Almond Cacao: 'coffee' for health-lovers
a quick delicious recipe...
...I have to share, especially for those who feel they drink too much coffee.
I work from home, painting usually, and often I'm alone. I like my own company luckily. I love the silence. I want my work-space to be drama-free, serene, calm. And I want to feel so too. When I have a day of painting ahead, I look forward to creating a nurturing atmosphere and environment in which to work. I light candles, I make sure clutter is cleared away, the washing up done, admin dealt with. And I'm good to go. Unless, unless... I drink too much coffee. Well no-one's watching, they don't know it's my, um, fourth cup in three hours plus I combine decaffeinated espresso with the hard stuff in my Italian stove-top espresso-maker so it's ok, yes? My poor bod doesn't think so. When I paint I need frequent breaks - my arm that holds the palette gets stiff and won't move, my back aches from standing and my eyes literally start seeing double. So when I break I make a hot drink. Usually coffee, and if I drink it at pretty much every break throughout the morning the original mood of serenity and well-being transforms into a kind of caffeinated exhaustion, anxious thoughts and a heaviness in my body. And then I can't focus. I've also found that if I've had a glass of wine the night before I paint, I don't see so clearly - the colours aren't as obvious and my eyes don't focus so well. Therefore healthy habits are crucial. And I feel so much more able and positive about my work and pretty much everything when I do. I know I'm not alone - so many people are self-employed now, and as a result keeping healthy habits up is important for a sense of well-being, focus and productivity.
So what can I make myself in those breaks, when I want something hot and comforting (herbal and green teas don't fit the bill in the mornings, much as I've tried to persuade myself they do)? Decaffeinated coffee, even Lavazza's own, just makes me wonder why I'm pouring this bitter-tasting acid down my throat. And I've never been into hot chocolate, sweet hot drinks not really being my thing.
When Planet Organic opened in Wandsworth a couple of years ago I was pretty damned excited. I am passionate about natural food and love watching my boys tuck into things that are entirely natural and nourishing. Taking care of myself is something I've had to learn how to do, being pretty useless at it for most of my life, and giving myself and my family good, nutritious, often organic food is part of that. Being wheat intolerant and I suspect dairy too, a shop like that is a dream, I can look after myself properly without resorting to either hunger or rubbish to substitute a sandwich or bowl of pasta.
A series of events yesterday morning led to an impromptu meeting with my great pal Adam for a quick post school drop-off 'coffee' at Planet Organic. Adam loves good coffee as much as I do. He admitted he'd had too much already that morning so was scanning the menu for something else. I recommended Almond Cacao. He hadn't tried it. We both ordered and savoured every sip. It's bitterness comes from the raw cacao, but there's a hint of sweetness from the coconut nectar. And it has a subtle, nutty, nourishing quality that makes you feel like you're wrapped in a warm blanket. So after our chat, before heading back home on my bike to paint, I wandered round the shop buying the ingredients that were listed on the menu and threw them together. It's beyond simple, but it's such a good mixture. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. And it's certainly a great healthy, tasty, treaty alternative to crazy caffeine-headedness.
3/4 cup almond milk
1/4 cup coconut milk (not the can kind, the carton kind, like Chi)
1 tablespoon sieved raw cacao powder
1 or 2 teaspoons coconut nectar (depending on how sweet you like it)
1. Heat the two milks together (if you have a milk frother it works really well to create a kind of cappucino effect).
2. Stir your sieved cacao powder in whilst it's still hot enough to dissolve. (if you don't sieve it, you get a lot of lumps!)
3. Add the coconut nectar.
So easy, and so good.
The test was giving it my chocolate-loving 9 year old son. He had no idea what was in it. And he drank it, then made his own version, using cow's milk, almond milk, raw cacao and honey. So no refined sugar in his hot chocolate ever again (although he says otherwise...).