Herbal Tea’s for Daily Health

If you’re familiar with traditional “kitchen medicine”, you’ll know that there are plenty of home remedies and simple botanical solutions for common issues. In my house, we have a tea nook (which was once rather small, now it’s kind of overtaking a corner of the pantry) that is usually our go-to when we need some health support. Now, I’ve gotten kind of out of control with my tea nook, and have ridiculously specific remedies for what commonly comes up for us, but I remember a time when the basics were best, and my foundational teas are still there. Here are some great teas that are ideal to keep on hand for both daily nourishment and occasional health imbalances:

  1. Gaia Bronchial Wellness Tea – I keep this one on hand all year long, but most especially for the fall and winter months when the air is dry and colds and flu’s are rampant. This helps keep my lungs soothed and clear. The plantain and licorice are very moistening for dry coughs, and the thyme is balancing by being more drying for the wet conditions. This is a beautifully balanced tea, and it tastes delicious.
  2. Traditional Medicinals Gypsy Cold Care Tea – This has been my go-to cold formula for probably 10 years. The peppermint, yarrow and elder flower are ideal for the very beginning stages of a cold, while the ginger, clove and licorice are nice and warming to push out lingering symptoms. I add a dash of honey and a squeeze of lemon to every cup and drink this All. Day. Long. when I have a cold.
  3. Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat Tea – The licorice, the marshmallow, the orange peel. This is SO soothing to a sore and upset throat in the cold months or when you wake up in the morning with a scratchy cough. That feeling of a raw cough is perfectly soothed with this moistening and comforting formula. This is another tea that you can sip on all day that has a delicious and nourishing taste.
  4. Mountain Rose Herbs Blossoms of Health Tea – This one is packed with vitamins and minerals from the chamomile, nettles and red clover. I like to drink this one for an added dose of nourishment every day.
  5. Pukka Detox Tea – I love this tea as a daily, gentle liver support as well as digestive support after any meal. The fennel seed and cardamom pods are great for lower gastrointestinal support to help with digestion while also gently cleansing your organ system in a building a nourishing way (not a stripping or depleting tea).
  6. Gaia Sleep & Relax Tea – for when the Monkey Mind takes over and it’s hard to get relaxed and to sleep at night. The passionflower is ideal to calm a racing brain, while the chamomile and lemon balm hep to relax the muscles and organ systems to help you ease into a comforting and peaceful state of mind.

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As an added benefit, drinking herbal tea every day sort of demands that you take some time for yourself. Set some time aside to brew a perfect cup, sit down, relax and sip consciously knowing that the hundreds of medicinal constituents in every cup are nourishing and supporting your body in a deeply foundational way.

 

Lindsay Kluge M.Sc, CNS, LDN | HealthCoach@EllwoodThompsons.com

Soulful Whole Grains

Over the last few weeks, I’ve heard a common thread of questions from my health coaching folks regarding whole grains. They’ve heard about or read “Grain Brain”, went on the internet and now are terrified of eating grains. This usually happens every few months when a new book comes out or a health fad passes around about a specific food or group of foods that becomes the scapegoat for all chronic disease and inflammation. Granted, there are always certain people who cannot tolerate certain foods and react poorly to certain foods which, clearly for them, they should not eat. Grains, however, I am usually pretty hesitant to clear completely from my diet, and there are a few reasons why:

  1. Our species is inherently bound together by our dependence on grain. For centuries civilizations relied on grains for survival, from rice to millet to wheat and barley, we have a long tradition of eating and tolerating a variety of grains. With centuries of grain consumption, I’m hesitant to think grains are the entire cause of all inflammation and disease and why our brains are struggling.
  2. They have a rich energy and a full bodied, nutritious taste when eaten in their whole form. They provide countless minerals and good fiber, proteins and healthy carbohydrates. Consuming even 2 servings of whole grains daily has been shown to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and raise our HDL (good cholesterol) while at the same time helping to balance our insulin levels.
  3. There are so many whole grains to choose from, incorporating them int your diet never gets old or boring. Here are some cooking tips for a few select grains:
1 cup whole grain Water (in cups) Cooking Time Yield (in cups) Other notes
Amaranth 1 ½ 20 2 Nice with casseroles and stews
Barley (pearl) 2 ½ 40 3 ½ First cultivated grain, contains gluten, pearled is slightly refined, high in fiber and protein, low glycemic
Buckwheat 2 12 3 ½ Technically not a grain, high in silica, lysine & vitamin E
Millet 2 ¼ 20 4 Yes! It is bird food! Rich in iron and thiamin
Oats (whole, steel cut) 2 45 2 ½ Can buy gluten free varieties. Rolled oats takes 10 minutes to cook
Quinoa 2 15 3 Complete protein, 16-20% protein
Rice (basmati) 1 ½ 20 3 Rich in silica, higher glycemic load than barley, quinoa, millet and many others
Teff 4 20 ? From Africa, high in iron. Delicious added to muffins and baked goods

 

Cooking times may vary slightly. You can keep cooked whole grains in the refrigerator for 3 days. Cook larger amounts and store in the freezer for convenience.

So why are grains called out for causing all of this health trouble now?

Well, grains are a major major cash crop in the US, and corn and wheat are heavily laden within most all of our processed and fast foods. As a society, a typical American diet is bombarded with fast food, packaged meals, boxed mixes and processed carbohydrates riddled with processed (not whole) grains and GMO’s. Any food eaten in excess (not to mention genetically modified…) are usually the most detrimental to our health. My favorite Ayurvedic and dietary writer, Maya Tiwari says individual foods eaten in excess, “consume a large amount of energy during digestion, weaken the digestive fire, and disturb the process of vital tissue transformation that follows digestion”, so eating copious amounts of corn and wheat, every single day in almost all of our meals would certainly cause some disruption. The same can be said for sugar, dairy, fruits, meat, starchy vegetables or anything, really, eaten in excess. Remember…balance?

Also, and most importantly I think, grains are not prepared like they were when our ancestors would eat them. The sacred act of cooking and preparing grains has left our culture, and most of us eat grains in the form of boxed meals and processed breads. The whole grain form (the traditional way of eating grains) keeps the germ (or bran) and endosperm of the grain in tact, providing a much higher nutrient capacity. We would rinse, soak, massage and kneed our grains into their prepared form (thereby cultivating a personal touch and relationship to this sacred food) which translates into our nutrition intake. By eliminating these steps, and also processing the grains (breaking the bran and endosperm apart), we lose an enormous amount of it’s nutritional capacity. So is it still worth eating, or not?

That is for you to decide, and I encourage you to pick a grain and try preparing it in it’s whole form. My favorite grain is millet and here is one of my favorite ways to prepare it: Harissa Roasted Roots with Crispy Chickpeas and Herby Millet Pilaf

 

Lindsay Kluge M.Sc, CNS, LDN | HealthCoach@EllwoodThompsons.com

Warming, Nourishing Indian Recipes for Dinner

Even though we’re moving our of winter this month, it’s still plenty cold and wet enough out there to come home and have a savory, warming dinner filled with delicious spices and veggies. The below recipes are simple and easy to make (or experiment with) and do take bit of time to prepare, so a weekend afternoon in the kitchen may be best to try these out. I’ve been really enjoying these Indian recipes on the frigidly cold nights, and these recipes make a hefty amounts so leftovers are abundant (if you’re not sharing them with a crowd!).

Naan Bread

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar or honey
  • Pinch of baking soda
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2.5 cups yogurt
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon ghee
  • Flour for rolling

Directions:

  1. Dissolve yeast in water. Add salt, sugar, baking powder, flour, and olive oil. Mix well.
  2. Add yogurt and mix. Add yeast water and mix. Form the mixture into a soft dough. Let dough stand for 3-4 hours until it doubles in size. Punch down the dough and form into 6 balls to roll in the flour (to prevent sticking) and roll out to about 1/4 inch thick. Bake on a pizza stone in the oven at 500F or grill for about 3 minutes (bake until they bubble and then flip – watch them closely). Brown the baked naan with ghee.

Tandoori Chicken (or tofu)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of skinless chicken breasts, legs or thighs (or optional firm tofu).
  • 2 tablespoons of tandoori seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Make diagonal incision with a sharp knife in the chicken or tofu. Mix all of the ingredients together and apply over the chicken or tofu. coat well. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours. Skewer chicken or tofu and grill until done.

Spiced Garbanzo Beans

Ingredients:

  • 1 15-oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp. Coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. flour

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425°. In a medium bowl, combine the beans, oil, coriander, cayenne, salt and flour. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and roast at 425° for 30 minutes or until crisp. If they start to pop, they’re done!

Saag Paneer with Tofu

Ingredients:

  • 14 ounces firm tofu, drained and cut into large dice
  • 3 tablespoons Coconut oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon peeled, minced fresh ginger (from about a 1 inch piece)
  • 1 serrano chile, stemmed and finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt

Directions:

  1. Place the tofu in a single layer on a large paper-towel-lined plate; set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the tofu and cook (be careful—the oil may splatter), turning occasionally, until it’s golden brown on a few sides, about 10 to 12 minutes. Meanwhile, dry the plate and line it with fresh paper towels.
  3. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the tofu to the paper-towel-lined plate. Spread it into a single layer and season with salt; set aside.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion to the pan, and season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, serrano, garam masala, measured salt, coriander, and cumin and cook, stirring occasionally, until the spices are fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Add the spinach and stir constantly until heated through, about 3 minutes. Add the cream and water, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the yogurt. Taste and season with salt as needed. Add the reserved tofu and let sit until heated through, about 1 minute. Serve with steamed rice or naan.

 

Lindsay Kluge M.Sc, CNS, LDN | HealthCoach@EllwoodThompsons.com