Pretty Holiday Hummus: Beet It Up with Beet Hummus

Holiday food should be pretty. So this dish rocks.

Especially if you’ve discovered that you have to cut out a ton of foods to get or stay healthy.

We just discovered that our family has to avoid gluten + eggs + soy (me and the boy), whey from milk (me), and corn (the kid).

So, yeah. That’s a lot of ingredients we’ll be avoiding!

BUT, I always loved a good challenge, especially in the kitchen.

AND, one way to ensure optimism + resilience is to look at the cupboard as half full, and expect the best, rather than getting depressed + overwhelmed by saying goodbye to certain ingredients.

I’m putting on my big girl panties, looking on the bright side, and putting all my energy into making delicious, nourishing foods that everyone can enjoy at the table.

One of the first places to start is with super easy, super tasty, no-fail recipes:

…like hummus.

Ok, so most hummus is already gluten-dairy-soy-corn-free, but when I saw a picture of this gorgeous dip, I couldn’t resist making it in hopes of livening up the impending Christmas table.

Ruby Red Beet Hummus

  • medium beet (1 cooked a whole bunch at once to have for later)
  • 15-ounce BPA-FREE can (1 3/4 cup) of garbanzao beans, drained
  • clove garlic
  • 1 tiny pinch cayenne
  • dash paprika
  • 2tablespoons lemon juice
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste

How to make the best hummus ever:

First, roast the beets: Preheat oven to 400F. Clean, scrub, and cut off the stems and root end. Loosely wrap individually in foil, place on a roasting pan. Roast for 50-60 min. They’re ready when a knife can be easily inserted.

(might as well wrap a head of garlic and roast that, too – I mean, who can ever get enough roasted garlic?)

roasted beets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While you’re waiting, take a nap or watch Gilmore Girls on Netflix.

beets now

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the beets are done, slip the outer peel off. Your hands will get red, but you’ll look pretty bad a$$.

Combine all ingredients into a food processor. Add water or additional olive oil until desired consistency. You want this to be creamy + smooth.

beet hummus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add salt and pepper, about 1/2 teaspoon at a time.
Serve with gluten-free crackers, yo! Or just eat it with a spoon, like I did.

This is a great cooling recipe for Firebrand cravings types if you add a 1/2 teaspoon of cumin, a traditional hummus ingredient (AKA Pitta in Ayurveda). The cooked beet is good for Featherweight cravings types, and this recipe is great for Earth Mamas, but go light on the added drizzle of olive oil.

Don’t know your Cravings Type? Take my quiz and get your free Cravings Type Report here:

Happy Holidays, all! Eat to be happy + healthy…xo, Alex

Positivity + Pumpkin Soup – a recipe for happiness

Feeling good…

not just about yourself, but about the world and people around you and how you feel in your body - isn’t that the big goal?

That’s why I love to cook, especially for other people, and that’s why I’ve been studying positive psychology.

It’s all about what helps us flourish – not just feel “fine.”

What I’ve learned so far may not seem totally earth shaking to you, but it has made me think hard about what I do with my time, and why.

And it’s all coming down to one thing:

Other People Matter.

Happiness and contentment aren’t about how much money you make. In fact, after our basic needs are covered (in the USofA, that’s about $50-60K a year), we don’t feel a lot happier when we make more money. We just think more money, more stuff, or having the right stuff will make us feel better about ourselves.

The one thing that makes us happy, if you’re rich or poor?

Having strong, connected relationships. Having people you can share your wins and your troubles with.

In short: we crave connection. We crave being with other people who love us. It’s a basic human need.

Well, one of my favorite things to do with other people is share good, delicious, healthy food. Making it together, talking while we cook, planning the meal, and savoring the delicious aromas and flavors – that is jus what life is all about.

So I want to share my new favorite recipe with you – a pumpkin soup, baked right in the pumpkin.

Pumpkins are wonderfully round, sweet, and immediately make me feel cozy.

They’re also super healthy! The health benefits of pumpkins or winter squash are long:

Considered an energetic tonic and a warming food, pumpkins and winter squash are medicinal for the spleen, stomach, large intestines and lungs. It improves energy and blood circulation, and is high in beta-carotene, which is good for eye health. Rich in vitamins A, C and potassium + magnesium, pumpkins are high in carotenoids and have anti-carcinogenic properties.

So this recipe is healthy, easy, fun to make, and really fun to eat with someone you love. Go be happy, love.

Pumpkin Soup Baked In A Pumpkin

For this pumpkin soup recipe, you’ll need:

1 pumpkin (edible and sweet)

2-3 tablespoons grass-fed butter, olive oil or coconut oil

1 yellow onion

2-3 cups stock or broth (vegan, chicken, etc)

salt and pepper
pumpkin

The pumpkin I was growing in my back yard was carried off by what I can only assume was a whole gang of New York City squirrels – so I had to buy one from the local farmers’ market.

I chose a 3 lb. “Sugar Pie,” which is sweeter than the standard carving pumpkin you see around Halloween. Preheat the oven to 350F.

cut pumpkin

Carve the top of the pumpkin just like you would for a jack-o-lantern. Scoop out the seeds and stringy guts, and save the seeds to salt and bake later.

Do not leave the pumpkin seeds baking for too long while you talk on the phone to a friend like I did. Please set a timer.

buttered pumpkin

Use 1-2 Tablespoons real butter, ghee, or coconut oil to coat the inside and outside of the pumpkin. Scatter a couple pinches of salt around the inside, and don’t forget the bottom of the pumpkin lid!

onions

 

Chop a yellow onion into large dice.

You could do this step first, and carve the pumpkin while the onions are cooking to save time.

cook onions

Brown the onions over medium heat for 8-10 minutes with 1 Tablespoon butter, ghee or coconut oil.

fill pumpkin onions

Fill the pumpkin with cooked onions.

 

fill pumpkin stock

Pour home made vegetable or chicken broth (or stock) over the onions, filling up the pumpkin to about 1-inch from the top.

If the broth is unsalted, add 1/2 teaspoon salt and stir well.

top pumpkin

Place the pumpkin lid back on, and place the entire pumpkin into the oven.

Bake for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, checking to test for doneness. You’ll want the inside of the pumpkin to be spoon-ably soft.


baked pumpkin

 

Remove from the oven and gently remove the top.

Use a towel to grasp the stem, as the pumpkin will emit hot steam when you open it. Have your spoons at the ready…

spoonable pumpkin

 

Eat that soup straight from the pumpkin!

I like placing it on the table amongst the family and allowing everyone to take a spoonful from the pumpkin before scooping servings out to individual bowls.

There’s just something really fun about eating soup directly from a pumpkin.

Make sure that everyone gets a bowl-full of stock, onions and cooked chunks of sweet pumpkin.

Enjoy!

How To Make Eggshell Calcium for PMS at home

How to make Eggshell Calcium: Cheap Calcium Supplement = PMS sugar craving reducer?

PMS make you crave chocolate and sugar?

What if you could ease your PMS with something you probably throw away every day?

How To Make Eggshell Calcium for PMS at home

I love discovering new ways to use what I already have, especially when it means finding a use for something I would normally throw out.

Like any good hippie I’ve been composting my eggshells for years, knowing that returning the minerals from the shells to my potted plants nourishes the soil.

But wait – why don’t I use the rich calcium from those same shells for my bones and health?

Several studies show that “chicken eggshell calcium is a useful way to enrich human bone strength.”

But the more I looked into the benefits of calcium on our health, the more excited I got. It seems that calcium mal-absorption and osteoporosis are at epidemic levels, as is our addiction to sugar.

And since sugar’s high acidity actually causes our body to leach calcium from our bones to balance our blood pH levels, it’s even more important that we get enough calcium, and stop draining it with poor diet choices, to protect our bones.

How can we protect our bones and naturally reduce our sugar cravings?

1,000-1,500  mg of calcium a day can help reduce and even eliminate many symptoms of PMS, including “hypocalcemia,” a hormone-induced state that makes it harder for our female bodies to absorb calcium.

Estrogen, the chief female sex hormone, can lower the absorption of calcium from the intestines by inhibiting the activities of the parathyroid hormone. Which means we need even more calcium, and balanced hormones during our cycle to help our body get the calcium we need.

And I’ve just discovered that eggshell calcium, that is calcium made from powdered egg shells, are a wonderful source of the mineral to answer this problem.

Since eggs are so cheap (get it “cheep”) using your otherwise discarded eggshells as a calcium supplement seems like a great way to help keep your bones strong and your PMS symptoms (including cravings) low.

In addition to making strong bones and teeth, calcium is critical in the release of neurotransmitters, chemicals that serve as messengers between cells within the nervous system, which means when you have enough calcium in your body, your brain and moods are healthier!

1/2 teaspoon of chicken eggshell calcium contains roughly 90% of your daily recommended calcium intake, or 1,000-1,500 mg.

And since most dairy products have an acidic effect on the body, and just can’t be digested by most adult humans, getting enough calcium from cheese isn’t possible.

Yes, greens like kale and bok choy are good sources of calcium too, but many of us are walking around without sufficient calcium stores in our bones, and it’s high time we did something about it.

Here’s a safe, easy way to make your own eggshell calcium at home:

IMG_9139

Wash your eggs before cracking them for normal use, and save the shells until you have 1 dozen empty shells.

IMG_9140

Place the shells in a pot with enough water to cover and place over high heat.

IMG_9145

Boil the eggshells for 10 minutes to kill any bacteria. This is very important to eliminate any salmonella.

IMG_9147

Drain the eggshells in a fine meshed strainer or colander.

IMG_9148

Place strained eggshells on a cookie sheet and bake at 200F for at least 30 minutes to dry completely.

IMG_9152

Place the dried shells in a clean coffee or spice grinder and pulverize to a powder.

IMG_9155

 

Keep your new eggshell calcium in an airtight jar and take 1/2 to 1 teaspoon a day for 1,000-1,500 mg of easily absorbable and cheap calcium.

I tried adding the powdered calcium to my Green & Clean Protein smoothies at breakfast, but it made it more a CRUNCHY than a SMOOTHIE.

So I recommend just adding the 1/2 – 1 teaspoon to 1/2 cup of water and slurping it down. Easy!

Resilience is your ability to adapt to and handle stress and adversity. When you feel resilient, you own your confidence.

 

It’s the bones of your life and character that keep you upright and alive.

It’s the skills and mindset that keep you moving positively forward, with hope and a sense of humor, gosh darnit.

 

There are 4 factors which develop and sustain your resilience:

  1. You know how to make realistic plans and are capable of taking the steps to follow through on them
  2. A positive self-concept and confidence in your abilities
  3. Communication and problem-solving skills
  4. The ability to manage strong impulses and feelings

 

These are the mental steps you can take to feel your strength and abilities every day.

 

But what about your body?

How strong do you feel in your physical self?

How are your bones doing, holding up your frame and moving you boldly through life?
We don’t just need confidence, we need calcium.

Chicken Eggshell Calcium Study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23607686

The Cravings Whisperer | Alexandria Jamieson

New Podcast – The Crave Cast: Cravings Whisperer and Women, Food & Desire

 

I’m SO psyched. iTunes released my new podcast show today!

It’s called the Crave Cast: Cravings Whisperer and Women, Food & Desire

Alex and the Crave Cast - Cravings Whisperer 2

I’ll be sharing my best stuff on cravings, health, nutrition, gut health, body confidence, the beauty of our desires, where they come from, and what they really mean. I’ve got a killer line up of expert interviews to share as well.

 

I’ve heard from lots of you that you want to know about sleep, sugar, and gut health, so I’m covering all those in the next couple of weeks!

Please click the link below here to subscribe for free and help me get this great show out into the ears of more people who need this support!

 

First, click here: http://alexandrajamieson.com/itunes

first step itunes

 

 

Then, click “View in iTunes”

Once iTunes opens, click the next blue button that says SUBSCRIBE and you’re all set!

crave cast image

Gluten-Free Summer Crepes with Berries: July 4th Dessert Recipe

The perfect July 4th brunch for every cravings type!

IMG_7968-225x300

Gluten-Free Crepe Recipe for Summer – every cravings type can enjoy!

Eating right for your type

is helpful for keeping your energy, focus on health on track. But what if you have a couple of friends coming over, or there are two types in your house living under the same roof?


(Take the Cravings Type Quiz here to find out your type!) 

Luckily, I’ve learned how to adjust one recipe for all the types – and this summer crepe recipe is great for everyone with a couple of minor changes depending on who’s coming to brunch! Not only is it gluten-free, but you can easily make these crepes dairy-free by using coconut cream (you know, the thick stuff at the top of the can?) instead of whipped cream.
 
With cooling summer berries, these crepes use high-protein amaranth and quinoa flour, which help the light-headed featherweight feel grounded and strong.

Firebrands and Featherweights can choose between organic whipped cream or coconut cream as a topping, while Earth Mama types should avoid the topping and just enjoy the crepe and fruit as too much dairy and coconut can make an Earth Mama (or Papa) feel heavy and muddy.

 

Gluten-Free Crepes with Summer Berries

Serves 4

For the crepes:

1 cup quinoa flour
2/3 cup amaranth flour
3 tablespoons brown rice flour
1 cup water
1 ½ cup unsweetened coconut or almond milk
1 teaspoon maple syrup
Ghee (clarified butter) or coconut oil for cooking the crepes

For the filling:

2 cups mixed organic berries
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Topping:

1 cup organic whipped cream or unsweetened coconut cream

Directions:

  1. Combine the flours in a blender with the water, milk and maple syrup. Blend until smooth and creamy. Pour into a mixing bowl and allow to sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes.
  2. While the crepe batter is resting, prepare the fruit. Wash and dry the berries and toss with remaining maple syrup and cinnamon. Allow to marinate at room temperature.
  3. Heat 2 teaspoons ghee or coconut oil on a crepe pan or other non-toxic non-stick pan over medium heat. Stir the batter and ladle a scoop into the middle of the pan. Spread out the batter thinly in a circle. Cook the crepe until the bottom has browned, about 2 minutes.
  4. Flip the crepe and cook until the other side is browned, about 1 to 2 minutes more.
  5. Remove the crepe from the pan and place on a plate or clean baking dish and cover with a lid to allow it to cool, but not lose too much moisture.
  6. Keep making crepes until all the batter is gone.
  7. Serve each crepe with a scoop of berries in the middle, and roll it up around them. Top with whipped cream or coconut cream and a nice little sprig of mint, if it’s handy.

Summer Soups for your Cravings Types

We all know we’re supposed to eat more veggies – but the call of creamy, fatty dairy may be stronger than the whisper of greens!

If you know dairy doesn’t help you feel light, makes you congested, or worsens your adult acne, but you still crave the creamy texture, and want to up your fiber and phyto-nutrient intake, try my new summer soup recipes!

I’ve created them especially for the different Cravings Types (read: Ayurvedic doshas) – and if you don’t know your type yet, take the quiz here and find out if you’re a Featherweight, Firebrand or Earth mama/Earth papa!

Slurp up your soups!

 

Avocado Soup with Cucumber: Serves 2

Firebrand and Featherweight Approved

(not good for Earth Mama/Papa – too heavy with the oils and avocado)

 

Gluten-free Dairy-free creamy Curry Carrot & Avocado Soup!

Gluten-free Dairy-free creamy Curry Carrot & Avocado Soup!



Light and fresh, this summer soup is easy and requires no cooking – no hot stoves for those summer meals! Featherweights can add freshly ground black pepper to warm them up from the inside. Firebrands can chill in the refrigerator while resting the soup after the first blending. This soup has too much oil in it for heavy feeling Earth Mamas and Papas. Find your Cravings type here!

 YOU’LL NEED: 

1 tablespoon organic, cold-pressed olive oil

1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted

1 cup fresh carrot juice

1 cup water

½ cup cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped

½ teaspoon cumin seeds

½ teaspoon ground corander

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

1 tablespoon fresh fennel leaves

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice, about ½ an orange

½ teaspoon sea salt

¼ cup freshly grated zucchini

 

  1. Combine all ingredients, except zucchini, in a blender. Blend until smooth. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.
  2. Blend once more for 15 seconds, pour into bowls and top with grated zucchini.

 

 

Summer Pea & Zucchini Soup: Serves 2

Good for all 3 types, especially

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Creamed Minty Pea & Zucchini Soup: Gluten-free and Dairy-free soups for summer!


Fresh peas are vibrant and flavorful. This creamy green soup really delivers satisfying slurps for the heavy-feeling Earth Mama or Earth Papa. Firebrands will love this too, just allow it to cool to room temperature before serving. Featherweights can enjoy with a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper! (Don’t know your Craving Type yet? Take the quick quiz here! www.cravingsquiz.com)

 YOU’LL NEED

2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock

1 tablespoon chickpea flour (thickener)

½ cup zucchini, sliced

1 cup freshly shelled peas

2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon salt

 

  1. Add 1-cup stock to a small mixing bowl. Whisk in the chickpea flour. Set aside.
  2. Combine the remaining stock, zucchini, peas and mint in the saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Whisk in the chickpea mixture. Simmer for 5 minutes more. Simmering the chickpea flour thickens the soup and removes the bitter flavor from the flour.
  3. Ladle into a blender and blend with salt and lemon juice until smooth.
  4. Featherweights can add a drizzle of olive oil and freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

 Like these soups? 

In the comments below, I’d love to know what you thought of the recipes, and what other ideas you have for us!

(P.S. these recipes are just an example of what you’ll enjoy in my upcoming Cravings Cleanse 8-week program – can’t wait to share it!!) 

Why I care about resilience & you should too (and how to grow it)

Ever go through one of those stretches of time when life seems to be giving you about as much as you can possibly handle, if not more?

 

Yeah, me too.

 

This has been a roller coaster of a year for me, and I’ve been hearing from some of you that your lives have felt out-of-control or more than you can handle.

 

Often it feels like it comes all at once.

 

Just to give you some details:

 

-       I got my next book deal from a major publisher (good)

-       My mom got diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer (bad)

-       My partner published his own book (good)

-       My son was diagnosed with extreme dyslexia (bad)

-       My mom died (horrible)

-       My dear friend and mentor got diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer (WTF? Horrible)

-       My son learned to swim and ride a bike (amazing)

-       My friend died from cancer, and two more friends were diagnosed (tears & breakdown)

 

So, yes. Life is a roller coaster, and the ups and downs, “awful” and “awesome” are unknowable and unpredictable.

 

The truth is, we can’t control a lot of what happens in life, yet we do have the power to react to it in ways that move us forward, strengthen us, and bring us closer to those we love.

 

I know that resilience, the ability to bend without breaking, to stay strong and make it through the storm even though the winds toss your hair and make you feel scared, is a skill you can learn, a strength you can practice.

 

To grow and protect your well-being, you need the ability to bounce back.

To get through trauma and drama without breaking, you need to practice.

To live through major challenges and thrive, not just survive, requires health, support, community, and hope.

 

And it isn’t just something you need for major tests in life, we need resilience to get through every day.

 

If you’re in stress mode all day long, it depletes your willpower, hope, and  patience. Multi-tasking, social media addiction, sugar binges, and a lack of relaxing, pleasurable movement keep us far from resilient.

 

And when we don’t feed our bodies and support our health with the foods we need, our capacity for resilience is diminished.

 

That’s why I teach my clients about skilled resilience:

 

The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties (toughness), while performing well with training, experience and knowledge.

 

Skilled resilience means eating the right foods (most of the time), moving my body so she stays strong and flexible, finding pleasure and joy every day, staying connected with the friends and family who support me, staying open to the wonders in life that keep me hopeful and excited to be alive.

 

I couldn’t have weathered this storm of grief in the last year without the skilled resilience I’ve learned and honed over the past decade.

 

And my clients tell me that the training they learn through my cleanse programs gives them the experience and knowledge to give their bodies exactly what they need to maintain their center, their balance, their truth.

 

My client Sandi experienced a rough patch and needed support to get back to feeling good in her body:

 

-       her dad died

-       her boyfriend left

-       her job got super stressful

-       her commute got longer

-       she wanted sugar, fat and salt all day long and was feeling exhausted and impatient

 

When I started working with Sandi, we started with the most important guiding question I can ask anyone:

 

How do you want to feel?

 

Once we defined that Sandi wanted to feel calm, free, and strong, we were able to look at her food choices in a new way. It wasn’t about “eat this – it has fewer calories” – she could look at a menu and choose a food because it would help her feel calm, free and strong. Once she understood her cravings type, she could make the perfect food choices based on how she was feeling and how she wanted to feel later.

 

This was a totally new way of choosing food, and it began her on her journey to a body she loves, with energy to spare.

 

Learning to tune into her body’s needs, her soul-filled desires for calm and strength, allowed Sandi to listen to her body in a new way.

 

This is one of the most powerful aspects of skilled resilience.

 

It’s a practice of awareness, a daily inquiry into what will help you feel the way you want to feel, while honoring what’s true without judging what you see.

 

It may seem simple, but it isn’t always easy.

 

In the coming weeks I’ll be talking more about cravings, what they can teach you, and how to develop your own resiliency with grace and strength.

 

I’ll also be announcing my next group program soon (It’s called the Cravings Cleanse) – and it will draw together all of my best lessons, experiments, tools, resources, and community to help you act and move towards building your own resiliency with grace and strength.

 

I want to hear from you: In the comments below, tell me what skills you know you already have that help you stay resilient. You may not have thought you had the tools, but I’ll bet if you really look, you could tell a tale of how you’ve weathered storms and come out stronger in the end.

You could also share what ONE thing you know you could be doing differently to help grow your resilience:

 

 

How To End Stomach Bloat For Good

Tired of the gurgle and bloat?
The constipation followed by diarrhea?
The muffin top?

Join the club! Tummy troubles are at the top of my list, too – at least they were until I got a handle on
healing my gut and understanding which foods helped me feel good…

and which ones made me dig out the stretchy yoga pants.

Watch my video below to learn my top tips on ending stomach bloat —

and let me know in the comments if you discovered a new trick to try,

or share it with a friend who needs some support for their gut!

xo,
Alex

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

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.