Guilt-Free Chocolate Banana Avocado Cookies

Apologies, these cookies photograph like moose poop, but I promise they are amazing!FullSizeRender.jpg

I have a dangerous sweet tooth, especially for chocolate, and sometimes my go-to tricks to suppress my cravings just don’t work. It’s moments like these that I find it necessary to have two foods on hand, an avocado and a banana, so that I can quickly whip up a guilt-free dessert. I have another two desserts I love, my raw chocolate mousse and ,  that can be made with avocado and banana instead of using ingredients like sugar, milk or butter. The other thing I love about my raw chocolate mousse and these delicious chocolate cookies is that they take less that 15 minutes to make. Can’t beat that.

So these cookies were my first attempt. They came out delicious, but a little thin and gooey. Didn’t bother me one bit, but if you’re a burnt cookie lover, then maybe try baking yours longer than 12 minutes. These would actually pair incredibly well with vanilla ice cream, but since we’re being healthy, maybe make some banana ice cream instead or pour some almond milk over the cookies and eat with berries, or just enjoy the cookies on their own… you decide 🙂

Ingredients

-1 banana

-1 ripe avocado (but not brown on the inside)

-1 egg

-1/2 cup dark cacao powder

-1 scoop peanut butter (optional- I used Earth Balance peanut butter with coconut oil)

-1/2 teaspoon baking soda

-dark chocolate chips to taste

 

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Start by placing banana chunks and the avocado flesh in a food processor and mix. Next add the egg, baking soda, peanut butter (optional), and cacao powder. Continue to mix.
  3. Toss in some chocolate chips (also optional). Scoop the mix into balls and place on a lightly greased baking sheet.
  4. Bake in the oven for about 12 minutes, or until the cookies are firm.

 

I adapted this recipe from Paleo Leap and made it my own.  I hope you enjoy!

 

8 Tips to Help Yourself Eat Better During the Week

We are busy people and not enough of us make the time to take care of our health. Eating well is much easier when we plan ahead, and even easier when we get other people involved.  When we designate one day for food prep, we allow ourselves more time during the week to rest, relax, and enjoy our pre-prepped food.  I recommend Sunday as the day for cooking and preparation.  This way, when our lives our full of stress and things to do, we have pre-prepped meals to look forward to.

Top tips for eating better during the week:

1. Make a batch of your favorite whole grains 

Whole grains can be very versatile.  I love to cook a big thing of rice or quinoa that’ll last me through the week. For breakfast I personally love putting eggs over rice with avocado and hot sauce, and then for other meals top the rice with vegetables or other forms of protein.  Fried rice is an easy enough recipe that’s always a favorite.  For more information and a list of all whole grains, click here.

2. Designate one day for prepping

As mentioned above, one of the most useful tips I have is to prep ahead of time. On your designated prep day, slice all your veggies, cook your whole grains, and soak your beans.  This saves time and makes eating healthy more realistic.

3.  Cook once, eat twice (or more!)

Prepare enough food while cooking to have leftovers.  Take advantage of the time you have to cook, because it can be hard to guarantee you’ll have time or even want to cook the rest of the week.

4. Keep a food journal

It’s easy to forget the meals we eat.  If your goal is to lose weight or discover what foods work best for your body, I always advise my clients to keep a food journal. Keeping a food journal not only helps us track what we eat eat and our portion sizes, but we can note things we are feeling emotionally or physically when we eat or after we eat. Identifying our emotions or even things we are feeling physically from eating helps us pinpoint food intolerances or allergies, and can even answer questions about other physical ailments.

From my own experience, it wasn’t until I started noting how I felt physically and emotionally after I ate processed foods and sugar that I was able to solve feelings of anxiety and depression. I realized those foods made me physically sick to my stomach, and I was also experiencing high levels of serotonin while eating the food, and suffering from low dopamine levels after the sugar high wore off.  Most of us probably aren’t conscious of these things as we’re eating and going about our lives, but once we stop and think about it, we may discover things we didn’t realize about our bodies.

6. Cook at home

I love going out to eat.  It’s convenient, there are lots of options, and the food tastes pretty good, but why not save some money and calories by cooking yourself?  When we eat out, there’s no way of controlling what exactly goes into our food.  I enjoy cooking because I know exactly where my food comes from, I have control over what I put in my food, and I get to pick what I want to eat.  Aim to eat at least two homemade meals a day, then work toward three meals at home a day.

7. Plan your meals

It’s much easier to eat well during the week if we take some time to plan meals ahead of time.  Make a grocery list and write out what you plan to eat every day. There’s no need to get fancy.  If you like having oatmeal for breakfast every morning and vegetable stir fry for dinner, then go for it!

8. Add in vegetables, nuts, legumes, fruit, and whole grains

By adding in more vegetables, nuts, legumes, fruit, and whole grains to our diet, we can naturally crowd out unhealthier foods and prevent unhealthy food cravings.  When we fill up on foods that nourish our body, we become more satisfied quicker, so we’re less likely to go for the desserts or snacks after we eat.

Looking for more tips?  Subscribe to my newsletter!

Pay me a visit at www.jkhealthcoach.com to learn more about how working with a health coach can benefit you and the ones you love!

Get Fat Now!

Fat has been a diet no-no for quite some time, but luckily the fat-free era is finally over.  Research shows that fat is essential for our bodies.  Saturated fat is no longer the problem, but is actually the solution for our bodies to repair cells and for proper hormone function. It’s time to enjoy our egg yolks, our whole fat yogurt, or our chicken breasts, skin on. Think about our ancestors, the hunter-gatherers.  Could they have survived harsh conditions and the time between meals if it wasn’t for fat consumption? Hell no!  Our bodies NEED fat, but fat from the right sources.

The body is made up of 97% saturated and monounsaturated fat, and the remaining 3%  is polyunsaturated fat. That 3% polyunsaturated fat is half omega-3 fats and half omega-6 fats.  It’s important for our bodies to have balanced levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fats, 1:1.  Without this equal balance, too much omega-6 causes inflammation, while omega-3 is neutral.  A diet high in omega-3 fat and low in omega-6 fat is ok thought, because the omega-3 fats will reduce inflammation.

Vegetable oils are a main source of omega-6 in the modern diet.  Some of these oils high in omega-6 include: safflower oil, corn oil, sunflower, soybean, cotton oil.

Fatty fish oil, quality extra-virgin olive oils, coconut oil, or quality butter are all examples of omega-3 fats (yay, butter!).  Omega-3 fats are also vital for the following health benefits:

  • Reducing the risk of heart disease and causes of death associated with heart disease
  • Reducing severity of symptoms associated with diabetes
  • Reducing pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis
  • Reducing risk of osteoporosis and bone loss
  • Improving health and reducing symptoms for those with autoimmune disease
  • Helping those with anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder
  • Reducing risk of various types of cancers
  • Improving cognitive function

(Sources: Wellness Mama)

My favorite ways to incorporate healthy fats into my diet:

1.  Eat fat for breakfast, especially before and after a workout.  Below is a favorite, quick breakfast of mine full of omega-3s.  2% Greek yogurt, berries and bananas, topped with protein-packed hemp seeds, and omega-3 sources, flax seeds and chia seeds.

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2. Invest in quality extra virgin olive oil (preferably pressed somewhere local to you), organic coconut oil, and grass-fed butter.  These products can be a little more expensive, but you’ll use them all the time and you won’t need to feel guilty about using the butter.  You can even save money by switching your beauty and home care products to olive oil and coconut oil.

4. If you’re a coffee drinker, add a tablespoon of organic coconut butter to your morning coffee or try Bulletproof coffee.

5. Some of my favorite sources of omega-3s: avocado, salmon, almond butter, eggs, grass-fed meats, extra virgin olive oil, butter, chia seeds, flax seeds, Brussel sprouts, and shrimp.

If you’re having trouble losing weight, suffering from exhaustion or stress, try adding more healthy fats to your diet.

All Hail Kale

kale-heartProbably five years ago or so, I don’t believe I had ever heard of kale.  It seems like the green, leafy vegetable blew up to celebrity status overnight, suddenly becoming the most talked about superfood.  This vegetable has become one of my personal favorites and with any vegetable, if you know how to prepare it right, it can be delicious.

Buying vegetables, whether it’s kale or other green vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, spinach, etc, is cost effective and leaves less of a carbon footprint.  While animal agriculture has many implications like land degradation and reduction of biodiversity, vegetables have a very low environmental impact and be grown in most climates.

Kale, because of it’s high nutrient value, is a good option to replace our society’s high meat consumption.  I’m not saying cut meat out entirely, but I think people can certainly add in more vegetables to crowd out large portions of meat.  Everybody’s body is different, but vegetables are an important part of our diet, and lots of us don’t get the correct amount of vegetable servings in our diet.  Here are some reasons kale is one of my favorite vegetables:skinny-bitch3

Anti- Inflammatory

Dark leafy greens are an important source in reducing inflammation in the body.  Vitamin A, selenium, and beta-cryptoxanthin are some of the few anti-inflammatory agents found in vegetables.

Fiber

Our ancestors had way more fiber in their diets than we do today.  Fruits and vegetables are a fantastic source of fiber, especially kale, broccoli, carrots, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and avocado.  Fiber maintains bowel regularity and prevents the risk of health problems.

Iron 

Some people believe that it’s difficult to get healthy amounts of iron in our diet if a person doesn’t eat meat.  This simply isn’t true.  In actuality, some vegetables contain higher levels of iron than animals foods, especially vegetables like Swiss chard, soybeans, lentils, spinach, and turnip greens.

Calcium

Milk is believed by many to be the greatest source of calcium, however, vegetables have high calcium amounts that’ll keep our bodies strong.  That being said, don’t rely solely on vegetables as a source of calcium, because it’s harder for our bodies to absorb calcium from vegetables.  Kale, collards, cabbage, arugula, and bok choy are some examples of vegetables containing lots of calcium.

Healthy Fats

As I’ve written about before, getting healthy fats in our diet is very important, and there is a distinction between good and bad fat.  Omega fatty acids are necessary to our diet.  Lots of people take fish oil capsules, but kale actually contains both omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids.

Making Sense of Meat Labels

I am a proud meat eater, but I am also a big believer in raising and killing animals as humanely as possible.  Sometimes it’s hard to know exactly what I’m buying though, because there are all sorts of different labels, and some are misleading.  I’d like to help you all make sense of what you’re buying, so that you know exactly what you’re paying for.

Organic

Meat, dairy, poultry, and eggs labeled “organic” by the USDA come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones.

Why buy organic meat?  Because animals raised commercially in factory farms suffer.  Chickens raised commercially, for example, are crammed in small cages and fed hormones, steroids, and antibiotics, none of which I would ever want in my body!  Commercial chickens also contain traces of cancer-causing arsenic, which is completed approved by our government.  Don’t believe me?  Click Here.  So even though organic meat is more expensive, just think of the purchase as an investment in your long-term health.  Another reason to buy organic is also it tastes better!  Try it for yourself.  When animals are raised well I bet you’ll taste the difference.

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Natural

Beware, “natural” does not mean organic.  Only foods labeled “organic” meet the USDA’s organic standards.

Free Range

Animals living “free range” are raised in an open air or free-roaming environment, however, only poultry labeled “free range” meet the USDA’s standards of “free range,” not eggs.  For poultry, the animals are required by the government to have outdoor access for “an undetermined period each day.”  No other meat labeled “free range” have actually been regulated by the USDA or any other governing agency.  If you wish to determine whether your meat is free range, the best thing to do is contact the individual manufacturer.

Grass-Fed

“Grass-fed” cattle, bison, goats and sheep have eaten nothing but their mother’s milk and fresh grass or grass-type hay from birth, according to the American Grassfed Association.  Only if poultry and pigs have had grass as a large part of their diets are they considered “grass-fed.”  The USDA currently is reviewing its guidelines on grass-fed marketing claims.

Marine Stewardship Council

This independent global nonprofit council promotes sustainable fishing practices to “ensure that the catch of marine resources are at the level compatible with long-term sustainable yield, while maintaining the marine environment’s bio-diversity, productivity and ecological processes.”

Shepard’s Pie

Shepard’s Pie is such a comforting winter dish and makes for great leftovers.  It’ a classic, traditional recipe, although this was my first time trying the dish with lamb and not beef.  The meat and vegetables were so satisfying and flavorful on their own that I can even recommend this dish sans potatoes.

Some of the equipment you’ll need you should already have stocked in your kitchen, and if not, consider buying the following things:

Mixing bowls            Potato masher or food mill          Large ovenproof casserole dish

Cutting board           Large pot                                          Spatula

Kinfe                           Saute pan                                         Microplane or other zester

For the filling:

-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

-1 Spanish onion, diced

-2 stalks celery, small diced

-3 cloves garlic, minced

-1 whole celery root, peeled and medium diced

-1 lb ground lamb

-2 tbsp tomato paste

-1/2 cup red wine

-2 tbsp fresh mined rosemary

-2 sprigs thyme, leaves only, minced

-1 tsp whole mustard seed

-1 tsp coriander seed

-2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

-2 tbsp chopped fresh mint

For the mashed potatoes:

-2 lbs. yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered

-3 tbsp kosher salt

-2 bay leaves

-1 dried chili pepper

-2 tbsp unsalted butter

-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

-1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese

-2 tbsp grated horseradish, preferably fresh

-zest of 1 lemon

-salt and pepper

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Peel potatoes and cut them into quarters.  In a large pot, add chilies, bay leaves, salt, and potatoes.  Add enough water to fully cover the potatoes and cover the pot.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer with the lid removed for about 20 minutes, or until cooked all the way through.  Strain and discard bay leaves and chilies.

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Place cubed potatoes in pot with chilies, salt, and bay leaves. Add enough cold water to cover all the potatoes.

2. Prepare onion, carrots, celery, celery root, rosemary, thyme, and garlic.  Place all diced vegetables and herbs in a dish, leaving garlic on the side.

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Cut both the carrots and celery into thirds first

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Dice carrots

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Peel the celery root

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Medium dice the celery root spears

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Diced carrots, diced celery, diced onion, diced celery root. Leave garlic on the side, since that’ll be the last thing to go into the pan with the meat.

3.  In a saute pan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the lamb and brown.  Add mustard seed and coriander seed.  Add onions, carrots, celery, celery root, rosemary, thyme, and combine with a spatula.

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4.  When vegetables have cooked slightly, add garlic and tomato paste and mix.  Add red wine.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes until everything is cooked through, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.

5. After potatoes have cooked and drained, use a masher or food mill to mash potatoes.  Add butter, lemon zest, olive oil, and horseradish.  Add grated cheddar cheese.  Transfer lamb mixture to a deep ovenproof baking dish and spread evenly.  Adjust seasoning.  Spread a layer of potatoes over the lamb mixture and run a fork over the top, creating ridges.  Bake until potatoes are golden and the lamb is hot, about 15-20 minutes.

6.  While the dish is baking, prepare the mint and parsley to garnish.  When potatoes are done, remove and sprinkle the mint and parsley over the potatoes.  Drizzle some olive oil and serve!

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