Herbal Update 8/11/2021

Late last week, I finished the Client Care section. Now, I am able to officially begin the the Master Clinical Herbalist course! For those that are interested, here is a link to the course.

To say I’m excited, is an understatement. When I was in college, and first discovering the world of herbal medicine, this course was one of the first ones that I stumbled upon. But, at the time, the cost was prohibitive for someone who only worked during the summer months. But now, since I’ve taken the plunge and begun the Phytotherapy Diploma, this course is included.

The Master Herbalist course seems to be one of the best ones on the market and it seems to be rather in-depth. Like I said, I’ve been waiting a few years to do this program. Even though I have taken other herbal courses in the past, I never really followed the program correctly. Meaning, I didn’t experiment with herbs, I didn’t make things. I read the materials, took the quizzes, but nothing really stuck. I didn’t get my hands dirty — I didn’t learn much.

I’m hoping for that to change with this program. I am hoping to make some herbal remedies and really get down and dirty with the herbs. This is also the portion of the Diploma program that I’ve been waiting for to make this part of the blog (the herbalism section) more than just updates. I have a few topics planned for this section specifically.

That’s all for now….

Herbal Update June 1, 2021

Earlier today, I submitted all the assignments for the Ethnobotany module in the Phytotherapy Program at Heart of Herbs. I now move onto the Microbiology module.

In a few more modules, I will be beginning the Master Clinical Herbalist course portion of the program. That is when I plan to post these Herbal Updates a bit more frequently.

Herbal Blessings!

Herbal Update 4/13/21

Another Module of Science

Over the last few weeks, I have been working on the second module of the Phytotherapy Diploma program at Heart of Herbs school. This module is a bit more self-directed than the other one was. Which makes things a little more difficult for me. While there are clear guidelines for what I should be studying, making sure I study each point can be a challenge.

That said, I do hope to finish this module by the end of the month. I have been able to dedicate time to studying for the herbal program almost every night for the last two weeks. This has helped a lot with consistency and feeling like I am “doing something.”

Soon, I will be turning my attention to the quiz at the end of the module. Everything is open-book/open-note in this program. So, I’ve started a Google Doc with the questions and I notate the answer as I come across it. Many of the questions are multiple choice, but there are five short answer ones. I will begin working on those this week.

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I am really looking forward to the next module of this program: Ethnobotany. This is something I’ve had an interest in since college when I first took a botany class. Interestingly, I was also enrolled in a couple anthropology courses that same semester. So, I think the blending of the two piqued my interest.

While I am looking forward to the Ethnobotany module, the true herbalism studies are still a bit of ways away. There are a couple more modules to complete before I can officially begin the Master Clinical Herbalist program. This is the place where I think my interest will really pick up with this program and I will fall in love with herbal medicine once again. It is also where I hope that these herbal updates become a little more interesting to read (and write, if I’m being honest).

I totally understand the need for the background in the sciences that we are studying such as human A&P, botany, microbiology, etc. After all, one of the reasons why I opted for the full PTD (Phytotherapy Diploma) is because it includes all this other information. I know, deep down, I will have a more well-rounded understanding of all things herbs by the time this journey is over. But, I’m really looking forward to making my own medicine, growing herbs, and feeling a connection to them.

Program Evaluation/Notes

There were a few reasons why I decided to I wanted to document my herbal journey while completing this program. You can read about them in more detail in this post. But, I also want to use this opportunity to help others if they feel inclined to go on an herbal journey themselves. So, every so often, I will kind of “review” the program I am doing. My reviews will always be honest, but polite. Also, since this program was recently re-done, there still may be some kinks that the school is working out. REMEMBER: These opinions are my own. I am not getting any type of compensation from any herbal school to write a review of their programs, whether it be positive or negative.

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When I first began this program I was extremely impressed. The first unit in the Phytotherapy program is a welcome unit which is very helpful. It goes over housekeeping information. The first module with actual course material for my PTD program is on Human Anatomy & Physiology. I was impressed with this unit. Included in the course was an A&P coloring book that some students may benefit from. After a few general units pertaining to this topic, each subsequent unit was dedicated to a certain body system. For many of these body systems, there were PowerPoint presentations, embedded course videos, handouts, and more. Each unit ended with a quiz or some type of activity.

To be honest, since this course was quite costly, I was hesitant at first. I had thoughts over if it would be worth my money. After completed the A&P module, I was started to feel better about it.

Then I began the botany unit, which was one I was looking forward to. As mentioned above, this unit is a little more self-directed than the other module. And for me, that was a bit of a disappointment. I know that over the course of this program, this material is covered a few more times. But, I thought a little more effort would have been put in by the course creators. It’s basically a list of topics that need to be covered, a PowerPoint, a handout, a video and then the 50+ question quiz.

I will admit that the book that’s included with this module, Botany in a Day is one I’ve been wanting for a while. And that has proved helpful and I can’t wait to start looking at different flowers and plants and using it in the field.

I’m not saying that I’m not learning anything from this module. I was just expecting a little more direction/guidance on something that pertains directly to herbs.

We will see what the Ethnobotany module is like in a few weeks!

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The Sun is Out, The Weather is Warm

Okay, so another non-food related post. But without recipes made last weekend, I’m not really sure what else to talk about.

We are now in the second week of March and the temperatures in Connecticut are slowly beginning to tick up. The snow is melting, the grass is beginning to turn green once again. Spring is on the way!

Some basil, a staple culinary herb

This is around the time of year where I usually start thinking about whether or not I want to plant some herbs. The last few years I haven’t, but with the herbal studies in full force, I think it would be in my best interest to plant some. Of course, the hardest part (or is it the most fun?) is deciding which herbs to grow. Sometimes my family and I would plant strictly culinary herbs such as parsley and basil. In years passed I grew some medicinal herbs as well like chamomile and lavender to name a few. I even planted dandelion one year much to my father’s chagrin.

Once I took a hiatus from studying herbal remedies, and other interests filled my time, I didn’t have much energy or even thought of gardening. But now, it seems like a perfect growing season to do it.

Tomorrow I will be posting an herbalism update, my first official one! Then Thursday, we will return to the regularly scheduled food-related posts!

Until next time…

My Strange, Varied Path to Herbalism

You might want to make a cup of tea. This is a long post!

I first discovered that herbs could be used as medicine when I was in college. I was an undergraduate history major studying Medieval Europe. One day, while roaming the seemingly never-ending stacks of my university’s library, I came across a book on the pagan religion Wicca. After thumbing through it, it sparked an interest in me and I checked it out of the library. While I was reading that book, I learned that herbs were used in Wiccan rituals for magical purposes. The book also taught me that herbs could be used as medicine. While I can’t remember the title, had some simple herbal tea recipes and recipes on making salves and lip balms.

Eventually, my interest in using medicinal herbs led to its own research. One day, I stumbled upon Mountain Rose Herbs. MRH is a company from the West Coast that sells bulk herbs, prepared herbal products, herbal medicine supplies, and more. At the time, their site had a page dedicated to herbal education programs.

First, I looked for programs that were located in my home state. But sadly, there weren’t any. The closest one was in Vermont and it only offered on-site learning. At the time, I couldn’t do that. So I just started looking for schools and teachers that offered distance learning. Yes, this was being done long before the pandemic! It was at this time that I learned that the United States offers no formal certificate or licensure for herbalists. But that was okay with me (it still is!), I only had a passing interest in herbalism. I wasn’t about to go and change my career or anything.

Luckily, the summer months were coming. Which meant that I would be working all summer long. So, I found a school that offered a decently-sized program for the money and I decided that if the interest still remained come the fall semester, I would register for a course.

So I worked a lot and saved some money. When it came time to go back to school that September, I gave myself a couple weeks to settle into the semester and then I did it! I enrolled in my first herbal studies program. Sadly, the school or program no longer exists, even though I wish I could recommend it. A few years ago, the people running the school decided to take a different direction. They closed the herbalism school and opened a different type of natural health program. Much more collegiate, a lot more money.

But for me, at that time, the program I was doing was stellar! I learned a lot and completed the course fully. But, I wanted more!

Photo taken from Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine, http://www.chestnutherbs.com

The company that I’d just finished studying under offered a more advanced level course. I decided to take it as well. And it was during this course that things started to change a little bit. My college courses became more difficult and time-consuming. I made more friends and went off-campus more frequently. Spending less time in my dorm room meant I had less time to study herbs. One of the issues with all of these distance learning programs is they are “at your own pace.” This, does have its benefits. But, for a young college student, things can easily be overlooked and before you know it, your course completion time is nearing and you still haven’t done 80% of the program!

So sadly, the more advanced level course was lost..though I still kept the course texts until recently. After that my interest in herbs kind of ebbed and flowed. I didn’t enroll in any programs but I still looked at videos on YouTube every once in a while. I kept getting emails to some of the schools I looked into in the early days of my interest, so I considered myself to “staying up to date” on things.

After a few years, I chose to enroll in a very long, in-depth, and expensive program. It was a very reputable program and was certified by the AHG, the American Herbalist Guild. In fact, this program was being run by one of the founding members of the AHG. I liked this course because it covered a lot and it seemed like would provide me with a great education. And it did. One of the other benefits was that I was able to pay in installments. Sadly, I never completed it past the first 12 lessons. In fact, I stopped after lesson four. Life got in the way. And even though I also kept most of those materials, I decided to move on from it. Maybe I’ll do it at another time.

Fast forward three years and we enter the spring of 2020. One of the schools I had looked into a few years prior and took a quick course from them was offering a great deal due to the pandemic. So, I took them up on the offer. The Herbal Academy (HA) out of Massachusetts, was offering their Introductory Herbal Course and their Intermediate Herbal Course for a fraction of the cost and at a payment plan. So last spring and into the summer I paid it off. I am now about halfway through the first course and still have time before I “need” to begin the Intermediate one.

I am really enjoying the HA courses. The program is filled with text, videos, handouts, projects and more! I do intend to complete both the Introductory Herbal Course and the Intermediate Herbal Course. But, most recently I decided to enroll in another course. And to be honest, it’s what I am calling my “dream program.”

I’ll have more on that in another post soon. Stay tuned!

Wow! That was a long one. If you’ve read this far, thanks for sticking with it. I hope you learned a little bit more about me.

Until next time, readers…

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Starting Something New

While this blog has started out as a food blog that focused on Ina Garten recipes, it’s constantly evolving. Over the last few months I’ve taken steps to widen the content of this site in order to align better with things that I want to write about.

After all, this is my little corner of the Internet, so I can do that 🙂

I’ve come to really enjoy the blogging experience. I know I do not have many readers, but I appreciate the ones that I do! It makes me so happy when one of you “likes” my posts or just takes a moment to poke around my little site.

Continue reading “Starting Something New”

My Go-To Plant-Based Cookbooks

Even though this is an Ina Garten cook-through blog, I have been broadening my recipe stash and blog posts since the beginning of 2021. Every so often I take a break from Ina’s recipes and when I do, I try to go plant-based. Over the years, I’ve toyed with going vegetarian or full-on vegan. As of yet, that has yet to happen…just look at a few recipe reviews posts.

However, I am still trying to include more plants in my diet on a regular basis. Thus, I have amassed a collection of cookbooks — both in print and on my Kindle e-reader — that have come in handy over the last couple of months.

Below, I have included photos of some of my favorites. You’ll notice that many of them are “general cookbooks.” The huge tomes that cover the gambit. Think Joy of Cooking but for plant eaters!

This book was one of the first vegetarian cookbooks I purchased! It is still a great reference and resource for me. Plus with Bittman’s extensive knowledge of all types of culinary escapades, I feel good making one of these recipes since I can trust them.

This book has a much different tone than that of Mark Bittman’s book. The author’s humor and love for food easily comes across on each page. There are some great recipes in here, and Dragonwagon’s approach to plant-based meals is much more loosey-goosey than other authors. This makes it a great book for beginners!

I call this one the “Vegan Bible.” It literally has every recipe you could ever want as a vegan. I highly recommend this book, especially since many of the recipes are approachable, even for those starting out on a vegan journey. If you are looking to buy a vegan cookbook, make it this one!

Some books that I have on my Kindle e-reader include:

Love Real Food by Kathryne Taylor, the creator of the food blog Cookie + Kate. It has many wonderful recipes that are whole food and plant-based. One added benefit is many of them include ways in which to make the recipe vegan or gluten free.

American’s Test Kitchen The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook by the Chefs at America’s Test Kitchen. While I know that the Mediterranean Diet is not vegetarian or vegan, it is plant-based. It uses animal protein to supplement the plant-based proteins. Even if you ignore the meat-based chapters, there are still some wonderful, tried and true recipes in this book!

I hope you enjoyed this peek into a small section of my cookbook shelf.

Until next time…

Yesterday’s Cooking

As I mentioned in my previous post, I did do some cooking this weekend, but I did not make Ina recipes.

Instead, I chose to make recipes that would give my family and me a little more plant protein versus meat protein. So, I crafted two dishes and my family liked them.

The first one was a take on Beef Wellington, but instead of meat, I used a delicious mushroom mixture to wrap in the puff pastry.

Mushroom Wellington

The other dish I made was kind of my own creation. I used quinoa and chickpeas (garbanzo beans) as the star players and make a dish that also featured kale, an orange pepper and cherry tomatoes. I added in some sherry wine and spices and it was so yummy! Though, I think I needed more salt and pepper. Oh well, you live and learn, right?

Quinoa & Kale Recipe

I’m not sure what I will make this week, but it will be an Ina recipe, that’s for sure!

Also, the cookbook reviews will return next week, but there will be more time between them. They will not be a weekly post, but I do still plan to review all twelve.

Sit tight, more is coming your way soon!!