Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Shake

Happy *almost* Valentine’s Day!

I love all the chocolate-covered goodies this time of year, but this February I pledged to eat refined sugar-free, so I am developing creative ways to make typical Valentine treats healthier!

Today I am sharing my chocolate-covered strawberry shake recipe! ❤

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Here’s what you’ll need for 1 serving:

  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 frozen, organic strawberries
  • 1/4 frozen, organic raspberries
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder
  • 1/2 serving Protein Powder (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon almond butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon maca powder
  • Raw cacao nibs and fresh raspberries for topping

Combine all the ingredients in a blender, whirl them around, and pour your shake into a tall glass. Add a cute paper straw and top with cacao nibs and fresh raspberries.

I especially recommend organic strawberries since inorganic strawberries are essentially “pesticide sponges” and are listed in the “Dirty Dozen,” or the worst foods to eat if they are not organic.

This recipe makes one serving, so double the ingredients and share with a loved one! Spread the love during this season of love–one strawberry shake at a time. ❤

Espresso Hot Chocolate

Espresso Hot Chocolate…I know what you are thinking. Isn’t that simply mocha? Well, sort of. You see, mocha is typically a shot of espresso with milk and chocolate sauce. This recipe is a much healthier version, boasting dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, and low-sugar credentials (although you could never tell since it certainly tastes delicious!).

I have been hooked on coffee (more recently venturing out to try espresso) ever since I sought out sipping caffeine as a natural headache treatment. I love the fragrant, unmistakeable aroma and the pleasant, earthy flavor.

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My recipe combines two of my favorite flavors: coffee and chocolate.

What you will need:

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 packets stevia
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon espresso powder (Omit for plain hot chocolate)
  • Marshmallows (optional; adding this will increase the sugar content)

I love Dandies natural marshmallows or SmashMallow espresso bean-flavored ones as toppings!

Pour all ingredients into a blender, and blend until combined. Then pour this mixture into a mug and either heat on the stove (over medium heat) until warm or microwave for 1 and 1/2 minutes. Snuggle up by the fire and sip for the most relaxing winter treat!

Fun Foodie Fact: One cup of almond milk contains half our daily Vitamin E needs. Vitamin E moisturizes the skin, which is immensely helpful during these cold and dry winter months! {Source: Jolene Hart, CHC, AADP, Author of Eat Pretty}

 

National Cookie Day Recipe Roundup

Happy National Cookie Day! Let’s celebrate with a collection of cookie recipes ready to be made from my blog. This post features two links to cookie blog posts with four NEW cookie recipes! Today is the perfect excuse to enjoy a cookie or two…or four!

Cookie Dough Dip

For the no-bake, ready-to-eat dessert lover

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Microwave Cookie

For when you are in a rush but still desire a cookie fix

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Cashew Chickpea C🍪🍪kies

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1 can chickpeas (15 oz)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 egg whites
1/4 cup almond milk
1/4 cup light agave syrup
1 tbsp coconut sugar
2 tbsp cashew butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup gluten-free oats
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:
~pulse chickpeas, vanilla extract, & almond milk in a food processor until smoothly combined
~pour this batter in a separate bowl then add the agave, cashew butter, salt, baking powder, coconut sugar, cinnamon, & egg whites; mix thoroughly

~grind the oats in the food processor until flour-like in consistency
~add the oats to the batter then fold in the chocolate chips
~bake ar 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-15 minutes

Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Cookies🍪❤️😍

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What You’ll Need:🍴

1/2 cup gluten-free oats

2 Tsp Vanilla Extract

1 Tsp Cinnamon

1 Banana, mashed🍌

1/4 cup mini dairy-free chocolate chips🍫

1⃣ Mash the banana🍌

2⃣ Stir in vanilla extract & cinnamon, add oats and chocolate chips🍫

3⃣ Form into balls and bake at 375 degree Fahrenheit for 15 minutes then enjoy! 🌟makes 6 cookies🌟

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies!✌️💕🍪

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1⃣ mashed banana🍌
1⃣cup gluten-free oats
1⃣Tbsp coconut sugar
1⃣&1/2Tbsp coconut shreds
1⃣Tbsp dairy-free dark chocolate chips (Enjoy Life brand)
1⃣&1/2 Tbsp cacao powder
💫✨Combine all ingredients. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-15 minutes💫✨
Fun Foodie Fact: Dark chocolate increases blood flow to your heart❤️ & brain, improving thinking (Huffington Post).

Persimmon Cookies😊 Nana’s Recipe: Healthified

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Every year my nana makes me delicious persimmon cookies during the holiday season, but now that I’meating  gluten and dairy-free, I can no longer partake in these tasty treats. So I took the recipe and made some healthy substitutes while still keeping the same yummy taste!👌❤️🍪
Ingredients:
1/2-2/3 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 egg (or egg replacement like flax seed if vegan)
Pulp of 2 persimmons (about 1 cup)
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups gluten-free flour
1-2 tsp cloves
1-2 tsp cinnamon
1-2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp pumpkin spice
1 tsp salt
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:
🔸Mix together agave, applesauce, and egg then add in persimmon pulp. Combine all dry ingredients with this mixture. Fold in raisins and chopped walnuts. Transfer onto baking sheet (I put 1 tsp of dough onto the sheet for each cookie). Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 minutes.🍴❤️

Why We Should All Go to Van Leeuwen Ice Cream Right Now

About a week ago, I casually strolled along Abott Kinney Boulevard in Venice, California, on a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon. Nothing could have improved my day until….I discovered a Van Leeuwen Ice Cream Truck! Van Leeuwen sells infamously delicious vegan ice cream that I had been desperate to try. I happily ordered one dairy-free peanut butter and one chocolate scoop, and it did not disappoint!

Hands down, it was the most scrumptious vegan ice cream I have ordered to date. Seriously, please, everyone, go try this…..Van Leeuwen sells ice cream in pints in grocery stores and from LA and NYC locations. Consider this my public service announcement for all the dairy-free and vegan ice cream lovers of the world!

Not only was the ice cream great for me, but my family (who all enjoy regular ice cream), loved it too! We each devoured our scoops.

The vegan ice creams are made from house-made cashew milk, organic coconut milk, organic extra virgin coconut oil, organic cane sugar, pure cocoa butter, and organic carob bean.

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I love the emphasis on organic and whole ingredients, and I think this is the best type of treat!

Fun Foodie Fact: According to Britannica.com, Cashew nuts (used in Van Leeuwen’s vegan ice cream) actually grow attached to a fruit. Cashews also contain approximately one-fifth of the daily recommended value for magnesium. Magnesium provides the body with energy and promotes healthy bone structure.

A Not-So-Tricky Halloween Treat

Happy (almost) Halloween! T-1 day until this much-awaited holiday!

I don’t know about you, but as a kid I loved gorging myself every year on all the sugary Halloween candies I collected from trick-or-treating. Although I still treat myself to the occasional few pieces of candy corn (It’s all about moderation, and candy corn technically is a vegetable…right? I’m just kidding!), I also appreciate healthier alternatives to curb my sweet cravings without all the processed chemicals and sugar.

*Cue my Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Coffee Beans*

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Important note: I promise they taste way better than they photograph! Now you too can make these easy, sweet treats for yourself. Not only will these satisfy your chocolate cravings, but also they will give you an added caffeine boost! Who doesn’t love that?

Here’s what you’ll need….

Ingredients: 

  • 1 and 1/2 cups dark chocolate (use chips or break a bar into pieces for quicker melting)
  • 1 cup whole, roasted coffee beans (I snagged mine from Starbucks)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  1. Melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler over low-medium heat (if you use too high of a heat setting, the chocolate will burn before melting).
  2. Remove the dark chocolate from above the heat.
  3. Stir in the cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice.
  4. Stir in the coffee beans, and thoroughly mix all the ingredients together.
  5. Place the chocolate-covered beans onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
  6. Spread out the beans individually, or like me, group them in clusters for “chocolate coffee bark.”
  7. Let the beans dry entirely, and when finished, enjoy!

Fun Foodie Fact: Consuming dark chocolate  (70% or more cacao) lowers blood pressure and increases endorphins in the brain. A recent study also concluded that eating just 1 ounce of dark chocolate a day could reduce stress damage to the metabolism as well as decrease cortisol levels, according to Jolene Hart, CHC, AADP, author of Eat Pretty

Chocolate not only tastes good, but it also boosts your health! 3 cheers for chocolate!

Sweet Cinnamon Squash

When I think of “fall food,” warm meals and pumpkin spice lattes instantly pop up in my mind. Since I posted my healthy pumpkin spice latte recipe the other day, today I want to share with you a great way to prepare one of my alltime favorite fall foods: Butternut squash! I love butternut squash in soup or simply roasted. Roasting your own butternut squash is easy, delicious, and healthy!  And adding cinnamon makes for the best fall treat.

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Here’s how to make your own sweet cinnamon squash:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cut the squash open and remove the inside “threads” of the squash. Place onto a baking sheet.

Lightly brush it with olive oil, then sprinkle sea salt, cinnamon, and coconut sugar atop the butternut squash halves.

Bake for 45-55 minutes. You can dig in right away, or save some for a later day (if it lasts that long without you first devouring it!). I love eating mine fresh out of the oven, which is perfect for a cold and cozy autumn afternoon.

Enjoy! 🙂

Fun Foodie Fact: According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one cup of butternut squash provides over 4 times the amount of necessary daily Vitamin A! Vitamin A does wonders for the body such as boost immunity, promote cell repair and renewal, and produce glowing skin and healthy eyes!

 

 

DIY: Pumpkin Spice Latte

Pumpkin spice lattes: the fall fixation and the autumn obsession (e.g. this drink even has its own Wikipedia page).

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This week marks the beginning of a new month and a transition into fall. I love the feeling of wearing a cozy sweater, leggings, boots, and scarf while cupping a warm drink in my hand! For many people, this go-to drink is a PSL (pumpkin spice latte), typically from Starbucks. Don’t get me wrong–I love Starbucks! And although I love the taste of pumpkin and fall spices, I don’t love the high amounts of sugar and chemicals contained in each one of these drinks, so I decided to whip up my own at home instead!

My homemade pumpkin spice latte took less than 5 minutes and is full of fresh, natural, and healthy ingredients!

For your homemade pumpkin spice latte, you will need….

  • Freshly brewed coffee (I made a large cup of coffee in my Keurig at home using Trader Joe’s pre-ground pumpkin spice coffee made with only spices and coffee!)
  • Sweetener of your choice (optional; I used one packet of organic stevia)
  • Almond milk (my favorite is vanilla-flavored from Califia Farms)
  • Pumpkin pie spice

Brew your coffee. Now add all of the following in a blender: a splash of almond milk (probably 2 tablespoons–or more depending on which kind you use), the cup of freshly brewed coffee, sweetener, pumpkin pie spice (I recommend starting with 1/4 teaspoon and increasing in that increment to add more spice flavor if needed), and organic pumpkin puree (1 tablespoon). Blend everything together until it forms a frothy liquid. Pour it all into your favorite mug. Mine is my “K” initial mug from Anthropologie! Top off with some more pumpkin spice, snuggle up with a good book, and happily sip your healthified PSL! 🙂

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Your New Go-To Summer Salad

Summer days require refreshing salads like this one. 😍  Beat the heat with these simple ingredients: Lettuce, sweet peppers, avocado, tiny tomatoes, & cucumber! Easy to make and yummy to eat!  Naturally gluten, dairy, soy-free and vegan (never flavor-free!). 

Did you know? Cucumbers are 96% water, so hydrate your body on hot summer days by throwing chopped cucumbers in your salad (0r even in your spa-themed water)!☀️

(Click here to read more health benefits)

Have a wonderful Fourth of July weekend, everyone! 🙂

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Sliced or Whole Fruit?

Not only are we saying “hello” to summer this month, but we are also welcoming hot, sunny days filled with time for friends, laughter, fresh fruit, and adventures.  I love filling my free time during school’s summer recess with lots of baking, reading about nutrition, and blogging!

During my reading this week, I came across a study done by the Food & Brand Lab at Cornell University which concluded that people, especially kids, reach for sliced or bite-sized fruit more than whole fruit.  

I certainly know this concept to be true for me, so I often pre-cut fruit to place in my fridge and munch on easily throughout the week.  I stock up on grapes and berries and kumquats then cut up watermelon and cantaloupe and store it at eye-level in my fridge, so fresh fruit is the first thing I see when I swing open the refrigerator to search for snacking options.

I have included in this post photos of my favorite ways to enjoy fruit, the most refreshing and healthy snack for hot summer days! Scroll down to see 🙂

Farmers’ markets are the perfect place to purchase the freshest organic berries!

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How awesome is this organic yellow watermelon I found at my local farmers’ market last summer?!

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Kumquats are easy to pop in your mouth for a sweet and sour snack!

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Making a pretty picture with your fruit makes it more enjoyable to devour! The “sand” is coconut sugar.

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Tangerines + kiwis + blackberries=yum!

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Sliced veggies are also better than whole veggies.  Chop up veggies for simple snacking along with your sliced fruit! Dip veggies in hummus (a homemade recipe coming soon!) for a midday snack!

Why Coffee Really Is The Best

I’ve developed the habit of sipping coffee every morning with my breakfast because 1) Who doesn’t love that amazing flavor?! and 2) I love the energy and headache relief that comes from coffee’s natural caffeine.  But Cornell University’s nutritional science researchers have recently added to my list of reasons to drink coffee.  On top of tasting good and helping me feel good, coffee is good for you and your eyes! According to Cornell University’s article “A cup of coffee a day may keep retinal damage away” and based on their study featured in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, raw coffee contains 1 percent caffeine but  7-9 percent chlorogenic acid, which has been found to prevent retinal damage.  So for a yummy taste, an energy boost, and healthy eyes, start sipping java in the A.M.! Thank you, Cornell researchers, for bolstering coffee’s benefit list! And thank you, coffee, for helping me get up in the mornings.

With all this talk about coffee, here is how I love to drink it in the morning:  I always start off with a cup of piping hot joe (Java Babe brand all the way), a splash of almond milk (currently loving Califia Farms) , and a sprinkle of stevia (more on why I love stevia another day!).

Here, pictured below, are some of the most beautiful lattes I’ve ever enjoyed!

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With coffee this pretty, how can I resist? {Almond milk latte with a ❤ from Hugo’s, LA}

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I am seriously impressed by the latte artist at Malibu Farm that created such an adorable monkey simply out of almond milk!