Today I want to introduce you to one of my friends and fellow dessert makers, Malcolm Saunders. He is the creator/owner of the Light Cellar, a superfood and herb dispensary complete with an elixir bar and teaching kitchen. I recently spent some time up in Calgary, AB at the Light Cellar, where I shared a couple raw dessert classes; 'Milk n' Cookies Upgrade and Super Sweets.' It was a delight to share time with everyone there, and experience the beauty in Canada!
>> 'Creative Visionary of The Light Cellar, Malcolm Saunders is an Intuitive Chef who specializes in the Alchemy of Superfoods and Superherbs. He has an expertise and passion for creating, and teaching others how to make, many special energizing and healing creations, including raw chocolate, elixirs and fermented foods.
Malcolm’s desire is to inspire others to live and eat from a space of peace, sustainability, and consciousness by illuminating all aspects of the power of influence our food choices have on ourselves, other beings, and the planet we live on.' << From the Light Cellar website.
As you can see, it's a wonderful vision! I'm so thankful to have spent time in Calgary and to learn from a great teacher. We discovered many herbal medicinals and edible wild foods on the walks we took, both in the mountainous forests and the urban pathways. We went to gather spring water flowing freely and drank this my whole time there! For one of the classes we foraged for spruce tips and ate a few fresh, bursting with a fresh tangy astringency, then used the rest for a soda made by combining a spruce tip tea and raw honey. Take a look at the photos and enjoy our foraged goods!
It was such a short trip, and I can't wait to return!! We shared an interview that I hope you will enjoy below. Here we share with you some really great insights into building a successful sustainable business, inspirations on raw chocolate and desserts, and lots of herbal wisdom.
And be sure to read to the end, you don't want to miss Malcom's incredible recipe for Alchemy of Love: Chocolate Rose Fudge!!
J: What is Dessert Medicine to you?
M: Adding in superfoods or superherbs, things with that potential medicinal benefit, in an easy to consume delivery format.
J: How did you first discover superfoods and herbs?
M: I was working at a health food store, and at that time I was vegetarian. And you know the kind of run on commentary about vegetarians at that time was, ‘where do you get your protein?’ There was guy named Charles Holmes who had started a company called Living Harvest and he came through with hemp seeds, hemp protein and hemp oil and just watched one by one people would come in get so turned on by hemp. It really stuck out that this food has power and makes a massive difference in people’s lives and to me that was one of the key signs of what a superfood is. Keep doing what you are doing but add in one superfood, they feel it, they experience a difference and they just want more.
J: What inspired you to make a business out of Raw Chocolate?
M: Always had a love of chocolate and most everyone else that, you pretty much either love chocolate or you don’t like it. Not a middle path with chocolate. Always loved chocolate and then as I got into making my own food, everything from scratch. Chocolate was one of those final frontiers of things that I never conceived of trying to make myself, of any kind of common food that I was consuming. So that was big revelation, that I could make it myself. And then when I started experimenting, creating our own chocolate, as many people find, it is just so fun and so satisfying and it is a way you can really change your world and your chocolate experience. It is changing so much say from 10 years ago where if you wanted chocolate you had to basically settle for less. ‘I wouldn’t normally eat white sugar, but… I really want some chocolate” and that was just in every single chocolate bar. Primarily it provides, when you create it yourself, the ability to customize it and upgrade the ingredients that you want to consume. And the idea of chocolate fits perfectly in with Dessert Medicine, where it becomes this phenomenal delivery system that is tasty, that is enjoyable, that everyone loves and you can put so many things into it.
J: I tried your fennel pollen chocolate and longevity chocolate with bee pollen and bee propolis. They were both so delicious, the flavors were very unique and I have never seen raw chocolate with that much variety of flavors.
M: Yeah, that is the potential of chocolate. What I like to call the alchemy of chocolate making. Is that it is so wide and so diverse and humans, we are creative bunch, we will try just about everything. Chocolate alchemy inspires creativity, flavor combinations, new foods, unique foods and it is just a perfect medium for it all.
J: I was at your space recently, and it is just gorgeous, I love what you do. How do you see the growth of your space and business? Specifically the educational aspect and how it affects your community?
M: We can carry on from the idea of chocolate. When I first started making my own chocolate and getting into the idea, started showing friends and getting them into the concept, I didn’t know anyone making their own chocolate. And even commercially, in the industry, there are plenty of chocolatiers but very few chocolate makers. It is more of a rare thing. Most people will buy pre-made chocolate, melt it down and turn it into candies and confections. Which is to be a chocolatier. Where a chocolate maker, again, it relates to this idea of people wanting to get connected with their food and the source and the story behind it. So there is more draw towards it. So there is that growth and increased interest in reconnecting to their food, which ultimately is about reconnecting to themselves, in our mass consumer society and culture, this industrial food system, people are feeling very disconnected, and food is one of those great places to reconnect with nature and oneself and make a difference in the world on their own personal life and see how far-reaching those food choices have in helping to change the world. So, people feel more empowered, when they come to a class and see they can do it. They are empowered, they are inspired, whether it is chocolate making, fermenting or making an elixir, it is really empowering and I have seen the community here in Calgary, as it is in other parts, it is really growing and blossoming as people take their own food sovereignty back into their hands.
J: What is your favorite superfood and herb and why?
M: Well, favorite superfood I would have to say, Chocolate. For some of the reasons we mentioned, it just speaks and touches so deep for everyone. In terms of its flavor and its experience and its ability to be magical and transport you somewhere else in your day and in your moment and that it can be used as that delivery system for so many other superfoods and herbs to be mixed and combined with it. There is this really neat idea that you will never build a tolerance to chocolate. Meaning that every time you have that one small bite it still produces that same wonderful, magical feeling, and transportation to another realm.
And superherb… Reishi, probably my favorite superherb, not only because it is supposed to be the most scientifically studied herbs, there is so much research out on its numerous, numerous benefits. So, it is has the science behind it, with such a long, long history, with people and our reverence for it. And it is a gateway into the whole kingdom of fungi. It is one of those things that you can share about it and suddenly peoples worlds open up and receptivity to medicinal mushrooms or this idea of fungi and mushrooms in general being that noble representation of that whole kingdom. Mushrooms can often get a reputation, bad wrap, or being tossed aside as being equivalent to drugs, psychedelics, this, that or you know, decomposers of the underworld. But you have this beautiful reishi that is a way into that whole magical realm and magical kingdom.
J: Can you tell me about the last dessert that you made?
M: That would have been last night. Went out to the garden and I picked some rhubarb. So, fresh rhubarb with apples and pears and strawberries. And then turned that into a delicious crumble. With almond flour, and spouted buckwheat, with a mixture of coconut oil and butter and sun-dried cane juice crystals and mixed up and that is the topping on top of the fruit. It is one those things that I would not call anyone in my family as having any sort of special culinary abilities or traditions. But both sides of the family, being British, both Scottish and English, one kind of common recipe and dish that I have such a good fond memory of is, we always got crumble. Their parents each had their own version of crumble and my parents did that as well and that continued on that I really enjoy and I bring that to my family table.
J: What inspires you?
M: Creativity, connecting to myself and my own intuition, I am really big on the concept of not only intuitive eating but intuitive chefing. If we keep the theme to food, it is exploring my own self, my own body, my own state in relationship to the world, the seasons and constantly always being in tune with what my body might need or want. And in response to all the various factors and conditions that are going on around me in my environment and intuiting into that, based upon the nutrients I am going to consume but then also how best to prepare it or prepare anything in any one given time and intuitively feeling into that.
J: I know you are a forager, what was the last foraged edible that you harvested?
M: Apart from the rhubarb, not really wild, it was more of a picking in the garden. It was with you when we picked the spruce tips, of anything in any great quantity. Spruce tips, that we made into a spruce tip soda.
J: So good even fresh!
M: We just put out a recipe in our newsletter that Megan had tried and I can’t take credit for that. But she basically salted them and dehydrated them and then uses it like a sprinkle.
J: What keeps you on this path?
M: Knowing that it is my path. That this is the way that I have chosen to contribute in the world to help be that force of social change, personal change, environmental change. There is that saying that ‘you vote with your dollar’ and I think that is no more important than with your food dollar and as well as not spending a dollar in the case of growing your food, wild-crafting your own food, becoming more personally self-reliant and seeing the changes in my own life and in other people’s life. Reconnecting back to food and ultimately to themselves and to nature. It is one of the most powerful and rewarding things.
J: Do you have any words of wisdom for those on the herbal path?
M: Yeah, I used to be daunted with the whole idea and the world of herbs. One time, I specifically chosen to study nutrition and I made this division in my mind that ‘OK I am a nutritionist’ or ‘that is what I want to be’ and I had friends that were herbalists and that is the path that they had choose and we each went down this path of schooling and specialized knowledge. And I for a short time had thought of myself as not an herbalist so therefore I didn’t approach herbs with the way that I do now. Just to pick one, to pick one or two. You don’t need to know it all. And the world of herbs is an open invitation to explore and you don’t need a degree, you don’t need a doctorate, you just need that openness and that willingness to explore one at a time. And when the summer comes around, the spring, fall, when the plants are out. I treat each season as an opportunity to learn about, of course as many as I can, but maybe pick just two or three. And don’t overwhelm myself. It is easy to look at the system of Chinese herbs or Western herbs or Ayurvedic herbs and you just want to know it all or think that you should know it all. But, you don’t have to; you just need to pick one or two. Learn as much as you can, begin to explore it, eat it, and try it. Then slowly, slowly over the years you will begin to develop a deeper understanding of that entire realm.
Alchemy of Love: Chocolate Rose Fudge
>> 1 cup raw cacao butter, melted
>> 1/2 - 1 cup Cacao Powder (depending how ‘dark’ you would like it, I suggest starting with the half-cup and you can always increase from there)
>> pinch of Vanilla powder
>> 1 cup pitted dates soaked for a few hours to soften and rehydrate (pour off the soaked water and use only the rehydrated dried fruit in this recipe)
>> 1/4 cup each of rose petal powder and rose water hydrosol
Starting with melted cacao butter add all ingredients into blender then blend together well, if using a vitamix it is helpful to mix it together with the plunger.
Once done, enjoy a taste or two right away then place the rest onto tray (8x8") or into moulds and place in fridge to cool and set, about 30 minutes to 1 hour. Cut into pieces if using a tray and serve immediately or store chilled.
Learn more about the Light Cellar by checking out their website.