Estonian Summer Magic
Coconut Cacao Macaroons
makes about 24 macaroons
These macaroons are juicy and full of flavor. Cacao paired with coconut is simply irresistible.
2 cups (480 ml) shredded coconut
¼ teaspoon salt
13 ½ tablespoons (100 g) cacao
6 tablespoons (80 g) coconut oil, melted
7 tablespoons (100 ml) coconut milk
7 tablespoons (100 ml) maple syrup
2 teaspoons almond extract or 6 drops almond essence
a handful or so of shredded coconut for garnishing
Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C)
In one bowl combine shredded coconut, cacao and salt.
In another bowl mix coconut oil, coconut milk, maple syrup and almond extract. Add this mixture to the shredded coconut mixture and stir well until mixture is evenly moistened.
Take one tablespoon of the mixture and form a cone. Spread some shredded coconut on a plate and roll the cone in the coconut pieces.
Place all coconut covered cones on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet and bake for 7 minutes.
Cacao Cashew Date Truffles
yields 40 truffles
All the ingredients are wholesome and nutrient dense – no empty foods here.
These truffles do melt in your mouth yet keep your blood sugar levels even.
They contain plenty of protein, good fat, fiber and superfood cacao.
Read more about the amazing properties of cacao here.
1 cup (240 ml) pitted dried dates, cut in half lengthwise (this way you make sure, there aren’t any pits left)
1/4 cup (60 ml) water
2 cups (480 ml) raw cashews
3 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
5 tablespoons raw cacao powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or a couple of scrapings of the vanilla bean
3 pinches fine sea salt
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
Soak dates overnight in ¼ cup water
Place cashews on cookie sheet and roast at 400 F (200 C) for about 10 minutes, until slightly golden
Process nuts in blender until quite fine, set aside
4 Process dates including any leftover soaking water and the maple syrup or honey in blender until they become an even paste
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mix with spatula, if necessary knead by hand to produce an even consistency
Take 2 teaspoons of the mixture and form into a small ball, rest on a paper towel first so that any excess nut oil can be absorbed
Continue making little balls out of the entire mixture and rest on the paper towel
Then transfer truffles onto serving platter
Matcha Cacao Truffles
yields 30 truffles
9 tablespoons raw cacao powder
2 teaspoons matcha powder
1 pinch fine salt
3 tablespoons cacao butter
1 tablespoon coconut oil
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1 drop almond essence or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons matcha powder
½ teaspoon fine salt
In a bowl mix all dry ingredients.
Warm the cacao butter in a small pot on lowest heat until molten.
Add the coconut oil and stir until molten.
Add the maple syrup and almond essence and stir some more.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well.
Place the bowl into the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
Form 1 teaspoon size balls and place them on a serving plate.
Mix the dusting ingredients in a small bowl. Use a tea strainer and teaspoon to dust your truffles.
PS: It can be hard to find cacao butter (the cold pressed fat from cacao beans) in the health food store. I get mine through Amazon. Here is the link to a brand I like:
Terrasoul Superfoods Raw Organic Cacao Butter, 16 Ounces
Are you reading too fast?
You have heard me talk/write about the importance of slowing down in the winter to restore and preserve life force, how it is OK and in fact beneficial to sleep more and to really hone your favorite way of chilling.
The other day I stumbled upon an interesting article on the merits of reading novels. As it turns out, there is a Slow Reading Movement going on out there. And SLOW READING is defined by “uninterrupted reading for 30 minutes or more”. SLOW READING reduces stress, improves concentration, boosts memory and deepens your ability to think, listen and empathize.
Reading novels as opposed to reading non-fiction books can help you become more compassionate by better understanding the emotional patterns, mental states and belief systems of your fellow human beings and might make you a better listener as well.
This is sharply contrasted with reading short bits and pieces as in SMSs, tweets, FB posts and constantly switching from one medium to another, even reading a webpage were you need to move your eyes around pictures, watch short videos or listen to sound snippets. Apparently, all this has been found to lower comprehension and cognitive function.
While the fast and short ways of communication have their place and will not go away, how about balancing off their detrimental mental affects by settling in with a good book or two this winter season? Set yourself up with a cozy cup of tea and lose yourself in the mystery of a different time period, the lifestyles of citizens in far away places or the intricacies of human interactions in a foreign culture. I hope you will heed my advice and truly enjoy reading your next book! And it will be an even better experience now that you know that it is most beneficial for your mind. Never again will you think of reading as a waste of time or an indulgence you cannot afford because of your busy schedule.
A book that I just finished reading and totally loved is Elizabeth Gilbert’s “The Signature of All Things”
Chocolate is so good for you because ...
... cacao is a superfood
Cacao, also called cocoa – the ingredient that gives chocolate its character – is good for you.
Cacao is one of the most nutrient-dense magical foods in the world. It even has a mythological dimension, called the food of gods as well as the food of lovers. Chocolate has the power to uplift our moods, elevate our spirits and open our hearts.
Commercially produced chocolate is, of course, a rather processed food. The purist would say that chocolate needs to be eaten in its raw state, as cacao beans or cacao nibs (the bean crushed into smaller pieces). I remember very vividly my first experience eating raw cacao nibs. I took a teaspoonful into my mouth and slowly began to chew on the crunchy pieces. At first I felt a bit disappointed that the taste wasn’t sweet at all. But then my mind shifted toward accepting this new food for whatever it had in store. As the taste grew more intense with prolonged and conscious chewing, I came to recognize the essence of chocolate – it was like a homecoming, like uncovering a gem. I was experiencing the true spirit of chocolate! It was subtle yet powerful. There was a richness and also a purity. I had a sense of upward expansion beyond my body – I felt uplifted, energized and completely present. It was really amazing!
Cacao is a bean that grows in the tropics and contains a host of beneficial components, including magnesium, antioxidants, phenylethylamine, anandamine and tryptophan. Cacao has the highest magnesium content of any food. Magnesium provides support for the heart, increases brainpower, acts as a natural laxative, soothes premenstrual symptoms, relaxes muscles and helps to build strong bones. Antioxidants make up 10 percent of the cacao bean – an exceptionally high percentage. Phenylethylamine, also called the “love chemical,” anandamine, also called the “bliss chemical,” and tryptophan, the amino acid needed to produce serotonin, the “feel-good chemical,” are all mood-enhancing nutrients that produce feelings of euphoria and well-being.
As you can see, cacao has health benefits on the physical as well as the mental plane. It is also considered to be an aphrodisiac. On the spiritual level, cacao has the subtle power to heal and to open our hearts, bringing forth a sense of receptivity, kindness, compassion and love.
Consider the richness of cacao’s gifts when you savor your next piece of chocolate. Please slow down and consciously enjoy its many levels. Try a high-quality dark chocolate. The more cacao in the chocolate, the less sugar and additives it can contain. However, as always, read the fine print. It is legal to call 41 percent cacao content a dark chocolate, but chocolate containing at least 70 percent cacao is best.
And if you are really brave, try raw cacao beans or nibs. They are sold at health food stores and through raw food websites such as www.sunfood.com
Excerpted from my book Essential Nourishment
Discover the story behind the cover image of Essential Nourishment
by visiting Donna Currie's Food Blog COOKISTRY
The holidays are upon us
and here are 5 ways to SIMPLIFY – your holiday survival guide:
1 – Identify what YOU want to get out of the holiday season – it might not be the traditional holiday fare
- Maybe you would like to spend some quality time with a special person – just the two of you
- Maybe you would like to treat yourself to a lovely spa treatment
- Maybe you would like to spend some time alone, to reflect and recharge
- Maybe you would love to catch up on sleep …
2 – Plan
- You know you are going to get busy, so if you do not put your wants into your calendar now, it’s not going to happen!
- Line up your helpers – delegate responsibilities -– you do not need to do it all alone
- Take care of things way ahead of time – less frenzy in the end
3 – Tune in to nature’s rhythm and SLOW DOWN
- at the buffet
- alcohol consumption – alternate water with wine
- eating - take breaks between bites – breathe, converse, smile
- and chew – really savor your food – this way less is more
- sweets consumption – let quality rule over quantity – prefer homemade over factory production
4 – Reduce
- Spending – make a budget and stick to it
- Presents – agree to draw a name among family members and give a gift to just one person
- Carbon foot print – buy green, buy local
5 – Enjoy
- have your sense of humor with you at all times
- be yourself
- be forgiving
- go with the flow
Off to Estonia, my summer paradise
where we conduct yoga, dance, tai chi, wellness and cooking retreats
Check out the Passion, Purpose and Pleasure Wellness Retreat package here
See entire summer schedule here
Hope to welcome you at Polli Talu Arts and Wellness Center this summer!
Paris, March 7, 2012
Cloudy descent into Paris airport – a little bumpy this landing in the city of haute cuisine.
The taxi ride to my first accommodation in the 19th
arrondissement goes smoothly: beautiful older apartment building with worn out wooden stairs and a sign to please wipe your feet. My friend is not home but his wife Paula and lovely 3 year old daughter Olivia are – she speaks Spanish, French and English – what a way to grow up. My bed is made in the office – there are big glass doors with a French balcony overlooking the court yard.
The next day the driver from the Estonian Embassy picks me up and we deliver two cases of books to the Paris Cookbook Fair grounds – nobody is there to receive the books but we leave them where the bookstore will be set up and hope for the best.
In the afternoon I check out the vegetable and health food store nearby to see whether they carry all ingredients I will need for my cooking demo on Sunday – for the most I can find everything except beets – the only beets I can find are pre-cooked. But Paula is able to get me some from another market.
First ride on the metro – everything goes well, except I don’t know that you have to push a button for the door to open – I just stand there and wait – luckily others want to get out as well and push the button for me.
In the evening I meet the Estonian Ambassador and his wife at the Folies Bergere theater for the Awards Gala. There are many categories of wine and cookbooks – many emotional, some funny, some witty responses to winning the first price. I am thinking and rethinking my acceptance speech – you only get 30 sec to say something. My book Essential Nourishment is a finalist in the health and nutrition category – 2 hours go by – and then the moment of truth arrives – I am nervous, excited, hopeful – but when Mr. Edouard Cointreau mentions my book second in, I know that I am not the winner of the first place. He says however “… a book that everyone should read” – and my book lands on third place. I will not deny that I was disappointed. C’est la vie …
It’s Wednesday, the first day of the book fair – I take the bus but halfway to where I am going the driver makes an announcement that I do not fully understand – however I get that there will be a rerouting – I stay on and hope that this rerouting will happen before we get to where I need to go. I follow the moves the bus makes on my map only to find out that it goes further and further in the wrong direction and instead of stopping every couple of blocks as he had done before there seems to be no stop in sight, I bravely walk up to the driver and ask what ever happened to rue Riquet? When he finally stops he points me towards another bus stop and tells me to take that bus back. So it is the same bus number but going the opposite direction and it will take me to where I have to go – go figure.
I arrive at the Paris cookbook fair. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. I go to the Gourmand office to pick up my certificate. It says Best Nutrition Book in the World, Third – I like how that sounds.
I get the catalog and rip out the pages that have the layout and a list of all presenters with stands on it. I start marking up who I want to speak to and approach them one by one. Everybody is so nice and almost apologetic, when they have to tell me that my book is not for them. Sometimes they recommend other publishers who might be a better fit for my book. My goal here is to find foreign publishers who would like to translate my book and publish it in their country. When I introduce my book I tell them that it won third place the day before in the healthy cookbook category and it really does not sound so bad. And they happily congratulate me. I have some promising exchanges with several German publishers and a Brasilian publisher. Lunchtime approaches and I am in the mood for a hearty lunch, knowing that dinner will be on the light side. There is a French café/restaurant in another part of the building. I study the menu but do not understand most of it. Luckily the waiter does speak English. There is a lunch deal where you get a discount if you order an appetizer and a main dish. My body tells me, go for it! My cravings for vegetables I quench with a cauliflower soup and for the main dish I order the one thing I recognize as a French classic thanks to the movie Julie and Julia – it is Boeuf Bourguignon – or something like it. I must admit that I am quite ignorant when it comes to French cuisine but am an eager student. I am not a big meat eater either but will try to eat like a Parisienne when in Paris. And again a flashback to the movie – I was tempted to make loud moaning noises just like Merryl Streep as Julia Child always did, when she dined with her husband - that expression of utter surprise and unexpected pleasure – but I controlled myself – however I must report that that beef was the most tender and juicy I have ever encountered – it literally melted in my mouth – I mean it was truly incredible – wow!
In the evening there was a party for all professional guests of the cookbook fair. A Swedish chef prepared 8 dishes for 300 people with the help of some 20 students of the Cordon Blue Culinary School. It took place in the International Show Kitchen, so we all could watch if we were so inclined. I stayed for the beginning, as it was interesting for me to see how he organizes his work and how he gives instructions to the students.
Age Defying Passion
I must admit that I had a really wonderful time performing last weekend in TREE - A DANCE, Susan Osberg’s beautiful meditative dance honoring, celebrating and being with trees.
There is the magic that always happens in theater when after a long rehearsal process in the studio everything comes together and you finally see the dance in the performance venue with images of trees and gorgeous stage lights.
The other amazing thing is that although my 53 year old body feels very different from a 35 year old body, once the performance starts all that is forgotten and you just go with the flow and with the spirit of the show. You go into performance mode, you take the stage, you go into your power. Your body feels totally connected, grounded and able.
Any hint of stiffness or restriction in range of movement dissipates and the creative juices carry you on. It is exhilarating. I am very grateful to Susan for occasionally pulling me back on stage to experience this age defying thing called dance, delicious movement, being in the moment, stretching beyond your preconceived limitations, heightened awareness,
living fully, exploration, passion …
Afterwards I feel a little more tired than I used to when I performed back in the 80s and 90s in NYC. I know I need to take good care of my body – my body is asking for it – so I take a relaxing hot shower before going to bed to soothe my muscles, I make sure I get enough sleep, I eat nutritious food …
The older I get the more I realize my body is one of the most precious possessions I have, deserving of the best loving care I can provide.
Why am I writing this?
Because I want you to pay attention to your body as well, to treat it with respect, to honor it for all it does for you, to love it just the way it is – unconditionally – to feed it appropriate foods, to hydrate it with fresh water, to allow for play and downtime, to take it outside to enjoy some fresh air and sunshine …
But also because I want you to identify what you are passionate about. What gets your creative juices flowing? What excites you? And encourage you to do more of that. Life is too short to be doing things you do not enjoy.
And if you are nearby, please come see these last three magic performances of TREE or join me in Estonia
for a life changing Passion Purpose and Pleasure Wellness Retreat
in August, both transformational experiences.
About those New Year resolutions
Sometimes I wonder whether all this goal oriented living is the way to go. Some healthy goal setting is useful for sure, don’t get me wrong. However, if we constantly live for something that will happen in the future, we might be in danger of not living in the present. If we are so fixated on the goal we might not be aware of the process. We might not be fully present to what is happing right now. By chasing the rainbow we miss being still. Without being still we cannot open up to allow things to come to us, to receive.
So I came up with a different set of resolutions this year. Maybe you’d like to add one or two to your list as well:
1. Trust the process of life
2. Listen to my inner voice and act on it
3. Consult my heart first when making decisions
4. Create moments of stillness throughout the day
5. Use every chance to appreciate beauty
6. Release the need to be perfect
7. Find pleasure in all that I do
ESSENTIAL NOURISHMENT has been nominated
for the prestigious GOURMAND WORLD COOKBOOK AWARDS 2011.
The winners will be announced at the awards event
during the Paris Cookbook Fair in March 2012.
30 lucky winners have been chosen
by an online random number generator to win a copy of
Dale Stalnaker Heffer
Dawn Gobel Knoblock
Deidre Lynn Smith
Diana Fink Nagy
Heather Wood Johnson
Kellie White McGarry
Linda B Schiller
Lynnette Seitz Ingram
Melissa Mann Saubers
Tricia Hagedorn Lucas
Congratulations to all of you! Please send
your postal address by email to email@example.com during the month
of September to recieve your copy of Essential Nourishment.
The Win a Copy of Essential Nourishment
starts July 30 - ends August 31
Get your FREE copy of Essential
To be eligible to win a copy of my book Essential
Nourishment you need to do two things:
1. Like the Essential Nourishment fb page
2. Once you are on the Essential
Nourishment fb page write “Essential Nourishment” in the comment field below
the campaign announcement
It’s that easy and you could be one of 30
lucky winners who will receive their very own paperback copy shipped for FREE
to anywhere in the world.
Offer ends at midnight NY time on August
Enjoy some sunshine
One of the things I really look forward to each spring is to be able to
take a sun bath on my back porch. On some days around noon, even if the temperature is merely 60 F and
there isn’t too much wind, I will lie down on my yoga mat and it will be just
perfect. The sun is warm enough in the middle of the day to deeply penetrate
and warm my body. And if I were a cat I would be purring from pleasure. One of
the pluses of working from home is that I can choose to spend a part of my
lunch hour basking in the sun. And I love it! As a northerner I revere the sun.
But there is more to it than pure pleasure. It is actually very important to
spend some time in the sun - without sun screen. You might be surprised that a
health conscious person like myself would say a thing like that, but unless you
get some unfiltered sun your skin will not be able to produce Vitamin D, a
crucial vitamin to help keep you healthy and young.
A sun screen factor of 8 or
more will not allow the rays of the sun to turn the cholesterol in your skin
into Vitamin D, which technically is not a vitamin but a prohormon. 20 min at a
time is a good amount of time to be out in the sun to produce Vitamin D.
Sufficient amounts of Vitamin D in the body can prevent a host of illnesses,
from hypertension, cancers, diabetes and heart disease to multiple sclerosis,
osteoporosis and psoriasis.
Take your time getting used to the sun, start with 5 - 10 minutes per
day and gradually increase until 20 minutes. When the weather gets warmer,
spend mornings in the sun, before it gets too strong at midday. After 3pm is also a good time to be out in the sun. But
use common sense and avoid getting sun burnt.
Wishing you a great start to a promising New Year filled with love and light, outrageous adventures, peace of mind, new places to visit, harmony, outbursts of creativity, understanding, wondrous surprises, big dreams coming true and many opportunities to laugh out loud!