Dark Chocolate Coconut Truffles

I am so excited to share this recipe because it is absolutely delicious, easy to make, reasonably healthy and everyone who has tried it so far has loved it!
One of the other great things about it is it’s vegan, gluten free and can even be paleo depending on what sweetener/chocolate is used. It’s pretty much good for every diet with the exception of people who don’t like coconut of course 🙂
I have made it a couple different ways so you can read through all my notes and instructions or just skip to the bottom for the recipe & variations. Let’s get to it!

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This is the finished product made the “lazy way”.

First things, first. This recipe can be made with pretty much any sweetener you like. I have used brown rice syrup (a gooey sweetener similar to honey) and the final product is a smooth, creamy filling-like a truffle. So for gooey sweeteners you could use brown rice syrup (lowest sugar content of all sweeteners), honey (this would make it paleo but not vegan) or pure maple syrup (this would be a tad more runny though).
The down side of of using honey/brown rice syrup/maple syrup is that it can get expensive-especially if you are making large batches for parties, etc. So I made a version of this recipe that just uses regular ol’ white sugar but you could also use coconut sugar or whatever form of sugar you are in to. Stevia would probably even work if you are going for a completely sugar free treat. The final product of the sugar version is not as creamy. The coconut retains it’s flake and the result is more like a “mounds” candy bar.

I did a bit of research on sugar when I was coming up with this recipe because I was trying to figure out which sweetener is really “the best”. You know what I found? Regular ol’ white sugar actually has less sugar per teaspoon than any other sweetener with the exception of brown rice syrup. But brown rice syrup has more calories than regular sugar. So what is best? I personally fall into the category of people who believe sugar is sugar whether it comes from honey or refined sugar. None of it is really good for us and it should be used sparingly no matter where it comes from. Plus, when I believe something is “healthy” I will eat about 10 times as much which totally defeats the purpose of a healthy treat.

Back on track. Let’s talk about the chocolate coating. You can use whatever chocolate chips you like. To make it vegan and paleo use Enjoy Life chocolate chips. To make it just vegan-most dark chocolate is vegan so that’s easy. Use whatever chocolate or chocolate chip floats your boat.

There are two options for making the chocolate coating:
Lazy way: Melt chocolate chips in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl for 1 minute and stir until they are melted. Heat 10 seconds at a time if needed. Toss all the (frozen) balls in the bowl of melted chocolate and stir to coat. Spoon any excess chocolate over the balls to cover any bald spots.

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This method is not the most visually appealing but it IS fast and easy.

Fancy way: Melt chocolate chips using double boiler method. Create a double boiler by heating water in a sauce pan and placing a glass bowl on top of the pot. Do not boil the water, just get it warm. Melt the chocolate in the top bowl. Here is my double boiler:

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When the chocolate is melted remove the bowl from the heat.

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Individually dip each ball of (frozen) coconut mixture into the chocolate. This method will use more chocolate but it will also look nicer.

Here is what the coconut balls will look like:

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I could eat them just like this!

Here is the recipe:

Dark Chocolate Coconut Truffles
Makes 30 bite size truffles

2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut, lightly packed
1/4 cup brown rice syrup OR 1/4 cup regular sugar + 2 tablespoons nondairy milk (see notes above)
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons coconut oil, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips (or chocolate chips of your choice)

Place all ingredients except the chocolate chips in a food processor. If your coconut oil is rock hard, soften it a bit first but not to the point it is liquid. If your coconut oil is liquid that is ok, your “batter” will just have to be refrigerated for a while before it can be formed into bite size pieces.
Process the mixture for several seconds to a minute. It should form a dough ball, unless you are using liquid oil. Once it forms a nice ball you are good to proceed. If your oil was liquid just pulse until everything is combined then place in the refrigerator for 10 or so minutes until it’s firm enough to be formed into bite size pieces.
Line a small cutting board or baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the coconut mixture into bite size balls and place on the lined board. Refrigerate or freeze the balls for 30 minutes or longer.
Once the balls are ready to be coated in chocolate melt the chocolate chips either in the microwave or using a double boiler.
Coat the balls in the chocolate using either the lazy method or the fancy method described above. Place the coated balls back on the parchment paper lined tray and freeze or refrigerate until the chocolate has hardened.
Store in the refrigerator and allow to thaw for 5 minutes before eating.

Now good luck not eating the entire batch!

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Happy Hour Snack

My cleanse came to a screeching halt over the weekend. I wasn’t planning on it ending but I fell off the wagon. More accurately, I fell off the wagon and face first into a bucket of ice cream…and butterscotch…and chocolate…and wine. I’m not proud. And the pain I was in afterward! I was in one of those “I’m never eating sugar or drinking alcohol ever again” states. So the next day I was back to green juice and kale chips and felt much better. But hey, it happens!

And on that note I am posting the easiest Happy Hour recipe in the world. It’s so easy it’s a non-recipe really. My husband and I had this in a restaurant a while back and loved it so I started making it at home. It’s one of those great little snacks you can set out and just munch on. It’s a healthy snack to serve to guests (I think anyway) and perfect for the warm weather that will be here before we know it!

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Cucumber Salad Happy Hour Snack

1/2 a cucumber peeled and sliced very thin (I use a mandolin on “super thin”)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon rice vinegar

Put everything in a bowl and toss to coat. That’s it! Don’t even worry about putting too much “dressing” on because it just goes to the bottom of the bowl. You could get fancy and add toasted sesame seeds but I never have sesame seeds on hand.

And to my bargain shopping friends (especially if you buy running shoes) I found a great website called 6pm.com. Maybe everyone already shops there and I just didn’t know about it. It’s owned by Zappos and it basically sells all the “last season” stuff like last seasons running shoes or last seasons Oakley sunglasses (I got a super cute pair btw). They have my exact running shoes for $50 less than I paid so from now on I will be checking that website first before I buy anything! They also sell Birkenstocks and tons of regular clothes too. I don’t know why I mentioned Birkenstocks. I think that was the only brand I could think of that wasn’t running shoes, ha!

I hope your week is going well, I can’t believe it’s already Wednesday!
Laura

Black Bean & Sweet Potato Lettuce Wraps

I have been cleansing for over two weeks already! I definitely have not been perfect, but just setting the intention to cleanse has really helped me make better food choices, like not eating chocolate every day!
This is what I have been eating for lunch for the past two weeks (and I’m still not sick of it!). It’s easy and cheap to make and fun to eat! I made a big batch of it a couple Sundays ago and put half in the fridge for lunch the first week and then froze the other half for lunch the second week. It was so nice, I really didn’t have to do any food preparation this week since I did it all the week before! And since I love sweet potatoes I definitely don’t feel like I’m being deprived.
Costco was selling heads of baby romaine lettuce (an 8 pack for about $3!) which make perfect lettuce for wrapping. I hope they don’t stop carrying them! The costco here started carrying tofu again too! I’ve been very excited about that.

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Not the most beautiful picture, but it was taken on my desk at work, so considering that…it’s pretty good 🙂
Black Bean & Sweet Potato Lettuce Wraps
Makes 8-10 servings

2 yams, cubed
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
Several heads of baby romaine or other lettuce for wrapping
1 red onion, diced (optional)
Avocado (optional)
Cilantro (optional)
brown rice (optional)

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a very large frying pan on medium heat. Add the diced yam and sauté for 5-10 minutes depending on how large your yam chunks are.
Add the onion & garlic and cook for 5 more minutes over medium heat.
Next, add the salt, cumin and chili powder and cook for 1 more minute. If the onion is sticking add a little more olive oil.
Add the green bell pepper and beans and cook for 10 minutes on low or until the yam is soft.
Top with red onion and cilantro and serve in lettuce wraps.
Serve with or stir brown rice in if you have any more room in your pan!

Have a great rest of the week! I have a new body butter recipe I will hopefully be posting for Friday morning. It’s a good one!

Laura

Cinnamon Roll Oatmeal

A few days ago I spruced up one of the planter beds in our front yard. My husband removed some big shrubs and then I planted some new plants and laid down some fresh mulch. It looks really nice and fresh with the tulips and daffodils in bloom.
Saturday morning I was getting ready to go mountain biking and saw a cute little black cat playing in my newly updated planter bed. What a cute cat, I thought, playing in the mulch! I went and got my phone so I could take a picture of this darling cat. But as I zoomed in with my camera I realized he was not playing. He was doing unspeakable things in my mulch! I stared on in horror. He stared back all like, what are you gonna do about it. And then he watched as I cleaned it up. What a jerk.

And then I went mountain biking and it was glorious. But before I went mountain biking I had a hearty bowl of oatmeal. Most days I just have a protein shake, but on days when I’m going to be doing something strenuous like biking or running, I need more carbs in my breakfast!

Now, look at me acting like I invented oatmeal. I totally didn’t. But this bowl of oatmeal is one I want to make again because it was sweet and cinnamon-y like a cinnamon roll minus the heart burn and diabetes. So here you go.
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Cinnamon Roll Oatmeal
Makes 1 serving

1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
4 dates, pitted and chopped
1 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon
Nut butter of your choice to taste (almond, peanut, sunflower, etc)

Combine dates, oatmeal and almond milk in a microwave safe bowl and heat until the oats are cooked. My method is to microwave until it’s about to overflow then stir and repeat. Sprinkle with cinnamon and top with nut butter as desired. Stir and enjoy once the oatmeal has thickened. This would make an excellent overnight oat recipe too!

Have a great Monday!
Laura

Best way to prepare broccoli + what I’m eating

Today marks day 12 of my cleanse and I’m still doing pretty darn well on it! I’ve definitely had my share of slip-ups (how could I not with it being Easter candy season?) but for the most part it’s been going well and I’m feeling great. I’m past the food craving portion and have moved into the loving life portion. One thing that has made this cleanse successful is that I have surrounded myself with healthy food options. Like, too much food. And that’s been good because it means I’m not getting too hungry which usually leads to either misery or late night foraging.

Here is a list of foods I’ve been eating in no particular order (remember the point of the cleanse is not starvation so it’s important to eat, eat, eat!)
Green juice– not every day but when I do it’s in the morning
-Blueberry protein shake: frozen blueberries, unsweetened almond milk, flax oil, vanilla protein powder (I’ve been using a brown rice protein)
Kale chips
-Almonds, pistachios, cashews. I try not to overdo it on nuts though.
Chia pudding. This is great for a healthy dessert! I’ve been using almond milk and omitting the peanut butter and chocolate. Just plain vanilla is good!
-My morning coffee with stevia and unsweetened almond milk.
-Lettuce wrap tacos for lunch. It’s a mix of these burgers and these burritos in a lettuce wrap. I’ll post that recipe next week although it’s pretty much just sweet potatoes and black beans
-Dinner continues to be a spinach salad with tofu and this dressing. I just love it so much.
-Edamame. I love this for an afternoon snack.
-Chocolate Peanut Butter protein shake. I can’t believe I’ve never posted this on here before because it’s one of my staples! Vanilla protein, 1-2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon peanut butter, some ice and unsweetened vanilla almond milk. It’s so good.

I’m determined to work some broccoli into my diet too so a few days ago I got real brave and made broccoli. It turned out really good and I stood over the stove scarfing down pieces of broccoli which was a first for me. I OD’d on broccoli a few years back and have not been able to bring myself to eat it since. The cooking method was basically the same as kale chips.

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The Best Way to Prepare Broccoli

-Heat oven to 425˚F
-Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
-Wash broccoli and cut it into small pieces. I find I really like little pieces. I do not care for large chunks.
-Place broccoli in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper (or add more seasonings if you like). Toss to coat.
-Spread broccoli in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes.
-Remove from the oven and sprinkle with lemon juice (probably optional).

I really liked this fresh out of the oven but I’m not feeling leftover broccoli so I’m still working on that. But this was a start and my husband really liked it too and has been eating it all week.

Have a glorious weekend!
Laura

Spring Cleaning & Garbanzo Chips

Happy Tuesday!
We had a big weekend of spring cleaning (I feel so boring and grown up starting a post like that). We got our carpet on the main floor steam cleaned so we spent a great deal of the weekend just moving furniture and cleaning and then not walking on the wet carpet.
Neither the hubby nor I are very into decorating or furniture but we bought a new bookcase/room divider thing and I think it looks pretty stylish! I saw this idea on HGTV and got inspired. Since we live in a townhouse, the main floor is the kitchen/dining/office/family room and there aren’t any walls to separate these spaces.

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I like it!

Oh and that lamp on the shelf is a Himalayan Salt Lamp. It’s supposed to be a natural air purifier. Something about ions. But even if it doesn’t really do that it looks cool!

We went out to dinner and I wore those skinny jeans so here is a picture of that outfit.

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The whole outfit and bag is from Francesca’s and the shoes are from Victorias Secret and they are ouch!! I got them for a wedding we are going to this summer so I’m trying to break them in. So far they are breaking me.
Nowhere near as cute as a pug. But on that note, my husband and I are both starting to have puppy fever. I flip flop a lot. One day I’ll say “I don’t think I’ll ever want another dog” and the next day I’ll be cruising the classifieds for dogs. We actually found one we really, really, really wanted but the people selling it were sketchy and sounded about 12 years old on the phone so we had to let that one go. I have the hardest time looking at dogs because I get attached to every dog I see. I told my husband there’s no point in me going to “look” at a dog. I might as well say, bring it on over, I’ll have cash ready, because there’s no way I could look at a dog and then leave without it.

I’m also starting the second week of my cleanse this week! So far it’s going pretty well. I haven’t been 100% perfect but pretty close. I made these garbanzo chips over the weekend.

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They were really easy to make and tasted good but I’m not sure I would make them on a regular basis. I will probably use them as a salad topper but I feel like using regular ol’ garbanzo beans on a salad accomplishes the same thing. They would make a good snack but I could get pretty carried away and end up eating the equivalent of 1 can of beans which would be…a lot of beans.

I’ll be back soon with a great happy hour recipe and a new broccoli recipe! Oh the excitement! Have a great week!
Laura

Juice Recipes

I have a major wardrobe problem in that I only own workout clothes. So even on the weekends when I’m running errands or going out to dinner or the movies I wear workout clothes (yes I know that’s bad). My friend Ari once told me she was going to sign me up to be on the tv show What Not to Wear. To make things worse the only shoes I wear are sneakers, flip flops if it’s warm and winter boots when it’s cold.

Well big news, I got my first pair of skinny jeans a few weeks ago! I know I’m a couple years late to the skinny jean party but I’ve finally arrived. I have tried skinny jeans on many times and each time I’ve been slightly traumatized. But with lots of encouragement I finally found a pair with enough lycra to actually feel comfortable! I got them from Francesca’s and I even got a top and a purse! This is huge for me. I’ll post a picture of this outfit someday when it isn’t snowing in Salt Lake!

But now I’m seeing overalls are back in style? (and very expensive!)

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And even worse, wide-leg printed pants?

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Is this true? Did I miss the skinny jean party completely? It’s really hard to keep up with fashion. For me anyway.

So let’s talk about juicing instead 🙂

Here are 2 amazing and not scary at all juice recipes! I was absolutely terrified to drink these beet juice concoctions because beet juice doesn’t smell all that great. I was expecting drinking it to be like fear factor but beet juice is surprisingly sweet!

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Beet juice is also supposed to be good for the liver, eyes and blood. It is not good for light carpet. Just a warning.

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I really like this juice recipe. It isn’t sweet which I like.
Morning Energizer Juice
1 beet
1 chunk of ginger
1 lemon
handful of baby carrots or 1-2 regular carrots

This is a really good one too but too sweet for my liking. This would be a good “starter juice” for someone who is tentative about drinking vegetables. This recipe makes 3-4 servings.
Sweet Beet Juice
1 beet
1 mango
1 green apple
handful of baby carrots or 1-2 regular carrots
handful of spinach

Oh and I started my cleanse on Monday so I’m already on day 5. Yay! Unfortunately I’m not past the point of craving sugar and cinnamon rolls yet so hopefully that passes soon 🙂

Have a great weekend!
Laura