Home » TEA AS MEDICINE (part 4) by Catherine Barnhoorn

TEA AS MEDICINE (part 4) by Catherine Barnhoorn

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By: Catherine Barnhoorn: Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Mom to Mila (now 4 years old), and author of ‘Mila’s Meals: The Beginning & The Basics’.

Dessert… that part of the meal that most kids look forward to the most That part of the meal that is usually loaded full of sugar – which will likely keep them awake, just as you want them to go to sleep!

How would you like to feed your little one, or yourself, a dessert that would encourage sleep? Come to think of it, how would you like to eat, or feed your little one, a dessert that had all these additional health benefits:

  • Helps heal and seal your gut, and promotes healthy digestion.
  • Inhibits infection caused by cold and flu viruses, etc.
  • Reduces joint pain.
  • Eases the symptoms of autoimmune disorders.
  • Fights inflammation.
  • Has calming effects, which may help you sleep better.
  • Promotes strong, healthy bones.
  • Supports the body’s connective tissues.
  • Promotes healthy hair, skin, teeth and nails.
  • Anti-ageing and wrinkle-reducing.
  • Improves the appearance of stretch marks and cellulite.
  • Detoxifies the liver.
    Well you can, and its so simple to make too…

Say hello to Jelly!

“Jelly? A healing, sleep-inducing food?”, I can here you shout.

Yes, jelly – but homemade jelly. Not the the sugar and chemical laden type poured out of a box or served to patients in hospitals!

The superfood ingredient found in Jelly is gelatine.

What is Gelatine

Gelatine powder is a is flavourless, translucent substance derived from the processing of animal connective tissue and bones to extract collagen, an insoluble fibrous protein. Once extracted and powdered, gelatin dissolves in hot liquids and becomes more solid as it cools. It is commonly used as a gelling agent in gummy sweets, marshmallows, desserts, ice cream, dips and some yogurts.

Gelatine contains easy to digest (bio-available) calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur, amino acids and trace minerals.

Gelatine used to be a big part of healthy traditional diets when people regularly consumed bone broths as well as the fibrous tissues and organs of animals. While I am a big fan of drinking bone broth (and I really encourage you to give it a try), the little ones may not be so keen on it. So another way to get the healing benefits of gelatine into your diet is to disguise it as Jelly

Traditionally the recipe for Jelly calls for hot water, but why not use hot tea instead to add to the medicinal qualities of this dessert? I have recently discovered Carmién’s Sleepy Time Tea – a blend of organic rooibos, chamomile and strawberry – and Mila absolutely LOVES it! And yes, it is medicinal!

What makes Sleepy Time Tea medicinal?


As a summary of my previous post, Rooibos contains vitamins and minerals such as zinc, copper, calcium, manganese, magnesium, potassium and vitamin C. It has anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties and its antioxidants boost the immune system.


Chamomile has been used since Ancient times for its calming and anti-inflammatory properties. It is a well known remedy for numerous medical complaints including asthma, colic, teething pain, fevers, inflammation, and nausea (including morning sickness). It is a wonderful digestive and relaxing sleep aid and it relieves allergies, much as an antihistamine would.
So… combining this tea, with gelatin and freshly squeezed naartjie juice (an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, and pectin) and you have a powerful immune boosting, sleep inducing dessert! [If only they would serve THIS in hospitals!]

IMAGE CREDIT: Catherine Barnhoorn, ©Catherine Barnhoorn


Key: gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, for adults too

Makes 500ml.

Mama’s Notes:

I’ve never been a fan of desserts – not that I don’t enjoy eating them. My reluctance to include them as part of Mila’s eating ritual has more to do with how they are generally used as an incentive or reward for eating the meal that came before it. As such, Mila has jelly as part of her meal and at anytime of the day – she had it for breakfast this morning! It is a good source of protein, so why not?
Not all gelatine is created equal! (as with most foods!) Where possible buy organic gelatine from grass fed animals. I say where possible, because I have been unable to find a locally produced one here in South Africa. The gelatine brands I have found all contain the preservative Sulphur Dioxide and I fear they come from conventionally raised animals who are fed GMO corn, in feed lots under terrible conditions. You can buy an organic imported one – but it is pricey!

Chef’s Notes:

When it comes to Jelly flavours you are only limited by your imagination! You can use any flavor of tea, with any freshly pressed fruit juice – besides pineapple juice that is. The digestive enzymes in pineapple juice prevent the gelatin from setting.


375ml freshly squeezed naartjie juice
125ml hot water
2 Sleepy Time Tea bags
3t. Gelatine Powder
1t. honey or xylitol – optional (only use honey if your little one is older than 1 years old)


Squeeze some naartjies until you have 375ml naartjie juice. You may want to pour the juice through a sieve to remove any ‘bits’ (Mila is not a fan of ‘bits’!)
Pour the hot water into a mug with the tea bags and allow the tea to steep for 5 minutes.
Remove the tea bags and reheat the tea in a pot on the stove.
Remove from the stove and add the gelatine powder. Stir briskly with a fork until all the gelatine has dissolved.
If you are using a sweetener, add it to the gelatine solution and stir to dissolve.
Add the naartjie juice to the gelatine solution and stir.
Pour the liquid into moulds or a bowl.
Place in the fridge for 2 – 3 hours to set.

Enjoy (for breakfast, lunch or dinner)!

This is my last guest blog for Carmien Tea. If you enjoyed the posts and the recipes and would like more, please follow my blog (www.milasmeals.co.za/blog) or purchase a copy of my book “Mila’s Meals: The Beginning & The Basics’ which has over 100 gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free recipes as well as a wealth of nutritional information.

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Catherine is Mom to Mila, a certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, an author and chef-in-constant training. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Psychology from The University of Cape Town; a diploma in Marketing and Visual Communications from The International Advertising Association; and a diploma in Health Coaching (INCH) from The Institute For Integrative Nutrition.

Catherine is deeply passionate about empowering parents to make informed decisions with regards to what they feed their children and themselves, and she firmly believes that food can be “the best form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” Catherine sees her, and her daughter’s, food intolerances as a blessing which has led them down a path of learning, discovery and good health – which will hopefully stand them in good stead for years to come.

To follow their journey or to find out more about the book, visit www.milasmeals.co.za or ‘like’ their Facebook page

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