Fennel for the Belly

I was talking to a friend on the phone the other morning and she mentioned eating black licorice for IBS. That got me thinking about my fennel which had just come into bloom.

I truly love fennel flowers and they taste exactly like black licorice and have the same calming effect on your belly as the candies/sugared-filled kind.

I taste tested a flower on my husband and he swears it’s what the candy is made from. You can grow it yourself (very easily) or buy the seeds here

You can even make a belly-calming tea that is delicious, if you like black licorice that is.

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

2 tablespoons fresh lemon balm

Sweetener of your choice (I drink it without)

1 cup hot water

Steep the seeds for 5 minutes with something to cover the mug and you’re set after straining out the seeds.

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The Solution for Dead Thumb

Dead thumb, what is it and do you have it?

In my house dead thumb is the opposite of green thumb. I’m lucky to be blessed with green. But, if you were not blessed as I was, there may be a solution.

I was at a BBQ last night and took my famous micro-green pasta salad made with quinoa pasta (I buy this one). I promise to share the recipe another time, this post is about turning your dead thumb green. Anyway, a lady mentioned she loved the salad and asked what was in it. Of course I went nuts telling her about the micro-greens. She said if you only need to keep them alive for 2 to 3 weeks it was probably something she could grow which got me thinking.

First I want you to ask yourself how long a plant lives once it falls under your care. If you say a week or two, I’ve got you covered. If you can only manage a day or two, I’m truly sorry and you are more than welcome to stop reading now.

My solution to dead thumb is growing your own micro-green garden in your house.

At any given time I have four trays growing. I think my seed supply will last me about 40 years but I could be exaggerating, slightly. These babies grow from seed to eating ready in 7 to 10 days. That’s it.

I put micro-greens in everything: salads, Asian dishes, pasta, etc. I even slip some in my tofu medley. The micro-greens give us so much yummy nutrition all year around and even if you have a dead thumb, you can grow these babies.

Our cart was $99 dollars at Home Depot. The trays cost $1.99 each and I use 2 per unit with holes punched in the top tray so it leaks into the bottom one. 1 1/2 inches of fine soil per tray and you’re set. You don’t even need fertilizer because you’ll eat the micro-greens before they need it. And the best part… they grow all year around even when my garden is buried under two feet of snow.

Here’s a link to Wellness Mama’s (I follow her religiously) post on how to start your own micro-green garden (there are also videos on YouTube): https://wellnessmama.com/36688/grow-microgreens/

Here’s a list of the micro-greens I’ve had really good success with (they grow like weeds).

Kale

Spinach

Mung Beans

Radish

Alfalfa

Mustard

Sunflower

Why Give Up French Fries?

One of the things about becoming healthy is all the foods you must give up. I’ve had a love hate relationship with French fries my entire life. My taste buds love them and my hips hate them. Potatoes are something we try to stay away from and there are several reasons but I think the biggest is that potatoes clean the soil by leaching everything around them including pesticides. They’ve long been used in crop rotation when the soil is too damaged for other crops. Sweet potato fries are a healthier substitute but my husband doesn’t care for them. Last night I cooked a vegan dinner for both of us that included cucumber pasta salad and plantain fries. Plantains look like bananas but have less sugar. they also contain fiber and are a good source of vitamins A and C, and potassium. The secret is to buy your plantains when they’re green/yellow and not brown/yellow. No worries though, if your plantains ripen before you use them, you can cut up and freeze to use as pancake batter later. Please fry them in olive or avocado oil and stay far far away from bad oils such as vegetable, cotton seed, sunflower, etc. My husband loves these plantain fries so I consider them kid approved and it’s a vegan dinner he doesn’t complain about 😉

The second part of our dinner was the Cucumber Pasta Salad. My grown daughters are cringing right now because they know we don’t eat pasta (no grains at all) and they’re wondering what in the blazes I’m talking about.

I make the pasta out of an English cucumber. Add the yummy topping, and we eat. It’s thoroughly delicious. Here’s our vegan dinner breakdown:

3 – plantains (serves 2)

2 cups – olive oil (we save the leftover and reuse a few times)

salt and pepper to taste

Directions: cut plantain into 3 sections. Slice one side and peal off the skin. Cut into French fry size. Place in a deep pot of hot oil and cook until golden (stir occasionally). Place finished plantain fries on paper towels to absorb excess grease and serve. Yes you can even dip these babies in ketchup.

1 – English cucumber (serves 2)

2 to 3 – small tomatoes

8 – fresh basil leaves

1 – clove garlic

1 – avocado

2 slices – lemon

Directions: spiralize your cucumber and place in a colander to drain, place tomatoes (cut into sections), basil, and garlic into your food processor and blend for about 30 seconds, pour on drained spiralized noodles, top with cut up avocado, and squeeze the lemon onto both servings.

 

Growing Herbal Tea in My Garden and Kitchen

I love my garden and spend many hours outside pruning, watering, and fertilizing. I need to feel nature and my plants takes me there. I began growing herbs that can be used to make teas a few years ago. Lemon balm is one of my favorites. I’ll actually eat a leaf when walking past the plant. It’s taste like lemon Pledge I used years ago to dust my furniture if that makes sense. I also cut a few branches and place them in a bag with lavender leaves when I travel. I use them as natural perfume by rubbing the combo on my wrists. Lemon balm has many uses including repelling insects. I love the stuff.

This year I added another spearmint plant to my kitchen windowsill. I love the smell and on top of the scent it’s a pretty plant that thrives indoors. The combo of lemon balm and spearmint is one of my favorite teas. This year I’m hoping to have enough spearmint to make it through a cold winter (lemon balm grows like a weed and isn’t a problem).

I cut the spearmint stems along with lemon balm and hang in my kitchen with other herbs. When they’re dry, I put them into my special tea containers (bought at the dollar store for $1 each so very special) and store them in the cupboard.

Dried jasmine flowers can also be added in teas along with lemon thyme which I added to my garden this year but haven’t cultivated yet. I enjoy creating combinations of flavors and testing them on my picky palate.

There are so many health benefits and I know there are no pesticides and I use organic fertilizer to keep them growing strong.

Lemon Balm – Eases stress and anxiety, contains rosmarinic acid (a chemical compound with antioxidant properties). Also used for insomnia, cold sores, high cholesterol, genital herpes, indigestion, and heartburn.

Spearmint – Contains vitamins, antioxidants, and vital nutrients. The aroma is very similar to that of peppermint. Is rich in limonene, dihydrocarvone, and cineol.

Your windowsill might be empty now but you could be growing the next best combination of teas on the planet so don’t let the perfect growing space go to waste.

I took these pictures early in the morning so the light isn’t the best but I think you get the picture 🙂