Rhubarb Rose Muffins and Equanimity

Rhubarb

 

It all starts with an idea. A wild, buoyant, sparkly idea that dances into view and captivates my imagination. Dreamer that I am, I gravitate towards the motion, the light, the possibility. I picture the idea bearing fruit, imagine myself dancing along with juice dribbling down my chin…And just like that, I’m off!! No time to think or analyze. I initiate with haste, trusting myself to think on my feet, the taste of success propelling me toward the reward. I thrive on possibility.

 

rhubarb apple sauce dyptich

 

As preparations turn to actions, there is a moment at the top of an inhale where I pause. A tiny question mark arises. Other outcomes take shape in my mind and what-ifs unconsciously surface. Before I can stop, I am reconsidering everything, testing each assumption and calculating the risks. I miss a beat and my breathing becomes shallow. My pure intention is obscured by the pleasure of a successful outcome and fear of any other result.

 

dry goods

 

In this case, that moment came when I was tinkering with a recipe for Mothers’ Day. The situation was a choice between a safe and confortable version with ingredients I’d rather avoid, or an experimental, risky one using foods that made me excited. Naturally, the excitement got the best of me and I begun to plan my rather unorthodox muffins.

 

Thoughts of inventing a never-before-baked vegan treat and feasting on them innocently, all while achieving genius status with my mom and my audience began to bud and blossom until I firmly told myself I would never become familiar with baking substitutions unless I started swapping. Yes, I knew there was a probability of failure, but the chance of success was enough to motivate me, and my appetite for glory was already whet.

 

Rhubarb Rose Muffin

Rhubarb Rose Muffinpistachio rose dyptich

roasted rhubarb

When I walk this path in life with an open heart and mind, I allow myself to receive a steady stream of love and wisdom from my teachers, friends and family, and my attitudes and actions shift accordingly. In the last 9 months, I have watched myself stand up straighter, smile brighter, laugh louder, work smarter, be more present with others and believe in myself more than I ever thought possible.

 

In many ways, I am still the girl who set an intention to meet herself and her yoga practice on a deeper level almost 2 years ago, and many of my hangups remain unchanged. I notice I still sometimes lose my focus when I allow myself to regard others with envy. I am still terrified of being regarded as stupid. I am no less averse to effort and afraid of failure.

 

I am, however, less likely to get swept up by those moments of self-doubt and back down on myself. I am more likely to accept that I cannot control the outcome; I can only control my willingness to submit to it and to enjoy the experience as it plays out.

 

Just as a yogi returns to the breath to help her through a challenging moment on the mat, knowing that it will pass and she will reconnect with the same steadiness that she felt in a moment of ease, I return to my assuredness that I am capable of self-actualization. At my core, I know I can achieve anything I want, if I am willing to work for it. It’s possible to breeze past clouds of uncertainty and keep my chin up, knowing that in the pursuit of my goals, I will find happiness, regardless of the outcome.

 

rhubarb rose muffins

maple streusel dyptich

 

My muffins did not turn out. They did not bake up to the airy, crumbly treat most pastry munchers would expect. They are dense, sticky and decidedly unsexy. But they did in the sense that I relished making them, I love what they are and I enjoyed eating one every morning this week. The process was enjoyable, and therefore the outcome was joy. Whether I created a genius muffin was beside the point. The experience was perfect to me.

 

mix messready to bake muffins

 

I share the recipe with you anyway. I tweaked it in ways that should improve the consistency, while remaining true to my intentions. Be inspired to take a leap of faith and play with it, or take it as it is. It’s a recipe for a karmavore. To my mind, preparing and consuming food is an act of service and devotion to the body and, in turn, the soul, an act intended to nourish the self without necessarily feeding the ego or pleasuring the senses (although deriving sensory pleasure from food is definitely crucial!). If you tend to agree, then you might just love them. Or if, like me, spending time in your kitchen is a form of meditation, you should definitely make them. They don’t take long.

 

muffz

 

 

It’s incredibly hard to overcome our habits; they are part of who we are. But the truth is, our habits are not who we are. Each of us is whole, pure, and unchanging. Our experiences form our habits. It’s only by identifying with these habits that we become their prisoners.

 

I find myself breaking free of habit more often since I began studying yoga, because by peeling back the layers of conditioning that obscure my true self, my practice creates space for me to look at my instincts objectively, and recognize that they are not “me”. In those moments, the true self shines through, and I let myself be guided into the light of the spirit.

 


muffin

 

Rhubarb Rose Muffins

adapted from Vegetarian Ventures

 

4 stalks rhubarb, diced and roasted with a sprinkling of coconut sugar

1/2 cup oat flour

1 1/2 cup rye flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup almond milk

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 cup lemon-ginger-cardamom-applesauce (see below)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 tsp rosewater

1 tsp vanilla extract

 

for the streusel

1/4 cup oats

1/4 cup pistachios

1 tbsp coconut sugar

1 tbsp coconut oil

1/2 tsp salt

 

 

For the applesauce (Makes 4 cups)
Heat 5 medium apples (diced) the zest and juice of 2 lemons, one 3-inch piece of ginger (grated) and 1 tsp cardamom in a large pot over medium heat. Cook until most of the lumps are gone. Cool and set aside 1 cup.
 
Muffin prep
Prehead oven to 375. Spread the diced rhubarb over a baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Sprinkle with coconut sugar to taste and roast for 20-25 minutes or until soft. While the rhubarb is roasting, combine the almond milk and apple cider vinegar to curdle for 10 minutes or so.
 
Assembly
In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, combine the wet ingredients including the milk, and mix wet into dry until just combined. Then fold in the roasted rhubarb. Lower the oven temp to 350.
 
Streusel
In a blender or food processor, pulse the streusel ingredients until you achieve a coarse crumble. Line 12 muffin wells with paper and evenly divide the muffin batter into them. Spoon streusel over the top and bake for 20-25 minutes or until an inserted poker comes out clean. Let cool before attempting to unwrap. Enjoy with an open heart.

 

Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

 

Spring is close, I can just feel it! I made these cookies as a lighter, smarter, yet still comforting treat to enjoy warmed up with my afternoon tea. They contain no oil and no flour, yet are gooey and substantial and delicious with a dab of nut butter on top! I hope they help you stay optimistic through the last month of winter.

 

amaranth

 

about amaranth: think of amaranth as the antithesis of flour in this recipe. It is a tiny seed that contains more complete protein than quinoa and more calcium than milk. It’s also high in fiber. What’s not to love?

 

fennel, star anise, tarragon, fenugreek

 

about fenugreek and fennel: fenugreek has been shown to lower blood sugar and reduce bad cholesterol in the blood due to its soluble fiber and saponins. Soluble fiber slows the absorption of carbohydrates in the blood, and saponins bind to cholesterol and prevent it from being absorbed. Fennel is a great digestive aid and tastes great, as well! Adding these or any of the spices I suggested to these cookies will make them more delicious and more supportive of your amazing body and all it does.

 

oatmeal raisin cookie ingredients

oatmeal raisin cookies

oatmeal raisin cookies

 

Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

adapted from Peggy Kotsopolous

 

Dry:

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup shredded coconut

1 cup cooked amaranth

½ cup zante currants (or any dried fruit or chopped nut)

1/3 cup coconut sugar

1 tbsp ground spices: fenugreek, fennel, anise, cardamom, turmeric, coriander cinnamon…or whatever you like

 

You can grind whole spices in a coffee grinder to achieve a fine powder, like I did. They will be more flavorful than pre-ground spices. Make sure you clean the grinder well before and after, or consider dedicating a grinder just for this purpose.

 

Wet:

4 ripe bananas

1 tsp vanilla extract

generous pinch of salt

 

Assembly:

Cook ½ cup of amaranth in 1 ¼ cups water to yield a little more than 1 cup cooked. Preheat the oven to 375, and while the amaranth is cooking, mash the bananas with the vanilla extract. Mix in all other dry ingredients until well incorporated. Spoon onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and flatten slightly with the spoon. They will not spread much, so give them the shape and thickness that you desire. Bake for 25-30 minutes and let cool.

Anti-Valentines’ Salted Lemon Tartlets

Salted Lemon Tartlets

If I’m alone in feeling a little salty every time February 14th rolls around, then I must be crazy. But this is the second year in a row I’ve blogged about it, so I must be part of the hype, right? If this hollow holiday makes you feel a little sour about love, then read on, my friend.

february snow in Vermont

If there’s one thing I can say about Valentine’s Day, it’s that it’s perfectly timed. Though I admittedly tell C I love him at least 10 times a day, every day, it feels especially true right now. It’s a harsh, cold world out there, and I have never been more grateful for his warm company and effortless affection than this frigid February. But my point is just this—why do we need an excuse to dote on our loves and make a showy display of affection?

 

raw almond crust

I’m sure you’ve heard this rant before, but it merits repeating. Whomever it is that you love, let them know it today. But let this be the least of days and the least of ways. Surprise them with a candlelit dinner on some random Wednesday in October. Melt them with flowers when they stagger out of work way past closing time on a humid Friday in June. Wake them up with a soft, sloppily strummed tune and your sleepy voice humming along, on a slow Sunday in the middle of the March thaw. Leave a note on their windshield with a naughty message next Tuesday. But whatever you do, please don’t save it all for Valentines Day.

Sliced ginger

On another note, I made some treats for myself yesterday (International Self-Love day, incidentally) to help me get through the next month and a half of my elimination diet. I can’t have wheat, corn, soy, dairy, eggs, sugar, or caffeine, so this was a bit of a challenge, but I was up to it. After lunch one day on the way home from a snowboarding expedition, I put a name on my craving: Lemon Bars. I set out to find a recipe that would work with my diet, and did I ever. Not overly sweet, these tartlets are also a touch sour and more than a little salty. They are also raw, grain-free, vegan and free of refined sugar. Winning on so many levels.

raw lemon curd ingredients

In Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga that governs wellness and nourishment, wintertime is dominated by vata, the elements air and ether, and the qualities dry and light. There is an excess of these qualities in our environment, and we are encouraged to balance them in our bodies, to avoid experiencing ill effects. Vata is present in each of us all the time, as are the other two doshas or constitutions, pitta and kapha. Pitta is fiery, hot and sharp, and kapha is earthy, watery, heavy and soft. Another Ayurvedic concept, rasa, translates to taste and identifies 6 tastes that make up all flavors in food. Certain tastes are said to aggravate certain doshas, while others will calm them.

coconut butter

In colder times, we do best when we even out an imbalance of vata with some pitta and kapha qualities, and preparing doshic food is an easy way to do this. The three rasas present in these tarts are sweet, salty, and sour, the same three rasas that are said to alleviate vata. Tastes that aggravate vata are pungent or spicy, astringent, and bitter. Think of all those summer salads that contain these flavors. Well, those salads are better left for summer. For now, comfort your inner vata and indulge in a sweet, rather salty, and slightly sour treat, and feel less cheesy on Valentines’ Day.

juicing meyer lemons

P.S. If you’re still reading this, I love you.

raw tartlets
dehydrating in the oven
Salted Meyer Lemon Curd Raw Tartlets

Lemon Tartlets

adapted from Golubka Kitchen

 

Crust:

1 c pitted dates, soaked for 2 hours

2 c raw almonds, soaked overnight

3 tbsp ground flax seeds

 

Filling:

1 c pitted dates
1 c raw almonds, soaked overnight
1 c coconut butter (I used this to avoid labor) or fresh coconut flesh
½ c fresh ginger, chopped
1 tsp Himalayan pink salt or other flaky salt, plus more for garnish
1 c freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used meyer lemons)
¼ c lemon zest
½ c coconut oil

 

Equipment:

food processor
coffee grinder (if using whole flax seeds)
cupcake or muffin tins
citrus juicer

citrus zester
dehydrator (optional)

 

For the crust, process the ingredients until no bits are larger than a sesame seed. I recommend pulsing the almonds a few times alone before adding the dates and flax. Best done in 2 batches. With your fingers, press the paste into each well of a couple cupcake or muffin tins (I used one of each). The crust should be no more than a centimeter thick.

 

For the filling, process the almonds, dates, coconut butter, ginger and salt until finely blended.  First zest, and then juice your lemons, and mix both zest and juice in along with the coconut oil. Fill your wells (there may be some extra—makes a luxury spread or topping for toast or porridge) and garnish with a few grains of salt. Dehydrate at 110 or the lowest temperature on your oven. I achieved an average temp of 120 with the oven door ajar. Do this for 2 hours. The tarts should firm up but not be dried out. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving, or freeze and thaw slightly. Store in the freezer. Can be eaten for breakfast (I did today). Can be eaten alone, given away or shared with love.

Salted Meyer Lemon Curd Raw Tartlet

 

Bitchin’ Banana Bread

 

speak no evil, hear no evil, see no evil

What is it about bitching that is just so good? The combination of the storytelling,  the incredulity, the horror, the laughter, the guilt and the sharing of woes is a recipe for comfort, and an indulgence of the highest degree. No day feels complete without it. I swear, it releases some happiness-inducing chemicals in the brain. It’s evil how sweet it is.

coffee chocolate banana bread

I could say the same thing about a couple of other ritual indulgences which, when combined, form a misery-melting combo. I’m talking, of course, about cacao theobroma and coffea arabica, sinful substances better known as chocolate and coffee. These partners in crime contain alkaloids that act on the human body in a similar way to a cathartic bitching session, and I am willing to bet that they make you feel just as good. Go ahead, shower a kind friend in a sorry story or two. What are friends for?

coffee chocolate banana bread

Whether or not you set aside time today to bitch, and whether or not you have a sympathetic ear, this chocolate-coffee banana bread is mandatory eating today and every day. Vegans, bitch all you want. I made this treat for you. Eat your hearts out.

coffee chocolate banana bread

BITCHIN’ BANANA BREAD

 

1 cup rye flour

½ cup white spelt flour

½ cup whole wheat pastry flour (or you can use 1 cup white 1 cup whole flour of any kind)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

½ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp cardamom (optional)

4 ripe bananas

2 tbsp ground cacao nibs (best) or unsweetened cocoa powder OK too

1 tbsp psyllium husk powder or ground flax seed

½ cup strong, fresh coffee

¾ cup maple syrup

¼ cup coconut oil

½ tsp vanilla extract

 

Brew the coffee—a french press is best. Use way more coffee grounds than necessary. Grind your nibs in a coffee grinder (if using), and mix the cacao powder with the psyllium/flax in the pressed coffee. Let sit aside until thickened. Then add the active ingredients (that’s your coffee and chocolate, friends) to the banana in a medium bowl and mash until smooth.

 

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper or grease with coconut oil. Melt your coconut oil into your maple syrup in the warming oven. Mix your dry ingredients in a large bowl, and add your syrup-oil mixture and the vanilla to the dirty banana mixture. Then fold the dry into the wet until just combined. Do not overmix.

 

Pour your batter into the pan, smooth the top with a spatula, and pop it until the oven. It took an hour and 20 minutes for my loaf to finish baking. You will know you baked long enough when you insert a toothpick into the very heart of the loaf and it comes out clean. Best when eaten warm, in solidarity.