For this week's Wonderful Weekend Recipe, I thought I'd continue the honey-based electuary theme from last week. My imaginary monks will be pleased!
A delicious Ayurvedic recipe for long life
Ayurveda, which originates from India, is thought to be the oldest system of medicine in the world, dating back 5000 years ago or more. In fact it's even more than that: the word Ayurveda means "science of life" in Sanskrit and represents a complete system of healthful living, encompassing everything from diet and nutrition, herbs, massage and detoxification to the mind, emotions, activity, rest, sleep and how to live according to the seasons. Pretty much every aspect of life is covered in some way, and the key to it all is the concept of the three 'doshas': Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Everyone is governed by these three aspects - which represent the elements of fire, earth, water air and aether - to different degrees. Most people have one particular dosha that is predominant in their inbuilt constitution, and once one understands which dosha they are, they can start to live their life in a manner that will allow health, happiness and contentment to flow. If you'd like to know what dosha you are, there's a great quiz at www.doshaguru.com (registration required).
But this isn't the place for a lengthy discourse on Ayurveda. All you need to know for this recipe is that this Ayurvedic electuary will have numerous health benefits regardless of your dosha. So, with the context firmly in place, on with the recipe!
Get a daily health boost with the Longevity Electuary
Grab a 250 mL (8 oz) jar, and add the following:
Finally, cover the mixture almost to the top of the jar with locally produced honey. Stir slowly, to avoid a cloud of herb powder covering your kitchen, until the herbs are well mixed into the honey, put the lid on, label and store. And that's it! No need to refrigerate as honey is an excellent preservative. The Longevity Electuary is meant as a daily health tonic, eaten directly from the spoon, on toast, dissolved in hot milk, almond milk, coconut milk or ghee - however you like, really!
A host of powerful ingredients
Ashwagandha, shatavari and Siberian ginseng are known as adaptogens, which help the body to resist stress of all sorts: a good brief definition is that adaptogens are non-toxic, produce a non-specific defensive response to stress and have a normalising influence on the body. In my opinion, we all need adaptogens in our lives, and the Longevity Electuary is a delicious way to do it!
Slippery elm and marshmallow aid digestion and soothe the gastrointestinal tract, as well as being highly nutritious.
Elderberry is an excellent immune remedy, being rich in vitamin C and a powerful internal cleanser for conditions like flus and colds.
Turmeric has a wide spectrum of useful properties, including boosting the liver's detoxification pathways and aiding digestion. One of its active constituents, curcumin, is a current hot property in cancer research.
And while not a herb, spirulina - a single-celled, blue-green algae - is highly nutritious and has a host of health-promoting properties of its own. The same, if not more, can be said about the green algae chlorella.
The only potential problem with this amazing recipe might be getting hold of the Ayurvedic ingredients ashwagandha and shatavari. The first place to try is your local independent health food store or herbalist if they also sell dried herbs; or failing that, have a look online. Another alternative is to replace these Ayurvedic herbs with a homegrown adaptogen that will be easier to obtain, such as licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra).
Simple to make, with health benefits for everyone, the Longevity Electuary is one to treasure. Let me know how you get on if you decide to make some!
Ah, blogging. It's been a while – how have I missed thee? Just give me a moment to brush the inch or so of dust from my barely used writing table...there, that's better. Now, what's the best way to ease myself back into the habit, I wonder?
How about a new regular feature, the Wonderful Weekend Recipe? You can call it WWR for short if you like. It won't mind. Since the title is fairly self-explanatory, let's just dive right on into the first-ever WWR without further ado.
The Wild Rose Electuary for soothing sore throats
'Electuary' must be one of my favourite words in the English language. For some reason, it evokes for me an image of peaceful cloisters in late spring, with golden beams of sunlight regularly picking out the figures of monks talking quietly below. In reality, however, an electuary is a sweet herbal preparation, usually based on honey. And probably used by monks throughout the ages.
Because of honey's nourishing, building and warming qualities, electuaries are ideally suited to tonic formulations, such as the Longevity Electuary I'll introduce you to next week. Since honey is also very sticky and soothing, it's also an excellent base for herbal mixtures intended to soothe the throat – which is where the Wild Rose Electuary comes in.
The recipe couldn't be simpler:
2 parts marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) root powder
1 part sage (Salvia officinalis) aerial parts powder
½ part rose (Rosa damascena) petals, as close to powder as you can get
Get yourself some locally grown honey so that you're supporting your friendly neighbourhood beekeepers. Gently heat it until it turns molten, add your herbs and stir everything in until it's all mixed together nicely. How much honey you use will determine the eventual consistency of your electuary: more honey equals runnier electuary, less honey means a stiffer end product. You'll need to have an empty glass jar handy to pour the molten mixture into.
And that's it! This stuff is so tasty that you can eat it straight from the spoon, but it can also be made into a drink by melting in warm water. The Wild Rose Electuary is a wonderful throat soother, thanks to the combination of mucilagenous (gelatinous, soothing) marshmallow, antimicrobial sage and cooling rose. Why not make some up for the next time someone in your household comes down with a cold? Kids will, of course, love it for its sweetness. Just don't leave them alone with an open jar and a spoon...
Instant genius kit
A little anecdote to round things off. At my wedding a few years ago, one of the guests came down with a sore throat and was not happy. For some reason – either my wife or I must have had a cold recently, I guess – we had a jar of this electuary with us, and we gave him a spoonful or two. Within ten minutes, he was feeling so much better that he called me "an actual genius".
So there you have it: become an instant genius with the Wild Rose Electuary!
An irregular blog
I'm Adam Smith, a Herbalist and Naturopath practising in the Surrey/West Sussex/Kent border area. Although I hope it will change, I don't currently post here regularly.