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.

Quinoa Pancakes

Happy Independence Day weekend to everybody! It is a middle of the year and almost a middle of the summer. What is your favorite summer-time activity? For me, it is the appreciation of the long days filled with the sunshine and the delicious and colorful summer foods. 

Today, I’m sharing with you one of my favorite recipes – the quinoa pancakes.

It needs just a few ingredients, is easy to make, and tastes very good. Actually, both the sweet and savory versions of this recipe can be enjoyed year-round. 

 

 

 

You will need the following ingredients:

  • Quinoa (white, red, or multicolored),
  • ripe banana,
  • flax seeds, 
  • water.

That’s it. You may use a little bit of coconut oil, however, it is optional if you use a non-stick skillet.

You will need this equipment: a bowl, blender, and non-stick skillet. The amount of preparation time can be reduced if you have more than one skillet. I typically use 3 small non-stick skillets, and in this case, the total preparation time takes about 5-7 minutes. 

What I love about this recipe is that the pancakes have a neutral taste and can be enjoyed with both sweet and savory meals or snacks. As a sweet version, I like to serve them with berries, fruits, and coconut yogurt. For a savory twist, I serve them with veggies, salads, and dressings (taco-like style). On this image below, you can see 3 pancakes, each served with the arugula leaves, slices of tomato and red onion, and avocado cubes. In this version, the pancakes work as flatbreads or soft tacos. 

Additionally, I soaked and sprouted the quinoa seeds, which is an easy step that can improve the digestibility and nutrient availability. Moreover, soaked and sprouted quinoa gives you more pancakes if compared with those made from the unsoaked quinoa. Note that this recipe does not need any flour; the whole quinoa seeds were soaked and sprouted and blended together with banana, flax seeds, and water. Here is a full recipe, enjoy!

Download the recipe: Quinoa Pancakes

By the way, it is the middle of the year, and I’m wondering how are your new year resolution goals doing? How successful have you been so far? Which obstacles came your way?

Let’s discuss how I can help you to get back on track during the next 6 months.

Our first 20-minute discovery session is free of charge, and I can work with you as a wellness coach or/and a nutrition consultant, depending on your needs. Contact me today, I’m happy to see how I can help!

In best health,

Nataliya.