Chocolate Activated Walnuts
The most telling thing I can say about these nuts is simply to point out that the bag in the picture is empty! I was unable to help myself. In my defence, it took me longer to take the photograph than I had planned because the camera batteries needed recharging so it wasn’t like I inhaled the whole bag in 2 minutes. So it’s only partly that I have issues with impulse control around chocolate nuts; the rest is of it is all about these being so more-ish they should be a Class A controlled substance.
These are delicious, I love these. The Incan berries have a sweet lemony, tartness without being at all sour. They are wrapped in luxuriously thick chocolate, and the combination is a sophisticated treat. Each one is big compared to a choc-covered raisin - almost the size of a Malteser, so I find just one or two is enough to round off a meal. For me, it's not just that they taste wonderful, but they also seem to have a happy, sunny vibe that makes me feel cheery when I eat them. Where that comes from I don't know - maybe the people who make them are sunny-natured folk who put love into what they do. On the packet it says 'stimulating passion' - a perfect description! On the basis of how these taste, I want to try the other chocolate goodies in this range. I bet the almonds are good.
I always did like lemon and chocolate flavours together - when I ate conventional chocolates, one of my favourites was the dark chocolate lemon parfait from a well-known retail chain of chocolatiers. I did worry that I'd feel deprived when I switched to raw, but now there are so many high-quality, delicious raw chocolate goodies on offer that make it easy to avoid being tempted by the cooked, sugary stuff. I'm just hoping someone will come up with a raw version of my other favourite, the apricot parfait - hint!
Have you noticed how super-nutrition at its most digestible is often in liquid form? I have begun to take more of my food as liquids. I’m aware both from what I have learned and from first-hand experience that in the transition of moving to a higher raw diet, people can find raw foods more difficult to digest. A lifetime of eating conventional processed and cooked food can leave the digestive system stressed and weak so raw foods, with all their fibre intact, can be hard work initially if you go full-on. Also recent research shows that blended foods like soup keep us feeling full for longer than the same meal eaten as unblended solid food so liquid food could be helpful in controlling weight.
Long term raw fooders report that digestive strength improves over time. I look forward to that, but meanwhile, I am focusing more on liquid nutrition. I want my food to work really hard for me, giving as much benefit as possible for as little effort as possible. I want food that cleanses, heals and nourishes me, all at the same time if possible. I want liquids that love me and lift me and give me everything I need to thrive.
I am finding to my great pleasure that far from being boring, there aren’t enough hours in the day to drink all of my favourite stuff. My menu has to cycle over several days because of the variety of good things available. If it was possible to have a day where I could somehow fit it all in, that day might look like this;
For example, first thing in the morning I always have a litre of lukewarm spring water with the juice of a lemon, a teaspoon of sole*, a tablespoon of MSM and a good dose of ionic minerals like Ultratrace. A litre might sound a lot but it goes down easily because it’s slightly warm. The salt in the sole takes the edge off the tartness of the lemon nicely. The lemon helps cleanse the liver, as does the MSM. In fact the MSM does a whole lot more. The list is too long to mention here but the benefit I particularly value is that it’s a methyl group donor so it helps detox the body and clean up bad oestrogens. If I had unlimited funds I would also add Crystal Energy and MegaHydrate.
*Sole (‘solay’) is a saturated solution of Himalayan pink salt that tops up the body’s electrolytes and is made simply by adding coarse pink salt crystals to good water until no more will dissolve. A saturated salt solution is 26% salt so I add around one part salt to two parts water and leave it, giving it an occasional stir. If after 24 hours there are still undissolved crystals, I know no more will dissolve and it’s ready to use.
Next is a green juice, usually cucumber, celery and spinach with a squirt of marine phytoplankton. A nice combination is spinach, celery and pear (tastes like milk, yummy). Also there’s kale, celery and cucumber if I’m being saintly or kale, celery and apple with a squeeze of lime if I’m not. The lime and apple means you can hardly taste the kale, the result is almost like green limeade. Green juice is a drink with a list of benefits too long to detail here. Suffice to say, it is alkalizing and nourishing and very digestible – very handy way to get your green into you especially if your teeth are as dodgy as mine are.
When my stomach is empty again, I have my first half-litre mug of tea, a powerful tonic tea like gynostemma or a good herb tea blend.
For lunch I might have my absolutely favourite thing, a raw chocolate (or carob) and chia smoothie. I love this not just because it’s delicious and filling but because I can stuff lots of my favourite superfoods into it. Smoothies contain fibre which makes them more complete as a meal while still being easily digested. My ‘chock full’ smoothie has soluble fibre from the chia seeds. Soluble fibre is important for many reasons, not least because it’s the only kind of fibre that will transport waste from the liver (in the form of bile salts) through the intestines to the exit. If there's no soluble fibre and the bile salts are left in the intestine, they get re-absorbed into the blood stream and the liver has to deal with them all over again. Other sources of soluble fibre include seaweed especially irish moss, aloe vera gel, flax seeds, oats, apples and any fruit containing pectin. The smoothie recipe is;
- Milly’s Smoothie
- 2 T of chia seeds soaked in 1 cup water
- 1 T cacao powder
- 1 T carob powder (or just 2 T carob if chocolate is too stimulating)
- 1 T lucuma or mesquite
- 1 t sunflower lecithin (optional)
- 1 T protein powder (Morning Jing, hemp powder etc)
- 1-2 T coconut butter
- 1 T cashew or macadamia nuts or 2 T hulled hemp seeds
- 8-10 drops stevia extract or 1T raw honey/coconut nectar or other sweetener
- pinch pink salt (about 1/8 t)
- if using stevia, add a date or a little non-stevia sweetener to round out taste
- 1 T maca
Put everything except the maca into the blender. Add a little water (or leftover cool tea), no more than half a cup, and blend until smooth. Add up to 1T of maca, and little more water and blend again. With the maca you can add all sorts of extra goodies. I add kelp, tocotrienols (makes it extra creamy) and moringa, TMG, barleygrass powder. It’s a good smoothie for adding all the stuff that doesn’t taste nice on its own because the chocolate hides nasty tastes, some days in goes the shilajit and the mucuna as well.
Another good lunch smoothie is the green smoothie. I’ve tried some hideous-tasting combinations but the best one I’ve found is avocado, peeled lemon, spinach, spirulina, garlic, chilli and salt. This is based on a recipe by Elwin Robinson of Lion Heart Herbs. I have Victoria Boutenko’s book on green smoothies and would recommend it to anyone, though I personally would get into trouble with the fruity ones, too much sugar.
Once my smoothie has digested, I will drink water and/or more tea in the afternoon. I love gynostemma tea, but will also drink nettle and horsetail for the silica, or blends of tonic herbs like the Three Immortals blend. Apparently the 3 Immortals blend tastes coffee-like and is good for those who miss coffee.
If I need a snack in the afternoon I might have spirulina mylk. Remember this is a hypothetical day to show you all the options. I wouldn’t have all this in one day in reality. A small glass of nut and seed mylk makes a good snack. I make different kinds but at the moment my favourite is a rich brazil nut and pumpkin seed mylk with a teaspoon of spirulina and a quarter teaspoon of honey added. This mylk looks an unearthly but pretty shade of pale greeny blue and tastes lovely. I imagine children might like this one, especially if it came with a raw cookie or brownie though I haven't road-tested it on an actual child - if somebody's child does try it, let me know how it went!
By tea-time I generally do want something to get my teeth into but still with a liquid element. I love raw dishes that consist of pieces of vegetable in a tasty sauce or soup and something crunchy sprinkled over. One of my favourite recipes for winter is by Kate’s son Reuben, Garlick Soup (published on the Bubble). This is a garlicky curry flavoured soup with pieces of broccoli and beetroot in. Any vegetable with just about any raw soup or sauce you fancy is worth a try to see what works together. I do a simple blended sauce made of red pepper, sundried tomato and hemp butter (which has a wonderfully savoury taste) with a little tamari, olive oil and apple cider vinegar, lovely with any kind of seaweed like kelp noodles or sea spaghetti. It is always good on a spiralized combination of raw beetroot and celeriac, or my holy trinity (sauerkraut, seaweed and avocado) with cherry tomatoes. As an aside - those three are my favourite trinity of foods not just because they taste wonderful together but because raw sauerkraut gives me a massive probiotic boost, seaweed provides minerals, vital polysaccharides and soluble fibre and avocado is a fatty fruit (as are olives and durian, rare and precious!) On this dish, it's a treat to have crunchy sprinkles on top too – either Sunseeds, or spirulina crunchies which are heaven, or even the kale chip crumbs left behind when the bite sized pieces are all eaten.
While relaxing in the evening, more tonic tea is always a good idea because it helps me relax but also I might have a cold refreshing glass of kombucha or water kefir instead of a glass of wine. Both of these are fermented drinks full of probiotics and enzymes that help cleanse the colon and boost the good bacteria in it. For everything you need to know about fermented foods and their wonderful health benefits, see Sandor Katz's book on Wild Fermentation.
In the evening in cold weather, I’ll get some jing-restoring tonic herbs like schizandra, reishi and chaga into me, either as a tea or a tonic elixir. An elixir is a form of liquid nutrition advocated by David Wolfe, Truth Calkins and Daniel Vitalis. They take tonic tea, add a load of superherbs (especially the medicinal mushrooms like the three I just mentioned), some form of fat (eg coconut butter, cashew nuts or milk thistle seed mylk) and a natural sweetener and blend that up. An example is one that tastes like a malted milk drink. Into the blender you put a teaspoon each of reishi, chaga, astragalus, ho shou wu and maca. You also add a dollop of coconut oil, a tbsp of non-gm lecithin and whatever sweetener you prefer and then blend this up in half a litre of warm gynostemma tea. The result tastes like Horlicks Malted Milk, and is intensely healing, soothing and nutritious. Then you go to bed and sleep blissfully, knowing you have done your best to give your body the best nutrients in the most easily digested form. But make sure you go to the bathroom first…
Valentine’s day is a wonderful excuse, if any were needed, to have a decadent feast of the greatest superfood on the planet – chocolate! Let’s start with breakfast; how would you fancy a crunchy, chewy and delicious granola cereal smothered in a rich, thick, silky and extremely chocolatey smoothie and topped with super-sprinkles? It’s a heavenly way to start the most romantic day of the year.
This breakfast idea uses Raw Living ‘Be Real’ cereal which is based on crunchy buckwheaties with various good things added, depending on which variety you choose. I’ve tried both Be Happy (goji) and Be Good (the chocolate and mulberry version). Both are delicious eaten simply with nut mylk of course, but this recipe would a great Valentine’s breakfast treat. I also eat it sometimes when I want to feel full up to my eyes without feeling overstuffed, then not feel hungry for hours and hours. You can get everything you need for this recipe at Raw Living.
Be Real-ly Outrageous
1-2 servings of Be-Real
1 recipe of Choc-Full Smoothie:
- 2 T of chia seeds soaked in 1 cup water
- 1 T cacao powder
- 1 T carob powder
- 1 T lucuma
- 1 T non-gm soy lecithin
- 1-2 T coconut butter, no need to melt
- 1 T cashew or macadamia nuts
- 1 T tocotrienols (optional but makes it extra creamy)
- 1-2 T raw honey/coconut nectar or other sweetener
- pinch pink salt (only about 1/8 t but vital!)
- 1 T maca (to be added after initial blending)
- 1 T bee pollen
- Other sprinkles if desired eg cacao nibs, goji berries, chopped raw chocolate bar
To a high speed blender, add all of the choc-full ingredients, except the maca. If you don’t have a high speed blender, omit the cashew or macadamia nuts, and maybe use coconut milk instead to get the creaminess. Add a little water and blend until smooth. Add the maca and some more water (you’ll need about ¾ cup altogether but don’t use too much or the smoothie will be too runny) and blend again for 20 seconds. Taste to check sweetening level. Put your Be Real into one large or two smaller breakfast bowls and pour over the chocolate mixture. Sprinkle with bee pollen and any other delicious things you have on hand, and spoon-feed to your beloved.
For a Valentine gift, one of Sacred Chocolate’s heart-shaped raw chocolate bars would be a delight. If you have a girlfriend who loves chocolate but hates what it does to her thighs, this gift will get you big brownie points. Raw chocolate has none of the hip-and-thigh plumping hazards of conventional chocolate because it doesn’t contain dairy products, refined sugar and hydrogenated fats. It DOES have all of the taste and melt-in-the-mouth qualities we love about chocolate because it IS chocolate – it’s the real thing, just without the junk. Sacred Chocolate has all the taste and meltiness big-time, and is wrapped in pretty foil and love. The kind I tried, ‘India Sunset’ contains cardamom, curry and saffron, unusual flavourings for chocolate but I love it. I couldn’t taste the curry, but the flowery scent of cardamom comes through and the other flavourings give this bar of really top-quality chocolate a hint of complex, exotic flavour. Love it, love it, love it.
Another chocolate treat not to be missed on Valentine’s or any other time, includes Raw Living Chocolate Dream Cream. This is a raw chocolate spread containing amazing superfoods like ashwagandha, reishi, he sho wou and gingko. Its deep chocolate taste carries a hint of licorice and it isn’t cloyingly sweet. It can be spread on bread, fruit, cookies or (as it says on the label) ‘a good friend.’ Come on, it is Valentine’s, after all. In the photograph you can see I’ve plastered a healthy dollop onto raw oatmeal raisin cookies. Dream Cream is rich, so putting this amount on a cookie makes quite a filling snack. In raw food preparation, so many things have to be prepared fresh from scratch or thought about hours in advance for soaking that it feels like real luxury to have a jar of chocolate spread that I can just grab and smear onto whatever comes to hand for instant gratification. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Recently I was in West London for a couple of weeks, and I couldn’t take any of my raw staples with me. I decided to have faith that I would find what I needed and lo, it turned out that Planet Organic was just round the corner from where I was staying. I knew Planet Organic have begun stocking Raw Living products so I wasted no time in exploring the store. And there it was, a whole section of shiny packets with the familiar purple labels, and quite a few other branded goodies too. It was like bumping into old friends in a foreign country. Actually it was more exciting than that, I felt like Dorothy in a sort of raw food Oz – chia and cacao and maca, oh my!
Everything in the shop is well presented, fresh and appealing, I felt virtuous and lovingly catered for just walking through the door. First thing you see is the display of fresh organic produce and freshly baked bread. Then there is a chill case displaying things like raw desserts including slices of raw chocolate tart called Chocolate Blackout. I just had to test that out (well, it was my birthday and yes it was wonderful.) There was raw hummus and other spreads too. There's a counter where they serve fresh juices, smoothies and food, both hot food and salads. Then of course is the raw section with Raw Living granola and superfood powders, plus a whole lot of other raw staples. There is a boggling selection of raw chocolate bars and goodies, including Raw Living chocolate crispy cakes and most of the Raw Living chocolate bars. Planet Organic have their priorities right.
I spoke to Matt, the manager at the Westbourne Grove store. He said they began on the raw trail about 18 months ago but in response to demand, they now stock a much wider range of products. He expects the raw section will not only be a permanent fixture, but that they will expand the range even further. Matt did also say that he often gets people asking about raw foods, they want to know more about it and what benefits they can expect from raw, so education is definitely on the cards, too.
The raw goodies extend beyond just one section, if you have a good look around. On other shelves I found raw crackers, good coconut butter and nut/seed butters, and oh joyous! - big jars of raw Biona sauerkraut. There was an impressive range of green powders like barley grass and sprirulina, and green superfood blends.
Beyond my immediate pleasure at being able to easily get hold of good raw supplies while away from home, I find it uplifting to see them on offer in a High Street health food store like this. It shows that the raw movement is gaining momentum and demand for it increases with each year that passes. There will come a time in the foreseeable future when we will no longer be seen as a bunch of nutballs by mainstream eaters, but will be catered for in the same way vegetarians are now. Eventually, maybe we WILL be the mainstream, with a minority of dinosaurs clinging to their cooked habits. Imagine if you had to wear a hoodie for a furtive visit to McDonalds because it was considered so sleazy and self-destructive to eat stuff like that. I’m reminded of the Pot Noodle tv ad, a tongue-in-cheek thing that put eating Pot Noodle on the same level as pornography. But I can imagine a time when ‘eatin’ nasty’ is viewed for real by the majority as being akin to drinking and driving, illegal drugs or smoking. Okay, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but I can dream.
A box of chocolates has to be decadent to be proper, doesn’t it? These Artisan chocolates are definitely, decadently proper. That’s my gift shopping sorted. I shall reserve these especially for anyone who thinks I’m somehow missing out on treats because I’m high raw.
I have tasted relatively few brands of ready-made raw chocolate. I tend to notice the untempered quality of raw chocolate that means it lacks the glossiness and crisp snap of the mass-produced stuff. Some brands, while tasting great, are quite grainy in texture. As far as bars of raw chocolate go, I like Whoosh best (from Raw Living) because it's smooth and reminds me of a slightly darker version of Dairy Moo. For boxed chocolates, Artisan are sensationally smooth and melt-in-the-mouth luxurious.
Many of these chocolates are solid with great flavours and additions, or a layer of something delicious in the middle. There is a dark raspberry rose one that I swear is Turkish delight that has somehow been magically turned into chocolate. The raspberry flavoured white chocolate is a delicate delight that really does taste of raspberries. There’s one with a soft almondy marzipan layer that is heaven and then there’s the goji-nut, wowser. It should be illegal for anything to taste that good. When the authorities discover that we’re having so much fun with food that’s good for us, it probably WILL be made illegal.
I have been receiving Christmas greetings from friends with remarks like ‘hope you enjoy your raw Christmas dinner’ and so on so I do get the impression that some of my loved ones think I’m a joyless ascetic who is going to miss out on lovely goodies this festive season. Sending out some of these chocolates will give the recipient pleasure, sneak some goodness into them and might possibly also result in them starting to get it. I like subversive Christmas gifts!
Raw Living sell these in boxes of 6 or 12, and they also sell Rawsome's equally awesome Raw Chocolate Selection Box.
Made by Living Foods of St Ives, I had been eyeing up the raw chocolate pies for a while, so was a bit (over) excited when I got to sample the Peppermint version!
The ingredients are lovely: cacao nibs, coconut butter, agave nectar, lucuma, ground almonds, carob flour, and natural peppermint essence.
It's recommended that you enjoy these straight from the fridge, and so this is what I did. The texture was satisfyingly dense and pleasantly crumbly, a mix between chocolate bar and cake...different to any other raw chocolate I've yet tried, and very moreish! It started to soften quite quickly once out of the fridge, becoming almost truffle like. Such decadence! The cacao nibs added another dimension; a fun, crunchy contrast.
Taste wise, this bar was also gorgeous. It didn't seem as intense as other bars I have tried, I'm thinking maybe due to the inclusion of the ground almonds. Because of this, possibly a good option for those who aren't so keen on super dark chocolate.
The peppermint flavour was quite subtle, perfectly in balance with the other ingredients.
At first glance, I thought that this bar was quite small but at 60 grams, it's actually remarkably good value for raw chocolate - only £1.95...yes, really!
So as you may be able to tell, I really enjoyed this bar, and it has left me wanting to work my way through each variety of chocolate pie!
Here's a raw chocolate making video I did for Iceland's most popular women's magazine-style website. Unfortunately, I can't embed it here so you have to click HERE to go see it.
Iceland really is the most incredible place and has possibly the most enthusiastic and thriving raw community of anywhere in Europe. In part this is down to Solla and her incredibly inspiring drive and passion for this way of eating. But I think it is mainly down to the fact the people are so open and ready to accept the best things in life - they have the best air and the best water, why not eat the best food?!
These are little balls of happiness for those of us who still miss chocolate crispy cake. I can now indulge in a little bit of my childhood without the guilt. Actually these remind me of refrigerator cake too, because the chocolate has an almost fudgey texture which contrasts delightfully with the crispy buckwheaties. They’re sweet without being cloying, and then you get a sudden hit of extra sweetness when you encounter one of the raisins embedded in there. For me, these crispy cakes solve the problem of what to eat at about 7pm when I get the nibbles for something chocolatey. I don’t always care for raw chocolate in bar form, and find chocolate cake a bit heavy eaten late in the day. These hit the spot because I get the sweet chocolate hit without the heaviness. Like most raw goodies, these have a high nutritional value too, as the chocolate gives me a dose of magnesium, there's calcium in the carob and there are Omega 3s in the hemp. Cakes that are practically medicinal! I wouldn't eat them later than about 7pm though because they also give energy and I don't want to be bouncing off the walls at bedtime. Nice for a mid-morning boost when lunch seems a long way off or when you have a huge ironing pile that makes you droop just looking at it. Raw Living could deliver these with one of those calling cards with a man’s silhouette on it (though some readers probably won’t remember those old adverts) because this lady certainly loves…chocolate crispy cakes!
With just four ingredients - dates, sesame seeds, cacao and coconut - you would be forgiven for questioning just how good these little chocolatey discs could possibly be.
My suggestion is this; don't question, just try one.
They are dark and delicious, light and moreish. Made from only pure, natural, organic ingredients. There's a lovely balance between sweetness of the dates and the intensity of the cacao. Easy to transport, perfect for a quick energy boost. I think that they would be a really good thing to keep in your bag when you're on the go. Especially since they don't do silly things to your blood sugar levels like other snacks can. Mind you, I wouldn't know, since mine didn't last long enough for me to test out my theory!
I did manage to save a few of them, though, and I can confirm that they make a wonderful addition to any raw chocolate or sweet recipe! They lend a slight 'cornflake cake' element to the proceedings! I mixed some into the Caramaca recipe from Raw Living. This fudge is already one of my favourite things ever, and really, you can't go too wrong with an extra chocolatey and coconutty crunch!