Sunday, October 26, 2008

Everyday Herbs

These days I'm finding that herbs are becoming more and more a part of our daily life. Whether it's drinking tea, taking tinctures, or eating fresh and dried herbs, Vida and I are both benefiting from it. It feels like a more thoughtful way of taking care that is EASY!

This morning Vida had her usual cadre of herbs added to her food, while I squeezed some "Avena's Elixer" (an adaptogenic tincture) into my juice and took a couple of spoonfuls of a tasty "Rejuvenation Tonic" (who wouldn't, with a name like that!). I'm drinking herb teas more often (I love the ones I got from Jean's Greens, they're medicinal and they taste good!).

I admit to having a weakness for tasty prepared blends - so easy!

There are some great herbs that can be helpful to keep the system running more smoothly if we'd just take them on a regular basis. With our dogs we often forget that "vegetables" can and should include more than what is found in the typical American dinner salad.

We've got cultural amnesia when it comes to food, whether for our pet or ourselves. Most of us don't explore historical recipes that include foods that we now see only as "herbs". Heck, just think about dandelion greens - a green food that's great for our liver. I know, they can seem a little bitter, but I, for one, have realized that not only has my cooking repertoire atrophied, so has my palate.

My soup for tomorrow? Wild mushrooms and barley, with tempeh, kelp threads, and a little burdock root, plus of course carrots, garlic, and whatever spices seem to be a good taste fit. Maybe Vida will get a serving too!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Erratic Chi?

I think that the Chinese herbs for resolving Phlegm are working. The chi dispersing erratically, in a way. Skin is drying (itchy back), more frequent reverse sneezing episodes, behavior ranges amplified. I'm hoping this is just transitory, and a part of a shift as the Phlegm state dislodges.

She also starting spitting out the pills too, hmm....

I tried out some new food... that didn't go down so well.

She always loved Farmore brand raw bison food. Unfortunately the company seems to have gone belly up and the food isn't available anymore. So I decided to try Primal Buffalo Grind. I'd tried the Mix in the past, but she spit it out - this may have been the mustard greens in it, who knows. I tried the Grind this time because it has no veggies, so I could customize it (I thought the Mix had to many "sweets" in it).

I was surprised to learn that the food has very little
fibrous muscle tissue in it. The ingredient list is heart, liver, buffalo bone. I called the company and found out that the bone was neck bones, so there was some meat there, but by the looks of it when thawed didn't indicate any to me. It had no muscle structure to it at all.

Vida liked it and ate it, but within an hour she would be at the water bowl, drinking. Then, invariably, she'd throw that water up (along with a little bit of the food). For a couple of days she did OK when it was mixed with other food, but it happened again even when it was only part of the meal. She never had any trouble digesting it.

I definitely don't think there was anything "bad" about the food.I think it was just too "hot", and the water drinking was her way of trying to cool it down a bit. Now this is surprising to me because the species has never been that way for her in the past. Buffalo, while a red meat, is a pretty large, calm animal.

I think it's simply because it doesn't have enough fibrous muscle, so it ends up too heavy on organ meats. Heart is a funny one, half-way between a muscle and an organ. In this case I think they've really gotten the balance wrong. They don't advertise this food as complete, but I don't think they should play fast and loose with the muscle/organ ratio.

I could buy Bravo buffalo that's just muscle meat, and combine them (or combine the Bravo with Preference), but that ends up being a lot of food to deal with at once, and let's face it, kind of a hassle. There are other choices out there.

Oh, well. So much for buffalo as her favorite food.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Calendula's Gold Leaf Food Adornment

When I put a pinch of dried Calendula flowers on Vida's food I'm reminded of the practice of putting gold leaf (yes, real gold) on food in India. It's done for special occasions, and while of course it's decorative, it is edible, and it said to aid digestion.

Well for me, Calendula is far more valuable as a dinner decoration because we know it's medicinal, and it's still pretty.

Calendula is best known as a skin repair herb, and we usually see it as a salve or ointment. It's anti-inflammatory properties work well in the digestive system too. It can be given as a tea or tincture, but I've been experimenting with the dried flower petals (though I'm intrigued with the idea of dogs drinking tea with their meals).

Since I'm studying my herbs more seriously now, I'll list some of the actions of Calendula: anti-inflammatory, stimulates lymph circulation, heals wounds, astringent, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, liver and gallbladder stimulant....

I had a bag of dried Calendula flowers that I brought back from an herb conference, so I added it to Vida's food as an experiment. I felt that the blood cleanser she'd been getting might be irritating her stomach just a bit (it has Poke in it after all), so hoped this simple addition would offset that a bit. I'm making a skin rinse for a friend's dog that will include Calendula, too, so experimentation continues.

It's an easy grower. You want to get seeds or plants identified as calendula officinalis, which is popularly known as Pot Marigold. Then you can use it fresh, or save it dried or as a tincture. I have some seeds that I need to replant - I got the previous generation of seeds from an herbalist in Lakeside, CA who has a wonderful garden. When I went there for an herb walk we were invited to take some Calendula "dead heads" if we liked, and they grew perfectly for me.