When I was 5 years old, I started making pots of chamomile tea. I was fascinated with tea parties and seeing the joy on my parents’ faces when they took their first sip from what I had created. I also served them slices of Polish apple cake or cinnamon biscuits that were often in the kitchen, ready to be devoured and enjoyed.
I’ve been making pots of tea ever since – it is my ritual every day that keeps me nourished and satisfied. I also love the whole tradition of hosting a morning or high tea - celebrating its goodness as well as enjoying healthy homemade treats such as wholemeal buttermilk scones. My great love of tea inspired me to design our Organic Tea Collection. A good pot of tea can warm the body and is abundant with healing properties that make you feel good all over. More specifically, tea contains natural antioxidants called flavonoids. Antioxidants slow down ageing by reducing the free radicals in the body.
This May, thousands of Australians around the country will be hosting their own morning tea in support of the Cancer Council’s Biggest Morning Tea. As a big supporter of cancer research (my husband Paul lost his mother to cancer), I've put together my top tips on how to host a purely delicious and healthy morning tea for your friends and loved ones.
For me, there is no better way than food to heal and nourish your body, mind and soul.
MY TOP TIPS ON HOW TO HOST A HEALTHY MORNING TEA
1. Choose quality wholefood ingredients
If you start with good ingredients - you'll always have great results in the kitchen. It is my belief, that you can take any recipe and make it healthier, as well as delicious. My gluten-free carrot cake is made from protein-rich almonds, and it has almost 1 kg of carrots! My Healthy Baking Cookbook features the most wonderful buckwheat olive oil scones topped with blueberry chia jam which tastes magnificent. I also have at least 3 healthy banana bread recipes in the Healthy Baking which I created when I owned The Healthy Chef Cafe in Avalon Beach.
2. Experiment with alternative flours
I love baking with alternative flours such as oat, spelt or buckwheat flour. Buckwheat, for example, is rich in antioxidants such as rutin, which helps to reduce blood pressure and improves blood circulation. It also contains the amino acid tryptophan, which makes serotonin in the body – a feel good chemical responsible for feelings of wellbeing and happy digestive health!
3. Offer to brew a delicious pot of healing tea
My favourite morning teas are Rise + Shine Breakfast Tea, Green Goddess (oolong tea) and GenMaiCha green tea. Studies show that black tea (Rise + Shine) can benefit cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Green Tea can help stabilise blood sugar and reduces stress on the adrenal glands. Oolong tea can accelerate your metabolism and assist in weight loss.
4. Keep it simple
When I create my recipes, I look for simplicity. I will also often make a few versions of the same recipe to cater for individual diets or taste preferences.
5. You can’t go wrong with chocolate
I have a whole chapter dedicated to chocolate in my latest cookbook Healthy Baking. Cocoa or good quality dark chocolate is high in antioxidants. According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the high antioxidant content of cocoa has been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease and stroke.
When buying chocolate either to eat or to use in my recipes, I make sure I buy quality; that they are not filled with emulsifiers, hydrogenated vegetable oils and cheap fillers –the darker, the better. If I’m using cocoa powder for baking, I use a good quality dark European cocoa powder such as Naked Chocolat Dark for recipes that requires a smooth, rich and sophisticated flavour such as chocolate cake.
If I’m creating raw desserts, cakes and smoothies or need a more natural and less intense chocolate flavour, I use Naked Chocolat Mylk that has a milder taste profile. My recipe for home made raw mylk chocolate in the baking book also contains cashew butter which makes it absolutely irresistable.
6. Swap out your store-bought jams and make them yourself!
You can make a simple berry jam by using only a few, simple whole food ingredients without refined sugar. Blueberry jam is my favourite as it has no added sugar, just caressed ever so gently with vanilla and lemon. I thicken my jams with only a few spoonfuls of white chia seed, so it dollops off the spoon perfectly. Preparing recipes this way is the best way to indulge your sweet tooth without feeling bloated and guilty afterwards!
7. Cook with love in your heart and magic happens
Food is meant to be enjoyed with friends and loved ones. I believe the good energy you put into making your food translates into a wonderful experience for those eating it.