RECIPE: Lemon Balm Tea

I planted a couple of lemon balm plants in the garden these past couple of weeks. Not only do do they smell great when the leaves are rubbed, it self-seeds readily in flowerbeds or even gaps between paving. It is a common but under appreciated garden plant, possibly because it is easy to grow – it is tolerant of a range of conditions, including drought, and isn’t affected by many pests and diseases.  Want to try planting it? Even a small scrap of stalk will readily root in a glass of water, making it a plant for garden visitors to take home and grow on a windowsill or in their own garden.

Lemon balm is often used as a flavouring in ice cream and herbal teas, both hot and iced, often in combination with other herbs such as spearmint as it is actually from the mint family. It is also frequently paired with fruit dishes or candies. It can be used in fish dishes and is the key ingredient in lemon balm pesto.  For companion planting: If you are growing tomatoes, plant lemon balm beside them, it will improve flavour and growth in the tomatoes.

Today I made a lemon balm tea. It is said that lemon balm has a calming effect and is a good night time tea.  You can add a little honey or stevia to sweeten it up if you need it, or it can be drank alone as it has a very light but aromatic flavour.

To make the tea:

  1. Grab a handful of leaves from the garden
  2. Wash them gently in cool water, pat dry
  3. Bruise the leaves by crushing them together or pulling apart
  4. Add to a large pitcher and add 4-5 cups of boiling water.
  5. Allow the leaves to steep in the water, keep the lid on or you will lose the aromatics of the leaves.
  6. Allow the tea to cool. When ready to drink, pour it into a mug and reheat. Add a 1/2 tsp of stevia or natural honey if you want sweetness.

You’ll notice that the tea is very light but has a slight lemony-mint flavour. It’s beautiful and so nice to have fresh tea, made right from the garden!

Enjoy!

Recipe: Rhubarb Syrup

Remember I hit up the farm and picked fresh rhubarb the other week? Well, I still had some of it leftover. Since there wasn’t enough left to make a pie, I thought I’d make some syrup to add to drinks over the weekend.

When it comes to drinks, if I’m not having wine, I’m usually having vodka and soda.  I have it with lime, but this weekend I wanted something sweet. Enter rhubarb syrup.  I added it to alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks (soda water) this weekend for friends. Everyone loved it.  Squeeze some fresh lime into it and it’s a perfect summer drink.

all in the potI scored some more rhubarb from a friends garden over the weekend and used that to make more syrup. I also added chopped strawberries to make it a classic syrup.  I think making a punch out of it would be great, it could even be drizzled on fish or on a salad as a dressing if you added a little vinegar and oil to it. Very versatile and very yummy.

Here’s the recipe.

  • 2-3 cups of chopped rhubarb
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of white sugar
  • 1 cup of water
  1. Add all ingredients to a saucepan and bring to a slow boil. Cook until reduced by half.
  2. Strain using a mesh sieve. You’ll be left with the cooked, mushy rhubarb. Don’t throw it out! You can store it in the fridge and spread it on toast 🙂
  3. Let it cool in a bowl before using. Store syrup in a glass jar in the fridge.

it's ready!

In the jar

Benefits of a Spinning Workout

I have a long love affair with spinning. I am a huge advocate of it and endorse it as much as possible to friends, co-workers and gym buddies.

A friend once said to me, “I don’t know about it, I’m not into someone screaming at me while I workout”, or something to that effect.  Basically, I get the feeling that everyone thinks that a spinning class is a torture chamber where you’re chained to a bike and screamed at for 45 minutes.  Although I have been in classes where the instructor yelled things like “HEAD DOWN, DO NOT LOOK AT ME, MOOOOOVE IT!!!”, but that is not the norm. In fact, most spinning classes are up-beat, fun, cheerful and pumped with wicked awesome music. You certainly won’t hear me screaming like that instructor did to me, but that’s ’cause that’s just not how I roll.

If you have never tried a class, I strongly encourage you to go. It’s the one class where you can go at your pace (contrary to what people think), you can set your own resistance, and can experience a totally different workout than you’ve ever had before. Here are some of my top reasons to hit up your nearest spin class.

1. Burn Baby, Burn

In a 45-minute class, I burn on average around 450 calories. A 60 minute class kicks that up to 600 calories. Depending on the type of drills you do in the class, that can skyrocket to upwards of 700 calories. Tabata type drills really help increase the HR and catapult you to a whole new level.

2.  Progress at Your Own Pace

The greatest thing about spinning (other than the burn) is that you can progress at your own pace. You can set to a lower resistance if you’re just beginning and ramp it up as you go. If you’re a seasoned rider, you know that you can crank the resistance up and really work it. Either way, you decide what kind of workout you want.

3. Time Flies

Seriously. 45 minutes goes by SO quick. You won’t even notice how long you’ve been on the bike because you’re having so much fun.

4. The Music!

Time flies because of the music. I spend a lot of time creating my playlists. I really enjoy creating them and each song moves nicely into the next. I remember one spin class felt like 15 minutes, all because of the instructor’s coaching and music. It was awesome!

5. Mental State and Strength

Spinning is one of those workouts where I personally, can really push myself. It’s totally all about your mental state. Some days are good, some are bad.. but when I’m having a bad day and really not up to working hard, I realize it’s all about my mental strength. When the right song hits, it moves me. Pumps me up and I can get into a zone, pushing myself. I close my eyes, let my body relax, take a deep breath and push even harder. Spinning is a great way to push your mental strength. I always tell my classes, you have more to give then you think. Dig deep mentally and you will produce!