Sunday, May 26, 2013

Raw Chocolate Nut Butter Cups

The combination of chocolate and peanut butter has always been one of my all time favorites.  If you were to put a Reese's peanut butter cup in front of my face as a kid, I would have shoved that thing down my gullet in 2.5 seconds. Now I have a bit more restraint, and my tastes have become a bit more refined but I'm still a sucker for anything involving chocolate and peanut butter (or any other nut butter for that matter).

It's been years since I've reached for a Reese's. Instead I would attempt to satisfy my chocolate/peanut butter cravings by eating a spoonful of PB sprinkled with dark chocolate chips.  Not exactly fancy, but it did the trick.  Over the years I've seen peanut butter cup recipes all over the internet. Some called for dark chocolate, which we all know is better than milk chocolate. Many called for the use of almond butter, again a bit healthier than peanuts, but when it came down to it every recipe I came across was still packed with sugar. Not that I have a problem with it, but sometimes I want something that I can indulge in that isn't sickeningly sweet.

I knew I hit the jackpot when I came across a recipe for raw superfood nut butter cups over at My New Roots.  The chocolate base is made with raw cacao powder, coconut oil, cacao butter, raw honey and maca and the nut butter filling contained almond butter and a little more raw honey. That's it!  No high fructose corn syrup, milk or any natural and artificial flavors that you would find in a Reese's. 

Superfood Nut Butter Cups
Adapted from My New Roots
(makes 9 standard sized cups)

1/2 c. melted coconut oil
3 T. cacao butter
3/4 c. raw cacao powder
1/3 c. raw honey
2 T. maca
1/4 t. sea salt

1/2 c. almond butter (or peanut butter... I used 1/4 c. of each)
2 T. raw honey
1/8 t. sea salt

Flaky salt (such as maldon or fleur de sel)

In a double boiler (or a glass bowl set over a pot of simmering water) melt the cacao butter and coconut oil. Add honey and whisk to combine. When completely uniform, remove from the heat and sift in the cacao powder, maca and sea salt.

Line a muffin tin with paper muffin cups. Spoon enough liquid chocolate to cover the bottom, the amount is up to you, but keep in mind you should only be using 1/3 of the chocolate at this point.  Place the muffin pan in the fridge or freezer to set for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix together the almond butter, honey and sea salt until "dough" is formed. If it's too runny, try adding a bit more honey or a bit of maca.  Place in the fridge for 10 minutes to help it firm up a bit.

When the chocolate is set, roll a small amount of nut butter dough (about 1/2 T.) into a ball and flatten into a small disc with the palm of your hands, to just under the size of the chocolate in the cups. Place on top of the hardened chocolate and drizzle the remaining liquid chocolate on top. Sprinkle with a bit of flaky salt, if desired and return to the fridge for at least an hour to set up.

Store in the fridge and try not to eat the entire batch in 2.5 seconds.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Asian Forbidden Rice Salad

Forbidden rice. Not only does this delicious rice have a cool name, the fact that it's black makes it even more awesome.  Forbidden rice is a strain of Chinese black rice that is considered to be both a food and medicine in China.  It received it's name (also known as imperial rice) due to the fact that it's was eaten only by royalty (thereby being "forbidden" to the common people) during the time of the Qing dyansty.

When you buy this heriloom rice in the store it looks black, but as you cook it, it turns a deep purple, which comes from the high anthocyanin content.  Anthocyanins are what give fruits, vegetables, and flowers their color. They are part of the flavanoid family and help protect against cancer, inflammation and help protect the nervous system from degeneration.  It is high in fiber, iron, vitamin E and has more anthocyanins that blueberries!

You can serve forbidden rice as you would any type of rice although I think it's best when served alongside some steamed or sauteed vegetables or as a base for a salad. The rice has a tendency to stain the other ingredients when it's hot so I make sure the rice is cool and will add any other components at the last minute to keep it looking vibrant and fresh.  Since this variety of rice originated in China, I decided to play around with some Asian inspired ingredients to make a healthy, protein packed salad with tofu, edamame, and lots of fresh herbs with a tangy ginger-sesame dressing.

Asian Forbidden Rice Salad
(serves 2-4)

1 c. uncooked forbidden rice
1 c. edamame
1/3 c. scallions, sliced
3/4 c. cilantro, stems removed
1 T. unhulled sesame seeds

8 oz. tofu, cut into 1" cubes
1/4 c. wheat free tamari
2 T. rice vinegar
2 t. mirin (Japanese rice wine)
2 cloves garlic, grated
2 t. fresh grated ginger
1 T. toasted sesame oil

2 T. peanut oil

Ginger-Sesame Dressing:
3 T. wheat free tamari
1 1/2 T. rice vinegar
1 1/2 T. toasted sesame oil
2 t. grated ginger
1/4 t. cayenne (more or less depending on how spicy you like it)

Bring two cups of water to a boil.  Add the rice, cover with lid, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until all of the water is absorbed, about 30 minutes.  When the rice is done, let sit covered for ten minutes, then transfer to a large bowl to cool.
Meanwhile, while the rice is cooking, prepare the tofu.  Place the tamari, rice vinegar, mirin, garlic, giner and sesame oil in a large bowl.  Add the tofu to the bowl and gently toss with a spoon to fully coat tofu.  Let marinade for at least an hour, stirring occasionally.  Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the tofu and let it cook for a couple minutes on each side until lightly browned.  Transfer to a plate to cool.
Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil.  Add your edamame and cook for a couple of minutes.  Drain and set aside to cool.
In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing.
When the rice is cool, add the dressing and gently fold in the edamame, scallions, cilantro and tofu and garnish with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.