Lavender tea's delicate, aromatic flavour drifts you to a good night's sleep. Here's why + a sleepy time tea recipe
We love our lavender, don't we? It's one of the most loved fragrances in the world, known for its restful calming effects, making it an essential in a sleepy time tea. Move over chamomile, make room for lavender!
Lavender tea is made from the fresh or dried buds of the Lavender flower, Lavendula angustifolia. Originating in the Mediterranean, it is now cultivated all over the world, including in my garden! Lavender brings a distinctive flavour and aromatic fragrance to foods. My son, Javid, flavours the most delicious ice creams with it; his gal Bri likes to flavour cakes and icing with it; and we make a simple syrup to add to drinks. Gin and lavender tonics anyone? I also use Lavender in my body care products for its calming scent and capacity to maintain clear skin complexioned boost cellular health. And I use it in a tea blend I make for a relaxed night's sleep. Between care taking of Thom and the garden, running all things Free Lion and being there for my boyz-to-men as required, I find getting a solid sleep can make all the difference to my day ahead.
But let's get back to talking tea. Lavender is a herb and a member of the mint, oregano and rosemary family. So it comes by its health benefits honestly. But what can a lavender tea do for you?
1. Improve Sleep
Lavender induces calm. Its relaxing effects can help improve sleep and be used to help you get there. According to Health Canada, Canadians are not getting enough sleep. 1 in 2 adults have trouble going to sleep or staying asleep; 1 in 5 adults do not find their sleep refreshing; and 1 in 3 adults are having trouble staying awake during the day. Health Canada puts this trend down to sedentary lifestyles and chronic stress. Not a surprise, given everything we're having to deal with these days. Enter Lavender Tea!
Drinking Lavender tea before bed can help you achieve a more restful sleep. According to a sleep study in Taiwan conducted with women post partum, Lavender tea helped participants' sleep quality improve. They also reported decreased depression symptoms and were able to be more present with their infants for better bonding. In another study of lavender and the nervous system, lavender taken orally, inhaled or massaged into the skin was found to decrease anxiety and improve mood levels. Yet another study conducted by psychologists at Wesleyan University with 31 men and women found that lavender increased slow-wave sleep, instrumental for slowing heartbeat and relaxing muscles. Participants slept more soundly with lavender than without. They also reported feeling more energetic in the morning.
2. Preventative Holistic Health
Western medicine is an allopathic system. That means it treats symptoms and not the whole person. Its goal is to eradicate, mend and repair, which is brilliant when you have a condition that will benefit from such treatment. The holistic approach is more about prevention, a philosophy that underpins many "Alternative" medical approaches.
Lavender tea fits in here perfectly. It can be taken as a preventative measure, to maintain balance in your body, delivering many desired health effects. Lavender tea is full of antioxidants to help you eliminate those pesky toxins from your system, working to prevent them from wreaking havoc on human cells through mutation, degradation or oxidative stress.
Lavender tea contains high amounts of antioxidants and antibacterial compounds (like Vitamin C, calcium and magnesium) that can help boost your immune system against colds, bacterial, fungal and viral infections. It has properties that can reduce inflammation which, in turn can help prevent a host of eventually serious ailments like heart issues or arthritis. Its antispasmodic properties can also help with joint pain while helping to minimize muscle spasms. The same can be really helpful with menstrual cramps.
Lavender tea can also help soothe digestive issues like nausea or diarrhea or indigestion. More importantly, it can help stimulate production of bile while will help your body break down foods more effectively. It can also help open up chest airways, making it easier to breathe. That's the added bonus of smelling your lavender tea between sips.
Lavender Borage Sleepy Tea
This calming warm tea is just the thing to help you unwind. The best time to drink a sleep tea is 30 minutes before crash time.
You can infuse the flowers into water. Or for an extra pre-bedtime sleep kick, infuse the flowers into the milk of your choice. Dairy milk and almond milk both contain tryptophan which increases serotonin, the precursor to the sleep regulating hormone, melatonin. I've honey as a sweetener but also because it helps release melatonin in your brain. You can replace honey with another sweetener for a vegan option.
You can have your lavender tea straight up, no chaser. Or you can blend it with other plants that promote relaxation and calm. For this recipe, I have included Borage flowers, a calming, cleansing staple in the Persian diet, for its relaxation and stress relieving properties.
1 cup of water, milk or almond milk
1 tsp dried borage flowers
1 tsp dried lavender flowers
1 tsp honey or stevia
1. Place the water, milk or almond milk into a small saucepan on medium heat. Heat to very hot, not a roaring boil.
2. Add the dried lavender buds and dried borage flowers to the saucepan
3. Allow to steep for 5 or 6 minutes.
4. Pour into a mug through a strainer
5. Add honey or sweetener of your choice.
6. Drink. Rest. Reset. Relax. Nite Nite!
Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor. The information I have provided about herbs and sleep are from my own research experience. I encourage you to find your own answers for what works best for you and your body.
So you grew a ton of zucchini. Here are three yummy ways to perserve and enjoy them.
End of Summer is Squash time in the garden. There is a proliferation of Zucchini coming off the vines. Rather than eating zukes until we can't look at them anymore, I've been casting about to find different ways to preserve them so that we can enjoy them into the fall, and possibly the winter.
Here are the three things we’ve made this month using zucchinis that turned out fabulously.
I wasn’t sure how this was going to go. Frankly, I was a Dill pickle-making nube. But I had made mango and carrot pickle, Indian style from scratch before . So I went in using that knowledge to mix it up in the recipes I found. Here is what happened:
So, all in all, Zuke Pickle was a big hit!
2 pounds small zucchini (preferably about 4" or 8" long), trimmed and cut into spears
4 tablespoons coarse sea salt or pickling salt, divided
2 teaspoons yellow or brown mustard seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon dill seeds
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
4 star anise clove
12 garlic cloves, halved
4 red jalapeños or Fresno chilies, split lengthwise
2 1/2 cups white wine vinegar
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
We love a good veggie spread at our house. There is nothing more satisfying than a Baba Ganoush or a humus and pita with a Greek salad on the side on a hot summer day. So when we stumbled across Zucchini Butter, we knew this would be a winner. It's basically Zucchini with a bit of butter, garlic and herbs, cooked down to a spreadable consistency. We have been eating it on baguette slices as an appy; in a veggie panini with Havarti cheese; and as a BBQ meat topper. It rocks in a burger or a-top a steak as an alternative to sauteed mushrooms. Added bonus: It keeps up to 2 weeks in the fridge and up to a year in the freezer.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
5 garlic cloves, gently smashed
2 large zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 2 pounds)
5-6 springs of rosemary (thyme and/or oregano is also good here)
1/2 teaspoon finely milled sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI BREAD
This recipe uses grated zucchini, picked fresh from the garden, semi-sweet chocolate chips and cocoa powder. The moisture from the zucchini gives the bread a decidedly brownie-like texture. Not complaining. Not now. Not ever! I’m loving this bread with a scoop of ice cream or a bit of custard and whipped cream. Okay, I’m now officially drooling!
I didn’t use all the zuke I grated so I measured out two cups, the amount needed for a loaf of Zuke bread, bagged and froze it for later use. This way we can keep enjoying Chocolate Zucchini Bread right through the fall, possibly winter.
2 cups grated zucchini (fresh or frozen then thawed)
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (use natural unsweetened cocoa, NOT Dutch processed)
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules (optional)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup nuts or seeds (optional)
6T tbsp unsalted butter, melted OR sunflower oil
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
Zucchini has not been a favourite with my kids over the years. They've always found it bland or too mushy, though I was always able to sneak it in with chocolate. And now, we have definitely upped our zucchini game. Plus, cooking with food harvested fresh from my garden is bringing me a lot of joy and satisfaction.
What have you been making out of zucchini lately?
8 AMAZING HEALTH BENEFITS; 4 WAYS TO HELP YOUR BODY ABSORB TURMERIC AND 1 YUMMY TURMERIC MILK RECIPE
When I was young, Mum used to make Hardar Waro Doodh (Turmeric Milk, known on the internet these days as Golden Milk or a turmeric latte) to help boost our immune systems. She'd also spice her curries with it, make tea with it and use it medicinally and in skin care. I use turmeric in much the same way, because I've experienced its efficacy in my health and wellness since childhood. Turmeric powder has an intense taste, which is nature's way of telling you not to have too much. Wise woman wisdom that I grew up with places the consumed limit at about 1 teaspoon a day.
A QUICK LIST OF 8 AMAZING TURMERIC HEALTH BENEFITS
So what makes Turmeric such a health boosting all-star?
Quite a list of benefits, is it not? Hooray, Turmeric!
I’m not sure turmeric, or its active ingredient curcumin, should be taken as a supplement, honestly, due to poor bio-availability. This means that in order for turmeric to be effectively absorbed into the body, it has to be combined with other ingredients or prepared in particular ways, as my mother’s old school methods of using turmeric show.
I see curcumin supplements more as a last resort than the best option. I’m more in the camp of incorporating healing plants into diet and skin care in their most simple form. It is my belief that if we live in alignment with nature, her cycles and her gifts, then we are most likely to experience significant improvements in well-being, from the inside out. That means living more holistically and taking care of all aspects of health and happiness, rather than trying to fix a problem with a pill. Of course this is only my opinion and not intended as medical advice.
4 WAYS TO HELP YOUR BODY ABSORB TURMERIC
USE THE WHOLE ROOT
Turmeric is more than just curcumin. There are over 100 compounds in the turmeric root which have been found to have potent pharmacological properties. When the root is processed, many of these compounds are lost, and some supplements contain only extracted chemical curcumin. Old school Ayurvedic medicine and Indian cooking has always used the whole turmeric root because the various compounds in turmeric work synergistically together and can aid in the absorption of curcumin. This reflects the belief that whole plants are usually better for health.
Mum would use Turmeric in its dried and powdered form, mostly because, back in the day, it was more easily accessed in North America than fresh roots. If you're using turmeric powder, choose organic. Use less as it’s more concentrated than fresh root. If using fresh roots, add much more to your cooking. Rule of thumb: 1tsp of turmeric powder is equal to 3 tsps of fresh turmeric root.
ADD BLACK PEPPER
My mother’s curries, as in most of Indian cooking, are a complex blend of spices that support each other’s efficacy for health and healing. One of her ingredients that directly helps your body absorb curcumin directly is black pepper. According to UMass Medical School’s Center for Applied Nutrition:
“Curcumin only makes up about 5% of turmeric, similar to black pepper where the active ingredient, piperine also makes up about 5% of the spice. Piperine is responsible for black pepper’s rich flavor and helps inhibit drug metabolism. For example, the liver gets rid of foreign substances by making them water-soluble so that they can be excreted, and piperine can inhibit this process so that curcumin is not excreted. This explains how piperine can help to make curcumin more bioavailable. With just 1/20 teaspoon or more of black pepper, the bioavailability of turmeric is greatly improved, and turmeric’s benefits are further enhanced.”
MIX WITH HEALTHY FATS
Mum would make her curries using ghee or high fat oils like coconut or sunflower. She would make Hardar Waro Doodh (Turmeric Milk) with full fat milk. This makes sense for bio-availability. Curcumin has limited solubility in water, but it does like to attach to fats, which are then more easily absorbed into the bloodstream by the gut.
HEAT IT UP
Many spices become activated by heating, which can be the key to releasing their best effect. Research shows that heating turmeric increases its solubility in water, enhancing the overall antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin. Turmeric is moderately sensitive to heat, so there is no need to boil it for a long period of time. Short cooking times (under 15 minutes) do not destroy turmeric, but will in fact increase the bio-availability of turmeric's many compounds, inclduding curcumin. So heating turmeric in Turmeric Milk or a turmeric wellness tea, or adding it to your cooking, such as in curry or scrambled eggs, will maximize its absorption by the body.
1 YUMMY TURMERIC MILK RECIPE
This is a fabulous drink to help boost your immune system. My mother would give it to us regularly as a preventative measure. More cups would be downed in the event of an illness. You can incorporate Turmeric Milk into your day as your morning drink or in the evening, after a meal or before sleep.
A WORD ABOUT THE INGREDIENTS
Milk - Choose the milk that works best for you. If using dairy, choose grass fed and full fat; or give goats milk a go. If not, add a teaspoon of coconut oil to increase fat content for better absorption of turmeric into your body.
Black Pepper - Packed with manganese and Vitamin K, pepper stimulates the taste buds to get hydrochloric acid going, revving up digestion. When combined with black pepper, turmeric becomes 5,000 times more bio-available.
Ginger - Anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral, ginger is pro phytonutrients, especially potassium, magnesium, and Vitamin C. Loved all over the world as a digestive aid, it calms upset stomachs while improving nutrient absorption and circulation.
Cardamom - Loaded with naturally occurring minerals calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and Vitamin C, cardamom is the go-to spice for mellowing out respiratory ailments, colds and flus, and sluggish, unhappy guts.
Turmeric - Already ‘nuf said above!
Coconut oil - Helps your body absorb curcumin while adding more fatty acids that that are beneficial brain food.
1 cup milk of choice. If using dairy, choose full fat. If not, add a teaspoon of coconut oil to increase fat content.
¼- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
A Pinch to ⅛ tsp black pepper
¼ teaspoon ginger powder
⅛ tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp honey or to taste
Place all the ingredients into a pan. Whisk together into the milk. Simmer on medium to low heat until the milk starts to steam (not so hot) or bubble (hotter). Whisk again to foam milk (optional) Pour into your favourite mug and enjoy!
3 benefits of drinking mint tea; Make your own from fresh mint
I first met Mint tea in Morocco and I was smitten. I loved the sweet, hot, pungent flavours of the tea and could completely understand why it could be drunk all day long. Mint not only tastes good, it's good for you. And it's an easy perennial to grow in small gardens, outdoor or indoor, giving you your own organically grown supply. Making your own mint tea leaves from scratch? Easy, you've got this.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF DRINKING MINT TEA
1. AIDS DIGESTION. Mint tea can help settle an upset stomach, calm nausea. reduce bloating and gas. It's a wonderful drink to have after a meal to help your stomach calmly digest.
2. ANTIOXIDANTS. Mint tea contains a large amount of antioxidant compounds that help your body protect against and repair damage caused by harmful molecules that can lead to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress has been linked to chronic conditions like heart disease, cancer and diabetes. In the skin department, these antioxidants can help in the anti-aging process, as oxidative stress breaks down skin collagen, without which wrinkles happen. Antioxidants also help the skin repair itself by reducing inflammation.
3. REDUCES STRESS AND HELPS SLEEP. Mint tea can help decrease anxiety and improve sleep. The menthol in the plant has a relaxing, sedating effect on the body.
MOROCCAN MINT TEA RECIPE
If you have fresh mint growing, you can make Moroccan Mint Tea, . Cooking with Alia has a recipe to make it, authentic style, using Gunpowder Green Tea and fresh mint. She offers the recipe from her home country in text as well as a video. You get the foam on top by raising the tea pot spout 2 feet above the glass and pouring in a steady stream. This way of pouring also helps cool the boiling tea to a temperature comfortable for your mouth. By the way, this is also how chai is served, old school, foaming in a glass.
DIY YOUR OWN DRIED MINT TEA
While we love the convenience of buying a box of mint tea, the potency of the leaves fades the longer that box sits on the shelf. If the mint tea leaves are looking brown, they're old and stale. But no worry, it's easy to make your own from fresh mint that you grow or buy. And tea leaves made from fresh mint is hands-down tastier than store bought.
Mint is such a hardy perennial that loves to propagate itself. Our mint growth has doubled over since last year. By the way, I don't consider myself a gardening genius. This is just Nature doing her best work, for which I'm grateful because I really like drinking mint tea right through the year. Especially on those nights I'm having trouble sleeping. So I'm taking this time, while it's freshly growing in the ground, to make the most of our mint harvest, which will likely continue through the growing season.
We're growing both Spearmint and Chocolate Mint. We harvested about a 1/3 of our small bed. But you don't have to be growing the mint to make the tea leaves. You can buy fresh mint. You'll need 4 -5 bunches to get a decent amount of dried leaves out of it.
Here's what we did to dry the mint leaves for tea:
1. Separate the leaves from the stems
2. Lay wax or kraft paper on a flat surface, like a cookie sheet or cutting board or even a piece of cardboard.
3. Spread a single layer of mint leaves on your wax paper. Make sure the are not over lapping.
4. Leave them to air dry completely. This should take a few days.
5. Once the leaves are dry, run them through a food processor or chopper.
6. Put your dried mint tea leaves into a clean, dry bottle.
Now it's tea time! I put a tablespoon of the dried mint leaves into a drawstring paper tea bag. My son uses a tea ball. Or you can put it into your tea mug and strain out the leaves after the tea has steeped. I came across Bonesa Honey from Bulgaria who make a simply delicious rose flavoured honey. I add a teaspoon to my mug and then pour boiling water over my leaves and honey, letting it steep. If you want a stronger tea, boil the leaves (with or without teabag) in a pot of water on the stove on a roaring boil for 3-5 minutes. ENOY!
What are your favourite plant leaves to make tea? Do you grow your own? Please share any tips or experiences you have in the comments.
DIY DISWASHER TABS
The other day, I masked and gloved up, then hit the socially distanced grocery line up. The shopping list was long but wouldn't you know, I forgot to buy dishwasher tabs, a fact discovered after arriving home and unpacking our haul. The frustration didn't last long. I did a little research and hit the kitchen to whip some up. I'm so amazed at how well these dishwasher tabs work, I wanted to share the recipe.
You may have the ingredients lying about the house. Each has its own benefits. Baking soda (or washing soda, you pick) helps cut through the grease and is a great all-purpose cleaner. Borax is also another great cleaner that (bonus) helps disinfect. Salt helps mitigate the effects of hard water. Vinegar adds more cleaning power and helps to bind the ingredients together. Finally a bit of essential oil, for its anti-bacterial properties and lovely scent.
You will need:
1 cup of baking soda or washing soda. Both work equally well.
1 cup of Borax
1/2 cup of coarse salt
3/4 cup vinegar
15-20 drops of essential oil. I used Sweet Orange. You could also use Lemon, Tea Tree, Lavender, Rosemary, or Eucalyptus, as all these oils have antibacterial properties.
In a bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Measure out the of vinegar. Add it slowly to the dry ingredients, mixing as you go. There might be a little fizz from the chemical reaction between the vinegar and baking soda. Mix until the vinegar is evenly distributed through the powders. Now add your essential oil and mix it through again until evenly distributed.
Spoon the powder into a silicone ice cube tray mold. Then pack it down with your fingers. Gloves are optional. Let the tabs set overnight.
Next day, turn the mold over and pop out the tabs. They should hold their shape. If they don't, save the powder. You can still use it, just spoon it into the soap dispenser in your dishwasher.
Come dishwashing time, put a tab in the soap dispenser and set your dish robot to its usual settings. If you have a super crusty set of dishes, you can add a few drops of dishwashing liquid. Ya, I know they don't advise it, but found that a little, tiny bit boosts the cleaning power of these tabs.
Et Voila! Clean dishes! Everything came out shiny and clean, even the glasses; no spots. I hope this recipe is of use to your family.
What are your favourite DIY house cleaning recipes?
Stay well, stay kind.
KEEP THE BUGS AT BAY, THE NATURAL DIY WAY
Every year I can't wait for summer to arrive. Life gets taken out side, put on the road, in the garden or the swimming pool. Longer sunny days bring with them a sense of freedom and holiday. Nature is in her stride, exploding in colour everywhere! So much beauty, bloom and buzz in the air.
Yes. Buzz. Of the bug variety.
Bug bites are definitely uncomfortable and potentially dangerous. So of course we want to repel those bugs, right? But how? By using chemicals or natural ingredients? Which direction to go in?
EWG, (Environmental Working Group) surprisingly, leans heavily towards the use of chemicals over natural ingredients. When I first read this, I had to give my head a shake. What?!? Then I read a little closer, between the lines. They focus on an increase of tick-born diseases since 2004 as the basis of their recommendations. As such, they are erring on the side of blanket-blasting all ticks and bugs with everything in the arsenal. This feels like a panicked overkill to me, given the research on DEET being potentially damaging to brain function.
Bug repellents in Canada are regulated by Health Canada. They recommend everything from DEET (in concentrations ranging from 10%-30%, depending on the age of the user) to blends of specific essential oils. Their approach seems more evenhanded, taking into account safety considerations and individual preferences--allowing something for everyone. How Canadian, eh? I just love that!
My preference is to go natural, as much as possible. I also want to empower you to DIY. So here are a couple of recipes that can bring and your family some relief.
1. NATURAL ANT KILLER
My son, Javid is no fan of the creepy or the crawly. So when the neighbourhood ants started conducting long parading visits through the house, something had to be done. Our research took us to WikiHow, where we found the recipe that did the trick.
Its a simple but effective blend of three ingredients--Borax, sugar and water. The sugar attracts the ants, the ants ingest it. The borax interferes slowly with ant digestive systems, giving enough time for an ant to get back to its colony and share it with its fellow ants. Once shared, the borax can take out the whole colony. Most humans don't have major reactions to this small an amount of Borax. That being said, handle the Borax carefully and follow the cautionary advice on the Borax box.
What you'll need
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 tablespoon Borax
1-1/2 cups warm water
A Jar for mixing
Stir stick or chopstick
Cotton balls or pads
Shallow dishes or Yogurt container lids
Pour the sugar and the borax into the jar. Cap the Jar and shake, shake, shake the sugar and borax together. Uncap the bottle and pour in warm water. Use stir stick or chopstick to stir water until borax and sugar are completely dissolved. Place cotton ball or pad on container lids. Pour ant killer liquid onto cotton ball or pad until it's saturated. Place the container in a high ant traffic zone indoors. Give it a few days, and then buh-bye ants!
2. NATURAL MOSQUITO SPRAY
This recipe is from Scratch Mommy. It's a simple, four ingredient blend that relies mostly on the wonderful properties of Tea Tree and Geranium Oil. I've adjusted the amounts of essential oils in the formula to reflect Health Canada safety standards and metric volumes.
Tea Tree or Melaleuca has been used for centuries by Aboriginal peoples in Australia. It's really a superpowered plant, known for its antimicrobial, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps human wounds heal, and it is toxic to many insects, including mosquitoes. Its some pretty stong stuff, so Health Canada recommends that it make up only 1% of your total formula.
Geranium Oil has some of the same properties as Tea Tree Oil (anti-bacterial, wound healing). It's also known for its ability to keep mosquitoes away. Health Canada recommends between 1-5% of the total formula.
Vegetable Glycerin helps hold the essential oils to your skin.
Combine the following ingredients in a 113ml spray bottle.
Glass or metal is best. I get some of my supplies from here.
• 1.5 ml (22 drops) Tea Tree Essential Oil
• 0.5ml (8 drops) - 5ml (110 drops) Geranium Essential Oil
(Scratch Mommy recommends only 0.5ml. Health Canada says you can go up to 5ml. My recommendation is somewhere in the middle--2.5ml (55 drops). The choice is yours, depending on your skin and scent sensitivities.)
• 15 ml (1tablespoon) Vegetable glycerin
Fill the rest of the bottle with distilled water and shake until well mixed. Spray on as required and reapply as needed.
IN CASE YOU DON'T FEEL LIKE MAKING IT YOURSELF...
If you don't feel up to making it yourself, I'm happy to do that for you. My Shoo Fly! formula has a number of extra goodies that make it useful for keeping more than just mosquitoes away. It also has soothing ingredients that can help in after-bite care.
So here's some anecdotal evidence about Shoo Fly! and its efficacy. Free Lion Body Care was at the Mission Folk Festival, enjoying both sunshine, music and meeting people who were trying out our products. Along came a little guy with a sad face.
"Why so glum, chum?" I asked. he told me he had been stung by a wasp. He showed me a huge, angry red welt on his forearm. His mum asked if I had anything for that.
"Try our Shoo Fly!" I suggested. I told her more about the formula. In a nutshell, Shoo Fly has witch hazel and aloe vera in it to help soothe the itchy feeling and speed up healing. There's Tea Tree, Geranium and Peppermint essential oils to help heal and cool the wound. These, plus the rest of the essential and carrier oils in it, work together to help keep other bugs away.
So Mum sprayed some Shoo Fly! on his red, swollen sting and off they went. The next day they came back. The little guy was smiling and eager to show me his wound. It had almost disappeared! Thank you, said Mom. She bought a bottle for the rest of the summer. And I had the satisfaction of a job well done.
Sherazad Jamal, Free Lion Team
Do you have a favourite natural way of keeping the summer bugs away? Please share it with us.
It's Rose Petal Time! My friend PJ and her lovely, precocious 4 year old granddaughter, Londyn, and I went urban foraging the other day. PJ has been doing so for years, incorporating her finds into her beautiful gourmet creations. I'm going to tell you right now that her Rose Petal Jelly is to die for, closely followed by her candied ginger.
Out we went into the wilds of Vancouver, bags and snips in hand, on a slow, rambling walk, in search of rose and lavender flowers. PJ taught Londyn to look for flowers that were in their full bloom and scent, just at the edge of making that turn into flower death. After a tearful encounter with some thorns, we looked for ones at her height that she could pick easily and thorn-free. She quickly caught on, saying "Londyn height" before harvesting each rose, while we harvested ones from taller locations. The three of us stopped and smelled the roses, literally, watched the geese and tug boats and made sure one of us wasn't too close to the water for danger of falling in. Mimi (PJ) and Auntie Lion (me) are terrible swimmers!
Now off to the kitchen! Here are four beautiful things that can be done with these incredible, fragrant gifts from Nature.
1. Drying Flower Petals
Gather roses that are in their full bloom and have not been sprayed with pesticides. To dry the rose petals, simply spread newspaper, parchment or kraft paper (I used kraft) on a flat surface. Gently separate the petals from the stems. Make sure there are no stems or bugs in your petals. Spread the petals evenly across your paper and let them air dry. They should be ready in a few days. Store them in an airtight container once they're dried.
If you don't have days to wait, place the petals in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the petals for 10 minutes at 170°F or until the petals are crisp and break easily (like potato chips). If your petals are still soft, bake for a couple of more minutes, remove, and recheck the crispy factor. Cool the petals completely and store them in an airtight container.
2. Rose Petal Raita
Raita is a fairly usual happening in our house. It's essentially a yogurt based condiment that can be used as a dip, a dressing or a way to cool down a spicy hot curry. And it's a fabulous way to get your acidophilus quotient in. I made this one using the rose petals we foraged. The chives and coriander are fresh from my garden.
500g Greek or Balkan Yogurt (you could use lower fat yogurt, it'll just taste less creamy)
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1/2 cup chopped coriander
1/3 cup chopped chives
1/4 cup dried or fresh rose petals
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
Salt and Pepper to taste.
Pour yogurt into a bowl. Add the rest of ingredients except salt and pepper. Stir in. Taste. Now add the salt and pepper according to your taste. Serve garnished with coriander leaves and rose petals.
3. Flower Petal Salad
It's BBQ season! What better way to enjoy the gifts from the grill with a lovely flower petal salad? This recipe uses Chive flowers, those beautiful purple, round flowers that top chives, they have a subtle onion flavour. Rose petals give the salad some sweetness. Both a complemented beautifully by a light vinaigrette.
4 cups greens of your choice. You could use kale, baby spinach, arugula...the possibilities are endless!
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1 medium carrot grated
Flower Petals from 2 roses
Flower petals from 2 chive flowers
For The Vinaigrette
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp raw honey or maple syrup
1/4 cup olive oil extra virgin
sea salt and ground pepper to taste
Tear or cut greens into bite-sized pieces. Combine remaining salad ingredients in a bowl. In separate bowl, mix together the white wine vinegar and honey (or maple syrup). Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Dress the salad with the vinaigrette. Enjoy!
4. Rose Marzipan Tea
One of my favourite teas from the Granville Island Tea Company is their Rose Marzipan, a delicately flavoured rose and almond black tea. Black tea, one of the most consumed beverages in the world, has a number of health benefits. So here we go, with some of its super powers.
Black tea contains:
• polyphenols which have antioxidant properties. Consuming antioxidants may help decrease the risk of chronic disease and improve your overall health.
• flavonoids, which are beneficial for heart health. Studies have found that regularly drinking black tea may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
• LDL is a ipoproteins that carries cholesterol throughout the body. Too much LDL in the body can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Studies have found that black tea may help reduce LDL levels.
• Polyphenols and antimicrobial properties found in black tea may help improve gut health and immunity.
High in Vitamin C, A and E Rose petals have been used for centuries to boost the immune system, improve digestion, relieve menstrual cramps and reduce stress and anxiety. The added bonus is that Rose tea has skin benefits. It can help hydrate and tighten the skin, reduce the appearance of wrinkles and dark circles as well as support the production of collagen which is vital for the health of your skin and hair.
Almond extract is full of proteins, vitamin E and b-6 and essential minerals. It, like roses, also improves digestion, and is beneficial to the immune system, hair and skin.
So when life gets to you, keep calm and have a cuppa!
2/3 cup of Black Tea leaves
6 teaspoons pure almond extract, food grade
2 cup of dried rose petals
Place your tea leaves in a bowl and add the almond extract. Mix it well into the leaves using a spoon or your very, very clean and sanitized fingers. Add the rose petals and, with that trusty spoon, mix the petals in, making sure they are evenly distributed. Put into an air tight bottle and allow the flavours to infuse the tea leaves.
In ancient Egypt, Aloe Vera was known as the “plant of immortality.” Mother Nature sure knows how to pack a healing punch in her creations, and Aloe Vera is no exception. It has been used for centuries to heal wounds, hydrate and repair skin and keep people regular. Ya. No lie on that one.
In last week’s blog, the Raw Chef walked us through extracting gel from Aloe Vera leaves. Click the link, in case you need a refresher. It’s a pretty straightforward process. Just make sure your knives and peelers are sharp to easily slice through that aloe leaf skin.
So now you’ve extracted your aloe gel from an aloe leaf. What’s next? Making awesome skin soothing concoctions, of course! Here are a few simple recipes you can try that don’t require you to have a full apothecary shelf or years of making knowledge.
Aloe Vera Skin Soother
This spritz-on blend is made of skin soothing, healing ingredients. It can be helpful for sunburn, bug bites, rashes, dry skin, minor cuts and scrapes. If you are running low on our Hydrating Tonic for Normal Skin this is a good stopgap.
Aloe Vera Gel acts as a protective, moisturizing antioxidant that helps skin heal quicker.
Calendula Tea has skin-healing, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties; powerful yet gentle and soothing. Click here to our blog on how to make Calendula tea
Rose water has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce the redness of irritated skin
Gently Blend together:
2 parts Aloe Vera Gel
1 part Calendula Tea
1 part Rose Water
Pour into small spray or spritz bottle. Store in refrigerator for up to 6 weeks. Shake gently before use. Spray affected skin area. Sigh with relief!
Daily Digestive Aloe Vera Smoothie
This delicious smoothie recipe packs a powerful combination of natural ingredients proven to be effective in aiding digestion and overall wellness. Our all star ingredients:
Aloe Vera is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It ontains everything from digestive enzymes to vitamins and minerals that promote healthy digestion.
Kefir or Yogurt is extremely rich in probiotics, helping to promote the growth of good bacteria.
Berries pack immune-boosting antioxidants and very rich in vitamin C.
Bananas are packed with a number of vitamins for general wellness: potassium, B6, manganese, and fiber.
Ginger is probiotic and carminative (removes excess gas from the intestines). Ginger is also known to aid in relieving nausea and heartburn.
Parsely removes excess gas from the intestines and improves digestion of proteins and fats.
Spinach or kale helps support digestion
¼ cup Aloe Vera gel
½ cup kefir or plain Yogurt
1 cup berries
½ cup banana
1 cup Greens (Parsely, Spinach or Kale)
¼ inch slice of fresh ginger
½ cup distilled water or coconut water
Throw all the ingredients into a blender and blend on high speed until smooth. Drink immediately, it's best fresh. Smile broadly. You've just engaged in an act of Radical Self Care!
All Natural Mouth Wash
As I’m aging, I’m beginning to appreciate the value of a good mouthwash, mostly because there are nooks and crannies in your mouth that you can’t always get to with brushing. This recipe is simple, made from 5 common ingredients. It’s best stored in the fridge.
Baking Soda is not just for making quick breads, cookies, and muffins. In oral care, baking soda can help neutralize acids, take care of odors (bye-bye, bad breath!), and fight germs. Added Bonus: baking soda may help fight stains on teeth.
Aloe Vera Juice serves so many purposes, including dental health. According to a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Aloe Vera is extremely helpful in the treatment of gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis. It reduces bleeding, inflammation and swelling of the gums. It is a powerful antiseptic in pockets where normal cleaning is difficult, and its antifungal properties help greatly in the problem of mouth ulcers, and cracked, split corners..
Essential Oils Peppermint and Tea Tree are both used in this recipe. Peppermint gives a cooling, minty flavor to the mouthwash. Tea tree provides beneficial cleaning and antibacterial properties.
1/2 cup aloe vera gel
1/2 cup distilled water
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
2-5 drops Peppermint Essential Oil
1-3 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil
In a bottle, add all the ingredients. Cap the bottle and gently shake to combine the ingredients until the baking soda is fully dissolved. Store your mouthwash in the fridge. To use your mouthwash, gently shake the bottle and pour a mouthful into a cup. Swish it in your mouth for several seconds, pulling it through your teeth. Spit, don't swallow, especially if you feel essential oils are not safe to ingest.
Aloe Vera Gel Hair Mask for Dry Hair and Itchy Scalp
Your hair and scalp need replenishing from the daily toxins met out there in the world and in what you may eat. A hair mask, done once or twice a week, can help. Here's one you can concoct at home, using that Aloe Vera Gel that you so expertly harvested!
Aloe Vera Gel's hydrating properties make it an excellent moisturizer for dry hair. Bonus: it makes your hair SHINY!. Its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties can provide some relief from an itchy scalp, while its enzymes can help to promote the creation of healthy new scalp skin cells. It can also help with repairing split ends.
Coconut oil is moisturizing and can help nourish hair dryness. Its antibacterial properties also help with that itchy scalp issue.
Banana is rich of in vitamins, calcium, potassium, carbohydrates and natural oils that help the overall nourishment of the hair. It promotes shiny, silky hair with great elasticity and control. A simple banana mask can help with frizziness, dandruff and hair fall.
Tea Trea Essential Oil is antibacterial and skin repairing. Great for your scalp.
Lavender Essential Oil is also anitbacterial and stress relieving. Why? Because Bad Hair Day! 'Nuf said.
Hair Mask Ingredients
1/2 cup aloe vera gel
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup of full fat coconut milk
1 ripe banana (2 if you have long hair)
4 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil
4 drops Lavender Essential Oil
Throw all the ingredients but the essential oils into a blender and hit the high speed button. If the ingredients have trouble blending, add a little more coconut milk. Once you have a gorgeous, creamy liquid in the blender jug, add the essential oils and blend again.
Pour your creamy mix into a bowl and apply it to your head and scalp using a paint brush. You don't have to use the paint brush but it does help get the mask all over your hair without making a huge, gloopy mess.
Once you've finished applying your mask, throw on a shower cap and make your self a snack, soak in a relaxing bath, listen to some soothing music, grab a book, or turn on Netflix (ok, I admit it, the last two are my favourite go-tos! Like my namesake, I love a good story). Let the mask sit on your hair for at least 20-30 minutes.
Rinse off the mask and shampoo as usual, using a gentle shampoo. Conditioner not required. You can use this mask once or twice a week. Enjoy your beautiful hair!
Sherazad Jamal, Free Lion Team
Do you have any favourite Aloe Vera Gel recipes or stories about how Aloe Vera Gel has worked for you? Please share in the comments section.
When I say “Avocado”, do you say “Guacamole”? Well hopefully by the end of this article you’ll be saying, “Beautiful Skin and Hair”.
Avocado Oil is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A, D and E, which provide skin with deep moisturizing. The oil of an avocado easily penetrates and is quickly absorbed by the skin. And it’s also thick enough to serve as a protective barrier.
Avocado can also help repair damaged hair. Its rich fatty acids coat your hair shaft and help it retain moisture while providing your hair with long lasting and deep hydration. Its rich cache of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals help condition hair, promoting damage repair, healthy hair growth and nurture frizzy hair. And it just may soothe that itchy scalp issue, too!
Where Does Avocado Oil Come From?
The fruits of the Persea gratissima – better known as the Avocado tree – are native to Mexico, Central, and South America. For its countless benefits, the Avocado was considered a precious fruit. It was believed to bestow immense vigour, maintain good health, relieve intestinal issues, and promote healthy hair growth. The Aztecs, Incas, and Mayans also spread the fruit pulp on their skin for cosmetic purposes. Yep, these wise people knew a thing or two about how to stay healthy and beautiful.
And then along came the Europeans. Due to the value placed on the Avocado, European conquerors loaded up their ships with it and other fruits and vegetables they then introduced to other parts of the world. And this, folks is how avocados, potatoes and tomatoes (among many other plants) circumambulated the world.
Avocados Are Nature's Gift to Good Health
Avocado fruits have greenish or yellowish flesh with a buttery consistency and a very rich, nutty taste. Avocado oil is pressed from this yummy fleshy pulp, making it one of the few edible oils not derived from seed. Most fruits are high in carbohydrates, but not avocados--they are uniquely high in healthy fats. including oleic acid and essential fatty acids. They are also rich in Vitamins A, B, C and E. Studies have found avocado oil helpful in preventing the onset of diabetes, high cholesterol, triglyceride levels and obesity. In France, it even has prescription drug status because of its proven ability to counter the negative effects of arthritis
Avocados are a wonderful fruit or oil to eat, for health and beauty from the inside out. And a beautiful oil to use on the skin due to hits very high skin penetration and rapid absorption properties. Yay Avocado! Oh but wait. There’s MORE!
Aids in Treating Wounds
Avocado oil can help heal wounds, according to a 2013 study. Researchers found that avocado oil can promote increased collagen synthesis while decreasing numbers of inflammatory cells during the wound-healing process. How cool is that?
Soothes Sunburned Skin
In addition to providing the skin with moisture, the antioxidants, flavonoids, and phenolic acids found in avocado oil can help soothe sunburned skin. Ok, this is even “cooler”. :)
If you’ve been in the sun and feel your skin is a little dry from the heat, or sunburned, try this hydrating and cooling body mask. Combine mashed avocado, 1/2 teaspoon of honey, and 1/4 teaspoon of lime juice in a bowl. Apply liberally over the skin and leave on for 10-15 minutes to enjoy the healing and hydrating effects.
Boosts Collagen Production, Reduces Itching and Inflammation
Avocado oil also contains sterolins, natural steroids that may be effective in boosting collagen production and in treating age spots. Sterolin is known to soften the skin and reduce the appearance of age spots. Its also high in lecithin, a lipid that helps deliver nutrients directly into the bloodstream and deeper layers of skin.
With its high level of vitamin E, avocado oil may reduce itching and skin inflammation and is also beneficial in softening rough and cracked patches. Dry skin needs soothing foods like avocados to stay moisturized and hydrated. Ok, Menopause, bring it on. I’ve got Avocados!
Can help repair damaged hair
Avocado’s rich fatty acids coat your hair shaft and help it retain moisture while providing your hair with long lasting and deep hydration. Its antioxidants, vitamins and minerals condition hair, promoting damage repair and healthy hair growth. It’ll also help nurture frizzy hair and repair split ends. And it just may soothe that itchy scalp issue.
We use Avocado Oil in some of our products, too!
We use Avocado Oil in some of our formulas, like our Body Butters. I’ve designed these butters to keep your skin moisturized, smooth and supple. Avocado oil plays a big role in making that magic happen.
It’s also a big part of our Face Chai face care system for Mature/Dry skin, soon to be explored in further detail in forthcoming newsletters. Stay tuned. In the mean time, here are some DIY recipes you can try at home. See if Avocado is YOUR magic fruit.
Coco-Creamy Green Moisturizing Mask--
An anti-wrinkle, healing option for dry skin
1/2 teaspoon plain yogurt
1 tablespoon Oat flour
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon coconut oil
Scoop out avocado and mash it in a bowl until its smooth, no lumps. Add yogurt, lemon juice, oat flour and oil. Mix well. Spread a small amount over the face. Pick a good book to read for about 20 minutes. Wash from face followed by gentle massaging motions. That’ll help stimulate your circulation so you don’t have to go get one of those crazy face vibrators that are out there right now. Seriously. Not making that up.
Simple Hydrating Avocado Hair Mask
This one is very old school.
1 avocado, mashed smooth, no lumps
After shampooing your hair, apply mashed avocado directly onto your hair, massaging it into the scalp and the hair, from root to tip. Work some extra into those split ends. Clip up your hair and wrap in a towel or put on a shower cap.Leave the mask on for about 10 minutes before rinsing clean.
Avocado And Banana Hair Mask
Deep Conditioning Treatment For Dry Hair: This recipe can even maintain your naturally curly hair gloss.
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 ripe avocado, mashed
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2-3 drops of your favourite essential oil, such as lavender, rose, sweet orange or jasmine.
Mash banana and avocado together in a bowl, until they form a smooth paste without any lumps. Add olive oil and essential oil drops. Stir all the ingredients together until you have a smooth mixture of uniform consistency.
After shampooing your hair, apply mashed avocado directly onto your hair, massaging it into the scalp and the hair, from root to tip. Work some extra into those split ends. Clip up your hair and wrap in a towel or put on a shower cap. Leave the mask on for about 20 minutes or longer before rinsing clean. Rinse as many times as needed to remove the mask entirely.
Sherazad Jamal, Free Lion Team
What's your favourite Avocado health or beauty recipe?
It's flu season, and I’m down for the count with sniffles, cough, congested chest, sinus pain and a headache to beat the band. My go-to in this situation is a wellness tea passed on from my grandmother. Back in her day, Nanima was the neighbourhood Ayurvedic concoctionist. People would park themselves in her kitchen, chatting, while she blended them a healing brew. She wasn't a purist, though. She'd take the best of Western medicine alongside her home remedies.
In that spirit, I have Tylenol at the ready for head and sinus pain. And Nanima's tea to ease cough and congestion.
What’s in the Wellness Tea?
Freshly sliced ginger
Ginger contains a high quantity of antioxidants that help boost your immune system against the common cold or flu. Its potent anti-inflammatory properties effectively sooths a sore throat. It’s has antimicrobial properties help your body fight cold causing viruses. Ginger is also helpful for settling upset stomachs, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and cold sweats.
Flesh lemon slices
Lemon juice is rich in vitamin C which works to neutralize the disease causing pathogens along with boosting your body’s immune system.
Tumeric is full of curcumin which is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral. It can help relieve chest congestion, runny nose and open up the sinuses, especially when put in boiling water.
Honey soothes a sore throat, making it an affective, natural cough suppressant. It’s anti-microbial properties help reduce inflammation.
Activates the healing properties of these natural ingredients and adds the physical sensation of warmth and comfort.
Optional : Brandy
Brandy also has anti-microbial properties that help cut up the mucus built up by a cold. It is warming to the chest and throat. In small doses, it can be calming and settle you in for a good night’s sleep.
Free Lion Wellness Tea
1 tsp sliced fresh ginger
2 slices fresh lemon with zest
1/2 tsp tumeric powder
1 tsp honey
1 cup boiling water
Optional: 1oz Brandy
Place sliced ginger, lemon, turmeric powder, honey (and Brandy, if desired) in an 8-12oz mug.
Pour boiling water over ingredients, filling mug. Stir and let steep. Sip slowly until it’s all gone.
This flu season, rest up and be good to you!
Sherazad Jamal, Free Lion