Archive for the ‘Recipes and DIY’ Category
Posted by|13 July 2014
I recently returned from vacation travels (which included several plane flights) to find I’d come down with a doozy of a bug, just in time for warm weather and opportunities for summer fun. Summer sicknesses are the worst! Between the snuffles and the lingering hack, I knew my body needed some rest, recovery, and tea. This recipe includes my favorite go-to herbs for nourishing a sickly me…
Summer Sniffles Tea
2 Tablespoons organic Slippery Elm Bark
1 Tablespoon organic dried Elderberries
1 Tablespoon organic Red Clover Blossoms
raw, organic honey
This recipe makes about 3-4 cups of tea or infusion. I like to make it in my Tea-to-Go glass tea infuser to take along with me, but you could also make it up in a Mason jar or other large mug. Put all the herbs in the container and cover with 3 cups or so of boiling water. You can also make this up and let it infuse overnight, if you’d like a stronger decoction. While battling my cold, I made a big half-gallon jar full and then “decanted” it as I needed it. Stir in the honey to taste.
Posted by|09 July 2014
Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I love to wake up to a hot dish that’s a delicious source of healthy fats and protein to get my brain going. A little heat from hot peppers doesn’t hurt either. This recipe is super simple and wonderfully satisfying. You can top it with a little sour cream, fresh cilantro, pickled onions, or serve it over corn grits for an extra special treat. Get creative!
Rise & Shine Baked Avocado
1 organic Hass avocado, cut in half with seed removed
2 organic farm eggs
¼ cup shredded organic cheddar cheese
Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees. Place the avocado halves into a baking dish and stabilize them with a little foil if needed. Crack one egg into each empty pit of your avocado halves. You can scoop a bit of avocado out if you need more room for the egg. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Sprinkle ¼ tsp of Mexican Seasoning on each egg filled avocado. Top each half with shredded cheese and pop into the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, top with salsa, and enjoy!
Posted by|07 July 2014
Brace yourselves for my true confession…I love fizzy, buzzy, sodas. There, I’ve said it and I’m not the least bit sorry! While I do avoid commercial sodas for obvious and well-documented reasons, I still get mad cravings for a good ginger ale or sparkly fruity punch. In addition to the refreshing nature of a tasty soda drink, there is something about it that makes me feel youthful, playful, and decadent. While there are more choices on the market now for sparkly fermented beverages made with healthier ingredients, like kombucha and fruit sodas made with real fruit and cane sugar, they can be a bit on the spendy side. Fortunately, it is fairly easy to make delicious fermented soda beverages in the home kitchen and I can use fruits from my own garden!
The first step in creating soda at home is to make a fermented culture known as a Ginger Bug. This takes a few days, but it isn’t the slightest bit hard! It could even be a fun learning project for a child. Here’s the basic recipe:
Equal parts fresh ginger, organic cane sugar, and filtered water
I used approximately 2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 Tablespoons cane sugar
2 Tablespoons filtered water
Mix these ingredients in a jar. I just tossed them into the jar, put the lid on, and swirled it around to combine.
Each day for 5-7 days, add the same equal parts of these three ingredients to the mixture:
2 Tablespoons fresh, grated ginger
2 Tablespoons cane sugar
2 Tablespoons water
I make my version of Elderberry Syrup every fall and sometimes have a bit left over as spring turns into summer to use for a delicious soda. It’s quite easy to make at any time of the year though! Here’s my recipe and another recipe here.
1 cup dried, organic elderberries
4 cups water
1 teaspoon organic whole cloves
1/4 cup organic wild cherry bark
1 Tablespoon organic dried orange peel
Put all these ingredients into a sauce pan and bring to a boil on medium high heat. Once the mixture boils, turn the heat down and let the mixture simmer for 30-40 minutes. Using a strainer, pour the mixture into a large glass or Pyrex bowl (compost the herbs and berries). I like to press down with a wooden spoon to make sure I get all the juice and flavor I can! Let the mixture cool a bit and add 2 cups raw, organic honey to the mixture while it is warm, but not hot. This helps the honey to incorporate into the juice without the need to heat.
This makes about 5 cups of a rather thick syrup (thick enough to use on pancakes or waffles).
For the Soda
In a half-gallon pitcher or jar, add 2 cups of Elderberry Syrup and fill almost to the top with cold, filtered water. To this, add 1/2 cup of the Ginger Bug. Stir to combine with a wooden spoon. Cover with cheesecloth and a rubber band and allow to sit at room temperature for 3-5 days while it ferments. Depending on the weather, season, ambient temperature, and other variables, it may ferment quickly or take a little longer. Taste it after 2 days and see how it tastes to you and then decide if you’d like to let it go a little longer.
You can bottle your soda at this point, if you’d like. Use bottles with a screw top or bottle as you would homemade beer. I prefer to make small batches and drink it rather quickly as they do continue to ferment, even if stored in sealed bottles in the fridge.
Once you’ve made the Elderberry Syrup, you can use the same technique to make syrups from other fruits and herbs. A rose or lavender syrup or a fruit juice base would work nicely for a home-crafted soda. As you use some of the Ginger Bug, add equal parts fresh, grated ginger root, cane sugar, and water to replace. Like a sourdough starter, this culture can last for quite a while if tended properly and you can have the makings for delicious homemade sodas at your fingertips!
Posted by|06 July 2014
Honeybush & Honeyroo Tea
My love for the red teas has been growing lately. As the temperatures soar and I want to reach for something tasty, sweet, and refreshing, I find Honeybush and Rooibos to be a wonderful choice. Since they are also caffeine free, they make a lovely iced tea for sipping with supper on a hot summer evening- a little wedge of lemon and the fruity sweetness comes through!
Since I’ve confessed before how I like to take a delicious tea blend and add a few delicious extra herbs, I’ll let you in on a little secret…organic spearmint is a fabulous addition to both the Honeybush and the Honeyroo tea blends! I like to combine 1 part organic spearmint to 2 parts either Honeybush or Honeyroo, steep with either boiling water or room temperature water (for a yummy sun tea) and served up with a lemon wedge.
This tea is perfect along side a light summer meal or sipped on its own, and since it doesn’t have caffeine, it makes a lovely tea for children too!
Posted by|30 June 2014
We’ve all witnessed the deodorant revolution happen over the past few years. From over-the-top chemical infused sticks to ruin-your-blouse white stuff, finding a healthy and practical alternative can be a challenge. I’ve tried them all and even gone without for many years. Most of the time I don’t need it, but occasionally I like to go on multiple day hiking trips or enjoy the local music scene in small, warm venues. So, I experimented with lots of other recipes to create a formula that works perfectly for my needs.
This isn’t the normal wipe it on deodorant! The ingredients in this recipe, such as the cocoa butter and shea butter, will melt easily with body temperature, while maintaining a solid form in the tin throughout the day. I push a little pea sized chunk off with my finger and rub it into my underarm just like I would body lotion. Once you see how easy it is to make, you might just go a little deodorant wild like me, mixing in your favorite essential oils for a personalized scent treat!
All-Natural Homemade Deodorant Recipe
Makes two 2oz tins
Organic Essential Oils
25-40 drops total
1. In a pyrex measuring glass, combine Cocoa Butter and Shea butter.
2. Using a double boiler, heat over low-medium until butters are melted.
3. Remove from heat and stir in Arrowroot Powder and Baking Soda.
4. Stir in Vitamin E Oil and your desired essential oil blend.
5. Carefully pour into 2 oz tins, filling to the top, but making sure not to spill over.
6. Place lids on containers without pressing down to lock. Just let them sort of sit on top to help prevent dust from settling in your deodorant while it sets.
7. Allow to completely cool and solidify, this can take 6+ hours. I usually let them sit overnight.
Enjoy! And remember, deodorant works best if applied before you are active!
Posted by|29 June 2014
Being in tune with the seasons can mean looking to our surroundings for inspiration when it comes to the food on our plates, the activities we do, and even the beverages we drink. As the fields get full and high with grasses, flowers, and nourishing medicinal plants, I feel an urge to create a tea of those fragrant, nutritional offerings.
This tea is packed with vitamins, beta-carotene, and antioxidants, not to mention the delicious flavors of an earthy summer day…
Field & Flower Tea
1 teaspoon organic Alfalfa Leaf
1 teaspoon organic Cinnamon chips (Cassia or Sweet)
1 teaspoon organic Red Clover
1 teaspoon organic Heather flowers
1 teaspoon organic Marshmallow Root
This is best as a hot tea. Mix all the herbs in an infuser, strainer, tea nest, or filter and pour boiling water over. Let steep for 4-5 minutes. Add honey, milk and/or lemon if desired. Enjoy!
Posted by|23 June 2014
Well, we’re hitting high garden season now! For those of us who grow our own herbs, that means finding a way to preserve at least some of that mid-summer herbal goodness for future use. I dry some of my own herbs to use in teas, infused oils, as culinary additions, and, in the case of some of our hops vines, for the sheer pleasure of decoration! In my garden, I grow comfrey, lemon balm, various oregano and thyme varieties, chamomile, fennel, calendula, sage, rosemary, lavender, hyssop, and all sorts of mints (just to name a few of my favorites), and all of these are quite easy to dry and preserve for recipes, soaps, infused oils, and even dried bouquets. Plus, you don’t need to have any fancy equipment for herb drying – it’s so simple!
Method: Air Drying
The general guideline is to harvest herbs just before the flowers open. I confess I don’t always follow that rule because one of the big reasons I grow many of these wonderful plants is for the bees and pollinators. I might pull a few leaves off a comfrey plant, or use fresh herbs in cooking, tea, and other beverages, but I also love to see the flowers bloom – and my honeybees do too. Additionally, there are some plants, like chamomile and calendula, where the flowers are the most desired part of the plant, where other herbs like fennel and dill, produce aromatic seeds you’ll want to save. For these, you’ll harvest the flower heads after the seeds form.
I like to choose strong stems with healthy, intact leaves for drying. In most cases, I don’t even need to wash the cuttings since I keep an organic garden and don’t have dogs roaming around where the edibles grow. You can definitely give the herbs a wash in cool water prior to drying, just be sure to gently shake off the excess moisture, and remove any wilted leaves, spots, insects, or other unsavory elements.
I find air drying to be the easiest method and this can be accomplished in a few different ways. For plants with tiny leaves like thyme and oregano, I like to lay the stems out on paper towels or a flattened piece of brown paper bag. Some folks like to put a clean tea or kitchen towel on a drying rack (like one used for cooling fresh-baked cookies) and lay the herbs out there. This is best done when the weather is warm and dry. Once the herbs are completely dry, strip the leaves from the stem by sliding your thumb and forefinger along the stem from top to bottom (working against the natural upwards bending of the leaves helps them come right off) and gather them together in a sealed container.
For plants with large or feathery leaves (like dill and fennel), air drying in bundles can work very well. I gather several stalks together and use a rubber band to hold them at the base. Hang the bundles upside down in a warm, dry place out of direct sunlight, like in a garage, shed, basement, etc. Wire, hemp twine, paper clips, and even clothes pins work great for hanging these bundles. You’ll just want to make sure that the air can circulate around them and they aren’t likely to get exposed to moisture or bugs. It is important to not make the bundles too big as this will make for longer, less efficient drying, and can lead to rot or mold issues.
Method: Drying with Heat
Other methods of drying herbs include using a heat source like an oven or an electric dehydrator. When using an oven, you’ll want to strip the leaves from the stems and spread them out on a cookie sheet. Turn the oven on to the very lowest setting and keep a close eye on the herbs while they are drying to make sure they don’t dry too quickly, become crisp, or stick to the pans. For an electric dehydrator, be sure to read the directions that come with your dehydrator for tips on drying times, how to place the leaves in the trays, and temperature suggestions.
For drying herbs with seed heads (like fennel or dill), I like to put a paper or plastic bag over the heads and tie this around the stalks so any seeds that fall will be caught in the bag. You can also dry your herbs outside if you live in a dry climate, but keep in mind that the direct sunlight can fade the colors and extreme warmth can damage some of the vibrancy. Either way, you’ll want to bring the herbs indoors when they are thoroughly dry.
How to Store Dried Herbs & Spices
After the herbs are thoroughly dried, it is important to store them properly to preserve taste and quality. I like to keep dried herbs in clean glass jars with lids or spice jars with corks or shaker tops. You could just as easily keep them in plastic jars or sealed plastic bags. For long-term preservation, the herbs can be frozen in this dried state too. You’ll want to make sure to avoid temperature fluctuations and exposure to light. I try to use up all of my home-dried herbs within a year. If I get my timing just right, I’m using the last of the dried herbs when the plants start growing again!
For more great information on growing and using fresh and dried herbs, check out the following:
Posted by|22 June 2014
Midsummer…longest day of the year…shortest night…however you think of this time of the season, the Summer Solstice is a delightful way to celebrate the fullness and abundance of the summer! When my kids were small and we lived in the Midwest, we’d celebrate the Solstice with an evening picnic and I’d let them stay up, chase fireflies, search for fairies, and experience a magical night. Since they grew up with a gardener for a mom, they thought nothing of pulling off leaves of lemon balm, mint, and rose petals to munch or to use in their own childish versions of “tea” made by muddling fresh herbs in a pot and covering them with water.
While my kids are all grown now, the Summer Solstice brings back a flood of magical memories and all of them seem to be centered around the delight of a garden at night. As you commemorate this annual passage of time, here’s a simple recipe for a tea that is delicious served hot or cold. It takes advantage of the garden’s offerings at this very time of year. Add a little sparkling wine or champagne and you’ve got a memorable grown-up beverage too!
Magical Summer Solstice Tea
1 Tablespoon organic Rose Petals, fresh or dried
1 teaspoon organic Spearmint, fresh or dried
1 teaspoon organic Lemongrass, fresh or dried
1 teaspoon organic Lemon Balm, fresh or dried
Combine all the herbs in a tea infuser or tea bag. Bring water to a boil and pour 2 cups over herbs and let steep for 3-5 minutes. Strain and serve. This makes enough for two cups of tea, but feel free to multiply for a larger pot or a pitcher of iced tea (for iced tea, brew and then let chill). Add a splash or two of blubbly, if desired and garnish with fresh herbs.
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!
Find us on Instagram: http://instagram.com/
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.)