Warding off the sugar monster

Tired of my turmeric tea talk? When @ShaynaLaGrace  (aka La La Grace) asked twitters to join her in a 30 day detox, I jumped right on in. The detox, Optimal Health for a Vibrant Life by Tiffany Cruikshank,  reflects the changes I was already making, but having it written solidified my resolve. It also works well as my Wellness Prescription. For week 1 you scale back on caffeine, sugar and alcohol and add a series of yoga sun salutations. I've been doing a yoga work out lately that consists mainly of sun salutations, so that part seemed easy enough. I rarely drink so that's another easy one, but caffeine and sugar have my by the jowls. I'm not sure that's even a saying, but let's pretend it is.

One way to scale back on the sugar is to nix the Starbucks Chai which has 47 g of sugar (in a grande soy).  The only ingredients I found online were for the Chai Concentrate, which I'm not entirely convinced is the same concentrate they use to make the drink behind the bar. The concentrate ingredients are:
 I think the in-store version must have sugar and honey higher up on the ingredient list.Anyway, to cut back on sugar, I made my own concentrate to make and take with me to work. Basically I used 12 chai tea bags simmered in 4 cups of water for 6 minutes. The spices weren't apparent enough, so I added extra ginger, black pepper, turmeric, and a dash of pumpkin pie spices (mainly to enhance the cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom). I then sweetened it with honey and a bit of agave syrup. Serve it up with coconut milk and it's pretty good, but still not spot on. When I get it just right I'll share the exact recipe.

Do you make your own chai concentrate? What's your recipe? Are you a slave to the sugar monster? How do you (or do you even) ward him off?

Sipping Inner Strength

Not long ago I read a post online somewhere about a woman who was drawn to certain herbs. Really really drawn to them to get to know all sorts of aspects of the plants and their properties. I don't really have that depth of connection with herbs or spices, but I've been a bit turmeric-curious lately.

Every winter I get into a chai latte habit, not the kind of wholesome, whole body warming chai (though I suspect that's what I'm actually craving), but the sugary, dessert-substitute coffee shop variety. It's the spice that I crave, the bite of ginger and pepper combined against the creaminess of milk (soy in my case).

Then I saw turmeric on sale at the grocery store and decided it was time to listen to the whispers. Maybe I'm stirred by the color: the brilliant orange-leaning yellow of an early spring daffodil that reminds me of my MeMa; or the broken-in familiarity of a worn out mustard-colored corduroy jacket, literally threadbare from years of daily wear. There's something about that color.

When cooking with spices I'm more of a garlic and basil gal. The earthiness of turmeric is exotic and unfamiliar but definitely in line with my cold-weather favorite: chai. And no wonder! Turmeric is kin to ginger, but with that earthy familiarity of curry.

If you follow Ayurveda, turmeric is a fiery plant perfectly suited for warming the soul during the winter. I don't know much about Ayurveda, but my friend Rachael does and in a brief discussion with her, I clearly recognized my dosha as Kapha. Turns out, turmeric is a pretty good choice for someone like me. (So are sun salutations, which is a topic for a different strength-focused post.)

Following the draw to turmeric and exploring why has helped me find my Spark: strength. While I usually look towards "rewarding experiences" as inspiration for the new year, rewards are not necessarily the reason to choose a path. The word I need most right now is strength. I could stand to use listen, too, since it's taken me a week to finally accept "strength" as a word to focus on. 

Glad I listened to the whispers. As an anti-inflammatory superfood, guess what turmeric is purported to do? Promote inner strength!

I'm getting to know ways to incorporate turmeric, so a few days ago I made a delicious tea based on this suggestion on 101 Cookbooks :
1/2 T turmeric, a couple shakes of pumpkin spices (though cinnamon or ginger would be just as delicious) 1 T good quality raw honey, mixed into warm (not boiling since you want the honey to keep all its good stuff) coconut milk. Stir every few sips so all the yummy nutrients don't settle to the bottom.

Turns out, I didn't make anything shockingly new or different...search "turmeric milk" and there are recipes all over the place for drinks like this.

Have you been listening to your body lately? What has it been saying?