My mother mailed me a care package the other day. She sent a bounty of superfoods: dates, hemp and chia seeds, cashews, pistachios, almonds, apple pumpkin seed balls, dried figs, and dried white mulberries. I was very excited about the mulberries because it is one of the more popular Chinese herbs, Sang Shen. Why? It is delicious, with a taste similar to a fig and texture like that of a raisin. The chewiness of dried mulberries is so satisfying, almost like candy.
Opening the box of goodies lovingly put together by my mother, I was reminded of how she used to calm my nerves when I was younger (I had mild anxiety). After a stressful week with the little one (teething woes, digestion changing thanks to eating new foods, etc), I remembered the way she’d apply perfume to my temples and give me a necklace made of cooling stones to wear. These sensory cues helped remind me to relax.
I decided to infuse my senses with two of my favorite calming Chinese herbs: Rose (Mei Gui Hua) and cardamom (Bai Dou Kou). To me, the union of cardamom and rose is romantic. I associate them with celebratory South Indian desserts. At the end of a wedding dinner, or as a treat at tea time, these two flavors would doubtless be the stars of a decadent dessert. Guests would happily leave with the floral and musky flavors lingering on their tastebuds. Soothing. Pleasant. Comforting.
Before I dive into the recipes, I’ll share some Eastern (and some Western) benefits of these herbs so you know the oodles of wonderfulness you will be getting yourselves into by simply taking a bite.
- High in protein: 4 grams in 1/3 cup!
- Resveratrol: an antioxidant that combats LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
- Nourishes yin and blood: similar to dates, this herb nourishes the blood, but at a lower sugar cost.
Rosebud, or Mei Gui Hua (I used rose water)
- Relieves stress: in Chinese medicine, stress is usually a product of “liver qi stagnation,” and this herb helps heal this issue.
- Harmonizes blood and relieve stagnation: this benefit is why rose extract is known to treat female health issues like premenstrual breast tenderness and cramping.
Cardamom, or Bai Dou Kou (I prefer grinding the pods myself since the flavor is stronger this way)
- Strengthens digestion
- Improves energy and good for the libido!
- 1/2 cup dried white mulberries
- 5 dates
- 3 tablespoons old fashioned oats
- A few droplets of rose water, to taste
- the seeds of four cardamom pods, ground to a fine powder
Place the ingredients in a blender and grind to a mealy powder. The batter will seem dry and crumbly. Mold crumbly batter into cookies-the stickiness from the mulberries and dates will make it very easy to shape into cookies with your hands. I made 12 rose petal-shaped cookies.
Tahini Granola Bars (raw vegan)
When I was doing my yoga teacher training, a classmate shared one the most delicious combinations of ingredients: tahini and honey on toasted rye bread. I decided to integrate the tahini and honey with rose and cardamom to create a chewy granola bar filled with pistachios, hemp, chia and sesame seeds. I used a lot of cardamom because I prefer a stronger flavor, so you may want to start with a smaller amount and add more to suit your tastebuds.*Note-if you do no have a dehydrator, you could make these as either a no-bake bar (stored in the fridge) or you could try baking the bars on a low setting in your oven (I do not know what at what temperature or for how long you would do this).
- 4 cups old fashioned oats
- 1 cup raw pistachios
- 1/2 cup hemp seeds
- 1/4 cup chia seeds
- 6 dates, chopped into small pieces
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil
- 1/2 teaspoon rosewater
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- seeds of 6 cardamom pods, ground
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Microwave the tahini and honey together in a bowl until softened, then stir in vanilla and rosewater. Combine wet ingredients with the oat mixture, then mold into squares on dehydrator mesh sheets. Score the squares into either granola bar shapes or bite sized pieces. Dehydrate for about five hours at 115 degrees. I store mine in the fridge (since the fridge makes them crunchy, wait about five minutes for them to return to their chewy consistency).
If you try out either of these recipe, please comment below! I’m especially intrigued by modifications, so if you come up with any cool additions please comment on that as well!