Posts in Raw
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
 

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

Raw Goat Milk Smoothie

I share this recipe fully aware that raw goat milk is a rare and precious commodity to come by*. But as it so happens, I live right down the street from a little store (thank you Cookbook in Echo Park!) that carries this amazing food. Jules bought a bottle of it last week and offered to share some with me. I blended some into my smoothie and...WOAH. Seriously...woah. I felt incredible for the rest of my day. Now my feeling incredible could've been attributed to any number of things. But over the years I've become hyper-aware of how different foods affect my overall wellbeing. And I tell ya, this raw goat milk smoothie was a whole new experience altogether. I felt energized, happy, clear-minded and my body felt full. Not in a stuffed, I-ate-too-much kind of way. But more in a, my body just received all the nutrients it needed kind of way. 

Now, if you don't live near a raw goat milk source, or the idea of consuming it doesn't speak to you, try making this smoothie with pasteurized goat milk**. This is still an amazing, nutrient-rich food which is much more easily digestible than cow's milk. Cow's milk contains A1-beta-casein, whereas goat milk contains A2-beta-casein, a protein that is far easier for the human body to digest. If you want to learn more, check out this super comprehensive overview of all the great benefits that goat milk has to offer: http://draxe.com/goat-milk/

Ingredients (for one serving)

1 cup raw goat milk
1/2 fresh organic pear (papaya or pineapple both taste awesome as well) 
1/2 banana ***
1 avocado sliver (for extra creaminess :-))
1 teaspoon freshly ground ginger
A sprinkle of lemon zest from organic lemons
1 teaspoon fresh raw bee pollen (optional) 
2 spring water ice cubes
1/4 teaspoon ground raw vanilla bean
1/4 teaspoon organic cinnamon powder
Touch cardamom (for an extra creativity boost ;-))
Dash cayenne (for you fiery ones out there)
Pinch Real Salt

Directions

Give your lemon and pear a thorough wash. Grate your lemon to yield the lemon zest (this is one of my secret ingredients which gives this smoothie a fragrant citrusy aroma that blends really well with the other ingredients.) Peel and grate your fresh ginger. Place grated ginger, lemon zest and remaining smoothie ingredients in a blender. Blend until desired consistency is reached. If you find your smoothie is too thick, you can either add more milk or a little bit of spring water. 

Spring is blossoming here in the City of Angels, which means its occasional runny eye and nose season- yes, allergies are in the air! Whenever I feel any of these springtime symptoms coming on, I like to blend some local fresh raw bee pollen into my smoothies. This offers almost instantaneous relief. Usually you can find this good stuff at your local farmer's market.


There's an ongoing debate about whether raw milk consumption is healthy or harmful. There are many many articles out there that offer a lot of information on the topic. When it comes to areas such as this, I'm a big believer in informing yourself and then making up your own mind about what resonates with you. I believe that we have an innate ability to tune in and discern which foods are beneficial to us at any given time. So if trying raw goat milk speaks to you, go for it! If it doesn't, then leave it be. It's important that we feel good about the food that we put in our bodies. 

Cheers, enjoy and be well. May this fuel you for a gorgeously creative day. 


*For my fellow Californians, check out this link to find stores that sell raw goat milk from a source with excellent farming practices: http://claravalefarm.com/pages/where-to-buy-raw-milk
** For pasteurized goat milk, Summerhill Dairy is one of my favorite brands =)
*** I've mentioned this in a previous post; it's a good idea to let your bananas suntan for 3 hours. Bananas are gassed when they're picked to keep them from ripening too quickly. Laying them in the sun allows them to release these gases. 

author: Leah Steiner // photos by: Juliana Mariia Rose @jules.m.rose

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