In these challenging times, how can we uplift and support each other to maintain our mental/emotional/spiritual well-being? As we know, ongoing stress, worry and pressure can have insidious effects on our health and can undermine our immune resilience. One way to enhance our mental and emotional health is to cultivate joy in our lives. We can do this both by prioritising doing those things that bring us joy and also by bringing an attitude of joy to all the things we do. I wonder that focusing on joy may be easier than cultivating an attitude of gratitude since joy has no connotation of obligation to appreciate what we have been given but is instead simply an invitation to experience the pleasure of the moment.
Feeling the joy of fresh springtime wind on our face, the pleasure of the connection with our plant friends, the joy of sharing a meal and laughter with friends, a big warm hug! Many of these things have been shown to release oxytocin, known as the love hormone. No wonder lock downs have been so challenging for mental well-being since they have by necessity restricted many of these oxytocin producing activities.
This pleasure-filled project involved bringing together three of my loves - roasted Dandelion and Burdock roots (two of my favourite springtime cleansing herbs), warm herbal lattes and funky kitchen gadgets! My enjoyment of the resulting roasted root latte was enhanced by the satisfaction of problem solving and the manual work of hand grinding these roasted beauties since my usual blender was busy with my Sunday pancake mixture. Usually I would decoct the roasted roots by simmering them in water for 10 minutes or so, however the roasting and grinding helps to break down the plant matter, allowing the constituents and flavour to extract well with the quicker extraction time through the espresso machine. And of course, there is the charm and pleasure of the kitchen gadgets that I mentioned earlier - the rituals around coffee and tea making are a big part of their enjoyment. The creaminess of the frothed milk really sets off the roasted bitter flavours too, perfect for those that require nourishment as well as cleansing. The result is a delicious, therapeutic drink that bought a lot of joy to my morning.
How to prepare a roasted root latte:
About Dandelion and Burdock root
Dandelion and Burdock roots are both great detoxifying herbs. They also have a bitter/sweet taste that makes for delicious coffee when roasted. Dandelion has a special affinity for supporting liver detoxification, improving the clearance of wastes throughout the body. This in turn aids our immune system functioning, and Dandelion has been shown to have anti viral and anti bacterial actions and well as reducing inflammation - a great combination for many acute infections. By supporting liver function and being a bitter tonic, Dandelion root is a great aid for digestion and can help fat digestion particularly as well as constipation. The general cleansing effects can aid skin conditions such as acne and eczema, joint problems as well as emotions such as irritability and moodiness (a classic symptom of a congested liver.
Burdock root is another great cleansing herb, and adds a more sweet flavour to your roasted lattes. Burdock has a specific affinity for skin conditions such as acne, eczema, boils and cysts. It is known as a blood cleanser, and as well as aiding the skin this action is useful for toxicity affecting the joints, manifesting in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout. It has a cleansing effect on the lymphatic system, which processes cellular wastes and is also part of our immune system. This makes it very useful for all issues of congestion in this system, such as cysts, swellings and lowered immunity. It has been researched for it's effect on tumors and cancer. Burdock cleanses via the kidney pathway and can also be helpful for urinary tract infections. A caution for Burdock root is that it often works best when combined with other herbs that aid the elimination of wastes from the body - such as Dandelion root - to prevent any side effects from it's powerful detoxifying actions.
I'm not sure what took me so long to make this ruby red beetroot latte! I'm a big fan of beetroot in many forms, it's deep, rich hue makes me feel good just looking at it. Beetroot is the main star of my liver-loving beetroot, mint and carrot salad, and even sneaks in to moisten and increase the rich goodness of my chocolate cupcakes! :-) Having it in this warm spiced drink is particularly luscious.
As well as all this sensual appeal, beetroot has some pretty therapeutic properties to offer us as well. It is a rich source of betaine, helping us produce good quality stomach acid. Having this strong digestive fire is super important for effectively breaking down our food and liberating important minerals such as iron and calcium. good levels of stomach acid are also important as our first line of defense, burning up any pathogens that hit the digestive system. Our production of stomach acid often decreases as we age so adding in some beetroot to the diet is a great way to support this important part of our well-being. Betaine also supports liver, kidney and heart health - and even help the healthy expression of our DNA! Beetroot is hugely beneficial for our hard working liver, helping it with bile production, reducing gall stone formation, helping detoxification and metabolism of all our food types - fats, carbs and proteins.
The bright, rich colour of beetroot lets us know that this is an especially potent antioxidant rich plant that protects our body from disease - of ongoing interest to us all in these times. Beetroot also contains a special plant constituent that helps our cells produce more nitric oxide, a compound that helps our energy, stamina, physical and cognitive performance. Nitric oxide produced by beetroot has a significant effect on heart health - beautifully reflected in it’s juicy, rich, blood-like colour and often heart-like shape. It signals the arteries to relax, dilating the blood vessels and lowering blood pressure. This has been found to be protective against many cardiovascular problems, including heart attacks and strokes.
Beetroot is also rich in glycine, a naturally sweet amino acid important for bile production and liver detoxification. Glycine also has calming effects on our nervous system. No wonder I feel so good drinking this brew! :-)
It's a beautiful thing to make delicious food as medicine from plants grown in your own garden. This traditional healing drink was made from our first crop of fresh Turmeric root grown in our greenhouse. Turmeric is a powerful food for supporting healthy immune response, enhancing digestion and liver function and reducing inflammation. This recipe makes a delicious, milky drink which is one of the traditional Ayurvedic ways of preparing this herb. Turmeric root can also be used in making sweet foods such as bliss balls or savoury dishes such as stews and curries. You can buy fresh Turmeric at whole food stores, vegetable stores and Indian grocery stores.
Ayurvedic Golden Milk
Place all ingredients apart from honey in a pot and simmer gently (do not boil) for 5 - 10mins. Place in a heat proof blender or use a blending stick to whizz mixture till creamy. Serve as it is, top with extra sprinkle of cinnamon and add honey if desired. Take care of surfaces as Turmeric can easily stain objects!
Nb: It is important to heat Turmeric gently when preparing as some of the active constituents are lost on high heating. This also prevents the milk splitting, especially if using milk alternatives.
Black pepper is needed for absorption of curcumin, the active ingredient in Turmeric. Fat is also required for absorption of curcumin, so if milk used is not high in fats, include some coconut oil or nut butter into preparation.
Have you ever found yourself frustrated at not being able to be as vibrant and healthy as you want to be, despite all your best efforts? Sometimes it can be helpful to dig deeper to identify any blocks that may be getting in the way of your natural state of well being. This video shares the powerful effects these obstacles can have on our body functioning, and how we can transform our wellness at this level. Case study shared with permission.
The wonderful, tasty and medicinal Nasturtium! Discover how to incorporate this wild edible into your life to support your immunity and well being.
ThetaHealer, Naturopath, Ayurvedic Practitioner, Wholefood Cook and Mother.