Food, Food Medicine, Health, Herbal Medicine, Travel

Time for Food Blogging – Jackfruit

Time for Jackfruit

Jackfruit is like some weird alien, put on the earth to confound people, and to get your hands sticky. I am still waiting for one to possibly hatch. I don’t let that stop me – it’s really tasty!   It is this a humongous, amazing, weird, tasty fruit, which you’ve probably never seen. Unless you went to an Asian market…or apparently you local Meijer’s Store.

Used to be, we had to drive an hour and a half to Grand Rapids to find a jackfruit. Finding them was spotty, and still is.  However, my husband brought home a large jackfruit from our local Meijer’s store! This is a large box/grocery store chain in Michigan.

The fruit looks similar to a Durian, another fruit you are unlikely to see, unless you frequent Asian stores, which I admit to doing, obviously!  The durian’s outside is very sharp and very spiky. To be honest, I was rather intimidated by the durian’s sharp pokey outside. I would not want to have to pick one up – an obstacle for me trying them.  Since I’ve never eaten at durian, I can’t compare the taste of the two. However, one author called durian, ”the stinkiest, spikiest, weirdest fruit of them all” and said durian smell is like ”sweaty socks sitting in sewer water near a fishery,” and tasted like “a sweet almondine onion-sherry chocolate mousse with hints of garlic and farts. Delightful! And completely incomparable to jackfruit.”   Thank goodness!  Durian are seemingly easier to come by and crowd out our Asian markets for shelf space. Not sure why. Maybe as weapons of war! You’d understand if you’d seen those thorns!

But we are here to talk about Jackfruit: Jackfruit looks similar, but the scaly bits are soft, making it look like an alien egg pod, coated in dinosaur skin. Green, a foot and a half tall by 8+ inches wide, with a reptilian skin, it does look out of this world. Inside the outer dinosaur skin, are yellow-orange pods of delicious fruit, each with a large seed in the center. A bunch of latex fingers and tongues hold them securely in place. Our job is to wrestle these pods-of-goodness out of the latex alien egg, without getting stuck to the thing. Don’t despair – it’s a battle worth fighting!

I followed the directions taped onto the fruit – they were useless. The best way I‘ve found to get to the good fruit is to put on clean rubber dish gloves, cut the fruit in half, and go to it, grabbing the pods and twisting. They twist out readily.

The fruit that you’ll receive is sweet. I (force-fed) it to friends, who (still liked me afterwards, and) described as a cross between cantaloupe and pear, or a cross between bananas and mangoes. It does have a slightly musky odor, no one else mentioned it, but it tastes great.

Jackfruit is supposed to be good for your energy, and libido. I have to be honest and say I have never noticed any affect on my energy or libido. We like it because it’s weird! Also because it’s tastes wonderful.

We are an adventurous bunch of eaters.

I hope you are too.


Jackfruit Information

Jackfruit is related to mulberries – something I did not know, and never would have guessed. They grow on the trunks of trees rather than a fruit from the branch – a popular choice in the tropics. They’re used for juice and jams, fresh edibles, and it is gaining popularity as a meat substitute. Yes, a meat substitute. Weird. Love it! Unripe jackfruit, when cooked, makes a product resembling pulled pork. I’d even heard of this, although I didn’t put the two together – my luscious orange gigantic fruit, and a vegan meat substitute.

Once harvested the fruit only lasts a number of weeks, so has to be processed and eaten fairly quickly. The trees grow in tropical and subtropical in tropical areas. In many parts of the world they’re considered trash trees, and trash food that would “only be eaten by the poor.” Similar to another of my favorites – mulberries. This bias keeps large populations from utilizing this fruit, which grows naturally everywhere within its region, and has many benefits. It could provide much needed nutrition in areas where grows naturally.

The orange bark from the tree can be used to make a dye, the color of the traditional orange robes of monks in Asia. The latex can be used as a glue – no surprise. Wood is a very hard, suitable for many items, including musical instrument. Plus the wood has a neat yellow color.

Skins have medicinal qualities – including reducing the heavy metal cadmium which damages are DNA and is a common heavy metal contaminant. The seeds are also edible, can be roasted with a little salt, and eaten. I will have to try that next time. Apparently the seeds are high enough in protein to “replace lentils in the diet.” Roasted seeds can also be ground and made into a gluten-free flour.

The jackfruit is high in antioxidants, phyto-nutrients, and vitamins including the vitamins and vitamin C. The fruit has a low glycemic index fruit, giving a slow releasing glucose – that would be a good option for diabetics. It’s also very high in fiber and helpful pre-biotic for our pro-biotics.

When jackfruit is cooked, the water is traditionally used as well. It’s particularly high in potassium and Omega-3 fatty acid’s.

In addition it’s high and all the trace minerals and vitamins, and almost anything else you think of. It is supposed to be soothing the G.I. tract, and good for G.I. ulcers.

It’s high in magnesium and so helps with insomnia.

Below are some internet references to studies, showing that Jackfruit may e helpful in people with cancer. I have yet to look up the original studies. However, in one study, women who a jackfruit regularly had reductions in multiple types of cancer, including endometrial cancer. It’s also under research or has been researched for colorectal cancer.


Website on Durian

Cover Photo by Chasmac on, other photos by Tama’s Kitchen3 (3)2 (4)1 (16)

Food, Food Medicine, Herbal Medicine, Recipes

A Recipe for Winter: Oh, So Easy Bone Broth


I have a recipe for you.: Bone Broth. Its all the rage, right now. Despite that, I love it!  Very soothing. Endlessly useful. Highly adaptable. Good for you. The most impressive thing is how easy it is. What I can’t believe is that my mother, and my grandmother never seemed to do this. It seems like a no brainer!

In the past I made broths, by cooking the leftover meat usually on the bones, for a few hours. It was invariably disappointing – weak, and not worth the effort. This is officially called a ‘Broth.” I then read about making bone broth. It is really considered a ‘Stock’, in cooking terms. This is much more worthwhile! So much more flavorful!

Research shows that chicken bone broth actually does help you heal when you are sick. Researcher at Nebraska Medical Center found that chicken soup made the traditional manner decreases the symptoms of upper respiratory infections. Low calorie soup also has been found to reduce calorie intake.

I felt great getting to use my herbs at the end of their season. I did have to dig under the leaves to find the oregano, and though my pineapple sage had died with the first frost, the leaves were still fragrant. Our whole house smelled delicious for 3 days!

Plus, my daughter loves to say vegetable butts! These ‘waste’ pieces no longer feed my compost, instead they flavor my stock! We keep them in a collecting can in the freezer. Adding vegetables enhances the flavor and reduces the need for salt to taste.  The vinegar helps the bone release their calcium into the broth, just like that old rubber chicken bone trick!


Bone Broth Recipe


Meat bones

Vegetable butts

Herbs such as rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley


1/4 cup vinegar


Place bones in a large stock pot. Add vinegar, vegetable butts, and herbs. Cover generously with water. Bring to a boil, turn heat down and simmer on low heat. Cook poultry bones for 24 hours. Cook pork or beef for 72 hours (3 days). Keep solids covered with water.

Cool. Drain liquid and discard solid remains. Refrigerate. Consider skimming the fat off once cooled, for lower calorie broth. Use within 48 hours or freeze for later use.

Happy cooking and Happy Holidays!

-by Tama Cathers, BS, MS, DVM, SC (sometimes cook), SG (sometimes gardener), SA (sometimes asleep), SN (sometimes not).


Chicken soup

Soup and calorie intake

 Cover Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash


Forewarning: These pictures turned out a little gory!


Burnout and Stress, Food, Food Medicine, Herbal Medicine, Recipes

In Pursuit of GI Balance – An Adventure in Radical Elimination Diets (Don’t Try this at Home!)

In Pursuit of GI Balance – An Adventure in Radical Elimination Diets (Don’t Try this at Home!)

I started this blog following a decline in my vitality, after having surgery. I had my gall bladder removed, which was great.  However, then I got everything: GI thrush, Influenza, every cold in my daughter’s school. I was tired, stressed, and all I wanted to do was sleep. Maybe eat and sleep.

So I started by adding more herbs to my diet. Our family started eating more vegetables. Eventually we removed most carbs. We adopted a Mostly Reduced Lectin Diet, primarily as a means to eat more veggies. It certainly reduced our lectins (protective plant proteins) which are found in potatoes, legumes/beans, peanuts/cashews, and peppers.

I also have fought cravings for, well forever. Sometime in there, I gained 10 lbs, chalking it up to age. I accepted that, but then I started having GI issues. I have always been a person whose stress shows in their guts. I thought that now, post-Gall Bladder, post Career Change, I was supposed to be on the upswing!

No upswing.

I went hiking and drank untreated water, unintentionally. I got ongoing diarrhea. Wait, maybe I’d had this on and off – but never like this! I thought I had cryptosporidia. It’s a diarrheal disease from livestock – yup – that’s who shared our water sources. In 4 – 6 weeks I should be better.

6 weeks later – I wasn’t any better.. I got treated for traveler’s diarrhea, and for giardia. I didn’t get better, but I did get GI thrush. Again.

I stopped eating Sugar and Flour. This was tremendously helpful in managing my cravings. My tongue turned pink again. This was a first.  Pink is the color our tongues is supposed to be! Mine had not been that color longer than I can remember.  However, my GI system was not better. My doctor ordered a fecal culture and testing – no cryptosporidia, nor any other pathogens. She told me to stop eating dairy and eggs. Add in fiber and probiotics.

I shifted my diet again: no sugar, no flour, no dairy, no eggs, added fiber and probiotics. It did not change my GI system.  Maybe it was the nuts. I eliminated nuts, making my daily Walking Oatmeal with seeds and my sugarless flour-free chocolate cake with seed butter.

No better. Things might even be worse. I emailed Doc for help, to ask about a plan or an elimination diet.   I was told I could come in and talk with her……In a month.


I sat down and cried. I felt betrayed. I couldn’t go another month. What was I supposed to eat! I wanted to not wake up at 3 am every morning with GI pain or worse. I wanted to go to sleep with out my belly hurting, or to spend a day without it torment me all day. I wanted not to be filled with gas at times every day. And hot damn – I wanted to stop shitting 6 times a day.

My handsome husband stepped in. He’s a nurse. I am/was a doctor of animals. We know what to do. We were going off track – without a doctor. We were going to do an elimination diet!

His plan was radical. I mean radical radical.  Nothing I could find on the net was so radicle. But it matched what he would do to a human, and what I would do to a pet.  I choose 1 meat, 1 vegetable, 1 starch and 1 fruit, then add food back one at a time. I chose chicken, rice, carrots, and papaya. We added honey, olive oil, salt, pepper and black tea, just to make it do-able.

As a nurse….or a veterinarian feeding an animal…this likely makes sense. We can do that to the creatures under our care. You just – do it.

Well, it’s not so simple, when one is the creature!

On day 1, all my GI signs went away.  Day 2 was great, husband made me ‘pizza’ with a crust out of white rice, and topped with carrots and chicken. For dessert I got caramelized carrots with honey.

On day 3, I had to eat my dinner in the living room, away from all the other families food. I couldn’t stop Watching Them Eat!  By then I had already started cheating, a little. Adding a spice, or fennel tea, or wild rice instead of white… Little cheats.   On day 5, I decided to add new foods. I was going crazy! I did not mind eating these 4 foods, they were still good and the results were great, but I could hardly stand to not eat other food. I loved the happy pain free belly I now had!  It was great! But I couldn’t eat rice and chicken for the rest of my life! So we negotiated adding 2 foods at a time: White fish and sweet potatoes. I also cheated and ate a little brown rice and a bite or two of wild rice as well.

I was back to GI-sick for 2-3 days. Obviously, I went back to chicken and rice.

On day 9, I told my husband I was not going to be able to stay on this diet for more than a day or two. I wanted to plan my exit, not be rash. But exit I must –  I was about to just off a cliff, maybe with a parachute. I wanted to drink in the morning: Every morning! (I don’t drink much at all!) I wanted to drive race cars, or set the house on fire – just a little fire… Really, I felt crazy. We made a new plan.  I continued the 4 ingredient diet for another 2 days, actually traveling cross country, and attending a holiday potluck, without cheating. I knew relief was coming!  I wasn’t even tempted to cheat anymore, in the face of the relief, because I knew how badly eating regularly had made me feel. I was not at all tempted by the holiday desserts flooding the counters everywhere. Not one bit! I swear – and it was pretty weird not to be tempted.

At the potluck, I spoke with a physician. She could not believe I was going with out sugar, eggs or dairy. She thought that was the hard and amazing part. I thought to myself, Well, THAT ain’t nothing!” By talking to her, I realized just how hard the thing I had been doing actually was – enormously hard!

I returned home and started a new plan; a modified rotating diet plan. In this plan, you choose to eat from different families of food, and not eat that family again for 4 days. There are a lot of theories as to why this may work, and lots of information as to why it won’t work. In veterinary medicine, food allergy testing is considered of no use, but practically speaking, I have seen it almost always be of some uses. This is because food allergies, which are really intolerances, they shift around. So the science of testing does not work well, but the art of food trials – now that works. We are not talking about allergies here however, we are talking about sensitivities, or intolerances.  These things shift around, mostly flaring up against the things we eat the most.  My rotating, you avoid that.  Using this plan, I could rotate through more foods while ‘eliminating them.” Maybe I wouldn’t go crazy.

I modified it because I was still more interested in an Elimination Diet, rather than rotating through a vast array of foods. I limited myself initially to choosing 4 different food families and eating those for 2 days each. I found I couldn’t manage to eat the same 4 foods for 3 days, but I could for 2 days. Beef, green beans, white potatoes, and bananas. Pork, Quinoa, Squash, and Melon (that was a little tough).

After that it was Christmas. I really wanted to eat candy, drink eggnog, and share that big block of brie I got weeks ago! I choose Chicken, rice, corn , legumes, milk eggs and mangos. That might’ve been more than 4 foods! However, that way I could eat my candy (milk and corn syrup), drink my eggnog, and eat cheese. Guess what – I was great! (I might have felt a little nausea after downing 2 candy bars in 30 minutes, having not eating sugar for 3 months, but I don’t think that counts.)

The next round was Fish again, this time salmon (steaks and Lox’s!), broccoli, amaranth, and apples. OMG! I could not even finish the 2nd day! Wow! At least I know I am on the right path – it is food. I was beginning to wonder. Good feedback and – Ugh!


Since I started this blog, I have used myself as a laboratory. Weight loss has never been my primary goal, but eating healthy has been. Of course, I wouldn’t argue with 5 – 10 lbs off!  I tried the Low Lectin Diet, which increased our vegetable intake mild to moderately. I lost no weight.  I loved the psychology behind the Brightline eating diet, and am a big believer that sugar, corn syrup and likely flour are not our friends. I tried that diet, cutting sugar and flour. I think it was really helpful in controlling my cravings. Super really. It’s a bit obsessive if you ask me. I did not subscribe, or measure my food. I just cut sugar, flour, ate meals, avoided snacks (for the most part), and I got control over my cravings. I also lost 2-4 lbs, maybe. I don’t know because my scale broke, but I do have a mirror. I eliminated dairy and eggs with no effect.  I removed nuts, shifting to seeds. No help.

I tried a radical elimination diet, way more radical than anything out there on the web. I failed to stick to the diet. Yet I feel I succeeded. Now, I am using a rotating diet, to investigate what makes me tick, and what makes me – well, sound more musical, and less comfortable. By the way, I am pretty sure I am in the 5-7 lbs weight loss range. My cravings – still mostly controlled.  When I have eaten most of my regular foods, which will take a few rotations, then I will test out the failures in each group. After that, we’ll see. I might consider this rotational diet for the sake of an eating plan. I certainly plan on continuing to eat in ways I have learned controls cravings, avoids GI distress and focuses on balance. Even if I eat sugar sometimes.

It’s all about balance!

by Tama Cathers, an independent food laboratory with feet.



Burnout and Stress, Food Medicine, Herbal Medicine, Parenting, Personal Wisdom, Yoga

Food Wisdom Herbs Yoga: A Pursuit of Health & Happiness

Food Wisdom Herbs Yoga: A Pursuit of Health & Happiness

I am re-titling my blog page. When I started out, I wanted to share what I knew. I know lots of stuff, from herbs, to mothering, to medicine. What I was, however, was in search of the right stuff to make me stronger, more resilient, and to rebuild my body systems. I put up a lot of recipes. My search and growth lead me, and continue to lead me, down pathways different than I first envisioned. My subjects are broader and my search is still ongoing. The title I first chose, it’s not fitting me right now.

So as this is the beginning of the New Year, I am putting up my New Title, to better reflect this blog.

I will still be throwing in recipes, from my current explorations as well as from the past; you know, when I ate things normally.  In addition, I will be posting some of my stories chronologically.  I want others to be able to follow a progression.  I hope the story is one of growth and flowering, or at least change. I figure it will be, because, well – that’s what I do.

I have spent 9 months trying to figure my life out, inside and out.  Inside – that means how do I eat without craving, binging, eat for health, eat for vitality. My bar has fallen recently; all I want to do is eat without GI disturbances or pain.  Outside – that means how do I work in this world in a way that promotes health for others as well as myself. How do I negotiate the world of invariable stress, while remaining balanced, even through the tuff stuff.

I am still in search of that combination that brings us balance; parenting, working, studying, developing, self-care and nurturing others, relationships rocky and smooth, exercise, writing, insights, play…

I have come a long way already, from despair to curiosity regarding work. From hope, to despair, and now to curiosity about how to eat.  I am working hard at developing new parts of myself, and beginning to untangle the web of Unseeing that wraps around all women.  I am now parenting a teenager, and learning first hand about parental toxicity and alienation.  I am deep in two yoga teacher training courses, as well as a sex coaching program. They are very hard, but good work.  I am now married, and managing the tidal waves from that. So much good stuff, turned over and ready to be examined and learned from! It may sound horrible, but it is a really really good trip.

I hope you will continue to come along.

Let’s see where we can get to, together.


by Tama Cathers, ex-Marine, Snowshoe Bunny, Hollow Cave Deep Sea Diver, Monk, and Racer Driver….Nah! Not really!


Burnout and Stress, Food, Food Medicine, Herbal Medicine

Braised Cabbage, Apple, Carrot, and Sausage with Kumquats and Mustard Seed Rice

Braised Cabbage, Apple, Carrot, and Sausage with Kumquats and  Mustard Seed Rice


I came home tired from work. Yes – the one I vehemently quit a minute ago…

I do have to eat, after all.  Different place same profession. It’s temporary. That made it was better, but I felt pretty down at the end of the day.  Okay, pretty, really depressed, grey, down, stormy, etc.  The last thing I wanted to do was cook! But I also knew I would come home feeling the same way after work each day this week. Plus I rely on left-over’s for my lunches. Pickings were slim – I was going to have to bite the bullet and cook.

I looked in my fridge. It was an odd list: some Apple Sausage, Cabbage, Carrots, Apples, and some left-over kumquats. My daughter loves them – for about 3/4ths of a pack, then these exotic little citrus fruits languish in the fridge. I like them when I eat them, but I always think I don’t. So they languish.

My fiancé would have added some bacon or at least ham, crème of something soup, and cheese. But he is off on vacation. Leaving me left-over-less. So sad!

I came up with this recipe and was delighted by the results! It’s savory, light, a little spicy, a little sweet, with little surprises of tang with the kumquats.

We’re going to talk about cruciferous vegetables, myrosinase, sulforaphane, mustard seeds and all sorts of fun things here in the next few blogs. But for now- some recipes!


Braised Cabbage, Apple, Carrot, and Sausage with Kumquats and  Mustard Seed Rice


Ingredients (4 to 6 servings)

  • 1 Tablespoon butter, ghee or Extra-virgin olive oil.
  • 1 pound of Apple Sausage or Sweet Italian Sausage chopped
  • ¼ cup sliced Kumquats.
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • ½- 1 Teaspoon whole mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons of Extra-virgin olive oil divided into 2 portions
  • 1 cups carrots sliced
  • 5 – 2 cups mixed cabbage, chopped (red and Napa shown)
  • 1 large apple chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Umami
  • (savory flavoring, make something up if you don’t have this)
  • 1 Dash Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dried thyme
  • salt, pepper and honey/sugar to taste


1) Put 1 tablespoon of Butter/Ghee/Olive Oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Sauté sausage until brown. Add the Kumquats, cracked pepper and whole mustard seed. Cook 1-3 minutes; the less you cook the mustard seed, the spicier the dish will be. Remove from skillet and set aside in a bowl.

2) Add 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil and sauté the carrots for 3-5 minutes until colorful.

3) Add the cabbage, carrots, and apples. Sauté stirring well, until cabbage wilts, about 3 minutes.

4) Return the sausage/kumquat mixture to the pan, mix well.

5) Add a Dash of Worcestershire Sauce, then the other spices, mixing well. Lastly, add the balsamic vinegar. Cover 1 minute.

Serve hot with Mustard Seed Rice generously flavored with sushi rice seasoning.

Mustard Seed Rice #1

1 cup rice of your choice

1 teaspoon to 1 Tablespoons Whole Mustard Seed

½-1 teaspoon salt

Cook as directed.

Serve hot.

Once cooked, mustard seeds are not terribly spicy. They do add interest visually, and a nice crunch to the rice. I prefer this to plain rice. But I am just like that, you know!


Mustard seed rice #2

1 teaspoon ghee

½ – 1 tablespoon mustard seed

Rice, cooked as directed

Before serving rice, add ghee in a pan, add yellow, white or brown mustard seeds, or a mixture. Remove from heat when the sputter and start to pop. Add these to the rice and serve immediately.





Food Medicine, Health, Herbal Medicine

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

My daughter has just turned into a teen, a cycling teen-aged female, but still has the palate of a child (rather like me!). Those facts are important. We have to be able to make our herbal consumption part of regular life!

There are so many lessons to be learned as we grow, and our body has much to teach us. The transitions between childhood and adult, between listening and hearing, are hard, but vital. Listening to ourselves is a skill that takes decades to develop, and longer to hone. Listening to our bodies, listening to the little voice inside our minds. These are all really important tasks to maintain balance.

*   *   *

Tea Recipes:

Basic Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

1 tsp to 1 Tbs of loose leaf red raspberry leaf

1 cup of boiling water.

Pour boiling water over leaves and steep for 10-15 minutes. Strain the tea and drink.


To make a gallon, just 3/4 to 1 cup of Raspberry Leaf per gallon of boiling water. Leave overnight before straining for a strong tea. Refrigerates well.


For Adrenal Fatigue

4 parts Raspberry Leaf

1 parts Nettle Leaf


For Morning Sickness

Add 1 part Peppermint Leaf for help with nausea during early pregnancy.


Disclaimer: Ask your doctor before consuming any herbal supplement during pregnancy. If you experience cramping, either discontinue use or reduce your intake.


The tea does NOT taste like raspberries, but my daughter is willing to drink this. The taste is pleasant, a little like black tea, but without the caffeine. I can often convince myself for weeks to months at a time, that it is ‘tea.’ When I get bored, I mix it with green tea or toasted rices green tea, or better yet, toasted rice green tea and nettles.

By drinking Red Raspberry Leaf Tea 3 times a week I was, previously, able to totally stop all menstrual pain. It was quite amazing.

Did I do it regularly – No – But I should have! At the time it felt easier to suffer and then swallow a pill, than to make a cup of tea a couple times a week. I am hoping to teach my daughter a different way.

*   *   *

Red Raspberry Leaf is wonderful in many ways. First, it is so common and easily identifiable. In North America, most wild raspberries are red raspberries. They spring up in almost any sunny disturbed area. They grow around the edges of the soft ball fields, the parks, the cow pastures, the forest edges, etc. They are easy to identify, even without the berries. My favorite identification is eating the Red Raspberries! My second favorite way is the back of the leaf. The underside of the leaf is whitish. Blackberry bushes look similar, but the underside of the leaves are green. Umm – and they have blackberries! (Yum, yum, yum…In my mind, I am stuffing my face with little berries borne of sunshine! Black, red – who cares! Well, I do if I am making tea, but not if I am eating berries!)

In the fall the leaves blush red, instead of black, like a blackberry. There are many good websites for further identification, but I suggest you have a person who knows Red Raspberry introduce you to the plant. I think we learn best from the plants and people, and books are a far second contender, especially for identification.

For those science geeks like me: red raspberry, is Rubus idaeus – the Eurasian red raspberry.   The eastern North American black raspberry is Rubus occidentalis. Most propagated berries are combinations of the two. Common Names include Red Raspberry, Dewberry, Bramble Fruit, Thimble Berry. Like an old time thimble, these berries do not have a core in the center, that is a differentiating trait between raspberries and black berries.


Red Raspberry leaf is easy to harvest, but gloves or scissors help you avoid the small thorns. I rarely have such devices handy when I come to a rich stand of summer happy Red Raspberry, and I just make do. I usually snap the compound leaves of at the cane, as the junction is easy to snap. Dry the leaves, generally this is accomplished by hanging bundles upside down in a dry non-sunny area. I spread them to dry, in a well ventilated area. They can mold easily, so be sure to take care of them, so they do not stay moist. The oven often seems too harsh, but a few hours in a dehydrator should work well too. Next, shred them/ crumple them in a sac. Pick out the stems. Now you have Red Raspberry Leaf tea. If you decide to purchase it as a packaged tea, use 100% red raspberry leaf. Other teas may be labeled “raspberry,” but often are blends of rosehips, hibiscus, raspberry leaves, and…raspberry flavor (Gasps of Horror!) That is not what we want!


Red Raspberry leaf is loaded with vitamins: Vitamins C, E, A, B including niacin. It is also a good source of macro-minerals: magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, and calcium, as well as essential trace minerals such as zinc, iron, chromium and manganese.

Plant constituents include: polyphenols; like tannins and flavonoids, like quercetin and kaempferol. Polyphenols act like antioxidants, and may help slow aging and diseases such as cancer. In addition, raspberry leaves contain phenolic acids and plant alcohols. All of these likely contribute to the effects the plant has on humans.


Red Raspberry Leaf has so many wonderful traits:

As an herb it is astringent, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, Antioxidant, Anti-Cancer, Anti-inflammatory, Emmenagogue (helps your period start). It has been historically used for antiseptic and anti-microbial properties. It has been used in Chinese herbal medicine for thousands of years (Fu-p’en-tzu = Rubus strigosus) Red Raspberry Leaf was also extensively used by Greeks, Romans, Chinese and Ayurvedic physicians.

For Reproductive health, it is good for managing menstruation, for heavy periods, for lack of periods, and for menstrual pain. I can attest to that! It increased fertility in men and women, During pregnancy, it is used to prevent or decrease morning sickness, to reduce miscarriages and to ease labor and delivery. Postpartum, raspberry’s astringency is used to help with bleeding and swelling as well as to restore tone to the uterus.

While considered a women’s herb, it is good for the whole family. Red raspberry leaf tea helps support the prostrate health, may lower unhealthy blood pressure and support control of blood sugar levels. Due to its high mineral content, it also may help reduce leg cramps, and improve sleep, for women, men, and children. For teens consider that is used to treat acne, canker sores. In children it is used to treat diarrhea, vomiting or the flu. As a whole family herb it is used for cold and fevers, sore throat, gingivitis, anemia, and adrenal fatigue. (Hence we circle around to hwy it is on my blog today!)

The tannins in raspberry leaf give it astringent properties which make it soothing both internally and externally. Made into a strong solution, raspberry leaf tea or tincture can sooth sunburn, eczema, and rashes.  Other external uses include: poultice, irrigation for sores, minor wounds, burns, and ulcers and varicose veins.

*   *   *

Controversy = Safety in Early Pregnancy

According to research there is some controversies about the safety of this herb in early pregnancy. One source says

 “Some medical and popular media make reference to raspberry leaf tea as something to avoid during pregnancy for risk of miscarriage. This notion stems from a study conducted in 1954 where fractions were isolated from Rubus sp. and applied in vitro to the uterine tissues of guinea pigs and frogs. The scientists discovered such things as one fraction acted as a spasmolytic whereas another caused uterine contractions. Herein lies the risk of isolating the parts of a whole. When used as a whole plant, neither action is exacerbated and the herb is deemed safe. If a mother is prone to miscarriages she may feel safer avoiding raspberry until the third trimester. This is an herb with centuries of safe use behind it, there is usually little cause for concern.” – Mother and Child Health, Dec 7, 2016

As always, it is important for you to do your own research. Most sites I visited discussed the theoretical safety issues, some of the women even gave it up during their first pregnancy, only to use it and become believers later. You have to use your judgment, listen to your body, and ideally, have some relationship with the herb to use it well. In everything, moderation. I want to encourage you, however, to investigate this friendly, helpful, common herb.

by Tama Cathers



and and


= good identification sites

Recipes: – a blog like mine, with really good recipes for teas!!!

Safety: -Good references of studies on red raspberry leaf. – excerpt of study on effects of RRL

1 – quote on safety – excerpt of study on effects of Red Raspberry Leaf tea

– Romm, Aviva. (2015).


General Info: Chinese herbal medicine properties.



Weed, Susun. (1986). Wise woman herbal for the childbearing year. Woodstock, NY: Ash Tree Publishing.

Gladstar, Rosemary. (2001).

Rosemary Gladstar’s family herbal. North Adams, MA: Storey Books.




Ask your doctor before consuming any herbal supplement during pregnancy. If you experience cramping, either discontinue use or reduce your intake.

More disclaimer:

Information offered on my websites is for educational purposes only. I make neither medical claim, nor intend to diagnose or treat medical conditions. Links to external sites are for informational purposes only. I do not necessarily endorses them nor am in any way responsible for their content. Readers must do their own research concerning the safety and usage of any herbs or supplements.



Food Medicine, Health, Herbal Medicine

Walking Oatmeal

Walking Oatmeal

These nice little handfuls of yumminess are my daily breakfast now, and a good way to secretly add supportive herbs to my diet. These started with learning that people who eat oatmeal on a regular basis can lower their cholesterol. As an herb, oats are soothing and kind. I needed a breakfast I can grab and walk out the door with, set aside, and nibble on until gone. However, cold oatmeal is not so attractive. I found the basic recipe for these, then continued to develop them. They can be made vegan, vegetarian, or you can add the eggs as I do.   30 seconds of warming will make these delicious and warm.

This nice plain recipe is made to be adulterated to your needs and desires. Just start here and add things as you feel comfortable. Your Walking Oatmeal will evolve and change with supplies, season and familiarity. Below the plain recipe, I will give you my current herbal recipe.


Wet Ingredients:

4-5 mashed bananas (old ones work best)

4 eggs (optional)

½ cup apple sauce (optional; you may need this or 1 more banana if you skip the eggs)

¼ cup coconut oil – vegetable oil of your choice

¼ cup sweetener – maple syrup, honey, agave, etc

2-3 teaspoons vanilla

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Some berries, nuts or chocolate chips if you desire.

Mix well.

Dry ingredients:

5-6 cups old-fashioned rolled oatmeal

Mix into wet ingredients until a thick shapeable consistency, but not crumbly.

Optional: ¼ cup mini chocolate chips

(Makes eating with hands a little more messy, but adds yumminess and kid-friendliness.)

Using ½ to 2/3 cup, shape into large biscuit type formation. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 25 minutes. Cool. Store. Good for 7-10 days. Can be frozen and thawed.


As I am trying to eat my medicine, but still like my herbs and food to taste good (to me), I have evolved this recipe. I can still get my daughter to eat them, so I think I am doing pretty well. She likes them with chocolate chips, of course!


Wet Ingredients:

4-5 mashed bananas

½ cup apple sauce (optional; you may need this or 1 more banana if you skip the eggs)

4 eggs (optional)

¼ cup coconut oil – vegetable oil of your choice

¼ cup sweetener – maple syrup, honey, agave, etc

2-3 teaspoons vanilla

Mix well.

Middle ingredients:


2-3 Tablespoons of cinnamon,

2-3 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper (optional)

½ cup or more of finely shredded nettle leaf


¼ cup of powdered herbs of your choice: ashwaganda, astragalus, hawthorn berry  powder, rhodiola… I usually choose 2-3 of these.

1-2 tablespoons ground olive leaf (olive leaf is rather bitter)

Other optional spices: ginger, cardamom, garam marsala…

Dried Berries/Etc:

½ cup cranberries and

¼ to 1/3rd cup of currants and

¼ to 1/3rd cup of raisins

Add other berries as desired: blueberries, elderberries, gogi, Candied dried ginger is nice in the winter.

Optional: ¼ cup mini chocolate chips

(Makes eating with hands a little more messy, but adds yumminess and kid-friendliness.)


1/4 to ½ cup of the following nuts of your choice:

Pecans, Walnuts, Almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pistachio.

(For low lectin diet do not use cashews or peanuts)

Dry ingredients:

5-6 cups old-fashioned rolled oatmeal

1/3 cup ground flax seed (because it’s good for you = optional)

Mix into wet ingredients until a thick shapeable consistency, but not crumbly.

Using ½ to 2/3 cup, shape into large biscuit type formation. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 25 minutes. Cool. Store. Good for 7-10 days. Can be frozen and thawed.

by Tama Cathers