Monday, October 12, 2015

Coffee Bliss in Pacific Northwest

By Cal Orey

The Canadian Coffee and Tea Show on the waterside
Last week I was planning and preparing for the Canadian Coffee and Tea Show. The day of departure, as usual, I woke up to a fresh 12-ounce cup of flavored mocha premium coffee made in my trusty Mr. Coffee maker. A large splash of organic 2 percent low-fat milk is par for the course and back to the cozy and warm waterbed with a hot cup of joe is a ritual that I love.  And it ended Friday October 2...

Different than nestled amid pine trees
Timeless book on perks of coffee
On Saturday morning, I awoke at 7 AM in Seattle and at a hotel I love because I know what I'm getting--usually. I ordered a carafe of coffee (3 8 ounce cups, sort of), fresh squeezed orange juice, and a toasted bagel with honey. Total: $24. And I cannot forget despite the tab included a tip, the gentleman who brought me my "continental" breakfast said he could use more money. Couldn't we all. I needed coffee and my solitude as I handed him bills and away he went down the elevator. The java was doable (yeah, I'm a coffee snob after writing the book on its powers) but nothing to write home about yet no caffeine withdrawal so it worked.

Instead of the train, this time around I took the glorified bus (found at Amtrak) to Vancouver since this way it gave me more than less hours of sleep.  By the time we were close to the Canadian border I was thrilled the driver stopped at the "duty free" shop.  I went inside looking for crackers or bread to settle my stomach from unexpected motion sickness. Ironically, me, the author of The Healing Powers of Chocolate was welcomed by chocolate, chocolate, chocolate... Nothing else. It was surreal.  And it wasn't even the quality kinds.

Worse, still confused by the currency exchange, I spent more than less when I purchased 8 dollars worth of the sweet stuff. I gave the cashier a 50 dollar Canadian bill. Mistake. Should have used U.S. money. I ended up spending more than 20-something on the low grade items. I gifted it to the kid behind me who was also paying it forward and giving it to his girlfriend. Also, a follow-up conversation with the aloof woman behind the store counter didn't help. At all.  The bottom line: I lost (like so many others crossing the border), she won. Evidently, the owner of the shop is AWOL forever.

Hello Vancouver
Wanted rain, settled for awesome city/water
Once in a new and different hotel on a very high floor I was pleasantly surprised by the view scene via two windows. I was seeking gloomy, rainy skies but the sun was big and bright and temps in the high 70s. I left to get coffee. Downstairs I ordered a vanilla latte and it kicked in a bit despite I was still trying to get my balance from cabs, the shuttle bus, two planes, bus, and a cab I had to fight for and finally was rescued by a driver. After the coffee did its job and picked up my mood, I realized the only thing I ate was the 24 dollar bagel; so at the downstairs bistro I ordered a comforting grilled cheese with tomatoes on whole grain bread and fries (there are no baked potatoes in B.C. or so it seems). 
When my meal was served and I took the first bite I was rudely awakened by the flavor of smoked cheese. Not my fantasy. I settled for the fries sprinkled with herbs and a baguette (I loved it.) After my "dinner" I walked and walked (they do this in Vancouver for the health of it, they say). Ended up in my room with a "million dollar view" and purchased the San Andreas film for 20 bucks. I was homesick. (No quake yet at the Cascadia Subduction Zone.)

Good Morning

While the view was breathtaking and took my breath away; I forgot to mention if I hadn't opened the brown curtain, the night before, I would have never noticed there was a third window boasting a huge panoramic view. It was a pre-birthday present for me two days before the big event when I grow older like my senior pooch back at home.
Skies with coffee are unforgettable

For some reason, I was hoping the Earth would move or a wave would hit like in the earthquake movie. But adventure was lacking--even with a different environment in a different country. So I settled for going downstairs (29 floors) and ordering two (not one) mocha lattes. And back up to the room I went to prepare for the Canadian Show. After all, I was on a mission to learn about the tea industry.

Yep, the coffee did its work and I consumed info on why tea is hot around the world and how to make it even hotter, from type to presentation, season and more. Yes, I did get it and put it to work later on the trip. 

Tea tales will be shared in tea book
The next day for my coffee consumption, it was a Groundhog Day movie repeat but I asked for extra oomph. The bistro barista added something (I forget--did she say espresso?--because I was still half asleep) but it did seem to add a kick. Back to the Coffee and Tea Show for tea tasting tidbits. This session was enlightening and I certainly can use the "notes" in my forthcoming book on tea.  Note to self: I should have ordered the white tea. But I have a lot in my pantry to savor.

Tuning into the entertaining and tea-savvy speakers, I found myself envious of their travels and it made me ponder: "I should have gone farther; I've been to Canada." After networking with some folks at their exhibits, I needed an exotic atmosphere. (I missed my two dogs, one cat, and fish.)  Took a detour to the Vancouver Aquarium and visited the birds, snakes, monkeys, otters, and fish. It made me want to go to Brazil, Mexico, or back to Hawaii. But I was in Canada.  And I continued on with my tea journey in Vancouver. (That's another story and a happy one.)
Bluebirds are symbolic for happiness

Back to the USA:  Awake in Seattle
On Tuesday it was up at 4:30 AM to catch the early train back to Seattle. Now, I could have used the hotel room coffee machine but there wasn't any cold fresh milk in my room (oops, I forgot); and the coffee containers (I tried tasting the drink the night before) weren't my cup of coffee. 
  • Keurig single cup coffee maker with complimentary coffee
  • Stainless steel kettle with complimentary tea (I did adore this baby.)
So I waited until I boarded the train. 
The nice guy behind the food counter promised me my cuppa joe (more trustworthy than the past men in my love life) was Seattle's best coffee and he did use real milk from a carton. By the time I finished half of the beverage my heart was racing. He was right about the caffeine but I craved my joe back at home in the land of bears and coyotes--Lake Tahoe.

My bedroom with a view
Once in the city, I was back at the hotel I love. In fact, for my birthday I was comped my favorite room to rave about and once there it's difficult to get out and about.  It feels like home but more elegant, less earthy.  I walked to Pike's Place and ended up at Starbucks on Pine Street. I ordered a salty caramel coffee concoction with mocha sauce, coffee, milk, whipped cream, caramel drizzle, and sea salt. (A special fall treat but the sugar and calories are off the charts.) It was oh so sweet and made me feel energized and on even keel. 
Finally, the weather was grey and cool--the way I like it. After tripping around up and down the streets (like San Francisco, sort of), a few locals talked to me and I felt a sense of belonging. "If I was staying where you are," one woman said, "I'd go back and chill rather than to the Space Needle for dinner."  
Back in my room, a card next to chocolate was on the desk below in my "study"... Not to forget the amazing tea setup. (Another story to share.) I plopped on the bed and ordered the film Jurassic World and watched it on the flat screen TV. The mean-spirited dinosaurs entertained me; as did the doorbell when I was served real grilled cheese and fries. No baked potatoes. Maybe there is a shortage of potatoes in the Pacific Northwest. But sitting on the top floor room with more than 800 square feet overlooking downtown Seattle, Puget Sound, and the Cascades--potatoes weren't on my mind anymore. I was in heaven. 

Later, in the deep soaking tub I soaked and the thought hit me: "I want to hike the Pacific Crest Trail like the Cheryl in Wild or perhaps go to Alaska." But then I mulled: "Maybe taking a small plane in the wintertime to Victoria--back to Canada--for tea will suffice." Meanwhile, enjoying the suite with amazing views of the city and bay, I looked forward to a large latte and cranberry lemon scone at SeaTac at 5:00 A.M. And I fell asleep.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Healing Powers Series' Author and Dog Growing Older

My father wanted me to be a dental assistant,
not a starving author
By Cal Orey
My Dog and I Are Aging (sort of)

At Roseville taking a break before
a book discussion/signing
On October 6th I will turn 63 and I'm not freaking out about it. But I must tell you when I say the number it does make me squirm a little--okay a lot. Wow! Six decades and then some. How did I get here? The same way my dog did. We are aging...

My senior boy whom made it 
to NBC for seismically sensitive
powers to sense earthquakes
Images of wanderlust John Steinbeck in his golden years with Charley, his gentleman aging Poodle--much like my 12-year-old Brittany come to mind. A tiny bit of stiffness in the joints if sitting too long, a few senior moments (gazing at a wall, taking a cat nap), but no major health issues. This is a good thing, right? 
So me and the dog (my senior gentleman) keep on going (with regular doc and dental check-ups). Here, take a peek at my secrets to aging...

I adopted an Aussie to keep us active
1. I take risks like he takes a leap of faith (he now bolts through puppy gates to the dog food bag) and we do things pur way. Rather than do what he/I am told, we listen to our gut instincts and follow our passion. We are in sync.

2. Instead of getting married, I loved and when the love died I moved onward like a floppy fish and didn't look back while swimming ahead. (Well, maybe once or twice I peeked at the past.) Simon never had a girl dog but he did have his bff--a rat terrier that he adored.

3. Oops, I forgot to have children but I have raised unforgettable fur kids--cats and dogs--that I cherish (on Earth and in the Hereafter). Simon was neutered but he did help raise my former Britt who left us too soon. Another story. Another time. He did not have to face the aging monster, though.
Love outdoors and balanced

Quebec City in my 20s hitchhiked,
60s via plane/train
4. For decades I've aspired to treat my body--more little than big--like a better place and I've grown stronger from head to foot. Swimming, walking the canines (my Britt is a bit slower, especially during high temps but so am I), and savoring clean food are my best friends--not enemies...
5. I eat to live not live to eat--and follow the Mediterranean Diet and lifestyle--the underlying theme in my Healing Powers collection. Not to forget I've been a Tealand person to help keep me centered year-round.  No tea for Simon but he has been known to snag a chocolate truffle and a grape.

6. And speaking of consumption, I try not to eat anything with eyes. I love all of God's creatures big and small--why would I want to devour feathered, scaly, and furry friends? Simon, a bird dog, has not eaten one but he watches the woodpecker outdoors this fall; then snoozes.

Fear of flying is low on my
phobia list
Growing up in the suburbs
was peaceful and safe
My Zen cat keeps me zen-like
7. Striving to get out of my comfort zone and doing things that are a bit scary physically and mentally but exciting--and probably youth-boosting even the rough air on the plane(s) keeps me alive. Simon doesn't have the luxury of toying with danger because I want him to live a long life.

8. Compassion and my sixth sense for people of all ages is something I share--like dogs do at any age--while sharing my intuitive gifts as an author and life consultant. I get calls from young women in their thirties and forties who believe they are too old, undesirable to men.  Or fifty-something men tell me their jobs are in jeopardy; afraid they're well-done like an over-cooked piece of red meat. Simon must know he is slowing down but he still has moxie and doesn't look a day over seven. 
After more than a decade we get each other

9. Living amid nature--trees and water--keeps me calmer and connected to the universe despite having a pine tree fall on the cabin last year and observing the four year drought at the beach. We have been to the Lake and a pool...for some reason my Britt doesn't like water like me, a fish in another life time.

10. And if chaos happens I try to face it head on, then run not walk away from it to a place where I can exhale.  My senior Brittany is sensitive and prefers quietude, too. After all, we are both air signs and like to be balanced.

Caveat: After a trip to the PNW (I got Simon a cozy bed for the kennel to keep him cuddly; my younger Aussie would destroy one.) I will share a belated birthday celebration with my family and not worry that I'm an "older" woman.  I'll count my blessings of the past and present and tag myself wiser, fearless, and ready to tackle Fall challenges. It will feel right, yeah, it will feel a bit like that.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Surprise! Coffee Has Health Perks!

Lose weight, fight cancer and help your heart. The author of The Healing Powers of Coffee tells why a good ol’ cup of Joe is being recognized as a hot new health food.
Americans love coffee. And according to some sources, we drink an astounding 400 million cups every day. But few consume it without some guilt. For years, it’s been suspected as a culprit for various conditions, from high blood pressure to ulcers. But research is now proving the opposite. In fact, there are hundreds of compounds found naturally in coffee beans that have decidedly healing properties, perhaps more so than cocoa, tea or even renowned antioxidant-rich fruits, such as oranges and blueberries. In her new book, The Healing Powers of Coffee, Cal Orey pours over the research to brew up some incredible facts about these magical beans. Here, she sits down for a little coffee Q&A, where she shares insights and tips on how coffee can wake up your wellness routine, helping you to not only stay trim, but also reduce your risk of chronic diseases—even substantially lowering your risk of a heart attack.
Quick TipStop the Pain. Have a Cup. If you’re prone to migraines, a cup or two of strong, black coffee may be the cheapest and most effective remedy, since caffeine can reduce pain by constricting blood vessels.
Q: What inspired your interest in coffee?A: I have penned the Healing Powers series—books on superfoods. Since coffee gets a bad rap, I thought it would be fascinating to write about a vice that has gone to virtue. The health benefits of java are controversial, but groundbreaking research shows that it’s got perks. Coffee has been touted as the “newest health food.”
Q: Why is coffee such a popular beverage worldwide?A: Its energizing benefits are probably the main reason why coffee has made its mark and is here to stay. Actually, according to legend, an Ethiopian goat herder was the first to discover the energizing benefits of the coffee bean plant centuries ago.
Q: What gives coffee its many health benefits?A: Coffee’s amazing antioxidant power is what makes it special. Two mighty antioxidants—chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid—have been given credit for its health benefits. Coffee boasts other health-boosting antioxidants, including benzoic acids, flavonoids and proanthocyanidins.
Q: Does decaf have the same effects?A: According to Joe A. Vinson, Ph.D., from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, decaf has 20% less polyphenols than caffeinated coffee, but this is not significantly lower.
Q: Do certain types of coffee have more benefits than others?A: Drinking freshly ground coffee from whole beans can help lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Q: What about the benefits of green coffee beans?A: Green coffee refers to the new or unroasted [beans] of Coffea fruits. It has been praised for its weight-loss benefits on the popular “Dr. Oz Show.” One study published in January 2012 in the Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity Journal shows 16 adults using green coffee bean extract lost an average of 17 lb in just 22 weeks. It’s believed that chlorogenic acid slows absorption of fat from food intake and also boosts metabolism of extra fat. Evidently, it may be a better source of chlorogenic acid than traditional brewed coffee.
Q: What about coffee’s effect on the Big C?A: Researchers are quick to point out that cancer-fighting antioxidants (in both caffeinated and decaf) may help lower the risk of developing some cancers, including breast, prostate and liver. Antioxidants in coffee act as disease-fighters to hinder the cancer process and reduce certain cancers.
Q: What’s an interesting fact about coffee that most people don’t know?A: You can cook and bake with coffee. You can incorporate coffee in recipes like Cappuccino Biscotti, Thai Coffee Spiced Chicken Sates, Coffee Cheesecake and Maple Espresso.
Q: What are coffee’s benefits for weight loss?A: Coffee can provide extra energy to help you exercise (burning calories and boosting metabolism at rest), and help to stave off muscle aches and pains after a workout. Also, caffeine in coffee can act as a natural diuretic, increasing the amount of urine you’ll excrete by temporarily losing pounds or water weight. What’s more, coffee can help women and men get and stay slim because it contains caffeine—and may beat bloat as well as keep you regular. But note, it’s a cup of regular coffee that can help you lose the unwanted pounds, not the junk added to coffee. That means stay clear of creams, flavored syrups, whipped cream, half-and-half and whole milk.
Q: How much coffee do you need to reap the benefits?A: The exact amount varies, depending on your heart health and tolerance. Some doctors believe if you have any heart problems or anxiety woes, stick to decaf or one cup of coffee per day. Other coffee gurus do not have a problem with drinking three cups of coffee per day—and that was the average for Americans back in the 1950s. If you’re concerned about caffeine, drink decaf.
Q: Can drinking coffee really be heart healthy?A: According to research, drinking two cups of coffee daily could reduce heart failure by 11%. Researchers didn’t determine why, but evidence suggests regular coffee drinkers may build a tolerance to caffeine, lowering their risk of high blood pressure. The antioxidants in coffee may also help to lower the risk of high blood pressure and cho- lesterol. However, unfiltered coffee and brewing in a French press or percolator may raise cholesterol.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Canada Affair to Write About

By Cal Orey

Vancouver Canada is a fine destination
Today, I find myself getting all my ducks in a row much like my Aussie tries to do with my cat and other dogs. Next week I depart the Sierra and head to British Columbia. This trip came to me. After all, a Canadian Coffee and Tea Show press pass spawned the adventure...and then, other invites followed. So, it is in motion. The only glitches are feeling separation from my two dogs and cat. But this morning I was told that the boys do well--probably better than I do! So, I found this post last year before I left for the PNW. Guess preliminary jitters are part of the game. I can do this because I did it before; this time other places to go, modes of transportation, lodging are a bit different to take me out of my comfort zone and add excitement, yeah it's a bit like that...
Seattle is my first and foremost stop
Decided no way am I taking a ferry to Victoria in the Pacific Northwest winter! After talking to locals on the phone, they're telling me grueling tales of choppy water to storms tagged "Seasick City"!  Plan B, a turboprop was off my table of viable modes of transporation to Victoria after a quick online search to verify my gut instincts about small aircraft in the wintertime. This fall-cold bug is a kick of reality and blessing in disguise. Yep, I will go to Seattle for the book signing; and the next day take the train to Vancouver, Canada--done. I made up my mind during this bout of a cold. I will pass on nightmare-ish plane and boat rides.  

On Saturday night I felt feverish and my throat was raspy. Come Sunday the aches from head to toe hit. A cold-flu paid me a visit. Was it getting up in the early morning every day to feed the cat and let my dog duo do their business and enjoy their breakfast? Or perhaps it was the weekend neighbors who left their flood light on all night, forcing me to play the character in that film "Insomnia" trying to barricade the windows for needed darkness to sleep. Maybe I didn't wash my hands after store runs. And there is always the chance it was our temps plummeting to 28 degrees and soaring to the upper 60s in the day.  Welcome to cold season--it's a sign.

What was I thinking? On the weekend in between sneezing and drinking herbal tea and honey for my sore throat, using a heating pad for my aching back, I booked a flight and hotel for my trip to Seattle in January. At first, I announced it would be a Barnes and Noble reading/signings in Bellevue, then onto Vancouver via train. In my mind and to friends, I didn't stop. I boasted that I was going to hop onto the chartered bus for 1 1/2 hours to catch a B.C. ferry and in another hour or two be on an island--Victoria.  Then, a few days later, it would be back on the cold, choppy winter waters (providing they didn't shut down due to poor windy conditions)  to catch the bus, train, and two plane rides, shuttle bus, cab to my cozy warm home. Am I crazy? Do I want to work hard to land on a strange island when I live in paradise?

Why in the world would I bundle up and bundle all this traveling in the wintertime? Maybe if I didn't get this cold I'd feel more adventurous. I sense this pesky bug is a cue from the weather gods whispering to me: "You are not 21! Yes, you are normally healthy and have energy but be sensible!" So, I negotiated in my mind: "The flight plan will include a cab to the shuttle bus onto Reno for a flight to Utah then onto Seattle...another cab ride to Bellevue. A few days in Washington, then a cab to the train and four hours later in Canada. That is a long, long trek. Done!"
Back to SLC Airport is just the
tip of the journey

After all, I vowed to revisit B.C. all by myself, not with an incompatible travel mate. I will revisit Vancouver Aquarium as well as enjoy the diversity of the city, organic food markets, and swim at the hotel in a foreign city. No need to get onto a ferry and weather the elements to get onto an island. Water will be all around me. I live in the mountains with a cold climate in the winter that includes shoveling snow and making fires. Why do I want to work harder than I have to during a business-vacation? 

People travel to Tahoe in the winter...   I won't be gone for long
Why would I go to Whistler when I have snow here
Saving Victoria and the fickle ferry for a fall time getaway. Gosh, dealing with a cold-flu virus is not fun. It would be easier with one cat. True, my dogs give me so much but at times, like now when I don't feel my energetic self, it's like taking care of two-year-old twins. But as my grandma used to say: "This too shall pass." And then I will continue to envision my trip to Seattle and Canada. That is doable and will suffice.  Caveat: If the weather is dry and the wind is calm (I forecast it will not be), I may change my mind in a heartbeat and book a B.C. ferry for the thrill of experiencing Victoria.
Coming back home to Tahoe--my home--complete with snow, a crackling fire in the fireplace, swimming at the resort pool in early mornings (to dodge ski-goers) and cuddling up with the fur kids will be nice, too. It's mindful to save Victoria for a crisp autumn day. Where is my heating pad? The Brittany and Aussie are staring at me again. They want more food, a walk. I feel sicker than a dog. Fine. I'm getting up.  

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Anticipation of Fall Events

By Cal Orey

Good afternoon. This morning I got up earlier than later to get back into my morning swims at a resort pool. After a cup of Joe, dogs fed and needs tended to, sweats and suit on, en route to my destination I'm awake. The reward is bliss. But despite my swim and hot tub activity, I'm a bit sleepy. The nights at Lake Tahoe are getting chilly, windows closed, heater kicks on, flannel sheets are on, and it was a two dog and one cat night and tea. But I'm loving it...

Fall is Near: Yes, it's a few more days and autumn will be official. I almost baked apple cranberry muffins but no cinnamon. The idea to use cinnamon tea crossed my mind but I decided a store run is in the cards. Still tired...I got five or six hours of sleep. And, of course, a radio program was on my brain during the seasonal transition. I was a guest on the Michelle Dawn Mooney Midday 1450 AM in Atlantic City. (I need a cat nap.) 
High Tea in Vancouver is my bliss
The questions were great. In fact, the 15 minute spot ended up to be about 30 minutes, give or 
take. We dished on the Healing Powers series--vinegar, coffee, chocolate, and honey since it's National Honey Month. We did not talk olive oil--I did bring it to the table--but everything else (from my honey bubble bath to trip to B.C. next month). It was fun. I had fun. I believe the listeners were entertained by my Debra Winger raspy "soothing" voice, off the cuff remarks, and animated surprise remarks.

The Change: Sensitives like me, can feel the seasons change more than humans who aren't so touchy. I can feel the change in the air, see the pine needles on the ground, color of leaves are turning yellow, squirrels are busy, companion animals affectionate for warmth, and the absence of tourists is all about. Sadly, the drought is too visible as the sand on the beaches show too much ground, not enough water. 
My oasis off season
And enter El Nino. I did write up a story on this event as well as the California Firestorm. My editor decided to go with the latter first which makes sense. Life in the Golden State always promises Mother Nature's surprises--and this upcoming season should be no different. I need tea. 
Awake in Seattle Come October
And if the wildfires in Northern California weren't enough drama, the poor air quality added fuel to the events. Worse, a great earthquake hit Chile yesterday afternoon (right after I did a Google search about being in a high rise hotel and tsunamis); upgraded to 8.4, tsunami advisories were put into action for Chile, Hawaii, and parts of California. No major waves for our states but some flooding for Chile did happen. It could have been more of a disaster than it was; not to play down the outcome.

Next week it's back to the dentist to finish the chipped back molar, get the roots zapped, send off taxes, finish fall cleaning, and prepare for the departure to Canada. I love going. I love being there. But the twists and turns to do it is a lot of work. Note to self: Print out itineraries.
And so it goes... How do I break the news to the dogs? Mommy is going to catch a jet plane and go to the Canadian Coffee and Tea Show--silence. Woof.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Honey? It's Time for High Tea

* Are you going to the Canadian Coffee and Tea Show?
Tea(s) with Your Honey
HIgh Tea at fave Hotel in Vancouver, B.C.
After experiencing my freewheeling days in sunny Southern California, from the multiple beachesto mountains and the desert—places honey bees are found—I took a trip to Catalina Island west of Long Beach. The destination was the rustic Zane Grey Pueblo Hotel overlooking Avalon Bay and the quaint town touted for its cosmopolitan feel. Inside the Desert Gold room—the study of the American novelist—was a sweet treat--like a poem but not poetry in motion...
Where's the Honey?
The first morning I walked down the stairs to the charming swimming pool area overlooking Avalon Bay. I was greeted with a continental breakfast, including fresh apples, bananas, oranges, coffee and tea. My dream in paradise was disturbed like a bee colony being bothered by an intruder when I couldn’t find it: “Where’s the honey?” I said out loud to myself. Eating toast and sipping tea without nature’s sweetest gift is similar to be served a slice of apple pie without vanilla ice cream. But I survived.
            These days, at Lake Tahoe, I do get my Mediterranean fix without leaving the sierra.  It’s the Mediterranean foods, the resort where I swim—and honey, the common sweetener of the Mediterranean diet that keep me at peace without traveling like a forager.  And a cup of tea and honey maintains that Mediterranean feeling…

          For centuries, people all around the world have enjoyed the simple, soothing pleasures of a good cup of tea with a good teaspoon of honey, and nowadays there is more reason to so do. Black and green teas are not only good tasting, especially with honey, but together they pack a punch of nutritional and health benefits.
            Herbal teas come from a variety of plants other than the tea plant. They are made from leaves, berries, flowers, fruits and bark of herbs and spices. Although most herbal teas do not contain the antioxidant properties of “real” tea—black, green, oolong , white and red—paired with antioxidant-rich honey they do possess a wallop of good-for-your compounds that can enhance your health and well-being.
            Another new feature on the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid is the addition of herbs, like spices, for reasons of both health and taste. Also, herbs contribute to the Mediterranean dishes.
            Medical doctors, nutritionists, scientists and beekeepers are now confirming what healers have been saying for since biblical times—teas and honeys have a variety of healing powers.

             SWEET SIPS
            Here are my favorite tea and honey marriages—but there are infinite combinations for both you and me to try. There is no right or wrong combination and what’s sweet to you makes honey-tea beverages a sweet sip.
1. Black Tea:  The first tea I was introduced to was basic black tea—which does contain caffeine—and I have enjoyed it plain but realized it did need a sweet flavor boost to it.  Also, Earl Grey and English breakfast teas (perfect for an Irish breakfast, complete with fried potatoes, scrambled eggs, and scones) are part of the Black Tea group.
Best Honey Matches:  Basswood has a distinct flavor that I’ve used in plain yogurt for a rich flavor and it can give black tea a kick, too. Sourwood boasts a caramel taste that can make a common black tea come to life with taste. Earl Grey teams well with avocado, blueberry, and eucalyptus honeys, too. It’s more exotic and exciting than just a simple all-purpose clover honey that comes without pleasant surprises.
2. Green Tea:  Touted for its wide array of health virtues, this Asian tea does contain caffeine, like black tea, but not as much. It’s an acquired taste and that’s where honey comes into play so you can get the best of taste and nutritional benefits. 
Best Honey Matches:  Blueberry honey has a fruity taste which can give a nice kick to green tea, not the most flavorful tea.  Sage honey is mild, a California favorite of mine that brings out the best of green tea.
3.  Fruit Tea—Welcome to lemon, orange, rose hips, and apple teas. These fruity teas are sweet and sometimes tart, which call for a honey sidekick.
Best Honey Matches:  Mild flavored honeys such as sage and alfalfa brings out the best in fruit teas because it doesn’t overpower the fruity taste but maintains the integrity of the fruit flavor.
4. Herbal Tea—Herbal teas come from a variety of plants other than the tea plant. They are made from the leaves, berries, flowers, fruits and bark of herbs and spices.
Although most herbal teas do not contain the antioxidant properties of real tea, they do possess other good-for-you compounds that can enhance your health and well-being. There is a wide range of herbal teas, including ginseng, cinnamon, licorice, and mint.
Rooibos (roy-boss) is the “new” herbal tea on the block—that is often called “Red Tea.” Like green and black teas, this tea contains antioxidants that make it heart-healthy and immune-enhancing—and it’s caffeine free.
Best Honey Matches: Teaming earthy and warm herbal teas go well with a mild alfalfa, clover, orange blossom, and sage honeys—common honeys that complement distinct herbal flavors. 
5. Oolong Tea—This tea, popular in Asian countries, contains health perks of both black and green teas. A robust flavored-tea that can have a sweet taste lends to different honeys. 
Best Honey Matches: Oolong, not a tea familiar to me, was easy to try with a friendly California orange blossom honey with its citrusy sweet taste. Another oolong mate is tupelo honey its light amber color and herbal, fruity flavors.
6. White Tea—And last but not least welcome to this pale tea. Found in China it is believed to rank number one for its antioxidants. It’s a bit sweet and mellow. It’s the new tea on the block for tea lovers.
Best Honey Matches:  Fireweed honey is light colored and smooth, like white tea—the two complement each other. Wildflower, one of my favorite mild honeys also goes nicely with white tea.
            As a devout tea drinker, I believe choice of honey and tea is a personal choice—like pairing dark chocolate with different fruits, herbs and spices. The selection also depends on the season to your mood. But popular and friendly honeys, such as clover and orange blossom are suitable any time, any place because they are not too strong and will not overpower teas—all types—and you can’t go wrong for yourself or if you’re serving other people.

            Tea and honey has played a starring role in my life, decade after decade…
In my twenties:  I recall in Hollywood, California, I was a carefree unpublished author. My best friend and I would frequent a popular hotel-coffee shop on Sunset Boulevard and order spicy cinnamon tea and pair it with honey while we waited  for our tossed green salads and to be discovered.
In my thirties:  In San Francisco, as a penniless graduate student, after class, and on-spec writing assignments I’d visit my dentist in the Financial District. Tea was offered in the waiting room. I’d sip orange pekoe with a bit of honey to calm dental jitters until I was called into the dental chair.
In my forties:  During this passage of my life, I was a busy magazine journalist. Black tea with its caffeine content was the drink of choice as I met deadline after deadline. Also, in between writing, looking for Mr. Soul Mate was on my plate during tea and honey blind dates. The tea kept me centered and coming home to my best friend: My loyal Labrador.
In my fifties:  Life as a solo author-intuitive living in the sierra, drinking chamomile tea and honey were my trusty companions. In the summer it’s citrus tea with sage honey; the fall is herbal tea and alfalfa tea; wintertime black and green tea with orange blossom tea; during the spring its fruit teas and clover honey.
            As I look back on the years of tea and honey, it’s clear that this beverage has been brought me comfort. Several years ago, before I penned the book, The Man Who Predicts Earthquakes: Jim Berkland, Maverick Geologist (Sentient Publications, 2006), the nature-loving  scientist paid me a visit to my cabin at Lake Tahoe. For five hours, we chatted about his past and present earthquake predictions. In between bites of cheese, French bread, cheesecake, and chamomile tea, we discussed what was shaking around the nation.
            Today, if I’d serve these foods, I’d give it a worldly twist with honey varietals in my pantry. I’d provide avocado honey for the cheese and French bread. The cheesecake would be drizzled with a blueberry or lemon honey; and for the calming chamomile? I’d offer a cinnamon and clove tea or orange blossom from California—full of fault lines we discussed like old friends we experienced.  The potpourri of honeys would have added an earthy sophistication to the European-style buffet I created for the man who predicts quakes and taught me how to tune into my intuition and do it, too. Thank goodness for tea and honey—the two friends that have kept me company, calm, and skinny throughout the years.
Excerpt from The Healing Powers of Honey  

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Honeymania for Your Mind, Body, and Spirit

September is National Honey Month!
National Honey Month is a celebratory and promotional event held annually during the month of September. Its purpose is to promote US beekeeping, the beekeeping industry and honey as a natural and beneficial sweetener.
The awareness month was initiated by The National Honey Board (a US government established, USDA-overseen, organization) in 1989. September is significant for honey producers as it is the month that marks the end of the honey collection season for many beekeepers in the United States. *
 By Cal Orey

Buy the Book (Click)
v  Eating honey can help lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes—even help reduce body fat and unwanted weight!—and increase longevity.
v  Pure, raw, unprocessed honey is a healthier sweetener than table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. It’s chock-full of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins—and only has 21 calories per teaspoon.
v  Super “bee foods” (including nutrient-rich bee pollen, propolis, and royal jelly) are used and touted for their healing powers by beekeepers and medical experts in the present-day.
v  Honey can relieve a variety of ailments, including coughs, colds, fatigue, pain, and seasonal affective disorder, as well as boost libido.
v  You’ll also enjoy Cleopatra’s milk-and-honey beauty treatments and eco-friendly beeswax household uses—all made with the amazing honey bee’s gifts!

 * * *
The Vanishing Honey Bees
“If the bee disappears off the surface of the globe then man would only have
four years of life left.”

–Albert Einstein
On September 26, the UK’s Daily Mail reported the chilling story that up to 12 million bees dropped dead from hundreds of apiaries in the Brevard County, Florida. Local beekeepers and authorities pinpointed pesticides (perhaps from spraying one night by a helicopter for mosquito control) as the culprit. These bees within a one-and-half-mile distance died at the same time and were found on the premises.
So, while this chilling story is about the demise of honey bees and their beekeepers, is the honeymoon over and how will the absence of this insect affect our planet? Here are some questions and answers, straight from experts I interviewed for my book The Healing Powers of Honey: A Complete Guide to Nature’s Remarkable Nectar! And the problem has humans in the U.S. and around the globe buzzing.

5 Questions:
Where Have All the Honey Bees Gone?

Q. Colony Collapse Disorder was excluded as a cause of the dead bees in the Florida incident. So, what exactly is this term?
A. Back in 2006, an apiary owner in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, made the problem known. Penn State researchers took note of the bee colony decline, due to a condition now known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). This condition causes honey bee colonies to simply vanish without a trace—go AWOL leaving their hives in the dust—lending to eerie images of The Happening and I Am Legend sci-fi films of human and animal extinction.
Q. What are some of the theories behind CCD?
A. Theories include climate change, diet, mites, pesticides, and viruses. Also, the stress of traveling for pollination of crops and the usage of cell phones (perhaps due to the radiation) are in the mixed bag of possibilities for why the bees are vanishing and leaving their beekeepers out of work and shocked by losing half or more of their prized colonies to an unknown cause.
Q. How will the die-off of the honey bee affect our food chain?
A. Millions of acres of U.S. fruit, vegetable, oilseed, and legume crops depend on insect pollination—and that includes the sacred honey bees. This little insect gives human gifts from the hive but also helps pollinate our crops, home gardens, and wildlife habitat. And don’t forget most beef and dairy products enjoyed in the United States count on insect-pollinated legumes, such as alfalfa and clover. Worse, if the bee disappears our food chain would decline in diversity and quantity, and images of the futuristic doomsday films without fresh food like Soylent Green and The Road could become a grave reality.
Q. What are scientists doing about CCD?
A. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is trying to help get a handle on Colony Collapse Disorder. In 2010 it dished out $6 million in emergency assistance to beekeepers who had lost their bees. And scientists are busy at work trying to discover what exactly is causing the vanishing of honey bees.
            California bee expert Dr. Eric Mussen of UC Davis says, “None of us know why the bees are not as vital as they used to be. In many cases this may be due to limited access to a good varied supply of pollens.” He hopes in our lifetime scientists will discover what is killing the honey bees. “But,” he adds, “even if we find the cause, will we be able to overcome it?”

Q. What can you do to help keep the honey bee alive and well?
A. Devote a portion of your property to growing annual and perennial plants the bloom consecutively over the whole season that honey bees are collecting nectar and pollens for food. Reduce the pesticides of all kinds to a minimum.  In areas with extended dry periods, supply fresh water in a way so that visiting bees don’t become a nuisance.
Consider donating funds to bee researchers around the country who are trying to determine the cause of CCD and what can be done to bolster the bee populations.  Support honey bee research at UC Davis:

* * *

7 cups cooked and mashed sweet potatoes                1 cup Savannah Bee
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg                                        Company Orange
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon                                     Blossom Honey
2 tablespoons vanilla extract                                      4 jumbo eggs
2 teaspoons lemon juice                                              2 deep-dish pie shells
2 ¼ cups sugar

            Preheat oven to 350 F. Place sweet potatoes, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, lemon, juice, sugar, Savannah Bee Company Orange Blossom Honey, and eggs in large bowl. Blend ingredients together until they are thoroughly mixed. Equally distribute the sweet potato mix into the pie shells. Place some aluminum foil on and around the edges of the pie shells so the crust will not burn when the pies are baked. Place pies in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before serving. Serve with whipped cream. Makes 2 pies/16 to 20 servings.

(Source: Courtesy Savannah Bee Company.)

 Since the honey bee and mankind are connected because of our food chain, it makes sense to dish out a spoonful of honey trivia to show you just the honey bee is a un-bee-lievable man’s best friend (click for amazing trailer). Take a look at these ten factoids that’ll get you thinking about the amazing small creature and what it can do.
It takes about two million flowers for honey bees to tap to make one pound of honey.
1. The average honey work bee makes a mere 1/12 teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.
2. Utah is known as the beehive state.
3. Honey bees communicate by dancing. The waggle dance alerts other bees where the nectar and pollen are.
4. A honey bee must tap about 2 million flowers to make one pound of honey.
5. On average, each person in the United States consumes about 1.31 pounds of honey each year.
6. The USDA estimates that there are approximately 3 million honey producing colonies in the United States.
7. It would take about two tablespoon to fuel a bee’s flight around the world.
8. A worker bee visits about 50-100 flowers during each trip
9.  A honey bee flies about 15 miles per hour.
10. A hive of bees flies more than 55,000 miles to bring you one pound of honey.
(Source: National Honey Board)

            As you can see, the remarkable honey bee flies the extra mile so it can produce honey—a superfood (a food that has super health benefits) for people, like you and me—that can be enjoyed solo or in a cup of tea or both. Here is a perfect recipe to whip up and savor with a cup of tea and honey as you fly away with me on a journey into Honeyland. 

* * *
8 ounces raisins                                                     3 ounces set honey
½ pint freshly made strong tea                             2 eggs, size 3, lightly beaten
10 ounces whole wheat flour                                ½ teaspoon ground mixed spice
1 tablespoon baking powder

Place the raisins in a bowl. Stir the honey into the tea and pour this over raisins. Leave to soak for 2 hours. Stir the eggs into the raisin mixture. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the flour with spice and baking powder then mix these dry ingredients into the raisin mixture. Transfer to a greased two pound loaf tin and bake for about 1 hour 10 minutes. Cook on a wire rack and serve sliced and buttered. Makes one two pound loaf.
(Courtesy: The Honey Association)

            Research, especially in the past decade, shows that quality, dark honeys, which are derived from a variety of flowers, plants, and trees produce the nectar for the honey around the globe—may help you to:
ü  Lower your risk of heart disease.
ü  Enhance your immune system.
ü  Stave off diabetes.
ü  Treat respiratory diseases.
ü  Heal wounds.
ü  Slow the aging process.
ü  Add years to your life.
* Wikipedia facts