The Goddess Weighs In

Living Large and Healthy

The Blahs Are Upon Us

on February 21, 2013

It’s most of the way through February, the days are getting longer, but not yet long enough, the weather is bleak, dreary and wanting and while we’ve had some interesting storms, right now we have icy slop and bitter winds.  Our reserves of good natured patience are tapped and we’re cold, bored and tired.  I could work on my house, I could go to the Y, I could brave the cold and venture out of doors, but really what I want to do is curl up nice and toasty in my flannel sheets and wake up when the first bulbs are pushing up in the garden.

But since they won’t let me hibernate, I’m going to make some Chai.

I mentioned ages ago that I was perfecting my recipe and that I would post it when I had nailed it down.  But every time I make it it’s a bit different and each time I like it.  So in an uncharacteristic, devil-may-care move I’m going to give you the recipe I started with and tell you to have at it and modify it to your own taste.

The original recipe I worked from can be found here http://awoodennest.blogspot.ca/2011/08/spiced-chai-concentrate.html

Spiced Chai Concentrate
4 1/2 cups water
1 stick cinnamon
1 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, chopped
7 whole cardamom pods
2 whole star anise pods
10 whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (I toss in 10 peppercorns)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon orange zest (I use the zest of one orange)
10 bags of black tea
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon vanilla

Prepare the spices and the tea, and set aside. Bring the water to a boil, and remove from heat. Add the spices and the tea bags, and allow the mixture to steep for 15 minutes.

This makes a concentrate that is to be mixed 1:1 or 1:2 with milk or a milk-like beverage.  I prefer it on ice with equal parts sweetened vanilla almond milk which could explain why I’ve been able to cut back on the sugar and honey, but experiment and see what you like. My friend Jenette liked it hot, without milk, which I think is a bit strong, but that’s just me.

I researched the ingredients (see the links below) and chai is full of what are called “warm” spices, most of which have positive effects on gastrointestinal health.  As well pepper can be used to treat coughs, colds, sinusitis, heart problems, colic, diabetes, and anemia  The caffeine in black tea can stimulate the metabolism, increase brain function and alertness and it’s slower acting than the caffeine in coffee or colas which means it won’t give a jolt of energy and then drop off suddenly. Theophylline, also found in black tea, stimulates the respiratory system, heart and kidneys which helps to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.  Tannins in tea may help to fight viruses including influenza, dysentery and hepatitis. Ginger root is an anti-histamine and decongestant, and can help reduce the symptoms of colds, nasal allergies, sinusitis, mouth ulcers, bronchitis, and asthma. Orange zest or peel contains hesperidin which helps to lower LDL cholesterol (the bad one), lowers triglycerides and reduces the risk of heart disease. It also works to normalize blood pressure, reduces bone loss, acts as an anti-inflammatory and fights some types of cancer, especially breast cancer.

All that goodness and it’s tasty too.

I tend to double or triple the recipe when I’m making it because peeling ginger and zesting oranges are not my idea of fun and I’m a cook once, eat twice kinda girl, but for your first batch you may want to keep to the above proportions before you start to experiment. I can’t guarantee that it will cure the “blahs”, but it will definitely warm you up and make your house smell nice while we’re trapped inside.

– the Goddess

Health benefits of:

Black Pepper http://completewellbeing.com/article/zing-tang/

Black Tea http://www.healthdiaries.com/eatthis/9-health-benefits-of-black-tea.html

Cardamom http://completewellbeing.com/article/cardamom-the-queen-of-spices/

Cloves http://completewellbeing.com/article/clove-a-highly-useful-aromatic-herb/

Cinnamon http://completewellbeing.com/article/the-nice-spice/

Ginger Root http://completewellbeing.com/article/goodness-of-ginger/

Orange Zest http://healthessentialproducts.com/html/health_benefits_of_orange_zest.html

Nutmeg http://completewellbeing.com/article/a-nutty-affair/

Star Anise http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/health-benefits-star-anise-4835.html

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