Archive for the ‘Recipes and DIY’ Category
Posted by|20 June 2014
Feeling inspired by the herbal bounty of summer? We sure are!
We’ve been out in the green world formulating recipes while the sun shines, soaking up inspiration from the unfurling leaves, fragrant flowers, and spreading roots this season brings. So, we want to know…what are you making? Salves, lip balms, tinctures, teas? Let’s share our herbal wisdom!
Pop on over to Instagram and post photos of the herbal recipes you’ve been creating for a chance to win $100 gift certificate from Mountain Rose Herbs!
Be sure to use #herbalsummercontest to enter. A winner will be announced on July 6th!
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Posted by|17 June 2014
If you love the sun as much as I do, you’ve probably been scouring the natural foods stores for the best natural sun protection out there. I worked at a grocery co-op for a while and even though we had the best products on the market for happy healthy skin with minimal additives, I’ve still always wanted to go a little further.
I’ve spent the last couple of months perfecting a sunscreen recipe, and have finally created one that I’m happy to share with friends and family. For this recipe I combined all of my favorite skin-loving ingredients and combined it with the known protection of a small amount of zinc oxide (non-nano) for a super protective and perfectly nourishing sun screen.
Right now is also the perfect time of year to utilize the powerful sun for infusing oils. This is a great way to add the healing properties of herbs to a body care recipe. I like to keep a bottle of calendula infused olive oil and lavender infused olive oil around, because I know I use them in SO many recipes. For this one, I used half calendula infused olive oil and half lavender infused olive oil. If you want a shortcut, you can purchase calendula infused oil here and use it alone for the recipe.
Herbs for Healthy Skin
Known for its anti-inflammatory and skin healing properties. Slightly astringent and antiseptic.
Lavender is a calming and relaxing herb. It is antispasmodic, antiseptic, and used to relieve sunburns, insect bites, cuts, blemishes, and muscular aches. A classic healing herb for skin – especially minor burns.
Aloe helps to both moisturize the skin while being mildly astringent to draw out heat. It is soothing and helps relieve irritation from sunburn, minor skin burns, rashes, and insect bites.
Neem oil is a rich and thick (you may need to heat it in warm water to use it) golden brown base oil with a strong and nutty aroma. Neem oil is derived from pressed neem tree nuts and has antiseptic, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties. Neem also has a low natural SPF which will help protect your skin!
Sesame oil comes from pressed sesame seeds. Sesame oil is an antioxidant base oil and is a source of vitamins A and E and protein. Sesame oil has a long shelf life and also has a low natural SPF.
Coconut oil is a great ingredient for lip balms, lotions, deodorants, and is known as the ultimate skin softener. Makes a great after-sun treatment.
Derived from the first pressing of ripe olives with beneficial vitamins and minerals. It is a great oil for infusing herbs, although in body care it is best used lightly unless you enjoy the aroma. In this recipe, you won’t be able to smell it in the end.
Beeswax is used as a thickener in recipes for creams, lotion, salves, butters and balms. It also adds a lightly protective barrier to the skin. If you desire a vegan recipe, you could replace it with carnauba wax.
Cocoa butter smells heavenly! Cocoa butter is hard at room temperature but easily melts at body temperature. This will help keep your final product solid until you rub it on. Great before, during, and after sun!
Derived from pressed shea nuts, this butter is a cream-colored soft substance with a strong nutty fragrance. Shea butter is a highly emollient, skin softening additive that’s great for lotions and creams, as well as body balms and nail care.
Lavender Essential Oil contains all of the amazing healing power of lavender flowers, but concentrated into a highly aromatic and therapeutic oil. A few drops go a long way, so I use this oil both as a soothing agent and for fragrance since it blends deliciously with the scent of the cacao and shea butter.
DIY Herbal Sunscreen Recipe
1/8 cup organic Calendula or organic Lavender infused oil (Jojoba, Grapeseed, or Olive Oil)
1/8 cup Aloe Vera Gel
1/8 cup organic Neem Oil
1/8 cup organic Sesame Oil
1/8 cup organic Coconut Oil
1/8 cup Beeswax Pastilles
1/8 cup organic Cocoa Butter or 10 wafers
1/8 cup organic Shea Butter
40 drops organic Lavender essential oil
1 teaspoon Vitamin E oil
2 Tbsp Zinc Oxide (non-micro) – I found mine online.
If you don’t want to add Zinc Oxide, that’s totally fine. Simply omit it and you will have a lovely lotion great for the skin with a low natural protection around 5 SPF. If you go this route, it will be important to test out how the protection works for you with short exposures. Use multiple applications!
These tins work perfectly to store your natural sun block. I used one 4 oz tin and two small 1 oz tins.
When making body care products that include oils and butters and other ingredients, I always melt my butters first. You can do this using a double boiler over medium heat.
1. In a Pyrex bowl, melt together coconut oil, beeswax, cacao butter, and shea butter over gently simmering water.
2. Once melted, add in your oils and your aloe vera gel.
3. Once everything is adequately mixed together, remove from heat and then stir in the zinc oxide if using. Be careful while doing this step, zinc can be irritating if it comes into contact with mucous membranes, especially in this powder form. Wear cloth around your nose and mouth and goggles. It is important to agitate as much as possible at this stage. Use a whisk to mix thoroughly.
4. Lastly, add in your essential oils and Vitamin E Oil. Stir until well distributed.
5. Pour into containers and let cool until solid before closing with a lid.
And now you’ve made your own sunscreen! Time to soak up the sun safe and luxuriously! The sunscreen will be usable in about an hour, but will harden more overnight. Apply a thin layer when out and about in the sun, every hour for optimal nourishment. You’ll notice in the photo that the sunscreen you just made will go on silky smooth and won’t leave behind a white residue.
Posted by|16 June 2014
The summer grilling season is here! Although there are many of us to who love to grill year round, there is nothing like cooking outside on a beautiful, warm summer evening surrounded by loved ones. Whether you prefer a dry rub or the slathering of a zippy barbecue sauce, I’ve come up with two very spicy recipes full of all sorts of good-for-you herbs and spices. These are basic recipes that you can customize to suit your tastes!
Spicy Grilling Rub
This recipe is for a very spicy rub! Created as a match to all sorts of proteins, potatoes, and veggies, this combination adds zest and zip to summer grilling recipes. Feel free to make substitutions if you don’t like so much heat by omitting some of the peppers or going with a milder chili powder. It even works well as a seasoning for homemade bbq chips, tacos, fajitas, or other Mexican-inspired dishes.
2 Tablespoons organic Smoked Sea Salt
2 Tablespoons organic cane sugar
2 Tablespoons organic Cumin Seed powder
2 Tablespoons organic Bird’s Eye Chili powder or Chili powder
2 Tablespoons organic Lemon Pepper seasoning blend
2 Tablespoons Smoked Paprika powder
2 Tablespoons organic minced Onion, dried
2 Tablespoons organic minced Garlic, dried
1 Tablespoon organic Cayenne powder
1 teaspoon organic Ginger Root powder
Mix all ingredients in a wooden, stainless steel or glass bowl. Stir together until well incorporated. This is great sprinkled on potato wedges that have been tossed lightly in olive oil and then roasted or use this as a rub for your protein of choice. You can even mix this up and store it to be used as needed (or given as a gift.)
Savory Barbecue Sauce
1/8 – 1/4 cup organic Sesame oil
15 ounce can organic tomato sauce
1 cup organic apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup organic blackstrap molasses (or raw, organic honey)
1 Tablespoon organic minced Onion, dried
1 Tablespoon organic minced Garlic, dried
1 teaspoon organic Yellow Mustard Seed, ground
1 teaspoon organic Cayenne powder
¼ teaspoon organic White Pepper, ground
1 teaspoon organic Paprika powder
1 teaspoon organic Oregano leaf, dried
1 teaspoon organic Sage leaf, dried
Heat sesame oil over medium high heat and add garlic and onion granules. Stir and allow to sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add tomato sauce, water, molasses, and the rest of the spices and stir well with a whisk or wooden spoon. Turn heat down to medium, add apple cider vinegar and simmer for ½ – 1 hour or until sauce is thick and the flavors have combined well. Use to baste protein of choice while grilling, sautéing, or roasting. Extra sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Posted by|15 June 2014
One of my favorite tea-making strategies is to take a delicious tea blend that I love and add extra goodness to it with organic herbs and berries. It is a great way to get extra nutritive, calming, and health benefits out of a cup of tea. This tea is all about healthy calm while building on the yummy flavors in our organic Peace Tea (like spearmint, lavender and rose). I like to toss in some nettle leaf and schisandra berries. Feel free to substitute other herbs that speak to you when the stressors of life start to wear you down!
Calm Spirit Tea
1 Tablespoon organic Peace Tea
1 Tablespoon organic Nettle leaf
1 Tablespoon organic Schisandra berries, dried
Put all ingredients in an infuser, nest or tea bag. Pour boiling water over and let steep for 4-5 minutes. I like to make this one up in a disposable tea filter and let the compostable paper bag stay in my cup while I drink the tea, just to make sure I extract as much of the tasty nutrients as possible. This makes enough for one large cup, but you can multiply the measurements for a full pot (or more.)
Posted by|11 June 2014
Who’s ready for a cocktail to ring in summer?
The sun is shining bright and plans for potlucks, barbecues, and picnics are in the works. If you’re looking for a refreshing summer cocktail to enjoy during these long, warm days, this is the one! Notes of lemongrass, tropical flowers, citrus, and mint will transport you to paradise – even in your own backyard.
This recipe can easily be made into the perfect party punch served up in a classic glass bowl with slices of citrus fruits and sprigs of mint floating on top for garnish. This is a wonderfully thirst quenching spin on spiked iced tea that will be a definite crowd-pleaser at any fun celebration!
Steep and chill Hibiscus High tea. Combine with alcohol of choice and shake with ice. Strain into an ice-filled Collins glass, top with ginger brew, and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint and orange peel.
If you are making punch, mix 1 gallon of chilled Hibiscus High tea with 1 gallon of ginger brew and 2 quarts of booze. Allow your guests to ladle the punch into an ice-filled cup. Makes about 25 drinks.
Posted by|08 June 2014
My garden is having a banner strawberry year! We’ve been eating everything from strawberry shortcake, tossed salads made with greens, onions and strawberries, and just eating those delicious morsels straight from the strawberry patch! I thought I’d let June’s red harbingers of summer be my guide and inspire the creation of a delicious iced tea. Mix this up by the cup or for a crowd. It has the added bonus of smelling amazing!
Strawberry Sage Iced Tea
For one serving:
2 Tablespoons fresh or frozen strawberries, thawed
1 teaspoon raw, organic honey
1 teaspoon dried organic strawberry leaf
1 teaspoon dried organic sage leaf
Fresh sage and/or strawberries for garnish
Put strawberries in a bowl and drizzle honey over, mash into a sweet pulp. Using a tea infuser, tea ball or bag, put dried strawberry and sage leaf into infuser and pour 1/2 cup boiling water over tea in another bowl, cup or Pyrex glass measuring cup. Let steep for 3-5 minutes and remove infuser or bag. Pour tea over the berry-honey mixture and let cool and mingle at room temperature for a half hour or so. Pour this mixture through a strainer and add 1/2 -1 cup cold water to berry tea. Stir well, add ice and garnish, if desired.
For a pitcher:
2-3 cups fresh or frozen strawberries, thawed
1/2 cup raw, organic honey
3-4 cups boiling water
1 1/2 – 2 cups cold water
1/4 cup dried organic strawberry leaf
1/4 cup dried organic sage leaf
Fresh sage and/or strawberries for garnish
Put strawberries in a large bowl and drizzle honey over, mash into a sweet pulp. Using a tea infuser, tea ball or bag, put dried strawberry and sage leaf into infuser and pour boiling water over tea in another bowl, pitcher or large Pyrex glass measuring cup. Let steep for 3-5 minutes and remove infuser or bag. Pour tea over the berry-honey mixture and let cool and mingle at room temperature for an hour or so. Pour this mixture through a strainer into a pitcher or gallon jar and add cold water to berry tea. Stir well, add ice and garnish, if desired.
Feel free to experiment or adjust the sweetness to your taste…enjoy!
Posted by|01 June 2014
If you happen to live in the lower portion of the U.S., or you’ve done much traveling down South, you’ve likely experienced the wonder of Sweet Tea and Sweet Tea Punch. While I am solidly a Pacific Northwesterner, some of my fondest memories of vacationing in Tennessee and Kentucky are of enjoying the sweet, fruity, minty beverages served over ice! My version, I confess, is a little “crunchier” with fresh-squeezed orange juice and organic cranberry juice and sweetened with raw, organic honey…
Sweet Mint Tea Punch
8 cups of water, divided in two
3-4 Tablespoons organic Mint Tea
1/2 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup organic cranberry juice
1/4 – 1/2 cup raw, organic honey to taste
fresh mint leaves for garnish
Bring four cups of water to a boil. Meanwhile, put the Mint tea in a strainer, tea ball or paper infuser and put in a pitcher. Pour the hot water over the tea and allow to steep for 5-7 minutes. Remove tea infuser and add the fruit juice, raw honey to taste and 4 remaining cups of water to pitcher. Stir well and refrigerate and/or serve over ice. Garnish with fresh mint leaves, if desired. You can also add some club soda or ginger ale for carbonation, if you want your tea punch to have some pop!
Posted by|27 May 2014
It’s the summer party season! Between barbecues and graduation parties and wedding showers…whew! While I love all the friendly conversation and fun in the sun, figuring out what to bring to potlucks and parties can be a bit of a challenge. I decided this year, I would create one delicious dish, customizable to the occasion, and make it my signature Summer Recipe. Keeping in mind all those special diets, and wanting to capture the flavors of the season, I’ve come up with an Herbal Onion Dip to put those store-bought versions to shame!
I wanted a dip with some zip and tang, but still mellow enough to go well with all sorts of dip-ables. Plus, I confess, I wanted to sneak in some good-for-you herbs and spices, too! Feel free to customize this recipe to suit your tastes and favorite herbs. You can even mix up the dry ingredients and have on-hand as a dip mix. Good idea, right? Add a little milk or buttermilk, and you’ve got a tasty dressing! It is best made the day or evening before, so all the flavors have a chance to meld and the yogurt can absorb the delicious herbal goodness!
Herby Onion Dip for Summer Parties
2 cups plain organic yogurt of choice (you can use sour cream, if you’d like, but I’d suggest doing half yogurt and half sour cream, since the yogurt adds such a tangy taste!)
1 Tablespoon organic minced Onion
1 1/2 teaspoons organic Cilantro Leaf, dried
1 teaspoon organic minced Garlic
1 teaspoon organic Oregano Leaf, dried
1 teaspoon organic Sage Leaf, dried
1 teaspoon organic Thyme, dried
1/4 teaspoon organic Turmeric Root Powder
1/2 teaspoon organic Spinach Powder
1 teaspoon Himalayan Pink Salt
1/2 teaspoon ground White Pepper
Measure the yogurt out into a bowl, add all the seasoning ingredients and stir well. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Garnish with fresh herbs, if desired and serve with vegetables, chips, crackers, etc.
Posted by|25 May 2014
Mmmm…lemon! For me, lemon has the magical ability to be both soothing and stimulating, as well as delicious as a hot or cold beverage. It is warming during a frosty morning and cooling on a sunny afternoon. I created this tea recipe to be full of flavor with a nice floral finish, and oh, so very lemon-y!
Lemon-y Love Tea
1 tsp. organic Blackberry Leaf
1 tsp. organic Lemon Balm
½ tsp. organic Lemongrass
½ tsp. organic Lemon Peel
½ tsp. organic Pink Rose petals
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice and/or raw organic honey to taste
Scoop all dried ingredients into a tea infuser or tea bag. Pour boiling water over and let steep for 2-3 minutes. Add fresh lemon juice and/or honey and stir. This makes enough for one cup, but feel free to multiply for a full pot. Enjoy!
Posted by|18 May 2014
While Sundays can be perfect for a big, hearty breakfast, that just isn’t always what I’m craving. Sometimes, I want something light to help me ease into the morning. Some Sundays, a cup of tea and a crunchy piece of toast are just perfect. A nice cup of tea can definitely be full of nourishment. When I’m getting over an illness, feeling run-down, or just needing a boost to get me going for a busy day, I’ll take all the herbal goodness I can get…
Nourish Me Tea
1 tsp.organic Nettle Leaf
½ tsp. organic Oatstraw
½ tsp. organic Chamomile flowers
½ tsp. organic Red Clover blossoms
½ tsp. organic Ginger Root
Scoop all ingredients into a tea infuser or tea bag. Pour boiling water over and let steep for 3-4 minutes. This makes enough for one cup, but feel free to multiply for a full pot. Enjoy!
Posted by|13 May 2014
The first time I ever created a lotion or cream, I was dazzled by how incredibly easy it was. As an avid cook, I quickly realized it was quite similar to making mayonnaise or a sauce or dressing – and the results are nutrition for the skin! High quality and luxurious skin lotions can be incredibly expensive and we may not know if all the ingredients are safe and non-toxic. Fortunately, since it is so easy to make our own, we can choose the best ingredients for a fraction of the price and concoct soothing masterpieces!
I created this rose-infused lotion from ingredients I love and that work well with my skin: Grapeseed oil because I love the silky texture and it works well with other oils to help the skin absorb, Coconut oil because it helps to retain moisture and won’t irritate, Cocoa butter because of the creaminess and the deep cocoa aroma, and the Rosehip Seed and Vitamin E oils because my skin (like me) is a little, uh, seasoned and these oils add extra nourishment.
Aloe Vera gel is a so good for those of us who spend a fair amount of time in the outdoors. Since I garden so much, I believe it helps heal scratches and scrapes, as well as soothe after a bit too much sun.
This particular recipe is all about the skin rejuvenating properties of rose – utilizing our wonderfully floral Rose Hydrosol and Aphrodite aroma oil for an intoxicating and spirit-lifting aromatherapy, but you could easily try different scents like lavender or citrus or even a woodsy aroma might be more your style! This particular lotion works quite nicely as a face and body lotion since it absorbs into the skin quickly and leaves a soft, silky sensation.
Feel free to use this recipe as a guide and experiment or make substitutions to create a face and body lotion to suit your preferences and needs, or make it as-is for a silky, luxurious face and body lotion…
Silky Rose Face and Body Lotion
½ cup Grapeseed oil
½ cup organic Coconut oil, refined or unrefined
1 Tablespoon organic Rosehip Seed oil
1 Tablespoon Vitamin E oil
¼ cup Aloe Vera gel
¼ cup organic Rose Hydrosol
1-2 teaspoons Aphrodite aroma oil
10 drops Peru Balsam essential oil
In a glass Pyrex bowl or large glass Pyrex measuring cup (at least 4 cup size), combine the Grapeseed oil, Coconut oil, Cocoa Butter wafers, Rosehip Seed oil, Vitamin E oil, and Beeswax pastilles. Heat over boiling water until melted and mixed together. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about a half hour. You may be able to speed up the cooling process by setting the bowl in the fridge or freezer for several minutes.
Meanwhile, measure the Aloe Vera gel and Rose Hydrosol and combine. Now that the oils have cooled a bit, it is time to mix! I have tried this using a hand mixer, an immersion blender, and a traditional blender and they all work just fine. It really depends on your preference and what you have. If you are using a traditional blender, pour the melted oils and beeswax into the blender pitcher and turn on medium, gradually add the Aloe Vera/Rose Hydrosol mix in a slow steady stream. If you are using a hand mixer or hand immersion blender, you will do the same thing only hold the mixer/blender with one hand and do the pouring with your other hand.
Depending on the temperature of your ingredients, the mixing until thick and creamy may take anywhere from a few minutes to 5 or 10 minutes. Don’t get discouraged. The texture will be like a medium thick pudding when it is ready. At the very last, add the Aphrodite aroma oil and the Peru Balsam essential oil. The Peru Balsam serves as a great base note and fixative for the rose scents. It combines well with the other scents and I think it brings out the softness of the rose. It also lends additional anti-inflammatory and antiseptic qualities to the lotion. You can, however, leave it out or make a substitution (Lavender essential oil would also be nice.)
Pour the finished lotion into containers and allow to cool completely before putting on the lids. This recipe makes enough for about 2-3 cups of lotion (we filled three 4-ounce jars). If kept in a cool place, out of direct sunlight, the lotion should last just fine for several months, although you will likely use it up long before then!
*If you would like to make a thinner lotion, use 1 Tablespoon of beeswax, melted with the oils in the first step.
Posted by|12 May 2014
This month I’ll cover the botanical basics of five common plant families that you’ll encounter while taking a stroll through just about any park, trail, or garden. These will give you a good place to start, but there are many other families to explore if you fall in love with the art and science of identification.
This week we take a closer look at the roses!
Rosaceae – The Rose Family
Perianth - The perianth consists of the calyx (sepals) and corolla (petals) together. Generally, these flowers have five sepals and five petals.
Stipules – Stipules are outgrowths at the base of a petiole (leaf stem). Look for stipules where the leaf stem meets the main stem.
Hypanthium - More than 10 stamens arranged around a floral cup or hypanthium. The sepals, petals, and stamens attach around the edge of a cuplike receptacle containing the ovary.
Food and Medicine
The Rosaceae family includes many beloved medicinal and edible plants including roses, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, hawthorn, apples, cherries, peaches, plums, serviceberries, pears, meadowsweet, Lady’s Mantle, and many more.
Medicinally, the roses have been used as heart-openers and tonics (hawthorn and rose), internal and external astringents (blackberry leaf and roots, strawberry leaf, rose), and as nutrient rich women’s tonics (raspberry leaf and fruit).
Used in aromatherapy, rose essential oil is considered a calming mood elevator and aphrodisiac.
We have a wonderfully rosy recipe coming up on the blog tomorrow!
For more basic botany see: The Four Whorls of the Flower