Homemade Chocolate Chunks

Have a chocolate craving, but want to do without the dairy, wax and white sugar?

These are soooo easy that you can make them faster than you can run to the corner store and buy commercial chocolate chips!

I have to laugh because I have been meaning to make my own chocolate chips for literally about 5 years since I saw the recipe for carob chips in the Nourishing Traditions cookbook! For some reason, I kept putting it off thinking that it would be way to time consuming than it was worth.  Isn’t it funny how we sometimes assume that cooking from scratch will just be too hard?

I guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised by the simplicity of making your own chocolate chips at home.

Homemade Chocolate Chunks
(makes 2-3 cups)

What you will need:
1 cup coconut oil
1 cup cocoa powder
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2-3/4 cup honey, maple syrup or unrefined cane sugar

How to do it:
Step 1: Put everything in a small saucepan and melt.
Step 2: Line a baking tray with wax or parchment paper.
Step 3: Pour chocolate in tray and freeze for about 10 min.
Step 4: Cut or break into chocolate chunks.
Step 5: Store in the fridge in an air tight container.

Note: If you use unrefined sugar I have to warn you that it doesn’t melt easily. Once your ingredients are all melted and you taste the chocolate it will taste like there is no sweetener at all and that is because the sugar has sunk to the bottom. You will want to blend in a vitamix or prepare for crunchy choc (which I actually adore)!

Coconut Macaroons

Ever wonder what to do with the egg whites when a recipe calls for just egg yolks. Here is a yummy way to use those leftover egg whites. Your kids will thank you!

Coconut Macaroon Mounds
(makes 22 cookies)

What you will need:
4 egg whites
1/2 cup unrefined sugar or honey
1/2 tsp unrefined salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup almond flour
3 cups shredded coconut

How to do it:
Step 1: Beat egg whites until stiff.
Step 2: Stir in all remaining ingredients.
Step 3: Line a baking tray with parchment paper or grease generously.
Step 4: Form batter into little cookie balls and place on tray.
Step 5: Bake at 325 degrees F for 25 minutes (or until lightly browned).

Let cool completely before serving (otherwise they will seem a bit mushy inside when still warm). Enjoy!

How to: Double duty chicken

This recipe gets its name because it does so much more than the average roast chicken. Nevermind double duty- we can usually get about 5 meals from one roast chicken…

Step 1: Purchase a med-large whole chicken from a reputable source. (ask if you can get the feet/organs)

Step 2: Thaw the chicken if frozen.

Step 3: Cut the chicken breast off  (you can find video demos of how to do this on YouTube). It doesn’t have to be perfect. Set aside (or freeze) meat for homemade nuggets.

Step 4: Put your whole bird into a large pot, slow cooker or casserole dish with a lid.

Step 5: Add water to fill 2/3 full of the casserole. Add 2 Tbsp unrefined salt, 1 Tbsp peppercorns, 3 bay leaves and fresh or dried herbs.

Step 6: Now you have two options. You can put your slowcooker on low and let the chicken cook for as much as 24 hours or you can cover your roaster/casserole dish with lid and put into the oven for 5 hours @ 320 degrees F.

Step 7: If roasting, about 40-50 minutes before the end of the cook time, add plenty of vegetables of your choice. In the slow cooker, vegetables can be added before.

Step 8: When the chicken is ready, the meat will be falling off the bones. Strip the meat off the bones and serve some with the vegetables for dinner. Save and freeze the remaining meat for stirfrys, sandwiches, pizza or whatnot…

Step 9: Pour the stock off into 2 quart jars. You also have the option of blending the remaining stock that won’t fit into the jars with the remaining vegetables (this can be reheated the next day as soup).

If you are diligent, you can still make stock again from the remaining bones, but need to add at least 4 chicken feet to get a decent broth- meaning the gelatin that comes from the feet significantly increases the nutritional value of the broth. You can get chicken feet from great farms, like Harbourside Farms here in Manitoba.

*Before adding chicken feet to your final stock, boil them for 3 minutes and cut off the nails. Add to broth bones, cover with water and add a quarter cup of unpasteurized apple cider vinegar. Let soak for an hour before beginning to cook broth to draw minerals out of the bones.

Broth is good refrigerated for up to a week or can be frozen for later.

(Partly adapted from GAPS: Gut And Psychology Syndrome, by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride)

9 ways to cut food waste (and save time)

Do you ever have this feeling that you could be getting MORE from your food? Maybe a tear rolls down your cheek as you scrape yet more veggie odds and ends into the compost. Or maybe you regularly find rotten something-or-anothers way back in the fridge or crisper… Maybe, you just want to make sure you are really getting the most mileage from your whole food dollars…

I think we can start by taking a lesson from our First Nations brothers and sisters in times past. It is a well known fact, for example, that when an animal was hunted, every single part was used –  not only out of necessity but also out of respect (something that is sorely lacking in the industrial food system today).

I often reflect on the fact that First Nations thanked their kill and acknowledged that when they died, they would be part of the very same cycle of life- their bodies would provide nourishment for other animals, insect, bacteria…

If we all acknowledged the sacredness of our food and had some sense of where we fit in to the great cycle of life – would we be ok with so much waste?

Whether you look at it from a spiritual, ecological or practical level, making a few simple changes will not only cut waste in your household- it will save time, money and boost the nutritional value of your meals.

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Make a meal plan. This is the mother of all steps. If you take some time to do this on, say, Sunday morning, your whole week will run more smoothly, you ‘ll know what groceries you need, and HOW you can use up all your leftovers. Guaranteed. You can even print off this free one. From us. You’re welcome!
  2. Zest your limes and lemons before juicing them. I can’t tell you how many times this has saved me time and heartache when making a meal that calls for zest. I just have a designated ‘zest’ jar in the freezer and keep adding to it.

    Zest lemons and limes before juicing.

  3. Keep a bag of veggie ‘odds n’ ends’ (the stuff you would usually compost) in the fridge or freezer to make broth whenever you need.
  4. Herbs about to go bad? Dry (dehydrate) or wash, chop and throw in the freezer for later.
  5. Freeze milk. If it’s getting close to the due date and you think you might not be able to drink it in time, freeze it and save it for baking later.
  6. Learn a food preservation skill like fermentation which allows you to preserve food (such as any assortment of veggies you have in the fridge) that may be on their last legs. It is fast, easy and will introduce beneficial probiotics into your diet.
  7. Learn how to cook/use all the parts of vegetables. Did you know you can eat carrot tops? Or that beet tops are delicious sauteed? Or that broccoli stalks can be peeled and used in stir-frys?
  8. Save the pulp from juicing. Carrot pulp for example, can be used as great filler in meatballs. Apple pulp can be added to oatmeal or cookies…There are also plenty of recipes for pulp crackers and bread online.
  9. Look beyond the meat! Use as many parts of the animal as possible. Chicken skin can be made into chips. Feet, hocks, bones, etc can be used for broth. Homemade bone broth is a healing, nutrient-dense food. We often use one chicken to make about 4-6 meals in our house. (Get step-by-step instructions for Domestic Diva’s double duty chicken here.)

Do you have any tips for cutting food waste? Share them in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want to get off sugar? (but not really)

 

You know this about sugar right?:

1) Sugar makes you fat.
2) Sugar wreaks havoc on your hormones.
3) Sugar makes you moody.
4) Sugar ages you.
5) Sugar increases inflammation
6) Sugar elevates your risk for developing cancer, diabetes and heart disease

While we know that all of this is true, it doesn’t make a bit of difference does it, when you feel the urge to reach for a candy bar or bag of chips (I know, you thought you were a salt person- but the truth is, potato chips metabolize just like sugar anyways. Busted!).

You see, the thing is that most of us are motivated by instant gratification.

The pleasure of sugar in the moment, outweighs the future health risks, right? And that’s why sheer willpower, diet plans and the very best intentions don’t work when it comes to sugar.

The truth is, when you eat sugar, it stimulates the release of dopamine, which makes you feel pleasure- essentially making your brain crave more.

Did you know that heroine, morphine and sugar all stimulate the same receptors in your brain? 

That gives it some perspective, huh? Makes it a whole lot easier to see why it is so hard to get off sugar and why so many people are in denial.

If you are willing to admit that you are addicted to sugar, there is a part of you that WANTS TO get off sugar, and there is a part of you that DOESN’T WANT TO.

You feel conflicted, right?

You probably don’t trust yourself to even try, but there is also a part of you that is gently whispering ‘you can do it’, no?

I hear that and that is why we’ve developed a sugar detox that doesn’t force you to rely on your willpower (details below).

“Yeah but”, I bet you are wondering, “Will this just be another one of those things that I’ll try ‘half ass’ but never really get into”?

If you are nodding your head, you’ve hit the point of futility.

But, here is the Truth. In every decision you make, you are either moving toward better health or away from it. Don’t ever give up on you!!

Believe in yourself and that you are worth taking a chance on!

The thing is, even if you only implement 1/4 of what we share with you, you will still make significant gains toward your best health.

I don’t know any mom who wouldn’t welcome more energy and an increased sense of well-being. That’s a priceless commodity!

Here’s the solution we provide:

1) Move toward your goal of getting off sugar as fast or as slow as you want (yes, slow is good too -remember, slow and steady wins the race).

2) Follow our 3-step method that shows you how to replace, reduce and relax about sugar (this is not about becoming a militant sugar ‘avoider’).

3) Learn to feed your body, brain and spirit to ‘purge the urge’ for sugar-we will show you how!

4) Listen to what your body is trying to tell you (we will help you discover your unique craving complex so that you can eat your way to normalizing your desire for sugar).

5) Knowledge, motivation and inspiration to get started and stay on the horse (including a private Facebook group with the other participants so that you have all of us to support you and help you stay accountable to the goals that you set for yourself).

6) What you will learn in this program will not only get you off the sugar roller coaster, but you will learn extremely important distinctions about food that medical/educational institutions and the media are NOT telling you (crucial stuff you’ll want to know).

7) Plus, everything we share (and the order in which we deliver it) is designed to get you off sugar without trying (you see, there is no reason to feel futility in this program- you can’t fail because you won’t be trying!)

Finally, this isn’t just about getting off of sugar, it is about a paradigm shift. Let us elevate you to a new and exciting way of relating to yourself and the world.

Alright – are you ready? Click here. Registration ends soon.

 

Think you’re not addicted to sugar? Think again.

 

Do you think that sugar isn’t an issue for you just because you don’t have a ‘sweet tooth’?

If you can easily say ‘no’ to cake, cookies, chocolate bars and the like, you might be under the assumption that you couldn’t possibly be addicted to sugar.

BUT, if you can’t say ‘no’ to any or all of the following (or if you can’t imagine enjoying life without them) then I hate to break you the news, you ARE a sugar addict.

  • Bread
  • Juice
  • Crackers
  • Wine/Alcohol
  • Chips
  • Cereal
  • Processed foods
  • Ketchup etc.

While the aforementioned foods may not actually be ‘white sugar’ they either contain it or are metabolized just like it (hence why you can’t imagine enjoying food without them).

The truth is, you CAN get off the sugar addiction cycle without giving up your favourite foods, simply by pressing reset on what your body craves through simple dietary shifts that will help you stop craving ‘the crap’ (without willpower).

In our 28 day Sugar Detox system we walk you step by step through what you need to do, so that you actually do it (just knowing it, isn’t doing it).

Here’s how you get off sugar (without having to use willpower or deprivation):

  • Step 1: Swap your artificial sweeteners with the 4 (non-toxic) ones.
  • Step 2: Upgrade the quality of the sugar in your kitchen from white sugar to the best natural sugars available (and no agave syrup is not in that category).
  • Step 3: Transform your baking into nutrient dense delights (instead of eating nutrient and energy depleting ones) using our 3 simple ingredient upgrades.
  • Step 4: Learn to adopt the simple Chinese medicine principles and watch your cravings disappear.
  • Step 5: Eat the right fats- the ones that will actually satiate you (so that you forget about sugar).
  • Step 6: Discover your unique craving complex (what’s really driving those cravings and how to meet your nutritional deficiencies).
  • Step 7: Take our 7 day sugar detox challenge (it is a nutrient infusion, body reset and rejuvenation of your taste buds) so that you can experience what it is like to be fully nourished into freedom from sugar cravings and enjoy the natural flavour of real food. *When you eat sugar, table salt and processed food, your taste buds become so numbed out, that real nutritious food tastes boring and bland – but don’t worry, we are going to help you change that in a jiffy-well 28 days to be exact)!

So why 28 days anyway?

We are about sustainable changes. We could rile you all up to get off sugar tomorrow, but then you’d be back on it next week.

Our program is actually less about detoxing from sugar and more about what to add to your diet to allow your sugar cravings to drop away.

When it happens that way, you are not simply changing your behavior, but you are transforming your physiology.

What we do is use nourishment to get you there, not deprivation or willpower.

People who crave sugar in any or all of its many of guises have a physiological craving. If that is you, your body is literally driving you to eat sugar- and it is not your fault. You can get off the track and best of all, it is not even hard if you know how to do it.

If you are ready to learn how to detox the hidden sources of sugar in your life, decode your cravings and add more nourishment to your life, then you are invited to join us on our 28 day sugar detox program where we not only give you the insight you need to step into a craving-free version of yourself, but we will also help you implement what you have learned along the way.

To register or learn more, click here.

Why you should put that detox kit back on the shelf and do this instead.

 

Have you ever bought one of those health food store detox kits?

If you know me well, you know that for many years I worked in the health food store industry. You might be surprised to learn that in all that time, I never once went on a ‘cleanse in a box’.

One thing that I know about detox (with a lot of experience customizing my own food based cleanses) is that you can add as many herbs and supplements as you want to a cleansing regime, but if you don’t make specific fundamental shifts in your diet and lifestyle at the same time, any benefits you get from the program will be short lived at best.

I am serious. You are wasting your money.

The thing is, you can spend your money on a short lived product or invest in a life changing experience.

It’s true. When you expect results in a bottle you end up spending money (yip, you can put that in the expenses category), whereas when you invest in a sustainable lifestyle and paradigm shifting experience, the return on your investment is priceless.

Anyone who is serious about getting off sugar, junk food, cleansing or healing their body is much better off investing in a health program (or healing retreat) where you can get the support, feedback and accountability of a group or mentor.

Most of us know what to do to help ourselves, but the fact is we just don’t do it. The best laid intentions and plans soon crumble when essential pieces are missing from the equation.

Plus, getting ‘unstuck’ in the places that we are stuck, often requires good coaching and a multifaceted approach that includes other aspects of our lives (beyond the kitchen) that need to be addressed, before we can shift and transform our way of being with food.

There are also the simple sustainable changes that we often overlook. If we saw them, it would take ‘hard’ out of the picture for us (an objective coach is essential in helping us uncover the things that we don’t know, we don’t know).

And there are certain structures and systems that we must put in place and become immersed in, for lasting transformation (yes, there are systematic and structured ways of getting organized around food that make eating healthy effortless)!

One thing that is typical of people who overcome their ‘processed food addictions’ (bet you can’t think of one person addicted to raw broccoli!) and heal from disease is that they often have a paradigm shift in the process that elevates and evolves literally every aspect of their lives.

Now you can’t get that from a pill or in a box, but you sure can from real caring people who can hold your hand and show you the way- but only if you are ready for the journey of course- what you put in, you get out.

So if you were thinking of just doing one of those cleansing kits, do you REALLY want to ‘just pop pills’ or do you want to make craving junk and sugar a thing of the past, so that you can take it or leave it (no issue)?

Now like I said, put that detox box, back on the shelf and git yer self in a program  : )

How to get off bread & sugar….and by the way, it’s not your fault!

 

If you are like most people, you`ve probably sworn off bread or sugar at least once in your lifetime. The trouble is though, that at the best of times willpower often cowers in the face of a true physiological or bacterial craving.

The truth is, if you can`t stop yourself from bingeing on bread or overdoing sugar, it is not your fault.

Here is why:

1) From a physiological perspective- if you have blatant or subtle nutrient deficiencies, your body is driving you to consume sugar and refined carbs to feel good (although only momentarily). Unfortunately, sugar itself keeps you both on a roller coaster and a hamster wheel! The dips and spikes of sugar ensure that you crave just one thing- more sugar!! And as far as the hamster wheel is concerned, sugar isn`t an empty calorie, it actually puts us in a nutrient defecit, thus perpetuating mineral deficiency and subsequent cravings!

2) From a bacterial perspective- if you have sugar cravings, there is a very high chance that you also have a bacterial imbalance in your gut…sugar feeds pathogenic bacteria. These bacteria beasties actually send chemical messages to your brain that will cause you to crave sugar and refined carbohydrates!

So as you can see, people crave sugar, because they have to -in the age of nutrient deficient food!

While there are many ways to nourish ourselves to make cravings a thing of the past, I bet you would love to know about the single most potent food to permantly eliminate sugar cravings altogether, am I right?

How about discovering one food that can address both the body`s physiological craving for food AND the bacterial one?

The food most ideally suited to stop your sugar and refined carb cravings is cultured foods!!

Culturing a food, means that you are infusing it with beneficial probiotic bacteria (you know, that good stuff inherently found in yogurt!).So just how DO cultured foods address the root causes of sugar and refined carb cravings?

1) Culturing your food increases the nutritional value of that food. For example, sauerkraut has 100 times the Vitamin C as its unfermented counterpart, cabbage. Eating some probiotic condiments with each meal also promotes better digestion and the assimilation of nutrients. That in itself is a 3 in 1 benefit of cultured foods in terms of meeting nutrient deficiencies!

2) Cultured food also feeds beneficial bacteria in your gut, therefore helping to crowd out the more harmful or pathogenic flora. In addition, cultured foods do not JUST add good probiotic bacteria to your gut, but they also provide lactic acid which is not only food for the GOOD bacteria, but it makes your digestive tract inhospitable to pathogenic bacteria! That is a 4 in 1 benefit!

and if that is not remarkable enough…..

1) Ancient chinese medicine has taken note that the unique flavour of cultured foods actually has a balancing effect that neutralizes or cancels out our cravings for sugar!2) Finally, one Ka-RAZY Kool effect of eating fermented foods with your meals is that if you give into a sugar craving and immediately eat a cultured food, the beneficial bacteria will immediately begin eating up the sugar you just consumed, therefore minimizing the amount that you end up digesting and assimilating! Now if my math is correct, that is at least 9 reasons why cultured foods alone, can curb your sugar cravings!So if cravings, are driving you crazy, and you want to immediately take action- you can purchase the following fermented foods and bubbly beverages at your local health food store:

1) Bubbies Pickles
2) Sauerkraut
3) Kombucha

Just make sure they say unpasteurized, because otherwise they will be devoid of probiotics from the heat.

However, if you have a sneaking suspicion that you will eventually get bored of eating only 3 kinds of cultured foods, day in and day out, then you are going to want to get the skills you need, to learn to make them at home (which is way yummier, simple and more affordable anyway)!!

Finally, if you want the knowledge, support, tools, accountability and community to wean yourself off sugar, click here to learn about our 28 Day Sugar Detox challenge where we help you nourish yourself from the sugar habit!

* This post is part of the Probiotic Food Challenge Linky at Real Food Forager.

Sugar, smoking and the surgeon general

Have I ever mentioned that I used to smoke?

Yes. I know. This is just the kind of thing that could sink my rep as a healthy, whole foodie. But tonight I’m in the mood to dish.

Yup I smoked. For about 16 years. I’m totally serious.

And I almost gagged just thinking about it right now.

Dear lungs:
Have I apologized lately?

I gave up smoking when I started thinking about having children. And looking back it was a walk in the park.

At least when I compare it to trying to kick my sugar habit.

I can count on one hand, the amount of times I craved a cigarette after quitting, but sugar (especially ice cream and chocolate), well that was a whole other ball game.

In fact, I had just kind of resigned myself to the fact that it wasn’t gonna happen.

Overeating sweets around the holidays and family get togethers was just a given. No day was complete with a bowl of ice cream, a hunk of chocolate (or three) or a cookie. In fact, I didn’t even know how I would get through the day without a sugar pick me up.

And no wonder. Experts say refined sugar is as addictive as heroin. Just like poppies are refined into opium, morphine and then heroin, sugar is refined down from its natural state into something that alters our mood (and can make us act super screwed up).

In fact, David Wolfe writes in his book, Eating For Beauty, “in the sixteenth century, refined sugar was considered to be a recreational drug in the royal courts of Europe.”

More recent studies have confirmed that sugar addiction is more than a myth:

“Researchers at Princeton University studying bingeing and dependency in rats have found that when the animals ingest large amounts of sugar, their brains undergo changes similar to the changes in the brains of people who abuse illegal drugs like cocaine and heroin.”

Huh. imagine that.

No wonder those diets, drugstore detoxes and deprivation hadn’t worked.

Yet there is no warning from the surgeon general on a bag of sugar. No icky picture of what it does to your innards.

It’s relentless. It’s everywhere. And most people think it’s ok….

So, despite my best efforts, I always ended up back in the same place: huddled by the freezer with spoon in hand, guiltily eating ice cream after the kids went to bed. How’s that for jonesing?

I just could not seem to crack the code….

Until one day, I did.

It was a sweltering summer day when the hubby asked if we should treat ourselves with an ice cream. Instead of looking for a bowl, I remember being completely puzzled. What the heck is he talking about?

And then it hit me. I didn’t crave sugar anymore. In fact, I had hardly touched the stuff in months!

Euereka! (and, as every mad scientist asks after an unexpected breakthrough: what in the world was going on?!)

I hadn’t deprived myself. I hadn’t been on a hoping-for-a-quick-fix detox.

What I had been doing is eating traditionally cultured foods and drinking cultured drinks – those wonderful bubbly beverages like kefir and kombucha. Not to mention I was also eating more healthy fats than any other time in my life.

Probiotic drinks like kefir water helped in the battle...

Slowly, but surely, the transformation had taken place.

Without super-human willpower. Without turning to salty foods (you’re either a sweet or salty person right?). Without totally socially ostracizing myself or giving up every food I love.

Combing back over the months I noticed several other things that finally helped me kick my sugar habit once and for all. To get to a place where it was possible to go out with friends and NOT order a piece of cheesecake when everyone else was. To not eat 10 dainties in one day over the holidays (like I talk about in this video).

Those things have helped move me – and my family-  into a place where energy dips and mood swings don’t dictate our day. Our sugar consumption is at an all time low.

And it’s been such a big part of renewing our health that I got really excited about sharing what works (and what doesn’t) with you. It’s the reason why Sherry and I designed a step-by-step sugar detox as our very first program of 2012.

You v.s. sugar. Are you up for it?

So if you’ve ever thought it was impossible to kick the habit, I can tell you there’s hope. And I’ll tell you first hand – life’s a whole lot sweeter without all that sugar!

Love,
Adrienne

 

Cheesy Almond Crackers

The secret to crispy thin crackers is using a pizza stone so that you can roll out your batter in as many directions as you need, to get it thin enough. Next, you turn the oven off and leave the crackers in for another 10 minutes. Pizza stones are $10-20 and worth every penny if you want to make crackers at home (which you will want to because the majority of crackers on the market use refined sugar, refined oil, table salt and often modified milk ingredients).

 Cheesy Almond Crackers

(makes 60-80 crackers)

What you will need:

2 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2- 1 tsp unrefined salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp ground flax
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup ghee/butter/coconut oil
Optional: pressed garlic

How to do it:

Step 1: Mix ground flax with 3/4 cup water and let stand.

Step 2: Mix almond flour, unrefined salt and baking soda.

Step 3: Mix butter (you may have to melt it) in with the flax/water mix and then stir into the dry ingredients.

Step 4: Form the batter into a ball and then split in half.

Step 5: Put parchment paper on a pizza stone (or cookie sheet) and press out half of the batter into a circle as evenly and thin as you can with your hands.

Step 6: Cover the dough with another piece of parchment paper and use a rolling pin to make it thinner and smoother.

Step 7: Cut into squares or triangles with a knife or pizza slicer.

 

Step 8: Prick each cracker with 3 pricks and sprinkle with salt.

Step 9: Bake @ 350 degrees F for 25 minutes.

Step 10: Turn the oven off and leave the crackers in for another 10 minutes.

If you you liked my seed crackers, you will love these!