Something's Brewing

Baby, it's cold outside!

If you dwell in a climate of seasons,

you've most likely had a blast of dark, damp, chill shake you right out of a strangely warm Autumn,

propelling you headlong though frigid winds,

and dropping you down into full-on Winter.

Hard.

"What is this? We didn't have this in Babylon."

"What is this? We didn't have this in Babylon."

Snow?

It's beautiful.

But after the first delirious rush of fairytale scenes, it draws our attention inward, to an awareness that we are now susceptible to the lowered resistance that comes with a change in season. It's time to suit up into our armor, mount our steeds, and defend the castle walls which house our souls.

To fortify your gorgeous cells, and strengthen you from the inside out, 

I've concocted an immune-revving potion that will have your cauldron bubbling over with warmth, witchy wellness, and all good things...

The secret ingredient? Mushrooms! The two most powerful medicinal healing mushrooms on Earth, reishi and chaga, join forces here to defeat those horrid, Orc-y germs trying to destroy your good health. Lovely, ancient spices are then added with a touch of creamy sweetness, for a comforting, cold weather delight.

Winter's Brew

For 1-2 servings:

  • 2 C unsweetened organic coconut milk
  • 3 pieces reishi
  • 2 pieces chaga
  • 6 star anise
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 9 cloves
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into 3 pieces
  • 2 Tbsp coconut nectar
  • pinch of cayenne

***Note: you can purchase the chaga and reishi dried in the herb section (usually) of your local health food store. They can order it if it isn't on the shelves. Or, you can buy it online through Amazon, just check your source. If you can't find them dried, powders or tincture will work well also. Try health rockstar David Wolfe's site, or shop with the undisputed King of Mycellium, Paul Stamets.  

Here we go, Beloved Ones...

Take three deep breaths, light your kitchen altar candle, and whisper your prayers of strength, fortitude, resilience. Pour the coconut milk into a saucepan. With intention, lay the reishi in first, then nestle the chaga in between. Thank them for their superior qualities, and for finding their way to you at exactly the right time. 

Start a very low fire beneath the pan. Begin to expand your wishes with the help of the spices. Remember to visualize and feel each intention, and always thank your plant friends.

Arrange the ginger in amongst the mushrooms, for a little help in communicating with spirit.

Now gently, and with purpose, sprinkle the cinnamon in. That's for love. The kind you give yourself when you take good care of the body, and the kind you radiate outward into the world as a result.

The star anise are next. Set them in the brew like the gorgeous little creatures they are. More love.

Toss in those yummy little cloves next. They're here right now to protect you. 

The brew should be getting warm now.

Remove the mushrooms, as they can be quite bitter if steeped too long, and keep warming the rest gently. How to you feel? Is your spell cast? Wonderful. Remove the pan from the heat. Add a pinch of cayenne for even more protective energy, then swirl in the coconut nectar. The coconut, by the way, is effective for inner purification if visualized well. And it's sweet. 

"Ahh, now,  potions  I understand..."

"Ahh, now, potions I understand..."

Now, my Loves, sip this deeply. Besides the magick within, there's serious plant medicine here. You can certainly prepare a lighter version, sans milk and sweetener, but it won't be as enjoyable. This is meant to fill you, body and spirit, so enjoy it.

I'll leave you know, Beasties, 

with love and light,

xxx Alise

Rockstar Ingredients: Turmeric

Such a stunningly beautiful spice.

I want to paint my walls to match.

Tantalizing turmeric appears often in these pages,

as you know, Ravishing Ones.

Why?

Because I'm obsessed with the magic of plants. And wellness. And life.

And it is my dearest wish to share it all with you.

As with most rockstar ingredients, turmeric is having her moment in the lights,

center stage and all the rage, but, of course, she has been around for ages, healing and preventing, and generally spicing up people's lives.

Known for centuries as an Ayurvedic healing root, turmeric is valued medicinally for two things: first, the volatile oil, which contains a stunning anti-inflammatory. Second, for the actual pigment, curcumin, which has an even more intense anti-inflammatory: the power of hydrocortizone or Motrin, but without the hideous side effects (such as ulcer formation, intestinal bleeding, and diminished white blood count.)  Curcumin simply has no toxicity.

Among its most astounding properties, is the ability to not only prevent cancer cells, but also inhibit their growth. This is major.

Oh, yeah, and she also dramatically increases the antioxidant capacity in the body, improves brain function, lowers heart disease, can prevent and treat alzheimer's, helps arthritis, and is proven as effective as Prozac in beating depression. Without putting s**t in your system. 

Here's the (spice) rub: The actual curcumin content in ground or fresh turmeric is not all that high. You'd have to ingest crazy amounts of it daily to combat the really bad stuff. For acute conditions, or heavy duty prevention, you should be taking a turmeric extract. But for general awesome health and feeling good, add the spice everywhere you can: to curries, shake elixirs, veggies, grains...actually pairing turmeric with cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, etc.) profoundly increases the ability to fight cancers.

Turmeric also needs a little help to be absorbed onto the body, so it's a good idea to always pair it with black pepper, and, as it is fat soluble, a little oil is a smart addition. Depending on the recipe, you could add some coconut oil for cooking or baking, olive oil on top, or a nut milk in a brew.

Speaking of, try this gorgeous ancient potion, Vixen-style:

Golden Elixir

  • 2 Cups unsweetened almond milk, or coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp ground organic turmeric
  • 1 tsp organic cinnamon
  • Nutmeg, pinch
  • Cloves, pinch
  • Black pepper, 2-3 grinds
  • 1 tsp coconut oil (optional)
  • Organic stevia or raw coconut nectar

Heat the nut milk on a slow flame, whisking in the spices until they are smooth. When it's hot, add the sweetener to taste.

It's delicious in a weird way. You'll dig how it feels going down. 

(Keep stirring it as you sip. The spices tend to hide on the bottom of the cup.)

Turmeric is also beautifying from the outside. Further solidifying its rockstar status, skin benefits include the treatment of acne blemishes, blackheads, dark spots, hyperpigmentation and other skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. It also helps heal and prevent dry skin, and to slow the skin aging process, and is used to diminish wrinkles, keep skin supple, and improve skin’s elasticity.

Interestingly, this gorgeous sunny spice is also being used as an ingredient in sunscreens. And our East Indian sisters rely on it as a daily facial cleanser and exfoliant.

Magically-speaking, turmeric has long been burned for purification. In India, it is burned to detect the presence of dark spirits or daemons. (They are said to detest the smell.)

I'm hooked.

Get on this, and try my Pumpkin Peau de Soie Facial Masque...you'll groove on the results!

Sultry Beasties, I'm off to make some Golden Elixir,

and enjoy a little down time.

Sending you cozy nuzzles,

and sweet kisses,

xxx Alise





Cucina Essentials

Darlings.

You asked for it...

What do you keep on hand to whip up sexy, healthy feasts at a moment's notice? What should be lounging in your cupboards at all times to keep you on track? Starting up is expensive, so where do you begin? What seasonings will give you the most bang for your hard-earned cash? How about a "basics" shopping list?

You got it.

May I present...How To Stock Your Kitchen, Vixen-style:

Clockwise from top left: Garam masala, curry, cinnamon, vanilla powder, turmeric, Celtic salt, cumin seeds, red pepper flakes.

Clockwise from top left: Garam masala, curry, cinnamon, vanilla powder, turmeric, Celtic salt, cumin seeds, red pepper flakes.

Spices:

  • Vanilla
  • Cinnamon
  • Garam Masala
  • Turmeric
  • Cayenne
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Cumin
  • Curry blend
  • High quality salts

I know. It seems like a lot at once, but you can gather things as you go along. I like to buy small amounts  of high quality organic spices in bulk, then transfer them to pretty jars or tins that I find at flea markets,  or in odd places I happen upon. Keep them out, where you can see them and be inspired by their colors and scents. Many of you have told me that you would like to be more experimental with flavors, but find it all a bit daunting. This, Loves, is where you begin your culinary magic. All your gorgeous spices are out where you can begin to connect with them. The entire cast of magical performers I've listed above just naturally work together. They layer beautifully, spicy and sweet...always a pinch of salt at the end to bring it all center stage. The next time you have a basic vegetable dish, listen. See what they have to say. See what calls to you. Then, all of a sudden...a pinch here, a dash there...and you're concocting! It's wonderful and creative. And I know you're super-talented at it. 

The same idea applies to fresh herbs. If you can grow them year round, bravo! I can't, so I like to pick up a few bunches every week. See what organics look good. I usually gravitate toward mint, sage, cilantro, and parsley, and then buy a specific herb, like rosemary, for a particular dish I may have in mind. I actually prefer a dried oregano to fresh, believe it or not.  NOT the commercial kind, mind you, but for some reason the oregano I find in my health food store in the large jars is just sublime.

Listen to me, Babes, you really cannot make mistakes here. If a flavor is too dense, balance with its' opposite. Try things. Experiment with whole seeds and ground, fresh and dried, exotic and common.

Trust your senses...

Clockwise from left: black quinoa, oat groats, quinoa linguine, gluten free oats, cacao powder, raw pumpkin seeds.

Clockwise from left: black quinoa, oat groats, quinoa linguine, gluten free oats, cacao powder, raw pumpkin seeds.

Pantry staples:

Here's where the real go-to goodies live. The hearty heart and soul of your pantry. The grains, seeds, and nutritional yeast can be found in the organic bulk section of your health food store for pennies, while the nuts can also be found there, and purchased more  sparingly. (Keep in mind most main dishes require only one cup of grains, so you really can stock up.) The oilve oil and cacao will last, the cider vinegar is inexpensive, and the coconut oil can be used for absolutely everything.

I'm getting hungry.

Clockwise from left: Dinosaur kale, cucumber, zucchini, avocados, oranges, bananas, apples, grapefruit, lemon,garlic, baby kale, radishes, almond milk.

Clockwise from left: Dinosaur kale, cucumber, zucchini, avocados, oranges, bananas, apples, grapefruit, lemon,garlic, baby kale, radishes, almond milk.

Fresh:

  • Fruit (citrus and banana always, others in season)
  • Salad/snack veggies (radishes, cucumbers, celery)
  • Avocados
  • Almond/coconut milk
  • Garlic

Here's where the fun is. Prowling your local markets for the freshest, most dazzlingly gorgeous produce around on any particular day. Bright colors beckon. Choose freely, like a child drawn to the prettiest flower in the garden. And relax. You've got everything you need back home to write the purrfect music to accompany this poetry...

And last, but never least,

I always keep some of these beauties around...

Left to right: Frozen organic blackberries, strawberries, blueberries.

Left to right: Frozen organic blackberries, strawberries, blueberries.

Aren't they pretty?!

Frozen fruit is amazing. You can make the most delightful elixirs in minutes...one for your every whim!

The thing is, organic frozen fruits are price-ey. Crazy so. And eating non-organic is simply out of the question. Best bet? First, check around at your bigger supermarkets. You'd be surprised - many of them carry organics, and at decent prices. It goes without saying that supporting smaller shops is the way to go, but in some instances, realistically, you've gotta have options. The good thing about buying from a larger store is that by purchasing organics there, you are telling the big guys that people want them. Now, they restock. And healthy choices are available to more people, many of whom would not have sought them out, but now have an option, and one they can afford. I'm all for healthy, clean food being available everywhere, to everyone, not simply a small group of people in the know. 

The other smart cookie plan is to stock up when all this lusciousness is in season, and freeze different fruits in individual ziploc bags or containers. Keep an eye on sales, and GRAB THEM!

Middle of Winter and you're craving a mango blueberry shake? Easy. You're a Kitchen Witch.


Alright, my Tasty Ones, now you have all the basics needed to indulge your everyday kitchen witchery. This will keep you stocked for breakfast, lunch, snacks...you can whip up shakes, drinks, salads, cooked dishes...all you need now are a few special somethings to bring together a specific recipe, as you like!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to shop.

I'm all out of vanilla, and that will never do...

xxx Alise

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