How to make a cold infusion

A cold infusion is used in preference to hot infusions in order to preserve heat-labile constituents in the final preparation, such as volatile oils, that would be evaporated off with heat. Cold infusions are prepared by macerating 1 part herb (in grams) in 20 parts cool water (in millilitres). The most common method is to place the coarsely ground herb in cheesecloth and suspend it in water and let it sit overnight. In the morning the herb is squeezed out through the cheesecloth, and the resultant preparation is consumed that day. Equipment and supplies mason jar and lid cheesecloth cold or tepid water herb Examples of plants best prepared as cold infusions Agropyron (Couchgrass) rhizome Althaea (Marshmallow) root Fucus spp. (Bladderwrack) and other medicinal seaweeds, whole plant Hyssopus (Hyssop) flowering tops Marrubium (Horehound) tops Mentha spp (and the Lamiaceae generally) herb Tabebuia (Pau d'Arco) tree bark Ulmus fulva (Slippery Elm) In … [Read more...]

What does free range mean?

What does free range mean?

In my recent post on my Food As Medicine blog over at Urban Diner, I make the argument that eating meat is not only a normal and natural part of our human diet, but that meat can also serve as a medicine to treat specific diseases. For example, bones and marrow bones can be boiled to make a medicinal broth that supports the health of the joints and nervous system, whereas liver is an excellent food to promote and support detoxification. While meat and animal products serve as a valuable food and medicine, the challenge for many consumers is to make sure that they are getting a reliable source. The term "grass-fed" and "free-range" are bandied around quite a bit, but as neither of these terms are certifiable, they may not mean very much either. In fact, in a survey of egg producers in the US by the Cornucopia Institute, many brands scored well below what I would call an "ideal" measure. In my own research trying to source egg and meat producers here in Canada, I have come to find that … [Read more...]

Q&A: How to get omega 3-6-9s?

What oils are best to get our omega 369s? Before I answer your question directly, let's do a little review. When we talk about dietary fats, most of the time we are referring to triglycerides, which are three fatty acids attached to a glycerol backbone. Sometimes the fatty acids are all the same type, but most often there is some natural variation. Fatty acids are made up of carbon chains bonded to together, and due to the unique properties of carbon, leaves a space on the sides of the carbon atoms to accept hydrogen atoms on either side of the chain. A fatty acid carbon chain with all the side spots filled with hydrogen is a saturated fatty acid, whereas if one spot is empty, the fatty acid is unsaturated. If there is only one spot available, then the fatty acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid, and if there is more than one spot open it becomes a polyunsaturated fatty acid. Where there is no hydrogen bond to the a carbon, the two adjacent carbons will form a weak double bond. … [Read more...]

On the Issue of Sunscreens

On the Issue of Sunscreens

For most of us summer is an easy going time where we can cast off the burden of winter, dispense with the winter coats, hats and boots that clog up the mudroom or front hall, walk barefoot in the grass and lie in the shade of the trees, meditating on the shapes of the clouds as they pass by. Yet despite what should be a rather pleasant time, for many years we have been told that summer holds out something rather sinister and almost totally unavoidable. It has become such a problem that government health agencies have instituted warnings and policies, with a rush of companies coming to our aid as responsible corporate citizens. Where it was previously celebrated not just as a symbol but the very essence of fertility, it has now become something to be feared and avoided. Is it some new dangerous drug? Has the mayonnaise gone bad or someone adulterated our favorite brand of potato chips? Nope. Something far more powerful: something that we puny humans have no control over. The … [Read more...]

Sticky Problem at the World Cup

Sticky Problem at the World Cup

It took me awhile to figure it out, but while watching the FIFA World Cup final yesterday, I couldn't help but notice something like the sound of waves rushing up the shore punctuating the commentary of sportscaster John Helm. Falling then rising at some points to become so loud as to compete with the vuvuzelas, I suddenly realized that what I was listening to was the labored inhalations of Mr. Helm himself. And while I enjoyed his descriptive and engaging commentary, the initial image of water rippling across a pebbled beach degenerated into the realization that rather than bubbling waves I was listening to the sound of wind passing over bubbly mucus. So that despite the flashes of brilliance in the Spanish offence, I was constantly reminded of the state of Mr. Helm's nostrils, and couldn't help but thinking that his struggled breathing served as a metaphor for the rather congested play of the game.  I became obsessed with thinking of reasons why Mr. Helm had such a difficult time … [Read more...]