TENDING the TABLE

Rhubarb Hibiscus Iced Tea

I’m a little obsessed with hibiscus tea in the summer. I usually make it with honey, lime, and mint or with muddled berries, but this version with rhubarb and lemon from Shelly’s new book Vegetarian Heartland is my new favorite. Continue reading for the recipe…

Last week was a rough one. I  was exhausted and weak, but thanks to body awareness, a  few days of taking it easy, and some lifestyle and dietary revisions I’m finally starting to feel better and more productive. I’m always so grateful for Ayurveda during times like these. Ayurveda has given me a framework which allows me to understand myself in a comprehensive way, infer what qualities are causing my imbalances, and to seek out appropriate treatments. We all have our weaknesses, and in my experience, understanding your constitution and the elements and qualities at play leads to streamlined recovery when issues arise and to greater stability in the long term. I still haven’t figured out exactly what’s going on with me, but I’m pretty sure my hormones are out of balance. I’ve been reading up and trying to get a handle on things through stress reduction (more yoga, meditation, oil massage and walking), dietary changes (less chocolate and sweet things and more avocado, flax and coconut oil), some new skin care routines (oil cleansing, masks and SPF), supplements (turmeric, ashwagandha, cod liver oil, magnesium and marine collagen peptides) and by eliminating plastics from my kitchen and getting rid of old, potentially toxic cleaning supplies and cosmetics.

I’ve always had problem skin, but the past few months it’s been especially bad. Those of you who have skin problems know just how difficult it can be. Having bad skin effects your self-esteem and influences how you interact with the world. Recently, I’ve found myself retreating and hiding because I’m embarrassed and ashamed. It’s hard to live fully and vibrantly when all you see when you look in the mirror is a dull, blemished face. That face is what people see first, before they get to know you and can see who you really are. I also know enough to recognize that my skin is a reflection of my overall health, so seeing the problem so visibly every day makes me feel like all the hard work I do to stay healthy is in vain. Intellectually, I know that my mindset needs to change in order for me to heal physically and emotionally, but it’s easier said than done. For now I’m trying to take it one day at a time, use the tools at my disposal, remember that I’m not alone and that we, as humans, are designed to be healthy and happy (sometimes the body just needs a little reminder). What tools or mental reminders do you find most helpful when dealing with health issues?

Now for some cookbook love: Shelly’s new book is full of fabulous seasonal vegetarian recipes that are perfect for a cozy night in or for a picnic adventure. The book includes beautiful  photos of food, landscapes, and her adorable pup. My favorite recipes so far include  this one, her caramelized date barbecue sauce, which I smothered on grilled portobellos and her peanut butter trail mix cookies, which are so simple (essentially just peanut butter maple syrup and whatever nuts and seeds you want to add). I made mine with macadamia nuts, puffed quinoa, cocoa nibs, coconut and chocolate chunks. YUM! I can’t wait to try the no-bake almond fudge bars, the sloppy janes and the savory vegetable cobbler. There’s so much goodness in this book, so be sure to check it out and pre-order your copy.

Rhubarb Hibiscus Iced Tea

Recipe from Vegetarian Heartland: Recipes for Life’s Adventures ©Shelly Westerhausen, 2017. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books. Available for pre-order here.

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

3 large rhubarb stalks, chopped

3 cups water

peel from 1/4 lemon

1 tablespoon dried hibiscus

2 tablespoons honey

ice cubes for serving

fresh mint leaves ( and lemon slices) for garnish

PROCEDURE

In a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, combine the rhubarb, water and lemon peel and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes. Add the dried hibiscus and let simmer for 15 minutes more. Remove from the heat and stir in the honey. Strain the liquid into a heatproof, airtight container, discarding the hibiscus and lemon peel. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 30 minutes or up to  3 hours. Serve chilled, poured over ice and garnished with mint leaves (and lemon slices).