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Articles in Category: Herbs and Plants

On Returning to Wild Places; On Monarda

interrogating the words to understand the experience

On Returning to Wild Places; On Monarda

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.” John Muir.

To return is to go back to a former position, to turn and change direction, go back the way you came. So, a homecoming, Penelope at the end of the Odyssey. But you can speak of returning to a place as soon as the second time you go there, and every time after that. Every time you change direction, go back the way you went that first time, you consolidate that sense of the new place as a place of origin.

Resort is a place you go out to (sortie) again and again. And so I keep resorting to the spring at the top of Mount Lemmon--back there, again there. I keep returning, transforming a resort into a source and base.

Greens as Fat-Delivery System--Pesto!

what it is, how to make it, and what to eat it with

Greens as Fat-Delivery System--Pesto!

In my last post, I talked about how the most nutrient-dense, high-antioxidant vegetables (i.e. the vegetables closest to their wild/weedy/herbal state) tend to be the lowest in carbohydrate, and most of their carbohydrate is fiber. I suggested this makes them ideal ketogenic diet foods for many people, partly because they are great fat-delivery vehicles.

I added,

"I mean that both from the culinary perspective, in that oily dressings or sauces combine beautifully with vegetables, and from the nutritional perspective, in that many of the micronutrients in vegetables are fat-soluble (notably vitamins A and K1 and the carotenoid antioxidants), while the vegetables themselves aid in the breakdown of fat (the acid in sour vegetables helps to emulsify the fat; bitter compounds in vegetables prepare the liver to break the fat down into its constituent parts)."

So--pesto! A perfectly ketogenic application of herby vegetables combined with the well-structured oils that form the basis of our body’s fuel.

Herbs as Vegetables, and a little on Oxidative Stress

Part 2

Herbs as Vegetables, and a little on Oxidative Stress

This is part 2 of a discussion of ketogenic diets, antioxidants, and why herbal infusions and herbs in general are a wonderful thing to incorporate.

Going back to the two reasons we don’t need to be too concerned about missing out on antioxidants through minimizing carbohydrate intake:

1 Some of the lowest-carbohydrate vegetables are also some of the best sources of antioxidants. In other words, the best carb choices on this limited-carb program will also tend to maximize antioxidant consumption.
2 When a metabolism is running on free fatty acids/ketones instead of glucose, the process by which mitochondria convert these into ATP for cellular fuel appears to involve less oxidative stress, thus reducing our overall need for antioxidants (although today’s levels of toxin exposure means we’re still wise to get plenty, although “antioxidants” might not be the best way to think about it, see below).

Going Out To the Back of Beyond

An Interlude (sort of)

Going Out To the Back of Beyond

My “monastic cell” abode is a little cement box. As a friend put it, “the Tucson broiler is now on.” 100+-degree days for over a month and to be continued through perhaps October, with occasional monsoon reprieves. I don’t turn my cooler on during the day, and it’s not a very effective cooler anyway. Even with blackout curtains on the windows, it’s often in the 90s in my home. Outside, suburbia stretches its grid, curvaceous and eccentric and still a grid. I walk. I miss the easy reach of the Rillito wash I had from my old place, a small strip of wildness and growth to walk to and poke around almost every day.
I lift up mine eyes unto the hills.

This sprawl of city is surrounded by mountains--the Catalinas, the Rincons, the Tucsons, the Santa Ritas. If you drive up to the 9000ft summit of Mount Lemmon, you pass through the range of bioregions you would traverse between Mexico and Canada--all that latitude compressed into contours. There’s even a spring at the top.

And finally, I head for the hills.
This post is not about ketogenic matters, except in a way it is.

Herbs--Great Support for a Ketogenic Diet

1. Nourishing Herbal/Long Infusions

Herbs--Great Support for a Ketogenic Diet

5% carbohydrate, what we’re aiming for with the therapeutic ketogenic diet, is such a low percentage, some people find it hard to wrap their minds around. Compared to standard diets since the birth of agriculture, it’s a drastic intervention to say the least. But if minimizing carbs promotes brain calm, what’s the tradeoff? Some people raise the concern that carbohydrates, particularly fruits and vegetables, are prime sources of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and as-yet unidentified cofactors crucial to nutrient absorption, and that we may not get enough of those..

In this post, I’m going to mention two big reasons why this concern is less serious than it might first appear (and these deserve a whole post of their own, coming up next). Nearer and dearer to my heart as an herbalist, I also share how you can utilize herbs in the form of infusions and teas to get those same antioxidants and micronutrients without adding carbohydrate calories.

Indeed, infusions prepared by long steeping of nutritive herbs are the antithesis of empty calories--they contain no calories, and they are full of highly absorbable nutrition.

Monarda and Movement

plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

Monarda and Movement

^I think I've used that phrase as subtitle once before. Which makes it QED.

So much to write about! I promised monarda, so let's start there. Actually, monarda is a perfect place to start, for as Michael Cottingham put it so succinctly, "monarda is movement."

I'm moving. Again. And yet feeling some stickiness on certain levels too, and currently in the entropic state where objects waiting to be packed seem to multiply and magnify. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Seed, Pod, Strings, and All

metaphoring on the cardamom

Seed, Pod, Strings, and All

Cardamom, elettaria cardamomum, ginger family, we call it "hel" in Hebrew. "Hel" like "helwa"--sweet and beautiful and often cardamom flavored?

Carminative, aromatic, parochial and powerful, possessing an odor that, as a child,  I was convinced came from heaven and thus defined heaven. I had an old one-ounce unguent jar among my toys, and it was a jar of cardamom smell. I don't know how it came to have and hold that smell, and I didn't have the name "cardamom" yet, only "hel," but I knew it was heaven.

The way to heaven is through the nose, the nostrils are needle's eyes, which is why camels are called stinky and camel milk is the next best thing for humans to mother's milk.

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