When the leaves begin to fall, in most areas of the country the temperature falls too. Some people with naturally hotter constitutions thrive in the cooler weather, but others who are sensitive to the cold (like me) begin to crave warming comfort foods this time of year. Foods like warm stews, soups, and hot teas are some of my favorites, but my absolute favorite way to warm up on a chilly day is with a steaming mug of hot chocolate.
When I was a kid, there was often a warm cup of hot chocolate waiting for me when I’d come home after playing outside in colder weather. When I was in high school, my mom owned a beautiful espresso bar and which sold the very best hot chocolate. So hot chocolate is a longtime favorite of mine, and Chef Joe and the kids like it too.
But hot chocolate has a downside…
A couple of them, actually. Most hot chocolate mixes on the market are extremely high in sugar and also contain a lot of milk. These two substances are part of the Skin Trigger Trifecta (to find out the third, check out my book, Love Your Skin, Love Yourself) responsible for exacerbating conditions like acne, eczema, rosacea, candidiasis, and more.
A I learned more and more about health and nutrition, I began to redo common comfort recipes with healthier ingredients that don’t aggravate skin conditions–and I don’t like depriving myself (and I don’t encourage my clients to deprive themselves) of an occasional sweet treat so I knew that some of my recipe redos had to be for desserts and other sweeter indulgences.
The Holistically Haute Hot Chocolate is the answer!
This recipe, Holistically Haute Hot Chocolate is still sweet, very creamy and chocolatey, but contains no sugar or milk and is rich with antioxidants. What?! Check it out:
Ingredients for one 8 oz mug:
- 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
- 1 or 2 tablespoons (depends on how strong you like your hot chocolate) of pure, raw cacao (NOT cocoa…you want cacao) powder
- A few drops of liquid stevia extract (stevia extract is an all-natural, 0 calorie sweetener extracted from the stevia plant that does not contain any sugar, affect blood sugar levels, or feed candida)
- Heat the almond milk on the stove over a medium flame until it is steaming, but not boiling.
- Add your desired amount of cacao powder and whisk it in well until it is dissolved. Add 2 to 3 drops of stevia extract and mix well.
- Taste it–add more cacao and stevia if you want it more chocolatey or sweeter. Remember that stevia is much sweeter than sugar, so I suggest only adding more one drop at a time until you reach your desired level of sweetness.
By the way, my kids actually like this hot chocolate better than the kind that comes in those packets.
You know how it is when you work super hard on a big project for a really long time and once it’s complete you wonder what the heck you’re going to do with all of your time? That’s kind of how it was for me once my book, Love Your Skin, Love Yourself, was published this past summer. I decided to take some time off creatively and just focus on catching my breath, spending time with my family, taking excellent care of my clients, and promoting the book.
That’s all still the case…but you know me, it’s never too long before my creative muse wants to start a new project. This time though, my muse got a little nudge from my publisher, Sennin Group. Sennin’s been really happy with Love Your Skin’s early success and, since they’re going through a huge growth stage themselves as a company, they asked if I’d be interested in publishing something else by the end of the year–specifically, a cookbook to be ready for the holidays. Yikes!
Why do they want a cookbook, you might ask?
Well, they don’t actually just want a cookbook from me. They know I’m married to an award winning chef (Holistically Haute’s Chief Culinary Officer, Chef Joe) and wanted to know if he’d be interested in joining the Sennin family as a new author. Now Joe’s an uber-talented chef–and I’m not just being biased–but he was a little hesitant about a book because:
a) He’s not a writer
b) He doesn’t cook from recipes. He just throws ingredients together and they magically taste amazing (I know, we should all be so lucky, right?).
So we decided to partner up on this book project together. We’ll create recipes together based on his creations and use some of my best tried and true multitasking recipes, and I’ll do the majority of the writing.
Since we’re on a bit of a time crunch, this will be launched first as an e-cookbook, and then will be available later on in print. This is our first real professional collaboration together–should be fun! Stay tuned for more details and progress on our cookbook.
In the meantime…
Chef Joe got a chance to exercise his writing muscles by contributing a post and recipe to Sennin’s online magazine for dads, Dad Men Walking. He shared his delicious mango salsa recipe, which is also going to be featured in our book since it’s delicious on savory dishes as well as a healthy veggie tip or compliment to chips for parties and games.
You can also sign up HERE for cookbook updates and exclusive bonuses!
Now that the school year is back inswing, I am getting back into the swing of making extra portions at dinner to pack for my kids’ lunches the following day. Soups, sauces, and mix moshes are easy to make in larger quantities and save in smaller portions for future use. Never heard of a mix mosh? It’s my daughter’s pre-school version of “mish mosh”—basically a stir-fry. You can find one of my other mix mosh recipes here.
Do you like Brussels sprouts?
I have to admit I never tried a Brussels sprout until, like, last year. Isn’t that terrible? There are a couple of reasons for this:
- My mother never made them when I was growing up
- The look like little cabbages which I wasn’t always a fan of (though I like cabbage now)
- I always remember the stereotypical family dinner scenario where the mother is taunting the children: “Eat your Brussels sprouts or no dessert…” and the kids held their nose and choked them down.
My first delicious experience with Brussels sprouts a la Chef Joe.
So when Chef Joe told me that Brussels sprouts were his favorite vegetable, I was kind of shocked. He whipped up a quick Brussels sprout and tomato warm salad with a raw apple cider vinegar dressing and I tried it and was shocked at how much I loved it. I couldn’t believe I had been missing this deliciousness my entire life! I took a picture of it but of course when I asked him what he put in it I got nothing but “tomatoes and apple cider vinegar.” Pshaw. So now we have Brussels sprouts about once a week.
Did you know?
Besides their versatility and deliciousness, there are lots of reasons to love Brussels sprouts! Brussels sprouts are extremely healthy. They are great for lowering “bad” cholesterol, helping the body to naturally detoxify itself, rich in phytonutrient antioxidants that protect DNA from free radical damage, are said to be protective against certain types of cancer, and do not have goitrogenic affects like other cruciferous veggies can.
Last night’s mix mosh of Turkey Bacon, Brussels sprouts, and Quinoa was especially delicious, so I figured I’d share the recipe with you. Note: if you are a vegetarian or vegan just take out the bacon and this recipe is still absolutely delicious—however if you eat meat, you can feel free to use organic and preferably pasture-raised turkey or pork bacon.
- I bag of Brussels sprouts, cleaned and cut in half
- 1 cup of pre-soaked and rinsed (or pre-sprouted) quinoa and one cup of water or stock to cook it in
- 1-2 tablespoons of organic virgin coconut oil
- 1 package of organic turkey (or pork if you prefer—pork will eliminate the need for coconut oil), cubed
- 1 large Portobello mushroom cap
- 1 small white or yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup of raw apple cider vinegar (ACV—I like Bragg’s)
- 2/3 cup of your choice of stock—I used vegetable stock here
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- Pink Himalayan or Celtic Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Heat a large skillet over a medium to high flame and add your coconut oil. Add your cubed turkey bacon and cook until it starts to brown, stirring or tossing frequently. While you’re doing that, bring your water or stock for the quinoa to a boil in a small saucepan. Add quinoa, reduce to a low flame and cover. Let it cook while you prepare the rest.
Add your Brussels sprouts and let cook until they begin to brown, stirring or tossing frequently. Then add your mushroom, garlic and onion.
Once your onion begins to turn translucent, reduce your flame to low and add your raw ACV. Let it simmer until it smells more apple-y than vinegar-y and then add your stock, parsley, salt, and pepper. Let the sauce reduce to about half.
Your quinoa should be done by now. Add it to your mix mosh and turn off the flame. Let it sit for another minute or two so the quinoa can absorb the flavors of the sauce. The sauce will thicken as it cools. Serve and enjoy! By the way, my kids LOVE this.
Turkey Bacon, Brussels Sprouts, and Quinoa Mix Mosh
This takes about 45 minutes, including prep-time and makes 4-6 servings.
It’s almost party time! Tomorrow, 9/3/13, I am celebrating the launch and success of my new book, Love Your Skin, Love Yourself: Achieve Beauty, Health, and Vitality from the Inside Out and Outside In with giveaways and two live events! I hope you can join me.
Win a free signed copy!
I’ve got 5 autographed copies of my book, and your name could be on one of them! To enter to win your signed copy, all you need to do is “Like” the Holistically Haute Facebook page and share the Launch Party Event page with your friends. Winners will be announced at the end of the day. Each signed copy will be personalized with a personal message from me to each winner.
Chat with me LIVE on Facebook!
At 1 pm EDT, I will be on the Holistically Haute page LIVE to answer your questions about the book, my programs, or holistic skincare in general. It’s a fun way to interact with me personally and have some fun! Please note I cannot give personalized health or skincare advice during the chat. Hope to see you at 1 tomorrow!
Hangout with Alicia Dunams, founder of Bestseller in A Weekend, me, and some other new authors!
At 4pm EDT, I will be one of just a few selected authors featured in Alicia Dunams’ Virtual Author Spotlight. You’ll get to hear from me, as well as the other authors about our books (on various very cool topics), and all attendees of the live event who purchase my book will receive an additional exclusive bonus! You’ll have to attend the event to find out what it is 🙂 The other authors will have special gifts available with purchase as well. I attended Alicia’s last eventand it was so much fun…I love learning about different books and getting to see and hear the authors themselves…it’s an awesome eventand I’m honored to have been asked to participate! Register HERE.
But wait, there’s more…here’s a salad recipe for you!
You didn’t think I’d just leave you hanging, did you? I wanted to leave you with a super quick, delicious, and filling salad recipe that’s great to take to work for lunch, pack for the kids’ school lunch, or enjoy for a quick, light but satisfying meal for yourself. I made it for dinner last nightand I didn’t feel like sharing…just saying!
Ingredients for salad:
- 1/2 a salad bowl full of romaine lettuce, 1/2 a salad bowl full of arugula
- 1 carrot, thinly sliced
- 1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
- 1 plum/Roma tomato, chopped
- 2 tbsps each of sunflower seeds and chia seeds
- 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp each of fresh basil and parsley
Add these ingredients into a salad bowl with your choice of homemade dressing. I used my Lemony Plum Cider Vinegar dressing (recipe in this post), but you can keep it as simple as olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper if you want and it will still taste great.
This recipe is a great example that eating healthy can be simple, affordable, flavorful, and super-quick to prepare. It’s also an example that a salad can be made into a filling meal without adding meat or a fattening, creamy dressing–instead we add a flavorful dressing and healthy seeds for protein, essential fatty acids, and texture. Enjoy!
Do you ever get a new gadget that does cool things and you just can’t stop using it for random things? A perfect example of this is a laminator. When I used to work in retail, we used a small laminator to make price tags using credit card plastic sleeves. Well on slow days, all of a sudden EVERYTHING that fit into those sleeves needed to be laminated: wallet photos, ID cards (even if they were already laminated they got another layer of plastic “just in case”)…we even laminated wallet-sized doodles with the limited array of colored pens and markers we had available. Another example is an electronic pencil sharpener. All of a sudden the kids use cleaning the house as an excuse to locate any rogue pencils that need to be sharpened.
My current kitchen gadget addiction: the Spiralizer
When I began studying holistic nutrition, vegetarian and vegan cooking, and even raw food preparation, I saw several recipes for brightly colored noodle-looking dishes. These are basically very finely cut ribbons of raw zucchini, squash, sweet potatoes, carrots…pretty much any vegetable tough enough to hold up at that size.
Since I had also gone gluten-free at the time, I was also looking for healthy gluten-free pasta alternatives–after all, an Italian girl’s gotta have her pasta.
So I grabbed a sharp knife and some veggies and started cutting them lengthwise into tiny noodle-sized strips using a gridlike method. This took a really long time, didn’t result in consistent widths, and due to my poor knife skills, almost resulted in a non-tomato-based red sauce…if you know what I mean. It also resulted in being teased by my dear husband, Chef Joe, who said “that would be much easier with a Chinese mandolin.” I retorted “Well duh, of course it would, but we don’t have one!”–of course I refused to admit at the time that I had no idea what a Chinese mandolin was. I was thinking some sort of exotic stringed musical instrument. Well, while I went to Google “Chinese mandolin” (and found out that there is a stringed instrument called a Chinese mandolin), Chef Joe went into the garage and emerged from his collection of kitchen gadgets with…you guessed it…a Chinese mandolin…AKA a spiralizer. He showed me how easy it was to use it (and how to use it safely…these things are SHARP), and I became hypnotized by the curly noodly spirals of veggies that came out.
I ransacked the fridge and spiralized just about everything that was large enough to fit onto the mechanism–fat carrots, cucumbers, potatoes, squash, thick broccoli stems, parsnips, beets, onions (not very successfully)…you name it, it got spiralized. I wound up with several bowls of spiralized veggies (and some fruits) that either became raw snacks or bowls of “pasta”.
My favorite and my kids’ favorite? “Confetti Spaghetti”.
Now, you can totally enjoy Confetti Spaghetti as a raw snack or side dish. Raw yellow squash, zucchini, and carrots are really delicious dressed in raw apple cider vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, or pesto with salt and pepper. However, if you truly want to mimic a pasta-like experience, try the following lightly-cooked recipe.
- 1 large bowl of spiralized veggies: I used 1 large zucchini, yellow squash, and carrot
- 1 tbsp coconut or grapeseed oil
- Juice from half a lemon
- 1/2 a small onion, minced
- 2-3 cloves of garlic (I actually used 4 because I like to keep the vampires away 😉 )
- 2 sticks of celery, minced
- 2 tbsp each of black chia seeds and raw, unsalted sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup of vegetable stock
- optional: 1 tbsp of organic, grass-fed, butter
- 1 tbsp each of finely chopped fresh parsley and basil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Begin sauteeing your onions and garlic in your oil over a medium flame. Once translucent, add your celery and herbs and saute for another minute or so.
- Add your lemon juice and saute for 1 minute, then add your vegetable stock and reduce to a simmer. Add your seeds, salt, pepper, and butter if you are using it and let the flavors blend for a couple of minutes. Taste your sauce and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
- Toss in your spiralized veggies and fully coat them with the sauce. Reduce your flame to low and cover your pan for 2 minutes to allow the veggies to lightly steam in the sauce.
- Give your “noodles” a final toss in the sauce and use tongs to plate them into regular pasta-sized portions (or more…no white carbs here!). Serve and enjoy!
This recipe provides approximately four servings, depending on the size of your veggies. If you need more, just spiralize more veggies–I plan to add some broccoli stems to my next batch.
You may be wondering if a bowl of spiralized veggies is satisfying…
On its own, perhaps not for some. However, the addition of the chia and sunflower seeds makes this dish really filling. The lightly steamed veggies have a similar texture as al dente pasta, and this sauce is bursting with fresh flavors. This was as satisfying as a bowl of “real” pasta…without the lethargy and bloating that usually follows a high gluten, high processed carb meal. My kids loved the fun look and delicious flavor of this recipe. They only had one critique: The noodles look more like fettuccine than spaghetti. Sheesh, touch critics!
Do you have a spiralizer? What’s your favorite spiralized dish? Please share in the comments!
*Image 1 credit: Jessica Mullen
I came up with this delicious pink smoothie recipe when I was putting together a handout for a class I taught at my local dance studio for the dancers, dance teachers, and their families. Of course I wanted it to be pink to go along with the ballet theme–plus who doesn’t love a pink drink right? All kids and most adults like pink drinks 😉 But unlike the majority of the other sugar, artificial dye, and chemical-ridden pink drinks out there, this one is packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and even probiotics (if you use the kefir as a base)! It provides hydration, energy, nourishment…and oh yeah…it tastes GREAT.
This smoothie is a great after school snack, or a fun snack to make for the kids when they have friends over for playdates. You can also freeze them into ice pop molds for a delicious, refreshing, and nutritious frozen snack.
- 1 cup of plain almond milk or kefir (for a probiotic bonus)
- 1 heart of romaine lettuce (we’ve got to have our greens!)
- 2 stalks of celery
- 1 cucumber
- 1 apple
- 1.5 cups of mixed berries (frozen is fine)
- 1 avocado
- 1 banana
- Juice from one lemon
- Optional: 1 acai puree smoothie pack (for extra antioxidant power)
Start with the almond milk or kefir and add the greens/veggies one by one. Add the berries, apple, and banana. Blend until smooth. Add your avocado and blend until smooth. The texture might firm up–add your lemon juice and more almond milk if necessary to achieve the desired consistency. Enjoy! You can make big batches and freeze them in mason jars for later use (or to take on the go) and you can also freeze your mixture into ice pops for a refreshing snack.
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