Category: Dessert

The Colossal Healthy Chocolate Bar

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Colossal Healthy Chocolate Bars

Being a recipe developer means grocery shopping almost every day. On my way out the door I always ask my husband if he would like anything from the store, and more often than not he says: “a treat, please”. Now, he doesn’t mean a lovely bag of blood oranges or a pint of juicy strawberries – he means a chocolate bar. Not a healthy chocolate bar. A low-vibe, sugar-laden, not-real-food chocolate bar. But I do not judge him. I just buy the thing and pick my battles (toilet cleaning and garbage disposal rank higher on my list).

Recently, standing near the cash register and cruising the candy bars like a very reluctant weirdo, I actually experienced a pang for one myself. That rich and total over-the-top decadence is not something I am often drawn to, but for whatever reason the Snickers and the Twix bar spoke to me like long lost friends. And that was the exact moment I decided that I was going to makeover my two favourites with the best whole food ingredients I could find, that would deliver both total satisfaction and nutrients. A healthy chocolate bar to end all healthy chocolate bars. Could such a dream be realized? Oh yes, the universe loves us and wants us to be happy.

Colossal Healthy Chocolate Bars

The Colossal Healthy Candy Bar is three tasty parts. First, the bottom biscuit layer inspired by Twix, is a mildly sweet, vegan and grain-free cookie made with coconut flour. It is crisp when it comes out of the oven, but goes pretty cake-y once it is combined with the other ingredients. Delicious nonetheless, and a pretty important counter-point to all the richness of the other layers.

Second, the caramel-and-nut layer inspired by Snickers, but with a twist: instead of just using dates in the caramel, I balanced out the sweetness by adding a healthy dose of hazelnut butter. Wowzers. This was a very delicious decision. The caramel became far more complex, rich-tasting, and it is essential to note that this would make a fantastic spread or topping all on its own. If you do not have hazelnut butter, I recommend almond or cashew in its place (click here for instructions on how to make your own nut butter). Instead of using peanuts, I used roasted hazelnuts to sink into the top of the caramel for awesome texture and crunch – almonds could also be used here.

Lastly, each bar is enrobed in luscious, raw, dark chocolate. I usually use coconut oil in my raw chocolate recipes, but after reading the (incredible!) new cookbook Clean Cakes by Henrietta Inman I was convinced that using solely raw cacao butter was the way to go. It delivers a crisper finish and creamier texture. If you want to make things simpler and faster, feel free to use a ready-made bar of chocolate in this recipe instead of making your own. Raw chocolate is of course the healthier choice, but if you’re pressed for time or ingredients, this is a good shortcut to take.

Colossal Healthy Chocolate Bars

Coconut Flour Power!
With so many diets and lifestyles focusing on gluten-free and grain-free eating, coconut flour is wonderful option for many people. Made entirely from dried coconut flesh that is pulverized into a soft, fine powder, coconut flour is a nutrient-dense alternative that is increasingly available at health food stores and even supermarkets. Score!

There are several benefits of coconut flour, my favourite being that it is remarkably high in protein and fiber. Translation: super filling and satisfying! It is low in sugar and digestible carbohydrates, and scores low on the glycemic index, so it a perfect choice for paleo eaters and diabetics. It’s also nut-free and non-allergenic.

The flavour of coconut flour is slightly coconut-y, but not overwhelmingly so. I like it in things like these chocolate bars where there are many other strong tastes going on that overshadow the taste of the flour. If you want to compliment and enhance the flavour of the flour, use coconut milk as the liquid portion of a baked good. Seriously yummy.

What’s the catch I can hear you asking. Well, there are a few downsides to using coconut flour, mainly due to its density, dryness, and lack of elasticity. It’s certainly not a flour to experiment with if you’re looking to replace wheat flour for instance, as the two behave completely differently (that goes for using coconut flour in place of almost any other flour, whether grain, seed, or nut-based). Coconut flour is also crazy-absorbent and needs quite a large proportion of liquid to solid to avoid crumbly results (I’ve read the comments below and it seems like a lot of you are struggling with this factor!) Most recipes I’ve found online remedy this by using a lot of eggs, but I used applesauce and flax seeds instead with good results. Once you get the correct ratio down it’s pretty easy to work with, but I’ve learned the hard way that it’s best to use tried and true recipes with this finicky ingredient!

Colossal Healthy Chocolate Bars

Back to the candy bars. Which are insane. These truly colossal creations have everything you could ever want: tasty cookie, ooey gooey chewy caramel, crunchy roasted nuts, divinely rich chocolate, and tiny salt kisses. I am so darn proud of this recipe, and I can’t believe that such a decadent thing can exist without making me feel lousy after eating it. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that I feel colossally healthy after eating one. Or two. Stop looking at me like that.


Colossal Healthy Chocolate Bars

I hope you guys find as much satisfaction in this recipe as I have. It’s pretty rad to have a stockpile of candy bars in your freezer for when the urge strikes, and to keep you out of the chocolate aisle on your next trip to the store! For the record, if you see me there, I’m buying treats for my husband…since I’m really bad at sharing.

Show me your candy bars on Instagram: #MNRchocolatebars

Gingersnap Eggnog Ice Cream Sandwiches

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Dear friends, I’ve been hit with the Christmas spirit! Perhaps a little slow on the uptake, this recipe was the absolute magic that knocked me sideways, and it’s better late than never. Especially in this case. To keep this level of deliciousness to myself would be decidedly Scrooge-like indeed.

Two treats come to my mind when I think about Christmas: gingersnaps and eggnog. I thought about just posting a raw vegan egg nog ice cream or just gingersnap cookies, but then I realized that combining these two things would be utterly insane in the best way possible. So I did just that, and the first bite I took actually caused me to laugh out loud. These ice cream sandwiches are so delectable that I beg you to make them.

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This ice cream is everything. It’s super rich, creamy, decadent with plenty of warming nutmeg spiciness to conjure up egg nog memories without any egg to speak of. Or cream. Or milk. It’s vegan and raw believe it or not, but you tastebuds won’t know that – they will only thank the dear heavens for being born in a body that gets to eat this gorgeous stuff.

The Gingersnap cookies are also vegan, gluten-free, and delicious on their own, or embracing a giant scoop of egg nog ice cream (obviously). They cleverly employ rolled oats that are turned into flour right in your food processor, creating a satisfyingly-textured treat that I’m sure you will make over and over again. The brown rice syrup is worth finding if you’re into a super crisp cookie, where the barley malt syrup can be used in its place but the results will be chewier. 

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Because the flavours in this recipe rely heavily on spices, I thought the following reminder would be helpful. Most people assume that spices are just inanimate powders that they can keep forever, but they are actually very delicate creatures that change both flavour-wise and nutritionally over time. Buying spices whole will ensure that they will keep their taste and nutritional potency for up to twelve months, while ground spices will last for only six months. If you’re like my mom and have had the same dusty jar of chile powder kicking around since 1992, do yourself a favour and discard it, buy some fresh, and enjoy. Life is too short for stale spices! 

There are times when ground spices are appropriate, especially for convenience sake. Cinnamon, ginger, paprika, cayenne, turmeric, cumin and cardamom are the ones I usually have ground since I go through quite a lot of each of these over the course of half a year. Spices that I always keep whole include nutmeg, clove, allspice, coriander, fenugreek, star anise and peppercorns. 

Although it is commonplace for people to store spices next to the stove for easy access, this is not the best place. Spices should be kept away from heat and light and be tightly sealed in a glass or ceramic container. Metal canisters may contain compounds that can interfere with the spices chemically, while plastic containers encourage condensation, which leads to spoilage. Keep spices in a cool, dark place, and put a date label on the jar to remind yourself when to toss any remaining product after it has expired.

The Eggnog Ice Cream recipe calls for nutmeg, which I will implore you to grate fresh, because it is a revelation! Ground nutmeg loses its flavour very quickly that the results of this recipe will be completely different. If pre-ground nutmeg is all you have then you may need to increase the amounts I’ve called for. And in that case, ask for a couple whole nutmegs for Christmas. 

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I wish all of you out there a delicious, magical, safe, healthy, and abundant holiday. And I want to thank each and every one of you for your love and support this year in making my dreams a reality. From the blog, to my cookbook and the My New Roots app, your ongoing enthusiasm for what I’m doing really motivates me to keep going. Big love to you all.

Peace, blessings, and happy holidays!
Sarah B.

Show me your ice cream sandwiches on Instagram: #MNRicecreamsandwiches

Beet, Raspberry and Vanilla Smoothie Bowl

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Hey buddy, how’s your blood doing these days? Is it healthy and flowing? Full of oxygen and freshly-made red blood cells? Have you ever even thought about this?! The answer is, not likely. And that is nothing to be ashamed about. We are never really taught to think about our blood, how to nourish and take care of it, how to tell if something is missing.

When I studied Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) I learned about “blood building”, a term to describe nourishing the body with the nutrients required for ample and healthy blood. For some reason, I took a particular interest in this field, and have been a passionate blood builder of my own ever since. If this sounds dorky (it is) and a little confusing, think of your blood almost like a muscle. We are more familiar with the idea of muscle building, in that our muscles require specific macro and micro nutrients to grow and thrive. Same as blood. Pretty simple, except you can’t do it at the gym – you gotta get in the kitchen. 

The role of blood in our body is to transport nutrients, oxygen, immune cells, and hormones, along with removing toxins and waste, and disperse heat. The components that make up our blood are used and disposed of extremely quickly, so there is a high cell turnover, which also means high nutritional requirements.

Iron, folic acid, vitamin B-12, and protein are the major building blocks of blood. All of these things work synergistically to make your blood as potent and healthy as possible. Besides folic acid, you can see from the list that most of these nutrients are found abundantly in animal foods, but not so abundantly in the wonderful plant kingdom. So how do vegetarians build blood anyway?

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First and foremost eating a wide variety of fruits, veggies, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and superfoods is a good place to start. Hey wait! That sounds like a balanced diet. So if you’re already there, great. If you’re just starting out, your blood is about to get real strong.

More specifically, the best blood building foods are the darkest of dark leafy greens and their powders, such as spinach, kale, beet greens, wheatgrass, barley grass, spirulina and chlorella, and deeply pigmented red foods such as beets, cherries, raspberries, goji berries, raisins, kidney beans, adzuki beans, and blackstrap molasses. I also find that drinking a cup of nettle tea every day, which contains high amounts of iron, is really effective in helping to tone the blood.

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This smoothie bowl is a one tasty blood builder. It’s got a solid dose of greens (think iron, folic acid, and protein) from the spinach and wheatgrass, with beet, raspberry and prunes (lots of deep, dark, iron-rich goody goodies!) plus lemon for a vitamin C boost – since we can’t absorb iron from plants unless we have a little help from vitamin C. 

Although you may think that putting raw beetroot in a smoothie is a little odd, I was shocked at how utterly DELICIOUS the combination was with the raspberry. It’s altogether earthy, sweet and tart, with a divine vanilla kiss that makes me swoon. Plus can we talk about the colour?! I can practically feel it feeding my blood with all of those juicy pigments and nutrients. Gosh. Isn’t life grand?

Smoothie bowls are a divine invention because you can eat them with a spoon, and you can top the heck out of them for a real meal situation. Although I’m sure it’s just a psychological thing, I sometimes feel a bit under-fed after a smoothie in a glass. Plus I like chewing a lot, and chewing a beverage can sometimes be boring without some chunks involved. Don’t you agree? I’ve topped mine here with raspberries, pomegranate, sea buckthorn, bee pollen and almond butter, but get creative with this on your own! I’ve listed some other topping ideas in the recipe. And I will also say that taking just one extra minute to decorate your bowl delivers major self-love points and satisfies the creative genius in us all. There are no wrong answers or unattractive smoothie bowls! Go wild, you strong-blooded creature, you!

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I hope you guys are fired up to build your blood now. Happily, it involves eating and not donning spandex and running on a treadmill. Although, that is important too. The running part. The spandex I’ll pass on, thank you.

Cheers to your blood,
Sarah B.

Show me your smoothies on Instagram! #MNRbeetsmoothie