Cocoa Roasted Sweet Potatoes

First off, happy New Year! I hope all of you had great holidays and are enjoying 2018 thus far. I have so much excitement surrounding this year and am feeling giddy, energized, and joyful. There is so much good to come.

On another note, just because the holiday season is over does not mean that chocolate is out of the question! I know many of us had our fair share of treats, but who says you can’t have chocolate with your vegetables? It might sound wild, but in this case, I’m talking about a dusting of unsweetened cocoa or cacao powder on roasted sweet potatoes. It’s a match made in heaven with the natural sweetness and a decadent way to mix things up. For a little spice, I added a dash of turmeric and black pepper too. It’s a magical combo. Also, I know it may appear as if the sweet potatoes are burnt, but I assure you, they’re not. That’s just the covering of cocoa powder.

Meanwhile, just add your protein of choice and some greens, and you’ve got an epic meal. My recommendation would be baked chicken breast and sautéed kale. Perfecto!

Cheers and enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium-large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1-2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1.5 Tbsp cocoa or cacao powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place chopped sweet potatoes in a large bowl. In a small dish, whisk together melted coconut oil, cocoa powder, turmeric, sea salt, and pepper. Pour mixture over sweet potatoes and toss to coat. Place in an even layer on the baking sheet.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, stirring halfway through.
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Spicy Red Velvet Brownies

red velvet brownies

I’m not a big Valentine’s person and don’t care much about the pseudo holiday, but I still always end up doing a little something for Jesse. I think it’s because I was raised celebrating Valentine’s Day, both in school and at home, and a part of me still enjoys doing something cheesy or cute. What can I say? I don’t go all out though and always keep it low key. We usually have dinner at home with a special dessert, and I like to surprise Jesse with a few special dark chocolates from a local chocolatier. Jesse sometimes buys me flowers, but not always. He says he always wants to, but our Siamese cat, Mila, loves to eat them. And then get sick. We end up having to hide the flowers in the laundry closet when we’re not home because of her. We have a very small place too and aren’t able to make any part of our home off limits, except for closets. We can’t even have plants in our house, besides bamboo, because she’ll go to town on it.

This recipe was inspired by Elana’s Pantry Purple Velvet Torte. It was my first time making a dessert with beets, and I will say, it worked out very well. There’s still a little bit of beet flavor, but the honey tones it down and the cocoa makes for a nice complement. Additionally, these are incredibly moist. That would actually be how I’d describe the brownies if I could only pick one word. Maybe red (or reddish) too, if I could pick two words.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups red beets, chopped
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup grass-fed butter, melted
  • 4 pasture raised eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa or cacao powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 cup homemade chocolate chips
Biggest beet ever. I only needed this big beet for the recipe because it yielded plenty on its own.
Biggest beet ever. I only needed this big beet for the recipe because it yielded so much.

Directions:

  1. Place beets inside a steamer basket in a pot, and cook for 15-20 minutes or until fork tender.
  2. Once done, add the beets to a high-speed blender with the vanilla and honey. Blend a couple minutes, or until smooth and well combined.
  3. Add the cinnamon, cayenne, sea salt, cocoa powder and homemade chocolate chips. Blend on high for a minute or so. Then, add the melted butter and blend again.
  4. If the beet mixture is still warm, which it most likely will be, temper the beaten eggs by mixing a little of the beet mixture into the eggs. Once mixed, pour the eggs into the blender. This will ensure you don’t end up with scrambled eggs in your brownies! Blend for another minute, or until mixed through.
  5. Grease an 8×8 pan and pour batter evenly into pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean (it’ll still be beet red though!). Let cool for at least 25 minutes before cutting, as it takes some time for the brownies to set up. If you cut into them too early, they will fall apart.
  6. Once cool, cut into squares or use cookie cutters to make shapes. I made heart shapes for Valentine’s Day.

red velvet brownies 2

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies with homemade chocolate chips.

First off, to my dear friend who is eliminating all sugar this week (except fruit), you may not want to read or look at this. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to wave temptation in front of you, and it’s total coincidence that I’m posting this the day after your sugar elimination was defined! Just know, this recipe will be here down the road and it’s not going anywhere. There’s plenty of time to try it later on!

Anyway, I realized I hadn’t posted a treat recipe in a while and had actually been hanging on to this one. I’ve tried to cut back on the amount of treats I post because, well, I don’t always like having this stuff around either. It doesn’t matter that it’s paleo-friendly folks…it’s still a treat and still contains sugar (honey, in my case). As my friend, Laura, quoted, “treats are sometimes foods.” Bingo.

The thing that makes these cookies particularly special is the HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE CHIPS! Yes, you read that right…homemade chocolate chips! I don’t eat store-bought chocolate chips, even the Enjoy Life brand, because they contain sugar other than honey. I’ve learned that my system does fine with cocoa powder and unsweetened chocolate in moderation, but I’m not interested in testing other SCD-illegal things, like sugars (honey is the only SCD-legal sweetener). I don’t need or want it, and it probably wouldn’t make me feel very good.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 eggs, preferably pasture-raised
  • 2-3 Tbsp raw honey
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp melted grass-fed butter, ghee or coconut oil
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup homemade chocolate chips (see below)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonslip baking mat.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients together (except chocolate chips) in a large bowl. Set aside
  3. In a small bowl, beat together the eggs, honey, butter and vanilla. Stir wet ingredients into dry, mixing well.
  4. Add chocolate chips and mix to incorporate into the dough.
  5. Drop dough onto baking sheet with a tablespoon (mine were heaping tablespoon-sized). Space appropriately and if need be, split batter between two baking sheets.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until light brown. Let cool on a wire rack once done.
  7. Enjoy with a glass of almond or coconut milk, if desired.

Yields: ~ 16 cookies

Breaking up the block of chocolate.
Breaking up the block of homemade chocolate.
Mixing the homemade chocolate chips into the batter.
Mixing the homemade chocolate chips into the batter.

For the homemade chocolate chips

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa or cacao powder
  • 2 squares unsweetened baking chocolate (or you can omit and use 1/2 cup cocoa powder)
  • 1.5 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2.5 Tbsp raw honey
  1. Combine all ingredients together in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Mix together with a whisk until the mixture is smooth.
  2. Line an 8×8 pan (or baking sheet) with parchment paper. Pour mixture onto parchment paper and place pan in the freezer to set.
  3. Freeze for 2-3 hours or until completely hard. Once set, break into chunks with a knife. Store chocolate chips in the freezer, until ready to use. These can be used just like regular chocolate chips.
Fresh baked cookies.
Fresh baked cookies.
These cookies are soft and cake-like, and not too sweet.
These cookies are soft and cake-like, and not too sweet.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas!

Cookie dough fudge.
Cookie dough fudge.

Merry Christmas to all my friends, family and followers that celebrate this holiday! I wish you a very happy holiday and hope you spend it with those near and dear. Cheers!

Meanwhile, if you still need a holiday dessert recipe, give this cookie dough fudge a try. I made some yesterday for Christmas Eve, and it’s a total hit. It is so indulgent and delicious, and like eating chocolate covered raw cookie dough. The recipe is courtesy of TGIPaleo. Seriously, mad props to her for creating such a tasty treat! I didn’t modify anything in the recipe and it turned out perfect. Jesse agreed that this dessert is awesome. Now, you can be the judge.

Making the fudge.
Making the fudge.
Fudge mixture below, and cookie dough mixture above.
Fudge mixture below, and cookie dough mixture above.

For the cookie dough:

  • 1 c Almond flour
  • 3 T Raw honey
  • 1/4 t Sea salt
  • 1/2 t Pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 T Coconut butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 T Coconut oil, melted

For the fudge:

  • 1/2 c Raw almond or cashew butter (I used almond, but it wasn’t raw)
  • 1/2 c Coconut butter, softened
  • 1/4 c Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 t Pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t Sea salt
  • 2 T Raw honey
I love licking the spatula and bowl clean! It's one of the best parts. I know, it's a silly self-portrait, but whatever.
I love licking the spatula and bowl clean! It’s one of the best parts. I know, it’s a silly self-portrait, but whatever.

Directions:

  1. Mix the ingredients for the cookie dough together, then set aside.
  2. Do the same for the fudge.
  3. In an 8×8 pan lined with parchment paper, carefully spread half of the fudge mixture into the bottom. Press all of the cookie dough on top (it doesn’t have to be pretty). Then spread on the last half of the fudge.
  4. Refrigerate for a couple hours or until firm. Cut into square size of choice.
Dessert anyone?
Dessert anyone?
Look at that cookie dough layer!
Look at that cookie dough layer!

Cocoa Mint Holiday Truffles

chocolate mint holiday trufflesThese taste like the holidays — minty and chocolatey. They’re different than your typical truffle — a bit more firm, but they are a tasty holiday treat, and great to bring to a party. In fact, I brought these specifically to take to my friend, Laura’s house, over the weekend for a get together she hosted. They were a hit and I also decided that they will be my next seasonal flavor at Cultured Caveman, along with my staple, salted almond bites (find my recipe for these HERE).

If you don’t have coconut butter on hand, I imagine melted coconut oil will work too.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa or cacao powder
  • 1 cup blanched slivered almonds (find HERE)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup softened coconut butter (I used this kind)
  • 1 cup medjool dates, pits removed (about 10-12 large dates)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 tsp peppermint extract (I like this brand) OR 2 drops high-quality peppermint essential oil (where to get good-quality essential oils)

IMG_2360

Directions:

  1. In the food processor, combine the almonds, cocoa powder, coconut and sea salt. Pulse until well combined.
  2. Next add the pitted dates, coconut butter and peppermint extract or peppermint essential oil. Blend until well combined. You may need to add half the dates, pulse, and then add the remaining. If needed, add more dates and coconut butter for added stickiness or sweetness.
  3. Once everything is mixed together well and there are no large chunks, dump the mixture into a large bowl. (Note: mixture may seem crumbly, but will stick together once you pack it. If it’s still too crumbly, try more dates and/or coconut butter as I mentioned above.).
  4. Roll into 1-inch balls (tablespoon-size) and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. Alternatively, you can pack the mixture down into an 8×8 pan and cut into squares. These will keep for a 2-3 weeks in the fridge. You can freeze them as well.

Total time: 20 minutes + time for truffles to chill

Yields: ~24 pieces

My mom got me this lovely plate on her recent trip to Austria. There's a little deer painted on the middle of the plate too. I love it!

Raw Pecan Fudge Brownies

After over one year on the SCD (specific carbohydrate diet), I decided to officially try something on the illegal foods list. It’s something that I’ve been dying to try and have yet to understand why it’s an SCD-illegal food … unsweetened cocoa powder. It’s not starchy, a grain, sugar or soy, etc. So why? Why unsweetened cocoa powder? I know of others who adhere to the SCD, but have tried cocoa powder and felt fine, and since it’s been over one year for me, I thought I’d try too. If you’re lost on what I’m talking about because you haven’t read my ‘About Me’ or health story (links to my health story are listed in ‘About Me’), I suggest you go check it out, so that you’re up to par. If not, then just roll with the punches.

I got the idea for these brownies from my boss at Recreate Fitness. Last week, she brought in a batch of raw brownies that she made and shared them with others at the gym. She apologized that I couldn’t try one (not even a little bite!) because she said she added oats to them to cut back on the amount of nuts. She told me the oats were the only ingredient that I wouldn’t be able to have, and that they can be made without. I took it upon myself to check out her recipe and make it my own (note: she’s also a food blogger and creates some beautiful dishes; beautiful photography too). The result? Fudgy, bittersweet, nutty and moist.

So far, so good on the cocoa test too, but I’m not pushing it. I don’t eat more than two tiny pieces a day and understand that symptoms can take up to four days to set in, so I’m definitely paying attention to how I feel (though I generally do anyway). Again though, I’m not too worried about cocoa powder. It seems pretty harmless, which is why I decided to try it. I don’t plan on trying any other SCD-illegal foods anytime soon and to be honest, I’m scared of trying things like yams/sweet potatoes, turnips, plantains, etc. All that starch kinda terrifies me and the potential hazards it could cause in my GI tract. I’m happy to continue staying away from such foods for a while still.

Ingredients:

  • 8 plump medjool dates, pitted
  • 1-1/4 cups pecan pieces
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Directions:

  1. Place 1 cup pecans in the food processor and blend until mixture is finely ground.
  2. Next, add the dates and pulse until dates are broken up and somewhat combined with the pecan flour.
  3. Add the avocado, vanilla, sea salt and cocoa powder. Blend well until all ingredients are mixed together. The mixture will be very thick and sticky.
  4. Scrape mixture into a large bowl and mix in the remaining 1/4 cup pecans.
  5. Pat mixture into a small pan (I used a 5×7 Pyrex dish, an 8×8 pan works too). Sprinkle and pat down additional pecan pieces on top, if desired.
  6. Place in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to set. This will make it easier to slice the brownies.
  7. Serve with a dusting of cocoa powder, if desired.