Thursday, March 1, 2012


The other day I was checking the ingredients on my pup's Grain Free dog food (great for both of us, no gluten contamination for me, better to be grain free for dogs) & noticed Chicory listed as a prebiotic .... hmm

As I posted last week, I have been enjoying the gift of Reishi mushroom, & making some lovely chai. Reishi or Ling Zhi, (spirit plant) has a number of health enhancing properties, hence it's title 'Mushroom of Kings (or Emperors)' Reishi is reputed to "keep the body light and young and to lengthen life."

Dr Josh Axe writes: "Their beta-glucans increase T-cell levels in the immune system which can help people suffering from immune disorders, & can help reduce cancer cell growth and the spread of tumors. They contain ganoderic acids that lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of blood clots and even help to correct arrhythmia, & lanostan, a natural antihistamine that can treat arthritis and muscle aches."

BPC suggests simmering a tsp or two of the powdered mushroom for 15-20 minutes, so I pulled out Rosemary Gladstar's Family Herbal, & looked up the Longevity Chai recipe, which I'd made before. I also pulled out some OG roasted chicory root, to use in place of tea (which I usually steep rather than simmering!)

I had some roasted & ground chicory root in my cupboard, & decided that would be a nice addition to the Rooibos/Reishi (etc) Chai I'd been brewing. Often combined with coffee, chicory adds a a similar taste without the caffeine. If you've ever had coffee in New Orleans, it probably was mixed with chicory. Postem & other coffee substitutes also contain chicory, but often mixed with barley malt (a GF no-no!)

A few days later, I stumbled on the prebiotic info.

So what are prebiotics? Tamara writes: "Prebiotics are simply a specific type of soluble fiber that people cannot digest, but the friendly bacteria in our guts can! In other words, prebiotics are food for “probiotics,” or the health-promoting bacteria that live in our intestines and help protect us from pathogenic bacteria." Now, how cool is that??

She goes on to warn that as that digestive process is going on, gas is a bi-product, hence 'go easy at first' .... this fills in the blank on Jerusalem Artichokes, which some folks don't like, as eating them can trigger excess gas! (they are another source of inulin, this prebiotic fiber)

So what about other root veggies, that can be eaten or steeped? Burdock (Gobo) "In Japan and some parts of Europe, is eaten as vegetable. Burdock contains inulin, a natural dietary fiber, and has also been used traditionally to improve digestion. In fact, recent studies confirm that burdock has prebiotic properties that could improve health."

Burdock is one of Susun Weed's favorite 'tonic' herbs, ones which can be used daily for health & general tonification. Read her bit on 'dirty roots'- burdock & dandelion here! She suggests: "Bring dried root (three teaspoons per cup of water or more to your taste) and water to boil in a covered pan; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for at least twenty minutes. You can strain the roots and use them a second time." It could easily be added to the Chai!

Rosemary Gladstar writes in Family Herbal: "Burdock is a superior tonic herb, rich in iron, magnesium, manganese, silicon & thiamine, as well as a host of otehr vitamins & minerals It is simply the best herb for the skin." Young burdock can be grated & sauted with carrots & other roots, or added to soups & stews.

Inulin-and other inulin-type fructans-can also be found in many root vegetables, including onion, jicama root, dandelion root, burdock root, leeks, and asparagus. (George Mateljan Foundation)

Longevity Chai with prebiotic roots

* 2 Tbsp rooibos }

* 2 Tbsp chicory root } - {Rosemary uses 5 Tbsp black tea, which you can certainly do!

* 6 slices fresh ginger root, grated (~ 1/2 "

* a stick of cinnamon, broken into pieces

* 1 Tbsp sliced fo-ti (Chinese longevity tonic herb, longevity & vitality

* 1 Tbsp ginseng root (I get smaller rootlets

* 1 Tbsp licorice root

* 1 cardamom pod, slightly crushed

* 6 peppercorns (I use mixed colours

* 2-4 whole cloves

* simmered in 4-6 Cups hot water 15-20 minutes

I 'give or take' on these, & add other herbs as desired (& what I have on hand!)

* 1 Tbsp dried burdock (or 1/2" fresh

* 1 Tbsp dried dandelion root (or chop some fresh from your garden *

* 8 hawthorne berries (heart health

* 1 Tbsp astragalus (another Chinese tonic herb

* 1 Tbsp shizandra berries (ditto

* 1 tsp fennel seeds

* 1 Tbsp OG carob or unsweetened chocolate powder

I simmer it, then pour some into my little French Press or the basket of my teapot, & from there into my cup. I usually pour the 'dregs' back in the pot, & simmer several more times, adding a bit more chicory & Reishi to successive brews.

Add a bit of coconut milk & honey if you wish.

** Remember, if you increase your use of prebiotics, be sure to get more probiotics to digest them - live culture kefir or yogurt, and/or probiotic powder or capsules.


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