homemade vegetable risotto

Today I made a homemade risotto inspired by the “spanish rice” that I sometimes buy packaged in boxes for a quick meal. I think this is even tastier, just as easy, and it is a geat way to get in your daily organic veggies at an affordable price. Vegetable risotto makes a great side dish to any meal, and even my kids like to eat it. (They especially like it with the feta cheese added, although I admit they do like lots of veggies and they’ve even been known to complain if I made pizza that DIDN’T come with a side of spinach…) I’ll take my blessings where I can get ’em!

What you’ll need:

1 cup organic white long-grain basmati rice
1 cup tomates, chopped (I love mini roma tomatoes sliced in half)
6 small collard leaves, carefully washed and chopped, or 4 large leaves (roughly 1 cup tighly packed)
1 carrot chopped
1 stalk celery chopped                                                                                             

1 shallot (or small onion) chopped
2 tsp red chili powder
2 tsp organic garlic powder
1 and 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 cup sheep feta (optional)
4 Tbsp canola or olive oil (just enough to coat the bottom of your pot)
2 and 1/2 cups water

Start by chopping the veggies and then adding the shallot and oil into a pot and sautee for a few minutes until translucent. Add in the spices and salt, and let cook far another few minutes. Add in all the chopped veggies, stir, then add in the rice and water. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes covered, until water is absorbed and rice is tender. Turn off heat and let cool with the lid still on for 5 minutes, then toss with crumbled feta cheese, and serve. Makes about 4 large servings, and it works really well as a leftover lunch, especially when served with a side of scrambled eggs.

Hope you enjoy 🙂

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garlic planting

Yesterday was a beautiful November day, the sun was shining and the air nice and warm- a perfect day for our yearly garlic planting! There is so much to write about garlic, one of the most medicinal and useful herbs on the planet. We’ve been growing our own garlic for about 5 years now, and I hope the coming year will be the most successful one yet! Last year we planted over 100 cloves! In June we harvested lots and lots of garlic scapes, and made lots and lots of pesto. Then in July, we pulled up the bulbs, peeled off the outer dirty layer, and gathered the harvest into big bunches to be dried and used until supplies run out (we still have lots, and it’s November!)

One thing I’m really excited about this year is that I grew enough garlic last year to save my own seed for planting, AND have enough to last for the colder months! It feels very satisfying to be able to grow something that I use so much, and be able to continue planting it year after year.

One fun thing about garlic planting is that it’s one of the only things we plant in the fall (besides flower bulbs), which is great if you want to get a last gardening fix in for the year. Prepare your beds by digging up the soil, removing weeds, and adding compost.

Then dig holes about 3-4 inches deep, 3 inches apart, in rows 3-4 inches apart. To prepare the garlic for planting, you must break it up into cloves (see above picture). We planted over 150 cloves this year, a new record for us! Plant your cloves, one in each hole, root side down, then cover over with soil and you’re good to go until next spring, when garlic will be one of the first plants to come up! You can mulch your galric patch with straw-bale hay if desired to keep the weeds out and moisture in. In June you will have scapes (premature garlic flowers) to harvest, then in July you will pull up the whole plant to use for cooking and medicinal purposes, as well as for planting the next year.

There are so many medicinal uses for garlic, but the one that always comes to mind first is the immune-enhancing quality of garlic. Allicin, one of garlic’s more well-studied constituents, is scientifically known to be a powerful antioxidant.  In addition, garlic is used to raise the white blood cell count, lower cholesterol, shrink tumors, and improve circulation. Garlic has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, so load up in the fall and winter months by adding it to your favorite soups and cooked dishes. Chopping it finely and mixing with olive oil and your favorite fresh or dried herbs (aka making pesto), and then spreading it on your favorite toasted bread, is a great way to eat it raw (increasing the medicinal effect), especially if you feel a cold coming on. As for me, pretty much everything I make has to start with garlic, or onions. I mean, I am Italian, you know!

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homemade calendula salve

This evening I made a soothing calendula salve with my daughter. She was very proud to make her first herbal salve and did most of the job herself. Calendula salve can be used to sooth any manner of skin abrasions, rashes, irritation, and/or diaper rash. And if a 5-year-old can do it, so can you!

Soothing Calendula Salve Recipe

3/4 cup base oil: organic olive, almond oil, or calendula oil
(Calendula oil is made by steeping calendula flower petals in olive or almond oil for 6 weeks, then straining out the plant material and reserving the infused oil.  We used organic olive oil to steep ours.)

1/2 oz beeswax (for a thinner, ointment-like consistency, use 1/4oz beeswax)
1/2 oz cacao butter
3 heaping tsps organic coconut oil
30-40 drops essential oil of your choice (optional. tonight we kept ours plain to use for kids sensitive areas but in general I like to add lavender essential oil)
an 8oz jar or tin (or multiple 2oz or 4oz jars if you want to make some to share)

In a double boiler, pour in the base oil. Heat gently and add in the beeswax, cacao butter, and coconut oil.  Let all the ingredients melt together, stirring occasionally.  Add essential oil if desired, and pour into jars. allow to cool with lids off.  Once cool, cap and store for up to 2 years.

enjoy your soothing herbal salve!

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Sweet Potato Coconut Curry Soup

Here’s a unique recipe for a delicious soup I’ve been making since sweet potatoes came back into season here in western MA. Why post about soup? Well because to me, good, fresh seasonal food really IS medicine.

Here’s what you’ll need:

6-7 sweet potatoes
2 cans coconut milk
4 cups water
2 good-sized onions, chopped
1-2 inches fresh ginger root, chopped
6 Tbsp cooking oil (olive, coconut, or canola)
3 Tbsp garam masala powder (I recommend frontier herbs)
2 Tbsp curry powder
2 Tbsp turmeric powder
3-4 tsp salt (earth salt or sea salt)

Start by placing the washed sweet potatoes in a baking dish and add about 1/2 inch of water. Cover the baking dish and bake at 375 for about 1 and 1/2 hours, or until very soft. Remove from the oven and cool. Once cooled, peel the sweet potatoes and set aside. In a pan, heat up the cooking oil and add in the chopped onions and ginger. Saute until onions becone translucent, then add all the powdered herbs and continue to cook on a low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure that the mixture doesn’t burn onto the bottom of the pan. If you have a blender, now you will add the sweet potatoes, onion/spice mixture, coconut milk and water into the blender, and blend until smooth (this will probably have to be done in a couple of batches unless you have an enourmous blender). If you do not have a blender, simply mash the sweet potatoes with the milk and then hand mix the ingredients together. Heat until nice and hot, serve and enjoy!

Makes about 8-10 servings

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Elderberry Immune-Enhancing Elixer

Yesterday I whipped up a new recipe for an amazingly delicious and noursishing immune enhancing formula. Here I will share with you how to make your own.


2 cups dried elderberries
1 cup astragalus root
1/3 cup echinacea root
2 cinnamon sticks
2 Tbsp licorice root
2 Tbsp dandelion root
1 Tbsp dried grated orange peel (organic only)
15 peach pits (optional, but yummy!)
2 cups raw honey OR vegetable glycerine
12 cups water

Note: If you are ordering the dried herbs, I recommend the company mountain rose herbs, as they carry the best quality organic and ethically harvested herbs worldwide.

So, start by measuring your ingredients and placing all the dried herbs in a pot. Add in the 12 cups of filtered or distilled water and cover the pot. Bring to a boil then gently simmer for 5-10 minutes. Turn off heat, leaving the pot covered and allow to steep for 8-12 hours. Bring to a simmer for a second time, turn off heat, then allow to steep again for 1-2 hours. Strain out all the plant material, then return the herbal-infused liquid back into the pot. You should have about 7-8 cups of liquid. (You can stop at this point and use the herbal infusion as is, taken as a strong tea, or proceed with the following instructions to make the elixer) Reduce the liquid by 50% by heating the liquid just enough to produce steam for about 2 hours. once reduced, this herbal liquid is called a decoction, which is basically a very very concentrated water-based medicine. Now, while the decoction is still warm mix in the honey or the vegetable glycerine, to taste. Pour into sterilized bottles and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

This formula is designed to help support immune health, especially in the cooler seasons. The herbs that are included are both mildly warming and stimulating to the immune system. You can take 1 Tbsp daily to prevent illness, or up to 6 Tbsp/day to help sooth symptoms of sore throat, colds, coughs, and congestion.  For children, give 1 tsp/day for prevention and up to 6 tsp/day to ease above mentioned symptoms.

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As a child, I had a habit of collecting wild plants and pretending to make food and medicine with the plants I had gathered.  I even tried to get my little sister to eat small pieces of our house plants when my mother wasn’t looking!  This being said, I think my interest in plants and botanical medicine started at a very early age… I hope the same will apply for my children 🙂

This is my daughter Emunah…

and my son Moshe….

and our newest addition, Shaina (eating mint leaves- her favorite pastime!)

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Welcome to Earthwise Medicinals!

Shalom and welcome to Earthwise Medicinals!  Here I write about my daily life as a wife, mother of three, herbalist, doula, and musician..  This is where I share my daily work with herbal medicine and ideas on how to make herbal medicines and healthcare products at home.  I will be discussing herbal remedies for pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and natural childcare, as well as plant identification and how to use and grow many medicinal herbs.  I share with you my vision of how to improve access in our communities to local, affordable, and gentle alternatives to health care, especially for women and children.
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