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Archive for the ‘Healthy Recipes’ Category

Spiced EggsOne of my passions has always been cooking.  As an herbalist I love looking for creative ways to get herbs into each and every meal.  Herbs not only convey their wonderful aroma and flavor, but also allow us the opportunity to incorporate their medicinal virtues into our daily lives.

Although, the quantity of the herbs we use in cooking are usually not enough to be considered for over coming chronic illnesses, their daily use is certainly beneficial for maintaining or improving overall health and preventing more chronic illnesses from arising.

Here is a wonderfully tasty dish (more…)

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I know we are all trying to stay away from sugar, but for those times when you feel like you just have to have a little treat and are looking for a healthier alternative to conventional cakes and cookies, give this banana bread a try.  Believe it or not it’s grain free and yet it is extremely moist.  Made with coconut flour, this banana bread is gluten free and contains no refined sugar.  Coconut flour is high in fiber and protein and a great option for those who are sensitive or intolerant to wheat and other grains.  Instead of using refined or artificial sweeteners, this banana bread is naturally sweetened with Medjool dates which are higher in potassium than bananas and are a good source of other nutrients to include Vitamins A, B, K, thiamine, niacin, copper, and magnesium.  Talk about “yummy-lishous”.  This is a healthy recipe that even kids and your “junk food loving” friends will like. (more…)

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When you mention to people that you are an herbalist they assume  that you are some kind of vestal health virgin or zealot whose lips have never been pressed against the creamy icing of a Chocolate doughnut. (well… maybe not lately)

Au contraire…Herbalists are human too.  If you look at many of the eclectics and root doctors of the past they began studying about herbs and natural therapeutics because of health problems they were unable to overcome through conventional means.

Being healthy is about finding balance in all aspects of our lives.  Anything taken to an extreme can lead to disease and on the same note, any area where we are deficient can also lead to disease.  Just because we choose to make healthy changes in our lives doesn’t mean that we as Herbalists don’t have our weak moments;  Do we regret these moments…some;  Do we forgive ourselves….mostly….Do we continue to seek out balance in our lives….most certainly;  Do we like chocolate…you bet your astragalus we do.

So, for those of you who do like an occasional indulgence let’s talk about “CHOCOLATE”!!  First of all, chocolate contains minerals that our bodies need.  Here is a chart which shows the amount of minerals in various types of chocolate. (more…)

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I’ve been talking this week about using food as medicine so I thought it only appropriate to share with you one of my favorite local wild edibles, Chenopodium album or Lambsquarter (aka; Goosefoot, fat hen or pigweed).  Each year I grow a garden and I plant all kinds of edible greens such as Collard, Turnip and Mustard.  However, one of the wonderful things about gardening in Florida is that some edibles you don’t even have to plant, they just volunteer.  

Lambsquarter grows everywhere in my area and especially in my garden.  I never pull it up when I am weeding because I use it just like I would any of my other greens.  The leaves of this plant have a very mild taste and are a complete protein. One ounce of Lambsquarter leaves contain 67% of your daily value of Vitamin A,  37% of Vitamin C  and a host of other trace minerals that our bodies need to stay healthy .  This brings us back to the topic of food as medicine.  By eating foods that are high in vitamins and minerals we are nourishing our bodies, keeping our immune system strong and potentially warding off future diseases…that I would say is food as medicine.

Because of its mild taste Lambsquarter can be eaten raw in salads or added to omlets, quiches, fritatas or any other recipe where you might add greens.  If you really want to pump up the nutritional and medicinal value you can cook your Lambsquarters along with garlic, onions and other herbs and spices.

Lambsquarter Fritata

Ingredients:

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 clove of chopped garlic

1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 cup of fresh chopped Lambsquarter leaves

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Sautee onion, garlic and peppers in a pan with olive oil until tender.  Add the Lambsquarter leaves and cook until slightly wilted.  Combine beaten eggs and milk and add to the pan along with remaining ingreadients.  Cook for 7-10 minutes over the burner until firm.  May place under broiler for a minute to finish cooking the top. 

Additional notes:  This is just a basic recipe that you can use as a foundation.  Additional herbs and vegetables can be added to suit your taste.  ENJOY!!

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We’ve all heard the saying…”an Apple a Day keeps the doctor away”…right.  The reason behind that may be that apples contain a host of vitamins and minerals, are a good source of dietary fiber as well as vitamin C.  There is also research to indicate that apples may help prevent a host of diseases ranging from diabetes to cancer.  With this said we have to ask ourselves… is an apple food or is it medicine?  Actually, I see them as one in the same, food is medicine.

What about Garlic?  We all know that Garlic is wonderful to cook with, but it also contains a host of nutrients as well as other constituents which benefit the cardiovascular system, are antimicrobial, may help to prevent cancer and improve metabolism of iron.

Culinary herbs and spices added to foods not only help to improve the taste of dishes, but also allow us to incorporate their numerous medicinal benefits to all of our meals.  Cinnamon, fennel, rosemary, thyme or most any culinary herb you can think of has been used as both food and medicine since the beginning of time.   I’ve always had a passion for cooking and as a herbalist I try to get the most out of every meal by adding foods that I know to be healing as well as incorporating as many herbs and spices to my dishes as I can. 

Sometimes it can be really challenging coming up with new recipes that are both tasty and healthy.   Fortunately, I just found out about a class that John Gallagher at Learningherbs.com is hosting on Culinary Herbalism  .  The class will be given by K.P. Khalsa who has over 30 years of experience as a herbalist, is the President of the American Herbalists Guild and the author of several books on natural health.  K.P. Khalsa is presenting this class to teach people how to use herbs as food and to use food as medicine.  This class will also include various meal preparations using therapeutic herbs, over 19 recipes, and lots of information on using herbs to improve and benefit various health conditions. 

One thing I really like about this class is that it is a self paced so you can do it online and at your own pace.  John at Learningherbs.com does such a great job on hosting these events and they are definitely an organization worth supporting.  I’m looking forward to the class and hope you will check it out to see what you think.  Just go to CulinaryHerbalism.com and John has posted a video about the course and more information on K.P. Khalsa.  John is really great at giving away free information and has posted several recipes that will be included in the class.  This class opens tomorrow April 19th and will only be offered through April 23rd so the sooner you get registered the better.

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There’s nothing like a wonderful soup or stew during the cold winter month’s to help warm your belly and pick up your spirit.  I absolutely love making homemade broths as a base for my soups and stews.  Grandma was right on the money when she recommended chicken soup for, “what ever ail’s ya”.  Hearty and healthy, broth’s are a powerhouse of nutrition and a wonderful way to build up your immune system.  What better way to get your vitamins and minerals than to enjoy a rich and delicious soup.

When I make homemade broth for my family I feel like I’m making them “a pot full of love”, because I know that I am nourishing them from the inside out.  I like to start my broth off with the finest quality ingredients I can find.  If I am not growing it at home I like to buy local organic produce.  I also like to add loads of nourishing herbs and mushrooms to enhance the nutrient value and to help give the immune system a boost.

I start my broth off with organic grass fed/free range beef or chicken bones.  The bones are full of lots of nutrients that are extracted while cooking.  Traditionally, all parts of an animal were used in one way or another.  Unfortunately, these days we disgard the bones and miscellaneous parts of the animal and miss out on all the wonderful goodness that these, “not so choice” parts have to offer.  Today I am using beef neck bones that I was fortunate enough to be given by some friends. 

Along with the bones I add loads of fresh vegetables such as carrots, celery, garlic, onions, shitake mushrooms, etc.  I also add medicinal plants such as Astragalus root, Burdock root and/or Dandelion root.  Really, you could classify everything that goes into this broth as being medicinal.  Even the common kitchen herbs that go into this broth (parsley, basil, black pepper and thyme) contain loads of vitamins and minerals and a host of various constituents which give them medicinal benefits as well.  I also like to add some blackstrap mollasses because it is so rich and nutrient dense and vinegar to help draw out additional minerals from the bones.  I’m not real big on measuring things out, but I will share with you an approximation of the recipe as I make it….

2 – 3 pds of Beef Bones

1 gallon of water (or enough to completely cover bones)

1- 2 hands full of diced carrots

2 large onions (quartered)

6-8 stalks of celery (roughly chopped)

5-6 clove of garlic

6-8 shitake mushrooms

3 tbsp dried thyme, parsley, basil  (or 5-6 tbsp fresh chopped) (actually whatever herbs strike your fancy)

10-15 slices of astragalus root

2 tbsp of Blackstrap Molasses

2 tbsp Apple cider vinegar

The Kitchen Sink (just kidding)

Place everything in a large pot and bring it to a boil.  Turn the heat down and simmer for approximately 1 hour.  Allow the broth to cool and pour into freezer safe containers for later use.  You can also fill up ice trays, freeze them, and then pop the cubes out as you need them.  You can also just strain it and use it right away.  Be as creative as you want and have fun with making up your own recipe.  You can add any combination of herbs which suit your fancy or add sea vegetables in lieu of salt which add additional nutrients.  This broth can be made with either beef, chicken, fish or wild game bones.

Here is just an idea of the health benefits and vitamin content of this broth:

Water = A natural expectorant and helps to keep the body hydrated.

Beef Bones = easily absorbed minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals.

Carrots = High in antioxidants and the richest vegetable source of the vitamin A carotenes. May help protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer and also promote good vision, especially night vision.

Celery = Excellent source of vitamins K and C and a very good source of potasium, folate, manganese, and vitamin B6. 

Parsley = Excellent source of Vitamins A, C, and K, and high in antioxidants.

Thyme = Excellent source of Vitamin K, Iron and Manganese and a very good source of calcium.  Various medicinal properties to include its use as an antiseptic, antispasmodic and expectorant to help clear congestion.

Shitake Mushrooms = Helps to strengthen the Immune System, may help to prevent cancer, high in antioxidants, a very good source of iron and a good source of vitamin C.

Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceous) = Long history of use in Chinese medicine as an immune stimulant, aid to digestion and benefits to the respiratory system.

So the next time your thinking about ways to help keep your family healthy think about making them soup.  Just the aroma coming from the pot is one way of telling them you love them and you care about their health.  

Thought I would conclude by adding in a little joke:

“A Jewish woman had two chickens. One got sick, so the woman made chicken soup out of the other one to help the sick one get well”.

– Henny Youngman

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It is true that herbs can be powerful medicine.  However,  traditional wholesome foods can be just as powerful.  Traditional  foods are the best form of health care you can provide for your family because they retain their nutritional properties and help to build as opposed to depleting the body. 

Lacto-fermentation is a traditional method of preserving food.  When foods are prepared through the process of lacto-fermentation they produce lactobacilli which are health promoting bacteria.  This beneficial bacteria makes foods more digestable and increases the vitamin and mineral content.

Another benefit of lacto-fermented foods is that through the fermentation process they also produce antibiotic like substances and essential enzymes.

Incorporating lacto-fermented foods into each meal is a great way to keep the gut and immune system in tip top condition thus preventing illness and disease.

For those of you who have never read Sally Fallons book, Nourishing Traditions, I highly recommend it.  Loaded with health promoting recipes it will be a great addition to your kitchen. 

The process for making lacto-fermented vegetables is quite simple.  Once the vegetables have been prepared they are placed in a wide mouth canning jar.  Ingredients which are added to the vegetables include filtered water, salt, spices/herbs and whey  (whey is the liquid byproduct of  curdled milk).  If whey is unavailable additional salt may be added.  The jar of vegetables is allowed to sit for several days and they are then placed in cold storage.

There are numerous recipes for lacto-fermented foods on the internet.  I highly recommend giving them a try. 

Pickles:

Makes 1 Quart

4-5 pickling cucumbers or 15-20 gherkins

1 tbsp mustard seeds

2 tbsp fresh dill

1 tbsp sea salt

4 tbsp whey (if not available use an additional 1 tbsp salt)

1 cup filtered water

Wash cucumbers and place in a quart-sized mason jar.  Combine remaining ingredients and pour over cucumbers, adding more water if necessary to cover the cucumbers.  The top of the liquid should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar.  Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage.

Courtesy Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon 2001

One thing I would like to add is that if you like cruncy pickles as oppossed to mushy pickles you can add fresh grape, oak or cherry leaves to your jar.  The tannins in the leaves help to keep in the pickles crunchiness.  Enjoy!

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