colorado in January

The Herb Blurb – January 2020

As we look ahead to a new decade what will you create this year? How will you evolve?

It’s time for evaluating patterns we have established in our lives and how they are influencing our days.

It’s easy to say I don’t have time for that now, I’ve got a Netflix binge coming up, but this is often why we don’t have the time. We don’t plan, we don’t focus. We are easily distracted by screens, food, and clearance sales. Before you know it we’re back at another new year with no discernible difference or progress in our lives.

Don’t resign yourself to mediocrity. You decide your life’s path with every decision you make, so get out of the rut, put down that remote control, and make a choice to choose, instead of living in a semi-comatose state of same old, same old.

Make it easy. Give yourself an hour free of screens and distractions and think about where your life is now and where you’d like it to be. What worries you most and saps your energy? What delights you? Start there. Think of one action you could do to get your sap back and one way to incorporate more delight in your life. Then comes the important part, do it!
Just this one step can make a dramatic difference done consistently. Your life deserves your full attention, make 2020 the year it happens.


Upcoming Classes – try something new!

Delicious Vegetarian Class

Delicious Vegetarian,

Denver Botanic Gardens, Thursday, January 23, 6-8:30 pm,
$60, $55 member. Info here.
Ready to add more vegetarian meals to your weekly menus? Healthy, less expensive, and easier on the environment, discover the variety and deliciousness of vegetarian cuisine. We’ll begin with a seasonal, savory salad and move on to black bean and sweet potato tacos with avocado crema, a spicy cashew veggie stir fry, pesto and roasted veggie pizza, and end with a sweet. Eat your veggies and love doing it! Recipes and full meal included.

Art of Pressed Flowers Class

Art of Pressed Flowers

Saturday, February 1, 10 am - 12:30 pm, Denver Botanic Gardens,
$55, $50 member. sold out
Can't wait for spring flowers? Spend an enjoyable morning creating your own masterpieces with gorgeous pressed flowers. We will make beautiful floral bookmarks and cards, a reusable floral glass votive, and a botanical dipped candle to take home. Learn the best flowers to grow and how to press for optimal color, durability, and longevity. Handout and materials provided.

Fun Things to Do & Activities

National Western Stock ShowFireworks on New Year’s Eve in Denver on the 16th street mall. Going off at 9 pm and again at midnight. Bundle up well and blast in the New Year. Or go all out and do one of the hotel packages downtown. 

Musicfest at Steamboat, January 5-10. 5 days, 72 artists, ski slopes, lots of fun and music. 

National Western Stock Show, January 11 -26. Put on your cowboy hat and check out the big guy for all things western. Parade downtown on Thursday, January 9.  Check Groupon for discount tickets.

Estes Park Winter Festival, January 18 and 19. Wine and beer sampling, outdoor activities, music, lodging, discounts, and more.

Denver Brew Fest, January 25 at Mile High Station. Live music and keggers full of craft beer.  

Free Days – 
Denver Art Museum – January 4
Denver Botanic Gardens at York Street – January 20, at Chatfield Farms – January 7
Museum of Nature and Science – January 6
Children’s Museum – January 7
Denver Zoo – January 12 and 18
Four Mile Historic Park – January 10

Something Wicked This Way Comes

The annual flu outbreak has started in earnest. Get some supplies beforehand in case it makes a visit. Some of my essentials are eucalyptus essential oil and Olba’s Pastille cough drops, you can get this at any Whole Foods, Sprouts or Natural Grocers. Olba also has a nice inhalant oil that is great for steaming. Have garlic, onions, organic miso, and chicken broth on hand for soup making. Stock up on some Traditional Medicinals and Yogi teas for various maladies. My favorite tea for an upset stomach and general flu and cold is ginger root tea. See the recipe below.

Natural methods for prevention include taking a good, food-based multivitamin/mineral daily, restricting skin contact in public places, washing your hands, eating a whole foods diet, getting enough sleep, and limiting sugar which lowers immunity. This is a good plan year-round.

If you or someone in your household does get sick, wipe down keyboards, lights switches, TV remotes, doorknobs, and other frequently touched places with vinegar. Relieve congested sinuses and chests with a tea tree or eucalyptus essential oil steam.

Eat lots of organic veggies and hot foods with plenty of garlic and onions. Skip the smoothies, dairy products, and cold salads and go for spicy hot vegetable curries, stir-fry’s, and soups. Get enough rest and drink plenty of hot tea.

Dress for the weather. It makes me crazy to see little kids with deep, rattly coughs and runny noses out in freezing weather without hats, scarves, or coats. They shouldn’t be out in the first place, nor should you if you’re sick. Remember to sneeze and cough into your sleeve or elbow, not your hands. Grab a good novel, a cup of tea, take a long hot bath, and go to bed!

Recipes of the Month

Ginger Tea

Peel and thinly slice 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger root and add to 2 cups of water in a saucepan. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes, strain and drink with honey, if desired. Toss the strained ginger slices with sugar and dry on wax paper for candied ginger.

Ginger Tea Recipe

Immune Boosting Soup

Did you get that nasty head cold/flu going around? Several members of my family have it. Remember to wash your hands and slap infected family members if they don’t cover their sneezes and coughs. A gentle slap, after all they’re sick.

Here’s a great soup for winter bugs or just a nice, mild detox after all that holiday excess.

  • 5-8 cups chicken or vegetable broth, I use Better than Bouillon chicken concentrate if there is no homemade on hand.
  • -2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced into small pieces
  • 1 bulb garlic (at least 10 cloves), minced
  • 2 cups organic chicken – precooked or fresh, boned and cut into small pieces (optional for vegetarians)
  • 1 1?2 inch piece of fresh ginger root grated
  • ½ - 1 cup fresh, sliced shiitake mushrooms, you can also use dried.
  • 2 tablespoons dried seaweed slightly crumbled, arame has a mild taste
  • Seasonings can include turmeric, cayenne, thyme, rosemary, and sage. About a ½ tsp. per herb of whatever combination you prefer.
  • Fresh or frozen vegetables of choice cut into bite-size pieces. Options include yams, sweet potatoes, zucchini, winter squash, celery, peppers, broccoli, green beans, corn, edamame, lima beans, golden beets, kale, mustard greens or spinach. Basically anything you like, preferably organic.
  • To make a heartier soup you can add beans. Rice noodles added when the veggies are almost done is also an option.

Heat olive oil in a large pot. Sauté garlic, seasonings, onions, raw chicken if using, peppers and ginger until soft and aromatic. Add broth, rest of ingredients and enough water to cover all the vegetables. Simmer covered until veggies are soft and all ingredients are cooked through. If you are using cooked as opposed to fresh chicken add at this point.
Add salt and pepper to taste. I like to top my soup with a bit of grated parmesan, (skip if you are congested) and some fresh basil or parsley if I have it handy. Great to freeze and keep on hand for those cold season maladies.

Immune Boosting Soup Recipe

Chorizo, Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili

  • vegetable oil
  • 1 lb chorizo sausage, you can also use ground beef or turkey, or just the beans
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp unsweetened cocoa
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 15 oz cans of tomatoes, ( I buy canned whole tomatoes for flavor and squish them through my hands to puree before adding)
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 2 cans black or pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 cups chopped kale, spinach, or chard, stems and leaves chopped
  • 1 tsp honey or sugar (optional but helps to cut the acidity of the tomato)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup cilantro
  • 1 avocado, pitted and sliced
  • Cheddar or Monterey jack cheese, shredded
  • Sour cream

Add enough oil to lightly cover the bottom of a soup pot and heat. Add chorizo breaking it up into pieces. Add onion and garlic and spices and cook through. Add tomatoes, sweet potatoes and water if needed. Bring to a low boil and turn down to a simmer, cover and cook until sweet potatoes are tender. Add beans and kale and simmer for another 10 – 15 minutes until kale is cooked through. Serve with toppings of choice. I like avocado, shredded cheese, sour cream, olives, cilantro and a squeeze of lime with warm tortillas on the side.

Chorizo, Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili Recipe

Kale Chips

Kale Chips
I was never impressed with the taste of store-bought kale chips but I find these surprisingly addictive and quite tasty.

  • 1 lb fresh kale, stems removed and torn into chip-size pieces
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs tahini
  • 2 tbs soy sauce

Preheat oven to 325. Add the oil, tamari and soy sauce together in a bowl and mix well with a fork or whisk. Massage both sides of the kale pieces with the mixture spread the leaves in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet. Bake until crispy, about 10-12 minutes.

Kale Chips Recipe
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