Category Archives: Recipes

Creating New Karmic Patterns, & Some Crazy Good Ginger Chocolate Chip Cookies

In last week’s post, I talked about the self-sustaining karmic energy of recurring habitual patterns. I mentioned that meditation has been helpful in creating the space to identify the pattern and then to create a new pattern.

How exactly, though, does the new pattern get created? In the past year, I was lucky* enough to find myself facing similar situations again and again. In fact, sometimes it was really almost the identically same situation, with the identically same person. Thanks to my meditation practice, I was able to see this happening (okay, after a while. Not so much right away) and I gained some time between stimulus and response.

Then I’d ask myself: 1) How did I handle this last time? 2) Was I happy with that outcome? and 3) If not, what had I not yet tried that might have a different, better outcome?

This was a pretty painful process at times. It caused me to look back at the many previous times I’d been in the same situation, and how my actions had caused suffering to others, as well as to myself. There were days where I felt like a total scumbag and thought it might be best to stop interacting with other people. But seeing how I’d hurt others was powerful enough to enact change where the fear of simply hurting myself wasn’t enough. As I mentioned in last week’s post- I just had to try something different.

No doubt I’m still wreaking havoc with my life, but I’m certainly trying to do better. Being able to ask myself those three questions feels a bit like standing at the entrance to a labyrinth- which way to go?- knowing that even if I screw up, I’m still moving forward. In Richard Buckminster’s words, after all, “there is no such thing as a failed experiment, only experiments with unexpected outcomes.”

In the spirit of trying something totally different, I offer you this delicious recipe for vegan ginger chocolate chip cookies. If you’re a fan of soft molasses ginger cookies, and love a dark chocolate fix, I think you’ll enjoy this mash-up. This recipe started with this delicious recipe from Oh She Glows. Thanks, Angela!

(Oh, and to illustrate my point? The next time I think, “I’d like a cookie, why don’t I bake two dozen,” I’ll stop and ask myself those three questions. Because really, I don’t need to be unsupervised with two dozen cookies. 🙂 )

Try Something Different: Vegan Ginger Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses (I like sorghum)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp ground chia seeds (I ground them in my coffee grinder, but you could leave them whole if you had to. They add crunch that way)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • a sprinkle of cardamom, or get creative with any spices you like!
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dark (vegan) chocolate chips (if you leave these out, it’s still a fantastic recipe)

Making It Happen: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine coconut oil, sugar, molasses, vanilla, and chia seeds until well-mixed (I throw it in my Kitchen-Aid and let it run while I mix the dry stuff). Separately, mix the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet until combined, but don’t over-mix. Add chocolate chips. Wet hands lightly, and roll into small balls. Flatten lightly with your hand and bake 10-12 minutes or until done. Rest on baking sheet for a few minutes before moving to cooling rack. Enjoy! photo

 

*Not being facetious. Until I was challenged in this way, I was likely to keep creating the same karma again and again. I was forced into growth!  

A Favorite Dal Recipe

I could eat Indian food every day of the week.

In fact, many weeks I do eat Indian food every day of the week (they know me quite well at the local India Palace). Restaurant Indian food tends to be heavy- and not vegan- with the addition of butter and cream. Oh, it’s delicious, but really pretty decadent for a daily thing. And while I know that I really only need a bowl of soup and an aloo paratha, I often find it hard not to order more… and more… and more… just because I’m there!

Luckily, I am in possession of the Very Best Indian Cookbook Ever Written, also known as Lord Krishna’s Cuisine. This was a gift from my brother, who’s been cooking from it for over 20 years.  It’s 800 pages long and full of so many different ways to eat vegetarian. Some of the recipes are crazy complicated, but every one has been worth it. And I’ve found it pretty easy to make most recipes vegan; cashew cream stands in nicely for yogurt, coconut oil works for butter, etc.

As much as I love cooking, my life doesn’t allow much time for it on a daily basis, so I really cherish the rainy Sundays when I can do a little cooking and stock my freezer. I love to keep several different kinds of prepared dals in the freezer. If you’re not familiar with the cuisine, “dal” is both the word for “bean” as well as the name of a bean dish- generally, soup-consistency. They defrost quickly after a night of teaching for a light dinner, and are so nourishing. If you’re a protein freak, rejoice: dals are naturally quite
high in protein. This recipe I’m about to lay on you boasts 8 grams per 200 calorie serving.

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Today I made one of my favorites- Urad Dal with Tomatoes (Urad Tamatar Dal).  Below is my slightly-tweaked version, but honestly, it’s hard to improve on the original. It’s just simple comfort food.

Urad Dal with Tomatoes – adapted from Lord Krishna’s Cuisine

Serves four-ish.

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Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup split urad dal (they are pale yellow, almost white. May be called udad dal. You can find these at an Indian grocer; locally, at India Spice in PSL or Planet Ozone in Stuart)
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 3 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • one box of grape tomatoes
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger, shredded or minced (I like a Microplane for this)
  • 1 1/2-2 teaspoons cumin seeds 
  • 1-2 whole dried red chillies broken into bits (sub hot pepper flakes if not available)
  • 1/4 teaspoons asafetida powder- called hing (see note below)
  • Chopped cilantro, to taste
  1. Sort the dry dal, discarding anything that’s not looking like a dal (rocks, etc). Wash thoroughly and rinse.
  2. Bring water, turmeric, and 1 T the oil to a boil over high heat. Add dal, boil again.
  3. Reduce heat to moderately low. Cover and boil gently for 30 minutes. Add tomatoes. Cover and continue cooking for 1 hour or until dal is soft and fully cooked. It should melt in your mouth- no texture- and it may even be falling apart. Remove from the heat, add salt and stir.
  4. In a separate pan- preferably cast-iron- heat oil until hot but not smoking. Quickly add ginger, cumin, and chili in “rapid succession” (author’s phrase, makes me smile). Don’t even think about walking away from this pan. Fry until the cumin seeds and chili turn brown- it won’t take long- and then add the asafetida powder (hing). Count to two, and then pour the fried seasoning into the dal. Cover and allow the seasonings to soak in. Add cilantro and serve.

NotesHing is a stinky delicious substitute for onions or garlic. You can buy it at Indian grocery stores or online. It will stink up your cupboard, but I kind of like the smell now. If you prefer not to bother, I would add some small diced onion- maybe 1/4 cup? or a clove or two of garlic to the spice mixture at the end (careful not to burn). Also- I like to be generous with the cumin- the original recipe calls for 1 1/4 teaspoon. 

 

 

Dear Local Restaurant: It’s Just Not That Hard to Make A Vegetarian or Vegan Meal

Do you have a pet peeve?

Something that irritates you, gets under your skin, makes you complain, or rant (or, in my case, sigh heavily) in a way that surprises even yourself?

One thing that really drives me crazy is going out to eat with friends and finding that the menu includes virtually no vegetarian options. “Oh look, a salad!” A friend will say hopefully. “You can have them leave off the bacon-wrapped chicken bits…”

I grew up in Central Pennsylvania, and first was a vegetarian there in the 90’s. It wasn’t easy, but one manages. Any vegetarian knows how to cobble together a meal out of side dishes. Who doesn’t love a meal of French fries, green beans, and mashed potatoes? Perhaps alongside the salad, which still costs $14.99, minus the bacon-wrapped chicken… * Man, if a place has a veggie burger, I am pathetically grateful. You just wouldn’t believe.

Still, as a culture, we’ve come a long way, and it just doesn’t make sense to me when I go out to eat and the chef (or owner?) hasn’t even bothered to try to put together a meal that omits animal products. I just don’t get it. Even if they’re card-carrying members of the US Beef Council** who are going out of their way to annoy tree-hugging vegetarians, or something, they will still find a willing audience of people who want to eat lighter, or who have sensitivities to animal products, or choose not to eat meat for any reason at all.

Not to mention that a lot of plant-based food is SUPER CHEAP.

Maybe you know that prior to my career as a yoga teacher, I thought I wanted to be a personal chef, and went to cooking school. Although I will be paying that debt until the day I die, it was absolutely worth it. I learned the following secrets, which I will now share with you, thereby saving you $40,000 (you’re welcome):

  1. Use a bigger pan than you think you need.
  2. Clean up as you go.
  3. Learn a few basic flavor combinations and you can make dinner out of almost anything. Okay, sorry, I guess that one requires some practical experience.

Tonight for dinner I made myself a variation on beans and rice and some vegetables. It tastes amazing, cost me probably about $10 total, despite the fact the most of the ingredients were organic, and I will get SEVEN meals out of it (bigger guys might get less). The photo is kind of lame, and the recipe isn’t anything super fancy, but really, I’m just making a point: It’s not that hard.

A restaurant owner or chef could easily have a “Beans and Rice” of the week dish on his menu and use up leftovers creatively. Thin it out and it’s a soup. Wrap it up and it’s a taco, a burrito, an enchilada, a lettuce wrap. Cook some of the ingredients separately and call it a Buddha Bowl. It could  be Gallo pinto. Vegetarian dirty rice. Slap it on a flatbread and it’s a pizza. Nachos. Dude, the sky’s the limit. You’re going to make money, I swear. We will buy it if you make an effort. 

Anyway, here’s sort-of-recipe.

A Minimal Amount of Effort Beans and Rice Dish

Heat up three tablespoons-ish of oil in a big pan (I use peanut oil). Slice up two organic leeks that you bought weeks ago at Fresh Market, though you can’t remember why, discarding anything that you don’t want to eat. Once your oil is hot but not smoking, brown the leeks over pretty high heat until they caramelize and smell amazing, stirring often enough that nothing sticks and burns. Meanwhile, you can be slicing up that celery that’s about to go badthe last three mini bell peppers in the fridge, along with any leftover onion you have (I had 1/4 onion, so threw it in). I also sliced in two cloves of garlic. I like to slice them very thin- when they brown slightly they taste nuttily amazing. Once your leeks are almost totally caramelized, throw in about two teaspoons of whole cumin- you will smell it cooking, a smell that I like, but is also vaguely reminiscent of body odor.

At this point you might go, “Sh*t, kale!” and run outside to trim about 3 cups worth of kale off of your kale plants. Collect the dogs and run back inside to ascertain that the leeks have not completely burnt, and then throw all the celery, bell pepper, onion, and garlic in there to cook down a bit. If you have other vegetables, you could certainly use them. If you want to add jalapeño or some hot pepper flakes, add them here. 

Now your time will be limited, because although they taught me in cooking school to time things, I never quite remember to think of everything I’m adding until the last minute, so you had better chiffonade your kale SUPER FAST and throw it in the pan. You want it super thin so it doesn’t take all year to cook.

Meanwhile, start cooking your rice. No, I’m not going to give you instructions, read the bag.

Now, your vegetables will be getting nice and cooked, and they’ll be starting to think about burning, so it’s time to add some more moisture. Zip open a can of organic fire-roasted diced tomatoes and dump it in. Note that if you don’t want huge tomato chunks in your finished product, you could blend them up first. The last thing to do is open a can of organic black beans and add it to your mixture. Let it cook for a few minutes, giving it a chance to “marry” a bit, and then test for seasoning.  Add salt and pepper, maybe some oregano. Still bland? I always have (in this case, like 1.5 tablespoons) homemade taco seasoning ready- you’ll want to check out this recipe for it.

When your rice is done, you can eat. If you have cilantro or a lime, or oooh, an avocado!! garnish away, but it’s pretty much amazing without it. Reheats beautifully or freeze for future taco-type events.

One (small) serving of rice and beans has approximately 270 calories and 5 grams of protein.

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*To be fair: a friend of mine taught me to ask for a discount when I do this now, and most managers are pretty accommodating.

**Also in the 90’s, I took part in a sort of random “protest” against the US Beef Council. I had no idea what we were trying to achieve, but I got a great “Meat is Murder” shirt out of it. My picture was in the paper, which was a little awkward for my father, whose job required that he be friendly with many of these “Beef: It’s What’s For Dinner” folks.

Vegan Jamaican Patties and Watermelon Strawberry Cooler

As I mentioned in a previous post, I subscribe to a CSA program, which means that once every two weeks, I get a ridiculously large box of vegetables that is way too much for one person to eat, and then I spend the next few days trying to give away as much as possible. When it’s time to drive out to pick up another box of vegetables I don’t really need, I have to move all of the previous vegetables around to make room. The good news is that these vegetables last forever. That’s also the bad news. I just am not keeping up.

I signed up for this program last year, when I still was part of a two-person household (not that the other party was big into vegetables, but at least it made a little more sense). At that time I still maintained the fantasy that I would be cooking regularly despite the fact that I taught a yoga class every night.

Now things are different, and my schedule is just plain weird, and although I love cooking and miss it terribly, most of my meals involve a restaurant, a smoothie, or peanut butter and pretzels. And yet my bi-monthly pilgrimage to the farm goes on, because I can’t seem to bring myself to cancel the program. Yet once in a while I rally myself to cook up a bunch of these vegetables in an actual meal, and that’s an incredibly satisfying feeling.

This week I’m enjoying these Jamaican Veggie Patties from Bryant Terry’s Vegan Soul Kitchen. If the recipe looks familiar, that’s probably because you saw it on 101 Cookbooks, where Heidi did a lovely job covering the recipe. I’m going to go ahead and share it again with my own notes and changes, but you can definitely make it as stated in the book (and on 101 Cookbooks) and you should be quite happy!

I made a few changes to accommodate the veggies that I had in my CSA box this week (black eyed peas, kale, corn, red onion, carrots), and I also used coconut BUTTER (as Bryant suggests), not coconut oil, for the pastry. Coconut butter*  is made from the meat of the coconut and is thicker, sweeter, and a little grainier. Heidi used coconut oil in her version, and sounds like it all worked out well for her, but I do like the rich sweetness of coconut butter in the pastry.

I’m also including a sort of non-recipe that I threw together for a delicious watermelon strawberry fresca-style drink, which was utterly refreshing after two hours of the Ashtanga Primary series at noon in my backyard. In June. In Florida. Right, hot’s the word.

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Vegan Jamaican Patties (based on Bryant Terry’s Jamaican Veggie Patties Recipe) 

Filling:
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Coarse sea salt
2 larges cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup coconut milk (note: I substituted plain almond milk, plus 2 T coconut butter for flavor)
1/4 cup 1/4-inch-diced carrots
1/4 cup 1/4-inch-diced sweet potatoes
1/2 cup fresh or frozen green peas… I used fresh black-eyed peas, which were awesome.
1/2 cup sweet fresh corn (or frozen)
1/2 cup finely chopped kale
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

Pastry:
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons turmeric
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup coconut butter
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons ice water

Take a few minutes to chop up your vegetables first. For this recipe, you want them to be 1/8″ dice, which is nice and small. Heat your coconut oil in a saute pan and, when hot, add the onions and spices. Cook until the onion is soft and translucent. Add garlic and kale and cook for 2 more minutes. Now, add your carrots, sweet potatoes, and milk, and cook until vegetables are tender- 5-10 minutes. If you’re using black eyed peas, add them here. Otherwise, once your vegetables are tender, add the green peas, corn, and thyme. After another two minutes or so, your vegetables should be cooked. Remove from heat, add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste, and set aside so the flavors can, as the recipe’s author says, “marry.” Isn’t it nice when your food gets along so well?

If you don’t have a food processor: Combine flours, turmeric, and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Add the coconut butter to the flour mixture and rub with your fingertip until the mixture resembles fine sand, about 10 minutes.

Combine the vinegar and water and mix well. Then, without overworking the dough, add the vinegar mixture by the tablespoon, while stirring, just until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and begins to coalesce. Squeeze into a tight ball, flatten, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

If you do have a food processor: Lucky you! Put your flours, salt and turmeric in the food processor and whir to blend. Drop in the coconut butter and pulse until you get that fine-sand texture. Separately, combine the vinegar and water, mixing well, and then add the vinegar mixture by the tablespoon to your pulsing food processor until the dough comes together a bit. Remove, squeeze into a ball, flatten to make a disk, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 350F and remove the dough from the refrigerator.

With the reserved flour, lightly dust a clean surface, roll out the dough until it is about 1/8 inch thick. Cut six 6-inch circles from the dough (Bryant says you can use a bowl. Have fun locating a ruler and then measuring all the bowls in your kitchen. Many are 5.5″, I found!). Spoon 2 heaping tablespoons of the filling onto the center of one side of each circle, leaving about a 1/8-inch border. Fold the other half over to make a half-moon, press to seal, and make ridges around the edge using a fork.  I prefer to use thumbs to seal- I just like the way it looks better than fork marks- but it’s up to you. You may need to add a little water to the edges to help the seal come together.

(Note: In reviewing the comments over at 101 Cookbooks, some folks recommend brushing the patties with olive or coconut oil before baking to encourage a golden crust, but I’ve never tried this and have been happy enough with the results). Transfer the patties to a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 35 minutes. Serve immediately with some hot sauce.

Watermelon Strawberry Cooler: 

Ingredients:
1/4 large watermelon
6 frozen strawberries (or use fresh and add ice)
juice of one lemon- or, even better, one frozen lemon cube (I do this when I have lemons that are about to go bad. What joy to discover a frozen lemon cube at the back of the freezer just when you need one for a delicious frozen beverage!)
two pinches of ginger (to taste)
two pinches of cardamom (to taste)
a healthy dose of honey or sugar (you choose how decadent you want to be)

If your watermelon has seeds, cut it into smaller chunks as needed and press it through a mesh strainer into your blender. Add strawberries (and maybe 2-3 ice cubes, if you’re using fresh berries), lemon juice, and spices. Blend thoroughly and then taste for sugar. Enjoy!

*you can buy coconut butter at your local hippie natural-foods store, online at Vitacost, or, I just discovered, you can make it yourself, which is really awesome because it’s not a cheap product. Check out this cool post over at chocolate-covered Katie.

Post Retreat Peanut Butter Treat Recipe

So I’m fresh back from a week on retreat and starting to sort through the experience and its after-effects. Having a full seven days of both physical and emotional distance from “real life” is a truly precious experience. However, it’s not all roses and sunshine. I received a text from a friend yesterday that said, “So, was it so much fun? Do you feel totally relaxed?” Hm. How to answer this?

There were parts that were SO much fun. If you’ve ever tried to play a game of group Frisbee in silence, you know what I’m talking about. I loved reconnecting with my friends and the community, and the teachings from Tsoknyi Rinpoche  were beautiful, mind-opening, and surprisingly hilarious (he could headline a Tibetan lama stand-up comedy tour).

But the real bulk of the retreat was not exactly “fun.” It wasn’t even “relaxing.” Sitting down and being with yourself in meditation- facing all of the things you’ve been turning away from- this can actually be intensely unpleasant at times.

My friend Debe, a fellow practitioner and all-around awesome person, gave me this quote last week:

“It is such a mistake to assume that practising dharma will help us calm down and lead an untroubled life; nothing could be further from the truth. Dharma is not a therapy. Quite the opposite, in fact, dharma is tailored specifically to turn your life upside down – it’s what you sign up for. So when your life goes pear-shaped, why do you complain?” -Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

This about sums it up. The dharma- the Path- continues to shake me around in ways I didn’t know were possible. My time last week in meditation- 3 + hours/day- has left me feeling a bit like a snow globe. There’s a lot of space, a lot of clarity, but it’s hard to peer between the sifting flakes to find the way. Yeah, if life could quit shaking the snow globe, I’d be really grateful, but that’s not the way it’s going right now.

So I’m back to the real world, and I’ve got a lot of decisions to make. And a lot more sitting to do as I try to find my way.

So here’s a sort-of-junk-food-vegan recipe for you today. Why this one? Well, two reasons, really:

  1. I found during the past week that my moral compass seems to be pretty clear that I need to be as much of a vegan as possible. No, I don’t really want to, but I can’t keep ignoring the ethical issues.
  2. Sometimes a girl needs some comfort food, am I right? ‘Nuff said.

I came across this recipe a year or two ago on Angela’s awesome vegan Oh She Glows cooking blog, and it’s become one of my favorite go-to-recipes. You won’t believe how easy it is (it took me longer to type this out than it did to make them), and bag of these in the freezer is awesomely convenient for on-the-go snacking or breakfasts.

The texture is similar to a Rice Krispie treat, although of course it doesn’t have marshmallows (which, sorry to say, are not vegetarian) so it’s lacking that unmistakable sweetness. However, it does have a punch of smack-your-momma peanut butter flavor, which is always good for me, and the cacao nibs add a really nice bitter chocolate crunch.

The original recipe (lovely as it stands) is here. My recipe is pretty much identical (when you look at the ingredients, you’ll see there’s just not much to do), but I don’t mess around with small quantities. 🙂

Enjoy!

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Peanut Butter Not-Rice-Krispie Treat Balls 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of all-natural peanut butter (if you can do organic, even better. Almond butter rocks too)
  • 1 Tablespoon plus a splash of vanilla (please buy some good vanilla, it’s so worth it)
  • 4 cups brown rice crisp cereal (Rice Krispies do work, of course, but see note at the bottom for ingredients)
  • 3/4 cup  organic brown rice syrup or honey.
  • 4 tbsp cacao nibs (Angela says you can use chopped chocolate, but I always go with nibs. A bag isn’t cheap but they last forever)
  • A pinch of salt

Pour cereal into a large bowl, add nibs, and mix together.

Using a small saucepan on LOW HEAT, heat the brown rice syrup or honey with the peanut butter and a pinch of salt, if using. Watch and stir until completely blended and just warm and runny. Don’t walk away- you don’t want burnt peanut butter.

Remove from heat and add in the vanilla. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the cereal mixture and mix until all cereal is coated.

It’s time to put together your balls! Moisten your hands with a little water and create small balls (like golf-ball size).

Note- If the mixture is too runny, you can add some more cereal. If it’s too dry, drizzling a little more syrup or honey over the bowl and stirring (no need to heat it up) works.

Place completed treats on a cookie sheet (line it with parchment first if you want to, but I don’t always bother) and place in freezer. Once they are frozen, move to a plastic bag or other container for longer-term storage. I do keep mine in the freezer, but they are also fine in the fridge. You can eat them right from the freezer (chewy, crunchy, cold and peanut-buttery) or wait for them to thaw. Well, maybe you can. I never do.

*Ingredient note: Don’t freak out. You can get the brown rice crisp cereal, brown rice syrup, and cacao nibs online at Vitacost for a significantly lower price than your local grocery. It’s pretty easy to get free shipping, too.

Warming Recipe: Date Shake

This fall I invested in a consultation with an Ayurvedic practitioner, Jill Leslie of Ayurveda Alchemy. I am fascinated by Ayurveda, yoga’s “Sister Science,” which has been practiced for over 5000 years. It is a holistic health care system that is tailored to each individual’s constitution, and it advocates, more than anything, self awareness as the foundation for good health.

If you have a chance to work with an Ayurvedic practitioner, I highly recommend it (and Jill really is great). When I am following the principles of Ayurveda closely, eating according to my individual needs, I feel better-rested, more vibrant and healthy all over. Of course, I don’t always manage to do this very well- but it’s pretty fascinating to bring awareness to the sensations in my body and relate them directly to the way I’ve been eating. Jill explained to me that the food that you eat becomes your body parts- hair, nails, other tissues, etc. This morning, I am guessing, my body is having a hard time trying to make new cells out of those Snickers Fun Size candy bars I had for dessert.

I’m listening to my body this morning and I know that I am not really that hungry- I don’t need to eat a big breakfast. On mornings like this, especially when it’s cool outside, I’ve been turning to a recipe from Jill that really satisfies the appetite in a soul-warming way. It’s a hot milk “date shake,” sweet and spicy with cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom. With permission, I’m sharing it with you here- enjoy!

Delicious Date Milk Shake

  • 3-5 whole dates (Medjool is best)
  • 1 cup whole organic milk (preferably not homogenized, raw organic whole milk is best)
  • 2 pinches cinnamon powder, 1 pinch cardamom, 1 pinch ginger, a few strands saffron (if available)
  • 10 almonds that have been soaked overnight, rinsed and peeled (note- if you didn’t have time to do this, they may be omitted)

Boil milk with the spices, except the saffron, until it foams once.

Blend the warm milk with the dates and almonds (if using) until they are finely ground.

Pour into a mug or glass and enjoy with mindfulness.

Note from Jill: Date milk shakes are incredibly delicious and deeply nourishing.  They are the perfect alternative to smoothies. Generally, smoothies are hard on the digestive system. They are cold, heavy and combine milk and fruit, a combination that according to the ancient texts (remember ancient = tried & true) is actually quite bad for you.

Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Hippie Cookies

Note: My friend Jill of Ayurveda Alchemy reminded me this week that honey, when heated, does not digest well and becomes a toxin in the body. She recommends maple syrup, or you can always go with brown rice syrup as the original recipe suggests. She also notes that the ground flax seeds may be problematic as flax OIL will create free radicals in the body- I suspect you could probably use chia seeds instead. Would love to hear if anyone tries that substitution. 

After spending all day yesterday practicing, teaching and talking yoga at Down To Earth Yoga for a super Yoga Fest, I knew my body needed a break this morning.  It’s a gorgeous October day and the weather is perfect for baking… and perhaps a little visit to my friends Barkin’ Bones Bakery at the Stuart Downtown Green Market, where I could share cookies (a favorite activity) and pick up some homemade snacks for my fluffy friends.

(I love, love, love, waking up in the morning and having only fun things to do. 🙂 )

This morning, I knew I wanted to make another batch of an unlikely cookie. To be honest, I did not want to like these cookies. In the morning, you see, I want to eat big old cinnamon rolls, and French toast, and lots of decadent sugary things. This cookie was intended to be a compromise, and I felt resentful. The ingredient list is just so… wholesome.  It felt like a chore of a cookie, a deprivation cookie. A cookie for people who don’t know what real cookies should be.

So last weekend, I baked the cookies for the first time. I gave some away (mostly to yoga folks, who seemed the most likely to appreciate the virtues of a banana-oatmeal-goji-berry-pumpkin seed cookie). To my great surprise, of the cookies I’d given them that day (including a chocolate-cappucino cookie, a decadent cinnamon-chip oatmeal cookie, and these carrot cookies that everyone loves so much)- this homely, wholesome, hippie little cookie was the overwhelming favorite.

I sampled the cookie again and had to agree that, despite its staunchly nutritious pedigree,  the cookie had won me over. I needed a new batch for myself. Will you be a convert as well? Here’s the recipe:

Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies 

Adapted from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.- a GREAT cookbook. 

Ingredients

  • 2 smallish ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 T ground flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup nondairy milk
  • 1/2 cup oil (peanut oil or coconut oil work well)
  • 1/2 cup honey (or brown rice syrup, which is vegan, delicious, and more expensive)
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract (when you’re tired of messing around with cheap vanilla, buy this one)
  • 2 C white whole wheat flour (you could use white or whole wheat pastry flour, but WWW flour offers the benefit of whole grain flour in a lighter texture. I love this one).
  • your choice of spices: for the last batch I used 1.5 t cinnamon, 1.5 t ginger 1/4 t ground nutmeg 1/4 teaspoon allspice.
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 cups oats (I like rolled oats, not quick-cooking; they are chewier. Either work)
  • 1 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or toasted walnuts, pecans, or other nut or seed
  • 1 cup goji berries (or dried cranberries, or any other dried fruit)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees; line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Combine banana, flax seeds, and “milk” and mix until smooth. Add oil, honey or brown rice syrup, agave nectar, and vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, spices, baking soda, and salt. Stir well using a whisk or fork- you could sift, but it’s not mandatory.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture until just combined.
  5. Add oats, nuts/seeds, and dried fruit. Again, combine well, but be mindful not to over-mix. It will be thick and sticky.
  6. Drop scant 1/4 cups of dough onto baking sheets about 2″ apart. Gently press the cookies down to 1″ thickness. If you prefer a more uniform, rounded cookie, use moistened hands to loosely roll the dough into balls, rather than just dropping.
  7. Bake 14-16 minutes, or until edges begin to turn brown.
  8. The final texture will be really muffin-like; don’t fight it, just enjoy it. Cookies keep awesomely in the freezer. Defrost on counter for 20 minutes or in microwave for 20 seconds.