Want to try and eat more "consciously" this holiday season without losing the flavor? Chef Cary Neff, one of this country's healthiest chefs, shows that you can with recipes from his book Conscious Cuisine.

Ahi Tuna Tower
Makes 4 servings

Tuna
Ingredients:
8 ounces (1 cup) diced Saku Maguro/ sushi grade ahi tuna
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon Sriracha chile sauce
1 teaspoon tamari soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated gingerroot
1 teaspoon chopped green onion
1 teaspoon seasoned rice vinegar

Method:
In a mixing bowl combine tuna and remaining ingredients.  Adjust seasonings to taste with additional sriracha and soy sauce.  Place tuna in refrigerator for later use.

Vegetables
Ingredients:
1/4 cup finely chopped European cucumbers
1/4 cup finely chopped avocado
1/4 cup finely chopped daikon radish
2 teaspoon minced cilantro
1/4 teaspoon toasted black sesame seeds
2 teaspoon seasoned rice wine vinegar

Method:
Peel cucumbers and daikon; cut each into very small dices.  Place in a small bowl.  Cut avocado in half, remove its seed and dice very small.  Add to cucumber mixture; stir in cilantro, sesame seeds and vinegar to season.

Assembly:

To form tower, use a 2-inch diameter 2-inch tall cylinder or a small tomato paste can opened at both ends (a small coffee cup will also work.) 

Place cylinder on an appetizer plate, spoon one heaping tablespoon of tuna into cylinder, spoon one heaping tablespoon of vegetable mixture into cylinder.  Then top with tuna.  Press mixture firmly into cylinder to mold.  Lift cylinder up pressing down on tuna with a spoon so tuna tower remains on the plate.

Garnish with a pinch of pickled ginger, Wasabi paste or Tobiko (wasabi caviar), radish sprouts and drizzle of Sriracha chile sauce.

Serving size: 1 tower
Calories: 88 - Fat Grams: 3

Espresso Cake and Truffles

Makes 16 servings

Ingredients:

2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup raw cane sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup puréed prunes or applesauce
3 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup coffee

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350F (175C).  Spray a 9-inch square cake pan and dust with additional cocoa powder and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt, set aside.  In another bowl combine the prunes, egg whites, vanilla and coffee.  Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Pour into the prepared cake pan.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Per serving:
Calories 70; Protein 2g; Total Fat 1g; Saturated Fat 0.5g; Carbohydrates 16g; Dietary Fiber 2g; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 90mg

Chocolate Truffles

Makes: 50 truffles

1 recipe for Espresso Cake
1/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese, or nonfat plain yogurt

Coatings
Unsweetened cocoa powder
Finely chopped nuts, walnuts, pecans, pistachios
Finely chopped toasted coconut

Allow cake to cool to room temperature.  Cut the cake into small cubes and place in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Add the ricotta cheese and mix to a smooth consistency.  Chill the mixture before portioning.

Portion into 1/2-ounce balls and roll in cocoa powder or finely chopped nuts or toasted coconut.

Per plain truffle or 1 truffle dusted with 1/2 teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powder:
Calories 25; Protein 1g; Total Fat 0g; Saturated Fat 0g; Carbohydrates 5g; Dietary Fiber less than 1 gram; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 30mg

Per 1 truffle rolled in 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped nuts
Calories 30; Protein 1g; Total Fat 1g; Saturated Fat 0g; Carbohydrates 6g; Dietary Fiber less than 1 gram; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 30mg

Per 1 truffle rolled in 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped coconut
Calories 30; Protein 1g; Total Fat 0.5g; Saturated Fat 0g; Carbohydrates 5g; Dietary Fiber less than 1 gram; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 35mg