To all my fellow chocolate lovers out there, I can't wait to share these delicious little treats with you!
I created these healthy versions of the Reese peanut butter cups for a dessert night demonstration I recently did. They were such a hit that I felt they needed to be shared with more people!
My chocolate nut butter cups are a very simple make ahead holiday dessert that you can pop into the freezer and pull out when you have friends over for coffee, place on your holiday cookie platter or save for your own sanity snacking when the Christmas to do list becomes overwhelming.
If you don't normally use cacao butter you might be wondering what it is and where to find it. Cacao butter is what is typically used in vegan raw chocolate making to give it that creamy taste and texture. Cacao butter is the creamy fat that is extracted from the beans of the cacao tree. Also known as cocoa butter, it can be used in cooking and baking but also as a beauty product (moisturizer, lip balm, stretch mark cream, edible massage, etc.). It is rich in healthy fats and vitamin E, which is an important vitamin for the functioning of the nervous system.
Cacao butter can be hard to find at your regular grocery store. In my community I have found it at both Nature's Fare and Bulk Barn. You want to make sure you purchase it organically as cacao is a heavily sprayed food.
Chocolate Nut Butter Cups
Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free
Makes approx. 24 mini cups
-3/4 cup coconut oil
-4.5 Tbsp cacao butter
-1 & 1/8 cup organic cocoa powder
-1/2 cup maple syrup
-a heaping 1/4 tsp sea salt (plus more for topping)
-1/2cup nut or seed butter (almond, peanut, sunflower, etc.)
-1Tbsp maple syrup
-sea salt to taste
-mini cupcake liners
1.Make a double boiler (a bowl placed over a pot of simmering water). Melt the coconut oil and cacao butter. Add the maple syrup and whisk to combine. When all mixed, remove from heat. Mix in the cocoa powder and salt. Adjust sweetness/saltiness according to taste.
2.Pour just enough chocolate into each cupcake liner so that there is a thin layer on the bottom. You should use less than half the chocolate, the rest will be used for later. Place in freezer for 15 minutes to set.
3.Make the filling. Mix all the ingredients together. Adjust for taste.
4.Spoon about 1tsp of filling into your hands. Roll it into a ball and flatten with your palm to be just a bit smaller than the size of the cupcake liner.
5.Remove liners from freezer. Place a disc of nut butter in each liner. Drizzle the rest of the chocolate on top to cover all the nut butter discs. Sprinkle salt on top to garnish.
6.Place in freezer for about one hour to set. Once ready, these can be stored in the freezer or in the fridge in a sealed container.
Love and light, xo
By now you have probably figured out whether or not your hormones are out of whack. Fatigue, emotional ups and downs, trouble falling/staying asleep, PMS, sore breasts around your cycle, the need for caffeine to stay awake, overly oily/dry/acne prone skin, menopausal symptoms, irritability and infertility are all linked to hormones that are not in alignment.
Hopefully you have been able to implement some changes to your diet and life that are helping you to balance your hormones. Foods that cleanse and support the liver (cruciferous vegetables, bitter foods, etc.), maca root, deep belly breathing and morning lemon water are all good starts to getting your hormones in check (for more information on hormone balancing see here).
But I want to give you another tool to help your body come back and stay in alignment.
It's called seed cycling.
Seed cycling can help you balance your hormones so that your menstrual cycle can balance out, you can gain more energy, your skin can become smooth and conception can happen (if that is your goal).
And guess what? It's really easy. With seed cycling you will be rotating different seeds during your cycle to support optimal hormonal balance. The vitamins, nutrients and oils in seeds help support your body's creation, release and metabolism of hormones. The lignans in the seeds help bind excess estrogen and the omega 3's help keep the hormones in balance.
The seeds used in seed cycling are flax, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds. Flax seeds in particular have been shown to lengthen the luteal phase and result in a less likely chance that you will not ovulate. The zinc in pumpkin seeds helps the body release progesterone, as well as the zinc in sesame seeds. The selenium in sesame seeds also helps the body release progesterone. Try to seed cycle for about three months, or longer, for optimal results.
How To Seed Cycle
During your Menstrual (when you menstruate) and Follicular Phase (the few days following menstruation) :
Consume 1Tbsp raw ground Flax Seeds and 1Tbsp raw ground Pumpkin Seeds daily
During your Ovulatory (just after the follicular phase when you release an egg) and Luteal Phase (the phase following ovulation):
Consume 1Tbsp raw ground Sesame Seeds and 1Tbsp raw ground Sunflower Seeds daily
Grind your seeds in a clean coffee grinder or mini food processor every morning, or if you are short on time, grind your seeds for a few days worth and store them in the fridge to keep them fresh. As with any food, it is best to buy your seeds organically. This lessens the chance that your hormones will be disrupted by hormone disrupting chemicals found on and in conventional foods.
An easy way to eat your seeds every day is to consume them at breakfast. Sprinkle them on your oatmeal, put them in your smoothies/smoothie bowls or on top of your yogurt. You can also sprinkle them on your salads or blend them into energy balls.
Love and light xo,
Are you one to turn to pumpkin spice lattes once the air turns crisp and the leaves start changing colors?
I am too, however, I'm not really a coffee drinker and I usually feel ill after drinking most latte type drinks from coffee shops as they contain high amounts of sugar, caffeine and chemicals. I recently created this healthified version for Moga Moms and am very pleased because it also helps balance horomes!
And seriously, who doesn't need help with that these days?
Feel free to scroll down to make this drink right away so you can get cozied up, put on your slippers, snuggle in your comfy chair and read what I am about to tell you about balancing your hormones naturally.
Ok so first let's talk about what it should feel like to have balanced hormones:
Sound like you? Maybe some of it, but probably not all of it I bet. Most of us have some sort of hormonal imbalance (including men and women at all stages of life). Maybe this sounds more like you:
So why are we all walking around with these hormonal imbalances in the first place?
Well first we have to acknowledge that our planet is full of chemicals. Pesticides on our food, toxins in the air, chemicals in our drinking water. We slather ourselves in chemical laden beauty products and use toxic cleaners in our homes.
The toxins that we absorb through our skin, lungs and digestive tracts disrupt our hormones. They stress our bodies. Hectic jobs and our never ending to do lists also stress out our bodies and throw them out of whack. Something else throwing our bodies out of whack? Birth control pills. BC pills create hormonal imbalances, especially for women who have been on them for years. The hormones in BC pills (as well as hormones for HRT) end up in our water supply so people who aren't taking them are still unknowingly absorbing them.
Something to note: when I talk about hormones I'm not just talking about estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. We have many different hormones in our bodies interacting with each other and keeping things regular (or trying to). Reproductive, adrenal, intestinal, digestive, thyroid and liver hormones are all working in your body.
But one of the hormones that really gets thrown out of whack is estrogen. Have you heard of estrogen dominance?
Estrogen dominance happens because of a number of different environmental factors including pesticides, chemicals in the air, hormones in meat, petrochemical compounds found in consumer products (think shampoo, makeup, lotion, etc.), car exhaust, plastics, industrial solvents, estrogen from urine of women taking HRT and birth control pills, stress, obesity, caffeine, deficiency of nutrients B6, folate and magnesium among many other things.
Symptoms that may signal an estrogen imbalance are: heavy bleeding during periods, clotting, fibroids, swollen or tender breasts, endometriosis or painful periods, abnormal pap smears, PMS, mood swings, trouble sleeping, memory issues, cold hands or feet and hair loss.
If you are estrogen dominant or believe you have any kind of a hormonal imbalance you need to consume foods that support balanced hormones and foods that help detox excess hormones.
Before we discuss what kinds of foods these might be, there is one other thing to note. Sometimes our own hormones can act as toxins as well.
Let's take adrenaline for example. We pump out adrenaline when we become stressed. Have you heard of fight or flight? If we were to encounter a bear in the woods we would make adrenaline to either fight the bear of flee. Once the danger has passed our body should be able to stop making the adrenaline. But because we are living in a world where we are stressed out all the time our body doesn't stop making adrenaline. So whether it is a bear you are encountering or the demands of everyday life, our bodies are all having trouble shutting the adrenaline production off. When our body can't shut adrenaline production off it becomes a toxin that our body has to try to get rid of.
So what are we going to do about it? How are we going to balance our hormones naturally and start to feel better? How do we get more energy, lessen the PMS, sleep better, improve our appearance and have level emotions?
Let's start with some key foods. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, bok choy), fibre (specifically soluble fibre from apples, oatmeal and ground flax), bitter foods (dandelions, collard greens), sulfur rich foods (onions and garlic), green tea and fermented foods (kimchi, sauerkraut, tamari, sourdough) all help to improve the liver/digestive/intestinal organs to help with the detox of excess hormones. Sea vegetables help balance the thyroid which helps balance cholesterol leveles (related to healthy hormones) so ensure you are getting these as well.
Maca root powder and schizandra berry are very helpful with hormone balancing as is milk thistle. Maca tastes good when added to chocolatey foods or avocado (like a chocolate smoothie or guacamole) and schizandra berry is good with citrus. You can get milk thistle as a tea.
Lemon/ginger water in the morning helps to detox the body first thing and stimulate the digestive system. Infrared saunas, dry skin brushing and certain essential oils can help with detoxification of excess hormones. Activities that help release stress such as yoga and meditation, taking a hot bath or simply doing things that make you feel good can help release stress. Deep breathing also helps to release stress and promotes detoxification.
And how can you avoid hormonal imbalance in the first place? Try to limit your toxic exposure. Use natural beauty products, make your own household cleaners, eat certified organic foods and drink purified water.
Following these tips can help get your hormones back on track and get you feeling really good again. In the meantime, check out this steamer recipe below for a fall drink that feels good and is good for you too.
Pumpkin Pie Maca Steamer
1.5 cups plant based milk (almond, coconut, rice. etc.)
1/2 tsp maca root powder
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp coconut oil
2 Tbsp maple syrup (or more/less to taste)
1/2 tsp vanilla
Place all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium low heat, whisking frequently. Remove from heat when milk starts to simmer. Pour in a mug and enjoy!
Love and light xo,
How often do you go on a "diet" only to fail a week later because you can't resist that sugary doughnut staring at you from the bakery counter? "Well I've cheated now, might as well just have another one" you say to yourself as you sadly eat the rest of the box.
Does this sound like you? Do you feel like a failure? Do you never seem to be able to complete a "diet"?
Well good news for you, because I don't believe in diets.
And I am about to tell you the secret of how to eat healthy but also indulge when you want to without creating negative consequences on your body and your mind.
It's called the 80/20 rule.
But first, let's talk about why I don't believe in diets.
They are not practical.
If you were on a diet and I were to ask you, "are you going to eat this way for the rest of your life?" what would you say? I am guessing you would say no.
Most diets have you doing some crazy things but when you can't sustain the diet anymore or you go off the diet the chances are pretty good that your "bad habits" will sneak back in and you will start eating the way you did before you went on your diet.
Let's take the Ketogenic Diet for example. The Keto Diet is a fad diet right now that has people restricting carbohydrates so that the body will turn fat into ketones to use as energy.
The problem is, we need carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are sugar (both simple carbs and complex carbs). Our body needs sugar to run and give us energy and supply sugar to our brains to function properly.
What happens when you aren't eating any carbs? You are eventually going to crave them because your body needs them to function (and you will probably crave the simple carbs a.k.a white sugar because it will give you the quickest boost of energy).
You can only burn fat to use as energy for so long.
Then your body will start losing muscle and you will experience fatigue and will eventually enter into starvation mode. Yes you might lose a lot of weight quickly (however the fat loss is most likely water loss), but you are doing long term damage to your body (especially your heart) in the process.
Let's not do that ok?
Instead lets talk about my 80/20 rule. It's simple. Focus on healthy eating 80% of the time and the other 20% indulge in the things you really enjoy eating.
When we are eating things that are good for our body 80% of the time they can handle 20% of naughty foods and be ok. It's when the scale is tipped more in favour of junk that our bodies struggle to process the junk foods.
I am a realist. I know that you go out for dinner. I know that you like to eat cookies while watching a movie on a Friday night. I know that sometimes you are too exhausted to cook and you order in pizza. I know that sometimes you stand in your pantry and sneak chocolate and hide from your kids when you're having a really bad day (wait, maybe that's just me?!).
I know all of this because despite being a nutritionist I am a human and a mom and I don't eat "perfectly" all the time. NO ONE DOES (not even the hippiest, plant loving, green juice drinking, vegan out there)!
If you're someone who has tried diet after diet and is constantly restricting yourself and depriving yourself of things you want, and then shaming yourself when you do eat those things, try it my way and see how you feel.
What I tell my clients is to focus on the healthy foods they are eating (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, lean meats) rather than thinking about all the things they are "missing out" on. Add more of these healthy foods to your diet and you will notice there isn't as much room for the naughty foods. When your diet is mostly whole foods you can have chips or a slice of cake without it being detrimental to your health.
When you do get a big sugar craving, try eating a natural sugar first. Dates, fresh fruit, baked sweet potato, honey (natural sugars make amazing desserts, have you tried my raw vegan cheesecake?!). Chances are it's your body's way of telling you that you A: are not eating enough carbohydrate, B: that you aren't eating often enough (every 2-3hours) or c: both. Start to decipher when it's your body telling you it needs sugar for fuel and when it just wants to taste that cronut.
And for those of my women out there who are desperately trying to conceive, this applies to you too. You don't have to never look at sugar again, quit drinking alcohol for good, make disgusting green concoctions that you know are good for you but make you gag and be miserable. Indulging a bit here and there is not going to make your chances of conceiving go down, I promise.
The media has made healthy eating out to be super complicated, making people think they need to do crazy diets to achieve the goal they want (weight loss, clear skin, improved energy, etc.) and then when the diet doesn't work the person feels like they have failed. When really it is the media who has failed you.
I am here to tell you that it is simple. Eat plants, most of the time, enjoy a treat when you really want it and be happy. That's it :)
My Chocolate Almond Smoothie is an awesome drink for when you want a sweet fix but is made with all natural sugars. It tastes naughty but it is entirely nutritious.
Chocolate Almond Smoothie
1.5 frozen bananas
3 Medjool dates, pitted
2 Tbsp almond butter
2 Tbsp organic cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups almond milk
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Love and Light xo,