It is sweltering today, even up here in the hills of New England. All I can think about is cold things to drink. Here’s a refreshing favorite of ours:
Lemony Lemon-Balm Ice Crush
4 cups water
Fresh juice of 4 large lemons
Handful of fresh lemon balm leaves, minced
Stevia to taste
Berries to garnish (optional)
Ice cube trays
Food processor or a blender
Combine lemon juice, water and stevia in a big pitcher or bottle. Stir (or shake) until stevia is dissolved, then add the minced lemon balm. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze. You can have them as individual ice cubes, which my daughter often likes to do, or you can crush the cubes in a blender or food processor, making a slushy. Spoon into little bowls and garnish with a fresh strawberry (or raspberry) or two!
Variation:use mint or rose petals instead of lemon balm.
Lemon balm is a very cooling and calming herb, perfect for hot summer days. It is also an herb especially beneficial for the nervous system, if used consistently over time. The amount in this recipe is really only for taste. If you want an actual cooling, relaxing tonic, try this recipe below:
2 T lemon balm
1 T chamomile
1 T milky oats
1 T rose petals
1 or 2 T nettle
1 or 2 T Tulsi (Holy Basil) (optional)
Stevia to taste (optional)
Place all herbs in a glass or ceramic 8-cup tea-pot (those glass Melitta coffee pots they sell at most supermarkets work great). Heat a pot of water almost to the boiling point, and pour over the herbs, filling glass pot completely. Quickly cover it, so the volatile oils don’t steam out. Steep for at least an hour. I usually start drinking mine after an hour or so, but continue steeping it all day, even over night. It just gets stronger. This is great hot or iced, sweetened or not. I drink some version of it all summer long, with lime juice and stevia. Sometimes I even mix in some coconut milk. Really yummy!
Tulsi (aka Holy Basil or Sacred Basil) is another great herb, especially for diabetics. it’s very calming, and also has sugar-regulating properties. if I give my daughter a bottle of iced tulsi tea to sip on all day, it seems to help keep her sugar level. In the Ayurvedic tradition, Tulsi has been used for thousands of years to soothe the spirit, among other things. I will eventually try to get an Herbs page on this blog. There will be a chapter on them in my book.