It has been a beneficial journey towards better health and improved vitality I have been traipsing on with my family. Not so long ago I looked at food merely as a satisfying belly filler, basing my choices on taste over health or nutrition in particular. Not that we have ever eaten overly badly, but when I look now at some of the choices my family made diet wise, I know that I would rarely decide those same options now. Too much information embedded in my consciousness now helps me to make a whole menagerie of better choices.
One of the easiest choices for any on of us to incorporate into our diets, and that of our children - is RAW CACAO POWDER. What the hell is it? Well its just raw chocolate powder - similar to that you might find in your Grocery store cake supplies aisle. The difference is, that rather than looking at chocolate powder merely as an artificial delicacy, empty of nutrition and full of sugar peaks and sugar crashes after the fact - it could be seen as an enormously health benefiting super food. Because it is! Okay - not the cadburys stuff you find in the local supermarket - but the Raw Cocoa/cacao powder.
The difference? Processing vs unprocessed. There is no taste difference whatsoever, it looks exactly the same as processed chocolate. Neither are sweet, both require added sweetening to taste like the chocolate milk you know and love. But the difference is so extreme it's hard to believe they are the same product.
The question is, why would ANYBODY choose processed cocoa over the raw stuff? It's a no brainer - cost. The cost of buying raw organic cacao powder online or in the health food store is higher than one would expect from the cheap and nasty versions that have been processed to all but completely lose their health benefits.
So, if you are willing to give your body an enormous boost of vitamins and minerals - if you want the highest possible source of Antioxidant value that you can get anywhere in any other foods you could consume - then you must replace the old Milo tin or Cocoa powder from the grocery store with some Raw Cacao Powder. I have two sources that I buy from online. The first is www.maretai.com and the second is www.organicsaustraliaonline.com.au
Now for the recipe! It's easy, and I feel a lot less guilty giving my daughters a chocolate milk shake these days than I used to!
DELICIOUS HOT CHOCOLATE RECIPE WITH RAW CACAO POWDER AND MANUKA HONEY
1 tsp raw cacao powder
1 - 2 tsp manuka honey/raw sugar
3/4 cup hot , just boiled spring water
3/4 cup whole organic milk/rice/oat/almond etc
1) Heat water in saucepan or kettle to boil.
2) Add the milk to your cup/bottle.
3) Add the raw cacao powder and sweetener to the cup/bottle
4) Pour the water in, shake or stir to mix.
You want to add the milk first so that the water doesn't scald the raw cacao. By mixing the milk and cacao a little first, you reduce this substantially. Your milkshake will be warm not scalding hot - perfect for babies and children to drink immediately.
And rather than filling them with unwanted crap - you know the sugar they're getting and you know that using this recipe you are giving your kids an amazing antioxidant boost that no other ingredient can match!
Go make a chocolate milk and relax - you got this. :D
Recently, thanks to my Naturopath, I was introduced to the fabulous marvels of Manuka Honey. What is Manuka Honey? Well, Manuka is a traditional word used for the Tea Tree, found in Australia and New Zealand.
It is a highly medicinal plant/tree, with loads of antibacterial/antiviral/antifungal properties. The oils are probably already familiar to you - used in personal hygiene, cleaning and sanitizing the home and wound healing. But the honey that comes from bees that pollinate the Tea Trees is AH MAAAAAYYY ZZINNNNGGG!!!! Manuka has been medically proven to assist in the healing of wounds including burns and other nasties - by adding Manuka Honey with a UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) of 10+ it is considered medically potent enough to assist in this healing - preventing bacterial and fungal growth and allowing a warm and wet environment for which the damaged skin and tissue can heal. It has been used for a helluva long time by natural healers and it's satisfying to see Western Science catching up.
My Naturopath recommended it for helping to heal intestinal and gut issues my family all suffer from. At first I wasn't sure about it, it looked expensive and I am not at all a fan of regular honey. As a kid my Aunty tried feeding Hot Lemon and Honey Tea during a bad case of the flu - and I swear I almost hurled. Not a fan of hot honey and besides - most Manuka honey is actually raw - so we don't want to ruin the beneficial enzymes and goodies by scalding it in boiling water!
So, I purchased some Manuka honey from the local Supermarket, just to give it a try and see if it was all that it was cracked up to be. I wanted it to be as close to the medically useful UMF as I could afford, without being overblown expensive. So I chose a UMF of 8+ for around $10 for 500g. That makes it about twice as much as regular store bought processed honey - but I wasn't after regular honey, I wanted it specifically for its antimicrobial/baddy fighting properties - so I took the plunge.
FIRSTLY: It is DELICIOUS!!!! I would like to compare it to musicians for a second lol. Regular honey, could be likened to Carol King...it's good and all, it hits the spot. But is generally mild and mellow in essence. Manuka honey on the other hand, has so many highlights it is more akin to Whitney Housten or Celine Dion. There are many steps and stages to it's form, so many more that it fills your palate completely with high and low tones! It was like my tongue was dancing, tasting this amazing product for the first time!!!!!! I mean it - its gooood. lol
Now that being said - some people prefer Carol King to Celine Dion. You need to be in the right mood to experience each of them in their element. So I can see there is a place for Manuka, and also for regular honey. And right now I'm on the Diva honey tangent ... and I am experiencing it's many medicinal benefits.
Here is a recipe I created for my own children during a recent common cold we've all experienced. 4
COOL LEMON AND MANUKA HONEY DRINK
# Half a lemon
# 4 Cups of Spring Water
#1 Tblspn Manuka Honey (Higher UMF the better. I used 8+ UMF)
1) Pour the fresh water in a blender.
2) Cut a lemon in half, using a juicer or your hand and a fork to press in the flesh, dig that juice out of that lemon! If you drop any seeds in, use that fork to dig em out! :)
3) Add the honey. You may add more honey to sweeten and adjust to your preferred taste, but the single tablspn is the bare minimum for myself to enjoy the Lemonade.
4) Place cap on blender and blitz away - the lemonade should become a bit frothy and cloudy. The whole idea is to mix the honey through evenly.
5) Now taste and adjust to sweeten further if required. Drink up!
I tend to store this mixture at room temperature in the cupboard rather than in the fridge. One reason is because room temperature beverages are easier for the body to immediately digest than cool. Another is that lemon and honey are preservative by nature. And the other is because both kids whinge when it's too cold :). The other lemon half goes in the fridge for later.
I hope you enjoy it as much as we do! It definitely helped see us through our bout with the cold this week - and tasted delish! Without any added preservatives or nasties - just all honest to goodness benefit!
In case you haven't discovered already, I need to tell you this. And FAST. Raw unprocessed homemade cacao chocolate is extremely vitamin and mineral rich, jam packed with antioxidants, and is really really good for you.From the wonderful resource Natural News: "Cacao is derived from Theobroma Cacao beans, which literally means "Food of the Gods". Cacao contains over 300 compounds including: protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, iron, zinc, copper, calcium and magnesium. Magnesium helps to build strong bones and is a muscle relaxant associated with feelings of calmness. Cacao is also high in sulfur, which helps form strong nails and hair.
In addition, cacao also contains the chemicals phenylethylamine (PEA) and anandamide. PEA is an adrenal-related chemical that we create naturally when we're excited. It also plays a role in feeling focused and alert because it causes your pulse rate to quicken, resulting in a similar feeling to when we are excited or fall in love!
Another 'bliss' chemical found in chocolate is the lipid anandamide. It's there in our brain when we feel great. Anandamide is also called "chocolate amphetamine" as it causes changes in blood pressure and blood-sugar levels, leading to feelings of excitement and alertness.
Anandamide works like amphetamines to increase mood and decrease depression, but it is not addictive like caffeine or illegal with undesirable side-effects like amphetamines. Anandamide is quite unique in its resemblance to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), a chemical found in marijuana.
The good news is that even though the anandamide in chocolate helps to create feelings of elation, the effect is not the same as the THC in marijuana. It would take approximately twenty five pounds of chocolate to achieve a 'high' similar to marijuana and the nausea would overpower any feelings of bliss at all.
Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/022610_cacao_chocolate_raw.html#ixzz2KSZfe5ZD"All things however should be taken in moderation. There are two compounds found in chocolate which can be a bit of a downer. One is Theobromine. Apparently it makes up about 1 - 2 % of the cacao bean, and has about 1/4 of the power of its sister molecule Caffeine when it comes to stimulating the nervous system and dilating blood vessels. It can give people a rush and then the crash, so associated with Caffeine. Cacao's compound theobromine, is also a mild diuretic (increasing urination output) and medical uses of the compound include the treatment of heart attacks from the excessive accumulation of fluid.Oxalic Acid is the second compound found in chocolate beans which can be of concern. Oxalic acid interferes with the absorption of calcium by the body, especially in chocolate packed with sugar. (Sugar is said to excrete calcium even more so than oxalic acid.)Now to the antioxidant value of raw choccy!!! Check it out! I'm not sure that anything could match raw cacao's rich and nutrient antioxidant value - it's just cray cray :-
ORAC scores for the Top 10 Antioxidants Foods (per 100 grams)
1) Raw cocoa powder* 95,500
2) Raw cacao nibs* 62,100
3) Roasted cocoa powder 26,000
4) Organic Goji Berries* 25,300
5) Acai Berries* 18,500
6) Dark Chocolate 13,120
7) Milk Chocolate 6,740
8) Prunes 5,770
9) Raisins 2,830
10) Blueberries 2,400
Source: US department of Agriculture/Journal of American Chemical Society
*Brunswick Laboratories MA, USA
Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/022610_cacao_chocolate_raw.html#ixzz2KSXZjUFt
So now that you're convinced that this is the real shizzle medizzle bo bizzile - wanna try to make some delicious raw chocolate at home!?? Yes ofcourse you do! Now, firstly - you're going to fork out some moolah to get the basics. But this is your HEALTH AND HAPPINESS MANNN - so don't bawk, just buy. And then enjoy. OH THE GOODNESS!!! :D
Here it is, Raw Choc Cacao that has only good stuff and tastes like milk chocolate rather than some dark chocolate monstrocity!
MY FAVE ALL RAW Milk CHOCOLATE RECIPE
2/3 CUP OF RAW NUTS, WALNUTS, MACADAMIA, CASHEWS, ALMONDS. Mix the desired nut or combo of them in your food processor till they're a smooth nut milk/paste. Add some raw virgin coconut oil if it's a bit lumpy and hard to smooth.
SMALL AMOUNT OF RAW VIRGIN COCONUT OIL - ENOUGH TO MIX THE NUT BUTTER ABOVE
1/4 - 2/3 CUP OF RAW HONEY (MANUKA IS DELISH!) AND OR COCONUT SYTRUP. I mix both of these, coconut syrup tastes a lot like maple syrup and the manuka honey has so many hilights to it it's divine.
2/3 CUP RAW CACAO BUTTER - you can buy this in handy nibs which look like white choc, but only smell like choc (o sugar yet to make it sweet)
1 1/2 TBLSPN LUCUMA POWDER
2 TSP TO 1 TBLSPN of MESQUITE POWDER (OPTIONAL)
1/4 - 1 TSP VANILLA EXTRACT
4 TBSPN RAW CACAO POWDER
RAW SHREDDED COCONUT TO TASTE (OPTIONAL)
HEMP OR OTHER NUTRITIOUS SEEDS (OPTIONAL)
1) Boil some water in a saucepan, place raw cacao butter nibs into a second metal or glass bowl, then lower this into the boiled pot of water. Hold it there, being careful not to place it so far in that it touches the base and comes into contact with direct heat - things could get funky then. Just gently heat the cacao butter till it melts, stirring to hurry the process a little.
2) Make nut butter by blending the nuts and coconut oil in your bullet food processor. Blend until smooth - or as close to smooth as you can manage. If it's lumpy with nuts, then
3) Transfer the nut butter and all other ingredients (you may hold off on the coconut for now) to a LARGER processor container if using small bullet blending attachment for the nut butter, otherwise just add to the nut butter container.
4) Process these ingredients until nicely combined.
5) Using either ice cube trays, or chocolate templates (Woolworths and big W sell cute ones for $10 - 15 bucks), spray or drop some virgin coconut oil into the templates/trays and mix around with your finger. This is so the choccies come out after you're done!
6) Transfer the choc mixture into the templates with a tsp. After you have transferred half of your batch, you could now add coconut to the second half. Or even chopped dried fruits and nuts for extra crunch and flavour.
7) Place containers in freezer for ten plus minutes. Take out and slam those babies down on the clean kitchen bench you now have because you're not a grub and washed your precious food processor, then wiped down the benches with a tea tree or eucalyptus spray solution didn't you!! Now turn them over and smash it again. They should all fall out nicely.
If not, stand there and think on it for a few minutes. As the possibilities are running through your mind of how you could possibly get those babies out, they will be melting at room temp hopefully, enough that the next time you try, miraculously - they'll just fall out like golden awesomeness.
Place these into the fridge, in handy snap containers. They are very rich, and at first you may think "Woah!" but you'll be back for more. My word, you'll be back.