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105degrees, L1/W1/D5: seaweed salad & chocolate bars

October 29, 2010

(Is that the most incongruous couple in the culinary world, or what?! Don’t worry, they’re not together!)

This morning, we soaked some arame (a type of seaweed) and prepped some produce (and an orange-tahini dressing) for…

…a seaweed salad!

Sea vegetables are not my cup of tea, but I have to say this was visually stunning.

I did have a few bites, but I mainly admired it from behind my camera. If you do like seaweed, though, you’d love this bright, fresh dish.

As we were eating our seaweed salads (quite an unusual mid-morning snack, eh?), Russell hauled this monster out of the walk-in.

What is it? Only THE most humongous block of raw cacao butter that I have ever laid eyes on.
25 kilos—that’s 55 POUNDS! The whole thing is worth upwards of $600. Holy crap!

Russell shaved off a few cups’ worth of cacao butter shards for us.

We learned how to properly temper the cacao, then we blended up our own batches of raw chocolate. I added vanilla powder and a couple big pinches of sea salt to mine.

We poured it into bar molds, which we transferred to the fridge to set.

Then, we went on a field trip! Russell took us down to Rush Springs, OK (about an hour south of OKC) to harvest some natural spring water. I brought back two gallons.

Afterward, I dropped back by 105 to pick up my finished chocolate bars.

Eight dark, decadent, delicious bars of raw chocolate…all MINE! (And Matt’s. I’ll share.)

It’s shiny and fragrant, just like chocolate ought to be.

I’m no chocolate expert (though I know some people who are), but my bars really do seem to have a great snap, and a smooth and wonderful melt.

This’ll be my healthy substitute for Halloween (Rawloween?) candy this weekend!

Oh yeah, and guess who dropped in today to say hello? Matthew Kenney himself! It was great to see and talk to him again, and just like the last time, I instantly intensified his bronzed complexion merely by standing beside him.

Can you believe my first week at 105 has already passed? I can’t!
See you all on Monday for the commencement of Level I, Week 2.

48 Comments leave one →
  1. Mindy permalink
    October 29, 2010 8:27 pm

    Amber, you are so photogenic, and you have the funniest “deer in the headlights” look on your face standing with that gargantuan pile of white chocolate. Like you suddenly encountered a monster.

    Matthew Kenney really looks darn good, especially for someone who is I believe supposed to be in his early 40’s. Great testament for the raw food diet.

    Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy your visit with your honey.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 29, 2010 9:04 pm

      Aww, thank you ::blush::
      Haha, that cacao butter beast was seriously intimidating!

      MK is 46, in fact (per Facebook). Absolutely one of the best testaments out there!

  2. October 29, 2010 8:29 pm

    Your chocolate bars look incredible, wow you made so many. And lucky that you guys found a closer spring than we did. Really, I feel like following your classes daily at home here with my workbook/folder. I have it open right now 😉

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 29, 2010 9:05 pm

      Yeah! Thin but multitudinous.
      How far away was the spring you guys went to?
      Hehe, play the 105 at-home game as I play on-site! 😛

  3. October 29, 2010 8:36 pm

    *beams* Amber, that chocolate looks wonderful. Even just looking at the photos, it has a far glossier sheen and appears less “grainy” than some of the sub-standard raw chocolates I’ve paid through the nose for here in Australia!

    And while your post may be about an incongruous coupling of foods, to my mind these two treats fit together perfectly – I *adore* seaweed salad. So proud of you completely week one with the same enthusiasm and gorgeousness as you started out with. Looking forward to Week 2! 🙂

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 29, 2010 9:27 pm

      Seriously?! AHH! Yours is the best compliment I could have hoped for. I was thinking of you as I was making it 🙂 and as I was turning up my nose at everyone else adding orange zest to theirs (blasphemy!). You really think it’s got the right sheen ‘n gloss? I’m so pleased to hear it looks less grainy than some of those on the market!

      Actually I just saw your FB post about a seaweed-salad-scented beauty product. How ironic!
      Maybe your next custom-ordered bar of chocolate will include seaweed? 🙂

      • October 29, 2010 9:38 pm

        *laughs* I almost mentioned that FB comment here myself! 😀 I’m so, so overwhelmed with happy that you actually thought of me while making this 🙂 And yes, I really meant what I said. Clearly there’s still a bit of graininess here, as that’s part and parcel of raw chocolate, but I’ve had ones that look like compacted mud and crumble in the mouth. There’s a definite sheen rather than dullness to yours, and with your comments about the “crack” of breaking the chocolate, it sounds like you’ve done pretty stellar!

        If only I could taste and review it on my blog 🙂

      • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
        October 29, 2010 9:44 pm

        Well, mine was not muddy or crumbly at all, so YAY! I bet with a few more practice bars, I could create a truly spectacular one 🙂 If I were to ever sell it, I’d call my first chocolate “the Hannah Bar.” 😀 IF it received a positive review from its namesake! I’d send you a whole box of ’em. 1 bar for testing and 49 more for verifying. 😛

      • October 29, 2010 10:43 pm

        You *do* know I’m going to hold you to that, right? The name and the 50 bars all for me? 😀 😀

        • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
          October 29, 2010 10:48 pm

          You bet! 🙂

  4. October 29, 2010 8:37 pm

    Those chocolate bars look amazing!! It looks like you are having a great time! Yay!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 29, 2010 9:29 pm

      Thank you! I was so happy when I heard we’d be making chocolate today 🙂 It turned out great!

  5. Matt permalink
    October 29, 2010 8:50 pm

    Can’t wait to touch and taste your… Chocolate bars! Yum! I’d even try that salad. My lunch at Rawbert’s Organic near Boston is furthering my appreciation for creamy raw stuff. See ya soon!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 29, 2010 9:30 pm

      Hehe! I’ve got lots of goodies waiting here for you to taste 😉 And I can’t wait to hear about your lunch at Rawbert’s. See you soon!

  6. October 29, 2010 9:32 pm

    Oh my gosh look at that cacao block! It’s huge.

    I love that you went to a spring. There’s nothing like fresh spring water.

    What is that pink and green veggie/fruit? It’s so pretty!

    Enjoy your chocolates and Happy Halloween!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 29, 2010 9:36 pm

      No kidding. Massive!

      It was a cool, off-the-beaten-path little trek. I’m glad he took us there.

      The pink-green slices are watermelon radish. I’d never seen one (in person) till today; they’re beautiful.

      Thank you! You have a happy Halloween too, Bitt!

  7. October 29, 2010 9:32 pm

    I’d be all over that chocolate! LOVE IT!!!
    I’m not a sea anything eater, I think it comes with growing up in florida it always smells fishy so I can’t stand seafood of any kind.

    and Matthew very easy on the eyes 🙂 what a Hottie (shh! don’t tell hubby I said that 🙂 heehee)

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 29, 2010 9:38 pm

      Making that chocolate really tested my willpower, as far as not licking my spatula constantly!

      I have had seaweed things that I like, and I do enjoy sushi, so I can’t say I hate seaweed altogether. I just didn’t love this particular type.

      Haha! Your secret’s safe with me 😉

  8. October 29, 2010 9:54 pm

    what an amazing daily experience you’re having! I’m realizing that we most likely met back when Ani was here in July. That was such a cool event!

    I am just as pale next to MK’s bronze glow….hehheee.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 29, 2010 10:05 pm

      I think we may have met briefly that evening, but I’m not certain. We”ll just have to meet up again to make sure! 😛

      Hehe, power to the pale girls!

  9. October 29, 2010 10:39 pm

    Beautiful chocolate! I’ve never seen such a big block of cacao butter! I love the shape of the molds, how you could break off individual pieces. And good salt in chocolate is great. Sad face from me – the Naturopath reconfirmed for me this afternoon that I shouldn’t eat chocolate… I’ll have to get me lots of good cacao butter and make white chocolate with maca or something.

    It’s funny, Matt Kenney looks a bit like Matt Samuelson, another great raw chef, with whom I’ve worked back when I was raw cheffing (I miss those days – watching your adventures makes me quite nostalgic, altho’ I never did an academy like that). Love your jokiness about your pallor 😉 Good midwestern girl, right?

    Props to you again for trying something that’s not your favorite. I think some of those raw creamy dressings do amazing things for seaweed (but then I like seaweed anyway).

    Happy halloween!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 29, 2010 10:47 pm

      I’d never seen such a monstrous chunk of cacao either! I’m sorry to hear you can’t have chocolate 😦 But if you CAN have cacao butter, then that’s almost as good! I’m one of those crazies who often PREFERS my chocolate white 🙂 Actually, I asked Russell today about making raw white chocolate, and he suggested using a 1-to-3 ratio of soaked cashews and cacao butter. I can’t WAIT to try that. Maca would be a great addition!

      I’ll have to look up Matt Samuelson, I’m not familiar with him!
      Good Midwestern German girl, that is 😉 I’M ‘the other white meat’! 😛 Or perhaps ‘the other white chocolate’?

      The tahini dressing did mask the sea taste quite well…but I was still left with not loving the texture, heh. Ah well, you win some, you lose some!

      • October 30, 2010 8:11 pm

        The other ‘white chocolate’ for sure! Thanks for mentioning that – I love darkest of dark chocolate, but it’s probably sensible for me to start work on developing a low-sugar, no caffeine but still satisfying chocolate! Cashews or maybe even brazil nuts sounds great, and maca, and vanilla, and maybe some dark chocolate flavor extract… Hmm, you’ve got my wheels turning!


        • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
          November 1, 2010 4:45 pm

          Ooh, brazilnuts, good idea. I have to think macadamias would work well, too. And dark chocolate flavor extract? Brilliant!

  10. October 29, 2010 10:42 pm

    PS – I saw your post on ‘Bitt’s’ blog about stopped-up-ness and I think the fiber differential piece is really interesting. But I wanted to chime in with another thought. I have had similar experience when I’ve been cheffing for an event and eating mostly ‘gourmet’ raw foods. What I realized after a while was that the major differences were a big increase in salt and in dehydrated foods compared to what I usually ate, and that aside from feeling ‘stopped up,’ I was also retaining water. I don’t know if that jives with your experience in any way? Anyway, spring water rules, and fresh fruit and salad. Flax and chia=masses of fiber too, oh, and those dark leafy greens you so adore!


    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 29, 2010 10:55 pm

      You’re DEFINITELY right about the salt. All of us students have noted this week how much salt we’re consuming, much more than normal. We haven’t dehydrated that many foods yet (mostly just garnishes, plus those kale chips); almost all of our dishes have been fresh-veggie-based, so I don’t think that’s it. But yes on the salt, and I AM retaining water as well. Haven’t had as much flax here as I do at home, but that’ll likely change next week when we get into breads/crackers/wraps (though, then, the dehydrating will increase too!). I’ve had a good amount of greens this week, too. All in all, I wonder if it’s a combination of more salt + less fiber. Snacking on more fruit sounds like a good idea.

  11. October 30, 2010 7:35 am

    wow! i can’t believe that a block of butter almost as big as you exits! what a fun experience you’re having! I love it!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 30, 2010 1:09 pm

      Hehe, I know! Crazy, huh?

  12. Meri permalink
    October 30, 2010 3:08 pm

    I never thought I could be more in awe of you than I already was, and then you go and make your own chocolate?! Amazing. The salad is gorgeous too.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 1, 2010 4:28 pm

      Aww, Meri! ::blush:: Thank you 🙂

  13. October 30, 2010 7:31 pm

    How about saving a chocolate bar for Dad and me (for when we come down next weekend)…? I think we deserve that, don’t you?
    Great work!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 1, 2010 4:29 pm

      Already planned on it – not out of “deserving,” but just cuz I want you to try some of my food.

  14. October 30, 2010 8:38 pm

    That is the best looking sea weed salad!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 1, 2010 4:29 pm

      Thank you! It WAS awfully pretty!

  15. tori conde permalink
    October 30, 2010 8:40 pm


    I did my training just before you did…
    Looks like they got some things better this time around!
    The chocolate bars look GREAT, ours came out a bit … broken and you seaweed salad looks SO MUCH BETTER!!
    I still have my binder, if you want to exchange recipes it’d be all good!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 1, 2010 4:30 pm

      Hi Victoria! I wonder if they changed some of the recipes between your class and mine, or if we got some better batches of ingredients… ::shrug:: But I’m up for recipe swapping anytime!

  16. October 30, 2010 9:44 pm

    I love sea vegetables of all sorts, that salad is right up my alley. And that giant block of cocao butter is right up anyone’s alley! Is it weird if I would want to taste it straight?

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 1, 2010 4:31 pm

      Hehe, not weird at all! Truth be told, I did just that 😛 Another classmate of mine even rubbed some on his face to moisturize. Ha!

  17. October 31, 2010 9:44 am

    You’re so purdy! Could your skin *be* more perfect? (said like Chandler Bing!)

    That is one beautiful salad tower! I love all the colors, and the pool of orange-tahini dressing with the contrasting black sesame seeds is lovely.

    Look, the Pope! *steals your perfect chocolate and runs off* 😀

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 1, 2010 4:34 pm

      Aww, River! Psh 😛 Thank you though!

      The black and orange of the seaweed salad is pretty striking…almost Halloweegan-worthy, perhaps? 😉 Haha, maybe not.

      If I have to choose between chocolate and the Pope, I’m running after you and the chocolate!

  18. MsDrPepper permalink
    October 31, 2010 1:49 pm

    In your first photo, the prepped veggies for seaweed salad, could you clarify for us what is in there? looks like the top row, l-r is beets? celery? mandarin oranges? and then “green matchsticks” so could be cucumber? apple? doesn’t quite look like celery texture.

    Then you have the seaweed in the left and something exotic on the right = slices that look like greatly enlarged petri dish specimens ?? green skin with the reddish purple “dye” in the middle? what are those? how do they taste?

    Looks yummy!

    And chocolate looks yummy too – do they have the molds already set with that design? cool!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 1, 2010 4:38 pm

      Oh, certainly! The top row is beet, cucumber, oranges, and apple. Those gorgeous pink rounds are watermelon radish, which I’d heard of but never worked with before. They make for a really stunning presentation!

      Yup, the chocolate mold I used had that design imprinted on it. I’m not that good of a chocolatier (yet?), haha!

  19. MsDrPepper permalink
    October 31, 2010 1:54 pm

    OH on the water and being stopped up and saltiness – you could try reading up on the natural sea salts – and other sites, the Himalayian salts people, the Celtic sea salts people – sounds like what you need to do is boost intake of your drinking water. I do better with the sea salts as opposed to the processed bleached table salts, but I do need to drink my waters!!!

    And I’m very pale too – I should get more sunshine since that is natural source of vitamin D and helps deal with physical issues (according to the likes of Dr. Mercola, Donna Gates / Body Ecology Diet, Patricia Bragg, etc. etc.). But yep, I’m in the midwest too…

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 1, 2010 4:42 pm

      Luckily, 105degrees uses ONLY Himalayan pink salt, so even though I’m getting more sodium than usual, it’s from a far better source than crappy table salt. Perhaps I DO need to drink more water while I’m here…though it’s difficult for me to believe the gallon+ per day I already drink isn’t “enough”!

      I actually love being pale 🙂 I avoid the sun as much as humanly possible. I burn nearly instantly, plus skin cancer runs in my pale-German family. =/

  20. October 31, 2010 3:28 pm

    Yum, Amber! Homemade chocolate bars?! Awesome as always. Are you planning on opening a restaurant when you graduate?

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 1, 2010 4:43 pm

      It’s a possibility! I’m open to a lot of different things…we’ll see where this ride takes me 🙂

  21. November 1, 2010 1:40 pm

    I covet that big ol block of cocoa butter. Is that odd? I also would love to reach through this screen and get that chocolate. You can keep the sea vegetables, but the chocolate? I’ll arm wrestle you for it! Yay for finishing week 1.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 1, 2010 4:44 pm

      Haha, not odd at all! I’d love to take that thing home with me!

      Arm wrestle for the chocolate? Yikes, I’m not at all confident I’d win! But luckily, I’d be more than happy to share anyway 😀

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