Posted on

How to Make a Garlic and Herb Oxymel…for respiratory health

garlic and herb oxymel

It really is that time of year. The lush green of Summer melds into vibrant hues of red, yellow, and orange. There is a slight crisp to the morning air. And your kids wake up with the crud. You know the crud. Not quite sick enough to stop life, but left to its own devices, the crud can quickly turn into something worse.

Well, this morning, my youngest daughter, Liza Jane-4, woke up with the crud. She had a slight cough last night, but by morning it was hacking and phlegmy.  The first thing I did, was give her a healthy dose of my Elderberry Plus Syrup.  Then, I got to working on my Garlic and Herb Oxymel recipe. Before I get into the details of the recipe (there are two ways to make it), you are probably thinking “Oxy-what?” Oxymel comes from the Latin “oxymeli” meaning “acid and honey”. Put simply, it is a mixture of an acid-vinegar-with honey to make various herbal remedies. In our case, for respiratory support.

As I mentioned earlier, there are several ways to prepare your oxymel. The first is the preferred, but as is the case with most herbal preparations, it takes time to reach its full potency and is the way that you would make it BEFORE you need it. The second is a faster preparation for those of us who need something NOW.

The ingredients that you need for both methods are exactly the same:

  • Apple Cider Vinegar (preferably raw and organic)
  • Raw Local Honey (if possibly)
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Various Herbs (I chose mullein, thyme, sage, and oregano because these are great herbs for respiratory health)

METHOD 1

  1. Get a clean canning jar. Put equal parts of chopped garlic and your herbs in the jar. Fill it 1/3-1/4 full.
  2. Add equal portions of vinegar and honey until jar is full.
  3. SHAKE IT! Give it a shake every day.
  4. Patience. Let it sit for 2 weeks.                                                                                           IMG_0585
  5. Strain, label, and refrigerate.

METHOD 2

  1. Add herbs and apple cider vinegar to a glass pot/pan. Make sure that you use twice as much vinegar than you intend to have at the end. Also, make sure that you have a glass pot for this method. Vinegar leaches minerals and you do not want any metals leached into your oxymel. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Please be careful as vinegar is very strong when heated.                                                            IMG_0583
  2. After vinegar is reduced by half, strain, cool, and add equal parts of honey.
  3. SHAKE IT!                                                                                                                             IMG_0614
  4. Try to convince a very picky 4 year old that it doesn’t taste disgusting! I usually give a tablespoon or two every 3 hours. It should get rid of the crud fairly quickly. I’ve never had to give an oxymel for more than 24 hours!

Now, there is a pretty popular oxymel that is making its way around the internet-any guesses as to what it is called? The first person to comment below the correct answer wins an 8oz. bottle of my Garlic and Herb Oxymel-not available for purchase!

Posted on

Simple Bone Broth Tutorial

BoneBrothTute

Bone broth, while a simple creation, can be somewhat daunting to undertake. You hear horror stories of friends who have completely ruined a batch, or maybe that horror story was you? I have a friend-who shall remain nameless-who left the bag of giblets in her chicken! Love ya, J!! Here, you will learn about why you should be making bone broth (or stock, as my chef friends will correct me!) and how you can make it virtually fool proof. Let’s get started.

Why the heck do I want to make bone broth when I can just open a box from the store?

Well, thank you for asking! The main reason is that you should always be in control of what you are consuming. Conventional boxed broths have around 850 mg of sodium in them! Even the ‘all natural and organic’ brands have over 500. That’s almost 1/4 of your daily sodium intake in one serving. Insanity. I won’t even go into the MSG and preservatives. Let’s just say NO to all the things. Your homemade broth with have chicken, water, herbs, and veggies. And that is IT.
There are tons of benefits to consuming bone broth. It is super nutritious, rich with vitamins and minerals; it improves joint health and digestion, and is great for immune support. There is always a nugget of truth to old wives’ tales-and this is one of them. If you are feeling under the weather, a nourishing soup made with your broth (or just sip on it from a coffee mug!) will have you back on your feet in no time! Stick around and learn just how easy it is to make.

Step 1: Get a chicken. A whole chicken (DON’T forget to remove the bag of giblets!). For a great flavor profile, roast it as you would normally roast chicken. WHAT? You don’t roast chicken?? That is OKAY. Just pick one up from the deli section of your favorite grocery store.  Roasting a chicken can be intimidating, but it too is super easy. But, that’s for another day. Remove all the meat from the roasted chicken (once it’s cooled-don’t burn your fingers!). Throw the remains in a slow cooker. Cover with water. Add about 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar. ACV is amazing at pulling minerals from things that are soaking in it. Anytime you want to maximize your mineral content of your food, add ACV. Let it sit for about 30-45 minutes.

 IMG_0502

Step 2: Add your herbs and veggies. Don’t make this part complicated. Just use whatever you have on hand. This batch is simply going to have garlic and carrots as the veggies (I REALLY need to go shopping). For the herbs, I can be a little more creative as I have an entire room devoted to them. Because we are heading into the time of the year where the funk is everywhere, I’m adding some extra immunity to it with astragalus, shiitake mushrooms, burdock root, and stinging nettles.

IMG_0504                                 IMG_0505

Step 3: Turn slow cooker on low and let cook for 24-48 hours. If you want to go longer than 24 hours, make sure you check the water levels after the first day-you may want to add more water. If it has cooked as long as you want, move onto the next step….

IMG_0506

Step 4. Strain and pour into clean jars. Yes. Seriously-you are done. Now, at this point, you can add some extra grass-fed gelatin if you’d like, but it’s not necessary. To store it, you can either refrigerate it if you plan on using it in the next few days, or freeze it for later. If you are freezing, make sure you leave a few inches of head room to allow for expansion. I use my broth for all kinds of things-soups, rice, gravies and sauces, or just to drink if I am feeling gnarly.
IMG_0512

And, that’s it! Are you amazed at how easy it is? Do you make bone broths? What do you differently?

Posted on

Kid Friendly Herbal Tea…Peace Berry Blast…

peace berry blast

 

If your kids are anything like mine, they really balk at drinking herbal teas. They just aren’t as sweet as daddy’s tea (Southern Sweet Tea). Well, I was tired of fighting with them, so I made up a tea blend that looks like a “fruit” flavored drink and tastes like a fruity minty tea. Unbeknownst to them, it is chocked full of herbal goodness. It have tons of vitamins and minerals, is refreshing and good for your immune system.

Ingredients:

  • Red Raspberry Leaf-rich in iron, calcium, and Vitamin E
  • Stinging Nettle Leaf-a great source of iron, calcium, Vitamin A, and chlorophyll
  • Hibiscus-Provides the brilliant red color. Great for upper respiratory health, heart and circulatory health, and contains vitamins A, C, and iron.
  • Rosehips-TONS of Vitamin C! Great for a healthy immune system.
  • Orange Peel-Vitamin C, evens out the herby flavor
  • Peppermint Leaf-anti-oxidant, good for digestive and respiratory health
  • Stevia Leaf-Just a pinch is added to sweeten it up a little bit. This is real whole stevia leaf. No extracts or processed mess here!

If you would like to try to make it yourself, it’s fairly easy. I use equal parts everything, but a pinch of peppermint and stevia. Steep about 1/2 ounce (wt.) in boiling water for about 10-15 minutes. Longer if you’d like. Shorter if you’d like. Strain. Put in a gallon container and fill with ice and water. Voila!

I get my herbs from either Mountain Rose Herbs or Bulk Herb Store. Or, if you don’t want to bother buying pounds of herbs, you can pick up an ounce or two of the tea blend at my Etsy shop!

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging and social media activities, I may  receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this article. However, I only recommend products or services that are in line with my personal and professional ethics and standards. 

Posted on

Beat Springtime ALLERGIES at Home, Naturally.

springallergy

It’s that time again…the earth is coming back to life-flowers and trees blooming, grass is growing green again, birds are chirping, and a cloud of pollen rolls across the land. The temperature is nice enough that you want to open your windows, but a few minutes into it, and you are sneezing, coughing, and your eyes are definitely revolting.

Over-the-counter allergy medicines come with some pretty unpleasant side-effects like drowsiness, dizziness, constipation, lower milk supply in breastfeeding mothers,  dry mouth, high blood pressure, increased heart rate, and more.  I know when I felt like they were my only option many years ago, even the non-drowsy medications would knock me out-and most didn’t even really work on my allergy symptoms!

Let’s start at the root of the problem. Why do we have seasonal allergies? How are so many people allergic to nature? Didn’t humans used to be outdoors much more so than they are now? What the heck did they do before antihistamines???

“Allergy symptoms are caused by an overactive immune system. Your immune system produces substances known as antibodies that protect you from unwanted invaders that could make you sick or cause an infection.

When you have allergies, your immune system is producing antibodies in response to exposure to things like pollen, dust, or pet dander that it perceives as harmful, even though they aren’t.

It’s not the exposure to allergens that are the root cause of your allergies, it’s your body’s overreaction causing the cascade of allergic symptoms.”  –Deane Alban, Natural News

So, it seems the most important thing that we should be doing is working on our immune system so it responds properly. But, that is a long and ongoing process. In the meantime, here are a few things that you can do to lessen your symptoms and help you through the onslaught of histamines.

Local Raw Honey  This is one of the most well known natural remedies for seasonal allergies. Local raw honey has traces of local pollen. So, the theory is that by consuming it daily throughout the year, your body is acclimated to the pollen. That way, when we are inundated with it in the spring (or fall), our bodies don’t revolt. By local I mean LOCAL. You really need to find honey that is within a 10 mile radius of where you live. Check your local Farmers’ Market; if you can’t find any there, chances are someone there will point you in the right direction. If you really can’t find ANY around, a friend of mine let me in on a little trick she discovered. She washed her car really well in the spring and allowed a good coating of pollen to accumulate. Here in the South, that takes about a day. Then, she swiped a good finger-full of pollen off her car and ate it! Sort of like a pollen-inoculation. She swears by it. Maybe have a glass of water nearby…

Apple Cider Vinegar Apple Cider Vinegar is another one of those things that we hear a lot about as a cure-all magic pill. Well, that’s because it really does help with so many things! It helps lessen the severity of your symptoms and also strengthens your immune system so over time, you won’t be affected as badly. Make sure that your vinegar has the ‘mother’ in it. That is very important.  I suggested taking a tablespoon or 2 a day mixed with some raw honey in a glass of warm water as a daily tonic. 

Herbs! Of course we knew that one was coming. While I have used honey and apple cider vinegar on a regular basis for 10+ years, nothing has come close to the relief I have found with my beloved herbs. It really is amazing how fast and effective they are. My top herbs for allergy relief are stinging nettle leaf and goldenrod.  Both are a component in my Allergy Support Tincture, and nettles are one of the main herbs in my allergy tea. I prefer to use goldenrod as an antihistamine and nettles as more of a daily support. I drink nettles infusions several times a week, and they have lessened my reactions tremendously, but sometimes I really need something extra, so I will take a few droppers full of goldenrod tincture and my symptoms go away fairly quickly. And the great thing is there are no yucky side effects! 

Do you have seasonal allergies? What have you found to be helpful to control them?

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging and social media activities, I may  receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this article. However, I only recommend products or services that are in line with my personal and professional ethics and standards. 

Posted on

All About Violet

 

 

wild violet title picWild Violets (viola odorata) are pretty little perennials that tend to pop up in late winter/early spring (depending on where you live). Unfortunately, most people consider them to be annoying weeds. They are easily identified by their purple flowers and heart shaped leaves. Please don’t confuse them with African violets that are grown as houseplants. They are NOT the same thing.

This sweet little plant really is versatile and useful! But, before you start, you need to know a few things about wild harvesting. First, make SURE that the area that pick from isn’t sprayed by chemicals, where your dog defecates, close to the road, or any other place that you think is contaminated. Secondly, you want young and healthy growth. Look for vibrant colors. Third-you always want to ask permission from both the land owner and the plant itself. Fourth, never take more than you will use and never more than 5-10% of what is available. And lastly, always give thanks to the plant, earth, Mother Nature, God, or who/whatever you recognize as the giver of what you are taking. You should try to do your harvesting in the morning just after the dew has evaporated. Some of the ways that we will use wild violet call for fresh plant material and some require it to be dried, so make sure you save some to dry. 

Nutritional. Violets are packed full of minerals and vitamins-especially A and C. One of my favorite things to make is a wild green salad with violet leaves, blooms, dandelion greens, yellow dock, plantain, purslane, henbit, dead nettles, and cleavers. You can also saute the leaves like you would any other green. Another delicious treat is Wild Violet Lemonade. This is a great way to sneak in some extra nutrients to your kids and replace those toxic ‘fruit’ drinks they love so much.  Infused vinegar is my other go-to usage for wild violet. Vinegar is well known for its ability to extract vitamins and minerals from plant sources. Infusing vinegar is super easy. Get a clean mason jar and fill it with either violet blossoms, leaves, or both and cover with either white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Let it set in a cool dark place for 2-6 weeks. Strain and label. If you use white vinegar, try to make a batch with just blossoms-you will make a BEAUTIFUL purple vinegar! I use vinegars for all kinds of things. I flavor cooked greens with them, you can make a salad dressing with it, you can even use it as a hair rinse and a bath soak. Think of all the goodness of apple cider vinegar that you hear about-and add a power punch of nutrients with plant infusions!

10247459_728384073849329_8258624107772710316_nMedicinal. Wild violet has numerous medicinal properties. It is anti-inflammatory, helps the lymphatic system, is a blood purifier, it is a mild laxative and diuretic, a fever reducer, and supports the immune system. Making a syrup from the flowers is probably the easiest way to get your kids to reap the benefits. A syrup or tea is great for young ones who are constipated or have a fever. Simple fill a glass jar with the fresh flowers and pour boiling water over them. Allow to steep for 4 hours. Strain. You can stop here if you would like to have a cup of violet tea ( really, it’s an infusion…) or continue if you would like to turn it into a syrup. Herbal syrups are really just ways of making teas/infusions palatable for children (or those with tastebuds of children!).  Pour the infusion into a saucepan. Add equal quantities of sugar or honey and bring to a slow boil. Allow to boil for about 20 minutes or so and pour into glass jar. Store in fridge.  A great preparation for violets is in a salve or balm. It has been known to treat eczema and fibrocystic breast issues. Simply infuse dried violet leaf in an organic oil of your choice for several weeks. Strain and heat in a double boiler with a bit of beeswax. Continue to heat until wax is melted. Pour into glass jar. If it is too hard, remelt and add more oil. If it is too soft, remelt and add more wax. Tinctures are probably my favorite herbal preparation. Whenever possible, use fresh plant material. Place in clean glass jar (notice a theme here?) and cover with 100 proof alcohol (I prefer vodka, but use what you would like). LABEL! Give a good shake and place in cool dark area for 6+weeks. Give it a shake every day or so. Strain and bottle in an amber dropper bottle. Tinctures are the most effective form of herbal medicine. It is quick and easily absorbed into your blood stream. 

Just for fun! Crystallized violet blossoms and violet ice cubes! Crystallized violets are a fun garnish for baked goods and violet ice cubes would be a hit a kid’s party. Just fill an ice cube tray with the blossoms and fill with water as normal.

If you do not have access to fresh violets for some reason, you can always order them. I prefer to use Mountain Rose Herbs, but there are plenty of other herbal companies available!

WEHswirl

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging and social media activities, I may  receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this article. However, I only recommend products or services that are in line with my personal and professional ethics and standards. 

 

Posted on

Featured Herb: Elderberries!

elderberry stuff

So, in a few weeks, our children will be congregating in mass quantities. Yes-going back to school. Aside from the enormously wasteful piles of paper they will be bringing home for you to fill out for the umpteenth time, they will be bringing home all kinds of fun viruses and bacteria to ensure your immune system gets a nice workout.

Thankfully, the earth has decided to bless us with this immune support-elderberries. They are fruiting right now here in South Carolina. I just strolled around my neighborhood earlier today and harvested a basketful.

Elderberries have flavonoids that are powerful antioxidants and protect our cells from damage. These flavonoids also boost the immune system and strengthen our immune response to attacks from viruses. That combined with its HIGH Vitamin C content, you really can’t go wrong!

So, head on over to our shop  and stock up on Elderberry Syrup for the kids or Elderberry Tincture for yourself.