There are five types of brain waves that correspond to different kinds of consciousness. Beta, alpha, theta, delta and gamma, listed in decreasing frequency, that is slower oscillations. Specifically, alpha waves (7.5-14 Hz) are akin to a car cruising slowly on a highway so that one may still enjoy the scenery without it being too much of a blur. This state of mind is associated with with relaxed alertness, creativity, peak performance, imagination and intuition. In creative fields such as photography, design, writing and even conceiving, we want to put ourselves in the alpha state for maximum productivity. I find that this usually happens mid-morning on my way to work, shifting from theta to alpha mode, when most ideas bloom.
It was in this way that the idea for a lime and lemongrass-flavoured energy bar was conceived. I was so impressed by my Travel Turtle bars I made for my trip to Hanoi that I decided to launch a new project – the Rainbow Energy Cake project. Yup, energy cakes, not bars, because that’s what unique about the presentation which is sandwich-like. Honestly, have you ever seen a three-tiered energy bar?
I felt like exploring new flavours in energy bars because the standard date and nuts combination is boring. Sticking to a color theme of green, this one had hemp protein in the oat and banana layers which are held together with flax gel and coconut nectar, and a center filling of avocado, spirulina and dried figs infused with lime, lemongrass and ginger juice. I was not sure how to handle the lemongrass initially to extract the juice as most online guides call for boiling it for tea. So I just whacked it (pun intended) and squeezed it dry. It worked! Finally there is also hemp seeds and sprouted pumpkin seeds (Go Raw brand purchased online from iHerb) thrown in for the crunch factor.
The taste of the tart lemongrass was palpable but not as strong as I hoped to be, perhaps diluted by the sweetness of the dried figs. I would use more lemongrass juice next time. This was also not as sweet as the Travel Turtle bars which filling was of dried fig paste. As for its nutritional value, the acid from the lime juice helps to break down phytate and soften the rolled oats. In addition, citral, the active ingredient in lemongrass, is known for its antibacterial and antifungal properties, and has been shown to be effective against skin conditions such as acne and candida. In an Israeli research, citral extracts, in concentrations comparable to a cup of tea prepared with 1 gram of lemongrass, was able to induce apoptosis or cell death selectively in human leukemia and breast cancer cells. Cytotoxicity was not present in normal cells. Pretty cool stuff that makes me want to return to wet lab research.
I have also been researching on packaging ideas for gift-giving or even bringing it to the market. I got my hands on kraft paper, hemp twine and jute twine today and will test the wrapping on the next batch.
- 1 cup (100 grams) rolled oats
- ½ medium (60 grams) banana
- 1 scoop (15 grams) hemp protein powder
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon coconut nectar or other liquid sweetener
- 1 tablespoon ground flax meal
- 1½ tablespoons water
- ½ tablespoon lime juice
- 1 ripe avocado
- Juice of 8 stalks lemongrass (about ½ tablespoons)
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 2 dried figs, soaked
- ½ teaspoon spirulina powder
- ¼ cup sprouted pumpkin seeds
- 2 tablespoons hemp hearts
- 2 tablespoons coconut butter, melted
- First make the oat, hemp and banana layers. Prepare a flax gel by whisking together the flax meal with water and lime juice. Let stand for 20 minutes to gel.
- After 20 minutes, in a food processor, place the rolled oats, banana, ginger powder, coconut nectar and flax gel and pulse a few times to form a sticky dough.
- Press out the dough to ½-inch thick into a non-stick or stoneware baking dish or tray. It will only fill a small portion (about) half the dish.
- Return the dish to the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to harden.
- To extract lemongrass juice, trim the bulbous ends of the lemongrass stalks and remove the outer portion to reveal a pale green inner core. Using a meat tenderizer or pestle, pound the lemongrass stalks until the fibres split. Using a wringing motion, squeeze out the juice into a cup.
- In a food processor, add the avocado, lemongrass juice, lime juice, ginger, dried figs and spirulina powder and process to form a smooth cream. Transfer out into a medium bowl.
- Stir in pumpkin seeds and hemp hearts.
- Remove the baking dish from the refrigerator and spread the avocado spirulina creme over the oat, banana and hemp layers. Using a sharp knife dipped into hot water, slice the layers vertically into two and then horizontally into four or five, depending on your size preference. Place two layers end-on-end to form energy "cakes."
- Drizzle with melted coconut butter. Return the baking dish to the refrigerator to set. Store in an air-tight container for up to a week.
Add more lemongrass juice for a stronger flavour.