Dec 202015

Tis the season to be jolly…and also to eat and drink excessively while wearing ugly christmas sweaters at about 14 different holiday parties. Oh, you know what I’m talking about. Sweets at holiday parties are inevitable, so here’s a slightly healthier option that will still satisfy your sweet tooth. You can even leave a few out for Santa too…I hear his cholesterol was a little high this year.
These truffles have a whopping 4 ingredients, and 2 of them barely even count: dark chocolate, avocado (yup, I said it), vanilla extract, and sea salt. You can roll these in pretty much any crushed up toppings, but for the holidays I kept it festive with crushed pistachios, coconut chips, and freeze-dried raspberries.
Added bonus, they take 0 real cooking, and all you have to do is blend up the avocado and mix it into dark chocolate that you melted in the microwave. Let it cool in the fridge and then roll into balls and cover in your favorite toppings and you have a seriously impressive dessert or gift to share for the holiday.
Nutritional Highlights: We’ve all heard that (thank goodness) dark chocolate has so great health benefits from antioxidants and several vitamins and minerals. This all goes out the window, though, in typical truffle recipes, which are made with cream, butter, and probably some corn syrup or another sweetener. This recipe maintains the integrity of the dark chocolate without adding any extra sweeteners or saturate fats, and even adds another powerhouse ingredient, avocado, which makes these truffles extra creamy and provides additional monounsaturated fats which have been shown to improve heart health, as well as fiber and B vitamins. The toppings I chose are also a whole lot healthier than the sprinkles and caramels that often top our truffles. The coconut and pistachios provide additional healthy fats and fiber, and the crushed dried raspberries add virtually no calories but a killer red color. One of these truffles can absolutely be part of a healthy, balanced diet!
Added bonus, these are gluten free (as long as you don’t use any gluten containing toppings) and can be vegan if you choose vegan chocolate.
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Dark Chocolate-Avocado Truffles
Makes about 12-16 truffles
(go for 16 and you have less calories per truffle!)
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What’s in them:
6 oz good dark chocolate, I used 72% cacao but you can go as dark as you like (about 1 cup chocolate bar squares, chunks, or chips)
1/2 cup pureed ripe avocado, about 1/2 large avocado or 1 small avocado
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
Toppings of your choice: coconut flakes or chips, crushed nuts, crushed freeze dried fruit, cocoa powder, crushed candy canes, or any other toppings you can think of

How to make them:
1. In you blender or food processor, add the avocado, vanilla, and salt, and blend until very smooth. My avocado was slightly less ripe than I wanted it to be so it needed some help in the blender so I added 1 tablespoon of soy milk to provide a little extra liquid.
2. In a microwave safe bowl or double boiler melt your chocolate. If using the microwave, stir every 20-30 seconds to make sure the chocolate doesn’t burn. Stop cooking as soon as all the chocolate is melted.
3. Mix the avocado puree into the dark chocolate and stir until well combined. Transfer to the refrigerator for about an hour to let the mixture harden.
4. Lay out a piece of parchment. Scoop small amounts of the chocolate mixture (a little less than a tablespoon) and use your hands to roll them into balls.
5. Roll the chocolate balls in your favorite toppings and enjoy!
6. These should be good at room temperature for about 2 days, but keep in the refrigerator or freezer to make them last longer.
It’s such a shame that I don’t have any more holiday parties to bring these too. Whatever will I do with 16 chocolate truffles…

Hope everyone’s holidays are filled with family, friends, and of course, a little chocolate!

Dec 132015

Growing up in a half-Jewish home, Hannukah meant a lot of things to me. It meant lighting the menorah (which sat on our mantle above our hanging stockings) every night and placing bets on which candle would last the longest. It also meant underwear night, which was the night that instead of cool gifts, we got new underwear (don’t ask). And of course, it meant good food with a great family–including latkes. With one night of Hannukah left, it’s not too late to get in your latke fill. This version has some extra veggies, extra color, and some upgraded toppings.
This grown up version version is made with butternut squash and beets in addition to the standard potatoes and onions which make them healthier, tastier, and prettier all at once. The topping are just as important as the base, and I served mine with some homemade chunky apple sauce or with a yogurt-chive sauce and smoked salmon. I liked them, a lat…ke.
The one issue I have had with latkes in the past is the pain of grating all the veggies. This year I enlisted my new spiralizer and spiralized all the veggies using the thinnest blade. Not only was this much easier, but it also made gorgeous spirals that added a cool shape to the latkes.
Nutrition highlights: These latkes are way healthier than your average latkes with added phytochemicals, antioxdiants, and fiber from the beets and butternut squash. They also get a little protein from the eggs that bind them together. By making my own apple sauce, I could make sure it didn’t have too much added sugar, and instead of sour cream, I made a creamy sauce with fat free greek yogurt. Although I still pan friend mine, you could also bake these instead for a lower fat version.
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Beet, Butternut Squash & Potato Latkes
makes 15-20 small latkes
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What’s in them:
1 medium russet potato, peeled
2 medium beets, peeled
Approximately 1/3 butternut squash, peeled*
1 small or medium onion
2 large eggs, egg
1/3 cup whole wheat or regular flour
1 teaspoon salt, plus a little extra for sprinkling over the cooked latkes
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Vegetable oil (I used sunflower seed oil) for pan frying
Optional toppings:
– homemade or store bought apple sauce
– chive-yogurt sauce or low fat sour-cream with or without smoked salmon

For the chive-yogurt sauce:
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
To make it: combine all the ingredients, stir, taste, and season to taste.

For the apple sauce:
2-3 apples, peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar (more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of salt
To make it: Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes or until apples are very soft. Taste and add additional sugar/spices to your tastes. For chunky sauce, just smush the apples a bit with your spoon as they cook. For a smooth sauce, run through the blender or food processor.

How to make them:
1. Shred all the vegetables using a box grater or thinnest spiralizer blade. If using a spiralizer, run a knife through the spiralized veggies a few times so the strands are not too long.
2. Wrap veggies in paper towels and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Careful with the beets…those guys stain like woah.
3. Combine the veggies, egg, flour, salt/pepper and stir until well combined. Note, everything will look pretty red at this point, that’s ok.
4. Heat a large non stick skillet over medium-high, once hot add 1 tablespoon of oil. Spoon about 2-3 tablespoons of mixture into the pan per latke, making sure you leave enough room for flipping. Flatten mounds slightly while they cook. After 2-3 minutes or when golden brown, flip the latkes and cook the reverse side for another 2-3 minutes.
5. Transfer cooked latkes to a paper-towel lined wire rack or plate to cool.
6. Add another tablespoon of oil per batch and continue until all your latkes are cooked.
7. Serve with your choice of toppings (I did half apple sauce, half chive-yogurt with smoked salmon). Enjoy!

*Note: you want to have approximately equal amounts of potato, beets, and butternut squash so you can adjust the amount you use of each based on the size of your veggies