Herbal cocktail spritzers excite the taste buds, offer a refreshing treat on those humid summer days and are one of our favorite ways to use plants during the summertime.
They can be made as a mocktail or cocktail, depending on your personal preference and are always an enjoyable way to entertain guests or treat yourself while you lounge in the hammock with a good book.
One of the ways in which we create balanced boozy cocktails or mocktails is with bitters. Ingesting just a small amount of the bitter flavor stimulates healthy digestion and supports our overall body systems, and is a nice way to combat the summer drinking season with something that’s a little healthier (you don’t have to feel so guilty.)
We have been blending bitters for many years, experimenting with some of our favorite local herbs and with a few worldly exotics. Overall we believe in the power of bitter flavor across the culinary experience—in cocktails for sure, but also they also have a place in our teas, soups, salads and liquid extracts.
Here are a few simple recipes that we enjoy throughout the hot summer months.
They are cooling, dazzling in flavor and contain herbs and medicines we can find in our everyday kitchens and gardens. We like to switch it up and alternate between our traditional cocktail recipes, and non-alcoholic mocktail recipes when we want a night off.
The Bitters Spritz
A twist on the classic Italian aperitivo or Aperol spritz which was a cocktail made with bitters to aid digestion. […]
In the summer, we find balance by eating foods that are bitter (cooling, moist), such as: cucumber, olives, kale, celery, corn, quinoa, and millet.
It is also important to take time to rest, sit in the shade, breathe deeply, and absorb the green color that surrounds us. Chinese Medicine explains that the hotter months are an ideal time to harmonize the heart and small intestine.
What better way to support the heart muscle and cleanse the intestines than to eat more vegetables? Produce provides fiber, antioxidant phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals support a healthy inflammatory response, support the body’s natural detoxification process, and promote longevity.
Try to include these foods and herbs in your summer cooking. They will help you cool down, nourish yourself, and appreciate summer’s vibrant energy.
- Basil– Digestive tonic and aromatic immune support. Contains water-soluble flavonoids, which support the normal growth of healthy white blood cells.
- Cilantro– Supports the secretion of insulin and supports healthy levels of total and LDL cholesterol. Its volatile oils are also useful for immune support.
- Corn– Technically a vegetable, zea mays, corn, is considered a grain because it contains amylose starch, which maximizes corn’s antioxidant value even when it’s dried or ground into flour; high in fiber and B vitamins to promote digestion and maintain balanced blood sugar.
- Millet– Gluten-free grain, alkaline enough to balance body’s pH; nutrient dense, hypo-allergenic, complex carbohydrate; offers a balance of B vitamins to support digestion and provide consistent energy.
- Peppermint– Stomachic and cooling, it soothes indigestion and colonic muscle spasms with its affinity to smooth muscle tissue. Peppermint contains rosmarinic acid, which supports a healthy bronchial passageway and sinus.
- Parsley– Digestive, stomachic, and tonic. […]
Nettles are one of spring’s most enticing traditional herbs, and are also a delicious wild food. Nettles are an annual plant found in wooded areas and forests, in natural grasslands, along fertile fields and riverbanks, and along shaded trails. Nettles can be thought of as springtime’s green superfood, packed with minerals and vitamins.
Nettles are a great source for wildcrafting in terms of sustainability since they are a naturally spreading weed. If you have a nettle patch that you visit often or one growing in your garden, frequent harvests will ensure second growths, making it a viable plant all summer long.
When they are young they are full of fresh juicy goodness just waiting to be eaten!
Adding nettles into your wellness routine and diet not only gives you essential nutrients that your body needs but they support healthy tissue states and sinuses. Fresh nettle is always found on an herbalists’ lists when it comes to supporting healthy eyes, nose, lungs, and sinuses. Some favorite ways to use them include a fresh nettle tea, cold infusion if you can or fresh nettle juice!
Cooking with Nettles
Nettles are delicious in many spring recipes — from soups to salads, pizzas, and pastas. They are a great stand-in for greens like chard or spinach in certain recipes—soups, pastas and warm grain dishes, as well as treats like nettle tart or quiche.
– Harvest the top cluster of young nettles (the top 5” or so) as they are the most juicy. They are tender when young and easy to harvest!
– Wear […]
Every spring, I dig up dandelions. When I started my first garden, this was an act of fear: “If I don’t get them out now,” I used to think, “they’ll dump seed everywhere!” These days, I still pull dandelions from our small garden in the spring. But I don’t discard them anymore – every part gets used. The roots, bitter and sour, get finely chopped and roasted in a cast iron pan until they set loose an enticing, nutty aroma. After they cool, they’re ready to mix with coffee in the French press (recipe below.) The greens, juicy and salty, go right into a big salad. And we make fritters from any early flowers we find.
If you’re gathering dandelion, either from your garden or on a foraging trip, take the root too, and bring it into your kitchen. Don’t clean that root off too much: a gentle rinse before use will spare the bitter root bark, a reminder of where our medicine comes from. Isn’t it incredible to get back outside after winter, dig into the soil, and interact with raw, living herbs again? The intimacy of working with plants is a tonic in its own right, but it also reveals how close and connected our medicine can be: we need not seek it out in wild, remote places, nor trust only that which is expensive, refined, and manufactured. The dandelion is right there, waiting. It is a safe, simple and powerful way to bring herbalism into the lives of those […]