Recipe: Sadhana Kitchen Super Food Mint Slice

Recipe for a favorite Australian dessert….with a Free People twist, of course!

This post comes to us from Natalie Shukur.

The mint slice is a beloved Australian sweet. With its bright green hue and refreshing peppermint zing, it’s perfect on a warm day or as an after-dinner treat. Traditionally, mint slices come in packaged biscuit form, so we asked Maz Valcorza, founder of one of our favourite Sydney cafés, Sadhana Kitchen, to give the dessert a Free People twist. Valcorza, who has just released her first recipe book, The Naked Vegan and opened a new Bondi outpost of Sadhana, whipped up this raw, vegan, refined sugar-free version you can tote along to a summer picnic or BBQ.

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Serves 4.

Ingredients:

Base
1 ½ cups desiccated coconut
½ cup almonds
½ cup cashews
1 cup dates soaked for 1 hour and then drained
1/3 cup cacao powder
4 tbsp coconut nectar
pinch of Himalayan pink salt or sea salt

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Mint Filling
1 ½ cups cashews soaked for 1 hour and then drained
1 ½ cups coconut oil
1 tsp spirulina
4 drops food grade peppermint oil
1 tbsp lecithin
Stevia to taste

Chocolate Topping

½ cup coconut nectar
1 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup cacao powder
½ cup cashews
1 tsp vanilla powder
1 inch knob cacao butter
pinch of Himalayan pink salt or sea salt

Assembly:
Combine all ingredients for the base in a food processor until the texture of fine crumbs and press into baking tin lined with non-stick paper.

Blend all ingredients for the mint filling on high speed until smooth and pour on top of the base. Set in the freezer for four hours or overnight.

Once set, remove from freezer. Blend all ingredients for chocolate topping until smooth and pour on top of the mint layer.

Return to the freezer for another ten minutes or until chocolate is set.

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Q&A With Maz Valcorza

How did you get into raw, vegan food?

I actually did a yoga teacher training. Prior to that, I wasn’t a vegetarian — and there was always a bit of stigma around that and doing yoga. But, as part of my course, I learnt about Ahisma, which means non-violence in Sanskrit, and it really resonated with me. Raw food came after adopting a plant-based diet and wanting something more nutritious, something that wouldn’t make me feel heavy and wasn’t deep-fried or mock-meat. I started learning more about raw food and experimenting with recipes and I realised, oh my God, this stuff is amazing and there’s such room for creativity and you’re not really compromising on anything and it’s so easy to digest.

So you weren’t even trained as a chef! How did you develop your skills to such an amazing level?

I’ve always had a hearty interest in food and I have a good sense for flavours and textures. I’ve got a good palette. Usually I’ll try something and I’ll know what’s in it. It was very intuitive — it’s not like I ever taught myself any specific skills. But that doesn’t make a good business. So now I have amazing chefs that build on that natural creativity and add their own skillset do develop Sadhana into what it is now.

How have you seen raw food evolve over the years? It’s come a long way since lots of nuts and agave in everything…

It’s always important to learn what the mainstream knowledge and consciousness is at the time. When you first learn about raw food, it’s like, lots of cakes and alternative sweeteners and everything’s very nut-full because that’s what makes you satiated and that’s what’s rich. But now people are starting to understand that, for example, protein is formed from amino acids and amino acids are the building blocks of proteins that are found in every single fruit and vegetable, right? So, to put it simply, you need to eat a variety of those to administer complete proteins into your diet. So with that kind of knowledge, people no longer feel like they have to substitute or imitate something –they just eat naturally. And then, as more interest develops in this field, the further that chefs and places like Sadhana can develop their approach to this type of food. So we have a lot of familiar favorites [on the menu], but we also have things that teach people different ways of eating raw food.

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What’s a typical day for you, food-wise?

In the morning I drink a lot of water, with lemon or cayenne, just to flush out the system after I’ve slept. I’ll usually have 500ml to 1litre of a green smoothie and in that I’ll put all kinds of superfoods — it’s like my insurance policy for the day. Because of Sadhana I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want! But usually it’s lots of greens, lots of vegetables…the bigger the variety, the better. And then at night I like to have something a little more grounding. So I’ll have some quinoa with sweet potato, some fresh veggies, tempeh…

And how do you, as a vegan, get that balance right in terms of not having too many nuts or too much sweetener while still enjoying raw treats?

I don’t have a super sweet tooth. I think that, when we crave certain foods, we’re deficient in something or we’ve got something else going on. Craving sugar may mean there’s an overgrowth of candida in the body, or you’re not eating enough bitter, savory foods. But when I do eat something, I don’t ever limit myself — I just won’t eat massive amounts of it. I think when you get into this mindset of eating with abundance and joy, you no longer feel like you need to eat the whole cake, because you know you can have another one another time.

Do you have any favourite “superfoods” at the moment? Or is there a new ingredient you’re into?

I love [medicinal] mushrooms. They’re not so new anymore, but they really work for me. So things like reishi, chaga, lion’s mane…because of their immune-boosting properties and the fact that they are so potent, nutritionally. They’re adaptogens as well so, whatever your body’s requiring, it can adjust to it.

You’ve just released your first book. What’s it about?

It’s called The Naked Vegan...made up of 148 recipes, all of which are all raw. While I don’t eat 100% raw, I really like the philosophy. And including more raw foods in my diet meant that I was able to eliminate a lot of the “filler” ingredients or kind of “empty” foods that I was consuming that weren’t really doing anything for me. It’s about stripping food back to its natural state and peeling back all the layers of bullshit, basically! You feel very satiated in a very different way…you’re not just physically full, but you know you’ve gotten the nutrition you needed.

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