Spring is finally in full swing here in Richmond and and I have to say: I am Oh. So. Grateful. Spring seems to make everything better. All day this past Sunday I was outside, planting the rest of my summer garden, potting geraniums, playing with the pup on the porch and catching wafts of fragrant lilacs from the front yard. Our apple trees are blooming. Our garlic and onions are kicking ass in their allium bed. Our windows are open all over the house.  It's a time of year I take a particular fondness to...the air is sweet and cool with a hint of warm. The onslaught of southern mosquitos haven't yet taken over my entire life. And the sun isn't quite so hot to scorch my skin. At this time of year, there is almost nothing about winter that I miss. Except maybe the soups...(just a little bit). 

So I tried a mysterious recipe for Carrot & Chamomile soup that I've had floating in my head for about 5 years. I first had carrot and chamomile soup when I was visiting the United Plant Savers* and Equinox Botanicals during my second year of graduate school. My friend Gaby was cooking for us there, and she served a soup like this that just blew my mind. Seeing as how Chamomile just made her debut, I thought I would give it a whirl, and (three tries later), I think I nailed it. 

This soup of PERFECT for spring and warmer weather. It's so light and frothy and bright and absolutely delicious. The natural sweetness of the carrots and apples balances the aromatic slight bitterness of the chamomile. It's so easy to throw together for a lunch gathering, and I loved eating it with a heaping side of Farmstead Ferments garlicky greens kraut. Not to mention of course this subtle soup is remarkably easy to digest for those with sensitive tummies or folks with a weaker digestive fire. The fennel and chamomile are both excellent carminatives (meaning they help with gas and bloating), and chamomile is an intestinal modulator when it comes to inflammation. It's cooling and soothing to sensitive or inflamed digestive tracts. And, it's delicious...with carrots. So so delicious. 

Carrot & Chamomile Soup

2 cups carrots, chopped (4-5 medium carrots)

 1/2 gala apple, seeded and chopped

 1/4 fennel bulb, chopped

 1/2 teaspoon salt

 1/4 teaspoon roasted garlic powder

 2 tablespoons honey

 1 tablespoon chamomile flowers

 1.5 cups hot water
Serves 2

Place carrots in a small pot and cover with filtered water. Boil for 10 minutes. 
While carrots are boiling, bring 1.5 cups of water to a boil in a kettle, and steep 1 tablespoon of chamomile flowers in the freshly boiled water. Let steep for 10 minutes, and strain. 
Once carrots are boiled, strain, and add to a food processor or vitamix along with the apple, fennel bulb, salt, garlic powder and chamomile tea. 
Blend together until smooth. 
Serve immediately (or chilled on the warmer days!). 


*P.S - If you're a lover of herbs, consider visiting (or donating!) to the United Plant Savers foundation. They truly have a haven of medicinal, wild appalachian western herbs in their beautiful Ohio land. Visiting and spending several days in this beautiful sanctuary was a life changing experience for me, and really brought my love of herbs to a whole new personal and spiritual level. Your support and donation will help the volunteers keep up the land and tend to the cultivation of both abundant and endangered medicinal herbal species <3

If there's one herb that almost everyone knows, it's chamomile. Sweet and dainty, yet powerful and strong, chamomile is a staple in almost everyone's home as a gentle, relaxing remedy that the entire family can use. Safe for babies all the way up to the elderly, chamomile is often a go-to herb when you just need some support or a warm cup of comfort. It's delicate flavor hints at it's wispy structure with an intricate, tiny flower with reaching long stems. Chamomile to me just embodies the whole of herbal medicine, and I make sure to never be without this herbal ally. 

Energetically, Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is warm to neutral while being slightly drying. It's filled with essential oils,  flavonoids and sesquiterpenes and has a slightly sweet to bitter taste. It has traditionally been used for ulcers and inflammation around the stomach and has proven itself a mighty champion over the years of quelling inflammation all throughout the gastrointestinal tract. I have found chamomile to be my go-to herb for spasms and pain anywhere in the gut (especially the stomach or large intestines). Of course, it is also an excellent relaxant and nervine too! Helping to calm the mind and relax the muscles, chamomile is a classic "sleepy time" herb used in almost every calming herbal tea formula. And with it's anti-inflammatory properties, chamomile it remarkably effective to use topically for eczema and psoriasis itchiness on the skin!

Chamomile can be made into a delicious herbal tea and sipped throughout the day for digestive support and calming stressful lives. It can also be taken as a tincture (hydroalcoholic extract) for really acute symptoms like stomach spasms or large intestine/bowel spasms. As a tincture, it can work it's magic in minutes (versus a tea, which may take 30 minutes to an hour to have an effect on some people). If you get a little anxious or overwhelmed when traveling, keeping a small bottle of chamomile in your bag can be a real life saver. I NEVER travel without some chamomile tincture on me. Ever. 

I find chamomile to be most helpful in people with IBS or other stress induced digestive troubles. They may be a little jittery or run cold to the touch. They hold their nerves in their stomach and can be kind of wound up most of the time. I've also used it often for babies while they're teething by making chamomile ice cubes for them to suck on (works like a charm). It's usually the first herb I think of for folks with dull, achy menstrual cramps as it's a fantastic anti-spasmodic (and really safe to take in high doses as often as needed). Below is a delicious chamomile based tea formula that I love for spring!

Calming Chamomile Tea
2 teaspoons chamomile
1/2 teaspoon lemon balm
1/2 teaspoon peppermint
1/2 teaspoon lavender
Blend together and steep in 2 cups of hot water for 7-10 minutes, covered. Sip consciously and in a peaceful place. 

This month has been a pretty happy/depressing with my book endeavors. I finally finished the Harry Potter series which was both exhilarating and utterly depressing once I actually finished. I haven't been so emotionally invested in a series for years, so when it's all over there's certainly a void that needed to be desperately filled. I always love to have some kind of lengthy adventure/fiction/fantasy/epic story going on in my background life while I'm also invested in a small pile of other readings or research...just to keep the balance. I'm still on the hunt for the next epic adventure story, so in the meantime, I've been really loving my small pile of "others":

For the Body:
Simply In Season | This is my first go-to cookbook at the turn of the seasons to get in the groove for a shift in seasonal eating. It's segmented by season with a variety of delicious, fresh and seasonal recipes that celebrate the individuality of every season. Colorful salads, vegetable rich main dishes and just-sweet-enough desserts make it easy to get into the feel of spring, and with the lengthy lists of new vegetables and fruits to expect, it makes your grocery shopping that much easier. Their zucchini brownie recipe is a staple in my house and has been for years. 

The Drunken Botanist | This might be one of the most fun herbal resources I've acquired in the past few years. This pretty little book centers around herbal cocktails and spiked herbal teas while giving the (sometimes long) and complex history of some of our favorite flavorful herbs. Now, I'm not that much into liquors or cocktails, but all of these unique (and, dare I say it - "medicinal") recipes do resonate with me, and I've initiated a lengthy list of things to try when the weather gets warmer and we host some spring garden parties....

For the Mind:
Textbook of Ayurveda: Fundamental Principles (Vol. I) | This is also a "for the body" book for sure, but the depth of Dr. Lad's knowledge fills my cerebral space to the brim with every page. I was recommended this book by my ayurvedic practitioner, Vijaya Stallings who was also my ayurvedic instructor at the time. Dr. Lad has such a tangible grasp of ayurveda that is perfect to implement into clinical (and personal) practice. As with any topic that is so in depth, I'm usually having to read everything twice...or three times to really get it all to sink in. And then come back to it later, too. 

Tao & Dharma : Chinese Medicine & Ayurveda | So basically anything by Robert Svoboda has my attention. I really love his works on Ayurveda and have several of his books in my handy arsenal of resources. But Chinese medicine is totally mysterious to me. I work with Western herbs 90% of the time, and the concepts, theories and practice of Chinese medicine is a discipline I have not dived into. I'm really loving how this book bends the two disciplines, and it's not to advanced that I can't understand the focus on Chinese herbs. It also pulls at my heart strings when two experts blend together their practices to make it work in tandem. Medicine should do that more often...

For the Soul:
Space Trilogy: Out of the Silent Planet | I'm really trying on this one. Once Harry Potter ended, I was so desperate to fill the void I was grabbing anything in my house that I hadn't already read, and this was about the only thing I had left. I'll be honest - it's a struggle getting into this one, but I'm going to power through. I'm feeling so distracted every time i pick it up, like it's just not hooking me into the epic adventure that it actually is. But maybe I'm just not devoting the time and head space that it needs. Regardless though, I need some extra subconscious adventure happening in the background and suggestions are welcome! 

Herbal medicine and nutrition is my expertise. Understanding plants, their properties, and their powers is my passion.


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