Seasonal Nourishment: A Curation of Autumn Inspiration

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

From top left clockwise: Meg Thompson’s Chamomile infused quinoa porridge.  Shanna Mallon’s vanilla and maple almond butter.  Portland Apothecary’s dandelion & astragalus chai.  Danielle Charles's dosas with kale and tahini sauce.  Sylvia Fountain’s kale, chicken, chickpea soup with rosemary croutons.  

When the days get full and busy, and the hours apparently disappear, the words of a favourite poem always have their resounding effect:“go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence” (Max Ehrmann's Desiderata).  

I feel that a big part of striving to live a holistic lifestyle is knowing what gives you peace; that activity you can simply do that brings you out of your head, and connects you with yourself.  Without such an anchor, the busy-ness can become more than overwhelming.  Cooking provides the feeling of still and silence for me.  It is a remedy for many things; relaxation, nourishment, connection (not to mention the best aperitif there is) yet the entire act is too often overlooked and seen itself as "a stress” by many.

I’ve been pondering this as I’ve been spending more time brewing and cooking as autumn brings her cooler and rainier days.  It’s also such a common theme many clients talk about...simply not being inspired to cook, or knowing what to cook.  So I thought for today I would share what has been inspiring me.

I love the flavours of autumn; the soft richness of nuts, the caramely flavours of maple, the last of the stone fruit and the beginning of citrus.  Transitioning from the light floral teas of summer to the more earthy, spicy and smooth infusions is well welcomed.  So today is a curation of some inspiring autumnal nourishment that are all easy and quick to throw together.

Danielle Charles’s Dosas with Kale & Tahini Sauce

Dosas with kale and tahini sauce

The cavelo nero is looking mighty handsome at the markets at the moment, and this is such a fun way to use it.  Danielle has created a very rustic, homely and green interpretation of the masala dosas I came to love so well in India.  I played around with her recipe and also added swiss brown mushrooms (at the beginning with the onions and garlic) and a good pinch of Kashmiri chilli for that Indian “bite”.

Sylvia Fountaine’s Kale, Chickpea and Chicken Soup with Rosemary Croutons

Sylvia Fountaine of Feasting at Home blog’s kale, chicken, chickpea and rosemary crouton soup

This bowl of delicious will take you literally 15 minutes to throw together.  The smell of garlic and rosemary wafting through the house when making the croutons and the deep flavours of the chicken broth (next to making your own, buy the best quality you can get your hands on - some good quality butchers make their own) will have you feeling very satisfied.   I’m just loving Sylvia’s flavour layered food.

Meg Thompson’s Chamomile and Spice Infused Quinoa Porridge 

From Meg Thompson’s “My Wholefood Romance"

This one is from a fellow Melbournite and naturopath to boot (and wholefood creatrix).  Meg’s warm breakfast is simply delicious, and brings in a hint of the last of summer’s fruit.  A combination of the easily digestible quinoa, with the stomach soothing chamomile and spices plus probiotic teaming natural yogurt makes this quite the medicinal way to begin the day.  A just to look at it is visually medicinal too!

Portland Apothecary’s Chai with Roasted Dandelion, Astragalus and Burdock 

Portland Apothecary

This blend combines some of my favourite flavours together; earthy, slightly sweet and aromatic.  I have a Portland Apothecary inspired blend sitting on my desk at the moment.  A perfect inclusion into the day that gives the immune system a nurturing lift, which is much needed as the colds and flus start rearing their heads.  Highly, highly recommended! Especially for those that have a history of catching everything that’s going around.

Shanna Mallon’s Vanilla Maple Almond Butter

From Shanna Mallon’s “Food Loves Writing"

I can’t quite believe I’ve never thought to do this before.  Thank you Shanna!  Three of my favourite flavours all rolled into one.  No need to change anything with this recipe.  Just follow the two simple steps of soak + blend, and you will have yourself a wonderful afternoon treat or interesting breakfast twist (or you’ll probably just want to eat it off the spoon).  Particularly good with chopped slices of pear or fig and a cup of the above spicy tea.

I hope these get you as excited by autumn’s flavours as they have for me!

Autumnal Buzz

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

I don’t think I will ever tire of the word ‘autumnal’, nor the changes that it slowly brings.  The sun makes that very subtle tick over on its axis, and the light takes on a new quality that offers far more respite than its enthusiastic summer rays.  Within the slow change, there’s been lots of fast changes going on.  A true buzz.

There has been weaving all the final elements of my small business plan together, fueled by the heartening vibes of 2Pocket and their rose moscato tea and pistachio biscuits (if you have an afternoon to kill, spend some time there on Little Lonsdale, there’s a great chance you’ll overhear some very interesting conversations).  

Many hours have been spent cross legged on my floor, with herbals, new and old, strewn around me, with post it notes and recipe cards at the ready, carefully recording down the old ways and formulas. Continually having very thankful moments for all the little gems herbalists of past bygone have humbly noted down.   

Antique boxes are being sanded, varnished, lined and filled with remedies.

My apothecary has boxes of mason jars and tincture bottles, waiting to be opened and filled.  There’s a big batch of herbs grown in the pristine Tasmanian highlands on its way.  I spent time with this couple and their family two summers ago on their herb farm, and was completely taken by the amount of care, consideration, skill and shear hard work that goes into producing quality herbs, that us folk in the city can too easily forget, and too many naturopaths actually do forget.  I feel pretty darn lucky and happy that I can show my support for their good work.  

Oh, and there’s an article almost polished and ready for journal publication, which I am very proud of, titled “The Re-Emergence of Grassroots Herbalism: An Analysis Through the Blogosphere”.  Research inspired by the blogs that fed my interests and soul all through university.  I looking forward to sharing this one with you!  

And now for a short walk through the changing light and hues of Melbourne...

Gentle Violets

Clever autumn re-structuring.


Slowly, slowly goes the elms...

Borage still completely convinced the summer is never leaving.

Echinacea in all her changing faces.

Happy autumn!

Cups of Sleep

Friday, 28 February 2014

It is said that the only sleep Leonardo DaVinci took were the twenty minute naps between every four hours of diligent work.  A grand total of two hours a day.  Albert Einstein on the other hand said that his best ideas needed ten hours of sleep a night, eleven hours if it was a particularly good idea.  I’m certainly with Albert on this one.  

However despite agreeing with his wisdom, insomnia and being full of ideas seem to go hand in hand for me.  Whilst the notion of creative insomnia has a certain romance to it, I’m not a fan at all.  I love that fresh and sparkly morning feeling far too much!    

Some call upon help has been required.  Valerian tea and lavender in my oil burner are my usual go to, yet all reserves were down this week (always a most unfortunate discovery at 2 am!).  But then an old remedy came to mind, and I’ve been so pleased to have rediscovered it especially since the changing of the seasons are bringing their cooler nights.  

Warm milk infused with traditional sleep promoting herbs and honey.  So simple and effective.   Chamomile helps soothe that strung out and keyed up feeling.  Lavender is the great mind silencer, redistributing all the energy from the mind through body to be released, leaving behind in its wake a feeling of calm.   

The slow warming of the milk not only captures all the medicinal qualities of the herbs, but it breaks down the milks' protein structures, so that goodies such as calming tryptophan and calcium are quickly absorbed.  All together sending the message to that whirring brain “shhhhh, rest now, tomorrow awaits”.  

Lavender & Chamomile Milk

1/2 teaspoon each of dried lavender and chamomile blossoms (1/2 teaspoon of rose petals optional).  
2/3 cup organic milk 
1/2 - 1 teaspoon good quality honey

Add cold milk and herbs to small saucepan and place on medium heat.  When the milk starts steaming, remove from heat, stir in honey, cover and let sit for 10 minutes.

Pour through strainer (to remove herbs).  

Light a candle.  Get out a book of poems (or a current tax manual). Sip and drift away.  

Another traditional mix that combines warming and sedative qualities is cinnamon and vanilla bean...a particularly delicious combination.  

Cutting the Ribbon & Opening the Doors

Monday, 17 February 2014

Hello dear friends and readers.  What a month it’s been, busily humming away, and now there is a slight crispness in the air that says that summer’s almost at its end.  

I have a couple of exciting pieces of news.   The updated status from the last series of posts is that I did get accepted into the government new business scheme.  Thank you once again for everyone who took the survey and for all your warmth and encouragement.  

I’m very excited to announce that I’m opening my doors, with a comfy chair and pot of tea awaiting. I’m going to be practicing out of Mien Natural Therapies in Clifton Hill, working along side one of most wonderful naturopaths I’ve had the pleasure to cross paths with, Rosemary Janc.  

Mien Natural Therapies

I also have an invitation... 

For those of you in Melbourne, this is a call out for volunteers.  I’m looking for four participants to partake in a series of three naturopathy consultations in exchange for feedback. This will include an initial consult, and a long follow up and a short follow up.   The only cost will be any medicines prescribed.  I’m going to be trying a couple of different ways to carry out consults to best marry the thoroughness of naturopathic training with a realistic framework for busy, modern people.  So I need to make sure it works.  

I’m looking for people (adults or kids) who are:
  • either in a tricky spot with their health or just not feeling completely 100%
  • are interested to try naturopathy
  • willing to give honest feedback

Simple really!  It will be a pleasure to work with you. 

If this sounds like you or someone you know, pop over to my website and see more what  consultations involve or get in touch.  If you would like nourishing morsels peppered through your Facebook feed, you can come over here and give a thumbs up.  Social media hurrah!

Settling In & Smørrebrød

Friday, 20 December 2013

I’ve been almost home a month.  My those days have been passing by to a whole new rhythm.  Crossing over from one chapter to a next feels like that small space between songs.  The two seconds to appreciate what a brilliant song that was, and before you know it, the beginning chords of the next track are beginning, and there is nothing to do but divert your attention to this new beginning, yet still enjoying in the glow that last song evoked.  I am thankful that the beginning chords are gentle right now.  As it’s granting spaces in the day to plug into all the elements I have been looking forward to.  Melbourne is just so filled with life, hidden corners and creative emergence...and I get to jump into its flow again.  

My days have been mainly spent conspiring, incubating and weaving.  Bringing together all those intuitive feelings of what I feel I have to offer together with all the amazing knowledge acquired from study and projecting onto a blank canvas that will soon take on a life of its own.  I’ve been spending a lot of time at my old desk, with a small garden blooming next to me and a rotating pot of  lemon verbena tea with pen and paper.  It’s been  a glorious new rhythm I have to say!  

When lunch time looms, I’ve been making smørrebrød.  I’m sure you’re wondering what on earth that is. Danish open-sandwiches in short.  In my opinion, one of the best quick, at home or work lunches that exist.  I was introduced to these when I was visiting my sister in Copenhagen earlier year and perhaps its my Scandinavian heritage that came shining through (I like to think so at least!), but I simply fell in love and have been making them all year to kindle up that feeling of traditional Nordic simplicity, nutrition and taste.    

Nordic Light
The Danes have quite the skill of combining simplicity, aesthetics, seasonality and just plain good food into a busy day.  Based on their beloved dark rye sourdough bread (rugbrot) and topped with some fish or meat and vegetables and an accompanying remoulade, pickle or relish, they tick all the boxes of simple good nutrition that tastes delicious.  The deep molasses, almost coffee like flavour of the rye combined with the layers of fish, herb and zesty inflections is greatly satisfying. The wholegrain rye sustains your energy all through the afternoon, mitigating any afternoon energy slumps.  The 10-15 minutes they take to prepare also is a nice ritual to break up the day and get your digestive system waking up and slowing down the mind.  Easy for home.  Easy for work.  I’ve got a couple of combinations to share, but I’ll just start at this classic one.  

Smoked Salmon and Cucumber with Lemon & Herb Ricotta "Smørrebrød"

Serves 2

4 pieces of pumpernickle (now this is not authentic, but I love the taste and they are very conveinent given that it is difficult to find good rugbrot here)
4 tablespoons good quality ricotta 
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp chopped capers
1 tablespoon chopped dill 
4 sliced of smoked salmon (look for nitrate free varieties)
sliced cucumber
extra dill to garnish
salt and pepper to taste

Mix ricotta, lemon zest, capers and dill together.  Lay out your pumpernickel and smooth on ricotta mixture.  Layer with smoked salmon, cucumber and dill.  

Simple as that!

Oh so very very cold, but certainly
not a deterrent from wanting to return!

A New Chapter

Sunday, 8 December 2013

"Herbarium" by Yelena Bryksenkova
Oh how I have been dreaming to write so much on here, and time has not seemed to allow it.   In between finishing up study (I can now call myself a naturopath!), packing up and moving back home to Melbourne and figuring out my next movements all coupled with the dizzying spin of the looming festive season and summer...well the days are going fast.   Many interesting things to come: setting up practice, an apothecary and garden , SO much food inspiration to come through and some fun herbal projects that are getting themselves underway.  So in a bid to simply touch base and set the tone, these are some wise words from Stephen Church (a UK herbalist from The Herbarium) who has seen many moons of herbalism.  I've had this quote sitting above my writing desk for the best part of the year, which I feel is among some of the best heartwarming counsel I have had the luck to happen upon which I have relentlessly shared...

"So this is an exhortation to all you modern herbal students and graduates. Move beyond the doctrine of limitations of your training and escape from the trap of fear. Go out into your gardens and woodlands and heaths and have the courage to allow the magic of nature to embrace you. Invite people to come and see you, listen to their stories, and let them fill you with wonder. Draw on our rich fund of empirical knowledge, and add your own stories to our legacy of anecdote. Work hard, be brave, be inspired, be intuitive, be clever. Be humble, struggle to make a living, doubt yourself, be frightened, fail when you must, but keep going. Above all, learn from every experience. Become a proficient herbalist." - Stephen Church
Have a wonderful week and see you so very soon.  
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