Thursday, June 21, 2018

5 Herbs to Grow Inside

     There are many wonders that modern technology has given us. We have the world at our fingertips, and an easy way to travel. But in the South, and especially here in Florida, there's one modern miracle that makes life so much easier this time of year, air conditioning. A/C makes summertime in Florida livable. Unfortunately the air quality inside most of our homes is pretty horrible. We use chemicals in everything, and all of those chemicals effect our air quality. Since we are spending so much more time inside to beat the heat, what can we do to clean our air and make life a little more pleasant? Plants! Bring the herb garden inside! That way you have easy access to herbs you love to use, and they help to filter your air. Here's a list of 5 of my favorite herbs to grow inside and why they're so awesome!

1. Aloe Aloe Vera

Aloe is a plant that I use almost every day. I make quite a few hair and skin products using aloe gel, I use the whole leaf to reduce inflammation, and I even drink aloe water. It has a number of amazing health properties and I could go on and on and on. In fact, one of my first posts on this page was all about aloe. It's easy to take care of as long as you keep it well drained and it helps to filter out formaldehyde, which is commonly found in carpets, rugs, and furniture.

2. Rosemary Rosmarinus officialis

Rosemary might be a little tricky to grow inside, especially if you're new to gardening (this page has some great tips). However, it's well worth the effort. Not only does it help to purify the air, but it releases essential oils from it's leaves. These oils actually improve cognitive function. They help improve memory, protect the brain from free radicals, and they help keep your house smelling great. Plus, whenever you need some rosemary for that special recipe, it's just a few feet away!

3. Mint Mentha spp.

Mint is another herb I tend to use a lot. It helps improve the flavor of quite a few teas, tastes great in salad, improves digestion, and smells great. However, when you plant it, it will take over EVERYTHING. So I always make sure it's in a container, inside or outside, and I never plant it with other plants. I used to have a decent sized container that had 7 different varieties of mint, from pineapple mint to chocolate mint. However, the chocolate mint slowly took over and now I just have a large container of that. Lessons learned. But it's still a great plant to grow inside. It works well to filter air, but it also makes the air easier to breathe for those with weak lungs.

4. Lavender Lavandula angustifolia

Lavender is one of my favorite plants to grow indoors. It keeps the house smelling fresh and clean, repels insects, helps reduce anxiety, improves sleep, and is one of my favorite scents. However there are a few people who are allergic, and if you have cats make sure to keep it in a place your kitty won't get to. Cat's livers cannot process the lavender very well and may not cause immediate reactions, but over time the build up can cause liver damage. However, keep in mind that lavender LOVES sunlight and well drained, not very rich, soil. Windowsills are a great place for lavender to go.

5. Rose Geranium Pelargonium graveolens

There are over 200 different species of geranium, and they are all great air purifiers and easy to care for. I prefer to grow Rose Geranium, however, because it's also a great tea for diabetics, it lowers blood glucose levels fairly quickly. All geraniums also repel insects and can survive without water for up to 2 weeks. Rose Geranium also smells very similar to roses, so it's a great way to get a beautiful, floral scent in your home without having to resort to chemical heavy scents. The more sunlight it has, the more it blooms, the more fragrance you'll notice. It also helps filter out, not just chemicals, but also bacteria from the air. So if your family is prone to infections, invest in some Rose Geranium plants.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Fermented Coleslaw

     This is the time of year for picnics! It's absolutely gorgeous outside, school's out, and living in Florida means that I'm within a few hours drive of some of the most beautiful natural springs and beaches. Coleslaw is a staple in almost every summertime Southern gathering, from picnics to cookouts. What better way to enjoy the summer? I actually have a handful of coleslaw recipes I tend to cycle through, and I figured that I'd share a few of them with you.

     A few years ago, I started fermenting every vegetable I could get my hands on. Some turned out amazing, and others needed work. However the most consistent ferments I made were cabbages and root vegetables. I love cabbage, but we all know how wonderful raw cabbage can be for our digestion. So I thought, why not make my coleslaw with fermented cabbage to ease the digestive process? It worked so well that I have not looked back, and keep coming up with new fermented coleslaw recipes. 

But why ferment at all? 

     There are more bacterial cells in our bodies than there are our own cells.  These bacteria are considered to be our microbiome (  A healthy microbiome can improve immunity, metabolism, sustains the gastrointestinal tract, supports healthy mood and brain functions, aids in proper nutrient production and absorption, as well as helping maintain healthy weight.  Eating fermented foods is one of the easiest ways to balance your microbiome.  When your microbiome is unbalanced, a number of health issues can easily develop, including depression and digestive conditions.  This is especially important after a prolonged illness and after taking antibiotics. 

The Fermented Veggies:
     Here is a recipe for fermented cabbage and other veggies to use in a slaw recipe. If you want to make a broccoli slaw instead of a traditional cabbage slaw, just use 6 cups of peeled and julienned broccoli stems in place of the green cabbage, and reduce the red cabbage by half.

Fermented Cabbage for Slaw

½ medium Green Cabbage, very thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
½ medium Red Cabbage, very thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
2 medium Carrots, peeled; julienned or grated
1 medium Onion julienned or grated
About 6 cups Distilled Water
About 4 ½ tablespoon Sea Salt

Mix together all the freshly cut vegetables and lightly salt as you pack them into a glass container (or a few mason jars). Mix the water and salt together until the salt is fully dissolved. Pour over the vegetables, leaving about ½ inch of space at the top but making sure to completely cover the veggies (if you need more of the salt water mixture, for every 1 cup of water use ¾ tablespoons of salt). Place the lid(s) on the container(s) and place in a cool dark space. Allow to sit for 3-6 weeks.

The Basic Slaw:
     Here's the basic slaw recipe I use. It's a traditional creamy Southern slaw.

Fermented Coleslaw

For the Dressing:
½ cup Mayonnaise (or vegan mayonnaise)
½ tablespoon Honey (or agave)
¼ teaspoon Celery Seeds
½ teaspoon Salt
¼ teaspoon Cayenne
¼ teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper

1 cup Fermented Cabbage for Slaw (see above recipe), strained

Whisk mayonnaise, honey, celery seeds, salt, and pepper in a large bowl to combine. Add fermented cabbage to dressing and toss to coat. Feel free to add more mayo and spices if needed. Cover and chill until ready to serve, overnight is best but a minimum of 2 hours.

The Quick Fix:
     Fermenting the traditional way does take some time. If you want a probiotic coleslaw that can be made in 1 afternoon, try this Kombucha Slaw.

Kombucha Slaw

For the Slaw:
½ medium Green Cabbage, very thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
½ medium Red Cabbage, very thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
2 medium Carrots, peeled; julienned or grated
1 medium Onion julienned or grated

For the Dressing:
1 cup Mayonnaise (or vegan mayonnaise)
¼ cup Kombucha (the more vinegar-like flavor the better)
1-2 tablespoons Honey (or agave)
1 tablespoon Celery Seed
Salt, Pepper, and Cayenne to taste

In one bowl, mix together the vegetables. In a second bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Pour dressing over vegetables and toss to coat. Cover and chill until ready to serve, overnight is best but a minimum of 2 hours.

Something Kinda Sweet:
     I have always enjoyed playing around with traditional recipes. This coleslaw was inspired by an Apple Fennel slaw I had at a local restaurant once. I'm not really a fan of fennel, but it was super tasty. So the next time I made coleslaw I added apples and created my own, fennel-free, version of that Sweet and Sour Slaw.

Sweet and Sour Slaw

For the Dressing:
½ cup Plain Greek Yogurt (or vegan alternative)
¼ cup Mayonnaise (or vegan mayonnaise)
3-4 tablespoons Honey (or agave)
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
½ teaspoon ground Mustard
½ teaspoon Poppy Seeds
Salt to taste

For the Slaw:
2 cups Fermented Cabbage for Slaw (see above recipe), strained
2 firm Apples (sweet red or yellow apples work best, but you can use green apples for a more tart flavor), cored and julienned
1 Celery Stalk, thinly sliced or grated
¼ cup Raisins

In one bowl, combine yogurt, mayo, honey, pepper, mustard, and poppy seeds. Whisk well to combine. In another, larger, bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Pour dressing over vegetables and toss to coat. Cover and chill until ready to serve, overnight is best but a minimum of 2 hours.

Avocado and Garden Fresh Veggies:
     This recipe uses mashed avocado in place of mayonnaise. However, the best part is the ability to use whatever veggies you want in the fermented veggies mix, this is a great way to use any veggies your garden may have produced in excess. This is also great made with Zucchini and Summer Squash.

Avocado Garden Slaw

For the Fermented Veggies: 
(follow the same instructions as with the Fermented Cabbage for Slaw recipe above but use these ingredients)
2 cups Cabbage or Brussels Sprouts, thinly sliced
About 6-8  Raddishes, julienned or grated
2 medium sized Golden Beets, julienned or grated (or any other beet, but the golden beets won't change the color of your slaw)
1 medium Carrot, peeled; julienned or grated
1 medium Onion julienned or grated
About 4 cups Distilled Water
About 3 tablespoon Sea Salt

For the Dressing:
1 cup Avocado, pureed
1 tablespoons Honey (or agave)
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
½ teaspoon ground Mustard
½ teaspoon Fresh Garlic, minced
Salt to taste

Fresh Veggies:
1 cup Sugar Snap Peas, thinly sliced
1 cup Kale (or other fresh green), thinly sliced
1 cup Swiss Chard Leaves, thinly sliced
Go ahead and slice up those stalks and add them as well (or not, your choice)
1 Celery Stalk, thinly sliced or grated

Strain the fermented veggies and add in the fresh ones. In a different bowl, combine dressing ingredients and mix well (this might work even better in a food processor or blender). If the dressing is a bit thick, add in a bit of the liquid you strained from the fermented veggies. Combine both mixtures and toss to coat. Cover and chill until ready to serve, overnight is best but a minimum of 2 hours.

     I hope you enjoy these Coleslaw recipes!  If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018


     School's out. We all know what this means. It's Family Vacation Time! This is the time of year for people to travel, and come home with the “crud.” From “cruise crud,” to the generic “I traveled to a different country and came back sick,” or even “I went swimming in a strange body of water and now I don't feel very good.” We all deal with these things when we travel. Between the stress of travel helping to lower our immunity, and being introduced to unfamiliar pathogens, most of us are familiar with the concept of being sick after our vacations. So I figured that I'd help you out and introduce you to a common herb that can prevent a lot of travel illnesses.

     Most of us are familiar with Oregano, Origanum vulgare, from a culinary standpoint. It's always been one of those herbs I cook with on a regular basis. Which is awesome because it helps protect us from some of the toxins created during the cooking process. However, it's also a valuable herb in my medicine cabinet. Oregano is a member of the Lamiaceae family (also known as the Mint family) which also includes a wide variety of other, common, culinary and medicinal herbs. This was the first plant family I ever learned to identify in the wild. Which is a very useful skill to have as every plant in this family (that I am aware of at least) is edible and useful for a few common ailments (typically upper respiratory and digestion related).

Medicinal Uses:

Botanical Name and Common Names-

The botanical name is Origanum vulgare. Common names include Oregano, Origano, Common Oregano, Garden Oregano, Wild Marjoram, Winter Marjoram, Mexican Mint, and Wintersweet.

Summary of Actions-

Oregano is anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antiviral, antispasmodic, antioxidant, diaphoretic, expectorant, rubefacient, bitter, carminative, emmenagogue, and diuretic.

Nutritional Profile-

1 teaspoon of dried oregano contains: 5 calories, 0.8 grams (g) of fiber, 29 milligrams (mg) of calcium, 0.66 mg of iron, 5 g of magnesium, 0.09 mg of manganese, 23 mg of potassium, 0.33 mg of vitamin E, 11.2 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin K, and trace other vitamins and minerals including folate and vitamin B6.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)-

Called Tu Yin Chen in the TCM world, Oregano is used quite often to help with colds, fevers, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, and malnutrition in children. It's known to help promote qi circulation, clear heat, and expel wind. Especially useful to clear wind-heat.


Oregano, known as Sathra in Ayurvedic Medicine, enhances pitta deficiency and reduces kapha and vata excess.

Essential Oil-

All the benefits of oregano as an herb can also be had from the essential oil, as essential oils are super concentrated versions of their corresponding herb. However, oregano essential oil is among one of the strongest essential oils I tend to personally use. This is the easiest form of oregano to take with you on long trips, and it's safe to take internally as long as it's diluted. You can also use it in a salve, lotion, or liniment for skin disorders, as an insect repellant, and to help stop the itch of insect bites. It's also a great essential oil to add to a diffuser, especially during cold and flu season.

Upper Respiratory-

Not only does Oregano have a mild anti-viral effect, it also is antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and helps to eliminate toxins. This makes it a must have during cold and flu season. Just a few drops of oregano essential oil in water or orange juice helps to soothe a sore throat and reduce the symptoms of the common cold. Preparing a tea with oregano leaves can help relieve the symptoms of a severe cold in 5 days, when drank 2-3 times a day.

Immune System-

Two of the active constituents found in this herb is rosmarinic acid and thymol. Both of these constituents are strongly antioxidant and help to boost the immune system.


Oregano's carminative properties help improve digestion and reduce flatulence. It's also packed full of fiber, which helps aid in the digestive process, as well as increase nutrient absorption.

Heart Health-

Oregano contains omega-3 fatty acids which help to improve heart health. That, along with it's anti-inflammatory properties, helps to reduce inflammation in the cardiovascular system, balance out cholesterol levels, prevent heart attack, prevent atherosclerosis, and prevent stroke.

Antibacterial and Superbugs-

Oregano has some amazing antibacterial properties. This herb has been shown to help protect against a wide range of bacteria that can affect the skin, gut, sinuses, lungs, and many other areas of the body. t's even been shown to be effective against quite a few superbugs (, including MRSA. It also stimulates the immune system, resulting in an increase of the production of white blood cells, which also makes for a faster recovery.


Carvacrol, one of the constituents present in oregano, has been shown to be a major inflammation reducer. There are a number of studies being done to test how good oregano oil is at reducing inflammation in various parts of the body. Some of the more positive results involved inflammation in the colon.

Yeast Infections, Parasites, and Food Borne Illness-

Oregano has amazing antifungal and anti-parasitic properties, as well as antibacterial ones. It helps get rid of athlete's foot and nail fungus. It's also been shown to be super effective against yeast infections caused by Candida. It's also effective against Listeria monocytogenes, a common food borne illness.

Menstrual Cramps-

Oregano actually helps ease the pain of menstrual cramps. It also helps to regulate normal menstrual cycles and relieve the negative effects of menopause. Just drink a tea made from the leaves (or chew on some fresh leaves) twice a day.

Insect Repellant-

Rubbing fresh oregano leaves on exposed skin can actually help repel insects such as mosquitoes. You can also add a drop or 2 of the essential oil to any body spray to achieve the same effect.

Cautions and Warnings-

Some people who are allergic to mint may experience a mild reaction from oregano. Large doses of oregano and oregano essential oil may cause stomach discomfort. The essential oil can also interfere with the body's ability to absorb iron, so pregnant women and anemic people should avoid use of oregano essential oil. Never use an essential oil on your skin without first diluting it.

I only included a basic introduction to this amazing herb. I hope you have learned a new appreciation for oregano, other than as a great way to flavor your food. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.


7 Wonderful Oregano Benefits: Organic Facts:

9 Science-Based Health Benefits of Oregano: Natural Food Series:

11 Amazing Benefits of Oregano Essential Oil: Organic Facts:

Oregano: Chinese Nutrition:

Oregano: Dig Herbs:

Oregano: Herbal Encyclopedia:

Oregano: Indian Mirror:

Oregano: Krista's Herbarium:

Oregano Essential Oil: Ayurvedic Oils:

Oregano Herb- Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects: Herbal Supplement Resource:

Oregano Herb Profile: Wellness Mama:

Oregano Oil Benefits for Infections, Fungus, & Even the Common Cold: Dr. Axe:

Oregano, the Wonder Herb in Ayurveda: Ayurvedic Talk:

Origanum Vulgare: The Naturopatic Herbalist:

Pack This! 4 Natural Remedies for Travel Ailments: Calculated Traveller:

Six Ayurvedic Herbs Every Doctor Should Know: Holistic Primary Care:

What Are the Health Benefits of Oregano?: Dr. Mercola:

What Are the Health Benefits of Oregano?: Medical News Today:

Top 21 Oregano Essential Oil Uses and Benefits You Must Know: Up Nature:

Tu Yin Chen: American Dragon:


Greetings from the Bat Lady!

     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...