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LAVENDER ALLY BLOG

A Mother’s Garden - Tended with Love.

This blog is in memory of my very loving mother, my best friend and life long mentor.

 

My mother was brilliant with herbs. She used herbs for stress management, to heal our familie’s common elements, for seasonal health, and overall immune support. She did not go to any special school for all her knowledge, rather, she was taught from the generations before her. She knew that the simple herbs that we have all around us have are a holistic way to connect with nature. She tended to each plant that she grew with love. When I was growing up, this drove me crazy, in my mind, herbs were just plants. As well, I used to think that I was the experiment child for all my mother’s herbal blends.  Ironically now, looking back at everything my mother infused or blended, these were high quality, homeopathic remedies to cure the common cold, sniffles, coagulation, immune support, and many more. Thinking back, I wish I would’ve paid more attention to her concoctions -  wether we were sick or needed something to settle a stomach, she knew what to do.. She was a the ultimate medicine woman and loving mother to our village of 9 kids. 

 

For this Mother’s Day, I wanted to share my mother’s favorite drink that she would make from the herbs growing in our back yard garden, Gotu Kola aka Centella asiatica.  Gotu Kola, which is native to Asian wetlands, has been used to treat many conditions and is particularly beneficial to the nervous system. It is also used clinically to treat anxiety, mental fatigue, and irritability. People in India drink a blend of fresh Gotu Kola leaves daily to support the nervous system and improve memory. In Asia, they use the leaves of the plants as a stimulant, and an afternoon pick me up.

Gotu Kola is a funny looking plant which is also known as Pennywort or in Vietnamese (Nuoc Rau Ma). It makes a delicious green juice, which is processed from the leaves and stems of the Pennywort plant.  Pennywort Juice is loaded with vitamins and minerals: B, K, calcium, zinc, and magnesium. From an Asian medicine perspective, Pennywort has cooling properties helping the body to balance heat. Pennywort juice is also believed to have many therapeutic and medicinal benefits. I can’t attest to all the healing powers of Pennywort Juice but I love its freshness and how healthy it makes me feel! Some green drinks have a strong, grassy aroma and taste which can be a bit overwhelming. Instead, Pennywort juice has a mild taste and aroma, similar to asparagus. My mom drank Pennywort Juice for as long as I can remember, and she was healthy and sharp as a tack.

Recipe: Gotu Kola Juice

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb pennywort (Gotu kola)

  • 8 cups water

  • 1/4 cup sugar

 

Directions

  1. Transfer the pennywort into a clean sink and fill with cold water.

  2. Immerse the pennywort in water and swirl gently to remove the dirt from the leaves and stems. Discard any wilted greens. Repeat this washing process 1-2 more times or until the water is clear and free of sediments.

  3. Add half of the cleaned pennywort into a blender. Add 4 cups water. Blend on Medium speed until the pennyworth is completely broken down.

 

On our farm, in memory of mom, we make a special tea blend which features the Gotu Kola plant, called Blance Tea.

Balance tea is centered around the protective and balancing properties of Tulsi, or holy basil. Stress and fatigue can cause lightheadedness, forgetfulness, and foggy thinking. Tulsi bring strength, and balance to the nervous system, helping to restore the mental function during and after periods of stress. GoTu Kola promotes mental clarity and brilliance. Balance tea is blended with mint, rose, cinnamon, and cardamom for a delicious and well-rounded flavor profile.

 

Recipe: Balance Tea

Serves: 4

Taste: spicy and minty

Herbal Actions: adaptagenic, whole body tonic

Systems Affected: Nervous system, digestive system, immune system

 

Ingredients

  1. 3 parts Tulsi (we use 3 different varieties: 0.5 part Vanna, 1.25 part Krishna, 1.25 parts Rama)

  2. 1 part peppermint

  3. 1 part cinnamon

  4. 1 part cardamon

  5. 0.5 part Rose petals

  6. 0.5  part Gotu Kola

 

Directions

  1. To make a hot infusion: Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 2 teaspoon of Balance tea. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes.

  1. To make a cold infusion: Combine 2 cups cold water and 1-2  tablespoons of Balance tea in a glass jar. Mix well and check to make sure all the tea is saturated. Let sit in the refrigerator or a cool place for at least two hours or longer

                           

                             Blog and Recipe Written by: 

                                Allison Dao

                                Owner/Founder Lavender Ally

                                For questions or more information on our products, reach me at: (770) 584-9188 or info@lavenderally.com

A Mindful Cup - Herbal Teas for Self Care 

 

Learning the art of brewing tea can be a rewarding mindfulness exercise for self care. A tea ceremony is a simple, yet elegant ritual where you get to take a moment for yourself, to hit pause on the stressors of everyday life, and to focus fully on this moment - grateful for being fully present and alive. However, many people feel intimidated by loose leaf teas, and do not know where to start. Today we will explore the wonderful world of herbal teas, learn a master recipe to brewing an excellent cup of loose-leaf herbal tea, and share one of our favorite house teas to give you some inspiration. 

 

Herbal Teas 101

A simple way of thinking about herbal teas, is to see them as blends of various dried herbs and spices. Often herbal tea blends will include a complex mixture of several differnt types of plant material and dried herbs that are blended together for a desired flavor, and/or for medicinal benefits. The herbs themselves are typically plants that are harvested at precise times of the season and time of day. Many herbal teas include the dried, arial parts of the plant such as: leafs (eg. various mint leafs, rosemary, raspberry leafs), and/or blossoms (eg. lavender, calendula, globe amaranth). These herbal tea blends are often gentle in flavor, and respond well when steeped in hot water (hot water infusion). Other tea blends may feature more woody materials such as dried roots (eg. dandelion, ginger), pieces of bark (cinnamon), or woody stems. These parts of the tea often require longer steeping to fully bloom the tea. 

 

As well, herbal teas provide a host of health benefits, they are simple to make, and can be a wonderful addition to your health toolkit. Herbal teas are usually caffeine free and can be a great treat for the evening time or for those trying to wean down on coffee or caffeine. 
 

Zen and the Art of the Perfect Cup of Herbal Tea

Lets dive into a simple, master recipe for herbal tea. These steps can be put to use for almost any-loose tea herbal tea and will help you to relax and tune into the present moment.

 

  1. Take a moment to clear off a small space on your kitchen counter where you will hold your tea ceremony ritual.

  2. Take a deep breath and if possible, open a window and turn down the lights.

  3. Pull out your tea making supplies: tea cup, tea infuser (tea pot or metal tea infuser or paper tea bag, etc), kettle to boil water, loose-leaf tea, teaspoon.

  4. Boil your water - listen to the sound of the water boiling.

  5. Carefully measure out your tea leaves and place into your diffuser of choice.  Typically we suggest 1-2 tsp per cup.

  6. Bour the boiling water over tea and watch the steam dance.

  7. Take a moment for gratitude.

  8. Sip your tea and enjoy each and every drop.

 

Do you love tea? Join us this year for our first annual Tea Parties! Enjoy a variety of teas, infused with our homemade honey and handpicked picked Lavender, while you snack on freshly made finger sandwiches, pastries and desserts. Our farm will be in full bloom and is situated on the valley floor, surrounded by mountains, trees and accented with our brand-new farm stand and gazebo. Bring your "Tea Time" best to revel in the experience and make the most of this picturesque opportunity. Children 5 and up are allowed and encouraged to attend. Groups will be kept small, no more than 15 people. RSVP Only, no walk-ins.

Recipe: Rose, Mint and Lavender Tea

Serves: 4

Taste: Floral and minty

Herbal Actions: adaptagenic, whole body tonic, anti-inflammatory

Systems Affected: Nervous system, digestive system, skin, immune support 

Ingredients: Rose, Mint, Lavender

Directions

  1. To make a hot infusion: Pour 1.5 cups hot water over 2 teaspoon of Rose, Mint and Lavender tea. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes.

  2. To make a cold infusion: Combine 2 cups cold water and 1-2  tablespoons of Balance tea in a glass jar. Mix well and check to make sure all the tea is saturated. Let sit in the refrigerator or a cool place for at least two hours or longer.

                                Blog and Recipe Written by: 

                                Maggie Gartman, MS RDN

                                    Gardener with Lavender Ally, and Founder of Blue Dragonfly Nutrition & Wellness

 

                                     Maggie is an integrative and functional nutritionist that specializes in affordable, personalized, and                                                                         science-based nutrition counseling for adults and families.

 

For more information reach me at:

www.bluedragonflynutrition.com

bluedragonflynutrition@gmail.com

A Beginners Guide to Cooking with Lavender

 

Welcome to the wonderful world of culinary lavender! Cooking with lavender is a fun and delicious way to expand your relationship with this beautiful plant. Lavender is a very versatile herb, which can be used in beverages, savory dishes, baked goods, and deserts! Today we will explore what makes culinary lavender unique, some delicious cooking ideas, and the health benefits of edible Lavender.

What is Culinary Lavender?

High-quality, culinary lavender is produced from specific types of lavender cultivars that provide a sweet, non-soapy flavor profile. Most of the culinary lavender plants are types of English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia).

 

Some of our favorite culinary lavender varieties that we grow here at Lavender Ally include:

  •  Lavandula angustifolia 'Melissa'

  •  Lavandula angustifolia ‘Folgate’

  •  Lavandula angustifolia 'Munstead'

  •  Lavandula angustifolia Betty’s Blue

  •  Lavandula angustifolia ‘Royal Velvet’

  •  Lavandula angustifolia Dwarf White

 

In addition to the type of lavender, the timing of when it is harvested is essential. Culinary lavender is ideally harvested when the buds are full, and right before the plant is about to go to flower. After harvesting, the lavender buds are removed from the stems and leaves, and carefully sifted and cleaned for use in the kitchen.

 

Culinary Lavender Lore.

Several parts of the Lavender plant can be used in cooking. The flowers or buds are the most commonly used part of the plant in food and beverage preparations. The buds can be used fresh and/or dried. Note: If you are using dried, be sure to use half of the amount as dried. When cooking with Lavender, it is important to remember that a little goes a long way! Lavender has a strong, robust flavor that can be overpowering if using too much. There are also many unique ways to use the leaves and stems- such as in teas or soaked and added to the grill for a smoky lavender accent flavor. 

 

Try to select Organic or organically grown (not certified) growers whenever possible for edible products. For culinary lavender, it is important to know if any pesticides or sprays have been used in the plant cultivation - as you do not want to ingest these chemicals.

 

Lavender has a sweet, yet LOUD flavor that provides a unique touch while cooking. It is a very adaptable herb to play with in the kitchen. Lavender is a Mediterranean herb that pairs beautifully with mezze, provincial or even some Arabic dishes. 

 

Lavender is wonderful in baked goods - such as shortbread, scones, or other cream/butter-based recipes. For savory cooking ideas, try a little Lavender in marinades, when making specialty salts, or with roasted potatoes.

 

Pairing Ideas:

  • Try pairing Lavender + rosemary

  • Try pairing Lavender + stone fruits (peaches, plums, cherries)

  • Try pairing Lavender + salt + chicken or lamb

  • Try pairing Lavender + berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries)

  • Try pairing Lavender + ice cream

 

Herbal Health Benefits

From a health perspective, Lavender has many applications for stress related conditions, as well as, for its antibacterial and antifungal properties. In a medical setting, a standardized preparation of a steam-distilled Lavender oil, known as Silexan, is being studied for effectiveness and safety. Lavender is regularly enjoyed in foods and is considered safe and well tolerated for most people. Some people may notice stomach upset (diarrhea or constipation), headaches or possibly some skin irritation with Lavender products. It is always a good idea to check in with your healthcare provider regarding any herbs or supplements used for possible medication interactions and safety.

 

  • Stress Support: Those struggling with anxiety and/or depression may find the calming effects of Lavender therapeutic. For stress management, you might find Lavender teas, or lavender oils helpful.

 

  • PMS/ Menstrual Cramping: Those struggling with menstrual pain may find that lavender oils can help to reduce pain symptoms.

 

  • Acute Pain: Some patients struggling with pain may find lavender oils supportive.  However, talk with your provider about using it prior to any surgery.

Recipe: Lavender-Chocolate Mint Lemonade

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups water 

  • 1 cup Lavender Honey (Lavender Ally)

  • 2 TBSP** dried Culinary Lavender buds (Lavender Ally)

  • 1 cup lemon juice from freshly squeezed organic lemons

  • 6-8 stalks, fresh Chocolate Mint (use the stems too!)

  • Lavender sprigs - garnish

 

Directions:

  1. Prepare the Lavender-Mint syrup: Add Honey, Culinary Lavender, and water to a medium saucepan. Turn up the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.  Turn off the heat and let it steep for ~ 15 minutes.

  2. Rub the mint leaves and stems between your hands to gently crush. Add to the lavender syrup and let steep ~ 5 minutes.

  3. Pour lavender syrup liquid through a prepared fine colander or cheesecloth into a large pitcher or mason jar. Add the fresh lemon juice and garnishes of your choice (fresh mint stems, lavender stems, herbal ice-cubes, etc).

  4. Serve over ice and enjoy!

 

**Note: You can use fresh lavender flowers during the flowering season! Plan to substitute 4 TBSP fresh flowers for the dried lavender buds.

 

                                 

                                 Blog & Recipe written by:

                                      Maggie Gartman, MS RDN

                                      Gardener with Lavender Ally, and Founder of Blue Dragonfly Nutrition & Wellness

                       

                                      Maggie is an integrative and functional nutritionist that specializes in affordable, personalized, and science-based                                                nutrition counseling for adults and families.

 

For more information reach me at:

www.bluedragonflynutrition.com

bluedragonflynutrition@gmail.comv

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Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme: Culinary Herbs 101

 

Culinary herbs are beautiful, and flavorful kitchen companions for any home chef. At first, starting to cook with culinary herbs may seem intimidating, but do not worry, they can be very fun and easy to use. Today we are going to explore some exciting anti-inflammatory health benefits of culinary herbs, learn some simple strategies to use them, and master some classic food pairings from around the world. 

Anti-Inflammatory Health Benefits + Culinary Herbs

Herbs and spices are full of unique aromatic components that provide amazing flavors, as well as, a whole host of health benefits. In the health and wellness world, culinary herbs are revered for their powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation has been linked to many dangerous, and wide-spread health conditions: from Type 2 Diabetes, to Heart Disease, Cancers, Metabolic Syndrome and more. You can actually measure your inflammation status through simple blood testing, using bio-markers - such as: C-Reactive Protein (CRP), Interleukin 6 (IL-6) and Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF).

 

The foods we eat can play a big role in your inflammatory status, and these effects can be found even a few hours after a single eating event! In general, a whole foods eating pattern, rich in: vegetables, fruits / berries, fiber-rich foods, nuts / seeds, and plenty of herbs and spices has been found to help improve your inflammatory profile! These foods are rich in a variety of antioxidants, unique plant compounds, and provide simple and cost effective ways to support your overall health.

 

Getting to Know Culinary Herbs

Culinary Herbs are made from various parts of plants, and are often categorized into woody or soft herbs. Herbal flavor and intensity can vary widely throughout the growing season - so start to tune in and notice how they taste at different times in the year. 

 

Woody herbs include classics like: thyme, sage, rosemary, marjoram, oregano, lavender and more. These may require a little more time to process as you are working to remove the leaves from the stems (in most uses). Woody herbs are often added towards the beginning of cooking, such as while you are softening onions, to allow flavors to fully develop. The flavor of many woody herbs can be very strong  - so a little goes a long way! Note: Be sure to save the woody stems - as they are a great addition to soups and stocks!

 

Soft herbs include favorites like: basil, parsley, cilantro, chives, and mints. These often have to be treated with more care in handling as they are quite delicate, and may have special storage needs. For example, basil will turn brown (oxidize) when bruised or in cold conditions. Instead, try storing basil at room temperature in a plastic bag with holes for oxygen exchange. In general, soft herbs make amazing herbal sauces, pestos, and garnishes. They are often added towards the end of cooking.

 

Some classic examples of soft herb uses are an Italian basil pesto, or a South American chimichurri. These herbs respond well to processing in a mortar and pestle. As well, do not forget about the stems! The stems are full of flavor and can be used too! For example, try chopping cilantro stems and adding them to a stir fry, or save basil stems and add them to a summer vegetable soup stock.

 

When you are building out your home herb and spice collection, below is a list of common and multi-use herbs to get comfortable with and to have on hand. They store best in sealed jars in a cool, dark location away from heat. When you get more comfortable, each herb comes in many unique varieties to play with. For example, try experimenting with Greek Oregano vs. Cuban Oregano is your favorite dish and try to notice many new dimensions of flavor.

 

A Herbal Shopping List:

  • Rosemary

  • Mint

  • Thyme

  • Parsley

  • Chives

  • Oregano

  • Bay Leaf

  • Lavender

  • Sage

  • Marjoram

  • Fennel

  • Tarragon

 

Fresh vs Dried

Herbs are often available fresh or dried in most farmers markets and grocery stores. If you would like to substitute fresh for dried herbs in our favorite recipe - a good rule of thumb is to plan to use 3x as much fresh herbs for dried in recipes. Dried herbs are often added sooner in the cooking process, and dried herbs added towards the end.

 

Culinary Companions

As you get comfortable cooking with herbs, try experimenting with their use in both savory and sweet dishes! In general, when you are learning to cook with herbs, pair high intensity herbs (eg. rosemary, oregano, etc) with stronger flavored dishes/proteins (eg. lamb, oily fish,etc). As well, choose lighter flavors (eg. chervil) for lighter dishes (eg. vegetables) so they do not get overpowered. If you are just getting started, here are a few timeless culinary herbs and preparations to master so that you can learn to use them with ease.

 

  • Herb de Provence: A fabulous herb blend from the south of France, typically made from: rosemary, lavender, thyme, savory, sage, marjoram, bay leaf, basil, fennel seed. This herb blend is fun to make and is a staple in most any kitchen. Try sprinkling it into a fresh chevre for a beautiful and fragrant cheese plate addition. This blend is wonderful in marinades or spice rubs for poultry and lamb dishes. Herb de provence is also great with vegetables.

  • Bouquet de Garni: Bouquet de Garni is a culinary technique where you bind together a mixture of fresh and/or dried herbs (and sometimes spices) in a cheese cloth bundle to add to your dish while cooking. This allows the herbal flavors to immerse into your dish without the herb pieces floating around - and it can easily be removed before serving. This is a timeless way to add flavor to any soup, stew, casserole, vegetables or bone broths. Classic French kitchens will often sneak in: parsley, bay leaf, rosemary, and thyme - with fun variations like: juniper berries, fennel, tarragon, etc.

 

 

Recipe: Herbal-Honey Marinated Feta

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz block of Local Feta (Try Local: by George F3TA!)

  • 2 cup Lavender Honey (Lavender Ally)

  • 2 TBSP Herb de Provence (Lavender Ally)

  • 1 large pinch sea salt

  • 1 large pinch cracked blackpepper

 

Directions:

  1. Drain the feta in a colander and cut or crumble into bite sized pieces.

  2. Mix together the honey, herb de Provence, salt and pepper.

  3. Drizzle the herbal honey over the feta and let marinate for 20 minutes.

  4. Serve on a mixed greens salad, add to flatbread, or try baked for a unique treat!

 

 

 

 

                           

                                 Blog & Recipe written by:

                                      Maggie Gartman, MS RDN

                                      Gardener with Lavender Ally, and Founder of Blue Dragonfly Nutrition & Wellness

                       

                                      Maggie is an integrative and functional nutritionist that specializes in affordable, personalized, and science-based                                                nutrition counseling for adults and families.

 

For more information reach me at:

www.bluedragonflynutrition.com

bluedragonflynutrition@gmail.comv

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LAVENDER LOVE RECIPE 

 

Lavender is a wonderful addition to your home spice and herb collections! 


This beautiful herbaceous plant grows well in temperate, Mediterranean climates around the world. It like lots of sun, good circulation and struggles with too much moisture and damp roots. For culinary grade lavender, English lavender varieties tend to be best. 


In the kitchen, a little lavender goes a long way! Too much, and you

can create a “soapy” effect. 


Lavender can be enjoyed in both sweet and savory dishes. For sweet

lavender treats thing: baked goods, beverages, ice creams, fruit dishes,

and preserves. If you would like to try your hand at a lavender-infused

savory dish, it works beautifully with game birds, lamb, savory hears

like rosemary and thyme, and vinaigrettes. 

Lavender & Thyme Balsamic 
Makes 6 Servings (Vegan)


Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp honey, local

  • 1.5 cups balsamic vinegar

  • 1 fresh lemon, juiced

  • 1 TBSP fresh lavender leaves

  • 1 TBSP fresh thyme leaves

  • 3 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • Salt & pepper (to taste)

  • 1 fresh lavender buds

  • Lemon zest (optional)

 

Directions: 
In a small saucepan over medium heat – add your honey and warm it until it begins to bubble. Add the fresh lavender and balsamic vinegar. Bring temperature to simmer and cook for 10 minutes until it has reduced by half. Remove lavender balsamic from heat. 


Strain the balsamic. Wish in the olive oil, lemon juice, thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Finish with lavender flowers and citrus zest (optional). 


Serving ideas:
•    Enjoy as a simple weeknight salad dressing!
•    Toss with boiled new potatoes for a floral take on a potato salad.
•    Use to marinate chicken breasts and bake with lemon slices. 

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