otrdiena, 2012. gada 17. aprīlis

London souvenirs....

Recently there has been some traveling on green carpet.. unexpectedly I had to pack, take my always smiling baby and go to the lovely city of London. I must admit, I was a little afraid, but it all passed- apart from smells and smokers, London is very much baby friendly city, at least people are!
Not going much into detail, but just a note about what surprised me.. When I left London for going back to Latvia with its countryside goodies, healthy environment at least while we're out of the city, and all the natural stuff available here, I never imagined I will miss.... food stores in London... Honestly.
Even though I have much better veggies, wild berries, mushrooms, dairy products form nearby farms, there are still some things I really miss. Like Rachel's organic yogurts.. Like Whole Foods stores with such a wide choice of everything.. Like Yantra, the organic, vegan cafe near the Soho Square..
The variety of organic products in everyday chain stores in Latvia is growing so slowly, while, for example, Tesco now offers I think almost everything! In terms of selling organic, our stores here are still at the level London was at least couple of years ago, but I'm staying positive about their growth towards greener products on their shelves. But for now during winter I don't really trust the veggies and fruits there, so I really enjoyed having fresh organic salad while there.
Lucky for me, we now have Baltais Eko Jogurts in various tastes and of course Daugava's production. But I still miss Rhubarb yogurt. My plan this summer when our rhubarb bush is gonna be as huge as always- make my own. I'll let you know if we succeed!
Note for others living or visiting London- enjoy your opportunities to shop and eat organic, there are many and great!

trešdiena, 2012. gada 11. aprīlis

Spring delights I- Tree sap

Spring has been here for a while now and hopefully we all have managed to enjoy the goodness it offers. One of the favorites of Spring delights on green carpet is sap from trees. Or so commonly called- birch juice.
Here in Latvia we particularly like maple that is available very early in season and birch that comes a little later. Overall Latvian season for tree sap is April.

So what is the sap?

It is a fluid that is transported in special cells of a plant -xylem cells- they transport water and nutrients through the plant. Therefore the sap is a thin sirupy liquid and slightly sweet for it is full of mineral elements, sugars, amino acids, enzymes, proteins, fitohormones, vitamins.

Birch sap must be collected during a short period of the year that lasts approximately one month, depending on the species and climate. Start at the break of winter and spring when the sap moves intensively, but definitely before first green leaves appear.

Uses of the sap- drink it!
Birch sap is best consumed fresh and it is delivering it's best at first few hours of collection, so we drink it all day long. Suggestions vary from at least 2 glasses per day to at least 2 liters per day for about 10 days . To be on the safe side, I drink about 2-3 liters every day all the season, it is a fantastic detox tour after the long winter and especially after traditionally heavy Easter treats! Just be sure you have the availability of bathroom somewhere near. I don't call it "natural therapeutic irrigation" for no reason!
If you have lots of it, try using the sap instead of water for your tea, coffee, soup and other cooking!

The sap contains water that is encoded with trees energy, so when this energy is transferred to you, you might find yourself detoxified not only from physical toxins but also form anxiety, anger and all that replaced with positive senses.

My little one developed some fever due to teething and I also gave her a little of the birch sap that I recommend it to anyone suffering ills and fevers. It has more medicinal properties than that, you can rinse the throat with sap in case of angina and similar ills. Drink it and use it on skin in cases of eczema, psoriasis, other skin problems. It's normalizing acid levels in guts and helps dissolve various stones.

Besides, she totally loved it. And what's not to love! It tastes light and sweet, it refreshes you like water but brings some extra energy and extra goodies within it. It is one of the reasons I love the Spring and I can't wait to have some of our frozen sap later on!

Preserve it!
Birch sap can also be naturally fermented and is traditionally drank on hot summer days, however, this year we opted for something new- freezing! Since it stays fresh very, very short time and you can't possibly drink all that the tree gives on time, it's better not to leave it to go off, it is a total waste. So we filled large and small plastic bottles that were left at our household by our guests or occasionally bought on the way by our family (yeah, I know, it is terrible, but my parents keep forgetting that water bottles may be refilled instead of buying new ones). A little green bonus point for giving second life to these bottles as well. We just flung them in our large freezer and will get them out when the juice time is over and hot summer days are here.

Beauty inside out!

But wait, that's not all yet.. there's not only nutritional or detoxifying qualities of this wonder juice that makes you look good after a good Spring juice tour, it has some cosmetic benefits as well. I use the easiest and most basic one- I wash my face with it instead of using bought facial toner, it increases the elasticity of the skin and moisturizes and feeds the good enzymes right into it. Just remember to rinse it off, otherwise your face will be a little sticky due to sugars of the sap.
For those that wake up feeling swollen I recommend freezing the sap as ice cubes and then massaging the face with them in the morning.

It is suggested to rinse your hair in the sap, however, I haven't tried that yet, so if anyone has, let me know on the effects!
Oh, and really, don't doubt the properties, as I have heard that already internationally known Latvian brand of organic MADARA cosmetics, is using birch sap in its latest anti-age line!
It's not only beauty treatment, but also a natural remedy for skin diseases and itches, and due to its antiseptic properties can be used to wash cuts and bruises.

How to get it?

I'm not sure how many are familiar with this process, so here's the basic detail on how we do it

  • Find a healthy full grown tree and ask the permission and be kind to the tree, it is a living being and will be generous with its energy for you (full grown birch can produce even 20-30 liters per day depending on the temperature and  period).
  • Use a special hand drill to make a whole and insert a wooden tube in it (I don't like the modern plastic tube ideas, we use traditional ones).
  • Secure a bucket under the tube to collect the sap and depending on weather or insects nearby make some "shelter" for the bucket (some suggest plastic bottles, but I wouldn't recommend them since juicing is quite fast and bottle would be overflowing way too quickly).
  • When the juicing season breaks, repair the whole in the tree with wooden peg that fits tightly, cover it with clay, say thank you to your generous birch and let the tree continue it's natural life probably till next year if you will choose it then again.