11 December 2009

Nature's Prozac: Hot Chocolate In The Raw

Oh baby, it's cold outside. Didn't break 20 degrees here today. And with the wind chill factored in, well, let's not even go there.

Cutest thing I heard this week: Aimee (aka A Bitt of Raw) said it was so cold in Seattle, she turned on her self-cleaning oven to warm up the house. That's one way for a raw foodist to make use of her oven! Usually, the only time it gets turned on is when making dog biscuits. Her poor pooches gathered round, thinking they were getting homemade treats. No such luck.

My fur kid and I went hiking in this frigid weather today. Crazy? Yes, but you'll recall that I have a Siberian husky and she's over the moon when the temperature drops like this. Me, not so much. Once home, I threw another log on the fire and immediately set to work on warming my innards.

Hot Chocolate In The Raw

A raw cacao bean contains over 300 identifiable chemical compounds, making it one of the most  complex food substances on Earth. Here's just a small sampling of the goodies:
  • Anandamide, a neurotransmitter known as "the bliss chemical"
  • Arginine, nature's aphrodisiac
  • Magnesium for healthy heart function
  • Serotonin, anti-stress neurotransmitter
  • Tryptophan, anti-depressant amino acid
  • Phenylethylamine, controls the ability to focus attention and stay alert
  • Polyphenols, antioxidants
Suffer from seasonal affective disorder, or the winter blues? Start drinking your Hot Chocolate, in the raw!

4 C almond milk*
4 ounces raw cacao beans
1/2 C raw honey
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
1/4 tsp nutmeg


*Instructables: How to Milk an Almond

Blend ingredients on high speed until smooth and creamy. If you have a high-powered blender, you can continue blending until the mixture begins to heat up. Or, you can warm your hot chocolate using one of the methods I mentioned here — either using a double boiler or a mason jar submerged in hot water.

Pour into your favorite (pre-warmed) mug and enjoy! Wanna really warm your tum-tum? Make like a Mayan and sprinkle in a wee bit of cayenne pepper before serving. Fire down below!

How 'bout a little somethin' somethin' to go with your hot chocolate? You might sample my Holiday Sugar Plums or nosh on these beauties.


Thumbprint Cookies
Yields two dozen cookies

Dough:
1 medium zucchini, peeled and chopped
2 C almond meal
1/4 C raw honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 C raw nuts, finely chopped


Filling:
1/2 C raspberries (thawed, frozen raspberries can be used)
1/4 C raw honey


To make the dough: In a food processor, blend zucchini until pureed. Add almond meal and pulse until mixed. Transfer into a large bowl, add the honey, vanilla, cinnamon, orange zest, salt and mix well by hand. Chill dough in freezer for 20-30 minutes.

Shape into small balls by rolling between the palms of your hands. Roll each ball in chopped nuts and place on a dehydrator tray lined with a ParaFlexx sheet. Using your thumb, make an indentation into the center of each ball.

Dehydrate at 105 degrees for about 4 hours. Remove the ParaFlexx sheet. Dehydrate another 2-3 hours. Climate, temperature and humidity all affect dehydrating time. The cookies should be crispy on the outside and still moist inside.

To make the filling: Blend together raspberries and honey to make a jam. Fill the center of each cookie as it comes out of the dehydrator.


What do you have planned for this winter weekend? Snuggle up to someone you love and stay warm!



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