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The Bee’s Knees Golden Milk – Coconut Milk Smoothie with Turmeric and Bee Pollen

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As a practitioner I’m always thinking of ways to get herbs into people, and one easy way to do that is the liberal use of spices.

Think about it: the use of herbs and spices in your everyday cooking is like getting dose after dose of herbal medicine. Don’t worry about side effects or overdosing; these food-herbs are ideal for mass consumption.

If I do say so myself, this is probably the best smoothie recipe I’ve had in a while. Everyone I share it with says the same thing, “Oh my goodness, this is SO good.” I concur; and can’t get enough of it! Each time I make it, the turmeric and ginger amounts creep up and up. So far I have yet to approach the too-much-turmeric level.

This smoothie was inspired by golden milk, the turmeric and coconut milk drink of Ayurveda. I took the rich orange and yellow hues of ginger, turmeric and bee pollen and enhanced them with fruits of the same color: pineapple and mango, with banana and coconut flesh added in for good measure.

Oh yeah, and carrot juice. It blends really nicely with both turmeric and coconut milk. I don’t have a juicer but that doesn’t stop me. I buy a jar of carrot juice at Whole Foods when it is on sale. It freezes well, too, and is a good add into to soups and broths.  Read More

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Refresh with Garden Herb and Cucumber Water

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Cucumber water is one of my all-time favorite summer drinks. Usually, I add lime or pear slices, but I was inspired by the herb garden at Wildcraft Studio School to gather a bunch of tea herbs to my jar.

This fresh herb-infused water was lighter than a brewed tea, and the crisp garden cucumber slices were of course refreshing, but they also added an palatable new dimension of texture to a the water.

Cucumbers are a little mucilaginous, don’t you think? That’s a technical way of saying slimy. Cucumber water is a tad cloudy, if you look closely. I’m waxing poetic about the every-so-slight slimy/mucilaginous texture of cucumber water because a) I think that is what makes it so refreshing to eat and drink, and b) said texture is what blends so nicely with the flavors of fresh garden herbs.

In short, the weight of the cucumber carries the lighter yet more pungent flavors of the herbs. A match made in heaven (or the garden).

garden herb and cucumber water info Read More

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A Cleansing Green Spring Smoothie with Chickweed

chickweed smoothie ingreditents 2       Every year I am astonished at the fine crop of chickweed that grows in my container garden.

Come spring, the pots are overflowing with tender, somewhat succulent chickweed tendrils around January to March, when the days are getting a little longer but is still quite damp and cool. Chickweed is an early spring herb and goes into hiding when the sun comes high and hot. Read More

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Mothering Tincture Blend with Peony, Motherwort and Rose

 

mother tincture blend 1Motherhood isn’t always easy. Sometimes you need a little boost, a bit of support. Of course the help of family and friends is important, as is a supportive community. But for the day-to-day challenges and triumphs, I call on the plants to help me out.

It’s easy even for a postpartum-brained lady like myself to formulate a mothering tincture…because the star herb has Mother in its name, Motherwort! I wrote about lovely motherwort in 2008 in this post, if you want to learn more about it’s medicinal side.

Actually, there are two stars in this formula; the other being peony. I find that peony is an intensely womb-connected plant and quite motherly itself.

Rose elixir, chamomile and a bit of licorice finish out the comforting, nurturing blend. Yum! Read More

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Herbal First Aid: Rose Petal Bandages, My Favorite Burn Solution

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If you look through my posts, you’ll see how much I adore Rose Elixir as a tasty, versatile preparation. I use it for blending tinctures to add an exotic flavor and sweetness, as a heart-centered remedy for anxiety, sleep, broken hearts and circulation, spiced and combined with aphrodisiac herbs, and as a burn remedy.

Instead of straining my last batch of elixir after 8 weeks like I normally do, I kept it intact because I use the petals directly on burns as bandages. These rose petal bandages are so so so useful; I can’t image living without them.

It turns out that I burn myself often. My herb nook has taken up all free space in out tiny kitchen and has long since relegated the toaster oven to the storage unit. I toast things directly on the oven racks and repeatedly stick my bare hands in and if I’m not careful, I get a burn on the top of my right arm of where I brushed the rack above.

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Yes, I have many a burn on that arm, same size, shape and location. Rose petal bandages have been used on most of them, and I can tell you that when I use them, the pain is significantly reduced and the healing heightened.

I ran out of my last bottle of strained Rose Elixir for tincture blending and it became obvious that I needed to strain my batch after all. As a compromise, I saved a small jars’ worth of petals preserved in the elixir as my bandage cache, and I am so glad I did because, guess what, I burned myself not long after.

To use the Rose petals as bandages, fish out a petal with a utensil, tear or cut to a shape suited for the burn and adhering to the contour of the affected area if not already perfect, and place on clean, dry skin right over the burn. Leave it on as long as you can; I’ve left it on for hours. If Rose elixir runs, wipe it off with a wet towel or you’ll create an even more sticky mess.

Yes, this is a sticky remedy. Rose elixir is half alcohol and half honey or glycerine, after all. Glycerine is less sticky but also less effective for burns (although it makes a fine vegan-friendly elixir).

After the bandage has been on for about 30 mins, it starts to dry and adhere to the skin quite nicely. Be careful not to bump the bandage or get it stuck on clothes and things.

If I have had a Rose petal bandage on for many hours and it has dried perfectly, then I will go to bed with it. But if it is at all sticky, cover it with a piece of gauze and a regular bandage to keep it on and protect your bedding from being a sticky mess. For kids, or for large or awkward areas, I would always cover the Rose petal bandage with another bandage.

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I’ve had this batch of petals for over a year and they still do the trick. This is definitely going into the traveling first aid kit! I’d like to get more small jars for keeping the petals and share with family and friends, because I have need seen anything work so wonderfully for burns. The application of one Rose petal take the burn out immediately and for as long as it’s on there I feel relief. I’ve seen the residual burn feeling completely disappear after 4-6 hours of using one petal, even one hour for minor burns, although I often keep it on longer because it helps heal the skin.

Honey in and of itself is a great burn remedy because it locks out air from reacting with the burn, kind of smothering it. Plus, honey is antiseptic, skin and wound healing. Rose is a cooling remedy and also anti-inflammatory and skin soothing. Normally I wouldn’t put alcohol on burns even, but this is a Rose-infused, honey-laden alcohol and adds to the aseptic qualities of the elixir. All around, a great combination.

The Rose petal itself doesn’t irritate the burn area like normal plastic bandage. It creates an air-tight, medicated seal. The petal dries transparent or opaque-pink; you can hardly see it.

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In the Herb Nook

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Every time I go to work in my herb nook, I practically burst with appreciation. This is where I get to work?! Surrounded by herbs and oils and tins and bottles, things that I love playing with? Creating this little herb studio in my teeny tiny kitchen has been one of the best things I have ever done. It’s like a working in an alter.

Do any of you have an herbal nook of your own?

A space dedicated to storing and creating with herbs, whether it be a shelf in a cupboard or a room in a house?

I’d love to hear about it!

Read More

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Violet Elixir – Immortalizing Spring

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Tales of a mythical violet liqueur

Two years ago, it happened to me. I became determined that I would make violet liqueur.

My friend Susan told me about an incredible violet liqueur she found while traveling in Greece. With her experience as a bartender and world traveler, one could not take her praise of the violet liqueur lightly.

I had made a few liqueurs before, some at Sage mountain in the herbal classes. Irish Creme, creamy coco damiana blends. They were delicious and surprisingly easy. I had seen Theresa Broadwine make liqueurs at Medicines from the Earth. I had even tried my hand at making dandelion wine.

The idea of capturing the essence of violets was too much to shake. I wondered if I could possibly make one myself, if I could ever find that many violets to pick. Read More

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Mullein, Cedar and Tangerine Peel: Simple Tea for the Lungs

 

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Sometimes simple is good

A few months ago, I experienced a lingering cough after an case of influenza. When it was a stronger, more irritating cough, I treated it aggressively with Planetary Formulas’ Old Indian Wild Cherry Syrup (plus other things). It’s strong stuff, but when I have had bronchial infections it has historically helped so much that I go straight to it.

After the worst of the cough was gone, I reached for a tea of three simple herbs which are easy to harvest and created a tea general tea for the lungs that’s quite delicious.

Three Herb Tea for Promoting General Lung Function

  • Mullein – Verbascum thapsus.
  • Red Cedar –Thuja plicata.
  • Dried Tangerine Peel – Citrus tangerina.  Read More
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Triple Rose and Lavender Sipping Tea

 

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I love making custom tea blends for people. Whether it’s an herbal sipping tea or a strong medicinal blend, there’s nothing like making a big batch of tea with someone in mind.

One request was for a rose and lavender tea. Seems like simple enough directions, but when I tasted just the two herbs together, I felt like it needed depth and a variance of flavor. Those flowers competed with each other and needed to be tamed a bit.

Triple Rose and Lavender

  • 1 part Lavender flowers
  • 1 part Rosebuds
  • 2 parts Rose Hips
  • 1/2 part hand-harvested Rose Petals

The rose hips added a hint of sweet and tart, and gave the brewed tea a smoky rose color. Rose hips weighed down the floral and fragrant blossoms allowing the taste can linger on your palate, rather than float away to the ethers. I used to use rose hips sparingly, but now I use them in much higher proportions and appreciate the flavor and nourishment they offer as a medicinal food.

I could’ve just used the rosebuds, but the Oregon rose petals impart such a different quality of rose flavor that I had to include them. Hand-harvest rose petals have a spicy, dryer, milder flavor than the standard rosebuds, and I find that they blend extremely well with other herbs while the rosebuds tend to dominate.

There is a general menstruation tea I make with Rose petals, Bai Shao (White Peony root), Yarrow, Raspberry and warming spices. The rose petals blend so nicely herbs that the rose taste is barely noticeable, if at all. Those foraged petals are quite a different animal than the concentrated buds.

The rose petals are varied, coming from different plants at different times. To me, this adds to their appeal all the more. Yellow, peach, mauve, pink, red, pale lavender and any shade in between. Oh, and then there’s the delicately curled pinnate rose leaves. The rose petals impart a wildness, albeit an urban wildness, to a cup of tea.

Herbal medicine is time and space medicine… I guess you could say locally grow food is similar (or herbal sipping teas?). I love knowing where my herbs came from, who harvested them, what the plants looked like when they were picked, and what the clouds looked like in the sky. Is it farfetched to think clouds and wind and the buzz of pollinating bees can be captured in herbs that were harvested that day? And when I sip that tea, does that snapshot of time resonate within my body and spirit?

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Feverfew and the Headache

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This summer I grew Feverfew for the first time, in a pot with Mexican Oregano and Dusty Miler. It grew well, and tolerated frequent harvest of its flowers and leaves for tincturing, sprouting new buds and growth many times. I hope it comes up next year so I can enjoy it all over again.

Feverfew had always confused me. I rarely heard it used for any other use besides migraines, and since I rarely experience migraines or headaches myself or treat many headaches, I didn’t gain experience with it. It seems that there were differing opinion about it. Some said it was only good for headaches with specific indications, some said to take it as a prophylaxis daily for any sort of migraine. Some said it was overrated and some said it was highly reliable. Read More