Tag Archives: nutrition

Herbal Allies // Ginger, Licorice and Chamomile Tea

IMG_1545

 

I’ve spent the last three early mornings lingering over the breakfast table, laptop, morning books, and empty porridge bowl all pushed aside. Just me in the early morning stillness facing east towards the bright sun shining into my eyes, a big smile on my face. William came in this morning and asked me what I was doing. Chameleon-ing, I told him. I’ve been soaking up as much of the early morning sun and warmth as I can.

We’ve finally been getting a good stretch of sun and warm days here and it feels just about right as May is the best month, to my way of thinking. Given I’ll be making my way into a new decade in a few days, I’ve been figuring a good way to begin my birthday week celebrations is by starting each day basking in the sun with a mug of tea. It feels like the best sort of end of a decade indulgence.

 

IMG_1521IMG_1539IMG_1540

 

The other thing I’ve been doing lately is drinking this ginger, licorice, and chamomile tea. It is usually my evening/after dinner drink of choice as the licorice root is naturally sweet, chamomile is soothing, and ginger is warm and zesty.

In my herbal class last term, we experimented with different methods of making herbal tea. Certain herbs, like flowers or leaves, are better prepared by infusing them in freshly boiled water, as I’ve done here. Others, like roots, will have more of their beneficial constituents released by decocting them in gently simmering water for 15-30 minutes. The thing we learned though, is that though medicinally speaking, some methods of extracting might be better, either way will be fine depending on preference. It is something like the people that pour warm water into a mug and then dunk their tea bag in. When I’m offered tea prepared in this way, I often cringe and hesitantly accept, because it’s not the way I prefer my tea (i.e. strong, long-infused, and exceptionally hot, especially if it’s black/Irish tea). But I understand we all have our personal tastes and what might be ‘wrong’ in the recommended way of things may be just what a person needs.

So going against the grain here, I’ve found that I actually enjoy licorice and dried ginger root prepared in the easy infusion method of pouring boiling hot tea over and letting sit for 10-15 minutes, rather than simmering away on the stove. Luckily for me, the chamomile prefers this method too.

 

IMG_1535

 

I’ve chosen these specific three herbs because they particularly spoke to me to be infused together, but after thinking about their medicinal actions, I came to a good conclusion why:

Ginger // Common fresh or dried ginger is probably my most often used herb/spice, right after cinnamon. It is good in this tea as it is gently warming and pungent, and balances the sweet flavor of the licorice and slightly bitter properties of the chamomile. Freshly grated ginger root can also be used here. Ginger is exceptionally beneficial in controlling inflammation and muscular pain, increases circulation, and also aids in digestion.

Licorice Root // Despite the connotation with licorice candy, licorice root does not taste anything like the red or black ropes I loved to eat as a child. Licorice is an excellent herb for balancing the adrenals, balancing blood sugar, and helping decrease stress and inflammation. It is also soothing to the mucous membranes and GI tract, and makes for a good addition to an evening tea when we are winding down and might be craving extra sweets. Note: licorice should not be taken by those with high blood pressure. 

Chamomile // Chamomile  is an indispensable herb for evenings for so many reasons. Well known as a gentle, calming tea, these delicate yellow flowers help relieve irritability, stress, anxiety, insomnia, upset stomach, and much more.

 

IMG_1542

 

Ginger, Licorice, and Chamomile Tea, makes 1 12-ounce mug
Dried herbs are best purchased in small quantities in bulk from a natural foods store, if you have access. Alternatively, an excellent place to source them online is from Mountain Rose Herbs.

1 Tbs. dried chamomile flowers
1 tsp. dried licorice root
1/2 tsp. dried ginger root

  • Add herbs to a tea ball or basket and then set in a mug or tea pot. Pour 12 ounces freshly boiled water over the herbs, cover or cap the mug or pot, and then allow to infuse for at least 10 minutes and up to four hours. Drink warm or cold.

 


Healing Mineral Broth

IMG_5702

In honor of Earth Day, the Recipe Redux challenged us to show how we reduce food waste. Whatever you would normally toss, use it up. Share tips for reducing food waste in meal planning, prep, or using up scraps. 

One of the things I was most excited about when we bought our house was finally having the ability to compost because I hated having to put all my vegetable scraps in the trash. But I am also the least responsible compost-keeper. I have a one-two pile system going in the last owner’s dog run that I never turn, don’t add enough green to brown material to, and sometimes draw in little rodent creatures, as I’ve created their ideal habitat. It is fairly routine for William to remind me about how I need to turn/do something about my scrap piles and for me to nod along, I know, and then do nothing about it. This is definitely the case of liking the idea of something more than the actual process, and is just one more reason I would have made a terrible farmer.

Thanks in part to learning the benefits of making healing vegetable broth last fall in my cooking class, I’ve slightly reduced my critter-habitat production, as I’ve found another initial use for many of my scraps. But also, our neighborhood cat has now got my back. ;)

The recipe we learned was Rebecca Katz’s Magic Mineral Broth, which she designed to include vegetables that will provide minerals essential for their deep-healing effects. I’ve been given the recommendation time again this past winter to incorporate more broth, as I’ve needed to return to more specific gut-healing and immune-enhancing protocols than just eating my vegetables. Mineral broth is good for that but it is also rich in electrolytes needed for athletic recovery, nutrients essential for bone health, and lots of minerals that just about all of us could use more of.

What’s more, it can be made using vegetable scraps. Lately, that is what I’ve been doing, as I throw the kale, collard, and tough broccoli stalks in the freezer, along with onion, garlic, celery, and carrot bits and pieces until I’ve gotten a good-sized bag. Then I dump it all out into a large pot, add a few good additions along with water, and simmer away for a couple hours.

In addition to making sure my broth includes onions, garlic, or leeks, I always add a good pinch or small handful of kelp or one of its varieties. These are seaweeds that are themselves extremely rich in nutrients, but also add a real umami flavor that enhances the taste. And no, the finished broth does not have a seaweed/seawater flavor.

For more about the specific reasons vegetable broth can be so healing, check out these informative articles by Ally, Aimee and The Salt.

 

IMG_5838

 

Healing Mineral Broth, makes about 10 cups
The broth above is a deep purple because of the addition of purple carrot scraps. Use what you have, but tend for vegetables that will impart a mild flavor (less beets and nightshades, more onions, brassicas, celery, and carrots). Mushrooms would be lovely as well. Add the finished broth to soups, stews, instead of water in cooking grains, or simply for sipping on its own. It is tasty, I promise. 

8-10 cups assorted vegetable scraps
1-2 bay leaves
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves or 2-3 sprigs fresh
A small handful of parsley stems
1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
a good couple pinches of kelp (I’m currently using wakame)
10-12 cups water

  • Add all ingredients to a large pot and bring to a strong simmer. Turn down, cover, and simmer for 2-4 hours, adding water if needed.
  • Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly, and then strain off the scraps (and compost if you can).
  • Store any broth that won’t be used within a couple days in glass jars in the freezer.

recipe-redux-linky-logo


Herbal Allies // Turmeric Lassi

IMG_5324

 

I finished my fourth term in nutrition grad school last Friday. I haven’t shared much about it here but this last winter has been intense. It was the best yet in terms of how much I’ve enjoyed the content and knowledge I’m acquiring. It has been a long haul though and because it coincided with tax season (for William) and spring marathon training for me, life has mostly consisted of attempting to completely fill up my brain with tough biochemical and physiological concepts and then subsequently trying to turn it all off, unplug as much as possible, and just run.

Motivation for any sort of inspired eating kind of went by the wayside. And I never realized how much being able to share just one meal a day with my favorite human is helpful for me to maintain a healthy relationship to food until he worked the craziest hours. Turns out, I’m equally good at doing the same when he wasn’t around to stop me.

It is time for a short stint of rest and focusing on other projects now, for the both of us.

Did I tell you I (of course) chose the longest concentration option of my nutrition program? I am focusing on herbal medicine as a component of clinical nutrition. Back in early 2016, I spoke to why I hadn’t enrolled in the nutrition program at my nearest university and really searched around for one that fit, that merged my interest in herbal medicine, ancient healing modalities such as Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, and had the rigorous scientific component I was craving. The program I ended up with fits me so well. I’ve pretty much loved every class, even as the content has gotten much more technical. The herbal classes, while still plenty intensive, have been welcome to continue engaging in creativity with the content I’m learning during this time.

One of the practicing herbalists in my program taught me early on that specific herbs will speak to us, we will develop an affinity for them, and we should trust that. Cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric are my little trinity that ‘speak to me’ the most and I find myself adding them to meals and drinks on a fairly daily basis. I’ve shared about them more than once before in Turmeric Ginger Seed + Nut Bars, Tahini, Date + Turmeric Bars, and my Good Energy Maca Latte.

Now that the weather has warmed a bit too, I’m more inclined to incorporate cooler, smoothie-type snacks and mini-meals into my routine. This Turmeric Lassi is my longtime go-to smoothie when I feel like I need a refresh/mix up in my eating patterns, and I often reach for it during an interchange of seasons. With this stint between school trimesters and welcoming William back to regular dinners at home, it’s definitely a new season for us.

 

IMG_4541

 

So what is so great about the common herbs/spices in this recipe?

Cinnamon // While most of us know cinnamon as the comforting and feel-good spice for baked goods, there’s actually a fair bit of evidence to suggest cinnamon can be used in higher, medicinal doses to improve blood sugar imbalance in type 2 diabetics. That isn’t why I enjoy it, however. I like it because it is warming, stimulating, and improves circulation. Plus, it simply tastes and smells delicious.

Ginger // Common fresh or dried ginger is exceptionally beneficial in controlling inflammation and muscular pain, increases circulation, and also aids in digestion. Like cinnamon, it is a warming and pungent spice, and I particularly enjoy it both through the winter and on chilly spring days.

Turmeric //  One of the current “superfoods,” turmeric has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine. Much of the recent research points to it as a highly beneficial nearly catch-all herb, but it is most often associated with controlling inflammation and therefore improving joint and muscular health. The thing about turmeric that is not often shared, however, is that the beneficial curcumin compound it contains is exceptionally difficult to become bio-available in the body. Taking it with a small amount of ground black pepper and with another ingredient that contains fat helps turmeric work its magic in our systems.

Rosehips // The berries from wild dog roses are among nature’s richest and most-potent sources of Vitamin C, the vitamin we all associate with improving the immune system and warding off illness. It is a good herb to add in any time physical or mental stress is high.

 

Turmeric Lassi, makes 1
The spices here are in a higher, more medicinal dose than might be used in a standard smoothie recipe. I enjoy them but if you’re a little wary, begin with less and add more as desired. Though I make this with either applesauce or a banana, (and sometimes both instead of yogurt), I enjoy this more with applesauce. Using a banana will result in a sweeter smoothie if that’s more your interest. The photo above has a teaspoon of elderberry syrup swirled in for even more immune-enhancing effects. Elderberry is a tasty option for including if you feel a seasonal cold coming on. 

3/4 cup unsweetenened applesauce or 1 frozen banana
3/4 cup unsweetened plain coconut yogurt
1/2 – 3/4 tsp. ground ginger
1 – 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
dash of ground black pepper
1 tsp. rosehips powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. chia seeds
1 oz. fresh lemon juice (about 1/4 of a large lemon)
sweetener to taste, if needed (honey, maple syrup, powdered stevia leaves, etc.)
1 tsp. elderberry syrup, optional

  • Add all the ingredients to a food processor and puree until smooth. Serve immediately or chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour to allow the chia seeds to thicken it up a bit for a smoothie bowl.

%d bloggers like this: