5 Potent Medicinal Herbs In Your Back Garden

Having previously lived in a remote area of Sweden, It was a long way to the supermarket so I would often look into the garden and beyond to see what we could grow or see what was already growing. I was surprised by some of the herbs that I found that were not only abundant but also extremely nutritious and tasty. I also grew my own potatoes and nearly started a forest fire in the process but anyway we won’t go into that right now.

Power up your meals with these herbs that would provide you with some healthy nutrition and immune boosting powers for the cost of, well, pretty much sweet nothing.

1.Stinging Nettles. 

I don’t know any back garden that doesn’t have a few stinging nettles in them, and the young leaves are best plucked and eaten in the Spring time. They provide a wide variety of nutrients, including vitamins A, C and K and several B vitamins, minerals such as Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium and Sodium and some healthy fats to include linoleic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid and oleic acid.  Its also believed that eating stinging nettles in spring can purify the blood.

Wear protective gloves to gather the rich green Spring leaves, and gather in a bag or basket and then take them home to wash. The leaves make a delicious soup which I believe tastes quite similar to spinach, and I know what you’re thinking, no the leaves don’t sting at all when cooked.  The Spring leaves also freeze very well so you can have them all year round.

Recipe to try:  Stinging Nettle Soup 

2.Dandelion. 

Chances are there will be a few dandelions in your garden. Most people think of dandelion as a weed, but the plant has long been used in herbal medicine, the roots are anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal and the Dandelion leaves are a natural antioxidant, and a digestive aid. The entire dandelion plant from root to flower is edible with a slightly bitter, chicory-like taste. The leaves are high in fibre and high in vitamin A. If you find the leaves too bitter on their own why not try adding them to your smoothie with a mixture of other fruits and veg to balance out the taste, or you could also add them to a stir-fry as they are not so bitter when cooked.

Recipe to try: Marinated Chickpeas with Quinoa and Dandelion Greens 

3.Horseradish.

These look very similar to weeds, kinda like a large dock leaf, and they spread like wildfire so there will be a lot in one area. When you start to pull them up thinking that they are weeds, thats usually when they giveaway their scent, the smell of the root is very pungent. You would more likely find this root in a large garden with wild areas of fauna or in hedgerows and ditches. We mostly use Horseradish to make a sauce and its so tasty with roast vegetables. Horseradish root is packed with nutrients and phytochemicals which can boost the strength of the immune system and stimulate the activity and production of white blood cells, the body’s main line of defense. The vitamin C content is also impressive which can boost the strength of the immune system.

Once picked just wash and peel it, and then it can be grated and mixed with cream and other ingredients to make a eye watering sauce which goes very well with roast beef or roast vegetables.

Recipe to try: Horseradish Sauce. 

4. Wild Fennel.

Wild Fennel is a common plant usually found in coastal areas in the UK, mostly in hedgerows and fields. Its appearance is very delicate and nothing like the cultivated Fennel that you find in supermarkets. You wouldn’t eat the bulb of the wild variety, its the delicate fronds and stems that are the edible part. They taste delicious chopped and garnished on potatoes and on soups especially fish soup. Fennel is usually available from autumn through to early spring.  Wild Fennel has many medicinal properties such as enhancing the eye sight and is also great for digestion.

Recipe to try:  Wild Fennel Ice-Cream 

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Photo by Pranav Pancholi on Pexels.com

5. Evening Primrose.

This pretty yellow flowering plant is entirely edible. The young roots can be peeled and boiled  and taste great served with butter as you would serve boiled potatoes.  The early leaves are cooked and eaten as greens and added to salads. The flowers of Evening Primrose make a pretty edible garnish and have a mild lemon-pepper taste.

Evening primrose contains protein, carbohydrates, beta carotene, calcium, potassium, and vitamin B3. This plant also contains high levels of gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) which is important in supporting the immune system and regulating hormones, making it very affective at treating PMS.

Tips to try: How to balance hormones using Evening Primrose Oil. 

So next time you are in your garden or the park or on your country walk, take the time to look around and you never know you might find some tasty treats.

Here are some of my favourite UK foraging sites that might spark your interest a little further and provide you with some useful insights into the world of foraging for general eating, enjoying and pleasure to medicinal healing.

 

 

 

Easy Chicken Bone Broth Recipe

Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body and the primary component of connective tissue in our skin, bones, muscles, cartilage, tendons, blood vessels, and also the gut. Collagen production declines as we age which is the main cause of fine lines and wrinkles that we develop over time and it can also be damaged by smoking and other forms of oxidative stress such as pollution, toxins, bad diet, drinking alcohol, too little sleep, too much stress etc.

The first time I heard about the benefits of bone broth it sounded too good to be true, nutrient dense, healing, reduces inflammation in the respiratory system and improves digestion and not only that it can boost the immune system, detox your cells and heal disorders such as allergies, asthma and arthritis as it contains minerals in forms that your body can easily absorb such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur among others. 

So where do I start?

Its pretty easy when you know how but I must admit until I bought the slow cooker it was a bit of a task as you need to simmer the bones from 12 – 24 hours to get the full benefits. The simmering causes the bones and ligaments to release healing compounds like collagen, proline, glycine and glutamine that have the power to really transform your overall health. With a slow cooker you can just switch it on low and leave your broth to simmer all night without worrying about leaving the stove on. A slow cooker for anyone who is not used to cooking with one, is like a big casserole dish which easily plugs into the electric wall socket. 

First things first

Always choose organic grass-fed meat for the best health benefits. I usually start by cooking a chicken roast on the Sunday and I put the leftover carcass in the slow cooker. I add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar which helps to extract the vital nutrients from the bones, also I add a little Celtic salt, garlic and fresh herbs, ginger, vegetables such as cabbage, carrots and maybe coriander seeds  or seaweed to really give added flavour and nutritional value. Then just turn on the slow cooker and leave for 24 hours.

When you have finished simmering this nutrient rich broth, strain it into a saucepan or bowl so you just get a clear liquid and then pour into a suitable jar. When cool put into the fridge.

The broth sometimes forms a layer of fat at the top which can be spooned off and used to fry your food and the rest can be re-heated as a soothing and healing drink. I usually have a small cup of bone broth per day to optimise the health potential. However if you don’t like the idea of drinking it but really want to enjoy the benefits you could use the broth to cook rice or pasta and this way you will still be absorbing the goodness but in a different way.  

 

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So why not try this ancient healing broth and see what it can do for you. Regularly drinking bone broth or using it in recipes can really help to promote a healthy gut and reduce inflammation and give enormous overall health benefits. 

How To Improve Your Digestion And Lose Weight Fast

I have never been a fan of fad diets, I have never actually had a weight problem and I wasn’t meaning to lose weight but I did by doing just this one thing.

So how did I lose weight and why did I lose weight?

I was struggling with a digestive issue, lots of heartburn and indigestion for months and I couldn’t get rid of it, I was sick of it, the doctors were giving me acid blockers which are so bad for the body and the more I read about them the more I was determined to stop them but what nobody told me is that they are really hard to ween off, as the symptoms just get worse.

By blocking my stomach acid, I increased my chances of vitamin deficiency and indigestion and catching parasitic bugs. I was desperate to stop taking them so I researched and read about the problems associated with undigested build-up of carbohydrates which sounded like my symptoms.

We all eat way too many carbohydrates in our diet, if you think of the average western family we mostly eat cereal or toast for breakfast, then eat a sandwich for lunch and dinner will most probably include pasta, rice or potatoes,  our carb ratio is way too high and I was guilty of being a huge carbohydrate muncher, I loved potatoes and pasta.

I gave up the simple carbs such as rice, potatoes, and bread for three weeks and noticed my weight drop from a size 10 to a size 8 really quickly,  I have loads of energy and my digestive issue is much better, all this just by cutting out simple carbohydrates and it wasn’t difficult at all.

I swapped rice for ‘caulirice’ which is delicious and I ate great big breakfasts with everything except the bread so an example would be a poached egg, haloumi, avocado, mushrooms and beans, samphire or spinach. If I didn’t have time for a big breakfast I would eat a natural bio yogurt made from sheep or goats yogurt and add a banana, kiwi or fresh figs and more nuts and seeds, also gluten-free porridge seemed to be fine.

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For lunch I would do a huge salad with organic chicken and lots of nuts and seeds and roast sweet potato and feta, lots of greens and broccoli rice, and I ate a few chickpea crackers along with it if I craved crunchy snacks which I do. I ate very little in the evening such as a soup or a smoothie as its easier for your digestion and I didn’t snack in between meals I would drink a glass of water if I felt hungry.

It’s better to leave 4 hours gap between dinner and bedtime so your body can heal and rest during the digestive process, this will improve your sleep too so your body isn’t busy and just focuses on rest instead. It wasn’t a strict diet and I didn’t feel like I was starving myself at all, I didn’t feel like I was missing anything, it was a little inconvenient if I was out sometimes as I would have to think and plan a bit more but most places cater for gluten and keto diets nowadays so it wasn’t too difficult.

So if you want to lose weight the healthy way just decrease the carbs and make it a smaller ratio of your diet, carbs contain a lot of sugar too so its really not great to bombard your system with glucose, so you will be helping your body out in more ways than one, and you will notice the difference just within a few weeks.  I also improved my digestion by taking a betaine HCL tablet before big meals and took digestive enzymes after meals and this cured my indigestion.

I haven’t been back to my doctor for months and when I next do feel the need, I will turn to food and nutrition first as what we eat holds the key to the whole functioning of our bodies. But always check with your doctor or a healthcare professional first if your symptoms persist.

 

 

 

 

 

A Hormone Balancing Smoothie

Are you troubled by hormonal problems, perhaps you have an estrogen dominant condition such as fibroids or endometriosis? Hormones control nearly every aspect of how we feel and could be behind a whole range of symptoms such as joint pain, fatigue, headaches, depression, and digestive issues.

My top 5 smoothie ingredients for happy hormones include fibre, healthy fats and lots of antioxidants. 

Avocado – A healthy fat which helps to reduce the absorption of estrogen so if you are estrogen dominant this would be a good option. It’s also rich in Vitamin B6 which supports healthy metabolism and nervous system. Avocado can also lower stress hormones in the body and improve serotonin levels needed for a healthy mood

Broccoli – Contains natural compounds such as glucosinolates and sulforaphane, which helps reduce the risk of estrogen-linked cancers and eliminates excess hormones from the body that can disrupt our cycle. Kale is also great for balancing your adrenal glands, which help regulate the hormones necessary for fertility, mood stability, and energy levels, it is also rich in iron and contains sulfur which detoxes the liver.

Flaxseeds – Rich in antioxidants and compounds called lignans which have been shown to help regulate estrogen levels. Chia, Pumpkin or Hemp seeds would also work well for hormone balance.  Hemp is an excellent source of protein if you are a vegetarian and supplies the body with all 3 omegas.

Blueberries or Kiwi – Too much fruit in your smoothie can cause high sugar spikes which would create an imbalance of blood sugar levels so its best to only add a small addition of fruit to your smoothie, kiwi is abundant with vitamin C and blueberries have high antioxidant activity so either a small handful of blueberries or a kiwi is enough fruit for your smoothie.

Maca –  originally from Peru this superfood enhances energy, vitality and is proven to support hormone balance and improve fertility chances, it also tastes great so is a goodie for your hormone balancing smoothie.

Mix all your chosen ingredients with your favourite plant-based milk, dairy from cows is full of hormone disruptors so avoid cows milk, I love Rude Health almond milk or coconut milk, coconut is rich in amino acids, healthy fats, minerals, and B vitamins which would be beneficial to your hormones and almonds are a source of vitamin E, copper and magnesium which is vital for a healthy endocrine system.

Berry Nice Hormones Smoothie

  • 1 hand full of Blueberries
  • Half Avocado 
  • 1 Tbsp Hemp Seeds
  • 1 Tbsp Pumpkin Seeds
  • 1 Tbsp Maca Powder
  • 4 Broccoli Florets
  • A glass of Coconut Milk

 

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Then drink at room temperature, Ayurvedic practitioners believe that icy drinks can interfere with your digestive fire and cause dampness in the body so it’s always better for your system to drink your beverage at room temperature to avoid causing strain on your kidneys and liver.