We made it through another year! As a side note, I’ve now officially passed the one year mark of bloggerdom! (is that a thing? Sure it is 😉 ). To be perfectly honest, I did not think I had it in me to post weekly for a month let alone a whole year, so huzzah to me! (which is what the knights of old (or “ye olde knights” if you prefer) would be saying if I could transport the internet back to the middle ages…either that or they’d be saying “what is this demon device???!!! She’s a witch, a witch I tell you!!!” FYI – they would be right. I’m still waiting for the day that wide brimmed black pointy hats come into style so that I can finally feel like myself again 😉 ).
In some ways, choosing to start a dessert blog in late December/ early January is the worst idea of all time. I mean, if this was bizzaro-opposite world whereby everyone’s New Year’s resolutions were actually some variation on the following:
- Self, you are way too active and really need to get yourself out of shape. Seriously, I know this has been your resolution for the last ten years of your life, but this time you’ve really got to knuckle down and do absolutely nothing in the way of moving your body. Ideas to help make this happen? Play “The Statue Game” for a minimum of 2 hours a day, stay in bed for an extra hour each morning (job be damned! This is your health we’re talking about here! 😉 ), get yourself a voice activated motorized cart to ride around in so that you don’t even have to move your hands to use it.
- Start using your credit card more. This particularly applies to overpriced items you think you don’t need. For instance, that garden gnome wearing a sombrero you’ve been eyeing. I know you keep telling yourself that you really don’t need it, but you actually do. Just because you rent a room in someone’s apartment and don’t even have a yard, does not make this an unnecessary purchase, so please stop procrastinating on this one or you might miss out on buying it at full price and be instead forced to buy it on clearance later (*shudder*).
- All this kale and high fibre oatmeal you’ve been eating has really got to stop. I know that this one will be particularly difficult, but if you transition slowly you’ll find it to be easier than you think. For instance, those steel cut oats you’ve been eating for breakfast? Each morning add a few more crumbled up Oreos and a bit less oatmeal until, before you know it, you’re eating a bowl of cookies for breakfast every morning. You may need to look up some new sugar-laden and chocolate infused recipes (may I humbly suggest checking out www.sweetultimatums.com 😉 ), but with a little forethought and planning, your grocery shopping will be a snap (you might be able to get away with just visiting the sweets aisle, so it could actually save you time).
then this would actually be the best time to start a sugar bomb blog. So please, for my sake, stop making all these “healthy” resolutions or I might be forced to get out of the sugar business and into the kale chip business and nobody wants that (actually, I personally really love kale chips, so that was maybe a terrible example. Ummm…I’ll be forced to get into the frog juice business? (yes, that’s a real thing believe it or not – check this out). Not only does that sound like a terrible idea, but it’s also not vegan, involves cruelty to animals, is non-environmental because the “best” frogs are apparently a variety that is critically endangered. And, most importantly (and I really can’t stress this enough), ewww. Ewwww. Ewww. Ewww. How is this a thing?!!! Get it together people. I know I like a good pun and word play, but I just can’t abide renaming this the “Frog Blog” or possibly the “Bog Frog Blog”).
Ok, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, what I’m about to show you/ share with you will seem somewhat hypocritical, but I’ll explain. Because I know that despite my most strongly worded pleas, you’re probably still all thinking “Screw you Amber! What are you, the angel of death???!!! If I want to turn my health around who are you to tell me not to?? Jerk.” Firstly, doesn’t me trying to stop you from being healthy make you even more determined to be healthy? (see how I used reverse psychology there? 😉 ). And secondly, what I’m really trying to say here is that a) any health guru or nutritionist will tell you that removing all joy from your food eating experiences will not result in long term success, so stop making these things all or nothing, and b) to help you get started, I’m opting to prove to you here that, just like being delicious and incidentally vegan, dessert can also be manna from heaven and healthy as a footnote.
And on that footnote, this week, to kick the year off right, I’m bringing you my (as the hipsters would call it) antioxidant overload, superfood infused, New Year’s Bark (or, as I actually call it, “Chocolate Wino Crunch Bark”, but I didn’t think the health foodies would go for that name 😉 ). Everything in here has some sort of health property, but to me, that’s completely beside the point. It’s delicious and isn’t that what all food and dessert should be (especially dessert)?
In this corner, on the antioxidant front, we have dark chocolate, red wine, blueberries and cherries. In the superfood corner, we have toasted quinoa (which adds a deliciously crunchy texture and health-wise blah blah blah, is crazy protein rich (good for your gym workout resolutions), and choc full of fibre (good for your….ummm…eating more fibre resolutions 😉 ). Bonus ingredient? Coconut oil (which apparently also has antioxidants and can help in lowering your blood pressure).
I promise you that this is not one of those things where hard core health zealots who have clearly been eating cardboard their entire lives say “It’s so healthy for you and it’s good!” and then you eat it and instead wish that you had burned your taste buds off so that you would never be subjected to such awfulness again. I have standards here people, and all my recipes are vetted by a third party taste tester (I would’ve ideally used the cookie monster for this purpose, but it turns out you’ve gotta book that guy years in advance. So Kevin steps in for me instead 😉 ).
Happy New Year Everyone! Fingers crossed my discipline can make it through another year of blog posting 🙂
Yield: 20-25 pieces of bark
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips (or chopped vegan dark chocolate)
- 3 tablespoons room temperature red wine
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 3 tablespoons chopped unsweetened dried blueberries
- 3 tablespoons chopped unsweetened dried cherries
- 1/3 cup toasted quinoa
- sea salt (optional)
- (Optional, but I highly recommend). Soak the cherries and blueberries in wine for a few hours, or overnight. Strain through a strainer pressing with the back of a spoon to get out as much of the moisture as you can. Pat down with paper towel as well to remove excess liquid. Reserve the leftover wine to use as part of your “3 tablespoons of red wine”, or just drink it (it becomes a delicious cross between red wine and not too sweet fruit wine, so you might just want to drink it 🙂 ). Set aside.
- To toast quinoa, add pre-rinsed quinoa (either by making sure the quinoa you’re using comes pre-rinsed, or rinsing it yourself by soaking in water for a few minutes until the saponin or soapy residue comes out and then straining) to a sauce pan set to medium-high heat. Toast, stirring occasionally with a spatula for 5-6 minutes, or until quinoa starts to brown and starts popping. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- In a medium, microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate chips, red wine and coconut oil.
- Melt in the microwave for 30-40 seconds. Remove and stir until chocolate and liquids have combined and become smooth (it might seem at first like the chocolate has seized, but don’t worry, keep stirring and it should turn out fine). If you find it’s really not melting, put back in the microwave for 10 second intervals.
- Stir the toasted quinoa into the chocolate.
- Line a baking pan with parchment or wax paper and pour the chocolate quinoa mixture onto the paper. Using a spatula or the back of a spoon, spread into a 14 x 10 inch rectangle. Sprinkle the top with blueberries, cherries and coarse sea salt.
- Refrigerate until firm and cut or break into pieces. Store in the refrigerator.