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Fall is definitely here - the earth is littered with leaves of all colors, the trees are beginning to show their bare branches, and cooler weather is finally here to stay. I am head over heels in love with how strong the shifting of the seasons is in the Northeast - something that was so subtle in Florida. I have been doing my best to nourish and prepare for the upcoming winter by drinking warming and aromatic infusions, making sure to move my body on a regular basis, taking daily immune tonics (lookin' at you, astragalus), and eating soups - lots of soups.
One if my favorite parts about herb school is our potluck dinner - David invites us to say a prayer, and then we all line up, eagerly awaiting the myriad of 20-30 dishes in front of us (which, I do admit, leads to some not-so-ideal food combining). Anyway, I have been bringing soups as my potluck dish lately, often making a triple batch of whatever soup it as my meal prep for the week. So far I've made a carrot ginger soup with apples that I picked myself, a creamy coconut cauliflower soup that was quite the hit, and the soup I am going to share with you all today - Spiced Leek Soup.
This soup is rich in vitamin K, B-vitamin folate, and flavonoid kaempferol due to the abundance of leeks, warming due to the aromatic spices, and satisfying due to the nuts and unblended vegetables. Throw on some toasted walnuts, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprig of fennel and you've got a perfect potluck dish that is delicious and impressive!
// SPICED LEEK SOUP \\
Inspired by this leek soup + saved by my step-mom Mary's intuitive knowledge of spice mixing, which really brought the soup from mediocrity into greatness!
- The Aromatics
- 2 tbsp avocado or olive oil
- 3 leeks, chopped
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 5 sprigs of thyme, leaves minced (and use the stems for a respiratory-supporting tea while you cook!)
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- generous shakes cinnamon + mildly generous shake cayenne
- The Bulk
- 1 fennel bulb, chopped
- 1-2 medium apples, chopped (I leave the skins on- that's where the bulk of the nutrients are!)
- 1/2 roasted walnut halves (roast the nuts before you get chopping)
- The Broth
- 1/2-1 tsp salt + freshly ground pepper
- 4 cups vegetable stock (I used full sodium)
- Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Once warm, add the aromatics and sauté until the leeks and onions are soft (about 5 minutes.)
- Add the chopped fennel and apples, stirring often, and sauté until the fennel begins to soften.
- Once the fennel is soft, add your toasty walnuts and let sauté another 5-6 minutes.
- Now add your S&P and vegetable broth, bringing the soup to a boil and then allowing it to simmer for about 15 minutes, or until your apples and fennel are your desired softness.
- Let the soup cool a bit and then blend about half of it in a blender, carefully. Taste the blended part of the soup and adjust your spices and salt/pepper accordingly (you can never use too much cayenne or turmeric in my opinion)
- Combine the blended portion with the unblended portion until mixed well. If eating right away, bring the combined soup to a boil and then let cool a bit - this will allow your newly added spices to mix together better! Top with optional fennel and/or thyme sprigs, and toasted walnuts
This really is a perfect fall soup, especially if you have access to an apple orchard and you can pick your own apples for it. The cumin and coriander aren't traditional fall flavors, but this soup really hits the spot on a cold NYC day in the office (and, although microwaves creep me out, I just learned you can safely microwave mason jars - hellooo warm homemade soups for lunch!)
With that said, enjoy this soup - and enjoy fall. Take time to be still, go on long walks underneath the amber trees, and take care of yourself. We spend so much time go-go-going, and, despite the fact that the holiday season (which begins with Halloween in my opinion) tells us rush-rush-rush, fall and winter really are about rest, quiet, and some solitude. Allow yourself to let go and sleep in a little bit when you can, or curl up with some Spiced Leek Soup and catch up on all the Parks and Recreation you missed in the past 2 years without TV (aka the only way I kept myself in bed and not go-go-going post wisdom tooth surgery.)
Anyway, until next time, and with love,
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The summer solstice is upon us (specifically, at 6:51am tomorrow morning, here in Florida). This means that tomorrow is the longest day of the year for those of us in the Northern hemisphere, and the shortest night of the year! It also means tomorrow is the first official day of summer!
For me, summer is welcomed with open arms: sunbathing, heavy, cleansing rain, good music, and catching up with old friends. While summer no longer means sitting around doing nothing all day (farewell, childhood), it does imply a certain level of recuperation and relaxation. Spring was such a rush - a rush through finals, a rush to study for the GRE, and a rush to graduation. Then there was the existential crisis of "oh my god I graduated what do I do now who am I?!" If my body and mind need anything right now - it's nourishment for a seriously frazzled nervous system! And I'd bet yours could use the same. Thankfully, herbalism comes to the rescue.
In Traditional Western Herbalism, we call herbs for the nervous system nervines.
Simply, Nervines are herbs that soothe and/or strengthen our central nervous system. They can be relaxing (Chamomile, Skullcap), or simply nourishing (Fresh Milky Oats). Over time, these herbs help us reduce stress and anxiety, and rebuild our frayed and burnt out nerves. I consider them essential parts of any mental health herbal protocol - and I use them in every formula for my patients!
Last night, I realized I was out of my favorite nervine tea blend, so I decided to whip up an extra big batch. I'm currently in the process of moving, and taking a little bit of each herb from a pound bag each morning just isn't time efficient. Think of making big batches of dried nervine tea as meal prep for your nervous system.
In honor of the Summer Solstice, I decided to post a summer-inspired variation of one of my favorite nervine teas. I hope it brings you relaxation, self-love, and allows you to take some time for yourself, even if it is only the 15 or so minutes it takes to brew and drink a cup of tea.
Thank God It's Summer - Nervine Tea Recipe*
makes 1/2 cup tea blend, use 1 tsp-1 tbsp per cup of boiling water, let steep 10 minutes
- 2 tbsp Roses
- 2 tbsp Lemon Balm
- 1 tbsp Oatstraw
- 1 tbsp Skullcap
- 1 tbsp Reishi mushroom
- 1 tbsp Lemongrass
- 1/2-1 tbsp Lavender flowers
- add honey to desired sweetness
If you want to be extra magical, blend this mixture tonight and leave it out all day tomorrow in a covered glass jar, starting at 6:50am, to make a potent Sun Tea! It will be infused with the solar, energizing energy of the Sun and the Summer Solstice, and it will nourish you on a whole new, energetic level.
I hope you have a beautiful Summer Solstice, a safe summer, and that you get to soak up some of tomorrow's vitamin D and vitalizing energies! Allow the Summer Solstice to be a reminder of all the hard work you have done since the Winter Solstice in December. If you graduated, I am so proud of you! If you made it through another semester - good job! If you survived the months between now and then - you did it, you are here, and I am proud of you too!
In love and ~light~,
This New Moon could not have come at more perfect time.
As someone who has a tendency to go-go-go and someone who has a tendency to practice escapism when the going gets rough, tuning into the Moon and her rhythms has been an essential part of my mental and physical self-care. The New Moon invites us to sit down with ourselves, to be quiet, and to turn inwards. Its arrival acts as an external reminder to tend to my internal waters, make sure everything is flowing smoothly, and, if it's not, listen to what my mind and body need. More often than not, what they need is to relax! To stop checking Facebook and Instagram, to stop reading a book or article every free second I have, and to take a deep breath and actually relax.
On that note, today I decided to put my feet up, literally. I have been writing down "herbal foot bath" on my To Do list for the past three weeks, never once finding (or creating) the time to sit down and just relax.. But today I told my partner Diego to come over right away because we were doing a foot bath before he went to work, goshdarnit! The time we took for ourselves was short, only 15-20 minutes, but it was worth it.
If you are like me and have a hard time taking time for yourself, I invite you to set aside a measly 20 minutes to sit back, soak your feet, and relax!
What You'll Need
- 1-2 quarts boiling water
- 1-2 cups dried herbs
- a container to soak your feet
- optional: a warm compress for your eyes, lavender oil for your temples, or soft music in the background
I wanted to feel relaxed, but also rejuvenated and ready to tackle the rest of the day, so The Herbs I Used Were
- 1/2 C lemon balm
- 1/2 C oatmeal
- 1/2 C rose petals
- 3 tbsp peppermint
- 2 tbsp fennel seeds
- 2 tbsp lavender
Other options are
- Relaxing herbs: lavender, roses, lemon balm, spearmint, chamomile, passionflower
- Uplifting herbs: lemon balm, peppermint, fennel, basil, lemon peel, rosemary, sage
- Boil 1-2 cups of water on the stove
- Put 1-2 cups of your herbal bath blend into a mason jar, using 1 cup of herbs per quart of water
- Pour the boiling water in a mason jar //or// add your herbs directly to the pot
- Let this "tea" steep for at 10 minutes
- Pour the tea, strained or unstrained, it's up to you, into the container you will soak your feet in
- Wait until it's the temperature you want, or add a few ice cubes and a little cold water
- Dip your feet, take a deep breath, and relax
It's a small gesture, but taking the time out for an herbal footbath can really make the difference in a hectic day. Currently, I am in the middle of packing for Medicines from the Earth, preparing packaged teas for the counseling center I work for, formulating for a new client, and waiting for an old friend to come over. This herbal footbath was the perfect mid-day activity to quiet my mind and renew my senses. It reminded me of how much relaxing you can really do in less than 30 minutes. Pair this foot bath with a cup of relaxing, nourishing tea, and you're good to go.
Have a beautiful, safe, and nourishing New Moon!
Syrups have easily become one of my favorite ways to take herbs. I formulated a delicious, peppermint-bark tasting Elderberry syrup over the winter - but now it's Spring, and local, native Spanish Needle is making her return everywhere in my backyard, and she's been calling me. With the New Moon approaching this afternoon, I've been feeling really creative and decided it was a good time to whip up a batch of syrup again.
This time, I decided to add Spanish Needle to the brew.
This beautiful. constantly blooming plant is an herbal power-house. She is anti-bacterial and anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and even mildly analgesic... What that means is that she's great for preventing sickness, giving your immune system a boost, and dulling any painful cold or flu like symptoms you currently have. I combined fresh Biden's leaves with Elderberries (of which there is significant research on their ability to treat the flu) and Elecampane, an anti-septic herb that I find tasty, but many don't (so it's optional!) Better yet, both Spanish Needle and Elder grow wild in Orlando, and are in abundance (for now!). So get your scissors, turn on the stove, and ask Bidens for a few of her leaves.
Spanish Needle Spring-Time Syrup Recipe
- Bring one 1 qt water to a boil, then add
- 2 oz Elderberries (dried)
- 2 oz Spanish Needle leaves (fresh)
- 1 oz Peppermint lf (dried)
- 1 oz Elecampane root (dried) (optional, if not, add 1 oz of another herb)
- Allow this to simmer for 45-60 minutes, then let steep overnight
- In the morning, strain your tea, and bring it to room temperature
- Then add
- 1/2 - 1 cup raw honey (not for babies under 2 years old!)
- 1-2 oz tincture (I use Echinacea, but you could use Reishi, Rose Hip, Astragalus, etc)
- 2 drops Peppermint essential oil
- 1/4-1/2 cup fresh Lemon juice or raw Apple Cider Vinegar
- Mix together, and store in the refrigerator for ~6 months.
Whenever I'm feeling run down or like my immune system is becoming compromised, I sip on 1/4 a cup of this as needed. It's delicious in sparkling water (with strawberry simple syrup!), or drank on its own. You can use it as an immune booster, or a sore-throat soother (along with Mullein).
The material contained on this web site is intended solely for educational purposes and no responsibility is assumed for consequences resulting from the misuse of botanical preparations.