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APRIL: Spring Cleaning, flower fights, and Fools Day

K.Ami March 30 2015

 

April, derived from Aprlis, rooted in the verb aperire, means ‘to open’. This month is all about opening: Opening the windows and doors to let in fresh air after the winter, opening our minds to develop, and opening our hearts to the new ways that love and pleasure can engage our lives. Its time to re-set and re-start!

 

Humanity has celebrated this month pan-culturally: Japanese and Chinese festival of Kuan Yin ( Goddess of Compassion), the Persians with Sizdah Bedar, Navaho with the Hudough Dance, the Greeks Haloa ( celebration of Womens free speech), French Battle of the Flowers ( April 2nd), and the Yakima Tribe Root Festival just to name a few.

 

I invite you to learn more about these traditions and share in their richness. One particularly fun tradition I’d like to draw attention to is:  Battle Of The Flowers on April 2nd.

This custom follows in the same vein of foolishness as April fools day, but with a basket of flowers. Zsuzsanna Budapest suggests in The Grandmother Of Time,

 

“..Walk down the street looking out for the one you fancy, and when this person is near enough, you take out a flower- a rose, or daisy, whatever you got- and throw this at the desired persons heart. If the flower actually hits the ‘heart’, this person will fall in love with you. You can imagine… the women and men taking their walk with a large basket of flowers, making sure their social calendar will be busy all year.”

 

How fun to throw flowers at strangers? If only we did that more often. April has been a month for foolery historically- and why? There are a few theories floating out about why, maybe a change in the calendar and a ‘foolish’ resistance to the loss of the old ways, maybe it was a children’s game to see how long a fish could stay on a friends back. But my favorite story about the origination of April Fools day and the tricks that come along with is rooted in love- really! April, Aprilis, is the Roman analog to Aphrodite, the Goddess of love. The Roman celebrated this month with Veneralia ( the Holiday of Venus*). So then, on this day lovers sent one another on ‘fools errands’ to prove their love and devotion. Folks acted senseless as a demonstration to how love turns us all into fools at one time or another, so lets have a good laugh on our behalf!

 

Celebrate with  us at Chaco Canyon Cafe with our Thumbprint Raspberry Cookies, a treat that has its roots deep in Haloa, or start your personal spring cleaning with a Green Cleanse juice.

 

May we all be fools in love,

Chaco Canyon Team

 


*Aphrodite is to the Greeks the same Goddess as Venus is to the Romans, different names- same babe


 

Chaco CanyonAPRIL: Spring Cleaning, flower fights, and Fools Day
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March 20th, 2015 Spring Equinox

equinox-solstice-via-Geosync-e1395584225931Image from 2011, via Geosync Byrd, 3/15.  Everything You Need to Know About the Vernal Spring Equinox:

 

Happy Spring Equinox!

K. Ami March 20th 2015

 

Today marks the first day of spring, and the end of winter. The 20th/21st of March has been a significant date in time for centuries, for cultures across the globe. It is on this day that our Sun balances itself exactly on the celestial equator- which means that both the Northern and Southern hemispheres of our Earth receive equal amounts of day and night for about 5 days.

This time has been used historically as a time of finding balance for oneself. The balance that is within each moment. The dark days of winter have allowed for a time of self reflection and setting intentions, and now, with the flowers blooming and budding all around us, our thoughts and intentions begin to bud.

 

This Planetary balance has been noted by humanity and celebrated in various ways, with a similar motif of celebrating the light and dark within each of us, and the symbolic death and resurrection.

 

Belsebuub and Angela Pritchard from their book, The Path of the Spiritual Sun, notes this about this historical significance:

 

In Christianity, the spring equinox is the time of the passion, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus. Likewise in ancient Egypt, it is the time of the resurrection of the ancient Egyptian god Osiris; and the resurrection of the Mayan Maize God Hun Hunahpu. The Great Sphinx of Giza, in Egypt, symbol of resurrection, gazes precisely at the rising of the spring equinox sun. The temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia aligns to the spring equinox, and depicts the scene of the “churning of the milky ocean”—the struggle between the forces of light and darkness. At the temple of the feathered serpent in Mexico at Chichen Itza, the feathered serpent Quetzalcoatl ascends the nine terraces of the pyramid on the spring equinox.

Throughout the world, the spring equinox is a time of great confrontation between the forces of darkness and light, in the death and resurrection of the central deities of sacred teachings throughout the world. It symbolizes what an initiate goes through in a definitive and important stage of self-realization, where the struggle between darkness and light creates the opposition needed to attain immortality. This is symbolized by the dark half of the year on one side of the spring equinox sun, and the light half of the year on the other.

Copyright © Belsebuub & Angela Pritchard 2012

 

May Spring 2015 find you in perfect balance and harmony. May you be in good health and happiness.

Ayurvedic medicine suggest changing your diet with the seasons. The kapha reducing diet for spring suggests more foods that are bitter, pungent, astringent, light and warm. Think of brothy soup, steamed veggies, and brown rice. Avoid sugars, deep fried foods, heavy, oily and salty foods. Try a juice cleanse. Some specials that we have at Chaco Canyon Cafe that support a spring diet are:

 

Fennel and Pear Salad

    Nettle Pesto!!! and Portobello Sandwich ( bring in those balancing minerals)

    Pure Bliss Juice

    Any of our delicious soups ( Egyptian Red Lentil, Dill Split Pea, Soup du jour)

From all of us at Chaco Canyon Cafe,

Happy Spring!

Chaco CanyonMarch 20th, 2015 Spring Equinox
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Palm Shortening

There’s been a lot of info in the media about Palm Oil and Palm Shortening lately, specifically as it relates to it being unsustainable with the way they are clear-cutting rainforest to expand their plantations.

Deforestation in Southeast Asia has made Indonesia the third largest carbon emitter on the planet. The orangutan, the Sumatran tiger, and countless other endangered species are being pushed to the brink of extinction.

The palm oil industry can be brutal. Many workers are lured into plantations on false pretenses, and have their passports and ID’s confiscated. Investigations have found workers being beaten by “enforcers”, locked in tiny barracks at night, and not allowed to leave for any reason. Many workers are forced to spray hazardous chemicals with no protection, and the web of contractors and sub-contractors allows the corporations responsible to avoid legal responsibility.

Conversely, the palm shortening Chaco Canyon Cafe purchases (Aunt Patty’s brand) is sourced from organic sustainable plantations in Ecuador. It is certified sustainable and fairly traded.

  • There is a “Farmer to Fork” supply chain that allows for verification of sustainability, collection, production, and processing to a high standard.
  • Fair labor practices ensure farmers increase their well-being and security through advisory programs, economic benefits, and field support.
  • Local biodiversity is treated with respect

 

Chaco CanyonPalm Shortening
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For the Love of Chocolate

Chocolate

Chocolate is a confection made of the seeds of the cacoa tree. It is native to Mesoamerica and has been an important food product there for 4000 years.

The seeds of the cacao are intensely bitter and are fermented to develop the flavor. The beans are then dried, cleaned and roasted. The Maya and Aztec preparation was an unsweetened chocolate drink called “bitter water.”

After roasting the shell is removed to produce cacao nibs. Cacao nibs can also be made before roasting to provide the raw nibs and cacao powder used in raw desserts. The cacao nibs are heated and ground into cocoa mass – sort of like making peanut butter: the grinding releases the fat and creates a thick, creamy substance. The finer the ground, the more smooth the final chocolate will be. This mass is also called chocolate liquor, although it has no liquor content. As it cools the cocoa mass/liquor hardens into unsweetened chocolate. It can also be separated into cocoa butter and cocoa solids.

Most chocolate today is a combination of cocoa solids, cocoa butter or other fats, and sweeteners (usually sugar), along with whatever other flavorings might be desired. Our raw truffles are a very simple example of this – at their most basic they consist of cacao powder (cocoa solids), cacao butter (fat), agave or maple syrup (sweetener) and other flavorings such as vanilla. We also add cashews which create a lighter, creamier truffle filling.

Dark chocolate contains the highest amount of cocoa butter and solids, while milk chocolate contains milk powder or condensed milk along with the cocoa butter and solids. White chocolate has cocoa butter, but no cocoa solids.

Now, you may be wondering about the difference between cocoa and cacao. In the past the words could be used interchangeably, and were the result of variants in spelling. However, with the rise of interest in raw chocolate products, cacao, which is also the name for the tree, has begun to be used to designate chocolate products that are prepared without various heating and roasting processes.

Here at Chaco we are careful to keep this distinction: when we say cacao powder we are referring to a raw powder which has a grayer color and a more bitter flavor. When we say cocoa we are referring to a roasted powder that has a reddish color and milder flavor. To add farther complication, we purchase Dutch cocoa (or Dutched cocoa) which has undergone an alkaline treatment invented by Coenraad Van Houten, a Dutch chemist. This process reduces the harshness of the cocoa, makes it more shelf stable and helps create consistent quality for baking and other preparations. It is possible to have cocoa powder that is not Dutched – it appears much more like our raw cacao powder. However, raw cacao cannot be Dutched as the process requires heating it.

Despite its long history, solid confections made of chocolate are a relatively new invention. For most of its history it was used to make a drink, but once it was brought back to Europe, and especially after the invention of the Dutching process in the early 1800, they began to experiment with changing the proportions of cocoa solids to cocoa butter and began to create solid chocolate confections.

There are controversies surrounding chocolate. Much of it is produced in the Ivory Coast in Africa and child labor is a huge issue, as is fair wages for growers and producers. The growing movement for Fair Trade chocolate is very important to combat exploitation, however, Fair Trade chocolate is only a tiny percent of the chocolate trade. In addition, there are not regulated standards for what Fair Trade means, so different companies may have different definitions that they follow. The truth is that to be an ethical consumer of chocolate, it may be necessary to research where a company sources their chocolate and not to simply trust a Fair Trade Label.

What about our chocolate? Two examples: our chocolate chips come from Agostini, an Italian family owned chocolate company that is on the Food Empowerment Project’s approved list. Our raw cacao powder is from the Ojio brand and is sourced in the Dominican Republic (South American chocolate is considered overall better because it has less slavery and child labor issues then Africa). We choose ethical wholesale companies such as Glory Bee and Earthly Gourmet, to purchase our bulk products from.

Chocolate has many chemicals and compounds in it that are interesting from a health perspective. However, it should be kept in mind that these are present in the cocoa mass, and that as that whole food product is altered with sugar and other fats, the health benefits are diluted even as the calorie intake is increased. The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more of the health benefits you are getting. Anyone who claims milk chocolate has healthy qualities – well, let’s just say that’s very wishful thinking.

Some of the potential benefits of dark chocolate are positive effects to the circulatory and cardiovascular system, reduction in blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and a boost to cognitive abilities. It’s also high in minerals and antioxidants.

Chocolate has been considered an aphrodisiac for centuries, and became associated with Valentine’s day in Victorian England. Cadbury’s Chocolate Company started selling their new chocolate candy in heart shaped boxes in 1861. Our selection of chocolate treats this February including truffles, cupcakes, peanut butter pie and a smoothie, should satisfy any chocolate lover.

Chaco CanyonFor the Love of Chocolate
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Lemon and Ginger for Winter Sniffles

The sniffles are going around as we settle into the cold dark of winter. Sometimes even if you’re not feeling ill, a little hot pick-me up is just the thing. Lemon, ginger and cayenne have been home remedies for generations. In my family we would make a pot of “brew” – strong ginger tea with slices of whole lemon and some local honey. Here at Choco we offer much the same in our Lemon-Ginger Elixir: freshly squeezed ginger and lemon juice with agave served hot with cayenne or cold with fizzy water over ice.

What makes this such a good winter tonic? Fresh ginger is an anti-inflammatory and has been shown to help reduce pain, nausea and assist with respiratory issues such as asthma.  Lemons provide vitamin C and other anti-oxidants that boost the immune system. Drinking hot beverages when you are under the weather helps hydrate you, clear your sinus, soothe a rough throat and warm you from head to toe.

So if you have lemons and ginger in your pantry, you are a few steps away from making your own brew to fight off the winter sniffles. Or stop in and say hi to us and let us make you a steaming mug of Elixir.

Chaco CanyonLemon and Ginger for Winter Sniffles
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New Years Juice

After the rich foods of the holiday season, many of us are looking for fresh healthy things to eat and drink in the New Year. Maybe you received a juicer for a holiday present, or you have one sitting in the back of your cupboard. Well, this is a great time to pull it out and start trying your blends.

Here at Chaco we record our juice recipes as percentages. This helps us get just the right amount of juice, no matter what size you order or how big or small the produce. If we said “one carrot” that could end up with a whole range of amounts of juice, as carrots come in a whole range of sizes.

As you experiment with your own juice recipes, you might keep notes with the same method. That way if you come up with your fabulous green breakfast blend, you can then make it for all your friends in the same proportions.

We blend our juices using a few fruits and vegetables as base juices, than adding healthy items that tend to work best when used in smaller quantities. Then we add some delicious accent notes such as lemon, garlic or ginger.

Good bases, on their own or used in combination, include carrots, apples, pears, orange, beets, pineapple and cucumbers. TO these we add celery, greens of all kinds, wheatgrass, fennel and parsley. We also include seasonal fruits and vegetables, such as basil in the summer or grapefruit when it’s in season in California.

For the garlic and ginger we might say mild, medium and strong. For a small juice, mild ginger indicates a chunk about the size of half teaspoon, medium is about a full teaspoon and strong is about a teaspoon and a half. For a large start with the medium amount for mild and increase it by the half-teaspoon.

Here is an example of a special juice we brought to you at the New Year in 2012:

 

Brain Booster Juice.

Beets help to increase oxygen and blood flow to the brain.

Beet          25%

Carrot       25%

Pear          25%

Orange     25%

Ginger      strong

Cayenne  1 Dash or to taste

Chaco CanyonNew Years Juice
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Specials: A Season of Change

Big changes are arriving with the New Year. The kitchen and back of house staff at Chaco Canyon has moved to our new location in Greenwood. We are so excited about all our acres of counter-space and new appliances! Look for the front of house portion of the Greenwood Café in early 2015!

The New Year also brings change to your lives and frequently you think about making healthy diet choices. We are here to help you out with our delicious Season of Change Specials.

Look for nutrient dense delights such as our Smoked Kale and Sweet Potato Quinoa Bowl and our Lentil Sprout, Fennel and Apple Salad with Grapefruit Dressing. We also have a luxurious Gluten Free Crape filled with Navy Bean and Leek Ragout, and an African inspired Peanut Yam Soup.

Get a fresh start to the 2015 with our Resolution Juice: Grapefruit, Apple, Ginger, Mint and Wheatgrass. Or warm up with a delicious Nog Latte – still here by popular demand.

If you are looking for something sweet, we are baking a classic Apple Pie, a bright and tangy Grapefruit Bundt Cake and exotic Gluten Free Curried Carrot Cupcakes. Or try our Raw Date Bars sweetened only with dates and a hint of maple syrup in the crunch nut topping.

Whatever your resolutions are for this year, we hope you will make Chaco part of your 2015! Happy New Year from all of us to all of you.

 

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This post was created by Laura Wilson

Chaco CanyonSpecials: A Season of Change
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Winter Solstice

The longest night and shortest day are upon us. Darkness descends so early and lasts so long, that many head to school or work before it is light and then return home in the grey twilight or even well into the dark. Around the world people celebrate the longest night by lighting their own lights to remind the sun to return and to bring themselves together comfort, hope and community.

This year, no matter what your other holiday celebrations, why don’t you have your own festival of lights? It can be as simple as turning off the lights and lighting a collection of candles. Sit by yourself or with your family and meditate on the quality of light and on the grace it brings to our lives.

Perhaps you might share a meal with your loved ones – it can be as elaborate or simple as you like. My family likes to serve a curried winter squash soup because of its brilliant color and seasonal, warming flavor. Add some fresh hot bread and maybe a salad of kale or other dark leafy greens and you are celebrating both the local, seasonal gifts of the earth as well as the joy of sharing good food.

Of course, if you want to get elaborate, it can be exciting to plan a meal based on qualities of light, warmth and the sun’s return. A family friend made a “golden” meal one year: golden beets, yellow squash, corn-on-the-cob, curried mashed potatoes and golden oven-fried chicken. Spices, bright colors and fresh flavors are all good places to start.

As you light the candles and sit down to the supper upon the longest night, read a simple prayer or poem about the sun. For example here is one from the Lakota:

May the sun rise in splendor
May the earth appear in light

This poem came from database of sacred poetry from around the world: Poetry Chaikhana. You can find many other poems here on the subjects of the sun, light and winter, as well as many themes.

Happy Winter Solstice to you and yours – may the returning sun illuminate your lives in the New Year.

 

 

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This post was created by Laura Wilson

Chaco CanyonWinter Solstice
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December Specials

As the holiday season goes into full swing, we have prepared a selection of festive, favorite desserts to bring an extra treat to your celebrations. Our popular gluten-free Pumpkin Pie is making an appearance, as is our classic holiday cupcake: gluten-free Chocolate Hazelnut. Try our seasonal Raw Peppermint Bark for an update to a traditional favorite.

We have changed our Tamale filling to feature the “3 Sisters” – staples of native agriculture: corn, beans and squash. It still comes with our spicy ranchero sauce for a warm, hearty meal on a chilly day. Another favorite to counter the winter weather is our Jerk Chili.

For the season of giving we are débuting Red Ape Cinnamon Oatmeal for a quick and hearty breakfast option. The Red Ape  Cinnamon company gives 5% of their profits to the protection of orangutans and their habitat, so if you’re looking for a hot, filling breakfast that gives a little back to the world, try this tasty oatmeal.

We have also stocked up our retail shelves for the holiday season. Check out our exciting offerings, such as teas, house-made spice mixes, sprouting cups, soup mixes, gluten-free baking mixes, and local craft products including soaps, jewelry and fun cat toys.

 

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Chaco Canyon Cafe Catering

This post was created by Laura Wilson

Chaco CanyonDecember Specials
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Giving Thanks

Around the world, in most cultures, the harvest of principle crops is celebrated with some sort of feast, celebration or ceremony of thanksgiving.  As we approach our own cultural holiday of this nature, we would like to give thanks for all the wonderful farmers who supply us with fresh, local produce all year long! We also want to thank our customers who keep coming back and telling us how much they value healthy, organic, nutritious food choices. We are deeply grateful for our talented staff and for their patience as we struggle to grow as a business, both physically (Greenwood Location coming so soon!) and mentally (as we continue to ponder how to be the most sustainable business that we can be.)

Sometimes, the holidays can be challenging when family members and friends have different dietary needs. To help offer some solutions for delicious, vegan holiday recipes (including gluten free and raw options), we are launching our first (we hope of many) Cookbook Pamphlet. Look for it at both our locations. It will be filled with recipes for all the upcoming winter holidays, including Chaco favorites such as Tamales, Ginger Pear Cranberry Pie and Tomatillo Chili.

And from our family to yours – thank you for your support, friendship and good company!

Holidays2014

Chaco CanyonGiving Thanks
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