New Class Now Offered!

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New Recipe Example

Photo by botamochi/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by botamochi/iStock / Getty Images

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Nut-free Tahini Banana

As our last days in the Costa Rican forest approach, we are very much enjoying making the most of local ingredients and concocting new recipes from the random army of foods we have lying around our hotchpotch little kitchen. While the natural flavours of local organic fruit like these bananas is so beautiful and vibrant, cooking without my favourite things like almond butter or hemp seeds is always a challenge. And yet it’s always in these times of snooping and scavenging around for that final perfect ingredient that some of my favourite recipes are born; this is one of them: little balls of power that – for once – don’t contain nuts and are super quick and easy, and a clean and nutritious source of energy and flavour. So many shop bought snacks rely so heavily on nuts, binders and sugars to pack in taste and a decent shelf-life, and moving away from these is often a welcome move for your body whether you’re allergic to nuts or just a little over-reliant on them, as most healthy eaters can be. Tahini and sunflower seeds give us good protein and fats, while blood-sugar balancing cinnamon keeps hunger pangs at bay.

I can’t yet vouch for how these taste back home with non-native bananas but I can say that this little batch didn’t hang around long. Between satsangs, meditations and hot afternoon hikes down to the river, they flew out of the fridge and into our mouths without us even noticing. And then they were gone.

Now to use up the cacao…

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Makes about 8

Ingredients:

2 mashed bananas

1 cup rolled oats

2 tbsp sunflower seeds

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 tbsp thick honey

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 tbsp tahini

1 tsp ground cinnamon

A pinch of salt

Black sesame seeds to sprinkle

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and adjust any flavours to taste. If you like your spices you might want extra cinnamon or even to add a sprinkle of ground ginger as well. Leave for ten minutes to allow the chia to absorb any liquid, then roll into balls in the palms of your hands, sprinkle of roll in a little black sesame, and place in the fridge to set. Serve cold and store in an airtight container for up to three days.

The Perfect Cacao Shot

My ever deepening love of cacao is no secret. In a ceremony, a chocolate bar, or just as crunchy nibs and beans, the plant is one of my favourite allies and the love goes far beyond mere chocoholism.

This adoration and respect was recently compounded by our third trip to Costa Rica, where achingly delicious cacao shots present themselves at all hours of the day (see recipe below), and the strongest ceremony we have taken part in to date, with Joel and Aiste from Wild Food Cafe (more of which can be read here, along with lessons in letting go of should and opening to the here and now – cacao optional). Recreating this delicious drink which brings us so much joy in the forest has been a great pleasure and something of a necessity when your average smoothie or chocolate bar just won’t do back home in London. Packed with antioxidants, heart-opening theobromine and MAO-inhibitors, raw cacao in high quantities can have real, tangible effects on your mood and your day.

And since I am a big believer in bringing a little ceremony and ritual into the everyday, whipping up some of this and asking it to open our hearts just a little bit more, feels like a fitting way to honour its deliciousness. Or, you can just down it in one like Ben.

The cacao butter isn’t always a usual household ingredient for some people but it really adds the fats and creaminess here and I would recommend tracking some down if only for this magical purpose. And anyway, then the world of homemade raw chocolates opens up to you and cooking begins to take on a whole new dimension…

Makes 2 large cups or 3 shots

Ingredients

2 cups / 500ml water

3 tbsp cacao powder

2 tbsp cacao nibs or beans

1/2 cup cashews

2 tbsp melted cacao butter

1 tbsp chopped ginger

a pinch of pink salt

1 tbsp honey (or more to taste)

a pinch of cayenne

3 cardamom pods

Blend the water and cashews on a high speed until creamy. Then add the rest of the ingredients except the cacao butter, blend on a medium / high speed and slowly add the butter as you go, until everything is smooth and well mixed. Adjust any sweetness, saltiness or spice to taste and – ideally – chill for twenty or so minutes before serving.

Store in the fridge for up to three days.