My goal is not to stress over the holidays. Winter is supposed to be a time of rest, nourishment, and quiet times. And the way I de-stress over the busy holiday season is to make magic in the kitchen. Today I am sharing one of my favorite anti-stress holiday treats: Holiday Bliss Balls.
What makes these holiday treats so blissful, you may ask. It’s the fact that they are loaded with a powerful adaptogen herb called ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is a shrub that grows in India, as well as in North America, and has been used as an herbal remedy for hundreds of years. Numerous modern studies have found that ashwagandha shows great promise for being effective in reducing inflammation, decreasing stress, increasing mental activity, invigorating the body, and as an antioxidant.
What exactly is an adaptogen?
An adaptogen is an herb that increases the bodies ability to adapt to stress and changing situations. Without being over-stimulating or inhibiting normal body function, these plants have a normalizing effect on the body. They are tonifying and balancing. By definition, they are non-toxic, have a “non-specific” activity, increasing the resistance of your entire body rather than any specific organ, and promote homeostasis in the body. Specifically, adaptogens recharge the adrenal glands, which are the body’s mechanism for responding to stress and emotional changes. Isn’t that awesome? Couldn’t we all use a little help balancing and supporting our poor, over-worked adrenals.
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwa-what? Ashwagandha. Pronounced Osh-wa-gan-da. I love this herb. I discovered it while studying Ayurveda several years ago. It is such a gentle but powerful adaptogenic. I love to use it in food. I love to make tea with it. And I especially love to make treats with it.
Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic herb that is best known for it’s restorative benefits. It is commonly used to calm and soothe the nervous system, to enhance resistance to stress, for refreshing the mind, and for boosting endurance, stamina, and sexual energy. (yes, these balls could leave you feeling a little frisky!)
This particular recipe calls for a little less than an ounce of ashwagandha powder. You can usually buy it at your local herb shop by the ounce or order it online in bulk.
So, if you are needing a little bit of help battling the stress of the holidays or could use a little extra boost to your mood and endurance, these delicious little bliss balls are for you. Along with the ashwagandha, I have added warming and sweet spices to add to their potent punch.
Cinnamon: Sweet and heating; Increases sweating and detox through the skin.
Ginger: Pungent, sweet, and heating; cardiac tonic, promotes appetite and assists digestion, and improves absorption and assimilation.
Cardamom: Pungent, sweet, and heating; good for the heart, promotes digestion, and a great sweet substitute.
Garam Masala: Pungent and heating; antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
Raw Cacao: technically not a spice but a powerful anti-oxidant. And delicious to boot!
These little balls are super versatile. You can make them plain and simple. Each little bite will be a powerhouse of spice and vitality. Or add some anti-inflammatory, protein, and mineral rich pumpkin seeds or some fruit-sweetened dried cranberries. My sweetie loves them dusted with raw cacao. And my favorite is to roll them in shredded coconut.
Holiday Bliss Balls
- Yield: makes 30- 40 blissful balls
- 1 cup almond butter
- 1/3 cup raw honey (I use this one)
- 1 TBS vanilla extract
- 1 TBS cacao (like this) or unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 TBS ashwaganda powder (like this)
- 1 TBS cinnamon powder
- 1 TBS ginger powder
- 1 TBS cardamom powder
- 1 tsp garam masala (like this)
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
- dried cranberries (like this)
- shredded coconut
- more cacao or cocoa for dusting
- Mix all spices and cacao (or cocoa) together in a small bowl. Set aside.
- In a larger bowl, combine almond butter, vanilla extract, and honey until creamy smooth. Add the spice mixture and mix until well combined.
- Add optional pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries here if desired. Then roll into desired sized balls. I like to make them pretty small as each little bliss ball is pretty potent.
- Roll in shredded coconut or dust with more cacao (or cocoa).
- When feeling stressed OR when you just want a little ball of bless, pop one or two in your mouth and ENJOY!