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Posts Tagged ‘healthy desserts’

Here in northern California, we’ve been experiencing the full wrath of Mother Nature, who is clearly fed up with the overall lack of respect and abuse humankind has given her. In addition to devastating fires and intense heat, we’ve had seriously bad air quality since mid-August. Well, we did have a few days reprieve last week, where we all went outside, rubbing our eyes unaccustomed to bright sunlight, looking like people emerging from underground bunkers after a blitzkrieg.

Unfortunately, the reprieve was short-lived, another fire sprang up, and we find ourselves advised to stay indoors once more. It’s also very warm, again, so I’ve been hesitant to use the oven. It’s not like I can just open the windows to cool down the house at night—due to the bad air quality, and since hot temperatures are historically unusual for my area, almost no one has AC in their homes.

I try to cook dinner in a skillet whenever possible, and we’ve been consuming a lot more salads. Good news is, I have several new favorite salad recipes to share! However, those salad recipes will need to wait because right now, I want to share a delicious recipe for peanut butter and chocolate rice crispy treats! My kids–like so many others, love traditional rice crispy treats, but I can’t stomach all the sugar found in regular recipes nor do I like the fact that there is nothing remotely beneficial in them.

I’ve been tinkering around with making a peanut butter chocolate version, but was struggling to get the flavor profile right along with the right “glue” to hold the rice cereal together. One version used honey, which overpowers in flavor. One version had the chocolate blended in with the peanut butter, which helped to hold the rice cereal together, but I prefer it when the chocolate gets to hold its own, so if you’re a peanut butter and chocolate lover like me, you get two distinct flavors. I also wanted a recipe where you make your own chocolate layer from scratch instead of just melting down a bunch of chocolate chips. For one, you can better regulate how much sugar is in the chocolate.

These bars are super easy to make, super yummy, and they don’t require you to turn on your oven!

Ingredients

3/4 cup creamy organic peanut butter

1/4 cup coconut nectar

1/4 cup plus 3 Tbsp pure maple syrup, divided

2 tsp pure vanilla extract, divided

1/4 tsp sea salt, divided

4 cups organic brown rice crisp cereal

1/2 cup raw cocoa

1/3 cup full-fat coconut milk

1/4 cup coconut oil

Preparation

Line a 9-inch x 11-inch baking pan with parchment paper, folding the paper in the corners and making sure the paper comes up the sides.

In a large bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, coconut nectar, maple syrup, 1 tsp of the vanilla, and 1/8 tsp sea salt. Fold in the cereal and stir until thoroughly combined. Scoop the mixture into the pan and press it down firmly and evenly. If you don’t press enough, the the bottom of the bars may crumble when you’re eating them. Place the pan in the fridge.

In a small saucepan, over low heat, whisk the raw cocoa powder, coconut milk, and coconut oil until everything is smooth and glassy. Add a little more coconut milk if the mixture looks too thick to spread over the cereal mixture. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla extract and 1/8 tsp salt.

Spoon the chocolate over the cereal mixture and spread evenly with a rubber/silicone spatula. Return to the fridge until the chocolate is hardened. Cut into squares–I usually cut mine into 9-12 squares. You can store these cookies for 4-5 days in an airtight container in the fridge.

Enjoy!

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chia abovechia side

 

I know some of you who know me personally are thinking I’m posting this tongue in cheek. I admit, I balked at the very idea of chia seed pudding for years. It sounded far too “crunchy” to me, as in too healthy, like some low-sugar, vegan dessert that either tastes like nothing and/or gets caught in your throat in much the same way a handful of straw would.

But chia seeds offer a lot… They’re rich in Omega-3 fatty acids–are even a better source than flax seeds, and unlike flaxseeds, chia seeds can be digested by your stomach while they’re still in the seed form. They’re also a good source of calcium, phosphorus and manganese as well as dietary fiber. And because the seeds form a gel-like substance when soaked in liquid, they’re thought to slow down the process by which the digestive enzymes in your stomach break down and convert the carbohydrates into sugar, which is why some people consider chia seeds beneficial for weight loss.

Given how nutritious chia seeds are, and because Costco now sells a big bag at a great price, I started throwing a heaping spoonful in my morning smoothies. I noticed right away how they made my smoothies richer and creamier, so I finally thought, why not give the pudding a try?

To make a long story short, I’m officially addicted to chia pudding now! I actually have to pace myself to prevent eating a big bowl of it every time I open the refrigerator. It’s lightly sweet, incredibly creamy and offers a wonderful mouthful of tiny but powerful little crunches with every bite–not unlike tobiko, the tiny fish eggs that often adorn rolls of sushi. I’ve always appreciated the tiny but satisfying crunch of each little fish egg. In fact, I joke that tobiko is the gift that keeps on giving, because even hours after eating sushi, you can be suddenly, but pleasantly surprised by a tiny and unexpected little crunch in your mouth. But I digress…

Chia pudding is a cinch to make and provides a perfect, light, but rich-tasting treat to enjoy any time. I’ve been eating it for breakfast with fresh raspberries and a spoonful or two of pomegranate seeds (for extra crunch, of course!).

 

Ingredients

1/2 cup black chia seeds

1/2 cup coconut water

1 1/2 cups full-fat coconut milk

1-2 tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Pinch of sea salt

 

chia mix

Preparation

Stir all the ingredients together in a glass bowl until thoroughly blended. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours but preferably 4-8 hours.

Serve in small bowls layered with fresh fruit. Serves 4-6 depending on how much fruit you’re using. Keeps for several days in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

 

Enjoy! 

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