How to make healthy choices every day

Solstice Sweets and a Holiday Menu

WOW! What a solstice that was, eh? A lunar eclipse, a full moon, a total deep-freeze accompanied by a massive snowfall, and all on the same day we welcome winter?! It’s enough to make this tree hugger burst! Tee hee.
To celebrate the awesomeness my friends and I made a little fire in the forest and rung in the new season acknowledging how abundant our lives are and reflecting on all of our great fortunes. I think at this time of year, it is especially easy to get wrapped up in the frantic commercialism and rampant over-indulgence in every sense of the word. It felt really nice just to sit in nature and be quiet with people I care about. Simple.
And because no celebration is complete without something delicious to eat, Sarah B. brought along these solstice sweets to mark the occasion and satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth.

This recipe is also from my friend Eva (whose amazing cookbook will be available shortly!) and uses a very groovy ingredient, arrowroot, making its debut appearance here on My New Roots.

Woot woot, Arrowroot!
We are all very familiar with cornstarch in North America because corn is just oh-so-abundant. But arrowroot used in place of said thickener has several advantages over cornstarch. For one, the taste of arrowroot is more neutral, making it an ideal thickener for more subtle flavoured sauces, baby food, ice creams, and desserts. It also works at a lower temperature, and tolerates acidic ingredients and prolonged cooking better. And while sauces thickened with cornstarch turn into a spongy mess if they’re frozen, those made with arrowroot can be frozen and thawed with impunity.
You can find arrowroot at most natural food grocers, health food stores, and even some Asian markets. It is more expensive than cornstarch, but far less processed and even has some health benefits.

I dug out my copy of Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon (p.s. best book ever) to learn more about this remarkable root. According to Falon, arrowroot flour is the only starch with a calcium ash, and is a totally nutritious food, obtained from the fleshy rootstock of a tropical American plant. It is an easily digested food well fitted for infants and the convalescent.
Arrowroot was once widely used in baby formulas as a superior carbohydrate, experience having shown it agreed with babies better than any other starch or sugar. We now find the reason. It is the only starch product with a calcium ash. In this regard, the calcium chloride, in the form of calcium found in arrowroot starch, is very important for the maintenance of proper acid and alkali balances in the human body.
Arrowroot only thrives on tidal flats where the sea minerals are available. Its known health-building properties may be due to trace minerals from the sea, as well as from the calcium it gets from the seawater. If it is used in ice cream formulas in place of cornstarch, arrowroot imparts a vanilla-like flavor, a smooth texture. Arrowroot as it comes to you is not a refined product; it is simply the dried and powdered root.

To use arrowroot, mix it with an equal amount of cold water, then whisk the slurry into 1 cup hot liquid for about 30 seconds. (One tablespoon thickens one cup of liquid.)

These little sweets are almost too easy to make. You can mold them into whatever shapes you like, so they are great to prepare with kids. Feel free to roll them in melted dark chocolate (um, I did) and I think next time I am going to put a whole almond or hazelnut in the center before baking them, or perhaps a couple dried cranberries. Get creative – these treats come together so fast you’ll want something else to do!

Solstice Sweets
2 Tbsp. tapioca or arrowroot flour
1/2 cup rice milk
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup rice syrup (or agave nectar, maple syrup, or date syrup)
3 cups shredded coconut
2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 300oF.
2. Grease a cookie sheet with ghee or coconut oil.
3. Combine the tapioca flour and the milk in a small saucepan and mix thoroughly. Add the oil and rice syrup.
4. Heat up these liquid ingredients, stirring constantly, until well combined and thickened into a sauce. Add the vanilla extract.
5. Place the shredded coconut in a large bowl and add the sauce. Mix well.
6. Spoon out the mixture by dollops onto the cookie sheet and form these into
shapes with your fingers.
7. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the tips are slightly brown.

* * * * *

Holiday Menu
Okay, as promised, my top picks for your (healthy) holiday meals, or for, ahem, recovering from everything else you ate. Cheers.

For the roster I went back through my past articles and took a careful look at seasonality and flavour profiles to come up with this collection of extraordinary recipes that will make you and your whole family very happy and very full indeed. There are two different sample meals, but change it up to suit your tastes. I arranged the menus this way so that there would be a small nibble to start, followed by a delicious diversity of cooked dishes and appropriate raw foods, all while considering the balance of proteins, starches, and healthy fats. Whew! Bet your turkey dinner can’t lay claim to that.

Meal I
– Kickin’ Chickpeas
– Four Corners Lentil Soup
– Forest Walk Cabbage
– Spaghetti Squash
– Masala Chai Tea
– Dream Date Cake

Meal II
– Flax Crackers with Sweet Potato Hummus
Best Lentil Salad, Ever
Warming Winter Wheat Berry Salad
Millet Mash with Good Gravy
Smooth Criminal Chocolate Mousse Tarts

Breakfast Ideas
Holiday Granola with Homemade Yogurt
Coziest Banana Bread
Fig Jam with Baby Step Buns
Morning Glories

Other Favorites
Wild Rice and Butter Bean Salad
Roasted Fennel with Orange and Mint
Roasted Roots

I wish you all the most beautiful holiday, whatever you are celebrating this season, and I will return in the New Year with all kinds of food for thought and food to eat.
Love to you all.
In health,
Sarah B.

Copyright 2012 My New Roots at

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