3 Super Easy Herbal Recipes For The Most Germ-Ridden Time Of The Year, Plus a Tea Recipe To Stay Cozy

3 Super Easy Herbal Recipes For The Most Germ-Ridden Time Of The Year, Plus a Tea Recipe To Stay Cozy

Is there a mom out there who has time to get sick? I know I can't. For the past few months, I've been working between Connecticut and New York, keeping an airtight schedule to make it all work. There's no room in this single mom's life for a day in bed with the flu. 

Phi getting sick is an even gloomier prospect, because I hate seeing my baby sick! 

Here are a few potions I brew up to fend off germs during cold & flu season. They're all super easy and kid-approved (or at least my kid-approved). Some of the ingredients can be found at almost any grocery store, but others are only available at specialty stores or online.

At the bottom of the page, I've added links to buy some of the harder-to-find ingredients and some tools you'll need if you're going to get really into tea-making. 

1. Adapotgen-Packed ImmuniTEA (see what I did there?!)

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Learning about herbs and making up tea recipes that make the most of them is a huge passion of mine. Going into this fall, I was really excited to create an adaptogen blend to combat illness and help my body recover from the stress of working a ton + keeping up with a toddler. 

What are adaptogens? They're a group of herbal ingredients that help improve the health of the adrenal system, which manages our bodies' responses to stress. They enhance the body's ability to fight fatigue, manage anxiety, and ward off illness. There is no caffeine in this blend, but one of the benefits of adaptogens is that they'll give you a little boost when you need it, with no jolt and crash. Read more about adaptogens here.

In the ingredient list, I'll share links to more information about each herb, so if you're interested you can learn more about each of these amazing plants and mycelium. 

**a note to expectant moms: due to conflicting research on whether or not some of the herbs listed below are safe for pregnant women, I can't confidently recommend them for pregnant women. These herbs are generally considered safe during breastfeeding

Recipe:

2 parts ginkgo bilboa

2 parts astragalus root

2 parts echinacea

2 parts ashwagandha 

1 part chaga

*I recommend using 1/4 cup as "1 part," but you can use 1 tbsp, 1 cup, or any other amount depending on how much tea you want to make. 

Method:

Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl. As if you're tossing a salad, mix them together using two large serving utensils or tongs. 

For loose leaf tea, store in a glass jar with an airtight lid. Use 1 tsp of tea per cup of water, plus one for the pot; i.e. if your teapot holds 2 cups of water, add 3 tsp of tea. 

For tea bags, add 2 scant tsp to tea filter bags (link below) 

Steep for at least 5 minutes. 

2. Aunt Virginia Drink

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Three or so years ago, I got really, really into apple cider vinegar. Every morning, I chased apple cider vinegar shots with water. All of a sudden, I couldn't handle it anymore. Just the smell of apple cider vinegar was nauseating to me. Lo and behold, I was pregnant with Phi.

About a year ago, my Aunt Virginia started drinking an apple cider vinegar concoction. It took some convincing to get me to try it. Aversions developed during early pregnancy are difficult to break! Once I finally tried it, I was hooked. I actually started craving it. Best of all, Phi will actually drink it.

I could (and probably will!) write a whole post on the many ways I use apple cider vinegar and its many benefits, but for our purposes here, the most important thing to know is that it kills "bad" bacteria and fosters the growth of "good" bacteria. Learn more about the many benefits of apple cider vinegar here. Pair it with honey , lemon, and cinnamon, each featuring immune-boosting benefits of their own, and it will actually taste good! I promise! 

Recipe:

1 cup lemon-flavored seltzer (or 1 cup seltzer + 2 tsp lemon juice)

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp honey

Method:

There's not actually much of a method here beyond stirring all of the ingredients together, but here's a warning: add the ingredients slowly to prevent a potential giant mess of cinnamon-sprinkled bubbles. It's happened. 

3. Elderberry Syrup

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There are two ways elderberry syrup can be used. The better-known use is alleviating symptoms if you or your kid gets sick. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, influenza symptoms were relieved an average of 4 days earlier in patients who were given elderberry syrup.

While it's great for knocking symptoms out if you're already sick, elderberry syrup is also useful in preventing colds and flus in the first place. The bioflavinoids in elderberries boost antioxidant levels, helping prevent infection. It's also rich in vitamins A and C, which our bodies need daily to maintain optimal health. 

There is plenty of elderberry syrup available for sale, but if you make it yourself you can add ingredients you like and leave out the ingredients you'd prefer to avoid. Many of the brands on the market include added sugar.

I like to make elderberry syrup with a thinner consistency and add apple cider vinegar to take as a shot every day or every couple of days. The recipe below can serve as a loose guide; the more you make elderberry syrup, the more you'll get a sense for how you like it. 

Recipe:

2/3 cup dried elderberries

3.5 cups of water

Optional:

1 cinnamon stick OR 1 tsp cinnamon powder

2 tbsp fresh or dried ginger root

1/2 tsp whole cloves or clove powder

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup lemon

1 cup raw honey

Method: 

Add water and elderberries to a medium saucepan. If you're adding cinnamon, cloves, and/or ginger, add them now.

Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer for 45 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by about half. 

Remove from heat and let cool. 

When the syrup is cool enough to handle. strain into a bowl. Once it's no longer hot, add honey, apple cider vinegar, and/or lemon and mix well. 

Store in a glass jar in the fridge. It will keep for months! 

For cold and flu prevention, kids should take 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp daily, and adults can take 1/2 tbsp to 1 tbsp. When illness strikes, take a dose every 2-3 hours until symptoms resolve. 

Bonus: Relaxing Herbal Tea To Stay Cozy All Fall + Winter Long

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Last year, we couldn't get away from the word "hygge," the Danish term for charming, exquisitely cozy moments. For me, it means slipper socks on, tea in hand, and a couple of good books on deck. It can't just be one book- nothing kills the moment like the fear of finishing a good book without another one ready to go. 

As I write this, I'm enjoying one of those moments. It's raining up here in Connecticut, I have a pot of tea steeping, phi is napping, AND the kitchen is clean. This little taste of winter hibernation has me looking forward to the months ahead, but this year I'm going back to basics and calling it what it is: cozy. Cozy is Phi's new favorite word, one of the last things she says at night after I tuck her into bed and kiss her goodnight. Before I tuck her in, she takes this tea with honey and milk. 

Recipe:

3 parts German chamomile

1 part lavender

1 part rosebuds

1 part sage

Method:

Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl. As if you're tossing a salad, mix them together using two large serving utensils or tongs. 

For loose leaf tea, store in a glass jar with an airtight lid. Use 1 tsp of tea per cup of water, plus one for the pot; i.e. if your teapot holds 2 cups of water, add 3 tsp of tea. 

For tea bags, add 2 scant tsp to tea filter bags (link below) 

Steep for at least 5 minutes. 

Below, find links to hard-to-find ingredients and tools to get started! If there's enough interest, I'll start selling the teas I make here. Let me know if you'd be interested! 

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