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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Keeping Blood Sugar Balanced

When eating treats, it's great to choose those that contain protein. 

Because it takes the body longer to digest protein, blood sugar remains stable when eating sweets with protein. The digestive process takes all carbohydrates and turns them into glucose, a kind of sugar that's and released into the blood stream for energy.

Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps cells to absorb glucose once it's in the blood stream so that they can use it to generate energy. However, if there is too much circulating glucose in the system, the body gets overloaded. 

By consuming excessive carbohydrates and sugar without the protein to slow down the release of glucose into the blood steam, sugar levels and hence insulin levels can become chronically elevated. This elevation can lead to inflammation, high blood sugar and pre-diabetes (also known as insulin resistance).

Combining sweets and protein helps our body make the best use of the energy we gain from treats and keeps blood sugar balanced. Protein sources include: nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, meat, eggs, and cheese.

Nut Butter Chocolate Chippers

You will need:

  • 1/4 cup creamy almond butter or peanut butter

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, softened

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar

  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 cups sorghum or brown rice flour

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (try to find ones sweetened with rice syrup instead of cane sugar)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Oil a cookie sheet with coconut oil.

In a large bowl, whisk together almond butter, coconut oil, applesauce, coconut sugar, flaxseed, and vanilla. Mix in flour, cinnamon and salt until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Flatten in a criss cross pattern with the tines of a fork. Bake for about 15 minutes.

Let cool on pan for 5 minutes before enjoying.

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My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

Looking for a healthy treat recipe that kids and adults alike will enjoy?

I have many on this blog, including:

Coconut milk brownies

Pineapple ginger upside down cake

Maple pecan fudge

These cookies are amazing because they taste good and are high in protein, which curbs the blood sugar spike and subsequent crash that happen when we eat sweets without protein.

My (Current) Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

You will need:

  • 1 /4 cup coconut flour

  • 1 cup almond flour

  • 1 /4 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips

  • a pinch of salt

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 2 eggs, whisked

  • 1 /3 cup maple syrup

  • 3 tablespoons almond milk

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium-size mixing bowl mix together flours, spices, and chocolate chips. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.

Add the eggs, almond milk, maple syrup, almond milk, coconut oil and vanilla extract. Whisk these together, then incorporate with the other ingredients.

Oil a cookie sheet with coconut oil. Place on cookie sheet in heaping spoonfuls. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

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Flourless Chocolate Cake

Summer is transitioning into its late stages and we move from enjoying the bitter flavor of quinoa olives and salad greens to embracing the sweet flavor of millet and round vegetables.

Why not mix the bitter and the sweet in this delicious chocolate cake recipe? Try it and let me know what you think. It makes a great birthday cake.

You will need:

  • 1 bar dark chocolate 80%

  • 1/2 cup butter

  • 1 cup maple syrup

  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder

  • 3 tablespoons coconut flour

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • A pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat.

Place in food processor with all other ingredients.

Blend well.

Pour in greased cake pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Dust with cocoa powder or cover with

coconut frosting

if you like.

Healthy Summer Treats

During these long summer days, we can support ourselves and maintain balanced energy with healthy treats. Instead of grabbing something quick and chock full of preservatives when you are starved, pack some of these treats in your snack bag.

As always, be well and enjoy whatever you eat.

Maple Pecan Fudge

You will need:

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil

  • 1/4 cup almond butter

  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: cinnamon and nutmeg

Place all ingredients in a blender and combine.

Fold in 1/2 cup pecans.

Pour into a loaf pan lined with parchment/waxed paper. Allow the mixture to cool in the freezer or fridge into solid. Slice into small 1 inch by 1 inch squares or slices. Because of the coconut oil, these will melt if not kept in the fridge or freezer.

Protein Power Squares

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats

  • 1 banana, mashed

  • 1/3 cup nut butter

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

  • 1/4 C chopped walnuts

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix everything together. Shape into squares. Refrigerate and enjoy!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Snack Bars

You will need:

  • 1 cup peanut butter (no sugar, organic) - substitute any nut butter you prefer

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

  • 2 cups cooked brown rice

  • 1 cup chopped almonds, cashews, or pecans

  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Melt peanut butter and maple over low heat.

Once all of the mixture is all melted, add the rice and chopped nuts.

Mix all of it together and press it into a 9×13 pan.

While the rice part is cooling, melt the chocolate chips, cinnamon and vanilla over low heat. I just use the same pan for this part to save on dish washing.

Spread the chocolate chip mixture over the rice base, put in the fridge to let cool and soften.

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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!

Coconut Milk Brownies

Last night, I attended a pot luck and, as usual, decided to create an experimental dessert without following a recipe. I love the mystery and delight that arise through this creative process.

I knew that some of the potluck attendees are gluten-free and dairy-free. Others prefer not to eat any refined beet / cane sugar. I wanted to keep the ingredients list simple, so I created this recipe.

The more you cook without recipes, the more you will understand which ingredients combine best. Keep experimenting! Try these brownies and let me know what you think. The beauty is that they only contain 5 ingredients, most of which you may already have in your pantry.

Coconut Milk Brownies

You will need:

  • 1 can organic coconut milk, full fat

  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder

  • 1 1/4 cups brown rice flour

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 cup maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Blend all ingredients with an immersion or upright blender.

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

Pour batter into it and bake for 35 minutes.

Cool, slice, and enjoy!

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Zucchini!

By popular demand, here is a compendium of zucchini recipes to fulfill the summer abundance of this

amazing food.

When I have too much zucchini, I shred it, put it in freezer bags, and freeze it for winter soups and breads.

Zucchini is a member of the cucurbitaceae family (along with pumpkins, melons, and summer squash). It provides a very good amount of dietary fiber (2.5 grams per cup); rich in pectin fibers to help regulate blood sugar; reduces inflammation in the cardio-vascular system and gastro-intestinal tract; rich in B vitamins.

Savory Zucchini Cakes

You will need:

  • 1 teaspoon each: turmeric, coriander, salt

  • 2 cups zucchini, shredded

  • 3 Tablespoons olive or sunflower oil

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 minced garlic clove

  • ½ cup cornmeal

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Grease a cookie sheet with olive or sunflower oil.

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk well.

With a soup spoon, scoop out cakes and place them cookie sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes, flip with spatula, bake for 15 more minutes, and savor the results. Try these with quinoa pilaf

.

Grain-Free Zucchini Blueberry Bread

You will need:

  • 1 cup shredded zucchini

  • 1/2 cup blueberries

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal

  • 4 tablespoons coconut flour

  • 1/2 cup almond flour

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

  • a pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Oil a loaf pan with sunflower oil.

Blend all ingredients in the order listed.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

This is great for breakfast topped with poached eggs or almond butter.

Classic Zucchini Walnut Bread

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 4 tablespoons sunflower oil

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • 1/3 cup maple syrup

  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat or spelt flour

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

  • a pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Oil a loaf pan with sunflower oil.

Blend all ingredients in the order listed.

Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.

Delicious. Freezes well.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 4 tablespoons sunflower oil

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup

  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat, spelt, or brown rice flour

  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder

  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • a pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Oil a cake pan with sunflower oil.

Blend all ingredients in the order listed.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

These make great cupcakes, too! Just place the batter in muffin tins instead of a cake pan. Bake cupcakes for 20 minutes instead.

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Foods For Mental Health

At some point in our lives, most of us experience anxiety and / or depression. Here are some foods that can help soothe those responses and bring balance to the body, mind, and spirit.

Herbs and Spices

Chamomile Tea

Sip on this natural anti-anxiety medicine for its natural calming effect. This soothing, mild tea helps decrease anxiety symptoms in just a few weeks. Drink a cup after dinner. Sweeten with a bit of raw honey if you like.

Dark Chocolate

It’s true! The Journal of Psychopharmacology has published a study revealing that people who eat about 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate (75% or more) per day, feel more calm than those who do not. Just be aware that chocolate does contain caffeine. Be sure to eat it before 3 p.m. to avoid it affecting your sleep.

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Turmeric

Curcuminoids, the antioxidants in turmeric, have a neuro-protective quality and help enhance your mood. These antioxidants are an effective option for major depressive disorder, which is closely linked to anxiety disorders. Cook with turmeric powder when you can and take a supplement to support your dietary intake.



Whole Grains

Oats

Oats are high in fiber to lower cholesterol levels and reduce risk of heart disease. They ease digestive stress and support healthy transit time; enhance immune response to infection and stabilize blood sugar; calm and soothe the nervous system to alleviate mild depression.

Brown Rice

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recommends choosing whole grains such as brown rice rather than refined grain like white rice or flour to maintain a healthy body weight; high in fiber and selenium to ensure healthy digestion and mental clarity; contains phenolics, antioxidants that work to prevent disease and soothe the nervous system.



High Quality Meat and Fermented Dairy

Full-Fat Kefir & Yogurt

The gut is considered the "second brain" because it's home to 95% of your "feel good" hormone seratonin. With more than 100 million neurons, a healthy gut helps manage stress and reduce depression and anxiety. Bacterial imbalances in your gut can alter brain chemistry. Kefir, an fermented dairy drink much like liquid yogurt, is a powerful pro-biotic, which contains fat soluble vitamins A, D and K for brain health. If you prefer yogurt, choose the full-fat, unsweetened kind (I like Butter Works Farm or Brown Cow Brand). Add maple syrup and home-made granola for a delicious breakfast.

Turkey

This delicious meat is rich in tryptophan, a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin, which helps you to feel calm. Tryptophan in the form of meat has been proven to reduce anxiety. Choose antibiotic-free turkey whenever possible.

Grass-Fed Organ Meats

If you eat meat, grass-fed, organic organ meats are some of the best sources of nutrients (like zinc and Vitamin D) needed to reduce anxiety. Liver is also abundant in B vitamins, which are needed for methylation, a metabolic process in the body that is responsible for balancing the hormones that regulate mood. Cook chicken or beef liver with onions and purée it in the blender to make a delicious spread.



Vegetables

Asparagus

This sulfur-rich vegetable also contains the specifically beneficial B vitamin, folic acid. Low levels of folic acid can lead to neurotransmitter impairment and cause anxiety. A 5.3-ounce serving provides 60% of the recommended daily allowance for folic acid! It also contains moderate amounts of potassium, which can lower blood pressure.

Avocados

These fruits are wonderful for maintaining balanced brain health, thus reducing the stress that leads to anxiety and depression. They contain potassium, which helps naturally lower blood pressure. Avocados are also rich in beneficial B vitamins and monounsaturated fats that are essential for the health of the nervous system. 

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Leafy Greens

Those who feel stress and anxiety can increase intake of dark leafy greens like spinach, chard, kale, and collard greens. These plant foods are rich in magnesium, which helps us relax. It also regulates the connection between the brain and endocrine system so that we go out of ‘fight or flight’ mode and into relaxation mode.


Fats

Inflammation is one factor when it comes to brain health and anxiety. Omega-3 fats decrease anxiety. Omega-rich foods like Alaskan salmon, grass-fed beef, chia and flax seeds, and winter squash can also help decrease inflammation and help cortisol and adrenaline from spiking.

Olive oil

Monounsaturated and liquid at room temp., first cold press olive oil is high in anti-inflammatory polyphenols, which reduce risk of heart disease, maintain a balanced cholesterol profile, and reduce the overgrowth of ulcer-inducing helicobacter pylori bacteria in the intestines. It improves calcium levels in the blood and enhances memory function by oxygenating blood.

Sunflower oil

This polyunsaturated oil is rich in vitamin E, which stimulates the liver rejuvenation and aids in nutrient absorption; its high magnesium content soothes nerves and muscles, acts as a diuretic to counter-act water retention, and lubricates the digestive system to aid elimination.

Coconut oil

Saturated fat, solid at room temperature, is a plant-based alternative to saturated animal fats. It stimulates brain function and promotes intestinal motility; its anti-bacterial benefits make it an important fat to choose during times of illness or infection and is specifically indicated for combating intestinal parasites.


Coconut Avocado Smoothie

Place these ingredients in a blender:

  • ½ teaspoon each: cinnamon and cardamom

  • a pinch salt

  • ½ can unsweetened, full-fat organic coconut milk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 avocado

Blend well and enjoy!


Vegetable Walnut Cobbler

For the cobbler:

  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 red onion, chopped

  • 3 medium zucchini, chopped

  • 1 packed cups of fresh spinach

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

  • 1 teaspoon each: salt and pepper

  • For the topping:

  • 2 cups quick oats

  • 1/2 cup cornmeal

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon each: coriander, cumin, and paprika

  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

  • 5 tablespoons butter OR coconut oil

  • 1 cup milk of your choosing

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Lightly oil a baking dish and set aside.

Pour the olive oil into a skillet and add chopped onion and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add zucchini, nutmeg, salt, and pepper and cook for 10 more minutes Add spinach, turn off heat, stir well, and spread into baking dish.

Bake the vegetables for 10 minutes while you prepare the topping.

For the topping, mix all ingredients together except butter / oil.

Cut butter / oil into chunks in the mixture and gently fold together.

Add milk, mix briefly to incorporate, and set aside.

Remove vegetables from oven, top with clumps of topping mixture, and bake for 20 minutes more.

Remove from oven, let cool for 5 minutes, and enjoy!

GET CREATIVE: Use collards and sweet potatoes instead of spinach and zucchini.

Chocolate Pie

This wonderfully delicious pie is raw, gluten-free, and rich in protein and natural sweetness from dates and maple syrup.

It's a great alternative to Halloween candy, too.

You can watch this video to learn how to make it with me.

CHOCOLATE PIE

For the crust:

  • 6 dates, pitted, soaked briefly in hot water, and drained

  • 1 cup almonds

  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds

  • A pinch of salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom

Blend these all in the food processor.

Grease a pie dish with sunflower oil or coconut oil.

Flatten crust into the bottom and sides of the dish.

For the filling:

  • 1 cup cashews, blended in food processor

  • 1 cup cocoa powder

  • 1/4 cup boiling water

  • 1 spoonful coconut butter

  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup

  • 2 tablespoons chopped almonds as a topping

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.

Spread filling over crust and sprinkle chopped almonds over the top.

Chill for at least half an hour and enjoy!

If you prefer a hot pie, you can bake it at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

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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.

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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.