natural sweeteners

Guilt-Free Holiday Thumbprint Cookies

'Tis the season for all the indulgent (and healthy) things! 

Yes, this time of year we are presented with treats everywhere we go, but I like to always find a way to bring in some nourishment into the mix. For me, it starts with completely erasing the story of healthy needing to be boring and indulgent needing to be 'bad for you.'

The quality of ingredients is key when making anything healthy yet still indulgent. When we use organic and unrefined ingredients, our body actually knows how to process them and there is no inflammation or sluggishness involved. You truly can have your cake and eat it too. 

I've been making these cookies for the past month for clients, friends, and events. They're a hit and super easy to make. Give them a try at your holiday gatherings coming up. 

Ingredients

Oat cookie base:

2 cups oat flour (blend gluten-free oats to make flour)

¼ cup coconut flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

⅓ cup coconut palm sugar

⅛ teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 organic egg

⅓ cup melted coconut oil

2-3 Tablespoons water or almond milk, as needed

 

Fruit Jam Filling:

1 pound fresh cranberries (or fruit of choice)

3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup

Juice of 1 lemon

 

Melted organic dark chocolate to drizzle over baked cookies. Get some superfood chocolate here or make your own

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

  2. To make cookie base: In a small bowl, mix flours, baking soda, coconut sugar, and sea salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together coconut oil, egg water or almond milk, and vanilla. Add dry mixture to wet mixture and whisk to combine well. Add enough liquid until dough comes together. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and flatten out slightly on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Use finger to make a dent in the middle of the cookie.

  3. To make jam: Place cranberries in a medium saucepan along with maple syrup and lemon juice. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, until cranberries start popping and become soft like a puree. Taste and adjust flavor to your liking.

  4. Add fruit jam to center of cookies. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until bottom of cookies is lightly browned.

  5. Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Place cookies on a parchment lined flat surface such as a cutting board or baking sheet. Drizzle with melted chocolate as much as you want. Place in refrigerator for a few minutes, until chocolate is firm. Remove from fridge and enjoy. Note: If you want to eat them while still warm, skip putting them in the fridge and enjoy with the chocolate melted over cookies. 

Makes ~20 cookies

 

 

 

Best Ever Apple Pie

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What makes this apple pie the best ever is the love and quality ingredients that went into it. My lovely friend Julia from Dessert Medicine was visiting and we got busy in the kitchen. 

It's a wonderful experience to share space in the kitchen with someone and let each others intuitive powers flow and blend together. 

We had an abundance of apples and a vision of an apple pie a few days prior to making this, and without rules, recipes, or expectations, we joined to execute the most amazing pie I've ever created. Julia made the crust and I made the filling. Together we made magic! 

I invite you to play in the kitchen with friends, lovers, and family. You too can create something delicious, wether you're a self-proclaimed chef or not. All you need is some inspiration, a few ingredients, and some good intentions. 

Ingredients

Crust:

2 cups gluten-free oats

1 cup almonds

2 Tablespoons flax seeds or chia seeds, plus 1/4 cup water

2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 Tablespoon lucuma powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon each ginger, nutmeg, cardamom

1/4 teaspoon himalayan salt

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

 

Apple Filling:

5 apples, sliced

¼ cup coconut palm sugar

3 Tablespoons melted coconut oil

2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup

2 Tablespoons lucuma powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon cardamom

½ teaspoon reishi powder

Pinch of nutmeg

Pinch of sea salt

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. 

To make crust:

  1. Grind flax or chia in a spice grinder, to make a powder and mix with water to make a gel.
  2. Blend oats and almonds in a high power blender, into a flour. 
  3. Melt down coconut oil, if not already liquid.
  4. Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl and mix by hand.
  5. Press crust mixture into a pie dish, evenly pinching the sides and set aside.

To make apple filling:

  1. Combine all filling ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust flavor/sweetness to your preference.
  2. Pour over crust and spread out evenly in pie pan.
  3. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until crust is slightly browned and apples are cooked through and soft. 

Serve with ice cream. We served it with a homemade Honey Lavender Coconut Ice Cream that I had in my freezer (recipe coming soon!). 

Chocolate Dipped Persimmon Bars

If you haven't noticed by now, dessert is one of my favorite things to make (and perhaps eat). I love creating treats that are indulgent but also provide nourishment and satisfaction. I believe that dessert is one of the best ways to connect with others and build stronger relationships. Because who doesn't love dessert? 

I had the pleasure of spending a day creating treats with my amazing friend, Julia Corbett. She has a beautiful blog where she shares inspiration and recipes for Dessert Medicine (Yes, that exists!).

This recipe was specifically created to share in Dessert Medicine. Julia and I made magic in the kitchen and then played at the park while we enjoyed these delicious bars. Hop on over to her blog to get inspired and see pictures of the process: http://www.dessertmedicine.com/blog/2015/10/30/dessert-maker-giovanna-garcia. I also share how I personally get inspired to create healthy desserts and why I created my superfood chocolate bars.

 Photo by  Julia Corbett

Photo by Julia Corbett

Ingredients

4 Fuyu persimmons, chopped

2 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

3/4 cup Medjool dates, pitted

1/2 cup dried figs

1/3 cup goji berries

1/2 cup gluten-free oats

1/4 cup coconut flour

2 Tablespoons lucuma powder

1 teaspoon he shou wu powder

1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder

Sea salt, to taste

4 Superfood chocolate bars, melted

 

Procedure

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. 

2. Place chopped persimmons in a baking dish and toss with coconut oil, cinnamon, cardamom, and a pinch of sea salt. Bake for 10-20 minutes, until soft. 

3. In a food processor, combine baked persimmons along with remaining ingredients (except chocolate). Process until mixture sticks together when pressed with fingers. 

4. Line a dish or baking tin with parchment paper and press mixture down to flatten into desired thickness. Place in the freezer while you melt your chocolate. Melt chocolate on a double boiler. 

5. Remove dish from freezer and cut mixture into bars. Dip each bar into melted chocolate and place on a  parchment-lined plate or baking sheet. Once finished with all bars, place back in freezer until chocolate firms up. 

6. Remove from freezer and enjoy! Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 

Makes ~10 bars

 

Gluten-Free {Kale} Brownies

There's a secret (not so secret) ingredient in these brownies. Yes, kale. And super delicious! 

I took an Ayurveda workshop this weekend, where I learned about my dosha constitution and what foods were suggested to make me feel better, and what foods could cause an imbalance in my body. Surprisingly, kale was on the 'avoid' list because my body prefers sweet, warming foods. Kale is bitter and can be cooling to the body. Nothing wrong with that, just learning that my body wants warmth and grounding. It's important to listen to the cues it gives us. 

I came home from the workshop, I opened my fridge and saw this large bunch of kale sticking out at me. I wanted to find a creative way to use it that might benefit my body more, so I immediately thought of adding it to a dessert, of course. Any excuse to make dessert. I made two desserts yesterday! Nourishing, refined sugar free, and decadent desserts. Mmmm yes, please. 

I had made kale brownies before but didn't write down the recipe, per usual. This recipe was a completely new - made up by my intuition and the little baking knowledge I have. I'm not a master baker (yet), but these brownies are winners!

Enjoy. 

Ingredients

4 large kale leaves, stems removed

2 large organic eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla 

1/2 cup spring or filtered water

1/2 cup melted coconut oil

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

3/4 cup gluten-free flour (I used a blend of buckwheat and brown rice flours)

3/4 cup raw cacao powder

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Place first six ingredients in blender or mixer and blend until smooth. 
  3. Transfer to a bowl and whisk in remaining ingredients. 
  4. Line an 8 x 8 baking dish with parchment paper or grease with coconut oil/organic butter. 
  5. Pour mixture into dish and bake for 20-30 minutes, checking at 20 minutes. Brownies are ready when toothpick comes out clean after inserting into middle of dish.
  6. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting into squares. You may also leave it whole and slice like a cake. Sprinkle with shredded or cacao powder to decorate. 

 

Matcha Mint Acai Bowl

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I'm sure you've all seen the beautiful acai bowls popping up at your local shops. I think it's great that we have easier access to these superfoods such as acai and matcha now, which do not originate in our country but are packed with incredible nutrients that support longevity and overall wellbeing. Did you know that both of these foods are two of the top foods highest in antioxidants? Antioxidants are essential vitamins that help our bodies kill off and prevent free radicals, which form in result to cell damage due to acidity in the body from high levels of stress (physical/emotional/mental), highly refined sugars and processed food intake, smoking and alcohol, and environmental toxins. An excessive amount of free radicals in the body leads to disease, illness, and aging at early stages. As an added bonus, antioxidants support beauty and skin health.

That said, let's get some antioxidants in you!

In my opinion, the best part of having access to these wonderful foods is that we can recreate our own goodies with even higher nutrient value and unrefined ingredients at home.

Below I'm sharing one of the many acai bowls I've created. I intentionally added the matcha to this one, not only for it's antioxidant content, but for a nourishing afternoon energy boost that won't spike blood sugar.

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MatchaAcaiBowl

Ingredients

1 frozen acai pack (I use Sambazon)

2 cups frozen wild blueberries

1 yellow peach, pitted and chopped

1/2 cup spring or filtered water - just enough to help blend but not too much so it doesn't thin out

2 Tablespoons sunflower seed butter (or any nut/seed butter of choice)

1 Tablespoon raw honey (or 1-2 medjool dates)

2 teaspoons Encha Matcha Culinary Grade - Amazing quality!

Generous handful of fresh mint leaves

Juice of 1 lime

Pinch of sea salt

Procedure

  1. Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. You may need to use a spatula to move things around a few times. It's meant to be a thick sorbet-like consistency.
  2. Top with toppings of choice. I topped mine with some homemade gluten-free granola and fresh blueberries.

Serves 1-2

I hope you enjoy this recipe and share with me what variation you come up with!

xx,

Giovanna

Citrus Cream Tarts

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Taking advantage of the wonderful citrus season to make all creations possible. These little tarts are simple and sweet. I know you'll enjoy them.

Ingredients

Crust

½ cup raw sunflower seeds

15 soft medjool dates

½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon sea salt

Citrus Cream

1 cup coconut cream

1 Tablespoon coconut nectar

½ teaspoon vanilla

¼ teaspoon sea salt

Zest of ½ lemon

Zest of ½ orange

Juice of ½-1 lemon

Procedure

1. To make crust: Place all crust ingredients in a food processor and process until mixture holds together when pressed with fingers. Line a small pie pan or 3-individual size pie pans with parchment paper and press mixture into bottom and sides of pan. Place in the refrigerator while you make filling.

2. To make filling: Place all citrus cream ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust sweetness if needed. Pour cream over crust and place in freezer for about 30-45 minutes, until filling has set.

3. Once tart cream has set, garnish with desired toppings and slice to serve.

Beautiful pictures by Micaela Hoo.

The Easiest Green Drink

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Some days there seems to be no time to even blend something for breakfast and take it on the go. On those days, I like to make something that only takes less than a minute, yet is filled with vitamins and minerals. Vitamineral Green is a powdered blend of green superfoods to enhance detox, support the immune system, balance blood sugar, rejuvenation, aid organ function, and support longevity. I simply mix this magical supplement with a few magical ingredients in a jar of spring water to get a healthy start. BCFebPhoto16

Ingredients:
2 cups water
1 Tablespoon of Vitamineral Green
Splash of lemon juice
2-3 drops of Vanilla Stevia
 
Get going on a good, green note! 

Captures of Valentine’s Day Chocolate Making Workshop

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There’s no such thing as getting your hands dirty when it comes to chocolate. But if there were, I guess you could say that’s how we spent our Valentine’s Day. At the Chocolate Making Workshop we made rose and fig truffles, chai spiced chocolate mousse, and dark chocolate bark. Everyone got to build their own dark chocolate bark with nuts, seeds, fruit, and superfood powders. There was a lot of love in the air (and in the chocolate) on Saturday! We’re grateful for everyone’s great energy and company.

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Caramel Apple Smoothie

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Ah, I love thriving off whole foods! Don't you? The best thing about eating unrefined whole foods is creating your favorite flavors without harming your health, and instead, providing a nutrient-rich and tasty experience. It's a win-win if you ask me. I hope you enjoy this guilt-free sweetness! I encourage you to play with the ingredients to adjust flavor to your liking.

Ingredients

1 large apple, cored and chopped

2 cups nut milk of choice

2 Medjool dates, pitted

1 Tablespoon homemade sunflower seed butter (Or almond butter)

1 Tablespoon chia seeds

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon Levity (Red Asparagus Root from Longevity Power), optional but has a caramel-like taste

Pinch of sea salt

CaramelAppleSmoothie

Procedure

  1. Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

Serves 1

 

X,

Giovanna