Posts in Dessert
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

Chocolatey Banana Cake

Dear Everyone!

Today's post is a special one for me. I posted a picture of this scrumptious cake on Instagram a couple of weeks ago and received several requests for the recipe, which led to the creation of what you are reading right now! The reason that this is so special, is that I am very passionate about community engagement. And nothing could bring me more joy than to share a post that is inspired by my community. 

This cake is a take on Christina Avaness' recipe for Chacocoban Cake in her book Living Beyond Organic- nutritional knowledge redefined! (1) Christina is my dear friend and mentor and she has taught me so much about foods that nurture my body and my creativity. So it's a huge honor to share this yumminess in honor of her! 

And since I always like to weave in my two cents as far as creativity goes... even though this recipe is a desserty treat, it'll still nourish your creative vessel thanks to an abundance of coconut oil, dark chocolate and, of course, BANANAS. The medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) found in coconut oil feed your brain cells and boost your energy & endurance. Dark chocolate and bananas are both memory and mood boosting. Also, I love this recipe because it doesn't require any added sugar. The sweetness comes purely from the bananas & the dark chocolate. So you don't end up getting a crazy sugar rush, but rather, can focus fully on tasting all of the yummy flavors. 

Ingredients
(use organic whenever possible)

One 9" x2" pie dish (I know this technically isn't a pie, but for some reason I enjoy using a pie dish when I'm making this cake) 

4 large bananas (as ripe as possible. If they're already starting to look brown and kind of unappealing, that's exactly how you want them to look =))
1 cup raw coconut flour
1/2 cup organic sprouted wheat flour
1/2 cup organic barley flour
2.5 cups goat milk (any type of nut milk works great as well) 
3/4 cups raw coconut oil
3oz 70% organic baking chocolate, chopped into course chocolate chips (I love Theo. If you want your cake to be really deep and chocolatey, you can use a higher cacao percentage. But because I'm not using any other types of sugar, I've found that I like my chocolate chips slightly sweeter for this recipe)
1/2 cup dry roasted almond slivers (optional, for extra crunch)
3 tsps organic vanilla extract
2 tbsps organic baking powder
1/2 tsp organic baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch Real Salt
organic chocolate syrup (to drizzle on top, optional) 

Preheat oven to 375º. Combine bananas, vanilla extract and coconut oil in a bowl, mash together with a fork. Stir in chocolate chips and almond slivers. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and Real Salt. Whisk until all dry ingredients are distributed evenly. Add dry ingredients and goat milk to banana mixture in half-cup increments, gently stirring as you go along. Once all ingredients are mixed together, add to greased pie dish (I used the leftover coconut oil to grease my dish). Place in oven. Bake for 45-60 min. Note that your knife will never come out completely clean because of the moisture of the bananas. Remove from oven & let cool. Once the cake has cooled, I love drizzling it with organic chocolate syrup. 

This cake is super yummy by itself. But I can imagine that adding a scoop of vanilla coconut milk ice cream will make it even more decadent. 

Other than chocolatey banana cake goodness, things that are happening in my life right now include: another secret project I am working on! I say another, because before it was birthed into creation, I referred to this blog as a "secret project" as well. I've found that there's a certain power in not revealing what you are working on until it becomes a tangible, concrete thing. That doesn't mean that I'm not bursting with excitement to share this secret endeavor with you all, but I know that for the time being, I'll pour that energy into the work of completing it. So, I better stop writing about it before something slips out... 

May this yummy banana cake treat your creativity, your sweet tooth and your soul.

I wish you all so much creativity, joy and inspiration.

Leah 

--
author: Leah Salinas // photos by: Leah Salinas

Sources

(1) Avaness, Christina. Living Beyond Organic- nutritional knowledge redefined!. Las Vegas: Tiara Publishing, 2009. Print. p. 154

Banana Raspberry Ice Dream

SUMMER is finally here in LA and boy, am I loving this HEAT. My creativity thrives when it is bright and hot outside. Ever since the the temperatures began soaring two weeks ago, I've felt this fresh energy and inspiration coursing through my being. That said, a few of those days have belonged to the crazy hot category, where I've felt my body going from loving the heat, to feeling slightly over-heated. Our home doesn't have air-conditioning, so I've been coming up with other creative solutions to cool down my body temperature. And naturally, some of those incorporate food and nurturing the creative vessel (aka, our beautiful bods ;-)). Enter: Banana Raspberry Ice Dream. My husband and I both love ice cream, but we've noticed that the store bought kind, even the plant-based versions, haven't really been jelling with our tummies. Since one of my joyous obsessions is creating recipes that not only nurture the body, but also the heart and the soul (which ice cream definitely does), I knew I had to come up with a tummy-friendly version. This is the result; a delightfully creamy ice cream concoction full of creativity boosting ingredients.
--

Ingredients (for two small servings, or one large one)
(use organic whenever possible)

2 frozen bananas (medium-sized, sun-ripened)
1/2 small ripe avocado
1 cup frozen raspberries

1 tsp sunflower lecithin (non-GMO), this will really make your ice-cream creamy
or,
1 tbsp. organic sprouted brown rice protein powder
(I like using a vanilla flavored variety to add an extra vanilla-ey flavor) 

1/4 cup goat or coconut milk (or as needed to blend your Ice Dream)
1/2 teaspoon raw ground vanilla bean
dash cinnamon
sprinkle of Real Salt
1 acidophilus capsule (optional, for some extra tummy love) 

For the toppings: Whatever your dreamy heart desires. I love sprinkling raw cacao nibs and roasted almonds on top. Ms. Juliana Mariia Rose created a similar version of this recipe and she topped hers with spirulina powder, which is nutritious, adventurous and awesome. Have fun coming up with your own topping creations! 

Guidelines

I like chilling my bowl & spoon in the freezer before serving so that the ice-cream stays cold for longer. Combine all ingredients in a blender. If using, open up your acidophilus capsule and sprinkle powder into the blender. Blend on high. Add extra goat milk in small increments if your ingredients aren't blending, you're looking for a creamy ice-cream consistency. Transfer ice-cream into your chilled bowl and add desired toppings. Enjoy, my friends =) 

Creativity Boosters

Bananas ~ Bananas feed your brain and your spirit! Tryptophan, an amino acid found in bananas, boosts your memory and your mood. These yummy fruits are also high in potassium, which supports the process of sending more oxygen to brain, so that it can function at its peak. Potassium also helps to relax your muscles and regulate your blood pressure, which decreases tension and stress in the body.  Overall, bananas maintain stable blood sugar levels to keep you feeling happy and balanced. 

Raspberries ~ Raspberries may seem tiny, but they're mighty. They're potent brain boosters. Animal studies have shown that there's a positive correlation between the flavonoids found in raspberries and memory improvement. Anthocyanin, a colorful antioxidant found in raspberries support neurons in the brain by giving them more energy. 
--

As I was writing this post I couldn't help but think back to Juliana's beautiful piece about Chocolate & Joy. I feel that ice cream too is one of those wonderful things in life that creates joy. And with joy comes creativity. Especially if the source of your joy is good for every part of of your being: the mind, the spirit & the body. Which, I assure you my friends, this ice cream recipe definitely is. So, go on, enJOY! 

With so much love & creativity,

Leah

--
author: Leah Steiner // photos by: Leah Steiner

Sources

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/271157.php
http://www.foodmatters.com/article/25-powerful-reasons-to-eat-bananas
http://bembu.com/potassium-benefits
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/283018.php
http://www.healthsomeness.com/raspberries-benefits/

truffl'd raw chocolates & a recipe

part deux // piece two

we thought we'd kick off our first real CACAO post with the recipe that started it all: truffl'd raw chocolates!

as you may already know (and if you’re one of my friends reading this you probably already know), i make raw chocolate truffles (they're more like little delicious melt-in-your-mouth chocolate nuggets) -- the key piece being they are made of raw cacao instead of your typical chocolate made out of cocoa. cocoa is roasted bean. cacao is the raw good stuff.

so i might as well tell you, this recipe is not really a recipe.. it’s more of a guideline, for you, and for me. it’s what’s come out of a lot of experimentation and is quite simply my unique way of combining the ingredients. there are tons of chocolate recipes out there (search Chocolate-anything on Pinterest and prepare to oggle). the very first time i made proper chocolate, i followed the recipe of one of my favorite seasonal cooks Sarah Britton of My New Roots. it was yummy and delightful, as all her recipes are, but i knew it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. i like Super dark chocolate andd... i didn’t want it to have a lot of sugar, if any. and quite honestly i wasn’t finding what i was looking for, so i set out to figure out how to make it myself.  if you’re not seeing what you want in the world, you make it yourself right?

when i did that, i was really thinking it would be just for me - as in, i’d be the only person who enjoyed this super dark chocolatey stuff; to my surprise it was really well-loved and well-received by those around me, most especially my roommates who got to be my delightful and delighted guinea pigs :)

why raw cacao? well, i noticed these tend to be the most expensive chocolates, so i figured there must be something to it. that’s one. and two, i’d been interested in raw foods for a good while, so i figured it was worth a shot. never did i imagine the profound effects cacao would have -- which i’ll get into deeper in a later post. 

and well, here's where the magic happens…. :]

before you, you have your sort-of recipe. this is an open invitation to fail, succeed, trust where your intuition leads you. Play! have fun, Experiment! in essence, all you really need are three ingredients to make chocolate - cacao, a good fat, and a sweetener of choice. i've given you some guidance on proportions and such, but really, let freedom ring! it may take a couple of goes to get it to your exact liking, but truly it's hard to go wrong. that's one of the many amazing things about making chocolate - it'll always be tasty, and messy! :) i urge you to make some of it up as you go . 

MAGICAL RAW CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES: THE RECIPE 

(prep & cook time: this should take no longer than 90 mins including cleanup time. i am one for simple no-fuss recipes that require as few conventional appliances as possible).

*ingredients for magical raw chocolate truffles*:

  • raw cacao butter **
  • raw cacao  **
  • vanilla (i use vanilla bean but i imagine extract could work too!)
  • coconut oil (organic virgin or extra virgin)
  • cinnamon (i like grinding whole cinnamon sticks, the fresh-ground flavor is truly incomparable!)
  • salt (i use Real Salt for its specific health properties)
  • your sweetener of choice (syrupy consistency works best; i use raw honey or organic brown rice syrup and would like to invest in Yakon syrup - there couldn't be a better fit for chocolate!)
  • love <3 (but seriously this last one is the key ingredient in my opinion :))

*basically all the ingredients should be as close to their natural states as possible. you can also make this recipe without cacao butter; the butter adds the richness and cohesiveness and the amazing smell. yumm

**organic and fair trade are really important when it comes to chocolate; much like coffee, common practice is to use pesticides and unfair working conditions for the people who grow this amazing food. please consider this when you purchase your chocolate

step 1: use what you've already got in your kitchen. this recipe is all about simplicity! what are the basics you have (or want) in your kitchen, and go from there. seriously, if you have cocoa  (instead of cacao) - use that! it's all about the process anyhow, like many if not most things in life. and trust me you're going to want to make these again - so use what you already have and go from there :]
step 2: melt three cups (total) coconut oil and cacao butter in a makeshift double boiler (or real double-boiler if you happen to have one :]). i go for as low a heat as possible to preserve the "rawness" of this recipe, but you can go as hot as you want. the coconut oil melts first and actually helps the cacao butter melt. i do roughly ⅓  coconut oil to ⅔ cacao butter. any combination of the two goes. the more coconut oil you put, the more melt-in-your-mouth (and in-your-hand) effect you’ll have.
step 3: while the cacao butter-coconut oil blend is melting together, put a couple tsp's vanilla, and a couple tsp's cinnamon + a tiny pinch of salt in a large mixing bowl. 
step 4: once the cacao butter-coconut oil is fully melted, pour it into that large mixing bowl. grab a sieve if you have one and sift raw cacao powder into the oil while you whisk ‘em together. keep sifting cacao in until you’ve reached your desired flavor - ie. darker or more milk chocolatey.* your arm will get a workout :O. Add in a syrupy sweetener, as much as you prefer, and you can continue adjusting the cacao powder to sweetness to fats ratio* as you go.

*you’re going for ooey gooey fudgy consistency (where you have to scoop out the mixture with a spatula) or a more liquidy consistency (where you can pour the mixture into the molds right from your mixing bowl). either yields amazing chocolate. i’ve had chalky chocolate and more buttery-rich chocolate - both are yum! the fun part is you get to play around, and see what you like! same goes for sweetness. i add raw honey if i’m looking to up my sweetness - a little bit goes a long way and it happens to have incredible health benefits :]

step 5: when you like what you've got, pour the chocolatey mixture into a mold. i use small ice cube trays. (if you’ve made your chocolate quite dark and are using full-sized ice cube trays, i recommend cutting your chocolate into at least 2 or 3 portions when it comes time to enjoy them as the energizing effects of cacao can be quite intense, especially if you’re more susceptible to caffeine). place molds in your freezer to cook. in 20-35 minutes they’re ready to punch out of the molds and enjoy. store in sealed container (mason jars are super) in the coolest section of your fridge or in a wine cooler. *refrigeration is just to keep the coconut oil from melting and preserve the shape of your truffley chocolatey nuggets.

final tidbits: i tend to play around with a lot of different ingredients - i call these confetti ingredients. i happen to have a small confection of things in my pantry, so sometimes i’ll add cayenne, spirulina, things like that to the mix. you can pretty much add in any additional ingredients you want, as long as it doesn’t sacrifice the overall consistency of the truffle; meaning, as long as it doesn’t get too powder-packed. i typically add in more of the liquidy coconut oil-cocoa butter blend to bring it back to smooth delightful dark chocolatey goo.  

in closing: what i find truly great is these never come out perfect. there. is. no. perfect. chocolate. yup, i said it. what a relief right?! they’ll pretty much always taste good no matter what, because you’ve got an awesome combination of ingredients. and you know generally speaking what you intend to make out of this combination. and then well presto- you’ve got magical delicious yummy chocolate bringing joy and energy and inspiration to everyone who has ‘em, including you.

P.S. you can save some of your mixture and add it to the bottom of a small mug to make a raw chocolate cup! it's delightfully fun to scoop out

that’s all for now. more on chocolate-making and the specific ingredients that make up this wonder of a food coming up <3

with love & chocolate,

Juliana Mariia Rose & Leah Salinas