Well it is that time of year again… I think I see a trend forming. Somehow come November this regular blogging thing goes on hiatus. In between closing the year-end with the 9-5, attending some fabulous events like the launch of the Mixeur Montreal Guides and the Alsace au menu dinner at Le hangar, planning Dishcrawl events, shopping, holiday parties, endless eating, some drinking…let’s face it and we all know this – it’s a busy time of year!
Amidst the rush, daylight savings time and the erratic weather, the common cold is just around the corner. If it is not a cold then I find myself wanting to curl up with some classic comforts that make me feel cosy inside even when it is crummy outside (snow anytime please, I’d like to ski over the holidays!), with some thick wool socks and warm drinks.
When I was little, my mom would make a grog for me when I had a cold and a sore throat. Her version of the drink was made with hot water with lemon and honey, the right ingredients to make me feel better (very PG). Since those days, I have moved out, taken on adult responsibilities and this drink has become all grown-up – but I still turn to this basic combination of ingredients when I need to curl up with something hot and comforting.
So here is my kicked’up version of a grog. Makes a great warm cocktail for the holidays, a snowy day or après-ski – and still comforts you when you have the sniffles!
- 1 oz whisky or rhum
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 tbso fresh grated ginger
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 tbsp honey, or to taste
- Pinch of your choice of spices such as nutmeg, clove, anis, cardamom…
Combine all ingredients in a mug, stir and enjoy! Makes one drink.
For many of us, milk is reminiscent of our childhood. A glass of milk is what was served with meals and warmed up when the sandman is nowhere to be found. Then we grow up, move on to coffee and lattés instead, but it still remains a household staple. Over recent years, I have tried other kinds of non-dairy milk but overall found that their taste lacked some kind of richness comparable to that of the cow’s milk I grew up on.
I recently starting making my own nut milks and I will never go back to the processed kind. Homemade nut milks taste just the way you want them because you can tweak as you please. The best part is that you have a non-dairy milk beverage, that is also free of preservatives and other unpronounceable ingredients.
Here are the nut milk making basics:
- 1 cup raw nuts
- 3 cups water
- 1 pinch salt
- ½ tbsp. spices of choice
- 1-2 dates soaked and/or 1 tbsp of sweetener of choice
The first step is to soak your nuts for about 8 hours. Put them in a contained filled with enough filtered water to allow the nuts to expand (some may double in size!!). You can do this before going to bed or before heading out for your workday, and by the time you wake up or come home, you are ready to start milking! This is an easy way to fit it into a routine if you want to have fresh nut milk readily available.
Why soak nuts you ask? I wondered the same thing for a long time, but the difference in taste between an unsoaked nut and one that is plumped up is quite surprising. With brown nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts…) you do not get that bitterness you usually taste. Aside from taste, soaking nuts helps remove the enzyme inhibitors and bring the nuts back to life. What this essentially means is that the nuts become more easily digestible and the nutrients more readily available to your body. (Reference: Uncooking101, a great raw food ressource!)
So now that your nuts have been soaking for about 8 hours, rinse them thoroughly and place in a blender with 3 cups of water, pinch of salt, spices of choice, soaked dates and/or sweetener if desired. Blend until smooth and strain with a sieve, cheese cloth, or a nut milk bag (can be found in health food stores, are reusable and are fairly inexpensive). Some nuts milks don’t need to be strained, such as cashews and macadamia.
Now here is how you can play around with this basic recipe: For a creamier texture, use less water. Try different spices such as vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg or even cacao powder to make some chocolate milk. For a little sweetness, try different types and amounts of sweeteners to find the right balance that works with your palate – honey, maple syrup, agave, etc.
Making your own nut milks at home is so simple and taste better than anything that comes in a carton that it is definitely worth incorporating into your routine. The leftover nut meal can be reused for a variety of recipes: You can mix it with chopped dried nuts and make some raw energy rolls. You can also use it to make a raw pie crust… but more on that later.
I am a very physically active person, always have been and likely always will be. I often say that I run in order to eat anything and everything I want. That is only partially true… I need to run, my hyperactive personality drives me to train and set physical goals for myself. As a side-effect, I can eat anything and everything – but realistically, I don’t. I try to be very conscious of what I am putting into my body.
A lot of my time this summer will be dedicated to training. I am training to run the Half-Marathon in Mont-Tremblant on August 14th, the Canadian Sprint Triathlon (750m swim, 30k bike, 5k run) in Ottawa on September 3rd, and the Montreal Half-Marathon on September 25th.
With this new quest on cutting out processed foods and achieving a 60% raw and vegan diet, it is not always easy to find the right kind of fuel before or after your run. Before I used to rely on bagels and cream cheese before my long runs, and Gatorade during. Honestly not the best choices for me; I did not always feel the greatest during my training sessions and the taste of Gatorate often nauseated me. Now, when you are going au naturel, finding the right sources of energy, sodium, potassium and electrolytes is not easy. I am still trying to figure it out…
While I’m figuring it out, I have managed to do some things right and sneak a few tricks up my sleeve. Two of my favorite things to fuel up and recuperate pre and post training include: coconut water (I have a glass prior, bring it with me during long runs and have a glass after), and this Avocado Chocolate Milkshake that really sets the stage for a swift recovery (and an über tasty treat).
Add drinking lots of water and that’s what I’ve come up with so far. I am hoping to share more about my training foods, fuels and experiments over the next few months. If you have any suggestions for me, I’m all ears!
Avocado Chocolate “Milkshake”
- 1 ripe avocado
- 2 dates, pitted
- 1 tbsp raw cacao powder
- 1 tbsp honey (or agave, or maple, etc…)
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups of milk of your choice
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 pinch of salt
- A couple of ice cubes
Scoop of the avocado and discard the pit. Use a milk of your choice: I suggest using a nut milk for a raw and vegan version, but you can also just as easily use regular low-fat milk. Begin by using only a cup of milk and add more while you blend to adjust for desired thickness of the “milkshake” until it reaches that perfect consistency. The salt helps round out and bring out all the flavours, and will help restore sodium and electrolytes for this great post-training treat.
Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth and creamy.
Because I got dozens of lemons in my CSA basket this week.
Because it was my birthday and I worked all weekend.
Because when life gives you lemons, you should make Whiskey Sours!
One Whiskey Sour – Not for the faint of heart
- 2 lemons, flesh segmented (as pictured above)
- 2 oz whiskey
- 1 tbsp of honey or agave syrup (skip the refined sugar, it’s just not that good for you)
- 4-6 ice cubes
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blitz until slushy and frothy. Serve in an old-fashioned glass.
Feel free to replace the Whiskey with rum, vodka, bourbon, amaretto. It’s a classic fresh flavour that works well with many liquors. Plus think of all the vitamins you are getting from the fresh lemons