2.13.2017

Cocoa vs Cacao


Cocoa vs Cacao. What is the difference and why does it matter?  

The difference is in the processing.  They start out at the same place, but the way they are processed can make a difference in the health benefits.    

Raw cacao powder is made by cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans. The process keeps the living enzymes in the cocoa and removes the fat (cacao butter). Cocoa looks the same but it's not. Cocoa powder is raw cacao that's been roasted at high temperatures.

Cacao powder contains more fiber and calories than cocoa powder since more of the nutrients from the whole bean are still intact. Cacao is an excellent source of monounsaturated fats, cholesterol-free saturated fats, vitamins, minerals, fiber, natural carbohydrates, and protein that make it an excellent source of nutrients.  

Cocoa powder is produced similarly to cacao except cocoa undergoes a higher temperature of heat during processing. Surprisingly, it still retains a large amount of antioxidants in the process and is still excellent for your heart, skin, blood pressure, and even your stress levels

And what about Dutch-processed?
Dutch-processed cocoa powder (dark cocoa) is cocoa powder that has been processed with an alkalized solution, making it less acidic and much richer in taste. Regular cocoa powder retains a more acidic nature and bitter taste, and is used in baking recipes with baking soda where Dutch-processed cocoa powder is not since it has already been alkalized. Generally speaking your should add a bit of baking powder to recipes that use dutch-processed. Like wise if you are using Dutch-processed to replace a recipe using regular cocoa powder, you will need to add some acid in the form of baking soda, if the recipe doesn't already call for it.  

What do I use?  All of the above!  What should you use?  Food is subjective so I can't say you have to use one particular brand.  I can only share what cocoa powders or cacao that I love in my recipes.  

As you can see from the photo above, all 4 cocoa powders (all from my kitchen) vary in color.  
I can honestly say they are all my favorite but for different reasons.  

Raw Cacao:  I use primarily cacao in smoothies, protein bars, granola, hot chocolate,  I add a spoonful to my Pero (not a coffee drinker).  Oh I should mention that I don't like super sweet hot chocolate.  I generally add a heaping teaspoon to milk or almond milk with only a pinch of coconut sugar and that's it.  I love dark chocolate so why add sugar?  

Cocoa powder: I have picture above my three favorite cocoa powders and they make killer cakes, cookies and ice cream.  
  • Guittard Dutch-processed is fabulous in all of my cake recipes.  I love the dark chocolate flavor.
  • Scharffen Berger cocoa - Be still my heart!  Have you every made a Scharffen Berger Brownie?  Over. The. Top.
  • Valhrona cocoa - Just take a look at the color.  Notice how dark and rich in color it is?  Fabulous in brownies, cakes, cookies, ice cream (oh ya), Have you ever tried a Valhrona Chocolate Bouchon?  Heaven...absolute heaven.  


Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato Cake



Chocolate Mint Brownies



Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Swiss Buttercream



Chocolate Gelato

You will find more chocolate recipes in my recipe index.  I think it's pretty obvious I prefer chocolate cakes.

Have I mentioned chocolate is my favorite food group?



All cocoa powders were purchased from Amazon.

Sources:  One Green Planet, I Quit Sugar, and Paleo Hacks

2.10.2017

Brined Pork Chops with Dijon Fig Glaze for Two


I married a carnivore.  He didn't.  I'm perfectly content being vegetarian, but I can't convert him.
When I do cook meat, I want it to be free of antibiotic, hormone and GMO free.  I was so excited when I came across a site called Butcher Box (this is not a sponsored post).

This is what excited me:

  • Each meat portion was individually wrapped, which means I only have to thaw enough for my husband.
  • Delivered to my door once a month!
  • Grass fed beef that life on pasture.
  • Antibiotic, hormone, and GMO free.
  • I receive cuts of meat that I could never find in Utah, which makes it fun to cook something new.
  • Free range organic chickens.

You can check out their site if you would like to read more about them.  


In my first box I received pork chops.  Something that I haven't cooked in years.  My husband was so excited.  I hope you enjoy this quick and simple recipe that I created for him.

The pork is first brined.  Soaking the pork in a brine not only adds flavor but makes it incredibly juicy.  Brining is a wonderful way to get succulence out of any lean meat.  This step can be skipped, but I highly recommend it.  You will just need to think ahead.



For the brine you will need: 
4 cups water
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons coconut sugar, or brown sugar
zest from one orange
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole allspice berries
1 sprig fresh rosemary
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 pork chops


For the fig glaze:
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 tablespoon grainy Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fig jam
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (not pictured, whoops)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, optional

 

In small sauce pan add 2 cups water, salt, and coconut sugar.  Bring to a simmer and stir until salt and sugar is dissolved.


Pour the hot mixture into a dish or other brining container and add the remaining 2 cups cold water.


Add the orange zest and other brining herbs and spices.


Cool Completely.


Add pork chops to the cooled brine.


Cover and refrigerate.  Allow the pork chops to brine for at least 4 hours.  Because these pork chops are thin cut, I only brined for 4 hours.  If  they were a very thick cut, I would brine overnight.


When ready to cook, remove pork from the brine.  Dry the meat with a paper towel and allow to drain while you heat the pan.

Place a large skillet the the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.
 

Once the skillet has preheated in the oven, carefully remove and place on a cook top over medium-high heat.

Add about a tablespoon of olive oil or coconut oil.  Add pork chops to the hot pan.


Once they have browned, turn them over and brown the other side.

Return the skillet and pork chops back into the 400 degree oven and cook for about 6 minutes for thin cut about 12-15 minutes for a 2-inch thick chop.


Remove skillet from oven and remove pork chops to a plate and tent with foil.

Add 1/2 cup white wine to the pan.  Bring to a simmer while scraping all those wonderful bits from the bottom of the pan.  Reduce slightly then add 1/2 cup chicken stock.  Reduce by half.


Stir in 1 tablespoon fig jam and 1/2 tablespoon grainy Dijon. Stir until the jam has melted.  Add 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar just to give it a little splash of flavor.


Turn heat off and stir in butter, if you'd like a richer and slightly thicker glaze.  This is optional, but delish.

Pour glaze over pork chops and serve.  This cooking process should take less than 15 minutes.  This is a quick and easy meal.  After the brining, of course.


The Carnivore likes potatoes on the side.  I like a big bunch of steamed broccolini.




Brined Pork Chops with Dijon Fig Glaze for Two

Brine: 
4 cups water
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons coconut sugar, or brown sugar
zest from one orange
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole allspice berries
1 sprig fresh rosemary
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 pork chops
1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil

Glaze:
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 tablespoon grainy Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fig jam
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar 
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, optional

In small sauce pan add 2 cups water, salt, and coconut sugar.  Bring to a simmer and stir until salt and sugar is dissolved.  Pour the hot mixture into a dish or other brining container and add the remaining 2 cups cold water.  Cool completely.  Add pork chops to the cooled brine. Place in refrigerator and allow chops to brine for at least 4 hours or more for thick cut.

When ready to cook, remove pork from the brine.  Dry the meat with a paper towel and allow to drain while you heat the pan. Place a large skillet the the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.  Once the skillet has preheated in the oven, carefully remove and place on a cook top over medium-high heat.  Add oil to hot skillet and brown chops on both sides.  Don't fully cook, just brown them then return to 400 degree oven and bake for 6 minutes.  Return the skillet to a burner set on medium heat.  Place pork chops and a plate and tent with foil.

Add white wine to the hot skillet and deglaze the pan, scraping up any bits on the bottom.  Add chicken stock and reduce by half.  Stir in Dijon, fig jam and vinegar.  Stir until jam has melted.  Turn off heat and stir in butter, if desired.  Pour glaze over pork chops.  Serves 2


Print recipe


1.27.2017

Chocolate Hazenlnut Ice Cream (Vegan)

 

I realize it doesn't make any sense to do an ice cream post when it's frigid outside.  The truth is I wanted to post this recipe for my son and his wife (you're welcome, Ry).  The other reason is that I'm in that Valentine Chocolate mood.  You won't believe that it is dairy and egg free.  It's just as creamy as any dairy based ice cream that I make.  I happen to have some Lactose intolerant members of my family along with a couple that are vegan.  This recipe keeps everyone happy.  Best of all my husband can't tell the difference and we aren't going to tell him...are we?

My next post will be on the difference between cocoa powder and cacao powder.  Is there a difference and which one should you use in recipes?  You'll have to stay tuned for next weeks post for the answer.  For this recipe I will be using raw cacao powder for health and taste reasons.  I love it!


All you will need is a blender and an ice cream maker.

You will need:
2 (14-oz) cans of coconut milk (do not use lite)  
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
3/4 cup cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons agave 
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped



In a blender or a mixer add the coconut milk, cacao powder, cane sugar, salt, vanilla and agave.


Turn blender on slowly until mixture is pretty much mixed together.  Then turn it to medium/high speed and continue to mix for 1-2 minutes to allow for the sugar to dissolve.


Pour into a container and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.


When ready to freeze remove mixture from the refrigerator and pour into your ice cream maker.  If you are using a container that needs to be frozen, remember to freeze a good 24 hours.  Then follow the manufacturers directions for your particular machine.





Add chopped hazelnuts.  You can add more or less that the amount I use.  Continue to run ice cream maker just until nuts are mixed in.


Scoop ice cream into a container and freeze until ready to serve.  I personally like the soft texture that it is just as it completes freezing.  If making ahead, plan on letting the ice cream sit out at room temp for about 10 minutes to soften a bit.  Coconut ice cream freezes harder than dairy ice cream.


Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream (Vegan)
2 (14-oz) cans of coconut milk (do not use lite)
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
3/4 cup cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons agave
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped

Place all of the ingredients in a blender, except for the hazelnuts.  Slowly turn on blender until the mixture comes together.  Increase the speed to medium/high and blend for 1-2 minutes to help dissolve the sugar and make everything nice and creamy.  Pour into bowl and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.

Freeze in an ice cream machine and follow the directions for your particular manufacturer. Once the ice cream has frozen, remove to another container and place in the freezer.  Eat right away or freeze for later use.  Makes 1 1/2 quarts.

Inspired by Bi-Rite Creamery

Print recipe


Here is a behind the scenes shot with my daughter holding the ice cream.  Yes, she is wearing sandals and a down coat and yes, she is in the snow.  We're crazy.  Such fun.

I shoot most of my pictures in my garage because I really like the lighting. It was probably 20 degrees outside while shooting.  The up side is that my ice cream didn't melt...at all! No dripping.  No putting the ice cream back in the freezer to reset.  The ice cream stayed the perfect.  


1.19.2017

Coconut Quinoa Lentil Soup or Superfood Soup


I have a two fold mission with this post.  1) I want to share this soup that is filled with Superfoods and will make you feel fabulous on a cold, gray day.  2) I'm using an electric pressure cooker so show you how wonderful they are and the health benefits of using this wonder pot.

Bare with me.  I want to share just a fraction of the health benefits of the superfoods in this soup. (If your're not interested, then just scroll down)

Fennel:  heart health, excellent source of vitamin C, B6, fiber and potassium
Ginger:  anti-inflammatory, boosts immunity
Turmeric:  anti-inflammatory, greatly increases the anti-oxidant capacity of the body.
Coconut Milk:  Improves heart health, can help you lower cholesterol levels and improve blood                                     pressure.
Cauliflower:  1 serving contains 77% of recommended daily serving of vitamin C.  Anti-                                            inflammatory, fight cancer, boost heart health, helps body detox, anti-oxidants.
Garlic:  Can combat sickness, including common cold, anti-oxidant, detox body.
Kale:  1 cup = 36 calories and 0 fat, high in fiber, high in vitamins K, A, C, and calcium. Filled with              powerful anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatory.
Curry Powder:  Ease pain and inflammation, boost bone health, protect immune system from bacterial inflammation.

BAM!!  That's pretty powerful soup.  


Lentils and quinoa are great sources of plant based protein.  Because I eat very little meat, I lean on these sources for protein in my diet.  

1 cup lentils, cooked, contains 18 grams protein.  Not to mention a great source of fiber.
1/2 cup quinoa, cooked, contains 7-9 grams of protein.


Here is a list of the abundance of superfoods found in this hearty soup:

1 medium onion, chopped
3 celery stalks and leaves, chopped
1 cup fennel, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder, such as Madras
1 teaspoon salt if using unsalted stock
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon fresh turmeric, grated  (can sub with 1 1/2 tsp. powdered)
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 14 oz can organic coconut milk
1/3 cup quinoa (any color)
1/3 cup green lentils
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 head cauliflower, broken apart
1 1/2 cups curly leaf kale, finely chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped 
salt and pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste


I'm going to use my electric pressure cooker to cook this soup.  This soup can be simmered in a large pot on a cook top easily.  If you haven't checked in a pressure cooker, maybe now you will be inspired to check it out and save your pennies for a purchase.  This is not a sponsored post at all.  I love this toy!  I can go on and on about how wonderful this is, but I won't.  Let me just say one of the greatest inventions I own.  This electric pressure cooker is so simple to use.  It's not at all like those old fashioned cookers that need to be monitored at all times to prevent them from blowing up.  No this.  Turn it on and walk away.  

Why have a pressure cooker?  So many reasons, but for now let me just say there are great health benefits of using a pressure cooker.  Basically food it uses "steam under pressure".  Foods stay moist.They are literally bathed in steam as they cook.  Less water comes in contact with your food to leach away vitamins and minerals.  

Let's get to the soup.


In the pan of an electric pressure cooker add, 1 medium onion, 3 stalks of celery, 1 cup fennel, and 1 tablespoon garlic.  All chopped.


Add 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger.  Sometimes I add more because I love ginger.


Add 1 tablespoon fresh grated turmeric.  If fresh isn't available use 1 teaspoon dried.

Note:  This stuff stains.  I think my fingers and fingernail polish are permanently stained gold.


Add 1/3 cup green lentils.


1/3 cup quinoa.  Any color.


1 teaspoon hot curry powder.  Mild may be used as well.


Add 6 cups vegetable stock.  You can use bone broth as well.  I am a firm believer in the healing powers of bone broth.  Chicken stock would work great.  I would only use homemade stock.  Just for health purposes.  I like to know what is in my stock and I can control the sodium amount.


Add 1 14-oz can of organic coconut milk.


Stir.


Lock on the lid of the pressure cooker.


Set the pressure to high and timer for 15 minutes.  Walk away.

Now, when the timer goes off there is still a lot of pressure built up in the cooker.  That pressure needs to release.  Follow the directions on your cooker to release the steam.  You can let it release on its own, but you have to take into account the food inside will still continue to cook.


Once the pressure is released, remove the lid.  Perfectly cooked veggies, lentils and quinoa.


Because I like my carrots cooked less, I am adding them after the other veggies have cooked.


Same with the cauliflower.

I let the soup simmer another 5-10 minutes to slightly cook the carrots and cauliflower.



Squeeze in the juice of 1/2 a lime.


I want my soup to have a little more kick.  After processing I adjust heat and flavor.  Add a teaspoon of salt a few grinds of pepper and a pinch of cayenne.


This is how I get kale into my husband.  He hates it...for no reason other than it's healthy.  So I chop curly leaf kale very fine so it looks like parsley.  Bam!  He now has kale in his soup.  Because he's mental about foods, he generally eats it because he "thinks" its parsley.  "Let me put a little parsley on that for you, Dear".


Chop about 1/4 or so cilantro. He's good with cilantro, but I mix it with the kale so he thinks the kale could be cilantro.

Don't worry, my secret isn't out.  He never reads my blog.


Add chopped kale and cilantro to the soup then serve.

 

I LOVE this soup and all the health benefits that come with it. Perfect for a cold and snowy day.

 

I'm eating a lot of soups this winter to stay healthy.  I want to share a couple of recipes that I'm using daily to help guard against illness during the winter months.  

  • I love this tonic by Bondi Harvest it's called Turmeric Tonic Tea I drink this every morning before I eat.  It's got a kick.  Brace yourself.  I love it.
  • For immunity I take a spoonful of  Elderberry Syrup from The Kitchen McCabe.  Sometimes I add this syrup to my Turmeric Tonic.  
I hope you visit both of these wonderful blogs.  You will find many other wonderful healthy recipes on these two sites.  


Stay warm and healthy and take care of yourself this winter.  Eat well.
Let me know if you'd like more pressure cooker recipes.  I love playing with this toy.


Coconut Quinoa Lentil Soup

1 medium onion, chopped
3 celery stalks and leaves, chopped
1 cup fennel, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder, such as Madras
1 teaspoon salt if using unsalted stock
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon fresh turmeric, grated  (can sub with 1 1/2 tsp. powdered)
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 14 oz can organic coconut milk
1/3 cup quinoa (any color)
1/3 cup green lentils
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 head cauliflower, broken apart
1 1/2 cups curly leaf kale, finely chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped 
salt and pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste

Pressure cooker directions:
Place onion, celery, fennel, curry powder, salt (if desired), ginger, turmeric, quinoa, lentils and stock into the pressure cooker pot.  Process on high pressure for 15 minutes.  Allow pressure to release for 5 minutes or so then manually release.  Add carrots and cauliflower and continue to simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Add kale, cilantro and any seasonings you would like.  Kick up the heat.  I dare you!

Stove top directions:
Add 1-2 tablespoons olive oil to a pot.  Add onion, celery, fennel, and carrots.  Cook until onions are translucent.  Add stock, coconut milk, curry powder, ginger and turmeric.  Cover and simmer until veggies, lentils and quinoa are cooked.  Approx. 30 - 40 minutes.  Add cauliflower and simmer until a bit soft. Before serving add kale, cilantro and additional seasonings. You may have to add more liquids because as the soup simmers the liquids may evaporate with the steam.