Tag: juices

Herbal Power Juices – Your Food is your Medicine.

Spring juicing in Redhall Walled Gardens, Colinton Dell

Our bodies digest raw, enzyme active juice far more quickly and efficiently than solid food. Juices are nutrient-dense and supercharge the body in the same way that herbal tinctures work. Phytonutrients are crucial to keeping our bodies healthy and free of cancer, digestive problems, degenerative and aging illnesses. Juicing is popular across a wide range of nutrition therapies including weight loss, detoxing, liver cleansing and Gerson Therapy. Along with the increased interest in nutrition and juicing has come a multitude of electric juicers, blenders and other appliances out on the market. For my workshops I use a very simple manual wheatgrass juicer because:

  1. It is easy to assemble, easy to wash, easy to transport
  2. It does not require electricity so it can be used anywhere
  3. It is perfect for high fibre ‘weeds’ that will tangle blender blades and burn out motors
  4. Everyone including the kids love turning the handle!!
  5. It costs under £30 (as of writing this)

So here is where you get The Lexen Healthy Juicer.  If you want to skip straight to the Herbal Juice Recipies then click here.

Around 2500 years ago, Hippocrates 460-357 BC, thought of as the father of modern medicine, wrote this famous quote: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. The actual ancient Greek (Lakonic) text more explicitly translates as: “Your nutrition is your medicine” or, your food is your cure! In the Hippocratic Oath taken by doctors when they qualify, one of the things they promise to do is “I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure”. It is therefore so surprising that in the sophisticated 21st century “many doctors’ knowledge of nutrition is rudimentary. Most feel much more comfortable with drugs than foods, and the “food as medicine” philosophy of Hippocrates has been largely neglected”. British Medical Journal 2004. Ignorance of nutrition is a huge failing in keeping the Hippocaratic Oath as good nutrition is the key to a healthy life, free of disease. When illness does develop, a focus on diet will nearly always reveal a lack or imbalance in the diet that is negatively affecting a persons’ health.

Go back further than Hippocrates to the dawn of mankind. Homo sapiens evolved as a distinct species from other hominids around 200 thousand years ago during the Middle Paleolithic (Middle Stone Age) period between 300,000 to 50,000 years ago.  During this time, around 80,000 years ago we know that man was using herbs as healing medicines from archaeological evidence in the Shanidar Caves in Iraq. We know our bodies have not evolved much since so what were we designed to eat?

We can find this out from archaeological evidence and also from the few non-Westernised native peoples who follow still their original diets today. From 1989, scientist Staffan Lindeberg M.D., led scientific surveys of the diet and health native people of Kitava Island off Papua New Guinea. The Kitava Study, found that these people do not suffer from strokes, heart disease, diabetes, obesity or hypertension.

Farming did not develop until around 10,000 years ago, so our ancestors were mainly nomadic as they follow the foods that were in season. An ancestral diet would have mainly consisted mainly of available leafy wild plants (herbs, weeds and vegetables), berries (fruit), seeds and nuts (when in season) and roots. Eggs and small birds were easily taken from birds nests. A walk along the seashore would have provided easily foraged shellfish, some fish speared in the shallows, crabs and turtle eggs. As light weapons were developed some lean wild meat was added – rabbit, squirrel, small deer. Hunting larger animals involved a lot of effort, coordination and risk and would only have happened occasionally.

What we were not eating was high gluten farmed grains (wheat, bread, pasta), dairy products (milk, butter, cheese), salt, refined sugar (sugar, fizzy drinks, sweets, cakes), foods with long harvests or cooking times and processed oils (no chips and crisps for them!). The early ancestors of plants like wheat, were grains like spelt which has a far lower, and more soluble gluten content than its modern relative.

We also had a lot of exercise as we moved around looking for food. Once berries were picked from a berry patch, we moved on to find more food in another place. As the seasons changed we would make the journey to where we remembered that nuts grew, or where the first shoots of Spring appeared in a warm hollow. We weren’t sitting for hours at desks, in cars, or in front of televisions, computers and Playstations.


The plants we ate were quite different to those we eat now as tender broccoli, plump carrots, watery tomatoes and vacuous lettuce were not around then. Here in Britain we would have been eating plants similar to:

Spring: The tops and shoots of clivers (goosegrass, sticky willie), nettle, chickweed, dandelion leaves, lambs’ lettuce, wild rocket, hogweed, sweet cicely, fiddlehead ferns, young clover, wild garlic (ransoms, bears’ garlic) and plants like celery-flavoured ground elder Aegopodium podagraria (introduced to Britain by the Romans) and three-cornered leek Allium triquetum (first cultivated by 1759).

Nowadays many people are suspicious of eating this wild, cornucopia of free, health foods. They do not trust food that doesn’t come pre-washed in plastic bags with Best Before dates. They spray and kill all the ‘weeds’ in their lawns and gardens without realising that many are delicious, and many have enormous health benefits. And for many used to a soft food diet, the higher fibre, slightly bitter, tougher, hairier mouth-feel is a strange experience.

Juicing is one way to obtain the benefits of plants in a delicious way more compatible with our modern diets. I think of herbal juices as Power Shots. They are fresh, living, strong tasting, potent green juices that are full of the life and energy of the plant with all its nutrients antioxidants, enzymes, vitamins, minerals and other benefits intact. If you are juicing on site then nothing in lost during the long journey to the supermarket. Also juices are quickly absorbed by the body.

As wild juices are so strong I recommend that they are used as shots in combination with more popular fruit and vegetable juices. A “herb shot” is 20 ml in a 200ml glass of juice. Or around 30 ml in a 300 ml glass. All approximate as Paleolithic people did not carry a measuring jug around with them!

Try my Herbal Juice Recipies and to keep your supply up out of season try these simple pasteurising instructions.

A Jar of Beetroot – Beta vulgaris

Home Hydroponics or The Will to Survive!

Beetroots contain potent antioxidants and nutrients, including Vitamin A, Thiamine (Vit. B1), Riboflavin (Vit. B2), Niacin (Vit. B3), Pantothenic acid (B5), Vitamin B6, Folate (Vit. B9), Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron. Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, Zinc, Boron and Betaine (which may protect against liver disease).

Research has shown that drinking 500 ml of beetroot juice can lower blood pressure within an hour (which helps to prevent heart and circulation problems). The effects are even more noticeable after three or four hours, and can still be measured up to 24 hours later. At Exeter University, scientists have found that drinking 500 ml beetroot juice several hours before exercise, increases staying power for 20 per cent longer than drinking the same amount of blackcurrant juice.

So unless you really don’t like harmless red coloured urine, drink lots of beetroot juice – it’s good for you! Try mixing it with pear or apple and wild juices!

Also thickly sow beetroot seed in a flat bed and, when it sprouts, cut it as a delicious  “cut and come again” addition to salads. Power sprouts!

Pasteurising Elderberry, Nettle, Cleavers and other juices

How do you make sure you have a year round supply of your favourite herbal power shots and wild juices? Pasteurising is the best way to ensure you can keep them without buying a second fridge, although they must be refrigerated once opened. If like me you love the sight of larder shelves groaning with bottles and jars, labeled with mysterious handwritten labels, then pasteurising your own juices is definitely for you!

Pasteurised fruit and herb juices can be made by heating the extracted, filtered juice and then hot-filling it into sterilised bottles. This method works perfectly well and is a lot easier to do in a domestic kitchen than heating or baking the already filled bottles! Ironically, I have found that elderberry juice pasteurises itself when the juice is extracted by boiling to make elderberry syrup. This makes a really rich juice that is excellent for cooking.

Heat the juice in a stainless steel pan* to 80-95 degrees C for 1 to 10 minutes. The exact time can vary according to the fruit. I prefer using a lower heat as I think that this preserves more of the beneficial properties of the juices. The length of time depends on the size of bottle that you are then going to fill. As a rule of thumb – and this has worked for all the wild juices I have tried – allow:

10 minutes at 80 degrees when filling 0.33 cl bottles (330 ml)

15 minutes at 80 degrees when filling 0.50 cl bottles (500 ml)

20 minutes at 80 degrees when filling 0.75 cl bottles (750 ml)

Check your temperature with a cooking thermometer and make sure you sterilise your bottles. It’s that simple!

If you do decide to go into small scale production, drill a hole in a stainless steel bucket and attach a tap (or two) to make a very effective bottle filler.

* A stainless steel saucepan is best as the fruit acidity reacts with aluminium. Although leaf juices are not so fussy it is best to avoid using aluminium as there is early evidence that aluminium contamination can be linked to Alzheimer’s disease and some cancers.