Temperatures are in the single digits, the sky seems to constantly be gray, snow is falling.
With this winter weather, nothing beats cozy blankets, fuzzy socks, glowing candles, and… your hands wrapped around a cup of hot chocolate!
Of course I would want to make a healthier version of your typical hot chocolate. Why do I call my recipe the HEALTHIEST homemade hot chocolate? It has the healthiest sweetener!
Check out this video for more info comparting sweeteners: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-healthiest-sweetener/. (The founder of nutritionfacts.org, Dr. Michael Greger, is the author of a book I am currently reading. I love that he is bringing evidence-based nutritional science to the masses with this book):
Spoiler: It’s date sugar! And it makes sense that it would be the healthiest considering it is essentially a whole food. Just ground and dried up dates! It gives this hot chocolate just enough sweetness, while adding a rich creamy thickness. The only caveat is that in order to get it really smooth, I found that a blender was necessary. Making it on the stove, despite my whisking, seemed to leave some chunks. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to chew my hot chocolate. 😉
I think you will love this and can’t wait for you to try it! If you don’t have date sugar, go out and buy some and let me know what you think! I also use it in these to-go oat jars.
The Healthiest Homemade Hot Chocolate!
- 1 cup nut milk*
- 1 tbsp. cacao powder
- 3 tbsp. date sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- pinch sea salt
- Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.
- Keep blending until hot, OR
- transfer to saucepan and heat.
- Grate some dark chocolate on top if desired, and enjoy!
*I tested this with storebought organic almond milk, and homemade almond and cashew milk. My husband and I both preferred the homemade cashew milk.
I’d love to hear from you! Have you used date sugar? Have you made a healthier version of hot chocolate? Leave me a comment!
None of us are invincible.
I knew this intellectually, but seemed to have forgotten over the past couple of weeks, as I tried to do everything.
My husband had surgery and I was taking care of him, taking care of our daughter, cooking, cleaning, and picking up extra shifts at work to cover for him. I was taking care of everyone else, but not myself! If you follow my Instagram you saw my vitamin c + ginger packed smoothie that I made when I was feeling under the weather. What else did I make?
Enter: Elderberry jello.
Elderberry has a very long history of medicinal use. Additionally, it has been studied and found to be effective in the treatment of cold and flu in adults and children, as well as other conditions (source, source, source). We buy elderberry concentrate from our chiropractor. You can also buy it here.
Protein is important for optimal immune function. Protein can come from many healthy sources, organic eggs and meats, beans and legumes, nuts. In these jello jigglers, we have grass-fed gelatin, which provides us with important amino acids, “building blocks” of proteins. Make sure you buy a quality, grass-fed gelatin, like this one.
I used Organic Antioxidant Force juice for this recipe. This is the exact one, which I bought from Aldi for around $4 for a large bottle. There are many brands though, I know Trader Joe’s has a 7 juice blend, and I believe Santa Cruz makes one as well. You can sub in any juice you want, although I always make sure to buy organic and in a glass bottle.
Honey! In my regular healthy gelatin jigglers recipe, I don’t use sweetener. I like to use honey as a sweetener for this recipe, as the elderberry extract is not sweet tasting, and honey has antioxidant, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties. Make sure you use raw and local honey, if possible. The majority of honey you find in stores is refined and processed, and like most refined/processed foods, it can damage your health rather than help.
These are kid-approved too! My little girl loves them, and I think they helped prevent her from getting sick.
Now, if you excuse me, I’m back to being super mom! (With more handwashing, vitamins, and rest 😉
Immune Boosting Elderberry Jello
- 2 cups organic juice (I used antioxidant force, which is a blend of pomegranate, tart cherry, red grape, purple carrot, cranberry, and blueberry)
- 3 tbsp. grass-fed gelatin
- 3 tbsp. elderberry concentrate
- 1 tbsp. raw local honey
- In a small saucepan heat the juices and honey just until steaming.
- Remove from heat and while stirring SLOWLY sprinkle the gelatin into the juice blend and continue stirring until mixed. You may see some clumps this is fine and if you let the hot juice sit for 5 minutes the clumps will dissolve.
- Once all the gelatin is dissolved, transfer the jello liquid into your preferred mold and refrigerate at least 3 hours or until firm.
I’d love to hear from you! Have you ever added elderberry in your diet when you were sick or to help prevent sickness? Leave me a comment!
How convenient do these little oat cups look? You’ve seen them, right?
Perfect for on-the-go, or if you are staying over a friend’s house and don’t want to “help yourself to the poptarts,” which happened to my husband lately. 🙂
But, at over $2 for one, you can definitely make them cheaper at home and keep them ready to go in your pantry!
I buy organic oats in bulk, and they are about $1.50 per pound. Yes, you can get A POUND of oats for cheaper than one of these little store-bought cups!
Homemade Travel Oat Jars to the rescue!
I’ve talked before about how I like to re-use jars, like nearly-empty nut butter jars for this Spiced Pear Overnight Oats recipe.
But, as you can see by this picture, it’s true… all those jars are different! It just makes sense. If I’m going to try my hand at canning (maybe next year?), I’ll spring for brand new ball jars and lids.
I tried out about a million different combinations for these, and they were all really good! For the base, I pretty much always do 1/2 cup of oats (sometimes give my husband more, about 3/4 cup), 2 tbsp. chia seeds, and 1-2 tbsp. flaxseed. Then I add in a sweetener, spices, dried fruit, seeds, nuts, etc. Then, all you have to do when you want to eat it is add hot water! I’ve made these at work with water from a Keurig, even! Stir and wait a couple of minutes, and then dig in!
Because I tried out so so many combinations, I felt like I needed to narrow it down a little, while still giving flavor options. So I came up with a beginner, intermediate and advanced. The beginner is also the cheapest, while the advanced will be most expensive. Feel free to try one, or all though, whether you are just starting on your healthy eating journey or if you are a health nut! I figured that pretty much everyone has oats and raisins, while the “advanced” uses ingredients that may not be in everyone’s cupboard, like goji berries, which are almost $20/lb, depending on where you get them.
Beginner: Cinnamon Raisin ($)
1/2 cup oatmeal
2 tbsp. chia seeds
2 tbsp. flaxseed
1-2 tbsp. date sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp. raisins
1-2 tbsp. walnuts
Intermediate: Cranberry Hemp ($$)
1/2 cup oatmeal
2 tbsp. chia seeds
1 tbsp. flaxseed
3 tbsp. hemp hearts
2 tbsp. dried cranberries (I like naturally sweetened ones, like this brand)
1-2 tbsp. date sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Advanced: Green Tea Goji ($$$)
1/2 cup oatmeal
2 tbsp. chia seeds
1 tbsp. flaxseed
2 tbsp. hemp hearts
2 tbsp. goji berries
1 tbsp. coconut sugar
1/2 tsp matcha
A note about sweeteners: My preferred sweetener in these jars is date sugar, like this. I like it because it is simply dried ground up dates! In the Green Tea Goji, I felt the coconut sugar was better than date sugar because it helps with the slight bitterness from the matcha. You could try using stevia, or cane sugar. If you know you will have access to honey or maple syrup when you are going to eat these, then you can leave out the dry sweetener and just add it to taste after you add the hot water.
Where to buy? You should be able to find these at any healthfood store. Most mainstream grocery stores (at least near me!) have these ingredients, as well. I have seen all of these at Wegmans, and Trader Joe’s has many of these ingredients too. I even saw goji berries at Aldi!
As I mentioned, I get ingredients that I use a lot of through our local buying group, which saves me some money on oats, chia seeds, raisins, cranberries, and coconut sugar, and more. I also buy online because of convenience and price. Amazon Prime is helpful because of fast shipping, and no minimum order, and the prices beat the stores sometimes, like these organic goji berries.
If you like ordering online (I know my friends with kiddos say it is much easier!), Thrive Market is also worth looking into, it’s like an online BJ’s or Costco, but for natural and organic products. I have been a member for about a year and a half, and while you cannot do your complete shopping there (no fresh produce), it is so great for pantry items. Thrive beats the cheapest Amazon price (listed above) for goji berries. It’s the cheapest I’ve seen for many other products, like my favorite canned coconut milk, Purely Elizabeth granola, and even natural toothpaste and shampoo. They also added a lot of baby and kid products recently! In addition, they give back. For each friend that becomes a member, they will donate a membership to a low-income family. And, you get 15% off YOUR first order if you use my link (this also starts a 30 day trial membership to try it out, and you can cancel any time!) Check it out, here: http://thrv.me/pharmersarah
Travel Oat Jars
- ½ cup oatmeal
- 2 tbsp. chia seeds
- 2 tbsp. flaxseed
- 1-2 tbsp. date sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp. raisins
- 1-2 tbsp. walnuts
- ½ cup oatmeal
- 2 tbsp. chia seeds
- 1 tbsp. flaxseed
- 3 tbsp. hemp hearts
- 2 tbsp. cranberries (I like naturally sweetened ones)
- 1-2 tbsp. date sugar
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ½ cup oatmeal
- 2 tbsp. chia seeds
- 1 tbsp. flaxseed
- 2 tbsp. hemp hearts
- 2 tbsp. goji berries
- 1 tbsp. coconut sugar
- ½ tsp matcha
- Add ingredients in a pint mason jar or other jar.
- Store in pantry until ready to take, or consume.
- Before eating, mix in 1 to 1½ cups boiling or very hot water, depending on how thick you like it. (I usually use about 1¼ cups).
I prefer date sugar for most of my oat jars, as it is just dried and ground up dates. If you prefer a sweeter oatmeal, use coconut sugar, maple sugar, or organic cane sugar. You may need less of these sweeteners than the date sugar. Or, if you know you will have access to quality honey or pure maple syrup, leave the sweetener out and add honey or syrup to taste.
I’d love to hear from you! Do you have a great “travel” recipe? Leave me a comment, below!
Crisp air… leaves falling… crockpot simmering in the kitchen!
We went crockpot crazy this week, using it three times! Moving forward into fall and winter, I am going to make sure I have at least one crockpot recipe every week. It’s so awesome to walk in the door and have dinner ready!
This particular recipe does require a little prep work in the morning (or afternoon if you are home and can put it on a 4 hour setting). It is so worth it though!
Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Sauté the onion and about 1 tsp of salt until translucent (about 5-7 minutes). Add the sweet potatoes and another 1 tsp of salt and sauté for another couple of minutes. Stir in spices, ginger, and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour in a 1/2 cup of broth and scrape pan to help get all the good stuff off the bottom of the pan, and pour mixture into large crockpot.
Add all other ingredients to crockpot, EXCEPT coconut milk and spinach. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.
Stir in coconut milk and spinach until wilted. Serve with lemon wedge, if desired. You can serve this on its own, or over rice or quinoa. Last time we ate this we had it with local organic sourdough toast! Delish!
My husband and I both love this recipe and it is definitely a regular in our rotation! The recipe was originally inspired by and adapted from this one. My version doesn’t have any added sugar, unlike a lot of curries. It has plenty of sweetness from sweet potato and apple, though.
I also think it’s great how big of a batch this makes. You will have enough to freeze some, share with friends, or have for lunches all week. Yes, please!
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, diced
- 1 tbsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. curry powder
- 2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 inch piece ginger, grated
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 3 cups cooked chickpeas, or 2 cans chickpeas (drained)
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 orange or red bell pepper, diced
- 2 apples, diced
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
- 1 can (28 oz) fire roasted diced tomatoes with their liquid
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 1-2 large handfuls baby spinach
- 1 can full fat coconut milk
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges (optional)
- Heat oil in a pan over medium heat.
- Sauté the onion and about 1 tsp of salt until translucent (about 5-7 minutes).
- Add the sweet potatoes and another 1 tsp of salt and sauté for another couple of minutes.
- Stir in spices, ginger, and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Pour in a ½ cup of broth and scrape pan to help get all the good stuff off the bottom of the pan, and pour mixture into large crockpot.
- Add all other ingredients to crockpot, EXCEPT coconut milk and spinach and lemon.
- Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.
- Stir in coconut milk and spinach about 5 minutes before serving.
- Serve on its own, with optional lemon wedges, or over brown rice or quinoa. We also have been liking it with a buttered piece of local organic sourdough toast to dip in!
Check out my other crockpot recipes, here:
“Dump and Go” Taco Soup
Crockpot Potato Vegetable Chowder
Slowcooker Applesauce without a Recipe
I’d love to hear from you! Spam me with your favorite crockpot recipes so I can keep my once/week crockpot goal!
Is there anything easier than making a meal by just using your blender? Probably not. Which is one of the reasons I have a smoothie almost daily!
You will also need to turn on your oven, if you want to take this recipe to the next level with delicious potato “croutons,” which I highly recommend.
Besides it being SO EASY to make, another reason I love this gazpacho is that all the ingredients came from our garden. Hence, “garden gazpacho.” 😉 Beautiful large heirloom tomatoes, small sweet cherry tomatoes, a cucumber, a jalepeno (optional, what makes it spicy), a green pepper (feel free to use red if yours have ripened already!), onion, garlic. The rest of the ingredients are just a little lemon juice, and pantry staples… broth (I used homemade but feel free to use boxed broth ), olive oil, balsamic vinegar, hot sauce (optional, like the jalepeno, to give it a nice kick), ground cumin, and salt and pepper. We also got the potatoes for the topping from our garden.
One more reason to love this? You really don’t need a recipe! You can totally use the one below as just a guide. We were winging it, and it turned out good EVERY TIME. I usually blend the tomatoes first, then blend the rest of the ingredients, then fill the blender the rest of the way with broth. You will have one VERY full blender.
Such a perfect light meal or appetizer. Or, filling meal if you have it with piles and piles of potato croutons like I did, last time I made this!
Spicy Garden Gazpacho with Roasted Potato "Croutons"
- 2 large heirloom tomatoes
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes (or other small sweet tomatoes)
- 1 medium cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 jalepeno (mostly seeded)
- 1 green pepper, rough chopped
- ½ sweet onion, rough chop
- 3 cloves of garlic
- juice of ½ lemon
- 1 cup broth
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tsp hot sacue
- 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Herbs like parsley or basil (optional, or for garnish)
- Blend tomatoes in high speed blender.
- Add all other ingredients except broth and blend again.
- Finally, add broth to the top of blender (was about 1 cup for us) and blend again until silky smooth.
- Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if desired.
- Place in fridge to chill.
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Chop potatoes into ½ inch pieces.
- Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake for 20-35 minutes or until golden and crispy.
I’d love to hear from you! Do you like gazpacho? Or, what is your favorite end-of-summer recipe? Let me know in the comments!
Is there anything more refreshing than a pina colada on a hot summer day? Pina coladas from restaurants tend to be sickly sweet, and kind of tastes like sunscreen. Not exactly light and refreshing!
This smoothie is inspired by pina coladas, with the classic coconut and pineapple combo, but of course I added greens, making it a greena pina colada!
I think the secret to this is using an actual coconut. Sure… you could buy some coconut water or coconut milk in cartons or cans. But, I daresay it won’t be the same. If you haven’t tried young coconuts yet… this is me telling you, go get one! I bought this one at Wegmans. When we lived in NY’s Capital Region, we would get them from an Asian market. The one I tried stopping into since we moved to this area doesn’t carry them, though. It’s worth a shot to check because they tend to be cheaper at an Asian foods store than a regular grocery store.
Try not to chop your hand off. Thankfully, my accident-prone husband never did this when using a knife to cut them open. Since we use them pretty often in smoothies, we bought a Coco-Jack. Now I don’t have to worry when cracking them open!
Another tip to make this a GREAT smoothie, is make sure your pineapple is really ripe. I never find ripe ones at the store, so I buy one and let it ripen on my counter. When the kitchen starts smelling like sweet sweet pineapple, it’s ready to eat! The first time I made this it was with super sweet pineapple that had ripened on our counter, that I froze. The second time I made it was with frozen pineapple I bought from Trader Joe’s, and I didn’t like it quite as much! Still delish, but I noticed a difference.
Again, it depends on the pineapple a bit for sweetness, so try it as is. If you want it a bit sweeter (more like an actual pina colada vs a smoothie), add a frozen banana or a couple dates, or a Tbsp. of pure maple syrup.
Look how vibrant that color is! Partly because I added some turmeric 😉 . You don’t even taste it but there are tons of nutritional benefits! To read my post on turmeric, click here.
I’d love to hear from you! Have you tried young coconuts? What is your favorite way to use them? Leave me a comment, below!
Greena Pina Colada
- Meat of 1 young coconut
- 1 cup of coconut water (drink the remaining, save for another smoothie, or add it all in if you prefer a thinner smoothie)
- 3 cups pineapple
- ½ cucumber
- 1 cup packed lettuce
- ½ tbsp. turmeric
- Blend all ingredients in high speed blender until smooth.
- Taste. For a sweeter smoothie, add a frozen banana, a couple of dates, or 1 tbsp. of pure maple syrup.
These waffles have a secret.
They are tinted a little pink/red, but not from the strawberries. They get a little extra bright pink hue from… beet juice!
When toasted in the waffle iron, they turned more brown than I thought they would, but it’s still a fun addition if you have beets and a juicer. 😉 And infinitely more healthy than red food coloring!
These are so tasty, even my sister, who has an aversion to beets would like them! Ok, the beet thing might be the fault of her brother-in-law (my husband). While we were at a party one time, she commented about how she didn’t like beets, so my husband told her he would give her $10 to eat some of the pickled beets that were out. She tried and couldn’t finish it, and now her hate of beets is even stronger. But really, you can’t taste it AT ALL in these waffles!
And you can’t forget about the rhubarb compote! It’s just rhubarb boiled in syrup, and although it’s not very photogenic, it sure is delicious! Rhubarb, of course, pairs so well with anything strawberries!
Another great thing about this recipe is that it makes a huge batch. We end up having a ton to freeze, and then it’s so easy to pop them in the toaster oven for quick and easy breakfasts or snacks. We’ve been having them as the “bread” for egg sandwiches and it’s a very filling breakfast!
Hope you make these soon, with or without the beet juice, and let me know what you think!
Strawberry Waffles with Rhubarb Compote
- 2 Stalks Rhubarb
- ¾ Cup Maple Syrup
- 4 Cups Oat Flour
- 4 Tbsp Baking Powder
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- 2 Cups Nut Milk
- 3 Large Bananas, Mashed
- 2 Tbsp Coconut Oil, Softened
- Juice of 1 Beet, optional
- 12 Ounces Strawberries, Sliced or Chopped
- Rinse rhubarb and chop into ½" chunks.
- Combine rhubarb and syrup in a small saucepan.
- Simmer on low until rhubarb is soft and mixture has thickened (~10-15 minutes)
- In a large bowl combine dry ingredients, set aside.
- In a separate bowl mash bananas with a fork or use an electric hand mixer. I like using the mixer because it will help whip in some air when everything is mixed together, this helps the batter stay fluffy. Add remaining wet ingredients and mix well.
- Mix the wet and dry ingredients together and blend well. Mix thoroughly and quickly, the baking powder will effervesce and help the mixture rise. Once mixed quickly fold in the strawberries and let mixture rest for 5 minutes.
- Ladle batter onto a hot greased waffle maker, let cook until golden brown, enjoy!
I’d love to hear from you! Do you “sneak” healthier ingredients into your recipes? Share with me in the comments below!
Beets are one of the foods that have really grown on me! I don’t think I had beets at all while growing up. And these are one of the foods that we didn’t try to grow this year, in our garden. So, when I saw some gorgeous beets and beet greens (you better not be throwing the greens away! You can sautee, use them in a soup, juice them, or put them in your green smoothie!) at the farmer’s market, I had to scoop some up!
One of my favorite way to eat beets is roasted with a little olive oil and salt until crispy, and they are like chips! The trick with that is getting them really thin. Another delicious way to include them in your diet is juicing them! I find beets go really well with carrots, and in this recipe I added some lemon (with peel!), green apple, and ginger, which all help to tone down the really earthy flavor that the beet has.
This tastes so good, approved by the whole family. The one caveat is, beet juice stains like crazy! I felt like I had to stand over my 2 year old the whole time she was drinking it.
Hope this inspires you to get our your juicer if it’s away in storage. You won’t be sorry!
(What juicer do I have? This one. The best juicer for YOU, though? The one you’re going to use!)
Unbeatable Beet Juice
- 1 medium beet
- 1-2 lbs carrots
- 1 green apple
- ½ inch knob of ginger
- ½ lemon, with peel
- Wash and prep all ingredients.
- Run through a juicer.
- Strain (optional), but I prefer this, for a really smooth juice.
Want more juice recipes?
Check out these ones:
Go-To Green Juice
Cucumber Mint Melon Juice
Sweet Potato Sunrise
What about you? Are beets a part of your diet? What’s your favorite way to prepare? Leave me a comment!