4-Ingredient Choco Bites

Looking for a quick and easy way to use almond pulp from making almond milk? Chocolate lovers…look no further. For non-chocoholics, like my Momma, refer to my alternatives at the end.

4-Ingredient Choco Bites:

Starting with the pulp from making almond milk with one cup of almonds… either dehydrate for a few hours or use right away. If using pulp without dehydrating, you may get away with only one banana as there will be leftover moisture from the almond milk.

In a food processor add almond pulp and pulse into flour.

Add:
2 tbsp cacao powder
2 very ripe bananas
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix until well blended. Roll into tbsp sized balls and freeze to allow them to set.

That’s it! So easy.

For those who’d like to try without chocolate:

In place of cacao powder try a few raisins, Medjool dates, or shredded coconut. A few squeezes of lemon juice & lemon zest would be delicious too. Reminds me of lemon coconut bars!

And for my favorite Pinterest findings this weekend…. notice a theme??

Source: flickr.com via Kristen on Pinterest

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Moving On Up!

Literally.

As in I am moving up to….

CANADA!!!!!

I’ve been wanting to write about this for awhile but first wanted to make sure my visa application cleared. Technically it hasn’t… but the paperwork has been sent over and given my lack of a criminal record I expect it to be all good.

Come May I will be packing my car & venturing north to spend the remainder of 2012 working on a biodynamic farm in Acton, Ontario (outside Toronto). I decided to temporarily put grad school on hold & put forth all my energy towards sustainable agriculture.

I am sure many of you are not familiar with biodynamic farming as it’s not common in most everyday conversation. The website for Biodynamics Farming & Gardening Association describes it as such: “Biodynamic farmers strive to create a diversified, balanced farm ecosystem that generates health and fertility as much as possible from within the farm itself. Homeopathic preparations made from manure, minerals and herbs are used to help restore and harmonize the vital life forces of the farm and to enhance the nutrition, quality and flavor of the food being raised. Biodynamic practitioners also recognize and strive to work in cooperation with the subtle influences of the wider cosmos on soil, plant and animal health.” So, those who know me well, can see how perfect of an opportunity this is. Combines just about everything I am passionate about.

So, what will I be doing? Everything a production farm entails. Majority of the season I will be working all day in the gardens producing for their CSA, farmers’ market and on-farm store. Closer to fall, after the height of produce season, I will be able to spend time gaining hands-on experience with the animals. I also hope to dabble in some beekeeping as well as taste some very local, fresh maple syrup straight from the farm.

While I will be sad to temporarily leave all my wonderful friends and the Burgh behind, I cannot wait to get back working the land all day, every day. My hopes are to return to PA in December a more confident farmer, one who better understands the connection between the cosmos and the soil, plant, and animal health

And I can’t mention Canada without sharing how excited I am to soon be in the same country as AIMEE!!! Yeay! Don’t mind the 30 hour plus car ride in between each other… at least we can call each other sans international phone charges! :)

Source: etsy.com via Ginna on Pinterest

DIY Almond Milk

I’m a big fan of almond milk. An even bigger fan of making my own with REAL raw almonds. Don’t trust those labels at stores! Even bags of almonds labeled ‘raw’ and/or ‘organic’ have been pasteurized. It is required that all almonds grown in the U.S. are treated whether through a steam chamber (organic) or gas treatment (non-organic). Yeah… no thanks! (below I have a link to order raw almonds)

How to make Almond Milk:

Overnight soak 1 cup of almonds. In the morning, drain, rinse and toss almonds in the blender. Add 3 cups of water.

Blend for a minute or two.

Strain with a fine mesh strainer, cheesecloth, or any other device you can think of that will separate the liquid from the pulp. Set aside almond pulp and save for another use. Optional to put milk back in blender and add a touch of pure vanilla extract and/or natural sweetener. I added a few drops of vanilla plus 1 packet of stevia. Keep refrigerated in a tightly sealed jar. Will stay fresh for 3-5 days. Due to a shorter shelf life – make milk in small batches to keep it from going funky.

So fresh & so delicious. Nothing compares! And this comes without any added preservatives and funky, unnecessary ingredients.

In case you are interested in ordering raw almonds check out this website. It’s either order online or head out to Cali and get ’em directly from a farmer. Option two is quite tempting!

Drinking Green

St. Patrick’s Day inspired me to make a delicious green mint smoothie in honor of the holiday. Since going out and drinking a bunch of beer doesn’t really appeal to me anymore, I considered this to be a healthy and much tastier substitute :) It was a perfect way to cool down since it was in the 80’s without a cloud in the sky. The weather has been lovely but wow, so different from typical mid-March!

This definitely ranks as a new favorite and won’t be reserved for St. Patty’s day – in fact I can’t wait to make another today!

Green Peppermint Smoothie

2 frozen bananas
1/2 cup almond milk
Handful of kale, stems removed (can substitute with spinach)
1 tbsp chia seeds or hemp seeds
1/8 tsp pure peppermint extract (~few drops)

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend well.

Optional additions:
-touch of cacao powder or cacao nibs (mint chocolate chip smoothie!?)
-1/4 cup soaked cashews (add some bulk and creaminess)
-fresh mint leaves (handful)

Warm Weather Inspiration

Warmer temperatures these past few days have helped me see some light at the end of the tunnel (although it still seems eons away). Sunday morning after nearly three hours of hot yoga – hellllo sweat – I walked outside to a 70 degree, very sunny day! Amazing. Showered, made some green juice, ate half a pineapple (totally normal…), and joined my friend Jeanne & Edison (pictured below) for an afternoon walk to the park. Spent a lovely hour or so soaking up the warm rays and getting a fair amount of pet therapy in the process… SO many cute puppies.

Edison

Onyx

Was too distracted with his cuteness to remember his name

Monday morning I woke up pre-sunrise to finish Pineapple Culture, a book I’ve been reading for my Food, Culture, & History class this week. With my tea I had fresh orange and pineapple juice (coincidence???). In the juicer went 5 small valencia oranges and about 1/4 of the remaining pineapple from Sunday. Simple, sweet, and a wonderful way to start my Monday. Unfortunately, I will now always associate pineapple with American imperialism in Hawaii… I double checked-my pineapple came from Costa Rica. Certainly no better. Can’t win.

Late Monday night I decided to make cashew butter and a face scrub. I’m not sure what made me decide to do this but come 10:30 I figured it was time to start a project in the kitchen. So unfortunately for my neighbor I ran my food processor, loudly, for a good 15 minutes.

It’s too bad my apartment has horrific lighting and pictures don’t do justice for anything made here. So I can’t share what these two look like. You’ll just have to trust my judgment and make them yourself because they are worth it.

Cashew Butter

Simple. Grab a bunch of raw cashews and throw them in the food processor. Turn it on and let it process. Every few minutes scrape the sides and mix up what is in there to make sure nothing gets glued to the sides. After about 10-15 minutes you’ll have a smooth & creamy butter. No need to add additional oils- there are plenty naturally in the cashews. Enjoy! Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Oatmeal Lavender Face Scrub

Exfoliating your face with this brings out a rich lavender smell… can’t beat it. And an excellent, chem-free way to refresh your skin after winter.

In a food processor combine:
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup dry lavender flowers, stripped off stalks (available at health food stores & Whole Foods herb bulk sections)

Pulse these a few times just enough to break up the oatmeal a bit. Transfer to a bowl and add ~1/4 cup of milk. Stir to combine. Massage into damp skin and rinse. Will store in a sealed container up to six months.

Last night I also made kale & lentil soup for a friend. While I didn’t taste it – I can guarantee, based off the smell of my apartment after it was cooking all night in the crockpot, it is bound to be tasty…. Marisa will have to confirm :)

Kale & Lentil Soup

1 tbsp olive oil
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 1/4 cup of green or brown lentils, picked & rinsed
6 cups of broth or water
4 kale leaves (Dino/lacinato works best)
1 tbsp tamari (optional)
salt & pepper to taste

1. Combine oil, onion, garlic, carrot and celery in crock-pot on low.
2. Rinse lentils, add to pot along with broth or water. Add tamari if desired.
3. Cook on low for 8 hours.
4. Cut kale into bite size strips and either a) steam in a double boiler for 5 minutes or b) add directly to crock at least 15 minutes prior to serving to soften.
5. Season with salt & pepper if desired.