Sumac – Meet the Tangy Antioxidant

Sumac – Meet the Tangy Antioxidant

Namaste spice soul, so good to connect here. As I work to complete my Spice Deck and get it ready for publishing soon, I am immersed in the spices in a way that is energized with some serious magic. A mystical event is not really surprising when engaging with the spice medicines and yet it is always thrilling. A few days before, after I had finalized work on the Sumac Spice Card, I went for an evening walk with my beloved and we decided to take a different route than usual around the neighbourhood. I had an electric feeling in my body and I was thinking about Sumac. 

After having poured through images of various types of Sumac that day, I felt a kinship with the tree and wondered when I would get to see one. I felt I had seen one before but had not introduced myself properly, if you know what I mean. Well, as we turned a corner just five blocks from our home in Vancouver BC, there it was, hard to see and barely lit on the new moon night. Even before I saw the flower-berries, I knew it was a Sumac just by the distinctive leaves. I experienced a slight bristle touching the furry berry-flowers that grow in almost conical shapes called drupes. The thought of a hairy berry doesn’t appeal, but of course the hairs are rubbed off before grinding the dried berries into a powdered spice. I reverently snapped off a drupe noting that the tree was adorned with plenty. Although this variety is mostly found in the Eastern part of North America, my find seems closest to Staghorn Sumac which feature velvety stems and pinkish-burgundy fluffy berries. Native to the Mediterranean and the Middle East, Sumacs are now found worldwide with multiple species in the Rhus genus within the Anacardiaceae family, which interestingly include cashews, mangos, and pistachios. 

Messages from the natural world are not to be ignored and I consulted with the Sumac Spice Oracle Card to see what it was I needed to hear from this encounter. I will for sure be including this tangy spice in my food and beverage elixirs until the next new moon at least.        

 

 

This sour and astringent berry is proven to have one of the highest antioxidant levels amongst all spices and fruits, even more than the deliciously nutritious and trending açai berry – made popular in smoothies and smoothie bowls.  Antioxidants of course bring a host of anti-cancer, immune-boosting benefits, as well as being a blood cleanser, and all round heart tonic. The Sumac tree is also called the Lemonade or Vinegar Tree, and Sumac-ade is a well-loved drink made from the berries or the dried ground spice, it has the bright tart, refreshing effect that cools the Pitta fire and lightens Kapha heaviness as well as being a gentle digestive tonic. 

SUMAC AS A SPICE-MEDICINE FOR THE LATE SUMMER SEASON:

SUMAC-ADE

A refreshing lemonade-like drink that is tart and sweet (with the addition of honey or maple syrup) and especially during a heatwave helps to cool the body and refresh the overheated, irritable Pitta mind. 

YOU WILL NEED: 3 heaped TBSP of ground Sumac spice, 3 cups filtered water, 1-3 TBSP honey (sweeten to taste)

METHOD: Pour room-temperature filtered water over sumac in a large mason jar. Cover and steep overnight (8-12 hours). Strain through a fine strainer or cheesecloth/filter. Add the honey to taste (you may add honey to 1/8 cup hot water first to dissolve, and then add. Add a slice of lime and a couple cubes of ice. Enjoy!

ZA’ATAR

THIS incredible salty, tart, pungent, slightly sweet, savoury spice blend has adorned Middle Eastern dishes for centuries and is so easy to make and add to your daily aromanutrition. Full of nourishing rewards for your health, you can sprinkle lavishly on homemade pitta bread with olive oil, in salads, with yoghurt dips, on fruit, grilled veggies, the possibilities are endless – Za’atar goes with just about everything. The secret is the Sumac, and with the other herbaceous ingredients and a base of sesame seeds and salt, you get many essential vitamins and minerals in every serving. Make a nice big batch and keep for up to 3 months in a well-sealed jar. As we get ready for late Summer/early Fall, this calcium-rich blend is balancing to all body types when used as a condiment. Enjoy the Spice Mistress version of the classic Za’atar.    

YOU WILL NEED: 3 TBSP ground sumac, 3 TBSP dried oregano, 1 TBSP roughly-ground cumin seed, 4 TBSP sesame seeds, 1 TBSP Dried thyme, 1 tsp rock/sea salt.

METHOD: Blend all spices, herbs and salt together, keep in airtight mason jar in a cool place.

 

VERY excitingly my 52 card Spice Deck and gorgeous companion booklet with Ayurvedic wisdom and kitchen medicine, is releasing on Kickstarter on September 20th on the Full Harvest Moon. How auspicious is that! I know many have been waiting for a long time for this and I have too : ) So much has happened to delay this beauty being born out into the world, but all good things are worth waiting for… stay tuned!

In the meantime acquire some real sumac spice (watch out for dyed imposters!) and get to know this magic bold spice – you have nothing to fear.

Fragrant Blessings.
Spice Mistress, Glynnis xo

Swooning Birds of Paradise

Swooning Birds of Paradise

Bird of Paradise

Happy Valentines Day my love.

Yes, indeed this Day of Love was created and is ritualized worldwide. Even though I believe every day to be a day of LOVE how can we not engage as lovers and beloveds everywhere ceremoniously declare their love on this day.

You may not be surprised that the spices come to mind when talking of amore. Swoon-worthy aromatics have been used throughout history and in the mystical realms of myth and magic to seduce, excite, and adore. Today on this auspicious day of love allow me to entice you with a spice that according to legend has Birds of Paradise swooning to the ground. The musky and intoxicating smell is so overpowering that these magnificent birds fall blissfully from the tree. This actually may have more to do with the narcotic properties when the birds nibble on the fruits of these psychotropic gems.

NUTMEG and MACE! This duo of sensual spices is created in a lovers embrace in the womb of the fruit on the branch of the Myristica fragrans tree. Entwined in a duet of aromatic intimacy, the two-spices-in-one make a most formidable psychoactive, aphrodisiac, dream-enhancing duo. The mace sensually embracing the nutmeg with it’s exquisite red lace, as one they emerge from their succulent temple.

As for love and matters of the heart…

The twelfth century mystic Hildegard von Bingen said of this mystical spice (and includes a recipe I am most definitely going to make)

“When a human being eats nutmeg it opens her heart, and her sense is pure, and it puts her in a good state of mind. Take nutmeg and (in the same amount) cinnamon and some cloves and grind them up. And then, from this powder and some water, make flour–and roll out some little tarts. Eat these often and it will lower the bitterness of your heart and your mind and open your heart and your numbed senses. It will make your spirit happy, purify and cleanse your mind, lower all bad fluids in you, give your blood a good tonic, and make you strong”.

Oooooooooh I cannot wait to get home and make this. After a beautiful weekend of teaching and sharing and communing at the Victoria Yoga Conference. I am certainly filled up with love and now the nutmeg/mace calls me. Of course so do the arms of my beloved after being apart for 5 days!

Happy Valentines Day! Enjoy our gift to you of the MACE Spice Deck Card below. Grate a little nutmeg and mace (if you can find this rare gem of a spice) into your food today and be sure to have a soft place to swoon onto.

With Fragrant Blessings of LOVE,
Glynn and Mel
xox

This Bark Has a Sweet Bite

This Bark Has a Sweet Bite

HAPPY SPICY NEW YEAR GORGEOUS SOUL!
A most auspicious sprinkling of sweet blessings in this 2017 year!

I could not resist sharing this particular Spice Deck Card on day one of the new year. I suspect you may have a Sankalpa (sacred intention) to further raise your consciousness around what you put into your amazing body temple this year.

CINNAMON! Definitely cinnamon. Not only do I put this enchanting spice in most of my warm beverages but the other day the lid of my cinnamon shaker plopped off into my Chai along with about 4 heaping TBSP’s of cinnamon. Whoops. Oh don’t think I did not skim off the top and proceed to enjoy an intensely cinnamon-laden chai. Usually I wouldn’t have so much at one time but it was DELICIOUS and I had not even added any honey yet. Sweet enough!

I call Cinnamon the SWEET STABILIZER because it has clinical data to show this healing spice as a stabilizer of blood sugar. In a 2003 article published in the journal Diabetes Care, a 40 day study shows improvement in Type 2 Diabetes subjects fasting blood sugar levels, as well as their lipid (blood fat) levels with up to 6g cassia daily (4g is about 1 tsp). In other studies authors concluded that cinnamon is effective at improving glucose control. There is as always controversy in scientific circles around the nature of these studies regarding the type of cinnamon used and the dosage.

From an Ayurvedic perspective though it seems clear.

Cinnamon is often used in ayurvedic herbal preparations to enhance the bio-availability of other herbs. With sweet, pungent and astringent tastes it pacifies Kapha, clearing congestion from the lungs and channels of the body. For Vata it is warming and sweet, assisting digestion and boosting the immune system. Cinnamon is also used in Ayurveda to regulate blood sugar. A daily dose of 1 tsp along with other conscious eating routines contributes to the overall health of the 7 tissue layers of the body producing a vibrant OJAS or immunity.

1 tsp daily? Not hard to do. Add cinnamon to your breakfast oats, afternoon pick-me-up tonic, and evening meal.

As a restorative aphrodisiac and a spice known to “activate the light of intuition” I’m all in! 

Oh yay to these gorgeous spices. Take a read of the cinnamon card below and bring the “sensual intrigue of this lingering scent to places where all manner of fragrant dreams reside”. 

 

Fragrant New Year Blessings,
Glynn (Spice Mistress) and Mel (Cinnamon Girl!)
XOX

The Spice Deck Queen – a Smooth Operator

The Spice Deck Queen – a Smooth Operator

spice-deck_cardamommc

 

In the incredible deck of aromatic spices we bring you the Queen!

Cardamom has been called the Queen of Spices as it elegantly and powerfully rules relief in the digestive system. It is an aromatic jewel in the crown of spices due to its warming sweet fragrance which not only dispels bad breath but also works as one of the safest, most effective digestive stimulants.  Cardamom has the qualities and energetics to stimulate blood flow and remove sticky Kapha congestion from the digestive and respiratory tract. This pungent spice works to relieve bloating, gas, distention, and to calm the gut.

I call this royal spice ‘Smooth Operator’ for its ease and gentleness when dealing with unpleasant gastro-intestinal discomfort. It also claims that name as an exotic and very sensual aphrodisiac with an allure so great that it is mentioned several times in the legendary tales of 1001 Arabian Nights. These are the tales that saved the life of Shahrazad, whose husband, the king, executed each of his wives after a single night of marriage. Beginning an enchanting story each evening, Shahrazad always withheld the ending: A thousand and one nights later, her life was spared forever and she became queen. Perhaps the magical cardamom, just like the titillating never-ending stories of the royal wife, can offer longevity and pleasure to yours.

Being an avid fan of this glorious spice I have it daily in my chai. I will add a few pods into my rice while cooking. I crush the little black seeds into my soups, beans, chutneys, and warm almond milk with turmeric and also sip as a super effective digestive tea/tonic.

Enjoy your Ayurvedic Spice Wisdom Cardamom Card from the Spice Deck and be inspired to invite this enticing spice into your kitchen apothecary… you might even take out 1001 Nights from the library and luxuriate in the mystical tales whilst sipping on a cardamom-imbued chai.

spice-deck_cardamomf

With aromatic love and fragrant blessings,
Glynn and Mel
xox

Stellar Dispeller! The star of the spice world.

Stellar Dispeller! The star of the spice world.

Excited to bring you another card in the SPICE WISDOM DECK with just the essentials and all you need to know when getting to befriend this most gorgeous of spices.

spice-deckstaranisespice-deck2staranise8 Petalled Star

staraniseflowertoseedStar Anise is an absolute fave spice of mine in and out of the kitchen. SO many incredible benefits and of course the beauty of it all. The perfect star has 8 ‘petals’ or carpals and is splayed in an exquisite floral star-like pattern. I have fallen in love with both its stark beauty and intriguing complex flavour. 

Once you bring this aromatic spice into your life you will use it often as it has so many incredible benefits to compliment its unique and sweetly alluring scent. Start by making this chai,  a warm and sweetly spicy libation just in time for the gorgeous Fall season. A must try! I have this almost daily in the cooler months as an uplifting tonic.

Chai-Elixir

Enjoy and stay tuned for more cards in the Spice Wisdom Deck!

Love and Starry Fragrant Blessings,

Glynn and Mel
xoxo