Power Balls!

Let's call these power balls because they are loaded with energy.  Their handy carrying and eating size make them great for on the go:  hiking, snacking or lunch at work - and as an appetizer or party food.

1. Mix 1 c. ea. of Dates (about 8-9 dates) - make sure to pit them!
                           Your choice of nuts (a single type or mixed, roasted or raw)
                           Your choice of dried fruit (again a single type or mixed)

2. Blend together in food processor until desired consistency is reached.  This will vary depending on your choice of ingredients.  Also, you can choose to leave it chunky or make it more smooth.  The dates are what help to hold it all together.  Just make sure it is a consistency that will hold together when rolled into a ball.  I have never needed to, but if you feel you need to, feel free to add nut butters or coconut oil to them to moisten them - though not too much else they won't hold together.

3. Roll into balls about 1" - 1 1/2" in diameter.  Makes about 15-25 balls depending on size.

4. Dip in your choice of coating: ground nuts, Cocoa, Cinnamon, Coconut, Cacao nibs, etc.  Just use something in small pieces or powdered.   Optional:  to this you can add powdered herbs such as Ashwaganda, Eleuthro, Cardamom, ...  Use about 2 tspn. of herbs per batch in about 2-3 Tbspn. of coating.  You will need less coating if it is all powder, more if it is a bit chunkier like Coconut.
***If you do add herbs you want to limit your daily consumption to half a batch.***

Rule #1 in Kitchen Alchemy:  Experiment!

Today I am making two types:  Cashew Cranberry Date rolled in Coconut and powdered Gardenia fruit
                                                Walnut Raisin Date rolled in Cocoa and powdered Astragalus root

I chose Gardenia because it is cooling and we will be taking these hiking on an 80 something degree day.
I chose Astragalus to boost our immune systems.  (You don't want to take Astragalus if you have an acute    infection as it can boost the pathogen).  There's more to these herbs than this; if you want to know more, click on the links.

Any leftover powder can be saved and used in oatmeal, or pancakes, or...

Rule #2 in Kitchen Alchemy:  Never waste food.  Always find a use for leftovers.

5. Keep refrigerated (or frozen for longer storage), but it's best for digestion to eat these at room temperature.  If you freeze them they will carry well on a hot day (in a back pack for instance).

As you can see some of those rolled in Coconut on the right are lighter than others; this is because I noticed part of the way through that I was going to run out of coating, so I added more Coconut to the Gardenia powder, making for a lighter coating.  Play with this recipe; there are not hard and fast rules here.  

Rule #3 in Kitchen Alchemy:  Be ready to improvise at all times.  Cooking and Baking are improvisational acts.

I saved the empty bags and containers the nuts and dried fruit came in to store the balls in - along with the wax paper used to lay them out and cool them.

Now!  Time to enjoy.  Share with us your favorite combinations... 

Rule #4 in Kitchen Alchemy:  Enjoy the fruits of your labor.  Sit quietly without distractions and BE with your food.


Holy Kale

While picking some Kale from the garden for dinner last night, thoughts came once again about the holes in the leaves and what they mean.  For one, it means we garden organically here at our house.  While there are organic means to control bugs, for this we didn't use any; we just let it be.  And here's the thing: Does having these holes in the leaves mean the leaves are more nutritious for you?  Many of the beneficial compounds in plants (phytochemicals) are there for the plant's defense.

Since a plant cannot get up and walk, or run, away, or talk, or scream, they have evolved other defenses: chemical defenses.  Many of these chemicals are beneficial to us, having antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and other actions in the human body.  For instance, when a deer begins eating one plant out of a whole patch, that plant changes and begins to emit a chemical messenger, either through the air or via their interlinked root systems, alerting the other plants in that patch.  This leads to the entire patch of plants changing their chemical makeup to, for instance, become more bitter so that the deer will stop eating them.  This allows the deer to get some food without destroying the entire patch.  I am thinking this bitterness is often a beneficial phytochemical for us.  The same type of thing would happen with bugs/pests eating the leaves.

Though one thing to point out is that an unhealthy plant will often signal to and draw in pests.  Keeping our plants healthy goes a long way to preventing pests.  Growing a plant non-organically actually increases the likelihood of pests since non-organic growing methods only seek to supply the plants with 3 main nutrientsPotassium, Nitrogen, and Phosphorus (the ones that affect how a plant looks, the size it gets, and other things good for selling), and hence the plant is not as healthy.  Organic gardening supplies a plant with much more, which is one reason why organic tastes so much better.  These principals would apply to herbs too.

"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." - Hippocrates

So!  I am thinking that Holy Kale is even better for you than perfect looking Kale.  This applies not just in the garden; but also when I am wild-harvesting food, I don't just go for the perfect looking parts, I also pick the bug-eaten parts thinking I am getting extra beneficial compounds.

Now if only this could translate to what is acceptable in the grocery stores so we didn't live under the falsehood that a perfect piece of fruit or vegetable is in fact perfect when it may very well be lacking.  Perfect is artificial.  If you go out into nature you will see that all living things have "blemishes."  It is these imperfections that do indeed make them perfect.  Same goes for people and photoshopping - but that's a whole 'nother blog...

Guess that means the freshest food is not even picked yet!

Many of these beneficial compounds are destroyed through processing or poor storage, so fresh is best.  Cooking is good as it breaks down or begins digesting many of these compounds making them more bioavailable.

How to perceive the natural world more directly. Click here. 

Yes, that is duct tape on my glasses.  I see no reason to put something in the landfill when it can be fixed.                               Duct tape is our friend.  :)

~ ~ ~

"If people let the government decide what foods they eat and
 what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as
 sorry a state as the souls who live under tyranny."
 - Thomas Jefferson

"He who does not know food, how can he understand the diseases of man?"
 - Hippocrates

"The Lord hath created medicines out of the earth;
 and he that is wise will not abhor them."
 - Ecclesiasticus 38:4