Who Else Feels Life is Getting More and More Surreal?

Who Else Feels Life is Getting More and More Surreal?
surreal
Surreal: “resembling a dream; fantastic and incongruous”

Yes, that’s how I feel these days. Somehow just about everything is different. Is it real?? An 88 year-old friend says she’s never experienced anything like this. And that says a lot.

Whether it’s increased isolation of seniors living alone or in assisted living facilities or nursing homes, or students whose sports and musical competitions are being cancelled, or parents struggling to make arrangements for their children when schools close for periods of time, it hardly seems real.

As with so many things in life, balance is important. Neither listening constantly to media about the outbreak nor ignoring it entirely are advisable. Find and use a trusted source for information and advice. Many advise that our bottom line sources should be the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html) or your state health department. If the media sources you are using don’t refer to those sources, check elsewhere.

Beyond the precautions being recommended, I suggest considering these additional things:

  • Establish some personal and/or household intentions about how you will come through this challenge. They may have to do with accomplishments, relationships among you and with others, future plans or other areas you may
  • Look at ways to make positive use of the restrictions. It is all too easy to slip into fear, anxiety, depression, or a combination of them all because of the changes. How can we use the additional time at home in ways that lift our spirits and other people’s spirits? This includes staying in contact and increasing contact through phone calls, cards, letters, online contact (Face Time, Skype, Facebook, etc.) with others who are feeling isolated and depressed. I think particularly of those older people at home alone or in nursing homes or care facilities.
  • Think of things you and others in your household enjoy doing or want to do at home but never seem to have time for. Reading, watching movies, listening to each others’ favorite music, playing board games and art/crafts are always good. How about setting up some challenges around these or other activities to provide something to work toward? This is a more positive way to think about this rather than just “filling time.”
  • Take on tasks and projects that have been put off over and over. These can become challenges to complete and see as accomplishments during this time. The obvious ones are cleaning out and arranging closets and garages. You may gather things to be given away to others or contributed to organizations helping those in need. It may be rearranging rooms or special cleaning projects. Writing and posting a list of the things you will do from the above suggestions where you can see it and check off accomplishments as well as add new ideas is useful.
  • Journaling during this time can be very helpful. Reflecting on our situation and how we handle it will both record these times for the future and help each of us work through our feelings, challenges and frustrations. Writing is so powerful; take time to do it yourself and encourage others to do the same.
  • Practice Hygge principles. Although Hygge is often connected with surviving winter in cold climates, the principles have to do with creating “a quality of coziness (= feeling warm, comfortable, and safe) that comes from doing simple things such as lighting candles, baking, or spending time at home with your family.” You can read more here: https://carolbrusegar.com/hygge-art-of-coziness/

By focusing on balance, positive use of time at home and reflecting on our experiences, all of us can make the best of a challenging situation. Everything we do to keep ourselves and others positive, hopeful and forward-looking will pay large dividends.

 

Journaling Techniques to Boost Your Creativity

Journal and CoffeeWhatever our situation, stage of life, or needs, creativity is a valuable skill. On a personal level as well as in our jobs and groups and institutions in which we are involved, there’s a continual need for creative approaches and solutions.

Journaling can be a tool to expand creativity. Simply writing has great power to bring ideas, possibilities and breakthroughs. Yet, it is easy to get into a pattern – even a rut – with our journaling by doing it the same way continually. And many people either don’t journal at all or sporadically.

Here are some ways to diversify journalers’ practices that can activate new creativity and perhaps inspire non-journalers to try some of these different approaches.

Drawing

You don’t have to be a graphic designer or an artist to use this technique. Simply pick up a pencil or colored pencils/pens and start drawing. You don’t need to have a specific subject in mind, or you may give yourself a topic or a problem that you want to creatively address.

It isn’t about drawing something perfectly – it doesn’t matter how the drawing looks. What matters is that you’re taking the time to just let your creativity flow. Don’t worry about any “rules” and draw whatever comes to mind. You may be surprised what appears.

Use Mixed Media

Mixed media journaling is basically using different types of content. For part of the journal you’ll jot down your ideas, then you can use pictures, ticket stubs and potentially even drawing to inspire your creativity.

Use the Power of Music  

Have you ever noticed just how much of an impact music can have on your creativity? It can really help to play some uplifting or inspiring music while writing or drawing in your journal.

You’ll find as the music plays, you’ll start to experience numerous emotions. Thoughts will also automatically pop into your head – write these down.

It can also help if you listen to the music through headphones as this will block out all other noises, allowing you to be fully immersed in the music.

Try Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is a fairly new journaling technique which can work wonders for creative people. It’s a visual style journal – you record your ideas in a visual way.

For example, write down the main theme of your idea or topic, draw a big circle around it, then think of other ideas which relate to it. You then connect your sub ideas to the main idea. Allowing your mind to see and expand on connections can open up new vistas of thought.

Brainstorm

Brainstorming is simply rapidly generating a variety of ideas or possible solutions. It is most commonly used in a group setting, but individuals can use it effectively as well.  Simply focus on the topic you are addressing and write down every idea without worrying about how doable or realistic they are.  Just let the ideas flow. Keep writing, even keep your pen moving when you think you are empty. It’s likely more things will rise to the surface.  A second step after all the ideas are on paper is to either do some traditional journaling about some of the most intriguing thoughts.  This could be augmented by mindmapping.

May your creativity and creative problem solving be expanded by using these techniques.

If you want to explore additional creativity ideas, check out:   21 Ways to Skyrocket Your Creativity

21 Ways to Skyrocket Your Creativity ("21 Ways" Book 5) by [Laidig, Tony]

Tips For Reinvention From an Unusual Source

footprints

 

Reinventing or transforming life after age 50 is one of my passions.  I gained a helpful perspective from  an article written by one who has reinvented himself many times to the extreme. Reading about the range of major reinventions this author has made encourages me to think bigger about the possibilities for myself and others.  Jack Barsky has made transformations that very few make – or would want to make. But the principles are interesting.

You may have seen Barsky on 60 Minutes, CNN, Fox, or MSNBC or read his book, Deep Undercover. Barsky was born in Germany, was a chemistry professor for years, was recruited by the KGB, spent 10 years in the United States spying for the Russians during the Cold War, and ended up a United States citizen and information technology executive.

Based on the major shifts as well as a number of fictional characters he became in his travels, Barsky offers 9 Tips for Mastering the Art of Reinvention – behaviors we might adopt as we are reinventing ourselves at any stage of life.

Two that stand out for me are Take a Self Inventory and Work on Your Soft Skills.  Barsky’s recommended Self Inventory is to focus on talents and abilities you have, regardless of whether or not you have ever used them to earn a living. Often we fail to recognize the skills and abilities we have developed and used in volunteer work and other activities. These may be transferable or adaptable to various other settings.

Take 15 minutes or so to write down the things you have done outside your major work experience – side jobs, volunteer work, hobbies. Then list what you did and learned in them. You may be astounded at your list.

Working on Your Soft Skills is a logical next step to the Self Inventory.  Soft skills are defined as “personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.” The list of soft skills can vary; here is a representative one: effective communication skills, teamwork, dependability, adaptability, conflict resolution, flexibility, leadership, problem-solving, research, creativity, work ethic, integrity. We can demonstrate and develop these skills in all aspects of our lives. Take one of these and think of the ways you demonstrate it in work settings, volunteer work, family, friendship circles, etc. This exercise may broaden your perspective of skills you have and want to expand as well as ways to apply them in new ways as you reinvent your life.

Barsky wraps up his nine tips by stating “power is having options.”  This really summarizes his message: “Fulfillment … requires an attitude of life-long learning and a willingness to periodically shed the old skin and step into a new self.”

You can read the entire article here:

9 Tips for Mastering the Art of Reinvention

NOTE: You may find Barsky’s book Deep Uncover interesting. An Amazon review describes it this way: “Equal parts memoir, spycraft guide, and historical document, Deep Undercover perfectly describes the crippling insularity of the spy’s life.”  If you are interested in his book, you can find it here:

Deep Undercover

 

Black Pepper During Flu Season

PepperI previously talked of some natural approaches to prevention and treatment of cold and flu: https://carolbrusegar.com/using-natural-preventatives-and-treatments/

Another preventative and treatment that is right in your cupboard is black pepper!  We think of it as a basic seasoning and perhaps little more, but it is known to have powerful cold-fighting properties. Not only is it great for the immune system, but it’s also known to help with a wide range of other ailments too.

How can black pepper help during flu season?

Regular consumption of black pepper can help to fight off infections and boost the immune system. It contains an especially high amount of Vitamin C – a crucial vitamin in the treatment of colds. Black pepper contains a high level of anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It is these which prove useful in the prevention and treatment of colds and the flu.

Another great benefit of black pepper is that it can help to alleviate congestion. A common symptom of colds and the flu is chest congestion. So, even if it’s too late to use black pepper to prevent a cold, you can still use it to help alleviate the symptoms.

How can you use it?

There are numerous ways you can use this spice to prevent and help to treat a cold. Of course, add more to various foods on an ongoing basis – soups, stews, egg dishes, salads, in rubs on meats, etc.  If you’re already fighting a cold, you could try mixing black pepper with honey. This is especially great for suppressing a cough and it’s been used in Indian medicine for centuries. You’ll need to crush up the peppercorns and mix it with a little honey for maximum benefits.

Another way of using black pepper to combat colds is to add half a teaspoon to a cupful of water. Add in some ground tulsi leaves* and half a teaspoon of chopped ginger. You should aim to drink it at lukewarm temperature. If you’re not keen on the taste, you can add a spoonful of honey.

*Tulsi, also called Holy Basil, is a close relative of culinary basil for cooking. The three varieties of Tulsi do, however, have additional medicinal benefits. These include being anti-inflammatory, high in antioxidants, and ability to stimulate the immune system’s activity. It comes in a variety of forms – leaves, tea, capsules and more. To explore the options, go here: Tulsi Options

Are there any side effects?

In terms of using black pepper in cooking, there aren’t any side effects to be aware of. However, if you’ll be taking black pepper supplements, you’ll want to stick to ones with a strength of 5mg to 20mg. Higher strengths could produce burning sensation in the throat or high absorption of medication. These are the only two potential side effects identified.

What other ailments does black pepper help with?

As well as helping to fight off colds and flu, black pepper can also potentially help with other ailments such as:

  • Arthritis inflammation
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • High blood sugar
  • Poor gut health

The health benefits of black pepper are extensive – and it is one of the cheapest and easiest spices to use!  So in general, to boost your immune system, be generous in your use of pepper in your food and explore additional uses. If you do develop a cold or flu, you can use supplements or more potent black pepper remedies to eliminate the symptoms.

Here’s a selection of pepper, peppercorns and more: Black Pepper

And a Black Pepper Supplement

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!

 

 

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!

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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