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Posts from the ‘easy and quick recipes’ Category

Backyard pharmacy and grocery store: spring 2020

Stay safe during virus outbreak and take good care about your health with weeds and plants from your backyard and nearby forest or park!

I hope you are self-isolating and you can do so without worries, since due to nature of their work, many people still need to be out and working.

You have time now and, please, use it in a meaningful way!

The COVID-19 outbreak reached Canada in late winter and early spring. It is quite sensitive time for many Canadians because our internal resources get somewhat depleted during the long winter months when there is lack of sunshine and we stay indoors a lot. Now with the outbreak, we must stay away from other people in order to be safe and to prevent virus from spreading. Since we stay home, we can do many things which improve our immune system and provide ourselves with healthy extras.

Nature has taken good care that we always have a wide range of vitamins and minerals available to us. The best part is: everything that we require to sustain good health can be often found in our backyard, nearby forest or park. All we have to do is use our imagination, experience and knowledge and use the natural resources to our benefit.

Therefore, early spring is the best time for taking advantage of natural resources and also seeding and planting. Nature has everything, and that includes all health boosting substances, all minerals and vitamins in the most suitable and most balanced form with high bioavailability.

This year, I’m suggesting you keep nettles and dandelions in some garden corner. Especially, while their leaves are young and soft, they are a fantastic addition to either meals or preventive measures and therapy.

To survive without watering, many weeds have developed extremely wide-spread and long roots. Thanks to such roots, weeds can absorb a lot more nutrients than our cultivated plants. Weeds are also stronger and resistant to plant diseases. They grow without fertilizers and greenhouse conditions. Biologically active substances which we can obtain from wild plants and weeds are also in greater concentration, and they have very high bioavailability. Weeds are survivors among plants and they can withstand any harsh conditions. This is a very good reason to use wild plants and weeds for our benefit and for our nutrition.

Strong immune system means a lot for our health at any time, but especially during virus outbreaks. Weeds are also the first ones which come up as soon as the soil thaws. We collect different parts of wild plants and weeds: leaves, roots, flowers or the entire plant. The best time for collection is early morning or late afternoon before dusk. That is the time period when plants have absorbed nutrients and their content is high.

My family was living in countryside, not far from a small Latvian town during 60-s of the last century. We didn’t have pharmacy or drug store in the area, and, therefore, we didn’t use any synthetic medicines. How did we manage any health issues? There were not many, and we used lots and lots of herbal remedies which were available in extremely wide variety and in abundance. At a very young age, I learned how to recognize each grass, plant, flower and herb and memorize what it does, how much and what way to apply it. Therefore, I am not sharing that much clinical trial findings, but my personal findings and Latvian traditional herbal recipes.

We collect wild plants and weeds only in safe, clean places, definitely not along roads or highways with lots of traffic. Parks, where people walk pets, are also not a good idea. For immediate use, we collect healthy looking, undamaged parts of plants and we definitely blanch them. Blanching will also prevent from consuming any undesirable insects or germs.

Each plant comes with its own complex or set of useful biologically active substances. These substances are available in a well-balanced way. You can use wild plants and weeds in salads, soups, green smoothies, stews, pesto, on bread together with other vegetables or specifically for health purposes as herbal tea, extract, tincture, infusion or mixture.

Nettles are definitely a champion among natural treatments and health boosters: stinging nettle Urtica dioica, small nettle Urtica urens L., white nettle or white dead-nettle Lamium album. They grow in almost every backyard. The same goes about dandelions. Quite soon in our area, it will be time to start collecting birch buds and pine-tree buds. I planted specifically a few healthy nettles in a small area where they will be controlled from taking over other plants, hence my backyard does not have rich soil.

Nettle has everything for health

Some properties of nettle

Dried and fresh common nettle and small nettle leaves and roots, as well as white nettle flowers and leaves (they are not as rich as common nettle) can be used for numerous conditions and overall improvement of health. Common nettle is high in iron, contains vitamin C, vitamin K, group B vitamins and practically any vitamin which is useful for humans. Nettle contains numerous minerals, carotenoids and fatty acids, as well as various essential amino acids, chlorophyll, tannins, carbohydrates, sterols, polysaccharides, isolectins. Nettle roots contain oleanolic acid, sterols and steryl glycosides. Nettle seeds have also high content of these nutrients. The amount of useful compounds in plant depends on location, season, daytime of collection and how young and healthy the plant is.

Using nettle benefits any body system, but especially the immune system, nervous, respiratory system, hematopoiesis (blood formation at cellular level), cardiovascular system, muscles and bones, improves also gastrointestinal health, treats kidney, liver and gallbladder problems. We traditionally used them for joint pains.

Nettle can help with blood sugar stabilization in diabetics. It has been observed that nettle tea lowers blood sugar. Using nettle makes person stronger after exhaustion or treatment of disease. Nettle is an important herb for treatment of anemia caused by iron deficiency.

Nettle juice and tea has been used orally as an additive for treatment of tuberculosis, bronchitis, cough, whooping cough and other respiratory symptoms. Latvian traditional herbal treatments use nettle to stop bleeding in lungs, abdomen and uterus, to treat upper respiratory problems, and especially for cleaning blood and for removal of toxic substances from the body.

Nettle boosts metabolism within the body, increases hemoglobin and red blood cell levels, constricts blood vessels (thus, you cannot use with hypertension), facilitates blood clotting, development of epithelial cells and tissue granulation (wound treatment, bleeding), normalizes menstrual cycle. Nettle has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, pain relieving, calming, anti-allergic and diuretic properties. Nettle can be used with many chronic conditions when immune system cannot fight and protect us from harmful impacts.

Who cannot use nettle products and supplements or must be otherwise cautious?

People, who have hypercoagulation, e. g., excessive blood clotting disorder, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, bleeding caused by uterine tumors, cysts and polyps, people with kidney failure and these, who suffer from blood clot formation in veins (thrombophlebitis), as well as during last months of pregnancy.

Some medical literature suggests that nettle hardly affects blood coagulation (content and form of vitamin K), and other literature warns to observe caution. I would always go with moderate use which applies to absolutely everything we introduce into our diet or health routine. Always proceed with caution when it comes to health.

In April, and if it is warm, also at the end of March, we can usually collect new and bright green nettle leaves. We pick common or stinging nettle and small nettle leaves with gloves, and they also require blanching before we use them in salad, soup, omelet, stew or simply as tea or compress. Some sources advice to keep nettle leaves in boiling water for 3-5 minutes. We watch that leaves do not lose their bright green color. Then, we use a drainer and quickly submerge drained leaves into ice-cold water. We dry them in paper towel and use as we please. Stinging or common nettle goes well with anything that uses spinach as an ingredient. Therefore, similar recipes can be used. We prefer them with green onions or chives and yoghurt, kefir or citrus dressing, plus our favorite herbs.

Find remedies in the backyard

There have been clinical trials about herbal treatments. Review of some clinical trials about properties of nettle Exploration of nettle properties

Recipes and more suggestions will follow if there is any interest. Please, comment if you think you could make use of such addition. Since most people do not read anything, I’d just like to see whether it makes sense to post an article about nettle juice, nettle tea or some simple salad recipes and also dose suggestions. Any herbal supplement can cause sensitivity or other reactions. I’d advice always try tiny amount (as with food) first or discuss it with your doctor in case of a chronic condition.

The patient, calming and adorable garden neighbor cucumber: love it, eat it, pickle it!

Cucumbers are in the season. At least in my backyard garden, I can enjoy plenty of small pickling cucumbers and also long English type of cucumbers.

Cucumber recipes

There are so many reasons to fall in love with this guy: preparation of salad or cucumber juice takes practically no time. Adding cucumber to salads and cold soups, gives them so much more freshness and flavor. I come originally from Latvia, which is a place where everybody has a garden or at least some balcony or backyard plants. Cucumber time in Latvia is associated with snacking on quick pickles, one hour pickles and tonnes of fresh garden salads.

Vegetables in the garden: cucumbers

My artistic side cannot stop adoring the shape of leaves, blooms and vegetables, they are so attractive! I have painted and drawn them numerous times.

I am not sure whether the grocery store vegetables will do the same because of shipping and storage, but fresh ones from the garden can do a lot to improve our health. I personally simply love the flavor, the look and the taste of these easy to grow vegetables. All they need is watering fairly rich soil and some string to travel up.

Cucumbers: fresh vegetables

I can tell from my own experience: having about one cucumber with dill and green onions a day stabilized my very moody blood glucose levels. It became so stable that I was really surprised, I’m not sure what I will do in winter, but it works excellently for now, especially because I love eating them.

I will briefly mention that cucumbers:

refresh your breath, cure gums, destroy bad bacteria in the mouth

facilitate digestion and metabolism, kill bad bacteria in the gut, cure constipation

carry out toxins present in the body due to very specific substances they contain

stabilize blood glucose, especially with dill

stabilize blood pressure, especially with dill, because dill is a very well known blood pressure reducing herb

using for longer term, prevents cancers due to lariciresinol, pinoresinol, and secoisolariciresinol that cucumbers contain

reduce bad cholesterol due to sterols they contain

flavor will calm you and put in a better mood, this is scientifically tested and found to be working

cucumbers are an ideal product for weight loss: very few calories and lots of good stuff!

refresh skin, decrease swelling under eyes

cure sunburnt skin

help with hangover.

We could continue and continue.

Cucumbers are inexpensive and when in season: always available from farmers market and in our own garden.

So, I picked some along with plenty of dills and blossoming dill and dill stems:

Dill: the wonderful herb

For inspiration some Latvian recipes from series: I have very little time and money

cucumber recipes ingredients

5 minute cucumber salad

Cut cucumber in medium thin slices. Small cucumbers and any cucumbers must be pealed (if needed, because sometimes they have thick skin) always from the light end; this prevents from getting the whole vegetable bitter. In dry weather, small cucumbers can become bitter.

Chop generously fresh dill and green onion.

Dress with either: sour cream plus small bit of neutral mild vinegar; mix of mayonnaise and whipping cream, like I do; olive oil plus mild vinegar. Add salt and pepper. Salt is added on cucumbers directly before serving, otherwise they release too much juice and water.

Cucumber salad recipe

Dill goes so well with cucumber and has similar properties: regulates blood pressure and blood glucose levels

1 hour quick pickles

Choose a plastic or glass dish with tight lid.

Combine 2 teaspoons honey or sugar; 1.5 table spoons vinegar; 0.5 teaspoons salt, freshly ground pepper, 2-3 cloves of garlic, cut in smaller pieces on 1 long cucumber or 2 small ones, mix

Cut cucumber in slices, they don’t need to be very thin, add plenty of chopped dill and finely chopped green onion. Close with lid. Shake well for about 30 seconds. Leave in room temperature for about 20 minutes, place in fridge until the meal time. 20 minutes is already enough. Serve.

1 hour pickles

Next day mild pickles

Pour water in a pot. Amount depends on how many jars you make.

On 1 litre water: 2 table spoons kosher salt; 2 table spoons sugar

Bring to boil. Meanwhile wash small pickling cucumbers. Cut off both ends. Stuff in a jar blossoming dill/dill with stems, 2-3 cloves of garlic per 1 l jar; add some whole pepper, place cucumbers tightly. Cherry and black currant leaves go well with it. Use just 1-2 on each jar. Pour over hot water. If desired, add some spoon of vinegar, but that is not necessary if you don’t like vinegar. Put on lid, leave in room temperature for quicker results, place in fridge to use after 2 days.

Next day ready pickles

When left in room temperature, these pickles are ready after 12-15 hours, sometimes even faster. The smaller vegetables, the faster they get pickled. They absorb neither much sugar, nor salt. If you add very little, there won’t have any decent taste. We have very many variations of this type of cucumber recipes in Latvia, I just described the absolutely simplest and quickest.

Cucumber recipes

I love all of these, and I put new quick pickles in some jar every second day. After I’m done with quick pickles, I will put in some cucumbers for winter. Winter pickling recipe is obviously different.

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