It's the week of Valentine's Day. Time to crank out those sweet, love-themed desserts!

This almond essence rich chocolate torte with rich almond essence ganache will really make your heart flutter! 

Not only is this torte indulgently chocolate, it is also free of wheat, dairy and eggs. But, trust me, everyone will love this dessert -- not just those on a restricted diet. 

Allow me to offer you a warning: this dessert is RICH! I've already said it, but it's worth saying again. This torte has a dense & fudgy consistency. One moderately small slice of this torte will completely satisfy your sweet tooth. 


Base Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup sifted cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup sifted coconut flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 single-serve packet of instant coffee
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 2 "eggs" worth of Ener-G egg replacer (4 tbls of very warm water mixed with 3 tsp of Ener-G egg replacer)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup dairy-free vanilla yogurt (I used So Delicious Greek Style Almond Milk)
  • 1/3 cup small dairy-free chocolate chips

Ganache Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 3 tbls cocoa
  • 1/3 cup brown rice syrup (or honey)
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 cup dairy-free chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and line with parchment paper a 9" cake pan.

Sift together the first 5 dry ingredients in a large bowl. Then, dissolve the packet of instant coffee in the 1/2 cup of warmed soy milk. Add the almond extract & honey to the warmed soy milk. After you have mixed your "eggs", add the mixture to the sifted dry ingredients along with your warmed milk/coffee/almond extract/honey concoction. Now add the yogurt and stir the batter until all of your ingredients are fully blended. The last ingredient to add to the mix is the chocolate chips -- do this now.

Evenly spread your batter into the prepared 9" cake pan. Batter will be thick!
Bake your torte for 22 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. When base layer is fully baked, you should be able to insert a knife into the torte and pull it out without any wet batter sticking to the knife. 

While your base layer is baking, create the rich almond essence chocolate ganache. Melt your coconut oil in a pot over low heat. Once melted, add the cocoa powder to the oil. Now add the brown rice syrup, (or honey) to the oil. Finally, add the almond extract to the oil mixture.

Note: Your ganache should be velvety smooth. If after mixing your ganache it has any grittiness to it because of the cocoa, I highly recommend straining the ganache through a sieve. 

After your torte comes out of the oven, pour your ganache over the torte while it is still in the pan. Sprinkle the 1/4 cup of chocolate chips over the ganache. Allow torte to cool slightly, then place the torte in your refrigerator to give the ganache a chance to harden. 

Eat a piece of your Almond Essence Rich Chocolate Torte!

(Store your torte in the refrigerator.)

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Coffee... to many, it's a God. 

I can sort of see why; it is a very powerful substance. 

It's been consumed throughout History! 
It has an army of followers!! 
It gives life to the dead!!!  

Well, sort of on that last one. ;)

We all know what coffee is capable of when internally consumed. Did you know coffee has many topical beauty uses as well?

In the colder months of Winter, hair shedding can really pick up. A coffee hair rinse is a good means of combatting this. Use this coffee hair rinse recipe only once per week and you will see a noticeable improvement in hair shedding. Promise.

  • 45oz of room temperature caffeinated coffee (preferably organic)
  • 1 tablespoon of liquid or cream hair conditioner

Fully incorporate the conditioner of your choice into the coffee. Dip your head over either a sink or tub with a large bowl (large enough to hold 45 oz of liquid) under your head. The large bowl is to catch the coffee mixture as it drips from your hair so that you may reuse it and pour it over your head again. Repeat the pouring process 3-5 times. After your final pour allow the coffee mixture that does not immediately drip from your head to remain on your hair for about ten minutes. Ringing your hair of excess liquid then placing it under a shower cap will aid you during this ten minute period. Once ten minutes have passed, wash and style your hair as normal.

Coffee works to inhibit hair shedding because it blocks the formation of a chemical called DHT. DHT contributes to hair shedding. The caffeine in coffee also stimulates hair follicles whereby contributing to faster hair growth! 

WARNING: This coffee rinse should only be used by persons with darker hair. If your hair is lighter than dark blonde, strawberry blonde, or bright red, I would NOT recommend using this recipe as it may temporarily stain your hair. A subtable substitute for the coffee, for lighter colors of hair, is strongly brewed caffeinated white tea. Follow the recipe as stated only substitute white tea for the coffee. 
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Chocolate: not only fun to eat, but fun to incorporate into a softening hand scrub! 

If you've ever been to a restaurant in Charleston, Savannah, or Florida, then you might be familiar with the coconut oil-based softening sugar hand scrubs that are often found in restaurant bathrooms in those regions. Those Southern coconut oil sugar hand scrubs are fantastic! Often they will have some sort of tropical based scent, like mango. 

I like to make my own coconut oil sugar hand scrub. Because it is the Winter, I decided to use cocoa in the softening hand scrub & steer clear of the tropical scents. 

In addition to the wonderful serotonin- releasing scent cocoa has, cocoa is packed with skin-soothing antioxidants that defend against free radicals.

This scrub will uplift your mood & seriously soften your hands! The sugar in this recipe will slough off dead skin cells. The coconut oil, while not only being highly moisturizing, is both antiseptic & antibacterial -- great for fighting Winter Flu germs. 

  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa

Mix all ingredients in a small dish. Once all of your ingredients are combined, slather the chocolate hand scrub on your hands and massage the mixture in for about a minute or so. Rinse hands clean in warm water. Now you have super-soft hands!

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Bloating happens.

No one enjoys being bloated... At least, I assume no one enjoys being bloated. It seems like a reasonable assumption. :)

The next time you aren't feeling your best due to bloating, try drinking this amazing Kill-the-Bloat Dieter's Tea!

Yes, I understand you might not think the ingredients for the tea seem like they would make a very tasty concoction. However, this tea is surprisingly palatable. In particular, the internal warming sensation this tea supplies is rather pleasant. 

  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Mix all of the above ingredients in a mug of 6-8 oz of hot water. Enjoy this tea at least 3 times per day for 3 days. Observe the magical de-bloating effects of Kill-the-Bloat Dieter's Tea!

I would love to know the results of anyone who gives this tea a try. Please feel welcome to leave any comments or questions regarding this tea! 

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Mmmm. Cranberry bread.

Many of us are in full-blown New Year's resolution mode right now.  If your New Year's resolution was to cut back on carbs & empty calories, don't worry; today I am presenting a cranberry bread recipe, but it's not for your stomach -- it's for your face! No need to cut out delicious winter breads... just indulge in them in a different way. How does a Cranberry Bread Anti-Aging Face Mask sound?

This mask is composed of cranberries, rice flour, maple syrup, grated orange peel, & banana. 

Cranberries are a real Winter gift, both to eat & to utilize in wellness recipes! These little red gems are bursting with antioxidants, Vitamin C, & Vitamin K. They are detoxifying & anti-inflammatory. They brighten the complexion, smooth skin texture, provide relief to irritated skin &, because of the Vitamin K, help break down tiny broken blood vessels on the face.

Rice flour has been used in Asia for hundreds of years as a beauty ingredient. It treats wrinkles & blemishes. Rice flour also brightens & evens the pigment of skin. The chemical structure of rice flour is similar to a substance called ceramide. Ceramide increases collagen production.

Maple syrup contains a number of trace minerals including calcium, zinc, magnesium, potassium, & copper. These trace minerals are needed by your skin for your skin to function optimally. Trace minerals also help firm your skin.

Grated orange peel, in addition to smelling amazing, is loaded with Vitamin C. We know how great Vitamin C is for our skin. Who doesn't love the collagen boosting & brightening effects of Vitamin C?!

Banana is a fantastic moisturizer. Banana also contains antioxidants & potassium. Potassium turbocharges your skins healing process. 

  • 1 rounded tablespoon cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons rice flour
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel
  • 1/3 of a small ripe banana

Mix all ingredients in a bowl until everything is fully incorporated.Gently wash your face, neck, & upper chest area with a mild cleanser. Apply the Cranberry Bread Anti-Aging Face Mask to your face, neck, & upper chest area with either a clean facial brush or your clean fingers. Lie down and relax for 20 minutes while the face mask works its magic. Rinse your face with cool water, then admire your refreshed face & complexion! 

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Happy New Year's Eve Day!

Do you partake in eating "lucky" foods for New Years to bring luck in the new year? This year, in the hopes of bringing luck to the year 2014, I made Lucky Honey Mustard & Onion Kale Chips. Gotta eat those lucky greens! In addition to bringing you good luck, they will also bring you a boatload of nutritious vitamins!  

These kale chips were inspired by Snyder's of Hanover Honey Mustard & Onion pretzel pieces. While the flavor is not exactly the same as that of the pretzel pieces, it is a pretty close replication. Watch out! These are addictive. 

  • 1 bunch of clean de-stemmed kale (any variety will do)
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup clover honey (or any light colored honey)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 2 tablespoons wheat germ

Mix all ingredients together with a whisk, except for the kale and the wheat germ. Rip kale into bite-sized pieces. Place clean de-stemmed kale pieces in a large bowl. Add your whisked honey mustard & onion sauce to the kale. Evenly cover the kale with your honey mustard & onion sauce. Sprinkle kale with wheat germ.

You have 2 options for making these lucky kale ships... 

Option 1: Dehydrate the chips with a dehydrator at 120 degrees F for about 4 hours. 
Option 2: Bake the lucky honey mustard & onion kale chips in a 300 degree F oven for about 25 minutes on a foil covered baking sheet.

With either option, dehydrate/bake the kale chips in a single layer & shuffle them up a bit midway through dehydrating or baking. Adjust times as need be to ensure thorough dehydrating or baking; the chips should be dry and crisp when they are finished & without any moisture. 

I hope these honey mustard & onion kale chips bring you lots of luck in 2014! 

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    Have you ever wanted to walk through a pine forest after a rain shower and have cool water droplets from the trees drip onto your face? If you haven't,  it does sound like a pretty refreshing scenario... right? Now, imagine not just regular pine-needle-infused water droplets gently falling onto your face, but super pure sparkling mineral water pine-needle-infused water droplets misting your face. I will give you a minute.

Heavenly -- don't you think? 

Today, I am offering a very easy recipe that can bring this experience into your life anytime, anywhere.

Pine needles are loaded with antioxidants. They are also highly antiseptic & antibacterial. Pine needle oil relieves dry, itchy, & flaky skin symptoms.The very scent of pine needles act as an antidepressant -- great for the "Winter blues". Sparkling mineral water is, not surprisingly, full of healthy minerals. Applying these minerals to our skin brings nothing but goodness. Due to the carbonated effect of sparkling mineral water, the water acts as a very invigorating & refreshing agent to the skin. 

In particular, may I recommend using this mist:
  • During & after a workout
  • During the Winter on dry, itchy, or flaky skin
  • Alternatively, during the Summer on hot sun-beaten skin
  • Women, as a setting spray for your makeup
  • As a morning invigorating facial spray

  • 1 bottle of Perrier or San Pellegrino sparkling mineral water 
  • 1 handful of non-chemically-treated pine needles
  • 1 clean spritz bottle of either glass or plastic

Place a handful of pine needles in your spritz bottle. Fill with either Perrier or San Pellegrino . Allow pine needles to infuse your sparkling mineral water for a period of at least 24 hours in your refrigerator. When 24 hours have elapsed, use the Sparkling Mineral Water Pine-Needle-Infused Facial Spray at your leisure. Store the facial spray in your refrigerator. 

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    Merry Christmas Eve! Time to eat (more) cookies! In my book, it is pretty much a requirement that one eats cookies nearly non-stop around the Holidays up until January 1st; one more week of required cookie eating, darn. How will we ever survive another week of cookie eating?! ;)

     A lot of people these days have family or friends who have special dietary needs. Maybe you, or someone you know, has a restricted diet? Some of us are gluten-free, some of us can't eat dairy, and some of us choose not to eat dairy or eggs. This spritz cookie recipe is subtable for those who do not eat dairy or eggs. These cookies do not compromise richness, flavor, or classic Spritz cookie appeal. 

    Amanda, my sister, came up with the modifications for this classic recipe. Sometimes adjusting a recipe to be free of dairy and eggs does not work out favorably. Standard basic recipes can be rather scientific, and the smallest alteration can destroy a perfectly wonderful classic recipe. The modifications Amanda made do not compromise any of the classic Spritz cookie appeal. Thanks for the delicious cookie recipe, Amanda! 

  • 1 cup Earth Balance "butter" 
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 "egg" worth of Ener-G Egg Replaces
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream sugar, "butter", & vanilla. Add remaining ingredients, slowly. Please do not over blend! 

Press dough into holiday shaped cookies, such as Christmas trees, with a Spritz Cookie cookie press gun. 
Top cookies with appropriate colored sprinkles and cookie decor.

Bake cookies in a preheated 400 degree F oven for about 6-7 minutes. 

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    Cookies! What's better than Christmas cookies this time of year? If you ask me, not much! :)

    While lemon-lime might not be the most quintessential holiday season flavor, it is certainly a flavor fitting of Winter. Since citrus season is at its height now, I figured why not showcase a citrus flavored Winter themed cookie? 

     To be completely honest, I can be a bit obsessive about healthifying (new word!) the food I create. This recipe uses whole wheat pastry flour in place of "regular" pastry flour, as well as brown rice syrup and xylitol in place of cane sugar. The whole wheat pastry flour provides a bit of healthy fiber, and the brown rice syrup and xylitol is an improvement upon straight cane sugar.The cookies do contain A LOT of shortening, however. But hey, it's the Holidays. Let's indulge ourselves! Plus, the shortening creates such a delicate, melt-in-your mouth texture...

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1  & 1/4 teaspoon pure lemon extract
  • 1/3 cup brown rice syrup
  • 2 tablespoons xylitol
  • 2 packets True Lime powder
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar

    Cream the shortening, brown rice syrup, lemon extract, True Lime powder, and salt. Slowly add flour to shortening mixture so as not to spill your flour. Do not over blend, please. Roll dough into approximately 30 balls. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 300 degrees F for 28 minutes. (Note: cookies will spread and flatten as they bake, so do leave a bit of room between cookies on your cookie sheet.)

Once finished baking, and while cookies are still warm, dip cookies in powdered sugar.

And last, but certainly not least -- eat the cookies! Yum. 

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    No one's skin is perfect. Everyone has their flaws. If hormonal acne, fine lines, or dry skin are issues for you, then this face mask is something you might like to try. 

    White tea is both high in antioxidants and antibacterial... as are the honey and ginger. Antioxidants, when applied topically to skin, fight sun damage, encourage cell turnover and contribute to the production of collagen. The antibacterial elements to the white tea, honey, & ginger defend against acne. Honey,  in addition to being high in antioxidants and antibacterial, is also a humectant. Humectants draw moisture from the air and create a suppleness to skin. When ginger is applied topically to skin it creates a gentle warming sensation whereby increasing circulation, and contributing to a pleasing rosy flush. 

  • 1 tablespoon white tea
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger

Mix all ingredients together then gently massage the mixture onto face and neck with either clean fingertips or a clean cosmetic brush. Leave the mask on for 20 minutes, then rinse off with cool water. 

Warning! You will look like a swamp creature while wearing this mask. ; )

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    So Stephanie Says is dedicated to sharing effective health & beauty recipes, as well as health-inspired food and drink recipes.  If you are interested in wellness recipes, then this might be the place for you


    January 2014
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