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Warming Chai, DIY Warming Balm AND a chance to win!

Wow, is it chilly here in New England this morning! I'm pulling out a mug of cinnamonny chai and rubbing some warming balm into the soles of my feet... and I'm keeping on my fuzzy socks until the sun comes out!  {{don't judge!}}  It is June, right?! Anyway, if you're game to try, I've posted my recipes for my favorite Coconut Chai and Warming Balm below!  I'm also including a blurb about the bennies of Coconut Milk (which apply to Coconut Oil too).  I alternate dairy free milks depending on my mood and on what I have in the pantry... coconut, hemp, almond and cashew are easy to store and easy to blend into your perfect milk! (I'm hooking you up with my DIY Coconut Milk Recipe too... :)  ) I want to hear from YOU!  What do you do when you are chilly?  What is your go-to, warm-me-up, comfort-in-a-cup drink?  What other tricks do you have up your sleeve?  Share...  I'll be picking ONE or TWO people to send a tin of my gorgeous Warming Balm or a Chai Lip Balm... I'll let you choose.  But, you can't win if you don't share!  Get to it!    ********************************************************************* coconut-729059_1280
5 Health Benefits of Coconut Milk
  1. Calcium and Magnesium powerhouse ~ Coconut milk is higher in calcium than regular milk and almond milk! It is also rich in magnesium which can help relieve and ease sore muscles and promote a sense of calmness for relaxation and sleep.
  2. Nutrients galore ~ Coconut milk contains iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium, as well as vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6.
  3. Immune System Booster ~ Coconut milk and coconut oil contain lauric acid, which is anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. It’s a great tool to support a healthy immune system.
  4. Weight Management ~ The body uses the short and medium-chain fatty acids in coconut for energy. The fiber in coconut milk is also great for helping you feel full and satisfied AND it’s great for your colon!
  5. Dairy Free, Nut Free and Vegan ~ allergy friendly for those who need to be dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free and gluten-free.
DIY Coconut Milk
  • 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 4 cups water
What you will do:
  1. Soak coconut in the water for an hour
  2. In your vitamix or high speed blender blitz everything – the coconut and the soaking water. You want to blend on the highest speed for about a minute. You’ll see that the solids will dissipate and the whole mess will get insanely creamy --- watch the sides of your pitcher for the change!
  3. If your blender doesn’t get the mixture completely smooth, go ahead and strain everything through a clean nutmilk bag or clean coffee filter.
NOTE:  you can add a little vanilla extract and a few drops of liquid stevia if you want to change the flavor.  Also, for DIY Coconut Cream, reduce the amount of water to 2 cups.  You may need to add a little water as you blend, depending on the moisture content of the coconut that you start with! Warming Coconut Chai What you will need:
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • ¼ tsp clove or 2 whole cloves
  • ½ tsp cardamom or 1 cardamom pod
  • 1 tsp cinnamon or about 1 inch of cinnamon bark
  • ½ inch fresh ginger, skin removed and minced
  • black tea – 2-4 teabags, depending on how strong you like your chai
  • raw honey, stevia, or coconut sugar (usually a tsp or two will do if you need it sweet)
What you will do:
  1. Crush any whole spices (not the ginger) in motor and pestle or put them in a baggie and gently bash them with a rolling pin; a clean coffee grinder also works as does a quick spin in your high speed blender with the coconut milk. Whatever your method, grind the spices and combine with the coconut milk.
  2. Heat coconut milk, ground spices and ginger to a simmer.
  3. Add tea bags and simmer for about 5 minutes, then shut off the heat and cover; the longer you let this steep, the deeper the spiced flavor will be – 10-15 minutes.
  4. Taste the mixture. Does it need sweetener or is the cinnamon enough?
  5. Strain your concentrate through a sieve or tea strainer.
  6. Reheat the concentrate and add some water to thin it if you like.
Whipped Chai Balm


Chai Spice Blend

I get on flavor kicks, in case you haven't noticed.  Indian spices and chai are particularly appealing to me in the winter.  I have a love affair with heat, truth be told, and I'll do just about anything to avoid being cold.  I'm not at all ashamed to tell you that I warm up my pjs with my hairdryer, believe the best gift I've ever received (besides my children) is my amazing heating blanket and I use those nifty handwarming pouches all the time.  Now you know.  The warming spices in my Chai Blend are not only tasty, but they are also comforting and helpful to those like me who enjoy warmth. The Chai Spice Blend I've shared with you before is something I pretty much have on hand all the time.  I will toss a teaspoon into a banana bread recipe just as quickly as I'll use it to punch up the flavor of carrot soup.  It makes a quick curry sauce with an added pinch of turmeric, a dash of saracha and a smash of garlic.  There's so much that this blend can do to make your day more interesting!  I figured since I use it so much that I should tell you a bit more.  May my experiences with Chai be fodder for your culinary experiments! Chai Spice Blend (Makes about ½ cup) 2 Tbsp of each of the following spices, ground:  Ginger, Cardamom, Cinnamon 2 tsp of each of the following, ground: Cloves, Nutmeg, Allspice, Black pepper and Vanilla Powder Mix the ingredients until combined.  Store in a tin or a spice jar.    Okay, an example for you: The last of the mango trio I bought was sitting on my counter this morning starting to look a bit sad.  It was now or never for this guy, so he hit the cutting board.  Mango aren't native to NH, of course, but it's hard for me to resist their musky orange flesh.  I buy local as much as possible, but in cases like this with mango I choose to use what's available.  The fruit is already on my grocer's shelf and needs someone to use it... so that person is sometimes me.  I know this perpetuates the problem because if I didn't buy it they might not order it, etc, etc.  I know.  But when a girl needs a mango, a girl needs a mango.  Maybe when I'm older I'll plant myself somewhere tropical and surround myself with coconuts and mangoes and I will sing every day, grow my hair wildly long again and be blissfully warm ever after.  Until then, I will buy my mangoes and not apologize for my action. Right, so the mango peeled and cubed sat in my breakfast bowl.  He was ready to go and so was I, but there's this bowl of chai spice on my counter and I'm not afraid to use it.  The kids had already stirred a bit into their yogurt and I could smell the ginger... it was a natural progression! Spiced Mango 1 ripe mango, peeled, cut off the pit and cubed 1 tsp chai spice, more or less to your liking [caption id="attachment_256" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Spiced Mango"]Spiced Mango[/caption]   How else can you use the Chai Spice Blend?  Here are some ideas to get you started:
  1. Buy a small carton of soy or coconut creamer and tip in a few Tablespoons of the spice blend.  Put the cap back on and shake.  Leave this in your fridge overnight, at least, so the spices permeate the creamer.  You can do this with any milk or milk alternative.  The longer you let the spices hang out in the liquid the more intense the flavor. Use the Chai creamer with your next cup of black tea for a spicy kick.  If you don't like gritty tea just pour your cuppa through a strainer before drinking. 
  2. Add a teaspoon or more to your favorite banana bread batter.
  3. Slice some bananas and toss with chai spice.  Give them a quick warm up in a saute pan with a little knob of Earth Balance or coconut oil, then drizzle with agave or maple syrup and enjoy warm, creamy, spiced banana. --- A splash of rum and fresh coconut curls make this dish into a real party for the over 21 crowd!
  4. Chai spiced hot cocoa is exceptional.  Add a teaspoon of the spice into your favorite mix or homeblend.  I think the dark vegan chocolate and cacao options are a stunning match for chai spices.  The combination makes me think of Mexican moles (mol-eh's, not the little critters that burrow in the ground!)
  5. Sprinkle Chai spices over yogurt and fruit for a warming morning treat.
  6. Add chai spice into a batch of garlicky lentils.  Toss in a pinch of turmeric and a hit of saracha. 
  7. Warm a bit of coconut oil and toss some raw cashews to get them coated.  Then sprinkle the nuts with 1-2 tsp of chai spices and shuffle them around so they're well dressed.  Let them dry on a baking sheet and then snack on them!
  8. Pulse equal amounts of dates and nuts in your food processor.  Add Chai Spice to suit your taste.  Roll into small balls, coat with shredded dried coconut and enjoy as a snack.
Post a comment and let me know how you're using Chai Spices... I can't wait to hear what you come up with! Share


Spicy love

Wow, February has been busy in my house!  It's Valentine's Day already... can you believe that?!  Yikes!  Well, Valentines day seems to me to be about sweet treats and indulgence and expressing love with fun foods.  My kids are certainly not strangers to treats, but we definitely don't do refined sugar in the way that we used to.  Today I made cinnamon rolls my way and loved them! A couple things make my cinnamon rolls different from the massive cinnabon style buns.  First, my guys aren't sickly sweet.  They are citrus spiced and subtly sweetened with dates.  Oranges, whole, juicy oranges provide the liquid mass for this dough.  It's whole food goodness with no milk or oil fillers and fat to cloud the flavor of the ingredients.  The gluten free flours tend to lend an earthier quality than white wheat flour, but teff, sorghum and amaranth are among the earthier alternative flours out there.  These are not rolls that will leave you feeling gluttonous, rather, these are treats that are meant to be enjoyed as a component of a healthy breakfast... not as breakfast alone.  I'm talking about having one cinnamon roll alongside a fruit salad and a cup of tea.  The rolls are balanced... and that may be why I love them. Here are two variations on the same basic roll.  I've made this recipe with a few different flour combinations to show you how you can change things up to suit your taste and also to work with what's in your pantry.  The first is a roll roll, and is great with a meal or with a cup of tea.  The second is the cinnamon roll.  It is versatile and lightly sweet and also makes a great biscuit/cookie!
[caption id="attachment_238" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Spiced Orange Rolls"]Spiced Orange Rolls[/caption]   Spiced Orange Rolls Ingredients 1 Tbsp Yeast 3 cups Sorghum flour ¾  cup Teff flour ¼ cup Tapioca flour 2 Tbsp chai spice or 2 tsp Cardamom, ground 12-oz orange puree (from about 3 oranges) 1 tsp. Lecithin 4 dates, pitted ½ cup Water (use if needed to get a moist but not sticky dough) ½  cup Raisins Preheat oven to 345 degrees.  Put oranges and dates into the food processor and process until smooth.  [caption id="attachment_239" align="alignright" width="300" caption="orange and date blend"]orange and date blend[/caption] You’ll have a pulpy juice mixture and the dates should be well incorporated.  Keeping your raisins aside, add the remaining ingredients and pulse until a dough forms.  Add a bit of water as you go if your dough seems dry.  We don’t want a wet or sticky dough, but it shouldn’t be crumbly either. Let’s turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board.  I used Sorghum flour since it’s lighter than the teff.  Put the raisins on top of the dough and knead them in.  Once they are relatively uniformly distributed pat the dough out into a rectangle that is about 12 inches long and 6 inches wide.  [caption id="attachment_240" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Spiced Orange Dough studded with Raisins"]Spiced Orange Dough[/caption] Using a knife, score the dough in half lengthwise and then make 6 cuts spanning the width so we have 12 equal pieces.  Take each piece and roll it into a ball in your hands, then make flatten the bottom for a cute roll shape.  Place your formed rolls onto a parchment lined baking sheet or onto preheated baking stones in the oven. [caption id="attachment_241" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="heading into the oven"]heading into the oven[/caption] Bake for about 25 minutes.   Cinnamon Orange Rolls Ingredients Filling 1 cup pecans 6 dates 1 Tbsp ground Cinnamon 1 tsp vanilla powder Dough 12-oz orange puree (from about 3 oranges) 4 dates, pitted 1 Tbsp Yeast 2 cups Amaranth flour 1 cup Arrowroot flour ½  cup Teff flour 1 Tbsp ground Cinnamon 1 Tbsp vanilla powder 1 tsp. Lecithin Equipment you’ll need: 2 bowls food processor rolling pin Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  First things first, we need to make the filling.  Dump all of the filling ingredients into the bowl of your food processor and pulse it until everything is combined and you've got a sticky paste.  Tip the mixture out into a bowl and give the food processor a quick swish with water so we can get going on the dough. [caption id="attachment_245" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="date nut filling"]date nut filling[/caption] Down to business: put your 3 oranges and 4 pitted dates into the food processor and process until smooth.  [caption id="attachment_242" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="We start with whole foods"]Oranges and dates[/caption] You’ll have a pulpy juice mixture and the dates should be well incorporated.  Add the remaining dough ingredients and pulse until a dough forms.  You will likely need to scrape the sides of your food processor several times during the process to ensure uniform mixing. [caption id="attachment_243" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="amaranth dough"]amaranth dough[/caption] Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  I used Amaranth flour since it’s the main flour in this dough.  Knead the dough a turn or two and then grab your rolling pin.  Make sure that your work surface is well floured or this dough will stick!  Roll out a rectangle about 24 inches long and 12 inches wide.   [caption id="attachment_244" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Even though it's a tender dough, it rolls out beautifully."]rolled out[/caption] Scoop the filling out its bowl and drop it in clumps down the center of the rolled out dough.  Using a spatula or flat knife spread out the filling until the surface of the dough is covered.  You will have a thin coating of the nut mixture. spread out the filling Now it’s time to roll this guy.  Starting at the long edge that is closest to you, begin to roll the dough.  Think jelly roll, think rolling a sleeping bag… we are rolling the dough over onto itself until it is one long rolled log.  Mission accomplished with the roll, so we’re going to use a serrated knife to slice 1.5 inch pieces of dough.  I ended up with 16 equal pieces.     [caption id="attachment_247" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="snug as a bug!"]cinnamon rolls[/caption] Place your sliced rolls in the pan of your choice.  They don’t rise very much so you need not leave a ton of room between them… in fact, you can pack them in like snug little bugs.  The only real prerequisite  is that you lightly oil your pan or line it with parchment. Bake for about 35 minutes. [caption id="attachment_248" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="fresh from the oven"]fresh from the oven[/caption]   Alternative: Slice the roll into cookie thickness, about ¼ inch thick and bake on a hot baking stone or parchment lined cookie sheet for 12-15 minutes.  Super, super crunchy and tasty treats.  Heck, make some into cinnamon rolls and some into cookies.  These are great with a cup of tea.


Vanilla Chai Yummies

I had a long day yesterday that involved sitting in a conference room for a meeting from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.  The mere thought of the afternoon weighed like an elephant on my shoulders by the time 11 o’clock rolled around.  What eventually made the afternoon bearable was the Raw Revolution bar I nibbled on from time to time.  Chocolate Raspberry.  Let me repeat… Chocolate Raspberry.  And now imagine a little slab of raw goodness that is the color of a naughty chocolate bar with the flavor of super ripe raspberries and sinful chocolate ganache.  Normally I make snacks like this at home with my kids.  They are healthy, quick and much cheaper than commercial bars.  I haven’t made chocolate raspberry before, but we routinely make one with dates, cashews and a berry blend (my little guy calls them “Sweet Fruit Snowballs”).  A friend of mine was writing on facebook about enjoying a cup of homemade chai tea.  How I love chai!  What’s not to love, really?!  Got me thinking about making a raw bar or raw ball using chai spices.  I started imagining a blond ball speckled with fragrant Indian spices and studded with coconut.  Knowing me, as some of you do, you are aware that I am an info junkie.  So I started checking out some of my favorite web resources and I came across a few ideas for raw vegan macaroons and even one with a chai spice blend.  I played around with my food processor and my spice grinder and came up with something that is share worthy.  What I ended up with are perfectly sized nuggets of spiced coconutty perfection.  They are not flecked with spice as I envisioned because I started off with fine ground spices, but they are well spiced and studded with coconut!  The spice flavors definitely developed over night, so my suggestion is to make them one day and eat them the next if you can stand to keep your mitts off that long! Right, here you go!  I am also posting my recipe for Sweet Fruit Snowballs since it’s a perennial favorite in my household!  Enjoy. [caption id="attachment_137" align="alignright" width="300" caption="little mound of spiced coconut goodness"][/caption] Vanilla Chai Yummies (makes 30 tablespoon size balls plus a few teaspoons for tasting along the way) 12 pitted dates 2 cups shredded coconut, unsweetened 1 cup raw cashews 4 Tbsp agave nectar, maple syrup or honey 4 Tbsp melted coconut crème or coconut oil * 3 tsp spice blend (see recipe below) 1 tsp flaxseed meal *If you are keeping you snack raw go ahead and melt the coconut creme or coconut oil over a cup of hot water.  You put the product into a glass dish and let the dish rest in the water without getting the water in the glass dish, of course.  Stir, stir, stir and then remove.  It's about gently warming the raw product while keeping it raw.  If you aren't concerned about the rawness of the coconut creme or coconut oil then you can zap it in the microwave for a few seconds or melt over a double boiler. Blend all ingredients in a food processor until the mixture is evenly moist and will hold together when you press it.  Use a small ice cream scooper to make even tablespoon size balls or use a spoon to portion and then roll in the palm of your hands.  You can roll these guys in a little extra shredded coconut if they are sticky.  I didn’t need to do that.  Eat or chill and eat… yum!            Chai Spice Blend (Makes about ½ cup)   2 Tbsp of each of the following spices, ground:  Ginger, Cardamom, Cinnamon 2 tsp of each of the following, ground: Cloves, Nutmeg, Allspice, Black pepper and Vanilla Powder Mix the ingredients until combined.  Store in a tin or a spice jar.      Sweet Fruit Snowballs (makes 36 teaspoon size balls) 12 pitted dates 1/2 cup goji berries 1 cup raw cashews 1/4 cup fresh cranberries 1 tsp agave nectar, maple syrup or honey 1 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp flaxseed meal 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, for rolling -- you may have coconut leftover depending on how much you press into the balls. Blend all ingredients in a food processor until a smooth-ish paste forms.  Roll tsp amounts of the fruit-nut mixture in the coconut.  Eat.