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Healthy Cooking: Spring Sour Power, Val Wilson

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Spring is a natural time of cleansing, making it an ideal time to feed and nurture our liver, gallbladder and nervous system. The main job of these organs is to purify the blood. The flavor associated with spring, and that helps to feed and nurture these organs, is sour. Foods that make your mouth pucker are sour, such as limes, lemons, plums, pomegranates, sauerkraut, and naturally fermented pickles. The signature flavor of sour is featured in the recipe below and complemented by sweet and bitter chocolate.

A couple of ingredients you may not be familiar with in the recipe are agar flakes and kudzu. Agar flakes are small, almost-clear flakes to thicken the dessert once the dessert has cooled. Agar is freeze-dried red algae, making it one of the healthiest foods you can consume. It’s high in calcium, iron, phosphorous, Vitamin, A, B complex, C, D, and K. 

Kudzu root is the root of the kudzu plant that has been dried. You will find it in stores in a bag and it looks like white chunks of chalk. To cook with kudzu, you have to dissolve the white chunks in water before adding them to any recipe. Kudzu thickens liquid and in the recipe below, it helps to create a creamy texture for the filling. Kudzu helps to alkalize your body, lower cholesterol, reduce high blood pressure, and contains bioflavonoids that dilate blood vessels to help alleviate migraine headaches.

Chocolate Lime Squares

Crust
2 cups cookie crumbs
3/4 cup vegan chocolate chips
2 T. rice beverage (or favorite non-dairy beverage) 

Topping
1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips
4 T. rice beverage (or favorite non-dairy beverage)

Filling
1 cup rice beverage (or favorite non-dairy beverage)
1/2 cup lime juice
3/4 cup brown rice syrup 
2 T. maple syrup
5 T. agar flakes
pinch sea salt
4 T. kudzu root (dissolved in 1/4 cup water)

To make crust: Using low heat, slowly melt the chocolate chips and 2 T. rice beverage. Stir as it melts. Mix in the cookie crumbs. Press firmly into the bottom of an oiled 8” square casserole dish. Refrigerate until cold. 

To prepare filling: Put the 1 cup rice beverage, 1/2 cup lime juice, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, agar flakes and sea salt in a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the kudzu mixture. Whisk as it starts to thicken to prevent clumps. Once it has thickened, pour over crust. Refrigerate until cold and firm. 

To make topping: Using low heat, slowly melt the chocolate chips and 4 T. rice beverage. Once it is melted, drizzle over the top of dessert. Put back in refrigerator for topping to set. Cut and serve. 

Chef Valerie Wilson, a.k.a, Macro Val, has been teaching cooking classes since 1997. Visit her website to purchase her new cookbook, Vegan Cooking with Kids, set up a phone consultation, or listen to her radio show, http://www.macrval.com. Facebook, Macro Val Food.

Reprinted with permission from the Spring 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

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