Reuse & Reduce: How to go Zero Waste!

By Alex N, Customer Service Specialist

 Bees Wrap reusable food wrapping

Bees Wrap reusable food wrapping

As some people may know, I am new to the Cambridge Naturals family. One of the ideals that I was/am really excited about was the commitment to environmental conscientiousness. For my recent product staff pick, I wrote about the importance of reusable straws such as the U-KONSERVE stainless steel straws which are great for creating less trash in the landfill, along our roads and in our oceans. A quick google search showed that “Americans use 500 million drinking straws every day. To understand just how many straws 500 million really is, this would fill over 125 school buses with straws every day. That's 46,400 school buses every year!”

We have several other reusable straws available, as well as many options for staying hydrated throughout your day, including Klean Kanteen, Soma, Welly Bottle, and Hydroflask. Any of these are wonderful choices in order to cut down on the 50 billion plastic bottles used last year just here in America. Yet these are not the only options that are carried in terms of sustainable wares here at Cambridge Naturals.

 So many fun reusable straw options!

So many fun reusable straw options!

If metal isn’t your style then try out the bamboo straws from the company, Bambu. This is a wonderful choice due to the unique antibacterial quality due to an antimicrobial bio-agent called “bamboo kun” which is found naturally in this sustainable plant. It is this that supposedly makes bamboo a naturally antibacterial, anti-fungal and odor resistant material making it a great option for use when drinking and eating.

Hydration is not the only area in which we can all waste less and show more love to our planet. Plastic forks, knives and spoons may be convenient, but they’re wreaking havoc on our oceans. Every year, 300 million tons of plastic materials come into circulation be it in the form of plastic packaging, utensils, containers and bags. About 40 billion individual plastic utensils are produced each year, and with such low rates of reuse and recycling, most of them end up in our landfills, beaches and oceans.

The reusable Bamboo utensils from To-Go Ware with their convenient fork, knife, spoon and chopsticks set is another great way to reduce the impact we have on the environment. This is especially important as most people have three meals a day and use plastic utensils one time. The great thing about To-Go Ware’s utensils are that they also come in a convenient holder which is made from one up-cycled reincarnated water bottle a piece in order to carry them where and whenever you want a nosh. Thus saving more plastic from the dump and convenient for the person on the go.

 dans le sac reusable storage bags

dans le sac reusable storage bags

When eating on the go utensils aren’t the only way plastic sneaks into our lives, it can be a challenge to find the right reusable container and of course the corresponding lids that often get misplaced or warped. For folks who can relate to this struggle I recommend the W&P Design Porter lunch bowl with its silicon strap either in BPA free plastic or Ceramic. Both are microwavable and dishwasher safe. If you are looking for a more snack-able storage option there is Kid Basix’s safe-snacker stainless steel container with attached lid or Full Circle’s reusable snack and sandwich bags. For the leftovers in our lives there are Bees Wraps, an alternative to plastic wrap for sustainable reusable food storage and 100% recycled parchment paper and aluminum foil.

 W&P Porter Lunch bowl (in ceramic and BPA free plastic options)

W&P Porter Lunch bowl (in ceramic and BPA free plastic options)

Cambridge Naturals doesn’t just make it easier to be more sustainable during times of consumption, you can also find some great bathroom necessities. Such as NatureZway super absorbent bamboo bath tissue, Widu’s wood combs and brushes, handmade natural fiber toothbrushes from Source as well as Preserve’s toothbrushes and razors made from recycled yogurt cups. While we all make waste it is also important to consider what and where we are depositing it. For those times there is Full Circle Compostable waste bags and BioBag’s sturdy Tall Kitchen Food Scrap bags as alternatives to plastic garbage bags that are difficult to break down in the environment.

Reducing waste seems like such a large task to take on by ourselves because of all the containers and single use items that are in our lives everyday. Reusing containers and bags have a huge impact, as you leave our store you can also do your part to reduce waste by bringing your own reusable bags. If you don’t have these already handy make sure you check out our selection from Baggu, ChicoBag, VejiBags, and Dans Le Sac for zero waste on the go bags.

Remember all these small steps can add up and have a lasting impact on both your personal sphere and a healthier environmental impact for all!

Cooking with Cadia!

Cadia is one of our favorite brands here at Cambridge Naturals. Their organic, sustainably-harvested food products are as simple and honest as it comes, and best of all, the price point won't break the bank! We've got about a dozen of their grocery items on our shelves, and in this blog we are going to use each and every one of them, as we put together a delicious dinner party, from pre-meal cocktails and bruschetta to a main course with salad and finally a high protein dessert with a surprising secret ingredient.

There are lots of other great ingredients from our shelves in these recipes as well, and we're always bringing new things in, so come by the store to ask our friendly grocery team what we're excited about!

IMG_9642.JPG

Maple Bitter Bourbon Bomb

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 oz. Cadia Maple Syrup
1 1/2 oz. Cadia Sparkling Water
3 or 4 drops Urban Moonshine Maple Bitters
1/2 oz. Orange Juice
1/4 oz. Lemon Juice
2 oz Bourbon (optional, of course)
Orange Wheel
Orange Spiral, to garnish

DIRECTIONS:

Combine the maple syrup, orange juice, lemon juice and bitters in an old-fashioned glass. Add the orange wheel and muddle the ingredients. Add bourbon if you so desire, fill the glass with ice and top with sparkling water. Garnish and serve.

Super Simple Bruschetta

INGREDIENTS:

1 can Cadia Crushed Tomatoes with Basil
1/4 cup Cadia Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Cadia Balsamic Vinegar
5 or 6 Garlic Cloves, Crushed
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 baguette
Celtic Sea Salt and lemon pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Mix all the ingredients except the baguette in a bowl and let them sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Cut the baguette into thin pieces and toast them in the oven. Smear your topping on the bread and you're good to go!

IMG_9644.JPG

Garbanzo and Cucumber Salad

INGREDIENTS:

1 can Cadia Garbanzo Beans, drained and rinsed
3 English Cucumbers
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
1 tablespoon Cadia Balsamic Vinegar
1 tablespoon Cadia Olive Oil
1/2 tablespoon Mustard and Co. Dijon Mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1 handful parsley, chopped fine
Celtic Sea Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Cut cucumbers in half, lengthwise, then again to create 4 wedges. Cut the wedges into quarter inch slices. In a medium bowl, combine garbanzos, cucumbers, pepper, and onion. Whisk all the remaining ingredients until well combined for your dressing. Add the dressing and toss gently. Let it marinate in the fridge as long as possible before serving for maximum flavor.

 

Baked Bacon-y Black Beans

INGREDIENTS:

2 cans Cadia Black Beans
6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 bell pepper, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup Cadia Blackstrap Molasses
1/4 cup Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tablespoon Cambridge Naturals bulk chili powder
1 teaspoon Cambridge Naturals bulk oregano
1 teaspoon Cambridge Naturals bulk yellow mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon Cambridge Naturals bulk black pepper
2 tablespoons brown sugar

 

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a dutch oven or large oven-safe pot, cook the bacon over medium heat until it starts to brown. Add the bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Cook the vegetables until they soften. Add the chili powder, dried oregano, mustard powder, salt, pepper, and brown sugar, stir it all together, and cook for about another two minutes. Add the apple cider vinegar, molasses, and beans, stir, then add water until it just covers the beans. Transfer the pot, uncovered, to your preheated oven. Bake for about an hour or until the sauce has thickened.

 

Beanie Brownies

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 Cans Cadia Red Kidney Beans
3 Brookford Farm Eggs
1 1/2 oz. Navitas Raw Cacao
4 oz. Cadia Maple Syrup
2 1/2 oz. Will and Rose's Walnuts
5.5 oz Theo 85% Dark Baking Chocolate
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Cambridge Naturals Bulk True Cinnamon
1 tbsp. Cadia Almond Milk
1 tbsp. Cadia Coconut Oil

 

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350F and line the baking pan with parchment paper. Put all the ingredients (except walnuts and chocolate) in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Chop the walnuts and chocolate and mix most of them into the brownie batter. Pour the batter into the baking pan and top with the remaining chocolate and walnuts. Bake for 25 minutes and let cool before cutting.

CN Goth Picks

Words + Pics by Sam, CN Body Care Buyer

As the days brighten and lengthen with the approach of New England’s eventual spring, it is important to take time for mindful reflection on sunlight and green growing things - and also their opposite: darkness and gloom. On this first day of April, as the crocuses begin to peer unnervingly from the depths of the earth, we welcome you to Cambridge Supernaturals, your beloved boo-tique for all things spooky, creepy, and bump-in-the-night. Listed below are some ghoul-tastic goth highlights, all the better to help you ring in a spooky spring!

Body Care

20180316_162812.jpg
20180316_161716(1).jpg

Noyah Lipstick in Currant News

On the first pass, this satin-finish lipstick starts as a beautiful berry, but can be built to a rich dark vamp shade. Embalm your lips with this clean castor oil-based formula for that fresh out of the coffin look. Perfect for a day hiding from the sun, or a night lurking in the shadows.

Death By Lavender Deodorant North Coast

You may take “you look dead!” as a compliment, but that doesn’t mean you want to smell the part. Enter this remarkably simple formula from North Coast Organics: a coconut, arrowroot, and baking soda based deodorant that’s gentle on the pits and kind on the nose. Death By Lavender will leave you smelling like lavender and citrus instead of doom and gloom.

Bulk

20180316_165012.jpg
20180316_165947.jpg

Activated Charcoal Powder

Darkness in a jar. Powdered night. Perfect for throwing a handful in front of you as you enter a room to establish a spooky ambience. Or you could maybe not do that, and instead use this wonderfully pitch-black powder for its drawing and cleansing properties. Mix a little into a french green clay face mask or homemade face cleanser, and take a spa evening to yourself.

Bold as Blood Tea

Whether you think vampires are cool or passe, I think we can all agree, at least, that their diet is deeply questionable. Instead of drinking someone else’s blood, why not boost your own? This blend relies on mineral-rich herbs such as nettle and beetroot to naturally support healthy iron levels in the blood. A long steep of this tea brews up to a savory concoction that’s a lovely dark rust color in the cup, so hey, you can at least pretend.

Groceries

20180316_164326.jpg

Sweetpea Farms Buckwheat Honey

Don’t let Sweetpea Farms’ innocent labeling fool you - behind the bright, picnic-evoking label is a dark and ominous ichor with a deep molasses taste. Perfect in coffee or tea, liberally drizzled over pancakes, mixed into your favorite barbecue sauce, or for calling forth eldritch creatures in your favorite midnight ritual under the full moon.

Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice Ramen

This toothsome gluten-free ramen is made with Forbidden Rice, and cooks up (in a matter of minutes) to a rich dark violet color with a satisfyingly chewy consistency. The dark noodles, swimming in a savory miso broth, call to mind the tentacles of the long-lost Kraken, lurking below the waves. Also, the conveniently-sized packet fits easily into a purse or backpack for lunch on the go!

Supplements

20180316_163302.jpg
20180316_160922.jpg

Megafoods Blood Builder

Again, while vampires may be in vogue, their diet certainly is not. Circumvent their brand of sanguine satiation by looking after your blood health! Megafoods’ Blood Builder formula is focused on providing food-based iron, folate, vitamin C, and B-12, extracted from beets, broccoli, and oranges. And unlike vampirism, Blood Builder is accessible to vegans, vegetarians, or anyone unironically looking to boost their iron.

Raw Forest Foods Wild-Harvested Black Ants

This nutrient-dense supplement rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine can help you fulfill the dream of calling an army of insects to do your bidding! Granted, the bidding in question would have to be “providing a rich supply of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals to support overall health,” but as long as you stay within those bounds, you too can be Leader of the Amassed Ant Hordes.

Lifestyle

20180316_164006.jpg
20180316_162159.jpg

Manduka Yogitoes Yoga Mat Towel

As HP Lovecraft might have possibly once said, “Yoga can be a beneficial part of one’s daily exercise routine, and an excellent chance to pause and meditatively reflect on the seething horrors of the unknowable void.” Lest you slip and fall into that void during your practice, consider this wonderfully witchy towel from Manduka emblazoned with the moon’s many faces against a roiling night sky. The partially-recycled, sweat-absorbent towel is designed to provide an extra layer of grip on top of your yoga mat.

Miso Handmade Attack Cat’s Organic Catnip Creepy Zombie

A little monster for your little monster. Teach your cat the vital skill of zombie home defense with this catnip-filled poppet from Miso Handmade, lovingly stitched from wool felt for maximum creepy cuteness. Prepare your cat for societal collapse while engaging them in play!

Cannabidiwhaaat? CBD FAQ's!

By Miles, CN Supplements Buyer & Trainer

The legal hemp market is exploding with all sorts of products! Caught up in confusion? Heard your neighbors talk about CBD but can’t figure out the difference between hemp and marijuana products? This guide is for you!

 

So what the heck is CBD anyway!?

CBD or cannabidiol (can-nAh-bi-dEYE-ol) is regarded as the medicinal* component of cannabis. CBD is regarded as a well-studied and safe compound naturally present in agricultural hemp.

 Green Mountain CBD hemp fields in VT

Green Mountain CBD hemp fields in VT

What do people use CBD for?

CBD may support healthy stress and pain response in the body. Numerous research into our endocannabinoid system indicates CBD may also have a role in supporting proper nerve signaling, healthy cell division and balance inflammation.

 

Endocannaba-whaaat?

Our body has a cannabinoid system. All throughout our body, our cells use different messengers to communicate with each other, including our own cannabinoids. Cannabinoid receptors are found in our brain as well as throughout our periphery. Compounds such as CBD activate CB2 receptors, promoting feelings of relaxation or relief of mild and occasional pain.

 

How is CBD legal?

CBD comes from agricultural hemp, rather than marijuana. Interestingly, marijuana that people use recreationally is the same species of plant (Cannabis sativa) as agricultural hemp. Marijuana, however, is high in the presence of the compound THC, which causes one to feel high. Agricultural hemp that is imported to or grown in the United States must contain less than 0.3% THC.

In contrast, agricultural hemp contains other non-psychoactive cannabinoid constituents such as CBDa and CBD (as well as essential fatty acids and vitamin E) which promote wellness in our bodies.

Even though marijuana has been legalized by the state of Massachusetts, stores cannot yet sell THC-containing products. The United States congress passed the Agricultural Act of 2014, sometimes called the “Farm Bill”, which allows for the use of low THC-containing hemp in industry and agriculture.

 

So wait, CBD will get me high?

As the hemp-derived CBD we carry contains negligible levels of THC, it does not get one high, stoned, lit, etc. CBD may cause drowsiness in a dose-dependent manner.

 

What brands of CBD do you carry? How can you take it?

cbd.png

We have numerous brands! Some of our favorites include:

CV Sciences – One of the leaders in the hemp industry, they import Dutch agricultural hemp for processing into capsules, liquids and salves. They have a variety of different doses, and are known for their purity, research-based ingredients and quality extraction methods.

Green Mountain CBD – One of my favorites, this locally operated brand grows their own organic hemp right in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. They extract their hemp with coconut oil into capsules, paste or liquid tincture. Many of their products are higher doses per serving, including their beloved 20mg capsules.

The Healing Rose – Based out of Andover, MA, The Healing Rose specializes in topical CBD products! They have a high potency salve, containing arnica, peppermint and ginger beyond just CBD, for those of us looking for a little bit of extra tension release. Their roll-ons with essential oil of rosemary or fir needle together with CBD are great for the neck and temples, too.

 

What dose do I take?

Dose is a very personalized thing!

I personally prefer around 5-10mg of CBD for daytime use, and maybe another 15mg before bedtime. That being said, I know some people who take 1mg a day, and I know some people who take 60mg a day.

High doses of CBD (think 200mg) seem to be well-tolerated, based on studies. CBD is a GRAS (generally recognized as safe) dietary ingredient. However, although it is safe for most people to take that much, you usually don’t usually need that much.

Your sensitivity depends on your genes. I invite you to be flexible with CBD use. Start with a low dose, and build up until you find your sweet spot. In my experience, one often feels CBD within an hour of use, and you can take it multiple times a day, if you wish.

 

Can I stop taking my other medications if I use CBD?

Talk to your doctor! We do not recommend changing your medications without consulting with your doctor.

 

Disclaimer: Nothing in this website is intended as, or should be construed as, medical advice. Consumers should consult with their own health care practitioners for individual, medical recommendations. The information in this website concerns dietary supplements, over-the-counter products that are not drugs. Our dietary supplement products are not indended for use as a means to cure, treat, prevent, diagnose or mitigate any disease or other medical or abnormal condition.

Beyond "Sweets for the Sweet": Your Guide to a Savory Chocolate Valentine’s Day Feast!

iStock-654544228.jpg

By John, CN Grocery Buyer

Anybody can give a lovely box of truffles to their sweetie on Valentine’s Day, but if you really want to impress your loved one, why not serve up that chocolate in a more intriguing fashion? Chocolate is a great ingredient in savory dishes, from obvious choices like mole sauce or steak rubs to much more surprising combos like the ones I’ll be sharing with you in this month’s column. Follow my instructions and you’ll be ready to prepare a huge meatless spread showcasing the less sweet tendencies of that dark chocolate deliciousness. After all, you’re sweet enough already, aren’t you?


JOHN’S FAMOUS  SWEET POTATO CHILI

Ingredients:

  • 28 oz can peeled tomatoes
  • 14 oz can black beans
  • 14 oz can kidney beans
  • 14 oz can garbanzo beans
  • 14 oz can pinto beans
  • 1 tbsp Navitas Raw Cacao Powder
  • 2 jalapeno peppers
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup brown beer
  • 1 tsp Cambridge Naturals Bulk Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Cambridge Naturals Bulk Chili Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Cambridge Naturals Bulk Oregano
  • 1 tsp Maldon Smoked Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp Alex's Ugly Cayano Hot Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp La Chinata Smoked Paprika
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1 tsp Nutiva Coconut Oil


Instructions:

Combine tomatoes, beans, salt, and beer in a large pot over low heat. Stir occasionally. Peel sweet potatoes and cut into cubes. Add vegetable oil and sweet potatoes to a nonstick skillet and sautee for about 10 minutes on medium heat. Add in garlic, onion, hot sauce, and peppers and sautee for an additional 5-6 minutes. Empty contents of skillet into the chili pot and stir. Add cocoa powder, cumin, chili powder, oregano, and smoked paprika. Cook on low heat for as long as you possibly can, adding salt/cocoa/heat as desired. Use more beer if the chili seems too thick.


EGGPLANT CAPONATA

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups Canaan Fair Trade Nabali Tree olive oil
  • 2 lb. eggplant, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 rib celery, roughly chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste, thinned with 1⁄4 cup water
  • 1 cup crushed canned tomatoes
  • 6 oz. Alive & Well Chalkidiki olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1⁄2 cup Bragg's Apple Cider vinegar
  • 1⁄2 cup golden raisins
  • 1⁄4 cup salt-packed capers, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tbsp. Nutiva Coconut Sugar
  • 2 tbsp. Theo 70% Baking Chocolate (finely grated)
  • 1⁄2 cup finely shredded basil
  • 2 tbsp. Cambridge Naturals Raw Pine Nuts

Instructions:

Heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add eggplant and fry, tossing occasionally, until browned, 3–4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer eggplant to a large bowl; set aside. Pour off all but 1⁄4 cup oil, and reserve for another use. Return skillet to heat, add onions and celery, and season with salt and pepper; cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and add tomato paste and cook, stirring, until caramelized and almost evaporated, 1–2 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes and continue cooking for 10 minutes. Stir in olives, vinegar, raisins, capers, sugar, and chocolate, and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 15 minutes. Transfer to bowl with eggplant, along with basil and pine nuts, and mix together. Season with salt and pepper, and let cool to room temperature before serving.

 

CHARRED CAULIFLOWER AND SHISHITO PEPPERS WITH PICATA SAUCE

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower, trimmed, halved, and cut into 1 1⁄2" wedges
  • 2 tbsp. plus 1 cup Canaan Fair Trade Nabali Tree olive oil
  • Cambridge Naturals bulk sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup Nutiva coconut oil, for frying
  • 12 shishito peppers
  • 1⁄2 cup Will & Rose's Whole Sprouted Almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup plus 1 tbsp. roughly chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp. finely grated Theo 70% dark baking chocolate
  • 2 tsp. Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar


Instructions:

Heat oven broiler. Arrange cauliflower in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush both sides with 2 tbsp. olive oil and season with salt and pepper; broil, flipping once, until charred and tender, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat remaining olive oil and the garlic in a 12" skillet over medium. Cook until garlic is golden, 4–6 minutes; transfer to a bowl and let cool. Wipe skillet clean and heat canola oil over medium-high; fry peppers until blistered and slightly crisp, 4–6 minutes. Transfer peppers to paper towels to drain; season with salt. Stir almonds, 1 cup parsley, the chocolate, vinegar, salt, and pepper into reserved garlic oil; spread onto a serving platter. Top with cauliflower; garnish with fried peppers and remaining parsley.

 

ROASTED BABY CARROTS WITH BALSAMIC-CHOCOLATE SYRUP

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds baby carrots (about finger-width thick), green tops trimmed to about 1 inch
  • 3 tablespoons Canaan Fair Trade Nabali Tree olive oil
  • 1½ teaspoons Celtic Light Grey Sea Salt
  • 5 or 6 (4-inch) sprigs fresh thyme
  • ½ cup Cadia organic balsamic vinegar
  • ½ ounce Theo 85 percent dark chocolate, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon Crystal's Own New York Wildflower honey


Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Put the carrots on a sheet pan, drizzle them with the olive oil, and spread them in a single layer. Sprinkle the salt evenly over the carrots, and lay the thyme sprigs on top. Roast until the carrots are tender and brown in spots, shaking the pan and turning once or twice, about 35 minutes total. While the carrots are cooking, make the syrup. Put the vinegar in the smallest saucepan you have and simmer over medium-low heat until reduced to 1⁄4 cup. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate. Let the chocolate melt for 30 seconds, then use a small spatula to gently stir the syrup until the chocolate has melted completely and the syrup is smooth. Add the honey and salt and mix well. Cover the pan to keep the sauce warm until you’re ready to serve the carrots. To serve, discard the thyme and arrange the carrots on a serving dish. Drizzle them generously with the syrup, and serve immediately.

Herbal Supports for Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond

By Steph Zabel
Herbalist, Ethnobotanist & Educator

I have been meaning to write this article for a very long time… for a year, in fact! Ever since going through the powerful thresholds of pregnancy and birth I’ve wanted to share a few of the lovely herbs that I worked with to help me feel more comfortable, nourished and balanced during such a transformational time. Now that we are coming up to the 1st birthday of my beautiful daughter I feel it is time to finally put down in words some of the supports that worked for me personally.

1st Trimester

Because the first trimester can be a delicate time I don’t recommend using many herbs, especially herbs that you’ve never had before. Stick to gentle, nutritive, food-grade plants.

Morning sickness and fatigue tend to be the main issues that most women deal with. My own morning sickness wasn’t too severe, but it was uncomfortable from time to time (and it wasn’t always in the morning). Making sure that I had plenty of good food in my body — and not going for long periods of time without eating — helped immensely.  Also, getting enough protein and fat was important so that my blood sugar levels stayed stable.

Herb-wise I used gentle chamomile, peppermint and/or ginger teas to help with the queasy-ness. Ginger chews are also nice if you can’t make tea and need something right away.

Interestingly enough, the most helpful herb for me during this time of nausea was milk thistle, even though it is not particularly well known for this use. It is, however, famous for its wonderful supportive and gentle detoxifying action on the liver. Since the liver has extra work to do during pregnancy because of all the extra hormones in the body it makes sense that this plant would have a beneficial action. I used the ground up seeds and sprinkled them on my food — about 1 tablespoon or so per day, or as needed. I felt that this was an indispensable herb for me in this phase.

I also drank some rosehip tea from time to time as well as nettles, both of which are gentle herbs akin to food. The supplements I took during this trimester — and throughout my pregnancy — included magnesium, fermented cod liver oil and probiotics.

tea blends.JPG

2nd Trimester

At this point in my pregnancy I felt more comfortable using a wider range of herbs. I sipped on overnight-steeped nettle tea quite frequently, as well as oat straw, lemon balm, rose, hawthorn and chamomile teas. I also began taking raspberry leaf on a frequent basis.

Raspberry leaf is a beloved ally for the childbearing years. You may read some sources that say it is safe to use throughout pregnancy, and you may read some that say it should only be used in the 2nd trimester and beyond. I am in the latter group because I found that when I drank a cup of raspberry leaf in my first trimester it made me feel a little crampy, which of course you want to avoid. So I held off on the RL until I was well into my second trimester. I upped my intake of it in the third trimester — a few cups per week — and tried to drink even more of it in my last final weeks.

You can read more about raspberry leaf and all of its wonderful benefits here. Briefly I’ll say that it is known as a partus preparator, meaning it prepares the uterus for labor. The tea contains an alkaloid called fragrine that helps to strengthen the muscle of the uterus and is thought to promote a quicker, easier labor.

raspberry leaf tea S Zabel.JPG

3rd Trimester

Toward the end of my pregnancy I increased the amount of raspberry leaf I was consuming and tried to drink a quart of the tea every 2-3 days. At this point I also compiled my herbal birth and postpartum kit, which included herbs that I wanted to have on hand during labor and for recovery. Here’s what I included… (Read on to see what I actually ended up using…)

HERBAL BIRTH & RECOVERY KIT:

birth herbs kit.jpg

INGESTIBLES
Raspberry Leaf tea and/or ice cubes: to aid in strengthening contractions

Labor Aid: a beverage that supplies electrolytes and improves hydration during labor (my blend included water with apple cider vinegar, lemon, liquid magnesium, sea salt, maple syrup and flower essences)

Chamomile, Motherwort and Passionflower tinctures: for tension and anxiety (for both the mother and father-to-be)

Yarrow tincture: for excess bleeding postpartum

Crampbark tincture: for afterpains and cramping postpartum
 
Homeopathic Arnica 30C: to reduce soreness, swelling and pain postpartum

Fennel seed & Fenugreek seed: to increase milk production


TOPICALS:
Calendula, St. John's Wort & Lavender oil: to massage onto a sore back, or painful areas
 
Herbal Sitz Bath blend (including comfrey, calendula, rose and lavender): for hip baths and to speed the healing of sore or torn tissues

Mugwort & Rose infused body oil: mugwort is traditionally known as an herb of protection for laboring mothers and is helpful in transitions

SCENTS / AROMATHERAPY:
Mugwort smudge: the traditional herb of childbirth; stimulating and pain-relieving
 
Palo Santo bark: a grounding, sweet, and relaxing scent
 
Essential Oils of Lavender, Clary Sage and Chamomile: to relax and relieve tension
 
Rose Water: to spritz throughout the room for its calming properties


FLOWER ESSENCES:
 "Centered Birth" essence (from Green Hope Farm): to take throughout labor in beverages or put into bath water
 
Five Flower Formula: akin to Rescue Remedy; useful during intense times and good to have on hand for the laboring mother or stressed father!

 

WHAT I REALLY USED:
Honestly, I think I was a little over-prepared with this kit and ended up not using a lot of these items. Mostly that was because my labor came on so fast and furious and I quickly went to that place where you can’t speak or think straight.

The total time of my labor — including early labor and active labor through to the birth — was just 8.5 hours, which is quite fast for a first-time mom. Perhaps all the raspberry leaf tea I had been drinking helped to speed things along, but it’s hard to know for certain since I have nothing to compare it to.

A lot of the herbs in my kit would have been helpful if I had a really long, drawn out labor and needed more of a physical or mental boost.

 Steph's Labor Aid drink

Steph's Labor Aid drink

What I ended up relying on during labor was the Labor Aid drink (which tasted so good!), raspberry leaf tea, and the flower essences (which I included in my beverages and also put in the bath at one point).

Soon after giving birth I also drank a bunch of raspberry leaf tea with a couple dropperfuls of yarrow tincture to help with the postpartum bleeding. It really seemed to do the trick. I also took the homeopathic Arnica 30C for about 2 weeks afterwards to help with the intense soreness my body experienced. I used herbal sitz baths to help heal tender tissues, and took fenugreek seeds from time to time to support milk production. Finally, I had a bottle of motherwort tincture near me at all times and took a few drops when I was feeling a bit overwhelmed or emotional in those first delicate weeks of new motherhood.

And that’s it!

If you are looking to create your own herbal birth kit choose the herbs and plants that you already love and know well. And keep it simple. In the throes of labor you want to keep one or two comforting items — whether it’s a tea, scent or flower essence — close by and not worry about various bottles to sort through.

I hope this is helpful for some mama’s-to-be out there. These beautiful herbs are here to help and support us— call upon them when you need help!


Steph Zabel, MSc, is an herbalist and botanical educator who helps urban dwellers connect with the plant world. She teaches seasonally-oriented herbal classes that focus on local plants, herbal medicine-making techniques, and plant identification. She is also the creator of Herbstalk, Boston’s community herbal conference. Learn more about her work at: www.flowerfolkherbs.com and www.herbstalk.org.


This blog series — Herbs and Botanicals — is for general health information only. This Web site is not to be used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any health condition or problem. Users of this Web site should not rely on information provided on this Web site for their own health problems. Any questions regarding your own health should be addressed to your own physician or other healthcare provider.

Moondeli: Herbacious Soup for the Soul

By Bex, Supplements Buyer & The Naturalist Contributor

All images by Pure + Wild Journal

Growing up, any hint that we would be going on my family’s now-and-then adventure to our neighborhood deli prompted knee-rattling anticipation as I contemplated a challenging decision at the large window display chock-full of salads and spreads in quantities that could quite literally feed a village. Then, inevitably upon arrival, I would settle on a moon-like matzoh ball suspended in a large bowl of piping hot chicken soup, which my grandmother always reminded me was “the Jewish Penicillin.”

So, when I stumbled upon Moondeli, I naturally thought of that scrumptious celestial body floating in a steaming edible bath for my digestive tract. The comparison is actually not that much of a stretch since Moondeli is my modern day answer to the enduring need for bowl after bowl of comforting and fortifying liquid. Now that I only reserve matzoh ball soup for when I actually fall ill, I’m focused on regularly consuming herb based tonics that support my body in staying strong, energized and relaxed, so that I find myself getting sick much less often. The organic, wildcrafted, ethically-sourced precious powders from Moondeli become boosters to add to your smoothies, tea, coffee, juice, and get this - soup!

Moondeli’s adaptogenic blends have become part of my self-care ritual, supporting my body and mind as they adapt - rather than react - to stress. Inspired by ancient plant medicine, Moondeli Tonics can be enjoyed heated or chilled on their own, immersed in liquid, or cooked into goodies galore. I’ve even experimented with putting these functional foods on my face! Try a teaspoon of the Meditation Tonic stirred into your favorite cup of herbal tea. If you crave a little sweetness, add honey or stevia to taste. Make a golden milk latte by whisking the Golden Turmeric Tonic into your milk of choice. However, if you want to really have some fun, get creative in the kitchen and add these to sweet and savory treats to infuse your bites with life-affirming goodness.

Here are a handful of Moondeli-inspired recipes to nourish your body and soul!

 

THE NOT-SO-MEAN GREEN PROTEIN MACHINE SMOOTHIE

  • 2 tsp Moondeli Blue Green Protein (spirulina, tocos and salt)
  • 1 Banana
  • ½ cup of frozen mango chunks
  • 1 cup of frozen strawberries
  • 4-6 frozen peach slices
  • 1 serving of your favorite vanilla protein powder (I use the plant-based sunwarrior warrior blend)
  • 2 cups of unsweetened almond milk (or other milk of choice)
  • 1 Tbsp bee pollen (to sprinkle on top)

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend it up! Add more almond milk to achieve the consistency you desire (I like it on the thick side, so I usually use less.) Serves 2

CN_5408.jpg

CRUNCHY MINTY HIPPIE’S DELIGHT SMOOTHIE

  • 2 tsp Moondeli Mushroom Adaptogen (cacao, chaga, cordyceps)
  • 1 Banana
  • 1 cup of frozen strawberries
  • 1 handful of raw organic spinach
  • 3-4 mint leaves (to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp of hemp seeds (one to be blended into the smoothie, the other to use as a topping)
  • 1 Tbsp of almond butter
  • 2 cups of unsweetened hemp milk (or other milk of choice)
  • 2 Tbsp of granola (I sometimes add it as a topping and sometimes stir in. I use paleo granola)

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend it up! Add more hemp milk to achieve the consistency you desire (I like it on the thick side, so I usually use less.) Serves 1-2

 

BLISS BOOSTING GLUTEN FREE hygge season COOKIES

  • ¼ cup Moondeli Bliss Booster (cacao, maca and cayenne)-like Mexican Hot Chocolate!
  • 1 Tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup GF Flour blend (I use Cup4Cup or Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1.5 cups GF rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp kosher salt (I often double that because I like salty cookies)
  • 1 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup flax meal whisked with a fork in ⅔ cup water
  • ¼ cup almond butter
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ⅓ cup of unsweetened coconut shreds (or unsweetened coconut chips if you prefer crunch)
  • ½ cup dark chocolate (I prefer chopped chunks, but you can also use chips)
  • ¼ cup dried cherries
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (this is another area where I get a little generous)
  1. Mix dry ingredients together (Bliss Booster, cacao, cinnamon, flour, almond flour, oats, chocolate, coconut, cherries, baking powder and salt) in a large bowl
  2. In a separate large bowl stir together the wet ingredients and sugar (melted butter, eggs, sugar, vanilla, almond butter, coconut oil)
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring it in bit by bit.
  4. Chill for at least 2 hours (I like to chill the dough overnight)
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper (or thoroughly greased) for 10-12 minutes
  6. Check the edges and consistency of the cookies. Depending on the oven, I usually increase the temperature to 375 and bake for another 1-3 minutes as needed.
  7. Cool on a cooling rack if possible.

CHILL THE F OUT CHAI CHIA PUDDING

  • 2-3 Tbsp Moondeli Calming Adaptogen (ashwagandha, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon)
  • 1 Banana
  • 1 cup berries of choice (I topped mine with blackberries and raspberries)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp almond butter
  • 1-2 tablespoons of cacao nibs
  • 1 serving of vanilla hemp protein powder
  • 1 can of coconut milk
CN_5397.jpg

Mash the banana into a tupperware container with the almond butter until it is soft. Add 1 can of coconut milk and stir together with the banana. Add 4 Tbsp of chia seeds and stir. Place in refrigerator for at least 3 hours (I like to let it sit overnight.) Mix in protein powder and Calming Adaptogen powder. Top with cacao nibs and berries!

 

I’ve also added these powders to soup, juices, overnight oats, zoom balls, pancakes, truffles, frosting, and salad dressing, so get creative and have fun! Moondeli suggests up to two servings of each blend per day, but remember that the tonics work synergistically, so you can mix several of them together in your attempt to gain superpowers. I’m not a doctor or a pharmacist, so I can’t say whether or not that will happen, but I’m gonna give it a try… Ceremony Tonic (matcha, cacao, maca,) here I come!

 

Herbs for Transitional and Challenging Times

By Steph Zabel
Herbalist & Ethnobotanist

2017 has been a challenging year for so many of us, on many levels. Just turning on the news can be heart-breaking and traumatic as we witness the loss, upheaval and grief so many of our kindred are experiencing due to human-made tragedies or environmental extremes.


What can we do? How can we respond?


When so many are wounded or are causing wounds, the pain existing in the world can seem overwhelming. If you feel at a loss for how to make a positive difference in the world at this moment in time… First, take heart that this too shall pass… Second, make sure that your body and spirit are nourished and comforted. Once you are well within yourself you will be able to spread this wellness and comfort outward to everyone whose lives you touch.


Some of my favorite ways of nourishing, comforting and healing myself — and my family — are the herbs below. These plants help us come back to our center. Some protect the heart; others nourish the nervous system; others lift the spirits. Read through these descriptions, try a cup of tea (or a tincture) of these plants and listen to the ones that call to you with their healing gifts.

 By Rasbak via Wikimedia Commons

By Rasbak via Wikimedia Commons

MILKY OAT TOPS Offering Nourishment & Calm
Milky oats provides deep, deep fortifying nourishment for the nervous system and helps to overcome exhaustion. It eases anxiety, frazzled nerves and emotional instability. When you feel like you’re about to either 1) throw a temper tantrum if the slightest thing goes wrong or 2) collapse into a sobbing heap if you have to deal with one more thing… turn to milky oat. It helps to soothe sensitive people and anyone who is feeling emotionally overwhelmed. It strengthens the physical heart and the emotional heart. Oat is food; oat is medicine; oat is pure nourishing LOVE.


To make: Use dried oat straw: and steep 6 heaping spoonfuls in a quart of hot water for 6-8 hours. Strain and drink for a nourishing tea. Or, get your hands on a bottle of the milky oat tincture (it must say “milky”!) and take 1/2 to 1 full dropper as needed.

oat tops.jpg

HAWTHORN Offering Protection & Openness

Hawthorn berry is a famous cardiac tonic, imparting a strengthening and protective effect on the physical heart. But it also has a very special affinity for the emotional heart. It can be used to bring comfort during times of loss, grief, homesickness and heart-break. Hawthorn soothes a saddened heart and provides gentle support during stress and overwhelm. It is one of the best herbs I know of for a tender or troubled heart, or for any period of emotional tumult. This red-hued berry also helps us to know when when better emotional boundaries are needed. It helps us discern when it is necessary to protect our hearts and when it is safe to open them completely.

To make: Use dried hawthorn berries and add 2-4 Tbsp. of the berries to 2 cups of water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then simmer at low heat for 15-30 minutes. Strain and drink.

 By Ian Cunliffe via Wikimedia Commons

By Ian Cunliffe via Wikimedia Commons

SAGE Offering Clarity & Wisdom

Sage has a rejuvenating effect on the nerves, and has been used by herbalists to address depression, anxiety and nervousness. It is especially good for the frazzled feeling we get when life is too hectic or overwhelming. Sage helps us feel less anxious and more grounded. I believe when used over time it can also help us to feel more at peace with how things are, and to feel more connected with day-to-day reality, i.e. appreciating what is rather than what we want things to be. Many traditions have noted that sage has the ability to enhance one’s inner wisdom. Sage flower essence is especially beautiful and illuminating for enhancing inner knowingness.


To make: Use 1/2 Tblsp. dried herb per cup of hot water; let steep 7-10 minutes. Can also be gently simmered in a small saucepan for a more mellow flavor. Or, use sage flower essence, taking 3 drops 3-4 times per day.

 By Line via Wikimedia Commons

By Line via Wikimedia Commons

 

TULSI Offering Centering & Grounding

For centuries tulsi (a.k.a. holy basil) has been called a sacred herb. In traditional Ayurvedic medicine it is regarded as an “elixir of life” and is said to promote longevity and perfect health. It is also said to gladden the heart and lift the spirits. Tulsi is a lovely relaxing nervine, and a calming, centering herb useful for an anxious mind. It can offer comfort and grounding when it is most needed. It is a very important herb for helping the body adapt to stress and to cope with an over-active nervous system. Even the scent of tulsi is healing: it is uplifting, brightening and soothing to the mind and spirit.


To make: Use 1/2 - 1 Tblsp. of the dried leaf per cup of hot water; let steep at least 7 minutes, if not longer. The essential oil can also be used before bed or meditation, in a diffuser or simply inhaled directly from the bottle.

 By Shashidhara Halady via Wikimedia Commons

By Shashidhara Halady via Wikimedia Commons

Steph Zabel, MSc, is an herbalist and botanical educator who helps urban dwellers connect with the plant world. She teaches seasonally-oriented herbal classes that focus on local plants, herbal medicine-making techniques, and plant identification. She is also the creator of Herbstalk, Boston’s community herbal conference. Learn more about her work at: www.flowerfolkherbs.com and www.herbstalk.org.


This blog series — Herbs and Botanicals— is for general health information only. This Web site is not to be used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any health condition or problem. Users of this Web site should not rely on information provided on this Web site for their own health problems. Any questions regarding your own health should be addressed to your own physician or other healthcare provider.

Coming Summer 2018: Cambridge Naturals at Boston Landing

IMG-8027.JPG

Dear Customers and Friends,

We are SO excited to share with you the news that we are planning to open our second location in the summer of 2018!

For several years now we have been dreaming about and planning ways to organically grow our 44-year-old business in thoughtful and principled ways. We feel that the timing is right - we have an incredible staff and absolutely wonderful customers who seem to love what we do. Last year we reached out to the team at Graffito SP, who have been working with New Balance Development Group to build a community of businesses with an emphasis on local, unique, and independent. From the beginning we have felt that Graffito and NBDG really "get" who we are and what we do. They were excited by our long history of providing our local community with solutions for health and wellness, in a vibrant and welcoming setting.

We feel lucky to have found a home to grow our business in the Boston Landing neighborhood of Brighton, and we look forward to serving current and new customers across the river, and to creating new opportunities to grow our staff team. And this is just the beginning!

For more information on the Boston Landing neighborhood, please read our press release.

We are currently deep in the design process for the physical space and the business. For information on what we do know, please read our FAQ page. We'll post updates as we move through the process!

Thank you for supporting this local and independent business and for being a part of our growing community!

 

 

Visiting Vitality Works!

By Alyssa, Supplements Buyer + The Naturalist Contributor

Navigating the supplements section in any health food store can be a daunting task, especially when inevitable questions arise. Which brand is really the best? Are the claims on the label accurate? Which dose do I want? Is this a thoughtful and effective formulation? And then, of course, there’s the private label brand: why is it less expensive? Is it generic? Do I have to worry about the quality of the product?

20170727_162740.jpg

Lucky for our customers, at Cambridge Naturals we do the homework for you, vetting companies and offering only the highest quality supplements on the market today. In addition to the more familiar brands you love, we also pride ourselves on being able to offer you our outstanding private label Cambridge Naturals brand, including our herbal supplements and essential oils, manufactured for us by Vitality Works in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This summer, our supplements manager Zach and I were fortunate enough to tour their facilities, including their organic and biodynamic farm in Abiquiu. There, we spent time with Mitch Coven, the founder, formulator and clinical herbalist mastermind behind the company.

 Zach and Alyssa in the field

Zach and Alyssa in the field

On our first full day in Albuquerque, we settled into the environmentally friendly hotel that had been arranged for us - a clear sign to me that this was a company with values that I could get behind. Later that morning, Mitch held an herbal class and gave the group a tour of the manufacturing facility as well as the beautiful medicinal garden he cultivated around the property. I was particularly blown away by the fact that the garden was crafted to reduce water usage and save literally tens of thousands of gallons of water per year! Green initiatives are a major part of Vitality Work's core values. Some of these initiatives include: composting all botanical matter not used in the extraction process (about 345,000 pounds per year), recycling all cardboard (80,825 lb/year) and metal and plastic barrels (884/year combined), using motion activated lights and installing an energy management system throughout the facility. Needless to say, I was pretty impressed.

 Tasting delicious herbal extracts

Tasting delicious herbal extracts

Addressing all of his employees by name as he showed us around the production lines, my head began to spin in awe at how much dedication and passion goes into creating the Cambridge Natural Brand herbal products we sell to our customers every day. Not only does Vitality Works feel compelled to create the highest quality organic herbal medicine, but they strive to connect with and benefit local and global communities in the process, as well as honoring the plants themselves. When it comes to sourcing, herbs are purchased from local organic farmers and wild harvesters who grow and gather the plants responsibly and ethically. When asked why he doesn’t grow his own herbs, Mitch expressed his preference to support farmers and wild harvesters who are already established, rather than competing with them. For example, their milk thistle is grown in Iowa by a man named Leroy - the only organic milk thistle grower in the United States! Mitch has even funded a 5 year study on the sustainability of wild Osha, in order to ensure that using this plant was not going to harm its long term sustainability.

20170728_114746.jpg

Even though Vitality Works is highly selective with sourcing, the quality and purity of each product is still checked every step of the way. Organic and non-GMO herbs are always purchased whole (rather than ground or powdered), and from the freshest and most recent harvest, to ensure there has been no adulteration. This also allows for organoleptic evaluation (the process of using the senses to determine identity and quality) on top of the already scheduled laboratory testing done to detect any possible heavy metals and other environmental contaminants as well as potency. Since timing is essential in preserving potency, fresh plant matter is brought into production the day it is delivered. In the case of sourcing from the beautiful family owned 250 acre organic and biodynamic farm in Abiquiu, herbs are harvested in the early morning, driven to Vitality Works by 11am and brought into processing by 1pm! This year their offerings included ashwagandha, dandelion, spilanthes, echinacea purpurea, wormwood, marshmallow, valerian and St. John’s wort as well as offering the only biodynamic source of seabuckthorn in the country!

DSC_9819c.jpg

By the end of the trip, I felt like part of the Vitality Works family and so excited to share everything we had learned with the rest of the Cambridge Natural team and our customers. I have no doubt that we are putting our name on what are among the best herbal products available anywhere. The Cambridge Naturals brand is formulated by a passionate and humble herbalist who has 17 years of experience in a clinical setting. You can feel confident in purchasing products manufactured by a company that values this planet, ethical and sustainable commerce, and takes no shortcuts in the process. Next time you are strolling through the aisles, take another peek at our brand and feel free to grab any one of us on staff to chat and learn more about what Cambridge Naturals has to offer!