LoveFestJourney & A Dark Chocolate Orange Cake

07 February

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I have a confession to make. Ok, here it goes. I am not much of a chocolate fan (it’s officially out in the open), although I probably may seem to be from all the goodness I share on my Instagram account. I’m seriously obsessed with chocolate photography and from time to time I do enjoy chocolate paired with something. And if we are going to be completely honest here, and this is the space where all truth must be told – I’m a custard-vanilla fan all the way when I indulge in sweets. Well, I do in fact love cacao and enjoy it in a variety of ways – in smoothies, raw desserts and in a decadent mousse, but to sit and enjoy a dark chocolate bar… that’s a totally different story. I always pass the baton. But when it comes to baking a cake for a beautiful mama-to-be, I jumped at the chance to satisfy all tastebuds, cravings and see her beautiful smile. I’ve been following Valentina’s blog for a while and I fell in love with her approach on eating holistically, her relationship with food and taking the time to listen to her body to build the most nourishing home for a baby. We share similar views when it comes to healing naturally and really looking within to nurture the body back to health. I too found myself throughout my studies highly interested in women’s health, specifically focusing on pregnancy and fertility. After all, shouldn’t we all be eating this healthy? In collaborating on this blog post with Valentina, I quickly learned of her cravings for dark chocolate and decided to make a rich Dark Chocolate Cake infused with Blood Orange for her to enjoy. Before we get to the cake, I would love to welcome this sensational mama-to-be to Garden Heart.


Valentina’s Portrait Photography by Fiona Struengmann | Website | Instagram

I haven’t always been interested in food and nutrition.

Before looking at my body as a house – a house that would help me to regulate my period, to help me get pregnant, to help make me feel good – I ate like most other ‘healthy’ people. I had a basic understanding of what was good for me and what wasn’t but I didn’t really know why. I enlisted in a course at the same school as Elli, The Institute of Holistic Nutrition (IHN), almost a year ago now. The course was focused on women’s health and pregnancy, something I am insanely passionate about. I would leave the classes once a week feeling ready to explode with all of the goodness I had learned.

By the end of the course in April 2014, I felt so full of knowledge but I wasn’t sure what to do with it. After leaving my previous job at the end that month, I knew I had to channel this energy into something good. Into something that could help other woman who were on this same journey as me.

In May 2014, I started Lovefestjourney, a website, a place, where women could come and read about my story and endeavor to heal my body through food and holistic practices with the goal of eventually getting pregnant. For almost a year I had worked with my body to build up all of the nutrients and goodness I would need to make a baby.

As with any journey, there were obstacles, lots of them. Overcoming a diagnosis of polycycstic ovaries, dealing with secondary amenorrhea, struggling to overcome the mental barrier of thinking getting pregnant would be difficult, ridding my life and body of any and all unnecessary stress and negative energy. It was a powerful thought, but on September 1, 2014 I took a test that would change my way of thinking forever. Two magical lines appeared for me and I savoured every minute of that experience. I was so proud of myself for not giving up, for sticking with my plan and for defying the odds in getting pregnant solely by how I chose to take care of my body.


“While each of these techniques has inherent benefits and application, the overall goal of yoga is to achieve union with our true or higher Selves. In this context yoga can be anything – gardening, prayer, cooking – whatever helps us move ourselves to a higher vibration, or state of consciousness.”
Fully Fertile by Elisabeth Heller, Tami Quinn and Jeanie Lee Bussel

It was through this journey that I connected with Elli. Seeing her delicious food posts and photographs, bonding over our love for fertility and pregnancy, we were a friendship that was meant to be! When she first approached me to write on her blog, I was thinking of all the various things I would want to share my thoughts on- there are so many things to take note of when dealing with our sensitive bodies, especially in relation to fertility and pregnancy. However, one obvious thing came to mind. I love food. I love cooking, I love eating healthy and I love the idea and notion that one can nourish and heal their body with food. After starting LFJ, I really came to believe and live with this mentality.


I had a very challenging first trimester of my pregnancy. I was nauseous all of the time, most of the foods that I normally loved to eat all of a sudden turned me off. For me this included most raw and cooked vegetables, most seeds and nuts, salads and home made soups. Smoothies were my biggest savior. In general, cooking anything was a challenge. I couldn’t stand looking at food photography or reading recipes, which was a very big change from what I was used to. Around 15 weeks I noticed a shift – I was able to stomach tomatoes again, beets finally looked good and dark leafy greens were welcomed back into my home!

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The second trimester has been a whole other adventure (I am currently 26 weeks pregnant). Citrus and Chocolate. All the time. Bitter, dark, cold chocolate. Huge juicy grapefruits and more clementine’s than anyone can imagine. Every single day. At first I didn’t notice it, but with the constant repetition it was hard not to. My husband finally noticed when I started taking a very new, keen interest in the various types of chocolate bars I was buying at our local grocery store. Fair trade, organic, yes, but some came with salt, almonds, others with caramel, or cayenne pepper. It was a whole new world to me.

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At a certain point I took notice and I checked in. Sure, I could continue to eat chocolate forever but I was so curious about what was really going on. Of the many amazing things I learned at IHN, it was that pregnancy cravings usually symbolize something else. In this case, I figured I might potentially be low in Magnesium. After adding various nuts high in Magnesium (sunflower and pumpkin seeds to mention a few) to my oatmeal or yogurt in the morning, I noticed my cravings going down significantly.

Magnesium is a mineral that your body needs to form bone, protein and fatty acids. It helps to balance hormones, keep you ‘regular’, and can help you sleep more fully and soundly. It is a natural muscle relaxant and because of this, can help to prevent premature contractions in pregnancy by relaxing the muscles of the uterus. So many people are deficient in Magnesium so taking a close look at what your body is craving (pregnant or not) can be hugely beneficial.

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Having the power and knowledge to address what’s going on and to take care of it yourself (or with the help of a practitioner) is one of the most empowering things you can do. Although there are so many books and websites aimed at helping women get their bodies ‘ready’ for pregnancy. For me, I found a lot of them overwhelming, some of them just had too much information for me to really sift through and figure out what I really needed. Through LFJ I created a 21day Holistic Eating and Living Journey that I think really helped me to achieve my goal. Taking your body into your own hands not only gives you the power, but it is also so self –motivating. When you start to see changes, when you start to see results, you know you’re doing the best thing you possibly can for not only yourself, but also for your future babies. I am firm believer that it isn’t just one thing that will heal you, it is a total mind body connection that you need to really get the full experience.

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Cooking for yourself, simple breathing exercises, a nourishing snack, an afternoon nap – these are the things that will help to balance your body, slow you down and eventually help you to prepare your body for one of the most amazing journey’s you can ever imagine.

Dark Chocolate Orange Cake
  • Dry Ingredients
  • 1 cup sorghum flour
  • ½ cup amaranth flour
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla bean powder
  • ¼ tsp. pink salt
  • ½ cup toasted carob powder
  • ⅔ cup coconut sugar

  • Wet Ingredients
  • 1 cup blood orange juice
  • 2 tbsp. ghee or coconut oil
  • 1-2 tbsp. orange zest
  • ½ cup unsweetened apple butter (with no added sugars)
  • 1-2 dark chocolate (70%) bars (750g each)

  • Chocolate Glaze and Filling
  • 4 cans coconut milk (chilled)
  • 2-4 tbsp. raw honey
  • 1 tbsp. toasted carob powder
  • 2 tbsp. cacao powder
  • pinch of vanilla bean powder
  • ½ cup raw walnuts

  • Toppings
  • orange slices
  • orange zest
  1. Place 4 cans of coconut milk in the refrigerator to chill overnight or for at least 4 hours.
  2. On parchment paper, slice oranges and zest. Leave them overnight to dehydrate on their own.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. Line an 8-inch spring form pan with parchment paper and lightly coat it with ghee or coconut oil.
  5. In a bowl, sift all dry ingredients and stir them well together. Set aside.
  6. In a separate bowl, add all wet ingredients and whisk them together. Add them slowly into the dry mixture.
  7. Pour mixture into the spring form pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  8. Cool cake for 20-30 minutes. Remove from spring form pan and let it sit to cool completely.
  9. If you wish to make the second layer of the cake, repeat the process. You can add the filling in between the two layers. But if you choose to keep it simple with one layer, I assure you it will look just as beautiful with just the one layer plus glaze. There is no need for the second layer but you'll impress a crowd with having two layers with filling, glaze and toppings. (in this blog post the images consist of: two cakes with filling in the middle and glaze on top).
  10. To make the filling and glaze: scoop the top layer of the chilled coconut milk. It should look like a thick cream. Set aside the liquid for smoothies. Whisk the thick coconut cream, vanilla, and raw honey well together. Slowly add the carob and cacao powder into the glaze and blend in well. Transfer the filling on top of the first cake. Add the second cake layer and the rest of the glaze add on top. If you are making this a one layer cake, use half the ingredients for the chocolate glaze.
  11. Add toppings and enjoy!

To conclude this beautiful article by Valentina, I thought I share with you a few photos from my photoshoot with May Lindstrom for her Special Limited Edition Collection. It launched yesterday, dearest friends!! Make sure you check out the beautiful video that takes you through the ritual. Hold on tight! So much more to come your way on this soon.

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  1. wow, you are beyond stunning. wow.

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