Failsafe cashew-carob paste

From The Failsafe Cookbook, p. 187, ‘Deborah’s Cashew Paste’ with carob variation.

I halved the quantities, so I used:

1/2 cup raw cashews
approx. 2 tbs canola oil
1/2 tbs carob powder
1 tsp caster sugar

Put cashews in blender, blend briefly. Add carob powder and sugar. Add oil a little at a time and blend until the desired consistency is reached. Use as sandwich spread as a Nutella substitute.



1) Bought organic raw cashews from Eat Organic. A pack (seems like just over 1 cup) cost S$12 but tastes very fresh, unlike a lot of commercial raw nuts which have a raw and stale taste.

2) I bought toasted carob powder from Organic Paradise, S$3.70 for 250g (Eat Organic doesn’t sell carob, I was rather surprised.). There was a choice of raw or toasted. I wonder if there is any difference between the two for Failsafers?

3) Reduced the amount of sugar in recipe – have done so for all recipes in The Failsafe Cookbook and found the result more than sweet enough. In any case, carob doesn’t have the bitter overtones of pure cocoa so tastes sweeter, and hence less sugar is needed when replacing cocoa with carob.

4) End result tastes very nice, and strangely enough, tastes like banana!?!

5) *WARNING* the cashew-carob paste is terribly heaty/yang! I tasted 1/4 tsp and my throat started to hurt immediately. I will just have to save this for special treats and consume in tiny amounts. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised because of the concentrated nuts and oil. My guess is that carob is not as heaty as real cocoa but my guess is that it is still on the heaty end of the scale, and the fact that I used toasted carob must have made it even more yang.

Moral of the story: Failsafe eating may avoid certain nasty food reactions but doesn’t mean it’s good for you in terms of having a balancing constitution in Traditional Chinese Medicine terms *sigh*……

Cooling properties of tea

At yesterday’s Chinese tea appreciation class, there were questions about Japanese cold teas and cold-brewing techniques, to which the teacher responded that her personal view is that cold tea is not worth drinking! She’d rather drink orange juice! I have to say that I beg to differ (as you can tell from my many posts on cold teas.)

However the teacher did raise an important point: unfermented/green teas are inherently cooling in nature, so by drinking them cold, it makes them even more yin. For people with a yin constitution this is not very good. I suppose if you have a yang constitution the cooling tea should be beneficial?

Also I was surprised to find out that I’m not the only one who is so sensitive to tea. One classmate and the teacher herself mentioned stomach pain from too much tannin, and drinking tea on an empty stomach. Anyway, I was relieved to survive the class this week with no pain (salicylate intolerance improving? I ate a buttery waffle just before class? We made less rounds of tea?).

Tea, caffeine & one’s constitution pt. 2

I have just started attending a short course in Chinese tea appreciation. Among the many things the teacher talked about, two areas related directly to my earlier postings on this blog about caffeine and one’s body constitution.

On caffeine
Chinese green teas (classified as unfermented) have the highest level of caffeine. Therefore they are best drunk in the morning.

Pu-Er tea, which undergoes the longest fermentation (it is often left to age for years and decades), has the lowest caffeine and can be drunk in the evenings. The older the Pu Er, the lower the caffeine.

One’s constitution
The tea appreciation instructor, when she sells tea, will always ask who the tea is for, and about the age, health and lifestyle of the person drinking the tea. This information will enable her to recommend a suitable tea.

For example, if you tend to cough and often feel cold (does that indicate a yin constitution?), you should not drink too much green tea. Pu Er tea is more suitable.

She also corroborated my own stand on this – you know best your own constitution so you need to make sure that you choose suitable teas. This of course begs the question, how do we know what our own constitution is? I suppose the answer is to learn more about Traditional Chinese Medicine. Muscle testing, as used in applied kinesiology, is also a good skill to help us test our own condition.

Korean Roasted Corn Tea

I’d never heard of oksusu-cha before, and simply chanced upon it in the new Korean grocery shop in Square 2 mall at Novena.


Close-up of the roasted barley grains.

Surfing the net, I’ve also just learnt that in Korea, it’s common to mix roasted barley (bori-cha; Japanese: mugicha) with roasted corn to make tea.

My Korean friend tells me that the packet says “Yu-Gi-Nong” (my rudimentary knowledge of hangul tells me that they are the biggest words in the centre of the packet), which can be written in Chinese characters as 有機農 – i.e. organic agriculture.

This website also lists the product I bought as organic, and states the health benefits of roasted corn tea as:

1) Fatigue relief.
2) Reduce high blood pressure.
3) Ease the stomach pain resulting from digestion

Apparently, Korean teas are very different from Chinese and Japanese teas because of the focus on medicinal benefits and the effects on qi. Here’s a page about different kinds of Korean teas. Here’s another article which explains that the establishment of Confucianism as the national religion in the Chosun Dynasty (1392-1910), and corresponding suppression of Buddhism, was the reason for the diminished popularity of camellia sinensis teas, because production of the latter was closely tied to Buddhist temples.

However, besides barley and corn, rice and wheat can also be used to make roasted grain teas, and you can roast them yourself at home. This article tells you how to do so, and also describes the health benefits associated with each type of roasted grain tea.

Roasted grain beverages are common not only in Korea, but also much closer to home. Our Indonesian domestic helper tells me that in her home village, to make the coffee last longer, they roast corn and rice, then grind it and mix it with the coffee and it has a lovely fragrance. No wonder she was so tickled to see the packet of Korean oksusu-cha when I brought it home.

Here are instructions how to brew the roasted corn tea:
A final word of warning: if brewed really strong, oksusucha can be a speedy laxative!

Tea and your constitution

Just as each individual needs to discover his or her own level of caffeine tolerance, it’s also important to know the state of your body’s constitution to determine what kind of tea and how much you should drink.

I’m trying to find out more about tea and the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) concepts of heaty/cooling/damp/dry.

According to macrobiotics, all teas are yin, but houjicha and kukicha are more neutral. The teacher from the Chinese tea appreciation class I attended also warned us that tea is very yin, so those with yin constitutions should drink in moderation. She also pointed out that drinking tea cold made it even more yin. Among Chinese teas, Pu Erh tea is the most neutral.

This page on the side-effects of green tea points out that the way the tea is handled also affects its properties. In TCM, tea left to go cold is ‘damp’ and causes phlegm, while drinking tea on an empty stomach causes ‘coldness’ to enter the lung & stomach system.

Related posts on this blog:
Tea, caffeine & one’s constitution pt. 2
Cooling properties of tea

plus other posts on tea.