Chocolate Truffles

Truffle

I make these fairly often to get my chocolate fix.  They’re quick (although rolling them can take some time), easy and healthy.  The best part?  They have no added or refined sugars because dates are naturally sweet, and are high in fiber, minerals and vitamins, including magnesium and potassium.  Unprocessed cacao powder is high in antioxidants, while maca powder provides energy and stamina.  Nut butters add some healthy fats and ground chia seeds add protein and melt the flavors together.

Bonus: If you are feeling artistic, you can also shape them into roses.

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Ingredients:

  • 8 oz medjool dates
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder (plus extra)
  • 1 tbsp nut butter (almond or hazelnut butter works well)
  • 1 tbsp maca powder (plus extra)
  • 1/2 tbsp ground chia seed powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch, pink Himalayan salt
  • 1/2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom (optional)

Directions:

  1. Blend all ingredients together in a food processor until it forms a dough.
  2. Shape the dough into truffle-sized balls (sprinkle some extra cacao or maca powder when working with the dough to keep it from sticking).

Yields: 12 servings

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Lentil Soup

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I love Pret-a-Manger’s lentil soup on a cold or rainy day.  It is the perfect comfort food without being heavy.  I was trying to replicate a cleaner version of the soup sans the sodium, while keeping the process simple by using a crockpot.  Lentils have lots of protein and fiber, while carrots provide Vitamin A and Vitamin C.  Tomatoes are rich in Vitamin, E, folate and lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, which is absorbed easier when the tomatoes are cooked.  Onions and garlic provide an immunity boost, while the combination of spices adds flavor and aids in digestion. This soup is hearty enough to make a complete meal, but light enough to have as a side in a smaller portion.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups low sodium, organic vegetable broth
  • 2-3 cups water
  • 6 oz dried lentils
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 2 large chopped tomatoes
  • 1 small chopped onion
  • 2 large minced garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp mild curry powder
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1 bay leaf

Directions:

  1. Pour all ingredients, except the bay leaf, in a crockpot.
  2. Lay the bay leaf on top.
  3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours on low heat until almost cooked.
  4. Pour about 1/3 of the soup in a blender (not including the bay leaf) and puree until smooth.
  5. Pour the pureed mixture back into the crockpot and cook for another 1-2 hours on low heat.
  6. Remove from heat, discard the bay leaf, and serve.

Yields: 12 servings

Turmeric Hummus

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Turmeric Hummus

I love fresh, warm, smooth, satisfying, creamy, savory hummus.  You can use it as a spread in pitas, eat it with crackers or veggies, or just have a spoonful on its own!  Garbanzo beans are full of fiber and a good source of vegetarian protein.  Soaking dried garbanzo beans overnight cuts down on anti-nutrients and speeds up the cooking time.  Olive oil and tahini contribute to a creamy texture and healthy fats, and using water cuts down on the amount of fat naturally.  Garlic boosts immunity and improves overall cardiovascular health.  Black pepper increases the absorbency of turmeric, which has anti-inflammatory benefits.  Go ahead and give this The Good Life staple a try!

Ingredients:

  • 5 oz garbanzo beans (+ a few extra for garnish), soaked overnight, rinsed and cooked
  • 1 oz olive oil (or a little less if using water from cooking garbanzo beans. + more for garnish)
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1/2 inch of fresh turmeric or 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp paprika (+ more for garnish)
  • Pinch sea salt

Directions:

  1. Blend all ingredients together in a food processor.
  2. Adjust for desired taste and texture.
  3. Spoon the mixture into a bowl.
  4. Garnish by sprinkling black pepper and paprika and extra garbanzo beans.  Drizzle olive oil on top.
  5. Serve warm or room temperature with crackers and cut veggies.  Lasts approximately one week in the fridge.

Yields: 6 servings

 

 

Neti-Pots

Why You Should (and How To) Use a Neti Pot

Neti

When I first saw my mom’s yoga teacher use a neti-pot, I thought “Eww, gross, I am NEVER doing that!  Who puts water up the nose?”

Fast forward several years.  I now use a neti-pot regularly – usually every Sunday before I drink hot lemon water and sometimes mid-week, as needed.  While the actual process isn’t the most pleasurable (at least not for me), I breathe noticeably easier immediately after and (maybe I am just imagining it) my nose looks slimmer after all the gunk is out.  When I skip a week, I can see and feel a change.  The process becomes more comfortable if done regularly.

Narcissism aside, using a neti-pot has several benefits, including relief from nasal and sinus congestion without the use of drugs.  This is especially beneficial for those suffering from seasonal allergies.  It is also relatively easy to incorporate in your weekly routine and is inexpensive (neti-pots range from $10 to $30).

Using a neti-pot is very simple (once you get the hang of it) and its benefits are tremendous (and this comes from a person who thought “eww, no way” the first time she heard of it).  It’s best done at least once a week, or more as needed.

Here is what you do:

  1. Clear your nose out as much as possible before using the neti-pot.
  2. Dissolve about ¼ teaspoon salt in lukewarm water in the neti-pot.
  3. Lean your head forward over the sink, with your chin slightly down toward your chest.  Insert the neti-pot spout at the entrance of your right nostril.  The positioning is different for each person, so experiment to see what works for you.
  4. Tilt your head to the left until water starts pouring into the nostril from the neti-pot.  Keep your mouth open and breathe through your mouth (don’t inhale through your nose).  Allow the water to pour in between your nasal passage and drain out the other nostril, taking out any excess mucus and gunk.  It may feel a bit funny (it tickles the back of my throat), but continue on until you have drained the pot.
  5. Blow out any excess water.
  6. Repeat the process with fresh water and salt for the other nostril.
  7. Use a mild soap and warm water to clean the Neti-pot, and let it air-dry.

More Tips:

  • Use warm boiled and distilled water.
  • Use sea salt or a salt designed for use in a neti-pot.
  • After using the neti-pot, insert a few drops of sesame oil or coconut oil inside the nostril to moisturize.  Dabbing a Q-tip with oil and using it to coat the inside of your nostrils works well.

If it doesn’t work the first time (and it didn’t for me), don’t give up.  Practice again until it feels comfortable.  Try and let me know how it goes!

Chocolat Pot De Creme

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Wow your guests with this surprisingly decadent and chocolatey dessert!  It requires minimal preparation and is surprisingly easy to whip up.  Cacao powder and cacao nibs are full of antioxidants and maca powder is great for energy and balance, while coconut oil and cashews add healthy fats.  No wonder this amazing dessert is one of my very favorites for clean eating and healthy living!

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cashews, soaked 4 hours, rinsed and drained.
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup raw unfiltered honey
  • 1/8 cup cacao powder
  • 1/8 cup maca powder 1 tsp milled or ground chia seed powder
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp pink Himalayan salt
  • crushed walnuts (optional for topping)
  • chocolate chips (optional for topping)
  • shaved chocolate (optional for topping)
  • cacao nibs (optional for topping)

Directions:

  1. Combine cashews, almond milk, coconut oil, honey, cacao powder, maca powder, chia seed powder, vanilla extract, almond extract, cinnamon, cardamom and salt in a blender until smooth and creamy.
  2. Pour into ramekins or small glass bowls.
  3. Chill in the fridge for at least 4-6 hours.
  4. To serve, garnish with shaved chocolate, crushed walnuts, chocolate chips or cacao nibs.  In a pinch you can also sprinkle some extra cacao powder or maca powder on top.

Yields: 4 servings