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(Written for the River Current publication, December 6, 2012)

For the last five days I have been in Austin, Texas attending classes and lectures….listening attentively and learning as much as I can about health and nutrition.  My brain is on overload, but I am energized and ready to get back to the books and learn even more once I return home!  

It has been fun to hang out with like-minded people.  Austin is a rapidly growing city, whose population is loaded with those who have a passion for clean eating and good nutrition.  In contrast, back at home….I am now the ‘odd one’ in the stack.  My nieces recently took me to dinner and candidly shared that they were “concerned” about me.  Concerned it would appear, that I will no longer share with them any of my tempting creations from the kitchen. 

The more I study, the more I learn that eating healthy is not at all about deprivation.  It is simply about awareness.  Being aware of what food is passing over your lips and maybe even more important, having an awareness of where that food has come from.  

Perhaps it is time to take ourselves back to the kitchens of our ancestors, making foods for our families from good quality ingredients vs. taking a ‘frozen rectangle’ out of the freezer, throwing it in the microwave and calling it a meal.  

Admittedly, my biggest relief was in learning that healthy fats are an essential nutrient for our bodies.  Butter is not the enemy!  (Actually the bad guy is margarine; there is nothing about margarine that can even pretend to be good for you.  If ‘You Can’t Believe It Isn’t Butter’….that’s because it isn’t!  It’s a chemical imposter.)  The holidays are approaching.  Go ahead, enjoy your butter.  You’ll be glad you did.

After writing my column last week, I was almost relieved to learn that I would be out of town when the paper landed in your mailboxes.  I was afraid after sharing my Kale and Berry Smoothie, that I would be greeted with rotten tomatoes for even suggesting that you try such a concoction.  Perhaps there was a small percentage that would be open to giving it a try…and the rest of you perhaps thought to yourselves, “She’s finally gone over the edge!  

In order to make peace with you, I decided to share a recipe that sounded a little more tempting.  This recipe goes hand in hand with my recent journey to Texas. Save it for a special holiday treat and rest assured, in moderation, these chocolate delights won’t be bad for you either!

Spiced Mexican Vanilla Truffles

1 cup organic heavy cream
1 tsp. Mexican vanilla
1 dried chipotle chili (optional, if you are not adventurous)
1 cinnamon stick
3 cloves
12 oz. dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
3 Tbsp. unsalted organic butter

To finish:
2 lb. dark chocolate, melted in a double boiler

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the heavy cream, chili, cinnamon stick and cloves just to a boil.  Turn off the heat, cover and steep for 30 minutes.  
2. Strain the solids from the cream.  Return the cream to the saucepan and bring just to a boil again.  
3. Remove from the heat immediately.  Add the chopped chocolate, butter and vanilla.  Stir until the mixture is completely smooth.  (Feel proud of yourself…you have just made a ganache.)  
4. Chill the ganache until it is hard enough to roll into balls.  Measure out by heaping teaspoons.  Quickly roll the ganache into 1 to 2 inch balls and place on a wire rack.  
5. Refrigerate again until the chocolate balls are firm.  When firm, pour melted dark chocolate over them to coat.  Refrigerate in a tightly sealed container.  To serve, bring to room temp and enjoy!

(Recipe shared from Edible Austin publication)


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