Harvest Health

Harvest Health

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Gluten free Zucchini fritters

Not wanting to waste any of our zucchini bounty, we have been eating it a few to several times a week.  It is possible that I was getting just a tiny bit sick of it.  That is, until, in an effort to use up several zucchinis in one meal, I made zucchini fritters.  They were delicious and restored my love for the vegetable of this summer.

It's also possible that the world doesn't need another zucchini fritter recipe, but they're so easy and so yummy I feel compelled to share.

Zucchini fritters

3 medium zucchini
2 eggs, lightly whisked
1/2 cup chickpea flour (besan)*
1/2 tsp sea salt

Choose any combination of the following depending on what you like or have on hand:
1/2 onion, sliced thinly
3 spring onions cut into 1cm pieces
1 cup peas
Handful of chopped mint and/or parsley
Zest from 1 lemon

Grate zucchini either with a grater or food processor.  Place in a colander and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.  After a few minutes grab handfuls and squeeze out the liquid.  Place in a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients.  Add more flour if mixture is too wet.

Cook fritters in olive oil for about 2 minutes each side, or until golden brown.  You can then either eat straight away or put into a low to medium oven to keep warm.

Delicious served with a green salad or tomato salsa.

*Chickpea flour can be found at most whole food shops and even the supermarket.  You can also use almond meal or coconut flour to keep it gluten free.  Or simply use plain flour if gluten in not a problem.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Chamomile - a small herb with big actions!

First up in my series of common herb profiles is one that is known and used world wide - Chamomile.   Chamomile (Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita) is a herb that has been used since ancient times.  Traditionally it was considered to have two specific fields of action: the nervous system and the digestive system.  It works particularly well therefore on nervous conditions that affect the digestive system.  Chamomile has always been used with children, indicating that it is considered a very safe and gentle herb.

Chamomile has the following actions:
carminative (soothing to the gut wall, and reduction of gas),
mild sedative,
vulnerary (wound healing) and
diaphoretic (promoting or inducing a sweat).

You can see that is a lot of actions for a little common herb!  Do not under-estimate the humble chamomile.

A herbalist might use chamomile to treat the following conditions:
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Food sensitivities
  • Flatulence and colic
  • Diarrhoea
  • Gastrointestinal inflammation
  • Infantile colic
  • Gastritis, peptic ulcers, reflux
  • Restlessness and anxiety
  • Topically for eczema (dermatitis)

You can use chamomile yourself at home to also treat the above conditions.  A cup of chamomile tea may not seem like strong medicine, but if it is made correctly with quality dried herb, it can have the same actions as outlined above.  Beware though, a cup of chamomile tea made with a teabag from the supermarket is not the same thing!  We are very lucky here in Victoria to have Southern Light Herbs, a family run business that grows and sources the very best quality herbs for their teas.  Visiting their farm made me aware of the vast difference in quality between their organic loose leaf herbal tea, and what is packaged and sold as tea in teabags.  Their tea is available from organic whole food shops, health food shops, and many naturopaths.

Making a cuppa:

Get yourself  some real dried chamomile flowers.  Add 1 - 2 tsp per person to a teapot or a cup with a lid.  It is very important when making a cup of chamomile tea that the tea is enclosed either by a lid or in a teapot, or else many of the active constituents may escape.  Leave to steep for at least 5 minutes.  Make it as strong as you enjoy, but I think the stronger the better!

Although night time is the classic time to drink a cup of chamomile tea to help with sleep, it can be enjoyed at almost any other time of day.  Make a cup to soothe an upset stomach, to decrease period pain, or to relieve a tension headache.

Chamomile - small herb - big actions!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Herbal Medicine

If you have never been to a naturopath, or are new to the naturopathic world, you may be unfamiliar with how we treat.  The main modalities I practice are Herbal medicine, and Nutrition.  Both are wonderful and effective entities in themselves, but when used therapeutically together, they can be outstanding in their effect on people, helping them to become well.

Herbal medicine is under utilised by our largely Western society in Australia.  However, from a world-wide point of view, the majority of medicine taken around the world are herbal remedies.  Herbal medicine is not a primitive form of treating that has been superseded by modern medicine.  It still has relevance and so much to offer to people in the 21st century.  It is my wish that more people are going to learn about and turn to herb medicine.  The 'world of the weed' has so much to offer!

Some of the herbs I use in my dispensary would have been familiar to, and used by the Greeks and Chinese 3000 years ago.  This is exciting.  Remedies would not be handed down over thousands of years if they weren't effective.  Our ancestors had a different concept of illness than today's modern medicine.  Back then they viewed diseases as imbalances to be corrected, rather than invasions to be attacked.  Herbal remedies were used to adjust patterns of disorder, and gently nudge a body back to health.

One of the most wonderful things about the herbal world is that herbs behave as more than just an assembly of chemicals.  Whereas many drugs are used for only one action on a specific disease state, many herbs can be used across different body systems, and have multiple actions.  I may be a bit biased, but I think that's tremendously exciting.

I am going to run an occasional series on some of the more common herbs that I have in my dispensary, so that you can get a sense of just how amazing these common plants, or weeds are.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Zucchini....vegetable of the Summer

For the first time, this Summer, I have been growing Zucchini. I can't believe I've never grown it before.  Without much effort on my part, the plants have grown lush and green, and provided a bumper harvest of zucchinis that just keeps giving.  The vegetables seem to grow centimetres overnight.  Despite some, which have become bulbous and hard, most are delicious.  Luckily I have been craving zucchini many lunch and dinner times.

Here are some of the ways we have been eating zucchini over the Summer:

This has been a revelation for me.  Prior to the last year, I have to admit I have never considered eating zucchini raw.  Now I can't believe what I've been missing for so long.  Raw grated zucchini is delicious just with just a pinch of salt and pepper, lemon juice, olive oil and shredded mint.  Also, whenever I am making a 'thrown together' salad for my lunch, I grate in about half a zucchini.

Zucchini spaghetti
This is a nifty little trick to decrease carb content and increase nutrient content of pasta meals.  It's very easy to make spaghetti like shapes from zucchini to have in place of traditional pasta.  Use a mandolin if you have one, otherwise using a vegetable peeler, (or I find a cheese slicer works really well), slice zucchini into thin wide strips.  Then pile the strips on top of each other and cut into thin strips.  They can either be used raw, or lightly fried in oil and garlic before placing the pasta sauce on top.

Cooked minted zucchini
Finely slice zucchini and add to a pan with olive oil and 2 cloves of crushed garlic, and salt and pepper.  Add a chopped handful of mint and chilli if desired.  Cook until soft.

As you can see, not really recipes, but just some ideas of how to enjoy abundant zucchini.