Archive of ‘Chocolate’ category

Crunchy Low Carb Snack Bars

This will be my last post for awhile. I’ll be heading back to university this Monday and having an actual life!

When a good little low-carber wants something to snack on, she usually reaches for string cheese, sliced veggies, or a spoonful (or five, in my case) of peanut butter. Packaged diet bars and cookies just won’t do. They fail to satisfy the hunger like whole foods. Scary artificial sweeteners and the polyols that accompany them have very unpleasant side effects. Abstain from the “M” word–MALTITOL–if you have a social life and want to keep it. On top of that, a chewy, dry bar encased in a chocolate vegetable oil coating is a big disappointment to the natural food adapted palette. What’s a hungry health foodie to do?

A brilliant gal named Elana came up with a fancy shmancy version of coconut bark, chock full of nuts and seeds, slathered with a blanket of rich chocolate to make your snack time extra special. Spoil yourself rotten with these babies when you can’t look at another cold cut or celery stick. The coconut oil makes them a bit crunchy, tickling your corn chip- and pretzel-deprived taste buds. I cut down on the sugar, de-carbed the chocolate coating, and punched up the flavor with a little twist on the preparation. The testers absolutely flipped for the toasted pecan version. I’d recommend starting there and then following wherever your culinary imagination takes you! There are no hard and fast rules with this wonderfully versatile recipe.

One trick to maximize the lovely flavors of these natural ingredients: Toasting, my friend! Don’t be afraid of somehow “destroying the nutrients” in the nuts. Roasting the nuts can actually improve digestibility. I like to think that our tongue is so well designed that it knows what’s best for us, in the same way that it regulates sodium intake. These bars are even more fabulous with the aromatic, slightly smoky flavor that toasting imparts to the nuts and coconut, so don’t skip this step!

Crunchy and sweet, topped with a layer of smooth dark chocolate! You won’t believe they’re free of sugar and gluten. Promise.

Recipe Notes:
~To toast the ingredients, spread nuts and coconut flakes around a small pan. Pop ’em in the toaster oven and toast for one cycle on medium heat, watching closely to prevent excess browning of the coconut flakes. You might have to stir them around the pan mid-cycle.
~I buy unhulled sesame seeds for the highest calcium content. Get them at the bulk bin or refrigerated section of your local health food store.
~Non-hydrogenated palm oil based shortening is sold under two names, to my knowledge–Spectrum Organic shortening and Jungle brand shortening.
~I get my nuts, seeds, honey and almond butter from the bulk bin section at the health food store. You can buy as much or as little as you want that way. Just be sure to sample the almond butter for freshness.
~Peanut butter is the cheapest option, but almond butter lends a more neutral flavor. Make your own macadamia nut butter with a magic bullet or powerful food processor. Heat the nuts in the microwave for 20-30 seconds and blend. Macadamia nuts contain enough natural oil to turn into a smooth paste after enough pulsing and scraping.
~If you buy roasted pistachios, rinse the salt off under a colander, pat them dry, and toast them for one cycle under medium heat to crisp the pistachios back up.
~For the 85% chocolate, I alternate between Lindt, Ghirardelli, and Green & Black’s organic. Use whatever brand you prefer–the carb counts are similar.
~DON’T heat the flax seeds or hemp seeds. You want to keep those precious omega-3s intact!

The following is my absolute favorite version. It smells like a Samoa cookie, no joke!

Crunchy No-Bake Snack Bars

Ingredients:
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup pecans
1/4 cup golden flax meal (could also use sesame seed meal)
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup almond butter (could also use peanut or mac nut butter)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of raw honey
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons erythritol
1/8 teaspoon of pure stevia extract

Easy Chocolate Ganache Topping

Ingredients:
4 squares of 85% cacao chocolate
2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated palm oil shortening (could also use more coconut oil or organic unsalted butter)
1 tablespoon erythritol
1/8 teaspoon pure stevia extract
1 teaspoon organic heavy cream (or full fat coconut milk)

Preparation:
For Snack Bars:
Powder erythritol in coffee grinder or magic bullet. Toast coconut and nuts in a dry pan over medium-low heat or the toaster oven, until slightly browned. Pulse nut and seed mixture in a food processor just until nuts are chopped. Melt coconut oil and nut butter in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir until smooth. Add vanilla extract, honey, erythritol, stevia, and sea salt, stirring until incorporating. Fold into nut mixture. Press into an 8 by 4 pan with a spatula. Quick set in the freezer for 20 minutes. Cut into 6 bars. Store in the refrigerator, covered with a paper towel and plastic wrap.

For Ganache Topping:
Powder erythritol in coffee grinder or magic bullet. Melt shortening and chocolate in microwave in for 30 seconds. Stir until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Stir in cream, erythritol, and stevia, until mixture is completely blended. Spread over cooled bars immediately.

~4.35 grams net carbs per 1/6 of a recipe

Check out that funky green color! It’s from all the pistachios and pepitas. The flavor is pretty phenomenal, too. Very pistachio-y.

Pepita Pistachio Variation (a.k.a. REPTAR BARS, RAWRR!)

1/2 cup pistachios, roasted
1/4 cup plus two tablespoons pepitas, toasted
2 tablespoons hemp seeds (could use more pepitas)
1/4 cup sesame seeds (could also use golden flax seeds)
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup macadamia nut butter (could also use almond butter)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon raw honey
1/8-1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons erythritol
1/8 teaspoon pure stevia extract

Follow the steps listed above.

~6 grams net carbs per 1/6 of a recipe

Low Carb Chocolate Pots De Creme

Calling all chocolate lovers! You will think you’ve died and gone to heaven with this one. After testing out a few batches of Super Simple Biscuits, I had a lot of leftover egg yolks. Eight of them went into a traditional custard-based ice cream. To use up the rest, I googled “egg yolk dessert recipes” and found these yummy sounding ideas at GourmetSleuth. The Pots De Creme looked intriguing. Simple ingredients, check. Easy to de-carb, check. What really caught my eye was the variation using chocolate! After giving a test batch to my faithful friends slash recipe testers, it has become my most requested dessert. I promise that it only sounds intimidating with that fancy french name–preparation is a snap. This is one of the easiest and most delicious sugar-free, gluten-free desserts, ever. Step one for being the Hostess with the Mostest: Buy some adorable ramekins and serve up personal portions of this rich chocolate custard. Step two: Watch your guests’ eyes roll back in their heads and silently congratulate yourself!

Cut the intensity of the dark chocolate with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. You can make this dessert dairy-free by replacing the heavy cream with full fat coconut milk. To flavor the custard, use whatever flavoring you think pairs well with chocolate. I used pure almond extract for the pots de creme pictured here. Peppermint and orange would also be delicious. Top with a sprig of mint or a curl of orange zest for an elegant touch. I grated some leftover chocolate and sprinkled it over the custard. C’est magnifique!

Chocolate Pots De Creme
Adapted from a Bon Appétit recipe

Makes 3 servings

Ingredients:
1 cup organic heavy cream OR coconut milk
**2 ounces 85% percent cacao dark chocolate (I like Lindt and Green & Black’s), chopped
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (use whatever flavor you like) OR espresso powder
3 large organic egg yolks
5 tablespoons erythritol
1/8 teaspoon pure stevia extract
pinch of sea salt

**Cut the chocolate bar into thirds and use of two of them. Just eyeball it.

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Place 3 ramekins in a large roasting pan. Combine cream, chocolate, and espresso powder in a saucepan over medium low heat. Whisk every few minutes until chocolate melts. Stir to blend cream and chocolate completely. Do NOT overheat! You don’t want it to bubble up.

Powder erythritol in a coffee grinder or magic bullet. Whisk erythritol and stevia into egg yolks until mixture is smooth. Slowly pour the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking the whole time. Stir the mixture until totally smooth and divide between the 3 ramekins. Optional step: Use a toothpick to pop the little bubbles that form on the surface of the custards. Heat a measuring cup full of water for a couple of minutes in the microwave, and pour water in the roasting pan until it reaches about an inch up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35 minutes. The centers of the custards should still be very jiggly. Remove ramekins from water bath (wear potholders!). Let the custards cool to room temperature. Store them in the fridge covered with a paper towel and foil for at least 2 hours. I’d recommend making these before you go to bed so you don’t get antsy and sneak a taste before they’re ready!

~5g net carbs per huge serving

Ooey, Gooey and Gluten-Free: Brownies, Baby!

 

On certain very special Saturday mornings when I was growing up, a sweet aroma would tickle my nose, gently nudging me out of bed and into the kitchen. It was the smell of freshly baked brownies, cooling on the stove top in their 8 by 8 tin pan. It was my number one favorite treat when I was growing up–dense, fudgy (never cakey!) squares that fell apart in your napkin when you scooped ’em out of the hot pan. My mom always made the standard recipe out of the red checkered Homes and Gardens cookbook, never using a packaged mix or fancy toppings. The beauty was in the simplicity of these unadorned and positively addictive chocolate treats. They never lasted long around our house, although I do remember peeling back saran wrap and gnawing on cold brownie bits from the freezer. Yu-umm.

My first attempts to adapt that treasured recipe failed. There was something not quite right about my sugar-free concoctions. I tried tweaking the Homes and Gardens recipe by replacing the flour with various flour blends, and the sugar with erythritol. I would end up with shapeless goo or dry, flat blocks that were light and airy–decidedly unbrownie like. The standard low carb brownie recipes made out of various combinations of almond meal, flax meal, and cream cheese always lacked a characteristic “heaviness” of the stick-to-your-ribs treats of my childhood.

Enter the hero of our story, coconut flour. If you haven’t heard of it, listen closely, because what I’m about to say will change your life. It’s just coconut meat with the fat pressed out, pulverized into a fine powder. Though it may look like all purpose flour (cue ominous music), this magical substance is so fragrant and alive compared to its refined evil twin. Get it here, or pay twice as much at your local health food store.

I always have to stick my nose in the bag and inhale before baking with coconut flour. Now coconut flour can be tricky to work with, so you must follow a tried and true recipe, or be stuck with a pan full of door stops. The moisture-sucking quality of coconut flour must be tamed with copious amounts of eggs. Once you get the hang of it, you will be turning out moist muffins and fudgy brownies that put my Mom’s old recipe to shame. Blasphemy, I know!

Coconut flour is low in carbohydrates and high in dietary fiber, which correlates with a lowered glycemic index for whatever you’re baking. Low-carb, sugar-free, and gluten-free, these brownies can be part of a wholesome breakfast… or maybe a midnight snack. 😉

These are ah-mazing. The center of the brownie pan is almost molten chocolate. I like to eat this part first, with a spoon. The edge pieces are firm, but moist. These brownies are a hit of pure chocolate to the brain–not the least bit coconut-ty, if you’re worried about that. They’re perfectly sweet with a subtle hint of caramel flavor from the molasses. They’re so incredibly rich that one serving should be enough, with all of the healthful natural saturated fat these brownies contain. Make a small pan if you are feeling emotional, ladies.

UPDATE, 5.2.09: This recipe for coconut flour brownies is MUCH more reliable, and even more delicious!

Fourth of July Fun: Gluten-Free Low Carb Chocolate Cupcakes

I was in a celebratory kind of mood after class today, so I whipped up something indulgent for Independence Day!

We had been discussing fourth of July plans in my lab group, and I was thinking about what kind of dishes we’d have at the table this year. This time last year, I wouldn’t have given the issue a second thought. I wasn’t a reformed carboholic at that time. Thinking back, I’m having visions of potato salad and oh, those Lofthouse cookies. Now the thought of how sickly sweet those bland disks of white flour and sugar were is making my mouth pucker.

It’s funny how much your taste buds change after giving up processed food. After taste-testing the fruit puree for this dish, I had to gulp down my sparkling water because of the sweet taste coating my tongue. Even natural sugars are sometimes too intense for this steak salad lovin’ palate. Methinks this is a good thing, if considerably less exciting in how it limits my exploration of the bounty that processed food companies have to offer. No cute snacks to nosh on, exempting what I cook up myself, which basically entails cheese sticks and zucchini slices with salsa. Too lazy to put effort into snack food. It’s hard enough finding time to makeover the good stuff, the piece de resistance of the meal, the apex of the dining experience… dessert!

Bring these festive sugar- and gluten-free chocolate cupcakes to your fourth of July picnic, and be good to your friends and family. Or just save yourself the expense (Let’s be real–the weird natural ingredients add up!) and partake in one of these rich, dark chocolate treats before you’re surrounded by Ruffle chips, baked beans, and American flag sheet cake. One you’ve had your sweet fix, you can thoroughly enjoy your bunless burger and first and foremost, the good company. That’s what living well is all about, huh? It’s not having to worry about feeling uncomfortable from what simply fuels our bodies.

Witness explosions of tangy berry goodness.


Fudgey Firework Cupcakes

adapted from this recipe by Linda Sue

Yields 16 cupcakes

Ingredients:
1/2 cup organic butter
4 oz cream cheese
1 cup sweetener equivalent
For ALL NATURAL sugar-free sweetening, use all three of the following:
-1/2 cup erythritol or xylitol
-1/4-1/2 teaspoon pure stevia extract
5 organic eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups plus two tablespoons nut meal (almond, pecan, etc.)
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon xanthan or guar gum (optional, to reduce crumbliness)
1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
4 squares 85% cacao chocolate (Ghirardelli Midnight Reverie is my new favorite)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Soften butter and cream cheese in the microwave in 10 second intervals. Cream butter and cream cheese along with sweeteners until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and beat to incorporate. Add eggs one at a time, beating continuously. Stir together nut flour, baking powder, sea salt, gum, and cocoa powder. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in 2 steps, incorporating thoroughly after each time. Finally, beat in melted chocolate (use microwave and 15 second intervals). Grease muffin tins or silicone cups with non-hydrogenated palm oil shortening or butter. Mound batter just up to the tops of the tins, because it will rise and settle back down to the original level. Bake for 20 minutes, and remove cupcakes from the pan in their liners as soon as they are cool enough to handle. Let cupcakes cool individually on a wire rack for 20 minutes and store in an airtight container just as the cupcakes are lukewarm to the touch. You want to keep them moist, as erythritol doesn’t hold water in the baked good like sugar does. If you refrigerate the cupcakes, warm ’em up in the microwave for 10 seconds or so to get them soft again. Best consumed fresh, like anything made with all natural ingredients!

Tips:
~I used pecan meal because it’s more reasonably priced, but almond meal or any other finely ground nut would work just as well.
~Use Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa to give your cupcakes that super chocolatey taste you remember from when you were a kid!
~Use 1/2 teaspoon stevia if you want them to be as sweet as traditional chocolate cupcakes. I don’t like anything that sweet any more and use 1/4 teaspoon stevia.
~Remember to look for SUGAR-FREE vanilla extract! Many products have added sugar.

I used my Healthy Cream Cheese Frosting recipe with pure raspberry and blueberry puree. You might add some organic blue food coloring to the blueberry puree to make the color scheme truly patriotic! If you have extra puree, save it to flavor some Almost Instant Ice Cream or sweeten your morning cup of Fage yogurt.

Cowering in terror, waiting for the chocoholic to come back for more…

Berry Puree

Makes lots of puree!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup fresh or frozen organic raspberries or blueberries
stevia, to taste
Pinch of xanthan or guar gum (optional)

Preparation:
Microwave berries until soft and heated through. Blend until liquified. Add a pinch of veggie gum and stir well. Let puree rest for a few minutes to let it thicken. Spoon into a ziptop bag and snip a tiny piece off one of the corners. Pipe puree onto cupcakes.

Homemade Cocoa Cereal

Walking down the cereal aisle as a kid, I always looked longingly at the sugar-coated puffs and multicolored flakes made out of who-knows-what. The cartoon characters called to me from commercials, shilling cookies and rice crispy treats for breakfast. What kid doesn’t want a bowlful of dessert in place of those boring bran flakes her parents choke down? My mother rarely indulged my fantasies, but that didn’t mean I went without. Every chance I got to try one of those mythical products at a friends house, I did, filling up the bowl again and again until the milk was used up. The coolest part was the milk turning chocolately brown, or pink and fruity. Oh, to be so young and carefree…

If your kids are coo-coo for sugar cereals, or if you’re feeling nostalgic, OR if you just really like chocolate, try this super simple grain-free granola cereal made with real cocoa and a blend of nutrient-rich nuts and seeds. It provides you with a healthy dose of antioxidants, medium-chain saturated fats from the coconut oil, and polyphenols from the cocoa. You’ll be satisfied after one serving**, full for hours, and your teeth won’t feel like jumping out of your head when you’re finished!

I always have a bunch of different bags of munchies from the bulk bins at my local health food store stashed in the freezer. This recipe is so versatile that you can change up the nuts and seeds depending on what you have on hand. Just remember that nuts and seeds vary in carb counts, so adjust the proportions of different ingredients to your dietary needs.

Serve with unsweetened vanilla almond milk to maximize indulgence factor.
**DISCLAIMER: This stuff is dangerously good. Portion control with baggies and half recipes if necessary!

Chocolatey Granola Cereal

Ingredients:

For Granola:

Makes 2 heaping cups

1/4 cup unsalted butter or coconut oil
1/4 cup cocoa powder (don’t get Dutch-processed for maximum nutritional punch)
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
sweeteners, to taste
For ALL NATURAL sugar-free sweetening:
-3 tablespoons erythritol or xylitol
-1/2 teaspoon blackstrap molasses (optional)
-1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract)

1/8 teaspoon sea salt
4 squares of lindt 85% chocolate, melted (optional)
1 tablespoon flax meal
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 tablespoons nut meal (almond, pecan, whatever you like)
1/4 cup cacao nibs
1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut, shredded
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

For Cereal Flakes:

Makes about one cup

1/2 cup nut meal (pecan, almond, etc.)
2 tablespoons flax meal
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
sweetener, to taste (I used 1/8 teaspoon NuNaturals stevia)
1 egg white

Preparation:

For Granola:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Melt coconut oil or butter and chocolate squares (if using) in a small bowl in microwave until liquified. Stir in cocoa powder until smooth, with no lumps. Powder erythritol in a coffee grinder or blender. Whisk vanilla extract, erythritol, blackstrap molasses, additional sweeteners, and sea salt into coconut oil mixture. Mix dry ingredients together and stir in wet ingredients, using your hands to coat the nut and seed blend. Spread mixture over a parchment paper-lined baking pan. Bake for 55 minutes, stirring the mixture around occasionally. Remove from oven and spread over a paper towel set on a baking rack. It will continue to crisp up as the moisture evaporates.

For Flakes:

Mix together ingredients and roll in between pieces of parchment paper until very thin. Microwave on a piece of parchment paper, 50% power, for two minutes, stopping every 20 seconds to blot off oil. Let it dry out on a paper towel placed on a baking rack, then break up into flakes. To get them more crisp, stick ’em in the oven with the granola for a few minutes.

~8g net carbs per 1/2 cup serving

Tips:
~For richer granola, use the chocolate squares! It’s pretty great without them, too.
~The sesame seeds at a very distinct, addictive flavor to this. It won’t be the same without ’em, so get some!
~For more “clumpy” granola, use a couple of egg whites with the wet ingredients. I don’t mind my granola in small pieces, so I don’t waste the eggs on it.
~For cinnamon-nut granola, use cinnamon in place of the cocoa powder, and omit the cacao nibs. You could also replace the coconut flakes with more nuts, and use almond extract in place of vanilla.

Healthy Ice Cream Bars, Take Two!

After much tweaking and experimentation, here’s a vanilla version of my Easy Ice Cream Bars. The texture isn’t as smooth as it is with the peanut butter, so you should let ’em sit out for a moment before taking a bite. The yogurt brings a pleasant tang to the party.

Let’s take a moment to talk about the miraculous calorie-free naturally occurring sweetener: Erythritol! Erythritol is totally safe and has no aftertaste or unpleasant side effects like the other sugar alcohols. It has 70% of the sweetening power of sugar, with many of the properties that sugar imparts in baking (structure, mouthfeel, etc.) The one caveat: the “cooling” effect you can taste when erythritol re-crystallizes. It’s the weirdest sensation. You have to figure out a way to make the majority of erythritol present in the recipe stay dissolved so you can avoid that effect. I’m still tinkering around with it in recipes, but it’s slow-going because erythritol is precious stuff and I’m on a student budget. Z-sweet is the brand available locally. You pay a premium for buying it in stores, but it is worth the cost if you’re looking for a product not produced with genetically modified corn. I’ve been ordering 5 lb bags of erythritol online lately because I go through it so quickly. The best price I’ve found for it is at iherb.com, and online supplement retailer. No, erythritol is not something that cavemen would’ve consumed while foraging for food, but it does not wreak havoc on your body like sugar does. My justification for using it is that it was impossible to consume concentrated amounts of any form of sugar while living off the land, making erythritol the more “natural” way of eating than using, say, honey or maple syrup. We were not able to eat any refined sweeteners or copious amounts of fruit on a regular basis before the advent of agriculture, so it makes sense that our bodies are not designed to handle the 300+ carb per day diet that is standard now. Did you know that bears are the only animal in the wild showing signs of tooth decay?

The one I chomped into (shown on the left, obviously) is filled with a layer of mooshed up Sugar-Free Brownies. Yum! 

Easy Ice Cream Bars (Vanilla version)

Makes 6 small rounds

Ingredients:

Filling:
2 oz heavy cream, preferably organic
2 oz cream cheese
3 Tablespoons of ricotta cheese or strained greek-style yogurt
2 Tablespoons of erythritol (or 1.5 Tablespoons xylitol)
A pinch of pure stevia extract

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Coating:
1 Tablespoon unrefined coconut oil
2 squares Lindt extra dark 85% chocolate bar (or Ghirardelli 86% chocolate bar)
A pinch of pure stevia extract
Chopped nuts (optional)

Peanut Butter Coating:

4 teaspoons creamy peanut butter
2 teaspoons unrefined coconut oil or non-hydrogenated shortening
A pinch of pure stevia extract

Preparation:

Beat heavy cream with a mixer until it forms stiff peaks. Do not over beat or it will get clumpy, and turn to butter! Set whipped cream aside. Measure out granular erythritol or xylitol and powder in a coffee grinder or blender. Beat cream cheese, yogurt, erythritol, sweetener, and vanilla extract until the mixture is smooth and clump free. Test for sweetness. It should be a bit sweeter than you want the finished product. Using a spatula, fold cream cheese into the whipped cream until well combined. Shape ice cream rounds on a pan lined with parchment or waxed paper. Freeze for 1 hour or until firm.

Melt coating ingredients in the microwave in 10 second intervals, until liquified. Stir until smooth and add sweetener, to taste. Remove rounds from freezer and dip into coatings, or top with a layer of mushed up brownie/cookie dough/etc before dipping. You may need to set the round on the paper and spoon the coating over bare spots. Sprinkle bars with nuts immediately after dipping in the coating, if desired. Chill for another few minutes until the coating hardens.

So stuffed from all of this experimenting in the kitchen! Goodness, healthy eating is so trying. I’ve gotta go dump these off on my friends asap. For some reason, I don’t think they’ll mind.

Homemade Low Carb Ice Cream Bars– Worth screaming for

There is only one treat that my new health-concious palate still craves. You know how biting your nails isn’t nearly as satisfying after you’ve given up the habit for Lent? Foods are the same way with me. My former undercover lover, the pop-tart, tastes sickly sweet and cardboard-y to me now. So for you who are still struggling with sugar addiction: There is a light at the end of the tunnel! Your tastebuds change and things like bell peppers become candy-sweet. Well, this phenomenon did not happen with one demonic sugar-laden substance–ice cream! It tastes just as good as I remember, and seriously does things to my brain so I just can’t get enough. This poses a problem since my favorite vice consists of a wholesome blend of the following:

Milkfat and Nonfat Milk, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Whey, Mono and Diglycerides, Artificial Flavor, Guar Gum, Polysorbate 80, Carrageenan, and Vitamin A Palmitate.

There’s some calcium in there with the nonfat milk, but that’s about it in terms of nourishment. None of those other ingredients look too promising. Wonder what 19 years worth of this stuff does to you…

Fortunately, I have found a way to satisfy my ice-cream tooth (teeth?). The best part is that it takes minutes to whip up, with no strange ingredients or tools. Minimal effort for the pay-off, baby! With my low-carb ice cream bars, you have no excuse for caving to cravings and blowing $4.00 on toxic sludge for your body. You get the calcium from the cream and cream cheese (go organic if you can, at least on the cream!), the antioxidants from the chocolate, and the medium chain triglycerides from the coconut oil. Consume the Dilly bar‘s healthy cousin with gusto!

Easy Ice Cream Bars

Makes 4 bars

Ingredients:

Filling:
2 oz heavy cream (Organic Valley is deliciously thick!)
2 oz cream cheese
3 tablespoons of creamy peanut butter
2-4 tablespoons of sweetener
For ALL NATURAL sugar-free sweetening, use both of the following:
-1-2 tablespoons erythritol or xylitol
-1/8 teaspoon pure stevia extract

Chocolate Coating (for two bars):
1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil
2 squares Lindt extra dark 85% chocolate bar
Pinch of good-tasting pure stevia extract
chopped nuts (optional)

Peanut Butter Coating:
4 teaspoons creamy peanut butter
2 teaspoons coconut oil
sweetener, to taste

Preparation:
Beat heavy cream with a mixer until it forms stiff peaks. Do not over-beat or it will get clumpy and turn to butter! Set whipped cream aside. Beat cream cheese, sweetener, and peanut butter until the mixture is smooth and clump free. Test for sweetness. It should be a bit sweeter than you want the finished product. Using a spatula, fold cream cheese into the whipped cream until there are only a few white streaks. Shape ice cream rounds on a pan lined with parchment or waxed paper. Freeze for 1/2 hour.

Melt coating ingredients in the microwave in 10 second intervals, until liquified. Stir until smooth and add sweetener, to taste. Remove rounds from freezer and dip into coatings. You may need to set the round on the paper and spoon the coating over bare spots. Sprinkle bars with nuts immediately after dipping in the coating, if desired. Chill for another few minutes until the coating hardens.

~3g net carbs per treat!

Triple Chocolate Yogurt Parfait

Okay, let’s start simple. No cooking required with this one!

Being a chick, chocolate makes everything better. No really, it does. This is why I try to incorporate it into as many meals as possible, and was perfectly content, in the throes of my sugar addiction, replacing real food with vending machine fare. There is something about chocolate that goes straight your head and makes problems magically disappear while you’re licking the melty stuff off the Snickers wrapper. Problem is, the after effects of processed candy can kill the mood. The good news is, dark chocolate contains potent antioxidants exceeding the levels found in red wine (<– not a good breakfast option). The nibs are raw, unprocessed cacao with. Additionally, the saturated fat in cocoa is found to boost good cholesterol levels. Scientific debate aside, it just tastes so darn good!

Paired all of that goodness with yogurt, which provides 15% of your RDA of calcium along with 14g of protein, not to mention the probiotic boost courtesy of the friendly bacterial strains that give yogurt its delectable tang. You wanna get sick less and possibly live longer? You wanna burn fat and keep your hip bones intact when you’re 80? Eat up! It’s kinda crazy how many health benefits are associated with this stuff. With only 11g net carbs, you won’t feel a bit of remorse indulging in what looks (and tastes… promise!) like dessert for breakfast.


from left: flavorganics sugar-free vanilla extract, scharffenberger unsweetened cocoa powder, hershey’s special dark cocoa powder, lindt 85% cacao extra dark chocolate bar, raw cacao nibs

Triple Chocolate Yogurt Parfait

1 7 oz container strained greek-style yogurt (I love FAGE total!)
1-2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
2 squares of 85% cacao extra dark chocolate (I like Lindt or Ghirardelli)
sweeteners, to taste
stevia
-erythritol

splash of pure vanilla extract
cacao nibs
sugar-free whipped cream (optional)
grated chocolate (optional)

Stir cocoa powder into yogurt until thoroughly combined. Melt squares of dark chocolate until liquified in microwave, watching carefully to avoid burning. I like to do this in 10 seconds increments, stirring every time. When chocolate is melted, stir it quickly into a couple of spoonfuls of the yogurt. Add it back into the rest of the yogurt and combine until streaks of chocolate are no longer visibile. Add sweeteners and vanilla extract, tasting and adjusting accordingly. Layer with cacao nibs so you get some crunch with every bite, or just sprinkle the nibs over the top. Garnish with whipped cream and more grated chocolate (use a cheese grater or zester).

Note the spoon standing up in the yogurt. It really is that luxuriously thick!

~11g net carbs per massive sundae

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