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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Making Medicinal Herbal Fruit Leather

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Herbal Fruit Leather

A few years ago I bought a food dehydrator and started to play around with making a whole host of raw foods, including fruit leather, crackers, granola, taco shells, etc.  At one point I started to add powdered medicinal herbs to some of my fruit leathers.  These included elderberry, astragalus, ashwagandha, shatavari, chlorella and many others.

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Around the same time I started experimenting with making concentrated herbal decoctions for clients.  During this time I remembered a lecture I attended when Christopher Hobbs was describing how to make dried decoctions, so I began to experiment with drying my concentrated decoctions.  At that point I stated adding fruit, vegetables and whatever else I could think of. In terms of client compliance, it has been exceptional, people like eating their medicine.  I would encourage you to use your imagination and start experimentation.

IMG_3813The following is the process I use to get five full sheets of herbal fruit leather:

I start with 2 pounds of whole herbs (roots) and add 8 quarts of water. I cook the mixture with the lid off for 2 hours and then remove the lid cooking for an addition 2 hours.  I then strain the herbs out of the liquid and continue to reduce it down until reduced to 10 cups of decoction. At this point I add  aerial herbs, cover and let infuse until cool. I strain it again to remove herbs and add any additional powers that I have on hand, for example maca, acai, beet powder, green foods, etc. If I am adding any additional fresh food, for example blueberries, I will dump the whole thing in a blender. When I have finished adding additional items I add 1 tablespoon of marshmallow root powder and 1 tablespoon chia seeds per cup of liquid. I let it sit for an hour to thicken up, if it isn’t thick enough I add more marshmallow or chia seeds or if too thick, I add liquid.   You want it to be thick enough that it flows like thick pancakeIMG_3814 batter, but not too thick that it doesn’t flow. You can even add tinctures to enhance the action of the decoction. Dry in your dehydrator between 95-100F, for as long as it takes to have it be completely dry.

I am a big proponent of incorporating medicinal herbs into our daily food and think this method is just another option.  Use your imagination but remember not all herbs taste great, so this method isn’t great for all herbs.  Taste the herb and this will tell you whether or not if might lend itself to this methodology.  The sky is the limit so feel free to experiment.