Usually if something sounds too good to be true – it is. Except in this case!!
This superfood version of chocolate mousse is dairy free and 100% guilt free!! It is also rich in fiber, omega 3s, magnesium, has no sugar and whips up in minutes! I know, hard to believe – but all true! It is a rich and creamy delicious chocolatty delight!! And unlike other chocolate mousses, this one will not spike your bloodsugar. It will fill you up, and keep your hunger hormones in control and keep you satisfied for hours!
* The ice cubes are primarily to chill the mousse, you can omit if you are making it and not eating it right away. Put into the refrigerator to chill.
Note – this recipe requires a Vitamix blender that has a “tamper” – the tool that helps to process thicker recipes, stirring ingredients and removing air pockets in the blender.
Put into a container in the refrigerator, or pour into a dish and enjoy. This can make 1 large serving, or two small ones.
This is a Perfect Metabolism program recipe!
Read Cuckoo for Coconut oil to learn more about the health benefits of coconut oil.
Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, whose book The Perfect Metabolism Plan (Red Wheel/Conari Press) will be hitting book shelves Spring of 2015. You can download her Cooking with Superfoods eBooklet now for free. A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, Sara used to be a sugar junkie too. She offers consultations, corporate nutrition, monthly cooking classes, and affordable online programs.
©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.
Serve these delicious Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes for Valentines Day!
Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes
Melt the coconut oil gently over low heat on the stovetop, or in a Pyrex dish in a hot water bath. Then mix together all the ingredients in a blender or food processor (except the raspberries). Add the 1/4 cup raspberries and process until combined*. If using frozen, it will instantly thicken the frosting. Spoon out into a bowl and place in refrigerator to chill. Rinse and set aside the fresh raspberries for topping the cupcakes.
*Note: If you do not want the frosting to be raspberry flavored, just omit the raspberries. It will have a slight coconut taste – if you do not like that – replace the coconut oil with organic butter (this is a non-vegan option).
It is no wonder we celebrate Valentines Day with chocolate – cacao, one of chocolate’s key ingredients, contains high levels of Phenylethylamine, referred to as the love chemical, because our bodies produce it when we fall in love!
A heart healthy food, dark chocolate is perfect for February, because it is National Heart Health month. Studies have shown that eating dark chocolate lowers the risk of heart disease, stroke, and even Alzheimers disease.
This recipe for CocoNuttZo Dark Chocolates takes chocolate to a whole other level, combining some of my favorite superfoods to make a super healthy chocolate!
Scroll down below the recipe for more information about the superfoods in this recipe.
CocoNuttZo Dark Chocolate
More about the Superfood ingredients in this recipe:
CACAO: Historically, cacao has been used both as medicine and as currency. Cacao is the #1 food source of magnesium, which is probably one of the big reasons it is so good for our heart – magnesium has been shown in studies to lower the risk of heart disease mortality by 50%! Cacao also contains potassium, iron, polyphenols, flavanols, theobromine, and proanthocyanidins. Cacao’s long list of health benefits include reducing heart attack and stroke, lowering blood pressure, boosting mood and brain function, protection against Alzheimers disease, lowering stress, relaxing muscles, boosting our skin’s internal SPF, and much more. I choose Sunfood raw cacao, because raw cacao has a higher antioxidant content than cocoa, and it even has a higher antioxidant rating than blueberries, acai, and even goji berries.
COCONUT OIL: In Sanskrit, coconuts are called “Kalpa Vriksha” which means: “The tree that gives all that is necessary for life.” Coconut oil is a medium chain fatty acid, which gets burned as fuel faster (so less likely to be converted to fat). It is also one of the most beneficial oils for our heart heath. Coconut oil is comprised of about 50% lauric acid, which is immune boosting, anti viral, anti bacterial, and helpful in lowering high cholesterol & high blood pressure. Coconut oil boosts HDL cholesterol, which helps to usher out the bad cholesterol. It also helps to regulate our hunger hormones and insulin levels. Coconut oil helps the body to absorb vitamins and minerals, and it also is more stable – meaning it will not oxidize – oxidized fats promote heart disease, certain cancers, and other diseases. Coconut oil has also been touted for prevention/treatment for Alzheimers disease. When choosing a coconut oil, I like to look for quality unrefined, organic cold pressed oils – such as Barleans. Because of all the benefits, I recommend to all my cleanse participants to take coconut oil every day. But not everyone is a big fan of eating straight coconut oil – so that is why I came up with this recipe for dark chocolates made with Nuttzo nut butter.
NuttZo: The best nut butter on the planet, NuttZo is a wonderful blend of 7 different organic nuts and seeds. NuttZo contains chia and flax seeds, which provide a healthy dose of omega 3 fatty acids, which are critical for prevention of heart disease and many other diseases. It also contains Brazil nuts, which are one of the best food sources of selenium, a powerful antioxidant which has been proven to protect the body against infection, and certain types of cancer. And it has pumpkin seeds which are naturally anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic.
When there is a bit of a chill in the air, curling up on the couch with a nice cup of hot chocolate is a delicious way to warm up. My kids love hot chocolate – but I don’t love the kind made with those hot chocolate packets – each cup contains 20 grams of sugar (5 teaspoons!) and a bunch of other no-so-healthy ingredients we try to avoid. Here is the ingredients list from a popular brand:
SUGAR, CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, VEGETABLE OIL (PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED COCONUT OR PALM KERNEL AND HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN), DAIRY PRODUCT SOLIDS, COCOA PROCESSED WITH ALKALI, AND LESS THAN 2% OF CELLULOSE GUM, NONFAT MILK, SALT, SODIUM CASEINATE, SODIUM CITRATE, DIPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, SODIUM ALUMINOSILICATE, MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES, GUAR GUM, ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS.
Then I found the perfect solution – delicious and healthy hot chocolate – thanks to Barleans Chocolate Greens! First of all, these greens are like no other – they do not taste “greenish” or look at all green – so they are great for kids, especially picky ones. They are not grainy at all either – they stir in totally smooth into your liquid. Each serving contains more than 5 servings of vegetables, probiotics, superfood greens, and much more! So when I read that it makes a yummy hot chocolate – we decided to give it a try – and it definitely makes a delicious and super healthy cup of hot chocolate (or chocolate milk, or chocolate smoothie)!
I wasn’t expecting my daughter to like it, who is a mostly reformed, but still a little bit of picky eater, and definitely a supertaster – so when she gave it the thumbs up, I was totally elated.
There are a couple ways to make it:
Pour your hot chocolate into a mug, and serve. Optional – you could even use a mini organic
candy cane to stir – it will give it a nice minty taste. Or top with some Elyon gluten free mini marshmallows, available at Whole Foods markets.
I am not a fan of pecan pie – I find it way too sweet, and don’t like how it is kind of gelatinous. But I know it is a traditional pie for Thanksgiving. So I came up with this Dark Chocolate Pecan Tart – which just so happens to be gluten and grain free too. It also has no Karo syrup (like traditional pecan pie), or sugar (uses organic agave nectar and stevia instead). Try it this Thanksgiving, or any other time you want to impress your guests (or when you are craving chocolate)! It is a nice treat – but won’t send you off the deep end like traditional pecan pie.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
We are big drinkers in our house – smoothie drinkers that is.
We put our Vitamix to work every morning, starting almost every day with a smoothie. I find smoothies to be a great way to sneak in superfoods like chia seeds and greens powders, and also veggies too. My daughter was getting really tired of the fruit smoothies, and so for a while she was skipping her morning smoothie – so she wasn’t getting her superfoods. So I decided to make her a Chocolate Superfood smoothie one morning, and now it is her favorite (she actually prefers hers without the banana, my son likes extra banana, so it is adjustable)! If you make it without the banana, just add an extra ice cube or two to thicken it up.
Have you heard about the study that found chocolate milk to be a great post-workout drink? This drink offers all the benefits of chocolate milk, plus so much more (and by being non-dairy, it is not mucus-producing like dairy can be. And many people can not digest the lactose in milk).
This smoothie is like having a yummy chocolate milkshake for breakfast (great for a pre or post workout snack too).
Choco-Banana Super Smoothie
Makes two smoothies (approx. 5 oz. each)
Put everything into blender except ice and frozen banana. Blend to combine well. Then add frozen banana and ice, blend well. Serve immediately.
This smoothie has so many benefits:
So give it a try at home and let me know what you (and the kids) think!
I love black beans – they are excellent for our digestion, and are high in a kind of fiber called resistant starch – which helps to make us feel fuller and can travel all the way through our digestive tract without being digested. Resistant starch has been shown to help promote weight loss. Recent research has linked consumption of beans to reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and several types of cancer. The American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, and the American Cancer Society–all recommend legumes as a key food group for preventing disease and optimizing health. Beans also contain antioxidants, and flavinoids.
Another food that is heart healthy is dark chocolate. Studies have shown that daily consumption of a small amount of dark chocolate can lower your risk of heart attack and stroke by over 30%. Also high in magnesium, read I Heart Dark Chocolate to learn more health benefits of dark chocolate.
So dark chocolate black bean brownies are a much healthier way to get your chocolate fix than traditional brownies. But when I was researching black bean brownies a while back, I tried a few recipes that I found online – and there was something missing – they were too mushy and dense.
So this recipe fixed the mushiness by adding coconut flour (high in fiber, gluten free) and xantham gum (helpful in gluten free baking). And these brownies have one other benefit – they contains chia seeds – which are high in omega 3s, and also an excellent source of fiber.
I used to use canned black beans to make this, but now I make my black beans from scratch – read why.
THE BEST Dark Chocolate Black Bean Brownies!
Servings: 20 small squares
These dark chocolate brownies are a great alternative to traditional brownies – if you didn’t know it, you wouldn’t guess that the main ingredient are black beans. In addition, the chia seeds add fiber and Omega 3s, the coconut flour is gluten-free and a high fiber food. And dark chocolate is a superfood with antioxidants.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease with butter or coconut oil an 8×8″ or 9×9” pan and set aside.
Puree the black beans in a food processor or blender (must be a powerful one like a Vitamix). Add a little water if needed to puree. Melt butter and dark chocolate chips on a double boiler or carefully in microwave (do not overheat). Allow to cool slightly. Crack eggs into a glass measuring cup, and whisk, then add sugar and agave nectar, and soaked chia seed – whisk all together well with a fork. Put the melted butter & chocolate, pureed black beans and all other ingredients into the food processor and mix until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Optional – top with additional dark chocolate chips (mini chips work best).
Bake approximately 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool before slicing and serving. Store in refrigerator or air-tight container. Enjoy!
One of nature’s perfect superfoods – coconut oil has almost endless uses and is definitely on my must-have healthy shopping list! In Sanskrit, coconuts are called “Kalpa Vriksha” which means: “The tree that gives all that is necessary for life.” When choosing a coconut oil, I like to look for quality unrefined, organic cold pressed oils – such as Barleans. Each & every Barleans coconut is sourced from the Phillipine isles and hand selected and picked fresh from the tree at it’s peak of flavor, aroma & nutritional value.<
1. A Healthy Fat:
Many people think because it is a saturated fat, that it is not good for you. But that could not be further from the truth!
2. Ideal Cooking Oil:
3. Great for Skin & Hair:
4. Boosts Immune System
Homemade dark chocolate is one of the easiest things to make, this recipe has only 5 ingredients and is ready in no time.
Dark chocolate is shown to lower risk of heart disease, stroke, and even Alzheimers. Cacao gives dark chocolate it’s flavor and also is high in minerals and antioxidants, read I Heart Dark Chocolate to learn more about the many health benefits of cacao. In this recipe, I also use coconut oil, which offers many health benefits – including Alzheimer’s disease prevention, and potentially even reversal, according to this article. It is estimated that as many as 80% of Americans are deficient in magnesium, which is also linked to Alzheimers and other disorders like ADD, muscle aches and osteoporosis, read article from Natural News. This homemade dark chocolate is a delicious and healthy way to get a daily dose of heart health benefits and Alzheimers protection – so enjoy a square of this dark chocolate without any guilt!
Homemade Dark Chocolate
Melt the coconut oil (I like to use a double boiler on simmer), allow to cool just slightly, then put all ingredients into a bowl – whisk together to combine well. Pour into a mold (I like the Tovolo ice cube molds), and put in freezer. They should be ready in 15 mins!!
They taste a little like a Mounds candy bar. This recipe has to come with a warning – you will find it hard to buy dark chocolate at the store ever again after trying this! Best kept stored in freezer.
Having elevated LDL cholesterol levels and triglycerides has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. “If you have too much cholesterol, your internal machinery is not going to be able to take away enough cholesterol from the cells,” says Yeon-Kyun Shin, a biophysics professor in the department of biochemistry at Iowa State. “Then cells harden and you can get these deposits.” But our bodies also need cholesterol for many important functions, such as building cells, manufacturing hormones; and with one quarter of the body’s cholesterol in the brain, it is important for brain activity. Rather than just lowering overall cholesterol, ideally we want to optimize our ratio of LDL to HDL:
Taking a Foods Based Approach to Lower Cholesterol
Foods and other lifestyle factors can have a powerful impact on our health. According to Dr. Schrott from the University of Iowa, “Although medication is a very effective way to treat high cholesterol, diet and weight loss may be the only things you need to do to lower your cholesterol.” Prescription medications can come with multiple negative side effects and drug interactions, and can be expensive. Taking a nutritional approach to lowering cholesterol can offer multiple additional benefits such as anti-aging, lowering risks of many other diseases, improved digestion, energy, and more. And taking a foods based approach is also less likely than prescriptions to lower cholesterol levels too low. The challenges associated with a nutritional approach, are that people first need to know which foods will help lower cholesterol, and unfortunately it is not as easy as popping a pill each day.
Foods that Lower Cholesterol:
1. Soluble Fiber: Fiber is very important for our digestion, it helps us to feel fuller, which can be useful to maintain a healthy weight – which is very important for overall heart health. There are two types of fiber – insoluble (which passes through the digestive system intact and provides bulk), and soluble fiber, which soaks up liquid to create a gel-like substance. It is soluble fiber which is important for lowering cholesterol. It sticks to cholesterol binding it and ushering it out of the body before it can enter into circulation, which is perhaps why it is sometimes referred to as “sticky fiber.” According to Dr. Cho from the Cleveland Clinic, a person must consume at least 3 grams of soluble fiber per day in order for it to help to lower cholesterol. A study published in the Journal of Family Practice in 2006 found that eating 5 – 10 grams of soluble fiber a day was associated with a 10% to 15% reduction in LDL levels, and a 10-15% lower heart disease risk. Unfortunately most Americans do not get anywhere near that amount of soluble fiber each day, found in fruits and vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
Soluble Fiber Sources:
2. Omega 3s: For years, people with heart disease were put on strict low fat diets. But certain fats, particularly omega 3 fatty acids, are very important for our heart health and are shown to lower cholesterol levels. Found in foods like fatty fish, omega 3s are extremely important to our overall health – affecting everything from our brain functioning and our mood to disease prevention and eye health. Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to lower our risk of many diseases – including heart disease and cancer. The Inuit Eskimos get lots of omega 3 fatty acids from their diets which are high in fatty fish, they also tend to have healthy HDL levels and lower triglycerides. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish (particularly fatty fish such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon) at least 2 times a week.
Some omega 3 sources:
3. Antioxidants: Powerful botanical antioxidants such as Polyphenols and Flavinoids can offer protection against free radical exposure and offer a wide range of health benefits from anti-aging and boosting the skin’s SPF protection to reducing cancer risk and Alzheimer’s protection. Polyphenols have been shown in some studies to lower cholesterol by increasing the amount of cholesterol excreted by the body as well as boosting levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. Flavinoids such as those found in cocoa have been shown to reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, so have a square of chocolate without guilt! And then pour yourself a some tea – drinking three cups of green or black tea a day has been shown in studies to improve cholesterol ratios and lower heart attack risk. Coffee and even red wine (in moderation) can offer beneficial antioxidants.
Some good sources:
4. Plant Sterols. Over 140 clinical studies show that plant sterols can help reduce LDL blood cholesterol. Plant sterols occur naturally in plant-based foods, but generally in concentrations that are too low to affect blood cholesterol levels. But when plant sterols are extracted, they can be concentrated and added to fortify other foods. Sterols are basically plant cholesterol, which in the human body competes with and prevents the uptake and absorption of cholesterol in the small intestine. Sterols are shown to improve the important LDL to HDL ratios, because they lower LDL cholesterol, without affecting the HDL (the good kind). Plant sterols have been studied for over 50 years, and found to be a safe and effective way to lower cholesterol. The American Heart Association’s (AHA) recommends that individuals with high cholesterol consume plant sterols and plant stanols from a variety of foods and beverages every day—just as they would use cholesterol-lowering medication to maintain LDL (bad) cholesterol reductions from these products. Studies have found that 1.3 g. of plant sterols can have significant cholesterol lowering effects. The AHA recommends patients with high cholesterol consume approximately 2 grams of plant sterol/stanols per day. The average American gets about 250 milligrams (.25 g.) of sterols from plant-based foods daily. Vegetarians average around 700 milligrams. But people who eat a highly processed diet can get significantly less.
Plant Sterol Sources:
5. Nuts and other plant-based fats: Nuts are little nutritional powerhouses, containing protein, fiber, healthy fats, and many other excellent nutrients. Nuts are so good for you that in 2003 the FDA made this claim: “Eating a diet that includes one ounce of nuts daily can reduce your risk of heart disease.” One 2004 study of 58 adults with diabetes looked at the effects of eating a handful of walnuts each day in addition to a healthy diet. The researchers found that on average, people who ate the walnuts had an increase in their good HDL cholesterol and a drop of 10% in their bad LDL cholesterol levels. The results were published in the publication Diabetes Care.
Healthy Fats Sources:
Foods to Avoid:
It is also important to know which foods to avoid to promote healthy cholesterol levels and heart health. Many people have been told for years that eggs are bad for our cholesterol. But new research is showing that for the majority of the population, eating an egg a day will not raise blood cholesterol and is a healthy choice. According to Harvard Health, the biggest influence on blood cholesterol level is the mix of fats and carbohydrates in your diet—not the amount of cholesterol you eat from food. So more important than avoiding foods with cholesterol in them, is avoiding foods that contain trans fats, which can be found in many packaged, processed, baked goods, most margarines, and fast foods. Another surprising food to avoid for cholesterol and heart health is sugar. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that added sugars found in packaged foods increased blood lipid levels while lowering the good cholesterol (HDL) levels.
What About Statins?
Statins lower cholesterol by inhibiting HMG CoA reductase, an enzyme that helps the body make cholesterol, which reduces the total cholesterol in the blood according to Dr. Mark Houston, MD. In the past, statins success at preventing heart attacks, had led doctors to joke about “putting it into the water supply,” according to this USA Today Article. But increasing research is revealing that raising the HDL cholesterol, which is responsible for removing cholesterol from the blood and delivering it to the liver for removal is as important as lowering LDL for heart health. According to Dr. Mark Hyman, MD, a 2009 study looked at nearly a quarter of a million people who were hospitalized with heart disease, almost half of those people had optimal LDL levels. Additionally, some studies have linked Statin use to side effects, including:
Adopting healthy dietary and lifestyle habits can help to lower your cholesterol, your overall heart attack risk factors, and many other diseases. But despite making all the above dietary and lifestyle changes, some people (such as those who have already had a heart attack) might still need a statin. Patients need to speak to their doctor to assess and develop their personal heart health plan. But according Dr. Mark Hyman, “You can not take your statin, and then go to McDonald’s and expect it to work.” Dr. Hyman, the founder of The Ultra Wellness Center in Lenox, MA; also says that when it comes to cholesterol medication, men and women are not created equal – read his article Why Women Should Stop Their Cholesterol Lowering Medication.
Note: Persons currently taking cholesterol lowering medications who have questions, or wish to stop taking them (or any prescription medications) should consult with their doctor. Changes to prescription medications should be done only under their doctor’s care.
Other Heart Health Factors:
Cholesterol is only one piece of the puzzle with regards to heart health. Other important factors to consider are:
Additional Supporting Articles/Research:
© copyright 2015 Sara Vance