Monday, May 13, 2019

Spiderwort






     I remember picking wildflowers as a little girl in North Florida. My favorite ones were always the purple flowers. Flowers like Spiderwort. Tradescantia virginiana is a three petaled, clump forming species in the Tradescantia family. This family includes a large number of plants that are used as ornamentals. The virginiana, however, is commonly considered a weed, and somewhat invasive, here in Central Florida. However, this tall, grass-like plant has a few fans that can't help but keep it in their gardens as a point of interest.

     This plant is high in mucilage, a slimy substance that provides a host of medicinal benefits. However it may have been the origin of a few different common names given to this plant. If you break a tip off of a leaf, or break the stem, then take some of the sap on your finger, when touched by another finger and slowly pulled away it will form a long slender string. This string resembles a spider’s silk. This is one origin of the common name Spiderwort or even the common name of Cow Slobber. However, the most commonly given origin for the name Spiderwort comes from it's traditional use for spider bites.

     Tradescantia virginiana is a traditional edible plant that can be prepared in a number of ways. However it's just one species in the Tradescantia family, and not every species is edible. But Spiderwort can be an excellent addition to your family's wild food list. The stems and young shoots can be steamed like asparagus, the leaves and flowers make a great addition to a salad, or dessert. The flowers were also used as a traditional decoration for cakes and other baked goods.
 
     There is one really amazing trait that these flowers posses. They are natural radiation detectors. The stamens of the flowers have fine hairs on them, that are typically a blueish purple. However, when exposed to levels of radiation that are dangerous, those fine hairs turn pink. If the dangerous pollutants get to be really dangerous, the whole flower will turn pink. So just like Marvel's Spiderman, who was bitten by a radioactive spider, the Amazing Spiderwort can be your hero and save you from danger.



Medicinal Uses:

Common Names- Spiderwort, Spiderlily, Widow's Tears, Cow Slobber, Virginia Spiderwort

Summary of actions-  Analgesic, Anthelmintic, Antidiarrheal, Anti-inflammatory, Antispasmodic, Antiperiodic, Astringent, Demulcent, Diaphoretic, Diuretic, Emetic, Emmenagogue, Emollient, Expectorant, Galactagogue, Laxative, Sedative, Stomachic, Tonic, Vermifuge, and Vulnerary.

Edible- The young shoots and leaves are edible both raw and cooked. The flowers wilt under heat, so those are only edible raw. The stems are also edible cooked.

Traditional Native American Uses- The Dakota Indians used to carry spiderwort as a love talisman. The Cherokee used the root as a Cancer remedy, and a tea made from the leaves as a laxative. The Meskwaki used the root as a diuretic. Some tribes also used the gum, which comes from the root, as a remedy for craziness, by making an incision in the head and inserting the gum in that incision.

Wound Care and Insect Bites- The leaves, stem, and flowers can be used to help speed the healing of external wounds. The plant actually gets it's common name from the traditional use for spider bites. It can be used as a poultice to reduce inflammation and itch caused by insect bites.

Kidneys, Colon, and Stomach- A decoction made from the root is used as a laxative, to help improve kidney function, and to soothe stomach aches. The leaves and stems are used to help bulk up stool. The entire plant also contains mucilage, which helps reduce inflammation throughout the entire gastrointestinal track and helps to soothe ulcers.

Female Health Concerns- The root and leaves can be made into a decoction or tea to help reduce menstrual pain.   The tea from the leaves is also supposed to help increase milk production in women who are breastfeeding.

Cancers- A number of the Native American Tribes have used this plant for various cancers in their traditional medicine. It's currently being studied for these purposes, though no conclusive evidence has been determined.

Laxative-  A tea made from the root can be used as a laxative.

Radiation Detection- The blue hairs on the stamens of the flowers turn pink under the influence of harmful gamma radiation, and under the influence of extreme pollutants, the whole flower will turn pink.

Cautions, Contraindications, and Warnings- This plant may cause skin irritation in some individuals who are sensitive to the clusters of needle-like crystals, called raphides, contained in it's internal tissues.


     I hope you have a new appreciation for this common plant.  If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.



References:

Plant of the Week- Spiderwort: University of Arkansas: https://www.uaex.edu/yard-garden/resource-library/plant-week/spiderwort-06-23-06.aspx

Mucilage: The Naturopathic Herbalist: https://thenaturopathicherbalist.com/plant-constituents/mucilage/

Spiderwort as an Ornamental: Dengarden: https://dengarden.com/gardening/Using-Common-Spiderwort-As-An-Ornamental-Garden-Plant

Spiderwort Flowers: Gardening Know How: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/flowers/spiderwort/growing-spiderworts.htm

Spiderwort, Pocahontas, and Gamma Rays: Eat The Weeds: http://www.eattheweeds.com/spiderwort-pocahontas-and-gamma-rays/

Spiderwort- Tradescantia virginiana: Edible Wild Food: http://www.ediblewildfood.com/spiderwort.aspx

Spiderwort- Tradescantia virginiana: Herb Rowe: https://herberowe.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/virginia-spiderwort-%E2%80%93-tradescantia-virginiana/

Tradescantia: Southern Living: https://www.southernliving.com/plants/tradescantia

Tradescantia virginiana: Fine Me A Cure: https://findmeacure.com/2011/11/04/tradescantia-virginiana/

Tradescantia virginiana: Practical Plants: https://practicalplants.org/wiki/Tradescantia_virginiana

What is Tradescantia?: WiseGeek: https://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-tradescantia.htm


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

15 Easy Vegan Salad Dressings





     I love my salads, especially in the warmer months of the year. While we're not quite there yet, it is starting to warm up enough that I've been craving more and more greens and raw veggies. But I feel that salad dressings are one of the main attractions of a salad, and a great way to hide a little extra nutrition for your family. So I figured that I'd share some of my favorite salad dressings with you guys.


1. One of the basics, Italian salad dressing is packed full of healthy herbs, oils, and amazing flavor. This is a good staple to keep in your fridge for just about anything. I use this to make my favorite pasta salad, but it's also great to use as a marinade, or to drizzle over freshly steamed (or grilled) veggies. Also, if you use all lemon juice instead of the vinegar, and add in a tsp or 2 of miso, you get a pretty good Greek style dressing.


Italian

(with an option to make it “creamy”)

¾ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
2 tbsp Lemon Juice (about 1 lemon)
2 Garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp fresh Parsley, chopped
1 tsp fresh Basil, chopped
½ tsp dried Oregano
a Pinch each of dried Thyme and Rosemary
Salt and Pepper to taste
*Optional- ¼ package of Silken Tofu


Instructions:
Combine all ingredients, except the oil, in a food processor and process for a few minutes. Keep processing while you slowly drizzle in the oil (this should take about 5 minutes). Process for a few more minutes afterward. This may eventually separate, so shake before serving if you need to. *Optional- to make this a Creamy dressing, add in ¼ package of Silken Tofu to the food processor and process until the desired consistency is reached.


2. Who doesn't love ranch? It's the perfect condiment for almost every situation. It works great as a dip for your raw or cooked veggies (especially if you like buffalo cauliflower as much as I do), it's great to spread on your sandwiches, and it's just perfect as a salad dressing on those warm days.

“Ranch”

1 container of Silken Tofu
1 Garlic clove
¼ cup fresh Parsley, chopped
3 tbsp fresh Dill, chopped
1 tbsp fresh Chives, chopped
¼ tsp Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper to taste
*optional Soy Milk


Instructions:
Remove the tofu from the package and allow to drain while you are preparing the other ingredients. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until well blended and smooth. If you want to thin it out a bit, add in some Soy Milk until it reaches your desired consistency.


3. I have always loved Vidalia onions. They're the sweetest onions, and I grew up eating them with almost every meal. But one of my favorite ways to use them is in this salad dressing. The traditional version of this dressing is super loaded down with sugar, so I tweaked it a bit to make it a little healthier. However, this one may not turn out as brightly white as it's original inspiration. Bonus! This dressing also makes a great marinade and goes equally well over warm veggies!

Sweet Onion & Poppy Seed

1 cup Grape Seed Oil
1 medium Vidalia Onion (or other sweet onion), chopped or grated
1 clove Garlic, minced
¼ cup Cane Sugar
¼ cup Agave Nectar
1/3 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
¾ tsp Mustard Seeds (I use whole mustard, if you use ground only use about ½ tsp)
¾ tsp Sea Salt
½ tsp Turmeric Powder
½ tsp Black Pepper, freshly ground
1 tbsp Poppy Seeds



Instructions:
Add all your ingredients, except the poppy seeds and the oil, to a food processor and process until everything is smooth. Slowly drizzle in the oil while continuing to process, this should take about 5 minutes. Add in your poppy seeds and give it a bit of a blend until the poppy seeds are evenly distributed.


4. This dressing didn't really hit my radar until a few years ago. But ever since I first tried it, I'm obsessed! It's another great dressing to use as a veggie dip, and you can eat it on just about anything (trust me, I do). But one of my favorite ways to use this is over falafel.

Green Goddess

1/3 cup Tahini
½ of a ripe Avocado (or more if needed)
2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
2 tbsp Lemon Juice (about 1 lemon)
1/3 cup Coconut Milk (or try Cashew or Hemp Milk)
¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Avocado Oil
1 tbsp Sesame Oil
2 tbsp Water (or more if needed)
2 Garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp fresh Parsley, chopped
½ cup Green Onion, chopped
½ cup Sweet Onion, chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions:
Combine all ingredients, except the Oils, in a food processor. Pulse for a few minutes to thin everything out. Keep the processor running and slowly add in the oils (this should take about 5 minutes). Process a little bit longer to thoroughly mix all the ingredients. If it's too thick, add in more water or oil. If too thin, add in more avocado.
 

5. My dad is a one dish kind of guy. Just about everywhere we go to eat he always gets the same thing, Chicken Caesar Salad. Needless to say, I was raised on the stuff. But as I grew older, I started disliking some of the flavors, such as anchovies. Eeew! But I still wanted my Caesar salads. So what to do? I figured out how to make this delicious dressing without anchovies or any kind of dairy.

“Caesar”

2 Garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp Miso Paste (red has the strongest flavor, but you can use any color)
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
2 tbsp Lemon Juice (about 1 lemon)
2 tbsp Water (or more if needed)
¼ cup Silken Tofu, pureed
½ cup Grape Seed Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste


Instructions:
Combine all ingredients, except oil, in a food processor and process until smooth. Slowly drizzle the oil into the mixture and continue to process (this should take about 5 minutes). Continue to process for about 2-5 more minutes to ensure it's all mixed together.


6. I love Southwestern flavors. Avocado, Salsa, Roasted Corn, Lime, Cilantro, yum! So I created this dressing to go on my favorite Southwestern salads. However, it's also a great dip for parties (just make it a bit thicker by adding more avocado), or a great sauce to put on your favorite Tacos.

Avocado Cilantro Lime

1 ripe Avocado
2 Limes, Juice and Zest
¾ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Garlic Clove, minced
¾ cup fresh Cilantro, chopped
 Salt and Pepper to taste
*Optional- 1-2 fresh Jalapenos, seeded and diced



Instructions:
Combine all ingredients in a food processor, except the oil. Process until everything is blended, then slowly drizzle in the oil. Keep blending for an additional 3-5 minutes to well incorporate. *To give it a bit of a kick, add in some hot peppers!


7. I'm a huge fan of vinaigrette dressings, and playing around with those can be fun and delicious. One variation that I just adore is this Citrus blend that I have been making since my teens. Feel free to spice it up with a bit of mustard, garlic, Italian seasonings, etc. It's just a great basic that tastes so much more than a basic dressing should.

Balsamic Citrus Vinaigrette

2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
2 tbsp Orange Juice
1 tbsp Grapefruit Juice
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
¾ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tbsp Agave
Salt and Pepper to taste


Instructions:
Combine all ingredients in a food processor, except the oil. Process until everything is blended, then slowly drizzle in the oil. Keep blending for an additional 3-5 minutes to well incorporate.

8. I grew up using Raspberry Vinaigrette dressings on just about everything. When my taste buds developed further, I realized that any berry works on a salad and that basil goes really well with just about every fruit. So of course I had to try a mixed berry basil dressing! This recipe can be used with any berries, or really any fruit. Try sticking to blueberries for an antioxidant rich treat. Try using peaches for a summer flare....maybe even switching out the basil and using a tsp or 2 of lavender flowers to make it really summery. Any way you play with this recipe, you'll enjoy it!

Berry Basil Vinaigrette

½ cup Mixed Berries, frozen
2 tbsp Lime Juice
4 tbsp Champagne Vinegar
4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 tbsp Coconut Oil
2-3 tbsp Agave
¼ cup fresh Basil, chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste


Instructions:
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.


9. Honey mustard has always been an easy, go to for a dipping sauce. So here's a version that uses Agave in place of honey, and is made a bit on the thicker, creamer side with a little Silken Tofu. If you want this to be a bit thinner, just add in a bit more of the oil.

“Creamy” Agave Mustard

¼ cup Sunflower Oil
3 tbsp Agave
3 tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
¼ package of Silken Tofu
1 tsp Nutritional Yeast


Instructions:
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.


10. This dressing is super fun over a fruit salad. But it also makes a great party dip for a fruit and veggie tray, or sauce for just about any tropical dish. The original recipe I created uses the chia seeds as a thickening agent, ground up. However, if you want to have some real fun, make this dressing ahead of time and don't grind up the chia seeds, use them whole. They'll reconstitute in the liquid and create a fun texture to amuse your friends and family with. Enjoy!

Tropical Chia

1 cup Coconut Milk
2 tbsp Lime Juice
¼ cup Pineapple Juice
¼ fresh Mango, cubed
2 tbsp Agave
1 tsp fresh Ginger, minced
Salt to taste
1-2 tsp Chia Seeds
*optional a pinch of Cayenne for a bit of heat

Instructions:
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. If you want the chia seeds to remain whole, reserve them until after the dressing is blended, then add them and mix them together with a spoon. I usually blend my chia seeds in as a thickening agent, but occasionally it's fun to have the seeds floating in the dressing. Also, cayenne adds a pleasant touch of heat if you are looking for something a bit spicy.


11. Asian dressings can be so fun. They can give any salad an instant, exotic flare. This one is also my favorite dressing to use for making refrigerator pickles. Just slice up some cucumbers, toss them in a jar and cover them with this dressing. In a few hours you have Asian pickles. Yum!

Asian Sesame Vinaigrette

3 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
1 tbsp Agave
1 tbsp fresh Ginger, grated
½ tsp fresh Garlic, minced
2 tbsp Sesame Oil
½ cup Grapeseed Oil
1 tbsp Scallion, diced
1 tbsp Sesame Seeds
Salt and Pepper to taste


Instructions:
Combine first 5 ingredients in a food processor and blend until well mixed. Slowly drizzle in the oils, while still blending (should take you about 5 min). Allow to blend for an additional 3-5 minutes after all the oils are incorporated. Add in remaining ingredients and give it a good stir.

12. I love the combination of sweet and spicy, this dressing is all that and more. It's great to put on just about everything too, from tacos, to sandwiches, to just about every kind of salad. It also makes a great dip.

Maple Chipotle Southwest Dressing

½ cup Chickpeas, either cooked or caned and drained
2 tbsp Lime Juice
½-1 tbsp Tahini
1 clove Garlic, minced
3-4 tbsp Maple Syrup
2 tsp Dijon Mustard
2 tsp Chipotle Seasoning (or more if you want)
¼ cup Vegetable Broth
Salt and Pepper to taste


Instructions:
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. If you want the dressing a bit thicker, cut the veggie broth in half or add more tahini. You can also add ½ an avocado to make it thicker, more like a dip. If you want it sweeter, just add more maple.

13. Ancho chiles have such an amazing flavor. I just couldn't resist spicing up a simple vinaigrette with some. This dressing will take you summer salad to the next level, and it makes a great marinade or sauce as well. Make it creamy by adding a bit of silken tofu.

Ancho Chile Vinaigrette

1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 clove Garlic, minced
2 tsp Ancho Chile powder
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp dried Cilantro
2 tsp Lime Juice
1/3 cup Avocado Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste


Instructions:

Combine all ingredients, except oil, in a food processor and blend until incorporated. Slowly drizzle oil into dressing (this should take about 3-5 min). Continue to blend an additional 3-5 minutes.

 
14. I love garlic, in just about every way you can eat it. But one of my favorite ways to eat it is roasted. Roasting garlic takes it from being a strong, pungent, somewhat spicy flavor, and turns it into a mild and sweet flavor. Add a bit of lemon to it and you have a delightful combination. So of course, I had to make a salad dressing with this in mind! It also works as a great marinade, or sauce to go over just about anything.

Roasted Garlic & Lemon

2 Heads fresh Garlic (yes, I said Heads)
2 tsp Olive Oil
¼ cup Raw Cashews, soaked for 3-8 hours
1 Lemon, Juice and Zest
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp Agave
1 cup Vegetable Broth
Salt and Pepper to taste


For the Roasted Garlic:
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Cut off the tips of the heads of garlic, exposing the ends of the cloves. Drizzle the ends with olive oil, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and wrap them in foil. Place the heads of garlic on a cookie sheet and place into the oven for 30-45 minutes, or until tender. Place aside to cool. Some of the cloves may be so tender that you can just squeeze them out of the paper, but others you may have to peel.

For the Dressing:
Combine all ingredients (including your freshly roasted garlic, and your drained cashews) in a food processor. Blend until it reaches your preferred consistency.


15. Another onion dressing? Heck Yeah! This one has a great fresh flavor because of the dill that's added in. It's not only a great salad dressing, but if you thicken it up with a tsp or 2 of tapioca starch or ground chia seed, you can also get a great dip for just about every occasion!

Sweet Onion & Dill

1 cup Vidalia Onion, chopped
½ cup Sunflower Oil
¼ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
3 tbsp Agave
1 tsp Nutritional Yeast
¼ cup fresh Dill, chopped fine
1 clove Garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper to taste


Instructions:
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.




     In any of these recipes, feel free to play with the ingredients. Switch up the vinegar, change up the spices, make these recipes your own.  Have fun, play around, and let me know what you think below!



Monday, April 8, 2019

Violet, for health and heart





     My husband and I enjoy a good hike, especially this time of year, before the heat of the summer. One of our favorite things to do is to watch all the wildflowers grow and bloom. While Florida's main wildflower season is usually in the fall, the spring also brings a bunch of beautiful blossoms. One, in particular, always stands out to me (possibly because my favorite color is purple) and that's the Violet.

     There are over 550 species of Violet world-wide, and we have about 10 here in Florida. All of them have similar medicinal and edible qualities, so they're all pretty much interchangeable. The most common one you'll find in North America, and especially here in the South East region of the US, is the Common Violet, or Viola sororia. This little flower is a light blueish purple color with heart shaped leaves. However the super fascinating bit about this plant is the other flowers that develop below ground. These subterranean blooms are the part of the plant that actually produce the seeds and only emerge from the ground when they're ready to spread those seeds. Some people refer to these flowers as “Plan B” flowers, which fairly accurate. If you were a plant who's leaves and flowers were so pretty that every little girl wants to pick them all, or so tasty that every passing animal wants to eat them all, wouldn't you want a different method of propagation for yourself? A “Plan B” so to speak?

Here are some examples of what different Violets may look like.




Special Announcement Time!!!:

     I have finally done it! I've made a video! And guess what... it's on VIOLETS! Check it out here and please follow, subscribe, like, and comment on it! Also, keep in mind it's my very first video. I am well aware that the editing is a bit rough. Practice makes perfect, so the more videos I make, the better they'll be, and I plan on making many more of these videos.

Now back to the lovely Violet 


Medicinal Uses:


Scientific Name- Viola spp. Most commonly used are Viola ororata, Viola sororia, Viola tricolor, and Viola yezoensis

Common Names- Ordinary violet, Common blue violet, Sweet violet, Garden violet, Common violet, Chinese violet, and other common names throughout the world.

Parts Used- All parts of this herb are used in various ways, however the most commonly used parts are the flowers and leaves. The roots tend to cause nausea and vomiting, so they are used in selective preparations.

Parts Eaten- Eat the aerial parts of the plant, the flowers and leaves, raw or cooked. The roots of most species can cause nausea and vomiting so it's best to avoid those. Violet is often used used to decorate cakes, salads, poultry, and fish. Candied violets are preserved with a coating of egg white and crystallized sugar.

Summary of Actions- Antioxidant, Anthocyanin, Uterotonic, Anticancer, Cathartic, Emollient, Laxative, Nervine, Antitussive, Antiscrofulous, Anodyne,  Depurative,  Diuretic, emetic, Refrigerant

General Benefits and Energetics- Violets are cooling and moist. They nourish and uplift our bodies and our spirits. However, they're not a nervine, nor are they antidepressant. They help to calm people who tend to be slightly “hotheaded,” especially if you notice an outburst looming. Violet tends to soften and bring about more flexibility in those who tend to be rigid, especially in their reaction to stress. Due to it's nourishing nature, the best way to gain it's benefits are by eating this lovely plant. The flowers make for a beautiful addition to any salad, cookie, cake, or even frozen in ice cubes. The leaves make a great, nutrient rich, thickener for soups and sauces. Put the flowers and leaves in water and allow to sit in the sun for a while, this makes a great sipping tea. Drying the leaves and making an overnight infusion is also a great way to get all the nutrients this little plant has to offer, this is especially great when you combine Violets with Nettles.

Flower Essence- The essence of Violet helps to open people up, this is especially useful for shy people who are searching for a new job, or anyone who is looking to start a new friendship. It also helps to calm down heat centered personalities. Helping hot headed people to maintain an even keel.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)- Known as Zi Hua di Ding in Chinese Medicine, Violet/Pansy works on the Heart and Liver Meridians. It's spicy, bitter, and cold properties are used to clear heat, remove toxins, and resolve masses. It's helpful in treating boils and carbuncles. It's also used to treat snake bites and inflammation. It's used in conjunction with dandelion to eliminate toxicity and is used to help treat cold deficient conditions.

Lymphatic System and Cancer- This herb is considered a great lymphatic stimulant. It helps to move the lymph, unclog blocked lymph nodes, and over time it can also clear up some of the more stubborn problems associated with slow or static lymph. This also helps to shrink tumors and clear up certain types of cancer before they can take hold and cause health problems.

Dry Skin, Wounds, and Insect Bites- Violet's mucilage content helps to soothe sore, inflamed skin. This makes it great for eczema, psoriasis, and other skin conditions. However it also works well to speed the healing of wounds and insect bites. It's also known to help bring boils to a head and to aid in their draining, helping to speed their healing.

Circulatory System, Varicose Veins, and Hemorrhoids-  Violet is considered to be a blood cleanser and circulatory tonic, but it''s anti-inflammatory actions work especially well on varicose veins and hemorrhoids. It works really well as a poultice for this action.

Digestion- Violet is one of many plants that contain a slimy substance that we commonly refer to as Mucilage. Mucilage is a great aid to digestion as it lubricates the entire GI tract, and I do mean the ENTIRE tract. It helps soothe any irritation and helps to move your food through the digestive processes, especially in cases of constipation. It really does aid just about everything from your mouth through to your bum.

Breast Health- Violet helps to clear up growths in the lymphatic tissues that make up our breasts. It helps to reduce the size of the growths and to clear up lumps, cysts, mastitis, plugged milk ducts, and fibrocystic breasts. In this case, violet is especially potent in the form of an infused oil. Just use the oil externally, as a massage oil, and give yourself a good breast massage. The action of the massage will help move congested lymph fluids and the violet will boost this action.

Headaches- Violet is a mild analgesic, which means that it does have some pain relieving properties. However, there are much better herbal analgesics out there, so it's not the first plant I'd call on for a headache or any other pain. However, it can be super helpful, especially in cases where your headache is caused more from dehydration (as is a large percentage of headaches), just add a bit of violet to your water, or make a quick tea, and drink away the pain.

Contraindications and Warnings- Consuming the root of a violet may cause nausea and vomiting.


     I only included a basic introduction to this amazing and beautiful little herb.  If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.



References:


7 Flowers Used in Chinese Medicine: Mercola: https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/08/31/7-flowers-chinese-medicine.aspx

Medicinal and Culinary Uses of Shy Violet: Heirloom Gardener: https://www.heirloomgardener.com/plant-profiles/medicinal-and-culinary-uses-for-shy-violet-zm0z19szhoe?utm_sq=g1ercttptv

Sweet Violet: Web MD: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-212/sweet-violet

The Virtues of Violets: The Herbal Academy: https://theherbalacademy.com/health-benefits-of-violets/

Violet: Alternative Nature Online Herbal: https://learnaboutherbs.com/gallery/violet.htm

Violet: Annie's Remedy: https://www.anniesremedy.com/viola-spp-violet-leaf.php

Violet: Susan Weed: http://www.susunweed.com/An_Article_wisewoman3e.htm

Violet Herb: Herbs with Rosalee: https://www.herbalremediesadvice.org/violet-herb.html

Violet (Wild Pansy): Ageless: https://ageless.co.za/herb-violet.htm

Violet (Pansy): White Rabbit Institute of Healing: https://www.whiterabbitinstituteofhealing.com/herbs/violet-pansy/

Violet's Edible and Medicinal Uses: Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine: https://chestnutherbs.com/violets-edible-and-medicinal-uses/

Violet, Sweet: A Modern Herbal: https://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/v/vioswe12.html

Zi Hua Di Ding (Viola or Yedeon's Violet): Sacred Lotus Chinese Medicine: https://www.sacredlotus.com/go/chinese-herbs/substance/zi-hua-di-ding-viola-yedeons-violet






Thursday, March 21, 2019

Coping with Loss







      Spring is in the air. Birds are singing, animals are frolicking, and even in this time of growth and renewal, there is always loss. Our lives are made up of a number of transitions. We are born and transition to life outside of the womb where we learn to communicate with others, to walk, to run, and eventually to grow. We all experience the transitions from childhood to adolescence, to adulthood, and eventually even to death. During those stages in our lives, a number of things change. Some we can control, others we can't. And with every door that closes, there is another that is opened. However, sometimes the closing of that initial door is harder than others. At times we may never notice it closing, at other times it slams shut so forcibly that we are startled, and sometimes we have a hard time recovering from the shock we are given when the door is closed unexpectedly. I'm going to step out of the realm of metaphors for a moment and talk to you about loss and grief.

     Grief is a process we go through whenever loss is experienced. Grief is most well known when death is involved, but it's not just a process that deals with death. You can grieve the loss of just about anything in your life, and grief is often experienced in times of transition. The loss of a job, the ending of a relationship, even moving from one place to another can trigger feelings of loss and the process of grief. There are even happy moments in our lives that may cause sadness and grief. It's a wonderful and magical time when a child is born, but the mother may feel a major loss in the process, after all she was just carrying that child inside her own womb and caring for it in a way that no one else on earth will ever experience. So even though the child is now out and able to grow and interact with the world at large, the mother may need to grieve for the loss of that intimacy with her child that she will never again have. It's perfectly normal to deal with feelings of grief and loss multiple times throughout your life. But what are those feelings and how do we deal with them?

     Grief is experienced differently by each individual person and can have a wide range of emotions and effects. Often people feel empty or numb immediately after their loss. Some people experience physical symptoms such as nausea, trouble breathing, dry mouth, insomnia, or problems eating. Some people get angry and have emotional outbursts. Many people feel guilt or feel the need to assign guilt to someone else. Often, a single person can go through all of these or just a few. As such, recovering from grief can be a very personal journey too. Some people find that their friends and/or family help to ease those feelings. Others just want to be alone to work through their grief. Some people dive into their tasks in an effort to forget their grief and just move on. A number of psychologists have developed models dealing with the stages of grief. The most well known is likely the 5 Stages of Grief developed in 1969 by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. She developed this model initially to deal with bereavement, which is a specific process of grieving the loss of a loved one. However, she later altered it to deal with all forms of loss. In her model there are 5 stages, and according to her studies everyone goes through at least 2 of these stages. Her 5 stages are:

1- Denial
     This is the stage where you may say things such as “this isn't happening” or “this can't be happening.” This is a normal defense mechanism that allows us to move through the initial wave of pain. For most people, this is the immediate response and can be likened to a kind of shock.

2- Anger
     Usually, people move through the stage of denial and into anger. This anger may be directed at ourselves in the form of guilt. Or it may be directed at others, or even inanimate objects or complete strangers. In our anger, we assign blame, or feel resentment. We may even resent the person who we lost for leaving, even if it was not their fault.

3- Bargaining
     In this stage, we often use “if only” statements, and we think of all the things we could have done differently to affect a different outcome. We often secretly make a deal with God, attempting to hold off the inevitable or to negate it all together. This is another stage accompanied by guilt. This guilt is often directed towards ourselves and our lack of ability to save our loved one or change the situation.

4- Depression
     Typically, there are two types of depression that come with grief. The first one is a more practical reaction, worrying about the cost of a funeral or divorce or even worrying that you're neglecting other loved ones while you're dealing with your current loss. This type of depression is usually alleviated with a little reassurance and some clarification. However, the second type of depression is typically more subtle and more personal. It's our own preparation to say goodbye, readying ourselves to start our new lives.

5- Acceptance
     Not everyone reaches this stage. Most of us have a hard time getting over our anger, or moving past denial. This stage is a stage of sadness and withdrawal, but often allows us to make peace with our situation. This is where  you accept that you will feel sad, but will be able to move on and continue to live your life without guilt.


     These stages do not necessarily occur in order, and  a number of people will revisit a few of these stages years down the road, or off and on throughout their life. However, it's important to understand that we all experience at least a few of these stages of grief when we feel a loss, or experience a transition. It's important to allow yourself to experience these stages. To move through them and to feel them. Some time ago I posted a guide to accepting the negative emotions in your life, this may help you to understand that these feeling are perfectly normal and healthy.

     If you are having problems feeling your grief and dealing with your loss, seek help. There are a number of amazing counselors out there that are trained to help you move through these emotions. There are also herbs that can help you to feel comfort, though just the act of making a simple tea can be a comfort in and of itself. Grief and loss is often referred to as heartache or heartbreak. Herbs that are gentile and beneficial to the cardiovascular system can often have a beneficial effect on our hearts in times of grief as well. Some herbs are also known to soothe our nerves, which can also help comfort us through grief. Herbs that are most well known to help during times of loss include Rose, Violet, Motherwort, and Linden. If you are dealing with anger, you may want to look into Lavender or Chamomile to help calm you down, both of these herbs work well in a tea or you can use their essential oils and diffuse their scent throughout your home. Citrus is known to lift the spirit and can be beneficial during times of depression when dealing with loss. Orange, Lime, Lemon, or Grapefruit make beautifully cheerful teas and the smell of them can often be enough to lift you out of a depressed state. There are also flower essences that can help you move through the process of grief. Reach out if you feel you need help.

     I hope I have provided a little help and support for your time of loss.  If you have any questions or comments please leave them below.

Resources:


5 Stages of loss and Grief: Psych Central: https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-5-stages-of-loss-and-grief/

A DIY Herbal Grief Tea for Loss: The Herbal Academy: https://theherbalacademy.com/herbal-grief-tea/

Coping with Grief and Loss: Help Guide: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/grief/coping-with-grief-and-loss.htm

Easing Grief with Bach Flower Remedies: Aldaron Essences: https://www.aldaronessences.com/easing-grief-bach-flower-remedies#!

Flower Essences for Depression and Grief: Body Mind Spirit Online: http://www.bodymindspiritonline.com/bodymindspirit/edition23/flower-essences-for-depression-and-grief.html

Grief: Bach Flower Remedies: https://bach-flower.com/pages/bach-flower-remedies-grief

Grief- a Combination Remedy: Blessed Flower Essences: http://www.blessedfloweressences.com/Blog/products/combination-essences/grief/

Grief, Loss and Bereavement: Good Therapy: https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/grief

Herbal Support for Grief and Loss: Herban Wellness: http://www.herbanwellness.net/2018/01/15/herbal-support-for-grief-and-loss/

Herbs for Grief: Steady Health: https://ic.steadyhealth.com/herbs-for-grief

Herbs for Grief, Heartbreak, and Loss: Siobhan Cosgrave: https://siobhancosgrave.com/herbs-grief-heartbreak-loss/

Herbs for Grief, Sadness, and Broken Heart: Wellness Insider Network: http://www.lanacamiel.com/herbs-grief-sadness-broken-heart/

Herbs for Heartbreak: Mountain Rose Herbs: https://blog.mountainroseherbs.com/herbs-heartbreak

Homeopathy for Grief and Emotional Trauma: Natural Medicine: http://www.naturalmedicine.net.nz/homeopathy/homeopathy-for-grief-and-emotional-trauma/

How Do I Grieve? Grief Work and TEARS: Dr. Christina Hibbert: https://www.drchristinahibbert.com/dealing-with-grief/how-do-we-grieve-grief-work-and-tears/

How to Deal With Grief: Dr Bradford & Associates: http://drbradford.org/grief-and-loss/

Tips to Help Yourself in Times of Grief: Very Well Health: https://www.verywellhealth.com/working-through-grief-10-helpful-tips-1132522

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Stuffed Grape Leaves






     Grapes are grown as a staple food source throughout the world. Most people are familiar with the fresh fruit, and even the dried raisins. These are a great snack for people of all ages, and they're considered to be the best fruit to use for wine making. However, the leaves are also edible, and no one knows how to cook them like the Mediterranean cultures. Dolmades, dolmas, Warak Enab, these amazing little stuffed grape leaves go by a number of different names and have quite a few variations. All of which are absolutely delicious! Almost all Mediterranean countries have a version (or 10) of stuffed grape leaves, some with meat, some without. I'm going to share a few of my favorites with you today!

     Before I introduce you to the recipes, I want to talk about the most tedious, and sometimes difficult, part of this dish. Rolling the grape leaves. If you're working with fresh grape leaves, you may want to parboil them for 3-5 min. This leaves them nice and supple, and MUCH much easier to roll. Most of the canned leaves you may encounter at the store are already nice and pliable, but you may still want to dip them in some boiling water for a minute or two just to make sure the brine is all washed off. You want to make sure that the leaf is laid out flat with the veins facing upwards (some people prefer to roll the other way, do what makes you happy!). Make sure you trim off the stem, you don't want that bad boy poking through and ripping a hole in your leaf. Depending on the size of your leaves, you only want to put 1-2 tablespoons of stuffing in each. The rice will continue to expand in the cooking process and you want to make sure to leave enough room for that to happen. Place the stuffing close to where the stem was, in the center of the bottom section. I like to start with the right side, but you can start with the left if you prefer. Bring up the lower, right section of the leaf, over the stuffing towards the center. Repeat with the left side. It's ok if you see a little of the stuffing, it'll all be covered soon. Fold in the left section of the leaf over the lower left section you just folded. Then bring in the right side. Now, pretend you have a tiny burrito and start your roll. Start rolling from the bottom, keep it snug, but not too snug, you're still saving room for that rice. Plus, you don't want to rip it. When you've got it completely rolled up, give it a good, but gentle, squeeze in the palm of your hand. Just make sure that you place your rolls with the seam down while you cook them. This will keep them from unraveling in your pan. Lynn Livanos Athan has a good little tutorial on this at The Spruce Eats. There's also a trick you can use that may make the rolling a bit faster. You can find the video here.

     Once you've rolled all your grape leaves, then you need to put them in your pot to cook. Make sure you put something on the bottom first, either tomato slices, onions, slices of potatoes, or just some left over grape leaves. But if you don't do this, your beautifully rolled grape leaves will stick to the bottom of your pot.

As always, the following recipes are gluten free and vegan friendly.


1. Back to the basics!

Traditionally, grape leaves are stuffed with a combination of rice, herbs, and the option of ground beef and lamb. So here's a good traditional recipe, leaving out the meat. If you want to add that in, feel free to do so. Also, if you're trying to avoid Olive Oil, try using Avocado oil or Sunflower oil instead.


Vegetarian Stuffed Grape Leaves


60 Grape Leaves, drained and rinsed twice
2 cups Rice
2 cups Olive Oil
2 large Onions, finely chopped
4 cups Water
juice of 3 Lemons
3 tbsp fresh Dill, chopped
1 ½ cup fresh Parsley, chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Tomato, sliced thick
1 Onion, sliced thick
3-4 Grape Leaves
Water to cover


Instructions:
Prepare your grape leaves. If you are lucky enough to find fresh ones, follow my instructions above. If you are using canned leaves, make sure you rinse them 1-2 times, the brine tends to be super salty. Lay them flat, on a plate, with a wet towel over them so they don't dry out.

For the stuffing, in a pan, over medium-high heat, saute the onions with 1 cup olive oil. Saute until they are just translucent. Rinse the rice and add rice to the onions. Saute for an additional 1 minute, then add in 4 cups of water and the juice of 1 lemon. Simmer this mixture for about 7 minutes. Add in all the herbs, salt, and pepper. Give it a good stir. Remove it from heat and allow it to cool.

Line a large pot with 3-4 grape leaves, the sliced tomatoes, and sliced onions. Roll your grape leaves using my instructions from above. Place the rolled grape leaves, seam down, inside the pot, make sure to pack them in tight for each layer, to help prevent them from coming unrolled. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over your rolls, and add in a bit more salt and pepper if you want. Place an inverted plate on top of the grape leaves to keep them from floating up in the cooking process. Pour in the remaining lemon juice and enough water to just barely cover your rolls. Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for about 30-40 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit for an additional 30 minutes.

Traditionally, these vegetarian grape leaves are served cool or room temperature, with a squeeze of fresh lemon and some yogurt. However they're also delicious hot. Enjoy!


2. Lentils and Chickpeas.

I love using lentils and/or chickpeas in my grape leaves. They add a boost of protein and texture that just takes these delicious rolls to the next level. In the following recipe, I used lentils, but you can use chickpeas, fava beans, kidney beans, or really any cooked bean in place of the lentils.

Lentil Stuffed Grape Leaves


60 Grape Leaves, drained and rinsed twice
1 lb cooked Lentils
2 cups Rice
2 cups Olive Oil
2 large Onions, finely chopped
4 cups Water
juice of 2 Lemons
2 tbsp Zaatar
¼ tsp Allspice
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Potato, sliced thick
1 Carrot, sliced thick
3-4 Grape Leaves
Water to cover


Instructions:
Prepare your grape leaves. If you are lucky enough to find fresh ones, follow my instructions above. If you are using canned leaves, make sure you rinse them 1-2 times, the brine tends to be super salty. Lay them flat, on a plate, with a wet towel over them so they don't dry out.

For the stuffing, in a pan, over medium-high heat, saute the onions with 1 cup olive oil. Saute until they are just translucent. Rinse the rice and add rice to the onions. Saute for an additional 1 minute, then add in 4 cups of water and the juice of 1 lemon. Simmer this mixture for about 7 minutes. Add in all the lentils, herbs, salt, and pepper. Give it a good stir. Remove it from heat and allow it to cool.

Line a large pot with 3-4 grape leaves, the sliced potatoes, and sliced carrots. Roll your grape leaves using my instructions from above. Place the rolled grape leaves, seam down, inside the pot, make sure to pack them in tight for each layer, to help prevent them from coming unrolled. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over your rolls, and add in a bit more salt and pepper if you want. Place an inverted plate on top of the grape leaves to keep them from floating up in the cooking process. Pour in the remaining lemon juice and enough water to just barely cover your rolls. Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for about 30-40 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit for an additional 30 minutes.

Traditionally, these grape leaves are served hot. They are also delicious at room temperature. I personally love eating these with fresh tomato slices and a bit of lemon juice. Enjoy!


3. Add in the good stuff!

This is my absolute favorite stuffed grape leaves recipe. There are so many good things added into the stuffing that it cannot be called “basic.” If you don't like one of these ingredients, simply substitute something you do like. For instance, if you don't like tomatoes in your grape leaves, try using green peas or corn instead. You could even chop up some boiled eggs, or tofu, and add that into the stuffing. The most important thing about any of my recipes, is that you have fun making it and you enjoy eating it!

Vegetable Stuffed Grape Leaves


60 Grape Leaves, drained and rinsed twice
1 Large Tomato, finely chopped
1 Zucchini, finely chopped
1 Medium Carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1-2 ribs of Celery, finely chopped
¼ Green Bell Pepper, finely chopped
3-4 Green Onions, finely chopped
2 cups Rice
2 cups Olive Oil
1 Large Red Onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp Minced Garlic
4 cups Water
juice of 2 Lemons
1 cup fresh Parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp Crushed Pepper
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Tomato, sliced thick
1 Onion, sliced thick
3-4 Grape Leaves
Water to cover


Instructions:
Prepare your grape leaves. If you are lucky enough to find fresh ones, follow my instructions above. If you are using canned leaves, make sure you rinse them 1-2 times, the brine tends to be super salty. Lay them flat, on a plate, with a wet towel over them so they don't dry out.

For the stuffing, in a pan, over medium-high heat, saute the red onion, garlic, celery, and carrots with 1 cup olive oil. Saute until the onions are just translucent. Rinse the rice and add rice to the onions. Saute for an additional 1 minute, then add in 4 cups of water and the juice of 1 lemon. Simmer this mixture for about 7 minutes. Add in all the remaining vegetables, herbs, salt, and pepper. Give it a good stir. Remove it from heat and allow it to cool.

Line a large pot with 3-4 grape leaves, the sliced potatoes, and sliced carrots. Roll your grape leaves using my instructions from above. Place the rolled grape leaves, seam down, inside the pot, make sure to pack them in tight for each layer, to help prevent them from coming unrolled. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over your rolls, and add in a bit more salt and pepper if you want. Place an inverted plate on top of the grape leaves to keep them from floating up in the cooking process. Pour in the remaining lemon juice and enough water to just barely cover your rolls. Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for about 30-40 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit for an additional 30 minutes.

Serve these either hot or cold. With or without lemon juice and yogurt. Enjoy!




I hope you enjoy these Stuffed Grape Leaves! Let me know what you think down below!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Sida





     Ephedrine. It's an alkaloid that has been used medicinally for hundreds of years. Typically it's either extracted from Ephedra, a shrub that contains high amounts of ephedrine and grants it's name to the chemical, or it's synthetically produced in a lab. This alkaloid is great for a number of health problems, including bronchitis, asthma, and nasal congestion. However, with it's possible side effects and due to it's being one of the chemicals used in the production of methamphetamine, ephedrine has been strictly regulated and is mostly illegal to posses and use unless you have a prescription.

     So you may have noticed that the name of this post is Sida, and you may be wondering why my opening remarks are about Ephedrine. Well, Sida contains small amounts of this alkaloid. Which makes Sida illegal to posses and use in most states, unless you are a licensed acupuncturist. While I understand the reasoning behind the regulation of ephedrine, having the regulation be so strict might be going a bit overboard. A plant like Sida, which contains a very very small amount of ephedrine, and is readily found in my front yard, cannot be harvested and used by most people because of this regulation. However, it's a common weed in my area, and is a traditional wild food. Most people who would want to harvest and use this plant are not going to harvest enough of it to be able to extract a large enough amount of ephedrine to synthesize methamphetamine. Not to mention, regulating a traditional food source can be a bit upsetting to those who still use it for food. Imagine if the government were to regulate spinach in the same fashion.

     But enough about my rant, and on to the more pleasant details about this awesome little herb.


Medicinal Uses:


Scientific Name- Sida acuta, S. carpinifolia, S. rhombifiolia, S. cordifolia, S. spinosa, and S. tiagii. There are over 120 species world wide that have been used in a traditional sense. These are the ones that have been studied the most and who's traditional use has been verified, largely, by modern science.

Common Names- Most of the plants in the Sida genus are typically called something to do with “fanpetals.” S. spinosa is known as Prickly Fanpetals. S. cordata is called Heartleaf Fanpetals. However, most of the more medicinally useful species tend to be the exceptions. S. acuta is commonly called Wireweed, Teaweed, Ironweed, and Broomweed (it's typically used to make brooms). S. cordifolia is commonly known as Country Mallow. S. rhombifolia is Cuban Jute. If you haven't noticed yet, a lot of the names have something to do with cordage of some sort. These plants are usually used for a traditional kind of cordage just about everywhere they grow.

Parts Used- Every part of this plant is used. Most commonly, people tend to stick to the arial parts. Though that could be due to the ease of the harvest. Stephen Harrod Buhner, author of Herbal Antibiotics, states that “harvesting the root of a mature plant in this genus is as difficult as conveying to a politician the meaning of the word integrity.”

Parts Eaten- One of my favorite foragers, Green Deane, says that Sida is “barely edible.” However, I also know of several people who drink a tea made from the leaves, and cook the young leaves and flowers as a pot herb. Personally, I don't mind it as a pot herb, mixed in with other greens, and the tea is pleasant.

Summary of Actions- Antibiotic, abortifacient, anthelmintic, antidote, antiemetic, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antipyretic, antirheumatic, aphrodisiac, anti-inflammatory, bitter, cardio tonic, contraceptive, cytotoxic, demulcent, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, emollient, nervine,  febrifuge, hepatoprotective, hypotensive, hypoglycaemic, stomachic, tonic, and vulnerary

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)- Huang Hua Mu, as Sida rhombifolia is known in China, is used to clear heat, benefit dampness, and stop pain. Typically it is used to lift depression, to treat bronchitis, clear up cough, and to help treat urinary tract infections.

Ayurveda- Known as Bala in the Ayurvedic tradition, this herb balances all three doshas, but works particularly well on vata. It's beneficial to treat diarrhea, and can be described as nutritive and invigorating. It's often used to rejuvenate the nervous, circulatory, and urinary systems. It's also cooling and astringent and also used to speed the healing of wounds, reduce inflammation, and to treat bleeding disorders.

Antibiotic- Sida is a systemic antibiotic, meaning that it gets absorbed into the blood stream and circulates throughout the whole body. Sida works well to treat systemic Staph infections, infected wounds, E. coli, Listeria, Salmonella, and quite a few other bacterial infections.

Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria- MRSA has become a pretty big problem in recent years. Sida works extremely well to help treat MRSA and other resistant infections by blocking their ability to reproduce. MRSA and other resistant bacteria developed their resistance to antibiotics because of the single compound nature of the antibiotics. Herbs can sometimes prove super effective against them because they contain hundreds of compounds that the bacteria just cant seem to fight as efficiently.

Fever- The whole plant is useful to help reduce fever. It's also a great antimicrobial, so it helps fight the cause of the fever as well. 

Wound Care- The juice of the roots is used to help speed the healing of wounds, but the leaf can also be used in a poultice for the same. 

Digestion- Being a member of the Mallow family (Malvaceae), Sida is full of mucilage. This makes it ideal for most issues with the digestive system, helping to soothe the entire gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It's great to help relieve stomach aches, indigestion, and diarrhea.

Upper Respiratory- The ephedrine content of Sida makes is a great ally for most upper respiratory conditions, including asthma and bronchitis. 

Male and Female Reproductive Uses- Soothes inflammation of the testicles. The juice of the whole plant is also used to help treat gonorrhea. It is also used to help increase the quantity and quality of sperm while helping to control the pre-ejaculation of sperm. It's also used to help stimulate the start of menses in women who are having problems with late menses. This is why it's so dangerous in the early stages of pregnancy. It has been historically used as a birth control method for this reason.

Contraindications and Warnings- This plant does contain a small amount of ephedrine, a controlled substance here in the U.S. Ephedrine has been known to increase heart rate, especially in conjunction with caffeine. This can cause some serious health problems. It can also interact with a number of medications, including steroids, beta-blockers, and MAO inhibitors. Check with your doctor before taking this herb in any quantity. Also not recommended for the early stages of pregnancy, though it can be beneficial in the final trimester. Check with your doctor or midwife before taking this herb if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Sida also lowers blood glucose levels, so use caution if your are diabetic. Sida is also harmful to goats. 


     I only included a basic introduction to this amazing herb.  If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.



References:


Book- Herbal Antibiotics by Stephen Harrod Buhner

Bala: Med India: https://www.medindia.net/alternativemedicine/bala.asp

Bala-Country Mallow-Sida Cordifolia-Uses, Side Effects: Easy Ayurveda: https://easyayurveda.com/2012/10/03/country-mallow-sida-cordifolia-ayurveda-details-health-benefits/

Bala (Sida Cordifolia): Bimbima: https://www.bimbima.com/ayurveda/herb-information-balasida-cordifolia/614/

Country Mallow: Himalaya Wellness: http://www.himalayawellness.com/herbfinder/sida-cordifolia.htm

Herbal Antibiotics: Herbal Prepper: https://www.herbalprepper.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Herbal-Antibiotic-Presentation-Slides-Feb-2016.pdf

Sida Acuta: Aravindh Herbal Labs: http://www.aravindhherbal.com/sida-acuta.html

Sida Acuta: Henriette's Herbal Homepage: https://www.henriettes-herb.com/plants/sida/acuta.html

Sida Acuta: Herbpathy: https://herbpathy.com/Uses-and-Benefits-of-Sida-Acuta-Cid4894

Sida Acuta: Useful Tropical Plants: http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Sida+acuta

Sida Cordifolia: WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-837/sida-cordifolia

Sida Rhombifolia: Earth Medicine Institute: http://earthmedicineinstitute.com/more/library/medicinal-plants/sida-rhombifolia/

Sida, Wireweed: Eat The Weeds: http://www.eattheweeds.com/sida-wireweed/

Systemic Herbal Antibiotics-Sida: Health Tips: http://tipsdiscover.com/health/systemic-herbal-antibiotics-sida/

Top 10 Health Benefits and Medicinal Uses of Bala (Sida Cordifolia): Gyanunlimited: https://www.gyanunlimited.com/health/top-10-health-benefits-and-medicinal-uses-of-bala-sida-cordifolia-for-weight-loss-hair-and-skin/11756/

Ualisualisan: Philippine Medicinal Plants: http://stuartxchange.org/Ualisualisan.html





Tuesday, February 12, 2019

10 Rose Recipes





     Rose is such a great flower, and has quite a few medicinal properties. However, we also forget that it's a traditional ingredient in quite a few foods, especially of the Middle Eastern variety. Using rose petals, rose water, and rose hips is a great way to add a bit of flair to any dish though. Check out some of my favorite recipes using the flowers (or water) and hips of this great plant.


Rose Petals/Water 

     Rose petals, and rose water, have a great floral taste that enhances quite a few dishes. It's more commonly used in sweet, dessert style food. But rose goes so well with so many spices that you can really add it into most any spice mixture. Rose is a great addition to Berbere, Garam Masala, and Adveih, and well as many more. Check out these 5 recipes using rose petals (or rose water made from those petals).


1. Starting with a treat! Rose petal jelly is delicious on any occasion, but adding a little clove and cardamom steps it up to a treat that will be hard to put down.

Spiced Rose Petal Jelly
(4 Servings)

3 ½ cups Water
2 Whole Cloves
1 Cardamom Pod, crushed
1/3 cup dried Rose Petals
1 ¾ oz Pectin
Juice of 1 Lemon
1 cup, lightly packed, fresh Rose Petals
4 cups Sugar

Instructions:
In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Stir in dried Rose petals, cloves, and cardamom pod. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 15 minutes. Strain and discard the solids. Return to the saucepan and stir in the fresh petals, lemon juice, and pectin. Stir until the pectin is dissolved. Over high heat, bring the new mixture to a boil and add the sugar. Set a timer and boil for 2 full minutes, stirring constantly. After 2 minutes, transfer mixture to sterilized jars, seal, and allow to come to room temperature before placing it in the refrigerator overnight to set. After it has set, it will hold in the pantry for up to 6 months, or in the fridge for up to 1 year.


2. Roses in a savory dish? No way! Well, guess what. Roses go great with savory things too! This recipe features roses used in a Moroccan style sauce called a Chermoula, which is usually used as a marinade for fish. This recipe, however, uses the sauce for roasting a mixture of chickpeas, carrots, and zucchini. You can use any of the left over sauce for other dishes such as eggplant “steaks,” shrimp kabobs, chicken, or even tofu. It's so versatile.

Rose Roasted Chickpeas
(2 Main-Dish Servings, or 4 Sides)

Chermoula Sauce:
¼ cup Parsley Leaves
¼ cup Cilantro Leaves
3 cloves fresh Garlic, smashed
4 tbsp Olive Oil
4 tbsp Vegetable Broth
Juice of 1 Lemon, reserve the zest
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp dried Rose Petals
½ tsp Salt
¼ tsp Pepper
*optional: up to ½ tsp Cayenne powder (however spicy you want it)

Chickpeas:
4 Carrots, peeled and diced
2 small Zucchinis, diced
1 can Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tsp Sauce
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 tsp dried Rose Buds
Zest of 1 Lemon (reserved from making the sauce)
*optional: Yogurt or Dairy Free alternative as a topping

Instructions:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Combine all your sauce ingredients in a food processor and pulse until a thick paste forms. Adjust any seasoning if necessary. Toss the carrots in some olive oil and place them on a lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle them with a little salt and pepper, and bake them for 10 minutes, or until tender. Combine all remaining other ingredients and toss well, coating the vegetables well with the sauce. After the 10 minutes are up, remove the carrots from the oven and add to the vegetable mixture. Toss once more to coat the carrots and place the mixture back onto the cookie sheet. Roast for 25-30 more minutes, or until carrots are fork tender and slightly charred. Remove from the oven, drizzle a little more sauce on top (if you need to thin it out, add a bit of water) and a dollop of yogurt.


3. Back to more familiar rose territory. This sweet bread makes a great treat either drizzled with honey or used to make a killer french toast breakfast.

Honey Rose-Berry Bread
(10 Servings)

1 tbsp ground Flax Seed
2 ½ tbsp Water
¼ cup dried Rose Petals
2 cups Gluten Free Flour (my favorite is by Namaste)
½ cup ground Chia Seeds and/or Flax Seeds
1 ½ tsp Gluten Free Baking Powder
½ tsp Baking Soda
½ tsp Salt
Zest of 1 Lemon
¼ cup fresh Strawberries, diced
¼ cup fresh or dried Blueberries
1 cup Honey or ½ cup Agave nectar
2/3 cup Rose Water
1/3 cup of Lemon Juice (juice of 3 small lemons)

Glaze:
1 cup Honey (or ½ cup Agave Nectar and ½ cup Water)
2 tbsp Rose Water


Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9X5in loaf pan. Combine 1 tbsp ground flax seed with 2 ½ tbsp water, mix well and set in the fridge to chill, at least 10 minutes. Lightly crush rose petals in a small bowl and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, add in flour, ground chia/flax seed, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk well to combine. Fold in rose petals, berries, and lemon zest. Mix well. In a separate bowl, mix honey (or agave), chilled flax seed mixture, rose water, and lemon juice. Stir well. Pour mixture over flour mixture and stir well until combined. Pour batter into your greased loaf pan and bake about 1 hour. Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Invert the pan to flip out the bread and continue to cool on a cooling rack while you prepare the glaze. For the glaze, in a small saucepan on medium-high heat, combine honey (or agave and water) with rose water. Bring mixture to a gentile boil and remove from the heat. Whisk well and pour over the cooled bread.  (if you really want that glaze to impact the flavor of the bread, use a toothpick to punch tiny holes over the top of your bread before adding on the glaze)



4. Rose makes a refreshing drink as well. Not only do the petals and hips make a lovely tea, but you can add them to lemonade, sangria, mojitos, etc. Here's one of my favorites, Hibiscus Rose Lemonade recipe for the summers.

Hibiscus Rose Lemonade
(1 Quart)

1 ½ -2 cups Sugar or Honey (however sweet you like it)
1 ½ cups Water
½ cup dried Rose Petals
½ cup dried Hibiscus Flowers
2 cups freshly squeezed Lemon Juice (about 10-12 Lemons)
Ice

Instructions:
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the sugar/honey and water to a boil. Reduce heat to low and stir until sugar/honey is dissolved. Add in the rose petals and hibiscus flowers, cover, and remove from heat. Allow to cool for 45 minutes. Pour mixture over ice and stir well before adding in the lemon juice and stirring one last time. Taste your lemonade and adjust the sweetness if desired. If you want some more rose flavor, simply add a ½ tsp of rose water at a time until it reaches the flavor you want.


5. I love chia pudding. It makes for a great breakfast, starting you day off with all the benefits of chia. It's also a great snack for when I'm just craving sweets. This variation adds in the soft, floral flavor of rose and the rich flavor of chocolate.

Chocolate Rose Chia Seed Pudding
(4 Servings)

2 cups Coconut Milk
½ cup Chia Seeds
½ tsp Rose Water
¼ cup Honey or 2 tbsp Agave Nectar
¼ tsp Cacao Powder

Instructions:
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Optionally, you can put them in a food processor and process to make a smooth chia pudding. Cover and refrigerate over night (or at least 4 hours). Mixing it a few times within the first hour helps it to gel evenly. This one is great topped with strawberries.



Rose Hips

     Rose hips (the fruit of the rose plant) are super high in vitamin C, making them taste a bit on the citrus-y side, though some people compare their taste to a tart cherry. You can use them in place of cranberries, citrus, or cherries in just about any recipe. However, when they're dried they are usually pretty hard. So if the recipe calls for dried fruit, make sure you add a bit of water or juice to them and allow them to reconstitute for a bit before using them in your recipes. 


1. This dip is a great slightly sweet, tart dip for just about any occasion. I like to serve this with gluten free graham crackers, but it also works well with apples and other fruit.


Pecan Rose Hip Dip
(makes about 1 ½ cups)

8 oz Cream Cheese or a Dairy-Free alternative
½ cup dried Rose Hips 
¼ cup Pineapple Juice
¼ cup chopped Pecans
1 tsp Orange Zest
¼ cup Honey or 2 tsp Agave Nectar
½ tsp freshly grated Ginger
2 teaspoons Orange juice

Instructions:
In a small bowl, combine the rose hips and pineapple juice. Chill overnight to reconstitute. Once reconstituted, combine all ingredients (including the reconstituted rose hips, don't drain them) in a medium sized mixing bowl and mix well. Chill for 10 minutes prior to serving.


2. This twist on everyone's favorite party snack is full of surprises. It's not only a great dip, but I also like to use it on some of my savory main dishes. It's great over turkey (or any poultry really), pork, and it also adds a southwestern flare to eggplant “steaks” and veggie burgers.


Rose Hip Salsa
(10 servings)

12 oz dried Rose Hips
¼ cup Lime Juice
¼ cup water
¼ cup Honey or 2 tsp Agave Nectar
¼ cup diced sweet Onions
2 fresh Jalapenos, seeded and minced
¼ cup fresh Cilantro Leaves, minced
Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions:
Combine rose hips, lime juice, water, and honey/agave. Mix well, cover and chill overnight to reconstitute. When reconstituted, add in remaining ingredients in a food processor and process until they reach your desired consistency.


3. Rose hips in rice? Heck Yeah! Rose hips add a great bit of sweet and tart flavor to a number of dishes, but I'm really a huge fan of how they can make rice and quinoa dishes really pop. This recipe makes for a great side dish, use quinoa instead of brown rice, and add some more of your favorite vegetables (such as Brussels sprouts or green beans) to make it a super healthy and filling one dish meal.

Brown Rice with Rose Hips and Almonds
(6 Side Dish Servings)

1 tbsp Olive Oil
¼ medium sized Sweet Onion, finely diced
¼ cup Celery, finely diced
1 1/3 cups uncooked long grain Brown Rice
1 2/3 cups Water
1 cup Vegetable Broth
2/3 cup dried Rose Hips
Salt and Pepper to taste
2/3 cup Almonds, sliced or slivered and toasted
1 tbsp fresh Parsley, minced

Instructions:
In a sauce pan, over medium-high heat, saute the olive oil, onions, and celery together until just translucent. Add in the rice, water, vegetable broth, and rose hips. Bring it to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about 40 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. Stir in remaining ingredients, cover again, and allow to cook another 5 minutes, or until all the remaining liquid is absorbed.


4. Bread is such a staple in most of the cultures of the world, and there are so many different kinds of bread to make. Quick breads are my personal favorite for a number of reasons, although the most important one is that they're the easiest to make gluten free. This quick bread recipe also makes for great muffins for breakfast, or just a snack.

Rose Hip Bread (or Muffins)
(10 Servings)

1 tbsp ground Flax Seed
2 ½ tbsp Water
1 cup dried Rose Hips
½ cup Apple Juice
2 cups Gluten Free Flour (my favorite is by Namaste)
½ cup ground Chia Seeds and/or Flax Seeds
1 ½ tsp Gluten Free Baking Powder
½ tsp Baking Soda
½ tsp Salt
Zest of 1 Lemon
1 cup Honey or ½ cup Agave nectar
2/3 cup Orange Juice
1/3 cup of Lemon Juice (juice of 3 small lemons)


Instructions:
Combine 1 tbsp ground flax seed with 2 ½ tbsp water, mix well. In a separate bowl, combine rose hips and apple juice. Set both mixtures in the fridge to chill overnight. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9X5in loaf pan (or line a muffin pan with papers). In a medium mixing bowl, add in flour, ground chia/flax seed, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk well to combine. Fold in rose hips and lemon zest. Mix well. In a separate bowl, mix honey (or agave), chilled flax seed mixture, orange juice, and lemon juice. Stir well. Pour mixture over flour mixture and stir well until combined. Pour batter into your prepared pan and bake about 1 hour (muffins may not take as long, so check them after about 30 min and every 10 min after that). Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Invert the pan to flip out the bread and continue to cool on a cooling rack.


5. Here we come to the easiest recipe in this post. And one of my personal favorites.

Easy Rose Hip “Jam”
(about 1 ½ cups)

1 cup Rose Hips, dried
1 ½ cups unfiltered Apple Juice
1 tsp Orange Zest

Instructions:
Simply combine all the ingredients in a bowl, cover and allow to sit overnight. Pour mixture into a food processor and process until it reaches your desired consistency. Store in the fridge.

If you want to skip letting it sit overnight, you can pour the mixture into a saucepan and bring it to a boil on the stove top. Reduce it to a simmer and allow to cook for about 4-5 minutes. Allow it to cool and puree it in the food processor.








   
     I hope you enjoy making (and eating) these great Rose recipes!  If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below!


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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...