Litha: crossing the summer solstice threshold


Happy summer solstice! Hello from Nourishing Root! A quick note to let you know that my new website is under construction and in the meantime I’ll be posting a description of services on this blog soon. I’m here to help you eat better and more deliciously through herbal and dietary wellness consultations, private cooking, cooking for wellness, recipe development, flower essences, and food made to order: granola, smoothies, broths, cakes, tiramisus, and desserts. Contact me with any questions.

 Today the longest day of the year when we will feel the sun the longest. Combined with the full moon, we are receiving a lot of solar and lunar light. Many religions and mythologies celebrate this time of solar force as a celebration of fire, male force (the sun associated with divine masculine force), and female fertility with the earth ready to burst with the fruits and coming harvest of later summer. In Celtic Myth, the Oak King rules the waxing sun time of the year and the solstice or “litha” is the threshold of passing power to his brother the Holly King who rules the waning sun time. A few deities from other cultures who are associated with the summer solstice are: Hindu goddess of light Aditi, Greek and Roman sun god Apollo, Sami goddess Beiwe who gives light to plants and thus life to reindeer who are central in Sami culture, Greek hearth goddess Hestia, Egyptian sun god Horus, Roman goddess Juno, Celtic god bright and strong handed Lugh, and Roman hearth goddess of the state Vesta. There is an overarching theme of tending the fire: the solar as a divine illuminating force within the self, the creative fires, the fires of hearth, home, and family, especially as the summer solstice welcomes the time of Cancer, ruler of home and family.


From this point as the daily sunlight wanes looking toward fall and winter, it is time to enjoy. The light changes quickly. There is that familiar feeling of turning the corner of the season and anticipating fall even though we are just coming to summer’s gifts. Enjoy the gifts of summer! Carpe diem. This can also be a time of great individual creativity as the fire solar element is strong and there is a gentle shift toward the lunar and the lengthening of the nights. To bring awareness to the difference between solar and lunar mental consciousness can create a fertile dance. The solar is linear, direct, illuminating, often about the hero’s journey of the individual. What drives our creative fires? How will those creative fires be directed? With seeds grown into plants and flowers, what harvest and fruits are being anticipated? The lunar is non-linear, spiraling, playing and pausing as a means of problem solving. Lunar knows it is necessary to embrace self care in order to nurture others. Can we be more being honest about our habits, making adjustments in sleep, diet, exercise, substance use, how emotions are expressed? The full moon at this summer solstice will bring more attention to the lunar angle of summer solstice’s expression meaning it may be useful to keep non-linear ways of seeing handy along with checking in with your own self care. The summer solstice threshold is a time to pause, to celebrate, to consider how you will rededicate yourself to what you are in relationship with: a partner, yourself, a spiritual study, another study, family, work, community, gaia, the path you walk. Whatever this threshold crossing means to you personally, each earth holiday is an opportunity to share the celebration in community. Happiness exists only when it is shared.


How to celebrate? Light a fire (safely) or light a candle to mark the solar energy. Fires are traditionally burned from the night previous through solstice evening. Traditional herbs of summer solstice are sage, mint, St John’s wort, sunflower, lavender, mistletoe (the Holly King gathering power at the threshold time), oak, rowan, fir. Offerings can be herbs, seashells, summer flowers, fruits, round cakes with bright flavors like lemon are good too. St. John’s wort leaves have tiny holes that let in more light and in spirit this plant is a sun warrior bringing more light to the internal self and creating a protective aura of light. Sunflower opens the heart and chest to the sun allowing the individual self to shine out to the world. Oak as a gateway guardian holds the keys to entering other time and space and its leaves makes a delicious ritual tea. Lavender, sage, and mint are all cooling. This is a good time to consider personal constitutions and how to use plants to bring a more neutral calm state to the body by cooling a warm constitution, moistening the dry. It’s the perfect time to start making chilled summer drinks. See the basil mint lemonade below. Try it with other herbs too- lavender or lemon balm would all be lovely. Enjoy the longest day with bright light inside and out. Summer blessings!




1/3 C lime juice, from about 3 limes

1T dried loose peppermint tea, steeped in 1 C hot water, 15- 30 minutes, strained

1 T dried basil, steeped in 1 C hot water, 15- 30 minutes, strained

3 T maple syrup

6 C soda water

1C fresh mint, washed and picked from stems


1. Make basil and peppermint teas.

2. After steeping and straining teas, pour teas into a 1/2 gallon jar. Add lime juice and

maple syrup. Mix well.

3. Add soda water. Stir.

4. Fill four 16 oz glasses with fresh mint. Divide lemonade between glasses.

basil mint lemonade.2

Summer playtime in the kitchen



Summer is here at last and it’s time to make fruits and veggies the stars of the plate. My favorite summer meals feature the simplest ingredients: a pint of fresh blueberries, a handful of green beans, cheese from the farmer’s market, heaps of salad. Au revoir roasted vegetables I’ve had you up to my ears full. Though I adore these simple meals, putting in a little more time can create a big return in flavor complexity and in the convenience of having food prepared for several meals.

Summer also brings an abundance of fresh herbs. In the summer the sun draws the essence of herbs out to play, to imagine, to inspire. Basil transports tomatoes to another level. Lemon thyme makes fruit jump and pause with aromatic height and earthiness. Cilantro dances with many partners on the salsa floor. Parsley’s bright green is like lounging barefoot in the grass. Mint hits high notes but calms in a steady cool. These two recipes are healthy and delicious with dynamic herbal flavors. They also create minimal heat in the kitchen.

The herbs used in the recipes are meant to be examples that can be replaced with what is available and exciting to you. I encourage you to use the recipes as a guide but follow your intuition for the combinations that feel right in the moment. What’s in your garden? What catches your eye at the farmer’s market? Use the sensuousness of the season to guide your nose and palate. I’ll make suggestions for substitutions where appropriate to give a sense of some other combinations that would be complementary. Enjoy summer playtime in and out of the kitchen!




summer rolls:

9-inch summer roll rice wrappers, at least 20, Red Rose is a popular brand

2 heads soft lettuce like boston (iceberg or green leaf would also work), washed and dried and torn into pieces about 2 inches by three inches

1 large daikon radish, peeled, cut into thin strips 3 inches long

3 large carrots, peeled, cut into thin strips 3 inches long

1 large cucumber, peeled (optional), seeded, cut into thin strips 3 inches long

2 sweet bell peppers (red, yellow, or orange), seeded, cut into thin strips 3 inches long

1 bunch scallions, cut into thin strips, 3 inches long

juice of 1 lime

2-3 avocados, sliced, removed from skins, gently tossed with lime juice

1 bunch mint, leaves picked, washed, and dried

1 bunch basil, leaves picked, washed, and dried

1 bunch cilantro, leaves picked, washed, and dried

Note: the size of the vegetables is flexible. Work with the size and shape of each vegetable to maximize the number of usable pieces. Smaller and thinner is better to get more flavors into each roll.

peanut sauce:

1 1/2 C roasted salted peanuts

1 C water

1/4 C tamari

1 T brown rice vinegar

1 T molasses

1/2 tsp sea salt

optional 1/2 C crushed peanuts


large bowl, at least 11 inches diameter

plastic cutting board: Bamboo and wood tend to stick to the wrappers. If you don’t have a plastic cutting board use a large plate or try a piece of wax paper on top of the cutting board.

parchment or wax paper

serving plates or storage containers


Make the sauce first as the flavor and texture will benefit from a little time to sit.

For the sauce:

Place all ingredients (except crushed peanuts if using) in a blender. Blend until smooth. Stir in crushed peanuts if using. Note that peanut sauce will thicken as it sits, so don’t be concerned if it looks thin when first made. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the rolls:

  1. Prep all the vegetables according to the ingredient list.
  2. Arrange vegetables in easy access around a clean plastic cutting board. 
  3. Set up plates or storage containers in easy access for the finished rolls. The rolls will stick to each other if they touch. When storing, separate rolls with wax or parchment paper.
  4. Fill the large bowl with hot water.
  5. Dip one rice wrapper in the hot water. When the water is very hot the wrapper will need a very short time to soften 5-10 seconds. As the water cools, the wrappers will need more time. As you work with the wrappers you’ll get a feel for how long works best. Feel free to change the water and start again with hot water as needed.
  6. Place the wrapper on the cutting board. Imagine the wrapper divided in half top and bottom. Place lettuce just below the imaginary dividing line and then fill the lettuce with at least one piece of each vegetable, keeping the edges of the wrapper clear.
  7. Bring the bottom of the wrapper up rolling over the veggies tightly, fold in the sides tightly and continue to roll all the way up the rest of the wrapper. The rice wrapper will stick to itself and seal. Place the roll in the storage container or serving plate.
  8. Keep rolling until the ingredients are used up. Don’t forget to taste test to see if you like the proportions of vegetables and herbs and adjust accordingly.


  • Try roasted almonds or cashews instead of peanuts for the sauce.
  • For herbal options think soft in texture with big flavor: shiso leaves, parsley, lemon balm, other mint family plants like thai basil or holy basil, sorrel, watercress, nasturtium leaves.
  • Add in cooked fish or chicken. If using chicken, simmer it in water, shred it and mix with rice wine vinegar, some honey, and salt to keep it moist. If using fish, rolls should be eaten for that meal, and within the next twenty four hours given proper refrigerated storage.




This compote packs a flavor punch. The crunchiness of the hazelnuts adds satisfying texture and protein. The compote is great on it’s own but especially delicious mixed with yogurt or served over ice cream, pudding, custard, or cake.


16 oz fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered

20 oz frozen blackberries

1 1/2 C hazelnuts

1/2 C +2 T honey or herbal honey (or more to taste)

2 tsp lemon zest

2 T lemon juice

1 T orange zest

1/4 C fresh orange juice

1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

pinch sea salt

1-2 C fresh mint, washed, leaves torn, (amount adjusted to taste)


  1. Toast hazelnuts on a small sheet pan in a 350F oven or toaster oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
  2. Heat blackberries in a medium saucepan on medium heat with 1/4 C water to prevent burning. Cook until completely defrosted. Add orange and lemon zests and let cool.
  3. After the hazelnuts have cooled, chop them by hand or quick pulse them two or three times in a food processor.
  4. In a large bowl, combine quartered strawberries, cooled blackberry zest mixture, chopped hazelnuts, honey, orange and lemon juices, salt, apple cider vinegar.
  5. Mix and taste. Adjust sweetness to taste.
  6. Place some mint at the bottom of serving bowls, top with compote and with more mint, or serve over desired dessert.

Makes about 6 cups.


  • Try an herbal honey or an herbal apple cider vinegar.
  • For herbal options think bright aromatics: lemon balm, other mints, thyme, lemon thyme, thai basil.
  • Try different berries or even other fruit like mango.
  • Try other nuts. Almonds and macadamia nuts are very versatile with sweet dishes.

Happy Solstice



Happy Solstice! The height of our solar year is a wonderful time to reflect on where we’ve been in the last six months. What seeds did you plant? Are you seeing new growth? Is it time to do some weeding? How can you align yourself (and realign and realign as many times as it takes) to your own truth as you feel it in your heart and gut and know it in your mind? What can you release now? What can you surrender to the waters?



Last weekend I had the pleasure to spend time with some waterfalls. Did you know that with waterfalls come spiders and butterflies? As I went up and down, hiking and viewing the falls from different angles, butterflies flew round enticing me to follow as I removed spiderwebs and the occasional spider from myself. After seeing most of the falls, I came to a spot where the butterflies congregated. I approached them to take a photo which turned into about a hundred photos. The first ninety or so were all blurry and I was ready to move on, but I squatted there longer mesmerized and the butterflies shared this message, “You have the power to change your vibration.” I watched and felt, I felt a shift, and then the butterflies continued their fluttering dance, and this time as the witness, I caught their moments of pause which turned blurry images crystal clear. What the butterflies said I knew already in my head, but being shown through experience is a gift I will not forget soon.


So what did the spider say? You can always weave a new web and tell a new story. Sometimes we get caught in own webs of false beliefs about who we are, what our purpose is, and who our community is. At this time with the solar high point, let the sun show you what webs you have woven. Where would you like to start again? Where are you satisfied, happy to await the next meal, the next challenge?


Where can you deepen your connection to the earth? Do you notice the creatures around you? Do you let yourself walk barefoot and feel the earth below?

IMG_7750What fruits are ripening? Will you remember to go back and harvest them? What sweet juicy delights await you? At this solstice time, align with the sun, gently, again and again, detaching from old stories, so that you can be the vessel connecting the above and the below, so that you can tell the story you came here to tell. All of our voices matter.

I invite you to take time especially now and within the next three days to celebrate your voice, your web, your journey, to notice where you’ve been, to dream where you’re headed, to be strengthened with courage to go where you haven’t been before, and to discover new friends along the way.  A simple way to bring this into a physical practice is to look up at the bright sun and give thanks for all the light that shines, illuminating your path. A little solstice song or dance or any kind of spontaneous creativity never goes awry either. May this turning of the year bring you peace and joy. Blessed be.



Love Brews



Heart Opening Blend

2 T hawthorn flower

1/4 C rose petals

1/4 C rosehips

4 C water


Relaxing Heart Blend

2 T lavender

1/2 C chamomile flowers

4 C water


Circulatory Heart Blend

2 T goji berries

4 cinnamon sticks

1 T dried ginger root or 2 inches fresh ginger, sliced thin

4 C water


Aphrodisiac Spicy Heart Blend

2 vanilla beans (already scraped) or 1/2 vanilla bean split open

2 T cardamom pods bruised with mortar and pestle

3 T anise seeds

4 C water



Put herbs in a glass jar.

Top with boiling water. Cover.

Let sit a minimum of 30 minutes up to 12 hours.

Strain. Compost your herbs.

Enjoy at room temperature, cool, or hot.

Add honey to sweeten if desired.




Dandelion Root Winter Cooking

When dandelion does her trick, it feels like looking out newly cleaned windows (thank you liver clearing eye supporting medicine). She makes space to let a little more light in. As her energy moves down we release what we no longer need and with each letting go we feel our roots in the earth. Dandelion guides this journey downward. In the fall we become tired watching the leaves fall and the ancient desire for sleeping and dreaming comes. Stepping into the dreaming dimension we have the opportunity to choose to return and journey back to the heart of the earth. Our pilgrimage to sleep in the roots of mother earth facilitates an important aspect of the creative cycle. Without the dark space to rest and receive, to dream and imagine, to feed and to fast, we cannot be balanced in our pursuit of creation.

With dandelion’s bitterness comes a pairing with sweet. The component inulin helps the body maintain a steady blood sugar. Autumn is a natural time to be consuming more sweet foods. Eating starchy fall vegetables here in North America helps prepare the body for colder days. Dandelion is a wonderful digestive stimulant. Dandelion root reduces liver heat and inflammation. It is a tonic for the liver, kidneys, spleen, and stomach. The root can be used for more potent conditions like helping the body recover through chemotherapy or kidney stones, for example, but integrated on a regular basis dandelion root can be a nutritive and gentle balancer, helpful to reduce breast swelling, reduce PMS, stabilize blood sugar, reduce skin eruptions, and heal kidney and urinary tract infections.

The seasonal mood shift into winter can cause a desire for sweets too. We are coming to an ending. We want to remember the sweetness of spring and summer, but ahead there is a big winter bridge. When there is a sense of resignation, dread of the cold, dandelion can bring lightness of spirit and reminders to hope for the spring. Dandelion is like a lion curled up in a cave, vibrating to its own breath at peace in the dark. Napping under the earth’s surface, we will be covered with snow, a purifying layer of frozen water, which will melt and rebirth us into the next phase, the next spring. And under the snow while we lay dreaming at the roots of mother earth, we will dream our next self into being. The birthing and dying will be bittersweet.

Dandelion clears the channel between the solar plexus and the root chakra so that we can journey in both directions- to the heart of mother earth and to joy and sunshine of our true selves. The root has a stronger pull toward the root chakra, and the flower to the solar plexus. It also flows along and clears the energy channels between the first and third chakras allowing a flow in both directions. Through all this clearing and motion, space is also created for levity. Dandelion may bring out a bawdy boldness or a liminal laughter.

In the spring when we emerge again into the sun and feel new life reaching to the sun, dandelion is also there shining her cheerful yellow medallions, little suns on the ground. Like a good lion dandelion basks in the sun, taking in pure joy. And like a good lion, dandelion roams and hunts, its prey ultimately a deep feeding. So when dandelion takes us on a roam and a hunt, we need to lighten up, letting go of what weighs heavy in order to find what will feed us best, letting go so we can take in a better resource. Dandelion as a diuretic releases excess water and supports the liver to remove its waste. Dandelion makes more space in the body to hold the light of the sun, vital energy.

In observing the relationship between dandelion, the seasons, and energetics, I was naturally drawn to pair bitter dandelion with sweeter foods. Dandelion root would also be wonderful in making a stock or broth, as a tea with honey, and the infusion could be substituted for water in many cases such as in cooking grains or added to cooked beans, greens, etc. Using herbs and their preparations in cooking allows us to infuse another layer of flavor and intention into our food. These dandelion experiments are a small beginning. I encourage you to experiment and share your favorite recipes. The possibilities are endless: dandelion fudge, dandelion pecan pie, dandelion braised chicken, and please don’t forget the dandelion wine. To get you started I made these dandelion recipes: dandelion decoction, dandelion quinoa risotto, dandelion sweet potatoes with lime yogurt, and dandelion maple custard. If you try them, let me know how they come out.



  • 2 cups dandelion root
  • 12 cups water


I typically do a 1:8 ration dandelion to water, but I want the decoction to be concentrated so I’m already taking that into account here. For an even stronger decoction, start with less water to dandelion root and follow the recipe from there.


Bring to a boil. Shut off heat. Let sit covered overnight. Strain and decoct to half the volume by letting the strained infusion steam at the lowest heat in a wide mouthed pot. It is helpful to mark the starting point or the goal point with a piece of tape on the outside of the pot so it’s easy to know the half volume goal has been reached.


Sweet Potatoes:


  • sweet potatoes, any variety, about 2 pounds scrubbed clean, cut into medium dice (If organic, peel if desired. I don’t peel them because I like the taste and texture of the skin. If using non-organic please DO PEEL).
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 cup dandelion decoction
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 T chili powder
  • optional spicier version: add some cayenne anywhere from a sprinkle up to 1/2 tsp.


Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place diced sweet potatoes in a 9×13 baking dish. Mix oil, decoction, salt, and chili. Pour over sweet potatoes and stir to mix. Bake for at least an hour, checking them every 10-15 minutes until they are very soft in the middle. You should be able to cut a sweet potato easily with a butter knife.

Lime Yogurt:


  • 1 1/2 cup organic whole plain yogurt (if you use Greek yogurt, the end product will be thicker and more protein rich but either is good)
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 T lime zest from 2-3 limes
  • 2 1/2 T lime juice


Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl and whisk until well mixed. Taste and adjust salt and lime to taste.

You can also cut the sweet potatoes into different shapes such as the slices shown below and see the difference in how the liquid absorbs.



This recipe was inspired by risotto, though using quinoa it will not have the same texture. For a texture more similar to arborio rice try using barley. When using barley the mixture may need to be stirred more and you may need to adjust the quantity of water so the barley cooks without sticking to the pot. The quinoa has less of a tendency to stick.


  • 2 T olive oil (or more to taste)
  • 1 large yellow onion, small diced
  • 3 large garlic cloves (or more to taste), minced
  • 2 cups dandelion infusion
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, chopped (I like to use the stem and the cap, removing the bottom of the stem and chopping the rest of the stem smaller because it is tougher.)
  • 3 cups mushrooms such as cremini, maitake, portobello, or other mushrooms
  • 3 1/2 cups quinoa
  • water as needed
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, about 1 cup, washed and chopped
  • optional: grated parmesan cheese (or another aged cheese) for garnishing


In a large heavy bottomed pot, saute onion in olive oil on medium low heat. When the onions are soft, add the minced garlic, dandelion infusion, vegetable stock, mushrooms, and quinoa. Stir. Bring to a boil, stir, and turn down heat to low. Cook for about 30 minutes until quinoa is soft, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with parsley and parmesan cheese if using.

dandy custard



  • 2 3/4 cups organic whole milk (or raw if you have it)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (any grade ok, I love grade B but grade A is more common)
  • 1 cup dandelion decoction
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs


In a large bowl, combine eggs, maple syrup, dandelion decoction, salt, and vanilla. In a small pot scald the milk (bring just to a boil and turn off immediately when the first boiling begins. You should be able to catch it before the milk boils so much that it foams up in the pot.) Temper the egg mix by adding the scalded milk in small amounts, approximately one or two tablespoons at a time until the egg mixture is warm and you have used about a third of the milk. Tempering prevents the curdling of the eggs and promotes a more consistent texture. After the egg mix is tempered, add the rest of the milk and whisk. Pour into 6 ramekins or an 8×8 glass pan. Set up a bain marie water bath by placing the ramekins or pan in a larger pan and filling the larger pan with water half way up the side of the pan or ramekins it holds.

Bake at 350 for 80 minutes. Remove from the oven. Remove from water bath (if it’s more convenient the custard can cool in the water bath for some time). After the custard cools to room temperature it can be covered and refrigerated. It tastes best after about 8 hours of refrigeration but will keep well for 3-5 days refrigerated.

Tofu Spices



At my cooking job what pleases is healthier takes on comfort food. For me there is no greater comfort than good Thai food with its exquisite playfulness of sweet, salty, pungent, sour, bitter, hot tastes. I love cooking Thai food because it’s great in hot and cold weather, is packed with flavor, and can be packed with veggies too. This dish, Tofu Spices, is dear to my heart. It recalls memories of friends gathered in Brooklyn, relaxing, sharing a varied Thai take out spread. Tofu spices was always on our menu and the place around the corner made it so well. I don’t know about your experience fellow New Yorkers, but I think as a city we’ve peaked on Thai food. Five and ten years ago Thai food was excellent and being cooked by Thai people. There are still some gems, but even places that were renowned years ago have not been able to keep the same standard, and I’m seeing fewer Thai people in those Thai kitchens. First Chinese food, then Thai, now what New York?  If I’m wrong and we have a new wave of Thai excellence, my heart and tongue will sing together. If not though, I feel even more inspired to cook Thai food myself. And that brings me back to Tofu Spices. I’m not sure why it’s called Tofu Spices when it is made with seitan instead of tofu, but after tasting this dish that inconsistency is easy to forgive. With a huge block of seitan in the freezer at work and unwilling to make yet another seitan chili, I was excited when I decided to give this one a go. To complement the Tofu Spices I made rice, Thai chicken with basil, and a vegetable red curry. But you could simplify and eat it on its own or with rice or another whole grain, or pair it with a salad. It’s great with crunchier lettuces like romaine or iceberg. I’ve only made it once so consider this a starting ground for your favorite adaptations. I didn’t want to wait to share it with you. Feel free to send me your suggestions.


Serves 6-8 as a main course. Feel free to halve the recipe to make side dish portions. 


  • 2.5 pounds seitan, broken up into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup virgin coconut oil    (I would try it with either a refined coconut oil or peanut oil, or an even mix of those two. The coconut flavor competed with the other flavors more than in the traditional dish, but from a health perspective I like coconut oil, and with peanut oil you can use a higher heat safely and scheive a crispier outside texture on the seitan.)
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 small-medium red onions, halved and sliced into half rings
  • 4 plum tomatoes, halved and sliced 1/4 -inch thick
  • Thai roasted red chili paste, 1 4 oz jar   (Yes, sometimes I take short-cuts. Had I had the time, I would have used a recipe like this one: For vegans and strict vegetarians, use one that substitutes mushrooms for the fish like this one:
  • 1 large mango, peeled, medium diced
  • 1 bunch cilantro, washed, and chopped coarsely
  • 3 large limes, juiced
  • 2 large oranges, juiced
  • tamari, generous amount
  • 1-2 carrots, grated for garnish, optional


  1. Get all of your ingredients ready.
  2. Heat the oil in a large cast iron pan or wok. Add seitan and garlic and fry on medium high heat until the seitan is crispy and darker in color on the outside.
  3. Turn the heat to low, add the chili paste, onions and tomatoes. Stir to mix, then turn off the heat.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients, adjusting tamari to taste.
  5. Serve warm over rice or cool to room temperature to pair with salad. Garnish with carrots if using.



All Souls, All Saints Gather Round the Yew

Happy All Souls Day and All Saints Day. As we pass through the veil of Samhain, we enter the Celtic new year, the beginning of winter, to the flowing waters of dreamtime. On a personal note, I can’t believe how fast this year as moved, how long it’s been since I’ve written a blog post. Some of you have asked me what is going on, why am I not writing? Isn’t that always the question? Why are we not sitting down to write or sitting down to do the things we WANT to do? It is so much easier much of the time to do the things we feel we should do. That is why I feel especially fortunate to have followed my passion to travel to Brazil and to Greece with friends and family. These journeys have been fun and formative and now that I’ve had time to integrate and have found more consistency in my daily work schedule, I look forward to writing more, so please stay tuned.

Today I am remembering a dear friend who made her passage this morning, and another dear friend who made his passage two years ago at this time. Both friends showed so much grace and bravery as they passed. As we move through this powerful shifting of the year, I am inspired by the Celtic tree calendar. November 1st begins the month of the yew tree, Taxus baccata, with the Irish yew, Taxus baccata ‘fastigiata’. The yew is an evergreen tree that lives for a long time, has strong wood, and is often found in graveyards and marking the boundaries of churches. Many of Ireland’s monastic sites have legends of yew trees having been important for choosing the sacred site or of the yew as a presence in the community on the grounds or graveyard. “At St. Columcille’s monastic site in Derry, was a ‘Yew of the Saints’ especially beloved by him where he used to chant the hours with his other saints and ‘ten hundred angels … , above our heads, side close to side.'”* Yet in the ancient Celtic lore, the yew was also associated with warriors, particularly female warriors. Yew wood makes excellent bows and spears. “The association of yew with the themes of churchyards, sanctuary and war links it with the goddess of the land who both protected her own, living and dead, and waged war on their enemies.”** Over time the yew also became associated with the land of Ireland, and personified as the Irish goddess warrior queen who protects all her citizens, living and dead. The war imagery here resonates not with violence for me but as a call to get clear about what I am willing to fight for with my heart. What is so important to your heart that it would send you into battle? What will you fight to protect? As we enter this turning of the year with Saints above our heads, lets hold the evergreen fire of the yew burning bright arrows of everlasting life, sending our thoughts to what we wish to grow with love, sending arrows of clarity of new beginnings, feeling winter waves wash over us, sending us deep into our dreams and clearing what is ready to be released. With the yew goddess I honor the heart courage of my friends’ passages and I honor the passages all of us continue to make as we learn and live. I offer the image below of an ancient Greek snake goddess (now located in the Museum at the Ancient Agora, Athens, Greece). These warrior snake goddesses are believed to have been worshipped for their connection with the earth and all her rhythms, and for renewal and healing. May her medicine accompany you on this All Souls Day and winter season. Blessed be. Amen. Aho.




*p. 138-9. Mac Coitir, Niall. Irish Trees: Myths, Legends, and Folklore. Cork: The Collins Press, 2003.

**p. 143. Mac Coitir, Niall. Irish Trees: Myths, Legends, and Folklore. Cork: The Collins Press, 2003.


Imbolc blessings


Bright Imbolc Blessings               johnduncanbride

The Coming of Bride (Brigid) by John Duncan

             Today, February 2, 2014, celebrates Imbolc, St. Brigid, and Iemanja goddess of the sea. Imbolc is a cross quarter day marking the turning of the seasonal wheel between winter solstice and spring equinox. Imbolc’s equivalent was celebrated among many ancient peoples but was particularly beloved in the Celtic tradition. Imbolc celebrates the return of the light. The darkest part of winter is over and the ceremonial first day of spring brings longer brighter days. Imbolc was appropriated into St. Brigid’s day in the conversion to Christianity.

               St. Brigid is the protector of fertility of the fields: sheep, goats, cattle, and of human mothers and thus represents abundance of food and milk. Saint Brigid is the white triple goddess, the cow goddess, goddess of midwives, animals, milk maids. She had the ability to restore life to the dead. One would pray to her for maladies of the eyes. Her name means “Fiery Arrow, Bright One, High One”. St. Brigid is keeper of an eternal flame, the flame that guides poets, healers, smiths. She protects all bodies of water and especially healing wells, where people would tie strips of cloth holding their prayers to the cloutie, or hawthorn, trees. The strips would be left to be cleansed by the winds and the energy of the healing wells. Hawthorn trees are also holders of fire and water magic, teaching us how to circulate our energies and passions so we sparkle safe in our boundaries, dancing from the heart.

               Connect to Brigid to engage your divinatory eyes to see what is is deep within your well and what you are ready to release. Where can Brigid help you access your transformative fire? Blacksmith what are you crafting? “Many traditional blessings invoke her in Irish (Brid agus Muire dhuit, Brigid and Mary be with you) and Welsh (Sanffried suynade ni undeith, St. Brigid bless us on our journey). A blessing over cattle in the Scottish isles goes: ‘The protection of God and Colmkille encompass your going and coming, and about you be the milkmaid of the smooth white palms, Brigid of the clustering, golden brown hair;'” ( Connect to Brigid as a guide as you travel moving on open paths.

                Iemanja is goddess of the sea, great mother, mover of obstacles, protector of children and fishermen. I had a dream once of going on a long journey and at the end I came to the ocean and at the shore there was one special wave. This wave contained many people of all ages of all emotions. As I walked around the wave I saw many lifetimes and all states of weather. There was snow and ice, clouds and sun. And though there was so much variety contained in the spectrum, I could feel the force of the ocean sparkling as if it all was encased in a sparkling light. All the parts felt small in comparison to this whole, this force saying it is going to be ok. So if you have been moving through deep transformation as so many of us have moving from the last two years in a cycle of water and introspection, then ask Iemanja to connect you to the flow of the great rhythm of the sea, of the life cycles, to help you move through challenges with the force of the waves tempered by the softness of the sea lapping to the shore. May you manifest now with a better understanding and conscious awareness of those watery patterns that sometimes move us unconsciously. May Iemanja’s sparkling force guide you as we enter the Chinese year of the Wood Horse, galloping into action.

             Celebrate by lighting a candle in honor of Brigid (and perhaps also eat some delicious cheese or dairy). Take a bath remembering Iemanja. Today is a good day to clean, to set your intention, to connect with the light of your inner flame by doing something that sparks your passion and creativity. May you be blessed this Imbolc with cleansing restorative waters, bright creative flames, and an abundance of fertile cosmic milk.


Happy Holiday Food

The holidays are here and it’s easy to slip into a diet that has a larger than average portion of foods like cheese, refined carbohydrates, sugar, and alcohol. As enjoyable as these foods can be in moderation, there are much better foods to give you the energy you need to sustain a season of celebration and good cheer. Here are some recipes that deliver taste and will feel good in your body so you can keep smiling all the way into 2014.




kalepesto carrots


This pesto is great in the winter when fresh basil is less readily available. You could also make it with dandelion greens or any other dark leafy greens. Substitute gluten-free pasta if you wish. Substitute different veggies too depending on what you have and what sounds good. I choose these veggies because this recipe was originally geared toward kids and the sweetness of the onion, carrot, and tomato softens the bitterness of the kale.

Serves 6-8 as a main course


2½ lbs. lacinato kale, stems removed (curly kale will work but it will be a lighter green)
4 cloves garlic
1 C extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
1 1/2 lb. dried farfalle
1½ C grated parmigiano-reggiano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 medium large yellow onions, small diced

4 large carrots, cut in 1/4 inch rounds on the bias

2 C cherry tomatoes, cut in half (or substitute diced canned tomatoes)

2 T dried basil

1 T dried oregano

optional dried chile flakes


1. Bring a pot of  water to a boil. Add kale and 2 cloves garlic; cook until bright green, 3–4 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.

2. Transfer kale and garlic, salt and the two raw cloves of garlic to a food processor; pulse to a purée. Pour in 3/4 cup of the oil while pulsing to form a pesto. You can add up to 1/4 C more oil if necessary to get the right consistency of pesto.

3. Once it is the right texture, i.e. thin enough to spread evenly on the pasta and vegetables, add in the grated parmesan. Mix and set aside.

4. In a large saucepan, heat 2 T olive oil. Add onions and saute on medium until onions are translucent. Add carrots, stirring occasionally until
carrots start to just soften and onions are getting brown on the edges. Add tomatoes and 2 T water. Cover 5 minutes until tomatoes are softened. Season with basil and oregano (and chile if using). Remove from the heat and transfer to a large bowl.
5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add farfalle; cook until al dente, 10 minutes. Drain. Put the pasta in the bowl with the cooked vegetables. Add 1/2 the pesto to start, adding more to taste. add pasta to bowl of pesto. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6. If you have leftover pesto, keep it for dipping crudites or spreading on crackers or sandwiches. It also freezes well stored in an airtight container.






I love this recipe. I make variations of it throughout the year. In the summer I use lemon and sunflower sprouts and skip the ginger. This version has more warming and digestive spices. I always recommend soaking dried chickpeas in bulk, then cooking up a big batch and freezing them in smaller portions. I do this with all my beans so I have the convenience of canned with the taste of dried beans. Add some kombu when you’re cooking the beans and it will make them more digestible and less gassy. This hearty salad keeps well and is best eaten in 3- 5 days.


5 C grated carrots

5 C cooked chickpeas

1 1/2 C parsley chopped


2 T lemon juice

1 whole lemon, outer peel cut off, keeping some white on

1 apple, peeled and cored, cut into 8

1 C tahini

2 inches fresh ginger, washed and cut into smaller pieces

1 T sea salt

2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp whole cumin seed

2T olive oil



1. In a large bowl, combine grated carrots and cooked chickpeas. Keep parsley aside for now.

2. In a blender, combine all the ingredients for the dressing. Blend until smooth.

3. Pour dressing over chickpeas and carrots. Mix. Add parsley. Adjust seasoning to taste.





CHAI 2013

Every year I make a chai recipe and drink it regularly for a few weeks. It helps me adjust to the change of seasons and I get the benefit of all those warming spices. This is caffeinated so depending on your sensitivity to caffeine, you may want to use a less robust black tea. The stronger black tea works well in flavor with all of the spices.


10 bags PG Tips black tea
10 whole cardamom pods
4 cinnamon sticks
1/4 of a whole nutmeg
2 star anise
1/4 C whole cloves
2 tsp whole peppercorns
3 inches fresh ginger root, sliced
3 quarts water
6 C almond milk (any kind of milk will work. I like almond milk because it tastes neutral and I have not wanted dairy. Regular dairy milk

will   make a richer chai).
1/2 C honey or more to taste


1. In a 4 quart saucepan, combine water, tea, and spices. Bring to a boil, immediately turn heat to low and simmer 1 hour.

2. Add almond milk and honey.

3. I like to strain it as I serve so I can keep the spices infusing longer, but you can strain it at any time. Strain and store refrigerated. Keeps up to 1 week.


  May you be bursting with energy this holiday season

and be well nourished from head to toe.




Celebrate Winter with Self Care

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Celebrate Winter with Self Care

Winter invites us to the underworld. In this time, we have have two tendencies: to seek comfort finding an ally in the darkness, and to tend our inner flame – holding space for the light and warmth of the sun.

There are many ways to recognize the season’s unique opportunities through self care, including meditation and awareness of the solar and lunar cycles, cooking with nutrient dense food, herbs, and spices, or simply savoring a cup of tea!

The clocks have been turned back. As the sun sets earlier and earlier at this time of year, more darkness surrounds us and the colder weather contracts us inward. We go to the cave of our animal nature seeking warmth and comfort.

In this cave, darkness is not the darkness of negativity, despair, gloominess, or obscurity. It’s a more ancient darkness: the darkness of rich soil, the darkness which allows space for creativity and regeneration. Only with the contrast of darkness can we experience the shine of the moon, the force of that feminine power, moving the tides of the earth and the tides of our bodies.

Time of the Bear
Autumn and early winter is the time of the bear. It is time to come into the cave, to find comfort
at home, to enter the dreamtime. This is the time of releasing that allows us to plant new seeds
that will sprout when the wheel of the seasons turns again. With the trees releasing their leaves
there is an opportunity to release back to the earth whatever is no longer needed: emotions,
relationships, intentions, patterns in the mind or in behavior.  With so much release and with the
comfort of warmth fading outside, it is the perfect time to create comfort at home. What better
way to find comfort at home than to make time for self-care, whether that be through cooking, a
bath, or a cup of tea, or whatever you choose?

I invite you to choose one activity to incorporate into your life for one moon cycle (new moon to the next new moon). This activity should be something you do daily or weekly that sparks joy and pleasure instead of something that is tinged with a sense of ought or should. If it does not happen as planned, know that you are holding space for it to happen, gently bringing yourself back to your intention. Release any judgement, and envision the intention fulfilled. This process will make it easier to manifest the fulfillment of the intention.

Tending the Inner Fame
As the sun changes its angle and the days grow shorter and colder, I envision taking the warmth
of the sun and feeding it to my internal flame. Imagine your own internal flame. Is it bright?
Were you already aware of it? What feeds it? Do you take time to feed it? Does it jump around?
Is it steady? Is it playful? Where do you feel it in your body?

This internal flame is another way of seeing the energy body. Do you see it starting at one chakra and ending at another? Does it circulate through your whole body? You are a keeper of this flame all the time, and especially
until the next spring when more of that energy can be manifested externally in new life and new
growth. (Keeping an awareness of this inner flame can be extremely helpful for those affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder.)

Ways to keep your flame bright in the winter are doing a candle gazing meditation, gazing at the sun (with eyes closed), getting outside and letting the sunlight hit your bare skin to absorb vitamin D, and to supplement with vitamin D (I prefer liquid drops).

I also work with hawthorn, white pine, and linden for supporting the inner flame, particularly on an energetic level.

Warm Up in the Kitchen
There are many many herbs and spices that can be used in food or in tea that can support us in
the winter. Most of what becomes problematic in the winter comes from too much stagnant
energy, and often this is connected with kapha energy in Ayurveda: cold, wet, slow moving, or
vata energy: dry, windy, scattered.

To find balance one should incorporate plenty of moistening and warming elements. Drink warm liquids. Eat soups and cooked food. Incorporate lots of warming spices like ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg, black pepper, turmeric. Add spices to your breakfast: cinnamon and ginger and any of the sweeter spices are delicious on oatmeal or yogurt. Cinnamon is warming, supports blood sugar balance, is anti-fungal, anti-
bacterial, and eases muscle spasms.  Consistently using more spices in your diet can strengthen your whole system, and spices taste and feel good. Plus they are inexpensive, especially when bought in bulk, and are easily accessible.

It is also helpful to look at supporting movement in different bodily systems. We clear through the breath, through the skin, through the liver, through the digestive tract, and the circulatory system, helping move everything along the way.

There are many herbs and spices we could look at in detail that can help keep the body moving through one or more of these organs or systems. To pick one plant, let’s look at ginger. Ginger, Zingiber officinale, is warming, a circulatory tonic, immune stimulating, an expectorant (removing mucous from the respiratory system). It reduces
both vata and kapha, is a diaphoretic (opens the pores and promotes sweating to clear through the skin), and supports the digestive system.


Ginger Juice

Ginger juice is wonderful to have on hand to add to tea, to soups, or to mix with soda water for an unsweetened ginger ale. I call it juice but it’s really ginger root blended with water. It’s best used within one week but it will keep for about 2 weeks if not longer.

Ginger Juice Recipe:
3 inches fresh ginger root (if it is organic and washed well you do not need to peel it)
2-3 C water (start with 2C and add more water if necessary to blend. This can vary depending on blender horsepower.)
Wash organic ginger root. Cut ginger into 1/2 inch pieces. Put ginger and water in the blender. Blend until smooth. There will be a little bit of pulp left in the liquid. Store refrigerated. If the ginger separates and there’s white sediment on the bottom, stir or shake that back in to get the most benefit.

Spicy Warming Tea Recipe:

Try this tea with ginger for extra warming or without ginger for a more delicate spice.
1/4 C (or more to taste) grated ginger root
6 cinnamon sticks
25 cloves
3 T anise seed
1/2 tsp mace pieces (1/4 tsp powdered, and you can substitute nutmeg. Nutmeg is from the same
plant as mace and is a little sweeter than mace.)
8 C boiling water
honey, to taste, optional
Put spices in a half gallon jar or saucepan. Add boiling water almost to the very top. After 5
minutes, add honey to dissolve, top up with water. Let sit 4-12 hours for medicinal value or at
least 30 minutes for flavor. Strain out spices and enjoy!

May you stay bright and warm this season!