With a heavy share for you last week, we’re going a little light this week on our offerings – but your cooler will still be packed with plenty to enjoy and have fun with.
New item this week: Acorn Squash! That’s right, we’re finally starting to move into fall (a little bit) and this is only the first taste of what we’ll have to offer for fall flavors (meaning we have many more types of winter squash you’ll be able to enjoy in your future shares.)
This week’s share will include:
Red Round Slicing Tomatoes
Baby Rainbow Carrots
Baby Rainbow Beets
Lacinato Kale Bunch
White (Kennebec) Potatoes
A heads up about CSA deliveries next week! They will be taking place on Monday evening rather than on Tuesday evening. So make sure to leave your cooler with ice pack out then.
We will be attending the 2nd Annual Feed Iowa First that evening at Rodina in the Czech Village! We will also be collaborators, so the dishes featured during the dinner will feature the same produce you have been enjoying in your shares. Because of the event, we are tying in our restaurant and CSA deliveries into that day for convenience.
Speaking of the dinner – there are still tickets available!
Wish to attend? Click this link here. It would be great to see you there, and to work with us to help a great nonprofit like Feed Iowa First (Read about what they do here!)
This amazing nonprofit gathers growers and farmers (including ourselves here at Jupiter Ridge Farm!) together to produce healthy food and get it to communities, institutions, and other populations in need.
Participating in this dinner is a great way to support them as directly as possible, and will feature dishes and beverages produced from the talents of chefs, beverage makers, brewers, and farmers – the best talents in the Cedar Rapids area! Last year’s event was delicious, amazing, and fun. Let us know if you can join us!
Acorn Squash: What Do I Do With It? | Explanation & Tips
Never had acorn squash before? Well, you’re in for a real treat!
If you’ve ever roasted a butternut or spaghetti squash, acorn squash basically gets the same treatment when it comes to preparation. Cut them in half, scoop out the seeds, and place them on a cookie sheet or pan (with a little water in pan if desired) and roast them up until they’re nice and soft.
Adding a little salt on top (black pepper, too) makes this squash enjoyable right on it’s very own. Or, you can scoop out the flesh (leave the skin aside – it’s not very edible) and blend it into soups or stews. Half-bake it and cube it up and it makes an excellent addition to stuffing! (A bit early to be thinking about Thanksgiving, we know.)
Did you know the acorn squash was actually developed here in the state of Iowa? And that it also goes by the name Des Moines squash? The acorn was officially introduced and debuted as a commercial cultivar in Iowa in 1913. However, all squash originate from the Americas – pumpkins, zucchinis, you name it.
As you enjoy acorn squash this week, you can be proud to be tasting and savoring produce that is as Iowan as it gets.
Wellness Spotlight On: Cucumbers
Something as green as a cucumber has got to be healthy. But what health benefits does it have, exactly?
People eat cucumbers most often as a condiment we know all too well: pickles. “Dill pickles” (cucumbers pickled with dill seeds or fronds) are delicious, but there’s something more to this pairing: both cucumbers and dill are known to be great for aiding digestion.
Whether you eat them raw or as pickles, cucumbers are also known to help regulate blood sugars a little bit. This makes them an excellent vegetable for people with diabetes!
Well, that’s all for now! It’s an amazing time for CSA members right now, being able to enjoy the last tasty vegetables of summer alongside some of the first hints of autumn produce.
We hope you love what’s in your share – and as always, let us know if you have any questions about anything!
The share this week will feature some new additions (and the return of some tasty items you’ve enjoyed in the past) – we hope you enjoy them as much as our market customers did this past Saturday at Dubuque Farmers Market!
This week’s share will include:
New this week: leeks and garlic! These veggies can also be used like culinary seasonings in and of themselves (especially garlic). We hope you enjoy the flavor they add to your recipes and meals this week. Enjoy!
Leeks: Using Them | Explanation and Tips
We get a lot of farmers market customers in Dubuque asking us all about leeks. What are they? What should you use them in?
Leeks are a relative of onions and garlic, with a flavor more similarly resembling onions more than anything. Compared to onions, though, they have a gentler presence in recipes when it comes to taste. The part you want to use it mostly its white stem (which has the same texture and is chopped the same way as an onion bulb), though the green leafy top parts can be used, too. However, be prepared for the green parts to be a bit more fibrous (less like an onion bulb).
We recommend leeks in soups and stocks most of all. That seems to be where they shine the most (especially in soups using potatoes – leek and potato soup is heavenly, so give them a try along with those fingerlings!)
But really, you can replace recipes calling for onion with a whole leek if you desire. Give it a try, and let us know what you think!
Wellness Spotlight On: Garlic
Vegetable farmers love to grow garlic. People love to eat garlic (it tastes delicious – what would we be without it?) Herbalists also love garlic because it has dozens of health properties.
In summary: everyone loves garlic.
But most notably of all, garlic is amazing for your health, there’s no way around it. When you eat it as a food or culinary herb, it’s great for your immune system, for reducing cancer risk, protecting heart health, regulating blood sugars, the whole she-bang.
One interesting thing about garlic: it can be a potent antibiotic. However, in order to tap into these antibiotic properties, you need to eat garlic raw!
A tall order, we know – but for those interested in trying their hand at it, raw cloves can help you knock out a cold or a flu if you want to try out a home herbal remedy that is widely known to help you when you’re sick (and is actually shown to be effective!). Placing cloves of garlic in a jar of honey is a great way to prepare for the winter – it helps preserve them and also make “popping” a raw clove for a cold or flu way more palatable (and still effective).
Oh yeah – garlic it can be great for sore throats, too (especially when combined with that honey).
Lots of good stuff this week – and especially healthy stuff, too.
As always, feel free to let us know if you have any questions about how to use an item in your CSA share (or what it could be good for, health-wise!)
This article on using herbs with your neti pot is dedicated to those funky, dry late-winter months, blending into Spring – a time when cold and flu season seems to be over, and yet you find yourself still blowing your nose, over and over.
You might be a bit unsure about whether you are dealing with allergies, or the last cold of the season to kick your butt.
In fact, at this very particular time right now during late Winter/early Spring, I’ve been seeing and hearing a lot about folks coming down with something: not quite a cold, but not quite something easy to ignore, either.
Think inflamed, stuffy sinuses, allergies, plugged ears, and the vestige of a cough, with some lingering respiratory issues as if they have just overcome a cold. Sometimes there are even swollen lymph nodes, tonsils, and throat symptoms thrown into the mix. Sound familiar?
I have found myself hesitant to just recommend the typical cold and flu herbs in these situations. Immunity is always important to focus on, and the tried-and-true bulls-eye of the practicing herbalist. But what about the best relief, on top of all that, and with the help of herbs used at home – sinus relief?
Neti Pots and Their Virtues
The past couple years, Neti pots have been my constant go-to when I’m in the midst of cold, flu, and allergy troubles. Especially when it takes a while for those immune-stimulating anti-cold herbs to kick in, or an herbal steam just won’t get into the sinuses fast enough – I open up my cupboard, and take my Neti pot off the shelf.
It gets rid of all of the gunk, and quickly. Once I realized I could combine herbs with Neti rinses, I have since chosen this method as a top one in my arsenal for colds and flu fighting.
What’s the low-down on using Neti pots? If you don’t know, Neti pots (also called “nasal lavage”) are little magical-looking genie bottle-type containers you fill with warm water and a bit of salt. You then hold back your head, put the spout in your nostril, breathe through your mouth, and let the water flow through your sinuses – through one nostril, and then out the other. Read more on the Mayo Clinic’s recommendations on how to use the Neti pot here.
Is using a Neti pot safe? Most doctors and health practitioners (including herbalists) dub Neti pots safe and effective, with a few guidelines (that I happen to agree with).
Good first line of defense against cold symptoms and allergies
Great for thick, chunky mucus
Sporadic, non-regular use is best
Use boiled, distilled, sterilized, and filtered water
If using tap water, make sure it is filtered through hole sizes 1 micron or smaller, or boiled several minutes then cooled before use
CLEAN your Neti pot regularly
Why all the concerns? Some studies have shown that regular use of Neti pots may actually increase the chances of sinus infections and bacterial growth. Think about it: adding yet more water to a part of the body that is warm, damp, and dark could end up being the fuel to the fodder that bacteria actually needs to get started.
That’s certainly not in the spirit of an herbalist or holistic practitioner, right? We want to be aiding the body’s battle, not hindering it.
As a result, I use Neti pots only in a real pinch – and no longer than about 2 weeks at a time in a daily series. I also make sure that both the water and Neti pot I use is completely sterilized, to avoid adding more bacteria to the fire than before I had even started.
My Experiences with Herbal Neti Pot Rinses
I started my use of the Neti pot with the standard salt rinse, as usual, with strong warm water.
Then one day, it hit me: the Neti rinse could easily use a bit of an herbal twist, particularly after I happened upon an herb shop’s Sinus Care tincture: formulated specifically for the Neti pot!
Since then, I can’t resist adding a supporting herb into the mix each time, depending on the type of sinus issue or cold I’m dealing with.
There are so many varieties of herbs and varieties of herbal actions that would suit a Neti rinse perfectly: vasodilating, bronchiodilating, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antimicrobial. If you have dry sinuses, you can rinse with moistening herbs; goopy sinuses, and you can turn to more drawing and drying ones. Through my personal explorations with my Neti pot, I’ve found a delightful selection of herbs to include in my rinses – which I will be happily covering in this article.
How I Use My Neti Pot
*Dosage/Preparation: To each Neti Rinse you prepare, use warm (not hot!) water, and add roughly a teaspoon of salt.
Neti solution should not be too salty – to taste, the water should be “as salty as your tears.”
Avoid using tap water.Use filtered, reverse-osmosis, or pre-boiled then cooled water – or bottled and/or distilled water.
To each solution, add about 10-20 drops tincture, or whatever you are comfortable.
If you aren’t comfortable with tinctures- or, if you don’t have a tincture of any these herbs handy- you can make a tea, decoction, infusion, or tisane of these herbs, but make sure that the plant matter is WELL STRAINED to avoid putting any thing foreign in your sinuses that shouldn’t be there, and could only make matters worse.
Choice Herbs For the Herbal Neti Pot
GINGER (Zingiber officinalis) – Warm and damp, this culinary root is prime for drier sinuses, with or without accompanying dull pressure – and those dealing with lingering viral infection.
Ginger is also one of an exclusive circle of helpful herbs that can stave off a good deal of viral activity, while modern medicine has yet to come up with anything synthetically antiviral to match. This makes Ginger great for colds or viral bugs, soothing what feels like inflammation and a lot of pressure – and, overall, quite a perfect addition to the Neti.
Surprisingly, while you might think Ginger could “burn,” the most potent of my Ginger tinctures haven’t caused a single discomfort (though I’m sure you would have to be careful with a decoction).
You can replace Ginger with native Wild Ginger if you’d prefer, though Wild Ginger is not reputedly anti-viral.
CHAMOMILE (Matricaria chamomilla) – Or, along the same lines, Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium). Sinus headaches/pressure with either drip or dryness could call for either of these two white-flowered, dainty and aromatic herbs, especially if there is sneezing involved. They are both relatively easy to find in herb gardens and herbal sections of food stores.
Sinus allergies are a good target – whether runny or dry, these two plants are known to prevent histamine reaction in a unique way, and a rinse with these is quite gentle. Check out this research on both Feverfew and Chamomile, supporting their uses for allergies.
If you have sinus issues or allergies that often transform into migraines, these could be your buddies especially. A warning to those allergic to Ragweed pollen- avoid these herbs and anything in the Asteraceae family altogether. They will most likely make you feel much, much worse.
RAGWEED (Ambrosia artemisifolia/trifida) – Before you say “What? Why?!!?” Ragweed can be amazing for sinus allergy symptoms, particularly for those who are NOT allergic to its pollen.
Yet for those who are allergic to Ragweed, there is strong supporting research out there nonetheless, revealing that the antidote to the poison might be just a bit of the plant itself. To top it all off, the FDA did approve a drug that contained a bit of Ragweed itself in a pill for allergy relief symptoms due to Ragweed pollen itself in 2014.
Again- if you know you are allergic to Ragweed or other Asterids, it might be wiser to steer clear. For those who aren’t (including myself), a tincture or tea of in-season Ragweed blooms can provide amazing relief, particularly when you feel a histamine reaction going on. I experimented with some tincture last Summer for some dusty-stuff sinus problems, and wow- just, wow.
This is best aimed at allergy-related sinus issues specifically, and less so for cold or viral stuff. If you are the brave sort of Ragweed-allergic, I’ve been told that Ragweed leaf (NOT flower) can be alright and less harmful to Ragweed-sufferers…but that is not a recommendation or suggestion. Experiment at your own risk please.
GOLDENROD (Solidago canadensis + other species) – The dried blossoms of Goldenrod are similar to Chamomile or Feverfew in action, making it best suited to allergies once again – but more so the damp and drippy kind. For whatever magical reason too, this plant has a stronger affinity to pet allergies, and sinus flare-ups that might happen as a result.
Another great thing about it: it’s well-known support of Ragweed allergies in the empirical knowledge of herbalists. Growing right next to Ragweed in the Fall and blooming twice as “showily,” not many folks know that a well-worked herbal cure to Ragweed allergies might be growing just a couple feet away. What more – preliminary studies are showing that Goldenrod has some marked anti-inflammatory activity.
Goldenrod flowers have a sweet, astringent, and pleasant flavor that I love adding to herbal allergy blends of any sort. Out of all the possible Neti, sinus and allergy herbs altogether too, Goldenrod stands out as my very favorite- combine this one with Ginger if you’re having a viral cold with a fever, and it could help bring the fever down.
USNEA (Usnea spp.) – Along with Goldenrod, Usnea is one of my favorites for a sinus rinse. Its astringency and anti-microbial action are very highly desirable for the average sinus infection!
Best for damp and runny sinuses only, this lichen contains usnic acids that pack a punch against notorious bacteria including staph and strep (with studies to prove it). While fighting off infection, this plant will also aid in drawing and pulling out the nasty gunk you’re trying to forget, helping airways unclog and clear.
MULLEIN (Verbascum thapsus) – You can never do without Mullein. Whether raspy or goopy, this fuzzy, common plant can be of help – although I do think it stands out best in situations where the sinuses are much drier.
This plant is simple; and in being so, there really isn’t much else more to say about it. It’s a top pick among herbalists for such things having to do with colds, flu, and sinuses.
A tincture of the root may be effective, but a fresh, hot tea of the leaves or flowers (without having reached the boiling point) can help loosen stuff up when your stuffed up, too.
Allergies and colds can be relieved with Mullein as well – and some studies support not only that Mullein’s plant “mucilages” could be what truly relieves sinus inflammation, but also that there are compounds in the plant that have been seen killing viruses on contact.
PLANTAIN (Plantago major) – Like Mullein or Ginger, I like to put Plantain in practically all of my Neti rinses as a feature role of the blend.
This is because Plantain leaf does something special that the remainder of these herbs don’t do as well: Plantain is a “drawing” agent in herbalists’ experience, which can help pull foreign objects out of the sinus while helping neutralize the amount of irritation or goop you have going on.
So if you simply feel like you’ve got “stuff”- any kind of stuff- lodged in your sinuses, Plantain is your go-to remedy. Beyond allergies, colds or normal sinus issues, you could turn to this herb for the weirder stuff: inhaling a bug, food, or something else accidental. Plantain can help you pull that out.
The other great thing about Plantain? You can use it for both wet and dry sinuses. Plantain is both mucilaginous and astringent: it will help draw up and pull out any excess mucus, but at the same time soothe, moisturize, and tonify the soft tissues of the nasal cavities.
Studies are also beginning to support this plant’s use for inflammation, too – even showing that it could have protective capabilities against certain bacteria perilous to the nose and throat, such as strep bacteria and others included!
This article is not meant to diagnose, prescribe, promise, or suggest cure. It’s purpose and intent is to be purely educational.