Tag Archives: herbs

New Book by Stephanie Rose Bird, reviewed here

I have recently had the opportunity to  review a new book called Earth Mama’s Spiritual Guide to Weight Loss  by Stephanie Rose Bird, author of several self-help books rooted in earth magic and ancestral wisdom. Stephanie is also an accomplished fine artist with work in many galleries and exhibits.

Here is my review of this book in exchange for a signed copy from Stephanie.

Earth Mama’s Spiritual Guide to Weight Loss

by Stephanie Rose Bird.  Somerset, England: Green Magic Publishing, 2017.

Spirit helpers, affirmations, meditations and more are all intrinsic to Stephanie Rose Bird’s own roller coaster weight loss journey. More than a “diet” book – and she does talk about food, how we are hard-wired to make certain food choices, and how food addiction affects us –she shares with the reader her insight, backsliding, humor and hope.

There are many useful guidelines in this book, starting with Part I – Wisdom of the Sages. The author, a bit of a city girl, tells us about her experience living in the Australian “out bush”: the knowledge of some of her aboriginal friends; and the earth wisdom she acquired spending time with them.  There is an introductory section about herbs and how to prepare them for use, with emphasis on a few herbs (and foods) that the reader will likely use for weight loss supplements. A fun hand-crafting project follows; these are interspersed throughout the book and are designed to inspire and attune the reader with the teaching.

After meeting Gaia, the author takes us on a Goddess Vision Quest to meet our Power Animal. Gods, Goddesses, Iwa of the African diaspora, and beings of the Hindu pantheon: we are taught that they “hear” us in our need. They encourage us with healing and discretion. There is nothing we can’t talk to them about, and nothing they have not heard.

In some of the herbal sections, the author explains how to use flowers for the journey, an especially lovely gesture. Flower Essences, Hydrosols (floral waters), potions, essential oils, the exotic Monoi Tiare oil, all enliven and beautify. The Rose flower affirmations are delightful and relevant. Herbal baths, healthful smoothies, an Ayurvedic primer (including short pieces on Tulsi Basil and Henna), and numerous activities are found throughout the book. I especially liked learning more about the author’s personal relationship with deity, the vast African pantheon and reading the African proverbs such as this from the Maasai: “Happiness is as good as food.”

Stephanie Rose Bird, author, artist, scholar, Earth Mama

I like the author’s approach toward food and eating. She often refers to weight loss as a personal “journey”, and surely this approach can apply to any issue one is dealing with. The book seems to target women, with reference to baby-weight, PMS and menopause, and personal adornment (although this is mostly gender non-specific).

The author loves aromas and aromatherapy, and I am all over that bandwagon. She also loves (as do I!) Lord Ganesha, Remover of Obstacles. What I do not love is the way the book is organized; it could be more useful if the subjects were put into chapters. The author has assembled a good bit of information here and I would like to access it easier. Also, I could appreciate some editing relative to sentence structure and repetitive wording. Perhaps a revised edition in the future?

The generous spirit of this book is to instill confidence, self-esteem and sensuality, finding delight in self and nature, and knowing you don’t have to do it alone. The Goddess has your back on this, and so does Stephanie Rose Bird.

book review © 2017 Doreen Shababy




Spaghetti Squash with Walnut Pesto

Let’s plate this dish!
Looks good, huh? This light Sunday evening supper couldn’t be easier, especially if you can pick your own basil fresh from the “garden”… in this case, our light set-up where we’ve been growing parsley and basil all winter… and cilantro and occasionally lettuce. Nothing fancy, but it does keep us in fresh herbs, and they are easy to grow. You can see the basil, below, and being part of the mint family, they grow air-roots in that “tropical” condition under the dome, and when I trimmed off the tops, I just added a little extra soil and BOOM! I am on my 4th cutting here. Totally worth it. We put a timer on the lights, so aside from daily visits we only have to feed and water. One of our friends cleaned out an attic last fall, and guess what was up there… bat guano… that’s right BAT SHIT! Awesome fertilizer!
Below is a fresh parsley leaf, in the same sort of tray as the basil, but grown without the dome once it had germinated.

A large basil leaf.

These are the ingredients. A pile of fresh basil leaves with some parsley, a handful of toasted walnuts, and about 3 cloves of garlic. I got the pink plastic bowl at my friends’ moving sale, and I use it all the time! The size is great and it holds a lot.

I use a mini-food processor, which I love, and start with the basil. I put a little in at first, then added the garlic and the rest of the basil, then the walnuts.

I didn’t show in any of the photos, but we also added sea salt and of course extra virgin olive oil to make the pesto smooth. My husband can’t eat dairy foods so our pesto doesn’t have Parmesan cheese in it, therefore the salt is very important! I added a good teaspoon. As for the amount of oil, most recipes use quite a bit, but we tone it down and go heavier on the vegetable matter. 
As you can see below, the pesto is more of a spread than a sauce, but this is how we like it, and I highly encourage you to fix it how you prefer. That is the beauty of the kitchen and sharing food and laughter and good company. It’s all good… unless you leave out the salt!
Perfect for a light meal any time of day. You can see why you really don’t need an exact recipe to make pesto. I’ve also made cilantro pesto with toasted pumpkin seeds and garlic, and it was splendid. If the herbs are fresh, and you have some seeds or nuts to toast, and some fresh garlic, making herbal pesto is the quick, easy and healthy way to go.
Growing basil, cilantro or parsley is easy to do, and even one tray can provide you with an amazing amount of fresh herbage for meals. This is the tray of parsley — it’s a jungle in there! You can even buy small light set-ups for single trays. We have an 8-tray rack, but we used to start seedlings for sale… might again, but not this year. Do what you can, you will love the tasty results.

Herbal Treatments for the Hair – Part Two: Conditioning

Part Two of Herbal Treatments for the Hair explains how to make an herbal tea for your hair, and a conditioning pack for deep treatment. The hollyhock flower pictured above is one plant that can be used to treat dandruff and other scalp irritations; the red ones can be used as a colorant, if you’re adventurous!
Herbal Hair Tea
    One of the simplest ways to use herbs on your hair is to make a strong tea or decoction of the appropriate herbs – such as birch leaf and nettles for a general tonic – strain into a wide bowl (put the soggy herbs into the compost), and place the bowl into a deep sink or tub. Lean over the tub so that your head and hair are over the bowl, and pour cupfuls of the warm brew repeatedly over your hair until thoroughly wetted, catching what you pour back into the bowl.
Continue pouring and working it into your hair and scalp until the brew is too cold for comfort. At this point, you can either rinse your hair with lukewarm water, or wrap in a dark towel (to prevent staining), then dry and style.

    To make herbal hair tea, take 1 quart boiling water and add 1 or 2 handfuls of plant material; turn off heat and steep for about 20 minutes. You may need more water and herbs for longer hair. This potion will keep in the refrigerator for about 3 days.
    You can also use herbal hair tea as a scalp treatment by rubbing it into your scalp every day or two, depending on what condition you are dealing with. I think you can overdo it with regular shampooing, especially in the dry cold of winter. While the scalp still needs conditioning, the hair can get dry and brittle.

   Most commercial shampoos are detergents that strip the hair and scalp of any natural oils and acidity it may have had; they may, in fact, overstimulate the scalp into producing more oils. So the herbal hair treatments are a good thing, restoring the scalp and hair follicles with new vigor.

Messy but Fun
    An alternative method of herbal hair treatment is especially for deep and long-lasting results, and one that requires significantly more plant material. You will use dried powdered herbs (use a blender to make your own) to make an herbal pack for the hair and scalp. Hollyhock flower, rose petal and willow bark, for example, can be used to rescue irritating dandruff, mixed with a little apple cider vinegar and applied warm to the scalp. This can also be used as a coloring technique, such as for henna (an exotic, not local, plant); we will discuss dyes and colorants in Part Six.
    Before you begin, tie your hair up, if possible, and rub a schmeer of petroleum jelly on your forehead and neck at the hairline, and the backs of your ears, so your skin doesn’t take on any stain.

    To make an herbal hair pack, you’ll need 4 to 8 ounces of powdered plant material to do this, depending on how long your hair is. Use approximately 1 pint of boiling water to the herbs to make a runny paste, adding more hot water if necessary to keep it easy to work and spread. Once it’s cool enough (you still want it fairly warm), apply to the hair in sections, from scalp to ends, then roll up each section and clip it to keep it out of the way.
    Keep in mind that this is a very messy procedure, so plan accordingly, i.e., newspapers to cover the floor, old towels and grubby clothes, a helpful friend who has sworn not to take your picture with their cell phone, etc… Once the pack is in place, wrap your hair with plastic wrap, put a dark towel around your neck, and just sight tight for about 20 minutes. Keep paper towels handy to wipe up any drips. Then head to the shower to rinse and shampoo thoroughly.

   Whether you choose the herbal hair tea or the hair pack method to treat your hair, you can expect your hair and scalp to feel clean and refreshed. Depending on the herbs you choose, the results will be gradual (except for dyes and colorings) and gentle. As mentioned in Part One, some herbs are used for more than one condition. Rosemary and sage are good herbs to start with for dark hair; chamomile is often used for light hair.