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Some iced coffee please……

For a coffee lover like me summer days are difficult for hot coffee . How about some iced coffee?! My new found recipe for my love of coffee 🙂

Iced coffee is made in different ways. Personally I like using pure coffee decoction rather than an instant one.  A lot of cafes use cream and ice-cream to enhance taste. I have found most of them lacking in basic coffee flavour. Did you know that using a good coffee powder and easily available ingredients in your kitchen, can help you make that “perfect iced coffee”!

There are two ways of making the coffee decoction –

  1. To soak coffee powder with water, overnight and strain it the next day.
  2. Make the decoction first in the percolator and allow it to cool. Once cooled, let it stand for couple of hours in the fridge. You can also use your left over decoction from the previous day.

When I follow the first option, I find that it is not only flavored but also the simplest way of making iced coffee without the use of gas or even a blender. The only important thing apart from coffee is to stock up lots and lots of ice.

Makes 4 glasses & Vegan

50gms of coffee powder

100-150ml cold water

lots of ice cubes

milk, condensed milk or soy milk and sugar as per taste

Soak coffee powder with water in a container.  Close and allow it to stand in a cool place at room temperature for eight hours or overnight.

Strain the coffee liquid the next day. Discard ground.

Fill ice cubes till the top of a tall glass. Pour 2/3 of the glass with coffee decoction. Add 3-4tbs of plain milk or condensed milk. Add sugar as per your taste. Mix well and adjust sugar or milk accordingly. Serve immediately chilled.

Natural Mantra has got a good range of organic coffee, which can be purchased online.

 

Who am I?
My name is Megha from ‘i2cook’. Yup I’m the one who makes peanut butter and other organic products. You can buy my products online. I’m a guest author on Natural Mantra and will be posting all things healthy. I don’t mind being assertive when it comes to talking about all things healthy/organic that are good for you. Feel free to share your thoughts. There’s always room for a little improvement…..what say ;)


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Healthy mornings with a cup of perfect green tea!

Sundays are usually when I give myself a break and wake up late. This Sunday, I woke up at the crack of dawn. Just one of those days when one doesn’t know why one wakes up refreshed and can’t go back to sleep. There is nothing quite as relaxing as having a cup of hot chai early in the morning and gazing outside from my little haven.

Adrak chai, ginger-lemon tea, black tea, Earl Grey,green tea, lemon tea, mint tea or the good old masala cutting – tea in any of its forms gives a warm fuzzy feeling of total comfort. Sitting at the French window and watching the streets stir to life with my green tea brewed to perfection (mixed with a teaspoon of Himalayan flora honey from Under the Mango Tree – Thank you Emily for helping me procure a natural dark honey) was a great start to my idyllic Sunday. Opting for a healthy Sunday, I chose to drink green tea this week.

I’ve had some pretty disastrous attempts at brewing green tea. It’s something that needs to be worked at a few times before one call yell “Eureka!” It’s tough to get it just right enough for ones taste buds. Here’s why –

Water temperature needs to be perfect. If it’s too hot, the flavonoids (the healthy stuff in the tea) make it bitter. Too cold, the tea stays insipid since the flavours are not released.

  • The flavour and sweetness comes from the amino-acids and natural sugars in the leaves while the bitterness comes from tannins or polyphenols. The former bunch dissolves at 60 degrees Celsius while the tannins dissolve at 80 degrees Celsius. So finding the right temperature is crucial.
  • (I don’t use a thermometer. It’s too cumbersome. I turn off the gas the moment the water comes to a boil and then let it sit for a minute or so to cool it down to a 70-75. That’s an approximation. And no, I don’t guarantee that it’s even remotely around the prescribed temperature. But my tea does turn out perfect if I follow that process. Try it and let me know if it worked for you too. And yes, sceptics, do check with a kitchen thermometer and inform me whether I am making a right assumption of the temperature. I would really appreciate any more tips to make my tea better.)

Duration of the brewing: Ideally between 1-3 minutes.

  • The reason this is important is because the bitterness from the tannins will seep into your tea if you leave it for longer than a couple of minutes.

Usage of tea bag and tea leaves makes a difference.

  • I used to use tea bags. But they have to be dipped continually so as to aid in the release of fragrances and not just dipped once and left in. But with tea leaves, you can just pour the water over them and then strain after steeping.

So, here’s my recommendation for brewing a perfect cuppa:

  1. Bring the water to the boil. Turn off the gas. If you use a microwave, I’d say about a minute on high micro-power should do it.
  2. Wait for a minute. Day-dream. Look out the kitchen window. Place the tea bag or the leaves in a cup.
  3. Pour the warm water over the bag or leaves. Leave it for a minute or two.
  4. Strain it. (Don’t throw the leaves or bag away! They’re a good fertilizer for your garden plants and also a good home-based remedy to dark circles.)
  5. Mix one flat teaspoon of natural or organic honey into your tea. (This sweetens the tea a bit and also adds to the health quotient of it.)
  6. Sit back, relax, and enjoy your cuppa.

Steeping time should be balanced with water temperature: the lower the temperature, the longer the tea can be steeped. But remember, it has to be steeped at a minimum of 60 degrees Celsius for proper release of the amino-acids and sugars.

Enjoy your cuppa as you contemplate how you helped improve yourself today by taking a step towards living a healthier lifestyle.

You can check out a wide range of healthy natural teas at http://www.naturalmantra.com/categories/Organic-Natural-Health-Remedies/cid-CU00029130.aspx

In our fast paced lives, a sustainable lifestyle shouldn’t be a struggle, but it sometimes is. Our online e-commerce provides the largest selection of  natural, organic and eco-friendly products in India making it accessible and affordable to all. At NaturalMantra.com you can choose from a wide selection of safe, healthy non-toxic products, all at one place delivered to your door! Not every product makes it to NaturalMantra.com but the ones who do make it through our selection criteria.
We love hearing for you and encourage you to leave us a comment and connect with us here:
Email : customercare@naturalmantra.com


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Tips for a safe Holi

Tips for personal care

  1. Use a good baby oil or plain coconut oil generously on your hair, face and body (not just the exposed skin). This helps the colour wash off easily when you shower after the festivities are done. The oil also acts as a buffer and prevents excessive contact of powdered colours with your skin.
  2. Using a Q-tip, apply oil to the outer ears and to the nooks and crannies of your nails to prevent colour from lodging in them. Use cotton balls/ear plugs for your ears to prevent colour and water from entering them.
  3. Use a good quality lip balm. The colourful water when it dries up leaves sensitive lip skin dried out and dull. The lip balm is a preventive strategy to ensure that lips stay moisturised.
  4. Wear a bandana. Your chipkoo hair-style would be hidden well. And your coolness quotient would go up by 1000 points. And your hair would be at the receiving end of minimum contact with colours.
  5. Wear full sleeved t-shirts or kurtas paired with pants that reach your ankles – again, for maximum coverage.
  6. Thank anyone who eggs your head. J A bit strange but not when you know that egg is a great conditioner for your hair! This gesture of thanking will also succeed in irking the “egg”er because you didn’t get worked up at his smelly gesture.
  7. After the celebrations, dust off the excess colour before stepping into the shower. It will be easier to scrub off the remaining colour. It will also help you shower quicker using less water.

Tips for children

  1. Teach children to play a safe Holi. Discourage them from smearing colour near their friends’ or family members’ eyes, nose and onto their hair.
  2. Ensure that the area where they are celebrating Holi is dry. Be vigilant once they commence playing on wet and slippery grounds after the pichkaris make their entrance.
  3. Encourage them to play a dry Holi. This will help them understand the need to save water.
  4. When they play with wet colours, strictly enforce a “no muddy water” policy. Children often splash around in the same water which they spray onto their friends and stays on the ground. Sometimes, this can lead to them suctioning the water from the ground itself into the pichkari.

Tips for women

  1. Avoid playing Holi in unfamiliar localities. Have a trusted friend accompany you to and from your place to theirs.
  2. Wear no jewellery. It will stain and you will need to take extra effort to polish and clean it later. It also might make you more susceptible to street crime.

Tips for the environment

  1. Make pichkaris and colours at home. For information on how to do this, refer to our earlier post on how to celebrate a chemical free Holi.
  2. Discourage friends and family from throwing rubber balloons and water-filled plastic bags.
  3. Use your worst clothes – preferably those that are on their last wearable cycle. Rags, torn denims, dark coloured clothes are a plus. You don’t have to put time, money and effort into washing them at home or giving them for laundering.

Miscellaneous

  1. If you plan to eat or drink, keep antiseptic soap at hand. Or carry a hand sanitizer.
  2. Keep over-the-counter anti-allergy tablets handy if you or anyone you know may have an adverse reaction to any colours.
  3. Do not over-indulge in any intoxicants.

NaturalMantra.com wishes you a wonderful, eco-friendly, non-toxic and safe Holi. 🙂

In our fast paced lives, a sustainable lifestyle shouldn’t be a struggle, but it sometimes is. Our online e-commerce provides the largest selection of  natural, organic and eco-friendly products in India making it accessible and affordable to all. At NaturalMantra.com you can choose from a wide selection of safe, healthy non-toxic products, all at one place delivered to your door! Not every product makes it to NaturalMantra.com but the ones who do make it through our selection criteria.
We love hearing for you and encourage you to leave us a comment and connect with us here:
Email : customercare@naturalmantra.com


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Celebrate a Chemical-Free Holi!

Holi is here and the excitement is building up! I’ve begun wondering which old t-shirt is going to face the axe on March 8th! I’m a Rang Panchami party pooper. I don’t allow friends to put any colours on my face. Ever since a close friend of mine got an allergic reaction after Holi, I’ve been reluctant to participate in the annual Indian face-painting fest. And later, I discovered, it was with good reason.

The colours that one buys off the road-side vendors on Holi,(and yes, the best of us do that when we have run out of Gulal at the last minute) are full of harmful chemicals.

Here’s a short list of ingredients that make up the colours that are or can be harmful for us.

  • The red gulal is the most popular one. It often contains mercury sulphite – a proven carcinogen that can also cause Minamata (a neurological syndrome which is a result of mercury poisoning.)
  • The green is next. The malachite green colour compound is derived from copper sulphate which causes eye allergies and can also lead to temporary blindness. Paediatricians often remark that skin and eye allergies rise in number after the festival of Holi.
  • The yellow colour powder among all the regular Holi colours has the highest lead content.
  • The Prussian blue chemical from which the blue colour powder is derived has been known to cause contact dermatitis.
  • The purple or dark pink gulal may contain chromium iodide which can irritate the lungs and may also lead to asthama.

Since the Holi colour market is unorganized, a lot of cheaply available industrial dyes are used to produce these colours making them harmful for humans in their immediate consequences as also in the long term illnesses they may trigger. These colours usually use silica, mica and other chemicals as a base. Furthermore, the pollution caused by these colours is potent in terms of quantity and level of toxicity to a lot of surface and ground water sources. These colours are also much harder to wash off so we end up using more water to scrub them off.

Here’s how you can go natural and organic and have a chemical free Holi-day with a lot of cheer!

Make colours at home:

    • Turmeric and chickpea flour mix for yellow. Proportion of turmeric to besan ideally should be 1:2. One spoon of haldi for two spoons of besan. This is also an excellent face pack when mixed with water.
    • Use homemade sindoor as a red gulal. It will be saffron when dry. (Homemade kumkum recipe – Mix the lime powder used on betel nut leaves with a bit of turmeric and a tiny amount of water.) Or dry hibiscus flowers for a few days before using that powder as a deep red gulal.
    • For green – henna or dried gulmohar tree leaves are an easy solution. Henna might leave a light orange tinge if it gets wet while on your skin and is not taken off immediately.
    • For blue, dry jacaranda flowers and then powder them.
Play a dry Holi:
Use only powder colours. You will reduce the amount of water you will have to use later to scrub colours off and also contribute to saving water during celebrations
Encourage children to make these colours and “pichkaris” with you.
The above video shows you how you can recycle used water bottles to make your own water sprinkler for Holi. Apart from keeping kids busy, this will help keep them involved in the festival in its entirety and learn about the environment and the need to protect it.

If you do not have the time to go through the lengthy process of making these colours at home, NaturalMantra.com offers a variety of non-toxic natural Holi colours delivered at your doorstep. Check out the different safe, non-toxic, 100% natural colours that ensure protection of your health and that of the environment.

In our fast paced lives, a sustainable lifestyle shouldn’t be a struggle, but it sometimes is. Our online e-commerce provides the largest selection of  natural, organic and eco-friendly products in India making it accessible and affordable to all. At NaturalMantra.com you can choose from a wide selection of safe, healthy non-toxic products, all at one place delivered to your door! Not every product makes it to NaturalMantra.com but the ones who do make it through our selection criteria.
We love hearing for you and encourage you to leave us a comment and connect with us here:
Email : customercare@naturalmantra.com

For more information, and to view details and more information on the toxic chemicals click here. Holi Colours: A bleak picture (Courtesy: http://e-coexist.com/products/holi/holi_2010/rang-dulaar-natural-holi-colours-2010)