Valentine’s Day

The Magic of Chocolate

English: Dark chocolate. Español: Chocolate negro.

English: Dark chocolate. Español: Chocolate negro. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you remember the very first time you tasted chocolate?  Real chocolate, the kind that is dark with contrasting sweet and bitter flavors?  I do.  It was a bit of a shock after experiencing only sweet milk chocolate up until that point in my life, yet, once I got past that initial surprise, it was obvious I had found a new love.   I love to watch a person’s face when they take that first bite of a particular chocolate, before they know what to expect.  Their expression screwing up in delight as complex bitter, creamy chocolate melts on the tongue briefly but fully overwhelming the senses.

Yummy!

Chocolate is delicious but not everyone likes it.  This is hard for me to believe, how could someone not like chocolate?  Apparently it is true though.  Once of my dear friends suffers from this affliction and I find myself feeling strange when we decide to share a dessert because I would of course order something, anything with chocolate.  So I usually let her choose which confection to indulge in.  Another friend confessed to an aversion for chocolate just the other day and a woman we were with said, “Are we on the same planet at the same time?”

High in antioxidants and containing mood enhancing alkaloids, dark chocolate has wonderful health benefits.   Once, to my great delight, I was even told to eat more chocolate.    While I lay on her table waiting for her to ‘release my inner dragons’ my acupuncturist explained, “You really need to eat more chocolate, dark chocolate to support your Heart meridian.”  Thrill filled me as I realized I now had a reason to have more of my favorite thing.

Cocoa beans

Health Benefits Of Dark Chocolate ~

  • High in protective antioxidants as well as vitamins and minerals like magnesium, copper and potassium.
  • Heart healthy effects such as lowering blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels while relaxing arteries and enabling blood to flow smoothly.
  • Improves blood flow to brain, heart and eyes.
  • May decrease risk of Alzheimer’s disease and increase cognitive function.
  • Increases cellular insulin sensitivity thereby decreasing risk of type 2 diabetes.

Because chocolate is so delicious with the capability of being strong in its effect, it should not be approached lightly.  Strive to eat about one ounce per day for optimal effect, I know it is hard…  Chocolate is made from the fruit of the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao).  Theobroma means “food of the gods,” and that, in my opinion is what chocolate is.

Recipes ~

Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cookies From Mama Rosemary

Homemade Peppermint Patties and Honey-Butter Finger Bites From The Nerdy Farm Wife

Lavender Chocolate Truffles From Herbal Musings

Hot Dandelion Cocoa From Mountain Rose Herbs

Sources ~

Aviva Romm’s Top 10 Superfood Picks For Women

Chocolate And Your Health: The Basics

10 Health Benefits of Chocolate

Health Benefits Of Chocolate Growing

Benefits Of Chocolate: Study Finds Eating Cocoa Daily May Improve Cognitive impairment

Heart And Vascular Health & Prevention

Shared On: Time For A Party!

 
 
Categories: Food Is Your Best Medicine, Valentine's Day | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Rose And Chocolate Play Dough For Valentine’s Day

Who doesn’t love roses and chocolate on Valentine’s Day?

Valentine Play Dough

Here is a fun, crafty way to share these two Valentine Day favorites with the kids in your life.

 

Rose Play Dough

rose play dough

Colored with beet powder and bedecked with silver glitter!

Ingredients ~

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • 1 cup of water (can substitute rose tea or rose-water if desired)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • about a 1/4 cup dried rose petals crushed a bit
  • about a 1/4 cup beet powder or powdered roses
  • 5 to 10 drops of rose geranium essential oil (how many drops depends on your nose!)

Instructions ~ Combine dry ingredients in a sauce pan.  Add the water and oil.  Stir together and heat slowly over low heat.  Stir almost constantly until the play dough sets up.  Let it cool to warm before playing, play dough right off the stove is hot.

Chocolate Play Dough

chocolate play dough

Ingredients ~

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • 1 cup of water (can substitute rose tea or rose-water if desired)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder, add more if needed
  • 2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 5 to 6 drops any combination of cocoa absolute and sweet orange essential oils, if desired.
  • Splash of vanilla extract

Instructions ~  Follow the instructions above for making rose play dough.

Double, triple or quadruple these recipes if making play dough for a large group.

 

Fun Ways To Use Valentine’s Day Play Dough ~

  • Make little “treats” for your child to hand out at school.  Wrap a small ball (or make into little hearts) of each kind of play dough in a plastic bag, tie with a lovely ribbon and add a little heart-felt note to complete the Valentine.  Makes a wonderful substitute for the sugary candy treats normally handed out this time of year.
  • Take a nice big batch of each play dough into your child’s school or to a playdate and let the kids enjoy.  Supply baby rose buds, cinnamon sticks, glitter and heart cookie cutters to enhance play.
  • Give a batch to your little one on Valentine’s Day, makes a great present.

More please….

Valentine’s Day Crafts:

Play Dough Recipes and Crafts:

Happily Shared On:  The Kid’s Co-op, Share It Saturday, Kid’s Get Crafty

Categories: Aromatherapy For Kids, Herbal Gift Ideas, Herbs For Kids and Mamas, Parenting, Play Dough, Playing With Herbs, Roses, Valentine's Day | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Natural Living Monday ~ Stop And Smell The Roses

I admit it, I have roses on my mind.  It is almost Valentine’s Day!  I adore roses, fresh or dried.  I delight in making tea with rose petals and hips; crafting with sweet little baby buds of rose; and making body care products with anything rose ~ rose water, rose petals and rose essential oil.  With all this rosiness on my mind I wanted to start this week’s wonderful blog hop with a little informative herbal tidbit about roses.  Of course Summer is a wonderful time to collect and use fresh rose petals yet even during the cold of Winter we can enjoy the bounty of roses by using dried petals and fruits (hips).  Roses are helpful for supporting immunity and lung health.  They bring a ray of happiness to folks feeling sad in the during gloomy months of late Winter.  Plus they are great for crafting with especially with kids who really love the little dried baby rose buds.

Rosa rugosa

Rose Petals and Hips

Rosa spp.

Roses, in their beauty, open the heart and speak of love.  Yet they offer so much more than meets the eye.  The petals are edible and are lovely added to salads, desserts and even made into rose butter.  They also make a tasty tea (use fresh or dried) that I have found to be quite popular with children.  All that deliciousness brings with it immune enhancing properties as well as soothing coolness for the urinary system, nervous system and heart.  The petals ease cold/flu symptoms and lung congestion increasing lung strength and vitality.  Roses are also helpful in cases of PMS and fullness in the pelvis.  Emotionally roses sooth broken hearts and aggravated nervous systems.  Rose hips, the fruit of a rose, are very high in Vitamin C.  They make a tasty sweet sour addition to teas and foods helping to prevent infections.  I love to soak the hips in apple juice until they are soft and use them as jam on my kids’ PB & J.

Roses are often heavily sprayed so be sure to use organic roses.

More please….

Valentine’s Day Crafts:

Using Roses With Kids:

Find this and more information about other amazing herbs in my Materia Medica section.

 

And now….

 

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Categories: Herbal Medicines, Natural Living Monday Blog Hop, Roses, Valentine's Day | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Roses at Preschool for Valentine’s Day ~ A Celebration of Roses in the Making

Roses symbolize love, friendship and beauty.

The amazing aroma of rose is certainly special and has been used by humanity through the ages.  The scent opens the heart while uplifting the nervous system easing depression and grief.  Valentine’s Day offers the perfect chance to explore this amazing plant.  We are having a rose party to celebrate at the preschool this year.  To provide the children with a chance to really explore roses we are going to provide them with a variety of activities.

Rose Tea

Tea made from organic rose petals is delightfully delicious and healthful.  Roses  benefit the respiratory and digestive systems enhancing their function, relieving inflammation and heat as well as helping to ease infections.  Because of rose’s uplifting action, the tea is calming and eases emotional irritability.  I have found that most children love the taste of rose tea.

To make simply steep organic dried rose petals in just boiled water for 10 to 15 minutes using about a tablespoon per cup of water.  Sometimes I add a tidge of agave syrup or honey to the tea.

Rose Paint

For this activity I am planning to use this recipe from Mommy Nature and then I am going to tweak to fit our needs.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups cold water
  • 2 cups hot water

Mix the flour and salt.  Add cold water.  Beat until smooth and gradually add hot water.  Boil.  Beat until smooth.

Then to make rose paint I will add crushed rose petals and a bit of beet powder to enhance the color.

Rose Playdough

This is easy!  Just add rose petals, dried or fresh, to your favorite playdough recipe.  You can further enhance the rose scent by using rose water or rose tea in place of the regular water when making your playdough.  I also like to add glitter and beet powder to the playdough to make it sparkly red!  Or you can add cocoa powder for coloring and make chocolate rose playdough, yum!!

Check out my playdough post for complete instructions!

Rose Sensory Table

I think it would be fun to set up a bin with fresh roses and leaves (no thorns please!) for the kids to feel and smell fresh roses.  Silky soft and fragrant, um….  We will add some cups and things for sifting through the loveliness.

Stay posted for pictures, as I make these things for our party I will add pictures and of course, I will get some action shots from the big day!

Update on those pictures…. well, I forgot my camera and didn’t get a single picture!!  So bummed….

Shared On: The Kid’s Co-opIt’s Playtime!Kid’s Get Crafty, Share It Saturday

Categories: Aromatherapy For Kids, Herbs For Kids and Mamas, Lesson Plans For Preschool And Home, Play Dough, Playing With Herbs, Roses, Valentine's Day | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Roses At Preschool For Valentine’s Day ~ Rose Hearts

This simple hands-on project makes fragrant unique gifts for parents, friends and teachers.  Plus it fun!  How often do you get to mix lots of glue with something in a big bowl?  It is a blast to squirt and drizzle glue making patterns and bubbles of white glee!  And here is your chance to join in the fun.

What You Need

  • Dried Roses (or other fragrant plant material like lavender or even potpourri)
  • Glue
  • Ribbons
  • Bowl
  • Spoons
  • Wax Paper
  • Heart Shaped Cookie Cutters (or any other shape you want)

How To

Making the mixture

I did this with a group of kids.  We sat around the bowl together on the floor.  (Of course this would be easy to do with a child at home too!  And I am planning to make some of these with my own two precious girls before the big day next week.)  First put roses in a big bowl.

This is a great time to talk about roses.  Roses are considered to be heart opening and are traditionally associated with love and beauty.

We also looked at and read the Song of the Rose Fairy by Cicely Mary Barker.  Having collected many books and even a great little CD of songs about Ms. Barker’s fairies, I am always delighted to share this whimsical artistic world.

I let the kids play with the roses for a bit.  To smell and feel them.

Then it was time to add the glue.  Passing the glue and bowl around the group, I had each child squirt glue on to the roses.  They really enjoyed this!

You want to put in enough glue to coat the roses well.  Next stir the roses and glue up together.

Making the Shape

Take a cookie cutter and place it on a piece of wax paper.  Have the child press in enough rose mixture to fill in the cookie cutter.  If you want to hang you finished shape you can either make a hole in the mixture so you can add a ribbon for hanging later.  Or you can put a ribbon in when you are making the shape by threading it through the cookie cutter and pressing the rose mixture around the ribbon so that it comes out nicely on both sides of your shape.

While I had many heart cookies cutters with me, I also brought a bunch of other shapes for the kids to choose from.  We had everything from hearts, to a bunny to a rectangle!

The Final Product

Let the shapes dry for about 24 hours.  Then carefully remove them from the cookie cutter and wax paper.  Now you can add beads to the ribbon if you want!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Shared On: The Kid’s Co-op, It’s Playtime!, Kid’s Get CraftyShare It Saturday

Categories: Herbs For Kids and Mamas, Lesson Plans For Preschool And Home, Playing With Herbs, Roses, Seasonal Herbal Crafts, Valentine's Day | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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