Saturday, November 19, 2016

Easy Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry syrup is one of our winter staples and a traditional folk medicine staple in many parts of the world. And while I like to buy it from great companies, with our family of five it can get pretty spendy. So, last winter I ordered a bag of dried Elderberries and decided to try my own recipe.

It's quick and easy, and there are so many variations of recipes around the web, some with spices and some without. I'm posting the easiest, no-fuss version. Also, just a head's up, it's not thick and syrupy like store bought versions. It's definitely more of a juice consistency. I add it to a little cup and put in a tsp. of cod liver oil and they drink it down like a shot. But, I'm also stingy with my honey. Make it sweet enough and they'll be begging for more! 

Benefits of Elderberry (Sambucus) from Herb Wisdom

"Elderberry is used for its antioxidant activity, to lower cholesterol, to improve vision, to boost the immune system, to improve heart health and for coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections and tonsillitis. Bioflavanoids and other proteins in the juice destroy the ability of cold and flu viruses to infect a cell."

Give it a try! A bag of elderberries lasted in my freezer for one full winter and then another month into this current winter. We don't take it every day if no one is sick, but if we're fighting the sniffles or a stomach bug, we take it multiple times per day.

I purchased Organic Dried Elderberries and Dried Elderberries from Frontier Co-Op on Amazon.

Super Easy Basic Elderberry Syrup

1 cup dried elderberries (try Amazon or Mountain Rose Herbs)
1 cinnamon stick
3 cups of water (or try 3 1/2 to stretch)
1 cup raw honey or to taste (I like Mickelberry Gardens or Bare Honey, both are treatment-free)
Optional: a few cloves, a chunk of ginger. 


1. Add the elderberries, water, and cinnamon stick to a saucepan and bring to a boil.
2. When the mixture is boiling, turn the heat down to low, partly covered, and let simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.
3. Remove from heat and pour the mixture through a stainless mesh sieve or strainer. Press the berries into the strainer to squeeze out all the juices. The leftover berries can be composted (or I read a recipe for elderberry vinegar, etc.)
4. Let the mixture cool before adding the raw honey, or the heat will neutralize the honey's beneficial properties.
5. Pour into jar and stick in fridge, where it will last 1-3 months!

Dosage: 1/2 - 1 tsp. for kiddos, every other day seems to help. 1 Tbsp+ for the adults. If you're sick you can take it more frequently, too.

There you have it! Simple, easy, cost-effective elderberry syrup!

*(This article contains affiliate links)*

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Three Books on my Wish List

Last weekend I attended a training for teaching yoga to people with Post-Traumatic Stress (Disorder). It was so fascinating but also incredibly intense!

So this week, I've taken a little rejuvenation time by planting more of our vegetable garden and visiting the local nursery for some extras, like a climbing Jasmine to hopefully grow over the chain-link fence in our backyard, and some strawberry plants and a blueberry bush.

My strategy for gardening, rather than being exotic and growing things I know we won't eat (hi, beets!) is to plant a LOT of things that we eat a LOT of. Lettuce, carrots, celery, cucumbers, zucchini...also, growing things that cost more in the store, like berries. Now we have a raspberry and blueberry bush, and some strawberries. I swear, my kids can tuck away $50 worth of berries in the blink of an eye.

Andy and I had the conversation over the past few weeks of how to work more gardening and house maintenance into our daily rhythm. It's hard to add a new habit! It's also hard living in a rental, when some adjustments aren't possible. But there is a lot of small things we can do and we are trying to find the inspiration and motivation to tackle some projects.

I picked up A Wilder Life while visiting the new 2-story Anthropologie store downtown (holy overwhelm of beauty) and immediately went on my wish list.

"Like a modern-day Whole Earth CatalogA Wilder Life gives us DIY projects and old-world skills that are being reclaimed by a new generation." 

The Hands-On Home is right up my alley.

"Covering everything from cooking, canning and preserving to making your own nontoxic home and personal care products, this fresh take on modern homemaking wil help you make the most of your time, effort, and energy in the kitchen and beyond." 

And How to Be a Wildflower: A Field Guide  is just plain whimsical and adorable.

"Encouraging self-discovery through encounters with nature, beloved artist Katie Daisy brings her beautiful paintings and lettering to this collection of things to do and make, quotes, meditations, natural history, and more."

What are your favorite life/home/dream/garden books?

(PS! All book descriptions from the Amazon page, and all links are Amazon links)

Friday, April 29, 2016

Grain Free Banana Bread Granola (AIP friendly)

One component of healing from my concussion has been reducing inflammation through dietary changes. I found the autoimmune paleo diet/protocol has been a wealth of information and recipes for still eating well but keeping any inflammation to a minimum. Since I don't actually have an autoimmune disease I have more flexibility in my food choices (chocolate, i love you) but overall it has been transformative for our family. Andy has been struggling with gut and allergy issues for a while and we decided to do it together. So far, I've been able to tolerate adding a few grains back here and there, but he's seen so much success with how he feels that he'll be mostly off grains for the foreseeable future.

This granola is quick to put together and freakin' delicious!

Grain-Free Banana Bread Granola
Adapted from AutoImmune Paleo

2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes or shards
2/3 cup dried fruit (raisins or cranberries)
1/2 cup nuts of choice (walnuts, pecans, etc.)
2 medium ripe bananas
2 tbsp. melted coconut oil
1  tsp. cinnamon (or to taste)
1/4 tsp. sea salt (or to taste)

1. Preheat oven to 300. Grease a pan with coconut oil (or use parchment paper)
2. Stir together coconut flakes, dried fruit, and nuts in a mixing bowl.
3. In another bowl, mash the banana until soft. Add the coconut oil, salt, and spices.
4. Pour the banana mixture into the dry mixture and stir until well coated and combined.
5. Spread the mixture evenly onto your pan.
6. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring halfway through. The coconut should get delightfully crispy.
7. Let cool, break up into granola-sized pieces and store in an airtight container.