It’s a Celebration!

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It’s been a long time coming…. this celebration.

I had been planning to write a food blog for a while, didn’t really know how… figured it would be super complicated…  I’m not at all tech savvy, so basically I put it off because I was afraid of it. I had been creating recipes, taking pictures, saving files – you name it. I was doing it. Then, in an emotional tantrum I accidentally deleted everything I had been saving up. Absolutely all of it. From that day, it took me another four months to even consider starting up this blog. I suppose, maybe I had taken it as a sign from the universe that I just wasn’t ready to write (yes, sometimes I am unreasonably emotional).

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So finally, I did it.  I told myself that I would not register a domain until I had had the blog for a full year, and had made more than five or six posts.  It’s not that I typically give up on projects, it’s just this one had given me some grief and I was starting it up in a personally vulnerable time.  In reality, it ended up being the outlet that I needed to get myself up and at ‘er and I have since clearly made more than five or six posts.   In fact, in this first year (and a bit) I have filled a bound journal with double sided pages of hand written recipes, some successes and some flops.  I have begun a photography certification course, originally starting because I wanted to learn how to photograph food of course; a certification that has now blossomed into a whole secondary passion. Another wonderful creative outlet that makes me so happy, and is so rewarding.

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Starting this blog has made me realize so many things about myself. It has been freeing personally, and has helped me grow exponentially. Having a creative outlet is one of the best things we can do for ourselves, seriously. The first year anniversary of my blog was in September, this celebration as I said – has been a long time coming.  Finally this morning I have made good on that promise and have purchased my domain. Woo! Hooray! Yippeee! http://www.sproutinganoldsoul.com exists! In celebration, I paired together ingredients from some of my older dessert recipes (Avo Cacao Pudding & Banana Chocolate Tarts) and created a *nut free* raw chocolate mousse cake.

Chocolate Mousse Cake

Crust

1 Cup Dried Black Mission Figs
3/4 Cup Pumpkin Seeds
3 Tbsp Cacao Nibs
Pinch of Himalayan Salt
6 Tbsp Water

Mousse

3 Ripe Avocados
1 Ripe Banana
2 Heaping Tbsp Raw Honey
1/2 Cup Cacao Powder

Plating

1/3 Cup Raspberries (fresh or frozen)
Splash of Water
Cacao Powder for Dusting

Soak the figs in warm water until they are squishy. Add the figs, pumpkin seeds, cacao nibs, and salt to a food processor – start with two tablespoons of water. Give the crust a whirl. Continue adding one tablespoon of water at a time while the food processor is running until the crust forms a thick paste. Six teaspoons may not be required depending on the moisture in the figs, but six was how many it took for me. Start with less, you don’t want the crust to be too squishy! Line a small-medium spring-form cake pan with wax paper. Push the figgy crust into the pan or shape into small tart shells by hand, then place it in the freezer to set.

To make the mousse, simply add all ingredients into a fresh food processor and whirl until there are no chunks of avocado or banana and a thick mousse has formed. Gently scoop it into the crust, cover, and let it set up in the freezer overnight or for at least six hours. This will ensure the mousse will be able to slice.

Depending on the temperature indoors, remove the cake from the fridge 1 to 2 hours before serving. Blend the raspberries with a touch of water and spread on a plate to be used as a garnish under the cake, or use as a drizzle over top. Sprinkle the top of the cake with the extra cacao powder and slice it into pieces.

Voila!

Affogato, anyone?

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I fell in love with a beautiful, creamy, bitter, amazing affogato at my favorite vegetarian restaurant this summer, while having a breakfast date with a dear friend.  I typically stay away from coffee, it gives me serious headaches (unless of course I have a headache, then it’s a miracle pain reliever – funny how that happens) that last and last.  Seriously, if I was to have two cups in a day I would soon not be able to see out of my right eye. It’s crazy!  So I have them here and there.. and by here and there, I mean once every three months or so.

A traditional affogato is a scoop of vanilla ice cream or gelato and a shot of super strong espresso, very Italian and wonderful. My experience up until today has always been with those two ingredients. Gelato, and espresso. So, given that I don’t drink coffee, I do not have a coffee machine, waking up with a major affo-hankering this morning proved a bit of an issue.

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My favorite coffee substitutes by far are maca (with a number of other superfoodie ingredients), and roasted chicory.  Both boast crazy great health benefits, give super amounts of energy and stimulation without a giant caffeine crash, and they aren’t acidic like coffee is! Instead of multiplying our acidity just to have a cuppa (perhaps even adding in a doughnut or something else ultra acidifying),  it’s so super easy to brew up one of these babies and glide straight on past that morning crash, wave goodbye to jittery vibrating organs, and say hello to something new! Why not, even just to try and see? My boyfriend drank a (seriously crazy in my opinion) amount of coffee up until a few months ago. He cut it out completely while we did a cleanse, and has since reintroduced it in more of a moderate way. I think that’s perfect, you like it? Drink it! Just don’t have seven cups a day and wonder why you don’t feel quite right. We are constantly bombarded with “do this” – “NO wait! Do this!!”  When really we need only do what feels right for ourselves as individuals. Piece meal what you like, toss what you don’t.

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The amazing boost in stamina, hormone balancing and adrenal support from maca is marvelous.  I always mix cacao with my maca, I love the super groovy awesome vibes that come from these beauty beans.I  just love them! Packing in the minerals, tossing in some fats to help absorption, and finishing with some really great additives like lucuma or mesquite (or both!). Not mesquite like the bark used with bar-b-ques! Nope! I’m talking the bean pod, where a plant naturally concentrates the most love and energy. Mesquite trees are incredible, super deeply rooted, so just imagine all the nutrition that is elevated into those beans! Loads! Lucuma is a fruit, I buy it dried and in powder form. Lucuma acts as a fantastic binder so it’s pure perfection when you’re taking a bunch of powdered herbs and trying to fully emulsify them in water or tea. Some serious delight comes from mixing these ingredients, I kid you not. I also added some freshly grated ginger, cinnamon, and vanilla to smooth everything out with the vegan coconut ice cream but those are optional, depending on how espresso-y the mixture needs to taste.

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Affogato

1 Tsp Black Maca Powder
2-3 Tbsp Raw Cacao Powder
1 Tsp Mesquite Powder
1 Tsp Lucuma Powder
1 Tbsp Raw Honey
3-4 Cups Water
Freshly Grated Ginger – to taste
Coconut Ice Cream
Vanilla Bean Powder & Cinnamon

Boil the water in a small pot on the stove, once it is boiling remove from the heat. Add the maca, cacao, mesquite, lucuma, and honey, gently whisking to incorporate everything. Fill a mug or teacup 2/3 full and top with a scoop or so of coconut ice cream. Finally, sprinkle with vanilla and cinnamon and enjoy!

Ultra simple, ultra satisfying.

Flowers, Bees, Workouts and Love.

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Goooooooood Morning!

Rising with the sun is just one of those perfect things. It’s something so simple, and yet we very infrequently have the time or the willingness to do it. I am completely guilty of this.  When the winter begins winding down and spring sets in, I am up and ready to go at 5am as the sun starts peeking through my windows….but now, now that it’s summer that is coming to a close, I am in no way ready get up early.  Each day getting shorter and shorter, I find that it’s so difficult to fully wake. Today was different, today I was up with the sun (which was a bit of a sleep in, considering the season change). Today I greeted the morning with a juicy Canadian pear, and a real butt kicking spin class..  butt kicking, quad kicking, arm and chest kicking.  Man, I really got my sweat on!

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Wandering around the neighborhood afterwards,  I really started to warm up to the fast approaching fall. The sight and smell of yellowing leaves, plants and flowers in various stages of blossom and rest, the crispness in the air…  Fall used to be one of my favorite seasons. This beautiful Saturday morning really reminded me of that.

Post workout recovery is something that I have recently vowed to get better at, in particular – refueling with the right ingredients and pushing myself to deepen my stretching. I know that both of these are super important,  however I am known to forget to do one, or sometimes even both.  Today I got after it, I cooled off – walked the streets engaging and really noticing my muscles and how they were operating; and I had a SUPERpower packed breakfast smoothie to reinforce and nourish my whole body, mind and spirit.

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A few nights ago I attended a lecture on bees and bee products. The healing medicines that come from a hive, and I’m not just talking honey here.  Bee pollen is one of my favorite treasures from the hive, from the bees, from the plants of this earth.  We all know the importance of reducing completely eliminating GMO products from our kitchens, we know that altering plant DNA and tarnishing our natural fields have negatively influenced bees,  but how many people have thought about those two things together at once?  GMO plants…  produce GMO pollen, GMO honey, and all kinds of alterations that impact my beloved honeybee. An article I read a while back in VegNews magazine about bees and GMO plants really shook me to my core. “Poland recently banned a genetically engineered crop in an effort to save the country’s native honeybee population. Monsanto Mon810, a strain of GE corn that self-produces the popular insecticide neonicotinoid, can no longer be grown in the country after research found that it triggers Colony Collapse Disorder – a worldwide plague that has caused honeybees to die en masse since 2006.” Disgusting, no? This is what plants are doing to the bees, what the heck do we think they’re going to do to us? Before I get off on too much of a tangent….  In my opinion, and this was reinforced and agreed upon by everyone at the lecture I attended – buying non GMO bee products is incredibly important. Buying honey that comes from wildflowers, buying honey that is local, buying honey that is cruelty free. All so important. It can only improve our health (and the health of the plant).

Bee pollen increases strength, and energy – both important after a workout. It helps to rebuild muscle and tissue, it’s a great source of a plethora of vitamins, and is super high in protein.  I had a heaping tablespoon this morning! Nothing like tasting the pure love of a flower, delicately gathered by a tiny, fuzzy, striped angel.  Have I mentioned… I love bees? Love them. Love them love them love them.

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Recovery smoothies that you can buy in stores tend to taste a bit off to me. I don’t like the taste of strong protein powders, and I very much try to avoid any packs with added sugars, or even other added beneficial nutrients.  I like just plain, raw hemp powder. High protein, nothing extra.  That way….   I can make it into something so super delicious all you can do is drink it down and giggle with delight. Yep, giggle – that’s exactly what I did this morning.  My recovery smoothie this morning was reminiscent of a almond butter cookie.. with chocolate.. and espresso.  Umm… YUM! I had the pleasure of drinking a chocolate mylk elixir at the Light Cellar, I have been thinking about it ever since… so I made my own version of it, recovery style.

SUPERpower Recovery Smoothie

1 Tbsp Maca Powder
2 Scoops of Raw Hemp Protein Powder
1 Tsp Dried Reishi Mushroom Powder
1 Tsp Dried Chaga Mushroom Powder
8-10 Cacao Whole Beans
1 Vanilla Bean – Scraped
1.5 Bananas
1/2 Cup Young Coconut Meat
2 Tbsp Raw Almond Butter
1 8oz Glass of Purified Water

Layer everything in a blender, start with adding about half a cup of water – just to allow the blades to get working and grind up the cacao immediately. Adding in a full glass of water right at the beginning will just make the cacao whirl and float! Once the mixture is smooth, add in the rest of the water and enjoy!

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A Raw Chocolate Adventure!

You’d think I have a sweet tooth…. Wouldn’t you?

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Having a growing fascination of cacao, the logical next step in my kitchen was to make chocolate.   Not melt already pressed chocolate chips, or squares…  actually make it.   I searched all over the city for a metate, I mean….  might as well go all out right? A metate is essentially a pestle and mortar that is a flat. It’s been used traditionally for milling grain, and more importantly by the Mayans – for making chocolate.  Grinding the raw cacao on a metate until it turns to a shining smooth liquid…  perfection. Of course I need one.   Unfortunately, my search yielded no such luck…  this left me with two choices: pestle and mortar or my antique spice grinder (enter my determination to not go the easiest route and use cacao powder…).  I tried both.  I do not recommend a spice or coffee grinder, there is just way too much fat in the cacao, it really gummed up inside.  Pestle and mortar… worked a whole heck of a lot better.. I have the blistered hand to prove it!

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I wanted to make my chocolate with a mix of raw cacao butter, and raw coconut butter… I’m on a bit of a coconut butter kick. I find it so sinful, it’s so tropical and amazing..  and with added health benefits. I just love it. Why wouldn’t I add it? A touch of flare to my little raw chocolate making madness.

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The raw chocolate movement is becoming so widespread, people wanting to know about the cacao plant itself, about the legends that surround chocolate, not just picking up a “candy” bar in the convenient store based on it’s wrapper. It’s amazing, I love it.  I feel that the shift in the global mind of the world towards being familiar with your food, the ingredients and energy that go into it… it’s perfect. It’s about time. If we are becoming more interested in adding raw, creative foods into our diets – why not start with something as delicious, nutrient dense and famed… as chocolate!? Just reading about how it was used as an ancient currency is enough to suck me into researching for hours.  I am fully able to have my very own ancient adventure… just by biting into one of these babies.

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Raw & Dark – Crunchy Chocolate Bites

3/4 Cup Raw Cacao Butter
3 Tbsp Raw Coconut Butter
1 Cup Raw Cacao Powder
3 Tbsp Raw Honey (agave, stevia, maple syrup for fully vegan options)
2-4 Tbsp Raw Cacao Nibs

Optional Super Awesome Toppings:
Cassia/Cinnamon
Marash Chili
Bee Pollen
Tiny Roses or Lavender Flowers
Maca Powder
Spirulina Powder
Goji Berries

Heat up a pot of water on the stove, remove it from the heat once it’s starting to steam. Place a glass bowl over top of the pot, allowing the bowl to heat up as well.  Gently melt the cacao butter and the coconut butter in the warmed bowl. Be patient, this can take some time depending on how large your bowl is. Both coconut and cacao butters/oils melt easily with little heat.  Once it has fully melted, add the cacao powder and the raw honey, stirring and incorporating as you add. Toss in the cacao nibs and give one final fold. Pour the liquid chocolate into cups or trays,  sprinkle with optional toppings if you so desire. Place in the fridge or freezer to set.  Store in the fridge.

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*Note – if cacao butter is not something you’re able to find, using coconut oil is another great option.  Coconut oil melts much faster than cacao butter does, so be absolutely sure to keep the chocolate refrigerated.

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Superpower Mint & Cacao Ice Cream

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I went to the farmers market a couple of days ago and walked out with such an abundance of fresh herbs… it was astounding. So delightful! My car smelled like heaven. Tiny bubbles of essential oils bursting off my lemon basil, Thai basil, apple mint, peppermint, cilantro and parsley.  Pure heaven. Something about the smell of basil…   I absolutely love it.  Basil and mint are definitely two of my favorites, and I buy them very frequently.

I had so much mint left over after infusing my water, making tea, glorifying salads…  you name it. The next logical venture was ice cream.  I won an ice cream maker at work some time ago and used it regularly for a while, after veering more towards an extremely limited animal product lifestyle I feel like I haven’t put that baby to use in ages!  With such a hot start to the weekend I was totally craving something icy and smooth…

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It had to be an ultra healthy ice cream…  but I really didn’t want it to be a banana base. I felt that banana would be a bit over powering, and I really wanted the beauty of the mint to shine. I also was bent on it being green, I considered macerating the mint leaves but opted for spirulina powder instead. It’s faster, greener, and with the added superpower nutrients.. the addition was a complete a no-brainer! Honey is always my first choice for sweetener, followed closely by maple syrup. I understand that honey is an animal product.. and strict vegans don’t eat it. Also I understand that maple syrup is not technically raw, stevia or agave are fine substitutes! This recipe is very straight forward, it does not require an ice cream maker…. although I did use mine because it was a lot easier than waiting for my tasty treat to freeze and I wanted to have some straight away!  Yum…  coconut, cacao, raw honey, and spirulina…  Could make Superfood Sundaes!

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Superpower Mint & Cacao Ice Cream

2 or 3 Cups of Young Coconut Meat*
1.5 Cups of Fresh Coconut Water*
Handful of Torn Mint Leaves
2 Tbsp Spirulina Powder
1/2 Cup Raw Cacao Nibs
3 Tbsp Raw Honey
(or agave, stevia, or whatever other sweetener you enjoy)

* If you cannot find young coconut meat & water or do not want to crack open your own young coconut…you could use 2 cans of coconut milk!

Blitz the young coconut meat, coconut water and honey in a blender until smooth and frothy. Transfer to a large chilled bowl. Add the mint, rubbing each leaf slightly before adding it into the bowl. This helps the oils release and will quickly infuse the coconut mixture with a minty taste and aroma, once the mint is finished add in the spirulina and stir well. Place the bowl in the fridge and allow it to get nice and cold, adding the cacao nibs right before you pour the mixture into the ice cream maker/freezer safe container. If using an ice cream maker, watch it after about 7 minutes because of the high water content it will start to freeze up in the middle while the outsides are still only slush.  Whether using an ice cream maker or not, I recommend freezing in a container such as a loaf pan, this will enable you to get a full rolling scoop once it’s frozen!

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Raw Chocolate Brownies with Raspberry Cacao Ganache

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This past weekend… a major food bomb went off in my kitchen. A raw food bomb. A raw…brownie bomb. There were tubs of nuts, seeds, berries, bags of cacao, and all kinds of utensils – everywhere. It was a crazy fun filled time for reinventing!

Inspired by the smell of freshly foraged wild roses from the river bank, and the abundance of cacao in my refrigerator….  I had the perfect idea for a raw brownie. Slightly sour raspberry “ganache” pairs beautifully with the rich raw brownie base.  These delightful squares are quite possibly my favorite creation – ever.
Raw, antioxidant and mineral rich brownies, incredibly decadent and healthy too!

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Raw Brownies with Raspberry Cacao Ganache

For the Brownie Base

1/2 Cup Raw Walnuts
1/2 Cup Raw Hazelnuts
1/2 Cup Raw Almonds
12-14 Medjool Dates
2/3 Cup Raw Cacao Powder
Fresh Squeezed Juice & Pulp of One Orange
1/3 Cup Flax Seeds

For the Ganache

1 Cup of Raspberries
3 Tbsp Raw Cacao Powder
1 Tbsp Raw Coconut Oil
1/3 Cup Chia Seeds

In a food processor, pulse the walnuts only until they are coarsely chopped then transfer to a medium sized bowl. Do the same with the hazelnuts, adding them to the walnuts once chopped. Following with the almonds, but pulse the almonds until they are a finer meal, transfer to the bowl.  In the same food processor, add the dates, the cacao, as well as the juice and pulp mixture from half of the orange. Pulse until the dates begin to break apart. Add in about half of the mixed nuts and flax seeds, along with remaining orange juice and pulp, continue pulsing until you have a mixture that resembles dark chocolate cake batter.  Scoop the batter mixture into the remaining nuts and fold until fully incorporated.  Line a square baking dish with parchment paper, scooping the brownie batter in and smoothing out the top as best you can.  Using a smaller food processor (or wash the one used for the base), blend all ganache ingredients together.  Expect the chia and raspberry seeds to supply texture, but otherwise you want it to be smooth. No berry chunks.  Top the brownie base with the raspberry ganache, and pop in the freezer to set for an hour or so. Image