Let’s Drink in the New Year!

And no, I’m not referring to the  “would you like that shaken or stirred?” drink variety. I’m talking more of the post holiday Jamu inspired easy-to-make herbal drinks that specifically address digestion and cleansing because, well, the holidays. Maybe your new year comes filled with resolutions, new goals, and aspirations. Perhaps we tell ourselves “I promise to eat better and exercise more.” Every. Single. Year. But to help get into that mode, let’s reset our bodies and give our systems an encouraging boost from all the holiday feasting with this easy to make, delicious and natural tea from Indonesia!

Wedang Jahe

This gingery spicy drink can be drunk hot or cold, and is easy to make. Ginger, a root in the same family as turmeric, cardammon, and galangal, is used heavily in Jamu tradition to aid with overfull or upset tummies and nausea. It is warming and great for circulation. Lemongrass contains vitamins A and C, folate, folic acid, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, potassium, phosphorus, calcium and manganese – plus a delightfully pungent and flowery citrus aroma. BOTH are also known to be anti-inflammatory (great for our digestive tract overworked from indulgence), anti-bacterial (great for upset tummies), and contain anti-oxidant properties. Prepared together, it’s like a match made in heaven, or at least that’s what your body will think. This traditional drink’s recipe is loose and simple – play with the ingredient amounts to taste, the way people in Indonesia make their own versions.

  • Combine 2 parts fresh ginger (washed and sliced thin) with 1 part fresh lemongrass (chopped roughly is best) with several cups of water.
  • Bring to an easy boil for at least 20 minutes to bring out the flavor and nutrients out.
  • Optional: We add a Pandan Leaf towards the end to add a sweet, green fragrance to the tea, but in the US, you can substitute with a dash of vanilla extract after done boiling, for aroma.
  • Pour the tea (without the ginger and lemongrass bits) into mugs of choice. Sweeten with honey, agave, palm sugar, or brown sugar, or coconut sugar.

The great part is if you don’t drink all the tea at once, it’s easy to store the remaining unsweetened tea in the fridge, with the ginger/lemongrass bits still in it. The tea will just become more flavorful! Reheat whenever you want more.

Pro tip:

If you’re a ginger lover, before you slice it, crack or crush/slightly flatten the ginger so the surface breaks and you can see the inside (like how you crush garlic with a side of a knife.) Then pan sear (without oil) until the skin shows a light tan. The cooking heat brings out the ginger’s pungent flavor so when sliced and boiled packs an extra punch.

Presentation tip:

In Indonesia, wedang jahe is often served in clear mugs, with a thin but tall talk of lemongrass in the mug for decoration. You can also include a few slices of the ginger in the clear mug – it will look pretty – and your body will thank you!

For another good health drink that’s a little heavier but also great for the liver, check out the recipe of another Jamu staple, Kunir Asem here. It’s an oldie but a goodie – as these recipes are centuries old and timeless!

Good Housekeeping: Wake Up Prettier

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Refinery29: Last-Minute Beauty Gifts

 

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People.com: Best Gift Sets For The Beauty Lover In Your Life

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Don’t Knock the Eggnog! Spice it up.

Happy Holidays! Time for holiday cheer, or at least holiday drinks to keep the festive season going. One of my favorites is actually good ol’ eggnog with its creaminess. Sometimes I’ll add a little rum to it, but other times, I get a little more creative with my Indonesian inspirations.

Choosing Eggnog: If you’re not going to make your own and find yourself wandering down the aisle of Whole Foods (or your favorite grocery store) browsing eggnog varieties, one thing I like to look for is organic milk, and as few “thickeners” as possible, such as guar gum, carrageenan, etc. They are not necessarily bad or “dirty” ingredients per se, but if you can get eggnog with the shortest ingredient list with ingredients such as organic milk, cream, sugar and eggs, why not? If nothing else, it tastes better – to me at least.

Eggnog with Antioxidants? Yes!

I don’t usually associate Eggnog with a health drink, however you can sneak a little bit of spice in there to boost its health benefits without compromising taste – like a pinch of turmeric powder plus a crack of black pepper. Not only does turmeric have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory health benefits, it also becomes more easily absorbed by your body in the presence of oils/fats (and if there’s one thing eggnog has, it’s fat!) In small amounts, turmeric powder is fairly flavor-neutral, without the earthy flavor of its natural counterpart often used in Indonesian cuisines or health tonics like Indonesian jamu. The black pepper additionally aids in the absorption of turmeric’s benefits into the body, making it more bio-available, so go ahead – add a little spice to a holiday season!\

Cup o’ Holiday Java…

Coming from a tropical island of coffee and coconuts, I love mixing eggnog with coffee & coconut oil served warm. Coconut oil is great with coffee not only because of coconut oil’s great benefits, but in particular because it helps the caffeine release more slowly in your system so you get a more sustained energy boost vs the big jolt and crash. For festive cheer, I like a good amount of eggnog in it, making it quite yummy and comforting, whether in the office or at home. Add more excitement? Sprinkle with cinnamon, also a common ingredient used in Indonesian beverages to add warmth and sweetness without the sugar. The thick sweetness of the eggnog is cut by the deep, dark, bitter taste of coffee – it’s almost like a super rich, lightly sweetened café-au-lait with a hint of spices. Move over Pumpkin Latte, here comes something new.

Just typing this up got me in the mood for some eggnog – let’s see which one of the two I’m going to make now! Got any interesting holiday concoctions to share?