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Friday, July 07, 2017

Is there anything more refreshing than early morning CCF tea sipping in oversized linen shirts with the first glimpse of warm sun rays on your face? July brings mornings when I love waking up before 6am to soak in these precious hours. We open up all the windows wide and start the fans blowing to cut the humidity that built up over night and absorb the early morning bird chirps that flood the neighborhood. During this month too...the oppressive southern humidity starts to settle in, the heat melts onto my skin and the garden is heavy with fresh, heavy, nutrient abundant veggies. Everything just feels thick and laden right now, and anything to take the edge off is most welcome. This time of year, my appetite really shifts into a scant reflection of what is once was six months ago, and I find myself craving more raw fresh fruits and veggies (which is not really great for my vata digestive tract on the regular...) and over the years I've found that the perfect solution to this predictable seasonal shift in digestion is incorporating CCF tea into my daily rotation. 

CCF Tea (Cumin, Coriander, Fennel), is a traditional Ayurvedic tea to support digestion and works as a tonic herbal support for any type of digestive seasonal shift. I find that when my diet shifts towards more raw foods (which are generally harder for the body to digest), my vata constitution has a harder time processing these foods. The combination of cumin, coriander and fennel naturally helps to ignite agni (digestive fire) to break down foods more efficiently and has the added benefit of enhancing absorption of nutrients as well. Coriander has the subtle ability to expel heat, cooling over heated (or excess) areas of the body. Cumin is a more warming and stimulating spice that aids in the absorption of nutrients and promotes detoxification, while fennel is a cooling, gentle carminative in the gut, helping to soothe and calm the lower digestive tract.  This seedy combination of herbs is relatively energetically neutral (not too cool, not too warm) and is truly ideal for almost all Ayurvedic constitutions to consume during any season. During the summer months, I often make a fresh batch in the morning and let it cool for about an hour before I pack it up in a mason jar and take it along with me for the day. 

This month, I've also been craving more minerals (and I've been so thirsty!!), so I've added in a bit of nettles to my CCF tea batch to quench my mineral lusting thirst and it works like a charm. Nettle is jam packed with nutrients and minerals including magnesium, potassium and tannins along with high amounts of zinc, calcium and chromium. It's a beautiful anti-inflammatory as well and I clearly love this herb like no other because it's been added to so many other monthly steeps I've made this year. 

When I prepare my CCF tea, I almost always use equal parts of all herbs, and I also keep a steady supply of Banyan Botanicals CCF Tea on hand as well. Nettle I'm harvesting locally if it's in season, and otherwise I keep lots on hand from  Mountain Rose Herbs who harvest their nettle domestically in the US. 

CCF Tea + Nettle

1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
1/2 tsp Coriander Seeds
1/2 tsp Fennel seeds
1/2 tsp dried Nettle leaf
Serves 1

Mix all ingredients together and add to a tea steeper or to the bottom of a glass container. Cover with 2 cups hot water and let steep 12 minutes. Strain and sip before or after meals to promote healthy digestion, or strain and let cool to pack away with you for the day. 

 

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Developing and tending to our little urban garden has been kind of our homeowner obsession since the day we moved into our 1929 brick four square almost exactly four years ago. We've made barely any structural or major updates to the interior of our house (although we continue to dream of a kitchen big enough that we can both actually cook in it at the same time...), but our backyard garden has been in constant shapeshifting mode since day one. We made space for a large organic garden and two large raised beds immediately after moving in, and this year is the first year we really went all in and landscaped/hardscaped the the bejesus out of it. Greg and I both have undergraduate degrees in landscape design and horticulture (respectively), so we totally know what to do and how to do it...we just had to make a plan that reflected what we both wanted, while allowing each of us some creative flexibility in terms of our tastes. He likes the symmetrical, straight line well tended shade garden. I like the wild and weedy english country garden vibe. 

C'est la vie.  

Above all, we like working together and making new things, especially in the garden. We love gardening. We love eating lots of veggies. We like sharing lots of veggies. We like having a big crazy garden that we can escape to at the end of the day - it's our garden therapy. Gromit also likes chasing rabbits, trying to catch the neighboring honey bees (unsuccessfully) and jamming her face in the open morning squash blossoms. Even in a city, we make time and space for creating a living habitat that nourishes us (and our fur creatures) - body and soul. 

Rainbow chard, grown from seed (our favorite green!!). We purchased almost all of our seeds this year from High Mowing Organic Seeds

Newly planed red cedar raised beds that Greg salvaged from a job and planed in the backyard. They're absolutely beautiful, and red cedar lasts forever. This cozy bed houses our climbing cucumber plants, some squashes & zucchini's. 

     

Let's just give compost a minute to shine while we're here. Our garden would be nothing without good compost, and we devote an unapologetically large amount of time to making sure we've got good stuff going in all the time. We compost almost everything after meals and meal prep (except meats) and even bring home extra compost from the juice bar at Ellwood Thompsons. We dumpster dived a large barrel a year ago, cleaned it out, painted it black and turned it into a rotating composter that just eats compost. It's SO HAPPY. We add to it daily and give it a good spin. Egg shells, greens, fruits, leftovers in the fridge, flowers that are past their prime....we compost almost everything. This years compost will be going in the garden for next year, and so on and so on. I'm a firm believer that how we tend our garden soil is reflective in how we tend to our gut microbiome (and you can read my previous post about that here). 

We tried our hand at laying stone for a walkway from the shade garden into the veggie garden and it turned out pretty freakin' awesome. (Props goes to Greg for most of that task.) We surrounded it with yellow creeping jenny and... purple succulently plants that we can't for the life of us remember their name ...

First rhubarb harvest - pickled and saved for this delicious post!

Spaghetti Squash...April to June

     

Dill & Snap Peas!

Yellow Squash and Rainbow Chard in Late May

     

Beets for days....Beet greens are one of our favorites too! Sautéed up in lots of garlic, olive oil, and extra fresh dill. 

Cucumber hide and seek :)

#myotherhouseisagreenhouse Look at those tomatoes! ALSO - you can't see it but Greg installed an underground irrigation system (!!). There are 5 zones, covering the entire large tomato/beet/blueberry/basil bed (below) and the 2 raised beds for the chard, squashes, cucumbers, zucchini's, and green onions. He was on a roll, and installed an irrigation system for all the potted plants we have on the front porch too (that man literally can't sit still). This may sound like an extravagance (and...it kinda is), but in our case it's a total necessity. We're in Richmond, VA. The mosquitoes have been SO BAD the last 2 years we basically had to abandon our garden mid season because we couldn't stay outside long enough to water it. Never again. 

Gromit has a new food obsession: snap peas. A+ for dog treats. 

Along this side of the garden (deemed "Lindsay's side") will eventually grow up to be the wildflower and herb garden. We have a neighboring bee colony so I wanted to plant loads of pollinator plants to keep the bees extra happy. I packed it with yarrow, sunflowers, echinacea, Russian sage, joe pye weed, bee balm, ornamental sage, Black Eyed Susan's, St. Johns Wort, a new little fig tree and our rhubarb patch. 

And it begins....

Happy Summer Solstice, ya'll. I'll be continually adding organic gardening posts throughout year - if you have questions or things you'd like to learn more about, leave them below and I'll be sure to touch on them in future posts!

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Summer is abundance, with gardens overflowing, vegetables and fruits cascading out of their nutrient rich beds and flowers emerging in all their glory. Everything seems to come in waves in my garden - the squashes and beets and rhubarb and chard all ready to be part of my summer meals all at once. Not being one to waste even a single rhubarb stem, the only way I can seem to manage this onslaught of seasonal abundance is to quickly pickle and save the ripeness and sweetness of these summer veggies and enjoy them later in the season. June is the summer solstice, and what better way to celebrate than with a June Pickled Picnic featuring rhubarb and beets from earlier in the season! Get the recipes for my pickled rhubarb and pickled beets + how I set my summer picnic spreads on the Suite one Studio blog....

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

I just arrived back home this week from another amazingly awesome Medicine's from the Earth conference in Black Mountain, NC and I'm still feeling the buzz of energy I always seem to absorb while I'm there. This was my fourth year attending this magical conference, and I'm always so jazzed by the time I leave I want to learn more about every. single. thing. It often feels like there's an endless stream of new things to learn about herbal medicine and therapeutic nutrition - I love that about this field. No matter how much I think I know, I'm blown away by how much more there is to learn and share. One of my favorite things about herbal medicine is learning from so many different teachers with different backgrounds... perspectives and experiences with herbs vary so much and it further reinforces that there is no one right way to do anything, but a collective wisdom that is shared from practitioner to person that is equally effective even with no single protocol. The flexibility and creativity of herbs and nutrition is endless - and I love that. 

Since returning home, the past week has been a busy one indeed, but what was most jarring was how much the garden has exploded with beets, chard, cucumbers, basil and squashes and it's only just getting started. June is the month of beginning summer abundance from our garden. Also, we finally starting hitting some 90 degree afternoons here in Richmond, VA...which I can't way I mind. I kind of like the oppressive heat of summer. But, when in need of a cool down - thank goodness for an excessive supply of cucumbers. These little viney green dudes are my favorite thing to infuse in chilled water with some extra fresh fruits & herbs for a delicious herby/fruity infused "tea" that I sip on all day for weeks. It especially hits the spot when the 99% humidity rolls in around mid July...

These fruit & herb infused teas can work with almost any fruits you have on hand throughout the seasons (including peaches, pineapple, pears, apples, grapes, raspberries, blackberries, limes, hibiscus, kiwis etc). Just add a bunch and see how you like it! The cucumbers really give it a cooling undertone, and adding in fresh or dried herbs like lavender and orange peel is another delicious addition (I use dried herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs and absolutely love them). Experiment with each season and Sip Consciously...

Fruit & Herb Infusions

Cucumbers
Blueberries
Lemon
Strawberries
Fresh Basil
Grapefruit
Lavender Flowers
Orange Peel (fresh or dried)
Fresh Sage
Filtered Water or Sparkling Water

Strawberry Basil - In a large wide mouth mason jar, add 10 thin cucumber slices, 4 sliced strawberries and 5-6 fresh basil leaves. Cover with filtered or sparkling water and stir / smash well. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. 

Blueberry Lemon - In a large wide mouth mason jar, add 10 thin cucumber slices, 1/4 cup blueberries and 1/2 lemon (sliced and squeezed including the juice). Cover with filtered or sparkling water and stir / smash well. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. 

Lavender Grapefruit - In a large wide mouth mason jar, add 10 thin cucumber slices, 1/2 grapefruit (in chunks and squeezed, including the juice), 1 tsp lavender flowers, 1 tsp dried or fresh orange peel, and 4-5 fresh sage leaves. Cover with filtered or sparkling water and stir / smash well. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. 

When ready to drink, pour through a strainer, smashing all the juice out. Drink chilled with extra lemon if desired. 

 

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Fresh from the garden this morning: yellow squash, zucchini, beets + beet greens. Saturday mornings in spring are best spent with a bit of time roaming the garden, seeing what's brand new, eyeing it all lovingly/hungrily while sipping coffee and brainstorming breakfast. We planted our garden a little early this year (we were impatient and eager...) so lots of things are growing in already all at once. I get unspeakably happy when I gaze out the porch door everyday and see the squash climbing a little higher...the chard getting more lush and colorful...and the tomatoes bursting out of their frail little cages. We can't bear to waste anything, so harvesting and throwing as many veggies in every single meal is most welcome. This morning, I was craving a fresh garden veggie frittata, and the garden was bountiful and generous to oblige. 

Beets and beet greens are probably my absolute favorite garden veggie. I love them. Everything about them. And I especially love how they turn everything a sweet shade of pink. They contain almost every nutrient I crave (and need), including vitamin C, folate, magnesium and a bit of iron. They're also one of the best vegetables to support liver detoxification (especially phase-2 liver detox) and are jam packed with antioxidants. Also, they're naturally sweet and make a great roasted "chip" for this potato intolerant girl. So we planted something like 100+ beets in the garden this year. And I'm sure we'll go through every single one. 



This frittata recipe is extremely generous and welcoming to pretty much any veggies you have in your fridge and is perfect to batch cook on a Sunday to enjoy for the entire week. Optional add in's include mushrooms, red peppers, broccoli, scallions, chives, spinach, and cauliflower. Make sure to wash all fresh veggies well and pat dry slightly . 

Garden Veggie Frittata + Sautéed Beet Greens

10 eggs
4 small beets cubed and peeled
1 small yellow squash, cubed
1 medium zucchini, cubed
1/2 cup coarsely chopped red onion
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tbsp fresh dill
1 tbsp ghee
pepper, salt, garlic powder to taste
2 heaping cups beet greens, coarsely chopped
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp olive oil
Serves 8

For the Frittata:

Pre-heat oven to 425F. Rinse the beets well, chop off the greens and peel. In a large skillet, heat the ghee and add the cubed and peeled beets. Sauté on medium heat, covered, until just tender (about 10 minutes). Add the cubed squash and zucchini and onion. Mix and saute for another 5-7 minutes, covered, until the squash is just tender. Remove from heat and add to a deep dish pie pan or cast iron skillet. In a separate bowl, add the 10 eggs, nutritional yeast dill, pepper, salt and garlic powder. Whisk with a hand mixer until richly yellow and thick, about 60 seconds. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables in the pie pan. Place on the center oven rack and let cook for 25-27 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool 10 minutes before serving. 

For the Beet Greens:

Coarsely chop about 2 cups of beet greens. In the same skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive oil then add the beet greens, turmeric, garlic and sauté on medium heat, covered, for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and serve immediately alongside the frittata. 

 

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

"Nature is our home, and in nature we are at home. This strange, multicolored and astonishing world that we explore - where space is granular, time does not exist, and things are nowhere - is not something that estranges us from our true selves, for this is only what our natural curiosity reveals to us about the place of our dwelling. About the stuff of which we ourselves are made. We are made of the same stardust of which all things are made, and when we are immersed in suffering, or when we are experiencing intense joy, we are being nothing other than what we can't help but be: a part of our world...." -- Carlo Rovelli

I've been tearing through some books and podcasts recently. It may be the wooing of my front porch swing or the hours and hours spent on long road trips that allow for more time to read for pleasure and zone into a podcast series more intensely. In any case - it's most welcome. For the past several months, almost ALL of the books and podcasts absorbed into my brain have been recommendations from friends and colleagues that did not disappoint. I've been really drawn to science meets intuitive wisdom lately and reading anything I can get my hands on to this extent. 

Books  ------

Braiding Sweetgrass - a gift from my Aunt this past holiday, and a lovely reminder of our connection to our ancestry, our traditions, our connection with the earths seasonal gifts, and our ability (and responsibility) to share life's pleasures and nature's bounty.

The Hidden Life of Trees - to quench my desire to get to know my towering, leafy friends on a more personal level. 

Harvest - if you have a garden, you must read this book! Not only is it strikingly beautiful (those photos!), but the recipes it provides for dozens of garden and backyard treasures are so fun! I want to make every single thing in this book - especially the pickled rhubarb and the herbed salts. 

Medicinal Plants of the Southern Appalachians - I'm planning a private retreat in June to the Virginia mountains of Appalachia to do a weekend herb walk and medicine making workshop with some of my friends and colleagues (you can read about last year's dry run here). Appalachia is SO FULL of traditional folk medicine with a rich history of herbal use, although so little of this knowledge is in written form. It's a verbal tradition, passed from generation to generation. But for some preliminary reading (and to brush up a bit myself), I'm re-reading this tried and true classic, filled with dozens of Appalachian herbs, their use and medicine making tips. 

7 Brief Lessons on Physics - a sweet find from listening to the On Being podcast with guest Carlo Rovelli. His interview is one of my favorites in that podcast series, and his little pocket sized book is a much needed reminder of the wonders and complexities all around us (and the basics of physics I've forgotten over the years...)

Podcasts ------

On Being - with every free moment I'm listening to Krista Tippet's interviews in this beautiful podcast. Her guests have really opened my eyes to new ways of thinking and perspectives I've never considered on everything from poetry to physics to music to religion. Definitely worth a listen. 

Invisibilia - all about the invisible forces that control human behavior and it's mind blowing

Stuff You Should Know - what to know more about __________? They've got it on this podcast. Applicable to all the gardeners right now : How Composing Works

Revisionist History - this was a frequent go-to on a recent road trip I took to New Orleans, and if you're a history junkie like me, it's an interesting perspective on the little bits of history we may not think twice about - but dives deep into the long forgotten details of those seemingly insignificant historical characters and their bigger impact on the world today. 

What are some of the books and podcasts that you've been loving lately? I'm on the hunt for upcoming summer reads and podcasts for upcoming road trips and travels! Share yours below...

Photo by Renee Byrd

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HELLO, I'M LINDSAY.
Herbal medicine and nutrition is my expertise. Understanding plants, their properties, and their powers is my passion.

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