A Summer Celebration

by Maia Bedson

Summer 2016, Living Well Magazine

Returning from two months in the intense heat of India, it was quite a shock to step back into the cold, cold weather with no sign of warmth in the long-distance forecasts. Hopefully early December will see Summer making an appearance in this part of the country, bringing with it the promise of the quintessential hot, outdoor Aussie Christmas.

India was an amazing kaleidoscope of sights, sounds, smells, textures and experiences. After spending time in several mediation communities, going deeper into silence, dipping into the mighty head of the Ganges (India’s most sacred river), and paying respects to the Samadhi (tombs) of several Indian saints, it was a giddy ride to then take three flights and 24 hours to reach Bali where we planned to rest and eat nutritious organic plant food before coming home.

We also organized the Bali trip to explore venues and cultural activities (including shopping) for the first of our Bali retreat programs, scheduled for July and August 2017.  For those of you coming to this retreat, you will be pleased to know that we dined at the most sense-enlivening, energy-lifting cafes and restaurants and subjected our bodies to many hours of herbal floral baths, massages and facials – all in the name of research.

Having a long interest and training in plant foods, especially raw foods, I was truly in my element in Bali – the raw food capital of the southern hemisphere. It may surprise you that Berlin takes the title for the northern hemisphere. Bali has a diverse variety of organic plant foods readily available and some of the best raw and cooked plant wholefoods restaurants anywhere in the world.

This inspired me to create a recipe for our Summer magazine that would be a perfect completion to a celebratory meal – a light, nourishing, fresh, flavour- sensation that will increase your wellbeing rather than diminish it.

Avocados are the ultimate convenience food. They are high in nutrients, healthy fats and fibre. The main fat, oleic acid, has been found to lower the risk of heart disease; they have anti-inflammatory benefits, improve the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients like vitamin A, E, K & carotenoids and contain loads of the B vitamins (except B12, and vitamin C.

Buckwheat interestingly, is not a cereal grain nor is it related to wheat. It is a fruit seed related to the rhubarb family. Rich in flavonoids, buckwheat lowers lipids and helps protect against heart disease too. It also lowers blood glucose and has been shown to protect against hormone-dependent cancers.

Psyllium Seed husks are from the Plantago plant, native to India. They are a wonderful source of soluble fibre so our healthy gut bacteria love them. They have the property of binding moisture (hygroscopic) and becoming mucilaginous, so they are useful in recipes for helping ingredients bind together.

Cardamom is another plant native to India and is the most expensive spice after vanilla and saffron. It has many positive benefits from increasing antioxidant levels, to decreasing blood pressure, improving gastro-intestinal disorders and inhibiting cancer cell growth. Its distinctive scent and flavour is one of the main components of the beverage, chai, and is very evocative of exotic India.

So who needs a heavy pudding to finish a Christmas meal when something delicious and wholesome is possible? Then, rather than needing to sleep off the torpor-inducing traditional meal under the ceiling fan, the small people in your circle of family and friends can enjoy trying to run you out in a game of backyard cricket!

Luscious Lime Tarts

Base ingredients

1 cup almonds – soaked overnight in water

½ cup buckwheat – soaked in water for 2 hours with ¼ tsp. apple cider vinegar

12 Medjool dates – pitted

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. vanilla powder

Juice and zest of an orange

Filling ingredients

2 ripe avocados

50 ml lime juice (approx.
2 limes)

Zest of 2 limes

¼ cup rice malt syrup

3 tsp. psyllium seed husks

6 cardamom pods – ground
in coffee grinder or mortar
& pestle

Method for the base

  • Drain, rinse and drain again the almonds.
  • Process in a food processor with the cinnamon and vanilla to a crumb consistency (not a meal consistency)
  • Add the dates, orange juice and zest and process until the mixture sticks together
  • Transfer to a large bowl
  • Drain the buckwheat well and mix into the other ingredients with a spoon
  • Line 6 x 12 cm small flan tins (the best ones have removable bottoms) or one large 24 cm quiche flan with baking paper
  • Press the mixture into the flan tins and refrigerate

Method for the filling

  • Scoop out the flesh from the avocados into the food processor
  • Add the lime juice, lime zest and rice malt syrup
  • Process to a smooth consistency
  • While the food processor is running, add the psyllium seed husks and ground cardamom to the avocado mixture through the chute
  • Again process to a smooth consistency
  • Remove the flans with the base mixture from the refrigerator and spoon the filling into the flan tins
  • Refrigerate before serving

NB This recipe is best eaten soon after making it, as avocados – once opened – do not keep well