where to find us in the weeks to come. ..
as spring begins to stretch her fingers and withdraw from winters cold and snowy embrace, one of my favorite blessings that occurs. . .is sap. as trees begin to awaken from their wintry slumber, a sweet and watery liquid begins to traverse from the trees roots to its leaves, bringing water and minerals throughout the tree. birch sap contains amino acids, enzymes, proteins and sugars, which is food for the tree in its times of substantial growth, such as leaf production.
the birch tree is known in celtic mythology as ‘the lady of the woods’. she symbolizes new beginnings, protection and renewal. birch were some of the first trees to return to the glacier leveled landscape after the ice age, and are some of the oldest known trees to exist on earth. birch has had many, many uses through the eras, for it’s wood (which is hard, light in color…
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still one or two spots left for this upcoming workshop. . .join us in beautiful bear river as we learn to make fire cider, discuss immune system support, and other herbal folklore and enjoy some tea and light fare.
this common garden ‘weed’ is a hardy and delicious wild edible. rich in vitamins and minerals, chickweed can grow all winter long cozied up in greenhouses (this is where this handful came from).
we generally don’t buy vegetables from afar, so when winter falls, we eat a lot of hardy brassicas like kale, brussel sprouts, cabbage, and other locally grown greens. sometimes we manage to scavenge some hardy weeds as well, like this handful of chickweed.
local, fresh greens contain far more nutritional content than vegetables that are shipped from afar. something i really adore about chickweed, is that not only is it a choice edible, it is a very wonderful medicinal as well.
chickweed is a cooling demulcent, which means it is soothing to heat and inflammation, internally as well as externally. it can be bruised (or chewed) and used as a poultice to draw out inflammation (and heat), soothe scratches and rashes, minor burns, skin irritation, eczema and fight infection. it has been used traditionally as an eye wash as well, for irritation and pink eye. it is also used internally as a tonic to cleanse the blood, flush out the kidneys, for swollen lymph glands, and for bringing relief for dry coughs. its cooling nature makes it a gentle but effective herb to reach for in times of fever, as well as heat in the urinary tract, such as painful urination. for gut health, it is high in fibre and said to be helpful for improving nutrient absorption. it’s anti-inflammatory attributes can help with arthritis, menstrual cramps and rheumatism. centuries ago it was used to draw out splinters.
in terms of edibility, chickweeds stems, leaves and flowers can be eaten with gusto. we like to add them to omelettes, salads, stir fries, and just about anything you can think of. of course, they can be enjoyed on their own as well, lightly steamed, or sautéed in good butter.
medicinally, they can be drank as a tea (or long infusion), infused in organic apple cider vinegar to make a nutritive vinegar for salad dressings, etc, infused in oil for topical use or furthermore made into a healing salve (goes well with other green allies such as plantain, marshmallow, etc), dried for later use as tea or food. some research is showing it is high in natural antihistamines as well.
the best part about chickweed, is that it grows like a weed. you can harvest from the same plant again and again as long as you leave the roots intact.
more than ever lately i have been grateful for the medicine of the weeds, their incredibly resilient nature, and the strong but innocuous medicine that they offer, often despite their persecution and prejudice. i think of dandelion, plantain, lamb’s quarters, dock, burdock and so many other green allies who are often forgotten literally underfoot while we seek out more exotic and exciting medicinals and foods. but these weeds are plentiful, they are everywhere, from the countryside to the city, and they are absolutely packed with nutrients and minerals. the fact that they are from the land on which we walk and build our homes; it makes so much sense to make them a part of our daily lives, for food and medicine. they are here. they are healing both the land, and us, if only we let them. it is intriguing to think of eating to prevent sickness, but food is hugely comparative to medicine. to eat to stay well, rather than waiting to get sick before trying to get healthy again. when we eat the food and medicine growing wild from this land, we become the land around us, on a cellular level.
join us as we discuss the different health benefits and medicinal aspects of local wild sea weeds and wild greens. learn to identify some of the seaweeds and plants growing on our beaches.
this will take place near black rock, which is near harbourville on the bay of fundy, north of berwick.
one or two spots left!
contact me for more details, or to reserve your spot now.
or message me on our facebook page.
for those of you who missed the handout from my recent workshop. . .recipes and nutritive facts below. thanks to everyone who came out! stay tuned for future walks / workshops.
WILD WEEDS NUTRITIVE FACTS (from katrina blair’s book: the wild wisdom of weeds)
vitamin c – chickweed, dandelion, marshmallow, lambs quarters, amaranth, purslane, dock
vitamin e – knotweed, purslane, plantain, dandelion, clover, dock, grasses
iron– amaranth, dock, lambs quarters, dandelion, mustard, clover, mallow
calcium – dandelion, clover, lambs quarters, amaranth, purslane, grass, plantain
magnesium – lambs quarters, marshmallow, knotweed, mustard, grass
manganese – dock, purslane, lambs quarters, amaranth, grass
potassium – clover, lambs quarters, thistle, amaranth, dandelion, mustard, plantain, grass
anti-depressant – purslane, thistle, chickweed, marshmallow, mustard, knotweed
anti-inflammatory – grass, amaranth, chickweed, marshmallow, purslane, plantain
omega-3 fatty acids – purslane, mallow, plantain, knotweed, chickweed
digestive – amaranth, lambs quarters, dandelion, dock, grass, plantain, mallow
pms / menopause – clover, purslane, mallow, plantain, chickweed
R E C I P E S
- 4 cups greens (dandelion, dock, chickweed, lambs quarters, amaranth, purslane, mallow, knotweed, plantain, etc)
- 3 cups waterblend the greens and the water, strain out the juice, and enjoy the green liquid right away to help mineralize, hydrate and alkalanize your body. the pulp can be used as a green face mask, or anywhere else on the body that might need some healing and anti-flammatory action.
4-6 cups wild green weeds
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp salt.
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice / organic apple cider vinegar
blend and enjoy, add more oil or lemon juice to taste.
dandelion root latte
- 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped roasted dandelion roots (you can also use chaga)
- 2-4 cups water
- 2 tablespoons grass-fed butter, ghee or coconut oil
- pinch of cinnamon
- pinch of sea salt
- tsp honey
- bee pollen
simmer roots (don’t boil) in water for 15-30 min, until you have a dark coloured tea. put oil, cinnamon, salt and honey in blender, add strained tea, blend until frothy, top with bee pollen (optional) —-bam. enjoy.
a few handfuls of wild greens (dandelion, plantain, etc)
- olive oil / sesame oil
- (tamari – optional)
- sea salt
toss greens in oil and salt, spread out on parchment paper on a baking sheet. place in a greenhouse/dehydrator/oven at low temperature until crispy.
- 1 large glass jar
- organic raw apple cider vinegar / kombucha vinegar
- wild-crafted / garden grown herbs / garlic, onions, hotpeppers, etc. (optional)
chop herbs roughly, add to jar and cover completely with vinegar. cover with a bit of parchment/waxed paper and lid. allow to infuse at least one lunar cycle.
herb infused honey
- leaves or flowers
roughly chop herbs, add to a glass jar, cover until jar is full with honey, let sit at lease one lunar cycle. warm honey slightly to strain, then use as needed.
basic herbal syrup recipe
- 2-3 cups plant material
- 4 cups water
- 1.5 cups of honey
in water, simmer the plant material at low heat until you have a strong tea. reduce by about half for concentration. add honey. you can add a small amount of a tincture or alcohol as a preservative. refrigerate and use as needed, for food or medicine. this recipe can be doubled or tripled for larger batches.
- garden herbs (oregano, thyme, lovage, parsley, basil, rosemary, etc) / juniper berries / evergreen needles / wild bay, etc
- sea salt
combine in a blender and spread out in a thin layer to dry. stir once in awhile.
hey folks — i will be doing a workshop this upcoming august 12th, on wild food as medicine. i will be doing a plant walk, discussion on wild plants, and explaining how to work these wild allies into every day life as both food, and medicine.
there will be a great cast of characters speaking on a variety of topics, and there will be herbal vendors as well, and lots of good things going on. hope to see you there!
and suddenly, it was july. summer always seems to sneak up on me. from the slow pace of winter, to springs wind-up, into the complete full bloom of summer—-of which we are currently in the midst. hope you all are remembering to stay hydrated as summers heat reaches its peak (yes, i am a total mum). our bodies literally cannot function without water. many symptoms of dehydration are common and unnoticed, some being dry mouth, aches and pains, headaches, moodiness, dizziness, eczema, and so on. i like to take my daily tinctures in my big morning mason jar of water. it is an extra measure of getting your medicine into you, to drink a good amount of water upon rising.
impermanence is something that resonates for me this time of year—-there is this push to be harvesting, infusing, preserving, drying everything at its peak time of harvest and medicinal potency. and then, just as suddenly and miraculously as its blooms first opened; it is gone. it can, at times, feel like quite the scramble, as often the window is quite short, and so fleeting. summer is a true mix of chaos and beauty; the intensity of it all.
nova scotia has scores of wild medicine and food, from native plants to introduced invasives, they seem to all have their place on the table, medicine cabinet, or even simply as food for our pollinator friends the bees. it is easy to get trapped in the convenience of the grocery store and to completely forget what is growing here, and so fresh, abundant and rich in vitamins and nutrients.
this months box includes the following:
c h e r r y, h a w t h o r n e & r o s e e l i x i r – something so simple sounding, and yet incredibly divine, this elixir is perfect for the heart, and the summer heat (and the emotions that can sometimes come with it). cherry flowers, hawthorne flowers & rose petals combine to bring you a potent and yet wildly delicious dose of relaxing, nerve soothing, anti-inflammatory (physically or emotionally) and cough relieving medicine. try it when you need a pick me up, or find yourself overwhelmed with anxiety. hawthorne and roses are a tonic for the heart. they are known to pacify heart issues, from high blood pressure to heartbreak. we have infused these flowers in brandy, and mixed in rose infused honey for an extra dose of roses. i could go on about roses for a long, long time. .. an often underestimated medicinal. take as needed, can also be added to tea or water, yogurt, smoothies, go wild. refrigerate, but do consume within the next few months (though it should be fine longer).
h e r b a l m o u t h w a s h – a blend of anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial herbs in an alcohol base. contains sage, peppermint, oregon grape, willow and propolis. a natural alternative to chemical mouthwashes, propolis is antimicrobial, and is being studied for its deterrent effect against plaque, gingivitis and tooth decay. swish around in your mouth and then spit out to leave your mouth feeling minty fresh and clean. perfectly portable for impromptu needs, i keep one in the car, and one by the bathroom sink. this is one of my favourites.
i t c h s t i c k s – this handy version of our itch-be-gone-salve features some cooling plants to bring relief from itchy skin, bug bites, bee stings, rashes and other skin irritations. these green plant allies are naturally anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and soothing to itchy, dry, irritated skin. can be applied topically to any rashes, minor cuts, stings, bites, etc. contains: organic cold-pressed sunflower oil from quebec, local beeswax, plantain, mint, goldenrod and marshmallow leaves.
w i l d b e r r y r o s e s h r u b – shrubs, oxymels (or drinking vinegars) are a blend of apple cider vinegar and honey, infused with herbs or trees or fruits, to be added to sparkling or still water, or mixed into cocktails. this shrub contains blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, saskatoon berries & wild rose petals, infused in local, raw organic apple cider vinegar, with local honey.
s p r u c e s a l t – a well-loved favourite, this is created by infusing spring time spruce tips with sea salt, letting them dry and meld in flavour. this is delicious sprinkled on roasted veggies, salads, venison, fish, or anything that you fancy sprucing up. bad pun.
f i r e w e e d b u n d l e – this lovely boreal herb has been used in russia and parts of europe as a tea and tonic for centuries. it grows across canada, and is the official flower of the yukon. it is commonly one of the first pioneering plants to return after a forest fire. cooling, blood purifying and highly anti-inflammatory, it is helpful for skin irritation, can be made into a tea and used as a wash for redness and acne. the spring shoots are similar to asparagus, and the leaves make a lovely tea. in russia it was fermented similar to the process of green/black teas, and called “kapor tea” (or ivan chai), which was used for stomach aches, and very high in vitamin a and c. the further up north fireweed grows, the more vitamin c it contains. studies have also shown that fireweed can help encourage good gut bacteria, and is actually anti-candida. traditionally, first nation peoples drew upon it for digestive upsets and intestinal worms, or drank it as a pleasant and relaxing tea. this bundle can be used as needed for tea, or in the bath, or (when you are sure it is completely dry), garbled between your hands to crush it into smaller pieces, and stored in a jar for winter use.
daylilly buds – a rich source of iron and protein, day lilly buds can be eaten raw or cooked. traditionally in asia they have been dried and used as a thickener in soups. they were also used for their medicinal value, as pain relief in labour, for fever, detoxifying the blood, and as a sedative. intriguing for what some would assume was a common garden ornamental. these buds are absolutely delicious sauteed with butter and garlic until tender. can be added to stirfries with other veggies, or eaten alone as a snack.
thanks for your support. you enable us to continue to pursue a greater understanding of our wild surroundings, traditional crafts, foraging, herbal medicine and allow us to carry on our way of life.
i wanted to say again, that we are very open to trades, partial and complete monthly exchanges. some things we are interested in are: grass-fed beef, free-range eggs from organic fed chickens/ducks, herbal meads, organic local fruit, bones (from grass-fed beef, etc), ethically hunted deer/moose, etc, etc, etc. try us, we are happy to discuss possibilities, and don’t want you to miss out on wild or herbal wares due to lack of money.
if you are interested in signing up for august’s wild food & medicine box, drop us a line. more info: click here.
summer solstice has come and gone. now, as summers heat reaches (what i hope to be) its peak, it is time to turn our attention to cooling herbs.
it may seem counter-intuitive, but ice cold drinks can actually make you hotter, and thirstier in this hot weather. ice cold water only lowers your body temperature momentarily, then as it actually cools your digestive fires, your body has to work twice as hard to warm up your digestive system, which can leave you thirsty and hotter. that being said, i would have a hard time drinking a hot cup of tea on a sweltering summer day, so let’s go with room temperature.
one of the most satisfying and delicious ways i know to enjoy cooling herbs and teas in the summer time is sun tea.
sun tea is made by adding herbs to cold tap water, and letting them sit all day in a glass jar or container somewhere in the sun. this is an extremely energy efficient way of making a cooling and tasty infusion.
cooling herbs can help cool down our bodies. plants that are considered sour, astringent and diaphoretic can all be helpful. diaphoretics can stimulate sweat, which can aid our body in releasing heat and toxins from our skin. this is why people in hot climates often eat such spicey foods. astringent herbs are drying and cooling, which can be helpful in humid heat. think of rose. sour herbs are cooling and contracting, think of berries.
some herbs that i find incredibly useful for cooling down on a hot summers day are:
- roses – rose petals are plentiful in the summer time, they grow wild alongside the ocean and various other places. (as always, make sure to harvest in a clean, non-polluted area, not near busy roads). roses are cooling and astringent by nature, as well as calming and healing for the heart. they can also be helpful in alleviating skin rashes, which are sometimes a sign of summer heat. if you add lemon juice to a sun infusion of roses, your water will turn a gorgeous shade of pink.
- elderflower – a cooling diaphoretic, elderflower is wonderful for the heat, as well as fevers. as a diuretic, it can also help flush heat out of the kidneys. a delicate and lovely flower, it can be made into a delicious cordial as well.
- mint – the active constituent in mint is menthol, which can aid in digestion and heartburn (both of which when agrivated can be a symptom of heat). it is incredibly cooling, as most of you know, and can be settling to the stomach. a cool infusion of mint is different than a hot infusion, you might be surprised.
- chamomile – this gentle but effective cooling flower is soothing to the digestive tract, as well as anxiety and insomnia. it is helpful with inflammation and rashes.
- marshmallow – a common garden ‘weed’, marshmallow leaves, flowers and roots are all cooling, and are actually better extracted by sun or cool water. it is a demulcent, which means it is a bit mucilagenous and will leave a mildly slimey coating on your mouth, throat and digestive organs, which can be cooling and healing to boot.
- lemonbalm – this fragrant plant is both calming and cooling. it is citrusy in flavour, and cool in nature. it will grow prolifically in most gardens. it is also soothing to the nerves, something of mine that i find gets quite frazzled in the busy summer months. also helpful for hot flashes.
all of these herbs are safe for children and pregnant mamas. they can be made in a sun infusion, or a hot tea (which you can stir a tad of honey in if you fancy, and then refrigerate to have later as a chilled, cool tea). you can experiment mixing and blending different combinations until you find what works best for you. and enjoy.