Show Me the Chocolate Smoothie

Everywhere I turn lately, I feel like I’m being bombarded by sweets, especially chocolate. My little piece of dark chocolate just wasn’t satisfying my craving for something super rich, decadent, and most importantly – filled with chocolate!

Since being healthy is all about finding balance within your life and not depriving yourself, I made myself a super delicious “chocolate milk shake” that’s loaded with good for you foods! I promise you, drinking this shake will make you feel naughty even though you’re being a perfect angel!

Healthy Chocolate SmoothieShow Me the Chocolate Smoothie

Makes 2 servings

1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews
3/4 cup water (may need more depending on desired consistency)
1 frozen banana (cut up in chunks)
2-4 tablespoons of raw cocoa powder (you can add more or less depending on how chocolately you want this!)
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Omega 3,6,9 with EPA and DHA

Put all ingredients in a blender and voila! You’ve got yourself a chocolate ‘milk shake’ without the milk! Made this way it’s vegan and gluten-free. If you’re feeling spunky, feel free to add peanut butter, top it with some fresh berries, toasted peanuts, or even add some Greek yogurt to make it even more decadent (not for you vegans!) I usually add a 1/2 of an avocado in this to make it even richer, but I’m saving my avocado for some black bean fudge brownies later… oh yes.

beanCelebrating Chocolate

Since we’re about to celebrate the “Day of Love” with chocolate, I wanted to share just how healthy chocolate is for your body – always in moderation of course!

Chocolate comes from the seeds of cocoa trees. Surprisingly, the majority of cocoa trees are harvested in the Ivory Coast even though it was in South America where the cocoa plant gained notoriety by the Spanish. History shows that in Costa Rica Mayan traders drank cacao as early as 400 BC and in the Aztec culture cacao was considered sacred. (I can see why!)

Flash forward to today where chocolate is almost everywhere. However, it’s not the pure chocolate that Mayan traders and Aztecs were consuming. If you’re eating candy bars, you’re eating mainly sugar. For example, a single Twix bar has 20 grams of sugar (the recommended daily intake is 25 grams for women and 37.5 grams for men – which is still A LOT!) By eating these processed varieties of “chocolate” you’re not getting its full benefits! The sugar from these candy bars mainly come from added sugar whereas if you buy a 70% cocoa or higher chocolate bar, you’ll be getting the natural sugar found in the cocoa butter. Yes, it’s still sugar, BUT you’ll be getting the added benefits of this amazing treat.

What Cacao Can Do For You!

darkchocolate1Did you know that raw cacao contains the highest concentration of antioxidants of any food in the world? More than red wine, blueberries, acai, pomegranates, and goji berries? These powerful antioxidants keep you looking young. Chocolate also helps lower blood pressure, LDL cholesterol and lowers your risk for heart disease (see chocolate is the way to a happy heart!)  Due to its fiber rich content, dark chocolate actually fills you up and may even quiet coughs with its powerful ingredient, theobromine. If that’s not enough, chocolate improves blood flow, helping you see  and think better. And finally, what may be the best reason of all to have a nibble on some dark chocolate – it makes you happy!

So the next time you’re in the mood for some chocolate, go for a small portion of raw cacao or a dark chocolate bar (70% or higher) and enjoy a gift from nature.

Happy Heart Day!

‘Bee’ Well,

Melissa

A ‘Creamy’ and Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

quinoa stew

Are you sick of soups yet? Well, I’m not! There’s nothing I love more than a hot bowl of soup on a cold night to warm you up. This soup is creamy, spicy, and healthy. Yes, creamy AND healthy! It’s a combination that you may not believe, but it’s true. Instead of using cream, I just blend it all together which makes it super rich with absolutely no guilt. So you can fill up with that second serving with no worries about fitting into your jeans tomorrow morning.

Because this soup is so creamy, I like to pair it with a crunchy side dish – roasted brussel sprouts with a fresno pepper and a drizzle of honey before serving. Here are some other ideas for other types of side dishes starring brussel sprouts. It’s the perfect pairing that packs an additional punch!

Just a note, when buying sweet potatoes, pay the extra money and buy organic. Sweet potatoes, actually all potatoes, absorb many of the harmful pesticides. Conventional potato farmers have even been quoted as saying they won’t eat the potatoes they grow to sell, only the ones in their separate garden. The Environmental Working Group designated the potato as one of their Dirty Dozen. They’ve found over 37 pesticides on sweet potatoes. If you want to learn more, visit my friend’s website. It’s worth it to spend the few extra dollars to safeguard you and your family’s health!

An Organic ‘Creamy’ and Spicy Sweet Potato SoupSweet and Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 red onion roughly chopped
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove smashed and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 bunch scallions chopped for garnish

Heat a dutch oven and add the coconut oil. Once melted, add the onions and cook until translucent (about 3-5 minutes). Then add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Once you can smell the spices, add the chopped sweet potatoes. Let the sweet potatoes brown a bit over medium high heat for about 5 minutes. Then add enough water to come up to just below the top of the sweet potatoes. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until the sweet potatoes are fork tender. Use an immersion blender until the soup is creamy. You can top with chopped scallions, a drizzle of maple syrup or even goat cheese.

Seriously, this soup is amazing. I amazed myself after marking it and couldn’t wait to share with all of you! oh and guess what, it’s vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free (as long as you don’t add the goat cheese!)

Until next time

‘Bee’ Well,

Melissa

MBeeWell

If you’re interested in learning more about how I can help you in the kitchen, with your health, or in your garden, contact me at info@mbeewell.com.