'Tis the season for Reflection, Love and Lemon Friends

Lemon Tarts
Lemon Tarts

I went to Bali a few years ago to do some yoga (new years resolution No. 1) and was inspired to take the amazing outlook, and seemingly never-ceasing smiles of the local people and gain a bit of introspection on my own lifestyle. It is always important to be able to stop, and try and view yourself and your lifestyle from an outside perspective (it’s hard, but extremely rewarding and clarifying).

Ubud is an artists village and resort in the hills of Bali. The residents there have lived in the area since the beginning of time and spiritual practices come before rice growing, eating, working and anything else. Everyone walks at half the pace of a New Yorker, not slow - just aware. Everybody smiles, except perhaps the odd foreigner who is struggling with the humidity, but even they will forget the discomfort after a few days and smile along with all the others.

I was in Ubud to give a kick start to practicing yoga on a regular basis, again. For the past twenty years, I have intermittently practiced various forms of yoga, but never regularly. At forty-four(ish) I figure I might have another forty years to go, and I want these to be the best ever. You know when someone asks you what you would do if you could be twenty-five again and knew everything you know now, how much difference it would make? Well, I gather being around forty or so is the ideal opportunity to be twenty-five again (even if it is only a mental projection) and ‘do’ life with the knowledge I have now. My aim is to feel better at fifty than I felt at twenty-five (Whether 40 or 50 or 60 the same can apply).

So, let's say I have gone to sleep and wake up in the morning and I’m twenty-five and I remember everything; my brain is forty-four. I know that at around thirty I am going to get severe Ulcerative Colitis, and I will be spending the following ten years wondering whether my life is worth living. I realise I can’t control everything in my life, but here I have been given a chance to make a big difference to my health in the future. What would you do?

This is what I would do (keeping in mind, I know what I know)

Stop drinking alcohol

Stop smoking

Party not as hardy

Eat healthier (moderating my diet with the SCD)

Practice yoga

See a therapist


Now, let's get back to the present day and apply the above projection to the future we have left. The mirror might not allow us to pretend that we are twenty-five, but the principle can still be applied. Most of us have at least twenty years left, to do the best we can and feel better than ever. Thankfully, I gave up smoking many many years ago, I don’t drink anymore, I eat much healthier (SCD) and do not ‘party hardy’. I am fulfilling New Years resolution No. 1 by practicing yoga regularly (which includes meditation; and my therapist is working on the emotional healing I still have to do). And yet there is more to add to the process of healing and something we rarely think of either at twenty-five or in our later life - loving ourselves! I have always cringed when I have heard this term. It sounded self-possessed and just far too ‘touchy-feely’. Which brings me back to Bali....

The Balinese have an obvious love for themselves. As a matter of fact they love themselves so much that it spills over on to everyone around them. I finally got it: “You have to love yourself before you can love others” meaning that you have to love yourself so much that you always have more than enough love to give to others.

So how does this relate to health you ask? Well, scientists have proven many times over that a happy organism is a healthy organism. Our body will tell us if we are doing the right thing by ourselves. That bottle of wine might have made us happy for a few hours one night, but the next day we are feeling miserable. Loving ourselves is taking care of ourselves, the way you would take care of a vulnerable child. Those of us suffering from severe digestive disorders need to understand that food is the first step, lifestyle the second, physical health the third and emotional health the fourth. No matter which one of these comes first, all of them add up to loving oneself and when it starts to spill over? Pass some on to the next person.

This is my favourite (loving-myself) recipe

The recipe is for ten of these delectable tarts, giving you the ability to treat (and love) yourself for the next ten days (two) . Make sure you are alone in your favourite spot in the house; a cup of tea and only the thought that you truly and thoroughly deserve this.

Lemon Tarts

Makes 10 Tart Shells

200 g (2 cups) almond flour

½ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

30 g butter – cold, diced small

2 Tbs honey

Lemon Filling

6 egg yolks

225 g (¾ cup) honey

120 ml (½ cup) fresh lemon juice

110 g (½ cup) butter – diced

1 Tbs grated lemon rind

Preheat the oven to 200˚C/390˚F

Lightly oil 10 aluminium tart moulds

Combine the almond flour with the baking soda and salt.

Add the butter and honey and knead to combine. Do not worry if some of the butter still shows in the dough.

Form the dough into a flat disk and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Then take the dough from the refrigerator and place between two sheets of baking paper.

Roll the dough out thin, about 3 mm/⅛ inch thick.

Cut out rounds, slightly larger than the tart moulds and mould the dough into the shells.

Place onto a baking tray and bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, until they are baked through and slightly brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

Meanwhile prepare the filling by placing a heatproof bowl over the top of a pot filled a quarter of the way up with water.

Bring to boil then turn down the heat to a simmer.

Whisk the egg yolks and honey in the bowl until well combined.

Then add one chunk of butter at a time, whisking constantly.

Add the next chunk when the first has melted. Add lemon juice and rind and keep mixing. This will take about 15 minutes and it helps to use an electric mixer on slow to keep mixing constantly.

Keep mixing once all the butter has been used until the filling has thickened.

Remove from the heat and let cool down to room temperature.

Then fill the cooled down tart shells and place in the refrigerator to set.

Refrigerate in a covered container.

Desserts, Flog, RecipesSandra Ramacher