INDULGE YOUR WILD SIDE WITH DURIAN FRUIT ICE CREAM

Not for the faint of heart, energy-boosting Durian fruit ice cream will ignite your adventurous summer spirit, says Ysanne Spevack.

Image: Annie Shelmerdine

Durian … it’s the Marmite of the fruit world. Love it or hate it, it’s impossible to simply be un-opinionated about this stinky tropical fruit.

Spiky on the outside, and custardy on the inside, ripe durian fruit contains FIFTY different scent compounds, including smells that are found in garlic, beef, cheese, squid, leeks, and honey. They also contain four scents that are unique to durian—yes, that’s four compounds that occur nowhere else in nature! These compounds give durian its unique smell and taste, and make it stinky enough to be banned in public places throughout Southeast Asia.

Plus, durian is hot—literally. In scientific trials, it’s proven to raise your body temperature by one degree, which is significant. That’s probably the root of the rumor that it’s the sexiest fruit, especially for men. In Asia, it’s also the reason durian is never eaten alone, but always in combination with a cooling food such as a cup of tea, mangosteen, or bananas.

In Southeast Asian folklore, drinking alcohol while eating durian is believed to cause death, so people from the region rarely mix the two. However, according to scientific research carried out in 1969 by the University of Singapore, there’s nothing in durian that could possibly cause death, whatever it’s eaten with. But still, the study found that due to the unique combination of fruit sugars and unsaturated fats, eating durian while drinking alcohol causes internal fermentation that’s unhealthy, and uncomforatble. For this reason, avoid drinking alcohol while eating durian. It’s smart to stick to ice tea for cooling effects and quenching capabilities.

Found at stands throughout Chinatown in NYC, when the fruit are ripe, the spiky hard shell cracks to reveal the custard-colored creamy fruit. The edible part has a very creamy texture due to the insane amount of fat it contains—think custard and ice cream, with a faint hint of honey and garlic. And if you freeze it, you can eat it direct from the freezer. The high fat content makes instant ice cream—so simple, so good!

Malaysian durians are generally sweeter than Thai ones, and have less of the garlic taste, so they’re the best option for entry-level durian consumption. Whatever type of durian you select, it’s best to limit yourself to only 4 or 5 segments max per sitting, as it’s high in natural fruit sugars, unsaturated fats, and calories.

On the good side, it stimulates sexiness, and soothes general digestive flow. It’s high in magnesium, vitamin C, iron, potassium, copper, folic acid, and B-vitamins, so it’s great for an energy boost. It’s also perfect post-workout—when consumed with something cooling too!

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DURIAN FRUIT ICE-CREAM
Since you won’t find fresh durian online, the only way to get it is to take an adventure to Chinatown during durian season—which is right now! Follow your nose, and you’ll find the stand.

The person at the stand will remove the edible part to save you having to deal with the hard shell. Come with a reusable food container if you’d like to save the planet from another single-use plastic disposable box.

Recipe 
Ingredients:
1 fresh durian (about 10-12 segments)
1 large ripe banana

Method:
Remove the pits from the durian and peel the banana.

Mash the fruits together in a bowl with a fork.

Transfer to a freezer-proof container.

Freeze overnight.

Eat!

Discover more about Ysanne Spevack and her work HERE.

GYNOSTEMMA ICED TEA WILL MAKE YOU FEEL IMMORTAL

The perfect drink pairing for summer in the city? Adaptogenic Gynostemma, a.k.a. The Tea of Immortality, will help you burn the candle at both ends for those long summer nights, says Ysanne Spevack.

Image: Jason Briscoe

 

Want a beverage that helps you burn your candle at both ends? Just say no to coffee, and “Oh hi!” to gynostemma tea!

Known as Jiao-Gu-Lan (the Tea of Immortality) in parts of Southern China, gynostemma is a green leafy adaptogenic plant that’s the go-to for busy urbanites in the know. It’s especially well suited to help us surf summer life in the city, with its fluctuations in the weather (especially this year, what happened, NYC?!) and June’s dawn-to-dusk increased outdoors time.

With the most adaptogenic saponins of any wild-crafted plant in the world (four times the amount of ginseng), this stuff strengthens your natural ability to stabilize blood sugar, supports your immune function, and enhances endurance. And it doesn’t speed you out or crash and burn. It’s all about balancing the nervous system—as with all adaptogens, by definition gynostemma can energize you when you need it, yet help you to relax and sleep at night.

But the real reason it’s known as “The Tea of Immortality” is because of its benefits to liver and cardio function. It supports the body’s production of superoxide dismutase, an antioxidant that protects the liver from free radicals. And it helps arteries, veins, and capillaries release nitric oxide, which helps them to relax.

The taste is a little like the stevia herb, but less sweet—not at all bitter, but an unusual green herby flavor that makes a fantastic base for other drinks and a pleasant iced tea.

And get this … it’s also a beautiful cascading plant that you can grow in a city apartment as a decorative house plant, so long as you have a sunny window. Alternatively, it’s easy to find at stores like Kamwo Meridian Herbs on Grand Street in NYC or in their online shop, which is my go-to for anything to do with Chinese medicine.

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June Gynostemma, Shiso, and Goji Ice Tea 
Don’t smirk at the gojis!!! This is what you’ve been missing all these years. Dry gojis are nasty—but gojis in tea are FABULOUS. And they’re a natural partner to gynostemma, the strange flavors of both combining into a perfect sweet herby balance. And then basil, or if you’re super lucky and can find it, fresh shiso herb. Oh. My. Gosh.

Recipe 
Makes 1 cup

Ingredients: 
1 gynostemma tea bag OR 1 teaspoon dried gynostemma herb
1-2 fresh shies leaves**
10-20 dried goji berries

**Shiso is a kind of basil, so it’s totally possible to switch out shiso for regular Genovese or another type of basil. That said, shiso has flavor magic—it’s the third leg on the stool for this recipe to really stabilize and pop. Find it in Japanese stores, or grow it yourself. It’s easy to grow during summer in New York.

Method:
Bring some water to a rolling boil—not in a microwave, please!

Put the herbs and gojis in a coffee mug.

Pour the freshly boiled water into the mug.

Leave on the counter to steep and cool naturally.

Drink as it is, or if preferred, transfer to a tall glass and add ice.

Discover more about Ysanne Spevack HERE.

THE MAGIC INGREDIENT: CHAGA MUSHROOMS ARE SUPER HEALING & SUPER DELICIOUS

Feeling the Spring fever? Ysanne Spevack whips up an immune boosting pudding with chaga mushrooms that’s equal parts powerful and subtly healing. Main Image: Mariano Peccinetti 

April is an invigorating time of year, with spring’s changing moods inviting us back out of our homes and into the streets. The month also brings indecisive weather, from thunderstorms to sunshine. To face this fluctuating weather and to address the rising allergen percentage in the air, our immunity needs a natural boost right now.

Enter chaga mushrooms, a humble type of mycelium that grows on trees. More like a tree fungus than a regular mushroom, chaga is probably best known and most widely used for its scientifically confirmed anti-oxidant qualities that protect against cancer, and also for its use for people with HIV. Chaga doesn’t beat around the bush when it comes to antioxidant qualities.

That said, chaga is equally powerful when eaten to reduce seasonal allergies, and it has a soothing effect on the respiratory system. What’s more, chaga mushrooms have a subtle flavor that lends itself well to sweet recipes. It has a woody taste with an undertone of vanilla, so blends well with anything containing vanilla.

Chaga grows right here in the US and is always wild, never cultivated. You can find it on birch trees anywhere along the East Coast that experiences a cold winter. And if you’re not ready for a trip into the woods, you can find it ready-powdered online at High Vibe or your local independent purveyor of high-quality medicinal superfoods.

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Chaga Chia Pudding Recipe 
by Ysanne Spevack 

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

2 medjool dates
1½ cup water
2 tbs hemp hearts
2tsp powdered chaga
½ tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup black chia seeds

Method:

Remove the pits from the dates using your fingers, and drop them into a blender. Add the water, hemp hearts, chaga, and vanilla, then cover and process at the highest speed for 45 seconds.

If you have a Mason jar, pour the chia seeds into it, and pour the liquid into the jar. If you don’t have a Mason jar, any kind of 2 cup lidded container will work.

Secure the lid, and shake vigorously for at least 30 seconds, to ensure the seeds are all thoroughly wet and aren’t clumping together. If you see obvious clumps, open the lid and break them up with a fork.

Set aside on the counter to gel for at least three hours. After that duration, it’s either ready to eat, or to refrigerate. Consume within 3 days.

Discover more about Ysanne Spevack HERE.

THE MAGIC INGREDIENT: DREAMY VIBES WITH VELVET BEANS

In the first installment of her new column, Ysanne Spevack shares a creamy faux Cappuccino recipe for you to sample some dreamy velvet beans vibes…

Like Jack’s magic beans in the fairytale, velvet beans (Mucuna pruriens in Latin) truly deliver. They’re one of the strongest herbal ingredients I use, and a favorite for total vibe-change. Pods that grow on trees in India, and used as an Ayurvedic medicine, they’ve been tried and tested over millennia, and are now available as an extract in the US, sold as a brown powder that’s water-soluble.

The main active compounds in velvet bean extract fall into two groups: antioxidants, and amino acids, of which the main one is L-dopa, and another is called trypatmine, for obvious reasons. Together, these phytochemicals work synergistically for neural health, and specifically relieve stress and melt our sense of boundaries. Perfect for Pisces season—the archetypal symbol of ego loss and dreams. There’s some research that links velvet beans to sexual health too, but that’s likely to be a result of their relaxing effect.

L-dopa is a precursor to dopamine, norepinephrine and adrenaline, which means it has a profound psychoactive effect. You can feel it working, stimulating a sense of dreamy deliciousness and allowing you a peak behind the veil of consciousness. If you’ve ever wanted to feel the grandeur of the Universe while you melt into your pillow, velvet bean extract is the high vibe ingredient for you. I recommend using it sparingly—a little goes a long way. Also if you’re feeling unstable, or if you’re pregnant, it’s best if you pass on this for now, as with anything psychoactive.

Here’s my recipe for a delicious hot ‘faux cappuccino’ that won’t buzz you like caffeine, and will guide you to feel a subtle oneness with the cosmos. It’s not a bedtime drink— the velvet bean stimulates adrenaline production. But it’s a fantastic way to space out with some music on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and swim in cosmic waters of the Milky Way…

The drink is comfortingly sweet, while the bitterness of the velvet bean and umami of the reishi are similar to coffee, hence the name. Nettles soothe the nerves, and keeps the velvet bean from being jarring while it takes you up a notch.

Imbibe to enjoy about a one hour of day-dreams, in a suitably Piscean way…

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Pisces Velvet Bean Cappuccino Recipe
by The Conscious Cook

Makes one serving

Ingredients:

1 coffee mug filled with boiling water
1 nettle tea bag
*1/8 tsp velvet bean extract
*1 tsp powdered reishi mushroom
*1 tsp tocotrienols
1 tsp raw unfiltered honey
1 tbs raw coconut oil

* Denotes ingredients that are available online at Highvibe.com

Method:

Infuse the nettle tea bag in the boiling hot water in a large mug by pouring the hot water onto the tea bag as soon as it’s boiled.

Cover the mug with a saucer or plate, and set aside to infuse for 5 minutes.

Measure the other ingredients into a high-speed blender.

Remove the cover and tea bag, and add the nettle tea to the blender.

Blend on low, bringing the speed up to high, and then switching the blender to the maximum setting.

Blend on high for about 30 seconds, to create froth.

Pour into a large mug, spooning the creamy froth out with a spatula.

Hold the cup with both hands as you take sips, and finish it with a teaspoon to enjoy all of the frothy, creamy goodness.

Finally, relax and allow your dreams to unfold as you swim into the universal cosmos.

Discover more about Ysanne Spevack HERE.

GASTROLOGY: A RECIPE FOR VIRGO SEASON

A unconventional lentil soup is the perfect recipe for Virgo season…Concept and styling: Georgia Ashdown, Dish Pig; Words: Mojave Rising; Recipe: Alex Watts, Dish Pig; Image: Chris Chen

Virgo season conjures careful concoctions, herbaceous blends, process-based cooking, and the delicious sensation of detoxification. The zodiac’s most meticulous minx invites us to break out our measuring cups and to revel in acts of sorting, discerning, and finely chopping.

It’s a month to celebrate how singular flavors contribute to the integrity of the whole, hearty stew of being human, and how complex proportions demonstrate that in doing the difficult work we are sumptuously rewarded for our care.

We’ve chosen a spicy, delightfully intricate yet simple, sweet and sour soup for Virgo season—perfect for channeling the earthy goodness inside masked by outer complexity. There’s also the collisions between perfectly proportioned piles and the glorious moment of blending, where we let distinction merge with the world as it is and serve it on up.

Astrology’s so-called “virgin” is actually a wild, witchy woman who lives by her own code and gathers provisions for a proprietary brew befitting a self-contained queen of everyday alchemy. Her soup is for celebrating each piece of ourselves: from the tangy lime cheeks, to the sweet, sweet coconut cream on top!

RECIPE FOR VIRGO SEASON :: SWEET AND SOUR LENTIL SOUP

serves 4-6

Chefs notes ~ with the addition of some a dollop of coconut cream and harissa this soup can really come to life.

1 red onion diced
1 red capsicum, charred and peeled
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground tumeric
1 tsp ground coriander
100ml grapeseed oil
600g Kumera diced approx. 1cm
4 ripe tomatoes diced
2 garlic cloves sliced
1 long red chilli, de-seeded and sliced
1tbs tamarind pulp
100 ml boiling water
1 tbs vegan fish sauce
½ tsp tumeric
1 cup Red Lentils, soaked
1.5litres veg stock
1 handful chopped coriander
1 handful shallot (scallion) rounds
2 Lime cheeks

Wash the lentils under cold water, and repeat three times then strain off the water.

Soak the tamarind pulp in boiling water and pass through a sieve to remove seeds.

In a heavy based saucepan, fry the onions and garlic in grape seed oil until, soft but not coloured. Add the chilli & spices and cook for a further 5 mins stirring constantly. Add the kumera, red lentils, tomato, tamarind, red capsicum and veg stock. Cook until the Kumera just begins to soften and remove from heat.

Season with fish sauce, chopped herbs and serve with a grilled lime cheek.

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: AN ACTUAL DATE WITH RUSSELL BRAND (KINDA)

Tending to my zen-den, a modern day witch hunt, and a Skype date with Russell Brand…

:: MONDAY ::
So I spent the past two weeks on vacation in Hawaii, where I had planned to switch off completely and mend my broken mind after pretty much a year of #nodaysoff. Which, for various reasons, is not how things panned out – but OH WOW, what valuable lessons and insights the Universe had in store for me instead! Why do I bring this up? Because rarely does life give us what we think we want – the Universe prefers to serve us what it knows we NEED. Basically the number one thing to keep in mind as we head into this Mercury (+ Mars + Pluto + Jupiter + Saturn!!) retro phase. So be open, be vigilant, and just watch in grace and wonder as it all unfolds.

:: TUESDAY ::
Mega congrats to my beautiful friend and collaborator Kirsty, who launched the most fabulous service today – an online subscription service for high-end, hard-to-find scented candles named Scent. When you set up an account, you’ll be asked to create a “scent profile” so all the candles you receive can be tailored to your tastes. Your zen-den never smelled better – and just in time for Mother’s Day too! Discover more at Scentfrom.us

Loving the beautiful imagery on Scent…

:: WEDNESDAY ::
And speaking of zen-dens – can we just officially acknowledge that ritual baths are currently officially a thing? Like is anybody out there not soaking with a bunch of salts, crystals, and activated herbs? Which is timely, actually, since with all those planets currently in retrograde, the big memo from the Cosmos is to slow things TF down. So check out this ritual bath recipe from Deborah Hanekamp, or stock on House of Intuition’s genius “bath bags” (like a tea bag but for your bath, see below) – and soak it up!

Clarity Bath Bags, $8, House of Intuition

:: THURSDAY ::
An interview with Jessica Knoll, who’s runaway best-seller Luckiest Girl Alive is – hello – an absolute feminist classic. Do not be put off by the breezy comparisons to Gone Girl etc, this is a straight-up Medieval witch-hunt at its most gory. And in the Now Age? Girl comes out alive and kicking. It’s not giving anything away to reveal that Jessica recently came out about the rape scenes depicted in the book as being based on her own teenage experiences – in other words, took one giant leap for female kind in re-writing history from the perspective of herstory. Read it and weep (tears of  fully empowered female joy).

:: FRIDAY ::
Got so SO close to making an actual dream come true today, when I got to speak at an event hosted by the David Lynch Foundation with none other than…Russell Brand! Only Rus ended up being Skyped in – so near, yet so far. The topic? Meditation as a tool for addiction recovery and substance abuse, and of course Russell nailed it. I’ll share a link to the whole panel discussion when it’s posted online, but one classic RB take-away to take you into your week-end: “I used substances to access a alternate state of consciousness. Now I have meditation for that.” Amen.

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: XMAS GIFT IDEAS, AND BINGEING ON TRANSPARENT

Read on for at least three high-vibe Xmas gift ideas, an astro walking tour of NYC, and all the reasons I love Transparent…

:: MONDAY ::
Whipped up a batch of my favorite new thing – hemp milk. I’ve been making my own nut milks for most of this year, mainly as, oh let’s see, it’s way cheaper and tastier and healthier than buying the store-bought stuff. I’ve been through almond (too much pulp) and cashew (digestive no-no for me), and had settled on Brazil nut as my fave. But then I got my hands on a copy of Rich Roll and Julie Piatt’s plant-based lifestyle bible The Plantpower Way (an excellent Xmas gift btw), and was convinced to give hemp a try. OMG, it’s lighter than air, mixes like regular dairy milk into hot drinks, AND YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE TO STRAIN IT. Here’s my recipe:

1/2 cup hulled hemp seeds
4 cups of water
Pinch sea salt
1/2 tspn raw honey

Blitz.

:: TUESDAY ::
When Bess Matassa, a.k.a. Street Sign Astrology, invited me on an “astrological walking tour of NYC” obviously I wasn’t going to say no. Even better, Bess’s tours are based on your actual birth chart – taking in sights, stores, and hidden secrets of the City that act as experiential representations of different aspects in your chart. Wow! Mine began beneath the giant whale at the Museum of Natural History, since so many of my planets are in the watery (read: totally emo) 4th and 8th houses of my chart. We then moved on to check out some fierce mammals, since the “learning edge” that Bess saw in my chart can be summed up as: “getting cozy with savagery.” Grrr…(p.s. a tour with Bess would also be a great Xmas gift)

:: WEDNESDAY ::
Hello, exchange economy. Since I was in need of some energetic clearing, and my friend Aly wanted some advice on her website…we agreed to do a swap. A healing session for me, a coaching session for her. We met for the exchange over a 2-hour session today, with amazingly high-vibe results! It got me thinking: what skills could you exchange with one of your friends for an alternative kind of hang-date? It’s a win-win – you both get something out if it that you might otherwise pay a couple of hundred dollars for, and it’s so so much more bonding than getting your gossip on over a bottle of wine. Promise.

:: THURSDAY ::
Totally binge-watched the entire second series of Amazon Video’s Transparent, which is definitely one of my favorite shows to have emerged in the past year. If you haven’t seen it a) it’s the story of a (fictional) boho Jewish family in LA coming to terms with the shift in tribal dynamics after the father comes out as trans (“trans-parent,” geddit?), and b) basically clear your diary and get stuck in. Reading this back, it strikes me that it’s essentially a clever, hilarious, emotionally resonant version of the Kardashians – with some really great music, plenty of sex, and copious amounts of medicinal marijuana thrown into the mix.

:: FRIDAY ::
Not quite sure how this happened already, but this is the last weekend you (London crew) can visit the mystical Astrolounge Xmas boutique we curated with the team at Selfridges Oxford St. It’s really been such a special project, and what an amazing opportunity to bring all things Numinous to life…in one of Britain’s most iconic department stores, no less. You can also get your custom birth chart tee printed to order while you wait – oh hello, excellent Xmas gift idea no. 3.

Me at the Selfridges Astrolounge opening in October