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superfoods

Raw Cacao

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Raw Cacao

All chocolate as we know it comes from cacao beans. Cacao beans are the seeds that are found in the fruit of the cacao tree. Cacao contains extraordinary health properties and it’s just one ingredient - raw and pure - no sugar, no dairy, no additives.

Do not confuse raw cacao powder with commercial cocoa powder, the latter is processed, filled with sugar and dairy, and has none of its original health benefits. Quit commercial cocoa and opt for raw, organic cacao powder.

Cacao’s benefits are many, and therefore it can be considered more than food, a potent medicine.

  • Cacao is extremely antioxidant, ranking amongst the top antioxidant foods in the world, which is known to prevent health-related conditions. This makes it a food worth adding to your longevity strategy. 
  • Cacao increases blood flow to the brain and enhances its function which can be extremely helpful for older people or in situations of poor sleep and/or fatigue. 
  • Cacao appears to be the number one source of magnesium of any food. Magnesium balances brain chemistry, supports the heart, builds strong bones, increases flexibility, relaxes muscles, prevents constipation and menstrual cramps.
  • It also contains considerable amounts of iron and manganese which together keep your blood healthy.
  • Zinc is another essential trace mineral found in cacao and its critical to the proper functioning of the immune system, liver, pancreas and skin.
  • Cacao also contains an adequate amount of vitamin C. 
  • Cacao appears to be a natural appetite suppressant which can contribute to weight loss.
  • It is a powerfull mood enhancer due to elevated amounts of the essential amino acid tryptophan and the tryptamine serotonin, both of which make you feel really good.
  • Note: Contrary to popular belief, cacao is extremely poor in caffeine. 

To preserve and obtain all this wonderful properties cacao must be eaten raw. Most of its vitamins, minerals, compounds, antioxidants, proteins and fats are heat sensitive, which means they are lost when the cacao is heated (this is why commercial chocolate does not contain these qualities). 

raw cacao powder

raw cacao powder

raw cacao nibs

raw cacao nibs

raw cacao butter

raw cacao butter

What to buy

Look for 100% raw, organic cacao products:

  • cacao powder - I use this product
  • cacao nibs - I like this
  • cacao butter
  • chocolate bars

* Preferably purchase 'fair trade' to be sure that your chocolate was not the product of slave labor.

Cacao products are widely available. You can find them in most health food stores, some grocery shops, whole foods, or even the internet. 

 

How to use it

Raw cacao smells and tastes strongly of chocolate but slightly bitter so I recommend adding a little honey or maple syrup to sweeten it. 

Cacao combines heavenly with cinnamon, vanilla and medicinal mushrooms (chaga or reishi).

Cacao products can generally be blended into any beverage, from coconut water, tea and smoothies to coffee. 

Add cacao powder to smoothies, raw desserts and energy balls. Use it to make a healthy nutella or a typical hot chocolate.

Cacao nibs are used as healthy chocolate chips. Add to smoothies and energy balls for extra crunch and texture. Delicious sprinkled over smoothie bowls, desserts, yogurt and granolas. You can also add them to a trail mix of your favorite nuts and dried fruits. 

Cacao butter is typically used to make your own chocolates/bars. Also possible to use it in raw treats and desserts. It can also be used to make a homemade body butter. 


Fun Fact: Because of it's incredible value and reverence cacao beans were used by Mayans and Aztecs as money instead of gold. It was considered the currency of the realm, while gold was used for decorative purposes. 


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Pantry essentials: SUPERFOODS

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Pantry essentials: SUPERFOODS

Perhaps you have heard of the incredible health benefits of Superfoods, but you are wondering why they are so special and how to incorporate them into your daily diet. In this post I will share exactly what Superfoods are and why they are so important, as well as my top 6 favourite Superfoods. These are the ones I always have in my pantry which appear in many of my recipes. They are easily available and a great place to get started! So let's get to it.

What are Superfoods?

 Superfoods are the most potent, nutrient-dense foods available in the world. They have an incredibly high nutritional value that is incomparable to normal foods such as fruits and vegetables. These super-concentrated foods are densely packed with antioxidants, enzymes, essential fatty acids, good fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals, and each superfood contains a dozen or more properties. 

Following is a list of the top superfoods categorised into groups. Don't get overwhelmed by this list, I share it for informational purposes. 

Algae

  • AFA blue-green algae
  • chlorella
  • spirulina
  • kelp

Bee products

  • bee pollen
  • honey
  • propolis
  • royal jelly

Cacao products

  • cacao powder
  • cacao nibs
  • cacao butter

Coconut products

  • coconut oil
  • coconut flesh - shredded or flakes
  • coconut cream

Fruits

  • goji berries
  • mulberries
  • incan berries
  • açai berries
  • camu camu powder
  • baobab powder
  • lucuma

Roots and grasses 

  • maca powder
  • wheatgrass 

Seeds

  • hempseeds
  • chia seeds

 

Why use Superfoods?

Superfoods are ancient foods that grow in some of the most remote places on earth where local inhabitants have harnessed their powers for centuries. Luckily these powerhouses are now available to us and adding them to our diet will provide maximum nutrition, meeting and exceeding ALL our nutritional requirements, from protein to essential fatty acids. 

They greatly improve overall health, dramatically increase energy levels, strengthen the immune system, improve libido and athletic performance, enhance mental clarity and focus, increase longevity and many more health benefits.  Basically, Superfoods cleanse, detox, energise and deeply nourish every organ, bone and tissue in our body. For all these reasons superfoods can delay the signs of aging, and even prevent or improve the symptoms of a variety of major modern diseases.

How to buy and include Superfoods?

Superfoods should be raw and organic so they are clean, pesticide and chemical-free, and provide higher amounts of nutrition. Since the soil and most of the foods out there are low in nutrients, its important to invest in good quality superfoods as the medicine that will fill in all the nutritional gaps and deficiencies. To get the maximum benefit from superfoods, they are best eaten raw to ensure they preserve all their properties intact, as some of them are sensitive to heat and will loose their benefits once cooked.

❤  You can add superfoods into smoothies and shakes, treats, trail mixes, desserts and dressings or simply sprinkle them on top of your granola, smoothie bowl or cereal. The best place to start is by adding 1 teaspoon of any Superfood to your smoothies, specially in the morning. This way you kick start your day with an easily digestible breakfast packed with nutrition which will enhance your natural energy, clarity and focus for the rest of the day. Superfood smoothies are the single most important change towards a healthier mind and body. 


my top 6 favourite superfoods

These are my favourite top 6 because they are easy to find and easy to include. Once you buy a pack you will have it in your pantry ready to use, and they last a good while too. You will also find them in many of my recipes so its always good to have them around if you are running out of ideas.

Chia seeds have been used by the Mayas and the Aztecs as a source of energy for centuries. These tiny seeds have powerful anti-inflammatory properties, are loaded with antioxidants, contain high amounts of omega 3 fatty acids and protein. They promote bowel movements, detoxification and boost the immune system. 

❤ They can be added to smoothies, nut milks, shakes or juices. Stir them into yogurt, nut spreads, cereal or porridge. Soak them in water to for a gel-like substance as a base to a chia pudding or dessert.

Raw Cacao contains high amounts of magnesium which balances brain chemistry, builds strong bones, regulates blood pressure and prevents constipation. Cacao is one of the most antioxidant foods in the planet. It also contains serotonin which regulates mood and provides a sense of happiness and well-being. Cacao is also high in sulfur, the beauty mineral which contributes to strong hair, nails and beautiful skin. Always choose raw organic 100% pure cacao. 

❤ Use cacao powder in smoothies, nut milks, treats or desserts. Sprinkle cacao nibs on cereals, smoothies, porridges and desserts.

Maca powder comes from a root that grows in Peru, a powerful adaptogen that increases the body's resistance to stress and anxiety. It is also a powerful libido enhancer, enhances fertility in men and women, balances hormones and promotes reproductive health. It boosts immune system, provides energy, increases physical strength and aids in athletic performance.

❤ Start with 1 tsp and gradually make your way up to 1 tbs. Add it to your smoothies, drinks or nut milks. Add it to your porridge, nut spread, chia pudding, treats or desserts.

Goji berries are extremely rich in antioxidants which promote longevity and contribute to cardiovascular and immune system health. They contain betaine, carotenoids, and zeaxanthin, nutrients that build muscles and protect the skin, eyes and liver. Gojis enhance strength and stamina as well as sexual energy. They are a complete protein source and contain more than 21 trace minerals such as zinc, calcium and iron.

❤ Eat them as a snack on their own, or add them to your favourite nuts. Add them to granola, porridge, smoothies, yogurt, bars and other treats.

Coconut products benefit the heart, brain and stomach, amongst others. They improve digestion and absorption of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Coconut is a natural antibiotic that contains a fatty acid that naturally fights off bacteria, virus and fungus. The saturated fat content of coconut oil is from medium chain fatty acids that support the immune system and nervous system, boost metabolism and aid weight loss.

❤ Choose unrefined virgin coconut oil and use it for cooking, baking, in desserts, treats and smoothies, use it also as a skin moisturiser or makeup remover. Use unsweetened shredded or flaked coconut in smoothies, treats, desserts, trail mixes, or sprinkle it over porridges, cereals, or yogurt. 

Bee pollen is the most complete and nutritious food found in the planet. Its a complete source of protein, a great source of healthy fats, enzymes, B vitamins, and contains a long list of minerals. It increases strength, energy and endurance while providing quicker recovery from exercise. It also increases muscle growth and definition. It increases longevity, rejuvenates and heals hormonal imbalances.

❤ Add 1/2 tsp to your smoothie, nut milk, post work out shake, cereal or yogurt. Sprinkle over desserts or sweets.


Start by adding 1 or 2 new sexy superfoods to your diet this week and gradually expand your selection. You can add them at a pace that suits you and that allows you to experiment with each one until you find your favourite way to eat it. I promise you will quickly notice the glowing results from eating these incredible superfoods. 

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Valentine sweets for your faves

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Valentine sweets for your faves

Maybe because I was never a relationship kinda girl, but I never really agreed on how Valentine's day generally applies to lovers - It leaves so many people that are not in a relationship feeling left out! Valentine's day is also another consumeristic attempt to make us to buy more stuff. Instead I prefer to see Valentines day as a day dedicated to ALL the people in our lives that we love who make our lives special, that be a romantic partner, family members or beloved friends, this way no one feels left out in the act of receiving love. And I whole-heartedly believe that a great way to express love is through homemade food. For this reason I am sharing three very simple sweet recipes that you can prepare and gift to your loved ones as an act of appreciation and gratitude.  

COCONUT POPS


INGREDIENTS

2 c shredded coconut
3 capsules acai (optional)

You will also need:

lollipop sticks
lollipop mould


Dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan.

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Throw the shredded coconut into a food processor and turn the machine on. Let it go until the coconut liquifies (turns to butter).

2. Add the açai powder and continue to blend so it incorporates into the butter. This step is completely optional. The açai adds antioxidants and color to the pops, but they are just as good without it. 

3. Pour the butter into popsicle moulds and add a posicle stick. Make sure that the stick gets covered in the butter so its stable once it solidifies.

4. Place in the freezer for 15 min until they solidify. Then pop them straight out, ready to eat.

* Can be stored in the fridge for weeks.


ROSE & PISTACHIO CHOCOLATE


INGREDIENTS

1/2 c cacao butter
3 tbs raw cacao powder
2 tbs coconut palm sugar
2 tbs maple syrup
Pinch of himalayan salt
2 tbs dried rose petals 
2 tbs shelled pistachios

instructions

1. Start by liquifying the cacao butter gently in a saucepan over low heat. Do not let it boil!

2. Once melted, add the coconut palm sugar, maple syrup, salt and whisk thoroughly until the sugar dissolves.

3. Then add the cacao powder and continue to whisk until everything is well incorporated.

4. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture into a mould (I used a silicone bread mould, but a small baking dish lined with parchment paper will work well too).

5. Sprinkle the pistachios and rose petals over the chocolate.

6. Place in the freezer until it solidifies. Then remove from the mould and brake into pieces.

* Best kept in the fridge.


pistachio goji berry bars


ingredients

1/2 c raw almonds
1/2 shelled pistachios
8 medjool dates, pitted
2 tbs coconut oil
1/4 c goji berries
Pinch of himalayan salt

instructions

1. Place almonds in the food processor and pulse until ground.

2. With the machine on add the dates 1 by 1. Then add the coconut oil.

3. Next add the pistachios and blend again until it combines into the mix. Finally add the goji berries and salt, blend again so the gojis start to brake down and combine into the mix.

4. Line an 8x8 inch square tin (or any baking dish of a similar size) with parchment paper and trasfer the mix into it. Flatten it out with your fingers and the back of a big spoon so it creates a uniform flat layer. Freeze for 15 min. Then cut into 8 bars.

* Can be stored for weeks in the fridge.


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Antioxidant Sweet Beet Bread

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Antioxidant Sweet Beet Bread

This lovely deep magenta-coloured bread is very unusual and will definitely spark conversation! The main ingredient is beetroot, which gives it its color, taste and sweetness. It is not overly sweet and can be enjoyed with sweet and savoury foods alike. It has a very moist and soft texture, similar to that of corn bread. For an extra boost of nutrition I added açai powder, a berry native to the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. To preserve all its goodness, açai is usually freeze-dried and comes in powdered form, sometimes in capsules. This deep purple berry is incredibly antioxidant, 3 times more than goji berries and 10 times more than blueberries. The essential fatty acids and antioxidant powers of this superfood make it a beauty food contributing to a beautiful complexion. For all these reasons this bread has been upgraded to superbread! I bought my açai from OrganicBurst

This alternative to regular bread is not only much healthier because it includes a veggie and a superfood, but its also gluten-free since I used buckwheat flour instead of other glutinous flours. It is delicious with coconut butter, also great with almond butter, as a side to dip into a warm soup such as pumpkin or cauliflower soup, or even eaten on its own. It's just another fun way to get in more veggies and superfoods into your diet.

ANTIOXIDANT sweet BEET BREAD


INGREDIENTS

12 capsules of açai, (open them) or 3 tsp açai powder

3 beetroots

1/2 cup honey

1/4 tsp himalayan salt

1 pasture-raised egg

 

3/4 cup coconut milk

1 cup buckwheat flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

Coconut oil for greasing 


INSTRUCTIONS

1. Pre-heat the oven at 450F/230C. Wash, peel and cut the beets into smaller chunks. Place them on a baking dish lined with parchment paper. Roast for 20 min. Remove from the oven and lower the oven temperature to 350F/175C.

2. In a large bowl mix the flour, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside. 

3. Add roasted beetroots, honey, açai and coconut milk to the blender and blitz until liquified.

4. Add the egg and blend again.

5. Add the beet mixture into the bowl containing the dry mix, and stir thoroughly to combine everything into a uniform dough.

6. Place the dough in a bread mould greased with coconut oil (I use a silicone bread mould). Bake for 30 min, or until a toothpick comes out dry. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely. Then carefully flip mould upside down to release your bread. 


* Store in an air tight glass container for 5 days.


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Banana Cinnamon Granola

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Banana Cinnamon Granola

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This is the perfect fall recipe for granola. It takes about 10 minutes to prepare and 40 to bake. Naturally sweetened with banana and dates and a hint of warming cinnamon, it doesn't need added sweeteners (unless you want it sweeter). In this recipe I used only nuts and superfoods and left out the inflammatory grains typically found granola, so its great for those in a grain-free and sugar-free lifestyles.

I like to eat it with almond milk as a healthy and tasty breakfast; with a cup of plain greek yogurt topped with berries; as a topping to a chia pudding; or simply on its own as a very satisfying snack. The yield of this recipe is not so big, since my equipment and kitchen are small I can't make big amounts, but you can increase the amounts to make bigger batches that can last for months stored in air tight containers. Its a simple, healthy and filling recipe, and I know you will love it!

BANANA CINNAMON GRANOLA RECIPE


PREP TIME: 10 MIN

COOK TIME: 40 MIN

TOTAL TIME: 50 MIN


ingredients

1/2 c almonds, roughly chopped

1/2 c pecans, roughly chopped

1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 tbs chia seeds

1/3 c unsweetened shredded coconut

1 banana

5 medjool dates, pitted

seeds of 1 vanilla bean

3 tbs coconut oil

1 tbs almond milk

pinch of sea salt

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Pre-heat oven at 350F/175C.

2. In big bowl mix all your dry ingredients: almonds, pecans, cinnamon, chia seeds and shredded coconut.

3. Throw all the remaining ingredients in a blender and blend until creamy.

4. Add the wet paste to the dry ingredients in the same bowl and mix thoroughly until everything is well coated. 

5. Line a baking dish with parchment paper and grease it with a touch of coconut oil. Spread the mixture evenly on the dish.

6. Bake at 350F/175C for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, give it a stir to avoid big clumps, and return to the oven. Bake for another 20 minutes, until golden brown. When its done it may still be wet and sticky but thats normal. As you let it cool it will become crunchy. 

* Store it in an airtight container for months!


❤  Eat with almond milk (or any other nut milk).

❤  Eat with plain greek yogurt, topped with berries.

❤  Add it as a topping to a chia pudding.

❤  Enjoy it simply as a healthy snack. Pack it in little single serving bags and its the perfect on the go snack.


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