The November Herbal Blog Party is on and the buzz this month is morning stimulants or ritual blends. This topic hits home for me because I LOVE coffee but I have been making a concerted effort to cut back on the amount I drink. I found the way to make this transition easier on myself was by replacing an unhealthy habit with healthful herbal concoctions. There are many herbs that are considered stimulants which can be included in the daily diet. These herbs create energy by nourishing the body, activating body systems and increasing circulation thus restoring vitality and health. Making the switch to herbal stimulants, however, is a process that requires patience Herbal stimulants don’t provide the instant gratification that one becomes used to when consuming caffeinated products.
There are many herbs that I have experimented with including; cinnamon, cloves, ginger, ginseng, peppermint, spearmint, cayenne, and horseradish. These are all very mild herbs which I feel comfortable including in my daily diet as sources of nourishment and stimulation. While there may be stronger stimulants out there such as ephedra and guarana, I feel they should be treated with the same respect as coffee and saved for occasional use.
In the morning, I need something warm and quick. Nourishing infusions are strong herbal “teas” which contain nutritive herbs that tonify and nourish the body. I also like to throw a little “wake up herb” in to the mix as well. As these infusions need to brew for quite some time, I have gotten in the habit of starting mine before I go to bed. It is nice to wake up to that steaming carafe. Often I just drink mine black but you can make a latte if you are in the habit of drinking your coffee with creamer or sweetener.
1/3 part dried peppermint or spearmint leaves
1/3 part dried red raspberry leaves, blackberry leaves, red clover blossoms, or any other nourishing herb
1/3 part oatstraw
1 quart water
Brew a nourishing infusion of the dried herbs. In the morning you just steam some milk or coconut milk and add to the infusion and sweeten with honey, if desired.
If you are wanting to add root or bark herbs to your diet, the best way to prepare them is by decocting. Chai is an excellent example of a decoction which stimulates and nourishes. A great way to make chai caffeine free is by replacing the black tea with dandelion root and burdock root. This is a single recipe but you can make it in large batches and just use a few tablespoons of the mixture at a time.
1/2 tablespoons dandelion root
1/2 tablespoon burdock root
1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
6 green cardamom pods
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 small cinnamon stick
1/4 inch slice of fresh ginger root (or a teaspoon of dried ginger)
Grind all of the ingredients except the fresh ginger. Bring 7 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan and add the ground mixture and fresh ginger to the boiling water. Turn the heat down to the lowest setting and simmer the ingredients for 30 - 40 minutes. At this point you can add milk, coconut milk, or almond milk to your liking. Sweeten with honey, if desired. I don’t really have much of a sugar habit so I don’t add any sweetner. I think that the herbs add a mild sweetness of their own which I enjoy.
The 3 p.m. Drop
If you are like me, you might experience a mid-afternoon drop in energy. Consider turning to a healthful drink or snack for energy rather than reaching for a soda or more coffee. These make good summertime drinks as well.
1 1/2 cups almond-oatmilk, or coconut milk
1/2 cup berries (we like raspberries)
dash of cinnamon
Blend all ingredients and drink
This blend is nice because you can mix a large batch up and take it with you to enjoy during break-time. I think you will agree that it is a better alternatives than a candy bar & soda. You can play around with the herbs in this recipe to suit your taste but I like a little bit of spice.
Vegetable Juice Cocktail
1 cup tomato juice
1/4 cup carrot juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 clove of garlic (I am lucky to have a juicer and I just toss this in with the carrots)
1 tsp fresh horseradish
dash of cayenne pepper
These are a yummy snack that provide a more healthful source of energy, as well. I came across the recipe, originally, in the Gladstar course but I tweaked the ingredients a bit to suit my taste. Rosemary Gladstar recommends the very sparing use of guarana in these balls for students or people who might be driving long distances.
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup tahini
1 tablespoon ginger
1 tablespoon ginseng
1 tablespoon bee pollen
Add unsweetened coconut, chopped almonds and chopped dried cherries in equal parts until the mixture is stiff enough you can roll the it into balls or pat it into bars.