Sleep eludes me. I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm an insomniac. It's more that there is so much I want to do, I just don't want to wind down at the end of the day. Add in the factor that it is not the easiest thing for me to shut down the ol' brain and there's a recipe for lying awake for hours thinking about the things I will do tomorrow.
While sleepy time might be when I'm planning world domination, I'd really love to find a peaceful and restful slumber without fighting sleep with every blink of my eyes. I've tried medications and they just make me sleep for far too long, or worse yet, I've found myself unable to really move but my mind is still racing. Ack! My thyroid has been checked and I've had a psych evaluation. I don't drink caffeine late in the evening. For all intents and purposes, medically at least, I'm normal. I just think too much when I could be resting. Often, at night, I'll wake up with an idea and if I don't get it on paper or even wander into the studio to rough it out, I won't get back to sleep for worrying I'll forget it. I process much when I'm sleeping, and that's ok, it's the getting to sleep part that is so darn frustrating.
Since the holidays, I've purposely made down time in the evening before going to bed. Years ago, a friend made a wonderful turmeric and milk concoction that was somewhat like chai tea but without the caffeine since there was no tea. I could never remember what she told me was in it beyond turmeric. It intrigued me because she said her grandmother, from New Delhi, used to make it for her after she ran in cross country races because she said it helped with relaxation, muscle spasms and muscle aches. I have no idea if that is actually true or not, but mind over matter has worked well and often for me, so even if it isn't a medical truth, I'll stick with brain power for determining my outcome on this one.
One morning, remembering that long ago discussion about turmeric, I was researching the benefits, hoping it would help the tension in my muscles after a day of making pottery. I stumbled across a recipe for a turmeric milk night time drink. After a bit more searching, I found a few more. Each one is as different as each recipe of chai tea, but the core basics were consistent. I've tweaked that core recipe to come up with my own and would love to share it with you.
There are loads of potential health benefits to virtually all of the ingredients and a quick google search will yield a wealth of information. I'm not going to list them all here because you'd be reading a long and mildly boring novella on holistic and ayervedic healing that I'm simply not qualified to expound on. If you want to know the benefits, seek your own path. If you just want a tasty drink, I'm not promising the world, here, just a tasty drink with ingredients that research suggests reduce inflammation and aid relaxation.
Whether you have a hard time settling down in the evening, or you just like a little pampering down time, it's worth a taste. If you like chai tea, you're likely to enjoy this. If you're missing an ingredient, don't worry about it. Just play around and make it your own. If you love, love, love cinnamon, add more. If you just hate anise, don't put it in (though I have to say you're unlikely to really taste it, it just gives the drink a bit of necessary sharpness in my opinion). Just play. The only thing you really need are a big handmade mug (because handmade is best), a tea strainer of some sorts or a mesh strainer, a sauce pan and a wooden spoon. Beyond those tools, it's fair game.
Now put on your fuzzy pants, a cozy sweater and pick out your favorite mug. It's time to make something tasty. It's time to relax and give yourself a much needed break.
My nighttime concoction:
- 2 cups milk (approximately. I just fill my favorite mug for my measurement)
- 1/4 teaspoon Turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick
- 1-2 green Cardamom pods crushed (or a pinch of dried cardamom)
- fresh ground black pepper (I do about 8-10 twists of the grinder)
- 1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- Star Anise - 1 star or a pinch of dried anise powder (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon Vanilla powder
- Honey to taste
In a small saucepan on low, pour the milk from your mug, add Turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, pepper and ginger. If you're adding anise as well, this would be the time to add it. Stir gently and bring it to just before boiling. If you leave it unattended for too long, the icky milk skin may form on the top. I consider this gentle stirring a bit of the process of starting to slow down and relax. Watching this liquid as you gently weave the spoon back and forth can be a bit mesmerizing.
Once the concoction is heated, add the vanilla and honey to taste.
Next, I strain it all back into the mug. Sometimes I use a tea steeper with a filter, other times I just use a mesh tea strainer that sits on top of the mug. Honestly, it depends on what's clean at the moment. I'm not going to stress over this step, so long as all the bits and pieces are strained out.
Now it's time to settle down. Turn off your devices (says the girl typing this out while sipping her own nighttime brew). Dim the lights. Have a cookie if you need a little sweet. Enjoy the intense golden color of your all natural beverage. I like a nice oatmeal cookie or a matcha kitkat bar with mine. Relax, breathe deeply and sip until it's gone.