Bits of Winter Renewal

Bits of Winter Renewal

On the Winter Solstice our sun takes a nice long and potent look at the Tropic of Capricorn… and then turns around all poignant-like, tossing her golden rays–all resolved in beautiful definiteness.  Winter comes and she seems farther away… but really it’s just because you’re leaning in the other direction (the Earth’s axis and all).  She’s there, closer than ever.  But you cannot feel her warmth.  {Sigh of a longing heart.}  Ah, I’d love to teach a course that uses personification to explain natural phenomenon.

I find definiteness to be a great source of motivation. The end of the year surges my TCB energy like a Sunday but times 52. What a neat opportunity to tuck away all that hasn’t helped you thrive while honoring all that allowed growth.  There are lessons within the tuck and the honor and both steer the first months of the new year.  Alongside, an easier acceptance of change.  The theme of various personal inventories and evaluations, I consider: how do I best feed myself–in all areas (do, think, feel, eat). The last is more literal than the others but very much integrated.

Food.  As bad habits of mind create unhealthy habits across the board, what you eat deserves as much contemplation.  Maybe more so as your health and well-being is the foundation for all else.  So here are some of my food tools for the new year. And whenever possible, personification and dainty steps upon various soapboxes.

I know. Pictures of smoothies are pretty much terrible.  But a smoothie is an efficient delivery system for all kinds of wonderfulness.  Like all the superfoods I plan to feast upon in 2018, starting with our first character Maca Root.  Maca Root grows up high on the Andes and has been in use since Before Common Era. Who the heck would pass up a superfood once used by mighty Incan warriors?!  That is beyond food-cool.  Modern day Andean cultures are still pretty bad ass with their cultivation of medicinal roots and spiritual medicines (I’m talking about you, Ayahuasca).  And you can take the superfood out of the Andes… but you kinda can take the Andes out of the superfood.  In fact, Maca (and Ayahuasca) are both subject to “biopiracy” controversies.  Biopiracy, rooted in “New World” colonization and exploitation of indigenous lands and their resources, allows global big wigs to bioprospect and patent plants and animals, restricting use by Native populations.  It’s yet another gross practice of dear capitalism: the pursuit of profit above every single thing else in the world.  But here I am, sitting pretty scooping a Williams Sonoma teaspoons of certified organic Maca powder into my high speed blender.  Despicable, yes.  But we are all born of sin these days as the game has been rigged for quite some time. I’m conflicted. As anyone who thinks is. It reminds me of a quote from E.B. White that I made into a back to school poster some years back:

Maca powder in my overnight banana chia seed oatmeal, along with goji berries and the almighty cinnamon.  

All ready with pomegranate seeds, blackberry and maple syrup. IMG_4464

Then there is cacao. Cacao has phenylethylamine, a central nervous system stimulant. This stimulant is the very same one released when we are attracted to someone.  How wonderful, science, to deconstruct the chemical structures of attraction…  but I don’t want to hear about it really.  (I don’t want to know how the magician does the tricks.)  Cacao also raises serotonin levels.  And it contains another compound called theobromine that is a relaxing stimulant, pardon the oxymoron. A relaxing stimulant? That is right up my alley.  Now, do you want to eat spoonfuls of cacao powder? I certainly do… and will.  Or I’ll make some raw treats with them, like these Twix-ish bars made with lots of dates, persimmons, rolled oats and cacao.

Deglet Noor dates are less sweet than Medjool and used with rolled oats as the cookie base. If I made these again, I’d add some coconut oil.  Once finished and slightly thawed, the cookie layer would do its own thing, not firmly adhered to the caramel layer above it.  It was just a bit too dry.  Coconut oil is like a delicious tile grout. 

Layer one on parchment. 

The “caramel” base was mostly persimmon, a lovely fresh break from the usual date caramel.  The recipe called for just one lonely Medjool date to sweeten.  I would increase this a bit next time–for added depth of sweetness but also for texture.  How spectacular a sweet bite are dates!  I remember a cereal from my youth that contained dates–sugar coated as was every cereal of the times.  I had no idea what they were, but I can remember them well still–texture and taste.  The bites we take of the world are the most intimate memory makers.

The recipe warned that persimmon can turn gel-like after too much processing but offered no timing tips. So I probably under processed?  Raw ingredients are so expensive that you don’t want to risk messing them up, unlike flour-laden baked treats that are easy and inexpensive to screw up.  This is layer two ready for setting. 

All ready for cutting.  Again, I had some issues with this recipe.  The chocolate layer was mostly water (!) so it was not very rich and creamy… and tasted, well, watered down.  I’m going to make these again with my changes.

They were pretty but didn’t hold their shape. I wound up piling many into a container parfait style and it was a big hit at Christmas.  I can imagine it being even better with layers of cashew-based sweet cream in-between. Mmmm. 

Mo’ better choices incoming and outgoing soon. C’mon, 2018.

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