Thursday, December 22, 2011

Balm for the Holidays

 Originally I posted this on my old photography blog as a week of love activity but today I'm using it for some Christmas gifts.
This is the originally post:

Day Two
I know there is more than just one "loved one." I wanted to find a way to appreciate the women dear to me by making them a little something to remind them that they are loved and adored this week - lip balm (and/or hand salve recipe).
These winter months can be damaging to our skin. Lips and hands need a little love this week - pamper them with this recipe.
Clockwise from top left: Jojoba oil, coconut oil, castor oil, and beeswax pellets.
I chose castor oil for its penetrating qualites, jojoba for its absorption and molecular stability (longer shelf life), coconut oil for its delicious smell and moisturizing properties, and beeswax to solidify the balm. For essential oils, I added clove EO, orange EO, rosemary EO, and carrot seed EO (wonderful skin-nourishment in carrotseed). These essential oils are immune-boosting, perfect for getting through flu season. Some other delicious blends would be mint and lavender or lemon and rose. If this is for the man in your life (great for chapped, hard-working hands), clove and black pepper are wonderful as well.
All these ingredients can be found at your local health store (although you may have to grate the beeswax) or you can buy them at Mountain Rose Herbs.

Lip Balm.
2 rounded tblspn coconut oil
1 tblspn jojoba oil
1 tblspn castor oil
1 tblspn beeswax
10 drops Essential Oil (optional)
Melt all ingredients except for essential oil in double boiler. Once completely melted and clear, remove from heat, add essential oil, and stir. Pour into clean tins.
Also if you are making this in summer months, add another tspn of beeswax otherwise the product may melt due to its softness.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cinnamon Hibiscus Tea for the Holidays

The holiday season can frankly be a drag. It's not hard to get overwhelmed planning, shopping, baking, visiting with family. Even good stress can overwhelm the body and when overwhelmed, this is the perfect tea to savor. It's even pretty enough to serve at your next holiday gathering! 

Both hibiscus and lemon balm are folk remedies to help soothe nerves. Hibiscus is high in Vitamin C and antioxidants (just look at that lovely color), helping ward off colds that we are more susceptible during these wintry days. It also contains hydroxycitric acid (HCA) which scientific studies prove that stops the conversion of carbohydrates in food to body fat and can also discourage appetite. Since holiday season is frequently laiden with cookies, sweet breads, and treats, this is the perfect time to indulge in some herbal tea!

Hibiscus flower tea is usually served cold with tons of sweetener due to its tartness in places like Mexico and Latin America. This summer, I drank my fair share of hibiscus with agave nectar over ice. However in this recipe, I include cinnamon and licorice root as a natural sweetener and forgo any caloric sweetness.
 Lemon Balm is well-known in the herbal world, dating back to ancient times where they used it to treat any disorder of the central nervous system. This herb is extremely calming to the nerves. It has been used to help treat sleeping disorders - I included it in a sleep tea I made for Christmas two years ago. Tincture of Lemon Balm can also be very restorative for those women dealing with post-partum depression.

 Cinnamon Hibiscus Tea
3 heaping tablespoons Hibiscus flowers
1 tablespoon lemon balm
1 cinnamon stick
2 slices of licorice root

1. Boil filtered water.
2. Pour over herbs and let steep fifteen minutes for best nourishment and to enjoy all the herbal properties of each plant.
3. Strain and enjoy!

This is delicious iced with or without sparkling water as well as hot.

All herbs can be found at your local health food store. You may already have some in your pantry or growing in your yard during the summer! I harvested lemon balm from my husband's Granny's garden this summer. There is nothing quite like enjoying your own harvested herbs. They always have more flavor.

May you have a Hibiscus Holiday!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Simple Chai

There are very few things that are more wonderful than a delicious cup of spicy Chai on a blustery day.

Besides being absolutely delicious, Chai is also a multi-tasker! The Ginger helps to increase circulation and aid in digestion (great for nausea) as well as being detoxifying. Cloves can help relieve stomach or tooth pain and strengthen the immune system, killing intestinal parasites. Cardamom helps relieve gas and can be soothing for bronchial problems. Black Peppercorns has antibacterial properties. Cinnamon also aids digestion when stagnant and can be great for indigestion and cramping (Nursing Mothers be careful of cinnamon as it can be the culprit for acid reflux in little ones). It is also can help fight fungal, bacterial, and parasitic infections.
Commercial Chai concentrates can contain a lot of sugar, some preservatives, and additives. Creating your own can be easy and so much more beneficial for you. Plus it's super easy and you can tinker the recipe however you like!

5-6 slices of fresh ginger
3 Cinnamon sticks
16 pods of cardamom, popped
12-20 black peppercorns (more peppercorns = more spicy)
14 Cloves
1 tbspn looseleaf black tea or 2 black tea bags (or green tea or roiboos tea for no caffeine)
8 cups water

Milk (or Dairy-free milk)

1. In saucepan, boil water with all ingredients except black tea then simmer for 15-30 minutes, depending on strength desired.
2. Take off stove and steep black tea for 3-5 minutes.
3. Drain through fine-mesh seive. Enjoy! Add milk and honey to taste.

VOILA! You have now created your very own delicious chai! Enjoy it's delicious spicy depths!

Some very fun ingredients to add can be allspices berries, star anise, rose petals, white or pink peppercorns, fennel, licorice root, and nutmeg. You have full creative license to create your own blend of scrumptious chai.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Alisa Lewis and I are bringing you a week of delicious drinks starting over at her blog Alisa's Garden! Check them out and don't forget to comment and look back tomorrow for another recipe!

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