This Fuller Life

Building health, sustainability and community.

Category: Drinks

Gut Healing Tea

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Even though it is summer, my love for hot tea remains strong. I usually drink at least 1 cup of tea every day. If it is really too hot, then I will drink it chilled. I have a whole cabinet stuffed full of bags of dried herbs for tea, and I love that I can mix different herbs to make a tea that suits how I am feeling at that moment. Continue reading

Soothing Spiced Hot Cocoa (with Gelatin, Turmeric and Cinnamon)

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Today I have a delicious hot cocoa recipe for you! It has all the yummy taste of hot cocoa with the soothing properties of turmeric and gelatin. Perfect for an after dinner snack. Continue reading

Nourishing Herbal Infusions

Much to the curiosity of my husband and most other people, I enjoy silence. Most of the time I drive in silence, if I am home alone I will work in silence, I workout in silence, etc… I think a lot and never seem to run out of things to think about. Especially when I am working out or studying I need silence to focus. Also, my part time job is cleaning houses and for the last 2 years I have cleaned in silence. But, eventually I got tired of thinking to myself all the time and found myself wanting to listen to something.

My solution became podcasts! I have subscribed to several free channels that have great information about organic farming, herbalism, and traditional food preparation and it has been such an encouragement to hear their interviews and stories. I am thrilled to have found a way to incorporate learning about what I am passionate about into my current job.

Along that note, several podcasts I have listened to recently discussed nourishing herbal infusions. Susan Weed is an herbalist and big proponent of herbal infusions and has a whole page on her website devoted to talking about them. Basically they are made from a large amount of herb placed in a jar with boiling water and left to steep overnight. The herbs are strained out and the resulting liquid is filled with soluble vitamins, minerals, and protein.

 I ordered my herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs. I had been planning an order for the last six months and when I purchased coconut oil and alkanet root for our makeup day I got the chance to order everything else on my list.

The herbs I am using are Nettle and Oatstraw.

Susan Weed’s instructions say to use 1 oz (1 cup) of herb per quart of water. I really enjoy the taste and I wanted my herbs to last a littler longer, so I normally use between 1/2 to 2/3 cup dried herb per quart.

I measure the herb into the jar and fill it with boiling water. Most of the time I try to do it sometime before dinner so it has cooled off enough to put in the fridge before we go to bed. Then in the morning I strain out the liquid and we drink it with breakfast.

Here is what it looks like the next morning. I forgot to get a picture of it in our glasses. The nettle infusion gets really dark and tastes pretty earthy so I add in some dried peppermint leaf.

Taken from Susan Weed’s website, Nettle rebuilds the adrenals and the kidneys, keeps the blood vessels flexible, shines up the hair, improves skin tone, nourishes the immune system, and moderates or eliminates most allergies.” 

I have been giving it to Chris to help with his allergies. We have both noticed that his allergies are noticeably better than they have been the last two years.

We drink nettle infusion every other day and on alternating days we drink oatstraw infusion. It is prepared the same way.

Also taken from Susan Weed’s website, Oatstraw reduces high cholesterol, increases libido, and strengthens the nerves. A cup of oatstraw infusion contains more than 300 milligrams of calcium plus generous amounts of many other minerals. Its steroidal saponins nourish the pancreas and liver, improving digestion and stabilizing moods.”

We have been drinking nourishing herbal infusions for about 2 months now and I am loving it! I am almost out of my herbs so I made another order from Mountain Rose Herbs. I am going to be adding infusions of Red Raspberry Leaf (for regulating cycle/reducing symptoms of PMS) and Comfrey (for joint, bone, and skin health). It is like my body recognizes that I am taking in something truly nourishing and I look forward to my glass of infusion every morning! 

In regards to their effectiveness, the herbs that I am using for my infusions are gentle nourishers so their effect increases over time with consistent use.  I expect it to take between 4-6 months to really notice a difference. However, something big that I have noticed in the last 2 months is a decrease in cravings for unhealthy foods. Also, I find I am a lot less hungry in between meals and I have consistent energy throughout the day. I look forward to other improvements in health as I nourish my body with the nutrients and minerals it needs for maintaining health.

I know I experiment with a lot of things. Some of the them fizzle out because I can’t commit. However, I feel that I can easily incorporate these infusions into my daily routine. I find this much easier than a daily green smoothie or green juice to get my morning nutrients, and much more enjoyable than a supplement. I plan to continue this indefinitely and hopefully one day in the future I will even be able to grow and harvest my own herbs for my herbal infusions :)! 

Water Kefir

I told you the other day that I had started drinking kefir. Now, there are two different kinds of kefir. Milk kefir, which you may have seen at your local grocery store and is similar to yoghurt but a more pour-able consistency, and water kefir. I have been making the water version of kefir. It is made from little grains of yeast and friendly bacteria that feed off of sugar water creating natural carbonation and lactic acid in the process. It is a refreshing, sweet and sour, effervescent drink that is high in beneficial bacteria, and therefore, good for you.
This is my most recent batch. It is a light brown color from the molasses. I put a little bit of lemon juice and fresh mint after I strained it out, and it was very refreshing. 
There are recipes and information all over the internet about different ways to do it. It is pretty forgiving, and everyone has their own unique technique. However, to start home brewing water kefir you must first obtain water kefir ‘grains’. Unlike sourdough or other fermenting processes you cannot create the grains to make it. For my birthday my Mother bought me a water kefir kit off of ebay with live grains and had it shipped to my house. It was a great birthday present! You can get them either dried or live. I have heard that the dried ones are harder to get hydrated and aren’t as reliable. So, you can order hydrated ones off the internet or find someone you know that brews it themselves.
Once you get your grains you will need a glass jar, piece of cloth or coffee filter, rubber band, non-metal spoon, sugar, a slice of lemon, and water.
Step One:
Place the grains in the bottom of your glass jar and add the correct amount of sugar and water. As a rule of thumb, to every tablespoon of kefir there should be a tablespoon of sugar and 1 cup of water. Stir with a non-metal spoon to dissolve. It’s okay if it is not all dissolved at once. You can stir it again in a few hours and it should be good by then.
Step Two:
Add a large slice of an organic lemon. If you can’t find an organic lemon, just peel off the waxed part of a conventionally grown one. It is not good for the grains to be in contact with the pesticides in the lemon peel. The lemon slice serves to balance the pH in the kefir.
You can also add different flavorings like slices of fresh ginger or carrot and dried unsulphered fruits depending on your tastes.
Step 3:
Once you have all your ingredients together in the jar, place a cloth or coffee filter over the top of the jar and secure it with a rubber band. Then let it sit in an out of the way part of your kitchen for 24-48 hours depending on the temperature, the type of sugar used, the desired sourness, etc. You can taste it along the way and strain it out once you think it is ready.
Step 4:
Strain it right into a glass and drink, or you can store it in a sealed glass container in the fridge until you are ready to drink it. If it has been 48 hours and it still isn’t as sour as you like it, strain it out anyway, put a fresh batch of sugar water with the grains. Then you can let your strained kefir go through a second ferment on the counter until it reaches your desired taste.
With my kefir I have been using a mixture of 80/20 white sugar and molasses, and about 50% of the time a slice of lemon. For some reason, since the summer started and it has been so hot, my grains have not been doing so good. When they are healthy and thriving they can multiply anywhere from 5-400% in days. Mine have not multiplied in the last month or two and some of the grains look like the texture of sand. I was doing some research and I think I haven’t been changing the sugar water often enough. I may need to start changing it every 12-24 hours because of the high temperatures in our kitchen. I have found a great informational website on water kefir. It has the answer to any type of question you might have. It is a company called Yemoos Nourishing Cultures and you can click here for their water kefir webpage.
Also, as a quick side-note, here is the exciting harvest from our garden this morning. We woke up and literally half the tomatoes on the plants were ripe. We harvested 6 swiss chard leaves, 2 okra pods, 1 little bell pepper, a lot of cherry tomatoes :), and about 16 brandywine tomatoes. Some of them have to ripen on the counter for a few days still. They were weighing down the bushes and we thought it would be better just to go ahead and pick them. I am excited about some wonderful fresh pasta sauce!
This is a close-up of our mini pepper. Unfortunately, it didn’t taste that good. It was very bitter. Maybe I left it on the plant too long thinking it needed to grow bigger. I will let you know on the next one.

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