Full on foraging! As I write this, I’m ACTUALLY drinking a Chanca Piedra tea for a daily preventative liver detox… at least I hope its Chanca Piedra. It tastes medicinal, herbally, so I think that’s good. It tastes like hot water with weeds in it if I’m being completely honest. I’m probably not doing it right but we’ll just continue on with what I learned during Kim Ringland’s natural remedies workshop; and this is just scratching the surface of the wonderful and wacky world of herbs. If you’re interested, you should check out a workshop yourself or look at Rainforest Remedies
We found a plant Kim called Mallow and I bet there was more to the name that I didn’t catch or scribble down in my notes.
Identified by its 5 petals and spiral “donut seed” pod, Mallow is antifungal and good against lung problems. I didn’t catch HOW you would use it whether in a tea, a tincture, or what have you.
To be honest I’m still pretty lost as to when and how you’d prepare most of these remedies. Is there even a difference between tonics and tinctures? I have so much to learn before zombies trash our pharmacies! But I do know how and when to consume the next thing we found- callaloo! This is a leafy vegetable you can buy at the vegetable stands here- a Caribbean equivalent of spinach.
It was just growing in a vacant lot for anyone to come pick and add to that night’s dinner. Prepare it like you would spinach by sautéing with a little olive oil and garlic or onion. Local ladies probably have a million recipes using it but I still have a LONG way to go with my Belizean cooking.
Our next find was something else you can eat and who doesn’t love free food?
Purslane can be added to salad for a nutritional boost. I had to google it to ensure I had the correct spelling and sure enough- the internet is calling it a super food and a nutritional powerhouse. And it doesn’t look like you have to live in Belize to jump on the Purslane bandwagon; check out the 45 ways to use Purslane recipes.
In the same empty lot we also found vines of bitter melon growing all over a bush.
The leaves can be steeped in hot water to make a tea that would be good to treat diabetes (I don’t know what type or what kind of dosage a person would take) and capsules of dried leaves could be taken to rid someone of worms (I’m not sure if that was for humans or animals or both).
I assume you can just eat the little fruit too but I don’t know what its medicinal properties would be. After that, we moved on to a Moringa Tree- the tree of life as it’s been nicknamed. I actually knew this tree was here and I’ve seen locals taking seed pods from it in the past.
Moringa is gaining global popularity as a super food- high in protein, vitamins, antioxidants. On Amazon you can buy tea bags or powders made from the dried then crushed leaves. I could strip fresh leaves and sauté them or sprinkle in salad. The seeds in the pods are also edible and Kim claims that after eating one they change the taste of food and drink, for example, making water taste sweet! I haven’t tried it yet but I’ll let you know.
Wow I still have tons of hastily scratched notes to decipher! Looks like I’ll need a foraging part 3 post!