USING NATURAL PREVENTATIVES AND TREATMENTS DURING FLU AND COLD SEASON

Cold-Flu 2

Be proactive to avoid and cut short colds and flus! Flu and cold season – which seems to get longer and longer – is a challenge to navigate. Even the flu vaccines are not totally effective because of the various strains of flu in a given year. There are additional over the counter medications and prescription drugs available as well. We are encouraged to avoid getting or spreading these conditions by washing our hands a lot, not touching our face, staying home if we are sick, etc.

In addition to all of this, I personally favor natural preventatives and treatments as much as possible. I found an article from a couple of years ago that offers 10 natural cold and flu remedies that work that you may want to consider. A couple of them were new to me and perhaps you also will find a natural preventative or remedy to try.

Here are some of the suggestions provided by the author on The Healthy Maven blog:

  • Gargle with salt water – do this at the first sign you may be getting sick. I have personally done this just recently and it was effective.
  • Honey – this can be as is, or in over the counter cough syrups (all-natural varieties). Raw honeys are the best if possible.
  • Ginger which comes in a variety of forms – root, powder, capsules, even candies.
  • Elderberry Syrup which both is a great preventative and treatment. There are a variety of other elderberry options. I have used and found elderberry to be very effective. Here’s more information in an earlier post: https://carolbrusegar.com/what-are-elderberries-health/
  • Propolis – produced by bees to seal their hives and very anti-viral and anti-bacterial. It’s available as a throat spray. Reviews indicate that this throat spray is a good preventative when used daily, as well as to nip a scratchy throat or other symptoms quickly. Propolis Throat Spray
  • Essential Oils – Eucalyptus and peppermint as well as combinations of various oils can be used effectively. These can be infused and benefit everyone in the household as well as being applied topically or ingested. It’s important to know exactly how to do this.

There are a couple of additional natural approaches that are widely recommended: hot green tea and turmeric.

Hot green tea is high in antioxidants and stimulates organ function; add honey for a double benefit.  Turmeric reduces inflammation in our bodies, and we hear more and more that inflammation is related to many conditions. It can make us feel achy and sometimes lead to illness. Make a paste from powdered turmeric (from the spice shelf) with water and mix into warm milk or tea.

Let’s do everything we can to avoid colds and flus and to get rid of them if we happen to get them, using natural substances as much as possible!

 

 

A New Decade — Opportunity for Perspective and Moving Forward Powerfully

2020 20302020 – we are leaving the 2010s and beginning the 2020s! What does that mean to you? Perhaps not much. A year is a year, you may think. However, you might consider this an opportunity to do some reflection backward and anticipation forward on a broader scale than one year. Another decade, another 10 years of life is ending; another decade is beginning. I find that these mileposts can provide valuable chances to celebrate, learn, focus and refocus.

Looking Back on the 2010s

For some of us, the decade ending has a particular meaning. For example for me, the beginning of March 2020, marks the completion of 10 years living in Nashville, Tennessee. I am taking the opportunity to reflect on that decade of living in a location I had never imagined as my home. What has that meant to me and what does it mean going forward?

Do you have aspects of your life that coincide with the years 2010 to 2020? They may not be as obvious as mine; see if you can identify any. For all of us, taking a longer view backwards can be beneficial. Try to take an aerial view. Perhaps it’s from a helicopter, or a hot air balloon, or on the wings of an eagle.

Grab a pen and paper and start jotting things you remember as you look back on those years from that higher perspective. You might do this by category: successes, disappointments, family highlights, family struggles, illuminations or learnings. Add categories that resonate with you. If you have things to reference that will jog your memory, use them. For example, every year during this decade, I have included a list of highlights of the past year in my Christmas cards and they are a great memory booster in this process. Do you have something like this? Perhaps you journal or keep planners and calendars from past years – they can provide memory jogs.

NOTE: you may write these things in lists and other linear modes or use visual tools like mind mapping. If you’d like more information, go to: https://carolbrusegar.com/mindmapping-multi-faceted-tool/

Once you have written as much as you can think of for now, spend some time reviewing it. Pull out particularly significant things and translate them into learnings that can inform your looking toward a new decade. For example, after six years in Nashville I intended to follow my family who had moved back to California. I am still here (for multiple reasons) and digging into why is an important part of my consideration of the past decade.

Looking Forward

Now shift your perspective toward the coming decade. This time we will start at the end of the decade – 2030 (YIKES) – and create a picture of what we would like to have as our reality at that point. Think about family, financial status, location, relationships, career/job/business/activities. Add any other categories you choose. Take some time with this.

After you have some things recorded that you are excited about, you can jump back into your helicopter, hot air balloon or onto the wings of the eagle. From that aerial view, start jotting down some milestones along the way between your desired 2030 reality and where you are now in 2020. Exactly the kinds of things you include is your choice. It might be intermediate steps toward the outcome, resources needed, things you need to learn, people to involve in various ways, etc.

What we are creating is a background for more specific planning. Are you getting excited? I hope so!

After you have gleaned useable information from the past decade and have a stimulating vision with milestones for the coming decade, it’s time to look at the new year of 2020 in that context.

What do you want to create and develop that will move you into the new decade with power? Again, use linear or more visual tools, depending on what is most useful and inspiring for you.

Look at what you have recorded. Think of a word or phrase that can be your Word for the Year to help keep you focused and on track for this fabulous year. If you have not used a Word for the Year tool, you can learn more about its value here: https://carolbrusegar.com/choose-your-word-for-the-year/

To fully benefit from use of this practice, grab a copy of the book here:  One Word That Will Change Your Life

Watch for specific planning resources in future posts.

EXPANDING THE PARAMETERS OF YOUR DECEMBER HOLIDAY

Reaching OutAs I write this post, it is one week before Christmas. For many people, the entire focus of the past month has been on preparing for that day as the culmination of the season. Often they start the hustle and bustle the day after Thanksgiving – shopping, decorating social events, etc. Then by the day or so after Christmas or at least before New Year’s Eve, it’s all over. Decorations down, focus on recuperation and the coming “return to routine.”

I prefer to observe the 12 Days of Christmas which for centuries have been a time of celebration – starting with December 25 and ending on the evening of January 5. Others observe the pan-African holiday Kwanzaa from December 26 to January 1, celebrating family, community and culture.

The Jewish holiday, Hanukkah, follows a lunar calendar so the dates vary, but in 2019 it is from sundown on December 22 through sundown on December 30. This whole period of time includes a variety of celebrations that we can learn about and from, especially if they are from a different culture or group.

What if we extended whatever holiday we observe by planning to do some simple things that demonstrated care and love to others? The time after Christmas and especially after New Years Day is often a time of let-down, of sadness and loneliness for people – perhaps you and people you know. The energy and push of the previous month is over, the days are still short and winter weather prevails.

Here are a few suggestions for extending the spirit of the holiday season:

1. Engage with an elderly person. The holidays can be tough for bedridden and nursing home-bound individuals. Bring love to those who need it most. Show up with books or magazines, do a crossword or puzzle together, sing songs or even just sit quietly and be a good listener.

2. Share a cup of cheer. Here’s a simple gesture to offer – surprise someone you love with a hot beverage. Coffee, tea, cocoa or chai, whatever their pleasure. Invite them to you home or to meet at a restaurant or coffee shop for relaxed time together.

3. Help someone who is struggling. If you live where winter includes cold and snow, there are likely people near you who could use some help managing. It may be keeping sidewalks and driveways clear. Or perhaps the elements are keeping them inside and isolated. A visit and a treat – cookies, a loaf of sweet bread, etc. – can be a real boost.

4. Get together with grandparents. After the group gatherings of the holidays, January can be very lonely. Make a visit, take them out for lunch or a movie or some other activity that will be enjoyable and give you a quieter time to be together.

5. During these coldest times of the year, there are people in need of warm hats, scarves or mittens. Check with a school or homeless shelter. You could knit or crochet and item or two individually or have a gathering of a few friends to make some items. If you aren’t crafty or don’t have time to do that, find some cozy things at the store and share them.

6. Remember those who have had tough holidays because of a breakup, the loss of loved ones, family conflict or other factors. Making contact and perhaps spending a little time with them, even on the phone, can be a boost. It’s a reminder that people remember and care.

If you are one who experiences down time, even depression, after the holidays, doing one or more of these or similar things can give you a sense of purpose as well as help someone else. A win-win situation for sure!

Transforming Your Life With New Experiences, Part 3

Timothy's Gift in FloridaNOTE: In two earlier posts, Transforming Your Life With New Experiences and Transforming Your Life With New Experiences, Part 2,  I wrote about experiences in prison ministry with the Timothy’s Gift program. This post is about a more recent visit, this time to Florida prisons. The earliest post reflected a week-long tour to prisons in Ohio, the second to Arkansas.  I am part of the support team. This is a Christian ministry and that is reflected in the post.

In the days following a week-long Timothy’s Gift tour including 12 programs at nine different correctional institutions, I am generally fatigued. But my eyes are especially tired, feeling dry and hard to keep open. It is a physical reality, and there is also another level.

My eyes have seen, taken in, processed, remembered so much in the seven days. So much razor wire – layers of it enclosing each institution. So much blue – the color of the inmate clothing in Florida. So many varieties of men who are incarcerated – many nationalities and origins, ages from the twenties to the eighties, including the very old and infirm in wheelchairs. In one location, men who introduced themselves during the program included people from Mexico, Puerto Rico and multiple states far from Florida. There were some people who barely spoke English; I can’t imagine being unable to understand and communicate in that setting.

As we stood near the doors and greeted inmates as they came, I saw the range of excitement and openness to skepticism. Most had some kind of eye contact (or eye to face contact) as they shook our hands. Some certainly were there because it was an opportunity to do something different than the routine – anything would do.

My eyes saw and remember the variety of responses during the programs – a wide range from bubbling over with enthusiasm from the very beginning to stoic and staring, and everything in between. I saw how certain songs in the program elicited responses – laughter, smiles, sadness, tears – often subtle, sometimes not. One man sat motionless through much of the program, staring ahead to the side of the stage. At a couple of points, his eyes shifted to the person talking, but still no expression. There were a couple of tiny nods but little change in facial expression; no clapping or standing. But those nods indicated that some message was touching him. Will he be one of those who writes to us?

Seeing the lines of men in blue lining up for and receiving communion – hunks of bread broken of and placed in their outstretched hands with words of encouragement and blessing which they dipped into grape juice – was moving each time. Here was when most tears flowed. Quiet prevailed during this time as people pondered and prayed.

At the end of communion, an a cappella version of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” washed over them, followed by “The Prayer.” There is no way to describe the feelings that welled up throughout the room, particularly with the crescendo of emotion at the line, “we are all God’s Children.” It seemed like an invisible power brought people to their feet at the end. What a high point!

As we again shook hands and blessed them as they left, lots of gratitude was expressed along with blessings and wishes for a “Merry Christmas.” The messages of You are Loved, You Have Great Worth, God is With You, and You are Not Forgotten seem to have touched them. This has been verified powerfully in the letters received since we returned home. I am amazed at the impact they describe that lasts beyond the time we were together. The protective barriers which are a necessity in that environment truly have been breached and love and care reached them.

We also interact with a variety of staff members including the officers who direct the inmates into the room and into rows and take us through the security checks and locked compartments to our destination in the chapel. They stand alert on the sides and at the back of the room, often expressionless. There are also supervisors – sergeants, lieutenants, majors – the assistant wardens and wardens, and chaplains. Often it’s hard to assess what they are thinking or feeling. But as we are courteous, grateful and take time to talk with them, they warm up and open up. Everyone I talked to said they really enjoyed the program.

My heart also “saw”/recognized things, particularly this: a team of people whose hearts were open and who became instruments of love and acceptance. Perhaps one of the miracles of the week is this: the simple messages of You are Loved, You Have Great Worth, God is With You, and You are Not Forgotten transform those coming with the messages so that we embody them in ways that can’t be fully explained except to say “God With Us.”

For more information on this ministry, go to http://www.timothysgift.com

 

Take Steps Now to Reduce Holiday Stress

Reduce Holiday StressWhen you think of the holidays, what comes to mind first? Twinkling lights? The merry faces of children? Or… is it stress? Does planning for Thanksgiving, Christmas and the December holidays stress you out?

In a recent article published by allonehealth.com, “Holiday stress statistics show that up to 69 percent of people are stressed by the feeling of having a ‘lack of time,’ 69 percent are stressed by perceiving a ‘lack of money,’ and 51 percent are stressed out about the ‘pressure to give or get gifts.’”

I think most of us will agree that it hasn’t always been this way. Especially for the older ones among us, the holidays were pretty simple. Holiday programs at school and church, putting up the Christmas tree together with ornaments the included handmade items by the children, perhaps Christmas caroling and holiday meals with family at home or at other relatives’ homes.

Now there is additional pressure to do indoor and outdoor decorating that can be competitive with relatives or neighbors. The list of people with whom to exchange gifts seems to grow. The advertising wherever we look starts SO early. In the internet age, the pressure to shop online on Black Friday has infringed on our Thanksgiving Day. The next day is Small Business Saturday and the following Monday is Cyber Monday for online sales.

Now is the time to decide, individually and with family or others who are directly involved, what kind of December you want this year. It doesn’t have to be an extensive process. It is really a priority-setting exercise that will set the parameters and tone for decisions about activities you choose.

Here are a few simple questions to think about and discuss with the others involved:

  • Looking back at previous holiday seasons, what things were the most enjoyable and meaningful? What made them that way?
  • What things caused the most stress and perhaps conflict? Was the stress primarily on one person or was it experienced by others?
  • Are there things any of you would like to include in your holiday celebrations that haven’t been part of them recently, or ever?
  • Based on the above, what key things (you may want to set a number) do you want to include that will be enjoyable and fulfilling for you and for others?
  • Are there activities that you want to continue but simplify? How?
  • What self-care strategies can you insert into the holiday season that will decrease stress for you? How about for others?

If there are differences of opinion about any of the above, working out a set of priorities and plans together can in itself reduce stress.

Taking time to do this between now and the beginning of December can have a huge positive impact. Perhaps it is something you can do during the weekend after Thanksgiving. Make it festive – snacks and beverages, candles, etc. This can become a tradition that you look forward to and treasure, not only for the outcome but the cooperative process.

Click below for a simple worksheet that includes the above questions. You can download and print it for this year and repeat next year.

WORKSHEET for Reducing Holiday Stress and Increasing Enjoyment

If this results in some fairly major changes in your holidays, be sure to communicate them in a positive way to anyone affected by your decisions. And in January, have another festive debrief of how this went for everyone. Happy holiday planning and destressing!!

For Thanksgiving: Free Online Resources to Entertain the Whole Family

Thanksgiving Resource PostThanksgiving and a long weekend can be a challenge in terms of keeping the family occupied while they are out of school and off work. It can also be a challenge when one or more of the parents needs to make the Thanksgiving meal, and they need to find quiet activities that children of all ages can do with a minimum amount of supervision and a maximum amount of interest to keep boredom at bay. And, of course, if there are guests in the house, too.

Fortunately, there are a number of online resources packed full of clever ideas the whole family can enjoy together. Here are several suggestions.

1. DLTK Growing Together    http://www.dltk-holidays.com/thanksgiving/

This useful site from Canada offers:
• Thanksgiving coloring pages
• Thanksgiving crafts
• Thanksgiving games and puzzles
• Thanksgiving poems and songs
• Thanksgiving printables
• Thanksgiving recipes
• Thanksgiving worksheets

This site is perfect for K through 8 and for adults who want to spend quality time with the kids for at least part of the holiday weekend. Load up the printer and ink and print out a range of activities, puzzles and more.

2. Education.com

This site has a nice selection of printables for all ages and of all types. There are puzzles, games, and history pages that help teach about the first Thanksgiving and the Puritan settlers to the New World.
https://www.education.com/worksheets/thanksgiving/

Extend the use of the pages by having your younger ones color them in. Be sure to have snub-nosed scissors and glue for the arts and crafts worksheets.

3. Scholastic

Scholastic has both free and paid printables through their membership, and resources for K through 8. Learn about colonial America, and enjoy coloring pages, games and worksheets. See the Thanksgiving collection here:
https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/collections/teaching-content/thanksgiving/

and the printables page. https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/thanksgiving-printables/

4. TheHomeSchoolMom

This site has a wealth of activities and links to a range of educational material from Pre-K to 12, plus teachers’ resources. Use the checkboxes at the top of the page to sort what you are looking for. This site is sure to give your whole family hours of educational fun. https://www.thehomeschoolmom.com/homeschool-lesson-plans/thanksgiving/

5. SignUp Genius

This website helps groups get organized by having them sign up for different activities. It has a nice list of 20 Thanksgiving games to play. https://www.signupgenius.com/home/thanksgivinggames.cfm

There’s also a sign-up project to help plan your Thanksgiving feast which you might find handy, and which the kids can help you with if they are old enough. https://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f044daead2aabfd0-dinner

6. Iheartnaptime.net

This site has made a list of 50 top printables the family will love. You’re sure to find hours of activities and tons of inspiration. https://www.iheartnaptime.net/50-best-thanksgiving-printables/

7. Apartment Therapy

This site offers 15 activities the whole family can get involved with in order to make your Thanksgiving special.
https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/thanksgiving-15-ideas-for-making-it-fun-and-meaningful-for-the-whole-family-161544

8. Play Party Plan
This site offers 30 Thanksgiving-themed party games the whole family will love.
https://www.playpartyplan.com/30-great-thanksgiving-party-games/

9. 247 Games

This fun site offers holiday versions of popular card and board games, such as Thanksgiving solitaire, mahjong, Sudoku and more.

http://www.thanksgivingblackjack.com/
http://www.thanksgivingmahjong.com/
http://www.thanksgivingsolitaire.com/
http://www.thanksgivingsudoku.com/
http://www.thanksgivingbackgammon.com/
Learn all new games or have fun with old favorites. Organize tournaments for each game to see who is the winner of each.

10. The Spruce Crafts

This site offers a range of fun Thanksgiving-themed puzzles.
https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/thanksgiving-puzzles-2809152

With all these free ideas, no one needs to be bored during the holidays.

Simple Fall and Thanksgiving Decorating Ideas

thanksgiving decorI love fall decorating in my home. It adds warmth and coziness before the rush of Christmas or other holiday decorating. It can be simple and inexpensive, and other family members can get involved. Here are several ideas to try or to inspire you to think of additional things you can do right now.

1. Outdoor Display
Decorate the front yard with harvest-type items like a hay bale, pumpkins, gourds, etc. You can arrange seasonal items on a bench, chair or swing, and use baskets, burlap bags, or other containers.

A Happy Thanksgiving sign can be easily created out of wood, or create a flag out of felt. For a little color, plant a few mums, either in the ground or in pots and planters around the outside of the house, or along the pathway or drive leading up to it. You can get a lot of decorating ideas at your local nursery.

2. Door Wreath
Nothing says the holidays quite like a door wreath. You can purchase grapevine wreaths in many sizes at a craft store very inexpensively. Then hot glue or wire pine cones, chestnuts, acorns, small gourds and more onto the wreath. You could also use a foam base. To make it more reusable year after year, Silk leaves and flowers can be used.

3. Inside the House
Add fall colors in simple ways like using autumn-colored throw pillows or blankets on your couch. Scented candles in fall fragrances or a spicy, scented air freshener add those great fall scents to your whole house.

4. Mantelpiece Display
The mantel over your fireplace is the perfect place to decorate for Thanksgiving. For a simple display, arrange some pumpkins or decorative gourds and/or Indian corn on the mantelpiece, along with a few candles. Orange, gold or brown glass vases by themselves or filled with live or silk flowers and foliage are also a nice touch. Hang a fall garland or wreath above the mantelpiece, similar to the one on your front door.

5. Create a Centerpiece
An attractive centerpiece can set the tone of any holiday table or buffet table. If you have a buffet or side table, add decorations there too. Here are some suggestions.

Fall Flower Arrangement
You can choose fresh flowers or plants – particularly in yellow, orange, brown or bronze colors – and add greenery or fall grasses to the fresh flowers. Alternately, you can make an arrangement that you can use year after year from silk flowers and foliage in a vase, basket or cornucopia. Add a complementary bow and you are all set.

Pumpkins, Gourds, and Indian Corn
You can make a beautiful fall arrangement by setting out some miniature pumpkins and ears of Indian corn on your table or sideboard. Look for yellow, red, multicolored and purple varieties of corn for an authentic Thanksgiving feel. Scatter them across your dining table or arrange them in a bowl for a nice centerpiece. And of course, there is nothing more gorgeous than a range of gourds. Keep them in a cool place and they can last for ages.

Candles and Seasonal Items
Candles always add a warm feel to a room. Pair them with displays of acorns, chestnuts and mini pumpkins.

Decorate or Paint Pumpkins
Painting pumpkins with a design can be great fun and result in some unique decorations. Acrylic craft paints, found in all craft stores and craft sections of other stores work well. Or you can choose or make stencils and spray paint them. Here’s some more information about painting pumpkins. Ehow – Painting Pumpkins

Hopefully, these ideas have inspired you to do some fall/Thanksgiving decorating.

If you are interested in additional fall decor items, go to this Amazon link to shop or just to get more ideas:  Fall Decor Items

Enjoy this season before the December holidays begin! It’s a lovely time of year.

What is Holding You Back From Retiring When You Feel Ready?

blocks

Suppose you are eligible to retire from your job – you are eligible for Social Security payments and have worked enough years to qualify for a good pension (if there is one with your employment). Financially, you could do it. And yet you don’t. Can you identify what is holding you back?

I recently had a conversation with someone in that precise situation. As we talked, she was able to identify several things that were keeping her from doing what she was in some ways quite ready to do – retire.

Blocks to Making the Move to Retirement

One factor was concern that she wouldn’t be contributing to the betterment of society anymore. Her career had focused on things that made a difference and she wanted to continue to do that in the coming years. Would she settle into a lifestyle that was narrower and not connected to the needs and issues?

A somewhat connected thought was that despite all she has done in a 40-year career, she hadn’t done enough in that area of interest. Should she stay and do more?

Then there was a practical thing: with workdays of 8 or more hours and a commute of an hour each way, all her focus had been on that job. She didn’t quite know how to shift focus and find new outlets for her commitment and energy.

The prospect of losing the relationships related to the job was another pull to continue working. Retirement inevitably changes or severs relationships with people with whom we have worked. In this case, they have been significant and in fact the majority of her personal relationships.

A final item was facing the overwhelming job of leaving records and the office in condition for someone to easily step in and do the work. There seems to be no time in the current pace of the job to get this done. Ultimately it became another reason to postpone retirement.

Can you relate to any of these as reasons you are putting off retirement, what is holding you back? Can you identify others?

As we talked, we identified some steps to take. Perhaps these could help you take some steps toward the goal of retirement on terms that are satisfying to you.

Steps to Removing Blocks

First, take inventory of the things you have accomplished and been involved in during your years of active employment. Write them down, think about the impacts and celebrate them. It is easy to lose track of all we have done after a long career and valuable to look back at them.

Second, look again at this list and consider what possibilities for post-retirement activity come to mind. How could your career be a launching pad for the next phase of your contribution? Perhaps there is something that you enjoyed and excelled at 20 years ago. What related things could you do? Could you take something to another level through volunteer work or even part time work in some organization? Do some creative brainstorming of ideas.

Third, take concrete steps to explore new opportunities. If it is difficult to fit into your current schedule, explore ways to carve out time to totally focus on the things you want to check out. It could mean using a day a week of your vacation time for a few weeks, or a day every other week, or even one full day to get started. Decide ahead of time what you will do with this time that will provide information you need about future possibilities.

Fourth, as you are looking at these options, look for people to build relationships with in these new organizations or groups. Even if you don’t ultimately go in some of the directions you are checking out, you may find people to connect with in various ways.

Fifth, create a plan for leaving your files, records and workplace in a condition that you will be proud of. This can apply to anything you consider unfinished in your current position. List the major components and then make a general timeline. Start chipping away by making a list of tasks divided by an estimated time each will take: 10 minutes, 15 minutes, an hour, etc. Start doing them as you have snippets and blocks of time on a weekly basis. Post that list where you see it continually and will be reminded that you can indeed achieve your overall goal a bit at a time.

Here’s a free worksheet based on the steps above. You will be able to download and print it directly from this link.  WORKSHEET for Clearing Out Blocks

Apple Cider – Fall’s Delicious, Variable, Healthy Beverage!

cider & spices

Warm Apple Cider a favorite fall beverage for many of us. The natural apple flavor is often seasoned with cinnamon, cloves and other fall-type seasonings to make a cozy treat.

First, let’s answer this question: What is the difference between apple cider and apple juice? Basically, apple cider is unfiltered and contains some pulp or sediment, leaving it appear cloudy rather than clear. It also has a shelf life of 7-10 days. Beyond that, it begins to ferment and eventually would become hard cider. Outside the United States and Canada, cider generally refers to that alcoholic beverage.

Health Benefits of Cider

In addition to the taste, apple cider also can be very good for you. Apples themselves are an excellent source of antioxidants, plus have important nutrients like fiber that your body needs. They are good for battling heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. The spices like cinnamon and cloves provide additional benefits, from more antioxidants to being anti-inflammatory and helping with your heart health.

Here are some variations of the traditional apple cider, with added ingredients that you can adjust according to your taste. You can use dry/powdered spices or other forms like cinnamon sticks, star anise, sliced fresh ginger, whole or grated nutmeg, whole cloves, etc. Part of the fun is experimenting with the flavors!

Cranberry Apple Cider

Cranberries are a great addition for color, taste and nutritional benefit. Add them as you warm the cider, either as whole or sliced fruit, along with your choice of spices. For another flavor variety, add cranberry juice with the balance between the two according to your taste.

Spiced Apple Cider

To make your apple cider spicier, you can add turmeric in addition to the traditional spices (cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, ginger). Slices of orange will add sweetness.

Dessert Apple Cider

You can also make more of a dessert apple cider by going with the same basic ingredients, but adding some brown sugar, caramel sauce, and vanilla extract to the mix. A spritz of whipped cream can be added to the top.

Creamy Hot Cider

Here’s a twist on cider: Heat your cider with the seasonings you choose (cinnamon, cloves, pumpkin or apple pie spice, etc.) Add caramel syrup to taste – about 1 tablespoon per cup – and 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream per cup. Pour into your blender and blend until it’s all combined. Enjoy with whipped cream topping if you choose.

Apple Cider Syrup

A simple apple cider syrup can bring those great flavors into your breakfast over pancakes, waffles and more.

Combine ¾ cup apple cider with ½ cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of butter, ½ teaspoons lemon juice, and 1/8 teaspoon each of cinnamon and nutmeg in a saucepan.
After bringing it to a boil, simmer uncovered on low heat until it is slightly thickened – about 25 minutes. NOTE: Cool for at least ½ hour before serving and refrigerate any unused portions.

During fall and winter, warm beverages really hit the spot. Apple cider can be enjoyed in these and other variations throughout this time of year. There are also “spiked” versions to explore if you wish!

Fall Spices: Tasty and Good For Us Too!

Tea & Spices

Fall and certain spices just seem to go together – we use cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves in many favorite fall drinks and foods. But they offer more than great flavor – they have health benefits as well.

Spices have been used for centuries; in recent years we are rediscovering their health/healing aspects in addition to the taste enhancements.

Here are some ways to use cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves and the health benefits they each offer.

Cinnamon

Who doesn’t love some cinnamon? Cinnamon is probably one of the more popular spices, often combined with sweet flavors for a nice treat. During the fall, it is frequently used to top lattes, made into cookies like gingerbread or snickerdoodle, and is a frequent spice to use in baked goods with pumpkin, nutmeg, and other fall flavors. Its health benefits include protecting your heart and helping to prevent diabetes. Cinnamon has a lot of antioxidants, which is always important for general wellness, and can help to reduce inflammation in the body.

Nutmeg

Nutmeg has a taste similar to cinnamon, so there is a lot of versatility when using it. It has been linked to various health benefits, including improving your cognitive function, helping to provide natural pain relief, and reducing indigestion. Some people have also noted its ability to help with insomnia.

Ginger

Ginger can be used as the actual ginger root, which you can shave or grind yourself, or you can get ground ginger to make it a little easier. Ginger is often used for cooking -add it to your Chinese food for a little spice, or add it to soup or chili. You can also make ginger tea, which is amazing for nausea and digestion. Aside from helping with your digestive system, ginger is also great for pain and loss of appetite.

Cloves

Cloves can be found in many forms, from ground cloves in the spice section of your grocery store, to using clove oil. Cloves are also anti-inflammatory, similar to cinnamon, so they help with conditions like arthritis. Ground cloves are good in many baked items. Clove oil also works as a natural antiseptic and can even provide mild numbing. Many people use clove oil on a toothache.

FALL TEAS TO USE AS NATURAL REMEDIES –  These spices can make some unique fall teas. Here are three; use your creativity to come up with more.

Fall Fruity Spice Tea

Start with any flavor tea you like, though white and black teas are ideal for this variety. Then combine the brewed tea with your flavors, like cranberry juice, apple juice, and maybe a bit of lemon or orange juice. Add to that your fall spices like cinnamon, clove, and pumpkin pie spice. Mix it all together into a delicious fall tea.

Simple Pumpkin Spice Tea

For a cup of tea that tastes even more like a pumpkin spice latte, start with a spiced tea like rooiobos, then add pumpkin pie spice, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. You can also add some vanilla extract and maple syrup if you want to add in more sweetness to it. When you’re done blending your tea, you can choose to add something to make it creamy, like heavy whipping cream, along with a cinnamon stick at the very end.

Spiced Chai Tea

Chai tea naturally has all those spices you have grown to love during this time of year, and you can give it a boost by adding some of your own flavors. Get chai tea bags, brew, and then add a little extra spice, such as cinnamon and some nutmeg on top. If you like a sweeter chai tea, a bit of maple syrup or a little sugar can also be added into your spiced chai tea.

With these teas, you are getting the fall spices you crave and also the health benefits associated with the many fall spices along with the tea leaves themselves.

If you are interested in more on spices and health, check out this book.  “For each of the ten spices you’ll learn the spice’s medical and therapeutic benefits, side effects to watch out for, easy recipes for making the most of flavor and health and additional uses of spices for everything from baths to mouthwashes to insect repellent. You can have your health and eat well too!”  http://carolbrusegar.com/Ten Spices for Health and Longevity

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