Simple Chocolate Nut Butter Spread

Before becoming lactose intolerant, I loved Nutella. Perhaps a little too much. A finger dip here, a spoonful there; to my uneducated tastebuds it was truly happy in a jar. But let’s be honest here: Nutella is not the well-rounded health food the commercials make it out to be. Besides containing milk, soy, and an artificial flavor called vanillin, the first ingredient isn’t even hazelnuts: it’s sugar. The second? Non-sustainable palm oil, the harvesting of which is responsible for orangutang endangerment and deforestation – a contributing factor of global warming. It’s also very high in saturated fat, which can cause heart disease, increase cholesterol levels, and raise blood pressure. Find out more about palm oil here. Turns out Nutella isn’t so great after all.

But you know what is great? A healthy, tasty, natural alternative. This Chocolate Nut Butter Spread can be put together easily with three ingredients you already have on hand: nut butter, cocoa/cacao powder, and honey. Use hazelnut butter (make your own with this easy recipe) if it’s the Nutella taste you’re after. Almond butter is reminiscent of Ferroro Rondoir chocolates. And who can resist the classic combo of peanut butter and chocolate? For a decadent dessert, try it atop So Delicious Coconut Milk Vanilla Bean “ice cream” and sliced bananas sprinkled with cinnamon (pictured below).

This recipe is:

• Dairy-free
• Gluten-free
• Soy-free
• Refined sugar-free
• Vegan*


Simple Chocolate Nut Butter Spread

• 2 tablespoons unsweetened creamy nut butter of your choice
• 1/2 tablespoon raw cacao or best-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 teaspoon honey

1. In a small bowl, combine nut butter and cacao powder. Add honey and stir until well mixed. Taste and enjoy.

Food Feature Friday: Coconut

I’m constantly looking for recipes ideas, though I hardly ever follow one recipe to a T when I cook. Needless to say, I come across a lot of amazing ones (I have a whole email folder devoted to them!) that I never have a chance to make. Every Friday I’m going to feature 5 recipes from different blogs and sites based around a certain ingredient that I’m totally digging. Just think of it as a little bit of healthy food porn before you start your weekend.

This weeks recipes all feature coconut! Mildly sweet and slightly nutty (aren’t we all?) coconut contains essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, iron, manganese, selenium and potassium, with the oil containing medium chain fatty acids that can help lower cholesterol, decrease abdominal obesity, enhance your immune system, and even protect against STDs – pretty impressive, right? It’s delicious and wholly nutritious, so try it out!

Munch and Chew: Pumpkin Coconut Quesadillas
You read that correctly. I stumbled across these babies today and knew right away they needed to be shared. These are vegetarian and gluten-free (with corn tortillas) and can be made vegan/dairy-free if you omit the cheese and sour cream. She also has a ton of other great recipes, so check it out!

The First Mess: Vegan Coconut, Almond + Quinoa Breakfast Cakes
These vegan breakfast cakes look like perhaps the best kind of pancake I’ve ever seen. They can be made gluten-free by using all-purpose GF flour. With healthy quinoa, bananas, cacao, and 3 different coconut-derived ingredients, your belly is going to be just as happy as your taste buds.

Food and Wine: Carrot-Ginger Soup with Coconut-Roasted Shrimp
Spring brings gorgeous aromatic bunches of carrots to the farmers markets here in Southern California, and this combination of the sweet carrots, spicy ginger, and tropical coconut shrimp  seems perfect for the transition from spring into summer.

Honest Cooking: Coconut Milk and Honey Pops
I could have included coconut milk ice cream, but I don’t have an ice cream maker so I included something a little easier– pops! This frozen treat uses three ingredients max and includes no added sugar!

This Chick Cooks: Chicken Bites Fried in Coconut Oil
If you’re like me, there’s a good chance you get a craving for some fried chicken every now and then. Frying with coconut oil is probably the healthiest (and tastiest) way to accomplish this (and they’re gluten- and dairy-free!)

Gluten-free Dairy-free Plum Crumble

This recipe is a classic in the making. I’ve brought it to three events in the past month and every single time people rave about it – and no one can ever guess it’s gluten and dairy free! The recipe seems to be best with plums, especially now that they’re in season, though it’s delicious with crisp apples as well. Happy baking!

Note: The recipe below is for the 9×9 option, though the pictures show the 13×9 version I made for Easter.

This recipe is:
– Gluten-free
– Dairy-free
– Soy-free*

But first, some eye candy…

Fresh from the farmers market

Sweet and delicious

So pretty!Ready to be crumble-ized

The finished product!

• 2 tablespoons brown sugar
• 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup gluten-free flour
• 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup blanched almond meal
• 1/4 teaspoon plus 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, divided
• 2 heaping tablespoons of finely chopped candied ginger
• 6 plums, sliced and pits removed
• 3/4 cup granulated sugar or sucanat
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 large egg, well-beaten
• 1/2 cup Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread/sticks, melted (use the Soy-free Earth Balance to make the recipe soy-free)

1. Preheat oven to 375° F, with rack in center.
2. In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 tablespoon each gluten-free flour and almond meal, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger. Add to sliced plums and mix until thoroughly coated. Arrange, skin side up, in an ungreased 9×9″ baking pan.
3. Combine remaining 1 tablespoon brown sugar, sugar/sucanat, baking powder, 1/2 cup GF flour, 1/2 cup almond meal, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, salt, and candied ginger. Mix well. Stir in egg. Then, using hands, mix thoroughly until only small, dry crumbs remain. If your batter is too wet, add an additional tablespoon of almond meal and/or gluten-free flour and mix. Sprinkle over plums.
4. Drizzle the melted Earth Balance spread evenly over crumb mixture and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. The crumble is done when the top is brown and crusty. 5. Remove from oven and let cool. Serve warm or refrigerate for up to two days, though if lasts that long, you’re a better person than I.

Five-ingredient Gluten-free Dairy-free Almond Meal Muffins. Yes, seriously.

Muffins aren’t exactly the picture of health. With boatloads of added sugar, saturated fat, carbs, carbs, and more carbs, they should be the last thing on your list if you’re looking for a healthy way start to your day. These muffins defy that with just five ingredients (!), healthy fats, and no refined sugar. The original recipe comes from Elana’s Pantry, one of my go-to sites for  GFDF recipes, and is based on ratios. The recipe is delicious as-is, but I’ve included a few add-in variations below if you want to mix things up.

Note: This recipe makes four muffins only, which is perfect if you’re cooking for yourself – but decidedly less perfect if you’re bringing them to brunch with your girlfriends.

Almond Meal Muffins

Almond Meal Muffins

This recipe is:
– Gluten-free
– Dairy-free
– Soy-free
– Refined sugar-free

• 1 cup almond meal
• 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
• 2 large eggs
• 1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey
• 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 4 muffin tins with papers.
2. Mix together almond meal and baking soda in a small bowl.
3. In a large bowl, mix together eggs, sweetener, and cider vinegar.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing to combine. Pour the batter into the lined tins and bake for 15 minutes, until the top turns golden brown.

• Replace all or part of the sweetener with pure maple syrup
• Add in 1 tsp pure vanilla extract to the wet ingredients
• Add 1 tsp cinnamon to the dry ingredients

Coconut Oil Fried Rice Bowl

I try to limit my consumption of grains, even those that are gluten-free, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love a good rice bowl – it’s my version of comfort food. This version is simple, and the virgin coconut oil adds a lovely sweet flavor to the dish without the need for soy sauce or sugar. Fried rice is traditionally made with leftover rice, so use that if you have it, and feel free to add in any other vegetables you have lying around – mushrooms, carrots, and water chestnuts are all great additions.

This recipe is:
– Gluten-free
– Dairy-free
– Sugar-free
– Soy-free
– Nut-free
– Vegetarian


Coconut Oil Fried Rice Bowl

• 3/4 cup brown (or white) rice, thoroughly cooked
• 1 1/2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
• 3 eggs, yolks slightly scrambled
• 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1/2 cup broccoli, roughly chopped (thaw first if using frozen)
• 1/4 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
• 1-inch fresh ginger, grated
• 1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
• 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
• 2 green onions/scallions, dark green parts only, thinly sliced
• fresh-cracked black pepper, to taste
• Sriracha (optional)

1. Cook your rice according to the package direction, set aside to cool.
2. Add 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil to a skillet over medium heat. Add eggs and cook. Remove from heat.
3. Again, add 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil to skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook for two minutes. Add garlic and cook for two minutes more, until fragrant. Add ginger, broccoli, and peas, cooking until heated (or until fully cooked if using fresh).
4. Keeping the vegetables in the pan, add another 1/2 tablespoon of coconut oil and then add the cooked rice, stirring to combine.
5. Turn off the heat and stir in the cooked egg. Add in the sesame oil and vinegar, and mix all ingredients together. Top with pepper, green onion, and sriracha if you so please. Serves 2.