Chocolate love – weekend desserts

I LOVE chocolate. I used to love milk chocolate. Not anymore….I still remember days when I was teenager and I could eat 200-300g of chocolate in one sit. Seriously…I liked it that much…But, since I went paleo, I find it difficult to find chocolate that would not have soya lecithin in it and it is impossible to find chocolate without sugar. Well, in best case scenario you get chocolate with cane sugar and no soya lecithin and it might be pricey 🙂 But I prefer not to have sugar at all, so I prefer to make desserts by myself and explore different ways to enjoy it while making desserts with 100% cocoa.  I love richness of chocolate and I think I couldn’t live without it, but the sweetness was replaced by bitterness. That’s where the problem lies is making desserts, because Keven is sugar fan. So, this weekend for me was chocolate dessert weekend…I almost always make desserts on weekends to have what to enjoy during the week 🙂

This weekend I made paleo candies, sun butter chocolate fudge and sweet potato chocolate brownies. Actually, brownies are still in the oven, so pictures for all desserts will follow. My favourite easy to make dessert that I must have in freezer is pale candies. So easy to make and I started to separate now in a half. First half I make almost unsweetened (for me) and second half triple  sweetened (for Keven). The good thing about these candies is that you can mix in whatever I want. Sometimes I make them only with coconut flakes, sometimes make half nuts and half coconut flakes, sometimes I add a little bit of nuts. The one that is in recipe has maybe 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts and rest is coconut flakes, so experiment to find the best combination for you. I like this recipe because it doesn’t have as much of coconut oil and/or almond butter. I love both, but I also love to have something not that expensive to make, so these candies are good budget solution 🙂

Paleo Chocolate Bars

  • 2-3 Tbs coconut oil (depends on how crunchy you can you bars to be)    
  • 1/4 cup 100% cocoa
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (if not just replace them by shredded coconut)
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 Tbs raw honey (add more if you want it sweeter)
  • parchment paper or pyrex

Then comes the easiest part. Over medium heat in small saucepan heat oil and honey until melted. Add cocoa, nuts    and coconut and mix everything. Pour the mixture on a parchment paper or in a pyrex and form a square. Put in a freezer until set. Cut into desired sizes. Enjoy! I keep them in a freezer not to eat all at once. It is easier if you don’t see it, because it would be gone much faster 🙂

Sunflower Fudge

I found this recipe through Dessert Stalker and I chose to make it, because it did not relied heavily on either butter or coconut oil. Plus it offered to make your own sun butter (which I did, but I think I toasted seeds a bit too much, so my fudge has some little taste of burn….oh well…next time it will be perfect). Whether you choose to make your own sun butter or not, it is up to you, I think you will be satisfied with result. It is really nice and filling dessert (adopted from Erin).

Ingredients:

  • 2oz  100% cacao unsweetened chocolate (if you don’t have, just replace by 1/3 cup of cacao)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup organic sun butter (or make your own sunflower butter)
  • 3 Tbsp Maple syrup (or any other your preferred natural sweetener)
  • 6 drops stevia (I think next time I will not put stevia and maybe just add 1 tbsp of honey)

Over medium heat mix all ingredients in a medium saucepan until well combined. Pour into bread pan and freeze until set. Cut into desirable sizes and enjoy. What is good about this recipe that you can replace sun butter by any other nut or seed butter and have a great result, because the taste is really rich and I love the idea of using coconut milk instead of oil.

Last recipe came from my favourite dessert maker Juli 🙂 Needless to say it is really yummy, though less yummy than sweet potato pie 🙂 Anyways, when you have sweet potatoes around, very well worth to make.

Sweet Potato Brownies

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 3 eggs, whisked (I used 1 whole egg and 1/2 cup of egg whites)
  • 1/4 cup melted Coconut Oil
  • 1/3 cup unpasteurized honey
  • 1/4 cup Semi  Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 3 tbsp Coconut Flour
  • 2 tbsp 100% cocoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Bake potato on 425F for around 30mins. or until soft. Then reduce heat to 350F for brownies. Peel and mash sweet potato. Add coconut oil, eggs, honey and vanilla. Mix well. Add dry ingredients: cocoa, baking soda, coconut flour, cinnamon, salt and chocolate chips. Mix all well. Pour into 8×8 or similar size pyrex and bake for 30-40mins. Cut into squares.

I served it with coconut ice cream and blueberries. Super nice 🙂

So, these are my treats for a week 🙂 I know that it might seem a lot, but brownies will be gone tomorrow and fudge will last a bit longer as it has burned sunflower seed taste :)))

Why I work out and eat clean

I love working out, I am in no way professional but I like pushing limits of my body. Sometimes I do refer to my body as if it would be something outside me:) I say: “my body needs to work out” and it’s true. Sometimes my mind does not feel like working out, but my body is pushing me yo make at least something. I have to do some type of workout every day, even if it would be walking few kilometers. Anything counts. I do work out not because I would look hotter or more attractive ( my husband finds me beautiful all the time) but because I feel good. I always tend to have at leat two different physical activities at a time, to provide myself mental stimulation and variety. When I was a kid, I used to do swimming (5 times a week) and karate (3 times a week) so my body is used to be under pressure. Then I had period of around 8 years where I was not working out regularly, except physical education classes at school. I still would be in shape. It was not until I started getting really chubby that I decided tk stopall this and get back in shape. I got strong body, so it is a sin not to use it. I started running, swimming and my kilograms melted. Then my ex introduced me to rock climbing. It was love from the first sight. Boyfriend was gone, climbing stayed. It is amazing how much it pushes you mentally and physically – you are never strong enough. Rocks are always stronger than you. And when you think…isn’t it crazy that we climb those rocks that have been there fkr millions of years and feel sense of accomplishent when we top it. Rock doesn’t care…but we do…not just for personal accomplish, but for the connection with nature. Most of my most beautiful moments in life are related to rock climbing: travelling, exploring, being absolutely fulfilled and totally content, feeling happy to be alive and have an opportunity to feel and experience, happy to have this body that can climb, being able to enjoy sun burning my back, taking a moment to look around and enjoy beauty of nature, feeling glad that I fight my inner demons and fears, meeting most amazing people and making friends for life. Since I started to climb, I never got back into state of not working out. I also started doing capoeira (brazilian martial art). Most of the days after work I would go to climb for an hour, then head directly to capoeira for the other hour and go by bike home. After that I would feel so weak and strong at the same time. I love being able to explore possibilities of my body, to make it stronger and stronger. I could not find affordable capoeira group in quebec, so I just stuck with climbing and working out at home (bodyrock.tv and some apps). Then I discovered Crossfit, thanks to Couchsurfers from Washington. That was another love from first sight. I feel challenged every time and I love it. I never worked out with weights in my life, so it is all new to me. But climbing helps a lot: I have super strong back, forearms and fingers, great sense o balance and ability to push myself, and pain endurance ( try to climb wog shoes that are 3 size smaller or hold your body weight on 0.3cm edge and pull up), so I am doing quite great in crossfit.

Around the same time when I started crossfit I also discovered Zone Diet, while I was browsing for some recipe book. So, I decided to take a month clallenge with Zone. That was great, I eliminated gluten and changed my way of eating hy having much less carbs. I was reading a lot about nutrition and more and more I felt inclined towards paleo. I took little steps, trying to understand why we eat as we eat finally took Whole30 challenge. Just went cold turkey. It was challenging at the beginning, but I would never go back to my previous eating. I love my body and I want it to be as healthy as possible. I rlrat quality food and I can’t even think of eating something that contains sth that I can’t pronounce or that is not natural. I want to be able to climb when I will be 70, I want my children to be healthy and I love to be in charge of what I eat and how I look. There is no greater feeling as feeling healthy and strong. It requires effort and is not always easy, but what is? In order to be happy we have to work to achieve it, it is a process and it requires effort, but show me a person who doesn’t want to be happy and healthy, just not everyone is ready to work for it. But this is personal choice and responsibility for your own life and way of living.

Double Layer Fudge

Ok. Now, we come to serious business. I have tried this recipe last week and it was so good that I think that I won’t make it very soon. It is just so good that is hard to stop eating and it is really fat. Though fats are good for us, right? When it comes to desserts, one of my favourite websites is Juli from PaleOMG, this girl goes hardcore and she does it really well. So, I saw this picture on website and just left page open in my iPod browser not to forget that I want to make this dessert (sorry for not having my own picture to upload). I hope Juli will forgive me for using her picture for this post, but I just did not have time to take my own picture and when I had, the fudge was gone 😦

Double Layer Fudge

    • 1 cup coconut oil
    • 1 cup almond butter
    • 1/4-1/3 cup raw honey (Juli offers to add 1/2 cup of honey, but I was scarred that for me it would be too sweet. And it was sweet enough) 
    • 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
    • 4-5 heaping tbsp of pure cacao (the more cacao you will add, the more bitterness it will bring)
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • pick of salt
    • a handful of semi sweet chocolate chips (though not necessary)
    • extra of shredded coconut for sprinkling

Add coconut oil, honey, shredded coconut, vanilla extract, almond butter and pinch of salt to a food processor and mix until fully combined. Pour half of the mixture to a bread pan or some other pan and use spoon to make the surface even (I used pyrex, but then it was a bit hard to cut first part as it sticked to the bottom). Place it into the freezer to harden. Meanwhile, add cocoa step by step to the rest of mixture and mix throughly until you get the desired taste and not too bitter. Once cacao is all mixed in add a pinch of salt and mix it well, pour chocolate mixture over hardened light fudge. Sprinkle with chocolate chips, shredded coconut and some salt. I was really surprised about the salt, but it was actually working really nice once the fudge was done and brought up some unexpected nice addition to the sweetness. Place in freezer for 10-15mins. Cut in chunks and try not to eat all the chunks at once. I was keeping them in freezer and it was all gone in couple days. It is amazingly good with coffee. So far, my favorite dessert!

 

Sweet Potato Pie

I have been making quite lots of desserts lately. Well, after my Whole30 challenge I really missed making sweets and especially because Paleo is still new to me I love experimenting and trying out new stuff, especially free from all the inflammatory stuff 🙂 So, I have never made not Paleo sweet potato pie as well as I have never made pumpkin pie before in my life, so for me, this pie tasted amazing. Actually, all Paleo desserts tastes for me amazing, but this one is definitely worth trying, especially if you got couple sweet potatoes laying around.

This recipe is entirely from the book “Paleo Comfort Foods” and it has two parts: Nutty Crust and Sweet potato Pie filling itself.

Nutty Pie Crust:

  • 1 cup almond Flour
  • 1/2 cup pecans (chopped)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 2 tbsp honey (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Mix all the dry ingredients in one bowl and all wet in the other. Combine wet with dry until completely mixed. Using fingers  or spoon (for me with spoon was less hassle as it dough is quite sticky) press dough into 24cm pie pan. Bake for 12-14mins. or until browned. Let it cool completely before filling.

Sweet Potato Pie:

  • 1 Nutty Pie Crust
  • 2 cups (400 g) sweet potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed
  • 1 tbsp of butter or coconut butter (melted)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder (I did not use baking powder as the one that I have from old times contains starch, so I just added extra 1/2 tsp of baking soda. I always do that when recipe calls for baking powder. I know that they have different reactions, but I have been lazy to search for appropriate baking powder or simply don’t remember that when I am shopping)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey (it is optional and I actually used maple syrup as I run out of sugar and as Keven still has huge sweet tooth I decided to please him by adding this extra sweetness to dessert)

Preheat the oven to 400F. In large bowl or food processor mix sweet potatoes and butter. Add in eggs and mix until fluffy. Combine cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt in separate bowl. To the sweet potato mixture add coconut milk, vinegar and spices. Mix until fully combined and add honey if desired. Pour content into pie crust and bake for 10mins. at 400F and then reduce heat to 325F and bake for 30mins. or until set. Decorate with pecan halves 🙂
Super nice and everyone will be very pleased with this pie.

Food choice challenge

It is funny that Mother’s day date differ from country to country. You would think that such an international thing as Mother’s Day would be the same everywhere, but no….I don’t know how it is determined here, in Canada, but back in my country Lithuania, it is the first Sunday of May. So, I congratulated my mom last Sunday. Father’s day is first Sunday of June. So, I always know when it is Mother’s or Father’s day…So, we decided to have brunch with Keven’s family, to spend time together. Keven’s sister picked the restaurant where they have Sunday Brunch for reasonable price. Last time when I went for the brunch with family, I was simply avoiding gluten in all forms, but did not omit diary and was not in Whole30 challenge. This time everything was much more difficult. So, before going there I decided to make sure that I am not gonna die from hunger if I would not find what to eat, so popped in before leaving couple of Broccoli fritters, just to make sure 🙂 I also took some Paleo mayo, hoping that there would be some nice vegetables so that I could combine salad and just in case if they would not have olive oil.  I like veggies, but I also like to have a dressing 🙂

And actually I had very poor choice in the restaurant, because it was all processed food, fried, made in dough or made with potatoes (pate, fried bacon, fried potatoes, loads of deli meat, cheese plate, pasta, pasta salad, some stew, little meat cakes and etc). They did not have any boiled eggs and they did not fry eggs on site ( even though probably I would have eaten them, because they would not be organic 🙂 ) , the only egg choice was omelet, but I assume that they would put some wheat and diary in it, to make it more filling, therefore I did not risk. I was lucky that they had sea food table where I could pick some baked salmon and some shrimps. I don’t know if shrimps were having any additives, but I decided not to worry too much about it as they were not having any sauce on them. There was no vegetable bar, only salad bar with ready-to-eat salads, but one was with mayo (even before I changed my diet, I never ever ate salad with mayo that I did not make myself. I just find it somehow unsafe) and the other was with feta cheese and oil, so could not fill my carb choice with vegetables. So, went to fruit section where could get some fruits (watermelon, melon and pineapple). So, eventually my plate consisted of salmon, shrimps and fruits :)))) And I had loads of water and black coffee. If someone would have told me sometime ago that that would be my food choice, I would not have believed. But now, I felt totally O.K. with that. I wish I could have had better choice, but well, you can’t expect all the world to turn into healthy food. And I did not feel that much tempted to try out rest of the food, so when you don’t feel tempted, it is much easier to get around. But Keven indulged himself for both of us. Even desserts were not tempting me, I did not feel being seduced by croissant, brownie or sugar pie. Simply because I don’t know what is inside. I would not mind that much in general gluten, but I just can’t stand the idea of putting in my body modified this or modified that, some artificial sweeteners and God what else. So, just the idea about that totally turned me off. Even when everyone around were eating all the sugar load after having all the fat and carb load I did not feel bad. Not a tiny bit. First of all, because my challenge is almost over and I  can really confirm that my sugar dragon was really slated, so I did not feel tempted by all the desserts. Second, because, even f I would feel tempted, I would still wait until I would go home and bake my own Paleo dessert that would taste as good or even better and would not have all the hidden nasty ingredients. So, I survived my Sunday brunch successfully and this time they were not asking me if I am gonna have a cheat day :))))

 

My new books

yesterday I received my books from Amazon and already started digging into them…As my newest passions are nutrition and dog, so naturally books are about that. So, I got 4 books:

Gary Taubes “Good calories, Bad calories”. I read lots of good reviews about this book and decided that it is definitely worth to have at home and read it thoroughly, because I definitely can confirm that low fat diet is not working and actually high fat diet is much better option. But still I want to have as clear as possible picture of how my body works and what it is best for it. (even though I have to admit that Paleo diet and reading about it and taking Whole30 challenge helped a lot to get a picture). At the same time, I remember that lets say 5 years ago, for me it was too much even to understand what it is proteins, carbs and fats, I simply was saying that I have no idea what all these numbers in labels mean and I actually had no idea, so I am very proud that I evolved so much in my understanding about nutrition and what is what.

Julie and Charles Mayfield “Paleo Comfort foods”. Again, after going through many reviews, I decided that this would be book to have and it looks really promising. I am gonna try to make tomorrow some meatballs, though I will have to omit some ingredients as my Whole30 challenge is not over, so no sauce with red wine for me, even if it is only 2 tbsp. I have less than a week left for the challenge 🙂 The other book that I definitely want to have is by Melissa Joulwan “Well Fed”, as I love  her website and tried many recipes and she seems to be really good cook.

 

 

 

Bastin, Ashton and Nixon, D.V.M. “Better food for Dogs”

It took us a long time to choose the dog food that would satisfy our requirements and would be as healthy as possible. After reading a lot of labels and ingredient lists, checking online and etc. we decided to feed Nora with Orijen brand dog food. It is canadian and it seems to use whole food rather than protein by-products and is not full of preservatives. However,  I know that best would be to make food for dog ourselves and I don’t mind doing that, so I wanted to have book about dog nutrition. It is not as complete as I would like it to be and I would like to have more recipes in there simply because they make differentiation by dog weight and then provide recipes, but same recipes go for 15 lbs dog and 45 lbs dog just it calls for different quantities of ingredients which I would have adjusted by myself, so for me it is basically waste of paper. Instead I would have suggested simply to provide recipe for 10 lbs of dog weight and multiply according to actual weight. Apart from that book contains really useful information on dog nutrition, on supplements and vitamins and nutrient requirements according to adult dog weight. Anyhow, I still can’t use the recipes in there yet as Nora is a puppy and puppies need a lot of different elements to grow healthy and strong, so for a while I will stick with pre-made dog food. Still, I made for her today Carrot and Cinnamon Puppy Treats as to introduce different tread for training sessions.

 

 

Gerilyn J. Bielakiewicz “The Everything Dog Training and Tricks book”

Even though I have read fairly good amount of books about dog psychology and training, I still wanted to have one book that would be mine and not borrowed from the library and that would include a bit more of tricks for dogs and reviews seemed to favour this book. Time will show, I haven’t read it yet actually.