Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Heavy sigh

Whew, final presentation done!

I never worried about tests and projects when I was in school back in the Dark Ages (i.e, 1960-80s). But I have been losing sleep for a week now rehearsing and rephrasing and reorganizing my discussion of what I finally titled "Taming the Chocolate Monster: How Sweets Fit into a Healthful Diet."

Of course, with a rainbow of fresh fruit (and vegetables!) and a big packet of raw cacao, how could I lose?

Well, I could've panicked when the Vita-Mix motor blew away my notecards listing the nutrition information I'd carefully prepared.

Or maybe when the end of my 45-minute presentation came somewhere around the 30-minute mark. That's the editor in me, always making it shorter, clearer, more concise.

But I'm pretty sure my fellow chef students and the instructors were too busy salivating over the Cuisinart full of Cherry-Choco Energy Bars.

The reality is that it doesn't take much time to make absolutely delish healthful stuff, and if you fill it full of good stuff, people won't want more.

So, since you couldn't be there to sample, here are the two recipes from the presentation:

Chocolate Super Smoothie

A variety of superfoods combine to create a tasty and healthful morning start or midday energizer. And no one will know there’s spinach in it!

1 cup almond milk
½ cup (about 10) pitted cherries
½ cup blueberries
1 medium ripe banana
2 cups spinach
1 stalk celery
2 Tablespoons cacao
2 dates (to taste)

Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

By Kathy Leftwich, adapted from incrediblesmoothies.com
Makes 1 large smoothie (2 servings)

Cost breakdown:
Almond milk from 1 cup (5.5 oz.) almonds @ $6/lb =$2.06
Cherries: ½ cup (2.75 oz.) @$4/lb (.25/oz) = $0.69
Blueberries: ½ cup (2 oz.) @ $3/dry pint (8 oz.) = $0.75
Banana: 5 oz @.69/lb (.04/oz) = $0.20
Celery: 1 stalk of about 8 per head @$0.88 = $0.11
Spinach: 2 oz of 8 oz. box @ $4 = $1
Cacao: 2 T (1 oz.) @$18/lb = $1.12
Total (2 servings)= 5.93 or $2.96 per serving

Cherry-Cocoa Energy Bars

Loaded with protein, fiber and healthy fats, these bars make a delicious and satisfying on-the-go treat.

1½ cups pitted, dried dates
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup whole chia seeds
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup almonds, toasted and chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1/2 cup dried cherries

Purée dates in food processor until a thick paste forms. Add cocoa powder, chia seeds, cinnamon, cloves and extracts. Pulse until well combined. Add almonds, walnuts and dried cherries; pulse until well mixed.
Spread large sheet of wax paper on work surface. Transfer date mixture to wax paper, and press mixture into 1/2-inch-thick rectangle. Wrap tightly in wax paper, and chill until firm (note: I didn't do this for the presentation and the bars tasted more like brownies right out of the oven!). Cut into 8 bars.

By Kathy Leftwich adapted from dramaticpancake.com
Makes 8 bars

Cost breakdown:
Dates: 4 oz. @ $5/lb =$1.25
Cacao:1/3 cup @ $18/lb = $2.75
Chia: 1/3 cup (2 oz.) @$9.99/lb = $1.25
Cinnamon: ½ tsp. @$1.25/oz. = $0.10
Ground cloves: ¼ tsp @2.50/oz = $0.10
Vanilla: ½ tsp @ $2/oz. = $0.25
Almond extract: ¼ tsp.@ $2/oz. = $0.12
Almonds: ½ c (2.5oz.) @ $6/lb. = $1
Walnuts: ½ c. (2 oz.) @$9/lb = $1
Cherries: ½ c (2 oz.) @ $13/lb = $1.60
Total: $10.17 /8 servings =$1.27

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