Mandarin Orange Gummies, A Nutrient Dense Winter Treat

Healing Wisdom from The Yellow Emperor’s Classic on Chinese Medicine

gummies

The three months of winter, they denote securing and storing… Go to bed early and rise late. You must wait for the sun to rise. Let the mind enter a state as if hidden {as if shut in}, as if you had secret intentions, as if you had already made gains.
(Unschuld, Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen, Ch.3 p49.)

This passage is from an ancient Chinese medical text called The Yellow Emperor’s Classic on Chinese Medicine. The Yellow Emperor, Huang Di ruled in the middle of the third millennium.

Following the Energy of the Seasons

This ancient wisdom guides us to follow the energy of the seasons.  It gives us permission to hibernate, rest, consolidate, contract and slow down in winter, which is so contrary to our western cultural rhythms.

It gives us permission to rest in what we have done and slow down our minds from trying to always create something new. It seems we all must be doing something, or we feel unproductive or useless.  Winter is a time for less social engagements.

Deeply Nourishing Foods

It is also a time for deeply nourishing foods that are slow and well cooked, warm and easy to digest. Foods that go deep such as roots, broths from bones, marrow and gelatin nourish us at our core.

Just as the plants have retracted their energy to their roots, so do we:

In winter the true qi of the depots descends into the kidneys. The kidneys store the qi of the bones and of the marrow.
(Unshculd, Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen, Ch 18, p307.)

It is a good time to store up so that we have the force and vitality to expand into the spring and summer rays of the sun. Using seasonal ingredients is another way to align our bodies with nature’s rhythms.

Gummies: a Nourishing Treat

Gummies are a deeply nourishing treat that are especially appropriate during the winter as our energy contracts deep into our body.

The most important ingredient in gummies is gelatin, made from long-simmered bones, marrow, and cartilage. Gelatin and bone broth are some of the most healing and easiest foods to digest, commonly thought of as convalescent food (hence jello given in hospitals).

I have been making these for my kids for some years, and it was always hit or miss, for I am just not a recipe follower. With the help of Nourished Kitchen (see her Glowing Ghost Gummies here), I did follow the bones of this one and made my own creative additions and flavor adjustments.

Gummies are the most satisfying treat I can give my children where I know I am supporting their healthy growth. They are loaded with grass-fed gelatin (Great Lakes is my favorite), seasonal fruit, and sometimes herb flavors.

Gelatin contains

  • High amounts of protein
  • Amino acids
  • collagen for strong bones, teeth, hair, and nails

In Chinese Medicine, gelatin is an essence (Jing) tonic. Gelatin is what makes a good bone broth gel. In our own bodies, Jing is our bone marrow, our brain matter, the deepest part of our beings.

Jing is the source of all of our vitality, emanating into yin, yang, qi and blood and spirit. From deep within, if our Jing is strong then our spirit (Shen) emanates vitality.

Gummy Recipe

  • 1/4 cup gelatin
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed mandarin orange juice (I add the juice of 1-2 lemons as well, for my kids like it tart)
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric (for color and a little medicine!)
  • Pinch of sea salt
  1. Put your gelatin into a mixing bowl and pour on the water to soften.
  2. Heat your juice, turmeric, salt, and honey on low heat until honey dissolves.
  3. Pour over gelatin, and stir stir stir.
  4. You can put your mix back over a very low flame on the stove to aid in dissolving. You may have to strain out some of the lumps. I eat these gelatin globs because I know what’s good for me!  Nourished Kitchen suggests using a mixer. For me, this aerates the gummies and changes them to a less-pleasing texture.
  5. Pour into silicon molds or a square food storage container.
  6. Put in the fridge to chill for about an hour.
  7. Pop them out of the molds, or cut into squares if you put in a food storage container.
  8. The recipe makes between 25-30 gummies. And let your children have at them!

You will feel good as they gobble up this healthy treat, knowing you are nourishing them deeply.

Gummies are a healthy treat for

  • The elderly
  • Pregnant women
  • Breastfeeding women

It is also beneficial for fertility enhancement.

Note: It is not advised to give raw honey to children under one year old.

Other seasonally appropriate flavors could be

  • Elderberry
  • Rosehip
  • Persimmon
  • Quince
  • Yerba santa

Allow your inner alchemist to create and concoct. I would love to hear what you come up with!

 

 

 

 

Pokeberry Jelly

Pokeberries from my backyard

Below our home and out back behind the old barns, which are falling down plank by plank from the drilling of the wood bees, there is a pokeweed forest growing. An old cedar came down two winters ago, and it seems all these dormant poke seeds finally saw the light to germinate.

Poke, Phytolacca americana, or Shang lu, is a striking and irresistible plant. It is alluring as it matures and streaks purple into its stems, growing clusters of creamy blossoms and then the berries, deep purple with fuchsia stems, staining fingers vibrant pink.

How can anyone resist this toxic plant? Its beauty has probably been the reason people have persisted in discovering its uses as food and medicine.

This is the end of October, and I have just harvested the last of the berries, leaving many for the bears and the birds. Poke has been used as medicine, food and dye around the world for hundreds of years.

Traditional Uses of Pokeberry

Appalachia

In the Appalachia, they make poke greens “sallat,” (by picking shoots before purple/red streaks appear, at about 6″ tall), poke berry jelly, poke root oil, and pokeberry water.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

The root in TCM is called Shang lu, and it is bitter, cold to neutral, downward directing, toxic, and to be used with great caution. It enters the Bladder, Kidney, Large Intestine, Spleen, and Lung. It is traditionally used to treat edema in the upper, middle, and lower burners, with its action of strongly unblocking the water gates and promoting movement of catabolic wastes.

In large doses poke root may cause diarrhea, vomiting, and in larger doses it may cause respiratory failure and death.

Other Uses

Poke is also traditionally used as a lymph cleanser and mover for glandular inflammations, such as mononucleosis, mastitis, swollen glands in the armpit, throat and neck, and for dissolving cysts in the ovaries or fatty tumors elsewhere in the body. Internally taken as a tincture, its traditional use is 1–10 drops 1–3x/day. It is also made into an oil and used topically over affected areas.

The berries are traditionally used similarly in a tincture, a jelly or pokeberry water to stave off rheumatism, aid in recovery from the flu, and to support healthy immune functioning.

Pokeberry is traditionally used similarly to or in combination with red root and cleavers.  It is believed that now is a good time of year to make this medicine, for we are headed into winter, where the cold and our slightly more sedentary lifestyle and richer foods can cause things to move slower and accumulate in our lymph and glandular system. People will also use it in the spring when they may be ready to cleanse winter accumulations.

Recipes

This year I made a delicious jelly and a tincture of the berries. I am waiting a bit longer to harvest the root to make a root oil and tincture.

The seeds within the juicy pink berries are toxic, but the fruit is not. Here are a few recipes where can you avoid the seeds, and utilize fruit only.

This is the jelly I made with pokeberries

Pokeberry Jelly

  • 3 cups ripe poke berries
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp grass fed gelatin
  • 1 cup sugar, or raw honey (if you use
    raw honey add at the end)
  1. Bring to boil and simmer 20 mins.
  2. Gently crush the berries in the pot
    with a potato masher.
  3. Strain the seeds out.
  4. Pour into jars.
  5. Eat a little per day as needed (see caution below).

Pokeberry Water

  1. Place 10 or so berries in a quart of water, and leave overnight.
  2. Strain the next morning, and drink 1/2 cup everyday for four days (see caution below). According to traditional use, this may help prevent rheumatisms and promote immune-recovery and strength.

Traditional Uses for Inflammation

Another traditional use of the berries medicinally for helping arthritis and other inflammations is to swallow one whole berry per day for seven days, adding one berry each day until you are up to seven berries in seven days. Then tapering down one berry per day from seven, six, five, etc., to one berry daily (see caution below).

Use With Caution

The word toxic can be a strong deterrent to medicine, but it is important to learn how to use this prolific plant safely. And truly, all plants are to be used with caution, for they can create a unique, possibly adverse dynamic within each person’s bio-region!

Always start with the smallest doses, check in with your care provider before starting any new health regimen, and observe your body. If rashes appear, or abdominal discomfort occurs, discontinue use and contact your care provider.

Thanks to the many before us who figured out the diverse poke uses. May this article promote aware, wise and cautious use of what we have available, outside our back doors.