Nettle Gomasio

I don’t know about you, but I love Gomasio.  Gomasio is a dry condiment traditionally made from toasted unhulled sesame seeds and salt.  It is often used as a toping sprinkled over rice.  In my case, I sprinkle it over just about everything that comes out of my kitchen.

Gomasio is typically made with tan or black sesame seeds. The seeds are toasted before being mixed with the salt. Occasionally the salt is also toasted. The ratio of sesame seeds to salt varies according to taste and diet, generally ranging between 5:1 (5 parts sesame seeds to 1 part salt) and 15:1.

Gomasio made it claim to fame in the US as part of the macrobiotic diet movement and is thought to be a healther alternative to ordinary salt. Generally, the gomasio used in macrobiotic cuisine contains less salt than traditional Japanese gomasio (a ratio of 18 parts sesame seeds to 1 part salt.

Interesting factoid: Gomasio is also used in Japaneese to describe a head of hair containing both white and black hair strands that intermingle, similar to the English idiom for hair that is salt and pepper.

In this version of Gomasio, I started with left over Nettle Chips.  If you haven’t had nettle chips, it is just a variation on the more popular Kale chips populating the grocery isle.

Nettle Gomasio

Suribachi

4 cups of Nettle chips

1/2 cup of pine nuts

1/2 cup of sesame seeds

1/4 cup of nutritional yeast

2 T. of kelp

1 T. of rosemary

2 T. of corriander seed

1/2-1 cup of Himalayan Pink salt

 

 

Step one: dry roast the sesame seeds by gently warming them in a pan over medium heat, tossing or stirring constantly, until brown, then move to a bowl.

Step two: combine the corriander seed and pine nuts in the same pan and dry roast until slightly brown, then combine in bowl with sesame seeds.

Step three: combine the remaining ingredients into the bowl and stir together until well mixed.

Step four:  place ingredients in food processor, suribachi or other type of grinder.  Process until done and store in glass jar.

Sprinkle on soups, pizza, rice, cooked vegetables and anything else you can think of that you would be using salt for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nutritious and Tasty: Nettle Chips

Recently I discovered Nettle chips.  I love kale chips, but I thought using nettles was brilliant, since nettles are packed with vitamin C, calcium, potassium, flavonoids, histamine, and serotonin along with a host of medicinal goodness.  After an online search, I was a bit disappointed by recipes so into the kitchen I went.

indexActually, I started with visiting my secret patch to gather nettles.  When harvesting nettles, don’t forget your gloves and to wear a long sleeve shirt to prevent stings.  The best time for harvesting nettles is while the leaves are still young and haven’t gone to seed.  Once the plants start to go to seed the formic acid increases and can be irritating to the bladder.  Formic acid is one of the chemicals present in nettle stings along with along with histamine and acetylcholine.

After gathering a grocery bag full of nettles, I carefully rinsed them and let them dryIMG_4223 before I took the next step.  In my experience making tasty kale chips is all about the sauce, or in this case the paste.  After some experimentation and based on my kale chips recipe this is what I came up with.

I combined the following in a blender:

1 cup of tahini

1/2 cup of soaked sunflower seeds

1/4 cup soaked pepitas

3 cloves of garlic, skins removed

1/4 cup of sesame seeds

1 tsp of smoked paprika

1/2 tsp of dried ground gingerIMG_3691

2 T. of nutritional yeast

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp of Himalayan salt

1/2 tsp of black pepper

1/2 cup of beet kavas

After blending the ingredients into a paste, I continued to add more beet kavas until I got the consistency was somewhere between a paste and dressing.  Using gloves, I poured the blender contents finishedover the nettles and massaged until the leaves were well coated.  At this point, I filled food dryer trays with the coated nettle leaves and set the temperature to 115 degrees.  It took about 8-10 hours to completely dry, but again, this varies from one dryer to the next dryer.  They turned out great, the only caveat is that I could have added more salt.

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Blood Nourishing Tonic- East meets West

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Anemia and Blood Nourishing Tonic

Blood is a vital substance according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In fact in The Book of Leviticus it states, “the life of a creature is in the blood”. In Western medicine, blood is defined as a bodily fluid that delivers necessary substances, such as nutrients and oxygen, to the cells and transports metabolic waste products away. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “blood” dates to the oldest English, circa 1000 AD. The word is derived from Middle English, which is derived from the Old English word blôd. Throughout history and cultures, blood has held both medical and mystical importance. In the Greek and Roman Humoural system, blood was associated with air, springtime and a sanguine personality. They believed it to be produced by the liver. Blood became the basis for one of the oldest medical techniques “bloodletting”. In fact an interesting fact was the bloodletting or “bleeding” a patient to health was modeled on the process of menstruation. Hippocrates believed that menstruation functioned to “purge women of bad humors”.

Qi-300x300As we turn towards the East in TCM, blood has a different meaning. In TCM, blood is itself a form of Qi. Although difficult to translate the word “Qi”, I think of it as a all encompassing life force or energy. In fact, in TCM they consider blood inseparable from Qi itself. It is believed that blood is nourished from the distillation of the nutrients that we take into our body (food Qi). Given this outlook, one can start to see the interrelationship between the importance of eating well and the health of your blood. For instance, think of cholesterol, and the relationship between food and the buildup of plaque in our blood. Although this blog post isn’t about our digestion, you can see now important a well running digestive system is to blood health.

Deficient blood is often an underlying and missed issue in many conditions, especially those related to inflammation and circulation. In TCM “blood deficiency” include low blood pressure, various forms of ischemia, cold fingers and toes (including Raynaud’s syndrome,images both primary and secondary), and fatigue (high blood pressure for other reasons may also be present). Other slightly less common symptoms include thinning hair, heart palpitations, dizziness upon standing (postural hypotension) or vertigo (especially if there is hypoglycemia), falling asleep of arms, restless legs, frequent infections, menstrual cramps, headaches of various sorts, slow healing, low sex drive, sinus issues, ringing in the ears, nails that break easily or grow slowly, and low blood sugar. Fertility can also be affected, as the uterus requires adequate blood. Pregnancy is another time that requires an adequate supply of healthy blood. Our joints, ligaments and connective tissue are also sensitive to blood deficiency, since they get the least amount of blood. Sometimes blood deficiency does not present as full-blown anemia, but is still an underlying condition. There are some medical issues that blood deficiency is either directly related or an outcome of another condition.

Since food is considered our first medicine, I will outline some foods that help to nourish your our blood and then talk about one herbal remedy that is also useful. To nourish blood one has to increase the digestive absorption of the food that is eaten and add specific food to generate healthy blood. I will cover increasing absorption of nutrients in another blog post. indexThe nutrients most need to build blood are iron, folic acid and B12. Adequate protein is also crucial. In order to absorb iron we need to have adequate levels of copper, B and C vitamins. Greens, greens and more greens, as long as it isn’t mostly spinach are a great source of iron, along with legumes, grains, nuts and seeds. Algae and seaweeds are also excellent sources, although use sparely, since they are a super food or super concentrated. The Japanese made a blood builder out of pounded sweet rice and mugwort, or for a Western version you can use nettles. When blood deficiency is severe, protein from animal sources might be chosen. Dark grapes, blackberries, huckleberries, raspberries are also great. Actually one of the best sources of iron is organic animal liver, but honestly most people can’t get it down, and prefer it as a desiccated pill. When one builds blood naturally there is less inclination for constipation, a consequence of taking it in tablet form.

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Rumex crispus (yellow dock)

I have been experimenting with making a self-stable blood nourishing syrup. My primary target is pregnant woman, so using herbs that are designated, as safe during pregnancy is vital. There are many Chinese herbs that are great blood nourishers, including dang gui (angelica sinensis), rehmannia root, and peony root, not all safe during pregnancy. Since I am all about a bioregionalism approach I have primarily relied upon what grows in my garden. The base of my syrup is blackstrap molasses, an iron rich food source. I grow medicinal herbs so used yellow dock root (Rumex crispus) as my main ingredient. Although a pain to dig up and process, I find it is more medicinally active than in the dried form. I also included rose hips to potentize its effectiveness with Vit. C.  I also added orange peel for its carminative properties and cinnamon for its ability to enhance circulation. This recipe makes 2 quarts, so divide it depending on how much you want to make. When making syrups, I tend to cook them over several days to extract as much medicinal goodness as possible.

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After 3 days of cooking

 Anemia and Blood Nourishing Tonic*

1/2 cup of rose hips

1-cup dandelion root

1-cup of alfalfa leaf

3-cups yellow dock root

1-cup nettle leaf

1 cup raspberry leaf

2 T. kelp powder

1-Tablespoon of orange peel

1 cinnamon stick

2- qts of blackstrap molasses

Combine the blackstrap molasses and herbs in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce, heat and simmer on low for one hour, let sit overnight, repeat for 3 days. Or you can use a crock-pot set to the lowest setting. Strain and bottle
For adults who are blood deficient, 1 tablespoon 3 t.i.d is recommended, if using as a tonic, 1 Tablespoon a day is adequate.
For children, 1-3 teaspoons daily is sufficient.

*Recipe is based on dried herbs.