Author: Mommy

Recipe Weekend: Healthy Hibiscus Tea for Mother’s Day

My son Aidan and I have started a new routine. After I’ve put his little brother to bed, Aidan stays awake with me and helps me with the recipe I’m working on — cough lozenges, Ammie’s baby food, our homemade hand cream, whatever. Last night I was awake making hibiscus iced tea for a baby shower — and Aidan asked to stay awake with me. He helped with the ingredients, he even took all the pictures you see in this blog. It made me realize a new joy of getting elemental and making homemade stews and brews — I get to share it with him. It’s become our thing.

The other thing that’s become ‘our thing’ — in fact, our entire family’s ‘thing’, is the hibiscus tea that Aidan and I came up with in our wee hour time together. After the party, both my husband and my mother raved about the fruits of our labors — and admitted that neither of them had ever liked hibiscus tea before (loathe I think was the word used);this one they polished off with apparent delight. In fact, 3 large batches later, it was still gone long before the guests left.

The beautiful thing about hibiscus tea for Summer (and on the heels of poor Aidan’s stomach flu), is that it is amazingly high in Vitamin C, and the kids I know love it. Also called ‘agua de jamaica’ in Spanish, it’s a popular and refreshing beverage throughout Mexico. While normally served up with sugar, I’ve used honey instead (with natural antimicrobial properties), and included fresh spearmint (a great herb for cooling and digestion) to make it both a festive, refreshing, and healthy drink for Mother’s Day brunch, pool parties, and the lazy hot Summer days that await…

Recipe Weekend: Tummy Trouble Tea

We like to eat whole foods, we really do. We won a small victory for whole foods, in fact, tonight when my son complained about missing a salmon, quinoa and kale dinner and had to eat “junk food” at a friend’s. “You know that’s my favorite!” he complained. It doesn’t always go this way around these parts, certainly not on tempeh salad night, or any night I even entertain the idea of cooking lentils but I’ll celebrate the victories as they come. Of course we helped him to a portion of the leftovers immediately. Occasionally, however, I’ll bring home something naughty. I try to keep it aligned with the diet restrictions we choose to follow – usually gluten and dairy-free, and natural sweeteners. Tapioca flour doughnuts, tempeh bacon, rice flour muffins, cheddar cheeZe… Some great, some not so great renditions of old comfort food favorites.

There’s a joke my husband loves to tell, how he’s going to start a gluten-free, dairy-free snack company called, “It’s Not That Awful” foods. This is clearly a reference to these so-called ‘treats’ I bring home. He believes that ‘it’s not that awful” is the highest compliment most of these treats can receive. He’s a purist, and I guess I don’t blame him. I don’t always remember what the original food is supposed to taste like. He does. So when I brought home a new brand of quinoa cookies, I was surprised how quickly my husband and son scarfed them down.

And if you’ve ever heard the phrase, ‘crime doesn’t pay’, I’m now going to apply it to gluttony as well. I hate to malign the poor quinoa cookies when it very well could be the amount of cookies ingested, or the record-breaking time in which they were inhaled, but Daddy and Aidan ended up with father-son tummy aches.

This is the tea I made them, dedicated this Recipe Weekend to gluttons everywhere. Because food should also be fun. But just in case our bodies don’t agree…

Tummy Trouble Tea

  • 1 Tblsp dried catnip
  • 1 Tblsp dried peppermint
  • 5-6 small pieces fresh raw ginger (about 1/2 in thick)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 Tblsp dried chamomile flowers
  • 1/2 tsp lavender

Pour 2-3 C boiling water over the herbs. Let steep for 5-10 minutes. Strain. Enjoy. Watch the evidence of gluttony or other discomfort fade away… Makes two generous cups. One for your child, one for you.

Other options you can substitute or include: lemon balm, spearmint, anise seed — all great digestives.

The quantities are more art than science, so feel free to get creative, and find a taste you like. Or just use whichever of these ingredients you have on hand — every one of them taken alone would still help. My husband says it worked miracles on his belly. (Aidan fell asleep before he could report back.)

PS --> This tea makes a great teething tea as well. I’d substitute spearmint for the 
peppermint in this case, and steep for 5 minutes for a gentle baby remedy.

My Favorite Homemade Natural Bug Repellent for Babies and Kids

 

There are a million great natural ways to ward off mosquitos and other bugs as the temperature rises… Okay maybe not a million, but at least as many as there are kinds of bugs to fend off ourselves and our young ones. That said, if you’re anything like me, you’d rather someone give you a favorite recipe — and save your brain cells for harder questions like, “what was I in my past life?” (my eight year old), or “why is he not asleep at 11:30pm?” (me, regarding my five month old).

So, for Recipe Weekend, I’m sharing with you my new favorite recipe for natural, homemade bug repellent. I formulated this recipe based on what will work, but still be gentle enough to be used on both my little guys — and not stain anybody’s cute white summer tees. The geranium in this recipe is especially good for ticks, the citronella — and virtually everything else included — repel mosquitos and other bugs via smell, but still smell great to most human types.

Natural Bug Repellent: safe enough for Baby too

Here it is (for an 8oz batch):

  • 4oz witch hazel
  • 4oz almond oil

These are the carriers. Mix together, then add these essential oils:

  • 15 drops geranium
  • 15 drops citronella
  • 7 drops eucalyptus
  • 7 drops lavender
  • 7 drops lemongrass

(optional: repel bugs, and make it smell extra yummy):

  • 5 drops rosemary
  • 5 drops peppermint

This recipe can be mixed and matched based on what you have available. The general formula for a good homemade bug repellent for babies and children is roughly a 1:10 ratio of essential oils to carrier liquid, or roughly 30-50 drops per 8oz of ‘carrier’. I love this formula because witch hazel is a great carrier for essential oils, is super-gentle for babies’ skin (its my favorite formula for diaper rash!) and you can buy it already infused with lavender. (It’s also great if heaven-forbid you get bitten.) The almond oil is high in vitamin E, so again, a skin-nourisher — and the rest, well, they’re the gold standard in essential oils that discourage bugs from hanging around.

These smells not your cup of tea? Experiment with formulas you like best. You can substitute out any of the above (I personally would keep the geranium, but anything else is up for grabs) and use any member of the mint family (catnip is particularly effective), cedarwood (very earthy, woodsy smell), lemon, even vanilla. You can also sub out the almond oil for purified water. I like the almond oil for its silky smoothness and absorbency, water provides a lighter spritz.

Apply liberally as you like, at least every 2-3 hours. On my baby, I tried just a little on his sensitive skin first, since everybody is different. Now we’re ready for my absolute favorite activity: staring up at the sky under our wide oak tree on our mowed-slightly-less than-we-ought-to lawn. Feel free to join us.