With my journey to a healthy eating lifestyle, I had some challenges along the way. But, I knew my new eating habits had to have "balance" and incorporate some of my favorite foods in moderation. One of those foods when it comes to sweets was chocolate.
If you have done any background research on eating chocolate, we know it all comes down to how it is processed and what goes into it. There are plenty of conversations about eating dark chocolate because of its healthy benefits, but did you know there is another way to get your chocolate fix without the addition of sugar?
This is where my no guilt pleasure comes from with cacao nibs. If you are not familiar with cacao nibs, they are basically pieces of cocoa beans from the cacao tree.
They are loaded with delicious chocolate flavor with a low amount of sugar and you get additional health benefits of them being high in antioxidants with a good dose of fiber. This is a win, win situation especially for chocolate lovers as myself and you will discover this too if you give these a try.
There are various ways of incorporating these lovely nibs into your lifestyle. Here are some of my favorite ways.
Sprinkle them on top of a healthy smoothie or smoothie bowl
Use them to make a lighter and less sweet dessert instead of chocolate chips. (FYI, cacao nibs do not melt, because of their natural state, but still delicious!)
Make your own trail mix with nuts and add cacao nibs instead of chocolate chips
Sprinkle on top of healthy hot cocoa. (I make mine with a combination of chocolate collagen peptides mixed with a plant based milk)
Use them in energy bites
Use them making healthy granola bars or oatmeal
Simply snack on them!
If you are new to cacao nibs and want to give them a try, you can find them easily online or at any major healthy food store such as the Vitamin Shoppe. Make sure to buy organic so that you reap the best nutrition.
Remember, food is meant to be enjoyed and that includes sneaky ways without guilt such as cacao nibs.
Eat Good, Look Good! Feel Good!
.I have to admit, I've had a love/hate relationship with this nutrient dense superfood.
However, just like a child, I had to make numerous attempts on how I could make myself somewhat enjoy eating this nutritious vegetable and I'm certainly glad I did!
Now if you've had them before and you have a bad memory, like myself and couldn't get over the taste of dirt in your mouth. (At least that's how I remembered my first attempt) It may scare you enough to leave them alone.
But, don't let this bad memory stop you from trying them again, especially if you want to reap the benefits of all they have to offer nutrition wise.
There are numerous benefits to beets, but some of the common benefits is these beauties are loaded with fiber, can help with inflammation. They also can boost your immunity for the upcoming winter months because they are loaded with vitamin A & C.
So, what ways can we enjoy beets culinary wise? Believe it or not, they are very versatile and can be cooked in a variety of ways which does alter the taste where you won't notice the earthiness as much.
Beets can be roasted, steamed, boiled or pickled. Each cooking technique will give you a different taste depending on the recipe.
One simple way I like to eat beets, is to just slice thinly making beet chips, tossed in extra virgin olive oil with a little sea salt that I throw in my air fryer. They are really delicious and are a great replacement for a crunchy snack.
Beets are also really good in dips including bean dips (such as hummus) Not only is it a fun twist, but also lends great color and taste!. Think of all the good nutrition going into your body with simply adding to dishes you may already eat.
Beets can be enjoyed raw in salads and cooked into making a lovely beet soup. I find that beets have to be paired up with other ingredients sometimes to mask the earthy flavor. Ginger works wonders and compliments the sweet taste of beets.
Still not convinced? Well here is another option which you might want to consider. If you want the benefit of beets, but don't want to fuss with heavy preparation, consider using beet powder as a supplement..
Because its a concentrated powder, a little goes a long way. You can drop 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon into a fruit flavored sparkling water with a twist of lime or lemon. This will be easy to do, and you'll reap some healthy benefits.
Another option for using beet powder, you can throw a little into a simmering pan of marinara or spaghetti sauce. No need to add sugar to cut the acidity as the beet powder will be your natural sweetness to your sauce. And, it will look really pretty too!
As you can see, there can be a variety of ways of implementing this amazing root vegetable which can be pleasurable if we explore the different ways of preparing them into recipes. I hope you give some of these a try.
Eat Good! Look Good! Feel Good!
At one stage briefly, I gave up regular coffee and opted to drink decaf instead, which I still drink occasionally in the late afternoon if I decide to have a second serving. I do this because it contains less caffeine, so when the late evening arrives , it doesn't cause sleep issues.
However, I've had a change of heart about caffeine and it's consumption. While anything can become habit forming, and this includes coffee, moderation is key.
So, I'm back at having my regular caffeinated morning coffee (sorry, decaf) There is something to be said about enjoying a great cup of Joe, and I discovered a delicious way of preparing it which is cold brew!
I guess I'm late in the game, but apparently this way of preparing coffee has been trending a bit these days and I can see why. The process of making it can't be simpler and the taste is phenomenal for little effort.
To make cold brew, you can use 3/4 cup of coffee to 4 cups of water. I used a nut bag which is used to make plant based milk. (I got mine at Amazon) In a nutshell, you place your bag inside of a large pitcher or glass jar, add your ground coffee and pour in the water. Place in your fridge for at least 12 hours. Then drain the brewed mixture into a jar to be stored for up to two weeks to be enjoyed.
Now lets get to some of the positives of trying this method of brewing. Here are 5 benefits of of consuming and making your own cold brew coffee at home.
1. Saves Money
I don't need to tell you this, but I'll say it anyway. Making your own is going to save you LOTS of money in this area. Cold brew at fancy coffee shops, depending on the size can run you the price of almost a latte or cappuccino. Expect to pay between $3-4 dollars, depending on where you live. This money can be allocated to making your own tasty brew at home specific to your taste! Matter of fact, I made my first batch using a very inexpensive espresso brand from Puerto Rico called "Cafe Rico Rico" I got from a local Latin supermarket in my area for only $1.67 ! If you can get your hands on this coffee or another Latin coffee of choice I'm sure it will work well too.
.2. Smoother Taste-Less Acidity
When I made my first batch of cold brew, this is the first thing I noticed. It had a prominent, smooth ,coffee taste without the sharp bitterness that comes with traditional brewing. This coffee has these great qualities because of how cold water slowly extracts with the ground beans. With the usual process of making coffee, hot water can make a cup of coffee have more bitterness and become more acidic.
3. You Consume Less Caffeine
Yes, that is correct! This is what is so cool about the cold brew technique. Because you are using cold water instead of hot, less caffeine is extracted during this process. (Note, this will depend on what type of coffee you use.) You can also determine the amount, by how much water you add to the concentrate.
4. Coffee can be Healthy in Moderation
We know coffee because it has caffeine can give us an energy boost to get us going. That is why its the beverage of choice for us early risers. According to an article at Healthline, it has many healthy benefits of essential nutrients and antioxidants.
5. Creative Use-Convenient
Cold brew can be stored in glass jars for up to two weeks. For those who love a delicious cup of coffee, but don't like to wait, cold brew may be the answer.
Also, cold brew can be enjoyed hot, instead of cold, making it super convenient by just warming it up and drinking black or with creamer of your choice. Basically, because its concentrated, you only need to use a third of a regular cup and dilute the rest with water as needed to make an awesome cup.
I recently made a collagen coffee protein shake using cold brew. Absolutely delicious! Try pouring a little cold brew into your next chili recipe for a bold taste or any other culinary use where you want a prominent coffee taste.
As you can see, consuming coffee can be part of a healthy lifestyle, and if you use the method of cold brewing, it makes it even more convenient, but still offers you great taste more so than hot brewed coffee. I'm sure you will enjoy!
Eat Good! Look Good! Feel Good!
Vanessa LaBranche/Chef Instructor-Culinary Educator