Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Things I Am Loving This Week

After a two-week absence, I am happy to finally have some "Things I Am Loving This Week" to share. It's all food this week--a little sweet, a bit nutty and some savory/healthy too.

I have to confess that I bought another cookbook the other day--so much for my "stop buying cookbooks" goal. ;-) It was with a 40% off coupon and I find it very hard to resist those sale prices. Anyway, it is Alicia Silverstone's "The Kind Diet"--all about the reasons for changing to a plant-based diet, and it contains some very interesting and delicious-looking recipes. If you have caught Alicia making the talk show circuit, she always seems to be handing out her Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups and since I love peanut butter cups and they looked so darn good, I decided they would be the first recipe I tried.

Alicia says, "Back in the day, I was obsessed with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Now I make this healthier version and they are way better. In fact, I think they are the most ridiculously delicious things in the entire world. Look for graham crackers that are naturally sweetened or low in sugar (Health Valley makes a good one), and store the leftover crackers or crumbs in an airtight container for future use."

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
"The Kind Diet" by Alicia Silverstone
(Makes 12)

1⁄2 cup Earth Balance butter
3⁄4 cup crunchy peanut butter (preferably unsweetened and unsalted)
3⁄4 cup graham cracker crumbs or 10 graham cracker squares
1⁄4 cup maple sugar or other granulated sweetener
1 cup grain-sweetened, nondairy chocolate or carob chips
1⁄4 cup soy, rice, or nut milk
1⁄4 cup chopped pecans, almonds, or peanuts

Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. (If You Care makes unbleached liners made from recycled paper). Set aside.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the peanut butter, graham cracker crumbs, and maple sugar and mix well. Remove the mixture from the heat. Evenly divide the mixture, approximately 2 tablespoons per cup, among the muffin cups.

Combine the chocolate and milk in another pan. Stir over medium heat until the chocolate has melted. Spoon the chocolate evenly over the peanut butter mixture. Top with chopped nuts. Place in the refrigerator to set for at least 2 hours before serving.

Notes/Results: Really good--they have a very similar taste and texture to a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, but with so much less processing in the ingredients you can feel good about eating them. I found everything I needed to make them at my local natural foods store, except since I had a container of date sugar, I used it in place of the maple sugar. They are very rich and a regular muffin tin size is a bit much for me in one sitting so I would make them in my mini muffin pans next time. A keeper recipe and a great way to solve a chocolate and peanut butter craving.

Speaking of peanut butter and nut butters in general, I was happy to find these individual packets of Justin's Nut Butters stocked in a couple of the stores here.

I used to order Justin's almond butter packets and have them shipped here because they are so perfect for traveling and eating on the go. Each packet has 32g (1.15 oz) of nut butter and you just "knead and squeeze" them.

They are great with apples or bananas, carrots, oatmeal, bagels, really any time you want to add some portable protein to a snack or meal. (There is 6g of protein in the almond butter and 7g in the peanut butter). They come in a variety of flavors; classic honey, cinnamon, maple (my favorite) and chocolate. There are also smaller 1 Tablespoon / 100 Calorie packs too. I love the convenience of these and the different flavors.

Finally, I continue to play around with trying different raw foods recipes and saw this one in for a vegan, raw Caesar Dressing in "The Art of Raw Living Food" by Doreen Virtue and Jenny Ross and had to try it. I love the flavor of a good Caesar salad and wanted to see if the combination of ingredients would give that same taste.

The book says, "This is an amazingly delicious raw, vegan Caesar-style dressing that can be enjoyed on top of any salad or used as a marinade on vegetables or pasta dishes. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 7 days."

Caesar Dressing
"The Art of Raw Living Food" by Doreen Virtue & Jenny Ross
(Makes 2 Cups)

8 oz cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup pine nuts
juice of 2 lemons
2 cloves garlic
1/8 cup dulse leaves or flakes
1 tsp Himalayan salt

Blend all ingredients well in a high-powered blender until rich and creamy dressing forms. Add a dash of cayenne pepper for an extra kick!

Notes/Results: Surprisingly good and satisfying and tastes pretty close to the real thing. The combination or garlic and dulse flakes (dulse is an edible algae/seaweed, low in sodium and high in vitamins), adds that Caesar flavor and the pine nuts make it thick and almost creamy. I enjoyed it on a shrimp and romaine salad (neither raw nor vegan), as a dip for some carrots and red pepper slices and will have no problem using up the rest of it this week. I love when experiments in the kitchen work out so well--I would make this again.

So there you have it--these are the "Things I Am Loving This Week."

How about you? What are you enjoying?


  1. I'm on a peanut butter binge at the moment - so I am very keen to try those peanut butter cups!

  2. mmm may have to make some pb cups of my own!

  3. I don't think I tell you enough how much I love you. But I do.

    Those peanut butter cups look fantastic! Reese's are my ultimate weakness. Need to try them!

  4. I saw Alicia on Rachel Ray awhile back and was curious about her book. The peanut butter cups look delicious. I think the problem would be not eating all of them:D I also love the little nut butter packages and would love to try the maple flavored one.

  5. Deb, all of these items look terrific. I will definitely watch out for Alicia's cookbook and Justin's Nut Butters. Both will definitely help me to eat healthier.

    Great idea list, thanks....

  6. What a yummy things I am loving!
    I am making these pb cups for Mel - yum!

  7. I'm thrilled with all the recipes. They look and sound wonderful. Now on to reserve the book at the library. Have a great day.

  8. Everything looks great! Alicia's book is on my list to buy. Good to know you like it!

  9. I love that almond butter in maple. Yum! Alicia Silverstone's book and that recipe really sparked my interest. I wasn't too impressed with her on Oprah because I felt like a lot of the foods she was talking about where still processed. However, I'm sure there are still plenty of great recipes in there. I'll have to look it up.

  10. Those peanut butter cups look too good to be healthy :)

  11. oooh yum!!! Peanut Butter and Chocolate are one of my most favorit-ist combos!

  12. I was going to buy The Kind Diet too. I had it in my cart on Amazon and then changed my mind after reading some of the reviews. I think I am going to order it - after seeing these PB cubs - my favorites! The Caesar dressing sound good too.

  13. No joke, I am drooling right now. Those look so good. I'm sorry Reese's I have a new best friend.


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