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A blog about all things allergen-free and delicious

Entries in immune system (3)


Green manure for garden & soul.


You may have noticed that there weren't any shots of the garden or its bounty this year.  After last year's constant rain & mold; three replantings -- thanks to deer that have no boundaries (yes, the garden was double fenced - one 9 foot, 1 electric), I decided to give the garden, and me a break. 

Like us, the soil has an immune system.  Sometimes it needs to rest.  Not to work so hard.  To let go. 

Now, my garden is behaving in interesting ways - just by doing nothing.  But it is not replenishing properly.  I left my tougher herbs to fight it out in the hot summer sun.  Others, I put into pots.  However, as seasoned farmers and gardeners will tell you, just letting the soil "be" might be interesting, but that doesn't mean that your precious soil is replenishing.  To help that process, I plan to plant some green manure, like clover, mustard, and marigolds; let them over-winter, then mow them under.

This fall is a great time to take control of that garden recovery period so that next summer your soil is ready to be productive.  Green manure is one fantastic, organic means of planned replenishment.  The practice involves planting specific plants that interact with the soil to boost its nutrients, bio-diversity, and healthy organisms.  From what I understand, there are "legume" and "non-legume" versions of green manure.  Some plants work better in the spring, and others in the fall. 

Here are a few examples.



Crimson,White Dutch, or yellow clover



Winter Tarres

Field Peas



IMPORTANT GLUTEN-FREE NOTE:  Rye grass and other gluten based grains are also recommended as green manure.  If you need a gluten-free diet, its best to choose a non-gluten option like those above.

Using Green Manure (or cover cropping) is all new to me.  So here are links from folks who know a great deal about this:

Organic Gardening Magazine:  Cover Crops for Fall

Permaculture Pathways: Green Manure Cropping

Buy Seeds through


On a human note, fall is also a great time to "remember" & schedule regular downtime throughout the busy-ness of school, work, family, and what-not.  Sow your own "green manure" to keep yourself renewed throughout the cold, immune busting months.  Eat seasonal, nutritious food, and do what replenishes you so you have a bounty to give back to those around you.

Fellow gardeners, let the foodie community know what you are doing to keep your soil healthy this fall!  In the meantime, here is the state of my wild, crazy, beautiful though unkempt lady.


Crazy, Wild Garden

Lambs Ear, just one, appeared out of nowhere.

This little blue flower seems like a Phacelia, but is it?English Thyme was the only plant that I kept a reverent soil circle around it.The chives, mint, and oregano became out of control. Beautiful.Chocolate Daisy peeking up through the chives.The entire garden, an unkempt, spent lady.

A beautiful polinator. The chives were covered in them.



RECIPE: Nourishing Burdock Stew (Vegan, GF)


I asked Lisa Rose Starner of Burdock & Rose to divulge this heavenly, vegan recipe after she served it at her 2011 talk on herbs and adrenal health.  To find out more about the medicinal properties of the herbs used in this recipe, visit this summary of her mini-seminar. If you are in Grand Rapids, you can find many of the herbs at Elder & Sage.

Castle Defense Nourishing Broth (Vegan)


Herbal Infusion Mixture


Herbal Infusion Mixture:  Red clover, Nettle, Oatstraw (read why oatstraw & oats must be gluten-free), Astragalus (2 sticks) -- approx. 2 cups dry herb total. In case of Gluten Intolerance, remove Oatstraw*, then increase Nettle and Red Clover.

1 cup dry mushroom of choice -- Chaga, Reishi, Maitake or 1 TBSP powered mushroom (MushroomHarvest online offers great mushroom blends)

Simmer herbal mixture and mushrooms SLOWLY in 6 qts of water for 20 minutes. Again, simmer, no boil.


Strained Herbal Broth

Let sit overnite (on the counter or in the refrigerator) for 12 hours. Long cooking/extraction time is needed to extract minerals. Let the broth come to room temperature, then strain & store in Ball Jars or containers and refrigerate if you aren't making soup right away. Freezes well. Can also be sipped at room temperature as a nourishing infusion.  

*Many folks allergic to gluten are also allergic to oats (see this post explaining this).  If you are not allergic to oats, be sure to source gluten-free oat straw.

Nourishing Burdock Stew (Vegan, GF if made w/o Oatstraw)

Domesticated Burdock with Carrot, Shallot, Garlic to go into soup with stewed Tomatoes & mushroom power

  • Nourishing Broth as prepared above
  • 1 cup brown rice -- cooked, optional
  • 1 cup adzuki bean -- cooked, optional
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 6 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 3 reg sized Burdock root (sliced or diced)
  • 3 carrots (chopped)
  • Salt, pepper to taste, or even minced Parsley, Thyme, Sage or Rosemary.

Sautee onion and garlic, sweat the Burdock & Carrots until the carrots are soft enough to pierce with a fork, then stir in cooked rice & beans (optional).

Cover with prepared herbal broth.  Simmer again for 20 minutes to meld flavors.

Eat and savor this nourishing, nutrient dense soup.

***To prepare soup with the added immunity builder of bone broth (highly recommended for persons with significantly compromised immunity and also as general immunity builder during winter months)


Immune-Building Bone Broth (non-Vegan, GF, DF)


Maitake mushroom wild from Michigan forests.
Decoct herbal mixture and mushrooms as directed. In separate pot, sear soup bones (beef or chicken from healthy animals) in the pot to brown, along with the onion.

Pour the prepared broth (herbs and all) over the searing bones.  Bring pot to simmer. Add 2 TBSP of vinegar  then do a slow extraction of 12 hours or so, by simmering the broth and bones on low heat. Add some water as needed as the broth reduces down. THEN strain.  This will be your bone broth.  

Finish recipe by sautéing your vegetables, adding in rice, beans.  Simmer for additional 20 minutes for flavors to meld, serve. 




Stephen Colbert, from Cows to Cosmetics, You've Led Me Down a Sticky Path



As I research the new gluten-free labeling initiative, and answer some interesting questions about it, I am reminded of other sticky issues bubbling for attention in the background.  When I watched this video from Stephen Colbert's Oct., 6 2010 show which was posted on this morning, I decided to give these bubbles a little attention.  The foodista post was simply intended to show that the raw milk controversy has gone mainstream.  That's it.  But this is an interesting subject to me, since certain groups are proclaiming that raw milk will help cure dairy allergies.  As a person who suffers from the same, I am intrigued, but not about to run out and guzzle a giant glass of moo cow.  Or even a tiny one.  Thus, mine will be the cautious path and I'll do some heavy investigation before even commenting on it.  (However, if you are one of those folks who have had your dairy allergies actually cured from raw milk, I soooo want to hear from you.  Moo.)

The video clip itself, however, innocently drew me into other sticky issues.  This clip is really more about civil liberties than it is about the benefits or risks of drinking raw milk.  Which is interesting, but in today's times, civil liberties usually ends up in an "us" versus "them" discussion, which is ...  well you tell me.

Pasteurization without representation.  _Ron Paul

Individuals are stupid.  _David Acheson, former Assistant Commissioner for the FDA on Food Safety

But my attention stuck on something else that Stephen mentioned in the clip:  New York's stand on the health risks of dangerous chemicals in common household products.  To be fair, in his own words:

“… New York State will start enforcing a 40-year-old law that requires manufacturers of household cleansers to reveal the chemical ingredients in their products and any health risks they pose.  Way to spoil the surprise Bloomberg!”

But wait, the sticky issues don't stop there.  Have you read your cosmetics labels lately?  Pick up a copy of "No More Dirty Looks" to see why this is important.  Or simply read this quick article by the authors of that fine book.  In short, certain terms like "fragrance" are covered by trade secret laws, which means that, as long as there is an ingredient list outside of the word "fragrance", any company can put any chemical into any "fragrance", be it listed on a perfume, household product, or cosmetic.  To give you a different perspective, Europe has banned over 1,000 chemicals that are listed for use in cosmetics, while the U.S. has only banned nine.  Why would companies put carcinogenic or harmful, sometimes deadly chemicals into our household cleaners, let alone our skin care products?    Laziness?  Naughtiness?  Hatefulness?  Ignorance?  Mis-guided Creativity?  Greed?  Your guess is as good as mine. 
Regardless of the answer, it's worth becoming a little more educated about the products we are using.  Our skin is our largest organ and it absorbs what we put on it quickly (think:  hormone creams, "The Patch", etc.). Research, like this study done by the University of Michigan School of Public Health, reveals that chemicals in anti-biotic soaps are damaging the immune and hormonal systems in both children and adults.  What's more, they "increase the risk of hay fever and other allergies."  Weren't anti-biotic soaps supposed to be good things?  After all, I remember seeing the commercials and rushing out to buy them. 
In the end, we are what we eat, slather on, and breathe.   It stinks that some manufacturers don't just "do the right thing" or think about the outcome of their ingredient choices on their own customers.  But many don't.  The good news is, we can make choices that influence the market and support those good guys who have a more wholistic, knowledgeable and caring vision.  Need some inspiration?  Just start reading labels.  And spread the word about the good things you find.