Creamy Chocolate-Banana Smoothie (Dairy-Free)

I have to say that smoothies are one of my all-time favorite foods. And this time of year just shouts “smoothies”—okay, let me just insert here that I will and do eat smoothies ANY time of the year, but summer is an especially wonderful time for these delicious cold treats. Warm weather; ripe, plump produce around and about; it just…goes together. Needless to say, I’ve been slurping up some kind of smoothie almost every day over the last month and there’s no sign of letting up any time soon. (My poor blender doesn’t stand a chance.)

I wanted to share with you one of my favorite combinations so far.

Creamy Chocolate-Banana Smoothie (Dairy-Free)—Taste and See

The banana, avocado, coconut milk and almond butter provide a creamy texture without the use of dairy (although you can definitely use dairy if you’d like). And the chocolate and honey make it taste amazing. This dessert-type smoothie is perfect for an after-dinner treat.

Creamy Chocolate-Banana Smoothie (Dairy-Free)—Taste and See

Creamy Chocolate-Banana Smoothie
(Makes 2 servings)

  • 1 frozen banana, extra-ripe
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 1/2 cups milk of choice (I like to use homemade coconut milk)
  • 2 Tbsp almond butter (or nut butter of choice)
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp raw honey (more or less to taste)
  • dash of sea salt
  • 4-6 ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

Enjoy!

Looking for a breakfast smoothie? Give this green breakfast smoothie a try!

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Grape Slushy

When I think of summer, I think of a lot of things, but one of the top that comes to mind are cold treats. Ice cream, smoothies, snow cones—these are perfect for a really hot day.

I remember when I was little, on certain days during the summer, a white truck with really loud music would slowly chug down the road in our neighborhood. And everyone knew what that meant—SLUSHIES! We would flag the truck down, give him our money and in return, get our choice among the available flavors.

Even if you didn’t have the slushy coming to your doorstep like I did, you still don’t have to go very far to find them. Sporting events, convenience stores…they are everywhere, and especially during this extremely warm season.

But unfortunately, most slushies (like many other cold treats that are out and about) are just not healthy. High fructose corn syrup, sugar and preservatives are a few of the culprits that make these worth skipping. But on a brighter note, slushies are very easy to make at home. As long as you have access to a blender (I think even a food processor would work), then you can whip one of these up in no time.

I chose to make a grape-flavored slushy mainly because grapes are my favorite summer fruit. But you can experiment with other fruits such as watermelon, strawberry, mango or even a fruit combo. Just be sure to adjust the amount of ice (some fruits are more liquidy than others so more or less may be needed).

Grapes (which are actually considered a berry) contain many nutrients and minerals, including Vitamins C, K and A, potassium, iron, copper and manganese. Additionally, they are full of antioxidants, loaded with enzymes and high in water content (which is helpful for hydration). It’s safe to say that these little guys are pretty nutritious.

Even if that doesn’t convince you, I’m pretty sure the pictures will. So without further ado, let me introduce the delicious grape slushy.

Grape Slushy

Grape Slushy 1

Grape Slushy 2

I only have two words of caution: Brain.freeze.

Enjoy!

Grape Slushy
(makes 2 servings)

1 cup red grapes
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 to 2 1/2 cups of ice (roughly 11-12 ice cubes from standard ice tray)

Place grapes and coconut milk in blender and blend until smooth. Add in ice and continue blending to desired consistency.

What’s your favorite summertime fruit?

Sources and further reading on health benefits of grapes:
http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/8-healthy-facts-about-grapes
http://www.livestrong.com/article/509099-nutrition-benefits-of-red-grapes/
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/271156.php
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon (p 47)

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Garlic Thyme Turkey Sausage

Sausage is a favorite breakfast food around our house. It goes well with almost everything—and it’s really quick to cook up. But we don’t use just any sausage. Many that are sold in the store are filled with additional ingredients and aren’t made with high-quality meat. This is why I like to make my own or purchase it from local farms.

Garlic Thyme Turkey Sausage

Fortunately, making your own is really easy and is oftentimes cheaper anyway (win-win!). And the possibilities are endless! This turkey sausage has become an easy snack for us in addition to a breakfast favorite. When my husband gets home from work, he is usually hungry and needs something easy to grab. I’ll cook a batch of these and store in the fridge, so when either of us wants a quick source of protein, these are ready to go. Of course, they don’t last too long…

Garlic Thyme Turkey Sausage 2

This isn’t a spicy sausage, but the garlic and thyme provide a very distinct (and delicious) flavor that complements the turkey well. I normally use dried thyme but you could always substitute fresh thyme if you have it on hand.

Garlic Thyme Turkey Sausage 3

Enjoy this savory snack!

Garlic Thyme Turkey Sausage
(Makes 12-18 sausages, depending on size)

1 lb ground turkey (preferably free-range or pastured)
1 tsp raw honey
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp dried sage
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a bowl and combine well. In a greased skillet, spoon out the mixture in small patties, flattening and shaping with spoon as needed. Cook over medium heat and flip midway through for even cooking. Remove from heat once thoroughly cooked.

Have a favorite homemade sausage recipe? Please share!

 

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Three-Ingredient Banana Nut Bites

So I was having one of those days where I wanted a quick snack that wasn’t too sweet but still tasted good and was already set to eat (but not processed—i.e., out of a bag or box). That’s not asking much, right? Well, I’m happy to say there is such a snack—it wasn’t already prepared but was so quick and easy that it felt like no time at all.

Banana Nut Bites 2

These delicious cookies are made up of banana, nut and/or seed butter and a bit of baking soda. That’s it. Of course, you can dress them up by adding chocolate chips, coconut shreds, dried fruit, etc., but they are delicious with or without additions. The cookies have a slightly sweet, nutty flavor that are easy to gobble up.

Banana Nut Bites 1

You can use any nut or seed butter that you feel comfortable with. (I normally use sunflower seed butter or peanut butter or a combination of the two.) And if you’d like something a little sweeter, you could always add a little honey or even increase the amount of banana.

Banana Nut Bites3

Delicious bite-size goodness!

Banana Nut Bites

(Makes between 20-24 bite-size cookies)

2 medium bananas, extra ripe (lots of brown spots)
1 cup nut or seed butter
1/4 tsp baking soda
honey or other sweetener to taste (optional—I usually omit)
Optional add-ins: chocolate chips, coconut shreds, dried fruit

In a small bowl, mash banana until smooth. Add in nut butter and baking soda and stir thoroughly. Roll in any optional ingredients (chocolate chips, coconut shreds, etc). Spoon out batter (about a tablespoon or so for each cookie) on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes, until the tops are slightly browned.

 

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Baked Sweet Potato Fries

So, I have to say our Memorial Day weekend is off to a great start. Our seven-month- old son has been sick with a cold this week and he hasn’t gotten much sleep (which by default means I haven’t either!). But I’m happy to say that he’s feeling better and slept the entire night—win-win!

sweet potato fries 4

I wanted to share a side dish that has become a staple in our house. These tasty fries usually find their way to our table at least a few times each week and for good reason. First, they are delicious. Second, they are super easy to make. Third, it’s way cheaper and healthier than buying them from the store (no added ingredients or inferior oils). And fourth, they are delicious (okay, that needed to be said again).

sweet potato fries 3

I almost didn’t share this recipe, because I figured everyone already knows how to do this (and if you haven’t done it before, you’d be able to figure it out). But to be honest, I only started eating sweet potatoes this way within the last several months. So, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to throw this out there for anyone who hasn’t made sweet potato fries (or regular potato fries if you aren’t a fan of sweet potatoes like my husband).

Just cut the sweet potato into fry-shapes:

sweet potato fries 1

Coat with a little olive oil (or softened coconut oil), sea salt, and fresh-ground pepper, and spread out on a pan (I like to line the pan with parchment paper for easier clean-up):

sweet potato fries 2

Bake at 350 for somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes. You can flip them midway through the bake time, but I usually just leave them (because I’m a bit lazy). And that’s it!

Baked Sweet Potato Fries
2 sweet potatoes
2 Tbsp olive oil or softened coconut oil (more or less to taste)
Sea salt
Fresh-ground pepper

Cut sweet potatoes into fry-slices. Place in a dish and add olive oil, sea salt and pepper. Coat all pieces thoroughly, and then lay flat on baking pan (I like to line with parchment paper, optional). Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes. Flip midway through the bake time (optional).

What’s your favorite way to eat sweet potatoes?

 

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Paleo Honey Nut Bread

Happy Monday, everyone (as happy as Mondays can be anyway)! I hope your weekend was exceptional.

I want to share a bread recipe with you that I’ve been toying with for the last several weeks. I don’t eat bread much since I’m currently on a grain-free diet, though it is nice to have some every now and then. But most of the bread recipes out there include almond flour. See, I’ve found that I just don’t do that well with almond flour (plus, it’s pretty expensive, usually not fitting in our budget, homemade or store-bought). I can handle almonds pretty well in small portions (like with this recipe) but just not as a flour.

Paleo honey nut bread 5
So that pretty much leaves coconut flour. This is a challenge, too, because coconut flour is so dense, not to mention it’s distinct flavor. Sigh. But I’m happy to say that I’ve found a winner.

This is a really, really moist bread, definitely not your “sandwich-type.” Butternut squash and honey provide a nice, mildly sweet flavor and account for the moist texture. And the walnuts—well, no explanation needed there—walnuts just make everything better 🙂

Paleo honey nut bread 2
This makes a small loaf, but again, it’s just from the density of the coconut flour. It is very filling though. I like to have a slice as a snack or for breakfast with scrambled eggs.

Paleo honey nut bread 4

A couple quick notes on the recipe: First, if you aren’t comfortable using baking powder, you can omit it. I left it out once and still had good results. Second, move the loaf pan from the top rack to lower rack (or vice versa) in the oven about mid-way through the bake time. I’ve found that if it stays on one or the other the entire time, it doesn’t bake very evenly (either the top or bottom ends up a bit burnt).

Enjoy!

Paleo honey nut bread 3

 

Paleo Honey Nut Bread
2 cups pureed butternut squash (or 1 can)
3 eggs
3 Tbsp raw honey (more or less to taste)
1/4 cup coconut oil, softened
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 Tbsp arrowroot starch
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder (optional)
1/4—1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Combine the squash, eggs, honey, and oil in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the coconut flour, arrowroot starch, sea salt, baking soda, and optional baking powder. Once thoroughly mixed, add in walnuts. Pour batter in a loaf pan—I like to line with parchment paper, optional—and bake at 350 degrees for 70-80 minutes (stick toothpick in middle to test). During the middle of the bake time, move loaf pan from top rack to lower rack (or vice versa) to ensure even baking. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes.

 

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Dark Chocolate Almonds

I’ve always been a pretty big fan of chocolate-covered almonds, because, of course, they contain my two favorite foods: chocolate and nuts. 🙂 And, like popcorn, they are absolutely addicting. When I start munching on them…I can’t seem to stop.

chocolate covered almonds 1

I wanted a way to eat these tasty little guys without buying them from the store. Why is that? I’ve found that most of the store-bought chocolate nuts contain added ingredients and are loaded with sugar.

Another benefit of making these at home is that you can soak and dehydrate the almonds beforehand, which make them more digestible. Raw nuts contain enzyme inhibitors that make them difficult to digest, so this extra step is really important for those who have digestive issues (and really, even for those who don’t). See how to soak and dehydrate almonds here or here, as well as the benefits of doing so.

chocolate covered almonds 2

I love that this is such an easy snack to make. And not only that, but they are a nice “decoration” snack—try placing them in a decorative jar on the breakfast bar or in a colorful dish on the coffee table (if they last that long!). They would even work well in a gift basket.

And the only items you need? Almonds and chocolate. That’s it. I’ve been using a combination of unsweetened chocolate (Baker’s Unsweetened chocolate bar) and chocolate chips (Enjoy Life brand) to make a darker chocolate and lessen the sugar content. But you could also use only chocolate chips if you don’t have unsweetened chocolate on hand. Or if you are going for a refined sugar-free option, use only unsweetened chocolate and add honey. Doing this produces a strong dark chocolate flavor, which I personally love. BUT just keep in mind that the coating won’t be as smooth as when using chocolate chips or a combination of the two (see picture below). If you aren’t going for looks, then it certainly doesn’t matter!

Refined sugar-free option: coating contains only unsweetened chocolate and honey

Start off by soaking almonds in filtered water and sea salt for at least seven hours or overnight. Drain and dehydrate using a dehydrator or in the oven at lowest temperature (see this link for more detail). This step can be done several days beforehand—just store almonds in the refrigerator until you are ready to add the chocolate.

Melt the chocolate (exact measurements below) on the stovetop at very low heat or in the microwave. Do not overheat! When about 2/3 of the chocolate is melted, remove from heat and stir until it’s completely melted.

chocolate covered almonds 3

Place a handful of almonds in the bowl, stir around and fully coat, and then lay flat on parchment paper. Continue doing this until all the chocolate has been used up. At this point, you can sprinkle a little sea salt on them if you prefer. Place them in the freezer for 5-10 minutes and then remove and store at room-temperature.

Happy snacking!

Dark Chocolate Almonds

40-50 soaked almonds
1/2 ounce unsweetened chocolate
2 tbsp chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life brand)
sea salt (optional)

Melt chocolate on stovetop or in microwave. When about 2/3 of the chocolate is melted, remove from heat and stir until completely melted. Immerse almonds in chocolate and stir with spoon until coated and lay flat on parchment paper. Sprinkle with sea salt (optional) and place in freezer for 5-10 minutes. Remove and store at room temperature.

*For refined sugar-free option, substitute 1 ounce of unsweetened chocolate and 2-3 tsp of raw honey (no chocolate chips).

 

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