Remembering Our Local Kitchen Medicine

This was an article we wrote for Natural Awakenings Magazine in the Spring:


There is so much change, color, flavor and medicine growing this time of year. From our local wild foods to the farms and gardens, we are rich in delicious medicine! We have gone from the time of scarcity, where our gardens and surrounding lands were just waking up from the winter, with the first dandelions and stinging nettle, to this time of abundance.


The salad greens, sautéing greens, asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries, wood sorrel, sheep sorrel, purselane, wild spinach, walking onions, parsley, cilantro, dill, mint, thyme, oregano, tarragon, savory, sage and of course the beloved garlic scapes, are all in full swing. By the time this publication is out there will be another entire list of summer foods available.

When we look at the vitamins, minerals and higher order compounds in our local food we realize it truly is our best medicine. Seasonal eating means eating what is available in our surrounding communities in order to take advantage of the plant medicine at it’s peak.

Summer is the time of building our health and energy back up to it’s full potential in order to work and play hard. The fall is the time to harvest and eat warm root vegetables and herbs that tend to strengthen the digestive and respiratory systems just in time to help prepare us for the winter’s onset of colds and flu. Winter comes and we crave heavier, fattier foods to get us through the winter’s cold and darkness. Then Spring, with those first bitter greens helping to stimulate the liver and digestion, in order to ease us back into the warm abundance of summer…A beautiful and well-orchestrated seasonal dance if we are paying attention.

Traditional cultures that rely on plant medicine as their primary source of healing understand this connection and use local food and herbs to make teas, tonics, brews, syrups and delicious remedies. These are wonderful and powerful recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation to keep communities alive and healthy. These time-tested formulas that come to this country with first generation immigrants are frequently forgotten by the time the second generation has melted into our western society.

There is however a resurgence in the U.S. to remember these old ways and to put a fresh spin on it. People are learning what we like to call “Kitchen Medicine,” the use of food and herbs to prevent or lessen what ails you. Some of the things we like to create/recreate for great tasting kitchen medicine are, herb infused honeys, teas made from culinary/medicinal and wild herbs, broths loaded with herbs/mushrooms/vegetables, elderberry elixir, herbal extractions,  fire cider, herbal vinegars, tonics, brews and more.

One of the remedies we have fallen in love with this year is the switchel. A switchel is a drink that is both tart and sweet. These drinks were given to those who needed more than water to stay hydrated and continue a day of hard physical work. Here is a recipe for a single serving of a hibiscus switchel that we developed at TIOSN:

Hibiscus Mint Switchel:

We like to make a quart of the hibiscus, mint tea at a time.


– Hibiscus is a beautiful flower that makes a deliciously refreshing ruby red tea. It is a cooling plant that is high in vitamin C, minerals and antioxidants. The flower is quite astringent and helps to tighten mucus membranes. In 2008 the American Heart Association published a report documenting that hibiscus tea lowers blood pressure in pre and mildly hypertensive adults.

-Mint adds delicious flavor, minerals and antioxidants to the tea. It is known to help relieve cramping in the digestive system and to help with alertness.

-Apple cider vinegar adds electrolytes, great for those who have been sweating due to work or play. It also helps to stimulate gastric juices, aiding in digestion.

-Honey is antimicrobial and mineral rich. Local honey has the added benefit of being made from local plants helping folks cope with seasonal allergies.

1 heaping Tablespoon dried hibiscus flowers

3 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves

1 quart water

Bring water to a boil. Pour the hot water over the hibiscus and mint leaves, cover and steep for 1/2 hour.

Pour 1 cup of tea through a strainer into a glass and add,

1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 Tablespoon honey

1-teaspoon lime juice

Stir to dissolve honey.

Refrigerate for several hours, serve cold.

Making food and herbs our medicine is one of the most powerful things we can do for our health care. Finding local sources for your food or learning to grow some of your own, better assures peak flavor and nutritional/medicinal potency.

Ask your elders if they remember any of these old remedies and write them down. These are fascinating and valuable pieces of our health history. The time has come to learn these remedies again to insure that they are not lost to us and future generations.

For information on how you can learn about more kitchen medicine, foraging, culinary skills, sustainable gardening and seasonal nutrition contact The Institute Of Sustainable Nutrition at 860-764-9070

Planting Your Healthcare Series

Part Two

Spring Garden Preparations – Enhancing Mineralization and Soil Life

TIOSN Garden instructor Nigel Palmer, will present a two hour class in the TIOSN garden. We will start with a plant model discussion that forms an understanding of our gardening practices. We will present sustainable fertilization and soil inoculation alternatives to N-P-K. Making full spectrum, low cost amendment products will be introduced. Bring your questions and curiosity.

Saturday, April 16
2 – 4 PM

TIOSN At Holcomb Farm
113 Simsbury Rd
West Granby, CT 06090
$15 in advance/ $20 at the door

You can pay the farmer now or the doctor later

Register for Planting Your Healthcare: Spring Garden Preparations - Enhancing Mineralization and Soil Life

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Planting Your Healthcare: A Tea/Culinary/Medicinal Herb Garden



Growing and eating your own food and herbs is a sustainable practice that regains and maintains your physical and mental health. Join Joan Palmer, founder of The Institute Of Sustainable Nutrition, and learn about the simple, yet powerful, delicious, medicine we can grow in our gardens. Learn which plants to grow in your own Tea/Culinary/Medicinal Herb Garden, which plants grow in this region and what to do with them in order to start taking control of your healthcare. 

Tea will be served

Where: Holcomb Farm

113 Simsbury Rd Granby, CT 06090

When: Wednesday, April 13

6 to 8 PM

Cost: $15

Call with questions and concerns 860- 764-9070


Register for Planting Your Healthcare: A Tea/Culinary/Medicinal Herb Garden

Pay pal registration
  • Price: $15.00 Quantity:
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

August Open House At The Farm

August Open House At The Farm!

Time to harvest the flower and leaf of the echinacea plant as the first step in making an immune supporting tincture.

Time to harvest the flower and leaf of the echinacea plant as the first step in making an immune supporting tincture.

Wednesday, August 20

6:30-8:00 pm


-Meet the staff and students

-Tour the farm

-Whip up a simple dish with August foods

-Tour the garden

-Meet some of our August wild edibles

-Come learn about our one-year certification program.


TIOSN At Holcomb Farm
113 Simsbury Rd
West Granby, CT 06090

To RSVP or for questions please call 860-764-9070

Meet And Greet At Holcomb Farm August 20

Come join us at Holcomb Farm, on August 20, 6:30 to 8:00 pm for a Meet and Greet. Meet the staff, sip tea, tour the farm, ask questions and learn more about our one-year Certification in Sustainable Health and Nutrition. We look forward to seeing you there.

Purslane, Our Local Wild Superfood

There is a lot happening outside right now. The woods are full of mushrooms and wild berries, the roadsides are peppered with wild herbs and flowers, the farms are open and selling a variety of luscious fruits and vegetables, the herbs in our gardens have felt the heat of summer and are growing full and aromatic, and the weeds are prolific and strong. Many of those seemingly pesky plants we call weeds are really some of our local super foods. Instead of grabbing your hoe to eliminate these abundant specimens, you should be grabbing your harvest basket and taking some in for lunch. One of the most prolific weeds in the New England garden right now and also one of the most nutrient packed is the creeping little succulent purslane.

Purslane is one of the highest plant sources of ALA, a form of Omega 3 fatty acid, the nutrient that is so good for the heart and brain. It is also loaded with beta-carotene, vitamin C, magnesium, riboflavin, potassium, phosphorus, and even has great taste and texture. You can put it raw into your smoothies, salads, sandwiches, and pesto. It also works in soups, sautés, and casseroles.
Look for purslane in your backyard and see how versatile and delicious this little super green is.

At The Institute Of Sustainable Nutrition, we teach our students to identify local super foods, harvest, and prepare them in simple, delicious ways. To learn more call 860-764-9070, or enroll online today.

Don’t miss our Meet and Greet at Holcomb Farm on August 20, 6:30 pm to 8:00.
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