Chocolate Mint Popsicles

These chocolate mint popsicles are creamy and full of mint chip flavor. Not only that, but they’re dye-free, have no refined sugar, include a dose of protein and probiotics, and have vitamins and minerals from the spinach (and natural light green color to boot). They are not your average popsicle. They’re the perfect healthy treat on a hot day and I’ve definitely been enjoying my fair share. I went through two rounds of experimenting with this recipe, so I’ve had a freezer full. No complaints on my end!

In the directions, you’ll notice that I don’t add the chocolate pieces to the blender. It doesn’t work all that well if you do and I know since I tested it this way on my first trial run. The chocolate pieces break up a bit more, but then sink to the bottom, which means you then have to scoop them out by hand.

Meanwhile, I’ll be making these popsicles on KATU Afternoon Live at the end of the month, along with two other flavors (one of which will be for adults only). Stay tuned for those recipes!

Hope everyone had a happy Fourth of July! Cheers!

UPDATE: watch the replay of my KATU Afternoon Live segment HERE.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups coconut cream (I used this brand, which has no gums)
  • 3/4 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt, preferably grass-fed (I used this brand)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp raw honey (use more if you want it sweeter)
  • 3 cups loosely packed fresh spinach
  • 3-4 drops high-quality, dietary-safe peppermint essential oil OR 1/2 tsp peppermint extract (learn where to get therapeutic-grade oils here)
  • 2.5 oz good-quality dark chocolate bar, finely chopped (I used this one, which is lightly sweetened with coconut sugar)

Directions:

  1. To a high speed blender container, add all the ingredients, except the chocolate. Blend on high until smooth.
  2. Pour mixture into popsicle molds, leaving a little space at the top of each mold. Then, disperse chocolate evenly among the molds. Top off with more of the mixture and stir a little with popsicle stick, if desired (chocolate will distribute a bit during freezing though).
  3. Freeze for 6-7 hours or overnight. Once ready, rinse mold under hot water briefly to remove popsicle.

Note: I used these molds, but the Dixie cup & popsicle stick method will do the trick as well. Just put the stick in halfway through freezing. This way, the sticks will stay centered.

Yields: 6 popsicles

 

How to Make 24-Hour Half and Half Yogurt

Berries topped with half and half yogurt. This was our 4th of July dessert this past summer.
Berries topped with half and half yogurt and raw honey. A good 4th of July dessert!

I think most of you know that I do eat some limited sources of dairy. Specifically, homemade 24-hour yogurt and butter/ghee are the only dairy sources I can safely tolerate. In fact, homemade 24-hour yogurt is a major component of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) and the reason I started making it in the first place. Culturing it for 24 hours ensures that all the lactose gets broken down and makes for a nice, sour yogurt. Generally, I make it with organic grass-fed whole milk, but sometimes I make it with pasture-raised half and half when I want something more decadent. The hardest part is waiting for it to culture and then waiting again for it to set overnight in the fridge. I tell you though, it is well worth the wait! This is unlike any yogurt you’ve ever tasted and thick by nature. It’s yogurt fit for the Gods. I enjoy it plain, with fruit or as a dessert garnish (whipped cream).

For this specific recipe, you need a yogurt maker, but there are ways to make homemade yogurt without one too. I know there is an oven method, along with a heating pad method. I can attest that the heating pad method works, but is a pain in the butt if your heating pad automatically shuts off every two hours, like mine. I had to get up a few times in the night to turn the heating pad back on and after this escapade, I bought a yogurt maker. They’re pretty affordable and I’ve definitely gotten more than my money’s worth out of it. Specifically, this recipe uses the Yogourmet electric yogurt maker, so directions may differ slightly if you have another model.

If you don’t tolerate dairy, you can make yogurt with homemade almond milk or full-fat canned coconut milk, but would need to find a source of non-dairy cultures. I do okay with dairy yogurt and cultures, so I’ve never experimented with this, but I know it’s doable.

Click here to read about the importance of 24-hour yogurt in the SCD.

Half and half yogurt with homemade grain-free granola (click for recipe).
Half and half yogurt with homemade grain-free granola (click for recipe).

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Pour the half and half into a large pot and turn burner to medium heat (or just above medium). Clip a thermometer (candy thermometer works) to the side of the pot. Stir the half and half continuously to keep it from sticking or scorching.
  2. Slowly heat the half and half to a simmer while stirring constantly. Turn heat down and continue to simmer for about two minutes. Watch closely and keep stirring, so it doesn’t boil over.
  3. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to 110 degrees F. To speed up this process, you can also place the pot into a sink filled with cold water. When checking the temperature, be sure to stir the half and half first and then test in the middle of the pot, versus on the side. It is very important that it’s not too hot when you add the cultures.
  4. Add yogurt cultures into the yogurt container (mine is one big container) or a large bowl. Scoop a few ladle-fulls of the cooled half and half into the container or bowl. Stir well until the cultures are dissolved. Then, mix back into the pot with the remaining milk.
  5. Pour the milk into the yogurt container and seal with the lid. Add water to the fill line in the yogurt maker and then place the container inside, and cover with the yogurt maker lid. Plug in and culture for 24-30 hours.
  6. Once done, place yogurt in the fridge to chill and firm up. I recommend letting it sit overnight to ensure the yogurt is fully set and chilled.
  7. Enjoy as desired!

Yields: 2 quarts of yogurt

Saturday Sauerkraut Tasting

Firefly Kitchens kraut varieties. (Photo credit: Craving4more.com).
Firefly Kitchens kraut varieties. (Photo credit: Craving4more.com).

Alright, time to backtrack a few days to my Saturday, which I said I’d recap about today. It was a fantastic day and started with a great workout at Recreate in the morning, part of which was outdoors in the sunny weather. Afterward, I picked up a few things at Food Front Co-op, then came home and made a late breakfast, which I ate outside on the patio. Perfection.

Then, I got cleaned up and went to the sauerkraut tasting at Whole Foods that my friend, Ashley was hosting. Ashley is the healthy foods specialist at the Whole Foods store in the Pearl District in Portland and also the blogger behind Craving4more. She writes beautiful and inspiring posts, and definitely has a way with words. Sometimes, she shares fabulous looking recipes too.

Ashley and her wonderful spread at Whole Foods.
Ashley and her wonderful spread at Whole Foods. (Taken on iPhone)

The tasting incorporated a variety of raw, unpasteurized sauerkraut, many of which were from Firefly Kitchens. There was also different dishes to sample that included sauerkraut as an ingredient. I didn’t know there was going to be so much, and was still full from my late breakfast, but managed to sample a little bit. I sampled some Firefly kraut on its own (varieties included Yin Yang Carrots, Cortido, Caraway, and Ruby Red). They were all wonderful and so different, and they ferment for three months! I especially loved the Yin Yang Carrots, which is fermented carrots with ginger. Lucky for me, Ashley gave me a little bit to take home. The other flavors were delicious as well. I got to take home the remaining jar of Caraway too, as well as another brand of raw kraut that had beets, carrots and cabbage in it! Yum, yum.

Look at all that different kraut! (Taken on iPhone)
Look at all that different kraut! (Taken on iPhone)

As for the recipes, I sampled the pecan pate, ruby red beet and kraut atop of mixed greens (I liked eating this with the pate), roasted butternut squash with an almond butter/kimchi sauce and secret brownies, which incorporated sauerkraut into the recipe. These were raw, of course, so the benefits of the sauerkraut were not lost. These were also surprisingly good and you really don’t notice the kraut. My favorite, by far, was the roasted squash. The sauce was just to die for and not only that, but I am a sucker for squash! There was also a smoothie that had kraut in it, but I didn’t taste it since it was made with store-bought almond milk. I only drink homemade almond milk because it doesn’t have things like guar gum, carrageenan, etc., which I need to stay away from. It got a lot of rave reviews from the other attendees though.

My plate with various kraut samples, pecan pate, ruby red beet and kraut atop of greens, butternut squash with almond butter/kimchi sauce, and a raw secret brownie.
My plate with various kraut samples, pecan pate, ruby red beet and kraut atop of greens, butternut squash with almond butter/kimchi sauce, and a raw secret brownie. (Taken on iPhone)

Ashley has done a couple posts this week about the kraut tasting and recipes, so if you’re interested, please go check out her blog. Specifically, check out this post and this post, and also check back again tomorrow, because it looks like she is going to post more of the recipes.

Additionally, Ashley gave some great ideas for eating kraut. For example, use it on tacos, mix with tuna for a jazzed up tuna salad (egg salad too), roll up into a slice of deli meat, use atop of deviled eggs, mix in smoothies, add to salad, etc. The ideas are really endless, just don’t heat it, so as to not kill the live cultures.

Thanks, Ashley for putting on a great event!