Radiant Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric and Ginger Tea

radiant turmeric and ginger tea

“Yellow is the ‘lightest’ of all of the warm-spectrum colors and the color which most resembles the sun. It brings with it hope, and the feeling that everything will be all right. It has an air of radiance, brightness, cheerfulness, and gaiety. Yellow is open-minded and inspiring; it glows and illuminates, and at is most positive vibration it corresponds with knowledge and wisdom.”

~ excerpted from Color Your Life, by Howard & Dorothy Sun

So many of us want to find ways to reduce inflammation in our bodies, seeing as, you know, inflammation is possibly at the root of all disease. That’s a super scary idea, and it makes me want to leap into action. It makes me want to find some kind of superhero to help me fight back. And, the super hero that I have in mind just happens to be a ugly and sort of weird looking, but powerful nevertheless. My super hero wears a yellow cape and goes by the name Turmeric.

Turmeric is one of these superfoods we keep hearing about over and over and for good reason – it’s one powerful little root. And, it’s been proven to be anti-inflammatory, to be a powerful antioxidant (protecting the body from the regular ongoing damage that occurs as a result of breathing, exposure to toxins, aging, just existing, etc), and to have promising potential in treating arthritis and joint pain, preventing some cancers, and possibly even preventing and treating Alzheimers.

And ginger! Ginger is great for digestion and/or indigestion, for nausea, and it’s also known to be anti-inflammatory.

radiant turmeric and ginger tea

And can we talk about the colour of this tea? We don’t often pay attention to colour in our lives but I’m learning that colour has a tremendous influence on us in all sorts of physical, mental, and spiritual ways.

We know we’re supposed to eat the colours of the rainbow; here is a way to boost YELLOW. Colours mean antioxidants, which in turn means protection for your cells, radiant health, and high levels of nutrients. Turmeric is a lovely brilliant yellow when dried and when fresh, it kind of looks like a carrot – bright orange and juicy (under the peel, that is. When it has a peel on, it basically looks like ginger, to which it is related).

And as noted above, the colour yellow links to radiance, glow, illumination, cheerfulness, vitality, and all of the other elements of health that we want and that antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods can help us obtain. Coincidence? I think not.

radiant turmeric and ginger tea

Yellow is also the colour that represents the Solar Plexus Chakra, one of the seven energy centres of the body according to Ayurvedic traditions. In this school of thought, the Solar Plexus Chakra governs personal power, energy, and self-confidence. It’s all about purpose and your inner fire. The colour yellow supports and represents this chakra by encouraging radiance and stability and happiness and confidence.

Fire, pep, energy, radiance, yellow. Sound a lot like turmeric? I think so.

All that’s not bad for one little mug of tea.

radiant turmeric and ginger tea

And if you’re worried about this being too spicy, don’t be. I found it delightfully ‘awakening’ in my mouth but not at all burny or uncomfortable (read a description of turmeric’s taste here if you’re curious for more detail). It’s like a nice spicy chai: peppy and peppery, but not painful.

You can drink this straight as a steeped tea, or incorporate some non-dairy milk as I have done. The ground pepper and coconut oil are to enhance the absorption of the good stuff from the turmeric. I like making my tea into a latte because it mellows things into a more comforting mug and adds a nice smoothness. Plus, if you wanted to go crazy and add some coconut milk, you’re incorporating the healthy fats required to aid with turmeric absorption. Hey now!

Radiant Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric and Ginger Tea

  • Author: Backyard Owl (and everyone else on the internet who has ever made this kind of tea)
  • Recipe Notes: gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free or nut-free (depending on your milk), naturally-sweetened

Ingredients:

  • fresh ginger root
  • fresh turmeric root
  • ground black pepper
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy milk
  • (optional) stevia for sweetening

Instructions:

  1. Measure out 1 cup of filtered water and place in a saucepan on low heat.
  2. Grate about 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger and 1 teaspoon of fresh turmeric and add to your water.
  3. Simmer for about 10 minutes (you should notice the water becoming, well, orange coloured).
  4. Pour the tea into your mug and strain out the spice pulp.
  5. Add a few shakes of ground black pepper and the coconut oil.
  6. Sir in 1/4 cup of your favourite non-dairy milk. If required, sweeten with stevia.
  7. Sip and enjoy!

Serves 1.

NOTE: Turmeric will stain anything it touches yellow. Just be warned. Your fingers, your counter, the knife you use to peel it, and so on. So I recommend paying attention while preparing this tea so that you don’t discover you’ve accidentally dyed your face, your clothes, or something else you would prefer NOT to become yellow.

© Backyard Owl

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Happy Holidays and 10 Favourite Festive Posts

happy holidays 2015

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Happy holidays, friends!

Even if it isn’t your favourite season of festivity, Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate) is a wonderful time to remember the joys of family and friends, to savour delicious and healthy food, to feel gratitude for life’s blessings and gifts, and to celebrate the contentment of another year drawing to close, hopefully spent with love, laughter, and joy.

So let me share my 10 favourite festive-themed posts from yesteryear. This list covers clean baking, delicious treats, self-care (very important this year of year – give the gift of love to yourself as well!), and the art (and pleasure!) of giving meaningful gifts:

And BONUS, for when you feel the need to refresh and revive:

Happy Holidays! Enjoy this time with your friends and family.

IMG_0851

 

Crunchy Apple Cider Quinoa Granola – v, gf

apple cider quinoa granola

‘Tis the season – granola time again. Granola is an easy, crunchy, tasty, and delicious addition to your snack and breakfast repetoire. One batch requires minimal work, makes a good amount, and is pretty much foolproof (provided you don’t burn it in the oven).

And the customization options are endless! This particular granola is a sweet blend of apple cider, coconut oil, and maple syrup mixed with nuts, seeds, oats, and quinoa. Then, dried fruit including dried apple rings are stirred in at the end. And that’s pretty much it!

apple cider quinoa granolaapple cider quinoa granola

I’ve taken to eating this at work as a snack. I bring my almond milk in a separate container, and then add to my granola mix (with some chia seeds thrown in for good nutritional measure) and look out, I’m eating cereal at my desk.

The quinoa is a particularly nice addition, in part because quinoa is a wonderful source of protein and minerals (it is a superfood, after all) but also because it just looks really pretty. It gives the granola this extra texture and eye appeal, and eating beautiful foods is important too when we think about nourishment from a holistic perspective.

apple cider quinoa granola

This granola also makes a lovely gift. Store it in mason jars, tie with a bow using some twine or natural string, and you have a beautiful gift for a dinner party, for your friends who are constantly asking you why you don’t bring them granola gifts, or for anyone who enjoys a good mix of sweetened toasted grains and nuts with dried fruit (i.e. pretty much everyone, provided they don’t have an allergy to any of the ingredients).

Enjoy the Festive Season!

Apple Cider Quinoa Granola

  • Author: Backyard Owl
  • Recipe Notes: vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, naturally-sweetened

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 cups mixed nuts and seeds (i.e. sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds).
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup dried fruit (apple rings, raisins, dried cranberries, dates, etc).

Instructions:

  1. Soak quinoa overnight or for at least one hour in the apple cider. It will absorb most or all of the cider.
  2. Preheat oven to 325F.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together oats, nuts/seeds, sea salt, and cinnamon.
  4. In a saucepan, melt coconut oil over low heat and stir in maple syrup.
  5. Pour melted oil/syrup mix over rolled oats and stir well, until everything is coated.
  6. Add quinoa/cider mix and again, stir until everything is well mixed.
  7. Spread out on a baking sheet and bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until granola is dry, lightly browned, and getting crunchy/toasty. Try to stir every 15 minutes or so to keep the moisture circulating and to help release steam.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool.
  9. Add dried fruits and mix around, and then store in your choice of containers: tupperware, mason jars, your stomach, and so on.

(C) Backyard Owl

Fortifying Blackstrap Molasses Hot Chocolate

molasses hot chocolateAs part of my plan for a fortifying fall season, I’m examining the possibilities of using Blackstrap Molasses in more food and beverage options. Why? Well, blackstrap molasses is a huge nutritional powerhouse. It has an incredible number of vitamins and minerals, including:

  • iron (for building those red blood cells! 1 tablespoon has 15% of your daily requirements)
  • calcium (for healthy bones)
  • magnesium (for healthy muscles and heart)
  • copper (for healthy blood, skin, and hair)
  • Vitamin B6 (metabolic functions, possible links to hormones, nervous system);
  • Vitamin K (for healthy blood)
  • manganese (involved in many important enzyme reactions in the body)
  • potassium (for a healthy fluid balance)
  • selenium (an antioxidant – protective of cells))

Calgon, take me away!

It’s worth noting (before Calgon carries me TOO far away) that blackstrap molasses is still a sugar. Technically speaking, it’s a sugar manufacturing by-product (after conventional sugar is made, minerals and a dark syrup remain – this is blackstrap molasses), but it still has carbohydrates in it and still has an impact on blood sugar; so, if you have any blood sugar issues, this might not be the best way to boost your iron. For others, given it’s nutrient profile, blackstrap molasses is a worthwhile addition to a healthy diet, particularly for those who are looking to boost up in iron, calcium, and other essential vitamins and minerals.

molasses hot chocolate

If you’re wondering what else you can do with the giant bottle of blackstrap molasses you just purchased, consider the following:

  • Stir it into muffins or smoothies
  • Bake it into cookies (perhaps ginger molasses cookies?)
  • Drizzle it on pancakes or oatmeal in place of syrup
  • Try it on a slice of toast with some nut butter.

Fortifying Molasses Hot Chocolate

  • Author: Backyard Owl
  • Recipe Notes: gluten-free, soy-free (depending on milk); nut-free (depending on milk), naturally-sweetened (depending on milk variety), vegan

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 cups non-dairy milk;
  • 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses (look for organic and unsulfured)
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • sprinkle of cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Heat milk in a saucepan until just simmering.
  2. Stir in molasses until fully blended;
  3. Whisk in cocoa powder;
  4. Pour into a mug and top with cinnamon

© Backyard Owl

Chewy One Bowl Chocolate Chip Cookies (with Chickpea Flour) – v, gf

chewy chocolate chip chickpea cookies - vegan & gluten-freeSo who here thinks chickpea flour tastes gross? Show of hands. That’s quite a few of you, but I’m betting it’s from when you tried some adventurous gluten-free chickpea flour recipe and tasted the batter and thought, dear god, what monster have I created? Chickpea flour – un-baked – is kind of bitter. It does not taste good. Let’s just get that out of the way right now.

BUT – chickpea flour baked INTO things has no taste, really. That is to say, it loses the offensive taste. And, it keeps the protein, chewiness, and gluten-free fabulousness.

chewy chocolate chip chickpea cookies - vegan & gluten-free

My eyes have been opened recently to the joys of chickpea flour. It makes a delicious cookie, for one, and it’s so versatile! Other cultures have been baking and cooking with chickpea flour for centuries, but North American culture is just catching up. In the last few days alone I’ve seen recipes for chickpea flour flatbreads, quiches made with chickpea flour, french toast with chickpea flour, and blondies with chickpea flour, among others.

And, compared to many gluten-free flours, it’s relatively inexpensive. And, though this may be entirely psychological, it seems a little more “from a whole food” than say, potato starch (how do they get just the starch out of the potato?)

So if you are looking for a healthy treat that is high in protein and fibre, I’d encourage you to try these cookies. You could add raisins, nut butter, or perhaps some sunflower or pumpkin seeds. If you don’t find the batter sweet enough (they are JUST on the edge), feel free to also add an additional tablespoon or two of maple syrup, or, sprinkle the tops with some organic cane sugar.

Welcome to the chickpea flour fan club! chewy chocolate chip chickpea cookies - vegan & gluten-free

Chewy One Bowl Chocolate Chip Cookies (with Chickpea Flour)

  • Author: Tweaks by Backyard Owl; original recipe inspired by Oatmeal with a Fork’s Incredible Protein Chocolate Chip Cookies.
  • Recipe Notes: vegan, gluten-free, source of fibre and protein, soy-free, nut-free, naturally-sweetened

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup COLD/FROZEN chickpea flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • ¼ t. sea salt or himalayan pink salt
  • ½ t. baking soda
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted before measuring
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons (or as needed) almond milk
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Whisk together cold chickpea flour, rolled oats, sea salt, baking soda, and chocolate chips.
  • Melt coconut oil over low heat, and measure out.
  • Add melted coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla to dry ingredients and stir. If needed, add the almond milk.
  • Scoop and roll into balls of your desired size.
  • Bake for about 12 minutes or until lightly golden.
  • Remove from oven, and gently press down with a fork. This step squishes the cookies and improves their chewy factor.
  • Cool, and store in an airtight container.

© Backyard Owl

Back to School Cocoa Granola with Buckwheat and Cocoa Nibs – v, gf

cocoa granola with cocoa nibs and buckwheatFriends, I’m going back to school! Part-time, anyways. I’ve finally decided that now is the time, and I’ve enrolled at CSNN London to obtain my Registered Holistic Nutritionist designation. I’ve wanted to do this for years and I didn’t want to waste any more time – so now I’ll be working full-time and taking classes on a part-time basis. Hurrah!

To celebrate in style (and because, quite frankly, I kind of love school), I decided to make some back-to-school granola. This particular cocoa granola is indeed rather celebratory. And decadent. Deep and dark and chocolate-y, it has lots of crunchy pumpkin seeds, cocoa nibs, and buckwheat clusters. It also has lots of nutrition, in the form of, well, pumpkin seeds, cocoa nibs, and buckwheat clusters, not to mention hemp seeds, flaked coconut, raisins, pecans, coconut oil, and maple syrup.

passion for learning

 

If you aren’t much of a granola breakfast eater, fret not! You can use this as a topper for coconut or almond yogurt and fruit (that’s my new favourite!), or just by itself as a quick ‘boost’ snack. Perhaps you want to mix in some more nuts and seeds for a luxurious trail mix.

Enjoy, and if you too are heading back to school (in any form), I say: all the best! Learning is such a joy. I hope you have fun.

cocoa granola with cocoa nibs and buckwheat

 

Back to School Cocoa Granola with Buckwheat and Cocoa Nibs – v, gf

  • Author: Backyard Owl
  • Recipe Notes: vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, naturally-sweetened

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup buckwheat groats
  • 1 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (sifted, if clumpy)
  • 1/3 cup cocoa nibs
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (or other seeds of your choice)
  • 1/4 cup pecans (or other nuts of your choice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (or himalayan pink salt)
    • PLUS
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (could go up to 1/2 cup if you taste and it isn’t sweet enough)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
    • PLUS
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together oats, buckwheat groats, flaked coconut, cocoa powder, cocoa nibs, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, pecans, salt, and cinnamon.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt coconut oil and add maple syrup and vanilla.
  4. Combine wet and dry ingredients until all dry ingredients are coated.
  5. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the granola is becoming dry and toasty (hard to tell with this recipe, but you’ll see).
  6. Remove from oven, and if desired, clump together to cool (this helps form clusters); or, leave as is to cool. Add raisins and chocolate chips.
  7. Store in an airtight jar or container and enjoy!

© 2015 Backyard Owl

Mango Salad with Cilantro, Cashews, and Tempeh – v, gf

easy fresh mango saladI was in beautiful Kingston, Ontario a few weeks ago, and had dinner at a Thai Cambodian restaurant where I was reminded of the simple, tangy joy of mango salad – fresh mango, sweet and sour dressing, zippy red onion, toasted cashews, cilantro, and red pepper. Mango salad is light, refreshing, naturally vegan and gluten-free, and so, so easy to make.

And it’s perfect for the summer. I know some recipes call for less-than-perfectly-ripe mango, but I say go ahead and use ’em ripe. I did, and it was fabulous. It just makes the whole thing fruitier.

easy fresh mango salad

I also thought it best to add some tempeh for additional protein, so that the mango salad could become a filling lunch or supper. I went with plain, sliced up tempeh, but you could marinate it, if you prefer.

Other than that, basically prepare your mango and veggies, toss with the cilantro and lime juice dressing, top with tempeh, and you’re off to the races. And let me add that this recipe is VERY forgiving. You can make enough for one (just use one mango) or expand it exponentially to feed as many as you want.

Experiment with the dressing to make it what you want. You can add more lime juice, more salt, less maple syrup, more sesame oil. Whatever tastes right to your palate.

easy fresh mango salad

Top with tempeh, cashews, and some smoked paprika!

Mango Salad with Cilantro, Cashews, and Tempeh

  • Author: Backyard Owl
  • Recipe Notes: vegan, gluten-free

Ingredients:

  • 2 or 3 ripe to almost-ripe mangoes
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 of a red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • juice of one lime
  • generous sprinkle of sea salt (or to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 2 or 3 servings of tempeh, sliced
  • smoked paprika (optional), for finishing

Instructions:

  1. Lightly toast cashews and tempeh until your oven broiler (watching carefully, because the cashews will burn very quickly – usually around 4 minutes is good).
  2. Peel and thinly slice mango into a large bowl, and add sliced red pepper and chopped cilantro. Add red onion.
  3. Add sesame oil, maple syrup, salt, and lime juice, and toss well to mix.
  4. Scoop into bowls and top with cashews and tempeh. Sprinkle on some smoked paprika, if desired.
  5. Store any remaining salad in the fridge (it keeps well, thanks to the lime juice and salt).
  6. Enjoy!

(C) Backyard Owl