Bitters: A Gentle Daily Dose by rachael keener, april 22nd, 2016


If you wanted to get your body into good physical fitness, would you choose to exercise vigorously for 1-2 weeks of the year and otherwise remain inactive? If you wanted to live in a clean home, would you obsessively scour every nook and cranny for five straight days and every other 360 days let the mess pile up around you?  Unless you’re a wise-cracker, I’m going to go ahead and guess you answered “no” to those questions. It’s only common sense and, in fact, the model described above can be detrimental. 

Why, then, has our culture become so fond of the high-intensity detox cleanse? While there is certainly a place for narrowing in on specific dietary and lifestyle habits for a short period of time as, say, a gentle Spring cleaning or for particular health-related reasons, our focus on extreme cleanses is in general both misguided and ineffectual. 


If you’re looking to improve your health and feel better in your body, the real key is in making more subtle long-term shifts. Mohamed Ali is quoted as saying, “It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you down, it’s the pebble in your shoe”. So, let’s take a look at that pebble in your shoe; for addressing that is where you will find sustained change in your life and in your health. And you’ll feel a marked difference once you do. 

An extreme cleanse could get you to the top of the mountain, but you may very well be hurting once you arrive and it’s […]

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7 Steps to DIY Seed Starting by rachael keener, april 20th, 2016

Whether you’re a countertop gardener, a community garden goer, or your backyard is a lively mosaic of herbs, flowers and veggies in the summer months, the reasons are plenty to start seeds indoors. Early spring is the perfect time to begin the lifecycle of many of your favorite plants by starting them in your windowsill. Perhaps you’re planting the tiny seeds of perennial herbs that need a little extra TLC to germinate. Perhaps your countertop is the only place you have to grow greens. Perhaps you’re waiting until any threat of frost passes before some plants can go outside, and in the meantime you’d like to give them a head start. Read on for a simple, step-by-step tutorial for starting seeds at home.



  • Seed starting soil mix (regular compost will do if you don’t have this)
  • Empty, non-dyed egg cartons
  • Seeds
  • Shallow tray or pan
  1. Cut off the tops of the egg cartons and discard.
  2. Scoop the soil mix into each compartment of the egg cartons until it’s almost full.
  3. Check for seed depth planting instructions on the seed packets.  
  4. For small seeds that require shallow planting (⅛ inch or less), place onto the soil surface.  When all compartments are filled, sprinkle the appropriate amount of soil over the seeds and press down lightly with your fingertips.
  5. For seeds that require slightly deeper planting, press them down to the proper depth into the soil one at a time with your index finger.  Sprinkle the entire egg […]

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Bitter Plant Profiles: Dandelion + Burdock By Rachael Keener, April 18th, 2015


dandelionIf Urban Moonshine had to pick a mascot, it would probably be the dandelion. An iconic weed, dandelions are brilliant despite their sometimes unfair wrap. Their bright yellow flowers gush of spring’s arrival; their wide-ranging habitat—from lush meadow to sidewalk cracks—signals resilience and ingenuity. In bloom, dandelion is a pollen source for bees and throughout its life cycle, dandelion’s resourceful taproot brings vital nutrients to the soil’s surface. From leaf-to-flower-to-root, every part of this powerhouse plant is edible.  

Dandelion root is an iconic bitter traditionally used to support liver health and clear skin.  It can be simmered as a tea, tinctured, added to soups or broths, or eaten raw.  The leaf is known for being rich in vitamins and minerals and supporting urinary health, though it is also bitter in and of itself.  Harvest it young to add to soups and salads. The greens make for a wonderful spring tonic. The yellow “petals” can be pluck from the head of the dandelion and sprinkled over salads, battered and turned into fritters, or brewed into an old-time recipe of dandelion wine. When harvesting dandelion, be sure it’s in an unsprayed area, is located at least 20 feet away from the road, and isn’t trail-side in a dog park (ie hasn’t likely been peed on by a dog!). Dandelion root and leaf are in all of our digestive bitters and are available as a single extract as well.


burdockIf you’ve ever tried pulling burdock from your backyard, you know that nothing rivals the vigor of this deep […]

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A Springtime Herb Collection by guido masé, april 11th, 2016

Traditionally, the days around the Vernal Equinox (mid to late March) and the month(s) after it were seen as a time of intense, rushing energy: days get longer and the sunlight more intense, the first signs of green growth emerge, and wildlife stirs again. Herbalists still consider this a time when the more inward, ‘congealing’ energies of Winter begin to transition into the more outward, ‘expansive’ energies of Summer—and when a little attention paid to the process can improve vitality, strengthen digestion and immunity, and keep us in tune with the changing seasons.

There are specific herbal allies that have gained a deserved reputation for aiding in this transition, and each has its own peculiar “virtues” and affinities. All, however, rely somewhat on two basic strategies: either enhancing digestive and eliminative function, or bolstering the power of the body’s immune and hormonal systems. Some do both! And generally, it was (and still is) considered a good idea to start with enhancing absorption and elimination, and then proceed with strengthening the underlying physiology.

The old recipes for “root beers” can be somewhat instructive in this regard: they often feature a combination of bitter roots (which enhance elimination) coupled with aromatic, sometimes pungent ingredients (which improve digestion) and hormonal tonics (to enhance energy and vitality). Many of the herbs and botanicals listed below can be combined along these lines to make a customized spring tonic for yourself or your friends and family, helping to ride along the tides of Spring and get ready for Summer. The last detail in the herbalists’ crafting of vernal concoctions is an attention to the constitution and physiological peculiarities of the individual using the tonic.

Generally, these are pretty obvious considerations – but one point to remember is to try to add “cooling” herbs for those expressing signs of […]

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