It’s that time of the year again – the time when we’re slowly succumbing to the wrath of the winter. And that usually means one thing: a big bout of sniffles and a general “ugh” feeling.
Sure, you could head to the pharmacy and stock up on medicine, but what if you could heal yourself naturally with health tonics, elixirs and potions that might even prevent you from getting sick?
We’re talking powerful beverages that will warm you from inside out and give you all kinds of cozy winter feels, like red-hot chili cocoa, soothing golden milk, spiced apple and orange drinks, and a revitalizing leafy green juice.
Did you know?
Hot apple cider
Remember the old saying: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away?” Well, it may just be true. Cider is made from freshly pressed apples and is unfiltered, which means that it retains more nutrients than regular apple juice. In other words, you’ll get more benefits thanks to immunity-boosting antioxidants that can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
Other effective ingredients that make this hot apple cider a healing tonic are the grated ginger and lemon juice. Ginger contains anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe a sore throat, and lemon juice can help reduce the amount of phlegm produced by the body.
Taste it: Apple’s natural sweetness pairs well with spicy ginger, and the lemon juice adds just the right amount of citrus to balance it all out. Serve it straight from the stove as we did, or blend it into a frothy drink.
- 1 cup unfiltered apple juice
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- juice of half a lemon
- Warm the apple cider on low heat in a small saucepan.
- Add the grated ginger and simmer gently for five minutes.
- Strain the mix into a mug and add the lemon juice.
Hot orange drink
One way to make fruit juice a little bit healthier is to dilute it with water as we did in this recipe. Doing so will soften the blow to your blood sugar levels without taking away from the orange’s nutrients. If you can, squeeze the juice straight from an orange for even more goodness.
Whole foods are better than dietary supplements when it comes to preventing colds and flu because they deliver the entire nutritional package. For example, eating an orange is better than merely taking vitamin C, because it provides a range of additional nutrients such as thiamin, potassium, folate, vitamin B6 and antioxidant-rich flavonoids.
If you’re wondering why vitamin C gets associated with colds and flu so often, it’s because it keeps your immune system strong. And since your immune system is what protects you from viral infections, vitamin C-rich foods can have a serious impact on your immune system’s ability to fight off illnesses.
Taste it: This drink tastes like Christmas in a mug! It’s spiced with whole cloves, cinnamon and ginger, which means the powerful flavors gets released into the beverage slowly. The longer you leave them in, the stronger the flavors in your tonic.
- 1 cup (240 ml) orange juice (freshly squeezed if possible)
- ⅛ cup (30 ml) water
- a dash of powdered ginger
- 2 cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Place orange juice, water, ginger, cloves and cinnamon in a small saucepan.
- Heat the mixture until it’s hot, but not boiling.
- Remove from the heat and enjoy!
For a sense of calm
Third on our list of health tonics, elixirs and potions, is our golden milk recipe. An Ayurvedic remedy, people throughout the ages have traditionally brewed golden milk to soothe themselves before a good night’s sleep. With turmeric as the star of the show, this drink offers a host of different healing properties and is the perfect accompaniment to a cozy night indoors.
The health benefits of this creamy-delicious drink span from reducing inflammation and lowering blood sugar levels to helping your liver detoxify, boosting your immune system and easing digestion. All of which contribute to making you sleep faster and better and to waking up feeling refreshed.
On top of that, stirring turmeric into tryptophan-rich milk only adds to the elixir, making it the perfect – and natural – pre-bedtime sedative.
Taste it: This golden milk gives us exotic Indian vibes that make us feel all toasty. The ginger, cinnamon and turmeric tickle your taste buds while the honey and milk work together to offset the spices.
- 1 cup regular or almond milk
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp raw honey (or to taste)
- a pinch of ginger powder
- a pinch of cinnamon
- Simmer over low heat for five minutes.
- Strain and enjoy – preferably while not wearing white clothes!
Chili hot chocolate
If you think hot cocoa is a warming beverage on its own, wait until you try out this chili-infused hot cocoa. Together with making you feel warm and fuzzy inside, the drink possesses three times the amount of antioxidants in green tea! Just watch out for store-bought varieties: they often contain additives that can negatively affect the drink’s nutritional properties. Your best bet is to make it homemade, like our recipe here.
The Mayans were among the first to imbibe spicy cocoa for its positive effects, long before the drink became popular as it is today. Some even considered the drink a form of medicine, and when chocolate made its way to Europe, it was used “to fight against fits of anger and bad moods.”
Researchers later discovered that chocolate could reduce the body’s stress hormone levels through its serotonin-boosting properties. Additionally, there are compounds in chocolate that act on the receptors in our brain that release dopamine, the pleasure-generating hormone.
Out of all the drinks on our list of health tonics, elixirs and potions, this one is our spiciest. We hope you like it as much as we do!
Taste it: Think hot chocolate with a lingering warmth! The sweetness of vanilla and cinnamon pair with chili for a fiery kick at the end. Salt acts as a flavor enhancer, bringing out the deeper chocolate notes in this warm drink.
- 2 tsp cacao powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup non-dairy milk
- 1 chili pepper
- 1 Tbsp honey (or to taste)
- a pinch of salt
- In a saucepan on medium heat, whisk the milk together with the cacao powder, cinnamon, vanilla, and the salt.
- Add the whole chili pepper to the saucepan and bring it almost to a boil. Remove it from the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes. Take the chili pepper out and discard it.
- Serve the hot chili chocolate in your favorite mug and, if you’re in the mood, top it with some chili powder.
Leafy green juice
The health benefits of smoothies are extensive, but much of the time, they only contain fruit – making them very high in sugar.
Using veggies can help provide nutrients without all the sugar. Leafy greens, for example, are useful for weight management because they’re low in calories yet packed with essential nutrients like dietary fiber, vitamin c, folic acid, magnesium and potassium. They also contain lutein and beta-carotene, both of which can help protect our cells from free radical damage.
Additionally, green veggies do a great job at boosting energy naturally thanks to the chlorophyll in them. The green pigment helps oxygenate the blood, creating increased brain function and physical strength.
Taste it: The cucumber’s mellow taste takes center stage here, with a hint of the more intensely flavored spinach and parsley playing secondary roles. The apple sweetens things up, while the lemon adds a hint of tartness.
- 1 bunch parsley
- 1 cucumber
- 1 cup spinach
- ½ cup lemon juice
- 1 thumb peeled ginger
- ½ cup unfiltered apple juice
- Add everything to a blender and blend on high.
- Pour into a glass and enjoy! You can store it in the fridge for up to two days. If the mixture separates, mix with a spoon to combine again.
Some other elixirs, tonics and teas that may help alleviate winter blues include diluted juices, natural ginger ale, ginger tea, herbal tea, lemon and honey tea, broth and hot water.
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