Raspberry Chocolate Tart

gluten free / vegan / paleo friendly

This dessert took me 12 MINUTES to make and required NO baking!!  Ok, now that I have your attention……let’s get excited about the summer desserts’ that are coming our way!!! Here in Wisconsin we are all in avid anticipation of the strawberries that will be arriving any day now. A few of my favorite recipes I can’t wait to share with you are strawberry scones, strawberry rhubarb pie and strawberry bread. Follow that up with blueberry and peach season where we will discover the beautiful and simple nuances of the fruit with just a buttery pie crust holding it together. And how amazing a simple muffin can be when it’s jammed full of Michigan blueberries. And last but certainly not least are raspberries! They have a longer season than most berries, ranging from mid July to October in places like Michigan. So you can look forward to raspberry sorbet, jams and my personal favorite, anything chocolate with raspberries! And so we come full circle, to the whole point of this post. The Raspberry Chocolate Tart. I cannot take credit for this particular recipe as I found it via the blog bakerita. so…kudos to her because this tart is phenomenal!! It is not only ridiculously rich and satisfying but it is also…..gluten free, vegan and paleo friendly!!! It is also the PERFECT summer dessert. Easy to make, requires no oven and will impress even the toughest dessert critic! Enjoy!! nom nom

For the crust

  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 TBS pure maple syrup or agave nectar
  • pinch of coarse sea salt

For the filling

  • 1/2 cup canned full fat coconut milk
  • 6oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup raspberry preserves (100% fruit)
  • 1 pint of raspberries

 

  1. Lightly grease a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom with coconut oil
  2. In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the crust and stir together. Press evenly into the prepared tart pan; set aside
  3. Place finely chopped chocolate in a large bowl. In a small saucepan, bring coconut milk just to a boil. Pout hot coconut milk over chocolate and let stand 1 minute, then stir until smooth and creamy. Stir in raspberry preserves. Pour the filling into the prepared crust.
  4. Garnish the top with raspberries
  5. Place tart in the refrigerator to set and cool completely, about 1-2 hours. Slice and serve.
  6. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

 

 

Quinoa Blondie Bars

gluten free / dairy free / refined sugar free / vegan option

So, last week was my daughter’s last day of K4. It was an emotional week for everyone. I’m talking tears everyday, this is the worst thing to happen to her EVER kind of emotional. And I honestly wasn’t much better…..Amira has been blessed for the last two years to attend the Schlitz Audubon Nature School outside of Milwaukee. It is a truly unique program where they spend the majority of their day out in nature learning about our world and the skills they will need to become active members of our society. To put it in perspective, they spend more time outside in the 9 month preschool program than they will cumulatively until they graduate highschool. This program has taught her to respect all that nature offers and to see what a small but integral part she plays in our world. They learned multiple languages through song, learned how to identify plants and animals and learned all the basics of a preschool program through the lens of nature. Needless to say, she was beyond sad to be done, as was I. So, like any good southern born girl does when she is sad I baked up a storm! And these quinoa blondie bars were one of my faves. The recipe below is based off a traditional blondie bar recipe I picked up years ago. Each time I made them (4 times to be exact) I made an adjustment to make them a healthier dessert option. Whether it was changing the sugar or eliminating the butter and eggs they turned out moist, gooey and delicious!!  And since vegan is the most earth friendly way to eat, they are a perfect way to end our nature school adventure! Enjoy!! NOM NOM

Ingredients

2 large eggs or flax seed eggs if making vegan

3/4 cup almond butter, room temperature

1/4 cup butter or butter alternative, softened

3/4 cup of coconut palm sugar

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup quinoa flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup of dark chocolate chips, I use Enjoy Life Vegan Chocolate Chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch-square baking pan with parchment paper or foil. The paper should overhang a bit on opposite ends. Coat with butter or cooking spray.
  2. Whisk quinoa flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Beat butter and almond butter in a stand mixer until creamy. Beat in eggs, coconut sugar and vanilla.
  4. Mix the flour mixture into the wet ingredients until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs on it, 20-25 minutes.  Cool completely before removing from pan. Once it is cool lift the parchment out and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into squares. Should be approximately 16 bars.

 

 

 

Chocolate Truffle Balls

gluten free / vegan / dairy free / refined sugar free

 

Chocolate truffles. These two words in my book are synonymous with decadence, elegance and an almost orgasmic level of bliss. And yes…I said orgasmic. Why do I say this? Simply put, a good truffle… say one from a patisserie in Paris; can quite literally transport you to a place of satisfying happiness and contentment. Quite like…you guessed it! An orgasm!!!!

But it gets better, especially for all you non-bakers or cooks. If you don’t know how to cook, make chocolate truffles. Truffles are the simplest of candy to make. They are traditionally made with cream, chocolate and something a lot of us do not have, time. So imagine my glee when I was given this recipe by my Arbonne wellness coach.  I know….I know…there are those of you who are now thinking “Crap, these things are going to be healthy and taste like fucking wet sand.” And you will now want to close your browser window and forgot you ever visited this blog. But stay with me!!! Because I promise, THESE ARE THE BOMB! I have served these at holiday parties and given them to clients or guests at wellness fairs and they think these are truffles from a candy store. 9 times out of 10 they are incredulous when I tell them what is in them. They are full of vegan protein powder courtesy of Arbonne’s nutrition line, almond butter for a compliment of healthy fat and are then rolled in heart healthy melted dark chocolate. And if you want to make them fancy there are any number of toppings you can roll them in, I made a few suggestions below. These pair exceptionally well with a cup of hot tea in winter or a bowl of fresh fruit on a hot summer day. Either way, I promise you will be left feeling happy and satisfied. Enjoy!! nom nom

Makes 16-20 / Prep time: 10 minutes / Total Time: 2 hrs 10 min

4 scoops of Arbonne chocolate or vanilla protein powder; I prefer the chocolate but vanilla is great too!

2 TBS almond butter, room temperature

1/3-1/2 cup almond milk or preferred milk; start with a 1/3 cup and add more if needed. You want the mixture to be moist and form a ball without cracking.

1 dark chocolate bar or chips; I use either Lily’s Vegan Dark Chocolate orEnjoy Life’s Vegan Chocolate. If being vegan is not a must for you then Valrona or Guittard are good brands!

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. In a bowl, combine protein powder, almond butter and almond milk. Mix until all the ingredients are throughly incorporated.
  3. Roll into balls that are slightly bigger than the circumference of a quarter.
  4.  Place on baking sheet and freeze for at least 1 hour
  5. Remove from freezer. Melt the chocolate on the stove using a double boiler or in the microwave until completely melted.
  6. Using a spoon, drop the balls into the chocolate and roll until they are covered in chocolate. Place back on the baking sheet and freeze for another hour.
  7. Keep in the fridge and try not to eat them all yourself!

Optional Toppings:

  • unsweetened coconut flakes
  • chopped nuts; pistachios work great!
  • chopped dried cranberries
  • crushed pretzels
  • sea salt

After you roll the truffle in chocolate, immediately roll in desired topping and place on baking sheet to freeze.

 

 

Protein Brownie Bars

gluten free / dairy free / refined sugar free / vegan

As you already know I am a self proclaimed baked goods junkie. It is a rare occurence for me not to go to bed with a sweet in hand. Ok, fine…truth? I NEVER go to bed without a sweet in hand. Unless I am on my death bed with an illness, and even then….it’s not a guarantee. But even this baked goods junkie knows that to eat dessert every night is no bueno for my mind or body. Granted I no longer bake with refined sugar which is the worst of the worst but no mater what sugar I do use, it is still…..you guessed it, SUGAR! If there are some of you who don’t know much about refined sugar and its ramifications not only to our health but to our society as a whole OR you just like learning new things I highly recommend watching the documentary Fed Up! (link is for full length documentary). The film focuses on the causes of obesity in the US and the alarming rise in childhood obesity. It presents evidence showing that the large quantities of sugar in processed foods are an overlooked root of the problem, and points to the monied lobbying power of “Big Sugar” in blocking attempts to enact policies to address the issue.[2][3][4][5]

My first successful breakup with refined sugar occured in January 2015. The year before, I had given birth to my second child and for that year I had struggled with not only my weight, but my energy was non existent and my mind was dull and foggy, at best. I was als0 having a multitude of digestive issues, headaches and bizarre skin breakouts. Around this same time the health and wellness company I own my business through launched a brand new 30 Day Healthy Living Program. I had just come off an unsuccessful attempt to do the Whole 30 program. Don’t get me wrong, I lost weight but I was unhappy during the process; I wanted to be able to eat garbanzo beans!!! Is that asking to much?! And after I finished the 30 days the weight came back almost immediately. My hubby was as always supportive but also hated it and dubbed the program the “dirty dishes diet.” I was reluctant at first to try Arbonne’s program but I already loved their nutritional products and I knew I needed to try it so that I could make honest recommendations to my clients. The focus of the program was to change the way we look at food and to bring our bodies back to a more balanced alkaline state. We achieve this through focusing on eating whole, consumable foods and eliminating the top ten highly allergenic and acidic foods.

For those of you who just want the goods I will cease aand desisit with the lecture. But if you want more information or have questions please leave a comment and I would be happy to talk further. You can also click on the 30 Day link above for a quick video or email me.

One of the reasons I loved this program was because I didn’t have to deprive myself. Yes, I had to eliminate certain foods/ingredients but in return I was given a huge list of foods or ingredients I could use as replacemements. That’s where these brownie bars enter the picture. They were a replacement for my beautiful sugary goods that I had sworn off for the next 30 days. With the program, I was given a full menu plan with recipes and shopping lists already completed for me.  And as a busy mom of two that was key!! I was also given a huge support group via a secret FB group. This group was comprised of hundreds of men and women just like me; people looking to change their habits for the long term and stop the dieting wheel for good. It was a place to ask questions, offer support and encouragement, and recipe swap. This was one of the first treat recipes I tried on the program, and I have been hooked ever since. These bars are great for a midday snack because they are more like a protein bar than a brownie but with a cup of tea I think they make a great bedtime treat. They are packed with protein and are super filling. The icing on the cake??? My kids LOVE them. They constantly ask for “brownies” and I have no problem obliging them. Enjoy! nom nom

Side note: I have been told by a few people who sampled my bars and then made them using a different protein that they don’t taste as good. Not sure why that it is, but if this is the first recipe of mine you have tried, and you use a different protein AND they are bad…. I don’t want you to think I suck 😉

 

4 scoops of Arbonne Chocolate Protein Powder

3 cups of GF rolled oats; I like Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Rolled Oats or Trader Joe’s GF Rolled Oats

1  plus cup vanilla almond milk; I do an overflowing 1 cup but 1 and 1/4 cup would be a good place to start. You want the mixture to be moist not dry.

1/2 cup almond butter

Dash of cinnamon

Sea salt; I prefer fleur de sel (optional)

1/3 cup- 1/2 cup of chopped nuts (optional)

  1. Put first 5 ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Stir until the ingredients are throughly incorporated and the mixture is moist.
  2. Press evenly into an 8×8 pan. Sprinkle sea salt and chopped nuts over the top and press lightly into the misture.
  3. Place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours to set. Cut into 2×2 squares. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Though I guarantee they wont last that long!!!!

Slow Cooker Tomato Soup

gluten free / dairy free option / vegetarian option

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 4-6 hours

Another fantastic (easy) weeknight meal using the slow cooker. This soup is a favorite of both of my kids so don’t be afraid of the dry sherry and the cayenne in this recipe. But if spice is a big NO NO in your fam just do a dash of cayenne to start.  My daughter is a traditionalist and pairs this with a grilled cheese. My son who is not a fan of cheese usually has crackers or buttered toast as his accoutrement and my hubby and I either do a big salad or open faced sandwiches.  This soup would also go well with the Grilled Goat Cheese Sandwiches I made last week. Whatever path you take you are sure to love this soup and you will have plenty for lunches throughout the week. Enoy!! nom nom

2 TBS unsalted butter or vegan butter

3 (14oz) can diced tomatoes, drained, juice reserved

1 onion, minced

1 TBS brown sugar, coconut palm sugar/sucanat are great unrefined options

1 TBS tomato paste

salt and pepper

2 TBS GF all purpose flour; rice flour will work as well

3 cups chicken broth; vegetable broth if vegetarian

2 bay leaves

2-3 ounces of goat cheese, 1/2 cup non-dairy creamer or blended silken tofu

1/2 TBS – 1 TBS dry sherry

pinch of cayenne

  1. Melt butter in skillet over medium high heat. Add tomatoes, onion, sugar, paste, 1/2 tsp salt and cook until tomatoes are dry and lightly browned 10-15 minutes.
  2. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly, whisk in one cup of broth, scraping up the browned bits; transfer to slow cooker.
  3. Stir in remaining broth, reserved tomato juice, and bay leaves into cooker. Cover and cook 4-6 hours on low. Note: Due to timing issues I have cooked this for 8 hours on low and it was perfectly fine!
  4. Turn slow cooker to Warm setting. Discard bay leaves. Puree soup with an immersion blender or transfer to a blender then back to the crockpot. Stir in dairy, dry sherry and cayenne pepper.

 

 

Chocolate Coconut Cookies

gluten free / dairy free / flour free / grain free / refined sugar free

In the excitement of Easter and the beginning of spring break last week, I completely forgot to post the recipe for these amazing chocolate coconut cookies. I was introduced to these cookies by a girlfriend of mine and they are my go to cookies when I am jonesing for a sweet and have no time to bake. Enjoy! nom nom

Prep Time: 10 minutes       Bake Time: 12-15 minutes

Makes 12

1 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut, shredded

1/3 cup coconut sugar

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1 egg or flaxseed egg

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup chocolate chips; I prefer dark chocolate but any type will work!

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together coconut, coconut sugar, coconut oil, egg and vanilla. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  3. Roll dough into golf ball size balls and place 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Lightly flatten with your palm or flat side of a measuring cup.
  4. Bake until edges are golden brown, 12- 15 minutes. Let cookies cool before handling.

Banana Oat Bread

Lately, we seem to always have overripe bananas laying around our house as my kids and hubby seem to be on some sort of cyclical banana eating pattern. As for me, I have a textural aversion to bananas and can only eat them in baked goods or pulversized in a chocolate smoothie. So with this weeks batch of overripe bananas I decided to try a recipe I had pinned from the Minimalist Baker blog. This banana bread is hearty with a mild sweet nutty flavor and paired perfectly with my afternoon almond latte. Enjoy! nom nom

Adapted from Minimalist Baker

4 ripe bananas

1 egg or flaxseed egg

2 TBS honey

1 1/4 cups GF oats

1/4 cup brown sugar; I use sucanat as an unrefined option.

1 1/4 cups almond flour

3 TBS coconut oil, melted

3 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/4 cups gluten free flour mix #1 or a store bought GF all purpose flour mix

3/4 tsp sea salt

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup almond milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a loaf pan or 4 mini loaf pans with non stick spray or coconut oil.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the almond meal, flour, oats and baking powder together. Set aside
  3. Mash bananas in large bowl. Whisk in remaining ingredients. Add flour mixture and stir to combine. Pour into loaf pan or divide amone the 4 mini loaf pans.
  4. For the large loaf pan bake bread for 60-75 minutes; 40-44 minutes for mini loaves. The bread should feel firm and golden brown on top.
  5. Let it cool completely or it will crumble!!!
  6. Store in container for a few days. Freeze for longer storage.