Off White Living

More food. Less sugar. It's that simple

Archive for the tag “healthy eating”

moo juice

By request, I have written a brief dissertation on the in’s and out’s of eating dairy.  Recently my dear friend, soul sista and ayurvedic practitioner, Britt, asked me to harness my nutritional knowings and share some thoughts on the subject of consuming dairy.  Most of use consume dairy in the form of moo-juice and moo-juice derivatives like cheese, yogurt, ice cream, coffee cream, and just plain ol’ milk.  Here’s a little something that might help you decide whether or not dairy fits into your dietary ideals.

 First, let’s talk about the current recommendations to get three servings of dairy/day.  This is a result of two things:  A VERY powerful influence by the dairy industry (the National Dairy Council has bookoo bucks!) and also because dairy provides some basic elements that are essential to human health.  Eating dairy is a cheap way to get your calcium, Vitamin D, lean protein, potassium and magnesium.  These are not nutrients that most Americans get enough of.  Further, cultured dairy, like yogurt, offers up a pro-biotic benefit that can help keep your colon healthy.

 

For a while it was proposed that the calcium in dairy would help with weight loss.  This was not proven true in recent studies, but another thought is that the satiating elements of the protein and fat might reduce intake, and thus help with weight loss.  Recently calcium was linked with reduced risks of some cancers, such as colon cancer.  But here’s the deal:  Dairy is NOT the only way to get calcium, or these other minerals mentioned.  Not even close.  Some studies link dairy, in general, with increased risks of cancer and that may be due to the casein, it’s hard to say.

 

There are many great food sources of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and lean protein that don’t contain dairy.  Vitamin D,….well, that is a tough one.  Supplementation is a realistic option for those living in low light states (like the Pacific Northwest), and there is some Vitamin D in mushrooms grown under UV light and fortified foods.  Otherwise, no natural food sources exist, and hence dairy is an easy go-to for Vitamin D. (as are dairy replacements, such as rice, almond and soy milk).  Regarding calcium, you can get 20% of your daily calcium and about 15% of your daily iron needs from a serving of blackstrap molasses.  Strawberries, kale, collard greens, broccoli, tofu and a slough of other veggies and fruits contain significant amounts of calcium, and some of them contain magnesium and potassium as well.  The problem is that most folks don’t eat a lot of them, so again, dairy is any easy win when it comes to certain nutrients.

 

When it comes to the protein of dairy, we can learn a lot from the story of little miss muffit, who sat on her tuffet eating her curds and whey. Curds represent the casein (making up about 80% of dairy protein).  They curdle when exposed to acid, and solidfy (hence the curds). Casein contains most of the nutritive proteins in dairy, as they provide a complete protein (all the essential amino acids).  The whey is the liquid portion that is more prominent in the foam of cappuccino, and is less nutritive than the casein but has important nutrient transporter proteins and enzymes.  So, together the dairy proteins do some big jobs.

 

What becomes problematic is that, aside from lactose intolerance (which is about the milk sugar), many people have difficulty in digesting casein, and may not even know it.   That makes dairy the wrong choice for some people.  If you feel achy joints, constipation, mental fog or lethargy, or irritability, headaches or other symptoms after consuming dairy, you might have sensitivity to casein and it is best to avoid it.  Beware, casein is a binding agent in many foods that don’t otherwise look like dairy containing foods, so read labels ( calcium casein is a common one or caseinate).

 

Cow dairy is not the only dairy we consume.  Goat, sheep and yak dairy (okay, that one only applies if you are in the Himalyas), are also consumed by humans.  You can look to your ancestry to see whether or not you come from cow milk consuming cultures, such as northern Europe, or goat/sheep milk clans, such as in the Mediterranean.  You might consider eating more of your indigenous dairy sources, since it is likely your genes evolved to digest THAT diary (proteins) over other species.  Sheep and goat milk have more protein and less fat by weight than cow protein.  There isn’t a lot of research on their benefits or issues with them, so it’s hard to say if they are implicated in health issues.  Some anti-dairy advocates also say that even unpasteurized, organic dairy, is not worth the potential increased risks of cancer and lack of evidence on dairy helping with weight loss.

 

So, then what about protein supplements, such as whey protein supplements?  That is a HUGE topic and again, depending upon who you speak with, the opinion differs.   Has much research been done on the digestibility and health benefits of these supplements, side by side?  I haven’t seen much.  I do know that buying protein supplements that are just a bunch of single amino acids compiled together may be a waste of your money.  Why, you ask? Because many amino acids are digest as dimmers, meaning they want to be linked to one other amino acid.  When you isolate each one and get only monomers, such as in supplements, you may be paying for a less optimal product.  Why not use yogurt or some milk if you are going to make a protein smoothie with whey protein?    Also, colostrum is now being used as a new superfood in some proteins.  It is very energy dense, but again, the question remains whether or not this is a nutrient source humans need to consume.  Aside from newborns, colostrum is not a food source for growing humans, so we are probably fine with out.  No, we are definitely fine without it.  Other supplements include casein and whey, thus may be more reflective of what occurs naturally in milk, but watch the other additives.

 

In short, the story on dairy is that ‘it’s complicated’.  You have to ask yourself how you feel when you consume it?  Are you over-using dairy?  One thing is certain – eating more dairy and less grains/veggies/healthy fats is NOT the recipe for healthy living.  Watch serving sizes and quality of dairy sources.  Avoid rBST, the hormone used to make cows grow big and strong.  It’s banned in most of Europe and it’s easy to find rBST-free sources in the USA if you look. Buy organic when you can because you’ll get less exposure to pesticides and also because it is possible that pasture fed dairy contains more essential fatty acids, though that is not certain..  I also recommend buying dairy in opaque containers, as light can break down some of the nutrients.  Go organic, but remember that organic nutrients digest the EXACT same way is inorganic.  If you can find raw milk from a trusted source, aim for that, however this is location and cost prohibitive for most people.

Want another perspective on Dairy? Consider this article

A tale of two plates

New Plate symbol replaces the Pyramid

It was the best of meals…it was the worst of meals .

Last week the Federal Government debuted the new MyPlate as a replacement to MyPyramid, which was deemed confusing and irrelevant to most busy people who didn’t have time to decipher it.  According to the first lady, “..This is a quick, simple reminder for all of us to be more mindful of the foods that we’re eating and as a mom, I can already tell how much this is going to help parents across the country…… ” As long as they’re half full (the plates) of fruits and vegetables, and paired with lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy, we’re golden. That’s how easy it is.”

Hmm…is that so?  I challenge that the new MyPlate, while being an improvement on MyPyramid, is still not going to be the Country’s solution to unhealthy eating.

Let’s examine two potential meals that would both technically fall into the parameters of the MyPlate program and see what meal is better nutritionally.

Meal 1:  The budget-friendly, kid-friendly dinner
Vegetable: French Fries, cooked at home but from a frozen bag + 1 cup of “Iceberg Garden” salad from Fresh Express + 1 Tbsp of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing
Fruit: Canned Peaches, in lite syrup
Protein:  A breaded chicken breast, such as these boneless, breaded popcorn chicken bites by Tyson
Grain:  1 slice of Orowheat Honey Wheat Family  bread with a small pat of butter
Dairy:  Low-fat chocolate milk……it’s like having dessert with your dinner

Meal 2: A Foodie’s delight
Vegetable:  Local, organic asparagus, sauteed in clarified butter, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and slivered almonds
Fruit + Dairy: a sliced  organic apples paired with an assortment of imported soft cheeses
Grain:  1 slice of  whole grain Artesian French bread, with Olive oil and vinegar for dipping
Protein:  Pine nut encrusted Halibut with roasted onions

Are these two meals really that different?  I think the answer is “yes” and “no”.
First, how are they different.  Obviously one is made of predominately processed foods, and likely contains a slough of food additives, nitrates and poor quality base ingredients.  Can you guess which one?? Obvious, hopefully!  Also, meal #2 includes organic items, thus is likely to include less pesticide than meal #1.  The veggie in meal #1 isn’t likely to provide much in the way of nutritional value, and the bread probably doesn’t have a ton of whole grains.   There is more sugar in meal #1, some of which comes from added sugars versus just the sugars naturally occurring in fruits.  Also, in my opinion meal #2 seems a lot more delicious than meal #1, but of course I am biased since I made these two meals up.  You can probably think of your own differences too.

But, how are they the same – that is what is really interesting to me!
I would argue that neither one are exceptionally nutritious without some downfalls.  The downfalls in meal #1 seem obvious: processed food, lack of fiber, lack of “color”.  But meal #2 has probably the same amount of fiber and has a lot more fat than #1.  Yes, the fat may be from healthier (and more expensive) sources, but the caloric implications are not to be overlooked.  Also, both contain significant sources of saturated fats.   Both are heavy in animal products (by design, but this isn’t so uncommon for an American meal), and light in plant-based sources of nutrient dense food.  They are also void of variety in the vegetables included.  I’d argue that potatoes and onions have similar nutritional benefits (surprise, potatoes do have SOME nutritional value!), but of course asparagus, being ‘green’ and all, must have a lot more to offer than iceberg salad, right?  Yes, from a vitamin perspective, but not enough to necessarily offset the high volume of animal fat sources, and just the overall fat content in that dish.  I’d also argue that both meals contain a significant amount of sodium too.  Both grain sources are more refined than whole, despite what might be stated on the front of the package or in their respective names., this is usually the case with bread.

Still, in all I’d rather have meal #2 from a taste AND nutrition perspective.  And this is something that I would eat.  However, the point I’m trying to make is that there is still a lot to be considered when following the new MyPlate approach to balanced eating.  The nuances between types of protein, vegetables and grains can make significant differences in diet quality, weight and food behaviors.   I don’t think the average person can necessarily accurately evaluate the overall pros/cons of their meal JUST based on the proportions of each food type or just based on the cost of ingredients or regionality of their food.

Also, are we talking about a 12″ plate, a 10″ plate, or a platter?  This makes a HUGE difference in portion size!!
Oh, and my other ‘beef’ with this new system is the implication that we need to consume dairy at every meal.  Thanks Dairy Council………

self-check

Every now and again  it’s a good idea to take inventory.  You know, like how any good business pauses for a moment to take stock of what they have, but on a more personal level.  It never fails to baffle me how disconnected I (and others I know) can be from what we are really doing from what we think we are doing.  And no place is more susceptible  to this than the diet.
Let’s take me, for instance.  Before I went to Iceland I noticed Matt and I spending more and more money on groceries every week.  Why?  We did have a few special occasions, but even beyond that I was constantly running to the store.  It was little things, such as needing an extra 1/2 gallon of Almond milk mid-week or running out of bananas or needing to buy more Wasa bread by Thursday.  Mostly it was healthy food but still, it was MORE.

So I took a little inventory of what I was eating by way of a website called Spark People. It’s pretty cool and even better – it’s free.  You can record your food intake, your fitness but also set goals and even talk about what inspires you.  Being a busy person who is already on the internet far too often, I stuck with the basic tool of recording my exercise and food intake.

Good thing I did.  Here I thought my diet would be classifed as “high protein” and most days I wasn’t even getting the minimum 20% protein recommended.  So, that means the rest of the calories were divided up between fat and carbs, right?  Well, yes, but many days I was eating 35-40% fat!  Holy Smokes!  That is quite a bit, and what blew me away was how little I had to eat in order to tip that scale.  A spoonful of peanut butter in my oatmeal + 1/3 an avocado at lunch and a stir-fry made with Olive oil really adds up.  I’d say it was mostly healthy fat, but I would have guessed my diet to be 40% protein, 20% fat, and 40% carbs.  The recommendation for fat is about 30% of total calories.  Thus, if I took the other 5-10% and invested them in protein, I would have been more in balance.  Also, sometimes for me when I eat a food with fat, I’m also getting carbs (like oatmeal and peanut butter).  Protein is often last on my list of preferences, yet having lean protein makes my body food good.  Why did  I need a website to remind me of that??

I wish there was some little indicator I could buy that let’s me know when my proportions of food are out of whack…..oh wait, I do have those little indicators.  I had my excess grocery bill (which basically told me that we were just eating too much – and we were!).  I also had my energy levels and my digestion.  I was overeating too often and therefore feeling sluggish and I wasn’t so….err…..regular.

I suppose I’m sharing all of this with you because I thought I would be immune to the pitfalls of an imbalanced diet.  I mean, I am a “health professional” after all, spending my days studying the very topic that was slipping right under my nose. Ha!

Every lifestyle change program I’ve ever seen talks about the importance of documenting what you eat, drink and exercise.  It makes sense.  Even the keenest, best-intended person can be very off track and habitually being off track has consequences like weight gain, food cravings, and a thin wallet!

Now that we are back from Iceland we are back to our modest calorie intake ways.  Last week I only spent $65 on groceries and $6 of that was on toilet paper.  Granted, we did eat out a couple of times but we also had a house guest, so  I think it evened out.

 

5 things that help me stop sugar binges

getting out of the house helps stop sugar binges

Today I was in a counseling session and it dawned on me (thanks to my kind counselor) that I have come a long way in harmonizing my relationship with sugar and carbs.  Looking back on the past few years, I feel like I’m in a pretty grounded place to offer some advice on what helped me personally win the fight against the urge to O.D. on sugar and carbs. Keep in mind this is not professional advise, per se, but rather the kind of insight that comes from the familiarity of going through something and knowing it intimately.

#1. Get support.  I always do best when I have a good friend to share my feelings with or am seeking professional support (counseling for me).  Groups like Over-eaters anonymous can be a great support network and there is no charge for joining.  Support that is non-familial has been key for me.  As much as  I love my family and husband, sometimes the issues that drive me to  crave sugar involve them and I have found that having a safe, non-biased place to express myself helps me trust my feelings and explore the core issues behind my sugar addiction.

2. Eat a balanced diet.  Okay, maybe this is the nutritionist in me, but it’s also just the experience talking.  When I eat protein at every meal, have veggies at least 2 meals/day, eat 2-3 fruits/day, and up to 3 servings of grains, I am good to go and don’t physically crave sugar.  I have to eat pretty substantial meals because I don’t like to snack (Snacking = trouble for me).  Also, include plenty of healthy fats like olive oil, some nuts/seeds, avocados, goat cheese or other cheeses that are strong enough in flavor that you don’t want over eat them.  Even butter has its place in my diet.  Milk is out for me, so I use almond milk and drink about a cup/day.    Protein really is my anti-sugar antidote, so I try to reach for protein instead of carbs first when I’m hungry.

3. Don’t eat trigger foods alone.  I have no business eating cake and frosting, ice cream, frozen yogurt, or cookies by myself.  It’s not that having these alone is inherently bad, it’s just bad for me.  When I eat binge food alone, even if it’s gluten-free or wheat-free, I’m way more likely to over eat.  Also, I have to ask myself why I’m eating alone in the first place?  Am I sneak eating or hiding something?  Big red flag for me!  If I’m not willing to eat treats out in the open, I’m not eating them for the right reasons.  On the flip side, when I do want to enjoy a treat and I’m with others I rarely want to eat in excess because my motivation is simply to enjoy a delicious something, not curb an emotion or numb out.

4. Get out of the house.  I spend a lot of time at home during all hours of the day now that I’m  back in school.  That kitchen calls pretty loudly sometimes, If I’m not careful.  I find that getting away to study helps me feel less isolated and more confident.  I’m not sure why, but it does.  If you find that you binge or eat mindlessly when you have too much unstructured time at home, it’s time to get out!  Structured time has also helped me stay away from derailing my flow with food.  If I have time goals or placed to be I’m much less likely to waste time eating mindlessly.

5.  The pleasure principle.  “All work and no play” makes me cranky and hankering for something to ‘sweeten’ my life…such as a donut or cookie.  When I make the pleasures of life a priority, I’m usually good.  I’ve learned that the emotional craving for sugar is often a calling for a break from the work or from the expectations I place on myself to always be doing something productive.  I like to hang with friends, cook with other people, go for a walk with my husband at night, chat on the phone, watch movies or do whatever to give myself a break.

I’d love to hear from you about what helps you avoid the pitfalls of sugar binges.

Warning: Eating off white may change your life

Changing your diet is going to do more than just alter your waisteline.  Whether you go off white, simply reduce portions, go Atkins, go Zone diet, or just stop eating junk food, something is going to change.

The non-weight related changes that happen when we change our diets is a seriously undervalued concept, in my opinion.  I think its these somewhat ‘immeasurable’ changes that actually drive people to continue making good dietary choices because they are the stuff that real life is made of.  It’s not like being skinnier by itself is a lifechanging experience, but rather the new behaviors, attitudes, relationships, etc that happen.

I was recently inspired by a client who mentioned that a week of eating healthy made her want to color her hair, as an act of self-care.  Who knew that eating healthy could lead to a better hair day?  So I thought it might be helpful to you off-white readers to know what to look out for when you make healthy choices.  This by no means a comprehenisve list, and I’d love to hear for YOU about how your life changes when you eat well.

Some of the ways healthy eating can change your life include:

  • A desire to wear the cuter clothes in your closet
  • Increased interest in managing your money better, including less money wasting, more saving, and just more caring about where it all goes
  • Willingness to reason things out with loved ones when you fight
  • Taking the stairs more than the elevator
  • Starting or finishing those craft/photography/sewing/whatever projects you started a million years ago
  • You can actually get a good night’s rest
  • You can taste the flavors in real food
  • Looking people in the eye when you talk to them
  • Better sex, or just having sex in general
  • You laugh more, because life is funny, isn’t it?
  • You shave your legs, even when you don’t have a date
  • Treating yourself to the new make up/lotion/nail polish/shampoo, etc that you would never buy before
  • You want to see your friend b/c you feel good about yourself
  • More time in the kitchen, less time in the drive-thru
  • Looking at your thighs when you sit down doesn’t drive you as crazy as it once did
  • You sign up for a half marathon/5K/triathalon
  • Exercise clothes take up more laundry space than lounging around clothes
  • You want to get dressed on the weekends….but not all the time.  Jammie days are still a vital part of life
  • Your skin is clearer
  • You care about how the inside of your car looks, and you clean it more regularly
  • People start asking you for advice on how to cook healthier/eat better
  • You appreciate your family more
  • Less crying, except for the happy kind
  • Less PMS
  • You can recognize when you need a time out, and you take it!
  • Bubble baths are fun again!
  • Your spiritual life and practice improve
  • your spouse is no longer the root of your problems…nor the solution to them
  • Work isn’t as bad as you once thought
  • You’re looking for a new job (if work really is as as you thought)
  • It’s okay for you to be in a photograph, even next to your skinny friends/sisters/brothers, etc
  • You’re planning a vacation and might actually wear a bathing suit or at least shorts
  • Tank tops are no longer off limits
  • You don’t have any more room on the kitchen counter because it’s covered in fruits and veggies every week
  • You know how to pronounce quinoa

And the list just goes on and on!  Thanks to all of those who have shared their stories and inspired ME to think about all the wonderful reasons why I love to eat healthy because I forget sometimes too!

Bittersweet: more than just chocolate (recipes at end)

 chocolate.jpg

Like a good piece of dark chocolate, life can be bitter sweet.  This weekend was a prime example.  The sweet part included a great snowshoe for my husband’s birthday, which included a fun day with two of our dear friends.     I even packed a healthy lunch of turkey and avocado wraps on multi-grain tortillas with veggies, and cheese.  We enjoyed a nice alpine lunch and good laughs.   The day rolled into night with an exotic trip to Morocco via Marrakesh restaurant and laughs with co-workers.

Then the bitter part: Long story short – our car was broken into and  my purse, an ipod, some clothes, and a backpack were nabbed.  Certainly an unexpected twist to our day……

But back to the sweet:  This kind of stuff unglues me, but I was able to keep my cool, deal with it all, and NOT EAT OVER IT!!!  Whenever I would think about wanting to “devour” my feelings over it, I would breathe or just talk about it.  Maybe my friends got sick of me bringing it up, but the sanity I had over releasing my feelings is worth any annoyance.  If you are like me and tend to “digest” your feelings instead of express them, you can appreciate this little victory.

I had already planned on going back to regular food this weekend, so I felt empowered in my choices at lunch and snack time after our snow adventure.  What also helped was having already seen the menu of the restaurant we attended, as I could mentally prepare for the choices available.

When I’m stressed, I must have a plan.  That plan is like my rock and makes me feel safe.  Already it can be hard when I’m with others who are eating all types of food, especially when the  continue to offer me treats and tidbits.  They don’t know that I can’t have “just one” or that all the little critters in my belly would have a party if I ate certain things.  It’s my deal, so I have to make responsible choices.

The Plan:
We had dinner at Marrakesh: a Moroccon restaurant in Portland.  I planned ahead to do the following:

marrakesh.jpg

  • Strategically have a “safe” snack pre-dinner.  For me this was a turkey/onion/mustard mini-wrap on a large romaine lettuce leaf, some tea, and a few apple slices.
  • Drink water and nothing else.  I’m not a big alcohol drinker anyway, but rarely drink when I’m out. The extra sugar is a no-go for me.
  • I avoided eating the bread when enjoying the “salad”, which was totally a finger/bread food. I piled up the veggies/hummus on small bits of bread, but didn’t eat the bread.
  • I tasted all the meat dishes, but had just enough to be satisfied.  Some of the flavors included apricot chicken, lamb with couscous, veggies and raisins (ate around the couscous), and lemon chicken with almonds.  Yum, yum, yum.   Moroccan food blends sweet and savory so well, I just love it!  Eating with my hands actually made me go slower, which helped not stuff myself.
  • Skipped dessert because I had my fill.

What’s funny about yesterday is that I’m so fired up about the fact that the stress did not make me seek out TONS of sugar yesterday or today, that it gives a little sunshine to a frustrating situation.

So, in honor of my bittersweet day, I’d like to speak about chocolate.

I truly believe chocolate can be a health food, depeneding  upon what kind you use and how much you eat.  For the health benefits look for 70% dark chocolate, which automatically means there will be less sugar.  I often keep dark chocolate bars or powder on hand to make low sugar treats because they save me from going on the deep end with sugar.

How to know if you really have a chocolate craving, or a sugar craving:

When you are really craving chocolate, a piece of bittersweet dark chocolate will alleviate the craving.  When you crave sugar, the desire is often more for milk or white chocolate (not really chocolate) because milk/white chocolate have milk sugar and regular sugar.  Beware: even hershey’s dark and the low-end dark chocolates often have only 30-50% cacao, and still have tons of sugar.

Is chocolate a superfood?  Read here and you be the judge:

·Cacao is rich in antioxidants

·Cacao has been associated with decreased diabetes & blood pressure (American Heart Association)

· Cacao is rich in B1, B2 and D vitamins, and magnesium and iron.

· Cacao is associated with improved vasodilation, helping increase stamina during exercise. (Athens Medical School)

· Cacao is cholesterol free. Its phenolic properties may also block oxidation of LDL cholesterol.

· Chocolate is associated with euphoria and reduced depression – due to phenylthylamine.

· Serotonin, a well-studied neurotransmitter, is thought to instill calm and relaxed feelings. Chocolate is associated with increased serotonin levels, a factor that is believed to explain chocolate cravings.

· Some researchers believe that
serotonin is related to premenstrual syndrome (PMS), explaining premenstrual chocolate cravings.

· Stearic acid, chocolate’s predominant saturated fat, has neutral effects on blood cholesterol.

· The European Board of Health lists chocolate as a pre-digestive aid

A  good chocolate bar also has about 3-5 g fiber/serving and contains trace minerals, like Selenium.

What about allergies?
Jeremy Drelich, MD assessed a group of 20 individuals who reported allergic reactions after chocolate consumption. After a week without eating chocolate each individual received skin prick and blood tests for allergies to chocolate and component ingredients (milk, soy, almonds, peanuts, vanilla), and consumed unlabeled cacao and non-cacao samples. Sugar allergies were assessed by giving half the participants unsweetened chocolate and half chocolate made with cane juice. None showed definite evidence of a chocolate allergy, though some tested positive for non-cacao ingredients. By choosing organic products made without additives or fillers – such as organic dark chocolate made without refined sugar – you’ll may find yourself happily reunited with chocolate.

http://www.webmd.com/news/20040601/dark-chocolate-day-keeps-doctor-away

Feeling bittersweet? Try these low or no sugar recipes:

CHOCOLATE COCONUT MACAROONS

3 cups shredded coconut
1/3 cups cocoa powder (substitute same amount of almond flour for
blonde macaroons)
1 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup coconut butter (I found at New Season’s)
1 Tb. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt

Mix all ingredients in a bowl until moistened. Refrigerate for about
an hour just to make forming the balls easier. Form into balls.

Dehydrate @150 for 12 hours or place on a cookie sheet for roughly 5 – 7 mins @ 350 degrees. This just gives it a little crispness on the
outside.

CHOCOLATE MINT DISKS
Pour I cup coconut oil in a bowl. If oil is solid,place it in a double boiler and heat gently to the liquid state.

Add 1/2 C. dark chocolate or 2 to 3 tsp. cocoa powder . If using chips/chunks, melt chips with solid coconut oil, or melt and add to liquid coconut oil.
Stevia- 2 droppers or to taste.
Peppermint oil- 3 drops
Add chopped nuts, seeds or unsweetened coconut to taste.( raw sunflower seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, or any nut in raw state, excluding peanuts.) 
Pour mixture into pie pan and refrigerate.
Cut into squares before they get too hard or set them out for a few minutes and let barely soften to cut up.  You can also use a small mold for convenience.

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