Drinks, Plant Wonder Collective, Recipes

Roasted Roots: An Herbal Coffee Tradition

Photo Credit: Anna Reisz

Today’s post is written by Anna Reisz. It’s an excerpt from the autumn edition of Botanical Anthology to give you a sneak peek at this gorgeous publication. Botanical Anthology is a seasonal, plant centered digital magazine packed with fall crafts, recipes, foraging tips, articles & more . Click here for more info and to see the full table of contents.


Herbal coffee is a tradition that can be found, with a little digging, in many family histories. It was once common practice to replace or mix ground coffee with the roasted roots of plants like dandelion, chicory, and burdock. Not only did these easily-foraged plants make coffee go further, but they also cut some of the bitterness in the flavor. These roots also provided a nutritious and grounding alternative ingredient or replacement for coffee without the unwanted side effects of caffeine. Additional spices can be added to the mix for flavor and further health benefits, as well.

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Plant Wonder Collective, Recipes

Lemon Balm Jello

For many folks, the word “jello” evokes memories of school cafeteria lunches or the fruit embedded jello salads that were once a staple at potlucks and holiday get togethers, but have now largely gone out of style. These iterations of jello are by no means a health food, as they are made with pre-packaged jello mixes that contain less than ideal ingredients —such as refined sugar, food colorings, and artificial flavors. However, homemade versions of this classic dessert food can be quite healing and nourishing.

Gelatin has a number of beneficial properties. It promotes healthy skin by helping to maintain its hydration and elasticity. It can help to strengthen the connective tissues in the joints, which may improve mobility and reduce joint pain.

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Recipes

Beef Liver Paté

While liver is rarely enjoyed in the modern diet, it is an incredibly nutrient dense food that is an important source of essential vitamins and minerals.

According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, liver provides:

  • “An excellent source of high-quality protein
  • Nature’s most concentrated source of vitamin A
  • All the B vitamins in abundance, particularly vitamin B12
  • One of our best sources of folic acid
  • A highly usable form of iron
  • Trace elements such as copper, zinc and chromium; liver is our best source of copper
  • An unidentified anti-fatigue factor
  • CoQ10, a nutrient that is especially important for cardio-vascular function
  • A good source of purines, nitrogen-containing compounds that serve as precursors for DNA and RNA.”
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Drinks, Plant Wonder Collective, Recipes

Rosemary Orange Sparkling Water

Rosemary has long been appreciated for its aromatic and medicinal qualities. It is rich in antioxidants and has been used to boost cardiovascular and digestive health. Studies have shown that rosemary helps to improve memory and may be beneficial in improving mental performance in elderly individuals.

This tasty sparkling water is a lovely way to enjoy the flavor, and potentially some of the health benefits of rosemary.

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Recipes, Sourdough

Rosemary & Garlic Sourdough Buns

These savory sourdough buns combine two of my very favorite culinary herbs — rosemary & garlic. In addition to boosting flavor, these herbs also have beneficial properties when added to food.

Rosemary supports the liver and helps to aid digestion, reducing gas, cramping, and bloating. Garlic is also carminative, helping to improve the digestive process and prevent constipation. Both herbs have antimicrobial effects and have been used as natural preservatives to help prevent food spoilage (de la Forêt).

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muffins, Recipes

Banana Orange Muffins

Organic, local oranges and bananas are abundant here in Ecuador. Both grow well here in the Sierras and throughout the country. When you drive to the Ecuadorian coast you’ll see miles and miles of banana plantations along the roadways — reminiscent of the seemingly endless monocropped fields of corn and soy that you find in the Midwest region of the United States, where I grew up. Oranges are also quite common, and many folks with garden space have at least one (but usually several) orange trees.

These banana-orange muffins are a delicious way to utilize these abundant fruits and are a tasty spin on a classic from my childhood — banana bread.

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Condiments, Plant Wonder Collective, Recipes

Mint Yogurt Sauce

Mint (Mentha spp.) is a well-known herb that is a common flavoring for gum, mouthwash, & toothpaste, as well as foods and beverages, like ice cream & tea.

If you have an established mint patch, you likely have an abundance of mint, and may be wondering how to utilize it. This sauce is super quick & easy to put together and is a tasty way to use fresh mint from the garden.

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Recipes, Snacks, Sourdough

Sourdough Nettle Crackers


It’s springtime in the Northern hemisphere, which means that nettles  (Urtica dioica) are starting to pop up, or will be soon, in many of my old stomping grounds. Foraging nettles was one of my favorite spring traditions when I lived in Michigan. 

These days, I’m fortunate enough to have a several large nettle patches I can harvest from year round, which brings me a great deal of joy. Nettles are one of my favorite herbs. They’re nutrient dense — rich in vitamins A, C, D and K and minerals, like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron — and help to boost overall health.

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Kitchen Basics, Sourdough

Getting Started with Sourdough

In his book, Wild Fermentation, Sandor Katz says, “many bakers I have known feel that breadmaking is a spiritual exercise that connects them to life forces. I quite agree: Like any ferment, bread also requires the harnessing and gentle cultivation of life forces” (94). 

The “life force” of bread is yeasts, which devour carbohydrates —in this case, flour — turning them into alcohol and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide bubbles help bread to rise, and give it that wonderful airiness and texture. The alcohol is just a by-product, in bread making, and it evaporates during the process of baking (Katz, 2003). 

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Recipes, Sourdough

Buckwheat Sourdough Pancakes

These buckwheat sourdough pancakes are a healthier spin on a classic breakfast favorite. Buckwheat flour adds high-quality protein, minerals, and antioxidants. Sourdough fermentation boosts the availability of nutrients and improves the digestibility of the gluten. 

Make the batter the night before and then it’ll be ready to go in the morning for a low prep breakfast.

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Cookies, Holidays, Recipes

Pine Needle Shortbread Cookies

These pine needle shortbread cookies are perfect for the winter holidays. The herbal, citrusy flavor of pine pairs beautifully with spicy cinnamon & clove and tastes like Christmas —in cookie form.

Winter is a wonderful time to forage pine, which is one of the few things that’s still lush and green in the colder months, if you live in the Northern hemisphere. Pines are fairly common in most parts of the world, so chances are good that you have some type of pine growing near you.

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Cookies, Holidays, Recipes

Mom’s Sugar Cookies

Growing up, one of my favorite Christmas traditions was making sugar cookies with my mom and sister. I loved deciding which shapes to cut out of the dough and mounding the cookies with frosting after they’d cooled. But, looking back, it was the quality time with my mom and sister that made this holiday ritual extra sweet.

Now, that Ayla is getting a bit older, baking with her has become one of my new favorite ways to celebrate the holiday season. Last year I asked my mom for her recipe and we’ve since enjoyed making Nana’s Christmas cookies together. It feels so special to be able to carry on these cherished family traditions with my daughter.

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Recipes, Sourdough

Sourdough Potato Buns

These sourdough potato buns are a favorite in our house. Light and fluffy and a bit sour, they would make a lovely accompaniment to Christmas dinner, but also pair well with a bowl of soup or with a cup of tea.

This recipe calls for sourdough starter. If you don’t have a starter, don’t worry, you can make your own very easily, it just requires a bit of time. Check out this blog post for more details about getting started with sourdough.

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Condiments, Recipes

Papaya Hot Sauce

Store-bought hot sauces often contain added sugar, over-processed ingredients, and other more nefarious additives, including chemical preservatives & colorants. Homemade hot sauces, on the other hand, can be a great way to boost health while adding flavor & heat to your food. 

As of late, I’ve become quite the hot pepper enthusiast. I make a small batch of fresh hot sauce nearly every day. Typically, these are “five minute hot sauces,” which are incredibly quick & easy to make. This method involves tossing a fresh pepper (or two) and a few other whole food ingredients in a blender and whirring it all up. Super simple. 

This Papaya Hot Sauce is one of my favorites. It’s creamy, naturally sweet, and pairs well with a variety of dishes. It is also rich in nutrients and health boosting properties.

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