February 13, 2012

spiced almond kudzu brew



i've been really into bedtime brews lately. they've become a big part of my getting-in-sync-with-winter plan. which is to do my best to take things slowwwwww. 

nowadays we aren't often encouraged to scale back our pace during the colder months. our lifestyles, particularly in cities, hardly change at all with the seasons. this time last year i was doing my fair share of running around, parka-clad, from the office to sweaty evening vinyasa classes, eating late dinners, and the like. didn't feel all that good though. so in early december, seeing another winter approaching, i thought about how i might do things differently.


taking a cue from cold temps and early dusks, i've been waking up earlier for some gentle yoga and meditation, skipping the intense night yoga sessions (i miss them! but they can wait till spring), chilling out at home on weeknights with an early dinner, some reading, listening to music, and a mug of warm, soothing deliciousness. that mug usually contains some kudzu.

kudzu (aka kuzu) is a chalky white starch sourced from the root of the kudzu plant. a potent thickening agent that's widely used in macrobiotic cooking and traditional chinese medicine, it gives body to sauces, desserts, and drinks like the ume-shoyu-kudzu. 

kudzu root is often recommended for overly expansive conditions, including overindulgence in sugar or alcohol.  the list of its beneficial effects goes on and on: it soothes the digestive system, relieves headache, stiffness in the upper back and neck, fever, colds, and flu, and helps calm overactivity in children and anxiety in adults. with so many calming effects, it's no surprise that kudzu is a wonderful sleep aid, too. 



{despite its appearances, this is not an illicit substance - it's just our friend kudzu}

a very small amount of kudzu powder - about 1/8th teaspoon per cup of liquid - is all that's needed in a bedtime brew. this thickens the drink just enough (to about the texture of thick hot chocolate); with larger amounts (1 teaspoon or more per cup of liquid), the drink will be much thicker, even spoonable. (which is fine, too - just depends on your personal taste. a thicker kudzu concoction, chilled, makes a tasty pudding.)

there are endless variations on the kudzu. lemon, ginger, and honey are a good combination, especially when dealing with cold or flu. creamy, nutty almond milk and detoxifying wintery spices - cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger - combine to make a perfect bedtime version for a chilly night. the spices soothe the belly and mind and get you feeling all toasty right down to the tips of your toes (warm feet = easy to sleep :) sipping your brew about half an hour to 1 hour before bedtime will prepare your body for a restful night's sleep.

so kiss the ambien goodbye and say hello to kudzu.  sip, breathe, repeat, and get in sync with the slowest season.





spiced almond kudzu brew
makes 1 serving

1 cup almond milk*
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
tiny pinch of sea salt
1/8 tsp kudzu powder
2 teaspoons grade b (dark) maple syrup (or to taste)

combine all ingredients in a small sauce pot and whisk until kudzu is dissolved. heat over a low flame, stirring often, until simmering, then continue cooking for about 1 minute more. transfer to a mug and drink warm, as the brew will continue to thicken as it cools.

*easy homemade almond milk: soak 1 cup of raw almonds in filtered water for 8 to 12 hours. drain and rinse the almonds and transfer them to a blender. add 3 cups fresh filtered water and blend on high for about 1 minute. strain through a nut milk bag into a glass container (save the solids for baking). makes about 3-1/2 cups of milk.

6 comments:

  1. Interesting! Ever curious, I Googled kudzu and was astonished at the apocalyptic photos of the vine covering EVERYTHING! Your lovely hot drink is now preoccupying me ... I might have to try it without the kudzu, though it will be thinner.

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  2. hey becky! yes i've heard that too, apparently the kudzu's gone wild in the southern US especially. considered an invasive weed around those parts (they should start harvesting the roots :)

    if you're not adding kudzu, stirring in some coconut butter should thicken up the brew.

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  3. OH, yes, as a longtime resident of Tennessee, I can attest to the invasive, cover-the-earth quality of kudzu, which is regarded with disdain by most. So I'm happy to learn about all its exceptional properties, particularly dealing with "overly expansive conditions." Love that.

    Your brew looks so good, Nancy.

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  4. ah, so you've seen it first-hand! can you buy local kudzu root? i can only find it imported from japan and it's pricey so i have to remember to use it sparingly.

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  5. I don't know---I'll see what I can find out. You'd think!

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  6. I found a packet of kudzu root in my spice cabinet yesterday and have absolutely no idea why I bought it. That said I was rummaging for a thickener for a clam chowder that was just too watery. I did not want to add flour at that point so I tried the kudzu. Best clam chowdah I have ever made!

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