My bestie Justin came to visit for a few days, and we roped him into coming along for hackberry fun!
The hackberry (celtis occidentalis and virtually indistinguishable sugarberry or celtis laevigata) is an iconic example of a tree that is generally regarded as a “trash tree” here in the South, but which has a rich history of edible, medicinal and sacred use.
When Dan and I first decided to start learning about trees with the same fervor we had given to other plants, the hackberry was one of the first trees that stood out to me as someone I wanted to get to know. However, it took quite a while before I could consistently identify her. It also seemed that every time I did come across a hackberry, the berries were never ripe- that I was always finding the previous winters’ berries. Some things just take the time they take.
A few days ago, I was in my garden tending to the compost when I noticed red berries all over the compost pile. I wondered what they were, and thought that they looked a bit like hackberries. I looked up, and saw overhanging our garden from the abandoned harden next door what seemed like a giant and ancient hackberry tree. We had been in that yard many times before to pick sorrel leaves and tubers. How could we have missed it, so glaringly obvious? When it’s time, it’s time.
Once you know what you are looking for, it is quite difficult to miss sweet hackberry. She has distinctive warts on the bark and is almost always full of galls on the branches as well as the leaves.
Hackberries have a long and extensive history of use on this continent by Native Americans. The berries are rich in protein, fat and carbohydrate, so rightly so! They have been boiled, dried, ground and mixed into pemmican (a dried meat and fruit staple food). The tree has also been used to make medicine of different types. The Houma would make a “women’s medicine”, which I love because to me, the tree has a distinct feminine spirit (hence my use of the feminine articles to describe her). The Kiowa would also burn the wood in the altar fire during peyote ceremonies. I adore finding plant spirit medicine connections!
Recently, I have spent quite a bit of time collecting the abundant, if extremely fiddly, berries. I have done a bit of kitchen experimenting and am happy to share the results! Today, I am showing how to make a quick and tasty hackberry milk. There are two ways to make it, one raw and one not. This is for the raw version. It has a beautiful color and a distinctive and slightly sweet flavor bursting with that wild food factor. Try it!
I used a little over 1 cup hackberries, 2 tbsp. maple syrup, a pinch of sea salt and a dash of cinnamon.
Blend in a high speed blender with about 2 cups filtered water for about 2 minutes (until the hard seeds are definitely blended smooth)
Strain through nut milk bag, cheesecloth, paint strainer or fine colander until pulp is fairly dry.
You will be left with some beautifully golden and sweet hackberry milk. We drank some of it as is, used some in place of coconut milk in a thai curry and also made this incredibly delicious chia pudding:
Chia seeds soaked in hackberry milk, topped with pomegranate seeds, banana and foraged pecans. So yum! My sincere desire is that you are inspired to go out and make use of this, or another wild plant today. Happy Foraging!
I am so proud of myself this week! I have managed for the first time in a long time to eat mostly raw! Sounds crazy for a raw food business owner, right??! But I have to be real, open and honest 🙂 I reached a point where I just felt physically bad again because here in the States, unhealthy food really is ubiquitous- it is the status quo without a doubt. The amount of planning, research and willpower that has to go into maintaining a truly healthy diet ( raw or not ) is mindboggling. Which is why I do what I do!! If I can help someone eat a little better and feel a little better by offering high quality raw snacks and food then I have done my job 🙂
And the truth is, a week in- I feel amazing!! I’ve had lots of green juices, including this one with broccoli stalk, parsley stems, green apple and lime
Raw soups, like this carrot, cashew, and Ras-al-Hanout spiced one
This smoothie with mango, banana and spinach is pretty much like the very first green smoothie I ever had so many years ago!
And I have been LOVING having different variations if Kate Magic’s Purple Mayhem for breakfast.
The basic recipe is this: 2 tbsp. mesquite powder 2 tbsp. cacao powder 1 tsp. purple corn extract Mix in bowl, then add 1 tbsp. tahini 1 tbsp. coconut nectar 1 tbsp. water Then stir in
1 cup sprouted buckwheaties
I love trying out new variations on this and if always keeps me satisfied and energized for hours!! Also, breakfast has always been one of the most challenging meals to keep interesting while doing raw because I never, ever want a smoothie first thing in the morning.
Hope you try it and enjoy it! Much love.
I hope everyone reading this had a stress-free, relaxing Labor Day! I ran into the supermarket today, and while I am grateful it was open for what I wanted, the truth is that it could have waited and I felt bad for the people working.
We woke up this morning and I made some blueberry vanilla almond flour pancakes. I love love love using almond flour and sometimes an almond/coconut flour combo instead of packaged gluten free pancake mix! The recipe I use is just so simple!!
Gluten-Free Almond Flour Pancakes
1 cup almond flour ( I sometimes sub 2 tbsp. for coconut flour) 3 flax eggs ( or other egg replacer or organic pastured eggs if that is your thing)
3/4 cup almond milk ( or water or any other plant milk)
You can add in whatever you like!! I added 1 tsp vanilla powder and a big handful of organic blueberries.
I cook mine in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. They do take longer than regular pancakes- maybe 3-5 min per side. I like to top mine with coconut oil, real maple syrup and more fresh berries!
This recipe makes enough for two big appetites and a baby 🙂
After such a delicious but heavy breakfast we played outside with Amethyst in her sand box and did some more tidying. For lunch I wanted a salad!! I made this and it was sooo good! Farmers Market kale massaged with avocado and lemon juice, with grated carrot, chopped apple and spring onions all seasoned with sea salt and pepper and topped with homemade Dill Kraut! So perfect!
Amethyst didn’t really eat much salad so I made a big smoothie that we all shared with banana, avocado, frozen blueberry, cacao beans, dates and almond milk topped with fresh berries.
We went for a drive and met this Elder who let us take some of her berries! We are going to tincture our haul this time and have some wonderful immune support this winter! We were so pleased as we hadn’t been able recently to get to know a lot of Louisiana flora. Glad to know that Elder lives here too!!
After that I was hungry and tired so I stopped into the stupormarket where I bought pineapple and some purple corn on the cob (so surprised to see this) which we had for dinner! I had my corn with coconut oil and black pepper. Delicious and satisfying!!
The last couple of weeks have been just absolute chaos! I’ve been writing, so I have a few posts to share with you but due to probs with the Flickr uploader, getting pics from the iPhone to ye olde blog has been problematic. Enough of that, though!
So, the week of the opening of the Shreveport Farmer’s Market (thus the opening of the Sacred Strawberry stall) we had to go to New Orleans for my hubbies immigration interview. On the way down, we stopped in Baton Rouge to eat at a place I found online called Truly Free Bakery and Cafe. We loved if so much that we stopped to eat again on the way back up to Shreveport. They are a completely gluten-free establishment and have a ton of imaginative vegan options. The first time, I had a vegan Reuben on a collard wrap. This was amazing! Tempeh, sauerkraut, creamy tangy dressing and a *steamed* collard wrap! Sooo good! I also got a red velvet cupcake that just wow’ed the pants off of me! Dan had a burger and he loved it!
Well, the next day on our way back we decided to stop there again for lunch. This time, I took pics 😉
I had a veggie burger this time, with avocado, barbecue sauce and mushrooms I think. Oh, and vegan cheese! This was one epic burger!
Aaand another cupcake, this time chocolate peanut butter with a banana frosting inside! Um, yes!
Oh, and lots of green juice all around!
Of course, no trip to New Orleans would be complete without a whistle stop at Whole Foods to drop some cash we didn’t need to spend! Of course I got a kombucha (ginger from my fave Austin based brewer) and some raw brownie goddess bites I fell in love with in Austin! Also, Popsicle molds for the little one and yummy spices!