Don't let the blueberries fool you…there's chocolate in this blog.

Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Healthier “Mounds” Chocolate Coconut Candies


Since one of my rules is not to eat anything I can’t pronounce, I had to say goodbye to the sodium metabisulfite (what?) and come up with a healthier version.  Now I’ll admit, while I have eliminated most refined sugar from my diet, there is one case where I have not…and that’s a good organic dark chocolate bar.  I’m learning how to use unsweetened chocolate and sweeten it myself, but until I figure out the perfect balance I will continue to use my favorite dark chocolate, Green & Black’s 85% cacao. Its ingredients are: “Organic Chocolate Liquor, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Fat-Reduced Cocoa Powder, Organic Raw Cane Sugar, Organic Vanilla Extract, Organic Whole Milk Powder *”  Acceptable, in my book! (and delicious too!)

Healthier Chocolate Coconut Candies:

1.  Start with 1/2 unsweetened, shredded coconut. I use this brand:

2.  Add 1/4 cup virgin coconut oil and 1 Tbsp. raw honey.  Mix well, and pack tightly into a tablespoon or cookie scoop.

3.  Scoop onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze for at least a half hour.

4.  Melt chocolate using microwave instructions here.  Drizzle frozen coconut balls with chocolate.

5.  Freeze for another half hour until hardened. Enjoy!!!

Reader Feedback:  What are your favorite chocolate candies? Let me know and I will try to recreate a healthier version for you!


Caramelized Onion Cauliflower Gratin

Oh my……YUM!  I had a head of cauliflower that I had to use soon before it went bad, but was tired of the same old roasted cauliflower.  As good as it is, I needed something different.  I also had an onion that was close to expiration, and so I thought I’d caramelize it (my favorite way to eat an onion) and figure out what to do with it later.  I never thought this would be as decadently delicious as it turned out.  The Greek Yogurt adds a wonderful creaminess and the onions add so much richness and flavor.  This will definitely become a staple in my house!

Cauliflower is one of the most versatile veggies.  With a mild flavor that takes on what its paired with, it can be delicious simply roasted with salt, pepper and a little bit of parmesan, mashed in place of potatoes, made into rice, pizza crusts, etc.  The possibilities are endless! Also, with a nutrition profile like this , it’s a food you definitely want to include on a regular basis! Cauliflower is low in fat, low in carbohydrates but high in fiber, folate, water and Vitamin C possessing a high nutritional density.  It also contains several phytochemicals common to veggies in the cabbage family.

Caramelized Onion Cauliflower Gratin

(serves 4)

1 medium sized head of cauliflower

1 large onion, caramelized (see instructions below)

2 Tbsp. buttter

3 Tbsp. cream cheese

2 Tbsp. grated parmigiano-reggianno cheese 

1/4 cup Greek Yogurt (I used FAGE nonfat)

1 cup shredded cheddar

Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Heat a large non-stick skillet to medium heat and melt butter.  Slice onion into thin strips and add to pan.  Sprinkle with salt to “sweat” the onions.  This will draw out some of their liquid.

Saute until translucent, stirring frequently.  When onions just start to brown, turn heat down to medium-low.  Cook for approx. 20 minutes until caramelized. Set aside.

Cut cauliflower into small florets

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt.  Boil cauliflower for 6 minutes or until very tender (test with fork). Drain and return to the pan.  Add the cream cheese, grated parmigiano-reggiano, Greek yogurt, salt and pepper and mash using a handheld potato masher.

Mash until all ingredients are well mixed.

Stir in caramelized onions and pour mixture into an 8×8 baking dish.  Top with shredded cheese.

Bake for 15-20 mins. or until cheese is bubbly. Enjoy!

Reader Feedback:  What is your favorite way to enjoy cauliflower?

Ginger Lime Chicken with Creamy Asian Slaw

So I’ve had a  head of cabbage sitting in the fridge that I had to do something with.  I saw a recipe over at Detoxinista that looked intriguing, so I thought I’d give it a try.  I’m glad I did, because it was DELICIOUS!! I’ve never been a big cabbage fan or even cole slaw eater, but I can see myself making this on a regular basis now.  In its raw state, cabbage contains iron, calcium, and potassium. High marks are given for its vitamin C content. Did you know it has more Vitamin C than an orange?  It is storehouse to many phyto-chemicals like thiocyanates, indole-3-carbinol, lutein, zeaxanthin, sulforaphane and isothiocyanates. These compounds are powerful anti-oxidants and known to help protect against breast, colon, and prostate cancers and help reduce LDL or “bad cholesterol” levels in the blood. All for a measly 25 calories for 100g.  That’s a good deal if you ask me!

Chicken Marinade (for 3 large chicken breasts or 2 lbs):

2 Tbsp. Tamari (gluten free soy sauce)

2 cloves (1 tsp.) minced garlic

1 tsp. fresh grated ginger

1 tsp. honey

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

Place chicken breasts on a cutting board and cover with plastic.  Pound them until thin.  This helps tenderize them as well as lessening the thickness.   I just use the back side of a small frying pan– no fancy meat mallets required!







Place chicken and marinade in a sealable freezer bag.  This ensures that every possible surface of the chicken is in contact with the marinade.







Creamy Asian Dressing (courtesy of Detoxinista): I double it here because I used 14 oz. of shredded cabbage.  I also use honey instead of Stevia drops.

1/2 cup creamy raw almond butter
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons tamari (wheat-free soy sauce)
2 small clove garlics, minced (about 1 tsp.)
freshly minced ginger, to taste (I used about 1 tsp.)
1 tsp. honey

If shredding your own cabbage, cut into small chunks and pulse in your food processor until finely chopped.







Toss with marinade. Refrigerate for at least an hour.  The longer it marinades, the better it tastes! I had it for lunch yesterday and was very satisfied.  It’s very filling!







Grill the chicken and serve with slaw.  Enjoy!

Reader Feedback: What are your favorite ingredients and techniques for incorporating Asian flavors into your meals?

Eggplant Parmesan (with Almond Flour)

Since my husband is away I figured I might as well make some dinners that he doesn’t like– one of them is anything eggplant.  I on the other hand LOVE it, but haven’t had it since removing flour from my diet.  That is until now, because almond flour is the *perfect* substitute, and in fact I’d even go as far as to say it tastes better!

Eggplant is super healthy.  Check it out!  It can be a bit bitter though, so I “sweat” mine before cooking it, which draws out some of the water as well as eliminating any potential bitterness.  All sweating means is sprinkling with salt and letting it sit for 30 mins. at room temperature.  I use sea salt, but regular salt will do.

1. Slice one large eggplant (peeled or unpeeled, depending on personal preference), and sprinkle with a small amount of salt. Set aside for 30 minutes.  

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

3.  Rinse the eggplant and pat dry with paper towels.  

4.  Beat one egg with a little bit of water.

5.  Dip eggplant in the egg mixture and dredge through almond flour.  I use Honeyville brand.

6. Heat 4 Tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Arrange eggplant and fry for 3-5 mins. on each side, until golden brown. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.

7.  Cover the bottom of a baking pan with your favorite tomato sauce.  I use Wegmans Organic Chunky Marinara. (I used 8×8 for a small eggplant– for a big one, you may need a 9 x 13 baking pan) 

8.  Arrange eggplant in a single layer and top with a layer of marinara and shredded mozzarella.  I used this Italian Blend made by Organic Valley, which has four Italian cheeses in it– if you are using plain mozzarella, you may want to also add Parmesan cheese.  Add the rest of the eggplant and top with the rest of the sauce and cheese.  

9.  Bake for approx. 15 mins. or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.  

10.  Enjoy!

My Favorite Salad (and a love affair with Avocado)

Hi, my name is Cheryl and I’m an addict.  No, this post isn’t about chocolate as you might assume….it’s avocado! In a quest to find filling foods as meat replacements (I’m not giving up meat, but looking to cut back on my consumption of it), I learned that the avocado is a complete source of protein, containing all 18 essential amino acids! Who knew?!  It is incredibly nutrient dense, which is what I’m going after in my diet; foods that have the max amount of nutrients per calorie.  Check out the amazing nutrient profile of this creamy, delicious fruit (yes, fruit).

The possibilities are endless for using avocado.  It’s not just for guacamole.  It can be used in desserts too! I’m going to try making a chocolate mousse using it once my husband gets back from his business trip.  Mmm, I can’t wait.  In the meantime, my favorite way of getting in my daily avocado is straight-up in a salad.  Almost every day I have this for lunch– usually with cucumber too, but I forgot to add them before I took the picture– So delicious and simple.

1.  Large serving of organic chopped romaine.

2.  Sliced red pepper strips

3.  Half of a Haas avocado

4.  Half a large cucumber

5.  Dressing: 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, 1 tsp, dijon mustard, dash of salt and fresh ground pepper.  

*A note on salad dressings:  Most store bought salad dressings contain chemicals and are loaded with sugar.  When it’s so easy to make your own, why spend the money on something sub-standard and not so healthy for you? My rule is if I can’t pronounce it, I don’t want to put it in my body.  Check out this great article on some of the harmful ingredients in your salad dressing.

What are your favorite salad ingredients? How often do you eat avocado? Do you ever use it in place of meat for meals?

Dark Chocolate Almond Bark (Refined Sugar Free)

While I must say it’s been a pretty easy transition off of refined sugar to natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup (click each to read about the health benefits), the one thing I have not been able to give up is CHOCOLATE.  Even though I choose the darkest chocolates with high percentages of cacao, and even though they’re organic, they still contain sugar.  So, in an attempt to circumvent that minor detail yet assuage my chocolate addiction, I decided to try starting off with a 100% cacao bar– unsweetened– and sweeten it myself.  Have you ever taken a bite of baker’s chocolate before?  GROSS!  But if I could re-write the famous song from Mary Poppins, “A spoonful of pure maple syrup makes the medicine go down” I would, because this is soooo good! I got this idea from a recipe I found on the Tropical Traditions website (my favorite coconut oil), except instead of using cocoa powder and sugar, I am substituting the unsweetened chocolate and maple syrup, and also adding some chopped sprouted almonds.  What in the world are ‘sprouted almonds’ you ask? Well, they are almonds that have been soaked for at least 12 hours, after which time more enzymes are released making them more nutritious.  They are also lighter to chew and easier to digest.

1. Chill a baking pan in the freezer for at least a half hour.  

2. Follow the instructions for melting down the bars of chocolate in the microwave, here.

3. Once melted, stir in the coconut oil, maple syrup and chopped almonds.  The 1/3 cup I’m using here makes for a very rich, dark chocolate.  If you like it sweeter, adjust to taste.  Spread the mixture evenly in the pan and freeze for at least an hour.  

Break up into pieces using the edge of a sharp knife.  Enjoy!

This is kind of like making your own chocolate bar.  You decide the level of sweetness, and add your favorite ingredients.  What would your favorite chocolate candy bar consist of?


2 4-oz. bars of 100% unsweetened dark chocolate.

1 1/2 tbsp. coconut oil

1/3 cup (or more, depending on taste) pure maple syrup

1 handful ingredients of your choice.

Zucchini Pasta with Chunky Marinara and Sweet Italian Sausage

Have you ever felt sleepy after eating a big pasta dish? That’s your body reacting to the overload of carbohydrates and sugar it just ingested.  Pasta made from regular white flour and even whole wheat flour both have the same negative effect on your blood glucose levels, sending them skyrocketing only to have them crash a short time later (hence the need for a nap!).   A great way of getting a huge serving of healthy green veggies in with your dinner, this fresh zucchini “pasta” will have you fooled into thinking you’re eating the real thing, except instead of empty calories, each bite will be supplying you with loads of essential vitamins and nutrients.  Just check out the amazing nutrition profile of this delicious summer veggie.

The sweet Italian style chicken sausage gives the dish the perfect kick of flavor, and hearty fresh marinara blends the flavors together wonderfully.

Start with fresh organic zucchini and julienne it using a peeler like this one.  A regular vegetable peeler will work too if you want more fettuccine-like ribbon style pasta, but I will say this tool has become my favorite tool to use in the kitchen.  I think it’s definitely worth the purchase!

1. Heat a large skillet to medium high heat.  Pour in 2 Tbsp. olive oil.

2. Once oil is heated, add 2 tsp. minced garlic.  Saute garlic for approx. 1 minute. 

3. Add zucchini to pan and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Saute, tossing frequently for approx. 2-4 minutes, until softened but not mushy. It should have the consistency of al dente pasta. 

4. Remove from heat and drain excess water. 

5. Add another Tbsp. olive oil to the pan and brown your sausage.  I use Al Fresco Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage, but you can use whatever variety you want. 


6. Top with your favorite tomato sauce.  My current favorite is Wegmans Organic Chunky Marinara.  It has no sugar in it, and tastes fabulous!

6.  Toss in the browned chicken sausage, and sprinkle with a good Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

7. DIG IN!

Do you have inventive ways of using vegetables in your dinner recipes? I’d love to hear from you!

The Spunky Coconut

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Elana's Pantry

New York Times Bestselling author Elana Amsterdam founded Elana’s Pantry, the go-to website for easy, healthy, grain-free, Paleo recipes, in 2006


Don't let the blueberries fool you...there's chocolate in this blog.