Fruit and Nut Chocolate Bark

Chocolate is often seen as a guilty indulgence, but dark chocolate provides health benefits along with the sweet taste.  Here’s a treat that is kind to both your taste buds and your body.Almonds, orange peel and salt chocolate bark

You will need:

3 oz. dark chocolate (65% or above)

¼ c. roughly chopped raw almonds

¼ c. dried blueberries

Pinch of sea salt (optional)

Directions:

Melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler*, stirring frequently to avoid burning.

Remove the chocolate from heat.

Stir in the almonds and dried blueberries.

Spread out the mixture on a pan covered with parchment paper; sprinkle with sea salt to taste.

Cool the bark for 1-2 hours.

*This is essentially two pots stacked on top of one another.  Put 2 – 3 inches of water in the bottom pan.  Then put the chocolate in the second, slightly smaller pot on top of the first pan.  Bring the water to a simmer or very slow boil.  The heat from the steaming water melts the chocolate slowly.  Stir the chocolate frequently to avoid burning.

More information on dark chocolate:

Studies suggest that dark chocolate can reduce blood pressure and LDL cholesterol by up to 10%.  It also contains antioxidants which combat free radicals, and is lower in fat than milk chocolate.   Dark chocolate releases serotonin and endorphins, producing a sense of well-being.  Exercise also releases endorphins: a less calorie-intensive way of boosting your mood!

Variations:

Try dried cherries or cranberries in place of the dried blueberries.

Try finely chopped walnuts or pecans as a variant for the almonds.

Try adding finely chopped crystallized ginger for more zing.

 

You can find a PDF version of this recipe here.

posted in Desserts, Recipes, Uncategorized

Poached Pears

Here’s a simple, fool-proof way to make a lovely, light dessert.  It’s totally simple, and will please the pickiest eater.

  • 4 firm but ripe pears*poachedpear
  • 3 – 4 cups filtered water
  • 2 – 3″ piece of peeled fresh ginger
  • whole cinnamon stick
  • whole vanilla bean pod
  • 3 – 4 TB. honey (optional)

Peel** the pears, leaving the stems intact.  Set them on their base in a pan, add water to cover and the spices.  If you’re using honey, dilute it in some hot water and then add it.  Bring to a slow simmer or very low boil, and cook gently for 20-25 minutes.  Let cool in the liquid, and serve room temperature or chilled.

You can reduce the liquid to a syrup and pour it over the pears, or use it in other recipes – it is totally delicious!

Another idea is to “plump” dried cranberries in the warm liquid and serve with the pears.  A few whole walnuts are another nice garnish.  Other possibilities for garnishes include a dusting of nutmeg, or a dollop of very lightly sweetened creamy yoghurt.

*Firmer pears, like the Bosc and Seckel varieties are ideal.  Bartlett’s will work, but tend to get mushy.  They still taste wonderful, but aren’t as pretty on the plate!

**You do want to peel the pears for this recipe, but remember that pear skin provides fiber and a wealth of phenolic phytonutrients that are anti-oxidant and anti-diabetic, among other benefits!

Click Here for a print-friendly version of this recipe.

posted in Desserts, Recipes, Uncategorized

Baked Apple Compote

I don’t know why I start looking for quick desserts in the winter.  It is after all, the season of long-slow cooking.  Maybe it’s just that the early darkness makes me yearn for something satisfying, quickly!  This is not only fast, it’s easy, delicious, low-fat, no added sugar, easy to make for one or a crowd, and doesn’t require any special ingredients.  What is this miracle?

Baked Apple Compote– a simple, yummy crowd pleaser

  • 1-2 organic* Granny Smith apples, choppedBaked-apple-stuffed-with-nuts
  • 1-2 tbsp. dried cranberries (basically a generous pinch)
  • 1-2 tbsp. raisins
  • 1-2 tbsp. chopped almonds, walnuts or pecans
  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger (grate 1-2tsp, fresh or dried)
  • A tiny pinch of nutmeg
  • Juice of ½ small orange (enough to coat the apples & distribute the spices)
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil

Place chopped apples in a large bowl; add dried cranberries, raisins and almonds.  Dust with cinnamon, grated ginger and nutmeg and toss with oranges juice, adding any pulp bits as well.

Grease a baking dish with coconut oil.  Place apple mixture into dish and bake at 350o oven for 10-15 minutes.  Enjoy as-is or add creamy yoghurt.

For a larger group, allow 1 large or 2 small apples per person and scale up the rest of the ingredients.

*If you can get organic apples, please do!  Here’s the Dirty Dozen Guide to the produce that carries the highest (and the lowest) pesticide load

 

Click Here for a print-friendly version of this recipe.

 

posted in Desserts, Recipes, Uncategorized