Recipe – Switchel, A Refreshing Summertime Drink

Switchel is an old-fashioned drink, the origins of which are hard to pinpoint. Dairy farmers in Vermont in the US, the Caribbean or Amish communities? Either which way it doesn’t matter to me. One batch and I’m hooked!

The health benefits of each ingredient are listed below the recipe, however at first glance the mix is full of electrolytes, great for digestion, refreshing, anti-inflammatory and delicious!

I liked the sound of it so much that I made a double batch straight away.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup Apple Cider Vinegar (make sure it has ‘the mother’)
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger (2 tsp ground ginger)
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ lemon (cut into quarters)

Method

  1. In a clean jar (approximately 1 litre) mix together the vinegar, maple syrup, ginger and salt.
  2. Squeeze the lemon quarters into the jar and then drop lemons into the mix.
  3. Fill to 1 litre with water and refrigerate for at least four hours (or overnight).
  4. Remove and discard the lemon.
  5. You can either shake the grated ginger and drink, or allow it to settle to the bottom.
  6. Drink on its own, with mixed with soda water for a refreshing beverage, or topped up with hot water for a warm cup of tea.

* Make sure you rinse your mouth out with water after finishing. The acidity of the vinegar may affect tooth enamel.

🍏 Apple cider vinegar has a myriad of benefits. Most of these benefits are from anecdotal reports, but still there are too many of them to ignore. Some of these benefits include: relief from heartburn and reflux, improved digestion and reduced bloating, constipation relief, reduced muscle stiffness, balanced blood sugar levels and more.

🔥 Ginger is also well-known for its healing properties. Most of all, it is anti-inflammatory and very settling for the stomach, used often in nausea relief, morning sickness, seasickness and the like.

🍯 Maple syrup and honey may be high in sugar, in their pure form (unheated, untreated) they contain many beneficial vitamins and minerals. Honey is also antibacterial.

🍋 Lemons are high in vitamin C, an antioxidant important for good health and wellbeing, and also potassium. They are alkaline when inside the body. Alkaline foods are important to reduce acidity which is responsible for many of our diseases such as cancer and arthritis. Liminoids (beneficial chemicals) in citrus also have anti-cancer properties.

🌊 Salt has had a bad rap in recent times. Truth is we need a bit of salt. Good quality, well-sourced, unrefined salt contains trace minerals and electrolytes which are essential for all functions of the human body, including but not limited to the immune system, hormones for your thyroid, adrenal gland and reproduction and also brain function.

Make it today!

I highly suggest you make a batch. It may become your favourite summertime drink! Apple cider vinegar is always available in the Santosha clinic. We also stock locally sourced honey, sometimes good quality salt (but can order in if it’s not on the shelf), organic ginger is available at our local Foodland and lemons, well lemons grow on trees!

Let me know what you think.

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5 Ingredients In My Pantry

Sea salt, dulse and Nutritional Yeast

Sea salt, dulse and nutritional yeast

There’s a healthy eating secret that will help you lose weight, gain more energy, reduce digestive upsets and help you live longer. Seems too good to be true doesn’t it? It’s not.

Do you want to know the secret?

Eat real food. There’s an actual diet for that. It’s called the JERF diet. Just. Eat. Real. Food.

Here’s where people get confused though. You can only eat fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, meat and anything else that’s not packaged, processed or comes in a box. Confusing? “But if you don’t eat bread and cereal for breakfast, what do you have?” “But what do you have on your vegetables?” “Where does the flavour come from?” are some of the questions.

The problem with packaged and processed food is that it’s been enhanced, usually chemically. It sounds like a conspiracy theory, but big food companies do employ food scientists to make sure you eat lots of their food and you keep coming back for more. Often these foods will trigger parts of your brain that leave you wanting more, more, more! Because it “tastes” so good!

Switching to a real food diet, low in added sugar, salt, additives and preservatives can be hard. A big reason for this is because we’ve lost the art of flavouring our own food. Herbs and spices open up a whole new world when you begin to cook from scratch.

Now I could be here all day and just about fill an encyclopaedia (remember those big books before Google?) about all the herbs and spices and what to do with them. But for now I will share just 5 things that are in my pantry that I use to flavour my food.

These things do come in bottles and packets. However, I do try to source the most natural, most unprocessed forms.

 

Apple Cider Vinegar

If you read Bragg’s book about apple cider vinegar, it cures everything. I’m not making that claim but it’s pretty versatile. You can also read about ACV here.

What is it?

ACV is fermented apple juice. The sugar in the apples in converted to alcohol through fermentation. It is then converted to vinegar through a second fermentation process.

It is important to purchase a vinegar with the ‘mother’. A murky, cobwebby substance, usually floating on the bottom. This means the ACV hasn’t been pasturized, which destroys all the good enzymes present from the fermentation process. The ‘mother’ maintains the function and effectiveness of the vinegar.

What I use it for:

  • Dressings on salads rather than straight vinegar and definitely in place of packaged salad dressing.
  • Drinking as a tea when I’m sick. Mixed with some ginger, lemon and juice and honey, this is my go to drink for when I’ve got a cold
  • Adding to stocks and broth. When making your own broth (from marrow bones or chicken) you need to something acidic to draw the minerals out of the bone. About a tablespoon (or a big splash) is all that’s needed.

What you can use it for:

Everything mentioned above. You can also add it to you bath for detoxing,

 

A good quality sea salt

I’ve used them all: Himalayan, Celtic, Peruvian, Murray River, and more. Lately I have been tending towards the Murrary River Pink salt. This is based on a few different factors but mostly ‘food miles’ which should be a big factor in any food you consume. ‘Food miles’ relate to the distance your food has travelled from its source to your plate. The costs involved in transporting food across the planet might work out well for large companies, but for the Earth it’s costly.

But back to the salt…

What is it?

Well we all know what salt is, but why are these different? Salt in its natural form contains many minerals essential for our health. Processed ‘table salt’ has had these natural minerals stripped. It’s often bleached and then has chemicals such as anti-caking agents added to make sure it stays nice in the packaging.

Traditionally salt is obviously used to flavour things and it’s also a great preservative. We have been warned against salt because of conditions such as high blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease. Like sugar, highly processed diets are high in salt because so much is added to make the food taste ok. When preparing your own food, you are in control of how much you add, which means you won’t be consuming as much.

What I use it for:

  • I sprinkle a little to flavor my veggies
  • Any recipe that calls for salt
  • When exercising I will add a tiny amount to my water for extra electrolytes

What you can use it for:

The same thing as always: flavouring your food. Just remember to find a good quality unprocessed salt, use minimal amounts and experiment with other ways to flavour your food, such as herbs and spices and the next couple of products described below.

 

Dulse

This is something that’s been in my cupboard for years, but I’m really only just getting into it. It has been recommended to me for two reasons. Firstly because I am an O blood type and dulse is beneficial for Os. It’s neutral for all other types, so don’t worry if you don’t know what your type is. Also in Ayurvedic medicine is beneficial for those with a Vata dosha. There are many online ‘find your dosha’ quizzes. The best way is to visit an Ayurvedic practitioner. But if that’s not your thing here is the first website I ever used to find mine: https://store.chopra.com/dosha-quiz

Back to dulse…

What is it?

It’s a red seaweed. Like many of these flavourings I am suggesting, it’s packed full of minerals. Lots of B vitamins, Vitamin A, C and E and lots of minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium. Like other sea vegetables it contains iodine which is essential for thyroid and hormone health and lacking in many of our diets. Sea vegetables also contain more bioavailable minerals, meaning they are easier for our bodies to absorb. And dulse is highly alkaline, another important factor in our overall health. Who wouldn’t eat dulse with all those benefits!?

What I use it for:

As I said, I’m really only just getting into it now. I add it to all my soups, stews and casseroles.

What you can use it for:

All things savoury: soups, stews and casseroles, stir fries, miso soup and you can also use it like a ‘salt’ for flavouring dishes like pasta.

 

Nutritional Yeast

Another Bragg’s product, Nutritional Yeast has been condemned for being a ‘yeast’, thought by some to worsen symptoms such as yeast overgrowth (also known as candida) in our body. Good news is though; this is a totally different form.

What is it?

Nutritional Yeast is different from Brewer’s Yeast (a by-product from the brewing industry, but still high in B vitamins) and Torula Yeast (grown on wood pulp). Nutritional Yeast is grown on beet and cane molasses. The yeast is an organism that feeds on sugar. Through this process it manufactures its own amino acids (building blocks for protein) and vitamins, which is what makes it so healthy for us to consume. It is harvested, washed, cleaned, dried and packaged up.

Nutritional Yeast has a full spectrum of B vitamins which are essential in times of stress, for energy, brain function, digestion and many other roles in the body. It is also very high in protein, chromium which is essential for controlling blood sugars and rich source of phosphorus.

What I use it for:

Much the same as the dulse. I use it in all my soups, stews and casseroles as an addition to or instead of salt.

What you can use it for:

It’s a great replacement for salt, if that’s what you’re looking for. It can be used to flavour gravies and sauces, on salads, to ‘salt’ your popcorn or sprinkled on veggies. I’ve even seen it listed in recipes for smoothies!

 

Hemp Oil

*This information is only for those living outside Australia. Hemp products are not for human consumption in Australia. However, if you live anywhere but Australia it is perfectly fine. As shown on the Hemp Foods Australia Website:

Hemp Oil is another recent addition to my repertoire. It contains a ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 of 3:1 which is a healthier ratio than many processed foods which can 20:1. Omega 3 has been touted as the best oil, but that is because our diets have been so rich in Omega 6, we needed more 3 to balance it out. The truth is Omega 6 is also important. We need these ‘good fats’ for many functions in the body including for our immune system, cardiovascular system, the health of our cells, counteracting the signs of aging and for their anti-inflammatory properties.

Hemp Seed Oil is manufactured from cold-pressing hemp seeds. It is then bottled and sent around the world for consumption, except in Australia and New Zealand where it is only for cosmetic purposes.

What I use it for:

Cosmetic purposes of course, but say I lived in another country…

I would add it to my salads and vegetables for increased fat. We need fat in our diets for the reasons listed above, but also because that’s what sends messages to our brain that tells us we’re full. Fat is also used as slower burning ‘fuel’ for our bodies.

What you can use it for:

If you live outside Australia…

In much the same way olive oil is used. It can be added to pastas, salad dressings, smoothies, shakes and vegetables. It is not recommended for heating (just like olive oil) as the heating process destroys the properties of the oil. You can however, add it after foods have been cooked.

In Australia, Hemp Seed Oil is also good for massage oils, lip balms, soaps, moisturizer and hair conditioner.

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Why is Apple Cider Vinegar Better than White Vinegar?

Many mornings, particular in winter I begin my day with a cup of tea. Not black tea or herbal tea, but apple cider vinegar tea, sweetened with raw honey. ACV is one of the oldest antibacterial agents known to man. The father of medicine, Hippocrates, has been credited with its first use back in 400BC when he used it with his patients for a range of ailments.

ACV is different from the beautifully ‘clean’ and translucent range of vinegars that you will see on supermarket shelves. These clear vinegars have been heated, treated and processed which robs them of the natural health benefits. Raw, unfiltered organic apple cider vinegar is unprocessed, which allows the retention of the health benefits such as enzyme function and antibacterial properties. A good ACV can easily be recognised by its opacity, which is created by the “mother”, a cobwebby like substance that preserves the strength and effectiveness of the vinegar.

So what can you use apple cider vinegar for?

Everything apparently. According to Paul and Patricia Bragg’s book Apple Cider Vinegar – Miracle Health System, it can be used for just about anything. In their book, they list a broad range of health benefits from this amazing liquid.

Putting the information in their book together with my prior knowledge, it seems that many of these conditions are alleviated by correcting the pH of the body, which is a huge factor in many health conditions. ACV works by correcting the pH in the stomach and on the skin if used topically, which balances the whole body. (An acidic body over time “corrodes” body tissues and may lead to disease in all systems.)

Natural treatment for indigestion and heartburn

This is the most common reason I suggest ACV. In the Bragg ACV book they explain that swishing ACV in the mouth before meals will stimulate digestive enzymes. Also, many cases of indigestion, heartburn, reflux, gas and bloating are caused by low rather than too high stomach acid. The ACV helps to relieve painful indigestion by helping with the digestive process.

Pharmaceutical reflux medications can have unwanted side-effects such as weight gain, constipation and/or malabsorption syndromes, due to the stomach acid being completely neutralised. Beginning a routine of ACV tea before meals and slowly reducing reflux medication can have immense health benefits. Eliminating potential and suspected food intolerances can make significant improvements in reflux, heartburn and indigestion too.

It may help in weight loss and lowering cholesterol

ACV contains acetic acid, which was found in a Japanese study to aid in decreases in weight, BMI, visceral fat (fat around the abdominal organs), serum triglycerides and waist circumference.

It can make your skin look healthier and more youthful

The pH level of your skin aids in the detoxification process. ACV vinegar helps to normalise this pH level, assisting in detox (see facial treatment below)

Lowering blood sugar levels in Type II Diabetes

In a study published in Diabetes Care people were divided into 3 groups: diabetes, pre-diabetes and normal blood sugar levels. The vinegar was found to increase insulin sensitivity:

  • All three groups had improve blood glucose readings
  • Participants with diabetes improved their blood glucose levels by 25%
  • Participants with pre-diabetic symptoms cut their blood sugar readings by half

Burning and itching of sores, hives, allergic reactions, insect bites

Using apple cider vinegar on any sort of allergy or bite will also relieve the itching, burning and pain usually associated.

Natural relief for fungal and yeast infections, bladder and kidney infection

Athletes foot, jock itch, nappy rash, thrush and the burning and itching caused by urinary tract infections can all be relieved by a dilution of ACV and water. Adding a cup of ACV to a low, warm bath can also help.

Alternative hair rinse

The pH level of ACV is apparently close to that of your hair. It is a popular rinse with many of those who prefer the more natural hair care treatments.

ACV is rich in potassium which is essential for every cell in your body to function. Potassium deficiency can be attributed to:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Dizziness
  • Senility
  • Morning headaches
  • Tired eyes that won’t focus
  • Poor circulation
  • High blood pressure

Other possible health issues remedied by ACV:

  • Mucus
  • Cancer
  • Prostate enlargement
  • Nose bleeds
  • Burns
  • Stiffness
  • Muscle cramps,
  • Detoxification
  • Headaches
  • Gallstones (Bragg’s have a 2 day gall bladder flush to help reduce stones)

Apple Cider Vinegar Tea

  1. Pour 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in a cup and add ½-1 teaspoon of honey
  2. Half fill with room temperature or warm water*
  3. Top up with boiling water and sip slowly

*It is important not to put boiling water on honey. The heat can destroy the enzymes responsible for its healing properties. Honey should also never be ‘melted’ in the microwave or boiled. If your honey has crystallised, place the jar in a saucepan of water and heat very slowly.

Apple Cider Vinegar Facial

1. Rinse face with warm water

2. Apply a wrung-out, hot water soaked cloth to the face for 3 minute 3. Soak a thin cloth in an ACV mix (1 tbsp ACV to 1 cup water) and apply this to the face. Cover with another wrung out hot soaked cloth 4. Lay down for 10 minutes with feet elevated (couch, up the wall, bed etc.) this will increase circulation and promote lymphatic drainage 5. After 10 minutes, remove cloths and use a course towel or small face loofah and rub upwards on face. This will remove all the dead skin cells that have been soaking.

According to Paul and Patricia Bragg: “Your skin will look more youthful and will shine like a polished apple with a joyous new life.”

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