Saved by the Fermented Veg!

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Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

Well, it seems winter is leaving us and as much as I love it… I’m really ready for spring! I do my best to keep up with my fresh veggie consumption in the winter, making yummy salads with shredded kale and cabbage, but sometimes I really crave that brightness that new spring veggies provides. So in those last two very long months of February and March, before the

new spinach, radish and pea shoots, I made a few batches of fermented veg.

Super easy and yummy, fermented veggies are crisp, bright and a bit tart, all the right things to perk up a meal and my taste buds. They are also a great source of the good gut bacteria that we could all use a bit more of.

I made them regularly many years ago but fell out of the practice. Plus we have a nice selection of fermented veg makers in the city so the convenience of grabbing a jar off the shelf may have had a little something to do with it (a favorite is Cobblestone Krautery).

But I decided to get back to it myself. There are many websites and books out there to get you started. I went to Cultures for Health, just to refresh my memory.

There are a dizzying array of fabulous products on the site, but also a TON of great recipes to get you started and a good bit of information about cultured veggies and other products and the process of fermentation itself. I started with a variation on this Carrot Kraut recipe and I added red cabbage and leeks just for fun.

Fermented foods have been around for thousands of years and are used in every culture. Fermenting prolongs “shelf” life of foods and also bumps up the good bacteria that are already present in many foods by creating an environment for them to grow and flourish. These good bacteria feed our guts, improve digestion and enhance our overall health.

You can ferment lots of stuff! My husband has been making kombucha, his own red wine and pear cider vinegars as well as a lovely raspberry shrub! Oh and a bit of beer and sourdough bread too… maybe he should be writing this post! Oh yeah, maybe he was part of my fermented veg inspiration too.

A book he loves, and may be the fermentation “bible” for some is, The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz. Talk about fermenting anything! This guy does it all and has written a very thorough and interesting book. Inspiring ferments from all over the world. Have fun!

“Pickled pea shoots” anyone?

Cheers!

Lovely Lavender

fresh lavender flowers pic

Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

We had a sneak preview of spring weather on Tuesday, with warm sun and cool breezes. I stopped by the garden between clients to get a boost from the crocus and mini iris that have been blooming steadily for a few weeks now. I walked around the garden, catching glimpses of little goodies slowly but surely poking out of the earth. So good for the spirit to see that!

And I really only intended to observe… but suddenly I found the clippers in my hand, my jacket thrown aside and there I was, pruning away the winter!

I cleared the old, withered leaves from the lambs ear, cut the dried stems from the chrysanthemums and straightened the wire frame that will soon be entwined with a lovely, low growing pink clematis. Then I noticed the lavender plant toppling out into the aisle. “ Oh my, do you need a haircut!” I made sure some new growths were beginning to show and then began to trim away last years ramblings.

And I’m so glad I did! In a rush, that sweet, dusty, herbal fragrance was all around me. I’ve trimmed this variety of lavender many times but don’t remember it ever smelling so sweet. I was already in a chill state of mind puttering around with my plant friends but this just enhanced it ten fold. As I continued to trim, the intensity of the fragrance grew and so did the smile on my face!

I, like many people, love lavender. The plants are beautiful, in all shades of greeny/grey, with flat, needle like or feathery leaves and all different variations in scent. Used for centuries to brighten the spirits and calm the nerves, as well as an antiseptic and addition to foods. Nothing like lavender shortbread cookies! Yum!

It is our most requested aromatherapy oil at the massage studio, helping our clients (and us!) settle their minds and bodies and get back in tune.

Here are my favorite ways to use lavender:

  • Last year for my birthday Judy gave me a bottle of Hauschka’s Moor Lavender Calming Bath Essence. WOW! It is so incredible. I use it, as she suggested, around my temples or just a light touch around my eyes, along my nose and cheeks and then down the jaw line, before I go to bed some nights. It is so soothing, I can’t help but relax (Thank you Judy!)!
  • I put 10-15 drops of lavender essential oil in an Epsom salt bath and then soak away the day. Or just a drop or two on my finger tips and then run them through my hair before I get into bed and ease into sleep.
  • Another favorite is lavender honey. A local lavender farm in Tabernacle, New Jersey, owned and operated by Toni and Steve Price, sells their honey along with sachets and bath salts at some of our farmer’s markets in the city. Lovely stuff! They also offer “cut your own ”lavender days so check out their website if you are interested. Very cool folks!

Happy Lavender-ing!

Two Words

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Posted by Judy Moon

Gwyn recently had a great post about list writing. I am a big fan of writing lists. I am especially fond of writing them on heart shaped post its and Hello Kitty notepads, (Dr. Seuss or glitter pencils optional.)  I make jokes that you must like Hello Kitty to be a massage therapist at Judy Moon & Associates.

It reminded me of a great practice that had fallen to the way side for me. I was once given some great advice from a woman I was seeing for Rubenfeld Synergy, an alternative treatment combining bodywork and talk therapy to help you deal with stresses in your life. Her advice to me after one of our sessions was so simple, but brilliant. She suggested at the top of my schedule/to do list everyday to write the words “nourish me”. Most of us have the habit of actually putting ourselves last if we are even on our own list. “Nourish me” is a simple reminder to the self to acknowledge itself and to become a priority.

I had been religiously writing that at the top of my schedule everyday. It felt good to do it. It was a very small step I could take every day to remind me to take care of me. It would make me smile sometimes looking at those words. Sometimes it reminded me to do something big – like make a doctor’s appointment, or call a friend that I had been missing or schedule some down time for myself. Sometimes it was just as simple as reminding me to take a few slow cleansing breaths. It would poke me to ask myself the question -“what are you going to do today to nourish you?”

It doesn’t always have to be epic. A full day at the spa is glorious! But so is an Epsom salt bath or sitting still for a few minutes with a cup of herbal tea or a big piece of dark chocolate is sometimes just the thing that you need. You just need to be asking yourself – what do I need, and then do it.

So I am back to writing Nourish Me at the top of my list and it feels great!

Honestly, is there anything more important than taking care of you? I think not.