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Have your Pie and Eat it Too… For Breakfast
Literally there was frost on the ground this morning when I woke up, and I don’t think yesterday was any warmer. In the cold weather, my breakfast smoothies aren’t quite as appealing. I crave warm food, which is pretty much why naked baked apple slices were born.
In yesterday’s post where I shared my vegan paleo sugar-free pumpkin pie dip, I mentioned that I made naked baked apple slices so I could have my ‘pie’ and eat it too – for breakfast. Warm apple pie meets warm pumpkin pie. Done and done.
Slicing Things Up
Really, naked baked apple slices happened for three reasons: I wanted something warm for breakfast, I really wanted to eat the pumpkin pie dip and was in need of a healthy vehicle, and I was too impatient to wait for a whole baked apple.
Since I already used apple slices with the pumpkin pie dip, apples of course jumped to mind first, but I didn’t want to eat cold, raw apple slices. Stewed apples wouldn’t serve as an appropriate dip vehicle, nor would a whole baked apple, which I’d have to slice anyway and would take far too long to bake for my impatient stomach. So, the obvious solution was to pre-slice the apple and bake those babies up.
An Apple A Day: The Health Benefits of Apples
And as the doctors say…. eat up! Apples are rich in antioxidants, phytonutrients, and fiber, making them a powerful prebiotic. The phytonutrients and antioxidants are linked to a reduced risk of cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. They also contain vitamin C, B-complex, and minerals such as calcium, potassium, and phosphorous.
Apples also improve neurological health. They are particularly rich in the antioxidant quercetin, a substance found to help reduce cellular death caused by oxidation and inflammation of neurons. They also help prevent dementia and reduce the risk of stroke. Pass the apples, please.
Baked apples usually come loaded with all sorts of fixins like dried fruit, sugar, and oats or granola. Totally delicious, but full of unnecessary added sugars and fussiness for my purposes. So I made em naked.
I plopped the slices on the baking pan, drizzled some water and vanilla extract over them, and put them in for just 10 minutes. Result? Perfection. (Well for my simple purposes anyway!)
I sprinkled some cinnamon on top of the slices before dipping them in, and bam it was like apple pie meets pumpkin pie in the easiest, healthiest way possible.
These naked baked apple slices can be served as a quick healthy snack or dessert in their own right, and with under 5 minutes of prep time and just 10 minutes in the oven, there’s pretty much no excuse to not make them!
Naked Baked Sliced Apples
A quick, easy and healthy version of the classic baked apple.
- 1 apple
- 1-2 tsp vanilla
- 2 tbsp warm water really you don't need to be precise here. just need to add some water to the pan so the apples don't dry out.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Slice your apple. Place the slices on a pan.
Drizzle the apples with the water and vanilla. You can combine the vanilla with the water in a small cup before drizzling.
Place them in the oven for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve naked, or with my pumpkin pie dip.
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Best Soup Ever
Pumpkins and squash are everywhere, and squash soup has been high on the to-do list. I’ve made several versions in the past, but this time I wanted to spice things up a bit and thought I’d add some ginger and turmeric. No joke, this may be one of my favorite soups, ever.
This creamy soup is so delicious and so filling it can really stand alone. Throw some cilantro and pumpkin seeds on top and you’re golden. Just like the soup.
This creamy butternut squash soup is full of goodness and robust flavor. With a touch of sweet from the squash and sour from a green apple, savory from leeks and broth, spice from ginger, turmeric, cumin and black pepper, and satisfying healthy fats from avocado and coconut cream, this soup captures the best of all worlds, in my humble opinion.
Even Better: Health-boosting benefits
The best part is that each of these ingredients is chock full of health and immunity-boosting vitamins and minerals. Squash is high in fiber, vitamins A and C, and an excellent source of manganese and potassium, which is a key component of blood pressure regulation. Green apples pack a punch of nutrition, as do leeks which are also cancer-fighting powerhouses.
And the spices are not just there for the flavor: they’re also chock-full of health benefits. Turmeric and ginger are powerful anti-inflammatories and cumin improves digestion and enhances immunity, just to name a couple of it’s myriad health-boosting benefits.
And truly, a generous garnish of fresh cilantro ups the flavor factor dramatically – something about it just works so well in this soup (as long as you’re not someone who thinks it tastes like soap!). Plus, it adds a major boost of bonus health benefits. Cilantro improves liver function and is a powerful detoxifier: it helps rid the body of heavy metals like lead, which can not only cause a host of health issues, but can also interfere with antibiotic efficacy.
Cilantro also has strong antioxidant properties that combat oxidative stress, lowers anxiety and improves sleep, helps balance blood sugar, prevents UTIs, lowers blood pressure, reduces cholesterol, relieves digestive issues such as nausea, indigestion, gas and bloating and protects against food poisoning, soothes skin irritations, helps support health menstrual function, and prevents neurological inflammation. Phew!
Finally, I added a sprinkle of raw pumpkin seeds which add a nice little crunch and provide a hefty dose of magnesium and some added protein.
Creamy Ginger Turmeric Butternut Squash Soup
Creamy vegan, paleo spiced squash soup packed with anti-infammatory and immunity-boosting benefits
- 1 medium butternut squash, chopped
- 1 green apple, chopped
- 2 medium leeks, chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
- 1 heaping tsp turmeric
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 3 cups vegetable both depending on size of produce and desire thickness, may add up to 1/2-1 cup more broth
- 1/2 medium avocado
- 1/4 cup coconut cream can sub full fat coconut milk
Boil the butternut squash until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Add olive oil to the bottom of a large pot and heat on medium.
Sautée the leeks and ginger with the turmeric, cumin, pepper and salt until tender and slightly browned. Add the Squash and apple and sautée until the spices are mixed in.
Add the vegetable broth, covering the ingredients. Depending on the exact size of your squash and produce and desired thickness of the soup, you may wish to add an extra 1/2-1 cup of broth. I added 3 cups and it made a very thick soup.
Lower the heat to a simmer and cover. Heat for 15-20 minutes.
Remove from the head and carefully add to your blender, or use an immersion blender. Add the avocado and coconut cream and blend on high until the soup is completely puréed.
Garnish with cilantro or parsley and sprinkle with raw pumpkin seeds to taste. I like to add an extra dash of cumin and turmeric on top as well as sea salt and black pepper to taste.
**may sub extra broth in place of coconut cream
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Organic Vegan 0g Sugar Paleo Dark Chocolate Recipe – No Sugar Alcohols Necessary
Life without chocolate simply wouldn’t be worth living, so when it comes to healthy chocolate, I’ve become somewhat of an expert. Ok ok, expert is a bit of a stretch. But I’ve been doing all the necessary (and delicious!) research. Because I need sugar-free paleo dark chocolate in my life. Fortunately, this recipe passes my super-strict test.
I’ve tasted the healthiest chocolate bars. I’ve researched and tested the best cocoa and cacao. I’ve searched for clean sugar-free chocolate recipes. And I’ve experimented with making my own paleo dark chocolate. Because sometimes, you just gotta create your own solution.
Recipes for homemade chocolate abound on the internet. But whenever I searched for ‘sugar-free’ paleo dark chocolate, the recipes generally replaced sugar with coconut sugar, honey or maple syrup. Although all-natural and each great options in their own right, they still contain sugar. And really what I was looking for was a sugar-free, paleo dark chocolate without sugar alcohols. Sugar alcohols are a great solution for many, but I (along with many others) don’t always respond well to them.
Because of my gut-healing journey and my need to steer clear of sugar, I embarked on a mission to make delicious treats with literally zero grams of sugar – not just refined sugar but any sugar. I did all sorts of experimenting in the kitchen with stevia and other sweeteners containing sugar alcohols. These can work great for loads of people and each has their own place, but I’ve finally found my favorite sweetener: monk fruit.
Monk fruit: The superior sweetener
Monk fruit’s all natural, does not contain sugar alcohols, and has no funky aftertaste (like many find with stevia). So imho, it’s the best option. When I first researched this sweetener, I experienced a little sticker shock. But it turns out a teeny tiny bit goes quite a long way, so the upfront cost is absolutely worth it. In fact, when I use monk fruit, I find that an eighth of a teaspoon is sometimes sufficient for an entire recipe. And if I want to sweeten my coffee, for example, just the tiniest dash will do.
Beyond personal taste preferences, using any of these sugar alternatives requires a bit of experimentation and a fair bit of caution. Despite what many of the packages indicate, the vast majority are not a one-to-one substitute for sugar. As far as sweetness is concerned, I find that less is more in all cases.
Anyway, back to the chocolate.
As much as I love chocolate and chocolate-containing goodies, I knew absolutely nothing about making chocolate when I first embarked on my paleo dark chocolate making endeavors. So I did my best searching for simple versions to work off of.
I first experimented with several homemade chocolate recipes using stevia. It worked, but the stevia aftertaste was detectable. I also added different flavors like coffee, cinnamon, sea salt, peppermint, and hazelnut. I varied ingredient quantities, and tried adding a touch of coconut oil, and, finally, coconut milk.
Finally, I’ve landed on a version worth sharing.
This paleo dark chocolate requires just five ingredients – cocoa butter, cocoa powder, monk fruit, vanilla extract and coconut milk – and takes just five minutes to make (minus setting time). Without the coconut milk, the blend tastes a bit dry. These days, I do appreciate the taste of very dark chocolate (I often purchase 85%). However the powder quality comes through a bit too much without the milk.
I tried adding coconut oil as a couple recipes do. The chocolate was definitely a lot smoother, but I didn’t love the addition of extra oil. So finally I tried coconut milk and found a winner. It lacks the oil and the chocolate is still so much smoother on the palette.
And it’s super easy to customize: I sprinkled it with a little sea salt, because dark sea salt chocolate is one of my fav versions, ever. You can make any flavor you choose using this as the base and blending in essential oils or organic extracts.
All you do is melt the cocoa butter using a double boiler setup on the stove, then mix in the remaining ingredients, scoop it into a mold, and set it in the fridge or freezer. I actually did purchase a chocolate bar mold from Amazon which I love.
But you can simply coat the bottom of a dish, plate, small loaf pan – whatever works. It may be more difficult to remove intact. But it doesn’t really matter if the chocolate breaks into pieces if you’re just making it for your own consumption purposes!
Best of all – you can chop it up to make vegan, nut-free, soy-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, sugar alcohol-free paleo dark chocolate chunks for your baking needs 😉
Sugar-Free Paleo Dark Chocolate Recipe
- 1 cup grated cocoa butter, or cocoa butter discs
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1-2 tsp natural vanilla extract
- 1/8-1/4 tsp monk fruit sweetener (start small and adjust to taste!)
- 1-2 tbsp coconut milk
How to Make:
- For quicker, even melting, grate the cocoa butter, (or purchase the discs to skip the grating). Place the cocoa butter in a double boiler, or in a medium-sized glass bowl.
- If you do not have a double boiler, fill a medium-sized saucepan with 1 inch of water. Very carefully nest the glass bowl on the rim of saucepan (make sure it nests securely).
- Heat on medium to high heat bringing to a gentle boil at most, allowing the the cocoa butter to melt completely. Remove the glass bowl from heat as soon as the last bits melt. Immediately mix in the cocoa powder, vanilla, sweetener, and coconut milk. With the last three ingredients, start small, and adjust to taste. You should achieve a smooth ganache-like mixture. As you mix the ingredients, do not let the chocolate cool too much otherwise it may become rough.
- Using a spatula, fill your mold. Then allow to set. You may place it in the refrigerator to set, or the freezer to speed up the process. (If you’re in a warm climate, you’ll definitely need to set it in the fridge or freezer).
- Keep refrigerated. Makes a bit more than 3 ounces. Enjoy!
*These quantities filled my break apart 3oz mold, with a couple spoonfuls left over (which obviously went straight into my mouth… perfect 😉
Want more vegan, paleo, sugar-free chocolate recipes?
Check these out:
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