Herbal Chicken Soup Recipe

if you've been wanting to include herbs in your life and don't know where to start, soup is the perfect place! Soup can be easy to make (like the recipe below), it’s a one pot meal so it’ll be an easy clean up, the health benefits are limitless, and it really does feed the soul.

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Culinary herbs as health tonics have been pushed to the back-burner so to speak as more exotic “superfood” herbs have been “discovered” from around the world. Though they may be super, traditional culinary herbs are still my favorite.

Culinary herbs, eaten on a daily basis, have just as much, if not more, power to keep us healthy in a sustainable way. Mother nature designed these herbs to taste good, smell good, and have the health benefits that fight bacteria, viruses, fungal infections, they’re high in antioxidants are blood purifiers, digestive aids and the list goes on and on.

When I make chicken soup, or any soup, I cook with herbs like onion and garlic while making broth. But it’s the last step during the cooking process that sets my soups apart from any other soups I’ve had- taste wise and health wise. I add an insane amount of fresh herbs to the pot for the last 15 minutes of cook time at a a low simmer. This gives the soup an ahhhhmazing flavor and the broth is infused with plant medicine. Adding a large amount of fresh herbs and greens to the pot during the last few minutes of cooking ensures that the vitamins and minerals won’t be destroyed.

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In the recipe below, I recommend a more conservative amount of fresh herbs because I know not everyone will like the strong flavor of herbs in broth. So you can play around with this and add more as you get accustomed to herbal flavoring in your foods. (rosemary is an exception- I wouldn’t add more than one sprig to the pot)

In this recipe, I added dandelion and calendula (the pretty yellow flower). If dandelion isn’t growing where you live right now, just substitute with chard or kale. Whole Foods usually sells dandelion throughout the year or you can easily grow it yourself or find it at farmers market, especially in the spring and summer. I have calendula still growing in my yard, so I added it to my soup to make it pretty and bright. Of course it has its health benefits too!

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Without further ado, here’s the recipe. After the recipe, I share the health benefits of dandelion, calendula, rosemary, thyme, and oregano. Take a look!

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Dandelion Leaf: Reproductive herbal tonic to support general hormonal balancing & reproductive health. Especially great for women who have short menstrual cycles (27 days or less). It’s a bitter plant, providing liver support and detoxification and is highly nutritive. The bitter quality of the the dandelion greens promotes healthy digestion and increases elimination of toxins through the liver and kidneys. It’s a mild diuretic useful for cases of water retention (great during PMS when you may have excess water weight!), bladder or kidney problems. Good source of potassium, iron, calcium, vitamins  A,B,C, and D and trace minerals

Calendula Flower - nourishes and cleanses the lymphatic system (great for swollen glands), moves congestion out of the body which is important for the immune system, has astringent properties which means it’s useful for cases of diarrhea and stomach ulcers. It’s antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-fungal and has an affinity for the female repro. system. It’s been used to treat cysts and yeast infections and other systemwide fungal infections.

Thyme - increases circulation to the digestive organs, good for indigestion, relieves gas and bloating, great remedy for upper respiratory congestion, powerful antibacterial and anti-fungal herb

Rosemary - promotes mental focus and eases headaches, increases circulation to the brain, nourishes the nervous and cardiovascular systems

Oregano - calming and relaxing herb, stimulates digestion, powerful antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiseptic

What we call postpartum care, they call mother roasting. What is it and should new U.S. moms "roast" too?

Preface

I’m not a new mom yet, but plan to be soon-ish! I have so many thoughts about what kind of birth “should” I have? Home or hospital? Midwife or doctor? What will my body be like after having a baby? What will I be like?

There’s so much to consider and with all the “should-ing” we tell ourselves, the last thing any women wants to here is what she “should” be doing postpartum. I totally get that, and, at the same time I’d like to bring up an important topic here. It’s out of love for all the new mama’s out in the world (my sister is about to be a a new mom!) and for myself, when my time comes, too.

Something to Consider

It’s not too often that a prescription of “Mother Roasting” is advised for postpartum care—at least not in the Unites Sates. What is it and should new moms do it? 

Come to think of it, aside from taking sitz baths, there isn’t really much talk of, literature, or common knowledge of what new moms can do to help themselves recover, physically and emotionally, after child birth. 

In Southeast Asia, mother roasting is synonymous with postpartum care. Actually, there’s a whole “heat-the-new-mother-up” protocol directly after child birth. One practice is called Mother Roasting. This is when a new mom lays on a bed raised above hot coals to ‘dry out’ and to stop the lochia, restore the uterus to pre-pregnancy condition and to alleviate postpartum abdominal pain. (Hmm sounds pretty cozy, but I don’t know if a hot-bed set-up would work in my house! Maybe a heating pad?)

Other traditional practices done in South East Asia that sound much more doable include: vaginal herbal steaming, steam sauna, medicinal plant decoctions (really strong teas), and a diet of hot foods to help recuperate postpartum.

In traditional eastern forms of medicine, pregnancy is seen as a “hot state.” When the heat during pregnancy is lost after cild birth, women come into a state of excess cold. The postpartum care of mother roasting, v-steams, hot tea and food, etc. is done to restore the mother to equilibrium. 

Do these practices work? Or are they just old wives’ tales? I don’t think so, and neither does the person who wrote this quote:

In Western traditional medicine, the label “old wives’ tales” has been applied to all knowledge of interest to women – fertility, birth, childcare – transmitted orally from one generation of women to the next, and the derogatory label reflects male devaluation and relegation to folklore of this exclusively female realm of knowledge (Newman 1985).

photo from Anima Lifeways & Herbal School.

photo from Anima Lifeways & Herbal School.

Understanding that the term “old wives’ tales” is a term made up by men to undermine women’s traditional knowledge of plants is so important. It’s created roadblocks for women to take care of themselves and their families in an optimal, holistic way. 

And now, let me get back on track. No, these are not just old wives tales. There’s scientific evidence demonstrating how traditional “heat-the-mother-up” practices are effective, specifically vaginal herbal steaming.

v-steam steam stool and organic herbs for vaginal steaming

v-steam steam stool and organic herbs for vaginal steaming

I’m finding countless scientific / scholarly articles written by ethnobotanists (scientists who study a region’s plants and how people have traditionally used them) documenting vaginal herbal steams and how women use plants in general to care for all stages of women’s life including: fertility, menstrual health, birth control, pregnancy, birth, postpartum and lactation, and infant care.

i’m just focusing on one article’s findings in this post.

A group of researchers, 2 men and 2 women, went to Southeast Asia and interviewed local midwives and moms to learn about vaginal herbal steams, why it’s done, what plants are used and its value. The article sums up the practice of vaginal herbal steaming like this: “[the new mom sits] on a seatless chair over a pot containing the steaming decoction. By lifting the lid of the pot the steam is let out, containing essential oils and other volatile substances, for inhalation and absorption through the skin, and as the water cools down the mother uses the decoction to cleanse her body. The results show that the use of these specific species likely aids postpartum hygiene and health through the antimicrobial, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties of their essential oil constituents” (de Boer, Hugo J. 2012).

The researchers went on to study the types of chemical compounds that the volatile (essential) oils contain which do in fact prove to be antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, soothing to the nervous system and analgesic (relieves pain). Full article here. These healing substances enter the body through “dermal condensation.” Basically your skin drinks up the volatile oils that are released through steam. Plants that are used in South East Asia are different than plants used by women in other regions of the world. But the outcome remains the same. Healing oils are released through the steam and the mama is soothed, both physically and emotionally. After the steam, the mom uses the plant water to bathe in, which further helps to cleanse, heal and tighten tissue.

I don’t know if I’ll get around to Mother Roasting, but you can sign me up for postpartum v-steams, hot drinks and hot soups! There’s a book called The First Forty Days that has great recipes, tips and tricks on how to care for oneself postpartum.

For more info on v-steams or to purchase supplies visit www.kapu.community.

Please share with a girlfriend who might benefit from reading this!


References

de Boer, Hugo J. Snake Gourds, Parasites and Mother Roasting : Medicinal Plants, Plant Repellents, and Trichosanthes (Cucurbitaceae) in Lao PDR. Uppsala University , 1 Jan. 2012, uu.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:499682/FULLTEXT01.pdf.

Newman, L.F., 1985. An Introduction to Population Anthropology. Women’s Medicine. A Cross-cultural Study of Indigenous Fertility Regulation.

Drink Fire Cider So You Can Use Your "Sick Days" for Some Fun Instead

IMMUNE SYSTEM TONIC • DIGESTIVE SUPPORT • A PARTY IN YOUR MOUTH

Fire Cider Ingredients

Fire Cider Ingredients

I’m by no means supporting being completely dishonest to your employers (just a little), but I gotta say, there’s nothing worse than having to use a sick day and actually being sick! It’s so much more fun using a sick day to go enjoy yourself. Fire cider is the tastiest immune system booster and home remedy that will help keep you happy and healthy all year long.

Fire Cider makes my mouth water and pucker just thinking about it! It’s an immune support tonic (you’ll be the healthiest person you know during cold and flu season!) and a digestive aid. It’s delicious and like nothing else you’ve tasted! Look at the recipe below and you’ll see what all the fuss is about.

I take a spoonful of Fire Cider several times throughout the day when I feel a cold, cough, sore throat, or flu coming on. It’s also great after a meal to support digestion, or can be used as a salad dressing. Since it's a tonic, its safe to use everyday to support general health (if you have a health concern, please see a qualified herbalist or health care professional to advise if Fire Cider is ok for you). Its an excellent warming, circulatory, immune system boosting formula!

Fire Cider is an folk remedy that herbalist Rosemary Gladstar popularized. She generously shared her recipe and promotes everyone making Fire Cider for themselves as a way to stay healthy all year long. No need to buy it when you can make yourself a batch that will last throughout the year! The recipe I use is a variation of hers. Enjoy and be healthy, naturally!

What you'll need...

In addition to the ingredients below, you’ll need raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (I get 2 Bragg's 32 oz bottles), raw unfiltered honey, at least 2 mason jars (size of jars depends on how much Fire Cider you want to make), and parchment paper to place between the glass jar and metal lid (so the vinegar won’t cause the metal to rust).

The directions below yields a large batch of Fire Cider, about 60 oz. It's definitely enough to share with friends and family which is great! Feel free to cut down the size of this recipe into half for your individual use.

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Main Ingredients:

1 garlic bulb, remove skin from each clove, crush, and chop

2 yellow onions, diced

1 cup fresh horseradish root, peeled and finely chopped or grated

1 cup fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped or grated

2 jalapeños, cut into coins Or ¼ tsp cayenne powder per mason jar

Optional Ingredients (that I include in my own recipe):

2 lemons, juice and zest

2  tbsp turmeric powder

2 tbsp dried rosemary

2 star anise

2 tbsp black peppercorns

2 cinnamon sticks

½ cup fresh turmeric root, peeled and diced

½ cup fresh burdock root, peeled and chopped into coins (found in asian markets, learn more here)

Directions:

  1. Prepare all the ingredients you plan on using and separate them evenly into 2 mason jars, or 1 quart sized jar (more or less depending on how big of a batch you choose to make). The mason jars should not be filled to the brim with your vegetables and herbs. Leave at least 3 inches of space.

  2. Cover your ingredients with apple cider vinegar, making sure the veggies are covered by 2 inches.

  3. Place parchment paper over your mason jar(s) before screwing on its lid.

  4. Store your jars in a dark place, like a kitchen cupboard and shake daily to help macerate all the veggies in the vinegar.

  5. After a month, your Fired Cider will be ready to strain! Use a cheesecloth to strain the now medicinal, delicious, and spicy vinegar into a clean mason jar. Make sure to squeeze out all the juices from the veggies, herbs, and spices into your jar as well. Discard, compost, or use the veggies in a spicy stir fry. 

  6. Add honey to your Fire Cider to taste and enjoy!

Since vinegar and honey are 2 natural preservatives, I don’t refrigerate my Fire Cider. But I do consume it within a year from the date its made to ensure its freshness. Make sure you label the date you made the Fire cider so that you strain it in a month's time and consume it within a year.

all the medicinal properties of the vegetables and herbs seeping into the vinegar

all the medicinal properties of the vegetables and herbs seeping into the vinegar

Here’s a very brief summary of the medicinal properties of Fire Cider ingredients:

Ginger- supports the immune system, warming and decongestant herb, acts as a circulatory stimulant by increasing blood flow which supports oxygenation of tissue and the elimination of waste, and aids digestion. 

Garlic- antimicrobial, stimulates production of white blood cells in the body which boosts body’s immune function, antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, warms the blood, fights infections in the body, great for heart health

Horseradish root- aids in digestion, helps relieve sinus infections by opening up sinuses, warming, acts as a circulatory stimulant to help move energy around in the body

Cayenne- acts as a circulatory stimulant by increasing blood flow which supports oxygenation of tissue and the elimination of waste, heart tonic, digestive aid

Turmeric- support liver health, anti-inflammatory, treats chest colds and coughs

Onion- supports the immune system

Burdock root- supports liver health (click here to learn more)

Cinnamon- warming, boosts vitality, improves circulation, clears congestion, digestive aid, stabilizes blood sugar levels

Rosemary- improves circulation, digestive aid

Apple Cider Vinegar- a solvent to extract all the “good stuff” from the herbs, veggies, spices

Honey- natural antibacterial (best if raw and unprocessed)

I hope you enjoy making and using Fire Cider as much as I do. I also hope you turn your family and friends on to it as I have. Make sure you’re present the first time someone tries your fire cider-- you won’t want to miss their face!

Note: Remember Hippocrates advice: "First do no harm." I suggest to test a little, wait and see how it makes you feel. If it doesn't make you feel warm and energized in a good way, then don't use it anymore! In the words of herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, “If you are a very firey person, with a ruddy complexion, and have a hyper tense disposition,” fire cider may not be the best to add to your daily diet.

Enjoy!

Enjoy!


Resources: 

Hoffmann, David. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts, 2003. Print.

Gladstar, Rosemary. Rosemary Gladstar's Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's Guide. North Adams, MA: Storey Pub., 2012. Print.

 

Get clear skin with this easy pickled burdock root recipe

Get clear skin with this easy pickled burdock root recipe

When my pretty herb school teacher with flawless skin taught a class about burdock root and said it was responsible for her clear skin, boy did I take some good notes that day! It’s one of the safest and most effective detoxifying, cleansing, and deeply nutritive herbs used in both Western Herbalism and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).


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