Family remedies

 Cloves, star anise, and cinnamon sticks

Cloves, star anise, and cinnamon sticks

I grew up with the old fashioned grandmother. Nanny grew her own food, raised chickens out back, wore an apron most of the day, hummed old gospel hymns over collard greens and black eyed peas, made dumplins from scratch, and frogs legs on special occasions. 

Culture is critical to one's foundation. It stays with you long after folks pass on, long after the lessons end. 

Maybe it's that I am the oldest grandchild or perhaps because I was the slowest eater ... whatever the reason, of all the things I learned from Nanny, her love of food is what stuck with me. And as I raised my own children, those family recipes brought comfort, healing and a few new twists. Seeing as it is the cold season, I wanted to share one with you.

This concoction came in handy whenever my family came down with sniffles, sore throat, upset stomachs, fever, or chills. Make large batches to hot drink throughout the day, using local and organic ingredients when possible.

3 cinnamon sticks

3 whole cloves

3 whole Chinese* star anise pods

1 piece fresh ginger root (at least 1")

2-4 quarts water

lemon (optional)

honey (optional)

Bring water to a low boil in stainless or glass pot/kettle.

Add cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise and ginger root.

Turn off heat, cover, and steep for 10-15 minutes. Strain.

Serve alone or with a little raw honey and/or lemon.



  • Potential for regulating blood sugar, lowering cholesterol, and improving memory
  • Improves circulation, lowers risk of infection, and healing to the sinuses.
  • Increases digestion
  • Excellent source of potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, vitamin A, and niacin


  • Warming and soothing
  • Antispasmodic properties help to relieve coughing
  • Useful at relieving indigestion, nausea, constipation, diarrhea and vomiting
  • Helps regulate heart rate and blood pressure
  • Great source of manganese, vitamin C, potassium, selenium, calcium, fiber, vitamins A, C, B1, B6 and K

Star Anise (Illicium verum)

*CAUTION: Japanese star anise (Illicium anisatum) is highly poisonous!*

  • Energy building
  • Immune system strengthener
  • Relieves respiratory pain and cough
  • An important ingredient in Tamiflu
  • Good source of calcium, iron, zinc, manganese, magnesium, copper, vitamins A and C

Ginger root

  • Settles the stomach
  • Relieves nausea and vomiting
  • Promotes healthy sweating
  • GRAS to use during pregnancy
  • Good source of magnesium, B6, potassium and copper

Another word on avocados

Every time I go food shopping I'm tempted to buy avocados to add to salads, accompany beans, make guacamole, or mixed with lime juice and salt atop corn thins. The body loves all the healthy fats and fiber in avocados too. In fact, in people with mildly elevated cholesterol levels, the monounsaturated fats in avocados have been found to lower LDL (bad fats) and raise HDLs (good fats).

Between the versatility and health benefits of avocados, who can buy just one? Certainly not me!

Unfortunately, if you don't eat them fast enough, they go bad. And refrigeration doesn't really help. So, my dilemma became what to do with really ripe avocados. Inadvertently, I found a solution: pudding. Yes, pudding ... made from avocados. 

Of all the recipes I tried, Louisa Shafia's 5-Minute Carob Pudding (get the printed recipe here) has become my favorite for the following reasons:

  • It's vegan - no dairy or eggs
  • It uses carob instead of chocolate (which I can't have)
  • Avocados + Carob = Super Nutrients
  • It requires minimal and natural ingredients
  • It makes two satisfying servings
  • It refrigerates nicely for the next day
  • Clean up is a cinch
  • The resulting texture and flavor are enjoyable
  • And most importantly, it is quick, healthy and delicious!

Here's how mine came out ...

 Image: Avo-Pudding by  Aqiylah Collins . All rights reserved.

Image: Avo-Pudding by Aqiylah Collins. All rights reserved.

Let's face it, when you want dessert, you want it right then, not in 30 minutes, but now! Although Shafia's recipe claims to take 5 minutes, I find that to be true once you have all of the ingredients assembled and measured out. So in reality it's more like 10 minutes, which is still a short time to satisfy a craving for something decadent ... and healthy!

Image: Avocado FruitnFoiliage by Geographer is used here with permissions granted under the Creative Commons Attribution 1.0 Generic license