DIY Dark Chocolate Chips

March 26, 2014 | Posted in Eating Well, Kitchen Tips | By

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DIY Dark Chocolate Chips

Dark chocolate has numerous health benefits because it has less sugar and retains more of the nutritional value of pure cacao – it’s unfortunate, then, that it’s impossible to find chocolate chips darker than 70% cacao.   I’ve looked.  And looked.  And looked. Don’t compromise on quality.  Instead, buy your favorite dark chocolate bar from the store (this one is 88% cacao) and chop it into rough chunks using a butcher knife.  It’s DIY Dark Chocolate Chips.

DIY Dark Chocolate Chips - VERY dark chocolate! Create a Healthier Option With This Easy Tip

The most common “very dark” grocery store brands are Green & Black, Endangered Species and Lindt.  However, you can find a host of options on Amazon.  I prefer 85% Cacao, but you can even try 90% and 99% (if you’re very adventurous).  I use sweeter Cacao (as in, a lower percentage of cacao and higher percentage of sugar) when I have an unsweet dough.  85% is great for unsweetened waffle or pancake batter, for instance.  Sometimes I use 90% when the batter is sweet, such as when we make chocolate chip cookies.  Mix it up and see what you like!

A word of caution:  The darker the chocolate, the higher the theobromine (TBR) content.  TBR is a stimulant that acts similarly to caffeine.  I made the mistake of making my son very dark chocolate cake pops for his second birthday.  He ate two cake pops and was up until 11 PM.  A local chocolate shop, Cao Artisanal chocolates, makes chocolate straight from the bean to the bar.  I often have difficulty sleeping after I visit their chocolate bar.  Of course, we always end up there at the end of date night… around 9 PM!  We should try to go there earlier. My mistake.  Use with caution!!!

I hope you enjoy the freedom of your very own DIY Dark Chocolate Chips.

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Keep Greens Fresh With This Tip

Keep Greens Fresh | Relay Foods

February 3, 2014 | Posted in Kitchen Tips | By

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Do you stock your refrigerator full of greens only to find them wilting before you’re able to use them? It’s a struggle to keep greens fresh, especially if you grocery shop weekly or every two weeks.  There’s nothing more frustrating than wasted produce.

 

Keep Greens Fresh Longer | Total Lifestyle Management

Keep Greens Fresh

Cut down on wilting by storing your greens in water in your refrigerator.  The leafy greens will drink the water through the stems.  That way, you can keep green fresh the same way as a bouquet of flowers.  Store your greens on a shelf or even on the kitchen table if you don’t have a refrigerator.  They will still keep very well.

Kale, chard, and collards all fit nicely into a vase.  Larger pitchers are convenient for larger bundles, or for fitting two bundles at once.  This trick even works for leeks and fresh herbs like cilantro, parsley, dill, basil and thyme!!  The toughest part is rearranging your refrigerator shelves to accommodate the height of the arrangement.  Once you master that, then you’ll be set.

I love that I get to enjoy my beautiful vases more often.  I also had several “useless” vases from flower deliveries that are now receiving new use.  Who knows, maybe you’ll find that you enjoy putting “green arrangements” on your table as a centerpiece!  I really do find them beautiful.

You might consider trimming the stems of the greens before you put them into the vase, just as you would with flowers.  Cutting the stems under water will expose fresh vascular flesh (to take up water) without introducing air bubbles into the plant.  Air bubbles can stop the leaves from receiving water and make them wilt.

Have you tried this?  I would love to see your photos!  Tag me on instagram (@laurensfitcoach) or leave a comment on facebook!

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The Best Kale Salad Tip Ever

November 16, 2013 | Posted in Kitchen Tips | By

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I am going to help you make the best kale salad ever. If you’re anything like me then you’ve been wondering what’s UP with kale salads.  I see magazine articles and recipes with luscious looking pictures but, frankly, I’ve never made a good kale salad.  The leaves are always so tough that I don’t enjoy them.  Instead, I end up with a toothache or a jaw ache because the kale is so tough I can’t chew it.  I’ve only been using kale in cooked dishes.  Well, prepare to have your mind blown.

The Best Kale Salad Tip Ever. Kale Salad That Doesn't Make Your Jaw Hurt - Total Lifestyle Management

You need to massage your kale after you add the dressing.

Roll up your sleeves, get your hands in there and massage those leaves.  It helps to break the cell walls of the leaves down and makes them more tender.  Technical term: A Massaged Kale Salad.  I tried it the other day and WOW… what a difference a good massage makes.

Different species of kale have different qualities to the leaves:  traditional green kale and purple kale are fairly thick, so they definitely need to be massaged.  Italian kale is often finer and may not need to be massaged.  I usually stick to regular green kale because it’s less expensive.

For best results, make sure you’re using a dressing with an acidic component like vinegar or lemon.  Try to prepare the salad and massage it at least 30 minutes before you make it, so the leaves can “sit” in the vinegar or lemon and be further broken down by the dressing.

Other important tips to make the best kale salad ever:

  • Always remove the leaves from the stems and discard the stems.  The salad will be much more enjoyable.
  • Wash the kale thoroughly.  Greens tend to be dirty and no one wants a gritty mouth.
  • Use a salad spinner to get rid of all that water from washing.

 

 

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Foods to Freeze and Save on Groceries

September 4, 2013 | Posted in Budgeting, Kitchen Tips | By

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Do you know about these Foods to Freeze and Save?  Food goes bad.  Organic food tends to go bad even faster, making it hard to take advantage of sales and buying in bulk.  However, that shouldn’t mean that it goes to waste in your kitchen.  Save money on food by using your freezer to save items before they go bad or save bulk purchase items.  These are the top five foods to freeze and save.

Five Foods to Freeze and Save

Five Foods to Freeze and Save on Groceries

Foods to Freeze and Save: Freeze milk in paper cups, ice cube trays or baggies.

Freeze milk in paper cups, ice cube trays or baggies.

1.  Milk
Freeze leftover milk in 1/2 cup and 1 cup portions.  Freeze them in paper cups or in plastic baggies, depending on your preference for plastic-free food.  Thaw them for use in baking, homemade ice creams, sauces and more. Consider buying more milk when its on sale.

 

 

 

 

Foods to freeze and save: Thaw frozen eggs for baking.

Thaw frozen eggs for baking.

2.  Eggs
Freeze eggs (together or separated into whites and yolks) in ice cub trays, paper cups or plastic baggies.  Thaw them for baking and more.  Consider buying more eggs when they’re on sale.

 

 

 

 

Foods to freeze and save: Cut or shred cheese before freezing it

Cut or shred cheese before freezing it

3.  Cheese
Freeze extra cheese to use in dishes that require melted cheese, like omelettes, quesadillas, quiches and more.  Shred or cut the cheese prior to freezing.

 

 

 

 

 

Foods to freeze and save: Freeze remaining canned tomato paste and sauce.

Freeze remaining canned tomato paste and sauce.

4.  Tomato Paste
Nothing is worse than needing just one tablespoon of tomato paste for a recipe but needing to open an entire can to get it.  Two weeks later, you reach into the back of the fridge and realize that the tomato paste has molded over.  Instead, freeze the remainder of the can in 1 tbsp increments.  Use ice cube trays or plastic baggies to freeze the tomato paste.

 

 

 

Foods to freeze and save: Organic produce goes bad faster, so freeze it to save it!

Organic produce goes bad faster, so freeze it to save it!

5.  Fruits and Vegetables
Save your fruits and veggies before they go bad by adding a “Fridge check” to your post-dinner routine; survey your refrigerator for any produce that seems like it’s going to waste and chop it up before it’s too late.  Store in easy-to-use portions for your favorite recipes.

I hope you enjoyed these tips for foods to freeze and save.  Make sure you leave a comment and check out my pinterest for more great ideas!

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