It’s estimated that honeybees must fly 150,000 miles to produce one pound of wax. That’s pretty spectacular. RESPECT.
Here’s a recipe for a super simple, very nourishing, ultra-moisturizing face cream that only involves two, count it, TWO ingredients: beeswax and coconut oil.
*Please use organic and unrefined whenever possible, especially with the beeswax as it acts like a sponge soaking up and storing chemicals in the hive.
You’ll get a firm yet creamy texture from this recipe. If you want it even firmer add more beeswax. If you want it softer add less beeswax, or conversely, more coconut oil. Because of the coconut oil’s low melting point, on warm days your cream will be creamier and on colder days it will harden. It will also slowly melt in your hand after a few seconds (see below photo). This is all completely normal.
Beeswax and coconut oil are an incredible duo that is truly awesome for the skin. They have antibacterial & antifungal properties, so you could also use this recipe as an organic diaper cream or general skin treatment salve, suitable for babies and sensitive skin irritations alike. It also helps fight acne and wrinkles and is a general skin soother. My fiance likes to use it as hair oil and I often put it on bug bites and use it as chapstick. It’s fantastically all-purpose!
I will say that it can take a couple minutes to completely absorb into your skin. My especially thirsty and sometimes chapped fall and winter skin love this. However, it probably isn’t the best moisturizer for those with oily skin.
This recipe yields about 5 ounces of moisturizer:
- 0.4 ounces or about 2.5 TSP shaved beeswax (of course my shavings will be different than yours, so it’ll be more accurate if you stick to the weight)
- 1/3 cup coconut oil + 1 TBSP
All you have to do is melt the two ingredients together and let cool in your chosen containers. To do this, I fill a sauce pot about 1/4 of the way with water and float a metal or glass bowl on top. You want the bowl to be large enough so that it won’t tip over in the pot. You’re doing just fine if the water touches the bottom of the bowl, and the bowl presses against the sides of the pot.
Bring the water to a gentle simmer, add your beeswax to the bowl and turn the heat off. Use a rubber spatula to swirl and flip the beeswax. Add a little more heat if necessary. Once it’s almost completely melted mix in your coconut oil. This is the point where you can add in other ingredients like shea butter, jojoba or almond oil, grapefruit seed extract, Vitamin E and a couple drops of your favorite essential oil, but I like mine plain and simple.
Once it’s all completely melted, pour into glass containers (wide enough to get your fingers into) and let cool. Then you’re done!
I’ve been pretty much exclusively using this simple DIY moisturizer every day for the past couple of years, and I love everything about it- its subtly sweet smell, creamy texture, all-around usefulness and utter simplicity. I hope you love it too!
Please tell me in the comments below how you use your beeswax and coconut oil cream! I’m always looking for new uses 😉
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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
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?
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 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 loaf 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 the naturally occurring, biodiverse forms of wild yeast that surround 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!
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 (adapted from Sandor Katz’s method):
1.Vigorously stir together 2 cups each of flour and non-chlorinated water (fresh spring water is best) in a large glass or ceramic 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 airflow while guarding from fruit flies and 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, you’re ready to start the feeding process. 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. This will thicken your starter. You want it to have a pancake batter consistency, so add more flour or water as necessary.
6. Your starter is ready to use when it’s nice and bubbly and active. If you’re an avid baker, you can leave your starter out on the counter so long as you feed it a tablespoon or 2 of flour twice a day. For the rest of us non-commitment types, store it in an airtight glass or ceramic jar in your refrigerator. This will dramatically slow the yeast’s activity so it only requires feeding once a week. And 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.
7. Make sure to always replenish your starter after each use! To do so, simply stir in flour and water equal 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 after each feeding before refrigerating. Otherwise, simply replenish and refrigerate!
“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
If you’re worried that your starter is in desperate need of reviving, pour off most of its contents and replenish with plenty of fresh flour and water. What remains of the original starter on the sides of the jar is usually enough to get it going again, but a little extra dollop couldn’t hurt.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Wild Fermented Sourdough Bread Recipe
Once your starter is ready, it’s time to bake. Follow the below recipe for a fool-proof loaf, each and every time!
1/3 – 1/2 cup starter
11 oz. luke warm water (not hot!!)
3 cups organic unbleached flour,
1.5 – 3 teaspoons sea salt (whatever your preference, I recommend all 3 tsp)
Bread flour is of course your best option, but all purpose flour is great too! I personally love King Arthur Organic Bread Flour, and sometimes substitute 1 cup of the unbleached flour for 1 cup organic 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 in your home is hot & dry, try dampening the dish towel.
3. Time to shape your loaf! (This is the best point to add in any additional ingredients to flavor your loaf, such as roasted garlic, rosemary, olives, melted butter, or any other herb and spice combinations you can dream up, so add them in while shaping.) 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, butter, or any preferred fat, and sprinkle with cornmeal, then plop in your shaped loaf, or simply line your bowl with a lightly floured dishtowel and let it rest on top (see below photo for latter method).
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 but at least for 9 hours.
5. Let’s bake! Your loaf should have about doubled in size by the time you’re ready to bake. Preheat your oven to 500°. Grease your dutch oven (I use cast iron, 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 generously sprinkle the pan with either cornmeal or flour. 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 if you’d like. I usually just leave mine be. Quickly now! You want to put the lid back on ASAP to trap all that precious heat and steam!
7. Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on.
8. Reduce heat to 350° and bake for another 15- 18 minutes (less time = a moister loaf) without the lid. I usually pull the loaf out after 16 or 17 minutes. Just keep an eye on that top crust.
9. Let the loaf rest for at least 15 minutes before cutting into it.
Your loaf should have a deliciously crusty crust and soft, moist, fluffy interior filled with gorgeous holes aplenty. Smear it with butter or coconut oil and sea salt, and use it for sandwiches, toast, and dipping.
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
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…
- 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!
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Nothing mentioned in this post is intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.
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.
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!
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!
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
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?