Summer Ramblings & Meadowsweet Cordial

 

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We had the perfect summer afternoon for our Summer Wild Food Adventure on Sunday – a comfortable temperature, fabulous company and an abundance of herbs and flowers.

For the first time since running our herb walks in Molesey, we hit the season perfectly! Amongst some of our (almost) all-year-rounders (nettles, cleavers, dandelion, yarrow,  plantain, mare’s tail and Jack-by-the hedge) we were lucky enough to gather St John’s Wort, lime blossom and meadowsweet.

Meadowsweet has a creamy coloured flower, with a sweet fragrance reminiscent of baby talc (to me anyway) and was traditionally used to flavour mead (thus its folk name ‘mead wort’). It is a rich source of salicylic acid, which helps to reduce inflammation, however it also contains mucilage and other compounds which makes it gentle on the stomach. It also tastes delicious!

 

Janine’s Sugar-Free Meadowsweet Cordial

Makes 1 litre           

Ingredients

10 heads of meadowsweet flowers

10 dates, cut into small pieces

1 litre water

½ organic lemon, sliced

Method

Add all ingredients into a jar or bottle, cover with a muslin cloth or tea towel, leave in a cool, airy place for a couple of days.

Strain, bottle & label. There is a slight chance that the cordial might ferment and will become bubbly (and alcoholic), in which case your Meadowsweet Cordial will have turned into a Meadowsweet Champagne!

Enjoy mixed with cold, sparkly water, some ice and some additional lemon slices.

 

If you would like to learn more about our Wild Food Adventures, please do get in touch. Our Autumn Adventure takes place on 22nd September 2019.

Adventures with Fermented Foods, March 3rd 2019

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Janine and I are looking forward to continuing our seasonal herb walks and workshops and have been busy researching and trialling exciting new recipes for 2019. Why not celebrate the early spring by joining us on our fermented food adventure …

Adventures with Fermented Foods. March 3rd 2019, 1-5pm

In this workshop you will explore the traditions, flavours and health benefits of lacto-fermented foods. Learn how the inclusion of medicinal and culinary herbs will not only enhance the flavour of your preserves, but also their health properties.

Plus make and taste a range of delicious preserved foods which includes:

fermented fruits & vegetables …

• Preserved lemons • Sauerkraut • Fermented berries

… delicious probiotic drinks …

• Water kefir • Beetroot Kvass • Rejuvalac • Green Goddess Botanical Brew

 … & fermented milk / nut milk

• Almond milk yoghurt • Cultured butter & buttermilk • Cultured nut cheese

 

The workshop costs £65 per person and includes a delicious afternoon tea, handouts and recipes, plus homemade goodies to take home.

We only have 8 places for this workshop, so please do let us know if you are interested in coming along – these do get booked up quickly!

Winter Spices & Herbal Christmas Presents

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I confess that whilst it does seem to be a bit indecent talking about Christmas already (it is not quite Halloween yet …), Janine and I are already preparing for the colder months ahead.

Our Winter Herb Walk & Workshop embraces all the gifts of the season. In this workshop we will be preparing a traditional immune-supporting syrup made from elderberries and rose hips and a tea made from pine needles, to help ward-off coughs and colds; fermenting cranberries to enjoy with Christmas lunch; making delicious chocolates full of antioxidants and Christmas spice; and designing our own personal bath salts recipes – perfect as a Christmas present (or to be indulgently enjoyed yourself).

We would love you to join us as we move into this season of rest, regeneration and  celebration.

 

Winter Spices & Herbal Christmas Presents Herb Walk & Workshop, in West Molesey, Surrey

1-5pm, Sunday, December 2nd 2018, 

£65.00 per person

Includes herb walk, afternoon tea, workshop, homemade foods, remedies & handouts Places limited to a maximum of 8 people

 

For more details and to book, please contact: 

Belinda Blake on 020 8941 9259 / blakenutrition@googlemail.com

 

 

 

 

Fabulous Foods for the Menopause

 

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Saturday, 24th November, 3-5:30pm

 The Complementary Health Partnership

Sydney Terrace, The Green, Claygate, Esher KT10 0JJ

Whilst preparing some simple and delicious recipes, you will learn how foods may help calm symptoms associated with menopause and support good health in the years beyond.

Join us for an informative and delicious afternoon, to chat, make and taste a range of recipes with an Eastern theme including: Miso Soup, Teriyaki Koji Salmon, Wasabi Almonds, Lime Avocado Mousse & Relaxing Bath Treats …

£50 per person

Costs include refreshments, handouts & home-made goodies to take home.

For more information contact Belinda on 020 8941 9259

or to book, please call 01372 464 659

“Our Fabulous Food workshops are small, informal and full of enthusiasm for the amazing properties of food! I hope you will join me and explore how food affects you.”

Summer Wild Food Adventure on Sunday July 15th

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Following on from a fabulous day foraging and making delicious recipes and remedies from the abundance of fresh new green leaves and shoots in our Spring workshop, Janine and I are looking forward to our summer adventure.

The hedgerows are now filled with an abundance of flowers and by July we will be enjoying the heady perfume of the flowers from the Tilia, or lime tree.

A tisane (tea) made out of fresh or dried lime blossoms is used extensively in France on a regular basis to calm the mind and soothe a frayed nervous system or to aid restorative sleep. It tastes & looks like honey!

Why not join us on Sunday July 15th to celebrate the beauty and the properties of the summer flowers.

 

1.00-2.30pm Herb & Foraging Walk

The Wilderness, West Molesey, Surrey

Meet at the West Molesey Wilderness and venture on a relaxing foraging stroll exploring the uses of common, medicinal plants for simple home herbal remedies, in cooking & for day to day pleasure. Look at plants with a botanical lens, collect a raw summer salad besides other relevant and nutritious herbs.

 

2:45-3:15pm Afternoon Tea & Cake  

 West Molesey, Surrey

Return to our kitchen to enjoy a delicious afternoon tea with recipes created from the foraged herbs, flowers & summer fruits. Experience the exciting tastes of the past and present.

 

3.15-5pm Wild Food & Herb Workshop

Make your own bespoke remedies and foods to take home, which includes:

Rose Petal Jelly

Lime Blossom Tea

Meadowsweet Cordial (sugar-free)

& Fragrant First Aid Balm for scratches and bruises

 

£65.00 per person

Includes herb walk, afternoon tea, workshop, homemade foods & remedies & handouts. Places must be booked in advance and are limited to a maximum of 8 people.

 

For more details and to book, please contact:

Belinda Blake on 020 8941 9259 / blakenutrition@googlemail.com

Spring Wild Food Adventure on Sunday May 20th

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The May blossom on the hawthorn is in full bloom, the hedgerows are vibrant, luscious and full of exciting potential for a bit of nutritional and herbal alchemy!

Why not join Medical Herbalist, Janine and myself for our Spring Wild Food Adventure on Sunday May 20th.

We will spend an enjoyable hour and a half exploring the meadows and hedgerows, around Molesey in Surrey, gathering some seasonal wild food and herbs. We will then return to my home to enjoy a delicious afternoon tea, followed by a workshop, where you will be invited to make your own tasty foods and remedies, to take home and enjoy.

By the middle of May we are expecting the elder to be heavy with flowers, so are hoping to make:

Elderflower Cordial

Nettle Pesto

Detoxifying & Restorative Tea

Hay Fever Relief

We would love to see you!

Cost: £65 per person

Includes herb walk, lunch, workshop, afternoon tea, homemade foods & remedies & handouts. Places limited to a maximum of 8 people.

 

For more details and to book, please contact:

Belinda Blake on 020 8941 9259 / blakenutrition@googlemail.com

or Janine Gerhardt on 07930901662 / janinegerhardt@yahoo.co.uk

 

Happy Spring!

Belinda x

 

Bubbling Berries (and other adventures with fermented foods

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Every culture has a tradition of preserving foods, originally born out of necessity and a way of helping to provide foods during times of scarcity.

As a child I watched my mum boil up vast pans of bubbling jams and piquant chutneys to help make the summer and autumn fruits and vegetables last the whole year; a tradition she is still enjoying well into her 70’s.

My fascination with preserved food has grown from this as I find myself now experimenting with ways to not only preserve foods, but also to increase their health benefits. This means stepping aside from the use of sugar and instead embracing the salt.

Salt not only helps to kill off bacteria that may cause the food to deteriorate, but also provides an environment in which beneficial bacteria can thrive. As the bacteria digest the  fibres, they convert the carbohydrates into lactic acid, producing the characteristic sour taste.

And so started my adventure into the fascinating world of lacto-fermentation.

Fruit and vegetables fermented with lactobacillus cultures are not only a great source of these probiotic, beneficial bacteria but also provide the prebiotic fibre that these creatures love to feed on. This helps to ensure that the bacteria hang around longer exerting their beneficial effects: helping to support effective digestion and a strong immune system in the gut and providing us with vitamins.

Current research goes beyond this and new evidence has shown how the microbiome in our gut can even influence our mood, food choices and weight management.

So lots of good reasons to keep our gut bacteria happy and well fed!

Working a lot with children in my clinic, I am always looking for ways to boost levels of friendly bacteria in a child-friendly way. Unfortunately, the delights of sauerkraut have yet to appeal to the taste buds of most of the children I work with (including my own daughter).

What has had more success however is a recipe for fermented berries which I originally discovered in Jennifer McGruther’s fabulous Nourished Kitchen.

 

Fermented Berries

Ingredients

2 cups mixed berries (blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are my favourite)

2 tbs honey (if your honey is unpasteurized you do not need to add whey) 

2 tbs fresh whey or a sprinkling of Starter Culture

¼ tsp sea salt

 

Method

Put the berries in a pint-size jar. Press the berries down firmly with your clean hand or a wooden spoon.

In a bowl, mix the culture starter or whey, a few tablespoons of water, honey, and salt. Pour the liquid ingredients over the berries, and then fill the jar with filtered water, leaving about 4cms of space at the top. Press down with a wooden spoon to be sure the water has filled all the air pockets. Add more water if necessary.

Make sure the berries are below the waterline, using a weight if necessary (I use a Pickle Pebble). Put the lid on and leave at room temperature for 1-2 days. You know your berries are ready when they taste sour and slightly fizzy! After that, keep refrigerated and use within 1 month.

Delicious whizzed into smoothies, blobbed onto yoghurt, or made into a sauce and drizzled over porridge, pancakes or ice cream!

If you are interested in learning more about fermentation, please join Janine and I for an  Adventure with Fermented Foods from our kitchen in Surrey on Sunday 4th March 2018.

For more information, or to book, please contact us on 020 8941 9259 or at blakenutrition@googlemail.com