Flowers and berries in modern herbal medicine: Elderberry

Growing, Healthy activities, Healthy Food, Organic Herbs and Teas

Materia Medica: Elder

Common names: Elderberry

Latin name: Sambucus nigra var. canadensis

Parts used: Flowers and berries in modern herbal medicine, all parts historically.

Action: The flowers are a wonderful diaphoretic! Fevers are the body’s way of fighting off infections, so we don’t always want to lessen a fever, unless it’s either too high or has been going on too long. For a fever they’re beautiful in a tea or even in the bath, but tinctures will work well too.

Elderberry

Elderberry

Elderberries are antiviral and are an immunomodulator, which means they help the body balance to whatever level of action the immune system needs to fight infections. The berries make a lovely tincture, syrup, or elixir (combination of the two!) to prevent infections, and when taken during acute infections can lessen the infection’s severity. You can dry the berries too and add them to teas, they’re in our Heart Chakra blend, as well as the Everyday Wellness!

Elderberry plant

Elderberry plant

Once you can identify elder, and are aware of its healing properties, you’ll see it everywhere! Highway ditches, roadside creeks, your backyard! It’s a shrub and not a tree, and if you see one in the wild you’ll probably see 50! It prefers wet feet, which is easy to get in rainy Florida, and as of the last few years has taken to flowering almost year round! We’re lucky to have an elder shrub growing in the Dandelion garden and it is one of the happiest cultivated elders around! Tall, prolific flowers and berries, and keeps both its neighboring human and bird population very happy (the birds eat the berries too!).

I love to use elder daily in the wintertime, when everyone around me is full of cooties. It makes a beautiful and delicious preventative drink, and is was from inspiration from the elder that created the Everyday Wellness herbal tea blend at Dandelion!

Elder really is a pharmacy within a plant, and a tasty one too! Please enjoy these links to learn more about elder from some brilliant teachers:

Kiva Rose’s elder monograph

Rosemary Gladstar’s Garden Wisdoms: Elder Medicine

Jim McDonald’s Elder monograph

Eat The Weeds: Elderberries: Red, White, and Blue

Organic Urban Gardening In Orlando, Florida

Cooking, Growing, Healthy Food, Uncategorized

On this blog, The Dandelion Community is sharing stories from urban organic farmers to help those who want to add fresh vegetables to their daily meals at home, and those who are thinking about going even bigger by contributing to local restaurants, co-ops, and famers’ markets.

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Photo Caption: Mint growing in soil at Southern Urban Gardens. They trim often to ensure continuous growth throughout the year.

The biggest challenges associated with organic urban gardening include finding space to grow enough food to feed a family. Much like gardeners all over the world, they must also find a way to cope with local environmental conditions such as weather and access to clean water and soil.

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Photo Caption: Constantly developing seedlings is necessary to support the growth needed to grow daily vegetables for meals.

Here is a story of Ralph Holweck and Gail Tyree from Southern Urban Gardens in Orlando, Florida. They have been organic gardening seriously for several years and have found solutions for overcoming the challenges of space, heat, water, and soil, so they can produce vegetables for their own table and grow enough extra vegetables to supply two local co-ops.

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Photo Caption: Organic aeroponic “Tower Garden” used by Southern Urban Gardens supports their family and two local co-ops with leafy vegetables throughout the year.

Gail and Ralph currently combine an aeroponic growing system and soil-based gardening to get the best results. Ralph and Gail spent a lot of time researching the best methods of urban gardening and started out slowly so they would not get overwhelmed and quit. They continue to find better ways to get more vegetables within the small space of their backyard.

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Photo Caption: Ralph and Gail found suitable organic seeds to grow healthy and great tasting bell peppers in their tower garden.

They made a decision to use their tower garden for the steady production of leafy vegetables as it reduces the amount of space needed and is easy enough to manage without needing a greenhouse. Finding the right varieties of vegetables that will grow in the heat and tower garden is a challenge. However, Gail and Ralph learned that urban gardening is a lot like the rest of life. You have good days with wonderful leafy vegetables for a daily salad. Then, there are bad days in which the heat is too much for the seedlings they choose to plant that week. Or, to know how to have enough seedlings growing constantly so you will enjoy vegetables daily.

Yet, Ralph and Gail seem to thrive on these little challenges and find ways to make it work. They both agree that there is nothing better than having organic vegetables to set upon their table day in and day out.

To accommodate the heat in Orlando, Gail and Ralph have added a reflective gardening shade cloth over the towers. They found that it is worth the extra money, in comparison, to the performance of typical gardening shade covers.

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Photo Caption: Gail and Ralph invested in reflective gardening shades in order to be able to grow veggies throughout the summer.

Gail and Ralph put a lot of effort towards developing the right soil mixture to grow additional plants that are not suited for the tower gardens. Due to the unusual heat throughout October of this year, Southern Urban Gardens has just started to plant additional vegetables in the soil area of the garden. This area in their yard is finally seeing the cooler nights that are the right temperature for growing in soil. They are looking forward to digging in the soil and seeing what varieties of vegetables successfully grow this year, as compared to last year.

Photo caption for the two images below: Gail loves nothing better than walking out in the soil section of their garden, in the morning, to find the red cranberry hibiscus in full bloom. Days like this make the work seem more like a labor of love.urbanlr5urbanlr7

Ralph and Gail of Southern Urban Gardens are more than willing to share their stories of urban farming and show you how you can benefit by using a mix of aeroponic systems and soil gardening to enjoy fresh, organic vegetables almost every day of the year.  Southern Urban Gardens sell the “Tower Garden” (by Juice Plus) systems.  We (**or Dandelion**) purchased a system from them and Ralph and Gail were extremely helpful in educating and helping us get setup to have a running start.   If you’re interested in organic hydroponic gardening, contact Southern Urban Gardens through Ralph at rdholweck@gmail.com, or call at (407) 247-3843.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH BAKED ZITI

Cooking, Healthy Food

butternut_squash

serves 6-8

Mark made this dish for us in Colorado after another day of hiking. This is a beautiful fall weather dish! (Even if you’re in Florida and it’s not cold!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb box whole wheat pasta
  • 1 butternut squash, cubed
  • 5 tbsp EVOO
  • ½ white onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 ½ cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp rosemary
  • dash red chili flakes
  • dash of sage
  • nutmeg to taste if desired
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Place 2/3 of the cubed squash into a medium/large pot, cover with water, and lightly salt. Boil until tender enough to puree.

Meanwhile, in a separate pan, simmer chopped onions, 3 tbsp EVOO, salt, bay leaf, 2 pinches of rosemary, red chili flakes, and black pepper. Sweat until onions are translucent.

While these are cooking, toss remaining 1/3 of cubed squash in 2 tbsp EVOO, salt, pepper, and remaining rosemary, then place on an oiled baking sheet. Cook in 400 degree oven until browned, flipping once.

When the pot of squash is done boiling, drain, then cook for a few more minutes on low heat to evaporate excess water, then transfer to the blender. Puree until smooth, set aside.

Start cooking pasta al dente.

In the pan of onion blend, add flour and whisk thoroughly until moisture is soaked up. Let this cook for a few minutes until light brown. Whisk in almond milk. Bring to a strong simmer, stirring often, until it thickens. Careful not to burn! Once it thickens, add pinch more salt, a dash of sage, and the pureed squash, mix, then take off the heat. If desired, add nutmeg to taste. This should be the consistency of an alfredo sauce.

Put sauce, roasted squash cubes, and drained pasta into a mixing bowl, then stir until coated. Put into oiled baking dish, top with cheese (vegan or dairy). Cover with foil, bake in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Uncover, cook for additional 10 minutes. Then switch to broil to brown the cheese for approximately 3 minutes.

This pairs well with a nice light salad and a fireplace!

For more wholesome recipes visit:

http://dandelion.kitchen

Annual SPARKLE Market

Local Orlando Businesses, Orlando News and Events
Sparkle is an outdoor event featuring unique, talented, CF artists and their handmade goods. Come peruse the best hand made jewelry, organic body products, pottery and much more. This premier event takes place on Dec 6, 2015, at Dandelion Communitea Cafe. Eat well and shop handmade! This event has free parking. Follow the Facebook event page and invite your friends: Sparkle Facebook Page
Taking vendor applications until November 1.

Looking for new ways to cook healthier for the Holiday’s?

Healthy Food, Organic Herbs and Teas, Orlando News and Events
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FRESH STARTS COOKING CAMP 2015 will give you some great ideas. Starts on Tuesday November 3rd at 7pm for a total of 6 classes.
Join Chef Amy, graduate of The Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC and Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts in this cooking series to learn how to prepare fresh, healthy, seasonal and organic meals. In each session you will learn about whole organic food and how to prepare it. Each class will include recipes for you take home along with resources on where to find the best quality food. These classes will guide you to become a seasoned home chef ready to prepare what’s growing locally in your neighborhood.

Testimonials from past Campers:

“Amy is the perfect instructor for this series of classes. She moves easily between conversation and demonstration to share her knowledge of nutrition and cooking technique. We all have heard the message that healthy and delicious food choices and preparation are accessible to all of us but Amy will inspire you to actually revise your grocery list and make changes to your daily diet. Greens are great.”
-Russ

“Amy is a wonderful, friendly, welcoming person. And with her training and experience, she is a very effective teacher and an efficient chef. Her recipes are simple but delicious. She loves answering questions about food and sharing kitchen tips, and you will learn a lot in her class. I know I did!”
-Mari

“Chef Amy has changed my kitchen forever! My vegetables are no longer just boiled, and chopping them is faster and much more fun! Her recipes are delicious and serve as a great starting point, but her techniques are what make cooking even possible for me. The amount of time they save and the fun they bring get me in the kitchen and wanting to be creative!”
-Jerven

CAMP SESSIONS

Session 1: Go Green. Chef Amy will kick start the series with an educational lecture on how to select quality ingredients. She will discuss the benefits of eating organically and the realities of how most of our food is produced. We will prepare seasonal dishes with local greens. Dishes may include depending on availability: bok choi, kale, collard greens, sorrel, spinach and Swiss chard.

Session 2: Somewhere Over the Rainbow of Vegetables. Chef Amy will explain how to select the freshest seasonal vegetables and the most nutritious ways to prepare them. Cutting and cooking techniques for fresh vegetables will be the focus. In this class, you will learn how to incorporate vegetables into every meal and snack of the day.

Session 3: Sea Vegetables Aren’t Just for Mermaids. Chef Amy will identify a variety of sea vegetables and discuss the powerful health benefits of incorporating them in your regular diet. We will create easy dishes and snacks from these trace mineral rich treats from the sea.

Session 4: The Great Whole Grain. Chef Amy will discuss what a whole grain is and the benefits of choosing whole grains over refined grains. We will identify a variety of whole grains including oats, quinoa, rice, amaranth, millet, freekah and farro. We will prepare whole grain dishes that may be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Session 5: The Perfect Plant Protein. Chef Amy will demonstrate the best ways to cook dried legumes. She will discuss the benefits of consuming legumes as a staple source of protein. We will cover how to create tasty dishes from our nutritious little seeds.

Session 6: Soups On! Chef Amy loves vegetable soup all year round. Its an easy meal, side dish or snack that you can make ahead of time and enjoy anytime of the day. We will learn how to make a fresh stock as a base for our homemade soup du jour.

Camp Details

Each class will include a health and recipe packet, sampling of the dishes we create and homemade beverages.

Class Schedule:
Tuesday ‘s from 7-9pm
11/3/15
11/10/15
11/17/15
no class week of Thanksgiving
12/1/15
12/8/15
12/15/15

Location:
Homegrown Local Food Cooperative
2310 N. Orange Ave.
Orlando, FL 32804

Tuition: $150 for the entire Camp!

To Register email Chef Amy:
amyrupert@mac.com
www.tangibletaste.com