Lavender Iced Matcha Latte

 

I grew up attending the Pennsylvania Lavender Festival each June with my grandmother, mother, and aunt. It was a day I so looked forward to - taking workshops on the use of lavender and other herbs + flowers in the kitchen, roaming the fields to pick our own lavender bundles, eating calendula cookies and sipping lavender lemonade, and picnicking on the farm for lunch. It was always the dreamiest summer day, and fills my heart just thinking back on it. My memories of this tradition are marked by my great love and reverence for my late grandmother, Jean, with whom I was incredibly close. 

Today's recipe is very much inspired by my sweet grandmother and our summer days spent on the lavender farm. Each time I prep this recipe, the scent of the lavender brings me back to these happy, sunny summer days spent alongside a woman I so admired and tried to emulate. It's wild how powerfully our sense of smell is linked to memory! To this day, I cannot smell fresh lavender without lovingly thinking of her. My grandmother was also an avid tea drinker, and living with her for a number of my childhood years was where I first picked up the habit to reach for tea over coffee in the morning. Though we certainly weren't drinking matcha together, this recipe is an ode to her legacy.

Aside from this very personal fondness for lavender, it remains one of my favorite flavors to use in the kitchen for its subtly sweet floral notes. It's undeniably summery. And also a potent mood booster. Lavender essential oil is revered for it's ability to promote calm, reduce anxiety, alleviate depression, and elevate mood via transdermal and nasal passageways. Ingesting lavender has the same positive, medicinal effect on the brain and body. 

This recipe actually infuses the milk with lavender, which is then combined with the matcha to create a latte. You could of course do this with coffee, or any variety of tea you prefer. I've also been in the habit of sipping warmed lavender milk in the evening as it's own calming, brain-nourishing tonic. 

A note of choosing a variety of matcha: Quality is of the upmost importance. There's a million and one brands selling matcha now, but many are super poor quality (depriving you of matcha's many benefits) and contain fillers and sugars. Ick. Keep in mind, matcha is expensive to harvest, so a quality product should and will cost you much more than your average green tea. Look for ceremonial grade, with matcha as the only ingredient. I am religious about using PANATEA (not sponsored, they truly are just the best).


LAVENDER ICED MATCHA LATTES

1-2 teaspoons organic dried culinary lavender
1 teaspoon ceremonial grade matcha powder
2 cups unsweetened plant milk
4 oz. hot water

PREPARATION: Using a mortar and pestle (or the flat side of a chef knife), gently press down on the lavender to release their aromatic oils. 

In a small saucepan, bring your milk to a simmer. Remove from heat, add in the lavender, and cover. Allow to steep for at least 10 minutes before straining lavender from the milk. 

Add your matcha to a small bowl and, using a bamboo matcha whisk, repeatedly press down on the matcha to break up the powder. Add in about 4 oz. hot water (not boiling) and whisk the mixture together. Pour matcha over ice and top with lavender milk. Alternatively, you could also combine your matcha, hot water, and milk into a blender, blending on high for about 30 seconds.

Makes 1-2 servings. 


I love seeing what you create and getting your feedback on recipes! Leave any questions + comments below, and be sure to follow along on Instagram and tag photos you post of my recipes with #SOLFULhealth so I can see! xx

 

Spring Herb Tea Infusion (and a SOLFUL announcement)

 

Come spring and summer, when fresh herbs abound, I get really into crafting my own infusions. Surely this can be achieved year round by sourcing quality dried herbs, but when fresh is available, I feel the life force of the living herb translates to a more nutritious infusion. I've been picking up bundles of lemon balmstinging nettle, and garden mint each week to infuse into mineral-rich teas, and thought I'd share my simple process with some background on my herbs of choice. 

But before I do that, I have a bit of an announcement.


The Solful Health Journal has been a love project of mine, many years in the making, and is truly one of the most enjoyable parts of my work. But as many of you know, the Journal is just one of three moving parts that make up Solful Health - the others being my work as a yoga teacher + my private practice as a nutritionist. Though passionate about each of these areas of my work, most days I felt spread extremely thin, ungrounded from having to constantly switch hats, and very much like a "jack of all trades and master of none". A typical day involved rushing from teaching yoga to meeting with clients, back to the yoga studio and then home to test recipes, prepare for the next day's client meetings, manage whatever commissioned writing/event projects I had going on, and hopefully fitting in a Journal post somewhere in between. Whew.

My health, which I fought so hard to rebuild from the ground up, was suffering as a result (because duh I was acting like a boundary-less maniac), as were my personal relationships to others and to myself. At the beginning of this new year, I felt strongly that I needed to make a shift in my career, though I was entirely idealess on what this would actually look like. Because I know we are all constantly trying to "figure it all out", whatever that means, I felt called to share my process with all of you, having come out the other side. 

Knowing something had to change, yet still feeling deeply resistant to letting go of any piece of Solful Health, I turned it over to the Universe (as I always do with any big decisions) and committed myself to a daily Kundalini meditation practice designed for greater clarity + expand self-worth (as suggested by my teacher, Desiree of Benshen). I also started paying really close attention to how I felt while engaging with each of these aspects of my work. How we feel is a direct indication of whether or not we are on the right path. When we are doing work we love + feel called to do, it has an energy-expanding effect. Feeling drained is often an indication that we're a bit misaligned.

What I found shortly after committing to this new awareness, was that I don't love being a nutritionist. Yikes. I was truthfully surprised by this revelation, as my nutrition practice has always been my main point of focus. It's also always been my main stream of income. But since making the decision to let this part of my business go, it has become so clear how much this commitment to something I didn't actually want to be doing (but felt I "should" be doing) was weighing me down and holding me back from true success and happiness. 

I've chosen to lovingly let go of my nutritional coaching practice in order to focus my energy more fully on what fuels me: leading truly exceptional yoga classes + experiences and expanding myself as a writer and recipe-developer. Though I'm no longer working in the field directly, my nutrition background will serve to inform each of the recipes + lifestyle pieces found here on the Journal.

To my readers, I am so thrilled to share this next chapter in my journey with all of you, and cannot wait to reveal what I have in store for this space. And to my yoga students (past, present, and future), expect some incredible events - both locally and globally - as I expand my offerings in this realm. The Solful Health site has been reworked to reflect these changes and new offerings, and will continue to be updated with more events + happenings. It has been an absolute joy + privilege getting to know so many of you, and your support means everything. Thank you for allowing my dreams to become a reality. 


SPRING HERB TEA INFUSION

LEMON BALM | Deeply calming and nervous-system soothing, promotes restful sleep, preserves + protects brain cells, improves memory, supports the liver, and supplies the body + brain with a potent medley of antioxidants.

STINGING NETTLE | Relieves allergies, improves kidney function, nourishes hair and skin, reduces pain, and contains antibacterial + anti-inflammatory properties.

GARDEN MINT | Stimulates + improves digestion, relieves naseau + headaches, clears congestion, elevates mood + energy, improves cognitive function, promotes oral health, and relieves allergies. 

TO MAKE: Bring a pot of filtered spring water to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat, add in a handful or two of your fresh herbs, and cover. Allow to sit for 20-30 minutes. Be sure to keep covered, as the oils (the most medicinal part of the plant) will escape if left uncovered. You can choose to strain the leaves before enjoying. Keep stored in your refrigerator for up to a week.  

 

Almond Butter + Maca Smoothie

Keeping it short and sweet today with a simple smoothie recipe. With spring in full beautiful bountiful bloom and summer so so close, I feel like it's finally socially acceptable for me to start spamming your feeds with smoothies again. Right?

This simple little blend has been my afternoon sweet treat for the last week, fueling my brain and body through long days at the computer, in the studio, and in the kitchen. Aside from tasting like a straight up milkshake, it works wonders on the endocrine system, helping to restore hormonal balance and elevate mood + energy. It also contains a hefty dose of protein and fat to keep focused and feeling full.

Maca - which I discuss a bit more at length here - was the first adaptogenic herb I began using regularly about four years ago, and it totally transformed my skin, energy, and hormonal health. It's one of my favorites still today and I recommend it to many of my female friends + clients for support in these realms. I do find that the quality of maca varies widely among different distributors, so I'm super careful about where I source mine. Moon Juice has been my go-to for years. 

In this blend, I use a frozen banana, but I know this ingredient is a bit controversial these days. I am planning to share a full post with my take on this trend + shift very soon, but for now just know you can substitute the banana for half an avocado and two pitted medjool dates if you feel called to do so. I tend to switch between the two options. I also use a Yemenite spice blend called hawaj because it's super dreamy and flavorful, but this can be substituted for a few dusts of ground cinnamon and/or cardamom. 


ALMOND BUTTER + MACA SMOOTHIE

  • 1 frozen banana OR half an avocado + 2 pitted medjool dates
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened almond butter
  • 1-2 tsp maca powder
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsweetened nut or seed milk
  • 1-2 scoops protein powder of choice - my favorite (which actually includes maca in the blend) can be found here
  • 1/2 tsp hawaj - a powdered blend of ginger, clove, cinnamon, and cardamom (optional)

TO MAKE: Combine all ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth and creamy.

Bone Broth: What It Is + Why I'm Drinking It

You've undoubtedly heard the buzz about what has become a new staple in the wellness world's 'superfood index': the golden elixir that is bone broth. While there are a million articles + recipes floating around on the topic already, I wanted to hold space here on the Journal to discuss my take on the trend, as I get asked about it almost daily. 

Despite it's recent surge in popularity, bone broth is actually not a new health trend, but an ancient healing practice with roots in Chinese medicine. It's a powerful medicinal tonic that works to support digestive health, strengthen immunity, protect + repair joints, reduce inflammation, balance hormones, boost detoxification, and nourish the skin from the inside out.

The real magic of bone broth lies in it's ability to literally rebuild + strengthen our gut/digestive tract linings. A weak, "leaky" gut (which is massively more common than you'd think) is a guarantee for digestive discomfort, hormonal imbalances, mood disorders, bacteria overgrowth, troubled skin, compromised nutrient absorption, weakened immunity, chronic fatigue, autoimmune disorders, and disease onset. The gut houses 80% of our immune cells and 90% of our serotonin, making it the single most powerful determinant of our physical + mental wellbeing. Imbalances here will create imbalances everywhere. 

Among the myriad of nutrients supplied by bone broth are over 19 amino acids (which are assembled by the body to create proteins), collagen, gelatin, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and a host of other minerals, electrolytes, and chemical compounds to support stellar mind-body health. 

Though you can find pre-made broths at Whole Foods, butcher shops, farmer's markets, and cafes, I suggest making your own. It's surprisingly simple, always seems to taste better, and ends up being wildly more cost-effective. The most important aspect in the process is sourcing super high-quality, organic bones. An unhealthy, conventionally-raised animal will unfortunately yield a nutritionally-poor broth laden with chemicals + antibiotics. I have an incredible supplier in West Palm Beach that I visit weekly. 

It's important to note that bone broth is different than the majority of broths you'll find in grocery store aisles or most soups. While a simple chicken stock can be created in just a few hours, bone broth needs a minimum of 12 hours and (for a richer flavor + nutrient profile) up to 72 hours.  

I know some people are super turned-off by the idea of using and handling animal bones + carcasses (I totally get it), but it's actually a really beautiful, zero-waste use of the animal meat. No part of the animal is wasted, mimicking the food practices + reverences held of our ancestors and the Native Americans. I usually roast a whole chicken at the beginning of each week, use the meat for as many meals as possible, and then incorporate the bones in a broth.

I began regularly incorporating bone broth into my diet about a year ago as a means to heal my hormonal imbalances, strengthen my gut health, and clear my skin - which it did, quite quickly + extremely effectively. It still remains a daily fixture in my diet, usually enjoyed first thing in the a.m. on an empty stomach (post lemon water) or in between meals as a nourishing midday pick-me-up. 

I quite like the flavor and drink it straight up, warmed like a tea, but it's also fabulous for cooking and creating grain, veggie, and soup-based dishes. I'm in the habit of stirring in 1-2 scoops of collagen powder for an extra dose of healing, but this is totally optional. For your reference, below you'll find my basic, minimal, and fool-proof recipe for brewing a nourishing golden bone broth. 


BASIC BONE BROTH

  • 2-4 pounds bones 
  • 12 cups water (or enough to fill your large soup pot)
  • 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar
  • Optional: herbs, garlic, and vegetable scraps | I usually toss in a few cloves of garlic (peeled), ginger + turmeric root (peeled), a handful of fresh herbs, and roughly chopped carrots and onions

TO MAKE: Add all ingredients to a large soup pot or slow cooker, filling to the top with water. Bring to boil (uncovered), skimming off any scum/residue that floats to the top. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, cover, and allow to cook for 12-72 hours. The longer the bones simmer, the more nutrient-dense the broth. 

Once cooking is complete, strain broth into a large bowl through a fine mesh strainer. Store in airtight glass jars.

Broth will keep fresh refrigerated for three days, and should be frozen if not used before then. For jars you plan to freeze, be sure to leave extra room at the top as the liquid will expand.