Happy Mardi Gras!

Today is the official day for Mardi Gras.  Boy, do I sure wish we were in New Orleans.  (I just want to experience it once).  We have a good friend who sent us an overnight package in celebration of the day.  I thought it was going to be a bunch of beads (until I noticed the sticker that read “cake inside”), Of course that REALLY grabbed my attention.  Upon opening we found a HUGE cake.  A King Cake.  The King Cake is a brioche-style cake traditionally made throughout the State of  Louisiana during the weeks prior to Mardi Gras. Usually oval in shape, the King  Cake is a bakery delicacy made from a rich Danish dough (which is a sweetened  yeast bread…a cross between a coffee cake and a French pastry) and covered  with a poured sugar topping decorated in the traditional Mardi Gras-colored  sugars of purple (symbolizing Justice), green (symbolizing Faith) and gold  (symbolizing Power). This colorful topping is representative of a jeweled crown  in honor of the Three Wise Men who  visited the Christ Child on Epiphany (a word derived from the Greek meaning “to  show”). Epiphany, also known as Twelfth Night (i.e., January 6) is when  the Carnival Season officially begins.

 The King Cake tradition is believed to have begun with French settlers around  1870, who were themselves continuing a custom which dated back to Twelfth  Century France, when a similar cake was used to celebrate the coming of the Magi  twelve days after Christmas bearing gifts for the Christ Child. This celebration  was also once known as King’s Day. As a symbol of this Holy Day, a tiny plastic  baby (symbolic of the baby Jesus) is placed inside each King Cake but in times  gone past, the hidden items were usually coins, beans, pecans or peas.

  Today, the cakes are baked in many shapes but originally, they were round to  portray the circular route take by the Magi in order to confuse King Herod,  whose army was attempting to follow the Wise Men so that the Christ Child could  be killed. The origin of the modern King Cake can be traced back to the Middle  Ages, when popular devotion during Christmas turned to the Three Wise Men. In  1871, the tradition of choosing the Queen of Mardi Gras was determined by who  drew the prize within the cake. Today, such a find is still deemed to be a sign  of good luck and it customary for the person who discovers the hidden plastic  baby to host the next King Cake Party.

I guess that means I’m hosting a King Cake Party next year. (I found the baby)

Thanks to our good friend, for such a delicious introduction to Mardi Gras.

Vegan, Really?

We’ve been on a good health kick over in this part of the woods and we want to continue.  So, I’ve been searching for new recipes and making all sorts of things up around here.  I found vegan ice cream, and since this is one of my downfalls (real ice cream), I thought hmm, I’ll give it a try.
Also, I believe I have shared my love for Maca.  Maybe it’s this bona fide superfoods’ profound benefits (the mineral-rich maca root has adaptogenic qualities, which may support the regulation of stress and repair, balance hormones, boost sex drive, and enhance strength and energy… all without being a stimulant). Or, maybe it’s the fact that the potent, earthy, butterscotch-esque flavor is so yummy.

Maple-Maca Ice Cream with Chocolate Chips

You do not need an ice cream maker for this recipe, however, if you do not have access to a high-powered blender (like a Vitamix, Blendtec, or even a Magic Bullet), soak the cashews and water together for 30 minutes before blending for smoother results.

Makes about 1 pint (4 servings).

INGREDIENTS

1 cup raw cashews

1 cup water

½ banana

¼ cup maple syrup

2 Tbsp raw Maca Powder (Herbal Spirit, in Santa Barbara)

pinch sea salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate (I use Trader Joes)

DIRECTIONS

Blend all ingredients – except the chopped dark chocolate – in a blender until completely smooth. Transfer to a bowl or Tupperware container and freeze for 30 minutes. Mix in dark chocolate chunks into the cold ice cream, then continue freezing, covered, until frozen through – about 6-8 hours. Let defrost for 5 minutes before serving to soften.