Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sesame Ginger Snaps: Using your nut and seed grinder

Announcement: Your days of granola-resembling cookies are over. Time to get a seed and nut grinder (you can pick them up cheaply on amazon). My Cuisinart spice, nut and seed grinder rocks my socks, and I take good care of it.

Tips for using a seed and nut grinder:

1. Don't put excessively hard things in there (like wood, or polypore mushrooms, or even cinnamon sticks). The motors on these things are easily burnt out, so treat it like a kitten.

2. Only put 1-2 tablespoons of material at a time. It grinds quickly, so just do large amounts in batches.

3. Always grind right before you use for maximum nutrient retention and flavor.

4. NEVER use it for coffee, because everything after that will taste like coffee for eternity. Be strict and relentless about this rule, and your grinder will last you.

I love to grind almonds, sesame seeds, flax seeds (up to 3 TBSP in a batch), and chia seeds (up to 3 TBSP in a batch). These can be added into any cookie recipe.

Cookies are a great place to use seeds and nuts because of their texture. They can be chunky, or crunchy. Personally, I dislike cookies with whole seeds or nuts in them. The seeds especially often come out undigested. Grinding them right before baking preserves their "wholeness," but also makes them more palatable (you won't feel like you're eating "health food"), and more digestible (you won't find whole flax seeds at the other end). Finally, because seeds are so packed with nutrition (much more so than any store bought flour), it makes the cookies WAY more nutrient dense.

Sesame Ginger Snaps (Gluten Free)

Dry ingredients:
2.5 CUPS gluten free flour blend + ground seeds and nuts
      More than half of this can be replaced with ground nuts and seeds. Here is the mix that I used.
      2 TBSP Flax seeds (or Chia)
      3/4 CUP freshly ground sesame seeds (lightly toasted or not)
      1/2 CUP ground almonds (fine or rough, depending on your preference)
      remaining: gluten free flour mix bought at the store
1/4 TSP salt
2 TSP baking soda
1 TSP corn starch (optional, though flax seeds offer a binding action without the "corn" factor)
2 TSP ground Ginger
1/2 TSP ground cloves
1 TSP ground cinnamon

Wet ingredients:
1 CUP (or a little less) raw cane sugar/ evaporated cane juice/ unbleached sugar
3/4 CUP soft coconut oil, or other veggie shortening (use pastured butter if you do that sort of thing)
1/2 CUP unsulphered molasses
1 large egg (non-factory farmed eggs are always better)

Some extra whole toasted sesame seeds to dip cookies in

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk together.

3. Combine sugar, oil, and molasses together and stir thoroughly. Use an electric mixer if you have it (I don't, so I just whisk with a fork). Add the egg and mix again.

4. Combine wet and dry, stir/ mix until throughly combined. Put 1.5" balls on a baking sheet, dipping the tops in freshly toasted sesame seeds.

5. Bake for 13 mins.

6. Try not to eat the whole batch in one day.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Feet: A user's guide

Feet have such a stigma for being disgusting, improper and dirty. Most people just want to cover them up and pretend they don't exist. In Thailand, it is considered rude to point you feet at people, and it is rude in many countries to show the bottoms of your feet to other people. During the last supper, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. Foot washing is a religious rite observed in many christian sects. It represents humbling yourself before the person whose foot you wash. Also, it is customary for muslims to wash their feet before prayer as a way of cleansing, which is mentioned in the Koran.

Detoxification through feet:

Your feet are a major detoxification organ. Smelly feet are a sign that your body is ridding itself of toxins. Try a detox regimen if you have stinky feet. You may find that once you've helped your body rid itself of the toxins, the stink will clear.  In addition, a general may to steward good foot (and general) health is to be barefoot as much as possible. Many people wear shoes and socks constantly, but this stifles the natural "breathing" of the feet, and can inhibit detoxification mechanisms.

I have heard stories of radiation therapy patients having their feet turn black, as all the junk is expelled through them. Imagine the bottom of a jar of salad dressing: All the bits go to the bottom. Your feet at the lowest point on your body. This is one reason why elevating your feet can be healing for many different foot conditions, including edema and sprains.

Onions and Feet

One folk remedy that I've read quite a lot about plays on this tendency of pushing yucky stuff our through your feet. You take thick slices of fresh onion (1/2" thick), put them in the bottom of cotton or wool socks and leave them overnight, or on all day in the case of a bedridden patient. Change the onions after they darken or dry out. This has been known to prevent infection of whatever is "going around," and also quicken the recovery of someone afflicted with a flu or fever. The reason onions are used is twofold: they are highly antibiotic, and they absorb bacteria and toxins like a sponge. For this reason, you should not leave cut onion exposed in your fridge, as it could absorb some sketchy bacteria.

Imagine the onion farmers during the great plague of Europe, sleeping with onions strapped to their feet. Legend has it that those people were among the few not infected. Next time you've got a serious gripe, give it a try. The worst thing that could happen is your feet smell like onions, which for some people would be an improvement.

Therapies for the feet

Many cultures and groups traditionally have foot-centered therapies. In Chinese reflexology, The bottom of the foot acts as a representation of the whole body. In other words, the big toe is the head and the heel is your feet. Various portions of the middle of the foot represent organs. A reflexologist may be able to tell what parts ail you by where you experience pain upon pressing. They will then work points with acupuncture or acupressure, until an improvement is made. This works much like whole-body acupuncture. To work with this idea at home, give yourself foot massages, pressing on points that "seem right" (for lack of a better word). Observe any results or feelings.

Hydrotherapy (aka soaking your feet in some hot or cold water) is an ancient method to relax, detoxify and tonify. It's as simple as dipping them in a creek for a few minutes on a hike (notice how amazing they feel), or preparing a tub of hot or cold water and soaking them while relaxing on the couch. On some mornings, I fill the bathtub with cold water and stand in there for a minute or so. I sometimes even sit on the side and read for a bit. This helps me start my day off on the right foot. Hot foot baths are also beneficial, and better if you're under the weather. As a general but not all-encompassing rule, avoid cold baths for the sick, though tepid water may serve a feverish person.

Should I walk barefoot?

The idea that walking barefoot (or with minimal shoes) is beneficial to your feet and to your whole anatomy is becoming more accepted as fact. Even Nike are attempting to make shoes that are like being barefoot.

There are two basic problems with highly cushioned shoes: they don't allow for the natural bending and compensation of side-to-side motion, and they create a detrimental heel-toe strike. In other words, cushioned shoes allow muscles to go soft, and force an inordinate amount of weight to be improperly stacks on the wrong joints. Many people now believe that running shoes are the reason for the enormous rise in running injuries that has occurred since the introduction of the cushioned shoes by Nike.

So my verdict is: barefoot walking/ running is great given that you striking with the ball of the foot (which should naturally occur with bare feet), and you don't step on anything sharp. Most people will need to "season" their feet, and eventually develop callouses to make it more comfortable. Walking barefoot on soft grass while engaging the gripping motion of the toes is a good place to start if you are timid about it. I highly recommend anyone with bunions to try a little barefoot walking out. There is a large movement of people with a lot of experience. The Barefoot Runners Society is one of several groups world wide.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Toasted Sesame Treats

Sesame seeds rock my socks, and they should rock yours, too. If you are sesame lover, your love is well founded, for this is an ancient-hailed healing food. They are incredibly rich in minerals, which are a valuable asset in a time of depleted soils, and thus mineral-poor foods. At the moment, I am skeptical of esteeming specific foods because of some miraculous chemical compound that's going to cure you of cancer. However, sesame scores high on the "awesomeness" scale in my universe. Have faith in your food and it will serve you well.

On the holy quest for healthy snack foods, I have come upon a fated, yet ancient combination of sesame and honey. These snacks are addictive, so be careful you don't eat the whole batch, as you'll most certainly be sad the next day. Please keep these refrigerated (to keep them fresh and hard), though feel free to put some in a bag and take 'em on your hike. Note that I use coconut oil because of its tastiness and its ability to harden when cold. However, feel free to experiment with other oils, such as olive.

Toasted Sesame Treats
2 cups raw sesame seeds (whole or hulled)
4 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 pinches of salt

1. Toast the sesame seeds. To do this, I use a big cast iron pan, and put all the seeds in it, dry. I turn the heat to medium high (high can burn them quickly), and stir constantly. You will hear them pop. Do not leave them at this point. When you start to get the aroma of sesame, and the seeds darken slightly, you can stop at any time. I like the toasted flavor, so I toast mine a little extra.

2. Grind the sesame seeds. I use a nut grinder, but you could use a food processor, a food mill, a mortar and pestle, or whatever means you have. Roughly ground is fine. I find if I don't grind sesame seeds, they pass right through and it's like I never ate them at all.

3. Add oil, honey and salt into a saucepan on medium heat. Heat until melted. Add all the ground sesame and stir throughly. Heat the whole thing for a few minutes on med-low. The "dough" may seem a little dry and non-coherent, but it will stick once refrigerated.

4. Flatten the dough on a piece of parchment paper on a flat surface (place, baking sheet). Press down and shape with a flat spoon until it's about 1/4- 1/2" thick.

5. Put it in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

6. Get it out and cut into small squares (the size of candies). Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dandelion Sesame Salad: Embrace your liver and kidneys

Dandelion greens are meant to be eaten- plain and simple. However, in case you've never had the pleasure of eating a handful of raw dandelion greens from your garden... they are incredibly bitter. 

Bitter tastes are actually good for you, and you can build a higher tolerance and an enjoyment for bitter tastes just like you can build a tolerance for the initially disgusting taste of wine. Out tongues actually have many more bitter taste receptors than any other kind of receptor (sweet, salty etc), which is why eating bitter things is so intense, especially for children. This probably developed because a lot of poisonous or toxic compounds have bitter flavors, so we needed to distinguish between good bitter (dandelion) and bad bitter (hemlock or indian hellebore). With this higher awareness of bitter flavors, your tongue will most certainly tell you when you are eating something you shouldn't. This is how animals distinguish between good leaves and bad leaves.

Bitter tastes stimulate your liver to produce bile, which aids digestion, and keeps things clean in there. Dandelion is also a genito-urinary tonic, which includes your kidneys. It is a general tonic for anyone wanting to improve their health.

In order to make Dandelion Greens more palatable (which even I advocate for), you can boil them and the save the water for tea (or discard it if you can't stand it). This is a common practice in culture that eat wild plants. It removes toxic alkaloids, and removes bitter flavors, keeping the nutrition of the plant. Some roots processed by indigenous cultures, such as cassava and camas, have been processed this way. For plants with a higher toxicity, the process is repeated several times, and the water is NOT consumed.

Dandelion Sesame Salad

1/2 a bunch of dandelion greens (or several handfuls of wild)
1 pint of water
1 Tablespoon freshly toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp toasted sesame seed oil
1 tsp soy sauce 

Boil water in a pot. Put the whole dandelion greens in the pot and simmer for about 10 minutes. Strain the hot liquid into a glass. The reserved liquid is a great tonic if you can stand bitterness. Drink it all.

With the greens- put a batch of cold water into the pan. Greens should be cool enough for you to squeeze the excess water out of them. Once squeezed, you will have a mass of greens. With a sharp knife and a board, finely chop the greens. Put these in a bowl. Garnish with the oil, seeds and soy sauce.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Cedar: Some Practical Uses

If you live in the Pacific Northwest, or many other places in the world, cedar is everywhere. Sometimes I forget about it, and I go months without using it. As the bright green spring growth bursts forth from the tips of the cedar fronds, I am here to tell you a little about why it's a great ally.

Wester red cedar (Thuja plicata) is our local cedar, but there are many other kinds that have similar properties. The other ones I know are yellow cedar, incense cedar, atlas cedar, but there are yet others. The whole tree is antifungal, which is why you won't see mushrooms growing in the dead wood, as you would with alder or doug fir logs. This anti-fungal property is the main reason why it is so useful to us. There is indeed a lot of fungus that we need to get rid of in all sorts of places.

The last thing you should know about cedar is that you shouldn't take large amounts internally. Some people find it helpful in small amounts for certain conditions, but I personally have never experimented with that. I never use it internally, but find it useful for many other things. You will notice that none of the following uses that I outline involve ingesting cedar.

Cedar for your Foot Fungus and Athlete's Foot

Somehow, your feet are a hotbed for fungus of all different kinds. It's disgusting, but so are all the drug store remedies. It's a good thing cedar can help us with that. There a few different ways to use it for this purpose. You can make a tincture, make a footbath, or you can use the essential oil. The secret for this remedy is being consistent (2-3 times a day) for a long person of time (2-4 weeks). This remedy should be effective for foot fungus, athletes foot and nail fungus. Recipes and instructions follow...

Cedar tincture (alcohol extraction)
You will need...
a clean jar
40-50% concentration alcohol (vodka will do)
cedar leaves, chopped or cut into small pieces

TO MAKE: Shove the jar as full of cedar leaves as possible. It will be best if they are small pieces, so you can fit more. When you have filled the jar, leave a little more than a finger's width of space on the top of the jar. Then, fill the jar with alcohol so that it completely covers the cedar, and surpasses it by one finger width. You do not want cedar peeking above the alcohol, because it may mold. Let this sit for 2-4 weeks, shaking occasionally. When the 2-4 weeks are up, you will pour the whole thing through a cheese cloth, squeezing the leaves to get all the juice out, and discard the leaves. There should be no more plant pieces in the alcohol, and the alcohol should be a reddish brown color. I reccomend a "double maceration" for this, which means taking your newly prepared cedar tincture, and putting even MORE fresh cedar leaves in it, and letting it sit for 2-4 more weeks, and then straining it again. This makes for a stronger brew, which is good if you're using this for foot fungus.

TO USE: Put a few drops and rub around on affected areas of feet. Give it a moment to dry. For nail fungus, put a drop on each nail and let sit for a moment. For best results, repeat this twice daily for at least 2 weeks. For serious situations, continue use for 10 days after fungus appears to have gone.

Cedar Foot Bath
dried cedar leaves
hot water
a large basin

Foot baths are awesome, if you haven't tried one before. It is incredibly relaxing, and it feels great. To dry the cedar, simply leave it out for a week or two in a dry place (inside in the winter, outside in the summer). Dry more than you need, so that you can have it to use. You can store it in a large paper bag. When it starts to get moderately dry, grab a few handfuls and put it in the bottom of your basin. Boil the water, pour it over the cedar into the basin, cover and let sit for 15-30 mins. At the end of 30 mins, test the water to see if it's still too hot for your feet. If so, add a little more water to cool it down. Then, sit down on a chair or couch and plunge your feet in there. Let them soak for 15-20 minutes, or until the water is cold again.

Clean your house with cedar

One of the best cleaning supplies that I've used is white vinegar infused with fresh cedar leaves. All we did was buy one gallon of white vinegar ($5), and stuff it full of cedar leaves. You can just leave the cedar inside of the container. We put this in a spray bottle to use for surfaces, showers, and floors. The anti-fungal/ anti-microbial action of the cedar is a good addition to the already strong actions of the vinegar.

Cedar Cordage (picture on left)

Cedar was used for textiles and baskets by the native people of this area. The inner bark has long, string fibers that resist mold. You can make beautiful cedar cordage. You tube and the internet are rife with instructions on how to do this, so I will not elaborate on it here.

Cedar Smudge
Many people burn cedar leaves, saying that the smoke helps rid a space or a person of bad energy or spirits. It also just smells really good. To do this, use dried cedar leaves, or dry in a bundle and wrap with cotton thread (picture on the right). use a lighter or a candle similar to as you would use incense or sage smudge.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Stinging Nettles: The taste of spring

Now is the time when stinging nettles are emerging from their slumber, piercing the veil of leaves on the forest floor. In other words, it's time to get outside and pick the first harvest of spring.

The Stinging Nettle, Urtica dioica

The stinging nettle is a invaluable plant. You can find them in damp parts of low-elevation, temperate forests (I have seen them in the UK, and in the Pacific Northwest of the USA) where the ground has been disturbed at some point. They especially like growing next to the trail, or next to roads. They always grow in groups, because they spread by underground rhizome. Be aware that they freely absorb toxins and heavy metals, which is great unless you want to eat them (which we do). This means look around before you pick: Do you see a toxic waste facility? Is there a freshly paved road? Is there a creosote-covered telephone pole? Is there a highway close by? If the answer is yes, it's time to look for a different patch.

I recommend doing a google image search before you go hunting for it, and look at a wide variety of images. If you're in doubt about the identity of the plant you've found, touch it and see if it stings you (arguably the easiest plant to identify for this reason).

When you harvest Stinging Nettles, harvest the top few sets of leaves. Avoid plants that are turning red or purple, which is a sign that they are creating a toxic compound. The spring, not the summer, is the time to harvest nettles. Once they start to seed, and even before, the leaves start to create this compound. Eating the old ones won't kill you, of course, but large amounts eaten long term could cause liver damage.

You may bring gloves, scissors and a paper bag to harvest with, though some people elect to let themselves be stung as a sort of homage to the plant. Being stung by nettles is actually therapeutic, as the reaction causes blood to rush to an area, which can speed healing and mend sore joints. This process is called Urtication, coming from the latin name for nettles Urtica dioica. If in doubt about this strange phenomenon, do some research for yourself.

If you haven't already guessed, nettles are wonderfully edible, and also medicinal. They are one of the prime wild foods of the Pacific Northwest. On top of that, they are incredibly high in protein and minerals. They are especially rich in iron and calcium. Medicinally, they can be used to remineralize, to nourish hair (infused in vinegar and applied to hair), to slow allergies and as a general strengthener. You can order dried nettles for tea on the internet, buy them in an herb store, or pick them yourself and dry them!

Amazing Nettle Tea:
1 Tbsp dried peppermint
1 Tbsp dried nettles
one pinch of green leaf stevia, or honey to sweeten
one quart of boiling water

Pour water over herbs, cover, and let sit for 15 minutes. Strain and drink.

Nettle-Arugula Pesto Recipe:
1 c sunflower seeds
2 T olive oil
3-5 cloves garlic
juice of 1/2 a lemon
two pinches of salt
two handfuls of arugula
three large handfuls of nettles

Step 1: Bring a large pot of water to the brink of boiling. In this pot you will par-boil the nettles.
Add half the nettles to the water (using tongs to handle them will keep you from getting stung). Let them sit for just one minute, and then remove them to a strainer in the sink, using tongs. Let them cool and drain. Keep the water and drink as tea, if you wish.

Step 2: Toast the sunflower seeds. Freshly toasted seeds are a treat. Never buy pre-roasted, as they are rarely fresh enough to be worth it. The oils go rancid quickly once you heat them. To do this, heat a dry pan on high heat. When hot (but not smoking hot), add seeds and stir consistently with a wooden spatula. Don't leave this unattended, or unwatched. I burnt a batch of these a half an hour ago- it's easy to do. Once the seeds are toasted, load them into a food processor and grind them up. They don't need to be a flour, but small and even does the trick.

Step 4: Remove nettle leaves from the stringy stems with your fingers or scissors. Add 1/2 of these to the food processor. Also add garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. Pulse. Then, add the rest and pulse.

Step 5: Add the arugula little by little, pulsing as you go. Then, let the food processor run until everything is evenly chopped into a paste.

Eat this on crackers, on sandwiches, or on pasta. Beware that it might be a little spicy.`

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Zombifying Diet

Today at about 12 pm, one hour after completing a cream cheese bagel, I began to feel myself show symptoms of zombification. Symptoms include a feeling of constricted space around the head, impaired breathing, impaired vision, sleepiness, "spaciness", boredom, inability to perform athletic tasks etc.

Do you feel or have you ever felt like a zombie after eating a particularly sinful meal? Do you find yourself feeling disconnected from reality after eating on a regular basis?

You could be eating a Zombifying Diet (ZD). A ZD is defined as habitually eating foods that soften and disengage your consciousness. In other words, your food is slowly turning you into a Zombie. Combined with a environmental diet of T.V, mindless work, video games, smart phone usage, facebooking and driving, this could lead to extreme zombification (EZ). Zombification may not be noticeable for some people eating a ZD, often because they are in a constant state of zombification.

Here is a brief list of food that are zombifiying for everyone:
- foods high in refined sugars, especially high fructose corn syrup. ex: soda, candy, donut.
- non-real food (fast food, highly processed food)
- alcohol
- oil-rich foods (deep fried things, potato chips)

Here is a breif list of foods that CAN BE zombifying:
- Gluten (wheat-containing foods)
- dairy products
- coffee
- meat
- corn

If you are lucky enough to catch yourself in the process of Zombification and self-diagnose it, then you are in luck. It is reversible!

Steps Towards Reversing your ZD

Step 1: Notice the feeling and identify the cause (feeling: totally disconnected from reality. Cause: cream cheese bagel in the morning.)

Step 2: Drink water immediately. Do NOT consume coffee or any other stimulating substance. Peppermint tea will help you de-zombify more quickly.

Step 3: For your next meal, eat a salad. Rather than viewing this as deprivation or punishment, view it as a divine nectar that will fully nourish your being. This salad will be the embodiment of all things whole, healthy and tasty. It could include your favorite fruits, vegetables. Include parsley, cilantro, mint and other fresh herbs. For a dressing, a simple vinaigrette will be the catalyst for the freshest possible flavors to explode in your mouth in ecstasy. It will not include dairy products, refined sugars, gluten products or soy products.

Step 4: Make a vivid mental note that the food you ate is ZOMBIFYING you, and that you don't want to eat it again.

Step 5: Notice the next time you have the desire to eat that zombifying food, and try making a different choice.

Note that side effects of reversing zombification can include increased passion in life, increased energy, spiritual awakening, surfacing of trauma or anxiety.

The alternative to a ZD is a Super-Hero Diet (SHD), which can be defined as eating foods that enliven and engage your consciousness. The details of this diet are different for everyone, but generally includes eating fresh, whole foods.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Blackberry Tart That Won't Give you a Heart Attack

I made this tart over Christmas, and it was popular with everyone. It's dessert that won't kill you! It is vegan, gluten free, refined sugar free, whole food based and all that long list of stuff that you'd ever worry about. In other words, it's not so sinful.

Blackberry Tart


1/2 cup pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup gluten free flour mix
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup raw honey (or other alt sweetener if you're a no-honey vegan)
1 tablespoon almond butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

Put the pecans into the food processor and process into a flour. Add the oats and process further. Add melted coconut oil, raw honey, almond butter, vanilla extract and salt and process into well mixed paste. Put that paste into a bowl and stir in the gluten free flour, mix together thoroughly, using clean hands if needed.


2 cups frozen blackberries
1 ripe pear
1/4 cup honey
lemon verbena, lemon balm or lemon zest
4-5 tablespoons chia seeds

Melt frozen blackberries in a saucepan on low heat, crushing with a fork as they melt. Add the honey and continue to stir until fully melted. Pour the berries into a blender and puree them. Pour the pureed mixture through a strainer to strain the seeds out. You can use a spoon to push the sauce out.

Prebake the crust at 375 for 7 minutes. Spoon on the filling, then bake for another 20 minutes.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Burdock Root: Superstar Food and Medicine from Japan

Burdock root is the cat's meow.  It's from Japan, where it is called "gobo," and it looks like a really long greyish-brown carrot. You can eat it, you can make tea out of it, and you can make a tincture out of it. In Japan, I asked about it when we put a strange grey carrot in the soup for dinner. I was told that most Japanese people use gobo when they have a cold. This was my first introduction to the root that is now gaining popularity in the west.

Medicinally, it cleans you out and builds you up. It's great for situations when you've been exposed to something toxic (chemicals, radiation), if you've had a severe allergic reaction, if you are breaking out or have any sort of skin condition, if you're recovering or trying to avoid sickness, if you are having problems with a flaky scalp, if you have smelly feet or bad breath, or just want to experience extreme good health. Basically, it's a great addition to a super-hero diet.

Burdock can be consumed in powders and pills and tinctures, but it is best as a food and as a tea. It is mild, and it is unlikely you'll ever take too much. Know that if you do consume large amounts, detox symptoms may occur (dizziness and fatigue). Like many root medicines, I have found it is actually the most effective when heated. In fact, when eating the root itself, it is best to cook it thoroughly, which may take longer than you'd think. After a while (simmering for 20-30 minutes), it gets sweet and soft rather than tough and funky tasting. It needs to be pre-cooked or added before other root vegetables when cooking, as it takes much longer than other root vegetables. It is important not to write it off for tasting gross until you've cooked it properly.

Where can you buy it?! Asian grocery stores (ask for "gobo"), some natural food stores and co-ops (including People's Food co-op in PDX and The Olympia Food Co-op), and farmer's markets may sell it. Of course, in Japan it is available everywhere. I like to choose thin roots because they have the most skin, and they are less tough than thicker roots.

Burdock tea from fresh roots:

1/2 burdock root, sliced as thinly as possible lengthwise (julienned)
cold, fresh water

Put root into a pot of cold water as soon as possible after slicing. Put on the stove on medium high, with the lid on. Bring to a simmer, and then turn the heat on low, so that bubbles can still be seen. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Strain out the tea and drink it. The root can be eaten also, so don't get rid of it!

Extreme Burdock Miso Soup
(Serves 1-2)
The soup below is especially great for recovering from surgery, recovering from serious pharmaceutical use, and recovering from acute skin conditions (including allergic conditions). Otherwise, eat periodically to maintain good internal health.

1 burdock root, cut longitudinally (with the grain, like carrot sticks)
1 carrot, cut the same as above
4-6 shiitake mushrooms
chopped watercress (optional, but amazing)
1-2 green onions, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon miso

Put sliced burdock into cold water in a pot immediately after slicing (to avoid browning). Turn heat to high, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes, add the carrots and shiitake, and simmer for another 10-15 minutes until the burdock and carrots are soft. Add the watercress or other greens at this time and let cook for 1-2 minutes before removing from the heat. Remove from the heat and add the green onions. Stir the miso in by adding a little broth over the miso in a bowl, stir into a paste, and then add the rest of the soup. The miso is easier to break up that way.

Go get your Burdock, and let me know what you do with it!!