Fall-Back Snack: Herbal Bites

This article originally appeared in BloomZine 11/18/2013.

As a dietitian, one of the suggestions I often offer my clients, friends and family who are interested in changing habits to eat healthier is to establish a few quick and easy, fulfilling yet healthy snacks. These healthy choices are your allies; have them on hand at all times. They are so important in maintaining a healthy diet because they are the ones that are there for you when you are at your weak points. When you just get home from work, starving, and haven’t even considered what’s for dinner. Having a fallback comfort snack that is actually good for you gets you through that rabid low blood sugar hunger to a point where you can actually think about the food choices you want to make. They need to be something desirable so that when you’re in the I-don’t-care-what-it-is-I-need-calories state of mind, you actually go for them. They’re a detail in the grand scheme of a healthy lifestyle, but especially for those transitioning to a healthier way of eating, an essential one.A few examples of what might constitute an emergency snack food are chunks of energy, apples with nut butter, or herbal bites, the recipe I’d like to share with you today. I learned how to make herbal bites in my Family Herbalist Classes at the scintillating Florida School of Holistic Living in Orlando. Originally dreamt up by herbalist, Rosemary Gladstar, as zoom balls which included eleuthero, guarana and kola for an energy boost, herbal bites require the same method but are open to whatever herbs you feel your body wants and needs. For example, they were shared with me as ninja balls: a tasty treat filled with adaptogenic stress-fighting herbs.

I love this recipe because not only is it a great tool to help us make better food choices, but it supplies a tasty way to get in some of those not-so-pleasant-tasting herbs. There are three basic components to the recipe: nut butter, local raw honey and powdered herbs and spices. I highly recommend seeking out a local apiary or beekeeper because there really is no substitute for local raw honey. Because the bees use the nectar of plants in the area, local honey can act almost as a vaccine does, with a tiny bit of the irritant, for soothing seasonal allergies. It is also full of antioxidants and possesses disinfectant, antifungal, anticarcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties (Buhner, 189). With the decline in worldwide bees, we also need to do what we can to support our hard-working friends locally, bees and beekeepers, alike. In the same regard, sourcing herbs locally by growing an herb garden or supporting someone in your neighborhood  who does yields fresher, more potent herbs and also reduces our impact on the environment. With these sentiments in mind… the recipe.

Ingredients:

Ingredients used at a ratio of about two parts nut butter to one part honey to one part powdered herbs
Nut butter of choice
Local honey
Powdered herbs and spices

Method:

1. The base of the bites are simply your nut butter of choice (almond, sunflower, peanut, tahini) and local raw honey at a ratio of about two parts nut butter to one part honey to one part powdered herbs. Some herbal suggestions are spirulina powder, watercress powder (get dem greens), ashwagandha, astragalus, cacao powder, cinnamon, and clove.
2. Combine all the ingredients. Feel free to add crunch with chopped nuts, chia or flax seeds.
3. Dress it up by sprinkling unsweetened shredded coconut or hemp seeds and cardamom (as pictured) on top. They will keep well in the fridge about a week. Great for travel snacks, too!

Adding honey to the ground sunflower seeds and powdered herbs.
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Florida Herbal Conference February 15 to 17

If you haven’t heard about it, the second annual Florida Herbal Conference is happening February 15th through the 17th. From the site:

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“Workshops focus on bioregional, earth-centered herbalism, with topics including clinical herbalism, herbal crafts, herbal tradition and history, medicine making, plant identification walks and many hands-on demonstrations.  The weekend also includes a marketplace of herbal vendors, musical activities each evening, fun herbal activities during free time, guided movement activities throughout the weekend, a powerful fire circle, and regional mixers.

The Florida Herbal Conference is intended to provide a weekend for herbal enthusiasts of our southern state to learn from each other, wise teachers, and the plants themselves; to build relationships with herbal sisters and brothers from the region; and to get grounded in their herbal practice through education, fellowship, and community in nature.

Enjoy three days of classes and hands-on workshops taught by some of the most knowledgeable and inspiring teachers in Florida.  Meet your regional neighbors and build networking and relationships.  Enjoy time on the beautiful Lake Winona or on a plant hike, or take a movement class to get grounded and centered in your own healing.   With a focus on the healing flora of Florida, our conference seeks to not only educate but to advocate for the conservation and preservation of our bioregional ecology, to begin the process of healing ourselves and each other as we also heal the planet.”

I hope to see you there!