Bringing stinging nettle to the dinner table

Believe it or not, Quill grows, harvests and handles all her own nettle bare handed!

Believe it or not, Quill grows, harvests and handles all her own nettle bare handed!

Nettles are a tricky food to get to know – most folks either love ’em or hate ’em. If you’re truly hard-core, you harvest by hand, eat fresh nettle pesto or use fresh young tops in a stir-fry (click here for more tantalizing nettle recipes), or even practice “urtication” (reputed arthritis cure involving self-flagellation with stingy nettle stalks)!

I am a “middle-of-the-road” nettle lover. She grows lavishly all around my front door, I consider her tall, proud stalks and broad, dark blue-green leaves my protection, my shield, my ally. Inspired by a local eight year old, I’ve even started harvesting by hand (patting myself on the back, here). My best-selling nettle product so far is my all-purpose Nettle-Me seasoning adapted from my favorite herbalist Susun Weed. It resembles Gomasio, and can be used similarly in a stir-fry or rice bowl. I love a healthy sprinkle of Nettle-Me on top of my homemade hummus.

my best selling NettleMe seasoning, available locally for $5 a jar

my best selling NettleMe seasoning, available locally for $5 a jar

My latest adventure with nettle was inspired by a trip to France way back in 2004. I learned how to make traditional French vinaigrette exactly the way they make just enough for the evening’s meal, fresh every day. And, of course it is beautifully simple:

  • 3 parts organic Olive Oil
  • 1 part your very best Balsamic
  • 1 part super creamy Dijon
  • plenty of sea salt and fresh-cracked pepper to taste

Whisk together with a fork et voila! I’ve been making and sharing this vinaigrette for years without any variations. Last winter I started adding fresh, raw garlic and parsley for a super immune boost (and then I started eating it by the spoonful, nevermind the salad). And the the Nettle Faeries came to me in a dream and sang a song…

“When the blue-green goddess blooms

she dances in the light of the moon

her summery leaves give plenty food

for healthy meals old and new…”

…er, well, it went something like that. I sat up in bed full of inspiration and ran out to the yard to start picking nettle tops. Into the blender with a little olive oil (no blanching or drying or toasting, just fresh and juicy picked at the peak of potency under the full moonlight) and the bright green oil mixed into my favorite Vinaigrette a la Provence recipe became “Nettle-ette”!

Nettle-ette dressing next to my famous Homestead Hummus

Nettle-ette dressing next to my famous Homestead Hummus

Taken by the spoonful Nettle-ette salad dressing does sting. My tongue and throat did swell, slightly. After a couple days, however, the flavors melded and the sting mellowed into the most delightful and truly provincal nettle creation to date. Enjoy!

Dandelion Blossom Syrup tastes just like honey

Dandelions galore - delicious AND nutritious!

Dandelions galore – delicious AND nutritious!

Dandelions may just be the best source of easy, seasonal, and amazing nutrition around. Look under your feet and you have a powerhouse “superfood” right at your disposal. Dandelions are nutritious and medicinal from head to toe. Read more about the specific health benefits here.

I eat dandelions for breakfast (roasted dandelion root coffee), lunch (grazing on fresh-picked leaves and blossoms) and dinner (dandelion blossom fritters – incredible)! My favorite herbalist, Susun Weed, in her classic Healing Wise gives this excellent recipe for Dandelion Blossom Syrup that has become a best-seller at the Homestead (this is my adaptation):

4 cups freshly picked dandelion blossoms

4 cups cold water

1/2 organic lemon

1 lb organic cane sugar

Combine blossoms and water in a pot, bring to a boil and remove from heat. Allow blossoms to steep overnight. Strain out the blossoms and add sugar to liquid with organic lemon slices. Bring to a rapid boil stirring occasionally and watching closely until the temperature reaches approximately 300 degrees Fahrenheit (I wait for the surface bubbles to grow larger than the size of a quarter, then test the consistency by dropping a spoonful into some ice water. It should hold some shape just like honey). Remove lemon slices and immediately transfer syrup into hot, sterilized canning jars. Follow standard canning procedure, et voila! Amazing, delicious AND medicinal Dandelion Blossom Syurp!

If only the dandelions would bloom all year long...

If only the dandelions would bloom all year long…

Susun Weed doesn’t delve into the specific medicinal benefits of this recipe except to note that it will lift the spirits and ease muscle cramping. The flavor and consistency are so close to honey it can be used on yogurt, pancakes, granola and in your favorite herbal infusion (especially delicious with Raspberry Leaf).

My favorite part of being in mass production of this seasonal delicacy is saving the candied lemons for myself…I enjoy them peel and all as soon as they’re cool enough to eat! What’s YOUR favorite way to enjoy dandelions?

3 Nettle recipes to tantalize your tongue

I can’t get enough nettle into my life. It is good for so many things: strengthening kidney function, mellowing-out over worked adrenals, it even brightens my skin and strengthens my hair! So I’m always ready to jump on any new and delicious ways to incorporate this super-herb into my life. (For more about the specific health benefits and waxing poetic about my favorite green goddess, click here.)

The most exciting part about working with stinging Nettle in your kitchen is her uncompromising demand of your utmost devotion. Each hearty stalk has such integrity, each leaf such sweet juicy-ness, and each tiny hair is shimmering with her secret ingredient – that unmistakable sting. I count it as a mark of pride that my fully-dried nettles can still inspire welts on my fingers when I’m taking her down from the twine.

freshly harvested nettle stalks hanging on the twine in my kitchen

freshly harvested nettle stalks hanging on the twine in my kitchen

The sting is considered medicinal – some practice self-flagellation with a fresh whip of Nettle to increase circulation and cure everything from arthritis to paralysis. After years of tender loving care and devotion to this wonder-plant, I’m still not that brave. But the 8-year old girl from our first recipe is the bravest little herbalist I’ve ever met. I am indebted to Quill’s mom, Gretchen, for permission to publish their recipe and photo! Without further adieu, here’s gluten-free, vegan-friendly, oh-so-tantalizing “Quill’s Nettle Pesto“:

“Here is what we used (we didn’t measure, but Quill did numerous taste-tests).
  • olive oil
  • garlic (just a tiny bit since she didn’t want it spicy)
  • nettles (par-boiled removes the sting, and water squeezed out)
  • little bit of lemon juice
  • walnuts (cheaper than pine nuts)
We blended it up in the food processor and had it on rice crackers – it was really good! We could have added parmesan cheese, but it tasted fine without. Refrigerate and eat within one week (if it lasts that long)!”

Believe it or not, Quill grows, harvests and handles all her own nettle bare handed!

Believe it or not, Quill grows, harvests and handles all her own nettle bare handed!

Kinder Hearts Nettle Soup

Kinder Hearts is a Waldorf-inspired home-schooling co-op in Boulder, Colorado. I am grateful to educator, visionary and Wise Woman Sage Hamilton for having the vision and courage to serve Nettle Soup to her kindergartners – and for sharing this gluten-free, vegan-friendly, highly nutritious recipe with us! (PS, the kids loved it!)

1/2 cup yellow onion, julienne
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T coconut oil
dash of S&P
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
2 cups vegetable broth
“lots” of fresh nettles! (de-stemmed, 2 big handfuls will melt into approximately 1 cup in the pot)
1 can organic coconut milk
Saute onion and garlic in coconut oil for a little bit. Add some salt and pepper. Add chopped carrots and chopped celery. Cook for a little bit. Then add veggie broth and simmer until the veggies are soft.
Throw in nettles and simmer for just a few mins (to not cook out the nutrients). At the very end add a can of coconut milk and puree.
And while you’re harvesting and delicately de-stemming don’t throw the stalks away. They make a most effective compost activator!

baby nettle sprouting on my doorstep before she got buried in a 4 foot snowstorm – hang in there, little one!

NettleMe Seasoning
Last but not least, here’s my recipe for my popular NettleMe seasoning. It is so simple, yet so soooo good. Our fellow Nettle-enthusiast Quill eats this stuff by the spoonful! This recipe owes everything to the goddess of all herbalists, mother of all Wise Women, Susun Weed. Her Nettle seasoning recipe calls for 1:3 ratio of Nettles to sesame seeds, I am more generous with my nettles, achieving a 1:1 ratio of Nettles to sesame seeds – although I do use more salt…
3 cups dried nettle leaves
1 cup sesame seeds
1 T mineral salt
In a large skillet, start toasting the sesame seeds on high heat. Keeping an eye on the sesame seeds so they don’t burn, grind down the nettle leaves until they are nearly powdered. I use a clean coffee grinder. This should reduce the volume significantly, but give your seasoning a smoother texture.

NettleMe seasoning on bagels with cream cheese (very good with almond butter, too!)

When the sesame seeds are just starting to brown, stir in the ground nettles and add salt to taste. Cool and keep covered in a clean glass jar on the table. You’ll find yourself reaching for the NettleMe in place of S&P! Need some ideas on how to use this ever-so-versatile seasoning? Here’s 10!

How do YOU take your Nettles?

Beyond food labels: This is what you REALLY just put in your mouth!

It’s no secret that our Standard American Diet (SAD, really) is full of chemicals, pesticides and all sorts of unnatural ingredients. Try as we might to avoid Easy Cheese and Spam, we are inextricably saturated by Red Dye #40, Sodium Caseinate, and a host of proprietary “natural and artificial ingredients” for which the FDA will never require full disclosure on a food label.

But just in case you needed a reminder about how unnatural, unhealthy and down-right disgusting our modern, affluent, American lifestyle really is – This is what you just put in your mouth? is the book for you.thisiswhatyou2

Author Patrick Di Justo started his investigative reporting on food labels in 2006 for Wired magazine. He contributed one article every month focusing on popular food and household products ranging from Beef Jerky to Egg Nog to Play Doh and Diaper Cream – and just about everything in-between. Di Justo went in pursuit of the truth behind Polyquaternium-10 (a moisturizer in Head & Shoulders) and 1-Methyl-1-tallowiamidoethyl-2-tallowimidazolinium Methylsulphate (the “tallow” is horse fat used in fabric softeners) and every other ingredient you can’t pronounce.

Any modestly aware consumer knows most of the ingredients in her shopping cart are bad for the environment and probably cause cancer. So it’s not the detailed lists of ingredients pulled from common product labels that makes this book worth reading – it’s the back-story behind Di Justo’s prolific research that will have you laughing out loud and crying bitterly at the same time.

In his piece on “I can’t believe it’s not butter” (which begs the question: well, what IS it?) we learn the FDA’s circuitous logic in defining “real” butter “as butter”, and anything with at least 80% “edible fats” in “plastic form or liquid emulsion” qualifies as margarine. Believe it or not, ICBINB doesn’t even contain a minimum of 80% “edible fats”. Instead, it contains 60% hydrogenated vegetable oils, and potentially carcinogenic potassium sorbate and calcium disodium EDTA.

“Poisonous on the cellular level and slightly harmful to mammalian DNA at high doses, EDTA is not thought to be carcinogenic – at least not as of this writing.”  

EDTA – that sounds so familiar. I decided to do some investigative research of my own: it turns out, EDTA is in everything from ICBINB to canned fruits, vegetables and seafood as well as most topical cosmetics. While a singular dose may not prove lethal, the National Institute of Health admitted in a 2002 study of adverse cumulative effects from regular exposure to multiple sources of EDTA:

The lowest dose reported to cause a toxic effect in animals was 750 mg/kg/day. These chelating agents are cytotoxic and weakly genotoxic, but not carcinogenic. Oral exposures to EDTA produced adverse reproductive and developmental effects in animals. – National Institute of Health, Final report on the safety assessment of EDTA, 2002

While EDTA is “not thought to be carcinogenic” it IS proven to be cytotoxic (deadly to cells) and genotoxic (capable of mutating and killing genetic material)! When faced with these facts, it almost seems like Di Justo is letting ICBINB off the hook.

Yup...all these toxic foods came out of my pantry!

Yup…all these toxic foods came out of my pantry!

Besides the blatantly incriminating light shed on obviously unhealthy, unnatural products, Di Justo gives us a taste of the secret herbal inspirations behind products like “natural male enhancement” supplement Enzyte (oatstraw, folks!), Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Pie Ale (real clove, cinnamon, ginger and allspice), and K-Y yours + mine couples lubricant (honey). Not to say anything else in these products could be considered “natural” – except for the beer, of course.

Have you ever wondered why a “serving size” is so small? Apparently, the FDA bases a serving size on “the amount of food customarily consumed per eating occasion by persons 4 years of age.”

Do you remember the good ol’ days of Red Dye #2 and do you ever wonder where it went? Di Justo spent considerable time on a massive government database “Everything Added to Food in the United States” (EAFUS for short) to find Red Dye #2 was banned in 1976 for being a suspected carcinogen (after the damage had already been done…). But we are still living with and consuming Red Dye #40, a petroleum derivative laced into candies and cereals and linked with ADHD in children.

“In the US, the Center for Science in the Public Interest says that 40’s key safety studies were flawed. They want the FDA to ban the dye; the FDA is thinking about it.” 

In his commentary on Cool Whip, Di Justo observes, “The whole thing seems like a bizzare attempt to manufacture cream by extraterrestrials who have never actually tasted cream but know its chemical make-up.” That statement could very well sum up every product in this book. And yet, the multi-million dollar industry that feeds on our complacency (the advent of food labels had dispelled our ignorance) is still getting away with poisoning our food and environment. The stakes are economic melt-down massive for these mega-conglomorates to admit they are pumping our children full of poison and causing irreversible environmental damage. Di Justo was repeatedly ignored, placated and rejected time and time again by companies like Nescafe, Doritos, Kraft, and of course the FDA. Di Justo tracked down food chemists, professors, historians, lawyers – anybody who might have a piece of the puzzle behing our most popular, can’t-live-without, all-American products.

When he asked Alpo where they get their liver for Purina Alpo Chop House Beef Tenderloin Flavor in Gourmet Gravy – they stonewalled him right off the bat, and then wouldn’t return any of his calls.

“It’s when they don’t come out and say where they get their liver that people start questioning; the whole ‘I don’t have to tell you where I got my liver’ attitude they get when they’re asked…well, it can’t help but make people suspicious. And the only thing they’re hiding is the awkward likelihood that on any given day, they honestly don’t know whose liver is in Alpo.”

"Just say NO to toxic additives, artificial colors, preservatives, GMO and non-organic!"

“Just say NO to toxic additives, artificial colors, preservatives, GMO and non-organic!”

Listen up, America: we are surrounded by food labels that only require partial disclosure. We know ingredients like EDTA and Red Dye #40 are injurious to our health, the health of our children and our environment. And yet, we still buy these products without questioning, without demanding change. We are the guilty party in the biggest criminal heist of history – the no-holds-barred compromise of our food supply, the very stuff that keeps us alive. Read this book, folks, and then look through your pantry. This is the sad reality of our “standard” American diet – this is the frightening truth we must face before we can really change.


I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review! Check it out! 

Food is medicine and the other way ’round

Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.
– Hippocrates (460-377 BC)

Younger, stronger bodies seem to utilize every last calorie to the fullest – only now that I’m in my 30’s am I appreciating the value of incorporating nutrient rich foods into my diet. As we age, our digestion becomes less efficient at breaking down and absorbing the nutrition we need to keep strong bones, limber joints and clear vision. But if we change how we relate to food and think of every bite as a bit of medicine, we can maximize our vitality and longevity AND enjoy a delicious and nutritious diet for life!

While this may seem obvious to some – look around at our “modern” diet of convenience. Foods are so highly processed, refined and manipulated we hardly recognize their original source. Our economy is so globalized, we eat wheat from China, tomatoes from Mexico and oil from Spain. Additionally, we are bombarded with the idea of “meal replacements” and “meals in-a-box” that are supposedly “complete” nutrition – but they lack so much more than the USDA puts on a label. For some, it’s a luxury, but our bodies ultimately pay the price.

Perhaps the most incriminating hubris is our treatment of the sick with patented, laboratory-created, test-tube substitutes for real nutrition:

“One hundred years ago, doctors and dieticians were still creating hand-made formulas to meet their patient’s unique dietary needs. And it worked! It wasn’t until big pharm got ahold of this industry that we lost touch with our bodies (and our realities) and started giving people on feeding tubes generic formulas filled with unnatural ingredients and processed sugars.” – Five Reasons we believe in food as medicine, The Center for Mind-Body Medicine

The Center for Mind-Body Medicine, a non-profit run by conventional doctors, advocates incorporating medicinal foods into the diet as your best protection against disease. Scientific research concludes that no protein bar or super shake or green smoothie can substitute for the nutritional and emotional benefits of eating real food (attention dieters!!):

“Did you know that our organic broccoli contains chromium (Chromi-YUM!) and those wonderful Omega-3s, which help increase levels of serotonin? And what about the B6-packed garbanzo beans, which help our neurotransmitters? Or the sprouted quinoa and kale, which are classified as super foods for all the nutritional goodness they contain?”

These studies have focused on patients in hospitals, with eating disorders and feeding tubes. While we may not be so surprised by the fact that people are happier to have a plate of steamed veggies, fresh baked bread and farm-raised turkey garnished with home-grown rosemary – this research lends more and more credence to the old-world wisdom of healing with whole foods.

The Energy of Life

A side-effect of living close to the earth is feeling the natural rhythms of mother nature in my very bones. I can feel the sap rising in the spring, the sprouts sing to me in my dreams, I watch the squirrels hustling for the last pine cones before Autumn frost. I also notice the vital energy in my food.

When I was younger, leftovers never bothered me. Day-old bread from the bakery, even dairy that was on sale, and wilted lettuce gave me no problems. But these foods have lost their vital essence, their energy of life. It makes me sick and saps my energy – where’s the nutrition in that? If you haven’t noticed the difference, take a minute to think about how far away your food is from the source. Now compare notes with new research that confirms higher levels of free-radicals in ‘dead’ foods, and lowered nutrient absorption from canned, frozen, dried and non-organic foods.

How to use food as medicine

The University of Minnesota helps people take charge of their health starting with a healthy, balanced diet. According to U of M Center for Spirituality & Healing, the Standard American Diet (SAD) is full of empty calories and processed, lifeless foods.

“It is easy to fall into the pattern of eating fast, convenient, prepared food, especially in our often frenetic lives. But we are not nurturing ourselves by doing so. Our Standard American Diet lacks nutrients and relies heavily on processed foods that include artificial color, additives, flavorings, and chemically-altered fats and sweeteners.”

No wonder we are constantly hungry – we are craving real nutrition, vital energy and delicious, natural flavors! How can YOU start healing yourself with food NOW?

  • AVOID fast food, pre-packaged, microwaveable meals
  • Cook all your meals at home
  • Eat more whole foods, at regular times, sitting down
  • Slow, slow, slow meals
  • VARIETY in color and texture is of utmost importance

At the Holistic Homestead we want to help you eat your way to health! Here are some wonderful resources to help you get started:

USDA Food Tracker helps you keep track of what you eat and limit empty calories:

The University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Health has a webpage with menu planning, shopping lists and inspiration to get you eating better and enjoying vital health!

Get proactive about health and wellness in your community and the world! Read about the Center for Mind-Body medicine and what these visionary doctors are doing to improve global health with whole foods:


5 more cleansing recipes by popular demand!

Hopefully your spring cleanse has inspired you to eat lighter and cleaner so you can enjoy radiant health and vitality year-round. After a cleanse, I like to keep my diet light in saturated fats, free from dairy and refined carbohydrates. All these recipes can be easily modified to be gluten free and vegan friendly. Here are five more original recipes to indulge your taste-buds in healthy eating!

Breakfast: Bob’s Red Mill High Fiber Cereal with Flax

1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill High Fiber Cereal with Flax

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/4 cup plain fat-free organic yogurt

1/2 organic apple, sliced

sprinkle of cinnamon

Cook Bob’s Red Mill High Fiber Cereal long, low and slow in the almond milk. At the longest, this takes 10 minutes to get a thick, hearty texture. In the meantime you can be slicing apples and sipping on a hot cup of Clean Livin’ infusion with a little honey. Pour into your bowl, garnish with apple slices, yogurt and cinnamon. The greatest thing about this dish is the fiber boost – 10 grams of whole grain fiber per serving KA-POW! This keeps me full all day!

For a gluten-free alternative, use whole grain rolled oats, fresh ground flax and oat bran. Here’s the numbers from the USDA Super Tracker: (for 1 T honey add 60 calories) Total Calories 186 Protein 12 g Carbohydrate 45 g Dietary Fiber 9 g Total Sugars 13 g Added Sugars 0 g Total Fat 4 g Saturated Fat 1 g

Mid-Morning Snack: Apple slices with almond butter


1/2 organic apple, sliced

1 T almond butter (or fresh ground, sugar and salt-free, hydrogenated oil free nut butter of choice)

You probably won’t be hungry after our heart bowl of high fiber oats, but it’s better to have a healthy snack ready to go, than to be starving in-between meals and reach for the most convenient food at hand (probably that bag of chips you’ve been avoiding for the last week)!

Total Calories 137 Protein 3 g Carbohydrate 13 g Dietary Fiber 2 g Total Sugars 8 g Added Sugars 0 g Total Fat 10 g Saturated Fat 1 g

Lunch: Butternut Squash Soup

1/2 medium butternut squash

1/2 cup coconut milk

1/2 cup vegetable broth

1 T coconut oil

1/4 teaspoon each cumin, coriander and salt

1 T NettleMe seasoning, for garnish

Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds. place one half right-side up on a cookie sheet, put 1 T coconut oil, cumin, coriander and salt. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes. Test for tenderness, turn upside down and bake another 30 minutes. Allow to cool 5 to 10 minutes. Scoop out the squash into a blender, pouring any liquid into the blender as well. Add remaining ingredients (except NettleMe) and blend to desired creaminess. Re-heat on the stove, serve with a generous sprinkling of NettleMe!

Nutritional Values for 1 and 1/2 cups prepared soup: Total Calories 430 Protein 8 g Carbohydrate 28 g Dietary Fiber 6 g Total Sugars 8 g Added Sugars 0 g Total Fat 36 g Saturated Fat 27 g

Afternoon tea: Clean Livin’ daily tonic

My Clean Livin’ herbal blend includes nettles, blessed thistle and dandelion root

1 Infusion Sachet Clean Livin’ herbal blend

4-6 cups water

1 dropper-full Clean Livin’ tincture

1 T Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar

1 T raw honey

Place infusion sachet in a pot of cold water. Bring to a boil, allow to boil for about 7 minutes. Turn off heat but leave on the stove. Allow to cool on the stove for 1-2 hours (you can also allow this to steep overnight for maximum extraction). Put remaining ingredients in a glass, pour in the infusion and fill to the top. Stir well and sip slowly.

Dinner: Tibetan-style curried lentil soup

1 lb green lentils

4 cups water

2 medium red tomatoes, diced

1/2 yellow onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 T Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

1 T organic Curry Powder

This easy soup can be prepared in a pressure cooker, crock-pot or a large cooking pot. Rinse and sort lentils. Melt coconut oil in the bottom of a large pot, add minced garlic and roast until golden. Throw curry powder and onions on top and roast on low heat, stirring constantly until the kitchen is filled with the wonderful aromas. Be careful not to burn the garlic! Add all remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover and cook on medium heat for 2 hours (stove-top). A pressure cooker will take about 1 hour, a crock pot can take up to 4 hours on medium setting. Adding more salt (up to a full tablespoon for the whole pot) will bring out the flavors. I learned this from my many years living with Tibetans, they call this “Dal” and serve it with a side of rice, a hard boiled egg and plain yogurt. I’ll take a bowl of it, as is! 

Total Calories 186 Protein 10 g Carbohydrate 26 g Dietary Fiber 13 g Total Sugars 2 g Added Sugars 0 g Total Fat 5 g Saturated Fat 1 g



Ending your cleanse the Holistic Way

The Holistic Way is about more than just health and wellness, it is about living from the source of your overall well-being, your in-dwelling spiritual nature (call it spirit, soul, enlightened nature, Buddha, or whatever…).

A three-day cleanse is your chance to slow down, tune in, and clean house. After the cleanse, you may feel lighter, clearer and more energetic – so why rush back into your “old” ways that were muddling your thinking, sapping your energy and weighing you down?

While you ease back into eating solid foods, here are some tips to integrate clean livin’ into your everyday:

  1. Apple Cider Vinegar every day! Bragg’s ACV may be the most wonderful health tonic in the world (of course, that’s my opinion. But don’t take my word for it!) One tablespoon of Bragg’s ACV in a glass-full of water and a small amount of raw honey first thing in the morning, every day, will keep off those unwanted pounds, keep your blood pH closer to alkaline, and improve immune function and elimination. If there is only ONE thing that I recommend to ALL my clients it is to incorporate Apple Cider Vinegar “with the Mother” into their daily routine! Here is a wonderful, beautiful, woman with her famous giant pink hat talking all about it: 
  2. If you are using my Clean Livin’ formula during your cleanse, keep taking it! Finish off the tincture or jar of herbs as a daily infusion (nettles, blessed thistle and dandelion root) in the next week or two to ensure maximum strength, efficiency and function for your liver, gallbladder and kidneys for the rest of the year!

    may it be simple, may it be gentle, may it be beautiful

  3. Do a weekly cleanse – Dr. Deepak Chopra advocates for a simple weekly cleanse in his book What are you hungry for? which includes taking one day for meditation and fasting. Here, he advocates a “program” for an ayurvedic cleanse, but what I really want you to listen for is the overall theme of cleansing – a balanced lifestyle, regular cleansing, and a life embraced by mindfulness and awareness for greater vitality and overall well-being. 

5 light and delicious recipes to end your cleanse

How you end a cleanse is far more important than how you started it. If you’ve managed to cut out coffee, sugar, alcohol and saturated fats for a few days, the LAST thing you should do is dive right back in!

…don’t you feel lighter? clearer? doesn’t it seem like your body is using calories better? like you have more energy? like you get fuller faster? Crashing right back into self-destructive eating habits will completely negate all the progress you’ve made over the past few days.

But cleansing isn’t easy – and I did promise to keep our spring cleanse joyful – so let’s treat ourselves right and prepare some wholesome, delicious and nourishing treats to reward ourselves for seeing our cleanse through to the end!

Breakfast: Let’s ease back into real food, here. I love to start the day with this high-fiber treat:

1/2 cup oatmeal

1/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill High Fiber Cereal with flax

1 cup almond milk (or less for a thicker texture)

1/3 banana

1/4 cup blueberries

1/4 cup walnuts

Cook the oats and cereal in unsweetened almond milk (yum!), about 5 minutes on low heat. Add walnuts, banana and blueberries – voila!

Check out the stats from the USDA Food Tracker:

Total Calories 426 Calories Empty Calories* 24 Calories Solid Fats 0 Calories Added Sugars 24 Calories *Calories from food components such as added sugars and solid fats that provide little nutritional value. Empty Calories are part of Total Calories. Nutrients Amount Per Portion Protein 11 g Carbohydrate 54 g Dietary Fiber 15 g Total Sugars 18 g Added Sugars 6 g Total Fat 24 g Saturated Fat 2 g

Mid-morning snack: Kefir and apple slices

a glassful of delicious kefir to help your body achieve balance before, during and after a cleanse

a glassful of delicious kefir to help your body achieve balance before, during and after a cleanse

1 C plain, organic Kefir

1 medium apple, cored and sliced

Simple, invigorating, delicious! Plus, you’re getting full-spectrum probiotics to help “re-populate” your tummy after some intense fiber cleansing.

Total Calories 170 Calories Empty Calories* 16 Calories Solid Fats 16 Calories Added Sugars 0 Calories Protein 8 g Carbohydrate 31 g Dietary Fiber 3 g Total Sugars 26 g Added Sugars 0 g Total Fat 2 g Saturated Fat 1 g


Lunch: I “heart” miso! 

1 T miso paste of your choice

1 C water

3 or 4 shitake mushrooms

1/2 cup cabbage

1/2 cup carrots, julienned

1 or 2 scallions, sliced

1 T “NettleMe” seasoning*

Re-hydrate shitake mushrooms as directed, or just toss straight into the pot with water and miso. Slowly increase the heat, adding cabbage and carrots, stirring until miso is dissolved. When steam rises from the pan, immediately remove from heat – don’t let it boil! That destroys the good enzymes in your miso. Pour into a bowl and garnish with sliced scallions and “NettleMe” seasoning (toasted sesame seeds, dried nettle and just a pinch of salt! Thank you Susun Weed!)

Total Calories 114 Calories Empty Calories* 0 Calories Solid Fats 0 Calories Added Sugars 0 Calories Protein 6 g Carbohydrate 12 g Dietary Fiber 5 g Total Sugars 3 g Added Sugars 0 g Total Fat 6 g Saturated Fat 1 g

*The USDA does not currently have nutritional information available for Nettle, so here’s what Susun Weed says in Healing Wise, numbers are milligrams per hundred grams of dried and crushed nettle herb): “Sister spinster is very high in calcium (2900), magnesium (860), trace minerals, and chlorophyll (6 grams are extractable from a kilo of dried leaves). Stinging nettle is high in chromium (3.9), cobalt (13.2), iron (41.8), phosphorus (447), potassium (1750)…” etc! 

Smoothie Break: Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Creamy Green Smoothie (from

1 C unsweetened almond milk

1 C organic spinach

2 organic Medjool dates

1 organic medium apple – cored, skin can be left on, if organic

1/2 organic avocado

2-inch organic piece ginger, peeled and chopped

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed (optional)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 or 4 ice cubes

Add all of the ingredients to your blender (in the order above) and process until smooth and creamy. Serve with an apple slice and a sprinkle of cinnamon or a cinnamon stick to get real fancy!

And here’s the numbers: Total Calories 332 Calories Empty Calories* 24 Calories Solid Fats 0 Calories Added Sugars 24 Calories *Calories from food components such as added sugars and solid fats that provide little nutritional value. Empty Calories are part of Total Calories. Nutrients Amount Per Portion Protein 6 g Carbohydrate 46 g Dietary Fiber 13 g Total Sugars 30 g Added Sugars 6 g Total Fat 17 g Saturated Fat 2 g

Dinner: The most amazing kale experience you’ve ever had (loosely adapted from Dawn

2 C kale, washed and chopped

1/4 C dried cranberries

1/4 C orange slices

1/4 C olive oil

2 T orange juice

1 T lemon juice

1/4 C toasted walnuts

Make the vinaigrette in a separate jar, add salt and pepper to taste. Shake well and set aside. Mix kale, cranberries, orange slices and walnuts in a large bowl. Smother with the dressing, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. The acids will sweeten and soften the kale, the longer you let it marinate the better!

*This recipe makes two portions, the following nutritional info is for one portion: Total Calories 430 Calories Empty Calories* 33 Calories Solid Fats 0 Calories Added Sugars 33 Calories Protein 5 g Carbohydrate 23 g Dietary Fiber 4 g Total Sugars 13 g Added Sugars 8 g Total Fat 38 g Saturated Fat 5 g

What are your favorite light, easy and delicious ways to end a cleanse?


Don’t give up! 13 ways to keep your cleanse joyful

Whether you are doing a one day, three day or ten day cleanse, detoxifying is not without it’s challenges. It’s kinda like signing up for a yoga class, and you finally go, and half-way through it you are sweating and shaking and wondering why you’re trying to fold yourself into a pretzel? But in the very next breath, the teacher moves into the ending meditation and you think – “I made it!” That’s exactly how I feel right in the middle of a cleanse. All those toxins are flying around, hopefully moving out, I’m trying not to give in to this headache and go for a cup of coffee or an Ibuprofen…

These strategies will help you cope with the hard part of doing a cleanse (mostly the hunger and fatigue) and help inspire you to see it through to the end:


1. Your level of cleansing will dictate your level of hunger. If you are opting for a complete fast, sometimes starting a crock-pot recipe (like lentil stew or bone broth) will satisfy your craving for pungent and spicy aromas.

2. If you are doing a juice fast, definitely “chew” the juice for one minute or longer before swallowing. Digestive enzymes in your saliva start to break down the juice in your mouth.

3. Start the day with a high-fiber drink. I start every day of my cleanse with 1 T Bentonite Clay, 1 T Psyllium Husk and 1/4 cup apple juice in 6 – 8 ounces of water. Drink slowly, “chew” before swallowing, and chase with a glass of water with 1 T Apple Cider Vinegar and 1 T raw honey. This keeps me full for hours!

I have relied on these products for years, since they were recommended to me by a medical doctor!

I have relied on these products for years, since they were recommended to me by a medical doctor!


4. Wrap up warm and snug in your favorite fleece and take a nap!

5. Drink a glass of apple juice

6. Put a little honey on a spoon and suck on it for a while

7. Watch a movie, read a book, surf the web. Try this guided relaxation from


8. Homeopathic Pulsatilla is my go-to for headaches during a cleanse. Homeopathic remedies are completely safe and will not interfere with the cleansing process.

9. If your headache is definitely from caffeine withdrawal, open the coffee can or grind some fresh beans and smell the wonderful aroma – or make a fresh pot of coffee to fill the house with that old familiar fragrance.

10. Try acupressure on your temples, under your ears, and in-between your thumbs and forefingers. Press firmly and hold as hard as your can for 3 to 5 minutes.


11. Roll out that yoga mat and lay down! Try some simple, supine stretching, bring your knees into your chest, roll your head from side to side.

12. Move slowly and breathe deeply.

13. If faintness is severe (from low blood sugar) you may need to modify your cleanse by adding more calories. Take this as a good sign that you are listening to your body and taking care of yourself. Start with some steamed veggies, plain oatmeal or rice, or make a low-sugar smoothie (with bitter greens like kale, spinach, or dandelion).

Exercise during a cleanse? (or, why can’t I nap all day?)

Cleansing is not easy – it’s the hunger that gets to me. Your jaw can get pretty tired “chewing” all that juice, and unless everyone else in my house is cleansing, too – I still have to look at food and smell it and prepare it!

Some coping strategies that I’ve adopted (for better and for worse) include my annual Lord of the Rings marathon (special edition, of course!) dusting off all my health books (the motivation factor), and blogging about cleansing (a great distraction from my grumbly tumbly)!

But don’t overlook the importance of exercise during a cleanse! Here’s why:

  • gentle exercise gets the blood flowing
  • the metabolism is still working to break down fats and carbohydrates to keep you going
  • sweating is one of the quickest ways to detoxify your body
  • focus on taking deep breaths as you move gently
  • t’ai chi, chi gong, and gentle yoga during a cleanse actually “massage” and stimulate the internal organs
  • if you don’t exercise at all during your cleanse, a good deal of stored toxins will stay in your body

Obviously, your energy will be significantly lower than usual because of your restricted calories. Deepak Chopra in his book “What are you hungry for?” recommends a safe fasting level of 1100-1500 calories per day for the average guy, and 700 to 1100 calories per day for the average gal. Yes, schedule an afternoon siesta, yes, move slower and with greater awareness, and YES incorporate gentle exercise into your cleanse!

What kind of exercise is right for me?

During a cleanse it is crucial to pay attention to your body, and to be ever so gentle with yourself. (Shouldn’t we always be gentle with ourselves?) Jogging, kickboxing, cycling, skiing and dancing are not recommended. Although I am not diabetic, my blood pressure drops so low when I’m cleansing that sometimes it’s hard to stand up without feeling faint. CONSULT YOUR DOC BEFORE DOING A CLEANSE IF YOU HAVE ANY SERIOUS CIRCULATORY OR METABOLIC CONDITIONS!

Start with the breath

Go to for a wonderful, in-depth article about pranayama (cleansing breath)

Go to for a wonderful, in-depth article about pranayama (cleansing breath)

The yogic tradition has a practice called “cleansing breaths” and you can find many good examples of it online. Here’s how I learned it from the Tibetan tsa lung kyil khor tradition:

  1. Sit straight on the floor or in a chair with the legs crossed or feet flat on the floor. Take three full breaths allowing your body to release tension and to relax deeply.
  2. Gaze gently toward the tip of the nose. Place the thumbs at the base of the ring finger and gently fold the fingers down into a fist. Place your fists facing down on your knees.
  3. Starting with the left side, close off the left nostril with the left index finger and inhale through the right nostril. Open the left nostril, bringing the right index finger to the side of your nose and closing off the right side to exhale through the left nostril.
  4. Keeping the right index finger on the right nostril, inhale, switch closing the left side with the left index finger and exhale.
  5. Repeat the full cycle, left and right, three times.
  6. Bring both fists into the pelvic crease and press down with the fists turned upward. Forcefully breathe in and out through the nose three times, on the third exhale empty the lungs completely and don’t inhale again for a few moments.
  7. Bring the gaze toward your third eye, relax your jaw, empty your mind. When you have to, inhale long and deep and with the final exhale say “Haaaaaaa”.

Cleansing Yoga Poses

After completing the cleansing breaths, move on to a gentle yoga or chi gong routine. I personally go for the chi gong during my cleansing because it focuses more on moving the subtle energy moving at a slower pace. Yoga is a bit too up and down (even something as low impact as surya namaskar) and I find myself getting faint easily.

Seated yoga poses, however, are extremely beneficial for toning, stretching and cleansing the abdominal organs. Shape magazine featured 10 yoga poses for detoxifying, seven of which would be great to incorporate into your spring cleanse routine. (I would omit the inversions and advanced poses like peacock and crow.)

The seated twist is low impact and improves digestion

The seated twist is low impact and improves digestion

Cleansing T’ai Chi

breathing in, lift the palms up

From a rooted, grounded, wide standing position, relax the knees and let the arms dangle at your sides. Breathing in, lift your hands, palm upward toward the heart center. Pause at the top. As you exhale, lower the hands pressing downward and sinking slightly into your knees. Repeat several times, following the natural rhythm of your breath.

breathing out, press the palms down

Organ massage

The kidneys, liver, and adrenals can be stimulated through gentle self massage. Starting with the kidneys, make fists and gently tap your lower back with your knuckles. Use a moderate amount of force, just enough so that if you said “aaaahhhh” your voice would “bounce” with your tapping.

For the liver and adrenals, tap your right flank and brush downward starting under the armpit and swiping down toward the hip flexors. Repeat three times on the right side and then switch to the left.

These exercises can be done seated or standing. A most joyful way to end your exercise session is with a supine twist. Laying flat on your back, inhale bringing your right knee into your chest. As you exhale, draw the knee across your chest over to the left side and hold. Breathe deeply and relax into this pose for as long as it is comfortable.