Foraging for Herbs in the City

We took our girls on a walk tonight. They have both been feeling poorly so I figured that spending some time in the wooded area near our apartment complex would be a nice way to get some fresh air, enjoy the outdoors, and teach them about foraging for herbs and edible plants.

My favorite part about taking walks now, is that both my girls have begun to inspect the plants that we pass as we walk along the pathway, and often ask “what is this, mom?” or “can we eat this one?”. Eva does it with genuine curiosity and a growing understanding of the herbin world, and Norah just copies her sissy :)

We each had a girl on our shoulders as we walked down the steeper part of the path. It felt like a real adventure. I grabbed a cattail for each of the girls to hold and we were talking about what cattails were for, how they grew, and how soft they were. We harvested some Amaranth for later use and I was looking for other edibles when, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted something familier. Here, take a look. Do you know what it is??

I’m not sure if it was from my days of gallavanting through the wilderness as a child, or maybe I read about it in one of my many “edible plants” books, but this plant rang a bell.  I stooped down to rub the leaves together and immediately the strong minty aroma wafted up towards me. Oh, so minty fresh.

Mentha Arvensis, is commonly known as wild mint or field mint is hard to miss. Not only does it have lovely purple flowers, but even from a few feet away, the minty smell draws your attention. One of the most popular uses for mint is to make a nice soothing tea. Which is what I plan do with with my findings. Iced or hot, its a healthy refreshing beverage.

Wild mint is also valued for its antiseptic qualities and for helping to relieve digestion issues. Here is a list of some of its other uses:

  • Holds anaesthetic, antispasmodic properties and has agents that counteract inflammation. 
  • Promotes or assists the flow of menstrual fluid
  • Promotes secretion of milk (thats for you breastfeeding mamas!)
  • Helps relieve fever and thirst
  • Can relieve pain from toothaches or arthritis
  • Dried leaves can be eaten for chest pains and heart ailments
  • Its a natural insect and rodent repellent. 
We were out in the “garden” for maybe 40 minutes. It wasnt long.  In those 40 minutes we found at least 4 edible plants, saw 3 bees, listened to numerous crickets, and watched 2 birds chasing each other through the air. And we spent time as a family, enjoying creation!
Foraging can happen in the middle of the urban sprawl, and its fun! Give it a go, why don’t ya?

The Health Benefits of Aloe Vera

It’s summertime and the livin’ is easy!

BBQs, watermelon, lemonade and ….sunburn. We’ve all been there. Spent just a tad too much time at the pool or hanging out with friends at the church picnic, right? It burns us precioussssss (no, I am not a LOTR geek, but I couldn’t resist). Then there’s that greenish goo. The stuff your mom always slapped on your bright red skin after giving you the “I told you so” look.

Aloe Vera is great for treating sunburn or burns in general. But did you know that there are a lot of other benefits of aloe vera? No? Well, read on!Aloe Vera was known to ancient Egyptians as the “plant of immortality”. But, since those folks did not actually live forever, I am guessing that Aloe may not truly hold immortality in its grip. I do know, however, that aloe, when taken internally, has been proven to ease constipation, lower blood pressure, and is helpful in healing the gut and intestinal tract. It also stabilizes blood sugar, halts the growth of a cancer (seriously!), boosts immune function, lowers cholesterol, relieves join pain, is also helpful in treating skin issues such as acne. Aloe vera can save animals and human from severe hemorrhagic shock (blood loss) too. It is also a cell regenerator, and it even assists in the preservation of food. Crazy right? And you just thought it was for sunburn. Pshhh

I have used aloe on many occasions to help with those burns I always seem to get while baking. Like the one below.

Don’t try this at home.

Yes. It hurt. But, I can honestly say that aloe soothes and heals better than any other topical cream I have used. Many people will tell you not to apply aloe to an open cut, but there are others who swear by actually putting aloe IN a wound to speed healing and prevent scarring. So, its really up to you since its your body.

Another wonderful idea comes from one of my favorite crunchy blogs. Check out this great idea on how to beat the heat. Sounds like a cool haven to me. Especially if you don’t have or don’t like A/C. You could also mix some aloe gel with coconut oil and lavender for a nice smooth lotion. But more on that later…

Stay cool friends.