3-Ingredient Butterfinger-y Clusters

healthier butterfinger recipe

Butterfinger-y Clusters
makes about 40 clusters

In an attempt to make a healthier homage to one of my favorite candy bars from childhood--Butterfingers!--I ended up with something that looks nothing like a Butterfinger, but tastes almost exactly like one.  Simmering maple butter until almost caramel-like helps create that crumbly, toffee-esque center that's reminiscent of this favorite treat.  After adding the peanut butter you may end up with a candy-bar center that's sliceable but...I did not.  I embraced the broken bars, tossed them with melted dark chocolate and turned them into clusters.  Purists will want to still seek out the real deal, but maple and dark chocolate-lovers like me will be satisfied with this simplified treat.

1 9-ounce jar of maple butter (or DIY if you can't find it)
3/4 cup natural peanut butter
2 3-ounce bars chocolate (I used 60% cocoa)

1. In a small pot heat maple butter until simmering for about 5 minutes.  Let it darken and bubble up but don't let it burn.  If you have a thermometer, look for it to hit 275.  If not, just keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn but still simmers and bubbles away.

2. Turn off heat and stir in peanut butter until well blender.  Spread mixture into a lined loaf pan or glass tupperware and let cool in the fridge.  Be careful--hot sugar (even maple) is super hot.

3. Cut peanut butter mixture into fun-size bars.  Watch as it crumbles.  Embrace it.  Melt chocolate bars in the microwave or a double-boiler and stir-in peanut butter crumbles.  Spoon clusters onto waxed paper-lined sheet trays and cool in the fridge until solid.  

 

Sesame Steamed Kabocha Squash and Kale

steamed kabocha squash and kale

Sesame Steamed Kabocha Squash and Kale
serves 2

Kabocha squash is a Japanese pumpkin that's dark green on the outside and a brilliant, sweet, creamy orange on the inside.  I love it because it's naturally decadent and doesn't need to be roasted to be delicious, plus it's full of beta carotene, iron, fiber and Vitamin C.  Substitute any kind of squash or pumpkin that's available if you need to.  For this recipe, I season the simply steamed squash and kale with tamari, mirin, and toasted sesame oil.  Mirin is a Japanese cooking wine--sub 2 teaspoons rice vinegar and 1 teaspoon maple syrup if you don't have it.  Add steamed quinoa, aduki beans, or roasted chicken to make this a full meal.

1 kabocha squash
2 handfuls of baby kale, about 2 cups
1 tablespoon tamari (can sub low-sodium or coconut aminos)
1 tablespoon mirin (Japanese cooking wine)
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
salt to taste

1. Peel and cut kabocha squash into 1-inch cubes: Cut squash in 1/2 vertically and scoop out seeds and pulp with a spoon.  Cut the halves in 1/2, so you have 4 large wedges.  Slice each wedge into 3 smaller vertical wedges and then cut the peel off each wedge.  Cut into approximately 1-inch pieces.

2. Bring a pot of water with 1 inch of water up to a boil.  Add a metal steamer basket and place the squash in the basket.  Put a lid on the pot and steam for 10 minutes.

3. After 10 minutes, test to see if squash is done by piercing a piece with a fork.  Steam longer if needed.  Otherwise, add the kale on top of the squash, put the lid on, and steam 2 more minutes.  Remove veggies to serving plates.

4. Dump out all the steaming water except 1/4 cup.  Add tamari, mirin, and sesame oil and simmer for 1 minute.  Spoon this sauce over squash and kale and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.  

Miso Vinaigrette

miso vinaigrette dressing recipe

Miso Vinaigrette
makes 1/2 cup dressing

You don't need to wait for your next sushi takeout order to reap the benefits of miso.  Miso is a fermented soy paste that's most commonly found in miso soup, but it's naturally probiotic and salty, tangy taste is perfect for dressings and marinades.  Here I make a super simple dressing combining mild rice vinegar with olive oil, miso and dijon.  The miso and dijon emulsify the oil and vinegar making a luscious, creamy dressing without any added dairy.  Try this on a dark leafy green salad or over steamed broccoli or roasted carrots.  Miso is salty and slightly sweet so I don't add extra salt to the vinaigrette.  Look for miso in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, often by the tofu or other fermented products like pickles.

2 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white miso
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard

1. In a small mason jar, combine all ingredients and shake to combine.  Use a fork to whisk miso into dressing if it clumps together.  Store in the fridge for up to a week and let come to room temperature before serving (olive oil will solidify in fridge).

Horta (Greek Greens)

horta recipe

Horta
Serves 4-6

This recipe is adapted from the one used in my Global Healing Kitchens: The Mediterranean class.  Dark leafy greens are a staple in Mediterranean cooking with freshly-picked wild varieties often favored.  Horta is a Greek dish often made with boiled dandelion greens (which we use in class) and simply seasoned with fresh lemon and extra virgin olive oil, along with salt and pepper. But this method works with any kind of green and is a great side dish to any meal.  It’s often served cold, but works as a hot dish as well.  Make this your go-to method for preparing things like beet greens and radish tops before you consider throwing them in the trash.

3 bunches assorted dark leafy greens, chopped into 1-inch pieces (ex: kale, beet greens, chard)
salt to taste
1 lemon
2-3 tablespoons of best extra virgin olive oil

1. Bring a large pot of salted water up to boil.  Add greens and cook for 2 minutes, longer for extra bitter greens and shorter for tender ones. 

2. Strain greens and discard liquid.  Press greens if you need to so there’s not too much water left on them.  Transfer greens to a serving bowl.  Add fresh lemon juice to taste along with a healthy drizzle of your best extra virgin olive oil.  Add salt and pepper to taste if necessary.

Note: The greens should last for 2-3 days in the fridge.
 

Peanut Butter Protein Bars

peanut butter protein bars recipe

Peanut Butter Protein Bars
makes 10 bars

I'm usually not a big fan of protein powders--they can be chalky, weird-tasting, and filled with not-so-great ingredients.  But if I do use one, I stick with a plant-based protein powder (made from pea protein, a mixture of legumes and grains, or hemp).  For this recipe, I used Sunwarrior Warrior Blend Plant-based Protein Natural (unflavored).  It's undetectable in the final recipe but boosts the protein already present from the peanut butter.  I designed these bars for my clients going through chemotherapy because their protein need increases and they often don't have the appetite for things that aren't carby or sweet, but these would be great as an afternoon or post-workout snack for anyone.

1 1/2 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup natural peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup natural plant protein powder
1/2 cup honey
1/2 of a 3.5 ounce dark chocolate bar, broken apart (70% cocoa)

1. In a food processor, buzz up oats until you get a coarse flour.  Add peanut butter, vanilla, protein powder, and honey and blend until you get an evenly mixed dough.  It will be thick.

2. Take an 8x8 pan and line with a piece of parchment paper.  Press dough into the pan evenly, until it's about 1/2 inch thick.  Put in the freezer to chill for a few minutes.

3. Meanwhile, melt chocolate pieces in a double boiler or the microwave.  When it's melted, remove pan from freezer and drizzle chocolate over the pan with a spoon.  Chill in the fridge for 4 hours and then slice bars.  Store bars in the fridge and serve cold, otherwise they won't hold together well.

Lebanese Lentil Soup

lebanese lentil soup recipe

Lebanese Lentil Soup
serves 4

This lightly spiced Middle Eastern soup can be made with pantry and fridge ingredients you may already have on hand.  Red lentils are a great source of protein and fiber.  They are the quickest cooking legume and therefore a total staple in my pantry (Bonus? They are cheap too!)  I based this soup on my favorite starter from Lebanese restaurants, which are often pureed and serve with a lemon wedge.  The lemon really brings the whole dish to life so don't skimp on it.

drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/2 cup red lentils, thoroughly rinsed
6 cups vegetable broth and/or water (I used 4 cups broth + 2 cups water)
salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup chopped parsley

1. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large soup pot.  Saute onion, celery, and carrots for 5-10 minutes until soft.  Add garlic, cumin, and turmeric and saute 1 minute more.  

2. Add rinsed lentils and broth/water.  Bring to a simmer and let cook for 30 minutes until lentils are fully cooked and falling apart.  Optionally pulse with an immersion blender to puree into a smoother texture.

3. Taste and season for salt.  Add lemon juice and garnish bowls with parsley.
 

Velvety Chocolate Almond Butter Coins

velvety chocolate coins

Velvety Chocolate Almond Butter Coins
makes 16

1/2 cup 70% dark chocolate chunks (could use chocolate chips or chopped chocolate)
1/2 cup almond butter
1/4 cup coconut butter

1. Prepare a mini muffin tin with 16 paper liners.

2. In a double boiler (or microwave) melt chocolate chunks.  Remove from heat and stir in almond butter and coconut butter until totally blended.  If they aren't blending easily, heat gently.

3. Take about 1 tablespoon of the mixture and pour into each of the muffin cups.  Chill until solid in the fridge or freezer and keep cold until serving.

Smoky Corn, Tomato and Chard Soup

smoky corn tomato and chard soup

Smoky Corn, Tomato, and Chard Soup
serves 4 (freezable too)

Soup tends to be a cold weather food so you don't often see it made with super summery ingredients.  (Unless we are talking about chilled soups in which case...gross.)  But soup can be a great way to cook up the abundance of produce that can accumulate in your fridge or garden in the summer.  This soup combines summery produce like corn, zucchini, and greens with pantry staples like canned tomatoes, beans, and spices.  If you want to improvise a similar soup based on what you have in your fridge now, check out my Building Flavor Guide, which will show you the correct order to add ingredients to your soup pot to ensure a great complex flavor!

1 yellow onion, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 zucchini, chopped into 1/2" pieces
2 earns of corn, kernels removed
1 15-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups-ish water
1 bunch Swiss Chard, chopped (can use stems or not)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large pot.  Add onions and celery with a pinch of salt and saute for 5 minutes, letting them soften.  Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds more.  Add smoked paprika, cumin, and coriander and stir.  Add zucchini and saute for 2 minutes more.

2. When vegetable mixture is fragrant and beginning to soften, add corn, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, black beans, and enough water to make it soup-ish, about 2 cups.  (Vegetables will continue to release water so it will get more liquidy, not less, as it cooks.)  Let cook for at least 10 minutes but as long as you want to help flavors meld and develop. 

3. After soup has simmered, turn off heat and fold into chopped Swiss Chard.  Taste and season for salt and pepper.  Serve on it's own or garnished with avocado, tortillas, tortillas chips or a sprouted grain roll.

Black Bean Pasta with Corn and Kale

black bean pasta recipe

Black Bean Pasta with Corn and Kale
serves 3-4

One of my new favorite packaged products on the shelves now is legume-based pasta.  From red lentil to chickpea to black beans (shown here), different bean flours are used instead of refined white flour to create versatile pastas that are high in protein (about 21g per serving) and high in fiber (about 50% of your RDA).  The higher-end brands (like my favorite Tolerant) will usually be purely bean flour and the more moderately priced ones (like Ancient Harvest Pow!, shown here) are a mix of bean and grain flours like quinoa and brown rice.  Use them like you would any other pasta, keeping in mind that they often taste a little sweeter and have less "bite" than traditional white pasta.  

1 8-ounce box of black bean pasta
drizzle of olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
pinch of red chile flake
3 ears of corn, kernels removed
1 bunch lacinato kale, shredded or chopped
salt and pepper to taste
garnish: pecorino romano, olive oil and/or lemon zest

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook according to package directions (the black bean pasta I used cooked in about 5 minutes).  Drain and rinse pasta lightly in water to remove excess starch and halt cooking.

2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet and add a drizzle of olive oil.  Saute garlic and red chile flake for 30 seconds until fragrant.  Add corn and saute 2 minutes.  Add kale and saute 2-3 minutes more, until kale is wilted.  If the mixture is very dry, add a splash or two of water to get it going.

3.  Gently stir in pasta and season the whole mixture with salt and pepper.  Garnish with grated pecorino romano (or lemon zest), and a drizzle of olive oil and serve.  

Summer Squash Spice Muffins

summer squash muffin

Anything you can do with zucchini, you can do with yellow summer squash, both of which are abundant (perhaps a little too abundant) in the summer.  Typically, I turn summer squashes to something savory like pasta, zoodles, or grated zucchini cakes, but here I turned a little grated squash into Paleo-style muffins.  Almond meal and coconut oil make them higher in fat and lower in carbs than typical muffins, keeping you fuller longer and helping you avoid a sugar high.  I tend to avoid making or creating baking recipes that require lots of precision or specialty ingredients (even if they do turn out perfectly) so I stuck with basic ingredients here, but feel free to experiment.  These will turn out ultra-moist and juicy as well as denser and less crumbly than a typical muffin.  

Summer Squash Spice Muffins
makes 6 muffins

dry ingredients:
1 cup, packed almond flour (this is finer than almond meal and will turn out better)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

wet ingredients:
1/2 cup grated summer squash (or zucchini), patted dry with a paper towel
2 eggs
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

mix-ins:
2 tablespoons raisins or dried currants

1. Preheat oven to 350.  Line a muffin tin with 6 muffin liners.

2. Combine all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Whisk together with a fork.

3. Combine all wet ingredients in a different large mixing bowl.  Whisk together with a fork.  

4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, folding together with a rubber spatula until just mixed.  Add in raisins or any other mix-ins.  

5. Immediately, fill muffin cups 2/3 full (you will get a lot of spread on top if you fill them fuller--this recipe won't puff up as much as traditional muffins).  Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick can be inserted and removed with nothing sticking to it.  Let cool in tin for 5 minutes then cool on rack for another 15.  
 

Spicy Sesame Black Kale

spicy sesame black kale recipe

Spicy Sesame Black Kale
serves 2-3

Kale went from boring to exciting to boring again.  With this recipe, I wanted to liven up this cruciferous vegetable staple with some of my favorite Asian seasonings including tamari and gochujang sauce.  The sweet flavor of maple syrup (and the gochujang if you use it) help counteract the bitterness in kale.  Sesame seeds add a little texture and calcium to this side dish.  I love the pop of both black and white.  If you can't find gochujang, use sriracha or your favorite hot sauce.  

drizzle of avocado or grapeseed oil
1 bunch lacinato kale, stemmed and chopped
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon tamari (soy sauce)
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
salt to taste
Asian hot sauce to taste (I like K-Mama Gluten-free Gochujang Sauce)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1. Heat a large saute pan and drizzle in oil.  Add lacinato kale and a generous sprinkle of salt and begin to wilt.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl or mug, combine maple syrup, tamari, dijon mustard and toasted sesame oil together and whisk with a fork.  Drizzle over greens and stir.  Let cook 1-2 more minutes.  If greens look dry or raw, add a teaspoon or two of water.

3. Taste for salt and plate.  Drizzle with hot sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  

Peanut Butter Cookie Bites

peanut butter cookie bites

Peanut Butter Cookie Bites
makes about 20

I’m a terrible baker, but give me some dried nuts or seeds and a food processor and watch out!  These are pretty addictive considering they taste like a dessert even though they make a great pre- or post-workout snack. Don’t get too eager and eat them too quickly—I promise they taste best chilled.  My favorite part of these cookies is the cute cross-hatch so don't skip that step!

1 cup dry-roasted almonds
1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter (use the best! I like MaraNatha Hint of Sea Salt)
1 cup medjool dates, pitted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Pulse the almonds into a fine meal in the bowl of the food processor.  Add the peanut butter, dates, vanilla, and salt and puree until well-combined.  It will be thick and not 100% smooth.

2. Take heaping teaspoon sized amount of the “dough” and roll into a ball.  Pinch down onto a flat surface and using the tines of a fork, make cross hatches just like you would for a peanut butter cookie.  Chill in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.  These should last a week or more in the fridge in an airtight container.

Muscle Recovery Beet Juice

muscle recovery beet juice

Muscle Recovery Beet Juice
serves 1

After getting a particularly rough massage to loosen up trigger points in my legs and feet, my massage therapist suggested that I have beets or beet juice to help my muscles recover.  Beets are being used in a lot of sports performance beverages because of their supposed ability to improve muscle power by improving blood flow to muscles.  The research is mixed on their effectiveness for this specifically, but I figured having a boost of folate, potassium, and antioxidants from beets could do me no harm.  Typically beets are juiced with something sweet like carrots or apples, but here I used cucumber to make the whole beverage less sweet and to add some post-massage hydration.

2 small beets
1/2 English cucumber (so you can use the peel)
1-inch piece of ginger
juice from 1/2 lemon

1. Using a juicer, juice beets, cucumber, and ginger.  Add lemon juice, stir and serve

 

Black Pepper Peas and Roasted Asparagus

black pepper peas and roasted asparagus

Black Pepper Peas and Roasted Asparagus
serves 2-4 as a side dish

To make this ultra-springy side dish, I used my quick-roasting asparagus method.  Instead of roasting for the 20-25 minutes that most recipes call for, I only roast them for 6-10 minutes depending on the thickness.  I find this keeps them sweet and vegetal but also crispy and easy to cut through.  Longer cooking times make asparagus too stringy for me to enjoy.  The sauteeing of the peas is really to defrost and season them, which happens very quickly.  I add the rice vinegar to the peas to give them a little tart punch.  Keep in mind that acidic ingredients like vinegar will turn bright green vegetables an army green (see photo).  If you are serving this at a dinner party, add the vinegar right before serving if you want to keep that glorious green color fresh.

for roasted asparagus:
1 bunch asparagus, 2-3 inches of woody stems trimmed off
drizzle of grapeseed oil
sprinkle of salt

for black pepper peas:
dollop of ghee or drizzle of olive oil
pinch of red chile flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup frozen peas
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
salt to taste
loads of black pepper

1. On a parchment-lined sheet tray, toss asparagus with oil and salt and roast for 6-10 minutes at 450 degrees.

2. While asparagus is in the oven, heat a medium skillet.  Add ghee or oil and saute red chile flake and garlic for 30 seconds.  Add peas, water, and rice vinegar and saute until peas are warm, about 2 minutes.  Season generously with black pepper and salt.

3. Top asparagus with peas and serve.  Serve alongside a protein or add edamame, fava beans or cooked quinoa to make a vegetarian entree.  

Sweet Potato Noodles with Chickpeas and Greens

Sweet Potato Noodles with Chickpeas and Greens
Serves 2-3

To make noodles out of vegetables, you can use a vegetable peeler or a special piece of equipment called a spiralizer. (Find my go-to spiralizer on the Resources page)  You can create long noodles from hard vegetables like beets, zucchini, carrots, potatoes, kohlrabi, celery root, and even broccoli stems.  And sweet potatoes--my favorite!  While I know some of us (myself included) often dread extra prep steps in recipes--everything from using an extra pot to having to clean the blender--I have never met anyone who doesn't find making veggie noodles fun! I like these best sauteed in oil for a few minutes with a splash or two of water.  You get the perfect mix of tenderness and bite that way.

1-2 large sweet potatoes
2 teaspoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups of dark leafy greens like spinach or bok choy, chopped
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon of tamari (soy sauce)
Sriracha or other hot sauce to taste

1. Prepare the sweet potato noodles: Peel sweet potatoes.  Use a the small noodle setting of the spiralizer to make noodles or use your vegetable peeler to shave long strips the length of the sweet potato.  Cut if necessary so they aren’t too long and set aside in a bowl.

2.  Heat a large skillet and add oil, ginger, and garlic and saute for 30 seconds.  Then in 2 batches saute sweet potato noodles until they just begin to soften.  Add a splash or two of water and a sprinkle of salt. Saute for about 2 minutes.   Repeat with other batch and remove to a serving bowl.

3. Next, saute leafy greens and chickpeas with tamari and Sriracha for 2-3 minutes.  Remove to serving bowl with sweet potato noodles and toss to combine.  Serve with extra tamari and sriracha.  Add cashews, sesame seeds or fresh herbs like scallion or cilantro if you like.

 

Green Smoothie Cubes

green smoothie cubes

Green Smoothie Cubes
makes 1 tray of cubes

This isn't so much of a recipe, more of a technique that I use to preserve almost wilting leafy greens like spinach, kale, chard, and collards.  Don't limit yourself to the quantities listed--just use this as a guidepost.  Keep in mind that the more bitter your greens are (like collards or beet greens), the more intense your cubes will be and the less cubes you'll want to add to a smoothie.  Spinach and kale will be the most mild.  I'd stay clear of really intense or spicy greens like mustard, arugula, or even mesclun.  Once the cubes are frozen, you can pop them out of the trays and store in a glass container or ziploc bag in the freezer.  Use 1-3 in a smoothie, depending on how green you like it. 

2 cups leftover greens like spinach and kale
1/2 cup cold water
juice from 1 lemon

1. In a blender, blend greens, water, and lemon juice until smooth.  Your blender may need a little extra water to get it going but try to add as little as possible.

2. Pour the mixture into an ice cube tray and freeze completely, at least 4 hours.  Pop out the ice cubes and store in the freezer.  

Maple Cayenne Walnuts

Maple Cayenne Walnuts
makes 1 cup

I use this maple-glazing technique to jazz up good-for-you nuts and seeds that I don't necessarily like totally plain.  It allows me to hit my sweet craving while giving my body a snack that has more good fats and substance to it.  I only use 1 tablespoon of maple so that the walnuts are barely glazed, but if you want more of a coating, double the maple.  Watch your fingers when you remove the walnuts to a plate--the sugar gets very hot and will stick to and burn those little piggies.  Use a spoon to remove.  

1 cup of walnuts
1 tablespoon maple syrup
pinch of sea salt
pinch of cayenne

1. In a non-stick or cast-iron skillet, toast walnuts on low heat for 5 minutes, tossing occasionally.  Drizzle maple syrup over walnuts and toss until maple evenly coats walnuts, getting into all the nooks and crannies.  Let sizzle for a minute or two then sprinkle with salt and cayenne.  Remove to wax paper or a plate to cool completely.  Store at room temperature in a covered container.

 

Chocolate Almond Butter

DIY Nutella - Chocolate Almond Butter

Chocolate Almond Butter
makes almost 2 cups

Nutella is a pretty solid mood booster, except if you accidentally look at the ingredient list.  Expecting to find cocoa and hazelnuts listed first, you'll be kind of bummed out to see Sugar and Palm Oil instead.  The good news is that nut butters--even the chocolately kind--are incredibly easy to make at home!  You'll know you'll have something fresh with top-notch ingredients and you can customize it to your preferences (for example, I prefer almonds to hazelnuts and dark chocolate to milk).  Almonds are a great source of Monounsaturated Fatty Acids, which can lower your "bad" cholesterol and help regulate your blood sugar.  This blend was made up of what I had on hand so I actually subbed in about 1/2 cup of walnuts for some of the almonds.  Still delish.

2 cups of almonds
1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt

1. In a food processor, pulse and puree the almonds until you have almond butter.  This will take 5-7 minutes.  Stop every minute or two to scrape down the sides.  The almonds will get gravel-y, then almost dough-like as they form a ball, then finally will turn into a creamy--and warm--nut butter.  Let it go longer than you think you need to.

2. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler or microwave.  Once almonds are creamy, add melted chocolate to the food processor, along with vanilla and sea salt and puree until smooth.  Transfer to a mason jar and leave at room temperature for 1-2 weeks.  

Chocolate Hemp Protein Shake

chocolate hemp protein shake

Chocolate Hemp Protein Shake
makes 1 shake

Gritty protein powders gross out my tongue and I only recommend them to clients that have very specific dietary or protein needs.  Most people do not need processed powders in the diets!  However, if you eat mostly plant-based foods and have the need for an on-the-go beverage rich in protein and other nutrients, I think you'll love this whole foods-based protein shake.  I combine a full serving of hemps seeds with almond butter to get a shake with 18 grams of protein.  The hemp and almond butter also provide good fats in the form of monounsaturated fatty acids and Omega 3s.  The fats and fiber from the dates and banana will help keep you fuller longer and help keep your blood sugar from spiking.

1 banana
2 medjool dates, pitted
3 tablespoons of hemp seeds
2 tablespoons of natural almond butter
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup ice
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

1. In a high-powered blender, combine all ingredients and blend until very smooth (It may take a few minutes for the hemp seeds and dates to get totally smooth, but they will.)  Serve immediately or store in a jar with a lid in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

Butternut Apple Soup

Butternut Apple Soup with White Beans and Garam Masala

Butternut-Apple Soup
serves 2-3

I love the simplicity of a simple pureed soup for dinner.  My go-to way to make a meal out of it is to blend white beans and/or coconut milk with the vegetables to add protein and fat.  This recipe doesn’t use the entire cans of beans and coconut milk (sorry, but trust me on this) so feel free to freeze the remainder to use another day.  Coconut milk freezes well in ice cube trays so you can pop a frozen cube into a soup any time.  Serve plain or garnish with chives, yogurt, or chopped nuts.

drizzle of olive oil
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 red-green apple (like a gala), cored and sliced
1 teaspoon garam masala (or 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon cayenne)
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
4 cups vegetable stock or water
1/2 can of white beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup canned coconut milk (optional)
juice from 1/2 lemon
salt to taste

1. In a large pot, heat drizzle of oil and sauté onion and apple until golden brown, about 15 minutes.  Don’t cheat this step—this is where all the flavor comes from.  Stir in garam masala and let cook for 30 seconds.  Add squash, white beans and coconut milk and cover with just enough vegetable stock or water.  Let simmer until squash is totally cooked, about 20 minutes.

2.  Puree soup in a blender with lemon juice and salt until smooth.  You want the consistency to be just thinner than baby food.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Serve plain or garnished with herbs or yogurt.