Valentines Day’s Salted Chocolate Banana Love Bites

With a day practically coated in chocolate.. what’s not to love!

 

love bites

Happy (post) Valentines day readers!

This day has always hit a bit of a “sweet spot” for me (I love it), and though every year is a little different there is always one thing guaranteed to be dished up on the menu: chocolate! Usually baked in the form of gluten-free, dairy-free molten lava cakes, this year I took a simpler, but equally indulgent approach…

These bites will make the perfect addition to your family day affairs being rich, salty, chocolaty, dangerously simple to make and entirely family approved from mom-on-the-run to teething toddler.

 

salted chocolate

 Holistic Highlights

Sunflower Seed Butter

  • You can also use a traditional almond butter here but I have a slight love affair with this seed butter. Be sure to purchase one that is pure (I used Nuts To You), with no additives, sugars etc. that sneak into many conventional brands. Only the good stuff!
  • Loaded with heart healthy fats, vitamin E (shown to significantly reduce the risk of heart attacks when abundant in the diet), and magnesium which regulates heart rhythms to prevent irregular heart beats.

Chocolate

  • I recommend Giddy Yoyo chocolate bars as these are raw, maintaining the nutrient value of the cacao bean. Chocolate should always be warmed in a double boiler (in a pan over a boiling pot of water) so that these nutrients are not exposed to direct contact with heat.
  • Chocolate contains phenylethylamine, which is released in your brain when you fall in love and also stimulates the release of dopamine, the “feel good”, euphoric neurotransmitter.

Bananas

  • Use spotted bananas here as they will be sweeter, riper and more nutritious!
  • Rich in bromelain, bananas are known to boost male libido and due to their high potassium content, they are recognised for lowering blood pressure to reduce the risk of heart attacks.

valentines

Salted Chocolate Banana Love Bites

Ingredients

  • 3-4 Bananas
  • 1/3 Cup Almond or sunflower seed butter
  • 1 Bar of Giddy Yoyo chocolate
  • Cinnamon
  • Course sea salt

Directions

  • Slice bananas approximately 1/4-1/2 inch thick.
  • Spread a dollop of sunflower butter onto half the slices and lay flat on a baking sheet with wax paper.
  • Sprinkle a good dusting of cinnamon over top and sandwich with the other half of your sliced bananas.
  • Pop these into the freezer for 2-3 hours, or until solid.
  • Melt your chocolate slowly over a double boiler. Remove the bananas from the freezer and spoon, drizzle or dunk the chocolate to coat them, sprinkling the course salt overtop before the chocolate hardens (this will happen quickly).
  • Place back in the freezer for another 1-2 hours to harden back up. Remove from the freezer when you’re ready to take a bite!

Warning: the making of these love bites may be messy, libido inducing and may trigger excessive trips to the freezer for “just – one – more – bite.” 

Wishing you all a love-ly extended holiday,

Suzanne Eden

DIY Holistic Christmas Advent Calenders

Let the Christmas countdown commence!

These DIY advent calendars have been counting us down to Christmas since we were children. They are a fantastic way to infuse holiday traditions with healthy habits as you choose what your children (or grandchildren) unwrap and consume each morning of December.

holistic advent calender

My grandmother started this tradition the year after we force-fed her the soap tasting “chocolate” hidden behind the brightly coloured flaps of our cardboard advent calendars. Slipping soap resembling candy to your children may be one way to reduce the sugar they consume this season, but to protect the tooth enamel and blood sugar levels of our grandparents, this DIY offers plenty of treats without the sweets! They are easy to create, are a stress relieving outlet of creativity, can be reused each year and offer the added environmentally friendly benefit of repurposing all of your old christmas cards lingering around your cellar. And we’re just in time to make them!

 Creating The Christmas Card Boxes

 

Christmas Cards

From Sweets To Treats

A few sweets here and there are okay too, but treats do not have to be full of sugar. The ultimate tip: raid your local health food store! You will find plenty of healthy goodies and these are a few ideas to get you going:

  • Nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans)
  • Seeds (sunflower, pepitas – pumpkin seeds, etc.)
  • Trail mix
  • Dried Fruit (figs, dates, dried cranberries, etc.)
  • A dairy free, soy free dark chocolate square (a little sugar here and there is okay too! Just make sure it is a very small amount and teeth are brushed afterward)
  • All natural lip balm
  • A small bracelet or trinket (it doesn’t always have to be food)
** Note:
  • Not every box needs to be different, just make sure that repeated days are spread throughout the month.
  • You do not need much. We will get 2 dates, 5 walnuts, etc. They are just intended to be small treats to unwrap each morning.
As we eagerly await the days of family gatherings and festive feasts, these adorable calendars are the perfect way to make for a more holistically healthy and sustainable holiday! I cannot tell you how excited I am to create these for my children one day but until then, I will enjoy this final year that my grandmother is delivering these mini treats. The true testament that you are never too old for a little Christmas advent!
In countdown to our holistically healthy holidays,
Suzanne Eden

Three Ways To Get Lucky With The Rock Your Shamrock Shake

Happy St. Patrick’s day readers! 🙂

There is no shame, just shamrocks when you get lucky with this entirely holistic, St. Patties inspired shake!

A cooling blend of fresh mint, creamy bananas, crunchy cacao and a vibrant green shade, it is the glass of gold at the end of this rainy days rainbow, the lucky charm to your St. Patrick’s day and every wellness junkies drink of choice for the occasion!

With today being dedicated to all things green, this shake is sure to satisfy any indulgent craving with no shame to our diets and decked in shiny, detoxifying benefits. No matter how you choose to celebrate on the occasion, this is a blend to rock your shamrocks!

St. Patties

Holistic Highlights – How This Detoxifying Beverage Puts All Other Shakes To Shame

Natural Hue

  • Absent of artificial dyes and colourings, the vibrant green of the shake is courtesy of the sea algae Spirulina and the taste is masked entirely by peppermint. This sea algae is known for its chelating benefits by binding to toxins and heavy medals to help excrete them from our bodies.

 

The Power Of Peppermint

  • In the summer months I use handfuls of mint leaves plucked fresh from the garden but in the winter, the minty flavour is obtained with pure peppermint. Note: for optimal taste and wellness use pure peppermint as regular extracts will have both a strong taste of alcohol and a more potent flavour.
  • Mint is a natural stimulant and detoxifier. The scent alone can be enough to relieve anxiety and increase energy, the opposite of alcohol which is a depressant and will have you feeling run down and sluggish by the end of the night.

 

Sham “Rocks” 

  • The rocks of the smoothie are raw cacao nibs. Slightly bitter and a perfect pairing in this shake. Alternatively, you can use some Giddy Yoyo chocolate chunks. 
  • Cacao nibs are a rich source of antioxidants which help to neutralize and eliminate free radical toxins from our bodies.

 

Shamrock

 

The Rock Your Shamrock Shake!

 

Recipe: 

1 frozen banana 

1/2 tsp Spirulina 

1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract 

1/4 cup coconut milk 

Pure peppermint extract to taste (alternative: fresh mint leaves) 

Liquid stevia to taste 

1 Tablespoon raw cacao nibs 

 

Instructions:

Simply blend all ingredients together, except the cacao nibs, and adjust flavours as desired. Stir in cacao nibs and enjoy!

Tips and tricks: 

  • The banana makes all the difference! Make sure it is spotted brown and completely frozen for a sweet, creamy blend. 
  • Use pure extracts to avoid the bitter alcoholic flavours of conventional brands and to reap the most health benefits
  • Adjust flavours as needed. This smoothie is simple to alter depending on how large your bananas are and how you like the texture and flavour, you can play around to get your perfect shake.

 

Settling in from a brisk mornings walk along the water with this shake, chlorophyll kombuchas, and nothing but green things the whole(some) day through!

Wishing you all the luckiest and greenest of St. Patties days, 

Suzanne Eden 

Tropical State Of Mind // Five Tropical Foods To Boost Your Mood!

An escape to the tropics may be just what the doctor ordered!
handstand
Vacations have long been shown to optimize mental and physical wellbeing as they improve sleep (provided you aren’t kept up all night by two snoring parents in the bed next to you), significantly reduce stress, increase job productivity and performance, boost creativity and can significantly reduce anxiety and depression!
Though peace of mind and optimal health may very well be a flight away, it may also be just a bite away, no plane ticket needed! Food both directly and indirectly affects our mental health in intricate ways. Some foods can cause chemical reactions to naturally elevate our overall mood, provide relaxation and mental clarity. Others affect our mood by providing energy and high nutrient density delivering the raw materials for our cells to thrive. While others reduce inflammation to ease the “attack” systems of our bodies. Mental health starts from the inside out. It’s a week in Cuba served up on your dinner plate!
Here are 5 tropical foods scientifically proven to powerfully boost your mood:
banana
 
A banana a day keeps the psychiatrist at bay
  • Bananas produce dopamine quinine, a naturally occurring form of dopamine which is a “feel good” neurotransmitter in our brains. Not only are bananas at their ripest and sweetest when they are brown, but the “sweet spots” also contain the highest levels of this dopamine!
  • Bananas are also high in magnesium and B vitamins to calm our nervous system to reduce stress.
  • Complex carbohydrates aid in the absorption of tryptophan along with vitamin B6 helping convert it into the mood-elevating hormone serotonin  (one reason low carb diets may increase risk of mood disorders). This also aids in a good sleep with no worries of snoring roommates!
Sea algae
  •  among the most nutritious plant-based organisms, sea algae provides a rich source of nutrients and antioxidants which elevate energy levels to boost your mood. On top of its loaded nutrient density, this is another reason to add sea veggies to your daily green smoothies.
  • Sources: Spirulina, chlorella
 
Coco for coconuts
  • coconuts contain medium chain triglycerides which work fast in the body as brain food to rev our neurological centers and help us to feel more alert and invigorated. The scent of coconut alone has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and lower blood pressure just so long as it is not a synthetic fragrance.
Fishing for antidepressants
  •  The essential fatty acids EPA and DHA are crucial for brain health, the root of mental wellbeing on top of being highly anti-inflammatory. The omega 3’s will also assist in serotonin development in the brain to further elevate mood and have been shown to reduce depression as effectively as antidepressants, without the unwanted side effects!
  • Prescription for wellness: I recommend eating well sourced fish 1-2X/week.
Dark chocolate for a sunny disposition
  • Tropical? Heck yes! The cocoa belt (where the large majority is grown) is a narrow band up to 20 degrees of latitude north and south of the equator. Cacao (raw, unprocessed cocoa) is one of the richest sources of magnesium in food which relaxes the body and nervous system for powerful stress reduction.
  • phenylethylamine (PEA) promotes happy, euphoric feelings, and alleviates depression
  • Anandamide (the “bliss” chemical) in raw cacao is a neurotransmitter produced in the brain that can temporarily block feelings of pain and depression and may elevate dopamine levels. Chocolate also contains other chemicals that prolong these “feel-good” effects of anandamide.
  • It also contains tryptophan and serotonin! Bonus, it also has the same effect that love has in our brain without coming home with your vacation boyfriend.
  • Note: not all chocolate nor cacao is created equal. Look for quality sourced cacao and a minimum 70% dark chocolate. My favourite for both quality and taste being Giddy Yoyo 🙂

 

Your ultimate mood boosting prescription for wellness: add a little dose of the tropics to every meal this week!

In a tropical state of mind,

Suzanne Eden

Your Holistic Guide to Healthy Snacking at the Theatre & my Chocolate, Cashew Drizzled Popcorn

“Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.”

~ The Imitation Game

These past few days have found me enchanted by elves and hobbits and mystified by the mind of Alan Turing as all good movies seemed to pop their way into theatres just in time for the winter chill (in which I rather fittingly become much like a hobbit myself).
~*~
Now just think: movie theatre food, and what is likely the first thing to pop into your mind? The beloved popcorn of course! But what is lurking in that seemingly bottomless bag of buttery kernels? I did a little digging and found some sticky facts on one of Canada’s favourite movie treats and created a better than butter alternative to satisfy all of your popcorn popping indulgences.

 

Popping up some facts:
  • Popcorn MUST be purchased organic. Non-organic corn is heavily sprayed in pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers which wreak havoc on our health and the health of our environment.
According to the Globe and Mail published in 2011:
  • a large Cineplex popcorn unbuttered is the calorie and fat content equivalent of two McDonald’s Big Macs
  • The same bag having nearly a day’s worth of sodium intake

 

and that’s without butter.

According to Cineplex Entertainment’s Nutrition and Allergen guide, their liquid margarine contains these ingredients (plus a few others):

  • Soybean Oil
  • Hydrogenated Soybean Oil
  • Salt
  • Soy Protein,
  • Soy Lecithin
  • Potassium Sorbate
  • Mono & Diglycerides
  • Artificial Flavour

 

This ingredient list is high in processed soy and oils which alters their chemical composition causing them to be toxic to our bodies. Also present are artificial flavourings, preservatives and, once again, salt. Its shelf life: a minimum of three months! Real food rots. If it does not go bad, what exactly are we eating?

 

A few tips to snacking during a flick:
  • Eat when you are hungry

A movie snack is a cultural habit. Food is meant to be enjoyed when we are hungry. If you are not hungry, skip the snack and just enjoy the film.

 
  • Be a delinquent and bring your own food & drinks
  • Eat mindfully : if eating, eat BEFORE the movies

Eat during the opening credits and pay attention to the taste and flavour. You’ll be satisfied faster, longer and enjoy your food more.

  • Don’t eat during or even before a suspense, thriller or horror film.

The stress you feel in these movies actually puts our body into the “fight or flight” mode. This state activates our
sympathetic nervous system which tells the body to stop digesting so that you have more energy to flee. Of course, you’re not going anywhere but your body doesn’t know that and your digestion is compromised as a result.

  • Make healthier versions.

 A better than butter alternative popped up in my kitchen for Monday night’s movie ventures, though it was admittingly gone before I had even left for the theatre!

popcorn

 
  • Better Than Butter Popcorn:
Organic homepopped Popcorn (NOT microwaveable!)
Coconut oil
Sprinkling of Himalayan salt
Simply mix some coconut oil into your warm popcorn, tossing it around so that it melts and coats your popcorn as would butter. Sprinkle a little sea salt in and enjoy!
~*~
  • Chocolate, Cashew Drizzled Popcorn

Organic, homepopped Popcorn (again, NEVER microwaveable)

Raw, vegan dark chocolate

Raw cashews

Himalayan salt

Simply melt your chocolate in a bowl over a pot of boiling water. This will prevent it from burning and keep the delicate cocoa oils from denaturing. Lay popcorn flat on a sheet of wax paper and drizzle the warm chocolate over top, sprinkle with sea salt and pop into the fridge before enjoying. Keep cool.

Popping out of the hobbit hole for a movie date treat,

Suzanne Eden

Twas the Night Before Christmas // Festive Cranberry Pistachio Fudge

fudge

With Christmas festivities just around the corner, I’ve been busy in the kitchen in swirls of chocolate, sticky with dates and adorned in a Santa apron to bring you a very special treat. Before navigating my way to health, my specialty at our annual Christmas buffet was a fudge that took 5 ingredients and 5 minutes to make. And though smooth and rich and delightful, it was a decadent swirl of insulin spiking sugar & bodily congesting dairy, straight from a BPA laden can.

Naturally, I had to revamp this recipe and created a healthy version! One that not only takes minimal time and effort to make, but is made with only the BEST ingredients and one you would never know is secretly good for you! (In moderation of course). And ahhh, this effortless fudge delivers and is sure to be an annual staple at your holiday treat table!
What’s more: 
  • It is rich in healthy fats which signal fullness and satisfaction to the brain so that you will feel satisfied after only a few sweets
  • It is sweetened with dates: a whole food with natural fibre to reduce blood sugar spikes.
  • Raw cacao is the less processed form of cocoa and therefore retains the most nutrients found in only your highest quality dark chocolate! Among them:
    • Antioxidants
    • Magnesium
    • Iron
    • Potassium
    • Calcium
      • Bonus: since it is raw, we are not losing any of these beautifying nutrients as we would if cooking with it.
  • This fudge is:
    • Dairy free
    • Gluten free
    • Soy free
    • Refined sugar-free
    • Raw
Top Notch Ingredients: 
Here’s what to look for: 
  • Medjool dates should be soft and moist! This is critical in this recipe that is raw and needs a smooth, rich base.
  • Raw cacao can be found at a health food store and sometimes in your local grocery store in the organic section, although I always like to support small local stores whenever possible. My favourite is quality sourced Giddy Yoyo.
  • Pistachios: look for unsalted and raw.
  • Cranberries: look for sulphate and soybean oil free
  • Coconut oil: Virgin, unrefined, organic and in a glass container if possible
Festive Cranberry Pistachio Fudge
Ingredients
  • 1 C Medjool Dates
  • 3-4 tsp Coconut milk
  • 1/4 C Nut Butter (I used the mix of cashew and almond)
  • 1/2 C + 2 TBSP Raw cacao
  • 1 tsp Alcohol free vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt (to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 C Dried cranberries
  • 1/4 C Pistachios
How I make it
(Please read through the instructions first, especially the note at the bottom)
  1. Blend dates with coconut milk until smooth.
  2. Add nut butter, cacao, vanilla, salt and cinnamon and blend to desired consistency. Do not blend on high if you have a powerful blender as this could cause you to heat the mixture and the cacao to curdle. The mixture should be smooth and silky but still hold firmly.
  3. Stir in your cranberries and pistachios.
  4. Pour into a small pan lined with parchment (the size depends on how thick you want the slices of fudge to be)
  5. Pop into the fridge at least 1 hour to set before serving
Notes:
  • Now there is one issue I’ve had; sometimes the milk separates from the mixture, however it is necessary for getting that smooth, fudgy texture. So if this happens to you, don’t freak out. Simply remove the excess with a spoon and you should be just fine! Being a raw dessert, it leaves a lot of room for playing around, so don’t be discouraged. Once in the fridge, it has always worked out!
  • I used a mortor and pestle to crush some pistachios to garnish the top.
  • Holistic life hacks:
    • Whenever baking, especially with something as gooey and tempting as this fudge, it can be easy to get carried away taste testing. You have to be sure it’s juuust right, right? But here’s my trick to avoid going overboard on your bowl licking skills: keep a healthy treat at hand. Mine is a kombucha, a fermented probiotic tea with ginger. Refreshing, balancing and satisfying.
I can’t get enough of this fudge and your guests won’t be able to either! Rich, decadent and sneakily healthy, you can enjoy all of the indulgences of Christmas and still feel energized and light at the end of the night,
Wishing you a sweet, gooey, chocolatey Christmas Eve,
Suzanne Eden

Raw Lemon Raspberry Velvety Cream Chocolates

A sweet, fully raw Friday fix for you this morning!

 What began as a mouth-watering vision became a master piece of a white canvas shirt splattered in chocolate with raspberry dipped sleeves and a kitchen devoured by cashews and chocolate, lemon juice and raspberry bits. Let me assure you, it was worth every bit of the demolished shirt and stomach overstuffed from recipe tasting for these decadent bites.   But with such a rich dessert, one or two of these will satisfy your taste buds and what’s more? The high quality fats of the cashews will keep you satiated, meaning you’ll consume less and feel satisfied for longer. With a rich chocolate coating and burst of velvety, refreshing cream,  these sweet treats will satisfy both your taste buds and  your body!
Raspberry
I am thrilled to announce that I initially made these to be featured in the upcoming Jesse Lane cookbook but I’ve had permission to share them with you on here first! The second time I made them (learning my lesson and salvaging my remaining white shirts) was for my brother and new sister- in- law’s celebration of their recent wedding. They had the most gorgeous day anyone could ask for and enough leftover food to last them a month.
Don’t let them fool you, though a little time-consuming, these chocolates are easy!

Why We Steer Clear of Packaged Chocolates

  • Sugar and dairy and soy, oh my!
    • Packaged chocolates are typically bite sized morsels of decadent death. Just about everything we are trying to avoid for optimal health and wellness is morphed into these sneakily small packages.
  • Small but mighty
    • Being very tiny, we psychologically underestimate their effect. This can happen in a few ways: We end up eating more than we think, we underestimate their effect to wreak havoc on our bodies. (how could something so small be so harmful?) and we feel we need more of it in order to satisfy our sweet tooth.
  • Post munch slump
    • These chocolates will spike our blood sugar causing us to crave more sweets once, shortly after, our blood sugar crashes taking our energy levels with it.
These raw homemade chocolates are designed to combat these common issues:
  • Moderation here won’t be a problem as the fat content of the cashews will help to prevent a major spike in our blood sugar. It will also create a psychological feeling of satiety to help you feel full faster and keep you full longer. This is further enhanced by the richness of the cream, psychologically signalling your sweet tooth satisfaction.
  • How do we curb a sweet tooth? By increasing the healthy fat and protein content of our diet. These chocolates do just that with the cashews helping to curb your sweet needs without overindulgence.
  • They are dairy free, soy free, palm oil free, preservative free & refined sugar-free. This is a treat worthy of your body!
Where Pleasure Meets Quality
Cramming as much health in as possible:
It all comes down to properly sourcing your products. Here’s how to keep them satisfying your taste buds as well as your health:
  • Cashews – cashews are a definite treat as they have a high toxicity warning. However, they make for a great occasional treat that a healthy body will be able to handle. What to look for: raw, unsalted, organic cashews in an air tight container. Be sure to check your sourcing as most some raw cashews have in fact gone through some heat processing at some point during their manufacturing. And the air tight casing? This means no Bulk Barn. When left exposed to air, the delicate oils in nuts and seeds will go rancid, turning these beautifully healthy fats into holistic nightmares that will wreak havoc on your health and waistline.
  • Chocolate: Look for a raw, organic, vegan and soy free dark chocolate bar. You want at least 70% dark chocolate as the higher the content, the less sugar is added in. Also, aim for sweeteners such as coconut sugar instead of cane sugar. Coconut sugar is low on the glycemic index so it won’t spike your blood sugar the way other sweeteners will.
  • Lemon : this recipe calls for the rind and so it’s imperative that you purchase organic produce as the rind is where you’ll find the toxins and that’s just not an appealing ingredient in any dish.
  • Honey : Look for a high quality, raw honey from a pure source. You will typically need to look to your health food store rather than the conventional supermarket. A good quality honey is abundance in sweet nutrients.

chocolate

Lemon Raspberry Velvety Cream Chocolates

Ingredients

1 cup cashews
5 tbsp fresh lemon juice
½ tsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract (alcohol free)
1 cup frozen raspberries
3 tsp honey
1 tbsp melted coconut oil
Pinch of salt
1-2 of your favourite vegan, soy free, dark chocolate bars

Filling

  • Soak cashews in 2 cups of water for 2-4 hours. Drain.
  • Combine all ingredients, excluding the chocolate, in a food processor until smooth and creamy.
  • In a pan over low heat, melt the chocolate bar in a little coconut oil to avoid burning.
  • Fill ice cube trays with a soft, pushable bottom or chocolate molds with some of the chocolate, pour a dab (I pipped mine in for ease but either way will work) of the lemon raspberry cream in the centre and pour the rest of the chocolate over-top, just enough to cover the cream.
  • Pop in the fridge to cool and set overnight.
  • In the morning, carefully remove (you may need to leave the out of the fridge for 10-20minutes first) and savour! Store in the fridge to avoid oxidation of your delicious fats and to keep these chocolates fresh.
The lemon squeeze:
A funny thing happened when we tried these and you can weigh in too. My family came back to our house to try some left over chocolates. Some of my eager taste testers experienced far more lemon, others far more raspberry. It seemed a different flavour took precedence for each person.
.
I am personally a raspberry, I find the raspberry hits a strong flavour on my tongue with a subtle enhancement of lemon.
Are you team lemon or team raspberry?
The switch up:
There are so many inventive ways to use this cream cheese like filling. Here are a few:
  • Raw Lemon raspberry cheesecake using a nut and date crust
  • Raw Cake/Cupcake frosting

 Seat of the soul

As we move into the tail end of the week, how has your practice of gratitude come? Did you notice a lot of absentminded negativity during the swear jar challenge? This is normal. The good news is that in the same way negativity can compress into habit, positivity can expand into habit. This is what the gratitude journal is doing for you: shifting your focus, developing habits that serve you and expanding your positive energy. You can only invite more positives into your life!
Need something to put in your gratitude journal this weekend? Make these chocolates, savour a few, and pass them on!
In decadent spatters of chocolate & raspberry,
Suzanne Eden