5 minute superfood dark chocolate bark

chocolate bark vegan pomegranate superfood

I have been making a batch of this chocolate bark every week and keeping it in the fridge, enjoying a few pieces each night as an after dinner treat.  Silky and rich, with tons of different flavor nuances just like a good wine.  With lots of polyphenols and antioxidants, dark chocolate is a healthy treat.  Just make sure you’re eating 70% or higher cacao content to ensure that you’re reaping all the healthy benefits chocolate has to offer.  Cacao has a specific antioxidant, epicatechin, that lowers the risk of stroke, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and dementia.  Some researchers even consider epicatechin an essential vitamin.  It reduces inflammation, improves blood flow, and elevates nitric oxide in the blood ( this is what Viagra does- no wonder chocolate is considered a love food) .

This bark is infinitely customizable and only takes about 5 minutes to put together. The one I made today was sesame seed (gives a savory quality to it, almost like chocolate covered pretzels), coconut flake, hemp seeds, pomegranate arils, flaky sea salt, and almonds.  Almonds are my favorite nut to use because they give the biggest crunch payoff.  Get a pretty tin to put it in and it makes a wonderful last minute gift, too.

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Superfood Dark Chocolate Bark.

8 ounces or so (2-3 bars) dark chocolate, preferably 70% or above and organic (I prefer Scharffenbergers (not organic but no-gmo soy lecithin) or Green&Blacks)  update: I now use bulk Tcho chocolate

Any or all of these healthy toppings:

hemp seeds

coconut flakes (toasted or not)

sesame seeds

almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or cashews

pomegranate arils, freeze dried raspberries or strawberries, dried cherries, goji berries, etc.

flaky sea salt (like Maldon)

Rig a double boiler: fill up a large saucepan halfway with water, then place a heatproof mixing bowl over the pot.  Make sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.  Start the water boiling and chop up your chocolate.  It doesnt have to be super tiny pieces, just a rough chop will do fine.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with a Silpat (aka the best invention ever) or parchment paper.  Now put all your chocolate in the bowl of your double boiler.  Stir with a rubber spatula until thoroughly melted.  Pour your chocolate onto your lined pan.  Spread the chocolate out with your spatula until it is the thickness you desire.  I like it thin so I spread it out a lot.  Sprinkle all your desired toppings over.  Pop in the freezer for 10 minutes to harden up.  Peel the chocolate carefully off of the silpat/parchment and break into coarse pieces.  Store in the fridge or freezer for a snappier chocolate, or keep at room temperature (no hotter!) in an airtight container.  If you give it as a gift it would be a good idea to seperate the pieces with parchment paper so they dont stick together.

My personal favorite: Scharffenberger 70% cacao.  Their 85% is AMAZING too.  Rich, nuanced chocolatey flavor with NO acrid/bitter flavors that I taste in many dark chocalates from other brands.  Green & Blacks is my second choice, organic, and more widely available.  Update: I now use bulk Tcho Chocolate, equal exchange is good too.

scharffenberger bittersweet

Enjoy!

Love,

A.

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package free: baby wipes

baby wipe solutionToday I have not a recipe for food, but for a diaper wipe solution.  A friend recently asked me about this topic and I thought I’d share here too.  No nasty chemicals are needed on your precious babes gentle areas!  Just this last year there have been of outbreaks of severe contact dermatitis from all the harsh chemicals they put in baby wipes even though they are touted as “gentle”.  Even the natural/organic wipes still have preservatives in them that can irritate sensitive skin and cause allergies, like citric acid.

We used double sided flannel wipes from Green Mountain Baby and loved them (also where I got my cloth diapers from-they are a great company)  This saved so many diapers,wipes and plastic from going in the landfill because they are all washable and reusable.  Plus, the wipe solution kept Vincent’s diaper area from getting a lot of rashes and sped up healing of any irritations.  It is gentle, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial, thanks to amazing essential oils from lavender and tea tree.  They are also EXTREMELY inexpensive.  Just mix up:

1.5c water

3T jojoba oil

3-4 drops tea tree oil

5-6 drops lavender oil

optional: 1 tsp of dr bronners unscented liquid soap

We put it in a small spray bottle and also kept a squeeze bottle of water handy to moisten the wipes (the one they sent home with us from the hospital!  For perineal cleansing)  Whenever we needed to change the diaper, we moistened the wipe with water, then spritzed the spray directly on the diaper area.  Wipe off with clean wipe and done!  If there is messy poop, just use some toilet paper first to preclean the area.  We didnt have a lot of issues with that because we started elimination communication with Vincent when he was two months old.  No more poopy diapers from then on, save for a handful of accidents along the way.

The solution will seperate like in the below photo so make sure to shake it well before each use.

wipe solution

For diaper rashes we used coconut oil mixed with calendula oil.  Coconut is soothing and anti fungal/antibacterial while calendula assists in skin healing.

The power of plants is amazing!

Much Love,

A.

naughty baby

black bean soup



black bean soup gluten free vegan low fat

Around here we make a lot of different meals.  I rarely use the same recipe twice.  Not that the recipes aren’t good, it’s just that I love to try new things.  However, I definitely have a stash of cherished recipes that I have made time and time again.

This black bean soup is one of them.  Flavorful, filling, creamy, and comforting, this soup is a favorite in our house.  It is extremely versatile as well (good on its own, fabulous with all kinds of toppings, leave the beans whole and eat with rice, use in nachos, etc) and keeps in the fridge wonderfully.  It’s just the thing to make on Sunday and eat all week.

The original recipe comes from my beloved Cooks Illustrated + uses a massive ham hock to cook with the beans to impart flavor.  I obviously leave out the meat and taste absolutely does not suffer.

However, since this soup is so simple, it is imperative to only use very fresh and flavorful broth, spices, and vegetables.  Bonus: cooking this will fill your house with a wonderful, subtle scent of cumin and bay leaf.

black bean soup gluten free vegan low fat

Favorite black bean soup

This recipe is cooked in two steps, the beans and the aromatics/soup.

For the beans you will need:

5c water, plus extra as needed

1 lb (2c) dry black beans, rinsed and picked over for debris

2 large bay leaves

1/8t baking soda

1t salt

Place water, beans, bay leaves, and baking soda in a large pot with lid.  Bring to boil over medium high heat.  Stir in the salt, reduce the heat to low.  Cover and simmer briskly until beans are tender, between 1 and 1.5 hours (this depends on how old your dried beans are)  Start checking the beans for doneness at 1 hour and add extra water during this time if necessary to cover the beans.  After they are done discard the bay leaves but DO NOT drain the beans.  Set aside and start the second step: the soup!

For the soup you will need:

3T oil of choice

2 large yellow onions, chopped finely

1 very large carrot, chopped finely

4 celery ribs, chopped finely

1/2t salt

6 garlic cloves, minced

1/2t red pepper flakes-

*note: this amount does not make it spicy, it is for flavor only.  I LOVE it spicy but I have small children so I add extra into the adults bowls as needed.  If you like spicy, you may want to either increase the chili flakes, add chopped fresh hot peppers to your aromatics, or add in some canned chipotle chiles.

1.5T good quality ground cumin

6c broth

2T cornstarch

2T water

2T lime juice

Heat oil in your pot/dutch oven until shimmering.  Add in your onions, carrot, celery, and salt and cook until they are soft and very lightly browned, approximately 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium low and add your garlic, pepper flakes, and cumin and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the beans, bean cooking liquid, and broth.  Increase the heat to medium high and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes to all the flavors to develop.

Ladle 1.5 cups of beans and 2c of liquid into a blender and puree, then return the puree to the pot.  Stir together the cornstarch and water in a small bowl until combined, then gradually stir half of the mixture into the pot.  Bring the soup to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, to fully thicken.  If the soup is still not sufficiently thickened after boiling, add in the remaining cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil again.  Pull the soup off the heat and stir in the lime juice.  Ladle into bowls and top with any desired toppings.  It will keep in the fridge for about 5 days.

Suggested toppings to pass at the table: (choose as many or as few as you want!)

avocado slices

diced tomato

crumbled tortilla chips

dollops of cashew sour cream

chopped cilantro

thin slices of green onions

diced red onions

diced bell peppers

lime wedges

mango chunks

shredded cabbage

fresh hot tortillas

diced fresh chile peppers