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

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!!

Why Plant based Health Options? Part 2

Last time we explored 3 markers for considering health benefits and risks – clinical effect, side effect and lethal dose 50. We discovered that when using papaya leaf that the dosage level from one marker to the next is very large, making the possibility of negative results highly unlikely. In a lethal dose 50 study done by Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, the lethal dose 50 test found that this plant is safe according to EU (European Union) and WHO (World Health Organisation) standards.

Let us consider a concept called “poorification” which results when chemicals are isolated from their naturally occurring neighbours. The body is highly complex, to make a gross understatement. Many chemicals involved in healing receive synergistic effects from companion chemicals found in the plants from which they are derived. Therefore, poorification occurs when plant based chemicals are removed from plants and purified.

How will we successfully minimize the negative economic effects of such diseases as malaria? Let us look at the numbers. In Uganda, where malaria is endemic, people get this life threatening disease twice annually on the average. With over 40 million people they have over 80 million cases of malaria annually!! Plants can provide millions of doses of medicine, per hectare!!, making this treatment option a workable solution.

What about the drawbacks? I have been hard pressed to find any and would welcome any stories, anecdotal or otherwise, from you. I know that in countries where post mortems are not routine, that if a person tries a treatment then dies of a totally unrelated cause, that the treatment can be seen as the cause of death. This is a potential drawback.

Often where money is a constraint, people will wait until they are almost dead to go to a clinic. Perhaps a week. Once at the clinic they frequently die as the disease was too far advanced to treat. With plant based options people can treat themselves at early onset, improving their chance of surviving, and thriving! Treatment time period is commonly 3 days. Thus the person can try two dosage levels in an attempt to get a clinical effect before they would normally go to the hospital.
People must understand that symptoms which might indicate a particular disease may be something else and they need to remain open to the need to go to hospital or a clinic to seek treatment and or diagnosis.

Please take some time to research such options and consider your ability to make positive change through being informed.

Kind Regards

Off to Haiti, 2015

I am once again privileged to be able to take a month to spend in Haiti.

Children’s Lifeline, http://www.childrenslifeline.com/, has asked me to do agricultural education with the local community. I am currently thinking about using a 3 square model – composting, trees and vegetables being the 3 components.

Covering the soil with mulch or compost in tropical climates helps reduce the effect of intense sunshine. This improves the microbial life and the soils fertility.

Thanks for your interest in reducing poverty, disease and improving food security. I hope my postings have helped you thrive.

Take a little ride up the road to Children’s Lifeline compound – hang on!!!

Kind Regards, Tim

What would you like for Christmas?

My friend asked me what I would like for Christmas. My reply was my two front teeth!! Really what I would like is an end to global hunger.

Science makes real progress each year in feeding the world. GMO’s have produced massive amounts of food and they are controversial, and I am not supporting or rejecting them. Time will tell. GMO’s have focused on annual plants while tropical agricultural stability and stability of food supply may rest on tree based agriculture – deep rooted, drought resistant plants. For people from the northern hemisphere with continental climates, please consider a different approach rather than a variation of annuals based agriculture – we have warm and cold seasons while tropical climates have wet and dry seasons.

One website says that 90% of the poorest of the poor live in the 10/40 window. Areas with tropical climates. So how do we improve their food security?

In Niger farmers may plant their crops up to 5 times in order to get a good plant population. This requires an incredible amount of work and seed. Tree based agriculture negates this as the trees simply go dormant during periods of drought and grow when rains start. No uncertainty of food supply.

Moringa has many benefits. It is a complete food – contains all 9 essential amino acids and vitamin C. People from the developed world have been indoctrinated on the need for a varied diet etc etc. People who lack resources like a 4 burner stove, an oven and lots of pots and pans, often eat a limited variety of foods. So what option do they have for realizing good nutrition? How about 1 food that has it all?
People living in tropical climates with wet and dry seasons, may dry food in order to survive the lean, dry months. This food may be used to feed humans and animals. What about a single source complete food packed with nutrients? Moringa leaf powder has many benefits. Take a look at these stats…

http://www.africamoringa.co.za/moringa_health_benefits_nutrition.html

http://www.moringapowder.com/

eating mooring for natural health

 

(This is not an endorsement of these company products or to be construed as medical advice).

A great source of information is to put moringa leaf powder into your favourite search engine and take a look at images – tons of great info!!

Have more(-inga) energy in your day.

Kind Regards, Tim

PS You do not need to be a bonafide nutritional expert to know whether you feel better after eating a food!!

Moringa Powder and Orange Juice

Hey Moringa Lovers,

I have read about drinking raw moringa leaf powder with orange juice but never tried it, until recently. It is great!!

Moringa powder has a distinctive flavor – it is a very rich organic taste with some horse radish like heat. This taste is completely masked by the orange juice. Very cool!!

I have also sprinkled the leaves on my food which is the recommended method of ingestion by anamed – Action for Natural Medicine. (anamed.net) This method has very little effect on the taste of the food, while allowing us to get the benefits of the raw powder.

Cooking does denature some of the components, but the only way to eat the immature pods is boiled in salty water! This is a food which is full of beneficial oleic acids, commonly associated with olive oil and very abundant in moringa oil.

Morgina has amazing benefits

Have any great moringa recipes? Feel free to share them here.

Kind Regards, Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for the Holiday Season,

Tim

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