Tag Archives: Herbs

Nanakusa: Feast for Health

Herb Gardens 2016 wall calendar

Image from our Herb Gardens 2016 wall calendar. Click image for more info.

On the seventh day of the first month, the Japanese prepare and eat a rice porridge containing seven herbs—a custom which is believed to bring longevity and good health. Traditionally the seven herbs are water dropwort, shepherd’s purse, cudweed, chickweed, nipplewort, turnip, and daikon.

Since the herbs used are some of the first greens to appear in the year (and some of them are edible weeds like chickweed), you might adapt this custom by looking at what is seasonally available in your area and making a salad. Continue reading

Coconut-Lavender Panna Cotta by Maggie Oster


Lavender in raised border © Photos Lamontagne / Getty Images

With Fall in the air, we seem to be nesting more — wearing comfy, warm clothes and spending hours in the kitchen. So we’re exploring recipes and ways we can enjoy the harvest. And maybe entertaining our sweet tooth just a bit, too.

From the Herb Gardens 2015 wall calendar by Maggie Oster
Coconut-Lavender Panna Cotta
Providing a sense of calm and balance, the fresh, sweet aroma of lavender has been beloved for centuries. Used for its beauty, singular scent, and medicinal properties, lavender continues to be a favorite. The use of flowers and leaves of lavender in cooking is growing in popularity. With a flavor that melds floral, piney, and camphor, fresh or dried lavender flowers are most often added to desserts, but they sometimes find their way into savory dishes. Lavandula angustifolia, with its sweet, mild flavor, is the best choice for cooking. Of the dozens of true lavender varieties, Hidcote and Munstead are the most widely available, hardiest, and easiest to grow. Harvest lavender midmorning on a dry day when almost all the buds are open. Tie stems in bundles and hang upside down in a dry, dark place. When dry, gently strip the flowers from the stem. If buying, be sure the flowers are for culinary purposes. Quickly and easily made, panna cotta is a sweet and creamy pudding that is among the most versatile of desserts and readily flavored in innumerable ways. Continue reading

Summer Sangria – White Sangria with Herbs

Refreshing and delicious, easy to make and easy to drink, sangria makes any gathering a party. Although Spain is considered the home of sangria, it has been adapted around the globe, with variations in the type of wine used as well as the fruits and flavorings. Experiment with various herbs used singly or in combinations of no more than four or five herbs. Some of the best herbs to use are lemon balm, lemon verbena, borage, rose geranium, sage, rosemary, lavender, anise hyssop, bee balm, pineapple sage or sweet woodruff, as well as the many different basils, mints or thymes. With the bounty of fruits available, the combinations are limitless.Herb Gardens Wall Calendar

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup turbinado or coconut sugar
4 4-inch fresh spearmint sprigs
4 4-inch fresh thyme sprigs
2 4-inch fresh rosemary sprigs
1 bottle (750 ml) white wine, such as
pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc
1/2 cup orange liqueur
2 cups fresh strawberries, cut in half
1 orange, thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh spearmint leaves
1/2 bottle (1L) sparkling water, chilled

In a small saucepan, combine water and sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, add herbs, cover and let steep until mixture is room temperature.

In a large pitcher or punch bowl, combine wine, liqueur, fruit and mint leaves. Strain the sugar syrup (discard herbs) and add to the wine mixture. If possible, chill the mixture overnight to allow flavors to blend. Add sparkling water just before serving. To serve immediately after preparing, use chilled wine and serve over ice.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Recipe by Maggie Oster
Photograph © Marianne Majerus / MMGI

Excerpt from Herb Gardens 2014 wall calendar

Herb Gardens Wall Calendar

Lavender – Tension Reliever

A drop of lavender essential oil rubbed into the temples relieves tension headaches.

While most people think of this herb as merely a floral scent for bath salts or bed linens, this plant has powerful antiviral properties. The list of volatile oils within lavender’s flower buds includes linalool, which is particularly helpful in preventing the flu. Because flu viruses have viral envelopes, which help them enter host cells, they are sensitive to the monoterpene alcohols prevalent in lavender’s family.

Twenty-first-century use of this herb focuses on lavender’s sedative qualities. Lavender essential oil is popular as a calming agent for the entire nervous system. As the volatile oils are absorbed through the skin or sinuses, the nerves send messages throughout the body to relax the muscles, easing headaches, nervous stomachs and muscle cramps.

In an increasingly tense world, lavender is a welcome companion. It offers a much needed tonic for mind and body.

Author Sue Sierralupe is certified as a master gardener, sustainable landscape educator and medical herbalist in Eugene, Oregon.

2012 Healing Herbs Wall Calendar