Trying out two winter tonics

tonic_lede[I] like the word “tonic.” It has a reality-based sense of comfort and a tinge of humor for the extent it’s been applied to things that aren’t necessarily…good for you. What it seems to connote most, for me, is something you can make to heal yourself. Whether it’s a hair oil or a skin treatment or a warming winter drink, a tonic should be a thing that helps, heals, improves, soothes.

yogaJI found a range of recipes for sip-able winter tonics in the February issue of Yoga Journal, and since a couple of them looked easy — with just a few ingredients and not a lot of expended time — and tasty, I, ever on the hunt for a balm to aid my ails, decided to give them a try.

Those who know me know of my love of coffee, but in the winter, I like to expand my hot -drink repertoire into teas and other beverages. These two tonics seemed to be right up my alley (and be an ally) for the cold winter days.

tumer01The first tonic I tried, “Golden Lemon Drop Honey,” combined lemon juice and peel, ground turmeric, fresh ginger, honey and rosemary! Heavens, what a sensory motherlode! Everything here was meant to heal (actually, this tonic is said to relieve stress), and we hear more and more all the time about the benefits of turmeric, called the wonder spice that has been said to provide help in all sorts of health conditions for its anti-inflammatory abilities.

stove01The ginger, lemon peel, turmeric and water are brought to a boil; then the lemon juice, honey, and — if you have it — lemon balm extract are added. The concoction is strained into a cup and garnished with rosemary and lemon peel.

This is an intense tonic. I found just a mere 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric to be very potent in its dusky bitterness. So, for my own tastes, I added more hot water, and in addition, some stevia sweetener to round out the sweetness of the honey. It was a soothing brew (I truly felt my insides calming down)…the lemon, ginger and rosemary (as well as the turmeric, probably) seemed to open up my sinuses, which had been dried out and abused from a few months of indoor

Golden Lemon Drop With Honey
Adapted from Yoga Journal (
Makes 1 to 2 servings

Juice and peel of one large lemon
2 cups water
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated or chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons honey
2 drops food-grade lemon-balm extract (also called Melissa)
Stevia, to taste
1 spring rosemary

In a small saucepan over high heat, cook the lemon peel, ginger, turmeric and water until the water just begins to boil, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice, honey, lemon-balm extract and stevia (if desired), and then strain into a large mug or two smaller mugs, reserving lemon peel. Garnish with pieces of lemon peel and rosemary.

[D]ark, cold winter months often equal periodic sluggishness for me (like, at least a period each day due to the fact that I rise and fall so early). So, how could I resist a tonic called “Cherry Lime Energy Buzz”?

limeGreen tea and thyme are steeped in hot water, then tart cherry juice (also good for inflammation and achy muscles), lime juice and stevia or honey are added. Garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme.

The green tea, having the dual benefits of caffeine buzz and antioxidant healthfulness, lends a nice almost minty base to the additions of the fruity cherry juice and refreshing lime. The thyme, of course, has aromatic properties, but is also said to bolster the immune system. The drink is a nice option on winter afternoons for those of us who need the caffeine, but can do without the hysteria caused by reaching for more than a couple of cups of coffee.cherry01

Cherry Lime Energy Buzz
Adapted from Yoga Journal (
Makes 1 or 2 servings

1 teaspoon thyme leaves
2 green tea bags
1/2 cup unsweetened tart cherry or cranberry juice
Juice of 1/2 lime, plus 1 or 2 slices of lime for garnish
1 teaspoon stevia powder or 2 teaspoons honey
1 spring thyme for garnish

In a small saucepan over hight heat, cook thyme leaves and water until water just begins to boil, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and add tea bags; steep for 4 minutes. Add cherry or cranberry juice, lime juice and stevia or honey, then transfer into a mug or mugs. Garnish with lime and a thyme spring, if desired.

I’ve got more tonics in my future, I’m sure. They are fun and easy to make, playing with flavors and ingredients we are not always considering, but probably should. And helping ourselves along the way.

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