Our Morning Tonic

Changing a daily routine is difficult. We’re still in the process of changing ours (up earlier, taking time to meditate, read and breathe), but as more and more time goes by the things that we try here and there have become more habitual. Our morning tonic was one of the first changes to our daily routine, and the benefits have surprised us. It is warming, hydrating and refreshing. It is the perfect fast-breaker and prelude to breakfast and coffee.

Last year, we started our day with simple warm lemon water.  After only a few days, the morning desire to have something fresh and easy on the tummy grew to something that felt more like a need. It was the sort of change we needed.

This year, we upped our game with the addition of freshly grated turmeric and ginger, along with  crushed cardamom seeds and a pinch of cayenne pepper. All of these ingredients alone are powerful antioxidants, but together they create a super punch of nutrition and flavor.

This warmly inviting tonic gently wakes us without the jitteriness that comes from coffee on an empty stomach. As the tonic steeps, we spend the time in quiet reading, meditating, and journaling before starting our day. The tea itself is refreshing, comforting, and spicy first thing in the morning. It’s also great anytime you feel under the weather or hungover. The concoction gently wakes the body and senses. We feel more awake after a mug of tonic then we would had we gone straight to a cup of coffee right out of bed. Of course, coffee comes next in our daily routine, (the preparation for a cup of coffee is worthy of its own post).

If you can’t find fresh turmeric root in your local market, there is no shame in using the dried variety. But be sure to use fresh squeezed lemon juice and fresh grated ginger root. Both are easily sourced from your local supermarket. The processed stuff will never taste as good, or offer as soothing a start to your day, as the fresh stuff!

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Our morning tonic

  • 1/2 lemon juice
  • 1-3 teaspoons freshly grated turmeric
  • 1-3 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • Small pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 cardamom pod, gently crushed
  • 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup (optional)

Add all the ingredients to the mug and with hot water. Let it steep for 5-10 minutes before enjoying.

Carrots: Carrot, Apple, & Ginger Juice; Carrot Almond Salad; and Pickled Carrots & Radishes

The carrot: full of vitamins, delightfully crunchy and, when picked at its best, oh so sweet. It can also be incredibly boring. Those pre-peeled and perfectly shaped “baby” carrots we find in the grocery store, for example, make for a miserable snack. Volumes could be written about this ubiquitous veggie, but we’ll cut to the chase here with our take on a root that seems to have limitless culinary applications.

Carrots are loaded with beta-carotene, a precursor to Vitamin A, and several other vitamins and minerals as well as dietary fiber. However, our bodies have a tough time getting at those vitamins when we eat a raw carrot in its unprocessed form. The vitamins and minerals are locked up in tough, fibrous mass. We can get at more of those vitamins by breaking the carrots down through shredding, grinding or juicing. And cooking carrot makes the beta-carotene more readily available to our bodies.

We now find carrots of many colors on the stands of our local farmers markets – orange, red, white and purple. While generally a cool weather veggie, their year-round availability makes it easy to cook them at peak freshness throughout the year. And the greens? They’re edible! Sure, they’re a little bitter, but they offer a nice foil to the root’s sweetness when added to a dish or salad in small amounts. The greens make a great substitute for parsley in a pinch.

An essential member of the mirepoix trinity (with onion and celery), carrot is used as a sweet/savory flavoring agent in countless recipes for soups, sauces, stocks, sweets, pastries, and more. They’re delicious on their own, glazed in stock, butter and sugar. As a substitute for mashed potatoes, they can’t be beat. They make a comforting blended soup when accented with curry spices. And what self-respecting pot roast would be caught without an accompanying roasted carrot smothered in all those pan juices? And when the meal is complete, there’s always carrot cake for dessert.

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Carrot, Apple, and Ginger Juice

Makes 2-3 servings

2-3 medium to large organic carrots, scrubbed well and tops removed
2-4 medium to large organic apples
1/2  – 1 inch fresh ginger peeled (Hawaiian ginger, preferably)

To clean the carrots and apples: In a large bowl filled with fresh cool water add the carrots and apples with a couple tablespoons of white distilled vinegar. Allow to sit for a few minutes and then scrub the carrots and apples.

Cut the apples and carrots to fit the feed shoot of your high powered juicer. Juice all of the carrots first and set the carrot pulp aside. Add the ginger, and then add the apples. Drink Immediately.

Carrot Almond Salad

2-3 medium to large organic carrots, scrubbed well and tops removed
Alternately, use the carrot pulp from the carrot, apple and ginger juice from the recipe above
2-4 tablespoons rice vinegar
2-4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons almond oil
1/4  cup raw almonds, chopped
salt and pepper

Grate the carrots using a food processor or a box grater, or use the carrot pulp from the juice recipe. Add the carrots to a large mixing bowl. If using the grated carrots, add 2 tablespoons of the rice vinegar, olive and almond oils to the carrots (use 4 tablespoons of the rice vinegar and olive oil if using the carrot pulp). Add the chopped raw almonds, and salt and pepper to taste. Add more rice vinegar and olive oil if needed.

Pickled Carrots and Radishes

Adapted from Kelly Geary’s Tart and Sweet

Original recipe can be found at Whole Living

1 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar
2 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/4 teaspoons coconut sugar or brown sugar
3 cloves garlic
1 hot pepper, such as habanero
1 small cinnamon stick
1 fresh bay leaf
1 tablespoon fenugreek seed
1 tablespoon brown mustard seed
1 tablespoon fennel seed
1 tablespoon caraway seed
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1/2 pound thin organic carrots, tops removed and scrubbed well
1/2 pound whole radishes, scrubbed well

Directions:

Bring the vinegar, 3/4 cup water, salt, and coconut sugar or brown sugar to a boil in a medium stainless steel saucepan. Stir, dissolving the salt and sugar.

Heat a 1-quart jar: Fill it with hot water and let it sit a couple minutes before pouring out. (The heat will prevent shattering when you pour in the boiling brine.) Add garlic, hot pepper, and spices.

Pack the jars tightly with carrots and radishes. Pour in hot brine. Cover and let cool overnight before eating. Store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.