Simplifying nutrition and using food as medicine - one bite at a time.

My goal with this blog is to set folks straight about what good nutrition really is! Starting by discarding the info we get every day from 'sponsors' that do not really have our best interests at heart, I want to inspire you to eat better AND realize it is much easier than you thought it would be!

Just about any health issues can be addressed with nutrition (and meditation), from mild to chronic to acute. We truly have the ability to heal ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually...

And you can use your daily routine as your vehicle to drive that change :)

Join me...

Quote of the Month

"When food, in the minds of eaters, is no longer associated with farming and with the land, then the eaters are suffering a kind of cultural amnesia that is misleading and dangerous"
~Wendell Berry

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Salal berries and Blackberries

Admittedly neither salal nor blackberries have traditionally been my favourite berries, partly due to the intense seediness of both berries. However, since learning of blackberries impressive nutrient content I’m more apt to pop one into my mouth when I come across a bramble on my way to the beach. Salal berries are newer to me as I ony really discovered them in the past few years. I have a lovely bush growing in my yard so I’ve been using them in pies and even ice cream the other night (sorry, no picture – it got eaten too fast!) And when I decided to dig deeper into the mystery of salal berries (they aren't exactly a high exposure berry) I found the following:
The use of Salal for medicinal purposes by the First Nations of the Pacific Northwest has been widely assumed but the specific uses are not well documented. “The leaves have an astringent effect, making it an effective anti-inflammatory and anti-cramping herb” (Wikipedia, 2008). The leaves prepared in a poultice can be used for relief of the itching or tenderness from insect bites and stings. In addition, the leaves can be prepared into a tea or tincture for use in a variety of gastrointestinal complaints.

The more I explore indigenous eating habits and herbal traditions the more I'm fascinated by the vast body of knowledge out there to be learned (before it is lost!).
Now to plug a cookbook I fell upon recently (in my cyber travels).  It looked really interesting and rather tantalizing to my tasebuds:

Here’s a snapshot of the plentitude of nutrients found in blackberries (a more broadly celebrated berry - see photo at left):
high levels of Vit. C and A, and antioxidants such as ellagic acid known for its anti-cancer properties.

Not too shabby for a ‘weedy’ berry. Funny how we so often take for granted the weeds that grow abundantly around here. Most of them are bursting with healing properties. Yes, I said healing properties; food is medicine and is as powerful as medicine and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise (‘the proof is in the pudding’ as they say and there are many studies that show this repeatedly). Your next meal could heal you. You just have to make it the right one!

Known as the ‘cabernet of berries’ for their earthy wine-like taste, blackberries are easy to incorporate into a food-lover’s diet. I thought this recipe looked very good and a rather sensible recipe (aka: easy)

Prep and Cook Time: around 30 minutes; chilling time: 3 hours

• Crust
• 2-1/2 cups walnuts
• 1-1/2 cups dates
Filling :
• 5 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
• 3 TBS honey
• 1-1/2 TBS arrowroot

1. Combine walnuts and pitted dates in a food processor. Process until well mixed and ground, but not smooth (about 40 seconds). It should have a coarse texture when done. Press into a 9-inch tart pan. Set in refrigerator while making the filling.

2. If you are using frozen blackberries make sure they are completely thawed. If not, they will dilute the filling as they thaw and make it runny.

3. Place 2 cups of the berries along with the arrowroot in a blender. Add water or blackberry juice. Blend into a puree.

4. Place puree in a small saucepan along with honey and cook over medium heat stirring constantly for about 3-4 minutes. It should lose its cloudiness and thicken. When it thickens and the cloudiness is gone remove it from heat. Mix with rest of the blackberries and fill tart shell. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Make sure it is covered so it doesn't pick up moisture from the refrigerator.

Serves 8

(Thanks to website for above recipe)

May you be well-nourished, Lisa Marie
PS: To learn more about other local, seasonal berries see my previous posts on strawberries and raspberries.


  1. I had thought I had eaten every berry imaginable, but obviously I haven't. Never heard of a salal berry and now look very forward to trying to find some. And thanks for the recipe sounds really good.

  2. Salal Berries were a staple food in the Native American diet within region where it grows naturally. Right up there with Salmon and Camus Roots for quantities consumed, it was the largest component of the peoples winter fruit supply.

    To amplify the subtle flavor and aroma of Salal Berries and bring it into the foreground simply dry the whole berry to the texture and moisture content of a raisin. They will become extremely pungent and flavorful.

    The Native Americans besides having a taste for this berry on it's own would mix it with other locally available berries, Indian Plum, Choke Cherries etc... We find it blends very well with black berry and plums to make a fruit leather in our dehydrator that does not really require any added sweetener at around equal thirds. Adding the kind of spices used in Apple pie to the blended fruit & berry mix before drying tastes just great but is as unnecessary as added sweetener. My wife finds that besides taming the sharpness of the Blackberry Salal Berry acts like a natural thickening agent when made into a pure and mixed with other Fruits and Berries.

    Leaving the Plum and spices out or reducing the proportion of Plum in the mixture and then over drying the product will produce something very cracker like, that can be used as a substitute for crackers if you are trying to reduce the use of traditional grains in your diet.

  3. I prefer not to process salal berries, and simply freeze them. They are fussy to gather, and I cut the stem and snip off the berries with nail scissors.
    I use them in salads - and I'd be interested to see a comparison of nutrients with blueberries, which are so highly touted - and expensive if organic. Salal grows profusely here in the Pacific Northwest, and are one of the very few plants that will be happy growing with cedar trees.


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