Spiced Almond Meringues

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What can I say, I woke up with a sweet tooth today!  When cooking for wellness, satisfying a sweet tooth requires a bit of mindfulness.  With a bit of thought, it’s possible to indulge in something deliciously sweet without ingesting the loads of saturated fat that are lurking in many traditional dessert recipes.  For me, meringues are just the thing… delightful when I feel like a bit of sugar without inviting butter (or worse, shortening) along for the ride.

Ingredients (makes 48 meringues)

3 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup white sugar

Directions

picture194Step 1) In  scrupulously clean bowl, beat egg whites, almond extract, and cream of tartar at high speed for 2 – 3 minutes until soft peaks form.  It’s OK if the peaks fall over at this point, when you lift the beater out of the mixture.

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picture195Step 2)  Add white sugar and ground cloves – 1 tablespoon at a time – to egg white mixture.  Beat at high speed for 3 – 5 minutes until mixture is glossy and stiff peaks form.  When you lift the beater out of the mixture now, the peaks should stand up straight.

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picture196Step 3)  Drop tablespoonsful of the meringue mixture onto a greased cookie sheet, leaving 1 – 2 inches between meringues.  Bake in a preheated 300 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Cool on a cooking rack and Enjoy!

Wellness Teas, Part I

picture101Tea and wellness have been connected in cultures around the world for literally thousands of years.  Across hemispheres, languages, religions, and millennia, people have been preparing and drinking teas to share hospitality, strengthen family and community relationships, grow in their spirituality, treat disease, and fortify their physical health.

The simple act of preparing tea invokes an aura of wellness.  Aromatherapy is inherent in the mixing of teas and herbs, as how can possibly create tea blends without considering their medley of natural aromas?  Relaxation also is inherent in the brewing of tea, as infusing water with the flavors, aromas, oils, and other properties of teas and herbs takes time.  Settle in for a few minutes and join Crowded Earth Kitchen in the quiet and timeless ritual of preparing tea.

Strictly speaking, “tea” refers specifically to the leaves and leaf buds of the Camellia sinensis plant.  Combinations of herbs, spices, and other plants that do not include Camellia sinensis are commonly referred to as “herbal teas,” but are not literal teas.  Nonetheless, herbal teas are often delicious, and can fill important roles in achieving overall wellness.  Today we are featuring two herbal blends, After Dinner Blend and Healthy Blood Pressure.

After Dinner Blend (makes 15 cups)

This mild herbal tea blend is a personal favorite for settling the stomach and aiding in healthy digestion.  It has a slightly earthy flavor reminiscent of chai.  To prepare, simply combine one heaping tablespoon of each of the following five ingredients, readily available in spice shops or the bulk spice section of better markets (pictured clockwise from top):

picture093 (2)Crystallized Ginger

Whole Cloves

Ground Slippery Elm

Whole Cardamom Pods

Peppermint

Combine all five ingredients in a small container (4 ounce jelly jars are pretty, reusable, and just the right size).  For each cup of tea, add 1 teaspoon of the herbal blend to a tea ball or empty tea bag (available wherever loose teas are sold).  Place the tea ball or tea bag in a mug along with 8 to 10 ounces of boiling water.  Steep for 7 minutes.  Enjoy!

Healthy Blood Pressure Blend (makes 12 cups)

Disclaimer:  Crowded Earth Kitchen is not in the business of dispensing medical advice.  If you have high blood pressure, visit an actual MD and follow their advice.  I do, and I do.  I also drink 1 or 2 cups of this tea everyday.  The Omega-3 fatty acids in flax seed are a healthy dietary addition for most people, regardless of hypertension.  Dandelion root is a natural diuretic.  Hawthorn has been used conventionally for cardiovascular health.  Last but not least, hibiscus has shown promise in lowering blood pressure in medical studies.  Please see WebMD.com for more information, and consult your physician with any questions.

If you’re still with me, combine 1 heaping tablespoon of each of the following four ingredients (pictured clockwise from top):

picture096Hawthorne Berry

Hibiscus

Flax Seed

Dandelion Root

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After combining, spoon 1 teaspoon of the herbal blend into a tea ball or tea bag.  Steep in 8 to 10 ounces of boiling water for 7 minutes to create a fruity, ruby red beverage.  Enjoy, and Be Well!

Crowded Earth Kitchen will revisit the topic of tea on occasion, sharing two favorite blends at a time.  If you have a favorite herb or type of tea that you would like to see featured, please comment below!