Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Life lately has been all about appreciating little moments of solitude and one-on-one time with Logan. We've been relishing Sundays spent at home together, soaking in each others imaginations and shared distractions (Sherlock has us in its grips, currently). There's a lot of kitchen experimentation happening. Logan has been really on top of testing our bean-to-bar chocolate recipes -- every nuance tweaked and adjusted, notes jotted in acute handwriting in his black moleskin notebook. Roasting, shelling by hand, slowly grinding the cacao -- our minutes melt into afternoons long and lazy, the sound of our grinder whirring loudly, our house smelling of brownies. There's always chocolate under our nails.
I need these days like I need water.
We rarely get these times together. We're both so busy with our day jobs, our many projects, or hours spent with friends. I find we have to have time completely to ourselves to rejuvinate and connect, to hash out our bottled up ideas, schemes, thoughts.
So, when I'm busy with something along the lines of baking cupcakes for a friends special event, I whip out a treat for the two of us as I go. It gives us a moment to share, to feel special amidst the chaos of going going going. These muffins are based on a recipe for Red Velvet cupcakes I originally adapted as cocoa almond spelt cupcakes for a book release party. They're sort-of-dessert, sort-of-breakfast, definitely sweet and creamy with a lovely crumb.
My apologies that this isn't weighted. But I just sort of threw it together based on the original recipe, subbing mashed banana in for some of the liquid.
Banana Chocolate Chip Einkorn Muffins w Cacao Nibs
Cupcake liners for the muffin tins
3/4 cup + 3 tbsp einkorn or spelt flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup veggie oil (melted coconut oil and olive oil both work)
1 medium banana, mashed
1/2 cup almond milk
1 medium egg
1/2 tsp vinegar (I used a wine vinegar I had lying around)
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 cup chocolate chips (or more if you prefer)
Handful cacao nibs
Preheat oven to 350F
Line muffin tins with cupcake liners, or lightly oil
Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt in a medium-large bowl. In a seperate bowl, mix together the veg oil, banana, milk, egg, vinegar, and almond extract. Fold wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until well combined.
Spoon mixture into each liner, filling about halfway. Bake on the center rack for 25 minutes -- rotating half-way through -- or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. The finished muffins will be golden brown on top.
Let cool 5 minutes. Enjoy!
Monday, March 3, 2014
It's currently snowing here. Everything is covered in a soft powder, and I'm holed up in my house under a blanket -- drinking second-draw coffee out of a travel mug (yeah, I'm not going anywhere) because I want it to stay hot while I slowly sip it all morning (I slow-sip for way too long for this to work). All I can think about is questions like: "Should I make a layer cake today because I don't have any reason to go outside except potentially for a sledding escapade?" "Would it be worth it to go outside and freeze my butt off just for the exceptional relief of hot chocolate with giant marshmallows in it?" "Is watching the entire first season of Sherlock a waste of snow-day time or the most perfect distraction imaginable?!"
As I said, I'm cozied up under a pink and orange and gray wool throw. I discovered Todoist and Evernote and, paired with the idea-collecting powers of Pinterest, I'm entering into a whole new world of getting-shit-done.
I ACTUALLY cleaned my whole bathroom (yeah, I scrubbed the walls) because I put it on my Todoist list. THIS IS REAL LIFE.
I'm digging how effective I can be when I have the right organizing tools. I'm naturally a very messy person (see: piles of laundry everywhere; dishes stacked on my side table; my previously gross bathroom) -- but I get down to business if I have some sort of system goading me into productivity. So far these new systems are working.
Now that I've started wedding planning -- and calling upon my various friends' super powers for said wedding -- it's more important than ever that I stay on-track with my list of things to do. I have to be accountable to and communicative with a variety of folks, both personal and professional. I've been keeping all of my work-to-be-done in my head, and I've been getting my knickers in a twist over it. Sooooooo now I can just write down those ideas and stop poring over them all the time. It's like having a pensieve, you guys!
Aaaaand here's a bright little recipe to round out your winter mood. It'll (hopefully) be one of the last winter recipe posts of the season. I'm stoked for the return of ice cream, taco, asparagus, and berry recipes.
Brown Sugar Sautéed Butternut Squash & Collards w/ Sunflower SeedsRecipe
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded, and cubed
10 large collard leaves, de-stemmed and chopped roughly
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
1 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp shelled sunflower seeds, unsalted
1 pinch cayenne or dash hot chili oil (optional)
1/4 cup water
In a large sauté pan or cast iron pan, steam butternut squash and collards with 1/4 cup water and 1 tbsp sesame oil for 15 minutes, or until squash is soft and collards are completely wilted. Add brown sugar and sunflower seeds. Sautee until butternut squash begins to brown and caramelize.
Add cayenne or chili oil & salt before serving.
Monday, February 24, 2014
I've had some questions from followers on how to eat for immunity building and getting over colds/flu. I'm not an expert (obviously) but I do eat in a way that helps me to avoid getting sick frequently. I typically get sick zero to one times per year. Before following these guidelines, I would get sick three to five times a year (cold, flu, sinus infections, bronchitis, the works).
Here are my main tips:
Eat well. When it comes to preventative medicine, healthy eating is key. When my mind and body are over stressed or exposed to extreme environments (extreme heat, cold, humidity, dust, etc) I avoid dairy of all sorts, eggs, and reduce my sugar intake. I drink more fresh green juices. I eat more super foods like chia, hemp, blueberries, echinacea, milk thistle, spirulina, and the like. Going completely vegan for a short period of time really helps my body to reboot. Eating more alkaline foods helps me SO much; I up my intake of avocados, coconut milk & water, and leafy greens.
I also reduce my alcohol intake. I get plenty of sleep, water, and meditation time in. Eating well and making time for relaxation are the most practical, manageable steps I take towards avoiding sickness.
But when I DO get sick, I make a point to drink tons of echinacea tea with honey and lemon, steam with olbas oil, invest in fresh citrus juices with cayenne, and drink a ridiculous amount of coconut water. I avoid grains -- I find that ingesting too many grains when I'm sick slows down my recovery process. I'll still eat teff, buckwheat, and quinoa -- all excellent sources of protein, iron, calcium, and magnesium. A typical breakfast includes a huge bowl of garlicky sauteed kale over quinoa. I often find raw foods make my stomach turn when sick -- I'll steam squash and greens, carrots, celery, and the like and stir in some miso and cayenne. And I'll have that for dinner too. Chewing on ginger or muddling fresh ginger with carbonated water and honey or maple syrup is great for nausea and improving your appetite when you're feeling down.
Here's a great post from Claire Ragozzino of Vidya Cleanse on natural cold cures from her kitchen apothecary series.
Ok, I can see you getting overwhelmed at that long list of things one needs to eat/not eat & do/not do. My knee-jerk reaction is to say "oh it's not so hard, really, once you start!" But that's a lie. It's hard. It's really hard. The only reason I now find it so easy to adjust my diet based on these principles is because I've been eating a vegetarian, whole foods diet for years. I've failed a lot. I've made plenty of mistakes along the way. There are moments of pain and attachment associated with releasing addictive foods (and patterns) from our lives. But I've had enough success with my (painstakingly slow) journey to happy, plant-based eating that I've stuck with it. Eating mindfully and holistically is now a huge part of my daily life.
I'll talk more about eating a whole foods diet in another post. For now, check out this thorough and inspiring post by Sara B. of My New Roots on healthy vs. unhealthy sugar.
This oatmeal is more of a blueprint for making your morning meal as packed full of nutrition as possible.
1 cup steel cut oatmeal (gluten free certified, if you're celiac)
2 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp virgin coconut oil or ghee (clarified butter)
1 tbsp raw honey
1 tbsp chia
3 tbsp raw cashews
1 tsp local bee pollen
1 ripe bartlett pear
Cook oats in your usual way. I generally boil my oats for 10 minutes, until soft, and stir in the coconut oil. Once cool, stir in honey, chia, cashews, and bee pollen. I sliced my pear up and stirred that in as well. SO GOOD.
Did I mention I love pears? I have an entire pinterest board dedicated just to apple and pear recipes.
Serve w/ black coffee and a smile.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
I'm a pretty big fan of incorporating super foods into your diet as often and as painlessly as possible. Some super foods taste amazing (cacao nibs, honey), some are neutral (chia, hemp), some are... interesting (I'm talking about you spirulina). I have to admit, there is a little kid inside of me that NEEDS the adult inside of me to hide gross-but-good-for-me ingredients inside of sweet things. Mostly I get down with smoothies when it comes to this trick. I have yet to put beans in my brownies, or spinach in my donuts. I am dreading the day I become that person, but I know it's only a matter of time. I wore a floor length all linen dress the other day -- the kind I usually see on hippie grandmas. And it felt SO GOOD.
This smoothie is a template for smoothie making. I chose berries and bitter elements to balance out the sweetness of banana -- I dig the whole bitter + sweet thing. This particular smoothie is high in calcium, omega 3&6 (in proper balance), potassium, antioxidants, Vitamin B-1, magnesium, and theobromine (the happiness chemical that comes from chocolate). Not to mention the complete vitamin and protein package present in Bee Pollen -- you could live on that alone!
makes one large smoothie bowl
1 banana, frozen and sliced into 1 inch rounds
1 cup blueberries, frozen
1 tsp chia
1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp cacao nibs
1/2 tsp bee pollen
1.5 cups rice milk, or enough to just cover the ingredients in your blender.
Place all ingredients in a blender, filling with just enough rice milk to cover ingredients. Blend until uniform. Pour into a bowl, top with bee pollen, slurp/spoon into mouth.
other additions to love on
Mix and match to your hearts content!
Friday, February 14, 2014
Ladies, what should we expect of our men (or women) partners today? Flowers, chocolate, high fives, blah blah.... For all of the fun of a day dedicated to sparkly, heart-shaped, pink and white everything, I find the day rather empty -- despite that I have a valentine whom I love oh so very much. I don't want to spend money, or have money spent on me, for the sake of a tradition that tells us we should.
If anything, I would like to use Valentines Day as a yearly reminder to be more loving, kind, and thoughtful throughout the year. A reminder to write more love poems for my lover, friends, family; to find romance in the little things; to treat each other with compassion and love daily; to spread the gift of love to those suffering in this world.
So, perhaps today, instead of buying chocolates (what am I saying?!) or jewelry or fancy dinners for our sweethearts, we could buy a flower for someone who badly needs some affection or donate to a small charity for to pay love forward.
What do you think?
My friend Kayde (of Rung and Spoke) trekked through snow and ice to get to my house yesterday, and she brought the most precious gift with her: a bag a raw cocoa beans! An acquaintance gifted it to her as a birthday present, and she didn't quite know quite what to do with them. As is to be expected. Raw cocoa beans are precious and nutritious, but also waxy and bland. Difficult to work with, if you're going to work with them at all. You have to roast them to 1. bring out their fantastic aromatic flavor qualities, and 2. get the crunch typical of cacao nibs you buy in stores.
We have a fancy cocoa bean roaster in our chocolate test kitchen (yes, that's a real thing), but you can roast raw beans at home in a cast iron skillet or on a cookie sheet in the oven.
So how do you roast raw cocoa beans? Here's how!
Preheat oven to 200F.
Lay 1 LB of your raw beans out on your cookie sheet. Check through your beans to make sure there is no detritus (you find some crazy things in raw bean stock sometimes...). Spread out your beans evenly, and place on the middle rack in your oven. Roast for 10 minutes, stirring once half way through. Your cocoa beans are done roasting when your kitchen starts smelling strongly of fresh brownies.
Remove from oven immediately and let cool 10 minutes (it's great if you have a small fan at this point to help with cooling).
Once cooled, shell the beans with your hands by gently gripping and twisting them between your fingers. The shells are papery and light, and should twist off rather easily (especially if you have criollo stock i.e. smaller, fine flavor beans). Discard the shells (or you can save them and use them to make a chocolate stout, incorporate them into homemade body products, the list goes on!).
Crush the beans gently with your hands to break the beans into nibs.
Store in an airtight container. They keep for 3 years!
I love adding cacao nibs to banana bread, my morning yogurt, smoothies, and of course eating them straight up!
p.s. You can buy raw beans through Chocolate Alchemy! They have an amazing price by the pound!