As we march closer to self-sufficient homesteading, I find myself wondering how people survived year-round in areas with harsh winter climates. Intellectually, I know it is possible – or there wouldn’t be such a thriving Amish community in upstate New York and Pennsylvania. But it’s not just the obvious curiosity of heat, water and modern plumbing – wood, hand pumps, I get that. But how did they survive health-wise?
Everyone knows that significant amounts of nutrients are lost during the heating and canning process – and everyone knows that there isn’t a myriad of fresh produce waiting to be plucked – so just how were people getting the proper nutrients to fight disease and survive? Two words: WINTER. SQUASH. That’s right – winter flippin’ squash. We’re talking acorn, butternut, buttercup, spaghetti, hubbard, etc. Not only can winter squash be kept (in a cool, dark space) anywhere from one month to SIX months – it contains copious amounts of vitamin A and also vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, fiber, potassium, manganese, vitamin K, vitamin E – the list goes on and on. And with its remarkable shelf-life, no doubt it was a staple on the dinner table for our ancestors.
What does this have to do with herbs? I’ll be honest – not much. You CAN use herbs to make squash more delicious! I like to add maple syrup and cinnamon to acorn squash. It tastes like candy. Actual candy. We also pair spaghetti squash with black pepper and fresh-grated Parmesan.
Before I end my squash rant I want to say this: save the seeds and roast them – just like pumpkin seeds. Acorn squash seeds are a favorite in our house – they are absolutely delicious with just coconut oil and sea salt.
Years ago, when I heard the word “chamomile” I immediately pictured a boring housewife drinking tea out of a boring floral-patterned cup, carrying on about her boring life. I scoffed at the idea that tea could be anything other than a boring drink that did nothing except leave me needing a pallet cleanse – stat. Years later, Chamomile has officially become a staple in our household and gone are the days of the boring, blue floral cups.
I first starting drinking Chamomile tea as a natural way to combat anxiety and poor sleep. Now we have used it successfully to treat conjunctivitis (pink eye), allergies, burns, wounds, insomnia, inflammation, stomach aches and a host of other things. I am not a doctor or a scientist; however, I can read and clearly so can you – so let’s explore exactly what makes Chamomile so lovely and such an effective and healing herb.
Chamomile is of the Asteraceae family – so a word of caution if you are allergic to daisies, sunflowers, asters — use caution when considering Chamomile. The super good stuff contained in Chamomile is bisabolol and apigenin. When purchasing dried Chamomile for tea, oil, astringents, etc – you will likely encounter two kinds: German Chamomile (often called Wild Chamomile) and Roman Chamomile (often called English Chamomile). I personally prefer German Chamomile because I have found it to be more effective for anxiety and more soothing on my digestive system. I also prefer to buy my Chamomile in bulk from organically-grown sources.
I am always looking for natural remedies to combat ailments. Use Chamomile as a tea to soothe anxiety and stress. Make a warm compress for eye irritation. Use it as a salve to combat hemorrhoid pain. Inhale the steam to help a sore throat. The possibilities are endless!
Please consult your provider if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Roman Chamomile has been said to invoke uterine contracts and should be avoided by pregnant or nursing women. Consult your physician before adding this or any herb to your regimen.