Trendy, Healthy + Cheap AF : CBD Chocolate

If you know me, you know I love chocolate. I mean chocolate at any time of day is perfection. But is there a more satisfying moment then being snuggled up on our couch, noshing on decadent dark chocolate (#selflove)?

Lucky us, there is no better time to celebrate this seductive treat than Valentine’s Day. Whether you are treating friends, a lover or your badass self I have the trendy hack that is sure to impress without the stress.

CBD has become the buzz word on any newsfeed, coffee shop or health food store but what is all of the hype about?! The skimmed down version is that CBD has been found to be a cure all for anxiety, stress, pain relief, insomnia and PMS. Its calming effects without the typical “high” help you stay level-headed throughout your day or help you wind down at night. Manufacturers have been launching CBD products in almost every category due to its mild flavor and ability to be mixed easily into concoctions.

Since chocolate has antioxidants and well… makes everything that much better it is the perfect host for everyone’s new favorite oil.

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Sakara Life Hemp Chocolate ($39 30 chocolate pieces) and To Whom It May ($30 box of 4) are creating delicious CBD chocolate that you can purchase online. While Sakara goes the classic low sugar route, To Whom It May is creating elevated flavors that will drive your taste buds wild. The truth is these chocolates are delicious but it does take quite the chunk out of your wallet. So I have found a way to get the best of both worlds, making a cheaper version of CBD chocolate without sacrificing flavor.

I chose to flavor my bar with tahini swirls, thought I would tackle two trends in one with this cheap AF hack. But make it your own, adding mix-ins like chili powder, popped quinoa or toasted nuts.

CBD Chocolate Tahini Bark

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Ingredients

  • 1 72% dark chocolate bar

    * ( I used Trader Joes for the $ but chose your favorite bar! Tahini pairs well with raw chocolate too)

  • 1 tsp CBD oil

  • 1 tbsp Tahini

  • 1 tsp coconut oil

  • Pinch Sea Salt

Instructions

  1. Over a double boiler melt chocolate with 1/2 tsp coconut oil. In a small bowl combine tahini with 1/2 tsp coconut oil. Microwave for 15 seconds to soften.

  2. Once chocolate is melted, stir in CBD oil. *CBD will evaporate at high temperatures so it is best to add off the heat.

  3. Pour onto a parchment lined sheet try to your desired bark size. Place into fridge for 5 minutes to chill.

  4. Drizzle the softened tahini onto the chocolate and swirl with a toothpick. Sprinkle with sea salt and place back into the fridge to harden.

  5. Cut into squares or break apart and enjoy!

So let’s break it down while our mouths are watering. My CBD Chocolate bark costs $4 per bar (9-12 pieces)!

  • Trader Joe’s 72% dark chocolate $1.79 for 3 bars

  • Tahini $7 per jar, $0.40 per serving

  • CBD Oil $37 , about $2 per serving

  • Coconut Oil $8, about $0.10 per serving

That is a savings of over $8 per bar. The other benefit of mixing your own batch is that you are in control, adding more or less CBD as well as mixing up the add ins! So get creative and share with me what you create!

The Heat is On

It’s that time of the week again… chili number 3 coming in hot.

Rocky Mountain Style chili was the inspiration to this hearty, bean filled chili. Traditionally Rocky Mountain Chili uses chocolate and coffee to deepen the flavor of their chili. The sweet and bitter flavors work to balance the fat from the beef (traditionally) and heat from the chiles.

Let’s be honest, this chili tradition had me at chocolate…

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For my vegan version, we brought in the “meaty” flavor through the stock. Using the rich brown stock from last week that brings an earthiness to the other ingredients. This chili is packed with beans, crumbled tempeh and veggies brought together with a unique blend of chiles, chocolate and coffee grounds.

Don’t let the ingredients turn you away, let this chili transport you to a campfire in the Rockies.


Vegan Rocky Mountain Chili

Yields 6-8 servings  

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  • 1 yellow onion, small dice

  • 1 bunch of celery, small dice

  • 2 carrots, small diced

  • 1 red or green bell pepper, small diced

  • 2 tbsp cumin

  • 1 tbsp miso

  • 1 tbsp paprika

  • 1 tbsp coffee

  • 2 oz 75% dark chocolate, rough chopped

  • 2 cans red kidney beans, drained

  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained

  • 1 oz brick tempeh

  • ¼ cup tamari

  • 1 tbsp maple syrup

  • 1 tbsp chili powder

  • 4 cups Brown Stock (recipe from last week)

For the chili paste:

  • 3 guajillo chiles, dried

  • 2 ancho chiles

  • 1-3 jalepeno (depending on desired spice)

  • 3 morita

  • 1 can diced tomatoes

  • 3 oz tomato paste

  • 3 cloves garlic

  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1.     In a plastic bag, crumble the tempeh into bite sized pieces. Marinate with tamari and maple syrup for at least 30 minutes.

2.     Once marinated place on to a sheet tray and bake for 20 minutes until tempeh has developed some color.

3.     In a medium bowl, combine the dried chilies and cover with boiling water. Allow to sit for 30 minutes – 1 hour to soften.

4.     Meanwhile, roast jalapeños until tender and starting to burst about 20 minutes.

 

5.     While those components are working, start small dicing your vegetables.

6.     In a large soup pot, heat 3 tbsp olive oil. When the oil is shimmering add your diced vegetables with a generous pinch of salt.

7.     Cook down until tender and onions are translucent.

8.     Add cumin, miso, paprika and coffee. Allow to toast for 2 minutes.

9.     Reduce to low heat, add rinsed beans, baked tempeh and 4 cups of brown stock.

 

10.  Drain, remove stems and seeds of chiles.

11.  In a medium bowl combine all chile paste ingredients. Using an immersion blender or blender, blend until smooth.

12.  Add chile mixture to your soup base.

13.  Stir to combine, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.

14.  Lastly add chocolate and allow to melt into the chili.

15.  Serve immediately or save for later!

Macadamia Butter Cups

I have one word for you, decadence.

Imagine sitting on the beach in a tropical paradise, relaxing with a drink in your hand just as the sun sets.  You’re peaceful, content, maybe even a little sunburned… Oh, sorry! That was just your taste buds being transported to their happy place with one bite of these Macadamia Butter Cups. We’ve kicked peanut butter to the curb with this one as we update a classic treat. These Macadamia Butter Cups are delicious with a little nutrients mixed in.

Macadamia nuts are surely the star of the show in these cups, packed with healthy fats, fiber, minerals and antioxidants. The macadamia nut has a unique balance between Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids, providing an anti-inflammatory reaction to the cardiovascular system. This may help reduce cholesterol and protect against heart disease.

In addition, macadamia nuts have a high fiber content (1oz = 2.3g) and anti-oxidant properties due to their flavonoid content.  Flavonoids occur naturally to protect the macadamia plant from environmental toxins, however, in the body flavonoids are turned into free-radical fighting antioxidants protecting our bodies from various toxins and disease.

Just as you thought this dessert couldn’t get any better… we folded the buttery, macadamia nuts with coconut butter creating a luscious, tropical combination. Lucky for you, coconut butter is also loaded with its own set of nutrients. Similar to the benefits of coconut oil, coconut butter is packed with lauric acid, healthy fats, amino acids and calcium.

So put down the Reese’s and get your hands on something you can feel proud about.


Macadamia Coconut Butter Cups

Serves 12

Filling

  • ¾ cups coconut butter, melted
  • 1 cup Mauna Loa chopped macadamia nuts, soaked
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup

Chocolate Coating

  • 16 oz dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

Directions

  1. In a food processor combine all of the ingredients for the filling. Blend until smooth and set aside.
  2. Over a double boiler, melt the dark chocolate with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil.
  3. In a lined cupcake pan, portion 1 ½ tablespoons of the melted chocolate onto the bottom of each muffin liner. Place in the freezer until set, approximately 10 minutes.
  4. On top of the chocolate bases, spoon 1 tablespoon of the macadamia filling. Spread the filling into an even layer that does not reach the edge of the cups. Cover the filling with another 1 ½ tablespoons layer of melted chocolate, ensuring that chocolate covers the filling entirely.
  5. Place back into the freezer until set, at least 20 minutes. Once set, enjoy!

One Year and Counting

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It’s official I have been out and about in the culinary real world for ONE whole year. Time has flown by (seriously, what day is it?!) But exactly one year ago I took my final cook tech exam at the Natural Gourmet Institute before being sent on my way into this insane, intense, passionate, terrifying yet rewarding industry. ‘Post-grad’ life has been one for the books as I go through waves of inspiration and self-doubt trying to establish myself as a cook.    

 

Can’t Take the Heat

Working in a kitchen is nothing yet everything I expected. Through popular media the life of a professional cook is glorified as a passion driven career where you do what you love every day and take pride in your final product. Sprinkled with the horrific examples of the angry chefs and injuries that cooks subject themselves too every day.

Now, I was a culinary school graduate with no idea what to do next. Keep cooking? Find a ‘normal job’ in marketing? I was lost. I convinced myself I could make it as a cook. I knew how to poach an egg, braise vegetables, make bread and break down a chicken. I could do anything, right?

Wrong.

My first externship after school was 3 weeks of realizing I was not cut out for the job. I worked Garde Manger (salad and cold appetizer station) at Cookshop, a farmers-market driven restaurant serving amazing American fare. I had never worked in a restaurant and had no clue what I was doing. I was lucky the chef even let me on his line! Day one, I learned how to read tickets… yes, I really knew NOTHING. I was there to assist the cook who ran the station. I helped prepare ingredients, pick herbs and watch and learn the rhythm of making hundreds of salads while plating beef tartar, shuck oysters and pipe filling for deviled eggs. Needless to say, the first week was an overwhelming disaster. Luckily the team at Cookshop was so helpful and supportive. I am sure I caused more trouble than help but they always smiled and moved on to the next order. By the end of my three weeks I was shucking oysters (with minimal injury) and making salads without being ‘sent back’ by chef.

To be completely honest I thought my time in a kitchen was going to be over after my externship. I thought there was no way I could run my own station. I just wasn’t good enough. But with a little advice and a huge push I decided to give it another go and work at Cookshop’s sister restaurant Vic’s.

Fast forward, I have now been at Vic’s for just under one year! To say there was a learning curve would be a massive understatement. I showed up with a nervous and bruised ego, to run the garde manger station on my own (luckily, no oysters). The beginning was rough, riddled with tears, burns and a little yelling every now and then. Everyday was a blow to the ego, a “what the F*** am I doing here kind of a day.” But yet again, the team had my back. Everyone was eager to help and encouraged me to keep going.

Then it started to fall into place. Shifts became less hectic, I could set up my station in time without running out of prep, I could plate desserts and salads at the same time. I was feeling confident, until BAM I was promoted to the next station… hot appetizers. Stuck in the middle of the open kitchen so every diner could watch me under pressure. There was a lot of, ‘the vegetables are under salted,’ ‘the carrots aren’t hot,’ ‘there’s no shine,’ ‘the vegetables look dry,’ ‘Emily, I missing 6 corns, 3 carrots and a farinata!’… aka a flash back to my first month. But if there is one thing I have learned through this processes is that if you keep your head down, try your hardest and build a sense of confidence you can get through the push.

Now, I have moved onto my 3rd station… I can’t believe it. I still stumble over tickets and cause a mess of the kitchen but I am learning. Every day I put in my best effort, try to understand the ins and outs of the kitchen, soaking up any information given to me. That is a part of the rewarding side of the job that leaves you yearning for more, if you push yourself hard enough you can achieve radical results.

Long story short, popular media hasn’t quite nailed it. They forget to portray the crazy hours, never seeing your friends that live outside of the restaurant, holidays in the kitchen and constant self-doubt. They leave out the family you build when everyone is pushed to their limits, the power of a team and the intoxicating feeling of getting through a rough night. And they forget the strength of the people you work with, who work 21 hours in a day to make ends meet without ever complaining. It’s not easy, not always fun but there is something that makes it worth it.

 

In Other News

Through the ups and downs of my year in the kitchen I have considered quitting, looked for completely different jobs and thrown myself into new hobbies in order to alleviate the pain of everyday kitchen life. Which has left my posts and inspiration for The Fresh Slice non-existent the past few months. (Oops.)

In my social media absence, I did add a few new exciting projects to the books. I completed the second level of sommelier classes at the International Wine Center. Wine has always been a place of interest for me, especially in its connection with food. I was thirsty to know more, expand my understanding and verbiage of international wines and how to accurately pair them with food. Knowing next to nothing walking through the door, except that I love Savion Blanc, the next 9 weeks were whirlwind of information and tastings of amazing wines. The class was incredible. It provided a broad spectrum into the wine world, explored new grape varieties, trends in the market and of course food pairings. Now, I am not on the path of Master Sommelier (yet) but I am excited to share some of my findings with you in future posts.

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Lastly, I have taken on a new side hustle with This Pie is Nuts. A local gluten free, vegan and paleo company making individual pies and granola. The company was created by the amazing Diana Pappas who has single handedly grown the business for the past 2 years. All of our products are entirely out of the nuts, seeds and dried fruit. Basically, the most nutritious pie out there. With new and exciting plans in the future we are working to build This Pie is Nuts into something big. Keep an eye out, or take a bite and order online.

So woop there it is, the whole crazy, exciting, intimidating and wild year is over but one thing has remained the same… food is still the passion of my life. From cookbook lined shelves to restaurant hopping through NYC I am still hungry and I can’t wait to see what I can bring to you this year.

As the great once said, “Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interest in it.”- Julia Child.

 

  

Skin Rescue

Have you ever wondered what it would it would be like to smear chocolate frosting all over your face? Ya, no me neither.... BUT if you were wondering I may have the answer. 

As you may know, I do not normally post about skin care products but I am a firm believer that what you put ON your body is just as important as what goes INTO your body. I stumbled upon 7th Heaven at the Natural Expo West this past year and the rest was history. 7th Heaven specializes in face masks that are designed for any skin condition you are looking to correct. I love these products because it does not require you to alter your daily skin regimen in order see the benefits, it's simply a boost to your regimen that will leave you with soft, supple and glowing skin. 

I know what you're thinking, 'There are thousands of face masks out there why should I try this one?!' Well, 7th Heaven products are all natural concoctions of crushed fruits infused with essential oils designed by herbalists to create the perfect at home skin rescue. In addition to these little slices of heaven nourishing your skin, they are also affordable! Many face masks out there, can run you upward of $80 or more to get the "best" results, but reality is your wallet is usually more cleared out than your skin. 7th Heaven masks run $2 per pouch (I was able to get 2 uses out of!) allowing you to test them all until you find your favorite mask. 

 

NOW back to the nail biting question of, 'How can I rub chocolate frosting all over my face?' Well the 7th Heaven Chocolate Mud Masque is definitely the answer. The combination of cocoa beans and shea butter make this mask the perfect mix of hydration that will have your mouth watering! 

So go ahead lather, relax, rinse and repeat. 

Have you tried them yet?! Let me know what you think in the comments and share it with #My7thHeaven #DormEssential!

 

 

Pip Pip Hooray!

Walking through any grocery store you can tell the popcorn scene is well... poppin. But I am not talking about the microwavable double movie theater butter popcorn or the sugar ridden caramel corn, the new kids on the block are popping corn with a little less guilt and a whole lot of flavor. 

With so many options on the shelves it is hard to distinguish which colorful bag is going to satisfy your late night cravings, that is until I discovered PipCorn. The crunchy, salty, and slightly sweet stuff has got me hooked for a delicious anytime snack. From beautiful packaging to miniature popcorn kernels, they are bringing a new twist to the popcorn craze. 

ALTHOUGH I have been known to take down a whole bag of PipCorn on my own, I love how easy it is to incorporate in to various recipes. The smaller kernels make the popcorn easier to work with in both sweet and savory recipes. Below are a few ideas to keep your snack drawer full and your taste buds happy. 

 

Truffle Rosemary Trail Mix

Yield about 3 cups

  • 1 cup raw almonds 
  • 1 cup raw walnuts 
  • 1/2 cup Raw Peeled Tigernuts 
  • 1-2 cups Truffle Pipcorn
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped 
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin 
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp truffle salt or truffle oil 
  • zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

  1. In a small sauce pan melt the coconut oil
  2. Add rosemary and cumin to oil, cook until fragrant
  3. Remove from heat stir in raw nuts, tiger nuts and salt (if using truffle oil add at this point.)
  4. Pour onto a parchment lined baking sheet, bake for 10-12 minutes until nuts are lightly toasted
  5. Remove from oven and transfer to a paper towel lined baking sheet to cool. while nuts are still warm, sprinkle with lemon zest and truffle salt 
  6. Toss with Truffle Pipcorn 
  7. Garnish with rosemary leaves and enjoy! 
 

Vegan Popped Cherry Cookies

Yeild 18 large cookies

  • 1 flax egg ( 1 tbsp ground flax seed + 3 tbsp water ) 
  • 1/2 cup earth balance butter 
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar 
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar 
  • 2 tsp vanilla 
  • 1 cup + 1 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda 
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries, place in 1/4 cup wine and 1/4 cup water for at least 10 minutes and drain
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips 
  • 1 cup Pipcorn Kettle Corn (or Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

  1. In a small bowl combine flax + water, set aside for at least 10 minutes
  2. In a large bowl, or stand mixer, cream earth balance and sugars together until well incorporated and light in color
  3. Add vanilla, flax egg and to butter mixture. Beat until smooth
  4. In a small bowl sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt together. Slowly add the flour to the butter mixture
  5. Fold the cherries, chocolate chips and Popcorn Kettle Corn into the batter
  6. Cover and place in refrigerator for at least 20 minutes
  7. Once chilled, scoop the cookies using an ice cream scoop or heaping tbsp measure 
  8. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 12- 15 minutes
  9. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, to ensure the cookie is set and dig in

 

 

 

The Fresh Challenge : Spirulina

Keep away from the wrath of the leprechauns and go green this month with spirulina. Spirulina is a powerful blue-green algae that will boost your daily nutrient intake, detoxify skin, improve energy and aid digestive health. With 2000% more beta carotene than carrots, 4000% more iron than spinach and 280% more antioxidant strength than berries, spirulina is the ultimate addition to your diet. This super- algae is an easy addition to smoothies, desserts, snacks or even salad dressings. 

 

Protein Boost

Spirulina is a nutrient dense algae composed of 60% protein, B vitamins, iron, potassium, magnesium and manganese. However, what sets spirulina apart from other plant based proteins is that it is a complete protein, meaning it contains all 9 essential amino acids our bodies require to digest and utilize for optimal cellular function. In fact, 1 tbsp of spirulina powder contains 4g of protein with only 20 calories and 2g of carbohydrates. 

Anti- aging

This algae is more than just a protein powerhouse, it has also been found to have substantial anti-aging properties due to its high percentage of beta carotene, antioxidants and phycocyanin. Phycocyanin is the active ingredient in spirulina that is responsible for its bright blue- green color. Phycocyanin is a natural anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant that fights free radicals in the body while reducing the production of inflammatory molecules. Move over carrots… beta carotene levels in spirulina are 10 times more concentrated than those found in carrots, making spirulina a one-stop-shop for anti-aging from the inside out. 

Gut Health

There are countless detoxifiers and digestive aids hitting the market these days but few target the micro biome of your gut to remove toxins quickly and effectively. Well, spirulina does just that, the blue-green algae stimulates the growth and function of beneficial flora while suppressing bad bacteria in your digestive tract. This promotes proper digestion and the removal of toxins and heavy metals in your bloods stream. The stimulation of beneficial gut flora also improves digestive conditions such as constipation, candida and leaky gut syndrome. 

Energy

Lastly, spirulina’s antioxidant, protein and vitamin rich properties make it a compact energy booster. Some studies have shown that regular consumption of spirulina may improve endurance and reduce muscle fatigue among athletes. 

How to use

Raw spirulina can be found in tablet or powder form by companies such as go raw and Sunfood.  Due to the algae's strong earthy flavor is best when paired with sweets fruits such as bananas, mango, pineapple, dates or berries in smoothies or juices. If dessert is what your craving, add a spoonful of spirulina powder to raw chocolate brownies, truffles or chia pudding for a depth of flavor and boost of nutrition. Don’t have a sweet tooth, no worries. Spoon some into your oatmeal in the morning with a sprinkle of sea salt and handful of nuts, toss it with your popcorn or add it to salad dressings. 

For the purest out there, you can dissolve a tablet or spoonful of powder into a glass of water and drink it straight! But keep a glad of water handy because the dark blue-green color will temporarily stain those pearly whites if not washed down. 

Spirulina is gaining popularity among the health food scene and can be found a various prepared snacks and drinks. Check out Go Raw Sweet Spirulina Bar, GT's Multi-Green Kombucha, Roobar's Spirulina + Chia Protein Bar or Vosges Matcha + Spirulina Dark Chocolate

The Fresh Challenge : Maca

It’s that time of month again… to add something new to your diet and rev-up your healthy 2016. Just in time for Valentine’s Day we are showcasing Maca for its vitamin-packed, libido enhancing and energy boosting qualities.

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Maca is a root native to Peru, also known as “Peruvian Ginseng”. Maca is most commonly found as a powder in grocery stores and health food stores, making it an easy addition to your daily routine. It is important to buy organic maca powder to avoid fillers or imposters - my go-to brands are Sunfood, Navitas and Vega.

Now let’s talk about the benefits of Maca…

  1. It’s potent in vitamin B, C and E, calcium, zinc, iron and magnesium. All of which are essential minerals if you follow a plant-based diet.

  2. A natural love potion, maca has been found to increase libido and endurance, especially in men. While maintaining an even hormone balance and improving fertility in women.

  3. This superfood can improve energy and stamina levels throughout the day.

  4. It improves mental clarity and focus as it reduces mood imbalances such as depression, anxiety or mood swings.

  5. So long to PMS! Maca can reduce irritability, cramps and hot flashes caused by menstruation and menopause.

Added Bonus: The hormone balancing properties found in maca have shown a positive effect on reducing hormonal acne and improving skin tone! How about that for positive vibes?!

Need some ideas about how to incorporate maca into your day? From energy bars to smoothies to ice cream - there’s no shortage of ways to fit this into your daily diet. 

In the spirit of Valentine's Day I have an easy recipe that is perfect as a dessert to share or to show yourself a little love.

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Maca Dark Chocolate Bark:

12 oz dark chocolate       1/3 cup dried cherries

1 tbsp coconut oil            1/4 cup toasted coconut flakes

1 tbsp maca powder        1/4 cups cocoa nibs

1/2 cup toasted almonds, chopped    

1 tsp sea salt

  1. Over a double boiler melt 8 oz of the chocolate. < If using a microwave melt in 30 second increments, stirring between each until melted >

  2. Once melted, add in remaining chocolate, coconut oil and maca powder. Stir until fully melted and smooth. 

  3. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat

  4. Pour the chocolate onto the prepared surface and spread into an even layer using a spatula. You want your bark about 1/4 inch thick. 

  5. Top with the dried cherries, almonds, coconut, cocoa nibs and salt to evenly cover the surface. Let on the counter to harden but if you just can't wait to take a bite, pop it in the fridge for 15- 20 minutes. 

  6. Once the chocolate has set, break it apart and enjoy! 

NOTE: Too much maca can add a slightly chalky taste to your food so take it easy. A little goes a long way with this superfood, only one tablespoon a day is recommended. IN FACT, it is important to build up your tolerance of Maca due to its potency. If you are new to the product start with ½  a teaspoon and work your way up to a full tablespoon over time.