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This blog started as a way for me to share my recipes + culinary adventures, tips for vibrant health + happiness, thoughts on the latest developments in nutritional medicine + the low down on the Sydney wholefoods scene and beyond...

Filtering by Tag: hydration

My 3 favourite coffee substitutes


I love coffee - the taste, the smell, the resultant 'hit'....  but I can't drink it every day. It makes me too wired and anxious and it effects my sleep. Sigh. So I've had to resort to a few other winter warming substitutes. Here are 3 of my favourites: Dandy latte

Dandelion root has a slightly bitter taste like coffee. For the nutrition benefits of dandelion root click here. I buy dandelion root either from OVVIO - The Organic Liefstyle Store or less frequently the Bonvit brand (sold at various organic/health stores and at Woollies supermarket). Bonvit is sold either finely ground or medium ground. The medium ground is much coarser needs to be infused in a bodum. Simply add 1-2 teaspoons in a bodum, pour in 1 cup boiling water and infuse. Pour into a mug and if desired add  milk and raw honey. The finely ground root can be made 2 ways:

1. like an instant coffee by simply adding 1-2 teaspoons in a mug and adding 1 cup of boiling water. Add milk and raw honey if desired; or

2. like a latte. This is my favourite as its richer/creamier and more akin to a cafe latte. Dissolve 1-2 teaspoons of finely ground dandelion root in a saucepan and add a small amount of boiling water to dissolve. Add 1 cup of whole milk, a good sprinkling of cinnamon powder and a sprinkling of vanilla bean powder. You can add some raw honey if you require some extra sweetness.

Heat gently until warm (do not boil) and blend using a hand held blender.

Pour into a mug. Dust with nutmeg and extra cinnamon powder on top.

When I served this recently to my friend Natasha she declared "This is the best milky drink I've ever had!!".  I think this is undeservedly high praise but the fact that our 3 collective children hijacked our dandy lattes shows that the drink is coveted by young and old.

Herbal chai tea

I grew up on a tea my mother would make with cinnamon bark, cloves and aniseed. I guess it's the Greek version of a herbal Indian Chai tea (without the black tea leaves). My mum calls it "Ygliganiso" (pronounced in a way that only someone with Mediterranian heritage could muster-  a sounds that comes from deep in the back  of your throat). Using my mum's tea as inspiration and adding a few more spices over the years I now make up my own blend as follows:

3x cinnamon quills (broken into small pieces)

½ tablespoon cloves

½ tablespoon aniseed

½ tablespoon star anise (broken into small pieces)

3 tablespoons fennel

3 tablespoons ginger root

4 cardamon pods

Mix spices and store in glass jar in cool place.  Add 1 teaspoon per cup into a teapot or bodum and infuse with boiling water. Serve with milk (for a milky chai tea, which I prefer), and if desired a little raw honey.

I typically serve this when friends/guests come over. It's always a winner at dinner parties after dessert. My kids love it in sippy cups with lots of milk to cool it down. I have found that this is sometimes the easiest way to get fluids into them in winter when they don't feel like drinking cold water. I find these herbs have a very calming effect on the nervous system so its a wonderful tea for children as well as adults.

Chilli orange hot chocolate 

I got this idea from Max Brenner a decade ago but of course I only use real chocolate (unprocessed fermented raw cacao powder). Orange and chocolate combine to make  a jaffa-like taste (remember those little orange balls from your childhood??).

In a small saucepan add:

  1. 1 cup of whole milk or coconut milk
  2. the rind from 1/2 an orange (use a lemon zester)
  3. 2 teaspoons raw cacao powder (I like the Loving Earth brand)
  4. a sprinkling of chilli powder (depending on how spicy you like it)

Heat gently until warm (do not boil) and blend using a hand held blender.

Pour into a mug. You can dust some extra raw cacao powder on top. My husband took a sip to try it this week then claimed it as his own. Typical.

I buy my organic herbs and spices from OVVIO- The Organic Lifestyle Store at  Paddington 5 ways or from an organic wholesaler. I try to buy organic herbs and spices as conventional ones are typically irradiated and /or sprayed.

These 3 drinks are also a great way of consuming non-diuretic beverages in winter when you just don't feel like drinking boring old cold water!! (note- dandelion root is slightly diuretic but less so than coffee).

So make yourself a cup of tea/hot chocolate.... and sit back and relax!! What are your favourite coffee substitutes??

Drink! ...salt?


One of my close friends recently reminded me of the importance of hydration as one of the key foundations of health. Yes, I've known for an age that what we drink is important and directly affects our health and I know that we should add unrefined salt to our drinking (preferably filtered) water, but what I didn't fully appreciate is that it can actually be dangerous to drink Unsalted water. Here's why: The human body requires that the salt concentration of the blood be kept constant. If you drink unsalted water, the body tries to restore the proper salt concentration balance by excreting water (eg via sweating, urinating etc) which leads to dehydration. It is not possible to quench your thirst by drinking more and more unsalted water as the body will continue to excrete water to restore the proper concentration of salt in the blood. The body also tries to restore the vital salt concentration balance by drawing salt out of vital organs (eg kidneys) and bones (which hence weakens them) and transporting the salt into the blood stream. In severe cases of drinking large amounts of unsalted water resulting in dangerously low blood sodium levels, called “hyponatremia”, common in marathon runners, the result is a gradual desiccation of the body and finally death- you literally die of thirst. Scary stuff hey. When I told my other half about the importance of adding salt to our water he quickly retorted back with "are you telling me that our hunter gatherer ancestors added salt to their water?" Ok, good point. So I diligently went off to do further research on this point and found that "The hunter gatherer obtains the salt he needs from the blood of animals (and sometimes the urine), which concentrate salt from the plants that they eat" (MR Block, The Social Influence of Salt, July 1963, reprinted in Scientific American, 1978). Now I dont know about you, but no matter how 'primal' I feel I think I'll draw the line at drinking blood and urine, so pass me that bottle of salted water please! There is actually a formula for the amount of salt to add to water: its 1/4 teaspoon per 1 litre. This is more than just a "pinch". At first it will taste unpleasantly salty but you do get used to it and will begin to love the taste of it (think of the taste of licked skin straight out of the surf....sorry if that sounds a bit kinky...). Back to the importance of salt (and of course I'm talking about unrefined salt here like sea salt and not table salt which is heavily refined and toxic)....Like saturated fat from natural sources, salt is absolutely essential to our survival, which is why we are literally hard wired to like the taste of it. Salt provides the minerals chloride, sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium. Salt plays a key role in numerous body functions including enzyme function, energy production, hormone production, protein transport, nerve conduction, assimilation of nutrients into the cells, maintenance of blood pressure and volume, muscular activity, digestion of food, brain development and metabolism. Salt allows you to absorb and retain more fluids (which is especially critical for athletic recovery).

Numerous studies have shown that when the salt concentration of the blood is reduced to low levels it can result in a loss of smell and taste, weight loss, headaches, nausea, nightmares, muscle cramps, lethargy, speaking difficulties, dulled mental capacity, reduced co-ordination, depression and/or insulin resistance (the precursor to type 2 diabetes)- do any of these symptoms ring true for you??  In these studies, all subjects returned to normal health and vigor after resuming salt intake. So don't be shy about adding unrefined salt to your foods and water especially in these warmer summer months when we sweat more and excrete more salt.

As to how much water to drink, there's a formula for that too (your body weight in kgs x 0.033, plus extra if you're exercising) but I think this grossly under-represents our hydration requirements. I weigh 52-53kg and easily drink around 5+ litres a day no problem if my water bottle is in easy reach which is 3 litres more than the recommended 1.7 litres for my weight. Don't wait until you're thirsty- by then your cells are already massively dehydrated. The best indication I think as to whether you're sufficiently hydrated is the colour of your urine- it should be clear not yellow.

Ok I'll get off my saltbox (bad joke, I know, but rather cute, no?) but if you want more information check out or “Salt of the Earth” by Sally Fallon Morell, Wise Traditions, Summer 2011, p29.