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‘Tis the Season: Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Hemp Bark and Savory Pot-Leaf Pesto

Cannabis foodie and blogger Pam of “Twice Baked In Washington” gives us two recipes for some serious holiday yum.

Diagnosed with scoliosis as a kid, Pam, a personal trainer and health coach, discovered in 2011 that pain pills, muscle relaxers, anti-inflammatory meds and exercise were no longer effective in treating her pain.

When she decided to follow her husband’s suggestion and try medical marijuana, what followed was an enlightening trial-and-error ride through the medical cannabis community – and a blog,Twice Baked In Washington, that catalogued every step.

Pam of Twice Baked in Washington

Pam of Twice Baked in Washington.

Focused on the edibles end of marijuana-as-medicine, Twice Baked has, since its inception in December 2012, successfully staked out a niche among marijuana epicures by featuring delicious, sweet and savory recipes with an often dairy and gluten free twist. There are also personal revelations about ‘coming out of the cannabis closet’ to one’s family, experimenting with ‘backdoor medicine’ in the form of marijuana suppositories, and vlogs featuring a spritely Pam monologue-ing before X-Ray images of her dramatically curved spine.

Here, Pam talks about her evolution as a cannabis foodie, blogger, and advocate, offers some insights about the virtues of raw cannabis leaves, gives us a few tips on cooking with cannabis and a major bonus:  two cannabis-themed holiday treats – an irresistible chocolate hemp bark infused with coffee and spices you can stuff in your favorite stoner’s stocking, and some cannabis fan-leaf pesto that’s so delicious you’ll forget it’s actually good for you.

What were your first experiments like in cooking with cannabis – where were you getting your knowledge?

It took some time, and was frankly overwhelming at first – the experience of being a first-time patient with no connections in the cannabis world. I got a recommendation at a clinic, and I didn’t feel like I fit in; It felt dirty somehow – as if patients were considered second-class citizens. At the time I didn’t know anyone else who used marijuana; I’m the only one in my ‘tribe’ who does, and they still have a hard time wrapping their brains around it.

That’s one of the reasons I started the blog – I was looking for a voice like mine, and couldn’t find any.

Eventually I found a cannabis farmer’s market near my house, and that’s where I really began my education. I wasn’t learning anything at dispensaries. At the market I could spend 15-20 minutes with each vendor and ask all kinds of questions. They are knowledgeable about the plant and how it grows.

My greatest sources have been the people that I’ve met – they have told me where to go and different insights about the history of prohibition, and the benefits of hemp. I’ve learned more from people than any book.

In the beginning I was only seeing the extremes: Either people were using marijuana to help them with cancer or seizures or totally debilitating illnesses – or they were using I to get high. I didn’t see many other people using it as a health supplement.

How has cannabis affected your own approach to treatment?

Ironically the research I did to learn about cannabis helped me to understand my own scoliosis and an autoimmune disorder that I deal with. They are far more neurological than I was ever told or enlightened about by my doctors. And with cannabis you’re addressing the neurological aspects, interacting directly with your own endocannabinoid system. In lay terms – I’m basically feeding my brain the things it’s not getting. I have a brain that tells my back to start twisting itself – so I need something to tell my brain to calm down. If your receptors are firing too fast, it slows them down. The cannabis fills the void of what is missing.

If the endocannabinoid system  is functioning properly, then this affects the immune system, the nervous system – all systems really.

So why did you decide to use food as the delivery system – why not just smoke it?

I think smoking marijuana is a great social way to use it, but I don’t smoke for my medicine, because it’s a huge waste. You’re wasting 70% of the plant – and I find that mind-boggling. You don’t always absorb all the cannabinoids in the plant by smoking it.

In the past two years I’ve had a drastic change in my own medicine. Most edibles at dispensaries are so full of sugar and all kinds of stuff I don’t want to eat, and I find consuming candies for my medicine offensive.

Vaping is a little different, by the way. It doesn’t destroy all the matter inside, so you can eat it afterwards.

My greatest discovery was actually juicing the raw cannabis leaves, which I’ve been doing now almost daily for over a year. I’m not a grower – so it’s been a challenge to meet growers who can provide raw leaf with any consistency. I’ve really had to put myself out there because juicing it raw has been the most effective way to boost my health. It will make you feel 10 years younger. You’ll have more energy more libido, less pain, no inflammation.

Sustaining the medical market is important to me because it allows me access to raw leaf matter and to strains used specifically for pain. It would be great if they allowed you to grow 6 plants – although I don’t know if that would be enough for me to juice it every day.

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Raw cannabis leaves and flower, good enough to eat.

What would you recommend for people just beginning to cook with cannabis?

The most important thing is just to have an open mind, and then educate yourself on what the experience might be like. Go slow, make your first dosage really low. Have respect for what you’re doing – remember that you’re eating something that will change your perceptions and could make you feel really good or make you uncomfortable – it’s the difference between drinking a couple of shots of tequila and drinking the whole bottle.

I had an experience in the beginning where I sampled a chocolate that I had made and underestimated the levels of THC. I went out to run some errands, and had to ask someone to drive for me because I was so high. It was embarrassing, and uncomfortable. But the experience allowed me to have a greater respect for this plant and what it can do.

In the beginning the cooking was can be very daunting. I was going to the dispensary and then putting a whole ounce of marijuana in some heated oil, alone in my kitchen, trying to figure out how to make myself healthy.

Now I do feel like I’ve got a good grasp with cooking – of when, how much and in what dish. I feel humbled all the time, because there’s always more to learn.

Because of the blog you now do appearances and cooking demos. How did you grow your audience?

I started promoting the blog on line, through social media channels. I also started showing up at industry events and parties. Over the course of a year I just kept showing up, which added a level of legitimacy and helped me earn peoples’ trust. In the marijuana community they warmly embrace other patients, but they don’t necessarily trust everyone. That requires a lot of consistency. So I was networking, networking, networking, and finally I started to get invitations to appear at places, to do demos and speak.

I’ve been so positively affected by cannabis. It bothers me that it has such a negative reputation. I felt a more ‘normal’ face could be put on this medicine, something other than watching people doing bong rips on youtube. I’m like a character – I’m in my sweats at home, but when I’m out in the world and promoting the blog or talking about cannabis I try to project the image of a healthy, vibrant, ‘normal’ woman.

And I don’t edit myself. I try to be as authentic as possible – and that seems to be what people respond to. People are in pain and need some source of information. The blog doesn’t make me any money – it’s a labor of love. I wouldn’t be able to do this if it didn’t fire me.

Recipes:

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Dark Chocolate Coffee Spiced Hemp Bark

  • 1 1/3C dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4C cashews, chopped
  • 1/4C almonds, chopped
  • 1/3C hemp seeds
  • 1/4 C chopped dried pears and raisins
  • 1t cardamom
  • 2T coffee beans,  finely chopped
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Et Voila! Dark Chocolate Hemp Bark.

  1. Melt 1C of your chocolate gently in a double boiler and add cardamom.
  2. Combine all your dry ingredients.
  3. Pour melted chocolate over parchment paper and spread to about 1/4 inch thin.
  4. Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the chocolate and press into the pan with your fingers.
  5. Heat up remaining 1/3C of chocolate and drizzle over the top.
  6. Chill until set in fridge or freezer. Take out and break into bit size pieces and serve or store in in an airtight container in the fridge.

Raw Cannabis Flower and Hemp Pesto

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Veggie version.

  • 1C Basil
  • 1C Parsley
  • 3/4C Fresh, raw Cannabis buds (or fresh leaves)
  • 1/4C hemp hearts
  • 1/4C walnuts
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3T Lemon juice
  • 1/3C hemp seed oil
  • salt and pepper

Put all ingredients into a food processor and blend until desired smoothness. If needed, add more lemon juice and/or hemp seed oil to thin the mixture out.