I don’t normally write about politics, but this one’s important…

Yet another unarmed black man was shot the other day. Back on the ground, hands in the air, he shouted over and over “All he has is a toy truck. A toy truck. I am a behavior therapist at a group home.” He was trying to help his autistic patient who wandered away. But that didn’t matter. He was shot anyway, and then, bleeding into the asphalt, hands still in the air, was cuffed as he waited 20 minutes for the ambulance to arrive.

There is so much beauty in our world, so much to celebrate, yet when we turn on the news these appalling stories are all we hear. Will it ever end? Can it? I don’t know, but if Donald Trump is elected president, the one thing I’m sure of is that it most certainly will not. Not with the way he’s riling up so much unfounded hatred. He pretends he cares, that #BlackLivesMatter, but speaking in a city that has continuously suffered from police brutality over the years, not once did he mention a single African American life that’s been unjustly taken in his nomination acceptance speech to the Republican Convention. “Together we will lead our country back to safety, prosperity and peace,“ he said. “Our convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation. The attacks on our policy and the terrorism of our cities threaten our very way of life.” Well, it must be all those “180,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records, ordered deported from our country… roaming free to threaten peaceful citizens,” right? With all this monomaniac fear mongering, not a word of the violence targeted at black men by our uniformed officers. He did point out a completely false statistic about police murder rates, however: “The number of police officers killed in the line of duty has risen by almost 50 percent compared to this point last year.” This is so untrue that the exact opposite is true- police deaths are down.

”America first.” You could hear the crowd cheering “KILL THEM ALL, KILL THEM ALL” as he started on Syrian refugees. He said “I only want to admit individuals into our country who will support our values and love our people. Anyone who endorses violence, hatred or oppression is not welcome in our country and never will be.” But these are refugees fleeing those exact things. They are running as far and as fast as possible away from violence, hatred and oppression. Yet, I shouldn’t be surprised.

This speech, the biggest, most important speech he’s given yet, was a meandering and utterly vague sermon of baseless accusations, extreme hypocrisy, lies, and angry xenophobic sentiment that triumphs on fear. He made grand promises with absolutely no basis for how he would keep them. “Beginning on January 20th 2017, safety will be restored… Inner cities, which have been horribly abused by Hillary Clinton and the Democrat Party, will finally, finally, finally be rebuilt,” he said. “Excessive regulation is costing our country as much as $2 trillion a year, and we will end it. We are going to lift the restrictions on the production of American energy… We will repeal and replace disastrous Obamacare. You will be able to choose your own doctor again. And we will fix TSA at the airports! We will completely rebuild our depleted military, and the countries that we protect, at a massive loss, will be asked to pay their fair share. We will take care of our great Veterans like they have never been taken care of before.” All this while reducing taxes?

My question to all of these specious utopian claims: What exactly, and how? But that’s not the point. The point is only to falsely inspire and sound confident and grow his following notwithstanding any responsibility or real plan. No, he has no plan, and worse, he has no integrity.

Donald Trump republican convention Acceptance speech review.jpg

At the very end of his speech, Trump honed in on “An amendment, pushed by Lyndon Johnson, many years ago, [that] threatens religious institutions with a loss of their tax-exempt status if they openly advocate their political views. I am going to work very hard to repeal that language.” This, my dear ones,  marks the complete annihilation of the separation between church and state, if we allow him to get elected.

What else should we expect from such a pampered, protected man, surrounded by his piles of money, blind supporters and guise of success with an enormous ego responsible for most of his actions? He’s so far removed from the daily struggles any of us face, yet he claims to champion women’s rights and be a defender of black, Latino (I guess he’s referring to the ones that are not rapists and murderers?) and LGBTQ communities. The terrible, harsh truth is that Trump is an evil man with nothing but his own best interest in mind. Under his regime we might all just be left cuffed and bleeding in the streets.

“I will present the facts plainly and honestly,” he said. Less than half of these “facts” were actually true. This man’s pants are on fire, and he’s going to burn us all. Please, I implore you, do not vote for this horrible human. He does not love you.

Angry Donald Trump Republican convention nomination acceptance speech review.jpg

#Smoothiebowl 

  

Ok so I fibbed a lil- this is more of parfait than a smoothie bowl, but I’ve always wanted an excuse to use the hashtag. So there.

It’s so very simple and incredibly delicious, so I had to share:

Start with a base of maple flavored yogurt (I used Milkhouse brand 👌🏼), add sliced strawberries, crushed pecans, hemp seeds and a sprinkling of spirulina.

Super satisfying breakfast. Enjoy!!

  

homebrew kombucha

instagram @bearue photo #homebrew #kombucha An ancient elixir legendary for its health promoting benefits, kombucha has become a staple in many kitchens around the world. You can also find it bottled at your local health food store as well as most supermarkets for around $3.50 per 16 oz. bottle. Or, you can make it yourself for pennies a glass.

Kombucha is simply fermented sweet tea. Anyone can make it at home with the most basic tools. The one thing you probably don’t already have on hand is a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast).

Alive with probiotics, amino acids, B vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and healthy acids, kombucha aids digestion, detoxifies and energizes the body, and supports the immune system. My dear yogi friend Ellie, who was selling her incredible kombucha to several local eateries and food coops, taught me a fool-proof recipe. I’ve used it for over a year now without fail. Simple, delicious and good for the gut.


WARNING
: Scobies can be frightening if you’re unfamiliar with them. They’re rubbery, mushroomy, pancake-like yeast and bacteria cultures that float and carry trails of stringy brown goo. But they are the magical ingredient behind kombucha, so ya gotta get over it. 

bird's eye view of my SCOBY in its glass jar

bird’s eye view of my SCOBY in its glass jar

the stringy brown goo under a SCOBY

the stringy brown goo under a SCOBY

Ready? Let’s brew.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3 quarts water / 12 cups of water
  • 4 teabags  / 2.5 tablespoons loose tea (plain black, green or oolong tea, with no added ingredients, flavors or oils)
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup plain kombucha (from a previous batch or store-bought)
  • 1 SCOBY
Bring water to a boil in a deep lidded pot. Turn off heat, wait a few minutes and stir in sugar to dissolve. Add your tea leaves and let sit overnight or until the tea cools to room temperature. Strain out tea bags/leaves and pour into a large glass or ceramic jar with plain kombucha. Gently slide the SCOBY into the jar (with clean hands!). Cover with a couple layers of cheesecloth, paper towel or an old (clean!) t-shirt and secure with a rubber band to keep out dust and fruit flies. (If you need to divide this amongst several jars, make sure each has its own SCOBY.) Let sit out at room temperature away from direct sunlight in a place with plenty of air flow (not in a closed cabinet) for about 5 – 10 days, tasting each day with a straw or pouring a little out into a glass. Generally you’ll let it sit more if it’s cold out, and less when it’s hot. I prefer my kombucha to be a bit sweet with a slight tang. Once it’s to your liking, either infuse your kombucha with a second ferment, or cover with an airtight lid and move to the fridge.

SECOND FERMENT
:

Add whatever you’d like to infuse your kombucha with (fresh ginger, apples, cardamom, lavender, goji berries or any other herbs and spices you love) to a pressure top bottle. Use a funnel to pour in your kombucha, leaving about an inch of head room. Seal the bottle and let sit out of direct sunlight in room temperature for 1 – 3 days, or no more than half the time you let it ferment during the first round. This will lend some serious flavor and fizziness to your kombucha. Store in the fridge, sealed, for several weeks once done.

NOTE: Refigerate your SCOBY and Kombucha when not wanting to ferment further. During each brew, your “mother” should produce a “baby,” which is often attached to the mother, growing above it. You can peel off the babies and use them for fresh batches, passing the mothers on to friends who want to try their hand at brewing. Be sure to discard your “mother” SCOBY when it sinks, usually after about 6 uses.

I love to mix my kombucha with a splash of tart cherry juice and seltzer or tonic water over ice as a cooling and energizing summer mocktail! What’s your favorite way to drink kombucha?

Wild Fermented Sourdough Bread

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I recently got THE best birthday present everr! My sweet, sweet friend Eliza (who does all the baking and desserts for both A Tavola and The Huguenot in New Paltz, NY) taught me how to bake a damned good loaf of bread. I finally feel I can die an accomplished woman. And it’s not just any loaf, but a wild fermented, completely homemade, no knead, follow-the-recipe-and-you-shall-never-fail whole wheat sourdough loaf. Across many cultures the world over, bread is the sustenance of life. It’s even sparked entire revolutions. It’s about time I learned how to make it!

To get a light, fluffy bread with those delicious holes butter loves to melt down into, you need yeast. It makes the dough rise by transforming carbohydrates into bubbles of carbon dioxide (and alcohol which is cooked off when the bread is baked). This recipe harks back to the traditional way of making bread prior to the commercial production of yeast that occurred in the late 19th century. You couldn’t always walk into a supermarket and snag a few packets of Fleischmann’s dry active yeast… Here we will harness its naturally occurring, biodiverse form that surrounds us constantly in the air we breathe. It’s everywhere, and so anyone can make this bread. All you need is flour, water and salt. It’s that simple!

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Wild fermented sourdough bread is much healthier and easier to assimilate than most other breads. As my guru Sandor Katz says in his famed book Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition & Craft of Live-Culture Foods, “Wild fermentation gives the dough a chance to really ferment, breaking down hard-to-digest gluten into more easily absorbed nutrients, and adding B-vitamins.” Personally, I feel my body digests it very easily, where as most commercial breads weigh me down big time.

To begin, you need starter.  This is simply a reserve of yeasty batter, comprised solely of flour and water. A starter can last a lifetime and be passed on for generations, all the while contained in the same unwashed vessel.

Here’s how to make your own starter (according to Sandor Katz):

1.Vigorously stir together 2 cups each of flour and water (fresh spring water is best) in a large jar or bowl. Feel free to add organic unwashed grapes, plums or berries to lend their chalky film of yeast (aka “bloom”) to speed up the process.

2. Cover with a cheesecloth or dishtowel to allow air flow while guarding from critters.

3. Store your batter in a warm spot, ideally 70° – 80° F, with good air circulation. Stir your batter at least once a day with a wooden spoon to distribute the yeast evenly.

4. Once you notice tiny bubbles surfacing on your batter (not ones caused by stirring!), usually after 3 or 4 days, it’s ready to feed. If this is not the case, try moving it to a warmer spot or adding a teeny bit of packaged yeast.

5. Strain out any fruit and add 1 – 2 tablespoons more flour to the batter every day for 3 days, always stirring vigorously. Though the starter will thicken, you want it to remain liquid in form, like pancake batter, so feel free to add more water if necessary.

6. Your starter is ready to use when it’s nice and bubbly and active. Pour out what you need to bake a loaf of bread, and store the rest in an airtight glass or ceramic jar in your refrigerator to slow the yeast’s activity while keeping it alive.

7. Make sure to always replenish your starter after each use! To do so, simply stir in equal parts flour and water to the amount you poured out. SO, let’s say you used 1 cup starter to bake a loaf. You should then replenish your starter batter with 1 cup flour and 1 cup water, stirring vigorously. If you like a strong sourdough flavor, you can leave your replenished starter out to ferment for 4 – 8 hours. Otherwise, simply replenish and refrigerate!

8. Make sure to feed your starter a tablespoon or 2 of flour each week that you don’t use it to keep it fresh. If you’re planning a trip, you can keep your starter unfed in the fridge for a couple weeks, or in the freezer for longer.

“If you neglect your sourdough, it may get very acidic, then eventually putrid. Up to a point, sourdoughs can be easily revived by feeding them fresh flour. Other organisms dominate after the yeast has consumed all its nutrients. But the yeasts remain present and can usually return to dominance when nourished.” -Katz, Wild Fermentation

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Wild Fermented Sourdough Bread Recipe

wildfermentedsourdoughbread.jpg1/3 – 1/2 cup starter
11 oz. luke warm water (not hot!!)
2 cups organic unbleached flour
1 cup organic sprouted whole wheat flour
1.5 – 2 teaspoons sea salt

Bread flour is of course your best option, but all purpose flour is great too! My baker friend Eliza who taught me this fool-proof recipe prefers King Arthur Bread Flour. I personally love sprouted whole wheat flour.

1. Pour starter into a large glass or ceramic mixing bowl. Add water and salt and stir. Dump in all your flour and stir until well combined. Consistency should be thick and porridgey.

2. Let your batter sit in its bowl covered with a dish towel (so no flies get in) overnight or for at least 8 hours. This is the first ferment. TIP: If the air is hot & dry dampen the dish towel.

3. Time to shape your loaf! Scoop your batter out onto a floured surface and shape it by pulling the edges in towards the middle of your loaf, constantly rotating. If it’s easier for you, simply roll between your palms (while still on the counter) into a ball.* There is no need to knead this bread! 

4. Now you’re ready for the second round of fermentation. You can either grease your glass or ceramic bowl with olive or coconut oil (or any preferred fat) and sprinkle with cornmeal, then plop in your shaped loaf, or, as I prefer, simply line your bowl with your lightly floured dishtowel and let it rest on that. Cover your bowl with a lid or plate and let it sit out on your counter for 4 – 8 hours if you’re available to bake it immediately. Otherwise, put it in the fridge until you’re ready, for up to 2 weeks. 

5. Let’s bake! Your loaf should have about doubled in size by the time you’re ready to bake. Preheat your oven to 425°. Grease your dutch oven (I use a cast iron pot, but enamelware works wonderfully as well) and preheat it for 20 minutes with the lid on to heat through.

6. Once it’s preheated, carefully remove the lid (there should be plenty of steam escaping!) and sprinkle the pan with cornmeal. Gently flip your shaped loaf into the dutch oven. Now’s the time to quickly score the top or pinch and swirl the middle to create a little nubbin. (You can see the end result clearly in my photos!) Quickly now! You want to put the lid back on ASAP to trap all that heat and steam.

7. Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on.

8. Reduce heat to 350° and bake for another 16- 20 minutes (less time = a moister loaf) without the lid.

9. Let the loaf rest for at least 15 minutes before cutting into it.

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Your loaf should have a deliciously crusty crust and soft, moist, fluffy interior filled with gorgeous holes aplenty. Nibble with a little coconut oil and sea salt, or use for sandwiches, toast, and dipping.

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How did your no-knead naturally fermented whole wheat sourdough loaf turn out?! Let me know below! Did you do something differently, or have a question about one of the steps? I’d love to chat about my latest obsession with you! xo bea

The Powerhouse Smoothie


smoothie photo superfoods breakfast

Hello, dear friends!

It’s been a long while, I know. I’ve been pretty wrapped up with this gem of a store called Nectar in the teeny little hamlet (not even a town!) of High Falls in upstate NY. You might not believe me after glancing at the website, but there are only 4 of us women working around the clock to keep it afloat. We bust our butts to offer our neighbors (and now global community through our website!) gorgeous hand crafted treasures from both near and far, most supporting women’s cooperatives, Fair Trade organizations, tree planting initiatives, local artisans and Aids research. We specialize in anything and everything from reclaimed furniture handmade from old palace doors or run down buildings and shipyards in India to exquisite ethnic jewelry, hand blended organic teas, children’s toys and clothes, housewares, tabletop items, bath and body products, pet items, home decor, lighting, art and interior design work. Like everyone else, with such a demanding schedule, I struggle to maintain a balance between my work and personal lives. It always seems to come back to what I eat. Of course there are other factors involved (being physically active, taking time out of the day for myself, being creative, practicing yoga, reading a good book…) but the most important one is making conscious choices about what I put into my body. And that long-winded introduction brings us to…

 

THE Powerhouse Smoothie!raw superfood smoothie

  • fruit (I love bananas, blueberries and raspberries)
  • milk (I use organic non-GMO soy milk)
  • greens (my go-to’s are kale and spinach)
  • nuts and seeds (hemp seeds are my fave and blend well, lending a delcious spoon-worthy thickness to a smoothie)
  • raw local honey and/or bee pollen (helps with allergies!)
  • probiotics (for a healthy gut)
  • supplements, supplements, supplements! (much deserving of its own section…)

Add ingredients to a blender in any preferred quantity (I love to just toss in anything and everything I have on hand) and enjoy!


A Bit About Powerhouse Smoothie Supplements

My time spent at NoniLand in Kauai, Hawaii taught me wonders about the power of raw living foods.  One of my housemates there triumphed over cancer by prescribing to a life based on mainly raw, vegan, plant-based nutrition coupled with lots of yoga, meditation, and nature. One of the things he consumed regularly was raw NoniLand Hawaiian Superfood Formula, composed only of 5 whole superfoods lovingly harvested, dehydrated at low temperatures to retain all living enzymes, and milled into a fine powder: green papaya, noni, Hawaiian sweet potato, ginger, and turmeric. This quinary powerhouse is known to increase energy, strength and stamina while boosting the immune system, offering me the name Powerhouse Smoothie.

Another key supplement I regularly include also hails from magical NoniLand: raw Noni Powder. Noni fruit was brought over to the Hawaiian islands by brave, sea-faring Polynesians who journeyed across thousands of miles of open ocean in giant canoes on a whim of exploration. They brought with them the most essential items necessary to sustain life during their journey, the “Queen” of which was noni. Noni trees produce a pale green, lumpy, egg-shaped fruit called noni with a waxy, semi-transluscent skin. (To put it plainly, it looks like something sent down from outer space.) In its raw state, noni is not very appetizing, and has a strong, pungent odor with a certain, ummmm, piquant flavors (which many would sum up as “yuck!”). As is true with most medicinal foods, the best things for ya usually doesn’t taste so good! But Noni Powder is different- the dehydration process caramelizes the sugars, bringing out the fruit’s natural sweetness, making it barely noticeable in your smoothie! Plus noni fruit is antimicrobial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and full of many powerful antioxidants that are believed to promote wellness, so you’ll definitely want to include a teaspoon or two! Some of its WOW compounds include:

  • selenium (skin elasticity, skin health)
  • xeronine (cell structure health and regeneration)
  • glycosides (defense against free radicals)
  • scopoletin (anti-inflammatory properties)
  • terpine (helps the body detoxify)
  • limonene and anthraquinones (antiseptic properties, particularly for people with compromised immune systems)
  • Omega 3 fatty acids (lowers triglycerides levels and thus your risk of heart disease)
  • potassium (promotes healthy heart rhythm, muscular contraction, nerve function, energy production, and fluid balance)
  • polysaccharide compounds (stimulates white blood cells into overdrive)
  • Ormus elements (known to dissolve bad calcium)
  • the list goes on…

I also like to add powdered Gotu Kola, a precious little green that aids brain function, particularly memory and intelligence. It is also recommended for nervous disorders, epilepsy, senility, premature aging, stress and depression, chronic venous insufficiency, minor burns, scars, scleroderma, skin ulcers, varicose veins, wound healing, parasitic infections, rheumatism, blood diseases, congestive heart failure, urinary tract infections, venereal diseases, hepatitis and high blood pressure… pshew! What’s more- it’s a sacred herb in India, used by yogis to improve meditation and stimulate the crown chakra.

And finally, Magma Plus, my jam- a delicious, slightly sweet yet earthy fine-powdered blend of barley grass, mixed veggies, fruit, herbs and algae that provides a full range of phytonutrients including active enzymes, antioxidants, carotenoids, flavanoids, vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, amino acids, prebiotics, probiotics, and chlorophyll.

 

So there you have it, THE POWERHOUSE SMOOTHIE, chock full of delicious nutritious goodness. Happy slurping!

smoothie photo superfoods noni powder

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Nothing mentioned in this post is intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.

gluten free vegan zucchini muffins!

It’s summer squash season, and I just harvested a foot long zucchini from my garden. That’s a whole lotta zucc! Top of my recipe list this year is zucchini muffins! and these most certainly deserve the exclamation point. Packed with fresh zucchini, dates, almonds and hemp seeds, and topped with buttery crumbles- you’ll definitely be going back for seconds. This moist, just sweet enough, and very satisfying recipe is a must-try for the season, and a healthy one at that- gluten, dairy and guilt free, so you can feel good about indulging!

Muffins, breads, salads, fritters, & fries… tell me your favorite zucchini recipe below.

Paws off my muffins!

vegan zucchini muffins
gluten free vegan recipe | yields 12 muffins

for the muffins:                                 for the crumb topping:
1.5 cups all purpose gluten free flour        1/2 cup raw cane sugar
1.5 heaping cups grated zucchini                 1/2 cup all purpose vegan flour
1/2 cup raw cane sugar                                    1/2 cup gluten free oats
1/2 cup coconut oil                                           1/4 cup dairy free margarine, softened
1/3 cup sliced almonds                                    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup hemp seeds
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/3 cup dates, pitted & diced
2 tablespoons flax meal
2 tablespoons filtered water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Mix flax meal with water in a small bowl and set aside. This will serve as our egg replacement.

2. Prepare the crumb topping: in a large bowl mix together flour, sugar, oats, cinnamon and sea salt. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut in margarine until crumbles form. Set aside.

3. Prepare the muffin batter: in a large bowl mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and sea salt. Set aside. In another mixing bowl whisk together the wet ingredients (soaked flax meal, coconut oil & vanilla extract) and fold in zucchini. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well. Fold in hemp seeds, chopped dates, and sliced almonds.

4. Fill lined muffin tins about 3/4 of the way with batter. Top each muffin with at least a tablespoon of crumb topping. Bake at 350F for about 30 – 35 minutes, or until top is golden brown and a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Let cool and devour!

How do you eat your zucchini muffins?

raw vegan chocolate bars

Chocoholics, rejoice! Your favorite treat will no longer leave you feeling guilty, bloated, or quickly crashing after a much-needed fix. This recipe uses pure, raw, real-deal cacao (pronounced Ka-Kow), the heart of all chocolate. Don’t let Hershey’s or the FDA fool you- true chocolate is not mainly composed of sugar, artificial fillers and processed cocoa devoid of any nutritional value. It’s meant to be nourishing- rich in antioxidants and essential minerals, cacao is a serious mood and energy booster.

Wait a minute… cacao? Don’t you mean cocoa? Err, no. Chocolate comes from small tropical trees called Theobroma cacao. In Greek Theobroma means ‘food of the gods.’ These trees produce thick red and orange pods that shelter white flesh, inside which dark, bitter cacao beans lay snug as a bug.

Fun Fact: pure raw cacao contains more antioxidants than green and black teas, red wine, blueberries, goji berries, acai berries, and pomegranates all together. Raw cacao is one of the world’s most nutrient-rich foods, containing over 1,200 active compounds. It is especially beneficial for our hearts, protecting from heart disease and lowering blood pressure. Cacao also helps reduce bad cholesterol levels. It is an excellent source of magnesium, iron, manganese, chromium, sulfur, copper and zinc, and is rich in fiber. And maybe most well known, raw cacao contains phenethylamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter responsible for producing endorphins that bring about feelings of – sing it with me now – love and happiness.

Over the years the word “cacao” has been Anglicized and incorrectly replaced with the word “cocoa.” However, a recent rebirth of old-world artisanal chocolate making has ignited a return to the sweet treat’s true origins: cacao.

Cocoa is actually a processed by-product of cacao beans that comes in a powder form. It is produced from chocolate liquor, which is made by grinding fermented cacao nibs (bits of de-husked cacao beans) to a gritty, runny paste. The paste is then pressed to separate the cacao butter (fat) from the cacao paste (solids). The solids are then pressed again, dried, and milled into a powder. The Dutch method goes a step further by processing cocoa powder with alkali neutralizes its acidity and produces a milder flavor less bitter than natural cacao. However, this drastically reduces the amount of natural flavonols, or antioxidants, present in the cocoa powder.

Traditionally cacao beans are fermented then roasted to further develop their chocolate flavor and enhance their delicate, sometimes floral subtleties. This method, however, greatly impedes the cacao’s nutritional value by exposing it to high temperatures. My recipe calls for raw cacao paste and raw cacao butter to ensure the most nutritionally dense chocolate. It has endless variations, but the basic rendition below is a great base to start with. You can add just about any fun, fruity, nutty goodness, and subtract as much sugar as you like.

If the chocolate melts and then hardens again, it may appear chalky in appearance.  This is because it has partially or fully “fallen” out of temper.  The chocolate is still fine to eat and perfectly nutritious! The only result being that you may experience a different mouth feel.


raw vegan chocolate bars

vegan recipe | makes many many many bars

2 cups cacao paste
1/3 cup cacao butter
1/4 + 1/8 cup raw beet sugar
1/4 + 1/8 cup raw cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Prep all your ingredients: Shave cacao paste and cacao butter into bits. Mill beet and cane sugar to a fine powder in a coffee grinder, Magic Bullet or Vitamix blender. Chop all your nuts and fruit.

Create a double boiler: Bring a large pot with a few inches of water to a simmer. Cover with a large glass or metal mixing bowl (about 2 – 3″ larger that the pot), making sure the water does not touch the bowl. The bowl should fit tightly into the pot, creating a seal so that no steam escapes.

Temper the chocolate: Securely clip a chocolate or instant-read thermometer to the inside of the bowl to monitor the chocolate’s temperature. Add the cacao butter to the double boiler, stirring gently with a rubber spatula as it melts. Once the butter has melted add half of the cacao paste, a little bit at a time, and continue to stir. Bring the chocolate to 115 degrees, no higher. Then remove it from the heat, wipe the bottom of the bowl, and set it on a heat-proof surface. Add the remaining half of the cacao paste, stirring gently to incorporate. This newly added cacao will bring down the temperature of the chocolate as it melts. Let the chocolate cool to below 84 degrees. Then return the bowl to the pot for 5 – 10 seconds, remove it and stir, repeating as necessary until the chocolate reaches 88 – 89 degrees. (Do not let the chocolate temperature exceed 91 degrees at this point!) Your chocolate is now tempered!

To make sure you have properly tempered your chocolate, spread a spoonful thinly over waxed paper and allow it to cool. When the chocolate cools it should be shiny and smooth. If it is dull or streaky, start the tempering process over.

Pour the chocolate into your molds: BPA free polycarbonate and silicone molds are the best to use, though inexpensive plastic molds are widely and readily available in most craft stores and supermarkets. I’ve even used a rubber ice cube tray and cookie cutters as molds, so get creative!

Pour your melted chocolate into its molds and add your nuts and dried fruit. Allow your chocolate to cool over night at room temperature. Once it hardens your chocolate is ready to enjoy!

Try making stuffed chocolate cups and hearts by pouring a thin layer of chocolate into the bottom of a mold and allowing it to harden. Then add a dollop of nut butter without letting it touch the sides of the mold. Cover completely with melted chocolate and leave out overnight, allowing it to harden completely. You now have peanut butter cups or cashew butter stuffed hearts!

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

ch-ch-ch-chai chia

There’s a lot to be done with chia: you can make it your pet, turn it into pudding, sing a ditty about it, or rub it all over your body. I prefer the pudding, but whatever your chia fetish, just know that it’s a healthy one. (Hmmm, I’m actually not so sure about that.)

What I am sure about: chia seeds (yes, the same ones used with those adorably frightening chia pets, chia people, and, most recently, Chia Obama) are rich in protein (and complete protein at that!), omega-3 fatty acids (even more so than flax), and antioxidants. When compared to other good sources of fiber, chia reigns supreme, beating out even the dry figs and prunes grandma used to feed you when you couldn’t make #2 as a wee one. A true superfood, these teeny tiny seeds are also packed with calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, and zinc. (Don’t tell Popeye, but chia has over 6x more iron than spinach!)

Chia seeds were a staple in ancient Mayan and Aztec diets. They used chia primarily to increase stamina, and thousands of years later, this miracle seed is still being used by runners for long-lasting energy.

Chia seeds have the ability to absorb 9 to 12 times their weight in water. Like flax, a gel-like sac forms around each seed when soaked in liquid, so you can simply toss a tablespoon in a glass of water for your daily dose of protein and omega-3s. They are virtually tasteless, though have a slightly sweet, nutty flavor. Add dry chia to smoothies, oatmeal, baked goods, and salads for added nutrition. Or, try this delicious pudding on for size! (You can eat it, too, though it won’t be as moisturizing.) It’s great for breakfast, desert, or snacking, and can be stored for up to a week in the fridge. For all those tapioca pudding lovers out there, this one’s for you!

All together now: ch-ch-ch-chia!

chai chia pudding
vegan gluten-free recipe | yields about 3 1/2 cups

2 cups of your favorite mylk (I used Edensoy Milk)
1/2 cup filtered water
1/2 cup chia seeds
2 tablespoons agave/raw honey/ stevia
1 1/2 tablespoons loose chai tea / 2 chai tea bags
splash vanilla extract
1/8 cup dried fruit of choice (I used raisins and currants)
1/8 cup chopped/slivered nuts (I used almonds)

Gently simmer, but do not boil, mylk and filtered water in a pot with chai tea for about 10 minutes. Strain liquid into a glass bowl and mix in dry chia seeds. Let sit, covered, in the fridge overnight, stirring occasionally to reduce clumping. (You can soak the seeds for less time, just until you see a gel-like sac forming around each seed, though soaking them for longer increases the amount of available nutrients.)

Just before serving, sprinkle pudding with dried fruit and nuts.

Nom nom nom chia make me happy.


How do you like your chia?

raw carrot ginger flax crackers

Super yum with a satisfying crunch that so many raw foods leave you yearning for, these are a staple in any raw kitchen. These flax crackers are gluten-free, vegan, packed with fiber and healthy omegas, and will make your hair nice and shiny. Simply put, they’re delicious and nutritious!

raw carrot ginger flax crackers

raw vegan recipe | makes about 32 one-inch crackers

1 cup milled flax seeds
1 1/2 cups purified water
1 1/2 cups diced onion
1 large clove minced garlic (about 1 – 1 ½ teaspoons)
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped ginger blended with 2 tablespoons purified water
2 1/2 cups fresh carrot juice pulp
3 1/2 tablespoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos / Tamari / Soy Sauce
3 tablespoons whole flax seeds
2 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons agave
2 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon allspice

1. Mix water and milled flax together in a medium sized bowl and let sit for 10 minutes. In the mean time prep your veggies.

2. Add all ingredients to a large bowl and mix well.

3. Spread evenly onto two dehydrator sheets. Be sure to use parchment paper or Teflex sheets (never wax paper! that could get messy).

4. Dehydrate at 115 degrees for 4 hours, then score the crackers with a rubber spatula. Flip crackers over and remove Teflex sheets. Dehydrate for another 4 hours or until nice and crispity crunchy. OR if you do not have a dehydrator, put these babies in the oven on the lowest setting with the door propped open. Use a fan for circulation if possible (obviously do not put the fan in the oven, just pointed towards the oven). With the oven method you may only have to dehydrate for half as much time, so be sure to keep an eye on these crackers.

Note: If it is humid where you are, you will have to dehydrate your crackers for longer for a crispy cracker. Enjoy alone (yes, they are that good!), with your favorite cheesy spread, pate,  white bean hummus, or dehydrate for less time until pliable and fill with veggies for a filling rawlicious wrap.

Store these crackers in an airtight container (I prefer glass) for several months. (If you are skeptical of the shelf life, keep em in the fridge.) 


Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

a vegan’s best friend: nutritional yeast

The name might sound a bit scary and indelectable, and you may know of a cat with a serious addiction to it, but I promise nutritional yeast is your friend. And a very good one at that.

Let me begin by disavowing the unsavory etymology of the stuff. Some prefer “nooch” over nutritional yeast, a much friendlier sounding label, so let’s stick with that.

What is “nooch” (nutritional yeast)?

A cousin of edible mushrooms, nooch is a yellow flaky or powder supplement made from a single-celled organism, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, which is grown on molasses and then harvested, washed, and dried with heat to “deactivate” it. This means that it has no leavening ability, and will not make your bread rise like baking yeast. It is not active dry, instant or fresh yeast. It is not brewer’s yeast, a very bitter tasting product of the beer-making process. It is not torula yeast. It is also not dairy or whey yeast.

You would never want to substitute any of the aforementioned yeasts for nutritional yeast as 1. it will taste absolutely horrid and 2. you will probably be left with a big frothy mess of a meal.

Why should I eat nutritional yeast?

As the name implies, it is packed with nutrition, specifically the kind vegans crave. Its dietary roster includes B-vitamins, folic acid, selenium, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, and protein. Most brands (not all- check the label) of nooch are fortified with B12, an essential vitamin majorly absent from the plant kingdom. It is also rich in dietary fiber, low in fat and sodium, and gluten-free.

Truthfully, the vitamins and minerals are just a plus for me. It’s the flavor that I love. Nooch is unbelievably savory. Nooch is deliciously nutty. Nooch is incredibly cheesy. All in all, it’s sinlessly delicious.

How should I use nutritional yeast?

The combinations are truly endless, but here’s my favorite ways to eat nutritional yeast:

  • swirl nooch into soup, sauces and stews for more depth of flavor
  • sprinkle it on popcorn
  • toss it on toast with Earth Balance and garlic powder for easy cheesy garlic bread
  • fluff it into mashed potatoes
  • blend it with raw almonds and a touch of lemon juice for a Parmesan substitute
  • shake it with salads or dark greens like kale and spinach
  • speckle it on steamed or stir-fried veggies
  • add it to roasted potatoes fresh out of the oven
  • powder into vegan egg dishes for a more authentic flavor
  • top off any pasta dish for a cheesy finish
  • mix it with gravy for that “umami” touch

Where can I find nutritional yeast?

Most health food stores carry nooch, and often times in the bulk section. Popular brands include Bob’s Red Mill, KAL, Now Foods and Red Star. Chain supermarkets are just beginning to stock their shelves with nutritional yeast, but you can always find it at Whole Foods or online.

How to best store nutritional yeast

Nooch is best kept in an airtight container in a dry, dark, cool place for up to a year. Store it in a pantry, refrigerator, cupboard or freezer.

How do you eat nutritional yeast? Tell us below! We’d love to hear your favorite nooch concoctions…

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