I try to make it a regular practice to blow my kids' minds. It is a necessity in our sort of household, I think. A household in which TV time is strictly limited, video games are even more limited, candy is rare, and high-fructose corn syrup is viewed as suspiciously as if it were poison.
Being my child cannot be easy. Too much 'no' zaps the fun out of life, so we actively seek out the yeses.
Stove-top popcorn, hot cocoa made with real cocoa and raw sugar, spicy roasted chickpeas, crispy kale chips: these are the sorts of things that thrill both the kids and mama. Addictive, fun snacks do not have to be either unhealthy or highly-processed. And there is a time and place for everything, of course, with sweets free-for-alls around birthdays and holidays, and kids' movies from the library for lazy Sunday afternoons spent lounging on the couch.
It is a delicate balance.
Hence, the great fun we have when mind-blowing moments arise. The first time the kids had kale chips? Minds successfully blown. The occasional batch of homemade vanilla ice cream? Epic blowing of the mind. A tea party with a warm, sweetened lemon-lime ginger drink that mama views as actually healthy? Hip, hip hooray to a brand-new mind blowing.
Oh, truth be told, I wasn't even sure the kids would enjoy this concoction. I made it for myself, as part of my usual wintertime quest for restorative foods and drinks, and I thought it would be lovely for those days around the learning table when I am feeling frustrated and chilled and out-of-sorts. It was, of course, lovely for all those reasons.
I found the recipe at Beauty That Moves, and her description - 'please fix what ails me beverage' - was exactly the sort of turn of a phrase that calls my name. So I quickly made a batch, knowing a friend was on her way over, and she and I could tuck into a small pot of this in no time. It was a beautiful kind of perfect. Barely sweet, just a wee bit tart, and slightly spicy from the fresh ginger. It was calming and warming, clean-tasting and bright, and if it were a perfume, I would dab it behind my ears.
I made the first batch using honey, as called for in the original recipe, but when I made it again the next day, I used agave nectar, and I liked it even more. Agave nectar is a thing of wonder, if you are not familiar with it. Often used in place of honey, with a similar but slightly more neutral taste, agave nectar has a low glycemic index, thus having less of an effect on blood sugar than many other sweeteners. It is also vegan and unrefined, making it a fabulous ingredient to keep on hand in a natural foods pantry.
It also helps that I do not feel terribly guilty letting my children guzzle down a drink sweetened with a just a wee bit of agave nectar. Which is good, because once they tried this drink, they were hooked. With vitamin C from the lemons and limes, and the anti-inflammatory effects (amongst other health benefits) of ginger, I can make this for them almost as often as they want, and we can all feel good about it.
I think natural sodas might be next on the child-mind-blowing agenda. Stay tuned, kids.
WARM LEMON-LIME GINGERADE (adapted from Beauty That Moves), serves 4
- 4 cups water
- 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated fine
- juice of 1 lemon
- juice of 1 lime
- 2 to 3 Tbs agave nectar, or 1/4 cup honey, sweetened to taste
- Pour water into saucepan, and bring to a boil.
- Add grated ginger, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Turn off heat, add lemon and lime juice, and the sweetener, and cover the pan. Let steep for 10 minutes.
- Strain if desired (I do not bother - we rather enjoy the tiny wisps of ginger left in the mixture). Serve hot, warm, or cold. It is delicious at every temperature.