Category Archives: Recipes

Rosehip fruit and seed infused facial oil

This recipe is absolutely divine and the only thing i like to use on my face.

Wild rosehips; Rosa canina; Dog rose
Wild rosehips; Rosa canina; Dog rose

It must be said that this is NOT the real deal expensive rosehip seed oil where they press the tiny seeds to produce the oil. In my experience of using this oil over the last few years i can vouch for it’s efficacy, nourishment and vitality.

IMG_8632First extract the seeds from the fruit. Wear gloves if you have sensitive skin as those tiny hairs can be an irritant. Leave these seeds laid flat on baking tray over night to dry out, this will avoid a sticky mess in the grinder. Keep the outside fruit flesh to one side, maybe wash and nibble on a few as absolutely delicious. Some of the flesh could also be dried in a dehydrator to be used in tea blends or to eat.

Finely ground rosehip seeds
Finely ground rosehip seedsWhen grinding the seeds i use a coffee grinder. A succession of short bursts to lessen the strain on the grinder as the seeds are very hard.

Place ground seeds and the majority of the fruit flesh in a pan and cover with an organic oil of your choice at least 2inches above the plant matter. I used sunflower but olive, macadamia or hemp are all good options. Stir well.

Turn onto lowest heat and stir continuously without letting it bubble or boil for about 10 minutes. You should be able to smell the sweetness of the fruit once it is ready.

I use my specially carved wooden spoon for such beautiful creations
I use my specially carved wooden spoon for such beautiful creations

Take off the heat and strain through a jelly bag so those fine hairs are all taken out. Make sure all appliances used have been sterilised. Let it cool down and then mix in 1% of Frankincense essential oil. Frankincense is predominantly relaxing yet rejuvenating in it’s properties.

Rosehip oil is full of Vitamin C & Vitamin A and has an antioxidant, anti-aging effect on our skin.

This haul of rosehips from Sacred Earth became a winters supply of rosehip oxymel as well as the facial oil
This haul of rosehips from Sacred Earth became a winters supply of rosehip oxymel as well as the facial oil

Spices of India

Saffron pickers, image taken from google images.
Saffron pickers (image taken from Google Images)

I thought i’d re-post my first ever blog, which was a guest blog for my dear young (11yrs) friend Gracie Chick.  Her blog; A light in the darkness is very inspirational.

This is very exciting, at the ripe old age of 33 years I am writing my first blog. A big thankyou to my dear friend Gracie for inspiring me and letting me write a guest blog here.

Gracie and I share a love of plants and we have spent many days together foraging, learning about plant identification and their many medicinal properties. This is really where my heart lies. I am just about to qualify as a herbalist too, which only really means I know a small amount about the plant kingdom as all it’s secrets are never ending! Today I would like to share with you a little of what we learnt on our visit to Sahakari spice farm in Goa, India.

Some of the most expensive spices to buy are Saffron, Vanilla, Cardamom, Clove, Cinnamon, Pepper and Turmeric. Have you ever wondered why?

Saffron is THE most expensive spice in the world. It comes from the stigma of the blue flowering crocus (Crocus Sativus). The stigma must be hand-picked and it takes a lot of stigmas (200-500) to make 1 gram of saffron.

Our guide pointing to the little cardamon flower at the base of the plant
Our guide pointing to the little cardamom flower at the base of the cardamom plant

Vanilla is the second most expensive spice in the world and comes from the beans of vanilla orchids. The flowers may only be naturally pollinated by a specifically equipped bee found in Mexico. Growers have tried to bring this bee into other growing locales without success, so the flowers are now artificially pollinated by hand and the fruits are picked by hand once ripe. The vanilla flower only lasts about one day, sometimes less! Therefore, farmers have to inspect their plantations every day for open flowers on the vanilla plants, a labour-intensive task. It takes up to three years after the vines are planted before the first flowers appear. The fruits, which resemble big green beans, must remain on the vine for nine months in order to completely develop their signature aroma. However, when the beans are harvested, they have neither flavour nor fragrance. They develop these distinctive properties during the curing process.

Cardamom (Elettaria Cardamomum), the Queen of Spices,  is a perennial herb and member of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae. Like ginger, cardamom has a fleshy rhizome and long, lance-shaped leaves. In Goa, cardamom plants flower continuously from the last week of April or first week of May until the second week of October. Each cardamom flower lasts a single day. Insect pollinators are required for fruit production. A single flower receives as many as 130 visits from pollinators on a sunny day to just over 20 visits on a rainy day. If pollinated, each cardamom flower produces a single capsule containing about 10 seeds and about 10 pods produce 1 teaspoon of powdered cardamom. Cardamom has long been used for calming digestive complaints and has strong anti-oxidant properties.  It is also high in iron, manganese, potassium, calcium and magnesium.  I like to add it to my occasional cup of coffee as it takes away the unwanted side effects and keeps me grounded in the caffeine buzz.

My wonderful husband Ollie smelling the cinnamon bark
My wonderful husband Ollie smelling the cinnamon bark

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum Zeylanicum is the true cinnamon, you will often see ‘Cassia cinnamon’ for sale so read the labels) is obtained by stripping the outer bark of the tree and removing the inner bark in rolls. The bark is then dried and sealed in airtight containers. Cinnamon trees are small evergreen plants that can reach 32 to 49 feet in height. Cultivated cinnamon trees are grown in the form of a bush. A cinnamon tree can live from 30 to 40 years in the wild but when cultivated they are killed during the harvesting process.  Did you know cinnamon helps balance blood sugar levels? It can also be used to help digestion and reduce muscle spasms, colds, diarrhoea and vomiting,  and has anti-fungal properties.

Pepper (Piper Nigrum) is known as the King of Spices. It is the most traded and most used spice in the world. Black pepper is a flowering vine in the family Piperaceae. Peppercorns are harvested while half-matured and just about to turn red. They are then left to dry under the sun light until they become shrivel and turn black (black peppercorns). Alternatively, green peppercorns are picked while the berries are still unripe and green. The white peppercorn got its name when a completely ripe berry is soaked in brine in order to remove its dark outer skin, exposing the inner white-colour pepper seed. Adding pepper to your food helps you absorb other nutrients from your meal, has anti-inflammatory properties, helps digestion and is full of vitamins and minerals. So move aside the salt shaker and bring on the pepper!

A pepper vine growing high up a tree. Can you see the strings of pepper corns dangling down?
A pepper vine growing high up a tree. Can you see the strings of pepper berries dangling down?

Turmeric (Curcuma Longa) is a perennial herb which grows to 1m tall with underground rhizomes. It produces tall, very beautiful, white flower spikes. Turmeric is now being successfully grown in the UK in polytunnels and greenhouses. Why not try and grow it yourself? Buy some fresh root from your local Asian store, leave in a paper bag in the dark until it sprouts and then plant in a large pot in your greenhouse. Rhizomes are harvested 9 to 10 months after planting, when the lower leaves are turning yellow or when stems dry and fall over. It is possible for the home gardener to just dig carefully at the side of a clump and remove rhizomes as needed rather than harvesting the whole clump. It is important to buy organic turmeric as often the active constituent (called Curcumin) is extracted, sold in tablets, and then the left over powder sold for culinary purposes.  Curcumin has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a strong anti-oxidant too. Curcumin is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream though and needs a little helping hand from pepper which will improve it’s absorption rate by 2000%.  Turmeric would be very useful in prevention and treatment of arthritis, Alzheimer’s, depression and age related diseases.

Herbalists use spices a lot in daily life with the principle that “food is medicine, and medicine is food”. I think it is really important to understand where the herbs and spices come from and to appreciate every process that took place to bring it to you and for you to use them wisely and in a sustainable way. For example, you can re-use your vanilla pods time and time again and this recipe for an immune boosting winter tonic tea can be re-used up to 3 times by just adding more water.

  • 4 large slices of fresh ginger root
  • 8 slices of fresh turmeric root
  • 2 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1 clove
  • 2 star anise
  • 3 peppercorns
  • 4 pints of water

Boil all the spices together for 10 mins, letting them all infuse in a strong decoction. Drink throughout the day, hot or cold.

Herbal coffee blends – with or without caffeine

15_1kenya_coffee_beanKicking off my first blog with a pretty big topic, one that is close to my heart and also a personal struggle as I know it is for many out there. If you’re not sure if you’re addicted to caffeine I dare you to give it up for 2 days and see how you feel.  Most report cases of headaches, lethargy, disorientation, nausea as well as muscles aches, which are classic drug withdrawal symptoms.  This can occur even if you only normally drink one cup of coffee a day. The higher your consumption the more severe the withdrawal.

In our culture we are constantly surrounded by massive consumption of this powerful and socially acceptable drug. For me coffee comes under the herbal (medicinal) category and should therefore be used respectfully.  Once considered an exotic treasure this hugely addictive substance is steeped in a dark history and blighted by the dirty secrets behind this controversial multi-billion dollar industry that most people choose to ignore.

Long-term use has been linked to high cholesterol, heart disease and osteoporosis.  Occasional organic (it is a pesticide intensive crop) cups of coffee may reduce risk of developing Parkinson’s, gallstones, kidney stones and liver cirrhosis in heavy drinkers.

Drinking coffee on an empty stomach stimulates the production of HCL (hydrochloric acid) which your stomach needs to digest food but with nothing in your tummy this action is wasted and it may find it  difficult to produce enough HCL when you have actually eaten a large meal. Instead try to substitute coffee first thing in the morning with a warm fresh lemon water to wake up your kidneys ready for the day followed by your (healthy) breakfast. If, like me, you have to have a coffee then waiting to mid-morning after all your usual detoxification processes have occurred naturally is the best approach.

If you’ve got IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), acid reflux, ulcers, diarrhoea, insomnia, breathing problems, adrenal fatigue/burn out, any hormonal issue, weight gain around your middle, anxiety or depression I’d strongly urge you to give it up.

Drinking lots of coffee will promote the release of the stress hormones cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine. These chemicals increase your body’s heart rate, blood pressure and tension levels – the old ‘fight or flight’ response.

We often say we need to drink coffee to give us energy. But has it gone further than just energy and turned into a kind of jittery tension that is always on and makes it difficult to relax? Maybe it pushes you to get through the paperwork, but longer-term the health implications of this kind of ongoing stress are significant.

I don’t want to be the fun police here, but I would like to urge you towards an occasional cup instead of daily. Why not try some of the herbal suggestions below to balance that cup or take it caffeine-free.

Watch the movie Black Gold if you dare – or drink organic Fair Trade coffee and give thanks to all the souls less fortunate than us who are part of the long chain of people who worked hard to bring this coffee before you.  Drink it consciously and bring some of the sacredness back into this wonderful treat.

Here are a few ways to spice up your coffee or try some recommended coffee substitutes.

  • Herbal coffee – try adding 5 cardamon pods to your cafetiere. Cardamon adds a grounding aspect, takes away the jitters but keeps the high.  Alternatively add ginger, cinnamon or a combo for the same effect
  • Medicinal Mushroom Chai
  • Matcha Latte
  • Golden Milk – an ancient drink with turmeric
  • Chicory – not just a coffee substitute
  • Dandelion coffee from this local supplier Lionstooth