Friday, November 22, 2013

California Bay Nuts

Coffee substitute?  Bay nut truffles?  If you don't already know, get hip to one of our yummiest native wild foods, California bay nuts. Relative to the avacado, the California Bay Laurel (Umbellularia californica) has a myriad of uses from food and medicine, to furniture, flooring, cabinetry, and other woodworking.  

On a recent field trip to Point Reyes my son and I collected a bunch of bay nuts.  I brought them home and sat them in a bowl on the table to fully ripen. 

After all the skins were pretty dark, I peeled off the outer fruit which resembles a tiny avocado.  I then gave them a good rinse in a colander and roasted them in a shallow baking dish for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees.  I let them cool and cracked off the shells which revealed the bay nuts looking almost identical to roasted coffee beans just bit lighter in color. Into the grinder they went (with some cacao nibs for good measure of course!) and very own roasted Bay nut coffee.  It's pretty delicious, I must say I'm hooked, especially with fresh, frothy cream and honey.  Well worth the effort, all natural, hand gathered and without that jittery effect coffee can have.  Now I just need my year's supply! Here is the link to a great local video on how to process bay nuts.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tonics For Winter Wellness

Hey holistic health enthusiasts! Here are some of my favorite easy and effective ways to keep up a strong resistance through the fall and winter seasons.  All of these recipes act as prophylactics against cold and flu. Incorporate some or all of these into your weekly routine and you should notice an increased sense of vitality.  Don't forget your exercise and sleep!  

      I am in love with this stuff!  A wonderful liver and blood tonic, beet kvass is a surprisingly tasty fermented beverage made from raw beets, filtered water and whey.  A friend gave me the idea to add fresh lemon and ginger to mine.  Here is a basic recipe. (Definitely reduce the salt as the recommended amount is very salty.)

A vinegar infusion made with organic raw apple cider vinegar, garlic, onion, horseradish, ginger, and cayenne pepper.  This concoction is rich with acetic acid, mineral salts and vitamins.  The acidity kills many forms of bacteria on contact and helps aid healing and cleansing in the body as well as fight infection.  Fire cider is strongly ant-bacterial and anti-viral, great for boosting immunity and fighting off sickness, especially when taken close to onset.  It can be taken straight or added to water, juice, etc.  It is very spicy so nice to take with a spoon of raw honey.  Check out my recipe here.
     Add raw garlic to everything, fresh or cooked it does wonders for your immune system.

      Seaweeds like kombu, wakami, and nori make great additions to soups, stews, salads and main dishes.  They supply optimum nourishment, enhance immune function, and revitalize cardiovascular, nervous, digestive, and endocrine systems.  

      Honey is anti bacterial and demulcent, meaning it relaxes, soothes and protects tissues.  Honey is also nutritive and mildly laxative.  It is beneficial for relieving dryness in the throat and for treating cough and difficulty swallowing.  Combining honey with a strong infusion of sage is a classic preparation for relieving hoarseness and respiratory congestion.

-    MISO
      This fermented food is rich in vitamins, iron, potassium, anti-oxidants, and live lactobacilli, which enhance your body's ability to extract nutrients from food.  Miso is easy to make at home.  This is the recipe we use.   

      Kale, collards, mustards, dandelion- all do wonders for your health.  Eat daily chopped fresh in salads, steamed with high quality butter, sauteed with fresh garlic and ginger, or add to soups.  These greens will give you your dose of vitamins and calcium, while keeping you looking and feeling youthful and radiant.  
      Shitake and reishi are medicinal mushrooms.  Both are adaptogenic, revitalizing, regenerative, and able to directly suppress infection.  Cook mushrooms well (do not eat raw, as the chitin in the mushrooms needs to be cooked for awhile to break down).  Make a strong mushroom tea or broth for a nourishing morning drink.  

      Chicken, beef, fish and vegetable stocks are all super foods!  Bone broth can be a rich life enhancing foundation to to any meal.  A pot of simmering stock is an essential part of our kitchen.  We also make weekly root immunity soup.  Use the crock pot if you like, add astragalus and burdock roots, potatoes, carrots, garlic, lots of ginger, onions and seaweed. Cook until roots are soft then add miso, tamari, a squeeze of lemon or lime and some dark leafy greens or sprouts at the end.  

      Here's to winter wellness!!