As I travel through England and Ireland, I am reminded of my old custom of afternoon tea and cakes. I must admit to having slipped right back into the habit of stopping mid-afternoon for a tasty sweet pick-me-up. I came across this rather unusual but healthier version of a Victoria Sponge Cake. Try it, and enjoy!
Eastern View: Hibiscus flowers are rich in Iron, phosphorus, calcium, riboflavin, thiamine, and niacin. They also contain Vitamin C and carotene in small amounts. Firstly, it is good for all pitta disorders as the astringency of hibiscus provides cooling relief from the summer heat. Hibiscus cools the liver and blood by purging hot bile from the gall bladder.
Thanks to high levels of antioxidants, hibiscus reduces low-grade systemic inflammation, common if the lymphatic system is congested. Together, these cooling qualities help the liver complete a natural spring detox cycle. In late early summer our bodies naturally craves foods and berries with the deep red hue of hibiscus and strawberries.
Western View: A report from the AHA (American Heart Association) that was published in November of 2008 states that consuming hibiscus flowers lowers blood pressure in pre-hypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults. It also states that 1/3 of adults in the United States suffers from high blood pressure, which is also called hypertension.
Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, hibiscus can reduce blood pressure by up to 10 points, according to a research done at Tufts University in Boston. For this drastic improvement to occur, you need to consume a little more than a slice of cake. However, hibiscus flowers have diuretic properties that increase urination, simultaneously lowering blood pressure.
Hibiscus also has impressive antioxidant properties. It helps to lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol from the body, thereby helping to protect against heart diseases and protecting blood vessels from damage. The hypolipidemic and hypoglycemic properties of hibiscus can be beneficial for those who suffer from blood sugar disorders like diabetes.
A research study conducted on patients with type II diabetes suggests that consumption of hibiscus flowers lowers cholesterol, triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, which helps to manage this unpredictable disease.
Research studies have also suggested that the antioxidant properties of hibiscus may also help in treating liver disease. Antioxidants help to protect your body from diseases because they neutralize the free radicals present in body tissues and cells.
Hibiscus contains hibiscus protocatechuic acid which has anti-tumor and antioxidant properties. A study conducted by the Department and Institute of Biochemistry at the Chung Shan Medical and Dental College, in Taichung, Taiwan suggests that hibiscus slows down the growth of cancerous cells by inducing apoptosis, commonly known as programmed cell death.
Hibiscus flowers are also naturally rich in vitamin C. It is an essential nutrient required by your body to boost and stimulate the activity of your immune system. Hibiscus flowers are also known for their anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Therefore, consuming hibiscus prevents you from catching colds. Hibiscus flowers are also used to treat discomfort caused by fever, due to its cooling effect.
Strawberry & Hibiscus Sponge Cake
(in keeping with my European trip, all measures are in metric, but they are easily converted)
200 g unsalted butter plus extra for greasing
200 g castor sugar
200 g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
200g strawberries - halved
1 tablespoon dried hibiscus flowers
2 tablespoons castor sugar
60 ml Pimm’s
300 ml double or heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
2 tablespoons icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
Flowers to decorate
Preheat oven to 180 c. Grease and line 2 x 20com round loose-bottomed cake tins
In a bowl, cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, mix the flour and baking powder. Beat the eggs into the butter mix one at a time, adding 2 tablespoons of flour with each. Fold in the rest of the flour, then divide between the tins.
Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the tins for 5 mins, then transfer to a wire rack.
Put the strawberries, hibiscus flowers, castor sugar and Pimm’s into a pan and bi=ubble gently, stirring for about 10 minutes until the consistency of a loose jam or jelly. Set aside to cool, then discard the hibiscus petals.
Whip the cream, vanilla and icing sugar to form soft peaks. Spread one cake with the cream, spoon over the strawberry mixture, then top with the second cake and dust with icing sugar. Decorate with flowers.
Yum! Great afternoon treat with a cup of tea. Want more meals that are not only good but good for you?! Take the Modern Dosha Quiz to discover your dosha and receive health, diet and lifestyle recommendations based upon your answers!