Oh the sights and smells of the winter holiday season. As the days get colder, shorter and darker our physical and energetic body feels the need to rest. The process of journeying inward can lead to stagnation. That is why winter traditions incorporate the aesthetics and medicinal properties of certain plants. Spices known to stimulate a sluggish digestion, move stuck energy, “heat” the body and increase circulation. As scents, decor, medicine, drinks or sweets-these ideas will fill this time of year with festivity, warmth, coziness, comfort and good health as your gather to celebrate with loved ones.. Many of these recipes are fun to try with kids.
Pomander Ball-draw a design onto an orange with a ballpoint pen. Using. a toothpick poke regular holes along the line of your design. Insert whole cloves. (optional) cut a length of ribbon and make a loop, tie a knot. Use a brad or thumbtack to attach it to your orange
Traditional Chai Tea
A one inch piece of fresh ginger coarsely chopped
1 cinnamon stick broken and crushed
1/2 tsp of black peppercorns
1/2 tsp of whole fennel seeds crushed
2 TBSP of loose black tea leaves
3 cardamon pods crushed
3 star anise pods crushed
2 cups of milk or substitute
Packed of brown sugar or substitute to taste.
Place 2 cups of water to a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and add your spices and ginger. Simmer tea for 1/2 an hour. Strain and reserve liquid. Add liquid “milk” and sweetener back into your original pan. Heat for 3 minutes. Serve immediately.
1 cup applesauce
2 TBSP cinnamon power
2 TBSP ground clove powder
2 TBSP ground cardamon powder
2 TBSP ground allspice powder
2 TBSP nutmeg powder
3-4 Tablespoons of white school glue
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
Place all of the ingredients into a large wide bowl.
Use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to mix ingredients with a rubber until the “dough” comes together.
Divide the “dough” into 4 parts. Roll a part in between two sheets of wax paper until it is ¼ inch thick. Don’t roll any thinner or they may crack in the oven.
Cloth trivet stuffed with play sand and ground spices. Releases a lovely smell/aromatherapy when a hot beverage is placed on top.
Stove top potpourri
3 cups of fresh orange peel coarsely chopped. Oranges with a thick peel work best.
1/4 cup of whole cloves
1/4 cup of fresh, fragrant conifer needles
3-4 cinnamon sticked broken and crushed
5-6 larger star anise seed pods crushed
1/8 tsp of powdered allspice
12 fresh juniper berries
3 fresh bay leaves crushed
7 green cardamon pods
fresh cranberries or ross hips for added color (optional)
Place all ingredients in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer on a very low temperature for 30-60 minutes. Check the water level frequently to prevent scorching/burning. Adding more if necessary.
Incense-finely powdered spices combined with flower petals and leaves. I like to toss a teaspoon on top of incense burner or outdoor fire pit.
Kidney Rub Oil-infuse olive oil with warming spices like bay. Apply at bedtime over both kidneys. You can add a hot water bottle or heating pad as well. There will be a big improvement in symptoms related to “kidney deficiency”.
Immunitea/aide-a hot or cold beverage of turmeric powder, lemon juice, fresh ginger ,feverfew and honey. Perfect for boosting the immune system, supporting blood circulation, and reducing inflammation. Can be used to lesson symptoms related to water retention, joint pain/stiffness, poor circulation, cold hands/feet, and respiratory illnesses.
Mulled Apple Cider
3 large cinnamon sticks broken/crushed
4 cardamon pods crushed
6 star anise pods crushed
4 whole nutmeg crushed if possible
pinch of allspice powder or 1 TBSP of allspice berries
2 TBSP of crystalized ginger chopped
2 TBSP of dried currants
2 TBSP of fresh lemon zest
1/4 cup of fresh orange peel chopped
3 TBSP of whole cloves
2 TBSP of whole peppercorns
6 cups of apple cider or juice
maple syrup if desired for sweetness (depends on the sugar content in the apples used for pressing).
Place all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer on a very low temperature for 30-60 minutes. Check the liquid level frequently to prevent scorching/burning. Adding more if necessary. Mulled drinks are wonderful when prepared outside over a big fire or stored in a thermos when engaging in cold , winter activities outdoors.
Other ideas to explore-spiced roasted nuts, a homemade pumpkin spice candle, essential oil infused pinecones, cookies/baked goods made with spices, and garlands/decorations made with cinnamon sticks etc.