I’m in the Czech Republic now for a while, yesterday evening I had a beautiful walk through the forest and by a lake, I saw a deer and a hare, and fish jumping in the lake. I’m staying in a little village near Hluboká nad Vltavou which is not far from České Budějovice.
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.
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!
I’m in Berlin for a little while, yesterday I went to explore the city and see what is left of the wall, a section about 1.6km long which is now covered with artwork, some of which is really beautiful with inspiring messages.
Berlin is a very green city, parks everywhere, even a small forest (Plänterwald) along the Spree river.
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.
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.
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.
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).
(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 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.
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.
When 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.
The 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…
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.
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.
Chai – 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.]