For Fathers I Am Grateful

I am Grateful Live Coconut Cream Pie

In our household, the World’s Best Dad Award goes to my husband whose devotion to his son proves that dads can do just about anything. He loves coconut, so we are making him this Live Coconut Cream Pie for tonight’s Father’s Day Dinner. It is heavenly and raw with a pure, healthy goodness to show Dad just how much we love him.

As a Summer Opener, Father’s Day comes just as the weather is heating up. At this time, Mother Nature lovingly, knowingly, provides the refreshment we need. Her seasonal harvest, including cucumbers, summer squash, melons, berries and herbs like dill, mint and cilantro, is balancing and cooling.

For its chill factor and numerous other benefits, Coconut, grown in the hot tropics where it is practically always summer, is that perfect hot season food. Offering sweet, healthy hydration to restore moisture, minerals and electrolytes, coconut is so delicious and so perfect for humans it has even been used in I.V. drips.

Coconut Meat and Water make this Pie Perfect

This recipe comes from Cafe Gratitude’s I Am Grateful Recipe book by Terces Engelhart, which I so gratefully received from a friend. If there is one raw food recipe book to have, for me it is this one. Along with great recipes it is filled with techniques, inspiration, and a fabulous Resource list at the back.

With only a few dates to sweeten and a bit of spice, this Live Coconut Cream Pie is almost all coconut, making it a great reason to eat dessert and celebrate Dad all summer long!

LIVE COCONUT CREAM PIE

For The Crust

2 1/2 cups coconut flakes
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
Heaping 1/4 cup well packed, finely chopped dates

For The Filling

1 1/4 cups coconut milk
3/4 cup coconut meat
Heaping 3/4 cup well-packed, finely chopped dates
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 pinches of salt
3 tablespoons lecithin
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons raw coconut butter (I used a mix of coconut oil and coconut manna)

I added a dash of Cardamom too, to aid digestion deliciously.  

Garnish

3/4 cup dry coconut flakes

I toasted half the flakes and once cool, mixed in with the raw flakes so it created a lovely dapple of gold, caramel and snow white sprinkle over the pie. It is not technically raw, unless you toast at a very low heat, very slowly, but worth it to me for the color and crunch. 

To Make the Crust

Put coconut flakes, salt, and vanilla in your food processor and process, adding small amounts of dates until it gets sticky. Press crust into a greed (with coconut butter/oil) 9-inch pie pan.

To Make the Filling

Blend coconut milk, meat, date, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Add lecithin and coconut butter and blend until well incorporated. Pour into prepared crust. Set in fridge/freezer until set (about an hour). Top with thin layer of coconut flakes.

I Am Grateful’s Live Coconut Cream Pie

We made this pie yesterday for the South Park Old House Street Fair, where it was gobbled up before you could say, “Look at the detail on that charming Craftsman Bungalow!”

The Coconut Cream Pie was hosted by the Urban Gourmet folks who were there to let locals know about their imminent opening at 30th and Fern. I’ll have some of my “Dancing Plums” specialty foods there ~ things like Organic Split Mung Beans, Ayurvedic Herbal Jam, Detox Protein Shake Mix and weekly Raw Pies. I’ll let you know when it opens as I am sure we will celebrate with more Live Coconut Cream Pie.

Dancing Plums is named in memory of my father George L. Plumb

Once Dancing Plums is launched, I look forward to posting with many more simple ideas for keeping cool, strong, and elegantly at ease all summer long. I am also looking forward to my next Ayurvedic Nutrition and Cooking Class for August 7th. Lots of bubbly ideas and new inventions for that! Details are on our website.

Meanwhile, I wish you a bountiful summer of nourishing food, love and lazy days.

Namaste! 

In Praise of MA

Lemon Polenta Cake, photo: nigellalawson.com

I am dreaming of being with my mother today. We would sit amongst the “darling buds of May” in her garden, the one designed and created by my sister Julia, who would be there, too, with her children. My extraordinary 96-year-old grandmother, the matriarch of our large, vibrant family, “Nana the Great” to all our children, would also sit with us, commenting on the vibrant color of a prairie cone flower perhaps, or the unique blossom of a native species that is my sister’s specialty and my mother’s pride.

With my cousin Marc, “Nana the Great” and my mother

We would tell my mother what a great mother, friend, example, inspiration she has been and continues to be. How soothing her comforting wisdom is even now. She’d say “No, no, it is you children who have given me so much…” because that is the way she is. But we’d keep trying to let her know with our words, our hand-holding, our little gifts, our kitchen labor, our watchful presence, that she has meant everything to us. If we tried to enumerate the details of that everything, we’d get teary, so we stick to the generals and deeply breathe in the joy of being together after too long apart.

Expecting her fifth child

Since my mother, and my Aunt, were artists and great cooks, I consider at length just what I’d prepare for Mother’s Day. I’d want it to delight her as well as express the depth of gratitude I feel, but it needs to be simple so that we are free to enjoy our time together, unconstrained by cooking complexities.

Millet Muffins, photo by vsimon

Britta from Suzie’s Farm gave me a great idea this week: dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free Millet Muffins for Mother’s Day Breakfast. I’d add a dash of cardamom to the batter, and serve them hot from the oven with a warm blackberry preserve.

Nikki’s Healthy Cookies, photo: 101cookbooks.com

For a healthy and heavenly snack, “Nikki’s butter-less, flour-less, egg-less, and potentially sugar-less Cookies” at Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks.com look scrumptious. No doubt the children would love them, and they would be great in the afternoon with a cup of Earl Grey.

My mother visited me when I lived in Florence, Italy and numerous times while I was in London, so I like the idea of the Lemon Polenta Cake, pictured up top. Coming from Nigella Lawson, it is a twist on British and Italian standards, so would elicit many sweet memories. It, too, is gluten-free and with Earth Balance instead of butter, could also be dairy-free.

David Lebovitz’ French Jam Tart

Or, since my mother is so healthy, we could go all out. Of course, she is absolutely worth it, so maybe I’d splurge and make a French Jam Tart, remembering the days we walked all over Paris trying to find one Museum that was open and finally surrendered for warm pastry and tea. We found then that the treasure of Paris is really there: in the cafes and patisseries, on the streets, and in the parks. “In the everyday; just like life,” we might have said.

~

Every day is Mother’s Day on this Blog, since it is a site entirely devoted to celebrating the wise and loving gifts of Mother Earth. But on this one day of the year, our official Mother’s Day, I celebrate my own mother whose mothering simply astounds me.

Mom

Thank you, Mom, for your endless and selfless gifts! I am so blessed to have your love, devotion, wisdom, forgiveness and support. You, and the brother and sisters you gave me, sustain and encourage my life in countless ways. I send you waves and waves of love today and every day.

Happy Mother’s Day!

~

Amy & Kathy Eldon

On this important day, I would like to invite you to watch a short video on Extraordinary Moms, hosted by Julia Roberts and created by my extraordinary friends Amy & Kathy Eldon, who, like my mother and your mother, are themselves extraordinary mothers. For every 20 times this XO MOMS Video is viewed, Humanity International will provide a mosquito net to a mother, and family in need, in Ghana to prevent Malaria.

~

Tapioca Tribute

 Apricots add a Springtime flavor to our Tapioca Treat

Yesterday I made a Tapioca Treat for my Father’s birthday, which I have to share with you because it is one of those “too good to be true” desserts.

I can’t say my father loved it. It has been a long time since we’ve celebrated with him in person. He would have been 75 this year. But he has been gone almost 20, so now it is a celebration of the heart, an internal tribute to a life that gave life, a personal thanksgiving for his everyday example of nobility in action.

In addition to the endless love, encouragement and opportunities my father showered on us, his five children, he was, for me, a great “spiritual” teacher. He didn’t love the formalities of religion: he was young when his mother died and the Priest who said the Funeral Mass read from the script of another bereaved family, using all the wrong names and describing a very different mother.

That early loss and betrayal preceded the break-up of his family and long, lonely, later-forgotten teen years. Yet, my father was Sattvic ~ wise, clear-minded, generous, curious, fair, smart, philosophical, broad-minded, brave, kind, a safe refuge, and a lot of fun. I often say to myself, not harshly but compassionately, that I haven’t, and may never, live up to the promise of being George L. Plumb’s eldest. But I do my best to pass on the best he gave to us.

Dad

When we were little, he loved gathering us all into the kitchen on a Saturday afternoon 
to make Tapioca and I wanted to remember that with my stepson. So in his honor, I made a special dessert and shared it with my own family, as a flavor of a man they will never meet.

This is a perfect treat for my father’s April birthday not only for its tastes of love reviving connections long lost,  but also because Tapioca is “Kapha-reducing” ~ exactly the action we want from our meals in Springtime. In the Spring, we look to significantly reduce dairy, sugar and heavy grains, while increasing the fibrous foods that make us lighter and warming spices that boost metabolic fires. This Tapioca Recipe is just that. It combines all the digestive benefits of Lassi, with fiber and heart-loving betacarotene from Apricots, and the low-calorie, high-energy boost of Tapioca ~ without any sugar added. I hope you enjoy it!

Tapioca Pearls

Apricot Tapioca Pudding

Tapioca Pearls, 1/3 cup
Water, 2 cups
Dried Apricots, 10-12
Ghee, 1 Teaspoon (Coconut Oil for Vegan)
Cinnamon, 1/2 Teaspoon
Ginger, 1/8 teaspoon
Clove, 2 Shakes
Cardamom, 2 Shakes
Nutmeg, Dash
Asafoetida, Dash
Rock Salt, Pinch
Honey, 2 Tablespoons
Plain Yogurt, 1 cup

Boil 1 and 1/3 cups of water and add the tapioca pearls. Stir, reduce heat, cover. After ten minutes, check. It is done when the pearls have dissolved and it looks like melted glue.

Meanwhile, melt the ghee in a saucepan on medium low heat. Add the spices and saute one minute. Toss in the apricots and stir to coat throughly. Turn up the heat and add the remaining water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and allow to simmer about ten minutes, until the tapioca is done.

Put the apricots with the water, now more of a juice, into a blender. Mix until the apricots are minced. Add the yogurt and the tapioca and blend lightly. If the mixture is cooled to a temperature that does not burn to the touch, add the honey and blend one final time. Otherwise, you can drizzle the honey over it once served. It should be the consistency of pudding with a light peach color.

You can also just stir it all together if you don’t have a blender. That is how I made it for my Ayurveda Spring Detox Cooking Class. Just be sure, if you do it that way, that you give the apricots a good fine chop before you stew them.

Garnish with a dusting of freshly grated nutmeg, a mint or basil leaf, chopped glazed pecans or pine nuts, a touch of orange zest for color and zing. Or, just grab a spoon and dig in. Yum!

Apricot Tapioca Pudding

Not too long ago, referring to my father, my college roommate said, “We all want our own George.”  He knew how to lift you up, make you laugh, nourish your mind, feed your soul. He would impart wisdom in easy gestures, subtle ways.

Even in making a straightforward dish like Apricot Tapioca Pudding, for example, I wonder at the world: its diversity, flavors, inventiveness, and above all, the potency of Mother Nature to create such delicious, substantial, cleansing foods. For the thought spirals that go from tapioca pearls to cosmic chemistry, while vividly appreciating the simple sensuous tastes of Spring’s profusion, I have my Dad to thank.

I just wish I did more of that while he was here. Thanking, that is. He knew all along what it has taken me decades to painstakingly learn; that is, how to live a Sattvic life, and feed the body according to the seasons.  For that example, and so much more, I am deeply grateful.

My first Yoga Teacher

Thank you, Dad!

Eggless “Egg Nog” Lassi

Your belly will say, “Thank you,” when you complete your meal with Lassi, a yogurt-based drink that keeps your digestive fires blazing and your immune system strong.

Seeking a Vegetarian response to Egg Nog, I stirred 1 cup of fresh Yogurt, made from raw milk given by grass fed cows (I like St. Benoit), together with 1 cup Water, 6 pitted Medjool Dates, 1 tablespoon Maple Syrup, 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract, three good shakes each of Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Clove powder, and a tiny dash of Sea Salt and fresh ground Black Pepper.

Less water and more dates would make it a thicker blend. You could also add a few raw skinned almonds or cashews for a thicker consistency.

Put all this in the blender and mix it on High Speed until it is good and frothy, then serve it as an after dinner “digestif.”

It is so delicious I think I’ll call it New Year’s Lassi next week, and keep on drinking it right into the new year!

Let me know what you think.

I wish you many blessings of Joy and Peace  ~

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!