The lavender bushes in my back yard are my absolute pride and joy. They are bursting with color and magnificent scent and is a favorite treat for the neighborhood bees. Of all of the many herbs, fruits, and flowers that I work with lavender is by far my favorite. Why, you ask? As if its beautiful spears of tiny purple blossoms were not enough, it is by far the most versatile as far as aromatherapy and general use is concerned. It is my most popular scent for all of my body products I've made throughout the year from handmade soaps and hydrating mists to scrubs to bath salts. Lavender is the essential oil I most often diffuse in my own home for relaxing and soothing aromatherapy. Lastly, lavender is a fabulous ingredient that stumps even the best foodie when cooking for that little something extra to set your goodies leaps and bounds beyond the rest.
Lavender, a cousin of the mint plant, has been used and highly valued for centuries as a balancing, soothing, relaxing perfume, for its antiseptic and sleep-inducing properties. It is known that it was used in ancient Egyptian perfumes and the dried buds were scattered across midevil castles as a deodorizer and disinfectant. During the time of the great plague in Europe lavender oil was used to ward off the plague which may have actually helped as lavender has bug-repellent properties so it could have kept away the fleas that spread the bubonic plague. Lavender's rich history sets it apart from other flowers, as does its unique scent being a flower with an herbaceous scent and having the ability to both relax and gently stimulate. It is used today in fancy French cuisine and at the finest spas.
While I am neither fancy nor French I can share with you the recipes I have come up with through much trial and error that incorporate this amazing flower. It brings a soothing quality to whatever you use it in, I hope you will give it a try!
Easy Peasy Lavender Tea (hot or iced):
Add 1 part lavender buds to every 5 parts black or green loose leaf tea. Pour boiling distilled water over your blend and cover, let steep for 3-5 minutes and strain.
For iced tea pour the hot tea over plenty of ice, add a fresh sprig of lavender for added flair and garden charm (this would be great for a party). *** make sure you're using ceramics or heat resistant glass or being SUPER careful as hot stuff pouring into iced glass can shatter and burn you. ***
For hot tea just pour into a teacup and enjoy!
*For an added burst of lavender add a drop of lavender essential oil to the leaves (not to your already brewed tea! Never add essential oils directly to a water based liquid as it will never mix and can cause damage to mucus membranes -- your throat, your esophagus, your tummy lining -- I know some eo companies advocate this but they are wrong. period.), this is also delicious when blended with 1 part mint leaves or 1 part rose petals for every part lavender buds. Yum!
Where can you find dried lavender buds? Check out the bulk herb section at your local grocery store. I know they are sold in the bulk section at my local Whole Foods as well as my local Sprouts Market. Locally in the Phoenix area I would recommend Loose Leaf Tea in Phoenix and Ahwatukee, Tangled Roots Botanicals in Glendale, and Desert Sage in Chandler.
You may be wondering "What are those amazing looking cookies with the iced tea??" Those are my super secret recipe that I am disclosing just for you! They have been a huge hit at every pot luck I've ever been to and every party I've ever had. Perfect for every occasion, they are my vegan aromatherapy cookies - Lavender Lemon Sugar Cookies. If you have tried my cookies or decide to make them let me know what you think!
Lavender-Lemon Sugar Cookies
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup Earth Balance or any vegan margarine
- 1 cup vegan granulated sugar (or pulse some turbinado in the food processor)
- Egg Replacer (2tbsp water mixed with 1 1/2 tsp EnerG Egg Replacer)
- 2 tablespoons soy or rice milk
- 2 tsp good vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp dried lavender buds
- 1-5 drops lavender essential oil
- 1-5 drops lemon essential oil
- * Makes ~2 dozen.
1. Whisk together dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder, and lavender buds) in a medium bowl.
2. Cream margarine, essential oils and sugar with an electric mixer, I always use my food processor. If you are unsure of the lavender flavor keep it to fewer drops, any more than 5 makes it a bit overpowering but 1 is a too subtle for me so play with it and find what is just right for your taste. (Again, this is safe to add essential oils to because you are blending it with an oil -- the margarine -- that will disperse it, unlike a water based liquid.)
3. Mix your egg replacer and set aside - do not make too early or it will not be as effective.
4. With food processor or mixer running add the dry ingredients a cup at a time and mix until well incorporated.
5. With the mixer running add the vanilla extract, egg replacer and soy milk and mix until it is a consistent dough.
6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and roll the dough into small balls that are slightly flattened (they will not spread much during cooking).
7. Sprinkle cookies with turbinado sugar and gently press in a few dried lavender buds on top for garnish.
Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Bake until very lightly golden; do not allow to brown (unlike conventional sugar cookies they will not be as golden due to no eggs, for more yellow color add a pinch of turmeric to the dough). Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!
What else can you do with your lavender? Add a pinch of dried buds or a drop of essential oil to a shaker of turbinado sugar for a lavender-licous addition to any fruit salad, tea, or coffee. Try adding a drop of the essential oil to a batch of vegan chocolate ganache (8oz vegan dark chocolate whisked into 1/4 cup boiling soy milk) for a decadent truffle rolled in cocoa powder or use as is as a frosting.
Lavender is wonderful for you inside and out! It will make your taste buds smile just as much as it will relax your body and balance your mind. I highly recommend diffusing lavender in your house to help you sleep peacefully or calm your thoughts - just add a few drops of essential oil to a pot of steaming water or to your oil diffuser.
Another great use for lavender essential oil is as a relaxing fabric scent. Add a few drops to your unscented laundry detergent to transform your chores into a time to relax. Try diluting the essential oil in any veggie based oil or getting my lavender body oil and put a drop on your pulse points for relaxation during a particularly difficult time (if you are anticipating a test or work evaluation). Add some essential oil to distilled water in a clean spray bottle for a relaxing sheet spray or facial mist.
Did you find any of this useful? How do you use lavender? I would really love to hear what you think! Thanks, I hope this will give you a few ideas of how to incorporate this wonderful little flower into your daily life for a sweet treat or body treatment. If you are interested in lavender body products, I use only 100% pure essential oil for the most aromatherapeutic bang for your buck and the most pleasant natural scent. Please check them out and let me know what you think. Thanks! Have a beautiful week. More next week..