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Lemon-Ginger Detox Infusion

Lemon Ginger Detox Infusion
And…we’re back!  There’s a very good reason that Urban Chickpea has been on hiatus.  During May and June, I had the opportunity to spend time in the kitchen of Ananda in the Himalayas, a breathtaking destination spa in Northern India.  The spa specializes in Ayurvedic treatments, Ayurveda being the traditional healing practice in India.  Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of diet when it comes to health, so while Ananda provides luxurious spa treatments, massage, detoxes, yoga, meditation and Vedanta study, to me, the true heart of activity was in the kitchen.  In the coming weeks, I’m excited to share stories and recipes on Urban Chickpea inspired by my stay there!

Amphitheatre at Ananda

I arrived at the spa nestled in the Himalaya mountains via a stop in India’s capital city.  Speeding up the winding mountain road, I began to regret downing that espresso at the Delhi airport.  Although I’d given up coffee a year ago, all the rich mithai and chaat (that’s “sweets” and “snacks” to all you gringos) in Delhi had turned me into a tired little slug.   The espresso did give me the kick in the pants that I so desperately needed, but it also gave me a good deal of nausea and dizziness, which is what happens when you flood a tiny body with an elephantine dose of caffeine.

Upon arriving at the doorstep of Ananda, I was greeted with showstopping Indian hospitality and the house signature drink: a chilled concoction of lemon, ginger and sugar, which did its best to comfort my overstimulated stomach.  After a cup of this drink and a well-deserved nap, I was ready for weeks of learning and relaxing in what has to be one of the most beautiful, peaceful places in world.

Grounds at Ananda

Inspired by that soothing beverage, I created my own hot, unsweetened version to have at home.  Lemon is a known detoxifier: it supports liver function and helps the digestive and circulatory systems eliminate waste.  Fresh ginger is a classic folk-remedy for nausea, and it also boosts circulation, which promotes the elimination of toxins through the skin, digestive tract and kidneys.  Together, these two create a mild infusion that wakes up your body and promotes gentle, natural detoxification.  Since you use the peels in this recipe, it’s a good opportunity to seek out organic lemon and ginger. Regardless, make sure to give the outsides a good scrub.

Try drinking this infusion first thing in the morning about 30 minutes before breakfast. Your body will thank you, particularly if you just exposed it to a hearty night of drinking or a ride up a winding mountain road.

Lemon-Ginger Detox Infusion
Serves 1

1 lemon
1-inch piece of ginger (unpeeled)
1 1/2 cups of water

1. Using a vegetable peeler, peel two strips of zest off of the lemon and place the strips in a small pot.  The peeler will remove the flavorful, yellow zest and leave most of the bitter, white pith behind.

2. Take the ginger and cut it into 4-5 slices.  Put these in the pot with the lemon peel and cover with the 1 1/2 cups of water.  Put on the stove and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and let cook for 10 minutes.

3. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice from one half into a mug. Pour the ginger-and-lemon-infused hot water through a strainer into the mug with the lemon juice.  Find a cozy corner and enjoy.

Coconut Date Granola Bars

Born out of the days of free love and food coops, granola bars are, in a way, a quintessential health food for the modern era.  The concept is simple: mix some whole grain goodness with nuts and dried fruit and smoosh it all together in a portable little package.  However, commercial granola bars are often loaded with sugar and additives, making them a far cry from the guitar-playing, unshaven, sticky oat squares we expect.  And when all you have to do it combine a few pantry ingredients and toss them in the oven, why not make your own?

For these coconut date granola bars, I use a combination of two natural sweeteners: honey and barley malt.  Barley malt is an ultra-sticky syrup made from (duh) barley that’s predominantly maltose, giving it a distinct malty/Whopper flavor. While there is debate about how different sugars affect health and particularly blood sugar, I think the main reason for using them over refined sugars is that they get your body accustomed to a “less sweet” sweet, and, in these bars, the gentle sweetness allows you taste the almonds, coconut and spices.  Don’t worry if you don’t have barley malt; just use the equivalent amount of honey.  Packed with protein from the nuts, fiber from the oats and dates, and good-for-you Omega 3 fats from the flax seeds and wheat germ, this is an elegant update that will boost your energy while satisfying your sweet tooth.

These granola bars make great gifts, particularly for friends who like to work out.  You’ll soon be just as popular as your baker friends.

Coconut Date Granola Bars
yield: 16 bars

1 cup blanched almonds, chopped (or any other nut)
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons barley malt (or same amount extra honey if you don’t have barley malt)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons butter
pinch of salt
1 cup Medjool dates, pitted and chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and edges of a 9×12 baking dish.

2. On a large sheet pan toss together the chopped almonds, oats, dried coconut and wheat germ. Toast in oven, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.  The mixture should be slightly golden and fragrant. Remove from the oven and place in a large  bowl and add the flax seeds.

3. In a small pot, heat the honey, barley malt, cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla extract, butter and salt. Let the mixture come to a boil, turn off the heat, and pour it into the bowl with the oat mixture.  Add the chopped dates, breaking apart any clumps, and stir to combine.

4. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and form a smooth, even layer, using a moistened spatula or your fingers. Make sure the mixture is packed down, then bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Remove and let cool for several hours before slicing into bars or squares.  Wrap individually in plastic wrap to keep your homemade granola bars fresh all week.

Welcome to Urban Chickpea!

Hello old friends and new friendlings!

After talking about it for oh-so-long, I’m finally starting up my blog, Urban Chickpea, so I can share my culinary experiments with you all!  Look forward to healthy recipes and explorations of cooking techniques, ingredients and food trends. Let me know what you think via the comments, facebook, twitter or at

Hugs, kisses and kale,