Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Minty Magic!


Last but not least, is Mint!  There are many different varieties of mint, but peppermint is one of my favorites.  Mint is so versatile it can be used for everything from a natural pick-me-up to easing digestive issues and headaches.  Use it to make a hot tea, ice tea, or in sauces, soups, and marinades.  Mint does it all!  Even my kids, who scoff at any speck of herb in their food (which is why I hide them, shhhh!), will pick mint fresh off the plant and eat it until I have to shoo them away.  Beware though; mint loves to spread itself around the yard.  So unless you are ready to welcome mint in large patches in your yard, you might want to stick this herb in a pot to contain its enthusiasm.





Peppermint (Mentha piperata)

Description:
Peppermint, another member of the mint family (Lamiaceae) is a popular mint with a strong aroma; it grows to 3 feet tall with smooth leaves 1 to 3 inches long. Another dozen or so mint varieties, including some interesting fruit-scented types such as orange mint, are also available (NGA, 2010).

Growing Tips:

Plant in full sun to part shade and moist soil. Be aware that plants can be invasive, so you may want to grow your mint in containers filled with potting mix enriched with compost.
If you want an entire bed of mint, start with one or two purchased plants and set them about 2 feet apart in a sunny location. They'll quickly fill in the open area between plants (NGA, 2010).

Parts Used
: Leaves

Uses:
Peppermint is an excellent herb for fevers, colds, flu, stomach gas, and depression (Tierra, 1998).  Due to its anesthetic properties, peppermint is also very useful in the treatment of headaches and stomach upset (Botanical.com, 2010).  In the kitchen, peppermint is an excellent addition to drinks, jellies, jams, fruits, or salads. 



Minty Magic Iced Tea

  •     2 cups fresh Peppermint
  •     1 cup fresh Spearmint
  •     1/4 cup fresh Lemon Balm

    -Blend ingredients together, then pour 1 quart of boiling water over mixture.
    -Let steep for at least 20 minutes (or longer for stronger flavor).  Then, pour
          over ice, adding lemon, sweetener, and sprigs of mint if desired. 

I feel cooler already!

~Kristin Henningsen, M.S., R.Y.T.  




















References


Botanical.com. (2010) A Modern Herbal. Retrived May 31, 2010 from www.botanical.com

National Gardening Association.org (2010) Retrieved May 31, 2010 from http://www.garden.org

Tierra, M. (1998).  The Way of Herbs. New York, NY: Pocket Books.
Sunday, May 22, 2011

Rosemary!


The second herbal friend I chose to highlight this week is Rosemary.  This is another of my all-time favorite kitchen and medicinal herbs that is super easy to grow.  Whether you choose to put it in a pot or in the ground, it is almost guaranteed to get tall, bushy, and permeate your yard with its amazing scent.  Its scent is also great for keeping herb loving insects at bay, so may want to consider planting it around your garden as a natural insecticide.

Personally I use Rosemary almost every day in the kitchen, and also use it to make an herbal shampoo that smells divine!  Check out the stats of this old friend below and the recipe for the shampoo that follows.


Rosemary (Rosmarius officinalis)

Description:
Rosemary belongs to the Lamiaceae, or mint family, and have square stems, purple two-lipped flowers and abundant fragrance-bearing oil glands typical of many members of the mint family (HerbSociety of America, 2010).

Growing Tips:
Set out plants in the spring when the weather has warmed.
 
Plant in full sun, but in the warmer climates they will accept some light shade. They thrive in a light, well-drained, soil.  During the growing season, pinch back growth tips two or three inches to promote bushy plants; cut back hard only in early spring to allow the new growth time to mature (NGA, 2010).

Most rosemary varieties are reliably hardy to only 20°F; however, gardeners in cold-winter areas can successfully grow rosemary indoors in a container with a fast-draining potting soil. Bring the plants indoors at least several weeks before your area's first frost date. Feed the potted rosemary regularly with fish emulsion and provide good air circulation to ward off harmful mildew (NGA, 2010).

Parts Used
: Leaves

Uses:
Rosemary is a great treatment for headaches.  It is also useful for indigestion, colic, nausea, gas, and fevers (Tierra, 1998).  It is also high in calcium and thus is a benefit to the entire nervous system, as well as having antibiotic properties.  Rosemary can also be used for the hair and scalp; use as a cooled strong tea as a rinse after shampoo (Tierra, 1998).   This herb is used in just about every type of culinary dish with fruit, eggs, salads, sauces and meat.


Rosemary Herbal Shampoo

  • 8 oz water

  • 3 oz Liquid Castille Soap

  • 4 TBSP Rosemary Leaf

  • 20-60 drops essential oil (optional)

  • 1/4 tsp organic Jojoba or Olive oil (adjust as needed – use more for dry hair or may omit for oily hair)

Make an herbal infusion, or strong tea, by pouring boiling water over the herbs.  Cover, and allow them to steep for at least 4 hours. Strain the herbs out and pour the remaining liquid into a bottle, then adding the Castille soap and oils. Rosemary is good for any hair type.  It is also effective treatment for dry scalp, dandruff, dermatitis, and hair loss.
*This recipe is adapted from Mountain Rose Herbs (2011).


Mmmmmm......I can almost smell it now!
Happy Planting,
Kristin Henningsen, M.S., R.Y.T.



References:

Herb Society of America.org (2010) Herb Society of America Fact Sheet. Retrieved May 31, 2010 from www.herbsociety.org.

Mountain Rose Herbs (2011).  Retrieved May 1, 2011 from www.mountainroseherbs.com.

National Gardening Association.org (2010) Retrieved May 31, 2010 from http://www.garden.org

Tierra, M. (1998).  The Way of Herbs. New York, NY: Pocket Books.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Shady Friends


Mid-May is just about my favorite time of year.  Spring is in full force and it’s the perfect time (for most of the country!) to put plants in the ground.  For me,there is no food tastier than one I’ve nurtured into bearing fruit.  I won’t lie though; vegetable gardens can be labor intensive, picky, and yet oh-so satisfying! Can you hear the wistful tone coming through?  For the past two years I’ve lived with a yard that is enveloped in shade.  So much shade!  Great for those South Carolina summers, but not so much for gardening.  After coming to terms with the fact that I would not have a veggie garden (yes, even after strategically moving potted tomatoes around the yard to follow the sun), I decided to keep it simple and stick to herbs.  I’ve grown herbs for kitchen and medicinal uses for years, so why not embrace my old friends whole-heartedly?

No matter how blessed you are with solar luminosity, space, fertile soil, green thumbs, etc; herbs will do well in most conditions.  I recommend putting them in pots if you have limited space and sun, or if you are worried about frost.  I’ll be posting a few of my all time favorites this week, along with some tasty recipes, and other interesting tidbits.  To start it off :::drum roll please::: is Basil!

Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum)


Description:
Basils belong to Lamiaceae, the mint family, and have square stems, white two-lipped flowers and abundant fragrance-bearing oil glands typical of many members of the mint family (HerbSociety of America, 2010).
Growing Tips:
Plant in full sun in moist, well-drained soil.
Start seeds indoors six weeks before the last frost date or seed directly in the garden (about 1/4 inch deep) after the last frost date when soil is warm. Set transplants or thin seedlings to stand at least 10 to 12 inches apart; more room (16 to 24 inches apart) will encourage low, bushy plants to develop (NGA, 2010).

Parts Used: Leaves

Uses: 
Sweet Basil is good to use as a tea for indigestion, fevers, colds, flu, kidney and bladder troubles, headaches, cramps, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and nervous conditions (Tierra, 1998).  Basil is also a tremendous addition to the kitchen and can be used to make fresh pesto, added to soups, pizza, stir-fries and just about any dish you can think of.


Simple Basil Pesto Recipe
•    2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
•    1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
•    1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
•    1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
•    3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
•    Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste                              

1. Combine basil, nuts, and garlic in a food processor
2. Slowly add olive oil as you process the ingredients
3. Add cheese, salt, and pepper
4. Enjoy! 





Happy Eating!
Kristin Henningsen, M.S., R.Y.T.



References:
Herb Society of America.org (2010) Herb Society of America Fact Sheet. Retrieved May 31, 2010 from www.herbsociety.org.
National Gardening Association.org (2010) Retrieved May 31, 2010 from http://www.garden.org

Tierra, M. (1998).  The Way of Herbs. New York, NY: Pocket Books.
Monday, May 2, 2011

Chocolate Avocado Pudding


by Lisa Beach, Ph.D.
I recently subscribed to an Avocado of the Month Club through SoCal Avocados, and I love it!  They send me 20 avocados a month, and I've had a great time experimenting with new recipes and ways to ripen the fruits at varying rates. The SoCal Avocados website has great tips about types of avocados and how to store and ripen them.
Avocados are high in  fiber, healthy fats, and vitamins A, C, E, and K (great for skin, hair and nails!).
My current favorite way to eat avocados is in chocolate pudding. I don't worry too much about measuring amounts, but to start with, check out this recipe: 
1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
6-10 dates (they vary in size and sweetness!), soaked for a couple hours in water (and drained/dried)
½ tsp vanilla
4 heaping Tbsp unsweetened unprocessed cocoa/cacao powder or 2 Tbsp. carob powder
½ cup water or coconut milk (or almond milk...or any other milk you prefer)

Avocados in the food processor

Add cacao (cocoa) powder and other ingredients and process until smooth---the texture of this is AMAZING!

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Kaplan Center for Health and Wellness
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