Obviously a food is at its peak nutritionally when it is just picked from the vine, pulled from the earth, milked from the cow. But we are all not lucky enough to have access to that in this day and age, so the aim should be to look at everything that we eat and see how fresh and unprocessed we can get it.
Realistically though, we are all time poor to differing degrees so it is understandable that if something is going to take too much time, its not going to stick! And that, I guess, is always at the forefront of my mind as I take you on this journey with me. Is it sustainable to everyday living? Yes! OK, talk about it!
So anyway, here is a bit about some of the new products I have been playing around with of late.
Rapadura sugarSUGAR??!!! I hear you say! How can you be spruiking sugar?! Well apart from the fact that I do have a very sweet tooth, did you know that the source of all those processed sugars on the market (and in all the products that use sugar) is actually quite a nutritious raw material?! The problem is that by the time the cane juice is made into those tiny little snow white granules, all of those nutrients have been stripped away leaving horrible 'empty' kilojoules (energy with no nutritional substance) and a bit of chemical treatment to get it that way too.
Jo from Quirky Cooking goes into greater detail of sugar beautifully and so instead of reinventing the wheel, I suggest you head over to this page to read the fascinating facts and myths about the different sugars on the market.
Now before you buy yourself 10kgs and load it guilt free onto everything you eat, you need to remember that gram for gram Rapadura still contains the same number of kilojoules to that of regular table sugar and at the end of the day, everything in moderation is the mantra to life! But at least when you are using rapadura, you know that with the kjs comes some great nutrients, such as magnesium, potassium, vitamin A, calcium and phosphorus.
Aesthetically, there is a real rawness to the look and feel of this product. Think brown sugar but less refined, and the flavour speaks strongly of molasses - syrupy, yet a feeling of substance, not sickly sweet. You almost feel healthy eating it, almost!! ( ;
|Far: Raw cacao nibs, Front: Rapadura sugar (and a quick plug for my dear friend who produces these gorgeous bamboo placemats! Find details at Haus)|
Raw cacao nibsWhen you start talking chocolate, you start talking my language!! It really is a treat that puts a smile on my face. The only problem is, similar to the sugar story above, once you get to a milk chocolate bar, you have lost all the amazing health benefits that the source of chocolate, cacao beans boast.
Has anyone ever watched the documentary 'Willies Chocolate Revolution' which showed on the ABC in Australia a year or so back? It really opened my eyes to the whole story of chocolate, and made me realise how amazing, nutritionally, this product is! The largest cacao plantations are found in Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Indonesia, although there is now a plantation in Far North Queensland!
So, health benefits of what is being touted a superfood - raw cacao....
Well, antioxidants is the big one! Many sources are quoted as saying that raw cacao has far more flavenoids than blueberries, red wine and black and green teas!
It is also a source of sulfur and magnesium, and the essential fatty acids it contains are said to actually help the body raise the good cholesterol and lower the bad!
But that doesnt mean you can reach for that Cadburys block hiding at the back of your cupboard! We are talking RAW CACAO. By the time all the other ingredients are added to make a Snickers bar, the 'superfood status' is long gone!!
But these raw cacao nibs I bought are the real deal, and I feel healthier already! They are not the sweet chocolately taste you are accustomed to - closer to the 70% dark chocolate blocks but probably even more 'raw' and bitter than that.
So far I have made 'bliss balls' which were a mix of dates, cacao powder (I just ground the nibs up), rapadura sugar and nuts rolled in organic shredded coconut, chocolate custard, and last night I made a delicious mint choc ice cream, using my recipe and adding freshly picked mint leaves from our garden and the raw cacao nibs ground - now that was yum!
Crio BruSo this product is 100% pure roasted cacao beans. I came across it recently in my research on all things Thermomix actually. When I looked at the benefits it was boasting, it sounded like something I wanted to try! Now dont get me wrong, I LOVE a coffee first thing in the morning. There is definitely a lot of romance around the beverage that is coffee! Its an emotional and physical pick me up, and for many, it defines the start of a day, it presses the 'go' button.
So a few weeks back I received my package of Crio Bru and with much anticipation ditched my daily ritual the next day and brewed this stuff instead. It smelt beautiful as I opened the package, and I almost felt guilty for making such a chocolatey smelling drink first thing in the morning. But actually given it is 100% cocoa (not filled with whiteners and sugar) it is quite a chocolately bitter, raw flavour. Something I am now used to and enjoy with a splash of milk.
But the most interesting (and welcomed) affect this drink has had on me as the days went by was the absence of the mid afternoon slump that I usually get. I actually didn't realise until a couple of mornings when I had a coffee again instead of the Crio Bru and was sitting on the couch exhausted by 3pm. I couldn't believe it but yes this product really has eliminated that feeling for me which has lead me to loyalty - you can be assured I will chose the Crio Bru from now on to start my day - with a coffee every now and then just because I do love it!!
How does this happen though?? Well, contrary to popular belief, cocoa contains only trace amounts of caffeine (less than 1/20th that in coffee), but instead contains Theobramine, which is a stimulant in the same family as caffeine but is different in structure. Where caffeine gives an immediate, intense, yet short lived affect, Theobramine is more gentle and mild in its impact, and lasts longer - hence why I don't get '3.30itis'!!
They also suggest that it improves our mood.... well, you'll need to ask the hubby about that one!!!
I have no affiliation to Crio Bru, or the makers of Rapadura or raw cacao nibs! I've just had many of you ask whats in my pantry and so these are just a few of the latest ingredient finds that I am excited about sharing with you!
I have bought the rapadura sugar and raw cacao nibs (and lots of other ingredients such as puffed amaranth, quinoa and organic raw almonds) in bulk at www.goodness.com.au although I'm sure there are many other options out there too. If you make the move to using more of these 'back to nature' ingredients you will most likely find buying in bulk to be a more cost effective option. Maybe there are a group of you living close by that can share the quantities.
Until next time, what can you change to bring you a little closer to nature??