Beet Brownies

Beets are rich in minerals and aid in liver detoxification. As we prepare for spring, they are an excellent ingredient to include in roasted vegetable dishes, soups, and in baked goods, too. They lend an earthy sweetness to any dish.

These beautiful root vegetables come in red, pink, yellow and striated varieties. They are a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains. These plant nutrients provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support. They are an excellent source of manganese and vitamin C, which support nervous system health.

Foods belonging to the chenopodium family — including beets, chard, spinach and quinoa — are also high in carotenoids, which support eyesight.

Beets are high in betaine, an essential nutrient made from the B-complex vitamin, choline. Choline reduces inflammation in the cardiovascular system by preventing unwanted build-up of homocysteine, an inflammatory compound.

Here is a beet-based recipe to inspire you. I love making these for both children and adults. The beets blend so well with the chocolate that a deep, rich taste comes through and it's nearly impossible to guess what the "secret ingredient" is.

Red Velvet Brownies

You will need:

  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder

  • 1 1/4 cups brown rice flour or millet flour

  • 2 eggs or 4 tablespoons flaxseed meal

  • 3/4 cup maple syrup

  • 1 cup boiled, blended beets

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond or rice milk

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • a pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Coarsely chop beets and place them in a pot. Cover them with water and boil for 15 minutes, or until fork tender.

Strain off water and place beets in a blender or food processor with almond/rice milk. Blend well.

Add all other ingredients and blend well.

Oil a glass baking dish or pie plate with coconut or sunflower oil.

Pour batter into it and bake for 30 minutes.

Cool for 20 minutes, slice, and enjoy!

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My Favorite Spring Treats

Spring is a time to lighten up, eat fewer refined foods, and move towards the whole, local ingredients that support the health of local farms, the bioregion, and your body.

May this practice of eating simple, seasonal, flavorful food help you connect with nature and welcome each day as an opportunity for rejuvenation and new discovery.

May day is honored in Northern traditional cultures as Beltaine, a celebration of passion, creativity, fertility and the resplendent sun, which shines warmer each day and lingers longer each evening. Spark your passion and creative impulse by getting in the kitchen and making these wholesome treats! They also happen to be vegan and gluten-free.

Sweet Potato Bars

For the crust:

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  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For the topping:

  • 1 pound orange fleshed sweet potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon each: cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg and allspice
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (or any milk you prefer)

Chop and boil the sweet potatoes. Keep the skin on for maximum nutritional benefit. Drain them and allow them to cool.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Lightly oil an 8-inch square-baking pan with olive oil. Place all topping ingredients in a food processor bowl and pulse until mixture reaches a coarse meal that's evenly moist.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and press it evenly and firmly into the bottom. Bake the crust for 15 minutes or until set. Remove from oven.

Place all the topping ingredients in the food processor and blend until smooth. There's no need to wash the processor between the crust and the topping.

Pour the mixture onto the crust and smooth the top evenly with a spatula. Bake about 25 minutes. Allow to cool, then chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Enjoy!

Sweet potatoes: high in omega 3 essential fatty acids to tonify the internal organs and strengthen immunity; rich in carotenoids and omega-3s, whose anti-oxidant content offers anti-inflammatory support; high in vitamin C to boost immunity; rich in B vitamins to reduce stress.

Almond Chocolate Chip Bites

You will need:

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  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup organic unsalted almond butter*
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup cocoa nibs

*You can substitute cashew or peanut butter.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a baking sheet with olive oil.

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. 

Using a soup spoon, evenly space scoops of the mixture on the baking sheet. Press down with a spatula or back of the spoon to slightly flatten. 

Bake for about 15 minutes.

Cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring and eating!

Almonds: high in monounsaturated fat, which promotes heart health, helps reduce LDL cholesterol, and aids in carbohydrate metabolism, thus contributing to weight loss; high in flavoproteins to balance blood sugar and improve energy levels; rich in vitamin E to promote cognitive abilities and protect the brain.

Thanks to Rebecca Katz for this inspiration!

Gratitude and Delight

Friends,

I appreciate all who have recently told me that you read this blog. Thank you!

When I write, I often wonder if anyone will read these words and try the recipes and suggestions I offer. 

Always feel free to send me a note or leave a comment at the end of this post. It's nourishing for me to know that we are connecting. Likewise, please let me know how I can best support you and answer your food and health questions.

Recently, a friend and follower let me know how much she liked the smoothie recipes I had posted. She encouraged me to offer more - here goes.

This one's for you!

Love, Lisa

Blueberry Banana Smoothie

Place these ingredients in a blender or Vitamix:

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 cup blueberries (either fresh or frozen and thawed for 10 minutes)

  • 1 ripe banana

  • 2 spoonfuls tahini

  • 1/2 cup spoonful whole milk cow yogurt or coconut yogurt (choose a brand with no added sugar)

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom

Blend well and enjoy for breakfast with quinoa almond pancakes

.

Avocado Date Almond Smoothie

Place these ingredients in a blender or Vitamix:

  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

  • pinch salt

  • 3 Tablespoons coconut oil

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 handful chopped, pitted dates

  • 1 avocado

  • 1 handful almonds

  • 1/4 cup coconut milk

Blend well and enjoy!


Maca Cacao Smoothie

Place these ingredients in a blender or Vitamix in the order listed:

  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon maca powder

  • 2 tablespoons cacao powder

  • 1/4 cup hot water

  • 1 cup coconut milk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 handful pitted dates, chopped

  • 1 handful almonds, chopped

  • 1/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

Blend well and savor slowly. This smoothie is like a dessert pudding that lends endurance, too.

The sustained energy comes from maca, a root indigenous to the Andes that's often prepared as a food within its local context. It is rich in calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. It contains essential fatty acids and amino acids (the building blocks of protein), too.


Green Fruity Delight Smoothie

In a blender, place:

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk

  • 1 ripe avocado

  • 1 green apple, cored and sliced

  • 1 small stalk celery, chopped

  • 2 cups spinach

  • One inch of ginger root (no need to peel if it's organic)

  • 2 teaspoons

  • spirulina powder

  • 1/2 cup water

Blend well. This is an excellent smoothie for cooling summer heat.


Pineapple Mango Happy Belly Smoothie

In a blender or Vitamix, place:

  • 2 cups frozen, diced mango

  • 2 cups frozen, diced pineapple

  • 1 cup coconut milk

  • 1 1/2 cups water

  • 2 handfuls cashews

  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder

Blend well and enjoy! You will boost your metabolism and digest better thanks to these incredible, golden fruits - high in digestive enzymes.


Very Berry Yogurt Smoothie

Place these ingredients in a blender:

  • 2 cups frozen mixed berries

  • 1 medium banana

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened, whole fat yogurt

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg

  • 1 cup water

Blend well and enjoy! 

The yogurt will provide probiotic support to your gut microbiome and its protein content will keep you going until your next meal.


Chia Raspberry Coconut Smoothie

Place these ingredients in a blender:

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 handful raspberries (fresh or frozen and thawed for 10 minutes)

  • 1 spoonful chia seeds

  • 2 spoonfuls shredded, unsweetened coconut

  • ¼ cup coconut milk (full-fat and organic)

Blend well and enjoy for breakfast with quinoa date porridge.

You can try smoothie recipes  with kombucha or with turmeric here

.To learn about the healing properties of these foods, please join email newsletter updates.

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Brownies!

Because it's spring, because the sun is shining, because chocolate has healing powers, try this recipe.

Cacao beans, once harvested, fermented, and roasted, are a particularly potent source of healing antioxidants. 

Georgetown University studies show that flavonols, antioxidants found in chocolate, help lower your levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol and boost "good" HDL cholesterol. They ease inflammation and help prevent clotting and arterial plaque formation.

Natural unsweetened cocoa powder has the highest level of cocoa flavonols and is the healthiest form of chocolate. 


Try to buy organic, Fair Trade–certified cocoa powder. Fair Trade certification aims to protect farmers in developing countries from exploitation by large corporations or from price fluctuations for commodity crops. In order to be Fair Trade–certified, companies are required to pay farmers a fair price for crops, enabling farmers to pay their workers a living wage, avoid using child labor and practice environmentally friendly farming methods.

Brownies


You will need: 
1 1/2 cups rice OR spelt flour
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal (i.e. ground flaxseeds)
1/4 cup organic cocoa powder
pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1/4 cup boiling water

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 
Grease an 8″ x 8″ brownie pan.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, cinnamon and salt together.
Add the maple, vanilla, and oil into the dry ingredients and mix well. 
The batter will be clumpy. 
Add the hot water and mix until batter becomes thick.
Pour into brownie pan and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick/knife comes out clean.
Allow to sit in the pan and cool for about 20 minutes.

Cacao for Health

Drinking Chocolate at Kakawa in Santa Fe, NM
When I think of chocolate, I picture rich and creamy dark chocolate bars from Equatorial climates all over the world. Chocolate makes a great addition to savory dishes as well, such as the mole poblano sauce I enjoyed at Jardin Escondido in Vilcabamba, Ecuador. 

As this precious fermented food becomes more globally available, I remember my grandfather, who only enjoyed chocolate once a year on Christmas day. When I savor cacao, I try to honor its source and all the work required to get it into my kitchen.


Mole Poblano 
Cacao beans, once harvested, fermented, and roasted, are a particularly potent source of healing antioxidants. Georgetown University studies have also shown that flavonols, antioxidants found in chocolate, help lower your levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol and boost "good" HDL cholesterol. They ease inflammation and help prevent clotting and arterial plaque formation.

Natural unsweetened cocoa powder has the highest level of cocoa flavonols and is the healthiest form of chocolate. Try to buy organic, Fair Trade–certified cocoa powder. Fair Trade certification aims to protect farmers in developing countries from exploitation by large corporations or from price fluctuations for commodity crops. In order to be Fair Trade–certified, companies are required to pay farmers a fair price for crops, enabling farmers to pay their workers a living wage, avoid using child labor and practice environmentally friendly farming methods.

Adding cocoa to savory dishes is a great way to get the benefits of chocolate without all the fat and sugar usually found in sweet chocolate-based treats.
Chocolate Chile Bread

Email lisa[at]harmonizedcookery.com for recipes such as: Black Bean Cocoa Soup with Lime Zest; Mole; Chipotle Chicken Stew; Chocolate Chile Bread; Slow Cooker Posole.

Cacao Creations

Based on your requests, I am offering more tantalizing ways to cook and savor cacao. Click this link to let me know what you think! Your feeback helps me improve my offerings. 


Red Chile Mole
¼ cup coconut oil
1 large onion, minced
1 teaspoon red chile powder (ancho is wonderful)
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon cumin powder
2 teaspoons coriander powder
½ teaspoon clove powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup raisins
2 Tbsp. tahini (roasted sesame seed butter)
4 garlic cloves, crushed (in a garlic press)

In a large skillet, melt coconut oil. Add the chile and cumin seeds. Toast on low for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the onion and add it to the skillet. Add the rest of the spices EXCEPT the cocoa powder. This will come later. Cover and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

You can add a splash of water if the onions are sticking to the bottom of the skillet.

In a small bowl, pour boiling water over the raisins. Let them soak for 5 minutes. Drain ¾ of the water, add tahini, and mix well. Add this mixture to the skillet.

Now add the cocoa powder. Stir well to incorporate the flavors. Press the garlic into the skillet and cook, covered, for 5 minutes.

Enjoy over rice, grilled chicken, pinto beans, or cornbread.

***

Chocolate Almond Chicken
You will need:

¼ cup coconut oil

1 large onion, minced
1 inch fresh ginger root, minced
1 teaspoon cumin powder
2 teaspoons coriander powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/4 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
1 cup almond milk

1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 pound organic, free-range chicken breasts or boneless chicken thighs
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

In a large skillet, melt coconut oil. Chop the onion and ginger. Add these to the skillet. Add the rest of the spices EXCEPT the cocoa powder. Saute for 5 minutes.

Add the chicken, raise the heat to high and saute, stirring constantly with a metal spatula, for 5 minutes or until chicken is lightly browned.

Add the almonds and almond milk.

Cover and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.

Now add the cocoa powder. Stir well or whisk gently to incorporate the flavors. Press the garlic into the skillet and cook, covered, for 5 minutes.

Enjoy over corn tortillas and with a side of cooked greens if you like.

***
Corn Tortillas
You will need:
2 cups masa harina (fine corn flour)
water
1 teaspoon lime juice
2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon or olive oil



The night before making tortillas:
In a mixing bowl, place 1 ½ cups masa harina, lime juice, salt, and enough water to make a thick batter.Cover with cloth and allow to sit for 8 to 24 hours.


Stir well. Let the dough remain like a thick batter.
Heat a cast-iron or heavy-bottomed skillet on high heat. Add enough oil to coat skillet thinly.


Prepare dough by mixing remaining ½ cup masa harina and olive oil into batter.
If you have whole corn kernels, add a handful to the batter for texture.

Pour batter in pancake shapes on skillet and cook for 2 minutes on first side and 4 minutes on second side. Use a spatula to flip.

If the oil on the skillet is smoking, reduce heat, wipe off with a paper towel, and resume process with less oil.

When each tortilla is done, place it in a damp cloth and cover it to keep pliable.

***

Cardamom Brownies with Raspberry Jam Swirl
Dry ingredients:
1 ½ cups flour (spelt OR a mixture of millet and rice for gluten-free option)
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon each: cardamom and cinnamon

Wet ingredients:
2 eggs OR 4 Tablespoons flaxseed meal
½ cup maple syrup 
¼ cup melted coconut oil
1 cup chopped, unsweetened chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir together.

Make a well in the center, combine the wet ingredients and stir until thoroughly blended. Incorporate dry into wet and stir until just blended.

Grease 8 or 9 inch baking pan with vegetable oil. Pour batter into greased pan. 

Take 4 Tablespoons of raspberry jam (I like Bionaturae or another fruit-sweetened kind) and whisk it in a spouted container with 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil. Pour in a pattern all over the brownie batter. Have fun with the swirling patterns!

Bake for 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center tests slightly damp. Allow brownies to cool for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.


***

Pear Chocolate Tart
For the crust:
1 ½ cups flour (wheat-free : ¾ cup each barley & spelt; gluten-free: 1 cup millet four & ½ cup rice flour)
1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup solid coconut oil, cut into pearl-sized chunks
pinch salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup almond milk

About 2 fresh, ripe pears, sliced into eight sections 

For the filling:
1 egg (OR 2 T flaxseed meal dissolved in boiling water if you prefer vegan)
¾ cup maple syrup
¼ cup melted coconut oil 
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup almond milk
1 cup chopped unsweetened chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a pie plate with vegetable oil.

Combine all the crust ingredients EXCEPT almond milk. Coat the coconut oil with flour. Add the milk,  stir gently, and press into the pie plate to make a crust. Do not worry if it doesn't go all the way up the sides. Just use your hands to make sure it is of uniform thickness.

Arrange the pears over the crust.

In the same bowl, mix the ingredients for the filling. Pour them over the pears.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center tests clean.
Serve with a garnish of maple yogurt of you like.

***
Zoom Balls
You will need:
1 cup tahini (roasted sesame seed butter)
½ cup cashew or almond butter
¼ cup honey (more or less to taste)
¼ cup toasted, ground oats
3 Tablespoons coarsely chopped almonds or sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon each: cinnamon and cardamom powder
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Mix tahini, nut butter and honey until smooth.
Add oats and nuts - mix in well.  Mix in enough coconut to make dough thick.
Add spices and cocoa powder. Mix once more.
Roll the dough into small balls. You can also spread the mixture onto a baking sheet and cut into squares.
Store the balls in baking tins in a cool place. They will last for 3 weeks.