Chocolate Almond Butter Cups

Now that I have mastered the skill of making my own almond butter, I am getting a bit obsessed with the stuff. It is just so darn creamy and delicious and it goes well on crackers, on banana or apple slices, on bread with jam and on a spoon straight out of the jar.

almond butter 3

As I was slurping a fresh batch off of my spatula recently, I had another brilliant idea – chocolate and almond butter together! Heavenly. I started dreaming about homemade peanut butter cups and this amazingly awesome recipe was born.

I based these on the Peanut Butter Cups in Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet cookbook. I adore this book because it has tons of plant-based recipes that are relatively easy to make and taste great. I especially love Mom’s Granola, Black-Eyed Pea CroquettesRustic Pasta and Kim’s Red Radish Tabbouleh.

the kind diet

I got busy pulling together ingredients for this dessert and I quickly encountered a problem – no graham cracker crumbs. But I did have a new box of Barbara’s Original Puffins cereal and after I popped some into a large baggie and let the toddler at them with a meat tenderizer – I soon had my crumbs. And as an added bonus, the recipe was now wheat-free.

puffins

These decadent treats taste like old-school peanut butter cups made with crunchy peanut butter. You can whip them up in no time flat with store-bought almond butter if you don’t want to make your own. And yes they taste as good as they look. You can thank me later ; )

Chocolate Almond Butter Cups

cups 1

1/2 cup Earth Balance (or organic butter)
3/4 cup almond butter (homemade or raw organic)
3/4 cup Barbara’s Puffins cereal crumbs (whirred in the food processor or hammered in a baggie to make crumbs)
1/4 cup maple sugar
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (Enjoy Life vegan or Cuisine Camino fair trade)
1/4 cup almond milk

Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in almond butter, puffin crumbs and maple sugar and mix well. Remove from heat and evenly distribute among the muffin cups.

Combine chocolate and milk in another saucepan and stir over medium/low heat until chocolate is melted. Spoon chocolate over peanut butter mixture.

Place in the fridge for at least an hour to set.

Enjoy!

cups 2

Cleanse Day #5 – How Am I Doing? What Am I Doing? And 2 Recipes!

So here I am on Day #5 of my Kathy Freston Jump Start Cleanse and I can feel the fog finally lifting. The sluggishness of days 2-3 is gone and the constant urge to jump into bed with a big bag of Easter chocolates is starting to fade. I’m feeling quite nervous as I head into the weekend because I have a couple of social events planned and I know it is going to be super tempting to have just one glass of wine or a huge handful of nachos. I’m resolved to stay strong but this is going to be a big test!

I made a list for myself at the start of my cleanse of a few things I want to do over the next 21 days to try out some new things and to see if I can initiate a healthy habit or two. Here is what I wrote down:

  1. Meditate – at least once a day but preferably twice. I downloaded a Kathy Freston guided meditation from iTunes and I’ve been listening to it on my ipod at night before I fall asleep. I’ve also been using a Louise Hay meditation CD, some guided meditations I found on YouTube and simply stopping to do some deep breathing a few times each day.
  2. Floss – my dentist is always after me to make flossing a priority but I’ve never been able to make it stick. I read some stats recently about the direct link between oral hygiene and overall health and it was enough to make me rethink this nighttime ritual (did you know that according to Dr. Roizen in his RealAge Makeover book-  daily flossing can add 6.4 years to your life?)
  3. Visualize – I have been taking the time when I have a quite moment to visualize how I want my life to unfold in terms of family, career, vacations, etc. and to practice gratitude for the many wonderful things in my life. I try to really picture in my mind the things I want to manifest and to feel the emotion that I would feel in those situations. (Sound too woo woo for you? Just stick to the deep breathing if one is too weird).
  4. Dry Brush – another great pre-shower ritual that has many benefits including improved circulation, immune system boosting and reduced cellulite. Check out this video on dry brushing for tips. I bought my skin brush at Whole Foods but you can also order one online at Upaya Naturals.
  5. Oil Pulling – I read about this one online from a fellow health and nutrition blogger and I was intrigued. It basically involves swishing coconut oil in my mouth for 20 minutes a day for a myriad of health benefits including whiter teeth, better skin and clear sinuses. You can check out the post on it here.
  6. Exercise – at least once per day even if it’s just dancing around to Old MacDonald 10 times with my toddler. So far so good.
  7. Organize my Pantry and Fridge – time to toss the plastic and make good use of my mason jars for storing flours, nuts, seeds, etc. I also want to get rid of condiments that I don’t use and old Halloween candy that is luring me with its stale but sugary goodness.
  8. Massage – enough said. Got one booked on Saturday afternoon.
  9. Kindness – one of my favourite bloggers is Patience Salgado over at Kindnessgirl.com. She inspires me with her “Guerilla Goodness” acts and I decided to incorporate a few of my favourites into my 3 weeks. I’ll keep you posted on the ones I try.

Here are a couple of easy new recipes for you that I’ve had this week and they are goodies:

Homemade Almond Butter

almond butter 1

2 cups raw almonds
Pinch of vanilla bean powder
Pinch of sea salt
1 tsp of agave nectar (or 1 tbsp. maple syrup)

This recipe takes some patience but it is worth it! Basically you pop the nuts into your food processor and start whirring.

almond butter 2

It will take about 20 minutes for those little babies to turn into creamy and delicious nut butter so don’t get discouraged. Just keep processing and scraping down the sides until you are convinced that nothing will ever happen and then like magic – you will have beautiful almond butter. Add a pinch of vanilla bean powder, sea salt and a hint of sweetener at the end of processing to kick up the flavor and there you have it! Spread on a rice cake or cracker or simply eat it straight out of the bowl.

Raw Tomato Sauce

raw tom sauce

7 sun-dried tomatoes (soaked in water until soft)
2 large ripe tomatoes
1 clove garlic
1 big bunch of fresh basil leaves
2 tbsp. gluten-free tamari sauce
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. nutritional yeast

Toss everything into your blender and whir until smooth. I ate this cold over kelp noodles but I warmed it gently on the stove and served it over regular noodles for Mark and the kids. It is also great over rice and quinoa.

raw tom sauce kelp noodles

Enjoy!