Trader Joe’s Organic Stone Ground Salt & Pepper Dark Chocolate

Word of the day: clutch. According to Urban Dictionary, there are several definitions of clutch, but I am using it as defined: Exactly what you need, exactly when you need it.

as in “Trader Joes is clutch when it comes to unique, affordable chocolate!”

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Taste: B+

This chocolate was definitely easy to eat. It was light, but with a chalky texture. It actually reminded me of sand, but in a melt in your mouth sorta way! Sounds unappealing for chocolate, but it wasn’t bad at all. The only thing that threw me off was the pepper. I don’t think I could have this as a dessert because after each bite I had to have a baby carrot to cleanse my palate…and get rid of the spicy, scratchy feeling at the back of my throat! Don’t be taken aback, it’s definitely worth a try!

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What I loved most about this chocolate is that is only has four ingredients: organic cocoa nibs, organic cane sugar, organic cracked pepper and kosher salt.

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The simpler, the better!

Presentation: A

I liked how it was pocket sized and travel friendly (I know…chocolate IS travel friendly, but girl jeans have small pockets and this one fit in mine okay?).

Price: A

This chocolate circle was $1.49 at Trader Joe’s for 2.6oz. Most of their 3 oz bars are $1.99, so that works out to be around .66 cents an ounce, and this worked out to be about .57 cents an ounce. I’d say that’s a pretty nice difference. And its also not too much chocolate, share it with a friend…that would be clutch : )

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Talk to me: Have you tried this TJ’s Salt & Pepper Dark Chocolate? Would you?

Homemade Creamy NOT Milk

Sorry dairy industry, the word is out: milk is just not that good for you.

This article highlights many of the reasons why milk is not as health generating as you may think. Simply put, the protein molecule (casein) in cows milk is 300 times larger than that of human milk, rendering them indigestible and causing acidity and mucus buildup in the body (ever notice how young kids often get runny noses, colds and ear infections?). Even worse is this milk is then homogenized (molecules are altered so milk doesn’t separate) and pasteurized, making it even more difficult to digest!

There’s tons of information out there, but you check out this short article with my most favorite author, Natalia Rose, this article and this website for tons more info.

I know its shocking at first. I mean my generation and I have been bombarded with Got Milk ads our whole lives! But once it settles in and you really think about it, do humans give their breast milk to kittens? And vice versa: would you drink cat milk? Or dog milk? So why cow’s milk??

But hey, good news to all the cow milk weaned bebehs, there’s a delicious alternative – almond milk! I’m sure you all have seen it more prominently on store shelves, I know I have. As simple as it is, I never tried making my own until now. And it makes a huuuge difference. After comparing the homemade version to a mainstream brand like Silk or Blue Diamond, the latter tastes gummy.

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 Here is the version I made, but homemade almond milk is basically 1 part almonds to 4 parts water, blended and strained. That’s it!

Homemade Creamy NOT Milk 

1 cup almonds (if you have raw almonds, even better!)*

1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (feel free to omit, I just used it because I prefer a richer, creamier, “whole milk” texture)

3 cups filtered water ( I did it for the creaminess, but add another cup if you normally like 2% 😉 )

1 medjool date, pitted

Sprinkle of sea salt

Splash of vanilla

*It is recommended to soak almonds for 4-6 hours. Almonds have enzyme inhibitors in their skin making them a bit difficult to digest. Soaking them not only releases these enzymes, but also makes them easier to digest, therefore increasing nutrient absorption!

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Random coconut-iness

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  1. Put all ingredients in a blender.
  2. Blend til you cant blend no mo’ !
  3. Just kidding, but really you should blend until all the ingredients are liquefied.
  4. Using a nut milk bag, paint strainer, or a fine mesh strainer (which I used), strain mixture. If you are using a fine mesh strainer it could get a bit messy…

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Yum…

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Delicious globs..

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It gets better

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 and messier..

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But then you have the final result! So pretty and SO worth the effort. Creamy, frothy, almond milk. Pairs deeelish-ously with Flourless Chocolate Cake!

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And don’t forget to make your corniest cliché “Got Milk?” face.

x

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Hey strangers!

It has been so busy lately with the spring semester coming to an end. Only 3 weeks left…and 3 semesters left til graduation! It can’t come soon enough. I feel like as soon as I finish studying for one test, another one pops up. They are like little monsters…

Anyways, today I said screw it…I’m not doing anything scholarly related! (And hoped my homework did itself).

I know its so stereotypical, but I love being in the kitchen. Its just so fun experimenting! I feel like it gets my creativity going, even though painting or learning a new language involves way less calories…

But who cares. So I made a cake!

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I went all out — well sorta. Over the past few weeks I’ve been gradually phasing out grains and processed sugar. A coworker and I decided to do a green smoothie diet, for a month! I can’t say I didn’t have a few cheat days, but that makes it sustainable, right? It’s lot easier than you would think. The diet basically goes: green smoothie for breakfast, raw vegetables at every meal, emphasizing the vegetables and eliminating the processed grains, red meat, soy, refined sugar, and junk. Best part? No calorie counting! However, since I’ve always been a sweet tooth, I wanted something a little more than a green smoothie today. Don’t worry… these desserts fall within the diet!

I don’t use measuring tools and I tend to eyeball, so the measurements are approximate!

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Flourless Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache (Grain-free and no refined sugar)

For the Cake:

½ cup 100% chocolate squares*

3 tbsp coconut oil

1 tbsp raw honey + more to taste, if needed

¾ cup raw coconut nectar (you could probably use maple syrup, stevia or more raw honey to sweeten it)

3 organic, free range eggs

1 tsp vanilla

Cocoa powder (for dusting the pan)

For the Ganache:

¼ cup of coconut milk

1 tsp coconut oil

1/3 cup of 100% chocolate squares*

1 tbsp raw honey + more to taste, if needed

(*I just used 100% cacao because I wanted to be in control of how much sweetener I put in it, but feel free to use semi-sweet or dark chocolate baking chips or bars!)

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Using a double boiler, (or just boiling water and putting a glass bowl over the steam) melt chocolate squares, coconut oil and raw honey. Keep mixing until it is all melted together evenly. Take off stove and let it cool for 5-10 minutes while you prepare step 2.
  3. Mix eggs, raw coconut nectar, and vanilla. Once chocolate mixture is cooled off enough (make sure it is definitely cool enough so the eggs don’t cook in the chocolate mixture!), slowly stir in egg mixture. Beat it up until it is all incorporated. It should be a smooth, velvety texture.
  4. Line a baking pan (I actually only had a cast iron skillet on hand, so I suppose you could use whatever) with cocoa powder. Pour in mixture.
  5. Place in oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the center can be poked with a fork and comes out clean.
  6. IMAG4462When cake is finished, start making the ganache using the same method you did in step 2 (double boiler or glass bowl over boiling water).
  7. Melt chocolate, coconut oil and honey. When it is all melted, slowly add in coconut milk. Stir until it is all evenly incorporated.
  8. You may keep the cake in the pan you used to bake it in, but I transferred mine to a plate. Then pour the ganache over the cake, using a spoon or spatula to evenly spread it over.

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Although it tastes a lot better letting it chill in the fridge for an hour or two, I just had to try it immediately (it was quality control okay?).  It is sooo rich and decadent, its actually hard to overeat! I put half of the cake in the freezer so I could have something to look forward to for weeks to come.

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To all my fellow students, I encourage you to reward your efforts with this cake. To everyone else, enjoy!

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Oh, and don’t forget to smile 🙂

xo

Newman’s Own Organic Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Peanut butter and chocolate are like a steamy love affair – so wrong but it feels so right. I mean, who doesn’t feel a little guilty when eating a slice of peanut butter chocolate pie, or a peanut butter chocolate cheesecake? Seriously, it’s just too good. Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so either.

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I mean chocolate and caramel? Child’s play. Chocolate with nuts? Innocent. Chocolate cups with a gooey peanut butter center!? Just plain raunchy.

Taste: A
These ain’t your mainstream Reese’s peanut butter cups.As soon as I bit into this bad boy I was greeted by a gooey, salty, rich peanut butter filling.

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Hello gorgeous!

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Not too dark chocolate melded with luscious creamy peanut butter, you already know I’m giving this an A. Biased? Maybe.. 🙂

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Presentation: C
Okay I am pulling myself out of this peanut butter chocolate covered daydream and giving this a C. Standard packaging is a bit boring.

Price: A
I love how they give you 3 cups, because I’m so used to only getting two from Reeses! So it was a pleasant surprise when I opened the package. But keep in mind these are smaller cups, so I think it may balance out. Every grocery store I’ve been to had them for $1.99, which I don’t think is a large price to pay for a little chocolate peanut butter bliss.

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I like to play with my food.

Ethical Bonus! I’ve taken this straight from the Newman’s Own Organics website:

Newman’s Own Organics has made a commitment with the launch of our new chocolate bars and cups to pay a premium above and beyond the current market price for Certified Organic Cocoa Beans that is tied to the Fair Trade market price of Organic Cocoa Beans.

www.rainforest-alliance.org

The USDA Organic Seal assures that at least 95% of the ingredients are organically certified.

The Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal guarantees that the cocoa used in our Signature Series was grown on farms that meet comprehensive standards for sustainable farming, protecting soil, waterways and wildlife habitat as well as the rights and welfare of workers, their families and communities.

newmans own pb chocYay!

Sexy Green Shake

What makes this shake so sexy? (Besides the fact that its dribbling down my chin oh so seductively…)

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The awesome ingredients! I’ve been drinking a green drink every day for the past week or so and am feeling amazing! My energy is a lot more sustainable and it keeps me satisfied for hours. Yesterday it was all I had until 8 pm at night, and I was still able to go to class, lacrosse practice and a two mile run!

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Normally when I make my green shakes it is fruit + greens. But one day I ran out of fruit! So I had to get resourceful and scoured my kitchen for something I could throw in the blender with my lonely spinach. Then I came across my green matcha tea powder and remembered how much I used to love those green tea frappucinos that Starbucks has.

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And alas! The sexy green shake was born.

I decided to add sunflower seed butter because I like how it adds a rich, creamy, consistency to the shake, but feel free to omit it! (PS – Sunflower seed butter is delicious and a great peanut butter substitute if you are looking for one. You can barely taste the difference between the two!)

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Ingredients:

1 cup almond milk

1 cup ice

1 tbsp sunflower seed butter

1 glorious handful of baby spinach

1 tbsp green matcha tea powder (I used the Gotcha Matcha brand, very good quality)

Pinch sea salt or pink himalayan salt

2 pinches of stevia powder (I recommend NuNaturals)

Blend all ingredients until you have reached your desired consistency!

 

Reader Feedback: Is there a food you eat daily that makes you feel truly great, satisfied, and sexy?

Divine’s Fruit and Nut Dark Chocolate

I’ve been on a roll with Divine’s chocolate lately…it was on sale at Wegmans, and then while I was walking to class the other day, I noticed my university was offering it in vending machines! And for how much? Two bucks! So tight. Best believe I stocked up on that.

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Taste: A

Ever so slightly lighter (at 68% cocoa minimum) than my usual 70% dark chocolates, this was smooth and sweet (sweeter for a dark chocolate lover). The almonds added a crunchy texture and the sweetness of the currants cut the bitterness of the dark cocoa. It was a bit softened because it was kept in my backpack in my warm car, but I think that actually helped! The bar wasn’t melty, but bendy…if you have ever experienced that with your chocolate. Haha. I think I might have a new way to enjoy chocolate. Anyways, I certainly recommend this crunchy, fruity bar to anyone!

I mean, just look at that texture…

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Look at it!!

Presentation: A

Like I’ve said in my previous reviews of Divine’s chocolate, this is no different.

Price: A/B

Well, if you go to a college that sells this chocolate in a vending machine for $2 bucks, then you got yourself a nice deal pal. However, I have a feeling most of you lovely readers will be getting this from a supermarket, where it ranges from $2.50-$4.

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Ethical Bonus!

Divine’s slogan is “Heavenly Chocolate with a Heart” and as I stated earlier the script within the wrapper not only explains how the company was started, but also how it is a Fair Trade Certified company.

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One more time 🙂

Reader Feedback: Have you tried any of Divines chocolate? Tell me what you think of them.

Wegman’s 72% Dark Chocolate

I always have emergency chocolate on hand. My coworkers always make fun of me, but seriously, you never know when you might have an uncontrollable chocolate craving! To prepare for those special emergencies, I like to stock up on affordable, dark chocolate, such as Wegman’s 72% bar.

Taste: B

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Although this is 2% more cocoa then the Divine’s dark chocolate bar’s I’ve reviewed in the past, I feel like I can taste the sweetness a bit more. Maybe because the quality of the cocoa is not as high? Or possibly because there is a hint of vanilla? Or both. Anyhow, I think the bit of vanilla really helps accentuate the sweet side of this chocolate. This chocolate is easy on the palate, and not too bitter, which is surprising for its cocoa content. It’s hard to explain how I can taste the difference in quality though, but I’ll try: think of those cheap, foil wrapped, dollar store chocolates you might get for Easter compared to a Godiva. Don’t take it the wrong way though! This bar is not like that bland Easter chocolate…the quality is just different, catch my drift? If you are used to dark chocolate, you might like this. If not, maybe give it a try, it’ll only set you back $2 bucks.

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Only five ingredients. I love seeing this on ANY food label – the simpler the better.

 

Presentation: C

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I like the effort with the Mona Lisa, but lets be honest, its sorta blah, and just not my style.

 

Price: A

$1.99 for a 3oz. bar, score!

 

Reader Feedback: Have you ever tried Wegmans 72% Dark Chocolate? If so, tell me what you think!