Category Archives: tea

Wellness Wednesday: Calendula

Calendula officinalis – Also known as marigold or pot marigold.

Calendula’s bright flowers range in color from yellow to a bright orange. It has widely spaced toothy leaves and grows to a height of about 18 inches. Be sure not to confuse this bushy, aromatic annual with African or French Marigold.

It is a readily self seeding annual. Plant in direct sun with well drained soil with moderate water. Pick flower heads daily to encourage more growth. Calendula will repel eelworm in the garden and is a good companion plant for beans, lettuce, potatoes, roses and tomatoes.

Calendula is a great soothing herb for the skin. I use it in a lot of my salves, oil and skin care recipes to sooth and calm skin redness, rash, and irritation. It is good to treat cuts, burns, lacerations, bruises, diaper rash, sprains and inflammation. It promotes rapid healing and helps minimize scarring.

Calendula is great in a poultice for sore nipples, ulcers, sprains and varicose veins.

It is also a very good lymphatic herb that helps thin and drain lymph that sometimes gets clogged and congested.  My husband had very thick lymph around his neck and ears that was causing ear issues and with massage, and Calendula tea, his lymph drainage improved and so did his ear problems. It also boosts immunity by increasing lymphatic drainage. Note that Calendula tea will make you pee a lot, and this is a good thing. Just be sure to drink plenty of water with it to help aid the body in the clearing of toxins from the body.

I hope you can see why this wonderful and beautiful herb is always at hand in my herbal “Medicine Cabinet“.

How do you use Calendula?

 

Shared on Wildcrafting Wednesday.

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Tummy Tamer Tea

As I have mentioned before I have been struggling with a gluten intolerance and have cut out gluten from my food, unless something slips in there I don’t know about. I have been gluten-free for almost 2 months and my stomach still HURTS! Even with the medication I am taking I am having issues and can not figure out what the problem is. I understand I have a food slip (where there is gluten in something I was not aware of) probably once a week but the stomach pain is daily. I called the pharmacy where I get my stomach medicine to find out what else is in the pill other than the drug its self and the pill is not gluten-free… Damn it!

So I talked to my midwife and she recommended papaya enzymes. I am going to go get some tomorrow. I guess most of the people in her family have celiac and that is what they take when they have gluten issues.

I went to the herbalist and told them my problem, and that I needed a tea to help assist with my digestion problems and healing and this is what they suggested, I thought I would share.

Equal parts of:

Calendula: Soothes and heals intestinal lining and reduces inflammation.
Fennel: Helps treat indigestion, calming to the intestines and stomach.
Marshmallow root: Soothes irritation of the mucous membranes, coats the stomach and other digestive regions, protecting their soft walls from acid and other irritants.
Chamomile: Anti inflammatory, calming.

She mentioned the tea mix they usually recommend has other herbs in it that are not safe for pregnancy/lactation so we stuck with this simple tea. Lets hope it helps. I have had a nice big 24 oz of it so far today and my stomach does feel better. Lets hope it lasts!

How do you soothe an angry stomach? Any natural celiac tips?

How to make herbal tea in a french press: For dummies

I made some Crazy Pregnant Lady Tea for a friend of mine who was having some anxiety issues. When she received the zip lock bag full of the tea ingredients she then continued to freak out a little bit. Not very helpful for the anxiety. What do I do now? I have this bag of herbs and now what? I keep forgetting that most people are used to having their tea neatly put into bags and not having to deal with any of this mixing non sense. I did write a post a while ago about the different ways I steep tea BUT here is a step by step guide of the way I make my tea most often.

First thing is first. This is a french press: 

You can get one at Target, and I often see them at Ross. You can also find them on Amazon. They come in 2 sizes, large and small. Pretty straight forward over all. That mesh screen on the bottom of the plunger keeps floaties out of your drink. It is awesome.

When you make herbal tea you use 1tbsp tea mixture for ever cup of hot water. My french press is 6 cups so I use 6 heaping table spoons of tea. It conveniently is right up to the top of that red line on the bottom if you are feeling particularly lazy.

Fill the press with boiling water, put on the top without pushing down the plunger, and let steep AT LEAST 20 minutes. It can steep for up to 8 hours for the maximum benefit. The reason you put the top on to cover it is to keep the volatile oils from the tea in the tea without letting it evaporate out. This is very important.

After it has steeped an appropriate amount of time push down the plunger, pour in your favorite mug and serve.

What is your favorite way to brew your herbal tea?

Crazy Pregnant Lady Tea

So I guess pregnancy makes me crazy. I noticed feeling depressed this pregnancy around 12 weeks. I was just down and completely useless as a mother and a wife. I mentioned to my loving husband that I felt down and he said he thought I was depressed during my last pregnancy. I must not have noticed it over all the puking, gall stones, high blood pressure, pain and over all grossness.

Anyway I talked to my midwife about my options. We discussed antidepressants, because I have been on them before for situational depression and postpartum depression. We discussed the merits of massage, acupuncture, chiropractic and therapy as well. She wrote me a prescription for antidepressants but I decided to do some research before filling it and taking the drugs. After careful consideration I did not think the benefits of the drugs did not outweigh the risks, namely the baby dealing with detoxification effects after birth, increased chance of colic, and increased chance of behavioral/neurological problems. Considering I was not suicidal or homicidal, I decided to try natural solutions first.

I decided to take better quality health supplements that I was taking before I got pregnant and stopped taking because they cost more. I highly recommend finding a good whole food supplement. I was taking Standard Process, which I really like, but have gluten in them (I very recently got diagnosed with gluten intolerance) so I had to switch to a different supplement which is working well for me. I got my vitamin D levels tested and am taking liquid vitamin D drops.

I get massage at least once a week, and am going to start going to acupuncture again (insurance ran out last year, but now it is covered again so I am going again).

I have increased my fat and protein ingestion with healthy animal fats, coconut oil, and omega-3 supplements in the form of cod liver oil. There is some great information out there about how these fats are beneficial to your nervous system and health. See http://www.westonaprice.org/basics/principles-of-healthy-diets .

On top of all this I did a lot of research on herbs that can help balance my nervous system and the rest of the body. I am very careful with herbs while pregnant because they are not tested for safety during pregnancy. You need to depend on years and years of gathered data from herbalists, doctors, midwives, and other professionals who deal with herbs on a daily basis. A good rule of thumb I have found is if it is food it is usually safe. There are some notable exceptions though so do your home work!  There are some great books out there about herb safety during pregnancy, nursing and for use with children. I went to my herbalist to discuss options for tea, and between the research I had done with my books and the interwebs, the herbalists vast knowledge, and the assistance of my midwife checking for safety we came up with my crazy pregnant lady tea. This tea is also safe for breast-feeding, we checked as I am still breast-feeding. I actually see an increase in my milk supply when I drink it, I am guessing because of the nutrient boost.

Not only is the tea great for depression/anxiety/neurological issues, but it is also extremely nourishing, especially for woman. All woman can benefit from this tea but it is extremely nourishing and tonifying to benefit pregnant woman.

Here is what we came up with:

All ingredients are equal parts except for the St. Johns Wart which is 1/2 part to the rest.

Red Raspberry Leaf
Nettle leaf
Oat straw
Chamomile
Lemon Balm
St. Johns Wart
Lavender (optional)

This is why we decided on these herbs:

Red Raspberry Leaf:  Is the “best known, most widely used, and safest of all uterine/pregnancy tonic herbs.” -Weed p.18 It is nutrient dense with high levels of vitamin c, vitamin E, easily assimilated calcium and iron, vitamins A and B complex, and many minerals including phosphorous and potassium. It is known to increase fertility, prevent miscarriage and hemorrhage, ease morning sickness, reduce pain during labor and after birth, and assists in the production of breast milk. If you do nothing else at least have a cup or two of this great tea every day. And it tastes good too! – Wise Woman Herbal for the Child Bearing Year by Susan Weed

Nettle Leaf: Nettle One of the finest nourishing tonics known. Contains vitamins A, C, D, and K, Calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron and sulfur. It aids in kidney health and function, increases fertility, nourishes the mother, fetus and placenta, eases cramps and muscle spasm, reduces pain, prevents hemorrhage after birth and increases the richness and amount of breast milk. – Wise Woman Herbal for the Child Bearing Year by Susan Weed

Oat Straw:  This was an addition mentioned by my herbalist as a highly beneficial ingredient to the nervous system AND breast-feeding. It is also highly nutrient dense with high levels of Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamins B (complex), A, C. The oat straw I get from the herbalist is not processed in a plant with wheat or other gluten containing grains and is gluten-free. If that is a concern from you be sure to ask this to your herbal provider.  “Oat straw is a nervine, which means it provides nutrients to reinforce nerves, particularly when an individual is suffering from stress. It is high in vitamin B and can help people maintain restful and regulated sleep patterns and other nerve-related problems associated with sleep and stress, including insomnia, anxiety, memory less, depression and restless legs”

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/105497-benefits-oat-straw/#ixzz1kX3xrKuS

Chamomile:  Chamomile is probably one of the most widely used relaxing nerve tonics. It is used to relieve mental stress and tension. It is calming, anti-inflammatory, pain relieving, anti-spasmodic for easing muscle cramps, nervine (helps soothe, calm and strengthen the nervous system). -The Herbal Medicine Makers Handbook by James Green

Lemon Balm:  *fresh lemon balm is listed in the Wise Woman Herbal as an emenogogue (helps bring on periods). I use dried lemon balm and have had no issues but if mis-carriage is a concern you may want to exclude this from your tea. This was one recommended by my herbalist to add to the tea and was checked for safety by my midwife with no concerns. Lemon balm is considered specific for helping one cope with life situations that are difficult to accept. It is an old favorite for depression, melancholy, and hysteria. – Wise Woman Herbal for the Child Bearing Year by Susan Weed

St. Johns Wort:  Is nervine (helps soothe, calm and strengthen the nervous system). It has a sedative and pain relieving effect appropriate for treating neuralgia, anxiety and tension, and any irritable and anxious effects of menopausal changes. As an anti-depressant, it is highly recommended for treatment of melancholia or “the blues”. -The Herbal Medicine Makers Handbook by James Green.  There is a lot of misleading information on the internet about St. Johns Wort. It has never been proven  to cause miscarriage, birth defects, or to decrease milk supply. It has at best been anecdotally linked. My herbalist consulted three different books, (two written by medical doctors) about the risk to pregnancy and did not find anything concerning. It in fact is known as a moistening herb and can slightly increase your milk supply. If you are concerned please consult your health care professional and find information for your self!

Lavender: I listed this herb as optional because it is not synergistic to me. It does not calm me, but makes my nervous system twitchy, which is not a normal reaction. For this reason I do not include it in my tea but the herbalist suggested it might be beneficial. It is well-known to ease stress, tension and headaches. -Natural Health by Nerys Purchon

I hope this helps explain the tea and the great things it does. As always this is not intended for medical advice and you should speak to your health care provider before starting any herbal routine. As I said I worked on this with my herbalist and midwife to come up with the best solution for me. I hope this helps anyone who is suffering and can serve as a great guideline!

What do you do to help combat anxiety/depression?

Shared on Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday.

MIA-What we have been doing.

Hello there. It has been a while. I guess you could call me a slacker as I have not been keeping up with my posts, and I guess you would be correct.

A quick update on life. I got pregnant, had a bunch of visitors for Ellie’s birthday, got crazy depressed from the pregnancy and had to climb my way out of that sink hole before it swallowed me whole. Thanks to my mom, supplements and herbs I am back on track and actually feel functional.

Ellie is no longer sleeping in our bed, she is instead sleeping through the night, in her own crib, in her own room! I can not tell you how wonderful this is. I very much cherish the time we had co-sleeping with our little sweety. It made breast feeding SO MUCH easier and more convenient, and I really thing it helped us connect as a family. We decided to switch because Ellie was not sleeping as well, every time I moved she needed to nurse back to sleep, which made me not sleep well. If you have ever been pregnant with a toddler you know how important sleep is. So for all of our sanity we made the switch. It really was the right time to do it.

We got the book “The No Cry Sleep Solution” and read it and followed the books advice. I really liked the book because you could modify it to your families needs. It even allows for co-sleeping families, which I still completely support. With the plan she was upset and did cry for about 40 minutes with us in the room with her but fell asleep. She woke up 3 times the first night but went back down without too much of a fuss. Night two she cried for about 15 min. Since then she cried on and off sometimes for 1-5 min here or there until last week. Now she gets put in her crib and goes to sleep! Sometimes she will babble to her self for a while but no crying! It is amazing and I am SO glad to have such a WONDERFUL husband who got up with Ellie that first week. My biggest concern was that she would want to nurse back to sleep so Mike got up with her at night instead of me. It worked wonders.

As I said the preggo hormones made me crazy. I will make this a separate post but right now I will quickly mention I decided not to take drugs because of the side effects to the fetus. Instead I am working very closely with a natural nutritionist, certified herbalist/apothecary, and my midwife to help me balance my bodies needs and my own. I have a supplemental regime personalized for me by my nutritionist with whole food supplements that help my body get the nutrition it needs. The supplements are expensive but the work wonders. I am also drinking an herbal tea daily designed with the help of my apothecary which gives my mind and body a nice boost. I am drinking some now in fact. I went from completely dysfunctional (my mom came and lived with us for almost a month because I was completely useless) to being a competent, functional human being again! I love it.

That is the last four months in a nut shell. Now that Ellie is going to bed at 7:30 every night I should be more consistent in blogging until the little one arrives.

What do you do to get out of a bad place? What resources do you use to re-center and focus your life?

Lakeside chamomile

So we went to estes park two weekends ago to get out of the heat and go for a hike. As things turned out our car had some issues (just the fuel injector thankfully) and we spent some time resolving that issue instead of hiking. So since we were already there we decided to go for a walk around the lake. We took the short 3.8 mile path and it was a nice, beautiful, relaxing walk.

2011-07-31_15-54-43_735.jpg

I have started learning to identify herbs out in the wild and don’t usually pick anything unless I know exactly what it is. I got a handy dandy little chart last week from borders to help me better identify native Colorado plants. This plant though I can identify pretty much anywhere. Chamomile.

German Chamomile

We all know chamomile, or at least should. It is a wonderful calming,  cooling herb. People use it to sleep, soothe and relax, reduce redness and inflamation, help resolve bloating, stomach pain and nausia. Other benefits include soothing colds, helping wounds or abscesses heal, reducing gum inflammation, treating skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema, and treating ulcerative colitis. Chamomile is also gentle enough to be taken to treat children’s maladies like chicken pox, diaper rash, and colic. Generally, chamomile is taken as soon as symptoms manifest themselves.

So as we were starting along the lake path I see large patches of Chamomile growing along the walking path. I am not sure if you know this, because I sure didn’t until this spring, but chamomile is a weed. It will grow anywhere and it loves disturbed soil. Our back yard in our house in Spokane is full of the stuff instead of grass. I promise you that just happened and had nothing to do with anything we might have done!

So lots of chamomile all down the path and I decide to pick some. I end up getting a good 4 handfuls of full chamomile plants before we were done with our walk and I hardly made a dent in the chamomile patches.

As you may know one of the tenants in wild crafting is  you leave enough of the plant to leave seeds for the next generation to grow next year. We avoid exhausting our resources now so that they are available for us again next season. I know a novel concept but it seems to work when our greedy human brains don’t get in the way.

So why, you ask, did I pick the whole chamomile plant instead of just the flowers for the tea? I picked the whole plant so that I could dry the plant and get the flowers for the tea, then I will make an oil infusion with the rest of the plant for use in skin care recipes. I will also probably go back, get some more fresh plants and make a quarter bottle of vodka and quarter bottle of vinegar (separately not together) worth of chamomile tincture for use later.

What do you like to use chamomile for?

Summer time and the moving is crazy

Spring. Plants growing, flowers blooming, and allergies breaking the soul of the most tough people around. Rain falls, leaves appear, and spring is here.  In Spokane it STILL felt like spring, even though the summer solstice is almost upon us. We just arrived in Colorado yesterday and it finally feels like summer! The air is clean and smells like blooming flowers, not just one flower, but a bouquet of flowers all blooming and combining into a wonderful mélange of scents. Combine this with the smell of barbeque and the sound of kids playing in the pool, setting off illegal fireworks; and you have a beautiful beginning to the lightest time of year.

We just arrived in our new apartment, moving into 900sq ft compared to the almost 2000sq ft house (if you count the basement) we own in Spokane, with nothing but the possessions we could fit in the car, us, the baby, and the dog. It does not feel like home yet. Maybe we will feel better once the rest of our belongings arrive. Our stuff is scattered around the living room and one of the bedrooms. The apartment smells like a smoker lived here before and they tried to clean the smell out by painting and cleaning the carpets. So basically it smells like paint and smokey moldey carpet. There were finishing nails in the carpet on the floor that my child crawls on and I am still paranoid that one is lurking in a deep dark corner that only my little girl’s spidey senses can detect, and while my back is turned for two seconds she will find it and put it in her mouth. Does anyone have a large magnet I can use to get the stray nails off the floor?

The drive was not that bad for all that was going on. We were working our butts off on the house for 2 weeks prior to the move. Ten of those days we were working at least 10 hour days, usually 12 hour days trying to get everything done. We meant to leave Friday morning and get an early start on the drive so we could take our time and enjoy the scenery. We left Saturday night at 8:30 with a bunch of stuff left on the front porch, in the garage, and the window casings not finished. The house was a mess but we just couldn’t go any more! We got some construction workers to help us on Saturday and they are supposed to come back sometime this week to finish up the window casings. Thankfully the economy sucks and they were willing to do most of their work on trade. We are down two very nice saws and whatever they took from our donate pile, as well as the food that was left in the house, for their work on Saturday and this week. I just hope they go back to finish the work.

Our Realtor is wonderful and taking all this like a champ. She owns her own “green” cleaning company so we are paying her to take care of the house cleaning. If you need an eco-friendly maid service that does a great job let me know! I can give you her business info. She is amazing.

I still can’t believe how much garbage we had in the house! So much waste comes with a move. We recycled as much as we could and donated the rest but there was still a lot of waste. I was happy though that when we did put broken stuff out on the sidewalk with a sign that said “FREE” (broken baby gates, banged up broken desks, sod that didn’t get used, etc.) people took the stuff away right away! That made me feel a little bit better about getting rid of the stuff. We had two of the wooden framed, plastic cris-cross pattern in the center broken baby gates. One lady took a broken one to contain the new puppy she just got, and one took the other broken baby gate for her pea plants to climb up. What great thinking!

So we leave on Saturday night, tired, sore and grumpy, with a tired grumpy baby and a dog that has no idea what is going on. We got all the way into Montana and stopped. It was about 2 hours but we just could not go any further! When I got out of the car to get the hotel room a beautiful smell assaulted me. I say assaulted because you don’t really realize how bad you and your husband smell until you smell fresh clean air. We were pretty rank. The smell of a full, fast flowing, and live river permeated the air. The smell was so fresh and clean. There is no better smell in the world than fresh, clean, flowing water in clean air. MMMM. That was refreshing. We slept with the window open that night with that beautiful smell and the crisp spring air filling the room.

The next day we drove into Wyoming, which was a beautiful drive. The 90 freeway follows the river right down into the plains. The rolling hills, green grass, and overflowing and powerful river were very pretty and were a great sight to enjoy. We decided next year we are going to celebrate Ellies birthday in Yellowstone National Park. I have never been but always wanted to. What a great thing to share with your family! It is just about as close to us here in CO as it was in WA so no excuses! We have to go see. The air in Wyoming was also fresh and clean. I couldn’t believe how unpopulated it was. It is definitely somewhere we will have to visit someday.

So we got here in CO at 5:30 on Monday, right before the leasing office closed. Things were crazy and hectic but we got everything done and settled. Sitting here, in our new home I still feel disconnected from reality, like this is not our home. This is not our life. But it is, and we will make the most of it. I have spent a lot of time outside today, walking, getting connected with the earth and the rhythm of the place and I know I can find peace. I am drinking some tea from the plants I brought with me from Spokane to help bring the since of home to me here and now. Yes I brought herbs with me from Spokane to here. I am the crazy herb lady.

Hopefully I can bring these herbs with me to our next home and continue the health and vibrant energy I have been fostering all spring. I will bring it into summer, through fall, and hopefully some can live inside during winter. Life will be good. We will have peace. The heart just needs to follow what the mind has been repeating for months.

Happy summer solstice!

About Herbal Tea

I am no historian, but I would guess herbal teas have been around for as long as herbs have been used for food or medicine, and man (or woman) kind has had the ability to boil water. Really I can just see it now, cro-magnon man says: “zug woman me have upset tummy after eating half a big hairy long nosed beast leg”, and cro-magnon woman rolling her eyes at his gluttonous ways, thinking he should eat more plants goes off to make some mint tea for her man’s ills.

Herbal tea is made typically by pouring boiling water over various plant parts, (leaves, seeds, roots, flowers, etc.) and letting it steep until the water retains the flavor (or medicinal properties). Some herbal teas may be bought in tea bags for your convenience. These are great when you are on the go, but there is nothing better than tea made from fresh plants or whole dried leaves, flowers, etc.

Herbal teas are great both to enjoy for the flavor and for more medicinal uses. I love to find the best flavor combinations while maximizing the health benefit as well!

If you are just making the tea to enjoy on a cold winters eve, or iced on the back porch on a hot summer night, the tea only needs to steep for 5-10 minutes, or until the flavor is where you like it. If you are using teas for medicinal purposes, steep time should be at least 30 minutes, the longer it steeps, the more affective it will be (up to about 2 hours, then its just sitting there waiting and ready.)

“OK”, you say, “I have my herbs, I have my boiled water… so what now?” There are many ways to make and steep your tea, but I have three favorites.

French press: This is by far and away the best way to make teas with small leaves, ground roots, seeds, or anything that is small enough that you wont want to go fishing for in your tea cup. Almost every night before I go to bed I make a tea with 2 sprigs of fresh mint (if I have some handy), 2 leaves of stevia and 2 tbsp of chamomile. I pour boiling water from my tea pot over it and let it steep for about an hour. (I make it right before dinner so I can enjoy it all evening afterward). The press filters out all the chamomile floaties. It is wonderful and easy to use. It is also great for dandelion tea, flower teas where the petals will separate like the lymph tea, and loose leaf green or black teas.

Fiestaware pitcher: Ok so it doesnt have to be fiestaware, that is just what I have; but it is so pretty! To add to its beauty and make some delicous tea to enjoy on a hot summer day, take 1 sprig of spear mint, a handful of hibiscus leaves, and some dried orange or lemon peel. Put it in the pitcher, add boiling water to the fill line, (obviously don’t add boiling hot water to plastic; in fact, avoid plastic as much as you can), and let steep about 20 minutes. If you use a clear glass jar you can put it out in the sun for a tasty delicious sun tea as well! If you chose to add some vodka to the tea with fresh lemon or orange peel I bet it would be marvelous!

Tea Ball, or Tea Infuser: Last, but not least, the tea ball/infuser. This is a metal wire mesh ball that opens in the center so that you can put your tea on the inside and steep without all the loose leaf tea messiness. This is great if you are just having a single cup of tea, or if you like that relaxing feeling of staring off into space, daydreaming, dipping the tea repeatedly in the steamy water, slowly smelling the sweet fumes drifting up to you, and feeling at peace. That is how I feel when I use it at least. They work great and are cheap! Also great for smaller particle teas.

So there you go, Amanda’s basic “how to” on herbal teas. Now go out, make a nice steamy cup of goodness, and enjoy!

Nettley Goodness

Last weekend I went to the farmers market and the nice man who gathers all sorts of goodies had bags full of nettles! Nice fresh nettles. So wonderful, so delicious, and so medicinally chock full of goodness!  I bought a whole gallon bag full of the fresh stingy little things for $3 and brought it home.  Can’t beat that!

urtica dioica

I dehydrated some for tea for the year; as nettles are only medicinally useful before they flower so there is a very short season. Once the plant flowers it is linked to stomach upset and a lot of other fun stuff. I made spanakopita with nettles instead of spinach, and made an oil infusion of nettles in olive oil.

What am I going to do with my oil infusion? My daughter has eczema on her eyebrow that is very dry and scaly and it bleeds easily when she rubs her eyes. I have been looking for a treatment that has not involved harsh chemicals, preservatives, or petroleum products and have found very few treatments. After I got home with my bag-full-o-nettles I looked in my herbal guide and read that nettles used in a salve is an effective treatment for eczema.

So tomorrow I am going to the farmers market and getting some local bees wax. I am also going to have to get about 2-3 cups of chamomile so I can do an oil infusion with that. I will take the beeswax, coconut oil, nettle and chamomile oil infusions and combine them to make a salve to put on little miss’ eyebrow and see how it works!

What are nettles good for you ask? The whole herb is used to nourish the body. Externally it can act as an astringent and can stop bleeding, cleanse and heal wounds. As a tea or tincture it can help improve circulation, increase red blood cell count, promote milk production in nursing mothers and can be used to stop internal hemorrhage.  It works well to heal UTI’s and bladder infections. It can help hamper the inflammatory effects related to allergies. “It is a specific for treating infantile eczema, especially in combination with chickweed.” (Natural Health by Nerys Purchon) For more detailed information check here: http://www.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_nettle.htm

All in all this is an herb every mother (especially one with little nurslings) should have around the house! Tis the season! Go out and get some this weekend before it gets too hot and they are not harvestable!

I will post a follow up in about a week.

Until then happy herbing!

How to make Roasted Dandelion Tea (or Coffee)

In my last post about harvesting dandelions, I talked about all the great benefits of the different parts of the dandelion, and a little bit about how and where to harvest them, so here is what we do next.

When we are done digging the dandelion up from the ground we have a nice long thick root that can be up to a foot long, (if we got a nice big plant, if not we have smaller roots to work with which is ok too). We are then going to separate the plant into 3 parts, the flowers, the leaves and the root. The stems the flowers are on can be tossed unless you need the latex sap to remove warts.

Flowers are edible, leaves are great in tea or in salad (if they are young and tender), and the roots are perfect for making tea/coffee.

I am going to be honest, the difference between dandelion tea and coffee is the strength you make it so the words are interchangeable here and I drink it as tea so please forgive me if I use one or the other but really, the difference is the steep time. The dandelion coffee you can buy in the store is not pure dandelion, but has other ingredients of barley, rye, along with dandelion root, chicory roots and beetroot. I personally prefer the straight dandelion flavor. When you roast them in the oven to dry it has a nice smoky slightly bitter flavor. It is almost like a dark black tea, not as much like coffee but still really good! And you don’t need creamer or sugar for the dandelion like you do for coffee.

So you have a nice big pile of dirty fresh out of the ground dandelion root, what next?

Wash wash wash! I rinsed my roots off on the drive way with the hose before even bringing them into the house. This is to get the big obvious chunks of dirt off, as well as any worms that might be hiding in the roots. Worms love dandelion roots!

After they are rinsed I bring them inside and soak them in the sink with some Bio-Clean produce wash. My front yard is completely pesticide and animal free, but the produce wash is still a good idea to help get the dirt and any chemical residue that might be picked up from the air or water runoff from the neighbor’s house, etc. After soaking the roots in the bio-clean solution for 10 minutes I rinse again and scrape/scrub off any remaining dirt. Then rinse rinse rinse until there is no residue in your water! Dirt can get attached to those roots pretty well so it takes some time to make sure they are really clean. It almost reminds me of cleaning leeks, only it takes more time.

Once they are nice and clean chop up the roots into about 1/2 inch lengths and rinse again (just in case you missed some dirt). Then throw the roots into the food processor and process down to the size of coffee grounds.

Take a large baking sheet, or three, depending on how much you harvested, and cover with a very thin layer of olive or peanut oil so the grounds don’t stick, then put the sheets in the oven at 225 degrees for 2 1/2 hours (or until they are dry). Leave the oven door open so that the moisture can escape and the root will dry faster.

The oven leaves a nice roasted flavor that you don’t get from the dehydrator. It is worth the warm kitchen!

Once it is all dry you can store it in zip lock bags or glass containers and use as needed.

Use 1 tbsp roasted roots per cup of coffee. You can add more or less depending on how strong you like your coffee. You can simmer the roots in the coffee pot for 10-15 min to get the correct strength. For tea let the roots steep for 5-10 min, strain and drink. French press works wonders for all types of herbal tea!

Here are some more ideas for tea recipes from http://www.prodigalgardens.info/

Dandelion roots can also be used in some other beverage aside from coffee. We can make a spicy tea from these roots. This tea is called ‘Chai’ in Middle East but it is just tea in America. You will need:

a cup Roasted Dandelion root
6 tablespoons of Fennel or Anise seed
36 green pods of Cardamom
72 Cloves
6 sticks of Cinnamon
2 tablespoons of dried Ginger root
1½ teaspoon of black peppercorns
12 Bay leaves.

Mix tea mixture well, add 1/4 cup of mixture (with 1 cinnamon stick per pot) to a pot of boiling water and let boil for 20 min. Let cool and serve. You can add milk and honey to taste.

The next chai is has a chocolatey flavor.
2 cups Roasted Dandelion root
½ cup Cinnamon bark
½ cup Ginger root
½ cup Cardamom seeds
½ cup Star Anise
Honey
Milk

Every 2 cups of water use 3 tablespoon. Simmer it for 10 minutes. Add milk and honey, then heat but do not boil. You can serve it either hot or cold.

This spicy tea is good for winter.
1 cup Roasted Dandelion root
½ cup dried Orange Peel
½ cup Cinnamon bark
¼ cup dried Ginger root

Per cup, use 1 tablespoon only. Simmer it for 10-15 minutes the use honey to sweeten it.

Enjoy the goodness!