One Week into England

Eight days into our trip, what do I say?

Last night we stayed in a garden shed. A magical garden shed. Bunk beds, a sunny deck, a tree house in the little sunny orchard outside the door. Complete with a hammock.  Large gardens of bee friendly plants fill a 1/3rd of the yard, with 1/3 devoted to this little paradise, and 1/3rd to a forested area, complete with a dry composting toilet, something I’ve been wanting to see for a while!  The house in front has passive solar heat, solar panels, etc. They make their own bio-diesel, and used to raise their own food. It’s maybe an acre lot. Magical and amazing. Rather like this whole trip. I knew it would be when the falcon circled all the way around us in the hills of the Cotswold’s, on our hike.

What can I say – we are lucky that way.

My luck does not come in winning lottery, but rather in these simple very practical ways. I wouldn’t change it!

The first 8 days of the trip, I had an itinerary, with items to be seen and done. A checklist of
“To Do’s.”  Today, that ends.

While it has been amazing, I am ready to let the trip design itself from here on out. We have accommodations each night, but between the nights, it’s all open!


Traveling with my daughter has been …good.  Our only areas of conflict are generally over her reading voraciously.  Occasionally, I have to stop her to join in dinner, or to read our book on England – Sarum.  Oh, and the tempers over having left the book behind, or not having access to the next book.  Really – how can I complain?  She has been a tremendous navigator.

My joy has been to see the small things.  She packs her bag for the day efficiently and without prompting.  She builds a miniature Stonehenge in the dirt behind the rocks of Avebury. She adds herself to stories of Vikings and English history, amazing them with her knowledge of science, etc.  She learned that she loves riding horseback. We are making lists of zany English-isms, like road signs stating: Oncoming traffic occupying the middle of the Road. (Thank you – and what am I supposed to DO about this?) She is only scared of English Pubs, everything else is no problem!



Today, I learned that you can eat the giant thistle Cardoon, but you eat the stem.  I think I knew this, but today I met a Cardoon for the first time. It’s rather amazing and – intimidating!  We learned that, here in England, wheat is sprayed with a quaternary chemical to keep it short.  It looks a lot like crab grass when it is short!  We also learned that the field of odd beans we walked through was broad beans, grown for shipment overseas.  We wondered about that odd potatoe like plant with pods from the stems.

Our hostess, a wonderful gardener, identify many of the plants I recognized but couldn’t identify: the parsley like weed I had seen so often on our walks. I had thought it was a parsley, but poisonous. It is. It is hogweed. The hedges with gooseberry-like leaves and sour blueberry like fruits; sloes – I had sloe gin when I was young. Too young!  And the hawthorn berry bushes.  Wonderful information. It’s been interesting to walk through landscapes with many similar but different plants than my native home.

I had been partially identifying these items for days. My daughter and I talked about how one could do that, and the question is hard to answer.  Mostly I recognize their family, have some knowledge about poisonous cousins within families, have flipped through books on toxic plants once every couple years, in my profession. However, it is more than just the large lexicon of plant knowledge gained from books and garden experiences.   As foragers, or rather for us, forager-wanna-be’s, we develop a keen instinct and a sharp suspicion. Everywhere we go, we are identifying, comparing, then asking questions about the plants around us, confirming our suspicions, solidifying our knowledge. I admit to quite a bit of tasting, of those plants I identify as having no toxic cousins or look alikes. Sloes are very tart and astringent.  I also begin to think the plants talk to us as well. Maybe the vibrate “Don’t eat ME!” or  “Hey, I am tasty!”  We talked about the systematic ways peoples have had for identifying edible plants in a foreign environment. It is amazing to me how people have found things to eat. There are those things that ‘just’ need to be boiled twice, with water changes, and mixed with ashes, then rinsed and then are okay…. Wow! But here we are. Enough of us survived and passed on the knowledge.


I am not encouraging you to go eat plants you can’t identify. But I am encouraging us all to be curious and ask questions.


In the next few days, we hope to visit the poisonous plant garden at Ainwick Castle – we just can’t wait!!


by Tama Cathers



Check In #2 – Crash and Reboot

Check In #2 – Crash and Reboot


Well, it’s been another couple weeks. I had a pretty bad time for a couple weeks around the most recent holiday. No, it wasn’t the holiday itself. I think it was the pizza.

Yes. Pizza. I had been on the right track. The nettle tea was immediately helpful. However, I’d slacked off drinking the herbal tea. To be honest, I was mostly drinking cocoa, see previous blog for Yum! Not that it’s bad, but it’s not GOOD, like the nettle tea. I was eating well, and I started to slide, which always becomes an avalanche. I know that. Carbs lead to Sugar, leads to Coffee (my gateway drug), which leads to Latte’s…..soon I am drinking a Carmello a day…..and not sleeping.

There was pizza. And I ate the pizza. It was Mother’s Day! Then we had potatoes. Then we had hotdogs. Hotdogs aren’t even on my list as a food product, and normally I would eat without the bun – if I were forced to. However, we were running late – so I ate the hotdog and I ate the bun, then some crackers, and then ice-cream. I ran out of Walking Oatmeal for breakfast. Before I knew it I was getting latte’s on the way to work.

I stopped sleeping very well.

Well, that is no surprise!


I feel that we have to break down. It helps us define what is not working, or not working as well as we would like. Only through our failures do we learn about our successes. We learn what to fix. We re-tinker and make things work better. Where are the fragilities in the life-system I am trying to create? What are the behaviour patterns I fall into, which are not supportive? Say -why do we have so many carbs and lectins in the house?

I had already stagnated. I did not have all the pieces together. I knew one big piece I wasn’t doing. I wasn’t exercising. I was being sedentary, as per the CDC definition of >2.5 hours of moderate intensity exercise per week.

Yes, my stress had increased. Yes, yoga was nice, meditation was important. For me, however, herbs, diet, sleep….and exercise are my foundation. I was without one of my main supports. It’s hard to rebuild, while missing such an important piece.

Having started the process of actually changing my life, i.e. I’ve taken actions that will eventually pay off. I am however, still waiting for those changes to go into effect. This has actually increased my external stressors. I found myself going through periods of anger, then sadness, then calm, then…..the awful lethargy.

I started gently adding some exercise to my routine. Immediately I quit feeling cra-cray. Finding a way to change my habits, to allow myself to live healthier and more fully – that is the challenge.

Serendipitously, I later talked to a friend of mine. He is a researcher, by training and heart, and had put many of these things, and much more, into what is really a coaching program. He markets it to parents of autistic children, but it is applicable in any crash-and-burn situation. (Contact info at the bottom of the blog.)

This whole thing – It’s not Rocket Surgery, as my handsome fiancé likes to say. You know what to do – Rest, Eat a healthy diet, Exercise, Meditate, Drink some Water, Go Outside, Get some Sunshine, Be with People whom you like (Community), Sing.

You know the stuff… Me too.

We just have to do it.

That’s the only hard part.


So….. let’s go do it!


by Tama Cathers


For more information regarding my friend Chad Hinkle and his programs, contact:


For Coaching/ Autism: http://peopledecoder.com

For Marketing and Research: http://www.chadhinklemarketingresearch.com



Food Medicine, herbal medicine, Uncategorized

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





http://www.gardenguides.com/127831-raspberry-leaf-identification.html and




= good identification sites


https://www.mamanatural.com/red-raspberry-leaf-tea/ – a blog like mine, with really good recipes for teas!!!


http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-raspberry-leaf.html -Good references of studies on red raspberry leaf.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10754818 – excerpt of study on effects of RRL


1 – quote on safety

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10754818 – excerpt of study on effects of Red Raspberry Leaf tea


– Romm, Aviva. (2015).


General Info:

https://www.eastwesthealingacademy.com/herbs/raspberry/ 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.




How’s It Going and Steamed-Cocoa

How’s It Going and Steamed-Cocoa

I started this blog at the end of March, in response to my complete physical, mental, emotional and spiritual exhaustion.  I started to think about what needed to change, because a month after having Influenza, I still was not recovered.  I was not sleeping.  I was completely stressed. Work was suffering. Love was suffering.  I could no longer feed  all the things I cared about. Hell, I couldn’t even be funcitonal for 8 hours!  I realized I knew what to do. I just wasn’t actually doing it.

In thinking about the blog, I realized that I have accumulated a great deal of knowledge, and I wanted to turn that into wisdom. I wanted not only to bring accountability to myself, but also to share and encourage others. While I write about me, I am also doing so for you.

So my report: It is week 4 of this project – Project Repair Myself: It’s going well! I feel better! Definitely better.  Though this is surely multi-factorial, I have to admit I think it is mostly due to the Nettles And Sleep.

When I first started, I was just drinking nettle tea. I could feel the difference in my energy on the days I drank the tea vs. the day I did not. I got pretty sick of the plain nettle tea, i have to admit.  So I mixed it with Genmaichi – green tea with toasted rice. This is excellent and I can drink it every day, without boredom.

I also started making (and eating) the Be Better Bonbons, a source of nettle, astragalus, and ashwaganda. Lastly, this week’s batch of Walking Oatmeal also contained Nettles and herbs. So I am getting my medicine in my food every day.

What I notice: After 2 weeks, I was able, finally, to sleep at night without sleep medication, even homeopathics. This is grand! This is Super! Wonderful! I could go on, but I won’t.

Actually I will:  I am going to talk about sleep some more. I enforced a strict 9 pm bedtime for the first 2 weeks. Now my daughter tells me when it’s time to go to bed –  and chastises me if I don’t!  I think it’s good for both of us.  It sucks on the weekends; we both wake up by 7:30 even though we want to sleep in.  The 9 pm bedtime is hardest on are my fiancé and myself. He works nights, and often our time to just sit down and talk begins at 9 pm. But sleep is an ultimate healer, so it’s worth it.

I gave up almost all my caffeine. This is actually a white lie, I still make a cup of black tea in the morning, but I rarely drink more than half of it. I feed the other half to my plants.  However, I did replace my second cup of black tea (or a latte coffee!) with steamed coconut milk and plain cocoa powder. This drink is better when made with coconut milk without added sugar.


Steamed Coconut Cocoa

1- 1.5 cups plain coconut milk

(fill your mug 3/4 with ‘milk’ – steaming expands the liquid volume)

1 Tbs Cocoa powder

(Yes – I do mean baking cocoa powder)

Steam 1 – 2 minute. If you have an esspresso machine, you will here the tone change when it is hot enough.  You may need to stir the cocoa remaining on the top, into the drink. If you do not have a steamer, try warming the coconut milk in the microwave ~ 2 minutes, or heating it on the stove, until just before boiling.

Options: You can replace the coconut milk with milk or any milk replacer. That seems rather obvious, I guess.  If you have a sweeter tooth, vanilla coconut milk works well.


Personally, I really like the reduced sweetness of unsweetened coconut milk. Vanilla coconut milk, while it has only 80 calories/cup, is still sweet. The plain coconut milk, 45 calories/cup, makes a completely different drink.  It takes a moment to adjust, so don’t expect sweet cocoa. However, I think if you open your mind to it, perhaps as a hot morning drink (coffe/tea) replacement, you might find it is quite nice.  Again – this past the taste test of a sweet toothed daughter and myself.

Other options exist, of course. Milk is just fine. In fact, milk, when steamed, becomes sweeter, as the lactose becomes galactose and glucose (I can’t beleive I actually remembered that, but thank you organic chemistry, I did.) So you can easily start with milk and have a sweet-enough drink – also passing the daughter taste test.

While I am not saying coffe or tea are bad, for many reasons this cocoa drink beats coffee and tea for my current purposes.  Studies have shown strong evidence that cocoa is good for the cardiovascular system, reduces strokes, reduce the risk of high blood pressure and cancer.  It is asssociated in reducing cognitive decline in aging.  I suspect it’s better medicine if you don’t mix it with toxic good for nothing delicious sugar, don’tch think?! My tongue tells me sugar is bad for me. My doctor does too. In fact everywhere I turn I hear that: and I believe it.  Giving it up is a much more difficult than knowing you should!

I know there are stimulants, including the methylxanthines; theobromine and caffeine, in the cocoa. However, cocoa has a lot less caffeine than coffee or tea: cocoa ~5 mg, tea 47 mg, coffee 160 mg.  It has feel good/ mood modifying compounds like phenethylamine, which promotes the release of  the opiate-like endorphins.  (AAah! I LOVE that part!)  It increases serotonin, which adds to the sense of well-being, and this may be one reason people, especially premenstral women, self-medicate with chocolate.  Women are more sensitive to cocoa than men, a fact I did not know!

In the past I‘ve ranged from drinking a daily latte, various amounts of black coffee, then weaned down to two cup of black tea with milk and sugar, or milk and honey.   When I was off the coffee, I used to drink 2 or 3 cups of tea, with 2 teaspoons of sugar each.  When I kicked the white sugar out, I still had 2-3 tablespoons of honey a day in my tea.  My body still wasn’t happy with that.  I don’t feel as well thoughout the day, when I drink those items.

I think the change to very little caffeine/sugar has made a big difference. I think the move to sugarless drinks is heading in the right direction.  I especially believe in supporting health with ongoing consumption of plant products.  Self medicating – I am all for that!  That’s what I am here blogging about.  Natural health supporting plant based self-medication! Cocoa! Nettle leaf! Oatmeal!  Yeah, baby! Exciting stuff!

All of these changes make sleep a possibility. It has only been the last 10-14 days, however, that sleep has readily happened.

My energy, while not as great as I was used to before this year of stress, it lasts pretty steadily throughout the day. Most days. The huge sags mid-morning, post-lunch, at dinner, and early evening, have evened out. I still lay down after working long days, but it is much less frequent that I cannot function at all without a ‘nap.’  While I may go to my car to escape, I don’t usually nap, much less sleep-like-the-dead.

Self care, like this, is hard to continue long term. I hope to make these behaviour patterns into habits that can be sustained, even when I go on auto pilot.

Next steps: exercise and meditation. Then refining what I have already done. Then keep doing it. Again, and again.


-Hippocrates, “Let food be thy medicine.”

by Tama Cathers


Good link to the medicine of cocoa, with studies quoted, but not referenced: http://www.medicinehunter.com/cocoa-health-miracle


Chickweed, Violet and Cleavers, A Salad

Chickweed, Violet and Cleavers, A Salad

For those of us in the Northeast, now is the season of Greening-Up. Of walks outside without multitudes of layers of clothing, gloves and sweaters. I love this time of year. The air smells with green, and that is before the mowers start their constant whir.

Because now is also the “Season Of the First Mowing.”

Before you mow all that rambunctious green into a tame organized playspace, take stock. Take a walk.

Take a walk with me. Today I went for a little walk around our suburban yard. It has not been reconfigured by me into an herbal abundence – not yet. Still, it is full of rich juicy abundant offerings, goodness waiting to be eaten. So – I helped myself.

Under the old flowering cranapple tree is a plot of chickweed the size of my smallest bathroom! I have  known I could eat this early spring green, and have done so, but really just enough to make a symbolic gesture to the idea. This year is different. My daughter was out weeks ago, before the last snow, and collected large handful of the simple but tasty green. We put it in our spinach salad.

While Wiki says:

Stellaria media – a cool-season annual plant native to Europe, but naturalized in many parts of North America. It is used as a cooling herbal remedy, and grown as a vegetable crop and ground cover for both human consumption and poultry.”

Tama says – Oh! Yum! (Remember – I like tasty herbs, not bitter, pungent, strong, difficult, etc. herbs.)

Then my daughter came home with handfuls of violet blossoms. Also into our salad they went. We munched and crunched and I was surprised at how good the chickweed really was! Thank you, child, for making me prove I’d eat the greens I taught you to identify. (She never even knew it was a challenge for me.)

Viola sororia: common names, including common meadow violet, purple violet, the lesbian flower, woolly blue violet, hooded violet, wood violet, viola, mouse-ear, satinflower, starweed, starwort, tongue grass, white bird’s-eye, winterweed, and chickenwort.

Violets come in white, pink, blue, or lavender blooms. They are related to pansies (also edible.) They have a sweeter, taste than the more colorful blooms of annual violas and pansies. Violet leaves are slightly tart, and are used to make tea, but can also be eaten. Weirdly enough the ‘flowers’ are not really flowers, and the real flowers, flower only at night, …and underground.

Today, I went out to collect more chickweed. It goes well into spinach salad, and I had purchased some arugala, I thought they would pair well together. While I was out, violets jumped into my hand – a tribute to my daughter’s wisdom. In the leaves and white innocent chickweed blossoms, I spied some fresh young dandelions.

Taraxacum – that is the family name, or genus. There are many different species. We usually act like we are talking about Taraxacum officinale, but we call them all dandelions. They are in the daisy family. (I did not know that.)

Now I have to admit, I don’t like dandelion greens. I know I have green-mouth, like somepeople are tenderfoot. I know you CAN eat them, but I am not sure why you would want to.   Okay – I do know, but I still don’t like them, and that is truly a lie. But well get to that, likely in another post. To be a good herbalist and weed-eater, I picked the smallest most delicate leaves and added them to the salad as well. Maybe I wouldn’t taste them.

To my surprise another happy fellow weed peeked out at me: cleavers.

Galium aparine –  commonly called a lot of names (including a damned weed!): Bedstraw, clivers, goosegrass, catchweed, stickyweed, robin-run-the-hedge, sticky willy, sticky willow, stickyjack, stickeljack, and grip grass….the list goes on.

Stick weed is what I called it as a child. It’s great fun to stick on your friends, as it clings very well to clothes and hair. You can even throw it and it has a good chance of sticking to them. Rather like the hysagtek game – that beach game with the balls and velcro catch pads.

I loved this little guy! Our herb group add it to a smoothie and then strained out the big sticky parts. After drinking it I felt like I was a power station. However, I also remembered a grittiness to it. There was something unpleasant about that, which is why it is most often used as a ‘pot-herb.’  This means cooked.  I was sure I wouldn’t want it in a salad, but it was young and delicate looking….so I popped some in my mouth to prove to myself that it was icky – Instead, it wasn’t bad. It didn’t make me gag, not at all! So, That too went in the salad.

I did learn that green mouthed people like me, would benefit from cutting up this longer stemmed plants, so that the bites are more consistent and resemble the size of our typical leafy greens. It can be slightly disturbing to have long dangly greens poking out of  your mouth. So – scissor those babies up!

I served up a beautiful salad of mixed greens – and it all tasted good!

At the end of the day, I took my dogs for a walk. They sniffed everything and I oogled some beautiful mullen leaves hanging out by the fence. I raised an eye to the burgeoning wild garlic mustard (I mean really I am doing a favor to eat these invaders!), and nodded my head at the wild asparagus plots, noting their location for the future.

I hope before you mow, you go out and try a few of the plants offering themselves to you, right in your own yard. You might even decide you like them.

(PS – They are good for you – don’t tell!)

by Tama Cathers











Food Medicine, herbal medicine, Uncategorized

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

Food Medicine, Uncategorized

Cut the Crap

Cut the Crap

I was going to title this “A Lectin Free Diet.”

The problem is – I don’t really believe in a lectin free diet.

I believe in a “Eat Your Vegetables Diet”, and “A Cut Out the Crap Diet.”

I believe in a “Don’t Eat Out, Stupid!” Diet, and a “Willpower is not THE Answer Diet.” So I could not title this blog  “A Lectin free diet.”

That being said we are following a modified Lectin free diet. We’ll call it the Low Lectin Diet. I will explain what, why, and how I am fortunate.

Lectins are plant products that are hard for humans to digest, even after being cooked. High lectin containing foods are Nightshade Vegetables – tomatoes (seeds and skins mostly), Peppers, and Potatoes, as well as Grains, Legumes, Cashews, Peanuts. They are meant, by the plants, to be hard to digest – so we won’t eat them! They are meant to protect these foods so they pass through digestive tracts unharmed. They are part of the immune system of plants and they bind carbohydrates into sticky glumps (yes, that is a term -I just used it here, so it’s a term) that are difficult for our bodies to manage. That is a simplification of the theory behind avoiding them. I watched a long video touting an expensive probiotic and pre-biotic, complete for only $75.99 per month….. I did not get the …biotic, but the diet stuck.  Again – not because I believed in it specifically. I mean its all the same Good Diet Advice. It made sense in the same way Eat More Vegetables make sense.  Let’s be honest, we all pretty much know what we should do – it is just the doing of it that is hard!

I liked this diet, because it was conceptually simple, and a Lectin-free diet removes most all of the grains in the diet.  As you can see, this is going to remove substantial amounts of carbohydrates. That is a major factor in why I like it. I have been trying to get rid of carbs for years. There are so many issues with corn and soy and glyphosate (Round-Up). As a biologist, gardener and butterflybeelovingfuckingtreehugger, there are a whole host of other factors that make me against the company of Round–Up, Monsanto.

I also liked the diet because it still allows for seeds. It still allows for coffee and chocolate. He likes coffee. I like chocolate.

People often have problems tolerating nightshade vegetables, our most common veggies of the north Americans: tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. Honestly, I don’t have anything against potatoes, except they are another carb, and they are rather addictive.  Long ago I found I actually “Can’t eat just one Lay’s” potatoe chip. Fortunately, I can generally find the will power to avoid eating potatoe chips, even when dangerously displayed at parties, and coquettishly eyeing me at picnics. So – I am okay losing the potatoe. I am not so good with cookies. They seduce me as soon as I walk in the room. I am helpless to their innocent looks and ways. Damn the cookie!

What I really like about this diet, and the reason we changed, is that it gives my partner a framework in which to formulate his shopping and cooking efforts. You see, I am so very fortunate that he is the primary cook and shopper. Being that, he has a lot of influence in our dietary life.

My handsome fabulous man is lean, a Jack Sprat, and while I am not a Jack Sprat wife, I tend towards curvaceousness more than he. He needs the calories of carbs, though e does not care for them. I need to stay away from them, though I love them so. Let’s not talk about my cookie addiction again!

So – Diet change to Lectin free because it was the first time I could give the shopper cook a framework in which we could seriously reduce our carbs. The response is…increasing our vegetables. Bingo! I win one for Veggies! We modified the premise to include rice. I was all for wild rice, but one member won’t eat that weird healthy stuff. And it was rice or potatoes. Rice won.

I am also not saying that a lectin-free diet may not do all, or some, of the things it is purported in doing.  Maybe it is the key.  After decade of society having an ever rotating ‘the thing,’ I think by now we should all recognize that there likely isn’t one ‘the thing.”


Making this change is a slow process. We have backlogs of typical high carb foods; corn ships, pita chips, cracker…(cookies!!!!). however, as we eat them up, we are not replacing them. It’s a step in the right direction.

Secondly, we find we are a lot hungrier sooner after dinner. You just have to eat more veggies, and more often. You do know what happens when you eat more veggies. Yep – more poop, let’s be honest. I don’t mind the hunger, sometimes I can even ignore it.

The other thing that we already had in place, due to Mr. Handsome Cook, is that we don’t eat out much. He cooks. He cooks so that we have leftovers. For everyone. For every lunch. This is amazing! Honestly.

This means I no longer eat a warmed up possibly healthy frozen lunch, wrapped and lined in plastic, heated in a microwave, and full of …crap. Salt – it makes food taste better. Sugar – every tongue loves. Fat – yum yum. Plastic infused ‘goodness’ has been replaced with leftover dinners in glass or metal. So I am lucky. This whole diet thing would have been much harder if not for Mr. Handsome Sprat, Chief Cook of the Home.

So we are eating our veggies and lowering our carbs. Reducing our round-up intake, and our plastic use and …consumption.

That all sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it.  I was tired of eating plastic anyway!

by Tama Cathers

Here are a few links on lectins, just in case you want to know more.  Okay 2 links.  It’s bedtime.  More to come.


Seems informative, have not read the whole page.



Sells that pre-biotic.