Tag Archives: Chickweed

Eating right and feeling calmer…

Can you tell that managing stress is really up there for me at the moment?

stressed comic

I know it seems like I keep harping on about it, but I am really aware that January is a stressful month for many people.  In my life at the moment, I am desperately attempting to get organised so I can cope if I go back to work, plus I am preparing for a job interview and I am painting the hallway in the new house.  I need as much help as I can get in managing those stress levels right now.

Getting stressed and anxious is less about what is happening outside, but more about the reaction inside.  But managing the stress levels and anxiety is not just regulating your reaction; what you eat can have a major impact on how you feel when confronted with those ARGH moments that we all get from time to time.

no sugar

The bad news is that the things you might think would work a treat (sugar, chocolate, chips) are precisely the things you should avoid.  They actually stress your nervous system and therefore should be avoided at all costs.  The good stuff though, the stuff which supports your nervous system, is the stuff you know you should be eating.  Ideally you should be eating alkalizing foods like fresh sprouts, high quality protein, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, root vegetables and cultured milk products such as yogurt, kefir or buttermilk.  Lemons are good as well as grapefruit, nuts and seeds.  If you want to have a healthy nervous system, then you need energy, and these foods will provide that.

The other things you need to do is to add calcium to your diet.  You need calcium to have healthy nerve function, and this is what we are aiming for.  If you have too little calcium in your blood, then you might be nervous, irritable, get muscle spasms, get muscle cramping, be hyperactive and probably not sleep very well.  Thankfully getting calcium in the diet is fairly simple.

green leafies

Obviously dairy products helps.  It helps more if they are cultured.  Plain milk has surprisingly little calcium in it, so choose yoghurt instead.  You can also eat lots of green leafy vegetables such as spinach. chard, broccoli, turnips greens, kale, beet greens and parsley.  Surprisingly large amounts of dietary calcium can be found in seaweed as well.  To be honest, taking in calcium rich foods is going to have very little effect unless you also have adequate levels of Vitamin D.  Either get out into the sunshine, no matter how cold or watery it is at this time of year, or take a supplement.  I take a supplement with added calcium in it.

If you are feeling like things are all getting on top of you and you are struggling to cope, then you might want to consider making a high quality calcium tea.  You take 1 part horsetail, 1 part nettle and 1 part oats.  Combine the herbs, pour boiling water over them and leave to steep for 5-15 minutes, depending on how strong you like it.  Strain the herbs and add honey to taste and then drink it all up.  If that doesn’t sound appetising (and to me, it really doesn’t!) consider taking some herbs with high quality calcium in them.  Chickweed, Amaranth and Dandelion Greens are good sources, must so are Mustard Greens, Horsetail, Nettle, Oats and watercress.  A lot of those will be easier to get hold of come the spring!

Still, there are a lot of lovely foods to choose from.


Weed whacking is the order of the day…

I am standing at my French Windows and looking out at my present garden.  I am in the process of getting the place looking neat and tidy for the people who are going to stampede through my door to look at the house.  Yes.  Those mythical house buyers out there.  They are supposed to be out there.  I haven’t seen them yet.  I hope they are more like badgers (ubiquitous but shy) and less like unicorns (only alive in legend and fable).


However… as I said, getting the garden looking smart inevitably requires weeding.  And it got me thinking, can we use the weeds for anything other than ballast in the cars while being hauled to the rubbish tip?  According to http://www.treehugger.com, yes.  We can eat them!


Dandelions are ubiquitous in the garden and I can’t seem to the shift them.  Just as well, they are tasty both raw and cooked from to the bloom.  The leaves are quite bitter, but add a lovely note to salads and can be stir fried or added to soups.  The flowers are sweet and crunchy and can be eaten raw or breaded and fried or used to make dandelion wine.  The root can be dried and roasted and used as a coffee substitute or added to any recipe that calls for root vegetables.  Medicinally, the root helps with hormone regulation, works as a liver and digestion tonic and it is a natural diuretic or even gentle laxative.


Then there is purslane.  It occurs in moist garden beds, lawns and shady areas.  It certainly packs a punch nutritionally.  It has more omega 3 oils in it that an other leafy vegetables.  It is a great addition to a salad or a stir fry used to thicken soups or stews.  It is a succulent with a crispy texture and the leaves and stems can be eaten raw or cooked to add a peppery flavour to any dish.


Do you have a lot of clover in your lawn?  Clover is a good thing!  Not only is it great food for honeybees and bumblebees.  There are leaves and flowers that can be used in a variety of meals, chopped into salads or sauteed and added for a green accent.  Flowers can be eaten raw or cooked or dried for tea.  Actually red clover is a great tonic for females of any age.  It contains isofavones which are potent phytoestogens.  Useful at any age but particularly for those going through the menopause.


I’ll bet you have plantain somewhere in your garden.  I know we do.  Apparently it is a great medicinal plant, usually used to soothe burns, stings, rashes and wounds.  It is a great edible green for the table.  Obviously, the young leaves are the best to use and can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled or sauteed.  Older leaves can still be used by may be a bit tough.  The seeds of the plantain, which are produced on a flowering spike can be cooked like a grain or ground into a flower but you need to harvest loads of it to make that worthwhile!


And finally, chickweed.  Rather unassuming to look at but it can be harvested for both culinary and medicinal purposes.  Chickweed leaves, stems and flowers can all be eaten either raw or cooked.  Plant can also be used as a topical poultice for minor cuts, burns or rashes and it can be made into a tea for use as a mild diuretic.


Well, I am amazed, and I shall be looking at the weeds in a different light.  May all your weeds be so useful!


Herbs you can harvest in January…

This morning as I was supping my essential morning cup of coffee, I realised that I had no clue what to write about this morning.  There is no health news on the TV or in the papers, or at least nothing that hasn’t been rehashed 100 times already.  So I got to thinking about January the month itself.

It is well known that January, in the Northern Hemisphere anyway, is one of the more depressing months of the year.  It is partly down to the weather (be it the Polar Vortex, or the pulsing rain that the UK is getting) and the fact that everyone is spent up after the Christmas period and there is no money left for fun stuff during the first month of the year.  Mind you, it can’t be much fun in the Antipodes either with major heatwaves and HUGE wildfires either, so maybe the depression is global.


But there are something you CAN do in January to make you feel better about things.  Traditionally, gardeners spend hours pouring over seed and plant catalogues planning the next growing year in January and February.  It helps to stifle the frustration at not being able to get out into the garden without wading into four foot snowdrifts or sinking to your thighs in the mud.  I also love gazing at the lovely pictures and dreaming of how my perfect country garden would look.  My husband calls it “Garden Porn”.

You can also see if anything in your garden can be harvested.  In the UK, because we don’t have snow (at least, not if you are where I am, in the Midlands) you can harvest some herbs which might be lying about either in the garden or some better quality forage spots.  According to my electronic herbal (which I told you about on Sunday), I know you can harvest Chickweed, Dandelion Leaves and Horseradish.


Chickweed, also known as Star Lady and Mouse Ear, generally can be found growing by the road or on scrub ground.  If you aren’t very sure about what it should look like, then please, please don’t just pick it and assume it is the right thing.  You can source dried chickweed online, and it might be safer to do that.   It is traditionally used for boils, bruises, burns, eczema, itching, psoriasis, skin ulcers and wounds.  A poultice made out of fresh chickweed is great for drawing out infections from skin complaints,due to its astringent properties.  You can also make a tea from the dried leaves.  It is a great way of cleansing the system and has helped to kick start weight loss.


Dandelion Leaves can make the gardener’s heart sink to their boots and unleash a war on the weed, but the leaves of the plant are actually really useful.  The leaves can be used raw in salads, and if it isn’t salad weather, then you can prepare the leaves, wilt them a little and serve them as a tasty vegetable side dish (check online for the best way to prepare it!).  It has a peppery flavour and is a diuretic and liver stimulant.  In fact, traditionally, it has been used to make a spring tonic to help to restore the system after months of winter weather, illness and colds.  The leaves also contain high concentrations of iron, silicon, magnesium, zinc, manganese and Vitamins A, D, C and B.   Hmmm… I wonder why people don’t call it a superfood?!


Horseradish.  I love the stuff served with Roast Beef and Yorkshire pudding on a Sunday – well, any day of the week really – but it is also a potent herb.  It is antibacterial and has been used to treat everything from asthma to tuberculosis.  It is effective in killing listeria, Ecoli, Staphylococcus and harmful food bacteria.  It is also a strong diuretic, aids digestion and promotes perspiration.  If you have ever sniffed the freshly grated root, you can testify that it also clears your nasal passages.  Very effectively indeed.

I hope this has helped to get you through one dark day of January.  All I can say, is spring is on its way!