Hot herb cider

When the weather turns chilly…Hot Herb Cider

When the weather turns chilly, blankets, fireplaces and warm drinks are often sought out to provide comfort. I haven’t had a fire place, so I’ve relied on blankets, warm drinks and my sauna to take away the chill. Hot Herb Cider is a delicious warm addition to some of my favorite teas: ginger, rooibos, green and tulsi. Another warm drink I love to include in my fall and winter days is warm Golden Milk.

I keep teas and the golden milk spice blend on hand to have regularly, but I also like to doctor up unsweetened apple cider with cranberries, elderberries, cinnamon and herbs to make a warm herb cider that boosts the immune system and tastes wonderful. It also makes a lovely holiday drink. The benefits of the added ingredients make it desirable as a preventative measure during the cold and flu season.

Cranberries have been studied and shown to improve immune response, lower blood pressure and inflammation, and prevent certain types of cancer. They are a super source of antioxidants, vitamins B & C, minerals and fiber. Incorporating cranberries into your diet through drinks like this one or added to oatmeal, smoothies or blended with raspberries, orange and chia seeds to make a spread are ways to eat more of them and add these beneficial nutrients.

Elderberries have been used for hundreds of years to ease cold, flu and respiratory symptoms and improve immune response. They are high in potassium, calcium, vitamins A & C, and fiber. Elderberries should be cooked before using. In this recipe they are boiled in the cider. Elderberries are not readily available, but you might be able to find them at a fall farmers market or in the dried bulk herb section in health food stores. If not here’s an amazon link for dried elderberries I’ve used.

Cinnamon has been studied and shown to help lower blood sugar, cut risk of heart disease, is high in polyphenol antioxidants, and acts as a potent anti inflammatory.

Rosemary is a hardy herb that is a known source of antioxidants, iron, calcium and vitamin B-6. Traditionally it’s been used to alleviate muscle pain, improve memory and concentration, boost immune and circulatory function, reduce inflammation, and improve digestion and eye health. If you don’t grow your own herbs, you can usually find fresh herbs in the produce section of the grocery store.

Thyme is another hardy Mediterranean herb that has beneficial properties and has been used over the years to improve many symptoms. Thyme has strong antimicrobial properties that are effective against infectious bacteria. It has been studied and shown to be protective against certain cancers and is affective against the overgrowth of candida. It is also helpful for acne when used as a face wash or the oil added to face cream. Try infusing water or tea with added thyme sprigs.

Let me know if you try this cider.

Hot Herb Cider

Warming, delicious immune boosting drink.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Drinks
Keyword: apple cider, cranberries, elderberries, immune, rosemary, thyme
Servings: 6
Author: Chef Kim


  • pot


  • 4 cups unsweetened apple or cherry cider
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup cranberries fresh or frozen
  • 1/4 cup elderberries dried or fresh (optional)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks or 1 teaspoon of ground
  • 2 sprigs rosemary fresh (1T dried)
  • 2 sprigs thyme fresh (1 tsp dried)


  • Combine all in a pot and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Strain and serve warm. Reserve the berries and herbs*.
  • Store in a glass jar for up to a week.


The leftover chilled herb cider is nice when mixed with sparkling water and served over ice as a mocktail.
* The reserved berries and herbs can be blended together and mixed with a tablespoon or two of chia seeds and allowed to set and gel into a jam or spread and used in oatmeal, thumbprint cookies or baked goods.



Habiscus Ginger Spritzer

  • 3 inches fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon hibiscus petals / tea bag
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ vanilla bean pod, seeds removed (always save empty pods for flavoring) optional
  • Honey
  • 6 cups boiling water
  • Sparkling water

Add water to a pan along with the ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and vanilla pod and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and add the hibiscus petals / tea bagcold .  Steep for ten minutes, remove hibiscus and let the tea cool completely with the other spices remaining in the water. Leaving the hibiscus in longer will strengthen the tartness of the tea; keep steeping it with the remaining spices if you want it really tangy.

Add honey to taste, start with 1 tablespoon and add more to your liking.  Drink as is or combine equal parts cold tea and sparkling water for a spritzer. Add frozen cranberries to garnish. Cheers!

Golden Pumpkin Spice Honey

This recipe is so nice to have on hand for making quick warm spiced drinks to enjoy in place of your morning cup of coffee or as a relaxing evening cup of comfort.

  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon utmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon clove powder
  • 1/4 cup honey

Mix everything together in a small container and jar.

When ready to use, spoon 1 teaspoon into warm plant milk or hot water, stir and allow the spices to disperse andsteep for 5 minutes Enjoy!

this honey mixture can also be stirred into coffee, hot cocoa or drizzled over plant yogurt or baked apple dessert, or blended into a smoothie.

Berry Oat Mylk

Making your own oat mylk is so easy and economical. Adding berries takes it to a new level of enjoyment and can be frozen into popsicles.

  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups berries, your choice or use cherries, mango, kiwi or pineapple
  • softened dates, depending on the sweetness of fruit. I usually add 5 and adjust more after tasting if needed.
  • Adding spices/herbs that you like add a nice flavor variation (cinnamon, chili, cardamom, nutmeg, mint, basil, etc.)

Combine everything in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. You can drink it like this, but I prefer to strain out the remaining oat fiber and berry seeds, so I pour the mixture through a nut milk bag or fine strainer/sieve. Refrigerate and enjoy by the glassful, poured over granola or chopped fruit, or freeze in popsicle molds or ice cubes trays for frozen treat..


Got Mylk?

Plant milk is an alternative to dairy/cow milk, but the boxed brands are usually highly processed, come with unwanted ingredients and lack the true nutrition found in whole nuts, seeds or grains. Making your own can be quick and easy or it can take a period of time for soaking depending on the base you choose.  My favorite is quick and easy Cashew-Hemp Mylk. I just like the flavor blend that this has. But I have thrown in a couple Brazil nuts with hemp seeds and that is nice and creamy too. Home made oat and coconut mylk isn’t quite as creamy as a full nut/seed mylk mentioned above, but it definitely works in recipes and smoothies and is more budget friendly. Almond mylk takes longer because the almonds need to soak for about 8 hours before blending, whereas cashews, Brazil nuts and hemp seeds do not need to be presoaked for making mylk. To any of the recipes below, you can add a date or two for sweetness and a little vanilla if you want to flavor it.  I use a nut-milk bag that supports charities in Bali and created by a wonderful woman and chef I learned from.

Try the recipes below and let me know which you like best.

Cashew-Hemp Mylk

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds
  • 3 cups filtered water
  • Combine all in a blender and blend on high for about a minute, until smooth and creamy. Pour into a jar and keep refrigerated.  No need to strain or filter pulp. Should last about 5 days.

Almond Mylk

  • 1 cup almonds, cover with water and let soak for 8 hours
  • 3 cups filtered water
  • Drain almonds, rinse and add to a blender with 3 cups of water. Blend until smooth, about 1 minute. pour mylk through a mesh strainer or nut-milk bag to filter out the pulp. This is optional, but the almond pulp is very thick and will not give you a smooth mylk, but it’s your preference. Stored in the refrigerator, the mylk should keep for 5 days.

Oat Mylk

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 3 cups filtered water
  • Add oats and water to a blender and let soak for 15-30 minutes. Blend on high for about 30 seconds. Pour mylk through a mesh strainer or nut-milk bag. Store in a jar and refrigerate.

Coconut Mylk

  • 1 cup desiccated unsweetened coconut / dried coconut flakes
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • Blend coconut flakes and water in a blender until the coconut flakes are completely broken down. Strain milk through a nut-milk bag. Store the milk in a jar. Coconut pulp can be added to baked goods, smoothies or dried out and used as flour.Once you have your mylk, check out my other post on artisan mylks, turmeric golden milk, hot chocolate.

Make Your Own Plant Milk & Coffee Bar

I enjoy checking out plant-based cafes while I’m traveling internationally, on a road trip or even just surfing online.  Recently I found a cold-pressed juice bar offering different plant-based milks and I took it as a challenge to make my own variety to have on hand while my daughter was home for a month.

I wanted to have milk available for her daily green smoothies, but rather than sticking with plain nut/seed milks, we decided to make a  variety of flavors which turned out to be delicious. Coffee is a favorite, so incorporating coffee flavors into the milk variety was a no-brainer.  We tried these flavor combinations: Plain Almond, Vanilla Almond-Cashew-Hemp, Matcha latte,  Coffee Latte, Mocha, and Cacao milk. All Yummy!  My next batch will incorporate some herbs and roots, like ginger, turmeric, cardamom, pepper, lavender and more. It really can be an endless flavor adventure. So why not give it a try.

Combining nuts, seeds and even soaked grains, will also yield different tasting milks with different nutrient profiles. Here’s an oat milk recipe. Remember, variety is good, it allows your taste buds to develop and mature, but it also provides the body with a variety of nutrients, all important for building new and healthy cells.

Making milk is an easy process. By making a large batch, dividing and mixing in desired flavors,  you can have a variety on hand for the week.

I’ll walk you through what we did…

  • Soak 2 cups of almonds in pure water overnight.
  • In the morning, drain, rinse and add 1/2 of the nuts to a blender along with 4 cups of water and two pitted dates.  Blend on high for one minute.
  • Use a sieve or nut milk bag to filter the milk into a large jar, but keep the pulp.  Repeat with the remaining nuts, making two batches. (The reserved nut pulp can be saved and used in baking or blending with dates and spices to make raw cookies.)
  • Once your plain milk is made, decide how much you want to keep plain and use for the next couple days. It can be used in sauces, soups and smoothies.
  • We wanted to make  three cups of the milk into 1 cup of creamer and 4 cups of coffee latte. So we put 3 cups of plain milk back into blender, added 1/2 cup of cashews, 2 tablespoons of hemp seed and 1 teaspoon of vanilla and blended for a minute until smooth cream resulted. We poured off one cup into a jar to use as a creamer when desired. Poured the rest of the vanilla milk into a large jar and then added 2 cups of strong coffee into that same jar to make coffee latte.
  • With the remaining  plain almond milk, we divided that into three containers and added Matcha tea powder to one and blended that for a Matcha Latte. To another jar, we added an equal amount of coffee and a tablespoon of raw cacao powder and blended it to make a Mocha Latte.  To the final jar, 1-2 tablespoons of cacao powder and one more date blended to make a chocolate milk. All the milks can be enjoyed cold or warmed gently.
  • Be creative and add some spices and herbs but most of all, don’t feel deprived because you can create so much delicious goodness with nut and seed milks.
  • I really like green milk! Blend the plain milk with greens powder or fresh mixture of greens and ginger or turmeric. This is a great alternative and easy way to get a few extra greens in your day.
  • Other posts for different kinds of milk include this turmeric post and berry oat milk.


Turning to Turmeric

Here are a couple recipes to enhance your health using this powerful and delicious spice. Fresh or powdered, Turmeric can boost your immune system and curb inflammation.  There have been over a hundred scientific studies done to determine its powerful potential as an anti-cancer nutrient and has been shown to be superior in its ability to reduce systemic inflammation.  So finding ways to incorporate this spice into your daily routine can serve up some serious medicinal side affects.  Food as medicine is the best way to improve your health. Pairing the turmeric with a little black pepper in recipes will increase its absorption in the body giving you a better outcome.  Some studies indicate that the concentration of insoluble oxalates in turmeric could be troublesome for people with an oxalate sensitivity or who are prone to kidney stones, and should not consume more than 1 Tablespoon of turmeric a day.

Golden Almond Milk

  • 2 cups of plant milk (almond, cashew, hemp, oat)
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • pinch of black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small pan and whisk until combined. Warm over med-low heat until warmed through. This can also be combined in a blender and blended on high for two minutes until warm. Serve in a mug and enjoy!

Golden Raw Overnight Oats

  • One recipe of Golden Almond Milk
  • 1 cup gluten free rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup sunflower or pumpkin seeds or mixture
  • dried fruit of your choice ( cherries, figs, raisins, goji berries)
  • fresh fruit of your choice ( banana, apple, mango, orange, berries)

Place oats and seeds in a mixing bowl or large jar. Pour milk over oats and mix well. Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, take your desired amount of soaked oats and seeds and place in a bowl. Top with your favorite fresh and dried fruits.  Easy and Yummy!

Turmeric Almond Balls

  • 1 cup of almond butter ( can substitute another nut or seed butter)
  • 1 Tablespoon of turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 -1/2 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds or sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts or pumpkin seeds

In a mixing bowl, combine the almonds butter, spices and honey. Mix well. Then add in the remaining ingredients and stir well to mix.  Form into balls.  Dough should hold together when pressed, if too sticky add more oats or seeds. These are great as travel snacks, on the go, in lunches to as an after school /work snack.

Hot Cocoa Evolution

As you may already know, I love warm drinks once the temperatures drop below 45. So I’ve been experimenting with making warm drinks that pack a nutritional punch. This one starts out as pure indulgence, but then morphs as the leftovers evolve into a nutrient rich treat. So come along on this delicious journey….

I really wanted a hot cup of Cocoa, so instead of making nut milk and warming it on the stove and mixing in cacao powder and coconut sugar, I decided to try making in totally in the blender. So I chose to use cashews and Brazil nuts for the milk base and added to the blender one cup total of the mixed nuts. Then I add 3 cups of pure water, a half cup of good quality bittersweet chocolate chips or a chopped bar (70%+ cocoa, and only cocoa butter, cocoa, and cane sugar or stevia. I like Theo and CocoPolo). You could also use cacao powder in place of the chocolate bar. If using powder, you’ll need to add some sweetness, so honey, stevia or coconut sugar are my top choices. Then I add a teaspoon of vanilla and blend for two minutes. The friction created in the blender, heats the mixture and creates four to five cups of lovely hot cocoa. (You can decrease the amounts for less, but then you wont have any leftovers to evolve.)

So I drank a cup and shared a cup, ooh la la! But I had leftovers, so I placed that in a jar and put in the fridge.  Later I was in the mood to experiment again so I made a hot cup of Rooibos tea, added the tea to the leftover cocoa, put in a 1/4 teaspoon of cardamom and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and blended that until warm. I enjoyed another warming elixir, good for the soul and immune system.  Then with leftovers from this, I added some oats and chia seeds to a jar, poured the leftover drink into the jar, sealed it and gave it a shake and allowed it to sit for a couple minutes and then shook it again. Placed it in the fridge and there it stayed overnight,

The next morning I had a Cocoa Rooibos Oat Chia Pudding for breakfast. I topped it with some chopped nuts and dried fruit and…Delish!

Next time I plan to add some superfood powders like maca and ashwaganda. These usually get into my smoothies, but I want to add them to my hot drinks for their added benefits of energy and stress modulation.

I hope this gave you some ideas you can take away to treat yourself to some goodness and make multiple uses from one recipe starting point.

Super Boosting Red and Green Tea

This is a powerful and delicious combination to increase your digestive function and feed the the ‘good guys’ in your gut.  You want your gut microflora to be in the best possible form as you enter into this holiday season. Stress, rushing through meals, extra sugar and treats, all things we often experience more of this time of year, really can wreak havoc on our digestion.  When we aren’t digesting and absorbing properly,  the way we feel is affected. So this easy-peasy deliciously warm concoction hits the mark by stimulating digestive secretions, providing polyphenols for optimal gut microflora and ant microbials to keep candida and the bad guys in check, melatonin so to help regulate our body’s light sensors, intense phytonutrients for cellular health and deliciousness to satisfy the taste buds.  All Good!

Brew a cup of Jasmin Green Tea, allow tea to steep for 5 minutes, covered.  Add one Tablespoon of Tart Cherry Concentrate, the juice from 1/2 lemon, and 2 teaspoons of local raw honey.

I like warm drinks this time of year, but this can certainly be enjoyed cool or on ice, or even blended into a slushy.