Just in time for Valentines Day - two super easy and delicious recipes featuring Chocolate!
The first is Dark Chocolate Superfood Bar from Joy McCarthy’s new cookbook, The Joyous Cookbook. Her recipes are similar to mine in that they are easy to make and healthy, with commonly found ingredients. You can check her out at https://www.joyoushealth.com/
I made these for our last full day seminar and they met with rave reviews! Dairy-free, gluten-free, grain free and vegetarian!
Dark Chocolate Superfood Bars
½ cup (125 ml) + 3 tablespoons (170 ml) coconut oil
1 cup (250 ml) raw cacao powder
1/3 cup (75 ml) real maple syrup
2 tablespoons (30 ml) unsweetened nut milk
½ teaspoon (2 ml) cinnamon
1 tablespoon (15 ml) chia seeds
2 tablespoons (30 ml) raw pumpkin seeds, divided
2 tablespoons (30 ml) raw sunflower seeds, divided
2 tablespoons (30 ml) hemp seeds, divided
2 tablespoons (30 ml) dried cranberries, divided
1 tablespoon (15 ml) bee pollen, optional
Line a 8 ½ x 4 ½ (1.5 L) loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving extra to hang over the edge to make it easier to lift pans out when completed. ( I used an 8 in square pan)
In a medium saucepan, melt the coconut oil over low heat.
Stir in the cacao powder and maple syrup. Once fully combined, add the nut milk and cinnamon. Stir and make sure not to burn the mixture.
Add chia seeds and 1 tablespoon (15 ml) each of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, and cranberries. Stir well.
Pour the mixture into the pan. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of seeds and cranberries. Then sprinkle with bee pollen if you are using it. (I didn’t have any so left this ingredient out).
Cover with wrap and freeze for 4 hours or overnight.
To serve, remove from freezer and let sit for 5 minutes before slicing. Lift squares out of pan and slice into squares. ( I found that a small bar was quite satisfying but you can cut them to whatever size you like).
Store leftovers in freezer for up to 3 months.
The second recipe is from my cookbook, Fight Fire with Food and is one of my favorites. Not only are they addictive but they have a great combination of nuts and seeds making the texture unique and satisfying. Yum!
Dark Chocolate Quinoa Bark
½ cup (125 ml) maple syrup or honey
2 tablespoons (30 ml) coconut oil
2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla
Pinch of salt
1 cup (250 ml) uncooked quinoa, rinsed and dried
1/3 cup (75 ml) pistachios, roughly chopped
1/3 cup (75 ml) sliced almonds, roughly chopped
1/3 cup (75 ml) raw seeds (chia, hemp, flax, for example)
3 ounces (90 g) dark chocolate
Cranberries, coconut flakes, and additional nuts for topping
Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small pot, melt together syrup and coconut oil until smooth. Stir in vanilla and salt. I
n a large mixing bowl, combine quinoa, pistachios, almonds, pecans, and seeds. Stir to combine. Add syrup mixture to the bowl.
Make sure all dry ingredients are wet. Spread mixture onto baking sheet in a thin layer.
Bake for 25 minutes until quinoa is golden brown. While bark is cooking melt chocolate and then pour over cooked quinoa in an even layer. Sprinkle with desired toppings. Place in refrigerator or freezer to harden. Break in pieces.
Both of these recipes are nutrient powerhouses and can be adjusted to your likes and desires. Add different nuts and seeds or different spices! Have fun creating and enjoy. And, of course, spread as much love and compassion as possible on both Valentines and Family Day.
Check out more delicious recipes in Fight Fire with Food.
What to eat versus all the things we need to avoid, however, danger lurks in our food - everything from pesticides to artificial ingredients. Some of these ingredients are there without our knowledge but most are listed in the ingredient list. We all need to start reading this list each time we buy a product. Processed food is killing us slowly but there are options. The first step is to be aware of what we need to avoid. Here are a few general rules and then we will get more specific:
The colder the weather the more I crave rich, warm soups and stews. This recipe has a unique mix of vegetables and spices and features lots of cancer preventing phytonutrients. It features sweet potatoes and cauliflower, an unusual combination but one I love. The cauliflower makes the soup super creamy and smooth. I think I will add it to other root vegetable soups. I adapted this recipe from Dr. Mark Hyman’s new book, Food, What the Heck Should I Cook? (Published December 2019 by Little, Brown Spark) I love all his work surrounding food and health.
Here is my take on Soul Food Sweet Potato Soup:
2 tablespoons avocado oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
¼ teaspoons chili powder
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped (about 2 cups)
1 small head cauliflower, chopped (about 2 cups)
4 cups filtered water
¼ teaspoon paprika
½ lime or to taste
¼ cup tahini
1 teaspoon sea salt
Dab of coconut sugar, maple syrup or honey
4 cups spinach, finely chopped plus more for garnish.
*the original recipe calls for fresh cilantro but many of my friends and family do not like the taste of cilantro so I left it out, but if you are a fan add it to the onions, celery and garlic.
1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat and add in onions, garlic and celery. Cook until onions and celery are soft. Cook for about another minute adding in the cumin, and chili powder. Stir well.
2. Add the sweet potatoes, cauliflower, water, and paprika and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 25 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
3. In a high powered blender, add the lime and blend until smooth. Set aside. Blend the vegetables and broth, adding in the tahini and sea salt. Add in the lime to taste. Add in sweetener to taste.
4. To serve, place finely chopped spinach in a bowl and pour hot soup on top. Garnish with more spinach on top.
*Note: I used a whole lime on my first attempt and found it overpowered the taste of the vegetables. I reduced to ½ lime and added a little sweetness and perfection!
At this time of year, your body is craving warmth. Cooked foods nourish your body and soul. Avoid cold drinks and smoothies, switch instead to healing teas and cocoas. The key is to find a drink that is both delicious but also nutritious. Most take out beverages are full of sugars that cause inflammation. The following homemade drink is anti-inflammatory, easy to make, and full of nutritional benefits. This latte features Rooibos Tea which is Native to South Africa, and comes from the Aspalathus linearis plant. It has been used for centuries and is highly regarded for its health benefits. A serving of this tea contains iron, potassium, zinc, copper and magnesium and has been shown to balance hormones, prevent diabetes, soothe digestion, regulate blood pressure and prevent aging. On top of all that, it’s anti-inflammatory! The spices in this latte also have many health benefits. Enjoy!
Chai Rooibos Tea Latte
1 cup water
1 rooiboos tea bag
½ cup lite canned coconut milk
1 teaspoon chopped, fresh ginger
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoons ground cloves, allspice, and cardamom
Pinch of black pepper
1 tsp. raw honey (optional)
In a small pot, bring water to a boil. Prepare a mug for the tea bag, pour the boiling water over it and allow it to steep for 5 to 7 minutes. While the tea steeps, place the remaining ingredients in a blender and blend until totally combined and smooth. Return this mixture to the small pot and heat over medium heat until hot, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the tea bag from the mug and add the milk mixture. Stir in the honey (optional).
Check out other healthy drink options in my book, Fight Fire with Food. Check it out at susannej.com.
If you have ever had trouble sleeping you are well aware of the consequences of lack of sleep: fatigue,decreased brain function, cognitive decline, skin problems, insulin resistance, obesity, increased risk of major disease and accelerated aging. A good night sleep is paramount in maintaining good health and preventing aging. Here are some important tips to help increase deep sleep:
1. Your circadian rhythm is your internal biological clock triggering hormones like melatonin that
we need for adequate sleep. Sunlight is required to produce the melatonin we need at night.
The best time to get this dose of sunlight is first thing in the morning. So going for a walk in the
morning is the best way to get a good sleep at night. Cloudy day? No worries, there are still
melatonin producing rays.
2. No screen time for two hours preceding bedtime. Take a warm bath, read a book, and do some
3. Make your room pitch black, or as dark as possible. Black out curtains, getting rid of night lights
and electronics with lights on them, and wearing a sleep mask or hood all help. You will not
produce melatonin when there is light in the room.
4. Eating late at night dramatically affects your sleep. Try to finish your supper by 7 and avoid late
night munching. Eating something sugary leads to a blood sugar spike and then a crash that
triggers a release of adrenaline which keeps you up until 3 p.m.
5. Avoid caffeine, alcohol or drug use before 2 p.m. All suppress REM sleep.
6. Go to bed before 10 p.m. for better quality sleep and a balanced circadian rhythm. Try to be
consistent regarding going to bed and getting out of bed times.
7. Exercise regularly but no aerobic exercise before bed.
8. Drink herbal teas before bed such as chamomile, valerian, passion flower, lemon balm, talsa or
holy basil, kava or lavender. I rarely recommend a particular product, but I do like Distinctly
Tea’s Good Night tea blend. I have found it to be the most effective. Their website is
9. A warm glass of milk and some ashwaganda are my go to, but there are many supplements that
help sleep. Magnesium, melatonin, passionflower, valerian root, lemon balm, GABA, L-
Theanine (from green tea), Vitamin B6 and Lactam ( bioactive milk-derived peptides) are some
10. After my last restorative yoga class one of my students told me she slept 9 hours straight and
woke up pain free for the first time in months. We need to activate the parasympathetic
nervous system (versus sympathetic, fight or flight, system) in order to sleep and heal. Come to
a class or start a home practice of restorative poses before bed. (Read previous blog on
restorative yoga at susannej.com)
Getting between 7 to 9 hours of sleep is recommended by most professionals but the quality of sleep is even more important. During deep sleep our body and mind renews, heals and regenerates. This is important for our cells, brains, energy level maintenance, and for strengthening our immune system. I hope these tips help. Sweet dreams.
I love to have soup ready for busy lunches and dinners when I am on the run, but have you ever tried combining squash and broccoli? This week I’m sharing a new recipe for broccoli squash soup that is thick and rich and can be made to taste like broccoli cheddar soup if you like. Make it totally dairy free and gluten free, as well. Win/win!
Check out other great soups in my cookbook, Fight Fire with Food.
Here’s my version of broccoli squash soup.
2 to 4 tbsp. (30 to 60 ml) avocado or coconut oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup diced onion and celery
3 cups (420 g) cubed butternut squash
2 cups (500 ml) unsweetened almond, or coconut milk
2 cups (500 ml) vegetable broth (or bone broth)
3 cups (273 g) broccoli, chopped
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
1 to 2 tbsp. maple sugar
*½ cup (24 g) nutritional yeast, parmesan cheese or cheddar cheese
*I love the soup without this ingredient but the yeast or cheese give it a more true broccoli cheddar taste. Try it both ways.
Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add oil, garlic, celery and onion. Cook until onion and celery soften. Season with salt and pepper. Add in the squash.
Cover and cook for 4 minutes or until squash is soft and golden brown. Add the broccoli, milk, broth, spices, vinegar and maple syrup. Add nutritional yeast, if using. Bring to a low boil and cook until vegetables are soft. Blend using an immersion blender or transfer to a blender and puree until creamy and smooth.
If using cheese, add just before serving. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Worried about stress and disease? Get a good night’s sleep! Ahh, but how to get enough consistent sleep? How to avoid waking up tired and cranky?
First, let’s discuss the importance of sleep and look at what lack of sleep can cause:
It’s the time of year when chronic stress can build causing unwanted physical and emotional symptoms. Anxiety, flu and general fatigue will flourish just when you have the least amount of time for dealing with them!. Your best defense is to be ready with a plan to prevent illness and help you cope with all the demands on your time.
Here are some tips that help calm the nervous system:
Though ideal, it is not always realistic to get all our nutrients from our food. If you were prescribed high dose vitamin C (5000 mg) by your health practitioner, you would have to eat 75 oranges to get that amount of Vitamin C into your body. That’s a lot of oranges. Supplementation is clearly the simpler route. However, when faced with the plethora of vitamin brands in the market, how is one to choose? Here are some hints, facts and recommendations:
Last week I discussed common vitamin and mineral deficiencies. This week I'd like to focus on
what to do if you have symptoms of deficiency. First of all, get your blood work done to confirm that your symptoms are due to deficiencies and not something else. Ask your doctor for specific vitamins to be tested and explain the need. A naturopath can also request blood work.
Here are some hints to improve your vitamin and mineral profile:
1. Taking a good quality multi-vitamin is like an insurance plan against malnutrition. Most cover
the full spectrum of vitamin and minerals needed for good health. Avoid any brands that have
fillers, chemicals, or preservatives listed in the ingredients, active or non-active ingredients.
2. Eat from the earth. A whole foods diet with a broad range of foods works best.
3. Eat vegetables and fruits especially superfoods like berries, apples, onions and greens that
contain healing antioxidants.
4. Avoid Frankenfoods (manufactured, processed foods) which are full of chemicals and toxins.
5. Eat both prebiotic and probiotic foods for good digestion. Poor digestion and gut health inhibits absorption of vitamins and minerals so work on your gut microbiome.
6. Sugar and alcohol taken with a meal inhibit the absorption of precious nutrients from your meal. Cut down on these saboteurs!
7. Our food today doesn’t necessarily provide all the nutrients our bodies need. Add individual
supplements to your vitamin regime depending on symptoms. A nutritionist can advise you on
which you may need and optimal amounts.
Optimal health depends on a solid foundation of nutrients available for your bodies use. Your body utilizes vitamins and minerals to perform hundreds of functions in your body. They heal wounds,protect your vision, boost your immune system, and help maintain bone health. There is a reason we call them “essential” as most disease can be attributed to a poor diet and most conditions can be helped, or even cured, by proper nutrition.
Susanne Jakubowski is a holistic nutritionist, yoga teacher, Thai Yoga Therapist, and cancer survivor.