Homemade Chocolates

Hello! Several years ago, I learned how to make raw chocolates from scratch. I believe that it was a recipe by Any Phyo that I found in the book and wanted to give a try as the chocolate-making at home seemed to be a pretty straightforward process.

In reality, the process was straightforward and a bit messy, however, the results were totally worth all the efforts. The homemade chocolates were so heavenly delicious that the store-bought varieties could not come anywhere close. Since then, I experimented with many different raw chocolate recipes. There are many variations posted on the internet. Some of them recommend using fewer oils or fats and more of the cacao powder, and vice versa. Others called for different types of sweeteners such as maple syrup or honey. All these recipes turned out pretty good. One thing I want to mention is that the quality of the ingredients really matters! To get the best tasting, smooth, homogenous, bitter-sweet chocolate, use the best ingredients that are available. You want to select the ingredients that are raw, unrefined, organic, and pure (without additives or preservatives or flavors). Today, I’m sharing with you one of the recipes that I like the most; I can call it a “full-proof” recipe. Every single time I followed this recipe, I got great results.

 Download the recipe!

The ingredients:

  • 1/8 cup raw, unrefined, virgin coconut oil
  • 1/8 cup raw cacao butter
  • 1/4 cup raw coconut nectar or any other liquid sweetener (maple syrup, date syrup, or honey)
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder

Equipment:

  • A double boiler (or a large and a small pot) for melting the coconut oil and the cacao butter
  • A wooden teaspoon
  • Silicone molds

The method of preparation:

  1. In a double boiler, bring 2 cups of water to a boil and turn the heat off. Alternatively, boil the water in a large pot and put the dry and empty smaller pot into it.
  2. Place cacao butter in the double boiler (or into a smaller pot) and allow it to melt completely. Add coconut oil and let it melt as well. This step may take a few minutes.
  3. When both fats turn into liquid, stir in the liquid sweetener of your choice.
  4. When the liquid becomes homogenous, add cacao powder and mix it all well. The final mixture looks glossy and homogenous and has a rather thick consistency.
  5. Start filling up the molds using a teaspoon. If the chocolate mixture hardens, warm it up a bit to make it liquid. Place the filled with chocolate molds into a freezer for at least 8 hours to firm up.
  6. To serve, press the chocolates out of the molds. Enjoy with tea or fresh vegetable juice. Store in a refrigerator for up to 14 days.

Enjoy! Nataliya

References: Baird, L. & Rodwel, J. (2005). The complete book of raw food. Healthy Living Books: New York, NY

Making Herbal Powders

Hello! This week, I made my own herbal powders from whole, organic, recently harvested herbs for the first time! Once I opened the packages with the Motherwort leaves and Hawthorn berries, the inspiring process of creation has started!

I used a mortar and pestle and Vitamix blender to crush and pulverize all components of these herbs into a fine powder. Both of these herbal powders smelled and tasted so fresh and looked so bright!

 

 

The Hawthorn Berries powder and capsules:

Modern herbal therapy implements Hawthorn berries, leaves, and flowers. The Hawthorn plant has beneficial cardiovascular effects* (Holubarsch, Colucci, & Eha, 2018).

 

 

 

The Motherwort powder and capsules: The Motherwort plant has anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, antimicrobial, tissue-protective, and sedative effects* (Fierascu et al., 2019).

I used to take herbal powders prepared by the Ayurvedic practitioners as a Complementary and Alternative Medical (CAM) approach for different purposes: to relieve stomach discomfort, alleviate muscle pain, improve digestion and elimination, decrease stress, and reduce congestion* (Patwardhan, 2014). I loved Ayurvedic herbal preparations! Each one smelled and tasted differently and affected my body and mind in a positive way.

The herbal powders can be taken in a powdered form or as capsules. The herbal powders made at home can be the purest and the freshest ones, as you can select the best quality herbs (organic, wild-crafted, or even home-grown) and the best quality capsules while avoiding any other ingredients that seem unnecessary (fillers, pesticides, additives, preservatives, etc.). I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that the Apothecary Shoppe listed the date of the harvest on each package with whole herbs. You can make the herbal powders in small batches to ensure freshness and maximum potency and prevent rancidity. Each batch can be stored in a refrigerator with a moisture absorbent packets.

It is best to contact a Certified Herbalist, an Ayurvedic Practitioner, or Naturopathic Doctor to inquire which herbs can be a good fit for your body as a part of the CAM approach to healing and wellness. In the United States, about 38% of adults (every 4 in 10) and  12% of children (every 1 in 9) are using some type of CAM.

The most common forms of CAM used in the U.S. include nutrition and diet-based therapy, herbs, Yoga, Pilates, Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine, energy healing/Reiki, and many others (John Hopkins Medicine, 2019; NIH, 2017).  The CAM approaches are non-mainstream and can be used together with conventional mainstream medicine (NIH, 2019).

Contact me today to discuss your nutrition goals! Our initial  20-minute discussion is free of charge. To help you succeed with your health and wellness goals, I offer holistic nutrition consultations as well as wellness coaching.

References:

Fierascu, R. C., Fierascu, I., Ortan, A., Fierascu, I. C., Anuta, V., Velescu, B. S., … Dinu-Pirvu, C. E. (2019). Leonurus cardiaca L. as a Source of Bioactive Compounds: An Update of the European Medicines Agency Assessment Report (2010). BioMed Research International2019, 4303215. doi:10.1155/2019/4303215

Holubarsch, C., Colucci, W. S., & Eha, J. (2018). Benefit-Risk Assessment of Crataegus Extract WS 1442: An Evidence-Based Review. American Journal of Cardiovascular Drugs : Drugs, Devices, and Other Interventions18(1), 25–36. doi:10.1007/s40256-017-0249-9

John Hopkins Medicine. (2019). Types of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/types-of-complementary-and-alternative-medicine

NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (2017). The use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States. Retrieved from https://nccih.nih.gov/research/statistics/2007/camsurvey_fs1.htm

NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (2019). Complementary, Alternative, or Integrative Health: What’s in a Name? Retrieved from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/integrative-health

Patwardhan, B. (2014). Bridging Ayurveda with evidence-based scientific approaches in medicine. The EPMA Journal5(1), 19. doi:10.1186/1878-5085-5-19

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is for educational purposes only.

Pomegranate Seeds

Do you like pomegranate seeds? They are available only once a year, usually around the holiday season, in November and December.

Tasting delicious and looking gorgeous, they can add beautiful decor to any dish (think about a salad, dessert, main dish, or a breakfast smoothie bowl). But this is not all – pomegranate seeds have many health benefits!

They are rich in polyphenols, flavonoids, antioxidants, anthocyanins, tannins, alkaloids, simple organic acids, vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium. Pomegranate seeds are small but mighty inhibitors of inflammation and have anti-atherogenic and anti-hypertensive qualities (Zarfeshany, Asgary, & Javanmard, 2014; Shahindokht, 2018).

Do you know how to get the pomegranate seeds out in a fast and non-messy way? I can show you one idea; it takes slightly more than a minute to get all the seeds out from a pomegranate.

You will need the following equipment:

  • a bowl
  • a cutting board
  • a knife
  • a ladle or an oversized spoon

 

 

 

The steps:

  1. Wash the pomegranate and cut it in half (or quarters, if it is a big fruit).
  2. Put a bowl into a sink, take a piece of a pomegranate in your hand, and turn it upside down so that the seeds are facing the bowl.
  3. Start tapping on a pomegranate using a ladle, until all seeds come out into a bowl. One fruit can yield about 1/2 cup or more of the seeds.
  4. Use immediately or store the seeds in a glass jar in a refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  5. Add to your salads, smoothie bowls, desserts, or main dishes.

Here is a quick video that explains all the steps:

If you know a better way to remove the pomegranate seeds, let us hear from you! 🙂

Enjoy!

Nataliya

 

Easy Quinoa Salad

Hello everybody,

I feel inspired to share with you an easy quinoa salad that I have been recently making. It tastes delicious and satisfying and takes under 30 minutes to make.

Quinoa is a gluten-free seed, and, according to Filho et al. (2017),  it has all essential amino acids. The vegetables and spices provide minerals, vitamins, anti-oxidants, and fiber.

You will need the following equipment:

A mixing bowl, a spoon, a knife, and a cutting board.

You will need the following ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup cooked quinoa (I used multi-colored quinoa)
  • 1/3 cup raw shredded or julienned carrots
  • 1/3 cup raw shredded or julienned cucumbers
  • 1/3 cup cut broccoli florets (raw or steamed)
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 1/4 cup green onion, sliced
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 Tbs raw apple cider vinegar, diluted with 2 Tbs filtered water
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Yield: 2 cups, Serving size: 1 cup

To assemble the salad, mix all the ingredients together.

As an option, you can add other sources of protein such as tempeh, nuts, or seeds. This salad may also work as a pleasant side dish that can complement many different dishes.

Recipe variations:

  • Add different fresh or dried herbs (mint, rosemary, dill, cilantro)
  • Add different seeds (flax, sesame, sunflower)

Here is a quick video on how to assemble it:

Thank you for visiting and happy eating!

Let us know if you have any questions!

Nataliya

References:

Filho, A. M. M.,  Pirozi, M. R., Borges, J. T., Pinheiro Sant’Ana, H. M.,  Chaves, J. B. P.,  &  Coimbra, J. S. (2017) Quinoa: Nutritional, functional, and antinutritional aspects. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition,57(8), 1618-1630, DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2014.1001811