Recipe: Dairy-free Hot Chocolate ☕

Ready for a treat that won’t take you off track from your new year’s goals? Enter a healthier hot chocolate made with less added sugar, plant-based milk, and with the warm spice of cinnamon.

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission.

Ingredients

1 cup non-dairy milk (we used hazelnut but for extra creamy texture, try coconut milk)

1 tbsp cacao powder

1-2 squares of dark chocolate (85% or 90% cacao content for less added sugar)

1 cinnamon stick

1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

Heat 1 cup of non-dairy milk in a small saucepan. Whisk 1 tbsp of cacao powder in the hot milk and bring it to a boil. Then add vanilla extract and let it simmer for a few minutes on low heat. Pour into a cup and add 1-2 squares of dark chocolate. Stir and enjoy!

Recipe: Brownie Overnight Oats

Dietitian confessions go both ways. While we’re often the ones people ‘confess’ to about eating certain junk foods, we also like to purify our minds and souls by relating our dietary ‘sins’.

You may remember that we have really loved ice cream throughout our lives, even to the point where travels to Italy were less about the architecture and more about finding the perfect gelateria (true story), but we didn’t reveal that we also grew up making (read: eating) brownies. Heaven on a dessert plate would be the two served together – brownie a la mode style. Hell would be making us choose only one to have at our last dessert. Obviously, it would be a real Sophie’s Choice situation.

As we’ve ventured into finding healthier forms of ice cream (done and done), we’ve done the same for brownies (check out our black bean version). But to have brownies for breakfast? Well, that required a little extra dietary finesse…and so we’ve created a decadent, yet healthy, version of eating brownies for the first meal of the day, or even as a snack for when sugar cravings strike. Care to partake? Here’s the recipe:

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Servings: 2

Ingredients

1 cup organic rolled oats

1 banana, mashed

1 cup non-dairy almond or hazelnut milk (DIY almond milk or the ready-made hazelnut version)

3 tbsp cocoa or cacao powder

2 tbsp chopped nuts (e.g. pecan, walnut, macademia) or nut butter

2 tbsp cacao nibs or 85% chocolate chips, optional

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

Stir together rolled oats, cocoa/cacao powder and chia seeds in a mason jar or other container with a lid. Add nuts, nibs/chocolate chips, banana, non-dairy milk, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Seal the lid and shake vigorously for about 15 seconds. Place in fridge overnight. The next morning, top with chocolate chips and/or fresh berries if you’d like. Enjoy!

Warm Breakfast: Great Goji Groatmeal

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For National Hot Tea & Oatmeal Month, we shared the Great Goji Groatmeal breakfast recipe on this recent WBNS 10TV segment with Karina Nova and Ross Caruso. With our weather being perfect (meaning: cold, rainy) for this breakfast, we’re sharing it here with you too!

What is an oat groat? It’s the whole grain form of oatmeal, before it is steel-cut, rolled, or pulverized into an instant oatmeal package. These oat groats are chewy and take some time to cook, which is why we called upon our trusty slow cooker to work the overnight shift.

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Ingredients
2 cups oat groats
2 tablespoons chia seeds (and/or flax seeds)
1/3 cup shredded coconut
3 cups water (we used hot green tea)
3 cups of non-dairy milk (i.e. DIY almond milk)
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 apples, cored and blended
1/8 cup of goji berries (or substitute with raisins)
1/3 cup cacao nibs (optional)

Instructions
Use a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Put oat groats, chia, shredded coconut, water, non-dairy milk, coconut oil, and goji berries (and cacao nibs if desired) inside. Blend cored apple and add to slow cooker. Stir all ingredients and cover, cooking on low for about 8 hours (automatic slow cookers should then switch over to ‘warm’ setting). Stir and serve with additional fruit (i.e. berries), nuts, seeds, or sweetener on top and enjoy a warm belly of food to start your day!

Recipe: The Best French Toast

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The Best French Toast is super-delicious and nutritious. Its list of credentials continues: it’s gluten- and dairy-free as well as vegan! Incredible.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: about 30 minutes total
Serves: 2-4 people

Ingredients

8 pieces of gluten-free bread (we used Canyon Bakehouse)
1 medium banana, mashed
1 1/4 cup almond milk (DIY here)
1/2 tbsp flaxseed
1/2 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup almond meal (this will be used to coat the bread and add texture)

Instructions
Put all ingredients (except bread and almond meal) into a blender and run until well-mixed. Then transfer to shallow bowl. Preheat skillet to medium heat,  using coconut oil to grease the pan. Dip each slice of bread into the batter for about 10 seconds on each side then sprinkle almond meal carefully on each side. Place bread on skillet, cooking until golden brown on underside, about 3-4 minutes. Flip and repeat the process. Lastly, add your desired toppings! We chose blueberries cooked with maple syrup.

Recipe: Spiced Vanilla Chia Pudding

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Oh boy – this is a filling, satisfying treat without tons of calories. What’s more, it’s made with a variety of items that may be found in your pantry or fridge. Get your sweet tooth filled without tons of sugar and experience the health benefits of fiber, omega-3s, blood sugar stabilization, and CHOCOLATE.

Ingredients
2 cups homemade almond milk
6 tablespoons chia seeds
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 heaping tablespoons whole cacao beans or 1/4 cup cacao powder for a smoother finish
1/4 cup fruit (i.e. raspberry, strawberry, and kiwi work well)

Instructions
Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Refrigerate overnight, or until set. Garnish with cinnamon, fruit, cacao beans, and a drizzle of honey if desired.

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Recipe: Cherry Almond Pancakes

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Waking up and enjoying a fresh stack of cherry almond pancakes is both a joyful and nutritious way to start the day. May it be the same for you!

Serves 4 (or two hungry people)
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients
2 cups almond flour
2.5 tbsp coconut oil (1/2 tbsp used in saute pan when cooking pancakes)
1/2 cup almond milk (try DIY almond milk)
4 eggs
1.5 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
6 oz Morello cherries
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts
1/4 cup maple syrup

Instructions
Melt coconut oil in small saucepan (you can use this same pan for the cherry topping) . In a medium bowl combine eggs, almond milk, raw honey, and melted coconut oil. Add almond flour, sea salt, and cinnamon; mix well. Heat saute pan with 1/2 tbsp coconut oil and ladle 1/4 cup pancake batter into pan. When pancake edge brown and/or bubbles form in batter, use spatula to flip over pancake. They are done when cooked thoroughly and browned to your liking.

Between the few minutes of waiting for pancakes to cook, you’ll likely want to start on cherry topping. Add the Morello cherries, pecans or walnuts, and maple syrup to high-speed blender. After blended, heat in saucepan to be ready to serve once pancakes are done.

Consider adding some fresh fruit and more pecans or walnuts as a topping. Bon appetit!

Recipe: DIY Almond Milk

Have you read the ingredients label for almond milk? Eek! It’s not just almonds and water, kids. Take a look at this common, unsweetened version:

Ingredients: almond milk (filtered water, almonds), calcium carbonate, sea salt, potassium citrate, carrageenan, sunflower lecithin, natural flavor, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin d2 and d-alpha-tocopherol (natural vitamin e).

Pshaw. Who needs all those additives? Here’s how to make your own. It’s easy, I swear.

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Yields: half-gallon of almond milk

Ingredients & Equipment
1 cup raw, organic almonds
8 cups of water
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Strainer & cheesecloth
Blender
Optional: pure vanilla extract and/or natural sweeteners like stevia and maple syrup

Instructions

1. Soak almonds in 2 cups of water and salt for at least 3 hours or overnight.
2. Toss in a blender with 8 cups of water and run on high for about a minute, until it’s creamy and frothy.


3. Pour 1 cup of almond mixture through double cheesecloth-lined strainer and then use cheesecloth to squeeze into a large bowl. Repeat until all almond mixture has been transferred to bowl.

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Note: keep the almond ‘pulp’ and use it to make gluten-free almond flour or for smoothies. It would be a shame to throw this out.
4. Optional: for sweetened milk, put liquid back in the blender and add preferred sweetener (above).
5. Pour liquid from bowl into large jug or containers.

Lasts about 6 days in the fridge. Product will naturally separate; just shake it before serving.

Dangers of Dairy

Most have see the “got milk?” campaign and heard the claim “milk does a body good”; the product is promoted for its benefits mainly related to the importance of calcium in the human body. The USDA pyramid calls for everyone over the age of 8 to have 3 cups of dairy per day. What does that translate to in terms of various milk products? From the ChooseMyPlate.gov website it could be “1 cup of milk, yogurt, or soymilk (soy beverage), 1 ½ ounces of natural cheese, or 2 ounces of processed cheese.” Yes, this counts:

photo source:  abcnews.go.com

photo source: abcnews.go.com

That’s ludicous enough, but here’s another fun fact: the US Department of Agriculture has both the duty of supporting agriculture as well as promoting the dietary guidelines telling Americans what to eat. Conflict of interest much? Quite a few nutrition experts we’ve learned from- including Dr. Hyman, Dr. Marion Nestle, and Dr. Walter Willet- suggest that the USDA’s recommendations mainly reflect politics, not science, and that dairy may be nature’s perfect food…

…for a calf.

As for humans, it may be worth exercising caution. Here’s why:

1. Not everyone tolerates lactose well. Many people who experience negative reactions to milk may not be allergic to it (though an intolerance to dairy is possibly) but they may have lactose intolerance, meaning that they aren’t able to digest the milk sugar found in the milk. These undigested sugars often end up causing gas, cramping, bloating, and diarrhea. Unfortunately certain ethnic groups such as Asians, Native Americans, and Africans have a higher rate of lactose intolerance than their Caucasian counterparts.

2. Bone Health? The Harvard Nurses’ Health Study, including more than 75,000 women who were followed for 12 years, found that there was not any protective benefit of increased milk consumption on fracture risk. Surprisingly, the increased intake of calcium from dairy sources was associated with a higher risk. You can decrease your risk for osteoporosis by exercising and increasing calcium intake from plant foods such as leafy green vegetables, beans, tahini as well as calcium-fortified products.

3. Contaminants. Synthetic hormones, such as recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBST), are commonly used in dairy cows to increase milk production. This commonly leads to mastitis or inflammation of the cow’s mammary glands and the treatment involves antibiotics. Traces of hormones, antibiotics, blood, pus, and other dirty items can end up in milk – which is, in part, why it’s pasteurized or even Ultra High Temperature (UHT) pasteurized (this also helps keep it shelf-stable longer). All to keep you safe, right? Some argue that pasteurization kills the bad and good bacteria as well as denaturing proteins.  Also, cows are often fed GMO corn and soy products. These are all items for consideration.

4. Even without the addition of synthetic hormones, there are still anabolic hormones contained in milk and these are designed to take a just-born calf at about 85lbs and grow it into a 1000+ cow. What do you think it’s doing to humans?

5. Extra calories. In a time where we are experiencing an epidemic of overweight and obesity, do we really need more calories from beverages or cheese? With the former, consider that water and tea, even coffee, are much lower calorie alternatives.

6. Other connections. Over the years, we’ve seen that dairy can affect individuals in a variety of ways – sinus & ear infections, skin issues such as acne, as well as diarrhea and/or constipation. It’s important to pay attention to your individual results.

Milk and dairy products are not inherently evil but they also aren’t necessary for a healthy diet. Eat plenty of nutrient-dense foods such as vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fruit (and fortified foods, if desired). They can help you reach your vitamin and mineral requirements without the potentially adverse effects of dairy.

If you desire to consume milk or dairy products, consider buying the highest-quality sources; other alternatives are using non-dairy milk, or going without.

Sources:

http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/dairy.html
http://www.dairymoos.com/how-much-do-cows-weight/

Click to access LI%20and%20Minorites_FINALIZED.pdf

Recipe: Tropical Millet Breakfast

Feed your body wholesome, nutritious food to as an act of self-care. Start your day right with this delicious, tropically-inspired breakfast recipe:

Yield: 3-4 servings
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes

Ingredients:
1 cup millet
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1/4 cup pineapple, chopped
1/4 cup mango, chopped
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut, toasted
2 teaspoons chia seeds
2 teaspoons flaxseeds
3 tbsp maple syrup

Directions:
Bring 6 cups of water to a boil (pinch of salt optional). Add grains and return to boil before simmering, covered, for about 30 minutes. Let cool for about 5 minutes before adding on top non-dairy milk, pineapple, mango, coconut,seeds, and maple syrup.