Mulberry Chocolate Recipe

Mulberries in bowlWhen I was younger, all I knew about mulberries was the nursery rhyme “Here we go round the mulberry bush”, and even that was wrong, mulberries grow on trees! It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I tasted my first mulberry, when I was in Sicily. It was a fresh white one, and I love it. I then tried black ones and loved those too.

I’ve since found that you can grow mulberries in the UK, at least in the south, although they are a lot more common in the Mediterranean.

Mulberries are great nutritionally, they are high in vitamin C, magnesium, iron and some B vitamins, plus they contain the antioxidant resveratrol which may have health benefits, lots of studies are been done on it.

While fresh mulberries are amazing and are one of my favourite fruits, they are only available for a couple of months in the summer, but dried mulberries are available all the time and amazing for making all sorts of sweet recipes. I particularly like to use them to make raw cake bases along with walnuts or other nuts.

Ground mulberriesMulberries go really well with chocolate, here’s my recipe:

40g cacao paste
25g cacao butter
15g coconut butter
45g dried mulberries, ground
35g lucuma powder
20g carob powder
½ teaspoon raw honey (optional)
1 tsp vanilla powder (optional, but really improves the flavour)

(Note, if you prefer to use cacao powder rather than paste, you can use approx 20g cacao powder and change to 45g cacao butter.)

The first step is to grind the mulberries. I did this in my Vitamix, although a coffee grinder might also work. I did it in small batches as they get sticky and clump together – don’t grind for too long as this makes them stick back together. I then put them through a sieve to remove the larger chunks.

Melt the cacao butter, cacao paste and coconut butter gently (I use a bowl in a pan of warm water). Once it is all liquid, slowly stir in the rest of the ingredients. You want the consistency to be fairly stiff, if it seems too liquid, add a little more lucuma, carob or mulberries.

Pour into moulds and put in the fridge to set. The chocolate is slightly chewy, not smooth, hope you like it.

Finished chocolates

Raw Food in České Budějovice (Czech Republic)

I’m staying with a friend Martina in a little village in the Czech Republic, today she was busy so I spent the day by myself exploring the nearby city of České Budějovice.

Shelf of raw food products in Czech organic shopMartina told me about some organic shops and a vegan restaurant for me to check out – but I was surprised to find lots of raw food in one of the organic shops and a full raw food menu in the vegan restaurant!

In the first organic shop I went in, Slunecnice (which means Sunflower) on street Chelcičkého number 78/21 there were three shelves like the one to the right full of raw food products: crackers, nut butters, snack bars, raw chocolate bars, etc. Two of the shelves were dedicated to LifeFood products, which is a Czech raw food company I know about from my last visit the Czech Republic many years ago.

I bought myself a couple of Czech made raw snack bars and an Italian raw chocolate bar, here are my thoughts:

 

Italian raw chocolate barCacao Crudo by Loverdiana – Organic Raspberry flavour Raw Chocolate bar made in Italy

I was particularly attracted by the packaging for this bar! It was raspberry flavour which was really good and strong, slightly tart as expected which complements the chocolate well.

It was a large 50g bar and relatively  expensive so I expected something really special – it was very good and the chocolate was comparable to most raw chocolate bars, but not extra special like I was expecting (the packaging also made me expect something extra special!)

Other flavours were available, you can find out more on their website cacaocrudo.it

Open raspberry raw chocolate bar

Tyčinka Kakaová – Organic Raw Chocolate Snack Bar

Tyčinka kakaová - raw snack bar

A very simple snack bar containing only dates, sunflower seeds, almonds and raw cacao. It had a good fruity flavour with a light chocolate touch, and I could taste the sunflower seeds. Great texture, overall really good.

Made by Markol Food, but information only in Czech so probably not available elsewhere.

Chitta Raw Slim Relax raw snack bars

Chitta Raw Snack Bar - Jujube flavourAnother raw snack bar, this one with more depth of flavour, with a few more ingredients. There were three types available in the shop, “Energy”, “Sport Activity” and the one I got “Slim Relax”. I didn’t get it because I need to slim (I definitely don’t!) or was in the mood for relaxing, “energy” might have been more useful for my city tour, but it sounded like the best flavour with jujube, quite a rare fruit also known as Chinese date apple, something we grew back when I used to live at Ecoforest.

The ingredients were dates, hazelnuts, jujube, raisins, chia seeds, cocoa beans and carob and it was delicious. Great flavour and texture, quite sweet but not too sweet. Only thing is that it wasn’t organic unlike most of these kind of raw snacks.

Slunce – Vegan Restaurant with Raw Menu

Fridge of raw cakesThe surprise of the day was Slunce (meaning Sun), the vegan restaurant. I wasn’t particularly interested in going, but I happened to walk past it and notice the mention of raw food so I had a closer look. Once I saw the fridge full of cake and confirmed that they were all raw, there was no turning back! It was very hard to choose which one to try, but in the end I went for the blueberry “cheesecake” (raw vegan). And yes, it was delicious!

Raw Vegan Blueberry Cheesecake

I didn’t eat anything else but there was a full raw menu, only in Czech but it included nori wraps and lots of salads (the lady who was there spoke some English). They also sold a selection of organic dried nuts and seeds, plus delicious fresh dates. Maybe I will get to go with Martina who can translate the Czech for me!

Slunce is located at Krajinská 238/23 and they have a website here: restaurantslunce.cz

If you have any Czech raw food tips, feel free to comment below.

Product Review: Roh Kostlich spicy raw snack bar

Raw Snack Bar with Goji berries, Chia sees and Chia flavourRaw snack bar I also found this raw snack bar in a Berlin organic shop: Goji Chia Chai and it was delicious. Sweet and tangy and fairly spicy. It has a really good combination of spices (cinnamon, cardamom, all spice, cloves and cayenne pepper). The cayenne does dominate the flavour slightly so only for you if you like it hot!

Not sure if it is available outside of Germany, but look out for it if you come to Germany. I’m fairly sure there were also other flavours available.

Product Review: Govinda Erdzipan (Raw Tigernut Marzipan)

I’ve seen Govinda branded raw products in the shops for years but never tried them before, possibly because they always seem quite expensive compared to comparable products, although the pack size is quite large. But anyway, in one of the many organic shops in Berlin I spotted Erdzipan balls (I’m not sure exactly what this product is called in English, but it is raw tiger nut marzipan, tiger nuts are also known as chufa), along with a selection of other raw foods including Om Bar raw chocolate bars. I love marzipan so I decided to give it a try.

Tiger nuts can supposedly help prevent heart disease and thrombosis, activate blood circulation and reduce the risk of colon cancer. They are rich in energy and protein, minerals and vitamins E and C. So quite a superfood.

Unfortunately I wasn’t completely impressed. The texture is amazing, but they are far too sweet for me and the bitter almond flavour (the classic marzipan flavour) is almost none existent. I should have checked the ingredients list slightly better before purchasing: only 20% tiger nuts, so almost 80% dates. Of course I’m sure many people will like these, just not me!

Rawsage Savoury Raw Snack Review

I was in Lisbon at the weekend so I took the opportunity to visit some organic/wholefood shops and I spotted this savoury raw snack bar – I’m always looking out for new products for the monthly snack box so I got one to try.

The concept is great, Brazil nuts, sun dried tomatoes, onion, garlic and herbs (although strangely given it’s name there is no sage in it), but for me it was far too salty. Salt isn’t a separate ingredient, it just comes with the sun dried tomatoes.

Also, some of the sun dried tomatoes were not broken down very well, one was a whole half tomato and very difficult to chew.

I guess you will find these in organic shops in the UK, otherwise they can be purchased direct from LifeFood. If you do try one, let me know in the comments below what you think – I was maybe unlucky with the large pieces of tomato, and as I don’t use much salt myself I’m more sensitive to it when in foods like this.

My Favourite Raw Chocolate Recipe

This is my basic raw chocolate recipe. It can be made just as it is, or various flavours can be added such as essential oils (eg orange, lemon, pepermint), orange or lemon zest, buckwheaties (for chrunchy chocolate), cacao nibs, raisins, chopped dried figs, chopped nuts, etc.

Ingredients

40g cacao paste
25g cacao butter
15g coconut butter

3 tablespoons lucuma powder
1 tablespoons carob powder
1 tablespoons mesquite powder (also known as algarroba)
1 tsp vanilla powder
1 tsp mushroom powders (mix of various powders including reishi, cordyceps, lions mane, etc – optional)
1 teaspoon honey (optional)

Makes approximately 150g of chocolate, you can easily double all measurements if you want more.

Method

Melt the cacao paste, cacao butter and coconut butter using gentle heat, using a baine marie or dehydrator, or just a bowl in a pan of hot water. Once this is completely liquid, you can add the rest of the ingredients. Add a bit at a time and stir it in well. I shake the powders through a sieve to stop lumps forming.

Pour into chocolate moulds. If you don’t have proper moulds you can use various things, including silicone ice cube trays or plastic tupperware containers.

It will set slowly at room temperature, but you can put it in the fridge to set quicker, or freezer even quicker (although it will get too hard if you leave it too long, bring back to room temperature ready to eat).

(At Funky Raw we sell a raw chocolate kit with ingredients to make your own chocolate and an “Extra” kit with extra ingredients, both at a discount compared to buying the items separately.)

Cooked Food Experiments

(I wrote about this in the editorial of the Funky Raw magazine issue 37, and I’ve already had a good response from readers so I’m posting an expanded version here.)

I’ve been following a raw food diet for about 14 years now, mostly fairly strictly, apart from an occasional cooked cake here and there and a cooked meal in a restaurant maybe a few times a year. But last year was a bit different. As you may know, I eat a small amount of meat, usually a small portion twice a week. I had been eating this raw for several years, but for some reason I started to cook it, along with cooked onions. Then over the summer I added a few cooked tomatoes to the mix. With pretty much 100% of the rest of my diet raw this has been fine for me, it hasn’t caused any issues, no digestive problems, and I’ve generally felt good. (Although I’ve actually gone back to eating the meat raw now.)

this is where I got a major realisation - it's so much easier to eat a healthy portion size when eating raw food!This led on to more experiments. Last year was quite different to previous years for me, I went travelling more than usual, to festivals and communities, and sometimes it was difficult to take my own food, and in some cases I wanted to join in with group meals so I ate a little bit more cooked food. In November I stayed at a community for a few days and decided to try eating what everyone else was eating, although making sure I didn’t eat wheat/gluten and not eating rice and potatoes unless they were mixed in with the rest of the meal. The food was “healthy” vegetarian and there was usually some salad along with the cooked food. And this is where I got a major realisation – it’s so much easier to eat a healthy portion size when eating raw food! When I eat raw, I stop eating when I am full – my body is physically full and I can’t really eat anything else. But when eating cooked food I couldn’t stop myself. I found I still wanted to eat more until I felt I had eaten way too much.

There are a couple of reasons why this may happen. I think the main one is the sheer bulk of raw food, it physically fills up the digestive system. But also maybe the raw food has more nutrition which actually satisfies what my body wants more than the cooked food. If you have any thoughts on this, please add your comment below.

After 4 days of eating cooked food (although still at least 50% raw) I was looking forward to getting back home to my own kitchen and raw food! In general I was feeling ok, although my digestion wasn’t as good as when I eat only raw, particularly after eating cooked beans. I’ve noticed this previously, that my body can’t easily digest cooked beans.

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to a friend’s place for lunch and I decided to not make any special requests with regards to diet. When I found out that it was pizza I was initially worried about the amount of wheat, but there was also some salad… I ate the pizza, and survived! I’m sure if I made a habit of eating that much wheat it would start to have a bad effect on me, but I’m happy that I can finally stop worrying about what I will eat for occasional situations like this.

New Funky Raw Magazine out now!

Funky Raw Magazine Issue 37, Spring 2017It’s been a while since the last one, so I’m really happy that I have finally got another magazine published!

I’m really pleased with this issue, including the beautiful cover art by Michelle Denise. There are some great articles, I particularly liked “The Illusion of Rest and Finding Real Restoration” which is an interview with Mara Glatzel by Grace Quantock – I learnt a lot from that article myself!

Some other key articles include sauerkraut and how to make it, all about teeth and a natural toothpaste recipe, dealing with diabetes, and much more. You can also win a copy of Stephanie Jeffs’s new recipe book “Spiralize!”.

If you are interested in getting involved in future issues, please contact me – you can write an article, poetry, stories, cartoons, artwork, etc.

You can purchase the magazine either as a printed magazine or as a PDF.

Raw Chocolate Truffles Review

Truffles in boxWhen I picked up this package of “Naked & Raw Cacao Truffles”, the first thing I noticed was the delicious smell, before I’d even opened the jiffy bag they came in. Then the beautiful rustic box they were packed in.

This range of raw chocolate truffles are all made from the same basic recipe of cacao paste, medjool dates and coconut oil, and then each type is dusted with its flavour.

They were all delicious, but I think the ginger ones were my favourite. Perfect soft texture, intense chocolate flavour combined with spicy ginger, delicious.

Ginger cacao trufflesThe strawberry truffles were also amazing, they had what I assume was pieces of freeze dried strawberry embedded in to the truffle, so tasty!

Coffee was also delicious, although maybe too much stimulation for me!

After this range of amazing flavours, the truffles dusted in cacao powder were a bit plain for me, although still delicious.

The only truffles I didn’t like were the chilli ones, the chilli was just too intense for me, these are reserved for people who really like their mouth to be on fire with cacao and chilli…

There are also maca and cinnamon truffles available, I didn’t get to try those but I’m sure they are both also delicious.

Because they are so good they are now available on the Funky Raw website. When you place your order, they are made to order for you so you get them as fresh as possible.

New Mulu Raw Chocolate Bars Review

One of the things I love about my job is all the free samples I get sent to try out. A couple of weeks ago I got sent samples of a new range of raw chocolate bars by Mulu. I remember a long time ago I used to really like Mulu bars, but I stopped eating and selling them because they contained agave which I found was not healthy. So when I was told these new bars are sweetened with SugaVida I was very excited to try them.

And wow, I wasn’t disappointed. They are my new favourite raw chocolate bars! There are five bars in the range, four of which are “milk” chocolate style, using coconut cream as a vegan replacement for milk, and the other is a dark chocolate bar.

All the “milk” chocolate bars are amazing, the best raw “milk” chocolate I have ever tried. I’ll go through each flavour, in approximate order of which was my favourite, although the first three pretty much tie for first place.

Mulu chai raw chocolate barChai – Amazing. “Milk” chocolate with Indian chai spices, absolutely perfect. Containing cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cloves, plus vanilla.

Hazelnut – Also amazing! Containing both hazelnut pieces and hazelnut butter, which gives a delicious hazelnut flavour and crunchy texture, along with the creamy “milk” chocolate.

Coconut – Basically a plain “milk” chocolate bar, so creamy with all that coconut cream.

Banana – This is a unique idea, creamy “milk” chocolate flavoured with dried banana powder.

85% – This is the dark chocolate bar. For me this wasn’t quiet as exciting as the rest of the range, the coconut cream really is the standout point of these new bars, and this one doesn’t contain any. But still a good chocolate bar.

SugaVida (palmyra Jaggery) is the sweetener from a plam tree, claimed to be even better than coconut sugar, containing more minerals and having a glycemic index of 40. They even claim it has vitamin B12, I’ve not checked into this but personally I wouldn’t rely on it! [Edit: Ben from Mulu contacted me and said that they have had this tested in the lab and that it does have B12 in it, although I still personally wouldn’t rely on this as my only source of B12.]

We’ve now got these bars for sale at Funky Raw with a special introductory discount of 10%. Plus we have a selection pack with one bar of each flavour with an even larger saving.

New Mulu chocolate bars