In Ayurveda the bitter taste is as important as sweet. They form a duality – one cannot exist without the other, bitter is the Yang to the sweet taste’s Yin. Each also enhances the other. E.g. Think about how much sweeter something sweet would taste after you have a sliver of bitter and sour grapefruit. While the effect of something sweet is nourishing and cooling – literally nourishing our blood plasma and tissues, too much sweetness can make a body limp and soft. An example of the sweet taste is sweetened yoghurt or probably what is more typical: a hyper sweet candy bar that you find by the droves in North America.
In contrast the bitter taste is awakening and enlivening (in moderation). It is purifying and cleansing in balance, but too much bitter can literally make us bitter – emotionally and mentally, and fill us with a hatred for life. For food, say the Ayurveda teachers, does not just impact us physically, it also has much more subtle effects on our minds and our emotional state.
The six tastes in Ayurveda are sweet, astringent, sour, salty, pungent and bitter. More on this in another post. What I am interested in today is talking about how we don’t have enough of the bitter or pungent tastes in life. Culturally, we want the instant gratification of sweet. A typical fast food meal adds in sour and salty as well, all tastes that increase our physical and emotional appetites for MORE of everything. Does this surprise you, especially in a culture that is so outwardly seeking and all about more, as in more is better?
But if we include the tastes we are less likely to be drawn toward, such as bitter and pungent, we may find a greater appreciation of the depth of life in all its facets. We may also find that we are able to deal with the bitterness of life, sadness, grief, loss with more ease and grace.
How do you do this? Start to pay attention to how you feel after you eat certain foods and certain tastes and record those observations, mentally or in a journal.
This is the first step toward changing your habits and it can be exciting and transformative. It will also take some time. Think about this exercise as one that moves at the speed of a tortoise, not that of a hare!
What better way to taste the bittersweet than with some delicious raw cacao truffles? These are the easiest chocolates I know how to make. They are perfect for the holiday season and make beautiful, home-made gifts. Thanks to Judy Chambers of Dynamic by Nature for this recipe that I have used for years! The spices here help to add both warmth as well as pungency and bitterness to the sweetness of the coconut oil and nuts, while the maca adds some bitterness and depth. Meanwhile, the raw cacao itself is the bitter taste that we mask completely so often. Adjust the sweetness to your taste and I would suggest, lean toward the bitter. Enjoy.
Raw Cacao Superfood Truffles
1 cup: Raw cacao powder
1 tbsp: Gelatinized maca
1 cup: unsweetened shredded coconut, or raw cashews, ground
1/2 cup: Virgin cold pressed coconut oil
1/2 tsp: himalayan salt or unrefined sea salt
1 tsp: cinnamon, cardamom or ginger powder. (I like to use all 3, ground up very fine), I also like to add a small amount of black pepper
1/2 vanilla bean pod, scraped
1. In a small sauce pan, warm coconut oil just until liquid.
2. In a medium bowl, combine all remaining ingredients, then whisk in liquid coconut oil and thoroughly blend.
3. Pour chocolaté mixture onto a non-stick or greased baking cookie sheet with rim, or a loaf pan lined with wax paper. Alternatively, you can also pour the mixture into a silicone ice cube tray.
4. Place in a freezer for a least one hour until frozen solid. Once frozen, remove from tray and cut into squares or diamonds, or pop the truffles from the silicone tray.
5. Place in an air tight container and store in a cold fridge or freezer.
The truffles will keep up to a month. Enjoy a balanced serving of this bitter sweet goodness.
And lastly, do write in. How do you balance sweetness and bitterness in your life? In your food? In your emotions? What are your strategies to find balance? Have a beautiful weekend.