If you know anything about Ayurveda (or chinese medicine) you know that cooking your food is of the essence digestively. But the repertoire of American cooking lacks cooked (or at least hot) beverages that are satiating liquid meals. Luckily other cultures have caught on to the convenience and benefits of these ‘fast food’ meals.

Below I have included raw, cooked, warm and not-too-cold recipes, and recipes with and without milk products. If you have any digestive disorders avoid the raw recipe (walnut shake) or toast the nuts before you use them. The ‘lightest’ of these smoothie-stand-in’s is Yusha.  Yusha is not a smoothie at all but a light savory soup. It is easy to make over-night in a crock pot then take with you in a thermos for whenever you get hungry. It is light, delicious, nutritious and perfect for replacing a meal on the run!

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Walnut Shake

  • ½C walnuts soaked overnight

  • 3 large Dates

  • 1T honey

  • 1 pinch each: cinnamon, ginger, cardamom powder
    few drops of Vanilla

  • 1 ½C water

Pulse all ingredients in a blender for 2-3 minutes.

There are many variations of this easy drink to try. A splash of rose water is delightful, different types of nuts or seeds can be used as long as they are soaked (avoid cashews and peanuts as they are very heating and heavy). A pinch of salt will bring out the flavors. I might be interesting to try a savory version too.

 

Takra or Seasoned Buttermilk

Takra is typically served after lunch to counter the symptoms of IBS and related digestive disorders by increasing assimilation of nutrients and reducing post-meal discomfort. But a mid morning sweet takra (savory is also good) is much like a lassi: nourishing, digestion improving and light to digest.

  • 1C Whole Milk Yogurt

  • 3C Water

  • splash of rose water

  • 1 t raw honey

  • Season with a pinch or 2: Ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace etc

Whisk Water & Yogurt vigorously until a bubbly foam appears--3 minutes is ideal. This whisking is essential to transforming the yogurt (that is heavy, heating and phlemy) into the light digestive qualities of Takra. Don’t skip it!  Add salt and spices to your liking.

 

Sahlab

Sahlab is a delightful hot breakfast (and dessert) of the middle east. When visiting Palestine I was often in a cue of children outside the elementary school waiting while a street vender ladled steaming styrofoam cups of  sahlab out of a giant mobile cauldron, sprinkling each cup with chopped nuts and spices. Originally the taste and thickening agent came from regional orchid root bulbs. Now we use cornstarch, but rice flour would also be a good choice.

This is a drinkable version, but can be made thicker so it can be enjoyed with a spoon.

(4 serves)

  • 4 cups milk

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch (or fine rice flour)

  • 3 tablespoons sugar

  • 2 teaspoons rose water (or vanilla)

Toppings:

  • ground cinnamon

  • unsweetened dried shredded coconut

  • 2 tablespoons pistachio nuts or almonds; chopped fine

Mix the cornstarch with 1/2 cup of the milk.

Bring the remaining milk and sugar to a boil, then lower to a simmer.

Add the cornstarch mixture and the rose water, stir to loosen up any starch that settled on the bottom.

Cook on low heat until it comes to a boil, stirring constantly.

Serve in individual cups. Scatter chopped pistachios over the surface of each cup; sprinkle with cinnamon and coconut.

 

 

Muhallabieh

This pudding is a favorite of Lebanese, Syrian, Jordanian, Palestinian, and Egyptian children. I have reduced the sugar to make a liquid breakfast cereal suitable for a thermos. Rice may be purchased already ground or crushed at home with a mortar and pestle or electric blender.

  • 4c whole milk

  • 1/4c rice: ground (or rice cereal)

  • 3/4c water

  • 1/4c sugar

  • 1 teaspoon ma'ez zahr (orange blossom essence)

  • 1/4c chopped toasted almonds, pine nuts or pistachios

Mix rice with water and add to milk which has been brought to a boil.

Stir and cook until thickened and then add sugar.

Continue cooking and stirring until mixture coats the spoon.

Add flavorings and boil a few minutes longer.

Pour into individual serving dishes and decorate with chopped nuts.

 

Suff; Ethiopian Sunflower Seed drink

This drink is nourishing, filling, and refreshing. Traditionally consumed during Lent or fasting days Suff makes a great between-meal snack or meal replacer.  Several beverages based on seeds (sunflower, flax and sesame)  are made in Ethiopia. You can use this recipe with any of these seeds.

Some recipes call for fresh ginger to be added but I like it with  a pinch of cinnamon and just a bit of honey.

  • 1\2 cup sunflower seeds

  • honey (as required) or sugar (as desired)

  • 3 cups water

Rinse and drain seeds (this is not necessary if you are using sesame or flax seeds).

Roast the seeds in a dry pan till they smell toasty.

Grind seeds until smooth in a blender or food processor with a little water.

Add the rest of the water, blend until very smooth.

Add honey and spices.

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