For one of the assignments in my Raw Food Educator course (taken through the RawFoodFoundation in Vancouver) we were each offered a super food and challenged to come up with a simple (no more than 5 ingredients) new recipe to share. The super food I was given was Goji Berries. Judy and I often toss a handful of these orange-red berries into our morning smoothie but that’s about as creative as we’d gotten with them, so this was a fun experiment!
Initially, I spent some time searching the internet for information and recipe ideas. Here’s what I found out: Goji berries (Lycium Barbarum) are also known as Wolf Berries or Western Snowberries. Native to China, these berries can also be grown in North America in zones 3-10. Goji Berries are perhaps the most nutritionally rich berry-fruit on the planet. They taste delicious and are well-balanced for nearly all the body types, blood types, and metabolisms. Goji berries are some of the highest antioxidant-containing foods in the world – outranking blueberries by 2-4 times. They contain liver-healing betaine. Per ounce, they contain more Vitamin C than oranges. Goji berries help boost our immune systems, thus warding off colds and infections. They’re also rich in Vitamin A which protects the cornea and promotes good vision. In addition, Goji berries are the only food known to help stimulate the human body to produce more human growth hormone (HGH) naturally.
I didn’t really find any appealing simple recipes online though. So Judy and I began talking about what colors would best complement the red of the dried goji berry – Orange! This brought both mango and peaches to mind. Hmmmm… would these flavors combine well? What other flavors might complement them?
Soon enough, I was on my way to making our Goji Mango Cacao Parfait! To start off I made two versions of a goji berry coulis. Both contained soaked goji berries (to soften the berries) and one was made with coconut oil while the other was created with cacao butter. Cacao is actually the plant that produces the raw form of chocolate which, when uncooked and unprocessed, is incredibly high in antioxidants and a rich source of magnesium, essential fatty acids, iron, copper, zinc, sulfur, and calcium — plus fiber. White chocolate is made from the oil pressed from the cacao beans – called cacao butter. Mmmmmm! (Thanks for that idea, Coralie :)). Initial taste tests (Thanks Judy & Pam!) revealed that both were yummy, though there was a slight leaning towards the cacao butter concoction. (That said, coconut oil is often much easier to find, so try both!)
Once the coulis were made, I blended together two different versions of a mango base: Mangoes with coconut milk & mangos with coconut water. In essence, the first had the creamier texture of an ice cream while the other resembled a sorbet and had a more vibrant mango taste. Both were heavenly! And this is when the real taste testing began:
- Mango ice cream & goji/cacao butter coulis
- Mango ice cream & goji/coconut oil coulis
- Mango sorbet & goji/cacao butter coulis
- Mango sorbet & goji/coconut oil coulis
And on and on we went, back and forth between the creations until we came to consensus, and it was tough sampling all these different combinations!
The next step involved layering them on top of one another, experimenting with trying to swirl or marble the textures together (unsuccessful!), and adding the perfect complementary toppings. So in the end, here’s the recipe we chose:
Goji Berry Mango Cacao Parfait
3 C frozen mango
¾-1 C coconut milk (preferably freshly made)
½ C goji berries (soaked for one hour and drained)
2 T cacao butter (melted)
Fresh mint leaves &/or cacao nibs (optional)
Blend together soaked goji berries and melted cacao butter to make a goji berry coulis, and set aside. Blend together frozen mango and coconut milk until smooth. Starting with mango, layer in alternate layers in small chilled glass. Top with cacao nibs and/or fresh mint. Serve immediately!