Recently I visited a Chinese Medicine place to get some acupuncture. The practitioner looked at my tongue and told me that he is shocked that my gut health looks so good and that most people he sees have very compromised gut health. This may sound very weird. I am sure not too many people have any idea what the tongue has to do with gut health, however since I used to work as a dental hygienist and I knew all about the mouth microbiome, to me it made perfect sense! because the digestive tract starts in the mouth and the appearance of the mouth microbiome can be a reflection of the appearance of the gut microbiome. I also have no digestive upset (anymore) and so I wasn’t totally surprised by this. He asked me what it is that I do to keep my gut healthy. I answered, ” I have spent the last 14 years of my life focusing on adding a wider and wider variety of plant foods into my diet.” This really is the key based on all the emerging research on gut health. The larger the variety of plants the more robust and healthy the gut microbiome. I started on this journey 14 years ago when I was barely eating anything. I used to have the most impoverished diet. I really only ate a handful of foods and a lot of them were not even healthy. I grew up as an extremely fussy eater and I had a lot of anxiety around food. I was underweight as a consequence and physically and mentally weak. This may be one of the reasons I had such a severe reaction to my birth control as my body and mind were simply not strong enough (read my experience here). I had a huge switch in my attitude toward food once I realised how important food was to me feeling well. I then started to slow the journey of introducing foods that I had never eaten before. It was a terrifying experience but also an incredibly empowering experience, one that started my love for plant-based food. It wasn’t always easy. It took me years to be able to properly digest legumes but I took it slow and focused on continually adding in different varieties of plant foods at a pace that I was comfortable doing so. I am still on that journey today. I am constantly wanting to try new plant foods and find ways to enjoy eating them. I also love switching up varieties of the same foods eg. brown and black rice etc and analysing what foods I don’t eat very often. Because I took it slow and gentle I was able to build up my gut microbiome to a level that seems to be very good and I have no gut problems as a consequence. It took me a long time to get here, probably about 10 years in total, but in my opinion, I was starting from an almost blank slate as I really was eating hardly anything at all.
The reason I bring this up is that this entire recipe was inspired by the fact that I was walking through the supermarket and noticed all the fresh in-season blackberries and it hit me that I hardly ever eat blackberries. If you’re familiar with the recipes on my blog you may find that hard to believe as I actually have a few blackberry recipes on my blog. They aren’t my favourite berry and so I don’t choose them very often. I know I can make myself eat something if I put it in a dessert, especially if the dessert contains chocolate. Nearly every time I see blackberries I do the same thing, think up a recipe that will make me eat more blackberries. So I bought a couple of punnets and made this chocolate blackberry tart. I love the way the melted chocolate looked on the top. I made it in early December when blackberries first come into season (in Australia) and I thought it also looked beautifully festive. A really beautiful summer dessert. The recipe is dairy-free, refined sugar-free (except for the dark chocolate that I melted on top) and gluten-free.
|Raw Vegan Blackberry Chocolate Tart|| |
- 1 cup pecans
- 1 cup dates
- 2 tbsp cacao powder
- Water if needed
- 1½ cups cashews (soaked for 3-4 hours)
- 1 x 400g can of coconut cream
- ½ cup cacao butter
- Juice 1 lemon
- 2 tsp vanilla
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- Blackberries and melted chocolate as a topping.
- In a food processor blitz base ingredients until sticky. Press into bottom and sides of 20cm tart tin and set aside.
- Melt cacao butter in a saucepan over low heat. Blend the filling ingredients in a blender or food processor until creamy and smooth, pour over tart base and stud with blackberries.
- Place in freezer to set for 1-2 hours. Drizzle with melted chocolate.