Electric Roots: Cooking with Medicinal Herbs
Oh, our poor hearts! How they break, bleed and yet, still work so hard for us. Everyday, while we go from one activity to the next, our hearts are working hard–pumping blood through our bodies, delivering vital oxygen and helping to pull toxins away from tissues, and working with other body systems to keep us thriving. So much is happening around us right now, many hard truths are coming to light. What better time to get in tune with our warrior hearts than now?
As for me this month? I am also getting in tune with and following my heart. As such, I am going to be teaching some cooking classes at the Shoppe (stay tuned!) and possibly more. When I started this column for the newsletter my friend, Qijoty, who was the editor at the time, said, “Hey what do u want your column to be called? I need a name” And I said “Uhh how about Chef Nige? Herb chef? No, just call it Chef Nige, yeah that’s good.” Nige is one of my names, the name my dearest friends refer to me as. It only seemed appropriate I share myself in this way. Moving onwards and upwards, this column has prepared me to share even more of myself and has morphed itself into its own. The column and my events and wherever else it goes will be called Electric Roots from now on, but you can still call me Nige.
Raw! Hawthorne Blackberry Cheesecake
Anyway, coming back to this months focus: The Heart. We are going to be making cheesecake today, a raw, plant based, gluten free version of cheesecake, to ease the blow of the world and strengthen our little beeting hearts. (Yeah, beeting-there are beets in this recipe, but you wouldn’t know it by taste). This recipe is full of heart healthy plants including a heart loving favorite, the Hawthorne Berry.
Hawthorne berries have widely been used to help tone and strengthen the heart and cardio vascular system. They are full of certain phytonutrients, antioxidants shown to strengthen the walls of blood vessels. They have also been shown to reduce fatigue and shortness of breath. Energetically, they can be used to open our hearts and are helpful for people who feel closed off to others, or for people who are going through a loss or bad break up. The Hawthorne Berry in this recipe is simply ground and added to the creamy cashew filling. Walnuts and dates make up the crust. (Yup 2 ingredient crust, plus a little salt) and you won’t be baking it at all. There’s not much in this recipe that isn’t good for the heart, unless you eat the entire pan at once (which I know seems necessary sometimes).
Some fun heart healthy facts:
Walnuts: They contain high amounts of the anti-inflammatory Omega 6 and 3, which have been shown to reduce high blood pressure and anxiety. Walnuts also contain the amino acid I-arginine that can be essential for people who are at risk of heart disease.
Dates: rich in magnesium, potassium and vitamin B6, all essential to heart health. Also like most fruits, they are low on the glycemic index- so they are nice and sweet but won’t spike your blood sugar levels.
Cashews: contain mostly mono-unsaturated fat, which can help reduce bad cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of coronary heart disease. They are a complete protein, are high in magnesium, phosphorus and calcium, all contributing to heart health
Blackberries: super rich in antioxidants such as polyphenols, which can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. They are high in vitamin c, calcium and potassium, and also contain omega 6 and Omega 3.
Beets: Beets have been proven to lower blood pressure in multiple studies due to it’s high content of nitrates. They also improve blood flow, help the blood with detoxification, are anti-inflammatory, and contain high amounts of Potassium.
Raw! Hawthorne Blackberry Cheesecake
For the crust:
1 ¼ cup raw walnuts
1 ¼ cup pitted Medjool dates
¼ teaspoon sea salt
For the filling:
2 ¼ cup raw cashews (*soaked in warm water for at least 15 minutes-See below for details)
1 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup raw honey (*to make Vegan- use maple syrup or agave nectar)
3/4 cup fresh or frozen blackberries (allow frozen to thaw or run under warm water and drain off any excess liquid)
½ cup raw shredded beet
½ teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Hawthorne Berry powder (grind whole dried berries in a coffee grinder)
Pinch of sea salt (like 1/8th of a teaspoon)
Vitamix or similar (A high powered blender is the most ideal to achieve super silky smooth velvety cashew cheesecake)
Small food processor (I like this for the crust)
8×8 pan glass baking dish (or similar size), or muffin tin for precious baby cheesecakes
A spatula, or large spoon
Some measuring cups
Some measuring spoons
Grab and your baking dish, (I used this heart shaped silicon mini muffin thing I had. While cute and appropriate for what we are making here, NOT MANDATORY). Grease it with a super thin layer of coconut oil and set aside. Now, place dates in a bowl or jar and cover with warm water. Set aside. Place cashews in a separate bowl or jar and fill with warm water, set aside.
(*SOAKING – So here’s the deal with soaking cashews-if you have a Vitamix or that type of super high powdered blender, it really isn’t absolutely necessary to soak your cashews, it’ll blend up those suckers dry or soaked. However, it will make your blending life much easier and it will be much more kind on your machine’s blades if they are soaked. Many people swear by soaking overnight, which you totally can do, but if you forget it’s not the end of the world.)
Next, measure out walnuts and salt into a food processor and pulse a few times to get them going. I use a regular food processor for this because the Vitamix turns to the walnuts to butter super fast in my experience. Pulse a handful of times until large “minced-sized” crumbs form. Scrape out crumblies into a large bowl. Next, grab your dates and drain off the water. Squeeze them a little to remove as much of the water as you can. Add em to your food processor and pulse until the bits form kind of a dough ball situation, or are well combined until paste like. Add your dates to your walnuts in the bowl and combine with a big solid spoon. Put this in the fridge for a few minutes, it’ll be easier to press into your pan in a minute.
While you let your crust mix chills, melt your coconut oil so it is nice and clear and liquidey. Add your coconut oil, honey, lemon juice, shredded beets, blackberries, Hawthorne berry powder, and salt to your Vitamix. Slice open your vanilla bean lengthwise and run your finger or a butter knife down the length of the bean to get all the baby seeds, and add to the mix. So now all the filling ingredients except the cashews are in the Vitamix. Make sure to add ingredients in order they are listed, the Vitamix likes liquids first. Place the lid on nice and tight and let it rip. Start slow and gradually increase speed until nice and smooth. Turn off machine when smooth. Return to your crust mix….
Grab your crust mix from the fridge, scoop into your pan and press it in there as evenly as you can. (You maayy have a some extra, I like a thick crust. See below for other things to do with extra mix). After crust layer is to your liking, place pan back into fridge.
Grab you cashews and drain over a colander. Add half the cashews to the Vitamix and process the same way: starting out slow and increasing speed slowly. Add the other half of the cashews, increasing speed all the way to high to get the filling nice and smooth. Don’t fret if the Vitamix gets overwhelmed, it’ll all work out eventually. Anyway, blend your filling until it is nice and smooth and velvety, and turn off the Vitamix.
Grab your crust from the fridge and pour your filling in, smoothing it around to get a somewhat even layer. Now, place your cheesecake back into fridge and chill for at least 6 hours (overnight is best).
Once chilled, cut into squares or bars or try using cookie cutters! And always keep in the fridge in between eating them. They will taste rich and fresh in the fridge for up to 5 days, and freeze well too.
Eat in moderation (I know, it’s hard), but while full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and good fat, they are high in fat, which bodes much better on the stomach and system in smaller quantities.
If you find yourself with extra crust- roll into balls and keep in fridge for a sweet protein-packed energy treat, or add a scoop to smoothies and or shakes.
That’s it! Yummy velvety (can I say velvety one more time in this post??), raw!, dairy free, egg free, low glycemic, plant based dessert to soothe your aching heart this month.
Much LOVE and sweetness to you all this month, friends. Remember: one day at a time.
Nige, aka Nicole, aka Kitchen Witch of Electric Roots
See all of Nicole Worthington's articles