With the holidays upon us, it’s time once again that I share with you some of my favorite, simple homemade holiday gifts. This wintertime staple is a quintessential way to deal with the frosty cold weather. This homemade version is made with only a few, all-natural ingredients and the bonus to making it yourself, besides the obvious, is the free reign to add whatever you’d like to it. If you like less sweet, opt for unsweetened chocolate, looking for a little more sweetness try bitter or semisweet chocolate instead. You can add cinnamon or cayenne or any other flavors you’d like (see the bottom of the post for flavor variations). Today I am sharing my recipe for a basic hot cocoa mix with a few suggestions at the end for extra add-ins, as well as a free printable label for you to print out, customize and add to your gift.
There’s nothing like giving the gift of tasty treats, made with love this time of year, but especially cozy, heart-warming decadence like this homemade Hot Cocoa Mix. Rich and luxurious without being excessively sweet. Download the included printable, customizable label, throw in some mini marshmallows, this is a great recipe if you want to make your own. Package it all up in a cute jar, include a tablespoon tied with a little ribbon or string and voila, the perfect holiday gift.
How-to Make Hot Cocoa Mix
In honor of #popsicleweek, I am bringing a traditional cake recipe new life with these tasty Red Velvet Pudding Pops. Of course, there’s a twist. I boosted this sweet treat with nutrient-dense whole foods, so you can have your cake and nutrients and eat it, too!
It wasn’t too long ago that I snuck a little cauliflower into some popsicles here on Tasty Yummies. I’m hoping if you tried that recipe, you still trust me and know that despite these strange ingredient combos, I will never lead you astray. It was a fun surprise to find that the cauliflower brought another level to the treat, with creaminess and also of course, nutrients. While I don’t feel that every dessert should have a veggie snuck into it, I do love the unexpected nutritional boost that this provides. And why not?
So, I am back at it again today with these Red Velvet Pudding Pops. As traditional Red Velvet Cake is simply a subtle amount of cocoa with red food coloring, it’s actually a cake flavor that has forever eluded me. I never really understood it. It’s not chocolate and the red color has nothing to do with flavor. But not too long ago I tried a gluten-free Red Velvet cupcake and I am not gonna lie. I was into it. But, ya know, it was loaded with sugar and grains. Additionally, red food dye used in baking is almost always derived from Red #40 (Allura Red) an artificial food dye. According to a CSPI report, some of the most commonly used food dyes may be linked to numerous forms of cancer, along with hyperactivity and other behavioral problems in children.1http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/02/24/are-you-or-your-family-eating-toxic-food-dyes.aspx The European Union has recently placed regulations on labeling food dyes to inform consumers of the health risks, but the United States has no such requirement.
References [ + ]
1. ↑ http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/02/24/are-you-or-your-family-eating-toxic-food-dyes.aspx
This homemade dark chocolate is simple to make and very easy to customize and make it exactly the way you want it, from sweeteners to flavorful add-ins. With constant research showing the many health benefits of dark chocolate, this is one indulgence I plan to never give up. A food that is not only good for your soul, but your mind and body as well?! Yes please. In fact new research has even reported that certain bacteria in the stomach gobble the chocolate and ferment it into anti-inflammatory compounds that are good for the heart 1https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140318154725.htm.
Sadly, not all dark chocolate is created equally. So many of the bars at the store contain soy lecithin, a ridiculous amount of refined sugar, vegetable oils, “natural flavors”, corn syrup and other unnecessary ingredients. Conventional chocolate bars filled with lots of additives will not have the same benefits as clean dark chocolate and are likely to do more harm than good! The closer your cocoa is to its natural raw unrefined state, the higher its nutritional value.
References [ + ]
1. ↑ https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140318154725.htm
Disclosure: Post sponsored by Crock-Pot® brand slow cooker & Mirum Shopper, but all opinions are my own. Please see below for additional disclosure.
With the first day of winter upon us and Christmas just mere days away, the comforts and coziness of the season are in full force. All the holiday cookies, seasonally-inspired meals, traditional cocktails and so much more. But for me, nothing brings the taste of the season like some rich, creamy, homemade Hot Chocolate.
I have to be totally honest with you, after I passed the age of giving out Valentines at school (which I always adored), I have always found the fact that Valentine’s Day has become a day generally so focused on giving gifts, to just be a tad bit silly. I grew up with my mom saying to us kids every single year without fail, something along the lines of: “I don’t need one special day or any fancy gifts to show my love to you or your dad, I love you each and every single day of the year”. I have to say, I couldn’t agree more with my mother. I have always felt like the holiday was less about love and more about the greeting card industry, the jewelry stores and florists make out like bandits, and besides Easter, I have to imagine this is the biggest day of the year for chocolatiers. I also have to be real here for a sec, I kinda resent that this day has been somewhat stolen by those in monogamist romantic relationships! If it’s a day about love, then shouldn’t we celebrate ALL love? That of the romantic variety but also plutonic friends, parental, puppy-love (like I’m talking your actual pooch), your favorite co-worker, anyone and everyone that you have love for?
Don’t get it twisted, I don’t at all frown upon a day focused on love, how could I? What kind of V-day scrooge that would make me? It’s far from this. Nothing in this world makes me happier than love and I can only wish and hope that every day, every person has the pleasure of experiencing some love on some level, even if just that sweet look of adoration from their pooch on their morning walk. Love should be celebrated each and every day, so a day that puts it at the forefront, this certainly brings a smile to my face. But I say, collectively, we take that energy so many focus into this one single day and we extend it out throughout the year. Do sweet things for one other, share sweet thoughts with the people you love most, tell them you love them, surprise someone with homemade chocolates – these acts of love are are even better on a random Tuesday, not just on February 14th, one time a year.
When it comes to Valentine’s Day, if you want to give gifts, I am, just as any other holiday, very much in favor of those of the homemade variety. I also love the idea of thoughtful actions in lieu of presents and sweet unexpected somethings like breakfast in bed or a homemade meal, traditions, special outings, picnics etc. The gifts that come from the heart, they will, like cupid’s arrow, cut through with such vigor!
By now we’ve all seen and likely enjoyed that that tasty chocolate mousse or pudding, that is actually just avocado, cocoa and a little sweetener. (You can find my recipe for it, terrible photo and all, way back in the TY archives.) That very idea also sparked the creation of these delicious Creamy Chocolate Fudgesicles.
This past week, as I continued to collect the many avocados still available in abundance from the tree in our yard, I was dreaming up creative uses for all the avocados we have. I can never get enough guacamole and my homemade avocado salad dressing is always a favorite, but I was also craving something sweet. I am not sure how or why, but I was instantly inspired to create a creamy, luscious chocolate shake.
I have never been a fan of milkshakes!! Gasp… I know right? There is just something about that much dairy getting sucked through a straw, laced with a year’s worth of sugar that ALWAYS spell disaster for my gut, as it should.
Velvety smooth, rich and sinfully delicious, this Chocolate Shake get it’s creaminess from avocado, rather than ice cream and it’s sweetened only by a few dates and a little melted dark chocolate. It brings you some healthy fats from both the avocado and the coconut milk and a load of antioxidants from the raw cacao. Also, shhhh, there’s no dairy in there, so it’s great for all, paleo, vegans, it’s even safe for our nut-free pals. Basically in all it’s delicious glory, it’s like a nutrient-dense chocolate shake, that you can indulge in, guilt-free! I promise, it will be love at first sip.
How-to Make Nut Milk
I am super excited to share this tutorial with you guys! Many of you have asked for a tutorial on nut milks, since I started the Tutorial Tuesdays Series. I have been making my own nut milks for quite a few years now. Once I realized just how simple it was, I have made a quart of almond milk nearly every single week.
I also love making variations on the flavors, at least once a month I make a quart of raw cacao almond nut milk. It’s the perfect sweet treat for me.
Much like my nut butter post, this is a general overview on how to make nut milks, but really the sky is the limit. If you have a favorite nut – I say MILK IT! As with the nut butters, I recommend soaking your nuts first, but for nut milks dehydration isn’t necessary, so it’s that much easier. Below you will find a chart on soaking times for various milks.
What Nuts Can You Milk?
First of all, let’s just get all the giggles out now. Sooo many amazing innuendos when it comes to nut milks. Oh, and guess what? It doesn’t get old. Everytime I pull my nut bag out. A good laugh is had! Anyhow – I myself have made nut milks from almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts and pistachios, but from what I understand the same rules apply no matter what nut you choose, so you can create nut milks from any of the other nuts listed below and likely many others, too. FYI macadamia nut milk is amazing, so rich and full of incredible flavor, but literally it may be the most expensive nut milk you can make. I made a batch for this testing and I kinda wish I hadn’t. It was so good.
How & Why to Soak Your Nuts
Why I Choose to Soak: Most nuts, seeds, grains and beans are covered in natural chemicals – enzyme inhibitors and toxins – that protect them while growing, both from sprouting prematurely and also from predators. These nutritional inhibitors and toxic substances are enzyme inhibitors, phytates (phytic acid), polyphenols (tannins), and goitrogens. Once harvested, those same chemicals, the major one being phytic acid – are indigestible to the human body and must be broken down before consumption. When food containing phytic acid is consumed, the acid combines with important minerals like calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc in the intestinal tract and blocks their absorption which inhibits our digestive systems’ ability to break the nut down properly.
The very simple process of soaking releases these chemicals, helping you to absorb your food’s essential minerals and nutrients. Additionally, by soaking the nuts with the removal of these nutritional inhibitors and toxic substances, the flavor and taste is much more ideal and appealing.
To summarize: Soaking nuts makes them easier to digest and improves their flavor.
How-to Make Homemade Nut Milks
1) Soak your nuts in filtered water for the appropriate time, drain and rinse.
2) Blend your soaked nuts with filtered water, adding in any flavorings you would like.
3) Pour into your nut milk bag and squeeze. Separating the pulp from the milk. Read the rest of this entry »
Happy Valentine’s Day, friends!! What better way to celebrate LOVE than with chocolate, am I right? I can’t get enough chocolate this month, in case you couldn’t tell. I have been seeing chocolate everything, everywhere and I am not sure what made me think of it, but I realized the other day that I hadn’t made brownies in forever. And that made me sad! What is wrong with me?
I mean really, brownies are happy-making, magical squares of my very favorite stuff!! Soft cocoa-y chocolate chewiness and little bits of dark chocolate in every bite. Ahhhh! It is torture just writing about it.
Though hubby and I don’t generally celebrate Valentine’s Day, I’d like to think we celebrated a little bit early with these beauties. It’s rare that I make a gluten-free or grain-free baked-good and my husband doesn’t tell me what about it makes it taste not quite like the “real thing”. I mean, I don’t blame him. He doesn’t have to eat gluten-free. He gets to enjoy all the “normal” bakeries and their delectable delights, whenever he wants.
JerkGenerally he eats and loves whatever I make (with exceptions, of course), but I think given the opportunity he would still choose it’s gluten-containing inspiration. This time around, he couldn’t get enough of the gluten-free version. He was obsessed with these brownies and we were literally fighting over the last one. I let him have it, but I really should have told him to back-off and take a hike to the neighborhood bakery. At one point during the few days we were eating through these, he walked to the corner store to get a pint of vanilla ice cream, he heated one of these brownie squares up and served it à la mode. What can I say? He’s a sweets guy, the man sure knows how to eat his desserts.