Why You Might Need More Bitterness

May garden 016

Your mouth probably puckers at the thought of eating something bitter. But according to many experts, including clinical herbalist Guido Masé and integrative physician Tiearona Low Dog, a small dose of bitter can prevent and cure a litany of complaints.

Why do we need bitter foods?

Masé explains that plants developed bitter compounds to stop mammals from eating them. Then mammals developed detoxification systems, i.e. our livers, to deal with the bitter compounds. So bitters are the reason we have a liver, and it doesn’t work right when we don’t eat them.

Masé and Low Dog say ingesting more bitters, particularly before we eat, can:

  • Improve digestion

When there’s no bitter flavor in our food, Masé says we run the risk of poor digestion. “We see fat and cholesterol synthesis problems in the liver. … We see food passing untouched through the digestive system.” He recommends that instead of trying to “restrict, restrict and remove, remove” for concerns like toxicity, chronic inflammation, liver dysfunction, and digestive complaints and sensitivity, we “reincorporate bitterness.” When we activate our taste buds with the bitter flavor before a meal, the pancreas secrets enzymes, the liver secretes bile, and the valves through the compartments of the gastrointestinal tract work better. “As a result, the drama of incomplete digestion is really tempered.”

  • Nix heart burn

The mouth is not the only thing that puckers when we eat bitters. According to Masé, the valve at the bottom of the esophagus also scrunches up, keeping acid in place.

  • Eliminate food allergies and excema in adults and children

“I’ve seen big changes in the skin when we focus on enhancing digestion and restoring the microflora in the gut,” writes Low Dog in her book Healthy at Home. She prescribes children’s bitters for kids with food allergies, to be taken a half an hour or so before dinner.  She also recommends bitters for adults with seasonal and environmental allergies.

  • Curb sugar cravings

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, we shouldn’t seek to eliminate the sweet taste from our diet, but to balance all five tastes. In the same vein, Masé is convinced that ingesting more bitters is the solution to sugar addiction. “Just make sure you get a little bit of bitter every day and you’ll find that your relationship with sugar is a whole lot easier.” He carries a tincture of bitters in his car and takes a little bit before he goes to the grocery store. That way, he insists, it’s easier for him to keep the chips and sweets out of his basket.

5 ways to ingest more bitters:

  • Greens

One of my favorite foods — dandelion — is a bitter, and this is prime time to harvest the leaves. You can learn more about how awesome dandelion is in my (all-time most popular post) Dandelions are Super Foods.

Chicory, arugula, radicchio, escarole, turnip greens, mustard greens, watercress, endive, and other bitter greens also make delicious pre-dinner salads.

  • Teas

Dandelion root, burdock, milk thistle, hops, gentian and other bitter herbs make excellent pre-meal teas.

  • Tinctures

Urban Moonshine, Herb Pharm, and other companies make bitter tinctures and tonics that you can take with a glass of water as a quick before meal ritual.

  • Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate is a delicious way to add some bitterness to your diet, and it was featured in this week’s People’s Pharmacy because of its many other health benefits.

  • Cocktails

Bitters are a common bar ingredient. Look for bitters at your grocery store and learn how to mix up a Manhattan, Rob Roy or Old-fashioned.

Do you like bitter foods and beverages? Have they helped you solve any health issues? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Hopeful Weekend Links

spring days 219

Become a Radical Pragmatist – Alan Webber, Do Lectures

Top 16 TED Talks for Foodists – Darya Rose, Summer Tomato

Guide to Seasonal Living: Spring – Mother Earth News Living

Oregon Moves to Help Disappearing Honey Bees – Jodi Peterson, High Country News

How Finland created the best education system in the world – Christine Gross-Loh, The Atlantic

Cure “plant deficiency syndrome” with the wild medicine solution – Guido Masé, Herb Mentor Radio

Dandelion Season

It’s spring again … the perfect time to rerun this post from last March…

It’s spring, which means some people are stocking up on Round Up and Weed-B-Gon to prepare themselves for battle against my favorite flower – the humble dandelion. If you’re not as big a fan as I am of these yellow-headed “weeds”, which grow in lawns and sunny open spaces throughout the world, I know of a great way to get rid of them. Eat them.

Every part of the dandelion is edible – leaves, roots, and flowers. And they are nutritional power-houses. They’re rich in beta-carotene, fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, B vitamins, and protein.

Over the years, dandelions have been used as cures for countless conditions including:

  • kidney stones
  • acne
  • high blood pressure
  • obesity
  • diarrhea
  • high cholesterol
  • anemia
  • cancer
  • diabetes
  • stomach pain
  • hepatitis

“There is probably no existing condition that would not benefit from regularly consuming dandelions,” Joyce A Wardwell writes in The Herbal Home Remedy Book.

She also says that dandelion is “one herb to allow yourself the full range of freedom to explore,” because it has “no known cautionary drug interactions, cumulative toxic effects, or contraindications for use.”

So why not harvest the dandelions in your yard this spring? And I’m sure your neighbors wouldn’t mind if you uprooted some of theirs too. (But you probably want to avoid harvesting near streets or from lawns where herbicides or fertilizers are used.)

The leaves

Dandelion leaves have more beta-carotene than carrots and more iron and calcium than spinach. The best time to harvest them is early spring, before the flowers appear, because that’s when they’re the least bitter.

How can you eat dandelion leaves?

  • Toss them in salads
  • Steam them
  • Saute them with garlic, onions, and olive oil
  • Infuse them with boiling water to make a tea
  • Dry them to use for tea

The flowers

Dandelion flowers are a rich source of the nutrient lecithin. The best time to harvest them is mid-spring, when they’re usually the most abundant. If you cut off the green base, the flowers aren’t bitter.

How can you eat dandelion flowers?

The roots

Dandelion roots are full of vitamins and minerals. They are also in rich in a substance called inulin, which may help diabetics to regulate blood sugar. Dandelion roots are often used to treat liver disorders. They’re also a safe natural diuretic, because they’re rich in potassium. The best time to harvest dandelion roots is early spring and late fall.

How can you eat dandelion roots?

  • Boil them for 20 minutes to make a tea
  • Chop, dry, and roast them to make a tasty coffee substitute.
  • Add them to soup stock or miso
  • Steam them with other vegetables

As most gardeners know, dandelions are virile (some say pernicious) plants. Why not treat them as allies, rather than enemies, this spring?

Interested in reading more about herbs or home remedies? Check out these posts:

Do you eat dandelions? Do you have a favorite dandelion recipe?

Ten Top Chefs Dish Up Local Cuisine

Travel Oregon is promoting Oregon right now with the Oregon Bounty Wanderfeast:

From the wine crush in Applegate Valley to the chanterelles hiding in the Coast Range to the fish and game that frolic in every nook and cranny of Oregon, ten top chefs will chase after ten of Oregon’s finest epicurean products. It’s ten weeks of foodie bliss, from one end of Oregon to the other.  And you’re invited to come along.

During Week One, a chef visits a farm , milks a cow, picks fruit and herbs, and makes a soft cheese. Week Four features a chef, who harvests heirloom pears near the base of Mount Hood, and prepares a local fish dish with them. And check out Week Five, where my sister brews up a one-of-a-kind “Artisan Spirits” out of juniper, purple thistle, and sage she finds near the Painted Hills of Eastern Oregon.

5 Winter Immunity Boosters

Lemons_b

Most adults catch between two and four colds a year and the average infant or child catches from six to ten colds a year. That means, in our lifetimes, most of us will have a cold or flu for between two and three years. That’s a lot of Kleenex.

The good news is, nature offers us some powerful immune-boosters. You may want to have these on hand this winter.

1. Garlic

Garlic has antibacterial, antibiotic, and antifungal properties. Allicin is garlic’s defense mechanism against pest attacks, and in clinical tests, it also prevents the common cold. In one study, volunteers were randomized to receive a placebo or an allicin-containing garlic supplement every day between November and February. The garlic group reported 24 colds compared to 65 in the placebo group. The volunteers in the garlic group also recovered significantly faster if they did get infected.

You don’t have to buy a supplement. The tastiest way to take garlic is to eat it. Raw is best. But garlic’s active ingredients are also present in cooked food.

2. Lemons

Lemons are loaded with vitamin C. One lemon contains anywhere from 50% to 80% of the vitamin C you need in a day.

And if you do come down with a cold, one study confirmed that hot lemonaid (or another hot fruit beverage) relieves runny nose, cough, sneezing, sore throat, chilliness and tiredness.

3. Elderberry

Elderberry is a popular herbal cold remedy in Europe. It’s getting a lot of press this flu season, because in clinical tests its flavonoids compare favorably with the antiviral Tamiflu in treating the H1N1 flu . You can buy over-the-counter elderberry syrup at most health food stores. Or you can harvest your own elderberries or buy them in the bulk section of your local health food store and make your own syrup. (Recipe below.)

4. Ginger

Ginger increases circulation and brings warmth to the body. It excels at quelling nausea, motion sickness, and dizziness. Many people also insist it can knock out the common cold.

5. Chicken Soup or Miso

Chicken soup and miso are full of vitamins and minerals. At least one study (Chest 2000) confirmed that chicken soup mitigates the symptoms of upper respiratory infections, possibly by reducing inflammation. Plus, the taste, smell, and warmth of these nourishing soups just make us feel good.

Herbalist Rosemary Gladstar recommends adding any or all of the following immunity herbs to the broth for a bigger boost of vitality:

  • Astragalus
  • Dandelion root
  • Burdock root
  • Echinacea root

Here are four of my favorite recipes for the cold and flu season:

garlic

Lemon and Garlic Quinoa Salad

(Adapted from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair.)

Salad

1 c. dry quinoa
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 and 3/4 c. water
1/2 c. chopped carrots
1/3 c. minced parsley
1/4 c. sunflower seeds

Dressing

4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 to 2 tbl. tamari or shoyu

Rinse quinoa and drain. Place rinsed quinoa, salt, and water in a pot. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes until all the water is absorbed. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes uncovered, then fluff with a fork. Place quinoa in a large bowl. Add carrots, parsley, and sunflower seeds. Mix. Combine dressing ingredients and pour over quinoa. Toss. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Hot Ginger Garlic Lemonaid

2 cloves garlic
1 tbs. grated ginger root
Juice of one freshly-squeezed lemon
Honey, to taste
Hot water

Put ginger root in a tea ball or tea bag. Place garlic, lemon juice, honey, and tea ball or bag in your favorite coffee mug. Pour hot water in. Cover and steep. Drink very hot.

Miso

(Very loosely adapted from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair.)

3 inch piece wakame
4 c. water
4 tbs. light or mellow unpasteurized miso.
2 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish

Any or all of the following

1 potato
1 carrot
1/2 c. chopped bok choy
5 sliced shitake mushrooms
1/4 lb. firm tofu, cut into cubes
A handful of immune boosting herbs – astragalus, echinacea root, dandelion root, or burdock root.

Soak wakame in small bowl of cold water for 5 minutes. Put herbs in a large tea ball or bag.

Put water (and potato, carrot, and herbs if using) into a pot and bring to a boil.

Tear wakame into pieces, removing the spine. Add wakame to soup. Lower heat, cover pot, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Near the end of the cooking time, add mushrooms, bok choy, and tofu cubes if using, and let simmer a few minutes more.

Remove soup from stove. Dissolve miso in a little warm water. Remove tea ball or bag. Add miso to broth. Stir well. Ladle into bowl and add scallions for garnish.

Elderberry Syrup

(From Rosemary Gladstar’s Family Herbal.*)

Elderberry

1 c. fresh or 1/2 c. dried blue elderberries*
3 c. water
1 c. honey

Place berries in a pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. Smash berries. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh strainer and add 1 c. honey, or adjust to taste. Bottle the syrup and store in the refrigerator. It keeps for 2 to 3 months.

*Make sure you use blue elderberries, not red ones. Never eat elderberries that have not been cooked first.

(We got hit with a winter ailment this week, so I thought it was the perfect time to update Stay Well: 5 Winter Immunity Boosters and Winter Wellness Recipes, originally posted in November 2009.)

What are your tricks to staying well when the weather gets colder?

Do-It-Yourself Health Care

My family has watched our health insurance deductible go from $100 per person two years ago to $1500 per person this year. We pay more out-of -pocket each month and get less coverage than we used to. I know we’re not alone. Forty-six million Americans have no health insurance at all, and at least 25 million more are reportedly underinsured.

The reality is that for many of us in the U.S., going to the doctor is something we can increasingly do only when absolutely necessary. That makes having a knowledge of common illnesses and effective home remedies a necessity.

Of course, serious ailments are best left to the professionals – heart attacks, bone breaks, and strokes to name a few. But the good news is – for most minor ailments, home care is usually gentler, less toxic, and as effective as the treatments a doctor would prescribe. I’m continuously amazed at the body’s ability to stay healthy with the basics – clean water, healthy food, adequate rest, time outdoors, etc. – and to heal itself with the help of simple, inexpensive treatments.

I have stacks of books about diagnosing and treating common conditions and using medicinal herbs, which I flip through often. (Recently I’ve been using Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child by Janet Zand quite a bit.) But I have a secret resource that’s better than all of my books combined – my mom. She’s an almanac of everyday ailments and simple treatments, and I’ve learned so much from her, especially about being curious and resourceful.

Recently I had the opportunity to discover (or rediscover) these simple, effective remedies:

  • Pink eye (infection of the membrane lining the eyelids) – Hold hot compress on eye for 15-20 minutes several times a day. Wipe contact lens solution on affected eyelid.
  • Wasp stings – Apply a paste of baking soda and water.
  • Joint pain or arthritis – Take Yucca root extract and/or fish oil.
  • Wounds - Soak in salt water.
  • Bruises – Treat with a witch hazel or caster oil compress
  • Burns – Soak in ice cold water, then in soy sauce.
  • Veterinary careAnimal Apawthecary tinctures. (I’ve given these to our cats for various ailments over the years and found them to be amazingly effective and safe. In many cases, they worked better than the drugs our vet prescribed, with none of the side effects.)

I hope health care becomes more accessible and affordable for all Americans soon. But even if it does, I’ll use home remedies – because they work.

Looking for more on do-it-yourself health care? Check out these posts:

Have you discovered home remedies that are safe and effective? I’d love to hear about them.

Simplify Your Medicine Cabinet

So maybe you read this post and simplified your personal care? Now how about your medicine cabinet?

The other day I realized that I haven’t taken any kind of medication in three years, because I was pregnant and then breastfeeding. I’ve had a few mild illnesses during that time. But I was able to treat all of them with simple home remedies.

I like treatments that are safe, effective, and require ingredients that most of us already have in or around our homes. (Of course, this probably goes without saying, but it’s usually wise to talk to a health care provider about more serious ailments or symptoms that don’t improve with home care.)

Here are a few of my favorite simple remedies:

Sore Throat or Gums

  • Mix a cup of warm water with a teaspoon of salt, and gargle and swish it around your mouth
  • Mix 3/4 cup warm water with 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide and gargle and swish it around your mouth.

Nasal or Chest Congestion

  • Use a Neti Pot. Never heard of one? You can find out where to get one and how to use it here.
  • Do an herbal steam. Boil a large pot of water with a handful of Eucalyptus, Thyme, or Rosemary Leaf, or all three. Pour the water into a bowl, and put it on a table. Sit with your face about a foot away from the water and drape a towel over your head. Relax and breathe for about 10 to 15 minutes.

The Common Cold or Influenza

  • Drink Hot Ginger Garlic Lemonade.
  • Take Elderberry Syrup.
  • Go out in the sun, if possible. (If it’s not sunny, you might try taking a Vitamin D supplement. You can read more about the connection between Vitamin D and colds and flu here.)

Nausea

  • Sip on Ginger Root Tea.
  • Sip on Peppermint Tea.
  • Stimulate the acupressure point on the inside of your wrist. You can learn how to do that here.

Bug Bites or Bee Stings

  • Make a poultice of Plantain Leaf. (Plantain is a common weed that’s probably growing in your lawn or somewhere nearby. You can find out more about it and how to identify it here.)
  • Apply Aloe Vera Gel.

Muscle Aches or Joint Pain

  • Apply St. John’s Wort Oil.
  • Apply Arnica Oil. (Both St. John’s Wort Oil and Arnica Oil can be found in the health and beauty section of most health food stores, often in combination.)
  • Cook with Turmeric

Acne

  • Mix Turmeric with Honey and apply to outbreak overnight (will temporarily stain the skin yellow).
  • Cook with Turmeric.
  • Drink Dandelion Leaf or Root Tea .

Teething

  • Give baby a cup of Catnip Tea.
  • Let baby chew on a frozen carrot or refrigerated apple.

I’ve always been fascinated by the ways we can stay healthy and treat everyday illnesses at home, and I’ve collected a number of references on herbs and other remedies over the years. A few of my favorites are:

  • Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child by Zand, Walton, and Rountree
  • Rosemary Gladstar’s Family Herbal.
  • Folk Remedies That Work by Joan and Lydia Wilen

What’s your favorite home remedy?

Dandelions are Super Foods

dandelion

It’s almost spring, which means some people are stocking up on Round Up and Weed-B-Gon to prepare themselves for battle against my favorite flower – the humble dandelion. If you’re not as big a fan as I am of these yellow-headed “weeds”, which grow in lawns and sunny open spaces throughout the world, I know of a great way to get rid of them. Eat them.

Every part of the dandelion is edible – leaves, roots, and flowers. And they are nutritional power-houses. They’re rich in beta-carotene, fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, B vitamins, and protein.

Over the years, dandelions have been used as cures for countless conditions including:

  • kidney stones
  • acne
  • high blood pressure
  • obesity
  • diarrhea
  • high cholesterol
  • anemia
  • cancer
  • diabetes
  • stomach pain
  • hepatitis

“There is probably no existing condition that would not benefit from regularly consuming dandelions,” Joyce A Wardwell writes in The Herbal Home Remedy Book.

She also says that dandelion is “one herb to allow yourself the full range of freedom to explore,” because it has “no known cautionary drug interactions, cumulative toxic effects, or contraindications for use.”

So why not harvest the dandelions in your yard this spring? And I’m sure your neighbors wouldn’t mind if you uprooted some of theirs too. (But you probably want to avoid harvesting near streets or from lawns where herbicides or fertilizers are used.)

The leaves

Dandelion leaves have more beta-carotene than carrots and more iron and calcium than spinach. The best time to harvest them is early spring, before the flowers appear, because that’s when they’re the least bitter.

How can you eat dandelion leaves?

  • Toss them in salads
  • Steam them
  • Saute them with garlic, onions, and olive oil
  • Infuse them with boiling water to make a tea
  • Dry them to use for tea

The flowers

Dandelion flowers are a rich source of the nutrient lecithin. The best time to harvest them is mid-spring, when they’re usually the most abundant. If you cut off the green base, the flowers aren’t bitter.

How can you eat dandelion flowers?

The roots

Dandelion roots are full of vitamins and minerals. They are also in rich in a substance called inulin, which may help diabetics to regulate blood sugar. Dandelion roots are often used to treat liver disorders. They’re also a safe natural diuretic, because they’re rich in potassium. The best time to harvest dandelion roots is early spring and late fall.

How can you eat dandelion roots?

  • Boil them for 20 minutes to make a tea
  • Chop, dry, and roast them to make a tasty coffee substitute.
  • Add them to soup stock or miso
  • Steam them with other vegetables

As most gardeners know, dandelions are virile (some say pernicious) plants. Why not treat them as allies, rather than enemies, this spring?

Do you eat dandelions? Do you have a favorite dandelion recipe?

Simplify Your Personal Care

Do you have cleansers, creams, lotions, serums, sprays, perfumes, deodorants, and cosmetics packed in your bathroom drawers and cabinets? If so, you’re not alone. A 2004 Environmental Working Group (EWG) survey found that the average adult uses nine personal care products, containing 126 unique chemical ingredients, each day.

These products are expensive. More alarmingly, according to the EWG, many of them contain toxic substances like mercury, lead, pthalates, parabens, and petroleum byproducts.

But the best reason to ditch them? The vast majority are completely unnecessary.

That might sound crazy. Millions of advertising dollars are spent convincing us we need an arsenal of products to maintain proper hygiene and make us look younger and more attractive.

However, in the last five years, I’ve pared down and sought out pure, natural alternatives. And I’ve been shocked to discover that in almost every case, the simple non-toxic replacements work better. And trust me, you don’t have to be a chemist to make these.

Here are some easy substitutions to try if you’d like to simplify your personal care:

  • Instead of under-arm deodorant

Try brushing on:

1/2 cup baking soda mixed with 1/2 cup corn starch

Or for a product closer to what you buy in the store, mix the baking soda, corn starch mixture with coconut oil and a few drops of essential oil, and put it in a recycled deodorant dispenser. (Coconut oil melts at 76 degrees. So in the summer, you’ll want to keep it in the refrigerator.)

  • Instead of mouthwash

Try gargling with hydrogen peroxide. (Bonus: it whitens your teeth.)

Or a salt water solution.

Or a mint herbal infusion. (Steep 1 oz. dried herb in 4 cups boiling water. Refrigerate. Lasts several days.)

  • Instead of shampoo and conditioner

Try using baking soda and apple cider vinegar. This combination works much better than the most expensive natural shampoos and conditioners I used to buy. I wrote about it here.

  • Instead of dandruff shampoo

Try an infusion or decoction of aloe, burdock, cloves, lemongrass, nettle leaf and root, peppermint, rosemary, or willow.

(You can read more about natural herbal hair rinses in this Herb Companion article. It includes more herbs to try for dandruff, as well as herbs for dry scalp and oily scalp issues, and a how-to for making infusions, decoctions, and vinegar extracts.)

  • Instead of hair dye

Try henna.

Or to darken hair, try a sage infusion.

Or to lighten hair, try a chamomile or calendula infusion.

(You can read more about natural hair dyes in this Mother Earth News article.)

  • Instead of lotion

Try olive, almond, or coconut oil.

(Tip: It’s usually cheaper to buy oils in the food section of the grocery store than in the health and beauty section.)

  • Instead of facial moisturizer

Try jojoba oil.

Or aloe vera.

  • Instead of facial cleanser

Try castile soap.

Or a mixture of castor oil and jojoba or olive oil. You can find information about the oil cleansing method here.

Or Rosemary Gladstar’s “miracle grains”:

  • 1 Cup finely ground Oats
  • 2 Cups White Clay
  • 1/4 Cup finely ground Almonds
  • 1/8 Cup finely ground Lavender
  • 1/8 Cup finely ground Roses

I haven’t sworn off all store-bought personal care products. But when I buy them, I look for a short list of ingredients that I’m familiar with. For example, the Badger Nutmeg and Shea body moisturizer my friend gave me for my birthday contains Organic Shea butter, Beeswax, Castor oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Nutmeg, Seabuckthorn berry, Rosehip, and Rosemary. Those are the kinds of ingredients I look for.

Do you have a favorite personal-care recipe? Have you discovered a simple, non-toxic alternative that works?

Winter Wellness Recipes

If you read Stay Well: 5 Winter Immunity Boosters and stocked up on garlic, lemons, ginger, elderberry, and miso, you might be looking for some recipes. Here are 4 of my favorites for the cold and flu season.

garlic

Lemon and Garlic Quinoa Salad

(Adapted from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair.)

Salad

1 c. dry quinoa
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 and 3/4 c. water
1/2 c. chopped carrots
1/3 c. minced parsley
1/4 c. sunflower seeds

Dressing

4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 to 2 tbl. tamari or shoyu

Rinse quinoa and drain. Place rinsed quinoa, salt, and water in a pot. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes until all the water is absorbed. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes uncovered, then fluff with a fork. Place quinoa in a large bowl. Add carrots, parsley, and sunflower seeds. Mix. Combine dressing ingredients and pour over quinoa. Toss. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Hot Ginger Garlic Lemonaid

2 cloves garlic
1 tbs. grated ginger root
Juice of one freshly-squeezed lemon
Honey, to taste
Hot water

Put ginger root in a tea ball or tea bag. Place garlic, lemon juice, honey, and tea ball or bag in your favorite coffee mug. Pour hot water in. Cover and steep. Drink very hot.

Miso

(Very loosely adapted from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair.)

3 inch piece wakame
4 c. water
4 tbs. light or mellow unpasteurized miso.
2 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish

Any or all of the following

1 potato
1 carrot
1/2 c. chopped bok choy
5 sliced shitake mushrooms
1/4 lb. firm tofu, cut into cubes
A handful of immune boosting herbs – astragalus, echinacea root, dandelion root, or burdock root.

Soak wakame in small bowl of cold water for 5 minutes. Put herbs in a large tea ball or bag.

Put water (and potato, carrot, and herbs if using) into a pot and bring to a boil.

Tear wakame into pieces, removing the spine. Add wakame to soup. Lower heat, cover pot, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Near the end of the cooking time, add mushrooms, bok choy, and tofu cubes if using, and let simmer a few minutes more.

Remove soup from stove. Dissolve miso in a little warm water. Remove tea ball or bag. Add miso to broth. Stir well. Ladle into bowl and add scallions for garnish.

Elderberry Syrup

(From Rosemary Gladstar’s Family Herbal.*)

Elderberry

1 c. fresh or 1/2 c. dried blue elderberries*
3 c. water
1 c. honey

Place berries in a pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. Smash berries. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh strainer and add 1 c. honey, or adjust to taste. Bottle the syrup and store in the refrigerator. It keeps for 2 to 3 months.

*Make sure you use blue elderberries, not red ones. Never eat elderberries that have not been cooked first.