German Chocolate Protein Brownies

FACT:
Did you know that German Chocolate Cake has nothing to do with Germany? that was actually created by an American? Yeahhhhh ‘Murica. We come up with the best stuff, I swear.
In the 1850’s a man named Samuel German created a dark chocolate especially for baking, and the manufacturing company named it after him: “German’s Baking Chocolate”.
Well, somewhere along the years that “s” came off the title, and the traditional chocolate cake with coconut-pecan frosting that we know and love became known as German Chocolate Cake.

While my brownies are a stretch on the original concept, the idea is similar, which is why I kept the title. Just in case there are any foodies out there currently scoffing at my dessert for lack of authenticity… consider that opening paragraph my disclaimer.

Anyway. Here’s a picture to distract you from your judging:

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ANOTHER FACT:
The brownie itself is Paleo! Usually I use a whey/casein protein blend in my recipes, but this time I opted for a plant-based protein.
Also, I used one of my favorite flavored nut butters for the frosting, but if you sub what I used for plain cashew butter, then the entire recipe is Paleo! You know, exactly like a caveman would have baked it. Obviously.

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OKAY JUST ONE MORE FACT:
The base for this is made with avocado.
AVOCADO.
(wait what)
Chill. It does not taste anything like avocado. I added way too much chocolate in there for that. What the avocado does is make these brownies so soft and incredibly fudge-like that it’s impossible to believe there’s an entire one hiding in there. Plus you get the added benefits of healthy fats, potassium and fiber. You’re welcome.

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Are you seeing this crazy fudgey-ness right now???

Bone Broth: The Best Thing Ever

I am a huge fan of finding natural ways to maintain and heal my body, especially ones that don’t require half my salary.

Anyone else feel me on this?

In a world full of medications and expensive treatments, I like to focus on preventative measures rather than running my body into the ground and then looking for a drug to fix what might have been avoided altogether. While my lifestyle choices may not always be “mainstream”, they are certainly all done with this goal in mind. I am not perfect by any means, but this is extremely important to me and something I strive to help others find for themselves as well.

When I started making bone broth, I knew it was about to change my whole game. And it seriously has. If you’re sitting there wondering why or how, please, read on, because it turns out all of our grandmas and their magic chicken soups were definitely onto something…

My Top 4 Reasons Why Bone Broth Is the Best Thing Since… Ever.

  1. Makes your joints feel as smooth as eggs.
    Yep, that was my Dave Chappelle reference for the day. If you didn’t get it, don’t worry about it.
    Anywho…
    The proper function of our joints depends greatly on something called collagen: the most important protein in connective tissue, skin, ligaments, tendons and on the end of our bones. Bone broth contains glucosamine, which stimulates certain cells to lay down more collagen in the joints, therefore eliminating pain, reducing inflammation, and providing better joint lubrication.
    Hell yeah. All good things.
    “But couldn’t you just buy a glucosamine supplement?” Sure. But the glucosamine found in bone broth is digestion resistant which means we absorb it in its intact form, which is always better than supplementing.
    Also, if you want healthier hair and nails and smoother, firmer skin, collagen is going to be your new best friend.
    Basically, bone broth makes you look and feel super sexy.
  2. Repairs the gut lining and promotes gastrointestinal health.
    Let’s be honest, most of you reading this right now are experiencing some sort of gut issue: gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, food allergies or sensitivities, or maybe even an autoimmune disease.
    The best nutrient to solve these problems is gelatin, which is the cooked, gelatinous  form of collagen extracted from the bones. It’s the stuff that makes the bone broth wiggle like jello when refrigerated.
    Gastrointestinal health is incredibly important, and often overlooked. Your gut lining is meant to be slightly permeable in order for nutrients to pass through; however, the stress of modern society (technology, traffic, long work hours, stupid people, etc) creates excessive permeability, causing larger food particles to pass through the lining and wreak havoc in your body. The particles are attacked by your immune system and flagged as a danger, creating things like allergic reactions and food sensitivities.
    Read: your body starts to fight itself.
    When your body is in attack mode, it causes inflammation. This chronic inflammation is what causes damage to things like your metabolism, thyroid, digestion… not good.
    So think of your gut like a window screen; it’s meant to let air through and keep bugs out. When the gut is damaged, that’s like punching holes in the screen. Not exactly effective anymore. Bone broth helps repair the screen again.
  3. Provides amino acids.
    Bone broth is a great source of certain amino acids that are difficult to get from diet alone. You may not recognize all of these names, but pay attention to what they do for you:
    Proline – Helps with skin elasticity and smoothness, and prevents arteries from stiffening.
    Glycine – Used for blood sugar regulation as well as muscle growth/repair by regulating creatine and Human Growth Hormone secretions.
    Glutamine – Removes waste (like ammonia) from the body, synthesizes proteins (the muscle building process), and helps repair the gut lining.
  4. Helps get toxins out of the body.
    Did you know your liver is the detox mecca? This vital organ works 24/7 as a toxin filtration system, but stress and poor lifestyle choices will seriously hinder your liver from being able to effectively do its job. It’s ability to detoxify is reliant on the amino acid glycine. Hmm, does this word sound familiar (see reason #3)?

Pretty sweet, right?

You can buy pre-made bone broth at most natural food stores, but I love making my own because it’s super easy and much more cost efficient. If you think this is gross, buck up, because the benefits are absolutely worth it.

Here’s how I do it!

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Yummy, right?

Whenever I cook meat with bones in it (whole chickens, pork chops, etc) I always save the bones in the freezer. Things like necks and feet are GREAT for bone broth because they have so much cartilage.

For this particular batch I used bones from two chickens, turkey backs and necks, and one pigs foot. I’ve also used pork bones and chicken feet in the past, it all depends on what I’ve cooked, and some things (like the feet) I pick up at the farmers market or Whole Foods or Sprouts.

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Chicken and Turkey Bones with Pigs Foot

 

After I put all the bones in the crock pot, I pour chicken stock over everything. You can use store-bought chicken, vegetable or beef stock, just add some chopped onion and carrots to the pot as well.

Whenever I cook whole chickens, I always save the leftover stock (liquid and veggies) and freeze it. I can use it later as a soup base, or for making bone broth. The stock has all sorts of herbs and vegetables in it from when I cooked the chicken, which adds to the rich flavor of the broth.

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Bones and Stock

Next, fill the crock pot with water until it just covers the bones.
Set the pot on low and let cook for 18-22 hours.
Which basically means 20 hours.
But I have to leave a margin for liability purposes.
Kidding.

After 20-ish hours, it will smell amazing and look something like this:

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Strain all the bones through a large strainer, then throw them out. You’ll be left with just the liquid in the bowl.

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Now pour the remaining contents of the crock pot over a wire strainer. This will catch any remaining bone or cartilage particles.

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And now you are left with a rich, nutrient dense, dark-colored broth!

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Keep broth in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week. Once it gets cold, you will see the gelatin start to form and it will take on a jello-like consistency.

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Ways to use your super awesome broth:

  • Heat and drink plain out of a mug.
  • Use a spoonful of broth to sauté veggies or meat in on the stove.
  • Make a hearty soup with the broth as the base.

Enjoy!

Paleo Blueberry Lemon Bread

Guess how many days I have been without coffee? THIRTEEN. Thirteen. Thirteeeeeeen. God bless.

Earlier this month I started my Food Sensitivity Elimination Cycle. Woah. Mouthful. Basically I eliminate inflammatory foods (ones I am sensitive/react to) from my diet, give my gut a chance to heal, and then gradually cycle them back in. During this process I take out caffeine while my gut is recovering. I do this whole process for 3-4 weeks and I always feel AMAZING afterward.

This time around, I took out egg yolks, beef, pork, chicken, butter, avocados and cashews. I already avoid most wheat, gluten, sugar and dairy, but for now I’m keeping my protein powders which are gluten-free but still whey-based.

Taking out coffee is always a struggle, though. Days 1-3 I am a complete zombie. Days 3-6 I have excruciating migraines. Then the magic happens around Day 7; I get my energy back and improved sleep quality and life feels almost normal again. Except that I’m without coffee. Which is not normal. But I only have about two weeks left… and then ALL THE CAFFEINE. Until then, it’s all the tea.

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Speaking of tea, this bread tastes like something I should be eating while sipping afternoon tea on the patio. It’s just so summery, sweet, dainty and wonderful, you know?

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