Keep Calm and Drink Tea

I confess, I love tea. I love the flavor, the aroma, and the total experience of brewing and drinking tea. This probably started when I was the very active little girl of a late-in-life mother, whose mission it was to turn her youngest daughter into a “proper young lady.” As a special treat she would prepare a tea party for just the two of us and whatever dolls and stuffed animals cared to join in. I specifically remember her explaining the attributes of the fine china teacups, which I was only permitted to use on these supervised occasions. She would hold the delicate teacup up to the light so I could see the faint shadow of her fingers through the china, and then explain how “a lady” would hold the cup, take a sip, use her napkin, etc. This must be how my love for tea began.

Now, I appreciate tea for all its health benefits as well. There is something very civilizing about brewing and indulging in a cup of tea. Over tea confidences are shared, problems are solved, friendships are solidified, and nerves are calmed. All of these side effects of tea may help to reduce the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol has been known to increase appetite and lead to fat storage. Elevated cortisol levels have been linked to many diseases, so controlling stress by stopping to enjoy a cup of tea during your busy day may benefit your health by reducing both appetite and tension.

Drinking tea (green tea, black tea, and oolong tea) has been shown to increase the fat burning process up to 17% and caloric expenditure by 4%. Studies in animals and humans have even shown that drinking tea may reduce the risk of accumulating belly fat. That’s one great reason to choose tea over other beverages!

In contrast, alcohol is loaded with 7 liquid calories/gram. Beer contains a similar number of calories as sugary soft drinks. Red wine contains twice that amount! If you want to reduce your midsection, then reduce or skip the alcoholic beverages.

Unsweetened tea, hot or iced, is a healthier thirst quencher than carbonated soft drinks. It’s easy to drink a large amount of empty liquid calories without even realizing it when you consume soda, and diet sodas are no better for you. These chemical cocktails are hard on your stomach lining, tooth enamel and bones, and  have even been shown to CAUSE weight gain. The bubbles in soda also release gas in your stomach leading to embarrassing GI noises when you least expect them.

Fruit juices and energy drinks may seem like healthy alternatives, but these are loaded with concentrated sugar making it easy to drink excess calories on top of everything else you consume. Eating whole fruit is a much better choice than drinking fruit juice. Whole fruit contains the fiber, water, vitamins, and minerals your body needs without the caloric overload leading to weight gain. Try sipping fruit infused tea instead — it’s and excellent way to enjoy the flavor of fruit without all those unnecessary calories.

If you are caffeine sensitive, then opt for teas with low or no caffeine. Flavored herbal teas contain little or no caffeine, and are a relaxing evening beverage. Chamomile tea is one herbal tea well-known for its calming effect on the mind and body. Always try to find an organic tea. If you garden, you can make tea from your own organic herbs. I have made excellent peppermint, spearmint, and lavender teas from my own backyard plants. Tea made from herbs picked right from your garden tastes so fresh, and it’s free!

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So, the next time you’re looking for a little something to drink, keep calm and drink tea. It’s an ancient beverage with modern health benefits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Philosophy

   Recently I have been browsing through some other vegetarian blogs, and I must say that my vegetarian philosophy (and cooking philosophy, in general) differs quite a bit from some of the sites I have seen. When I see a vegan blog full of recipes for fat and sugar laden desserts I just have to ask “WHY?”

   First of all, I am  vegetarian for health reasons. I believe that everything we put into our mouths should contribute to our overall health in some way. I try to eat as naturally as possible. If I question an ingredient I ask myself, “Did Adam and Eve have this available in the garden?” “Is it of animal origin?” “Is it healthy?” When I ponder these points I can usually come up with a suitable replacement for any ingredient in a recipe.

   Secondly, I believe that a recipe should be easy to prepare, easy to duplicate, reliable, and need only a minimal list of ingredients. Some of the recipes I’ve seen look enticing, but realistically, how many of us have an entire afternoon to devote to preparing supper? A good recipe should be ready to eat in an hour or less. The goal here is to EAT, right? — not just to putz around in the kitchen. I am not against using pesto or roasted red peppers that come in a jar or from the farmers market. Don’t labor over the little things .

   I also believe that if you have a favorite traditional family recipe then you SHOULD try to duplicate it in a healthy way. Your family will thank you for making the effort, and they will more easily transition into the vegetarian lifestyle you are trying to promote. What I am saying here is, “Don’t let tofu be the first vegetarian dish you serve to your carnivore relatives.”

   In other words: Keep it simple, keep it easy, serve whatever you make with love and genuine concern for the health of those who will eat what you make.