Posts in Creative Boosts
Cashew Coco Cardamom Truffles ~ An (almost) Sugar-Free Treat

I had a beautiful conversation with Jules the other day about the purpose of, well, all this. It's so easy to get caught up in all of the superficialities of how many followers you have and how large your audiences are and all of that nonsense. Even when you ardently tell yourself that you don't care about all of that. Do ya feel me? Well, hashtag human, as my husband and I like to say whenever we catch ourselves wallowing in one of our less desirable, but very human, qualities. 

Jules really brought it back for me. She asked me to remind myself of my why. Such a simple and powerful thing to do. So I did. And I feel compelled to share it with all of you: 

I want to share health, wellness and lifestyle tools that will support you with tapping into your highest creative potential.

 It's that simple.  

Jules and I also spoke about community and the importance of listening to what our community is asking for. In my last post I already spoke about my passion for connecting with my peeps and listening & responding to all of your questions & curiosities. It brings me so much joy that many of you are actively engaging with the Cardamom and Coffee world. The other day, one of my friends asked me for advice on how she can cut down on eating too much sugar. This is an important question and very much connected to tapping into your creative peak potential. Making shifts to eating more wholesome foods over the past few years has naturally led me to minimize my sugar consumption. I found that as I made these changes I became more focused, more energized and less distracted by cravings, making it easier for me to tap into a state of creative flow.  

There are so many different elements to lowering sugar consumption (which I'm happy to delve into in more detail in a future post). But I've found that one useful tool is to create treats that still speak to your sweet-tooth, but aren't overly sweet. What I've observed over the years is that it's not necessarily the sweetness in desserts that I crave, but rather, the texture. I love things that are creamy, or crunchy, or crispy. Or a combination of these three things. If the texture is there and there's just a hint of sweetness, bam, I'm satisfied. I've also found that if my desserts contain some form of healthy fat, it's easier for my body to assimilate the sweetness, and I'm more likely to feel satisfied because my body is essentially recognizing my treat as a food. I almost always add cinnamon to my desserts; this keeps my blood-sugar levels stable and I don't get that sugar spike & crash. 

With that said, let's segue into this post's featured recipe: Cashew Coco Cardamom Truffles! These delectable little raw treats contain healthy fats (thank you cashews and coconut oil), cinnamon AND the creaminess is all there. They're very satisfying; I've found that my desserty cravings dissipate after enjoying only one or two. And they're also a lovely before bedtime snack (which is when I often crave something sweet), or as a mid-day pick-me-up (they'll boost your energy levels thanks to the coconut oil). Cashews have a natural sweetness to them, so you can make this recipe completely sugar-free, or you can add a dollop of raw honey if you want to add a little bit of extra, but healthy, sweetness. I love them either way.

Ingredients (makes approx. 10-12 truffles)
(use organic whenever possible) 

Food processor or NutriBullet 

2 cups raw cashews
3 tbsps coconut oil
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp ground vanilla bean
1/4 tsp Real Salt
1/4 tsp turmeric powder (optional, I always like to sneak in some of this anti-inflammatory magic)
1/4 tsp fennel powder (optional, for some extra tummy love) 
5tbsps shredded coconut (plus some extra for coating the truffles) 
Raw, unfiltered honey (optional garnish) 

Combine all ingredients except the shredded coconut in your food processor or NutriBullet. If you're using a NutriBullet, I recommend using the flat blade. Grind until everything transforms into a fine powder (this takes about 5-10 seconds). Using a knife, scrape the powder from the sides and continue to grind until you have a smooth and creamy paste (yes, you have just made homemade cashew butter!! =)) Transfer your mixture to a bowl. Place in freezer for 30 minutes, stir occasionally to prevent any clumps from forming. 

After 30 minutes, remove from freezer and stir in the 5 tbsps of shredded coconut. Using your hands, shape the mixture into truffle-sized balls. I use about 1 tsp worth of mixture for each truffle. Spread the remaining shredded coconut on a plate and coat the truffles in coconut (this will help with the stickiness and will allow the truffles to hold their shape). Place finished truffles in a glass container. If you want to enjoy your truffles ASAP, they'll be ready after hanging out in the freezer for 15 minutes. Otherwise, put lid on glass container and place in fridge for 1 hour or longer. When you are ready to taste your treats, you can enjoy them as is, or add a dollop of honey to them. They'll keep in your fridge for several days, if not longer, but you'll probably finish them fairly quickly ;-). 

I am grateful for all of you. Enjoy your treats!!! 

With love & creativity,

Leah
 

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author: Leah Salinas // photos by: Leah Salinas

Summer Stone Fruit Salad

The past few weeks have felt a little challenging. I've felt sad about some of the events happening around the world. And on a more personal, immediate level, I've been going through a period of time where I seem to have an exorbitant amount of paperwork to tend to. I can't think of anyone I know who relishes the act of diving into administrative tasks (although I know you're out there, you lucky souls, you!!), but that doesn't mean that organization and getting all of your ducks in a row isn't absolutely essential. As human beings we tend to seek the path of greatest comfort, so I resisted my pile of paperwork at first. But as you can probably guess, this only made me feel worse. I came to the point where I realized that I was spending all of this time THINKING about doing these tasks, so I might as well just get up off of my booty and actually DO them. And when I finally took that leap (I feel silly referring to this as a leap, but hey, in my case it takes a leap to get into all of that paperwork goodness), something wonderful happened. And yes, it's creativity related (or else I wouldn't bore you with my relationship to administration). Even after only checking some of these items off of my to-do list, I felt like I had created this new space in my mind and in my life. Space that I could now fill up with fresh creative inspiration. This whole experience was a gentle reminder of how important it is to sometimes focus on the boring, organizational stuff. If nothing else, so that you can feel fully supported in knowing that everything is in order when you're turning your attention to the fun & creative work.

What does all of this have to do with summer stone fruits? Well, not much really. Apart from the fact that while I was taking care of administration, and feeling a tad stressed, I reminded myself to turn to things that bring me joy. And right now, one of those things are summer stone fruits. The fresh farmers-market kind, all ripe and juicy and sweet and yummy. I just can't get enough of them. When I bite into them I feel like I'm biting into summer, and all that's wonderful about it; the sunshine, the warmth, the colors and the joy. When I'm at the market, I get so excited about all of those beautiful plums and nectarines and peaches that I sometimes go a little overboard and buy a few too many. Which is totally okay. Because it inspires me to create awesome new recipes to share with you. Like this one. I love dishes that are savory-sweet, and this is definitely one of them. Also, the high-enzyme content in the stone fruits makes this salad really easy to digest, so that your body can access all of those immune-boosting, creativity-building nutrients. Bon appétit =) 

Ingredients (for one large bowl) 
(use organic whenever possible)

1 6oz bag  baby spinach (heirloom spinach is delightful as well, if you can get your hands on it)
1-2 cups of your favorite summer stone fruit, chopped into pieces
1 medium avocado
1/2 cup crumbled goat or sheeps milk feta
1/3 cup pine nuts/ slivered almonds/ sunflower seeds for extra crunch

Salad Dressing

3 tbsps. mustard
2 tbsps. coconut aminos
2 tbsps. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1tbsp. raw honey

Guidelines

Combine all dressing ingredients in a cup or a small bowl, whisk together and set aside. Combine all salad ingredients, except feta & nuts/seeds, in your favorite large bowl. Mix dressing with salad. Garnish salad with feta & nuts. Depending on how much dressing you like, you may have some left over, it'll store wonderfully in your fridge for your next salad adventure. 

Creativity Boosters

All summer stone fruits have amazing creativity boosters. So regardless of which ones you choose, you'll be nurturing your creative vessel (aka, your bod =)). Here are the properties of some of them:

Peaches ~ Peaches are rich in beta-carotene, which protects your cells from free radical damage. In order for your body to be able to absorb beta-carotene, it requires fat (1); the olive oil, avocado & feta in this salad takes care of this =). Peaches are also high in Vitamin C, Vitamin A, potassium & iron. (2)

Nectarines ~ Nectarines have a similar nutritional profile to peaches (they belong to the same species), and they actually have slightly higher concentrations of Vitamin A and C. (3)

Plums ~ The fiber in plums helps to regulate the digestive system. As someone who has experienced a sensitive tummy in the past, I love any type of food that is easy on the stomach and promotes digestion. I feel like I can function so much better creatively when everything down there is working smoothly ;-) Plums are also awesome for your nervous system, thanks to the high concentration of vitamin B-6. They also contain tryptophan, an amino acid that stimulates serotonin production, which supports sleep, appetite and concentration. (4)
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Enjoy your beautiful bowl of summery stone fruit sunshine and may it bring some brightness into your life if you're experiencing any dark moments!

with love & creativity,

Leah

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author: Leah Salinas// photos by: Leah Salinas

Sources

(1) Britton, Sarah. My New Roots: Inspired Plant-based Recipes for Every Season. New York: Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2015. Print. p. 150
(2) ttp://foodfacts.mercola.com/peach.html
(3) ttp://superhumancoach.com/benefits-of-nectarines/
(4) https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/health-benefits-of-plums.html

Cafe Con Coconut Panna
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Father's day is coming up and I share this recipe in honor of my Dad, a veritable coffee lover. Especially espresso. His coffee beverage of choice is Espresso Con Panna- a potent cup of espresso snowcapped with a generous heaping of homemade whipped cream. Being more of a french press kind of gal, and since I love putting my own spin on recipes, I've naturally made this combination my own. While I love the dairy version* of homemade whipped cream, I've found that this coconut cream is a wonderful alternative when I'm in the mood for plant-based foods. Plus, summer finally came to tickle us hello here in LA and right now coconutty things are making me feel summery and happy. 
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Ingredients (yields several servings of cream) 

1 can organic coconut milk (full fat)**
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon organic cinnamon
Dash cardamom
Some organic lemon zest (optional) 

Guidelines

Pour contents of can into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add vanilla extract, spices and lemon zest (if using). Using a hand mixer, whip cream on high until frothy. Garnish a freshly brewed cup of coffee*** with several tablespoons of cream. Store remaining cream in an airtight glass container (this will keep in your fridge for 3-4 days).  

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Creativity Boosters

Coconut Milk ~ is a powerful brain food. This is because it contains medium chain triglycerides, which the brain can access and use as fuel immediately (no need for them to pass through the digestive tract). This means that this coffee combination is amazing when you want your brain to function at super-speed for your very best creative work. 

Cardamom ~ I love sharing recipes that feature this spice. There's a reason I chose to use it as part of the blog's title. Christina Avaness, one of my mentors, and a food guru if there ever was one, first introduced me to the idea that cardamom is beneficial for creativity. While I haven't found any scientific research to back this up, I've found sources that share that cardamom has long been used as an aphrodisiac and mood-elevator****. Our sexual energy is closely tied to our creative energy. I believe that aphrodisiacs, foods that stimulate our libido, by default also stimulate our creativity. 
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In other news, for those of you who are wondering what is going with cacao: a journal, our wonderful Jules is currently embarking on new adventures up in NorCal. She's still very much involved with the C&C world, think behind the scenes work and long, creativity-inspired, blog development-related type of phone meetings. I feel so blessed and grateful to be collaborating with this shining creative soul! If you want to learn more about her work, check out her website and her profile on I Love Creatives
 

Thank you always for all of your support, dear readers, enjoy your coconutty cream, and happy creating! 

With love & creativity,

Leah

* If I'm going the dairy route I like to use organic heavy whipping cream. I always make sure to take an extra glance at the packaging to make sure that there aren't any other ingredients, just pure and simply organic heavy whipping cream.
** I'm not sponsored by these peeps, but I've found that the Native Forest CLASSIC coconut milk works really well for this. While it may seem super rich and creamy, keep in mind that you're only using a relatively small amount on your coffee. Also, their cans are BPA free, which is a huge added bonus. 
*** I love using French-pressed Papua Coffee for this recipe =)
**** http://www.foodalchemyinc.com/Default.asp

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author: Leah Steiner // photos by: Leah Steiner

 

Creamy Goat Cheese Guacamole

As a lover of all things creamy & goat cheesy, I'm surprised that I didn't come up with this combination sooner, but my beau gets credit for this one. As you may have read in some of my previous posts, we recently moved in together, which means that I've now got a co-chef in the kitchen! Bringing someone else into the mix has infused my culinary adventures with fresh inspiration. I can be a little bit of a know-it-all when I put on my chef's hat (#human), but I've noticed that when I put my bossy-pants aside, I can actually get some valuable input from my man. Which yields amazingly delicious recipes. Like this one!

On my quest for discovering foods that nourish creativity, I'm always on the look out for brain- and immune-boosting ingredients. When our brain receives the nourishment that it needs, those synapses can start firing up to generate creative thoughts. And when our immune systems are working optimally, our bodies have more energy to devote to creative endeavors. This recipe features two superstars that support both of these functions:

Avocados ~ The fats in avos keep our brain cells flexible. They are also high in monounsaturated fatty acids which help protect the nerve cells in our brains that support our information-carrying nerves.*

Habañero Peppers ~ These cute but spicy little peppers contain a high concentration of vitamin C; a powerful antioxidant and a potent immunity booster. I've also noticed that the spice in habañeros has an immediate mind-clearing effect. Even a small sliver whooshes straight to my brain and wakes me up. This is awesome for clearing up any brain fog your might be experiencing. 

Ingredients

2 large, ripe avocados
1/4 cup plain creamy goat cheese
Organic Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, a drizzle
2 tbsps lemon juice, freshly squeezed from organic lemons
1 habeñero pepper, thinly slivered
Cilantro, to garnish
Real Salt, to taste
Cayenne, to taste

Guidelines

Combine avocados, goat cheese, lemon juice and salt in a bowl of your choice. Mash until you reach your desired consistency (I'm more of a creamy guac gal, but keeping it chunky is just as yummy). Blend in your small habañero slivers. Drizzle olive oil on top (for an extra brain boost), and garnish with cilantro & cayenne.

I love savoring this recipe with organic sprouted corn chips or thinly sliced raw yams.

Enjoy the brain-boosting and taste-bud tickling effects of this yummy guacamole!

In other news, C&C is now on Bloglovin'! You can start following us by clicking on the icon on the top left-hand corner of the blog or by clicking here: http://bit.ly/cardamombloglovin

As always, wishing you all love & creativity,

Leah

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author: Leah Steiner // photos by: Leah Steiner

Sources:

*http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/avocado-brain-function-6231.html