Desert Family – Chaparral – Larrea Tridentata

In a little less than one month I will be returning to the desert, what used to be the bottom of the sea. Most of think of the desert as a barren landscape with no water, plants, food, or medicine. But I see the desert as a veritable pharmacy and place for deep healing. In order to heal we have to be ready. We have to see the possibility to heal, find our allies, and engage our courage. The desert is a place for me to contact the deepest places inside of me for healing and connection to a greater spirit.Larrea

The desert is where I met one of my most precious healing allies, Chaparral. Also known as Larrea Tridentata, greasewood, gobernadora, and creosote bush. The first time I had the honor of sitting with this plant, I got a deep message from the ancestors. The message that we are STARSEED. The message I got about being starseed, is that Larrea is not from here. And neither are we. We are extra terrestrial. Like the plants have learned to live with the elements, predators, our hot sun, our cool moon, water, and drought. We too are learning how to deal with being human.

Going deeper into my meditation with this plant being I was able to root my body deep into the earth, letting her hold me by my hips. I opened the top of my head and could feel a pull out into the universe. The energy was already flowing between the stars, the earth, me, and Larrea, but I was only able to feel it when I sat in silence. Krista GAS desert trip

Years later, after leading a group in meditation with another Larrea plant, we shared our messages from the plants. One person spoke to their experience – we are starseed!

Larrea is one of our most ancient plant allies. As the bush grows older, it splits into separate crowns as the ‘mother’ dies back, forming a clonal colony all from the same original seed. In the Mojave Desert live ‘King Clone’ Larrea, one of the oldest living organism on the planet, living for more than 11,700 (13,000) years. That is a long life with a lot to teach us.

Traditional uses by Indigenous peoples of North America include treating stomach/bowel complaints, tuberculosis, cancers, and colds and flu and more. These traditions are still in use today. Studies show Larrea works as a bitter, anti-oxidant, antifungal, and antiseptic, supporting liver function and lipid metabolism. It also protects the liver and lungs from free radical damage. (Michael Moore, Medicinal Plants of the desert and Canyon West).

In my practice I have used teas and tinctures in allergy and immune support formulas. Topically, I use infused oil to treat eczema rashes, fungal infections on human feet, and ringworm in cats. Cynthia Athina Kemp Scherer uses the Flower Essence for working with feelings of loneliness, ancient sense of being alone, releasing bitterness and grief to free us from the past. Its a reminder we are not alone, we are connected to the ancient mysteries.

Looking forward to being surrounded by Larrea again, connecting to the energy of star seed.

Earl Granberry Cranberry Sauce

Cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) are native to North America and used as food and juice. They are high in Vitamins C and A, flavonoids, pectin, tannins, and contain minerals like potassium, calcium, iodine, iron and magnesium*. Fresh, these berries are sour and astringent, but with a bit of spices and sugar make a delicious winter dish.

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Cranberry Sauce was always one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving dinner with my family in Ohio. I’m pretty sure this is the only time we ever had it.  We prepared the plate with a nice green leaf, opened the can on one end, and slid it out of the can and onto the plate. The rings were festive adornment.

 

A few years ago I learned a recipe from my dear friend Puma that started with fresh cranberries and steeping Earl Gray Tea to add into the mix. It turned out delicious and I have been making it ever since. I think Puma got the original recipe from Sunset Magazine but I have tweaked it a bit over the years since I almost never have Star Anise.

  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1tsp. Cardamom tincture or 4 whole Cardamom Pods
  • 1 tbs. mixture of all spice and clove (whole) or 3 whole star anise
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 Earl Grey tea bags
  • 8 cups whole cranberries (about 2 1/2 bags, fresh or frozen)
  1. In a 4-quart pot combine the water and spices. Cover the pot and bring to a boil.20131102_103355 After boiling point is reached, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.
  2. Tie together 5 Earl Grey tea bags, add to the pot of spices and simmer approximately 2-5 more minutes (don’t steep too long or the tea can become more bitter than you may like).
  3. Remove tea bags and spices with a spoon/strainer and add 8 cups whole cranberries. Do not add more liquid. The berries will cook down pretty quickly.
  4. Increase heat to medium-high and simmer, stirring often. Cranberries will soften and pop as they split their skins and sauce thickens. Cook about 12 minutes.20131102_105922
  5. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature before serving or storing(the sauce will thicken further as it cools). Sauce may stay preserved in the refrigerator for up to a week or more.

In my herbal medicine practice, I use cranberry juice (unsweetened) to prevent or remove bacteria from forming in the urethra. Making it a great ally in treating and preventing urinary tract infections.

Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce

*The Earthwise Herbal, Matthew Wood

 

 

 

 

Rose Hip Syrup

San Francisco weather can be a unique experience, but some things we do right. Rose hips are ripe and ready to be made into syrup. I let the roses bloom and die without harvesting or trimming the bushes. These came right outta my SF garden.

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Rosehips are nutritive, astringent, carminative, and have been used traditionally as a way to boost vitamin c levels in the body. They also have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Recent studies have identified this herb as useful in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Its actions are protecting and tonifying to the mucous membranes of the gastro-intestinal tract.

The rose hips won’t stay fresh on the plant forever so we gotta preserve them. The most delicious way is with sugar and/or honey. So here is the recipe.20131023_213853

I collected about 6 cups of rosehips from our garden and clipped off the remnants from the buds and any ‘green’ stem parts. I put this with enough water to cover them into the blender to separate the seeds and hairs from the juicy ripe fruit. I blended this just enough to separate but not liquify and place it into a pot on the stove.

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I boiled this mixture for 20 minutes, then strained the first batch and separated. I put the pulp back into the pan and covered it with water and brought it back to a boil again and reduced the water by half.* See below for Batch B.

I wanted to experiment with the potency and taste with using Batch A (only boiled 20 minutes) and using Batch B (boiled for longer).

At this point I had 2 cups of liquid from Batch A. To complete the syrup I added 1 1/2 cups honey to the warm rosehip mixture and stirred, letting it cool on the stovetop. The honey I used was raw and I did not want to damage the raw enzymes in the honey so I did not reheat this syrup and only stirred in the honey to combine thoroughly.

*With Batch B I decided to get more interesting. I added dried orange peel, all spice, clove, and cinnamon to the pulp and brought this mixture up to the second boil. After reaching boiling, I simmered this mixture for about 30 minutes, unt il the water was significantly reduced. Next, I strained the rose hips and returned the liquid to the pot. Again I had about 2 cups. To this liquid I added 2 cups sugar (1 cup brown, 1 cup white). Stir the mixture the dissolve all the sugar. Let cool before placing in glass jars and store in the refridgerator.

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A traditional ratio for syrups is 1 cup honey to 1 quart liquid. You can change the ratio to thicken the syrup to your taste. My syrups are a bit runnier than commercial syrups, but they do thicken in the fridge a bit.

Share with friends and family! Yummy.

Anza Borrego

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The desert is a place that awakens a deep quiet and peace inside of me. My eyes deepen in color. I feel toxins actively leaving my body and I hydrate with food and water. Water is so precious in the desert. I sleep deep and wake with the sun.

 

Some of my favorite plants are here in Anza Borrego and for three years I have been visiting some of the same spots to spend time with these powerful plants in their natural habitats. What once was the bottom of the ocean floor is now this desert in Southern California.

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Monograph – Ganoderma Lucidum – Reishi Mushroom

Other Names: Ling chih, Ling zhi, Mannentake

Parts Used: woody fungus, Only six kinds of Reishi have been studied in greater detail to uncover potential health benefits – red, black (ganaderma sinensis, blue, white, yellow and purple Reishi. Of these six types, black and red Reishi have demonstrated the most significant health-enhancing effects, and both are therefore widely used in the global health supplement market today.

 

Ganaderma applanatum

Ganaderma applanatum

Actions: Anti-Viral, Anti-Inflammatory, Immuno-modulating, antioxidant, anti-histamine, and more.

Constituents: Researchers have identified that water-soluble polysaccharides are one of the active ingredients found in Red Reishi that have anti-tumor, immune modulating and blood pressure lowering effects. Another active ingredient is triterpenes, a class of them found in Reishi is known as ganoderic acids. Studies have indicated that ganoderic acids help alleviate common allergies by inhibiting histamine release, improve oxygen utilization and improve liver functions.

Medicinal Uses:

  • Protect heart health
  • Lower the risk of cancer
  • Boost immune function
  • Reduce high cholesterol
  • Fight off viruses, bacteria and fungi
  • Help balance blood sugar levels
  • Support the body’s detoxification mechanisms
  • Help fight blood clots

Reishi is often used in the treatment of: hypertension, hyperlipidemia, cancer, inflammatory disease, cardiovascular disease, and asthma and bronchial diseases. It is also used for decreasing stress, kidney disease, hepatitis and liver disease, HIV/AIDS, altitude sickness, and supporting chemotherapy. Other uses include preventing fatigue, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), insomnia, gastric ulcers, neurasthenia, poisoning, post-herpetic neuralgia, and herpes zoster pain.

Clinical observations conclude reishi’s efficacy against arteriosclerosis, hypertension,  hemorrhoid, tooth-infections, obesity and various problems that arise from high serum cholesterol level compounded by a lack of blood circulation. Reishi is also recognized to have some effect in cases of stroke, cerebravascular accident, coronary insufficiency, myocardial infarction, phlebitis etc. – problems that arise directly from arterial blockage. Reishi has been found effective in the treatment of problems related to allergic reactions including dermatitis, bronchitis asthma, allergy rhinitis, chronic hepatitis etc.  Reishi can work to strengthen the prostate gland situated between the bladder and the urinary tract. Other clinical tests showed that administering reishi instead of insulin can reverse blood sugar level back to normal after one year.

Take with Vitamin C to increase effect on immune system.

Side Effects/Counterindications: None known. Use caution with Immunosuppressant drugs.

Botany: Reishi mushrooms are polypore mushrooms. Mushrooms are the fruiting body and reproductive structure of a higher order fungus organism, much like an apple is the fruit of an apple tree. The actual mushroom “tree” is a fine thread-like network called mycelium. This mycelium is for the most part subterranean, living in soil, logs and other organic litter.

History/Lore: Reishi and other mushrooms have been revered as herbal medicines for thousands of years in Japan and China. Emperors of the great Chinese dynasties and Japanese royalty drank teas and concoctions of the mushroom for vitality and long life.

Sources: http://www.reishi.com/FAQ.htm

http://naturaldatabase.therapeuticresearch.com/nd/Search.aspx?cs=&s=nd&pt=100&id=905

http://www.diet-and-health.net/Naturopathy/Reishi.html

http://www.naturalnews.com/021498_reishi_mushrooms.html#ixzz28NQVTju5

Cauliflower Squash Curry

The Weather has been a bit unpredictable here in San Francisco. Sunny and cool, or cold. Maybe rain. Today was warm and enjoyable but the rain will be back tomorrow. This weekend while I was weeding my garden I found a lot of chickweed growing in and around my kale, peas, and what never became of our squash. We picked some and ended up using it to top the nights dinner of Cauliflower and Squash Curry.  Here is the recipe:

1. Mix 2T Gluten Free Flour with

1/2 t Chili Powder
1T Coriander ground
1T Cumin Seed Ground
1t Mustard seed ground
1T Tumeric Root Ground
2. Blend in 1Cup Warm water slowly to form a paste and set aside.
3. Peel and slice 1 butternut squash into 1/2″ thick pieces (~2 Cups).
4. Heat 4T Coconut Oil, Ghee, or Veggie Oil in Wok or Large Sauce Pan.
5. Add 6-8 curry leaves and 1t Cumin Seeds (This part can be omitted if you do not have these items readily available).
6. Add Spice pase and simmer 5 mins. You may need to add hot water to keep the paste from thickening too much.
7. Add squash and 1 1/2 cups coconut milk (one can).
8. Bring to a Boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer. Stirring occasionally to keep from sticking.
9. Separate 1 Head Cauliflower into florets (about bite size pieces). You can peel and use stems as well.
10. When squash is just tender, add cauliflower and cook 5-10 more minutes.
11.When the cauliflower is nearly done add 1 1/2 cups of cooked chickpeas (or 1 Can) and cook an additional 5-10 minutes.
12. Add juice of 2 lemons. Salt to taste. For garnish you can add unsalted cashews, and fresh, chopped dandelion greens, cilantro, or chickweed from your garden.
Serve as is or with Brown Rice.
Curry topped with Chickweed from my garden

Curry topped with Chickweed from my garden

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