Mellow Kudzu Elixir

MAKES 1 SERVING
PREP TIME: 3 minutes
COOK TIME: 5 minutes

If this were the 1960s, I’d call this the “ohmmmmm” elixir, as kudzu root has a way of eliciting a meditative state. Now, we’d just call it “chill,” because that’s certainly what kudzu does in this drink, thickening spiced apple juice slightly to a silky consistency. This is a variation of the tried and true recipe by my mentor, Annemarie Colbin, who was looking for ways to make puddings that didn’t require milk or eggs, and turned to kudzu. It thickens the same way as cornstarch does—by being dissolved in a cold liquid and then heated while you stir it. After a few days of eating it for breakfast, she began to realize she was feeling exceedingly mellow and sleeping really well. And you didn’t hear this from me, but this elixir makes for a heckuva hangover remedy.

1 1/2 tablespoons kudzu root powder
1 cup cold unfiltered apple juice
1/8 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a small pot, mix the kudzu into the cold apple juice, stirring until dissolved. Stir in the ginger, vanilla, and cinnamon, then turn the burner on and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the liquid thickens and becomes translucent, about 5 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

VARIATIONS: For a cozy and soothing pudding that’s closer to Annemarie’s original recipe, leave out the ginger and cinnamon and increase the amount of kudzu to 2 tablespoons. For a more nutrient-dense pudding, swirl 1 tablespoon of tahini into the mixture as soon as it thickens.