Chocolate Coconut Bites

Chocolate Coconut Bites

I’ve struggled with iron deficiency since I was young. Having been a vegetarian from age 7-16 but also a picky eater, I almost exclusively ate bread and cheese for every meal. And french fries. When I first found out I was iron-deficient in high school, I started really paying attention to nutrition, so much so that I decided to make it my LIFE! Who knew? Now that I am an omnivore who eats mostly plant-based, my iron has improved- but I still pay close attention to it. In fact, when I used to work at WIC, we checked all of our patient’s hemoglobin (a bio-marker of iron levels) using a finger stick- so I got to check my iron all the time!

Iron is a component of our blood, and it helps bring energy to our muscles and cells. Women lose a large amount blood every month through menstruation, and also during childbirth. Interestingly, iron deficiency is not a common problem for grown men, and it also is less of a problem for women after menopause. If you experience heavy menstrual bleeding or are pregnant, you may really want to pay attention to your iron intake. You can find out more about the importance of iron, and iron deficiency, and good sources of iron here.

Cacao is a good source of iron, as well as magnesium. I mention this because magnesium, in conjunction with calcium, is involved in muscle contraction and blood clotting. Soooooo, during menstruation, it would make sense that a woman might crave chocolate, because it could replete the nutrients lost, and could also help with cramping! Yes!!! Make sure you tell that to anyone making fun of you for having chocolate cravings. Then, proceed to give them some of these chocolate bites. 

This is a recipe that I made up about a year ago after realizing how delicious coconut butter is. I’ve had friends, family, and co-workers try this and its always been a huge hit. I often get asked for the recipe, but I haven’t been able to give it until now- usually I just throw the stuff in a bowl and I use different ingredients every time! Today I decided to measure my amounts, so what follows is a basic recipe.

However, these little guys are pretty versatile- I’ve also added protein powder, hemp seeds, hemp meal, and flax seeds to these on other occasions and they’ve always been delicious. I also once used cocoa powder in place of the chocolate bar, which you can do, but they won’t hold together as well. These little guys are full of iron, magnesium, fiber, and a bit of protein. They are great for women at that time of the month especially, but can be enjoyed by anyone all the time!

Coconut Chocolate Bites 

choc balls

Should make about one dozen bite sized treats

  • 100 grams or one large bar of at least 70% dark chocolate (I personally use this brand because I love their chocolate and they are fair trade. Learn why that’s important here. Another good brand is Equal Exchange. A RDN who works for them also explains iron in chocolate here.)
  • 1/2 cup coconut butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (or any other liquid sweetener of your choice. I’ve also used honey in this recipe and it worked well.)
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 3/4 cup to 1 cup of nut meal (I’ve personally used almond and hazelnut, both worked great)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)

Directions

Break the chocolate bar into individual pieces and place in a large glass bowl, with the coconut butter. Place in a microwave for one minute, stopping at 30 seconds to stir, or, use a double boiler until all of the chocolate is melted.

Once mixture is melted, slowly add in your sweetener. This is actually a really cool step. When you add your liquid sweetener you will see that the chocolate begins to seize up into a paste! This is because even in a liquid state, chocolate is a relatively dry product, so adding any sort of liquid to it will cause it to act like flour and create a paste. #foodscience

Next, add the chia seeds and incorporate well so they start doing their binding gelling magic. Then, add in nut meal, vanilla, and sea salt. At this point, your mixture should be clumpy and should easily be rolled into balls. If it’s too liquidy, you can add more nut meal, and if its too dry you can add in some water or milk of your choice.

Form the clumps into bite-sized balls by using your hands. Optional step: place unsweetened coconut flakes in a bowl or on a plate and roll in chocolate balls (this is best to do when they are still warm so the coconut will stick. I also think rolling in nut meal could be good here if you don’t like shredded coconut!). Store in a Tupperware or on a covered plate in the refrigerator for up to 12 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

choc balls close up

 

A Green Drink

A Green Drink

I think everyone has their version of this drink. It’s a great way to get in your greens for the day without woofing down a salad. But not all green drinks are created equal.

If you own a juicer, you will have noticed all that gobbeldy gunk that gets extracted as you make the juice, known as the pulp. You might also notice how many gosh darn fruits and veggies it takes to make one ounce of juice.

That is because when you juice something, you are taking out the fiber. And fiber is  an important, and ESSENTIAL part of every diet. It helps ya poo. It helps ya feel feel full- and without it, ya gut goes: “Hay, whaddabout me?”

You see, the lil’ microbes in your gut actually eat the fiber you eat. This keeps them happy and doing all the things they need to do. Without it, they get pretty sad and tired, and tend to back you up and make you bloated. Not to mention that there are a ton of nutrients bound to that fiber that you are loosing when making a juice. Juice has no fiber. 

Of course juicing can be a delicious and healthy habit, but don’t equate drinking a green juice with eating a whole bunch of kale. Its not the same thing.  A better option is to throw all the things in a blender. They’ll be chunkier, but your gut will thank you.

 

green drink3

 

A Green Drink

(this is a great one to start with, but I would encourage you to create your own!)

1/3 cup frozen mango

1/3 cup frozen pineapple

1 cup of greens like kale, swiss chard, or spinach

1 tsp fresh grated ginger

1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon

1 cup of coconut water (plain water works too)

1 tsp spirulina powder (optional)

1 tsp matcha green tea powder (optional)

 

Combine all ingredients into a blender and blend until all the greens and fruit have pureed to a juice consistency. Pour in a glass and enjoy.

 

 

 

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

Probably the best part of being a nutrition major is that a required course is a lab in which you play with food. Sometimes it is boring, such as  concocting starch pastes and racing them down a plastic sheet to see which was most viscous. Or when we cooked broccoli for three hours….

Like, what?

Mostly though, we would walk in and our professor would say something like “we are having a whole-grain feast today, no lab report- yay!” or “today we are making pizzas, just for shoots and giggles!”. Needless to say, this “lab” has provided me with some of my favorite-ever recipes- including these scrumptious peanut butter bars. This recipe uses olive oil as a fat, which sounds “eh”, but works.  I would say these are a good desset or breakfast or whatever your fancy. The chocolate chips are my addition because chocolate. Thanks URI Foods lab! I’m going to miss your weirdness!

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Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

2/3 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup loosely-packed brown sugar
1 cup dry old-fashioned oatmeal
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 large egg, beaten
1 Tbsp 1% milk
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine the flour, sugar, oats, salt and baking soda in a large bowl. Blend together the olive oil, peanut butter, egg and milk in another bowl, using a fork or whisk. Make an indent in the center of the dry ingredients and add the liquid ingredients. Using a rubber spatula, combine the ingredients together. Press the mixture into a 9×9 inch non-stick baking pan and bake for 14-15 minutes, until the edges are browned. Cool in the pan. Cut into 16 bars. Place on a plate and serve.
*ADD: Chocolate chips, raisins, walnuts, peanut butter chips, other delicious things
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Banana Blue Muffins

Banana Blue Muffins

Oh Hello. I know it has been a while. Ok, ok, it has been over a year since I have posted. Guess what? If you don’t know me, I’ll just tell you that I am a consistently inconsistent person. Always have been, always will be.

A lot has happened since I last wrote, including but not limited to: completing a half marathon, spending two weeks in Mexico, completing another year of school, turning twenty-one, landing a job at a hospital, climbing Mt. Washington, becoming one of those people addicted to smoothies, and writing many, many, bad pop songs on the guitar.

Lately I have been pretty into taking run of the mill baked goods and making them into something that could be a hearty breakfast. I love having pastries for breakfast, but I find I usually get really hungry within an hour or two of eating them. So I try to make baked goods with a bit more fiber, protein to help keep me runnin’ until lunch. Some of my experiments have been good (like these), some have been bad (like the time I made chocolate chip cookies and just completely omitted the butter).

Its been a good year, and what way to bring myself back but with Banana Blueberry muffins (yes, these are also an experiment).

Anyways, these will fill you right up and are tasty to beat.

Promise I’m gonna try to stick around. I really am.

Banana Blueberry Muffins
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup honey
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 egg
1/3 cup low-fat plain yogurt (not greek, if you can!)
1 tbsp. low-fat milk
3 ripe bananas (mashed)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Zest of one clementine, or 1 tsp orange zest*
One carton of fresh blueberries (washed and patted dry).

*Orange zest is kinda my thing, I put it in almost everything I can, so you could definitely omit it here.

Preheat oven to 350. Combine all dry ingredients in a small bowl. In a large bowl, mash bananas and combine with all wet ingredients. Stir dry mixture into wet 1/3 at a time, mixing until just combined. Fold in blueberries with a spatula and distribute into 12 muffin tins, either greased or lined with papers. Fill muffin tins to the tops (the muffins with deflate a bit shortly after you take them out of the oven). Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

muff

What’s that? It’s not healthy anymore ’cause I put butter on it? Butter is good for the soul. Haters gon hate.

Butternut Squash Pecan Scones with a Clementine Glaze

Butternut Squash Pecan Scones with a Clementine Glaze

In Costa Rica, pumpkin does not exist, and pumpkin happens to be one of my favorite foods. The day after I returned to Rhode Island in December I decided to go on a pumpkin kick. So of course I visited my local farmer’s market in search of the good stuff. After much searching and no pumpkins I asked senator/farmer Sue Sosnowski what the deal was, and she told me that pumpkins were not storing well this year, but would I like some of her lovely butternut squash?

Pumpkin and butternut squash actually happen to be very similar in texture and taste, despite their different appearance. Both are super high in vitamin A and C and fiber. I bought a lot of it, so I made a simple puree and froze the majority of it. If you only buy a small amount and are planning on eating it, a great way to cook it is to slowly roast it.

To make the puree is simple. Simply peel the squash with a vegetable peeler, remove the seeds (save them to roast later!) and cut up into small cubes of equal size. Drop into a pot of boiling water and cook until tender and easily pierced with a fork. Strain and wait 10 minutes before pureeing in a food processor/blender- and that’s it! It can be helpful to freeze pre-measured amounts for convenience next time you want to cook a pumpkin dish.

I had just seen this awesome recipe for pumpkin ginger scones on one of my favorite blogs, Poor Girl Gourmet, so I decided to take my own little spin on the recipe.

Butternut Squash Pecan Scones with a Clementine Glaze

2 cups flour

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (aka cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves and nutmeg)

1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter kept cold in the fridge

1/2 cup squash puree

1 lightly beaten egg yolk

1/2 cup pecans

2 Tbsp heavy cream plus two more for the for wash

for the glaze:

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 sifted confectioners sugar

1 Tbsp honey (local tastes best)

zest of 1/2 clementine

Preheat oven to 400. In a large bowl combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, spices and mix well. Cut cold butter into small cubes and work into mixture with fingertips (this method ensures the scone’s flaky goodness). In a small bowl combine puree, cream and yolk and mix well. Mix into butter mixture and add pecans. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a large work surface and dust with flour. Roll out dough until it is about 1 inch deep. Cut into 8 wedges and wash with cream. Place parchment paper on baking sheet and bake for 18-20 minutes. In the meantime, combine all ingredients for the glaze and coat scones after 5 minutes of cooling time. Top with more pecans.

This was a really decadent breakfast to wake up to not to mention that they are easy to make.  I think I will definitely be making them again considering I have all that squash in my freezer. A perfect way to surprise your friends on a chilly winter morning. They make the house smell great.

You could also serve them for dessert. Or lunch. Or dinner or….