Thursday, July 11, 2019

Summertime Marinated Salads







     Summertime is here, there is no denying that! With record-breaking temperatures, it's become a struggle to stay cool. So I figured I'd share a few of my favorite summertime lunch/snack ideas with you. Marinated salads! They're delicious, easy, and served cold to help you keep cool.


Calling All Cukes! 

This marinated salad has been a favorite of mine for my whole life. Mom would always keep some in the fridge as I was growing up. And as an adult I can't help but love it still. There are a number of variations you can make on this, try adding some bell peppers, cauliflower, or radishes. If you don't want to make your own dressing, try using your favorite store bought Italian or Vinaigrette. Or try switching up the herbs in the home made dressing, instead of parsley and basil try dill. Have fun!


Marinated Cucumber Salad

2 medium Cucumbers, sliced
1 pint Cherry or Grape Tomatoes, halved
1 Avocado, chopped
½ medium Red Onion, diced or sliced

For the Dressing:
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
Salt and Pepper to taste



Instructions:
Combine all dressing ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk well. Add in remaining ingredients and toss. Store in the refrigerator for 1 hour or more for best results. (I usually do this in a mason jar that I keep in the refrigerator)


Fava Forever!

     I love fava beans. They're just wonderful, even if they are a pain to process when they're fresh. For that reason, this recipe calls for canned fava beans. But it works just as well with Chickpeas or Kidney beans if you prefer them.

Marinated Fava Bean Salad

1 15-oz can Fava Beans, drained and rinsed
½ Green Bell Pepper, diced
½ Red Bell Pepper, diced
½ medium sized Cucumber, diced
¼ medium sized Red Onion, diced
2 Green onions, diced
½ tbsp Capers
¼ cup Parsley, chopped
5-6 Mint Leaves, chopped
5-6 Basil Leaves, chopped

For the Dressing:
1 clove Garlic, minced
¼ tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
½ tbsp Sugar
2 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions:
Combine dressing ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk well to combine. Add in other ingredients and toss. Allow to chill for at least 1 hour for best results.


Just Beet It

     Beets are an under-appreciated vegetable. They're also more than just red. My favorite beets are the golden beets. Largely because they don't bleed all over everything and stain my hands, but also because they have such a mildly sweet taste. Try this recipe with any kind of beet you want. Chiogga beets make for a great visual presentation. Classic red beets are great for a classic beet salad. You can even use a combination of beets to make things a little extra special! This salad is also great with a little Feta, Goat Cheese, or Bleu Cheese on top!

Marinated Beet Salad

5 medium Beets, trimmed and halved (save the greens for another dish!)
2 small Carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
½ a medium Red Onion, halved and thinly sliced
¼ cup roasted Walnuts
2 tsp fresh Dill, chopped
1 tsp fresh Parsley, chopped

For the Dressing:
The juice of 2 Oranges
1 ½ tsp Red Wine Vinegar
1 ½ tsp Olive Oil, or Walnut Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste


Instructions:
Steam the beets for 30-40 minutes, or until tender. Grab them with a paper towel and peel off the skins while they are still warm (or wait until they cool and use a peeler). Thinly slice them. While they are steaming, combine the dressing ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk well to combine. Add in remaining ingredients and toss to coat. Allow to chill for 1 hour or more for best results.


It's Greek To Me

Greek salads are a staple in most American restaurants today. But my favorite version of this salad leaves out the lettuce and brings on the marinade!

Marinated Greek Salad

1 pint Cherry Tomatoes, halved
2 medium Cucumbers, chopped
1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1 small Red Onion, diced
½ cup Kalamata Olives, pitted and halved
2 Pepperoncini Peppers, sliced into rings

Marinated Feta or Tofu:
5-6 oz Feta or Tofu, cubed
½ tsp Crushed Red Pepper
½ cup Olive Oil
1 sprig each of fresh Rosemary, Thyme, and Oregano
1 clove Garlic, smashed
Salt and Pepper to taste

For the Dressing:
¼ cup Olive Oil (drained from the Marinated Feta/Tofu)
1 tsp dried Oregano
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
2 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste


Instructions:
Marinate the Feta/Tofu 24 hours or more (up to 14 days) in advance. Combine all the ingredients in a sealed container and hold in the refrigerator until ready to use. In a mixing bowl, combine the dressing ingredients and whisk well. Add all remaining ingredients to the bowl, including the marinated Feta/Tofu. Toss well to combine and chill for 1 hour or more before serving.


Expect the Unexpected

     You can truly use any vegetable in a marinated salad. This next recipe proves it! Who would ever think that asparagus would make for such a good salad ingredient? This salad is also super awesome when you add fresh mozzarella cheese to it. Almost like an asparagus twist on a traditional Caprese salad.

Marinated Asparagus and Tomato Salad

2 lbs Asparagus Spears, tough ends trimmed off then chopped into 2 inch segments
1 pint Cherry Tomatoes, halved
5-7 fresh Basil Leaves, chopped
*optional 8-16 oz fresh Mozzarella cheese

For the Dressing:
6 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
¼ cup Olive Oil
2 tsp Dijon Mustard
2 tsp Honey
1 clove Garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper to taste



Instructions:
Steam the asparagus until tender, then rinse off under cold water to cool. In a mixing bowl, combine the ingredients for the dressing and whisk well to combine. Add in remaining ingredients and toss well. Chill for 1 hour or more before serving.


Something Sweet

     You don't have to stick to cold vegetables in the summer, fruit works well too! If you want to get wild and crazy, you can add in some mint or basil leaves. Or for those adult BBQs, instead of the Orange Blossom Water, try using white rum or vodka!

Marinated Fruit Salad

2 cups Watermelon, cubed
2 cups Cantaloupe, cubed
2 cups Strawberries, halved
1 cup Grapes, halved
1 cup Blueberries

For the Dressing:
½ cup Honey
¼ cup Lemon Juice
¼ cup Pineapple Juice
1/8 tsp Salt


Instructions:
Combine the ingredients for the dressing in a mixing bowl and whisk well to combine. Add in remaining ingredients and toss well. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving.




     In any of these recipes, feel free to change the ingredients around.  Play with different fruit, veggies, and herbs.  Switch up the vinegars and oils. Throw in some of those wild edibles you've been dying to try. Maybe even toss in some chicken or shrimp! Have fun, play around, and let me know what you think below!




Friday, July 5, 2019

Peppergrass





     There are a handful of plants that I grew up eating or using medicinally. Often these plants are plants I would not use for other purposes. So I'm always pleasantly surprised when I come across information on how to do so.

     Peppergrass, Lipidium virginicum, is one plant that I used to nibble on when I was playing in my yard as a child. It had a peppery flavor that I loved (though for some reason I hated black pepper and chili peppers) and it grew like crazy where I lived. So imagine my surprise when I, as an adult, am taking a class and the teacher mentions that it can be used medicinally. I had to find out more! So I decided to pass it on to all of you!

     There are many Lipidiums found all over the world. However, the species that's native to North America, and the one that I'm most familiar with, is the Lipidium virginicum. Most introduced species that you hear about tend to have traveled over with the settlers into America at some point. However, Lipidium virginicum did just the opposite. It's now found throughout Europe all thanks to the early traders tracking the seeds onto their boats from America. This particular Peppergrass has a history of use that goes all the way back to the ancient Inca and Maya tribes. Where it was widely used to reduce rheumatic pain, expel intestinal worms, and treat upper respiratory conditions. Today it's still used for some of these problems, but it's also used for a few more. However, I still like it as a trail side snack myself.

     Here in Central Florida, Peppergrass can be found all year. But in other climates it's mainly found in the winter. It can be tricky to identify here because of it's growing pattern. It looks like a completely different plant depending on the stage of growth it's in. It starts off as a basal rosette, and eventually grows tall and develops a racme full of little flowers and tiny seed pods. In Florida, these stages can occur in the same month and can often be found side by side. Luckily, however, there are no dangerous look a likes here, at least that I am aware of.





Medicinal Uses:


Scientific Name- Lipidium spp. Some of the more common species include L. apetalum, L. armoracia, L. campestre, L. iberis, L. ruderale, L. sativum, and L. virginicum.

Common Names- Peppergrass, Pepperwort, Peppercress, Canary Grass, Poor Man's Pepper, Garder Cress, Virginia Pepperweed, Pepperweed, Wild Pepper Grass, Menzies' Pepperweed, and Hairy Pepperweed.

Edible Parts- The entire plant is edible and medicinal. The root can be ground and used as a wasabi or horseradish substitute. The leaves are commonly eaten raw or cooked as a potherb. The seeds have a peppery taste that makes for a great spice. You can even put the whole plant into a food processor and make a great, peppery, sauce with it.

Summary of actions- Anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, antiasthmatic, antiscorbutic, antitussive, cardiotonic, detoxifying, and diuretic

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)- Peppergrass seeds are acrid, bitter, and extremely cold. It most strongly effects the meridians of lung and bladder. Peppergrass is often used to purge the lung’s pathogenic fire to relieve asthma and induce diuresis to alleviate edema. Symptoms that may indicate a positive reaction to the use of Peppergrass include retention of phlegm-dampness in the lungs, a feeling of fullness and discomfort in chest, inability to lay flat, difficult urination, and heart disease associated with pulmonary edema. 

Ayurveda- Peppergrass is heavy and sticky, pungent and bitter, and has a hot potency. It increases Pitta while balancing Vata and Kapha. Peppergrass is commonly used to improve lactation, as an aphrodesiac, a diuretic, and to rejuvenate. It also induces mobility in the digestive tract, making it useful to relieve constipation. It's primarily indicated for use in urinary tract disorders, diabetes, asthma, cough, colds, acute bronchitis, chronic respiratory conditions, and to fight off fatigue and/or weakness. It does increase Pitta dosha, so people with a Pitta body type should use caution.

High Amounts of Vitamin C- Peppergrass is a traditional treatment for scurvy and other conditions that result from low amounts of Vitamin C.

Asthma and Upper Respiratory Conditions- One of the main problems that people with upper respiratory conditions tend to have in common is an excess of mucus. Peppergrass helps to clear up and expel mucus.

Improves Immunity- We are all aware that Vitamin C can help improve immunity. Peppergrass is known for it's high amounts of Vitamin C. But it also has a moving effect on the body. Helping to energize the immune system and move your white blood cells to where they are needed most.

Urinary Tract Issues- Peppergrass is a great diuretic, helping to rid the body of excess water. It's also great at detoxifying. This makes it a wonderful herb to call on in cases of urinary tract infections (UTI).

Circulatory System- Peppergrass' diuretic effects can help reduce blood pressure as well. Helping to flush out excessive water and toxins from the body. It's also a great anti-inflammatory herb, helping to reduce the buildup of inflammation that can cause circulatory issues down the road. It's also a cardio tonic, tonifying the heart and entire circulatory system.

Contraindications, Cautions, and Warnings- There have been some allergies observed. Symptoms of these allergies range from general itchiness to anaphylactic shock. If you have any reaction, go to the hospital ASAP! Peppergrass is also a hyperaccumulator of minerals. If the soil is contaminated with toxic metals, Peppergrass will suck them up.





     I only included a basic introduction to Peppergrass. I hope you have learned a new appreciation for such a common weed.  If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

References:


Common Peppergrass: Illinois Wildflowers: http://illinoiswildflowers.info/weeds/plants/cm_peppergrass.htm

Lepidium Virginicum: Plants for a Future: https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Lepidium+virginicum

Lepidium Virginicum Uses: Herbpathy: https://herbpathy.com/Uses-and-Benefits-of-Lepidium-Virginicum-Cid3781

Medicinal Abilities of Peppergrass: Health Digezt: https://www.healthdigezt.com/medicinal-abilities-peppergrass/

Peppergrass: Edible Wild Food: http://www.ediblewildfood.com/peppergrass.aspx

Peppergrass: Encyclopaedia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/plant/peppergrass

Peppergrass: Foraging Texas: https://www.foragingtexas.com/2012/01/peppergrass.html

Peppergrass: Medicinal Plants of India: http://www.medicinalplantsindia.com/peppergrass.html

Peppergrass - Potent Pipsqueak: Eat The Weeds: http://www.eattheweeds.com/peppergrass-potent-pipsqueak/

Peppergrass Seeds (Ting Li Zi): Chinese Herbs Healing: http://www.chineseherbshealing.com/peppergrass-seeds/

Peppergrass - Todari Uses, Dose, Side Effects, Research: Easy Ayurveda: https://easyayurveda.com/2015/03/28/peppergrass-todari-uses-dose-side-effects-research/

Pepperweed: My Mystic Mama: http://www.mymysticmama.com/pepperweed/

Pharmacological Basis for the Medicinal Use of Lepidium sativum in Airways Disorders: Hindawi: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2012/596524/

Wild Peppergrass: Natural Medicinal Herbs: http://naturalmedicinalherbs.net/herbs/l/lepidium-virginicum=wild-pepper-grass.php


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Cortisol Imbalance







     Living in a modern world, in a society that demands more and more out of us, we can often find ourselves becoming overly stressed, easily exhausted, having a hard time sleeping, and finding it almost impossible to loose weight. These are all symptoms of cortisol imbalance.

     Cortisol is a stress hormone. In fact, it's often considered the primary stress hormone. It's one of the main hormones released when our bodies are kicked into “fight or flight” mode. The “fight or flight” response (also called the acute stress response) is a response that helped our ancestors evolve. When we feel terrified, mentally or physically, our bodies release certain hormones that help us deal with the situation by either running or fighting. These hormones trigger a rapid response from our bodies that results in an increase in our heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate. This pumps oxygen to our muscles much faster, allowing us to be stronger and faster for a short time. Afterward, it takes 20-60 minutes for our bodies to go back to normal. 

     Cortisol is a necessary hormone for life, helping us to stay motivated or keep us awake and responsive to our environment. However, being constantly exposed to tense situations, such as traffic or fast-paced work environments, can cause a buildup of Cortisol. Over time your adrenal glands will not be able to keep up the levels of production required by your constant state of stress. This will cause adrenal fatigue, and combined with high levels of Cortisol, this can cause some seriously adverse effects.



Symptoms of Cortisol Imbalance


1. Chronic pain and headaches

     Excessive amounts of stress can put a major strain on your adrenal glands, which can increase your sensitivity to pain. You may start noticing an increase in backaches, headaches, and/or other body aches. If you tend to hold back your tears you should consider having a “good cry” because a number of hormones that cause this sensitivity can be released with those tears.
   

2. Weight gain, especially around the belly

     Excessive Cortisol levels tend to cause weight gain. It stimulates appetite and most of the weight gained will end up gravitating to your mid-section. You may also develop a round face, or fat neck. This can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
         

3. Weakened immunity

     When your Cortisol levels are high, your immune system is not able to function as well. This leads to you catching every little germ that you are exposed to. Or so it may seem.
       

4. In ability to sleep and fatigue

     Cortisol directly helps to regulate your waking and sleeping cycles. Imbalanced Cortisol levels can cause problems sleeping and symptoms of chronic fatigue. The occasional bout insomnia is usually nothing to worry about, but if you find yourself experiencing chronic sleep problems and/or excessive fatigue, you may be experiencing a Cortisol imbalance.


5. Mood changes, panic attacks, and/or depression
         
     When your Cortisol levels are high, your feel-good hormones (such as serotonin) are low. This can leave you feeling quite depressed, anxious, and irritable. Making you prone to some crazy mood swings, and panic attacks.


6. Infertility and/or no sex drive

     Fighting or running for you life doesn’t really put most people “in the mood.” So it's no surprise that high levels of Cortisol may reduce you sex drive, and in some cases remove it all together. On top of that, it can lead to problems such as impotence and irregular menstrual cycles which can cause fertility problems.





Tips to help balance your cortisol levels


1. Whole foods diet

     Our bodies actually use Cortisol to balance out our blood sugar when it gets too low. With this in mind, we can use healthy carbohydrates as an excellent tool to help us balance our Cortisol in turn. Also, by switching to a predominantly whole foods diet, we reduce our exposure to foods that increase inflammation, and thus increase our Cortisol. Combining these two strategies in a way to fits your life may be one of the best ways to reduce and balance your Cortisol levels.


2. Stress management

     Cortisol is released in times of stress. So reducing your stress helps to reduce the amount of Cortisol your body releases, and helps provide more time to help your body fully recover from the stress. Using strategies that include meditation, deep breathing, spending time outdoors, healthy exercise, and acupuncture may be a great way to help balance out your Cortisol levels.


3. A matter of lighting

     This may sound ridiculous, but lighting can seriously effect your Cortisol levels. Cortisol issues aren't just from high amounts of Cortisol, it can also be an issue when Cortisol is released at the wrong time. When we are exposed to blue light (such as from a TV or computer screen) at night, our bodies release Cortisol and reduce melatonin. Reducing our ability to get a good night's sleep. Also, when we spend a lot of time indoors and don't get much natural sunlight during the day, our bodies can get confused as to the time and release these hormones at inappropriate times. Try going outside for 30 minutes within an hour of waking up, and using blue light filters on your devices at night. This can seriously help balance out the timing of your body's release of Cortisol and help balance out your Cortisol levels.

4. Essential Oils

     It's no secret that smells evoke feelings in us. You smell a certain scent and you remember a pleasant moment, maybe it's the smell of fresh baked apple pie. You smell that and remember your grandmother making one for you when you were little. Or maybe you smell coffee and feel instantly alert, just from the smell. Whatever the reason, smells can be strongly effective. Certain essential oils can actually reduce your Cortisol levels by scent alone. Try diffusing essential oils that help aid relaxation. Lavender, myrrh, frankincense, bergamont, clary sage, sandalwood, and thyme are just a few. You can also dilute essential oils into a carrier oil and make your own massage oil to use when you are feeling especially stressed.


5. Adaptogen Herbs

     Adaptogens are a classification of herbs that help you body recover from and adapt better to stress. They naturally balance hormones (including Cortisol), reduce inflammation, lower fatigue, reduce inflammation, and help control blood sugar and blood pressure levels. A number of them have been tested and proven to actually reduce Cortisol levels. Here are just a few to look into adding into your daily routine.
         Ashwagandha
         Tulsi (or Holy Basil)
         Astragalus
         Licorice Root
         Medicinal Mushrooms such as Reishi or Shiitake



     I hope this helps you be more mindful of your stress levels and gives you a good idea of what to do when the stress gets to be to much. If you have any questions of comments, please leave them below.


Resources:


6 Ways to Lower Your Cortisol Levels: Dr. Axe: https://draxe.com/cortisol-levels/

8 Signs You're Suffering From A Cortisol Imbalance: Atlas Drug & Nutrition: http://atlasdrugandnutrition.com/cortisol-imbalance/

Cortisol/Adrenal Fatigue (Men): Genemetics Health Institute: https://www.genemedics.com/hormone-therapy/mens-hormones/cortisoladrenal-fatigue/

Cortisol/Adrenal Fatigue (Women): Genemetics Health Institute: https://www.genemedics.com/hormone-therapy/womens-hormones/cortisoladrenal-fatigue/

Cortisol Imbalance Symptoms: Livestrong: https://www.livestrong.com/article/94310-cortisol-imbalance-symptoms/

How I Reduced My Cortisol Levels Naturally With Food & Light: Wellness Mama: https://wellnessmama.com/1570/reduce-cortisol/

Symptoms of Cortisol Imbalance in Women: Tranquility Labs: https://www.tranquilitylabs.com/symptoms-of-cortisol-imbalance-in-women/

Friday, June 14, 2019

Stress Free Spice Blends








     I am a major proponent of the philosophy held by Hippocrates, “Let thy food be thy medicine.” Food is what nourishes us, provides us with the things our body needs in order to work properly. So if we don't take care to eat well, our health is sure to decline in some way. Keeping that in mind, I have a few things I do when I cook at home. One of them is that I try to “hide” herbs in all my food. Since I just introduced you to one of my favorite herbs to do this with, Ashwagandh, I figured I'd let you in one one of these secrets. I like to use adaptogenic herbs in my home made spice blends. 

1. Now if you look at the ingredients present in a number of spice blends, you'll find that most of these already are packed full of healthy herbs. So I like to add a few other herbs to enhance their effects. But first, here is my basic, every day spice blend. I use this in all the savory recipes I make.


Every Day Stress-Free


¼ cup dried Nettle leaf
3 tablespoons Garlic Powder
2 tablespoons ground Ashwagandha
1 tablespoon ground Shiitake Mushroom
1 tablespoon Ground Black Pepper
1 teaspoon Salt



Use a mortar and pestle, food processor, or coffee/spice grinder to lightly grind any of the whole herbs. You want them to be coarse and not finely ground. Combine all the herbs in a bowl and mix well. Store in an airtight container away from heat and light.


2. My husband and I really enjoy ranch seasoning. So I started making my own blend to make it a bit healthier, then I added adaptogenic herbs. We use this on just about everything. One of my favorites is sprinkling this on baked potatoes. Yum! If you want to make ranch dressing, simply add 1 tablespoon of this spice blend with 1/3 cup of your favorite mayonnaise, sour cream, or dairy free yogurt.


 Relaxing Ranch


¼ cup dried Parsley leaf
1 tablespoons Dill Leaf
1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
1 tablespoon ground Ashwagandha 
1 tablespoon Onion Powder
½ tablespoon Tulsi
½ teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
½ teaspoon Salt

Use a mortar and pestle, food processor, or coffee/spice grinder to lightly grind any of the whole herbs. You want them to be coarse and not finely ground. Combine all the herbs in a bowl and mix well. Store in an airtight container away from heat and light.


3. This blend works well as a blackening seasoning, or just a generic Cajun blend. I love making blackened chicken or tofu with this seasoning rub. You can also add this to a bit of lemon juice and olive oil to make a great salad dressing.


Crazy Cajun


5 tablespoons Paprika
1 tablespoon Onion Powder
1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
1 tablespoon ground Eluthero
4 teaspoons Salt
4 teaspoons ground Black Pepper
1 ½ teaspoon ground Cayenne Pepper (or less if you don’t want it too spicy)
1 tablespoon Tulsi
1 teaspoon Thyme
½ teaspoon Oregano

Use a mortar and pestle, food processor, or coffee/spice grinder to lightly grind any of the whole herbs. You want them to be coarse and not finely ground. Combine all the herbs in a bowl and mix well. Store in an airtight container away from heat and light.


4. I can't like normal things, it's just not possible. So instead of just a plain Lemon Pepper blend, I have to spice it up, adding more adaptogens in the process.


Zesty Lemon and Herbs


Zest from 4-6 Organic Lemons
6 tablespoons ground Black Pepper
5 tablespoons Salt
2 tablespoons Tulsi
1 tablespoon Onion Powder
½ tablespoon Oregano
½ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper or Paprika *optional
½ teaspoon ground Eluthero

Zest the lemons and spread them out on a cookie sheet. Place in the oven on the lowest setting and leave until completely dry, around 70-80 minutes. 

Use a mortar and pestle, food processor, or coffee/spice grinder to lightly grind any of the whole herbs. You want them to be coarse and not finely ground. Combine all the herbs in a bowl and mix well. Store in an airtight container away from heat and light.


5. Everyone likes Everything Bagels. But not everyone knows how delicious the seasonings are on other things such as avocado toast, salads, and veggies.


Simply Everything


1 tablespoon Sesame Seeds
1 tablespoon Poppy Seeds
1 tablespoon Flax Seeds
1 tablespoon Chia Seeds
1 tablespoon dried Minced Onion
1 tablespoon dried Minced Garlic
1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
½ tablespoon ground Shiitake Mushroom
½ tablespoon ground Ashwagandha
1 teaspoon Salt

Combine all the herbs in a bowl and mix well. Store in an airtight container away from heat and light.




     In any of these recipes, feel free to change the ingredients around.  Try using other adaptogens such as Reishi, Licorice, or Astragalus. Have fun, play around, and let me know what you think below!


Friday, June 7, 2019

Ashwagandha




     Stress. We all experience it. Some of us deal with it much better than others. There are some herbs that have been known to help with stress in one way or another. One of my favorites is Ashwagandha, or Withania somnifera. This Indian herb, used for centuries in Ayurvedic Medicine, is most well known for it's ability to help our bodies adapt to stress and to flush out the stress hormones a lot faster. However, it's also a great herb to call upon in a number of other situations.

     Native to India, and a member of the Solanaceae (Nightshade) family, Ashwagandha is one of Ayurveda's most important herbs. It has become so popular that it is now cultivated in western Asia, Yemen, and China. Some farmers are also trying to establish this herb, and other important Ayurvedic herbs, in America as well.

     The name “Ashwagandha” actually comes from Sanskrit, and it translates to “the smell of a horse.” This comes from a few places, the first is that the fresh root smells like horse urine (eeew), the second is that it has a reputation as a great herb to help one attain the “stamina of a horse” in certain bedroom activities (yep, we all know what I'm talking about here).


Medicinal Uses:


Scientific Name- Withania somnifera

Common Names- Ashwagandha, Winter Cherry, Indian Ginseng, Poison Gooseberry

Parts Used- The roots and leaves are used traditionally, but most Western herbalists only use the roots.

Summary of Actions- Adaptogen, Alterative, Analgesic, Cardioprotective, Antispasmodic, Anti-inflammatory, Slight Sedative, Nerve Tonic, Diuretic, Nutritive Tonic, Thyroid Stimulant, and Aphrodisiac.

Ayurveda- Ashwagandha is used extensively in Ayurvedic medicine, so much so that it is considered one of the most important herbs in Ayurveda. Ashwagandha is used to help balance vata and kapha in excess. It can also unbalance pitta due to it's heating and building nature. However it's mostly used to balance vata, helping to strengthen and nourish healthy muscles and reproductive systems.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)- Known as Nan Fei Zui Jia in TCM, Ashwagandha works on the Lung, Heart, and Spleen meridians. It tonifies Qi, building immunity, strength, and aiding in recovery. It tonifies Lung Qi, helping to clear coughs, recover from illness, and lightens any “heaviness” in the chest. It tonifies the Spleen, helping to increase appetite, reduce diarrhea, improve memory, and reduce mental confusion. It also tonifies Jing, increasing male fertility and preventing impotence. But it's most well known for calming Shen, which reduces anxiety and other stress disorders, and helps improve sleep.

Stress, Anxiety, and Depression- Ashwagandha is considered to be one of the best adaptogens by many herbalists. It helps the body to adapt to stressful situations, reducing anxiety and helping to relieve some of the symptoms associated with depression. It does this, largely, by reducing the cortisol levels in your system. This helps to relieve adrenal fatigue as well, which helps to boost energy naturally, improve sleep, and improve mood.

Joint, Back, and Arthritic Pain- Ashwagandha is a great anti-inflammatory with some analgesic properties. This means that it helps reduce swelling and can also help reduce the feeling of pain in certain areas. Traditionally it has been used to treat joint and back pain, especially when associated with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.

Drug and Alcohol Withdrawal- Because of the amazing ability of Ashwagandha to help reduce stress, and help the body to recover from stress, it can be used to greatly reduce the impact of withdrawal from drugs and/or alcohol.

Regulates Blood Sugar Levels- Ayurvedic medicine has been using Ashwagandha as a treatment for diabetes for a very long time. Recent studies have shown that it has potential in this area as it has been proven to lower blood glucose levels in diabetic rats.

Circulatory System- Not only is Ashwagandha a great anti-inflammatory, but it also helps to strengthen the heart muscles and control cholesterol. It's also been shown to have some hematopoietic properties, helping to increase the production of new blood cells. This makes for an excellent combination to help strengthen and protect the entire circulatory system.

Thyroid Function- Ashwagandha has been known to help increase the production of the thyroid, which can increase libido, reduce joint pain, and help improve skin conditions that are a result of hypothyroidism.

Memory and Brain Function- Ashwagandha is currently being studied for it's possible use in treating cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer's. It's also a traditional treatment for senility, memory loss, and seizures.

Contraindications and Warnings- Large doses can cause abdominal discomfort and/or diarrhea. Pregnant women should use caution with this herb as large doses could cause early delivery. Ashwagandha does interact with certain types of medication, so check with your doctor before adding this herb to your routine.


     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 Amazing Benefits of Ashwagandha Root for Women: Global Healing Center: https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/7-amazing-benefits-of-ashwagandha-root-for-women/

11 Ashwagandha Benefits for the Brain, Thyroid, and Even Muscles: Dr. Axe: https://draxe.com/ashwagandha-benefits/

12 Proven Health Benefits of Ashwagandha: Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-proven-ashwagandha-benefits

15 Proven Benefits of Ashwagandha: Organic Facts: https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/herbs-and-spices/health-benefits-of-ashwagandha-or-indian-ginseng.html

As Overview on Ashwagadha: African Journal of Traditional, Complementary, and Alternative Medicines: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3252722/

Ashwagandha: Banyan Botanicals: https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/ayurvedic-living/living-ayurveda/herbs/ashwagandha/

Ashwagandha AKA Winter Cherry: White Rabbit Institute of Healing: https://www.whiterabbitinstituteofhealing.com/herbs/ashwagandha-winter-cherry/

Ayurveda Medicinal Herb – Ashwagandha: Ayurveda for You: https://ayurveda-foryou.com/ayurveda_herb/ashwagandha.html

Benefits of Ashwagandha: Medical News Today: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318407.php

What is Ashwagandha?: The Chopra Center: https://chopra.com/articles/what-is-ashwagandha

Why You Should Take Ashwagandha With Milk?: The Ayurveda Experience: https://www.theayurvedaexperience.com/blog/ashwagandha-with-milk/





Saturday, May 25, 2019

DIY Liquid Multivitamin







     I grew up in the era of Flintstones Multivitamins, and while taking your vitamins is a great daily routine. Just how good are those vitamin supplements? Some can be really good and effective, others not so much. One of my major hangups about supplements is that I'm not sure what process the herb/vitamin goes through before it becomes that little pill. So why not make it myself so I know 100% what goes in it, and can tweak it for any special needs that come up?


A Word on Ingredients:


Each of the ingredients I've chosen for these recipes has several different benefits. They're all powerhouses nutritionally, but they also add a bit more than just nutrition. Some of the following herbs are not included in specific recipes, but are really good to think about adding into yours.
      
Alfalfa Medicago sativa is most famously known as livestock feed. However, it's used in this manner because of it's high concentration of nutrients. Alfalfa contains a wide variety of minerals including iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sulfur, chlorine, sodium, potassium, silicon, and trace elements. It is also a good source of vitamin E, vitamin C, and vitamin K, which is necessary for blood clotting and super important towards the end of pregnancy. It also contains essential amino acids that are not made by the body but must be obtained from food sources. Medicinally, alfalfa is often used to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure. Its high concentration of alkaloids make it useful in reducing blood sugar levels and it is also commonly used as a blood purifier as well as for any types of arthritis or joint problems. One major caution, however, alfalfa is not safe to use in combination with blood thinning agents or medications as it is so effective it can interfere or amplify the effects of these. 

Catnip Nepeta cataria makes most cats go a bit crazy. However it's super beneficial for cats, dogs, and even humans. In ancient times, it was believed to be a remedy for insanity. This is due to it's soothing and calming effect. In animals, catnip has a strong sedative effect, yes, even on your crazy cat (just think about what your cat does after going nuts...sleep!).  It's also used to help calm the nerves, reduce anxiety, reduce menstrual cramps, sooth the stomach, and relieve headaches.  Catnip is also a great antiviral herb that helps to reduce fever. As a member of the mint family, this herb has a whole host of nutritional value. One of it's most concentrated nutrients is Folic Acid, which is helpful for women, children, and unborn children.

Chamomile Matricaria recutita is a great herb for so many reasons. It helps sooth the stomach and nerves. It helps the body move through fevers faster. It's great for children, and as an added bonus, it tastes great! Chamomile is a bitter herb (you'll taste the bitterness if you steep it too long) and all bitter herbs help aid in digestion. So it's a great herb to add to any formula that you use prior to eating. Chamomile has been tested extensively and science has backed quite a few of the traditional uses of this herb, especially it's use as an antipeptic, antispasmodic, antipyretic, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-allergenic. 

Dandelion Leaf Taraxacum officinale is often despised as a weed, but it's full of amazing properties. It's a traditional salad green and pot herb. Packed full of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B6, C, and K, one can see why traditional cultures would search out this abundant food. It's also a very beneficial herb for liver health, helping reduce oxidative stress in the liver and suppress fat accumulation.

Licorice Glycyrrhiza glabra (or G. uralensis) is one of those flavors that you either love or hate. But no one can doubt the natural sweetness that it contains. That's why it's such a good herb for children. Adding licorice to an herbal formula, quite often, makes it more palatable for kids, so that you have an easier time getting them to actually take their medicine. It does have some nutritional value, but I mainly added it to these recipes for the flavor and additional benefits. It's an amazing little adaptogen, helping one to better deal with stress and adapt to stressful situations.

Mint Mentha spp. covers a whole host of beneficial herbs. They all have the same uses and similar nutritional profiles. They help to calm the stomach and nerves, fight diseases, and relieve upper-respiratory issues. It's also a great catalyst, helping move other herbs and nutrients throughout your system more efficiently. 

Mullein Verbascum spp. is the name for over 300 species of medicinal plants. This herb is commonly used for upper-respiratory issues and illness. It's also a common treatment for earaches. However it's also packed full of amazing nutrients including proteins, beneficial fats, and flavonoids. It's also safe for children.

Nettle Urtica dioica is an herb I call upon almost daily. It's so useful for so many reasons, not to mention it's a tasty green. In my home, we use nettle to help reduce our allergy symptoms, reduce joint stiffness and pain, to prevent anemia, lower blood pressure, tone kidneys, and break down any kidney or gall stones that may be developing. I put this herb in every one of my nutritive teas and tinctures for all of these reasons, but especially for it's nutritional value. Nettle contains calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, iron, sulfur, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin K, and quite a bit of protein.

Oatstraw Avena sativa is a whole body tonic. It's super beneficial to just about every organ and system in the human body. But it's also super packed full of nutrients that we don't always get a lot of from our food. Oatstraw is an excellent source of magnesium and chromium, an important mineral for maintaining a healthy blood sugar level. It’s also a good source of calcium, vitamin A, niacin, iron, phosphorus, riboflavin, selenium, thiamine, and vitamin C. And even better, all the nutrients contained in this little herb are super easy for the body to absorb, digest, and use. 

Red Clover Trifolium pratense is full of benefits for everyone, but especially for women. It helps with hormone issues associated with menstration, early pregnancy, and menopause. However, it's also an important herb for men as it helps prevent prostate problems such as BPH (benign prostate hyperplasia) and even prostate cancer. Red clover is also a source of many valuable nutrients including calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, and vitamin C. 

Red Raspberry Leaf Rubus spp. has been used throughout history to help aid in pregnancy and labor. This herb is one of my favorite herbs to use for women, helping balance female hormones, increase fertility, and tone the uterus. It regulates menstrual cycles, reduce cramps, PMS, and other symptoms that come with irregular menses. Raspberry leaves also help relieve respiratory infections, strengthen the intestines, and help speed the healing of minor wounds. Nutritionally, red raspberry leaves contain iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese, niacin, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin C, and vitamin E. 

Pygeum Pygeum africanum is an herb from Southern and Central Africa. This plumb tree is actually used more for it's bark than it's fruit, being used for treating benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), boosting fertility, preventing urinary tract infections (UTI), and reducing inflammation. It's also used to help treat and prevent age related issues that some men have, such as male pattern baldness. 

Saw Palmetto Serenoa repens is well known as a male herb, helping to balance testosterone levels and prevent BPH (benign prostate hyperplasia). It's also super nutritious, being packed full of vitamins and minerals. 

Spirulina Arthrospira platensis and Arthrospira maxima is a blue-green algae that is being studied for quite a few of its actions recently. First off, it helps control candida, helping to prevent and treat yeast infections. It's also a great herb to use to help detox heavy metals, being shown to be especially potent against Arsenic. Spirulina is also great for the circulatory system, helping to lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, and reduce the chance of stroke. It provides a bit of an energy boost, making it a great choice to add to your morning routine. It also helps to improve memory and brain function. While all of this is amazing, the number one reason I include this in so many of my recipes is for it's nutritional value. Spriulia contains copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, sodium, potassium, zinc, phosphorous, calcium, selenium, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin K, vitamin E, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and vitamin A. 

Turmeric Curcuma longa is a great herb for just about everyone. It's anti-inflammatory, antiviral, helps aid digestion, and full of beneficial nutrients. Turmeric contains good amounts of minerals like calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, copper, zinc, and magnesium. It's also super rich in vitamin C.




Basic Multivitamin Tincture

2 parts Nettle Leaf
2 parts Alfalfa Leaf
1 part Oatstraw
½ part Mint


Alcohol Preparation Instructions:
Combine herbs in a 16oz mason jar, fill the jar about ½ way with the herbs. Cover, and fill the jar, with alcohol. Label and leave in a dark, cool place for 6 weeks. Make sure to shake it once a day. After 6 weeks, strain out the solids and enjoy your liquid multivitamin. 

Glycerin Preparation Instructions:
Combine herbs in a 16oz mason jar, fill the jar about ½ way with the herbs. Cover, and fill the jar, with glycerin. Put the lid on the jar. Place a wash cloth, or silicone baking mat on the bottom of a crock pot (crock pot must have a “keep warm” or “Very Low” setting), place the jar on top of the cloth/mat. Fill the crock pot up about ¾ of the way (or about ½ inch under the lid of the jar) with water. Turn the crock pot on it's lowest setting and allow to stay there for at least 1 day (up to 3), adding more water if needed. Strain and enjoy!

Overnight Infusion Option:
Instead of making a tincture, you can use the same herbs in an overnight infusion. Combine the herbs in a 16oz mason jar, fill the jar about ½ way with the herbs. Cover, and fill jar with boiling water. Seal the jar and allow to sit, in room temperature, 8-12 hours or overnight. Enjoy the next day!

This basic recipe can be altered simply by either reducing the amount of one or two of the herbs and adding in whichever other herbs you desire, or using the basic recipe as a starter and adding in the additional herbs on top of it. Here are a few alternative recipes I use as an example. All the instructions are the same so I'm only sharing the ingredients.


Women's Daily/Prenatal Vitamin

2 parts Nettle Leaf
1 part Alfalfa Leaf
1 part Red Raspberry Leaf
1 part Red Clover
½ part Oatstraw
½ part Mint


Men's Daily/Prostate Health 

2 parts Nettle Leaf
1 part Alfalfa Leaf
1 part Saw Palmetto
1 part Pygeum
½ part Oatstraw
½ part Mint


Children's Daily Vitamin

2 parts Nettle Leaf
2 parts Alfalfa Leaf
1 part Mullein
1 part Red Raspberry Leaf
½ part Oatstraw
½ part Licorice (or Chamomile if your child hates Licorice like I did)


Healthy Pets Dog/Cat Multivitamin

2 parts Nettle Leaf
1 part Catnip Leaf
1 part Dandelion Leaf
½ part Turmeric




I hope this vitamin recipe helps improve your daily routine. Feel free to do some research and add in whatever herbs you feel would help you and your family. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below!



Resources:


7 Benefits of Pygeum: Organic Facts: https://www.organicfacts.net/pygeum-benefits.html 

Alfalfa Benefits & Uses: Wellnessmama: https://wellnessmama.com/188/alfalfa-herb-profile/ 

Best Herbs for Prostate Health: Healthfully: https://healthfully.com/34518-herbs-prostate-health.html 

Catnip Herb: Alternative Nature Online Herbal: https://learnaboutherbs.com/gallery/catnip.htm 

Chamomile Benefits: Herb Wisdom: https://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-chamomile.html 

Licorice Root Benefits: Herbs with Rosalee: https://www.herbalremediesadvice.org/licorice-root-benefits.html 

Mint- Medicinal Uses: Mother Earth Living: https://www.motherearthliving.com/health-and-wellness/herbs-for-health-medicinal-mint 

Mullein- The Medicinal Herb that Fights Infections & Inflammation: Dr. Axe: https://draxe.com/mullein/ 

Nutrition of Stinging Nettle: Livestrong: https://www.livestrong.com/article/350785-stinging-nettles-nutrition/

Oatstraw- Stress Reliever, Love Potion, Brain Booster, and More: GrowNetwork: https://thegrownetwork.com/oatstraw-benefits/ 

Red Clover Benefits: Herb Wisdom: https://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-red-clover.html 

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea: Dr. Mercola: https://articles.mercola.com/teas/red-raspberry-leaf-tea.aspx

Saw Palmetto Benefits the Prostate & Stops Hair Loss: Dr. Axe: https://draxe.com/saw-palmetto-benefits/ 

Spirulina Benefits: Dr. Axe: https://draxe.com/spirulina-benefits/ 

Turmeric Nutrition and Benefits: Nutrition and You: https://www.nutrition-and-you.com/turmeric.html 

What Are the Benefits of Organic Dandelion Leaf?: Global Healing Center: https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/what-are-benefits-of-organic-dandelion-leaf/ 

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!



Welcome

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...