Fire Cider: an herbal tonic for wellness!

Fire Cider

We’re deep into cold season here in Minnesota. My partner, my friends, and most of my clients seem to be dealing with nasty colds right now! I’ve managed to stay illness-free so far (knock on wood), and Fire Cider has been one of my stand-by immune system support allies the last few weeks. Fire Cider is a keep-on-hand pantry classic for good health. As a general health tonic, taking a shot of Fire Cider is an awesome way start your morning or as a pick me up when you're feeling low. It's also indispensable to help kick out the early stages of a cold!

In the kitchen, Fire Cider makes a great culinary ingredient, for use cocktails, sparkling water, or in salad dressings and marinades. I used some as part of the dressing on a bean salad recently, and it was a hit.

Why buy bottles of packaged Fire Cider at the co-op or Whole Foods when you can make a batch at home yourself (or with friends!) and take an active role in supporting your own health? Get on it and build that healing pantry yourself.

What is Fire Cider?

Fire Cider is a combination of herbs and medicinal foods soaked in vinegar, so named by the great Rosemary Gladstar years and years ago. Every herbalist has their own version of Fire Cider, and the internet is bursting with variations. This bold mix of horseradish, garlic, ginger, onion, turmeric,  chili peppers, lemons, raw honey, and a few other herbal allies is a naturally anti-viral, anti-bacterial dream come true, helping to stimulate the immune system, support the qi (your body's functional energy), increase circulation, promote detoxification, and kick out pathogenic factors with every zesty dose.

The spicy, sour, bitter, acrid, and sweet flavor combination is very moving and stimulating to the body's blood, qi, and fluids, making it a great choice if you're feeling a cold coming on, are "stuck in a rut" or depressed, have tight achy muscles, spend a lot of time sitting at a desk all day, have cold hands and feet, have a slow-moving digestive system, have phlegm stuck in your lungs, or are recovering from a few too many cocktails last night....

As for my version of Fire Cider, I like adding I like adding thyme, rosemary, dried, shredded astragalus root, and shredded fresh burdock root. Thyme is nourishing and moving to the qi, and rosemary stimulates digestion. Both work together to support the qi, loosen and transform phlegm and mucous, and resolve pathogenic factors like colds and flus.

Astragalus (huang qi) is one of my herbal sweethearts, a wonderfully tonifying herb that helps to build the body's blood and qi, support the Lungs, and promote stable energy levels and digestive function. In Chinese herbal medicine, astragalus is also treasured for its ability to boost protective qi and protect your body against pathogenic factors -- that's Chinese medicine talk for your immune system.

Burdock root is a long, slender, wily-looking root, with a rough brown exterior and a cream colored, starchy interior. When exposed to oxygen, shredded and sliced burdock root turns brown very quickly -- as evidenced by the deep brown color in the photo above. Burdock has powerful detoxifying, heat clearing, dampness draining, and external pathogen clearing effects. I like adding sliced burdock root to broths, stocks, and stews, and often throw dried burdock root in liver-supportive herbal tea blends.

How does it taste?

It tastes like it means business -- spicy, sour, bitter, sweet, acrid, and awesome. It's called Fire Cider for a reason.

Is there anyone who shouldn't use Fire Cider?

While Fire Cider is considered generally safe, there are some situations where it may not be the right fit for certain individuals. People taking prescription blood thinners (like Coumadin or Warfarin) may want to avoid Fire Cider completely, or use extreme caution -- many these herbs have blood thinning properties, so you will want to work with you physician to make sure your INR levels are stable. Additionally, the immune-stimulating properties of Fire Cider may be problematic for individuals with autoimmune conditions. Caution should also be taken by anyone taking several prescription medications, or individuals who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Finally, if you're a hot tempered or easily irritable person who is warm all the time, sweaty, and gets easily red and shiny in the face, this Fire Cider may just be a little too much, um, fire for you. Try some soothing green tea, lemon balm tea, nettle tea, or mint tea instead.

If you have questions on whether Fire Cider is right for you, speak to your healthcare practitioner.



 A jar of beautiful and powerful ingredients, ready to get doused in vinegar!

A jar of beautiful and powerful ingredients, ready to get doused in vinegar!

Fire Cider Recipe

yield: 1 quart

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar

  • 1 cup fresh horseradish root, grated (do not peel)

  • 1 cup fresh burdock root, grated (do not peel)

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • ½ cup peeled garlic cloves, chopped

  • ½ cup fresh ginger root, grated (do not peel)

  • ½ cup fresh turmeric root, grated (do not peel), or 1 tablespoon dried powdered turmeric if fresh is unavailable

  • rind and juice of 3 small, organic unwaxed lemons

  • 2 jalapeño peppers, sliced

  • ¼ cup dried, shredded or sliced astragalus root (optional)

  • 1 tablespoon dry thyme leaves, or a few sprigs fresh

  • 1 tablespoon dry rosemary leaves, or a few sprigs fresh

  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns

  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • ¼-½ cup raw honey

Instructions:

Scrub all ingredients well, and prepare as directed above.I used the largest holes on a box grater to grate the horseradish, burdock, ginger, and turmeric roots. If grating by hand isn't your style, you could probably use the grating/shredding blade in a food processor, but I've never done it this way! Take caution while grating horseradish and chopping onions and peppers, to ensure that your eyes and skin are protected. Wear gloves, or make sure to wash hands well after contact with these ingredients!

Layer all ingredients EXCEPT honey into a ½ gallon (aka 2 quart) mason jar. Cover with vinegar. Put a square of wax paper or parchment over the top of the jar, then screw on lid over the wax/parchment paper. Steep for 4-6 weeks, shaking daily. Check often to make sure ingredients are covered completely by apple cider vinegar, topping off with more vinegar as needed.

After 4-6 weeks, open jar and strain out vinegar into a bowl through a fine mesh sieve lined with cheese cloth. Squeeze ingredients in cheesecloth to get out remaining vinegar. Stir honey into vinegar, to taste. Transfer into air-tight bottles or jars, and store in a dark, cool place. Done! Shake bottle well before each use. As long as the contents of the jar stay uncontaminated, this stuff lasts for a long time - feel free to keep in the fridge for longer storage.

Dosage:

  • As a general health tonic, take 1/2-1 oz shots daily, or as needed.

  • For acute cold symptoms, 1/2 - 1 oz shots every few hours at the first sign of a cold, until symptoms subside.

  • As a culinary ingredient, use as you would vinegar, adding to dressings, marinades, sauces, or mixing in cocktails or sparkling water.

Variations:

This recipe is endlessly versatile. Here’s a handful of ways to change up this recipe…

  • if you can’t find an ingredient listed above, that’s okay, you can always make it without

  • use other types of hot peppers

  • add a few green onions

  • swap out lemons for limes, oranges, or tangerines

  • add additional herbs with medicinal properties, like oregano, sage, schisandra berries, licorice, or dried medicinal mushrooms like shiitake or reishi

*The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

*Heads up! This post may contain some affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links you won't pay a single cent more, but I'll get a small commission that helps keep the content flowing. P.S. I only recommend products I use in my own daily life!

Changes are coming!

BIG NEWS.jpg

Big news! My life has changed wildly since I started Affairs of Living ten years ago; what started as a blog dedicated to my allergy-friendly food adventures while healing from Chronic Lyme Disease eventually led me into pursuing a Master's degree in acupuncture and Chinese medicine. I now co-own the thriving clinic Constellation Acupuncture & Healing Arts here in Minneapolis, and am in the process of completing my health coaching certification.

All the while, I've kept this blog up, but I haven't added new content in years. Shockingly, it still gets great traffic, and this blog content fills a very specific niche of "I am allergic to most regular food and omg I have Lyme Disease what the f*** do I do now?!". But most importantly for me, it is a really honest depiction of my life during a really scary, challenging, and utterly transformative time. Everything about this blog, and the connections I made with amazing people through it, were so vital for me. 

After some creative visioning and soul searching, I've decided to relaunch Affairs of Living as the home for my soon-to-come health coaching practice. All the blog content will transfer to a new lovely site (because Squarespace has made some major upgrades since I set up shop there soooooo long ago, lol), and there will be all kinds of fun new features that align with my current life as a woowoo coach and Chinese medicine practitioner and my roots as a gluten-free foodie. I'm planning to center my health coaching practice on working with folks living with complex health conditions, providing support (and a little tough love) to connect them with their intuition, inner healer, and personal magic. The best part? I'll be offering coaching services telephonically, so I can work with people EVERYWHERE! I'm excited to get back to my long time internet home. Stay tuned! 

xoxo, Kim

*The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

*Heads up! This post may contain some affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links you won't pay a single cent more, but I'll get a small commission that helps keep the content flowing. P.S. I only recommend products I use in my own daily life!

I'm an acupuncturist now!

Wow, hello! It's been awhile, hasn't it?

The last 3 1/2 years I have been busy, and incredibly absent from the blog. On Saturday, December 19, 2015, I graduated summa cum laude with my Masters of Oriental Medicine from Northwestern Health Sciences University in Bloomington, Minnesota. I took my national board examinations, passed with flying colors, and am certified as a Diplomate of Oriental Medicine by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. I filled out all the necessary paperwork, and now I am a Licensed Acupuncturist in the state of Minnesota. 

Hooray, I achieved my dream of becoming a licensed acupuncturist! So I decided to start my own business. 

I harnessed my entrepreneurial energies and I created Constellation Acupuncture & Healing Arts. I have a wonderful clinic space in the North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and am thrilled to be working with patients. As a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist,  I work with patients to develop personalized treatment plans using acupuncture, herbal medicine, dietary therapy, East Asian bodywork, and energy medicine to address their unique needs and achieve their wellness goals. I want to empower people to invest in their health and wellbeing, help them feel in control of your body, mind, and spirit, and walk with them toward the lives they want to lead.

I am filled with gratitude for the opportunity to pursue this path. Although I learned much during the years of my own healing process and while in school, I know this is just the beginning of my journey as a practitioner. There is a lifetime of learning ahead, I am so excited to see where this path takes me!

This blog was an important part of my healing process, it helped me find my voice, my path, and my foundation. I found community and comfort. And now, I'm ready to move on to the next thing. All the content here will remain for now and I will continue to keep the blog up, but I will be focusing all my energy on sharing new information, recipes, tips, and tricks under my new business identity Constellation Acupuncture and Healing Arts.

Want to stay up to date with Constellation Acupuncture & Healing Arts?

I have a burgeoning blog over on the Constellation websitehave a Facebook page, keep a fresh Instagram (@constellationacu), and have a newsletter.

Be well!

Kim Christensen, M.Om., Dipl.OM., L.Ac.

(check out all those credentials, huh?)

*The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

*Heads up! This post may contain some affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links you won't pay a single cent more, but I'll get a small commission that helps keep the content flowing. P.S. I only recommend products I use in my own daily life!

Recipe: Spiced Seed & Honey Granola (gluten-free, nut-free, low sugar)

Seedy Granola

So many packaged or bulk granolas have glutenous ingredients, are packed full of nuts (I'm allergic to almost all of them), are waaaay too sweet for my tastes, or have more dried fruit than I like. And thus, I prefer making my own granola. Not only is it cheaper, but I can make it fit my tastes and dietary restrictions perfectly! Here's a recipe I'm making a lot lately. It boasts a variety of seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, and flax) as well as coconut, honey, spices, vanilla, and raisins. As for the fat, I love using coconut oil in granola; it lends a wonderfully sweet flavor and fragrance. With a splash of coconut milk or a dollop of Greek yogurt, it makes a great energy-packed breakfast or snack. 

Spiced Seed & Honey Granola (gluten-free, nut-free, low sugar)

yield: 7-8 cups

This granola is very lightly sweetened with honey. I love the subtle sweetness in combination with the roasty toasty oats and seeds. If you prefer a sweeter granola, feel free to up the quantity of sweetener to 1/2 or 2/3 cup, to fit your tastes. It will still work a-okay, but based on my experiences, it will need to bake just a little longer due to the extra moisture. 

Ingredients

  • 4 cups gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1 cup coconut chips
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • optional: 1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract
  • 1 cup raisins

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 325º F and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. 

In a large bowl, mix together oats, coconut chips, seeds, salt, and spices. Set aside. 

In a small saucepan on the stovetop, melt together honey and coconut oil over low heat, stirring often, until liquid. Stir in vanilla extract, if using. Pour liquid mixture over dry ingredients and stir until evenly coated.

Divide granola between baking sheets and spread evently in a thin layer over surface. Place in pre-heated oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove pans from oven, stir granola, and place pans back in oven on opposite shelves. Bake another 15 minutes, until golden brown.

Remove pans from oven and let cool completely. Granola will crisp as it cools.

Once cool, store in sealed jars or containers. Will keep for 2 weeks.  

Substitution options:

  • Substitute raisins with any other dried fruit.
  • Substitute honey with other liquid sweetener (maple syrup, agave nectar, brown rice syrup). Keep in mind each one has a different intensity of sweetness, so it may be less - or more - sweet depending on your substitution. 
  • Substitute coconut oil with another oil, such as sunflower oil
  • Substitute sunflower and pumpkin seeds with any type of nut
  • Substitute sesame seeds with hemp seeds
  • Play with other spices, such as nutmeg or ground ginger 

*The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

*Heads up! This post may contain some affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links you won't pay a single cent more, but I'll get a small commission that helps keep the content flowing. P.S. I only recommend products I use in my own daily life!

Recipe: Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins (GF, dairy-free, cane sugar-free, low sugar)

So it's not *really* spring here yet. Technically it is, but the ongoing weather proves otherwise. It was snowing out this morning! For obvious reasons, "spring" food isn't really happening yet. I yearn for pea shoots, fresh lettuces, tiny radishes, and sweet crunchy kohlrabi. But given the chilly temperatures, I'm still eating root veggies, cooked greens, etc etc etc. Geez.

Since it feels like we are moving backward through the seasons instead of forward, diving headlong back into fall, I decided to make some pumpkin muffins. They are a little autumnal for this time of year, but based on the chilly temperatures, they fit right in. Aaaaand they are gluten-free, dairy-free, and cane sugar-free. I like this recipe because it makes a muffin that isn't very sweet. You can really taste the pumpkin! I mean really, if you are looking for sugarbomb baked goods, you are reading the wrong blog. They are moist and just a little sweet, with a good balance of pumpkin flavor and spice. Nice.

Pumpkin Muffins (gluten-free, dairy-free, cane sugar-free, low sugar)

yield: 10-12 regular-size muffins

I like this recipe because it is free of xanthan gum or other binders, and is low in sugar. This yields 10 to 12 muffins, depending on how exact you are with filling the muffin tins and how large your muffin tins are. I have not tried this using a "flax" egg or another egg-substitute. If you do, please let me know how it works for you!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil or sunflower oil (if you are a dairy-eater, this recipe is great with melted butter too)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 120 grams (1 cup) sorghum flour
  • 60 grams (1/2 cup) oat flour
  • 30 grams (1/4 cup) tapioca starch aka tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a muffin tin very well or line with cute muffin papers (I like dinosaur muffin papers).

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, starch, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice until mixture is light and well-mixed. Set aside.

In a large bowl with stand mixer or hand mixer, combine pumpkin, eggs, oil, water, vanilla, and Agave nectar. Mix until ingredients are smooth and well-combined. Then add dry ingredients gradually, scraping sides as you go, until mixture is just combined.

Spoon batter into the prepared muffin pan, filling about 3/4 of the way ( I like using a cookie scoop for this - easy peasy!) and place in the pre-heated oven. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes in pan, then remove from pan and allow to finish cooling on rack.

Store in a well-sealed container or wrapped tightly in foil or in a storage bag. These muffins freeze well and can be thawed at room temperature or on a defrost setting in the microwave.

*The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

*Heads up! This post may contain some affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links you won't pay a single cent more, but I'll get a small commission that helps keep the content flowing. P.S. I only recommend products I use in my own daily life!