Tuesday, January 12, 2016

"To follow our bliss and dive deeply into the mysteries of fragrance, color and taste; blend with the magnificent diversity of mother nature; and follow the inner signs to become aware of who we really are  - is the Alchemy of Ayurvedic Cookery"  - - Prana Gogia

Broths are one of my absolute favorite things about winter. To me, there's really not much difference between sipping on a tea and sipping on a broth. Both extract nourishing water soluble medicinals out of food or herbs, making a nutrient dense, mineral packed tonic liquid to support the body in the trying, cold months of winter. January is all about supporting the immune system for the coming year when colds and bugs are rampant, and this golden immune broth is so lovely to drink throughout the day, or in mid-afternoon for some sunshine-like energy. Golden turmeric, fresh shiitake mushrooms, anti-viral garlic, and richly immune supporting astragalus along with himalayan pink salt and some sweet yellow onions make for a delicious, deeply nourishing winter broth.

Turmeric (Curcuma long) has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. It is finally having a much deserved revival as a "modern" medicine with the adaptations and variations of Golden Turmeric Milk, a tonic whole body elixir that is absolutely delicious and also whole body supporting.  Turmeric is one of the foundational preventive and healing foods in Ayurvedic nutrition and is considered Tridoshic (ideal for all body types to consume). It is pungent, mildly spicy and a little bitter with a vibrant orange color. As a food, herb and spice, it's profoundly powerful in how much is can address physiologically in even small doses, and much of it's power comes from it's Curcuminoid content - one of the many medicinal constituents found within Turmeric, and the coolest one my opinion. Curcuminoids bind to LOTS of things in the body, and for the liver specifically (a major immune site in the body), it is a hepatoprotective (liver protector) and helps to gently but effectively just dump toxic bile and protect the liver from damage, overall supporting the immune system. (Stay tuned, for more to come on Turmeric later this year!)

Along with the robustly flavored and nutrient dense Shiitake mushroom + anti-viral properties of raw garlic + deep immune supporting Astragalus, this broth is one of my go-to's for deep nourishment, and body alignment. It's also one of my preferred nutrients for when I'm not feeling well, or have lost my appetite from illness. The practice and ritual of cooking and preparing broth in many ways helps us to refine our relationship with food, and feel richly nourished by consuming foods that are literally glowing with health benefits. 

Golden Immune Broth

5oz fresh shiitake mushrooms

 3 oz yellow onion, chopped

 5 cloves garlic, chopped

 4 slices Astragalus (about 5grams)

 4 small, fresh sage leaves

 1 teaspoon ground turmeric

 1/2 teaspoon pink himalayan salt

 6 cups cold, filtered water
Makes 5 cups

Combine all ingredients in a large sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook for 30 minutes, covered with a tight fitting lid. Strain out all ingredients and drink warm, or store in mason jars for up to 1 week in the refrigerator. This also makes a GREAT broth for cooking grains, enhancing the flavor and adding a vibrant turmeric orange color.  


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Tuesday, November 03, 2015

One of my autumn and winter staples is obviously herbal tea (all day, every day), and one of my other rooted passions is of course nutrition. Several years ago, I started drinking broths when my digestion was just not functioning well, and have since developed a fondness (and seasonal desire) for the nutrient rich combinations of vegetables and herbs. When the weather gets cooler, I have this tendency to want to graze and eat all day as my appetite increases for satiating and nourishing foods, whilst my digestive tract isn't always pleased with this pesky intake of all-day foods. But, since the addition of broths to my seasonal diet, this seems to wondrously solve the issue of grazing while also providing nutrients, satiating flavors, a sense of fullness, and medicinal benefits all at once. 

Broth, meet herbal tea. 

What is the difference exactly between a broth and a tea? It's all a hot water extraction of water soluble nutrients from plant based (or meat based) foods. By simmering or boiling vegetables and herbs in water, the water soluble nutrients and minerals (sometimes hundreds of constituents as well) are extracted from the plant matter into the water, leading to a nutritious, flavorful and often medicinal beverage. Although broths are not as nutritious as eating the entire vegetable, they're usually significantly easier to digest if the digestive system is compromised. Vegetable broth + the addition of medicinal herbs make for a delicious adjunct to your daily nutrition routine, and can be sipped throughout the day just like a tea, but with a heartier and more substantial flavor. 

Kale, Collards and Dandelion - These super nutrient rich greens offer a full array of vitamins and minerals including all of the B vitamins, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, sodium, zinc and the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E & K. Kale also contributes almost every single individual amino acid (the building blocks of proteins) in a small amount. Collard greens (one of my all time favorite vegetables) play a significant role in phase 1 and phase 2 detoxification of the liver, while also being a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory (from is Omega-3 content in the form of Alpha-Lineoleic Acid).And Dandelion (a weed to some, an herb to many, and a food to most cultures) is jam packed full of vitamins and minerals that also acts as a diuretic and kidney supportive tonic. 

Can we extract all of these nutrients and minerals into a broth? Not quite, because water is not the universal extractor, but we can get a good amount nonetheless. I often make a pot of broth every other day or so, and sip on them when the weather gets colder and it warms me from the inside out. It prevents me from snacking all day, as it fills my stomach and keeps me satisfied for a lengthy amount of time. The flavor can be doctored with various medicinal herbs, and I love to use rosemary and sage with this recipe for their aromatic and sweet personalties (which offset the mild bitter of the greens). Ghee also gives the broth an extra moistening therapeutic value, while the optional parmesan rind makes the broth develop a deeper, more satiating flavor. 

Deep Greens Broth

1 cup kale, coarsely chopped

 1/2 cup dandelion greens, coarsely chopped

 1/2 cup collard greens, coarsely chopped

 1/2 fennel bulb, coarsely chopped

 1 tbsp fresh rosemary

 1 tsp dried sage

 1 tbsp ghee

 1/2 tsp himalayan pink salt

 2 inch parmesan rind (optional)

 6 cups (1.5L) filtered water

Combine all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes with a tight fitting lid. Once complete, remove from heat and strain into individual containers or a large bowl to let cool. Store in the refrigerator up to 2 days. 


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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

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

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


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