Tag Archives: chocolate

Chocolate-Covered Probiotic Protein Bites

22 Oct

This weekend marks my sixth half marathon (!) in two years’ time. And this time, I’ve taken on the additional challenge of running a 5k the evening before. My training plan has incorporated shorter runs the day before my long runs, so I feel physically and mentally prepared for this. It’s a Halloween-themed run, and I’m sure I’ll see plenty of amazing costumes on the course. Stay tuned for a complete review and tons of pictures. Until then, I’ll be snacking on these Chocolate-Covered Probiotic Protein Bites!

Chocolate-Covered Probiotic Protein Bites | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

All of this running and racing has taught me to pay more attention to the health of my gut. The gut is responsible for digestion, which is insanely important for our health. Probiotics aid in this digestion, which requires the bacteria in our gut to be balanced. An unhealthy gut might result in a variety of unpleasant issues, such as constipation, indigestion, gas, and more (Global Healing Center).

Furthermore, the microbiome that is the gut is thought to affect our brains: how we think and feel. “Recent studies have found that autistic people’s microbiome differs significantly from control groups.” “Gut bacteria can influence anxiety and depression.” Prebiotics have been shown to “lower levels of a key stress hormone, cortisol, and in a test involving a series of words flashed quickly on a screen, [subjects] focused more on positive information and less on negative.” Probiotic eaters “reacted more calmly to images than the control group,” which scientists think “changed the makeup of the subjects’ gut microbes, and that this led to the production of compounds that modified brain chemistry.” (The Atlantic)

Chocolate-Covered Probiotic Protein Bites | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Finally, “it’s not yet clear how the microbiome alters the brain. Most researchers agree that microbes probably influence the brain via multiple mechanisms. Scientists have found that gut bacteria produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and GABA, all of which play a key role in mood (many antidepressants increase levels of these same compounds). Certain organisms also affect how people metabolize these compounds, effectively regulating the amount that circulates in the blood and brain. Gut bacteria may also generate other neuroactive chemicals, including one called butyrate, that have been linked to reduced anxiety and depression. Cryan and others have also shown that some microbes can activate the vagus nerve, the main line of communication between the gut and the brain. In addition, the microbiome is intertwined with the immune system, which itself influences mood and behavior.” (The Atlantic)

Chocolate-Covered Probiotic Protein Bites | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Now we know how the gut works, and why it’s so important to maintain a healthy gut! Consuming probiotic foods are one way to aid gut health, but these should be paired with prebiotic foods, to ensure the most effective absorption of nutrients. This is because “probiotics are living organisms, while prebiotics are indigestible fibers that provide nourishment for the probiotics—much like fertilizer for a garden” (Hyperbiotics).

Chocolate-Covered Probiotic Protein Bites | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Still with me? Let’s get to the recipe 🙂 One form of a probiotic is fermented foods. Tempeh is a delicious, high-protein fermented soy product that can be eaten raw or cooked. Chocolate is also a fermented food (watch Michael Pollan’s series “Cooked” for an amazing look into the fermentation of chocolate). Bananas, almonds, and coconut are examples of prebiotic foods, and thus pair incredibly well with tempeh and chocolate.

Chocolate-Covered Probiotic Protein Bites | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Tempeh slices ready for chocolate!

I KNOW how weird it sounds to think of tempeh in a sweet application. But TRUST ME, it’s amazing. On its own, tempeh has a wonderful nutty flavor to it. And what’s better than chocolate and banana and nuts?! Dairy-free, semi-sweet or dark chocolate is a simple way to keep these healthy bites vegan, and you should be sure to use chocolate that’s not loaded with sugar (I’m talking to you, milk chocolate).

Chocolate-Covered Probiotic Protein Bites | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Vegan chocolate chips were on sale, so I stocked up!

Chocolate-Covered Probiotic Protein Bites

Makes 12 bites

  • 1/2 block plain tempeh
  • 1 just-ripe banana
  • 6 oz semi-sweet vegan chocolate (chips or a baking block are fine – I used Chatfield’s vegan semi-sweet chips)
  • 12 raw almonds
  • 1/4 C unsweetened shredded coconut

Line a baking sheet or plate with parchment paper; set aside.

Cut a block of tempeh into two equal pieces. Save one half for another meal. Then, slice the second half into two thin sheets. Cut each into 6 pieces, so you have 12 total, equal pieces; they should be about one-square inch in size. Set aside.

Peel the banana and slice into even pieces, about as thick as the tempeh squares. You want them to match up fairly well for easy stacking.

In a glass bowl, slowly microwave the chocolate until completely melted. Be sure to stir will every 30-60 seconds to avoid burning the chocolate.

Now for the assembly! Begin by dabbing a little melted chocolate onto one side of the tempeh squares and press a banana coin on top (yes, these are different shapes, but the mismatched look is totally in). Then, spread a little chocolate onto the parchment paper. Place a tempeh-banana stack on the chocolate and spoon more chocolate on top, and spread it down to cover the sides as best you can. Top with an almond and sprinkle with shredded coconut.

Repeat the chocolate-covering process with the remaining tempeh-banana stacks.

Place the sheet pan in the fridge and let set for an hour. Transfer the Chocolate-Covered Probiotic Protein Bites to an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator.

Eat them cold or let them set out on a counter for 10 minutes before enjoying for a softer treat. I would NOT recommend freezing these, because the frozen tempeh needs to thaw, but this will cause the banana to loose its shape and weep out its juices.

Chocolate-Covered Probiotic Protein Bites | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

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Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Shrubhattan

22 May

With summer right around the corner, it’s time for more than just wine and beer! I love a good cocktail, but have realized that’s just not my preference during the colder months (which makes up the majority of the year in Wisconsin). So when The Recipe Redux challenged us to post a creative cocktail concoction this month, I was right on board!

This cocktail has all sorts of flavors going on. First, you must make the shrub. In its most basic form, a shrub is an acidulated beverage. According to Wikipedia, “the word “shrub” [refers] to a cocktail or soft drink that was popular during America’s colonial era, made by mixing a vinegared syrup with spirits, water, or carbonated water. The term “shrub” can also be applied to the sweetened vinegar-based syrup, from which the cocktail is made; the syrup is also known as drinking vinegar. Drinking vinegar is often infused with fruit juice, herbs and spices for use in mixed drinks.”

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Shrubhattan | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

In the case of this recipe, we’ll be using the latter definition of “shrub,” as we’ll mix our homemade shrub with a spirit, flavoring, and soda water to create a refreshing and complex cocktail.

If a “vinegar-based syrup” makes you pucker up in disgust, hear me out! The syrup is made from equal parts of fruit, sugar, and vinegar. It’s slightly tangy, but retains a sweetness that makes for a wonderfully balanced drink. It’s a great way to make a cocktail that’s not too sweet (like an Old Fashioned), and not too bitter (like a gin & tonic).

The twist in this shrub comes from the chocolate-balsamic vinegar! My mom found this vinegar on a trip to Door County, WI and thought I’d like it. What better way to use a special vinegar than in a special cocktail? 🙂

Speaking of special, this cocktail is great for celebrations of all types. Simply make the shrub ahead of time, and with a bottle each of bourbon and chocolate bitters, you’ll have an easy cocktail ready to make for an entire gathering!

Chocolate-Balsamic Strawberry Shrub

Makes 2 cups shrub

  • 1 C quartered strawberries
  • 1 C cane sugar
  • 1/2 C apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 C chocolate-balsamic vinegar

Wash, de-stem and quarter the strawberries. Place the berries in a bowl or wide-mouthed mason jar and pour the sugar on top. You can muddle the berries a bit with a wooden spoon. Cover and let sit in the fridge 24-48 hours.

Next, stir in the vinegars, cover and shake/stir. Let this refrigerate for two to ten days! Shake/stir this mixture a few times per day to ensure the sugar dissolves. The flavor mellows over time, so the longer you let it sit, the more mellow it will taste.

Finally, strain out the fruit into a bowl using a fine-mesh strainer. Use a large spoon to press down on the fruit to ensure all the syrup is expelled. Transfer the shrub to a clean bottle or mason jar and make some cocktails! The shrub can be refrigerated until you drink it all.

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Shrubhattan

Makes 1 cocktail

  • 2 oz bourbon, my favorite is Eagle Rare, but Buffalo Trace or another smooth bourbon would work
  • 3/4 oz chocolate-balsamic strawberry shrub
  • 2 dashes chocolate bitters, I used Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters
  • Soda water, to fill

Stir together the bourbon, shrub, and bitters over ice. Strain into chilled cocktail glass and top off with soda water.

For a non-alcoholic drink, mix one ounce of the shrub into a glass of soda water for a refreshing, yet complex beverage.

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Mexican Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups {vegan, paleo, gluten free, dairy free, egg free}

28 Apr

I received free samples of the Barlean’s products mentioned in this post. All opinions are my own; I was not compensated for my time.

Cookies have always been a dessert mainstay in my family. Grandma made the BEST EVER chocolate chip cookies, Oma’s Christmas cookie variety never ceases to please (lemon hearts for me!!), and my mom can make some mighty delicious peanut butter cookies. As a child, making chocolate chip cookies with mom, we’d always make a double-batch, so that we could eat half the dough while the other half baked!

What’s more, as a lifelong Girl Scout, I sold cookies from age 5, all the way through senior year of high school – and consumed quite a few along the way! Oreos, Fig Newtons, monster cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, the list is endless. I was born a Cookie Monster, and part of me will always be one.

Mexican Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

But cookies aren’t exactly a picturesque health food. Sure, indulgence is fine now and then – I’ll never say no to a cookie from my Oma! But what about more frequent sweet tooth urges? How do I best satisfy those cravings?

Mexican Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

One of the cookie treats we always made for parties, potlucks, or share-at-school sweets were these delectable chocolate chip cookie cups, filled with a creamy chocolate buttercream. The recipe is simple enough: prepare cookie dough as per directions on the back of a Nestle semi-sweet morsels package. Stuff dough into mini muffin tins (or normal muffin tins if you’re feeling generous), bake, indent and fill with prepared chocolate frosting.

Sweet on top of sweet? Heck yes.

Which is why I wanted to perform a #RecipeMakeover on these tasty frosting vessels. A paleo chocolate chip cookie dough replaces the old standard, and is filled with what turned out to be a cross between chocolate ganache and buttercream.

The problem with most paleo or alternative cookie recipes is that they lose their butter flavor when you make them with coconut oil. But Barlean’s has you covered, because they make an organic coconut oil that’s BUTTER FLAVORED. That’s right folks. It tastes like butter, but isn’t butter. Move over, Fabio – I CAN believe it’s not butter! They “sustainably harvested organic coconuts, then add butter flavoring that comes only from botanical extracts.” Aka, it’s vegan, GMO-free, contains no gluten or soy, and doesn’t even taste like coconut. How cool is that?

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Fabio can’t believe it.

As such, these cookies maintain the delicious butter flavor that traditional cookies can boast, in both the cup AND the frosting! These are great for parties, or just to have on hand to satisfy that sweet tooth. They’re even freezable – instructions are below in the recipe.

Mexican Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway! The prize pack is valued at over $200, and one lucky winner will get it all! This giveaway is open worldwide except where prohibited. Update: The Rafflecopter giveaway has closed.

Mexican Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups

Makes 18 mini cookie cups

For the cookie cups:

  • 2 C almond meal
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 C Barlean’s Butter-Flavored Organic Coconut Oil, melted
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 C mini vegan and/or paleo chocolate chips

For the frosting:
  • 3 oz chopped unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 3 tbsp Barlean’s Butter-Flavored Organic Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 C powdered sugar, or paleo alternative
  • up to 1/4 C nondairy milk

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 24 mini-muffin cups.

In a medium bowl, whisk together almond meal, salt, baking soda, cayenne, and cinnamon. Then mix in the coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla.

Fold in the chocolate chips. Using a cookie scoop, divide dough into prepared muffin tins. Press down lightly in the center to make a well in each of them.

Bake at 350 for 9-11 minutes, until the edges are set. Remove and set on a wire rack. Use a teaspoon or measuring spoon to make an indentation, so the cookies become little cups.

Let cool completely in the tins – this will help them hold their shape. Use a knife to carefully release the cooled cookies from their tin.

To make the frosting, heat the chopped chocolate with the coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until completely combined. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, cayenne, cinnamon, and salt.

Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool in the fridge 15-30 minutes. Remove and beat with a hand mixer. Slowly add in the sugar and milk and continue to beat until light and fluffy. Use as much milk as you need to get the desired texture. Transfer the frosting to a piping bag and fill each cooled cookie cup. Or, use two small spoons to fill the cookie cups.

Serve immediately, or refrigerate until you intend to serve these. They also freeze well for a satisfying and guilt-free snack! Simply freeze on a tray for five hours, then wrap well in plastic wrap. Let thaw three hours before eating.

I’ll leave you with this horribly embarrassing photo, in which I was about 9 years old. My sister is next to me, blowing out candles on her 8th birthday cake. And sure enough, in the foreground, you can see a platter of chocolate chip cookie cups! Thanks to mom, Ron, and Helen for the timely sharing of this photo 🙂

fbf cookie cups

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