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30 MORE Healthy Snack Ideas (paleo, dairy-free, refined sugar-free)

Our clients are always asking for snack ideas. It’s very daunting, this world of clean-eating, when you’re not really sure what you can eat and you miss all of your old favorites. We are a snacking society. Everywhere you go people are pulling out boxes and bags of processed and artificially colored “food”. Kids are given 2 snack times during a full schoolday; and snack machines are everywhere. And filled with anti-nutrients at best. I’m okay with snacks. As I said in my first post, 30 Healthy Snack Ideas, I LOVE snacks. But the word “snack” does not need to be synonymous with “junk food” or even unhealthy. Let’s redefine the snack. Let’s take the snack back. Let’s find healthy ways to get our snack on while still maintaining the integrity of what a snack really should be – what food really should be.

*We recommend shopping organic and local when possible to avoid pesticides and other harmful chemicals and to optimize nutrient quality!

Here are 30 MORE Healthy Snack Ideas for you to chew on. Pun intended.


  1. Avocado with salt.
  2. Almond butter or Sunbutter on a spoon.
  3. Apples with date paste (tastes like a caramel apple – really!)
  4. Dates stuffed with coconut butter
  5. Apple “sandwiches”: spread almond butter between two slices of apple
  6. Plantain Chips (clean, with salt and a healthy oil)
  7. Paleo muffins
  8. Coconut milk yogurt with fruit
  9. Banana slices with maple syrup and shredded coconut
  10. Pear slices with cinnamon
  11. Chocolate and almonds or pistachios
  12. Scallops or salmon wrapped in prosciutto (make sure the fish is wild caught and the prosciutto is “clean”)
  13. Veggies dipped in Spinach-Avocado-Herb dip
  14. Leftover meats
  15. These wraps filled with almond butter and honey
  16. Berry and/or spinach smoothie made with this collagen
  17. Tomatoes with basil and olive oil
  18. This Chia-Flax Super Cereal
  19. These sunbutter balls 
  20. These cassava chips
  21. This mango milkshake
  22. Diced apple with walnuts and cinnamon
  23. Almond butter with honey and chocolate pieces
  24. Macadamia nuts. I need not say more.
  25. A new discovery I’ve made is these Lara Bar Nut and Seed Bars – they are delicious and have a little protein to help keep you going (and they come in chocolate too :))!
  26. Olives. Not my favorite but I hear they make a great little salty snack!
  27. My Sunny Banana Bread
  28. My Chocolate Coconut Butter Cups
  29. Meatballs, like these
  30. BACON (it’s worth repeating)
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Sunny Banana Bread (paleo, grain-free, refined sugar-free, dairy-free)

We finally broke down and turned on the air conditioning. We lasted until the end of June, which is pretty good for living in Philadelphia where the humidity will suck the energy from you, reducing you to a pile of deflated sticky and sweaty mess. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Anyway, I missed the cool air, and am once again struck by how fortunate we are to have things like air conditioning. Really – how great is it that we can choose whether or not we want to use cool air in our house? Sometimes I think about things like that. It’s not weird.

During our A/C hiatus we also had to forego some things, like cooking in the oven. For some reason the air does not circulate well in our house, so the temperature stayed higher than the outside temperature, and any oven use increased the temp of the upper level of the house by at least a degree or two. So when we finally turned on the A/C, cooled ourselves down, and could once again function like humans, the kids requested banana bread. It’s no secret that we don’t eat much bread in our house, but when that craving strikes, I usually whip up a loaf of this paleo-friendly banana bread and it hits the spot! The kids love it. And it’s always fun to dress it up with coconut butter, honey, ice cream and or chocolate, or to make it into French toast. Mostly though, I love it just by itself, warm right out of the oven. *Just to note: because of the chemical reaction of sunflower seeds to baking soda, the bread will turn green once cooked. Do not be afraid! It is perfectly safe – and delicious – regardless.

And by the way, it’s easy too. Really easy. You’ll need a food processor, a whisk, a bowl and a bread pan.


Sunny Banana Bread (paleo, grain-free, refined sugar-free, dairy-free)

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 medium, very ripe bananas
  • 1.5c sunflower seeds
  • 1/2c coconut flour
  • 1/2c tapioca flour
  • 2T avocado oil
  • 3 eggs, whisked
  • 1T raw local honey
  • 1tsp baking soda
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1/2tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2c chopped walnuts, optional
  • coconut oil, for greasing pan

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Add sunflower seeds to food processor and grind down to a fine meal.
  3. With processor running, add oil and keep processing until it turns to sunbutter.
  4. Peel bananas and throw them in food processor with sunbutter. Combine until smooth.
  5. In large bowl, whisk eggs, and combine with the sunbutter mixture. Add in flours, baking soda and powder, honey, cinnamon and salt.
  6. If adding walnuts, add them now.
  7. Grease loaf pan with coconut oil. Pour batter into pan.
  8. Bake in oven for 30-35min, or until cooked through and browned on top.

Try it! And let me know how you like. Happy clean-eating!

Chocolate Coconut Butter (or Nutbutter) Cups (Paleo, Gluten-free, Refined Sugar-free)

Soooooo, chocolate. It really needs no introduction – am I right?! If you’re reading this post you probably love chocolate like I do…and like most people with a pulse do. Ive had to give up chocolate twice in my life: once when I was breastfeeding my little guy, who had bad reflux and was clearly allergic to something I was consuming, so I eliminated all possible culprits (thankfully it was dairy, not chocolate that he was allergic to); and once when I had to eliminate “moldy” foods due to systemic mold toxicity. It was not easy, and it was not pleasant, life without chocolate. Some of you may be thinking “you own a health and fitness studio – why are you always encouraging us to eat chocolate?”. Well, because I am a firm believer that, as the Eating Evolved slogan so cleverly puts it, chocolate is food, not candy. When it’s the right kind of chocolate that is. Here’s why:

Health Benefits of Chocolate

  • Packed with anti-oxidants and is free radical fighting
  • Can improve heart health
  • Promotes healthy cholesterol levels
  • May help fight cancer
  • Can reduce inflammation
  • Can boost cognitive functioning
  • Can help lower blood pressure
  • Contains numerous vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, calcium, iron, selenium, etc

Isn’t that amazing? But here’s the thing: we’re not talking about the chocolate that you used to get trick-or-treating as a kid: you know, the Snickers and Butterfinger bars…those are not considered “food” and you will not see the above benefits from eating 6 candy bars a day. We’re talking about pure, dark chocolate, the darker the better. Here is what you want to look for – and avoid – when choosing a healthy chocolate:

  • 70% or higher cacao content (we typically don’t use anything lower than 85%)
  • organic or fair trade
  • minimally processed
  • no additives or soy
  • preferably no refined sugar (maple or coconut sugar preferred)

We buy Eating Evolved chocolate because it meets all of our criteria and is delicious! While we don’t use it as a meal replacement, we do eat quite a bit of it, and like knowing that we’re nurturing our bodies and our health. We also love to make treats with it from time to time, like my Chocolate Coconut Butter (or Nutbutter) Cups!


Chocolate Coconut Butter (or Nutbutter) Cups

Ingredients

  • 1 dark chocolate bar (we use 85%, but you could use darker or lighter, or a combination of the two!)
  • 1T coconut oil
  • 1/4c coconut butter or nut butter (we like almond butter)

Directions

  1. Line mini-muffin tin with 12 mini-muffin liners. Alternatively you can buy mini muffin liners that do not need to be used in a tin, you would just place them on a baking sheet.
  2. Melt chocolate and coconut oil in double boiled over low-medium heat.
  3. Spoon about a teaspoon of chocolate into each muffin liner. Steps 3-5 should be done rather quickly to avoid the chocolate drying and becoming less manageable (and pretty)!
  4. Spoon a dollop (a teaspoon or so) of coconut butter or nut butter on top of the chocolate.
  5. Spoon another teaspoon or so of chocolate on top of the butter. If needed, continue to add a little more chocolate to each cup to cover the butter, and until all of the chocolate is used.
  6. Freeze for 20 min.
  7. Enjoy!
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This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

Herb-Marinated Beef Sirloin (paleo, gluten-free)

Spring is fully underway here in Philadelphia, with lots of rainy days, lots of warm sunny days, and lots of weird in-between days when you have no idea what to wear. I love springtime, with the gorgeous flowers and trees in bloom, the birds happily singing their busy tunes, and children filling up the playgrounds again. Winter is drab around here, and by the time those temperatures begin to rise again, we are more than eager to get out and enjoy every moment! One of my favorite hallmarks of spring has come to be planting flowers with my kids, and of course preparing our little garden in our backyard. I like to let the kids pick some things that they want to plant, and have them help me with each step. They love getting their hands dirty, searching for worms, planting the plants, and munching on the herbs as we set them in the soil. It’s a beautiful thing to plant and grow your own food – even if it’s just a little – and to have your children be a part of the process, and appreciation.

Health Benefits of Fresh Herbs

Sun gold tomatoes are a staple for us each year, but this year we’re branching out a little and adding cucumbers and strawberries to the mix! Our herbs remain the star of the show though, with varieties of basil, mint, parsley, cilantro, chives and rosemary making an appearance year after year. And since we grow our own herbs, it’s given me an excuse to use them in our food more, and to play with new ways of incorporating them into our diets as much as possible. I love using them in cooking; they add so much flavor and really help any dish come alive. Herbs are packed with health benefits too! Here are some common culinary garden herbs and their health benefits:

  • Sage: antioxidants, improves memory, prevents disease
  • Mint: antimicrobial, anti-viral, antioxidants, aids and calms digestion, reduces inflammation
  • Oregano: antioxidants, antimicrobial, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, boosts immune system, prevents disease
  • Basil: antioxidants, anti-cancer properties, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, reduces blood pressure,
  • Rosemary: antioxidants, anti-microbial, relieves pain, aids digestion
  • Thyme: antioxidants, can speed recovery from illness, can treat foot and vaginal yeast, prevents disease
  • Parsley: antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, dietary fibers, balances cholesterol

With all of this in mind, I encourage you to add in more herbs to your cooking this year! Even if you’re already an herb-guru, maybe try something new, or at least a new recipe. Starting with this one. This one right here. Combining my love for steak with my love for fresh herbs, I knew I couldn’t go wrong, but I can’t even tell you how ridiculously delicious this oh-so-simple recipe is. And feel free to cook this on the grill, if you’re savvy that way. I used a skillet because I was in a bit of a time-crunch. Also, I used sirloin steak because it’s one of my favorite cuts, and one that I happen to have in the freezer, but feel free to use the marinade on different cuts, just make sure they’re grass-fed.


Herb-Marinated Beef Sirloin

Ingredients:

  • 1 16oz. beef sirloin steak (or similar)
  • Herb-marinade (see below)
  • 1-2T bacon fat or other cooking fat of choice

Marinade Ingredients:

  • 1c. olive oil
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 2-3T of each (or other herbs that you have in the garden)
    • basil
    • parsley
    • chives
    • rosemary
    • thyme
  • 2T red wine vinegar
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Chop herbs and combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl. Pour half of the marinade in a dish and add the steak, covering both sides with the marinade. Marinate for 20 minutes, and up to an hour in the fridge.

Preheat skillet over medium-high heat. Cook steaks for 6-7 minutes each side (more or less depending on how you like your steak).

Once done, remove steak and place on a cutting board or a plate to rest for 5 minutes or so.

Serve topped with remaining marinade.

 

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30 Healthy Snack Ideas (paleo, dairy-free, refined sugar-free)

I love to snack. Much like my 3- and 5-year-old, I get excited to open up a snack bag (even thought it’s one I packed) when we’re out for the day and it’s their (ahem, our) snack time. Japheth can literally go all day without snacking once. He will eat his 4-5 meals and be perfectly content. But me? I love having something to munch on. And as anyone who eats clean knows, it’s not always easy to be a snacker in this world. It’s not like we can grab a tin of Pringles or some cheese and crackers and go to town. And it’s quite a challenge to find good snacks at the store…don’t get me started on that subject. But, in this post, I have for you 30 – yes, 30 – snack ideas that are clean. I’m talking paleo-friendly, dairy-free, refined sugar-free, grain-free, you got it. And many of these ideas are just a little twist on things you already have at home! Of course, I’ve also included a few that you can buy and stick to use when in a pinch, and not feel guilty about!

30 Healthy Snack Ideas

  1. Nuts, seeds, fruits, veggies
  2. Carrot sticks dipped in mashed avocado
  3. Ants on a log (nut butter on celery pieces, topped with raisins)
  4. Ants on a stump (banana slices topped with nut butter, then topped with raisins)
  5. Homemade Trail Mix (nuts, dried fruit, coconut flakes, even dark chocolate)
  6. Paleo granola
  7. Maple-glazed walnuts (add 2c walnuts and 1/3c maple syrup to pan on
    medium-high heat. Cook and stir about 3 minutes, until syrup is
    caramelized).
  8. Coconut date poppers (can also make these in bars)
  9. Dark chocolate covered nuts
  10. Nut or seed butters (make your own!)
  11. Dried Fruit (with no added sugar or sulfur)
  12. Dates stuffed with almond butter
  13. Frozen grapes
  14. Frozen bananas
  15. Dark chocolate covered frozen bananas
  16. Smoothies like this super-healthy and yet somehow delicious one!
  17. Homemade Popsicles
  18. Boiled Eggs (sprinkle with favorite seasoning)
  19. Deviled eggs (yolks mixed with avocado and stuffed into whites)
  20. BACON
  21. Bacon Avocado sandwiches (avocado between two slices of bacon)
  22. Anything wrapped in bacon
  23. This chocolate. After all, as their slogan says, chocolate is food, not candy.
  24. Beef or pork sticks
  25. Kale chips
  26. Sweet potato chips **read the ingredients and make sure it’s clean, like Jackson’s brand!
  27. Paleo-friendly macaroons
  28. Lara bars are great, just make sure to avoid the ones with peanut butter!
  29. Coconut flakesthese have a little sweetness!
  30. Beef jerky bites – we love Epic bites and bars!

So there you have it, 30 healthy snack ideas for you to stay on track with your clean-eating, but also to satisfy that snack-craving! What are your favorite healthy snacks when the craving hits?

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This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

8 Super Simple Ways to Get Your Greens In

 

Leafy greens are vital components of a healthy diet, and provide numerous nutrients that our bodies need. I talked about the many benefits of leafy greens in a previous post here. Some of the challenges of eating greens, though, are efficiency and convenience. I’m not talking about eating a piece of lettuce on your burger and calling that your veggie serving. I mean real servings of greens. Several cups of a dark leafy green, such as kale, spinach, or chard, for each meal. Those mason jar salads? Believe it or not. they do not contain the amount of veggies your body should be getting in a meal. So how can you eat that many greens three to four times a day, and still manage to do all the things you need to do on a daily basis? That’s the tricky part for most people, and one of the many reasons that our society, as a whole, is deficient in vegetables, especially the super-healthy, super-vital dark leafy greens.

That is also why in this post I have outlined 8 Super Simple Ways to Get Your Greens In! Feel free to get creative with this list. Use it for inspiration and find your own ways that work for you. But don’t, please don’t, skimp on your veggies or your greens. Make a commitment and make it work.

8 Super Simple Ways to Get Your Greens In

  1. The Ultimate Green Smoothie. Packed with all kinds of health powerhouses, including probiotics and collagen, this is the ultimate delicious and healthy smoothie. And, it takes mere minutes to make!
  2. Sauteed Bacon-y Spinach. I’ve said it before and it’s worth saying again: bacon can make anything good. Simply heat up a couple of tablespoons of bacon grease in a saute pan and throw in as many cups of spinach as will fit in the pan. Place the lid on and cook until spinach wilts. Remove pan and stir until all spinach is wilted and ready to eat!
  3. Pesto. This is another really easy and efficient way to get those greens in. If you have a food processor this literally takes minutes to make, and you can eat it with any protein of choice. I like to make a large batch of pesto, using spinach, kale, herbs, and any other greens I can find. Add olive or avocado oil, and seasonings such as garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Here is a delicious and power-packed recipe to try.
  4. Kale Chips. If you haven’t tried kale chips yet, you should. They are delicious, and you can hardly tell you’re actually eating kale! Because they aren’t fresh, or likely local, you may not want this to be your sole- or even primary veggie source, but in a pinch, this is a great way to get your greens in and still get most of the benefits. And they’re much healthier than many other snack alternatives!
  5. Raw Wraps. Have you ever ordered a burger at Elevation Burger or Five Guys and asked for no bun, but a lettuce wrap instead? Or how about the famous Lettuce Wraps at PF Changs? Well, why not make your own? Try using chard or kale leaves instead of bib lettuce thought – it’ll significantly increase your nutrient intake.
  6. Homemade Healthy Sauteed Swiss Chard with Garlic and CheeseSoups. I throw everything in soups. That half of an onion that I didn’t use? Into the pot. Those extra herbs in the fridge? Into the pot. Hamburger meat and stew meat? Yep, why not. My dark leafy greens go in too (during last few minutes of cooking). If it’s a creamy soup, blend them right in with the other ingredients.
  7. Sauteed Greens. Saute up a bunch or more of de-stemmed kale, Swiss chard, or collard greens, using a fat of your choice, optional onion or bacon add-ins, a little salt, and about a cup of broth per large saute pan. Cook until just wilted and enjoy!
  8. Spinach Scrambled Eggs. Eggs pair really well with greens, and scrambled eggs are a quick and easy way to get the protein and veggies in to start your day off right! Whisk 4-6 eggs in a bowl and season with salt, pepper, and any other seasonings. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 6-8 cups of spinach (little at a time if needed), and cook until wilted. Add eggs to pan and cook until set.

These are some of my favorite quick and easy ways to get my – and my family’s – greens in! What are yours?

 

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This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

 

The Ultimate Green Smoothie (paleo, dairy-free)

Like probably millions of other Americans, our schedule is pretty hectic. Between the business, two small children, and all of the day-to-day things that come up, I need quick and easy when it comes to cooking. That’s not to say I skimp on taste, quality, or health though. No matter how hectic things get, I will move everything aside if I’m working on perfecting a recipe or experimenting with new ways to introduce delicious foods into our diet! Thankfully this one didn’t take too long to perfect. Once I finally invested in a Vitamix (life changer, and every bit worth the price!), making smoothies became a piece of cake. In fact, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t hopped on the bandwagon before! Life before the Vitamix didn’t have a lot of greens in it. I mean, we’d eat greens on a regular basis, but the majority of our veggie intake came from root veggies, because they’re faster and easier to eat relative to leafy greens. One serving of a sweet potato equates about 4-6 cups of leafy greens, and when you’re always on the go there’s no time for eating that many greens for every meal, much less for eating mindfully! But then, smoothies came into my life, and I no longer lack leafy greens in my diet. We (kids included) drink a green smoothie each morning to start our day, and I usually have one or two throughout the day as well, along with the other veggies I eat.

Why Leafy Greens are Important

We probably all know by now that leafy greens are good for us. Everyone tells us to eat more leafy greens, the darker the better. But why? Here’s a refresher of some reasons that leafy greens aren’t just important, they are necessary. Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, chard, mustard greens, etc. contain vital nutrients that our bodies need to function and live optimally. They are a good source of:

  1. Magnesium
  2. Potassium
  3. Calcium
  4. Folate
  5. Betaine
  6. Manganese
  7. Carotenoids
  8. Vitamin C
  9. Phytochemicals such as beta-carotine
  10. Antioxidants

The Ultimate Green Smoothie

I call this The Ultimate Green Smoothie because not only does it contain a generous helping of dark leafy greens, but also other powerful foods such as nutrient-dense herbs, health-boosting gelatin, and digestion enhancing probiotics. And even with all of this healthy stuff it still tastes so good we all ask for more! **Make sure to use local organic ingredients as much as possible in order to access the nutrients fully, and to avoid ingesting chemicals.

Ingredients:

  • water or water kefir, enough to fill blender 1/3-1/2 full
  • 2 probiotic capsules
  • dark leafy greens, enough to fill blender about 2/3 full (about 1 bunch of kale or 6c spinach)
  • 1 generous handful fresh herbs (we use cilantro, basil, or parsley)
  • 1c pitted dates
  • 2c frozen fruit (we like mangoes and strawberries the best)
  • 2tsp grass-fed collagen hydrolysate

Directions:

Fill blender 1/3-1/2 full of water. If you like thick smoothies use 1/3 water; if you like runnier smoothies, use 1/2 pitcher of water. Open probiotic caps and pour powder into water. Wash greens and herbs thoroughly and pack them down into pitcher until it gets to about 3/4 full. Add dates. Next add fruit, and top with gelatin. Blend until smooth and enjoy!

I hope you enjoy this Ultimate Green Smoothie as much as we do! How do you like to eat your leafy greens?

 

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This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

 

2-Ingredient Maple-Chocolate Candy (Paleo, Refined Sugar-free)

Have you ever been to a sugarhouse in Vermont? If not, you should go. Why? Because first of all Vermont is beautiful. Peaceful, serene, unplugged. Everyone should spend at least a weekend in Vermont. Seriously. Maybe we’ll add that as part of our health and wellness plan for our clients. As soon as you enter the state you immediately feel your breaths become deeper, your shoulders relax back down to where they’re meant to be, your mood lightens. It’s the perfect place to de-stress, to enjoy nature, and

Maple sugar house between trees with fall foliage at the countryside at Reading, Vermont, USA

to just be. Second, sugarhouses are usually set in some beautiful majestic setting (it is Vermont afterall), often down a windy, hilly path surrounding by mountains, trees, and gorgeous clean air. Third, this is where the most delicious, pure, straight from the trees maple syrup is made. And if you’ve never tried Vermont’s maple syrup, well…you should. It’s the perfect blend of sweet and intense flavor, and you can almost taste the cool air and pure nature that only Vermont can produce.

Okay, okay, maple syrup is delicious. But it’s sugar, right? Actually, maple syrup is an unrefined natural sugar, and like honey it contains higher levels of antioxidants and beneficial nutrients than white table sugar or high fructose corn syrup. It’s a wonderful alternative to refined and processed sugars, which are linked to numerous health problems. In fact, here are some benefits of maple syrup, in case you’re on the fence (I suggest getting down from the fence and going to Vermont, but hey that’s just me):

5 Benefits of Maple Syrup:

  1. Contains nutrients: zinc, potassium, manganese, magnesium, iron and calcium.
  2. Contains antioxidants
  3. Lower glycemic index than refined sugars
  4. Good for the skin: can lower inflammation and dryness
  5. Healthier alternative to artificial sweeteners and refined sugars, thus helping to prevent health problems that these cause
  • Even with these health benefits, maple syrup, just like any sugar, should be consumed in moderation.

In our house, maple syrup and raw honey are the sweeteners of choice when we need to satisfy a sweet tooth. This Easter I decided to think outside the box a little, and instead of more chocolate candies, I decided to make a maple candy. It turned out delicious, and just like the candy we tried in Vermont! It’s pretty easy to make, but make sure you follow the directions as accurately as possible. We no longer use chocolate chips because even the dark chips often contain soy and/or sugar, which we try to avoid. Instead we use our eating evolved chocolate bars and chop them up into chip-sized pieces! Also, you can choose to omit the chocolate chips and you’ll still have a delicious maple candy that can be spooned into candy molds for a cute presentation!

2-Ingredient Maple-Chocolate Candy

  1. In large saucepan, boil maple syrup over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Use candy thermometer and continue boiling until it reaches 235 degrees F.
  2. Remove saucepan fro heat and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes, or 175 degrees F.
  3. Once cooled, whisk rapidly until lighter in color, thick and creamy. Quickly stir in chocolate pieces (it’s okay if the chocolate is a little melty; you want to add the chocolate once it’s smooth and somewhat cool, but if you wait too long the mixture will be too hard!)
  4. Pour into candy molds or into an 8X8 pan (or something similar). Cool in refrigerator for a few minutes. Can be stored in airtight container in fridge for up to 3-4 weeks (but I promise it won’t last that long!)

I hope you enjoy this Maple-Chocolate Candy as much as we do, and at some point get to experience Vermont too! What are you’re favorite uses for maple syrup?

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Instant Pot Chicken Salad (Paleo, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free)

Instant Pot Chicken Salad (Paleo, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free)

The Instant Pot makes life so much harder! – Said no one, EVER. The Instant Pot is amazing, and I’ll tell you why. It has about a million settings on it, for everything you could possibly need, from stew and chili to yogurt. It boils eggs perfectly, making them a breeze to peel, cooks beef to the perfect level of tenderness, and produces perfectly steamed veggies in a matter of minutes. When we switched from slow-cookers to the Instant Pot, I admit I was a little reluctant. My slow-cooker was my prized possession, giving us warm and wonderful meals week after week, delighting our house with the smell of something yummy cooking. But then Japheth started going on and on about the benefits of pressure cooking, and then he said “it acts as a slow-cooker too”, and I was intrigued. “I’ll give it a try” I said. So I did. And I faced my pressure cooking fears too. Come to find out, pressure cooking with the Instant Pot does not result in fires that destroy the kitchen and home, as I had pictured. I now own 4 Instant Pots, and rave about them so much that I’ve convinced numerous clients and friends to get them too (and they LOVE it).

3 Striking Benefits of Pressure Cooking

If you’re like me, you may be a little averse, or even ignorant to pressure cooking because of preconceived notions based on your mom or grandmom’s pressure cooking fiascos. The truth is that many modern pressure cookers are actually very safe due to built-in safety mechanisms. Here are some benefits of pressure cooking, and why you may want to give it a try!

  1. It’s More Healthy Than Many Other Cooking Methods. Research shows that pressure cooking can actually preserve more nutrients in foods that most other cooking methods. This is because the amount of time to cook food through pressure cooking is much less, and because they actually cook food at relatively low temperatures compared to most methods.
  2. It’s Fast. Pressure cooking can cut down cooking time by as much as 70%. While this is great for us and our busy lives, it also helps preserve the rich flavors of the food.
  3. Saves Energy. Cooking with a pressure cooker means less time using appliances, and the convenience of one-pot meals cuts down on the number of appliances or boiling pots that are needed.



Instant Pot Chicken Salad

So now that you’re sold on the Instant Pot, lets talk food. As I said, my Instant Pot(s) is my go-to for almost everything (except ice cream). This recipe uses the Instant Pot to cook the chicken to absolute perfection, but if you’re still not ready to try this magical vessel, then I’m sure you could use another method to cook he chicken. Just don’t come complaining to me if it’s less than amazing. Anyhoo, the Instant Pot makes cooking the chicken super-easy, and then after that you simple shred and mix and voila! I like to eat this chicken salad with my Spinach-Avocado-Herb Dip, sometimes in a wrap, and sometimes over greens.

Chicken

Dressing

Put your chicken breasts and broth in the Instant Pot and place pressure cook lid on tightly. Make sure valve is set to “sealing”. Press the “Poultry” button, which defaults to 15 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, you can make the dressing by combining all dressing ingredients in a bowl.

Once chicken is done, simply turn valve to “venting” and open lid (you can let the pot release naturally if you like, it will just take a little longer). Remove the chicken breasts and place in a large bowl. Shred using two forks. It should look like this:

Once shredded to desired consistency, toss with the dressing to make sure all the chicken is coated. It’s delicious warm, if you need to eat it right away (like me), or cold after you refrigerate it. Enjoy!

 

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Spinach-Avocado-Herb Dip (Paleo, AIP)

Spinach-Avocado-Herb Dip (Paleo, AIP)

Let’s face it: dips are fun. Who doesn’t love dips? They make food fun, and delicious. The word “dip” might even be the reason you’re reading this post. Dips are so much fun that they even make spinach fun.  It’s true. Take this dip for example. Here I’ve paired spinach with avocados (another fun food, by the way) and added some fresh herbs to create a nutrient-rich, anti-inflammatory, power-packed and superfun dip. Serve this at your next gathering and you can’t go wrong. Unless you go fun-overboard, by dancing the Funky Chicken or something weird like that. Then you’ve taken it too far.

Health Benefits

Avocados are not only delicious, but are also packed with health benefits. Read more about the health benefits of avocados in this blog post. Spinach is one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat, and the great thing about it is its versatility. Raw or cooked, stand alone or in a pesto, spinach makes for some very yummy and creative dishes. Eat more spinach. Here are a few of the health benefits of spinach to get you going:

  • anti-inflammatory
  • high in anti-oxidants
  • cancer-fighting
  • immunity-boosting
  • detoxifying
  • heart healthy
  • promotes bone health
  • high in vitamins and minerals, including magnesium

Spinach-Avocado-Herb Dip

We’ve been really into avocados lately, and have been big fans of spinach and fresh herbs for years. Smoothies, salads, dips and casseroles, no green dish is safe from us. With my renewed love of avocados, I have found that combining this superfruit with a superveggie like spinach is a match made in heaven. They are delicious together, and your body feels good eating them. Pay attention when you eat this dip – notice how your body responds. For this dip, I used a little fresh cilantro and basil for additional health benefit and of course flavor. And to me, no dip is complete without garlic. Enjoy this over chicken or hamburger, with plantain chips, or in a grain-free tortilla, the options are endless!

Ingredients

  • 6c raw organic spinach, washed
  • 2 organic hass avocados
  • 1c organic basil, washed
  • 1c organic cilantro, washed
  • 1/4 organic yellow onion, rough chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2T olive oil
  • juice of 1 organic lemon
  • 1/2tsp Himalayan sea salt

Directions

Throw all ingredients except olive oil into food processor and process. Drizzle olive oil into processor while its running. Process until creamy and smooth. Eat immediately or store in fridge for up to two days.

And don’t forget: eat more spinach!