Easy Recipe: Dairy Free Chocolate Pudding

Whoa, it’s been AGES since I even thought about making pudding.
Not only have I not made pudding in ages, but I don’t think I even considered the idea of making it from something other than milk. Well, I got turned around when I saw a recipe recently for an apparently vegan chocolate pudding. Yes, vegan. I’m not vegan, we all know this by now. In fact, I wonder if sprinkling some crispy pastured bacon bits on top of this would be good…hmm. Okay, I’ll come back to earth.

I think this recipe is going to help me stay on my dairy free test over this next month. I’ve been on and off of different elimination diets over the years and I’m testing dairy again. Amen for avocado. Amen.

Wondering why I think avocados are so great? Here’s the lowdown on this creamy fruit:

  • 1 avocado that yields about 130g of fruit contains 227 calories, a whopping 9g of fiber and 3g of protein. Most people are concerned about the fat content in an avocado, but have no fear, this is a HEALTHY fat. And it comes packed with fiber, so enjoy this treat from nature.
  • In that same 130g serving, avocados are high in:
    vitamin C- 20% of your RDA
    vitamin K- 36% of your RDA
    folate – 30% of your RDA
    potassium – 20% of your RDA
    source: nutritiondata.com
  • The healthy fats in an avocado (including oleic acid) aid in the absorption of carotenoids and lycopene. These are nutrients found in fresh foods like carrots and tomatoes. Adding avocado to recipes that include other vegetables can help your body to absorb the nutrients. Yum!

    According to whfoods.com,

    Adding avocado to salsa increased lycopene and beta-carotene absorption 4.4 and 2.6 times higher, respectively, than the average amount of these nutrients absorbed from avocado-free salsa. Since avocados contain a large variety of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, as well as heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, eating a little avocado along with carotenoid-rich vegetables and fruits is an excellent way to improve your body’s ability to absorb carotenoids while also receiving other nutritional-and taste-benefits.

sources: whfoods.com and nutritiondata.com


Dairy Free Chocolate Pudding

(use all organic ingredients when possible)

Ingredients

1 avocado
1 medium-large banana
2 Tbsp coconut or almond milk (I often use homemade, look for the recipe here soon!)
2-3 Tbsp Carob or Cocoa powder (unsweetened)

Optional Ingredients:
a pinch of green leaf stevia
a pinch of sea salt
a dash of cinnamon
1/4 tsp real vanilla extract
1 Tbsp cacao nibs (as garnish, do not put in food processor)

Preparation

  • Halve the avocado and remove the pit. Scoop out the fruit into a food processor with the banana, coconut milk (or other) and carob or cocoa powder.
  • Add any other ingredients and allow it to blend together until completely combined.
  • I use a small hand blender attachment that has a mini-food processor, but you can use a food processor or blender most likely. Depending on how much you’re making, you may need to do a lot of scraping down of the sides of the processor. You could also whip this by hand or with beaters.

Try this out and let me know what your favorite way to make it is! Feel free to share your tips below for other ways to make it. I’m already mulling around ideas of variations I want to make as soon as possible.

If you’d like more easy, healthy recipes or to find out more about holistic lifestyle coaching services in-person (in the Bay Area) or remotely (via phone, email or Skype), contact me today.


Enjoy & be well!
Diane Sanfilippo
Owner, Balanced Bites Holistic Nutrition & Wellness
C.H.E.K. Holistic Lifestyle Coach
Holistic Nutrition Educator student @ Bauman College, Berkeley, CA

Find Balanced Bites around the web:

BLOG: http://www.balancedbites.blogspot.com
WEBSITE: http://www.balancedbites.com
TWITTER: http://twitter.com/balancedbites
FACEBOOK: Become a fan of Balanced Bites

Posted in avocado, banana, dessert, easy recipes, paleo, stevia | 10 Comments

No Time to Cook? I’m Calling Your Bluff!

People see me eating REAL FOOD for breakfast every day at work and ask me over and over again, “how do you have time to cook that?” Seriously. Clearly I don’t have more hours in the day than they do. Well, all kidding aside, I don’t have kids or a family so maybe that helps a bit. But realistically, I’m a busy woman. I work full-time, go to school, exercise, read, study, do homework… blog! My days are typically packed with things to do. That includes cooking food. It’s not something I put at the bottom of my list.

For me, it’s as simple as that. I know I’ll need to eat EVERY DAY. SEVERAL TIMES.  And I like to eat real food. So, for me, cooking has to be a priority.

In the morning, if I’m running late and only have 15 minutes to finish getting myself ready and out the door for work, I choose to pull my hair into a bun and make breakfast. This happens most days of the week. Yes, I opt for a good breakfast over a good hair day. It’s my priority that I start my day off right with a proper meal.

For those of you who say you want to eat better but say you don’t have the time, well, I call your bluff!

Here are 5 reasons why YOU DO have time to cook:

  1. You can have a bad hair day but a good food day. (Yes, I’m stealing this from my note above.) Ladies, really, how long does your hair take to style in the morning before work? Maybe you can wear a ponytail one day, or find a style that works and takes less time. Just consider it.
  2. Did you see (insert wildly popular TV show name here) last night?! You did? Well, maybe instead of watching that show, you could have cooked something for dinner and had leftovers to take for lunch tomorrow, or even to eat for breakfast. Yes, you can eat meat and vegetables for breakfast. I promise.
  3. Wow, that YouTube video of (insert wildly popular and hysterical video name here) led to 30 more minutes of mindless web surfing! I bet you know what you could have been doing in that time.
  4. Thursday evening rolls around and your coworkers are going to happy hour. Yes, being social is important. But every week? Maybe this week it’s a good time to skip happy hour and head home to cook a nice dinner that will freeze well to enjoy another night next week. What a novel idea.
  5. Have you called your mother lately? Or father, sister, brother…you get the idea. Maybe you call your parents or friends to chat in the evening or on the weekend. Make more use of that hands free set that you had to dole out cash for because you can’t talk while holding it in the car. Yes! You can use your hands free around the house while doing chores, including cooking. Pop your phone in your pocket or clip it to your waist and get cooking! Hey, maybe you can even ask mom for some cooking advice while you’re at it. Or maybe not. Depends on your mom.

What are you doing when you could be spending some time preparing healthy food to eat?

If you’d like more ideas about how to make eating real food easier or to find out more about holistic lifestyle coaching services (in-person in the Bay Area or remotely via phone, email or Skype), contact me today.


Enjoy & be well!
Diane Sanfilippo
Owner, Balanced Bites Holistic Nutrition & Wellness
C.H.E.K. Holistic Lifestyle Coach
Holistic Nutrition Educator student @ Bauman College, Berkeley, CA

Find Balanced Bites around the web:

BLOG: http://www.balancedbites.blogspot.com
WEBSITE: http://www.balancedbites.com
TWITTER: http://twitter.com/balancedbites
FACEBOOK: Become a fan of Balanced Bites

Posted in Staying on Track | 5 Comments

Easy Recipe: Gluten Free Coconut Flour Muffins

I am not a baker.
In fact, I think I’m pretty awful at baking. The measuring and precision involved can really send me over the edge. As a creative-type, I like to make “recipes” and I like to be able to throw in a little of this and a little of that. You can’t really do that with baking. I mean, you can, sort of. But not really.

This recipe is SO EASY that it’s one that I can follow; and after a couple of times of trying it, it’s come out well both times. These are tasty little muffins with a dense consistency. Mine turned out a bit more yellow in color since I used some fantastic Marin Sun Farms pastured eggs in the recipe. I love these little golden bites with a slather of ghee and some sea salt on top. How delicious does that look?! >>


Gluten-Free Coconut Flour Muffins
(use all organic ingredients when possible)

Ingredients

3 eggs
2 Tbsp Coconut oil or butter, melted
1/4 cup coconut or almond milk (or any milk)
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp Coconut Flour

1/4 tsp Baking Powder
pinch of salt

Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 6 large muffin tins (or use muffin liners)
  • Whisk eggs and mix in melted coconut oil or butter.
  • Sift in coconut flour and baking powder until blended.
  • Fill the 6 muffin tins about halfway. The batter will be thick so just eyeball it.
  • Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes. Until the muffins are set and edges begin to become golden brown.

Variations

  • To make these even more “coconutty,” add 3 Tbsp shredded coconut.
  • To make these more of a sweet muffin, add a dash of vanilla and some raw honey if you’d like.
  • To make these more of a savory muffin, add another dash of salt and maybe some rosemary.
  • I haven’t tried these as mini muffins yet, but drop them into a mini tin for a change of pace!

If you’d like more easy, healthy recipes or to find out more about holistic lifestyle coaching services in-person (in the Bay Area) or remotely (via phone, email or Skype), contact me today.


Enjoy & be well!
Diane Sanfilippo
Owner, Balanced Bites Holistic Nutrition & Wellness
C.H.E.K. Holistic Lifestyle Coach
Holistic Nutrition Educator student @ Bauman College, Berkeley, CA

Find Balanced Bites around the web:

BLOG: http://www.balancedbites.blogspot.com
WEBSITE: http://www.balancedbites.com
TWITTER: http://twitter.com/balancedbites
FACEBOOK: facebook.com/Balancedbites

Posted in breakfast, coconut, coconut oil, dairy-free diet, easy recipes, eggs, gluten free, gluten free recipe | 3 Comments

Easy Recipe: Gluten Free Flax Granola

Who doesn’t love granola?
Oh man, it can be addictive even, can’t it? As much as I love it, I haven’t eaten granola in a pretty long time. I’ve made lots of different versions of granola recipes, and I’ll probably make it again and change this up even more. Feel free to play with this recipe and have some fun with it. Add things you love and make it your own.


Gluten Free Flax Granola

(all measurements are approximate, use all organic ingredients when possible)

Ingredients

3 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Oats
2 Tbsp Coconut oil, melted
2 Tbsp Butter, melted
1 Tbsp Coconut creme concentrate, melted 
2 Tbsp Grade B Maple syrup
(or less, this ended up even sweeter than I needed)
1/4 c Flax seeds
1/2 c Walnuts, chopped
2 Tbsp Dried cranberries, chopped

Sprinkle of cinnamon
1/2 Tsp vanilla

Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Melt coconut oil, butter and coconut creme concentrate together in a saucepan.
  • Stir all ingredients together and then spread on a large baking sheet.
  • Bake for approximately 15 minutes. Allow to cool before storing.

Variations

  • Add different kinds of nuts or dried fruit to your liking.
  • Sprinkle some ground flax seeds on AFTER baking.

Try this out and let me know what your favorite way to make it is! If you’ve made granola before, share your tips below for other ways to make it. I’m already mulling around ideas of variations I want to make as soon as possible.

If you’d like more easy, healthy recipes or to find out more about holistic lifestyle coaching services in-person (in the Bay Area) or remotely (via phone, email or Skype), contact me today.


Enjoy & be well!
Diane Sanfilippo
Owner, Balanced Bites Holistic Nutrition & Wellness
C.H.E.K. Holistic Lifestyle Coach
Holistic Nutrition Educator student @ Bauman College, Berkeley, CA

Find Balanced Bites around the web:

BLOG: http://www.balancedbites.blogspot.com
WEBSITE: http://www.balancedbites.com
TWITTER: http://twitter.com/balancedbites
FACEBOOK: Become a fan of Balanced Bites

Posted in butter, coconut, coconut oil, easy recipes, nut | Leave a comment

5 Things to Love About Coconut Oil

I really, really, really love coconut oil. Organic, virgin, unrefined coconut oil.

I buy coconut oil all the time. This week, I was lucky enough to receive a sample of Tropical Traditions brand Gold Label Standard Virgin Coconut Oil. I also recently received my order for their Coconut Creme Concentrate as well! I’m in love with that stuff…but more on that later, this post is about the OIL!

So here they are, my 5 Things to Love About Coconut Oil:
(These are in no particular order. There are more things to love about coconut oil, but in an effort to keep it short, I’m sticking to 5.)

  1. Coconut oil is fantastic for cooking.
    I use it to lightly oil a pan for frying an egg, sauteéing kale or any veggies that might have a slightly bitter taste as the coconut oil is just barely sweet. I also use it to shallow pan-fry chicken when I want the skin to get crispy!

    Since coconut oil is mostly a saturated fat (comprised of healthful medium-chain fatty acids which have been touted as weight-loss enhancers!), it is stable at high temperatures and doesn’t oxidize easily as olive oil would. This robust property makes coconut oil an ideal cooking oil!

  2. Coconut Oil is great for baking.
    You can use it in place of vegetable oil or, for heaven’s sake, crisco (both of which are highly processed oils with molecular structures that are not easily recognized by your body). As a side note, I NEVER use vegetable oils or crisco. Those are not foods. This does not include olive oil, nut oils or sesame seed oil – those are in my kitchen.
  3. Coconut Oil is a HEALTHY saturated fat.
    Yes, you read that correctly. It’s a naturally occurring saturated fat that your body knows how to handle and process. We’ve been told over the last 30 years or so that eating saturated fat was unhealthy and this isn’t true! One interesting thing to note about coconut oil is that it melts into a liquid at around 76 degrees. Last time I checked, our bodies run somewhere around 98 degrees. That means this stuff doesn’t stay solid when it hits your body. Other fats out there that are naturally liquid but become solid by a chemical process (hydrogenated oils) don’t melt again until they hit much higher temperatures in a pan or an oven. Our bodies aren’t that hot.  I’ll get into the great fat debate more in a future post, but for now you can go ahead and do a google search for “health benefits of coconut oil” and see for yourself. I eat tons of coconut oil and I’m not fat, I promise.
  4. Coconut Oil makes a fantastic natural moisturizer.
    I use it on my face and all over my body. It absorbs fairly quickly and doesn’t remain as an oily layer on your skin. I recently heard a quote about how to select products to put on my skin, I believe it was something to the effect of “if you wouldn’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin.” Considering our skin absorbs what we put on it, I can see how that makes perfect sense. I now keep a small glass jar filled with Organic Virgin Coconut Oil in my medicine cabinet for use morning and night after I wash my face or take a shower. It will not leave your face or body oily, just try it for a week and see for yourself!
  5. Coconut Oil mixes easily with organic, unsweetened cocoa powder to make homemade CHOCOLATE!
    That’s right, when I’m out of a fantastic bar of organic dark chocolate and I have a craving, I make my own. Here’s one recipe that I posted on the Balanced Bites Facebook Fan Page that uses coconut creme concentrate, coconut oil and peanut butter. Yum.

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

Tropical Traditions also has a Referral Program, so if you place an order with them as a first-time customer, please select “Referred by a friend” and in the box that says “How did you hear of us?” enter my sponsor ID number: 5536730.

By telling Tropical Traditions that I referred you, you will receive a complimentary copy of the book “Virgin Coconut Oil: How it has changed people’s lives and how it can change yours!” by Brian and Marianita Shilhavy with your first order! This book is filled with testimonies and research showing how healthy coconut oil is, and it also includes over 85 recipes showing how one can incorporate coconut into their diet.

Enjoy & be well!
Diane Sanfilippo
Owner, Balanced Bites Holistic Nutrition & Wellness
C.H.E.K. Holistic Lifestyle Coach
Holistic Nutrition Educator student @ Bauman College, Berkeley, CA

Find Balanced Bites around the web:

BLOG: http://www.balancedbites.blogspot.com
WEBSITE: http://www.balancedbites.com
TWITTER: http://twitter.com/balancedbites
FACEBOOK: Become a fan of Balanced Bites

    Posted in coconut, coconut oil | 2 Comments

    My Top 10 Tips for Picking Healthy Foods to Eat

    Here are my 10 tips for picking healthy foods to eat. I am inspired by Michael Pollan’s new book “Food Rules” which covers all of these and more in his words. Below are my rules, in my words

    1. apple Fresh is always best.
      Dried fruits and nuts are fantastic snacks, but if you can eat fresh fruit or even fresh veggies, opt for those. If you eat dried fruits, go for the ones without added preservatives (I find them in a refrigerated case at Rainbow Grocery– they’re cold because they’d spoil otherwise!)

    2. If it has too many ingredients you can’t pronounce, leave it.
      Typically, ingredients that have long, chemical-sounding names are additives or preservatives that you really don’t need or want to be eating.

    3. marysStick to packaged foods that you could make if you wanted to/had the time!
      If you could make this item in your kitchen, but just don’t for lack of time, energy or motivation, then it’s probably okay to buy in a package. One of my favorite packaged foods is a gluten-free cracker, made by Mary’s Gone Crackers, that is made from lots of seeds. I find them to be tasty and crunchy, and a great way to get in some essential fatty acids.

    4. Eat colorful foods.
      Foods from nature have lots of color! If you eat certain colors for breakfast or lunch, try to eat different colors for dinner. Take it a step further by varying the kind of veggies you eat at each meal- if you eat a salad for lunch that has lots of leafy greens, try eating more crunchy greens (broccoli, green beans, zucchini) for dinner.

    5. Plan ahead!
      You KNOW you’re going to need to eat all day long, so there’s no excuse for not having a healthy snack on-hand at all times. Sure, we get stuck in traffic, or get caught in meetings that run long sometimes, but that’s no excuse. You can always keep something like a Larabar in your bag or purse to nibble on for a healthy, real-food snack.

    6. Keep small amounts of leftover meals as snacks.
      I don’t know about you, but when I cook dinner, I almost always have something left over. Sometimes it’s not enough for a whole separate meal, but that’s perfect for a snack! Pack it up in a portable container and take it with you. If you need to, get a small cooler bag and ice pack to keep it cold, it’s pretty easy to always have a healthy snack on-hand if you take leftovers to munch.

    7. Defy conventional notions of “snack” or “breakfast” foods.
      This is a follow-on from the previous tip, but it’s more about the mental shift than taking physical action. Get your mind out of the snack-food or even the breakfast-food rut! Your body is just like any other animal’s body. What other animals besides humans eat something different before noon than it eats any other time of the day?! Seriously people. This whole BREAKFAST FOOD or SNACK FOOD concept is a product of marketing! Try to ween yourself off of sugary (and high-carb, low protein/low fat) breakfast foods and snacks. See how you feel when you start your day with a real-food meal!

    8. food rulesBalance your meals/snacks with Protein/Carbs/Fat.
      When you sit down to eat, look at your plate. Every food item can only be one of or a combination of three types of macronutrients. It’s either a protein, a carbohydrate or a fat- or a combination of one or all of them. Try to keep a balance on your plate. If you’re eating a piece of fruit, try to add nuts or some whole (read full-fat) organic or raw dairy. If you’re eating a nice organic, grass-fed steak, add some leafy greens for a nutrient-packed pile of carbs. Yes! Green vegetables ARE CARBS!

    9. Eat whole foods.
      This may sound redundant from some of my above rules, but it’s not. This rule is about not eating foods that have been broken down from their original form. The notion I want to tackle with this rule is the low-fat, fat-free foods craze. If a food is low in fat, or has no fat, then it’s going to be high in something else. In most cases, low or no-fat foods are high in sugar/added sweeteners or artificial sweeteners. Nature knows what’s up. When you find foods in nature with protein in them like eggs, meat, nuts and dairy, what typically comes with the protein? Fat! Yes, fat! The fats that NATURALLY occur with the protein are important to eat for proper protein assimilation. Go ahead, eat the WHOLE EGG. Don’t waste the yolk or the skin from your organic eggs or chicken! Buy regular organic yogurt or cottage cheese (sometimes labeled 4%). You can sit down with a small portion of it and feel satisfied when you’re done. And that’s a good thing.

    10. If it can never spoil, don’t eat it.
      The only whole food product I’ve ever known that doesn’t spoil is honey. Outside of honey, if you can keep it in your cabinet forever, it’s probably not healthy. I don’t mean to say that whole grains that have a long shelf-life are bad for you, but eventually, those will go off. They last a while in your pantry because the water has been removed, okay that’s fair. But I’m talking about the boxed and packaged foods that will last indefinitely if you don’t open them. 

    Do you have “Food Rules” of your own? Share them with me! I’d love to hear some of them- maybe your #1 rule or your top 5?

    Posted in breakfast | 1 Comment

    Free Group Class Info: 1/23/10 @ DIAKADI Body "Learn What the Labels Aren’t Telling You."

     

    DIAKADI Body is hosting a FREE, Interactive Group Class called “Learn What the Labels Aren’t Telling You.” Diane Sanfilippo, CHEK Certified Holistic Lifestyle Coach and Nutrition Educator Student at Bauman College, will be uncovering what the health claims on foods really mean and how to easily READ the packages to make the best possible choices. She will also decode confusing ingredients and explain how to replace some commonly purchased package food items with better packaged and non-packaged choices. 
     
    FOOD LABELING PRESENTATION DETAILS: “Learn What the Labels Aren’t Telling You.”

    • Date: Saturday, January 23rd 2010
    • Time: 11:00 AM-12:00PM
    • Location: DIAKADI Body (click for map)
    • Cost: FREE! 
    • If you’re going to join us, bring along a packaged food item for the interactive portion of the class. If you forget one, we’ll have extras on-hand.

    Check out the Balanced Bites website here.
    Contact Diane for more information on 1:1 consultations and small group classes.


    Posted in event | Leave a comment