Category Archives: Cacao Beans

Pantry Staples at Hills Homestead

Pantry
Hills Homestead Pantry Staples

A large number of people (mainly Thermomix customers) have asked what my pantry staples are, so that it’s easier to make food ‘from scratch’ and additive free.  I did put this list together rather quickly, so I will most likely be adding items to it again soon.  Thank you Kirsty Keys (from BK Wines) for asking me about my pantry just this week, as it motivated me to complete my list.

Pantry:

Bakers Flour – for our ‘everyday bread’, I buy in 10kg bags (Foodland, Honest to Goodness)

Organic Whole Wheat Bakers Flour

Whole Buckwheat (to mill down for gluten-free flour)

Spelt Flour

Rye Flour (for sourdough starter)

Rolled Oats – for Thermomix porridge, Anzac biscuits, milling down as fillers for muffins/bliss balls

Quinoa –  always soaked/cooked/then cooled and kept in the fridge for a quick lunch, with left over roast vegetable and feta cheese.

Instant Dried Yeast

Cornflour (I used to buy the Nurses brand as it was cheaper, but now I’ve found out that the White Wings brand is the only ‘corn’flour made of purely ‘corn’.)

Arrowroot starch – for gluten free cooking/baking, use as a thickner also.

Bicarb soda – used for cooking  and  cleaning  (Bob’s Red Mill – Aluminium free)

Baking powder  – to make Self Raising flour (Bob’s Red Mill – Aluminium free)

Cream of Tartar – to make Self Raising flour

Oils – Extra Virgin Olive Oil (cold pressed), Grapeseed Oil (for mayonnaise etc), Avocado Oil, Coconut Oil (I buy in 10L containers from Loving Earth ,

Vinegars – Apple Cider Vinegar (with the ‘mother’… see stockists here), white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar.

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Coarse Sea salt / Rock Salt  – to mill down in the Thermomix with a sheet of Nori (seaweed) to use as our everyday ‘table’ salt and for all cooking.  We have Himalayan (Pink) Salt crystals in a grinder to use at meal times.

Coconut milk and Coconut Cream – full fat, always using in Indian cooking and  in a dairy free coconut/caramel custard (see Quirky Jo’s recipe here  )

Brown Rice (to have with curries) and Italian Aborio Rice (for risottos) and Basmati Rice

Organic Popcorn – to pop for school lunchbox fillers, I buy it 5kg at a time from Honest to Goodness.

Wholemeal pasta / spagetti

Vanilla Beans – Vanilla Extract (homemade.. see how I make it here with just Vodka and some Vanilla Beans) – Vanilla Bean Paste

Tea – Dilmah, Rooibos – a South African caffeine-free tea (see here for health benefits), Planet Organic, Nerada Organic / Coffee Beans –  Organic, Fairtrade if possible

Honey / Peanut Butter / Vegemite / Homemade Jam.

Cans/Jars  –  Canned pineapple (for pizza), Baked Beans (Charlie still likes bought Baked Beans!), Tomato soup (I try to make, but handy to have store bought in a can!), Tomato paste (for pizzas, I try to make but again, sometimes needed urgently!) , Tuna in spring water, Red Kidney Beans (to make this amazing gluten free ‘magic bean’ chocolate cake)

Dark Chocolate blocks – to more expensive usually means better ingredients (ie Lindt chocolate), chop in the Thermomix to make own choc chips or mill in Thermomix to make ‘grated’ chocolate

2013-02-03_2342CacaoBeansSourDoCacao beans / Cacao nibs / Cacao powder – see the differences here.  I do have some Cacao butter sitting in my pantry ready to make my own chocolate one day!!

Honey (raw and local if possible, our bees aren’t providing much at the moment so we’re having to buy it)

Black Strap Molasses – I use this (along with brown sugar!) to add minerals to my homemade water kefir (ginger beer).   My Gramps used this as a ‘medicine’ for almost anything… and he also used it mixed up with chaff to feed his cows!

Rapadura sugar / Stevia / Coconut sugar  /  Refined white sugar (for making jam to sell at road-side stall)

Pure Maple Syrup ($10 / bottle at grocery store, but so much nicer that Maple Flavoured Syrup, and better for you)

Dried fruit    – I buy huge amount of dates (they are one of the few dried fruits you can get that don’t have sulphites added to preserve them)

–  sultanas     – bought in bulk from Honest to Goodness 

– dried apricots – difficult and expensive to get sulphite-free, so sometimes I buy them from a supermarket, sometimes from a market, and sometimes we can buy apricots in bulk and make our own.

Adding the almonds, pistachio kernels, and sunflower kernels....

Nuts – I have huge jars stored high up in the pantry (away from kids that are allergic to nuts), peanuts, macadamias, cashews, almonds, walnuts.

Seeds – linseeds and sunflower seeds (for gluten-free bread and for bliss balls and muesli bars), Chia seeds, pepitas, sesame seeds.

Onions (brown and red) stored in brown paper bags with holes punched in them;  Potatoes; Pumpkins  09-2013-04-08_4427Autumn Garden

Homemade preserved peaches/pears/apple

Rice Cakes and Vita Wheat Biscuits as fillers in lunch boxes –   I don’t usually keep up with making all savoury biscuits from scratch!  I occasionally make up a batch of sourdough crackers that are lovely and so good for you.

Spices –   coriander seeds  /  fresh ginger  /  paprika / nutmeg (whole and ground) / cloves / chilli powder / cinnamon (sticks and ground) / ginger (ground) / cumin seeds and fegugreek seeds and mustard seeds (for Indian Cooking);

‘ all spice’ berries and cardamom pods (from Organic market) to make my favourite Chai Tea Concentrate;  whole black peppercorns, curry powder

Hanging up on the wall by the stove – garlic / chillis (tied with string to dry, then you just grab one or two as you need them) /  rosemary  /  thyme  /  bay leaves.

In large bowls I pop oranges / limes / lemons (locally grown lemons).  I peel the lemons and use this zest to mill up in the Thermomix to colour and flavour custards/sorbets/ dressings etc.  I pop sliced lemon in my water jug.

Currently I only have sage (HUGE amounts) and a bit of parsley and oregano in the garden, would love to have fresh basil!!

10-2013-04-08_4429Autumn Garden Fresh Eggs   2012-11-18_112T Rex Kefir

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fridge:  Eggs (from our chooks)

Raw milk (we have a dairy cow!  Other Adelaide sources are via a cow share program from First Fruits and a few dairies around Adelaide that sell ‘bath milk’)

Fresh veges and fruit

Thermomix Vegetable Stock Concentrate  (recipe here)

Homemade Red Thai Curry Paste (Thermomix Everyday Cookbook recipe)

Homemade tomato sauce  (recipe here) and homemade sweet chill sauce.

Homemade mayonnaise (garlic/egg/mustard/Grapeseed oil)

Cheese – Tasty cheese, Parmesan cheese, Philly Cheese (for dips)

Homemade Thermomix Natural Yoghurt (mix with honey and vanilla extract)

Freezer:  Beans and Corn on the cob  – grown and blanched and stored in plastic Ziploc bags

Homemade (Thermomix) chocolate and vanilla icecream

Leftover Thermomix sorbet in plastic containers ready for school lunches

A huge tub of frozen homemade mini pizzas, scrolls, rolls ready to grab for school lunches

‘Homegrown’ beef/lamb

Breadcrumbs –  crusts of our homemade bread, milled down in the Thermomix and stored in freezer in Ziploc bags

Ziploc bags filled with peeled frozen bananas / blackberries (home grown)/ raspberries (home grown)

Note:  this pantry/fridge/freezer has developed over a few years (ie I’ve had a Thermomix for nearly 3 years now, prior to having the Thermomix I would never need or use 1/2 of the above ingredients).  Also my amazing husband and father-in-law are the one’s providing the raw milk / grass-fed beef / fresh eggs / home grown fruit and vegetables.

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DSC_0830   2013-02-24_2814KarenBStudySourd          Autumn Garden and Kids-008       12-DSC_0827                                  Measuring flour Sourdough loaf fresh from the oven         Autumn Garden and Kids-006

Glass bottles - ready for raw milk distribution!

Our bee hive and raw honey.
Our bee hive and raw honey.

morning routines       .

 

.. and just a photo to show you how real food cooking and ‘making everything from scratch’ is MESSY… you are continually in the kitchen making messes and cleaning up messes!

Morning mess!08-DSC_0837

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Cacao Beans – Health Benefits & satisfy that chocolate craving – Cacao bean recipe!!!!

I have now found many uses for my cacao(chocolate!)  beans!!  AND many reasons why it’s great to eat them!

What are cacao beans?

Milling Cocao Beans

I found the following picture on Facebook that shows the Cacao Bean and the various forms it comes in – it helped me work out what I need when I experiment with making chocolate!!!

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Picture above:  My Cacao Beans in my Thermomix – ready to be milled for a recipe.

  • Cacao beans are small, quite bitter (if you eat them ‘raw’), and brown in colour.
  • It is a seed of the fruit of a tree in the Amazon jungles!
  • The natives used cacao as a medicine – it was used to build strength, help digestion, decrease fatigue, anaemia, and fevers.
  • Nearly all of the world’s cacao trees are grown on small family farms because cacao farming is labour-intensive and time-consuming (Source: Harcourt-Cooze, Willie 2010 “Willie’s Chocolate Bible” Hodder & Stoughtom Great Britain)
  • The word ‘cacao’ actually means ‘cocoa’.   Apparently the Brittish found it difficult to pronounce the word ‘cacao’ – or ‘ka-cow’ – so it’s been ‘cocoa’ to us all ever since!
  • So cacao is chocolate!   ” All the antioxidant value, mineral benefits, neurotransmitter rejuvenating properties, and overall health-giving qualities of chocolate are found in Cacao Beans! ” (Source: here)
  • Theobroma cacao, which literally means “Cacao, the food of the gods.”
  • Cacao is actually one of the great weight loss foods because it contains the minerals and molecules that shut off the appetite.
  • It is one of nature’s most fantastic superfoods due to its mineral content and other varied properties.
  • Recent research shows that dark chocolate stimulates feel-good endorphins, contains flavonoids (a powerful antioxidant), serotonin (which acts as an anti-depressant), and may be beneficial to blood circulation and helpful in lowering blood pressure. (Source: Harcourt-Cooze, Willie 2010 “Willie’s Chocolate Bible” Hodder & Stoughtom Great Britain)
  • I originally bought the cacao beans because I’d been reading about their health benefits.

Health Benefits of Cacao Beans?

Cacao beans are JAM PACKED with nutrients, and I’m keen to include them somehow in my daily diet.

  • They are powerful ANTI-OXIDENTS: more antioxidants than any other food! (Sources here and here)

“Antioxidants are substances that may protect your cells against the effects of free radicals. Free radicals are molecules produced when your body breaks down food, or by environmental exposures like tobacco smoke and radiation. Free radicals can damage cells, and may play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Source: Medline:Plus    Do you know what other diseases are caused by free-radicals?

Some of the degenerative conditions caused by free radicals include:

  • Deterioration of the eye lens, which contributes to blindness.
  • Inflammation of the joints (arthritis).
  • Damage to nerve cells in the brain, which contributes to conditions such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Acceleration of the ageing process.
  • Increased risk of coronary heart disease, since free radicals encourage low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol to adhere to artery walls.
  • Certain cancers, triggered by damaged cell DNA.                        (Source: here)

The list is not to scare you! but to make us realise that we need lots of anti-oxidents in our diet.     Getting food sources of anti-oxidents is so important.  Some studies suggest that antioxidants are less effective when isolated from food and presented in tablet form.    Another source states that “research indicates that simply taking antioxidant supplements is not the best way to go about getting what your body needs. In fact, it’s possible that some of these supplements could be harmful. Fortunately, research is also increasingly showing that you can reap the potential health benefits of antioxidant intake by eating a diet rich in antioxidant-containing foods”.

Great sources of anti-oxidents are blueberries, blackberries, green tea, coffee, red wine, spinach, pistachios, almonds, And for dessert — Don’t forget that a piece of dark chocolate ranks as high or higher than most fruits and vegetables in terms of antioxidant content (Source here).  Notice they are mostly dark foods!

Now back to cacao beans (a nice dark food!), apparently they contain more anti-oxidents than ANY OTHER FOOD (Sources here and  here).

“Now blueberries are quite dark too, and they’re often thought of as being fantastic for our skin [and a great source of anti-oxidents] . But while blueberries contain 32 antioxidants, and wild blueberries contain 61 antioxidants, cacao beans contain an unbelievable 621 anti-oxidants!!! That is an insanely high amount”. (Sources here and here)   This is because the antioxidants are so concentrated –  antioxidants known as polpyphenols make up more than 10 percent of the weight of dry raw cocoa beans.

  • They contain an amazing amount of CHROMIUM, more than ANY other food! (Source here)

The top five chromium health benefits are:     1. Monitors the blood sugar      2. Aids metabolism    3. Reduces food cravings     4. Regulates fat and cholesterol    5. Prevents hypertension  (Source: here)

and chromium aids in weightloss (because it helps metabolism and reduces food cravings) (source: here).

  • They are a great source of MAGNESIUM, and again, the beans contain more magnesium than ANY OTHER FOOD!! (Sources here and  here)

“Magnesium: Cacao seems to be the 1 source of magnesium of any food. Magnesium is one of the great alkaline minerals. It helps to support the heart, brain, and digestive system (it fights constipation). Magnesium is also important for building strong bones. This is likely the primary reason women crave chocolate during the monthly cycle. Magnesium balances brain chemistry, builds strong bones, and is associated with more happiness. Magnesium is the most deficient major mineral on the Standard American Diet (SAD); over 80% of Americans are chronically deficient in Magnesium! Cacao has enough magnesium to help reverse these deficiencies.” (Source)

Magnesium deficiency — here are just a few:  anxiety, asthma, bowel problems, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, diabetes, fibromyalgia, food cravings (chocolate is high in Mg!), headaches (including migraines), heart disease, hyperactivity, infertility, menstrual cramps, mitral valve prolapse, muscle cramps and/or tics, osteoporosis, tremors, wheezing and the list goes on and on… (Source)  I’ve also read about how magnesium deficiency is linked to experiencing morning sickness whilst pregnant (Source).

The is a lot more detailed information in the book “The Magnesium Miracle” and see here for more information on weaning off of anti-depressants and the importance of magnesium.

  • They contain high levels of Vitamin C.

I’d rather get some raw cacao beans into my diet rather than a little pill containing all of the above!

NOTE: The chocolate we eat usually contains no more than 5 to 10% cacao, the rest is fat and sugar and other additives.   Today’s chocolate, according to Willie, has been “diluted and polluted”, has almost nil health benefits.  So my recipes will be containing cacao beans in their raw state as well as other healthy whole ingredients.

I found a recipe that uses cacao beans and some other amazingly healthy ingredients AND tastes yummy.

I have cut it into bite sized pieces (like chocolate) and the kids LOVE them, I love them, and we can have one a day like a tablet – because it’s so full of goodness.

I have modified a recipe that I found in a book Rawlicious – Raw Food recipes for everyday! by Thermomix (you can find the book here).

I’ve called them…

Sweet Cacao Bean Bites

Cacao Bean Bites

 What you need / INGREDIENTS

55g Cacao Beans  (peeled or unpeeled – I used unpeeled)

75g Chia Seeds  (these are called ‘nature’s complete superfood’ – they contain more Omega 3 and Dietary Fibre than any other food from nature)

75g  mixture of whatever nuts/seeds you have in your pantry (I used sunflower kernels and almonds)

50g Pistachio Kernels

60g Raw Honey

Pinch of Sea Salt

(I then added a few drops of Peppermint Oil – I LOVED it – but the kids weren’t so keen, so I made it ‘plain’ next time)

METHOD

1. Mill the Cacao Beans –

(Thermomix: Mill for 20 seconds on Speed 10)

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2.  Add the rest of the ingredients.

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3.  Blend until well combined

(Thermomix: 40 seconds on Speed 7)

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4.  Press into a container on some baking paper (or a baking sheet) and refrigerate until you want to eat it!

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5. Peel off baking paper and cut into small ‘chocolate piece’ sizes.

2013-02-03_2396CacaoBeansSourDoCacao Bean Bites

6.  Store in the fridge.

Method Summary… in pictures…

Milling Cocao Beans

Method for choc cacao bean recipe

 

   Enjoy!

 

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PS I bought my Cacao Beans from Loving Earth – $12.50 for 250g – at the moment, Loving Earth have FREE shipping on orders over $50!

 

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