July 20, 2014

Purslane, Apples, Oats, and Mint

We find balance in summer weather by eating foods that are bitter (cooling, moist), such as: unsweetened cocoa, olives, dandelion, kale, celery, amaranth, quinoa, and millet. It is also important to take time to rest, sit in the shade, breathe deeply, and absorb the green color that surrounds us.

These recipes will help you cool down, nourish yourself, and appreciate summer’s vibrant energy. Include these ingredients in your food and tea to find well-being throughout this season.

Thanks to all who participated in the Food As Medicine Workshop at this weekend's Herbal Garden Retreat! Be well and stay in touch.

Health Benefits of Foods

Apples: contain polyphenols and fiber to help prevent blood sugar spikes; provide pre-biotic compounds that support intestinal flora and ease gas and bloating; contain antioxidants that help to digest fat in the cell membranes and reduce the risk of cardiovascular difficulties.

Blueberries: strengthen them immunity and enhance overall health with power-packed antioxidants; support brain function and offer acid-alkaline balance in intestines.

Oats: high in fiber to lower cholesterol levels and reduce risk of heart disease; ease digestive stress and support healthy transit time; enhance immune response to infection and stabilize blood sugar; calm and soothe the nervous system to alleviate mild depression.

Peppermint: stomachic, and cooling, it relieves indigestion, dyspepsia, and colonic muscle spasms by relaxing the smooth muscle tissue of the intestines. Essential oil of peppermint also stops the growth of many different bacteria, including: Helicobacter pylori, Salmonella enteritidis, Escherichia coli, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Peppermint contains rosmarinic acid, which opens bronchial passages and reduces the effects of allergy-induced cold symptoms.

portulaca oleracea - soft, succulent purslane leaves have more omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linoleic) than in some of the fish oils on the supplement shelf. It is rich in vitamin A to support healthy vision and mucus membranes. It contains alkaloid pigments, which are anti-oxidants that have been found to have anti-mutagenic properties (Proc. West. Pharmacol. Soc. 45: 101-103. 2002). Leaves, stems and flowers, all edible, have a slightly sour and salty taste.

Fresh Herbed Pistou

In blender, mix:
3 Tablespoons local vegetable oil
¼ cup local nuts, ground in spice/coffee grinder (almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds)
2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Freshly chopped herbs – use a combination of parsley and basil, cilantro and mint, basil and mint
Blend at highest speed for 2 minutes.
Enjoy with vegetable fritters, as a sandwich spread, or with grains. Freezes for up to 1 year.

Pistou of Blanched Greens

Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a medium-large pot.
Rinse kale, collards, chard or purslane.

Chop coarsely.
Place the cut greens in boiling water and boil for 3 minutes.
Remove greens from pot with tongs.
Place in a blender or food processor.
Add olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and garlic / nuts if you like.
Blend well.

Vegetable Frittata

You will need:
4 Tablespoons local vegetable oil (I like sunflower oil from Rainville farm)
1 large leek or yellow onion
2 teaspoons each: salt and black pepper
1 bunch fresh dark, leafy greens (collards, kale, chard, spinach, dandelion greens, and more)
6 eggs
1 handful each if fresh OR 1 Tablespoon each if dry: parsley and thyme

Chop 1 large leek into rounds.
Heat oil in a skillet and add leeks.
Reduce heat to medium low. Add salt, black pepper, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add greens. Simmer for 10 more minutes or until most of the liquid has cooked out of the vegetables.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a pie plate with local vegetable oil.

In a bowl, beat 6 eggs, spices, and about 4 Tablespoons of water.
Pour egg mixture over the top of the greens and bake for 40 minutes.

Collard Green Roll Ups

Cook 2 cups brown rice or quinoa in 4 cups water. Add 1 teaspoon salt and thyme if you like.

Once cooked, add:
½ cup nuts: I like almonds or walnuts
¼ cup dried fruit: I like raisins or apricots

Set aside.

To prepare the greens, take 6 collard green leaves, rinse them, and cut out the central stem until the place where it gets softer – about halfway though.
Place a few inches of water and ½ teaspoon salt in a wide skillet.

Bring it to a boil, reduce to simmer, and place one collard leaf at a time in the water.
Cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until leaf is soft.
Place cooked leaf on a plate, fill the first quarter (where there is still a stem and the leaf is intact) with grains and nuts.
Roll, tucking leaf ends into the wrap as you roll, and set aside.

Repeat this process until all leaves are filled and rolled.

Make a sauce for the rolls by whisking together:
1 cup tahini
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon tamari / soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
½ inch fresh ginger root, minced

Plate rolls with a generous spoonful of sauce and serve with more sauce for the table.

Apple Blueberry Crumble

Oats, avena sativa, are a cereal of the Poaceae family, filled with nutritive, nervine phytochemicals that soothe the human nervous system and nourish the soil. They remove nitrogen from soil, which means that it is important to rotate their growth with a nitrogen-rich cereal grass like buckwheat. Native to the Indus river valley of central Asia, oats have been grown for centuries to feed both humans and livestock.

Feel free to substitute any local fruit that’s in season or in your freezer/mason jars.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 8x8 glass baking dish.

In a bowl, mix together:
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries 2 cups apples, sliced into quarters and cut into chunks
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon each: nutmeg, cloves
Pinch salt
Pour into the baking dish and re-use the same bowl to make crumble topping.

In spice grinder, grind to make freshly milled flour:
½ cup rolled oats – look for local sources!

Add ground oats to bowl and combine with:
1 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon each: cinnamon, allspice
Pinch salt

Make a well in the center of the mixture and add:
¼ cup sunflower oil (or another local unsaturated oil)
3 Tablespoons maple syrup

Mix wet ingredients together in center and then incorporate dry ingredients until barely combined.
Using your hands, crumble this topping over the apples and blueberries.

Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. Cool and enjoy!

No-Bake Almond Cookies with Fresh Mint

In a mixing bowl, combine and mix well:
3 tablespoons raw honey
3 tablespoons almond butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
a pinch salt

Add 2 cups almond meal. You can make it by filling your food processor with almonds and grinding them or by purchasing pre-made flour. Store in the refrigerator.

Mix in 2 tablespoons fresh, minced mint. During our retreat workshop we also added minced tulsi (sacred basil) and anise hyssop.

Line a cookie sheet or glass container with waxed / parchment paper.

Make sure it will fit in your refrigerator.
Drop dough by the spoonful onto the paper and refrigerate for ½ hour.
Enjoy! These keep refrigerated for 1 week.

GET CREATIVE: add 3 tablespoons cocoa powder for a delicious treat.

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