Summer Solstice Tarte
Happy Midsommar! It was Summer solstice on Thursday, June 21, 2018 - the official beginning of summer. I worked on a client's case on Thursday which inspired me to play in the kitchen and create this delicious apricot lavender tarte. I realized how perfectly it combines the nutrients that would be beneficial for my client's current condition. And as I know there are lots of people out there who are stressed and tend to have a sweet tooth, I decided to share this delicious summer recipe, as well as some of the nutritional benefits of the ingredients I chose.
By the way, it is super easy to flexibly replace ingredients in this recipe, if you don't have them at hand. That's what the fun is all about when it comes to cooking and baking! Don't be afraid, play, be confident and creative in the kitchen! (It does, of course, not have the same health benefits, if you change the ingredients. But as long as we're talking about whole foods ingredients, there's probably plenty of goodness in there regardless.)
Make and play, share and enjoy! Recipe and nutritional benefits below!
For the crust:
1 cup dry buckwheat groats (yields 2 cups after soaking)
½ cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup shredded coconut
½ cup coconut blossom sugar
1 tblsp chia seeds
1 tblsp flax seeds, hulled
4 tblsp water, filtered
1.5 tblsp coconut oil
½ tsp cinnamon, ground
½ teaspoon vanilla, ground
1 pinch of sea salt
For the topping:
9 apricots (or more)
1 tablespoon coconut blossom sugar
2 tblsp chia seeds
½ cup of water, filtered
1 tsp organic lavender, a bit more to sprinkle on top
1. Wash the buckwheat groats in cold water, then let them soak in about 3-4 times the amount of water for several hours, preferably overnight.
2. Strain the buckwheat to get rid of the remaining liquid.
3. Mix chia seeds and flax seeds with water, let sit for 10-15 minutes.
4. Mix buckwheat, pumpkin seeds, coconut shreds, coconut blossom sugar, coconut oil, cinnamon, vanilla, and sea salt. Add the chia-flax-seed jelly. Blend the mix a little bit with an immersion blender in order to create a binding, solid dough that sticks together (see image below). Let it sit in the fridge for 10-15 minutes. Now it's time to preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
5. In the meantime, wash the apricots. Remove the stones and cut at least 6 apricots into quarters, keep them aside. Put ½ cup of filtered water, 3 apricots, chia seeds, and coconut blossom sugar into a blender and blend until liquid. Stir in lavender afterwards and let this jam sit for 10 minutes.
6. Grease a tarte pan with some coconut oil. Spread the dough out evenly with your hands. Put the crust into the oven for 15 minutes. Then, put the apricot quarters on it in a pattern you like (I started in the center and created a flower-like shape) and finish by pouring the chia-apricot-jam evenly over it, until everything is covered. Sprinkle some more lavender on it, if you like.
7. Bake for another 30 minutes and let the tarte cool down a bit before removing it from the pan. The cake is delicious by itself, but can be combined with some ice cream or yogurt, too. (In fact, that's what a friend of mine did). Bon appetit!
Let's talk a little bit about the nutritional benefits of this tarte and look into why this tarte's ingredients are so great!
The tarte's crust is mainly made out of buckwheat, a pseudo-grain which is gluten free and high in protein. It is also high in tryptophan, an amino acid which our bodies need for serotonin and melatonin production. These neurotransmitters are technically what makes us happy and relaxed and support our ability to sleep well. Moreover, buckwheat is high in B vitamins. Especially vitamin B5 and B6 are essential for our bodies when we're stressed, therefore you may have increased needs of these when you're going through some tough times. Apart from that, buckwheat contains the flavonoids rutin and quercetin. They extend the action of vitamin C and act as antioxidants, maintain blood flow, and protect from free radical oxidation. Diets containing buckwheat have even been linked to lower the risk of developing high blood pressure! As buckwheat also contains plenty of magnesium, it supports relaxation perfectly.
When stressed, we may experience a tendency to go for sweet foods and snacks, pushing our blood sugar levels even higher and potentially overstimulating our systems even more. But we can choose snacks that support us in those situations, just like this tarte. Buckwheat reduces blood sugar levels due to the presence of a carbohydrate compound called D-chiro-inositol. Another advantage of buckwheat is that it contains vitamin E, a vitamin that is considered an anti-inflammatory antioxidant. What this means is that it protects our cells, but it also decreases inflammation and is great against allergies.
Lastly, I want to mention that cortisol, the major stress hormone our bodies produce, is produced in our adrenals (they are located on top of the kidneys). The adrenals also produce our sex hormones, but when stressed, the priority is given to cortisol - because survival in this case is more important than being fertile. Considering this, we may need to support our bodies even more during times of stress to take care of our reproductive health. One mineral that is essential for reproductive health is zinc - another nutrient found in buckwheat. So basically, what are you waiting for - enjoy that buckwheat!
The crust of the tarte also contains coconut oil. Coconut oil is high in medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) that serve as an immediate energy source for body and brain, because they are directly processed by the liver, instead of going through a long process of assimilation and being stored as body fat. Coconut oil is also high in lauric acid that is antimicrobial - meaning it kills viruses, bacteria and fungi (like candida), supporting our immune systems. The MCTs in coconut oil keep us full for longer. Coconut oil can be of support in case of hormonal imbalances as well.
When it comes to healthy fats, our bodies especially need the essential fatty acids omega 3 and omega 6. Both chia seeds and flax seeds are abundant sources of these fatty acids - chia seeds particularly offer omega 3, high levels of protein, antioxidants and fiber. Flax seeds are also rich in lignans (fiber compounds) that support hormonal balance, as they increase the production of SHBG (sex hormone-binding globulin) that regulates the hormonal balance by getting rid of excess estrogen. Including these fiber rich seeds in your diet enhances digestive health as well by binding to toxins and countering constipation as they decrease transit time. Something to keep in mind is that due to their gelatinous nature, consuming this kind of soluble fiber with any medication may also impact the medication’s effect – so take your meds with a different meal, if you can.
Speaking of apricots, they are a source of carotenes (vitamin A) and a source of fiber. The natural, complex sugars in apricots are slowly released into our bloodstream. Apricots contain vitamin C and serve as a liver protection, have anti-inflammatory properties and are at the same time low in calories. Altogether, a good fruit to include in a diet of someone who is under stress, has skin issues (vitamin A and C serve to improve skin conditions) and looks for a treat that does not push the blood sugar as high as conventional snacks do.
I used coconut blossom sugar as a sweetener for this recipe. The difference between coconut sugar and refined, granulated, bleached sugar is that coconut blossom sugar comes with its natural traces of minerals such as iron, zinc, and potassium, as well as vitamins and phytonutrients, and even the fiber inulin. The importance of this is that our bodies need micronutrients in order to metabolize the sugars (carbohydrates) we consume. Refined sugars are too processed and hence the micronutrients are missing. In consequence, our bodies cannot use this sugar for fuel. Instead, the sugar might either be stored as fat or we crave more food, as our bodies try to get the micronutrients necessary to metabolize and use the sugar for energy.
This recipe includes quite a lot of pumpkin seeds. I chose them as they are high in zinc, essential fatty acids, vitamin A, protein and magnesium - making them a great choice again to support the nervous system and our reproductive health. By the way, sometimes you might simply be craving sweets, because you didn't get enough protein in your diet. I am a fan of working through diet and whole foods, instead of going for supplements right away - therefore foods like buckwheat and pumpkin seeds come to mind first.
Finally a word on the spices and herbs I used: lavender is calming and soothing – great to counter anxiety, stress, or emotional imbalances (also PMS related). Moreover, lavender is anti-inflammatory. Cinnamon naturally tastes sweet, but also helps to manage blood sugar levels effectively, due to its chromium and polyphenol content.
And the list goes on... So many benefits! Whole foods are really the best and easiest way to take care of yourself. Listen to your body - we are designed to have an appetite for what's good for us. Eating good food is about respecting yourself and loving yourself, not about creating a guilt trap and punishing yourself. I hope this was an insightful read for you and I look forward to hearing feedback from those who this inspires to get bakin'.
Sources: Murray, Michael, The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York: Atria Foods, 2005