Nettles and Rose Herbal Tea

Today I’m sharing a tea formula that’s lovely, sweet, floral, and cooling. Perfect for early and mid-summer, when nettles and roses are growing wild, and we need a cooling “tonic” to drink.

Nettles are one of the nine sacred plants in old Wessex, a kingdom in the south of Great Britain from around 500-900 AD. They were used earlier by the Greeks in at least the first century as a medicinal plant. And they’re just as revered today as a tonic herb in Western Medicine.

Nettles are extremely rich in nutrients including calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, silica, zinc, selenium and chromium and are useful for nourishing the blood and adrenals, and supporting the liver in detoxification. 

Nettles are most commonly used as a general tonic when you’re overworked, chronically tired, and needing nutrients. Nettles are incredibly nutrient rich–so much so, you can taste it, especially when they’re used fresh. Many people use strong nettle infusions for calcium and the other nutrients they contain, as an alternative to taking supplements. If you also start to drink nettles daily for some time, your hair, nails and skin will start to have a healthy glow!

I don’t usually take nettles in high dose amounts, but it’s rare for a day to go by without having at least one cup of tea that doesn’t contain 20 percent or more of nettle leaves.

Energetically, nettles are cooling and drying. Those two components translate to being slightly bitter and astringent in taste. Personally, I like to balance these two flavors in a formula with a touch of sweet from licorice.

Like nettles, roses also have an incredibly long history of use, both as a nutritive food, medicine, and in skin / beauty care. Rose petals have a particular affinity for healing the skin, whether it’s acne, scars, varicose veins or capillary damage, eczema, and more. They are anti-inflammatory and also like nettles, can be used daily as a tonic herb. Rose is also a nervine tonic, meaning it’s supportive of the nervous system!

Energetically, rose petals are cooling and moistening. The flavor, beyond just “floral,” is slightly bitter, sweet, and astringent. In Ayurvedic medicine, roses are often recommended for consumption during the hot summer months, and for overheated Pitta constitutions, a feature of their being cooling and moistening during the time of year when both we and the season are typically hot and dry.

Licorice root is one of my favorite and most used herbs. The flavor is not anise and licorice-candy. Rather, it’s extremely sweet and slightly bitter. Licorice is an extremely important herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), where it tonifies the spleen and Qi, and also clears internal heat. It is particularly helpful for the adrenals, soothing an inflamed digestive system, moistening the lungs, and relieving pain.

In herbal formulas, licorice is commonly used in a small amount because it acts as a harmonizer to bring the other herbs together and provide a more pleasant taste.

Energetically, licorice root is warming/neutral, and moistening. It’s flavor is very sweet and slightly bitter.

Nettles and Rose Herbal Tea

Prep:  none  | Serves: 1
Energetics + Flavor: Cooling, Slightly Moistening; Bitter, Astringent + Sweet

1 Tbs. dried nettle leaves (Urtica dioica)
½ Tbs. dried rose petals (Rosa x damascena,  Rosa nutkana, or Rosa canina)
Pinch of licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
12 oz. boiling water

  1. Bring water to a boil. While it’s boiling, combine the dried herbs in an herbal infuser or disposable tea filter. 
  2. When it has boiled, pour the water over the herbs in your mug. If you have an easy lid available, cover the mug. This will allow more of the medicinal constituents to stay within the tea rather than rising in the air in the steam. 
  3. Let infuse for 10-20 minutes, and longer if desired. 
  4. Drink when warm, or allow to cool to room temperature. 

Notes:
– If you have high blood pressure, omit the licorice root. If you’d like a touch of sweetness, add a couple drops of honey after the herbs have infused and it’s no longer piping hot.
-Good sources of these herbs if you need to order include: Mountain Rose Herbs and Starwest Botanicals. For Roses, you can collect the wild Nootka Rose petals locally during the late spring and summer months, or purchase rose petals. Diaspora Co. has incredibly high quality Paneer/Damask Rose petals, shown in the photo.
Amazon is not a great source for herbs since they are frequently lower quality/questionable sources. 

chamomile + dried plum nut butter bars

Last week I shared about the connection between the gut and the nervous system. After hearing from several that it was helpful, I’ve been thinking about the use of herbs in particular for nervous system and gut support.

Herbs in the category called nervines really shine here. They are the herbs that specifically affect the nervous system. While there is a giant list of herbs that can be used for nervous system support depending on where and what type of symptoms are showing up for an individual as well as the person’s energetics, chamomile, skullcap, lavender, holy basil / tulsi, lemon balm, and California poppy are some of my personal favorites. When we get to the point of really using herbs medicinally to promote balance, we often need them in larger amounts such as at least three cups of tea daily for several weeks, or an herbal tincture, large amounts of herbal powders, etc. It becomes like taking medicine, only with no side effects, nutritional interactions or depletions (when administered correctly).

But before we get to that stage where it’s best to have either more personal experience or guidance by a trained professional to take herbs at a medicinal level, many of us can benefit from incorporating more herbs into our everyday foods. This is what a lot of our ancestors did by collecting herbs that grew nearby and incorporating them into household remedies and cooking. And that’s what I’ve done here.

This is a base recipe for a nut/seed butter and dried fruit bar that I routinely make to enjoy as a snack. In this particular version, I added chamomile flowers and dried plums, two foods with a particular affinity for gut health. Many individuals enjoy chamomile as an evening wind-down tea but if you steep it long enough or bite into a whole chamomile flower, you’ll notice a definite bitter taste. That bitter component is important for gut health! We need bitter flavors to help the digestive system function properly, since the bitter taste stimulates the digestive system by activating gastric juices and the liver so we can break down and absorb our food.

Additionally, you might have noticed the strong, fragrant smell of chamomile in freshly brewed tea. The volatile oils in herbs which have an intense smell gives them an action that is called carminative, giving them the ability to promote a healthy digestive system by soothing inflamed tissues, giving relief from GI cramps and spasms, and helping relieve indigestion, bloating, gas, and nervous/anxious tummys. A couple other of my favorite carminative herbs/spices are fennel seeds, cardamom, and lemon balm, which can all be added to these bars instead of and/or in addition to the chamomile (amounts would need to be adjusted for taste, however).

A couple other ways to incorporate more chamomile into your days is in chamomile tea with ginger and licorice, chamomile tea simply by itself, and chamomile added to morning oatmeal. This apple, walnut, chamomile version is pretty outstanding. Overall, I highly encourage you to incorporate more nervous and digestive system supporting herbs into your meals.

Chamomile + Dried Plum Nut Butter Bars, makes 4
This is a great base recipe to experiment with different flavor combinations and incorporate various herbs into your daily snacks. If you’d rather skip the protein powder, try an equal amount of hemp seeds instead since they’re high in protein compared to many other nuts and seeds. Remember, protein is important in small to medium amounts throughout the day, and helps to balance out the heavy sugar and fat that most snacks contain. These also work great both before and after athletic activity as a quick fueling option, as they’re balanced in their carbohydrate to protein ratio.

3 Tbs. / 50 grams nut butter of choice (cashew or coconut work great here)
1/4 cup / 45 grams dried plums
1/3 cup / 45 grams dates, pitted
3 Tbs. / 30 grams hemp protein (or similar unflavored protein powder, such as plain pea protein)
3 Tbs. loose chamomile flowers
1 cup / 30 grams crispy rice cereal (or 1/3 cup oatmeal)
1 tsp. honey or maple syrup
1/8 tsp. salt

  • In a food processor, combine all ingredients except for a small amount of the rice cereal or oatmeal. Puree all the ingredients until they come together and are slightly sticky to the touch. You might need to add up to 1 Tablespoon water.
  • Then add the final amount of cereal or oatmeal and pulse until it is incorporated but not finely pureed.
  • Turn out into a small rectangular dish and press in. Cut into bars and eat, or store in the fridge and cut and eat as needed. Otherwise, you can certainly make these into energy balls instead if you’d like a circular shape.
  • These keep well for at least a couple weeks.

The nervous system is one of the five primary categories of digestive imbalances I look for when working with individuals clinically. Often when we’re experiencing chronic GI distress, there will be imbalances in several categories, and we begin working on the areas that appear most pertinent. I’ll explain the other categories of digestive imbalance in future articles. And If you’re tired of dealing with your wonky GI, I invite you to reach out to me for more personalized support.

Falafel Loaf, and remedies for our stressful times

I had an idea of something different that I’d share here today but the past few weeks, with the news cycle, panic-stocking, and fear of a pandemic virus circulating, an entirely different reassurance presented itself to me this morning, so I’ll share it with you.

I was listening to a short meditative story on the goddesses of hearth and home, with the primary archetypes being Hestia or Vesta in Greek or Roman mythology. I was reminded that Hestia’s name means hearth, fire and alter, and that where we create warmth in our homes can also be our alters. Literally—where we create our meals can also be our sacred space.

So often when our minds run ahead or circulate around in fear or worry, it helps us to pull our energy down from that space, down from our head and into our body. This is partially why I find so much joy in athletic activity, as the meditation of physical movement is where my mind can more often turn off. And it’s partially why the kitchen is my favorite space in my home, the figurative center of the home, as it often is for those who love to cook.

For most of us, cooking and providing for ourselves and families are tasks that go on in the background of our lives, not tasks that we consider noteworthy or adventurous undertakings. But as Hestia’s name portrays, they can be powerful and sacred tasks, helping us to do what we’d otherwise avoid, drawing our minds down into our physical bodies, tuning into the senses of using our hands, noticing the smells, sounds and flavors of cooking.

As the onslaught of emails about immune health have reminded me in the past few days, combatting our daily stresses—literally not allowing the mind to run away into worries or coulds about the unknown future—is a powerful antidote to the weakening effects of that stress on our immune systems.

As the weather and temperature shifts into spring if you’re in the northern hemisphere, or fall in the southern, traditional medical wisdom tells us that now is a time when the shifting environmental patterns can invite in more physical or mental illness manifestations. I suspect this is contributing even more to the increasing anxiety and nervousness, and outright fear of our neighbors and community members that we’re currently facing.

The best remedies to combat the anxiety and fear are tuning into the body, acknowledging what it is feeling rather than running or distracting away from it, tuning into the senses, cooking nourishing meals, selecting an enjoyable kitchen playlist or podcast to invite in more relaxation, eating warming and nourishing foods, and deep breathing.

Falafel Loaf, serves about 4
-This is my current favorite meal to slowly harken in the flavors and ingredients that support our systems as we shift into spring: pungent vegetables like garlic and onion, spices to support moving the winter sluggishness from our liver and digestion including cumin, coriander, and cardamom, and ample herbs like cilantro for the same. If this particular herb is not your favorite, sub in parsley or mint instead.
-With all the flavors of falafel but with easier prep and the ability to put it in the oven and walk away for a while, I’m really loving this loaf-version of falafel. Plus, I find it allows me to focus on the side ingredients, which in a pinch are sauteed or braised cabbage, and the quick tahini sauce linked below.
– I haven’t tried making this without the egg since I’ve had limited success with egg-free veggie loaves or burgers staying together, but ground up chia or flax seeds would be my suggestion if that’s needed for you.


3 garlic cloves, peeled + roughly chopped
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander
¼ tsp. ground cardamom
1 ¾ cup cooked chickpeas or 1 can, drained and drained
1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
3/4 tsp. sea salt + more to taste
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. baking soda
1 egg
¾ cup chickpea flour
¾ cup finely chopped cilantro

Suggestions to serve with:
Tahini Garlic Sauce
Socca
Lettuce and/or sautéed greens
Seasonal braised cabbage

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the garlic, onion, and spices, scraping down sides as needed, until coarsely chopped, 30-45 seconds. Then add the chickpeas and apple cider vinegar, and pulse again briefly. Transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Add the vinegar, salt and pepper, baking soda, egg, chickpea flour and finely chopped cilantro. Gently stir to combine, being careful not to mash the mixture too much. Spoon the mixture into a 8 ½ x 4 in. loaf pan that has been lined with parchment paper. Smooth it down so its even, and then bake until the edges are browned and the center is completely set, about 60-70 minutes.
  4. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool at least 15-20 minutes, remove from the loaf pan onto a cutting board.
  5. To serve, cut into big slices and drizzle garlic tahini sauce on top, serve with greens, socca, or other sides of choice.