Date-Sweetened Fridge Fudge

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Does topping fudge with hemp seeds make it healthy?  I think so!

I wanted to create a rich, chewy fudge with no refined sweeteners.  This recipe uses soft, naturally sweet medjool dates.  Blended up with a few other ingredients, you get an incredibly rich fudge you can feel good about eating…  thanks to plenty of yummy, healthy-for-you fats and antioxidant-rich, mood-boosting cocoa.  Hemp seed topping optional!

0821151144aDate-Sweetened Fridge Fudge

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pitted medjool dates
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup cashew butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut butter (or coconut oil)
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • Dash of sea salt and vanilla extract

Blend all ingredients together until creamy in a food processor.  Spread into container of your choice, depending on how thick you want your squares.  I used a 7″ X 5″ glass container.  Keep it plain or top with any kind of nut or seed (hemp shown in the picture).  Walnuts or macadamia nuts would be awesome.  Try peppermint extract for chocolate-mint fudge.  Coffee extract for mocha fudge sounds divine too.  Chill in fridge.  Store in fridge or freezer.

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Calorie Counting? Skip it and Trust Your Body

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Counting calories was something I used to frequently recommend to clients for weight loss, but I have found myself doing this less and less often.  In theory, the concept appears to make perfect sense:  Calculate how many calories your body needs based on your current height and weight and simply eat less than this and you will lose weight.

The only problem is– this approach of emphasizing a number of calories rather than the quality of calories usually doesn’t work and if it does, it only works short-term before you regain any lost weight. Can you relate?

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Your body knows how many calories it needs better than any calculator or diet plan.  We’ve been blessed with a handy built-in feature called appetite (we’ve got one called thirst too!); if only we would listen to this instead of trying to fight it and control it.  As a child you knew when to eat and when to stop eating because you were in sync with your internal messages.  Somehow, somewhere along the path of life, this innate gift often gets lost.

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A COOL Use for All That Zucchini

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Does overabundance anxiety disorder exist?  I have this thing about not wasting good food.  And while I am always extremely grateful when I have a full fridge, I also experience a sense of unease when I’ve got too much perishable food at once.   So, when my zucchini were growing inches overnight and friendly neighbors were bringing over zucchini from their own gardens, panic began to creep in as my zucchini collection multiplied and filled my crisper bin.

There are only so many nights in a row you can eat zoodles (spirilized zucchini), grilled zucchini or sliced sautéed zucchini.  There must be another way to use up all these zucchinis and not let them go to waste!

My solution:  Chop them up and freeze them for smoothies.  They have a neutral flavor and add a creaminess that can replace frozen bananas.  Bonus:  You get a hidden vegetable in your delicious drink.  I suppose you could use them in place of ice for just about any kind of smoothie but so far I’ve only made this chocolate one.

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I sliced them into rounds and then quartered the rounds before freezing.

Almost this entire bowlful went into this drink!

 

 

 

 

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Chocolate Zucchini Coconut Date Shake

  • 2 1/2 cups (more or less) frozen chopped zucchini
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk (canned)
  • 2 medjool dates
  • 2 T cocoa powder
  • 1 T chia seeds

Add all ingredients to a blender and whizz away until smooth.  The more frozen zucchini you add, the thicker your shake.  Adjust to your own liking.

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The chia seeds were a last minute addition.  When you buy jumbo sized containers of things at BJs like I do, you tend to find creative ways to use them.  If you don’t have chia seeds, you don’t need them to make a smoothie– but eat them once in a while since they are good for you!

 

 

 

That’s a nice feature of smoothies– you can sneak in all kinds of healthy ingredients.  I love the combo of ginger and chocolate so I added a chunk of peeled, fresh ginger root.  Play around with using zucchini as your base but invent your own drink.  Maybe try almond milk, dates and peanut butter if you don’t like coconut and chocolate.

I’d love to hear about any frozen zucchini-shakes you make!

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“The trouble is, you cannot grow just one zucchini. Minutes after you plant a single seed, hundreds of zucchini will barge out of the ground and sprawl around the garden, menacing the other vegetables. At night, you will be able to hear the ground quake as more and more zucchinis erupt.”  Dave Barry

 

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Frozen Green Tea Cooler

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The hot weather is back this week and we’re all looking for healthy ways to keep cool.  Water is great but sometimes you want something different.

During the last hot spell I got on a bit of a frozen drink kick.  Smoothies and this Vegan Frozen Chai Latte hit the spot when I wanted something refreshing and wasn’t in the mood for plain water.

This week I got out my green tea and honey and blended up this simple concoction.

The secret to the intense green tea flavor is to blend green tea with ice made from green tea.

Add a touch of honey if you like it a little sweet or keep it to straight tea if you don’t want the sugars.

 

 

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Quick Summer Salad Idea: Greens, Seafood and Avocado

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Garden greens, sardines, guacamole and sriracha sauce– delicious!

With this hot summer weather I suspect you are craving more cold meals and maybe (hopefully!) more salads as well!  Yes, salads sure CAN be the meal.  And a very satisfying meal at that.  The secret:  You just have to  add the right toppings.  This means making sure you have a source of protein and fat with your veggies.

I know what some of you are thinking because I hear it all the time… why in the world would I want to purposely include FAT in my meal?!  There is still a lot of outdated and downright wrong information circulating about fats and they get an undeserved nasty reputation.  The truth is:  healthy sources of fats don’t make you fat and no, they don’t clog your arteries.  Fats contribute to making a meal satisfying and help to keep you full longer.  They support hormone balance and help stabilize blood sugar levels so you tend to crave and eat less.  They also contain essential fatty acids that are crucial for a healthy body and brain.

AND… fats taste good!  I ♥ fats!

But you have to choose healthy fats.  Fats are easily damaged when exposed to heat, light and oxygen– all of which happens in the processing of most oils, including those found in bottled salad dressings.  Coconut oil and extra-virgin olive oil are more stable fats but try to stick to whole-food fats as much as possible for maximum nutritional value.  One of my favorite healthy fats is the avocado.  Sliced fresh or in the form of guacamole, it’s a perfect fat for salads and it can sub as a replacement for oil-based dressings.

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Adventures in Chicken Livers and Squid

Do you eat the same foods over and over, day in and day out?  Try something new!

Incorporating new foods into your diet once in a while can be a good habit for your health.  If each food has it’s own unique set of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, doesn’t it make sense to eat a wide range of things so that all of your nutritional bases are covered?  I think so.

Just to be clear, by new foods I am not referring to roaming the grocery store aisles in search of new flavors of boxed cereals, canned soup or potato chips!  I’m talking about new fruits, vegetables, tubers, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, meats, seafoods and even things like green teas, fermented foods, spices or dark chocolate.

While I see my diet as containing a rather broad array of foods, something that I have been meaning to try is organ meats.  For one thing, the nutrient density of organ meats is phenomenal.  And for another, I’m into the idea of eating “nose to tail” as they call it in the real-foods eating circles.  People used to eat like this, and in many parts of the world still do.  Why do we waste perfectly good animal parts?  In our culture we tend to stick to the muscle meats and avoid the offal (ironically pronounced “awful”– a term for organ meats– derived from the words “fall” and “off” in reference to the innards that fall off when an animal is butchered.)

So, last week at Pat’s Pastured while we were purchasing their delicious bacon and a dozen duck eggs, we decided to finally get some chicken livers.  I did a little recipe research online and settled on one called Crispy Spiced Chicken Livers from Everyday Maven.

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Rhode Island’s June and July Produce

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Fresh from my garden!

We got some, the squirrel got some.

 

 

 

As summer merrily rolls along, the excuses to not eat more fresh fruits and vegetables quickly lose their validity.  No more complaining of the produce tasting so awful in the winter.  (Which, by the way, I have to respectfully disagree).  But I will agree, fresh IS best.  Just take a peek around you because it’s hard to miss the local produce showing up everywhere.

Local farms all over Rhode Island have more and more available as their crops ripen.  According to the Rhode Island Harvest Calendar from Farm Fresh RI, June is the month for arugula, asparagus, basil, beets, bok choi, broccoli, cabbage, cherries, cilantro, collards, dill, endive, escarole, fennel, kale, leeks, lettuce, microgreens, mint, mushroom, oregano, peas, radishes, raspberries, rhubarb, rosemary, scallions, spinach, sprouts, swiss chard, watercress, watermelon and zucchini in Rhode Island.

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New Nutrition Office in North Kingstown

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Are you ready to make some changes to become a healthier you?

My new office just opened in The Meadows office park in North Kingstown and I couldn’t be more excited!  I am here to help you succeed with your nutrition goals by providing professional guidance, support and accountability.

Change isn’t easy and you don’t have to handle it alone.

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I am what I call a “real-foods” dietitian.  My philosophy is to strive for balance and not perfection.   I promote a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods with which to nourish your body.  I promise that I will not put you on a diet. :)   Instead, how about replacing highly processed foods with real foods?  Don’t you love the concept of eating food that you will enjoy and that will make you feel amazing?  Trying to eat the lowest amount of calories, carbohydrates or fat isn’t the answer. 

 

Dieting isn’t what nutrition counseling is all about.   What we will be working together on is improving the quality of your diet through healthy habit changes and altering the way you see food.  (Hint:  Food is not the enemy!)

So, what can you expect?

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Snickerdoodles

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Did you know that recipe testing is an official part of my job description?  I have to try new things to keep up a fresh supply of ideas for you at our visits!  My recent favorite happens to be a cookie– did you also know that desserts are my favorite type of recipe to test?

 

 

 

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Nothing for dinner

…Or is there?

When you’ve put off grocery shopping, your meats are frozen solid because you forgot to plan ahead and you’re down to what feels like nothing to eat, I’m here to tell you that you can just about always put something decent together.  Most of us probably have enough food between the freezer, fridge and pantry to keep us alive for several months.

You just need to get a little creative and this is a skill I love to encourage people to acquire.

Think outside the box.  I actually find it a fun challenge to see what I can scrounge up sometimes! While I definitely recommend being in the habit of planning meals ahead of time, there are most certainly going to be those days when that’s not going to happen.

Here is what I came up with last night when I thought…. “there is nothing in this house to eat for dinner.”

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