"This is not the time to start thinking about salads. Giving our systems a little bit of a break is a good idea, but staying warm and cosy just has to be a priority at this time of the year."
So, what could be better than enjoying a nice, hot cup of tea? I’m not talking about a cup of strong builder’s brew though, I’m talking something a little more healthy, something that will help your system to recover from all those chocolates, biscuits, turkey sandwiches, cocktails and of course my New Year’s Eve Cheese Fondue! What better way to deal with all this than to go back to nature and use its healing powers. Here are some herbs and ingredients that will help you on the way and will hopefully give you some of your pre-Christmas bounce back.
Has healing and detoxifying properties which help to cleanse the built-up toxins in your liver and other organs. It has the ability to neutralise acids and support your digestive system, which in turn relieves things like bloating and constipation. To enjoy this in a tea, slice four to five thin slices of a fresh ginger root, add to a mug and top with hot water. Add a little honey to sweeten the tea if you want.
Another great detox aid and might be more to your taste if ginger isn’t your cup of tea (pun semi-intended) and you’re happy to swap your cup of coffee for it first thing in the morning – the best time to drink it in order to help your body. Apart from the obvious vitamin C content, a cup of hot lemon will help your bowels to eliminate any lingering waste, it cleanses the blood and helps your liver to produce more bile which in turn aids digestion. Simply squeeze the juice of a fresh lemon into a glass and top with hot water.
I love the taste of peppermint tea. Brewed with fresh mint leaves, it reminds me of the strong and sweet tea I had in Morocco and is refreshing and warming at the same time. Peppermint has soothing qualities which help with coughs, sore throats and a stuffy nose. It also oils which help with some of the common hangover symptoms like nausea and heartburn. To prepare your peppermint tea put about two tablespoons of fresh leaves into a mug and crush them slightly to help release the healing oils. Pour hot water on top and leave to stew for about 10 minutes. If you don’t fancy leaves between your teeth, pour the hot tea through a sieve into another cup and enjoy whilst warm.
Might seem a little unusual, but they have great antioxidant properties. They’re helpful if you suffer from skin impurities due to sugar overload and help to cleanse your liver and kidneys. Their anti-inflammatory and blood cleansing properties can even help with eczema – again, something that can flare up when you’ve overdone the sweet treats. To make your tea, use one tablespoon of fresh nettles (a very good reason to grow them in your garden) and top with hot water. Leave to steep for 30 minutes whilst covered before drinking. To get all healing benefits from the nettles, this tea should be enjoyed without the addition of any sweeteners.
Last, but not least, you should consider turmeric, the most tried and tested herb for inflammation. Turmeric probably has the most powerful cleansing, antiseptic and antibacterial properties and will help your liver to recover after overindulging in a tipple or two. The best way to use turmeric is in combination with ginger and lemon as this will not only pack a real detox punch but also taste best. Add four slices of ginger, the juice of one lemon and one teaspoon of ground turmeric. Put the ginger together with 500ml in a saucepan and bring to the boil before turning down the heat onto low and add the turmeric. Simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from the heat and leave to rest for another 10 minutes before adding the lemon and a little honey to sweeten.
By the way, did you know that honey also has anti-inflammatory properties? Dab a little honey onto chapped lips and small scratches to speed up the healing process. Just don’t be tempted to lick it off as soon as you put on your lips…
So, I hope this little guide will help you to get the new year off to a healthy start and see you through the grey month of January.