Think vanilla is basic? Called someone vanilla because you think they have no flavor? Vanilla often plays second fiddle to chocolate and I have and after looking into vanilla, this little pod is rather complex.
Vanilla is a flavor that comes from the only fruit bearing orchid that exists and literally translated from Spanish “vainilla” means “little pod.” You can buy vanilla in it’s sun dried pod form, as powder (which is literally the inside of the pod just scraped out and SUPER expensive), paste or as extract. The extract is made from the beans soaked in things like alcohol or glycerin mixed with water.
We know vanilla most commonly in the form of ice cream or extract, but it goes way beyond as it’s warming, well rounded and adds a sweetness to anything in which it is added. It also contains the electrolyte trio potassium, magnesium, calcium and some manganese. The latter helps with mood, metabolism, brain and nervous system function.
Which brings us to vanilla is referred to as an aphrodisiac. Ever wonder why you get all hot and bothered when you smell chocolate chip cookies baking? Just me? Now you know! That smell makes people feel instantly at ease, elevates their mood and mouths water. In TCM, vanilla is said to bring love and happiness into a home. It has a calming, soothing effect and is also said to help aid in sleep. I’ve not tried that, so I can’t say.
All in all, I’m pretty impressed.
Still think of vanilla as the side piece to chocolate?
Vanilla Coconut Whipped Cream – makes 1 cup
1 can of full fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight (I used @wholefoods organic)
1 tbsp powdered sugar
1 tbsp arrowroot powder
1 vanilla bean, scraped
Place a metal bowl and whisks from hand mixer in the freezer for at least 15 minutes before making whipped cream
Place fat from coconut milk and all other ingredients in the bowl
Whip together on high speed for about a minute. You will notice it starts to thicken/become creamy
Serve and try not to eat it all before serving