Last Spring after a month in India and the longest return journey ever (42 hours?), I was tired, and tired for a long time. It took me a few weeks to fully recover. To help with recovery, and especially because my brain felt so strained, I focused my foods on two things: Greens because it was Spring, and healthy fats to replace my seriously depleted Ojas.
What is Ojas?
Ojas is described by Maharishi Ayurveda as the most refined and subtle essence of the physical body. It creates strength in the body, promoting immunity to all diseases and infection, and stabilizing our emotions. When ojas flows unobstructed in the body, it creates vibrant health and enhances contentment.
“Optimum ojas is the key to perfect health, balanced and blissful emotions, and even the unfolding of inner spiritual development. Ojas promotes longevity and is an internally generated antidote to aging,” according to Dr. Nancy Lonsdorf. It is the product of perfectly functioning digestion and metabolism. A high amount of ojas means everything we eat is transformed into toxin-free energy, creating an alert and clear state of mind and calm, generative emotions.
So I made these. And I made them again last month after I flew from Kerala, where the humidity was 89%, to fire ravaged California where humidity was 14%. Parched and depleted, my system needed help. It needed Ojas. (Maybe all our systems do!)
With only five primary ingredients – coconut oil, coconut butter, almond butter, cacao and honey – this was my sweet version of the equation, Healthy fat + Healthy protein = Ojas > Functional strength, Brain health, Immunity, Internal moisture, and the Glow of radiant wellbeing.
Truly these could be called Ojas Cups, a sumptuous bite of love to nourish the brain, joints, skin, energy and aid a healthy recovery, while easy on digestion and pleasing to the palate. These little butter cups are so good, it may be surprising that they are so good for you.
Cacao: Raw cacao powder is easy to use, and while it doesn’t need tempering, it can create a chalky look (see muffin tin above). No worries if that happens, just chalk it up to the raw power of its mighty mega nutrients.
If you do not have cacao, you can melt a dark chocolate bar and use that instead. Just know that it will make a sweeter cup, and these are already mighty sweet (in the Ayurvedic sense) with the coconut and the almond butters. So reduce honey. Or taste before adding.
Coconut Butter: More like a nut butter, coconut butter is easy to make yourself by just grinding coconut flakes for about ten minutes, until smooth.
Honey: If you know Ayurveda you will know that while honey is sweet in taste (rasa), which is usually cooling and heavy, honey is actually heating and light (virya/vipak). So it balances the other ingredients somewhat, and helps with metabolism. Plus, it adds that gorgeous golden flavor. But you could absolutely swap it for maple syrup, especially if you have high Pitta.
Toppings: With the pomegranate, this might give you a taste memory of a chocolate-y PBJ – only with almond butter, real fruit and coconutty cacao holding it all together. I love the tart contrast of the pomegranate and the color. But for the holidays, these could be festive and refreshing topped with a few broken candy cane pieces. I also think candied ginger or preserved citrus would be wintry and give a lovely taste finish.
Optional add-ins: I added an option below for mixing in flaxseed. For that matter, you could add psyllium husk, or any favorite adaptogenic there as well. This really is a great “carrier” for medicinal ingredients, as long as you keep it simple – one or two only, in small amounts.
COCO ALMOND BUTTER CUPS, aka Ojas Cups
Makes about 8, depending on the size
No bake, no fuss – don’t let the steps fool you. It just takes minutes to prepare and while the cups set you can do something else – prepare a meal, write your next novel, or light up the world with your scintillating brilliance. You know… Ojas!
3/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup coconut butter (also called coconut manna)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 shakes cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pink salt
1/2 cup raw cacao powder (or dark chocolate bar) Optional: 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed, and/or adaptogen of choice
1/4 cup almond butter
pomegranate seeds – or pepitas, broken candy cane pieces, chopped preserved lemon, orange or mandarine slices, dried cherries, cranberries or ginger – for a bright topping
Metal bowl + sauce pan to melt cacao
Muffin cups or parchment paper
Instructions Make the Base: Stir 5 tablespoons of the coconut oil with the coconut butter in a small bowl set over boiling water and allow it to melt. Add the vanilla, cinnamon and a dash of pink salt and stir well. Reduce heat to the boiling water and whisk in half the cacao powder, or break the dark chocolate into small pieces and stir in. Remove from heat and keep stirring until fully melted/integrated. Stir in the ground flaxseed/adaptogenic herb powder.
Spoon into muffin cups, dividing equally. Refrigerate.
Middlelayer: Once the coconut base has set in the refrigerator (15-20 minutes), pull it out and lightly, lightly drizzle honey over the base. Spoon a teaspoon of almond butter into the middle of each cup. Refrigerate again while you make the topping.
Topping: Melt the remaining coconut oil in a small pan. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining cacao or break up a chocolate bar and stir until completely melted/integrated with the oil. Pull the almond butter cups from the fridge and drizzle about half a teaspoon of this cacao-coconut oil over the almond butter in each cup. Allow the chocolate to spread, and come back to fill in any spots, so each cup is completely covered. For the top you just want a thin layer that will crisp up, so add slowly and only enough to evenly cover.
Place in the refrigerator to set. After about 20 minutes they will be ready. Drizzle very lightly with honey, sprinkle with a tiny pinch of pink salt and decorate with pomegranate or your toping of choice.