Why Afternoon Tea Is Good For You

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I’ve been thinking a lot about rituals lately.  It tends to happen when I have a visit to my home town looming and I cannot help but get sentimental about how much that local community means to me. I’ve just returned from a weekend back “home” and have had such a lovely few days. Saturday involved catching up with (not so) old friends whilst watching our local football teams play for the very last time before merging out of financial necessity, and later talking ourselves hoarse long into the evening at our 25 year school reunion. Sunday was wonderfully heart warming and involved driving to a neighbouring town where a number of First World War remembrance plaques were unveiled, new trees planted in the Avenue of Honour, a book on local flora and fauna launched by one of the area’s local treasures and an afternoon tea of scones, jam and cream was served, along with a hot cup of tea, to whet parched appetites.  Life does not get any more authentic than the past weekend and I know how lucky I am to be able to visit such a special place at any time and feel as welcomed and loved as I did 25 years ago (albeit I am having trouble coming to terms with the fact that it was 25 years ago that I graduated from High School – thankfully we all still feel 18!).

Afternoon tea – it is one of my favourite rituals of all time. Mention afternoon tea and memories of lengthy afternoons with my grandmother Pearl are evoked.  My favourite teacup belonged to my grandmother, who taught me that you don’t need a lot of money to feel rich in life. Visits to my grandmother’s home always involved a freshly brewed pot of tea in her silver teapot with its colourful tea cosy served in English bone china teacups with matching plates and saucers.  I am lucky enough to have also inherited my grandmother’s green Depression glass sugar bowl and Royal Visit 1954 souvenir sugar spoon, which proudly adorned her kitchen table. I use this teacup set every weekend (often when I am writing my blog), believing that nice things are to be used.

Afternoon tea is also a daily ritual in my parent’s home, and I was raised to the memorable words of “put the kettle on Jo”.  In this instance, the occasion is more about slowing down and taking time in the day to re-charge.  A more simple affair with our everyday teacups and always with a pot of loose leaf tea and a plate of whatever goodies my mum had recently baked – ginger nut biscuits (my dad’s favourite), apple cake or a yummy lemon slice.

Rituals like afternoon tea allow us to tap into the “here and now”, keep us mindful and are a powerful form of connection in a busy day where anything and everything can be going on.  For those of us with haemochromatosis, the ritual of afternoon tea can also be a conscious part of our wellbeing routine, as drinking tannin rich teas can actually help to reduce iron absorption, making it easier to manage our iron levels.

Recent studies have found that drinking tannin-rich black teas with meals resulted in a 69% reduction in iron absorption, with iron storage reduced by one third over an annual period.  Furthermore, drinking green tea has been found to reduce iron absorption by 62% and coffee by 35%. Whilst excessive tannin consumption is not recommended for people with liver damage or disease, for the rest of us we can actually enjoy our daily cuppa knowing we are doing good.

So why rush through life? Take a leaf (no pun intended) out of our forebearer’s book and embrace afternoon tea. Create a new ritual in your family and take time to savor the experience – inhale the floral aroma steaming from your cup of Earl Grey, the smokiness of Russian Caravan and smoothness of Orange Pekoe, bring the rim of a favourite teacup up to your lips and delight in that first sip, acknowledging how it eases daily issues away, even if only momentarily.

Now, an afternoon tea would not be complete without a decadent sweet treat and one of my favourites would have to be a rich chocolate cake.   My dad’s vegetable garden is currently brimming with new seedlings of all varieties, including beetroot, and this reminded me of a childhood favourite which you don’t hear a lot of these days, being chocolate beetroot cake.  

Now, stay with me – if you haven’t had chocolate beetroot cake before then you have missed out on one of the moistest, earthy and delicious cakes of all time.  Lurking inside that somewhat unattractive purple exterior is the sweetest flesh when roasted and it combines so magnificently with the bitterness of chocolate.

Beetroots are jam packed full of phytonutrients called betalains which are powerful antioxidants and anti inflamatories.  Beetroot is also a rich source of folate and manganese and contains thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper and selenium. We also know that we should all eat more vegetables (you can find out how to incorporate more vegetables into your diet here) given the direct link with reduced heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

Cacao is known to boost serotonin and endorphin levels and is also said to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Raw, powdered cacao is also full of flavonoids, which act as natural antioxidants protecting the body from free radicals (which lead to aging and disease) and is rich in sulphur (which is associated with healthy nails, hair, liver and pancreas). As if that is not benefit enough, cacao is also a known aphrodisiac, containing anandamide which is a substance said to induce euphoria, and phenylethylamine which is a natural mood enhancer.

In keeping with rituals, today I’m sharing my mum’s Chocolate Beetroot Cake with Peanut Butter Icing, which is truly incredible and will keep you going back for more. The peanut butter adds a saltiness to the richness of the chocolate cake and compliments the sweetness of the beetroot perfectly.

To ensure those on a stricter diet are not deprived of the ritual of afternoon tea, I’ve included “naughty and nice” versions of this recipe, both of which are equally scrumptious. Enjoy!

Healthy Choc Cake

“Nice” Indulgent Chocolate Beetroot Cake with Yoghurt Peanut Butter Icing

"Naughty" Indulgent Chocolate Beetroot Cake with Peanut Butter Icing
Serves 12
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Cook Time
45 min
Cook Time
45 min
801 calories
92 g
83 g
46 g
8 g
10 g
188 g
736 g
68 g
1 g
33 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
188g
Servings
12
Amount Per Serving
Calories 801
Calories from Fat 406
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 46g
71%
Saturated Fat 10g
50%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 7g
Monounsaturated Fat 26g
Cholesterol 83mg
28%
Sodium 736mg
31%
Total Carbohydrates 92g
31%
Dietary Fiber 3g
11%
Sugars 68g
Protein 8g
Vitamin A
7%
Vitamin C
2%
Calcium
12%
Iron
14%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups sugar
  2. 1 1/2 cups oil
  3. 4 eggs
  4. 2 cups cooked beetroot, mashed (roasted for 45 minutes until tender, or boiled until soft)
  5. 2 tsp vanilla
  6. 100g dark chocolate
  7. 2 1/2 cups of self raising flour
  8. 2 tsp bi-carb soda
  9. 1/2 tsp salt
  10. 1/2 cup cacao powder
  11. 1/2 cup peanut butter
  12. 1/2 cup butter
  13. 3 cups icing sugar
  14. 1 tbsp milk
Instructions
  1. 1. Heat oven to 180 degrees.
  2. 2. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin.
  3. 3. Mix together the sugar, oil and eggs and combine thoroughly.
  4. 4. Stir in the beetroot and vanilla.
  5. 5. Melt the chocolate (in a double saucepan or in the microwave) and pour into the above mixture. Stir to combine thoroughly.
  6. 6. Combine the flour, bi-carb soda, salt and cacao powder and add to the beetroot mixture. Mix thoroughly.
  7. 7. Pour into prepared cake tin and bake for 45 minutes, or until cooked when tested with a skewer.
  8. 8. Cool on a wire rack.
  9. 9. To make the Peanut Butter Icing, mix the peanut butter, butter, icing sugar and milk together to form a smooth paste. Use a knife to spread the icing over the cake.
Notes
  1. You can also grate the beetroot after cooking, or use a stick blender to puree.
  2. Check the cake after 45 minutes, however depending on your oven further cooking time may be required.
  3. Add more milk to the icing mixture as required to obtain a smooth consistency.
beta
calories
801
fat
46g
protein
8g
carbs
92g
more
Iron-ic Wellbeing http://ironicwellbeing.com/
"Nice" Indulgent Chocolate Beetroot Cake with Yoghurt Peanut Butter Icing
Serves 12
Write a review
Print
Cook Time
50 min
Cook Time
50 min
396 calories
38 g
65 g
24 g
7 g
3 g
132 g
406 g
34 g
0 g
20 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
132g
Servings
12
Amount Per Serving
Calories 396
Calories from Fat 213
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 24g
37%
Saturated Fat 3g
13%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 16g
Cholesterol 65mg
22%
Sodium 406mg
17%
Total Carbohydrates 38g
13%
Dietary Fiber 1g
6%
Sugars 34g
Protein 7g
Vitamin A
3%
Vitamin C
3%
Calcium
5%
Iron
7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 500g cooked beetroot, mashed (roasted for 45 minutes until tender or boiled until soft)
  2. 1 1/2 cups rice malt syrup
  3. 4 eggs
  4. 1 cup oil
  5. 1/3 cup coconut flour
  6. 1/3 cup cacao powder
  7. 2 tsp bi-carb soda
  8. 1/2 tsp salt
  9. 1 cup natural greek yoghurt
  10. 3 tbsp peanut butter
  11. 2 tbsp cream cheese
  12. 2 tbsp maple syrup
  13. 2 tsp vanilla
Instructions
  1. 1. Heat oven to 180 degrees.
  2. 2. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin.
  3. 3. Combine cooked beetroot, rice malt syrup, eggs and oil, and mix thoroughly.
  4. 4. Add flour, cacao, bi-carb soda and salt. Combine thoroughly.
  5. 5. Pour into prepared cake tin and bake for 50 mins or until a skewer comes out clean.
  6. 6. Cool the cake on a wire rack.
  7. 7. To make peanut butter yoghurt icing, combine yoghurt and peanut butter in a medium bowl and beat for 1 minute. Add the cream cheese, maple syrup and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  8. 8. Use a knife to spread the icing over the cake.
Notes
  1. You can also grate the beetroot after cooking, or use a stick blender to puree.
  2. Check the cake after 50 minutes, however depending on your oven further cooking time may be required.
beta
calories
396
fat
24g
protein
7g
carbs
38g
more
Iron-ic Wellbeing http://ironicwellbeing.com/
 

5 responses to “Why Afternoon Tea Is Good For You”

  1. Cathy says:

    Great post Jo! Afternoon tea with my grandmother is something I remember fondly. I was also lucky enough to inherit her precious tea sets and always think of her when I use them. 

    • Thanks Cathy, I love that we had strong “anchors” to ground us. What great role models our grandmothers were (and our mothers today)! Whilst time has moved on, I still believe it’s important to create new rituals which will also be fondly remembered. Call me sentimental…

  2. Renee Bell says:

    Great post!!!
    I don’t really like hot drinks (never have) and so afternoon or morning tea is not a habit I have ever gotten in to myself. It just doesn’t feel the same to sit down with a glass of water!!!
    I do notice though that my parents always have morning and afternoon tea, plus after dinner tea too and I am on the look out for ways to incorporate that into my life without the tea, and therefore that trigger of “go put the kettle on”

    Or maybe I can just try harder to like tea! haha

    • Thanks Renee – you’re dealing with a tea addict so I have trouble moving to alternative beverages! However, that said, I think an afternoon tea would be equally good with a strawberry smoothie or fresh apple or coconut juice. Alternatively, you could try a chilled moroccon mint tea in a beautiful glass with fresh muddled mint leaves or traditional English iced tea with lemon. I think half the fun is just taking time to be present and enjoying the special occasion you have set aside for yourself. Thanks so much for following xx