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These Savory Tahini Mashed Sweet Potatoes are the Perfect Simple Side Dish

Savory Tahini Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Looking for a healthy and simple side dish to add a little extra nutrition and pizazz to your Thanksgiving menu? These Savory Tahini Mashed Sweet Potatoes are a perfect option.

While it's certainly common to see sweet potatoes on the Thanksgiving table, they're most often served in sweet recipes like casseroles with caramelized marshmallows on top. This recipe taps into a more savory side of sweet potatoes, balancing out their inherent sweetness with creamy raw sesame tahini, coconut oil, Himalayan salt, and a touch of garlic and fresh parsley. It's a very simple recipe with only 6 main ingredients (+ salt and pepper) and it's also vegan and paleo-friendly! Sweet potatoes are naturally packed full of valuable nutrition - they're one of the best sources of beta carotene and potassium in the plant kingdom, not to mention they're loaded with gut-healthy fiber and slow-burning carbs. We think it's safe to say we could all benefit from a few more healthy dishes this time of year. Plus, if your taste buds are not yet familiar with the divine combination that is sweet potatoes + tahini you're in for a real treat. 

Savory Tahini Mashed Sweet Potatoes

The Recipe 

Savory Tahini Mashed Sweet Potatoes
 
Serves 4-5
 
Ingredients

4 small-medium or 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed 
2 Tbs coconut oil (or vegan butter)
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
4 Tbs Dastony raw sesame tahini
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp fine Himalayan salt - or more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
 
Optional for serving: chopped green onion, more parsley, and a drizzle of tahini

Steps

1. Place the peeled, cubed sweet potatoes in a large pot with enough water to cover by about 1″. Add a few dashes of Himalayan salt and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat. 
 
2. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 9-12 minutes, until done. You should be able to slide a fork into the potato easily.

3. Drain well, then place your cooked potatoes in a large mixing bowl with coconut oil (or vegan butter) and raw sesame tahini. Mash with a fork or electric mixer until you reach your desired consistency. Add lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper - mix again. Then add chopped parsley last and stir by hand. Reserve some parsley for a garnish.  

4. Transfer the mashed sweet potatoes to a serving bowl and serve with a sprinkle of extra parsley and/or chopped green onion. Optional: drizzle the top with a little extra tahini. 

Serve promptly. Leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days, and reheated before serving. 

How to Be More Sustainable at Home this Holiday Season

How to Be More Sustainable at Home this Holiday Season

The days are getting shorter, the weather is cooling down here in Chicago, and the holiday season is officially right around the corner. 

While this may be the most wonderful time of the year, you’ve probably noticed that the environment tends to take a hit during the holiday season. In fact, between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, Americans throw away 25% more trash—1 million extra tons of garbage per week—than any other time of year.

Does that mean you should be less celebratory? Of course not. There are ways you can celebrate while still cutting down on waste. To help you get started we asked some of the top sustainability experts for their best advice and they delivered. Here’s how to be more sustainable at home and reduce your environmental footprint this holiday season. 

Deck the halls sustainably 

Forgo buying any new decorations and trimmings that are non-biodegradable. These can include items such as synthetic ribbons, tinsel and foil wrappings, plastic ornaments, and artificial greenery. Use what you already have, and begin using more things that can go to the compost bin instead of the landfill. For example, use craft paper, cotton ribbon or hemp twine, burlap, and fresh foraged greens and berries (we love juniper, holly, or magnolia branches) to decorate your table, tree, and gifts. – Lady Farmer

Making use of what you have. If you need decorations, choose second-hand at your local thrift shops, online, or ask family and friends for any items they don’t use. Decorate the home with foraged plants from the garden or a forest walk, and compost them at home or through a local compost center. – Erin Rhoads, author of Waste Not: Make a big difference by throwing away less.

Fill your home with rosemary plants. They offer a seasonal scent while being “air purifiers” by taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. And, of course, use the herbs in plant-based, environmentally-friendly holiday cooking and beyond – think garlicky rosemary white bean soup, rosemary roasted root veggies, and cranberry-rosemary punch. – Jackie Newgent, RDN, culinary nutritionist and author of The Clean & Simple Diabetes Cookbook

How to be More Sustainable at Home this Holiday Season

Go green with gifting

Purchase house plants or potted succulents for friends and family. These plant friends do double duty not only by bringing some of the natural world inside but they also remove pollutants from indoor air. My personal favorites are Boston Fern, Spider Plant, and Bamboo Palm. Remember, not all houseplants are pet-safe so be sure to double-check before you buy. – Green Willow Homestead

Give experiences instead of things. Unwanted gifts, plastic packaging, wrapping paper, and ribbons contribute an additional million tons of waste to our landfills each week during the holiday season. Most things eventually become trash, but memories last a lifetime. – Protea Zero Waste

Make your experience gift COVID-19 friendly. Since folks may have to spend the holidays away from their friends and family this year for health and safety purposes, we recommend they think outside the (gift) box by finding new ways to show their love. Experience gifts are a popular option for reducing your environmental footprint (because you’re buying less stuff) and can often be done within the safety of one’s own home (COVID-19-friendly). For example, send a hot-sauce making kit to your spice-loving sister, gift your mother a virtual bread-making class or sign your uncle up for a few months of a coffee of the month club. – Kale & Compass

Give a present that truly has meaning and will last. For example, something you made yourself or something that was made by a local artisan. Wrap your gift in reusable cloth, a tradition known in Japan as Furoshiki. The receiver can then use the gift wrapping again next time he or she gives a present to someone else. The circular economy at its best. – My Green Goodiebag

Do not buy useless stuff. Around the Holiday season, people tend to spend so much money on gifts and clothing. Overconsumption is horrible for our environment, as a lot of the items are made from plastic-derived materials and are used as single-use items. Do not buy a gift just for the sake of buying; if you aren’t sure what to get for someone, you can simply ask what they genuinely need or give them an experience gift (you can’t go wrong with those). – Almost Zero Waste

Give gifts from local community makers. Head to a craft fair, handmade market, vintage market, or any small shop and look for treasures as gifts. Try to find gifts that have minimal packaging, are sustainably made, eco-friendly, and/or practical for everyday use. Encourage sustainable living through gifting items that encourage low waste living. Handmade gifts are always special and you can package them very uniquely. – The Cool Hip Mom

Rethink holiday cards. One of my favorite simple ways to be more eco-friendly this holiday season is to send e-cards instead of mailing paper cards. Can you believe the USPS will plan to deliver over 15 billion pieces of mail this Holiday season? Almost 3 billion of those are holiday cards, which wastes enough paper to fill a 10-story tall football field. That is not only a lot of paper, it’s a lot of emissions added to our atmosphere. Rethink the way you send holiday cards by checking out some fun holiday e-cards here. – Kim Lewand Martin

Exchange local or homemade consumables. Create a new tradition by exchanging joy-inducing consumables such as local or homemade goods, beer, wine, etc., rather than gifts or gift cards. This not only supports local businesses and reduces environmental impacts, especially if you do not wrap these items and/or make them yourself, it also boosts holiday cheer while moving the focus away from material possessions. – Unconventional Sustainability

Re-gifting is not just for the white elephant holiday gift game. All of us own items that just no longer work in our home or our lifestyle. Instead of just donating it (which is the important step to take – don’t just toss it in the landfill), perhaps it would make a lovely holiday gift for someone you love. Bonus to include a story with it (how did you receive it and why) – sharing with the recipient why you thought of them and why you are passing it along to them. – Mrs. Green’s World

Be intentional with your holiday gifting. Skip expedited shipping, avoid Amazon, and instead give local consumables like wine, chocolate, or honey made in your community to your loved ones. Similarly, provide your family with a detailed list so you receive what you actually need or, if you don’t need anything, ask loved ones to make a donation to a charity of your choice in your name. – Mama Minimalist

Challenge yourself and give a homemade gift. Depending on the skills and time you have, you can knit cozy socks, bake delicious holiday treats, craft bouquets out of construction paper or old books, or make sweet hand-painted signs from recycled wood. Next, skip the wrapping paper and gift bag purchase and use stuff you already have at home: old newspapers, magazines, get creative, get your family and friends in on the fun, and remind them to recycle it all when you’re done. – Eco Roots

Use household items as gift wrapping this holiday season

Get creative with gift wrap alternatives. Magazines, newspapers, book pages, and tissue paper are great for small items. Use decorative boxes instead of gift bags or just use simple ribbon to tie items together. – Wonderfully Messy Mom

Embrace the Japanese art of Furoshiki, wrapping gifts in cloth instead of paper. Keep it simple with pillowcases, handkerchiefs, reusable bags, baby blankets, cut up old bedsheets, or T-shirts and for an added “wow” factor tie small pine boughs, pine cones, or holly to the gift with twine or ribbon. – Starting Sustainability

Use your yearly calendar as wrapping paper. My favorite way to be more eco-friendly during the holiday season is to re-use my monochrome Stendig Wall Art calendar as wrapping paper. 2020 will be the 4th year of this tradition, gifts are gorgeous and I get to re-use their beautiful paper one last time. I also love wrapping empty boxes in their calendar pages too, it really elevates my decor and is kid-friendly. – The Real Rebekah

How to Be More Sustainable at Home this Holiday Season

Utilize your kitchen to reduce your environmental footprint 

Make one more meal per week plant-based. Embrace root vegetables and beans & lentils to make at least one more meal per week plant-based. Because root vegetables keep well and have often been grown locally, they don’t have the impact of transport nor being greenhouse-grown. Beans and lentils are a great alternative to animal proteins — and replacing even one meat-based meal a week with a plant-based one has been shown to be one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint. – The Apothecary

Opt for organic and sustainably sourced ingredients and foods. The holidays wouldn’t be the same without plenty of tasty comfort food shared with friends and loved ones. Have a healthy, delicious, and eco holiday season this year by loading up your shopping basket with organic and sustainably sourced ingredients and foods. It’s one of the best gifts you can give both your body and the Earth. – Windy City OrganicsRawGuru

Focus on a waste-free kitchen this holiday season. Use natural elements like fruit, pinecones, and greenery for table décor, and bring out the reusable plates, silverware, and napkins. Cook simple and delicious whole foods, have a plan for leftovers and scraps, then compost what’s left. Bonus points if you incorporate plant-based sides and entrees for an even more eco-friendly holiday feast. – No Waste Nutrition

Save your vegetable scraps. You can use them to make a savory, homemade broth for soups, sauces, and stuffing. Bits of onion, carrot, celery, leek, and garlic all work well, but also try mushrooms, tomatoes, and corn cobs. It's a great way to repurpose vegetable trimmings and reduce food waste, and you get a different (and delicious) flavor each time. - Wild Minimalist

Save leftovers. Let your imagination turn them into new fun dishes (or search on Pinterest). Give guests the leftovers in mason jars. If you’re serving a turkey, save the carcass of the turkey breast and use it as a base for making broth the next day, either on the stove or by using a slow cooker. – The Zero Waste Family

Reduce food waste. Every year, 40% of food in the US ends up in landfills. Reducing food waste is a great way to lower your environmental footprint, especially during the cooking-heavy holiday season. From making stock out of veggie scraps to turning fading fruit into jam and baked goods (gift idea, anyone?), small changes in the kitchen can make a big difference in keeping perfectly good fruits and veggies from getting tossed. – Hungry Harvest

Use pasta water to water your plants. You may be cooking up some pasta this holiday season. If so, the water you use to cook your pasta can be used to water your plants and flowers and will help you save water. After cooking the pasta, the water is full of starch which is rich in minerals and vitamins. Your plants will love it. Just make sure that the water is not salted, and has cooled down before. – Easy Eco Tips

Make simple eco-friendly changes around your home

Lower your thermostat and cozy up with a Christmas sweater. Lowering your thermostat by one degree is said to save about 3% on your energy bill (and carbon emissions). Pull out some cozy blankets to layer on the couch the next time you watch TV. – The Sustainable Stylist

Replace common household items with reusable alternatives. We love investing in refillable fountain pens, water bottles with personality, reusable coffee filters, cloth produce bags, glass straws, and elegant storage containers. These easy, sustainable changes are an opportunity to invest in items that last a lifetime, and they make great gifts too. – Prep To Your Door

Create a zero-waste laundry routine. The holidays bring more gatherings and hosting which in turn means more laundry. An easy eco-friendly switch we recommend to your home is creating a zero waste laundry routine by using our eco dryer balls and zero waste laundry strips. Our eco dryer balls reduce drying time and eliminate the need for clothing softener while our zero waste laundry strips replace plastic detergent jugs and clean wonderfully. – Hands Producing Hope

Say goodbye to single-use plastic saran wrap. This beeswax wrap is one of the three easiest swaps to make and it is so versatile. This beeswax-coated canvas forms, molds, and covers just about anything. We use it to cover bowls of leftovers, to wrap around awkwardly-shaped chunks of cheese, to carry around snacks-to-go…it’s limitless! I had this item in my cart for so long before I finally bought it. My only regret—I wish I was using this sooner. Sustainable, so easy, and so versatile – The Foundation Blog

Use eco-conscious foodware. During the holiday season, there is a lot of single-use foodware that piles up. We recommend using as many reusable tableware items but if that isn’t possible, Karmic Seed’s fallen palm leaf plates and bowls are one of the best and most eco-conscious options available. They are made from fallen leaves so no trees are harmed, and once you are done using them they can be tossed into your compost. They are great for our soil, unlike plastic and Styrofoam. The best part is they look very eco-chic for all gatherings. – Karmic Seed

Invest in more sustainable and long-lasting products. While these often carry a higher price tag, their multifunctionality and renewability will actually save you money over time. For example, at holiday gatherings you can swap plastic utensils for your own Bambu reusables, wrap your gifts in a tea cloth or scarf from Tilonia, and when you’re apple-picking for that delicious pie – bring a Frusack compostable produce bag instead of opting for plastic. – Toasting Good

Make your own shampoo and conditioner. Instead of buying bottle after bottle of shampoo and conditioner for your home, start making your own. It’s as easy as baking a cake and reduces the amount of plastic you’ll use throughout the year. Shampoo bars make great gifts as well. – Simple Life Mom

Originally published by Redfin

Satisfy Your Candy Craving with These Salted Raw Keto Chocolate Covered Stuffed Dates

Raw Chocolate Covered Stuffed Dates

We've all been there, those days when that sweet tooth just won't let up. Instead of fighting the cravings with all the will power one can possibly muster, why not replace the not-so-ideal stuff with nutrient-rich, whole food alternatives? 

Such as this recipe right here:

Gooey Medjool dates stuffed with creamy raw cashew butter and crunchy brazil nuts wrapped in a low-sugar, keto-friendly dark chocolate shell. These seriously taste like a candy bar, but they're secretly plant-based and healthy. Use whatever nut butter tickles your fancy. If you're not opposed to peanuts, peanut butter would also be great combined with the cashew butter for an even more Snickers-like effect. Or sub in chopped peanuts for the brazil nuts. It's completely customizable. We used our new Keto raw chocolate Essentials bars to cut down on the overall sugar of this recipe, and because they taste amazing. Instead of actual sugar or stevia which can leave a strange artificial aftertaste, these bars get their natural sweetness from clean, plant-based sugar alternatives: organic yacon root and monk fruit-infused erythritol. You'd never believe they're sugar-free!

This recipe is the perfect example of an easy treat you'll be grateful to have stashed in the fridge during your next sweet-tooth emergency.
 
Raw Chocolate Covered Stuffed Dates  

All you need is:

12 Medjool dates - the larger and gooier the better
2 handfuls of chopped raw brazil nuts (or peanuts!)
1 tsp raw coconut oil
Coarse Himalayan salt or flaked sea salt for sprinkling
 
Instructions
 
1) De-pit your dates and place aside. 
 
2) Take 2 Keto Essentials bars, break them into pieces, and add to a heat-safe bowl with 1 tsp coconut oil. Melt using a double broiler method (a small metal bowl partially submerged in hot water works great)
 
3) Take your pitted dates and stuff them with raw cashew butter and chopped brazil nuts.
 
4) Stick a toothpick through the stuffed date, and roll it around in your melted chocolate until evenly coated, then set aside on a small parchment paper-lined baking sheet, or plate. Sprinkle with flaked salt. 
 
5) Repeat steps until all dates are done, then place in the fridge or freezer until chocolate hardens. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or freezer for a number of months. Enjoy! 
 

Best Houseplants To De-Stress Your Home And Purify The Air

Best Houseplants To De-Stress Your Home And Purify The Air

House plants create a wonderful atmosphere in any room. Not only do indoor plants create a connection with nature that adds to any decor scheme, but certain plants can also purify the air.

With relaxing aromatic scents and scientifically-proven air purification capabilities, these are the best houseplants to de-stress and purify your home.

Pothos

When it comes to choosing an indoor plant, the pothos checks all the boxes. This vining plant is often called Devil's Ivy because of its tenacity and ability to grow without sunlight. This low-maintenance plant thrives on neglect and practically grows itself.

The pothos is also one of the top contenders of NASA's Clean Air Study, proven to remove toxins such as benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, and trichloroethylene from any room. 

Use the pothos for humidity control, air purification, and to create a calming atmosphere in any room of the house.

Lavender

Lavender has long been used in aromatherapy for its positive effects on stress and anxiety. This perennial plant loves the sun, making it perfect for a sunny window. When the blooming period reaches its end, trim back the plant and dry the petals for dried arrangements, potpourri, and DIY projects.

There are various types of lavender, so what grow lavender do you use for indoor pots? Lavandula latifolia, also known as English lavender, is one of the most aromatic breeds. To grow this type of lavender indoors, you'll need a spacious pot that allows for ample root growth.

Chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemums are one of the few flowers that proved to be successful in NASA's Clean Air Study, proving to remove benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, and trichloroethylene from the air.

These low maintenance plants have beautiful blooms that fade away into stunning foliage. Harvest the seeds at the end of the growing season to plant and experience the loveliness all over again. Storing chrysanthemums and getting them to bloom again is challenging for even the most skilled gardeners.

Snake Plant

Snake plants— colloquially known as Mother-in-Law's Tongue— are another top contender of the NASA Clean Air Study. This plant's unique vertical foliage adds texture to any room, creating an eye-catching design piece that invokes a sense of calm.

While this low-maintenance plant looks like a common house plant, it's lady’sa rare type of succulent. As such, it requires minimal watering and care to thrive. The snake plant is a highly-recommended addition to the household in ancient feng shui practices, as it's said to invoke contentment and prosperity.

Lemon Mint

Lemon mint combines two of the most refreshing scents found in nature: citrus and mint. This versatile herb makes a great addition to the kitchen or bedroom, adding a fresh, calming aroma. Lemon mint is hardy and grows well without proper care and maintenance; place it in indirect sunlight and water once per week.

You can also use lemon mint in cooking and cocktails and deter pests that may find their way into your home.

Peace Lily

The peace lily is another floral winner in NASA's Clean Air Study, purifying all of the same toxins as the pothos, chrysanthemums, and snake plant. Unlike many indoor flowers, the peace lily is a low-maintenance plant and drought tolerant. These plants tend to die from overwatering rather than neglect. To avoid this error, wait until the soil is dry before watering or watch for the telltale sign of drooping leaves.

Keep your peace lily looking fresh by wiping down the leaves with a damp cloth to remove dust. When your plant starts to get crowded, transition it to a larger planter. 

Lady Palm

Many palm plants do well indoors, making them a popular choice for home decor. The lady palm has narrow fronds and a visually appealing fan shape that looks great in a floor planter. Like many palms, the lady palm also purifies the air and adds a sense of cleanliness and calm.

This house plant enjoys bright, indirect sunlight and requires a little TLC to thrive. Plant fertilizer pellets once per year and place in an area with a consistent temperature, avoiding drafts and vents.

These fantastic plants create a calm, natural element in any room and often have both aromatherapeutic or purification benefits. Best of all, these low-maintenance options are accessible to everyone.

Guest author bio

Wendy Dessler

Outreach manager

Wendy Dessler is a super-connector who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in digital marketing and focuses her efforts on developing customized blogger outreach plans depending on the industry and competition.

Vibrant Black Bean Noodle Salad with Spicy Sprouted Almond Butter Sauce

Vibrant Black Bean Noodle Salad with Spicy Sprouted Almond Butter Sauce

Do you love noodles, but they don't exactly love you back? Well, don't fret because these days there are plenty of great grain-free alternatives made from protein-rich legumes like black beans, lentils, chickpeas, and soy, opening up a fresh new world whether you avoid gluten or grains for health reasons, or are simply an adventurous foodie who enjoys "going against the grain". 

This recipe uses black bean noodles, which have a nice earthy taste and bouncy, chewy texture despite having zero gluten. Not only are they rich in protein (a whopping 25 grams per serving!) but they are also loaded with gut-healthy fiber and have more iron than their wheat-based counterparts. They also make for quite the striking, dramatic dish when served with other colorful veggies like sweet potato, cilantro, and red bellow pepper-like in this recipe here. 

And since no noodle dish is complete without a tasty sauce to bring it to life, you'll also find here a quick and easy sprouted almond butter sauce made from Dastony Sprouted Almond Butter, toasted sesame oil, garlic, sriracha, and a touch of maple syrup. It's packed with flavor and spice and its creaminess and subtle sweetness help to perfectly flavor balance the black bean noodles, which can taste slightly bitter on their own. This recipe is customizable, so feel free to swap in/out your favorite veggies (butternut squash for sweet potato, remove the bell pepper, toss in some chopped celery or spinach, etc. Sky's the limit!)

Vibrant Black Bean Noodle with Spicy Sprouted Almond Butter Sauce

The Recipe
 
Vibrant Black Bean Noodle Salad with Spicy Sprouted Almond Butter Sauce 

Serves 2
 
Black Bean Noodle Salad
 
Ingredients
 
1/2 box of organic black bean noodles
1 small sweet potato - sliced and roasted, then cubed
1 small red bell pepper, or 1/2 large, chopped
2 stalks green onion, finely chopped
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
 
Spicy Sprouted Almond Butter Sauce
 
Ingredients 

1/2 cup sprouted almond butter
1/2 cup water
1 Tbs lime juice
3 tsp siracha or hot sauce  
1 tsp nama shoyu
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp salt, to taste
2 cloves garlic

Optional: a few pinches of chili flakes or cayenne to amp up the spice
Optional garnish: sesame seeds

Directions
 
1. Wash and slice your sweet potatoes into 1/3" rounds, and bake on an oiled baking sheet at 425 F for 40-45 mins, flipping them over about midway through. Set aside to cool once done.
2. Prep your noodles according to the directions on the package. 
3. Strain and rinse noodles, chop your remaining veggies, and mix everything together in a bowl. 
4. Blend dressing ingredients together until smooth.
5. Serve noodle salad with sauce and ENJOY!  

What is Cacao, And is it the Same as Chocolate?

Cacao vs. Chocolate - what's the actual difference

If you follow along with wellness trends and love to geek out on all things nutrition (like us!) then you’ve likely heard about the health benefits of eating dark chocolate. You may have even heard a health expert or two recommend chocolate with a high percentage of cacao  - say  70-80%. Maybe you’ve wondered what that cacao % actually means. Or maybe you're not quite sure what cacao is to begin with, not to mention why you should be eating it. This blog is for you.

To put it simply, cacao is the base ingredient of all chocolate - without it, your favorite chocolate bar could not exist. But chocolate bars aside, cacao actually has a deep and rich history in ancient pre-hispanic cultures along the Yucatán such as the Olmecs, Maya, and Aztec people. Not only was it consumed as a food source, but it was also used as currency, as medicine, and in sacred ritual. The term “cacao” comes from the Olmec word “ka-ka-w”. Its scientific name is Theobroma cacao, which translates to "food of the gods” in Greek.

So what is cacao exactly?

The cacao tree is a tropical plant native to Central and South America. It produces pods about the size and shape of a football, and inside the pod is fleshy, zesty tasting cacao fruit. Inside of the fruit lies the coveted seeds aka cacao beans. While both the fruit and the seeds are edible and have been enjoyed for centuries, only the seeds are used to create modern chocolate. Once harvested, these “beans” are fermented, dried, ground into a paste, sweetened (or not), and used to create chocolate treats of all kinds. The fermented beans can also be processed into cacao powder, or broken into smaller “nibs”, which are often found online or at health foods stores.

Why should we eat it?

Cacao is a true superfood, containing even more antioxidants than fellow nutritional powerhouses like blueberries, pomegranates, and green tea, not to mention a wealth of trace minerals like magnesium, iron, and calcium. Cacao’s rich supply of flavonoids also makes it an excellent food for cardiovascular health, and the higher the percentage of cacao in the chocolate, the more flavonoids it will have. Cacao also contains unique compounds such as anandamide and phenylethylamine (PEA) which stimulate endorphins and other happy brain chemicals like serotonin. Yes, cacao bliss is a real thing.

How to enjoy cacao

To get the most authentic experience, choosing raw cacao is the best way to go. This ensures you get the most health benefits, and you also get to taste the various flavor complexities and nuances of the cacao bean itself. Enjoy raw cacao in:

Rawmio chocolate treats - no additional prep needed, just enjoy your little taste of raw chocolate bliss! Our unique nib-to-bar stone grinding process helps preserve the unique health benefits and properties of the cacao.  

Raw cacao powder  - use it as you would unsweetened cocoa powder for a less processed, more nutrient-rich option. It works well as a 1:1 sub for cocoa powder in brownies, cookies, or in hot chocolate. Cacao powder can also be used in savory recipes like chili or stews to add extra nutrition and an amazing depth of flavor.  

Raw cacao nibs - sprinkle them on smoothie bowls or any other dish you’d like to add a pop of intensely dark chocolate flavor and crunch. Nibs are simply broken cacao beans and the flavor is deep and fruity with a slightly bitter aftertaste similar to coffee beans.

Cacao butter - this is the pure oil expressed from cacao beans. It is wonderfully aromatic and sweet-smelling. This luscious butter is responsible for chocolate’s signature melt-in-the-mouth texture. This is a great ingredient to have on hand if you want to channel your inner chocolatier and make authentic chocolate right at home.

A Guilt-Free Cheesecake that's Good for your Gut!

Vegan Mixed Berry Probiotic Cheesecake Bars

Yes, these vegan cheesecake bars are both delicious and beautiful. They're also vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, (almost) raw, and are completely free of refined sugar. But the benefits don't end there. They also contain billions of probiotics and prebiotics to boost digestion and your immune system. Wait just a minute - a cheesecake that's guilt-free, nutrient-rich, and good for your gut!? You bet!

These bars are packed with nutrient-rich ingredients like raw walnuts and cashews, coconut butter, dates, and berries to energize your body and give you a sweet tooth fix without a blood sugar crash or sugar coma. Adding a teaspoon of Sunbiotics vanilla probiotics to the cake filling means each bar will contain billions of probiotics (1/3 a tsp has 20 billion CFU's!) without changing the flavor of your recipe at all.

Each bite is smooth, dense, and creamy - just like a cheesecake should be. The swirls of sweet mixed berry puree perfectly compliment the zestiness of the lemon and sweet vanilla in the filling. And no baking is required. If you're a raw dessert fan or love cheesecake in general, this is a must-try!

Vegan Mixed Berry Probiotic Cheesecake Bars

The Recipe

Mixed Berry Probiotic Cheesecake Bars

Makes 1, 8 x 8" square baking pan (6 cheesecake bars)

Ingredients

Cheesecake filling

1.5 cups raw cashews, soaked
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk  
1/2 cup Dastony stone ground raw coconut butter
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 lemon, juiced
1 heaping tsp fresh lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 pinches Himalayan crystal salt
1 tsp Sunbiotics vanilla probiotic powder

Berry layer

1.5 cup frozen mixed berries
1 Tbs maple syrup

Crust

1.75 cups almond flour
1 cup raw coconut flakes
3/4 cup Dates
1/2 cup raw walnuts
1 Tbs Dastony stone ground raw almond butter
1 tsp melted coconut oil
2 pinch Himalayan crystal salt

Steps

Line an 8×8 inch tin with parchment paper or cling film.

1. Crust Prep the base by blending all the ingredients together in a food processor until it creates a crumbly, sticky texture. Test it by pressing it together with your fingers. It should bind but not be too wet. If it's too crumbly you can add a tiny splash of water.

2. Press the mixture into the bottom of the tin - make sure it's even.

Filling

1. Place all cheesecake filling ingredients in blender except lemon zest. Blend until smooth and creamy - this may take a full minute to fully blend. The smoother you can get it, the more authentic it will be in texture. Then add zest and blend again briefly. 

2. Pour the cheesecake filling on top of the base mixture and smooth with the back of a spoon.

3. Place frozen berries in pan and place on the stove on low heat. Add maple syrup and let it simmer for just a minute or so. You don't want it to become overcooked as it will lose too much of its water. If you're using fresh berries you can also add those to a blender with the maple syrup and simply blend until smooth.

4. Pour berry mixture over filling, and using a knife or a chopstick swirl the puree around.

5. Cover the tin with foil or cling film and leave to set in the fridge for at least 6 hours, or freezer for at least 2 hours before serving. Can be stored in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for months and thawed before serving. 

7 Superfood Upgrades to Pack Your Meals with Flavor and Nutrition

7 Superfood Upgrades to Pack Your Meals with Flavor and Nutrition

When it comes to creating flavorful, delicious meals that are also bursting with nutrition, it’s all about making easy upgrades without any sacrifice. It turns out you can embrace simple, clean eating without having to settle for bland food that leaves you feeling unsatisfied. By incorporating these different ultra-healthy add-ons you can both enhance the flavor of your dishes while simultaneously upgrading their nutritional value and health benefits. These ingredients also happen to help support the body in a myriad of different ways - they can help boost alkalinity, decrease inflammation, increase energy levels, support healthy digestion, and aid in detoxification.

1. Fermented Foods

The gut is more than just the core of our body, it is also the core of our immune system. One of the main ways we can build up a strong immune system is by incorporating fermented and probiotic-rich foods into our daily diet. Things like cultured coconut yogurt, sauerkraut and kimchi, tempeh, natto, miso, and raw apple cider vinegar are all foods that can be incorporated right into your recipes and meals to add a boost of healthy flora. You can also try blending an organic probiotic powder like Sunbiotics into things like smoothies or protein shakes for extra beneficial bacteria for your gut. Your digestion and immune system will thank you.

2. Fresh Sprouts

An easy way to boost your overall vitamin, mineral, and phytonutrient intake is to eat sprouts on a regular basis. They are bursting with life energy! These can be alfalfa, broccoli, sunflower, lentil, or any other sprouts of your choice. You can find them at the health food store, or learn to grow them easily right at home. They’re a rich source of enzymes to help support more complete digestion, and they also contain plenty of potent plant nutrients and compounds that help protect our cells and ward off disease. They’re also a great source of easily digestible plant protein! Toss them on salads, soups, add them to sandwiches, or just munch on a handful as a snack.

3. Unrefined Coconut Oil

The human body needs healthy fats to thrive, and while fat is pretty easy to come by, the type of fat and overall quality is paramount. Unrefined coconut oil is a pantry must-have because it’s full of health benefits and is very stable cooking oil, which can’t be said for most vegetable oils. It is less likely to oxidize or go rancid when heated. It has a smoke point of around 280-365°, and can even be used to saute or roast vegetables. Coconut oil is also a great source of medium-chain triglycerides which have been shown to help boost metabolism, aid in energy production, and help keep blood sugar levels stable.

4. Himalayan Pink Salt

One of the easiest ways to add extra trace minerals to your diet is by swapping out common table salt for a pink Himalayan salt (or another high-quality sea salt like Celtic salt). While both table salt and Himalayan salt are comprised of mostly one element - sodium chloride - Himalayan salt contains up to 84 additional minerals and trace elements - making it a far superior choice. This can be very helpful in balancing electrolyte levels, especially in hot climates or after exercise.

5. Seaweeds

Speaking of mineral salts, seaweeds such as nori, pulse, kelp, dulse, arame, wakame, and kombu are all excellent sources of minerals, including iodine which can help protect the thyroid and may help stimulate weight loss. The mineral salts found in sea salt help build the blood and alkalinize the body. Sea veggies are also very cleansing and have been shown to help rid the body of heavy metals, toxins, and radiation. Try using nori as a wrap with brown rice or quinoa, roasted vegetables, and a yummy tahini sauce, or sprinkle some dulse flakes over your salad, soups, or avocado toast.

6. Fresh Herbs

There’s nothing quite like fresh herbs when it comes to adding flavor to food, yet it’s also easy to walk right past them on the produce rack, while you load up on more staple vegetables like broccoli, carrots, and zucchini. Don’t forget to include on your shopping list cilantro, parsley, chives, basil, and mint - add them to salads or find other creative ways to utilize them as garnishes to your existing meals. They contain plenty of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, chlorophyll, and plant compounds that help boost the immune system.

7. Fresh Spices

If you tend to rely on powdered spices to flavor your food, try subbing some of those for the fresh stuff. Instead of dried ginger or turmeric, try using the fresh roots. They can be finely minced and used in recipes, juiced, or steeped to make fresh tea. You will get even more of the plant’s health benefits because the nutrients haven’t been degraded by heat and oxidation. That’s not to say dried spices are bad. There’s plenty of benefits to using things like dried cayenne which helps boost digestion and has antibacterial properties, and cinnamon which has been shown to help balance blood sugar levels.