Category Archives: Recipes and healing remedies

Native American medicine picking: The experience of picking sage



Native American medicine picking: The experience of picking sage

sage Merritt BC

Sage in Merritt, BC

Hello all!

Wow is it ever a gorgeous weekend on the Canadian West Coast! Grandfather Sun shining, blue sky and perfect temperatures. Loving it! If you have seen my site’s Facebook page, you know that I had the privilege to go medicine picking yesterday. I went with my healing circle as the Elder and facilitators go every year and know the area well. It was so nice just to relax and look at the scenery on the way there (as I am normally driving and miss out on all that is around). A perfect Saturday! I even got back with one hell of a sunburn on my back (as the one thing I had forgotten was sunscreen…).

So let’s talk about Native American medicine picking 🙂 In this case, picking sage in Merritt, BC.

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Native American Bannock Bread

Native American Bannock bread

Hello all!

Well another busy week over. I have been thinking all week about possible topics for an article. Then, it dawned on me: Emily, write about bannock! The bread of the Native people, the bread of our ancestors. And such a simple bread to make. So let’s take a look at the history of bannock, and at my personal recipe for it 🙂

First off, what is bannock?

Bannock is also know as fry bread. That’s it. Done. Bannock is fry bread 😉 Ok ok, let’s talk about it some more. The word Bannock actually stems from the old English word bannuc which meant a morsel. More so, it has a Scottish origin of all places! If you read novels set in Old England or Scotland, you might read about the bannock they were eating.

bannock

bannock

Thus, bannock or fry bread is not exclusive to the Aboriginal people and can be found across different nations of the world, including Africa for example. I have a friend whose family is from South Africa. The first time I made bannock, he said: “OMG, fry bread like my mom used to make! But it is not as salty as hers”. So different locations, different recipes!

Bannock of the Aboriginal people

So how did bannock make it to Canada? Well it is not all that clear. But there is some evidence that it was eaten by Europeans fur traders when they arrived in Canada. It was then known under different names: bannock, bannaq, galette and made with flour, water and sometimes fat. Whereas, the Scottish version was mostly made with oats or barley. However, at the time of the fur traders, flour was not that easily acquired in America. Corn flour or plants rather than wheat flour would have been more easily found. Therefore, the belief that bread was not available before the arrival of Europeans has not been demonstrated. Instead, it is more plausible that bread was made by the Indigenous people but using natural ingredients (may it be lichen or corn) rather than wheat. As flour was a luxury item, not readily used but rather saved for special occasions. Preparing bannock on an open fire (either in the ashes of the fire or in a frying pan over the fire). I would say that Europeans learned from the cooking of the people of the land, how they used the land to gather strength and nutrients.

bannock sandwich

bannock sandwich-looks so good!

Why is it called fry bread then?

As I just said, bannock used to be prepared as big biscuit and baked in a big frying pan or propped on sticks by the fire. Or even wrapped around sticks. It was made very simply with water, flour, salt and a bit of fat (lard or bacon grease). Over time, although it was still prepared in a skillet, people began adding oil to fry it. It was either baked as a big biscuit or cut into wedges or rounds. Or even in the shape of doughnuts! As for the recipe, around the mid 1800’s, it became a tad more elaborate. Butter, buttermilk, baking powder were sometimes added. Nothing fancy by today’s standards but more elaborate back then considering their nutrition.

However, as it is fry bread, even though it has been a staple of the Native culture, a big part of traditions and part of the Indigenous people’s nutrition, it should not be eaten every day. Yes although it is not soaked in oil, it is still cooked in it. Yes technically you could have it baked in the oven. But really, once one has had fry bannock, there is no going back! Alright, now on to my personal bannock recipe. Although everyone says their recipe is the best (big competition here!), mine really is 🙂

my bannock

My bannock 🙂

My bannock recipe

3 cups flour

1 1/2 cup warm water

a pinch of salt

one tsp of yeast

one tsp baking powder

Mix warm water and yeast and add to dry ingredients. Knead in a ball and covered in a bowl and let rest for 45 minutes. This will give time for the yeast to activate. Roll out (about 1/3 inch thick) and cut into wedges. Drop in hot oil and fry about 2 minutes max per side. Or until brown and bubbles form. Sponge off on a paper towel. The bannock will be all fluffy and light. Eat with lard (as our ancestors did), with peanut butter and jam (sold at every Pow wow I have been to), or rolled in sugar and cinnamon. I have made it a tradition to bring my own bannock at work and give it to clients. I now get requests on how they want it (“you should make it with sugar and cinnamon”)!. They say food brings people together. It is especially true of bannock 🙂

bannock

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Native American sweetgrass: its meaning and use

Native American sweetgrass: its meaning and use

Hello all!

If you follow my site’s Facebook page, you know I am currently doing course 3 of my program entitled Aboriginal focusing oriented therapy and complex trauma. Today was day 2 of 3 and our teacher was kind enough to bring us sweetgrass she grows. Therefore, we all braided our sweetgrass during our break 🙂 So this inspired me to write a short post on sweetgrass, its use and meaning. Here we go!

sweetgrass

What does sweetgrass represent?

Sweetgrass is one of the main herbs used by Native people. It is often part of the medicine used when smudging along with sage and cedar (for more on smudging, see this post). Just as sage is used to clear negativity, to cleanse, sweetgrass is used to bring positivity. At the healing circle I attend, we often start the circle by smudging using sage. As circles tend to be heavy (lots of trauma is shared), if we use sweetgrass, we use it at the end of the circle. To cleanse ourselves again and to bring back positivity and calm.

Therefore, sweetgrass represents positivity, strength, connection to the Creator and all our relations. it represents the Mother, our mother, Mother Earth. It is our connection to the land, to what is around us. Its smell when burned dry is a sweet smell, reminiscent of our ancestors. When fresh, its smell is one of grass (a faint one). It smells fresh, it smells like comfort and home. When braided, sweetgrass can represent a few different concepts. In the Cree-Ojibway culture, for example, the three braids of the sweetgrass can represent love, peace and harmony or mind, body and spirit.

fresh and braided sweetgrass

fresh and braided sweetgrass

The uses of sweetgrass

As I just mentioned, sweetgrass is used in smudging, to cleanse and purify. Native American sweetgrass is a healing herb, it has healing properties. For example, sweetgrass can be used to help with colds, or sinus issues. It can be drank as a tea or infusion to help with coughing (God knows I should drink some as I have been coughing for 2 weeks now). For more on herbal remedies see this post. One could also gargle with it (the tea I mean, not a branch of sweetgrass…).

Further, sweetgrass is a blood thinner as it contains coumarin, which has blood thinning properties. Finally, sweetgrass can also help with arthritis. Indeed, one can carry fresh sweetgrass in their clothes, like in their socks for example, to help with movement (my teacher often does that).

sweetgrass

sweetgrass I received and braided today

I will share with you my teacher’s experience with sweetgrass as I know she would not mind. She has been growing her own sweetgrass for close to 50 years now. The one in the picture on the right is some she brought it today. She constantly has sweetgrass inside her clothes, like her bra or shoes, to help with arthritis. Well, one day, as she was crossing the border (between Canada and USA), she forgot she had it in her bra. And of course, it was found. Let’s just say it raised suspicions and she had some explaining to do!

dried sweetgrass

dried braided sweetgrass

Finally, above you will see dried braided sweetgrass that was tied into a circle. This was given to me years ago by an Elder. The sweetgrass was tied with a cloth and shaped into a circle to represent the Medicine wheel. One final note, according to that Elder, sweetgrass is never supposed to be cut with a knife, as metal is not supposed to touch the herb.

What is your experience with sweetgrass? Share below 🙂

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Native American peyote

Native American peyote: can it be useful in ceremonies?

Hello everyone!

I was recently asked about the “hallucinogen cactus with psychedelic properties” so I thought I

Peyote cactus

Peyote cactus

would write a post about it 🙂 What we are talking about here is the Native American peyote. I know that not everyone might agree on the use of peyote and I am still not fully sure where I personally stand on it. Just being honest. But let me make it clear here that I am going to be discussing the use of peyote during Native American ceremonies, not the recreational use of peyote, which is prohibited (not that this stops people…).

What is peyote?

Peyote, or lophophora williathemsii, is a spineless cactus found in southern states and Mexico.

Peyote fruit

Peyote fruit

Unlike a regular cactus, peyote does not bloom regularly, but when it does it produces a pink fuit that is edible. You can see it on the right. The part that is used for consumption are the top buttons that grow on top of the roots. Like the ones below. Peyote contains mescaline, a naturally occurring psychedelic alkaloid. Hence why some people will use it in a recreational way as an hallucinogen. As the mescaline content is higher in dried peyote, it will more often be used in that form by recreational users.

Peyote top buttons

Peyote top buttons

Interestingly, peyote is used to deter predators. How you ask as it has no spines? Well think about it. It contains mescaline, which will make animals who eat it sick. Animals will have a severe allergic reaction to mescaline, deterring them from ever touching or eating peyote again. Today, wild peyote is an endangered species. It grows in cultivated form but its slow growth and over cultivation made it sparse in the wild.

History of the peyote

It is difficult to pinpoint the exact arrival of peyote and when it was first used. Some will say it was there for 2 millennia prior to the arrival of Europeans, while others will place its arrival as early as 3780 BC. So we are working with a range of quite a few years here! However, some recent support, in the form of archeological discoveries, support the latter estimated arrival date. Indeed, specimens of peyote were found in dry caves and rock shelters in Texas, in a context suggesting its use in ceremonies. it was also found in a region corresponding to present day Mexico.

With the arrival of the Europeans arrived the controversy surrounding peyote. Indeed, at the beginning of the 16th century, a Spanish chronicler by the name of Fray Bernandino de Sahagun, documented its use by the Native people (Sahagun was devoted to the culture). He noted his observations of peyote and its use, stating that the cactus would provide visions, which could be scary or enjoyable, lasting 2 to 3 days. Peyote was also taken by people who had long physical journeys ahead of them (walking long distance) or even to give them fighting power, as the peyote would help them sustain and give them the courage to fight as they would not feel fear, hunger or thirst (I hope they still kept hydrated as otherwise dehydration might have added to the visions).

peyote

Although Sahagun presented pretty objective observations of peyote and its effects, other Europeans explorers were more suspicious, referring to it as the diabolic root. As some who observed peyote users have more terrifying visions, were frightened by its use. I cannot say that I blame them for being scared but it seems like peyote then became associated with evil. Missionaries and explorers condemned those who had used or use peyote, associating the practice with devil worshiping and cannibalism (!). In an effort to convert the Native Americans, they were routinely asked if they used peyote and those who were “caught” using it, would be “disciplined” (especially with the arrival of the Inquisition).

Over time, some of the southern local tribes died out during the 18th and 19th century and the knowledge of the use of peyote during ceremonies also died down. Tribes of the MidWest tried to revive the use of peyote with limited success (as an attempt to revive traditional practices). Soon, authorities were on the case and sought to ban the use of peyote, and other spiritual rituals such as the Ghost Dance.

In 1965, the American Medical Association (AMA) research showed peyote to be habit forming and was thus added to a list of banned psychedelic substances. However, the AMA ruling allowed peyote to be used within religious rituals/ceremonies. Let’s then look at its use in ceremonies.

Peyote in Native American ceremonies

For centuries, peyote has been used in ceremonies, prayer ceremonies, by Native Americans ceremonyacross the globe. Although ceremonies do vary from tribe to tribe, like many ceremonies, the peyote prayer ceremony is conducted in a circle with a medicine man leading with songs and prayers. Peyote is ingested in a liquid form during ceremonies (grinding the flesh to extract the juice). The peyote juice is passed around in either a gourd or another container. Although I have not tried peyote myself, from what I could read, it does not seem like the taste is liked by many. Further, oftentimes people who are not used to drinking peyote will get physically sick. Indeed the mescaline it contains often leads to vomiting. So one has to think twice here before deciding to go for it…

Why would one attend a peyote ceremony if it tastes horrible and makes you throw up? Combined with the rhythm of the drum and the singing, peyote consumption leads to that trance like state in which one can get visions. Some swear that the clarity they obtain from the visions they got was life changing. Some say that, when in that trance like state, they were able to communicate with ancestors, see their destiny, and see where they needed to go in their life. Therefore, some got answers or help in their soul searching from their peyote experience. While others got terrifying visions they never wish to go through again.

peyote

So is it worth it then? Well, in most ceremonies, I find one obtains some sort of clarity. I have found myself in a semi trance like state in ceremonies just from the rhythmic drumming. It calms you down and allows you to just “be there”, not thinking about anything. So I can see how that would open up the door for peyote trances and visions. I think this has to be an individual and personal decision, and it has to be done in a safe space with a medicine man (as opposed to one’s basement alone). My reticence comes from working in the field of addictions and mental health and seeing the effects of mind altering substances on some people. That’s my bias I guess you could say but it does not mean that I do not see how it can be relevant in a ceremonial context.

Have you ever tried peyote? Anyone wants to share their thoughts? Comment below!

Native American tea: a website to visit

Native American tea: a website to visit!

Product: Native American tea company website

What do they offer: They offer a selection of herbal and naturally caffeinated teas made with teepee teatraditional Native American ingredients

Prices: From 3$ to 7.90$

Rating: 4 stars

 

 

 

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Soapberries: little fruits full of benefits

Soapberries: their benefits and uses

Hi everyone!

Soapberries

Soapberries

I was busy in the past few days and have not had a chance to add new content. However, as I went to my usual Tuesday night Pow wow, I gather some intel for this post 😉 Indeed, I talked natural remedies and plant based products with a merchant there. As she was whipping a pink foamy mixture with an electric mixer, I got curious. So I ask what it was. Her response: soapberry indian ice cream. Well I had seen this foamy “ice cream” before at Pow wows but had never known what it was. As she told me that soapberries are thought to contain numerous positive and healing properties, I decided to research them a bit.

Native soapberries or buffaloberries or foamberries

So as I did my research, I came to the realization that there are two types of soapberries. The kind I am discussing here are the soapberries using by Native nations, especially on the West Coast. They look like the berries above and below, a bright red/pink fruit. The other kind of soapberries are also referred to soapnuts and are used as ingredients in natural detergents. Yes that’s right. That type of soapberries are contained in shells containing saponin, a compound responsible for some of their healing properties and cleaning properties (as it has foaming properties). 

Soapberry

Soapberry

The “native” soapberries grow in a shrub that can survive harsh climates and pretty much any kind of soil. The shrub itself is about 3 to 6 feet high with loose branches. A soapberry shrub will need about 5 to 6 years to produce fruits. it produces a fruit that is often described as bitter (I can attest to that…) but when eaten has been reported as being an effective mosquito repellent. Go figure! Berries are collected from the shrub by placing a tarp under the shrub and beating the branches bearing fruits with a stick. Only the very ripe ones will fall down.

So what can soapberries do?

As I said, soapberries are used by many nations, here in BC at least (like the Lillooet nation or the Shuswap nation). Not only are they eaten in dishes as they contain high vitamin C (like the indian ice cream described below) but they have also been used by native people to treat high blood pressure, digestive disorders, acne and bringing on childbirth to name a few. However, as the native soapberries or buffaloberries also contain saponin, they must be consumed in moderation as they can upset your stomach. They can also be used externally to make cleansers or even shampoo.

Wingleaf soapberries

Wingleaf soapberries

But wait, there is more!! The roots, leaves and bark can also be used medicinally. Boiled inner bark can be used as a laxative or a infusion of the bark can be used as an eyewash (remember it has cleansing properties). The brew has also been used to soothe an upset stomach, to treat stomach cancer, constipation and venereal diseases. Similarly, a brew using the stems and leaves can be used as a wash for cuts, swellings and sores. The roots of his little miraculous shrub also have an anti-hemorrhagic property, in other words they stop bleeding as well as purge and cleanse. They have also been used as an aid to childbirth and to treat tuberculosis. Jeez that shrub does a lot!!! Who wants a soapberry shrub in their backyard now?

Ok but how do we eat them? Indian ice cream!

Well soapberries are rarely eaten directly, due to their bitter taste. They are most commonly mixed into something. They can be crushed and be used to make lemonade or tea. And yes they can be found in indian ice cream! Yes I know you are all wondering what the heck I am talking about. Let me explain by reminding you that soapberries contain saponin, which gives them a foamy quality. Meaning that when beaten, they become foamy. Vigorously beating them raises the foam level. So the soapberries are crushed then can be mixed in different ways. More than one recipe is out there. The woman I saw at the Pow wow was beating hers with water and sugar. That’s it. The result looks like the picture below. I included a larger image so you can see its texture. It’s basically as light as air and is often eaten in large gatherings like Pow wows. It is served in little cups. What does it taste like?? Well…..I can only describe what I tasted. The original taste is somewhat sweet but then an ashy/bitter aftertaste sets in. I was told that it is normal to have that aftertaste and that one gets used to it. I can’t say it was bad, as the texture is very interesting and fun but one cup was enough. I will continue to try it though to see if the ashy taste goes away.

indian soapberry ice cream

indian soapberry ice cream

But as I said, there are variances in how one makes indian ice cream. Indeed, Alaskan natives call it akutaq or agutak. It is basically salmonberries (similar to soapberries) mixed with fat. Yes you read that right. Berries and fat. It can be animal fat or good old Crisco. Same principle of crushing the berries and beating them with fat. The consistency is less smooth and more lumpy, like you can see below. What do they call it? Well Eskimo Ice cream of course 🙂

Eskimo ice cream

Eskimo ice cream

Have you ever had soapberries or indian ice cream?? Share your comments or experience below!

 

 

More Traditional native remedies!

Traditional Native Remedies for common ailments-take 2

Hello all!

Recently, I wrote a post about traditional herbal for common modern day ailments. Today, I am doing a follow up on it, covering more ailments but also ways of using the herbs. Let’s start with the latter as we might not all be familiar with terms such as decoctions or poultices... And further, our ancestors were quite ingenious in how they used the herbs, oftentimes using all the  parts in different ways (also preparing them each in a different way). Remember that although I am a mental health professional, I am not a medical doctor. So when unsure, always check with your family doctor before taking herbs.

Tea infusionsherbal tea

Well this refers to herbal teas we commonly drink. Basically, one steeps the herb’s leaves or seeds (and at times the bark). As we would assume, herbal infusions are primarily for drinking but the liquid might be applied externally on cuts or insect bites for example. 

To make tea, put a tsp of dried herbs or 2 tsp of fresh herbs in boiling water and let steep for 15 minutes. Drink when cool enough. Do not wait too long as herbal teas lose their healing power after a few hours. If you like your tea stronger, you can double the quantity of herbs but that’s as far as I would go. Using more herbs that that could create side effects rather than healing effects.

Herbal decoctionsred colored tea

What is that you ask? Well decoctions are used when using roots, bark or stem or even woodier herbs or herbs from which the medicinal ingredients are not easy to extract. The process is in some way similar to an herbal infusion. Start by placing the teaspoon of dried herbs or 2 teaspoons of fresh herbs in a pint of cool water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes to as long as an hour (depending on the herb). Straining the liquid and drink. Therefore, decoctions are meant to be drank or also can be used as an external wash (or added to a bath). Contrary to herbal infusions, decoctions can be stored in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 24 hours. 

Herbal poulticespoultice

A poultice can resemble the image on the right. It is generally used for external problems such as sores, cuts, wounds, irritations. Or even when there is pain due to sprains, or bruises for example. You could either apply the leaves directly to the area or mash or crush the fresh herbs to a paste consistency. Fresh herbs are then used, not dried. You could also boil the herbs for 10-15 minutes. If you want to go “old style” or use the traditional way of doing it, you can chew the herbs until it becomes a paste and apply it to the skin. No matter how it is done, a poultice needs to be placed in contact with the area affected. You can either place it directly on the skin or place cheesecloth or even paper towel between your skin and the herbs. 

Little note before I get to it: Remember to think of the Earth and its well-being before taking anything from it. Never take more than you need or more than a third of what is there. And do as little damage as possible to the surrounding area. Treat nature with respect, like you would with any of your relations. 

Ok let’s now look at some remedies using herbs for common ailments!

Arthritis

willow bark

willow bark

There are many kinds of arthritis and it has been around for a long time. Native Americans dealt with arthritis pain by spending time in the sweat lodge. You can recreate the effect somewhat by closing your bathroom door and running a very hot shower. Don’t go in the shower, but rather sit nearby so the heat and steam penetrate your skin, without burning you. 10-15 minutes should do. It will help loosen your muscles and allow joints to move just as taking a bath or a long shower would. Moist heat increases circulation in painful areas thus allowing the blood to bring in more healing nutrients and take away pain-causing toxins. 

As I have discussed before, willow bark contains a compound called salicin, very similar to an active ingredient in aspirin. Drank as a tea, willow bark contains a painkiller acting as an analgesic. Adding some dried licorice root will help you digest the tea. You can also counteract the pain with stinging nettle. Although it might seem counterproductive, sometimes deliberately irritating the skin with a branch of stinging nettle can make the arthritis pain less severe. The tiny stingers on the nettle inject a small amount of anti-inflammatory into the skin. 

stinging nettle

stinging nettle

Asthma

Valerian

Valerian

Today, asthma is a frequent condition. However, our ancestors lived in a world where air pollution was low, crowded living conditions were rare and although they smoked during ceremonies, they were far from smoking a pack a day of toxins containing cigarettes. Therefore, asthma was very rare. Moreover, Native Americans also routinely used herbs that were known to help asthma, such as expectorants or antispasmodics. I will share some of those herbs now but remember to consult your doctor before trying herbal remedies for asthma. Some antispasmodics are black haw, valerian, fennel, licorice and peppermint. Examples of expectorants are milkweed, mullein, licorice and peppermint. Finally, some herbs with sedative properties are hops, lady’s slipper, valerian and mullein. 

Mullein

Mullein

Back pain

Well I have suffered from my fair share of back pain, neck pain, etc. You name it! And one thing that often helps for me is to apply heat to the sore area. Again, like the principles of the sweat lodge tell us, heat relaxes the muscles. A heating pad, a hot bath, time in a steam room. All can help. Rubbing the muscles also relaxes them while also helping flushing out the pain-causing toxins such as lactic acid. It seems like a massage is in order!

For those of you who do not have health benefits covering massages….well herbs come to the

Peppermint

Peppermint

rescue. Drink peppermint tea, which contains menthol which has analgesic and muscle-relaxing properties. You could also do your own peppermint rub. Think of the heating or icing rubs drugstores sell. Same principle here. Peppermint creates a warmth sensation that penetrates in your skin and muscles. To make your own peppermint rub: fill a jar with peppermint leaves, cover with vegetable or mineral oil, cap the jar and store in a cool dark place, shaking the jar a few times a day. After 10 days, strain the oil and store in a dark jar. Use oil to massage muscles. Or buy peppermint oil and mix with mineral oil. 

Sage can also be quite helpful. You can buy sage oil in health food stores. Mix a few drops with mineral oil and rub. Or once again, willow bark to the rescue! Drink it in a tea mixed with licorice root. 

Constipation-Diarrhea

psyllium-plantain

psyllium-plantain

Yes I know not so fun to discuss but herbs can help relieve either one. So why not share them? Our ancestors were very active hunting, gathering food, etc. and therefore it is unlikely that constipation was a huge problem back then. However, they would chew gum made of the resin of the balsam tree. It makes sense if we think that chewing gum increases production of saliva (which contains digestive enzymes) which in turn relax the bowels. Nowadays, dietary fiber has been found to be the best remedy for constipation, as the fiber absorbs water in the large intestine, making the stools larger, stimulating the intestines to move them quicker. Psyllium is one of the best fibers one can take. There are readily available in grocery store or health food stores, usually grounded. However, if you want to make your own, add a teaspoon of plantain seed (psyllium comes from the plantain plant) to a cup of boiling water, allow to cool then drink, seeds and all. Do that once or twice a day. Drink lots of water when using psyllium. Further, rhubarb root is also a powerful laxative, not to take too often. Puree a few stalks of it (not the leaves, they are toxic), add apple juice, a teaspoon of lemon juice, and a tablespoon of honey. Drink once a day, not more!!

As for diarrhea, Native Americans turned to herbal teas, as tea contains tannins which constrict the walls of the intestines. Herbs used in teas were commonly raspberry, peppermint, goldenseal and yarrow leaves. And guess what? As good as psyllium is for constipation, it is also good for diarrhea. What? Yes that is true. If you remember, psyllium absorbs water in the large intestine, making stools firmer. And the fun thing is that psyllium affects different people in different ways. So for you, it might go either way or even both ways depending on the situation. Yes I know that is unusual but you will have to try it to find out!

Ok that is it for now. I hope you found this information to be useful. Once again, if there is any condition you would like me to provide herbal remedies to, let me know by commenting below. Or share your own remedies 🙂

As in my last post, I strongly recommend this wonderful book, in which I found a lot of the information above. 

healing secrets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

food feast

Even more Traditional Native recipes!

Great additional Traditional Native recipes

Hello everyone!

OK, as there seems to be an interest for this, I am writing a Traditional Native Recipes Take 2 🙂

Once again, I might be adapting some recipes (it’s really up to you if you want to do them with the adaptations or not). I am not presenting the recipes in any particular order, just trying to give you a variety of desserts, meat dishes, hearty vegetable dishes, and breads. In the Native culture, we cook from the heart with what is available at that time, oftentimes recipes being passed down orally from previous generations. So scroll right down to see what interests you and see my previous post for 5 more recipes. 

Chinook nut cornbread (Chinook tribe)

corn bread

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 a cup flour
  • yeast
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup of milk
  • cup of creamed corn
  • package of almonds

Directioncornbread

In a bowl, mix the flour, creamed corn, yeast (well there is no quantity here sooo… I would personally add about 1/2 tsp) and cornmeal and stir together. Add eggs, almonds (again no quantity, I would add 1/2 cup of chopped almonds) and milk. With hand mixer or with a wooden spoon (if you are very strong…), mix together and pour into a tall cake pan (you know those rectangular ones you would make banana bread in for example). Put in oven at 350 degrees until golden brown. I would check after 30 minutes to see how its doing. Serve with butter or honey. 

I am so trying this recipe!

Apache stew 

apache stew

Ingredients

2 red (or yellow or orange) bell peppers

4 oz or half cup of canned chilies (you can substitute hotter chilies)
1 Tbsp sunflower oil
1 lb elk or venison (or use beef)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 carrots chopped
3 cups hominy (don’t know what that is? Click here) or substitute canned sweet corn
3 cups water
3 cups beef (or veggie broth) broth
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tsp pepper (or to taste)
1 cup chopped endive or other bitter green

Directions

Heat oil on the stovetop, add meat, garlic and onion until onion is soft and meat is browned. Put all ingredients in a crockpot except endive. Let cook on low for about 6 hours and add endive right before serving. 

If you are like me, you do not have a crockpot, you can do it on the stovetop. Let simmer (making sure all the ingredients are covered with water and broth) for about an hour, checking every 20 minutes or so. 

Algonquin Three Sisters rice

algonquin three sisters rice

Ingredients

2 1/4 cup chicken broth (use water to make vegetarian)
1 6 oz. package Uncle Ben’s Long Grain & Wild Rice
pinch of salt to taste
2 cup cubed yellow squash (about 1 medium)
2 cup cubed zucchini (about 1 medium)
2 cup baby lima beans (or just regular ones or even shelled edamame)
2 cup whole kernel corn
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup canola oil
2 minced cloves of garlic
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 tbsp. white pepper
1/4 tbsp. paprika

Directions

Cook rice according to package or use bulk long grain or wild rice. Steam (or pan roast, that’s what I would do) squash, zucchini until brown and add lima beans at the end. Set aside in rice. In the same pan, add oil, saute garlic, onion and peppers until soft not brown (just a few minutes). Add to rice and other veggies. Add salt, pepper and paprika. Serve with chopped parsley on top. A good vegetarian meal but still with protein 🙂

Manataka Acorn Bread

manataka acorn bread

Ingredients

1 Cup Acorn meal
1 Cup White Flour
2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
3 Tbsp Dark Brown Sugar or Splenda
1 Egg, beaten
1 Cup Milk
1Tbsp Canola Oil
1Tbsp Melted Butter

FYI: Ok well you might not have heard of acorn meal or in other words, flour, before. Yes flour made of those acorns that fall from trees. There is a way to do it manually, see this guide if you are motivated. You might be able to find it in a health food store (as they do keep different types of flour). Or guess what? A nice woman named Sue actually has a site selling the acorn flour and related products she makes. If you are still without acorn flour, you could always use cornmeal or ground oats and corn starch (use 70% oats or cornmeal and 30% corn starch to make the cup).

Directions

Preheat oven at 400 degrees F, grease loaf pan and melt butter. Sift together acorn flour, white flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. In a separate bowl, mix egg, milk and oil. Gradually mix in melted butter. Combine dry and wet ingredients. Just stir enough to wet dry ingredients, do not over mix. It is normal that mixture be lumpy. Pour into loaf pan and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. 

Alaskan Baked Salmon (West coast, Haida)

baked salmon

Ingredients

  • King salmon fillet (about 1/1 or 1lb. per serving)
  • Sweet onion (1 large, sliced)
  • Celery stalks, roughly chopped (1 per person)
  • Tomato, chopped in large chunks – fresh if possible
  • Smoked bacon
  • Black seaweed from Alaska (dried, or seaweed from an asian supermarket)
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Place salmon in a glass baking dish, skin side down. Sprinkle garlic powder, pepper and salt on top. Add cooked bacon slices on top to cover. Top bacon with sliced onion and roughly chopped celery stalks. Chop tomato in large chunks and sprinkle over salmon with small handful of seaweed. Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees. Cook 10 minutes per pound. So if cooking a 4-5 lbs salmon, cook for 40-50 minutes. You can serve with rice.

The tomato and celery and bacon keep the salmon moist while the seaweed gives a sea salt flavor. If you can not find seaweed, you can always use sea salt. 

I don’t know about you but this sounds good and easy to make 🙂

Traditional Native recipes

Traditional Native American Recipes

Hello all!

Today i thought I would share with you some traditional Native recipes using Old World’s ingredients (don’t worry I am giving you some good substitutions) and ingredients from our Mother Earth. Lots of fresh ingredients are used, ideally homegrown. If you are like me and live in a place with no backyard, well do what you can. I have a large balcony and in the Springtime  it gets filled with pots containing herbs of all kinds as well as vegetables. Nothing better than just opening the door to get fresh herbs for your recipes 🙂 And if that’s not possible for you, well go to the farmer’s market (some are open year long) and buy whatever you can from your local farmers.

I am also including links to sites with good recipes so you can bookmark them (well first bookmark my site…;). For some recipes, I will give you some time saving tips. Yes you might lose some of the charms of doing it “old style” but sometimes, we are a bit pressed for time….Enjoy and please comment or share your own recipes below!

P.S. I might be adding more directions to the recipes below than you would find on other traditional native sites. Indeed, oftentimes, I found that recipes were really simple but not very directive (e.g. no quantity, no time, etc.). But then again, cook from your heart and do what taste good to you!

Bean and Corn Stew/Soup (Cheyenne and Cree influences)

white bean stewIngredients

  • Dried Pinto Beans (any white beans) 
  • Shelled Corn (sweet, dried, homegrown)
  • salt,tablespoon or more
  • 1-2 dried red chilles deseeded (use your favorite ones)
  • bunch of fresh green onions, large bunch
  • smoked/dried pemmican , other meats diced

FYI: Use any type of white beans. Ratio of beans to corn is 2 to 1 (e.g. 2 cans of beans, one can of corn). You can then use canned cooked beans, rinse them well before. You can also use sweet canned corn as not a lot of people grow their own. Pemmican is an mixture of dry meat (crushed to a powder) and fat, sometimes fruits were added to it. Nowadays, beef is mostly used but game meat was often used by our ancestors. You can replace it with beef or ham or if you wish to make your own, visit this site. Or this one. You can also use vegetable broth instead of the water to cover beans or a mixture of the two.

Directions

If using dry beans and corn, soaked separately overnight. If using canned, do not soak (just rinse), place beans in a big pot, cover with water (or broth) and add salt and diced chiles. Let simmer, for 15 minutes or so, then add corn then pemmican if using and jerk meat of your choice. If not using pemmican, just use ham or even beef diced or shredded. As stated above, ratio of beans to corn is 2 to 1. So you can use 2 cans of beans or 2 cups to one can or 1 cup of corn. Let simmer until meat is tender and consistency is one of a stew (another 15 minutes or so). Right before serving, add green onions or leeks on top and serve with frybread. Enjoy!

white bean and corn stew

Green bean soup (Onondaga Nation)

Green bean soup

Ingredients

  • 6 red potatoes, unpeeled, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 handfuls of fresh green beans, tails off, cut in half
  • 1/2 or more lb bacon or side pork
  • Water, the amount necessary to cover your vegetables for cooking
  • Milk, an equal amount with the water
  • 1/2 stick butter (or maybe a tad less…)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Cut your beans and potatoes and place in big pot covered with water. Begin cooking. Cook your bacon in a pan and once crispy and brown add to the beans and potatoes. Some might not even  cook it in a pan, just placing it in with the vegetables. However, that’s not for everyone. Alternatively, you could add it crispy on top of your strew at the very end before serving (as it will get somewhat soggy in the soup). Once veggies are cooked (*I would add carrots to this soup, just add them in at the same as the potatoes and beans), add milk (equal to the amount of water you originally put in). Add butter, salt and pepper and serve with fry bread.

beans

Salmon stuffed frybread (Nishnawbe Nation)

salmon patty sandwich

Ingredients

  • 1 Or 2 Eggs
  • 2 Cans of salmon or fresh filet cooked and flaked
  • One Batch Of Your Favorite Fry Bread Dough (see below for mine)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Bread crumbs 
  • Oil or butter to fry

My fry bread dough:

3 cups flour, 1 1/2 cup warm water, 1 tsp baking powder, pinch of salt, pinch of sugar and if wanted 1 tsp yeast (mixed in warm water). Mix dry ingredients then add water with yeast in it. Mix until dough forms. Let rest for 45 minutes if you think you can wait….

If you feel lazy, you can always buy a frybread mix on Amazon.

Directions

Form patties first. I personally would use fresh salmon rather than canned. Mix flaked fish with one egg (two if necessary) and bread crumbs. I would add green onions and parsley but it’s up to you. Shape into patties about half inch thick and a few inches wide. Fry them in a hot pan with oil (the original recipe called for Crisco). Once done, in the same pan, add one piece of frybread dough, place one salmon patty on top, then add another piece of frybread dough, forming a “sandwich”, sealing the edges. Fry, flipping half way through. Eat as is or cut in half and add vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes and pickles to make it more sandwich like. 

bannock

Gooseberry cobbler (Abenaki)

cobbler

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cups cornmeal plus 2 tbsp
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cups butter or margarine (cold)
  • 3/4 cups boling water
  • 2 cans ea (15 oz) sweetened whole gooseberries. You could also use frozen blueberries or cherries, thawed.
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Directions

Sift flour with 1/2 cup cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Add butter or margarine and blend using pastry blender or fork and fingers. Blend until roughly mixed. Add hot water and blend well. Separate dough in half. Place half on a 8″x8″x2″ baking pan, pressing it to the bottom. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp cornmeal. Mash half of gooseberries in their syrup or juice or other fruit you are using (you can even mix 2 types of fruits). Then stir the remaining gooseberries with lemon juice and honey. Pour over dough in pan. Place the other half of the dough on top (it can be roughly placed) then top with remaining 1 tbsp cornmeal. Bake in oven at 400-425 (depending on your oven) for about 30 minutes, until top is golden.

P.S. you can see how this recipe uses more traditional ingredients. Indeed, in our modern days, oatmeal and sugar are often used in cobblers instead of cornmeal and honey. 

cobbler

Kick the cold out of ya tea (Akwesasne Mohawk)

green tea

Ingredients

  • Two Large handfulls White cedar needles (or just regular cedar)
  • Tea pot worth of water
  • Honey
  • REAL Lemon Juice(not the fake stuff)

FYI: I also posted more herbal remedies to treat common ailments. Read about it here. As We are in the middle of winter, cold season, I thought I would post this very easy and not too bad tasting tea recipe. It apparently has numerous vitamins in it and can help with cold symptoms such as chills, cough and runny nose.

Directions

Place needles directly in water and boil until water becomes a green color. Discard needles. Remove from heat and mix one cup of tea with a tsp of honey and a squirt of lemon. Drink a few times a day for a day or two and you will kick that cold out of ya!

 

So those were a few recipes that I wanted to share with you. A bit of everything. More to come soon. For interesting Native recipes, check this site. Or this site

medicine wheel herb garden

Native American natural remedies

Native American natural healing remediesnatural herbs

Hello everyone!

As you know, herbs or natural medicines are part of the Native way. They are used for cleansing, finding balance, connecting with Mother Earth and the Creator, expressing gratitude, etc. As well as healing ailments in a natural way.

As a mental health professional, I absolutely understand that at times, medication is essential. healing secretsEssential to balance one’s biochemistry for example. I have and do take medication at times as well but when possible, I would rather use what Mother Earth gives us. However, I have to advice you to consult with your doctor before making major changes in your life. That being said, natural remedies can complement and at times replace, more chemical ones. I thought I would present to you some natural remedies to common ailments. Part of the information below comes from this wonderful book on the right. You can buy it here. Alright, let’s get started. Just look over the following information or scroll down to a particular ailment. Also, the herb garden on top of the post? It is in the shape of the medicine wheel. How cool is that?

 

Colds and fever

First off, most people believe that a fever needs to be brought down as soon as possible. In fact, a fever is sometimes a good sign. A fever is basically a sign that your body is fighting a bacteria or virus. And since certain bacteria and viruses can only survive at a certain temperature, by heating itself up, the body is in defense mode and trying to slow down the growth of whatever is invading it. Native people understood that concept. Just think for a second of their practices. Especially the concept of sweatlodges. Oftentimes, they would try to raise a sick’s person body temperature and make them sweat. Nowadays, most people might not agree with the principle but doctors will nonetheless often advice patients to let the fever run its course as long as it is lower than 103 degrees. if your fever has been going on for more than 2 days and is higher than 103, please consult your doctor.

Ok, now that that is settled, I have to say that herbs can also help bring your fever down. Herbs such as cayenne, ginger, sage, peppermint, goldenseal, milkweed, hops, honeysuckle and yarrow. All herbs are best taken as teas (using their leaves). Drinking them as a tea also helps the body remain hydrated. Therefore, add a teaspoon of dried herbs or 2 teaspoons of fresh herbs to a cup of boiling water, let steep for 15 minutes and drink up to 3 cups a day.

Sage

Sage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another great remedy for fever is willow bark. However, as willow bark contains salicin (a compound similar to active ingredients in Aspirin), DO NOT GIVE IT TO CHILDREN. For adults, steep a teaspoon in cup of boiling water for 15 minutes and drink.

As for colds, a few different herbs can be taken. Ginger is a good one to neutralize cold-causing viruses and bring down a fever. Licorice can help relieve congestion, clear the lungs, and helps fight viruses. As you might have heard from your grand-mother, garlic can also be effective to stop viruses, as its active ingredients travel directly to the affected areas. The bad news? Garlic is more effective when eaten raw (one or 2 cloves a day). Or you can make a garlic tea, by smashing numerous cloves and letting them steep in hot water for 6 to 8 hours. All I can say is good luck drinking that tea!

Ginger

Ginger

Skin conditions

Goldenseal

Goldenseal

Native Americans were no strangers to itchy skin. After all, they lived surrounded with insects, nature and at times harsh weather. They did not have the luxury of calamine lotion or cortisone cream…Therefore, they often resorted to herb treatments, applied directly to the skin. For example, they would use hazel, goldenseal, licorice root, echinacea or camomile in a wash. Apply directly to the skin or as a wet compress. Oats are also great at relieving itchy skin. Today, one can take a bath with oats sprinkle in it or put oats in a cheesecloth and then in the bathtub.

Certain conditions such as eczema and psoriasis can also cause itchy skin. One’s skin should be kept well hydrated and moisturized no matter what but some herbs can also be useful. Oats, once again (wet and applied directly to the skin or in a bath) are helpful as well as licorice root (can be drunk as a tea or applied to the skin as a wash) and watercress (same as licorice root). Other herbs such as goldenseal, stinging nettle or red clover can also be used. One can crush clover leaves and use them as a poultice to relieve itching.

red clover

Red clover

Psoriasis can be not only unsightly but also very itchy. Some ways to help are to take cool baths, apply moisturizer and get sunshine. The latter is often effective at clearing the skin, at least for a while. But as exposure to the sun comes with other potential problems (hello cancer!), you might want to try herbs as well. Camomile is one of the best. You can apply compresses to the skin, buy camomile lotion or drink it as a tea. Licorice root can also be drunk as a tea or used in a wash. And once again, oats in the bathtub, which soothe the skin. Finally, as strange as it might seem, red peppers, or rather an ingredient they contain, capsaicin, can help relieve the discomfort of skin conditions. Doctors recommend buying capsaicin capsules in health store. Note that those ointments can be irritating at first but can be helpful over time.

camomile

camomile

Headaches

If you are like me, you get a lot of headaches. And further, if you are like me, most of your headaches are tension headaches (due to tense muscles in the shoulders and neck). The best way to reduce those headaches is then by relaxing the muscles. One good way to do so is by applying heat either with a heating pad, a hot bath or shower or a hot towel applied to the area. Moreover, in our world today, a lot of headaches are unfortunately due to stress, emotional or otherwise. I found relief by practising the teachings of the Red Road and the medicine wheel, trying to achieve balance within my four sides. Finally, some herbs can help relieve some of the pain caused by headaches. For example, willow, peppermint, goldenrod, violet, rose, lavender and sage are all good when drank in a tea. Vervain tea (just like lavender) also acts as a mild sedative, helping the drinker to relax. Finally, although it was not used by Native people, feverfew has been shown to help reduce headaches and migraines in about 2/3 of those using it consistently. You can chew its leaves, use them to make a tea or take it as a supplement found in health food stores. Don’t take if you are pregnant though as it can increase the risks of miscarriage.

feverfew leaves

feverfew leaves

Indigestion

fennel seeds

Fennel seeds

Many of us struggle with digestive issues, might it be gas, irritable bowel syndrome, cramps or heartburns. Rolaids, Tums, and prescribed medication are found in many homes across the country. Well, herbs can also be useful. I can attest to that one, being a sufferer of digestive issues as well as members of my family. Gas has been around way longer than beans and can be uncomfortable. The best herbs to use to relieve gas are fennel, peppermint, sage, licorice, goldenseal (that herb seems to have some kind of magical power to relieve every ailment….), dandelion or yarrow. You can use any of them in teas and take 3-4 times a day.

As for indigestion (feeling bloated, nauseated, too full), herbs can also be useful to reduce its discomfort. If one is feeling too full, a tea made of goldenseal, ginger or wormwood can be useful. Ginger will also help with the feeling of being nauseated. To relieve bloating, fennel and peppermint work wonders (peppermint also helps with heartburns). They are both staples in my home and have been for many years. They both help reduce the buildup on gas in the digestive track.

Yeast infections

Echinacea

Echinacea

Yes yes I know, not the most pleasant ailment to discuss. But it is a frequent one so let’s discuss it. And believe it or not, it is not only a female problem. Indeed, it is caused by the candida fungus, which can be present in different areas of the body (even the armpits). Unfortunately, one needs to see a doctor when one has a yeast infection but certain herbal remedies can help give a boost to anti-fungal medication. For example, echinacea can help stimulate the body’s white cells, which help destroy the organism causing the infection. You can drink it as a tea or apply it to the infected area (depending which one it is…).

Further, bearberry contains an anti-fungal compound also found in blueberries and cranberries (hence why doctors recommend drinking cranberry or blueberry juice). You can drink it as a tea. Finally, sage, goldenseal (really, go get some right now, it cures everything :)) and goldenrod also contain an anti-fungal compound. Drink them as a tea or apply them to the skin.

So here you are, some herbal remedies for you. Don’t forget to check out the incredible book mentioned above. It has become a sacred book in my home! If there are any ailments not mentioned in here that you would like input on, please write me a comment below and I will answer you.

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