I am a lifelong desert lover. And as of the last 10 or so years, I'm a healthy desert lover.
I'm also a huge fan of simple recipes, with whole, raw ingredients.
Over time, my approach to breakfast has evolved. I'll take you through the trenches, sharing my 2-minute recipes that literally even toddlers can make.
It started with a scoop of peanut butter; a heaping tablespoon of peanut butter made with one ingredient - organic peanuts (okay, maybe sea salt too) - into which I'd mash one banana. In high school I called this delicious combo "soup" (catchy, eh?).
Then I discovered cacao nibs - essentially the dried, fermented center of the cacao bean. It's bitter, but it's great paired with the sweetness of banana. I'd sprinkle some on top (about 1-2 tablespoons). Voila, soup and nibs. (recipe #1)
I started moving away from peanut butter - various reasons (rancidity, nutrition profile, etc.) and instead paired 1 tbs almond butter with a banana. Still wonderful. Still worked well with a heap of cacao nibs. To amp up the nutrients even more, I'd add 1-2 tbs of hemp seeds on top. I started calling my creation "banana mash". In case you're wondering, that's where the name still stands today. (recipe #2)
Over time I decided I wanted less nuts and more coconut oil in my diet. I'd mash up 1 heaping tablespoon of coconut oil in a banana. The best masher is the flat side of a fork, by the way. I like to mash mine until it's smooth. Then I added in some amazing spices to add some medicinal benefits, like cinnamon (1 tsp), coriander (1 tsp), nutmeg (1/2 tsp). These are approximate amounts and sometimes I'd double the coconut oil and double or triple the spices. With lots of cacao nibs and hemp seeds on top. When I got lazy (or productive - close call) I'd pre-mix the nibs and seeds and keep them in a mason jar for easy pouring. (recipe #3)
One vacation, I forgot to bring cacao nibs with me. The horror! But, given the way they were getting stuck in my teeth, forcing me to brush my teeth again after breakfast, I was relieved to try a new idea with ingredients on hand. I added 2 tbs of organic, raw cacao powder into my banana and coconut oil mash. Ah-mazing. With or without cinnamon. (recipe #4 - as shown in the pictures below)
Lately, I've been aiming to use less oils in my diet. The most recent, stripped down and simplest version yet is this: 1 banana, 2 tbs of cacao powder. I often repeat to fill my belly. (recipe #5)
It's worth noting that I don't drink caffeine in the morning, and the cacao has a subtle wake-up factor without the steamroller effect of coffee. One tablespoon contains 12mg of caffeine, 1/8 the content of a cup of coffee. As you dial it up, you're also dialing up a natural, nutrient-rich, and bliss-chemical laden source of caffeine.
I'm happy to answer questions and would love to learn about your favorite cacao recipes in the comments!
Cacao has been a constant companion in my life.
Like most in the western world, I came across cacao initially in its most familiar form: chocolate.
It had me at hello. And yet, our connection was so superficial. It centered on the way chocolate met my tastebuds, how that flavor made me feel. And that flavor was heavily mediated by white sugar, essentially a drug that causes a quick high and then a crash.
How could I really have appreciated cacao under those terms?
Over time, as I expelled most sugar from my diet, I discovered the joys of raw cacao. I'd put cacao nibs on top of food, and use cacao powder to make raw chocolate, hot chocolate, and for countless desserts (one of my family favorites is avocado chocolate pudding).
As I got to know cacao on its own terms, I learned more of its nuances - the complexity of its taste, its ability to awaken me and connect me with my innate vitality.
And then I made a discovery that took me deeper still. Cacao is revered as a food of the gods in Mayan and Aztec cultures, utilized to open and heal the depths of the heart. As mystical resources make their way around the globe, Cacao ceremonies from the south are moving upwards to north America.
Using the timeless shamanic tool of journeying, I was able to meet cacao on a soul level.
Our powerful meeting opened my heart, showed me a deeper pathway leading from the heart south into the lower chakras, where we store old wounds. For an hour following the cacao journey, I felt invigorated and strengthened. Ironically, it was while eating a square of store-bought dark chocolate that those powerful sensations left my body.
Cacao has become my ally, a plant spirit I connect with for enhanced energy and guidance.
If you're in the greater Boston area, I invite you to join me on the evening of March 2 for a Sacred Cacao Ceremony at Akasha. If not, I encourage you to seek out Cacao Ceremony near you, or engage cacao directly.
Have you journeyed or performed ceremony with cacao? I'd love to hear about your experience in the comments!