Chocolatey Banana Chia Pudding

Photo 4-10-2014, 8 40 35 AM

Woke up with a bit of a sweet tooth this morning and was craving something rich and delicious. Chocolate has always been a weakness of mine. Since giving up refined sugars my sweet tooth has noticeably diminished. I never thought it would be possible to eat a meal without having something sweet after (I know I’m not alone here). But trust me, anyone who knows me would tell you that I would never say no to a piece of dark chocolate with sea salt. Chocolate can actually be very healthy for you. No, not your Kit Kat or Coffee Crisp (so sorry) but raw unprocessed cacao is loaded with properties that contribute to wellness. Let me reiterate,cacAO NOT cocOA. Sounds the same, but nutritionally are far different. Heres the breakdown:

Cacao

Cacao refers to the raw form of chocolate, including the tree and bean. Raw cacao powder is not roasted, mostly unprocessed, and has no sugar or cocoa butter. Seeds of the cacao tree are roasted and then the shell is removed which produce cacao nibs (quite bitter in flavour but provide a nice crunch if used appropriately). Cacao is a great source of antioxidants which contribute to fighting off cancer and wrinkles (woooot). Chocolate and cocoa also contain a high level of flavonoids, which may have beneficial cardiovascular effects on health.

Cocoa

Once the cacao bean is roasted and essentially transformed (rid of its nutritional value) then does it become the ever so popular cocoa. After it has been roasted it continues its processing as it is ground, and usually mixed with cocoa butter and a sweetner. This same kind of cocoa you find in your Oh Henry bar, or in the cup of cocoa you get at the ski hill. Delicious, yes… nutritional not exactly. The downfall of cocoa is that within the processing (roasting, grinding, mixing) most of the nutritional benefits are eliminated. It definitely won’t kill you to have a little cocoa, but if raw cacao is available to us, why wouldn’t we use it?

This recipe for chocolatey banana chia pudding is soooooo good, and is Clean Eating Goddess approved for breakfast, yes… BREAKFAST! With the addition of all natural organic peanut butter, your kids will believe they are having a bowl of melted reeses pieces for breakfast (best mom/dad ever!). If your child has a peanut allergy, feel free to use a nut/seed butter of your choice. Best part is, its ready in a flash and can be made the night before to grab and go in the morning. Full of nutrients and fibre, this chocolatey banana pudding is the perfect dessert or breakfast. Did I also mention it is gluten, dairy and sugar free.. oh and vegan! Bon appetit readers!

Ingredients:

• 3-4 tbsp chia seeds
• 1 tsp cacao powder
• 3-4 drops stevia or 1 tsp maple syrup
• 1 cup unsweetened chocolate almond milk
• 1 mashed banana
• 1 tbsp peanut butter or nut/seed butter of choice
• 1 tsp hemp seeds
• berries and chopped banana

Directions:

1. Place chia seeds in a bowl or jar with almond milk, stevia and cacao powder. Mix very well and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. The longer it rests in the fridge the more thick and pudding-like it will be.

2. Remove from the fridge and add fruit, peanut butter and sprinkle with hemp seeds.

Blood Orange and Avocado Salad

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This salad is a beautiful appetizer for a spring dinner or as a light lunch. The sweet citrusy flavour from the blood orange combines so nicely with the creamy avocado and crunchy sunflower seeds. These beautiful olives have the perfect amount of saltiness to counter the sweet dressing made of the orange juice and raw honey and the peppery arugula. These bright green olives are a lot less salty than the ones from the grocery store and they truly are my absolute favourite. Once you get started on a container of those bad boys, its really hard to stop. You can usually find them at your local market or at speciality stores. This salad was so easy to put together, and looks beautiful on the plate. If your not watching your dairy intake, pecorino cheese would taste amazing with this!

Heres a little nutrition info: blood oranges are “bloody” from a pigment called anthocyanin. Anthocyanin is reported to have many health benefits as it is a powerful antioxidant (helping slow or prevent cancer cells). Blood oranges also contain high amounts of Vitamin C, potassium, Vitamin A, iron, calcium, and even fiber.

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Serves 4

Salad Ingredients:

• 2-3 blood oranges (sliced and peeled)
• 1 bunch arugula
• 1 avocado (chopped)
• 6-7 olives
• 3 tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds
• Sea salt and pepper (to taste)
• dairy option:pecorino cheese

Dressing Ingredients:

• 1 tsp honey
• juice of half an orange
• juice of half a lemon
• 1 tsp finely chopped shallots
• 1/2 tsp garlic finely chopped
• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

1. Place all prepared salad ingredients in a large bowl. (If your pumpkin seeds are raw, roast in the oven on 350 for 10 minutes).

2. For the dressing, combine all ingredients besides for olive oil. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss and serve.

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Raw Brussels Sprout Salad

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This salad is a delicious and crunchy blend that is truly satisfying. With spring a week away (although it is still very much winter here in Canada), I am getting ready to move away from the comforting chili’s to refreshing salads. Brussels sprouts have really gotten a bad reputation. From experience, the only problem Ive noticed time and time again is the wrong cooking technique. Over cooking (especially steaming) gives a mushy texture along with an off smell. To avoid this mishap all together I suggest eating them raw! Raw brussels sprouts have become increasingly popular as a salad addition. They add crunch, flavour and lots of health benefits. Although I had this meal for dinner, I doubled up on the ingredients to make a salad for lunch the following day. Working full time makes healthy eating a secondary priority but making dinners that can turn into tomorrows lunch is a great way to stay on track (more tips on this later…). Salads for lunch with a protein source is key to keeping energized and avoiding a post lunch crash. This salad is quick to prepare and can be a great base for more added ingredients. I added chick peas and a hard boiled egg for extra protein but grilled chicken, salmon, tuna, or even steak are great options. If using beans from a can please rinse very well!

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Serves 1 or 2

Ingredients:

• 20 brussels sprouts
• 1/2 cup broccoli
• 5 sweet peppers
• romaine leaves
• 1/2 cup chick peas
• 5 cherry tomatoes
• 1/4 cup roasted almonds
• 1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
• 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
• 1 teaspoon maple syup
• 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
• 1 or 2 hard boiled eggs (or protein of choice)
• pinch sea salt
• pinch pepper

Directions:

1. Wash and chop romaine, brussels sprouts, peppers and broccoli

2. Wash chick peas carefully (till no foaminess remains)

3. Add tomatoes, almonds and protein source of choice

3. With a fork or whisk mix lemon juice, mustard, maple syrup, salt and pepper. While whisking, slowly add the olive oil until mixture becomes thick

4. Toss and enjoy!