Saturday, April 17, 2010


Spring is springing! Seeds are sprouting.. I always forget what a delight all this sunshine is. Here is self portrait with spring tonic, in my natural environment, which is thesis writing at the kitchen table. Try as I might to use the office, I always end up back in the kitchen with the south facing window and a view of the Paskapoo Slopes. It feels like the appropriate season for some tonifying.. which means dropping refined sugar, caffeine, dairy, gluten and junk food for a little while. I am also taking daily doses of nettle juice, milk thistle and lacto-fermented ginger tonic.

A herbalist friend introduced me to nettle as a way to eliminate hay fever. I can't believe how well it works. The only downside is drinking a bottle of green stuff that tastes like a cross between grass and hay... a bit nasty. 10 ml twice a day, which is half of a shot (yes I shoot my nettle, out of a shot glass with a quote from Dylan Thomas on the side 'An alcoholic is someone you don't like who drinks as much as you do.') But when I am done the bottle, my allergies are gone. This year I am planning to make a point of finding some fresh nettle, as I hear it is quite nice as a cooked green. Seems like a more pleasant way to get a dose.

Milk thistle is a liver tonic that has also been shown to regulate insulin. I started taking it last year and found that it almost completely erased my pms related pain. The syrup I take is made with sea buckthorn berries, which are pretty tasty and are good for digestion.

I used this recipe to make the ginger tonic. Next time I'll add less salt, because I found it came forward a bit too much for my taste. Aside from the benefits of ginger, this offers a good dose of lactobacillus without eating dairy.

The tonic in the photo is made from boiling rose hips that I harvested last fall in water for 15 minutes or so, and straining out the solids. I then mixed it 50/50 with mineral water. I've never been one for drinking enough water, partially because I hate the chlorine taste so prominent in Calgary tap water. So I've started getting a 2 litre bottle of mineral water to keep in the fridge, and am also experimenting with a homemade carbon filter. I simply have a glass pitcher on the counter with several sticks of bamboo charcoal floating in it. I found the charcoal at the local health food store.

In Asia charcoal is used therapeutically in many different ways. I went to a spa in Korea where a dry sauna had walls entirely covered with huge pieces of charcoal, stacked like cordwood. People even eat it, you can find charcoal ice cream and charcoal cake! When I went for traditional treatment (similar to TCM, traditional Chinese medicine), the doctor had me drink packages of powdered charcoal in water for a few weeks.

The bamboo charcoal isn't powdery however, it just sits in the water. And the water does taste much better than straight out of the tap.

Because I'm taking a break from dairy, I also made almond milk. All that is required is soaking a cup of almonds in 2 cups of water overnight, blending it in the blender, and straining out the pulp. I added a bit of maple syrup. It was very nice, a light flavour. I found it was better the second day, with a kind of amaretto smell and taste. I used the pulp to make veggie pate for a party. It was really tasty. I'm definitely going to make it again.

Almond veggie pate:

1 cup almond pulp
1 T olive oil
1 T nut butter
1 T rosemary, or herbes de Provence
1 t bouillon concentrate
1 T miso
1 T chopped sun dried tomatoes

Blend well, refrigerate to set and let flavors blend. Serve with crackers or fresh bread.


nicole said...

happy spring!

Cheryl Arkison said...

Yikes! That's quite the regime.

I did want to let you know that Thompson Small Fram included nettles in their CSA delivery last year. We really liked the greens.

Claire said...

Thanks for the info Cheryl! We keep talking about CSA but I'm not sure it is worth it for only two people. I'd like to try it out sometime though.