Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Staying Healthy Through the Winter Months
Part One: Freshly Infused Water
As autumn sweeps in, and cooler weather to follow, many new challenges can present themselves when it comes to eating fresh. The great habits we form during summer months, like eating fresh produce, growing fresh herbs, and grilling out start to fade to classic comfort foods, hot beverages, and baking. But there are some ways to hold onto our summer health habits. In the coming weeks, I’ll highlight a few tips to help keep up the great strides we've made over the summer.
To start, let’s talk about one of my favorite topics: healthy (and tasty) hydration. We’re always trying to find ways to make sure we’re getting enough water every day; after all, some days, 8 cups of water can feel like a river! Summer (and our handy TNT infuser water bottles) definitely made it easier for us to come up with creative (and healthy) combinations to flavor our water, and break the boredom. In general, the rule of thumb is to pick a fresh fruit and a fresh herb, put them in the infuser. Some of my favorites include: lemon & rosemary, lime & cilantro, berries & mint, and apple & basil. Come fall, these herbs aren't as readily available… or are they? As it turns out, growing herbs indoors is an easy (and clean) way to stay healthy all year round. And this is the perfect time of year to start preparing your indoor "garden."
The number and variety of herbs will depend on your own preferences and space you have available. I have two windowsills above my kitchen sink which would effectively hold up to 6 herbs during the fall and winter. I typically go with my three favorites to prevent a cluttered appearance. Then, I can (and do) transplant them outside for the spring and summer. And repeat the cycle each fall. Never having to start from seed again, and never having to buy another herb plant or spice jar!
The three most prolific kitchen herbs are the ones in my own kitchen: basil, rosemary, and orange-mint. I should note that any mint variety works, I simply prefer the milder citrus flavors of the orange-mint.
To bring your herbs indoors from already existing plants is incredibly easy:
- Simply take a cutting (see step 2 for more information about where to make the cut) and drop the cutting like a fresh flower into a vase or cup of water. I use leftover mason jars. In a couple short weeks, the cuttings will grow roots, and new growth ready to be consumed! To encourage continued growth, after a few weeks, you can move your cuttings (when they have visible roots) into potting soil in small pots on your window sill. You can leave the cuttings in your vases/cups/jars if you prefer, just remember to change the water every 5 days (sooner if the water looks cloudy).
- Make a cut from the main plant about 4-5 inches in length, measuring from the top of that stem.
- Remove all the small leaves (keeping just the top 2-4 leaves) and remove any flowers that have formed.
- Place the stem in a vessel of water, covering no more than 2-3 inches of the stem.Some plants have a harder time producing roots in water alone.
- If you find you have some of these (most notably Thyme, Sage, Stevia, and other herbs that have a woodier stem), take the cutting as described above, wait one day to let the cut itself heal, and then plant directly into a small pot with soil. Make sure to keep the soil moist though as even these cuttings need lots of water to produce roots.
- If you find aphids swarming around your herbs, simply spray a bit of cheap beer (the expensive stuff is for drinking, you know) on the leaves and soil!
Since you’ll need to wait for new growth before you start plucking herbs for your infused water (or your favorite recipes), I like to start this “propagation” in early fall, when I can keep the main plant for at least a few more weeks.
So there you have it -- you can keep your freshly flavored water with no added calories even in the winter. And don't forget, even though it's colder outside, you'll still need to keep up with the proper amount of water for your body to run efficiently and provide you with optimal energy, health, and vitality. To find out how much you should be consuming daily, contact your TNT Health Educator today!