So I am doing the city to surf tomorrow! For those of you not from Sydney this is an annual 14 km running race that starts from the CBD and ends at Bondi Beach. I am totally unprepared as I signed up only 2 weeks ago and I have never run this far in my life! I am more of a swimmer than runner. The longest distance I have run is 8km and in the past year I have gone for a run probably 5 times, 4 of which were in the last 2 weeks lol! But hey, it has been on my bucket list for years and it just felt like the right time to do it! I’m not in it to win it, just to have some fun. It’s a bit late for tips for tomorrow but if you have any please share as I plan to do the bridge run in September (thankfully this is only 9km). How do you prepare for a relatively long run?
Now you’re probably wondering what has running got to do with chocolate? Well there is one more set back. This week I hurt my calf while running and I still do not seem to be able to run. Jog maybe but not for long. So it looks like I may be walking all the way to Bondi! And no I do not mean I have been drowning my sorrows with chocolate but it has played a role in my attempt at recovery.
So how do you help calf muscles recover? My wonderful trainer at Enliven Fitness gave me some simple yet valuable advice to rectify a calf injury: rest, stretch, heat, hydration and diet. Rest means I have not run but kept it moving with my walks to work. Stretching means I have stretched it out every night and lay my calf on my lacrosse ball to really release the localised pain in my calf muscles. Heat means I have applied heat with hot baths with Epsom salts and deep heat at night. Having a bath before stretching is especially helpful too as it warms the muscles up, allowing for deeper stretches.
My trainer advised that staying Hydrated is also very important which I am doing by drinking 2.5 L of water per day with a pinch of Celtic sea salt to aid absorption and drinking fresh coconut water after training. For my diet I should be increasing my magnesium intake by taking a magnesium supplement but I have run out. I remembered though that cacao is high in magnesium, which upon researching online I found that I was right. So whoopee!!! An excuse to eat chocolate! No seriously while it does sound tempting to eat chocolate every night this is not what I did, as chocolate also contains lots of sugar! Which we all know is not good for you.
The highest level of magnesium is found in raw cacao, however on its own this is very bitter and astringent. So I thought up some simple ways to eat raw cacao but still enjoy it. All of the recipes are gluten, grain and processed sugar-free and if you omit the dairy they are vegan and paleo-friendly too.
Every morning I made a delicious hot cacao drink instead of a coffee. This was great to have with my breakfast or for morning tea and with the coconut milk it is vegan and paleo-friendly. It is so simple too:
Just heat my choice of milk (full fat dairy or coconut milk are my choices) and whisk in 1 tbsp. of raw cacao. Pour it into a milk frother, froth it up or just pour it straight into the your mug. I like it like this but if that’s too bitter, you can sweeten it with cinnamon and/or maple syrup, or honey.
Now through my research I did find that the best combination for magnesium and hydration is coconut and raw cacao, so I also made my coco-berry power smoothie for breakfast, using the cacao variation. With the coconut water this is extremely hydrating and is paleo-friendly too! For a cheeky dessert I made a simple yet delicious raw coconut chocolate mousse. This is a paleo and vegan friendly dessert, so enjoy without the guilt!
See below for recipe:
1 can of coconut milk, refrigerated over night
4 tsp. raw cacao
2 tsp. maple syrup (optional)
Raspberries, mint and/or bananas to serve
Toasted shredded coconut and/or cacao nibs and mint leaves to garnish
1. Take coconut milk out of the fridge and do not shake it. Open the can and scoop the separated coconut cream from the top into a separate jar and pour the remaining liquid into another jar.
2.Measure out 8 tbsp. of the cream into small bowl.
3. Add raw cacao and 1 tbsp. of the coconut liquid to the coconut cream and mix to combine. Add the maple syrup if you are using it (I don’t use it but for some people it is a bit too bitter without it). Add more liquid if the mousse is too dry or more cream if it is too runny.
4. Return to fridge for 1 hour.
5. Serve mousse with fruit and garnish of choice.
Mix some crushed raspberries and lime zest through the mousse.
Drizzle some raw chocolate through the cold mousse that has been in the fridge. Chunks should form throughout the mousse.
I am on day 1 of the 21 day sugar detox today so it is quite ironic that I am posting this recipe. However, I didn’t want to keep it from you any longer as it is a delicious dessert! This may be more suitable for the hot months so if you’re in the northern hemisphere this is for you but it is yummy enough to eat now, even if you’re in the rainy, grey and cold Sydney, Australia like me!
I made this dessert a few months ago because I wanted something sweet that was still full of goodness and vitality. I love a decadent dessert every now and then but I know I often regret it as most desserts are loaded with processed sugar, dairy and/or wheat, which leave me feeling bloated and irritable for a few days afterwards. It is great to be able have a treat that is decadent and delicious but still nourishes your body, which this dessert provides. It is truly heaven on a plate AND it is a 100% clean Paleo treat. No dairy, processed sugar, gluten or grains in this frozen rectangle of deliciousness!
For the mousse:
2 medium sized avocados, flesh removed
1/3 cup raw cacao + 3-4 tbsp. extra to taste
5 fresh medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tsp. natural vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut milk + a little extra if needed.
1 pinch of Celtic sea salt
For the strawberry compote:
1 punnet strawberries
2 tbsp. of water
1 tbsp. of maple syrup
1. Line a metal loaf tin with plastic wrap, using enough to have the plastic hanging over the edges (you will fold these over the top of the mouse latter).
2.Place avocados into a food processor and pulse to puree.
3. Add cacao, dates, vanilla, salt and maple syrup, 1/2 of the coconut milk and pulse on high to combine. Turn it off, taste it and look to see if it needs more coconut milk. Avocado size, your taste and climate all play a part in how much coconut milk is needed. You don’t want it to get too runny or be too thick and dry so use your own judgement if you feel you need more or less of it. You want it to by a light and fluffy mousse like consistency. If it needs more coconut milk, turn on the food processor again and while it is running pour in the remaining coconut milk and any extra if needed. If you like it sweeter adjust the sweetness with extra maple syrup.
4. Pour the mousse into the lined loaf tin and smooth the top down then cover with the excess plastic from the edges to make it an even shape.
5. Place in the freezer for 4 hours or until frozen. Over night is best.
6. Just before serving, place all the ingredients for the strawberries into a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer on low heat. If liquid evaporates add another tbsp. of water. Cook on low heat for 10 minutes until strawberries heated through and you have some syrup at the bottom of the saucepan. Set aside while you prepare the frozen mousse.
7. Take the parfait out of the freezer and turn out of the tin. You may need to pour some warm water on the bottom of the tin to help it come out. Remove the plastic and working quickly slice the frozen mousse into 2 centimetre sized slices. Place one slice per plate and serve topped with strawberry compote and a drizzle of the compote syrup.
If you’re looking for a treat for mother’s day. These hit the spot. Super decadent chocolatey goodness but no processed sugar or lecithin in sight! They are also vegan and Paleo friendly. I have given you the basic recipe which you can use to play around with different flavours or you could just make the almond butter cups (pictured). I have a few other variations that I’m working on, which I will add as I make sure the recipes are blog worthy. Some possibilities are raspberry coconut and cacao rocky road, walnut butter cups, pistachio and mint or just the all time favourite coconut rough! Would love to know if you try any of them or if you make up your own creations! Let me know how you go!
Basic Chocolate Recipe
Makes about 12 mini sized chocolates and 1 portion of chocolate for the other variations.
1/4 cup coconut butter
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup raw cacao
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 – 4 tbsp. coconut nectar
1. Combine raw cacao, vanilla, coconut oil and coconut nectar in a small bowl and mix to combine until no lumps. Add coconut butter and mash together with a fork until forms a paste.
2. Pour mixture into mini or medium silicon/paper cupcake moulds (or if you have them, use chocolate moulds) and place in the fridge for 1 hour or until set.
3. To serve take out of their wrappers/moulds and place on a platter. Nice with a warm chai or coffee or a glass of full bodied red wine.
Almond Butter Cups
1 portion of basic chocolate
3 tbsp. almond butter
1 tbsp. coconut oil
small pinch of Celtic sea salt
1. Divide half of the chocolate mixture between your chosen moulds. Make sure it covers the base adequately. If it is too thin the chocolate may break after it is set. Place in fridge to set.
2. In a small bowl mix almond butter coconut oil and salt together until well combined. Divide between the chocolate filled moulds, to cover the layer of chocolate. This is the middle layer that will be the filling.
2. Pour remaining chocolate mixture over the almond paste and return to the fridge for 1 hour or until set.
More Variations being tested, so watch this space!..
- Apricot and Coconut Bliss Balls (healtherella.wordpress.com)
This dessert is raw, vegan and paleo as it is based predominantly of nuts with no cheese, processed sugar or dairy in sight. The base is made with a combination of nuts and sweet dates to stick them together while the filling is made from cashew nuts blended to create a beautifully smooth paste that takes on the flavours of lime and coconut perfectly. Diets aside though, this is a truly delicious cake that has been boyfriend and kid approved, so you don’t have to save this for those following a diet. Serve it to anyone and I guarantee they will be impressed.
8 medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
2/3 cup walnuts (Activated* are ideal)
1/3 cup almonds (Activated are ideal)
1/4 cup shredded coconut
pinch celtic sea salt
3 cups cashews
3/4 cup coconut nectar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice ( I used 5 but this will vary according to how juicy they are)
3/4 cup coconut oil
2 fresh mangoes, flesh removed (you could also use defrosted frozen mango)
lime juice and coconut nectar, to taste
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1 lime, zest finely grated
1 fresh mango, peeled and flesh thinly sliced
coconut ice cream
1. Grease and line a 25cm round springform cake tin.
2. For the base, place the walnuts, almonds and coconut in the food processor and pulse until resembles the texture of bread crumbs. Add dates and pulse until well combined. Press into the base and place in the freezer while you make the filling.
3. For the filling, wash the food processor and add all the filling ingredients. Pulse at high-speed until smooth and creamy. Pour onto the base layer and spread out evenly. Return to the freezer to set firm enough to pour over the topping.
4. In a blender, blend the mango and add the lime and coconut nectar to taste. You won’t need much so add each in small amounts until you reach the right balance of sweet and tangy. Pour over set filling layer and spread evenly. Sprinkle over the coconut and lime zest and return to freezer to set for at least 4 hours.
5. To serve, remove from freezer to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Use a sharp hot knife to cut slices of the cake. You can heat the knife by placing it under hot running water. Do this between each slice. Serve with fresh mango slices and small scoop of coconut ice cream.
* Activated nuts have been soaked in water over night to activate the digestive inhibitor and then dried out at a very low temperature to retain their nutrients. For this reason they are considered to be more nutritious and easier to digest. You can find them at all good health food stores.
Recipe adapted from www.taste.com.au
- Apricot and Coconut Bliss Balls (healtherella.wordpress.com)
- Vegan Mango, Lime and Coconut Cheeze Cakes (healtherella.wordpress.com)
- Mango Coconut Sorbet (marriedtomeatloaf.com)
- Vegan ‘Cream’ (healtherella.wordpress.com)
- Roasted Strawberry, Coconut and Lime Icy Pops (starttobehealthynow.wordpress.com)
These little cakes are absolutely divine! Being paleo means they are sugar, dairy and grain free so they are also a relatively healthy treat. The ganache` icing is not quite paleo but there is no sugar or dairy added, just what is in the chocolate. The icing compliments the cake so well, I could not use a different one!I cooked this with kids, so it is super simple. They ate it all up too, which means it must also be delicious, as we all know kids can be the toughest and most honest critics. Their parents loved it too making it a winner all round!
You can cut the cake into little baby cakes like I did or if your cooking it for a birthday you might like to keep it as a whole cake.
Since writing this recipe I have created a vegan and paleo version of the ganache`. You can get the recipe here.
Serves 10 small slices.
1/3 cup coconut flour, plus 1-2 tbsp extra if needed
1/4 cup good quality cacao powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp celtic sea salt
1/4 cup coconut oil
Butter or oil for greasing cake tin
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup water
1 batch of sweet potato chocolate ganache`
1 punnet of strawberries, thinly sliced into rounds.
1. Preheat oven to 180 C.
2. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl: coconut flour, cacao powder, baking soda, salt. Set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs with electric beater until pale, light and very fluffy. Try to make them as fluffy as possibly as this will create a light and moist cake but keep an eye on them as you don’t want to them either.
4. Add the oil, maple syrup, water and vanilla extract into the egg and continue to whisk until combined.
5. Gradually pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and stir in gently to combine with a wooden or metal spoon. The batter should not be too runny but still fluffy and thick. You want it to be a batter that can pour out with the help of a spoon and scraper. If it is too runny add a tablespoon of coconut flour and if it is too thick add some more water, 1 tbsp at a time.
6. Pour batter into prepared cake tin and spread it out evenly.
7. Bake for 15-20 minutes in a fan forced oven/20-25 min in a conventional or gas oven or until a skewer come sout clean.
8. Allow to cool in tin for 10 minutes and then on a wire rack until room temperature.
9. Cover cake with ganache`.
10. Cut the edges off each side to make the cake even.
3. Top with strawberries.
4. Cut into small squares or serve as a whole cake with a bowl of creamy coconut ice cream to dollop next to each slice.