Guest Writer for Wake Up World
The weather is changing here in Australia and cooler temperatures mean warming foods in our household. This morning I kept my bed socks on as I ambled toward the kitchen with my youngest child happily talking a mile a minute… as if it wasn’t 6:00am.
She was hungry and wanted satisfaction immediately so I handed her an organic banana and set her on the counter as I prepared to make some “milk”. We love the flavour of nut and seed milks and today’s was being made with cashews and raw brown rice. Other combinations might be almond and millet or macadamia and oat, depending on what I had on hand. Nut milks can be made without cooking but on cold mornings I like to warm things up a bit. And as my kids like things just a tad spicy, I decided to make one of my favourites, Mexican Hot Chocolate.
Now, traditionally you wouldn’t start off with a nut or seed milk, it would have come straight from the cow. But I am anything but conventional so here is what I did;
Cashew and Rice Milk
2 Tbs organic brown rice, soaked overnight (or whole millet)
½ cup organic cashew pieces
1 big pinch of Himalayan or Celtic sea salt
1-2 Tbs organic coconut or olive oil
organic sweetener to taste, agave, coconut sugar or other, start with 2 Tbs
½ tsp organic vanilla
1 litre of water
Process in a blender the cashews, rice and ½ of the water until smooth and creamy. Pour into a large pot and add all ingredients except for the remainder of the water. Simmer for 10 minutes, whisking frequently. Adjust sweetener and salt to your palate. Process again in blender. If your blender is strong there should be no reason to strain the liquid. If however, yours isn’t, it could be a bit “chewy” so you may strain through a fine sieve. Add the other 1/2 of water and stir well.
Well, as if that wasn’t nice enough (this is lovely as is, in a smoothie or on cereal) I decided to take it further. I lived for years near the mexican border in a small beach town in Southern California. There were many trips made south of the border to visit the lovely little fishing villages I had grown so fond of. When there, I would often times wake the next morning to a steaming cup of spicy hot chocolate which was provided by my host or hostess.
Anyway, this is my rendition of a classic beverage;
Mexican Hot Chocolate
Mexican chocolate, which is available in solid blocks or bars, is laced with sugar and cinnamon. Panocha, otherwise known as panela or piloncillo, is pure cane sugar, in a solid form. Panocha is sometimes referred to as Mexican brown sugar, and can be found in bags of small, hard blocks. I use coconut sugar as a replacement though to keep it original you could mail order the Panocha. I use pure organic dark cocoa powder as a mexican chocolate replacement. Not the same by any means but still delicious!
2 1/2 cups milk *try the cashew/rice milk recipe or your favourite organic milk of choice
1/2 teaspoon organic cinnamon
1 teaspoon organic vanilla
1 tablet Mexican sweet chocolate – or 3 ozs of organic dark cocoa powder
1-2 teaspoons of organic coconut (or rapadura) sugar
a big pinch of organic cayenne (to your heat tolerance)
Add the milk to a small sauce pan which is placed over medium low heat.
Whisk in the cinnamon, sugar, cayenne and vanilla.
Use a mortar and pestle to pound the chocolate into a powder, which will look a bit like cocoa powder. (or use dark cocoa powder) Whisk all of the chocolate into the milk mixture.
Continue whisking the hot chocolate mixture until all the chocolate has melted, and the milk is warmed to the appropriate temperature.
Pour the hot chocolate into two coffee mugs, or other heat proof glasses and serve. Nothing better on a cold winter morning.
Cayenne is a favourite spice of mine for more reasons than the flavour. I’ve known of the health benefits of it for quite some time and use it in my cooking and food preparation liberally.
Cayenne is great for the stomach and the intestinal tract. It stimulates the peristaltic motion of the intestines and aids in assimilation and elimination. In my early thirties (before the birth of my five daughters) I had huge issues with my digestive tract. Improper food and food combinations and a younger life full of illness and pharmaceutical drugs left my stomach and colon in terrible condition. I read some interesting information about the healing properties of cayenne that a friend recommended to me and I decided to try it.
Wow, within a very short time my digestion and health improved. It wasn’t the only change I was making at the time but it was certainly one that was beneficial and assisted with other modalities I used to help heal me.
Capsicum also gives desirable action on the entire cardiovascular system. It has the extraordinary ability to enhance cardiovascular performance while actually lowering blood pressure. In fact it has an energizing effect on the entire system. Traditionally, capsicum has been used to combat fatigue and restore stamina and energy. Capsicum is warming and dilating and works well for varicose veins.
As a natural stimulant it does not have the side effects (palpitations, hyper-activity or rise in blood pressure) of most other stimulating agents.
When you put cayenne in your mouth, your stomach secretes digestive juices before the cayenne ever gets there. So when the cayenne goes down, your stomach is ready for it. This is why it was recommended to me to mix the powder in a drink and sip it instead of swallowing a capsule.
Cayenne starts its healing action in your mouth and can be absorbed in seconds, your nerve endings will immediately send signals throughout your body on how best to utilise it. Now saying this, I personally like the rush of heat I get when that capsule bursts so I will drink my morning tea (a mix of rooibos and green tea lately) or hot chocolate mixed with 1/4 tsp each of cinnamon and cayenne prior to taking a capsule.
Word of warning about cocoa powder though. Make sure it is organic as sulfuryl fluoride is used as a fumigant in conventional crops.
In the beginning of this year there was much talk about the gradual EPA removal of sulfuryl fluoride and how it will significantly affect industries such as the cocoa and walnut sectors.
This will be a monumental effort as it is estimated that the pesticide used is applied to 100 PERCENT of U.S. cocoa crops. EPA warned that “cocoa imports (A $1.2 billion industry as of 2009) would be lost due to either destruction or refusal of shipments by warehouse operators” unless businesses can develop a viable alternative to sulfuryl fluoride for cocoa fumigation. I’m not sure of what the replacement pesticide will be but I am not taking any chances and will only purchase organic products.
The Australian government has not followed the U.S. because it has been decided that our levels do not exceed health safety standards, yet.
About the Author
Jeani-Rose Atchison is a health advocate, and home-schooling mother of five who also finds time to write about nutrition, whole foods and environmental concerns. She authored, Every Day Vegan – 300 recipes for healthful eating which is a mainstay in vegetarian kitchens. Atchison’s latest book, Food for Thought – Thought for Food is chock full of delicious whole food recipes. It also takes a controversial look at the food we eat today and the processes involved in bringing it to your table. Can your food make you ill? The answer may shock you!
To find out more go to Jeani-Rose’s Facebook or Website