Though we love the change of the seasons when it means warmer weather on the horizon, this time of year can be hard to adjust to when there are large changes in temperature and weather from day to day. Here in Chicago it was snowing yesterday and in the seventies today! More than the problem of not knowing what to wear, change of season colds can occur while our bodies adjust to the shifts in weather. If this is happening to you right now we've got just the right recipe for you this week. It features seasonal citrus and the amazing ginger root, so let's find out more.
We are considering this recipe a tonic which is defined as "a medicinal substance taken to give a feeling of vigor or well-being". It is so because of the blood orange juice packed with vitamin C, well known to support immunity, and the ginger root which has been studied for many medicinal uses. In terms of cold easing properties and it's use in this recipe, ginger can act as an antihistamine and decongestant. But that's not all, ginger actually has so many medicinal uses that in Ayurvedic medicine it is is known as the "universal medicine". Ginger contains the compound gingerol which acts as an anti-emetic and can help settle an upset stomach and treat nausea and vomiting. This can be a great natural option for pregnant women battling morning sickness or for anyone trying to avoid drug based treatments. All of the active ingredients in ginger are considered antioxidants which can help to reduce inflammation in the body. Ginger even has the ability to increase saliva production which may aid in digestion. Finally, we should note that ginger has the ability to thin the blood and should be taken with some caution in people using blood thinning medication. The form of ginger we are using in this recipe is ginger juice which is convenient to store and easy to use in so many ways! You can add a splash to sparkling water or hot tea, use in sauces and stir fry dishes, add in place of ground ginger in baked goods, or freeze in ice cub trays to save for use at a later date. The short time it will take to make will pay off in convenience and taste. So let's start our recipe with simple instructions for ginger juice.
PREP TIME: 5 mins
TOTAL TIME: 7 mins
Servings: ~4 cups of juice
3 lb fresh ginger root (5-6 cups chopped ginger)
Using a hand held vegetable peeler, carefully peal the ginger root. Roughly chop the ginger and place in a high speed blender (we used a Vitamix). Add enough water to cover the ginger and blend on high for 3-5 minutes until fully processed. Place a double layered cheese cloth over a colander and carefully strain the ginger juice mixture into a jar or pitcher. It is best to do this in a few batches to make sure to catch all the ginger fibers within the cloth. To get the maximum amount of juice we recommend to lightly squeeze the cheese cloth until there is nothing left but dry ginger fiber. Continue this process until all the blender contents have been fully strained. If you have a nut milk bag, use it instead of the cheese cloth method. As you can see above, this recipe makes a lot of fresh ginger juice. We love to freeze the ginger juice in ice cube trays to extend the juice's expiration date and always have ginger easily available. Once frozen, store cubes in an airtight container for 3-6 months. Otherwise, fresh juice can be refrigerated for 1-2 weeks.
Ginger Blood Orange Tonic
PREP TIME: 5 mins
TOTAL TIME: 7 mins
6 blood oranges (will make ~8 oz of juice)
2 oz fresh ginger juice
1 Tbsp honey
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper powder
2 oz plain sparkling water plus more to taste
Using a high speed juicer (or a hand held citrus juicer), juice the blood oranges. Mix in the ginger juice, honey, and cayenne pepper and stir well. Evenly pour the tonic into four glasses and top with a splash of sparkling water. Serve the tonic at room temperature or over ice. If you prefer to drink your tonic warm, add a splash of boiling water and omit the sparkle.
This tonic is a perfect balance of sweetness and spice and just what you need to invigorate your spirits if you do happen to be feeling under the weather. And once you start making ginger juice we swear you'll never stop! With ginger ice cubes on hand in the freezer you will always have that extra kick to add to hot or cold beverages or a ready to go ingredient (once thawed) for many recipes. We'd love to hear about the ways you find to enjoy ginger!
Jess & Cecelia
It's story time here at TGBK and what better way to enjoy a good story than with a delicious cup of tea? When asked how this recipe blog, and our friendship, came to be we easily answer over tea! Soon after meeting through our shared work as dietitians we decided to have a bake night making some of our favorite desserts. And of course this event was not complete without a full blown tea party with beautiful teapots, mugs, and of course great tea. So this post holds a special place in our hearts as we share a deliciously spicy chai latte recipe this week with an extra special ingredient, saffron.
Saffron is the world's most expensive spice by weight, aka fancy! It comes from the the saffron crocus flower which is native to Southwest Asia and Greece. Saffron is expensive because the harvesting is labor intensive during flowering season each fall. Every flower has three threadlike stigmas in the center which are removed by hand and dried to become the familiar spice. Saffron contains carotenoids giving it a rich golden color when added to cooked food or beverages. When using saffron in recipes, remember that a little goes a long way! Saffron has a very pungent taste needing only a thread or two to add a bold, warm, and somewhat exotic flavor to your recipes. We think it is perfectly different and exciting to our taste buds in our chai latte recipe.
Saffron Chai Latte
PREP TIME: 5 mins
TOTAL TIME: 10 mins
Servings: 4, 16 ounce drinks
4 cloves, crushed
3 star anise, crushed
1 cinnamon stick, crushed
1 Tbsp fresh chopped ginger
2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp fresh shaved nutmeg
5 cardamom pods, crushed
10 black tea bags or 5 Tbsp loose black tea
3 Tbsp cane sugar
Almond milk (homemade recipe here), soy milk, or milk of your choice
Saffron springs and sprinkle of cinnamon to garnish
Using a mortar and pestle gently crush the cloves, star anise, cinnamon stick, and cardamom pods until broken and fragrant and place in a tea strainer. Add peppercorn, all spice, ginger, fennel seeds, black tea, and sugar to the tea strainer. Gently pour hot water (~3-4 cups) into the tea pot until full. Allow tea infusion to steep for 3-5 minutes. Remove the tea strainer from the tea pot and place to the side. In a medium size pot, warm milk over medium heat. Feel free to use a milk frother if you have one! Fill half of a large mug with chai tea and top the remainder with warm milk. Add a sprig or two of saffron and sprinkle of cinnamon if desired and enjoy1
*Note that if you don't have a tea pot with a tea strainer spices can be bundled in cheese cloth tied with string for steeping.
Well, we hope you've enjoyed learning more about our beginnings here at TGBK and love the recipe we've shared this week. This chai has a gentle spice, delicate sweetness, and special flavor imparted from the saffron that just can't quite be explained. Looks like you'll have to try this one, friends, for the full flavor story.
We love you a latte,
Jess and Cecelia
Okay.....we know.....this is a natural food blog BUT a delicious cocktail made with seasonal, natural foods should also fit into that category, right? Or at least we think so! And you won't be finding any pre-made drink mixes in this kitchen and won't need any in yours after this recipe. Coming to you just in time as the days get shorter and the nights get colder, this drink is the perfect fit for these fall nights and upcoming holidays!
First we want to remind you that it is still apple season and there are plenty of creative ways to use the abundance! We kicked this apple juice up a notch by infusing with rosemary and vanilla bean but can think of so many more tasty possibilities. As for the spirit in this drink, gin seemed the perfect fit and lends itself well to festive fall beverages because of it's unique flavor. As many spirits, gin is distilled from grain and flavored with botanicals (or plant derived flavoring ingredients). Common to all gin is the flavor addition of juniper berries which give gin it's signature "piney" flavor so perfect for holiday drinks. Though gin is one of the broadest categories of spirits and can greatly differ in flavor profile based on the botanicals added in the distilling process. Some common botanicals added are citrus peels, licorice, coriander, nutmeg, cinnamon and anise. Okay, so gin is natural and flavored with some of our favorite spices - definitely fits the bill for this food blog and many drinks to come this fall. So let's get mixing!
Rosemary Vanilla Apple Juice and Gin Cocktail
PREP TIME: 20 mins
TOTAL TIME: 25 mins
Servings: 4, 5 oz cocktails
6 small or 4 large apples
2 sprigs rosemary
2" fresh vanilla bean (sliced down the center to allow the seeds to come out)
16 oz infused apple juice (above)
4 oz gin
4 tsp pure dark maple syrup
4 tsp lemon juice
4 springs rosemary
4 lemon rind twists
Splash sparkling water/plain seltzer
Using a high speed juicer, juice enough apples to make about two cups of juice. In a small saucepan add juice, rosemary, and vanilla bean. Simmer for 15 minutes until fragrant. Carefully remove rosemary and vanilla bean and place juice in the fridge to completely cool. Add ice, 4 oz infused juice, 1 oz gin, 1 tsp maple syrup, and 1 tsp lemon juice to a drink shaker or a glass jar fitted with a tight lid. Shake well and pour into a glass. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary, lemon rind twist, and top with a splash of sparkling water. Repeat until you have made four deliciously beautiful fall inspired cocktails.
Ahhhhhh.....now how good is that? The savory rosemary combines with the sweet vanilla bean and tangy apple juice to create a drink that is well, perfect. And not to mention how this infused juice allows the subtly flavored gin to really shine and create a festive fall cocktail. We suggest that you make one (or a few!) and cozy up on these fall nights. Or better yet, share this recipe with friends and family this holiday season and wow them all with your mixology skills. What can't you do now, really!?
Jess and Cecelia
As July comes to a close and we really start to get into our summer groove we thought what better drink to refresh on a hot summer night than lemonade? This lemonade is exceptionally summery because it's flavored and slightly sweetened with blueberries. We also used raw honey as a sweetener instead of sugar to mix things up and will explain why before we get to this refreshing recipe.
Honey is made from nectar mixed with bee enzymes. Nectar is essentially a sugary liquid extracted from flowers using a bee's long, tube-shaped tongue. The nectar is stored in the bee's extra stomach, or "crop", and then mixed with enzymes which transform the chemical composition and pH, allowing it to have a longer storage time. The nectar is passed from honeybee to honeybee in a scientific way until the partially digested nectar is finally dropped off into a honeycomb to become honey. But the honeybees' work is NOT done yet! The honeybees continue to work by fanning the honeycomb with their wings (so cute!) to get all the extra water out of the nectar which creates a thick concentrated substance - honey! Are you just as amazed with the honeybees as we are?! Raw honey is honey that has not been heated, pasteurized or processed in any way after its creation by the busy bees. Raw honey contains vitamins, enzymes, and powerful antioxidants which would partially or completely be destroyed with high heat. Raw honey has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties. Because of these reasons, we chose to use raw honey as our sweetener for this recipe instead of simple sugar which just cannot compare. The taste of honey can differ based on nectar from different flowers. Clover honey is a very light tasting honey, whereas buckwheat honey is very dark in color and intense in flavor, similar to molasses. We used clover honey in this recipe but feel free to use whatever honey is your favorite. Now let's get to this sweet recipe!
Blueberry Pucker Lemonade
PREP TIME: 5 mins
TOTAL TIME: 10 mins
Servings: 4 , 8 oz glasses
4 lemons, juiced
1/4 cup organic blueberries
4 1/2 cups water
5 Tbsp raw honey (we like our lemonade sour but feel free to add more to taste if you prefer a sweeter drink)
Juice 4 lemons into a large pitcher with a secure lid and set aside. Combine 1/4 cup blueberries and 1/2 cup water in a high speed blender. Mix on high until evenly pureed. Strain bluebery puree through a mesh strainer or cheese cloth over a glass bowl, allowing the solids (blueberry skins*) to sperate from the liquid (blueberry juice). Add 1/2 cup of blueberry juice to your pitcher with 4 cups water and 5 Tbsp raw honey. Secure with lid and shake well until all honey is fully dissolved (you may notice some honey sitting on the bottom of the pitcher which means...keep shaking!). Serve over ice with a lemon wedge and sip away!
*Make sure to keep the leftover blueberry skins. These contain a lot of nutrients and should not be thrown in the garbage! We froze ours to use at a later time. Here are a few examples of what we plan to use them for: mixed into ice cream, yogurt, goat cheese, or to create a summer salad dressing.
We hope you're enjoying this somewhere outdoors with your feet up because you can bet that's just what we would be doing. The color of this drink is stunning and the flavor is subtly sweet and fruity. We'd suggest keeping a pitcher of this stocked in your fridge all summer because you're going to want more, we promise!
Jess and Cecelia
Ahhhhh, summer - what we've been dreaming about all year. Now that it's finally here we sure hope you are enjoying it in your favorite ways. One of our favorite ways to enjoy summer is poolside with a homemade fresh juice. And how perfect because fresh juice is all the craze these days. But besides the taste, what is this craze all about? Let's find out...
Juices can be found in many different forms. The most common being your standard store bought bulk bottled juices. The quality varies but don't be mislead, even 100% juices aren't quality nutrition because during the processing and pasteurization process many of the beneficial nutrients (vitamins, enzymes and antioxidants) found in fresh fruit are lost. Large name companies often add vitamins back to the juice but they are in synthetic form which (obviously!) can't compete with vitamins found in whole fruit. Becoming popular in the "foodie" realm today is cold-pressed juice. Cold-pressed juice is extracted from the pulp of fresh fruits and vegetables at high pressures to extract maximum nutrients and are preserved without heat methods (pasteurization) meaning the precious nutrients are better maintained. This sounds good right? Well yes, until you see the price- most being at least $5 but usually closer to $10 per bottle. And let's get down to it, if you really want the full benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables you should mainly eat them in their most natural and whole form to avoid loosing their beneficial fiber. But we all need treats and fresh juice is one of our favorites! So if you're into juice too and given the price of cold-pressed juice we suggest springing for a juicer and making your own raw juice at home. Homemade juice is convenient, quick, economical, delicious and nutritious - more nutritious than any other juice forms we mentioned because it is the freshest. There are many juicer products ranging in price, two of our favorite high power juicer brands are Jack Lalanne and Breville. But take a peak at local garage sales this summer, people are usually selling their juicers because they don't know what they have! For this recipe we used a high power Jack Lalanne juicer but there is also another category of juicer, the slow juicer, which no worries we will discuss in another post. So let's get juicing!
PREP TIME: 5 mins
TOTAL TIME: 7 mins
Servings: Makes ~12 oz of juice
1 medium cantaloupe, peeled and cubed
1 lime, peeled
Pinch of sea salt
Toss cantaloupe into your juicer. Turn the juicer on and watch that beautiful orange hue pour into your pitcher. Squeeze fresh lime and sprinkle sea salt on top. Pour into your favorite glass and sip away!
**Don't have a juicer in your kitchen yet? No worries, many fruits and vegetables can be juiced using a high speed blender and cheese cloth or a cotton nut milk bag. Just put your peeled fruit in a blender, add a little bit of water, (this is optional, but will make the blending faster) and turn it on high. Once the ingredients have been blended into a puree, you can drink it as is, or strain the pureed though a cheese cloth or cotton nut milk bag to separate the juice from the pulp.
Is this juice a dream come true or what? If using a very ripe cantaloupe we think this juice tastes like an orange creamsicle and come on, what could be better than that on a hot summer day? We hope your summer is sunny, relaxing and delicious. If you need us you'll find us at the pool!
Jess and Cecelia
P.S. Have you ever seen anything cuter than this cantaloupe bowl!? If you have to have one too you can purchase here.
...I want to be a matcha fan! Matcha matcha fan, I want to be a matcha fan! Never heard of matcha? That's okay! Hopefully we've enticed you with this catchy tune to learn more about this alternative form of green tea. To get you started with matcha we are keeping this recipe simple by using it in one of our favorite forms, a latte! Don't let the bright green color scare you, it doesn't taste like a green vegetable and we swear it's delicious.
So what the heck is matcha? Matcha is a powder made from the buds and leaves of young green tea plants. A few weeks prior to it's harvest, farmers shade the tea plants to allow an increase in chlorophyll to form. The tea is then harvested, steamed, air dried, and finely milled into the final powdered product with it's gorgeous green hue. Matcha tastes similar to typical green tea but with an earthy, delicately sweet flavor and velvety, creamy texture. Matcha has added benefits over steeped green tea because with matcha you are ingesting the whole leaf as opposed to steeping the leaves in water and then discarding. Matcha is a good source of antioxidants in the form of catechins polyphenols (antioxidant benefits were discussed further in a previous post, but you saw that right?) and contains up to 10 times the amount of antioxidants than regular green tea. So let's get down to it- will this kick start my day? We think yes! One teaspoon of matcha contains ~70 mg of caffeine (compared to one shot of espresso providing ~65 mg) and may provide a more steady level of energy/alertness versus the quick boost and then crash from coffee drinks. Matcha may be found at specialty grocers including a variety at Whole Foods Market. It can also be easily purchased online: we like the taste, price and convenience of this brand, but you may find another you love. Matcha can be used to add color and an earthy flavor to many dishes. But our favorite way to let matcha shine on center stage is with a simple matcha tea latte. Ready to give matcha a try?
Matcha Tea Latte
PREP TIME: 10 mins
TOTAL TIME: 20 mins (plus overnight almond soak)
Servings: one 8 ounce latte
1 cup raw almonds
3 cups water
1 vanilla bean
2 tsp matcha powder (sweetened or unsweetened)
maple syrup or honey to taste if using unsweetened matcha or as desired
First to prepare homemade almond milk cover raw almonds with water and allow to soak overnight (at least 8 hours). Drain almonds and add to a blender with 3 cups water and paste from inside the vanilla bean (cut open pods with a small knife and scrape out insides). Blend on high for 2-3 minutes. Milk can be strained through a nut milk bag or using a french press as we did. Pour mixture into the french press and press all the way down separating the almond pulp from the nut milk. The unused milk can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for 5-7 days. Also save the almond pulp for use in future recipes as almond flour. Can be frozen as is and used at a later time or spread onto a baking sheet (pictured) and dehydrated in a 200 degree oven for 30 minutes, stirring once.
Heat 8 ounces of almond milk in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat. Once simmering, remove from heat and whisk in 2 tsp of matcha powder and sweetener if desired. Pour into your most beautiful tea cup and enjoy by the window feeling the spring breeze!
We know this recipe has now turned you into a matcha, matcha fan and you have the sustained energy boost you need to keep you going. Feel free to use alternate nut milk variations and/or try iced and be sure to let us know what you liked best!
Love you a latte,
Jess and Cecelia
Jess and Cecelia welcome you to our kitchen. We are fun-loving and passionate foodies working to make the world a healthier, happier place one plant based recipe at a time.