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

Superfood Cranberry Chocolate Macaroons

Ever wonder what to make to delight the taste buds of the shamelessly picky eaters and health nuts alike? This, right here, is your fix!  I have made this treat for just about every occasion this year from house parties to Christmas gatherings and they are always an instant hit. The best part? They take about 15minutes to make, have minimal ingredients, require zero baking, and have some superfood benefits! What originally began as Kimberly Snyder’s recipe from her book became a smash hit with my friends and family alike and lead me to create my own spin and thus: the delectable cranberry chocolate macaroon was born!

raw macaroons
Just yesterday I demoed these treats for a class of fellow holistic-practitioners-in-the-making and for Joy McCarthy from http://www.joyoushealth.ca/. Today I brought another batch to share with the rest of campus which were gone in a chocolatey flash and received requests for more. So I will once again be getting chocolate covered in my kitchen with more macaroon making to share this upcoming week!
These are:
  • Dairy free
  • Soy free
  • Refined sugar free
  • Flour free
  • Gluten and wheat free
  • Nut free
  • Egg free
  • Pretty much anything but sheer goodness free!
Your quick guide to super packing these bites with nutrition:
  • Raw cacao is less processed than cocoa, high in antioxidants for anti-aging, and has energizing and mood enhancing effects.
  • Cinnamon is an anti-inflammatory, stabilizes blood sugar and boosts brain function! This is my secret ingredient for anything chocolate to enhance and add depth to the rich flavours.
  • Maple syrup – may I take a moment to redirect you to my article on the 8 facts about maple syrup that make it just plain sweet, here: https://lifeofeden.com/2014/07/02/8-facts-about-maple-syrup-that-make-it-just-plain-sweet/
    But as wonderful as it is, please remember that this is also a treat and not an everyday staple and that  buying real, high quality syrup is the only way to go to reap its beneficial properties.
  • Vanilla – If opting for the vanilla extract, look for one that is organic and alcohol free.
  • Himalayan salt can be replaced with a high quality sea salt. I like Himalayan because it adds depth to the rich flavours of the macaroon.
  • Dried cranberries and coconut – for both of these you want to be aware of what is in them. Sneaky things such as sulfites and unwanted oils or soy may find their way in, so be sure to check the labels.

 

Warning: Though a raw macaroon may make a room full of nutritionists swoon, those not so nutrition savvy may be high tailing it in the opposite direction. I am constantly reminded of this by the look on my families face when I say that I’ve made something “healthy”! They are not quite so enthusiastic, sporting an expression that says they think I’ve made a macaroon from kale and sauerkraut rather than chocolatey goodness. The trick ? Think as though you’re mischievously sneaking brussels sprouts into your child’s dinner and omit the fact that they are relatively healthy until after your guests are gushing for more. They would never know 😉
Ingredients:
Dry:

  • 2 Cups coconut flakes
  • ½ Cup Raw cacao powder
  • 1/8 tsp Himalayan salt
  • ½ tsp Powdered stevia
  • ½ tsp Cinnamon

Wet:

  • ½ tsp Vanilla extract or the seeds of 1 vanilla bean
  • ½ Cup Maple syrup
  • 1/3 Cup Dried cranberries

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients.
  2. Add in wet ingredients and stir until fully combined. Add the dried cranberries in last.
  3. Scoop into small, macaroon sized balls and place on parchment, putting them in the freezer for at least 3-4 hours before serving or in the fridge overnight.
  • Best served the next day but can be stored in the fridge after that.

So there you have it! I am so excited for you to give these a try and, if you’re anything like me in the kitchen; become a sweet, gooey, chocolate covered macaroon making machine from here on out!

Suzanne Eden