Tag Archives: David Hoffman

Dandelion, the nature of tonics, and herbal “coffee.”

18 Jul

A few days ago, I posted a recipe for dandelion burdock soda.  I’ve given burdock a write up before, but now it’s dandelion’s turn.  Dandelion, perhaps the weediest of all lawn weeds, is full of healing powers.  The leaves are edible and make good, albeit bitter, salad greens.  The roots have a nutty flavor to them.  Dandelion root is available to buy commercially both in raw form and in roasted form.  Roasting helps to fill out the flavor, but deprives the root of some of its bitter constituents which are the powerful healing elements of the root.

P1190404 Dandelion Clock..02.05.14

(Photo credit: Tadie88)

David Hoffman sites dandelion as an ideally balanced diuretic.  Usually drugs that stimulate kidney function can also cause a loss of potassium, but because dandelion is a rich source of potassium, it replaces what might be lost, and is therefore a nourishing way of addressing water retention, particularly helpful in people who have water retention due to heart problems.

Robin Rose Bennett, in her new book The Gift of Healing Herbs (which I’ve been reading bits of daily lately) also sites dandelion as rich in iron, zinc, beta carotene, and calcium.  She uses it as a tonic for the liver, as a part of reproductive tonics, and to support the lymphatic system.  She also uses the flowers to make a tincture or an oil, which she uses in cases of emotional tension.

Susun Weed, in Healing Wise, also sites dandelion greens as valuable digestive bitters, and flowers as a pain reliever.

Overall, I’ve gleaned that dandelion gets things moving through the body, which is great when we have places that are stuck, whether in our finer fluid systems, our digestion, our circulation, or our psyche.  I know many people who, in an attempt to cleanse themselves of some perceived toxicity, turn to harsh methods such as fasting or colonics, 100 percent raw diets, or yogic salt water drink cleanses.   Many of these fasters end up with worse digestion and depleted intestinal flora after their cleanse.  Our bodies clean themselves if we support them.  If we nourish the organs that cleanse us, we don’t need to resort to deprivation techniques.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

I come across the word “tonic” applied to dandelion and many other weeds.  For a long time this word confused me.  What is a tonic?  Weed says it’s something that “nourishes the functioning (tonus) of a muscle, organ, or system; invigorates and strengthens all activity.”  This definition is odd because it defines tonic with tone.  What is tone?  Hoffman says tonics are “herbs that strengthen and enliven either a specific organ, or system, or the whole body”.   This explanation still left me confused, somehow, until I heard a definition of tone from my yoga and BMC teacher, Amy Matthews.  She defines tone as “readiness to respond.”   When I pair this definition with the understanding that “reaction” and “response” are two very different things, I get a better chance of grocking what tone is.   With balanced tone, our organs are able to rest when appropriate, and become active when necessary. Ready to respond means being attuned to any situation.  Tonic herbs are helpful because don’t just stimulate our organs:  they nourish them so that the organs can do their work and regulate themselves.  Thus, the wise woman tradition refers to herbs as our “allies,” rather than thinking of them like drug replacements.

A year or so ago, I picked up a bottle of Dand-E-Chick, a coffee replacement beverage made by a local Brooklyn lady.  I’ve had other chicory beverages that are just infuriating: I drink them, and I feel resentful that I am not actually drinking coffee.  This stuff, somehow, is better.  It has the bitter-sweetness of coffee without trying to pretend to be coffee.  Dand-E-Chick lady used to sell the grounds at Abhyasa Yoga Center, where I teach.  They haven’t turned up at the center lately, but I’ve taken to making my own version.  I think her ratio is still a little better taste-wise but here’s what I do:

 

Dandelion-Chickory coffee replacement:

Combine:

4 T ground roasted dandelion root

4 T chicory root

2 T cocoa or cinnamon

Add a couple scoops to your french press (just like you would coffee grounds), and pour boiling water over the herbs.  Let steep 5 minutes.  Pour a cup, adding milk to your taste.

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Cherry Explosion (and a new recipe)!

2 Jun

English: explosion symbol

It’s been a rough couple of days.  The heat in New York is oppressive, and to top things off, our refrigerator decided to give out yesterday afternoon.

Recently, I made a batch of cherry soda with tibicos (water kefir).  I left the bottled brew out only a few hours for the secondary ferment, but it was enough to create TONS of fizz!  I think this is due to the heat.  The first  bottle I opened up in the sink spewed all over the sink area before I could hold the bottle cap down to contain the fizz, and I lost 3/4 of the bottle all over the place.

Grolsch:  My bottle of choice, up till now.

Since then, I have had better luck opening bottles:  I place the bottle in a bowl, cup my hand  the cap and push down hard so that when the fizz bubbles out, it deflects off my clean hand and bubbles down the sides of the bottle into the bowl.

Then, the fridge died.  We are currently waiting for a new relay switch to arrive in the mail.   In the meantime, our refrigerator is packed with ice from the bodega to preserve our foodstuff.  I learned the hard way that it hasn’t been quite cool enough for my tibicos:  this morning, from a room away, we heard a “bang!” from inside the refrigerator.  I opened the door to find that not only had my cherry soda escaped, but it went the crazy way:  breaking the glass bottle into tons of little shards.  Not fun to clean up, but also scary!  Someone could have gotten hit in the face with that bomb!  I posted the incident to my Facebook fermentation forum, and one fellow fermenter recommended always leaving at least 2 inches of space at the top of the bottle.  She said the same thing  happened to one of her bottles before she started leaving the extra space.  I used to just leave one inch… not anymore!  I may even consider switching to plastic bottles, although the thought hurts me so….

New, Improved CHERRY, CHERRY POP

Before all of this this bad excitement, I have slowly adapted my original cherry soda recipe into something even more fabulous.  The first ferment is the the same as the original recipe.  When I bottle it, I add to a single Grolsch bottle (12 oz bottle):

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 Tbsp cherry concentrate

1 tsp wild cherry bark

Let the bottled brew sit out at room temperature for a little bit (maybe not too long at all if it’s hot in your kitchen!) to build up some bubbles and to create a secondary ferment.  You can  “burp” the bottle during this second ferment, to allow some of the CO2 buildup to escape.  You could also just put the bottle with the flavorings straight in the refrigerator.  Cooler temperatures significantly slow fermentation but do not completely stop the process.  After a couple of days, the cherry bark should be sufficiently infused into your brew.  Strain the bark out of your soda when you pour it.

Prunus serotina (Wild Cherry)

leaves of the wild cherry, photo credit Wikipedia

About Wild Cherry Bark (Prunus serotina):  

Wild cherry bark should be stored in an airtight container away from light.  It is most commonly used to ease coughs, although it treats the cough symptom, not the healing of infection.  It is useful along with other herbs to control asthma.  Wild cherry bark is also useful as a digestive bitter, and a cold infusion of the bark can be used as a wash for eye inflammation.  (Thanks to David Hoffman’s Holistic Herbal for this information)

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