Guilt and the Herbal Helper

 

 

Disclaimer: The author receives no compensation for this article. The author is not a medical professional, nutritionist or dietician. Content on this website is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for medical treatment or diagnosis and is not monitored or evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration/FDA. Consult your health care provider if you are experiencing any symptoms and before using any herbal product. Any application of the material provided is at the reader’s discretion and is his or her sole responsibility.

Colds are no fun. Unproductive coughs, combined with colds and/or flu are even worse. When you’re down for the count, and you ran out of “Fire Cider” before your cold was on the downside and before the next batch was ready, perhaps before the next batch was even started, because the cold/flu brought on a huge delay in herbal remedy productivity, the last thing you want to do is become involved in laborious processes for crafting herbal aid.  What about garlic honey? That was sitting on the counter. Oh wait… You ran out of that too. For hopeful planners, a discovery like that is mortifying.

Amidst the foggy brain, reminders to make remedies for colds ahead of time may swim upstream, laying all kinds of heavy guilt along the shoreline of shaky coherence. The little voice of opposition chastising getting sick in the first place may chime in too. Thankfully, with a little self-compassion, the guilt subsides and rescue is within reach.

If you’re one of the fortunate budding herbalists to sign up for Rosalee de La Foret’s “Herbal Cold Care” course, her mantra of use “the one you have on hand” will float into consciousness, like a fairy godmother. When illness and caring for loved ones tires you out, it’s nice to have a reference to come back to when you need it, to buoy you up.

Break out the ginger, because maybe there’s lots of it on hand that had been purchased for making the next batch of “Fire Cider” for prevention and support.  But chopping it may not only be a time issue for those standing woozily at the height of a heinous cold or flu bug, but sharp knives? Not a good idea. Thankfully, a cute little helper is available that brings joy to herbal aid, as well as cooking. Enter: Vibe, by Chef’n. It not only easily chops garlic with its zippy rolling motion, but ginger too (and says so on the package). And the sharp parts are within the little bubble of purposeful cuteness. It’s easy to rinse out, and deemed dishwasher safe in the top rack by the manufacturer. Perfect for the procrastinating herbalist in need of self-care and relief, fast.

The fresh ginger then gently steeps in a helpful water infusion, ready in minutes. And maker beware, don’t use a handy tea infuser ball, as the tougher ginger rhizome needs broader contact with the water. Just throw the ginger into the water and let it sit for what your recipe calls for, then strain it out if you’d like. Save the ball for leaves and flowers, the less dense “aerial parts” of our other herbal allies.

If you can smell the ginger, you’re way ahead of the game. If you can’t smell it, hopefully after a cup or two you will. That’s its job. Nasal passages begin to open and the brain fog lifts with peace settling in its place. Clarity, well-being and a mouth-breathing reprieve!  Win-win-win!

Ginger is a highly versatile herb and food. When the cold subsides a bit, then it’s time to add to the restoration of herbal remedies by making garlic honey too, because the Vibe will make that a quick job as well, and garlic honey is ready in 24 hours, instead of the four to six weeks until “Fire Cider” can rescue you.

Results may vary. Wishing you wellness and well-being!

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The heart of Botaniscape™ and budding Herbalist/Wildcrafter, Lori McClellan sees the Art of Herbalism as her lifelong connection to Nature and wonder manifested most fully—another exciting medium and source of abundant joy. A daily meditator and career Journalist, Author, Artist and Poet, she creates as Loretta Boyer McClellan. Her works as a publisher and writer of fiction, nonfiction and poetry; conscious PR, brand, graphic design, and communications; and as an Arts instructor, journalist and artist, “sized the canvas,” so to speak, for a fruitful life of expression, connection and inspiration. Author of The Nature of BEing: A Healing Journey, The Misthaven of Maine Series, and Dodging Raindrops: Poems and Prose of Beauty, Peace and Healing, Lori creates from a place of Oneness. Writing, meditating, painting, and her relationship with Nature and all beings, most tangibly through Herbalism, are her connection to the Infinite. 

Food for the Soul: Food as Medicine

First batch of Garlic Honey. Photo ©2017 Loretta McClellan

There’s something truly empowering in addressing and thwarting a health issue yourself, especially with plant medicine, even more so with herbs deemed as readily available food.

A wicked and lengthy summer cold had been taking its turn on many people in my immediate sphere, finding its way into my own household. As soon as I felt the symptoms coming on, I ate my first spoonful of garlic honey, an herbal remedy I made with loving care myself. I continued taking it throughout the day and by the next morning all signs of the impending doom were gone.

Making this batch of garlic honey was my first foray into crafting dietary herbal support for specific needs (as opposed to cooking meals with herbs or topical wellness support, like making salve). The fact that it was simple food made it all the more joyful, mostly because the ingredients are always in my cupboard, and that I finally noticed their much broader purpose!

Food as Medicine is not a new concept, but a mindset that I have grown in appreciation of the more I study Herbalism. Its practical use has made cooking all the more enjoyable.  It has also deepened my connection with nature, as well as with my ancestors.

Maternal ancestors’ home where they sharecropped in Texas

My progenitors were sharecroppers. They farmed another person’s land in Texas. Their parents farmed, and their grandparents did as well.  Generations of my mother’s side of the family were farmers. It was arduous work and in more recent generations was considered a “poor man’s” vocation. That connection to the earth, however, was priceless, as it had roots that ran deep, all the way to me…and beyond. In my mind’s eye I can even smell the richness of the soil they planted and tended.

Growing up in the verdant yet high-tech Silicon Valley in northern California, not far from Gilroy, the Garlic Capital of the World, on those rare days when wind came up from the south, garlic and onions would waft across the breeze. Even today that most-familiar scent graces our presence in the air on occasion, including in my home every time I open up my jar of garlic honey. I’m reminded of that tangible connection between the earth and her gifts, and with each and every being. I’m abundantly aware that as food is harvested in gratitude, that in its holistic purpose it nourishes the body, mind and spirit. The blessing of dual duty in plants as medicine, as well as food, is food for the soul.

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” ―John Muir

Disclaimer: The author is not a medical professional, nutritionist or dietician. Content on this website is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for medical treatment or diagnosis and is not monitored or evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration/FDA. Consult your health care provider if you are experiencing any symptoms and before using any herbal product. Any application of the material provided is at the reader’s discretion and is his or her sole responsibility.


The heart of Botaniscape™ and budding Herbalist, Lori McClellan sees the Art of Herbalism as her lifelong connection to Nature and wonder manifested most fully—another exciting medium and source of abundant joy. An Author, Artist and Poet, creating as Loretta Boyer McClellan, her works as a writer of fiction, nonfiction and poetry; conscious PR, brand, graphic design, and communications; and as an Arts instructor, journalist and artist, “sized the canvas,” so to speak, for a fruitful life of expression, connection and inspiration. Author of The Nature of BEing: A Healing Journey, The Misthaven of Maine Series, and Dodging Raindrops: Poems and Prose of Beauty, Peace and Healing, Lori creates from a place of Oneness. Writing, meditating, painting, and her relationship with Nature and all beings, most tangibly through Herbalism, are her connection to the Infinite. 

A Recipe for Bliss

“Burdock Bliss Soup” Photo ©2017 Loretta McClellan of Botaniscape.com; all rights reserved

I remember the first time I became aware of the energetics of an herb. It was subtle, but profound.

Shopping for groceries in a new concept store outside of Boston that offered health food, I bought a cereal that had ginger as an ingredient. I ate it and suddenly my food made me feel this blanket of happy. I didn’t put two and two together until I noticed the second time I ate the cereal that my blanket of bliss was back! Ginger has been an herbal food-as-mood-enhancement ever since.

I don’t consider myself a gourmet chef in any sense of the word; however, Herbalism has brought a sense of mindfulness and joy to cooking. To know the energetics or actions of an herb, to know them as friends who promote self-healing, and not just ingredients, somehow even the preparation of a meal is much more meaningful. Before Herbalism study, ingredients put together was often drudgery. Now with herbs as allies, and pairing them in thoughtful meals, cooking has finally become more art than a process of nutrition. The nourishment of food has become a holistic treat.

When I began formal Herbalism study, Burdock root (Arctium lappa) came up on several of my must-have lists to have in my herbal apothecary, primarily for immunomodulating support. It wasn’t until I traveled to Japan in 2017 and discovered burdock root is also known as gobo, that I realized it’s in my neighborhood Japanese grocery store, fresh and waiting for my next recipe! This was also a lesson in communication, as I then discovered that most of my family had been eating gobo for years when and since they each lived in Japan.

Burdock root became a bridge between Herbalism and sharing its many benefits with my family. Ginger and garlic, my longtime friends, were an added bonus!

Burdock Bliss Soup

By Loretta Boyer McClellan of Botaniscape.com

Adapted from Rosalee De La Forêt’s Recipe

(Click to download recipe PDF)

My family loves Asian style cooking and especially fresh ginger, so this recipe, adapted from Rosalee De La Forêt’s, “Hot and Sour Soup with Burdock Root,” is sure to please. It offers zesty flavor and wonderful herbal and wellness support, especially from the garlic, burdock root, ginger, mushrooms, and apple cider vinegar. I opted not to add the egg or tamari (fermented soy sauce), cornstarch or white vinegar; instead, I choose to include ramen, apple cider vinegar and another fermentation benefit of miso from the premade stock. A future version may likely include fresh miso paste in the broth, as well as beansprouts and cilantro to simmer the last few minutes in the soup, with a dash of black sesame seeds as a garnish. Naturally, this recipe will continue to evolve as ideas and family needs change.

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh burdock root, julienned (peel left on, cut into matchstick size in width and cut into approximately 2-inch length; burdock root is known as goba in Japan; found in most Asian grocery stores in the produce section)

1 cup carrots, julienned

5 large green onions, sliced

5 large white mushrooms, sliced (was what I had on hand; next time 2 or 3 Shitake)

2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger

7 cloves of fresh garlic, minced/from garlic press (5 cloves for soup stock and 2 for browning chicken)

4 tablespoons organic apple cider vinegar (unfiltered, raw and unpasteurized)

1 tablespoon organic virgin coconut oil (to brown chicken in)

3 quarts soup stock (one 1-quart carton of Trader Joe’s Organic Hearty Vegetable broth; two 1-quart cartons of Trader Joe’s Miso Ginger broth)

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into approximately 1/8” thick, then cut into approximately 1 ½” long pieces

1 tablespoon sea salt or Himalayan salt (or to taste; for soup stock)

1-inch bundle of ramen noodles per person (real ramen, not “instant ramen;” packages of bundles available in Asian grocery stores)

Dash of sea salt or Himalayan salt (for browning chicken)

1 tablespoon black pepper (or to taste; for soup stock)

Dash of black pepper (for browning chicken)

6 Sprigs of fresh cilantro for garnish

Directions:

Brown chicken slices in skillet in 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and 2 cloves of fresh minced garlic; add dash/es of salt and pepper. Set aside.

Set aside mushrooms for the end of cooking, to preserve firmness.

Pour soup stock into a large stock pot. Add to the stock: sliced green onions, julienned burdock root, julienned carrots, fresh grated ginger, fresh minced garlic, pepper and salt. Gently stir. Add browned sliced chicken. Gently stir again. Heat to high until it boils, then add the vinegar and reduce to simmer and cook for 15 minutes.

During the last 10 minutes of simmering the soup, in a separate stockpot, boil water to cook the ramen in. Ramen generally takes about 4 minutes to cook, but read the package instructions. You want to time the ramen to finish when the soup does.

During the last 5 minutes of simmering the soup, test the carrots and burdock root to be sure they are tender enough. If not, add 5-10 more minutes to simmer longer. If the burdock root and carrots are tender, add the mushrooms and cook 5 more minutes.

Place cooked ramen in bowl, then pour the soup over it. Garnish with cilantro sprig, then serve.

Makes 6+ servings.

Disclaimer: The author is not a medical professional, nutritionist or dietician. Content on this website is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for medical treatment or diagnosis and is not monitored or evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration/FDA. Consult your health care provider if you are experiencing any symptoms and before using any herbal product. Any application of the material provided is at the reader’s discretion and is his or her sole responsibility.


The heart of Botaniscape™ and budding Herbalist, Lori McClellan sees the Art of Herbalism as her lifelong connection to Nature and wonder manifested most fully—another exciting medium and source of abundant joy. An Author, Artist and Poet, creating as Loretta Boyer McClellan, her works as a writer of fiction, nonfiction and poetry; conscious PR, brand, graphic design, and communications; and as an Arts instructor, journalist and artist, “sized the canvas,” so to speak, for a fruitful life of expression, connection and inspiration. Author of The Nature of BEing: A Healing Journey, The Misthaven of Maine Series, and Dodging Raindrops: Poems and Prose of Beauty, Peace and Healing, Lori creates from a place of Oneness. Writing, meditating, painting, and her relationship with Nature and all beings, most tangibly through Herbalism, are her connection to the Infinite.