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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
P.S. If you’re still reading this, I love you.
adapted from Golubka Kitchen
1 c pitted dates, soaked for 2 hours
2 c raw almonds, soaked overnight
3 tbsp ground flax seeds
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
coffee grinder (if using whole flax seeds)
cupcake or muffin tins
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.