5 Great Everyday Benefits of Chamomile

Greetings, foodies. Guess what? It’s going down to 4 degrees tonight. Guess what else? I saw that in Fargo, ND, the windchill is going to be -54 degrees FAHRENHEIT! Is that even livable? What happens to your house, do the walls literally just shatter? Where are your dogs? Does fire actually still… work??? Honest questions. I struggle with 30 degrees. I can’t even comprehend weather that cold. My hands and lips are already crusty from this cold weather, I lotion about every 45 minutes, drink about 8 bottles of water… everything is just so DRY.

Queue to a friend of mine at work giving me a nice  big bag of dried chamomile flowers from Barefoot Botanicals. I have some jojoba oil that I’m going to infuse with the chamomile for dry skin. I love to use that kind of thing rather than store-bought lotions, that way I’m sure of what’s in them. I had a bad reaction to a lotion I thought I really liked that was seemingly “natural” – smelled like coconut, had coconut oil in it, was made by a small business, etc. I come to find out, the ingredients were artificial, sourced overseas and god knows what I was actually using. Maybe a few drops of an essential oil I’m feeling (lavender, ylang ylang, maybe some citrus), and I have myself a nice skin oil.

Speaking of, I want to  share with you a lot of great things you can use chamomile for. It’s definitely a useful thing to keep around the house, so be sure to go grab some and stock your pantry with it! Unfortunately Barefoot Botanicals is out of stock, but you can find some to order online here!

5 Great Everyday Benefits of Chamomile

Anti-Itch Remedy for Bug Bites

Chamomile is great for reducing the pain and itchiness insect bites due to the elevated levels of quercetin and luteolin, two types of flavonoids found within the buds. For lack of some science-y stuff, it it contains stuff that suppresses the production of certain enzymes that your body produces as a response to the bug bites. Drinking a cup of chamomile tea is great, but a bath with a few tea bags couldn’t hurt!

Better Sleep

Having trouble sleeping? A cup of chamomile tea before bed has been known to act as a calming agent due to the flavanoid it contains, apigenin. This bonds to benzodiazepine receptors in your brain that are known to reduce anxiety and stress, making it easier to sleep.

Relief from Acid Reflux

Chamomile is known to calm an upset stomach, but it’s also useful for acid reflux, which is something I am VERY happy I know. Studies have shown that it can calm the muscles within the digestive tract and can support a proper pH within your stomach acid by inhibiting helicobacter pylori, a bacteria that contributes to stomach ulcers.  A helpful tip would be to drink this after a large meal to aid in digestion.

Minor Scrapes, Cuts and Burns

Using chamomile as a natural means to help heal superficial wounds has shown to be highly effective. In a scientific study, a trial showed that the antimicrobial properties of chamomile helped speed the process of epithelialization (skin cell regeneration) and wound contraction (further healing). In addition to disinfecting, you can heal your boo-boos faster with chamomile!

Sun Burn Relief

Who’s had sunburn? Yeah, not proud of the number of times I’ve let this happen… but it does. Remember those anti-inflammatory properties of chamomile I mentioned before? It’s great for reducing inflammation after a long day out in the sun. That, coupled with its ability to promote faster skin cell generation, may greatly reduce the pain of a pesky sunburn.

Hopefully these tips make your life a little easier and give you a little boost with all this cold weather. Enjoy!

-S

Sources:

Chamomile: a herbal medicine of the past with a bright future. Srivastava, Shankar, Gupta, 2010. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995283/

Chamomile: An ancient pain remedy and a modern gout relief – A hypothesis. Hamed, Ali, Sanaz, Afshin, Afagh, Feb 2012. https://academicjournals.org/journal/AJPP/article-abstract/F0DF1C635194

Functional foods with digestion-enhancing properties. Marco Valussi, 2012. https://doi.org/10.3109/09637486.2011.627841

Creamy Potato Gratin with Sage and Fontina (Vegetarian, Gluten-Free)

Who had a good Christmas? I did – and surprisingly, for as much as I jam-packed into those two days, it was relaxing and fun. I was tickled to watch my family open their presents, even if I did over-spend my Christmas budget. You know you may have gone a little overboard when TD Bank calls you because they think you have fraud on your card… and it turns out all the purchases were yours 😦

I got some fabulous kitchen goodies, so you know what that means! NEW RECIPES! I’m happy as a clam with my new KitchenAid hand mixer, my new Cuisinart food processor and a few other fun things. They’ll be making their appearances in my recipes in due time.

I also got a nice gift of one HaloTherapy session to the Salt Cove – it’s a new-ish place that hosts Halotherapy rooms – basically, the room is filled with Himalayan sea salt and is heated to a temperature warm enough to engage the flow of negative ions. Sounds counterintuitive, but negative ions are actually a good thing.  To keep it simple, ions are invisible charged particles in the air. Back to middle school science class, some molecules are positively or negatively charged. If one loses one or more negative ions, it becomes positive – the more negative ions, the greater the negative charge. Negative ions are found mots abundantly in nature… some of people’s favorite places. Have you ever gone to the beach and just couldn’t tear yourself away? Have you ever walked through a forest, took a huge breath, and just felt really energized? Trees, bodies of water, rainstorms, earthen landscapes… welcome to the land of negative ions.

Why are they so good, though? Here’s a few reasons:

  • They neutralize free radicals, which can prevent cancer
  • They promote cell metabolism
  • They enhance the body’s immune function
  • They purify the blood
  • They balance the autonomic nervous system, promoting deep sleep and healthy digestion

Sources: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249911/ ; https://www.journals.elsevier.com/cell-metabolism/

If you’re stuck in an office filled with hundreds of computers, cell phones and Bluetooth devices like myself all day, finding a place like this is a real treat. I highly recommend you check out one in your area – they’re popping up all over the map! It’s a great place to meditate, clear your mind and enjoy some relaxation.

Back to food… while I have been doing my darnedest to stick with the paleo grind, I couldn’t help myself with Christmas. I made the most delicious Potato Gratin… for those of you who can appreciate a little starch and a lot of flavor, please check this out J I will have some healthy recipes back on deck for you guys later this week… stay tuned!

 

Creamy Potato Gratin with Sage and Fontina (Vegetarian, Gluten-Free)

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Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 30 min

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons ghee, at room temperature, plus more for greasing
  • 4 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut in half
  • 1/2 cup organic crème fraiche
  • 1 heaping tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 heaping tbsp chopped fresh sage, plus 10-12 large whole sage leaves
  • 1 large block (approx. 8 oz) Fontina cheese, shredded
  • Himalayan sea salt, to taste (I used approx. 1 tsp plus a bit more)
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup plain  gluten free breadcrumbs (these are delicious)
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • ~ 3 tbsp Olive oil, for frying the sage

 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a large but shallow baking dish with some ghee and set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine the potatoes with enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil and cook until fork-tender, 20-25 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Mash the potatoes, along with 4 tablespoons of the ghee. Add the crème fraiche, parsley and chopped sage. Once mixed evenly, mix in the fontina and season generously with salt and pepper.
  4. Spread the potato mixture in the prepared dish in an even layer.
  5. Separately, in a small bowl, use your fingers to blend the rest of the ghee with the breadcrumbs and Parmesan until the mixture becomes crumbly. Add a pinch of salt if you feel the mixture needs a bit more flavor. Top the potatoes with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden and crisp on top.
  6. Meanwhile, as the gratin bakes, heat olive oil in a small skillet until shimmering (but not smoking!) Add the sage leaves and cook until crisp, in both sides, about 1 ½ minutes per side.
  7. Transfer the sage to paper towels to drain. Once the gratin is finished cooking, scatter the fried sage over the top and serve.

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Enjoy!

-S