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Wild Violet Lemonade

Wild Violet Lemonade

Wild Violet Lemonade

This is a re-post of an article from last year that is appropriate for us now. Here in the South, winter has lifted, trees are blooming and we are waiting for a full pollen dump any second. Temperatures are warm in the day, cool at night which makes it perfect for wild violets to bloom.

Picking wild violets is a great reason to be outside; be sure to bring a small bag to carry your treasures in.

Before the violets go away, be sure to try this lovely Wild Violet Lemonade!

I was browsing blogs a coupe of weeks ago and found the amazing recipe for Wild Violet Jelly and decided I needed to go on a wild violet hunt.

The violets had to be picked well away from the road and not where dogs do their duties. I found a lovely spot with so many violets I picked an entire quart of them in no time at all.

Drying wild violets to prepare for steeping

Drying wild violets to prepare for steeping

I can’t help but to fall in love with this color!

So, to prepare for the wild violet jelly, the flowers need to be rinsed and steeped like tea. Use the same amount of water as you have violets. Measure by volume, not by weight because violets hardly weigh anything at all.

Wild Violet Lemonade

Wild Violet Lemonade

I had a bit left over tea from the jelly recipe and I wondered how it would taste as a “lemonade” so I popped some ice in a glass, filled it about 1/4 full of lemonade and added the strained violet tea, garnished with a slice of lemon and Wow! It makes a fantastic drink!

 Wild Violet Lemonade

Wild Violet Lemonade

Now, I’ve got to go harvest more violets so I can freeze the tea for later use.

Steeped Wild Violet Tea; see how deep purple it is? Add lemon juice and it changes to bright pink.

Steeped Wild Violet Tea; see how deep purple it is? Add lemon juice and it changes to bright pink.

Don’t you just LOVE the color?

It changes from deep royal purple to a bright pink when you add lemon juice.

If you want to know how to make Wild Violet Jelly, Follow this link to Prairieland Herbs.

Gleaming jars of Wild Violet Jelly

Gleaming jars of Wild Violet Jelly



Make Almond Milk – It’s So Easy!

It’s so easy to make almond milk at home, why wouldn’t you?

Almond Milk and Cookies

Almond Milk and Cookies

The most difficult thing is to remember to soak the almonds overnight. Once you start making your own milk on a regular basis, you’ll get into a rhythm. There is not one bit of this that is hard to do.

The ingredients are few, recognizable as real food and delicious.

Here’s how:

Almond Milk, lightly sweetened

  • Servings: 5 eight ounce
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients for Almond Milk

Ingredients for Almond Milk

To make 5 cups:

1 cup raw almonds, skin on

Water to cover for initial soaking; about 4-5 cups (this water gets discarded)

4 cups water – to make the milk

3 Medjool dates, remove the pits

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of salt


Place the almonds in a bowl, cover them with fresh water. Cover the bowl and allow the almonds to soak for 12-24 hours.

Drain the water and use it to water some plants.

Place the soaked almonds into a blender.IMG_9859

Add 4 cups fresh water, pitted dates, vanilla and salt into a high-powered blender. Secure the cover and turn on high. Allow it to run on high for 2-4 minutes, depending on the power of your blender. If you are using a vita-mix, use the lower time to 2 minutes, more generic style blenders, process for a longer time.

Use a wire mesh strainer over a bowl to strain the milk from the solids. Using a rubber spatula or bowl scraper,work the almond, date pulp around the wire strainer until it’s as dry as you can get it. Save this for another use, after all it’s just ground almonds, dates and vanilla.

Straining Almond Milk

Straining Almond Milk

Pour the milk into a pitcher or milk jug and refrigerate until well chilled.

This milk is very lightly sweetened and is the consistency of whole milk. If you want it thinner, add more water, thicker, use less water. Same with the dates for sweetening.

You want chocolate Almond Milk? Add organic dark coc

oa powder with the dates. Simply amazing.

Almond Milk Label

Almond Milk Label

Once you try this homemade almond milk, you’ll be so spoiled! Read the labels on a store-bought almond milk. Which would you prefer to drink and give to your family?

The ground almonds and dates left over from the process make nice cakes and cookies. I’ve used the almond debris to replace zucchini in zucchini brownies with great success.

I’ve made Chocolate Almond Cherry Ice Cream and no bake almond butter, date and oat balls.

Almond milk "debris"

Almond milk “debris”

How do you use the almond debris left over from the milk? I’m getting fat from the cakes and cookies!

#almondmilk #makeyourown #makealmondmilk #almonds #noprocessedfood #wholefoods #vegan #nondairymilk #nutmilk

#makenutmilkathome #healthyeating #wellness

Almond Milk and Almond Cranberry cookies made from the debris

Almond Milk and Almond Cranberry cookies made from the debris

Monk Fruit in the Raw VS. Sugar

Monk Fruit In The RawOK, so at the start of every new year, almost everyone says “I’m going to lose weight or get fit” or something. So I decided to see what this zero-calorie Monk Fruit In the Raw “all natural sweetener” is about.

The ingredients are: dextrose, monk fruit extract. In the larger bulk pack, the ingredients were: maltodextrin, monk fruit extract.

I wonder why the difference? I wonder what percentage of dextrose to monk fruit extract am I getting? Theoretically, they could simply add a few drops of the extract to the bin of dextrose and call it Monk Fruit in the Raw, but it is far from raw and since dextrose is the first ingredient, it is also far from being monk fruit.

So, I bought some to explore since I didn’t think the store would appreciate me trying this in the store. I opened a pack and poured it into my hand. I put some in my mouth and tasted it.

Sweet on the front, but it had an odd numbing sensation, slight, but numbing. Then the bitter after taste came on a few minutes after I had finished tasting the newly discovered miraculous ‘have your sweets and no calories too’ monk fruit sweetener. Yuck!

Then I put some in a perfectly good cup of coffee and totally ruined that too.

While the initial taste is sweet, it’s the dry bitterness of dextrose (yes another ‘natural’ sugar) that gets you in the end. Not being a diet soda drinker, I suppose my taste buds are more sensitive to those kind of flavors, but I didn’t like it at all. It actually numbed my taste receptors for a while after I finished  tasting, that I didn’t like at all!

I read the website the claim “Has the least after taste . . .” but whats with that tongue coating effect?

After washing my tongue off and getting it back to normal, I tried the same with a bit of organic sugar. Yup! Pleasure, smooth and sweet.

Sugar Bowl

Sugar Bowl

So what’s the conclusion? Use sugar, just use a lot less. I’m learning to like my tea with no sweetener but Earl Grey really likes a small bit of sugar.
Unless you enjoy the sensation of diet/low-calorie food things in your mouth, stick to using sugar. Train yourself to use less. I know that’s not an option for diabetics., but maybe use the real fruit instead of this processed junk?

The packaging is romantic and describes the ancient history of using monk fruit as a sweet ingredient. I’d bet they didn’t have granulated sugar then either, let alone dextrose or maltodextrin to mix it with. What they used back then is not what is wrapped up so neatly in bright orange packages and presented to you as monk fruit.Monk Fruit In The Raw Packets

And the zero calories? The say on the side of the box that each package contains less than 3 calories per serving which the FDA recognizes as zero calories. But whose counting?

This is my opinion and your tastes and experience may differ. I love that!

Southern Iced Tea

Southern Iced Tea

Warm and Cozy Bedtime Beverage

Warm and cozy Nutmeg Milk

Warm and cozy Nutmeg Milk

This warm and cozy bedtime beverage is quite lovely. It is only warm milk, honey and nutmeg. The nutmeg encourages a comforting sleep and the warm milk envelopes you in warming coziness that allows you to fall asleep easily.

Nutmeg is a relaxing nervine in the herbal world. Caution must be used as too much nutmeg may leave you groggy in the morning. Nutmeg has a way of “time-releasing” some of its qualities so it is best to use less than more.

The best nutmeg to use for this drink is, of course, freshly grated from a whole nutmeg nut.

Myristica fragrans Nutmeg. The picture was tak...

Myristica fragrans Nutmeg. The picture was taken in Zanzibar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)See that red bit? That’s called Mace and can be used like the nutmeg nut found underneath. It’s just a bit stronger and usually comes ground.

Lets talk a bit about nutmeg. We may know it from being sprinkled over the top of holiday eggnog and that might be about it. However, nutmeg is  a spice we should be aware of for many qualities. Add a pinch or two to tomato sauce to add a complex sweetness; I add it to my pepper mill for a great depth of flavor.

Take a sip!

Take a sip!

Personally I love the aroma and flavor of fresh nutmeg. You can use a nutmeg grater or in the absence of that, the smallest side of a box grater or a fine microplane will work to grate the fresh nut.

Nutmeg grater

Nutmeg grater

To make this cozy bedtime beverage, simply warm a cup of milk to warm, add a spoonful of honey and grate a teaspoon of fresh nutmeg over the top. For added luxury, steam the milk with a cappuccino steamer for lots of froth on top.

Sit back and sip, you’ll be yawning and heading for bed before you can finish the cup.

A nice benefit of nutmeg is that it also encourages sweet dreams and reduces stress.

Now who couldn’t use some of that right about now?

Sweet Dreams!

Sweet Dreams!

Making Spiced Chai at Home

Making spiced chai at home is so rewarding in many ways. I remember the first time I tasted  warm spiced chai tea at Starbucks one bone chilling cold wet and rainy day in Washington DC. It warmed me to the bone in a single sip.

However, being loaded with fat at sugar and who knows what else, I decided to brew my own at home. First I used the Spiced Chai bags from the tea store. Then, I got a recipe and decided to try it out.

I am a total sucker for anything that makes my house smell great, naturally. Once I placed this mixture in the crock pot, my house smelled like heaven for hours. Then the best part was getting to drink that amazing aroma in a nice warm cuppa tea.

Here’s what you need to make Chai at home:

  • Gather these things to make Chai. include black tea or burdock root or another herb if you prefer.

    Gather these things to make Chai. include black tea or burdock root or another herb if you prefer.

    2 tablespoons dried orange peel OR use the peel from 1 fresh orange

  • 2 tablespoons ginger root
  • 1 cinnamon stick, crushed into bits
  • 3-4 green cardamom pods, crushed
  • 3-5 whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns, (I use a variety of peppercorns, it doesn’t matter if you use only one kind)
  • As a base, choose 2 tablespoons black tea, green tea or burdock root.
  • Additionally you can choose to add 1/2 vanilla bean and or a teaspoon of grated nutmeg
  • 2 quarts fresh cold water

Put it all in pot, bring to a boil and then simmer for 1 hour. Strain, add honey and milk to taste if desired.

Or you can bring it to a boil, then put it into a crock pot on low and let it simmer overnight for an intoxicating aroma and delightful tea in the morning.

If you are the kind who has cold hands and feet, try this. It will warm you completely and wonderfully. It’s sure to make you smile.

If you make Chai at home, please share  in the comments how your recipe may be similar or different.

Chai is like curry, so many possibilities!

Homemade Chai Spiced Tea

Homemade Chai Spiced Tea