*Immune-Boosting Mulled Cider*

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Cider has got to be one of the most delicious beverages on the planet.  Don’t you think?! I love it cold as much as I love it hot, and that makes it nice for this time of the season, when hot days interlace with cooler ones.  This simple mulled cider can be made in less than 30 minutes and has only a few ingredients, but it tastes divine and becomes very immune boosting with the addition of astragalus root!  Apples themselves are already immune enhancing (you know the old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”?) and cinnamon is a known immune enhancer as well.  Drink this delicious, nourishing cider several times a week and you’re sure to keep those pesky seasonal colds and flus away :-)

 

Immune-Boosting Cider

4 cups organic, unfiltered 100% pure apple juice (field day makes a great one!)
1 cinnamon stick
several slices of fresh ginger root
1 medium slice dried astragalus root
2 whole cloves

Heat all ingredients slowly over low heat, about 20 minutes.  Keep it covered.  I just throw it all together in a pot and strain it out before drinking.  After 20 minutes taste it to make sure it is thoroughly warmed and spiced.  Pour into a mug and drink :-) Any leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator in a glass jar for a day or two.  Don’t boil it!

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Herb of the Month: Burdock Root (arctium lappa)

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I loooooove Burdock root.  It is a wonderful nourishing food and medicine, and it grows nearly everywhere! Chances are you have it growing in your very own yard.  Burdock has large green leaves that grow very close to the ground.  They put out little spikey balls that attach to clothing, pets and anything that brushes it.  These are the “burs” and “dock” traditionally meant herb. Hence the herb got it’s name name burdock.   While the leaves and the burs are what make it recognizable, it is the root I will be discussing here today!

As you can see from the picture above, the root of Burdock is long and slender, with a dark brown outside and tan inside.  It looks and feels much like a carrot.  Because it is the root we are harvesting, it is most medicinal in the fall.  Plants spend all of their energies growing leaves and flowers through spring and summer, but in the fall the plant is storing energy and food in the root, to last through winter.  So this is when we harvest it!  Make sure you harvest a first year plant, one that does not have seeds.  It can be challenging to harvest, as some portions of the root can grow quite long and you may have to dig deeper.

Once you have a root, you can eat it fresh or you can dry it for use in teas, decoctions, broths  and other medicines.  To dry it, dice the burdock leaving the skin on and set in a dehydrator for 24 hrs or until completely dry.  Store in an air-tight container for 1-2 years.  I usually buy my dried burdock from Mountain Rose Herbs, and I eat my fresh Burdock when I have it.  I love it in stir-fries, roasted vegetables, soups and in this yummy Kinpira Stew.  It is also yummy diced and cooked in a pot with brown rice!

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So why would anyone want to eat this earthy root vegetable? First off, Burdock is a nourishing tonic that has been used by herbalists and asian cultures for thousands of years.  It is known to be a blood purifier, a skin clearer, and tonic to the kidneys, liver, lymph glands, lungs, uterus, stomach and joints.  It is a carminative, aphrodisiac, anti-tumor, and anti-rheumatic among many other things.  Its vitamin and mineral content is outstanding, containing sufficient amounts of chromium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, zinc, carotenes, vitamin A, protein and fiber.

Burdock root can be used as an ally in many conditions.  Traditionally it has been used for arthritis, indigestion, eczema, dandruff, heartburn, irregular menstrual cycles, infertility, candida overgrowth, irritable bowel syndrome, leaky-gut syndrome, and much more.  I myself love it for its overall tonic effect, and have used it successfully for healthy skin and hair.  Burdock root even makes an appearance in R.P. Apothecary’s best selling Harmonize facial toner!

In most cases, the Burdock tincture is a wonderful choice to use medicinally.  Tincturing the root makes it easy to become assimilated into the bloodstream.  For things like eczema and psoriasis, a salve would be most healing.  Personally I find that incorporating it into the diet is the easiest and most enjoyable way to reap the many benefits of Burdock!

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How do you use Burdock root?

Easy Cheesy Pasta

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This dish is a classic standby for me.  It is extremely easy, quick and healthy.  Don’t expect it to taste like Easy-mac because it is so, sooo much better :-)

Easy Cheesy Pasta

1 lb. pasta
1 head kale
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
6 tbsp. oil
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. cumin
1 rsp. salt

Cook the pasta to package directions.  I love Tinkyada brown rice pasta! Strain it when al dente and return to the pan.  Rip up the kale and stir into the steaming pasta.   Add in the nutritional yeast, paprika, cumin, salt and oil.  Stir until fully combined.  Serve warm! I topped mine with Gomashio, yummmm!

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Kinpira Pumpkin Stew

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A delicious twist on a staple macrobiotic dish.  This stew is super grounding, strengthening and warming.  If you aren’t familiar with Burdock root, I strongly urge you to get to know it!  Also known as Gobo root in Japanese cooking,  it has an earthy taste and has been revered for its healing properties for thousands of years.  It grows as a common weed in most of North America!  The root is long with a dark brown outside and beige inside, and the texture is that of carrots.  It is delicious chopped and cooked with brown rice, as part of a big batch of roasted vegetables, in stir fries, and in traditional Kinpira or Kinpira stew!

Kinpira Pumpkin Stew

1/2 cup thin matchsticks burdock root
1 cup thin matchsticks carrots
1 onion, diced
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 winter squash, cut into chunks (acorn, butternut, kabocha, hubbard…)
1 cup cooked adzuki beans
1 cup pumpkin puree
6 cups water
2 tbsp. unpasteurized miso paste
1 tsp. shoyu
1 tbsp. cooking oil (I prefer coconut oil)

Begin by bringing the oil to medium heat in a large stock pot.  Add in the burdock root and cook 1 minute.  Add in the carrots, onion, and garlic, cooking another 30 seconds before adding in the water and pumpkin puree. Add in the squash chunks and adzuki beans. Bring to a simmer and continue to cook 20-30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.  Add in the shoyu and turn off the heat.  Mix the miso paste in a small dish with enough water from the vegetables to dissolve it.  Add this to the stew.  Now its done! mmmmmmm!

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Autumn Spiced Sugar Scrub

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Ahhhh…scrumptious and spicy…exfoliating and invigorating. The perfect sugar scrub for fall!

Autumn Spiced Sugar Scrub 

1/4 cup organic cane sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
5 drops vit E oil
3 drops cinnamon essential oil
2 drops clove essential oil

Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl and store in an airtight jar (a 1/2 pint mason jar is perfect!).  It will keep for months, but I’m sure you will use it all ASAP! I take a handful of the sugar and scrub it all over my body while in the shower.  Your skin will be glowing and lovely when you are done :-)

But don’t take my word for it! You must see for yourself!

Maybe drink some cider and munch on pumpkin scones as well….