Friday, July 7, 2017

There's Always Time for a Cuppa Tea!

Benefits of Drinking Tea

Tea has been around for more than 5000 years and is considered to have great healing and medicinal uses.
According to legend, in 2737 BC, The Emperor of China, Shen Nung demanded that all of his water had to be boiled to make it cleaner for drinking. Apparently one day he was sitting beneath a tree while his servant was boiling the water. Some dried leaves from a nearby bush fell into the water causing it to turn brown in colour. The emperor, who was also a herbalist, tried the drink and fell in love with unique flavor, and so the world obsession with tea began.

Seeing the new year in with a hot cup of tea

Relaxing Drink

The simple act of enjoying almost any tea can have a wonderful impact on reducing anxiety.During world war 2, the Women’s Voluntary Service provided much needed tea to the victims of the Blitz as it was a great way to help with shock and stress.
The art of drinking tea is a naturally calming ritual in itself and is nourishing on all levels. The daily routine of sitting down for a cuppa encourages a moment to relax and unwind.  The ritual of preparing, pouring, serving, and drinking tea can become a simple meditation that is soothing for the mind, body and spirit.

Brewing times vary depending in the kind of tea. Tea bags seem to need less brewing time than loose tea.

White and Green Tea need the lowest temperatures and brewed for 1-2 minutes
Black and Oolong Teas need a longer brew time of 2-3 minutes and a higher temperature.
Herbal teas can be brewed for 3-6 minutes. Teas differ depending on how much oxidation they have been exposed to.

Black Tea has a slightly bitter flavor and contains the most caffeine, about 40 milligrams per cup. (A cup of coffee has 50 to 100.) Black tea (or red tea in China) is fully oxidixed as the leaf is rolled and bruised to make a stronger tea.
Health benefits:  lowers colesterol, reduces risk of stroke,
may protect lungs from damage caused by exposure to cigarette smoke.

Green Tea has a light, delicate flavor and contains about 25 milligrams of caffeine per cup.  Green tea is slightly more processed but not oxidized at all. The leaves are laid out in the sun to dry and then pan baked to deactivate the enzyme in the leaf.
Health Benefits – combats allergens, lowers colesterol, promotes healthy gums  and teeth, wards off oral cáncer, boosts eyesight and good for healthy weight control

Oolong Tea is fermented for a shorter time than black tea, which gives it a richer taste. It contains about 30 milligrams of caffeine per cup. Oolong tea is slightly oxidized, as the leaf is bruised a little before it is dried.
Health benefits:  weight management, good for bones and skin, anti cáncer properties, diabetes control, removes free radicals from body

White Tea leaves are picked when they’re very young, so it  has a much milder flavor than any other variety, and less caffeine, about 15 milligrams per cup. White tea is the least processed as it is simply laid out in the sun to dry and is only oxidized 5-10%.
Health benefits:  supports bone health, anti aging, anti bacterial and viral, good for weight management, improves cardiovascular health, encourages healthy immune system

Pu-erh tea: Made from fermented and aged leaves. Considered a black tea, the leaves are pressed into cakes and left to ferment for at least 30 days and even for  years.
Health Benefits – reduces colesterol levels, helps weight management , stress relief, helps with sleep, digestive aid, lowers blood sugar

Kukicha  also known as twig or peasant tea comes from the twigs, stems and stalks of the tea bush. It contains almost zero caffeine and can be given to children. The twigs can be reused 3-4 times and cooked for longer than regular green tea. :  Kukicha is alkaline, rich in minerals especially vitamin C and calcium, and is high in antioxidants.
Health Benefits : cancer prevention, controls blood sugar, burns fat, lowers cholesterol, lowers acidity, combats fatigue, soothing for digestion, good for skin and bones

Herbal Teas are not really teas at all. They are usually a combination of dried fruits, flowers, and herbs. Herbal teas contain no caffeine

Here are some examples and their benefits

Mu tea: meaning nothing or unique is composed of a combination of plants and wild herbs including cinnamon, licorice, ginseng root, mandarin peel, and peony root, It has the ability to warm the body, and strengthen and nourish the adrenals, good for reproductive, digestive, and respiratory systems. Also helpful for bones and joints, sexual vitality, menstrual cramps and irregularity.

Chamomile tea:  good for skin, promotes sleep, antibacterial, soothes stomach upsets, calms muscle spasms, cáncer prevention, diabetes support, and reduces fever.  Often used as a salve for cuts and burns

Echinacea tea: Helps the immune especially for colds and flu

Hibiscus tea: Lowers colesterol and blood pressure

Rooibos tea : Anti inflammatory, lowers blood pressure, aids respiratory system, helps bones and teeth, promotes healthy hair, boosts digestión,  improves blood circulation.

Peppermint tea – stress relief, aids digestión and gas problems, sinus relief, weight loss support, and skin problems

Ginger tea – relieves nausea, improves digestión, relieves menstrual discomfort, fights respiratory problems, and improves circulation.

Uva Ursi tea was first documented in a Welsh herbal book way back in the 13th century. It has been used as a urinary tract antiseptic and diuretic for centuries.

Corn Silk tea: was believed to used as a herbal remedy since 5000BC and first cultivated by the Aztecs and Mayans. Rich in vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin K, C, and potassium and high in antioxidants, it has been used as a diuretic and for UTI.  Anti inflammatory properties, help to reduce pain related to UTI. A gentle way to lower blood pressure and prevent it from dropping too low. Helpful for diabetes. The antibacterial and antiseptic qualities make it good to use externally for skin problems, rashes, boils, bug bites, minor cuts, and itching.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Lemon Barley Water. The Summer Drink

I have recently been really enjoying drinking lemon barley water. It has a wonderful light energy and a refreshing taste.

Barley water is actually an ancient elixir for good health and has been consumed throughout the world for centuries. In Greece, it was called Kykeon and made from barley, and water, and flavoured with mint or thyme. In Britain, it was served as a hot beverage with lemon rind and usually sweetened. And rumour has it that during Wimbledon, the players were often served barley water flavoured with orange. In Southeast Asia, barley water was enjoyed hot or cold and the soft-boiled barley grain was also consumed.  The Indian version, Sattu is made with barley flour and known to be cooling in the hot summer months.

Health Benefits of Barley Water
Barley, known as the King of grains, is a great source of fibre, vitamins, essential minerals, anti-oxidants and phytochemicals which can help lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Barley water is more like the essence of barley and is soothing to the stomach and digestion. It is also a good boost for the immune.

Urinary Tract Infections
Barley water acts as a diuretic and is considered to be a natural remedy for urinary tract infections, it aids in flushing toxins and the infection-causing bacteria out of the body. It can also be helpful for kidney stones or cysts.

Barley water is considered to be a digestive tonic. It sooths the digestion, eases both constipation and diarrhoea and helps restore electrolyte balance. The high fibre content can reduce the risk of colorectal cancers.

Weight Loss
Barley water is marvellous for healthy weight management programs. Its high fibre content, especially beta-glucans, is filling, keeps hunger at bay and helps prevent over eating. Plus barley water stimulates the metabolism of fats.
Lowers Cholesterol and Blood Sugar
Barley water is known for helping maintain healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels.  It inhibits the absorption of LDL and triglycerides and improves insulin resistance. Barley water has anti-inflammatory properties, which help to cool the body and protect the heart.

Good for Pregnancy
Loaded with nutrients, barley water is a lovely, healthy drink for pregnant ladies. It is great for digestion, prevents constipation and eases morning sickness. The diuretic nature of barley water helps water retention during pregnancy.

Benefits the Skin
Barley water is wonderful for healthy glowing skin as it improves elasticity and tone. Barley is full of antioxidants so keeps you wrinkle free and looking young.

Lemon Barley Water is super easy to make
Here is the recipe

Organic hulled barley is preferred. Use 4 tablespoons and soak overnight in water. Discard the water and follow the rest of the recipe
If you want a quicker method then use 4 tablespoons of organic pearl barley and soak for 15 minutes. Discard the water and follow the rest of the recipe
(You can use the soaking water for your plants)
4 cups water
a pinch of sea salt
Juice of 1 lemon

Place the water and barley into a pan and bring it to a boil on a medium flame.
Add the salt and simmer on a low flame for 30 minutes.
Strain the liquid into a jug and add the juice of a lemon.
Barley water can be served hot or allowed to cool for a refreshing summer beverage.

Other options
Try ginger, cinnamon, or the juice of an orange to enhance the flavour.
The leftover grains can be added to soups or salad or put it in your dog’s dinner. They adore it too!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Indian Style Buckwheat

It is very interesting, and many may not know this but buckwheat is cultivated in different parts of India and is used in their cuisine.
I thought I would share this lovely and super tasty dish which is also very easy to prepare.
I find it extremely  nourishing and satisfying especially at this time of year.

Enjoy. Love Chef Mel xxx

Indian Style Buckwheat


1 cup buckwheat rinsed and soaked for  a few hours in 1.5 cups water
1 cup sweet potato diced
1 teaspoon chopped red chili pepper
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
Sea salt
1 tablespoon brown rice syrup
1-2 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1.5 cups water
1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
1-2 tablespoons olive oil

I used one of these chilis


Warm the oil and add the cumin seeds. Saute until they crackle.
Add the chili and ginger and continue to sauté for a few seconds .

Add the sweet potato and sauté for 1-2 minutes.
Pour the soaking water from the buckwheat into a measuring cup to note the amount.
Add the buckwheat to the vegetables. Mix gently to coat with the oil.
Add the same amount of  fresh water as the remaining soaking water.
Add a ¼ teaspoon of sea salt.

Bring to a boil on a medium flame and add the rice syrup and peanut butter.

Simmer, covered for about 20 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.
Mix gently and place into a serving dish.

Serve garnished with cilantro and a squeeze of fresh  lemon juice.

Enjoy xx

Monday, June 27, 2016

Aqua Fresca de Chia

Aqua Fresca de Chia has been a popular drink in Mexico and Central America for many years. It is a simple, refreshing and delicious drink made from Chia seeds, lemon or lime, water, rice syrup (optional), and a sprig of mint.

This high energy drink has many benefits.

The chia plant grows natively in South America and the seeds were an important food for the Aztecs and Mayans.

Chia actually means strength and the seeds were prized for their ability to provide sustainable energy.


Some of the benefits of chia include:

Nutritionally rich – contain, fibre, protein, calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc among many other nutrients,

Full of antioxidants

High in omega 3 fatty acids

Strengthens bones

Helps skin and aging

Aids in digestion

Boosts energy and metabolism

Good for heart health

Helps with weight loss as curbs appetite


Lemon water is loaded with healthy benefits such as:

High in vitamin C as well as potassium, copper and magnesium

Boosts energy and mood

Rejuvenates skin and body healing

Aids in digestion and detoxification

Helps shed pounds

So when put together this drink packs a punch. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do especially on a hot, summer morning.

Place chia seeds into a glass jar to soak. Shake from time to time

Here is the easy recipe

Aqua Fresca de Chia

1 teaspoon chia seeds
1.5 cups spring water
Juice of a lemon
1 teaspoon of rice syrup (optional)
Spring of fresh mint

Place the water and chia seeds into a glass jar. Screw on the lid and leave to soak for 10 minutes. Shake from time to time to keep the chia from clumping together.
Unscrew the lid and add the lemon and sweetener.
Mix well and pour into a glass.
Give another quick stir before drinking.
Serve with a sprig of fresh mint
Sliced cucumbers can also be added.

Enjoy! Love Chef Mel xxx

Sunday, May 22, 2016

In a bit of a Pickle - the art of Pickle making

Pickling is one of the oldest methods of food preparation and was developed to preserve foods that were either exotic, seasonal or  limited by nature and cultivation. Early pickling can be traced back to India around 4,000 to 5,000 years ago. The process was created to overcome the problem of low food production during the hot, dry summer months and the need to preserve excess food produced during the Winter. 

 Pickling has been used throughout the world and the ingredients vary slightly from one country - often from one región or village - to another. Many fruits and vegetables are used such as, unripe fruit, lemon, tamarin, cauliflower, carrots, cucumbers, cabbage, lettuce, soybeans, ginko nuts, plums, apricots, apples and tomatoes. Condiments such as miso, ginger, garlic, chilli, or peppercorns are often added for a hot and characteristic flavour. Animal food was also pickled in many countries including, eggs, oysters, prawns, chicken, fish and lamb.

Interestingly, Pickles in the West generally have sweet, sour, and salty flavors, while Indian pickles are more pungent in taste to help disperse heat.

Health Benefits of Pickles

Full of essential vitamins and minerals – these vital micronutrients protect from disease, help build immunity, strengthen the bones, nourish vision, and improve anemia and blood conditions.

Full of antioxidants - As the vegetables or unripe fruits are stored fresh without cooking, the antioxidants present are preserved. 

Great source of probiotics and gut friendly bacteria - Naturally fermented salt pickles encourage the growth of friendly bacteria, which replenishes the numbers in the digestive system and restores health.

Diabetes Control:  vinegar based pickles can improve the hemoglobin levels in diabetic patients

Improve mental health

Cancer risk reduction

Inflammation relief 

Improves digestion, protects the liver and helps heal ulcers

Some Quick and Easy Pickle Récipes

Quick Homemade Cucumber Pickles with Fresh Dill

4-6 small pickling cucumbers
2 cloves garlic sliced
1 sprig fresh dill
1/2 cup  Apple cider vinegar
1 ½  cups  water
2 tablespoons sea salt
1/4 onion sliced in half moons
1 teaspoon peppercorns (optional)
1 teaspoon mustard seeds (optional)

Slice the cucumbers into quarters lengthwise
Place the cucumbers and fresh dill into a bowl or a jar.
Place the salt, vinegar, wáter, garlic, peppercorn and mustard sedes into a pan.
Bring to a boíl on a médium flame.
Pour boiling liquid over the cucumbers, making sure they're entirely submerged. Place a slice of onion on top of the cucumbers to help them all stay beneath the liquid.
Leave on the counter overnight to marinate
Store covered in the fridge.

Cauliflower Pickles

3 cups cauliflower, cut into chunks
1 large garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon dry dill
3-4 peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1.5 tablespoons sea salt
1-2  teaspoons ume vinegar
2-3 cups filtered water

Wash a jar with very hot, soapy water.
Cut the cauliflower into florets
Finely slice the garlic clove, and add to jar with herbs and peppercorn.  
Add cauliflower, pressing down firmly into jar so the florets are tightly packed, leaving 1" space at the top of the jar.
Dissolve the salt and ume vinegar in 2 cups of water, and add to the jar.  
Add additional water as necessary to cover vegetables.  Leave a 1" space at the top of the jar.
Leave to sit for 3-5 days at room temperature, in a cool place away from the sun.  In warmer temperature, 3 days is usually enough.  
Test them and to see if they have a good pickly flavor.  If you want a stronger flavor, leave them out longer, up to 7 days depending on the temperature.  
Open the jar over the sink as it can fizz and bubble over.
Store the ready to eat pickles in the fridge.  

Pickled Cabbage and Apple Delight
This is more of a side dish but has a wonderful pickled flavor

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic sliced
1/2 onion diced
1 green apple, cored and cut into small chunks
½  medium-sized head red cabbage, shredded
pinch ground cloves (optional)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Spring water
salt and pepper to taste
Chopped roasted walnuts

Place the oil into a pan and warm on medium heat, then add the garlic. Sauté quickly and then add the onions. Sauté for a few minutes and then add the Apple. Saute for another minute.
Add the shredded cabbage, cloves, apple cider vinegar, and enough wáter to cover the bottom of the pan.
Add a lid and bring to a boíl., Simmer on a low flame until the cabbage is soft, about 20-30 minutes.
Gentle toss the cabbage from time to time to evenly distribute the ingredients.
Season with salt and pepper mix gently and serve garnished with walnuts. The flavor of this dish improves if served the following day.