Saturday, January 28, 2012

Chocolate raspberry truffle tart

Kona, Bailey and Misha "meditate."

I've been trying to incorporate 5-10 minutes of meditation into each day because of the health benefits. Meditation produces a wonderful calming feeling only when the dogs are doing their own "meditation" as pictured above. I meditate because it enhances the immune system, and reduces or helps control my chronic pain.

It works well for me to do meditation on the end of a yoga or stretching session. But just about anytime you have a few quiet moments will work. You don't need any special equipment, and it can be done just about any place when there are no distractions. I just sit or lie down quietly and begin envisioning myself being at my best, either physically or mentally. It's kind of like giving yourself a little pep talk.

Misha takes another relaxation pose.

Unfortunately, not everyone can be like Misha, pictured above, in his relaxation mode. That's where meditation helps. Meditation can wipe away the day's stress and lower your blood pressure.

Nika uses a very weird "pillow."

Meditation also can reduce headaches and migraines. I think I would need some meditation or yoga after sleeping with a 30-pound dumbbell for a pillow, like Nika, pictured above. In fact, I might even have to reach for a Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Smoothie.

Chocolate raspberry truffle smoothie

Yes, I'm still craving everything chocolate and raspberry. Even my husband (AKA Ridalin Boy) has noticed my recent addiction. He came back from a bike ride with a container of fresh raspberries in his backpack. Wasn't that sweet? Those fresh raspberries would be the perfect topping for another Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Smoothie. It makes the perfect Sunday morning breakfast treat.


1/2 small to medium ripe avocado
1 cup frozen raspberries
1 T. rice protein powder
1 T. chia seed
3/4-1 cup hemp or other non-dairy milk
2 T. sunbutter or other seed/nut butter
1 T. shredded coconut
1 T. cacao nibs
6-8 ice cubes
stevia or other sweetener to taste


Put all the ingredients in a high-powered blender and process until smooth and thick. Pour in a tall glass or big mug. Top with more raspberries, cacao nibs and shredded coconut.

Chocolate raspberry truffle tart

If you're like me, you can never get enough chocolate and raspberries. And so the chocolate raspberry truffle smoothie morphed into a Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Tart. Yes, I am still trying to lose weight so I keep this in the freezer for an occasional nibble now and then.

Ingredients for filling
1/2 ripe avocado
3/4 cup frozen raspberries
2 tsp. chia seed
3-4 T. hemp milk
2 T. sunbutter

Ingredients for crust
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1-2 T. cacao nibs
1 T. tahinia
dash of sea salt

Put all crust ingredients in a food processor and combine. Press crust mixture into two free-form, mini tart pans.

Blend all the filling ingredients in a blender. Divide evenly between the two tart pans. Lucky you. You'll probably have some left over to nibble on.

Freeze the tarts until ready to eat. Allow to soften slightly before topping with more raspberries, cacao nibs and coconut.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chocolate raspberry kale chips

Bailey and Nika sleeping-bagging it.
There's nothing better than snuggling in a warm sleeping bag in the midst of winter as Bailey and Nika (pictured above) will tell you. This week we got our first blast of real winter (yes, in mid-January), complete with blizzard-like conditions that turned to rain and flooding, all in a period of 24 hours.

The snow piled up briefly before melting. I didn't even have a chance to snap pictures of Misha and Nika enjoying their first snowfall at home. But they did have fun romping about in it before things turned to a muddy mess.

Misha loves all things soft and cuddly.
Misha really enjoys sleeping bags too as you can see. Now, that it's all muddy and wet outside with rain continuing to fall the pooches are having to spend more time indoors but they don't seem to mind.
Here's almost everyone sprawled out on sleeping bags.
I have really been devouring kale this winter. Sometimes it's hard to find quality kale in some markets but it's worth the effort to find your local grocer who has connections for the good stuff. Kale is one of those cruciferous veggies, also known as "super vegetables." These veggies enhance immunity and prevent disease.

I love kale all year round but it's especially worth eating kale and other cruciferous veggies in the winter when your immune system is being bombarded by viruses and germs. Other commonly consumed cruciferous vegetables are broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, brussels sprouts, bok choy, rutabaga, cabbage and mustard greens.

As far as recipes go, I guess I am beginning to sound like a broken record as every recipe I've featured recently has been some form of kale chips. What can I say. I'm addicted to kale chips but I also eat kale raw as that's when this cruciferous veggie is at its best.

But ah, kale chips. They make such crunchy snacks. This week I have been craving raspberries and chocolate. I thought, "What do you think raspberries and chocolate kale chips would taste like?" I wasn't sure what my efforts would produce when I set about mixing raspberries and cacao powder but the result was delish.
Chocolate raspberry kale chips

Chocolate raspberry kale chips

  • 1 cup frozen raspberries, thawed
  • 2 T. cacao powder
  • 2 T. coconut oil, melted
  • stevia or other sweetener to taste
  • optional: 1-2 T. ground cacao nibs for sprinkling on top

  • Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.
  • Spray a large cookie sheet with pan spray.
  • Wash kale and remove the leaves from the stems. Cut the kale  leaves into bite-sized pieces. Drain and dry kale.
  • Combine the raspberries, cacao, coconut oil and sweetener in a small bowl.
  • Pour several tablespoons-full of chocolate-raspberry mixture over kale, placed in a large bowl.
  • With your hands, massage into kale leaves the chocolate-raspberry mixture.
  • Spread the kale on the baking sheet. As an option, sprinkle the kale leaves with ground cacao nibs for an added dose of chocolate. Note: I made the kale with and without added cacao nibs and found the raspberry chocolate flavor more intense without the nibs.
  • Place  the pan of kale in oven.
  • Leave kale in the oven for 30 minutes. Turn leaves over about halfway. Remove leaves as they get dry.
  • Eat and enjoy! Store the extras in the fridge.
I am sharing this recipe with Weekend Wellness at:

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sun-dried tomato kale chips and soup

Misha "investigates" the grocery bags.
The canines continue their daily takeover of my kitchen. Do you think there is something they want in the kitchen? I'm a little puzzled. I think they are stalking me. Every time I go in the kitchen, there are my furry "little" (I say that facetiously) shadows.
Misha and Nika spar.
 Of course, even the would-be chefs have to reserve some time for play or are those teeth I see bared?
Misha and Nika take a break from "helping" out in the kitchen.
Actually, these two are BFF's as you can see in the picture above. Can you believe how quickly Nika, the one on the left, is catching up in size with Misha?

Sun-dried tomato kale chips
I have been working on trying to shed some extra poundage since November. I thought I was getting serious when I switched back to my strict low-glycemic diet at my health-care provider's urging to winter-proof me against a recurrence of candida. But alas, no poundage budged and some candida-related symptoms began to appear (stuffy nose, congestion, digestive problems).

I decided it was time to really dig in my heels. I have switched to a somewhat liquid diet in the form of smoothies and soups in order to detox my system and give it time to heal from my excesses (you know too many "healthy" cookie dough truffles).

I also make sure I have plenty of good-for-me snacks on hand to prevent over-indulging in something bad. That's why I continue to expand my kale chip recipe file. This week I tried Sun-dried tomato kale chips. My favorite soup of the week was Sunbutter Soup with Butternut Squash and Collard Greens. Recipes follow.

Sun-dried tomato kale chips

  1. 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, soaked in boiling water for a few minutes
  2. 1 roma tomato, diced
  3. 1/4 cup tahini
  4. 1 T. Bragg's amino acids
  5. 3 T. lemon juice
  6. 2 T. olive oil
  7. salt and pepper
  8. 1 bunch kale, removed from stems and torn into small pieces

  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Wash and prepare the kale. Tear the kale into small pieces after removing from the stems.
  3. Allow the kale to dry or blot with a paper towel.
  4. Prepare the sundried tomato topping for the kale by placing all the ingredients, listed above, except for the kale in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  5. Pour 2 T. of the sundried tomato topping on the kale pieces, placed in a large bowl. Toss with your hands to distribute the sauce evenly.
  6. Spread the kale pieces on a large cookie sheet and place in the oven for 20-30 minutes.
  7. Turn the kale pieces over and continue drying in the oven for another 15 minutes.
  8. Allow to cool before storing in the fridge.
  9. Note: there will be plenty of extra sundried tomato topping for several other bunches of kale.

Sunbutter soup with butternut squash and collard greens

Sunbutter Soup with Butternut Squash and Collard Greens (meat or vegan options)

  1. 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  2. 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  3. 1 cup butternut squash, peeled and diced
  4. For meat version: 8 ounches boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into one-inch pieces
  5. 1/2 cup unsweetened sunbutter
  6. 1 cup collard greens, coarsely chopped
  7. 2 stalks celery, diced
  8. 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  9. salt and pepper to taste
  1. Combine the stock, onion, butternut squash, celery and carrot in a stockpot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add optional chicken, if desired. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the sunbutter and 1/2 cup soup mixture into a thick paste. Add the collard greens to the soup and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes to soften the collard greens. Stir in the sunbutter paste. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Makes 3-4 servings.
These recipes have been shared with:

    Sunday, January 8, 2012

    Chocolate lovers' kale

    Misha, Nika and Brian snowshoeing at Sunset Mountain
    Snow is in short supply this winter where we live but we found some way up high in the mountains at 6,000 feet plus. It was a first for our pooches, Misha and Nika, who had never been in the snow. They were loving every minute.

    It also was a first for me to be out snowshoeing with my people and dog buddies doing something I had to pass on for the past two winters. I used to go nordic or skate skiing every winter on a regular basis until chronic muscle pain sidelined me. 

    But this time, I made it. I didn't have to cry to myself as my husband and son headed off on one of their snowshoeing adventures. I would be lying to say I had no pain, but it was within tolerable limits. It was in marked contrast to last winter when I could hardly walk out to the mailbox without doubling over in pain. I owe it all to my physical therapist and my hubby who continues the myofascial release therapy at home. I have to give myself credit as well. Every morning, you'll find me doing core conditioning exercises.

    Misha carrying his water, treats in his new pack
    It was the best day ever for me because of what it represented. I was able to return to something I love doing during the winter. Now, if we can just get some more snow!

    Here's Misha all tired out  from snowshoeing but reunited with his buddies, Kona and Bailey
    Losing the five pounds I have gained this fall and winter may not be as fun as snowsheoing was. I have been following a strict, low-glycemic diet since November. So far, only one pound has budged. I great resource for tips and recipes has been the 28-day Whole Living Action Plan The best part is it's totally free and most of the recipes are ones I can eat with an occasional tweak.

    Unfortunately, my weakness continues to be chocolate. I have resolved to only make chocolate recipes that utilize veggies. This week I indulged in Chocolate Lovers' Kale.

    Chocolate Lovers' Kale

    1- 1 1/2 bunches of kale
    1-2 T. cacao powder
    1 T. coconut oil
    1 T. sunbutter (optional)
    stevia to taste
    1 T. each chia seed, sunflower seeds and cacao nibs

    • Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
    • Wash kale. Trim from stems and separate into small pieces. Pat the kale pieces dry with a paper towel.
    • Grind the chia, sunflower seeds and cacao nibs to a coarse grind.
    • Melt the coconut oil and combine with sunbutter, stevia, cacao powder and ground seed/nib blend to make a paste. Thin with more coconut oil if not pourable. (note: sunbutter could be omitted)
    • Working in batches pour 1-2 T. mixture over kale placed in a large bowl. Use your hands to massage in the chocolate mixture.
    • Spread the choco-covered kale pieces on a large cookie sheet, sprayed with pan spray.
    • Place in the oven for about 20 minutes until the leaves are dry but pliable.
    • Remove from oven and allow kale pieces to cool before diving in.
    • Note: I found this treat satisfying and was not tempted to eat more than a few leaves.
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