Makeover Valentine’s Day: A Heart Healthy Indulgence

A colleague of mine emailed me for this recipe today. She reminded me of (1) how delicious it is, (2) how interesting it sounds to skeptics (chocolate and avocado? Really!?) and (3) how good it is.  Did I mention how delicious it is?

This is one of those recipes that helps my clients make the emotional transition between feeling like eating healthier means taking every “bad” food out of your diet and depriving yourself, and having your cake (a healthier version of) and eating it too. The infamous Chocolate Mystery Pudding in a tart form is always a crowd pleaser…and they’ll never know what’s in it.

I should mention, on the nutrition education side, how good for you avocados are. First off, they have higher levels of potassium than bananas. So if you are having a muscle cramp, grab for an avocado or a banana (avocados aren’t as hard to digest for some). And while avocados are about 85% fat, that fat is nourishing, filling and helps to properly absorb various carotenoids (anti-oxidants, or anti-rusting agents). Avocado are also high in levels of vitamin B6, vitamin K and folate. Avocados are good for fighting inflammation, as well, due to their phytosterols omega-3 fatty acids, in the form of alpha-linolenic acid. More research is being done about the combinations of two of an avocados properties working together towards heart health. And in the same vein, if you are arthritic, make avocados a part of your life!

Chocolate Mystery Tart



  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup dates
  • a pinch of salt
  • a dash of pure vanilla extract

Toss everything into a food processor and combine until just before it turns into a nut butter. Spread the crust into a greased pie pan or tart tin (with false bottom) and bake for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees or until the crust turns golden brown.

Chocolate filling:

  • 2 large avocados
  • 2 Tbsp. real Grade B maple syrup, raw honey or coconut nectar
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 3 Tbsp. coconut oil (gently melted)
  • 1 tsp. coconut aminos (or tamari or soy sauce)

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Spread out in baked crust, put in fridge to set or enjoy filling as is. Top tart with hemp seeds (pictured above), cherries, banana or berries.

Happy Healthy Heart Day. Embrace your health.

Scrumptious Turkey Apple and Squash Winter Stew

Need lunch ideas? Make a large batch of something soup or stew-ish, and you have at least three lunches for the week (skipping days in between so you don’t get bored). My colleagues and I at Simple Family Health eat lunch together every Thursday (a habit created by my friend and colleague Dr. Jennifer Strider, and, embarrassingly, not something I was doing enough of: actually taking a break and eating lunch). It is a time to relax for an hour, check in with my colleagues and eat home-cooked, nourishing foods – we take turns cooking for one another.

I am on lunch duty this week, and wanted to make use of some of the odds and ends in the fridge, plus I had a sweet-salt taste profile I was trying to satisfy, paired with a craving for cinnamon and apples. Throw all of that together and you get this tasty Turkey Apple and Squash Winter Stew.

turkey apple stew

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2-3 large garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil or ghee
  • A few hefty shakes of ground cloves, cinnamon, oregano, small shake of ground cumin
  • 1 large Fuji apple, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 heaping cup of butternut squash, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp coconut aminos (I don’t eat soy, so if you do, you can use liquid amines, soy sauce or tamari)
  • 3 cups of chicken or vegetables broth/stock (preferably homemade bone broth)
  • 3 handfuls of baby kale

Sautee onion and garlic in olive oil on medium low heat in a cast iron pot with a lid. Add salt, pepper, cloves, cinnamon, oregano, cumin and stir to coat.

When onions are translucent, add apples and butternut squash (if you don’t have squash, no worries. Just leave it out. I just wanted to use mine before it got moldy). Add in capers, vinegar, aminos, stock and stir. Bring to a boil.

When pot is boiling, add baby kale, turn heat off and cover lid for 15-20 minutes. Taste for flavor, add more sea salt and pepper if necessary. Serve and enjoy!