Make Out Every Day? Yes, Please!!

I am sure you read this title and thought, okay…what on earth is this going to be about? Sorry folks, I am actually NOT going to talk about making out (which is fun, but that’s a whole other blog post!), this post is regarding a very cute and chic incognito cafe I happened upon while walking to a workout class in Culver City.

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Make Out is nestled in the heart of Culver City, in between the Archlight Culver City and the historic Culver Hotel. I say it is incognito because the location is rather small and it is easier to find walking by then to drive around looking for it. I was headed to a workout class, as I mentioned, and I was feeling rather tired and needed a pick me up. I walked into this cute little cafe hoping to find something caffeinated, and indeed I did, and much more.

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Preceding this cafe was the raw/live food restaurant M.A.K.E, which was raw chef Matthew Kenney’s dining experience located on the top floor of Santa Monica Place until it closed in June of 2015. Make Out came along to cater to the growing demand of plant based whole foods and makes this type of food more accessible in an everyday setting. The name is supposed to align with “sexy” food.

I did not sample any of the actual sexy food at this cafe, but the desserts look heavenly. They have everything from raw cheesecakes, to macaroons and raw chocolate truffles. Raw sushi, flatbreads and wraps are included in their savory delights.

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I guess I should get back to my point of needing a pre-workout pick me up. This cafe sells cold brew coffee or chai with different medicinal herbs added to it. A very cool, unique (and hipster, I admit) concept, however, I am intrigued.

While they have different juices, smoothies and kombuchas on tap, a smoothie with avocado and almond milk can be found at many juice/smoothie bars nowadays. Make Out has something very unique they call Latte Potions. So a person can chose, again, a chai or cold brewed coffee with coconut oil and coconut nectar or honey, and then there are six different potions you can choose from to add. Different coffees have different physical and emotional intentions based upon their names. There is the Make Out, Geek Out, Bliss Out, Work Out, Chill Out and Shroom Out.

I chose the Work Out. My coffee had Tocos, Eucommia Bark, Cordyceps and Astragalus in it. Some of you may be familiar with these herbs, but for those who are not, here is a short de-briefing…

Tocos-a very potent source of vitamin E, contributes to healthy skin and liver, Kosher and non-GMO, delicious in smoothies and desserts.

Eucommia Bark-used to treat lower body pain and weakness in the bones.

Cordycepsknown for strengthening the immune system, improving athletic performance, reducing the effects of aging.

Astragalus-is said to increase blood flow and speed up healing and fight bacteria, but there is not enough scientific evidence to determine its efficiency.

A few other herbs found in some of the other drinks…

He Shou Wu-a good source of iron, helps maintain strength and stability in the lower back and knees, promotes healthy aging process.

Pine Pollen-good for hormonal support, brain food, supports and detoxifies the liver and can be a natural aphrodisiac.

As for how much of these herbs is put into each coffee or chai, it is all mixed up into a potion (hence Latte Potions!) and the amounts are measured out and safe for consumption. You can get your drink iced or warm. I got mine warm, apparently if it is too hot it can destroy the effects of some of the herbs.

I downed my potion before I finished my walk to the class and I did feel revived and ready to get my workout going. At 7 dollars a coffee, I can honestly say this would be a once in awhile indulgence, but I suppose it is something anyone could try at home given the right tools (and you can buy most of these herbs online) and the desire.

Raw Desserts…Get Your Sweet On…Minus The Sugar Hangover After…

While a million and one holiday parties go on tonight, I decided to nerd out and stay home and play with food. I recently came across some raw dessert recipes that I really wanted to try, and knowing that I have a social weekend coming up and I have my awesome new Vitamix that blends things really well, I decided to experiment tonight with not one, but TWO recipes. Image 12

So, what is a raw dessert? Well, essentially it is something made with natural ingredients, some of which taste sweet, but are free from all the processed sugar, butter, flour and cream that most regular dessert recipes are made with.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my share of “regular” desserts…real ice cream/gelato, the occasional cookie or piece of cake, etc…but I definitely feel like I kind of overdosed on this stuff during Thanksgiving, so I wanted to try these recipes out and see if I could experience the same kind of enjoyment with some thing a little more…nutritious.

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So the first thing I made were these maca chocolate brownie bites. Now let me go over some of these ingredients a bit before I list the whole recipe. For those of you who do not know what maca is, it has become a very popular “superfood” and herb and it is considered to be a natural energy enhancer and mood stabilizer, among other things. It has been known to help regulate and balance the hormonal systems of both men and women.

The other ingredient I wanted to discuss is cacao powder. No, this is not cocoa powder, like the stuff you put in your hot chocolate. What is the difference, you may ask…?

Both cacao and cocoa powders are produced by grinding cocoa nibs to a paste or liquor and then removing the cocoa butter (the fat component of the cocoa).

To make cocoa powder the cocoa paste or liquor is hydraulically pressed to remove the cocoa butter, and this process generates lots of heat, frequently in excess of 150 degrees C. There are two types of cocoa powder; natural and Dutch-processed. Natural cocoa powder is reddish-brown in colour, very bitter to taste and has an acidic pH of around 5.3-5.8. The second type, Dutch-processed cocoa powder, undergoes an extra step at the beginning of production where the beans are soaked in potassium carbonate to alkalize the pH to a more neutral 6.5-7.6. Dutch-processed cocoa powder is darker in colour and less bitter.

So there you go, and you can read more about the amazing benefits of raw cacao powder here…

Now, for the recipe. And for those who are wondering, this is RAW, GLUTEN-FREE and even PALEO friendly.

Maca Chocolate Brownie Bites

2/3 cup coconut flakes

1/3 cup shredded carrots — packed

1/4 cup almond meal

1/3 + 1/4 cup pitted dates

1 tsp vanilla extra

2 tbsp cacao powder

2 tsp maca powder

Add all the ingredients into a food processor, blend and form into little balls. Makes about 10-12.

 

This next recipe is something I had my eye on for awhile. My version is not really original, except for instead of agave or some of the other sweeteners recipes recommended for the mousse, I used manuka honey, which I had in my cupboard. This is actually a really expensive honey, that I don’t think is necessary to own or use in this recipe, but this honey has anti-bacterial properties and I wanted to see how it would taste (and I don’t have any agave in my cupboard anyhow!)

Honestly, I don’t know if it was the raw cacao powder, or the avocado, or everything combined, but this is one of the best tasting raw desserts I have EVER had. All the magnesium you get from consuming quality raw cacao powder give you a sort of natural high…no joke! Having a quality blender or food processor is key for mixing the ingredients. I recommend this to anyone who loves chocolate but is trying to cut back on processed goodies.

Chocolate Avocado Mousse

1 large avocado

1/4 cup coconut milk

4-5 tablespoons of cacao powder

1-2 tablespoons of manuka honey, or whatever honey you desire

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Blend, scoop into a bowl and ENJOY!! Feel free to add fresh berries, something I forgot to do!