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Actually, “salt free” isn’t entirely true. More accurate would be to say that this seasoning blend only contains the naturally-occurring salts found in the herbs—no salt is added.

A gomasio is a traditional Japanese seasoning blend made of unhulled sesame seeds and salt. My challenge was to come up with an herbal gomasio that was “salt free” and highly nutritive. Many of us eat far too much salt in our diets, but we still crave the flavor, and especially now in the grand season of a fresh food bounty—farmer’s booths at the market overflowing with greens and reds and yellows and purples—it’s simply divine to be able to put raw greens and veggies on a platter, drizzle on some oil and a sprinkling of this gomasio. I don’t know about you, but this time of year I have trouble keeping salad dressing around, we go through it so fast.

My other challenge is that I don’t particularly like the taste of seaweeds, which are a major component in most other saltless seasonings.

You may also be aware that much of the salt we get at the store is “iodized,” that is to say iodine is added as a supplement to ensure that we get enough of it in our diet. Well, both sesame seeds and nettles are good natural sources of iodine. On the whole, this blend boasts myriad beneficial vitamins, minerals, and proteins. It’s good medicine for the whole body.

And my favorite way of taking my medicine is always by eating it in ridiculously tasty dishes. Hands down. Food is good.

Salt-free Herbal Gomasio

1 part nettle leaf
1 part celery seed
1 part sesame seed
1/2 part milk thistle seed
1/2 part fennel seed
1/2 part onion or garlic

Mix all the above in a small bowl. Place in an herb mill (or an empty salt or pepper grinder).

Other variations: try some dry citrus rind, pepper, or a small amount of mustard seeds. If you like seaweed, give it a whirl.

Feel free to post your own variations and ideas in the comments!

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Spring. The pushy season :)

Coming out of Winter and into Spring, you are in one moment marveling and giddy at the upward spokes of thrusting crocus, tiny fragile leaves huddling together on the muddy ground, and even (!!) some miraculous delicate blue and white blossoms no bigger than the tip of your pinky… and a moment later belligerently grumbling, dragging yourself out of the dark womb of home and hearth, hungry from a long winter, ready to eat, ready to be warm, ready to be ready already! I always am reminded that spring is that pushy season of rebirth—we are all infants again, once more learning to walk in the world, for the first time all over again, with all the ecstatic moments of bliss and crankiness of re-finding our feet.

Winter is not only a time of shorter days and longer nights, of huddling under layers of warm wool, wrapping your hands around warm mugs and bowls of savory rooty stews—it’s also a time of digesting mentally, sorting through the lessons of the year prior, mending and washing and folding our emotional laundry, which has been well-worn by hard work and good fun, and sometimes soiled with sadness, tinged by anger.

There’s a cathartic courage in stepping into spring, having done one’s dark-time homework, and facing bravely the wide world once more, inviting new experiences. With inspiration and input from my teacher and classmates at Sacred Plant Traditions, here is the infusion that I’ve put together—heartening, encourage-ing, nourishing, and soothing for the springing self.

Tea - a heartening spring blend

A heartening spring tea blend

1 rose petals
1 chamomile blossoms
1 motherwort
1 skullcap
1 1/2 nettle leaf
1/2 orange peel

Use the above proportions to make whatever amount you so desire. Steep tea for at least 10 minutes. Inhale. Enjoy.

Happy spring, everyone.

Tea blend for spring

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