Chai Hot Chocolate

by Beth @ Tasty Yummies

Chai Hot Chocolate

Wait, someone help me! How is it that Christmas is 4 days away? I feel like since Thanksgiving, life has been on 11 and the last few weeks just flew right on by. This is my absolute favorite time of the year and in a blink of an eye it’s nearly over.

Since wrapping up all of the end of the year client work and the last few holiday craft shows, getting every last web order shipped out all over the world, wrapping and shipping all of the presents to send back home to our families, finishing my advanced yoga teacher training and all of the various social engagements typical of this time of year, the time to just sit back and relax this season has felt super few and far between this holiday season. We have been taking the fleeting moments where we can get them. Every meal has felt rushed and I have been doing my best to squeeze in workouts and yoga time. Last weekend I finished my final hours of my 500-hour yoga teaching certification, yesterday the last of the packages shipped around 1pm and it finally felt like I could finally breath again.

Chai Hot Chocolate

In addition to the crazy schedules, this holiday season has actually brought some really wonderful cooler temps and grey skies here in Southern California, even a little rain. It has been so pleasant and such a welcomed change. With the crisp, cool weather we don’t get too much of here, I have found myself seeking out hot soups, stews and hot comforting drinks! I created this drink a few weeks back, literally in the middle of a thousand things going on. I wanted the rich creaminess of a good cup of hot cocoa but I also was in the mood for a good spicy chai. As a libra, decision making isn’t always my strong point, so I thought, let’s just throw the two together. How could two things that are so right, ever go wrong?

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Grain-free Dark Chocolate Dipped Almond Cranberry Biscotti with Sea Salt

With my lack of interest in sweets this year, I came to the realization that if I just started making sweet recipes to post here on the blog, I would eat them, simply because they were here. This is my number one rule for being mindful of how I eat and not making bad decisions. If you don’t have it in the house, you can’t and won’t eat it. Even with not being much of a dessert or baked goods person, my hatred of wasting food would definitely beat out my disinterest in any sweets. So, I have opted to just not make many sweet things this holiday season. Problem solved.

Grain-free Dark Chocolate Dipped Almond Cranberry Biscotti with Sea Salt

Though this time of year tempting sweets sseem to be around every corner, it doesn’t mean we have to overindulge. It is totally possible to enjoy a little something sweet without the massive guilt that usually immediately follows. I don’t love the idea of taking care of yourself all year round and then going hog-wild at the holidays. For me, a little indulging here and there is good, but there is no logical reason to consume several pounds of sugar over a two week period, just because of the time of year and because that’s “what we do”.

Grain-free Dark Chocolate Dipped Almond Cranberry Biscotti with Sea Salt

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How-to Make Infused Olive Oil

by Beth @ Tasty Yummies

Tutorial Tuesdays // Tasty Yummies

How-to Make Infused Olive Oil

With a season usually focused around cookies, cocktails and other various indulgences, my heart just hasn’t been in it this year. I haven’t been much in the mood for sweets, I guess I can have my personal trainer to thank for that! So, I’ve instead been spending time coming up with fun, handmade gifts for the food-lovers in all of our lives!

There are lots of great options for simple homemade gifts here on TY: Homemade Chocolate Bark, DIY homemade Vanilla Extract, Crock Pot Pumpkin Butter, Coconut Butter, Nut Butters, Candy Cane Hot Cocoa Mix, Chai Concentrate, just to name a few of my favorites.

A handmade gift, made with love, packaged up sweetly with beautiful custom labels and a thoughtful note, to me, is what the season is all about. Sharing something you created with your own two hands, especially for the recipient.

Infused Olive Oils make really great and beautiful gifts for the food lover in your life! The flavor possibilities are endless and it is truly a fun and unique present.

There are so many various ways you can infuse olive oil and there are just as many posts floating around the web telling us about them. Some heat the oil, while others just throw it all together in the bottle and call it a day, some leave in the ingredients in, others strain them out before bottling. I have done a lot of reading and no matter what method you choose, there are a few concerns we have to take into account when making infused olive oils.

When using fresh ingredients that haven’t been dried, there is always a concern of Botulism, but most especially with garlic-infused olive oil. Clostridium Botulinum is a bacterium found in most soil and since garlic, being a root vegetable, is ripped from the ground, traces of this deadly bacteria are still left clinging to it. Since Botulism is an anaerobic bacteria (meaning that it thrives in an environment lacking oxygen), it dies in the presence of oxygen. Olive oil essentially seals out oxygen and when you mix food in with the oil, you have an ideal breeding ground for these potentially deadly bacteria.

Commercial grade garlic infused olive oils are (usually) prepared with an acid or preservative of some kind to preserve the garlic and protect if from growing harmful bacteria. At home, we could add some type of acid to the garlic oil mixture if we figure out the pH levels and all that, or to just be extra safe, we can simply strain out the garlic from the oil and store the infused oil in the refrigerator, consuming it in less than 1 month’s time. When leaving the garlic in the oil, the main concern is that toxin production has been known to occur even when a small number of C. botulinum spores were present in the garlic. When the spore-containing garlic is bottled and covered with oil, an oxygen-free environment is created that promotes the germination of spores and the growth of microorganisms at temperatures as low as 50 F. Scary stuff. So strain that garlic out, kids or if you are leaving it in, eat your garlic oil within a day or two!

Besides the garlic, I tend to prefer to use dried herbs and spices for my infusions. Dried herbs in oil are less of a safety concern because of their low water activity which makes conditions less favorable to growth of C. botulinum. When using fresh, whole herbs, since they look so beautiful in the bottles, I simply dehydrate them myself, so they can stay whole but it is safe to bottle with the oil.

So now that I have effectively scared educated you, let’s move on to this how-to!

How-to Make Infused Olive Oil

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Vegan Eggnog

by Beth @ Tasty Yummies

Vegan Eggnog

This time of year I feel like as much as I am craving holiday flavors and traditional recipes, I am also looking to keep things as simple as possible and I really look to and work hard to stay on track with my eating. No reason to throw everything I work so hard for all year long, right out the door for a month of terrible choices. Between holiday parties and gatherings, events, my yoga teacher training coming to an end, mass amount of holiday orders from our websites, gift shopping and everything else, time is of the essence right now. There hasn’t been much extra time to bake cookies or to make homemade everything, like I always try to. When I was approached by Silk about their new Cashewmilk, I was super excited at the opportunity to try it and report back to you guys.

We all know that I am the queen of homemade nut milks, but I am always on the lookout for store-bought alternatives, both for myself when life gets busy, but also for those of you that don’t have the desire or time to make homemade nut milks. For me, the important things I look for look for are brands whose nut milk products are certified non-GMO, certified gluten-free, are minimally processed, free of artificial flavors and preservatives and don’t contain carrageenan. I also prefer unsweetened nut milks, so I can control the amount and type of sugar used.

Vegan Eggnog

Silk’s new Cashewmilk is a really great alternative to both homemade nut milks and if you are looking to make the switch, it is a great substitution for regular dairy milk, with 50% more calcium than dairy milk with only 25 calories per serving (25% less than skim milk)*. It’s so irresistibly creamy and delicious, it’s great over cereal, in your favorite recipes or just on it’s own. The moment I poured the first glass and saw just how thick and luscious it was, I immediately was inspired to recreate my favorite classic holiday drink, eggnog.

Vegan Eggnog

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