SalmonBerry

Posts Tagged ‘honey’

Healthy Lunches for Kids

In Nutrition on October 21, 2015 at 4:20 am

“Time’s fun when you’re eating flies.” – Kermit the Frog

healthy lunches

Nobody likes packing school lunches. I used to put way too much pressure on myself to make it balanced even though my kids would rather run around during lunch time than eat (they consistently tell me they “don’t have enough time” to eat lunch). I am fine with this BUT kids do need nourishment to make it through the long school days that, honestly, seem pretty intense compared to what I experienced during my childhood. I wish they had more time for both playing AND dining. I find these two things to be most essential to life and wouldn’t it be nice if our schools could reinforce that? To that end, at my home, I’ve focused more on providing a solid, balanced breakfast than putting all my energy into lunch but that’s another post.

For some guidance in packing a healthy, balanced lunch that a kid might actually eat…see below:

  1. Three main elements to a healthy meal: protein, healthy (plant-based) fats, carbohydrates (mostly from fruit & vegetables). Proteins: tofu squares, hard-boiled eggs, lunch meat (nitrate-free), leftover meatballs, breakfast sausage, grilled chicken, hummus, edamame/other beans. Fats: olives, nuts, seeds, avocado, cheese, hummus. Carbs: whole fruits, raw or roasted veggies, whole wheat pasta spirals, mini whole wheat pitas, whole grain crackers, hummus, edamame/other beans.healthy snack
  2. Aim for fruits and vegetables making up 1/2 the meal.
  3. Evaluate the “healthy-ness” of the lunchbox, by noting the ratio of pre-packaged foods to whole foods that you have packaged yourself. Skip almost any food labeled “kids” or specially packaged for kids as they are usually loaded with sugar (think yogurt squeezers and fruit chews) and/or heavily manipulated to not resemble the whole food’s origin.
  4. Dip It! Besides ranch, try smashed avocado alone or mixed into mild salsa, nut butters with a drizzle of honey or mixed with fruit-sweetened jam, or hummus (do some taste-testing to find a hummus your kids will love!). Hummus covers all 3 healthy lunch elements so it’s worth finding a favorite brand.
  5. Easy on the candy bars masquerading as granola/energy bars. Good choices are salmonberry barLarabars, Kind Bars (without chocolate), and GoMacro Bars. These bars are both heavy on the nuts which provides plenty of protein and satisfying fats as well as fiber which is important for regulating blood sugar and energy. Kind and GoMacro have added sweeteners but sugar grams are reasonable and are balanced by the high fiber content.
  6. Facilitate the eating of less popular fruits & veggies by combining them with favorites that you know they will eat. Examples: pineapple & blackberries, carrots & apple slices, cucumber & orange slices, bell peppers & sliced grapes. The flavors mingle making veggies more palatable. Obviously, this strategy won’t work on the “separatist” children!
  7. WATER, WATER, WATER. A hydrated child is focused and calm within a healthy and cooperative body. There are no good reasons to give your child a juice box or even milk. If you must pack milk, give them whole, plain milk. Flavored, as well as low fat or 2%, milk, is piling on the carbs. Whole milk is more satiating and allows for a balanced metabolic response.
  8. Resist packing your child a dessert (at least not daily). Yes, sweet is one of the five flavors that, if included within a meal, will lead to palate satisfaction; however, this flavor can be addressed using fruit as opposed to a cookie. The habit of needing something sweet after every meal contributes to a life-long sweet addiction, potential future weight issues, or other health concerns such as an imbalance in the gut microbiome affecting mood, hormones, and nutrient uptake.

For accessible, evidence-based nutrition guidance that is current, check out The Nutrition Source by Harvard School of Public Health. Great resource website and they have a better version of the Healthy Plate (a graphic your kids may be familiar with…).

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Moroccan Carrot & Garbanzo Bean Salad

In Nutrition, Recipe on May 7, 2015 at 10:03 pm

“Life is a long preparation for something that never happens.” ~William Butler Yeats

peeled carrots

Carrots ready for the mandolin

Scientific inquiry has finally figured out why we consume sugar in response to stress. Apparently sugar reduces levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. For the general public, this big reveal was kind of a “so what?” or “duh!” moment. Any super stressed-out human being has known that they feel soothed after eating sugar. However, scientists and nutritionists are excited because perhaps understanding metabolic pathways sensitive to sugar will lead to answers for treating stress-related conditions.

moroccan salad

Carrots, mint, dried fruit.

It seems the human condition is forever chasing the solution to reducing stress levels because, well, stress will kill you (recommended reading: Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers). And, unfortunately, so will our most easily abused response to stress, sugar. When you are listening to Pink Floyd on a gloomy May Gray day (as I will admit to now), the inclination is to reach for something comforting. I recommend backing away from the dessert items (even if it is Chia Pudding) and embracing soothing sugars in the form of complex carbohydrates and fiber such as a salad of beans, root veggies, and dried fruit.

Yes, I am being serious. This approach is just as effective without the dreaded sugar hangover along with guilt. Luckily, this comfort food salad gets better with time so make a batch, store in the fridge and break it out for emergencies. All the sweet carbs – garbanzo beans, dried apricots & plums, and carrots – break down getting all mushy and marinated in the cumin, oil, lemon juice, and honey – yum!

Serve tossed with arugula and chopped almonds as a salad or layer it on a romaine leaf (a ala Salmonberry Spread) with avocado and more cayenne. Drink hot mint tea while consuming. Perfection. Here it is…

Dressing: 1 TBSP cumin seeds

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 TBSP fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

cumin and oil

Toasted and ground cumin seeds with olive oil.

Salad: 2 cups carrots, sliced whisper thin on a mandolin (shredded works too)

2 cups cooked garbanzo beans (or one 15- ounce can, drained and rinsed)

1/3 cup dried plums, chopped

1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped

1/3 cup fresh mint, torn or chopped

To make the dressing, first toast the cumin seeds in a dry skillet until fragrant and lightly browned, a minute or two. Let cool, and grind to a powder with a mortar and pestle. Yes, this is more work but totally worth it.

In a bowl or jar, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, honey, ground cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the carrots, garbanzo beans, dried fruit, mint. Gently toss with dressing until everything is evenly coated and refrigerate. Store for up to 3 days in the fridge.

moroccan carrot salad

Serve on a romaine leaf topped with avocado and cayenne.

Bold Dressings for Bitter Greens

In Nutrition on November 23, 2014 at 4:12 am
salt farm

Wasabi Sesame, Black Truffle, Uni and many more spiked salts from Salt Farm at Little Italy’s Farmer’s Market

I spent this beautiful Saturday with a dear friend strolling through the farmer’s market in Little Italy buying holiday gifts and catching up on our complicated lives. We bought vials of gourmet salts from Salt Farm and sugar scrubs and muscle rubs from Holistic Science. When we’d had enough of the crowds and sunshine, we stopped for a lunch of caesar salad and mussels at Ironside Fish & Oyster Bar.

kale salad ironside

Kale Caesar at Ironside Fish & Oyster Bar in Little Italy

This place never disappoints and their yummy, fishy, kale caesar salad was so perfect it challenged me to step outside the predictable avo/sea salt/lemon dressing that I consistently massage into dinosaur kale. Sure, it’s delicious but it’s not very inspired. Plus avocados are kinda dicey right now since they aren’t in season.

It seems to me that hearty, bitter greens like kale require equally bold dressings to balance all that dense healthiness.

Both of these dressing have a nice kick to challenge that strong kale flavor.

Lemony-Caper Dressing (more work but worth it)

2 lemons – supremed

3 TBSP shallots, coarsely chopped

2 TBSP Dijon mustard

1-2 TBSP capers, drained

1 tsp superfine sugar (regular sugar works fine too)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

lemony-caper dressing

Lemony-Caper Dressing

Segment the lemons using this technique (watch the short video!).

Use a hand blender to thoroughly blend all ingredients EXCEPT THE LEMONS. Massage the pureed dressing into the kale and then, after marinating for up to hour (or less), toss lemon segments with kale.

This is definitely not for the faint of heart.

It’s strong. And salty. And lemony.

Try it with a scoop of warm brown rice or grilled fish to temper the flavors.

If the idea of supreme-ing a lemon is just too much work (Yuwei – I’m talking to you), try this one:

Carrot-Ginger Dressing

This one is bold for different reasons – mainly the ginger and cayenne.

Use a hand blender or food processor to puree the following:

kale bouquet

Dinosaur kale bouquet in grated rainbow carrot water.

1/2 cup carrots, peeled & grated

3 TBSP sesame oil

2 TBSP peeled ginger, chopped

2 TBSP fresh lemon juice

1 – 4 garlic cloves

1 TBSP tamari

2 tsp honey

 1/4 – 1/2 tsp cayenne (optional)

Both dressings will be infinitely tastier if you MASSAGE (yes, with your bare hands) the dressings into the kale. As my sister says, massaging makes the kale taste like it is loved.

In addition to tossing with a grain or protein, consider adding something sweet to balance the bitter-sour-spicy. Peaches or strawberries (in summer) or dried currants or cranberries (in winter) work beautifully. Creamy goat cheese or crunchy sunflower seeds will also round out these bold salads nicely.

Check out the little guy who got caught in the steam pot with our mussels! He was probably just as surprised as we were to see that he met this fate.

crab in mussel

Teeny tiny crab hanging onto the mussel!

Almond Joy Cookies

In Nutrition, Recipe on October 20, 2013 at 11:50 pm
coconut and chocolate

Coconut and Chocolate

My ideas about dessert and sweets are changing…

As a child, Halloween was one of my favorite holidays. It’s not just the dressing up in costumes. It was the idea of going house-to-house, asking for candy, and actually being able to eat it! My childhood home was completely devoid of sugar – and I mean completely. Did you know there are 2 grams of sugar per serving of Rice Krispies? Therefore, only Cheerios were allowed. You know, only 1 gram of sugar per serving, so it was only half as bad for you.

I grew up putting taco sauce on hot dogs because ketchup has sugar in it. Yes, ketchup was banned but hot dogs were OK. I think we all have places in our lives where our decision-making is a bit contradictory. I have a close friend who is very diligent about consuming organic food and yet drinks Diet Coke all day long…hmmmmm…

I have a rule in my home that all desserts need to be homemade. The idea being that you must really want that cupcake if you’re going to take the trouble to bake it and ice it, thus leading to less sweets consumption.

cookies

Combine these two to make an almond joy cookie!

Until recently I subscribed to the idea that if you are going to indulge, you ought to do it right. Eat the butter. Eat the eggs. Eat the gluten. Eat the white sugar. Just don’t indulge so often. Lately, that doesn’t seem to be working for me. Now, when I indulge in a “real” cookie or cupcake, I feel like I’ve got a hangover. My system has become so finely-tuned towards simple preparations of plant-based foods that even the occasional rich dessert cannot be tolerated without consequence. So I am officially on the vegan-gluten-free-honey-sweetened-dessert bandwagon these days.

Back to candy eating at Halloween. As a kid, gathering all that forbidden treasure was a major high. My parents would let my siblings and I indulge in the candy for a day, maybe two, and then we turned the contraband over to them (I later learned they stashed anything chocolate in the freezer). I tell this to friends and they assume I have awful memories of that holiday. But I remember it as a non-issue. Two days of gorging on sweets was plenty. Of course, I made sure I consumed as many Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Snickers as I could before my 2 day limit was reached. I also remember wishing I could combine Mounds Bar and Almond Joy into one because I love dark chocolate and almonds.

I am positively giddy about a cookie that combines chocolate and almonds. And is gluten-free. And is vegan. And is not overly sweet. And is more simple to prepare than “real” cookies.

Start with the simple base batter using a food processor fitted with the dough blade.  I’m sure you could also blend with a wooden spoon and muscle.

cookie collage

Vegan, gluten-free, chocolate chip cookies

Ingredients:

2 cups almond flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup honey

1 TBSP vanilla

Other ingredients: finely shredded, unsweetened coconut and block of high quality dark chocolate

Directions: Combine dry ingredients (mix and blend well) then add wet ingredients (mix and blend well). The mixture is sticky and the almond flour a bit gritty but never fear – they will be delicious! Heat oven to 350 degrees. Baking time is 6-8 minutes and cookies will stay somewhat gooey so judge done-ness by bottom browning. Also, since you will be rolling them into balls to bake, after about 3-4 minutes use the back of a large spoon to gently flatten them and then finish baking.

homemade cocoroons

Homemade Cocoroons

If you prefer a coconut-y cookie reminiscent of Cocoroons or Rickaroons (for the local San Diego folks) then form the batter into balls and roll in coconut (consider adding 1/4 to 1/2 cup coconut to batter but not too much as it gets dry).

Or add coarsely-chopped dark chocolate to make (somewhat) traditional chocolate chip cookies.

Or do BOTH and enjoy a chewy, gooey concoction that tastes awfully close to an Almond Joy candy bar but is WAY BETTER for you! Add chopped chocolate to the batter. Form into balls. Roll in coconut flakes. Bake. AMAZING.

Just because these are vegan and gluten-free doesn’t mean it’s open season for consumption. Cookies are still a treat and are highly caloric so take it easy, people.

Watermelon-Jalapeño Gazpacho

In Nutrition, Recipe on September 6, 2013 at 12:12 am

watermelon gazpacho ingredientsThis sweet & spicy soup is nicely layered and nuanced with ingredients such as honey & ginger and mint & cucumber. I like savory, tomato-based, gazpachos but they also tend to be a bit acidic and dense. Using a lightly-sweet fruit as the main ingredient is so refreshing and hydrating during a heat wave. At my son’s request we planted mini, sugar watermelons in our garden along side the cucumbers. I fantasized about indulging in watermelon/cucumber recipes and juices all summer long. But, alas, we had very little sun this summer. The watermelon vine went rogue choking out the cucumber and producing very little fruit (we are still waiting for them to ripen). It’s finally hot and sunny so the weather is perfect for a sweet & spicy cold soup. Sadly, NONE of the ingredients came from my garden, but it’s delicious regardless.

I prefer to do as little chopping as possible, especially on a hot day, so I recommend using a food processor first and then transferring to a blender when you add the last ingredient, the watermelon. Or use a high-speed blender, like a Vitamix, for everything.

watermelon gazapachoTo begin: Throw all ingredients EXCEPT WATERMELON into food processor or high speed blender and puree until everything is itty-bitty shreds. Next: Add watermelon (if not using a Vitamix, this is the time to switch from processor to blender or your soup will be all over the counter – I’ve done this many times!) and pulse a few times. I like the watermelon to be slightly chunkier than the other ingredients for a nice texture contrast.

Taste it to see if it needs an adjustment but I don’t recommend adding more ginger and jalapeño. This soup gets yummier and spicier over time! Chill for at least an hour to allow the flavors to marry.

Ingredients (4-6 servings):

8 cups watermelon, or about 1/2 of a mini watermelon

1 cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped into big chunks

1 red bell peppers, big chunks

1 small onion, quartered

1/2 -1 small jalapeño pepper, w/ or w/out seeds depending on your ability to take the heat!

1/4 cup lemon, juiced

1 TBSP olive oil

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves

1 piece of fresh ginger, about thumb-sized

1-2 TBSP  honey

Happy Gut, Happy You

In Mindfulness, Nutrition on July 11, 2013 at 12:27 am
gooey chocolate cookie

Gooey, chocolatey, sugar bomb.

Gloomy weather, stressful relationships, lack of sleep, can all affect our sense of well-being and kick sugar cravings into high gear. Mindlessly giving in on just a few occasions only intensifies our cravings and the vicious cycle begins. Why do we turn to sugar when we are feeling anxious and stressed? Perhaps conditioning – for some, sweets are associated with reward or comfort. Or perhaps it’s physiology – adequate amounts of carbohydrates allow for increased seratonin production, aka the “feel-good hormone”.

What does this have to do with your gut? Well, it turns out the GI tract produces 95% of our body’s seratonin! Taking care of our gut allows GI cells to produce all the seratonin we need. In turn, we will be less likely to turn to sugar when we’re sad, lonely, anxious, and stressed.chocolate bars

In a another post, I discussed beneficial foods for our gut – fiber and fermented foods. The question begs: “Are there foods that are harmful to gut health?” Yup, and I’m sure you’ve guessed it…Sugar! Sugar provides fuel for certain gut bacteria to proliferate far beyond what is healthy leading to a bacterial imbalance. So, even if we consume adequate fiber, we won’t have enough beneficial bacteria to fuel our GI cells. They’ve been outcompeted by other, less-helpful bacteria due to sugar-induced overgrowth.

What are the consequences of GI cells not getting the fuel they need? At the very least, you will have gas and bloating or, worse, suffer from anxiety and depression.

packaged veggies

Pre-washed and chopped veggies. High in fiber. The fuel our GI cells need.

Our gut is often referred to as the “second brain” because it has its own complex nervous system and is highly influenced by our thoughts and psychological stress. Most of us know this on an intuitive (and experiential) level and certainly Traditional Chinese Medicine and other healing traditions have recognized this for generations. Finally, western medicine has acknowledged the huge role our gut plays in our immune, endocrine, and nervous systems. Recent research has shown that tweaking the balance between beneficial and disease-causing bacteria in an animal’s gut alters brain chemistry leading it to become more bold or more anxious. Alternately, even mild stress can tip the microbial balance in the gut, making us more vulnerable to infectious disease.

What is sugar? It is a carbohydrate of which there are 2 general categories: indigestible (fiber) and digestible (everything else). Your body does not absorb fiber but your colon uses it for many healthy functions (as discussed here). Digestible carbs are those used by your body for energy – or, if you are taking in more energy than you are expending, they are stored (in your fat cells).

To balance your mood, regulate your blood sugar, and keep your gut bacteria in balance, remember these 3 things when consuming carbs/sugars:

dates

Deglet dates. Often used to sweeten desserts but loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Limit added sugars. Most added sugars are refined carbohydrates meaning it has been stripped of other nutrients and comes in a potent package that is a shock to our bodies. Added sugars include the “natural” sugars, too. Remember, “its not the vehicle, its the payload.” Use sweeteners sparingly – even honey and dates.

Eat carbohydrates higher up on the “whole foods” chain.

What does this look like?

Brown rice -> brown rice pasta/bread -> energy bar w/ brown rice syrup

Apples -> applesauce  -> apple juice

Steel cut oats -> rolled oats -> quick oats -> instant oatmeal packet

peppers, goat cheese, bread

Red peppers with goat cheese and honey on toast. Balanced protein, fat, and carbs.

Combine carbs with fat and protein at each meal. Toss sunflower seeds and unsweetened coconut on that fruit salad. Mash avocado on whole-grain toast. Add flax oil and walnuts to your banana-berry oatmeal.

Curb your sugar cravings: easy on the salt and animal products, eat sweet vegetables (tubers and roots), choose sprouted products, eat more sour or spicy flavors, and, finally, fully chew all carbs b/c those grains, legumes, and veggies will become sweeter the longer you chew.

Red Velvet Soup

In Nutrition, Recipe, Yoga on May 16, 2013 at 10:03 pm
IMG_3407

Beet root, red lentils, tri-color quinoa.

I honestly cannot find the original source for this recipe which is a shame because I did not modify it at all (except for the name!). It is simple and brilliant just as it is. I’ve made it for two SoupAsana groups and was met with rave reviews. Both times, during the prep and cook process, I was skeptical due to the color and consistency but once I started simmering the spices in coconut oil, I knew everything was going to turn out just fine 🙂 Beautifully-colored and deliciously-edible, this soup is high in fiber, antioxidants, folate, and iron. Even more delicious served with corn muffins.

Ingredients:

boiled-over pot

A watched pot never boils but an un-watched pot boils over!

1 cup dried red lentils
½ cup quinoa
1 medium beet root, grated
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
¼ cup diced red onion
1 bay leaf
4 cups water
2 TBSP coconut oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
4 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp turmeric powder

Garnish w lime wedges, rock salt, honey Greek yogurt or feta

beet lentil stew

Stew topped with feta and lime

Place lentils, quinoa, grated beet, ginger, onion, bay leaf and water in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Heat coconut oil in a small pan. Add cumin seeds, coriander, and turmeric and lightly saute for 1-3 minutes on medium heat (making sure they don’t burn). Add to stew…do a little taste taste…perhaps add fresh ground pepper and/or tamari.

Salmonberry Bars

In Nutrition, Recipe on May 16, 2013 at 6:40 am

salmonberry barI never liked PowerBars. I didn’t like the taffy-like texture or artificial flavor. Trail mix wasn’t hip enough and was way too ubiquitous during my childhood in the 70s. So I was really excited when the ClifBar was invented. In the 90s, I did a lot of backpacking and ate a lot of ClifBars. Then I realized, maybe I should be eating LunaBars, they’re for women, right? Those quickly became sickeningly sweet and aren’t even remotely healthy so I gave up on bars altogether until…the Larabar. Just dates, nuts, dried fruit, and maybe some spices. Simple and healthy and my kids loved them too. Recently, I discovered that Larabar was bought by General Mills who is against GMO labeling and just generally has some crappy products they try to sell as “food” (2 thumbs up for Cheerios, though!).

I prefer to buy from local companies with whom I agree on issues that are important to me (you may not care about GMOs or the consolidation of food production/manufacturing). Anyway, I’ve found two locally-made bars that get the ‘healthy’ nod when my kids ask to eat them: Perfect Foods Bar and Earnest Eats. in processorNow I’ve attempted to make my own bar based on my taste preferences and maniacal need to make everything healthier. Introducing the Salmonberry Bar!

Things got a bit sketchy and I was skeptical about my ability to pull these off. But I totally surprised myself with this one. Not too sweet and with some subtle, sophisticated flavors…watch out KindBars, I’m taking over the local Starbucks – ha!

Process until smooth:

1/2 cup pitted dates

1 and 1/2 cups unsweetened, sunflower seed butter, almond butter, or peanut butter

1/2 cup honey

Add: ~3/4 cups hot water, to thin mixture

bar ingredientsAdd in the following:

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cocoa powder

1 tsp finely ground espresso

1 tsp allspice

2 TBSP chia seeds

2 TBSP finely shredded, unsweetened coconut

Add and process lightly:

1/2 cup almonds

1/2 cup cashews

Remove mixture from processor and into mixing bowl with:

2 cups rolled oats or buckwheat groats

Mix well with wooden spoon and spread mixture on greased, baking sheet. Press down with greased spatula so mixture is about 1/4-inch high.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

After baking, sprinkle with sesame seeds and press them into mixture with the back of a greased spatula. Let cool completely and cut into 1-inch-squares. Makes ~30 bars.

1 bar = 167 kcals, 4g protein, 9g fat, 2g fiber, 13g total carbs, 8g sugars

I would’ve have preferred this bar to be higher in fiber but I feel good about the sugars (from honey & dates). The texture is perfect and it is only mildly sweet and very filling. However, the clean-up was a pain (goopy dates and nut butter stuck to my processor blade!). I honestly don’t know if it was worth the effort in the kitchen because I spotted these in the bulk bins at Whole Foods for only $7.99/pound: Carob Energee Nuggets. They are almost exactly the same nutritionally and look eerily similar to my bars…has someone been spying on the Salmonberry kitchen??

carob energeen nuggets nutrition

Same calories, fat, carbs, protein, & fiber.

carob energee bars

Looks – and tastes – delicious!

Salmonberry Spread

In Nutrition, Recipe on April 16, 2013 at 6:06 pm
Salmonberry spread on romaine leaves topped with avocado, lemon, and cayenne.

Salmonberry spread on romaine leaves topped with avocado, lemon, and cayenne.

This one is a crowd pleaser. Be you raw, vegan, omnivorous, or on a “cleanse”, you really will love this fresh and tangy alternative to tuna salad. This nut-based recipe adds in some herbs and veggies with a bit of sweet and sour flavors.

Soaked almonds and sunflower seeds, red pepper, parsley, lemon.

Soaked almonds and sunflower seeds, red pepper, parsley, lemon.

Using raw nuts and seeds maintains the integrity and; therefore, healthfulness, of the essential fatty acids found within. Fatty acids are the building blocks of cell membranes, the gatekeepers of our cells, which regulate the flow of nutrients, water, electrolytes, and enzymes. Healthy, functional cell membranes are critical to the life of the cell and; therefore, critical to the life of our tissues, our organs, and, finally, our body. Nuts and seeds are also high in fiber, protein, and minerals such as phosphorous (bone health)  and copper and manganese (enzyme function).

Ingredients:

1 cup raw almonds (soaked in water for 24 hrs)

1 cup raw sunflower seeds (soaked in water for 5 hrs)

honey lemon garlic

Honey, lemon, garlic.

1 lemon – juiced

1 T honey

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1/4 cup parsley

1/2 red bell pepper

1 small jalapeño

4 green onions (white parts too)

1/4 t pepper

1/4-1/2 t dulse

1/2 t dried or 2 T fresh dill

Serving (1/2 cup) = 400 calories, 34g of fat, 8g of fiber, 6g of sugar, and 13g of protein

mock tuna ingredients

All ingredients into processor.

Toss all ingredients into food processor and process until desired consistency.

Serve on romaine leaves with avocado, lemon, and cayenne as a light, hot weather meal. Also wonderful as an appetizer topping a cucumber or apple slice. Experiment with turning it into a paste (highly processed) and spreading inside a pita stuffed with veggies or keeping it chunky (less processed) and tossing on a bed of greens.

Chocolate Avocado Mousse

In Nutrition, Recipe on April 12, 2013 at 4:21 pm
avocado and chocolate

Avocados and chocolate. Together at last.

Last night I was chatting on Facebook with friends from my childhood in Alaska while I was trolling the web for what to do with avocados that doesn’t include guacamole or smoothies. It’s Hass avocado season (Apr to Sept) here in San Diego County, the largest grower of avocados in the U.S., and I’ve got friends leaving bags of rich, ripe avocados on my doorstep. In an effort to use them before they go south, I discovered chocolate mousse with avocado – genius. I quickly whipped it up (5 ingredients, 10 mins) and a love affair between Chocolate Avocado Mousse and Salmonberry began. Move over Chia Pudding, there’s a new dessert in town! The reaction from my childhood friends was less than enthusiastic which is hilarious because these are the same kids who grew up eating various parts of marine mammals and caribou.

mousse ingredients

Ingredients: avocado, cocoa, coconut cream, honey, vanilla.

Since I’m a healthy eater who rarely eats dessert (not much of a sweet tooth), my motto used to be “If I’m going to have dessert, I’m going to go big!”. On those rare occasions, I thought, why modify dessert – eat real butter, eat real sugar. But I’ve discovered that as I eat less and less animal foods and refined sugars, my taste buds just can’t handle traditional desserts. I’m now highly sensitive to such strong inputs and quickly become overwhelmed. As my son stated recently, when we made a key lime pie for St. Patty’s Day (complete with sweetened condensed milk!), “Whoa, this is so intense!” I’ve now begun to delve in and embrace healthier dessert options. Not so I can eat more volume or more often but so I can actually swallow more than one bite without succumbing to the ‘food hangover’ that’s very often a result of too much sugar and animal fat.

For this recipe I used local Hass avocados. I don’t recommend using out-of-season avocados and, depending on where you live, you may only have access to Hass but do you really want a jet-lagged avocado all the way from Chile in your delicious dessert? Check out this blog post from Avocado Diva for which avocados to eat year-round.

knife in cream

This coconut cream is not for wusses.

I also used Trader Joe’s Coconut Cream, Extra Thick and Rich, because, well, look at the picture, and Valrhona cocoa because its darker and richer than other baking cocoas.

Here’s the recipe from MySanFranciscoKitchen.com:

1 ripe avocado

1/4 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)

1/4 cup coconut cream

3 TBSP honey

1 tsp vanilla

Place all ingredients in mixing bowl and blend with hand mixer until smooth and creamy – no lumps. Top with nuts, coconut flakes, fruit, nothing…

1/2 cup serving (4oz) = 273 kcals, 17g fat, 26g sugar, 5 g fiber, 2g protein.

Let’s not be fooled. This is still a dessert that’s high in fat, albeit a healthier fatty acid profile than animal fat, and sugar, so, please, slowly savor and revel in the deliciousness but don’t overindulge.

Choco Avo Mousse

Chocolate Avocado Mousse