| Elixirs, Herbal Teas, and More! – Drinks for Health
by Stacey Tress
I love how an article idea “finds me.” I’d been dabbling with a few ideas for this Sept/Oct ’17 article when the signs to go in another direction just kept adding up. My sister-in-law had posted a few most inspiring and beautiful local foraged herbal/flower teas back in July on Instagram (I’ll post some links at the bottom)—I’ve used one of her lovely photos in this article. These pics of hers were the base inspiration for this article. I love that you can go out into your garden, or wherever, and forage ingredients for a healing drink/tea. Her teas were made using live plant material, but of course you can dehydrate the plant material and enjoy them all winter long, too. A few more signs fell into my lap like when I was unpacking books I came across Ann Wigmore’s book Recipes for Longer Life (as we are still unpacking and sorting from our move from Yorkton to our new home in Rhein, SK); shortly after that my husband came home with some books from the library and he left one for me on the kitchen table called Healing Tonics, Juices and Smoothies by Jessica Jean Weston…..at the time I laughed and said, “Yeah, thanks…cause I’ve got so much time to read right now (not).”
So there it is, a little background story, and now without further ado, let’s get to the main article!
To keep things light and fun, I’ll break this article down into a few categories—Herbal Teas, Fermented Drinks, and Elixirs.
Herbal Teas—Forage Your Own!
Wild edibles exist almost everywhere and are in abundance if you feel like foraging for them. Edible wild food has existed in almost every corner of our planet for tens of thousands of years. Edible weeds, flowers, and wild herbs were foraged and used as food (as well as medications); and they provided all the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients required for the human body to maintain good health. Foraging for food used to be the way to survive.
Chances are edible weeds are in your backyard, on pathways you walk every day, or in fields you see every day. Many of these plants can be foraged and added to your daily diet to increase your nutritional intake.
There’s a plethora of wild herbs, weeds, flowers, shrubs, trees, and vines all safe to eat so long as you identify them properly and know what part of the plant is usable!
Benefits of Wild Edible Plants
There are numerous benefits to eating wild edibles such as:
- They are free.
- They are genetically stronger than other food.
- Longer root systems make most weeds drought-resistant.
- Most edible plants and weeds are more nutritious than hybridized store produce.
- Eating local wild plants means that the plant fights off the same organisms as your body, therefore making them highly beneficial for the immune system.
- Wildcrafting/foraging (picking your own) edibles means you get exercise, vitamin D (sunshine), and get to be in a natural, relaxing setting.
Some of my fave wild edibles:
- Spruce Tips—“…exceptionally high in vitamin C. They contain carotenoids and are rich in minerals such as potassium and magnesium.”
- Rose Hips—“…one of the best sources of vitamin C. Because of the high vitamin C content they are an excellent immune system booster.”
- Stinging Nettle—“…natural allergy relief remedy. It’s also proven to benefit skin, bone, and urinary health as well.” *CAUTION -> wear gloves and proper attire when harvesting as the nettle upon skin contact can cause pain, redness, swelling, itching, and numbness.*
As I mentioned earlier, you can use the fresh live plant material or you can dehydrate it to store for later use. To make herbal tea, the rule of thumb is to NOT boil the plant material, but pour boiling water over the herbs and let steep. I love using a Bodum French press to make my teas. No time to forage? Source organic dehydrated herbs at your local health food stores.
Mama Moon—Yields 2 cups
A loving blend to nourish and support the sacred feminine moon time. These herbs will hold space for your body and soul, relieve cramps, and aid with PMS.
2 cups filtered water
1-inch piece fresh ginger root, sliced
1 tbsp dried yarrow
2 tsp jasmine
1 tsp blue vervain
1 tsp gingko biloba
1 tsp skullcap
Bring the water to a boil in a tea kettle. Place all the herbs in a teapot or glass jar. Once the water has boiled, pour it over the herbs, put the cover on the teapot, and let steep for at least five minutes. Strain tea to serve. Herbal teas can steep longer to release even more medicinal qualities and flavour, or add more hot water to do a second brew.
Some popular fermented drinks include kombucha, kvass, rejuvelac, and kefir. Fermented foods (and fermented drinks) are extremely rich in enzymes, predigested protein, and lactobacillus bacteria. Last fall I wrote an article on beets with a recipe for beet kvass. I’ll post a link at the bottom. This fall I’d like to highlight a different fermented drink called rejuvelac.
Rejuvelac was first introduced as a health drink in the 1960s and 1970s as the “water” of the Hippocrates Health Institute. Rejuvelac puts enzymes into your body that cooked food doesn’t. It is a pre-digested food—the proteins are broken down into amino acids, the carbohydrates into simple sugars (dextrines and saccharines). These nutrients are readily assimilated by your body with little expenditure of energy. Rejuvelac is rich in eight of the B vitamins, as well as vitamin E and K. It is also used as a “starter” in the production of other fermented dishes, particularly the protein (nut and seed) sauces, cheeses, and loaves (which are all raw by the way). Drink glasses of it between meals to flush the system out, and help cleanse the intestinal tract.
Rejuvelac—Yields 3 cups
1 cup wheat berries (organic)
3 cups spring or filtered water
A container -> a glass jar with a wide mouth
Wash seed by rinsing well, and scrubbing seeds with hands to remove any outer residue. Allow dead seeds to float to top of container and skim off and discard.
Soak the wheat berries the first time for 48 hours. Place a small, neat bundle of freshly cut wheatgrass on top of water for further filtering. Remove each day before pouring rejuvelac off; replace.
After 48 hours, pour off your rejuvelac. Use for that day. It needn’t be refrigerated, but will keep for several days if it is.
Pour another 2 cups of water into the jar. Allow water to ferment only 24 hours before pouring off.
Repeat 24-hour cycles for 3 days, so wheat berries are soaked a total of 3 times.
Ferment the rejuvelac to your taste—until tart, not sour. Want a living bread recipe for the sprouted seed? Get a hold of me and I’d be happy to forward it to you. Two other options that come to mind to use the sprouted seed include:
Dehydrating sprouted wheat on raw setting and then pulverizing to make your own raw sprouted flour.
Homesteaders -> try feeding this little tasty dish to your pigs! (albeit 1 cup isn’t very much).
Elixirs make for a great morning drink but can be enjoyed anytime. Looking to kick the coffee habit but still enjoy that morning routine?—Try an elixir like Matcha Latté or Chicory Chaga Café. Elixirs are typically made in a blender with the base being a warm/hot herbal tea. Other components include a fat (good fat!) and a sweetener such as coconut oil and honey.
Golden Mylk—Yields 2 cups
This Ayurvedic classic has recently received much attention and has been making its way into the Western world by being featured in health food cafes, prepackaged beverages, and numerous blogs. The backbone of this drink is the popular Indian spice turmeric, which is one of the most medicinal spices known for its anti-inflammatory powers.
Ginger and vanilla extract are added to this recipe to round out the flavour profile and amplify the healing benefits.
1/2 cup coconut mylk*
1-1/2 tsp turmeric paste
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ginger juice
2 tbsp raw honey
1-1/2 cups hot water
Blend the coconut mylk, turmeric paste, vanilla extract, ginger juice, and honey together.
Pour the concentrate into your favourite mug, fill with hot water, and enjoy.
You can purchase coconut milk (mylk) in a health food store or make your own!
*Mylk—a non-dairy “milk” using soaked nuts or seeds of choice
Basic Recipe—Yields 1 quart
3/4 cup soaked nuts or seeds of choice
3 cups filtered water
Combine soaked nuts/seeds and water in a blender and blend for 30–60 seconds, until smooth.
Pour mylk through a nut milk bag and gently squeeze as much liquid as you can into a bowl, jar, or pitcher. Lasts refrigerated about 3 days.
Healing Tonics, Juices and Smoothies by Jessica Jean Weston
Recipes for Longer Life by Ann Wigmore
Fermented Foods for Health by Deidre Rawlings
Dr. Jensen’s Guide to Better Bowel Care by Dr. Bernard Jensen
Mama Moon, Golden Mylk, Mylk from the book Healing Tonics, Juices and Smoothies by Jessica Jean Weston
Rejuvelac—Recipes for Longer Life by Ann Wigmore (and an updated Rejuvelac recipe can be found in Deidre Rawling’s book Fermented Foods for Health).
Photo Credit: Fresh Lavender Garden Tea by Shanna Todd of Muskoka Lavender. Follow her on Instagram (@muskokalavender), Facebook, and her webpage at www.muskokalavender.com.
Beet Kvass recipe and Beet article (by me)—www.wholife.com
Stacey Tress, a Holistic Nutritional Therapist (HNT) and Young Living Essential Oil Distributor (#2282633), lives in Rhein, SK with her husband and two daughters. She is the owner of Garden Therapy Yorkton which offers fermentation workshops, permaculture design work, organically-grown produce, and more! She also offers essential oil support and carries a wide variety of Young Living Essential Oils and products for sale. To learn more, call 306-641-4239, email: email@example.com, www.gardentherapyyorkton.ca, or on Facebook “Garden Therapy Yorkton.” Also see the display ad on page 9 of the 23.3 September/October issue of the WHOLifE Journal.