Nourishing Vegetable Broth

nourishing broth

I came up with this nutrient and mineral rich veg broth as a viable alternative to bone broth. I have been challenged with IBS symptoms for as long as I can remember, and have done extensive research into gut healing protocols as a result. One of the main recommendations I have found is the consumption of bone broth. After 5 years of following a plant based diet this is not something I could wrap my head around, although I must admit I seriously considered it out of desperation during a particularly challenging bout of digestive distress.

In the end I decided to come up with a vegetable based alternative that would provide me with at least some of the benefits of bone broth while still adhering to the way I choose to eat at this point in my life. I am not saying that this broth includes all of the gut healing benefits of bone broth – but I do feel it is a viable alternative. I have started studying the benefits of tonic herbs through David Wolfe, Josh Gitalis, Meghan Telpner, Learning Herbs, and an Herbal Apprenticeship program I started this fall. In my understanding,  tonic herbs are nourishing herbs safe to use consistently, over prolonged periods of time. This includes the wonderful world of medicinal mushrooms!

Some of the key players that set this apart from your average veg broth:

Turmeric has anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic and anti-cancer effects brought on by its active component of curcumin, which gives it a bright yellow colour. Turmeric also provides digestive and liver support, assists with normalizing cholesterol levels, helps boost the immune system, helps with join pain by helping to support the muscoloskelatal system, and has also been said  to assist in the prevention of Alzheimer’s.

Ginger decreases nausea and soothes the digestive tract. It improves circulation, is antibacterial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, immune boosting and in high doses it is anti-inflammatory.

Garlic functions as a naturally occurring antibiotic. It helps to lower blood pressure, is anti-viral, antiseptic, anti- fungal, and helps boost the immune system.

Burdock is a wonderful grounding root vegetable that strengthens the immune system, assists with appetite and digestion, is cleansing for the blood, aids liver and kidney function, and acts as a diuretic.

Horsetail is a great source of silica, which strengthens hair, skin and nails. Horsetail also has the potential to assists with urinary tract infections, boost bone strength and healing, and improve dry skin conditions.

Oatstraw is very high in silicon, calcium,  and other bone building minerals. It strengthens the nervous and endocrine systems, and helps calm the mind and body.

Nettle helps with seasonal allergies, is very high in calcium and iron, is astringent, diuretic, works as a circulatory stimulant, and is said to help lower blood sugar levels.

Pau D’arco is anti-fungal, effective against candida, yeast infections and skin fungus and is used to treat cancer.

14 Mushroom Blend by Harmonic Arts is one of my favourite blends, it contains an extensive blend of medicinal mushrooms with anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-cancer and immune boosting properties.

Vitamineral Earth, by HealthForce, is a wonderful, nourishing superfood blend that I love to include in all of my stocks, stews, chilies etc.

Sea Vegetable Blend by Harmonic Arts is high in minerals, vitamins and iodine. Sea vegetables are a wonderful staple to include in your diet.

To learn more about Tonic Herbs, you can explore The Boreal Herbal, World’s Healthiest Foods, David Wolfe’s Nutrition Certification and John Gallagher’s amazing Herb Mentor website.

Without further ado, here is the recipe:

Nourishing Vegetable Broth

Ingredients:

I head garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
2″ piece ginger, roughly chopped
3 1″ pieces turmeric, roughly chopped
2 stalks organic celery
5 small organic carrots
3 organic broccoli stalks
2 cups mixed mushrooms
1.5 cup dried shiitake mushrooms
I head kale
Handful carrot stems
5″ piece burdock, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
1 garlic scape
I bunch cilantro
1/4 cup oat straw
1/4 cup horsetail
1/4 cup nettle
1/4 cup pau D’arco
3 Tbsp sea vegetable blend
3 tbsp vitamineral earth
3 Tbsp 14 mushroom blend
1 Tbsp Himalayan or sea salt
Fresh cracked pepper

Stovetop Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot, and cover with 16-20 cups of filtered water.
Bring to a boil, then lower heat and let simmer for 1.5 – 2 hours. You can also let this cook in a slow cooker on low for the same amount of time.
Strain the broth and use immediately, or store in a mason jar in the fridge or freezer for later use (be sure to leave a couple of inches at the top of the jar to allow for expansion when freezing!)

Pressure Cooker Instructions:

Combine all ingredients in your pressure cooker and add 16 cups of filtered water.
Bring to high pressure and set timer for 20 minutes (it can be done in 10, but I prefer a longer cook time to allow for maximum benefit from herbs etc.)
Strain and store as indicated above.

Have you explored the wonderful world of tonic herbalism? What are some of your favourite staples?

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Live Like You Were Dying

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Last week was very challenging, as I needed to go into my doctor’s office to follow up on some test results. I had to do a lot of work to offset the fear and anxiety I was experiencing, (thank goodness for EFT and meditation!) as being called in to review results is never a warm and fuzzy experience. My fears were compounded by the fact that I have a family history of reproductive cancers with both of my grandmothers. I am grateful to report that everything turned out ok, but the experience was very intense and got me thinking about a lot of things.

In the days leading up to my appointment, I made the conscious decision to dwell (as much as possible) in a place of hope and acceptance rather than fear and limitation. I fully recognize that time is a precious commodity, there are no guarantees. I could get hit by a bus tomorrow, and be none the wiser. An advance diagnosis is a gift in some respects, because it brings you the consciousness to be able to accept the limitations of your experience and truly embrace every second you have. As human beings we are here for a limited time, however the vast majority of us pretend this isn’t the case. While a health diagnosis is scary as hell it is not a predictor of time or quality of life. You can have all the time in the world and never truly live. I will say that over the last week I was more present, aware and grateful than I have been for a very long time. My challenge will be to maintain this going forward. I suspect the best approach is to engage with the present as much as I can, to focus on and express gratitude for the multitude of blessings in my life, and to recognize that all of this is fleeting. I hope that constant acknowledgement of the transient nature of life will give me the awareness to treasure every moment.

I honestly believe that difficult experiences are a gift in that they give me an opportunity for growth. These challenges are here to teach me a lesson and allow me to move forward from a place of deeper understanding and acceptance. This can be a form of liberation, if I let it. I also fully recognized how important it is to make the most out of every second spent with the people I love. Does this mean I will never get frustrated or short with my kids? Of course not, I am only human and learning to accept my limitations is a huge part of this process. One of my personal mantras is Be Here Now – the past is done, it only has relevance in so far as I hold on to experiences that create limitations or fail to serve me in the present. The future hasn’t happened yet, I have no idea what the outcome will be so why choose to dwell in a place of fear? In truth this present moment is all we really have.

I reflected on the fact that every time I get worn down and burnt out I tend to have issues in the same area of my body. Perhaps energetically it is a second chakra issue, not expressing myself enough creatively, not practicing enough self love, or issues around finances and needing to work through limitations around lack of abundance. Or perhaps it is a genetic weak point, that gets triggered when I don’t take care of myself properly. I have been listening to a lot of talks on epigenetics, genetic markers or weak points that can be turned on – or not – based on lifestyle habits. It could also be psychologically or emotionally centred; perhaps it comes down to a deeply rooted lack of connection or affection for that part of my body. Regardless of the root cause (all, one, or none of the above) these questions really got me thinking about the necessity of loving those dark, hidden parts of myself, the ones that cause me shame or discomfort.

I am constantly amazed at the gift of receiving exactly what I need when I need it most. I listened to a fabulous talk by Dr Paul Epstein, ND last week, discussing the necessity to get to the root cause of disease and learn to love the parts of us that need support and healing. There is something so beautiful in having the courage and conviction to face up to what scares us most, to uncover our personal traumas and identify the tools needed to give ourselves the healing we so desperately need:

“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.” Rilke

The people in our lives do the best they can, but like everyone else they are human and every human being on the planet has limitations, areas they are working on. Perhaps you had a perfect childhood, with perfect parents and wonderful interactions with everyone you encountered. I am not sure that actually exists as we are all complex human beings, but if you did that is beautiful, cherish it. If like the majority of the population that didn’t happen, the knowledge that you are infinitely powerful in your capacity to now heal yourself, to give yourself exactly what you always needed and wanted is incredibly powerful.

I speak from experience when I say that it can (and most likely will be) be an incredibly painful experience. Facing up to fear and trauma and all of the things you feel would be best left in the dark is not for the faint of heart. I have not reached the other side of this process and have a lot of work left to do. But I can honestly say the process of doing this work is a game changer. Instead of hanging on to fear, lack and trauma, the process of facing it, accepting it, and showering it with all of the love and compassion I have will go a long way towards letting go and moving on with my life. I believe it is necessary to accept the dark, hidden parts of myself if I want to dwell in the light. Until I uncover and work to resolve the condition that created disease in the first place there is no way I will be able to fully heal myself. The form of disease (or imbalance) my lifestyle and belief patterns created will keep recurring until I work to resolve the root cause.

I have found some invaluable tools in my quest to better understand and work through my personal limitations. Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly have helped me face up to my perfectionist tendencies, and the ways in which courage can be a form of personal emancipation. Her TedTalks on shame and vulnerability were incredibly illuminating for me. Dr Lissa Rankin’s The Fear Cure helped me explore the ways in which fear has ruled my life and decision making processes. Caroline Myss’ Anatomy of the Spirit continues to blow my mind each and every time I read it, making me painfully aware of my attachment to woundology, and holding onto past trauma. Lastly, Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times was a beautiful reflection on staying mindful and present in the face of the inherently transient, ever changing nature of life.

Have you had a health crisis in the past, and what did you take away from your experience? How did it shift your perspective? What tools have you found to help carry a sense of presence, awareness and gratitude forward after life returns to normal?