Category: Beverage

Adaptogenic Date Shake

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Each year, my now friend Sasha Swerdloff of Tending the Table genius organizes a trip for women in the food world (bloggers, cookbook authors, chefs, nutritionists, photographers etc.) to get together, hang out, share delicious food, and get to know each other beyond a screen (…see? Genius!) This year I actually got to attend – ok truth: I shamelessly invited myself because I wanted to meet this talented troupe of ladies IRL. The group decided to gather in Palm Springs, much to my delight as I needed to escape two kinds of hell: overdue home renovations and Ontario in February.

The days were magically sunny, delicious, and life-affirming. We cooked a lot, then let our food get cold taking too many photos of it. We swam, we hiked, we yoga-ed, we laughed, and conspired together. Besides all of the heart-warming togetherness, one of the highlights for me, was visiting a date farm just outside the city limits, to understand where our favourite whole food sweetener comes from (and to gorge ourselves, naturally). I had never seen dates on a tree before, and was moved to learn from the passionate farmer himself just how these sweet miracles grow.

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Dates grow on palm trees, and they fastidiously follow the calendar – you can practically set your watch to a date palm’s seasonal cycle. The first day of spring the tree is in full bloom and the hard work begins, as the farmer pollinates each one by hand. The ratio of male to female trees is about 1 to 30, since the male trees are only necessary to produce the pollen, and the female trees are the ones that produce the fruit. Between the first day of spring and the first day of summer, the tree sets up its entire crop for the year. All the work (trimming, feeding, etc.) must take place during this season, since it’s during this period is when the fruit ripens, turning from green, to yellow, to brown. The dates are ready to eat from the first day of autumn, and then the harvest begins. During this season, the fruit is either left on the tree and protected with cloth bags to prevent rain, birds and insects from spoiling the fruit, or picked when ripe. The farmer told us that the best place for the dates is to remain on the tree for freshness, but if the load is too heavy, it will not bloom as well the following year, thus effecting the trees’ output.

After decades of date farming, he was as wide-eyed and passionate about his fruit as an eager young man, which really made us all swoon. It is truly one of my favourite things in this world, to see how and where food is grown, and to meet and connect with the people who lovingly produce it. We all left with full bellies and hearts, and of course, our bags bulging with dates.   

Date shake

Along the dusty, desert road home we saw so many signs for date shakes, since this is the land where this indulgent treat was invented back in the 1930s. None of us caved and bought one, but my mouth was definitely watering, and I was excited to get back and make one for myself. The original recipe is simple, and calls for dates, vanilla ice cream, milk, and sometimes a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg. I knew this was the perfect makeover opportunity, and high-vibed my date shake with coconut milk instead of dairy, hemp seeds, and adaptogens.

So why the adaptogens? Well, I felt like the already-pretty-healthy date shake could use a boost, and what better way to make something more supportive than with a dose of stress-reducing, adrenal-loving, hormone-balancing, potions to get you back into balance? Yahs! I had these four choices on hand, but there are a lot of options once you start to dig around the health food store a little. Here is a little about each one and why I chose them.

Ashwaganda: helps the body adapt to stress and bring us back into balance. It encourages deeper sleep, supports the immune system, and energy levels.
He Shou Wu: builds the blood, harmonizes adrenal gland function, nourishes hair, skin and nervous system, increases antioxidant activity.
Maca: increases stamina, elevates mood, helps to balance hormones in both men and women, supports fertility and healthy libido.
Licorice: balances hormones, helps the body adapt to stress, supports the immune response, and aids learning and memory.

*Some adaptogens during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and while on medication are not recommended, so check with your natural health care provider before trying any of them.

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The farm we visited grew seven types of dates, and we loved trying them all. The unanimous favourite was the grower’s very own variety that he created himself, called Black Gold. He also mentioned that this was the best type of date for a date shake, but considering the fact that you maaaaay not get a chance to visit Palm Springs anytime soon, I’ll go ahead and recommend using Medjool dates for the shakes, since they are widely available, and their thin skin blends very easily into a smooth consistency. If you cannot find Medjool, try Deglet Noor instead, or soak your dates in warm water for half an hour before blending.

Dates are a great source of energy, and provide a generous amount of filling dietary fibre with very little fat. Dates are mineral rich, delivering potassium, manganese, magnesium and copper, as well as an assortment of B-vitamins. Seek out dates that are plump and juicy-looking (if you’re buying from a market, ask to try them first), that their skin is intact, and that they are neither glossy or dusty. I store my dates in an airtight glass jar in the fridge to extend their shelf life, and protect their flavour and nutrients. Kept this way, dates will last up to six months. Outside of the fridge at room temperature, dates will last about a month and a half, or you can freeze them for up to a year.

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The banana in this blend up is totally optional, and I actually really liked the version without, even though it was less thick and “milkshakey”. If you want to add more dates for sweetness and flavour, live it up. I found that this amount, about 3 Medjool dates, was just perfect for me, even without the banana. The spices are also optional, but help to disguise any strong flavours from the adaptogens, which admittedly can sometimes taste like the inside of a barn, or everyone’s favourite: feet? Mmmmm. Right. Let’s cover that up.

All in all, this is a delicious and filling way to start your morning, or the perfect afternoon pick-me-up. It’s creamy, smooth, sweet and totally balanced. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!   

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I just want to give a huge shout out to Sasha and all the women who attended the retreat – it was truly a beautiful experience. And if anyone out there is looking for some inspiration and general awesomeness, follow these wonderful people, below:

Sasha Swerdloff – Tending the Table
Renne Byrd – Will Frolic for Food
Lily Diamond – Kale and Caramel
Kimberly Hasselbrink – Kimberly Hasselbrink
Shelley Westerhausen – Vegetarian Ventures
Lindsay Kluge – Ginger Botanicals
Trisha Hughes – Go Eat Your Beets
Carly Diaz – Carly Diaz
Eva Kosmes Flores – Adventures in Cooking
Sophie MacKenzie – Wholehearted Eats

Hope you’re all enjoying the first breaths of Springtime. Sending love, gratitude, and sunshine,
Sarah B.

Show me your shakes on Instagram: #mnrdateshake

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Hey ya’ll! One more thing before I go: new Wild Heart High Spirit retreats are being planned! I’ll share more news about the retreats soon, but if you want to be the first to know when tickets are available, go to www.goldencircleretreats.com and join the email list. I’m so excited to welcome another group of women to this magical experience!

Big Batch Golden Milk

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So we moved. Across the ocean. It’s been a wild ride so far with plenty of excitement and relief coupled with awkward transitioning, and astronomical culture shock (small town Ontario is preeeeeetty different from Copenhagen). We’re also renovating a very old home by Canadian standards, and the hidden surprises lurking under every lifted floorboard are creating a project slightly larger and lengthier than predicted. But wouldn’t it all be so boring and predictable without those fun discoveries?! Right! Who needs a kitchen anyway? Oh wait.

Amongst the self-inflicted chaotic state of affairs, I’ve actually found some peace in the simple living we’ve got going on. Since we don’t really have any friends in our little village yet, there’s been plenty of time to actually take care of myself and our family. Afternoons are spent building toy train sets, cooking big batch meals, and making snacks for the days ahead. I’ve started taking aerial yoga and NIA, going for nature walks every day, and having candlelit baths on the regular. Funny what removing one’s social life will make room for!

An important part of my self-care routine these past weeks is my simple ritual of making golden milk. Warm, comforting, and satisfying, this drink has everything needed to combat winter blues and mover’s remorse (I kid, I kid). Usually I make golden milk on the fly, one cup at a time, but recently I realized how handy it would be to just make a huge batch and have it ready to spoon into some hot milk when the mood strikes. Genius.

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For those of you that aren’t yet familiar with this wonder drink, I’m excited for the vibrant, spicy world that is about to open up to you. Golden milk, or haldi ka doodh, actually dates back thousands of years in Ayurvedic tradition where it has been used to aid digestion and respiration, prevent colds and flu, decongest the liver, ease sprained muscles and joint pain, purify the blood, clear the skin, and aid sleep. The main ingredient in golden milk responsible for all of this awesomeness is the curcumin in turmeric, a compound that is responsible for its vibrant hue. Curcumin has been widely studied for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties, but it is also supports detoxification, helps balance blood sugar, and lowers the overall risk of cancer.

How do we get the most out of this powerful phytonutrient? Simply by combining it with black pepper and fat – two important ingredients in golden milk! A compound in black pepper called piperine actually helps the body absorb curcumin, and shows to increase the bioavailability of it by up to 2,000 percent. And the good news is, you only need a very small amount to reap the synergistic benefits. Then melt a little coconut oil in, and the curcumin can be directly absorbed into the bloodstream through the lymphatic system. That’s a cooperative one-two punch of absorption and deliciousness.

Once mixed, your Big Batch Golden Milk spice blend will last for up to six months. Keep it in a cool, dry place out of direct light – a closed cupboard is perfect. Do not store it right next to the stove or on top of the fridge, where the warm environment will speed spoilage. We wanna keep our medicine fresh!

The Big Batch Golden Milk recipe below makes about 120 servings, so there is plenty to divvy out to your most beloved, and even save some for yourself. Make sure to include the directions so that your lucky recipients can make golden milk themselves. I’ve divided them below so that you can print out just the single serving instructions for your friends and family. I’ve also included a recipe if you want to sample just one cup for yourself before committing to an entire jar.

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My version of golden milk has a few more spices than some blends that I’ve tried, but this unique combination just tastes that much better. If you’re on a tight budget, or you simply cannot find some of the spices listed, leave them out. The main ingredients you need are the turmeric, ginger, cinnamon and black pepper. The others are there for added health benefits and of course flavour, but the recipe will still be delicious without them.

The milk for this recipe is totally flexible. Coconut is classic, but almond, cashew, or hemp are tasty options. You can also do half milk, half water if you like. It will be less creamy, but it’s great if you’re trying to make your milk stretch a little farther!

The most important thing to remember when making golden milk is to not overheat the spices, as they will become bitter-tasting and therefore not all that enjoyable. If you choose to use milk in your recipe, warm it gently on the stove, then remove from heat and gently whisk in the golden milk spice blend. If you’re going with water, do NOT pour boiling water over the spice blend, but instead pour the recently-boiled water into a cup, let it cool for 30 seconds or so, then whisk in the golden milk spice blend. I also advise you not to add the honey or coconut oil until the spices have been stirred into the liquid you’re using, as they’ll incorporate easier if the spices have dissolved.

If you want to use a vegan sweetener, maple syrup is my favourite choice, but brown rice syrup, coconut palm sugar, and stevia are also good options. I also love adding a sprinkling of vanilla powder right at the end for some extra va-va-voom.

I recommend enjoying your golden milk first thing in the morning (right after your lemon water, of course!), or right before bed. If it’s a particularly cold day outside, this intelligent spice combo will warm your cells up from the inside out. Or, if you’re looking for a luxurious way to unwind down after a long day, I find that golden milk is also a very effective sleep tonic. Whatever the time you choose to enjoy this drink, you will absolutely love its warm, and satisfying vibes. Make it a ritual yourself: spoon lovingly, stir consciously and sip gratefully.

One more thing I should mention, is that the Big Batch Golden Milk spice blend is not only delicious as a drink, but that it can also be incorporated into a number of your favourite recipes. Toss a teaspoon into a smoothie, stir some into your morning porridge or pancake batter, fold it into a basic cookie dough or cake batter, and even try it in curries, soups and stews. The flavour is warming and pungent, so use it anywhere you’d like a burst of sunshiny spice that is as good as gold.

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I wish you all a super sweet holiday with tons of delicious food shared amongst family and friends, and that your 2018 is bursting with health and happiness. Much love to all out there, from my chilly, but cozy, little corner of the world to yours.

xo, Sarah B

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JenniferArndtPhotography(78of85)

In wrapping up 2017, I cannot help but look on the Wild Heart High Spirit retreats with deep gratitude and pure joy. I had a strong vision for the endeavor from the beginning: gather women in a beautiful and serene space, teach them how to reconnect to their bodies through food and movement. But I never imagined just how deep these lessons would go, how profound the changes would be, and how much fun we would have! After three this year, I can confidently say these experiences are incredibly special, and I feel very lucky to work with such a talented partner to create them. Thank you to all of the women who have traveled from all corners of the earth to join us. We love you!

Here are some highlights from our trips to Bali, Ibiza, and Portugal. Click on the images below to see photos from each of our magical locations.

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We also have some very special community partners who have generously made our experiences even more abundant!
Big thanks to:
Naturgligolie
Coconut Bowls
Jukserei
Pachamama
Raw Bite
Four Sigmatic
Gourmet Print Shop

We are now weaving plans for future retreats. If you are interested in learning more or joining us one day, please sign up to our mailing list to be kept up to date. We hope to see you one day soon!

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Secret Ingredient Frozen Hot Chocolate

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When I was in high school, the cool thing to do at lunch was eschew the basement cafeteria (obvi), leave the grounds altogether, and go to the local coffee shop. This made us feel like “adults” or something, sitting on plush velvet sofas, gossiping about so-and-so’s new haircut, and whose older brother we’d make out with while sipping a beverage that cost at least an hour’s worth of babysitting. Of course none of us really liked coffee, so we would blow our money on Italian sodas, fruity teas, and smoothies. When the warmer months rolled around, sandwich boards everywhere would announce that our very favourite, coffee-free drink was back in town: the Frozen Hot Chocolate.

Now, if you have never lived in North America, the name and entire concept of this beverage I’m sure eludes you. Isn’t it an oxymoron, frozen hot chocolate? Yes, I suppose it is, but then I also suppose that is the point – to confuse you enough that you want to buy one. There is a famous restaurant in New York City that first came up with this drink, and although I’ve never had the original, plenty of franchised cafes have made their own versions of what it essentially, a frothy chocolate milkshake.

In the past few weeks the weather here in Copenhagen has warmed up and I’ve finally been in the mood for cool, blended drinks again. But instead of using frozen bananas and other blood sugar-spiking fruits, I’ve been experimenting more and more with frozen veggies instead. The results are surprisingly delicious and I’m thrilled to have a few new veg-centric smoothies on lock. This is just one of them.

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The surprise ingredient in my frozen hot chocolate is…wait for it…cauliflower. Now this may sound totally weird, but please trust me, it’s delicious. Not even in a compromising way. The first sips are pure chocolate paradise, followed by a slight cruciferous waft, which then disappears again, conveniently, for those of us who perhaps don’t like vegetables at all (I’m looking specifically at my three-year-old son right now). All in all, this is one frosty, chocolate-y miracle of a drink for summer and I’m making it every morning to celebrate liquid vegetables tasting like candy.

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Did you know that a cauliflower is actually a little head of thousands of compact flowers? Call me a hippie, but I like the idea of mowing down on a meadow. It makes me smile. Cauliflowers are white because they do not contain any carotene, the pigment found in things like carrots and broccoli, but what it lacks in vitamin A, it makes up for in potassium, folic acid, and vitamin C. And it may surprise you to learn that cauliflower is 25% protein and among the cancer-fighting cruciferous family that includes Brussels sprouts, cabbage and kale.

Since this recipe calls for frozen cauliflower, I know some of you will be wondering if that changes the nutritional content in any way. I’m happy to report that a recent study done on the freezing of cauliflower has shown its nutrients to be fairly stable after one-year freezer storage. Cauliflower in the study was blanched in near-boiling water for three minutes prior to freezing for one year. Numerous phytonutrients were evaluated in the study, including cauliflower’s sulfur-containing compounds. While nutrients levels were typically reduced after this year of freezer storage, loss of nutrients averaged about 15-35%. Although I always recommend eating fresh vegetables, there are some (fun!) applications that benefit from using the freezer. And it’s great to know that it doesn’t pose too much a treat to those precious nutrients. Plus, frozen veggies (and fruits) can be lower cost, especially when the fresh version is out of season. If you’re on a budget, frozen produce is a respectable way to get your plants in!

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The important part of this recipe is that you use frozen cauliflower, either purchased that way, or a head of cauliflower prepared ahead of time – washed, chopped into florets and frozen overnight. Similarly to how a frozen banana behaves in a blender, cauliflower too takes on a creamy-frothy consistency that works extremely well in this context. I also like to freeze the milk into cubes since this helps to keep the drink very cold and light. Dates sweeten the mixture, and you can scale these up or down depending on how hardcore you are. The cacao powder I’ve used is raw, but you can also use regular cocoa powder in a pinch, or if you’re on a budget.

This recipe is a mere 4 ingredients, but if you feel like gettin’ fancy, by all means top that frozen hot chocolate with coconut cream (from a can of coconut milk, chilled in the fridge overnight) and some cacao nibs. You can also add some ingredients to the blend itself, like a handful of soaked cashews for extra richness, a scoop of protein powder (I like sprouted pea, sprouted brown rice or hemp), vanilla, or even fresh greens (spinach is very good at hiding in this too).
The point of all this is to have fun and enjoy something that tastes like it’s pretty indulgent, but secretly good for you.

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Secret Ingredient Frozen Hot Chocolate
Serves 2-3

Ingredients:
2 cups / 250g frozen cauliflower florets
1/3 cup / 100g pitted dates
6 Tbsp. raw cacao powder
approx. 1 ½ cups / 350ml plant-based milk (I used oat milk)
handful of ice cubes (made from either plant-milk ice or water)

Optional ingredients:
Pinch of vanilla powder
coconut cream (from the top of a can of coconut milk)
cacao nibs
handful soaked cashews
protein powder

Directions:
1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth. Add more liquid if necessary (mixture should be relatively thick).

2. Top with coconut cream and cacao nibs, if desired. Enjoy immediately.

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You guys!!! I am so pumped to finally announce my upcoming wellness retreats this fall. We are going to two spectacular European locations: Ibiza, Spain and Comporta, Portugal. Both simple and luxurious, we have found the perfect settings to unwind, and press the reset button. Our Wild Heart High Spirit program combines inspiring cooking classes and nutrition workshops (lead by yours truly) with delicious movement classes, yoga, pilates and dance by Living Yolates that will both strengthen your body and open your heart. These seven days will nurture you on all levels of your being, help you realign with your internal guidance system, and ignite you on your journey towards greater health! Join us for this incredibly special, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, with Golden Circle Retreats.