Anyone else feeling the cold-weather slump? Silly question, really. I think it’s inevitable living in the ever changing climate of Southern Ontario. Unless you live in a part of the world where each season is marked by date alone, there is a unique collection of weather events, shifting temperatures and a transformation of the flora and fauna that marks the passing of time. Along with this there is a shifting of mood and feelings, an ebb and flow of emotions and thoughts. The summer months echo a lightness and carefree attitude, whereas as the daylight grows scarce and the thermometer gauge plummets, there is an inherent introspectiveness and sharpening of emotions as winter settles in for the long haul.
And by this point in the year it definitely feels like the long haul. With the holiday season now a distant memory, the bright twinkle light displays being turned off one by one, we hunker down to endure the rest of winter. I know that sounds like I hate winter. I don’t really, I appreciate living in a part of the world that has seasons with each possessing its own beauty and charm. But winter just seems to last sooooo long! At some point I’m just over it, and judging by conversations with others, that moment where we just want to shake off the chill and ease into the promise of warmth and brightness that spring heralds starts to germinate in January, grows in February and explodes in March. We are all just weary by March. And then somehow spring arrives, at first with a whisper and then unfurling with ever growing momentum. And before we know it we are basking in the breeze of the first warm-weather day in our short sleeves, soaking up the sweetness of a sun-drenched day, breathing in deeply as the first blooms release their heady aromas and the melody of chirping birds matches the soaring elation we feel deep in our souls. Ahhhh, we shall be there soon my friends. For now we make do with the mesmerizing sun glinting off snow blanketed fields and ice covered tree branches, cozy sweaters and thick cable-knit socks, hearty meals and soothing tonics.
Enter this brightly-hued, restorative drink. It is a creation borne of my seemingly unending obsession with turmeric – a vibrant, orange-yellow spice known as much for its earthy flavour as for its health benefits, and my love of sesame. Turmeric contains a well-studied, powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant compound called curcumin – the claims of its health benefits backed up by good science. Now I don’t want anyone thinking that we are all in a constant state of inflammation – that’s just not the case. But if you suffer from arthritis, joint aches, allergies, general pain, well then curcumin can only help! And it has well established anti-cancer properties too, beneficial for both prevention and treatment (though always consult with your doctor about that.) Curcumin is activated by piperin, a compound in black pepper, otherwise curcumin is not well absorbed by our bodies, hence the addition of a grind of black pepper in this drink (you only need a tiny bit and it doesn’t affect the taste). And now you know! Science is amazing. If you’re not sure if you like turmeric in your drinks, start off with a small amount then build from there. Turmeric is also a great addition to curries, soups, roasted veggies and ginger tea; I often cook my grains with a few dashes too, waking up pale rice, quinoa and millet with a golden glow. Warming cinnamon and protein and omega 3 rich hemp hearts round out this soothing drink to nourish from within. You can drink it cold or slightly warmed.
Sesame Golden Milk
Makes 1-2 servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
2 cups (500ml) unsweetened almond milk (or other non-dairy beverage)
2 medjool dates*
2 Tablespoons (30ml) hemp hearts
2 Tablespoons (30ml) raw sesame seeds**
1/2-1 1/2 teaspoons (2.5-7.5ml) ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon (2.5ml) ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon (5ml) virgin coconut oil
a small pinch freshly ground black pepper
1. Place all ingredients in a high-powered blender and blend until completely smooth. Store in an airtight container or jar for up to 2 days.
*soften in boiling water for a few minutes if firm
**soak overnight if you’re blender is not powerful enough to break them down completely