Dark Cacao + Collagen Seed Bark

To me, there is no better sweet combo than simple fruit and chocolate. I am known to make chocolate covered fresh and/or dried fruits at any time of the year and it is often my favorite dessert for any special occasion. Sometimes I marvel at how our bodies can give us insight into how we naturally feel healthiest - this is one small example. This dessert is naturally gluten, dairy & refined sugar free - an ideal combo for me! I just feel good eating it, so much more than other types of sweets or cakes. Intuitive eating can be so helpful when trying to determine what makes our bodies tick. It’s also important to have indulgences that support us instead of hurt us. This is a big part of learning how to care for yourself!

I started making variations of this “bark” recently for my chocolate fix - a very thin layer of chocolate drizzled over a flat sheet of finely chopped fillings. I added collagen powder & cinnamon to the melted chocolate to level it up this week - you can add any superfood or herbal / adaptogenic powder to your chocolate mix after it has melted. Spirulina, ashwaganda, maca root powder, ground ginger, astragalus… plenty of options will work.

I loved the mixture here - puffed quinoa (just gradually heat 1/4 C quinoa in a skillet with lid, like popcorn, until you hear it start popping up), chia seeds, sunflower seeds, toasted sliced almonds, finely chopped pecans, hemp hearts, dried goji berries. Lay it all flat on parchment paper so that it all touches each other but is not more than one layer thick. Then, pour on the chocolate. I also like to add a bit of Maldon sea salt flakes to the top before it sets in the fridge.

dark chocolate collagen seed bark

This will be our Valentine’s treat - with broken bark leftovers going into a tupperware to store in the fridge. It’s so simple and good, endlessly versatile. Hope you enjoy.

Dark Cacao + Collagen Seed Bark /

1/2 C coconut oil

1/4 C maple syrup, or a bit less even

1/2 C raw cacao powder

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 Tbsp collagen powder (or other level-up ingredients)

2 dashes ground cinnamon

Maldon finishing salt

Crushed and finely chopped “fillings” for the bark - chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp hearts, nuts of your preference, goji berries, sunflower seeds, puffed quinoa or puffed rice, dried orange peel, tart cherries or apricots - all finely chopped…

Heat the oil over medium-low heat until fully melted, add maple syrup and whisk together until combined. Take off the heat & add cacao + vanilla and whisk until totally smooth. Add your collagen + additional superfood / level-up powders & spices and whisk again. Arrange your seed mixture in a flat layer on parchment paper in a sheet pan. Lightly pour the chocolate sauce over the seed mixture very evenly in a thin layer. Use a fork to spread the mixture around evenly if needed. Sprinkle Maldon sea salt flakes on top evenly to your liking. Refrigerate. This must be kept cold during storage so as not to melt. Once it has set solid (2-4 hrs), break into pieces and store in a sealed container in the fridge or freezer for even longer duration. Serve with berries, mint, edible flowers…

Summer Corn with Umeboshi

Looking for a new way to jazz up all that corn on the cob your family is eating this summer? We love ours grilled and charred with olive oil and salt, Mexican-style with chili powder, cilantro, and lime, and also this way - with a smear of umeboshi paste and gomasio on top. It’s just as easy as anything to make, and chances are you have NO idea the benefits of eating this intensely pickled, funny sounding Japanese plum - it’s great to have an easy way of incorporating them into such an American staple. 

Food Facts: Umeboshi Plums (or plum paste)

Umeboshi salt plums are extremely sour and salty. They are commonly called “Japanese alka seltzer” because of their common use in treating digestive upset. They are highly alkalizing and can help with indigestion, diarrhea, liver issues, fatigue, the elimination of toxins and even worms! Because of their action on the liver, they have also gotten a popular reputation as a hangover cure. You can buy them whole or commonly as vinegars or pastes. One umeboshi plum a day = the apple of the East! 

Summer corn with Umeboshi

Fresh corn, kept on the cob

2 Tbsp umeboshi paste

1 splash Mirin rice wine

Gomasio (a sesame seed and sea salt mixture) or toasted sesame seeds

Cayenne pepper (optional)

Grill or steam corn to desired doneness. While your corn is cooking, mix umeboshi paste with a splash of mirin and stir/whisk together to thin the paste - you may need a splash of water as well to taste. Umeboshi paste is VERY strong, so thinning it out makes the flavor less punchy and adding the wine will balance a little sweetness into the paste. Spread a thin layer over each cob, top with gomasio sprinkles or sesame seeds and cayenne for kick. 

Pure Samoa "Girl Scout Cookies"

Who doesn’t love girl scout cookies? Come on, most of you are craving them every time you pass by their little stands outside of Walgreens or the grocery store - I know I do. Problem is, they are really bad for you! I will praise the day when the girl scouts stop using hydrogenated oils and so many processed ingredients in their treats. I mean, it’s about time, right! 

My all time favorite girl scout cookie is the Samoa:

Dark chocolate, coconut, caramel, shortbread cookie. I crave these things normally during girl scout season, BUT this year my sister sent me a “fake samoa” recipe that was full of healthy stuff, and I thought - I’m gonna break the cycle and try these instead! I think it worked. They have been in the freezer for a few days now, and I haven’t missed a real samoa at all. They are different, mind you - the texture is different and they need to be frozen, but the flavor is very close to the “real thing”, even though the “real thing” is more full of “fake” ingredients than these are. Get me? See what you think. 

Almost Raw Samoa Cookie Bars:

(modified from Cooking a la Mel)

For the “shortbread base”:

    • 2 cups walnuts, or walnut and pecan mix
    • 1 cup unsweetened coconut
    • ¼ cup raw honey
    • 1 t vanilla extract
    • ¼ t sea salt
For the coconut “caramel” layer:
    • 1 ½ cups dates, soaked for about 10 minutes in hot water
    • ½ cup coconut milk
    • 1 t vanilla
    • 1/8 t salt
    • 1C unsweetened, shredded coconut
For the chocolate topping:
  • 1 C dark chocolate chips

For the shortbread base:

In a food processor, pulse the walnuts and coconut together until in fine crumbs. Add in the honey, vanilla, and sea salt, and process until a moist dough forms.

Press the dough into a parchment lined 9×9 inch baking pan.

For the coconut “caramel” layer:

Toast the shredded coconut at 350ºF for about 5-8 minutes, until golden (be careful not to burn it). Allow it to cool while you make the “caramel.”

After soaking the dates, drain the water, and pulse in a food processor until a paste forms. Add the coconut milk, vanilla, and salt, and process until smooth. Add the shredded coconut, and pulse until just combined.

Scoop the coconut “caramel” mixture out, and spread it evenly across the top of the “shortbread” base.

Transfer to the freezer for about 15 minutes, until set.

For the chocolate topping:

Place the chocolate chips in a microwaveable bowl, and microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until fully melted.

Remove the bars from the freezer. Transfer the melted chocolate to a ziplock bag using a rubber spatula. Snip off the corner of the bag, and drizzle the chocolate over the bars.

Place back in the freezer for about 10 minutes, until the chocolate has hardened, then take out the whole sheet of cookie with parchment paper (it will be hardened and set firmly), cut it into squares large or small. Place them in an airtight container & store in the freezer. 

They get melty the longer they are outside of the freezer, so enjoy cold and eat often.  

Celebrate Health this Thanksgiving

Want to create a vibrant, healthy, gorgeous Thanksgiving meal? There is so much more creativity beyond the turkey and dressing. I love a colorful, visually stimulating plate and that’s one of the reasons why I LOVE Thanksgiving so much – there is such beauty in the food you are about to eat. My mom and I are especially motivated to create the perfect plate on Thanksgiving day. When a better time to celebrate food, wholeness, and the abundance of nature’s gifts to us all? Inspire this love of colorful, vibrant, nutrient-rich food in your family this year by cooking some bold, healthy side dishes to accompany your bird. Click on the images below for recipes. ♥

Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Gratin with Sage:

Thanksgiving side dishes

Raw Kale Salad with Lemon (gotta have your greens):

Raw Cranberry-Orange-Ginger Relish (a personal MUST!):

Healthy thanksgiving sides

Roasted Carrots with Cumin:

Healthy thanksgiving sides

Golden Crusted Brussels Sprouts (my husband’s fave):

healthy thanksgiving sides

Roasted Acorn Squash with Chili-Lime Vinaigrette (it’s DELISH):

healthy thanksgiving sides

Happy Cooking and Happy Eating! xo