool the filling well enough so that the chips keep their shape and don’t melt away on you. The separate tastes of the little chocolate bits on your tongue, along with the luscious pear, plus the dark, decadent almond crust- wow, total mouth party!
Tip #2: Use 1 or 2 pears that are real ripe; the rest firm. The ripe ones will break down extra during the pan cooking process and give you a thick, delicious syrup. Don’t use too many really ripe pears or you will only have syrup! If you do make it super syrupy, use extra arrowroot to thicken it up. Likewise, if you use all under-ripe pears and get little syrup with cooking, then cut your arrowroot by half.
Got to have nothing but love for a slice of pie that’s healthy enough to call Breakfast food.
1/2 cup Dates, pitted, quartered
1/4 cup Water, to be divided
1 cup Almonds, sliced, blanched, lightly toasted
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon Buckwheat flour, to be divided
1/4 teaspoon Salt, to be divided
2 tablespoons Olive oil, to be divided
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
2 tablespoons Lemon juice
1 teaspoon Cinnamon, ground
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg, fresh grated
3 pounds Pears, fresh, rinsed
2 tablespoons Arrowroot powder
1/2 cup Chocolate chips*
In a small bowl add the dates and water. Let dates soak 15 minutes. Do not throw away soak water!
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Into a food processor add the soaked dates, almond slices, 1/2 cup of the buckwheat and 1/8 teaspoon of the salt. As you pulse-mix the ingredients together, slowly drizzle in 2 tablespoons worth of the reserved date soak water and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Mix until you have a moist, nut-speckled thick “paste”. Press the crust into the bottom and sides of an 8-inch pie pan, making sure to evenly distribute. Set shell aside.
In a large bowl, add the brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, 1/8 tablespoon of the salt and the remaining date soak water and stir to combine. Peel and core pears, then slice to about 1/8-inch thick, tossing the pear slices into the sugar syrup as you go to keep the fruit from browning.
In a large pan add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add pears and cook while stirring, about 5-7 minutes, or until pears are tender. Remove from heat; into the pears stir in the remaining tablespoon of buckwheat flour.
In a small bowl, add the arrowroot. Add a few tablespoons of pear syrup to the arrowroot and stir until the arrowroot is fully dissolved and there are no lumps or clumps. Pour the arrowroot mixture to the cooked pear slices and stir well to combine and thicken.
Allow the pear slices to cool down. Fold the chocolate chips into the pear slices then pour filling into pie crust.
Bake for an hour. Cool pie on a bake rack. Before it has cooled, gently run a butter knife between the crust and the pie pan edge once (helps keep crust from sticking as it cools). Once cooled, slice into pie wedges and serve.
*Allergy note: Double check that your chocolate chips are dairy-free and gluten free before using, if needed.
Fruity Guacomole Recipe Redux – April, 2015: What hiding in the cupboard?
This post is especially exciting for me, as it marks my very first written as an official, card-carrying Registered Dietitian Nutritionist! That’s right, after many years of school and internships and late nights studying, I finally sat for my RD exam for the first time last week and, as as luck would have it, I passed. Very excited to be a part of this great group of nutrition specialists.
For this month’s Recipe Redux challenge I decided to really “fruit it up”, as my cupboard contained a can of pineapple, fresh apples, and some really ripe avocados all ready for the using.
This guac is great served with baked corn chips or veggie sticks, or you can serve it alongside grilled fish or chicken. Other fruits could work well in it too, like mango, peaches or apricots. You can also use a variety of apples. Add scallions for extra bite. Tip: Make sure to add the spoonful of lime on top before refrigerating so to keep your guacamole from turning brown.
This recipe makes a big batch, so do be sure to share with friends and family!
Happy Healthy Eating!
– Chef Michelle Moreau, RDN
3 large Avocados, ripe, peeled seeded
1/4 teaspoon Cumin, ground
1/8 teaspoon Sea salt
pinch Black pepper, fresh ground
2 medium Limes, juiced
1 large Jalapeno, minced (use seeds too for extra spice if desired)
1 medium Apple, Granny Smith, peeled, cored, diced (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup Pineapple, diced
2 tablespoons Cilantro leaves, fresh, minced
2 tablespoons Basil leaves, fresh, minced
1/4 cup Pomegranate seeds
Into a large mixing bowl add the avocados, cumin, salt and pepper. Also add all but a spoonful of the lime juice. Mash the avocado with a fork until creamy. Add the jalapeno, apple, pineapple, cilantro and basil to bowl and stir to mix well. Place in a serving bowl and drizzle the reserved spoonful of lime juice over the top. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and refrigerate 3-4 hours. Serve chilled.
Winter has not been gentle or kind this year to those of us in the Northeast. Freezing temperatures, several feet of snowfall, and blistery winds makes everyone want to hide indoors in front of an open fire. No drink is better suited for fairing snowstorms than a hot cup of cocoa. But relying on processed brands often means having a cup filled with more sugar than chocolate.
Making your own cocoa from scratch is rather easy. If you can bring liquid to a boil and stir, then you will easily master this recipe in no time. And some of my favorite matches with chocolate are included here: hazelnut, vanilla, cayenne and cinnamon. One sip and they are sure to become your favorites too.
To ensure your chocolatey drink is loaded with healthy antioxidants, choose a cocoa powder that is non-alkalinized, as the alkaline process destroys the antioxidants in chocolate (hint: dutch cocoa is processed with alkaline).
This recipe calls for hazelnut milk, which in my humble opinion is the tastiest nut milk around. Many groceries and health food stores carry it, but if you can’t find hazelnut you could substitute almond milk, but you won’t have as rich and creamy a cocoa as you can get with using the hazelnut milk. One caveat: all hazelnut milks I have found available on the market have phosphate additives added. If you have renal issues or need to watch your phosphate intake, substitute the hazelnut milk with an alternative milk not containing phosphate additives. If anyone reading knows of a brand of hazelnut milk without phosphate additives, please do share with us in the commentary section below!
The recipe is for one, but can be easily doubled or tripled.