Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Wild Hickory Nuts! Fall Foraging Win!

Having rounded the corner of Labor Day, here in the northeast the days are noticeably shorter as the Autumnal Equinox comes into view.  In less than three weeks, it will be Fall, and that is a perfect time to harvest the bounty of nuts that our forest and woodland tree friends provide.  American chestnuts, hickories, black walnuts, white walnuts - also known as butternuts - and beechnuts can all be used for snacking or in baking, and will enhance your recipes with a distinct nutty flavor.

Stately shagbark hickory, Roseland, NJ  (photo credit:  author)
As part of my herb/weed walks, foraging is interwoven with the medicinal local plants.  Wild nut trees are all around us, often dropping an abundance of food clearly at our feet.  Oftentimes when walking through the woods, I see the nuts on the ground first, cluing me in to their proximity.  Shagbark hickory trees are easily identified because they look like someone stopped while pulling long strips of bark away from the trunks.  They can grow to be over 100 feet tall, and can live to be well over 350 years old.  Once a nut takes root and grows into a sapling, it takes about 10 years to bear nuts, and can produce for about 90-125 years.  Their botanical name is Carya ovata, and they are in the Walnut family (Juglandaceae), which currently also includes pecans and beechnut trees.

Shagbark hickory fruit is rich and creamy, often tasting like a cross somewhere between a pecan and a walnut.  The nut will fall to the ground in a green husk, (also referred to as a 'bur'), and sometimes will appear with brown spots.  Usually four-five seams will be visible, and will widen as the husk dries, making it easier to remove the shell that encases the nutmeat inside.


It can be fun to gather these green hickory nuts with children and bring them home for an exquisite treat!  One method of gathering is to remove the green outer husk as you pick them up, and toss back onto the ground to re-fertilize the area.

Once home, check for any that look moldy or discolored, or even contain a distinct perfectly round tiny hole. (possibly from a nut weevil that exits after eating the yummy nutmeat).


Then toss the nuts in a large bowl about half filled with water.  The ones that float are questionable, so set them aside to crack immediately.  The nuts that don't float should be dried for several weeks and then stored unshelled in the refrigerator.  For longer shelf life, store them in the freezer.

Cracking tips:  Some folks will tap them with a hammer on a stone floor.  Others will cover with a cloth and use a hammer so that the sharp shell pieces don't fly around.  Use a nut pick to coax out the nut meat from the shell.  Extremely fresh nuts will be a little more oily, so some folks choose to let them dry for a week or so before extracting the nutmeat.  

Storing tips:  Other than eating them straight out of the shell (challenging to stop once you start!), you can try soaking the nut meats in brine, and then roast them for a crunchy, salty flavor.  Or you can roast them slightly in a dry frying pan, or bake at 200 degrees for about 10 minutes, but the flavor won't be as rich as directly roasted nutmeats.   Alternatively, you can store the nutmeats in the freezer for up to 6 months - but why would you?


Save the shells for the hearth or fire pit!  The shells are hard as rocks, but because they contain oils, they will burn slowly and evenly for a delicate hickory scent or toss them on the BBQ to add a subtle hickory flavor to meats.

So try them out this fall.  Let me know what you think!

Green Blessings,
-Donna




Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Some Thoughts on Winter Health Care for Toddlers

In the last two weeks, three different people have asked me about how to keep their toddlers healthy during the winter months without resorting to over-the-counter or prescription medications.

I am happy to share my personal experience with my own infant daughter 27 years ago, as well as what her experience is currently with her daughters.  I do want to remind folks that I am not a doctor, and if your child is truly not well, please take them to a doctor or your local ER if the situation warrants that level of care.  

That being said, here are some winter health alternatives that truly DO work!  (Please note that I do use affiliate links, and, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.)


Eat the Most Healthy Food You Can Afford

What is more important than the food we feed our families?  I am well aware that today's busy, hectic run-from-pillar-to-post lifestyle doesn't afford us the time to shop and cook like our Moms or Grandmoms may have cooked, and from scratch to boot. Do the best you can, with NO self judgement! 

Even if you can only afford the time or money to eat one organic, non-GMO meal a week, or only add one organic ingredient to a meal at a time, then that is what you can do and be proud of your Self for the loving effort of doing so for your family.  Make changes slowly and replace one conventional food product with one organic or non-GMO food product a week and, in a year, you will have replaced 52 foods with healthier versions!  Bravo!  (This is a larger topic for a whole blog post of its own!)

Friday, December 21, 2018

Some Thoughts on Hope, Kindness and Compassion as We Welcome Back the Light!

As we approach the the end of the year and pause to enjoy the varying celebrations that take place around the world in December, including Winter Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, my thoughts turn toward reflection and renewal. 

Ending one year and beginning a new one can be a difficult time for many, and I've seen a noticeable uptick with clients, friends and family feeling discouraged, disheartened, and frankly, hopeless.  Without a doubt, these are unsettling times, and the world seems more challenging each day.  Anxiety, depression, pessimism, a sense of feeling forlorn, disconnected, alone, hopeless, helpless, broken and even a sense of worthlessness can surface at any time, yet seems to carry more weight at this time of year more than any other, rather highlighted and brought to the fore.  Some have even said that they have feeling of utter dejection and have such a bleak outlook that they feel numb to the happenings around them.  Unfortunately, "I'm at my wit's end" and "What's the point?" seems to be the new seasonal jingle. 


Friday, April 7, 2017

Another Reason You Should Limit Your Exposure to WiFi and Other EMFs

For at least the last 15 years, I have been warning folks about the dangers of EMFs (Electro-Magnetic Fields), ELFs (Extremely Low Frequencies), WiFi and other unseen micro-wave radiation 'waves' that are all around us due to the use of electrical appliances and devices.   From smart TVs to smart appliances to smart meters, these waves bombard us constantly and from every direction.  Does your mattress have metal springs and coils?  If you keep your WiFi on at night, and have an electric alarm clock near your bed, then you are amplifying the EMFs into your body as you sleep every night.


Whenever I see a teenager or a young adult with their smartphone stylishly tucked into their bra or pocket, I ask them if they realize they've got the equivalent of a mini-microwave against their skin.  When patients have come to me with hip and lower back issues, I always inquire where they usually carry their cell phone.  Without fail, the answer is always in the same pocket or place on their body.

In today's world, it is becoming increasingly harder and harder NOT to have a cell phone, and especially the higher frequency smart phones, because, not only are we tied to our families and our jobs, but also to our addiction to constant internet access.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

12 Amazing Benefits of Chaga Mushroom

(Reposted from:  RiseEarth:  
http://www.riseearth.com/2017/04/12-amazing-benefits-of-chaga-mushroom.html)


by Elisha McFarland; My Health Maven

Superfoods is the buzzword across the internet. You can’t talk about superfoods without thinking of medicinal mushrooms such as Chaga (inonotus obliquus). Chaga mushrooms are making news with their amazing health benefits including treatment for cancer. Chaga has been traditionally used for treating gastrointestinal cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes in Russia, Poland and most of the Baltic countries.

What are Chaga mushrooms?

Chaga doesn’t look like a typical mushroom, in fact many people might mistake it for a knot or even a burned spot on the tree. Typically it grows on the on the exterior of birch trees and can grow in a variety of shapes and sizes.




Wednesday, April 1, 2015

2015: The International Year of Soils

We will be hosting a free viewing of "Symphony of the Soil" at our holistic center, Grace of Angels, located in Chester, NJ on Wednesday, April 22 at 7:00 PM.  

Come and celebrate Earth Day with a movie and discussion!

From the iMDB Film Summary:
Drawing from ancient knowledge and cutting edge science, Symphony of the Soil is an artistic exploration of the miraculous substance soil. By understanding the elaborate relationships and mutuality between soil, water, the atmosphere, plants and animals, we come to appreciate the complex and dynamic nature of this precious resource. The film also examines our human relationship with soil, the use and misuse of soil in agriculture, deforestation and development, and the latest scientific research on soil's key role in ameliorating the most challenging environmental issues of our time. Filmed on four continents, featuring esteemed scientists and working farmers and ranchers, Symphony of the Soil is an intriguing presentation that highlights possibilities of healthy soil creating healthy plants creating healthy humans living on a healthy planet.

About the Year of Soils:
The 68th UN General Assembly declared 2015 the International Year of Soils (IYS)!
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has been nominated to implement the IYS 2015, within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership and in collaboration with Governments and the secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.
The IYS 2015 aims to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions.

Additionally, PBS has a wonderful documentary entitled, "SOS:  Save our Soils", which can be viewed here:   http://video.pbs.org/viralplayer/2365301480


However you choose to celebrate Earth Day, remember to be gentle with the Earth and her resources EVERY day!

Green Blessings!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Tree Orienting: Bridging the Human and Botanical Worlds

I had met Jen Frey of Brigid's Way at this year's Mid-Atlantic Women's Herbal Conference in Kempton, PA that was held at the beginning of October.  She spoke about Tree Orienting, and it just completely resonated with me.  So, today I traveled all the way out to Lancaster, PA to participate in a Tree Orienting workshop that she was hosting. Tree Orienting originated as a collaboration between Damanhur, Italy and the Wisdom University in 2011.  From Damanhur's website:

Tree orientation is an initiative that Damanhur has proposed since 2011. The community participates in this project along with many friends worldwide, most of whom are part of the Popolo Spirituale, as part of the Global Tree Network. The purpose of Tree Orientation is to bring the human and plant worlds closer together, as they once were. 

Damanhur's Spiritual Vision gives great importance to communing with the physical and subtle forces of nature that are represented by plants and nature spirits. The trees are large, living antennas of our planet. On the Summer Solstice, the trees launch a signal into the cosmos about the health of our planet, and at the Winter Solstice, they receive a return signal. For many years, their message has been a cry of despair because humans are destroying nature. The community of Damanhur and the many supporters of this initiative around the globe have made a commitment to transform the cries of the trees into songs of joy.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Four Benefits of Getting Back to Nature

Source:  http://www.riseearth.com/2014/11/4-benefits-of-getting-back-to-nature.html

From this informative article:

"Author Richard Lou, who published the bestseller “Last Child in the Woods,” wrote about what he called a “nature deficit disorder” in relation to children, but he ultimately became overwhelmed by adults with stories about their own disconnect.
He’s not the only one to come upon this realization. More and more people have noticed a disconnect, which is largely credited to a world that’s constantly surrounded by technology. While communication is easier than ever, the quality of that communication is rapidly decreasing, which is why many are looking to take a step back from technology and reconnect with nature. It’s a good idea for everyone, with numerous benefits, including the following." 


Read the whole article here.

Friday, October 10, 2014

"Symphony of the Soil" Movie!

THIS is an excellent documentary about the need to care for this vital natural resource. I've watched it several times this summer. Look for an upcoming Discussion and film viewing in our Samhain newsletter later this month. Green Blessings!

 


Read the full article here.   

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Keyhole Gardening

Recently, I learned about a relatively simple way to have a raised garden that combines recycling and composting and can be a boon to folks during summer droughts or those who live in arid climates since it requires less water!   From what I have read, they first appeared in Africa in areas with very little water and rather infertile soil.  Villagers used whatever materials they had access to, and the idea for this sustainable gardening style was born.

Since early in September, I have been collecting used bricks with the intent of re-purposing them into a 6' diameter keyhole garden in my backyard.  Based on an idea from fellow herbalist, Shelly Moore, I intend to create a separate keyhole garden for each body system, and plant the corresponding medicinal herbal allies accordingly.  Shelly has done this in her yard, and I totally loved the idea because it is not only a great way to add to my teaching gardens, it also reinforces to my students that many medicinal botanicals can be beneficial to several organs or body systems at the same time - so it can help when creating a client-specific triune formula.

Here is a link to HGTV's description of keyhole gardens:
http://www.hgtvgardens.com/raised-garden/keyhole-gardening-tips

Here is one 'blueprint' for a basic 6' diameter keyhole garden: