a Simple, Simple Syrup With Essential Oils

Have you ever gone to a restaurant and tried to sweeten your iced tea with a packet of granulated sugar?   What happens?  Not much, right?  All the sugar granules meant to sweeten your tea sink to the bottom.  You’re left with UNsweetened tea and sad taste buds.   Sure, those granules will eventually dissolve, but you’ll finish your beverage before that happens.  

Since sugar is more soluble in hot liquids than cold liquids, you’ll always have this problem with restaurant iced tea.  But at home, there’s a remedy for this!  Make a simple syrup.   Below I will explain how and why you should make your own simple syrup.  And most importantly, I’ll give you a recipe on how to make a naturally-flavored syrup using 100% pure, edible essential oils.

Essential oil-flavored simple syrup will add sweet, unique flavors, and even health benefits, to your desserts and beverages.  Just think of all the possibilities!  Perhaps a lavender lemonade?  Or a lemon/rosemary tea? 

Simple syrups are not reserved for only cold items, you can use them on and in baked goods, too.  Imagine drizzling a peppermint-flavored syrup over a freshly baked chocolate bundt cake.  It soaks into the cake, keeping it moist and flavorful.

Oh man, I’m having all the drools…

Flavored simple syrups are everywhere – they’re used in coffee and cocktails all over the world.  But, did you know that it’s called “simple syrup” because it consists of only two main ingredients?   Sugar and water.  And it’s extremely simple to  make!

You can spruce up your syrup by flavoring it the old way (adding fresh herbs and fruits to the syrup during the heating process and skimming them out at the end) OR, you can do it the quick, easy, and longer-lasting way by using 100% pure, edible essential oils.

 Fresh herbs/fruits vs. essential oils?

Herbs and fruits are perishable.  If they are used in your syrup, it will lose flavor within 24 hours and go bad quickly.  It will have to be consumed within a day or so.  This is okay if you are going to be using it all up the same day.  But for those who want to store it in their fridge, and use as needed, essential oils are the way to go.

Essential oils will pack a flavorful punch to your syrup, giving it a much longer shelf life.   It’s a great way to incorporate sweetness and fresh natural flavoring to items that wouldn’t do well with a grocery-store extracts.

Oh, and the BEST part!?  How often do you find flavorings that actually have health benefits?  Um, never.  In order to keep those lovely health benefits, the essential oils are added to the syrup after it’s cooled down a bit.  High heat diminishes the health benefits in essential oils.

Think of the wide variety of flavors you will have to choose from!   Lemon, lime, tangerine, bergamot, lavender, black pepper, pink pepper, fennel, ginger, basil, marjoram, Roman chamomile, peppermint, lemongrass, rosemary, wild orange, cassia, cinnamon bark and many more.  And the myriad of combinations that you can create!   You need only 1-2 drops (sometimes less) of essential oil to flavor the whole batch, and so it’s very economical.

But first…

PLEASE ONLY USE 100% PURE, FOOD GRADE ESSENTIAL OILS.  As you may have heard, not all essential oils are created equal.   You can’t buy any old oil from a store and ingest it.  They are not all 100% pure (EVEN IF THE BOTTLE SAYS 100% PURE ESSENTIAL OIL!!).   Only certain companies provide the purest of essential oils that are safe for consumption.   The bottles I purchase have a “Supplement Facts” on the bottle if it is ingestible.   The company is also very open and forthcoming about their oil sourcing, testing for purity, etc.  So you know that you are getting exactly what the bottle’s label says.
 
The recipe below is commonly known as the 1:1 method.  There is also a 2:1 method which is much richer – it takes 2x the amount of sugar as the 1:1 method.

SIMPLE, SIMPLE SYRUP WITH ESSENTIAL OILS

1 C granulated white sugar (for richer syrup, use 2 C sugar)
1 C water
1 drop (or more or less, depending on which oil is used)
16 oz. sterilized mason jar

Gently heat sugar and water until sugar is dissolved.  Turn off the heat immediately and allow to cool.  Do not let boil.

Boil some water in a kettle to use to sterilize the mason jar/lid.  Sterilize your mason jar by filling it with boiling water – and pour some over the lid too.  Only dump out the boiling water once you are ready to fill your jar with the hot syrup.

Dump the boiling water out of your jar and fill it with your yummy hot syrup.  When the syrup has cooled, add the essential oil(s).  Tighten the lid and shake.

Date your jar and store it in the fridge for about a month.  If you use the 2:1 method, it should last up to 6 months. 
(**TIP  For an even longer shelf life, add a shot of vodka to the mixture (it may keep for a year!).

I’d love to hear your flavor combinations – please share below!

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Marriage Retreats – Restoration Is Possible

So, I know my blog is for essential oils, but I just HAVE to share my experience at a FamilyLife marriage retreat with you.

How many couples do you see who invest in everything else BUT their marriage?  Sadly, way too many.  People will save up their money for the latest video game console or iPad, but they won’t spend it on something that can truly improve their marriage.

My husband and I recently went to one of FamilyLife’s many “Weekend to Remember” retreats (for the 2nd time) and had a wonderful time learning about what makes a good marriage, all while enjoying the hilarious speakers (and an equally hilarious video on intimacy and SEX!  The men loved it.  haha)  They had such down-to-earth, transparent speakers, who just told it like it is.  It brought us tears and laughs and most of all, it brought us closer together by the end of the trip.  A month later we renewed our vows with a bunch of other couples at a combined marriage renewal ceremony our church was having.

These retreats go on throughout the year, every year, all across the country.  They have marriage experts, top speakers, fun couples merchandise (‘Discovery’ bedroom game – ooh la la) and tons of relationship books.  It was like a mini getaway, and we so needed that!

We decided we would try it out, just to get away for the weekend and invest in what is the most important relationship we will ever have in our lives.  Our marriage!

We haven’t had a vacation in a while, and while we are still happy after many years together (and the many trials and hard work!), we knew could always stand to learn something new.  For some reason, staying in a hotel always seems to stir up romance – at least it does for me!  Woo wooooo!

The retreat starts out at the hotel on a Friday evening, for the first/intro session of guest speakers.  The 2 guest speakers at our retreat were AWESOME!   So funny!  One was a married couple, and the other was a married man whose wife doesn’t like to speak on stage so he spoke solo.  We were laughing so much all weekend it was such a great release of those daily stressors.

Here’s us when we first got to the hotel room…feeling a little goofy and laughing hysterically at who knows what:

Saturday morning, after you have breakfast, you go to the morning session.  Here’s our view during breakfast.  So serene… (except for the goose that kept attacking another goose, because apparently the pond wasn’t big enough for the both of them!  You can’t see them, but I swear to you, they are real):

After the morning session,  they break for lunch.  After lunch, there is an afternoon session.

Then they let you have the evening off to go on a “date night.”  My favorite part!!  You are supposed to make reservations somewhere ahead of time, and have a romantic evening with your spouse during that free time.  We loved the restaurant we chose – maybe a little too much – because we came back to the hotel WAY too full to enjoy the rest of our romantic evening.

Sunday morning, after breakfast, there is a morning session.  We skipped this one because it was a session where they split up the men and women, and you listen to designated speakers of your own sex.  I am sure it was as great as the rest of the retreat, but we didn’t want to separate.  God has done some intense healing in our marriage and we we’ve been feeling like newlyweds lately (sorry if it makes you gag…it is just great to feel so happy again).  I am thinking we will stay for this part of the retreat next year for sure.

The stories we heard from the speakers were eye opening and touching.  They told us of some couples at past retreats who came there with divorce papers in the car…and left feeling they should give their marriage another try.  How beautiful is that?  It is so worth giving it a try.

Here are some testimonials created by FamilyLife of real life couples who’ve benefited from these retreats:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8USoOuZy-A&feature=youtu.be

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyvlpbTemp0&feature=youtu.be

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VMkXz22uPs&feature=youtu.be

Here’s an additional promotional video from FamilyLife – hilarious AND SO TRUE!:
https://youtu.be/zYwT1-5RaPU

We loved the retreat so much that we decided to become volunteers for FamilyLife, and spread the word about their retreats so that more couples can experience God’s restoration, revival and redemption of even the most broken of marriages.  These retreats are by no means only for couples in trouble.  It’s for anyone who wants to learn some tools that are helpful in having a successful marriage.

If you’re interested in investing in your marriage, or if you’re having marriage troubles, or if you just want to get away from the crazy kids for a weekend!!…you should definitely check it out for yourself.  I highly recommend it!  We will definitely be back again next year.  With my volunteer status, I can save you $100 off registration, so it won’t be so hard on your pocketbook.

The PROMO CODE below will get you $100 off registration at any retreat, in any state, any year.  This code will not expire as long as I continue as a volunteer with FamilyLife.

Just click the link below and type in this code:  TwoAreOne

http://preview.tinyurl.com/l5m95kd

If you go, please be sure to come back here and leave me a comment.  I’d love to hear your story, and/or if you loved it!  I know from experience that God is a miracle worker, and He loves to restore marriages or spice them up, in order to glorify Christ!

Blessings!

Roasted Marinara Sauce From Scratch

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DISCLAIMER:  Not all essential oils are created equal, nor are all brands ingestible.  Most oils are adulterated, and contain fillers and contaminants.  The essential oils I cook with and/or ingest are 100% pure according to full disclosures of sourcing, testing and third-party testing for absolute purity.  Please do not buy oils from the store and assume that you can ingest them without first contacting a professional.


I have always been afraid of making marinara sauce from scratch – like from ACTUAL tomatoes.  Scary stuff.  I mean, what if I buy all those tomatoes and screw it up??  I’m Norwegian, not Italian – how could I possibly make a good “gravy”!?

While marinara made with a can of crushed tomatoes is delicious, I felt it was time I face my fear and make it from scratch.  And, of course, I also wanted to incorporate my beloved therapeutic-grade essential oils into the recipe to see how it  enhanced the flavor.

The sauce took me a few hours to make, because I took my time (and took photos as I went along), so you will want to plan ahead to make this on a day where you have some free time.  Those of you with small children are thinking, “free time, what the hay-hay is that??”  If you have small children…I am sorry…maybe you should save this recipe for another 12 years and then give it a try!  Seriously though, I think you can pull this off if you start cooking right when the kiddos go down for a nap.  I believe in you.

I will spare you the annoyance of reading each step between each photo.  I used to do that, and now understand how annoying that is!!

Feel free to browse the photos below, which are in the order of each step of the recipe.  Some people feel better if they can see how it is supposed to look along the way.  So, enjoy the beauty of these colorful fresh ingredients!:

Cored Roma tomatoes.

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Garlic cloves before peeling.

Garlic cloves after “quick peel” in a jar.  I’ll explain below.

Fresh diced red onion, basil leaves and parsley.

Cook olive oil and red onion before adding the tomatoes.

Final roasted ingredients in a colander over a bowl to collect tomato juices.

Blending roasted ingredients with basil & parsley

Blended ingredients.

Remaining ingredients are added before simmering.

The final sauce.  Smells SO good!

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I did it!  Delicious!  Roasted marinara sauce with broiled asparagus coated in olive oil, salt, onion powder and garlic powder, and unleavened whole wheat “bread” (see recipe at bottom of page) with a little shredded basil on top.

ROASTED MARINARA SAUCE

Ingredients:

  • 25 Roma tomatoes, cored
  • 2 sweet vidalia onions, quartered
  • 2 Tbs fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 whole bulb of garlic, cloves peeled (see note in the recipe for “Easy Peeling”)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt (preferably Pink Himalayan)
  • 1/4 C sugar or “Date Paste” (See Recipe for “Date Paste” in the Pizza Crust recipe at the bottom of this blog)
  • Small bunch of fresh basil leaves
  • 3 cans tomato paste, for thickening
  • 2 drops Oregano essential oil (therapeutic grade only, with “Supplement Facts” on bottle – comment below for my favorite brand)
  • 4 drops Basil essential oil
  • 2 drops Black Pepper essential oil
  • 4-6 pepperoncinis, for a little heat
  • *Optional:  1/4 cup dry red wine, diced carrots

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425F.

Wash and core the tomatoes.  Split them between two 9×13″ baking dishes, or put all of them in a large roasting pan.  The tomatoes can be left whole; they will break down during the roasting process.

“Easy Peeling” of garlic cloves.  Toss a few garlic cloves in an empty, clean, glass jar, screw the lid on, and shake vigorously for a minute.  The peelings should become loose so that you can just peel it off of the clove.  Don’t overload the jar, only a few cloves at a time.  Cut off the hard ends of the garlic cloves.

Arrange the quartered onions and peeled garlic cloves (and diced carrots, if using) around the baking dish with the tomatoes.  Drizzle olive oil over all and then use your hands to toss the tomatoes, garlic and onions to coat everything well with the oil.  Season everything generously with salt.

Roast tomatoes in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or so.  The tomatoes and onions will look wrinkled, roasted, and slightly charred.  For a thicker sauce, cook longer and stir occasionally to keep from burning.

Remove the pan(s) from the oven and set on the counter to cool for 10-15 minutes. You can easily remove the tomato peelings if you want, but I left them on.

Place a large colander inside a large bowl.  Pour the roasted tomato ingredients into the colander.  The bowl underneath the colander will collect all the juice.  You need this juice for later – don’t toss it!

Scoop the roasted tomato ingredients into a blender or food processor.  Add parsley, and most of the basil leaves (save a few to shred and top your final pasta dish as a garnish).  Puree until it reaches your desired consistency.  You may need to do it in separate batches if you have a small food processor.

Put about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or stock pot.  Warm on medium heat, and then toss in the diced shallots.  Cook until they are soft.

Dump the pureed tomatoes, and the reserved juice, into the pot.  Season with additional salt, if needed.  Add the essential oils and any herbs you might want to add to the sauce to flavor it to your liking.  Add the pepperoncinis and cans of tomato paste.  If you are using red wine, add that to the pot as well.  Mix thoroughly.  I had to use a whisk to make sure the thick tomato paste was dispersed throughout the sauce.

Simmer on low, covered, for an hour or longer, so that all the flavors blend well together.  The longer the simmer, the better the flavors will be.  Stir occasionally so that it doesn’t burn.

Serve immediately as pasta sauce, or on homemade pizza (Click here for the pizza crust recipe that I also used as garlic bread with this meal.  For garlic bread, I just rubbed olive oil all over the dough and sprinkled generously with garlic salt and then baked it).  You will also find the “Date Paste” recipe within the pizza recipe.

Or, you can cool all of it completely and freeze it in containers or Ziploc bags for later use as a quick meal!

Mangia tutti!!


Karen Kornichuk
Certified Aromatherapist
Member of National Association
for Holistic Aromatherapy

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