Tasty condiments can transform simple, healthy fare into delicious meals. The secret to packing your diet full of vibrant vegetables is to couple them with delectable dressings! They can also be a vehicle for some powerful healing foods that support our health and digestion, such as vinegar, lemon, garlic and miso. These condiments can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge, allowing them to be part of your healthful convenience food options.
Green Goodness Salad Dressing
This dressing is creamy thanks to the avocado, and packed full of nutrient dense garden herbs. Adjust herbs according to what you find in your garden. Great to serve alongside grilled vegetables and barbecue fare in the summertime, as well as salads and pasta dishes.
Add all ingredients to food processor and blend until smooth. Keeps around 4 days.
Tahini Mustard Dressing
This is thick, creamy and tangy while being completely free of dairy and poor quality fats that most store bought dressings are loaded with. Tahini is a great source of calcium.
Creamy Salad Dressing
The creaminess of this dressing comes from the soaked cashew nuts. Nutritional yeast packs a cheesy flavour and is high in B vitamins and chromium for energy and blood sugar balance.
Orange Ginger Miso Dressing
This Japanese inspired dressing is a great way to incorporate probiotic-rich miso into your diet without heating it. Serve over steamed or sauteed veges or as a salad dressing.
Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Store in the fridge. Can thin with water to serve.
As we move into spring, any congestion and accumulations that have built up over winter begin to be shifted out of storage, ready for elimination. This requires our detoxification and elimination systems to be operating in top order for this process to happen smoothly. If these systems are sluggish, accumulations can build up and our detoxification and immunity can become taxed. This results in lowered resistance to infections while at the same time being over reactive to allergens - manifesting as seasonal hay fever, eczema, colds and flu. To support your body to transition into spring with ease, the following suggestions can be helpful. For individualised support, you can book here for health consultation.
Make the most of the luscious greens that are abundant at this time of year. Green leafies are the most cleansing of all veggies, especially ones with a bitter or spicy flavour. These enhance detoxification and reduce inflammatory allergic reactions. Try puha, kale, endive, mizuna, dandelion leaves or root (as food or tea), watercress, chickweed, rocket and parsley
Lighten the load
Reduce congestion by having less heavy, dense, sweet and cold foods such as ice cream, fried food and excessive meat, fat and dairy
Most of our immune system resides in our gut, and it is a major system for removing toxins and wastes. Reduce the load on digestion by having easily digested food such as steamed veggies and soups. Eat when you are actually hungry, and try smaller meals, filling up on lots of fibre rich fruit and veges. Include warm water with a pinch of ginger between meals and natural digestive aids as suits your needs, such as fenugreek, cumin and cinnamon in meals, seasonal radishes, nasturtium leaves and flowers and ginger and turmeric lattes
Eat a rainbow
Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants that support our immunity and reduce inflammation. Enjoy plenty of dark leafy greens, lemons, oranges and grapefruit, berries, beetroot, carrots. Nasturtium and Calendula flowers are excellent bright coloured remedies for colds and hay fever, eat flowers in salads or as tea
Get your body moving
Stimulate and support detoxification by including aerobic exercise into your day, morning time is ideal for detoxification. Walking in nature is a wonderful option.
Herbal allies for cleansing
The following herbs are generally safe and excellent for supporting spring cleansing, please check with your health practitioner if you have specific health needs. Milk thistle, Dandelion root and leaf, Globe artichoke, Kawakawa, Cleavers, Chicory root, Nettle, Turmeric, and Ginger. They can be prepared as juices (eg fresh Nettle or Cleavers), medicinal infusions (hot or cold for cleavers), herbal vinegars and added into soups and smoothies (Turmeric, Ginger, Nettle).
I was delighted with our first harvest of Marshmallow root from the bed we planted. In celebration, I decided to make a truly delicious herbal preparation from this wonderful healer - real herbal marshmallows!
Traditionally, marshmallows were made using real Marshmallow root, a wonderful herb that has an abundance of gooey mucilage and pectin, providing the soft structure of marshmallows. The ingredient list on a packet of modern day marshmallows showed the following ingredients, with no real Marshmallow in sight:
Sugar, Wheat Glucose Syrup, Water, Gelatine, Corn Starch, Flavours, Colour.
Many of the homemade recipes on the web also use little or no Marshmallow root, instead relying on the sugar and gelatin to provide the structure of the marshmallows. Of the recipes I found using real Marshmallow root, the root was often extracted using hot water - which does not sufficiently extract the wonderful gooey constituents that you need for creating that fluffy structure.
Here’s the trick - to best extract the mucilage from Marshmallow root, start with a cold water infusion. Simply let the chopped herb sit in cold water for 2+ hours and you will notice the water get thick and gooey - this is the mucilage and pectin coming out. Simmering the mixture after this further extracts other constituents.
Now the marshmallow extract just requires some sweetening, a little vanilla to flavour, and something to give some firmness to the structure. Options for this include egg whites, gelatin, gum tragacanth or agar (these last two are vegan options). I chose gelatin for this recipe, however I would also add egg white next time for increased fluffiness.
Apart from the fun of making this herbal creation, why is Marshmallow such a wonderful herb to grow and use? This soft and gentle healer, Althaea officinalis, has much to offer us as plant medicine. The soothing properties of Marshmallow root heal hot, inflamed and irritated conditions of the body, whether this is in the form of a sore throat, chronic cough, stomach ulcer, reflux, burning urination or eczema on the skin. Research has shown the anti-inflammatory action of Marshmallow to be superior to medication (1), and the protective qualities have been shown to also enhance the immune response to heal infections in the gut and skin (2).
To use Marshmallow root as medicine, infuse 1-2 tsp of dried root in a half cup of cold water for 2 hours. Top up with boiling water and drink as a tea. Marshmallow root also extracts well as a glycetract.
Sweetener note: honey can be used for this recipe, however I chose not to as the recipe requires boiling the honey which is seen to be toxic in Ayurveda. On a practical note, the heaviness of honey can mean it falls to the bottom of the marshmallows, and the flavour can be a bit overpowering.
1 - (Beaune, A. and Balea, T. [Anti-inflammatory experimental properties of marshmallow: its potentiating action on the local effects of corticoids]. Therapie 1966;21(2):341-347)
2 - (Recio MC and et al. Antimicrobial activity of selected plants employed in the Spanish Mediterranean area, Part II. Phytother Res 1989;3:77-80)
Geranium is a beautiful and under appreciated medicinal herb that is a delight to have in the garden. Commonly known as Rose geranium, Pelargonium graveolens has a delicious sweet and spicy scent when the heat from the sun releases the essential oils into the air. These precious oils are responsible for much of Geranium’s healing effects, and one of the easiest ways to harness these oils is to infuse the fresh plant in water - such as in this refreshing Geranium Summer Infusion recipe! Geranium is easy to grow, requires little care and can be grown from a cutting. The flowers are edible and can be added to salads and deserts.
Healing with Geranium
Geranium is a safe and restoring herb, replenishing us when we have burnt out our resources due to overwork, illness or stress. Having a special affinity with our hormonal system, geranium gently restores our energy, relaxes and uplifts the mind, relieves depression and irritability. For women, geranium is a wonderful ally to balance the reproductive system, helping PMS, menstrual difficulties, infertility and menopausal symptoms.
Geranium tightens tissues in the body, reducing water retention, inflammation and swelling. Topically, geranium can be used to soothe and heal wounds, sprained muscles, bleeding, inflammation and rashes such as eczema and herpes. For these conditions, apply a compress by soaking a cloth in a geranium infusion and placing over the area several times a day.
To Prepare Geranium Summer Infusion
The amounts used can be adjusted to taste. The floral, spicy tones of geranium combine well with the zesty tang of lemon, making for an attractive and tasty summer time drink that is both refreshing and restoring.
These patties are light in texture and tasty to eat while being incredibly good for you. Just four patties provides a third of your daily fibre requirements to feed your gut bacteria and support digestion, detoxification and blood sugar balance.