Crazy fo’ cacao

cacao bean and cacao powder

cacao bean and cacao powder

Ok, nearly everybody knows dark chocolate is good for you.  Why?  Out of all the chocolates (ie. white, milk, dark) it’s the richest in antioxidants and heart-healthy polyphenols and flavanols.  This is attributed to the cacao content.

But have you heard about its other surprising benefits – cavity inhibitor or intelligence booster, you say?  Further research into cacao:

1.  A naturally occurring cocoa-powder extract may be added to future toothpastes in the US.  Apparently the extract hardens tooth enamel.  Harder enamel = stronger teeth = added resistance to decay.

2. Eating just one serve of chocolate each week lowers the likelihood of a stroke by 22% compared to non-chocolate eaters.  The likely cause is the high flavonoid content.  Research also indicated that even in the event of a stroke, chocolate eaters were 54% more likely to recover!

3. Chocolate lowers blood pressure in hypertension sufferers.  How?  The flavanols assist in widening blood vessels.  Apparently a 125kJ serve each day was sufficient to have a beneficial impact on blood pressure.

4.  Flavanols and antioxidants are known to increase blood flow to not only the brain but the retina.  The effects of this are improved mental clarity and eyesight.  Win!

open cacao bean

open cacao bean

As if you needed more reasons to eat chocolate, right?  I know I don’t need any.  As hubby will confirm, I find it difficult to function without having some every day.

To celebrate the research findings from scientists around the world.. it is only fitting to share a raw chocolate recipe!

This basic recipe can be tweaked according to your liking!  Choose any toppings you like, you are only limited by your imagination.  Chop some nuts (pistaschio, almond, macadamia etc), dried fruit (apricot, figs, goji berries), carob nibs, even crystallized ginger.  Other recipes I’ve seen have added essential oils such as peppermint and orange.

Ingredients:

100g melted coconut oil

150g raw cacao powder

50g melted cocoa butter

6-8 tbs agave / stevia / your sweetener of choice

1/2 cup toppings

choc + coconut

choc + coconut

Food process all ingredients except the toppings. (If you don’t have a food processor just make sure you mix very well in a bowl).

Taste – if not sweet enough for your palate, add in more agave or whatever sweetener you are using.

Stir in toppings into the melted cacao mixture thoroughly.

Spread with a spatula on a large flat surface such as a baking tray or you can pour them into ice block trays.

Refrigerate until set (minimum 1 hour).

Revisit childhood and proceed to lick spatula and bowl clean.  Sigh blissfully.

TIP:  Adding in bits of coconut flesh is delish.

Try not to scoff all in one sitting!  Freezes well 🙂

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Cabbage: The Chinese fountain of youth

raw cabbage saladLast week I met food coach Marion Egger.  A food ‘coach’, you say?  What is that?  Well, similar to how a sports coach motivates, advises and trains athletes to improve their performance, a food coach does the same except with food.  They assist clients in maximising their output by changing their input (ie. food intake).

Anyway, I really liked her cabbage salad, and so decided to play around with it.

The phyto-nutrient rich cabbage belongs to the “Brassica” family of vegetables.  Other brassica veges are brussels sprouts, cauliflower, bok choy, kale, Chinese cabbage and broccoli.

I know cabbage is good for you.  I mean, really good for you.  It’s probably one of the most under-rated veges out there. The health benefits are impressive:

  • Nutritious yet low in fat and calories. 100 g of leaves provide just 25 calories.
  • Powerhouse of antioxidants (thiocyanates, indole-3-carbinol, lutein, zea-xanthin, sulforaphane, isothiocyanates) which protect against breast, colon, and prostate cancers and help reduce LDL levels in the blood.  LDL is the “bad cholesterol” peeps, in case you’re wondering.
  • Rich in Vitamin C (61% of RDA per 100g).  Regular consumption of vitamin C-rich foods helps the body develop resistance against infection and free radicals.  Cabbage also contains essential vitamins B-5 (pantothenic acid), B-6 (pyridoxine) and B-1 (thiamin).
  • It also contains minerals potassium, manganese, iron, and magnesium.
  • Provides about 63% of RDA levels of Vitamin-K, which gives you strong healthy bones. In addition, vitamin-K is a known cure for Alzheimer’s as it limits neuronal damage in the brain.

cabbage in the raw

Cabbage and Mushroom Salad

¼-½ head of white or red cabbage (shred finely with a knife)
½ Spanish onion
½ parsnip, thinly sliced
2 handfuls of roughly chopped broccoli
¼ carrot, thinly sliced
½ cup of sesame seeds
Sliced mushrooms

Dressing:
fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
tamari
1 clove of garlic chopped
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp cayenne pepper or chilli powder
EVOO

Mix all ingredients together and marinate for at least 30 mins.

The original recipe called for radish (instead of parsnip) and sunflower seeds (in lieu of sesame seeds).

Hope you like it as much as I do! 🙂

Faultless foul (fool): Discover a famed Arabic favourite

I visited a friend who’s husband was diagnosed with bowel cancer just over 2 months ago.

Bizarrely, he looked even better than when we last met.

The diagnosis had prompted him to kick several habits:  smoking, white sugar, 3 x cokes a day, penchant for red meat and all things classified as junk food.

He’s been on a vegetarian diet ever since and he certainly does not look like a man who has undergone three courses of chemo.

Below is a cartoon that hubby forwarded to me last week.  It serves as a timely reminder you won’t be able to take care of anyone else, if you neglect to take care of yourself first.

Don’t let anyone convince you that you’re selfish for wanting to make time for yourself!

So go ahead.. the dishes / laundry / cooking / < fill blank here > can wait an hour or two while you take care of you.

hobbs

calvin and hobbs cartoon

As an ode to him and his battle, I wanted to share a recipe he made for us a while back.

Being of Arabic descent, he made us a traditional dish called fool (also spelt foul in some instances) which is comprised of fava beans.

He recalled this dish as being for the ‘working class’ as it has very simple and few ingredients.  Don’t let that “fool” (insert cringe here) you into thinking this is an ordinary dish.  The flavours are sensational, and it’s usually served with felafels and pita bread.  I’ve also substituted the fava beans for whatever I have on hand – it works equally well with borlotti, butter or kidney beans too.

Arabic Foul

1 tin Fava Beans
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4-6 tbs tahini
Olive oil
Salt
Parsley
Lemon juice (one whole lemon)
Chilli flakes (optional)

foolin' around. ok i'll stop now.

foolin’ around. ok i’ll stop now.

In a bowl, mash half the beans and mix the tahini, garlic, salt, and lemon juice with it.  Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.

Add the other half of the beans and mix together.

Transfer to a plate, sprinkle with chopped parsley, chilli flakes and lashings of olive oil.

Hubby likes to add a chopped tomato on top for extra colour.

Le premier blog post: from routine to raw

Le premier means “the first” in French.

After frequent prods over the year by my husband, close friends and newly-met acquaintances to start a blog… I have finally taken the plunge and dived in.

So yes, hopefully this is the first of many upcoming posts by moi.

I’ve always had an uncanny preference for raw or very slightly cooked food.

Even when I was in single digit years, I recall liking soup at room temperature and other traditionally hot dishes such as pasta and toasted sandwiches chilled!  It has only been in the past few years that I discovered this preference of mine is actually quite a widespread food philosophy often called the “raw food movement”.

I’ve read several books on the subject and won’t go into the health benefits here.  But I’ve met a few people who healed themselves of various diseases and ailments such as arthritis, diabetes, cancer, tumours to name a few.

Vegetarian since I was 15, transitioned to vegan for a while now, and consuming about 80% raw – I’m feeling great!  The choice to stop eating meat came unexpectedly and abruptly.  One day I was eating a burger, looked down at it half-eaten and felt thoroughly disgusted by it.  And myself.  What had become my favourite go-to meal since childhood now repulsed me.  I threw it away half-eaten and have never looked back.  Just like that.  So yes, a very rapid conscious decision.  What can I say, I’m known to never do things by halves.

I come from a family that eats anything and everything (from turtle soup, sheep balls, frog legs, chicken gizzards and everything in between!) whether it be breakfast, lunch or supper, you can be sure at least one dish has parts of animal in it.  Needless to say, they continue with their eating habits while I have mine.  For many years they couldn’t understand why I no longer ate meat, and did their best to offer me traditional Asian delicacies such as BBQ pork, sizzling beef or crispy skin chicken.  I did not waver and several years later… they have accepted it and are sure to order more veg, tofu and tempeh dishes when we dine out.  Hurrah.  Only took half a decade.  LOL.

Anyway, just last week I brought some home-made cookies to a potluck dinner at a friend’s house.. and again to a raw food picnic.  It was gobbled up by all, and the recipe was requested by many so here it is.  I luuuuuuuuurrrrveeeeeee my desserts, however a little sweetness goes a long way for me so if you find you need it, add 2 tbs agave or stevia.

Raw Oat ‘n’ Fruit Cookies
 
2 cups rolled oats
2 cups chopped dried apricots
1/2 c chopped prunes
1 c dessicated or shredded coconut
1 grated apple (I used green granny smith)
3-4 tbspn coconut oil (to bind)
1-2 tbs lemon zest (you can add more if you prefer)
1 tsp vanilla essence
pinch of sea salt
 
Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until well combined and a rough ‘dough’ is formed.  Taste.  Tweak flavours to suit  your palate.
 
Using your hands, shape into balls and press down to form a cookie shape.  You can also shape into bars.. kinda like a muesli bar.
 
That’s it!  You can even dip half the cookie in melted raw chocolate and let it cool.
 
I don’t have a dehydrator, so I set the cookie at room temperature for a few hours somewhere warm or in sunlight, then put it in the fridge.
Lasts for 4-5 days in the fridge.  Freezes well.
Till next time!
F

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