Happy Wednesday, everyone! This being my first What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW) post sponsored by Peas and Crayons, I wanted to kick it off to a good start, especially because I’ve been going off my healthy eating path and WIAW is a good incentive to get back on track. I’ve been eating  less healthy greens and eating more snacky stuff this past week and I noticed a HUGE dip in my energy level in the afternoons. Normally I’d see my husband yawning in the afternoon, but this time it was ME who felt tired, lazy and just wanted to drink coffee to help get me through. Although I still made healthy dinners and lunches, I ate less of the good and more of the bad.

I notice how much better I feel when I eat primarily veggies, even better with raw veggies (the Blood Type Diet says a diet focusing on vegetables are beneficial for A-types like me.) I try to do at least 80 percent veggies/legumes/fruits when I prepare my meals, which isn’t that difficult, but I’d like to increase the raw veggie consumption, as well.

To start off, I had a Chocolate Avocado Smoothie  for breakfast. The fruits and veggies are raw, the “seasonings” are not, but it’s a heck of a lot better than a toaster pastry!

Don't let the chocolatey goodness fool you, this shake contains vegetables!

For lunch I ate a ground-up nut mixture that contained carrots, celery, onions, garlic, and seasoning. I’m avoiding wheat products this week, so I wrapped it in lettuce leaves and had it with Gouda cheese:

My afternoon snack were these incredibly indulgent and almost raw Fudgy Espresso Bites (see delicious recipe below):

Instant espresso enhances the dark chocolate flavor of these fudgy cocoa bites.

For dinner I made veggie chicken soup, which is great when you’re trying to clear the fridge to make room for more fresh veggies! I seasoned this batch with Spike:

Veggies, pearl barley and chunks of chicken make this a hearty and flavorful soup.

Dessert was an almost raw Key Lime Avocado Pie:

Tart, light and refreshing!

And now here’s the Fudgy Cocoa Bites recipe, inspired by The Rawtarian’s incredibly delicious Raw Chocolate Cake recipe:

Fudgy Cocoa Bites

Ingredients:

1 cup almonds, soaked 2 hours or overnight in fridge
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, soaked 2 hours or overnight in fridge
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, soaked 2 hours or overnight in fridge
1/2 cup dates, chopped
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (not sure if this qualifies as raw since the alcohol is distilled?)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup agave sweetener (for Ginger Cocoa Bites, please see instructions below and make syrup first.)

Instructions:

After soaking all the seeds and nuts, drain thoroughly. Add to food processor and process until finely ground. Add dates,  cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt. Process until mixed thoroughly and date pieces are chopped fine. Slowly drizzle in agave (or open the top and pour agave in, this way there’s less syrup stuck to the bottom) and process until mixture forms a ball.

Form dough into teaspoon-sized truffle bites, press into mini muffin tins or candy molds. Dust with extra cocoa powder if desired. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm up then remove carefully. (I’m not sure what the longest is you should store them for, but I’ve had mine in the fridge for a couple weeks and have been nibbling on them daily.)

Ginger Cocoa Bites: (I got the ginger syrup recipe from The Veggie Nook’s Lime Cornmeal Pancake recipe, but instead of maple syrup I used agave…and added a LOT of ginger! This is so delicious I keep a stash of this handy. Thank you, Gabby!) Ginger syrup –  In a small pan on the stovetop, heat the 1/4 cup agave with 1 tablespoon thinly sliced and chopped ginger. Simmer on LOW HEAT for 3 minutes to reduce the spiciness of the fresh ginger. Turn off heat and cool the syrup while you combine the rest of the ingredients. Drizzle agave syrup and ginger pieces into mixture, process until mixture forms a ball and form into truffles or press into molds.

Espresso Cocoa Bites (my favorite!): add in 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso granules or 1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules and 1/4 teaspoon stevia with cocoa powder. Form into desired shapes, sprinkle with just a pinch of espresso or finely ground coffee granules.

Peanut Butter Cocoa Bites: add 2 tablespoons smooth or creamy “no-sugar” peanut butter before adding agave.

Gluten free, dairy free bite-sized pieces of rich chocolate flavor with an incredible fudgy texture.

Enjoy your Wednesday, and eat well!

Do not adjust your screen, these patties are really purple!

Burgers in any flavor, shape or size is a laid-back kind of food that is as versatile as can be. Some revel in piling their patties high with veggies, bacon, cheeses, pickles and chili, others prefer a modest meal of a savory patty sandwiched between a soft split bun with lettuce and tomato. Any way you make it, burgers are always there to please.

My favorite burger to make involves an Asian sauce called nampla, also known as patis, or fish sauce. It is an incredibly strong fish-smelling sauce that should NOT be used on its own but together with lemon or lime and ginger to brighten up the heavy saltiness. I started making veggie burgers the other night (which actually turned into turkey bean burgers,) and wanted to have that same flavor as my Asian Style Burgers. I thought adding carrots would have have been too sweet, not what I wanted to balance the fish sauce. Since my other burger recipe  was originally accompanied with a cole slaw, I decided to use that chunk of cabbage that was sitting in the fridge for the last ten days. And what made it more fun was that it was purple!

After mixing all the ingredients together I came out with a beautiful purple-colored patty (reminded me of Spongebob’s ‘pretty patties’…kelp fries, anyone?) I fried it up, served it on a salad and this turkey bean burger was just as yummy as the other version, just more fun to look at. In this recipe, feel free to omit the turkey to make it more of a veggie burger, the flavors will still be delicious!

Purple Turkey Bean Burgers
Spice it up with 1/2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes or 1 finely chopped serrano chile. 

1 1/2 cups cooked beans (black, pinto, black-eyed beans)
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1 slice sprouted wheat bread or any kind of bread, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped lemongrass (white parts only, discard tough green parts)
1 3-inch piece fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon fish sauce (unsure option: use 2 teaspoons first then test-fry a patty. Add more if not enough flavor.)
1 cup purple cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 – 2/3 cup raw ground turkey
1/3 cup cooked quinoa or brown rice

In a large bowl, mash beans with a potato masher until few whole pieces remain. Add celery, bread, lemongrass, ginger, nampla and purple cabbage, stirring well to combine. Set aside.

In a large frying pan heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, sautee 1 minute. Add garlic and sautee 1 minute more or until fragrant. Remove from heat, stir in quinoa or brown rice. Add everything to bean mixture, along with raw ground turkey and mix well.

In the same frying pan, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium heat. Form mixture into patties and add to hot pan. Cook for 3 – 4 minutes on each side. Serve on a mixed green salad with tomato and avocado.

Purple patties?? What’ll they think of next, green eggs and ham?!

This recipe has been submitted to Fantastic Frugal Fridayso come on over and check out the other great eats!

Perfect for parties, just layer it, serve it, enjoy it!

Hi, everyone! I’ve been invited to a Linky Party by justafrugalfoodie and I’m bringing the best thing I ate this week, this delightfully delicious avocado key lime parfait! It’s light and creamy, refreshing, and filled with wholesome, nutritous ingredients. One taste of this lip-puckering parfait and you’ll be pleasantly pleased!

Having not grown up with the four seasons, spring is a new experience for me. I always thought winter would be a snow-covered scene until the first day of spring, when the snow would melt on cue, birds would start singing and blossoms would start popping up. I guess it  doesn’t happen exactly like that, but there’s that unmistakable transition to earlier mornings that make me feel better about waking up with the sun.

I saw a cooking show that featured a delicious key lime pie, something that made me yearn for a fresh tasting “hello, spring!” kind of dessert, yet still be comfy and homey-feeling. I love the immediate pick-me-up that the scent of lime and lemons can give you, there’s no other fruit that leaves you feeling more optimistic. Key lime pies are so delicious and refreshing, but can also be overly sweet, cloying, and leave you feeling like, “Blech, I just ate some key lime pie,” instead of “Yay, I just ate some key lime pie!”

I needed a healthier version, and a search for ‘raw key lime pie’ on the internet led me to The Bees Knees Kitchen where her incredibly delicious recipe uses the nutrient-dense avocado as the base. Avocados are a wonderful source of fiber, vitamin E,  potassium, and folate, and also helps your body assimilate fat-soluble nutrients like lutein and alpha- and beta-carotene*. Such a simple recipe with healthy ingredients, no baking, and the fresh, lively citrus certainly satisfies your sour tooth, while the smooth, velvety texture just says ‘comfort food’.

I made a few modifications to the ingredients and served it up parfait-style. I took one parfait to my husband (two spoonfuls lighter, I had to be sure it was up to snuff!) and he enjoyed the tart flavor from the avocado filling as well as the addition of the yogurt-lime topping. What a great dessert to bring into spring!

*source, http://www.avocado.org/avocado-nutrients/

Avocado Key Lime Parfait
This would also make a great breakfast, where the crust can be sprinkled on like granola.

Filling:

2 avocados
1/3 cup key lime juice or lime juice
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon stevia
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
zest of 1 lime

Blend all the ingredients  in a blender until smooth, adding more honey or stevia to taste. Set aside.

Crust:

2/3 cup pecans, walnuts or almonds
2 teaspoons coconut flour or flaked unsweetened coconut
1/3 cup agave syrup
stevia
1 teaspoon lemon zest
pinch of salt

Directions:

For crust texture – Put pecans, coconut flour or flaked unsweetened coconut, stevia, lime zest and salt into a food processor, pulse into crumbs. Process and slowly drizzle in 1/3 cup agave syrup in the chute. To test if done, pinch a small amount between your fingers, crumb mixture should hold. For crumbly topping, don’t pulse as long, but keep larger chunks of nuts for that “granola look.”

Yogurt topping:

1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon agave syrup
1/4 teaspoon stevia
2 tablespoons lime juice

With a spoon, mix all ingredients until well combined, adding more agave to taste.

To assemble:

In a glass cup, layer 1 teaspoon crumb mixture, 1 tablespoon of key lime filling, and 1 teaspoon of yogurt, repeat. Garnish with mint sprigs, lime slice, and coconut flakes. Makes 4 servings.

For Key Lime Avocado Pie: Use 1 cup sunflower seeds and 1/2 cup almonds, soaked for at least 2 hours and drained. In a food processor add nuts, 1 teaspoon stevia, 1 tablespoon agave and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Process until it forms a dough. Press into springform pan lined with wax paper. Press dough 1″ up the sides. Add avocado filling and top with yogurt. Freeze for at least 30 minutes or until firm enough to slice.

 

 

My cat Wolfie loves yogurt, but this snack is for me!

Instead of frosting, top a generous slice of carrot apple ginger cake with tangy goat cheese drizzled with ginger agave syrup.

Hoppy Easter, everyone! I hope you are enjoying your beautiful Easter morning and  celebrating Easter in your own special way. I woke up a little early to test out a cake recipe I’ve only baked once before, and the reason I’ve only baked it once is because of the amount of oil and sugar in the recipe. It’s a delicious cake spiked with freshly grated ginger, and tastes best right out of the oven, but it seems crazy to have 1 1/3 cups of oil in a cake recipe! I wanted to keep the flavor but reduce the fat, so I did a bit of improvising, thanks to a tip from a Cooking Light contest winner over 10 years ago. Instead of using oil or applesauce (as the substitute,) a jar of carrot baby food was used to add moisture. Clever, isn’t it? Hoping it will work with this recipe, I substituted a 6-oz jar of sweet potatoes baby food for almost 1 cup of oil. Because of the added sweetness, I reduced the sugar from 1 1/2 cups to 1 cup. I also added some apples and a little cinnamon, which can be increased if you want a “warmer” flavor, or omitted if you prefer a spicier, ginger taste.

My husband and I had this for Easter breakfast and I was happy to see he went back for seconds! The cake is moist and fragrant, and the tangy goat cheese is the perfect compliment to the light sweetness of the carrot cake . I think I’m ready for another slice…

Carrot Apple Ginger Cake

2 cups spelt flour (or all-purpose flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups shredded carrots
2 cups peeled and chopped apple (about 1 large)
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 6-oz jar sweet potato baby food
4 eggs, lightly beaten
3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated (use a 2-inch piece for less intense ginger)
2/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
goat cheese
ginger agave syrup (inspired by Veggie Nook’s recipe here)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt pan or two 8-inch round cake pans.

In a large mixing bowl, mix dry ingredients until well-combined. In another larger bowl, combine carrots, apple, sugar, oil, sweet potato bay food, eggs and ginger. Add half of dry ingredients to carrot mixture, mix well. Add remaining dry ingredients and combine well, but do not overmix. Sprinkle chopped walnuts or pecans in bottom of bundt pan or two 8-inch round cake pans. Fill pan(s) and bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool and remove cake from pan(s). Top with a dollop of got cheese and drizzle with agave syrup, add extra nuts, if desired.

Cute min-bundt cakes are just the right size for one.

sweet and spicy ginger agave syrup

Mini Turkey Bean Burgers - skip the buns and eat it salad-style. Sammy looks on wistfully.

Whenever we’d get together with friends for a barbecue or potluck, I’d usually bring one of my favorite easy-to-make dishes: turkey burgers. For those who may have had bad experiences in the past, I would like to reassure you that delicious turkey burgers do exist, and, with the right seasoning, anything is possible!

Basic Turkey Burger Mix

1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
1/3 cup diced onions, sauteed with 1 or 2 garlic cloves (omit for Turkey Bean Burgers)
1 piece of bread, cut into small cubes
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil or ghee
Add-in seasoning (below)

Directions: In a bowl, add sauteed onions, garlic, bread cubes, and salt, if using. Toss with fork to distribute evenly. Add the oil or ghee, toss with fork to mix well. Crumble raw turkey into bread & onion mixture and add in one of the seasoning options below. Mix gently until combined. Refrigerate for 2 hours before cooking.

Asian Style Turkey Burgers (most unique) – Omit salt from basic turkey recipe. Add 1 tablespoon nampla (fish sauce); 1″ piece ginger, peeled and grated; 1 stalk lemongrass, white part chopped finely (discard the green part or save to make tea); 1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes . You can serve this with a cole slaw tossed with nampla, fresh lime juice and cilantro.

Indian Spice Turkey Burgers  – 1 tablespoon Indian seasoning mix such as Garam Masala or your own special blend. I like to use  “Chef Johnny’s Korma Powder” from the cookbook, Eat, Taste, Heal. It’s a fragrant blend of cumin, coriander, cloves, cinnamon, fennel, fenugreek, mustard, cardamom, poppy seeds, ginger and tumeric.

Italian Seasoning Turkey Burgers – 2 teaspoons basil, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes or 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning. Add 1/3 cup finely diced or shredded Parmesan cheese.

Bean & Turkey Burgers (my favorite) – 1 cup cooked & drained beans (I use a black & pinto mix), 1/4 cup finely chopped celery, 1/4 cup finely chopped & sauteed onion, 1 teaspoon chili seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Mash everything with a potato masher or mix in a food processor or blender just until beans are smashed and mixture is still chunky (if you over-blend, it’ll turn into a refried bean paste consistency. Still tasty, but the texture will be very different.)