Botanical Anthology, Natural Beauty

Lilac Toner

Today’s post is an excerpt from the spring edition of Botanical Anthology written by Harmonie O’Loughlin. This plant centered digital publication is packed with seasonal crafts, recipes, foraging tips, articles & more. Click here on for more info and to see the full table of contents.

Lilac bursts with spring energy.  She isn’t the first to the party, but she is the long awaited guest whose attendance you savor. Lilac’s ephemeral beauty and thoroughly encompassing scent makes for a spring moment no one wants to miss.   

And a moment it is, for the lilac season is gone in a flash, lasting just a few short weeks.  Savor it while you can.  Sip on a lilac tea latte, make a floral honey or simple syrup, steep blooms in an enfleurage preparation to capture the scent, and add it to your beauty regimen with a lilac toner.  

For all its sweet presence and floral aroma, lilac is actually gently astringent and slightly bitter.  The scent is fleeting, but its medicinal properties make it valued in facial care to aid in toning and tightening skin. 

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Fermented Foods, Plant Wonder Collective, Recipes

Dill Kraut

Research has shown that maintaining a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut is not only crucial for proper digestion, but also plays an important role in modulating immunity & inflammation, and preventing chronic disease. Eating probiotic-rich lacto-fermented veggies is a simple and flavorful way to promote a healthy gut flora.

Probiotics balance the gut microbiome, inhibit pathogenic bacteria that cause digestive issues, and help to lessen the negative health effects of environmental pollutants and other toxins that are present in food.

The addition of dill (Anethum graveolens) seeds further boots this kraut’s benefits for digestion, as they have carminative, stomachic, and digestive effects. Which means that they help to relieve gas & bloating and to help boost the digestive process.

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Dill Seed Soda Bread

Growing up, my mom baked soda bread every St. Patrick’s Day to accompany the corned beef and boiled potatoes & cabbage she made for dinner. Now that I have my own young children, when I look back at these sweet, seasonal rituals I can appreciate the extra effort she put in to bring a little magic to the everyday moments in a whole new way. This year, as a nod to my momma, I decided to make a soda bread loaf for my own little family.

Because it’s dill month for the Plant Wonder Collective, I’ve been finding a whole new appreciation for dill seed. I’ve never been inspired to work with this spice much, but now that I have, I’m totally enamored with the complex and delightful flavor it imparts.

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Condiments, Plant Wonder Collective, Recipes

Dill Mustard

Handcrafted condiments are a serious level up from store-bought renditions that are far less tasty, and are full of highly-processed ingredients like preservatives, food dyes, artificial flavors, and high fructose corn syrup. When I first started making my own mustards many years ago, I was delighted by how simple and truly delicious it was to whip this flavorful condiment at home. I haven’t bought mustard since!

Dill (Anethum graveolens) adds an interesting depth of flavor, reminiscent of anise and celery. It also improves the health benefits of this mustard. Dill seed is rich in antioxidants. It promotes digestion and helps ease stomachache. It is said to help boost the milk supply of lactating mothers.

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Drinks, Plant Wonder Collective, Recipes

Bone Broth Hot Cocoa

The Aztecs and Mayans revered cacao as sacred long before 18th century Swedish botanist, Carl Linnaeus, named the cacao tree Theobroma cacao —which means “food of the gods” in Latin.

In modern times, cacao is well-known as a flavoring in sugary desserts and chocolate candies. However, this herb actually has numerous health benefits when not heavily adulterated by processed sugars and other additives.

Cacao (Theobroma cacao) is rich in minerals and anti-inflammatory flavonoids. It provides mood-boosting, anxiety reducing effects. It helps to boost energy levels, mental clarity, and focus. Cacao has also been shown to boost heart health and lower blood pressure.

Combine cacao with bone broth for a decadent and deeply nourishing drink that is a far cry from the hot cocoa you made from pre-packaged packets as a kid. This delightful warming beverage tastes like a guilty pleasure, but packs a health boosting wallop.

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Condiments, Plant Wonder Collective, Recipes

Lacto-Fermented Cacao Hot Sauce

This hot sauce is reminiscent of mole poblano, a savory Mexican sauce made with cacao, chiles, and other spices. Authentic versions of this tasty sauce include 20+ ingredients and can take hours to put together. This rendition is much simpler. Lacto-fermenting the peppers adds depth of flavor without a lot of effort and after the initial wait for the peppers to ferment, the whole thing comes together in just a few minutes.

Cacao (Theobroma cacao) is rich in iron, magnesium, potassium, and antioxidants. One study showed eating cacao boosts mood. It may also be beneficial to brain and heart health.

Lacto-fermented peppers are naturally rich in probiotics, which help to boost gut health and and help to lessen the negative health effects of environmental pollutants and other toxins that are present in food.

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Seasoned Salt Blends

Seasoned salts make it quick and easy to add extra flavor to a meal. While there are plenty of pre-packaged blends you can buy at the grocery store, many of these mixes contain artificial flavorings, colorants, and preservatives that are not optimal for health. Additionally, most store-bought seasonings are not made with fresh, high-quality herbs, and as a result, are nowhere near as flavorful and potent as a blend you can make yourself with well-sourced ingredients.

Buy herbs in bulk or grow your own for more affordable homemade seasonings. Powdering your herbs will also save you money, as herb powders are typically more expensive than dried herbs. 

Seasoned salts blends are simple to put together, but are quite versatile and incredibly useful to have on hand. They also make an lovely gift and may be particularly appreciated by the busy moms or foodies. Store them in pretty little jars and decorate them with handmade labels for an extra special touch.

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Plant Wonder Collective, Recipes

Flor de Jamaica Popsicles

Flor de jamaica (Hibiscus sabdariffa), also known as roselle, is often enjoyed in a tasty, tart tea. It has long been utilized in folk medicine as a laxative, and as treatment for heart disease & nervous system disorders.

Modern research shows that this hibiscus species does indeed have many positive health effects. It is rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, which may be helpful in preventing various diseases. It also has anti-inflammatory properties.

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Natural Beauty, Plant Wonder Collective

Hibiscus & Peppermint Herbal Hair Rinse

There are more than 300 species of Hibiscus that grow throughout the world, ranging from tropical to temperate regions. These Malvaceae family plants almost all have showy flowers and are appreciated for their ornamental value, as well as a number of culinary and medicinal uses.

Flor de Jamaica (Hibiscus sabdariffa), also commonly known as roselle, is a type of hibiscus that produces large, deep red calyces. They are rich in anthocyanins, which give them their vibrant color. In Mexico and parts of Central America, these calyces are commonly made into a tea that is enjoyed for its tart flavor and health benefits.

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Natural Beauty

Soothing Facial Mask & Scrub

Our consumer culture would like us to believe that the newest gadgets, designer clothes, and expensive accessories make the best holiday gifts. However, there is something truly special and timeless about handmade presents.

Handcrafted, natural personal care products make wonderful gifts for friends and family. They can easily be customized to meet the recipient’s preferences, giving them a personal touch. Homemade products don’t contain any of the toxic additives that are found in their conventional counterparts – which can have various negative health and environmental effects. Personal care items also promote self-care and wellness, which is a truly beautiful thing to give the ones we love. 

This facial scrub is a quick and simple to put together and is perfect as a last minute gift. You’ll likely want to make a smaller batch if you’re just crafting it for yourself or one other person, as the recipes will makes a good amount so that you have enough to give as gifts.

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Cookies, Holidays, Plant Wonder Collective, Recipes

Vanillegipfeli: Swiss Vanilla Crescent Cookies

Vanillegipfeli, more commonly known as vanillekipferl, is a crescent shaped cookie made with ground almonds, hazelnuts, or walnuts and dusted with vanilla sugar. It’s popular in Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, & Slovakia and is traditionally made at Christmastime.

Making my mother’s Christmas cookies with my daughter has become a sweet holiday ritual. This year I wanted to try baking some traditional Swiss Christmas cookies too, as a nod to her father’s heritage. When I asked his mother for recipes, she directed me to a Swiss food blog, The Helvetic Kitchen, that features recipes for several classic Christmas cookies.

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Botanical Anthology, Recipes

Orange Sage Butter Board

Photo Credit: Brittany Peterson

Today’s post is an excerpt from the winter edition of Botanical Anthology written by Brittany Peterson. This plant centered digital publication is packed with seasonal crafts, recipes, foraging tips, articles & more. Click here for more info and to see the full table of contents.

Move over charcuterie boards, there’s a new indulgence in town. Boards laid out for guests have been a hostess trick for years, but they are ever evolving. The last decade has brought a child-like imagination to the infamous appetizer, through techniques such as beautiful roses made of delicatessens, but as sourdough bread has made its way back into the hearts of home kitchens, butter boards are taking the stage as an accompanying act.

Imagine a cold winter day, pulling hot bread from the stove and dipping it into a spread of butter adorned with fresh herbs and topped with sweet honey. There are so many ways to jazz up butter from herbs to citrus to edible flowers and the flavor combinations are endless! 

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Plant Wonder Collective, Recipes

Homemade Vanilla Sugar & Extract

‘Tis the season for holiday baking and there’s nothing like homemade vanilla sugar & extract to make your festive treats taste even better. They are quick, and super simple to whip up. The hardest part is waiting patiently for the vanilla to infuse.

Both can be used to enhance the flavor of baked goods, beverages, ice cream, and more. A bottle of vanilla extract or a jar of vanilla sugar would make a lovely gift, as well.

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Natural Beauty

Pumpkin & Rosemary Facial Toner

Facial toners are deeply cleansing, helping to remove environmental toxins, dirt, and make up that has built up on the skin. They also tighten the pores, so that skin looks smoother. But, at $10-$30 a bottle they can seem like too much of a luxury to use regularly.

Fortunately, making your own facial toners is quite simple and is a fraction of the cost of buying a bottle from popular cosmetic brands. They are easily made with basic ingredients you find at the local grocery store and farmer’s market.

Handmade facial toners also make lovely gifts. With the holidays coming up, you might just want to whip up an extra bottle or two to give to friends and family. 

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Herbal Remedies, Plant Wonder Collective

Oregano & Ginger Infused Honey

Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is a well-known culinary herb that is commonly used to flavor Mediterranean cuisine, as well as a variety of other dishes. This aromatic plant also has many potent medicinal properties.

Studies have shown that oregano is effective against a variety of pathogens, including various strains of bacteria, yeast, and some fungi — many of which cause illnesses in humans and animals. One study evaluating the effectiveness of oregano against various strains of bacteria found that oregano had stronger antimicrobial activity than the antibiotic it was being compared with (Özkalp et al., 2010; Singletary, 2010).

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