Fudge Brownie Drops – Serves 5+

I had the whole weekend to work on my letter of intent for doctoral school but…  I had a craving for brownies which took over my Saturday.  Whoops, yet so worth it.  I had lots of fun creating this recipe using what I had at home and did lots of tasting during (too much).  Best part is that these brownies are gluten and dairy-free aka WINNING.  

Unsweetened cocoa powder packs a bitter but powerful taste and is a pure form of chocolate.  This powder is packed with antioxidants called polyphenols which are also found in another favorite item of mine — red wine.  Polyphenols are known to help reduce cancers as well as lower blood pressure and effects of aging.  Cocoa powder is a natural stimulant thus if you need an extra boost in the morning – sprinkle some into your coffee or oatmeal!  Lastly, cocoa powder contains a natural antidepressant called phenethylamine that mimics the natural ‘high’ experienced post exercise.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chocolate chips, melted
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp coconut flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup almond butter (or other nut butter)
  • 2 tbsp avocado, fresh
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk (light)
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 6 large medjool dates, mashed with the pits removed
  • 2 tbsp coconut flakes (unsweetened)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Pinch of cinnamon

Methodology:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a blender combine the melted chocolate, eggs, coconut oil, and coconut milk, then pulse well.  
  2. Fold in the remainder of the ingredients – cocoa powder, coconut powder, almond butter, avocado, dates, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, and salt.  Pulse well until all the ingredients are one uniform batter.  
  3. Try to refrain from tasting so you have enough to actually cook!
  4. Line a cooking sheet with parchment paper and use a tablespoon to drop the chocolate batter.  Leave about a quarter sized space between each drop.
  5. Cook well for 20-25 minutes until you can insert a toothpick and remove it clean.
  6. Serve when trying to distract someone…  Works every time.  

xxx – Sarah

 

Pickled Cucumber Avocado Salad – Serves 6

Tables during football parties and fall gatherings tend to be filled with wonderful dishes that are usually heavy, fried, and/or cream based…  I encourage you to change it up with this pickled dish.  Everyone loves a good pickle – therefore why not spruce things up with some color and a powerful taste?  Also, this dish is vegetarian, gluten-free, kosher, and dairy-free for your guests who may follow certain dietary specifications.

One of the ingredients utilized in the dish for the ‘pickling’ was mustard seeds derived from mustard plants which are sparse looking yellow dandelion-like delicate flowers.  The flowers can be added to a bouquet for color and variety, or they can be matured to form brown pods which hold the seeds and are removed before they can further ripen/burst.  The mustard plant leaves and stems are also edible like any other greens.

When added to the pickled mixture the seeds add a nutty taste to the dish.  There are several variations to the seeds – those white and brown in color are commonly used for pickling.  These seeds may be little but they pack quite a punch.  The seeds are filled with phytonutrients, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidant properties.  Notable benefits include their high content of essential oils and plant sterols which may play a role in lowering blood cholesterol levels.

Pickled Cucumber Salad

Ingredients:

  • 3 cucumbers; thinly sliced
  • 1 small, sweet yellow onion; sliced, diced, and slivered into various sizes
  • 1 cup, white vinegar
  • 2 tsp brown mustard seeds, whole
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup mango, diced or chunks
  • 1 cup yellow/red/green bell peppers; minced (variety is optional)
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 avocado, diced

Methodology:

  1. In a medium saucepan over high heat combine the pickling ingredients, brown mustard seeds, sugar, coconut oil, vinegar, salt, and sugar, then bring to a boil.  (If you prefer your onions cooked like I do – add the onions to the pickling ingredients otherwise they can be added later.)
  2. Remove the pickled mixture from heat and set aside for 20-30 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the cucumbers, peppers, mango, and onions (if not cooked in step 1).
  4. Stir the pickled mixture into the large bowl with the cucumbers.
  5. Chill mixture for a minimum of 3 hours to overnight for a delicious yet tangy taste.
  6. Prior to serving add the diced avocado into the mixture and toss.
  7. Time to get pickled!

xxx – Sarah

Mango Grape Relish – Serves Four

With the weather finally warming up my taste buds are craving something sweet with a side of adventure.  I love dips, mixes, and relishes especially when in a bind. These days I have little time but I enjoy cooking at home and having leftovers for lunch (or breakfast) the next day at work.  Mangoes are my absolute favorite fruit – cannot get enough!  I could eat it with anything…  That is how I came up with this relish which is a perfect addition to protein dishes such as steak, chicken, fish, or even eggs. This recipe can even be utilized when in a bind during meal prep for a dinner party and can serve as a twist to a traditional starter such as guacamole.

There are many varieties of mangoes; my favorite type of mango is the yellow mango otherwise known as ‘ataulfo’ and ‘champagne.’  These mangoes are best during the early spring to mid summer months.  Mangoes such as this one contain high amounts of vitamins C and A as well as dietary fiber.  Like most fruits, mangoes are naturally free of fat, sodium, and cholesterol.

Mango Grape Relish

 

Mango Grape Relish 

INGREDIENTS (raw & fresh)

  • Yellow mango (1 whole); diced
  • Red grapes (1/2 cup); sliced in half
  • Cilantro (1/3 cup); minced
  • Yellow onion (1/4 cup); minced
  • Lime (1/2 whole); juice
  • Avocado (1 whole); diced
  • Heirloom tomato (1 whole – small); diced

METHODOLOGY

  1. Combine the mango, grapes, cilantro, onion, avocado, and tomato in a bowl then mix.
  2. Add the lime juice atop the ingredients and toss.
  3. Serve with chips, crudités, or even atop of a skirt steak (as seen in the photo below).
  4. Smack those lips together and enjoy!

Mango Grape Relish atop a Skirt Steak

 

xxx – Sarah