Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Stomach Problems

Digestion begins the minute we put food in our mouths. Caring for our teeth and gums is an essential part of the whole process. Digestion is the single most important factor in overall health.

Some common signs of a poorly functioning digestive system include:

  • Flatulence or belching
  • Nausea
  • Pain anywhere in the digestive tract
  • Undigested food in the stool
  • Offensive breath
  • Constipation (less than one bowel movement per day)
  • Chronic diarrhea or loose stools
  • Lethargy or depression after meals
  • Food cravings other than normal hunger
  • Lack of satisfaction after meals

Some things that effect digestion include:

  • The use of antibiotics and other medications such as NSAIDs
  • Chronic stress
  • Diets high in refined and processed foods
  • Diets low in Omega 3 and high in Omega 6 fatty acids
  • Chronic infections
  • Food intolerances
  • Excessive alcohol consumption

Ways to support digestion include:

  1. Chew your food thoroughly.
  2. Relax and take time to enjoy your meals.
  3. Eat whole foods and avoid processed, packaged and refined foods.
  4. Incorporate some bitters into your diet. Bitter foods stimulate digestive secretions, which help you to improve digestion and help to improve nutrient absorption. (Think salads with bitter greens before a meal.)
  5. Avoid drinking beverages, to include water, when you are eating as these interfere with digestion by diluting digestive secretions.
  6. Avoid refined sugar. Choose healthy sweeteners to include honey or pure maple syrup.

Some Herbs that Help to Support Digestion:

Elm bark (Ulmus spp.) – helps to soothe irritated tissue

Marshmallow root (Althea officinalis) – aids in soothing, toning and healing tissue as well as reducing inflammation.

Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) – Chamomile initially comes across as sweet, but if steeped for more than 5 minutes it takes on a certain bitterness. This bitterness helps to improve digestion, while the herb itself relaxes the digestive tract relieving cramping, spasms and reducing inflammation.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita) – helps to reduce inflammation and relieve digestive tension and spasms.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis) – helps to reduce inflammation, relieve tension from spasms and helps to heal the tissue.

Fennel seed (Foeniculum vulgaris) -reduces spasms, tension, gas, bloating and inflammation.

Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) – soothes tissue, reduces inflammation and tension from spasms.

Dandelion Root (Taraxacum officinalis) – a traditional bitter herb that helps to stimulate digestive secretions, improves elimination and acts on the liver and gallbladder.

spoons and spices

Digestive Formula

¼ cup Coriander seeds

¼ cup Anise seeds

¼ cup Dill seeds

Brandy

Honey

Quart jar

PREPARATION:

  1. Crush the herbs, place them in a jar.
  2. Completely cover the herbs with brandy
  3. Add approximately ¼ to ½ cup of honey to the jar.
  4. Set the jar aside and allow the mixture to sit for 4 weeks.
  5. After waiting the allotted time, strain off the herbs and re-bottle.

Indicated for flatulence, bloating, abdominal pain and spasms.

Adult dose = ½ – 1 tsp in water every hour or as needed

To Learn more about supporting the body as a whole, check out my Free eBook, “The Family Herbal Formulary”. CLICK HERE

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

Today I am preping herbal gifts for the holidays.  I wanted to give gifts this year that were from the heart and from the hearth.  Today’s preparation is homemade vanilla extract.  I’m sure your wondering what making vanilla extract has to do with being an herbalist?  Well, Vanilla pods are a spice found in nature.  I love creating things in my kitchen from a variety of plants from nature that haven’t been processed or extracted with chemicals. 

Vanilla pods or beans as they are usually refered to are actually the fruit of the Vanilla planifolia a tropical orchid.  Native to South America, Mexico and the West Indies the Vanilla plant is now frequently cultivated in many areas.  It is interesting to note that the vanilla plants do not self pollinate and must be pollinated by hand.  The pods must be cured at different temperatures for several months before they are ready for market.  Traditionally, curing was done by leaving the beans under a blanket in the sun.  These facts explain why vanilla pods are one of the most expensive spices in the world.   

And now that you know a little about Vanilla pods I’ll tell you how I made my Vanilla Extract.

You will need:

6 Organic Vanilla pods (beans)

2 Cups Vodka (Organic if you can find it.)

1 quart jar

Small glass brown bottles

 

 

 

 

 

 

Preparation:

Cut the pods in two right down the middle and scrape out the tiny little seeds inside.  Add these seeds to your quart jar along with the empty pod.  Pour 2 cups of vodka over the pods, replace the lid of the jar and shake the mixture just slightly.  Allow the mixture to sit in a cool dark location for 4 – 6 weeks.  After leaving the mixture to sit for the recommended period of time strain out the seeds and beans into a dark brown bottle.

 

 

 

And there you have it, homemade Vanilla extract which you can bottle up and give as gifts for the holiday season.  Give it a try at home.  You still have enough time to get a batch prepared before the holidays if you start now.  Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Blue Camp 005This past week my family and I headed from North Florida where we live to camp in central Alabama. The area is absolutely beautiful and we have made this trip our traditional Thanksgiving adventure. Last year I had discovered a patch of wild roses and had hoped to pick some rosehips to bring home with me. However, much to my dismay the area had been contaminated. The owner on the land is “Round-up” happy. He is on a quest to pretty much destroy most of the wild weeds on his property. This man is the sweetest and most kind hearted man you would want to meet, but he just doesn’t understand that he is poisoning his surroundings. So alas…no rosehips from there anymore. I did, however, discover some Sassafras on a piece of uncontaminated property. The area was about to be cleared so I ask the owner if we could harvest the Sassafras before it got destroyed and he obliged. If you’ve never chewed a leaf off of a Sassafras tree you must. The leaf turns into a jelly like substance. My 7 year old thought it was gross, but he really enjoyed the harvest. He is such a great little apprentice. He is learning so much about health and living naturally. So while we are on the subject of Sassafras I thought I would tell you a little about the wonderful plant.

Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)

Energetics: Spicy, warm

Organ/Meridian affected: lung and kidney

Properties: Aromatic, stimulant, diaphoretic, alterative, anodyne, vasodialator and carminative.

Parts Used: Root bark

Long before it was combined with other herbs and used in patented medicines Sassafras was used in the folk tradition as a spring tonic. As a blood purifier and thinner the root of the plant was used in the early spring as a tonic to be taken after a long winter of eating heavy foods with little physical activity. The leaves can be used as thickener for foods such as gumbo. Sassafras has been used historically to treat high blood pressure, rheumatism, gout and arthritis. Another use for the root is to make root beer.

Simple Root Beer Recipe:

Make an herbal decoction of the root (fresh or dry root) by simmering it for 20 minutes or more depending on how strong you want the flavor. Strain the tea and add a natural sweetener and seltzer or sparkling water for the fizz.

Read Full Post »

Ginger RootI would like to introduce you my friend Ginger. What a shapely gal she is. The aroma of the inner flesh to me is just so soothing yet the flavor excites and stimulates. This week has been all about Ginger. She has been center stage for me this week playing a role in my homemade ginger ale and my crystallized ginger. The crystallized ginger turned out yummy. The process took some time but it was definitely worth it. I’m still waiting on the verdict on the ginger ale. I just put it into the refrigerator to stop the yeast from working. I will keep you posted on the outcome.

While we are on the subject of ginger I thought I would tell you a little about her:

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Energetics: Pungent, sweet, warming/drying

Organ/Meridian affected: heart, lung, spleen, kidneys and stomach

Properties: anti-inflammatory, warming, aperitif, carminative, stimulant, stomachic, diaphoretic, antidepressant, expectorant, antiemetic, analgesic, rubefacient, counter-irritant, analgesic, antioxidant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitussive, and tonic.

Parts used: root

Ginger has a long history as a tonic herb used for various ailments. This native to Southeast Asia has an affinity for the digestive system and may help to relieve nausea as well as diminishing gas and to quell motion sickness. Ginger is a mover and helps to improve blood circulation while it’s warmth moves throughout the periphery. Ginger root acts as an anti-inflammatory and can be applied topically to benefit sore muscles and some forms of arthritis. Ginger also acts as an expectorant and can help move mucus out of the lungs.

During cold and flu season Ginger is a wonderful ally. A tea can be made with 1/2 teaspoon of the root to 8 ounces of water. Allow the tea to steep for 20 minutes and strain. Honey and lemon may be added for additional benefits.

Read Full Post »