Tagged chocolate

RECIPE: Homemade Coconut Milk (or Coconut Creamer) – Easy, Fast, GREAT for Dairy-Free Travelers!

This summer, I have been doing quite a bit of traveling. Starting off in beautiful Italy and then making my way to Latin America, I currently find myself in the middle of a legit jungle – monkeys howling and all – in the Southern Zone of Costa Rica.

Just hanging out off my balcony in Positano, Italy. Totally casual.

This tropical rainforest is amazing and refreshing, but also makes me miss a few small foodie preferences that have been a part of my daily routine for years.

Especially through the most recent experience living off-grid in an isolated, glorified tree house (thankfully with pretty impressive internet to benefit my online clients and me), I learned how to do without a number of American luxuries. These include everything from transportation (no car), no paved roads, no 24-hour convenience stores (or any stores within two miles), and no access to anything from supplements to electronics to mail being reliably being delivered…

Cuddly kittens and warm weather make everything better.

It also includes not being able to find carton-style coconut milk – never mind coconut creamer for coffee. And if you didn’t know, Costa Rica is known for its amazing coffee.

Needless to say, I’m not a milk drinker and never really have been. Anytime I’ve needed a “milk” for something, I’ve opted for the almond or coconut substitution. (If you have my book The Grocery Store Tour Guide, you’re probably familiar with this suggestion.)

Considering the fact that mango, banana, papaya, AND coconut trees are everywhere in this tropical part of the world, I was somewhat surprised that I couldn’t find any carton coconut (or almond) milk near the home I am currently living in. There is one market down the mountain (over 2 miles away and a 90-minute steady walk thanks to the incline) that has one small almond milk carton option, which was unsurprisingly overpriced… and expired by six months.

Luckily, there is also a decently stocked chain supermercado in the nearest town that is accessible by a 20-minute bus ride (in addition to the nearly three mile walk to the bus stop) where I did find a higher quality carton of pure organic coconut cream… but still no sign of a reasonably priced carton coconut OR almond milk.

Did I mention I’m in the [captivating, relaxing, sometimes boring, always magical, yet very remote] jungle?

Here is what I did manage to find in the local market: canned coconut cream (and canned coconut milk).

And the good news for my fellow dairy-free, non-leche drinking people out there? To make homemade Coconut Milk (a comparable version to Silk or Almond Breeze brands that you can use for shakes, cereal, or to simply drink as is) AND/OR Coconut Creamer for coffee or tea, all you need is a can or carton of coconut cream (a second option could be canned coconut milk), water, and a pour-able container to keep it in.

That’s it.

Fun fact: if you read the ingredients on a carton of the aforementioned popular American brands of coconut milk, you will see that they are mainly filtered water and coconut cream (with some added preservatives and vitamins)… which is exactly what’s happening here!

Of course I tend to get a little fancy and doctor things up, so I added a little bit of vanilla extract and a few stevia drops (which I obviously brought with me from the States) to make it taste just like slightly sweetened, cartoned vanilla coconut milk.

Whisking in a small amount of natural thickener such as xantham gum, guar gum, or gellan gum (if you can access it where you are) will lend a slightly thicker consistency that mimics store-bought Coconut Creamer even more – but the thinner, milkier version that results from this recipe suits my needs just fine. :)

And cost wise? One can of coconut cream cost me about 1500 colones (around $3 USD) and is enough for TWO to THREE GALLONS of drinkable coconut milk or creamer. One HALF gallon of Silk brand coconut milk typically costs $3-5 USD anywhere in the world that I’ve been, so this recipe is a very budget-friendly one that is well worth trying no matter where you are!

To prepare, you can whisk everything together or blend it in a blender. Then just pour into your chosen container like this perfect one I found on Amazon. It’s important to remember to keep it refrigerated and shake it up well before using each time since it does slightly separate (adding the thickening gum does help keep it more consistently smooth).

I mainly use this as a “creamer” for my coffee, but it would also make a great milk replacement for any of your milky needs.

Here’s the crazy simple recipe :) Enjoy!

Homemade Coconut Milk or Coffee Creamer

  • 14 C. coconut cream (ingredients should be only 100% coconut cream, if possible) OR 12 C. canned coconut milk (full fat, not “light”)  – shake cans well before opening
  • Slightly less than a 12 gallon of chilled, filtered water
  • Small pinch of sea salt
  • Optional (for vanilla flavor): 12 to 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Optional (for sweetness): Stevia drops to taste OR 1 Tbsp. cane sugar liquified in a small amount of warm water OR 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • Optional (for chocolate flavored): 1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Optional (for coffee flavored): 2 Tbsp. instant coffee granules liquified in a small amount of hot water
  • Optional (for thickness): 12 tsp. guar gum, xanthan gum, or gellan gum

Directions

  1. Put coconut cream or milk, chilled water, sea salt, and your optional ingredients of choice in a blender and blend on low until all incorporated, about 1-2 minutes (you can also whisk very well in a large bowl).
  2. Carefully pour into your milk jug or container.
  3. Refrigerate (shaking well before each use) and enjoy as a milk or creamer! It should be good for about two weeks, though mine never lasts that long. Yum!

*If it doesn’t turn out “milky” enough for you, simply add more coconut cream by the teaspoon (or coconut milk by the tablespoon) until your desired flavor and consistency is reached. To make it thicker and creamier, add in more thickening gum by the one-eighth of a teaspoon and blend well after each addition.

*You can freeze your remaining coconut cream/milk in a separate container for future use.

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RECIPE: How to Make HIGH PROTEIN PLANT BASED ICE CREAM – Vegan / Gluten Free / Nice Cream / Chocolate Lovers

I absolutely love this rich, chocolate “nice” cream and make it on the regular. It is not only easy and delicious, but the extra love from the legit hard chocolate shell topping really make it over the top.

ICE CREAM

This filling and flavorful dessert also happens to be a completely plant-based source of HIGH protein with over 30 grams in this recipe!  Plus, it’s great for any time of day: pre-workout, post-workout, breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Shoot, even dessert after a big ol’ salad.

Watch the video here, recipe is below:

EASY, RICH, CHOCOLATE “NICE” CREAM

Ingredients:

1 cup Frozen Blueberries

2 Ripe Bananas, sliced and frozen solid

1-2 Tbsp High-Quality Cocoa Powder (like my favorite: Pernigotti Cocoa)

1 Scoop Plant Based Protein Powder (recommend: RawFusion Plant-Based Protein)

Generous Sprinkle of Ground Cinnamon

Small splash of Balsamic Vinegar

About a quarter to a third cup of Unsweetened Almond Milk (for desired consistency)

Directions:

  • Put the ingredients, in the order shown, into a high powder blender or food processor. Blend until all incorporated. Add more almond milk for desired consistency. Blend until smooth. Pour into bowl and set in freezer for 15-20 minutes.

To make the HARD CHOCOLATE SHELL COATING:

In a small bowl, mix: ½ Tbsp. melted coconut oil, 4-5 drops Liquid Stevia, a scant teaspoon high-quality cocoa powder, and a pinch of salt. Mix until smooth.

  • Take the bowl of ice cream out of the freezer and pour the chocolate shell coating mixture all over the top, using a spatula to get every last bit. It will harden in seconds.
  • Top your “nice” cream with something crunchy, like hemp hearts, chopped nuts, or sesame seeds.
  • Enjoy! :)

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Find more recipes and smart food-shopping tips in my Grocery Store Tour Guide!

EASY, Go-To Protein Shake Recipes!

Common Question: How do I USE protein powder?

Depending on the type of protein powder (for the sake of simplicity, I will refer to the two more common comparisons: whey and plant-based), there is little difference when it comes to actual preparation and ways to enjoy.

Compared to whey, plant-based protein (like my favorite: RawFusion), tends to act more like a ‘flour’ when mixed or baked into different things. It is a bit thicker, slightly harder to blend, and can even be made into a pudding quite easily (similar to casein protein for anyone familiar with Casein Fluff). Whey, however (especially whey isolate), tends to become more gummy and liquid-like and would not suffice in a pudding-type treat. Due to this, it does blend into liquids or other foods, like yogurt, much faster and easier.

So in the case of consistency, plant-based proteins = thicker like flour; whey proteins = easier to blend into liquid. Regardless, both are great for blended smoothies. And since most clients I have worked with are in need of a convenient way to use protein powder as opposed to becoming the next Master-of-Creative-Culinary-Uses-For-Protein (guilty, as proven by the video at the bottom of this post), I will share a couple of my favorite go-to protein smoothie ideas that are easy, delicious, and nutritionally-sound.

These are great any time of day: breakfast, an hour or so before your workout, after your workout, or literally any time. Sure, there are certain benefits timing-wise if you want to get more detailed with the science of nutrient absorption versus activity and a whole slew of other metabolic factors, but what ultimately matters is simply getting into the routine of having additional protein and feeding your body favorable nutrients in general. Trust me. Do not over-complicate things, especially with new routines. Focus on the grand scheme rather than minute details. Have your shake or smoothie where it fits best for you and your schedule.

Remember: it is best to start with small and simple habits!

Protein Mocha Frappuccino

  • 8-10 oz. unsweetened almond or coconut milk
  • 1 scoop Protein Powder of choice (or 2 for active men) *I use RawFusion
  • 1 Tbsp. Instant Coffee Granules
  • 1 Tbsp. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder *omit if you’re using Chocolate-Flavored Protein
  • 1 Handful of Ice
  • 1 Tbsp. Chia Seeds OR 2 Tbsp. Ground Flaxseed
  • Optional: 1 tsp. vanilla extract, or any extract of choice! Coconut, Mint, Orange, Banana.. tons of fun flavors out there! Be creative!

Blend in blender and enjoy!

Fruity Protein Smoothie

  • 8-10 oz. unsweetened almond or coconut milk
  • 1 scoop Protein Powder of choice (or 2 for active men) *I use RawFusion Vanilla
  • A big handful of raw spinach
  • 1 Cup Frozen Berries
  • 1 Tbsp. Nut Butter, Coconut Butter, Chia Seeds OR 2 Tbsp. Ground Flaxseed
  • Optional: 1 tsp. vanilla extract, or any extract of choice! Coconut, Orange, Banana… get creative!

 Blend in blender, sprinkle some cinnamon on top, and enjoy!

*For those seeking a trusty, inexpensive little blender, I always suggest this Hamilton Beach Single Serving Blender with Travel Lid. It is easy to find (sold at Wal-Mart or Amazon.com for $12-14), blends your shake smoothly, lasts FOREVER (I’ve had mine for over 6 years, plus check out these reviews), and is great to keep at work and/or at home.

The great thing about smoothies is that you CAN very easily adjust and get creative according to your taste! Make it a Veggie Smoothie by adding in some cucumbers, celery, spinachMake it an Apple Pie Smoothie by using vanilla protein, cinnamon, a chopped apple (or even organic apple sauce), and some walnutsMake a Pumpkin Pie Smoothie by using pumpkin puree, vanilla protein, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and some pecans… Don’t be scared to try new things! You’ll be surprised at some of the deliciousness you come up with.

For those who ARE open to becoming more creative with protein powder, try mixing it into some organic Greek Yogurt, or mixing it into cooked and cooled down oatmeal, or even making it into a pudding like I mentioned and using it as a dip or sweet cream sauce like I did in this recipe.

Want to get really fancy?

Check out this video recipe for Protein Marshmallows!

Coming soon: Recipes for both my easy, homemade chocolate bars and simple, sprouted grain “graham” crackers to use with the Protein Marshmallows for the delicious S’mores-From-Scratch as shown here…

Smores

Like I said, the possibilities really are endless! :)

3-Minute Chocolate Protein Cake (aka: the 2:30 AM Mudd Cake)

I’m going to keep this short and simple so you can try it, stat. Here is something so easy, SO yummy, and my clients have probably heard me mention it once or twice (hence the requests for this post, which I apologize for how long it took me to do)!
This individually-sized chocolate cake literally takes just a few minutes to make and uses simple, protein-packed ingredients that will satisfy your sweet tooth without artificial ingredients, sugars, or additives. The recipe is also gluten-free, dairy-free, and even vegan if you replace the liquid egg whites with a vegan-friendly egg substitute.
Easy Vegan Egg Substitute:  Mix 2 Tbsp ground flax (seed or meal) with 6 Tbsp warm water. Let sit for about five minutes, until it becomes a gooey, egg-like consistency. Use in recipe as you would eggs/egg whites.
Plus, did you know that cocoa actually has numerous health benefits, including alleviating cravings and encouraging satiety?  You’ll be surprised at how moist, rich, and delicious this turns out (and this is, admittedly, coming from someone who is NOT typically a fan of microwaving anything… never mind baked goods)!
Even more exciting news? This is just the first of a number of recipes (and videos) I will be posting featuring my most favorite, plant-based protein, RawFusion by SAN.
So here she is, the 3-Minute Chocolate Protein Cake (originally named the 2:30 AM Mudd Cake by the other half, who can also be credited for the lovely photo you see below… before it was devoured, of course).

RawFusion chocolate cake

3-Minute Chocolate Protein Cake (makes one serving)

In a mug or small bowl, whisk together the following:

From there, simply put it in the microwave at a power level of 5 for 2 minutes (adjusting that power level is super important to ensure the right finished product here). Anddd… DONE!

(Could that have been any easier?!)

If you want to get even fancier, feel free to top it off with the following:

Sweet ‘n Creamy Vanilla Sauce (enough for two servings of cake)

Simply whisk together the following in a bowl:

  • 1/2 Scoop of RawFusion protein (vanilla flavor preferred here!)
  • 1/4 C. unsweetened Almond Milk (or enough to make it a thick-but-pourable consistency)
  • 1 Tbsp Stevia
  • 1/2 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract

After the cakes are done, flip them over onto plates and then spoon that goodness on top. You can also sprinkle with some chopped nuts (like the pistachios seen above)! ENJOY :)

 

 

 

Quinoa Cocoa Cakes for Two

… or for however many you like, really. This impromptu what-do-I-have-in-the-pantry-that-I-can-make-dessert-ish recipe is VERY easy and came out to two super moist and tasty little cakes. The consistency is almost fudge-like; the outside is just crisp enough to make it sort of a less gooey chocolate lava cake.

 

Yes it is as decadently good as it looks.....
Yes it is as decadently good as it looks…..

 

And added bonus, they are egg-free, gluten-free, paleo-friendly (depending how strict of a regimen you’re on considering there is a pseudo-grain flour involved), and it can easily be vegan/dairy-free by simply substituting the kind of protein used in the sweet cream sauce to something like Sunwarrior Protein-Vanilla. Make sure to check out the notes below the recipe for more tips! :)

 

Try it out and let me know what you think!

 

Quinoa Cocoa Cakes for Two

Ingredients:

1/4 Cup Quinoa Flour

2 Tbsp cocoa powder

3 Tbsp Stevia*

1/4 tsp. Baking Powder

Pinch of salt

Scant 1/4 tsp instant coffee or espresso (optional)

1 Tbsp Ground Flaxmeal

1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil*

1/4 Cup + 3 Tbsp water

1/4 tsp. Vanilla Extract

 

What to do:
Preheat oven to 350.*
In a small glass or bowl, whisk together flaxmeal, olive oil, water, and vanilla extract. Let sit for 5 minutes.
In another bowl, mix together quinoa flour, cocoa powder, stevia, baking powder, instant coffee, and salt.
Add flax liquid to dry ingredients and whisk together well.
Split batter into two greased large muffin tins (or I had mini-bundt tins). Bake for 20-25 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Plate each on top of half the Sweet Cream Sauce. Optional tops include.. well.. basically whatever you want. I had a dollop of Son of a Butter! Smoky Bacon Peanut Butter and a fresh strawberry.
*Next time I may try baking at 375 for around 18 minutes. If you like a more cakey, less fudgy center, this option would encourage that more.

 
Crazy Easy Sweet Cream Protein Sauce:

Scoop 1-2 Servings of your favorite vanilla protein powder into a bowl (I used Vi-Shape by Body By Vi since that is all I had on hand) and whisk with just enough water for thick sauce consistency. I added a touch of cardamom and cinnamon for an extra yumminess.

 

P.S. Don’t forget, if you want photos of recipes as they are created, workout tips, free gym routines, and other random goodness, you can follow me on Instagram or Twitter too. Happy New Year, everyone!

 

Happy Chocolate Chip Cookie Day!

There literally seems to be a day for every single food, condiment, spice, baked good, anything-slightly-culinarily-related these days. But, especially considering O.G. chocolate chip cookies are one of my better known specialties, who would I be to pass this up?

Instead of a plain ol’ recipe for cookies, here is a special little treat I will occasionally make myself (that is just like eating my O.G. cookies all mushy-like with a spoon.. Mmm..)

Post-Workout Warm Cookie Dough in a Bowl

Mix the following ingredients in a good-sized bowl:

¼ C. cream of rice (dry) + 3/4 C. water 
½ C. + 3 Tbsp liquid egg whites
½ tsp butter extract
½ tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of ground instant coffee
1 Tbsp brown sugar [OR] 1/2 Tbsp maple syrup + 2 Tbsp stevia [OR] 1 Tbsp Splenda brown sugar for baking

Cook above in microwave, whisking every minute until nice 'n thick (I start with 2 minutes, whisk, 1 minute, whisk, 1 minute, whisk... you get the idea). If it gets TOO thick, just whisk in more water. Let it cool a good five minutes or so (it will be really hot), then stir in: 

1 heaping Tbsp semi-sweet chocolate chips (preferably 70% or darker)

I pretty much let it cool down to only slightly warm before adding them in, otherwise the chocolate chips will just melt away as soon as you start stirring. You can always just sprinkle them on top though.

There are tons of substitutions and variations that can be made of this, too. Using oats, protein powder, different additives (walnuts, cacao nibs, blueberries...). Play around and see what works! This in particular is suited best for a PWO meal because of the faster-absorbing (high-glycemic) carbohydrates, ratio of protein to those carbs, and lower fat.

Tasty and effective! Enjoy!