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Warming the Soul

Some of you know how fond I am of warm drinks. Even during summer months, I sip tea or hot water. Part of it is my Kapha constitution. It dictates, as one in possession of a sluggish metabolism, that hot liquids serve me best, as the heat encourages the revving of the body’s digestive engines, as opposed to cold drinks, which all but bring it to a grinding halt.

But I suspect even those who lean towards the Vata or Pita constitutions enjoy, even seek out, warm drinks this time of year. With their warming properties, a hot drink is just plain comforting. And if you’re selective with the ingredients, they can be nourishing as well.

Case in point: the recipes below. The first is my remade riff on the winter staple hot chocolate, only my version removes potentially irritating elements such as sugar and dairy and replaces it with sweet alternatives such as honey or carb-free substitutes such as Monk Fruit or Stevia if you’re watching your glycemic index. Then there’s my favorite bedtime drink: the turmeric latte. And the newest kid on the block: a gently spiced latte with a hint of vegan creaminess, thanks to the addition of nut butter.

Sure, it doesn’t hurt that the average temperature in my neighborhood these days is 25 degrees, but I realize there’s another reason I love cradling a mug of aromatic latte, it’s a beautiful time out. Even when I’m too busy to sit down, when I prepare a frothy, delicious treat for myself, I’ve offered up to my psyche the non-verbal cue that I’m worth the TLC. I stop. I sip. I even breathe a little more leisurely when partaking in this adored ritual.

The idea of slowing down and getting cozy with a mug is universally appealing, but in Denmark it’s a way of life. Literally. The Danes make time every day for the esteemed, low-tech time-out known as “Hygge.” Family and friends gather, coffee or tea is poured, and conversation ensues. There are no hard and fast rules for Hygge (the Danish word for hug). Candles, food, music, or a gently crackling fire in the fireplace are wonderful additions. And it’s this Danish phenomenon that some researchers cite as the reason Denmark often ranks No. 1 as the happiest nation on earth.

Even though Hygge traditionally involves a gathering, I often do Hygge for one with a book or some soft music playing in the background. Add a warm, nutrition-boosting drink and I’m set. It’s these cozy interludes that are getting me through winter…and winter hasn’t even officially begun yet.

Clean Hot Chocolate

Serves 1

Ingredients:

8 ounces of unsweetened almond milk (or vegan milk of choice)

2 teaspoons – 1 tablespoon raw cacao or baking cocoa (depending on how deep you prefer the strength of your chocolate level.

1-2 teaspoons of honey or maple syrup or low-glycemic sweetener

optional: a dash of cinnamon

optional: to infuse with protein, add a scoop of vanilla or chocolate protein powder

Instructions:

In a small metal saucepan, heat milk over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally with a wire whisk. Heat until hot, but not simmering. Add cacao powder, sweetener, and other ingredients, if desired. Whisk vigorously until all ingredients are dissolved and blended. Serve immediately.

Turmeric Latte

Serves 1

Turmeric is a brightly-colored super-spice, lauded for its anti-inflammation properties. It has a pungent taste, which I like to temper with a bit of honey or maple syrup. The color of this latte always brightens my mood.

Ingredients:

8 ounces of unsweetened almond milk (or vegan milk of choice)

½ teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions:

In a small metal saucepan, heat milk over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally with a wire whisk. Heat until hot, but not simmering. Add spices and honey and whisk until smooth. Serve immediately.

Creamy White Latte

Serves one

One of my favorite blogs on Ayurveda is Claire Ragozzino’s Vidya Living. It’s full of healthy lifestyle tips and recipes based on the seasons and the differing needs of each of the dosha types. Claire’s recipe archive is where I got the idea for this drink, though I have to admit, I’ve been out of Tahini and haven’t tracked down a new jar yet, hence, the use of cashew butter instead. I love the smoothness of this drink, but it will require a blender.

Ingredients:

8 ounces of unsweetened almond milk (or vegan milk of choice)

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon cardamom

1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup

1 tablespoon cashew butter (or Tahini)

A few drops of vanilla or dash of vanilla powder



Instructions:

In a small metal saucepan, heat milk over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally with a wire whisk. Heat until hot, but not simmering. Add spices and honey, cashew butter or Tahini, and vanilla. Whisk until smooth. Transfer to a blender and cover tightly, holding the top down with a thick dishcloth before blending on medium speed for 10 seconds. Serve immediately.



Turkey Tetrazzini

If you're awash in leftover turkey from last week, don't despair! I share with you one of my favorite ways to alchemize Thanksgiving leftovers into something a little more exotic.

Turkey Tetrazzini has long been a family favorite. It's creamy, comforting, and hassle-free.

Don't know what it is? Just think of it as the turkey version of a tuna casserole: leftovers simmering in a creamy roux with a few vegetables and the comforting touch of noodles. There's a little prep-work involved but the employment of frozen vegetables makes this a super-easy dinner to pull off. This, of course, works well with chicken. And if you don't have leftover turkey, just go out and get a hunk of breast meat from the supermarket and dice it. Sometimes it's sold pre-cooked. Even easier! Hope you give this a try:

This one is for Great Lakes Collagen: