My Favorite: Teas

Tea is an amazing thing, especially when it starts getting cold outside. I love sipping tea while studying, or watching TV. It’s a completely guilt-free drink with added health benefits that you can especially enjoy throughout the fall/winter seasons. I thought that since it is beginning to get pretty chilly outside, I would share with you my favorite teas and why they are so great.

It took me a while to really appreciate, and enjoy drinking green tea. Green tea is probably one of the best teas that you can drink, because of the beneficial antioxidants and compounds that it contains. It also alkalizes our bodies, which is really important when it comes to our digestion. Our stomachs want to have a pH of 7 (neutral), but certain foods (dairy, meat, sugar, corn, coffee, salt) can cause our pH to drop and become acidic. Drinking green tea can help to regulate our body’s pH. After trying, and hating, many different types of green tea I finally found one that I loved. Bigelow’s Green Tea with Lemon is by far my favorite type of green tea.  The lemon adds a hint of flavor that neutralizes the bitterness of the green tea. It’s the perfect combination!

Chai tea is another one of my favorites, especially during the fall. I love adding a few drops of liquid Stevia to give it a hint of sweetness. My favorite type of chai tea is one that I just recently discovered at Trader Joe’s, it’s their Ruby Red Chai tea. This tea contains all organic warming spices, which are great for digestion, reducing inflammation, and boosting the immune system.

I didn’t think that I would like hibiscus tea, but I surprisingly loved it! I tried this type by BADIA, and it is delicious. It has an interesting flavor, that is sweet yet slightly bitter. I love drinking it when I want something a little sweet, or fruity because it has both flavors that work so great together.

Earl Grey tea was one of the first types of tea I began drinking. It is such a great tea to start out with if you’ve never really drank hot tea before. It has a smooth and comforting taste to it, and it’s great to have with breakfast if you’re not really a coffee drinker. Again, early grey tea has a list of great health benefits such as immune support, oral health, digestion aid, and even stress relief. 

Chamomile tea is one of my favorite kinds of tea to drink right before going to bed, it’s so soothing and comforting it usually helps me fall right to sleep. Bigelow makes a delicious Cozy Chamomile tea that is completely caffeine free and has a smooth and light taste to it, which makes it the perfect pre-bedtime drink, there is a reason it’s called Cozy Chamomile. Not only does it help you go to sleep, but it also helps relieve stress, improve your immune system, and promotes good digestion. 

My Favorite: Spices

A common complaint I hear from people when they begin eating healthier is that the food is “bland” and “flavorless.” Because of all of the artificial flavoring, preservatives, and excess salt that is put in processed foods it has caused society’s tastebuds to be underdeveloped and makes it more difficult for people to appreciate flavor from real sources. That is why I highly encourage seasoning your foods with spices, and using a wide variety of herbs and spices. Building your spice collection is key to enjoying, not only cooking, but eating.

Also, did you know that you can buy spices in bulk? Buying spices in bulk is great if you’re wanting to try out new ones for the first time. You can only buy a little at a time and if you like it you can decide to go buy more. If you hate it, then you didn’t waste your money on a whole bottle of it. Spices that are sold in bulk are usually in containers so you’re able to smell them before purchasing them, which can help you decide whether or not you would use it. Places like Whole Foods, Earth Fare, and local co-op grocery stores usually sell spices in bulk. I definitely recommend buying spices like this if you’re just starting to expand your spice collection or your palette.
Now on to MY top five favorite spices…
1. Cinnamon
There has never been a time where I wasn’t obsessed with cinnamon. Fall time or not, cinnamon should be used all year. It is the perfect spice to put into a warm bowl of oatmeal, sprinkle on top of a sweet potato, apple slices, or a hot cup of coffee. Cinnamon is not only delicious, but it also has a ton of health benefits! Believe it or not cinnamon helps to control blood sugar, as well as control appetite, and it even can lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
2. Ginger
Like cinnamon, ginger is a spice that is typically used during the fall, but should definitely be used throughout the entire year. Ginger and cinnamon go hand in hand, so wherever/whenever you used cinnamon use ginger as well! Just like cinnamon, ginger has plenty of health benefits: immune support, helps with nutrient absorption, reduces inflammation, and improves blood flow.
3. Cumin
Cumin is an incredible spice to use in almost any hearty dish. I love using cumin when I’m making Mexican inspired dishes because it gives a smoky and deep flavor that is so incredible. I throw cumin into chillies, stir fries, stews, soups, guacamole, and tacos. Again, cumin is a spice that has nutritional benefits as well: it’s rich in iron and fiber, aids in digestion, prevents premature aging, reduces toxins in the body, and even helps relieve stress and anxiety.  
4. Turmeric 
I don’t even like to consider turmeric a spice, but rather a form of medicine. Not only is it delicious but it is seriously an incredible health booster. The nutritional benefits that are packed into this spice is unbelievable, so I definitely try to use turmeric in as many dishes as possible.
Turmeric is commonly found in Indian cuisine, so I like to use it when I make curries, or other Indian dishes. It is good in Mexican cuisine too, combining well with chili powder and cumin as well as cayenne pepper. So now that you know how to use it, let me tell you why you need to use it: Turmeric is highly anti-inflammatory, helps reduce oxidation in the body, helps brain function, can lower risk or Alzheimer’s and heart disease, relieve stress, and even help delay aging. 
5. Ground Mustard Seed
I absolutely love using mustard powder when cooking. Any dish I use it in becomes so rich and filled with flavor, I just love it. Of course ground mustard is more flavorful than the condiment so be careful with adding too much! Ground mustard seed is great to use with the other spices I’ve mentioned (cumin and turmeric). It definitely provides a depth of flavor with a hint of spice. And naturally, ground mustard seed is full of nutritional benefits which makes it that much better! Ground mustard seed has some omega-3 fatty acids which are important to have in your diet, it also is an anti-oxidant, and is full of minerals such as iron, magnesium, and calcium. 

Things I Loved In August

August was a pretty eventful month….Natural Chef school ended, I moved into my first apartment, and I began my junior year of college. There were a lot of new things that I experienced this month and I can’t wait to share them with you all!

Cacao Nibs

I had never tried cacao nibs until this past month, and I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to discover them! They are little vegan gluten-free delicious morsels that you can snack on by themselves, throw them into any cookie recipe, trail mix, bowl of cereal, or oatmeal. Cacao nibs are filled with energy and mood boosting compounds, and they even help to raise HDL (“good” cholesterol). If you love dark chocolate, then these are the perfect snack for you!

Continue reading “Things I Loved In August”

My Refrigerator/Freezer Staples

There are several things that I almost always have in my fridge and freezer. It’s important to find your own personal staples so that you are always prepared for when you’re in a rush. Also, by having healthy staples in your house you won’t be tempted by foods that may not be as nutritious.

What’s Almost ALWAYS In My….


Unsweetened almond milk (Silk): Almond milk is a necessity in my opinion. Because I don’t eat dairy, almond milk is my favorite milk alternative. I like to buy the Silk brand because it doesn’t have carrageenan like the other brands (Almond Breeze) do. Carrageenan is a seaweed extract that can cause many digestive problems, so avoiding it is important. I use almond milk in almost everything; oatmeal, poured over frozen fruit, smoothies, and different desserts. Continue reading “My Refrigerator/Freezer Staples”

Things I Loved In July

Rice Cakes:

This month I haven’t been able to get enough rice cakes! They are so delicious, and I love how they only have ONE ingredient: rice! I’ve been getting the Full Circle Organic Rice Cakes (unsalted) and have been either just eating them plain, crumbling them up to put onto of things, or smashing a banana ontop. They are such a good base for just about anything; jam, fruit, hummus, or nut butter.

Asian Food:

At the beginning of the month my mom and I took a trip to the Grand Asian Market in Cary and I fell in love! I had never really enjoyed Asian cuisine, but once I had the “proper” ingredients I’ve really enjoyed incorporating Asian foods into my diet. I’ve been making sushi (without the fish) every so often, and also made a really delicious miso soup. The Grand Asian Market also had a really good selection of teas, so I’ve really been enjoying those as well (especially chamomile green tea).


  Continue reading “Things I Loved In July”