Growing Herbal Tea in My Garden and Kitchen

I love my garden and spend many hours outside pruning, watering, and fertilizing. I need to feel nature and my plants takes me there. I began growing herbs that can be used to make teas a few years ago. Lemon balm is one of my favorites. I’ll actually eat a leaf when walking past the plant. It’s taste like lemon Pledge I used years ago to dust my furniture if that makes sense. I also cut a few branches and place them in a bag with lavender leaves when I travel. I use them as natural perfume by rubbing the combo on my wrists. Lemon balm has many uses including repelling insects. I love the stuff.

This year I added another spearmint plant to my kitchen windowsill. I love the smell and on top of the scent it’s a pretty plant that thrives indoors. The combo of lemon balm and spearmint is one of my favorite teas. This year I’m hoping to have enough spearmint to make it through a cold winter (lemon balm grows like a weed and isn’t a problem).

I cut the spearmint stems along with lemon balm and hang in my kitchen with other herbs. When they’re dry, I put them into my special tea containers (bought at the dollar store for $1 each so very special) and store them in the cupboard.

Dried jasmine flowers can also be added in teas along with lemon thyme which I added to my garden this year but haven’t cultivated yet. I enjoy creating combinations of flavors and testing them on my picky palate.

There are so many health benefits and I know there are no pesticides and I use organic fertilizer to keep them growing strong.

Lemon Balm – Eases stress and anxiety, contains rosmarinic acid (a chemical compound with antioxidant properties). Also used for insomnia, cold sores, high cholesterol, genital herpes, indigestion, and heartburn.

Spearmint – Contains vitamins, antioxidants, and vital nutrients. The aroma is very similar to that of peppermint. Is rich in limonene, dihydrocarvone, and cineol.

Your windowsill might be empty now but you could be growing the next best combination of teas on the planet so don’t let the perfect growing space go to waste.

I took these pictures early in the morning so the light isn’t the best but I think you get the picture 🙂

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Stay Healthy and Eat Cake

One of the things I love about healthy eating is guilt-free dessert. On an average day, I drink green juice when I wake up. Have two shots of ginger orange an hour later, and another shot of green juice before heading to the gym. Two hours later I come home and shower then sit down with a green juice smoothie and enjoy it on my back deck before my writing day begins. At around one in the afternoon I have a handful of nuts (usually cashews) and my last smoothie of the day comes at three. We eat dinner between five and six but the highlight of our evening is dessert.

Never skip dessert!

Our delicious tummy extravaganza is one of the following:

blueberry cheesecake

brownies w/frosting

chocolate chip cookies

lemon meringue pie

Homemade ice cream

and the newest edition… German chocolate cake

Eventually I’ll have the recipes listed for all of these delightful desserts but today it’s all about the cake. Snacking is one of the bad things we do in our daily life and if you think back to your childhood (if you’re over 50), you’ll remember a time when snacks had to be prepared. They didn’t come in small snack-size packages nor did they have harmful chemicals. You were also more likely to eat a piece of fruit for your snack because your mother slapped your fingers if they went near the cookie jar. Green juice fasting took away our need for snacking throughout the day so dessert is a favorite in our house.

Cake ingredients:

2 1/4 cups – almond flour (blanched is better in this recipe)

9 tablespoons – cocoa

9 tablespoons – flax seed plus 27 tablespoons water, mixed together and set aside (replaces 9 eggs)

1 1/2 cups – butter (unsalted)

3 teaspoons – vanilla extract (I make my own)

3 teaspoons – baking soda

1 pinch – salt

sweetener – 24 drops liquid Stevia or 1/2 cup pure maple syrup (found cheapest at Cosco or

1 cup – Enjoy Life chocolate chips (optional but super yummy when added)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350

Grease bottoms and sides of two cake pans with olive oil. Place parchment paper in the bottom by cutting to pan size

Prepare flax seed/water egg replacement and set aside

Mix dry cake ingredients

Mix wet ingredients with flax seed and water

Pour together and mix well by hand, add chocolate chips if you’re using them

Bake for 40 minutes (I bake at high altitude and you might want to check sooner) bake longer if needed. Cake might fall and that’s okay. Check center with fork or toothpick and it will come out dry when ready. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before removing from pans.

Frosting Ingredients:

2 cans- coconut milk, full fat, refrigerated 24 hours before preparing (we always keep 2 to 4 cans in our fridge)

1/2 cup – pure maple syrup

2 teaspoons – vanilla extract

2 tablespoons – arrowroot starch or tapioca starch

2 tablespoons – shredded coconut

1/2 cup – finely chopped pecans

Instructions:

Turn cans of coconut upside down and open with can opener. Drain off clear liquid until the white coconut fat is left. Poor into medium size pan and turn on low to medium heat.

Mix in maple syrup, vanilla, starch and whisk together while heating. As frosting heats it will thicken. Add coconut and pecans once thickened and continue stirring for a few minutes, remove from heat.

Once cake is completely cooled add frosting and enjoy!