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Chocolate Therapy

cacao

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:

hot cacao

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:

 mousse

Serves 2

Ingredients
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

Method

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.

Variations

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.

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Coco-Berry Power Smoothie

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Do you like smoothies? I love them because they are a quick and delicious way to eat a nutritious breakfast. However you are much better off making them at home as the smoothies you buy from certain chains use sorbet and fat-free yoghurt that are full of sugar and most likely preservatives too.

Making smoothies at home is quick and easy and the ingredients are fresh, which is always the best! You are really only limited by your imagination and bravery for how many variations you can create. For some of you this recipe may require a bit of the latter as it does have raw eggs in it. Now I am not a fan of that ‘eggy’ taste (I don’t even like runny eggs) so I too needed some bravery to try this for the first time but you can’t really taste the egg and now I am hooked. The protein and fats from adding eggs and coconut oil keep you full for much longer than a regular fruit or green smoothie. If you are unsure start with 1 egg and progress to 2 when you’re ready. The reason I put raw eggs and coconut oil in it is because, as my trainer has advised me, it provides the perfect combination of protein and good fats that will be quickly digested to aid muscle recovery and help you power on through your morning. To reap these benefits though you need to drink it within 30 minutes of finishing your workout so prepare it at home and take it with you if you live or work far from your gym. Happy blending and let me know how you go with the additions of eggs! Or if you have your own variations I would love to know about it!

Recipe

Serving: 1 1/2 – 2 tall glasses depending on how much liquid is in your coconut.

IngredientsIMG_2070

2 eggs

1 young coconut, opened

1/3 cup frozen blueberries

1/3 cup frozen raspberries

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 tbsp ground linseed meal (also known as ground flax-seed)

Equipment

1 blender (high-speed is best)

1 tall glass for serving

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Method

1. Pour coconut water into blender

2.Scoop out 1/2 of the coconut flesh into the blender and add every other ingredient

3. Blend on high for 2-3 minutes or until all ingredients as blended well and smooth.

4. Pour into a tall glass and serve.

Variations
You can also add 1 tbsp of raw cacao or try 3/4 frozen banana and 1large handful of lightly sautéed english spinach
.

Paleo Chocolate Cake

IMG_2633These 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.

Recipe adapted from my favourite blogs paleospirit.com and live right be healthy.

Since writing this recipe I have created a vegan and paleo version of the ganache`. You can get the recipe here.

Recipe

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

3 eggs

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.

Method

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.

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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.

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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`.

IMG_262010. 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.

5. Enjoy!

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Sweet Potato Chocolate Ganache`

Ganache` is usually a beautiful combination of chocolate and cream that, when left to cool, forms a  decadent chocolate paste great for a rich icing or filling for cakes. This one though is a bit different as instead of cream it mixes sweet potato with the chocolate along with some clean natural sweeteners: honey, vanilla and maple syrup. It really is quite amazing how the combination of sweet potato pure` and chocolate creates the same rich but light mouth feel as the traditional recipe. I am working on a paleo and vegan version of this, which replaces chocolate with raw cacao and cacao butter, but for now this definitely does the trick. I hope you enjoy them!

Recipe

Makes enough icing to cover 2 of my Paleo chocolate cakes.

Ingredients

1 cup sweet potato mashed (see method below)

180 g chocolate

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp honey

2 tbsp coconut oil, melted

1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

Preparing the Sweet PotatoIMG_2584

1. Preheat Oven to 180 C.

2. Once oven is hot place the whole sweet potato (do not cut it or remove the skin) onto a baking tray and bake for 45 minutes or until very soft all the way through (test with a skewer).

3. Take sweet potato out of the oven and cool for 10 minutes.

4. Peel the baked sweet potato and mash the flesh in a bowl, measuring 1 cup of it for the ganache`.

Making the Ganche`

1. Gently melt chocolate in a metal or glass bowl over a pot of boiling water. You don’t want the water to be touching the bowl so put in about 1 inch of water. Set aside, once melted.

2. Place sweet potato in a food processor and pulse until it forms a smooth paste.

3. Add chocolate, maple syrup, honey, vanilla and coconut oil. Continue to pulse until combined.

4. Spread over cakes or in between cake layers.

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