Of Grape Leaves and Bulrush flowers…

The heat this spring/early summer is putting the pressure on for harvesting.

This week we will explore fox grape leaves and bulrush ie cattail flowers.

Fox grapes are the wild variety you see growing on fences, up trees and around hydro poles. They have heart shaped leaves, serrated edges and may be lobed; they have small, purple berries in August through October. This post will focus on the leaves, as the fruit can be used as any grapes but need extra sugar.
Following is a link to an excellent article on the health benefits of grape leaves.

http://www.healwithfood.org/health-benefits/eating-grape-vine-leaves.php

Fox Grape Leaves

I harvest the leaves as early as possible in the spring and after the leaves have unfurled. I check the under side for snails and other insect activity as they seem to be quite popular with bugs!!
I simply put them on a piece of paper or plastic and let them dry in the house. When dry I pound them ie put them in a large can and used a rounded end stick to pound them, like people pound grain to make flour using a mortar and pestal. Then I put them in the blender to make a powder. No recommendations yet on how to use them!!

Bulrush flowers are way ahead by calendar this year due to warm weather. Following are a couple of picture so I can explain (a picture is worth a 1,000 words!)

Narrow Leafed Bulrush

Narrow Leafed Bulrush

Broad Leafed Bulrush

Broad Leafed Bulrush

The first bulrushes to flower are the narrow leafed ones. The flower should be picked while it is still green and hard along its full length. These flowers start to release their pollen by swelling from the top down. The flower on the left (in the first photo) has started to release its pollen, I picked the right hand one which still had some of the paper on it. The paper is easy to remove, just grasp it and pull up. Narrow leafed bulrushes have a gap between the flower and the larger piece which becomes the head commonly associated with bulrushes.
The broad leafed have no gap between the flower and the base. You can see it where the color changes. It is not difficult to figure out in the field.
I just break the flowers off at their base, put them in the freezer, and cook them in a roasting pan with meat and other fixin’s. Boiling them in salty water for 5 minutes also yields a tasty treat. I am going to try pickling them this year. I call this lowland asparagus as the taste is slightly similar. Try it, maybe you’ll like it!!

Here is a good article about the health benefits:https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/cereal/cattail.html

When eating this delight, please note there is a stringy core which you need not eat.

I like to harvest my plant material away from highways and heavily traveled routes due to toxins from exhaust fumes and other vehicle fluids.

Remember, if in doubt leave it out. Also, mother nature has a cornucopia of treats for you!! Got any good stories for me?

Tim

Prickly Predicament – Pickled Thistle Flowers!

Eating thistle flowers sounds like a job for giraffes or some other tough tongued critters.
During the cold days of winter I enjoy eating these chewing treats – the flavor, to me, is wonderful.
The flowers should be harvested when most are still not blown, that is, most are still buds. You will find many are infested with spiders, aphids, spit bugs and a host of other insects. But don’t despair. There are many which are clean – those are for you, the others are for the bugs.
Put on a pair of thick gloves. I used a thick leather glove. Just pull off the bud clusters that you want. The point here is do not try to harvest the flower buds one at a time – too time consuming – and the small stems are okay to eat. Want fiber in your diet? You’ve got it.
I put all the buds and bud clusters into a plastic sieve with big holes and give a bang on the wall outside – so any spiders fall out. Spiders curl up into a ball when startled so this allows them to escape.
Next, wash with running water under the tap. Put in a pan. Add vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar), water, sugar, your favorite spices and seasonings and bring to a boil, allow to simmer a few minutes to soften the thistle buds and put into sterilized jars for your winter pleasure – in my humble opinion!
Some of my experiments have ended up in the compost heap but I have also discovered some pretty good wild treats! Either way the price is right.

Next time we will explore mother natures free greens – wild lettuce. Yum, yum.

Tim

Mother Nature’s Planting sprouts…

Dandelions are ancient history and new treats are popping up the garden. Here’s one of my favourites…

Lamb’s quarters are especially tasty fried up with onions on a bed of rice, in my humble opinion, of course.

If you like charts, here is a link to a bunch of nutritional ones…

http://skipthepie.org/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/lambsquarters-raw/compared-to/spinach-raw/

There are oodles of great reports on how to collect, store and prepare this free veggie on the internet. I have even pickled the seeds which are delicious in mid winter.

Please take ample time to correctly identify your wild treats. If in doubt, leave it out!!

Happy foraging. What are your plans for the big grocery bill savings? I’m planning my next excursion to Haiti on mine!

Tim

Mint – Refreshing Taste, and Healthy

Mint tea or mint flavored drinks hot or cold, are my faves.

Great for drinks, seasoning and condiments

Great for drinks, seasoning and condiments

All mint family plants have square stems which helps identify them. There may be 13 to 18 different plants in this species – with varying flavors! Peppermint makes a nice iced tea treat for summer evenings.

Here’s a great little article on growing mint –

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/the-dos-donts-of-growing-mint-147458

Mint is also super healthy. I credit it with keeping me cold free this past winter. Try out this info –

http://www.livestrong.com/article/263229-what-are-the-health-benefits-of-mint-tea/

Picking is very simple – harvest the leaves and stems before flowering. Cut them off cleanly so the plant heals quickly. If flowers forms, nip them off. Flowers can also be dried for seasoning and drinks.
I dry mint on a piece of paper or plastic.
After drying, I put the material in the blender to make a powder. This takes up less storage space. I stop and start the blender numerous times, pushing the material down when the blade is stopped, in order to overcome bridging in the blender container.
Good luck! Enjoy the hardy, healthy flavor of your favorite mint treat!
Tim

Upcoming treats and natural foods from mother nature – june berries and bullrush, aka cattail, flowers

Curled Dock – powerhouse vegetable

I call this veggie curly dock, it seems so much more fun!
Curled or yellow dock is your best friend if your looking for greens full of protein. This easily identified edible is rich in vitamin A and protein.
The leaves become bitter as they age, so early picking saves you from puckering!

Curly Dock

Curled dock comes in a variety of species, they vary in bitterness and sourness.
It can be used fresh in salads, or eaten as a boiled vegetable. Change the water several times when boiling to reduce the bitterness, according to Lee Allen Peterson’s Edible Wild Plants book. ISBN 0-395-31870-X. I enjoy dock as one ingredient in a stir fry, with onions, of course! I also pickle it along with other spring wild edible plants like wild mustard. These pickles are very enjoyable in the bitter cold winter months – they bring spring a little closer when summer seems so far way.
Happy picking and remember, if in doubt, leave it out.

I have found that correctly identifying herbs can take several years. By watching them through their life cycle, ie early leaves, flowering, seeding phases, I have become very familiar and confident. Just need to make sure not to become overconfident!! Rubbing the leaves between my thumb and index finger to get the scent is helpful sometimes for identification. Also, locating sources of plants takes time. A Sunday afternoon drive or taking a different route home from work can yield great picking locations. Be sure to ask the landowner if it is private property!

Tim

Dandelions and Your Health

Everyone loves to experience those cheery yellow flowers in their lawn in spring – yah, right!
Well they definitely have great qualities. You may find them beneficial to your physical and financial health – amazing way to fight the high cost of fresh veggies.

Following is an article on the nutritional benefits of dandelions.

Dandelion Flower Health Benefits

Here is another more in depth article – just makes you want to get out there and pick dandelions!

http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/dandelion-herb.html”>

All these nutrients are stored up in the flower buds as well. If this is your preferred method of eating them. I like pickled flowers and flower buds – delicious!

Mother nature is a treasure trove of goodies. We need to educate ourselves, try a few ideas and get the benefits. Some of my ideas have ended up in the compost pit, so don’t be reticent to try yours!

Tim

PS Just enjoying my first ever cup of dandelion flower tea. Very pleasant!!

Food for the Homeless

Identifying, harvesting and preparing wild foods is a fun and money saving adventure. During the cold, dark winter months, I pour over my edible plant guide. Looking for insights and knowledge. The internet offers a plethora of images to heighten your skills of identification, and articles to wet your appetite for herbal cuisine.

After the long winter, spring is a great time to get outside, breath the fresh air and harvest wild foods. Wild mustard is an early spring favorite. The cluster of small, white flowers is easily identifiable, along with its peppery aroma when crushed between the fingers.

Wild mustard is a peppery, pleasant tasting herb. Great for fresh salads, on sandwiches and in stir fries. It has many excellent health benefits, also. See the following link.

Health benefits of Mustard Greens

Mustard greens can be successfully frozen for use in stir fries at a later time.

Wild mustard comes in many different shapes, sizes and flower colors. Good luck and happy hunting!! If in doubt, leave it out(side)!!

Generally speaking, eating flower buds is something I enjoy. Our favorite flower, the dandelion, offers a tasty, nutritionally sound spring tonic. More on this next time.

Tim, keeping it healthy – physically and financially!!

Do people need options? Read on…

Follow this link and decide for yourself!!

http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Health-ministry-apologises-mishaps-Global-Fund/-/688334/3129562/-/njonbi/-/index.html

Kind regards, Tim

Maternal and Child Health

This weekends meeting on maternal and child health concluded that women need access to birth control. Not forced but family planning. This is a noteworthy recommendation.
All such suggestions come with the assumption that people can afford such interventions – as provided by the “western” medical establishment.
Unfortunately, most cannot. Money does not largely exist to research low or no cost plant based methods of, in this case, birth control.
In Indonesia, many women eat green papaya fruits for birth control. These fruits contain progesterone blocking substances. The quantity of such phtyo-substances varies from fruit to fruit and region to region. So putting a neat recommendation of dosage on such remedies is difficult. Suffice to say that eating papaya products in general is very safe.
Perhaps this is an area where significant resources should be placed if there is real interest in maternal health – rather than profits.
The internet is flooded with papaya based studies on a variety of topics, so feast yourself!!
Kind Regards, Tim

Short term missions and, yes, diarrhea!!

Most missionary and many adventurous travelers have had a bout of Montezuma’s revenge, otherwise known as dysentery, diarrhea, the scoots, Aztec two step, Basra belly, Rangoon runs, Tokyo trots, you get the idea!
It is my contention that this misfortune is largely avoidable. Which is good news unless you enjoy trotting!
Conventional prophylaxis include DUKORAL (registered trademark)and Pepto Bismal (see warnings) while treatment includes peristaltic inhibitors like Immodium. These are all options for prevention and/or treatment.
This website has some good information: http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/travelers-diarrhea

Nature’s Pharmacy

Different body types seem to tolerate discomfort at varying levels. I have a type A body – a little tense at the best of times. So cramping does not suit me at all.
During my many missions trips, I have discovered plant based treatment options. Ideal for me, being financially judicial, and the citizenry of many developing nations who have economic constraints. Working through and with a group called Action for Natural Medicine, anamed, www.anamed.org,I have discovered that eating of a 2 inch square piece of papaya leaf every day reduces the chances of acquiring the runs. Also, regularly drinking papaya tea provides the same active ingredient.
Papaya trees are very common and easy to grow in the tropical climate. They produce prodigious amounts of greenery (leaves) and thus provide lots of doses of medicine per hectare.
The leaves are also a good treatment for malaria, which is a topic for another day.
The reason for this blog post is to determine if there is sufficient interest in papaya tea to warrant the creation of a business. This enterprise would supply missionaries and travelers with a specified supply of papaya leaf tea bags to improve health outcomes while traveling abroad.
Health is never a guarantee, but taking proven preventative measures is advisable. This business would itself be a mission to those producing the product. Creating life giving work to those who benefit from same.
Please feel free to do your own research as there are many scientific studies which prove the efficacy of this approach. Then provide me with your feedback. I am looking for organisations and individuals who are wishing to support missions while doing same, or enjoying their travels – through using a proven, plant based approach to health care.
No pricing strategy is currently in place.
Thank you in advance for your feedback, as we move forward to better health outcomes.

Kind regards, Tim Wise

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