It started with feelings of irritability and shakiness, but it took me months to realise it was the caffeine in my many daily cups of milky tea. Already a non-coffee drinker, I loved my ‘normal’ black tea and very reluctantly switched to packaged herbal teas.
Then it struck me—if I already had herbs in my garden and knew exactly what I sprayed on them and fertilised them with, and that they were fresh, free, with no wasted packaging, why not use them?
A few leaves of a range of herbs can be brewed or steeped to make a beautiful cup of tea.
While I had always kept a pot of lemon balm for the occasional herbal tea, this year I discovered some gorgeous new tastes. I now drink basil tea, oregano tea, rosemary tea and mint tea. So far, bay leaf tea has been my favourite.
Juicing and blending
It can be messy getting out the juicer and cleaning up, but if you struggle to eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables you may benefit from juicing them, and it’s a fun way to add new tastes to your diet.
Many people swear by the health benefits of juicing because it extracts the phytonutrients from the fruit and vegies, but the jury is still out on this and there are some potential drawbacks. Juicing reduces the fibre you are consuming, and you need to remember to be mindful of the sugar content—it’s easy to overlook.
It’s also worth considering blending instead of juicing. Blending edible parts of fruits gives you a drink that contains more phytonutrients and fibre—and fibre can help you feel full!
In both cases, it’s important to not make more than you can drink within a reasonable timeframe, because fresh juice can quickly develop bacteria.
These can both be expensive exercises if you don’t grow your own, too, especially if you decide to buy organic. Again, I’m lucky enough to have access to an orange and apple tree and I grow some carrots, beetroot and celery in the garden most years.
If you are lucky enough to have an established garden, why not share your excess, or invite your neighbours, workmates or fellow school parents to a juicing morning?
Many communities have community gardens, or produce- sharing days at community centres. Discounted food share markets attached to many churches and community centres sometimes have fruit that is very ripe and can be juiced, or you can just ask around on the grapevine at work, church, school or community centre.
For herbs, a small tray of herb seedlings or two shared with friends and potted on a verandah can go a long way. All these things add a social and community aspect which is a positive in itself.
Have the teas and juicing been a miracle in terms of health? No, but I do feel lighter, brighter, happier and more energised. I feel a sense of satisfaction as I walk around the garden in the cool of the morning, watching fruit and vegies form and ripen. And, as when I bake, there is a joy in making things at home. It is somehow good for the soul as well as the body.
It’s been a bit less bad stuff and some more good things in my diet. That means a bit more energy—and that means more exercise, and a bit lighter mood. It also means a bit more time in the garden and less time on things like social media.
It all flows on—so to speak—if you seriously begin to drink your garden.