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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Chocolate Strawberry Parfait (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Refined Sugar-Free)

Quickly approaching is Valentine's Day a.k.a Relationship Celebration Day or Singles Awareness Day. Which ever applies to you, I hope you just celebrate love. Though I don't believe in celebrating love on just one designated day, it is kind of difficult to avoid all of the hoopla surrounding V-Day. Regardless of your relationship status, everyone is always technically in a relationship - whether it's with your parents, your siblings, your children, a significant other, friend, spiritual source, and/or with yourself. The most important one is the relationship with yourself. Even though those aren't romantic relationships, it shows that you're never really alone. There's this great quote from Rachel Machacek that says, "I believe with all my heart that the cliches are true, that we are our own best friends and best company, and that if you're not right for yourself, it's impossible to be right for anyone." It's not about being perfect in order to be right for yourself or someone else. If that were the case, we'd be waiting forever. When it comes down to it, it's really about loving every piece of you, even your not-so-pretty pieces, and having enough self-respect to be able to discern if someone/something is worthy enough to invite into your life to share those different sides of you. It's also been said that the person you're in a relationship with is a direct reflection of you and how you feel about yourself. That one statement has been revolutionary for me.

No matter what experiences or people have come across your path, you are the sum of all of them. You are constantly evolving and growing as a result of the myriad of difficulties and successes you've experienced. Loving yourself through it is the toughest part, but you're really all you have. Through it all, I think what we all come to realize is that love is all there is. By the way, love does not hurt, contrary to popular belief. If it hurts, it's not love. So, again, whatever your situation is right now, just celebrate love and be love.

All of that love talk leads me to my love of anything with the combination of (dark) chocolate and strawberry. Truth be told, chocolate-covered strawberries are my favorite dessert. Luckily, I didn't have to give them up when transitioning to a plant-based vegan diet since milk chocolate can easily be substituted for dark chocolate. With that in mind, I knew I had to recreate one of my all-time favorite desserts in the form of a Valentine's Day parfait. It is the perfect blend of rich, creamy dark chocolate and subtle-y sweet strawberry. The combination is unparalleled! This recipe is easy to whip up, too. Share this delicious and nutritious dessert with your loved one. And if you're single a.k.a in a relationship with yourself, this dessert actually favors you because you get TWO desserts all to yourself because you're just that special. Singles don't have to share anything. How's that for a Singles Awareness Day mood-booster?

Chocolate Strawberry Parfait

YIELD: 2 servings

INGREDIENTS
• 2 cans classic coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
• 1/4 cup raw cacao powder
• 3 Tbs raw coconut nectar or pure maple syrup, divided
• 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, divided
• 1 frozen banana, chopped
• 1 cup frozen strawberries + more for topping
• 1/2 cup coconut milk liquid
• Dark chocolate bar (at least 70% cacao), chopped

DIRECTIONS


1. Open the cans of coconut milk. Scoop only the thick, white cream at the top of the can into a food processor. Reserve 1/2 cup of the coconut milk liquid. Store the remaining liquid in an airtight container in the refrigerator for smoothies. Add in the cacao powder, 2 Tbsp coconut nectar and 1/4 tsp vanilla extract in the food processor and blend for a few minutes until creamy and well-combined. Watch it closely to avoid over processing (it'll turn grainy - not good!). Transfer the chocolate cream to a bowl and rinse out processor.
2. Blend the frozen banana in the food processor. Then, add in the frozen strawberries, 1/2 cup coconut milk liquid, 1 Tbs coconut nectar, and 1/4 tsp vanilla extract and blend until creamy and well-combined.
3. In 2 glasses, scoop 1/4 of the chocolate cream in the bottom of each glass. Then, scoop 1/4 of the strawberry mixture on top of the chocolate. Repeat once more. Top with strawberries and dark chocolate shavings and chunks.

“Love lets you find those hidden places in another person, even the ones they didn’t know were there, even the ones they wouldn’t have thought to call beautiful themselves.” Hilary T. Smith

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