Fermented Beetroot Kraut

So after one month of eating healthily, adding lots of raw dark green leaves to every meal, and not a drop of alcohol I feel fabulous, really clear and productive. At the turn of the year I promised a kind of post festive excess, liver repair entry – and suddenly we are the other side of Imbolc already! I am pleased to see the light staying incrementally longer each day and a few very hardy plants bursting forth with new life. It reminds me spring is not so far away.

My original plan had been to talk about dandelion, burdock and milk thistle a trio of real powerful allies for your liver. But in light of my latest spurt of productivity I wanted to share with you my recipe for Beetroot Kraut – not only good for cleansing and supporting the liver but also supportive of the entire digestive system due to all the probiotics (friendly bacteria) it contains.

Even if you have never made a ferment before I think you will become a convert once you discover how simple it can be!

To be honest I only came up with this idea as I still had a large number of beetroot lingering at my allotment and rather than let them go woody and unpleasant to eat I hatched this plan to turn them into a real liver cleansing digestive tonic.

beetroot and red cabbage

So here goes. Firstly you will need fresh raw beetroot, make sure you trim the tops and bottoms and really scrub hard or peel before you weight them. Making a kraut with beetroot alone is hard going. I know that because the week before I made what follows I made a simple beetroot only kraut. To be fair it fermented perfectly and tastes great but to ferment correctly you will need to massage the ingredients until lots of juice runs from them, enough to cover all the ingredients; and with beetroot alone that was a big job. So for my second attempt I combined with red cabbage as I know from making traditional sauerkraut that cabbage is much much easier to get the required quantity of liquids to flow from.

So the quantities I used were 300g beetroot, 600g red cabbage (remembering to discard the thick bit at the base and outer leaves before weighing), 4 teaspoons sea salt. That is it. If you want to make less just halve all the quantities.

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I used a julienne slicer to get my beetroot to the right size and I sliced the cabbage thinly as if I was making coleslaw. The next stage can get a bit messy – with clean hands massage the mixture of salt, cabbage and beetroot in a large mixing bowl. Actually although my hands went bright red at the time the stain didn’t last – so don’t panic! Also don’t worry if it looks like a ridiculous quantity to begin with, the volume will have reduced by half by the time you are ready to bottle it.

massaging beetroot kraut

Just keep going handful after handful squeeze and massage. After a few minutes you will notice the mixture becoming quite wet, a few more moments and when you squeeze liquid will drip from your hands back into the bowl. This is perfect. Just keep going until there is enough liquid to cover the cabbage beet mix.

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Then spoon the mix into sterilised jars, I prefer to use wide necked Kilner style jars. Push it down in the jar to eliminate any air gaps. Finish up by pouring the liquid over the mix. The liquid should fully cover the kraut. If the kraut is not properly covered the top layer will probably not ferment properly and could potentially spoil the whole batch. You may have heard in many fermenting recipes that you need to have a weight pushing the kraut down under the liquid – I have never found this necessary – as long as you have enough liquid you won’t need one.

The next stage is just to leave it somewhere away from direct sunlight but in a position where you will see it and not forget about it, then just leave it to do its thing. You can start tasting at about 5 days. If it still tastes salty then the process is not yet complete. The longer you leave it to ferment the softer it will get and the flavour will develop. Keep checking every couple of days until you like the texture and taste. That is it!! Told you it was going to be simple.

Things to look out for are a discoloured top layer, or mould. If you see mould I would discard the lot as just scraping off the bad bits wont get rid of all the mould spores, it is just not worth risking it. If the top layer is discoloured just remove that and discard (compost is fine – it is still raw after all), underneath it should be fine.

That is medicine in a jar. No need for supplements, tinctures, powders that you forget to take after day two! Just keep eating the kraut regularly. It goes with most meals and I think it is properly yummy. The benefits you will receive will be vast and your only investment is half an hour massaging and a pair of slightly pink hands 🙂

If you are interested in taking things a bit further; having a cleanse and embarking on a Spring Renewal Journey I have prepared a four week e-course that you can join at any point and work through in your own time. You can find full details and a chance to sign up here…

 

How Fresh Air Can Cure The Blues…

beautiful ocean sunset

There has been many a time I have stood in a place of nature and been awestruck by the beauty of my surroundings. In such moments nature has a way of instilling humility. Time and again my problems and concerns have faded to nothing as I feel the vibrant energy of the place sweeping through me. The experience, having delivered temporary reprieve from my internal dilemmas, allows me to return to my day refreshed, invigorated, and clear headed, with everything back in perspective.

It is hard not to have feelings of awe in nature when surveying a beautiful scene. Taking a walk outside, even just to the local park, helps lift ones spirits when one is feeling down, especially when you stop and just sit, paying special attention to a trail of ants, or an attractive flower. Nature draws you in, and gives you a moment of pause, of peace. In that moment, when you are drawn to start looking at, and feeling, something else, your focus on what has been bothering you drops away.

The same is true with anger. There are many times I have stormed off in a huff, walking away from an argument, retreating to my allotment. When I arrive after an altercation my urge is to yank out weeds muttering under my breath, and yet straight away I see the violence in this and my temper begins to abate. Within ten minutes I have calmed right down, and within thirty I can clearly see both sides of the story. A space opens up in my mind and becomes filled with understanding, ways to moderate my behaviour, change my approach, or even a potential resolution.

allotment scene

Why does this peace and calmness descend? What is it that touches us so deeply and transforms our mental state so rapidly and radically? It is the touch of the wild. We were born wild and inside of us, at our core, we will always remain wild. Nature is a part of us, and we a part of it. In our busy modern lives, where we barely take a breath of fresh air from Monday through Friday, we lose our essential connection; pressure and anxiety start to build. Without food your body goes hungry, without daily connection to the wilds of nature your spirit goes hungry – it’s as simple as that… 

My solution is to Rewild Yourself! To make a conscious physical connection to all that is wild and natural on a daily basis – standing outside with your morning cuppa breathing in fresh air and watching the clouds, walking barefoot in the park on your lunch break – you don’t have to live in the wilds to connect with them.

It is also essential to acknowledge the wild spirit in the wider than human world. We, humankind, are not alone we are part of a huge all encompassing energy matrix – don’t isolate yourself from this – acknowledge it. Talking to the birds and the trees, the wind and the sea, will draw you back in and deep down inside you will rebalance as your wild self will know it is surrounded by kin, that it is home…

Just some thoughts – a few days late for Blue Monday perhaps, but useful to remember whenever the blues hit!

If you would like to read more about my approach I recommend my book Rewild Yourself: Becoming Nature ~ or if you feel ready for a natural life changing process filled with easy steps to transform your life then maybe you should consider registering for Sacred Ecology: A Rewilding Apprenticeship which begins April 20th 2017. Either way ensure that you make time to feel the wind in your hair and the cold fresh rain on your face every day 🙂

Forget not the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair” Kahlil Gibran 

New Year, New You!!

So here we are, another new year, with plenty of good intentions, resolutions even. What are you planning for the coming year? What would you like to change in your life right now? After a fortnight of family time, parties with friends, meals out, treats and drinks I for one intend to eat a bit less, avoid alcohol and exercise a bit more – sound familiar?

But does it go deeper than that for you? Do you want to take it further than a few healthy weeks before slowly but surely slipping back into old patterns?

Rewild Yourself

Rewild Yourself

The most effective way I know to make profound and lasting changes in your life is to welcome in the wild. To recognise the wildness inside of oneself and nurture and feed that part. We all need connection with the wildness in the world, we were all born wild animals yet our lifestyles from birth have tamed us, domesticated us to the point of disconnection with the wider-than-human world, to the point where many people are stressed and anxious, trapped within the walls of our everyday, a circumstance of our own creation.

Humankind, through our high levels of consumerism, through treating the world as an inert object ripe for exploitation (with no come back), has broken off the deep levels of connection we once shared with all life. Instead we replace it with objects, we fill our homes with things to entertain us and in so doing continue on the path of destruction, mining , harvesting, damaging and destroying. We have become insulated from the destruction by hiding away in our homes, avoiding statistics about habitat loss, species extinctions, and pollution events. But it is still all there in the background and we know it.

Most people despite avoidance tactics still feel it, deeply in their hearts. You may not make the direct connection instead perhaps just feeling lethargic, depressed, anxious or empty – but that is a message from your wild heart telling you there is something more, something that you are missing.

My response over the years has been search to for a lifestyle that is more fulfilling. That search has taken me back to my beginnings as a wild animal, dependent upon the world around me for nourishment, for energy, for a healthy state of mind and a feeling of purpose. That journey to wholeness has been one of rewilding and was the subject of my 2015 book Rewild Yourself: Becoming Nature.

Rachel Corby Rewild Yourself Becoming Nature book Gateways to Eden

Last year (2016) I ran Sacred Ecology: A Rewilding Apprenticeship for the first time, to pass on what I had learned to others that feel a similar call. Teaching and sharing what I know has been a great deepening and widening experience as I learned so much from my first year of apprentices, as they all learned not just from me and each other, but most of all from the wild lands which we inhabit, and their own wild hearts.

Booking for this years apprenticeship, which begins at the end of April, is now open. If you would like to remember what it feels like to be wild and free, to feel cold dewy grass on your toes, to listen to the whispers in the wind, to communicate with the Sacred Earth, to make natural medicines and ferments, to forage for wild edibles, to sleep under the stars, to develop your intuitive awareness, to know and move your body consciously, to be aware on every level – then you may just want to join me and see where rewilding yourself could take you. Full details of this years apprenticeship can be found here…

I would love to share this energising, life changing, empowering, rewilding, co-creative journey of reconnection with the wildness of the world and with your wild self, with you. Let this year take you beyond a few weeks of January clean up, let it infuse into every cell of you, make the change, rewild yourself!

Sacred Ecology: A Rewilding Apprenticeship

Winter Solstice 2016 ~ Remember Yourself as Gaia

Solstice greetings to one and all! Today, the shortest day, the longest night, a moment of pause before the sun makes it’s return and warms our bones once more.

urban winter sky

There has been much darkness this year, much fear has grown and been fed by worldwide political situations. Anger, and hatred even, has been awoken and fed by the media. Friends argue fervently their political opinions and some you thought you knew have exposed a side you had not recognised before. Most of all perhaps has emerged a sense of hopelessness in the face of a world where corporations are clearly directing things from the wings, while people descend into bickering and arguing, where people have become divided, where people march against democracy, where people are attacked by law enforcement agencies for standing up for the right to have clean water not just for themselves but for all their relations.

Never before has it been more important to remember the interconnectivity of all life. Each single individual one of us is connected energetically with everything else on this planet, with the planet. This is not new age wishy washy nonsense but quantum physics, science.

So take time this solstice to say your prayers to the Earth, to stand outside with bare feet, breathe the winter air deep into your lungs and feel you toes go frosty cold. Take time to be grateful for this abundant life. And as you stand with chill air on your cheeks watching the sun set on the shortest day, think of everything that made you, everything that you are. The air that you breathe – that circulates in and out of all other animals, that is absorbed by plants for its carbon dioxide and expelled refreshed and oxygen rich. The water that makes up over 70% of your body – that is held for 100s and 1000s of years in glaciers and ice shelves, that is transported in clouds, that trickles through into underground aquifers or travels on the surface in rivers and streams journeying to lakes and oceans. The flesh on your bones that is made from the food you eat – the plants, the fungi, the seaweed, perhaps the flesh of other animals that in turn also came from the plants that clothe this planet. The unknown mysteries that create your spirit and consciousness, that spark that makes you you, and that you can see glowing in the eyes of those you love, and those you have yet to meet.

We are truly made from the Earth, from Gaia, we cannot live without her, we are dependent upon her for everything – and yet we are not separate, we are her, we, each one of us, is Gaia. We are Gaia. Everything is in our hands. We have the power collectively as Gaia, we are all there is. Fear, anger, injustice, politics, greedy corporations – we allow them to exist – we alone can diminish their power. It is not hopeless.

If the shadows appear to be growing darker, it is because the light that casts them is getting brighter. Daniel Pinchbeck

In Peace ❤

winter sky

 

December ~ Remedies For Overindulgence ;)

It’s that time of year again where healthy eating habits tend to go out the window and alcohol consumption, despite best intentions, increases. From personal experience I have found that the cleaner I am for the most part, those moments when I do fall off the wagon seem to hurt just that much more. So if like me you have become a light weight the following remedies may just ease the pain in the coming weeks – alternatively, like one of my dearest friends, you could go to a meditation centre half way through December for a 21 day silent meditation – personally I am not ready for that quite yet!

Overindulgence comes in many forms and for many of us it will involve eating over the coming weeks. For me it is not so much over eating, but eating foods I would usually avoid, alongside eating at strange times of day and night. Starting any meal with “bitters” whether that is a plate of dark green raw leaves, drops of bitter tinctures (such as wormwood or yarrow), or a cup of a bitter herbal tea, will help stimulate the secretion of bile and digestive juices. Bitters also slow the entry of sugars into the blood stream, make us more sensitive to insulin and curb our appetite, so as you can see it is a great idea to consume them all the time but especially when being presented with a big roast or snacking on finger food.

a serving of raw bitter leaves

a serving of raw bitter leaves

Mint and chamomile are two teas that would work well as a pre dinner bitter drink. If you miss the bitters before you eat all is not lost as mint, chamomile and ginger can all help with the post dinner bloat. Chewing on a piece of fresh ginger or simmering gently to make a tea can help with nausea, indigestion, flatulence and will improve liver function and help weak digestion. Chamomile eases heartburn and nausea and will calm inflammation of the gastro-intestinal lining. Mint can also ease indigestion, flatulence and nausea. Fresh mint leaves crushed and rubbed on the temples can help with a headache – which brings me to the next overindulgence – alcohol…

 

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fresh young coconuts

 

Water is so obvious – not just drinking a pint before bed and first thing on rising but also drinking a small glass of water between each alcoholic beverage will slow your drinking down and keep you hydrated as you go. Failing that I find that drinking coconut water, naturally rich in electrolytes, goes a long way to help with rehydration and is somehow easier to drink if you are feeling a bit rough the morning after. I am not a big fan of eating out of season but a handful of strawberries the morning after (and preferably also the night before) can really help your body bounce back – as an antioxidant they have a cleansing effect on the body, are a tonic for the liver and blood, and they help protect the stomach lining.

Another thing you can do to ease a hangover is to take a lovely soothing warm bath with a handful of Epsom salts in. The Epsom salts will help draw out toxins and metabolic waste that the liver has converted into water-soluble compounds and relax your tired achy muscles.

wild dandelion finding an urban niche

wild dandelion finding an urban niche

I don’t tend to use herbs to intensively clear my blood or liver if I am about to abuse them all over again the next night. However, once the silly season is over I like to put a lot of love back in to my liver and give my system a herbal mini cleanse – with a course of milk thistle, dandelion root, burdock root and wheat grass shots  – more about that in January…

If you are interested in learning more about using simple remedies, or are wondering what to buy your plant loving friend for Christmas then check out a copy of The Medicine Garden.

Don’t forget that going outside taking a deep breath of fresh air and if possible taking a walk in the woods are all deeply restorative to both body and spirit. Keep well and be happy 🙂

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This Years Learnings, Mulching & Feeding Me Like Fallen Leaves…

So the temperature outside is crispy cold and the sky is bright blue, the leaves are in the midst of changing from green through yellow, red and russet. I love this time of year. As the leaves begin to drop and create their crispy brown litter all around I too find myself shedding much of what the year so far has been to me. Just as the fallen leaves mulch down around the base of the trees providing nutrition as a slow release to be reabsorbed through the winter roots I will use the lessons I have learned this year, the joys and the sorrows, to help inform my path and feed me with insights for what is to come.

fallen autumn leaves

fallen autumn leaves

I have only 2 evening sessions of teaching remaining before this year ends, my energy is turning inwards, so that the darker months can be spent brewing, gestating new ideas to birth when the days begin to lengthen once more and the fresh new growth begins once again. Already I have quite a lot in place for next year with regards to teaching but I do feel a change coming and a need to deepen, to take it further.

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My first offering of 2017 begins at the time of Imbolc midway between the lunar and calendar dates for this seasonal acknowledgement of the cycle of life; the return of fresh growing leaves from the dark underground depths. Amazingly this series of evenings is already full ~ mass consciousness of plant consciousness is growing ~ what a wonderful thing! How wonderful to witness this growing hunger for listening to the call of the wild, to our green relations.

In response I have added a new set of dates for the evening series “Sacred Plant Teachers ~ the art of the invisible” that will run through April. In May I will be running an “Introduction to Communicating with Plant Spirits” day, and later in the year a week long “Sacred Plant Medicine Immersion”. If you are interested in any of the workshops I have mentioned please go to my workshops page for more details.

Also beginning in April will be “Sacred Ecology: A Rewilding Apprenticeship“, this will be the second year that I am running the apprenticeship. This years apprenticeship was an amazing journey into rewilding and I was truly delighted that even during the first weekend my apprentices were suggesting that they would like a year two, to continue deepening and exploring their own wildness and wild connections. So I am also working on “Weaving Wildness” which will be the follow up for previous apprentices. To read feedback from some of this years apprentices click here…

Hawthorn

Hawthorn

As I sit in my office it is cold, and I am thinking a lovely hawthorn decoction would warm up my chilly little fingers. The hedgerows are still full with many gifts, so if you have not yet stored up for winter it would be good to do so soon. I am going to drain off my last tinctures of the year and pot up some little cuttings salvaged from a dying house plant -not really the right season for this, but hoping the newly emerged roots will take the slow winter months to grow strong – time will tell. While I wait to find out I think I’ll go and put a pan on and simmer up some of those beautiful deep red haws…

 

Tumeric & Black Pepper Oil

I was first introduced to the wonders of turmeric by a friend of mine several years ago. She suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and had begun to use it on a daily basis finding it relieved her condition. She recommended that I try making golden milk where you first make a paste with black pepper that you can store in the fridge and just use a little a day heating it up with your favourite nut milk and drinking it as the name suggests, as a golden milk. The recipe had too many stages for a lazy bones like me, so I never did try it. It did however spark my interest in turmeric (curcuma longa).

fresh turmeric root

fresh turmeric root

Tumeric contains phytochemicals called curcuminoids. Tumeric has been used since ancients times in India as a tonic for cardiovascular and liver health and for its anti-inflammatory properties which can aid in joint comfort and mobility. Curcumin and the other curcuminoids that turmeric contains have been found to be powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antifungal and anti-bacterial agents.

Piperine is the key chemical constituent in black pepper (Piper nigrum) and when combined with turmeric enhances the bioavailability of the curcumin. This simply means that using black pepper alongside turmeric allows more of the curcumin to be absorbed before it is metabolized by the body. In addition piperine has analgesic properties when applied topically, so it can be used to help reduce pain.

black pepper

black pepper

Curcumin is fat-soluble which means it needs to be dissolved in oil to make it to your intestines where it is then absorbed into the blood stream. This of course is why my friend was dissolving her paste in fatty milk, so that her body could effectively absorb the turmeric and black pepper as medicine.

With this information in hand I began more regularly adding the sacred trio of turmeric, black pepper and oil, to much of my food. Olive oil has its own properties including being antioxidant and so alongside the fact that I find it delicious it became the obvious choice of oil for the necessary combination. I even began occasionally adding it to my morning smoothies, as I am well aware of my less than perfect health, and the fact that inflammation is at the root of many conditions that seem to set in for many modern people as we age. This combination has even been recommended as a remedy for people managing certain cancers, or to help protect oneself from developing cancer in the first place, pretty powerful stuff.

On a trip to Asia last year I was visiting a market in Myanmar and spotted a huge sack of dried turmeric, it was the first time I had come across the root, always having only found it in powdered form in the UK. The man selling it saw my excitement and so when I tried to buy some he instead insisted I take a bag and refused payment. It seemed a little silly as he could have charged me 10x the regular rate and I would still have been happy not realising how much it should have cost. But his kind old eyes refused my offerings of money, so on my return to the UK I gave several of my herb sistas a handful each to use. The dried root grated easily, with an incredible smell and rich orange colour. It felt so much more vibrant and alive than the yellow powder I had been using.

dried herbs at market in Myanmar

dried herbs at market in Myanmar

Earlier this year not only my local health store, but also my local supermarket both started to sell the fresh root, happy days! The taste is amazing and so I continued its use, now with even greater enjoyment.

A few weeks ago I had a dream. In the dream I was told to make an infused oil of fresh ground black pepper, fresh turmeric root and olive oil. So upon waking that is what I did. I first crushed the peppercorns, then sliced the root and finally covered the combination with olive oil. I left the colourful jar to infuse, knowing that my medicinal infusion would be ready in 2-3 weeks.

infusing turmeric & black pepper in olive oil

infusing turmeric & black pepper in olive oil

About a week after the dream I began to have a peculiar problem with my little finger. It kept getting stuck in a bent position, especially during the night and long periods of inactivity. After a bit of self diagnosis I worked out that I had developed trigger finger! A ridiculous sounding condition where the finger tendon becomes inflamed and keeps catching in the tendon sheath. Unfortunately having type I diabetes and being female combined with my current age all put me in the category of people most likely to develop trigger finger :/

Now I know why I was being guided to make the sacred trio elixir (or with less grandiosity: black pepper and turmeric infused oil). I can not only drizzle it over my food, or add a dash into smoothies, but I can also use it topically, to rub at the base of my little finger where I have located the painful and inflamed area leading to my fingers peculiar symptoms.

Hedge-witches always say that the remedy you need will appear to you before you realise you need it, this time for sure that wisdom is true.

 

Cautions: Do not use this oil internally if pregnant, breast feeding or have had gall bladder problems. Discontinue use if on using you experience gastro-intestinal discomfort.

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