Don’t Be Afraid of Turmeric… Spice it Up!

Turmeric has been across the news for several years. It is purported to be useful in cases of inflammation and heart disease and there are reports it is good for the brain and may fend off Alzheimer’s. I heard someone on the radio last weekend, touting its liver cleansing properties. I heard a report a couple of years ago that cultures who cook with turmeric (sometimes included in curry) have less incidence of Alzheimer’s. What’s not to like? I was already using curry powder but when I heard that not all curry powders include turmeric, I decided to add turmeric to my soups, stews and stir-fried vegetables. I was quite pleased. I buy the turmeric in bulk at a natural foods store. I use it sparingly but if I accidently use too much, I have found it is not offensive. If I make a pot of vegetable soup, suitable for four people, I would probably use no more than one teaspoon of turmeric powder. It has a wonderful bright yellow-orange color. Another idea is to sprinkle a pinch on brown rice, add some sweet red peppers for color, a spoonful of raw sunflower seeds and a dash of olive oil, maybe a sprig of parsley and you have yourself a dish that fulfills many of the day’s nutritional requirements.

Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available here:

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Natural Hair Dyes…

It would be nice if one could find a plant substance of a pretty color and put it on one’s hair and the hair would accept it and the color would stay put. It just doesn’t happen that way and I keep telling my husband that if I could find one that did, I’d be rich. The problem is, the color doesn’t bond with the hair unless a mordant is added to the plant substance. Mordant derives from the Latin word that means, “to bite.” Long ago, manure and urine were used as mordants, not necessarily on hair but they were used to dye fabric. There is one plant though that’s quite good at adhering to the hair shaft if done correctly and that’s henna but it tends to be orange and not everyone wants orange hair. There is a large selection of natural hair dyes available but they can often be harsh on hair and scalp, perhaps not as much as chemical hair dye but wouldn’t it be nice if we truly had an alternative? Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available here:

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Poor Jonny's Cover

Lavender Wash Water… The Romans Did It

During Roman times, lavender was used to perfume bathing water. The Latin word, Lavandula means, “to wash.” The Romans also started the art of topiary, the creative pruning of plants, which they used lavender for, as well as rosemary and juniper. After Rome fell, the art of cultivating gardens fell to Christian monks. In the monasteries, they grew medicinal plants and flowers for religious services, and they studied the genetic characteristics of the plants they bred. Suellen Ocean is the author of the historic novel The Celtic Prince Available here:


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The Celtic Prince

Peppermint is Good Medicine

I always like to have peppermint growing in my garden. I drink it the way others drink soda pop. I usually don’t add anything to sweeten it, because it is fine alone but a touch of honey is nice. In the old herbals peppermint is used for ailments from A – Z, including nausea, vomiting, flu, hysteria, dizziness, fevers, etc. One source even claims it helps insanity. No wonder it’s so popular! I’d be careful about drinking it too soon before bedtime because it appears to be an excellent diuretic and you might make a lot of trips to the bathroom during the night.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here:–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973