Herbal jellos are quite popular at the moment, and I’ve been loving my tub of Vital Proteins* gelatin so much that I am trying to use it in everything. Also, I’ve been feeling a bone-deep need for goat’s milk, so I’ve been listening to my body and experimenting with goat’s milk in various forms: cheese (hard and fresh), yogurt and kefir.
I wanted to get a fruity yogurt, but they are so high in added sugars I felt I could do better. I feel this fits the bill as there is absolutely no added sugar in this recipe: the sweetness comes from the fruit itself! I like the grown up flavors of this combination as well between the plain yogurt, gelled compote and spices.
This recipe was a bit of a “let’s see what happens” experiment, and I liked it! I did not exactly measure everything, because I’m not that kind of a cook and I never make something the same way twice unless I have to, and I was thrilled that this worked out as well as it did!
Gelled Spiced Fruit Compote:
Makes 12 servings, depending on your portion size – feel free to cut the recipe in half!
- 3 handfuls, or 1 1/3c each: dried apricots, dried unsweetened (or fruit sweetened) cranberries, and dried sour cherries
- 2 pieces of grapefruit peel (fresh or dried, approximately ½” by 2” each)
- 8 green cardamom pods, crushed
- 1 cinnamon stick (preferably the “true” cinnamon, with the very thin bark rolls – it is sweeter)
- 3 cloves
- 3 slices ginger (fresh, or 1tsp ground dried)
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg or mace (I prefer mace in this recipe)
- 3 scoops of Vital-Proteins Beef Gelatin* (or 30g of gelatin)
- 3 cups water, and more as needed
- Chop 1 1/3 cups apricots (or three handfuls) into pieces the size of your dried cranberries and cherries
- Place dried fruit into a bowl, set aside.
- Put 3 cups of water into a 4qt saucepan, and bring to a boil
- Place grapefruit peel, ginger and spices into a spice bag, then set in water in saucepan. Cover.
- Steep spices in water for 20 minutes.
- Add the dried fruit into the saucepan with the spices, and simmer for 20-45 minutes – until the fruit has plumped and the liquid is slightly thickened.
- Strain the fruit from the liquid, reserving the liquid and fruit separately. Remove and discard the spice bag.
- Measure the liquid, ensuring that you have at least 3 cups, cool for about 20 minutes.
- Add the gelatin to the liquid, let bloom for 5 minutes.
- Return the fruit to the pot then stir in the gelatin-liquid, heat through for 5 minutes. If the mix seems a little dry (there should be enough liquid for the fruit to touch each other but still freely float), add a half cup of water until the fruit both touches each other and floats in the pot. (The goal is to make a firmly set –but not rubbery/hard set- gel of the compote. Sorry I cannot explain this better! The way I cook is an art, not a science.)
- Then place all into a heat-proof container and set in the fridge overnight.
- Serve topped with plain yogurt of your choice, add a sprinkling of ground cinnamon, mace and a touch of salt. I tried the Hawaiian black lava salt in this photo – it offered an unusual contrast to the tartness and sweetness of the fruit and yogurt.
In Ayurveda, one is not supposed to mix milk products with fruit, however this is a common combination in European countries and lately I have been experimenting with eating more in alignment with my heritage/ancestry to see how that affects my body. Will keep you posted, as you know I don’t like to take things at face value – I have to dig deeper and experience it all for myself so you can benefit from it.
Here are the Chinese Medicine energetics of each of the key ingredients.
Goat’s milk is sweet, salty and warm. It tonifies Qi, Blood and strengthens the Kidneys and bones. Goat’s milk moistens dryness (ie dry skin, hair, nails), and calms the Spirit (Shen). In its yogurt form, goat’s milk takes on a sour quality, which in turn affects the Liver. Too much yogurt can congest the Liver (or “sedate” its functions), while a little can help build the function of the Liver’s spreading and smoothing abilities.
Gelatin is rich in amino acids and increases digestion, assists healing (of membranes, gastrointestinal tract, cartilage and bones, soft tissues). In this sense, gelatin benefits the Kidneys, Stomach, Spleen and Lungs; as it is high in amino acids I believe that it also benefits the Liver. I like that it feels so “Yinny” and “juicy” during these cold, dry months as it helps to smooth and nourish the skin. While it is has been swinging between chilly and warm-ish here in New York, I still have yet to start my winter skincare routine – I’m attributing this to this beautifully nourishing addition to my new favorite soup, and other foods.
Cherries, Sour (shuan yin tao) – are warming, moistening, sweet, and they tonify the Qi and Blood while also moving Blood. They are associated with the Spleen, Stomach, and Kidneys and some sources cite the Liver or Heart also being part of the equation. Cherries are known to help eliminate excess body acids, and are beneficial for those who feel cold on a regular basis. They are also a rejuvinative, benefit the skin and body, strengthen the Spleen and stimulate the appetite, quench thirst and prolong life. Additionally, cherries are high in iron and help with anemia.
Cranberries (dried, unsweetened or fruit sweetened) are sour and cooling, they promote urination and strengthen the Kidneys and reproductive system. For me, in a way, cranberries help to consolidate (or bring together, inwardly) the Kidneys and reproductive system to strengthen them. They do this, in my mind, by helping the Kidneys pull fluids inward so they can better eliminate waste via the bladder/urination. I think too that cranberries secondarily benefit the Liver, Spleen and Lungs – but will have to save that pontification for another time!
Apricots are sweet, sour and slightly cool. They regenerate body fluids and alleviate thirst and clear heat. I tend to over-eat nourishing foods during this time of year, and tend to be very thirsty AND develop heat symptoms (redness in particular), so apricots were added to this blend to help balance any heat signs.
Grapefruit peel is warming, it regulates Qi, dries Dampness and helps to resolve stomach distention. It benefits the Liver, Spleen and Stomach – and the Lungs I believe. As someone who tends toward Qi Stagnation and Dampness (from sitting and working all day, and from my constitutional type), I need as much help in this arena as I can get.
Fresh ginger (sheng jiang) – is a warm, spicy herb that is affiliated with the Lungs, Spleen and Stomach. It is often used in formulas to circulate the herbs through the body, and to relieve any digestive discomfort or toxicity of the other herbs in a formula. In this case, ginger is used to warm the Stomach and Spleen. Dried ginger may also be used, but it is much warmer (hot!) and acts differently enough in my body that fresh ginger is best used as often as possible.
Cardamom is one of my favorite spices of all time. It is spicy, it is sweet, it is warming, it is fragrant and it tonifies and strengthens digestion. It benefits the Lungs, Spleen and Stomach, moves Qi, dissolves dampness, and descends “rebellious Qi” (ie nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, etc.)
Cinnamon is spicy, hot, and penetrates the Heart, Liver, Kidney and Spleen channels. This translates to our inner fire and spark, our drive and ambition, wisdom and intention. It is in this recipe to provide a contrast to the sweetness that is prevalent in all of the other herbs. Cinnamon has been used in recent years to stabilize blood sugar, I’m not convinced there is enough in this recipe to provide for such an effect to take place.
Nutmeg benefits the Spleen, Stomach and Large Intestines and is warm, pungent and helps to move the Qi. As I used mace in this recipe, I’ll discuss mace’s properties to the extent that I am able:
Mace is the outer carapace of the nutmeg seed, and I am unable to find information about its energetics. I would say that it is warm, sweet and pungent, with a slight edge of bitterness, and is associated with the Spleen, Stomach, Pericardium and Heart (it’s color is red after all, and encases the seed/aril that is nutmeg as the Pericardium encases the Heart) meridians. Perhaps mace has less of a strong medicinal action in terms of promoting Qi circulation than nutmeg, nevertheless it does act as a carminative (Qi mover). I find that it lifts and spreads lightly, opens the Heart and Pericardium to relax interactions between oneself and the world (or between you and your food!); and mace is used in Ayurveda as an aphrodisiac and brain stimulant.
Salt is the taste associated with the Kidneys in CM, and “directs” the herbs to the Kidneys so that the Kidneys can then best utilize all that the herbs have to offer. Too much salt can damage the Kidneys.
The Tao of Nutrition
* I am not sponsored by Vital Proteins! I just love their gelatin!