Happy Solstice! I'm so excited for the return to the light, to longer days of more sunshine and the return of vibrant growth starting sooner that it seems. It's holiday season, and along with that comes eating diversions. These can be tasty and satisfying at the time, but can wreak havoc on our digestion, immune system, skin, and mood, along with every other part of our body. I'm sure you already have heard lots of frightening facts about sugar, so I won't try to scare you with more. Instead I want to encourage you toward self-care during this season so you can feel your best. Instead of encouraging you to deprive yourself of sweet things, making you more likely to just binge later, let's look at some alternatives.
How can you substitute tasty healthy treats for sugary treats? Think about substituting more natural sweeteners that don't spike your blood sugar. Try subbing maple syrup for sugar at a one to one ratio. You'll have to adapt your recipe a bit, to account for changing a solid to a liquid, but there's so many great recipes online these days. You could also try stevia, which doesn't raise your blood sugar at all. Make sure you use the green herb and not the white processed stevia. However, the taste may need to be acquired for some people and some never like it. Coconut sugar or molasses are other options, though eating a lot of these or maple syrup can still raise your blood sugar, so moderation is key. Here's a good article to check out about alternative sweeteners. You can also lower your fruit consumption and switch over to fruits that don't raise the blood sugar as much, like berries, pears, and apples.
Here's my holiday gift to you, a gluten-free, dairy-free, processed sugar-free, yet scrumptious recipe to satisfy your sweet tooth and, in moderation, provide a healthy alternative to those other sugary holiday downfalls.
* A few notes about the recipe *
Any wild nut will do, or store-bought nuts, too. I prefer the cacao over the cocoa powder. I think it tastes more chocolatey and has more antioxidants. Cocoa powder is a fine, inexpensive substitute, just try to stay away from the dutched cocoa powder. The dutching process supposedly reduces the antioxidants. (Check out a study here.) My professional baker friend said she doesn't like the Bob's Red Mill gluten free flour because it tends to make the end product grainy in texture. She recommended using coconut flour instead. I haven't had a chance to try that yet, but I didn't notice the grainy-ness anyway.
Banana Cacao Foraged Nut Bread Recipe
(In the large bowl)
2 cups mashed bananas
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (preferably homemade, look for a recipe here soon)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (recipe to make your own)
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
2/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 - 1/2 cup nuts of choice, coarsely chopped (I mix hickory and black walnuts)
(In the small bowl)
1 3/4 cup flour (I used 1 cup gluten free [add your favorite brand] and 3/4 cup rice flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup cocoa powder or cacao nibs powdered (you can powder them in a coffee grinder)
Preheat oven to 350 (or 375 in higher altitudes). Mix the ingredients in the large bowl. Mix the ingredients in the small bowl. Mix the small bowl ingredients into the large bowl ingredients, stirring as little as possible, just until mixed together. Pour into a greased loaf pan or 7 x 11" baking dish. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick or fork comes out clean, after poked into the bread. Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!
Adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie's Chocolate Banana Bread
Wishing you the happiest, brightest love and joy-filled season!
Let me know how this recipe worked for you in the comments. Do you have other yummy healthy recipes you like this season? Post them below.
Yes, it's that time again! No, not the holidays silly, it's time for the winter CSH share. What's a CSH share, you ask? It's like a CSA share, or Community Supported Agriculture share. This is an awesome idea started by farmers that has started catching on (and even spread to us herbalists). The idea is that you pay the farmer a certain amount up front for the year. The farmer uses this money to buy seeds and equipment that they need to grow their crops for the year. In return, you get a share of whatever the farmer grows that year. It's a win-win!
A CSH share, or Community Supported Herbalism share, works a little differently, especially dependent on which herbalist you talk to. Just like I love to say: If you ask 10 herbalists the same question, you'll probably get at least 10 different answers! Anyway . . . the way I work my CSH shares, is that I offer a small and a large share of whatever formulas I make each season from wild herbs I've harvested the previous season(s). I make the formulas pertinent for whatever ailments might come up during that season, with some bonus fun additions.
Actually, I wasn't going to offer the CSH anymore because they can be an awful lot of work. However, after many of you asked me about when the next one would be out and told me you needed it, I decided to oblige :) It is pretty awesome to get to see and hear about you enjoying these formulas I've worked so hard to create from plants I've sustainably harvested. It's definitely a labor of love, and it's so cool how the whole community benefits!
This winter, there's 2 different shares, the Simply Winter Health, or small share, and the Treat Yourself to Winter Health (pictured above), or large share. They both come with my most popular formula, the High-C Elderberry syrup with foraged elderberries, sumac berries, and rose hips, along with the Incendiary Fire Tonic hot sauce to keep you warm and healthy all winter long; and the Pucker Up lip balm based on my Every Purpose salve (that comes in the large share). You'll also get two new formulas that I'm super excited about: my Evergreen Salt, a great seasoning for holiday meats and more, and Clear the Crud sinus formula tincture (thanks, Natalie for the name!). That one is a mega blend of the fire tonic and elderberry syrup, mixed with wild harvested reishi mushrooms, usnea lichen, ground ivy, yarrow, self-heal, yellowroot, and local turmeric. Woah! Besides the salve, the large share includes the Mondo Mintastic tea with 3 wild harvested mints and peppermint, and the crowd favorite, the Harmony tincture, with herbs long valued for their mood lifting effects. (Find out more about the traditional mood-lifting herbs in this tincture, here.)
CSH shares make great gifts for someone you love or your very lovely self for winter health support all winter long! Check it out now at The WANDER School Etsy Store.
Wishing you a very happy, healthy, and joyful season! And if you need some other health and joy support, check out these great blogs from The WANDER School archives:
Nourishing Bone Broth Recipe
Self-Love Day and Fudge Recipe
Stay tuned for my brand new recipe for Banana Cacao Bread with Foraged Nuts!
Founder of the WANDER (Wild Artemisia Nature Discovery, Empowerment, and Reconnection) School, Botanist, Herbalist, & Professional Forager, Abby Artemisia, lives in rural Appalachian North Carolina. She learned about plants playing in the Midwestern woods of Ohio, working on organic farms, an herbal apprenticeship, a bachelor's degree in Botany from Miami University, and running her own tea business. She teaches about plant identification, native plants, and working with plants for food and medicine throughout the country. Her mission is offering nature and herbal education to create healing through connection with the natural world and each other. She is the author of The Forager's Wild Edible and Herbal Plant Cards and The Herbal Handbook for Homesteaders. She is the host of the podcast Wander, Forage, and Wildcraft, founder of The WANDER School, and co-founder of The Sassafras School of Appalachian Plantcraft.