Showing posts with label recipes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label recipes. Show all posts

Superfood Kitchen: How to Take Your Health to the Next Level (Acai Berry Cheesecake Recipe Included!)

You eat an organic diet, exercise, drink plenty of water and get sufficient rest. But is it enough?

In our daily grind, we try to keep it healthy and real by watching what we eat, minimizing processed food, staying active and going to bed at a decent hour. Although it's a good start for maintaining general well-being, if we really want to thrive and lead a vibrant life — we need extra help.

This is where superfoods come into play.

Dynamic and Nourishing

Julie Morris is a master of taking exceptionally nutrient-dense food and creating magic in the kitchen. As a bestselling author and natural foods chef, she’s put together a number of cookbooks, including Superfood Kitchen: Cooking With Nature’s Most Amazing Foods. Gorgeously photographed with stunning recipes, Julie has shattered the myth of bland health food. Carrot & Yacon Soup with Gojis, Butter Lettuce Salad with Creamy Sea Buckthorn Dressing, Black Bean—Hemp Protein Patties and Lucuma Ice Cream Cupcakes are just a few examples of Julie’s creativity in action.

She also includes sections on understanding superfoods, the need for nutrient density, how (and why) we should create a functional food pantry and extensive background information on the ingredients she uses throughout the book — such as camu camu, hemp seed, maqui berry, sacha inchi and more. A resource guide at the end eliminates any guesswork about where to purchase supplies.

Deliciously Guilt-Free

One of the more eye-catching creations in Superfood Kitchen is a non-dairy, nutrient-packed cheesecake using ingredients like acai berries, lucuma fruit, raw cacao nibs, coconut oil and walnuts.

Here's the nutritional rundown for each:

Acai berries are native to the Amazon rain forest and pack a serious nutritional punch. Brimming with antioxidants, beneficial fatty acids, iron, calcium, fiber and vitamin A, this dark purple fruit helps curb arthritis, inflammation, obesity, neurological disorders, cardiovascular disease and cancer. As an added perk, the berries are low in sugar. 

A Peruvian superfruit, lucuma is a good source of beta carotene, iron, zinc, vitamin B3, calcium and protein. With a taste reminiscent of caramel, the fruit is an outstanding sweetener — especially for diabetics since it ranks low on the glycemic scale. Lucuma has traditionally been used to support the skin and digestion, as well as cardiovascular health.

Containing a cornucopia of beneficial compounds, research has shown raw cacao nibs protect against heart disease, diabetes and inflammation — while also improving vision, mood and dental health.

Coconut oil is famous for its ability to strengthen the immune system, promote healthy brain function, support a balanced thyroid gland, improve cardiovascular health and encourage a strong metabolism. Rich in medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs), coconut oil is easily digested and rapidly converted by the liver into energy, instead of stored as fat.

Another brain and heart food, walnuts are a valuable source of antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, calcium and magnesium. The nut demonstrates impressive diabetic, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits.

All the above superfoods come together beautifully in the following recipe.

Acai Berry Cheesecake

Makes One 9-Inch Cheesecake

Acai’s inherent richness is ideal for a decadent cheesecake. Loaded with antioxidants, it’s truly celebratory

  • 1/1/2 cups (230g) raw cashews, soaked in water for 2 hours to soften, then drained
  • 1/3 cup (50ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 1/2 cup (75ml) coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup (75g) acai powder
  • 1 tablespoon lucuma powder
  • 2/3 cup (100g) banana mash (2 or 3 bananas peeled and mashed with a fork)
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1 cup (150g) (packed) soft Medjool dates (about 10 or 11), pitted
  • pinch sea salt
  • 3 cups (450g) fresh blueberries, divided

To make the cheesecake, drain the soaked cashews and discard the water. In a food processor or blender, mix together the cashews with the lemon juice, agave nectar, and coconut oil. Blend until completely smooth. Add the acai, lucuma, banana mash, tahini, dates, salt, and 1 1/2 cups (225 grams) of blueberries. Blend again until smooth.

In a 9-inch (23cm) springform pan, distribute the Cacao-Walnut Crust evenly and press down to form a compact flat layer. Pour the cheesecake filling on top of the crust. Cover, and place in the freezer for about an hour. Remove the chilled cake from the freezer and decorate the top with the remaining blueberries, pressing down slightly to make the berries “stick.” Re-cover and freeze for another 2-3 hours. When ready to serve, release the cake from the springform pan and defrost for about 3—4 minutes to soften. Store in the freezer when not in use; will keep frozen for a few months.

Cacao-Walnut Crust

  • 1 cup (150g) cacao nibs, divided
  • 2/3 cup (100g) raw walnuts
  • 1 cup (150g) (packed) soft Medjool dates (about 10 or 11), pitted
  • 3 tablespoons lucuma powder

Set aside 1/3 cup (50g) of the cacao nibs. Place remaining nibs, walnuts, dates, and lucuma powder in a food processor and grind until crumbly dough has formed. Check moisture level by pinching the dough to ensure it sticks—if not, blend in a little water, a teaspoon at a time, until the sticky texture is achieved. Transfer to a bowl and mix in remaining cacao nibs. Cover until needed.

Reprinted with permission from Julie Morris’s Superfood Kitchen © 2015 by Julie Morris, Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Photography by Julie Morris Superfood Kitchen

Acai | Navitas Naturals Chef’s Notes

Article via Wake Up World

Article sources

"Superfood Kitchen: Cooking With Nature’s Most Amazing Foods" Julie Morris, Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. 2015 


LocalBites Cooking Classes: Bringing Fresh Recipes to Life


This weekend I tried a new online cooking platform—LocalBites—and had so much fun! It's a far cry from the YouTube cooking videos we all seem to be addicted to these days. Since I've never taken a virtual cooking class before, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to find an interesting class and register. The entire process was seamless and smooth. 

The site has many unique filters to locate classes that perfectly fit your needs, like "For Busy Moms", "Guy or Girl", "College Student", and "Slow Cook". There's a range of special diets to choose from as well as specific regional cuisine. I personally appreciate the "Health Conscious" and "Whole 30" tabs. You can also choose the price range and class size. 

While it was tough to pick a single class because so many looked intriguing, I finally decided on a session for a gorgeous Peach Mascarpone Greek Yogurt Tart. I like that Jenny, the instructor, has a Ph.D. in nutrition and experience with special diets. She reached out a few days before the class to introduce herself and ask if I had any dietary limitations. She went above and beyond by creating a gluten-free adaptation of the recipe when she discovered that my daughter and I can't have wheat. We couldn't be happier! 

On the day of the class, we connected easily via a Google Meet link sent with the LocalBites confirmation email. Jenny is very detailed in her instruction and answered my questions throughout the session. We went step-by-step through the recipe beginning with the tart crust, which uses a mixture of almond flour and almond meal, butter, and egg for the binder. Next was the mascarpone cheese and Greek yogurt filling that was hand whipped with sugar and a touch of pure vanilla extract and bourbon. She gave helpful tips about refrigerating the crust for ten minutes before baking and why you don't want to use an electric mixer for the filling (hint: the fat in the mascarpone will separate). The fresh peaches followed. 

As an experienced cook, I honestly didn't think I would learn anything all that new during the class. I was wrong. Take the peaches. Cutting a peach into slices is pretty straightforward, right? Well, Jenny showed me how to cut the fruit in a very specific way so that each slice was uniform. She also explained about the different types of peaches and which variety was best for the recipe. I've never given much thought to "clingstone" versus "freestone" but the type does make a difference when you are cooking with peaches, rather than just eating the fruit directly. She arranged the peach slices in a stunning spiral on top of the tart. It's downright beautiful. The final dessert looks as if you have spent hours in the kitchen but the recipe itself is simple with a handful of ingredients. 

We wrapped up the class in an hour. Jenny then emailed me the adapted recipe and said to reach out if I had any additional questions. The classes are designed so that you can cook alongside the instructor (an ingredient list is provided beforehand on the site) or simply watch and ask questions. 

There really is a need for these interactive classes as people are searching for new and innovative ways to engage their hobbies and interests. LocalBites offers both in person and virtual sessions, so there's tremendous flexibility. It would be fun to organize an online class with far-flung friends. Gifting a session for the foodie's in your life is another idea. Since LocalBites is a peer-to-peer cooking site, anyone can join or host a class. What's more, the site has generously offered a referral discount for guest and/or host fees for ThriveLiving readers. Use the code CAROLANNEBITES 5% when registering

Savor the Heart Healthy Benefits of Raw Almond-Cherry Cookies with Cacao and Hemp Seed {Gluten-free, Paleo, Vegan}

Heart health can easily be cultivated by intelligent choices of specific nutrient dense foods. Certain nuts, fruits and seeds, as well as cacao, create a winning recipe for vibrant health.

Rich in the antioxidant vitamin E along with an abundance of flavonoids, monounsaturated fat, and fiber, almonds supply fantastic nutrition for maintaining a strong and healthy heart. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the consumption of almonds with their skins significantly lowered cholesterol levels. The synergy of vitamin E and flavonoids in the skin of almonds appears to be the key. Almonds also reduce C-reactive protein, which is an indicator of inflammation that damages the arteries. By soaking nuts overnight with a pinch of Himalayan or Celtic sea salt, nutrients are preserved and digestibility is enhanced.

Michael Pollan: Cooking for yourself is the real independence

(The Splendid TablePsychologically and socially, cooking is good for you and your family -- not to mention the health benefits. But it’s also a political act, according to food writer Michael Pollan, author of Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation.