MA’s Chocolate Tart + Dosha Bars Giveaway

Melissa Ambrosini Chocolate Orange Tart

Nowadays we make friends in such new and interesting ways – over the ethers of email, blogs, social media. I call them “my blog friends” and at least for me, it’s not until I actually get to be with this person in person that I realize I have never actually met them in person. 

Such is the way with Melissa Ambrosini (love that her initials are MA). Melissa is the divine beauty who writes and blogs and generally loves the world from her bright perch over Sydney’s seafront. After years of connecting via Skype and following each other’s travels on Instagram, Melissa just called to say that she’s coming to visit. I love that odd feeling that combines looking forward to seeing a great friend with the anticipation of meeting someone new. (Robyn Field, you’re next!)

In honor of friendship, which is the divine love I am celebrating this Valentine’s Day, Melissa has given me permission to share her Chocolate & Orange Tart. I hope you love it. I know you will love her.

Melissa’s Chocolate & Orange Tart

For the base:

2 ½ c shredded coconut
½ t vanilla bean powder (I used vanilla extract and it worked just fine)
½ t cinnamon
4 T coconut oil
1 egg
Pinch of salt
½ t liquid stevia (if you don’t like stevia, try 1 tablespoon maple syrup)

For the filling:

Zest and juice of 2 oranges
1/4 t liquid stevia (or to taste)
3 eggs (free range and organic)
6 T coconut oil
3 T cacao powder
2 T cacao butter, melted

Blend all base ingredients in food processor. Line the base of a pie pan with non-stick paper. Press base mixture into the pan and up the sides about 1 cm high. Press and pack firm. Bake in an oven on 140 degrees until golden brown, then remove from oven to cool down.

To make the filling, whisk eggs in a saucepan. Add coconut oil and place on a gentle heat until oil is melted into eggs while stirring constantly to avoid the eggs clumping. Once melted, add orange juice, orange zest (reserve a generous pinch for garnish), cacao and stevia. Keep stirring until the mixture starts to get silky. Avoid it getting too thick as the oil will separate.

Take off heat. Press the mixture through a strainer into the cooled base, leaving only zest in the strainer. Shake the pan until the filling covers the whole base evenly. Place in fridge to set (approximately 2 hours). Serve with grated orange zest on top.

Note: You can make these into little tartlets if you prefer.

Melissa Ambrosini's Gut Healthy Brownie

This recipe, along with the gut-healthy chocolate brownie  pictured above, and made with the genius of a sweet potato, are two of many gorgeous recipes in Melissa’s Glow Kitchen Recipe eBook.

As you’ll see from her recipes, Melissa chooses high protein, clean foods, influenced by the seven principles of Body Ecology (a system that seems to me to come straight from Ayurveda, especially Ayurvedic principles for Vata Dosha). If you are Vegan, I have many healthy, nutritious, belly-loving and mouth watering, chocolate recipes for you here.

Dosha Bars

By the way, Love came to me last month in a box of Dosha Bars – delicious, unsweetened fruit and seed snacks made of ingredients that balance the three doshas. To share that love we’ve teamed up to offer 3 winners a sample kit with 3 Dosha Bars (each kit includes one of each flavor–Cherry Chakra to balance Vata, Blueberry Balance for Pitta balancing and Apple Cran Awakening to balance Kapha) AND a 12-pack of Dosha Bars (including 4 of each flavor) for one lucky lover! If you like to stay healthy in the midst of a busy life, please check out their website to learn about this young, Ayurvedic team and let’s show them some love for all their generosity.

We’ll pick randomly from the comments. So please let us know, what are you celebrating this Valentine’s Day? How is love showing up in your life? I love stories of love, so do share.

I hope Love fills you with its gifts this weekend and always. Namaste!

 

 

Pumpkin Love: Poetry in a Pie

healthy thanksgiving pumpkin pie

Pumpkin is like a mother: embracing, enhancing, enveloping. Whatever you give to pumpkin she highlights, holds, affirms.

Have you ever noticed, for instance, the way pumpkin embraces ginger, softens into cinnamon, rises up for nutmeg. She is tasteful with clove, grounding for cayenne, elegantly delightful with the green herbs of basil, sage, tarragon and thyme.

No wonder pumpkin pie feels like a warm hug.

pumpkin pie

Pumpkin is a power food when it comes to weight loss, heart health, anti-aging, and immune strength. Low in calories, pumpkin is full of fiber and rich with the antioxidants, the chemistry of youth, that help your body forgive and forget the occasional food trespass.

It is the added sugar, wheat and heavy creams that weigh down dear pumpkin, diminishing its power to lift you up. Fortunately, pumpkin is so forgiving that forgoing sugar, grain and dairy does not have to mean forgoing flavor.

How like a mother ~ forgiving and so giving!

gf paleo pumpkin pie

Personally, I think food tastes better when you can actually taste each ingredient. So it was a delight yesterday when the boys followed each bite with a chant of “Mmmm, this is so good!” But I was certain after our house painter swallowed it down with eyes of delight, gently offering me his plate afterwards with a serious, “Best I ever had, Señora.”

If it is good for someone who doesn’t owe me a compliment and isn’t used to our food ways, then I think it must be good for all. I know it is good to all, so when you serve up this pie for the holidays you can be sure you are loving your loved ones as mother nature loves you. And that is lot to be thankful for. 

grain free dairy free sugar free pumpkin pie

For this, I roasted two small pumpkins at 475F for about an hour, or until a knife ran through the middle with ease. But Pacific makes a good organic purée in a box you could use if you have less time, or want to make it in a jiff.

Healthy Pumpkin Pie

Pie Crust

2 c Hazelnuts, toasted
4 medjool Dates
hefty pinch pink Salt
1/2 t Vanilla
dash Cinnamon

Pulse all the ingredients in your electric blender until you have a chunky pulp. Press into a pie pan, spread evenly and refrigerate.

Pie Filling
1 c Cashews, soaked 2-4 hours
2 medium Pumpkins (or 4 cups Pumpkin purée)
6 Dates
1 T Coconut Oil
1 t Cinnamon
1/2 t Nutmeg
1/4 t Ginger
1/4 t Clove
1/2 t pink Salt
optional: generous splash Cardamom
2 T Chia Seeds (more if you like it firmer)
Optional: 1-2 T Raw Honey

Set your oven to 475F. Pierce your pumpkins and bake 30 minutes or until a knife cuts through easily.

Allow to cool. Slice open and remove the seeds. Peel the pulp from the skin and place in your electric blender. Add dates and purée. Drain the cashews and add along with the coconut oil and spices to your purée. Blend thoroughly. Taste and adjust your seasonings. I like lots of cinnamon and nutmeg so might have added more. Add honey according to your taste.

Add Chia Seeds, pulse lightly, just enough to mix in the seeds. Pour into the crust, cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

When ready to serve, dress it up with a shower of cinnamon, a border of hazelnuts, a maze of honey, or a waltz of raspberries. Serve with a dollop of honey or maple syrup infused yogurt.

healthy pumpkin pie

Know your dosha

If you are Vata: You might prefer it with another 2-3 dates.
If you are Pitta: Replace the honey with real maple syrup.
If you are Kapha: Increase the amount of ginger, cinnamon and clove.

If there are leftovers, this is delicious for breakfast. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Chocolate Pasta

#chocolate pastaIn a recent class we taught on Ayurveda for families, we made a “chocolate butter” (as in peanut or almond butter) demonstrating one of many examples of healthy snacks for children. With some of that chocolate butter remaining, Valentine’s Day approaching, and the inspiration of children still in my heart, I thought I’d get playful and try out the chocolate butter as a sauce for pasta.

#Valentine's Day Pasta

Thus emerged this Chocolate Pasta, a delight both easy and quick to make. I think it took all of ten minutes.

The sauce is made with cacao, so has all the health benefits of dark chocolate. If you are making this for adults, use cacao nibs. It gives an accent of bitter that really works. But if you are making this for children, cacao powder will better integrate the flavors.

#chocolate pasta

You could serve this as a side, or add your choice of protein and make it a one dish meal. I added fresh green peas as my protein, mixing them in at the very end so they would hold their fresh aliveness.

chocolate #pasta

#chocolatepasta

Once served, you can dress it up however you like. I added chives, but chopped spring onion would be great for that burst of pungency. I also like toasted or roasted sunflower seeds, but you could garnish with toasted pecans, walnuts, almonds, or pepitas. It needs that nutty bite. Best of all, I sprinkled cacao nibs over each serving. It ‘s more than a theme note, its gives the pasta a rich contrast in color, texture and taste.

VDay Chocolate Pasta

I think it worked, but would love to know what you think.

Chocolate Pasta
Serves 3-4

2 quarts water
1 cube veg broth
1 T sesame oil
1 fistful soba noodles
1-2 cups seasonal greens, shredded
1/2 t ginger powder
1/4 t garlic powder
1/8 t red pepper (the slightly milder aleppo is my preference)
gf tamari
toasted or roasted sunflower seeds
sesame seeds
chives or spring onions, chopped
red pepper flakes, optional

Chocolate Sauce
2 T Almond Butter
3 T raw cacao (powder or nibs)
1 small pear, cored and chopped
1 T Raw Honey (or 2 Medjool Dates)
pinch pink salt
pinch cinnamon
pinch cardamom

Start with the chocolate sauce. Put all the ingredients together in an electric blender and mix until well integrated and smooth. If you are using cacao nibs rather than powder be sure to mix until the nibs break down, but don’t worry if some remain solid. It will give a nice texture to the sauce when added to the pasta.

Meanwhile, boil 2 quarts of water in a saucepan. Chop up your greens and set aside. When the water comes to a boil, add the cube of vegetable broth. Stir until it dissolves, then spoon in the sesame oil. Stir in the ginger and garlic powders and red pepper. Add the soba noodles and your greens. Cook for 4-5 minutes. Turn off the heat. Gently spoon in the chocolate sauce, stirring lightly so you don’t break the pasta. Season with tamari. Taste, and a pinch of pink salt, if needed.

Chocolate Pasta VDay

Since there are at least six good reasons to celebrate with chocolate, for dessert we have many choices ~ there is this amazing Chocolate Pâté, this extraordinary Flourless Chocolate Cake, or this Chocolate Pudding, all to remind us to celebrate love not just today, but every day.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Cardamom Rice Pudding

rice pud'“As many of you know, last week, a crazy frankenstorm named Sandy hit the East Coast of the U.S. leaving millions without power, thousands evacuated from/lost their homes, several lost their lives, and it wreaked chaos and havoc across the northeastern seaboard, and affected people as far west as the Appalachians,” wrote Jenn Oliver of JennCuisine and Barb Kiebel of Creative Culinary on their blogs earlier this week.

In response to the devastation, Jenn and Barb had a great idea. “Food brings people together in good times and bad, and food can bring us together this time, to help those in need. We decided to create this event to bring the food blogging community together, so that we can join hands, and meals, and support for the victims of Sandy.”

So they asked food bloggers “that you post a comfort dish on your blog and share this need with your readers” and to post today, November 8th, with “something that you would make for someone in need, to help them feel at home. But more importantly, let’s encourage everyone to donate to relief efforts.”

rice pudding

I wanted to do this right away. We are so far from our friends and family back East and feel so helpless as we watch them valiantly respond. If only we could invite them in, give them shelter, warm food, loving support and quiet refuge. We can’t do that in person. We can’t serve up comfort food live. But we can do something more important…  we can support them with our donations to and let them know how much we care.

Basmati Rice

As I thought about it, I knew I wanted to create something that would be satisfyingly comforting. Not just comfort food that fills you up, making you feel full but also regretful, but comfort food that comforts and nourishes.

Cardamom

I also wanted it to be something that you could make with ingredients you’re likely to have at home, so that whatever storms you are facing in your life, you can stay in, get cozy and make up a warm bowl of nurturing comfort. After all, food is a love story, and comfort food should be like a mother’s loving embrace.

So in honor of all the heroes and survivors, I offer a warm bowl of Rice Pudding, and invite the rest of us to make whatever contributions possible to help our Eastern neighbors.

Click for Print Version

This Rice Pudding makes a delicious breakfast, snack or dessert. It is especially Vata-reducing – great for children, anyone recuperating, and anyone needing a pick-me-up. I hope you will try it and let me know what you think.

Riso Pudding Cropped

There is still time to post your own favorite comfort food to your blog and help with Support for Sandy. Go to Jenn Cuisine for details. And there is always time to make a donation to the Red Cross to support those in the path of Hurricane Sandy, many of whom remain without power, even now as another huge storm hits.

To all those who suffer anywhere, our hearts are with you!

Pumpkin Smoothie

Pumpkin Smoothie
Speckled with spices for warming, grounding delight

I declared one of the days earlier this week a Day of Bed Rest, and spent my waking hours working with my computer in the comfort of pj’s, pillows and privacy; no clocks, no appointments, no deadlines, no rush. It is Autumn, after all, the season of Vata, giving us permission to shut it all off, dial it all down, turn it all in, stay home, build a fire, and, once in a while even, pass the whole day in bed!

Luxuriating in the spaciousness of life without time, I surrendered ~ and found myself nourished by time off, time away, time to myself.

For lunch that day, I indulged in an Autumn-balancing, Vata-reducing, grounding, warming, deeply restorative and utterly gorgeous, golden Pumpkin Smoothie.

Image
Autumn’s Golden Color

It made me think that Autumn is gold for a reason: the bounty of this season is so rich!

It is a simplified and Ayurvedafied recipe inspired by Oh She Glows and suggested by a very wonderful and deep Yogi Pamela Hunt Cloyd. Try making this yourself and see if it doesn’t just make you feel golden.

Pumpkin Smoothie

2 T Chia Seeds
1 c Pumpkin Puree (easy to make or in a box from Pacific)
1 Banana
1 c Almond Milk (make your own or sugar free from your favorite food supplier)
1/2 c Almond Meal (you can also make your own by soaking, rinsing then grinding your almonds)
1/2 c Coconut Milk
1 coin Ginger, peeled (or 1/2 t Ginger Powder)
1 t Vanilla Extract
1 t Cinnamon
1/4 t Nutmeg
1 Pinch Clove, optional
2 Dates, optional
maple syrup to taste, optional

Soak the Chia Seeds in 1/4 cup water overnight, or at least for one hour. Put all your ingredients in your power blender and blend until very smooth and very creamy. Add chopped Dates for more sweet body, or maple syrup to flesh out and unite the flavors.

Then slip into your silky sumptuous self and sip slowly.

Image
Beauty and Nourishment for my Beloved

~

What a reminder that Food is Love!

Lisa’s adorable daughter enjoying her Pumpkin Smoothie!

Enjoy!

 Namaste ~

How to Make Coconut Yogurt

I made a 3 minute  video, which you will see below, to show you how I make Coconut Yogurt. It is very simple, and a lovely meditative process, but if you’ve never done it before, it really helps to have someone show you how.

Sugar free, dairy free, delicious, exquisite Coconut Yogurt

First, here is the recipe ~

COCONUT YOGURT

4 Young Coconuts
Probiotic tablet

In a blender, thoroughly mix the water of 1 coconut with the meat of 4 coconuts. Pour into a clean bowl and stir in the powder of 1 probiotic tablet. Cover and put in a dehydrator at 110F, or place in a warm, dark place like the top of your toaster set to warm, and leave for a couple of hours. Taste every now and then. Once it is sour, seal well and place in the refrigerator.

coconutyogurt

After 24 hours, it will be fabulous. Nothing compares.

With pistachio, cardamom and honey, it makes a great breakfast, or snack, in late Autumn/Winter, the Vata seasons.

#homemade coconut yogurt

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Please let us know if you try it, how you make it, and how you like it!

Photo: Jules Clancy of StoneSoup.com

If you do enjoy making your own Yogurt, check out StoneSoup.com for more Yogurt recipes. Author Jules Clancy shares beautiful photos, like the one above, and across her website a variety of sumptuous recipes for a beautiful, healthy life.

~

Namaste! 

Banana Coconut “Half Domes”

These are the dog days. Here in Yosemite it is 100 degrees: Hot, Dry, and Dusty.

Visiting Half Dome

Our rustic, little cabin provides shade but little relief beyond that. It is designed for winter: to keep the heat in. It is a star splashed midnight before it finally cools enough to sleep.

At dinner time we come home from our daily hikes, almost boiling over ourselves. We can’t cook. We can’t add heat to heat.

Even our bananas had heat exhaustion

Coconut water is our refuge. Banana Coconut Ice is our delight.

Coconut Banana Ice

Here’s how I make it:

Mash 3 bananas in a blender if you have it. We don’t, so I use a potato masher. The kids enjoy using their hands. Pour in one, to one and a half, cup/s coconut milk. Add a small pinch of pink salt and 1 teaspoon maple syrup. Stir well.

Pour the mixture into an ice cube tray, evenly distributing. You can put wooden stirrers, broken in half. or a toothpick, into the middle of each cube, standing straight up, to make them like popsicles. Put in the freezer for 2-3 hours, minimum.

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park

We didn’t have “popsicle sticks,” so we put them in a bowl and named them, after Yosemite’s famous monolith, “Little Half Domes.”

For refreshing elegance, you could serve them in a bowl with fresh berries, garnished with mint. For an elegant refreshment, add two to three cubes to soda water and garnish with mint.

Yosemite Falls

Despite the heat, it is all worthwhile as Yosemite is one of the greatest reminders that nature is majestic, eternal, infinite and insistent ~ and you are an integral part of this wonder. As the Yogis say, “Tat Tvam Asi,” meaning You Are That!

Wish You Were Here

Namaste !

Refreshing Red & Green Salad

Short, frequent travels have kept me on the road and on the go, but also deliciously on point, all the more present to life, nature, family, friends, love, beauty, creativity, art, and grateful for all those things that really, truly matter.

Big Luscious Union!

Just one of those many joys I am grateful for this season is Katariina, her husband Larry, their exuberant family, exotic life, inspiring friends and Big, Luscious Wedding in the Texas Hill Country over Memorial Day.

Exchanging Vows

Katariina is an inspiring artist with a winsome zest for color and a quirky take on life. Her aesthetic is celebratory, human, welcoming, almost chaotically full, yet balanced and heart-warming, above all. She helps you see the world in a way that makes you  love it all the more.

Beautiful Bridesmaids

Over the past year, I have enjoyed Katariina’s Gypsy Love Cafe, and felt like her Blog utterly leapt to life in her Big Texas Wedding with all its whimsy, eclectic beauty and bohemian joy.

Wild West Gentlemen Groomsmen

The Wedding was held at the Vista West Ranch in Dripping Springs, with the ceremony outdoors in a circle of Oaks. The reception was in the Barn, “rustic chic” and full of charm. Katariina spent the day decorating it with help from her friends, and a truckload of furniture, paintings, curtains, vases and knick-knacks brought from their home in Houston!

The Barn

In the photo above you can see the room on the top floor where they put me ~ a simple, delightful, little “room with a view” ~ a warm, safe, up near the night’s star-studded sky, isn’t it a wonderful world kind of view.

Reception

I fell in love with this Hill Country, where heat is thick, cicadas are loud, green valleys roll on and on, merging into blue hills, merging into purple sky, easing into sunset. It is a place of steady beauty, where stars quietly fill a night sky ~ quiet but throbbing with memory and light so strong, there is no need to shout.

Surrounded by Ancient Oaks

It is as if everything there has existed since before memory, ageless time carving each living thing into its truest potency, everything more fully defined, knowing itself and its purpose, even in silence undeniable presence. If it is color, it is vibrant. If it is a bug, it’s big. If it is an Oak, it is more elegant, deep, dappled than any. If it is night, stars are everywhere glowing like street-lamps, dripping honey and gold.

Katariina & Dianne

But Texas is Texas where meat and potatoes are the fare, and even with the enchantment of Hill Country, this body doesn’t run on red meat, and potatoes aren’t enough vegetable to keep the channels running free and clear.

Spring Salad with Fennel Frond

So, after three days of potato salad, I came home and fixed me up a salad. A “Refreshing Salad” that has enough of the sweet taste to be grounding and restoring after travel and flights, and enough bitter, astringent tastes to clean out a weekend of very off-routine fun.

Home-grown Red Lettuce and Oregano

This was late May, so it was an ideal late Spring Salad with its fiery radishes, strong bitters like radicchio and arugula, the cleansing lift of grapefruit, and light, digestible protein from the beans and peas. Even though it is now summer, it remains a great meal for the season, as raw foods are always cooling, and greens are like air-conditioning to an over-heated system.

Snap Peas, Fava Beans, Red Lettuce and Beets

It was designed to counter and balance all that Texas culture. Yet it has a beefy beauty all its own, packed with juicy life potency, every color and shape unique, each living thing intelligent and purposeful. What joy to return home to a meal of such living vibrancy ~ edible intelligence that, in the way that Texas Hill Country feels, has existed since time immemorial.

With Arugula & Sprouted Sunflower Seeds

Don’t let its complexity fool you. It is a delightful and easy salad to make! I buy the fava beans and beets from Melissa’s, so that is already prepared. It is wonderfully delicious with a simple lemon juice and EVOO dressing, or with an Avocado Dressing which I’ll be posting next.

The Avocado Dressing adds a creamy, sweet finish

I used red lettuce from our garden, but when collecting items from the market, I choose baby greens, which is what I wrote in the recipe below. I also prefer Sprouted Sunflower Seeds, not the whole green sprout but the seeds, soaked and just barely shooting a sprout. Please let me know what you think of it, and what you like to add to fit your tastes and needs.

Click for Print Version

Memories of East Texas are sweet. Thank you, Katariina and Larry. Wishing you a Big, Beefy, Luscious, Loving, Ageless, Infinite, Vibrant, Joyful, Bodacious Adventure together!

Setting Up
Decorating the Barn
Decorating the Altar
Awaiting the Circle of Friends
Finn

Hope you all enjoy the salad and have an awesome Summer!

Namaste ~ 

I invite you to celebrate Urban Food & Gourmet’s Grand Opening with Ayurvedic Herbal Treats and Freedom Pies

Amanda DeWitt @ the newly opened Urban Food & Gourmet

Have you heard of Urban Food & Gourmet?

It is a new South Park Shop & Deli for California Creatives, Modern Peace Warriors, Radiant Lighthouses like you. Dedicated to tickling your palate, feeding your fires, sweetly singing your body electric and levitating your heart, it is run by the amazingly talented Amanda DeWitt who has poured her heart into this sumptuous place.

Offering unique, healthy, often artisanal and organic, delightful food, Amanda is devoted to Gluten-free “Grab and Go” items to keep life effortless for Urban Angels with appetites.

Last May Amanda invited me to contribute to this creative venture, so I’ve spent the summer concocting nourishing delights from my own kitchen. We call the collection Dancing Plums, because, yes, sugar plum fairies come to life and dance their dreams into being in the form of sweet, herbal, I-Love-You edibles.

Maha Shakti Detox Protein Shake Powder is a whole meal in a glass

Expanding on Amanda’s Circle of foodly Compassion, Dancing Plums’ creations are, or offer alternatives that are, gluten, dairy and sugar free, but which are mostly devoted to the Ayurvedic traditions.

There is the Maha Shakti Detox Protein Powder in Chocolate or Vanilla, with Grass-fed, Organic Whey or Organic Vegan Protein and loads of good-for-you herbs, Omega’s, greens, vitamins and minerals; my Rejuve Jam, based on recipes for the All-Star Ayurvedic Health Tonic Chyavanprash and inspired by my 97 year old grandmother who taught me to make jam from the berries we’d pick in the morning; the maha-comforting, mega-healing Kichari in an easy-to-make, take-home “Kit” of Organic Split Mung Beans and Organic Brown Basmati Rice; Seasonal Masalas to give you the essential spices medical authorities now list as Super Foods; and Brahmi Bark, a chocolate “Smart Bar” for mind-enhancing restoration in one sweet bite.

Rejuve Jam trips the inner light fantastic

Tomorrow is the Grand Opening of Urban Food & Gourmet and these are the details ~

Noon to 8pm, Saturday, September 10th, Urban Food & Gourmet at 1947 Fern St, 92102. I will be there from about 1 to 3 pm, but there will be great people and extraordinary food all afternoon and evening.

When I get there I’ll have samples of my various “Dancing Plums Ayurvedic Specialties,”  including a couple of Moksha Pies (Moksha, you will remember, means Freedom and these are gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, bake-free and mind-liberatingly extraordinary pies). So it would be utterly delicious to see you there.

To give folks a taste of the Maha Shakti Detox Protein formula, I’ll be mixing it into a Date Shake, which tastes like Heaven. Or Love. Or Heaven in Love with You.

Here is the recipe ~

Date Shake
2 Servings

4 Dates
1 Banana
1 tablespoon Maha Shakti Powder
1 cup Coconut Milk (Apple Cider is also good)

Blend all the ingredients until smooth. Add more Coconut Milk or dilute with Coconut Water if you like a thinner blend. Drink slowly and savor.

It makes a great breakfast, dessert or after-school snack. Thankfully it has a huge nutritional impact because some days it’s the only thing I fancy.

With Amanda in front of the Dancing Plums shelves at Urban Food & Gourmet ~

I like this article on Amanda and her motivation for opening this store. It really is a gift to our community ~ as are you! Let us know if there are other ways we can help nourish that shiny light of yours. 

Namaste! 

Summer Beans & Greens

Mint

I find it peaceful to write and so was relieved to finally have the time to write on Ayurveda & the Summer Season and get it published to my Blog. It is full of tips for maintaining balance in what is turning it out to be an especially hot season. You can find it here on the Seasons page.

Meanwhile, I had a great lunch yesterday that I also want to share, by way of a little explanation:

In both Spring and Summer I focus on beans and greens. The difference is that in the Spring meals are hot and spicy, whereas in Summer we enjoy cooling vegetables and fresh seasonings that aid digestion without heating the body ~ things like mint, cilantro, dill and fennel.

Cilantro

So, with a few tweaks, this recipe for Tofu with Snap Peas from Whole Living magazine (more and more a great resource for vegetarian meals) is ideal for summer. I simply replaced the red pepper with fresh, chopped mint from the garden, sprinkled the whole dish with the juice of one lime and garnished with a copious dose of chopped cilantro. I also replaced the sugar with maple syrup.

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Cilantro is so incredibly cleansing, balancing and cooling that we add it to almost everything in our home. We are fortunate because we were just given a generous handful of cilantro seeds, aka Coriander, for our garden. We use a lot of coriander in our cooking, grinding the seeds from whole, so we are familiar with these beautiful balloon-shaped gems. Still, holding this gift in my hands, I couldn’t help but marvel at the intelligence, the deliciousness, the potency and the medicine within.

Coriander Seeds

We have a perfect spot for them – a place where we were growing sunflowers, until someone thought they were weeds and yanked the newborns right out. It was the next day before I noticed they were gone. I cried on the spot. It was as if something had been ripped out of me and tossed away. Considered useless, ugly, a waste.

Preparing to Plant

Silly, I know, but I had nurtured the sunflower plants from seeds, soaking them first, transferring them to the ground, watching over and cultivating them carefully, protecting them from our neighborhood’s stalking ravens, researching their power to purify soil, and then writing a whole blog about it…

The Sunflower Seeds, before their demise

But Coriander seeds blossoming into Cilantro will fill the gaping emptiness and restore our garden to whole. And then one day, before summer is over, we’ll be able to make Tofu and Snap Peas with our own home-grown Cilantro.

Our Food Garden

Nature’s exquisite cycle of renewal is the reminder I need today, that we, too, are nature and our powers of regeneration are every bit as great.

Hope you are enjoying your summer.

Namaste ~ 

Buche de Noel

Our Christmas Dessert

Morgan and I love to bake, so yesterday he invited friends over and we had a holiday-treats-baking-party.

Morgan is creative, adventurous and very clever. Ask him what he wants to be when he grows up and he will tell you, as he has been telling people most of his 13 years, “An Inventor!” If you show interest, he will tell you, too, of the details, features and purpose of the numerous, extraordinary designs he is already imagineering.

This year he led his Robotics team to the Regional Championships where they demonstrated a “Nanobot” designed to eliminate cancer. With organizations like Dean Kamen’s First our children have terrific opportunities to imagine and engineer solutions that will make us all  safer, happier, and healthier. We are dedicated to that, so we do what we can to keep his curiosity and creativity engaged.

Yesterday, that meant setting an Invention Challenge in the kitchen. The mission was to create  a new recipe, without looking anything up, for a divine Chocolate Peppermint Brownie that would make the boys say, “We HAVE to make this again!” But it had to be made without flour, milk, eggs, sugar, or anything we couldn’t pronounce, or anything that comes in a can, box or freezer ~ and it had to be so good we could devour it in one sitting, but so healthy that we would still feel great after we did.

Demonstrating their great technical prowess, the boys created a success, although what we made didn’t exactly come out like a brownie. It had more of a pudding consistency, but it wasn’t that, either. Morgan’s friend suggested we call it a “Prownie” as a merging of the two, which led to a whole chorus of linguistic possibilities, but ultimately we decided to call it a Buche de Noel.

We had two reasons. First, once it is served on the plate, it does look like a Yule log. Second, while it accidentally tastes much like the traditional French Christmas dessert it is named for, we think that most people won’t know what a Buche de Noel is supposed to taste like, so they won’t arrive at ours with preconceived expectations that might otherwise divert them from enjoying ours as much as it deserves.

There may be a third reason:  is it possible that it tastes even more divinely delicious with a name, itself, so divine? The beat of the “B,” the bass of the “Ooo,” the soothing “Shhh” that sounds like a sled whirring through snow.  Sleigh bells ring, Are you listening?

We called it a “Buche de Noel”

AN AYURVEDIC CHRISTMAS: BUCHE DE NOEL

This recipe makes a tremendously satisfying treat. Read on for the health benefits of its two main ingredients, almonds and peppermint.

2 cups Almonds, blanched and skinned
8 Dates
1/2 cup Almond Milk
2 tbsp. Maple Syrup
2 tsp. Peppermint Oil or Extract
3 shakes Cinnamon
1 shake Nutmeg
Pinch of Sea Salt
1/4 cup Coconut Flakes
1/4 cup dried cherries
Ghirardelli Unsweetened Cacao Baking Bar, broken into small pieces
1 tsp. Earth Balance Buttery Spread (or Ghee, if you are not Vegan)

Begin by soaking the cherries in fresh water. Place the coconut flakes on a toaster tray and toast for one minute. Watch carefully, as coconut can burn easily. Put the remaining ingredients except chocolate and “butter” in a juicer or food processor and blend, blend, blend. You may have to stop and start a few times, scraping the sides often, until you get a smoth consistency.

Melt the “butter” in a medium size pot over a very low heat. Pour in the almond mixture, add the chocolate pieces and stir. Keep stirring until the chocolate is melted and  thoroughly integrated into the mixture.

Transfer to a serving pan and spread the mixture evenly across the dish. Dry the cherries and sprinkle them with the toasted coconut over the top.  You can also add a crushed candy cane to decorate the “buche,” if you are not too strict about the no sugar rule. Allow it sit for one hour before serving.

“Buche”

Health Benefits

If you are planning on making treats this holiday season but don’t want the sugar blues, consider a little deconstruction, and focus on the basics. Many of the traditional Christmas aromas and flavors, like clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, nuts and peppermint are also considered medicine in Ayurveda.

Almonds, for instance, are highly regarded in Ayurveda for their nutritional value and their Vata pacifying benefits. They are demulcent, expectorant, and a great tonic. Almonds are good for coughs, wasting diseases of the  lungs and kidneys, muscle tension and pain. They lubricate the skin and the microcirculatory channels, supporting all the tissues of the body, and strengthening the immune system. Almonds provide several essential nutrients and are 20% protein. From an ounce of almonds (about 24 nuts) you get about 5.6 grams of protein. They are also rich in Vitamin E and magnesium and contain calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.

Peppermint

Peppermint has anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. It is an excellent stomach digestive, soothing for colds, flu and fevers, relieving for sinus allergies. Stimulating to the mind, it enhances concentration, calms the nerves, develops emotional endurance and is extremely effective for taking the edge off tension headaches. No wonder it is so omnipresent this time of year!

Mother Nature wants to nourish you. Her food is medicine to help you to be your best. Allow her to support you this season, so you can feel the love that is the essence of all life, and the true reason to celebrate these holidays.

The The Yoga Journal Online has a tidy overview of Ayurvedic Healing Foods, including the almonds, dates and ghee we used in this recipe.

Happy Holidays!


Vegetarian Gravy

Vegetarian Gravy

Yesterday we made Brioche Stuffing with Chestnuts and Figs for a holiday gathering with friends. It was delicious with steamed carrots, celery, fennel and a hot gravy.

Vegetarian gravy is fun to make, but yesterday we also had five boys over for a birthday celebration, so it was fabulous to be able to just add hot water to Macayama’s Savory Herb Mix, give it a whisk and pour it into the gravy bowl.

Here’s what we do most of the time ~

VEGETARIAN GRAVY

1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup chopped onion or shallots
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (or gf)
4 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour and soy sauce to form a smooth paste. Gradually whisk in the broth.

Season with sage, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring constantly, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until thickened.