The use of oils extracted from plants has been around since the time of the Pharoes in Egypt. Wise men brought Jesus frankincense and myrrh as gifts befitting a king. Before modern synthetic drugs, essential oils from plants were used to help with all sorts of aliments. They were medicine.
Today's aromatherapy is distinctly different. The term aromatherapy wasn't even around until the first half of the twentieth century. Nobel prizes recipients Otto Wallach and Adolf von Baeyer won their award based on their research and contributions in uncovering the secrets of essential oils. While medicinal essential oils are mainly used in other countries, we have been accustomed to going to the doctor, getting a prescription, and doing as told no questions asked.
How does it work?
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils to help you emotionally and physically. Have you ever gone to the beach and just the smell of the salt in the air made you relax? That's because your smell receptors in your nose sends messages through your nervous system to the part of the brain that controls emotion. In fact there is a part of the nervous system called the lymbic system which specifically causes your body to react based on scent.
When essential oils are applied topically (on the skin) not only do you get the effects from the smell but your body absorbs it. It diffused through the skin and gets right to work where it is needed. Taking a pill that has to go to your stomach and digested can take hours or longer.
I do not recommend getting oils for what ever reason and just placing them on your body. Some need to be diluted before use. Not knowing how to use oils or what is best for your needs causes confusion and dislike of them.
Don't be discouraged! The benefits of using essential oils can be obtained by asking the right people. Not everyone who sells essential oils are there to help you and not just make a profit. You want someone who studies them to know what is best for you.
Here at Willows Bend Farm Alisa Strunk wants to help you find the right essential oils in the right form for you. She believes in helping you find what is best for you is better than just giving you a generic answer to things. Making sure it comes from pure, therapeutic grade oils and is mixed correctly is how she helps you. If you ever have any questions as to what is best for you she will make time for you! Either in store or online you are her top priority.
Good morning everyone!! Hope you are having a wonderful day.
Its been one week of me being on the farm now. One of the things I learned is that Sandy and I have the same birthday. I was so happy to find this out because most of my closest people in my life have had my birthday. Sundays are for rest, relaxation, and spiritual growth. Most days go by so fast because of how busy it is here. There is always something to do.
To you guys that don’t know me, I am a Christian that believes that God has a plan for me in each step I make. I don’t believe in coincidences I think everything happens for a reason. I think God has placed me here to learn from Sandy and Alisa. So far, I can tell you that I know that both of them live a Christian life. Being selfless and letting someone come stay with them is an amazing way of showing me that God will provide for me even in my darkest times. The devil will not win.
I also crochet a lot. I have been behind on my work because of trying to get into the swing of things and need to learn how to balance things out. I love crocheting and would do it all the time if allowed. Learning how to balance my days is a good thing for me.
I am also a mother of two. My son is almost 17 and lives with my sister for right now. He is going to be getting his drivers license real soon. He has grown up so fast and is adjusting very well. My daughter is 12 and she has been living with her father, so she hasn’t had to deal with the change at all. Other than on the weekends she comes and so far, she loves it here too.
The farm has been so wonderful to me. It is a place of peace and calmness, a place to heal, not only with my injured arm but mind as well. Alisa makes the most wonderful meals ever and I hope to help her in the kitchen one day. Just not knowing how to cook it will take a lot for me to learn. The spices all around and the oils to learn how they work is also something that will take me some time. The one thing that is great to me too is the green house. This time of year, it is empty and it will take some time to get it ready then in the spring it will come alive. I think it is something I am going to love.
The chickens still make me laugh all the time. A rooster crows then the others try to beat him in being louder and there is one that will use his whole body and see him stretch his legs and whole body. It’s like I can be just as big as the others and I can do better. He shakes his feathers afterward and looks like he has done it. Then another will crow, and it goes in a circle of them trying to beat each other. It’s a great sound to me. I love watching and hearing them all around.
This week I will be at my mom’s house most of the time. So, I will be back here soon. Till next time.
Hi everybody, hope you are having a wonderful day today!
So, on Facebook you see these posts saying “live here rent free for a year but no smartphone. No internet. Can you do it?” I was one saying yes l can. Well, being here I have learned one thing. NO, I CAN’T! Learning how to not have my phone is not easy. I have my phone, but you must do a dance, sing a song, lift one foot up, hold your tongue right and maybe find service. Not everyone has this problem. Its my service. I love my service but might have to investigate somewhere else. You don’t know how much you miss something till its gone. I am so using to playing games at bedtime. Now I just go to sleep.
The only time I am really missing it is with my crocheting. I look up new things to do and my patterns are not as easy to get to. Good thing most are in my head and I can do without a pattern now. So, if you think you could do it. I say go a day without it. It is a lot harder than it sounds.
The good part is my two cats, Snickers and Patches, are getting use to the place. First, they were running away from everything and freaking out. Now they are starting to play a little. They like it here too. Sandy isn’t a cat person (loves all animals but just not his number one), but Patches has been able to get some love from him too.
So, I said I want to learn more each day. So today is Lavender. It’s my favorite color. All purples are really. Just I noticed that it is in the cream and oil I use for my shoulder (Big Guns and Moontime back and belly). I love my cream and oil because I can move my arm most of the day without pain, also it smells wonderful.
So yesterday someone said they needed lavender to cook with. What? Really? No way I heard that right. Yes!! Very little goes a long way, but it is used in some recipes. I was shocked to learn this. Like I said I make things from a box kit. I can bake some and I can cook very little. Nothing like what Alisa does here. Let me tell you, if you live close by and have not ordered from here you are so missing out on things.
Back to Lavender. Did you know it can be used on bug bites and stings too? I never knew this. Burn yourself, use lavender. This summer maybe after I get sunburned, I will see how good it will be. Its and antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. It can even be used to keep bugs away. Helps you relax and calm down. How can something do so much but only time I ever hear of it is with relaxing. It has been used all the way back to Roman times. So, if you were alive back then and went to the medicine man you were probably going to get something with lavender in it.
It amazes me how much I must learn here. It will be an adventure.
Let me first introduce myself. I am Tracy Saunders. The most I know about herbs and spices is what box kit I can get from the store to mix with hamburger. As with the oils, well let’s just say I like the smell of them. I never knew that they had anything but a good smell in a candle. I found myself in a very hard situation. I was going to be homeless. I had nowhere to go and didn’t know what to do. My sister, Angela, told me she spoke with someone that I can stay with and help on the farm.
A farm, right. I am thinking I’m going to be milking cows and getting up with the chickens having to do labor. The reason I was going to be homeless was from a work injury to where I can no longer use my left arm as well as I once could. So, my sister goes on to tell me it will be fine. I can help in other areas.
This was all a shock to the system for me. My first visit to Willows Bend Farm was very intimidating. I knew nothing of what they had or what was here. I came inside and the smells were so amazing to me. Alisa was cooking and I got my first impression of her. She is so welcoming, calming, and beautiful. She sees I am nervous and gives me a hug. It was like all my fears were for nothing.
This farm is not what you think it is by the way. There are peacocks and chickens running around. Yes there are pigs and a beautiful huge turkey. What I see that makes this farm different is the feeling you get. There is a restaurant here that the food is organic and amazing. There is every kind of herb and spice you can think of. The oils, creams, and rubs for healing. So here I am not knowing anything about anything here. I know how to get the eggs from the chickens. I know how to do the dishes. I can do little things here and there, but I want to learn. With that I wanted to share with you what I do learn here. So many people don’t know anything about any of this and it will be our journey together.
So far, I have been here almost a week. I have found that chickens are very picky about where they lay their eggs and they do like to fuss at you. I had a good conversation with a chicken yesterday. I kept trying to ignore her. She didn’t let that happen. Her coop someone wasn’t to her liking and it needed to have some attention and I thought I was going crazy talking back to her. I made my way to the coop fixed what needed to be fixed and she left me alone. I looked around like if someone just saw me talking to a chicken, they would think I lost my mind. Then I told my cat about it and we laughed. So yes I like to talk to animals as if they can understand me and I pretend to understand them.
I have also learned what Big Guns cream is used for. My injury I told you about, my left shoulder, I can not use it a lot of the day and have been in pain for months. Well they gave me this cream and I thought why not. I was shocked. I can move my arm more and do more. That does not mean I don’t have pain sometimes. I have been using it more that at first to make sure it can help and it shocks me each time. I have been able to do more each day and it smells wonderful too.
So my next step to this journey is to learn what the oils are for and then I can share them with you. Hope you stay with me on this journey and we can share some laughs along the way. If at all you have any questions, please feel free to ask. I won’t have a clue the answers but I know of this amazing woman who does.
Hello my good friends and friends I don’t know yet! Some of you are aware that we are expanding! Up until now we have been working and selling organic herbs, spices, seasoning blends, essential oils and aromatherapy from a room in our house and at farmers markets and at other community events. We are ready to move on to the next level. We have begun construction on our new retail space and certified kitchen. It will still be at Willows Bend Farm, right in front of the greenhouse.
-The awesome motley crew that helped erect the arches.
Let me tell you what is in the plan. First, the retail section will be a low waste, primarily self service collection of over one hundred herbs (including one of the largest selection of medicinal herbs in the Richmond metropolitan area), spices, seasoning blends, teas and coffee. We buy organic and free trade whenever possible and continue to find local growers for those herbs which will grow in our climate. Shoppers can bring their own containers, tare them out on the scale, and fill them. If you don’t have your own container, zip top bags will be provided free, or you can purchase a mylar pouch, a glass jar or metal tin. This reduces waste and helps keep costs low. How low? A friend just brought in her regular sized spice jar and filled it with oregano for less than $1.00! Yes, way lower than grocery stores.
-Herbs display at one of the farmers markets with mylar pouches.
We also have a good selection of black and green teas, and herbal tea blends that I make, often custom blended. Equal Exchange Organic Free Trade coffee is our main source of coffee right now, but we plan to explore local roasters to add to our favorite, Love Buzz.
In addition to herbs, tea and coffee, we will offer a selection of bulk raw nuts, Bob’s Red Mill products and we also have a grain mill to grind fresh flour. As the weather warms, we will offer seasonal vegetables, micro greens and sprouts and of course, fresh herbs and herb plants.
The other part of the retail space will hold our essential oils and aromatherapy products. Products that help our bodies heal like Migraine Relief, Joint Relief and Anxiety Away have consistently been our best sellers, with many repeat customers. We offer a huge selection of single pure essential oils and blend them to create all our aromatherapy products. Sometimes our customers make their own blends using our oils which we sell even by the drop, if need be, so that you don’t have to buy a whole bottle of something of which you may use only a tiny amount. Which brings me to the next facet of the Emporium at Willows Bend Farm.
-Lovely display of our blue bottles for body oils and spritzers.
My research library will be available for browsing while at the Emporium. Pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea and take some quiet time to read and learn. Find a formula you want to try and make it in the workshop. My library includes books on herbs, essential oils, gardening, cooking, healthy living, sustainable living, homesteading and more! I will offer for sale some of my favorite titles.
We will also be giving formal classes on the above topics as well as home arts such as cooking, sewing, needlework and such. We will be bringing in people to teach a variety of subjects and share their experiences. If you have some area of expertise, you can teach at Willows Bend Farm as well. We have a tag along program, where you can work alongside me while I formulate essential oils and herbal blends. Apprenticeships and internships are also available.
Our “employees” work in exchange for products and formal classes. They find working for Willows Bend Farm is a therapeutic experience in itself, and we welcome people of all abilities to volunteer for a shift, whether that shift is an hour or a day, once in awhile or every day. The whole place, including the kitchen and bathroom, is designed so that wheelchairs can easily maneuver.
As mentioned above, the other part of the new Emporium will be the certified kitchen. In this kitchen we will be able to make and sell ready made foods. Originally, this was planned so that I could make a healthful chicken soup chocked full of herbs that you need when you are sick, but don’t have the energy to make for yourself. The idea blossomed into “What’s Cooking?” which will feature guest cooks and chefs making their favorite meals which customers can order earlier in the day or at the beginning of the week for pick up on their way home. Ready to eat or reheat, healthy, delicious, real food, using local ingredients whenever possible! Because we will have the certified kitchen, we can also give cooking and baking classes as well as rent out the kitchen to local producers who want to be able to market and sell that great tasting salsa or other specialty.
The room that the Emporium currently occupies, will become a quiet room for meditation, perhaps a traveling massage therapist, and will also be where I continue to give my free consultations on healthy living and incorporating herbs and oils for vibrant health. We will also continue to give farm tours to individuals and groups, including home school groups, day care centers, and garden clubs.
-Inside of Emporium February of 2014
So you can see this is going to be a very community oriented place, a Place of Peace to come visit with the animals, sit or paint in the garden, putter in the greenhouse, have a picnic, read in the library, take a class or all of the above! Of course all of this takes an incredible amount of money to pull off. More money, in fact, than we anticipated when we started this venture. We have erected the shell of the steel arch building on a concrete slab that is so strong it can act as a storm shelter. We have gathered some used equipment and some new for the kitchen. Our local Discount Lumber place is saving us some money and we have a small crew of amazing people who are helping us. But due to everything costing thousands more than we expected, we are looking for some crowd funding, something like Kickstarter, but without having to pay a percentage to an organization like that. To this end, I am offering several options of support for Willows Bend Farm to get some working capital to get this building finished as soon as possible. We anticipate opening early spring and will celebrate with a ribbon cutting ceremony by the Dinwiddie County Chamber of Commerce. Please consider helping to get this incredible venture capitalized. Even if you don’t have the funds to purchase anything right now, spread the word! Share on social media. Tell your friends. Stop by and see how we are coming along and give us an encouraging word. Thank you so much, my friends!
Option 1: Gift Certificates.
Can be used towards products or classes.
Save 5% on gift certificates up to $99. Save 10% on gift certificates from $100 to $199. Save 20% on gift certificates totaling $200 or more. Gift certificates can be used in store, or online with a coupon code.
Option 2: Essential Oil of the Month.
$60 per year, $35 for 6 months
Each month receive a 5 mL bottle of essential oil and a card describing the use and safety.
Option 3: Herb of the Month.
$30 per year, $18 for 6 months
Each month receive a monograph and one ounce of the selected herb.
.Option 4: Herbal Tea of the Month.
$30 per year, $18 for 6 months
Get a different herbal tea each month.
Option 5: Tea of the Month.
$48 per year, $25 for 6 months
One ounce of Green or black tea per month to include naturally flavored and fruited teas as well.
Option 6: Coffee Subscription.
Get ½ lb. of premium coffee per week: $28 for one month (4 half pound bags), $55 for 2 months (8 half pound bags), $82 for 3 months (13 half pound bags), $150 for 6 months (26 half pound bags) and $299 for a year (52 half pound bags).
Get 1 lb. of premium coffee each week: $55 for one month (4 bags) , $105 for 2 month (8 bags), $160 for 3 months (13 bags), $290 for 6 months (26 bags) , $550 for a year (52 bags).
Option 7: Classes.
Classes will be offered in a wide array of subjects. This subscription will allow you to use a certificate for any 2 hr. class regardless of the full price.
1 to 4 classes $28 each, 5 to 9 classes $26 each, 10 to 19 classes $24 each, 20 to 52 classes $20 each
Option 8: Painting Sessions.
We have easels, paint brushes, canvases and acrylic paints available for individuals to take into the garden and paint. Our regular price is $10 per session. A discount is applied for up front purchase of:
5 sessions for $47.50, 10 sessions for $90, 20 sessions for $160, paint once a week, every week for a year for $400 (52 sessions) You may also divide your purchase among several people.
Option 9: Perpetual Remembrance Gift
Donate $100 (or more) in memory or honor of someone you love (including yourself) and a rose or other perennial shrub or tree will be planted, tended with care and a have an identifying tag with the name of your loved one.
Option 10: Create your own option!
Got a fund raising idea? Let us know!
Thank you all for your continued support of Willows Bend Farm. We appreciate each person who visits our little slice of heaven.
To purchase or just to chat, Contact Alisa and Sanford Strunk at Willows Bend Farm, 20413 Carson Rd. Dinwiddie, VA 23841 (804) 892-7588 firstname.lastname@example.org
Willows Bend Farm will continue with our festival set up here at the farm tomorrow. This is a good opportunity to see some of the new products we have, and stock up on your favorites.
Just a quick peek this morning. What I am not showing you is all the weeds I have to pull! Volunteers welcome!
This is the bones of the class I gave at Boulevard Flower Gardens on March 19, 2016. If you come to the classes, I flesh it out with stories and more detailed information. If you have any questions, you may e-mail me. Thanks! ~Alisa
“Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food” ~ Hippocrates
After all these years, I think we are finally coming to understand this seemingly forgotten piece of lore. Generations before ours cooked and included herbs in their daily lives without even thinking about it. The daily inclusion of medicinal herbs in small quantities kept people healthy, quietly acting on all the systems of the body. When an illness did happen, the quantity of the herbs was increased to a medicinal dose. Teas, tinctures and poultices were made using herbs right outside their doorsteps. Or they would simply add a few handfuls more herbs to their soups and stews for healthful results. Remember Grandma’s chicken soup? It was healing for a few reasons. First it was made and administered with love—which is important when making herbal remedies. Then, the steaming broth opened nasal passages and made the herbs she included easier to assimilate from inhalation as well as digestion. Grandma may not have known the words antiseptic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, or antiviral, but she instinctively knew, or remembered from oral tradition of spoken wisdom, which herbs were most helpful for a particular ailment.
Herb gardens of the past typically contained many more herbs than we consistently use today, but there are still many common herbs that can help us stay healthy and alleviate dis-ease. We can begin with a song. Who remembers Scarborough Fair? It is an ancient song, but I remember Simon and Garfunkle’s version:
“Are you going to Scarborough Fair
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine”
So parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme must have been held in high regard, and so they are today among chefs and herbalists alike. We will see what properties these herbs possess that keeps them in such high esteem but I can’t stop there, so I have included six more wonderful herbs most anyone can grow. It was hard to limit myself to just these, but today we will also explore peppermint, chamomile, lavender, lemon balm, catnip and passionflower.
• High in B Vitamins, iron, beta-carotene, Vitamin C & chlorophyll
• Helps alleviate anemia and fatigue
• Diuretic useful in bladder and kidney problems
• Helps dry up mother’s milk when weaning
• Good poultice for mastitis
• Breath sweetener
• Aids digestion
• Helps lower cholesterol
• Astringent or drying action helps reduce sweating- good ingredient to include in deodorant
• Helps dry up mother’s milk when weaning
• Mild hormonal stimulant good for hot flashes and night sweats
• Antiseptic, warming and strengthening for fighting colds and flu
• Anti-inflammatory for throat and tonsils making it a good sore throat and laryngitis remedy
• Good ingredient to include in mouthwash, especially for mouth sores or canker sores
• Enhances memory
• Legendary brain tonic, enhances memory
• Mild stimulant
• Increases oxygen to the brain to ease headache and migraines
• Relieves mild to moderate depression
• Aids in poor circulation and low blood pressure, yet can lower high blood pressure by strengthening veins, arteries and capillaries.
• Mild analgesic
• Anti-inflammatory good for joint pain and arthritis
• Helps digest fats and starches
• Antiseptic makes it good for mouth sores
• Combats hair loss and greying.
• Antiseptic good for treating colds and sore throat
• Disinfectant for wounds and household surfaces
• Anti-spasmodic action for relieving asthma, stomach cramps and whooping cough
• Germicide used in mouthwash and gargles (key ingredient in old fashioned Lysterine)
• Expels mucus from the head making it good for bronchitis
• Helps almost all digestive issues, controls gas, nausea, diarrhea, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and irritable bowel syndrome
• Stimulant for restoring energy
• Freshens breath
• Gentle herb suitable for children
• Calms nervous stress
• Soothes colic and stomach aches
• Boosts immune system
• Beneficial for a good night’s sleep and remedy for nightmares, often can replace night time pain medication for headache or general aches and pains
• Induces sweating to reduce fever
• Relaxing and soothing in the bath and makes an excellent addition to massage oil
• CAUTION: May trigger an allergic reaction for those who are also allergic to ragweed.
• Mild antidepressant both calming and uplifting
• Relieves stress
• Relieves tension headaches and migraines when combined with feverfew
• Good for insomnia
• Used during childbirth as a gentle pain reliever and in the first bath of the newborn
• Antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic makes it useful in treating colds and flu, staph and strep
• Antiseptic good for treating wounds and burns
• Antispasmodic for calming stomach cramps and useful for treating irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease
• Pain reliever for insect bites and bee stings
• Calming nervine lifts the spirits
• Antispasmodic to digestive and nervous system
• Mild sedative for insomnia
• Alleviates heartache and grief
• Calms children with ADHD
• Antiviral good against herpes and shingles
• Delicious and refreshing
• Stress relief for adults and children
• Lowers fever
• Eases pain of teething
• Settles the stomach
• Eases diarrhea and other digestive issues
• Relieves colic
• Helps calm a fussy child
• Helps normalize blood pressure
• Decreases the desire for cigarettes
• Improves circulation
• Helps to reduce fatigue from muscle exhaustion
• Reduces swelling especially under the eyes
• Quiets the mind, especially repeating thought loops
• Used to treat epilepsy in its native South America
• Useful against anxiety and panic attacks
• Helps calm hyperactive children, helps focus
• Analgesic for toothache, headache and menstrual pain
• Antispasmodic for cramps and spastic muscles
• Sleep inducing
• Antibacterial against eye infections
CULTIVATION & PROPAGATION
Herbs are relatively easy to grow and propagate. Most like a sunny spot and do not require much in the way of added nutrients. They like to have well drained soil, not soggy or too much clay. Add compost if your soil is overly compacted.
Parsley is a biannual which means it produces leaves the first season and flowers the next, producing seeds when then drop and renew the cycle. It has a long tap root and does not transplant, nor divide well. The best way to propagate it is by seed, so let it flower. In a sheltered spot it will often reseed itself for a perpetual crop year after year.
Sage is a woody perennial that will grow into a bush of about two feet high if in a preferred spot. Sometimes they will get too woody and leggy and will benefit from pruning in the spring. It can be propagated by seed and by cuttings.
Rosemary is a tender perennial normally hardy in our zone 7 but the harsh periods of subfreezing weather the last few years have taken their toll even on well established bushes. Rosemary grows about three feet high with older stems turning quite woody. Protect it from prolonged periods of cold by wrapping in burlap. Cuttings are the preferred method of propagation.
Thyme is a quite hardy perennial in this zone 7. From year to year it can get straggly looking and so can benefit from pruning. It can be propagated from cuttings or by scattering several seeds to a pot.
Peppermint is a perennial which needs plenty of space to roam and indeed can find its way into your lawn or garden if not kept in check. I don’t worry about it going into the grassy area because I simply mow it. But if you have a more formal look, you can try growing it in a container which can be partially sunk into the ground. Mints produce spreading shallow root along which pop up new plants. It also runs above the ground, rooting wherever the leave nodules touch the ground. Propagation is done by root division and by cuttings.
Chamomile is a self-seeding annual, flowering in the first year and dropping thousands of seeds to come up again the following year. It creeps along and also raises its blooms about 8 inches above the ground. It can be propagated by digging up a clump or by seed.
Lavender is another tender perennial treated and propagated much the same as rosemary mentioned above.
Both Lemon Balm and catnip are vigorously growing perennials about 2 feet high. Cuttings and root divisions are the best ways to propagate.
Passionflower is a vine with beautiful flowers. Both the flowers and the leaves are used. It readily reseeds itself and can become quite unruly if it is in an ideal space.
A lovely tea to soothe the tummy and calm the nerves is 3 parts lemon balm, 2 parts chamomile and 1 part peppermint. Mix together and use one tsp of dried herb per cup of water just under the boil. Let steep up to 20 minutes.
For insomnia use 3 parts chamomile, 2 parts lemon balm, 1 part catnip and 1 part passionflower. This combination quiets the mind to promote restful sleep.
Lavender Limeade has been a real hit at every gathering. Make a simple syrup by cooking 1 cup of organic sugar in 1 cup of water. When the sugar has dissolved, add ¼ cup of lavender buds. Let steep until cool and strain. Add this to the juice of 6 limes and add ice and about a quart of water or to taste. Refreshing, delicious!
And of course add parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme to soups, stews and most any poultry dish. Sing while you are making your love infused food or remedy!
Some of my favorite books for beginners:
Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health
Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs A Beginners Guide
The Little Herb Encyclopedia by Jack Ritchason N.D.
Herbs for Healthy Aging by David Hoffmann, FNIMH, AHG
Herbal Teas 101 Nourishing Blends for Daily Health and Vitality by Kathleen Brown and Jean Pollak
Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine http://chestnutherbs.com/blog/
Herbal Academy on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/HerbalAcademyOfNewEngland/?fref=ts
And of course check out our own Willows Bend Farm page https://www.facebook.com/WillowsBendFarm/?fref=ts
Alisa is available by appointment for consultations on incorporating herbs and aromatherapy into healthy living. (804) 892-7588
Willows Bend Farm nursery will have a large selection of potted herbs this spring and you can purchase herbs from the Emporium year round. See our website www.willowsbendfarm.com for a list of the herbs and blends we carry, or give us a call or an e-mail. Willows Bend Farm has one of the largest inventories of medicinal herbs in the Richmond area. We also have culinary herbs, spices, teas and coffee—all organic and free trade whenever available.
Traditional herbal medicine has not been evaluated or approved by the FDA therefore all of this information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any illness. Consult your healthcare professional if your are pregnant, nursing or being treated for any medical condition.
"Healthy eating is too expensive! I can't afford the gas to get to those fancy health stores, and even if I could, I can't pay the prices they want for that stuff. And I don't even know what stuff to buy anyway!"
This is often what I hear when I talk to folks about healthy eating. This idea that eating healthy is something reserved for the elite is a common misconception, but folks need to see for themselves that healthy eating is within their means.
Hopewell is a small city in Virginia trying to climb out of the economic and social depression that has been clouding its development for quite a few years. One of the initiatives the city has adopted is participation in the HEAL campaign. Willows Bend Farm was invited to be a vendor at Hopewell's HEAL Fest and I used that opportunity to talk with folks about incorporating herbs into healthy seasonal eating. I also kept in mind the protests previously mentioned about good food being too expensive, so I decided to illustrate seasonal eating using the humble frittata:
The Seasonal Frittata
One of the most versatile and economical dishes we love to prepare here at Willows Bend Farm is the Frittata. Prepared with our free ranging hens’ eggs with fresh, seasonal produce and herbs, the flavors really pop! By varying the add ins we can create so many different combinations that we rarely have the exact same frittata twice.
The first part of this recipe will be the frittata “template”. This is the egg part which binds all the other seasonal add-ins together. Then simply choose your add-ins according to seasonal availability. Of course not every ingredient, herb or spice has to be something you would find local or seasonal, but this template is a good way to showcase what steps you can take for preparing economical, healthful, and seasonal local food.
Ingredients: 6 eggs, ½ tsp sea salt, ½ tsp turmeric, ground black pepper, 3 T butter (or olive, or coconut oil), ½ medium onion (or scallions, or shallots), add-ins of your choice.
Directions: Choose and prepare your add-ins and spices. You will need about 2 cups of greens or vegetables and 1 tsp total dried herbs and spices. Ground spices tend to be strong, so use about ¼ to ½ tsp of each to taste. You want a tablespoon or more of fresh herbs. (I like to sprinkle in enough to cover the top of my frittata) Cut greens into thin strips. Cut other veggies into bite sized pieces. Parboil starchy vegetables like potatoes, winter squash, sweet potatoes.
Beat the eggs with the salt, pepper, turmeric, and any dried herbs and spices you have chosen, set aside. Heat a 10” or 12” skillet with the oil over medium heat. (if you want to brown the top of your frittata, make sure you use an ovenproof skillet) Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add your chosen, prepared vegetables and sauté until greens are wilted and vegetables are crisp-tender, add a few drops of water if the greens are sticking to the pan. Add more butter or oil if needed, and pour the beaten eggs onto the vegetables, tipping to distribute evenly. Sprinkle with the fresh herbs of your choice. Reduce the heat to low and cover the skillet. Cook until eggs are set (may take up to 15 minutes). Add cheese and either pop under the broiler until cheese browns, or simply replace the cover and let the cheese melt off heat. (That’s what I do because my broiler on my gas range is under the oven and I don’t care for getting down on my hands and knees to cook) If you want to get fancy, invert the frittata onto a plate and then again onto a serving plate to get the cheese on top, but I just serve mine right from the pan.
Spring: Spring is the time when shoots are coming out of the ground, springing forth with new energy. Eating these brings back our vitality that may have become sluggish over the winter months. Don’t overlook the “weeds” that come up at this time of year. Chickweed, dandelion, violets are just a few of the healthful herbs that pop up everywhere in the Spring. Just be sure that your wild foraged greens are positively identified and that they are growing in a clean area, not along the side of the road absorbing toxins.
Add-ins: spinach, chickweed, Swiss chard, nettle, wild lambs quarter, beet tops, baby lettuce, turnip greens, dandelion leaves, fiddlehead fern, sprouts of all sorts (alfalfa, broccoli, radish, pea shoots, etc), asparagus, peas, radishes, scallions and mushrooms. Rosemary stays green all year so there should be some fresh available. Violet flowers, and dandelion petals make a pretty presentation on a bed of baby greens. Serve with fresh strawberries.
Early Summer: The ground is warmed up and our vegetable flowers begin to bear fruit. This is the time to add in squash blossoms, zucchini, broccoli, new potatoes (slice into half moons and parboil first), green beans, cauliflower, kohlrabi, baby beets with their greens, and kale. All the perennial herbs should be available now, try thyme, mint, sage, chives, marjoram, oregano, fennel or tarragon. Calendula petals, borage flowers, rose petals, red clover blossoms, chamomile flowers and even a few lavender buds make a beautiful addition to a mixed lettuce salad. Serve with blackberries and blueberries with lemon balm.
Full Summer: The heat of the summer is upon us and we are seeking vegetables full of the sun. We would still include the early summer vegetables, but now we can add tomatoes, bell and hot peppers, corn, eggplant, and okra. Fresh basil now takes the stage. We also look for something to hydrate and cool us. Cucumbers with chive blossoms and dill make a delicious cool salad. Serve with minted melon with nasturtium blossoms.
Autumn: Fall is a time for gathering. We are turning our minds towards vegetables that have been gathering energy all summer like winter squash, pumpkins, celery, kale, cabbage, collards, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, Sunchokes, shell beans, sweet potatoes, rutabagas, nuts, seeds like amaranth, millet, and grains. Mushrooms make another appearance as the weather cools. Rosemary, horseradish, and yarrow (used sparingly as they are strong flavors) go well with roasted root vegetables. A cabbage and apple salad with nuts would be delicious. Serve with apples.
Winter: Winter is a time to rest, get grounded and return to our roots after our busy summer and fall. We rely on our reserves of produce that has been canned, frozen, dried, preserved, or long storing root vegetables. But we can still grow sprouts on the countertop, and baby lettuce greens can be grown in a cold frame. We can dust the snow off the kale and still harvest. Our add-ins would include dried beans (already cooked), potatoes, beets, leeks or onions. We are looking for warming herbs and spices like ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, curry. We might have cooked greens instead of a salad. Dried fruit compote, or a blackberry cobbler made from preserved fruit may be served.
All of the herbs and spices listed can grow here in Virginia, with the exception of perhaps the black pepper, cinnamon and cardamom. Cayenne pepper or summer savory can be substituted for pepper. Did you know that you can re-grow celery from a head that you buy? Simply cut all the way across all the stalks about two inches from the bottom. Set that bottom in a pot of soil or even in water. It will begin to grow and while it may not grow into fat juicy stalks, at least, you can use the leaves. The tops of beets and turnips will also sprout back up and can be used for greens. Ginger and turmeric can be grown in the ground in the summer, but need to be dug and brought in for the winter. So have fun mixing and matching for your seasonal frittata and enjoy trying new herbs, spices and flowers for fun and for health.
~ Alisa Strunk
Properties of the herbs included in this template: For educational purposes only. None of these statements have been evaluated or approved by the FDA and are in no way meant to diagnose or treat any illness. Do diligent research and consult your healthcare professional if being treated for any medical condition.
Basil- Cleanses the digestive system, reduces nausea and alleviates headaches.
Borage- Cooling properties, mental boost, reduce fevers and systemic cleanser.
Celery- Rich in vitamins and minerals, promotes restful sleep.
Calendula- Promotes cell repair and growth, anti-inflammatory, thrush remedy, nourishes and cleanses the lymphatic system
Chamomile- Cleanses the digestive system, promotes feelings of calm, anti-inflammatory, reduces pain and promotes restful sleep.
Chickweed- High nutritional value, good for liver and kidneys, mild diuretic, stimulates metabolism.
Chives- Stimulates appetite, strengthens digestive system, improves kidney function, lowers blood pressure, restorative after illness.
Dandelion- High vitamin and mineral content, cleanses liver and kidneys, relieves gallstones, helps break down cholesterol and fats, mild diuretic with high potassium content.
Dill- Aids digestion, relieves stomach ache, reduces flatulence, promotes sleep, stimulates the appetite, freshens bad breath.
Fennel- Aids whole digestive system, eliminates feeling bloated, relieves flatulence, calms hiccups, reduces nausea, reduces appetite and promotes weight loss.
Garlic- Cleanses the blood, stimulates immune system, cures sore throats, alleviate asthma, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure.
Ginger- Indigestion, reduce flatulence and diarrhea, stimulates appetite, soothes stomach, tonic, aphrodisiac, reduces fever, motion sickness, relieves pain, lowers cholesterol, blood purifier, reduces blood sugar.
Horseradish- Strong digestive stimulant, antibacterial properties, used to treat bronchitis and expel worms.
Hyssop- Cleansing properties, helps reduce fat in meat and increases tenderness, relieves asthma and rheumatism.
Lavender- Calms and soothes digestive tract, helpful in quieting spasms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Crohn’s Disease, cleanses blood, improves memory, mild anti-depressant, alleviates headaches, promotes restful sleep.
Lemon Balm- Calming, anti-spasmodic, relieves Morning Sickness, increases mental powers and aids concentration, helps ADHD, mild sedative helpful in treating grief and insomnia, effective in treating SAD (seasonal affective disorder), reduces nightmares, antiviral properties make it good for treating herpes and shingles.
Marjoram (and Oregano)- Improves circulation, boosts production of white blood cells to fight infection.
Mint- Aids and soothes digestion, relieves stomach ache, stimulates the mind, freshens breath, antispasmodic, relieves head aches.
Nasturtium- High Vitamin C content, antibiotic properties help ward off sore throats.
Nettle- Rich in vitamins and minerals, especially calcium and iron, useful for growing pains, tonic for the whole system, treats PMS, joint pain, allergies and hay fever, fertility issues, menopause, goat, and exhaustion.
Parsley- Rich in vitamins, freshens breath, diuretic, removes excess water and bloating of PMS, aids digestions and flatulence, anti-inflammatory, hay fever, fever reducer.
Red Clover- Rich in nutrients, blood and lymphatic cleanser, menopausal symptoms of night sweats, hot flashes, mood swings, helps maintain bone density, tumor preventative.
Rose Hips- High vitamin content, especially Vitamin C, diuretic to aid in kidney function.
Rosemary- Stimulates circulation, increases mental alertness, aids digestion, relieves headaches, reduces symptoms of a cold, boosts energy and mood.
Sage- Tonic, strengthens memory, alleviates cold symptoms, improves kidney and liver function, eases joint pain.
Summer Savory- Useful in treating congestion, coughs, colds, makes beans easier to digest, boosts energy.
Thyme- Antiseptic properties, alleviates toothache, enhances sleep.
Turmeric- anti-inflammatory, treats hepatitis, IBS and ulcers, antiseptic, yeast flush, expels worms.
Yarrow- Alleviates cold symptoms, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, helpful in menstrual cramps, reduces fever, stimulates liver function and digestive enzymes.