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Spring into Incredible, Edible Flowers

Springtime blooms are exciting, because they signify new beginnings and new life. So why not enjoy them in a new way—as beautiful garnishes and healthy additions to our favourite foods?

In a 2012 study conducted by Jeannette Haviland-Jones, Ph.D., researchers found “that flowers increase happiness and life satisfaction, and lead to increased contact with family and friends.”[1]

So what happens if we consume them in our tastiest spring-inspired meals?

Here are three different edible flowers accompanied by their medicinal uses, associated recipe ideas, and tips:

Dandelion

Medicinal Benefits

Contrary to popular belief, dandelions are not just pesky weeds! Each part of the dandelion is edible, including the pretty yellow blooms. Not only are they super high in phytochemicals, they are also teeming with vitamins A, B and C, as well as iron and potassium.[2] [3]

Studies have found dandelions to be effective when used for digestive issues, loss of appetite, flatulence and gallstones. They also make a great circulatory tonic, skin toner, and blood tonic, and can be used for treating viral and bacterial infections, in addition to certain types of cancer.[4] [5]

Recipe Idea

Best harvested in early spring, the delicate flowers are naturally slightly bittersweet, and are excellent in salads. Simply pluck the pesticide-free flowers around early April, remove the green stem, and include the flower heads in a fresh garden salad.

Tip: the root and leaves of the dandelion can be an effective mild laxative.[6]

Chamomile

Medicinal Benefits

Chamomile is a goodie. It’s pretty in your flower garden, and it grows easily in BC. The small, sweet flower has some hefty medicinal benefits in the calm department. Traditionally used to treat anxiety, insomnia[7], and stress, chamomile is also antibacterial[8] and anti-inflammatory![9]

Recipe Idea

The flowers can be plucked and dried, then slightly crushed to make tea. Alternatively, the can be eaten fresh atop of a salad or added to a snack like avocado toast.

Tip: if symptoms of hay fever appear, discontinue use.

Lavender

Medicinal Benefits

Is there anything better than the scent of lavender? This fragrant flower is a medicinal dream. Lavender is known for relieving tension, stress, and anxiety.[10] The purple flower is also antiseptic, antispasmodic, and antibacterial. It’s also an analgesic, a relaxant, and a nerve tonic.

Who knew??!

Recipe Idea

Honestly? Make tea. Dry and crush your lavender. Combine one tablespoon dried flower with 8 ounces of hot water. Let steep, covered, for 10 minutes. Strain out loose flora, and drink up!

Tip: Lavender is generally considered safe, but it’s recommended that pregnant women avoid drinking lavender tea in large quantities.[11]

For more recipes using flowers and other herbs, check out my book, The Good Living Guide to Medicinal Tea. xo

References

[1] http://safnow.org/rutgers-emotional-impact-of-flowers-study/

[2] Rodriguez-Fragoso, Lourdes, et al. “Risks and Benefits of Commonly used Herbal Medicines in México.” Pubmed. Web. 2008. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2322858/

[3] https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/dandelion

[4] Rodriguez-Fragoso, Lourdes, et al. “Risks and Benefits of Commonly used Herbal Medicines in México.” Pubmed. Web. 2008. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2322858/

[5] https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/dandelion

[6] Rodriguez-Fragoso, Lourdes, et al. “Risks and Benefits of Commonly used Herbal Medicines in México.” Pubmed. Web. 2008. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2322858/

[7] “Chamomile.” Livertox. Web. 2015. http://livertox.nih.gov/Chamomile.htm

[8] Janmejai K Srivastava, Eswar Shankar, and Sanjay Gupta. “Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future.” Pubmed. Web. 2010. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995283/

[9] Renata Dawid-Pać. “Medicinal plants used in treatment of inflammatory skin diseases.” Pubmed. 2013. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3834722/

[10] “Lavender.” The University of Maryland Medical Center. Web. 2015. http://umm.edu/health/medical-reference-guide/complementary-and-alternative-medicine-guide/herb/lavender

[11] Rosemary Gladstar. Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide. Storey, MA. 2012. P. 151.

Make Your Own Medicinal Tea

Last month, my third book was released into the world. The Good Living Guide to Medicinal Tea: 50 Ways to Brew the Cure for What Ails You is officially in a bookstore near you.

Or at the very least on Amazon HERE.

This book is different than my first two, because unlike them, I had no background or reference or experience in what I wrote about. The subject matter interested me, and because I’m kind of a holistic chick, I was genuinely curious as to how to go about making all of these amazing remedies for various ailments we suffer with every day.

There are teas for cough and cold, hair loss, and worms. There are recipes in this book for skin rashes, hives, and constipation. Pages upon pages of information regarding how to use herbs that, until recently, I’d never heard of before (like Goldenseal, Burdock, and Feverfew).

Honestly, there are approximately 40 pages of references citing peer-reviewed studies to accompany my suggestions, as well as some kind and careful observations and recommendations by a certified medicinal herbalist.

If you’ve ever been curious about making your own medicinal tea, now is the time to get on it. In our world of Big Pharma and lab-created drugs for anything and everything, getting back to basics and using safe and effective ingredients to make our own remedies is both healthy and empowering.

THC detox drinks for sale.

I hope you love this book as much as I do!

Tea Cover - Copy

Release: The Good Living Guide to Medicinal Tea

Friends! I’m excited to announce that a book I signed a contract for over a year ago will be releasing in just ONE WEEK! On January 5th, The Good Living Guide to Medicinal Tea: 50 Ways to Brew the Cure for What Ails You will hit the shelves at Chapters, Indigo, Coles, Barnes & Noble, and more! It will also be available for purchase through amazon.com, and Bed, Bath, and Beyond!

Here’s the description from the back cover:

More than just a warm and comforting drink, tea has medicinal properties that are widely underused in North America. Common herbs, spices, fruits, and barks have been scientifically proven to help relieve pain, menopause symptoms, high blood pressure, insomnia, stress, and digestive angst. When taken preventatively, certain herbs in tea can help fight off cancer cells, heart disease, and even Alzheimer’s disease and fibromyalgia. By learning about what these various natural ingredients are capable of and how they work, readers can begin to treat many ailments with what grows in their gardens—plants that have been used in eastern medicine for thousands of years.

The Good Living Guide to Medicinal Tea invites readers into a world of medicinal plants, instructs on the specific healing properties of each, matches them to ten common North American health disorders, and provides simple tea recipes readers can make in their own homes.

Late Japanese author Okakura Kakuzo has been famously quoted as saying, “Tea began as a medicine and grew into a beverage.” The Good Living Guide to Medicinal Tea encourages readers to turn their favorite drink back into medicine—and outlines exactly how to accomplish this. With the help of beautiful photographs and an easy dialogue, Jennifer Browne clearly explains to readers how teatime can garner impressive health benefits.

This book is my third, and I’m extremely proud and excited to share it with everyone. If you’re someone who loves to create and cook and be healthy and inventive and holistic and maybe has a little bit hippie inside of you, this book is for YOU.

Merry Christmas and Nappy New Year–2016 is going to be amazing. xo

10 Herbs for Prevention and Treatment of Colds and Flus

Traditional chinese herbal medicine ingredients, close-up

Researching herbs has temporarily taken over my life. Because I’m currently writing a tea guide, I’m inundated with amazing facts about an enormous amount of medicinal herbs. Yesterday I spent about two hours researching herbs that expel worms and kill lice.

(Aaaaaaand I’m still itchy. *Shudder…)

Since we’re smack in the middle of winter and surrounded by colds and flus, I decided to share what I’ve learned about herbs that help with both prevention and symptoms of viruses that are running around, rearing their ugly heads.

Here are 10 herbs that everyone should have on hand from October to March:

Ginseng tea

  1. Ginseng: to stimulate the immune system, fight upper respiratory tract infections, prevent the flu when taken consistently, and decrease susceptibility to colds.[1] Take as a tea or in capsule form.

Echinacea Flowers homeopathic remedy

  1. Echinacea: Shortens severity of colds when taken as soon as symptoms emerge.[2] Take as a tea or in capsule form.

lemon

  1. Lemon: to kill viruses and bacteria, fight infections, and boost the immune system. Lemon also contains extremely high levels of vitamin C.[3] Squeeze half of a fresh lemon in hot water and drink 2-3 times per day.

Bundle Of Fresh Thyme

  1. Thyme: to kill viruses and bacteria, relieve a cough, and lessen inflammation. Take as a tea.[4]

Medicinal Herbal Tea

  1. Marshmallow: to soothe a sore throat and suppress a cough. Take as tea or in capsule form.[5]

Mint tea

  1. Peppermint: for sore throats, chest and sinus congestion, and nausea. Try sipping peppermint tea, and mixing a few drops of the essential oil in lotion to rub on sore, achy muscles.[6]

Eucalyptus Tea

  1. Eucalyptus: for chest and sinus congestion. Place a few drops of this essential oil in a hot bath.[7]

Ginger Tea homeopathic remedy

  1. Ginger: for nausea, vomiting, treating inflammation, and relieving chills.[8] Take as a tea.

Plantain Tea

  1. Plantain: to soothe a cough, and relieve inflammation.[9] Take as a tea.

Cinnamon

  1. Cinnamon: to kill bacteria, relieve chills and aches, and relieve inflammation.[10] Take as a tea or in capsule form.

So there you have it! Stock up and be well. xo

References:

[1] Predy, Gerald N. et al. “Efficacy of an extract of North American ginseng containing poly-furanosyl-pyranosyl-saccharides for preventing upper respiratory tract infections: a randomized controlled trial.” Pubmed. Web. 2005. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1266327/?tool=pubmed

[2] Block KI, Mead MN. “Immune system effects of echinacea, ginseng, and astragalus: a review.” Pubmed. Web. 2003. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15035888

[3] “Lemon (Fruit).” HerbWisdom.com. Web. 2015. http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-lemon.html

[4] Zohra Ashpari. “The Best Natural Cough Remedies.” Healthline. Web. 2014. http://www.healthline.com/health/allergies/best-natural-cough-remedies#2

[5] Zohra Ashpari. “The Best Natural Cough Remedies.” Healthline. Web. 2014. http://www.healthline.com/health/allergies/best-natural-cough-remedies#2

[6] Zohra Ashpari. “The Best Natural Cough Remedies.” Healthline. Web. 2014. http://www.healthline.com/health/allergies/best-natural-cough-remedies#2

[7] Zohra Ashpari. “The Best Natural Cough Remedies.” Healthline. Web. 2014. http://www.healthline.com/health/allergies/best-natural-cough-remedies#2

[8] Ann M. Bode and Zigang Dong. “The Amazing and Mighty Ginger.” (Chapter 7.) Pubmed. Web. 2011. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92775/

[9] Wegener and Kraft K. “Plantain (Plantago lanceolata L.): anti-inflammatory action in upper respiratory tract infections.” Pubmed. Web. 1999. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10483683

[10] Joung-Woo Hong et al. “Anti-inflammatory activity of cinnamon water extract in vivo and in vitro LPS-induced models.” Pubmed. Web. 2012. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3533872/

Green, Oolong, and Black Tea: What’s the Difference?

Green tea

For those of you who may not know, I’m currently in the throes of writing a book on medicinal tea. I’m deep into the research phase of the project, and stumbled across the answer to the following question: what’s the difference between green, oolong, and black tea?

If you know, and are pretty sure I’m an idiot because everyone else knows, keep it to yourself. I’m choosing to believe that no one knows this but a small, select few, and that my knowledge on this topic is fairly on par with everyone else’s.

Don’t tell me if I’m alone in this matter.

Anyway, the answer to the question lies in the fermentation of the tea leaves. Turns out, all three types of tea are from the same plant. The herb is called Camellia Sinensis.

Green tea

Green tea: This bevy is made with fresh tea leaves. It’s considered the most medicinally potent of the three, and is the official drink of Japan, even though its origins hail from China.

Oolong tea: It’s made with the same leaves as the green, but they’re slightly fermented.

Black tea: Same leaves again, but are fully fermented. This is the most pungent of the three teas.

Different countries specialize in the production of each type of tea, and they are marketed and sold in a way that would lead one to believe they are different plants. (Okay, I made that up. But I think that’s what they do.)

The primary properties of tea are called polyphenols or tannins, and they determine the tea’s color, strength, body, and ultimately, the taste. Fermentation changes the medicinal properties of the leaves, which results in each of the three teas yielding different health benefits. All three are considered stimulants.

Kombucha Tea

So there you have it. If you want more, you have to pre-order the book! (Which will take a couple of months to reach Amazon, I think.) It’s called The Good Living Guide to Medicinal Tea, and it’ll be a goodie. 😉 xo

New Book Announcement: The Good Living Guide to Medicinal Tea!

Kombucha Tea

Oh my gosh, I can’t believe how December is FLYING by! Two sleeps ’til Christmas! Woo hoo!

I received an early Christmas gift a couple of days ago: a new book contract! I’m super excited to announce The Good Living Guide to Medicinal Tea: How to Brew the Cure to What Ails You will be released in January 2016! Not only is this fabulous, but I’ll be fortunate enough to work with Tanya R. Loewen from Wild Honey Art House again! Sooooo exciting!

 dried green tea leaves

It’ll be a few months before I’ll be able to unveil a cover for this new book, so instead, I decided to post a few extremely gorgeous tea images to satisfy myself (and maybe you? Any hardcore tea lovers out there?!), until I can make it happen.

My holiday is already off to a fab start, and I hope everyone who reads this has an amazing couple of weeks, too. xo

Medicinal Herbal Tea

Wellness Tea Recipe for Cold and Flu Season

Wellness Tea

It’s December, and that means we’re smack in the middle of a season known for fevers, runny noses, ear aches, and nausea. These annoying and sometimes awful ailments are easily spread because everyone huddles together inside, and there is less air circulation. Cold weather also can lower the immune system, making us more susceptible to bugs, and the increased consumption of holiday spirits definitely don’t help.

I started making a tea with only four ingredients to assist in immune function and lessen cold symptoms and duration. I’m calling it Yellow Wellness Tea, mostly because it’s fun to challenge my kids to say the name three times, fast.

(Spoiler alert: one out of three can do it.)

The ingredients to make this tea can all be found in a regular grocery store (usually), and if not, any decent health food store should definitely carry them.

Wellness Tea Spices

Here are the four items I use, and why they make an amazing preventative/symptom-reducing drink:

Turmeric

  • Tames heartburn and an upset stomach
  • Helps lessen joint pain
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Relieves pain

Ginger

  • Relieves nausea
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Contains anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-parasitic properties
  • Reduces vertigo
  • Helps with digestive upset

Lemongrass

  • Relieves pain
  • Helps with nausea
  • Calms a cough
  • Soothes muscles and joints
  • Prevents bacterial growth
  • Reduces fever
  • Loosens chest congestion

Lemon

  • Anti-bacterial and anti-viral
  • Relieves indigestion and constipation
  • Fever-reducing
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Relieves respiratory disorders and throat infections

So you can see how combining all of these incredibly helpful things together creates a concoction for wellness and health improvement, right?!

Herbal Tea

Recipe for one 16 ounce (I don’t fool around) cup of Yellow Wellness Tea:

Ingredients

¼ tsp. ground turmeric

Small thumb of ginger, peeled and minced finely

1 tbsp. dried lemongrass leaves, crushed

½ of a lemon, juice and zest

(1 tsp. honey *optional)

Method

Combine all ingredients and mix together well. Place in tea infuser, and set in large glass or mug. Fill that sucker with boiled water, and let steep for 3-5 minutes, depending how strong you like it. (I recommend starting with 3 minutes.) If you feel it’s too strong, simply add more water to dilute. Add honey if you need some sweetness. Drink hot, and go to bed early.

Wellness Herbal Tea

Happy Monday; it’s exactly half way through the month. Take care of yourself! xo

20 Original Gift Ideas for a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season

Christmas

Hey, Happy Healthy Lifers! Today’s post has been contributed by one of my fave guest bloggers, Ashley Erikson. She has some great ideas about holiday gifts, and I for one could use the help!

Enjoy. xo

The Christmas season is in full swing, and many of us still haven’t done our shopping. It’s okay; it’s not unhealthy to procrastinate. It is unhealthy to stress out—and when you don’t know what to get someone this late in the season, it can be stressful.

After looking for a couple of gifts for some friends of mine, I decided to write about some of the finds that I was impressed with. If anything, these gift ideas might give you better direction. These products range anywhere from $5 to $500, and for the record, I don’t work for any of these companies.

Gaiam Yoga for Beginner’s Kit – Price $

Yoga mat

Two short yoga workouts, plus all the accessories needed for a beginner to find their zen. If you’ve heard any of your friends or family talk about their interest in getting started with yoga, then this might be the perfect solution. Getting started with yoga is typically expensive, but this will ease the cost a bit.

Aroma Food Steamer – Price $

A steamer creates delicious meals without adding fat and excess calories. Steaming is one of the healthiest ways to cook meat, vegetables and other foods. If you want to know how interested your friend might be in this product, look at their social presence online, and see if they talk about cooking much. Every cook would love this gift.

Fitbit Zip – Price $$

This is one small electronic device that tracks steps, distance and calories burned. It syncs to the user’s computer or smartphone. This is one of the most powerful fitness tracking devices out there and your fitness junkie best friend might appreciate this for their next jog.

Philips Activa Portable Workout Monitor –  Price $

Gift Box Wrapped In Natural Paper With Blue Ribbon.

Exercise is more enjoyable when this monitor provides music with the perfect beat and feedback to keep you going. The user selects the type of workout, and the device sets the tempo. This device is something I was thinking about buying for myself. It’s impressive with its ability to turn up the beat as your run gets more intense.

Wake-Up Workout Alarm Clock – Price $

Give the gift of commitment. This dumbbell-shaped alarm clock comes in a variety of colors and won’t shut up until you perform 30 bicep curls. It’s fanatically healthy but it can be a funny and really cool gift for that loved one who is not a morning person.

Dark Chocolate Bar Library – Price $

Dark Chocolate

You can never go wrong with chocolate. Unless the person is not a human. Seven dark chocolate bars in a box, ranging from 54% to 72% cocoa. The flavors are unique, and dark chocolate is one of the healthiest snacks for those with a sweet tooth. Remember dark chocolate is stuffed with magnesium, which helps the body in many wonderful ways.

Flip Belt – Price $

Keep your loved ones safe with this stylish and comfortable belt that holds their identification, cell phone, keys and other items when they head out for a run or walk. This gift is perfect for your marathon runner friend who leaves the house unlocked for hours on end.

Unimug Tea Infuser – Price $

Green Tea

This glass mug cradles a loose-leaf tea infuser and makes it easy to brew a cup of tea at the office or home. It’s very affordable, and your herbal tea lover friends will admire it.

Tribest Personal Blender – Price $$

Smoothies and protein shakes are fast, easy, and convenient with a personal blender, and this blender is small and powerful. It’s worth a shot if you have no idea on what to get a person.

Sedona Dehydrator – Price $$$$

This isn’t the cheapest gift, but it is one of the healthiest options. Instead of letting fresh produce go bad, your loved ones can dehydrate it into healthy snack food. This is the dream gift for your raw vegan loved ones.

Sproutman’s Wheatgrass Grower – Price $$$

Holiday gift

Wheatgrass juice is the best way to cleanse and nourish the body, and the process is faster and cheaper when you grow fresh wheatgrass at home. It’s different (definitely not your average gift), but it can help someone save if they love their wheatgrass shots.

Oil Mister – Price $

This is an inexpensive gift that eliminates the need for aerosol oil spray cans. It allows users to control fat intake, while infusing food with mists of oil. This affordable gift is loved by many, and it will help you save financially this holiday season if you’re on a budget.

Galvanic Body Spa – Price $$$

This is a relaxing home spa that helps smooth skin and reduces the prominence of cellulite. Let your loved ones tone up and refresh without paying for expensive spa visits. If you’ve heard any complaints about cellulite or skin issues, this is the perfect gift. (Just be careful not to offend anyone.)

Slimware – Price $$

Christmas Gift

These uniquely-designed plates make portion control simple. There is a decorative pattern to fit every personality. A young married couple would love plates like this–they’re creative and long-lasting.

Resistance Band Door Attachment Kit – Price $$

Give the gift of fitness on the go. Simply attach bands to any door and workout. Not everyone likes to go to the gym every day; this gift is perfect for the mom who wants to add resistance training to her morning run. These long lasting bands are worth a try.

Aromatherapy Shower Tablets – Price $

Drop a tablet in the shower and cleanse, relax or revive your mind before you dry off. This is a gift that will give someone you love a fresh start long after the holidays pass. Sticking tight to the holiday budget? This is perfect for you.

Pop Chef Shape Cutter – Price $

Cookie Cutter

Encourage children to eat healthy with this fun kitchen tool that cuts fruit, sandwiches and other foods into hearts and other shapes. There are 12 shape options in one child-friendly kit.

Kamagon Ball – Price $$$

This water-filled medicine ball is difficult to control mid-swing, and that’s good news for your muscles. Deliver a challenging workout tool that even a dedicated fitness pro may not already own. If any loved ones are building their gym at home, this is the perfect idea!

Define Fruit Infusion Bottle – Price $

Staying hydrated is easier when the water has natural, healthy flavor. This bottle was featured on Shark Tank, and is now available in a variety of sizes, colors and designs. It’s very affordable and really impressive. Lemon water just got simple! If they’re adding lemons and limes to their water at a restaurant, they will admire this creative bottle.

Quilted Inspirational Cuff Bracelet – Price $

Inspire someone special to stay on the healthy track with this “Never Quit” quilted cuff bracelet. Your ETSY fanatical friends will admire this one!

Merry Xmas

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About our Guest Blogger

I’m Ashley. I’m a vegan, a blogger, a happy mom to 3 happy little dudes, and a woman of strength (I do like to work out). My passion is health, but my life is focused on helping others achieve their goals. Visit my site and learn more at AshleysHealth.com