Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Herbal Truffles

Because Valentines Day is coming up I thought I would share my recipe for Herbal Aphrodisiac Truffles. I use simple herbs that are wonderfully balancing and supportive to the libido. Maca (Lepidium meyenii) and Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) are delightful adaptogenic herbs that support and balance the stress response and are known aphrodisiacs. These plants work in various ways to improve and harmonize the overall physical and mental well-being.

Maca is a herb native to the high Andes of Peru and Bolivia where it is traditionally used as a aphrodisiac and for enhancing fertility. It grows under harsh conditions where few plants can survive. It is a tenacious and nourishing plant that helps to build energy and stamina.

Ashwagandha is particularly useful in cases of  fatigue and nervous exhaustion, and helps to induce a state of calm and restfulness. It is well known to increases sexual stamina and desire. Ashwagandha is a particularly tonic herb for the whole body. Kiva Rose has a wonderful monograph on this herb.

Aphrodisiac Truffles
2 tbsp Maca root powder
2 tbsp Aswagandha root powder
1 tsp Cinnamon
2 tbsp Almond meal
Enough honey to make a thick paste (sorry I don't have an exact amount, I just pour from the jar and guess)
Cocoa powder to roll the truffles

Mix everything but the cocoa together in a bowl. It should be a thick paste like cookie dough. Roll into small balls (about a teaspoon) then roll in the cocoa powder. That's it! To store them in the refrigerator add a bit more cocoa to keep everything from sticking. They should keep in the fridge for a few days, up to a week. Eat a couple every day to build your energy and desire.

Enjoy! Happy Valentines Day.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Homemade Beauty: Hair Mud

It seems I have a lifelong quest to find natural products to use on my body, ones that don't have any crazy ingredients. I spend a lot of time reading labels and every time I buy a product, invariably I soon read something that makes me question the safety of some ingredient in the product. I have learned that I often have different standards for what I put into my body and what I put on it.

Take glycerin for example: a humectant made from vegetable oil (or animal fat) that finds its way into all kinds of body products. It's vaguely edible and made from plants. There should be no problem right? Well... It is made from plants (soy, corn, cottonseed), plants which are often genetically modified. But you can't just go up and press these seeds and expect oil to come out. You can't make the oils at home. They are highly processed and to make glycerin you take a highly processed product and process it more. I try not to consume such processed things, so why would I put it on my body?

Over the years I have experimented with many different hair care products in my quest for finding a natural shampoo that didn't cause any problems for my skin (many products make me break out or get a rash). Sometimes they work wonderfully, sometimes they don't. But they are never quite the same as conventional hair products. In the past I would sometimes cheat and steal some of my sister's shampoo when I visited her. I always loved how my hair felt just after using something like Herbal Essences (note: not very herbal). Then I would start to break out and my hair needed washing again by the next day because it would get so greasy. I don't know what they add to shampoos to make so you can't go very long without washing your hair. It's a racket I'm sure!

Lately, due to frustration, I just haven't been washing my hair. And you know what, my hair is much healthier and softer now. I'm really starting to like my natural oils. And my skin is clearer too when I don't use shampoos, which is a big plus for me!

One thing that I really like to do is to put a clay mask on my hair. I learned about clays and hair from my friend and coworker Risikat. She is an expert on natural black hair care and teaches classes on the subject. She mentioned how good clay masks are for locks. So even though my hair has a very different texture I figured I would give it a try, and I loved it. I usually add clay to shampoo, or to jojoba oil and leave it on my hair for 10 minutes before rinsing it out. Clay is a wonderful, natural addition to home beauty products. Green clay is very absorbent and helps to draw oils, toxic substances, and impurities from the skin and hair. Because it is drawing it can help to stimulate circulation to the skin.

So now I am trying to make a kind of Hair Mud that I can use more regularly. I mixed up some aloe vera gel, green and red clays, distilled water, and some essential oils into a liquid mud mixture. It's very simple and that is kinda the point.

Hair Mud
1/4 cup aloe vera gel
3 ounces green clay
1 ounce red clay
10 drops of essential oil* (I used lavender and fennel)
enough distilled* water to make a pourable liquid

*too much essential oil can be overpowering in the mud.
*water needs to be distilled or well boiled to avoid introducing bacteria into the mix.

It's not a shampoo, but is balancing for the hair and helps to wash away excess oils without stripping the hair. One thing to note is that if you stop washing your hair with shampoo, oil production slows down significantly. When you constantly wash out the oils your body goes into oil production super-drive. It takes a few days to weeks to balance out, but the results are worth it in my opinion.

You can purchase clays and many other wonderful herbal products at Mountain Rose Herbs.

Wild Foodies

I have several friends, some real, and some bloggers, who are amazing cooks and wild foodies. I love pouring over their blogs and finding recipes. I have a soft spot in my heart for dessert. Because of my studies in health I try to stay away from gluten (the protein found in wheat and several other grains). I do not have Coeliac disease, but a mild gluten sensitivity where my throat starts feeling scratchy and itchy. Fortunately, I don't get any really painful digestive symptoms, worsening of seasonal allergies, or anything more than an annoyance. I know that sensitivites tend to get worse as the immune system gets weakened by the stress of dealing with the offending food. For this reason the amount of baking I do has gone way down. And that's OK, but it makes it very exciting when I see posts for things such as Gluten Free Cream Puffs or Lemon Pudding Cake. I won't lie, Butter and Rebecca might be my favorite wild foodies ever. They are always using fabulous foraged foods from the west.

As much I as I want to wildcraft my dinner, where I live it is not a real possibility, at least not without driving to a more remote location. I live just outside of DC, as in I cross the street and I'm there. I know there are many urban foragers who will argue that there are plenty of finds to be had if you look. I agree. There are plenty of wild edibles. My problem is I know too much. For one, there is a lot of car and general city pollution in DC. Two, the soil generally has a high lead content from all the paint and leaded gas that used to be in style. I don't really want to put that into my body.

So until I have my little cabin in the woods, far away from urbanization, I will let my mouth water as I read these blogs.

Cauldrons & Crockpots
Hunger and Thirst

Thursday, January 19, 2012


I love to make things, especially beautiful things. I am an herbalist and an artist, though my artistry is mostly wrapped up in creating tastes and healing magic. I love medicine making and using plants to heal, as well as to flavor the world around me. I hope to share some of that here.

My roots are in Northern California where I spent every possible moment I could at the Yuba River, hiking down its many trails trying to find a quiet swimming hole with a nice high rock to jump off of. Simple pleasures. The Yuba is very much a part of me and calls me more than any other place. I feel instantly restored as soon as get on one of the dusty trails and slip into the icy water.

Hardly the time of year to be thinking of going swimming though. There are also natural hot springs out there... I imagine myself out snow camping, in a pool of hot water surrounded by snow, sipping a hot ginger decoction (maybe with a little hawthorn and rose added for good measure), and gazing up at the stars.