Thursday, January 16, 2020

The Health Benefits of Fermentation




   
     If you follow health trends at all, you’ve probably heard of Kombucha, Kefir, or one of the other, currently trendy, fermented concoctions. However, fermentation has been with us for thousands of years. Fermentation is a natural means of preservation and was, in many cultures, the main one until the invention of refrigeration. During fermentation, microorganisms (such as bacteria, yeast, or fungi) convert organic compounds like sugars and starch into alcohol or acids. In Lactofermentation, for example, the starches and sugars in vegetables and fruits are converted to lactic acid and this lactic acid acts as a natural preservative, allowing them to be stored (in a cool place) for a year or more. Because of this, fermentation produces distinctive, strong, and sour flavors. Some other examples of traditional, fermented foods include Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Miso, Tempeh, Yogurt, Dosa, and a number of traditional Cheeses.

     The process of fermentation doesn't only preserve the food, it also creates a number of beneficial enzymes, vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and probiotics. All of this makes fermented foods (and drinks) super beneficial to your digestion and overall health. And it doesn’t take much to provide that boost. You really only need ¼ cup of fermented food/drink a day to provide an amazing benefit. That all sounds good, but what are those benefits?

     Improved Digestion and Metabolism: Fermented foods are a great source of beneficial bacteria and enzymes. The beneficial bacteria improve the general health of your bowels by balancing out your gut flora which can have a huge impact on your digestion and metabolism. The enzymes also help to break down hard to digest food and improve nutrient absorption.

     Better Absorption of Nutrients: Not only do the extra enzymes present in fermented products help improve nutrient absorption, but fermentation increases the bioavailability of vitamins and minerals, helping us to better use what we consume. Additionally, by boosting the beneficial bacteria in your gut, you are promoting their ability to manufacture B vitamins and synthesize vitamin K.

     Get More from Your Proteins: Lactic acid, the main by-product of natural fermentation, supports the growth of healthy intestinal flora, normalizes stomach acid levels, and helps the body assimilate proteins.

     Good Source of Vitamins: Not only does fermentation help us to better absorb and use the nutrients in our food, they also provide an excellent source of vitamins. B vitamins, in particular, are a natural by-product of fermentation. Some fermented foods also have higher amounts of vitamin C, or other vitamins as well.

     Overall Improvement of Health, Mood, and Immunity: Improving gut health has been linked to overall improvement of immunity and general health. A 1999 Lancet study showed regular consumption of naturally fermented vegetables positively correlated with low rates of asthma, skin problems, and autoimmune disorders among children attending a Waldorf school in Sweden. There have been numerous other studies that showed similar results. But your gut is also intrinsically connected to your mood. So not only do ferments help improve your general health, they can help to stabilize and improve your mood. Read more about this connection here.


     Those of you who may have been keeping up with this blog since the beginning may remember that one of the first recipes I ever posted was a fermentation one. Fermentation is something I’ve believed in for quite a long time. As such, I’ve gathered a decent number of recipes and resources. So here are some links for you if you want to pursue home fermentation.

Bat Lady Recipes: 

     Fermented Coleslaw
     Pickled and Fermented Red Onion
     Kombucha
     Fermented Lemons

Helpful Resources:

     Kombucha Kamp
     Mastering Fermentation
     Wild Fermentation

   
     I hope I have convinced you to give fermentation a try, and maybe even try to do it at home. I only included a basic introduction to fermentation and it’s benefits. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram or updates on my adventures in Nature. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!


Resources:


Eating Fermented Foods Can Give a Boost to Your Immune System: Science Focus: https://www.sciencefocus.com/news/eating-fermented-food-can-give-a-boost-to-your-immune-system/

Health Benefits of Fermented Foods: WellnessMama: https://wellnessmama.com/2245/fermented-food-benefits/

Health Benefits of Fermenting: BBC Good Food: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-offermenting

How To Try Fermentation in Your Kitchen for Probiotics on the Cheap: WellnessMama: https://wellnessmama.com/402891/fermentation/

Lacto-Fermentation – How It Works: The Spruce Eats: https://www.thespruceeats.com/how-lacto-fermentation-works-1327598

Why We Love Lactofermentation: Cedar Circle Farm: https://cedarcirclefarm.org/tips/entry/why-we-love-lactofermentation


Thursday, January 9, 2020

Red Onions - Pickled and Fermented




 
     I love pickles, of just about any kind (as long as it’s veggies…..pickled meat is just weird).  I actually eat something pickled just about every day. Whether it’s snacking on a pickled cucumber, or adding a little bit of pickled onions to my dish, there’s always pickles around. However, I also love my fermented veggies, and often eat both preparations interchangeably. Fermenting your veggies, as opposed to pickling them, gives you a greater amount of control over their flavor, and it also provides more beneficial probiotics. If you want them to taste less tart, just stop the fermentation earlier. Both preparations actually help to improve your gut health, pickles help to improve the function of your gall bladder and increase bile production (which is a good thing) and fermented veggies help to boost your immunity and balance your gut flora. Fermented or pickled onions are some of the easier things to add to your food, they go with just about every meal. So I figured I’d share these two recipes with you today and wish you the best of luck in you journey to a healthier gut.
   


Quick Pickled Red Onions


Ingredients
1 medium Red Onion
1 tsp Salt
½ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
*optional 1 tsp Seasoning of your choice (I like Garlic Powder)


Instructions:
     Spice up your red onions, super thin, and leave them in rings. Put them in a mason jar and sprinkle with salt and other seasonings. Cover the onions with vinegar. Place the lid on the jar and allow to sit at room temperature for 2 hours before consuming. Afterwards (if you have any left over) store them in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.



Fermented Red Onions


Ingredients
1 medium Red Onion
½ tbsp Sea Salt (not Iodized!)
Distilled Water
*optional 1 tsp Seasoning of your choice (try mustard seeds)



Instructions:
     Spice up your red onions, super thin, and leave them in rings. Put them in a mason jar and sprinkle with salt and other seasonings. Cover the onions with water. Place the lid on the jar and allow to sit at room temperature, in a dark place, for 3-6 weeks. If there are still bubbles in the liquid, the fermentation is not done yet, let it sit a bit longer for more of a pickled flavor, though it’s safe to eat after 3 days.
   





     As always, I hope you enjoy these recipes. Feel free to play around with the ingredients and let me know what you think below!



     If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for updates. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Catnip, Not Just for Kitties





     If you have a cat, chances are you’ve heard of this herb, or may even have a stash of it hidden somewhere. While we may be well acquainted with it’s effect on our feline companions, but do you know that it has a long history of use on us as well?

     In ancient Rome, Catnip tea was a favored beverage. This herb was often combined with lavender and chamomile to induce a relaxing effect. However, it was often said to help prevent, and in some cases even cure, insanity. It’s effect on mood has been seen in a number of cultures, even in the middle ages it was said to have those same properties. However it was also said to make certain people mean, and was given to executioners to get them “in the mood” to do their job efficiently. Catnip tea continued to be a popular drink throughout Europe and Asia, even being the predominant tea consumed in England up until the Elizabethan Era where it was supplanted by the Camellia sinensis plant, the plant we know of as Tea today.

     Native to Europe and Asia, Catnip was introduced to America with the early Colonists and soon spread throughout the continent. A number of Native American tribes recognized the benefits of this herb and discovered their own uses for it. Today it can be found in most continents.

    Catnip, Nepeta cataria, is part of the Mint, or Lamiaceae, family and has the characteristics that the family is known for. It has a square stem, opposite leaves, flowers that resemble lips, and the whole plant is aromatic. While Catnip is not native to his continent, it grows freely in the right conditions. It’s often found near old homesteads. Once established, it needs less water than many plants in the mint family. The size of Catnip varies greatly, depending on available moisture and the soil. It has been seen up to 5’ tall in ideal conditions, but most often does not get above 16 inches when cultivated. If you are looking to add this plant in your garden, make sure you have the scientific name correct as there are a number of hybrids and other plants that are commonly labeled Catmint.


Medicinal Uses:


Common Names- Catnip, Catswort, Catmint, Field Balm, Ment De Gato

Scientific Name- Nepeta cataria

Edibility- The young leaves are edible raw. They have a mint-like flavor and they make an excellent addition to salads. Older leaves are used as a spice in cooked foods. They can be used fresh or dried to make an aromatic herb tea. The tea should be infused in a closed container in order to preserve the essential oils, boiling is said to spoil it so bring your water to a boil and allow it to cool slightly before pouring it over your herbs.

Summary of Actions- Diaphoretic, Nervine, Relaxant, Antifungal, Bacteriacide, Sedative, Febrifuge, Carminative, Tonic, a Slight Emmenagogue, Antispasmodic, and a Mild Stimulant.

Parts Used- The leaves are the primary parts used although flowers and fresh tips can also be included and some herbalists consider the flowering tips best to use for medicinal purposes. The stems are large enough that they should be avoided.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)- Known as Mao Bo He, Catnip works on the Stomach and Lung Meridians. It releases to the Exterior, Clearing Wind Heat, which makes it useful for colds, flu with headache, chills and fever, sore throat, congestion, wheezing, and restlessness. It revives Stagnant Q, helping to alleviate emotional, mental, or nervous tension, gas, and cramping. It also reduces Inflammation, particularly benefiting to the skin in cases of dermatitis.

Traditional Native American Uses- Several Native American tribes used Catnip to support immune function, and for relaxing muscle spasm and cramps associated with digestion. The Mohegan tribes used a tea made from the leaves to relieve infant colic.

Essential Oil and Aromatherapy- Catnip Essential Oil is most highly regarded for its potential as a mosquito repellent, this is due to nepetalactone, which is the same substance that makes it attractive to cats. The essential oil is also antiseptic, anti-microbial, antispasmodic, and helps to clear up congestion. Catnip Oil may be a skin sensitizer and to use it with caution. Avoid using it in the bath, even if it is diluted and this use may increase chances of having an adverse skin reaction.

Insect Repellent- The active ingredient, which causes unusual behavior in cats, is a volatile oil called nepetalactone, which can be found in the leaves & stem of the plant. The plant itself can be used to keep pesky insects out of certain areas, by placing the plant close to entryways. However the essential oil works best in a preparation to keep those same pests away from your body. It is also interesting to note that this essential oil was found in one study to be about ten times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET, which is the active ingredient in most insect repellents.

Digestion- Catnip is a great herb to use as a bitter and gentle nervine. When taken before meals, it improves digestive problems, especially those caused by nerves. It can be especially potent when combined with chamomile or lemon balm for this. Add a touch of licorice or honey and you have a tasty tea for all ages. Try adding a little peppermint in with your catnip to make a pleasant tasting tea that is useful for gas, bloating, nausea or as a general after-dinner type beverage.

Children- Catnip has a long history of use in childhood infections, fevers, aches and pains, bad-tempered moods, sleeplessness and digestive upsets. It was even recommended as a front-line treatment against the dreaded fever of smallpox. This gentile herb is save for use in children of any age.

Fever- Catnip has the ability to release tension and heat from the core of the body, out through the skin. This induces perspiration and helps to reduce fevers. Since it’s a gentle herb, this makes it ideal for working with children and other sensitive individuals.

Anxiety and Stress- This herb is a gentle nervine and can be drunk throughout the day. It’s much less likely to cause drowsiness than some of the stronger herbs such as hops or passionflower, and it helps take the edge off a stress-filled lifestyle. Combine it with tulsi to help improve your ability to deal with stressful situations.

Cautions, Contraindications, and Warnings- This herb is generally considered safe for all ages. Keep in  mind that there is always a chance, however rare, for allergic reactions with any plant. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, stop using this herb and speak to a medical or herbal practitioner. Some people caution against using this herb during pregnancy, as it can over stimulate the uterus. But this caution is not universal. If you are pregnant, consult your doctor or midwife before using this herb.




     I only included a basic introduction to this adorable, cat-friendly plant. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for updates on my adventures in Nature. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!




Resources:


Catmint: Botanical: https://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/c/catmin36.html

Catmint: Natural Medicinal Herbs: http://www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net/herbs/n/nepeta-cataria=catmint.php

Catmint: Richard Whelan: https://www.rjwhelan.co.nz/herbs%20A-Z/catmint.html

Catnip: Drugs.com: https://www.drugs.com/npc/catnip.html

Catnip Essential Oil: AromaWeb: https://www.aromaweb.com/essential-oils/catnip-oil.asp

Catnip: Gaia Herbs: https://www.gaiaherbs.com/blogs/herbs/catnip

Catnip: Mountain Rose Herbs: https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/catnip/profile

Catnip (Mao Bo He): White Rabbit Institute of Healing: https://www.whiterabbitinstituteofhealing.com/herbs/catnip/

Catnip Tea: Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health/catnip-tea

Medicinal Uses for Catnip: Herbal Wisdom Institute: http://www.herbalwisdominstitute.com/blog/medicinal-uses-for-catnip

Nepeta Cataria: Plants for a Future: https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Nepeta+cataria

Nepeta Cataria – Catnip: AyurWiki: https://ayurwiki.org/Ayurwiki/Nepeta_cataria_-_Catnip

Nepeta Cataria Effects on Humans: Nepeta Cataria: http://nepetacataria.org/nepeta-cataria-effects-on-humans/

Plant Profile – Catnip: The Forager’s Path: https://www.theforagerspath.com/educational-resources/plant-profiles/catnip-in-the-garden/

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Snow Cream




     Having grown up in Florida, I missed out on all the fun that people talk about during the winter. Fun like making snowmen, snow angels, sledding, etc. It wasn’t until this year that I had even heard of Snow Ice Cream, or Snow Cream. Now, ask anyone that knows me and they’ll tell you that I may have a tiny, little, ice cream problem. I LOVE the stuff. So I immediately set out to try and make Snow Cream in an area that never gets snow.

     Apparently the texture of the snow can effect how much snow is needed for the recipe. Keep that in mind. Also, a lot of people worry about eating fresh snow as it may be dirty. I have been told that white, fresh, fluffy, snow is perfectly safe. However, living in Florida, we have to rely on our good, old fashioned shaved ice instead, so if you’re nervous about eating snow, try shaved ice.


Snow Cream


Ingredients:
8 cups Fresh, Clean Snow or Shaved Ice
1 cup Coconut Milk, Cashew Milk, or Milk
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1 pinch Salt
1/3 cup Honey or Maple Syrup to taste


Instructions:
     Mix your milk, vanilla, salt, and sweetener together in a large bowl. Run outside and gather the freshest, cleanest snow you can...or if you live in FL like me…. Just shave some ice. Mix them together until they come to the consistency of a firm milkshake.
     Enjoy!





     If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for updates. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Coral Bean






     One of the things I look forward to most this time of year is a certain, bright red, flower blooming among the piney flatwoods and mixed woodlands that my husband and I tend to venture. We first encountered Cherokee Bean (or Coral Bean) before we even knew what it was. Actually, our friend Justin dubbed it the X Wing plant because the leaves reminded him of the X Wings from Star Wars. (Yes indeed, we are ALL nerds here!) It wasn’t until about a year later that we realized that those leaves belonged to the pretty red flowers we kept seeing in the Winter. In most of the places we tend to hike, the flowers develop at the same time the plant drops it’s leaves, so the flowers and leaves aren’t always present at the same time.

     Erythrina herbacea (Coral Bean) is in the Fabaceae (Pea) family. The genus Erythrina includes over 115 species of trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants that all have orange or bright-red flowers. They are found throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of the world. In North and Central Florida, E. herbacea grows as a large perennial, reaching 6 feet tall before it freezes to the ground in winter. In South Florida it grows as a large deciduous shrub or small tree. This plant can be found from North Carolina through to Texas and further South. It’s range includes all the coastal states along the Gulf of Mexico. It prefers well-drained sand, loam, or clay, and can easily be found in open, sandy woods & clearings of the coastal plains. In Florida, it’s easy to find in mesic hammocks, pine flatwoods, scrub, secondary woods, upland mixed woodlands, coastal dunes, and sandhills throughout the whole state. Blooms are present from Winter until Spring.

Medicinal Uses:


Common Names- Coral Bean, Coralbead, Cherokee Bean, Cardinal Spear, Red Cardinal

Scientific Name- Erythrina herbacea

Edibility- The flowers and young leaves are edible cooked. With the leaves, it’s best to play it safe and cook them at least twice, throwing away the water after the first time cooking them.

Summary of Actions- Antiemetic, Diaphoretic, Diuretic, Narcotic, Purgative, Tonic

Parts Used- The whole plant can be used, but most commonly it’s the root, seeds, and bark.

Native American Traditional Uses- A number of Native American Tribes had many medicinal uses for this plant, varying between nations and localities. Creek women used an infusion of the root for bowel pain; the Choctaw used a decoction of the leaves as a general tonic; the Seminole used an extract of the roots for digestive problems, and extracts of the seeds, or of the inner bark, as an external rub for rheumatic disorders.

General Tonic and Fevers- A tea made from the leaves can be used as a general tonic, promoting a healthy digestive system and improving health in general. However a decoction of the root can also be used to help reduce fevers.

Nausea and Constipation- A decoction of the root can be used to clear up nausea and constipation. A cold infusion of the root has also been traditionally used for a variety of bowel complaints in women.

Urinary System- The diuretic properties of this plant make it excellent for clearing up blocked urination.

Joint Pain and Numbness- A decoction of the beans or inner bark has been used as a body rub and steam for numb, painful limbs and joints.

Other Uses- Traditional cultures use the seeds as beads. It’s also a beautiful landscape plant for those who want to have a native landscape and who may want to attract hummingbirds.

Cautions, Contraindications, and Warnings- All parts of the plant, but especially the seeds, contain numerous toxic alkaloids, including erysodine and erysopine, and cyanogenic glycosides. They can cause diarrhea and vomiting. The alkaloids have an action similar to the poison curare (Strychnos species) and have been used as a rat poison. In sufficient quantities, the seeds can cause human death.






     I only included a basic introduction to this brilliant Florida Native. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. Follow me on Facebook (Bat Lady Herbals) and Instagram (BatLadyHerbalist) for updates on my adventures in Nature. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!




Resources:


Cardinal Spear: Natural Medicinal Herbs: http://www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net/herbs/e/erythrina-herbacea=cardinal-spear.php

Coral Bean: University of Florida Gardening Solutions: http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/ornamentals/coral-bean.html

Coral Bean- Hummingbird Fast Food: Eat the Weeds: http://www.eattheweeds.com/coral-bean-humming-bird-fast-food/

Erythrina: Science Direct: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/erythrina

Erythrina Herbacea: Florida Native Plant Society: https://fnps.org/plants/plant/erythrina-herbacea

Erythrina Herbacea: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=erhe4

Erythrina Herbacea: Useful Tropical Plants: http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Erythrina+herbacea

Erythrina Herbacea (Coral Bean): Find Me A Cure: https://findmeacure.com/2012/04/01/erythrina-herbacea-coral-bean/







Tuesday, November 12, 2019

5 Comforting Soups






       When the weather takes a cooler turn, nothing provides warmth and comfort quite like a good soup. I figured that I’d share some of my favorite Fall and Winter time soups with you today.




1. This soup is a hearty, healthy, veggie filled comfort soup that’s perfect for Fall and Winter. If you want to make this with dairy instead of the dairy alternatives, simply use butter instead of coconut oil and milk instead of cashew milk. You can also use chicken or bone broth instead of vegetable broth if you prefer. It also helps to keep an extra cup or two of broth handy just in case the rice gets a bit over cooked and soaks up all the broth. With this in mind, Wild Rice takes longer to cook, if you want to use white or brown rice, or want to use a mixture, shorten your cooking time for the rice.


Mushroom and Wild Rice


Ingredients
6 cups Vegetable Broth
1 cup uncooked Wild Rice
1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil
8 ounces Baby Bella Mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves Garlic, minced
2 medium Carrots, peeled and diced
2 ribs of celery, diced
1 small Red Onion, diced
1 small Yellow Onion, diced
3 tablespoons Coconut Oil
3 sprigs Thyme
2 Bay Leaves
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 tablespoons fresh Parsley, chopped
¼ cup All Purpose, Gluten Free Flour
1 ½ cups Cashew Milk
3 cups Baby Spinach, roughly chopped


Instructions:
     In a large stock pot, over Medium-High heat, heat 1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil. Add Yellow Onion and sauté until translucent (about 5 minutes). Stir in the garlic and cook for 1-2 more minutes. Add in the broth, wild rice, mushrooms, carrots, celery, red onions, thyme and bay leaves. Give it a good stir and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow it to simmer. Once it reaches that point, cover it and allow it to simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
     During the final 10 minutes of your broth mixture, it’s time to work on that cream sauce in a separate sauce pan. Melt the coconut oil on Medium-High heat. Whisk in the flour, until combined (there should be no lumps). Add in the cashew milk and cook for about 1 minute, constantly stirring. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the mixture almost comes to a simmer, it should be quite thick at this point.
     Add the creamy mixture and the spinach to the broth mixture and stir until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve warm.
     Enjoy!


2. This traditional, Native American, soup is inspired by three of the most important crops that they grew, and they grew them together. These plants helped to support one another and keep each other healthy as they were growing. They also work well together in this comforting soup. It’s easy to add some chicken, turkey, or beef to this if you want to make it a bit more hearty.

Three Sisters Soup


Ingredients
2 lbs Winter Squash, the ones I use most often is Butternut or Acorn
1 medium Yellow Onion, diced
2-3 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 sprig Thyme
4-6 cloves Garlic, minced
6 cups Vegetable Stock
1 can (15oz) Cannelloni Beans, drained and rinsed
½ lb Corn Kernels, or about 1 ½ medium ears of Corn
1 bunch fresh Parsley, chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste



Instructions:
     Preheat oven to 350°F. Slice squash in half and remove seeds, then roast for 40 minutes. Allow squash to cool, then remove the flesh and save the liquid in the squash for later. Cut the squash into about ½ inch squares. In a large pot, sauté onions in olive oil over medium heat until brown. Add thyme and garlic and stir until the garlic turns brown. Slowly add vegetable stock and squash. Allow mixture to simmer for a few minutes before adding beans and corn. Simmer for about 20 minutes, add in the parsley, salt, and pepper. Simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes. Serve hot.
     Enjoy!


3. To me, the best comfort food is a bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. This recipe takes that concept from basic and kicks it up a notch. I like to serve this with a Pepper Jack Grilled Cheese sandwich, or a Cheese Quesadilla.

Southwest Tomato Soup


Ingredients
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
½ medium Red Onion, diced
½ medium Yellow Onion, diced
1 Poblano Pepper, diced
2 teaspoons Cumin
2 teaspoons Paprika
2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Coriander
1 can (15oz) Black Beans, drained and rinsed
30 oz Tomato Sauce, low sodium or no salt added
2 cups Vegetable Broth
¼ cup fresh Cilantro, chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
Top with Sour Cream *optional


Instructions:
     Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and pepper and cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in spices and blend, either with an immersion blender or a food processor. Add beans, sauce, broth to the blended veggies and mix together. Bring up to a boil. Reduce heat back to medium-low and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste and top with cilantro right before serving. Serve hot, and top each bowl with a dollop of sour cream (optional).
     Enjoy!


4. Chowders are wonderfully chunky, hearty, and comforting soups. They’re great for cooler weather. But this chowder has a twist, instead of using potatoes, it uses roasted cauliflower.

Roasted Cauliflower Coconut Chowder


Ingredients
1 head Cauliflower
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Yellow Onion, diced
2 medium Carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks Celery, diced
¼ cup All Purpose, Gluten Free, Flour
4 cups Vegetable Broth
1 cup Coconut Milk
1 Bay Leaf
2 tablespoons Fresh Parsley, finely chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions:
     Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 375°F. Chop the cauliflower and its stem into bite-sized pieces. Place the cauliflower on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil, toss to combine, and spread into an even layer. Roast until just golden, 20 to 25 minutes.
     On medium-high heat, in a large sauce pot, drizzle the olive oil  and add garlic, onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in vegetable broth and coconut milk, and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 3-4 minutes. Add in the roasted cauliflower and bay leaf. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until cauliflower are tender, about 12-15 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. If the chowder is too thick, add more coconut milk as needed until desired consistency is reached. Top the chowder with parsley right before serving. Serve hot.
     Enjoy!


5. Lentils and Rice is a classic dish, but so is Lemon Orzo soup. This hearty soup combines the best of both dishes. This classic flavor will bring comfort and warmth this fall/winter season.

Lemon Lentil Soup with Orzo


Ingredients
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 medium Yellow Onion, diced
2 medium Carrots, peeled and diced
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 cups (12 ounces) Lentils, picked and rinsed
8 cups Vegetable Broth
2 cups Kale, shredded
juice of 1 to 2 Lemons
1 cup uncooked Orzo pasta
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 handful fresh Dill, chopped


Instructions:
     Heat the oil in a large stock pot, over medium heat. Add the onions and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally until they are softened and starting to smell sweet, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds more.
     Stir in the lentils and broth. Increase the heat to high and bring just to a boil. Taste then adjust with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until the lentils are tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Add in the Orzo and Kale and cook, uncovered, another 10 minutes, or until the orzo is tender.
     Take the soup off of the heat, and then stir in the juice of 1 lemon and the fresh herbs. Taste the soup, and then season with additional salt and/or lemon juice. Serve hot.
     Enjoy!





     If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for updates. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Eucalyptus






     Who doesn't love Koalas? The adorable, fluffy, wild marsupials are one of a handful of animals that can live off a diet of mostly Eucalyptus. While these endangered animals are a great reason to learn about this wonderful plant, there are a number of other reasons as well. Though it’s really amazing to find out that fresh Eucalyptus (and large quantities of the oil) is toxic to most species of animal on Earth, but that 3 marsupials in particular have not only developed the ability to consume it without harm, but have made the Eucalyptus trees their primary food source. The Koala, Greater Glider, and Ringtail Possum are these animals. Other animals use Eucalyptus to line their nests, gather pollen for honey, and a number of other uses.





     Eucalyptus is actually a large genus of more than 660 species of shrubs and tall trees of the Myrtaceae, or myrtle, family. They are native to Australia, Tasmania, and a few other nearby islands. In Australia the eucalypti are commonly known as Gum Trees or Stringy Bark Trees. Many species are cultivated widely throughout the temperate regions of the world as shade trees or in forestry plantations. About 500 of these species are used for producing essential oils for medicinal, industrial, and aromatic uses. These trees grow rapidly, and many species get quite tall. The Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans), of Victoria and Tasmania, is one of the largest species and attains a height of about 90 metres (300 feet) and a circumference of 7.5 metres (24.5 feet). Many species continually shed the dead outermost layer of bark in flakes or ribbons (giving rise to the common name of Stringy Bark Tree), however, certain other species have thick textured bark. The leaves are leathery and often hang vertically and most species are evergreen. The flower petals fuse together to form a cap which is shed when the flower expands, exposing the fluffy stamens that make up the major portion of the decoration of these unusual flowers. These stamens can be white, cream, yellow, red, or pink. The fruit is surrounded by a woody cup-shaped capsule and contains a large number of small seeds. Possibly the largest fruits, about 5 to 6 cm (2 to 2.5 inches) in diameter, are borne by Mottlecah, or Silverleaf Eucalyptus (E. macrocarpa).

     So how is Eucalyptus helpful for us? It’s a great medicinal herb that helps in a large number of conditions, predominantly those that have to do with the respiratory system. Certain species are also a major source of nectar and pollen for honey. The trees produce wood that is used in a number of ways, for building material, paper, etc. And areas that are commonly swampy and riddled with malaria can be dried up naturally, in a few years, by planting Eucalyptus trees, that also repel those pesky, malaria carrying, mosquitoes.

Medicinal Uses:


Common Names- Tasmanian Blue Gum, Blue Gum Tree, Stringy Bark Tree, Strawberry Gum, Fever Tree Leaf

Scientific Name- Eucalyptus globulus is the most commonly used for medicinal purposes, however all Eucalyptus species have similar medicinal properties.

Edibility- Most Eucalyptus trees are inedible, however where they are native, Eucalyptus flowers are significant producers of honey, flower nectar, and “manna” sweet dripping directly from the tree or scraped from leaves, and in some cases even edible bark and seeds.

Summary of Actions- Analgesic, anodyne, antibacterial, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, bitter, decongestant, deodorant, depurative, disinfectant, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, refrigerant, stimulant, and vulnerary

Energetics and Flavors- Aromatic, Pungent, Slightly Bitter, Cool, Dry, Moist

Parts Used- Dried Leaves and Essential Oil

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)- Known as An Shu (whole tree) and An Ye (leaf only), Eucalyptus effects the Lung and Bladder meridians. It promotes sweating, releases to the exterior, and relieves wind heat. This means that it’s used to treat sore throat, cold, aches, pains, sinusitis, headaches, and acute rheumatism. It soothes the lungs and expels phlegm, making it useful for bronchitis, asthma, and tuberculosis. It clears toxins and supports immunity, so it’s often called on for lung infections, urogenital infections, and skin eruptions. It reduces inflammation, helping to relieve nerve pain, neuralgia, wounds, and burns. Eucalyptus also expels parasites and repels Insects, so it’s useful to treat roundworm, pinworm, lice, and is used as an insect repellent.

Ayurveda- Known as Nilgiri in Hindi, and Tailpama in Sandskrit, Eucalyptus is known for increasing pitta dosha and pacifying kapha and vata dosha, making it ideal for clearing breathing pathways, opening airways, and promoting vigor and vitality.

Essential Oil and Aromatherapy- Eucalyptus Essential Oil is inhaled and perceived as refreshing and can be inhaled to promote a sense of vitality. It’s also invigorating and helps to relieve stress. It has traditionally been used to relieve the discomforts associated with fatigue, headaches, colds, sinusitis, mucous congestion, muscle aches and pains, and asthma. A few drops can also be diluted and used as an effective mouthwash.

Respiratory and Allergies- Research has shown that Eucalyptus can decrease mucus and expand the bronchi and bronchioles of your lungs. It’s also a great anti-inflammatory and may help improve asthma symptoms. It’s also soothing to the mucus membranes, so it helps reduce pain and inflammation in the sinus cavities, helping reduce some of the symptoms of hay-fever and sinusitis. This is especially effective if you add a drop or two of the essential oil to a sinus irrigation treatment such as the Neti Pot.

Insect Repellent- Research has shown that it’s effective at warding off mosquitoes and other biting insects for up to eight hours after topical application. The higher the eucalyptol content of Eucalyptus oil, the longer and more effectively it works as a repellent. Eucalyptus oil may also treat head lice. In one randomized study, this oil was twice as effective as a popular head lice treatment at curing head lice.

Cold, Flu, & Malaria- A tea made from this herb relieves cold symptoms like cough, nasal congestion, and headache by decreasing inflammation and mucus buildup. The vapors and essential oil act as a decongestant. This herb also is said to help reduce fevers and stimulate the immune system. The tree has also been used to transform swampy environments infested with malaria into habitable neighborhoods.

Blood Sugar- Eucalyptus oil has potential as a treatment for diabetes. Experts believe that it may play a role in lowering blood sugar in people with diabetes, but caution should be taken as it may interfere with certain medications.

Burns, Cuts, & Wounds- The Australian aborigines used Eucalyptus leaves to treat wounds and prevent infection. Today the diluted oil may still be used on the skin to fight inflammation and promote the healing of burns, cuts, fungal infections, and other minor wounds.

Muscle & Joint Pain- Current research suggests that Eucalyptus oil eases joint pain. In fact, many popular over-the- counter creams and ointments used to soothe pain from conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis contain this essential oil.

Household Uses- During the 19th century in England, Eucalyptus oil was used in hospitals to clean urinary catheters. Many studies later revealed that Eucalyptus oil contains substances with microbial properties, confirming the British use as a cleaning agent. Eucalyptus Oil effectively removes grease and grime, making it an excellent cleaning product for the kitchen. It may also be mixed-in with homemade hand soaps and laundry detergents. Added to natural homemade sprays as a cleaning agent, it can be used for washing toilet bowls, floors, counter tops, and windows, just to name a few surfaces. The clean scent makes an effective fabric freshener, and it can be mixed with Lemon or Tea Tree Essential Oils, diluted with water, then applied to odorous materials such as the insides of shoes. Furthermore, as an air cleanser, Eucalyptus Oil is beneficial for eliminating mold that could contribute to respiratory issues.

Cautions, Contraindications, and Warnings- Eucalyptus Essential Oil is extremely stimulating to the brain, anyone who experiences seizures and similar issues should avoid this oil as it may induce a seizure.
     While eucalyptus leaves are generally recognized as safe, there are some serious health risks associated with consuming eucalyptus oil, as it can lead to toxicity. It’s also important to note that children are at higher risk of toxicity. Seizures, difficulty breathing, a lowered level of consciousness, and even death have been reported.
     Avoid Eucalyptus if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
     Some people experience contact dermatitis upon applying eucalyptus oil to their skin. Use a carrier oil, such as olive oil or jojoba oil, to reduce your risk of skin irritation. Before using the oil, do a patch test to ensure you don’t have a reaction.
     Finally, eucalyptus oil may interact with certain medications, such as those for diabetes, high cholesterol, acid reflux, and psychiatric disorders. Be sure to consult your healthcare provider before using it






     I only included a basic introduction to this highly aromatic and exotic plant. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram or updates on my adventures in Nature. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!




Resources:


7 Impressive Benefits of Eucalyptus Leaves: Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/eucalyptus-leaves

9 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Eucalyptus Trees: Tree Coin: https://tree-coin.io/9-facts-eucalyptus-trees/

9 Unexpected Benefits of Eucalyptus Oil: Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health/9-ways-eucalyptus-oil-can-help

Eucalyptus: Gaia Herbs: https://www.gaiaherbs.com/blogs/herbs/eucalyptus

Eucalyptus: A Modern Herbal: https://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/e/eucaly14.html

Eucalyptus: White Rabbit Institute of Healing: https://www.whiterabbitinstituteofhealing.com/herbs/eucalyptus/

Eucalyptus Globulus: Always Ayurveda: https://www.alwaysayurveda.com/eucalyptus-globulus/

Eucalyptus Oil Varieties, Benefits, and Uses: New Directions Aromatics Blog: https://www.newdirectionsaromatics.com/blog/products/all-about-eucalyptus-oil.html

Tasmanian Blue Gum: Natural Medicinal Herbs: http://www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net/herbs/e/eucalyptus-globulus=tasmanian-blue-gum.php

The Health Benefits of Eucalyptus: Medical News Today: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266580.php

Useful Eucalyptus The Many Uses of Eucalyptus: Everyday Health: https://www.everydayhealth.com/healthy-living/alternative-health/useful-eucalyptus-many-uses-eucalyptus/

Uses of Eucalyptus Oil: Purusha Ayurveda: http://www.purushaayurveda.com/articles/2016/4/11/uses-of-eucalyptus-oil

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Absinthe






     Happy Halloween everyone! Each year, as spooky season comes along, I think of all the spooky treats and drinks that I enjoy. Today I wanted to share with you a little about one that happens to be a favorite of my husband’s, Absinthe.

What is Absinthe?


     Basically, Absinthe is a botanical spirit that is predominately anise flavored. In short, it tastes like black licorice (eew), but don’t let that stop you from trying it. Each brand of Absinthe has it’s own botanical blend and can vary, quite widely, in taste depending on what herbs are used in it’s creation.

     There are three herbs that make up the “Holy Trinity” of Absinthe; Green Anise (Pimpinella anisum), Florence Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), and Grand Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium). Most people would not consider it a true Absinthe if it is not made with these three herbs as a base. Other herbs that Absinthe may be made with include; Peppermint (Mentha piperita), Petite Wormwood (Artemisia pontica), Coriander (Coriandrum sativum), Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis), Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis), Angelica (Angelica spp.), Star Anise (Illicium verum), and Veronica (Veronica spp.). Because of the complexity of flavors in all of these herbs, a good Absinthe is a mysterious flavor. Quite like a good wine. As you taste it, the flavor will evolve. You’ll notice a hit of something hidden behind a wall of flavor, and each stage of your “tasting” may reveal more than you might expect.

     Traditionally, the herbs used in Absinthe make the spirit turn a bright green color. However, there are un-colored, or white, Absinthes that forgo the added green herbs, as well as red or yellow Absinthes that use herbs such as Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) or Saffron (Crocus sativus).

     Absinthe is a strong spirit, reaching up to 75% ABV, or 150 proof on the strong end of things. And some Absinthes tend to include more than a few bitter elements from the herbs. So the tradition of adding cold water and/or sugar to the spirit came about as a way to address both of these issues. These additions dilute the strong Absinthe and unlock some of the depths and flavor characteristics while adding a bit of sweetness via sugar. Not to mention the really neat effect of Louching. When you add water to an anisette (anise flavored liquor or spirit) it will turn cloudy. Absinthe does this and it’s a beautiful and intriguing reaction.





What is the deal with the Green Fairy?


     Medical potions and decoctions made from wormwood date back to at least Roman times, the invention of Absinthe as we now know it is traditionally credited to one Pierre Ordinaire, a Hugenot doctor who fled France for Switzerland in the mid 1700’s and set up shop in the remote Val de Travers near Neuchâtel. He sold a green medicinal potion as a remedy for a number of ailments ranging from digestive issues, to kidney stones, to worms, and even gout. His potion was soon nicknamed ‘La Fée Verte” or “The Green Fairy” both for its beautiful color and for it’s supposed magical qualities.

     The reign of Napoleon III (from 1852 to his downfall with the Prussian invasion in 1870) was the height of popularity for Absinthe. It was primarily a drink of the military and the fashionable bourgeoisie due to it’s relatively high expense. By the early 1870s, it had become common practice to begin a meal with an apéritif, and of 1500 available liquors, absinthe accounted for 90% of the apéritifs drunk because of the belief that it would “sharpen the appetite.” This lead to the hour of 5 p.m. being deemed L’Heure Verte, or the Green Hour (where our modern Happy Hour comes from) in almost every café. The cafés were an extremely popular place to socialize, since most of Paris’ citizens were living in cramped apartments, often in poverty.

     During the years of 1880 – 1910, Absinthe’s price dropped down low enough that made it accessible to every tier of society. Artists and performers would crowd into the cafés and partake of a little bit of “The Green Fairy” to help gain inspiration. This is where we get the common myth of Absinthe causing hallucinations and even bouts of insanity, as artistic types are not known for abstaining from strong drinks, and Absinthe is one of the strongest (typically being bottled from 45-75% ABV or 90-150 proof). I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen people acting crazy when they’ve had a bit too much vodka or tequila, of course drinking Absinthe to excess would cause insanity.

     Another reason for the myth about hallucinations is a compound that is contained in Wormwood. It contains a chemical compound called thujone, which was thought to be a hallucinogen and rumored to cause transformations in the mind. True, there is a level of toxicity inherent to thujone at extremely high doses. But not in the dose one would encounter by consuming Absinthe. In the U.S., thujone levels in absinthe are capped at 10 milligrams per liter, while absinthe in Europe may have 35 milligrams per liter. Modern science has estimated that a person drinking absinthe would die from alcohol poisoning long before he or she were affected by the thujone.


What are the Medicinal Properties?


     Absinthe gets it’s medicinal properties from the herbs that go into it’s creation. Most of these herbs contain compounds that help with digestion and reduce inflammation. Since each Absinthe recipe varies on which herbs it uses, I’ll just go over the three main herbs and their benefits here.


Grand Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) – Wormwood has a reputation as an extremely bitter herb, and indeed it is. But the same compounds that make it bitter also serve to help our digestion. Improving bile secretion and flow to ensure that our food is properly digested and nutrients are properly absorbed. It also helps to get rid of any parasites that may have moved in, which is where it’s common name comes from. It’s also a great anti-inflammatory herb, helping to provide relief from chronic inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and gout.

Florence Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) – Fennel is used throughout the world as a culinary herb. The plant is often cooked as a vegetable and the seeds are used to flavor a wide range of dishes. However, most people don’t know that it’s also a great carminative. Helping to eliminate flatulence and expel gas.  It’s also a great source of potassium, which can help regulate blood pressure and blood sugar. Fennel seeds are also great to help treat asthma symptoms, as well as to relieve sinus pressure and cough associated with upper respiratory conditions.

Green Anise (Pimpinella anisum) – Anise is another herb used, throughout the world, as a culinary herb. It imparts a sweet, licorice-like, flavor to dishes made world wide. But it is also a medicinal powerhouse, particularly for digestion as it’s a great carminative, helping to relieve flatulence and improve digestion in general. It’s super rich in Iron, and other vital nutrients needed for the production of blood cells. This makes it a great herb to help treat anemia. It also helps reduce the symptoms of depression. It also is a great anti-inflammatory, helping to reduce pain caused by chronic inflammatory conditions. And it also helps to regulate blood sugar.






     I hope I have helped to dispel rumors and peak your interest in this traditionally, medicinal Spirit. Now go out there and get spooky with some Absinthe!

      If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram or updates on my adventures in Nature. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!


Resources:


Absinthe: Scientific American: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/absinthe-history/

Absinthe – 10 Facts and Myths About the Green Fairy: Pickled Plumb: https://pickledplum.com/absinthe/

Absinthe a Deadly Potion: Medicine Net: https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=7277

Absinthe and Medicine: The Absinthe Blog: https://www.alandia.de/absinthe-blog/absinthe-and-medicine/

Does Absinthe Really Cause Hallucinations?: How Stuff Works: https://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/edible-innovations/absinthe.htm

Effects of Absinthe: Absinthe 101: https://www.absinthe101.com/effects.html

The Devil in a Little Green Bottle – A History of Absinthe: Science History Institute: https://www.sciencehistory.org/distillations/the-devil-in-a-little-green-bottle-a-history-of-absinthe

The Sauvage 1804 Distillation: Absinthes: https://www.absinthes.com/en/themag/news-absinthes/the-sauvage-1804-distillation-emile-pernot-345

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Fruit Butter

 



     I love carving pumpkins. It’s a family tradition, every October we each get a pumpkin and get to be creative with it. But what do you do with all the pumpkin guts when it’s all over? Cook it of course!

     I thought you might enjoy my recipe for Pumpkin Butter. It’s a crowd favorite every Fall, and can be frozen for use throughout the year. And since we’re on the topic, I figured I’d share a few other fruit butter recipes as well. After all, they’re a great way to sneak a little extra nutrition into your daily routine.


1. Pumpkin Butter is one of my favorite “jams” throughout the year. And I love to kick it up a bit by adding my secret ingredient, cardamom. I eat this on toast, waffles, crepes, and even ice cream. Try adding it to your favorite quick bread recipes to add a bit of moisture and flavor to them. This recipe is not suggested for canning, but freezing it works super well.


Pumpkin Butter


Ingredients
2 15 oz cans Pumpkin Puree (Or make your own)
1 cup Sugar
½ cup Apple Cider
½ teaspoon Ginger, ground
½ teaspoon Cinnamon, ground
¼ teaspoon Allspice, ground
¼ teaspoon Nutmeg, ground
*optional ¼ teaspoon Cardamom, ground


Instructions:
     Combine all the ingredients in a crock pot. Turn on LOW and cook for one hour. Stir and then cook for another 2 hours, with the lid partially open. Stir the butter every once in a while. It is done when it is reduced by about half, and thick enough to run your spoon across the bottom without the pumpkin running back into the space. Crock pots vary a bit, so your butter might take a little more or less time. Serve warm or cool. It will keep for about 10 days in the refrigerator and 6 months in the freezer. If you plan to freeze it, leave at least 1/2 inch at the top of each jar for expansion as it freezes.



2. And here we have the most commonly found fruit butter, at least here in the South. Apple Butter is one of my go-to’s for spreading onto my toast, but it’s so good for so many things. Try on top of your favorite cheesecake (you can also drizzle some caramel with it), spoon a bit onto your Latkes (potato pancakes), even throw some into your baked sweet potatoes. This recipe is not suggested for canning, but freezing it works super well. 

Apple Butter


Ingredients
3 pounds Apples
½ cup Sugar
½ teaspoon Cinnamon, ground
¼ teaspoon Allspice, ground
¼ teaspoon Nutmeg, ground


Instructions:
     Peel, core and roughly chop the apples. Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and stir well. Cook on LOW for 6-7 hours. Remove the lid, and stir until the apples fall apart. Continue cooking with the lid off for 30-60 minutes, until the apple butter thickens slightly. Crock pots vary a bit, so your butter might take a little more or less time. Serve warm or cool. It will keep for about 10 days in the refrigerator and 6 months in the freezer. If you plan to freeze it, leave at least 1/2 inch at the top of each jar for expansion as it freezes.
   


3. What’s better than a tropical vacation? Lounging on the beach, breathing in that ocean air? This fruit butter brings a little of that tropical feel right into your very own kitchen. Monkey Butter is made with Bananas, Pineapple, and Coconut, so it’s like having a taste of the tropics with every bite. Try it over ice cream, on some crepes, or just spread onto your toast in the morning. If you don’t like coconut, you can use ground cashews instead, or simply leave it out. Be careful though, this recipe is not one that you can easily can for long term storage. Try freezing it instead.

Monkey Butter


Ingredients
4 very ripe Bananas, thinly sliced
1 pound Pineapple, cored and crushed
1 cup Sugar
3 tablespoons Unsweetened Coconut, ground
3 tablespoons Lemon Juice

Instructions:
     Combine all of the ingredients in a large nonstick pan. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring often. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the banana has dissolved and the mixture has thickened slightly (about 15 to 20 minutes), stirring frequently. Serve warm or chilled. Can be stored in the fridge for 4 to 6 weeks or 6 months in the freezer. If you plan to freeze it, leave at least 1/2 inch at the top of each jar for expansion as it freezes.



4. This may be the easiest of these recipes, and super tasty. Feel free to use whatever berries you have on hand, the berries I’ve suggested are just a good, standard mix. This recipe can be altered slightly for canning, but I like to keep it simple and just freeze it.

Honey Berry Butter


Ingredients
1 cup Strawberries
1 cup Blueberries
½ cup Blackberries
½ Cherries, pitted
3 teaspoons Chia Seeds, ground
½ cup Honey
2 teaspoons Lemon Juice



Instructions:
     In a food processor, purée the berries and chia seeds then transfer to a saucepan. Add the honey and the lemon juice and boil the mixture, stirring until it is thickened. Let the strawberry mixture cool to room temperature. Let the butter stand, covered, in a cool place for 1 hour to allow the flavor to develop. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Serve warm or chilled. Can be stored in the fridge for 4 to 6 weeks or 6 months in the freezer. If you plan to freeze it, leave at least 1/2 inch at the top of each jar for expansion as it freezes.



5. I love peaches and lavender, this recipe combines both! And they taste so amazing together. If you want to switch it up a bit, you can use any stone fruit in place of peaches (apricot, plumb, etc) or any aromatic herb (mint, basil, chamomile, etc). Some other great combinations may be Chamomile Plumb, Mango Mint, Mixed Stone Fruit with Ginger, or Cherry Basil. Play around with it, make some tasty combinations!

Lavender Peach Butter


Ingredients
4 lbs Peaches, peeled and pitted
1 cup Honey (or Agave Nectar)
1 cup Sugar
½ cup Apple Juice
2 tablespoons Lemon Juice
2 teaspoons food grade Lavender

Instructions:
     Place lavender buds in cheesecloth, and tie up the bundle. Bring peaches, lavender, and water to boil in a large stainless steel pot over medium high heat. Reduce heat and continue cooking until peaches are soft. Taste periodically to check strength of lavender flavor, and remove the cheesecloth bundle when you’re happy. Depending on how you feel about lavender, that may be anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. Using an immersion blender, blend peaches until texture is uniform (or use a food processor). Measure out six cups of peach puree for the butter. (You can use the rest for jam or you can add it to a refreshing cocktail or lemonade) Combine puree, lemon juice, honey, and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved, then bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce the heat, and keep stirring! Be careful and keep a close eye on this so that it doesn’t burn. When your butter starts to thicken and sticks to the spoon, it’s ready to can. Process for 15 minutes, or according to jar size. Serve warm or chilled. Can be stored in the fridge for 4 to 6 weeks or 6 months in the freezer. If you plan to freeze it, leave at least 1/2 inch at the top of each jar for expansion as it freezes.




     As always, I hope you enjoy these recipes. Feel free to play around with the ingredients and let me know what you think below!



     If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for updates. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Ghost Pipe







     We have come, once again, to this amazing time of year. The time where the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead is thinning. This is the time where we gather around fires, in the dark of the night, and tell stories of wonder, and more than a little bit of fright. With these stories at the forefront of my mind, I have decided to tell you about a ghastly little flower that steals it’s sustenance from unsuspecting prey. A flower so small and pale that it resembles finger bones sticking out of the soil of the forest floor. A flower that is often mistaken for a fungus. The Ghost Pipe.

     Monotropa uniflora (Indian Pipe or Ghost Pipe) is a plant that does not contain chlorophyll (the chemical that makes plants green among other things), meaning that it cannot photosynthesize it’s own food. Instead, it steals it’s nutrients from mycorrhizal mushrooms. These are mushrooms that have a symbiotic relationship with certain trees, they exchange nutrients with one another. The mushrooms share with the trees, but the Ghost Pipe does not give anything back, it only takes. This makes it a parasite, not only to the fungi that it is directly stealing from, but also to the tree that is sharing it’s resources with the fungi. Indian pipe looks waxy and sometimes totally white but commonly it has black flecks and a pale pink coloration. Rare variants may have a deep red color. Indian pipe plant has a dark-colored, fibrous, perennial root, matted in masses, from which arise one or more short, ivory-white stems, 4 to 8 inches high, furnished with sessile, lanceolate, white, semi-transparent, approximate leaves or bracts, and bearing a large, white, terminal, solitary flower, which is at first nodding, like a downward facing smokers pipe, but becomes upright in fruit. The calyx is represented by two to four scale-like deciduous bracts, the lower rather distant from the corolla. The corolla is permanent, of 5 distinct, erect, fleshy petals, which are narrowed below with a small, nectariferous pit at the base. Stamens 10, sometimes 8; anthers short on the thickened apex of the hairy filament, 2-celled, opening by transverse chinks. Stigma 5-crenate, depressed, and beardless. Pod or capsule 5-celled and 5-valved; the seeds numerous, and invested with an arillus-like membrane. The plant is found growing in complete shade on stable forest floors, usually where green plants do not. It prefers Rich, moist soil, or soil composed, of decayed wood and leaves, and near the base of trees. Because of it’s feeding tendencies, and dependence on mycorrhizal mushrooms as well as their host trees, this plant is virtually impossible to cultivate.

     There is a Cherokee legend about the Indian pipe: Long ago, when selfishness first entered the world, people began quarreling, first with their own families and tribal members, and then with other tribes. The chiefs of the several tribes met together to try to solve the problem of quarreling. They smoked a peace pipe together, while continuing to quarrel among themselves for the next seven days and seven nights. In punishment for smoking the peace pipe before actually making peace, the Great Spirit turned the chiefs into gray flowers and made them grow where relatives and friends had quarreled. 

Medicinal Uses:


Common Names- Ghost Flower, Corpse Flower, Indian Pipe, Ghost Plant, Ghost Pipe, Fungus Flowers, Ice Plant, Bird's nest, Fit Plant, Ova-ova, Pipe Plant, and Death Plant

Scientific Name- Monotropa uniflora 

Edibility- The whole plant can be cooked. It is tasteless if eaten raw, but has a taste like asparagus when it is cooked.

Summary of Actions- Antiperiodic, antispasmodic, hypnotic, nervine, sedative, and tonic 

Parts Used-  Root, whole plant. Fresh flowering tops and flowers.

Traditional Native American Uses- Indian Pipe has profound Spiritual meanings as well as Medicinal uses for most Native American Tribes. The appearance of white animals and plants often have a major impact, and all the tribes hold a special reverence for them. In addition to the Spiritual impact, Ghost Pipe also is a major healing herb. Both for the physical and emotional aspects of healing. Some of the more traditional uses were treat West Nile Virus and Malaria, as an extremely potent nervine often used to treat seizure disorders, convulsions, insomnia, mental health disorders, severe stress and anxiety, and chronic muscle spasms.  

Eye Inflammation and Conditions- This plant was used by some native North American Indian tribes to treat eye problems, the stem was bruised and the clear fluid of the stems applied to the eyes. It’s still used for eye issues today, mainly the juice of the plant is mixed with Rose Water and applied to inflamed eyes to reduce the swelling. 

Emotional Pain and PTSD- Ghost Pipe has been shown to be effective in treating severe mental and emotional pain due to PTSD and other traumatic injury. It has also been used in cases of acute anxiety and/or psychotic episodes due to intense drug experiences. 

Colds and Fever- An infusion of the leaves has been used to treat colds and fevers. 

Convulsions, Fits, and Epilepsy- A tea made from the root has been used for convulsions, fits, epilepsy, and as a sedative. Roots also have antispasmodic properties. This has been a traditional treatment for people of all ages, including children, who suffer from convulsions, fits, and epilepsy.

Physical Pain- Ghost Pipe helps relieve skeletal tension associated with migraines and neck pain, as well as sharp, shooting pains associated with pinched nerves. Corpse Plant is often used to help people suffering from severe pain caused by Lyme Disease. This herb might me most effective in cases when there is an element of emotional pain along with the physical. 

Cautions, Contraindications, and Warnings- The plant contains several glycosides and is possibly toxic. 





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Resources:


Ghost Pipe, A Little Known Nervine: American Herbalist Guild:  https://www.americanherbalistsguild.com/sites/default/files/donahue_sean_-_ghost_pipe-_a_little_known_nervine.pdf 

Ghost Pipe Facts and Uses: Health Benefits Times: https://www.healthbenefitstimes.com/ghost-pipe/ 

Indian Pipe: Eldermoon School of Herbal Medicine: https://www.jennifercosta.net/blog/indian-pipe#/ 

Indian Pipe: Natural Medicinal Herbs: http://www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net/herbs/m/monotropa-uniflora=indian-pipe.php 

Indian Pipe (Monotropia Uniflora): Medicinal Plants of the Northeast: http://www.bio.brandeis.edu/fieldbio/medicinal_plants/pages/Indian_Pipe.htm 

Indian Pipe (Monotropia Uniflora): The School of Homeopathy: https://www.homeopathyschool.com/the-school/provings/indian-pipe/ 

Monotropia Uniflora: Botanical Society of America: https://botany.org/Parasitic_Plants/Monotropa_uniflora.php 

Monotropia Uniflora: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=moun3 

Monotropia Uniflora: Plants for a Future: https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=monotropa+uniflora 

Monotropia Uniflora- Ghost Plant, Indian Pipe: USDA Forest Service: https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/beauty/mycotrophic/monotropa_uniflora.shtml 

Three Herbs- Yarrow, Queen Anne’s Lace, and Indian Pipe: Ryan Drum Island Herbs: http://www.ryandrum.com/threeherbs.htm 

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     Welcome to Bat Lady Herbals.  I have been fascinated by herbs and various herbal uses for quite a few years now.  Plants are amazing t...