Crunchy Chocolate Bark

Sorry I’ve been MIA–it’s finals and I have a lot of work to do so I’ve been eating oats, salad and stir-fry on repeat every day. 

I shouldn’t walk down the aisles at the grocery store because they tempt me with sales and things I don’t need. I try to avoid mindless wandering through the store but most of the time, it’s just too tempting.

Example 1: Today there was a sale on Baker’s chocolate making them 2 for $5. I ran out of my unsweetened chocolate a few weeks ago so obviously it was necessary to replace. I also didn’t realize they had white chocolate bars. Into the cart both items went.

Example 2: I’ve been CRAVING graham crackers lately. Is that weird? I just love them. Well, Teddy Grahams were on sale soooo, those made their way into the cart too.

And because it’s finals and I have many other things I should be doing, I decided I would use this chocolate and these grahams to make bark since I’ve been wanting to make some since I saw the Pioneer Woman’s Halloween Bark a few months ago. She defied the law with that one because it seems like people only consume bark during the winter holidays. I don’t know who decided that–chocolate is good 365 days a year.

(As a side note, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten chocolate bark. Or any bark for that matter.)

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I was going to use Teddy Grahams as a base but then decided to use puffed millet for some crunch. Warning: puffed millet does not stay still very well and takes a little manipulating. It spreads when the chocolate is poured over it. I haven’t figured out how to fix this.

Also, feel free to use whatever you want for the candy and toppings or leave it relatively plain like I did for half with just some coconut and sea salt. I just used things I had around my house.

Can I give you a suggestion? Gift this to someone. I don’t know about you, but if someone brought this to my house, I’d eat it. It’s fast, cheap, pretty and it tastes good. It’s a winner!

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(I am not the best drizzel-er, but I’m working on it)

Puffed Chocolate Bark

You’ll Need:
Bark:
4oz. package unsweetened Baker’s chocolate
Approximately 12oz. dark chocolate (I used a mixture of 60% Ghiardelli and 60% Trader Joes)
1.5 oz. Baker’s white chocolate bar
2 cups puffed millet (I got mine from iHerb.com–get $10 off your first purchase when you use my code WTD353)
1/2 tsp. peanut flour (optional–but also from iherb.com)
Toppings:
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
Around 1/2 tsp. Pink Himalayan sea salt (or any sea salt)
1/2 fun size pack M&M’s, chopped up
5-8 Teddy Graham’s chopped up
1/2 tablespoon Jet Puff mallowbits

To Make:
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and pour puffed millet on top, forming a flat layer as best you can.

Melt dark chocolate in a double boiler over medium-high heat. *Pot filled with a little bit of water with a smaller pot or heat proof bowl on top with the chocolate. You could also use a microwave and microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in-between

When melted, slowly pour over puffed millet in a zig-zag formation then attempt to spread more evenly by using a spatula or fork and lightly moving the chocolate.

Wait one minute for it to cool just enough, then sprinkle toppings over the chocolate. Press down lightly on toppings with a fork if needed.

Melt white chocolate in a new pan/bowl and using a spatula or fork, drizzle half over the top of the bark by quickly moving your instrument of choice over the top in zig-zags. If using, mix peanut flour into the remainder of the white chocolate, and drizzle using the same method.

Place in the refrigerator and allow to harden for at least 45 minutes. Break apart and eat!

*side note: either save the extra puffed millet or toss it. mine has little pieces of chocolate and sea salt from drizzling and sprinkling so it will be eaten on top of yogurt or with almond milk or something! 🙂

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No-Bake Cookie Dough

I’ve been looking for a no-bake cookie dough without chickpeas for a really long time. I’ve perused Pinterest, blogs and Google to find a recipe without chickpeas (…or any beans), eggs, sugar, flour and butter and essentially came up with nothing. I’ve made cookie dough before using peanut butter and coconut flour so I decided to go with that base and then switch it up a little.

Don’t just my photography skills–this was hard to take pictures of for some reason (probably because 1) my house is dark 2) i wanted to eat it).

 

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No-Bake Cookie Dough 

2 Tablespoons Coconut Flour
1 Tablespoon peanut flour (i got mine from here)
1/2 tsp. butter extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 tsp. flax egg (ground flax and water, mixed and set in the fridge)
1/2 packet stevia
dark chocolate pieces 
3-4 tablespoons almond milk (didn’t really measure, kept adding and mixing until it was a doughy consistency)

Mix everything but almond milk in a small bowl or mug. 

Slowly pour in almond milk while mixing until it becomes the consistency of cookie dough. You may need a little more or less depending on your preferences.

Put in the fridge for 20 or so minutes (or longer) to get cold. 

Enjoy straight off a spoon without fear of getting salmonella! 

Blueberry Pie Ice Cream

Ice cream

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

But really. One of the things I get most excited about since going Paleo is the occasional ice cream.

After making some chia seed pudding the other day, I had leftover coconut milk and decided to play around a little. Ice cream was born!

You Need:

3/4 can of coconut milk (I’m going to assume this is about 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup almond flour
1 teaspoon almond butter
1/2 tsp. honey

To Make:

Put frozen blueberries in a pan over low heat. Cook until the blueberries begin to burst.

Meanwhile, mix coconut milk and vanilla in a freezer safe container. When the blueberries are warm and bubbly, stir into the coconut milk.

Cover the container and put into the freezer for 1 hour. Remove and mix, scraping the icy parts from the sides. Repeat every few hours.

When the ice cream has firmed up a bit, mix the almond flour, honey and almond butter in a separate bowl then sprinkle into the ice cream. Mix and place back into the freezer.

Freeze until the ice cream is your desired consistency then scoop into a bowl. If you aren’t stirring it every few hours, it might need to sit for a few minutes to soften up.

**I did not add any additional sweetener to my ice cream because I think the blueberries are sweet enough. You might experiment with adding either a banana or some honey/coconut sugar/your sweetener of choice into the mixture if you like things a little sweeter or don’t love the taste of coconut**

Choc(olate) Full of Fat (Chocolate That’s Good for You)

Today was my first day of grad school. Three classes down. Bam. So far so good. One of my professors reminds me of my grandfather which is fun. I think we’re going to get along well. He also makes fun of people which is very amusing.

After attending my classes and walking back in between to eat lunch, I realized living in a city is probably the best thing my legs have ever had happen to them. I walk so, so much. Miles a day. By the end of this year, they’re going to be st-ro-ng. 

I’m probably going to need to eat more to compensate? Really though, this is my thinking.

As I sat here munching on my own chocolate today, I got to thinking about fat.

As a person living in the United States, especially as a former overweight person, the number one thing I always read and heard was to watch fat intake to lose weight.

“Too much fat is bad,” said the magazines, TV, websites, books and every other source out there (including nutritionists). 

Well, it turns out that some fats can actually be good and those fats are better than good, they’re great. 

Coconut oil and anything coconut comes somewhere near the top but olive oil and other fats are healthy too. 

I read on a forum today that fats should make up about 60% of the calories you eat a day when following Paleo. I definitely didn’t expect that.

In celebration, I ate all the rest of the chocolate even though I didn’t really mean to.

Make your own chocolate and get some extra healthy fats in every day!

You Need:

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 tablespoons 100% dark cocoa powder

1/8 to 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Optional but highly suggested:

Almond Butter

Coconut butter or manna

To Make:

Melt coconut oil on the stove over low heat. Stir in vanilla and cocoa powder.

When all cocoa is melted into the oil and combined, remove from heat and pour onto a wax lined pan. 

Swirl in coconut butter and almond butter if using.

Put in the freezer to harden. Break up into pieces when frozen and store in a container in the freezer.

Notella

While perusing through some new blogs the other day, I found a recipe on Civilized Caveman that really drew me in. Paleo Nutella.

Confession: There has never been Nutella consumed in my house. My mother has never purchased a jar and I didn’t even have my first taste until 2 years ago when my cousin was like, “whattttt you’ve NEVER had NUTELLA?!”. She was 7 and I was 20 so I had to get on that.

I was craving something creamy and decadent so I knew I had to make this as an everyday, ahem, occasional treat.

I modified the recipe a bit to fit my needs and I am in love with the result.

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Notella: (modified slightly from the original version posted here.)

You’ll Need:

1/2 to 3/4 cup of full fat coconut milk (from a can)

1 cup roasted hazelnuts (simply throw them in an oven for 5-8 minutes to roast)

2 Tbs. unsweetened dark cocoa powder (100% cocoa)

1/2 tsp. honey

1/4 tsp. vanilla

Sprinkle of salt

 

To Make:

In a food processor, blend hazelnuts until they are chopped up and relatively smooth.

Slowly pour in 1/2 cup coconut milk as the mixture continues to blend.

Stop processor and add cocoa, vanilla, salt and honey. 

Process again and add in up to another 1/4 cup of coconut milk. Add milk until it is smooth and creamy.

Remove from processor and eat with a spoon. Or on top of things. Whichever you prefer.

Percentages Not Optional

In the past year and a half, choosing the right foods has been one of the most important aspects of my life. I strive to live a nutritionally balanced lifestyle that allows for a percentage of both normalcy and fun. 

In the past few weeks though, all of my ideas of “the right things” have been jumbled up into a confused mess. 

I’ve abandoned my “normal” eating habits for the last two weeks and have been attempting Paleo. 

I have been surprised to see that in the two weeks since cutting dairy, my face has definitely cleared up a significant amount. Like, enough that I’m continuing beyond my original trial time.

If you’ve ever stepped foot in a Crossfit box, one of the aspects of nutrition they preach is Paleo. They say that to see results, you should use it. That it’s the best way of living a healthy lifestyle. That there should be no other way.

In many ways, I don’t/didn’t understand this philosophy. In fact, when I first started Crossfit last month, I was totally against changing my normal diet and becoming Paleo. I eat clean and that’s all that matters. 

The more I started to do research though, many of the philosophies began to make sense and I decided to try eliminating dairy for the sole purpose of clearing up my skin. While I was already cutting some of my favorite foods, I decided to just try getting rid of all the other things too–all grains, sugar, flour and legumes. 

In order to make a more educated decision about Paleo before I sprung into it fully, I read a book about it. In this book, the author suggests you live your Paleo lifestyle at an 85/15 percentage. Three meals a week can be non-Paleo if you choose, while everything else falls into the limits. 

I found this to be an interesting idea. This author, who wrote an entire book about why you should follow Paleo is suggesting “cheat days”, telling you that eating an ice cream cone is okay or having rice on that sushi roll is fine.

To me, this made perfect sense. This is how I live my life normally: if I want something, I will eat it. Maybe not every day nor will I eat an entire cake if my mind tells me to but I am certainly entitled to have a little something fun.

No matter what “diet” you are choosing to follow, I believe one of the most important aspects is not to feel restricted. Eating is nourishing, yes, but choosing what foods to put in your body should also be a treat and your body rewards you when fed right.

There are times when going out with friends that someone suggests dessert. One of the worst feelings is sitting there rejecting it because you can’t eat it. This exact scenario happened to me the other day, which is why I realized some things needed to be changed.

Food is about trying new things and enjoying each and every bite that is going into your mouth. Allow yourself to have a treat now and then, or even every day if you’re so inclined. Whether you follow a “diet” or not, the most important thing is being healthy and happy–and no one can be happy when turning down dessert every single time.

Have you tried Paleo?

My favorite treat is ice cream. What’s yours?