Monthly Nourish | October

Hello friends!

I am so excited to start a new series on my blog- Monthly Nourish. Each month I am going to highlight three new foods to try or to incorporate more consciously into your day-to-day. I will discuss the nutritional benefits of each food, while sharing accompanying recipes.

This series stems from the idea that including healthy food into your diet does not have to be daunting, or completely overwhelming. Health is not all-or-nothing, and it is definitely not a destination. You can slowly try new things and experiment with recipes to naturally and gradually change your habits.

I feel this is a lighter and more approachable way to enhance wellbeing, and I hope you enjoy this series!

So, each month check Monthly Nourish and join me in incorporating new foods and trying out some new delicious recipes along the way!

MONTHLY NOURISH | OCTOBER 

1.   Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds have numerous health benefits that range from stabilizing blood sugar levels, decreasing menopausal symptoms, increasing cardiovascular health and improving sleep. These little seeds are a great source of omega 3, as well as magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, phosphorus, tryptophan and more.Add raw, unshelled pumpkin seeds into your smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, or simply enjoy them on their own.

Recipe: Try this nourishing porridge from The Glow Within.

2.   Cranberries

This potent antioxidant and anti inflammatory fruit is perfect for the new month ahead! Cranberries have been shown to lower the risk of urinary tract infections, high blood pressure, and certain types of cancers. This deliciously tart fruit is high in vitamin C, manganese and fibre, making it ideal for improving immunity, digestion and liver function.

The cranberries season start on Labour Day and only up until the end of October, so get these fresh while you can! Add them to yogurt, a fruit salad, make cranberry sauce or eat them raw.

Recipe: Try this recipe for Skillet Cranberry Roasted Chicken from Half Baked Harvest.

3.   Broccoli

Maybe it wasn’t your favourite vegetable growing up, but this cruciferous green doesn’t get its healthy reputation from just anywhere. Broccoli is a great source of non-dairy calcium, vitamin K, vitamin C and so much more. It is known for it’s possible improvements for bone health, skin health and immunity. Broccoli is also a great green for detoxification, and especially for the liver.

Add this vegetable to your meals in its raw form or have it as a snack with some fresh hummus. You can steam or roast broccoli, while also add it to stir-fry, curry, pasta or as a side to a chicken dinner.

Recipe: Try this creamy broccoli soup from Dishing Up The Dirt.

Enjoy!

P.S. Thanks to The Glow Within, Dishing Up The Dirt and Half Baked Harvest, for these recipes + photos! All recipes found + saved on Pinterest!

Energizing Beet Smoothie

Today’s recipe is a seasonally inspired, pre- workout, energizing smoothie. This smoothie contains beets, which not only is a seasonally fall food, but quite a nutritious vegetable that can be beneficial to enjoy before a workout!

 

The Health Benefit of Beets

Beets are notably high in nitrates, which naturally convert to nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide widens blood vessels and affects how efficiently our cells use oxygen. This can be helpful to improve blood flow and oxygen flow, specifically to our muscles, which may improve endurance and performance. Beets are also high in betaine, which is an amino acid that may be helpful a lowering C reactive protein (a marker for inflammation in the body), and may specifically help to improve sports performance. Including beets in your diet can be very helpful, and enjoying them in your smoothie may give you an extra bit of zest during your next run or workout!

Energizing Beet Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 small beet

1/2 cup berries of choice

1 cup plant milk, almond milk or coconut milk + more to taste

2 tbsp hemp hearts

1 banana

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients together in a blender. Blend and enjoy!

I hope you enjy this smoothie recipe! It is a bit earthy tasting, but when blending it with enough milk I find it to be very enjoyable. Let me know if you try it out, and if you notice a difference in your workouts!

-SG

 

Healthy Events in Toronto | October

As part of this Out&About section, I want to include monthly health-focused or health- promoting events in and around Toronto!

Here are some selected events for this upcoming month!

OCTOBER EVENTS 

1. Free Meditation Class

766 College Street ( College + Shaw)

Monday, October 2, 7-8p

Monday, October 16, 7-8p

Monday, Oct 23 , 7-8p

Monday, Oct 30, 7-8p

Cost: FREE

More Information

2.  Compassion Circle 2.0

Weekly group meditation and discussion through CAMH Spiritual Care Services. Safe + non-judgemental space.

CAMH Sacred Space, Bell Gateway Building, 2nd Floor, 100 Stokes St. 

Monday, October 2, 7-9p

Monday, October 16, 7-9p

Monday, Oct 23 , 7-9p

Monday, Oct 30, 7-9p

Cost: FREE

More Information or contact Sumeet Saini Sumeetsaini07@gmail.com

3. Backyard Forging and Wild Cocktails 

A surprising number of garden plants can feed both body and soul. Ellen Zachos will stir up your interest in harvesting and preparing common garden plants and teach you how to wow your friends with dirty daylily martinis, rose hip soup and many other delicious treats.

Toronto Botanical Gardens

Thursday, Oct 12, 5:30-9p

Cost: $15 for public + $5 cocktails

More Information

4. Bump to Baby Show

An all-natural baby show for the whole family!

Riberdale Hub

Saturday, Oct 21, 9:30a-3:30p

Cost: $5 in advance or $10 at door

More Information

5. Food For Action, Charity Dinner

Charity dinner for Action Against Hunger.

George Brown Culinary School, 300 Adelaide

Wednesday, Oct 25, 6-9p

Cost: Starts at $49.99

More Information

 

I hope you make it out some healthy events this October, and maybe I will see you there!

If you have a healthy event you would like to share, e-mail me and I can add it to the list!

 

Emotional Eating by Kelly Boaz

Hello friends! 

Today I have a special guest post by fellow Toronto Nutritionist and friend, Kelly Boaz. Kelly specializes in eating disorders and is a wealth of knowledge. I love reading her blog and learning from her, especially when it comes to eating disorders and food freedom. Kelly, take it away! 

Emotional Eating

Nearly every article I come across on emotional eating is titled something like “X Ways to Stop Emotional Eating FOR GOOD!” I mean, why wouldn’t it be? Emotional eating is a problem, isn’t it? That’s what I was always taught. I’m gonna guess you were taught much the same thing. But what if emotional eating isn’t a problem? What if it’s actually a tool we can use to our benefit? If you’re giving me side eye right now, stay with me. Let’s take it back to the beginning.

Where Emotional Eating Comes From

For every one of us, emotional eating begins at birth. Think about it: you’re born, you cry, and somebody sticks a boob or a bottle in your mouth. We’re immediately taught that expression of emotion gets our needs met, whether that be a diaper change, cuddles, or food.

As we grow up, we’re indoctrinated into a society where food is a part of everything we do. It’s a treat we get when we’re good, it’s the centre of all our holiday celebrations, it brings family together and, yes, it comforts us when we’re sad.

It’s not til we’re older that we begin to question this. As we become aware of how food can affect our bodies, we begin to fear it. It’s no coincidence that the mantra of dieters is, “FOOD IS JUST FUEL”. This (completely incorrect) statement immediately cuts us off – from social events, from family, and from our own needs. It goes against our very nature – to seek connection, to be a part of “the tribe”. And, not surprisingly, that isolation creates some pretty strong emotions in us – emotions we were taught from birth to soothe with food.

Where Does That Leave Us?

So now we’re adults, desperately seeking control over our eating habits. We restrict all day, following a joyless meal plan, which makes us feel isolated and uninspired. Then, we spot something flashy in the cupboard – a brightly coloured package containing a food we’ve loved since childhood. The first bite takes us back to a time where we felt loved, safe, included, everything we’ve been denying ourselves. We learn to associate that food with all those emotions.

But then, we start to shame ourselves. (Yes shame, not guilt – guilt is for when you’ve done something wrong. Murder is something to feel guilty for, not food.) How could we have done that? We ate FOR PLEASURE!! How could we be so gluttonous? We vow to go back to chicken breasts and broccoli tomorrow, and the cycle repeats.

Only now, whenever we’re sad, or lonely, or feeling unloved, we reach for the bright and shiny food. Oh no. We’ve become the dreaded EMOTIONAL EATER!

And That’s Not A Bad Thing

Food was meant to be enjoyed. We associate it with all those wonderful feelings, and that’s not bad. The problem occurs when food is our ONLY source of joy. It’s the same with anything: if alcohol, or drugs, or sex, or food becomes our only way to comfort ourselves, then we have a problem. But, it’s a problem that can be fixed. The solution lies in getting comfortable with our emotional eating.

If we can learn to recognize the difference between physical and emotional hunger, we’ve got a powerful tool in our hands. For example:

You get home from a long day at work. Rather than start cooking dinner, you grab a bright, shiny bag of cookies. As you take that first bite, you feel the stress melt away. You pause: you’re feeling stressed, a little lonely, and very tired. You finish your cookie and you put the bag away. Your stress will only multiply if you have to cook tonight, so you order in a proper meal. You’re lonely because you’ve been buried in work, with no time for friends. You pick up the phone and chat with a friend, then tuck in for an early night in bed.

Now, not all emotions that come up will be so clearly identifiable and fixable, but the template remains the same: recognize the trigger, EAT THE DAMNED COOKIE (just not ALL the cookies), identify the emotions, and find ways to deal with them that don’t involve food.

Why do we eat the cookie? Because cookies are one way we know how to comfort ourselves. And because they’re delicious and we like them. Cookies are not a problem unless they’re our only tool for self-soothing.

Embracing emotional eating is an important step to healing our relationship with food. I know – it’s counterintuitive to everything we’ve been taught, but it’s true. So go out, actually enjoy your food, and rejoin your tribe. Your emotional AND your physical self will thank you.

ABOUT KELLY 

After winning her 17-year battle with anorexia, Kelly Boaz turned her life’s focus to helping others do the same. Kelly is a Toronto-based Holistic Nutritionist (CNP), specializing in eating disorder recovery and food freedom. She is also a writer and speaker (TEDx, TDSB), raising eating disorder awareness, and helping people heal their relationship with food and their bodies. You can find out more about Kelly, or get in touch via her website, kellyboaz.com.


Grain Guide + An Amaranth Porridge

Today I wanted to share with you the health benefits whole grains! In the nutrition world, grain-free diets are becoming popular and I know this can cause some confusion.

As a preface to this blog post, I believe a grain-free diet can be great to help with certain health conditions. For instance, research shows that following a grain-free diet can be helpful for auto-immune conditions, specifically Hashimotos or Crohn’s/Colitis. However, this blog is meant to focus on overall, general health and for those who want to learn simple ways to include healthy, nutrient-dense food into their daily life. If you are looking for individualized nutrition support please book an appointment!

Generally speaking, whole grains are a great complex carbohydrate and a wonderful source of fibre. Complex carbohydrates can help to improve energy levels, digestion and the nervous system. There are so many healthy grains out there, and most people only know a few (think: rice + quinoa). Below is a download for a Grain Guide, with some information on various whole grains + how to cook with them. Hopefully this makes things a bit easier for you and encourages you to try some new grains! :)

GRAIN GUIDE

Now for a recipe! 

AMARANTH OAT PORRIDGE

Ingredients:

1/4 cup oats (quick cooking)

1/4 cup amaranth

1.5 cup water

Toppings: Whatever you like! This time I added coconut flakes, walnuts, sliced apple, sliced banana, chia seeds, flaxseeds and maple syrup.

Directions:

1. Add the amaranth into a pot with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for approx. 15 minutes.

2. Add the oats after 15 minutes, and cook together until water is evaporated (approx. 10 minutes). Check and stir consistently. If you would like the porridge more creamy, add more water.

3. Take off heat and top with toppings of choice!

I hope you enjoy this recipe and guide. Let me know your favourite grains in the comments below or if you try this recipe!

-SG

The Health Benefits of Turmeric + A Recipe

Hello friends!

It is the very beginning of September, and the perfect time to talk about one of my favourite herbs- TURMERIC!

Turmeric is a well-known, and quite a trendy herb, which I have been obsessed with for years. I used to add turmeric to soups and curries on a regular basis, and over the past few years started to add it to smoothies and lattes. As evidenced by my Instagram, I love turmeric lattes <3

Turmeric is a potent herb with many health benefits. The active (and probably most well known) component in turmeric is curcumin, however there are many different components in turmeric that make it healthy!

Below I outlined some main health benefits of turmeric, followed by information and notes on quality, where to find it, my favourite brands and a recipe from GOLDE.

Top 5 Health Benefits of Turmeric

Anti-inflammatory

Turmeric can have antiinflammatory benefits. Curcumin may lower the inflammatory response in the body, by down regulating inflammatory markers (cytokines), as well as decrease proteins and enzymes that promote inflammation. 

Nutrient Dense

Turmeric can be considered a ‘super food’ as it is full of antioxidants including vitamin C, A, D, E as well as B vitamins. 

Digestion

Turmeric may enhance digestion by promoting enzymes like lipase (to digest fat), amalyase (to digest carbohydrates) and can stimulate bile (to also help digest fat).  In one study, the digestive benefit increased when turmeric was mixed with coriander, black pepper, cumin and ginger.  

Skin Health

Evidence suggest that turmeric and curcimin may have a significant impact when treating inflammatory skin issues like acne, rosacea and psoriasis. 

Immune

Due to the antiinflammatory and antioxidant content, turmeric can help to boost immune function. In novel studies, curcumin may help to increase immune cells like T cells, B cells and NK cells ( all the cells needed to fight foreign pathogens in the body aka viruses like the common cold or flu). 

How to Buy Turmeric + a Note on Quality 

I suggest using whole turmeric root, which can be found in the grocery store, usually in the same section as whole ginger. You can also buy an organic turmeric powder, which is important as turmeric can be highly sprayed with pesticides. My favourite brand is Cha’s Organic + my favourite turmeric blend is from GOLDE, which I carry at my office!

A Recipe from GOLDE 

  

  • Recipe + photo from www.golde.co/recipes, where you can find other delicious turmeric recipes.

I hope this post encourages you all to add turmeric into your diet! If you are in Toronto and want to try the Golde turmeric blend, let me know!

Spirulized Vegetable Salad

Today I am sharing a recipe for a spirulized vegetables salad. This salad is simple because it requires no cooking, and very little prep, as well as being quite adaptable to different vegetables that you may have on hand. It also keeps well in the fridge for a few days both dressed and undressed. It can be a full meal, with some added protein on top ( grilled shrimp, fish, chicken, chickpeas, lentils), or a great side for a summer BBQ.

This salad is made from “spirulized” vegetables, which means that I used one of these nifty little machines.

Spirulizers are great, and definitely a fun kitchen tool that adds to creativity in the kitchen. I especially love using spirulizers when cooking with kids, as it is always a hit!

If you are new to spirulized vegetables, simply read the instructions that come with your spirulizer, and test it using a vegetable first. You can also use a julienne peeler, instead :)

 

SPIRULIZED VEGETABLE SALAD 

Ingredients:

1 beet

1 carrot

1 zucchini

red onion

1 avocado, sliced

handful chopped cilantro

2 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp olive oil

2 limes, juice of

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp almond butter ( or peanut butter) 

Directions:

  1. Spirulize carrot, beet, zucchini + add to bowl.
  2. Add sliced red onions, cilantro and top with avocado.
  3. Add dressing ingredients to salad + mix.

*disclaimer* I do not advocate to include spirulized vegetables or “zoodles” instead of actual noodles/grains/”carbs”. Regular noodles are healthy too, this is simply a fun way to add more colour into your diet!

I hope you enjoy this recipe! If you try it out, let me know!

xo

-SG

Top 10 Farmers’ Markets in Toronto

Farmers’ market season is officially upon us! I love going to the farmers’ market, and over the past few years it has become a ritual of mine. It is also one of my favourite ways to shop. I personally love farmers’ markets because it is a way to connect with, and support local farmers as well as an opportunity to enjoy food that is better for the environment, healthier and often tastier.

Compiled below are my Top 10 Favourite Farmers Markets in Toronto!

1) THE STOP FARMERS’ MARKET 

The Stop Farmers’ Market | Wychwood Barns

Organizers: The Stop Community Food Centre

Address/Intersection: Wychwood Barns, 601 Christie St. , Christie + St. Claire

Day + Time: Saturdays, 8:00am-1:00pm

2) EVERGREEN BRICKWORKS FARMERS’ MARKET

Evergreen Brickworks Farmers’ Market

Organizers: Evergreen

Address/Intersection: 550 Bayview Ave.

Day + Time: Saturdays, 8:00am-1:00pm

3) SORAUREN FARMERS’ MARKET 

Sorauren Farmers’ Market

Organizers: West End Food Coop

Address/Intersection: 50 Wabash Ave. , Dundas + Lansdowne

Day + Time: Mondays, 3:00pm-7:00pm

4) DUFFERIN GROVE FARMERS’ MARKET

Dufferin Grove Organic Farmers’ Market

Organizers: Independent Farmers

Address/Intersection: Dufferin Grove Park, 875 Dufferin St., Dufferin + Bloor (south)

Day + Time: Thursdays, 3:00pm-7:00pm

5) TRINITY BELLWOODS FARMERS’ MARKET 

Trinity Bellwoods Farmers’ Market 

Organizers: Initiative of Friends of Trinity Bellwoods Park

Address/Intersection: Trinity Bellwoods Park, Dundas + Shaw (north west end of park)

Day + Time: Tuesdays, 3:00pm-7:00pm

6) ST. LAWRENCE FARMERS’ MARKET

St. Lawrence Market, Farmers’ Market 

Address/Intersection: St. Lawrence Market North Building, 93 Front St E, Front St. + Jarvis

Day + Time: Saturdays, 5:00am-3:00pm

7) LESLIEVILLE FARMERS MARKET

Leslieville Farmers’ Market 

Organizers: Independent

Address/Intersection: Jonathan Ashbridge Park, Queen + Woodward

Day + Time: Sundays 9:00am-2:00pm

8) CABBAGE TOWN FARMERS MARKET

Cabbage Town Farmers’ Market 

Organizers: A Seed by Seed Project

Address/Intersection: Riverdale Park West, Sumach St. + Winchester

Day + Time: Tuesdays, 3:00pm-7:00pm

9) JUNCTION FARMERS’ MARKET

Junction Farmers’ Market

Organizers: Independent/Community organized

Address/Intersection: 2960 Dundas St. West, Keele + Dundas West

Day + Time: Saturdays, 9:00am-1:00pm

10) MY MARKET 

My Market | Three locations

Address/Intersection/Day/Time

Bloor + Borden, Wednesdays, 3-7,

East Lynn Park, Thursdays 3-7

Liberty Village, Sundays 9-2

I hope this list inspires you to try out a new farmers’ market this summer.

Any other farmers’ markets in Toronto that you love? Let me know!

-SG

The Importance of Natural Cosmetics

Flowers - Sarah Goldstein Nutrition

Today’s post is all about the importance of using natural cosmetics, whenever possible. Although this may be old news for some, I am continually surprised with how many do not know the importance of natural cosmetics. In this post, I will go through the top 12 chemicals found in conventional cosmetics, with a brief note on the potential dangers of each one. I then added resources for further personal research, and helpful tips for how you can make the switch to natural care products an easier process.

From the David Suzuki website: “U.S. researchers report that one in eight of the 82,000 ingredients used in personal care products are industrial chemicals, including carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, and hormone distributors.”
Chemicals accumulate in the body and these chemicals can have detrimental effects to our health. It is of upmost concern for those with specific health conditions such as PCOS, hypothyroidism or skin conditions, and particularly important for pregnant women. We also must consider the fact that most people have been using products with these chemicals for the majority of their lives, allowing the chemicals to accumulate over time.

Below, I included a list of the ‘Dirty Dozen’- the top 12 toxic chemicals found in most conventional personal care products. To dig deeper into the research, and for a more comprehensive explanation, you can download this file from the David Suzuki website.

THE DIRTY DOZEN (taken from davidsuzuki.com)

1. BHA and BHT: Found in moisturizers and makeup as preservatives. Both are suspected endocrine ( hormone) distributors and possible carcinogens. Both are harmful to fish and wildlife.
2. Coal Tar Dyes: p-phenylenediamine and colours listed as ‘CI’ followed by a 5 digit number. These are potential carcinogens and contaminated with heavy metals, which can be toxic to the brain.

3. DEA- related ingredients: Also look for MEA and TEA. These are used in creamy and foaming products like moisturizers and shampoo, and are a potential carcinogen.

4. Dibutyl Phthalate: Used as a plasticizer in nail care products. Potential endocrine (hormone) disrupter and reproductive toxicant.

5. Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives: Also look for DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methanamine and quaternium-15. Used in a variety of cosmetics and releases small amounts of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.

6. Parabens: A potential endocrine disrupter for both male and females and used as a preservative in a variety of cosmetic products.

7. Parfum or Fragrance: Some fragrance can trigger allergies and asthma, and some are linked to cancer and neurotoxicity.

8. PEG compounds: Used in cream based products, can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which can cause cancer.

9. Petroleum: Used in hair products, lip balms, lip sticks and moisturizer for shine and as a moisture barrier. Petroleum can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which may cause cancer.

10. Siloxanes: Look for “-siloxane” or “-methicone”. Used in a variety of cosmetics to soften, smooth and moisten, it is a suspected endocrine distruptor and reproductive toxicant.

11. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/ Sodium Laureth Sulfate: Used as a foaming agent in shampoo, cleansers, bubble bath and toothpaste. Can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer. Look for

12. Triclosan: Used in antibacterial products like toothpaste, cleansers and antiperspirants, this chemical is a suspected endocrine distrupter and can contribute to antibiotic resistance in bacteria.


NEXT STEPS: 

1. Check your products to see if they contain any of the dirty dozen. Check your body wash, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, moisturizer, face wash and anything else you use.

2. You can also visit EWG’s Skin Deep database to check your specific product, and see how it rates for toxicity and why.

3. Start switching your products! You can switch your products out one-by-one, to limit the cost.

4. Find natural cosmetics that you love! Below I included a list of some of my favourite brands, as well as a list of natural beauty blogs for you to check reviews and see the opinion of others.

MY FAVOURITE NATURAL BEAUTY BRANDS:

Green Beaver

Meow Meow Tweet

Leaves of Trees 

Wild Craft

Graydon

Carina

Province Apothecary

MY FAVOURITE NATURAL BEAUTY BLOGS:

Now, everyone’s skin is different and I often find that popular reviews are not necessarily consistent with my own experiences with a product, but it is a good start!
Green Product Junkie

Let’s Talk About Green

Living Pretty, Naturally

Organic Beauty Blogger

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

David Suzuki Foundation

Environmental Working Group

Adria Vasil

 

As always, e-mail me with any questions, or to tell me about your favourite natural beauty brands or blogs!
– SG

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF HERBS WITH LAUREN FROM WOODEN SPOON HERBS

Today I have a very special guest answering some questions about herbal medicine and herbal remedies. For anyone who works with me, you know this is a special area of interest, and herbal remedies are something I strongly believe in using as part of holistic care. I recommend herbs to most of my clients, and it is great to see many herbs are backed by science and have evidence to support what traditional and holistic practitioners have been advocating for, for a long time.

Herbs have many uses and include but not limited to helping with stress, mood, immune, allergies, headaches, migraines, menstrual cramps, digestion, PMS, sleep, energy and skin health.

Lauren Hayes is the incredible woman, and herbalist, behind Wooden Spoon Herbs. Wooden Spoon Herbs is a boutique herbal medicine line based in northwest Georgia. This line is focused on bioregional ingredients and founded on the principal that plants gathered and processed by hand are more beautiful, flavorful and medicinally potent than any other. Lauren founded her company in 2014 and creates tinctures, salves, syrups, flower essences, bitters and luxury body care.

I found Lauren through Instagram and was immediately inspired and drawn to her philosophy and how connected she was to the land, and to her work. I started carrying Wooden Spoon Herbs at my clinic a few months ago, and everyone that has tried her products loves them and has found them so helpful! I am so happy to bring Wooden Spoon Herbs to Toronto, and that I have been able to connect with such an inspiring woman!

I asked Lauren some questions so that she can share her expertise in the area of herbal medicine. I hope you enjoy and learn more about this amazing field!

Q&A WITH LAUREN:

Firstly, what is Herbal Medicine?

Most often we think of herbal medicine as the use of plants to treat discomfort and maintain excellent health. I like to think of herbs as part of self care.

What do you do as a Herbalist? 

At this point in my herbal journey, I am focused on making high-quality herbal remedies to provide to the public through my company, Wooden Spoon Herbs. I harvest wild plants, work with small-scale herb farms, and source the best ingredients available for the most potent medicine. I work with only small-farm grown herbs, and try to stay true to what grows in my bioregion of the Southeast ( of America). I never want to feed into the fad herbs from far-off lands, when there is so much medicine surrounding me where where I live,. That is true for everyone, no matter where you are. Medicine and magic are all around.

In the future I hope to have time to work one-on-one with clients, and open up a small practice. I practice a tradition of herbalism spearheaded by Phyllis Light called Southern Folk Medicine, which is a kind of constitutional medicine much like Ayurveda or Traditional Chinese Medicine.

When did your love of herbal medicine begin?

My dive into the depths of herbal medicine began about five years ago, when I was 22. I was fermenting a lot, looking at backyard edibles to work with, when I started reading more and more that you could use these plants as medicines, too. I headed down the green path and never looked back. I still ferment and use natural dyes and love the utilitarianism of medicinal plants, but everything is tinted with shades of ” how is this plant affecting in my life” in all that I do.

What do you love about what you do?

I love being out in the woods. I love learning new things about new plants, especially ones that are right under my nose. I love seeing a plant really work for someone and I love when that blows both of our minds. I love befriending new plants. I love teaching people about the medicine chest below their feet, especially in weedy plants that they pull out of their garden beds.

Describe the process you take whens sourcing and making your products:

Sure! So I have a few lists that I have made for reference when I am sourcing/producing: one of the farms that I work with and what comes from each farm, and the other for what plants I have to work with from saids farms and from what grows wild around me. I also use a book Medicinal Plants of the Southern Appalachias by Patricia Howell, who is an amazing Herbalist.

Whatever new product I am making comes from half divine inspiration and half narrowing down what I have to work with. Formulation looks like breaking herbs down into their actions and seeing what is a good fit. I also tend to use safe and weedy herbs in my products, for sustainability purposes.

How can the use of herbs be used in a holistic healing regime?

Herbs are just part of a healthy lifestyle, that should include nutrient-dense foods, clean air and water, stress reduction, and exercise. Herbs can be a boost to all of these aspects and can totally help keep you on an even keel. For example, you can add mineral-rich nettle and dandelion root vinegars to your cooked greens to boost nutritional content, or use adaptogen herbs like ginseng and ashwaganda to improve energy and lessen stress. You can even use herbs for things like migraines and menstrual cramps.

Herbs

A DIY TINTURE RECIPE

A tincture is an alcohol extract of an herb. It is super easy to use, concentrated for maximum potency, and portable. One dropperful of tincture is equal to about three cups of an herbal tea. You can use 1:5 radio for dried herbs, or 1:2 ratio for fresh herbs, but below is a recipe for a “folk method” tincture, which is easiest to make and highly effective.

MAKING A TINCTURE THE FOLK METHOD WAY

Supplies needed: a pint mason jar, a sharp knife and cutting board, and some fresh herb- some good, easy and safe herbs to start with are sage, thyme, and dandelion. 

  1. Gather your herbs in the mid-morning after the dew has dried.
  2. Discard any parts that don’t look green and happy. Brown spots, spots too low to the ground.
  3. Chop the herbs finely and stuff into the mason jar.
  4. Cover with vodka and put a layer of parchment or wax paper between the tincture and the lid. Tighten the lid.
  5. Shake your tincture!
  6. Label your tincture with the herb, its Latin name, “folk method”, and where you harvested from, as well as any other information you want to include. I promise you have to label it or else you will completely forget what’s going on in there.
  7. Keep the tincture in a cool dark place and shake it daily for two weeks, then steep it for another two weeks.
  8. Strain and bottle in an amber glass bottle to best preserve.

Ta-da! Now you’ve made a tincture!

 

Thank you Lauren for taking the time to answer these questions, and for offering such a nice recipe. To learn more about Lauren and what she does visit www.woodenspoonherbs.com