Ghirardelli Dark Classic Fudge

Oh go ahead, it’s good for you.  Did you know that Dark Chocolate is packed with antioxidants and has been known to lower blood pressure?  Dark Chocolate surprisingly has many health benefits!  Of course, with everything, moderation is key.  To control my sweet cravings, one thing I do daily is have a square of 86% Ghirardelli bar or 90% Lindt bar.  Note: The darker the chocolate %, the less sugar.

This recipe I am sharing today isn’t quite as healthy as indulging in straight dark chocolate, but is too DELICIOUS not to share.  My mother-in-law introduced this fine fudge to me on New Years Eve, just in time to kick off a healthy year. Ha.

2 cups (1 package) 60% Cacao Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/2 bar (2oz) Ghirardelli 100% Cacao Unsweetened Chocolate Baking Bar, chopped
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk (our not so healthy ingredient)
2.5 tsp. vanilla extract
*optional (1 cup walnuts chopped)

Line an 8-inch square baking pan with waxed paper. Place chocolate chips, bittersweet chocolate, and sweetened condensed milk in a double boiler over hot, but not boiling, water. Stir the mixture occasionally until the chocolate has melted. Stir in the vanilla extract and nuts*.
 Next step: Spread fudge evenly in prepared baking pan. Refrigerate for 2 hours, or until firm.
 Cut when cool and firm. Store uncovered in the refrigerator.

Hippie Loaf

Back in the days of eating meat, meatloaf was a staple in our household.  In an effort to try and stick with familiar dishes, I decided to give this veggie meat-free loaf a try.  It is surprising just how familiar the texture & taste is to a real meatloaf, tastier and healthier!  This does take some prep time in the kitchen, so plan accordingly.  It’s well worth the time invested.  Quinoa is main ingredient in this dish.  Quinoa is rich in protein & antioxidants. This is also a gluten-free dish.  KID FRIENDLY!  I served the meatloaf w/ mashed potatoes and broccoli.

1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded (I chopped mine in the Vitamix)
2 celery stalks, washed and shredded (I chopped mine in Vitamix)
1 c coarsely chopped brown mushrooms (I chopped mine in Vitamix)
1 c cooked quinoa
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp ketchup (I use Heinz Organic)
*I also used additional ketchup on the outside of the loaf..just a family tradition of ours.

Preheat oven to 350F
Grease a standard 8-inch loaf pan and set aside
Mash black beans in a large bowl and combine all ingredients until even
Transfer to a prepared pan and pat down firmly (shaped mine into a loaf)
Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hours, until firm and brown on the outside.
Allow the loaf to cool and firm up before serving, about 15-20 minutes


Recipe Source: The Happy Herbivore

Balsamic Roasted Red Pepper Round

I am excited to share my newest lunch creation!  I am constantly in search of healthy and tasty “at home” lunch options.  This was delicious.  It has not been kid tested, but the husband loved it.

Bread of your choice (I use Arnold Flax & Fiber Sandwich Thins-Harris Teeter)
Roasted Red Peppers *drain (I use Trader Joe’s Fire Roasted Red Peppers, HT has them)
1 teaspoon Mayo (I use Kraft Mayo w/ Olive Oil)
1 small squeeze of finely chopped garlic (I use Gourmet Garden-Harris Teeter)
balsamic glaze or balsamic vinegar
1 slice havarti cheese
baby spinach

Preheat toaster oven/oven
Mix teaspoon Mayo with squeeze of garlic and lightly coat bread thin/bread
Place spinach leaves on one side of thin/bread
Place havarti cheese on top of spinach leaves
Place roasted red peppers** on top of havarti
Place both pieces of thin/bread in toaster until desired readiness (mine was 4 minutes on high)
Remove from toaster
Top peppers with balsamic glaze or lightly add balsamic vinegar.  You will get more of a sweet flavor with the balsamic glaze…which is what I used.

**You can also roast your own peppers!  Click the word roast highlighted in blue for the link!



Homemade Hummus

In an effort to encompass a more whole foods preservative free diet, I decided to try my luck at homemade hummus.  It was a success!
Hummus is a favorite in our home.  We serve it with raw vegetables, such as carrots, celery, & red bell pepper.  It also makes a great addition to sandwiches and wraps and is a great substitute to mayonnaise.  Hummus is HEALTHY!  Hummus is made up of chickpeas which are rich in fiber and protein and contain vitamins and minerals.

2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas (garbanzos), one drained, one with liquid
1/4 cup (35g) raw sesame seeds
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup (60ml) lemon juice (I use fresh lemons)
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 teaspoon cumin

Place all ingredients, except salt, into the Vitamix or food processor in the order listed and secure lid.
Blend for 1 minute
Season to taste with salt

2.5 cups or 20 ozs

Shelf life may vary, 5-7 days.


Strawberry Mango Smoothie

The Strawberry Mango Smoothie is one of the easiest to make and is sweet/smooth in taste.  My kids call it the cotton candy smoothie because it is pink and YUMMY! Enjoy.
1 mango, peeled, pitted
1 cup strawberries
1 banana
1/2 cup water
handful of ice
(can also add ground flax seed)

2 8oz glasses

Baked Tofu Parmesan

Baked Tofu Parmesan is delicious and also kid friendly.  We served it over penne pasta and with broccoli as a side.  For you omnivores, you can coat boneless skinless chicken breast and use real parmesan.  You will want to adjust your baking time for the chicken.  Enjoy!

1lb Super Protein tofu or extra-frim tofu, pressed (express liquid w/ paper towels)
1 cup breadcrumbs (I use organic whole wheat bread crumbs from Trader Joe’s)
4 tbsp vegan Parmesan
2 tbsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp fine salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I use almond can use regular if you non vegan)
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 28-oz jar marinara sauce (can use less depending how saucy you like it)
Penne Pasta

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a cookie sheet w/ parchment paper & set aside.
Turn tofu on its side and cut 12 evenly sized cutlets; set aside.
Combine Breadcrumbs, Parmesan, spices, salt, and pepper, then finely grind in a food processor or mortar & pestle to a fine, sand-like consistency.
Pour crumb mixture into shallow bowl.
Whisk non-dairy milk & cornstarch together, then pour into another shallow bowl.
Dip each tofu cutlet into the non-dairy milk mixture, briefly submerging it, then immediately into Breadcrumbs.
Flip the tofu over and press into the Breadcrumbs again, repeating as necessary until the cutlet is well covered.
Repeat with remaining cutlets, placing the finished product on the cookie sheet.
Spray cutlets with cooking spray and bake for 12 minutes. (I use Trader’s Olive Oil Spray)
Flip and re-spray, baking for 10 minutes more.
Arrange cutlets on a plate and cover w/ marinara and garnish with Vegan Parmesan.


Recipe Source:

Stuffed Spinach Shells

This delicious meat free Italian dish is a family favorite, meaning, kid friendly!

16-24 Jumbo Pasta Shells
1 package (10 ounces) chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 1/2 cup of fat free ricotta cheese
1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup cholesterol-free egg substitute (or two eggs)
15 oz jar of organic marinara spaghetti sauce (if you like a lot of sauce you will need more)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Boil Jumbo pasta shells 10-12 mins (I cook extra b/c some will break during cooking)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 13X9-inch baking dish (preferably glass) with nonstick cooking spray.
Combine spinach, ricotta & parmesan cheese, egg substitute, oregano, basil & pepper in a large bowl, mix well.  Spoon into shells. I usually get around 16 shells with the above ingredients.
Pour a thin layer of spaghetti sauce in baking dish, covering the bottom.  Place shells in dish side by side. Top with remaining spaghetti sauce and mozzarella cheese. Bake, covered for 45 minutes.
Yields around  6 (2-3 shells per person)