Dark Chocolate Coconut Mousse

Dark chocolate coconut mousse with whipped cream and rasberries
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Dark Chocolate Coconut Mousse

Course Dessert
Keyword Chocolate
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Melt the chocolate chips in a small pan under low heat stirring occasionally for a minute or two. Pour the coconut milk into a blender. Add melted chocolate and chia seeds. Blend it all together. Taste and add more melted chocolate, if desired.
  2. Pour into four ramekins. Refrigerate for at least two hours and serve.

Recipe Notes

Recipe developed for Equal Exchange by Leslie Cerier, The Organic Gourmet

Chocolate Chip Chevre Cheesecake

 

Chocolate Cheesecake with Chocolate Chips and flowers on top
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Chocolate Chip Chevre Cheesecake

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Chocolate, Cocoa
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients

Honey almond pie crust:

Cheesecake filling:

Instructions

For honey almond pie crust:

  1. Grind the almonds into a meal in a food processor. Add and blend in the honey, vanilla extract and salt. Press the honey almond mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate. (No need to go up the sides).

For cheesecake filling:

  1. Puree the chevre, cocoa, honey, and vanilla extract in a food processor. Taste and adjust the flavor, if desired. Pour and spread the chocolate chevre filling on top of the honey almond pie crust. Decorate with chocolate chips. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Recipe Notes

Makes one 9-inch cheesecake; Yields 8-10 servings

Recipe developed for Equal Exchange by Leslie Cerier, The Organic Gourmet

Organic Vs. Conventional Coffee

Coffee lovers are discerning people, and there’s a lot to say about its many flavors, aromas, and origins – but one of the biggest differences between coffees is most striking before it even reaches your cup.

It’s the difference between conventional and organic coffee. Even if you already choose organic in the produce aisle, you might wonder why it matters for your brew.

To put things in perspective, coffee is one of the most widely traded commodities in the world – with over 12 billion pounds of coffee produced annually.

Meeting that demand is no easy task. So over time, farming methods have been developed to maximize production – but often at the expense of human and environmental health. What results is the non organic, conventional coffee that many are used to. So what’s the difference between that and organic coffee?

First, conventional coffee is among the most heavily chemically treated foods in the world. It is steeped in synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides – a real mouthful with a bad taste. Not only does the environment suffer from this overload, but so do the people who live in it. Farmers are exposed to a high level of chemicals while spraying the crops and while handling them during harvest. The surrounding communities are also impacted through chemical residues in the air and water. These chemical presences are not just unpleasant; many are highly toxic and detrimental to human health.

In the case of organic coffee, there are no synthetic fertilizers or chemicals used in growing or production, which means cleaner beans, air, land, and water. The coffee is grown with only organic fertilizers, like coffee pulp, chicken manure, or compost. Organic farms also combat climate change by emitting less carbon than chemical farms, while also sequestering significant amounts of carbon. As a bonus, organic coffee beans are richer in healthful antioxidants, and many people can even taste the difference. Your health, and the health of the planet, both get a boost.

Shop Organic Coffee >>

Second, most conventionally grown coffee plants are hybrids developed to flourish in open sun. Coffee naturally prefers the shade, but a crop grown in thick forest is more difficult to tend and harvest, and cannot be planted as densely.

Forests are cleared to make room for open fields in which to grow mass amounts of this sun-loving coffee variety. Production increases, but the wild ecosystem of flora and fauna is demolished. Natural pest-deterrents, like birds and lizards, are left without a habitat – and coffee-ruining insects overpopulate, leading to more pesticide use. And without the natural fertilizer of these ecosystems (bird droppings, leaf litter, and natural decay) the use of chemical fertilizer increases.

When it rains, the lack of tree cover means there is increased water runoff. Soil washes away, and with it go natural nutrients, eventually eroding and degrading the soil so much that growth is almost impossible. The rainwater carries away not just the soil, but all of the chemicals it has been treated with, and both end up in local water supplies.

Most organic coffee is grown the natural way – within the shade of lush forests, providing a home for wild plants and animals, sustaining soil fertility, and keeping unique regional ecosystems alive. These forested farms also more resilient and better equipped to handle unusual weather patterns that are a result of climate change, making them a safer investment for farmers and their futures. Hundreds of thousands of acres of South American rainforests have already been demolished for various industries, but Equal Exchange has partnered with co-ops that are working to restore the land to its natural forested splendor while growing organic coffee.

So what can you do? The organic coffee market has grown according to increased demand from people who want to drink something they can feel good about. Industries can and do change based on the choices that you make in the grocery store or at your favorite café – so you can vote with your mug! By purchasing organic coffee where you can find it (and demanding it where you can’t), you support systems that value healthy ecosystems, sustainable methods, and superior coffee. Now that’s good taste!

Sources:

  • Barstow, Cynthia. The Eco-foods Guide: What’s Good for the Earth Is Good for You. Gabriola, B.C.: New Society, 2002. Print.
  • Basic Standards for Organic Production and Processing. Tholey-Theley, Germany: IFOAM, 2000. Print.
  • Benbrook, Charles. Core Truths: Serving Up the Science Behind Organic Agriculture: 2006 Compilation of Research. Foster, RI: Organic Center, 2006. Print.
  • “Coffee in the Global Economy.” Global Exchange. http://www.globalexchange.org/fairtrade/coffee/faq

How Does Organic Cacao Farming Help the Environment?

Cacao, the fruit from which the main ingredient in chocolate is derived, grows in beautiful, tropical conditions along the equator. The cacao tree naturally prefers the shade, especially when young, and can grow in harmony with and in support of the local ecosystem when thoughtfully cultivated by small-scale family farmers using organic production methods.

Planting cacao among other trees, such as fruit trees, provides many benefits: shade for the cacao tree, increased biodiversity on the farm, inhibited growth of weeds (reducing the need for chemical herbicides), and additional food and income for the farmer’s family. While there is a history of low chemical use on cacao farms simply because farmers couldn’t afford them, cacao-growing co-ops are transitioning to a more deliberate approach to organic farming, investing resources in trainings and programs to ensure strong yields while preserving the local environment.

In the past, low chemical inputs were coupled with poor farm maintenance and low productivity, which could increase the need for expansion into the surrounding forested areas when yields declined. Improving farm maintenance means expansion can happen in a more environmentally friendly way, and improves yields of the existing trees.

At CONACADO, a co-op of 10,000 farmers in the Dominican Republic, Equal Exchange supports an initiative of creating model farms, where farmers come for training on effective organic farming methods and maintenance. Their holistic approach to farm maintenance also includes teaching farmers how to make their own organic compost on the farm using discarded cacao pods.

CONACADO and our other farmer partners in Peru, Ecuador and Panama also have nurseries filled with cacao seedlings so that farmers are able to replace old trees, rather than cut down surrounding forests to expand their farms. The co-ops focus on incorporating other crops when planting these new cacao trees, improving overall farm diversification. These include a variety of crops for both shade and food, such as bananas, citrus, and tubers and roots.

Managing the inputs and outputs of the land plays an important role in preserving the environment. The farmers who belong to our co-op partners do not use man-made chemical pesticides and herbicides, which would normally go into the local environment and water supply. Using discarded cacao pods to make compost also prevents a potential waste byproduct from ending up in the local water system.

At COCABO Co-op in Panama, the co-op plays a special role in protecting the environment. Located on the edge of the Amistad Forest Reserve, the co-op’s practice of agroforestry and farming within the rainforest provides a critical buffer of protection to the reserve. While the environmental benefit is high, the downside for the farmers is that planting within the limitations of the rainforest means fewer cacao trees and lower yield per hectare.

Organic farming is not easy. It’s hard work, but your support of Equal Exchange chocolate and cocoa makes these investments in organic farming worthwhile.

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Coffee Baked Beans

Coffee baked beans
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Coffee Baked Beans

Course Side Dish
Keyword Coffee

Ingredients

  • 4 strips uncooked bacon cut into small pieces
  • 1 each green, red, and yellow bell pepper cut into strips
  • 1 c. Equal Exchange Organic French Roast Coffee strongly brewed
  • ¾ c. thick barbeque sauce
  • 1/3 c. firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 16 oz. can chili beans in mild sauce
  • 15.5 oz. can dark red kidney beans rinsed and drained
  • 15.5 oz. can cannellini beans rinsed and drained
  • 15.5 oz. can black beans rinsed and drained

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 375°. Cook bacon in skillet until almost crisp. Drain all but 1 tsp. bacon drippings and add peppers, sautéing until just cooked.
  2. Mix brewed coffee, barbeque sauce, brown sugar, and soy sauce in a large bowl. Stir in beans and bacon mixture. Spoon into a 3-quart shallow casserole dish coated with nonstick spray. Cover and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Recipe Notes

Submitted by: Liz Potter

Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash

Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash
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Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash

This delicious, healthy vegan dish with high-protein quinoa is a perfect main dish for autumn! Support local agriculture by purchasing the squash from a farmer's market.
Course Side Dish
Keyword Almonds, Nuts
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 acorn squashes
  • 1 c. quinoa uncooked
  • 2 c. water
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1 c. dried cranberries
  • 1 c. Equal Exchange Organic Natural Almonds toasted
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp. vegan margarine (or butter, if not vegan)
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut each acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds. If desired, you can save the seeds and toast them like you would pumpkin seeds.
  3. Spread the vegetable oil on a baking sheet, and place all the acorn squash halves face-down on the baking sheet.
  4. Bake the squash at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until tender.
  5. While the squash is cooking, cook the quinoa. Place the quinoa, water and salt in a medium-sized pot and bring to a boil. Once the mixture is boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer 10-15 minutes until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender.
  6. Stir the toasted almonds and dried cranberries into the quinoa so that both are evenly distributed throughout. Cover to keep warm, and set aside.
  7. Melt the vegan margarine by heating in a saucepan over low heat, or by placing in a microwave-safe dish and heating in the microwave for 30-45 seconds or until liquified.
  8. Stir the brown sugar into the melted margarine and set aside.
  9. When the squash is done, take the tray out of the oven and let cool for 10 minutes, or until the outside of the squash is cool enough for you to touch without burning your hand. The inside of the squash should still be quite warm.
  10. Flip the acorn squash halves over, and spoon an even amount of the brown sugar-margarine mixture into each one. Spread the mixture around with the back of the spoon to coat the inside of the squash.
  11. Spoon a generous amount of the quinoa mixture into the hollow centers of the squash halves. Serve warm, and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Submitted by Lea Wojciechowski

Lemon Ginger Chocolate Chunk Muffins

Lemon Ginger Chocolate Chunk Muffins
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Lemon Ginger Chocolate Chunk Muffins

Course Dessert, Snack
Keyword Chocolate, Muffins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400F.
  2. Coarsely chop chocolate into chip sized chunks.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, chocolate, and salt. Mix well.
  4. In a large bowl, combine milk, oil and egg. Mix well.
  5. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened (batter will be lumpy.)
  6. Fill greased muffin pan cups or wrappers 2/3 full.
  7. Bake for 18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Hummus

Hummus
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Hummus

Course Appetizer, Snack
Keyword Olive Oil

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces garbanzo beans (chickpeas) good, medium sized
  • 1 big onion peeled and quartered
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 of a bunch parsley
  • 1/2-3/4 cup raw tahini paste
  • 1/2 lemon juice of
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup Equal Exchange Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Instructions

  1. Soak the chickpeas for at least 12 hours in cold tap water. Drain and put the chickpeas in a sauce pan with the onion, 3 cloves of garlic, parsley and cover with water, about double theamount of chickpeas. Bring to a boil, remove as much foam as you can from the top of the liquid, and cook for 1.5-2 hours, until the chickpeas are really soft and you can mash them easily in your fingers. Drain, but keep the liquid and the veggies.
  2. Put the chickpeas, the cooked onion, garlic and parsley, uncooked 1-2 cloves of garlic, tahini, lemon juice, salt, cumin and ½ cup of the cooking liquid in a food processor and mix well, until you get a very smooth paste. If it looks too thick (it will get thicker when it cools, so you can make it a little runnier if you do not serve it immediately, though it should be a paste), add a little more water, just 2 tablespoons at a time. Add the oil and mix well shortly. Taste for salt and see if you like a more distinct taste of cumin. Best served immediately, but in any case at room temperature, so take it out of the fridge some time before you serve. You can save some whole chickpeas for decoration and drizzle Equal Exchange Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil on top. Enjoy with pita bread or fresh vegetables.

Recipe Notes

Makes 4 cups or about a medium bowl

Best eaten within 2-3 days.

Adapted from http://food52.com/recipes/2381-best-ever-homemade-hummus

Caramelized Cashews with Cayenne

Caramelized cashews
5 from 1 vote
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Caramelized Cashews with Cayenne

Course Snack
Keyword Nuts, Olive Oil

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly brush a baking sheet with 1 tsp olive oil. Toss cashews and all remaining ingredients in medium bowl. Spread cashew mixture evenly in single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
  2. Bake nuts until golden brown and coated with maple syrup mixture, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. While nuts are baking, brush a sheet of aluminum foil with the remaining oil. After removing nuts from the oven, immediately pour them out onto foil, spreading evenly. Cool 10 minutes, then separate and break apart any nut clusters.

Recipe Notes

Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine

Cashew Cheese

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Cashew Cheese

Course Appetizer, Snack
Keyword Nuts, Olive Oil

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Soak 1.5 cups cashews for up to 4 hours (the softnesss changes consistency of cheese, soak longer for sauces). Put cashews and rest of ingredients (except nutritional yeast) in blender. Blend until smooth, add more veggie broth/water for runnier consistency.

Recipe Notes

Great on pizza or use as a sauce over steamed kale or stir fry, or just use it as a dip!

Optional: add a few cherry tomatoes for a slightly pink color and fruity taste! Red pepper works great, too.