Food Is Your Best Medicine

Our Daily Water

DSCN4502ab

The first day of August means plenty of sunshine and long hot days here in Colorado.  In the intense dry heat it is very easy to become dehydrated.  I find my kids are especially susceptible to neglecting their water-glass which leaves them tired, grouchy and even prone to headaches.

Long ago I learned the magic of simply placing a sprig of mint or lemon balm in my water bottle.  After a half hour or so the water takes on a lovely light taste of the herb.  My kids love herbal waters and I often put a sprig of mint into their water bottles if they are headed out and about for the day.  Yet when we spend the day at home, I have found that filling a pitcher with water and herbs doesn’t seem to attract their attention.  The pitcher is cumbersome for them to use and they often forget about it being in the fridge.  So, earlier this summer I purchased a big beautiful glass beverage dispenser for our family.  Originally I had thought to place it in the refrigerator full of luscious tasty herbs infused in water but it found a prominent home on our kitchen bar, right smack dab in the middle of our living space.  The water is room temperature (unless I add ice cubes) which I find goes down easier than really cold water.  And it doesn’t get forgotten in the fridge.  The kids love going over to the dispenser multiple times per day to fill their glass and they are drinking a lot more water, success!

DSCN4786a

Pepperminty Mint!

Making your own herbal waters is so easy.  Simply place fresh herbs (along with fresh fruits and veggies if you please) in your jar or dispenser, add water and wait a bit.  Soon you will have a tasty treat!  The amount of herbs, fruits and veggies you use depends on your tastes and the size of your dispenser.  Ours is large and we like our water very flavorful so I usually use a big bunch of herbs.  The water we have most often is mint because we have a ton of it in the yard yet there are a lot of herbs and combinations to choose from.  It is really only limited by what you have available and your imagination.

DSCN4651a

Just Strawberries

After trying many blends our two favorites are ~

  • Chocolate Mint with Tart Plums
  • Lemon Balm with Strawberries

A nasty blend we tried ~

  • Basil with Oranges…  I thought my first glass was kind of fun, my kids wouldn’t touch it after the first sip.

Other ingredient ideas for making tasty infused waters ~

  • Herbs: any kind of mint, lemon balm, chamomile, anise hyssop, borage flowers, lavender, sage, cilantro, basil…
  • Fruits: berries, all kinds, melons (think honeydew or watermelon with mint), oranges, limes, lemons, apples, plums, peaches, pineapple, cherries…
  • Veggies: cucumbers, peppers and ??  I am sure there are many more that would be tasty especially in combination with savory herbs, but I haven’t experimented yet.

DSCN4658a

How about you?

Do you have any fancy ways to help your family to drink more water?

Shared On: The Kid’s Co-op, Eco-Kid’s Tuesday, Kid’s Get Crafty, It’s Playtime, Natural Living Monday

Advertisements
Categories: Food Is Your Best Medicine, Herbal Tips And Tricks, Herbs For Cooking, Herbs For Kids and Mamas, Kitchen Creations, Parenting, Seasonal Herbal Crafts, Summer | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

How To Make A Hydrosol

hydrosol1

To me the scent of wild things, of plants and flowers is truly enchanting and brings great joy to my life.  Essential oils and hydrosols capture a bit of that magic for us humans to enjoy any time.   Hydrosols are the aromatic water that is created during steam distillation of essential oils.

Hydrosols are different in their healing properties than aromatherapy spritzers where essential oils are simply added to water.  This is because in addition to small amounts of essential oil, hydrosols also contain water soluble healing compounds.  Among these compounds are plant acids which lend themselves beautiful as toners for the skin.  Hydrosols are generally considered to be gentler and safer to use than their essential oils counter parts.  According to Sagescript hydrosols “contain the beneficial products of essential oils plus more and in a less concentrated, safer form.”

You can use the following method* to make homemade hydrosols from any number of fresh plants and flowers.  Consider using roses (of course!), lavender, calendula, lemon balm, catnip, rosemary and any other fragrant or soothing plant.  I think chamomile would be especially nice.

Today we are making peppermint hydrosol.  The good folks at Mountain Rose Herbs say that peppermint hydrosol is great for cooling down on a hot day and that it is “it is particularly helpful for abrasions, hot spots, and as a facial toner.”  I think it will make a perfect spray or compress for cooling down on a hot day.

~ Materials ~

  • Large pot with a lid, a pot for canning works great for this.
  • Small bowl or container to go inside your pot to collect the hydrosol.
  • Something heat-proof to stand the smaller container on inside the large pot, a jar rack works perfectly for this.  If you don’t have one of these don’t despair.  Try using heat-proof ramekin instead.
  • Water, distilled or filtered
  • Ice cubes
  • Peppermint (or other plant material)

~ Method ~

Place the rack or ramekin in the bottom of the large pot and put the small bowl or container on top of the rack/ramekin.

still1

Next fill the bottom of the large pot with plant materia.  You want the plants to reach up to the smaller bowl.  Then fill with water until the plant material is just barely submersed.

still2

Finally put the lid to your larger pot upside down on top of the large pot and fill it with ice cubes.

still3

Heat this whole set up just enough for the water surrounding the peppermint to steam but not boil.  Let it work it’s magic for 20 minutes or so.  We used a clear lid so we could watch the hydrosol condense!

~ How It Works ~

The water will steam the plant material carrying all the goodness from the plant into the air.  The steam collects on the lid of the pan and condenses due to the ice cubes.  Because the pot lid is upside down, as the steam turns back into a liquid the liquid is directed to drip down into the smaller bowl.  This liquid is your hydrosol!  Pretty cool, uh?

Please store you new hydrosol in a dark glass bottle in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!

~ How to get kids involved with this project ~

If you have read my blog for long, you know that sharing herbs with kids is a great passion of mine.  So of course, getting them involved in this fun project is a big plus for me.  Here are a couple of ideas for sharing the fun with little ones!

  • harvestingmintHave them help you harvest the peppermint.  Explain to them that cutting the mint right above the point where two leaves sprout off the stem helps the plant to grow two new stems.  This is because there are baby leaf buds nestled in right above each individual leaf.
  • Ask the child to help you set up your still.  And share with them what is going to happen.  This is a great time to talk about water and all of its forms.  The liquid water in the big pot will heat up and turn into gas or steam.  This is like a big peppermint infused cloud.   The solid water in the form of ice cubes will help the steam cool down and “rain” into the bowl.
  • Explore your new hydrosol together.  Spray it on yourselves and talk about the effect on your body and mind.  Taste it and cook with it.  Make lotions together too!

For more fun with mint join me at our summer herb camp where we have a whole lot of magical minty ideas!

* Jeanne Rose’s Herbal Body Book is where I found this great way to make your own hydrosols.  I stumbled upon this awesome book years ago when I was a teenager.  For weeks I coveted and saved until I could purchase it and bring it home with me.  My first sojourn into making hydrosols with this method was way back when.  I made the most beautiful rose water right in my family’s kitchen.  So incredible!

References: 

Categories: Aromatherapy For Kids, Herbs For Cooking, Herbs For Kids and Mamas, Hydrosols, Kitchen Creations, Medicine Making, Science Exploration, Summer Herb Camp | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Vanilla Ice Cream With Fresh Chocolate Mint

My youngest is home from a fabulous day of summer camp at one of our local farms.  Sunflower Farm has it all from hay bale maze, to zip lines, to ponies, to cherry pickin’.  The fun is non-stop.  Needless to say little V is covered in dirty farm happiness and in need of some serious down time this afternoon.

feet

So this afternoon found us quietly rambling in the yard harvesting a bit of our freshly growing chocolate mint.  So it is so yummy and vivacious with dark green leaves and chocolate colored square stems.  I love having this plant growing in our yard.  We took our mint inside to create our first ice cream of the season.  I love making frozen desserts with my kids using healthy ingredients!

chocomint

Ingredients ~

  • 16 oz of cream or milk, we used cream from grass-fed cows but coconut milk would be wonderful too!
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup of fresh chocolate mint
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup of honey or whole sugar (we used sucanat for this batch)
  • the seeds scraped from half a vanilla bean pod and/or 1 to 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Directions ~

Wash the mint and remove any stems.  Place the mint, sweetener and vanilla in a blender and grind everything together for a few minutes.  The add the cream/milk and blend until everything is combined very well.  Taste the resulting mixture to make sure everything is delicious, make adjustments if necessary.  Then dump the liquid into an ice cream maker and freeze following manufacture directions.  My kids and another child from the neighborhood couldn’t get enough of this stuff.  A super yummy summer treat!

Chocolate Mint Ice Cream

Shared On: Simple Meals Friday, Wild Crafting Wednesday

Categories: Adventures And Stories, Food Is Your Best Medicine, Herbs For Kids and Mamas, Kitchen Creations, Natural Family Care | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Super Breakfast Miso Soup

Soup for breakfast you say?  I thought it kinda strange too when my husband told me about the soup he used to eat while living with Japanese roommate during college. For years he would reminisce about the breakfasts they would have together ~ delicious, healthy and convenient Japanese soups complete with dried little fishes floating around in the bowl.  A recent journey into a grain-free diet has brought him back around to having nutrient rich soup for breakfast and this recipe is his own creation.  It is chock full of goodness from nettles and shiitake mushrooms to miso and seaweed.  What better way to start your day?

Normally I love to have yogurt with berries and ground flax seed for breakfast or some nice veggies scrambled with eggs and cheese, and so do my kids.  Seaweeds and shiitake mushrooms are a bit hard for me to handle even though I want to love them, really!  Yes, I am a reforming picky eater. So when my hubby started making this soup I observed him with interest and a bit of jealousy along with a healthy dose of happiness that he was making such a great start to his day.  And just the other morning, I took the plunge and tried his soup.  One taste made my body light up and I found it was delicious!  (Just like I tell my kids, you never know if you will like something until you give it a try…)  The last two days I have indulged in a big bowl of this delicious soup early in the day.  My energy has been a steady, wonderful hum and I don’t feel hungry until noon, pretty amazing!

This morning hubby man taught me to make this very special soup so I could share it with all of you!  He doesn’t really measure anything exactly so this is the best interpretation of his method based on my careful observation.  He also uses the frozen veggies and dried herbs for convenience.  Feel free to substitute fresh ingredients in their place, though you may need to adjust the quantity.  If you can find little dried fishes to add to your soup, go for it!  Please let us know where you found them, we can’t find them anywhere which is kind of a bummer for my husband.

Ingredients ~

Makes about 2, 16 ounce bowls of soup

  • 2 to 3 cups of Water
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. Wakame Flakes
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup frozen Spinach
  • 1/2 cup sliced, frozen or 2 big dried Shiitake Mushrooms
  • 1/2 to 1 tbsp. (scant) Dried Nettles
  • 1/4 block of cubed Tofu, optional.  We use a great sprouted tofu that is easier to digest than regular tofu.
  • A splash or a squirt to taste of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (optional)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 big tbsp. Miso Paste

Method ~

Stage One

Create Your Broth

nettles and shiitakes

Add to a sauce pan:

  • 2 to 3 cups of water at least 2″ deep
  • Sprinkle in about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon wakame flakes. These expand hugely as they get saturated with the water, pretty cool.
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup frozen spinach
  • 1/2 cup sliced shiitakes or 2 big dried ones ~ “I like shiitakes!”
  • About 1/2 to 1 scant tablespoon dried nettles, as if you were making a light nettle tea in a cup.

Ideally you would lightly boil this for about a 1/2 hour, otherwise just get it to an active simmer and move on the stage two.  While you are waiting for your soup to cook is a great time for a cup of  tea and  writing in a journal or a nice round of yoga.

Stage Two

Tofu and Bragg’s

tofu cubes

Turn down heat a bit and add to the sauce pan:

  • Add 1/4 block of tofu cubed  (or you can add this in the first stage)
  • For a little flavoring, add a squirt of Bragg’s to tweak out the flavor

If you are pressed for time, you could combine stages 1 and 2.  Both of these ingredients are optional so you can skip this step all together if you want.

Stage Three

The Eggs

Drop two eggs into the soup kinda swirling it around as you drop it.  Now you have two sources of protein, egg and tofu!

Then break up the yolky parts a little, if you can find them.  “Some times you can’t find them and I don’t know what happens then.”

Bring to another simmer to make sure egg gets fully cooked.

My Hubby is a self-admitting heat-adjusting fanatic… and he is, he can take 20 minutes to make a piece of toast in the oven carefully watching and adjusting the toasts placement as well as the temp of the oven.  So you may not need to increase the temp here, just make sure your eggs are fully cooked.

Stage Four

The Miso and the Broth

smeared miso

Take a nice big tablespoon of miso and smear it around the inside of your bowl.  If you just add the miso as a big blob in the bottom of the bowl, it may not dissolve and you may go crazy trying to hunt it down to mix it in.  This way is fast and makes it easy to mix the miso into the soup.

Finally add the broth to your miso smeared bowl.  You want to be sure that the soup has cooled a bit and is not boiling so as to keep the cultures in the miso vital and alive.

Carefully mix in your miso into your amazing broth and enjoy!

miso soup

For a bit of helpful info about soy check out:

Soy And Women’s Health: The Truth About Soy Benefits And Safety by Aviva Romm

Special News!  This week I am guest posting about using herbal medicines safely over at Natural Living Mama.  Hop on over and check it out!

Shared On:  Simple Meals Friday

Categories: Food Is Your Best Medicine, Kitchen Creations, Natural Family Care | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

The Magic of Chocolate

English: Dark chocolate. Español: Chocolate negro.

English: Dark chocolate. Español: Chocolate negro. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you remember the very first time you tasted chocolate?  Real chocolate, the kind that is dark with contrasting sweet and bitter flavors?  I do.  It was a bit of a shock after experiencing only sweet milk chocolate up until that point in my life, yet, once I got past that initial surprise, it was obvious I had found a new love.   I love to watch a person’s face when they take that first bite of a particular chocolate, before they know what to expect.  Their expression screwing up in delight as complex bitter, creamy chocolate melts on the tongue briefly but fully overwhelming the senses.

Yummy!

Chocolate is delicious but not everyone likes it.  This is hard for me to believe, how could someone not like chocolate?  Apparently it is true though.  Once of my dear friends suffers from this affliction and I find myself feeling strange when we decide to share a dessert because I would of course order something, anything with chocolate.  So I usually let her choose which confection to indulge in.  Another friend confessed to an aversion for chocolate just the other day and a woman we were with said, “Are we on the same planet at the same time?”

High in antioxidants and containing mood enhancing alkaloids, dark chocolate has wonderful health benefits.   Once, to my great delight, I was even told to eat more chocolate.    While I lay on her table waiting for her to ‘release my inner dragons’ my acupuncturist explained, “You really need to eat more chocolate, dark chocolate to support your Heart meridian.”  Thrill filled me as I realized I now had a reason to have more of my favorite thing.

Cocoa beans

Health Benefits Of Dark Chocolate ~

  • High in protective antioxidants as well as vitamins and minerals like magnesium, copper and potassium.
  • Heart healthy effects such as lowering blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels while relaxing arteries and enabling blood to flow smoothly.
  • Improves blood flow to brain, heart and eyes.
  • May decrease risk of Alzheimer’s disease and increase cognitive function.
  • Increases cellular insulin sensitivity thereby decreasing risk of type 2 diabetes.

Because chocolate is so delicious with the capability of being strong in its effect, it should not be approached lightly.  Strive to eat about one ounce per day for optimal effect, I know it is hard…  Chocolate is made from the fruit of the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao).  Theobroma means “food of the gods,” and that, in my opinion is what chocolate is.

Recipes ~

Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cookies From Mama Rosemary

Homemade Peppermint Patties and Honey-Butter Finger Bites From The Nerdy Farm Wife

Lavender Chocolate Truffles From Herbal Musings

Hot Dandelion Cocoa From Mountain Rose Herbs

Sources ~

Aviva Romm’s Top 10 Superfood Picks For Women

Chocolate And Your Health: The Basics

10 Health Benefits of Chocolate

Health Benefits Of Chocolate Growing

Benefits Of Chocolate: Study Finds Eating Cocoa Daily May Improve Cognitive impairment

Heart And Vascular Health & Prevention

Shared On: Time For A Party!

 
 
Categories: Food Is Your Best Medicine, Valentine's Day | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: