Category: Cleansing

herbal tea, healthy beverage

Top 5 Classic & Exotic Herbal Teas

Need a pick-me-up? Turn the kettle on and reach for your favourite teacup. Tea is much better for you than sodas, juices and cream or sugar-loaded coffee. A hot cup of herbal tea can wake you in the morning and relax you in the evening.

Herbal tea comes with a wide range health benefits. They are a great source of vitamins and minerals, can soothe an upset stomach and insomnia and can put a troubled mind at ease. A steaming cup of herbal tea can help to relieve nausea, bloating and an array of common ailments.

Herbal tea doesn’t come from a specific plant but is rather an infusion of leaves, seeds, roots or bark that are extracted in hot water. Consuming herbal teas means were are receiving the benefits of plants in digestible form.

To ensure that you are reaping the full benefits of your tea of choice, be sure to follow the steeping directions. Sometimes steeping for 10 to 15 minutes is required to bring out all the healthful properties. Also note the temperature indicated on the tea box – with some green teas, the water should be cooler than boiling temperature.

While there are many different types of herbal tea, these are some of our favourites.

yerba mate herbal tea | healthy

1.Yerba Maté 

This traditional South American tea is brewed from the leaves of a flowering tree and is known as nature’s original energy tonic. Nutritious and energizing, it contains nearly twice the amount of antioxidants compared to green tea. It’s also rich in B vitamins and minerals that help to combat stress.

This tea is traditionally consumed in a mate gourd with a bombilla straw. Look for organic yerba mate for a smooth, clean flavour.

herbal tea, healthy beverage

2.Ginger and Lemon

Known for strengthening your immunity, ginger and lemon tea is one of the best teas you can have. It’s been used for thousands of years to help treat colds, nausea, arthritis, migraines and hypertension. Ginger is now is one of the most popular dietary condiments in the world (Surh et al. 1999).

Organic Green Tea | Healthy Living | Zebra Organics


3.Green Tea

If you aren’t drinking green tea yet, it’s time to start now. Packed with antioxidants that help protect against cell damage, research has established that green tea features cancer-fighting, happiness-boosting and brain-saving properties. Having a cup first thing in the morning will enhance mental alertness. Green tea can be enjoyed in many ways, from matcha green tea lattes, to tea bags, or class loose-leaf versions. Green tea is most beneficial if it is steeped at a warm, not boiling, temperature.

Douglas Fir Spring Tip Tea by Juniper Ridge | Zebra Organics


4.Douglas Fir Spring Tip

Delight your senses with flavours of bright citrus, herbal mid-tones and earthly base accents. Harvested from the Douglas Fir tree native to the mountains of the Pacific Northwest of the United States, this tree is second in size to the two California Sequoia species and grows to enormous proportions. It’s important to ensure that you are purchasing a sustainable product when it comes to Douglas Fir Spring Tip tea. Try this tea by Juniper Ridge. It is a dedicated steward of the wild lands where they ethically and sustainably source the raw ingredients that go into this tea and all their products.

We supports companies that seek to build a harmonious relationship with the land, as well as creating economically viable environmentally friendly organizations.

White Sage and Wild Mint Tea, Juniper Ridge | Zebra Organics


5.White Sage and Wild mint

Suffering from stress? This tea will help put you back into the right frame of mind. This is a cozy, complex tea that tastes as good as it smells – its scent is calming and reminiscent of winter. Its top notes are refreshing mint, herbal mid-tones and resinous base accents. Harvested from the Mojave dessert in California and Nevada, the longer you steep this tea, the more earthy tones will be uncovered.

Juniper Ridge has gone above and beyond to create tea that captures the heart and spirit of nature. Juniper Ridge products are truly unique, sourced from remote areas of the west coast of the United States. These are relatively untouched environments where plants thrive and are places we may never get to visit but we can at least experience their exquisite scents.

Sprouted beans, Healthy Nutritional Food

Don’t Doubt the Sprouts

Sprouted Foods – Are they actually healthier?

Have you started to notice sprouted foods in grocery stores? Sprouted trail mix, pasta, nuts, seeds, bread – they are popping up everywhere. Are they actually more nutritious than non-sprouted plant foods? We’ve done the digging to find out the basics.

What is Sprouted?

When you think of sprouts, alfalfa and bean sprouts may be the first that come to mind but these are just the tip of the iceberg. Every sprouted food is a type of seed. Picture sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and flax seeds – but that’s not all. Chickpeas, green peas and split peas are seeds as well. Some grains, including lentils, are known as a “pulse” which means they are harvested for their seeds. These can also be sprouted, as well as some legumes, quinoa, oats and nuts.

Sprouted Foods, Healthy Food, Nutritional Food


How Sprouting Works

Sprouting is the process of bringing a seed to life. You are most likely familiar with how seeds work. They consist of the raw materials that grow into a new plant when temperature and moisture conditions are ideal. Sprouted foods are essentially seeds that have begun to grow but aren’t baby plants yet. If a food is sprouted, it’s still very much living and growing.

Once a seed sprouts, the nutritious properties of the seed are released so the baby plant has more energy to grow. The theory behind eating sprouted foods is that those nutrients are more available to us as well, and they are easier to digest.

The sprouting process involves soaking the seeds, nuts or grains in water and rinsing them repeatedly until they begin to grow a tail-like feature. This mimics Mother Nature’s process of turning a seed into a plant. For most seeds, nuts, grains and legumes the sprouting method is more or less the same; it’s just the time that varies.


The Benefits


Enhanced nutritional value

The biggest benefit of sprouted foods is their enhanced nutritional value, as we mentioned above. Studies show sprouted cereal grains are higher in amino acids and B vitamins and contain less starch.


Improved digestion

Sprouted foods improve digestion. The raw materials in the food that become available when it’s sprouted come in enzyme form. Enzymes are crucial to digestion, as they are responsible for breaking down the food and increasing the absorption of nutrients. They would be a good choice for someone with a sensitive gut.


Enhanced natural flavours

Sprouting often enhances natural flavours without compromising nutritional value. We recommend Living Intentions for their sprouted seeds and trail mixes. Sky Island Organics offers a great selection of sprouted trail mixes and nuts, including walnuts, cashews, pecans, almonds, pistachios and brazil nuts. View their selection.


Scientific research

Promising scientific research exists about the benefits of sprouted foods. A study by the International Plant Grower’s Association outlines the benefits of eating sprouted foods and their anticancer properties. The Whole Grains Council lists additional benefits.


Sprouting at home

Sprouting is not difficult, but there is a risk of bacterial contaminiation. There are some great online resources for sprouting foods at home. Seeds should be purchased from a certified supplier and the seeds and container should be sterilized before sprouting.

Lacking Energy? Try Herbal Tonics

Herbal Tonics are a form of preventative medicine. Tonics are a class of herbs that strengthen the body by supporting its natural defences and promoting stamina. Nourishing and health building, Herbal Tonics build wellness over time and promote your most vibrant state of being.

Based on the idea of building health and not just curing illness and disease, Herbal Tonics support overall well-being and vitality, while encouraging healthy aging. According to Medicinal Herbalists, the bitter taste of Tonics stimulate enzyme production by the liver. Enzymes assist us with absorbing food and offer us more nutrients to help us fight infection.

There are many different types of herbal tonics on the market today. Tonics promoting energy, immunity, and joy are among those you may come across.

Energy Tonics often consist of a blend of the most commonly used adaptogenic herbs to protect your body from the draining effects of stress. Benefits include:

  • Boost energy
  • Support athletic performance
  • Push back fatigue
  • Promotes mental alertness
  • Help maintain emotional balance while under stress

Immunity Tonics are a blend of immune-toning herbs and medicinal mushrooms.  They help to restore your immune system to a healthy, balanced state. Daily use will help build and maintain radiant health. Benefits include:

  • Promote overall wellness
  • Prime immune function
  • Support a healthy, balanced allergic response
  • Tone & build Chi
  • Support body’s natural defences
Source: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Source:
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Joy Tonics are a combination of aromatic herbs and flowers that help you through life with fluency and ease. Joy Tonics minimise tension in our nervous system, internal organs, and blood vessels. Benefits include:

  • Promote joyful spirit
  • Enliven the heart
  • Lessen occasional sleeplessness
  • Relieve occasional stress
  • Ease tension in the body
  • Calm during times of grief, transition, loss

Adding a drop of Joy Tonic into sparkling water will help to volatilize the aromatics in the blend, and dilute the taste of the alcohol.

Visit our store to view our range of Certified Organic Herbal Tonics by Urban Moonshine. Zebra Organics supports Urban Moonshine’s mission to reignite interest in and restore the use of Herbal Tonics in modern times. Take Herbal Tonics daily on a regular basis for best results. We encourage you to embrace tonics as a part of a regular regime to build radiant health. To learn more about the Energy Tonics, watch this video by Urban Moonshine:

5 Tips for Natural Skin Care

The skin is our largest organ and it’s important to care for it. Who doesn’t want a radiant complexion? When it comes to skin care, take the same approach as you would for your diet. The products you apply to your body are like edible treats for the skin. Fresh, natural, minimally processed ingredients will have a better impact on your body than processed, unnatural products.

What we apply to our skin is absorbed by the body and when we use products that contain harmful artificial ingredients, the body and immune system is burdened unnecessarily by a detoxification processes. Some chemicals remain in the body for many months or sometimes years before they are completely removed. Here are 5 things you need to know about natural skin care.

 

1. Simple is best

If a product contains a super long ingredient list, chances are it only contains small amounts of each ingredient. Even if they have great properties, minuscule amounts won’t work as well as larger quantities. When it comes to choosing a product, the fewer ingredients, the better.

 

2. Look for natural products

Ingredients in natural and organic products are pure, as they originate from nature. This means there’s a reduced risk of your skin reacting negatively and suffering from skin irritations or allergies.

Natural or organic products are significantly less, or completely free of, potentially toxic ingredients that may harm you or the environment. They do not contain artificial colours and fragrances, and their colour and aroma originates from natural sources such as coconut oil, mango, lemon or mandarin oils.

Unfortunately the USDA does not regulate the terms ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ when it comes to skin care. If a product is associated with these terms, study the ingredient list. Is this list long? Are natural ingredients that you recognise at the start of the list? The David Suzuki Foundation has a great list of 12 chemicals linked to health and environmental concerns, from cancer and reproductive disorders, to asthma and severe allergies. Check the ingredient list and be sure to avoid products that contain these ingredients.

Our recommendation: Sea Chi Organics‘ team of herbalists and aromatherapists handcraft  skin care products using organic raw materials. They offer a ton of botanical products, from body oils and washes, to peppermint shampoo. Soignée Botanicals is another great all-natural brand.

 

3. Explore the values of the skin care company

A skincare company’s philosophy and values can help guide you towards healthy skin care products. Check out their website: is it committed to reducing environmental impact? Does it test on animals?

Juniper Ridge is a great example of a company that utilises sustainable harvesting practices to wildcraft their products. They’re also the only US company to donate 10% of their profits to wilderness conservation groups each year.

Image_Juniper Natural

4. Say No to Fragrance

According to a study by Environmental Defence Canada 17 brand name fragrances (some of them big names that you’ll recognise) were found to contain sensitising chemicals that can trigger allergic reactions. Canadian and American fragrance manufacturers don’t have to test their personal care products for safety. The report says;

“People using perfume, cologne, body spray and other scented cosmetics, such as lotion and aftershave, are unknowingly exposed to chemicals that may increase their risk for certain health problems.”

The reports notes that fragrance is considered among the top 5 allergens in North America and European countries and is linked to an array of skin, eye and respiratory reactions. Be mindful of the health effects products that list ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ on ingredients labels can pose.
Here’s a great video that features Dr. Anne Steinemann of the University of Washington, discussing toxic chemicals that are released by laundry products, air fresheners, cleaners, lotions and other fragranced consumer products.

5. Follow a healthy lifestyle

A good diet and exercise regimen will support healthy, glowing skin. Eat a balanced diet that’s abundant in fresh, nutritious foods drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is a great way to help flush toxins out of the body.

More and more of us are starting to catch onto the benefits of organic products. According to Transparency Market Research the global organic personal care products market is growing at 9.3% between 2014-2020. It’s market value in the United States is expected to almost double from 2013 to 2020.

DIY natural skin care treatments

You can’t go past making your own skin care treatments to know exactly what’s in them. Coconut Oil has been shown to be great for the skin.You can rub it on your skin as a moisturiser to prevent dryness. Check out our blog post Health Benefits of Coconut Oil. Honey mixed with coconut oil make for a good facial cleanser that’s easily spreadable and helps unclog pores. Rinse with warm water.

Keep these tips in mind to care for your skin and care for your body.

Health Lessons From International Cuisines – China

This is our second post of a series that shares some of the most beneficial and interesting elements of food cultures from different countries around the world. Learn health lessons from international cuisines to enrich your health and wellbeing.  For this post our focus is China.

 

Use chopsticks

Much like the Japanese, Chinese traditionally eat with chopsticks, which can help slow down eating speed. The benefits of this have been observed in a study by The American Journal of Clinic Nutrition. Research on eating rates demonstrated that those eating faster ate more than those eating slower and that “up to three and a half hours after the meal, there was no difference in hunger between those eating speedy or slow.”

If you’re looking to cut calories without being hungry, eating slower may help. This may assist those seeking to maintain a healthy weight and this is crucial to reducing risk of cancer, given that obesity and overweight are linked to the increased risk of various cancers. A Japanese study also supports this; revealing that people that eat faster increase the likelihood for cardiovascular disease.

Using chopsticks is only one way to slow down your eating. Other strategies include chewing slower and conversing between bites.

 

Use garlic in cooking

Rich in allicin, garlic is a common ingredient in Chinese cuisine and is also used for medicinal purposes. Allicin contains antibacterial and antioxidant properties and can assist in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels and preventing blood clots.

 

Drink Green Tea 

Rich in antioxidants, green tea is a common Chinese beverage that counteracts cell damage as you age. More powerful than vitamins C and E, catechins in green tea are capable of halting oxidative damage to cells.

According to a study of over 40,000 Japanese adults, participants that drank more than five cups of green tea per day reduced their risk of death from a heart attack or stroke by 26 per cent and lowered their risk of death from all causes by 16 per cent, compared to people who drank less than one cup of green tea per day. Clinical trails revealed that green tea substantially lowered LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Green tea is high in flavanoids, which are essentially plant-derived compounds that are antioxidants. Zebra Organics offers yerba mate, a tea that originates from Argentina, which contains nearly twice that amount of antioxidants than green tea.

Harvard Medical School advises on drinking three cups of green tea per day and allowing it to steep for three to five minutes. Drinking freshly brewed tea brings out its catechins and and other flavonoids. Bottled teas will contain less of these beneficial compounds.

 

Minimize Cooking of Vegetables

Traditional Chinese cooking practises include deep-frying foods, which tend to be high in calories. Many restaurants and chefs prepare fried foods using artificial oils that contain trans fats. Nutrients are heat sensitive and the longer you cook food, the more that will be destroyed by heat. Cooking on high heat for a short time or low heat for a longer amount of time can help preserve the nutrients in vegetables. Lighter cooking alternatives to deep-frying include steaming and stir-frying.

 

Avoid MSG

MSG is a common ingredient in cooking in villages in northern and southern China and it has been linked to numerous negative health effects, including headaches and numbness in certain people.

Flavour enhancer and food additive Monosodium Glutamate may increase likelihood of becoming overweight, according to a 2008 study in the journal Obesity. Although the research lacks a clear cause and effect, lead author Dr. Ka He told the New York Times that the question is whether it is healthy. He explains, “MSG is not toxic” and “this study is a warning that we should be cautious.”

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy learning about how the Japanese culture can enrich your health and wellbeing.

Health Lessons From International Cuisines – Japan

What is it about the Japanese or Indian diet that keeps obesity rates under five per cent? Why do some cultures excel in longevity? Learn Health Lessons From International Cuisines to enrich your health and wellbeing.

This is our first post of a series that shares some of the most beneficial and interesting elements of food cultures from different countries around the world. This post’s focus is Japan.

The Japanese have cultivated a rich, diverse food culture during the course of its long history. Encompassing not only seasonal ingredients and various cooking techniques, Japan’s food culture comprises of tableware and furnishings, architecture and an aesthetic and spiritual nature that’s encapsulated by the tea ceremony.

The core of Japanese cuisine

The cultivation and consumption of rice has been a long-running tradition in Japanese food culture for more than 2,000 years. Today rice served with seasonal vegetables, tofu and fish remains at the core of native Japanese cuisine.

Japanese take great pride in their seafood, as an island nation and serve up an array dishes with of fish, squid, octopus, eel and shellfish. Japan’s higher fish consumption compared to that of western countries is arguably a major contributing factor to the country’s low rate of heart disease.

While fish is a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, be mindful that fish such as tuna, king mackerel and swordfish consist of the heavy metal mercury, which can cause nervous system damage. Fish consumption is a controversial issue, with bluefin tuna being driven close to extinction.

While milk is not typically a part of the Japanese diet, calcium is sourced from animal bones that flavour soup.

Multi-course dinners are a tradition in Japan. Foods such as sliced raw fish, soup, grilled food and salad-like foods are served first, followed by miso soup, rice, sweets and fruit. Tea concludes the meal.

Although you may think multi-course dinners mean more food, this is not necessarily the case. Portion sizes are small and this style of dinner draws out the meal time, giving your stomach more time to alert your brain that it is full.

Small portion sizes

As is done in most of Asia, the Japanese eat using chopsticks rather than a fork or spoon. Taking smaller bites when using chopsticks, promotes digestion. The Japanese also serve their meals on multiple small plates, to keep flavours isolated. This often results in reduced portions and helps control calorie intake.

The Japanese follow a philosophy called hara hachi bunme, which involves stopping eating when you are 80 per cent full.

“Eight parts of a full stomach sustain the man; the other two sustain the doctor” – Yasutani

Emphasis on food’s appearance 

The Japanese have a reputation for creating visually appealing dishes. They serve up works of art; small, colourful visually appealing portions that tend to consist of an array of vibrant vegetables. Enhancing the appearance of foods creates a greater sense of appreciation. This may inspire you to consider everything you put in your mouth as a source of nourishment for your body.

Use of seasonal ingredients

Japan have long celebrated seasonality with rice planting and harvest festivals. The Japanese even have a word to describe seasonal food at its peak, shun. Bamboo shoots are commonly used for cooking in spring, while eggplant in summer and chestnuts in fall. Anticipating seasonal ingredients enhances the excitement of the upcoming season. Eating seasonally is a trend that is growing in the United States. For more information on which ingredients are season, see this info graphic.

The growing trend of the importance of a healthy diet spurred a Japanese food boom overseas and led to the growth of Japanese restaurants in major cities around the world that serve sushi and tempura.