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Warming Holiday Spices & Chai Recipe

By Crystal Baldwin, December 15, 2021                                                                                            
It’s the most wonderful time of year…not just because the holidays are here but, because our thoughts turn to some wonderful warming spices that are “good for us” in so many ways.                                                                                                   
Besides being warming & cozy feeling, these herbs are nourishing and supportive during the colder winter months when our bodies slow down, digestion becomes more sluggish and colds & flu abound. Warming winter spices to the rescue.

Aiding Digestion

Do you find it a bit harder to digest those heavier meals during the winter months?  You’re not alone and there is a reason that we are drawn to circulatory herbs during this time as this is the season of over-indulging and eating foods that are not normally a part of our diet.

Warming, more pungent aromatics such as; cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger, black pepper, and cardamom can help ease these digestive disruptions. They go to work immediately by increasing the digestive fluids (bile) warming the stomach, allowing food to flow properly, and easing gas and bloating.

As we all have heard by now 80-90% of our immune system lives in our gut…hence the importance of “gut health” to our overall wellbeing. Keeping your digestive system moving and working well is critical for your immune health – not only during cold and flu season but all year long.

Your digestive tract has a direct correlation to your health and your body’s ability to fight off serious diseases. Keeping things moving is crucial to every organ system and every aspect of your immunity. So have another cup of warming chai.

Increasing Circulation

Just how do warming herbs work? These amazing plants increase circulation by opening up the peripheral blood vessels (at the edges of your body) and pushing more blood into them. This helps warm up fingers and toes and gives your body an over-all “warmed” feeling.

The other good news about this warming action is that the increase in blood movement also helps to remove unwanted bacteria, viruses and garbage that slows down your immune response. It helps to keep everything moving more efficiently.

Go Away Colds & Flu

These warming herbs get their aromatic properties from the wonderful, volatile
essential oils within them, that not only make the herbs smell amazing but, also act as aromatic stimulants.

These essential oils are potent antimicrobials that help kill germs (especially great for upper respiratory illnesses), strengthen the immune system (calling for your body to produce more white blood cells), breaking up mucous and increasing drainage of the lymphatic system – Helping to get rid of those invading microbes that make you sick.

Food as Medicine

There are many ways to use warming herbs (in the bath, in lotions and oils) but food and drinks are the best and they taste awfully good too. There is nothing like a warming cup of hot tea to make everything feel so much better. Try incorporating your warming herbs into soups, sauces, desserts, hot drinks & more…the more the merrier. Here is a yummy recipe to try.

Warming Oat Milk Chai

 Ingredients:

2 Cinnamon Sticks
½ Teaspoon All Spice
½ Teaspoon Whole Peppercorns
3 Cardamom Pods
5 Cups of Water
¼ Cup Honey
5-8 Whole Cloves
2 Whole Star Anise
1 Tablespoon minced fresh Gingerroot (or 1 tsp. ground)
2 Cups Oat Milk (or milk of choice)
Ground Nutmeg, for topping (optional)
5 Black Tea bags or non-caffeinated Rooibos tea
For more immune support add 1-2 Tablespoon of Astragalus root (optional)

 Directions:

  1. Crush or slightly grind peppercorns & cardamom until aromas start to release.
  2. In a large saucepan bring water to a boil, add cardamom mixture, cinnamon sticks, all spice, cloves, star anise and ginger – simmer 5-8 minutes (according to taste). Remove from heat.
  3. Add tea and steep (no more than 3 minutes for black tea, 4-6 minutes for rooibos non-caffeinated tea)
  4. In a small saucepan heat milk, remove from heat and stir in vanilla and honey (do not cook your honey or you will kill the beneficial bacteria)
  5. Strain the tea and spice mixture and stir into the hot milk.
  6. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon & with nutmeg (optional)

Caution
Although drinking chai is generally known to be safe, using large amounts of stimulating herbs that increase blood circulation could present an issue for pregnant women. Using it in low doses is always a good idea and check with your health care practitioner for advice.

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