The Art of Making Tea-Beginner

16265627_1317595031654592_6083181443600359016_nI’ve always been a coffee lover but, I have to admit, the health and wellness benefits of tea are appealing. There is something sweet and romantic about tea that I find intriguing.  A couple of weeks ago I saw an ad that a local yoga studio was hosting a workshop on the ‘Art of Tea Making’ so I was excited to satisfy my curiosity.

Herbologist and Yoga Instructor, Brandy Manguno, led the half yoga and half tea making workshop.  It was magnificent!  I left feeling relaxed and empowered to begin my tea adventure!

Brandy began by sharing how Earth gives healing to us by way of her plantlife.  king-pigeonIt’s so easy to pop a pill for our ailments, but if you want to give your body a chance to receive God-given organic methods for healing, tea making is a way to do that.

Whatever your issue there seems to be a tea remedy, i.e. cold–lemon balm; depression— skullcap; insect repellant–lavender; PMS–chamomile.

Here are some of the basics I learned from Brandy’s, “Art Of Tea Making Tea-Beginner” workshop:

Tea Basics 101

What you need:

  1. Make sure your tea is fresh and organic.  Here are websites that provide quality herbs: http://www.wildweeds.com http://www.jeansgreens.com http://www.mountainroseherbs.com
  2. The scoop on prepackaged tea bags: The downside of tea bags is that the plants become more oxidized so they lose a large portion of their flavor and medicinal value.  The positive side is the convenience.  Selecting organic brands will ensure fewer chemicals and pesticides will make their way into your hot cup.
  3. Begin with 2- 3 ingredients.  A general guide is that your daytime base should include green tea and a nighttime base a chamomile.
  4. Brandy provided mesh tea balls for everyone.  I have found it easy to use for a newbie like me. Here is a link for a small mesh tea bag infuser: https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/catalog/teas/accessories#product-1698
  5. Tea should be stored in a sealed container as air tight as possible and in a cool, dark place.

How to steep your tea:

  1. Fill your mesh ball half to 3/4 full with herbs.  The herbs will expand in the water.
  2. Pour hot water, not boiling, over leaves, flowers and stems.  Pour boiling water over roots.
  3. Put a plate over your cup and let it steep for 8-10 minutes.
  4. Lick your plate! A lot of the nutrients are there;)
  5. Add honey, lemon, milk and enjoy!

Later on that week I shared with Brandy that I made tea from the herbs I mixed in class and it was nasty!😝  I gave it another shot and used less of my blend and it was much better.

Brandy said, give your tea a chance for your palatte to accept.  Treat tea making just like cooking.  You are learning to put a little more of this and a little less of that.

The Romantic Aspects of Tea:

The act of drinking tea can be a luxurious experience.  Savoring the smell and taking time to sip your tea is very soothing and relaxing. It’s a simple way for all of us busy folks to ground ourselves and have a bright spot in our day.

With Valentine’s Day almost here you might be wondering about a ‘modern day love potion.’

e70d0feb032d7941406e7510ac604c0aThere are many herbs that can boost libido for women and men.  A tea that Brandy mentioned for women is hops and for men, red clover, but there are many more!

When you live with many stresses in life it can take the passion out of your sails. Including tea time as a regular part of your day can recharge your batteries and provide a mental, physical and spiritual boost.  It’s a simple way to take control of your health.

If you would like more information on Brandy, her workshops, or a consultation her website is http://yoga-llc.com/about/

Her tea blends are sold at Cosmic Karma in Mandeville.

Tea making is more of an adventure that I ever realized!  I hope this inspires you to take a plunge into the world of tea.  Enjoy Your Tea Adventure!

 

 

Advertisements

ABC Ab Exercise

Want a fun way to eliminate a stubborn lower-belly pooch?  ABC abs will do the trick but be prepared, this might sound like child’s play but it will challenge you!  What makes this exercise fun is to go through the alphabet with a group of friends and think of a healthy food for each letter:-) It serves as a positive distraction from the fire in the abs.

img_4195

I’m always on the look out for creative ways to challenge my fitness class and they had a blast with it!  Class ended with lots of chatter and laughs which is music to a coach’s ears.

Here’s how you do ABC Abs:

  1. Lie on your back, extend your legs and pretend that your toes are like pencils and write the A, B, Cs with your feet.  You could even do it old school style and write in cursive;)  The bigger you make your letters the harder you will work.
  2. Place your hands under your lower back to provide support.  If you feel too much tension in your back, or if your hamstrings are tight, go ahead and bend your knees a little bit.
  3. Imagine you have a belt strapped to your waist that anchors you to the floor.  You don’t want your lower back to come off the floor unless you are doing a hip lift to dot the letter ‘I.”
  4. As you write out your letters name a healthy food, for example, ‘A’ avocado.  If you are doing it with a group, take turns.  The longer it takes the person to think of a food, the more time spent holding a contraction!  Yowza!

ABC abs with the kiddos!

I’m thinking I could have a blast doing this with these lil’ angels!  LOL!  This would be a fun way to share fitness and teach them about healthy foods.

img_1824You could have them make letters standing up with their arms in a ‘Charlie’s Angels’ pose;)  Let me know how you share the fun with your little ones!

 

Skinny Peppermint Mocha

The other day my routine was changed and I can’t believe how it caused me to experience a series of missteps.  I won’t go into the details, but let’s just say my morning was a hot mess.  I stopped to get a coffee to help me regroup.  I made sure to lock all the doors because my husband had a talk with me the night before about that.  Wouldn’t you know it, I locked my keys in the car!

15193690_1115804685205782_4856398437908955152_nWhile I waited on my hubby to come to my rescue with a spare key, I decided to try a skinny peppermint mocha. It just sounded so good to me and it did not disappoint!  I’m now hooked and ever since last week I’ve been experimenting to find an even healthier recipe to make at home.

As I sat with my skinny peppermint mocha and egg white sandwich, I decided that I was going to turn the day around!  Maybe the peppermint had a little something to do with it.  Peppermint has a calming effect on the body.  Actually there are few body, health, and mind issues that it cannot help.

Factoid: Peppermint is mentioned in Greek mythology where water nymph Mentha was transformed into an herb by Pluto who had fallen in love with her and wanted people to appreciate her for years to come.

All of this makes me feel even better about stumbling across my new Christmas indulgence:)  This recipe includes a skinny peppermint syrup that provides for several servings to have on hand for whenever your craving hits.  Your wallet and waistline will thank you!

img_3992

Ingredients for Skinny Chocolate Peppermint Syrup:

1 cup water
4 peppermint tea bags
1 cup sweetener (I used stevia)
1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

*Once it cools off pour in a jar or bottle and store in refrigerator

Instructions

  1. In a saucepan, heat a cup of water until it starts to a boil, then add the tea bags, cover and let steep for  5 minutes.
  2. Discard the tea bags and add the sweetener, cocoa powder and peppermint extract. Bring to a boil, and stir until everything dissolves.  Boil for a few minutes then remove from heat.

Ingredients for one Skinny Peppermint Mocha

2/3 cup dark roast coffee
2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
3 tbsp skinny chocolate syrup
To prepare your mocha latte:

1. Brew coffee, I used the smallest cup setting on my Keurig (be sure to use a large coffee mug)
2. Heat milk until hot and pour in a blender: Blend for 30 seconds to 1 minute until mixture becomes frothy and foamy
3. Add chocolate peppermint syrup to coffee
4. Gently pour in the frothy milk

Tip: If you want to make a protein peppermint mocha add in 1-2 tbsp of your favorite protein powder.💪

Pumpkin Protein Muffins

img_3665

I love the Summer with the longer days of sunshine and beach trips so it’s hard for me to say goodbye. The one thing that helps to make it better is pumpkin.☺️

I especially love baking with this fruit, yes, pumpkin is technically a fruit, crazy huh?  These pumpkin protein muffins do not disappoint!  They are nutritionally packed with vitamin A, fiber, protein and natural sweetness!  What this means is that you stay fuller longer so you have the perfect healthy snack-:)  WIN!

I decided to top my muffins with a cream cheese protein icing. I’ve included that recipe for you too:)

Oh, by the way, you could totally use this same recipe to make pumpkin protein bread.

020

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups oat flour (read below for making your own)

1/2 cup oats

2 scoops vanilla protein powder

1/4 cup Stevia or 30 drops of organic stevia

1 tsp cinnamon

2 medium ripe bananas

1 1/4 cup pumpkin (no sugar added)

1 whole egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mash up the bananas and mix with wet ingredients.
  3. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
  4. Place batter in prepared muffin pan and bake for 12-15 minutes or until cooked through. If making banana bread bake for 20-25 min.

*Grind up oatmeal in a blender until it’s a fine consistency to make your own oat flour.

*I freeze these and keep some in the frig for a snack when I have craving for something sweet*

Cream cheese protein icing:

2 oz low fat cream cheese

1/2 cup of Greek yogurt

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

10 drops of stevia (1 Tbsp for powder stevia)

2 Tbsp almond milk (or whatever milk you have)

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Berry Picking & Blueberry Pancake Recipe

IMG_3057

Last month Remi and I were lucky enough to catch the last weekend to pick blueberries at a local berry farm, Blue Harvest Farms, in southern Louisiana.  It was our first time experiencing berry picking so we got all geared up for our adventure.🤗

Hats:  √

Boots:  √

Sunscreen: √

Buckets:  √

Shades for Titi Sunshine: √

We had a blast!  We chit chatted with other berry pickers, she entertained everyone around us with singing, and I seized some teaching moments on practicing mindfulness, which for her involved savoring one or two…

IMG_3063Some veteran blueberry pickers shared with us a great tips:

  1.  Look for powder-blue berries that are firm and uniform in size.
  2. When you get them home spread them-out in a single layer on some paper towels.  If possible, store them in a moisture-proof container for up to five days.
  3. Don’t wash until you’re ready to use them.

I froze half of our batch to use for smoothies or to add in to my banana protein ice-cream.  Here is the link to that recipe:

https://www.instagram.com/healthy_justice/

The rest of the berries we shared with our family and used to make blueberry pancakes.

Now that I have little ones in my life I realize how challenging it is to get them to eat nutritious food, and this is a meal they actually request.  It’s so simple and using a food processor makes it even easier!

IMG_3136Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1 tablespoon organic stevia
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cup milk with 1 tablespoon vinegar (I let it soak for awhile)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs

Directions

  • Place flour, oats, stevia, baking powder, baking soda, salt, buttermilk, vanilla, oil and egg in a food processor and puree until smooth.
  • Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.

The homemade orange juice is also simple and makes breakfast even more of a delight!  

IMG_3191

Ingredients

1/4 cup (60 ml) water
2 medium navel oranges, peeled, quartered
3/4 cup (180 ml) ice cubes
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar or other sweetener, to taste (optional)

Directions

Place all ingredients into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.
Select Variable 1.
Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.
Blend for 1 minute or until desired consistency is reached. Serve immediately.

Here is a link to Blue Harvest Farms: http://blueharvestfarms.com

If you would like to find a berry farm close to you, this link might help: http://www.pickyourown.org/index.htm#states

 

Quick and Easy Summer Lunch Recipes

Here are some healthy lunch and snack recipes that will make meal prep easy during the hot Summer months!

Spring Rolls

Think of it as a salad except that it’s easier to eat and more fun.-:)  You could add in some protein with shrimp, chicken or tofu to make it a more filling lunch.

IMG_3100 IMG_3101

Ingredients:

rice paper–avocado–your favorite veggies

Directions:

  • Soak your rice paper in a large bowl of warm water for about 10 seconds (or follow directions on your package).
  • Lay it on a moist clean towel and layer on your veggies & if you want.  Sprinkle with rice vinegar or Asian dressing.
  • Roll it up burrito style by rolling forward once, tucking in the sides and continuing to roll forward.

*Optional step: sauté your veggies in 1/2 Tbsp of sesame oil, 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce and 2 garlic cloves.

Dipping Sauce

3 Tbsp soy sauce, 3 Tbsp nut butter, 2 tsp chopped garlic, 1/2 tsp sesame oil

Turkey and Veggie Roll Ups

Another easy grab and go snack or light lunch idea.  These are surprisingly tasty eats!

FullSizeRender (9)

Ingredients

organic deli meat

green beans & carrot slices

mustard

Roll up 1-2 steamed green beans, a carrot slice and a strip of mustard.

Chicken Salad Lettuce Wrap

IMG_3213

Ingredients

1½ pounds pre-cooked chicken (I use a store bought rotisserie & remove the skin)
½ cup plain, non-fat Greek yogurt
¼ cup light mayonnaise
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup red seedless grapes, cut in half lengthwise (20 grapes)
½ cup coarsely chopped unsalted, raw walnuts or pecans
1 cup thinly sliced celery (about 3 stalks)

Combine yogurt, mayo, vinegar, honey, salt, and black pepper in a large mixing bowl.  Add chicken,  grapes, and celery and toss until everything is coated in the yogurt sauce. Give it a quick taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed.  Chill before serving.

 

Homemade Chocolate Candy

IMG_2892

I’ve always been a person that needs a little something sweet after a meal and these homemade candies are perfect!  Actually they are great for whenever you feel a sugar craving coming on.  They satisfy your sweet tooth, are easy to make and good for you!

Here are the ingredients you will need:

IMG_2864

You have the option to use maple syrup, VitaFiber, or you could opt for a sugar free version by using liquid stevia.

Step one:  melt coconut oil in microwave

IMG_2914

Step two:  I used VitaFiber and heated it over medium to low heat until it began to bubble.  I poured it, along with the coconut oil, vanilla and 10-15 drops of liquid stevia, over the cocoa powder.

I use measuring cups to make it easier to pour into the ice cube tray.

IMG_2915 IMG_2916

Step 3:  mix everything together until smooth

IMG_2870

Step 4:  pour 1/2 of the mix into ice cube tray, then sprinkle in your dried fruits and nuts

This would be super cute to find heart shape trays especially for Valentine’s Day.💞

IMG_2917

Step 5: cover the fruit and nut mix with the remaining chocolate mix and pop it in the freezer for a few hours.  Let them sit out for a few minutes and they pop out nicely when I take a butter knife to one edge.  Enjoy!

IMG_2921