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!

Mint- Chocolate Fudge Sauce

Busy schedules, late night cravings and chocoholic-ism has lead to stuffing my face with foods that make me feel sluggish and... well gross the past few weeks. 

Working in a profession kitchen leads to awkward hours, late nights and little time to make sure you are eating full nutritious meals every day. Instead you are left mindlessly munching on this or that throughout the night, never sitting down to enjoy what you are eating and most likely missing key nutrients. I quickly felt myself getting exhausted, grumpy and sick. 

In my searches on ways to supplement the vital nutrients I have been missing, I stumbled upon HUM Nutrition. From the bright packaging to wholesome, natural and vegan ingredients I decided to give it a try. I started with the basics like probiotics, vitamin D and B12 plus fun combinations for hair + nail health and a weight-loss booster and you could say I am more than satisfied. Since starting my HUM regimen I have started to get control of my crazy schedule and fuel my body. 

My newest HUM obsession is their new Raw Beauty superfood powder. Its an all in one boost of superfoods like spirulina, ginger, chlorella, wheat grass, flax, goji berry, matcha (and SO much more) all wrapped together with the delicious flavors of mint-chocolate. The powder is delicious to add to smoothies, 'nice' cream or just shaken with almond milk. BUT I decided to give into my sweet and indulgent side and turn it into a luscious vegan chocolate sauce. The sauce is perfect for dipping, pouring or spooning ;) 

MINT- CHOCOLATE FUDGE SAUCE

yield : 1/2 cup sauce

1 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk 

6 dates, pitted 

2 tsp chia seeds

1 tsp vanilla extract 

2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tbsp HUM Nutrition Raw Beauty powder

  1. In a blender, combine almond milk, chia seeds and dates until smooth. 
  2. Strain mixture into a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring frequently until thickened (about 5- 10 minutes). 
  3. Whisk in cocoa powder, HUM Nutrition Raw Beauty and vanilla until well incorporated. 
  4. Remove from heat and dip, pour or smear. 

One Day with Martha

If you are anything like me, you have day dreamed about roaming Martha Stewart’s farm and cooking in her perfectly organized kitchen. Not to mention meeting the legend herself.

About a month ago I had the opportunity to do just that… and let’s just say it was more than I could have imagined. I am still pinching myself. I was chosen to join Martha on Martha Bakes to talk about baking and watch the master herself. The episode we filmed will air tomorrow, 4/9 on PBS at 4:30pm EST. The episode will cover the essentials to a no-fuss fruit curd recipe with three delicious applications; a Lemon Tart, Passion Fruit- Filled Cupcakes and Genoise with Raspberry Curd.

Flash back to my day with Martha - it all started (like a dream, because I was half asleep) with a 5am wake up call to catch a train upstate to Martha Stewart’s farm. I nervously sipped my morning coffee in disbelief that in only 1 hour I would be meeting the woman behind one of the most powerful and impactful brands in the world. We were picked up from the train station and whisked off to Martha’s farm in Bedford, NY. Upon arrival (despite the rainy day) I was floored by the expansive farm, greenhouses and beautiful landscaping.

The first step into Martha’s kitchen is like stepping into the pages of her magazine, it is a harmonious combination of luxury, comfort and warmth. White marble countertops and floors set the stage for a breathtaking collection of copper cookware. As a cook I may appreciate kitchens more than the average person, but you know that euphoric feeling when your kitchen is fully stocked, beautiful organized and clean? Well I was in this state of bliss for the entire shoot.

Martha was gracious and beautiful as she welcomed us to her home and on the show. After a quick set-up of the set it was lights, camera, action. Having never been on TV before my two classmates and I were shaking with nerves to say the least. Throughout the shoot I was in awe of Martha’s ease in front of the camera. She has an undeniable ability to light up a room with her calming voice and ability to make even the most complicated techniques look effortless.

The most exciting part of filming was the behind-the- scene magic. From pre-measured ingredients waiting to be transformed, to back-up cakes in case something goes wrong, nothing goes unnoticed by Martha or her staff. I was most surprised by Martha’s distaste for “swap-out” shows (aka the TV magic when a cake is mixed, baked and decorated in 2 minutes). On Martha’s shows she makes everything onset from start to finish so that the audience doesn't miss a step. This method of filming relies on precision from Martha and her staff in order to pull of the perfect product in minimal takes. It was as exciting to see as it was to taste ;) .

As we watched Martha work it is undeniable that she is the utmost perfectionist. She has high expectations for her staff, down to not wasting the last tablespoon of butter. But can you blame her? She has built an empire based on clean, simple, perfection. Finding the best methods for home cooks to prepare difficult dishes and giving America a sense of style with home decor and DIY projects. She is a woman who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to demand it.

Being able to spend one day with Martha will be an experience I will never forget. Now if only I could master cooking without turning my apartment into a crime scene… baby steps.

 

 

 

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.

maca love.jpg

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.