Apr 22, 2010

Dandelions, One of the Joys of Spring

Yesterday was a beautiful spring day. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, there was a light breeze, well almost. Being in Wyoming the light breeze was more like a mild storm. It was so windy the little ones had a hard time walking upright. Still, it was a lovely day and we decided to enjoy the warmer weather by taking a walk. The kids were so excited when they saw the fields full of dandelions. They preceded to run around like crazy, picking bouquets of flowers and presenting them to me with huge, happy grins. Good thing I like dandelions better than roses, huh!

I remember one of my younger brothers running across the yard with a fist full of dandelions held behind his back. He found mom and proudly  presented her with a handful of...... stems. He had picked dandelions that had already gone to seed and as he ran around looking for mom, all the fluffy white seeds had flown away. The look of shock on his sweet little face when he stood there wondering what had happened to his pretty  flowers was precious. Mom very graciously thanked him for his gift, while I quickly snapped a picture. We all waited till he left the room to have a good laugh at his expense.

While children love dandelions, most adults spend a great deal of time and money trying to rid their yards of them. If they only knew! Dandelions are very nutritious, containing many vitamins including vitamin A, B complex, vitamin C, and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium, calcium and zinc. They can make a tasty addition to salads or sandwiches, and can also be steamed and eaten like spinach. Dandelion root can be dried and used to make a coffee like substitute and the flowers are used to make wine. Make sure to pick the young leaves, since the older ones are bitter. Always be careful to pick dandelions in an area that you are sure hasn't been sprayed with weed killer or other pesticides.

Dandelion leaf tea stimulates  the release of bile from the liver into the gallbladder, making it easier to digest fat. It is also cleansing to the liver and can help to improve skin problems. Dandelion is a diuretic but since it also contains potassium it doesn't deplete your body as most medical diuretics would. Dandelion is used to treat indigestion and can be mixed with peppermint or ginger if bloating is a problem. It can also be used to help dissolve uric acid kidney stones. Dandelion is safe, although since it's a diuretic, large dosed should be used with caution during pregnancy.

Tea is the easiest way to get the medical benefits from dandelion. Teas are best made from dried herbs. When herbs are dried the plant cells are broken making the beneficial parts more permeable to water. To make dandelion tea heat one cup water to a boil, add 2-3 teaspoons dried herb, cover and let steep for at least fifteen minutes. Strain and sweeten if desired.

Here's a few fun recipes that use fresh dandelions.

You can buy dried dandelion, ginger and peppermint here.

Nature's Way - Dandelion Root, 540 mg, 100 capsules


Apr 17, 2010

Mac and Cheese

One of our family traditions is letting the birthday child choose a special meal for the day. My son is turning six (already?!) and requested macaroni and cheese for his birthday dinner. What kid doesn't love macaroni and cheese?! He also requested a very complicated, three layer, vanilla and chocolate cake, decorated with special colors and designs. Sadly I had to tell him I'm not a cake decorator but thankfully Betty Crocker makes a gluten-free white cake mix that's super easy!

I can at least make the mac and cheese he requested though. I first had this recipe when I was a teenager, baby sitting for a friend of the family. I loved how easy and tasty her recipe was. My kids have always enjoyed it, and it easily becomes gluten-free by using rice noodles and a gluten-free sour cream and cottage cheese. Both sour cream and cottage cheese can contain gluten but Daisy according to their web site is safe.

Mac and Cheese

Mix together
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup cottage cheese
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
3/4 t salt
1 egg
4 cups cooked rice  noodles (about two cups uncooked)

Mix above ingredients  and bake in  a 9x13 pan at 350 for 35 minutes. Yummy!

Sometimes I make huge batches and freeze in 9x13 pans. I pop them in the oven still frozen and bake about 1 1/2 hrs or until set.

Apr 7, 2010

Basil Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken and Dumplings is a comfort food to me. It was one of my favorite meals growing up. I've tried several gluten-free recipes but none of them tasted like mom's. Now that I'm starting to get the hang of gluten-free baking, I decided to dig out mom's old recipe and try to convert it. Here's the results. Hope you enjoy my mama's Chicken and Dumplings, gluten-free version.

Basil Chicken and Dumplings

Dumpling  Stew

1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 t minced garlic
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup  arrowroot powder
1 t salt
1 t dried basil
4 cups chicken broth ( This recipe uses homemade broth. If you use canned broth adjust the salt in the stew since store bought broth is very salty)
2 cup frozen peas
2 cups sliced carrots
4 cups cooked chicken

Saute onion, celery and garlic till tender.

Add arrowroot powder, salt, basil, carrots and broth. Cook till thick and the carrots are tender.

Add peas and cook five minutes. Stir in chicken. Divide stew between  a 9x13  and a 9x9 pan.


Mix together
3/4 cup rice flour
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthum gum
2 teaspoons dried basil

Cut into the dry mix 3 tablespoons butter

Add and stir just until mixed

1 tablespoon vinegar
1 cup water or rice milk

Drop dumpling by  tablespoons onto gravy. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.

 I like to serve these with fresh, homemade applesauce and a garden salad. Enjoy!

Mar 30, 2010

Herbal Medicine Trends and Traditions


I received this book for my birthday and am really enjoying it. Trends and Traditions is very in-depth and covers the uses for over one hundred herbs. It includes instructions on  wildcrafting, preparations, dosage and cautions. The section on tinctures, salves, teas, ointments, syrups, etc is extremely thorough and covers methods not taught in my other herb books. It explains how and why the hebs work rather than just a list of herbs to use for different ailments. There is a section in the middle with color pictures for identifying herbs. The book is very well laid out and organized, making it easy to find the information you need. In my opinion it is very reasonably  priced for the vast information it contains!
Herbal Medicine: Trends and Traditions (A Comprehensive Sourcebook on the Preparation and Use of Medicinal Plants)


Mar 29, 2010

Coconut Honey Lip Balm

For an easy, creative project try making your own lip balm. It's fun to experiment with different oils, scents and tastes. The recipe that follows is very basic and makes a firm lip balm. If you prefer a softer balm try adding oils like almond or avocado. Caster oil can be added to make shiny lip gloss. If you want a tinted lip gloss add a little of your favorite lipstick for color. Essential oils like peppermint or lavender can be added for taste and scent. This makes a fun project for the the kids to join in with.

Coconut Honey Lip Balm

Melt together on low

2 tablespoons beeswax
1 tablespoon coconut oil

Add and mix well

 1 teaspoon honey

Pour into containers and let cool.

The Complete Guide to Creating Oils, Soaps, Creams, and Herbal Gels for Your Mind and Body: 101 Natural Body Care Recipes (Back-To-Basics)

Natural Beauty at Home, : More Than 250 Easy to Use Recipes for Body,Bath, and Hair (Revised Edition)

Organic Body Care Recipes: 175 Homeade Herbal Formulas for Glowing Skin & a Vibrant Self