Cardamom Cookies

Cardamom Cookie

The ever sunny, always giving, Randy-Skippy-Arjuna (RSA) Spicocchi brought these over for dessert recently. We had what we call our “India Dinner,” an evening we host one month before departing for India where we teach at the International Yoga Festival in Rishikesh. We prepare a multi-course Indian meal together with our fellow travellers (photos here), so they can meet each other and learn about the adventure ahead. These divine little treats, laced as they are with India’s own peppery and exotic Cardamom, were the perfect sweet complement.

You may have noticed I don’t write often of sweets or treats. There are two reasons for that. The first is personal: I am Kapha enough that dessert, bread, pasta and the like, had to be struck from the plate long ago. The second reason is well explained here.

Cardamom Cookie Stack

On the other hand, every now and then we are asked to provide a dessert, or want to show our love with a treat. Some people find the stresses of the day melt away a little more easily with a morsel of something warm, soft and sweet, and, with chronic stress being arguably more dangerous to your well-being, melt away I say. Plus, some of you have asked for more baking… and, they are gorgeous, aren’t they?

Cardamom Cookie 1

I had an Acupunturist once tell me that when it comes to diet, it is important to break the rules now and then. His theory was that the digestive system needs to be challenged occasionally, and he pointed to Fergus the Forager as proof. Given that I had a bad “frites” habit at the time, I was happy to adopt that professional justification.

I could justify it Ayurvedically, too. After all, digestion is a fire. The dosha, or bio-energy, of fire is Pitta. Pitta is muscular, competitive, success-oriented. It loves a good challenge. Pitta naturally distinguishes between good and bad, right and wrong, healthy or not. Discernment is a positive quality of Pitta. Whether it is your vision, your mind, or your digestion, if you have positive Pitta, it discerns.

2013-01-31 08.26.18

I wonder then, dear reader, professor of all things healthy, connoisseur of true food and enduring nourishment, if we could say that the small intestine ~ that most Pitta of organs, responsible for the second stage of digestion, the stage where the essential is separated from the non-essential ~ actually needs a break from perfection once in a while to test its clarity, strength and power, and keep it in good working order?

What if, too, that is the principle behind all metabolism, including your mental and emotional metabolism, the heart and soul’s capacity to digest information, experience, life itself? Could cultivating your inner fires of passion, devotion, discipline, clarity, discernment really help you release the non-essential, preserve the essence, heal and grow in wisdom and compassion? I offer my husband as a thought-experiment.

Cardamom Dough

How’s that for justification?

In truth, this cookie is pretty healthy. We use a GF flour, coconut palm sugar which has a low glycemic index, good-for-you ghee instead of butter, Himalayan salt with 88 trace minerals, and, of course, Cardamom which is a Pitta support, helping metabolize sugar, and reducing those levels in the blood where it can be so dangerous.

GF flour

So when cookie cravings arise, try these. My husband saw them and pronounced them the prettiest cookies ever. After tasting one, two, and then three, he also declared them to be the very best cookies ever. From my very own world expert on cookies, that felt good to hear.

One more plus ~ I made them in less than ten minutes (plus cooking time)!

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Cardamom Cookies
Recipe adapted from Randy Spicocchi

Organic GF Flour, 2 1/4 cups
Baking Soda, 1 teaspoon
Pink (Himalayan) Salt, 1/2 teaspoon
Ghee, 1/2 cup room temperature
Organic Coconut Palm Sugar, 1 1/2 cups
Ground Cardamom, 3 teaspoons
Organic, Free-range Eggs, 2
Vanilla Extract, 2 teaspoons

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
 In a large bowl, cream together ghee and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in cardamom, eggs and vanilla extract until well combined.
With the mixer on low speed, gradually incorporate the flour mixture until the dough comes together and no streaks of dry ingredients remain. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on prepared baking sheet.
 Randy likes to sprinkle a combination of cardamom and the palm sugar over the top “for added sweetness.” I like it for the dusting of contrasting color.

Bake for about 10 minutes, until cookies are set and very light golden around the edges.
 Allow to cool for 3-4 minutes on baking sheets, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 2 dozen.

Baking Cardamom Cookies

Cardamom is mother nature’s answer to our occasional need for a sweet splurge. Isn’t she amazing to always anticipate our needs? Next time you need a little extra comfort, I hope you will enjoy these Cardamom Cookies and savor Mother’s Love.

Cardamom

What warms your heart when life’s seasons turn cold?

~

P.S. Have you seen my new website, with information about my upcoming Winter Cleanse?

Thank you & Namaste!



			
		

Dressing Up with Cardamom

What do you feel like eating these days? After all the cake, cookies, bread, rich foods and sweet drinks? I don’t know about you, but in between the holiday celebrations I want plain and simple: simple to make, simple to eat and, frankly, simple to digest.

So the other day I made this ~

Cheese Melt with Garden Greens & Yogurt Cardamom Dressing

The next day I made this ~

Kichari with our own Garden Greens & Yogurt Cardamom Dressing

And the next day I was so in love with this dressing, I ate it straight from the jar…

Dipped with bread or rolled up greens, it makes a tasty snack

This dressing is divine ~ utterly perfect when you want to eat plain and simple, yet unique and magical enough to accompany any New Year’s Eve dinner.  So here is the most wonderful dressing you will ever make, just in time to celebrate the most wonderful person you are and the most wonderful year you are about to begin.

Freshly ground Cardamom

But first a little about Cardamom:

Cardamom has this special “Prabhav” which is a word that sort of means magic. It is a way of defining herbs and spices that have a special potency, or a very unique intelligence that our own terrific human intelligence can’t easily explain or categorize. In the case of Cardamom, it has this particular way of strengthening digestion, while helping to increase moisture throughout the body. If you think about it, that means that Cardamom simultaneously kindles your fire while watering your system. Since water usually extinguishes fire, that seems like magic to me.

Plus, it is so medicinal while tasting so incredibly other-worldy. Because it is warm and moist, cardamom is excellent for Vata, meaning any place, season, time or person in which the Air element is dominant, a condition which shows up as windy, cold, dry, erratic or scattered. Cardamom warms, grounds, hydrates, soothes and improves digestion ~ especially helpful after the holidays, no?

Ground Cardamom gives this Dressing its Prabhav

It’s best to purchase Cardamom in pods, not only because these tiny flowers of ginger are gorgeous but because once ground, flavor escapes quickly. When ready to use, peel open the pods, shake out the seeds and grind. Use a mortar and pestle ~ the seeds submit easily. A spice mill or coffee grinder will do just fine, as well.

Once you make this Dressing you can keep it in a tightly covered jar in the fridge or a week, although it is delicious on everything, so it is not likely to last. And remember that to be Ayurvedic, salad follows the main course, of course!  

Click on Recipe for a Print Version

~

Finally, I want to thank you for journeying with me through the Ayurvedic kitchen this year. In 2012, I plan to travel the world, so to speak, exploring diverse culinary traditions and adapting recipes according to Ayurvedic wisdom to enhance wellness. The working title is Six Tasting the World. Let me know what you think.

I hope you will join me on this great adventure, starting in January by first establishing the basics. Meanwhile, I wish you a safe, happy, and fulfilling New Year celebration.

See you in the New Year.  Namaste! 

Cardamom’s Divine Delight

Calling all foodies, bloggers, wizards and mermaids, adventurers, lovers, dreamers and inventors, Buddhas, Sages, Sadhakas and Yogis! Inside of you is something eternal and infinite; something as great as a mountain, as vast as an ocean, as beautiful as a star, as sweet as honey, as miraculous as a rainbow. It is a power that knows no bounds. A capacity to create, to heal, to love, to light up the world. You were born to know the magnificence of life, the power within, the radiance of your own truth, the joy of service and the deep, delightful endurance of love.

In this divine time when we string lights on every tree, mantel, and eave, allow me to celebrate the miracle of you. Allow me, if you will, to celebrate all that light and love alive in you, dancing, pulsing,  surging, radiating through you with the most divine of spices, Cardamom.

Cardamom Pods

To me, Cardamom is love and light in a pod. It is beauty and wisdom, knowing just what we need physically, while inspiring us emotionally. Cardamom is the journeyer’s companion, the sensual spark to a Yogi’s inner flame.

Oh Cardamom, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways… Next week, I will! For now, I give you three comforting, delicious ways to stay warm and grounded this time of year. 2 out of 3 are Vegan and all 3 are, or can be made, gluten-free. Therefore, they make excellent “hand-crafted” gifts, and hearty, conversation-starting party foods.

cardamom rose truffles
Cardamom Rose Delights

1 cup shredded coconut
6 medjool dates
1 tbls almond butter
1 tbls coconut oil
1 tsp cardamom powder
2 tsp rose water
pinch of salt

Process all ingredients in food processor until mixture is quite smooth. Form into balls or press into molds. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

Melissa’s Incredibly Moist Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups Pamela’s gluten free baking mix
1 egg substitute (Melissa uses oil, water, & baking powder mix)
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 bag vegan choc chips
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch or two of cardamom

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all the ingredients together, adding water (or spiced apple cider as I did) as needed to moisten and form balls. Cook on parchment paper ~ 10-11 min. They may look soft but do not overcook.


Liscia’s
Cardamom Banana Bread

2/3 cup raisins or currants
1/3 cup dark rum or apple cider
1 cup unbleached White flour (or a gluten-free flour of your choice)
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour (or more gluten-free flour or Liscia says try rice flour!)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
3 ripe bananas
1/3 cup canola or corn oil (Liscia also likes coconut oil)
3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 eggs
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-10 inch loaf pan.

2. In a small saucepan, combine the raisins or currants with the rum or cider, and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat, and let the pan sit for 10 minutes.

3. While they are soaking, combine in a large bowl the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cardamom. Mix well. In a smaller bowl mash bananas with a fork. Add the oil and brown sugar, and beat for 1 minute. Add eggs beating more. With a spoon, stir this mixture into the flour mixture until the ingredients are well blended. Stir in walnuts, the soaked raisins, and their liquid. Pose the mixture into greased loaf pan.

4.  Bake the bread 50-60( but check around 30-40!) until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven, place it on a rack, and let the bread cool for 10 mins before you remove it from the pan. Wrapped well, this bread keeps at room temperature for 5 days, and longer if refrigerated.

Caramom:Ginger Flower
Cardamom Flower

Celebrating You as the light we celebrate this season, reminds me of St. Teresa of Avila‘s powerful call to the awakened life ~

“Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
No hands but yours, 
no feet but yours;
Yours are the eyes through which 
Christ’s Compassion is to look out to the world;
Yours are the feet by which he is to go about
 doing good;
Yours are the hands with which he is to bless us now.”

Katariina Fagering’s Jesus-Ubuntu

May we all take up the call, inspired by the season, encouraged by our saints and sages,
and fortified by Cardamom’s loving light.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holy Days ~
Namaste! 

Sesame Bliss

Ganesh DelightsLast night we had dinner at home with four wonderful, conscious friends. One of them, Ninh-ji, who began his life in Vietnam, brought the dessert. It looked at first like a delightfully simple silken tofu warmed in an electric pot. Indeed, that is all it was, but served with a ginger syrup, it became divine, sweet succulence. Plus, it turned out to be only the first of three dessert courses!

The next two desserts were utterly inspiring for their color, artistry, alchemy. Little bite-size delicacies of sesame, rice and mung beans, almost like deconstructed Kichari reimagined and delicately sweetened. These treats were not only a delight to the senses, but such healthy, whole body nourishment that when offered seconds, you felt permission, nay encouraged, to say, “Yes please!”

Ninh-ji had carefully selected each of these treats from his favorite local Vietnamese Bakery, telling us that they are very complicated to make. “Not even my mother was able to make this and she was a great cook!”

I looked today for a picture or recipe online, but don’t know the names and found nothing quite right. I did find this Blog with its colorful, photographic list of many Vietnamese desserts. Also, while not as gorgeous, this site has recipes.  And, for cultural culinary adventurers, there is a whole world of Asian sweets to explore here.

Sesame Balls

Instead, I remembered a recipe received yesterday that would make a good substitute. These Sesame Bliss Balls from the Chopra Center are not as artistic, but they are simple to construct, flavorful and every bit as fortifying.

I had to share them with you as they are ideal for the Autumn Balancing Act: Sesame is tonifying, healing and hydrating. Ginger is soothing, calming, and immune-boosting. Cumin and Cardamom work with Ginger to aid digestion and add flavor. Ghee is a prime healer, with innumerable benefits ~ a few of which are mentioned by the Chopra Experts below.

I am off to make these now for a gang of young boys. Lead by our 13-year old, they have been running around the neighborhood all afternoon, engaged in a playful “Battle,” and are now calling out for snacks worthy of a Victory Feast! Wish me luck…

Namaste ~ 

A Spicy Autumn Tea

Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Cloves

How do you keep your energy from falling like the leaves this Autumn? Warming spices like nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom will stabilize your health and boost your immune. You can add spices to anything ~ to breakfast, lunch and dinner, to salads, meats, milks, desserts and drinks.

Consider this Spice Tea Recipe and sage advice from our friend, Haunani Chong Drake  ~

During the change of the seasons, Vata, the energy of movement, is predominant. It’s important to avoid excesses at this time and to nurture moderation and stress-free living to keep the immune system functioning at its peak performance.

General food guidelines to follow at this time of the year include:
1) Eat foods that are sweet (whole grains, not cookies), sour & salty (rock salt, not potato chips)
2) Limit the intake of spicy, raw, cold, and light foods, i.e. cold salads, sushi, and cold bean salads.
3) Enjoy warm, cooked foods, a variety of proteins, and healthy fats.

Consider sipping on the following Vata Balancing Tea throughout the day to help make the transition of the seasons easier on the mind and body.

Cinnamon

Ingredients
Serving size: 1 cup
1 cup Water
1/4 tsp fresh Ginger, grated
1/4 tsp ground Cardamom
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ajwain*
Optional: Sucanat or Rice syrup, to taste

*Ajwain is available at most natural or Asian food stores, but can be replaced with a lesser amount of Oregano if you can’t find it locally. 

Directions
Bring water to a boil. Remove from heat and add spices. Cover and steep, or use a coffee/tea press, for 3-5 minutes. Sweeten to taste & serve.

~

Haunani Chong

To learn more about Haunani, who is also a Yoga Teacher and Hawaiian Ha Healer, please visit her Blog, Haunani Chong, Transformational Leader in Integrative Medicine, where she has also posted Recipes for Pitta and Kapha balancing Teas. 

Wishing you a bountiful, balanced Autumn ~

Namaste!