Recipe: Choco love bark

[glorious mouth-watering photo of dark chocolate sprinkled with slivered almonds in a heart shaped pan here… yeah, my camera is broken…]

–Quick note: I say “stupid simple ___” not because anybody is stupid. I just like making things as simple and easy and fun as possible. Chronic illness is none of those things. But to me, “stupid simple” is. Balances stuff out in my brain. Hope my weird sense of humor is okay.–

Choco love bark

Don’t worry about this chocolate. It’s nothing like your childhood Halloween spoils. It loves you back. Adapted from the INCREDIBLE recipe by Angela at Oh She Glows.

Stupid Simple Ingredients
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
2 tsp raw honey (just what I have… feel free to use any form of sugar you’d like)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa powder (you could use cacao powder, or whatever fancy thing you need to use/can afford. i’m currently good with regular cocoa powder from Aldi)
sprinkle of salt
1/2 cup nuts, your preference (I used slivered almonds, but forreal, you could use pretty much anything. you could even add dried apricots or something. go wild!)

Stupid Simple Tools
medium bowl
whisk
baking sheet (or glass dish, or something like it. whatever’s clean, really)
wax paper (I’ll try foil and parchment paper for you and see if that works too)

Stupid Simple Steps

  1. Melt coconut oil and honey.
  2. Whisk in vanilla and cocoa powder until you have a gloriously smooth chocolate mixture.
  3. Place wax paper on baking sheet.
  4. Pour glorious chocolate mixture onto paper.
  5. Sprinkle salt over the chocolate, and then sprinkle on the nuts
  6. Freeze for 5 minutes, probably less, ’til it’s hard and you can break it apart and EAT IT!!

***

Sugar is evil.

Oh sure, its tasty. And in reasonable amounts, especially if you’re not already sick, it’s not going to hurt you.

But if you’re like me, struggling with chronic illness, and can’t resist binging sugary foods, it compounds your inflammation and messes up your insulin levels. The resulting metabolic disease and aggravation of whatever else ya got going on is the ultimate Faustian deal:  sell your health for sweet.

Literary allusions aside, sugar is much more dangerous than we’ve all been led to believe. And “natural” or unrefined sugars can do the same damage.

In addition to avoiding allergens, most people I know also feel much better avoiding excessive amounts of added sugar. The American Heart Association recommends eating no more than 28 grams a day, which, in American cooking terms, amounts to only 6 teaspoons. Not very much, given how many “healthy” recipes and packaged foods are spiked with sugar. I don’t even buy cereal anymore, because the box is gone in less than two days.

Hence why today’s recipe exists. When I found Angela’s Oh She Glows recipe, I was initially disheartened by the sugar content. It happens a lot when I’m looking for a specific recipe, and keep finding ones with ingredients I can’t have. So I wondered:  if I just reduced the added sugar, would I have “dark chocolate”?

And oh yes, I did =)  Hope you enjoy!

***

 

Bonus:  Chattier Stupid Simple Steps, If You Like this Sort of Nonsense
1. If your kitchen isn’t burning hot like mine, so your coconut oil isn’t already melted, melt your coconut oil and honey. Stove is fine, or like, the microwave is easier. It’s gonna be okay. Whisk in the vanilla.

2. Add the cocoa powder little by little and whisk. Especially if you have only a tiny bowl like me. The mixture is gonna have the consistency and appearance of chocolate syrup, which is a feast in itself for your eyeballs.

3. Cover your baking sheet with wax paper (or, you know, whatever you have). It’s no big deal if it’s cut precisely to fit, or if the edges go beyond the pan. I’ve tried both ways, it’s cool.

4. Pour the chocolate mixture onto the paper. Save your effort for this step only. It does work best for the chocolate to sit on top of the paper, and not underneath. But if it happens, it just means you get to pick chocolate off the pan and eat it while you watch TV. Still a win.

5. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the chocolate, and then the nuts all over. Fun part! If you don’t like nuts, add none! If you love em, load it up!

6. Place in freezer. Coconut oil hardens almost immediately, so it’s probably ready already. But to be safe, you could time it for 5 minutes, or something.

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What’s on my plate?

If you or a loved one is in the thick of the food fight known as dietary restriction, I’m sure you’re very familiar with “safe lists.” If you have been as sick as I’ve been, you know that talking about foods on the safe list can often be easier than trying to rattle off all the foods on the unsafe list.

I remember when people first found out I’d been diagnosed with food allergies, they’d ask, “Oh, what are you allergic to?” Who knew such a seemingly simple question could yield such a complicated answer? After I got 2/3 through, the poor person would ask, with confused concern, “Well what CAN you eat?”

Now before I share my safe list, I want to make it 100% clear that this diet was recommended by my doctor because of my extreme eczema symptoms. My doctor also monitored me throughout my time on this diet. For your safety, before you make any changes to your diet, PLEASE first consult a doctor!

This food list is NOT MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not a cure for eczema. As I’ll explain in future posts, my eczema symptoms never fully cleared up in response to food elimination (not that it was unhelpful… more on that later).

PLEASE don’t cut foods out of your diet, or become afraid of foods! It’s a dangerous way to 1.) potentially develop an eating disorder (I nearly did!), or 2.) potentially starve your body of nutrients that it needs to heal.

Again, I’m not a doctor, and this isn’t medical advice. It’s just my experience.

So from November 2015 to May 2017, this is what I COULD EAT

Protein

  • fresh, flash-frozen Alaskan fish
  • buckwheat groats
  • home-toasted or boiled sunflower and pumpkin seeds
  • unsweetened hemp protein powder

Fats

  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Flaxseed
  • Chia seed

Fruits

  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Cherries
  • Peaches/Nectarines/Plums
  • Grapes
  • Apples

Vegetables

  • All, except for those in the nightshade family (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplants)

Grains

  • Rice
  • Gluten free oats
  • Amaranth
  • Sorghum

Needless to say, every meal took a lot of time, effort, and often money.  I had to re-imagine every meal. People without food allergies and sensitivities take for granted that they can always make a sandwich or scarf down a bowl of cereal in a pinch. If you are restricted, you know that it takes detailed planning just to stay fed.

That’s why I’m excited about this blog. I hope that the experiences I can share will help you and encourage you on your healing journey, even when it feels like a healing nightmare.

You can do this!! ❤  I’m praying for you right now, that you’d be encouraged and refreshed in your food fight!

“Fight Song” by Rachel Platten

“This is my FIGHT SONG–
TAKE BACK MY LIFE song–
Prove I’m all right song.
My power’s turned on,
Starting right now I’ll be strong.
I’ll play my fight song.
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes,
‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me.”

I’m hungry…

…for this:

silly piggies eat all the gluten and dairy and eggs and soy and corn and...

oink! oink! oink!

But there’s no way I can have it.

See, I’m on the other side of a delightful disease known as topical steroid withdrawal.

Long story, but the main thing you need to know is that for over a year, I’ve become allergic to or intolerant of most foods, including plenty of the “super” ones. Avocados. Mangoes. Grass fed beef. A big chunk of life was spent scrambling for nibbles while my list of safe foods dwindled til I could float it in a Cheerio innertube like in Honey I Shrunk the Kids. Thank God I never became anaphylactic, but I can definitely relate to anyone who has to navigate “normal” life with the burden of food restriction.

So now that life is currently a bit more manageable, I want to share what I’ve experienced and learned, as playfully and comedically as I can. God knows, the worst trigger of all is stress. I’ll also do my best to offer some perspective in the gentle, friendly way I know is so necessary while going through something so painful and confusing like this.

I also LOVE playing in the kitchen, but skill-wise, I’m a novice. So I’ll test out recipes and give you the real scoop on how they turn out. I am a firm believer in food that tastes good, looks foodlike, and is simple to make, no matter how short your food list is.

And while I believe fresh meals from scratch are healthiest… let’s be real. When you’re dealing with food restrictions, especially when it’s compounded with chronic illness, you just need to be fed. That’s why I’ll also taste test packaged convenience foodstuffs and give you my best analysis of the value vs. cost.

God forbid, I don’t claim to be an expert, and I’m not offering medical advice. I’ve been blessed to have a rockstar of a doctor, and a highly supportive community around me, and I just want to pass those blessings along. If you just need a place to vent, a place to laugh, or a place to be reminded that you’re doing the best you can, I hope I can offer some of that for you.

Much love,

Jaclyn, aka amicamea