maca energy bars

These are really Maca Energy Balls– but that title just might get my site shut down. This recipe was featured in a long-ago cooking class, but it’s one I make for other events, too, and folks always ask about the recipe. These are great snacks to keep in the car, or in your desk for a quick pick-me-up.

Dates are great sources of natural sugars, perfect for after a workout (or just a long day at work!). Maca- if you don’t know- is a teeny turnip-looking root native to South America. It is a delicious supplement that can help with energy, libido, and adrenal function. Most importantly, though, it tastes like caramel malty yumminess. If you are not interested in maca, substitute cacao/cocoa, or just leave it out entirely; nutty cinnamon date balls will still be delish.


Maca Energy Balls

½ cup almonds
½ cup walnuts
pinch salt
3 Tablespoons maca powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¾ cup Medjool dates, pitted
1-2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1-2 Tablespoons water

  1. Add nuts and salt into food processor.  Blend until very fine- much like the texture of sand.
  2. Add in the remaining ingredients, starting with just one Tablespoon of the oil. Blend again, until mixture begins to thicken and stick together inside the processor.
  3. Check the texture by pinching a bit between your fingers; if it is slightly sticky and keeps its shape, it is ready! Add 1 Tbsp more liquid if mixture is too dry.
  4. Pour into a bowl and then shape with your hands into balls (or press into a pan to flatten). Place 1 almond in the center, and store in the fridge.

Yield: About 15, one inch energy balls

Vibrant Wellness Supper Club

A few weeks ago I hosted a supper club for ten friends. A supper club, or underground restaurant, is a way for aspiring chefs (or home cooks) to cook up a semi-professional meal while making a bit of money- like a dinner party with an entrance fee. Cooking for a crowd is a daunting task, and my friends generously paid to be my test subjects. But they were all happy with the meal, and I think the night went wonderfully: good food, fun drinks, great people, gorgeous food photos, and only a few mishaps- sorry about the salted truffles, friends! Many of the photos you see here on ManisKitchenworks were taken that great evening, captured by my talented friend Tyler of The Intire Project.

Find the recipes for Black Rice with Mushrooms and Cilantro and Coconut Ginger Tempeh here on Vibrant Wellness Journal.

Black Rice, braised greens, Coconut Ginger Tempeh (topped with some cabbage slaw!)

Black Rice  with cilantro, carrots, onions, and mushrooms. Delicious, but stunning too!

Enough tempeh for 10 hungry friends. Coconut Ginger Tempeh!

from the archives: quick mungbean dal

This is a flavorful and filling meal for chilly autumn nights. This dal features cute green mung beans, which are great to have around: they’re very wholesome, featuring high fiber, protein, and iron like most beans, and they cook relatively quickly. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, mung beans have a cooling, draining effect on the body, which can help with skin issues and clear toxins from the body. All that and they taste delicious, too! This recipe was originally posted three years ago today, and it’s just as good today as it was back then. Best served alongside some basmati rice and cucumber yogurt for an Indian-style meal. You can also thin with more coconut milk or broth and make it into a soup.

Quick Mung Bean Dal

2 Tablespoons coconut oil
¼ cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon whole brown mustard seeds
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon whole fennel seeds
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups cooked mung beans
¾ cup coconut milk
1 Tablespoon soy sauce

  1. In a large skillet, heat coconut oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook for five minutes. Add in garlic and ginger, and cook until garlic browns. Add spices and stir to combine.
  2. Reduce heat to low and add beans, coconut milk and soy sauce. Stir to combine and simmer for 15 minutes, adding more liquid if necessary to keep mixture soupy.
  3. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Yield: about three cups dal, or 4-6 servings

Notes: This recipe calls for cooked beans, but if all you have is dry, here is how to cook them: Rinse beans in cool water. Add to a large stockpot and cover with water. Add a stamp-sized piece of kombu seaweed (optional) and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer on low for 20-30 minutes. If overcooked they will become a bit mushy, but that’s perfect for this recipe. Drain off any excess water, and season with a few generous pinches of salt. Cooked beans will keep for about a week, and they can also be frozen for up to six months.


for the happy couple: chocolate cherry wedding cake

Imagine how honored I felt when my good friends asked me to bake their wedding cake! She is a dear friend and also my acupuncturist; he is a prominent local musician (check out their tunes here, please!). The Spicy Cherry Chocolate flavor they chose for their cake was decidedly unconventional, but it fit wonderfully with their unique wedding that involved outrigger canoes, the finest musicians on the island, fire dancing, African dancing, surprise songs, pole-dancing, and heaps of homemade, shared foods. Overall it was very sweet ceremony– and the reception was dangerously fun! And- thank goodness- everyone loved the cake! Click here for the recipe!

the finished cake!

the finished cake!

the liquid and the dry!

the liquid and the dry!

this is how to make cake for 100 people!

this is how to make cake for 100 people!

me working hard in the kitchen

me working hard in the kitchen

the bride with her cake

the bride with her cake

fresh raspberries for the bride

fresh raspberries for the bride

notes from the kitchen: pu-reh tea

photo from Numi site

My new favorite tea: Numi Coconut Pu-erh Tea. It’s so incredibly delicious and addicting! As if I need more tea to love- have you seen my tea collection?

I have always been curious about Pu-erh tea, supposedly full of antioxidants and full of earthy, rich flavors. There are lots of companies offering this type of tea, but I’ve long been a fan of Numi. They are a small brother and sister company that offers organic, fair-trade, delicious tea products. They offer many varieties of Pu-erh tea on their site- including cardamom, basil mint, ginger, and chocolate. You can probably find them at well-stocked natural or gourmet stores, too. Our grocery buyer got some samples, and I was instantly smitten and purchased some straight away.

But what is pu-erh tea, aside from being a tongue-twister (say poo-air)? Pu-erh is an ‘ancient healing tea picked from 500 year old organic wild tea trees in the majestic mountains of China’s Yunnan province” according to the Numi tea tutorial. It is a black tea, though significantly lighter (less tannic) and more refreshing than traditional black tea. Pu-erh tea is fermented, which results in an altogether different, mellow flavor, and high antioxidant content. It has been said that this tea can, “aid digestion and metabolism, maintain healthy cholesterol levels, help with weight management and naturally boost energy.” All that and it tastes great too!

dark colored but light flavored pu-erh tea is my new favorite.