Crunchy Black Sesame Chocolate or Carob Bark (sugar free, nut free, dairy free, gluten free)

20140223-111913.jpg

My kids and I love this! I keep it in a container in the freezer and I don’t feel bad when we reach for a chocolatey (or caroby in our case) sweet snack, because not only are these high in protein and calcium from the black sesame tahini, but they are also sugar-free! My daughter and I especially struggle with yeast overgrowth/candida issues, so limiting sugar–even “natural” kinds–is very important for us. Plus, who needs more sugar in their diet? Certainly no one I know…

Hope you enjoy this crunchy bark as much as we do!

Crunchy Black Sesame Chocolate or Carob Bark
(Sugar free, dairy free, nut free, gluten free)

1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil

1/2 cup black sesame tahini (I just bought this big tub from Amazon for a better deal than buying the smaller jars)

1/3 cup carob/cocoa/cacao powder

1 tsp–1 Tbs vanilla, depending on preference

1 1/4 tsp liquid stevia (I still use this, although it used to be a better deal!)

Options:

For a mint chocolate variation, add in a few drops of peppermint extract.

For an orange flavored chocolate bark, add in a few drops of orange extract.

For lavender chocolate, add in a few drops of food-grade lavender oil or extract.

You get the picture :).

20140223-111205.jpg

Additions:

Roasted, salted pumpkin seeds

Puffed crispy rice cereal

Apricot-ginger coconut crisps (see recipe here)

Directions:

In a double-boiler over low heat, melt coconut oil. Turn off heat. Then add stevia and vanilla and mix. Next, add tahini and stir well. Lastly, add in powdered chocolate or carob and stir to combine all ingredients smoothly.

20140223-111548.jpg

The next step is variable. I spread a piece of wax paper over a cookie sheet and sprinkle my additions in thirds over the whole thing. Then I pour out my chocolate/carob mixture and gently shake the tray to incorporate the additions and spread the sauce out evenly. This is not rocket science, so feel free to use a spoon or your hands to add in all the additions!

Place tray in freezer to harden the bark. This may take as little as an hour; just make sure it’s completely solidified. Then break up into pieces and store in a covered container in your freezer. Yummy!

Another option is to add your additions to mini muffin cups set in a mini muffin tray, and pour the mixture over them to fill the cups. Freeze until hard (this will take longer than the bark, obviously). Now you have mini chocolate bark cups! The nice thing about these is they are easy to put into school lunches –I give one each to my children as a treat in their lunch–and they are a potent dose of chocolate/carob bark heaven! The only thing is they tend to melt if not kept cold, so keep that in mind.

20140223-112507.jpg

*Also, if none of my additions sound good to you, add in your own! Make up new flavor combinations and textural additions that suit you.

20140223-112101.jpg

Sardine Salad~My Daughter’s Favorite!

20140222-212732.jpg

This is my four year old daughter’s favorite salad! She asked for this last night as I was making dinner and slicing red bell pepper strips, and I thought, if she’s asking for sardines and a salad with raw veggies–who am I to deny her?! So I whipped it up and she oohed and awed the entire time she was eating it. This made me very happy, as my foods lately have been meeting up with picky children who don’t like what I’ve made–especially when I’ve spent lots of time and energy on making it!

This salad is so easy to make, and so open to variation, it’s like a breath of fresh air after all those kitchen semi-failures (semi- because I end up eating it all!). Add any veggies you have on hand, chopped small, and even your favorite dressing (I will include my daughter’s favorite vinaigrette). This is great as a lunch or light dinner, to take on a picnic–just make the salad and bring along a can of sardines to keep it super fresh, or even as a healthy snack to get a boost of veggies and healthy protein. Heck, you can even have it for breakfast if you’re like me and like something a little more savory in the morning (though I do prefer warm things first-thing).

Sardine Salad

1 can of wild-caught sardines in olive oil (my favorite is Matiz Gallego from Spain), broken up into pieces with a fork (I just break it up in the bowl with veggies)

1/2 to 1 red bell pepper, chopped small

1 or 2 celery sticks, chopped

A handful of chopped carrots

1 small cucumber, chopped

Several leaves of crunchy romaine lettuce, chopped up small
and/or
A handful of baby mixed greens

A small handful each of cilantro and Italian parsley, chopped small (if you have it)

Any other veggies you’d like, chopped small!

Put everything in a large bowl and toss with your favorite dressing or the vinaigrette that follows. (Don’t forget to use the olive oil from the sardines as well–just pour it over!)

Optional toppings to sprinkle on: some crispy pepitas=pumpkin seeds, some goat cheese or feta or chunked cheese of choice, half an avocado diced, a small handful of dried cranberries (try to find fruit juice sweetened instead of sugar) or raisins, sesame seeds, torn up nori (seaweed) pieces, chopped olives, raw sauerkraut or lacto-fermented veggies, a sprinkling of nutritional yeast, etc.

Sophie’s Vinaigrette

1 part raw apple cider vinegar

2 parts olive oil

A bit of sweetener, such as 1 teaspoon raw honey or 10 drops of liquid stevia (this is what I use), to taste.

Herb/spice combination–this can be virtually any spices you like or as simple as salt and pepper. I just sort of shake in a bunch of spices, including coriander, turmeric (gives it a yellow color), dulse (seaweed) flakes, thyme, basil, oregano, dill, etc.

Also, feel free to squeeze the juice from half a lemon over the whole thing for added benefit.

20140222-212940.jpg