Thursday, January 10, 2013

Bali Hai Chai - ish

Coconut Cream Vanilla Chai Tea
It's 2013! The Mayan's were wrong and I am glad for it. I'm determined that this year is going to be more organized and disciplined. I'm not setting crazy unreachable goals but I have made a few adjustments in my lifestyle that I know (from previous attempts) will help my faltering immune system and maybe even set me up to handle the ever looming (whispering) "change" (pronounced "shawnj") women my age (and their families) dread.

The hardest decision I made was cutting out refined sugars and flours. Oh, believe me. The irony isn't lost on me. It doesn't mean I won't be using them to make treats for others...after all, it is a joy for me to bake and come up with interesting new ideas or attempt others' creative ideas. It's also a great challenge to come up with nutritionist-approved versions of the treats I love.

Of course, as soon as I give up sugar I crave sweets that are not only on the naughty list, they're virtually impossible to find. Like the Bali Hai Chai.

My first Bali Hai Chai at a Borders Bookstore (may it rest in peace) was possibly my first encounter with euphoria. It was eyes-rolling-into-the-back-of-my-head magical. I've never been able to reproduce that glorious sweet, creamy, coconutty, spicy flavor swirl and I cannot find the ingredients list online...though I didn't search very deep. I have a 3-page Google limit if you know what I mean.

So desperate to fulfill that sweet memory I grabbed:

My chai concentrate is neither sweetened nor caffeinated - good list - (I don't add the tea until I'm ready to make a cup, but in this instance didn't add any) and coconut cream, though high in fat it's the good kind of fat your brain craves. Coconut milk would be fine too. But I only had the cream in my cupboard.

I frothed the coconut cream as I would have milk and added it to my 2/3 full cup of vanilla chai concentrate. Garnished with cinnamon stick and star anise and voila! Coconut Cream Chai that almost tastes like a Bali Hai Chai...if you don't need to give up sugar add a dollop of honey and you'll get even closer! For those going without sugar, the coconut cream (or milk) and the cinnamon satisfies the sweet and creamy craving.
For Paleo/Primal Blueprint followers on a scale of 1 to Paleo this probably falls at about a 7. No sugar, no caffeine, use of coconut milk...though I don't know how the experts feel about coconut cream for their weightloss adherents...and I'm not sure if any of the spices in the chai are no-nos...but I can't imagine why they would be.

Feet up. Cozy blanket. Pinterest-ing healthy food. Sipping my Bali Hai Chai -ish.

Happy 2013!

If you're in a similar place - making dietary changes for the better - I highly recommend these resources in order:
In Balance Lifestyle Management - Brenda Wollenberg (also has a book out for kids which is great for anybody, not just kids). Brenda has taught me a great deal about nutrition. All the things I thought I knew about nutrition were tossed out the window. She's an amazing resource. Pick this lady's brain about body will revolutionize your world.

Balanced Bites - Diane Sanfilippo (holistic and Paleo education) Diane seems to have a balanced approach to the slightly controversial Paleo diet. She's more of a "hey, see if it works and make adjustments as you go" than a "my way or the highway" kind of gal. I appreciate that.

The Mood Cure - Julia Ross (fueling your brain to recover from anxiety, blahs, depression etc.) A great resource to learn how to recover from the blahs with high-protein, healthy fat and veggie rich diet and amino acids. I've read this book three times and have had amazing results following her suggestions.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

An Homage to SprinkleBakes

Double Ginger, Honey, Raw Cocoa Spiced Hot Chocolate Sticks
I have a food crush on Heather Baird of SprinkleBakes. She is a true culinary artist. Her culinary creativity and her imaginative sense of beauty are unmatched (in my opinion) in the sugar-coated world. She inspires me to push the boundaries of flavor profiles and challenges my eye for the pretty.

She posted a beautifully crafted Spiced Hot Chocolate on a Stick to the ModCloth blog before Christmas and I vowed to attempt it so my 5 year-old could have a unique gift to give her teachers. But sickness fell on our house like an anvil...Maddie missed her last week of school and we all spent most of the Christmas break trying to recover from respiratory issues.

On the eve before she returned to school and our bodies mostly in clear, we gave Heather's recipe a whirl. It was easy and tasty. Mads was so excited to try it. But I couldn't help but think that part of the reason we haven't been able to get over our colds is related to the amount of sugar we consumed over the holidays.

So I adapted the recipe in a way that would still excite my 5 year-old but would put less stress on her hard working immune system. Her only disappointment was that she wasn't allowed to eat the chocolate right off the stick...she is my carbon copy, afterall.

I eliminated the confectioners sugar and added a little raw organic honey and substituted raw organic cocoa powder in place of regular cocoa powder. Both are high in antioxidants so though this is a treat for my little one and not to be consumed daily, it will work with her instead of against her.

The taste is reminiscent of this recipe for Ginger Honey Shot Chocolate I posted earlier...only this version is portable and giftable! Just let the recipients know to stir it into 6 oz of hot milk or non-dairy alternative.

Note: my husband broke his camera lens so I am without his fancy camera and have to use my iPad...this is in no way an attempt to be trendy! :)

Double Ginger Honey Raw Cocoa Spiced Hot Chocolate on a Stick

Adapted from SprinkleBakes guest entry on ModCloth blog.

You will need:
8 oz 70% dark chocolate (I use Callebaut)
1/2 cup pure organic raw cocoa powder (I use Organic Nectars)
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon (plus a little to sprinkle on top)
1/4 tsp cloves
2-4 tbs raw organic honey (optional)
Ziploc or piping bag
1 oz paper or plastic cups (or silicone mini muffin tray or rounded ice cube tray might work)
wooden popsicle sticks, lollipop sticks, bamboo/wooden spoons, or a pretty vintage silver spoon (whatever you'd like to use to make the "stick")
star anise and/or cinnamon sticks to garnish

In a double broiler (simmering water in a pot, place bowl with chocolate on top of pot, not touching the water) melt the chocolate until nearly melted. Remove and stir until all chocolate is melted.

Sift in the dry ingredients and stir. It will be quite thick. Stir in honey, if you choose to sweeten, until everything is well combined. It might look a little grainy but that's ok.

Scrape into piping bag (or Ziploc) and squeeze into cups (about 1 oz). Place "stick" in the middle...should be thick enough to hold it upright. Sprinkle a little cinnamon and place a star anise or cinnamon stick (or both) to garnish.

Refrigerate for 5-10 minutes until hard. Should pop out of plastic cups, but you may have to cut it out of paper cups.

Pour 6 oz hot steamed milk over and let melt for a few minutes, then stir.