Use Your Noodle!

By John B, CN Grocery Buyer & Blog Contributor

Ever since centuries back, way before Marco Polo could even conceive of his famous visit to China, the noodle has existed in an endless array of delicious flavors and textures and varieties. From crunchy to slippery, from blindingly spicy to fragrant and floral, a person could probably enjoy a different noodle dish every night for a year without exhausting their options or succumbing to boredom. Our grocery department has a couple of excellent new noodle products in stock, so I figured it would be a great time to share some suggestions with you on how to make them sparkle! Just remember: the three recipes I'm sharing with you today are but a few shades of a few colors of the rainbow of noodly delights, and I hope you'll come into Cambridge Naturals sometime, find me in person and tell me all the creative ways you're using our products to create that perfect slurp!

Let's start with Italian: Our Semolina Artisan Pastas are a delicious and high-end treat, and put any 99-cent-a-box grocery store macaroni to shame. Paired with some of our seafood and vegetable options, they make for a heck of a meal. Cook 3/4 pound of the Semolina noodle of your choosing. Roughly chop a cup of our Matiz Artichoke Hearts, 3/4 cup parsley, and 1/2 cup our Cambridge Naturals Brand Organic Almonds. Add them to the pasta along with half a cup of our Wild Planet Sardines in Olive Oil, some pecorino cheese, our Salt & Olive Olive Oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Now dig in! It's like a Mediterranean flavor explosion, contained entirely within your kitchen!

Another delicious recent addition to the store are a pair of wonderful gluten-free noodle options from King Soba. They come in two flavors. much love to the Pumpkin, Ginger & Rice, but it is my opinion that this recipe works better with the Sweet Potato & Buckwheat. First, make a marinade of soy sauce, our Bragg's Apple Vinegar, garlic, and some of the ginger powder and chili flakes from our bulk section. Marinate two packages of our delicious Fungi Ally Shiitake Mushrooms for at least a half an hour. Cook the mushrooms (along with all the marinade) with a cup or two of spinach and the cooking oil of your choosing. We always have many excellent options in stock. Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packaging, drain them. and add them to the pan with the mushrooms, spinach, and perhaps a splash of soy sauce. Let those flavors meld for a few minutes and you've got a yummy vegan meal without too much effort!

Another popular noodle here at Cambridge Naturals are the Lotus Foods Gluten Free Ramen. I've blogged some recipes using these in the past, so let's do something a bit different here today: Ramen burger buns! Looking for a new and delicious gluten-free way to enjoy your burger (or veggie burger)? Simmer 2 packages of Lotus Foods ramen, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes. Rinse them with cold water. Beat two of our Handsome Farm Pasture Raised Eggs in a bowl with salt and pepper and stir the noodles in until evenly coated. Divide the noodles into six small bowls, place a sheet of plastic directly over the noodles and stack another bowl on top to flatten them, then refrigerate about 20 minutes. Heat up a skillet with some oil. Invert each bowl, careful to preserve the ramen's "bun" shape. Fry them without moving the noodles for about three minutes, flip them, and fry and additional three minutes. Should be crispy on one side and slightly softer on the other. Plate crispy side up and pile high with your sandwich fillings. You'll never look at ramen the same way again!

So there you have it, a few ways (outside of our cognitive supplements) in which Cambridge Naturals can help you use your noodle! Bon apetit!

The Tree of Spice: Cinnamon

By Steph Zabel
Herbalist, Ethnobotanist and Educator

For many people, cinnamon evokes thoughts of the holiday season, of tasty desserts and of cozy kitchen aromas. And rightly so, for it is such a common and comforting culinary spice.

Despite being a staple of kitchens throughout the world, cinnamon is very much a plant of the tropics. True cinnamon is a small, evergreen tree that is originally native to Sri Lanka. The aromatic bark is the part that is harvested for use in food and herbal preparations. For ages it has been a highly regarded and often mysterious spice… The Greeks used it to flavor their wine and the ancient Egyptians used it in exotic blends for incense to perfume the air.

By Köhler–s_Medizinal-Pflanzen via Wikipedia

By Köhler–s_Medizinal-Pflanzen via Wikipedia

There is often some confusion surrounding the different types of cinnamon, since there are actually several species of trees which are sold on the market. True cinnamon, Cinnamomum verum, (also called Ceylon cinnamon) is grown in Sri Lanka. There is also Cinnamomum cassia, Chinese cinnamon or cassia, which tends to be more commonly sold in powdered form in the United States. To me, cassia cinnamon has a bolder, spicier taste to it, and true cinnamon is lighter and sweeter. Try both kinds to see which one you prefer.

The first time I ever had cinnamon as a tea — yes, it can be drunk as a tea! — I was on a very small island in the Caribbean. The local people there drink cinnamon for upset stomach and digestive issues. I remember feeling so surprised by the tea — how immediately delicious and sweet and warming it was. It was one of the best things I had tasted!

Several herbal traditions around the world also use cinnamon for digestion as it stimulates and supports weak or stagnant digestive organs. It can be especially useful for nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

By L. Shyamal via Wikipedia

By L. Shyamal via Wikipedia

I like to think of cinnamon as a more gentle substitute to ginger. We all know how spicy and warming ginger is, and all the great benefits it has for the digestive system… however, for some people dried ginger is just too hot. If you’re like me and ginger root makes you sweat and feel uncomfortable, you probably already have a warm constitution and don’t need something so strong. Try cinnamon bark instead.

Given the inherent warming properties of cinnamon, it has traditionally been used for “cold” conditions such as a weak digestion, cold extremities or poor circulation. It may also be quite helpful for reducing the uncomfortable symptoms of Reynaud's Syndrome. In women, it can be helpful in improving blood flow to the pelvic region, especially in cases of amenorrhea or fibroids.

Cinnamon also seems to play a role in regulating blood sugar and is often recommended for people with diabetes as it can improve insulin utilization. How interesting, then, that it is such a traditional ingredient in sweet, sugar-filled desserts around the world!

Finally, the bark of this wonderful tree possesses anti-inflammatory properties; as such it may help inhibit allergic reactions by reducing the histamine response caused by seasonal or environmental allergies. Blend a bit of cinnamon bark with nettles to help combat a dripping nose or itchy eyes during allergy season.


➤ To make a tea use up to 1 tablespoon of the dried bark per 2 cups of water. Let simmer for 20 minutes in a small saucepan on low heat. Then strain out the bark. You can use whole cinnamon sticks (crushed) or cinnamon chips.

➤ Use cinnamon bark as a more mild substitute for ginger in teas/chai blends if dried ginger is too warming and stimulating.

➤ Sprinkle powdered cinnamon on top of beverages, warmed milk, or desserts.

Note: It is believed that Cassia cinnamon — which is high in natural coumarins — can be damaging to the liver when used in large quantities over time, especially in sensitive individuals. If you use cassia cinnamon, use only in moderate does. Or, choose to use true cinnamon instead which does not contain the high level of coumarins that cassia does.

Photo by Steph Zabel

Photo by Steph Zabel


Here are a few fun cold-weather, holiday recipes below. One is for a cinnamon and apple cordial that will help you stay toasty warm in the winter months, and the other is one of my favorite recipes of all-time, my root chai blend. Enjoy!

Cinnamon Apple Cordial

  • 6 cups tart, local apples, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup raw honey (or more to taste)
  • 2 large cinnamon sticks, crushed
  • 1/2 vanilla bean pod, sliced in half
  • brandy to cover

Combine all ingredients in a large glass jar. Shake often to help the honey dissolve. Let infuse for 4-6 weeks then strain through a cheesecloth and store in a clean, dark colored bottle.

Steph’s Root Chai Blend

  • 6 cloves
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp. black peppercorn
  • 1-2 tsp. dried ginger root
  • 1 tsp. dried orange peel
  • 1/2 Tblsp. cinnamon bark (sweet or cassia)
  • 1 Tblsp. burdock root
  • 1 Tblsp. roasted dandelion root (roasted will yield a deeper, darker flavor)
  • 1 Tblsp. roasted chicory root
  • 1 Tblsp. astragalus root

First, grind together the cloves, cardamom and peppercorn in a mortar and pestle. This will help their flavor be dispersed throughout the whole tea. Combine these crushed pieces with the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Store in a tightly capped glass jar. This will make about 5-6 servings of tea. 

To brew the tea, add up to 1 Tblsp. of the chai blend per two cups of water in a small saucepan. Bring everything to a boil, then lower the heat and let it simmer covered at for least 20 minutes. Just be sure to keep an eye on the water level and don't let it evaporate too much. When it is as dark and spicy tasting as you would like, strain out the roots and add milk and honey to taste.

University of Maryland Gazette
Herb Wisdom
Acupuncture Brooklyn  

Steph Zabel, MSc, is an herbalist and educator who helps urban dwellers connect with the plant world.  She teaches herbal classes, is available for individual wellness consultations, and is also the founder of HERBSTALK, Boston’s community herbal conference.  Learn more about her work at: and

*The next Herbstalk event is the Wintergreen Herbal Market taking place on November 26th at the Armory in Somerville! More details can be found here!

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.

A Wild Fall Fruit: Rosehips (Rosa canina, Rosa rugosa and related species)

By Steph Zabel
Herbalist, Ethnobotanist and Educator

Photo by Rosendahl via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Rosendahl via Wikimedia Commons

The Rose family (Rosaceae) is one of the most beloved botanical groups; humans have had a deep affinity for these plants for thousands and thousands of years. Not only does this family produce beautiful flowering plants such as spirea, potentilla, lady’s mantle, agrimony and hawthorn, but also important fruit crops such as pears, peaches, plums, cherries, quinces, almonds, raspberries and strawberries. What would our world be like without these delights?!

Of all these family members, Rose is the most well-known and sought-after. She is the true queen of flowers.

Photo by Renee Ricciardi via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Renee Ricciardi via Wikimedia Commons

While most people are familiar with the aesthetic and olfactory beauty of the rose, in this country there tends to be less familiarity with the fruit of the rose, i.e. the rosehip.

I adore using rosehips this time of year, when the scarlet fruits become full and ripe. All roses will develop hips once their flowers fade, but depending on the species they vary in shape, color, texture and taste. The hip of the dog rose, Rosa canina, is often sold commercially for tea. Around our neck of the woods we are lucky to find Rosa rugosa, the beach rose, which produces the most beautiful, large, tomato-like fruits.

So why would we want to use rosehips?

First of all, these fruits are a delicious wild edible. They are nutritive and tart, and can be infused into a tea that is high in many vitamins, especially Vitamins A and C. Even though citrus fruits get all the glory for being a great source of Vitamin C, rosehips actually contain a higher concentration of this important vitamin and are in fact one of the richest botanical sources of it.

We cannot produce our own Vitamin C so it is essential that we obtain it from food. It is needed for producing hormones, neurotransmitters and hormones in the body. Having plenty of this vitamin in the diet has been correlated with a reduced risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. In addition, Vitamin C supports the immune system and has been shown to shorten the duration of the common cold. This makes rosehips an excellent addition to fall and winter tea blends.

Photo by Oceancetaceen via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Oceancetaceen via Wikimedia Commons

Like other red-hued herbs and fruits such as schisandra, hawthorn, and hibiscus, rosehips are high in bioflavonoids which have an antioxidant action that prevents free radical damage in the body. These bioflavonoids also strengthen heart and blood vessels.

Perhaps a lesser known use of rosehips are its effect on the digestive system. The hips are anti-inflammatory and soothing, and so are useful for hot, inflammatory conditions in the gut such as ulcers, colitis or Crohn’s. They are also a gentle laxative that is traditionally used for mild constipation; the natural pectin content has a beneficial, soothing effect on the intestinal tract.

Above all, rosehips are a food. They are commonly harvested to be made into jams and jellys; they can also be baked into pies, used as a thickener for sauces (because of their pectin content), and can even be made into a beautiful soup! (Check out this Swedish rosehip soup recipe I discovered!

Photo by Steph Zabel

Photo by Steph Zabel


  • Infusion: use 1 tsp. of dried rosehips per cup of hot water. Let steep 10-15 minutes.
  • You can also decoct rosehips to make a darker, stronger brew but you will lose much of the Vitamin C content with boiling.
  • Freshly gathered rosehips can also be made into jam or jelly.
  • Blends nicely with other herbs for a subtle, tart flavor. Try blending with holy basil, mint, lavender and/or lemon balm.


The combination of honey, vinegar and herbs creates an ancient preparation called an oxymel. This simple medicine dates back to the time of the Greeks and has been used for many different ailments, but most especially for digestive and respiratory issues. Today we can make oxymels as a delicious way to preserve our favorite herbs, or to create a medicinal tonic.

The simplest method of making an oxymel is to mix together equal parts honey and apple cider vinegar and pour this mixture over your herbs to steep. (Use more vinegar for a thinner oxymel, less vinegar for a more syrup-y oxymel.)

Photo by Steph Zabel

Photo by Steph Zabel


  • Fill a pint sized jar 1/3 full of dried rosehips or 1/2 full of fresh, chopped rosehips.
  • Cover with a vinegar/honey mixture (start with a 1:1 ratio of vinegar: honey).
  • Stir it up to remove air bubbles and cover the top of the jar with a sheet of wax paper before capping if using a metal lid. (Or use a plastic lid to avoid corrosion from the vinegar.)
  • Shake those hips! Really… Shake the jar often to make sure the herb does not clump together. Add more vinegar if necessary.
  • Let infuse for 2 – 6 weeks. Then strain out using a cheesecloth and store in a tightly capped bottle out of direct sunlight.

Use this tart honey-vinegar concoction directly by the spoonful, or add to seltzer water for a refreshing drink. You can also use it as the base for sauces, marinades and salad dressings.


Botanical Online
Oregon State
Sacred Earth
Vegetarian Nutrition

Steph Zabel, MSc, is an herbalist and educator who helps urban dwellers connect with the plant world.  She teaches herbal classes, is available for individual wellness consultations, and is also the founder of HERBSTALK, Boston’s community herbal conference.  Learn more about her work at: and

*The next Herbstalk event is the Wintergreen Herbal Market taking place on November 26th at the Armory in Somerville! More details can be found here.

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.

COMFREY (Symphytum officinale): A healer of wounds, bruises and bones

By Steph Zabel
Herbalist, Ethnobotanist and Educator

September’s herb is a bit different than all of our past monthly plant profiles. This month we focus on the great green healer, comfrey. But, unlike all the other plants we’ve covered here, comfrey is meant for external use only, rather than for taking internally. (And I’ll explain why as we go along.)

Perhaps you’ve seen this lush, leafy plant growing in a garden, or even alongside the edge of a forest, where it has escaped cultivation and is happily growing in the partial shade. If you walk along the Somerville bike path you are sure to see some half-wild comfrey growing along the edges. In the summertime you’ll notice it’s lovely violet-hued flowers which are born on a spiral-shaped stalk and hang downwards like small bells.