Health Benefits of Honeysuckle Tea

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Ahhh, honeysuckle. That sweet scent transports me back to my childhood and long, hot summer days. The vine didn’t grow in my yard. However, the flowering plants covered the neighbors’ fence, across the street. In fact, honeysuckle covered one corner section of their yard, creating a small “secret garden”.  I’m grateful for the kindness of this dear couple. Looking out their window, they often spied me sitting quietly there in the corner, breathing in that tantalizing scent.

Later my grandfather, an avid gardener, nurtured a honeysuckle plant in his backyard. I brought home a start from that plant, as an adult with a yard of my own. Sadly, that plant did not thrive.

Now I have a honeysuckle vine, gracing a trellis near the front porch. It is a European variety, showing off cream colored blooms tinged with bright pink. Last fall, as I studied foraging for wild edibles, I discovered that fragrant honeysuckle flowers are suitable for tea.

I’ve patiently waited for spring and for my honeysuckle to bloom, so I can sip on my first cup of honeysuckle tea. Days of heavy rain finally gave way this afternoon to sunshine. To my delight, the first honeysuckle flower fully opened to the warmth.

Health Benefits of Honeysuckle Tea

Health Benefits of Honeysuckle Tea

Beyond its amazing scent, which has benefits as well, honeysuckle is a medicinal plant, used for thousands of years to boost health in a variety of ways. The flower has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Traditionally used in tea form, honeysuckle is available also as an essential oil.

Honeysuckle offers these impressive health benefits:

Powerful Detoxifier

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, honeysuckle tea is known as a natural way to remove heat and toxins from the body, making it an excellent tonic for the liver.

Heals Upper Respiratory Tract Infections

Honeysuckle is an potent remedy for colds, flu symptoms, bronchitis, COPD, asthma, fever and pneumonia. The plant acts as an expectorant, helping to relieve congested air passages.

Relieves Digestive Disorders

This flowering plant is helpful in treating digestive disorders such as ulcers, diarrhea, nausea, bloating, Crohn’s disease, urinary tract disorders and pain and inflammation in the small intestine.

Improves Oral Health

Honeysuckle’s antibacterial and astringent properties improve gum health. Create a natural mouthwash by combining two cups of boiling water with half a cup of honeysuckle flowers and leaves. Let steep for at least five minutes. Remove flowers and leaves and allow mouthwash to cool completely before using. Gargle and swish in mouth daily.

Health Benefits of Honeysuckle Tea

Helps with Type 2 Diabetes

Studies show that honeysuckle decreases high blood sugar levels and reduces insulin resistance when used over a period of time.

Eases Arthritis and Auto-Immune Disorders

Honeysuckle’s powerful anti-inflammatory abilities bring relief to those suffering from arthritis symptoms. The plant shows promise in helping those with auto-immune disorders also, such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, bursitis and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Heals Skin Infections

Native Americans boiled fresh honeysuckle leaves and bathed skin wounds with the tea to prevent infection and speed healing. Today, honeysuckle oil is added to skin creams and ointments to help heal skin rashes, eczema, psoriasis and rosacea. Honeysuckle slows the aging process as well, fighting free radicals that damage the skin and cause wrinkles.

Aromatherapy

I’ve recently learned about the benefits of aromatherapy. Inhaling the sweet scent of the honeysuckle flower relaxes and calms the body. Further, the scent stabilizes mood, relieves stress and helps to prevent depression.

Health Benefits of Honeysuckle Tea

Possible Side Effects of Honeysuckle Tea

There are a few possible side effects with honeysuckle. It is not recommended for pregnant women or for young children. Because it regulates blood sugar levels, do not use honeysuckle tea if you are already taking medication for this condition. And there are a few people who are allergic to this plant and may experience mild skin irritation. Talk to your doctor before drinking honeysuckle tea, if you have concerns.

Preparing Honeysuckle Tea

Preparing the tea is simple:

If using fresh flowers, add two or three large blooms to a mug. Pour boiling water over the flowers, cover and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Strain and sweeten with honey, if desired.

When fresh flowers aren’t available, add 1 – 2 teaspoons dried honeysuckle to a cup of boiling water. Cover and steep for 15 minutes. Strain and sweeten with honey, if desired.

I plucked that first honeysuckle bloom this afternoon, and added another that appeared close to blooming. After steeping in hot water for 15 minutes, I tried my first sip.

The freshly brewed tea was light green in color, with a delicate slightly sweet aroma. And the taste? Honeysuckle tea is similar to green tea, with a mild, earthy flavor. Although it doesn’t taste like honeysuckle smells, there is a distinct honeysuckle quality to it, a hint of flavor from that sweet nectar within the flower.

I enjoyed it very much!

Health Benefits of Honeysuckle Tea

Tastes Like Summer

For me, honeysuckle tea tastes like summer. Inhaling the scent as I made tea, sipping on the hot liquid, had the same effect as sitting in the secret garden created by those fragrant vines. I felt peaceful and full of joy, centered and whole.

I could easily see back through the passage of time, to my younger self, sitting happily in that corner garden, thinking big thoughts and watching the bees dance among the honeysuckle flowers. In my imagination, she turned to look at me. I raised my cup of honeysuckle tea in acknowledgement and appreciation.

She smiled.

Health Benefits of Honeysuckle Tea

Want to experience another wild edible tea? Try Sweet Violet Tea.

Check out Lowe’s Garden Center, for a variety of honeysuckle plants.

And you can order dried honeysuckle by clicking on photo below:


 

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Vegan Black Bean Brownies

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I know, I know. Black bean brownies? The title of the blog post gives away the secret ingredient in these rich and decadent vegan brownies. I’ve looked at posts and Pinterest recipes for black bean brownies. I finally found one, thanks to Chocolate Covered Katie, with a wholesome, easy to follow recipe. The ingredients are staples that I keep on hand. I felt ready to give these flour free, refined sugar free, egg and dairy free treats a try.

Vegan Black Bean Brownies

Vegan Black Bean Brownies

Vegan Black Bean Brownies

Rich chocolate brownies with no flour, refined sugar, eggs or dairy.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
10 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Vegan Black Bean Brownies
Servings: 9 squares

Ingredients

  • 1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup gluten free rolled oats
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips, sweetened with stevia

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 8x8 baking dish.
  • Combine all ingredients, except the chocolate chips, in a food processor. Blend well until completely smooth.
  • Stir in dark chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle additional chocolate chips on top, if desired.
  • Bake 15 minutes. Let brownies cool at least 10 minutes before cutting and serving. Makes 9 - 12 servings.

Vegan Black Bean Brownies

Vegan Black Bean Brownies

Vegan Black Bean Brownies

Can You Taste the Black Beans?

I prepared this special treat quickly this evening. While the black bean brownies cooled, I brewed a cup of lemon balm tea, with fresh herbs from the garden. Greg knew I was preparing a new dessert recipe, however I didn’t tell him what the ingredients were. I wanted him to taste the brownies first.

The black bean brownies smelled wonderful as they baked. I removed them from the oven after exactly 15 minutes and they were perfect.

After allowing them to cool for about half an hour, it was time for the taste test.

These black bean brownies are WONDERFUL! Rich, moist and full of chocolate flavor, I couldn’t taste the beans at all. Greg enjoyed two brownies, with a glass of almond coconut milk, and declared them very good.

Then, and only then, did I tell them about the secret ingredient. I have to say, I really appreciate that Greg is so willing to try new recipes. He thought the brownies tasted great and found that one or two satisfied him totally.

Vegan Black Bean Brownies Make the Cut

These brownies definitely go into my treat rotation. They are so quick to prepare and have a short baking time. I like too that the recipe makes a small batch of brownies. We primarily eat fruit for “dessert”. Even healthy snacks such as these brownies and Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookies are considered an occasional specialty rather than a frequent occurrence.

The vegan black bean brownies make a wonderful dessert for guests or a treat to take to a family gathering. No one will guess what the main ingredient is! However I feel good knowing I am contributing to everyone’s health while providing a delicious dessert.

Vegan Black Bean Brownies

Order this food processor by clicking on the photo:


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Gluten Free Strawberry Shortcake

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For the last Liver Rescue Book Club meeting tonight with my mom and sister, I provided our plant based meal. I served up my Easy Oven Roasted Potatoes with a couple of veggie sides. For dessert, I wanted something fresh, light and healthy, as temperatures today soared into the 80s. I also had an almost full container of strawberries in the fridge.

Remembering that Anthony William recently shared a luscious looking gluten free strawberry shortcake recipe, I checked his website. Based on what I had on hand, I made a couple of adaptations. Perfection!

Gluten Free Strawberry ShortcakeGluten Free Strawberry Shortcake

Gluten Free Strawberry Shortcake
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Gluten Free Strawberry Shortcake

This light and refreshing treat is the perfect conclusion to spring or summer meals.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Gluten Free Strawberry Shortcake
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups gluten free oat flour may use almond flour
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup solid coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup may use raw honey
  • 1 pound strawberries, halved, for topping sweeten with 1 tbsp raw honey if desired

Whipped Cream

  • 1 14 ounce can full fat coconut milk chilled overnight in fridge
  • 2 - 3 tbsp raw honey

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400F. Combine oat flour, tapioca flour and baking powder in a large bowl, mixing well.
  • Cut the coconut oil into small pieces and add to flour mixture. Using hands, combine oil with flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  • In a small bowl, combine almond milk, vanilla and maple syrup or honey. Add to flour mixture. Mix until dough forms. Using hands for mixing is easier than using a spoon.
  • Turn out dough on floured surface or a square of parchment paper. Cover with a second sheet of parchment paper and roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. Using a cookie cutter or glass, cut circles and place shortcakes on parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Bake for 10 - 12 minutes, until shortcakes are slightly browned. Remove from oven and cool for 30 minutes. While shortcakes cool, add a tablespoon of raw honey to strawberries and chill in refrigerator.

Whipped Cream

  • Chill mixing bowl in freezer for 10 minutes. Remove thick cream from top of can, leaving coconut water behind. Using an electric whisk or mixer, beat coconut cream until soft peaks form. Slowly add raw honey a little at a time, continuing to beat for two more minutes.
  • Assemble shortcakes by placing a spoonful of whipped cream on biscuit, followed by strawberries. Top with more whipped cream. Or add a second biscuit and repeat the layers, ending with berries. 

Notes

You may substitute cocowhip topping instead of making your own whipped cream.

Gluten Free Stawberry Shortcake

Gluten Free Strawberry Shortcake

Gluten Free Strawberry Shortcake

Delicious Dessert

I purchased Cocowhip topping from Natural Grocers rather than making the whipped topping myself. It’s available in the frozen foods section of the store. I’ve not yet made whipped topping from coconut milk however it’s on my list of things to try!

I also used gluten free oat flour and unsweetened almond/coconut milk. The recipe made 13 shortcakes.

This gluten free strawberry shortcake is delicious. The shortcakes are slightly sweet and pair well with the honey sweetened strawberries.

This simple yet showy dessert is wonderful for special occasions or celebrations or final book club meetings. I envision topping the shortcakes this summer with a variety of fresh fruits such as blackberries, blueberries and sliced peaches.

Gluten Free Strawberry Shortcake

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Easy Oven Roasted Potatoes

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This week my mom, sister, Greg and I began the Liver Rescue 3:6:9 cleanse, from Anthony William. Watch for an upcoming book review and my experience with the cleanse. The meals for the first three days are very similar to my usual daily fare. I’m reducing fat intake and including an extra lemon/lime water in the evenings.

For days 1, 2 and 3 I’ve prepared easy oven roasted potatoes for lunch or dinner. They are that good! Previously I made potato wedges, seasoned them, and roasted them in the oven. Lately I’ve been cubing the potatoes instead. The result is crispy on the outside tender on the inside perfectly seasoned potatoes.

Greg swears he could eat this meal every day! As we shift into the next phase of the cleanse, potatoes are off the menu. No worries, however. These oven roasted potatoes wait for us in the near future.

Easy Oven Roasted Potatoes

Easy Oven Roasted Potatoes

Crispy and yet tender, these potatoes make a great side dish or meatless main meal. Eat alone or create a veggie bowl featuring the oven roasted potatoes and other cooked veggies, a salad or raw veggies such as sliced tomatoes and cucumbers.

Easy Oven Roasted Potatoes

A simple recipe for a meatless meal or a flavorful side dish.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Easy Oven Roasted Potatoes
Servings: 4
Author: journeywithhealthyme

Ingredients

  • 4 large potatoes peeled & cubed
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil melted
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400F. Melt coconut oil and set aside. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Place cubed potatoes in a large bowl. Add sea salt, onion powder, garlic powder and paprika. Stir to coat potato cubes. 
  • Add melted coconut oil. Stir to coat. Spread potato cubes out in single layer on baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes, until potatoes are browned and cooked through.

Notes

Potato skins may be left on, if desired. Substitute two sweet potatoes for two regular potatoes, for a great roasted potato mix. 
Olive oil may be used instead of coconut oil.

 

Easy Oven Roasted Potatoes

Healthy Potatoes

Occasionally someone asks me, “Aren’t potatoes bad for you?”

I’ve believed that in the past. Potatoes get lumped in with other “white” foods with low nutritional value, such as white bread, white rice and sugar. However, they are high in potassium, B6 and amino acids…in particular Lysine in its bioactive form. Lysine fights against cancers, viruses such as Epstein-Barr and shingles, liver disease and inflammation.

Potatoes strengthen the kidneys and liver, soothe over excited nerves and help the digestive system to heal from Crohn’s, irritable bowel syndrome and ulcers. They are antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial, relieving stress, supporting the brain and helping us to feel centered and grounded. Read more about the health benefits of potatoes HERE.

I eat a LOT of potatoes. They are one of the mainstays of my diet. And potatoes are so versatile.

Tonight’s simple and wholesome meal consisted of oven roasted potatoes and lightly sautéed vegetables. My dinner was delicious, healthy and extremely satisfying. I truly can, and do, eat like this every day.

Easy Oven Roasted PotatoesOven roasted potatoes and lightly sautéed onions, garlic, celery, green pepper, zucchini and carrots with slightly steamed spinach. 

 

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Meatless Dirty Rice

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Brown rice is a staple in my kitchen. I’m always on the lookout for great vegan rice recipes that are easy to prepare. Recently three such recipes showed up in my social media feeds. This one, Meatless Dirty Rice, meets my criteria of using readily available ingredients and being quick, easy and healthy.

I found this dirty rice recipe via Messy Cutting Board and adapted it to what I had on hand. That’s the beauty of this dish…versatility. Swap out ingredients, play with the spices, double the recipe.

Meatless Dirty Rice

What is Dirty Rice?

Dirty rice is a traditional Creole dish made from white rice that gets “dirty” from being cooked with veggies such as celery, onion and green pepper, and spices. It typically includes pork, beef or chicken. Meatless Dirty Rice swaps out white rice for brown, and excludes the meat entirely.

Meatless Dirty Rice Recipe

I cook the brown rice in a pressure pot and have it ready. Rice may be prepared in a saucepan on the stove. Start with 1 cup of dry brown rice and 1 1/2 cups of water, to create approximately 2 cups of cooked rice.

Meatless Dirty Rice

All the goodness and taste of Creole inspired Dirty Rice, without the meat.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Meatless Dirty Rice
Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion chopped
  • 1 green pepper diced
  • 3 celery stalks chopped
  • 2 garlic minced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can garbanzo beans mashed
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp creole seasoning
  • 2 cups brown rice cooked

Instructions

  • Saute onion, green pepper, celery and garlic in coconut oil, until veggies are softened.
  • Stir in diced tomatoes, cooking for 1 minute.
  • Add mashed garbanzo beans, kidney beans, paprika and creole seasoning. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes.
  • Add cooked brown rice. Stir and cook 5 minutes. Serve.

Notes

Substitute 12 grape tomatoes halved, for canned, if desired.

Meatless Dirty Rice

Be Creative

Serve up dinner in under 30 minutes with this simple recipe. My kitchen smelled wonderful, as I prepared Meatless Dirty Rice. And the taste? Oh, so good! In fact, I’ve made dirty rice three times in the last two weeks.

What I appreciate most about this recipe is its versatility. Messy Cutting Board used what she had in her kitchen to create a quick meal…and I did the same, using her recipe as a template. Prefer black beans or red beans over kidney beans? Swap them. Have red peppers in the fridge instead of green? That works too. I prefer brown rice, for its nutritional value. However, use white rice if that’s what you have.

I buy organic creole spice mix at Natural Grocers. You can order the spice here. The small amount adds mild spiciness. If more heat is desired, increase the amount slightly.

Try out this Meatless Dirty Rice, playing around with the recipe, making it yours. And then…enjoy!

Meatless Dirty Rice

Check out another favorite rice recipe of mine, Lentils & Brown Rice

And this easy and quick recipe from My Dainty Soul Curry Fried Rice

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Fruit Smoothie Bowl

Every morning, I enjoy a fruit smoothie for breakfast. I alternate between regular smoothies full of a variety of fresh and frozen fruits, and the heavy metals detox smoothie. It contains additional ingredients such as Hawaiian spirulina, Atlantic dulse and barley grass juice powder.

Occasionally, after a long day, or when I am craving something cold, I have a second smoothie for the evening meal. These smoothie bowls combine the goodness of fruit with fun, healthy toppings. It’s like having dessert for dinner!

Fruit Smoothie Bowl

Easy Fruit Smoothie Bowls

Follow these simple steps to create a smoothie bowl.

• Begin with an assortment of frozen, unsweetened fruits. My smoothie base tonight combined frozen bananas, strawberries, mangoes, peaches and pineapples. Using frozen fruit creates a thicker smoothie. Blend 4-6 cups of frozen fruit, adding small amounts of water or almond milk, until a smooth thick mixture forms.

Fruit Smoothie Bowl

• Spoon smoothie mixture into bowls. For a firmer texture, pop bowls into the freezer for 30 minutes. I rarely do that, preferring to top my bowl and eat it right away.

Fruit Smoothie Bowl

• Top smoothie bowl with an assortment of fresh or frozen fruits, unsweetened coconut, nuts, seeds, dulse, spirulina or drizzles of raw honey or maple syrup.

I topped my bowl with freshly sliced banana, frozen wild blueberries, unsweetened coconut, walnut pieces and chia seeds.

Fruit Smoothie Bowl

Meal Replacement

Replacing a meal with a fruit smoothie bowl gives the digestive system a break, as fruits are so easily digested. The nutrients are assimilated quickly, nourishing the body and supporting the immune system.

And variations are endless! Try different combinations of favorite fruits, nuts, seeds and even herbs and edible flowers. Be creative. Play with your food. Then enjoy this smoothie bowl that tastes like a cold creamy dessert. Enjoy, without one bit of guilt or regret!

Fruit Smoothie Bowl

Chamomile Benefits

I have associated chamomile with relaxation and a good night’s sleep. The dried flower from this healing herb makes a soothing and delicious hot tea. However chamomile, used medicinally since ancient times, has many healing benefits beyond creating drowsiness.

Chamomile Benefits

Chamomile is a member of the aster family. Two types of chamomile are commonly used for their healing benefits, the German and Roman varieties. Chamomile tea is beneficial as a sleep aid which is especially helpful for those who suffer with insomnia, sleep disturbances, a racing mind, or high anxiety and stress. However, chamomile also has other significant healing properties such as the ability to soothe a disturbed digestive system by easing flatulence, stomach aches, ulcers, and cramping, and by aiding in overall digestion and elimination.

The herb also helps to relieve bronchial and sinus congestion, calm anxiety and panic attacks, decrease menstrual cramping, ease muscle spasms, lower blood sugar, fight cancer and reduce migraine pain. Chamomile tea’s anti-inflammatory properties make it beneficial for reducing swelling associated with arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other auto-immune diseases. Chamomile tea cleanses the liver and kidneys by stimulating them to purge out toxins and eliminate them from the system.

Chamomile Benefits

Chamomile has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties making it especially helpful in fighting against colds, flus, infections, and even Candida. Chamomile tea is excellent for children as it can calm colicky infants and teething babies as well as soothe children that are irritable, cranky, and restless. Its mild flavor is often accepted and enjoyed by children especially when sweetened with honey. As a topical remedy, cooled chamomile tea can be applied to the skin to help soothe rashes, chickenpox, psoriasis, eczema, and burns, including sunburns.

Chamomile tea can also help to relieve eye fatigue and dark circles. Apply a cooled tea bag to the eyes for five minutes at night as a gentle and effective compress. Chamomile and peppermint tea are often used in combination due to their synergistic properties to help the body cleanse, relax, and heal. (Info from the Medical Medium blog. Check it out HERE)

Chamomile Benefits

For the first time I am growing German chamomile in my herb garden this summer. My intention is to keep adding healing herbs each year, until I truly do have a complete apothecary garden available for use. Today I snipped fresh chamomile flowers to combine with dried chamomile that I had on hand. I added three teaspoons of the dried herb and a small handful of fresh blossoms to two cups of boiling water and let it steep for 15 minutes. Chamomile has a delicate floral scent and flavor. I don’t add honey. However, I am looking forward to trying out herbal combinations, such as chamomile and mint, chamomile and lavender or chamomile and lemon grass.

On this rainy day, with mild thunderstorms rolling through the area, a cup of hot chamomile tea was the perfect afternoon soother. I included a couple of homemade sugar free, gluten free cookies made from three simple ingredients, to tea time. Watch for that recipe Tuesday.

I’m sipping chamomile tea, nibbling on a cookie, and feeling grateful for the healing benefits that plants provide. This is bliss.

Chamomile Benefits

Cantaloupe Smoothie

I love melons. Chilled chunks of cantaloupe and watermelon, combined in a big bowl, or served individually, makes a satisfying summer meal. I’ve already experienced adding watermelon to juices and smoothies. Watermelon/mint is a great combo for a refreshing smoothie.

I had not tried creating a smoothie from cantaloupe…until today.

Cantaloupe Smoothie

Anthony William posted an easy smoothie recipe a few days ago, calling it Cinnamon & Vanilla Cantaloupe Smoothie. It looked wonderful and I was excited to try it.

Last night my daughter Adriel and son-in-law Nate gave Greg and me a HUGE cantaloupe, the biggest one I’ve ever seen. It was perfectly ripe and its sweet scent filled the house. I knew what I would be creating for Try This Tuesday!

Cantaloupe Smoothie by Anthony William

1 cantaloupe, roughly chopped (or half a HUGE cantaloupe)

1 cup of ice

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon alcohol free vanilla

1 – 2 tablespoons of raw organic honey, if cantaloupe isn’t very sweet.

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth and creamy.

Cantaloupe Smoothie

This yummy smoothie not only packs the flavor, it delivers health benefits as well.

Cinnamon has the highest antioxidant level among all foods. Cinnamon helps to ease nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, indigestion and arthritis. It lowers cholesterol and regulates blood sugar.

Vanilla has a calming effect on the nervous system and reduces anxiety and stress. The aroma of vanilla has been shown to induce feelings of happiness and relaxation. The active ingredient in vanilla…vanillin…soothes an upset stomach, aids digestion and eases headaches.

And cantaloupe is high in vitamin C, which is important for supporting the immune system and fighting bacterial and viral infections. This melon relieves nervousness and calms anxieties. It keeps the heartbeat normal and regulated when under stress, while keeping muscles relaxed and free from cramps and hypertension. Cantaloupe helps to remove excess sodium from the body, reducing water retention and bloating. (Info from Anthony William.)

I enjoyed sipping on this frosty, delicious smoothie this afternoon as the sky darkened and thunderstorms rolled through the area. The cinnamon and hint of vanilla turned the drink into a special treat that reminded me a bit of pumpkin pie…healthy pumpkin pie!

And…I have half of the cantaloupe left over, chilling in the fridge, to be enjoyed later.

Cantaloupe Smoothie

Nettle Leaf

I first became aware of this plant as a youth. Brushing bare arms or legs against it could result in a temporary stinging sensation. Stinging nettles were something I learned to avoid. However, long before I switched to a plant based lifestyle, I discovered the surprising benefits of drinking nettle tea.

Nettle Leaf

This adaptogenic herb provides support for our bodies during times of stress. The leaves contain vast amounts of phytochemicals, anti-inflammatories and alkaloids. Nettle leaf is also full of bone building and bone protecting silica, 40+ trace minerals, and it contains a potent natural pain reliever.

This wild food, that many consider a weed, provides amazing support for the adrenal glands and the endocrine system that are often overburdened, overworked and fatigued. Adrenal fatigue can severely affect women in particular, causing reproductive system symptoms such as hormonal imbalance, infertility and perimenopause. The problem can be that the adrenals need help, rather than the reproductive system. Nettle helps to address multiple sources of hormone disruption.

Nettle Leaf

Nettle leaf eases infections in the urinary tract, bladder and kidneys, and fights against cystitis and reproductive cancers. It’s a powerful ally against viruses such as Epstein Barr and shingles, and helps the body to recover from rheumatoid arthritis, post traumatic stress disorders, autoimmune diseases, anxiety, depression and mood swings.

For the greatest benefit from this centering herb, use it in dried form to create tea. I buy dried nettle leaf by the ounce. It’s available in health food stores and health conscious grocery stores. Add a couple of teaspoons of dried nettle to a tea ball or mesh basket and drop into a tea cup or mug. Fill cup with boiling water, cover and steep for at least five minutes. Other dried herbs can be combined with nettle leaf, for unique blends. Raw organic honey or a squeeze of lemon can be added as well.

Nettle Leaf

I have gone from avoiding the plant to regularly drinking a cup of nettle tea during my afternoon tea time. The hot tea brings comfort and a sense of settling and centering to my busy mind.

Nettle brings that same sense of wellbeing to my body as it provides healing and restoration. When I’ve had a stressful day this is my go to herbal tea. I am extremely grateful for this incredible plant.

Nettle Leaf

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Dairy Free Potato Soup

I love soup! I grew up enjoying a variety of homemade soups and stews. One of my favorites was my mother’s potato soup. A steaming bowl of creamy potato soup is the perfect comfort food for a cold winter night.

This plant based version is just as perfect as the soup from my childhood, and without the milk, cream or butter, it is good for me too!

Dairy Free Potato Soup

Potatoes, like fruit, have gotten a bad rap. They have been blamed for a variety of ills including obesity and diabetes. In truth, potatoes help to reverse illnesses. High in minerals, and vitamins such as B12, and the crucial amino acid Lysine, potatoes help to fight off cancers, inflammation, liver disease, and viruses such as Epstein Barr and shingles. They also strengthen the kidneys and soothe the digestive system.

Try this savory, nutrition packed soup, and bring the goodness of potatoes into your life. I adapted this recipe from my mom’s and a creamy vegan potato soup I found on the recipe app Yummly. More about this great app in a future blog post!

Dairy Free Potato Soup

  • 6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 large carrots, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 cups of water or vegetable broth
  • 1 can coconut milk, or 2 cups of non dairy milk
  • Cashew sauce (directions below)
  • Sea salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat olive oil in large pot. Stir-fry carrots, celery, and onion until veggies are tender, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and parsley and cook 1 minute longer. Add potatoes and water or broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Add coconut milk or non dairy milk and cashew sauce, stirring well. Simmer for 5 more minutes, and serve.

Cashew Sauce

Soak 1 cup of cashews in water for 2 hours. Drain and rinse. Combine cashews and 1/3 cup of water in blender. Mix until smooth sauce forms. Add 1 teaspoon salt and dash of pepper.

Dairy Free Potato Soup

This soup was so delicious. The cashews are neutral enough that you can’t taste the mildly flavored nuts at all. However, the cashew sauce adds a richness to the broth that is scrumptious. I included the minced parsley in my soup, but it can be easily left out, if desired.

I loved all the vegetables in this soup. Combined with the potatoes, they make a hearty, flavor packed meal that I will make, and enjoy, often.

Dairy Free Potato Soup