Raw Vegan Cacao Date Balls

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-1-13-04-pmWhether you’re vegan, gluten-free, fully raw or just aiming to pack your diet with nutrient rich superfoods, you will surely love this healthy treat! I wanted to make this recipe more minimal and simple, so I used only Dates, Cacao, Coconut Oil and Coconut Shreds. The recipe could even be made without the coconut shreds, but they are a nice touch for the outside layer of the balls.Many people like to add almonds or cashews to the mix. Of course you can add more ingredients and experiment to your heart’s desire!

Recipe:

5-7  Dates

1 1/2 Tbsp. Cacao Powder

1 Tbsp. Coconut Oil

1 Tbsp Coconut shreds

*Make sure to purchase Cacao powder rather than “Cocoa”. The brands that I like to use are Natierra or Navitas Naturals.

  1. Make sure to get pitted dates, or take the pits out yourself if you prefer.
  2. Place all of these ingredients into your food processor and blend.
  3. Blend until it becomes  smooth & dough like.
  4. Take it out and roll into balls (any size you like!)
  5. You can roll them in the extra coconut shreds, or roll them in cacao for the outside coating.

Enjoy!

Depending on how decadent you want them to be, you can experiment with the Cacao to Date ratio. In the ratio I listed above,  they came out tasting like a gourmet dessert. If you always loved licking the brownie batter as a kid, then you might like to add more cacao!  If you want them to taste more like a snack, you can add less cacao and more dates. Regardless of the amount you use, it recommended to consume no more than 40 grams or four teaspoons in a day.

The benefits of cacao are abundant. Containing the “bliss molecule” anandamide, cacao is a safe way to increase bliss and euphoria in your daily life! In fact, the name of the cacao tree is Theobroma, which comes from the greek roots Theo (God) and Broma (food) or “Food of the Gods”.

In a 1 oz. (28 gram) serving Cacao contains:

  • Antioxidants
  • Magnesium
  • Iron- 10% Daily Value
  • Calcium- 4% Daily Value
  • Fiber- 10g, 40% Daily Value
  • Protein- 8g, 16% Daily Value

For some more detailed information on the benefits of cacao, you can visit Daily Superfood Love!

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Nutrition for Stress Management

Stress is an issue that has come up with a lot of my clients lately. Whether it’s causing obvious symptoms like sleep disruption and weight gain or internal issues with the digestive and nervous systems – it can take a toll on us if we don’t manage it properly.  It is really important to understand stress, how are body reacts to it, and the harmful long-term effects it causes.

Let’s face it  – with everything going on in our lives it is hard not to experience stress in some form. Even if we aren’t physically or emotionally feeling stressed, our bodies may be experiencing it internally. I wanted to touch on nutrients that are crucial for reversing the bad effects stress has and also explain a little what is actually happening when we experience it.

When the body is under stress, vitamins and minerals are quickly utilized to try and achieve balance within. Overtime this causes us to be depleted of crucial vitamins needed to function, specifically magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and proteins are also used more rapidly during the stress response. It is important that we eat foods rich in these vitamins and minerals to help our body cope with and also eliminate excess stress and avoid the harmful long term effects of stress (weight gain, cardiovascular disease, diabetes).

B Vitamins are also crucial for our bodies to both deal with and prevent feelings of stress and anxiety. They help support the nervous system and are used at a higher rate during periods of stress.  Vitamins A and E are great antioxidants that protect the body against free radical damage, which stress increases. A high amount of antioxidants in our diet can help the body better manage in high stress situations.

By incorporating the proper foods, we can help our body to manage stress, which will also help with digestive issues, heart disease, anxiety, and weight gain (our bodies hold on to food and store as fat, specifically shown in the mid-section when stressed).

 

Therapeutic Benefits of Food

There are a wide variety of foods that contain therapeutic benefits which help to keep stress levels at a minimum. As I mentioned, when the human body is experiencing high levels of stress, the adrenals are producing too much cortisol and adrenaline. During this process crucial vitamins and minerals are depleted from the body, along with other negative physiological side effects. It is important to make sure there are sufficient amounts of potassium, calcium and magnesium in the foods we eat, to not only replenish but also to maintain an adequate amount for when we experience stress.

Protein, vegetables, healthy fats and fruits are the most important food categories needed in a diet to enhance mood and eliminate stress. Also, complex carbohydrates are beneficial due to the slow absorption of sugar into our blood and the release of the hormone serotonin.

Protein is crucial in maintaining and building neurotransmitters, which are located in the brain and send out positive feelings. The neurotransmitters can only be made out of a few of the twenty-two amino acids. It is recommended that a person has 20-30 grams of protein in each meal. Out of all proteins, fish is considered one of the best sources. This is because most contain all twenty-two amino acids, are easy to digest, and contain many crucial vitamins.

imagesIt is important to eat a lot of fatty fish, nuts and seeds that contain Omega 3 fatty acids , which suppress the cortisol and adrenaline levels. Fish also contain minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium, which are all lost during times of high-stress.  I try and incorporate fish often because of the high amounts of EPA and DHA combined, which is not found in plant sources of Omega 3 (where ALA is more apparent). However, in both plant and marine sources, omega 3s play a significant role in reducing stress. The fatty acid is extremely supportive in a healthy cardiovascular system, has cancer-fighting properties, and supports the immune system.

Stress also causes our bodies to become too acidic. A diet high in alkalinizing vegetables and fruits will help maintain balance and keep the body at optimal functioning level. Many vitamins and minerals that are important in fighting and correcting stress-induced disease and health issues are found in vegetables and fruits.

Vitamin E and C are important antioxidants needed to combat the possible diseases brought on by stress, such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and a hindered immune system. B vitamins are essential in fighting stress, they also help convert L-tryptophan to serotonin “the feel good hormone.” A biochemical effect of stress is a depleted stock of serotonin, the hormone that makes you feel relaxed and in control. Another way to boost serotonin levels is to increase your intake of complex carbohydrates. Great examples of complex carbohydrates are quinoa, millet, amaranth, oatmeal and barley. The slower your body absorbs carbohydrates, the more steadily the flow of serotonin. Folic acid (helps to stabilize mood) and zinc are important to reduce stress.

What to incorporate:

  • Seeds/nuts : pistachios, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and almonds are a great snack to travel with on the go (high amounts of healthy fats, potassium, magnesium and iron)
  • Raw veggies such as celery, carrots, and red pepper are always a good option with a lot of stress reducing properties. Eat them with any nut butter, tahini or hummus for protein source
  • Foods high in omega 3s such as flaxseed, fish, avocado
  • Foods high in B vitamins
  • Foods high in vitamins A and C, folic acid, magnesium
  • Calcium rich foods : sesame seeds, yogurt, spinach, dark leafy greens
  • Anti-inflammatory foods/herbs such as ginger and turmeric

Best food choices: avocados, dark leafy greens, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, red pepper, sweet potatoes, fish, lean beef, pumpkin seeds, nuts, bananas, blueberries, rolled oats, quinoa, barley, millet, amaranth

Aside from incorporating these healthy foods into your daily diet, it’s also a good idea to do yoga, meditate, and get adequate amounts of sleep each night. Herbal teas are great too, try stress relieving teas such as chamomile, kava kava, st. john’s wort, and lavender. Start small and make little changes each day. Your body will thank you 🙂

The Galley Cafe will be using fresh produce daily from Lancaster Farm Fresh

We’re getting close to The Galley Cafe opening date at Vincera Institute in the The Navy Yard!

So excited to place my first produce order with Lancaster Farm Fresh… locally rooted, sustainably minded.

ImageWhat is not to love about organic, local and seasonal produce delivered daily? It’s important to support local and be as active as you can in the sustainable food movement!  Foods that are grown with chemicals and pesticides adversely affect your health, causing toxin build up, hormonal imbalance, brain and nerve cell damage, cancer, and infertility. Not to mention organic fruits and veggies taste better and are found to have a higher content of vitamins and minerals than those filled with harmful pesticides and/or genetically modified.

So eat up the good stuff and join your local CSA today or check out farmers markets and natural health stores in your area. To get information on your local CSA, farmers markets, or sustainably grown food in your area click here.

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Check back for updates and cafe opening date details!