Hello once again as we all begin our gentle shift to harmonise with the new season of bountiful spring. I invite you to tune into the signs of the earth’s celebration of new life after the dark restorative coolness of winter. Remembering that winter is a necessary time to slow down, to re-assess, to re-stock and build resilience for both us as humans but also the plants and other fauna alike. We see it on our farm Albertvale as we have a rather harsh winter with frost and cold winds. The plants hunker down, the animals prepare for the birth of their babies in spring, others hibernate. The bees are quiet, the earth is restoring, the birds have stopped nesting, the blue cranes are pairing off and those plants that frost have gone underground. Now we awaken to the first signs of spring and it immediately stirs our inner soul. The clivia are just pushing, the bulbs are starting to flower, the lambs are being born daily, the birds are slowly coming back and the farm and garden daily activities call for a shift in gear and we all gently wake up to the brighter mornings.
It is truly wonderful that I never tire of the emergence of spring with the need to up my own vibration so as to harmonise with the new season. The change from heavy root vegetables and brassicas, with the phasing out of the citrus as well as the bounty of new fresh herbs that only come from springtime, is welcomed by my body and digestive system. I notice the peeping of the new thyme leaves, the fennel pushing higher and higher, the mint re-emerging along with the tarragon. My turmeric, ginger and horseradish take a beating each winter but never disappoint as they stoically push through the softening earth to welcome in the new cycle. I find myself, or the busy birds, scratching through the compost cover I have placed over the salvias, lemon balm and inca lillies to protect them over winter, to find the promise of the new pushing buds from the rootstock. The relief at the assessment that they have made it through and now will again provide a bounty of herbal wisdom for my kitchen inventions is evident in my softened face as I say “Hello to Spring. “
The farm life is all abuzz as we busy ourselves with the lambing season. This is certainly the busiest time of the year for us as we increase the watering of our pastures that provide the nurturing food for the new little ones. Twins are carefully marked each and every hour as they emerge with shining faces to greet the world. There is an increased vibration in the air every morning as the birdsong sings the new morning in, the sun is definitely warmer and all the small creatures start their daily hunt for food. Nature certainly is a miracle and the cyclical rhythms are to behold. I find I learn so much if I just take the time to listen and observe.
For me spring is a time for freshness, lighter flavours, increased green leafy vegetables, an abundance of peas, broadbeans, carrots, springonions and fresh herbs. I find myself reluctant to move completely away from the roots and citrus and so working with a fusion of flavours is where I find myself. The exuberance of the edible flowers and abundance of colour nutrition available always excite me as I just love presenting pretty food and these beauties make it so easy. My suggestion is to try the following as additions to your cooking either as a garnish or within the food or salads. The pineapple sage flowers are a treat as are the geranium family flowers with the nasturtium and red roses. A great combination in the hot colours. If one is looking for a cooler palette then try the borage flowers with lighter shades of simple roses, white dianthus, pale viola and perhaps even the English Daisy. The Alyssum are all edible too and can be quite fun. Each of these flowers has their place in the spectrum of nutrition, food value, emotional vibration and general pleasure of eating with your eyes. Many can be steeped in pure water for that soft and mild flavour or added to mint , fennel or lemon balm as a hydrating option for those warmer days. One option wile one has an abundance of flowers is to place them in ice cubes for a special occasion or just for ease of use. Another is to combine them with fruits as ice cubes which add pizzazz to any drinks or party. Springtime is a time for celebrations and our gardens are certainly a key for me, both with the food and the outdoor entertainment spaces. Consider large pots of edibles as an essential part of your patio. The ancient Nasturtiums spring to mind….The entire plant is edible and so pretty with all the new colours.
The leaves are somewhat peppery but added to the flowers which are sweet and nectar filled they make a well balanced palette. The seeds can be pickled or just eaten raw for that punch. The plant is well known in ancient remedies and especially for it’s vitamin C levels, immune boosting properties and for tackling bacteria and fungi. It is actually a part of the brassica family. I have included a salad recipe below with beetroot, citrus, new greens and new potatoes as an addition to a good barbeque. Yes the nasturtiums give a wonderful punch to this one including to the look.
You can also make Nasturtium pesto which I often mix with rocket as a bulker to give that nutritional boost to food as we change seasons. This is the time of year where our bodies oscillate between warm and cool, open and closed, yin and yang, energetic and lethargic and this leads to a strain on our immune system. A good power packed pesto can really help here and be added to pasta, couscous, chickpeas, rice, kitchari , cheese platters or mixed with an oil of your choice to make that instant dressing for any salad. I encourage readers to consider two projects in the spring….firstly to consider starting a garnish or herb garden even if it is in a pot or numerous pots. Plant only what you like to eat. If you look at my new Hello Healthi website you will find some inspiration for simple designs and some planting tips, ideas and soil prep.
Secondly try to explore new flavours in the edibles. Taste a rose petal, try them in some water, eat a borage flower whole and even try the leaves chopped up in salad. Look at my list of edible flowers and unusual leaves on the website and try to incorporate this abundance of nutritional flora that nature provides for us. She has so many answers if we are just willing to try. Let’s make a concerted effort to include the fresh new spring herbs and flowers in our cooking for the whole family to benefit. So much is there for foraging or just ask a friend with an over supply to share some. Our health will step up a level, our tastebuds will awaken and our immune systems will welcome the variety and the bioavailability of the nutrients in the fresh whole produce.
To end off there are some warnings. Please stay away from pesticide sprayed plants and flowers. If you are not sure then leave them alone. Grow your own and have some fun. Also remember if you have current health conditions some herbs are not for everyone so please err on the side of caution and ask first. Please visit the Hello Healthi website or Facebook page for additional inspiration or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to visit us on the farm, attend a retreat, book a 1-1 personalized health and food choice call or just ask a question. I look forward to engaging with you all. The new site offers online yoga, cooking masterclass series, bespoke retreat days, Ayurvedic assessments and more. Pop in sometime.
Roasted beetroot, fresh greens, potatoes and nasturtium salad:
- 4 medium beetroot ( if the green tops are fresh keep them to use too )
- 12 baby potatoes ( or chunks cut of large ones or sweet potato pieces )
- 4 cups shredded fresh greens including beetroot tops, baby rocket, mustard greens, baby spinach, or any other green you may like
- 1 cup shredded dill / fennel / chervil / tarragon ( any of this combined or proportion as u have it )
- 2 oranges peeled and segmented
- 1 c sunflower seeds dry roasted
- ½ cup nasturtium leaves
- 20 nasturtium flowers
Boil the beetroot for approx. 30 minutes and potatoes separately for approx. 15 minutes . Remove , cut beets into smaller pieces and add to roasting pan and drizzle with oil and toss through Roast them for approx. 30 minutes till tender. You can leave on the beet skins if they are young or remove before roasting. I like to roast potatoes and beets in separate pans and they discolour each other and may take different times. Dry toast the sunflower seeds at the same time but remove when done tossing occasionally
Allow them to cool.
Slice potatoes to smaller pieces if desired and check beetroot sizes. Toss together with all your greens which are pre-shredded to your liking. I like to shred the herbs finer than the greens. Top with the orange segments. Leave off flowers and seeds for garnishing.
- 4 Tbs white wine vinegar… I like a tarragon flavour but you can choose ( you can also use red wine vinegar or one of your choice )
- 1 Tbs mustard – I use Dijon smooth
- ¾ Cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all together and add to salad – toss to coat
Then add garnish of seeds and flowers