Calming Reishi Tonic

Calming Reishi Tonic

I’ve been incorporating adaptogens in my daily life to increase energy, relieve stress, relax me before I go to bed, and so on.  The list goes on as adaptogens have a myriad of benefits for your body.  So, what are adaptogens?  They are non-toxic plants that have been used for centuries in Chinese and Ayurvedic healing traditions.  They help the body resist stressors and are immune boosting.  You can take them in supplement form or in powder form (my preferred method).

Adaptogens give me the much-needed boost throughout my day.  This Calming Reishi Tonic utilizes Gynostemma tea, a calming tea I drink often before bed time and Reishi Mushroom powder, which increases energy, improves digestion and soothes inflammation.  Reishi can be quite bitter so add your favorite sweetener to the drink.  The Calming Reishi Tonic is creamy and delicious due to the homemade almond milk incorporated into it.  I did a quick soak of my almonds (15 minutes in boiling hot water), drained them and added the remaining ingredients to my blender.  Once blended, you strain the mixture into a medium saucepan and serve immediately.  This tonic is in my hot beverage rotation on most weekends.  I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the additions of adaptogens in my life.  It’s made quite difference.

 

Calming Reishi Tonic//makes 1 serving

Steep 1 tsp loose leaf Gynostemma Tea in 1 1/2 cups water (I used @immortalitea_company)
1/4 tsp Reishi powder
2 heaping tbsp soaked almonds
1 date
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon 

Combine the soaked almonds, steeped tea, dates, and spices in a high-speed blender. Purée on high. Strain tea through a fine sieve in a medium pot. Bring to a simmer, being careful not to let the milk boil. Serve warm. 

Caribbean-Style Banana Bread w/ Sweet Orange Blossom Cashew Cream

banana bread loaf.jpg

I’ve been wanting to make this Banana Bread recipe for a few weeks, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to top it with.  I knew I wanted something creamy but what flavor….?  That was the question.  Time was ticking as my bananas were at their ripest and I didn’t want to start over with a new batch of bananas to ripen.  As you can tell, I was very determined to get the perfect topping for it.  And then it happened…that aha! moment. I was looking through a couple of cookbooks searching for a dinner recipe, when I came across Bryant Terry’s Afro-Vegan Cookbook.  Let me just say, this book is amazing.  It a cookbook bursting with African and Caribbean flavors that are vibrant, colorful…a celebration if you will of plant-based foods with a taste of tradition.  I came across Bryant’s Sweet Orange Blossom Cream and I got my a ha! moment.  It was serendipity. 

Let me just say that I love banana bread.  It is a quick and simple classic quick bread, however I wanted to zhuzh it up a bit.  Give it life.  And life I did give it.  The orange blossom cream was heavenly on top of it.  I made a few changes.  Instead of silken tofu, I used soaked cashews, thereby making a cashew cream.  I opted out of using bourbon (the original recipe) as I wanted it to be more for breakfast or a snack.  However, if you feel the need to add the bourbon (Bryant uses 1 Tablespoon), go for it.  I also used maple syrup instead of agave, but feel free to use your favorite sweetener.  The absolute best part about this recipe is the Orange Blossom Water or Orange Flower Water.  It is a clear and perfumed essence made by the distillation of fresh bitter orange blossoms.  Get a bottle and take a whiff.  You’ll want to put it in your food, put it in your favorite drinks, spray your sheets, etc.  You can find Orange Flower Water at Middle Eastern markets or buy it here.  It is used in a lot of desserts such as baklava and Mexican Wedding cakes. 

Enjoy!

 

banana bread 2.jpg
banana bread1.jpg

Caribbean Style Banana Bread w/ Sweet Orange Blossom Cashew Cream//makes 1 loaf
Adapted from B. Smith's Entertaining and Cooking for Friends

¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
½ cup vegan butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 ¼ cup mashed ripe banana
½ cup Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Sweet Orange Blossom Cream//1 cup
Adapted from Afro-Vegan

1 ½ cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours, drained, and rinsed
¼ cup agave or maple syrup
¼ cup non-dairy milk or water (I used almond milk)
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
¼ cup freshly squeezed navel orange juice
Finely grated zest of 1 navel orange
1 teaspoon orange blossom water

To prepare the frosting, place the cashews, syrup, non-dairy milk or water, salt, and extract in a high-speed blender or food processor. Blend or process until the mixture is mostly smooth; in a high-speed blender, this will be about 2 minutes once you get to high speed, and in a food processor it should take about 4 minutes, with a few breaks to scrape the bowl down. Then, with the machine running, drizzle in the coconut oil. Continue blending till the frosting is smooth and emulsified. Transfer it to an airtight container to chill for at least 2 hours. It will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.

For the banana bread, preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan.  In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice.  In another large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Then fold in the flour mixture, alternating with mashed banana, yogurt, and vanilla.  Stir in the nuts.  Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Transfer the bread to a wire rack to cool.  

Spring Minestrone Verde w/ Pistachio Pesto

Spring Minestrone Soup

Spring Minestrone Verde w/ Pistachio Pesto

Can this soup get any greener?  Spring is around the corner AND it’s been a year since I’ve started this blog.  Wow!  Time does go fast.  A lot has changed personally and professionally for me.  To say 2018 started off with a bang is an understatement.  It’s been quite a journey for me, but I’ve grown, and I am growing still.  What I’m most thankful for is my family and friends (old and new) that supported me through the journey.  I’m reminded of the song from Joe Cocker, “With a Little Help from My Friends.”  Great song.   My passion for this blog has deepened, although I needed a much-needed break to regroup and refocus. But, I’m back!!

Spring couldn’t be more apropos to talk about as it represents new life and new beginnings.  A renewal.  So, in honor of this wonderful season, I made this Spring Minestrone Verde w/ Pistachio Pesto.  It is an adaptation from Bon Appetit’s minestrone soup of the same name.  I knew I wanted to make something refreshing and green for my Spring blog post.  I don’t know about you, but I love green foods.  It signifies health and vitality.  Avocados, kale, matcha, spinach, broccoli and so on.  In this recipe, I use sugar snap peas, regular peas and Tuscan Kale.  Feel free to add your own green medley.  The star of the show in this soup is the Pistachio Pesto.  It takes an otherwise meh soup, to the next level.  Once you’ve added the pesto and topped it with shaved parmesan and crushed red pepper, you will not only have a healthy and filling soup but one with layered tangy flavors.

Oh and don't forget a good crusty bread.  Make sure you slather some pesto on the bread.  You'll want to put it on everything!

Enjoy!

 

Spring Minestrone Soup
Spring Minestrone Soup

Spring Minestrone Verde w/ Pistachio Pesto

soffritto
¼ cup olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
3 medium leeks, white and pale-green parts only, finely chopped
3 celery stalks, finely chopped
Kosher salt

pesto
2 tablespoons raw pistachios
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 cup (packed) basil leaves
1 cup (packed) parsley leaves with tender stems
⅔ cup olive oil, divided
½ cup finely grated Parmesan
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock or water
6 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed, sliced in half crosswise
½ bunch small Tuscan kale, ribs and stems removed, leaves torn
1 14.5-ounce can cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed
1 cup shelled fresh peas (from about 1 pound pods) or frozen peas, thawed
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
Thinly shaved Parmesan and crushed red pepper flakes (for serving)
4 ¾-inch-thick slices country-style bread, toasted

Recipe Instructions

soffritto
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Cook onions, leeks, and celery, stirring often, until soft but not browned, 6–8 minutes. Season with salt.

Do Ahead: Soffritto can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill or freeze up to 1 month.

pesto
Preheat oven to 350°. Toast pistachios on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until golden brown, 6–8 minutes. Let cool; crush using a small saucepan (you want a mix of sizes).

Pulse garlic, basil, parsley, and ⅓ cup oil in a food processor until a coarse purée forms. Transfer to a medium bowl and mix with Parmesan, lemon zest, crushed nuts, and remaining ⅓ cup oil; season with salt and pepper.

Soup & Assembly
Heat oil in a medium pot over medium-high. Cook thyme, bay leaf, and ½ cup soffritto, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. (Reserve remaining soffritto for another use.) Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add sugar snap peas; cook until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Add kale, beans, and peas and cook until kale is wilted, and peas are tender, about 3 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and black pepper.

Serve soup, topped with some Parmesan and red pepper flakes, with toast and pesto.