This summer, I’ve had two recipe-testing obsessions. The first involves whole-grain sourdough pizza crust*, and although it satisfies my endless curiosities into both bread baking and home fermentation, it also makes me feel like a crazy person every time I insist on turning on my oven. The other fixation is much more seasonally reasonable: the quest for the perfect healthy fudgesicle.
I’ve been dreaming of a deeply dark chocolate pop, lightly sweetened, and I had my heart set on achieving a rich and creamy texture from nutrient-dense avocado. I also set high standards for a classic fudge flavor (ie. I didn’t want this thing to just taste like chocolatey guacamole). It took a few tries to get it just right, but this is it!
Depending on the size of your avocado and the type of dark chocolate you use, this recipe comes out to about 200 calories per serving (with about 13g total fat, 4.5g saturated, and 13 grams of sugar). So it’s a legit dessert – but one that is built from real food ingredients, a dessert that will give you real satisfaction in addition to its richness in nutrients. You can also cut the portion size if you have smaller popsicle molds – my squeeze-pop molds hold about 1/2 cup of liquid.
I wasn’t about to waste my weekend trying to create beautiful images of tubes of brown goo, so you’re stuck with the quick pic above. They may not be photogenic, but they have a lot of good qualities that should convince you to try the recipe: a short list of simple ingredients, healthy fats, antioxidants, limited sugars, fiber (5g per serving!), vegan-friendly, and a super-easy technique that will leave you with plenty of time for summer fun.
*Posts on my new sourdough habit are coming soon! In the meantime, get your fermentation fix on my sourdough pinboard.
**Need more healthy frozen desserts to beat the heat? Try my Fresh Strawberry Frozen Greek Yogurt, or the whimsically named chocolate cookie variant: Joe-Joe Fro-Yo
2 oz. dark chocolate (~1/3 cup of chips/chunks)
1 small/medium ripe avocado
1 cup almond milk (or substitute coconut milk)
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
Place the chocolate in a small bowl or measuring cup and gently heat in a microwave (taking it out to stir after each 20 second increment) until smooth. Combine all ingredients in a blender (or attach a mason jar for easy cleanup). The chocolate will re-solidify, but it will still be soft enough to blend. Puree until very smooth and pour the mixture into popsicle molds. Freeze until solid, about 3 hours or more, depending on the size/shape of your molds.
These days I do most of my recipe-clipping on Pinterest, but I still have a recipe folder on my browser’s bookmarks bar dating back from the days before ‘pinning’ was a household term (shocking, I know). There’s a smattering of links from all corners of the web, but the heart of the collection is a sub-folder marked “Tried and True,” which holds those special recipes that I’ve come back to again and again… the keepers, if you will! Along with the formula behind killer pumpkin garlic knots and the original source inspiring my favorite chili (which has been tweaked and perfected and eventually taken over as Grant’s kitchen specialty), this folder is also home to an unassuming yellow dal bookmarked from Smitten Kitchen. I made this recipe for the first time in college, just starting to dip my toes into Indian cooking, and I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve served it up since then!
This dish has been a dinner staple in my house for a lot of reasons. For one, the recipe is really straightforward, easy enough to commit to memory. It’s also super inexpensive. I do my best to cook with economy and grace, and these tasty lentils make it easy: all of the budget-friendly benefits of dried beans, but with no soaking needed. It’s a hearty vegetarian (easily vegan) source of protein – about 14 grams per serving, before the yogurt garnish. And those healthy legumes are filled out with plenty of vegetables and nutritious spices. I’ve been putting more focus on anti-inflammatory foods in my diet lately, and the turmeric, cumin, coriander, cayenne and garlic in this recipe all offer functional health benefits to reduce inflammation in the body. This is definitely an example of getting your flavor from real food, and this enticing combination is so nutritious that it’s practically medicinal!
Continue reading “[Instant Pot] Everyday Lentil & Spinach Dal”
Flavor. We definitely consider it an essential part of the diet around here, but it’s not often that we talk about its direct relevance to nutrition. After reading a great article by Mark Schatzker last week, I was inspired to take a moment to highlight this underappreciated piece of the human nutrition puzzle.
Shatzker describes flavor as an “ancient chemical language,” which is such a beautifully fitting depiction of the science. “Flavor is the body’s way of identifying important nutrients and remembering what foods they come from.” We have evolved to seek out our favorite flavors, but we’re facing a problem because this synergy between us and our diet has been disrupted by our modern food supply. Factory farming and other questionable contemporary food production techniques yield lackluster products, in both nutrition and flavor. On top of that, a highly profitable industry of food scientists and flavor chemists have stepped in to fill the flavor void, adulterating products with enticing extracts and additives that tempt our senses but that provide none of the benefits that our bodies are craving. Shatzker’s new book, The Dorito Effect, is definitely going on my reading list. The message, which is very consistent with the way we do things around here, is to get your flavor from real food, because it’s what your body really wants.
So how can we put this theory into practice? Today, let’s remember that it doesn’t have to be complicated to craft big flavors from natural ingredients. Serving as a prime example: Chimichurri in a Hurry. Just a handful of the highly flavorful and nutritious compounds in this classic Argentine condiment include antioxidant myristicin from parsley, antimicrobial allicin from garlic, and anti-inflammatory capsaicin from chili peppers. And we get to enjoy all of those whole-food benefits in just a matter of moments thanks to my favorite blender-hack.
Continue reading “Chimichurri in a Hurry”
Ready for take two? In case you missed it last week
, this is the second installation of flavorRD’s special feature for National Nutrition Month
. Every week in March, we’re biting into a healthy lifestyle with a new balanced recipe inspired by USDA’s MyPlate: the idea is that 1/4 protein + 1/4 carbs + 1/2 veggies = healthy dinnertime success made easy, all on a single sheet pan. This time around, we’re catering to the plant-powered people out there! Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, or just trying to work in some Meatless Mondays
, this spicy sweet garlicky goodness is a full-flavored way to power up your weeknight dinner table.
Continue reading “MyPlate Bake #2: Sriracha BBQ Tofu”
The artichoke: nature’s finger food.
Au naturale. Simply steamed. Is any other plain vegetable quite so botanically romantic? Maybe it’s the delicately sweet flavor. Maybe it’s because they love cool, salty California air, like I do. Maybe it’s because you’re literally eating a dang flower! Whatever it is, sitting down to share an artichoke is something special.
Unfortunately, the things have a reputation for being a pain to prepare – their tough structures definitely need some cooking before they’re ready to melt in your mouth. On the stove top, you’re looking at upwards of 40 minutes of babysitting the pot, making sure the water level doesn’t boil too low. This is where Instant Pot comes in (affiliate link). With my favorite set-and-forget pressure cooker on hand, the task really isn’t fussy at all.
Continue reading “[Instant Pot] Pressure-Steamed Artichokes”
Had a hard week? You need an easy weeknight dinner. Fortunately for us, this one is packed with nutrient dense vegetables and layers of slow-cooked flavors… without the slow-cooking. The veggies all cook quickly, so there’s no advance planning needed. Just a little therapeutic chopping and simmering while you decompress from the challenges of the day, and you can have this wholesome vegan dinner on the table in no time.
If you’re a seasoned Caribbean foodie, please note that I’m not claiming any authenticity. When I dreamed up this stew, I was going for a hearty foundation of powerful plant foods, tempered with tropical coconut milk and some warm spices as my simplified allusion to Jamaican jerk-style seasoning. Authentic cuisine? Not exactly. Super satisfying healthy dinner? Most definitely!
Continue reading “[Instant Pot] Vegan Caribbean Coconut Curry”
After resolving last week to fill out my Recipe Index with more of my favorite quick weeknight dinners, I noticed another woefully empty blog category here at flavorrd: snacks! (!!!)
I’m definitely a snacker. I fully respect mindful eating, but there’s also nothing I love more after a long work week than a fully-stocked Netflix queue and a big bowl of something crunchy. And if you choose the right snack, there’s nothing wrong with that!
Continue reading “BBQ Popcorn”
Some people start the day with a crossword puzzle, but my morning mental exercise regimen is a little more practical. It involves staring into the fridge, jumbling together edible odds and ends to fill a lunchbox balanced enough to sustain myself through a day at the office. I’m usually pretty good at this game, so that’s my excuse for not being super organized with meal planning. But the day that I struggled to find a better “protein” than a bag of Trader Joe’s peanut butter pretzels… I knew it was time to get serious.
Last weekend I made a very minimal investment of time and efforts, which yielded big lunchtime results. It started with an idea to attempt a copycat recipe for the sweet chili tofu cubes stocked at the Whole Foods salad bar. For a time I used to live in an apartment right across the street from Whole Foods, and since this was during my busy grad student years, I built a pretty strong affinity for some of their healthy convenience foods. That salad bar saved me for dinner many nights, and those sweet, chewy tofu cubes were always a welcome addition to my leafy greens.
Continue reading “Sweet Chili Tofu Salad”
As much as I like to try new things in the kitchen, lately I’ve been succumbing to summertime simplicity. We’re eating well, but my efforts haven’t exactly been innovative, and I know that the basic foods we’ve been thriving on are just too boring to blog about (nobody needs me to tell them how to make tacos, for real). But this – antioxidants and omega 3s, whipped into something that tastes like a fruity chocolate milkshake? – thankfully, it’s both a new flavor and a total no-brainer.
I’m a big fan of hemp – it appeals to my classic hippie sensibilities, of course, and it’s also a nutritional wonder! Hemp seeds are high in fiber, rich in omega 3s, and they’re even a complete protein (soy and quinoa are the only other plants that can make this claim).
Continue reading “Blueberry Cocoa Hemp Smoothie”
Are you looking for a way to express your gratitude to whoever invited you to this weekend’s barbeque?
Are you staring down too many pounds of fresh berries that you couldn’t resist at the farmer’s market?
Are you sick of your vegan friends getting in the way of your desire to top everything with whipped cream?
This cake is the answer to all of these questions.
This time of year, fruit pies and cobblers get all of the attention. And sure, summer fruits are worth celebrating, but why not invite chocolate to the party? Personally, I think fresh berries and dark chocolate are really complimentary flavors – antioxidants on top of antioxidants, naturally! And of course berries & cream are a classic combo (and a personal weakness of mine), so getting swept up by the whipped coconut cream sensation taking over the internet solidified the vision of my perfect mid-summer dessert. I mean, any topping that can unite the vegan and paleo communities has got to be some powerful stuff, right?
Continue reading “Dark Chocolate Cake with Berries & Coconut Cream”