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Spring..a time of renewal and growth!

What a great time to be outside and relish the changing of the seasons, so much potential and growth.  The world is full with colors and scents from fresh blooms.  From the beginning of time humans have begun foraging at this time.  It is a great time to explore ancient uses of flowers and herbs.  There are many edible flower available at this time to enhance our culinary experience.
Here is a small list and some uses of blooms and blossoms.
As with any new undertaking be sure you are well educated about what you are doing. Be sure you know exactly what you choose to consume. If you are allergy-prone, it's probably best to avoid eating flowers.  Check with local experts to help with the identification of wild flowers. If you choose to eat flowers from your garden make sure they are organic. Please do not eat or drink anything you know or suspect is not good for you.

Violets (Viola odorata) are some of the first flowers we see. They taste very sweet and delicate. They are a good addition to lightly flavor salad... maybe just lettuce a little feta cheese and oil and vinager.  My favorite way to use violets is to add them to lightly cooked raspberries and either make a raspberry vinager out of the concoction or drizzle it on a poached fish, pancakes or use it to make a smoothie.  It has a wonderful, refreshing and unique flavor.

Nastruritum (Nasturitum majus) grows in many gardens and is some enviroments will take over its habitat. The young leaves are delicious raw. They have a peppery taste and are a great addition to a salad.  You might as well add some of the beautiful flowers to your salad. Use just the petals as fresh as possible. They are more spicey if grown in the hottest spot in your garden. 

Calendular (Calendular officinalis) is an easy to grow garden flower that adds color and flavor in the kitchen.  The flowers petals are used and have a spicey, tangy, peppery flavor. Tear them away form the stems and add a small amount to your salads or decorate a cake with them. They are also known are pot marigolds.  The flowers have been used to make salves for skin conditions such as diaper rash and itchy skin.

Borage (Borago officinalis) is a great plant to grow in the garden.  It is a companion plant for tomatoes and squash.  It deters the tomatoe hornworm. The flowers are a great addition to a salad with a mild cucmber flavor.  The young leaves can also be eaten but pick them before they become prickly. In addition borage attracts bees to your garden.

 

Eating heathy!?!

Just what is eating healthy?
Eating choices is intensely personal.  I find in my practice people either have no clue the effect their food choices have on them or they are very dedicated to their way of eating. From a vegan diet to a paleo diet we see research and testimonials to back and support individual choices.
Sifting through the myriad of ways in which we feed ourselves a few things ring true.  We know that fresh foods support and nourish the human body best, whether it be grass feed beef locally grown or bean sprouts made at home. 
Food choices can be based on religious or cultural values and taboos and/or social, enviromental or ethical choices. Choosing an all vegetable diet in theory would make neccessary consuming a higher amount of nutrient dense plant foods. Unfortunaltey that does not always happen.  Soda and potatoe chips qualify as edible in a vegetarian diet.  A vegan or vegetarien diet can often lead to the dependence on heavily processed foods, such as seitan, isolated soy protein and flour.  We are seeing more research about the down side of eating too much grain especially those high in gluten.  Studies on gluten have linked it to over 50 diseases or conditions that adversely effect the human body. 
As a vegetarian or vegan it is hard to consume enough valuable nutrients unless one is very diligent. It is important to consume enough protein, vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids.  it is also important to limit sugar and sugar like products and not to eat too much or any gluten. This group of people usually needs to supplement with vitamins and minerals to make sure they are getting adequate nutrients.  A good website for recipes and suggestions on being gluten free and a vegan or vegetarian and is full of great recipes and good advice is called glutenfreegoddess.
For those people who have found that a diet more closely resembling the paleo diet will find lots of information on two really good sites; robbwolf.com and thepaleodiet.com . The advantage of the paleo diet are the low glycemic factor and it prohibits refined foods which are easy to overeat.  Refined foods and foods with low nutritional density do not satisfy our needs and can lead to persistent cravings as we are constently striving to feel nourished.  This leads to overeating which can lead to a long list of adverse health conditions.
It is hard to imagine that our food can take on such charged feelings.  We are seeing small farmers subject to harrassement and litagation. Food is now political. The Western A Price Foundation has some interesting articles about this very subject.  It is also a wealth of information about food and health.
Remember every time you eat you have the opportunity to make yourself more healthy or less healthy.  Choose wisely for your health is your wealth!

 

Winter Health and winter recipes

Winter brings the cold weather and a reflective mood.  It is at this time that we slow down our activities and find a warm place to be. We can help our body adjust to this change with some simple things.  Take the time to do a assessment of your lifestyle.  Does is promote good health?  Is your immune system woking at its best?  We must remember our good eating habits and our exercise programs. 
Our foods tend to be more robust and heavy and fresh foods are harder to come by.
Here are a few recipes to warm the body:
Butternut Squash Soup with apples
1 large squash (cooked)
6 cups of water (bone brooth for carnivores) ( veggie stock for vegetarians)
2 crispy apples (cubed)
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1/4 cayenne
1 tablespoon of a light miso (yellow or white)
optional herbs would include 1/2 teaspoon of oregeno, thyme or marjoram
Puree the squash and mix the water in a crock pot or pan.  Add the apples, herbs and the ginger.  Shortly before serving mix the miso in well.
As a garnish you can top with feta cheese, parmesan cheese or taosted chopped walnuts.
This is simple and delicious.  Children like this soup because of the sweetness of the squash.

Beet Borscht
4 cups of beets (cubed)
the beet greens from these beets (chopped small)
1 cup potatoes (cubed)
2 cups cabbage
5 cups of stock or water
2 stalks of celery (chopped small)
1 cup onion
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 teaspoon of dill weed
1 tablespoon light miso
1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
Cook the potatoes, beets and cabbage in the stock until tender and soft.  Saute the onions and garlic until translucent in olive oil or butter.  Add the beet greens and celery and cook until the added vegetables are soft. Carefully mash the potatoes and beets with a potatoe masher. Add the onions and celery and simmer softly.  When the soup is almost done add the miso, apple cider vinegar and dill.  Let it sit for 10 minutes so the flavors will blend.  Serve with a garnish of sour cream or greek yogurt that has fressh dill weed chopped up and added to the topping.

Spicey herb cider
1 quart of good apple cider vinegar (like Bragg's)
1 large clove of garlic
1 large piece of fresh ginger
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of cayenne
Chop the garlic into small pieces.  Peel the ginger and slice into small pieces.  Add these and the cayenne to the vinegar.  Let this sit for at least 10 days.  When this is done it can be used in cooking or as a tonic to warm the body.  You can make a cup of miso with this cider in it for a subsitute for the old fashioned chicken soup remedy. Take a tablespoon of miso (the light kind is better here) mix with hot water and then add a tablespoon of the cider.  Sip slowly.  Adjust all the ingredients to your taste!