Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Where is your Alfalfa?

I wonder what someone would say if I went into a regular grocery store and asked "Where is your Alfalfa?"  They would probably direct me to a store that sold products for livestock.  Alfalfa is one of the most mineral packed herbs on the planet.  I'm so very grateful for alfalfa, and grateful I can buy this wonderful herb via the internet or via a health foods store. Alfalfa is one plant that I want to have growing in my yard - as well as dandelions!

The other day I was sent a funny video on YouTube that showed a man that worked at a grocery store being asked a question from a man (with a hidden camera) that made no sense.  It was funny watching the grocery store employee try to figure out what the guy was saying (which made no sense at all) and try to tactfully answer the question without letting the guy know he was 'clueless'.

It is funny to see the faces of the grocery store employees when we bring things to the checkout line like turnips, kolrabi, rutabega, kale, or jacama.  Some store clerks have it easy if there is a number they can reference that is stuck to the vegetable, but when a label is missing I can see the panick in the clerks eyes as they ask "what is this?"  Honestly, there was one particular time when I too couldn't tell the difference between a turnip vs. rutabega or kale vs. chard either. 

With the commercialization of food, there is a limited number of produce available at each particular store.  I loving trying new things to expand my food vocabulary and taste experience whenever I get the chance to.

Sometimes my adventures with buying new foods turns out fabulous, and at other times I get a stinky surprise.  When I was in Australia, I purchased something that looked like a big deformed spiky coconut.  If I had taken time to calculate kilos to pounds I probably would NOT have purchased the item if I had known the cost.  However, I had a fun experience with my family as we cut it open and backed away at what smelled like a rotten onion/rotten egg looking mixture inside the fruit/vegetable (I had no idea what category it would be grouped into).

When I asked a friend of ours "an Aussie" what it was (several days after the purchase),  my friend said "Oh, a DURIAN....they are REALLY, REALLY EXPENSIVE".  She went on to say that "DURIONS ARE A DELICACY".  I went back home and looked at my receipt... YIKES!!!  It WAS really, really expensive.  I think it was around $26 USD expensive.  How on earth could something that tasted like onion flavored eggs possibly be a delicacy.  My wonderful husband, who never likes to waste anything was the one that ate the entire thing by himself.  I really wanted to help, but couldn't stomach it.  Too bad we didn't look for a recipe BEFORE I made the purchase.  That would have helped a LOT!  I had watched Shane eating it and thought "What if it's spoiled and it's not really suppose to smell that way...he could get really, sick!"  (I gave him maleleuca essential oil in some juice to kill bacteria - just in case!)



Here is a picture of the Durion and the other fruit I bought (that was new to me) while we were in Australia.

Indonesians are enthusiastic about the durian, the football-sized spiky fruit that some Westerners have described as smelling like kerosene. Chefs use the flesh to make cakes, ice cream, and other desserts.

When I have another chance to purchase a durion, I'll have to do a little research into Indonesian cooking to know how to make a dessert with it.  I guess it's like trying something like an onion for the first time.  An onion or a shallot or a leek doesn't taste very good to bite into it raw, but it sure makes delicious meals when added with other vegetables, beans or legumes.
When I was searching the Internet to find information about the durion I came across this website... http://www.foodbycountry.com/index.html I'm excited to try some of the recipes listed there - if I have access to the ingredients.

My Grandmother use to make a green drink for herself every morning.  She didn't have a juicer back when we were little and so she would use a blender to make her thick drink.  I remember her asking me to go out into the yard to pick dandelions so that she could put it in her drink.  Grandma also had access to alfalfa in a nearby field. 

 I use to be completely opposed to taking 'herbs' thinking that they were 'unsafe' and that I needed to have a Doctor tell me what to take.  Oh what a wonderful world that I know live in as I have learned how safe and wonderful herbs are in their whole food state.  Pharmaceuticals extract particular constituents of herbs and other plants to make their 'drugs'.  If you want to purchase herbs from a great place, I suggest Nature's Sunshine.  They test every single product to make sure it's organic and pure.

Here is some information that I was able to get from searching 'alfalfa' and 'dandelion' on their site...

Alfalfa

Arabs called it the “father of herbs.”  Alfalfa’s roots grow 20 feet deep or more, providing the plant with a rich source of nutrients not always found at the ground’s surface.

Dandelion

Its name is a corruption of the French dents de lion, meaning “teeth of the lion.” Herbalists consider this plant one of the most nutrient-rich in the plant kingdom.  Dandelion supports digestion and nourishes the liver. The whole plant is edible—the flowers, the leaves and the roots. The herb is a source of many important minerals and vitamins.

This past summer, I went to a holistic living conference where I attend a class a woman was teaching about using herbs to cure depression.  The woman teaching the class talked about how severe her post-partum depression was every time she had a baby. She watched her other siblings on medication for depression lose their fun personalities.  She didn't want to live her life in what she described as a "walking coma" on anti-depression medicine. She changed her diet to whole foods and she learned to medicate herself using herbs to combat the depression. She learned that making her own 'concoctions' of alfalfa and dandelion leaves and taking them a couple times a day, she was able to reverse her severe depression.  A concoction is made by soaking the dry herb in a solution to get all of the benefits of the herb in a higher concentrated amount.  The key here though is....herb in it's WHOLE food state.  She preferred the concoction instead of taking the herb as a tea or as a pill.

FYI: Essential oils are so powerful at combating depression because one drop of the essential oil is the equivalent to drinking 24 cups of the tea.  Good oils for depression are Frankincense, Bergamot, Melissa Oil.

My grandmother enjoys telling stories about her mother (my great grandmother) just like I enjoy telling stores about my father.  Nana's Mom was absolutely hilarious.  The stories I hear about her, that my grandmother tells over and over, are so much fun to listen to.  Sadly, great grandma suffered from severe depression just like my father did. Late in her life she decided to undergo surgery to remove a part of her brain that the Doctor said would heal her depression.  She was never the same again.  She lost that fun part of her personality and became somewhat of a walking zombie.  It reminds me of what people are like when they take anti-depressant medication.  It was heartbreaking for my Grandma to see her Mom live the rest of her life like that.

My prayer is that you or your loved one will not have to suffer like my ancestors did, or like I do when I eat gluten.  I pray that those suffering from depression will be lead to my blog so that they can change the foods they eat, and use herbs and essential oils to return to a life full of happiness and vitality.

Lots of love to you and your family,

Steffanie

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