Welcome to Our Healing Roots, a blog exploring natural medicine that returns us to the roots of health and wellbeing. Our Healing Roots, LLC, is a private natural healthcare practice and experiential learning center that advocates the safe use of integrated, natural medicine. Many healing ways have gone by the wayside with the advent of conventional medicine. While it is important to receive professional medical advice for serious conditions, there are many things we can do at home to prevent disease and maintain our health. The Latin word for doctor is docere, which means to be a teacher. Our Healing Roots wholehearted embraces the importance of teaching in healthcare, so that people feel empowered about their health and wellbeing. More information about this business can be found at www.ourhealingroots.net.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Thank you, Grogg's Green Barn! (...and a pickle fact)

A big thank you to Grogg's Green Barn for the fantastic summertime party they hosted last night. Several toys were collected to help brighten the summer of the children affected by Oklahoma's recent tornados. We had an excellent turnout for the herb walk! It was a delightful event and I enjoyed meeting everyone.

Tomorrow, Merry Schepers will be teaching class on pickling basics. With heat becoming more prominent, it is common to see more complaints of muscle cramps during the summer. Pickle juice is a home remedy that can often alleviate these cramps. Ah, the miracle of the pickle!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What's the Dill about Pickles?

This spring, I planted lots of extra dill for our homemade pickles. A dill plant from my garden is pictured above.

A dill pickle may have more health benefits than you think! Dill helps to freshen bad breath. It promotes sleep for people suffering from insomnia. It helps prevent free radical damage. However, it is best known as a botanical "carminative," which means that it helps reduce gas. So, think of a dill pickle for the toddler with colic that can't sleep.

You are invited to sign up for our pickle class, which takes place this Saturday from 11-5 p.m. Merry Schepers has been crafting her own pickles for years in Tulsa, and she will be sharing six of her recipes at the class. Each class participant will learn about home canning safety, get hands-on experience for the entire pickling process, written directions, and can take home six jars of pickles. The class is limited to 6 people, and we have three more spots available. To register or get more information, please call Our Healing Roots, LLC at 918-813-1874.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Jumpin' Juniper!

Last night, we harvested the cabbage from our garden to make sauerkraut. This is nothing like the pasteurized sauerkraut you buy in a can at the grocery store. This kraut is actually crunchy! The texture is superb. My favorite part of homemade kraut is biting into a juniper berry. 

Juniper berries have this aromatic quality that is both drying and stimulating...a mixture of both mildly sweet and pungent all wrapped in one. I don't know for sure, but I imagine the juniper berry has earned its way into kraut because it cuts down on gas, which cabbage does a great job of creating.

Juniper also acts a diuretic, but it can be very stimulating and damaging to the kidneys if too much is ingested. It has sometimes been used to help clear urinary gravel-like sediment and non-obstructive kidney stones.

I'll be discussing juniper further, along with several other herbs, at Grogg's Green Barn on Thursday night. I hope you will join us!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Garden Project Update

We had a wonderful jam class on Sunday! The taste of the strawberries in the jam was simply vibrant, and we had a fun time.

Do you remember the scene in The Jungle Book where the birds were asking each other...

"What do you want to do?"
"I don't know. What do you want to do?"
"Now, don't start that again!"

It was one of those afternoons yesterday. Eventually, it was decided that we would go out to our garden and harvest and plant some vegetables. I put 27 Oregon Trail Bush Bean plants in the ground where the lettuce had been. Under the soil, we found fingerling potatoes, beets, Amarillo yellow carrots and garlic ready to harvest. We will wait to weigh the potatoes and garlic until they dry. Since my last garden update, here is what we have harvested...

- 1.5 ounces more of peas
- 36.15 ounces of beans
- 2 bags of lettuce mix
- 3 bunches of herbs
- 11.2 ounces of beets
- 1 bunch of carrots
- 3 bunches of dark, leafy greens

We estimate that we have harvested a 30% return on the investment we made into our garden thus far.

Our beans are still coming on strong. The dill, fennel, and chamomile are making an excellent show. We've got green tomatoes and lots of eggplant blooms. Peppers and onions are soon ready for harvest. The okra still have a lot of growing ahead. Hopefully, the cabbage will get a bit bigger prior to making sauerkraut. Our fig tree is loaded. It's a beautiful garden this year.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Secret of Gel...

What's the secret behind making jam and jellies actually gel?

Answer: Pectin, sugar and acidity.  Additionally, you have to be careful not to overcook your jam or the gel will break down.  Pectin is naturally found some fruits. Pectin can also be purchased and added to the recipe. We learned earlier this week that sugar helps to preserve jams and jellies. However, acidity, as well as pectin and sugar, is also needed to achieve the perfect gel.

Well actually, this answer is only sort of correct...it is possible to make jam without sugar and without added pectin. There are high acidity jams. If you want to step out of the traditional pectin box and sugar container, then I invite you to visit http://www.nwedible.com/2012/08/how-to-make-pectin-free-jam.html.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Free Online Canning Guide

Did you know there is a free online canning guide provided by the USDA?  I invite you to check out the following website to access the free, 196-page USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning.


This website is full of information in how to can food safely at home. Alternatively, you can order a hard copy for $18 at Purdue's The Education Store (https://mdc.itap.purdue.edu/).

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Low Sugar Pectin

Last year, I made strawberry-lemon jam as gifts for many of my friends.  I used a low sugar pectin called Pomona's Universal Pectin. I loved it because the flavor of the strawberries wasn't overshadowed with sugary-sweetness. One of my friends called it "naturopathic jam," because it wasn't sweet enough for her. (I guess it's not for everyone.)

In canning, it's important to process the food so it can sit on the shelf for several months without spoiling. In pickles and some sauces, the vinegar and acidity work as the preservative. In jam, it is the sugar that preserves the food, while both sugar and acid are required to create the gel. Food that is lower in acidity or that is not being preserved with the right amount of sugar needs to be processed with a pressure canner instead of a hot water bath method. 

If you are looking to use alternative sweeteners to sugar in you jam, Pomona's Universal Pectin is a wonderful option. And if you still want to use sugar, you don't have to use as much in this jam. 

To learn more, I highly recommend you check out the video and recipes at http://www.pomonapectin.com/learn/.  If you love to learn in a hands-on fashion, then sign up for our class this Sunday afternoon and join us to make strawberry jam for yourself. Call 918-813-1874 or e-mail office@ourhealingroots.net to register.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Upcoming Canning Class Series

Have you ever wanted to learn how to put up your food from the summer, but the canning kettle was just too intimidating to start by yourself? Then, come join us as we walk you through the canning process from start to finish this summer. We will be teaching three canning classes on jams, pickles, and pressure canning. You can take the classes individually or sign up for all three and get a discount. To register or get more information please call or e-mail Our Healing Roots, LLC at 918-813-1874 or office@ourhealingroots.net.

Jam It!   Sunday, June 16th; 1-5 p.m.
Basic Pickling; Saturday, June 29th; 11-5
Pressure Canning; Saturday, July 13th; 11-5

Friday, June 7, 2013

Nutty about Nutmeg

This morning I opened my tin of nutmeg and enjoyed its sweet aroma. Nutmeg's sweetness arises from a compound called myristicin. While nutmeg is often purchased ground, it can be a real treat to buy a piece of whole nutmeg and freshly grind it for your food or drink. The flavor of freshly ground nutmeg is quite superior.
Nutmeg need only be used in small quantities...sprinkled over food or drink or a small amount added to a recipe. Consuming large amounts has been linked to toxicity.
A 2012 cell study suggests that nutmeg potentially can help reduce photoaging of the skin (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23037157). It also contains a compound called eugenol that has shown apoptotic and antiproliferative effects on several cancer cell lines, including melanoma and skin tumors  (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22634840). Traditionally, it has often been used as a home remedy for diarrhea. Rotavirus is a main cause of diarrhea in children, and nutmeg has been shown to remarkably inhibit this virus (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Nutmeg+and+rotavirus). However, nutmeg has been used for other cases of diarrhea, as well, that are not related to the rotavirus.
For breakfast this morning, I prepared Kashi's 7-grain pilaf as hot cereal (a gluten-free hot cereal would also work, too). On it, I placed crushed almonds, almond milk, and bananas...and topped it off with a sprinkle of freshly ground nutmeg. It was truly delicious!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Garden Project Update

I have cherished eating out of our garden this spring. Here is what we have harvested thus far...

  • Bok choy--first harvest of the season and enjoyed with Easter brunch (less than anticipated because we "shared" with the chickens)
  • 4 bunches broccoli raab--rather bitter, but enjoyed with dried tomatoes and cheese
  • 9 heads of lettuce and counting
  • Peas--over a pound!
  • A bunch of heirloom carrots--absolutely the best with fresh peas and enjoyed with a dear friend for dinner (those peas and carrots still make my mouth water)
  • 9 bunches of Mizuna--shared with friends
  • 2 bunches of kale--my favorite for Sunday breakfast
  • 1/4 pound of beans--they are just coming on
  • Several cuttings of herbs
Moneywise, we have currently harvested 20% worth of what we have spent on the garden this year.  Looking ahead, we have several carrots, beets, and greens to enjoy. Our cabbage are heading up nicely; I can't wait to make sauerkraut! We have several onions and garlic. Then, there are the numerous nightshade veggies--tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and several heirloom potato varieties.  I am trying one cucumber surrounded by borage plants, as our cucumbers are typically prone to stem boar. There are several dill, fennel, and horseradish planted, too. We just put in our sunflowers and okra. We are waiting for our sweet potato slips to arrive, and I'll continue succession planting beans. It's been a fruitful spring garden. Thank you for letting me share... 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Flower Essence Class--New Time

A new class will begin tomorrow in Tulsa, OK, called "Flower Essences--The Basics." Flower essence therapy was first developed in the early 1900's. Flower essences are infusions of flowers in spring water, usually preserved with brandy, which are used to promote the healing of the body, mind, and spirit. This introductory course will acquaint you with this gentle method of healing through instruction and experience. The summer class is being taught on Wednesdays, June 5, 12, and 19 from 10:00-11:30 (new time). An autumn series will be offered on Mondays, October 13, 20, and 27 from 6:00-7:30 p.m. Information to register can be found at www.ourhealingroots.net.

One example of flower essences is Bach Flower Therapy. In a 2009 Spanish study, 119 subjects received individualized Bach Flower Therapy. Subjects had an average of 3.4 visits. 87.4% of subjects reported good or very good results with the Bach Flower Therapy being very well tolerated overall (only 2% incidence of gastric intolerance). Reference: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20014621