Chocolate IS Love… Vegan Valentine Recipes with Raw Cacao

Chocolate is Love.

At least that’s what our brains think.

See, when we eat chocolate, a whole cascade of happy chemicals and hormones get triggered, making us feel a bit high, happy, relaxed and excited all at the same time.

 

Kinda like love.

Raw Cacao Truffle Recipe

Phenylethylamine is often called the “love drug,” a unique caffeine with stimulating physiological effects, fatty acids called cannabinoids (yes, relatives of those found in pot), which make you feel relaxed and intoxicated, and all of this leads to a release of the pleasure-producing hormones dopamine and serotonin.

 

Top it all off with a dose of sugar normally found in our cocoa treats, and you’ve got a world-class super drug.

 

With all of these happy high chemicals coming in legal, cheap, bite-sized nuggets, it’s amazing we aren’t all on the streets collecting pop bottles and turning tricks to get another fix! (Too much? Ok, maybe just collecting pop bottles…)

 

Luckily, the amounts of these mind-altering chemicals found in chocolate are relatively small compared with other drugs like marijuana, ecstasy, and morphine. Our modern brains are used to the amounts and effects of the pleasure-inducing chemicals released by our coffee, tea, cocoa, and energy drinks, and we can only produce so much dopamine. When we eat a ton of chocolate and release a bunch of dopamine, our bodies immediately seek balance by shutting down the hormone production. This leads to desensitization to both dopamine and chocolate’s effects over time.

 

Which makes me think we should all be living slightly cleaner lives with less caffeine, sugar and other “happy drugs” so that we can really enjoy the effects of chocolate more!

Cacao pod, Costa Rica, Alex Jamieson, raw cacao recipes

Cacao pod

HISTORY OF CACAO

Cacao flowers, Costa Rica, Alex Jamieson, raw cacao recipes

Cacao flowers, Costa Rica

Humans weren’t the first culinary smarties to figure out that cacao seeds were edible. They learned it from watching monkeys. Found in pods growing in South American rain forests, cacao seeds are covered with a slimy, slightly-sweet gel, sort of like leechee fruit.

 

Monkeys and people first cracked open the pods, sucked on the fruit and spat out the seeds. The raw seeds inside were bitter and pretty gross, so few animals or humans ate them, even though they were high in fat.

 

Carrying these seeds along their migrations caused the cacao trees to spread throughout South America and Central America.

 

But what happened next in chocolate’s history took a stroke of luck: someone realized that when you fermented and then roasted those seeds before eating them, the bitter flavor diminished and the ambrosia-like aroma of chocolate began to tickle their noses.

 

Once fermented and roasted, those bitter cacao beans begin to smell like melting chocolate. Grind the seeds, add some sugar, cinnamon, and chili pepper, and you’ve got a Water of the Gods, or cacao agua.

 

I recently visited a rainforest cacao plantation in Costa Rica and watched the traditional methods for making cacao agua, as well as tasting the fruits, and learning about the lifecycle of this magical food.

Raw Cacao Fruit, Costa Rica, Alex Jamieson, raw cacao recipes

Raw Cacao Fruit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until you can get yourself down to Central America to experience this for yourself, I’ve created a few healthy, delicious cacao (raw cocoa bean) recipes to enjoy with your Valentine, or any time!

 

Hot Chocolate of the Gods

Hot Chocolate of the Gods: Vegan Valentine's Hot Cocoa | Raw Cacao Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate of the Gods: Vegan Valentine’s Hot Cocoa | Raw Cacao Hot Chocolate

I know, that’s a bold statement – really, Alex? Chocolate of the Gods? That’s quite a boast for a cup of hot cocoa. I’m telling you! I first drank something like this recipe in Costa Rica on a chocolate plantation in the jungle, and had my first out-of-body experience. In short, I think I saw God. At least I saw chocolate, and for me, that’s pretty good.

2 pitted Medjool dates

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1 cup water

1/8 tsp cinnamon

½ teaspoon vanilla

3 tablespoons raw cacao powder

pinch sea salt

*1/8 tsp cayenne powder (optional – this is how the ancients did it)

* ¼ tsp peppermint extract (optional – don’t combine if using cayenne)

 

Directions:

 

Combine all in a blender and blend until super smooth. Pour into a small saucepan and warm over medium heat until heated through.  Pour into mugs, cozy up under a blanket, turn on Cousins, Diva, or Downton Abbey (or any other romantic movie) and enjoy!

 

 

Date Night: Cacao Nibs in Dates

Date Night: Raw Cacao and Medjool Dates, Raw Cacao Recipe, Alex Jamieson

Date Night: Raw Cacao, Almond Butter and Medjool Dates

Medjool Dates, Date Night, Raw Cacao Recipe, Alex Jamieson

Medjool Dates, Date Night, Raw Cacao Recipe

 

4 Medjool dates, pitted and halved

1 tablespoon cacao nibs

1 tablespoon almond butter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Directions:

 

Scoop ½ teaspoon into each half of the pitted dates. Sprinkle with cacao nibs and gently press in with your finger so the nibs stick. Serve to your loved one on Date Night!

Goddess Truffles

Goddess Truffles: Raw Cacao Recipe, Alex Jamieson

Goddess Truffles: Raw Cacao Recipe

Whether you’re serving them to a Goddess, or you ARE a goddess, these raw cacao truffles are super easy, delicious, and won’t tax your culinary skills. In short, you can show off in the kitchen without trying too hard.

 

2 cups raw nuts (I used 1 cup each almonds and cashews)

½ cup pitted Medjool dates

pinch sea salt

4 tablespoons raw cacao powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon honey

optional: coconut flour, cacao powder, cinnamon for rolling truffles

 

 

Directions:

Combine all (except optional coconut flour, etc) in a food processor. Pulse until the nuts are well ground and mixed with the dates.

Using a tablespoon or a small ice cream scooper, scoop the mixture into your hand and form into truffle balls.

You can now roll in coconut flour or other decorations, or eat raw.

Goddess Truffles: Raw Cacao Recipe, Alex Jamieson, Valentine's Day Recipe, Vegan Valentine

Goddess Truffles: Raw Cacao Recipe

 

 

Serve as is, on top of ice cream, or crumbled on banana slices.

 

 

WHY I USE RAW CACAO

As you may have noticed, these recipes call for raw cacao, which is different from baking chocolate, chocolate chips, and all products made with dutched or processed chocolate. The health benefits of raw cacao are pretty awesome, and you can make a lot of easy treats with it.

 

And for me, healthy + delicious = perfect.

Why Raw Cacao is the best Chocolate

Why Raw Cacao is the best Chocolate

 

BUT, you have to buy the right kind of cacao to get the most benefits and avoid the toxins found in conventional cacao production. Certified Organic Raw Cacao is an excellent source of antioxidants. It it’s NOT Certified Organic Raw Cacao, then you are also eating a lot of chemicals from irradiation and spraying of chemicals which are standard practice in growing cacao beans.

All of my recipes use organic raw cacao powder and raw cacao nibs.

In case you’re wondering, here are some of the health benefits of using raw cacao:

 

Magnesium: Cacao beans are a great source of this mineral (270 milligrams per 100 grams), which is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in our bodies, including muscle and nerve function, and is a muscle relaxant associated with feelings of calmness.

Sulphur: Cacao is also high in sulfur, which helps grow strong nails and hair.

 

Fiber: A chocolate bar doesn’t offer any fiber, but if you eat raw cacao, you’ll get 9 grams per ounce!

 

Iron: An ounce of the raw cacao beans or nibs (crushed beans) contains six per cent of your recommended daily iron intake.

 

Antioxidants: Raw cocoa powder tops the antioxidant list with almost four times the amount of antioxidants as Goji Berries. But be careful! You may be sensitive to the caffeine effects on your nervous system, so take it easy on this stimulant.

 

Now there are 2 compounds in cacao that you might want to be careful of:

 

Theobromine, which makes up 1-2% of the cacao bean and, like caffeine, is a nervous system stimulant that dilates the blood vessels — much like caffeine. This is what makes chocolate unsafe for dogs, and causes uncomfortable sensations for sensitive humans.

 

Phenylethylamine (PEA): While our bodies also produce PEA (an adrenal-related chemical) when we’re excited, it causes our pulse to quicken. While this makes some of us feel alert and excited, it can have an uncomfortable effect on people who are sensitive and wanting to lower their heart rate.

 

With all this in mind, choose the healthiest chocolate for you and your loved ones, and enjoy the natural high of the food of the gods.

 

I want to hear from you! Share your pictures of favorite chocolate recipes, or your version of these recipes here!

Post your pictures to my Facebook or Pinterest page, and leave a comment below about your chocolate discoveries!

Xo,

Alex

Winter Salads: Waste Not Want Not, Cauliflower Leaves

Don’t throw out those cauliflower leaves!

You know those leaves that frame the white, pillowy florets we love eating?

They’re edible, too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just peel them off the florets, wash them, dry them, and thinly slice them.

“You mean I’ve been throwing away good greens all these years?!” you ask…

YES! The vitamins are just as high in the leaf as in the head,

and 1/2 cup of cauliflower (leaves or white florets) contains half of your daily Vitamin C and are super high in fiber.

AND cauliflower is part of the cancer-fighting cruciferous family, so hit your antioxidant quota with this simple trick.

Here’s what I did this week while I was steaming the florets:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slice the leaves up thinly and toss with freshly shredded carrot.

Drizzle with olive oil, a little lemon juice or umeboshi vinegar, and sprinkle with good sea salt.

Toss. Eat. Done.

shredded cauliflower salad Alex Jamieson

 

 

Cold & Flu Season Busters: Cinnamon Tea Recipe (good for sugar cravings too!)

Cold & Flu Season? Stock up and protect yourself and your family!

Cinnamon Tea Recipe

Cinnamon Tea fights colds, flu and & cravings

Don’t wait until the shiver, shakes and fever stick you in bed for a week.

Be sure to stock your kitchen ‘medicine cabinet’ with these natural wonders:

Ginger root and ginger tea to help eliminate toxins
Raw garlic is anti-viral and has antibacterial properties
Dried shiitake mushrooms in broth, tea or food soothe inflammation
Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of immune boosting zinc
Cinnamon to help relieve congestion
Lemon (freshly squeezed) in water or on salads or veggies, or in soup can help fight infection

 

 

Although many people like to simply sprinkle cinnamon on oatmeal drinking cinnamon in tea is another  great option, especially in winter. Warming, used for treating diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, flu, arthritis, menstrual cramps, and candidiasis, the smell relieves tension and helps steady the nerves. Cinnamon also balances blood sugar levels! Make your own easy Cinnamon Tea at home to help reduce sugar cravings, warm up, and keep colds and flu at bay.

Cinnamon Tea

Total time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cinnamon stick (1-3 inches)
  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • 1 decaf green, black or herbal tea (rooibos or honeybush are favorites)
  • 1-2 drops of Stevia for sweetening (optional)

Preparation:

1. Place the cinnamon stick in a cup.

2. Add the boiling water and steep covered for 10 minutes.

3. Add the teabag. Steep for one to three minutes.

4. Sweeten to taste, if desired.

Cucamelon Salad – What’s a Cucamelon!?

They’re tiny, they’re adorable, and their downright delicious.

Cucamelon recipe

These itty bitty cucumbers are a little bit lemony tasting, and pair perfectly with end-of-season cherry tomatoes and grapes.

Also known as Sanditas or Mexican Sour Gerkins, these little babies are being grown around the US now, and I’ve seen them in well-stocked grocery stores and farmer’s markets on both coasts. Check your local store now, or order seeds for next year here and grow your own!

Cucamelon Salad

 

Cucamelon Salad Recipe Alexandra Jamieson

Serves 6-8 as a side

2 cups cucamelons (aka sanditas), washed, dried & halved
2 cups cherry tomatoes, washed, dried & halved
2 cups red grapes, washed, dried & halved
8 leaves fresh basil, washed, dried & torn
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch sea salt

Combine the cucamelons, tomatoes and grapes in a bowl.
Tear the basil and add to the bowl.
Combine the lemon juice, olive oil and salt in a small bowl. Whisk well.
Pour olive oil mixture over the cucamelons and toss gently. Serve immediately and enjoy the happy sounds of delighted guests.

 

Inspired by Elise Kornack’s Tomato & Sandita Salad in New York Magazine October, 2013

How To Stay Cool (And Drop A Few Pounds) With Natural Foods This Summer

Are you wilting? Living in New York City can be tough on a girl’s hair in the summer. Humidity, heat and shvitzing not only make my ‘do a frizzy mess, but I get cranky, tired and crave cool things to help me get relief.

Rather than reaching for the bucket of ice cream, an expensive iced soy latte or a caffeine filled iced tea, try adding in more of nature’s natural coolers throughout your day. These foods will quench your thirst, cool your internal fires, and help you drop a few pounds if you load up on these instead of the potato salad at the Labor Day picnic! 

COOLING FOODS

Alfalfa
Amaranth
Apple
Berries
Bok choy
Borage
Broccoli
Chinese cabbage
Cilantro
Citrus
Cucumber
Dandelion
Eggplant
Green tea
Kudzu
Lemon
Lettuce
Litchi
Millet
Mint
Mung bean
Pineapple
Plum
Radish
Rhubarb
Seaweed
Sour cherry
Sprouts
Summer squash
Tofu
Tomato
Tropical fruit
Watermelon
Wild blue-green algae

Did you love this idea? Please Click To Tweet & Share! 

xo, 

Alex

 

Compiled From Rebecca Wood’s The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia
http://astore.amazon.com/nutritionforempoweredwomen-20?node=1&page=2

10 Reasons Why Summer Is THE Season for Eating Well

GUEST BLOG by Dr. Hyman

I rarely have guests write on my blog: so today’s post is a special occasion! The smart, and dare I say handsome, Dr. Mark Hyman has inspired thousands to heal their diabesity (diabetes + obesity) with good food. Read this and get inspired:

 

There are so many reasons why I love the summertime: the green grass and warm sunshine, longer days and warmer evenings, more time to savor all the beauty of the outdoors. But the best part by far is the amazing abundance of healthy, fresh, whole foods everywhere you look. In celebration of the richness of the season, I’ve put together my top 10 reasons why there’s no better time to eat well.

1. Food is Fresh, Available, and Affordable

It’s easy to eat fresh, locally grown food when fruits and vegetables are as abundant and available as they are during the summer months. And when food is more available, it’s more affordable, too, since choosing local produce cuts the cost of shipping food from some far-off place.

When food is in season, it’s better for you. Except for freezing, most food storage practices cause a loss in nutrition and quality. Think of all the preservatives and toxic chemicals used to keep packaged foods from going rancid on grocery store shelves. Beware these processed and preserved foods that can’t die. Fresh food is alive, filled with all the nourishment and nutrients needed to keep you alive and thriving!

Eating locally is not only healthy for you, it’s great for your community, too. Participate in the grow-your-own movement by shopping at your local farmers’ market or join a CSA (community supported agriculture). See www.localharvest.org to find a CSA or farmers’ market near you. For more adventurous ways to go local, try that interesting little farm stand you drive by during your daily commute (they usually offer great value for seasonal fruit and veggies) or try a pick-your-own farm.

 

2. You Can Get Back To Basics

Summer is all about unwinding, relaxing, and enjoying the simple pleasures of good food and good company. Always keep basic staples in the pantry, so you’ll be ready for an easy, impromptu meal. They don’t need to cost much. To eat well, you don’t have to indulge in expensive specialty foods or the new, trendy exotic fruit du jour. Keep it simple.

Tip: Get back to basics by creating delectable meals out of everyday foods, such as beans and greens. Beans cost only 50 cents per serving, yet give you 7 grams of blood sugar-friendly fiber. Try the Black Bean Salad recipe from The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook.

 

3. You Can Savor the Flavor

Summer offers so many ways for you to add flavor to your food without resorting to salt and fat. Herbs, spices, and berries are all plentiful during the warmer months. Get creative, and experiment using herbs like basil, cilantro, parsley, or fresh dill. In the summertime, these are so easy to grow right in your own window!

Here are two recipes from Mark’s Book The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook! 

Shrimp Salsa & Whole Foods Protein Shake

4. You Can Lighten Your Load

Produce is available in huge quantities and varieties during the summer months. This wide array of options makes it easy to enjoy a light, plant-based diet, which can keep your heart healthy, your waistline slender, and your blood sugar levels optimized.

Try incorporating meatless Mondays into your weekly meal plan or try eating at least one meal a day without animal protein. This can help you lighten the load on your digestive system, as well as on the Earth, since raising animals for food has a greater impact on the environment than growing fruits and vegetables.

Tip: Choose non-GMO tempeh to replace ground beef in your next recipe. This one change will drastically trim your shopping bill, because tempeh costs about a third of what you’d pay for the amount of meat needed to feed a family of four! Try the Spiced Ground Turkey Wrap With Watercress & Avocado recipe from The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook and replace the turkey with tempeh.

 

5. There Are So Many Ways To Enjoy Your Leftovers

Remember all those leftover berries from the pick-your-own farm or all the fresh zucchini you found from the farmers’ market? Don’t waste them—re-use them! Here’s one great way to use Monday night’s chicken dinner in Tuesday morning’s breakfast: the Roasted Chicken and Egg White Cup recipe from The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook.

 

6. Dine Under the Stars

Add flare to your normal weeknight routine by creating your own summery dinner table outside. No need to go to fancy restaurants to make your meal feel special; decorate your outdoor table with some candles, stones, or fresh flowers to enhance your dining experience! Invite friends over. Make it a potluck! Relaxing under the stars, enjoying a fine meal with friends, will soothe your nerves and help you digest your food, while truly appreciating the magic of summertime.

7. Going Local Can Be Better Than Going Organic

While it’s sometimes OK to choose the conventional versions of fruits and vegetables, whenever possible, it’s best to opt for organic. This limits your exposure to pesticides, fertilizers, hormones, drugs, and other toxins that can be found in conventionally grown food.

When you buy from local farms, you can find fruits and vegetables that are just as nutritious as their organic counterparts, with one distinct advantage: to reach you, locally grown produce doesn’t have to travel the thousands of miles across which some organic foods are shipped. This extra time spent in the back of a truck can make them more costly, yet less nutritious.

8. Summer Food Preparation Is Quick and Simple

When it’s cold out, stews, soups, and slow-cooker meals are best. But these take time to prepare and cook. Summer is all about quick and easy meal prep. Your body craves raw or lightly cooked food, which means less time for you in the kitchen. This gives you more time to get outside and enjoy summer’s simple pleasures.

9. There Is More Than Meets the Eye In Colorful Summer Foods

Summer fruits and vegetables grow in a variety of beautiful colors that make food more pleasing to the eye, and the more beauty on your plate, the more pleasure you receive from your meal. The more pleasure you feel, the less likely it is you’ll overeat. But the beauty of these colorful fruits and vegetables is far more than skin deep. These colors are nature’s way of advertising the phytonutrients, or special, healthy chemicals, they contain. The more color, the better!

10. Enjoy Special Savings When You Buy The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook This Summer

Design the perfect summertime meal plan. Get tips and tricks for making healthy and tasty meals in your own kitchen. Learn what foods you should eat to boost your metabolism, balance your blood sugar, and lose weight. Try more than 175 tasty recipes that appeal to a variety of budgets, taste preferences, health goals, and lifestyles. Click here to learn more about how easy I have made it for you to buy The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook, with these fabulous new bonuses:

  • $20 discount in The Blood Sugar Solution Store with your order over $100. It’s like getting the book for free!
  • Online access to the bestselling UltraMetabolism DVD
  • 10-Day Detox Diet—exclusive preview webinar
  • 10 Myths Sabotaging Your Waistline (and Your Health): an eGuide

When “Healthy” Food Isn’t: The Truth About ULTRA Processed Foods

A reader asked me about veggie burgers and faux-meats on Facebook. “Are these healthy?”
My answer is getting a lot of attention, and may make you question your Whole Foods’ purchases:

Safe & Easy Detox For Diabetics …And Others

A good detox can help you lose weight, grow your energy, improve your mood and your skin.

But what if you’re a diabetic and worried about your blood sugar – is a detox safe?

Watch my video on safe and easy detox for diabetics here – it’s great for anyone with borderline blood sugar issues or sugar sensitivities:

 

Safe & Easy Detox for Diabetics

Click here to watch the video: 

Let me know in the comments below how you’ll use these tips to help improve your relationship with sugar!

Getting off sugar requires a few things:

- nourishing and healing your body, which is probably depleted after years of the draining effects of sugar

- the right supplements to help you curb your cravings on a physical level

- looking at the emotional triggers that set you off and running for the ice cream or chocolate

To finally get the nutrients and healing supplements you need to end your sugar habit, check out my remedy:

Get my I Crave Sugar Kit here to finally get control of your sugar cravings & kick the habit!

xo,

Alex

they got all that — in 28 days?

The Slim Down Summer Detox starts on June 29th — want to see what past detox members achieved in a few short weeks?

There’s still time to join! Click here to get the details and sign up: 

And don’t worry — the real cleanse starts July 8th, AFTER the 4th of July holiday weekend!

No-Fail Fitness Bonus Pack: 28-Day Slim Down Summer Detox Bonuses!

I love getting goodie bonuses, don’t you?

Guess what?!

Now when you join my 28-day Slim Down Summer Detox, you’ll get 5 bonus gifts that will ensure your success!

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you join my 28-Day detox,  you’ll get 5 valuable bonus kits to get your fitness, finance and food into shape! 

JJ Virgin:

Burst Training Kit (online download)

Terri Cole:

Meditations for Transformation (online download)

Bex Life & Rebekah Borucki:

7 Day Diet & Fitness Jump Start Program

Sirena Bernal:

28 Day Lean Body Challenge

Belinda Rosenblum:

Your Money Makeover Kit – Heal Your Relationship With Your Money!

Get all this plus my 5 live Q&A classes starting June 29th, for only $99! 

Get in on the detox here!