In a recent cooking class I used the dried powder of a root called Maca to enhance the malty caramel notes in a raw truffle. Ok well I also used it to boost the libido of those who ate the truffles too, tee hee.
When I told my students this their eyes lit up and they all acted like giddy teenagers. Of course they all wanted to know more about this interesting plant that only grows naturally in the mountains of Peru.
Maca is a vegetable that has been used as a food and medicine by Peruvians for thousands of years, over a 100 years in Chinese medicine, and is now rising in use in the global market...and for good reasons. It is thought to be an adaptogen herb that boosts libido and fertility, reduces the stress response, balances hormones, aids in anemic conditions, and is an all around tonic.
The root of the maca plant is the part primarily used and is dried into a powder. This powder is creamy yellow in color and has a malty flavor to it. The way Westerners use it is to add it to smoothies, shakes, raw desserts, porridge, and baked goods. The Peruvians generally would boiled it, ferment it, and make a porridge.
Whether the Western way of just adding the dried root powder works as effectively as the boiled and fermented version is something for you to simply experiment with and see. I have personally experienced and heard from clients that the dried root powder has worked great. All happy clients for sure!
If you are interested in learning more about this plant here are some good reputable sources. This article from the University of Michigan is short and sweet. But if you want solid info and research data, check out this article from the National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health.
If you are already sold and want to explore this amazing plant's tonic and balancing properties, then go to your local health food store and purchase a quality brand of maca root powder. Again you can add it to your favorite smoothie recipes, hot oatmeal or quinoa porridge, raw truffles, or protein shake. Or check out The Maca Team website for a database of recipes and ideas.
And comment below if this herb brings you any magic ;)
Love and vitality to you....
This past week I had the joy of celebrating my two best friends babies who both turned one. There was lots of food, drinks, and of course desserts to honor their first beautiful year of life.
Since it is fall I decided to make pumpkin cupcakes as they are nourishing, yummy and easy to be smashed by babies! This recipe is not gluten free, but I will create a gluten free version for my dessert cookbook that shall be released by spring of 2018. Enjoy!
VEGAN PUMPKIN CUPCAKES WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING -makes 17
2 cups all purpose organic flour
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp flaxmeal mixed with 3 Tbsp water (let sit 10 min. until thick)
1 (15oz) can pumpkin
1/4 cup expeller pressed canola oil
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
Heat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 small sized muffin tins with your favorite cupcake liner.
In a medium bowl whisk together flour through salt. In a small bowl mix the flax "egg" with pumpkin, oil, vinegar, water, and vanilla. Make a well in the dry mix and pour in the wet mix. Blend until incorporated, but don't over mix. Scoop about 1/4 cup into each cupcake hole. Bake about 15-18 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out dry. Let cool.
FROSTING - makes enough to frost all and have leftovers to dip apples or pear slices in!
1 (8oz) tub of Tofutti at room temp
1/2 cup Earth Balance butter at room temp
1/2 tsp vanilla
3-4 cups organic powdered sugar
In a medium bowl with a hand mixer blend Tofutti, butter, and vanilla until smooth. Slowly add powdered sugar until it is the taste and consistency you would like. Blend until smooth, then frost cupcakes. Sprinkle with cinnamon for the fancy factor. Devour.
Celebrate life. Celebrate food. Celebrate YOU!
A lot of people ask what the secret is in the rich creamy chia pudding that I make. I respond to them “well it is made with a lot of love and of course with pure coconut milk”.
Pure coconut milk, meaning the variety that comes in a (BPA free) can versus aseptic packaging. The latter is a “beverage” and has added items such as sugar, vitamins, minerals, gums, natural flavors, lecithin, and carrageenan. The coconut milk base in the beverage is also usually a blend of mostly water and coconut cream.
Canned coconut milk, what I call pure coconut milk, is made with coconut milk as the first ingredient and sometimes has water, guar gum, carrageenan or sulfites. Which variety you purchase is important when buying canned as well as with the beverage.
The variety I purchase and make my famous chia pudding with is from cans that have a BPA free lining and is 100% pure coconut milk. There are no added gums, carrageenan, preservatives or sulfites. I believe this makes a big difference in not only the health of you and our environment, but also in taste and texture. This variety of coconut milk is rich, thick and creamy and makes the best base for chia puddings.
If you are interested in making coconut milk from scratch you can do so simply by combining unsweetened coconut flakes (purchase sulfite free) with water in a blender then straining it. Here is a recipe and how to guide for you. This is a delicious, refreshing and a wonderfully pure food.
Here is a simple chia pudding recipe for you to try out today:
VANILLA CHIA PUDDING
1 (14oz) can full fat coconut milk (My favorite brand is Aroy-D)
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tbsp. chia seeds
Optional: shredded coconut, fresh fruit, granola to top
Add coconut milk to a mason jar (with cover) and whisk until blended and smooth. Add vanilla extract, maple syrup, cinnamon, and whisk. Add chia seeds and immediately whisk until fully incorporated, no clumps. Put cover on and refrigerate overnight.
The next morning add shredded coconut, fresh fruit, and granola, then enjoy!
Well now that I have divulged my secret I look forward to hearing your stories of making your own coconut milk chia pudding and what fun flavors you come up. Post comments and pics below!
Ok I admit it, I have a serious sweet tooth. So when I have a craving for something sweet I sometimes indulge and other times try to find treats that will appease my craving, but nourish rather than diminish my body.
Some obvious nourishing craving appeasers are fresh fruits, dried fruits, or low sugar sorbets. Others that take a little bit more effort include raw vegan desserts like truffles, brownies & cakes.
These are usually made with a combination of nuts, dried fruits, cocoa/carob powder, coconut, spices, and maybe a little sweetener added in. The combinations are endless!
Try out this batch, but experiment with different nuts, spices and dried fruits to see what flavor combos you come up with. Really, you can't go wrong with this because any combo you make most likely will taste awesome. And these sweets are much healthier for your body than the traditional standby of Oreos, cupcakes, ice cream, cookies, etc.
Your taste buds and body thank you.
Chocolate Coconut Cashew Raw Vegan Truffles
3/4 cup raw unsalted cashews
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 T cocoa or carob powder
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups pitted dates
In a food processor fitted with a S-blade, blend all but vanilla and dates until it is a powder. Add in the vanilla with a cup of the dates and process. Add the other cup of dates and process until the mix forms a dough. Add more dates or a tiny bit of water if it is too dry.
Roll into little balls and optionally roll in cocoa powder, chopped nuts, or shredded coconut. This is also delish pressed into a loaf pan to make a "brownie". Optionally top with fresh strawberry or raspberry jam for an added taste boost.
Refrigerate until firm, eat and enjoy. These could last a couple weeks if you don't eat them first.
One of my favorite ways to celebrate love (on Valentine’s Day or any day!) is by creating sensual and tantalizing treats to indulge in. Think rich chocolate sauce, fresh whipped cream, gooey caramel, a plethora of juicy ripe fruits and (if you really want to explore the senses) a blindfold.
With a partner or on your own, you can go on an adventure of the senses when you take away the dominant sense of sight. Touching, smelling and tasting these simple treats can be turned into an exotic feast right in the comfort of your home.
Here are some delicious vegan recipes to get your sensual tantalizing taste adventure started:
Vegan Dark Chocolate Sauce: Whisk together ½ cup cocoa powder, ½ cup room temp maple syrup (add more if you want the sauce sweeter) with ¼ cup melted extra virgin coconut oil. Keep at room temp. If you refrigerate it will harden up a bit.
Coconut Whipped Cream: take one can of full fat coconut milk and place in the fridge overnight (can also sub coconut cream). The next day scoop out the thickened cream (save water/milk for smoothie) into a chilled bowl. With an electric beater, beat the cream until thick and fluffy. Add vanilla or almond extract to taste along with organic confectionary sugar to sweeten.
Vegan Salted Caramel Sauce: In a saucepan over medium heat combine 1/2 cup coconut (or brown) sugar with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ cup almond milk. Cook until the sugar dissolves then increase the heat to medium high and bring it to a boil. Stir often until the mix thickens but is still gooey. Remove from heat and stir in 1 Tablespoon Earth Balance butter or melted coconut oil and a ½ teaspoon vanilla.
Put each of these sauces into small bowls and serve with fresh ripe fruit such as strawberries, cherries, apples, pears, and mango. You can also have pieces of brownies, vanilla pound cake, or angel food cake available to dip into the sauces.
Use your fingers instead of toothpicks so you can feel the variety of textures and truly explore your senses. Indulge, experience, enjoy and celebrate the sensuality and beauty of love.
This blog is an exploration of life, love, adventure and art primarily through the medium of food.