Craving sweets at night…

I crave sweets all the time. I’m a sugar addict. It’s the only thing I’m addicted to.  Unfortunately, it’s pervasive and hard to get away from. Being a school teacher has only made it harder to get away from….I keep a bag of starburst in my desk for the kids (that part is my own fault), there’s sweet tea on tap in the teacher’s lounge, french fries at the football games (starchy processed food = sugar, ketchup = sugar), cupcakes or donuts at staff meetings (if I weren’t gluten intolerant, I’d be double fisting)….the list goes on.

I find, though, that I especially crave sweets at night…I’ve popped open my laptop and am double checking tomorrow’s lesson plan, or I’m trying to wrap up grading…and visions of sugar plums start dancing in my head.

Other than giving in (sweet, sweet chocolate)….which I do more often than I’d like…the only thing I’ve found that fixes it is my magical cocktail. The recipe changes depending on what I have in the cupboard, but this is how I like to do it:

2-3 ounces of aloe (note on aloe below)
Up to 4 ounces of beet kvass (which you made yourself and is awesome!) (this is the most optional ingredient)
Eyedropper full of chlorophyll (this is my preferred)

Hearty splash of Apple Cider Vinegar (Bragg’s right now, but I’d like to try making it.)
Teeny squeeze of lemon or lime.
4-8 ounces of water (I just fill the jar the rest of the way.)

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Like so!  Black magic!

For additional fun, drink most of it and then add a heaping tablespoon of psyllium husks….add more water as needed…drink before it congeals.

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A friend of mine was studying to be a nutritionist and my brands of choice were initially strongly influenced by her (and her teacher, of course) but then I went out and tried a bunch of different things (or went looking for what she suggested, couldn’t find it, picked something else)….and then I formed my own opinions.  Which happened to be exactly what she recommended at first.  (Incidentally no brand sponsorships here, I’m not that cool – I just really like this stuff.)

Oh, Aloe.  I’ve tried like 4 million types of aloe and a lot of it was weird or gross, but George’s Aloe is perfect and tastes like water.  Half the wholefoods in the world carry it, the other half can order it…also Amazon has it for decent prices.  Here’s the cheapest right now– although I usually buy larger sizes, it doesn’t go bad.

Also, some kinds of psyllium husks make me gag so bad I can’t swallow them no matter what – it’s awful, but I was told to look for the brand with “the smiling Indian man on it” (conveniently actually called Organic India) and they really are the best.  No gagging!

Bottom’s up!  Do you have a favorite health tonic?  Have you tried anything like this before?  I’m curious to know what you think!

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FIRE CIDER – The People’s Medicine! (recipe always in flux)

A few years ago, a coworker of mine came in with a bottle of fire cider that her mother had sent her and dared all of us to give it a taste….we were nervous at first, especially me, I DO NOT LIKE spicy things…  But I tried it….it was spicy and sweet and complex and it got my blood moving. which is exactly what it’s designed to do!

As soon as I figured out just how easy it is to make, I set out to make my own.  I make it differently every time I do it, although there are some *must have* ingredients in there…I’ll get to that. 🙂

The recipe is based on a number of recipes handed down potentially since the days of the Black Plague, but it’s been perfected and titled by Rosemary Gladstar, a matriarch of the modern herbal community.

It’s an immune booster, a digestive aid, a blood stimulant, a winter warmer, a cold chaser.  It’s a great thing to have around and SUPER easy to make.  You can drink it straight, mix it into juice, put it on a salad, mix it with hot water and honey like a tea (you can also inhale the steam to get your sinuses moving).  It’s pretty magical stuff.

You can watch Rosemary make it and talk about it here:

There are tons of variations on this recipe, but the key ingredients are garlic, onion, horseradish, ginger, cayenne, apple cider vinegar and honey.  You can add other varieties of pepper, peppercorns, turmeric, cinnamon, rose hip, other members of the allium family, citrus, fennel, thyme, lavender, echinacea, parsley…basically if it makes you think: immune boosting, full of vitamin c, warming, blood stirring, or digestive….you can throw it in there.

Today as I was repeatedly strolling the farmer’s market (it was a glorious day here…and anyone who follows me on Instagram saw my silly vintage cape ensemble that I was strolling in)….I kept noticing the brightly colored peppers on all the stalls.  I don’t like spicy food, so I only ever use peppers for fire cider.  I also knew I had ginger at home because of my recent ginger soda endeavors…so I decided to make my first batch of fire cider for the year.

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Current Batch of Fire Cider Includes:

  • 2 small local vidalia onions
  • 1 heirloom cayenne pepper
  • 1 peach habanero pepper
  • a big chunk of horseradish (probably about a half a cup of chopped root)
  • about 6 little chunks of turmeric root (about 1/4 cup of root bits)
  • an orange
  • most of a lemon
  • a 6 inch piece of ginger root
  • about a quarter cup of scallion tops (I had them lying around)
  • two full heads of garlic (pressed)
  • a big chunk of rosemary from the garden
  • an entire bottle of Braggs apple cider vinegar

It’s all chopped up and chucked into a half gallon mason jar.  I’m actually using one of my super vintage ones because it has a glass lid – vinegar tends to corrode the metal ones, which isn’t so nice.  If you’re using one with a metal lid, everyone says to stick a piece of waxed or parchment paper between the lid and the jar.

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Once it’s macerated for 4-6 weeks (and shake that baby occasionally, it does really help), I’ll strain out all the veggie matter and mix in honey to taste.  I actually have a rosebush in my yard that’s going to hip nicely…so I might make a honey/rosehip syrup and mix that in.  The fun part is that you don’t have to adhere to any recipe strictly.  You can make it differently every single time if you want to.

I keep the big bottle in the fridge, but I have a small bottle on my bathroom counter with an eyedropper and I take it if I’m feeling like I’m starting to get sick, if my stomach is upset, or if I’m really cold….or sometimes just for fun.  If I feel like I need a big dose, I mix it into OJ.  I also like to keep a small bottle in my travel bag and take it while I’m traveling…I think it’s better than Airborne.

If you want to read about the current (and really appalling) trademark controversy over fire cider (essentially a corporation has placed a trademark on a folk remedy that isn’t theirs to trademark and has been sending nasty letters to herbalists all over the country to have them change the name of their product), please go here: http://freefirecider.com/  – also consider signing the petition here to revoke this trademark.

Traditions not trademarks!

Labor Day Lavender Mint Lemonade…and Lemon Vinegar Cleaner

Labor Day is that day when we all realize that summer is pretty much over…sigh.  But in honor of our national day of rest, I cooked up a batch of my favorite lemonade…and (because my little cherubs at school are all starting to be sick) I used the lemon peels to make a citrus surface cleaner.  I love multi-tasking.  For about $3 I got a delicious pitcher of lemonade and enough spray cleaner to last me into the new year.  Wanna know how?  Let’s go!

The first step involves your herbs – you can use fresh or dried.  I had fresh lavender in the garden, but wanted to use up some of last year’s dried peppermint.  I gave my lavender a bit of a haircut.  Once the leaves were stripped from the stalk (just like with rosemary, invert and scrape) I had about a quarter cup of little lavender needles and a few flowers.  I grabbed about a cup (not packed too hard) of peppermint leaves from their jar – with dried you always want to use more to make up for the potency lost during the drying process.

Put 5 cups of water in a saucepan – if you’re using sugar, put 2.5 cups of sugar in with it and boil until the sugar dissolves.  If you’re using honey, which I do – I use about a cup and a half of honey and *never* boil honey, it destroys the lovely enzymes in it and is just not necessary.   So for honey – heat the water to almost boiling, remove from heat add the honey and stir until it dissolves.  Then (for both versions) add the herbs, stir until they’re saturated in the syrup, cover and leave covered until cooled.  As with many recipes of this nature, it may only take 30 minutes to cool to room temperature, but the longer you leave it, the stronger the syrup.  I always recommend leaving it overnight.

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Next we make the lemonade part!  You’ll need about a 2lbs of lemons (about a dozen).  Usually when it comes to citrus, you don’t really need to wash them…but because we’re using the peels – I like to give the outsides a little scrub (and take the stickers off).  Halve them and juice them.  I love any excuse to use my vintage citrus juicer!

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Strain the seeds and pulp out of the lemon juice and pour it into a pitcher.  Once the herbal concoction has cooled, strain that into the same pitcher, add 4-5 more cups of water (you might want to spot check it for strength as you go), stir and serve over ice.

If you’re feeling extra fancy, add a shot or so of gin to the mix and garnish with fresh mint. 🙂

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Pictured with my favorite gin….that I will need to figure out where to procure now that I’m not in the northeast!

Making the cleaner is the easy part – pack a mason jar (or jars) with the peels, pour vinegar into jar and let steep for two weeks.  I periodically check to make sure that the vinegar is covering the peels and to agitate it slightly.  Once you’re ready to use it – fill a spray bottle 1/4 full with the infused vinegar and the remaining 3/4 with water (or half and half if you’ve got a really dirty mess on your hands, but I find 1:3 works great).  You can also use citrus vinegar as a base for salad dressing or in cooking.  It’s useful stuff! 🙂

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