Tag Archives: treat

  1. Dark Chocolate Matcha Coconut Butter Keto Cups {paleo, low-carb, gluten-free, vegan}

    These super simple Dark Chocolate Matcha Coconut Butter Keto Cups are a tasty snack or the perfect bite-sized dessert. The addition of antioxidant-rich matcha and the healthy fats practically make this treat a health food! My favorite part, for as fancy as they appear, they are ready in little to no time at all. Besides being low carb and keto, they are also paleo, gluten-free and vegan, too! 

    Dark Chocolate Matcha Coconut Butter Keto Cups

    Dark Chocolate Matcha Coconut Butter Keto Cups

    After the excitement of the Dark Chocolate Raspberry Coconut Butter Keto Cups and so many of you made them and fell in love, too so my mind has been totally swirling with other variations. So here we are, this weekend is St Patrick’s Day. A holiday I could literally give two solid poops about. Butttt, in a sea of artificially colored green foods, green beer, green bagels, soda breads, beer soaked meats and the like, I offer to you a simple, fun, natural and tasty way to get in some green. And hiiiii matcha is a superfood, friends!! (Are we sick of that word, yet?)

    Antioxidant rich matcha tea, can help fight free radicals in the body and promote long-term health. Matcha being the whole leaf, ground, also contains 137 times the amount of free radical-fighting antioxidants as any other green teas. WOOT WOOT! So basically you can have your chocolate, get in some healthy fats and become a cancer-fighting super hero all in a couple of bites. (OK, that may not be super accurate marketing, but I like the generalization)

    Read the rest of this entry »

  2. Dark Chocolate Raspberry Coconut Butter Keto Cups {paleo, low-carb, gluten-free, vegan}

    These 5-ingredient Dark Chocolate Raspberry Coconut Butter Keto Cups are a tasty snack or the perfect bite-sized dessert. My favorite part, for as fancy as they appear, they are ready in no time at all. Besides being low carb and keto are also paleo, gluten-free and vegan, too! 

    Dark Chocolate Raspberry Coconut Butter Keto Cups {paleo, gluten-free, vegan}

    Dark Chocolate Raspberry Coconut Butter Keto Cups {paleo, gluten-free, vegan}

    You guys know I am not much of a sweets person. It’s just not really my thing. It’s rare I am dreaming up new and clever ways to recreate treats to be more healthful, because for me, as long as I have a bar of super dark chocolate in the fridge, freezer and/or pantry (what can I say, I like my chocolate at different temps for different reasons) – I am a happy lady.

    I’ve especially found since I’ve been eating keto for the last year +, my taste for sweets has basically diminished completely. But my love for chocolate will never waiver. Read the rest of this entry »

  3. Paleo Pumpkin Panna Cotta with Cinnamon Cookie Crumble and Caramel Drizzle

    This rich, creamy, luscious Paleo Pumpkin Panna Cotta is made dairy-free and it’s topped with crunchy spiced Cinnamon Cookie Crumble and a homemade dairy-free, honey-sweetened caramel drizzle. The perfect make-ahead, fuss-free holiday treat that you can feel good about eating. 

    Paleo Pumpkin Panna Cotta with Cinnamon Cookie Crumble and Caramel Drizzle

    Paleo Pumpkin Panna Cotta with Cinnamon Cookie Crumble and Caramel Drizzle

    We all know that with the holidays comes fussy recipes, especially desserts, that we covet and cherish every year, so we can savor the traditional flavors we have come to associate with the season. There is so much about this that I love and simultaneously I also find that possibly our time might be better spent in other ways. I would much prefer not to fuss with a complicated pie crust and rather enjoy my family or friends. I would prefer a more health-focused, smarter, more updated version of a recipe, in place of what we’ve always known.

    This recipe brings the pumpkin pie vibes in a whole new way. Paleo Pumpkin Panna Cotta with Cinnamon Cookie Crumble and Caramel Drizzle, OK so, it may sound complicated in it’s name, but it will take more time to say the name, than it will to actually make it (ok disclosure: that part’s not true). There is certainly time in set up with this one, but actual hands on minutes of cooking and prep, they are pretty minimal, by comparison to a pie. Plus, as far as I am concerned any holiday recipe that doesn’t require an oven, that’s a win for every one. This single recipe can be made in much smaller serving sizes, serving up to 8, depending on the vessel you choose to serve in.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  4. Grain-free Carrot Cake Coconut Panna Cotta {Dairy-free and Paleo-friendly }

    Grain-free Carrot Cake Coconut Panna Cotta {Dairy-free}Grain-free Carrot Cake Coconut Panna Cotta {Dairy-free}

    Subtly spiced dairy-free coconut milk panna cotta topped with chunks of grain-free spiced carrot cake and a little whipped coconut cream, makes for the perfect Spring-inspired treat without the sugar, grains or nuts.

    I kinda love that carrot cake has become synonymous with Easter, simply because of the Easter Bunny. Rabbits eat carrots, Easter invites a sweet bunny that leaves baskets and eggs and chocolate for us. Hmmm. It’s a stretch, but I’ll take it – cuz carrot cake rules.

    While I have been experimenting with the ketgenic diet since the start of this year and have slowly transitioned toward a fat fueled lifestyle over the last year and a half, my interest and taste for sweets has admittedly all but disappeared. Beyond a solid, super duper dark chocolate, I honestly can’t really be bothered. Not so great as a food blogger, but I make it work.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  5. Grain-free Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Tart {Paleo, Vegan}

    Grain-free Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Tart

    Grain-free Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Tart

    Clearly, as evidence by my recent posts, we are coming up on the season of sweets and treats. With all the upcoming holidays, I think less is more when it comes to this encore course. I find most desserts to be far too heavy, too sweet and generally just too indulgent for my tastes. As with most everything in life, I truly believe that a little goes a long way.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  6. Dark Chocolate Nut Butter Cups

    Dark Chocolate Nut Butter Cups

    Dark Chocolate Nut Butter Cups

    With Halloween approaching and the rest of the holidays not far behind, sweets and treats are going to be just about everywhere, tempting us at every turn. While I don’t see anything wrong with the occasional indulgence, I still also maintain my concerns about the quality of ingredients in most treats. From loads of refined sugar to, often times if store-bought, a lengthy list of fillers, thickeners, “natural flavors”, soy products and who knows what else. There’s just no reason for it, especially when you can make your own.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  7. Maple Glazed Pumpkin Spice Almonds

    Maple Glazed Pumpkin Spice Almonds

    Maple Glazed Pumpkin Spice Almonds

    With the start of fall and now as we enter October, I say this means it’s officially, official that we can go all-in on the pumpkin spice everything. Sure it’s considered Basic B*tch to some, but I don’t care, call me “Basic Beth” if you wish – I want to pumpkin spice ALL the things, like these Maple Glazed Pumpkin Spice Almonds.

    These lightly sweetened with just a hint of salt, crunchy, crispy, coated almonds are flavored with my homemade Pumpkin Spice Blend (but of course any store bought pumpkin spice blend will work) – they get coated with maple syrup and then if you allow them time to dry slowly, they harden, up, get crispy and will wow you! Otherwise you end up with sticky, stuck together, not-so-crispy nuts.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  8. Grain-free Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Coconut Milk Ice Cream {dairy-free}

    Grain-free Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Coconut Milk Ice Cream

    Grain-free Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Coconut Milk Ice Cream

    I broke the seal on this summer’s ice cream maker usage with this incredible Peach Raspberry Sorbet, earlier this month and now I can’t stop. When I get a craving for something, you best watch yourself. Get out of my way and let me do my thing. My current adoration of my ice cream maker plus a craving for a childhood favorite meant it was time to create!

    I had the realization that I have sadly been without cookie dough ice cream for longer than should be allowed. The store-bought ones, even when gluten-free or dairy-free, are still loaded with so much junk, tons of refined sugar, creepy lab experiment thickeners and I just can’t.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  9. Cherry Chocolate Chunk Banana Soft Serve {gluten-free, paleo, vegan}

    Cherry Chocolate Chunk Banana Soft Serve {gluten-free, paleo, vegan}

    Cherry Chocolate Chunk Banana Soft Serve {gluten-free, paleo, vegan}

    With Memorial Day behind us, Summer has un-officially kicked off and I couldn’t be more ready! We’ve already managed to get in a picnic and a BBQ to celebrate. Also important to the commemorating of this lovely season. Ice cream! Am I right?

    With all the adjustments I have made to my diet and how great I feel these days, while I very much subscribe to the notion of balance and the occasional treat being part of maintaining a healthy and accessible lifestyle, I also always apt to first reach for healthier whole food options, when possible. This recipe celebrates fresh, in-seaon nutrient-dense whole foods – bringing the treat vibes of what usually would be loaded with dairy, refined sugar and gosh, who knows what else. Read the rest of this entry »

  10. Coconut Apricot Cardamom Bourbon Popsicles {Vegan}

    Coconut Apricot Cardamom Bourbon Popsicles {Vegan}

    Thankfully it has since broke, but this past week, we had the most insane heat wave here in Southern California. After living here just over a year, I haven’t felt anything quite like this. Several days of right around 100ºF and many days even a few degrees more. Now, we don’t get any of that nasty humidity I am used to from my days on the East Coast, but mugginess or not, 100 degrees is DAMN hot.

    Early in the week, we had been in the desert, in Palm Springs, on a much needed anniversary getaway and we came home ready to work our butts off on the various projects we have going on in our cooler beach breeze town of Long Beach. Instead, without any air conditioning and not a breeze to be found, we found ourselves doing a lot of laying around in undergarments, drinking tons of water and we planned lots of meals at restaurants in air conditioning. Seriously guys, I sweat in places this week, that I didn’t even know was possible.

    Coconut Apricot Cardamom Bourbon Popsicles {Vegan}

    After our lovely organic farmer, Tony, dropped off our CSA box on Wednesday afternoon, I took a peek inside at the goodies and saw some beautiful freshly picked apricots and I instantly thought that they would be perfect for some boozy popsicles for the next day, that might help take my mind off of the furnace we were living in.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  11. Dairy-free Peppermint Mocha or Hot Cocoa (Gluten-free with Vegan Option)

    Dairy-free Peppermint Mocha (Gluten-free with Vegan Option) // tasty-yummies.com

    This time of year, I am all about the familiar comforting flavors of the holiday season. Gingerbread, cinnamon rolls, egg nog and of course, chocolate and peppermint, etc. The Starbucks Peppermint Mocha used to be one of my favs, but I just really don’t love all of those sugary syrups and other junk, plus since I prefer to avoid dairy, my only option there is soy milk, which I really don’t like drinking, either. That said, those flavors are the perfect way to get me in the holiday mood. We have been known to go out of our way to get peppermint mochas, just to sip on while we pick out our tree or check out the holiday lights. It’s holiday perfection in a cup!

    Though I am not a regular coffee drinker these days, I do enjoy a cup of joe – now and again. It’s a nice treat once in a while, but I love not being a slave to the caffeine like so many regular coffee drinkers. I only drink it when it sounds good, not because I have to. I find I enjoy coffee and coffee drinks so much more since I tend to indulge only about once a month or so.

    This holiday season, I was determined to recreate the classic Peppermint Mocha, so that I could enjoy it without the junk. Dairy-free, refined sugar-free, made with high-quality ingredients! I am super happy with my homemade version, I like it better than any that could come in a cardboard cup with snowflakes on it. It’s thick and creamy, rich in chocolatey goodness and it has just the right amount of peppermint flavor. Read the rest of this entry »

  12. Dark Chocolate Drizzled Popcorn Balls (Gluten-free & Dairy-Free)

    Dark Chocolate Drizzled Popcorn Balls - Gluten-free and Dairy-free

    I love the challenge of creating healthier versions of classic recipes. Earlier this week I asked my Facebook readers: what Halloween treat would they like a re-imagined healthier version of? Popcorn balls popped up (pun intended) quite often! Traditional popcorn balls are usually loaded with butter, sugar, corn syrup or marshmallows, etc. I figured the easiest way to hold these together without all the junk was honey! It worked perfectly and it gave the popcorn a nice caramel-like color and flavor, too. The dark chocolate drizzle on top is optional, but I do have to say it really makes these extra special and it shouldn’t be skipped if you can help it. Dark chocolate and salty-sweet is an amazing combo.

    Dark Chocolate Drizzled Popcorn Balls - Gluten-free and Dairy-free Read the rest of this entry »

  13. Vegan Pumpkin Spice Almond Butter Fudge (Gluten-Free)

    Vegan Pumpkin Spice Almond Butter Fudge (Gluten-Free)

    Phew this has been a busy couple of weeks here on Tasty Yummies. I hope you guys have enjoying all of the new stuff and I am not overwhelming you with pumpkin already. I have obviously been inspired by the start of the new season!

    I love coming up with fun new ways to enjoy pumpkin this time of year. Who wants to get stuck in a pumpkin rut? Not me! There are plenty of muffins, cookies, smoothies, lattes, etc – so a simple no-cook pumpkin almond butter fudge recipe seemed like a fun new way to enjoy pumpkin.

    Vegan Pumpkin Spice Almond Butter Fudge (Gluten-Free)

    This sweet treat is super simple to make, grain-free, refined sugar-free (depending on the chocolate you use on top), vegan, etc. If you can’t have nuts, consider trying sunflower seed butter in place of the almond butter. Read the rest of this entry »

  14. Chewy Pumpkin Spice Granola Bars – Gluten-free + Vegan

    Chewy Pumpkin Spice Granola Bars - Gluten-free + Vegan

    So, I’m doing a little something different today, I’m posting this recipe from the road. I don’t mean just that I’m on the road away from home, but I am actually in the road, in the car. We are driving to Chicago and we are somewhere in Ohio right now, about 6 hours from our final destination. I made these granola bars for this trip and I had every intention of photographing them and writing up the recipe to share before we left. Of course I ran out of time and didn’t get time to set up a quick photo shoot with my nice camera, as usual. As I was packing these up for the drive, I thought rather than not sharing the recipe at all, I would just snap a few quick photos with my iPhone and make it work.

    Chewy Pumpkin Spice Granola Bars - Gluten-free + Vegan

    They may not be the best photos, but you get the idea. These granola bars are full of goodies and lots of flavor. They aren’t the super crispy crunchy kind, but more soft and chewy, which I prefer. I added in mini chocolate chips, dried currants, sliced almonds and shredded coconut. Feel free to add in your favorite extras and make these your own. If you are using fresh pumpkin purée , which is what I did, make sure  you squeeze or drain any excess water from it, so you don’t end up with soggy bars.

    if you are in Chicago this weekend, come see us at the Renegade Craft Fair Holiday Market on Saturday or Sunday!

    Chewy Pumpkin Spice Granola Bars - Gluten-free + Vegan

     [print_this] Chewy Pumpkin Spice Granola Bars – Gluten-free + Vegan
    Makes 8 bars (you can also cut them into smaller squares to 16 or more)

    • 2 cups certified gluten-free rolled oats
    • 1/2 cup certified gluten-free oat flour
    • 1 cup fresh pumpkin puree (canned will also work)
    • 1/2 cup maple syrup (honey or coconut nectar would also work)
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • Pinch of cloves
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (or flax seeds)
    • 1/2 cup mini-chocolate chips (certified gluten-free and vegan)
    • 1/4 cup dried currants, cranberries or raisins
    • 1/4 cup sliced almond, plus a tad but extra for the top
    • 1/2 cup shredded coconut, plus a tad but extra for the top

    Preheat oven to 350º F. Grease an 8″ x 8″ glass baking pan very well (with coconut oil, butter, oil, etc), or line it with foil, leaving some overhang on two of the sides so you can easily pull it out of the pan to make cutting even easier (this is what I did).

    In a large mixing bowl, add all of your ingredients. Mix and mash up very well until it is all well combined. Get your hands in there if you really want to.

    Press the mixture firmly and evenly into your pan. Sprinkle a bit more coconut, chopped nuts and some cinnamon on top. Place the pan into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Don’t worry if the bars seem a bit soft, they will firm up as they cool. After it has completely cooled, either lift the entire thing out of the pan and cut into bars or squares, or cut while it is in the pan.

    These can be stored individually in the fridge or freezer. Since I made these two days ago, I stored them in the fridge and then wrapped each one individually in a little piece of parchment paper and a sandwich bag for easy eating in the car. [/print_this]

  15. No-Bake Pumpkin Spice Cookie Balls (Gluten-free, Vegan + Sugar-free)

    No-Bake Pumpkin Spice Cookie Balls (Gluten-free, Vegan + Sugar-free)

    My final recipe in my healthy Halloween series with Free People this month is for a simple, quick no-bake cookie ball, that is full of delicious fall flavors. Instead of the cut-out cookies and donuts and wayyy too much Halloween candy, why not snack on these? Gluten-free, vegan and sugar-free these no-bake treats will still wow your socks off.

    No-Bake Pumpkin Spice Cookie Balls (Gluten-free, Vegan + Sugar-free)

    The spicy pumpkin flavor is perfect for this time of year and the whole recipe can be put together from start to finish in about 15 minutes. Plus, you can have fun with these and add in your own favorite extras like coconut, raisins, additional nuts, chocolate chips, powdered sugar or maybe even a drizzle of caramel sauce.

    No-Bake Pumpkin Spice Cookie Balls (Gluten-free, Vegan + Sugar-free)

    This recipe was originally shared on the Free People Blog, BLDG 25 

    [print_this]No-Bake Pumpkin Spice Cookie Balls (Gluten-free, Vegan + Sugar-free)

    Makes approximately 18 balls

    • 8 Medjool Dates, pitted
    • 1/4 cup creamy almond butter
    • 2 tablespoons pumpkin purée (canned or fresh, if you use fresh be sure to drain as much water out as you can)
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
    • Dash of ground cloves
    • Pinch of salt
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 3/4 cup raw walnuts
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut plus more for rolling

    Optional Add-ins:

    • raisins (I used raisins in half of the recipe, about 1/4 cup)
    • additional coconut for rolling
    • additional chopped walnuts for rolling
    • mini chocolate chips

    Add just the pitted dates to the food processor and process for a minute or two until a thick paste forms – if they are quite dry, you may need to add a teaspoon or two of water to get it moving. If they are pureed and form a large ball in the food processor, don’t worry too much, the other ingredients will thin it out. Next, add the almond butter, pumpkin puree, the spices, salt and the vanilla extract. Process for a minute or two again until thick and creamy. Add in the nuts and coconut and pulse a few times until the nuts are chopped and it all comes together into a thick dough. Try to roll a little in your hand, if it is holding together it is ready, if it is too crumbly try adding more almond butter and/or pumpkin. If it is too creamy and sticky, add more nuts and coconut. If you are adding raisins, just fold them in by hand with a spoon or spatula.

    Take the blade out of the processor and roll the dough into balls, about 1 1/2-inches in diameter. Roll into shredded coconut, if you wish. You should end up with approximately 18 cookie balls. You can eat them right away, or place them in the fridge for a bit to firm up (which is what I prefer).

  16. Grain-free Banana Coconut Mini-Loaves – Gluten-free, Dairy-free + Refined Sugar-free

    Grain-Free Banana Coconut Mini-Loaves - Gluten-free, Dairy-free + Refined Sugar-free
    If you follow me on Instagram you probably already know this, but I just love Instagram 🙂 It is probably my favorite social networking platform there is right now, because it is just a little glimpse into people’s lives. Very few words, just a quick glance. It doesn’t feel totally invasive and it is rare that you have people complaining on there or posting political rants, etc. I just feel like it is a big celebration of everything happy going on in our lives. I love seeing peoples pets, their kids, what they are working on, a snapshot from their amazing vaction and of course, all of the food. Some days I put up so many photos of food, I am sure most of my non-food blogging friends want to (or do) unfollow me, but I personally love seeing what is happening in everyone’s kitchens. It is always so inspiring and exciting.

    Grain-Free Banana Coconut Mini-Loaves - Gluten-free, Dairy-free + Refined Sugar-free

    A week or two ago my good friend Esther, who I sadly haven’t seen in a while, posted a photo on Instagram of some amazing little mini-loaves she just pulled out of the oven. They looks delicious and I loved the pan she made them in. The pans are all connected and just the perfect sized little treat, I had never seen anything like it. I mean, what is it about miniature things that is just so irresistible? When I asked Esther where she got it from, she said just up the street from her (she lives in Princeton, NJ), and she offered to pick one up for me. Yay! So, I told her to tell me what it costs and I would send her the money. Next thing I know a package comes in the mail to me, with the pan and a sweet note, as a birthday gift from Esther. It made my whole day! Thank you again so much Esther! The very next morning I started thinking about what I would make with it.

    Grain-Free Banana Coconut Mini-Loaves - Gluten-free, Dairy-free + Refined Sugar-free

    I had some bananas in the pantry that were definitely overripe, so I thought I had to make some banana bread but I wanted to do something a little different and create a grain-free recipe made with my favorite, almond and coconut flours, that also included some yummy coconut, since the two go so well together.

    Grain-free Banana Coconut Mini-Loaves - Gluten-free, Dairy-free + Refined Sugar-free

    Even after playing around with so many baked-good recipes that use the combination of almond and coconut flours, I am still amazed every time I bake with it and it comes out with a grain-like quality to it, it really surprises me each time. I always expect a weird goopy mess that doesn’t quite work. These mini-loaves are just perfection, they are moist and spongey like any good banana bread should be, plus I really love the little bits of coconut throughout and on top. These loaves would also be good with nuts on top or some mini-chocolate chips (both of which I thought of after it was too late). By the way, how great is that plate? Perfect for these mini-loaves right? That was a super thoughtful birthday gift from my friends Sarah and Brian. I have some pretty amazing pals!

    What’s your favorite mini-food or mini kitchen gadget?

    FYI – this is the mini-loaf pan that I used for reference. Each loaf well measures 3 13/16″ x 2 1/2″ and 1 1/2″ high, I haven’t tried this recipe as a single loaf or even the slightly larger mini-loaf pans, so I cannot attest to how it will come out, likely it will work, the loaves will probably have less height to them and you will have to bake it for longer. If you experiment with different loaf pans and this recipe, please let me know how it comes out. Thank you!

    Grain-Free Banana Coconut Mini-Loaves - Gluten-free, Dairy-free + Refined Sugar-free

    [print_this]Grain-free Banana Coconut Mini-Loaves – Gluten-free, Dairy-free + Refined Sugar-free
     makes 8 mini-loaves

    • 1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour (I like Honeyville)
    • 1/4 cup coconut flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened finely shredded coconut, saving a small amount for the top of the loaves
    • 2-3 large ripe bananas, mashed (you are looking to get about 1 1/2 cups)
    • 4 extra-large local farm fresh brown eggs
    • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
    • 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

    Preheat the oven to 350º F. Grease your mini-loaf pans with a little coconut oil, I used this pan.

    In a large bowl combine the almond and coconut flours with baking soda, sea salt and shredded coconut. In a small bowl combine the eggs with the coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla extract and the mashed bananas, whisk until very well combined.

    Pour wet ingredients into the dry and mix well until fully incorporated.

    Divide the batter evenly into the 8 mini-loaf pans, smooth it out a bit with a spatula and sprinkle a little shredded coconut on top of each loaf.
    Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Test with a tooth-pick for doneness. Remove loaves from oven, let cool in pans for 10-15 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling.

    I find for these type of grain-free baked goods, that storage in the fridge seems to be best, I usually just cover or wrap them in plastic wrap or put them in a large ziplock bag. When I am ready to eat one, I pull it out, give it 20 seconds in the microwave or a minute or two in the toaster oven and then I slather a little coconut oil on top.


  17. Spicy Dark Chocolate Bark with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Sea Salt – Gluten-free + Vegan

    Spicy Dark Chocolate Bark with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Sea Salt

    I know I mention not being one of those people that is overly obsessed with sweets, and while that is true, one thing I can never walk away from is really good dark chocolate. That bitter bite with the subtle sweetness is the perfect combination, add some spice, crunch and salt and then you’ve really got me hooked.

    I started making bark a year or two ago, as the perfect treat to make for a dinner party, or you can wrap it up in some really nice handmade packaging and even give it as a gift. I always buy the highest percentage of cocoa containing dark chocolate I can find since that darker and more bitter, the better. Lately I have been loving Endangered Species 88% Dark Chocolate, and the bonus is that instead of refined white sugar, the sweetness in their bars comes from unbleached beet sugar. How cool is that?

    Spicy Dark Chocolate Bark with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Sea Salt

    One of my favorite things about making my own chocolate bark is all of the fun combinations you can create with different ingredients. You can use dried fruits, different nuts and seeds, spices, herbs, etc. You can really make something special every time. Since I was creating another healthy Halloween treat for my ongoing series this month with Free People, I thought that adding toasted pumpkin seeds was the perfect seasonal twist on this, and the addition of the spices bring a nice unexpected heat, and the chipotle powder has a nice subtle smokey flavor.

    Feel free to play around with your own favorite add-ins, and make this your own. Here is another dark chocolate bark recipe that I made a while back, that I love.

    This recipe was originally shared on the Free People Blog BLDG 25.

    Spicy Dark Chocolate Bark with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Sea Salt


    [print_this]Spicy Dark Chocolate Bark with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Sea Salt

    • 12 ounces of gluten-free, vegan dark chocolate (I used this)
    • 1/2 cup of hulled, unsalted pumpkin seeds
    • 1/4 teaspoon of smoked chipotle powder, plus a bit extra
    • 1/4 teaspoon of chile powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon coarse grey sea salt (Fleur de sel)

    Place the pumpkin seeds in a dry skillet over a medium heat. Toast the pumpkin seeds for about 3-5 minutes, until they jump around a bit in the pan. Set aside to cool.

    Line the bottom of baking sheet with parchment paper leaving a small overhang. (I drizzle a small amount of oil on the pan first so the parchment paper will stay put and not wrinkle).

    Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over hot water, or in a microwave on low in 30-second bursts. Stir often with a rubber spatula so it melts evenly. Stir in the spices and half of the pumpkin seeds.

    Pour the chocolate onto the baking sheet and smooth with a spatula into an even layer. Sprinkle with the remaining pumpkin seeds and a pinch or two of additional smoked chipotle powder and the sea salt. Chill in the refrigerator until completely set, about 20-30 minutes, or in the freezer for 5 minutes.

    Peel the bark off the parchment paper and break into irregular pieces. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, it is best in the first a couple of days but can be stored up to two weeks.


  18. Mint Chocolate Chip Brownie Bites – Gluten-free + Vegan

    Mint Chocolate Chip Brownie Bites - Gluten-free + Vegan

    I feel a little bad, because I really haven’t addressed the running thing in about two weeks. So many of you offered really great advice and I was really feeling great about it all.  I went on a total of three runs and I really took each one very easy, trying not to go too hard too fast. Because I was using an iPhone app that basically was helping me ease into running, it had me on a program where I would walk for about 90 seconds then run for 45 and so forth, including a warm up and a cool down. The workouts were 30 minutes long and I was “running” about 2 miles each time. After my third run I was experiencing some very severe inner knee pain almost immediately afterward. I hesitate to even call it knee pain, as it was far more like leg pain, than knee pain. I wasn’t having any pain in my knee caps, I could kneel on them, etc. It was more any amount of pressure was seriously irritating both of my inner legs near the knee. Going up and down the stairs was horrid. I decided I need to take a break from running before I did any major damage to my body. Shortest running career, EVER! I kept up with my daily yoga practice and I did a ton of icing and I was taking ibuprofen, as needed. All of those things helped, but it took a solid 2 weeks for my legs and knees to stop hurting as much as they were. I wouldn’t say that now I am back to the way I was before this happened, but I am very close. So yeh, that was seriously upsetting and totally a let down. It is partially why I haven’t really mentioned it, because I was a little let down that only 3 runs in, I was already forced to take a break.

    In talking with my friend Elyssa, who is also my amazing chiropractor and one of my yoga teachers, and in her looking at my knees, she explained that it seemed to be a tracking issue. My knees just aren’t tracking straight, so when I bend them, they tend to want to fall in, instead of staying in line over my toes. Not caused by the running, something that was already there, but aggravated by the running. Now that I am aware of this, I notice all of these things I do, even in yoga, where I allow my knees to fall in. So she gave me some strengthening exercises to do and I haven’t given up all hope, just yet. I do feel like I need to do some work on my body before I jump back into running. That knee pain honestly scared the crap out of me and made me quite sad that I was never going to be able to enjoy running.

    Mint Chocolate Chip Brownie Bites - Gluten-free + Vegan

    At any rate, the running stuff really has very little to do with these brownies, but I felt the need to share the status on my newfound and short love affair with running, since I had left everyone high and dry after you all offered so much incredible advice and encouragement. Thank you again, seriously and hopefully I will need more of that advice again soon, when I feel ready to go back.

    I guess what these brownies do have to do with this story is that I made them over the weekend for a Sip ‘N See party for Elyssa, her husband Aaron and their brand new baby boy, Oliver! The party was a bit of baby shower, but everyone got to meet the amazing Oliver and welcome him to the world. Elyssa and Aaron adopted baby Oliver and the party was one of the nicest celebrations I have ever been to. It was a very casual and laid back get together with lots of people from our yoga studio and obviously some of their other family and friends. Everyone just got to visit, swoon over the baby and just enjoy each other’s company and lots of yummy food. Since a handful of other people there are also gluten-free, a few are vegan, some are just dairy-free or just vegan, etc – my friend Kathleeen (hi, Kathleen! 🙂 ) asked me to make something sweet for a dessert! I was all over that. I love making sweets for people, especially when I know they will appreciate them being gluten-free and vegan!

    It took me a couple of days to decide what to make for a good amount of people, in a casual grab-it and go kinda setting. It had to be small, bite-sized and easy to just pick up and eat. I was thinking about cupcakes for a while, but I am not much for the decorating part of cupcakes. It just isn’t my thing. That’s when I realized a brownie bite would be perfect. When I made these for the party, I wasn’t sure everyone would love the addition of mint, so I made half of them mint and half just classic chocolate. It could have been their placement on the plate, or coincidence, but the mint ones went so quickly. They were gone long before the classic ones. Since it was the first time I had made them, for the party, I did decide that I wanted to change a couple things about the recipe, so I made them again a few days later, to try to perfect them. The second time was definitely the charm, I seemed to get the ratios more on point and they were exactly right.

    Mint Chocolate Chip Brownie Bites - Gluten-free + Vegan

    The fact that I have an overabundance of fresh mint growing in my yard, is the reason why I wanted to had to include some fresh mint in these brownie bites. I couldn’t resist. If you don’t have any on hand, no worries, you can simply leave it out. If you don’t like mint flavor, just leave out the fresh mint and the mint extract and add in a little more vanilla and you are left with classic chocolate chip brownie bites.

    These tasty little nuggets are filled with flavor, they are the perfect size, they are easy to eat and the mint and chocolate combination is really to die for! They are fluffy and moist, while being chocolatey and gooey from the chocolate chips and for me, they are the right amount of sweet.

    Mint Chocolate Chip Brownie Bites - Gluten-free + Vegan

    [print_this]Mint Chocolate Chip Brownie Bites – Gluten-free + Vegan
    makes approximately 30 brownie bites
    Loosely adapted from this recipe

    • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted, plus a little more for the pans
    • 1/2 cup garbanzo and fava bean flour
    • 1/2 cup almond flour (aka almond meal)
    • 1/4 cup potato starch
    • 2 tablespoons arrowroot starch
    • 1/2 cup maple syrup
    • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1/2 cup mashed ripe bananas
    • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
    • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon mint extract (I used just about 1/2 teaspoon and the mint flavor was perfect, not too overpowering at all)
    • 1/4 cup hot water
    • 10 ounces vegan, gluten-free semi-sweet chocolate chips (mini chocolate chips would also be good)
    • 1/4 cup firmly packed, fresh mint, very finely chopped

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Brush 3 dozen mini-muffin pans with oil; set aside. You can also just use one pan and wait until each batch cools to unfold them and then regrease the pan to make the next batch (this is what I did).

    In a medium bowl, whisk together garbanzo and fava bean flour, almond flour, potato starch, arrowroot, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and unsweetened cocoa powder; set aside. In a large bowl, mix together banana, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla and mint extract. Slowly add flour mixture, stirring to combine. Stir in water until it forms a batter. Fold in chocolate chips and fresh mint.

    Place approximately 1 tablespoon batter into each prepared muffin cup, you want them about 3/4 of the way filled. Transfer muffin pans to oven, and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before unmolding.




  19. Salted Chocolate Tart – Gluten-free, Grain-free + Vegan

    Salted Chocolate Tart - Gluten-free, Grain-free + Vegan

    When you are craving something very specific and you want it just how you envision it in your own head, there is nothing left to do but to just figure out how to make it yourself.

    I had been wanting a delicious but not too rich simple chocolate dessert, with just a touch of saltiness. There is nothing better than a good quality chocolate treat and tad bit of good quality sea salt. Yum, one of my very favorite things. I decided to just write up a recipe first, that I thought would work and just play it by ear, adding things as I went if I thought it needed it and then hope for the best. I find this to be one of the best ways to cook and bake and I am pleasantly surprised at how often it actually works out.

    Salted Chocolate Tart - Gluten-free, Grain-free + Vegan

    Salted Chocolate Tart - Gluten-free, Grain-free + Vegan

    This tart was super simple to make and it was exactly what I was looking for. A slightly crunchy and nutty crust that needs the littlest bit of baking and a super creamy and velvety filling that is the perfect amount of richness, without going overboard and crossing into the world overly heavy and too rich. One of my biggest complaints of so many desserts. The sea salt on top is so perfect, both in how it looks on top of the glossy chocolate and the delicious treat that it provides your taste buds.

    I ended up melting some dairy-free semi-sweet mini chocolate chips (from Enjoy Life) that I had on hand in my pantry, but you can also just use your favorite bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped for melting. If you want to make this refined sugar free, you could also try melting unsweetened bakers chocolate, and sweeten it to your liking with whatever you choose, such as stevia, maple syrup, palm sugar, etc.

    I am super excited at how simple the crust was on this tart, I definitely plan to make some really fun tarts this spring and summer with this recipe

    Salted Chocolate Tart - Gluten-free, Grain-free + Vegan

    [print_this]Salted Chocolate Tart – Gluten-free, Grain-free + Vegan
    serves 8 to 10


    • 2 cups almond flour, aka almond meal
    • 2 tablespoons flax seed meal
    • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
    • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
    • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt



    • 10 ounces non-dairy bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (or dairy-free mini semi-sweet chocolate chips)
    • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used a blend of coconut and almond milk)
    • 1 tablespoon arrowroot starch (You could also use tapioca starch or corn starch)
    • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • High quality sea salt for topping (see below note)

    Preheat oven to 350º. Lightly grease a 9 or 10-inch tart pan. In a large bowl, add all of the crust ingredients and mix very well. Add the crust mixture to the tart pan and press down firmly into the pan, going up the sides just a tad bit. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

    Meanwhile, place the chocolate into a glass bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan, add the non-dairy milk and arrowroot starch and whisk very well to combine and remove any lumps. Over a medium-high heat, heat until it just barely starts to boil. Remove from the heat and add in the coconut oil and stir well to melt the coconut oil (if it wasn’t already) and to combine well. Pour the milk mixture over the chocolate and let sit a few minutes until the chocolate is melting, add in the vanilla extract, then stir very well for a few minutes, until the mixture is smooth, glassy and creamy.

    Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared crust and allow it to cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or until fully set. Pop the ring from the tart pan off, sprinkle with a small amount of high quality sea salt, cut into slices and serve chilled.

    NOTE: Sprinkle the sea salt on just before serving. If you sprinkle the salt on before the tart has fully set, it will start to dissolve into the surface, I had sprinkled a small amount on after it had chilled a bit, but before it was fully set, since I didn’t really think about that happening. It did start to dissolve a bit, so I just sprinkled just a tad a bit more on top before serving and for taking photos.


  20. Creamy Indian-Spiced White Bean Dip – Gluten-free + Vegan

    Creamy Indian-Spiced White Bean Dip - Gluten-free + Vegan

    I am back home from our trip to California, we landed late last night and I am feeling insanely invigorated. We spent nearly a week out there, exploring neighborhoods and all the different towns, we went to the beach, we celebrated our 5-year wedding anniversary at Disneyland and fell even more in love with everything Southern California has to offer! This was the trip we needed to light that fire under our behinds to get the last few things done before we get our house on the market here in Buffalo and move out west! It is looking like our new home is going be in Long Beach, in a quaint little neighborhood by the beach. We cannot wait to start seriously looking for a house and to get this party started!

    We are headed back to California in less than 2 short months for our good friends’ Patrick and Summer’s wedding, so who knows, maybe even by then we will have sold the house and be ready to start the whole process. I really hope so.

    Ever since we decided to move out there, I told myself that given we would be living somewhere that has beautiful weather all year long, that I was going to be way more active outdoors. I want to get into running and biking as part of my weekly fitness routine, since both feel like a wonderful compliment to my daily yoga practice. Rather than waiting to get out there to start anew with so many things, I decided on the plane ride home that I was going to get started right away, particularly with the running since I have never really given it a serious shot. I have always found running to be painful and not my favorite way to sneak in exercise. But, the more I have read about running and getting started on a serious plan, it is best to ease your body into it and not try to do too much, too soon, which is probably what I have always done. So, I am going to take advantage of the beautiful spring and summer weather here in Western New York and start my training now, so I can hopefully just hit the ground running (pun intended) whenever we finally get out to the west coast.

    Tonight is my first run, I have a good pair of Nike+ running shoes that I bought years ago and only ever wore to the gym, I have a couple of iPhone apps downloaded to help me properly ease into running, so they can tell me when and how I should be running and walking and for how long. I even have a running partner, my hubby, who is ready to get back into running himself. Now, the only thing I have to fear is my annoying low back issues. I tend to keep that all at bay with yoga and an incredible chiropractor, but I am a bit concerned on how the running will affect my back. I have a herniated disc in my low back that is known to cause me issues now and again and from what I have read about running, the pressure and the shock from it can sometimes be a bit hard on that type of injury. Here’s hoping I have strengthened my core and stretched my muscles enough from yoga, that my body can handle it. I really want it to work for me since running seems like the perfect compliment to my lifestyle, especially when we will be living so close to the beach.

    My plan, if running and my body can agree on it, is to continue with my daily yoga practice, and getting to at least five 90-minute yoga classes a week, and now adding in 3 days of running. So, every day I will have some type of physical activity going on and on only a couple of days will I have to manage getting to the yoga studio and squeezing in a run, too. Even though yoga doesn’t always have to be a 90-minute thing, I really do prefer to have a practice that is that long and I really enjoy going to the studio. I practice at home on occasion, but I find since I work at home, it can be hard to focus on yoga and not get distracted by everything else around me. That is one thing about running I think I am most drawn to, the change of scenery, being outside and engulfed by nature and the elements and being in control of when, where and how it happens. As long as the weather cooperates and there is a safe and somewhat smooth surface, it seems like you can run virtually anywhere.

    Do you like running? Have any tips for someone that is just getting started?

    OK, so onto the dip… I made this dip this afternoon as a light snack. With us being gone for a week, I couldn’t wait to get home and get back to eating foods that I prepared. The food is the only downside to traveling for me, eating unprocessed foods that are gluten-free and as often as I can find, also vegetarian, can get a bit tricky when you are away. I did the very best I could and found so many great options, but I still ate so much different than I would ever eat at home. I debated doing a juice cleanse for a couple days after returning home, but with me wanting to start training for running, I didn’t think both were such a good idea, so I decided to start the running and just eat extra light this week. Now that our local farmers market is open for the season, I will definitely be stocking up there on Saturday and doing a lot of juices, smoothies and salads this week. This morning, I made a version of my banana almond butter smoothie for breakfast, adding in a scoop of ground flaxseeds and a scoop of cocoa powder and it kept me full all day. About 3:30pm I realized I hadn’t eaten anything since the smoothie and I had cleaned the whole house and totally unpacked my suitcase. I decided I would make a simple mid-afternoon snack and a creamy white bean dip was calling my name. The bold flavors from the Indian spices were so perfect and subtle and the garlic gave it all a great punch. The white beans made for an incredibly smooth and creamy dip that was delicious on some gluten-free crackers. I wish we had some fresh raw veggies, those would also be great in this dip. That is the other bad thing about traveling, coming home to an empty fridge. If you don’t love garam masala, substitute some yellow curry or another one of your favorite spices. If the heat from the garam masala and the raw garlic is enough, skip the chili powder.

    I will check back in tomorrow with a new recipe and to let you know how the running went this evening.

    Creamy Indian-Spiced White Bean Dip - Gluten-free + Vegan

    [print_this]Creamy Indian-Spiced White Bean Dip – Gluten-free + Vegan
    makes about 1 cup of dip

    • 1 can white beans
    • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
    • dash of chili
    • 1 clove garlic, peeled and very roughly chopped
    • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    • 1/4 cup olive oil

    Add of the ingredients, except the olive oil, to the food processor. Start pureeing and slowly drizzle in the olive oil while the processor is running, until it is all added. Puree the dip until smooth and creamy. Serve immediately or store in refrigerator and serve chilled. Keeps in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


  21. Double Fudge Candy Cane Cupcakes – Gluten-free, Dairy-free

    Double Chocolate Chip Candy Cane Cupcakes - Gluten-free and Dairy-Free

    I know Christmas has come and gone now, but I still wanted to share these delicious cupcakes with you. I made these for Christmas Eve dinner and they were a huge hit, my 2-year old niece took one bite of the one I was about to eat and ran off with it before I even took a bite! They are super fluffy and moist with a perfect balance of chocolate gooey-ness inside and a bright peppermint burst from the peppermint extract inside and the candy cane bits on top. I told you I have been on a chocolate peppermint kick! I adapted Elana’s Almond Fudge Cupcake recipe from her cupcake cookbook, substituting peppermint extract for the almond extract. I really wanted a strong peppermint flavor so I kept it at the 1 tablespoon, but I actually think it could use a bit less (use your judgement). I cannot get over how incredible and simple Elana’s cupcake recipes are, in terms of flours and starches, these delicious treats only had almond flour and coconut flour, that’s it – no gums, no starches, no oil or butter, it is so simple. I, once again, also used Elana’s vegan chocolate frosting recipe from her cookbook, because I absolutely love how simple it is to make and I almost always have everything on hand to just whip it up quickly. If you are gluten-free and you don’t own Elana’s Gluten-free Cupcakes cookbook, you need to get it ASAP!

    I want to note that I have almost completely stopped baking with agave nectar since I learned a few months ago that even though it is an unrefined vegan sugar-alternative, naturally coming from a cactus plant and having a low-glycemic index, it has been discovered it is very high in fructose and it’s affects on the body are very similar to that of high-fructose corn syrup. Yes it is true that sugar is sugar no matter what the source and I know everyone has their own opinions on all sugars and sugar alternatives and it is also true that no sugar is truly good for you, per se. I just personally try to limit my sugar intake (no matter what the source) and be smart when I do use sugar and sugar alternatives, choosing things that I know work for me, like dates or bananas to sweeten things like smoothies, cookies and muffins, naturally whenever possible or choosing coconut sugar, honey or maple syrup when those won’t work in baking, etc. There are times when a recipe is best made with sugar and I will obviously go that route and in this particular recipe since I was adapting a recipe from Elana’s Pantry, who uses agave nectar quite often, I decided rather than experimenting, to just keep the recipe as is in that way and use the remaining agave I had in the pantry from before. I figured it was best to keep the recipe with it’s original ratios, to avoid a Christmas eve cupcake failure. Leanne from Healthful Pursuit has a wonderful video here about healthy alternative sweeteners.

    The holiday celebrations continue for us until New Years Day, so I hope to be making other goodies in the next few days. We have dinner with the family tonight, a big Greek feast with souvlaki and avgolemono soup, I am not doing any of the cooking or baking for tonight, but we are heading down to Kentucky later this week to visit with Mark’s family and celebrate Christmas and New Years there, so I plan to make some healthy treats for us all to munch on then.

    I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas Day, hanukkah or whatever you celebrate! Did you make any special treats for the holidays? Are your holiday celebrations continuing this entire week, like ours?


    Double Chocolate Chip Candy Cane Cupcakes - Gluten-free and Dairy-Free

    [print_this]Double Fudge Candy Cane Cupcakes – Gluten-free, Dairy-free
    makes 12 cupcakes
    Adapted from Elana Amsterdam’s Almond Fudge Cupcake recipe from “Gluten-Free Cupcakes – 50 Irresistible Recipes Made with Almond and Coconut Flour”

    1 cup blanched almond flour
    2 tablespoons coconut flour
    2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
    1/4 teaspoon sea salt
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    4 large farm-fresh brown eggs
    1/2 cup honey (maple syrup or agave nectar
    1 tablespoon peppermint extract (use less here if you want the peppermint flavor to be subtle)
    1/2 cup dairy-free mini dark chocolate chips (73% cacao)
    1/4 cup crushed candy canes (corn syrup free, if you can find them)

    Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

    In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, coconut flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda. Set aside.

    In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, agave nectar, and peppermint extract. Blend the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture with a handheld mixer until thoroughly combined, then stir in the mini chocolate chops.

    Scoop 1/4 cup of the batter into each prepared muffin cup.

    Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center a cupcake comes out with just a few moist crumbs on it. Let the cupcakes cook in the pan for 1 hour, then frost (see below recipe), sprinkle with candy cane bits and serve.

    Chocolate Frosting

    6 ounces dark chocolate chips (73% cacao) (about 1 heaping cup)
    1/2 cup Spectrum all-vegetable shortening (I use Spectrum sustainable organic palm oil shortening)
    1/4 cup raw honey (maple syrup or agave nectar)
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    2 tablespoon water
    Pinch of sea salt

    Heat the chocolate in a medium saucepan over a very low heat, melt until it is smooth. (You can also melt them in the microwave in a medium glass microwave-safe bowl). Allow the pan or bowl to rest on the counter for 5 to 10 minutes to cool the chocolate to room temperature.

    With a handheld mixer, blend in the shortening, then blend in the agave nectar, vanilla extract, water and salt until smooth. Place the saucepan in the refrigerator for 3 to 8 minutes, until the frosting is spreadable.

    If the frosting gets too stiff to work with, reheat the pan very briefly over a low heat and stir until it is softened. If the frosting is too runny, place it back in the refrigerator until it firms up.

    Use the frosting immediately or store in a glass Mason jar in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


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